Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I Said Yes with All My Heart

On March 18th, he smiled at me. A virtual smile through eHarmony, followed up with some multiple-choice questions. I was intrigued enough to respond...and when he later answered some open-ended questions I chose for him, I was smitten. This was a man of faith, a humble man who could see God at work in his life and express his insights well through writing.

We spent the next two months falling in love through our words. Emails. Texts. Phone calls. Skype sessions. Handwritten letters.

Memorial Day weekend arrived...and so did Josh, standing there in person for the first time at the airport. I was worried I might not recognize him. I needn't have been. :)


We spent our Saturday out at the coast, walking a trail, sitting by a waterfall, and visiting my favorite lighthouse. We were awkward. We didn't quite know how to navigate the newness of finally being together. But we learned, and it was as sweet and silly and emotional and wonderful as a first real date ought to be.

Then summer came, and with it a series of delightful visits. Vacation with my family in the high desert of Central Oregon. Trips to see him in Washington. Trips to see me.

We meandered through a garden. Explored a lava cave. Went on hikes. Canoed under the stars. Enjoyed a festival with friends. Took a road trip down the coast, viewing a couple more lighthouses along the way.


We experienced some great highs and some tough lows through the summer and into the fall. Quite the new adventure, falling deeper in love while still being hundreds of miles apart. But God has been there through it all, reminding us what love means...showing us new levels of humility...growing us closer together as the seasons changed.

We talked about marriage, about a forever commitment. We spent Thanksgiving together with some of his relatives, with so very much to be grateful for, even in an in-between time.

He completed another difficult quarter of school with success, getting closer and closer to realizing his dream of being an airplane mechanic. And right after his last class before Christmas break, he hopped in his car to head south, trying to beat a winter storm on his way to surprise me with a visit he had been secretly planning for months.

The storm beat him instead.

That evening he called me, devastated that his plans had fallen apart. But God gave us a Christmas miracle early this year. :)

Despite the snow and ice covering the roads, Josh made it safely back home the next morning. We both knew it would be too dangerous for him to try to drive down to see me. He didn't give up, though. He had been able to book a seat on a flight that afternoon...a flight that kept getting delayed as the weather continued to conspire against us.

The odds were high that he would get stuck in an airport overnight, but he got on the plane regardless. And in an answer to prayers, his second flight was delayed long enough for him to make the connection!

We had dinner that night with dear friends of mine who hosted Josh for the weekend. And the next day, Josh was able to carry out his special plans with another outing to the coast.


We had breakfast in a restaurant by the ocean. Took a walk along the beach. Browsed some favorite little shops. And finally made our way to that favorite lighthouse of mine, the one we visited together back in May.

On a trail above the lighthouse, Josh got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. I said yes with all my heart!

So now we're entering a new season, one full of uncertainties and newness and incredible possibilities as we start to plan our wedding and our new life together. But God has brought us to this place, and we trust Him to watch over us in all the days and adventures to come.

I couldn't ask for a better companion for the journey. ♥

Thank you, friends, for letting me share my story with you. :) I hope you all have a beautiful Christmas full of reminders that God is at work and very near!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Litfuse Publicity Tour: Waiting for Wonder



About the Book

What if, in this waiting, God is calling us to more? 

It’s easy to believe God when a promise is new. It’s hard when the years pass and nothing changes. It’s even harder when desperation strikes, your plans backfire, and still God does not fill the emptiness. But what if, in this waiting, God is calling us to more?

Join author Marlo Schalesky on a unique, contemplative journey to reveal the wonder that is often missed when we find ourselves struggling to wait well. Walking through the life of the biblical character Sarah, one who knows what it means to wait, you will discover a glimpse of God’s character that will give you strength to keep hoping and praying for the desires of your heart.

Waiting for Wonder is a journey into the heart of God where you will wrestle with personal questions, think deeply about God’s true character, and learn to appreciate His divine work as you discover your own path to the promised land. Recapture your hope, restore your soul, and renew your vision of a wondrous Savior when you learn to live on God’s time.


My Review

I think the best thing about this book is the perspective it offers. There are some gems throughout these pages, beautiful thoughts that remind us of the real, unexpected rewards of waiting and the peace of knowing God is in control in the long "in between" seasons.

The truth is that all of life is an "in between" season, and I love the chapter that discusses how "arrivals" on earth can't live up to all we expect them to be. As the author notes, what we're longing for isn't a place so much as a Person. (I love that!) When we focus on growing our relationship with God, learning to trust in Him more and love Him deeper, then the waiting times are full of promise and meaning.

There's a lot to encourage your heart in this journey through the life of Sarah (from the book of Genesis) and in the stories the author shares from personal experiences. I do admire the creativity of the book's layout, how there are fictional takes on Sarah's defining moments to add more emotion to the lessons, and how the highlights of Sarah's story offer some interesting takeaways.

I think there is a bit of a problem in using Sarah's life as a template. Our own journeys might look quite different than Sarah's. We weren't all given the same sort of promise she and Abraham were given, and there are longings we have that might be fulfilled in vastly different ways or never really fulfilled in this world.

Granted, I don't think the book is necessarily suggesting we expect the same results as Sarah received. :) But I do think it's good to be cautious in how we apply her story and what we take from it. And I also confess that the poetic nature of the writing in this book makes it feel a bit repetitive at times.

Even still, this is an uplifting read that points to an amazing God who works in perfect timing, blesses us in bigger ways than we often look for, and lovingly, amazingly joins us in the wait.

*With thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion, to be shared during the Litfuse Publicity blog tour.*

About the Author

Marlo Schalesky is an award-winning author of ten books, including Wrestling with Wonder: A Transformational Journey Through the Life of Mary. A regular speaker and columnist, she has also published nearly 1,000 articles in various Christian magazines, including Focus on the Family, Today’s Christian Woman, In Touch, and Marriage Partnership. Marlo lives with her husband, six young children, nine horses, two dogs, five cats, two parakeets, ten rabbits, two chinchillas, three hamsters, and a bunch of fish in a log home in Salinas, California.

Litfuse Tour Page: click HERE

Giveaway!

Be encouraged to find strength and hope in Marlo Schalesky's new book, Waiting for Wonder. Journey into the heart of God where you will wrestle with personal questions, think deeply about God’s true character, and learn to appreciate His divine work as you discover your own path to the promised land. Recapture your hope, restore your soul, and renew your vision of a wondrous Savior when you learn to live on God’s time.

