Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Courageous Brides Collection releases on July 1. Join me and eight other authors on a blog tour. There will be a rafflecopter giveaway for a Kindle Fire. More details coming soon. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ten Romantic Books That Made Great Movies

I don’t want to talk about the same books time and again, so for this post I tried to find books I haven’t mentioned in earlier in my blog. I haven’t read all these books, but I have read most of them. Although there were some parts of these movies I didn’t like, overall I enjoyed watching them immensely. Here’s my list of ten romantic books that made great movies.  

A Farwell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway: I didn’t like how this one ended but I loved how the hero in this book went to such great lengths to protect the woman he loved, and his unborn child.

The Blue Lagoon by Henry De Vere Stacpoole: I love this movie. It came out when I was young so it took a few years before I could watch it, but when I did, I wasn’t disappointed. The love story is so sweet and innocent. The tropical location of this film is stunningly beautiful.   

Dances with Wolves by Michael Blake: The romance in this book. The positive portrayal of the Native American characters and the honest portrayal of the Old West make this movie a classic.

Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper: I hated the ending of this book, and the movie version made me cry, but I loved the characters, the clothes and all the romance and drama.

Legends of the Fall by Jim Harrison: I wasn’t fond of the heroine in this movie, but there was enough drama to keep me watching. This movie captured a heartbreaking and gritty portrayal of family life in the early 1900’s.

Love Comes Softly by Jeanette Oak: A faith-based classic with many great additions to the series, I loved how poignant this story is. Heartwarming elements of faith are subtly woven into the movie.

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory: Rich in drama, and tons of breathtaking period costumes, this was a great movie. The film was full of surprises and kept me on the edge of my seat.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman: This one doesn’t exactly qualify as a historical but there is a beautiful castle, lot of sword fighting, and period clothing. I loved the romance and the heroine’s name, Buttercup. Too cute.   

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne: This movie deviated from the book, but I think the romance between the characters really enhanced the movie version. Aside from the love story, there are points about this movie that make me be careful about judging people.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice may be the favorite of Jane Austin fans, but I love Sense and Sensibility. The plot twists kept me watching. I enjoyed watching Marianne find love again. Of course I loved those gorgeous period costumes.  


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ten Awesome Barbour Anthologies

A few years ago I posted some of my favorite anthologies from Barbour Publishing, but I’ve read countless more over the years. So, this time I’ve decided to narrow it down a bit and list some great “historical” four-in-one collections. This wasn’t easy, there are so many well-written stories, I could have listed twenty.

A Blue and Gray Christmas by Vickie McDonough, Lauralee Bliss, Tamela Hancock Murray, and Carrie Turansky: I love stories about the Civil War and this book was no exception. I loved how it gave different perspectives about Northerners and Sooutherners during that difficult time.

A Currier and Ives Christmas by Lyn Coleman, JoAnn Grote, DiAnn Mills, and Deborah Raney: I loved how these stories painted pictures of snowy Christmases. This is the perfect book to read in front of a fireplace during a snowstorm, with a cup of hot chocolate and a warm quilt, of course.   

Bound with Love by Joan Croston, Cathy Marie Hake, Kelly Eileen Hake, and Joyce Livingstone: These stories follow a Guttenberg Bible as it passed through the ages and from country to country. I especially liked the story set during WWII.

Brothers of the Outlaw Trail by DiAnn Mills, Tamela Hancock Murray, Lynette Sowell, and Kathleen Miller Y’barbo: This book, set during the Old West, tells the tales of four brothers who were outlaws. I loved how each one struggled through their own journey of personal growth. These are some great stories of redemption.   

Church in the Wildwoods by Paige Winship Dooly, Kristy Dykes, Pamela Griffin, and Debby Mayne: This is the first Christian romance I ever read. It changed the way I viewed romance. I never expected to see such a flawed hero grace the pages of a Christian novel. Silly me. The hero, a former bank robber and gang member, found Christ and changed his ways. The heroine saw a repentant man with a sincere heart for God. The congregation didn’t judge him by his past mistakes, but embraced him and became his friend. This book gave a phenomenal example of what a church should be. I know it taught me a thing or two.    

Colonial Courtships by Laurie Alice Eakes, Carla Olson Gade, Lisa Karon Richardson, and Amber Stockton: I had fun learning about ship-building when I read this book. For instance, I never knew that there were artists who specifically carved the figureheads for ships.

Missouri Memories by Kelly Eileen Hake, Joyce Livingston, DiAnn Mills, and Deborah Raney: The book focused on a house build along the Missouri River from when it was first built in the late 1800’s to Present Day. I especially like the story set in 1972, during the Vietnam War.

Stuff of Love by Dianna Crawford, Cathy Marie Hake, Kelly Eileen Hake, and Sally Laity: I like how these stories were set during WWII. Two of them were set in Copenhagen and knit together with threads of Danish culture, which really drew my interest.

Sweet Liberty by Paige Winship Dooly, Kristy Dykes, Pamela Griffin, and Debby Mayne: So many books by Barbour are set during the Christmas season, so when I saw this one centered around the 4th of July holidays, I picked it up. I enjoyed reading how the holiday was celebrated in different time periods and in different parts of the country.

