Tuesday, January 30, 2024

"The Way You Love Me" by Michelle Sass Aleckson

Series: Fox Bakery #3

Publisher: Sunrise Publishing
Release Date: January 23, 2024
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Oliver Fox never thought he’d step foot in Deep Haven again—not with the ghosts he left behind. But when the custody battle for his beloved daughter hinges on his ability to face his past, he returns to Deep Haven and dives back into the fray of his mistakes…starting with the girl next door.

Veterinarian Lena Larson has her hands full with the town’s pets, including a shelter for lost animals. The last thing she needs is the arrival of the man who once shattered her heart. But back he is, and with an adorable daughter…and the need to start over. She has no intention of letting him back into her life. But when her shelter is destroyed, Lena finds herself with a garage full of homeless animals—and an unlikely ally in Oliver. Together, they embark on a mission to find homes for the abandoned animals, and help Oliver make peace with his past.

But it’s not easy to come home. Not everyone believes Oliver has changed, and their doubt could keep him from retaining custody of his daughter. More, Lena has ghosts of her own, and they’ve returned to haunt her. If she isn’t careful, they might even have the power to destroy the surprising happy ending she never saw coming.

Discover this captivating story of healing, forgiveness, and the transformative power of second chances. 


My Thoughts

I enjoyed reading this book and spending more time in Deep Haven with the Fox family. There is a good biblical faith element that is woven through the story and both Oliver and Lena had growth and things they needed to work on. Many books have only one of the main characters with issues that need dealt with. I found the book to be well written and easy to read. It evoked a full spectrum of emotions from frustration and anger when people took situations out if context and blamed Oliver, to joy and happiness when Lena and Oliver worked through their difficulties to find love. I look forward to reading more books by Michelle Sass Aleckson.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

"Offsides" by Lori Z. Scott -- Author Interview

 About the Book

Book: Offsides

Author: Lori Z. Scott

Genre: Contemporary YA fiction

Release Date: October 19, 2023

Danielle Stephens expected her senior year to be challenging, with her final season of soccer, a strained friendship, and a new crush. But she didn’t expect to uncover a human trafficking ring in her town. When an older man seems to be grooming her young neighbor, Dani is determined to keep the girl safe. Little does she know, but there is more at stake than one life. And if Dani doesn’t watch her back, she could be the next victim.

Offsides is like a Christian version of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder but set on the soccer field.


Click here to get your copy!

Author Interview

  1. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

I prefer a little bit of both. I write a simple outline– usually a short paragraph for every chapter through the end. This gives me a starting place to grow the book one chapter at a time. That’s the plotter side of me. However, as I write, the characters take on lives of their own, and they hijack the plot. That happens often with me, but I don’t believe I am alone in this phenomenon. That’s the pantser part of me. If the plot does change, I rework the outline starting with the current chapter and working my way to the end. Then I continue to work until another plot surprise surfaces.

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

For me, marketing is the hardest part about writing. I can sit for hours writing stories and poems and articles, but recording videos, developing promotional material, and building my platform is difficult. Because when I do those things, I don’t feel like I’m “writing” even though I understand the  integrated relationship between what we create and how we share our creation. 

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

None of it is easy, but that’s kind of what makes it fun. I enjoy challenges. Like,  I really enjoy editing. I know that sounds weird, but I believe that’s where the magic of the story happens. But the easiest aspect of writing? Hmmm. Got it. Don’t laugh. Creating a pitch. Because those are super short, and I usually start with a seed of an idea. So i can just take the seed and tweak it.

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

  2. 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?

  3. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

Doesn’t everyone secretly want to be a writer from birth?

Just kidding. I have actually always enjoyed writing, especially poetry. And I wrote quirky articles for my high school newspaper. But I typically tell people I’m an accidental writer because my path to publication strays from the norm.

My passion started when I took a hiatus from teaching elementary school to raise my kids.  One day while at the library, I stumbled onto a flyer for a science fiction writing contest. Since writing a story beats changing diapers any day, I cranked out 5000 words. Mailed my story in.

And won second place. 

Don’t be too impressed—there were probably only two entries.

The day I learned about my win, I also received a notice from my MOPS international magazine (called MomSense) advertising an International Story Writing Contest. So I entered.  And I won.

That contest had hundreds of entries.

