Friday, December 31, 2010

A Year In Review: 2010

2010 was really on the whole a great year for me and I hope you have had one as well. So many things have been running through my mind about what happened this year, I had to share with you.

I just wasn't content was I? I had to go and start two other blogs. :-) But seriously Operation Encourage an Author and The Writer's Alley have been tremendous blessings to me.

Since the start of OEA in February, I have seen where God's hand has been guiding me. To be able to be His hands and feet in this issue has been one of the greatest experiences. And after reading a very convicting book (grin), Start Here, I realized where I had strayed on OEA and worrying about comment numbers and the like, when I should be concerned about the heart of the issue. But that is another post for another time...

I have been blessed to know 10 very wonderful and very talented ladies at The Writer's Alley. Why they put up with me I will never know, but they do and for that I am eternally grateful. :-)

I took over a beading business. Crazy, yes, fun, yes, an outlet for creativity, yes! And I am loving it. Only God knows what He is doing when I think I am just going crazy. Think I need to TRUST here? Yeah. I do.

Met several names of the Christian fiction industry. One a Christy Award winning author and another that has 500,000 books in print!

Celebrated a YEAR of blogging in November!! Wow, that went by fast! I can hardly believe it, but the party was fantastic and I loved sharing it with you. This blogging experience has been absolutely fantastic and I can't thank you all enough!

I went crazy and said I was going to read 100 books in 2010. I read 222. Yeah. So much for that goal. Of which I don't ever plan to make again. I definitely plan to be more picky in my book choices next year. Like actually putting the book down if I don't like the book and focus more on my chosen genre of Women's fiction. I don't regret reading 222 books, I just don't think I will do that again in a year. :-)

As a whole we read over 1800 Christian fiction books in 2010! Just a bit shy of our goal, but hey, that is a lot of books!!

I joined Facebook. Insane I know. But well, I'm still glad I did and I have enjoyed this new adventure. :-)

I received one of my first worsts scores in the history of writing (okay, maybe not that dramatic) with a zero out of a possible ten and learned that wow, there actually is a community of wonderful people who have all been there and know right what I am going through. I don't regret that score, God taught me through it and I think a great deal of that was- sigh- due to my pride. Not an easy thing to swallow. But the spoonful of sugar was the outpouring of love you all blessed me with. I better quit not...

I met my critique partner of which I prayed for months to find, in lovely and wonderful Julia Reffner. You mean so much to me Julia! I have loved working with you and look forward to many more manuscript critiqueings.

Along with the fantastic blogging community I was introduced to, I also met two of the dearest ladies I think that walk this planet. I took a deep breath and dived in and bought A Passion Most Pure. I have never been the same since. I have met Julie Lessman, grown to love her dearly and have been blessed because of the outpouring of love and the godly example she sets everywhere she goes.

Through Julie I was also introduced to lovely Laura Frantz, a great inspiration to me and Laura you will NEVER know what your prayers did (and do!) for me in my writing. It has kept me going more than once with "Laura is praying, I better keep on writing!". Bless you, dear friend.

To my blog followers, the authors I have hosted here and the people whose lives that have touched mine, I am forever indebted. You all have played a part in God's kingdom and I am thrilled to be working shoulder to shoulder with you in this marathon called life.

I leave you today on this last day of 2010 with great wishes for the new year, that God's light and love will shine ever more brightly upon you and the dreams you are pursuing will never dim, but grow brighter under the strength of God's guidance.

Five sites I discovered in 2010- I haven't been the same since:

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My 2010 Top Ten Best Reads

My goodness this is going to be hard. I have decided to confine my list to titles released in 2010. If I didn't do this I would have a top TWENTY list and I want to keep it to ten if at all possible. :-) Though I might have to resort to 11 like Joy did.

If I included fiction from before 2010 my list would be sure to include such great works as: The Familiar Stranger, A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, A Passion Denied, Fools Rush In, The Frontiersman's Daughter, A Bartered Bride, A Tailor Made Bride and so many more!! The list would be near endless.

But here is 2010 list only! :-)

2010 Best Books (according to Casey)
(these are in order of how I much I loved them, though the difference between 10 and 1 is a mere breath)

#10: Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer

#9: Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania by Cerella Sechrist

#8: Disaster Status by Candace Calvert

#7: Dining with Joy by Rachel Hauck

#6: She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell

#5: Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

#4: Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad

#3: A Hope Undaunted by Julie Lessman

#2: Within My Heart by Tamera Alexander

#1: Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes

This was so much harder than I would have determined and I went over the list countless times. But here it is!! Did you get the chance to read any of these fabulous books this year? Do tell!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordless SNOWY Wednesday

When a foot of snow (yes a FOOT) of snow gets dumped on you during the night, it often causes havoc in the morning. As you can see below....