Wildflower Brides by Andrea Boeshaar, Cathy Marie Hake, Sally Laity, and Pamela Kaye Tracy: I love stories set on the Oregon Trail. The stories were so seamlessly woven together it felt like I was on the trail with the characters, going west as they were, sharing in both their struggles and triumphs.

Romance is a common theme throughout all of these books and they’re interwoven with strong elements of faith which keeps me reading them.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Only 47 Books This Year 
I had so much fun last January blogging about the 52 books I read in 2014 I wanted to repeat the process. I had hoped to read another 52 books in 2015, but it didn’t work out that way. I only got through 47 of them this past year, but reading 47 books in twelve months is no small accomplishment.
Numbers usually swim around in my head like a mass of frantic minnows in a fish bowl, still I couldn’t resist the temptation to compare numbers between the past two years. Here are a few of the statistics.  

In 2014 my busiest month was March where I read 7 and ½ books. August was my slowest month I only got through one book. In 2015 the numbers were more spread out. In January, June, August and December I got through 5 books while February, April, July and November I only read 3.

One thing that hasn’t changed is how diverse my reading tastes are. Here’s a break-down of what genre’s I read this past year.

Memoirs and Biographies: 4
Nonfiction/True Crime Drama: 3
Children’s chapter books: 5
Mainstream Fiction: 3
General Romance: 3
Mainstream Christian Fiction: 2
Contemporary Christian Romance: 4

And the genre winner for most books read, Historical Christian Romance. This one is my obvious favorite with a whopping 23 books. The break-down in this category is:

Books set in the 1700’s: 1
Books set in the 1800’s: 13
Books set in the 1900’s: 7
Books set outside the USA in the 1900’s: 2

For the year 2016, we’re only as far as January, but I’m already wondering what the statistics are going to look like next year.       

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Top Ten Favorite
Books on the Craft of Writing
To commemorate NaNoWriMo, I decided to list my favorite writing books. I participated in the National Novel Writing Month once . . . once. Yes, I completed my novel, but I can say with all honesty, getting as much outlining and characterization done ahead of time can make all the difference. Here’s a list of books I thought might help.

A Novel Idea Best Advice on Writing Inspirational Fiction by Jerry B. Jenkins, Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, and a host of other well known authors: This is the only craft book I read in 2014, but boy is it great. These authors collaborate to bring the reader articles on writing. The Fundamentals of Fiction section contains advice on writing plot, characters, and point of view. Section two is all about Developing Your Craft; section three is specifically geared toward Writing Christian Fiction and section four deals with Networking and Marketing. There is so much information in this book, it’s a must read for any aspiring Inspirational writer.

Break into Fiction by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love: I had the joy of attending an all-day workshop presented by Mary Buckham. I consider her an inspiring teacher, so it’s no surprise that I found her book thought-provoking. I love how this book asks questions at the end of each section and gives space to answer those questions. It really makes the reader think about what they’re writing. It’s great for helping Pansters like me actually do a bit of plotting.

The Complete Writers Guide to Heroes and Heroines by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders: If you need help with characterization this book will be an immense help. It breaks down characters into archetypes and describes what each type would be like. I like how this book uses characters from movies to demonstrate the traits in various character types.     

Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr.and E.B. White: This isn’t the biggest writing book on the block, but it’s packed with information on grammar and punctuation. These things are not my strong suit so referencing this book is a must for me.

Eleven Senses- Who Knew? by Marilyn Kelly: Like a sensory thesaurus for things like heat and sound, this is a book I refer to time and again. Within these pages is the most exhaustive list of colors I have found anywhere, as well as a multitude of synonyms for words like walk, said, and turn. It also includes words associated with temperature, balance and time. It’s an awesome resource for writers who need a “fresh” word to describe something in their manuscripts.       

Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript by Cynthia Laufenberg: This book gives examples of what to do, and what not to do when presenting your manuscript to an agent and editor. It also gives sample cover letters, query letters, and book proposals for everything from screenplays, to children’s picture books, to poetry. This book is a must for the submission process.   

[Romance-ology 101] Writing Romantic Tension for the Inspirational and Sweet Markets by Julie Lessman: If you’re someone who blushes as the mere hint of anything erotic, this book will help. I especially like the section on Appropriate “Bleep” Words for Inspirational Romance. There are lists of Mild Derogatory Names and Mild Expressions which I’ve referenced countless times. I also learned how to create passion between characters without being too graphic or tasteless.

 On Writing by Stephen King: Okay, I haven’t finished this one, but given King’s talent as a writer it’s at the top of my list of books to complete. I do love his rags to riches story and find it very inspiring. There are several examples of his writing, complete with edits, which I find helpful.

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass: This is a very in-depth book for writers. There are whole chapters designated to Plot Techniques and Advanced Plot Structures. What I like is the workbook with various writing exercises, that accompanies Writing the Breakout Novel. This gives authors the opportunity to really think, and plot out, their book.