After that, a friend encouraged me to attend a writing conference. But conferences were expensive, and we didn’t have the money for it. Never very good at asking for things, I said, “God, if you want me to go, you’re going to have to provide the funds I need through what I publish.” At that time, the money I made from writing came from devotionals and short stories that paid $10-$25 a pop.

Do you know I earned the conference fee almost to the exact penny?

From that conference, I got my first book contract. And now… here we are.

So, as a roundabout way to answer your question, I decided to be a writer at the age of 34 when I entered a tiny little science fiction contest and something burst into life in my mind. 

  1. How long does it usually take you to write a book?

That depends on the book. My shorter, early chapter books took around 6 months from draft to edit. The first YA book, Inside the Ten-Foot Line took around a year to write and a few months to edit. The second book, Offsides took 6 weeks to write, mostly because I was on deadline for that one. I wrote for six hours a day at the minimum. And I’ve been toying with a speculative fiction book for several years. I work on it when my other projects are done. I’d love to shop that book around to the right publisher. It’s This Present Darkness meets Stranger Things. 

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

  2. What is your work schedule/routine when you write?

I teach full time and I help run our after school daycare program. That means writing time must be organized. I make a list of goals and prioritize them by deadline. When I can carve out time either before work or late in the evening, I dive headfirst into whichever project tops the list. I usually begin re-reading and editing what I finished the night before, which allows me to flow into whatever I’m writing next. I also create a week’s worth of social media content in a two hour block of time on the weekend so I don’t have to think about it during the week. 

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

Yes, a little bit of myself and my family and friends show up in the personalities of my characters. I mean, writers are people watchers. We notice actions and reactions, quirks and personality types. And I’m a teacher, so I interact with hundreds of students a day. Multiply that by 25 years, and I’ve probably experienced hundreds of levels of emotions. Keep in mind, I never actually take someone I know and put them in a book. I make up the characters. But yes, they may have traits based on real people—sometimes a mashup of several people. I often borrow real names though, especially when I come across one I really like. In this book, Offsides, I have a good friend with a daughter named Dani who played soccer. Dani has little in common with my fictional protagonist, but that first name was just too perfect not to use!

  1. Anything else you'd like to share?

Yes, you can find out more about me and my books:

Instagram @Stories.by.Lori

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lori.Z.Scott

Website https://www.lori-z-scott.com 

Order the book on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/ba75jjs8

or at End Game Press https://www.endgamepress.com/store/p/offsides or other book outlets.

About the Author

Wheaton College graduate Lori Z. Scott accidentally wrote the 10-book bestselling Meghan Rose series. On purpose, she wrote more than 200 short stories, articles, essays, poems, and devotions for magazines like Brio and Focus on the Family. She has also contributed to 15 books, including Writing and Selling Children’s Books in the Christian Market.

As has been her practice for over 25 years, Lori is fully invested in teaching elementary students during the day. However, most nights you can find her typing away behind the keyboard. She figures that makes writing her superpower… especially since she knows how to use a delete key.

In 2022, Lori introduced an award-winning novel, Inside the Ten-Foot Line, the first installment in her new young adult series. In addition, she has led writing workshops for local ACFW and SCBWI chapters, conducted school visits, served as a guest speaker for Story Embers podcasts, and presented at virtual writing conferences. She’s never really sure if the crowd is impressed by her interactive presentations or by the fact that she can write and draw forwards and backwards with both hands at the same time.

More from Lori

Let’s start with the why behind the series in general. In the early 2000s, I published a bestselling chapter book series—sort of like the Christian version of Junie B. Jones. Then, because of some unexpected life circumstances, I stopped writing for about 7 years. After encouragement from my mom and my daughter and a phone call with an editor from Pockets Magazine, I decided to return to writing. But I wanted to try something new.

I thought about the things I love that I could write about. Sports came to the top of the list since I competed in volleyball, track, swimming, softball, and basketball and my children played soccer. I went to the library to see what was out there and found some great sports novels, many by Mike Lupica. He tackled interesting themes—characters dealing with real-life issues that readers could relate to whether or not they were part of a team.

However, the book offerings for women athletes? Very slim pickings. I mean… there were a few. But they didn’t have the depth I craved in a book. And, as my daughter always says, “Mom, you’re a writer. If you can’t find the book you want, write it yourself.”