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Book Review: Possession by Rene Gutteridge

Intense. Page-turner. Gripping. Passionate. Emotive.
Those are just some of the words that come to mind as I sit down to write the review of Rene Gutteridge’s dynamite book POSSESSION. I couldn’t stop reading this book. I would steal snatches at every available opportunity. The dialogue is snappy and never stops for breath. The descriptions pulled me into the story with strong verb usage and clearer than clear settings and characters. Each actor in this “play” had their own sets of challenges and struggles to the highest degree. I believed every emotion that poured forth from their tormented souls.
What I loved so much about this book is the author knows exactly where to stop a scene in that absolute worst conflict, then turn and switch to another scene and character. Talk about not being able to put the book down!
The book flows with urgency and depth, there are moments of relief, more for the reader than anything else, but quickly escalate once again. Just when you think it can’t get worse it does.
From a dynamite finish to an explosive ending, this book has to be one of the best suspense novels I have read this year. I LOVED it! A winner for many suspense fans I am sure.
This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the publishers for my copy to review.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Giveaway and Author Interview: Ozark Weddings

Today I am hosting Anita Higman and the interview has been shared with her co-author, Janice Thompson. Read to the end to find out how to have the chance to win one of two books!!

Your Barbour Heartsong 3-in-1 collection is entitled, Ozark Weddings. Tell us a little bit about the three stories.

Anita: All three stories are set in Arkansas—Eureka Springs, Little Rock, and Hot Springs. Larkspur Dreams and Castles in the Air are romantic comedy, while the middle story, The Love Song, is more dramatic in tone.

Janice: Larkspur Dreams is a lighthearted, whimsical tale that will appeal to inspirational romance readers, particularly those with artistic leanings. The Love Song reaches into the depths of the reader’s soul, dealing with the topic of overcoming past hurts. Castles in the Air provides a humorous look at the way we are perceived by others, and teaches us that our prejudices (comical as they might be) often keep us from the very thing God has planned for us.

Anita, you and Janice co-authored the three stories in Ozark Weddings. How do writers go about co-authoring?

Anita: There are a number of ways to co-author a novel. One writer might do the research and the other writer may actually write the story. Or co-authors may each choose a character and write from that character’s POV. In the three novels, I guess you could say I wrote the body and wings of the stories, and Janice helped to make them fly. She has a gift for critiquing.

Janice: Working with Anita is a breeze because she conceives and fully plots the stories then lets me add my thoughts/tidbits to give them flavor. She is so quirky and fun to work with, and I am very proud of the stories we have co-produced.

Were there times when it was hard to work together?

Anita: Janice is not only talented, but easy to work with. There were a few times in one of the novels that I found myself writing in a way that strayed from the general concept of a Heartsong romance. Janice made some good suggestions, which steered me in the right direction.

Janice: I can honestly say that I’ve never worked with anyone who was so willing to accept critique and/or take suggestions as Anita. She is a precious friend and collaborative partner. I already knew she was talented (even before we began this project) but had no idea how gracious she would be. Since I’ve written for the Heartsong line for years, I was able to “teach her the ropes” (as it were) and she was a ready learner! That’s not to say she hasn’t taught me a thing or two. I’ve learned much from her throughout this process, particularly as it applies to romantic tension. She’s far better at that than I am, and I’m happy to admit it.

Why did you choose to be a writer?

Anita: Ever since I was a little girl, I had this need to express myself in some sort of artistic medium. I’ve tried a number of things: piano, painting, decorating, and acting. But I’ve never been very good at any these endeavors, except writing. I guess really then—writing chose me.

Janice: Like Anita, I’ve always been artistic. As a youngster, I sang, danced and played the piano. I was also very involved in theater as a young person. I’ve been writing since childhood. I wrote my first novella in 6th grade, then went on to write musical comedies for the stage before turning to books in the mid-90’s. Like Anita, I can truly say that I didn’t choose writing; it chose me. Or, perhaps I should say that God chose it for me, as a gift.

When did you have your first success as a writer?

Anita: After several years of writing, I had some gradual success—books for children, books of one-act plays, and nonfiction for women. These successes were enough to keep me going toward my ultimate goal, which was to write novels.

Janice: This may sound a bit silly, but my first real writing “success” happened my senior year in high school, when I was chosen to help write the senior production. I had a blast, and the scene I crafted (a 1930’s/Busby Berkeley-esque “The Show Must Go On” scene) was a huge success. I can’t tell you what fun I had, or how great it felt for people to respond as they did.

