December arrives upon our doorsteps with a swishing of coattails, jingling twinkle lights, and a snappy pace in its step. The last month of our calendar year can often enter in a hurry and exit in a dash. This December, let’s be dauntless. Let’s make lists, accomplish those tasks, dwell richly within the precious moments, and delight in this wintry season’s wrapping. Maybe you’re too busy. Maybe you’re bored. Maybe you’re facing an emptier holiday season. Maybe you’re frustrated with the hustle and bustle. For those of us on every level of the playing field, let’s do December purposefully.
I’ve created an Instagram/Facebook challenge, where each day has a certain theme. What you do:
1) Save this picture!!! Use it all month.
2) The number on the challenge corresponds to the date on which you post. (December 1st, use #1, etc)
3) On that number/day, create a photo (ideally a square photo, for Instagram) related to that day’s theme.
4) Post the photo, along with a fun caption that goes with it, and be sure to include #dauntlessdecember with it! If you like, include the hashtag for the day’s theme. (#dauntlessdecember #starlight)
5) You will need to ensure your photo is public so that everyone can see your post.
6) Scroll through FB and Insta to see the other posts! "Like" and comment on the ones you enjoy!
Many people like to use books for their challenge pics. Pick a book on your shelf that has something to do with the theme, and have fun! Get some great ideas for how to set up fabulous pics by searching the #bookstagram hashtag on Instagram.
This month's daily themes:
2. Hues of Red
4. My Favorite
6. All mixed up
8. Foodie Friday
10. Silver & gold
11. Sing it
23. Warm Drink
24. Something Bold
26. Buried Treasure
27. To Boldly Go
28. Map to the Future
I will be checking Insta and FB for the hashtag, and I hope you will too! Finding friends who share common interest happens to be one fun side effect of these challenges. Also, I LOVE seeing how different people interpret the themes! I hope you will join the fun.
Commit to making this month purposeful, fearless, kind, generous, and fulfilling. Don’t just survive. Don’t just rush along. Don’t just doallthethings. Celebrate small moments. Kindle the fires of your soul. Refresh your belief in your purpose. Be dauntless.
Join me on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kadeecarderink/
And Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kadeecarderink/
(I'll usually follow you back if you appear to be a real person and not some weird bot)
Looking forward to Dauntless December with you!
I'm meeting more and more lovely, brilliant authors because of my connection with Clean Reads publishing. One author who I've had the pleasure to meet online, Jordan Elizabeth, introduced me to her books and I've found that she has a book for almost any reader who likes a good thrill. I wanted to highlight three books I've read recently that I enjoyed so you can grab some books to add to your list! That's what a friendly recommendation is for! While Jordan Elizabeth's books fall a bit outside of my normal pick for a book (I'm more of a historical fiction or action/thriller reader), she gets five stars from me on her storytelling. Her stories roll and pitch, the imagery crackles, and her characters spring to life from the pages. I do hope you will consider trying a Jordan Elizabeth book. You'll find heroines to root for, powerful themes of identity and grit, and poignant conclusions that will leave you wanting more.
Escape From Witchwood Hollow
After losing her parents in a horrific terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, fifteen-year-old Honoria and her older brother escape New York City to the small town of Arnn. Honoria receives constant warnings of the dangerous forest outside Arnn, the forest named Witchwood Hollow. In the lure of Witchwood Hollow's perpetual darkness, Honoria finds hope, when she should be afraid.
Perhaps the witch can reunite her with her lost parents. Awakening the witch, however, brings more than salvation from mourning, for Honoria discovers a past of missing children and broken promises.
To save the citizens of Arnn from becoming the witch’s next victims, she must find the truth behind the woman’s madness. How deep into Witchwood Hollow does Honoria dare venture?
From the first page to the last, I couldn't put down this thrilling story. While we meet a different kind of heroine, we also meet a different kind of 'witch.' One poignantly considers titles and the boxes into which we put people after reading the stories tumbling from the impenetrable borders of Witchwood Hollow.
Serena Cole can kick serious butt thanks to young women only she can see. School bullies aren’t a problem, but Serena’s mental health might be. To shield Serena from a dark secret, her family tries to convince her that her friends are imaginary.
Fleeing her distrustful aunt, Serena joins her mother on an archeological dig at Kistishi Island. There, Serena discovers an ancient scroll and realizes her invisible friends are goddesses native to the island, and they are in danger of enslavement for their abilities. Only Serena can save her friends if she can discover the past her family has hidden her entire life – the reason why only she can see the goddesses.
One Amazon reviewer stated, "I wasn't sure what to expect upon purchasing this book but then again with this author I never do." And folks, that's the truth. Jordan Elizabeth draws a story of friendship, courage, tenacity, and wonder. Our heroine must fight the label she's been given, and find her true identity in the process.
When fifteen-year-old Edna Mather tears an expensive and unfamiliar pocket watch off her little brother’s neck, he crumbles into a pile of cogs right before her eyes. Horrified, Edna flees for help, but encounters Ike, a thief who attempts to steal the watch before he realizes what it is: a device to power Coglings—clockwork changelings left in place of stolen children who have been forced to work in factories.
Desperate to rescue her brother, Edna sets off across the kingdom to the hags’ swamp, with Ike in tow. There, they learn Coglings are also replacing nobility so the hags can stage a rebellion and rule over humanity. Edna and Ike must stop the revolt, but the populace believes hags are helpful godmothers and healers. No one wants to believe a lowly servant and a thief, especially when Ike has secrets that label them both as traitors.
Together, Edna and Ike must make the kingdom trust them or stop the hags themselves, even if Ike is forced to embrace his dark heritage and Edna must surrender her family.