So that’s how the series in general was born. I envisioned a story for each sport that reached beyond the court to encompass a broader audience. Stories that grappled with universal emotions, dreams, and challenges. The first book in the series, Inside the Ten-Foot Line, did well with critics. It won the Golden Scroll Award for youth fiction book of the year, an Illumination Book Award, was a semi-finalist for the Carol Awards, and a finalist for the Director’s Choice Award. I figure that’s a promising start!

Now, more specifically—the inspiration behind the story Offsides

Okay, big breath for me here, because I felt God’s nudging to write it, and I told Him no. Just outright no. But… who tells God no? I mean, based on my writing journey, I trusted that He knew best the paths I should take. Always. So why did I say no?

Let me give you a little history. In 2022, End Game Press invited me to write Offsides, the second book in my series. However, when I submitted my detailed plot, they came back and said it was too similar to another book they planned on publishing and asked me to develop something different. I took the problem to my critique group, and one of the girls who works with her church to recover victims of human trafficking suggested that I write a story where the characters must confront this issue.

I got sick to my stomach just thinking about it. And I dismissed the idea. Like, immediately.

And I had good excuses to say no. No, I didn’t know enough about the problem. No, human trafficking was too horrifying to research. No, what teenager wants to read about this sick topic? And my biggest objection–No! I wrote humor.

But God kept pressing me on this idea. And pressing me. And pressing me. News reports. Conversations at work. Ads on T.V. Social media posts. The idea would bubble up in my prayers and haunt me when I went to bed.

So, I finally said yes and wrote the book. Not surprisingly, in the process, I discovered a yes for every no I’d voiced.

I didn’t know enough about the problem, but, yes, I learned. The research was horrifying, but yes, I also found hope, especially within Christian organizations who help recover victims

Yes… teens should read about human trafficking to make themselves aware of the danger and to take steps to protect themselves and their friends. And yes, talking about human trafficking could be done in an age-appropriate way. Best of all, as heavy as the topic was, the story still contained humor. Because high school is like that—serious, but also fun and entertaining.

I really like the relationships between the characters too. There’s something powerful about their interactions. The protagonist, Dani, is a huge introvert, and her social anxiety plays into how the plot unfolds. Her character resonated with a lot of my beta readers who also experienced struggles with feelings that they don’t quite fit in.

One teary-eyed reader asked me how I was able to tap into Dani’s emotions so deeply and accurately. I was like—hey, I’m a teacher. I see insecurities in people all the time. And at some point, we’ve all been there—even me. In the lonely. In the awkward. In the search for belonging. In the hurt. We need each other. And we need faith.

Anyway, that’s how Offsides was born. With a nudge that turned into a pressing need to tell a story. About a difficult topic, true. But even more valuable because of that. The book ended up being a little bit like A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder but set on the soccer field.

If any readers want to use Offsides for a book club, I have a study guide I can email them for free. I also have a free collection of ten devotions for athletes for interested readers. To get either one or both, DM me on my Instagram account at @Stories.by.Lori

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 16

Gina Holder, Author and Blogger, January 17 (Author Interview)

Artistic Nobody, January 18 (Author Interview)

For Him and My FamilyJanuary 18

Guild Master, January 19 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, January 20

Fiction Book Lover, January 21 (Author Interview)

Beauty in the Binding, January 22 (Author Interview)

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, January 23

Splashes of Joy, January 24 (Author Interview)

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 25

Tell Tale Book Reviews, January 26 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 27

Blossoms and Blessings, January 28 (Author Interview)

Exploring the Written Word, January 28

For the Love of Literature, January 29 (Author Interview)


To celebrate her tour, Lori is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card and an autographed copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Thursday, January 25, 2024

"The Orphan Carpenter" by Kenneth Ian McQuarrie -- Author Interview


About the Book

Book: The Orphan Carpenter: Orphaned at birth. Adopted by God. A tale of hope and a future.

Author: Kenneth Ian McQuarrie

Genre: Spiritual Growth/Memoir

Release Date: November 22, 2022

“Ok Lord, I sure hope you have this under control, because from where I sit things aren’t looking so good.”