Learn the true purpose of waiting on God and living on His timeline and enter to win Marlo's giveaway.

waiting-for-wonder-400 
One grand prize winner will receive:
  • Two copies of Waiting for Wonder (one for you and one to give to a friend)
  • A KEEP Collective watch set (with a band and watch)
waiting-for-wonder-collage 
Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on December 23. The winner will be announced December 27 on Marlo's blog.

waiting-for-wonder-enterbanner

Friday, December 9, 2016

Creative Fairy-Tale Retellings with Thought-Provoking Alterations | Review of Once



About the Collection

Six fairytales you thought you knew, set against a tapestry of historical backgrounds.

A lonely girl plots revenge in the shadow of a mountain. A stolen princess fumbles a century backward. A dwarfish man crafts brilliant automatons. A Polish Jew strikes matches against the Nazis. A dead girl haunts a crystal lake. A terrified princess searches a labyrinth. A rich collection of six historically inspired retellings, Once is a new generation of fairytales for those who thought they'd heard the tales in all their forms.

Featuring the novellas of Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J Grace Pennington, Emily Ann Putzke, Suzannah Rowntree, and Hayden Wand.

Available Now!

My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

Creative fairy-tale retellings. A group of fabulously talented indie authors. Diverse historical settings and rich characterization. The Once collection has a lot going for it!

I love that each story offers its own unique reading experience...

The Mountain of the Wolf is a very atmospheric Western, with dangers from more than one kind of wolf and a tender, romantic twist.

She But Sleepeth takes lots of turns and raises some interesting what-if questions about the course of history, the things we value most, and the dreams that don't come true.

Rumpled offers an emotionally authentic journey from an ordinary life to a happily-ever-after with a steep cost. I think this might be my favorite of the collection (although it's tough to choose!) because of the powerful lessons learned and the satisfying way everything comes together.

Sweet Remembrance is a tough, bittersweet read, gently told, with past and present scenes tightly interwoven.

Death Be Not Proud kept me guessing, and I confess that I'm still not quite sure I understand exactly how it all went down and why certain characters acted the way they did. ;) But the great writing and the intense suspense certainly held my attention! This story might require more than one read to fully appreciate.

With Blossoms Gold has really sweet main characters, a cat companion, an epic quest, and some wonderful character growth. A lovely tale that solidifies my admiration for this author's writing style and skill.

All in all, this collection offers plenty of variety in its stories, from tone and setting to the type of ending. If you enjoy fairy-tale retellings with strong characters and thought-provoking alterations, you should find much to love in Once.

*With thanks to the authors for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of the book. This review is my honest opinion.*

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Behind the Scenes of Intermission with Serena Chase (Author Interview + Giveaway)


I'm pleased to welcome author Serena Chase to "Seasons of Humility"! I had the opportunity to ask her a few questions regarding her latest release, a contemporary young-adult romance titled Intermission. (You can read my review and learn more about the book HERE.)

Enjoy the interview, and don't forget to enter the tour-wide giveaway at the end of the post!

* * *

Amber: How exciting that you’ve made the leap into contemporary fiction, Serena! What was one of the hardest things about switching genres—and something you found especially enjoyable/rewarding about the journey? 

Serena: While writing the first draft of this book, I was also revising The Ryn and The Remedy, the first two books in my Eyes of E’veria fantasy series. Because this was a different genre, based in a contemporary, “real” world, it was actually kind of a relief, a necessary break from the fantasy world, to escape back into reality—if only a fictional one, haha—to work on it.

Amber: What is your history with musical theatre? And do you have a favorite Broadway production? :) 

Serena: I’ve always loved musical theatre. When I lived in Kalona, Iowa as a child, I started taking dance at age five. When an ecumenical children’s choir started up in town a couple of years later, I signed up. Our children’s choir performances always had some aspect of drama—speaking roles, narration, that sort of thing—and my first “big” role was as the narrator of one of the Christmas productions.

When I was in sixth grade, the local high school was seeking elementary students (sixth grade was still considered part of the elementary back then!) to play pickpockets/Fagin’s boys in Oliver! I tried out and made it! I had one line, reporting to Fagin what I managed to steal that day: “Nose rags.” Ha! 

We moved to a new town when I was in eighth grade. In high school I played a nameless teen in Bye Bye Birdie as a freshman, a pickpocket in Oliver! (again!—but this time I had a different line and sang in a trio) as a sophomore, and then was cast as “Liesl” in The Sound of Music as a junior and as “Ruth” in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as a senior. The summer between my junior and senior years, I played “Lily,” an angel who comes to earth as a valley girl, in a Christian musical organized in another town, and as an adult I’ve participated in church and community theatre productions, playing roles like “Margie” in State Fair and “Eliza Doolittle” in My Fair Lady.

I love live theatre, but since it’s usually a 3-5 hour drive to get to a show (and touring season is generally winter—not a great time to plan a road trip in Iowa!) I don’t have the opportunity very often. *sadness* Of all the shows I’ve seen over the years, Les Miserables is my favorite. There are honest tears in certain scenes. The movie was okay, and yes, I own it, but the energy and emotion of a live performance cannot be duplicated.


Amber: I love seeing where some of the scenes and character inspiration for Intermission came from (based on the connections between your experiences and your story)! :) Thank you for sharing!

What’s one of your dreams you wished you had pursued earlier—or at all? What’s one of your dreams come true?

Serena: Hmm. I wish I would have been more confident and would have performed more in college, when I lived in Nashville. This little, small-town fish was suddenly tossed in a big pond of super talented fish, and...it was very intimidating!

One of my dreams-come-true has nothing to do with performance. At 22, I was told I might never have kids due to advanced endometriosis. The fact that I have two beautiful daughters, ages 19 and 15, is my best ever dream come true.

Amber: That’s so wonderful, Serena!

What encouragement would you give to someone who feels their dream is impractical? 

Serena: “Practical” is not the stuff of joy. Chase joy.

Amber: To conclude our interview, is there a fun behind-the-scenes story you can share with us? 

Serena: The current cover, which I absolutely adore, was designed by Jenny at Seedlings Design Studio, who is wonderful to work with. But by the time I discovered her, I had already paid one designer to create a cover I could not, would not use. (A cover for which one friend’s response was, “Is it a book about a stripper?” NOT what I was going for!)