Heart-wrenching and harrowing, Edna's adventure makes you want to flip those pages and hang on to your steampunk silk hat. Jordan Elizabeth's unique manner of storytelling and world-building provide a rich story of one girl's journey to understanding her identity...and those of the others around her.
Happy reading, folks! What are some fabulous new books or authors you've discovered recently? I hope you'll comment and let me know!
Readers' Favorite announces the review of the Young Adult - Adventure book "Incomplete" by Kadee Carder, currently available at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MSABMCK.
Readers' Favorite is one of the largest book review and award contest sites on the Internet. They have earned the respect of renowned publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and Harper Collins, and have received the "Best Websites for Authors" and "Honoring Excellence" awards from the Association of Independent Authors. They are also fully accredited by the BBB (A+ rating), which is a rarity among Book Review and Book Award Contest companies.
"Reviewed By Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
What’s in a name? Does it define a person? Saylor is really questioning the merits of names. Her newly discovered father, the Commander, has taken disciplinary action. He doesn’t want Saylor injured in any way, and Saylor, being the reckless, headstrong young woman that she is, always finds herself at odds, not only with her father, but also with her twin brother, Logan. Someone is always getting hurt, even though Saylor claims to be looking out for everyone else’s safety and well-being. Part of the Commander’s disciplinary actions is insisting that Saylor use the name given to her at birth, Laurel. Only Saylor really doesn’t feel like a Laurel. As her growing friendship with Tuck intensifies into something more, he points out to her the importance of being herself.
“You were born one person, and another person emerged. You can either be one or the other, but not both. See how you can use the weaknesses of one to engage the other. Become someone entirely new. Decide who you want to be from here on out. That’s what a name is. Nobody can force it on you, and nobody can fulfill it except you.”
Sage advice that we could all use at times. As the drama intensifies in Kadee Carter’s second book of Saylor’s story, Incomplete, the message and the title intertwine gradually. Lots of action packed scenes drive the story forward as the twins, Saylor and Logan, keep up their mission to take down the technological devices that are not only threatening their immediately community, but the world as well. Good characterization and plot development. A compelling read."
You can learn more about Kadee Carder and "Incomplete" at https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/incomplete where you can read reviews and the author’s biography, as well as connect with the author directly or through their website and social media pages.
Sensations and sights sharpen. Those molten maple pools watching me. The heat pressing against my body. Those Adonis lips parting on an inhale. The bead of sweat raking down my spine.
I lean forward, and my eyes widen the moment my next sense registers something. A scent, the kind of scent that has your head tilting reflexively, your mouth opening just a touch to see if it will land on your tongue.
I don’t know what amber smells like, but I think this could be it. Woodsy, spicy…tempting…moreish. It’s the kind of smell that makes you wish you could spend more time breathing in than out. One hand reaches out to the red plastic fender rising from the back of the bike. The moment woven cotton presses into my fingertips, rather than smooth plastic warmed by the sun, I stop. It’s all I need to return me to reality.
I take a step back, having to mentally force my nose to follow. PJ was never meant get close enough to smell, because exactly what I thought would happen just happened.
He smells as good as he looks, and I don’t need any more temptation to fight.
He’s irresistible…but she’s the one person who knows his days are numbered.
Casey’s touch can reveal the one thing a person would never want to know — the number of days they have left to live.
By the time Casey turns seventeen she’s learnt to withdraw. But the phobia she fakes in order to avoid human contact is sorely tested by hot, persistent, motorcycle riding PJ. For a girl who craves contact, maple eyed PJ is impossible to resist. When the inevitable happens, when hands, bodies and lips collide, Casey sees PJ's number, one that can only be seen as a cruel twist of fate.
Now she must decide. Will she continue counting the days of her life, or start living a life that counts?
With the memorable writing and humor of writers such as Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun blended with the attitude, chemistry and unexpected plot twists of Katie McGarry’s best sellers, Make it Count is a romance that will leave you swooning and smiling.
Make it Count (ISBN: 978-1-62135-708-7, Clean Reads Publishing) is now available at www.tamarsloan.com and on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBooks.
See more about Tamar and her books at:
Purchase Your Copy: https://books2read.com/MakeitCount
Find it on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36284190-make-it-count
I had the opportunity to ask Tamar about her new release. Check it out!
Where did you get the idea for Make It Count?
Make it Count, a young adult contemporary romance, is one of those books that comes to you at 4am (even though you just had major surgery!) and you just know it’s going to be a special story. It started with the seed – what if with one touch, a girl could see how many days a person has to live? Apart from all the heart-wrenching considerations like touching your loved ones, I knew she’d avoid touch at whatever cost. But then PJ arrived, and he was hot, and irresistible. I had to capture their chemistry, and their story.
Who's your favorite character in it?
I know this is going to be predictable, but it would have to be my heroine, Casey. I love Casey. She’s the character that is least like me so I had to really work to see the world from her perspective. I knew if anyone that had to live with seeing what Casey did, it would heart-wrenching. When Casey really showed herself, I realized it was harder for her than I could have imagined. Casey is impulsive and fun-loving and loves human interaction. Being so isolated is such a challenge for her (and the primary reason PJ’s tenaciousness is just what she needs!). Casey was the only person that could pull off Make it Count, and really glad I got to tell her happy ever after.
A school psychologist by day, Tamar channels her passion for books into creating young adult stories about discovering life and love beyond our comfort zones. She is the award-winning author of the Prime Prophecy and Touched by Love Series. Tamar is also the author of PsychWriter: where psychology meets writing, a blog that supports and extends writers.
When not reading, writing or working with teens, Tamar can be found with her ever-patient husband and two beautiful sons enjoying country life on their small acreage in the Australian bush.
(That's right my friends, Ms. Sloan lives in the Great Down Under!)