When I came into this world, there were no baby showers, no celebrations, no father handing out big cigars, or first photo being passed around the office. Grandma, grandpa, aunts, and uncles would not be visiting, pinching my chubby cheeks and saying how cute I was. You see, I was an orphan. Unwanted, cold, hungry, and alone … or was I?

Have you ever wondered where God is? How can this be happening? What did I do to deserve this? Have your circumstances led you to question your faith? Does God care? Does he even exist?

My core beliefs had been shaken. To make sense of what just happened, I went back and examined my own life. So many times, the odds were heavily stacked against me, life and death situations. Yet, somehow, someway, God always showed up.

From orphan to carpenter and beyond, the pages of this book are my life stories. But the book is not about me or my story. It’s about God.

As you read these true stories of my life like parables, may they be a testament that God loves you and has a plan to give you hope and a future.


Click here to get your paperback copy!
Click here to get your eBook copy!

Author Interview 

1. Who would you say inspired you the most in your life?
I had a bit of a unique start to life being orphaned with severe medical complications.
Through the family that took me in and eventually adopted me, the Lord used three
individuals to inspire me and prepare me for the incredible journey that became the
catalyst for the book: a mother who would nurture me and teach me street smarts, a father
to provide a spiritual foundation and a grandfather to mentor me in the construction
2. If you could spend the day with anyone (living or dead) who would it
be? Why?
It would be Moses. Although our stories are different, our life journeys have many
common themes. We both went into foster care at three months old. We both spent our
lives seeking God’s purpose (why did we survive our childhood?). We both questioned
God every step of the way. We both had to fight through spiritual warfare in our lives and
lived to tell the story.
3. Was there anything you found interesting while researching the topic?
Initially, being an orphan, there was no information on who I was
or where I came from. I was only told that I was born in Sault Ste
Marie, Ontario, Canada Plumber Hospital, and I was Scottish. A DNA
test confirmed that I’m over 90% Scottish and may have a biological
parent or grandparent directly from Scotland. I was adopted into a
family with a Scottish surname. However, I am more Scottish than
they are.
4. What is different about writing non-fiction vs fiction? Would you say
one is easier than the other?
I have only written one book to date, and it’s non-fiction. So, right
now, I’d say non-fiction is easier. I’ve started writing a fictionalized
story using my 1 st book as background source material. With non-
fiction, the facts are already there, and the characters have real
personalities. The challenge is making the story compelling for the
reader. With non-fiction, you must create everything, which I think is
much more difficult.
5. Anything else you’d like to share?
The entire purpose of this book is to present the gospel message.
My life story is secondary and is used only to show how God works
today in our lives, just like he has been for centuries in the lives of
those who came before us. I pray that through this book’s stories, the
reader is encouraged to see how God is working in their life.

About the Author

     An orphan from birth with serious medical complications, Kenneth went into foster care at three months old. Eventually adopted by his foster family, he grew up in a small northern Canadian city. Being raised by loving Christian parents and mentored by his carpenter grandfather, he dreamed of becoming a carpenter himself one day. The Lord had different plans for young Kenneth. Plans that would take him on an incredible life journey to the pinnacle of the North American construction industry.

Kenneth has always held firmly to his faith throughout the journey, trials, and tribulations. He’s served in church administration and hosted and led Bible studies throughout his adult life. He lives in Orange County, California, with his wife, Celine.


More from Kenneth

Back in early 2018, following a very harrowing experience, I found my marriage starting to crumble. My wife Celine and I were processing things very differently. I’m a builder, a fixer, and I couldn’t fix it. Jeepers, I didn’t even know what it was.

Suddenly, this random thought flooded into my brain, and I blurted out, “Would you be willing for us to go see a counselor to help us process all this?”

     Did I just say that? I thought as Celine said, “OK, yes, let’s do that.”

At one of our counseling sessions, the counselor said, “Your lives together began when you started dating. But, before that, both of you had lived separate lives for many years. So, for this week’s homework assignment, I want you to write each other a story from your life. The life you had before you met. Your memories from when you were growing up.”

“Me, write a story? I barely passed English class in school. I’m no writer,” I responded.

The counselor smiled. “I’m not saying write a novel. It’s more like a letter, just write down some memories of your life you can share. Just like our session today, this will help you to understand each other better.”

“OK, I’ll give it a try,” I said.