That first designer—who was twice as expensive and shall rename nameless—refused my input, refused to change his initial concept, but only added (horrible) elements that looked totally cut-and-paste to try and placate me. The story would be *almost* funny now, except it was a very expensive learning experience with this moral: Even if the respected, online cover-art-judging folks hand a designer an award, it doesn’t mean they’re right for YOU. The fact that my bad experience led me to Jenny and Seedlings Design Studio, however, is the silver lining! She is amazing.

Amber: I’m happy that story has a happy ending! :) The final cover is simply gorgeous! Thank you for joining us today, Serena!


Find Intermission:

Giveaway!

From the author: Five winners will receive a signed paperback (or a Kindle copy, if preferred) of Intermission. One Grand Prize winner will receive a signed paperback (or a Kindle copy, if preferred) of Intermission, plus a $40 Ticketmaster gift card.

Enter the giveaway using the form below!

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tender Love, Raw Emotions, and Powerful Perspective | Review of Intermission

Join me in offering a well-deserved round of applause to Serena Chase and Intermission, her foray into the world of contemporary young-adult fiction! I'm excited to share my review (along with the author's giveaway!) on this, the novel's official release day. :)


About the Book

Sixteen-year-old Faith Prescott eagerly awaits the day she will exchange her small Iowa hometown for the bright lights of Broadway, but her success-driven parents want her to pursue a more practical career, labeling “artsy” people—including their daughter—as foolish dreamers worthy of little more than disdain.

When Faith meets nineteen-year-old Noah Spencer she discovers someone who understands her musical theatre dreams . . . because he shares them.

Faith’s mother despises everything about Noah—his age, his upbringing . . . even his religious beliefs—and she grasps at every opportunity to belittle his plans to study theatre and pursue a stage career. When those criticisms shift further toward hostility, resulting in unjust suspicions and baseless accusations, an increasingly fearful stage is set for Faith at home, where severe restrictions and harsh penalties are put in place to remove Noah Spencer from her life.

But Faith has never connected with anyone like she has with Noah, and no matter how tight a stranglehold her mother enforces to keep them apart, Faith will not give him up. Behind the curtain, Faith’s love for Noah continues to grow . . . as does her determination to hold on to her dreams—and him—no matter how high the cost.

Available Now!

My Rating

Spring/Summer

My Review

While I'm nearly a decade older than Faith (the heroine) at the start of Intermission, certain themes of her story profoundly resonated with me. I have limited experience in the world of theater, and I didn't grow up with the same struggles Faith faces at home. But the ache of waiting, wondering, wanting...the eagerness to fast-forward life and the fear of what might be lost in life's intermissions...these are trials of a sort that many of us can relate to and remember, no matter our current stage.

The structure of Intermission is brilliant, clever, and poignant. In Act I, I enjoyed watching Faith and Noah's relationship unfold. The sweet moments. The tender introduction to romance. The way they inspire each other—not only in their career dreams, but (more importantly) in their acts of love and integrity.

In these scenes, real questions arise, the kind we really ask: What does it mean to obey God and honor my parents? Are my prayers genuine? Why did God bring me to this place of blessing, only to press pause or take me through more pain?

Seeing Faith (and Noah) wrestle with these questions moved me. And—as with all great fiction—it comforted me to spot reflections of my own feelings and uncertainties within these authentic characters.

As for that intermission and the act and conclusion that follow, I leave it to you to discover where the plot leads. I'll just say there are some twists in store. That's usually the case in life, isn't it?

With some beautiful descriptions mixed in to raw emotions, Intermission is a powerful read for those longing for hope, encouragement, and perspective in the midst of relational strife or difficult delays.

*With thanks to the author for providing me with a complimentary e-ARC of the book.*

Giveaway!

From the author: Five winners will receive a signed paperback (or a Kindle copy, if preferred) of Intermission. One Grand Prize winner will receive a signed paperback (or a Kindle copy, if preferred) of Intermission, plus a $40 Ticketmaster gift card.

Enter the giveaway using the form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Emma Read-Along: Conclusion (and Apology!)


Dear Friend,

I am sincerely sorry for the missing Week 3 discussion and the delayed Week 4 discussion! While things were a little busy on my end a couple of weeks ago, and I was out of town the weekend before last, I shouldn't have taken this long to catch up, especially as the hostess of this read-along. :( 

Thank you for being so kind and patient with me! I do look forward to exchanging thoughts on the last half of Emma. I hope you've enjoyed the book, even if the read-along wasn't as well-organized as it ought to have been!

Sincerely,
A Humbled Hostess

~ ~ ~

Welcome to the last discussion of the Emma read-along!

Today we're going to discuss Vol. II: ch. 11-18 and Vol. III. (If your copy isn't divided into volumes, then this should translate to ch. 29-55.) If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Emma read-along tag.) If you still have to catch up on some reading (believe me, I know how that goes!), you're welcome to check in later this week or whenever you're ready. :)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

~ ~ ~

Emma Volume II: Chapters 11-18 &
Volume III

Discussion Format: Favorite quotes, some general impressions, and four questions.

Favorite Quotes
  • "Is Mrs. Stokes to be trusted? I doubt it." ~ Mr. Woodhouse
[I admit, it was funny seeing my last name pop up unexpectedly in the book!]
  • "There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart." ~ Emma
  • "It seemed as if there were an instantaneous impression in her favour, as if his eyes received the truth from her's, and all that had passed of good in her feelings were at once caught and honored."
  • "What did she say?—Just what she ought, of course. A lady always does."
  • "My Emma, does not every thing serve to prove more and more the beauty of truth and sincerity in all our dealings with each other?" ~ Mr. Knightley
  • "I always deserve the best treatment, because I never put up with any other." ~ Emma
[LOL]
  • "She was in dancing, singing, exclaiming spirits; and till she had moved about, and talked to herself, and laughed and reflected, she could be fit for nothing rational." 
General Impressions

Goodness, so much happened in the story since the last discussion! We left off when Frank Churchill and Emma were planning a ball...

I won't share my thoughts on every event of the second half of the book (although, fellow bloggers, you're more than welcome to go into more detail than me!). I will simply start by saying Emma has quite the happy ending! Three couples end up together exactly as they should, every concern is dealt with or set aside, and the characters get to enjoy the freedom of the truth finally coming to light. :)

That seems to be a major theme, the idea that there is much relief in having no more secrets. Openness is praised (Mr. Knightley admits, "I love an open temper") - whether that be honesty and forthrightness in one's speech and manners, or the "truth and sincerity in all our dealings" that Mr. Knightley believes Emma has also learned to desire.