Tamar finds it deeply rewarding to share her stories and she loves to hear from her readers and fellow lovers of all things book related. You can find her at www.tamarsloan.com or on Facebook www.facebook.com.au/tamarsloanwriter or Twitter www.twitter.com/sloantamar.
At sunset, Travis and Hillerman reached St. Joseph, a smattering of buildings perched on the grassy eastern bank of the Missouri River. Thousands of people were already encamped around the frontier town. Tired as the two travelers were, the sight of countless glittering campfires sprinkled across the low rolling hills fueled them with energy. As they drew closer to the expanded town, a cacophony of guitars, banjos, and voices reached their ears. The emigrants played and sang the raucous, popular melodies of the day, as well as the occasional staid church hymn, all at the same time. Here and there the popular Christy’s Minstrels tune “Oh! Susanna” was belted out, but an intent listener would have noticed that, now and then, the destination named in the song was not Louisiana but rather California. In fact, new versions of the song had been written, in which a young man with a gold pan on his knee said goodbye to the poor forlorn Susanna and set out for the West.
~ Excerpt from WEST FROM THE CRADLE, Brigid Amos' latest release from Clean Reads! ~
If the West doesn’t kill you, it’ll make you stronger.
Travis Cooper was not meant to be a prospector. Small for his age, he has never been much help on the family farm in Missouri. How could he survive the journey west to take up such backbreaking work? But when he sees a copy of the California Star in the fall of 1848, everything changes. One shining word jumps off the page: GOLD! Now staying alive is a struggle. Keeping his partner from getting himself killed is even harder!
Brigid Amos’ young adult historical fiction has appeared in The MacGuffin, The Storyteller, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Words of Wisdom. Her first novel, A Fence Around Her, was published by Clean Reads in 2016. A produced playwright, she co-founded the Angels Playwriting Collective and serves on the boards of Angels Theatre Company and Women Writing the West. She is also an active member the Nebraska Writers Guild. Although Brigid left a nugget of her heart behind in the California Gold Country, most of it is in Lincoln, Nebraska where she currently lives with her husband.
I had the wonderful opportunity ask Brigid a few questions about her writing process and stories. Here's what she had to say:
Who's your favorite character in WEST FROM THE CRADLE?
My favorite character in West from the Cradle is my protagonist Travis Cooper. When I used to hike through the Sierra Nevada Foothills of Northern California, dreaming of writing a book about the Gold Rush, Travis was the first character that appeared to me. I saw this young man astride a horse, looking down from a ridge upon a valley of Ponderosa Pine, Manzanita, and Madrone. In my mind, this optimistic and enthusiastic young man had just arrived from a farm in the Midwest and was looking with hope upon his future. If you read the novel, you will imagine something quite different. Perhaps you will see Travis barely able to walk, leading the mule he purchased in Fort Laramie, all his remaining possessions packed on her back. But the enthusiasm and optimism are still there, despite all the seemingly insurmountable obstacles he has faced on the trail west. Travis is my favorite character because he rises to a challenge while remaining humble. He is a survivor while maintaining his good heart. And most importantly, he is the best kind of friend a person could have. He would risk everything, even his own life, to save his friend. Who wouldn’t love someone like that?
What are your favorite and least favorite things about writing?
My favorite thing about writing is how I feel after a productive writing session. I can only describe this feeling as euphoric. This feeling doesn’t last of course, but I know I can always get it back by opening up a notebook and clicking a pen. I suppose this is addictive behavior, but I thank God for such a healthy addiction!
There is nothing I don’t like about the actual act of writing. I even enjoy revision. However, the editing process before publication, in which every little comma must be properly placed and every adverb assessed can make writing feel like work. I think this is because at that point, there is less creativity involved. As a writer, I so appreciate those who actually enjoy editing. I was at the Nebraska Writers Guild booth on Labor Day, and a woman who told me how much she loved editing stopped by. I must have been looking at her as if she were an alien from another planet, an exotic creature whose thought process I could never understand. I’m at my best while scribbling with abandon in a notebook and everything that pours out is new and exciting. Not so much when I’m trying to make it perfect on a computer screen.
Thank you for sharing your passion for those characters and your craft, Brigid!
Brigid Amos' newest release, WEST FROM THE CRADLE, has hit shelves everywhere, and if you're a fan of historical fiction, you'll want to grab this one quick!
Click on the link below to download today!
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/west-from-the-cradle-brigid-amos/1126943650?ean=2940158732119
Join Brigid’s mailing list: http://www.brigidamos.com/mailing-list-signup.html
Like Brigid on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brigidamoswriter/?fref=ts
Follow Brigid on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Brigid_Amos
Visit Brigid’s website: http://www.brigidamos.com/
Brigid will be giving away one FREE copy of her book to one participant who comments on this blog post. Winner will be chosen at random by October 13th. Simply comment on this post to enter!
Recently I had the honor of assistant adjudicating for a manuscript pitch contest. A fellow Clean Reads author Eli Celata asked if I would help and I jumped at the opportunity. She had the brilliant idea to call the contest PitProm, and each of us would have a court -- I worked with Court Sci Fi and she managed Court Fantasy. The winning pitches would be crowned the Queen or King of PitProm and hopefully be offered contracts to get those amazing manuscripts published.
After 200 entries, with the top twenty hopefuls taking a week to work with our author mentors to edit and refresh their pitches, we ended up with a three-way tie, and Queens bowed gracefully upon the PitProm stage. Here we explore their worlds a bit more in-depth, and check out the pitches which won these ladies their crowns!