That night, Celine fell asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow, exhausted from the emotional roller coaster a few hours before. So, I pulled out a journal and pen and began to write. I scribbled notes down for about an hour then fell asleep.

In the morning, I handed Celine my journal. As she began to read, her brow wrinkled, followed by her face contorting as if in pain. Finally, after a couple of long minutes, she looked up.

“Is it that bad?” I asked.

“No, it’s not that it’s bad. It’s … you should write this.”

“I just did.”

“No, I mean you should write your story, your whole story.”

“You mean like a book? I can’t write a book. I barely passed English class.

“No, you can’t spell, and yes, your grammar is terrible, but you tell stories all the time, and people like your stories. People remember your stories.”

Celine was right about one thing, the fact that I tell a lot of stories. When I was young, Mom would tell me stories repeatedly of how I came to be a McQuarrie. I loved Bible stories about Moses, Joseph, and King David as a little guy. I guess not being good at English, I often used stories of my life to explain myself or try to relate to others.

“Stories are one thing, but to write a book, you have to have a point or a purpose, not just a bunch of stories,” I said to Celine.

“Well, you should pray about it,” Celine responded.

After almost a year of praying about it and three years of writing, in November 2022, The Orphan Carpenter was published. I know the Lord had his hand in writing this book because there is no way I could have pulled this off on my own.

I pray the Lord takes these stories to those they were meant to encourage.

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” Acts 20:24

Blog Stops

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 18

Artistic Nobody, January 19 (Author Interview)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 19

Lighthouse Academy Blog, January 20 (Guest Review from Marilyn Ridgway)

Fiction Book Lover, January 21 (Author Interview)

Locks, Hooks and Books, January 22

Guild Master, January 23 (Author Interview)

Mary Hake, January 23

Girls in White Dresses, January 24

Blossoms and Blessings, January 25 (Author Interview)

Texas Book-aholic, January 26

Splashes of Joy, January 27 (Author Interview)

Cover Lover Book Review, January 28

A Modern Day Fairy Tale, January 29 (Author Interview)

Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 30

Library Lady’s Kid Lit, January 31 (Author Interview)


To celebrate her tour, Kenneth is giving away the grand prize package of a $150 Amazon gift card and a paperback and an eBook copy of the book!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Saturday, January 13, 2024

"Chaos" by Steffani Webb

 About the Book

Series: A Breed Apart Legacy #2
Publisher: Sunrise Publishing
Release Date: January 9, 2024
Genre: Paramilitary Romantic Thriller

Buckle up for an edge-of-your-seat trek through the dangerous jungles of the Philippines in this enemies to more, forced proximity, alpha hero, sunshine versus grumpy romantic thriller!

When Rio Silva is told her aunt and uncle are missing in a Philippine rainforest, she knows there is only one answer to finding them: the retired military working dog her dad entrusted to her. Chaos, however, has a mind of her own, a lot like Rio. Worse, she’ll have to trust arrogant and bossy former Army Ranger, Cathal McGowan if she hopes to get them back.

The last thing Cathal McGowan needs is to be shackled with a young, pretty teacher with no combat experience as he leads them into the darkness of the rainforest. But she has heart—he’ll give her that. And he has the experience she needs to rescue her family.

Putting everything on the line, Rio and Cathal struggle to navigate the terrain, as well as their emerging feelings for each other. But the closer they get to mission success, the more things aren’t adding up, including who might be behind the disappearance. It’s not long before they realize the rainforest holds greater perils than deadly vipers…and the biggest danger of all might be their hearts.

Dive into another thrilling A Breed Apart: Legacy adventure.

My Thoughts

I enjoyed reading this book. There are "cameo" appearances from characters from previous books, but you could read this book without having read the other books first. I always suggest reading them in order just to get to know the whole story. I found the book to be well written and easy to read. There were twists I didn't expect and lots of action and adventure. The characters were believable and had good growth through the story. I think that this book would make a good movie. I look forward to reading other books by Steffani Webb and seeing what she does in the future.

"Chaos" is available in paperback:

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Sunrise Publishing (January 8, 2024)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 262 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 195378366X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1953783660
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 0.66 x 8.5 inches

and in Kindle edition:

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0C8GWFDSB
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Sunrise Publishing (January 9, 2024)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ January 9, 2024
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 2935 KB