While we see Emma retains her sassy personality by the end of the story, and she still loves attention, there does seem to be a seed of humility planted inside her. She and Mr. Knightley both admit to having changed, to being willing to see another person's point of view and claim that they were wrong about certain things. I love that. :)

(As a side note, can I just say that Mr. Knightley's terms of endearment for Emma at the end of the book make my heart melt? I love how he continually calls her "my Emma." ♥)

And I will say this for the book above the two adaptations I've seen: The book gave me more reason to like Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill. Was Frank Churchill childish and immature? Yes. Yes he was. And was Jane aloof and not always easy to get close to? Yes. Yes she was. Yet, I couldn't really help but like them as Emma and Mr. Knightley came to do so. Frank Churchill's obvious affection for Jane is pretty cute, and he is definitely a charmer. And the way Jane and Emma came to be friends as the truth was revealed was really quite sweet. I certainly couldn't help feeling bad for Jane! But hey, it all turned out all right. ;)

(That scene at the end where Frank Churchill teases Jane and makes her involuntarily smile from across the room? Precious!)

As for Harriet... Well, I don't really feel like I came to know much more about her in the latter half of the book. But I'm happy for her and Mr. Martin!

All in all, I don't think this is my favorite of Jane Austen's books that I've read... It's long; it goes into a lot of detail about circumstances and situations; the characters can be a bit frustrating; and everything seems to get tied up so neatly at the end. (It's probably silly for a romantic to complain about that last point, I suppose!)

But I will say that, in a way, I liked how flawed the characters were. I liked how truth and openness brought about much happiness. And I liked the cute and clever lines and scenes that made the story fun. I'm glad to have finally read this book! :)

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, three, or all four of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. What did you think of Mr. Elton's choice in a wife? And do you believe Mrs. Elton truly cared about Jane Fairfax?

2. Which scene of the story stood out to you the most? Perhaps one that made you chuckle...or one that melted your heart...or one that made you cringe with embarrassment.

3. Were you content with the matches that were made by the end of the story? Do you think everyone ended up in the right relationships?

4. Have you read any other Jane Austen novels? If so, which is your favorite, and how does Emma rank on your list?

Final Note

Once again, I truly apologize for the way the read-along fell apart toward the end! Thank you for sticking with me and joining me in this read-along. :) It's always a treat to discuss Jane Austen's books with you all! *hugs*

Friday, October 21, 2016

Lena Goldfinch's YA Triple Trick-or-Treat Cover Reveal + Giveaway


In  celebration of Lena Goldfinch’s upcoming release, HAUNTING JOY: BOOK 2, she’s revealing three brand-new book covers! The two HAUNTING JOY books are light paranormal stories, and SONGSTONE is a fantasy romance. All three books are sweet—and slightly spine-tingling—young adult reads, perfect for cozy autumn nights!


HAUNTING JOY: BOOK 1 

“A sweet and charming ghost story that completely won me over.” —Lena Coakley, Witchlanders 

Joy’s new dress has a secret—one with a little supernatural history, one that’s a little more than she expected.

It all starts one ordinary afternoon, when seventeen-year-old Joy tries on some thrift-store clothes. The little white dress fits perfectly. Trouble is, now it won’t leave her alone. Soon Joy is swept up in an extraordinary journey to help a ghost complete some unfinished business.

If only that didn’t involve Joy driving through dangerous intersections...
Or calling up her high-school crush, Nick...
Or getting stuck in a cemetery after dark.

Just how much is Joy willing to risk to uncover the truth?

Purchase:


HAUNTING JOY: BOOK 2 

Joy’s story continues with another ghost, this time a boy who seems intent on disrupting her senior year…

Coming soon!


SONGSTONE 

“An original fantasy world inhabited by superstitious tribal nations and intriguingly developed characters.” 
—Serena Chase, USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog 

A dark, twisty tale of sorcery, tummy-tingling romance, and adventure, inspired by the folklore of New Zealand's Māori people.

Kita can meld song into stone—a skill called “storytelling,” which is greatly honored in a world with no written word. But Kita is slave to a sorcerer who practices black magic using drops of her blood. She fears he’ll use her beautiful gift for a killing spell, so she conceals it. Yet each day, his magic tightens around her neck like a rope.

Then Pono, a young journeyman, arrives from the other side of the island. He’s come to fulfill a pact between their villages: to escort a storyteller back to his village. Finally, in Pono, Kita sees her one slim chance at freedom—and she’ll risk her life to take it.

Purchase:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LENA GOLDFINCH writes sweet historical western romance / inspirational romance and books for teens. She’s always been a sucker for a good old-fashioned romance, whether it’s a novel or short story, young adult or adult, fantasy or realistic, contemporary or historical. Lena has been a finalist in several national writing contests, including the RWA Golden Heart and ACFW Genesis contests. She enjoys life in a quiet, small town with her husband, two kids, and two very spoiled Black Labs.



GIVEAWAY

No tricks with this giveaway—just a treat for three lucky winners! Each winner will get a copy of one of Lena’s featured books (winner’s choice): Haunting Joy: Book 1; Haunting Joy: Book 2; OR Songstone.

Note: Paperback copies are only available to winners who are US residents. Ebook versions are available to all winners. 

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PERSONALITY QUIZ

Discover which hero from Lena’s YA books is your dream hero! Possible results include Nick from Haunting Joy, Pono from Songstone, Rundan from The Language of Souls, Jovanni from Aire, and Troy from Take a Picture.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Special Silver Book Birthday + Giveaway

Join me in wishing a happy book birthday to the second book in a poignant, dramatic, and romantic historical fiction series by Rachelle Rea Cobb! :) This two-week celebration includes an awesome giveaway too! So please read on to learn more about this series and to get your name in the drawing...

* * *


ABOUT The Steadfast Love SERIES 

In 16th-century Europe, the Reformation rages between Protestants and Catholics. Gwyneth, half-Dutch, flees from England to Holland to escape the man who murdered her parents. When he follows her there and insists he came to rescue her, will she trust this man called Dirk? When tragedy strikes, will their steadfast love erode?