Fascinated by storytelling from a young age, author J.S. Dewes cut her teeth writing screenplays for award-winning short and feature films. A creative at heart, she loves immersing herself in the exciting realms portrayed in science-fiction and fantasy, where her aptitude for crafting imaginative tales can have free reign.
Manuscript Title: THE DIVIDE
140-Character Pitch: A castoff commander and her rebellious crew are all that stand between mankind and the universe’s collapse. #PitProm #A #SF
Who's your favorite character in your manuscript?
If I had to pick just one, I would say Cavalon, one of my two POV characters. Though I love all my characters, I had more fun writing him than anyone else. He’s the smartest guy in the room, but you would have no idea. He’s also the funniest guy in the room, and he’ll go to great lengths to make sure you’re aware of it. He’s a weird mix of humble and proud, genuine and sarcastic, defiant and cooperative. He’s also extremely willing to learn and change, and to push his boundaries, though he does get a little help from the other POV character in that regard. Their personalities play off each other in a really constructive way, and though the plot and stakes of the story are rather intense, the core of the book is really about that friendship and how the two balance each other.
What are your favorite and least favorite things about writing?
My favorite thing about writing is the discovery process. I love letting my characters take the reigns and lead the story in unanticipated directions. Though I really do enjoy the whole process, if I had to pick a least favorite aspect of writing, I’d say the general editing process after draft one. I’m a pantser, so for me, that initial unearthing process of finding the story is what I enjoy the most. After that point, it can be difficult to “see the forest for the trees,” though I have a group of trusted critique partners that have helped ease that process tremendously!
Jamie Rusovick-Smith is a California-born girl transplanted to the not-so-sunny state of Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband, four children, and pet rabbit. When she’s not writing, reading, or plotting, you can find her shaking her groove thing at a Zumba class, baking cupcakes, or taking her brood to do anything and everything fun within a fifty mile radius of her home.
Manuscript title: THE BURN KINGDOM
140-Character Pitch: FROSTBLOOD+LABRYINTHLOST Mother Nature made fire-wielding Azara to end the world. Instead she falls for a Brujo on her hit list #YA #Pitprom
Where did you get the idea for your manuscript?
The idea behind this MS was sort of a mishmash of things: It started after a major natural disaster a while back, and everyone was asking, “Why, if there’s a God, does He let these things happen?” And my author brain went into overdrive. I thought, what if that’s exactly what was going on — He was letting things happen, but it was Mother Nature doing this to mankind. What did she have against us? What was the ultimate goal? When I overlaid those questions onto the Biblical accounts of a flooding of the earth, and the prophecy of its eventual destruction by fire, I had the bones of my story. But it really came together after I remembered the Mexican Myth of the weather-controlling Acalica. (My great grandmother was born and raised in Guadalajara Mexico, so, per tradition, monster stories were a big part of my upbringing.) I really wanted to incorporate something from my heritage, this myth especially, into the story, but I didn’t want my main character to be a wizened old man! So my amazing CP and best friend (Hi Vanessa!) suggested I gender flip it. “Make them all young women,” she said. And it was like, Ah heck yes, that’s it! The Burn Kingdom was born.
Who’s your favorite character in your manuscript?
Grimmer, my MC’s mentor that, in my brain, looks exactly like Danny Trejo. While I was writing this, he surprised me the most and I tend to have a soft spot for the characters that drop twists I never saw coming.
Katherine Toran has had short fiction published in Abyss & Apex Magazine, the Whortleberry Press anthology Strange Changes, Every Day Fiction and Short Fiction Break. She also received an honorable mention in the Writers of the Future Contest. She’s currently working on her economics PhD at the University of Kentucky and writes fiction as a relief from the endless math jargon.
Manuscript Title: THE WITCH AND THE DEMON
140-Character Pitch: Fleeing a witchhunter, autistic Ebba sells her heart to a demon—trapping her in a deathmatch and an equally violent courtship. #PitProm #YA
Where did you get the idea for your manuscript?
I write the stories I wish someone else had written so I could read them. THE WITCH AND THE DEMON was inspired by my adoration for bad boy heroes but frustration with the genre’s clichés. I wanted to see if I could write my villainous love interest while avoiding unfortunate stalkerish implications or love triangles. My heroine, Ebba, accidentally ends up in a courtship with a demon after she throws a severed head at him. The difference between their moral values is both played for laughs and a major source of conflict throughout the book.
Who's your favorite character in your manuscript?
Kryptos, the demon, is my favorite character. As the God of Cowardice, he has a puffed-up ego and doesn’t understand humans, which makes him great fun to write.
These ladies rocked it, knocking those pitches out of the park. Each PitProm participant submitted a 140-character pitch, a query letter, and the first ten pages of their manuscript. You can see their final works at http://www.pitprom.ml/finals and see just how amazing these books are going to be.
Congratulations to all the PitProm participants -- and especially to our Queens. May you rule the 2017 PitProm Kingdom as fabulously as you can. Happy pitching everyone!
Hey BOOKISH people!
I've created an Instagram challenge for the month of October. I'll promote it on my blog and social media places. I wanted to invite you to join it! If you're on Insta, FB, or Twitter, you can use the challenge to engage with other readers in a fun and purposeful manner.
What's an Instagram challenge? Use the keywords from the photo to create a fun, beautiful, personality-rich photo. The challenge is to create a picture for every day of the month. When you post the picture, be sure to hashtag with the day keyword and the challenge hashtag.
For this one, it's #bemorebookmore.
(Example: October 1st, create a square containing a book related to October or what you like about October or what bookish thing you'll be doing. Provide a caption like: Can't wait for #Booktober to begin. SO many books, so little time! #bemorebookmore #bookstagram#booklife)
Feel free to save the pic, share the pic, and let's connect on Insta and have some fun in October!
