Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Month in Review -- March

  • Wrote everyday at least a minimum of 100 words? yes
  • Number of days that I wrote 500 words a day: 26 (5 days < 500)
  • Wrote 14,763 words this month 
  • Be creative
    • Tat
    • Crochet 1 snowman
    • Knit
    • Sculpt
    • Bracelets 4
  • Exercise 5 days a week? nope COVID-19 happened (4, 5, 2, 1)
  • Read my Bible everyday? Except 1 day
  • Blog posts that weren't book reviews: 1
  • Read 8 books

Monday, March 30, 2020

Emily's 14th Birthday

We usually have birthday parties on Sunday after church so the majority of the time they don't fall on their actual birthday. This year, Emily's birthday was on a Sunday so I was thinking it would be nice for her to be able to celebrate on her actual birthday (we always do something smaller on their actual birthday if the party isn't on the actual day). And then, COVID-19 happened and everything shut down and we were restricted to not gathering with people who don't live with you, so the party was out. I still made the meal Emily wanted (slow cooker mac-n-cheese) and we did a cake and presents. We just didn't have the grandparents and other family members that are usually present. I did a Facebook Live (my first one ever) while we lit the candles on the cake, sang 'Happy Birthday', and Emily blew out the candles. That way at least everyone could participate virtually even if they couldn't be present physically.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

"A People Chosen" by Karen Engle -- Author Interview, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  A People Chosen
Author: Karen Engle
Genre:  Non – Fiction / Christian / Bible Study
Release Date: March, 2017
A Chosen People coverIs God finished with the Jewish people? Understanding Israel according to the Bible and not the media, political views, or personal opinion sheds incredible light on why Israel and the Jewish people exist today. God is not finished with the tiny nation and has a great purpose and plan for Israel that will impact the world. A People Chosen: God’s Purpose and Plan for Israel and the Nations is a self-guided eight-lesson Bible study. You will learn about the creation of Israel in Genesis, God’s promises to Israel and the nations, Israel’s scattering and current regathering to Israel, the return of King Jesus to rule and reign from Jerusalem, and why Israel is pivotal in God’s plan of redemption. It is a love story of faithfulness, mercy, and justice. It is the story of a people chosen by God to be a conduit for God’s blessings to all mankind. It is a weighty call, and it has not come without a price.
Author Interview

What kind of research do you do? I spend hours researching the topic of Israel and do it daily (it’s what I love doing in my free time). I’m a fan of Logos Bible Software, which gives me access to thousands of digital books and resources on the topic. I also spend a fair amount of time researching the culture and context of the Bible, and I believe it strongly affects how we interpret the Word of God. But the best “research” happens when I’m in the land of Israel, especially visiting archaeological sites and hearing from those who are (almost) daily discovering artifacts that support the accuracy of the Scriptures.
How long do you spend researching before beginning a book? This is my only book, and unless the Lord leads me to write another, it will probably be the last one I write. I’m an editor by trade, and I prefer editing to writing. For A People Chosen, I spent about eight years researching for it, including five trips to Israel.
Was there anything you found interesting while researching the topic? The most interesting thing I learned while researching this topic was the magnitude of Aliyah, or Jewish immigration, from the four corners of the earth back to the land of Israel promised to them through the Abrahamic Covenant (just as God had said would happen!) I learned about something called “The Finnish Route,” which began when a wave of about one million persecuted Russian Jews seeking immigration to Israel overwhelmed southern transportation routes. In the early 1990s, Finnish Christians began to help Jews cross the border into Finland, where they stayed with Christian families until they could fly out of Helsinki. It made Finland a major pipeline for Soviet Jewish immigration. Upwards of 30,000 Jews have immigrated to Israel through the Finnish Route over the past twenty-nine years—and it’s still active today. That story blew my mind, and I included it and some other amazing stories in the chapter on gentile responsibility in A People Chosen.
Do you read much? I’m an avid reader and confess I have a real problem: I buy more books than I have time or energy to read. I tend to gravitate toward theologians like Walter Kaiser and Darrell Bock, but I also love to get lost in good novel.
Anything else you'd like to share? God has a purpose and plan for his people (the Jews) that did not stop with the New Testament and a specific calling for gentile believers in that plan. I wrote this Bible study to take people by the hand and connect the dots, beginning in Genesis, with that plan—and to understand why what is happening in Israel today is so important! 

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

Karen EngleKaren earned a master’s in biblical studies from Western Seminary. She is an adjunct writing instructor with Moody Bible Institute, a copy editor for Faithlife Corporation, and owner of East Gate Editing. Her passion is taking study groups to the land of Israel, which she says brings the Bible from “black and white to technicolor.”

More from Karen

There is something peculiar about the Jews. They are one of the few ancient people groups that has endured into modern times, and their religion—Judaism—is one of the world’s oldest.

The Jewish people have been miraculously regathered together into a thriving nation after being scattered throughout the earth. Hebrew, Israel’s official language, was once a dead speech but has been revived and is now an active, living language with more than five million native speakers.