Writing the Christian Romance by Gail Gaymer Martin: One of the first craft books I read, it deals with exactly what I write, Christian romance. The chapters are very insightful, and give helpful advice, on weaving elements of faith into a romantic novel. The chapter on Point-of-View really helped me as a beginner.

Are you planning on participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Do you have any craft of writing books that are helpful to you? What makes them beneficial to you as a writer?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Top Ten Favorite Children’s Classics
To commemorate kids everywhere going back to school, I thought I’d blog on my favorite children’s classic books, and why they are my favorites. It wasn’t easy narrowing it down to ten. I could have easily listed twenty.

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White: I think this story illustrates what it means to be a true friend, which is a great lesson for kids and adults alike. I still get teary-eyed when I see the movie.

Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobel: I can remember being a kid and having these books read to me. I always enjoyed trying to solve the mysteries of this young and amateur, yet highly intelligent sleuth.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein: I didn’t discover this heartwarming classic until someone gave it to me when my oldest son was born. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read it to my kids. A story of sacrificial love that still makes me cry when I read it.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss: I remember reading this when I was a small child, and then reading it to my kids years later. I love the whole underlying message of being brave enough to try something new, even if it’s scary.

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown: This is another classic I didn’t discover until adulthood when I read it to my kids. A sweet simple story for young children, my kids never got tired of hearing it.

Heidi by Joanna Johanna Spyri: I read this as a kid and loved it. Then I saw the movie with Shirley Temple and read it again. Like Heidi, this country girl would prefer the outdoor mountain air to the big city living, any day.

Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell: I skimmed through this one as a kid, but appreciated it more when I reread it as an adult. It’s a great story of adventure and survival that I really enjoyed.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder: I can’t say enough good things about this series. They are some of my all time favorite children’s classics. I can’t count the number of times I read them as a kid and as an adult. They’re historically educational, and teach good morals, too.

Thumbelina by Hans Christian Andersen: I really like fairy tales by this author, and Thumbelina is no exception. I love the free-spirited, sense of adventure this character has.

Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne: My kids had both books and movies of Winnie the Pooh. It was one of their favorites, and mine. The characters are adorable.

I could have easily listed additional books; there are so many great ones out there. I think it’s important to read to your kids and instill in them the love of good books. I believe reading is a positive attribute that will take them far in life.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Top Ten Favorite Dear America Books

I love this series of books. Not only do they give a spotlight a specific time in history but they offer lessons in geography, too. Told from a child’s perspective, they give honest and moving portrayals to very important milestones in our nation’s history. Here are my favorites in alphabetical order.

Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie; The Oregon Trail Diary of Hattie Campbell: This book described in detail the dangers of traversing the Oregon Trail. I nearly cried when several beloved characters perished. It also offered simple lessons in loss and forgiveness.

A Journey to the New World; The Diary of Patience Remember Whipple: This book made me realize how hard it was founding this country. The work seemed never-ending, and the sacrifices made by everyone, including children, tugged at my heartstrings.

A Picture of Freedom; The Diary of Clotee a Slave Girl: The character in this book was brave beyond description. Not only was she a slave girl who knew how to read and write, but she kept a diary and took great risks to write in it.

The Great Railroad Race; The Diary of Libby West: I learned something when I read this book. One, that Hell on Wheels was a real community that traveled behind the railroad camp. I guess working, and traveling, on the early railroads was dangerous business.

One Eye Laughing, The Other Weeping; The Diary of Julie Weiss; The first half of this book took place in Vienna Austria. I hadn’t seen that in other Dear America books. The last half is set in New York City. I really felt the danger this character was in while living in Europe while Hitler reigned. Although I rejoiced to see her escape Hitler’s clutches, at that point, her heartbreak wasn’t over.  

Survival of the Storm; The Dust Bowl Diary of Grace Edwards: This book gave me the clearest picture I had of what it was like to live in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. People in that area, during that time, had a very real and justified fear of the terrible storms. Still, they found ways to survive, like eating jack rabbits for dinner, and wearing clothing made from donated material.     

Voyage on the Great Titanic; The Diary of Margaret Ann Brady: The character in the book made me feel like I was actually on board the Titanic. She described in detail the Grand Staircase, right down to the mahogany steps and the intricate carvings of the hand-made clock.   

When Will This Cruel War Be Over; The Civil War Diary of Emma Simpson: There is a gritty honesty on the pages of this book regarding how hard it was for the women left behind while their men were off fighting the Civil War. The suffering they endured was heart wrenching.

Where Have All the Flowers Gone; The Diary of Molly MacKenzie Flaherty: I loved how this book was set in the 1960’s. I haven’t seen too many that are. The character Molly is honest in her feelings regarding the Vietnam War. I thought it was very mature of her to understand both sides of the debate.
The Winter of Red Snow; The Revolutionary War Diary of Abigail Ann Stewart: I learned just how much the surrounding communities helped the soldiers during those cold hard winters during the Revolutionary War. The sacrifices they made, the great loss of life, made me appreciate the freedoms we have today.

Join me next month when I post my favorites in children’s literature.