What you might do occasionally is search through the hashtags for those days and 'like' and comment on other people's posts. This makes the challenge even more fun for everyone!
I hope to see you over there! If we're not connected already, I'm @kadeecarderink on Insta. :D
“It is awfully hard to be brave, when you're only a Very Small Animal.”
- A. A. Milne (from Winnie-The-Pooh)
In these shifting sands, I often feel like a Very Small Animal, just one pinpoint among the many, many stars. The reality is that dreams shift and shatter, and yellow-brick roads sometimes lead to dead ends. Sometimes life is a quick drop, a sudden stop. And what do we do? We can look up into the blue sky and wonder who is watching. We can glance over our shoulders to see if anybody saw when we fell down and skinned our knees. We can wipe away that glimmer of a tear because there just isn’t time right now. We can yell at the shoulda, coulda, woulda’s.
There are different types of fear. We fear letting people down, failing, falling, and basically appearing foolish or incompetent. Basically, we fear the unknown. It’s a survival instinct. Here’s one important lesson to realize: humans, inherently, are not psychic. Humans are limited in that way.
The good news is that the unknown is not a monster. The unknown simply doesn’t exist. The unknown is your projection of a possibility. It’s not fact, it’s not verifiable, and it’s probably not even what may occur.
Projection avoids the present. Appreciating the present eliminates fear. Let’s walk through it step by step.
I have always liked the movie Elizabethtown. It is the story of a man, Drew Baylor, whose great invention at a shoe company craters and he is fired; while he rigs a contraption to commit suicide, his sister calls to inform him that his father had a heart attack and died. Yeah, yeah, it sounds sad, whatever. This is the platform from which he falls, however, and the audience takes the journey with him, through facing failure and its wretched aftermath, new love, and fresh beginnings.
“You have five minutes to wallow in the delicious misery,” Claire Colburn says in a note to Drew. “Enjoy it, embrace it, discard ... and proceed. Sadness is easier because it's surrender. I say, make time to dance alone with one hand waving free.”
We see Drew dancing under some shade trees after scattering some of his dad’s ashes along the road. He cries.
You can dance and cry at the same time.
It’s about glorying in the moment rather than expecting a projected triumph.
At one point, Claire says to Drew, “We are intrepid. We carry on.”
Regardless of what we hope for, project, or dare, what IS exists. And it’s stunning.
Call it a web, a journey, a path, or a plotline, humans navigate this earth and their time on it. The more difficult the landscape, the more you see of your true self. Amid the bouquet of options, I can see yesterday’s selfish flippancy, the materialistic cravings, the immature belief. I can see yesterday’s shaking flesh, the whimpering muscles. But I can also see how these challenges, these opportunities, they work like a sieve. Through the emptying out, an instigation of firmness builds within; as the complaining sifts out like powdery flour, a more solid hand steadies a tangible faith.
Not so long ago, God breathed out life upon the universe. He pieced together billions of people with billions of opportunities to thrive in a life greater.
The God who made us has us here to learn more about his security. He is secure, he is able. He is intrepid. As a believer in him, he resides within me, therefore I am secure, I am able, I am intrepid. There’s no better place for me than where I am right now. There’s no better place for you, either. You’re in this time and space with me, and we can reflect on the delightful present of our reality.
You breathe air.
You blink with bright eyes.
Your senses ignite, your hope flares, and you are now more awake to the possibilities of freedom — the possibilities of life, beautiful, perfect, as it is, right here, right now. How do you feel without expectations for what should be, and is not? How do you feel knowing that the story you’ve been beating yourself up for does not exist, nor should it? ‘Should’ does not exist. How does it feel to accept that the slow car in front of you is supposed to be slow? How does it feel to accept that you have the opportunity to wipe gum off your shoe in front of your child? How does it feel to receive the incorrect order at the drive-thru, and know that this is the moment for which you’ve been preparing? You get right now to be your best self. You get this one moment to drop your pride, speak with humility, and act in kindness.
You get right now to choose how to act.
Three kinds of business exist: Your business, My business, and God’s business. Your gift is this one reality to mind your business. You don’t have to mind mine or God’s. You can’t mind God’s business. (Seriously, would you want to? No thanks.) That’s why it’s his. He gets to deal with the stars, the natural disasters, and the mass of humanity as a whole.
“David also said to Solomon his son, ‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you’” (1 Chronicles 28:20).
See, God IS minding his business, which includes us. He won’t stop. He will never leave or fail us — he’s with us, he’s within us, he’s around us. So we’re secure on that end. Be strong, be courageous, do the work. I manage my business. You manage your business. And we rockin’ it. We magnificent.
Intrepid means ‘fearless and bold.’ Plucky. Dauntless. Resolute. We are intrepid. We carry on. It’s our business. And remember, you got yours, I got mine! We manage the events as they piece together before us. We have nothing to fear. We have nothing to complain about. Don’t assume some other scenario than what you currently have could be better. This one moment is the best option. (Spiders and all!)
Small animals? Maybe our bodies are small creatures compared to the stars. On any ordinary day, are our souls woven into the Spirit of the King of Kings, the Creator, the manager of the stars? Yes. Able to do the work? Yes. Dancing with one hand flying free? Oh, my dear, yes.
More on this coming soon. <3
It's back to school time! CLICK HERE and let these great YA fiction titles ease you back into the routine. Choose the books you want, sign up to learn a little more about the authors, and start reading!
Note on the right at the link there's a giveaway for a $50 gift card! See all the fun by clicking that link up there. And share with your reading buddies!