They have been the most persecuted people in history and as such their existence baffles historians and theologians alike. There is no logical rationale for the Jews’ existence. Considering the Holocaust alone, the Jewish people should not have survived. And yet, they do.
In fact, they have flourished and been a blessing to the world.

The narrative of the Bible is centered on this unique nation of individuals established by God thousands of years ago in ancient Mesopotamia. From Abraham to King David to Jesus, the story of the Bible is knit together with a common thread: the Jewish people. It is a love story of faithfulness, mercy, and justice. It is the story of a people chosen by God to be a conduit for God’s blessings to humanity. It is a weighty call, and it has not come without a price.

Yet, many people, even Christians, don’t give this a second thought.

About twelve years ago, God stirred my heart toward this tiny nation, and I subsequently spent years studying the history of the Jewish people and God’s purpose and plan for them according to Scripture. And it rocked my theological world. I was in the middle of seminary, and no one (outside of one professor, who is still my favorite) talked about Israel. And though there were books on the topic, I could not find one Bible study.

When I talk to people about Israel and its importance in Scripture and thus modern-day world events, there seems to be a disconnect—a lack of understanding as to why anyone would bring up the topic. Why should anyone care? What is so significant about Israel?
I wrote this Bible study to answer these questions. It’s a cross between a book and a Bible study and is designed to take participants by the hand and help them understand why God cares so deeply about this peculiar nation. It’s a culmination of many trips to the land and years of personal study—and I’m still learning. Heavy on Scripture, full of beautiful images from around Israel, and focused on Christ, the study will turn the black and white pages of your Bible to technicolor.

I hope that those who do the study will begin to see Israel as a beautiful example of God’s faithfulness to his Word.

Blog Stops

Blossoms and Blessings, March 29 (Author Interview)
Genesis 5020, April 1
For the Love of Literature, April 4 (Author Interview)
Mary Hake, April 4
Artistic Nobody, April 7 (Author Interview)
SPLASHES of Joy, April 8


To celebrate her tour, Karen is giving away the grand prize package of an Israel-themed basket: 6 copies of my book/Bible study A People Chosen, the movie The Hope on the rebirth of Israel in 1948, the book Your People Will Be My People, and a $25 gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Monday, March 23, 2020

"One Hundred Valleys" by Bonnie Leon -- Author Interview & Book Spotlight

About the Book

After the death of her mother, Emmalin Hammond discovers she is not the heiress she’d always assumed she’d be. The revelation exposes her fiancé’s true intentions when he withdraws his marriage proposal, leaving Emmalin heartbroken and humiliated. When she discovers the father she believed to be dead is still alive and living in the Oregon Territory she decides it is time to meet the man who has been hidden from her all of her life.

Accompanied by her Uncle Jonathon, she sets out for the Oregon Territory in search of answers and hoping for a renewed relationship with her father. When tragedy strikes, she confronts the terrifying challenge of completing her quest alone. Faced with few options, she entrusts her life to a mountain man named Jacob Landon who agrees to transport her to a small settlement in Southern Oregon called Deer Creek, a place also known as the Land of One Hundred Valleys.

Emmalin is not prepared for the hardships of life in the Oregon wilderness. Each day presents a new challenge. Newfound friends, including the reserved Jacob Landon, who unexpectedly stirs her heart, come alongside to help her adapt. Yet she feels out of place. Should she brave the arduous journey back to Philadelphia for the life she once knew or remain and hope for something better in the Oregon wilderness?

Author Interview

  1. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you (are you a plotter or a pantser?)?

I’m definitely NOT a pantser. My brain would get lost in a book if I did that. 

I create detailed character outlines, a book synopsis, story arcs, and a story outline (a brief synopsis for each chapter) before I begin writing. 

I need to know who my characters are, as much as that is possible at the beginning of a book. They become more fleshed out as I work through a story. I love creating characters! 

The outline is like a road map. It guides me. If I were to set off on a road trip without a map I’d become lost. And that’s what would happen to me if I set off to write a novel without an outline. I’d be lost in no time. I don’t advocate that writers adhere strictly to their outlines, some rabbit trails take you places where you discover story treasures, but some can take you so far off the path that it isn’t easy to find your way back.

  1. What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?

My first draft is the most difficult part of the process for me. I actually enjoy editing, which tells you a bit about how my mind works. 

I use speed writes to release creativity. When I set out to write a chapter I take a few minutes to envision what will happen in the scene, then I plunge in and write without stopping. I don’t stop for misspelled words, stupid ideas, or clunky paragraphs. I just write. Afterward I do a quick clean up on the chapter and then let it rest, sometimes for a few weeks before returning to it when I do some of the fine tuning. While the chapter rests I move on to other chapters.

3. What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?

Coming up with the story. I have all kinds of ideas in my head for future books. I love to imagine what will happen. I might play with a story idea for weeks, months and sometimes even years before the actual work begins.

4. Do you pen down revelations and ideas as you get them, right then
and there?

Oh yes. I have to. My brain is flighty and even if I get what I think is a fabulous idea, I will likely forget it. Revelations and revisions fly into my mind any old time so I keep a file on my phone. I no longer drive because I’m losing my vision, but I used to actually pull over when driving to get a new idea written down before I’d forget what it was.

5. Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can
just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?

I cannot write in a room with distractions. I can’t even have music with lyrics playing, instrumentals only. I get distracted by the lyrics. 

I have a back injury so I no longer work at my desk, which I miss. It was much easier because all the research materials needed would be close at hand. I now use a recliner with my lap top. Last year my husband had a new office built for me. It is beautiful and good for my spirit. I used soothing colors and décor. With spring upon us I can work with my windows open, and I love the sound of my wind chimes while I work.

Here’s a photo.

8. Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Ideas come from a myriad of places. I try to keep in my mind open to the idea that stories can be found anywhere, as life happens. That way I won’t miss a great story. Some of my tales come from my family history. For instance, my first book The Journey of Eleven Moons emerged from something that happened to my grandmother when she was a young woman living in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. I’ve discovered stories in the pages of history books. And I wrote a contemporary story, To Dance With Dolphins, which came about because of my personal struggle with chronic pain and disability. 

I think my mind loves stories because I see them in all sorts of places. I actually love that about me. I’ve been making up tales since I was a girl.

10. Do bits of yourself/friends show up in your characters?

Absolutely. In fact, so much of myself shows up in stories, not just the characters, that when I was about to sign a contract for my first book I hesitated. I wasn’t sure I wanted all of my inside stuff to be “out there” in the world where people could make judgments.

There have been characters in my books that have been a compilation of characteristics found in friends. But I don’t use any person fully because it might be too easy for someone to see themselves, which could have a bad outcome.

11. Anything else you'd like to share?

I’m not sure how many of your visitors are writers, but this is for those who write. I wish you well. I hope you find the joy in writing process. Please be true to yourself, and create stories you love. And as long as you love putting words to paper keep doing it.

About the Author

Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-two novels, including the recently released One Hundred Valleys, the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.
Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, Poland, and even Africa.  She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and mentoring up and coming authors.
Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and seven grandchildren

Amazon         http://amzn.to/1SqHoqK 
Website        http://www.bonnieleon.com 

Twitter        @Bonnie_Leon

"One Hundred Valleys" is available in paperback:

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Ashberry Lane (February 28, 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1946531472
  • ISBN-13: 978-1946531476
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches

and in Kindle edition:

  • File Size: 470 KB
  • Print Length: 381 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Ashberry Lane (March 15, 2020)
  • Publication Date: March 15, 2020
  • Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0857LF6Y3

Thursday, March 19, 2020

"One Little Lie" by Colleen Coble -- Book Review & Blog Tour

About the Book

Book:  One Little Lie
Author: Colleen Coble
Genre:  Romantic Suspense
Release Date: March 3, 2020
one little lie
It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth in this gripping new romantic suspense.
Jane Hardy is appointed interim sheriff in Pelican Harbor, Alabama, after her father retires, but there’s no time for an adjustment period. When her father is arrested for theft and then implicated in a recent murder, Jane quickly realizes she’s facing someone out to destroy the only family she has.
After escaping with her father from a cult fifteen years ago, Jane has searched relentlessly for her mother—who refused to leave—ever since. Could someone from that horrible past have found them?
Reid Bechtol is well-known for his documentaries, and his latest project involves covering Jane’s career. Jane has little interest in the attention, but the committee who appointed her loves the idea of the publicity.
Jane finds herself depending on Reid’s calm manner as he follows her around filming, and they begin working together to clear her father. But Reid has his own secrets from the past, and the gulf between them may be impossible to cross—especially once her father’s lie catches up with him.
My Thoughts

"One Little Lie" kept me on the edge of my seat wandering what was going to happen. I always am intrigued when the "bad guy" is one of the characters we follow through a story. I found the book to be well written and with a nice pace and flow. It was easy to read. I figured out a little bit of the secret of the book, but didn't know what else was going on or who was committing the murders. I like when I am surprised by a book. There is a little bit of a unresolved story line as far as the romance of the book, so I was a little disappointed that it wasn't a complete happily-ever-after. I look forward to reading more books by Colleen Coble.

About the Author

Colleen CobleBest-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. You can visit her website at http://colleencoble.com.

Blog Stops

Back Porch Reads, March 10
The Avid Reader, March 11
By The Book, March 12
Older & Smarter?, March 12
Remembrancy, March 12
Betti Mace, March 13
Emily Yager, March 13
Bigreadersite, March 14
CarpeDiem, March 15
Robin’s Nest, March 17
Stories By Gina, March 18
Mary Hake, March 18
Empowermoms, March 18
Hallie Reads, March 19
Quiet Quilter, March 20
Simple Harvest Reads, March 20 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
Splashes of Joy, March 21
Moments, March 21
amandainpa, March 21
Pause for Tales, March 22

"One Little Lie" is available in paperback:
  • Series: The Pelican Harbor Series (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (March 3, 2020)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0785228446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785228448
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches

and in Kindle edition:
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 5 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 8, 2020)
  • Publication Date: September 8, 2020
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B081MQM97D

I got a free copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own and given voluntarily. No compensation was received for my review.