ABOUT The Sound of Silver (Book Two)

The stalwart saint and the redeemed rebel. One fights for faith, the other for honor…

After Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers that faith is sometimes fragile—and hope is not as easy as it may seem. Gwyneth continues her quest to learn more about the love of God preached by Protestants she once distrusted.

Meanwhile, Dirk’s quest is to prevent his sullied name from staining hers. Will his choice to protect her prove the undoing of her first faltering steps toward a Father God? Once separated, will Dirk and Gwyneth’s searching hearts ever sing the same song?


Read my thoughts on The Sound of Silver (Book Two) and The Sound of Diamonds (Book One)!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Times gone by snatch Rachelle Rea Cobb close, so she reads and writes about years long ago—her passions include the Reformation, Revolutions, and romance. Rachelle wrote the Steadfast Love series during college. Five months after she graduated, she signed a three-book deal with her dream publisher, WhiteFire. She's a homeschool grad, Oreo addict, and plots her novels while driving around her dream car, a pick-up truck. In June 2016, she married a man with the same name as her fictional hero, and they live happily ever after in Small Town, South.



GIVEAWAY 

Enter using the Rafflecopter form below to win a beautiful necklace created by Baubles, Beads and Stuff and your choice of any one of Rachelle’s three books (the series begins in Book One, of course, but in case you have one or two of her books already, Rachelle will gladly send you the next one to read!). 

International friends, the paperback & necklace giveaway is open to continental U.S. addresses only (sorry!). But do still enter, because one international winner will also be chosen to receive an e-book.

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Emma Read-Along: Week 2 Discussion


Welcome to Week 2 of the Emma read-along! You can learn more about the read-along schedule in this invitation post.

Today we're going to discuss Vol. I: ch. 15-18 and Vol. II: ch. 1-10. (If your copy isn't divided into volumes, then this should translate to ch. 15-28.) If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Emma read-along tag.) If you still have to catch up on some reading, you're welcome to check in later this week or whenever you're ready. :)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

~ ~ ~

Emma Volume I: Chapters 15-18 &
Volume II: Chapters 1-10

Discussion Format: One favorite quote, some general impressions, and four questions for each week's reading.

Favorite Quote

Serious:

"[Emma] listened to [Harriet] and tried to console her with all her heart and understanding—really for the time convinced that Harriet was the superior creature of the two—and that to resemble her would be more for her own welfare and happiness than all that genius or intelligence could do."

Funny:

Miss Bates: "Do come in. Who do you think is here?—Miss Woodhouse and Miss Smith; so kind as to call to hear the new pianoforte. Do put up your horse at the Crown, and come in."

Mr. Knightley: "Well...for five minutes, perhaps."

Miss Bates: "And here is Mrs. Weston and Mr. Frank Churchill too!—Quite delightful; so many friends!"

Mr. Knightley: "No, not now, I thank you. I could not stay two minutes. I must get on to Kingston as fast as I can."

[Rather showing your hand there, aren't you, Mr. Knightley? ;)]

General Impressions

I've seen both the 1996 adaptation of Emma as well as the PBS Masterpiece miniseries version, and I confess that one of the really nice things about finally reading the book is achieving a better understanding of the little intrigues and nuances of the plot. The "Mr. Dixon" drama between Emma, Frank Churchill, and Jane Fairfax didn't quite make sense to me before. Now I think I have a better grasp of the situation, and I'm sure I'll get an even clearer picture of it all over the next two weeks.

I think I'm with Mr. Knightley in regards to Frank Churchill. Mr. Churchill seems to be acting more like a boy than a responsible man—a boy who likes playing mind/heart games and enjoys attention. And I'm over it. :P

To me, it seems Emma is genuinely torn between a true care for Harriet and the Martins, and a strong belief (i.e.: pride) in her own correct assessment of the proper outcome. I wish Harriet wouldn't be so easily swayed by her friend... I wish she could make up her own mind in this, while still showing respect for the thoughts and advice of others. It's painful to read about the interactions between Harriet and the Martins! There's such an obvious longing on both sides for things to have turned out differently. *sigh*

All in all, this was an interesting section to read, and I do like the complexity of all the characters, their quirks, strengths, and weaknesses. And if it isn't too improper to say this, I do admit it's rather fun reading Miss Bates's lines out loud, in a very rushed and frenzied manner. ;)

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, three, or all four of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. Has your opinion of Emma changed at all during this past week's reading? What stood out to you most about her words and thoughts regarding Harriet, Mr. Elton, Frank Churchill, and/or Jane Fairfax?

2. What are your first impressions of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill? Do you find one more intriguing/mysterious than the other?

3. Which character do you admire the most at this point?

4. If you were a character in this book, which character do you think you'd most like to be matched with from what we know about everyone so far? [I'm thinking romantically, but you can also say who would be your best match as a friend or relative. :)]

Join us next Sunday for our third discussion! 
(Vol. II: Ch. 11-18 & Vol. III: Ch. 1-6...OR Ch. 29-42)

UPDATE: Discussion post will likely be a few days late... My apologies!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Charming Story with a Dash of Danger | Review of The Silent Songbird



About the Book

Evangeline longs to be free, to live in the world outside the castle walls. But freedom comes at a cost.

Evangeline is the ward and cousin of King Richard II, and yet she dreams of a life outside of Berkhamsted Castle, where she might be free to marry for love and not politics. But the young king betroths her to his closest advisor, Lord Shiveley, a man twice as old as Evangeline. Desperate to escape a life married to a man she finds revolting, Evangeline runs away from the king and joins a small band of servants on their way back to their home village.

To keep her identity a secret, Evangeline pretends to be mute. Evangeline soon regrets the charade as she gets to know Wesley, the handsome young leader of the servants, whom she later discovers is the son of a wealthy lord. But she cannot reveal her true identity for fear she will be forced to return to King Richard and her arranged marriage.

Wesley le Wyse is intrigued by the beautiful new servant girl. When he learns that she lost her voice from a beating by a cruel former master, he is outraged. But his anger is soon redirected when he learns she has been lying to him. Not only is she not mute, but she isn’t even a servant.

Weighed down by remorse for deceiving Wesley, Evangeline fears no one will ever love her. But her future is not the only thing at stake, as she finds herself embroiled in a tangled web that threatens England’s monarchy. Should she give herself up to save the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

Releases November 8, 2016!

My Rating

Spring

My Review

For fun and easy reading, I can always count on Melanie Dickerson's books! And I always enjoy trying out each new fairy-tale retelling.