A heist so monumental, it may cost them everything... When Reed Paine is sent to a secret detention school for teens whose parents are branded enemies of the state, he doesn’t expect to find friendship – especially after coming face to face with Riley Paca, a girl who has every reason to hate him. But when Reed, Riley and a few others start reading the old books they find in tunnels under the school, they begin to question what they are taught about the last days of America and the government that has risen in its place. Then the government decides to sell the Liberty Bell and Reed and his friends risk everything to steal it – to take back their history and the liberty that has been stolen from them.
Interview with Jennifer Froelich, author of STEALING LIBERTY:
Jennifer, will you describe your book in 3 words?
Monumental Future Heist.
If you could be any character from one of your books who would it be?
Xoey from STEALING LIBERTY. I love her quiet strength and gentle convictions. She does so much good for others, but doesn’t make a big deal about it. But she’s also flawed and angry underneath, and I can relate to that. I just think she handles it all so much better than I would.
What is your greatest fear about being an author?
That readers won’t connect with what I’m trying to say. Coming up with a story and then crafting it into a novel takes so much time and thought and energy and passion – if the result of all of that was a big fat “No, we hate it” that would be devastating.
Would the 10 year-old version of yourself kick your butt or praise you for what you've accomplished in life?
I got a typewriter for my tenth birthday, so I’m pretty sure she would be thrilled that I’m writing novels, but she would also be thoroughly disappointed that my success hasn’t translated into a mansion with servants and a pool with a water slide.
What do you do when you finish your book and turn it in to the editor?
Go to PF Chang’s with my family and then contemplate the impossibility of ever writing anything again.
What is your favorite Genre and why?
Suspense. I have always loved puzzles. Trying to follow the clues and figuring out how they fit together to create a complete picture is exhilarating.
What is one thing that would surprise us about you?
I went to seven high schools.
Was there an author who inspired you to write?
So many, but I think I was most heavily influenced by M.M. Kaye and Mary Higgins Clark.
How did you come up with the characters in your books?
I wanted lots of different kinds of people to identify with my ensemble cast in STEALING LIBERTY, so I used something called “Multiple Intelligence Theory” to develop my characters. MI Theory says people can be intelligent in eight areas: language, interpersonal communication, intrapersonal communication, math/science/tech, spatial skills, kinesthetics, nature and music. All of us have intelligences in more than one of these areas, but not usually all of them. I made sure my characters covered all eight areas. Now my favorite thing to ask readers is “which character was your favorite?” To my delight, I’m getting lots of different answers and hearing that my characters feel very real and not like “characters” at all.
Do you prefer to write alone or do you like to collaborate with other authors?
I prefer to write alone, but I rely heavily on my alpha and beta readers (my two sisters and my daughter) to give me input a few chapters at a time.
Everyone uses computers, tablets, phones and no one uses handwritten form or typewriters, what do you prefer to use?
I use my laptop, but I also keep notes in journals and on notecards. I even created what we called my “psycho wall” for Stealing Liberty, with maps and timelines and character sketches and flags and photos, all with yarn connecting ideas. It covered the entire wall in my writing loft and was probably a bit unsettling for visitors.
Is there a ritual you do every time before you begin your book?
Not really. My ideas are typically marinating for several years before I start writing, so I have journals filled with cryptic (and usually overly-dramatic) scenes and notes. Putting all of that in order is necessary, but only takes on ritualistic qualities when I decide to burn the lot of it and start over.
Thanks for taking some time with us today Jennifer!
Here's a little bit more about her, how to grab this fantastic book, and connect with her on social media:
Jennifer Froelich published her debut novel, Dream of Me, in late 2011, which reviewers praised as "well-orchestrated with outstanding imagery." Her second novel, A Place Between Breaths, published in 2014, was called "a roller-coaster ride with enough twists and turns to keep everyone interested" and won an Honorable Mention in Writer's Digest's 23rd Annual Self Published Book competition. Jennifer is a frequent contributing author to Chicken Soup for the Soul. A graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University, Jennifer worked for many years as a freelance editor and writer before publishing her own work. She lives in beautiful Idaho with her husband, two teenage kids, and a rescue cat named Katniss.
An excerpt from STEALING LIBERTY:
Reed is frowning. Something brews behind his eyes. “You said the Bell will travel by freight train?”
“From Old Philly to the Western Sand? Any chance it will pass on these tracks?”
Sam shrugs and bends over his tablet, tapping and swiping with sure fingers. Finally he raises his eyes. “It’s possible. There are a couple routes from Philadelphia to San Francisco still passable since the Yellowstone landslide, and this one hasn’t been bombed by rebels. Yet.”
Reed starts pacing. “Is there a way to hack the transportation system? To make sure it will pass the school?”
“Probably,” Sam says.
“Even if we do, the Bell will be crated and traveling by pretty fast,” Paisley says. “Not much to see.”
Reed stops pacing and his eyes lock with mine.
My heart turns over. I somehow know what he’s thinking and, for the first time, the hole in my heart feels like it might heal.
“I don’t want to see it,” he says. “I want to steal it.”
Purchase a copy of STEALING LIBERTY for only $4.99!
Amazon / Kindle
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I’ve been getting some feedback from readers, which I LOVE, by the way, and wanted to chat about some of the themes/topics/plot points in my Young Adult trilogy, Insurrection. I’ve seen several comments about how in the third book, Indelible, the fact that (spoiler alert!!) Saylor listens to Breame and works with him is upsetting. Readers want Saylor to make better decisions than that! Readers want heroes/protagonists to make the better decision. Readers want to see protagonists DO BETTER THAN. Am I right?
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
But seriously, have you ever, especially in your teens, made the decision to go against what you knew deep down to be right? Were you ever in a hard position where you didn’t know what was right or wrong, so you tried your best, but found yourself in what seemed like the wrong place at the wrong time? Have you ever found yourself listening to the lies of fear, hate, or doubt wandering about your brain?