Do you have any special methods of getting into the writing zone, such as favorite scents, music, or certain foods?

Anita: In the past I used to go to a French cafĂ©, order coffee and scrambled eggs, and then write a rough chapter. The noise, music, and bustle always energized me creatively. But now I’m more of a homebody, so I sit for long hours in my office, working on my stories.

Janice: An "ideal" writing situation for me would involve someplace like Starbucks (or otherwise) with a cup of my favorite hot beverage in my hand (to be discussed below). Ironically, when I'm at home, I can't stand having music going. I find it terribly distracting... something about the "beat" drives me nutty. Having the television on is okay, but it's often muted. Crazy, I know. I'm a fanatic about my Diet Dr. Pepper and several flavors of hot tea. I particularly love Earl Grey and Chai Latte, among others. And I'm nuts about hot chocolate in the wintertime. I'm also crazy about my puppies. I have two red mini-dachshunds named Sasha and Copper. They usually settle in next to me on the sofa, Sasha on my right, Copper on my left. When we're all in place (with a cup of tea or a Diet Dr. Pepper on the end table, depending on the season) I'm ready to begin. Of course, I usually have to weed through several emails (clearing a path) before I can actually start writing. Whew! Sounds like quite a process, doesn't it?! It's a wonder I get anything done at all!

What is your best advice for aspiring writers?

Anita: If you feel called to write, don’t let people discourage you. I’m sure they don’t realize the impact of their words, but negative remarks can undermine our courage and joy. Comments similar to: “Maybe you weren’t really meant to be published.” Or, “Are you making any money at this yet?” Perhaps you’ve heard, “Why can’t you write like my favorite author?” Honestly, I could go on and on here. Writing is a great and honorable profession—one that can challenge, inspire, and change people’s lives. If you love words and love arranging them into stories, then don’t let the battering influence of dispiriting comments shatter your dream. Keep pressing on!

Janice: I often say this to young/new writers: Learn the craft, but don’t necessarily write what the publishers/agents/houses tell you to write. Trends change. Stick with the stories God places on your heart and if He intends them to be published, He will find the right publishing house in the right time.

What are your writing plans for the future?

Anita: I’d love to just keep doing what I’m doing. But I think I’d also enjoy writing novels for the young adult market.

Janice: I’m open to whatever God wants (and I really mean that). If He shifts me in a new direction (women’s fiction, for example) I’m following His lead! If He asks me to lay the writing down for a season in order to accomplish a different task, I’m open to that, too.

We’d love for you to visit our websites at  and . If you’re interested in our Heartsong collection, Ozark Weddings, it can be purchased in bookstores or ordered online at

Okay readers here is your chance to check out Anita and Janice's new book! TWO copies will be given away!!

Please leave an email address. If I draw your name and there is no email, you will not win!

For extra entries:
~Be a follower
~Be a subscriber

And a NEW one:
~Follow my group blog, The Writer's Alley HERE

Contest is only open in the U.S. and void where prohibited. Chances of winning are based on the number of entries and winner is draw from a non-biased third party- I am not responsible for any lost or damaged items for said prize.

Thanks for coming by to enter! Contest ends on January 8th, 2011.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Book Review: Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball by Donita K. Paul

I loved this charming novella. From the cover to the characters to the setting to the plot, it is a heartwarming tale that I plan to enjoy time and time again.
I didn’t read this story. I became this story. From the first page to the last it was like being wrapped in a warm embrace.  I don’t read fantasy, so to pick up a book by a well known fantasy author left me curious to know just what I would come away with. I loved it. A great deal more than ever I planned. It has a contemporary taste, but is seasoned with a delicate blend of freedom to imagine the impossible. This book has a wonderful balance of fantasy and contemporary and I loved the fact that my imagination was given permission to explore.
By far what I loved the most about TWO TICKETS TO THE CHRISTMAS BALL was the faith message. The romance was sweet and the characters very endearing, but the message woven through the story was so completely well done that it never felt rushed.
This is one of those stories that you want to read to your children. Place it on the coffee table all season long and read over and over again. I have nothing negative to say about this book –except I didn’t want it to end.
This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to the publishers for my copy to review.

Would you please rate this review? Follow this link to do so. Thanks!

*Drum Roll* FIVE WINNERS!!!

Many thanks to Donna Winters for her generosity. This giveaway was so much fun to draw names for. FIVE winners total and you all have been emailed so be watching for it to come through. :-)

And now they are....