The Silent Songbird is a retelling of The Little Mermaid. While you won't find the ocean starring in this tale, you will find a water rescue and a heroine (Evangeline, or "Eva") with a beautiful singing voice.

Eva is an interesting character. At times I found her a bit immature, which made it hard to really dive deep into her story and cheer her on. But she is supposed to be rather young, and her insecurities have a way of making her endearing in time, especially combined with her innocence and moments of insight and growth.

The hero (Wesley), on the other hand, pretty much swept me off my feet. ;) Granted, he's not perfect, and he has his own moments of immaturity and obliviousness. Still, I found him to be quite sweet. His family's interactions are touching...and especially fun to read about if you're familiar with one of Dickerson's earlier books, The Merchant's Daughter!

While The Silent Songbird didn't turn out to be a favorite, it met my expectations for an entertaining historical read with generally charming characters and a good dash of danger.

*With thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for providing me with an e-ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Other Melanie Dickerson Books I've Reviewed...
The Healer's Apprentice | The Merchant's Daughter | The Fairest Beauty | The Princess Spy | The Golden Braid | The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest | The Beautiful Pretender {Possibly my favorite so far!} | A Spy's Devotion {Regency}

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Emma Read-Along: Week 1 Discussion


Welcome to Week 1 of the Emma read-along! You can learn more about the read-along schedule in this invitation post.

Today we're going to discuss chapters 1-14 (Volume I). If you came prepared, go ahead and share your thoughts in the comments section or in your own post! (Feel free to use the image above, linking back to the Emma read-along tag.) If you still have to catch up on some reading, you're welcome to check in later this week or whenever you're ready. :)

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

~ ~ ~

Emma Volume I: Chapters 1-14

Discussion Format: One favorite quote, some general impressions, and four questions for each week's reading.

Favorite Quote

"Vanity working on a weak head, produces every sort of mischief. Nothing so easy as for a young lady to raise her expectations too high." ~ Mr. Knightley

General Impressions

It's too bad Jane Austen has another book with "pride" in the title. Because I'm thinking this book might be deserving of such a title! We could call it Pride and Power or Pride and Performance. Emma does put on quite a show, doesn't she? ;)

The thing is, as much as Emma gets on my nerves now and then, I can't completely hate her character. For one thing, she displays a genuine love and protectiveness over her family (her father and sister), which we especially see during her sister's visit, when Mr. John Knightley puts Emma on edge.

She also displays rare moments of authenticity and vulnerability.

After a visit to "a poor sick family"...

These are the sights, Harriet, to do one good. How trifling they make every thing else appear!—I feel now as if I could think of nothing but these poor creatures all the rest of the day; and yet, who can say how soon it may all vanish from my mind?
(She displays real compassion to this family, we're told, and she's affected by the visit. But she also acknowledges how easy it is to move on and lose sight of the misfortune of others.)

And during her argument with Mr. Knightley about Harriet Smith and Robert Martin...

I know that such a girl as Harriet is exactly what every man delights in—what at once bewitches his senses and satisfies his judgment. Oh! Harriet may pick and choose. Were you, yourself, ever to marry, she is the very woman for you.
(This is in response to Mr. Knightley saying, "Better be without sense, than misapply it as you do." Perhaps I'm reading too much into Emma's reply, but I sense almost a bitterness here. She knows that Harriet has a "real, thorough sweetness of temper and manner, a very humble opinion of herself," which she feels is something men truly desire. And I think Emma is self-aware enough to realize that her character in this regard is very different than Harriet's. In fact, she even jokingly tells her little niece in Mr. Knightley's hearing, "Little Emma, grow up a better woman than your aunt. Be infinitely cleverer and not half so conceited" [emphasis mine]. I just wonder if she feels that she isn't entirely what men desire...if perhaps there's a self-consciousness and fear beneath all the logical reasons she gives for not being married.)

Emma is smart, funny, loving, and very much human, and so I like her character for these reasons. But I feel like I have a lot to learn from the very-much-human side of her that displays a LOT of pride and vanity.

A farmer can need none of my help, and is therefore in one sense as much above my notice as in every other he is below it.
How can Emma imagine she has any thing to learn herself, while Harriet is presenting such a delightful inferiority?
I must see somebody very superior to any one I have seen yet, to be tempted [to marry]... I would rather not be tempted. I cannot really change for the better.

I know there is plenty more in the story to talk about (and I'm curious to hear what stood out most to you!), but since I feel like humility is a running theme in my life (as something I need to continually learn and grow in)—it's even in my blog title :) —I wanted to take a moment to address Emma's pride.

How easy it is to let pride creep into our relationships. To feel like it's all about us and our accomplishments and the things we feel we "deserve." Granted, there is the other extreme that always gives without being restored and refuses to stand up when things are wrong. But I think I find it easier, myself, to fall into the prideful spectrum. I think this line from the first chapter is something I can relate to...

The real evils indeed of Emma's situation were the power of having rather too much her own way, and a disposition to think a little too well of herself.

All that to say, I see Emma's tale as a bit of a cautionary one, and I'm sure there's a lot still to learn from her story!

Discussion Questions

Feel free to answer one, two, three, or all four of these questions in the comments section or in your own blog post!

1. What are your first impressions of Mr. Knightley and his relationship with Emma? Do his words about her and his attitude toward her suggest genuine care or a sense of superiority?

2. Mr. Knightley tells Emma, "You have been no friend to Harriet Smith" (ch. 8). To what degree do you agree or disagree with this statement based on Emma's thoughts and actions?

3. Who is your favorite secondary character so far? (Someone besides Emma or Mr. Knightley.) What do you admire or find interesting about that character?

4. Which Woodhouse do you most closely match: Emma, her sister (Isabella), or her father?

Join us next Sunday for our second discussion! 
(Vol. I: Ch. 14-18 and Vol. II: Ch. 1-10)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

The Emma Read-Along Begins...


Today marks the beginning of the Emma read-along! For all the details of our schedule, please visit the invitation post. Our first discussion (on chapters 1-14) will take place next Sunday, October 9th. If you'd like to break up the reading evenly, two chapters per day ought to do it. :)

If you're on Twitter, you can join the continuous conversation using the #EmmaReadAlong hashtag. Feel free to tweet your favorite quotes, update the group on your reading progress, share some quick thoughts each day, or simply let others know the read-along is happening!