Well, friends, this is what I want my readers to really ponder. I’m excited you questioned it, so that we could have this discussion.
Sometimes we listen to our demons. Sometimes we listen to our doubts instead of our faith.
Sometimes we listen to the crowd, or the false news, or the scary whispers, instead of finding the truth from the Commander. Sometimes we make the decision to go into the tunnel instead of letting the bombs blow up the mountaintop.
I wanted Saylor to face some hard decisions and waver. I wanted her to have to rally. I wanted to let her take a wild risk that turned out a bit sour. Why? Because I wanted to give her a chance to redeem herself. I wanted to give her Commander a chance to let her know the truth about who she was, who HE was, and all she could do. Saylor needed to see the darkness so she could choose the light. Too many spoilers there? I don’t know.
Additionally, I wanted to let readers get to know Wellington Breame and judge him for themselves. Was he a big, fat liar? Or was he a pitiable genius? We can’t often deal with our enemies until we’ve met them and named them.
Saylor needed some impossible moments to realize her full power. Could she have done that if she'd "made the right decision"? Sometimes there is no "right" decision. The right decision finds us. The right decision helps you realize your full potential, because it's exactly the decision you needed to make to be better.
Until next time, readers! Leave a comment, review, or a question on my Subscribe page! I’d love to hear from you! Choose the light. <3 Happy reading!
Crucible: a situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new (Merriam-Webster.com). What’s your crucible? Are you there?
My kids and I dove into a Bible story the other day, where God rescued his people from Pharaoh’s impending doom. He’d rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and Pharaoh allowed them to leave captivity. The people left, headed home, facing days and nights in the hot desert, following a pillar of fire toward the unknown. They ended up on the sands of the Red Sea, a body of water flowing for miles in both directions. And then Pharaoh and his 600 men and their raging chariots raced to recapture them. The Israelites freaked out then, as I think most of us would. They projected their fear, they cried, they whined. And God replied, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:15-16). Essentially, God told Moses to tell the Israelites they couldn’t go over it. They couldn’t go under it. They couldn’t go around it. They had to go through it. And to stop whining.
Just like the classic picture book of “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt,” the adventurers had to face a challenge bigger than they understood.
You, oh incredible wayfarer, will face challenges bigger than yourself and bigger than you understand. It’s the plight of mankind. It’s your job. Don’t ask, “Why isn’t this easier?” Ask instead, “How can this make me better?”
The good thing about these challenges is that they make us into our best selves. Challenges aren’t just part of the story; they’re the story.
1) Challenges show us God’s bigness.
On this tiny planet, as this one tiny soul, I often don’t see the big picture. I’m one puzzle piece, you’re one puzzle piece, and sometimes we lose sight of the whole puzzle and all it entails. But God’s there, with this big love for us. In the fire, beside the wide sea, and under the grinding weight of the mortar’s pestle, God stands right there in the middle of the crucible beside you, with the strength, grace, and power to go on. He’s an endless source of strength, and he offers it to his people. In these challenges, we get a mere glimpse of how he can fuel us.
2) Challenges teach us gratitude.
“My struggles are my own unique manifestations designed specifically to give me the opportunities to love and accept myself fully” (Jill Coleman). Seeing a challenge, obstacle, or hardship as an opportunity to raise a hand in gratitude teaches stability. Accepting challenge as a chance to love is part of why we’re here. The apostle Paul mentored his friend Timothy with these words, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Being grateful in adversity proves faith. How much faith do you have? How grateful are you for the rain? How grateful are you for the wall you just hit? Are you grateful for who you are so that you can be in this place and time to face this challenge? Are you ready?
Practicing intentional gratitude exhibits a willingness to level up.
3) Challenges make us stronger.
“In the days of the sailing vessels, this is the way they chose a tree to make a mast: They did not go to some sheltered place where the trees were protected from the elements. They went up into the mountains where the soil was thin and rocky. They found a tree that had been buffeted by the storms and beaten by the winter winds. That tree, that hardened tree, they cut down for the mast of their ship. So suffering hardens and strengthens us” (Robert Shannon).
In being a wife and mom, I’ve found strength to be a power. Maybe that sounds silly, but I feel like there’s still a big train of thought out there than women should be soft and weak. And I’ve never been able to be that. I love lifting heavy weights and pushing limits, because when I lift those heavy weights, life feels simple and free (and super sweaty hot). I love the feeling of picking up my twenty-pound weights and not struggling to do so. I love being able to do interval sprints and not pass out dead on the ground. I love that with a consistent daily grind over the years, I’ve built up my strength in a tangible way that I can see for myself and nobody can take it away from me or deny it. I love that now the effort has proved itself. In the beginning of trying heavier weights in my work outs, I couldn’t hardly finish a twenty-minute workout, the fifteen-pounders made me just about fall flat on my face (maybe they did one time), and the idea of ‘sprints’ was absolutely laughable.
But now. Now I know that trying harder challenges means I win. If one of my kids ever needs to be carried? I can carry her. If I need to help someone carry something? I can help. If someone else cries out, frustrated, saying “I can’t do it,” well then I CAN say, “Yes, you can.” Because strength manifests itself. People are drawn to it. People want to overcome. People want to be the mast of the ship, carrying their people home. Or, at least I do. I bet you do, too. And I’m excited about tomorrow’s opportunity to try again.
Are you grateful for the workout?
4) Challenges teach us courage.
Being that mast on that ship? Where will it take you? Oh my friend, it carries you into the vast unknown. With each challenge you face, with each fear you mow down, you build up a portfolio of proven records. It all builds up.