Of the four book Great Lakes Romance Collection:

Apple Blossom!!

Blue Rose!!

Trinity Rose!!



I thought for a while there we would only have flower winners. LOL. Congrats ladies!!

Have a GREAT weekend everyone!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

What I Read This Week (for the last time)

Yes, that is right, I am updating you on what I have read this week for the last time. Next Friday is New Year's Eve and though I don't know yet what I will post, it probably won't be this. :-) I've enjoyed doing this for a year (wow it went by fast), but I also found that while I am a great "speed reader" and it comes in handy, I want to enjoy reading fewer books and being a little more picky about them. I wasn't very selective this year and I want to change that in the coming year.

If you happen to be interested, my Best of 2010 list will be coming out Thursday of next week. We will have to compare notes. :-)

What I read this week:

And they are:

Love Finds You in Homestead, Iowa by Melanie Dobson
Start Here by Alex and Brett Harris (non-fiction)
Possession by Rene Gutteridge

GREAT books all the way around, I encourage every teen to read Start Here it is a thoroughly thought provoking book and I encourage you to go get a copy. I will most like post on this later with why I think that.


If any of you are interested I posted yesterday on The Writer's Alley: Writing in a Winter Wonderland

And DON'T FORGET, we are still about 200 books shy of making our 2,010 books in 2010, so let me know how many you read this year!!

Also for anyone that is interested, I am coordinating the ACFW book club chat this month in our Yahoo! Group. If you haven't joined the book club I encourage that you do so. We chat amongst ourselves for the first half of the month and then discuss the featured book from the 21st on. Hope you can join us! :-)

AND our own dear blogging friend Carman is having an end of the year bash to celebrate the ringing in of 2011! Check it out, she has some GREAT prizes already. :-)

That is all for today, I'll be back tomorrow to announce the FIVE winners of Donna Winter's collection of books!! Enter if you haven't already- link on the sidebar. :-)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Have a Dream...

I have a dream to someday live where the earth touches the sky in a sea of green and blue.

I have a dream to someday meet and thank in person the people who have encouraged and supported me on this journey.

I have a dream to someday move someone with the power of the written word

I have a dream to someday meet, fall in love and marry the man of my dreams

I have a dream to someday hold in my arms a precious baby girl, one packaged with love from the heart of China

I have a dream to someday inpact just one life for Christ

I have a dream to someday kneel before the cross of Calvary

To bow before my King and hear the words...

Well done good and faithful servant. You are much loved.

What are your dreams?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Book Review: Where Hearts Are Free by Golden Keyes Parsons

3.5 stars.
On one hand I enjoyed this story. There were circumstances that propelled the story forward and kept me wondering just how it was going to come together and the end is a bit of shocker-I never saw it coming.
Though the third book in a series, I had no trouble picking this up to read. I think it would have a richer context knowing other characters from previous books, but I never struggled coming in at the end. The heroine is strong and determined, but also has a sweet vulnerability.
I thought settings were well described and the emotions of the heroine clearly shown in a way that made me empathize with her.
But I also thought certain aspects of the book could have been heightened for a greater reading experience. There were a couple times when conflict was resolved too easily and some of the actions, emotions, etc, were “told” to me as a reader instead of letting me “experience” them. When I read I like to be brought right into the middle of the story and while I still think this story as a whole was good, I wasn’t drawn into it. I also would have liked the hero’s emotions for the heroine evocated a great deal sooner than it was, that seemed abrupt.
But overall, I still liked the story. It has a good setting, characters, a noble circumstance and flowing plot.
I received this book from Goodreads First Giveaways. My opinion is completely my own.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Giveaway and Author Interview: Legendary Space Pilgrims