And to get us off to a fine start, we have a giveaway! What might make your reading experience this month even more enjoyable? How about a pumpkin spice latte? (Or, if you're a non-coffee person like me, a hot chocolate?) Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter for a chance to win a $10 Starbucks gift card!

Fine print: Giveaway open to those 18 years old or older. (But void where prohibited by law.) Drawing ends at midnight PT on October 9, 2016. Prize to be delivered via email. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 26, 2016

You're Invited to the Emma Read-Along


Dear Friend, 

Are you longing to savor a classic tale on sunny autumn afternoons and chilly fall nights? Have you been eager to become acquainted (or reacquainted) with the refined world of Jane Austen? Then please accept this invitation to join fellow book-lovers for a read-along of Emma, beginning Sunday, October 2nd, and concluding Sunday, October 30th. 

The schedule will proceed as follows...
  • Week 1 ~ Read Vol. I: Ch. 1-14
  • Week 2 ~ Finish Vol. I // read Vol. II: Ch. 1-10
  • Week 3 ~ Finish Vol. II // read Vol. III: Ch. 1-6
  • Week 4 ~ Finish Vol. III
Thus we shall read about 14 chapters a week (or 2 per day). Discussions will be held on Sundays...
  • Week 1 Discussion: October 9th
  • Week 2 Discussion: October 16th
  • Week 3 Discussion: October 23rd
  • Week 4 Discussion: October 30th
It would be a delight to see you here next Sunday (October 2nd) to launch this grand event! And together we shall do our best to make this a fun experience for all. (Perhaps a Twitter watch-along is in order, as well?)

Sincerely,
A Fellow Reader

P.S. Please feel free to take the button above and share it on your blog or social media page to announce your participation in the read-along! You can also join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #EmmaReadAlong.

P.P.S. Would you like to see how a Jane Austen read-along works? I invite you to peruse past posts: Persuasion and Prayers Read-Along; Northanger Abbey Read-Along

Sunday, September 25, 2016

My Life According to Literature: A Borrowed Book Tag

This tag was recently shared by the creative Courtney (The Green Mockingbird), and was previously shared by the clever Kara (Flowers of Quiet Happiness). Apparently, according to a comment I wrote on Kara's blog, I had been inspired to post about this tag back in March...but well, here I am in September! Oh well. I'm glad Courtney posted about it recently so I could be re-inspired!

The goal of the game is to use book titles to respond to the given prompts. I'll be using titles from books I've read so far this year. So grab a macaron and enjoy a slice of my life... ;)


* * *

Describe yourself: Made Perfect in Weakness

(God's grace is sufficient for me! See 2 Corinthians 12:9. ♥)

How you feel today: Spell Bound

(Aren't we all a little out of it on Sundays? And I started an interesting paranormal book last night I want to finish soon that has me "spell bound"!)

Describe where you currently live: Lost Lake House

(Okay, not really. But there's a lake somewhat nearby...)

If you could go anywhere, you would go to: Mountain Hideaway

(Sounds lovely, especially if the cabin were surrounded by gorgeous fall foliage!) 

Your favorite form of transportation: Sofi's Bridge

(Bridges offer a nice way of getting from here to there.)

Your best friend is: Anchor in the Storm

(The best kind of friend is one who's there for you in the hard times, right?)

You and your friends are: Scary Close

What the weather is like: Blue Like Jazz

You fear: The End of the World

The best advice you have to give: Breathe In

Thought for the day: Love Does

How you would like to die: A Daring Sacrifice

(Well, at least I'd like to be willing to die this way, if need be!)

Your soul's present condition: Broken Things to Mend

(Because God is faithful to continue mending the broken and sinful places within.)

* * *

As far as I know, this tag can continue to live on as long as people keep sharing it! So feel free to have a go - it's a lot of fun! :)

Side note: I knew I had done something like this before! I've actually already shared a couple of "fill in the blank" posts like this. You can read them HERE and HERE if you're interested in more bookish games!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

YA Fantasy with Enchanting Style | Review of Unblemished



About the Book

Eliyana has always recoiled from her own reflection in the mirror. But what if that were only one Reflection—one world? What if another world existed where her blemish could become her strength?

Eliyana is used to the shadows. With a hideous birthmark covering half her face, she just hopes to graduate high school unscathed. That is, until Joshua hops a fence and changes her perspective. No one, aside from her mother, has ever treated her as normal. Maybe even beautiful. Because of Joshua, Eliyana finally begins to believe she could be loved.

But one night her mother doesn’t come home, and that’s when everything gets weird.

Now Joshua is her new, and rather reluctant, legal Guardian. Add a hooded stalker and a Central Park battle to the mix and you’ve gone from weird to otherworldly.

Eliyana soon finds herself in a world much larger and more complicated than she’s ever known. A world enslaved by a powerful and vile man. And Eliyana holds the answer to defeating him. How can an ordinary girl, a blemished girl, become a savior when she can’t even save herself?

Releases October 11, 2016!

My Rating

Spring

My Review

Unblemished is a very interesting young-adult fantasy read! The story begins in modern-day New York with the heroine, Eliyana, in a state of shock and mourning at the loss of her mom. But grief quickly gives way to confusion and fear when friends become strangers...and strangers may or may not prove to be trustworthy.

This could potentially be a *spoiler* (you've been warned!), but let me just jump right in and say that this story pretty much contains the Mother of All Love Triangles. Now, some readers might be completely turned off to such things in this genre. I confess I don't always mind them, depending on how they're handled. This one certainly has some intriguing twists and plenty of suspense as to who really belongs with our heroine. (I believe I do have a favorite...but  my lips are sealed, at least in this review!)

Speaking of the heroine...Eliyana makes for an interesting narrator. Unfortunately, I didn't find her entirely likable for the majority of the book, but I wasn't so bothered that I couldn't keep enjoying the story. Her preference for periods (all. the. time.) was a bit annoying, although it does make the voice distinctive, and I can appreciate that. And, despite the things that are left up in the air, I did like how Eliyana was portrayed at the very end.

You'll find some YA cliches in this story, but there's enough uniqueness and depth to make Unblemished stand out. One of the ways this story really shines is through the descriptions of the settings and the characters' emotions. The imagery is familiar and yet slightly foreign...vivid...enchanting. The author's individual style is evident in the writing. And the musical references and metaphors are a nice touch!

All in all, this YA fantasy debut has some great writing, dramatic romance, and an entertaining adventure to offer.