Never once did the authors of the Bible instruct or show the necessity of fear and letting it win. No, in fact, the Bible displays the opposite. “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). God made you powerful. God made you loving. God installed within you a sound mind. He dwells within you, and you are worthy to take on this challenge. Maybe you just needed to hear that. Very often, the things you fear are the paths you need to take in order to be your best self.
5) Challenges offer us a life greater.
“You’ve got to try this new show!” “You’ve got to get this soap!” “You’ve got to visit Venice; it’s beautiful!” In this context, a friend will probably be recommending something to you because that friend cares, with enthusiasm.
You’ve got to take on this challenge, because on the other side awaits a life greater. You’ve got to do these hard things, so that you see the beauty in the madness. Don’t miss this opportunity for greatness. Don’t miss these steps, small or scary as they seem. “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
What’s your best life? Being in God’s will. What’s God’s will? For you to intentionally live a life grateful for the challenges he presents to you. No better path exists than the intentionally joyful path. You’ve got no reason to be sad or to complain or to give up. When you hit a wall, look up. Look around. Celebrate what IS, because it’s a glorious adventure.
There is only the journey toward God’s heart. And this journey is a life greater.
“There is a Brotherhood of Man,
A Benevolent Brotherhood of Man,
A noble tie that binds
All human hearts and minds
Into one Brotherhood of Man.
Your lifelong membership is free.
Keep a-givin' each brother all you can.
Oh aren't you proud to be
In that fraternity,
The great big Brotherhood of Man?”
(~How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying)
I'm from the old-world school of thinking where I don't mind if humans refer to themselves as 'man' or 'mankind.' In fact, I'm a brother. Yes, I'm a girl. But I pledged a fraternity in college, Alpha Psi Omega, a fantastic theater fraternity where I had the pleasure of facing trials by fire with my fellow thespians. I have a bunch of brothers. I have a bunch of sisters. And I'm grateful for each one. I'm grateful for this great brotherhood of man, this great village of people who encourage, step up, and fill in.
This summer has been epic for my family and I, in many ways. I began this "Epic Summer" journey with intentional ideas. I did some of them and I still have several on my agenda before the days dwindle back to autumn.
I decided against posting the weekly updates on the project, due to my windy schedule and other promotions I had going on, but I wanted to offer Epic Summer in its entirety for anyone who might be interested!
Here you can download the PDF of the risks, realities, and encouraging thoughts I wanted to offer for each themed "week." By downloading that PDF you receive twelve weeks of fun and encouragement! For free! Just cause I like ya. There's still plenty of time for you to use this to make the rest of your days epic. I hope you will.
Enjoy the finale of Epic Summer. May your days be sunny, your nights breezy, and your hours crammed with hope. May you risk the doldrums and stormy seas, and face the glorious reality of life as it is. And may you find it all quite the epic adventure.
Like a fun Young Adult sci fi? What about free things? Well my fellow Clean Reads author BW Morris is celebrating with a bang this month! Check it out!
What if society was controlled by a drink, but there was another drink that might allow one to change the way things were? This is the question faced by Tyler Ward and his five friends in the new book Six Pack: Emergence.
Tyler is set to graduate from secondary school when he learns the truth about the nation of Novusordo and how the government controls the population through a drink. He and his five friends visit a professor’s house, consume another drink and gain strange powers. Now they find themselves part of a movement against the government and must learn to control their powers and how they might change society. But can they trust the movement… or even each other?
Six Pack: Emergence, a young adult, science fiction, dystopian novel is written by B.W. Morris, a longtime writer for small-town newspapers, though it took him a while to embrace his inner comic book geek and put his overactive imagination to work through novel writing. The novel, published by Clean Reads, is Morris’ debut work, the first in a planned trilogy.
To celebrate the month of his birthday, Morris is giving away a free ebook of his debut novel. You must enter the giveaway at Amazon by Aug. 16 and may do so by following this link: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/1f12261980c92216#ts-afo
Morris may be reached via email at email@example.com or to learn more about his work, visit his blog at relaxingwithsixpack.blogspot.com.
Friends, so check out that giveaway, enter for your chance to win, and enjoy a new author on the scene. Feel free to share with your friends ~ sharing is caring! Happy reading!
Clark Treasure assumes the drink he stole off the captain is absinthe… until the chemicals in the liquid give him the ability to awaken the dead.
A great invention for creating perfect soldiers, yes, but Clark wants to live as a miner, not a slave to the army—or the deceased. On the run, Clark turns to his estranged, mining tycoon father for help. The Treasures welcome Clark with open arms, so he jumps at the chance to help them protect their ranch against Senator Horan, a man who hates anyone more powerful than he.
Amethyst Treasure loathes the idea of spending the summer away from her bustling city life to rot on her father’s ranch, but when a handsome young man shows up claiming to be her secret half-brother, her curiosity is piqued. He’s clever, street smart, and has no qualms jumping into the brawl between the Treasures and Horans. Caught in the middle, Horan kidnaps Amethyst, and all she gets is this lousy bullet through her heart.
When Clark brings her back to life, however, the real action starts, and Amethyst joins him in his fight against the Horan clan—whatever the cost. Defeating the Horans may seem easy at first, but going up against men with the same fighting vengeance as Clark, and a Senator with power he’s obtained by brainwashing the masses?
Well, Amethyst’s boring summer at home has turned into an adventure on the run, chock full of intrigue, danger, love, and a mysterious boy named Clark.
Purchase your copy of Treasure Darkly here: https://www.amazon.com/Treasure-Darkly-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B00TOV9A6Q/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500404647&sr=8-1&keywords=treasure+darkly
Jordan Elizabeth writes down her nightmares in order to live her dreams. When she’s not creating art or searching for lost history in the woods, she’s updating her blog. Jordan roams Central New York, but she loves to travel.
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