Welcome to Writing for Christ, Grace Bridges! It is good to have you here!
How long did you write before you were published?
Forever, lol. I began scribbling down stories as a kid aged nine or so. They were science fiction too, with as much page space given to illustrations as text! I still have that book today.
When you held that first book in your hands, what was your first thought?
That the hard work starts now. It is true of any publishing effort, but most definitely in independent publishing, that putting the thing out there is just the very beginning of a book’s journey even though so much work has gone before to get it to that point.
What are you working on now?
Adding a subplot and extra villains to the finished first draft of CyberDublin, a near-future cyber-mystery; slogging along on Godspeed, which is the sequel to my first book, Faith Awakened; and regular monthly episodes of my superhero serial Comet Born which appears at Digital Dragon magazine:
Where can readers find out more about your books?
Legendary Space Pilgrims: On a planet that has never seen the sun, a harvester hears a Voice from beyond. It's time to leave the oatfield. Mario and Caitlin escape the mind control of Planet Monday, following the Voice to unknown worlds where wonders and challenges await.
Faith Awakened: A computer technician gets more than she bargains for when she plunges herself and her companions into virtual-reality cryogenic stasis to escape a raging virus.
And I have a list of all my stuff here, including various short stories available free online:
What message(s) do you want to be clear to your readers?
I don’t want to be too specific about that. I think it can and should be different for everyone. If I enjoy writing it, and someone enjoys reading it in whatever way it meets them, then I’ve done my job.
What are two things that people wouldn't normally know about you as a writer and or person?
I find it very tough to write at home. Mostly I have to go elsewhere to be productive. Maybe it’s something about handwriting in a notebook?
And: right now it’s summer in New Zealand and hot enough that I’m thinking about a quick trip to the beach J which is also a great place to write.
Thank you for being with us today.  Any final words for readers?
I would encourage you to take a look at science fiction, even if you don’t usually read science fiction. Legendary Space Pilgrims is in fact more akin to Pilgrim’s Progress than Star Wars, and more about the people than any technology that may be necessary for getting them from place to place. Why not let your imagination be expanded?
Readers, here is your chance to win Grace's book, Legendary Space Pilgrims.

Please leave an email adddress! If I draw your name and there is no email, you will not win.

For extra entries:

~Be a follower
~Be a subscriber

Contest is only open in the U.S. and void where prohibited. Chances of winning are based on the number of entries and winner is draw from a non-biased third party- I am not responsible for any lost or damaged items for said prize.

Thanks for coming by to enter! Contest ends on December 31st.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Music to Encourage and Inspire on Your Sunday

I was listening to this song this morning while doing the breakfast dishes. Powerful. Absolutely powerful. Have a wonderful, Christ filled Sunday!

Testify to Love by Avalon

Saturday, December 18, 2010

This Week's Winner!!!

And the winner of Margaret Daley's Christmas Bodyguard is....

Katy M!!!!

I have already emailed you, so be checking your inbox. :-) Thanks to everyone who stopped by, see you all next week!

Friday, December 17, 2010

What I Read This Week And General Winter Break Merriment!!!

My winter break officially starts TOMORROW!! It could start today, but cleaning the house, maybe working on a bit of writing (probably not though, after thinking through my day) and possibly preparing for a herculean snowstorm said to dump 8" on us, I can't wait to hit the two weeks of bliss. I.e.: books, scrapbooking, possibly beading, books, plotting my next WIP and more BOOKS! So I hope the ones I have been waiting on will make it through that snowstorm and to my fireside.

What are your winter plans?

What I read this week:

And they are:

Beside Still Waters by Tricia Goyer
Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire by Lauralee Bliss
The Bridge of Peace by Cindy Woodsmall

Definately the later was the best of the three, but Lauralee's book was a pleasant, warm read. A favorite in the LFY collection for sure for me.

And don't forget to tally your Christian fiction reads for the year. Let's try and read 2,010 books in 2010! We need just a couple hundred more, so every little bit helps!

Amber over at Seasons of Humilty is holding a very unique reading contest and I hope you will join in with me on this challenge. You know all those books on your shelves that thrilled you at one point, but you haven't gotten back to since? For me, my excuse is not having the time. Not next year! Amber encourages you to join in on the challenge to read those books on your shelf. With 4 different levels to jump in at, I hope you will go over and check it out. I have decided to read 20 books from my shelf in 2011 and it has gotten me so excited to revisit the worlds of some of my favorites books like, A Passion Most Pure, Making Waves, Nothing But Trouble, When the Heart Cries, The Covenant and The Frontiersman's Daughter to name just a few.

Author Sandra Robbins is visiting Operation Encourage an Author this week

I have spent the last two days scheduling book giveaways for 2011 and I am excited to bring it all to you in the new year. There are going to be some great ones!

I'm getting my best of 2010 list ready, and will probably reveal it in the next couple of weeks. What's on your list?

Have a GREAT Friday and I'll be back tomorrow with a winner for Margaret Daley's Christmas Bodyguard.  :-)

FTC Rules

According to new FTC rules I must let you, the reader know, that all views shared on this blog are strictly my own. Books to review are either provided for me by the author, publisher or ones I have purchased and I am under no obligation whatsoever to present anything, but my true opinion on any product. I receive no monetary compensation for anything written on this blog. Any giveaways on this blog are provided by the author/ publisher and I am not responsible for any views they express in their work or on this site. Giveaways are void were prohibited and chances of winnng are based on the number of applicants. A random winner is draw when a book is given away.

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