*With thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for providing me with an e-ARC of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Will Kennedy Survive This Deadly Obsession? (Indie Author Interview + Giveaway!)


Purchase on Amazon.com: Paperback | Kindle ebook

Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to a blogging friend (Just Your Average Reviews) and fellow indie author, Caitlyn Santi! She recently released a brand-new novella. :) Learn all about it in this fun interview, and enter for a chance to win an ebook copy at the end of the post!

* * *

Amber: Welcome to Seasons of Humility, Caitlyn! Your new release is a young-adult Christian suspense novella titled Deadly Obsession. Could you share a little about the star character, Kennedy? What makes her shine—and what are some of the challenges she faces?

Caitlyn: Thank you so much for having me, Amber! :)

Well, Kennedy is a 17-year-old girl and an FBI agent, and I think she may be the most fascinating and complex character I've written so far. She was a lot of fun to write because she is definitely a teenager personality-wise, but there are also many times when she displays a maturity beyond her years.

Kennedy is very passionate and determined in her mission to do whatever she can to get predators who target teens off the streets. When the book opens Kennedy has just set up a sting operation to catch an online predator, and she appears a bit cocky and overly sure of herself, but we soon discover that because of a tragedy in her past, Kennedy has a large amount of anger simmering beneath the surface. That anger has led her to become an FBI agent and turn her back on God. Kennedy also struggles to balance life as a teenager with that of an FBI agent, and things only get more complicated when someone begins stalking her.

Amber: One of the big themes of this story has to do with the love between siblings. What made you decide to focus on this sort of relationship? What makes such a relationship truly special?

Caitlyn: My brother and I have a bond that I truly treasure, and I've always wanted to write a story about siblings. But honestly, the fact that it became a part of this book was a total God thing because when I started writing this story I had no idea that it would be about siblings until all of a sudden Kennedy's older brother, Wyatt, appeared on the page, and just like that the story changed for the better.

Kennedy and Wyatt are best friends, they are always there for each other, and truly love and respect each other, but of course no sibling relationship would be complete without a lot of back-and-forth banter and good-natured teasing, which was an absolute joy to write. Wyatt is also intensely overprotective of his baby sis and Kennedy tends to be quite independent, so that makes for a super fun dynamic.

I also want to let readers know that this is not a romance, and neither Kennedy nor Wyatt has a love interest. I personally find Wyatt to be a very dashing and swoon-worthy character and I hope to write two romance stories in the future featuring Kennedy's and Wyatt's love stories.

Amber: That's really neat to know you also share a close relationship with your brother, as your heroine does! And I think that's a neat take on a young adult story, to focus on a familial relationship over a romantic relationship.

Now, this isn’t the first story you’ve published. :) Was there something different or unique about the writing and publishing process for Deadly Obsession, as compared to your earlier releases?

Purchase Surrender Falls: Paperback | Kindle ebook
Purchase True Equitation: Kindle ebook

Caitlyn: I published my previous books just a few months after writing them, so probably the biggest difference is the fact that it took me nearly three years to publish Deadly Obsession after I finished the initial writing process. I was able to glean a lot of insights from the constructive criticism that was mentioned by several readers of my previous stories, so I spent a lot of extra time editing, revising, and rewriting Deadly Obsession, trying to make use of those suggestions. Self-doubt is something I struggle with every day as a writer, and while working on Deadly Obsession the fear of never being "Good Enough" rose to the point that it nearly stopped me from proceeding.

It definitely wasn't easy but I guess eventually it just got to the point where I had to accept that even though I'm always trying to improve, my writing will never be perfect and I had to trust that it was good enough to put out there for people to read. I have to say that even though there were many times where I really started to wonder if this story would ever be ready for publication (and I don't doubt that there are probably still things I have missed that could have been done better or differently), Deadly Obsession is a story that not only strengthened me as a writer but also drew me closer to God. I wouldn't change a thing, except if I had it to do over I would turn my fear over to God way earlier, before it could paralyze me!

Amber: It sounds like you've been learning some really meaningful lessons! What do you enjoy most about being an indie author, and what are some dreams/goals you have as a writer?

Caitlyn: I truly love everything about being an indie author. I love that I have total control of my stories, and that being an indie author has led me to learn skills such as editing, formatting, et cetera, that I probably wouldn't have ever learned otherwise. But, by far my favorite part is getting to share my stories with the world and having the opportunity to support all my fellow indie authors!

I know it sounds cliche but I really just want to keep writing stories that honor God. If just one person is brought closer to God through my stories, that makes it all worth it!

As far as dreams go, I would love to someday have the opportunity to write a book with one of my favorite authors, such as Dani Pettrey or Lynette Eason.

Amber: That's great, Caitlyn! Before we end the interview, do you have a fun behind-the-scenes story you can share with us?

Caitlyn: I mentioned earlier that Wyatt's entry into the story was totally God's idea, not mine. Well, God did the same thing when it came to Kennedy's faith story.

In the original draft Kennedy was very strong in her faith and not much could shake her, but I kind of got the feeling that she was just going through the motions, that her faith had never been tested—in other words, she was a bit too perfect and the story was boring! So I began trying to come up with some way to really send her on a faith journey, but all my efforts amounted to nothing...until one night I was on my way home not even thinking about the story and the name Brooklyn popped into my mind followed by the knowledge that she was Kennedy's sister who had passed away tragically prior to the start of the story. From that point on everything fell into place, and I feel like the story is now a hundred times stronger than my original version. I truly believe that God gave me this story to write and I am so glad I listened to his nudges of my soul!

And a fun tidbit that I learned while researching this story was that there have supposedly been scientific experiments that have led to the discovery that when certain chemicals (I think boron was one of them) are applied to a fabric such as cotton they can combine to create a bulletproof fabric. This knowledge really came in handy when I put Kennedy in a situation where there was a good chance she could get shot but yet it would be too conspicuous for her to wear a typical Kevlar vest.

Amber: Thanks so much for sharing with us about your writing journey and new novella! It's been a pleasure to have you as a guest. :)

* * *

Friends, Caitlyn has generously offered to give away an ebook copy of Deadly Obsession to one of you! You can enter for a chance to win using the form below. The giveaway is open internationally and ends at midnight on September 13, 2016. The winner can choose their preferred ebook format (PDF, .mobi for Kindle, or .epub).

[Giveaway Has Ended]