Saturday, May 27, 2017

Books That ... I Must Read Over the Summer

Spiraling off of Jonathan who apparently snitched from Nadine, I bring to you my absolute must-reads of this summer. You have no idea how many times I rearranged this post (books are hard to prioritize!!). So I hope you enjoy :)

Ah, summer. My least favorite part of the year :P It's great for reading, but without a massive school agenda to put behind me, I don't really get extra reading time this year? Help, this is a first and it's awful! Sadness. :( So, I'm trying to keep this list to the books I absolutely must read. Of course, I'm always open to recommendations as my TBR is infinite. ;)

And to clarify, by "read over the summer" I mean complete between June 1 and September 1. These are in order of priority.

Where the Woods Grow Wild by Nate Philbrick

I started this a few weeks ago and I love it, but I kind of ran out of time. So I'm determined to finish this one over the summer and leave 5 star reviews everywhere :D

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson

I began this one I don't know how long ago and ran out of time to finish it before it was due back to our library. I'm not sure I've been to our library since, so I hope to complete it soon!

Doctor Ox's Experiment by Jules Verne

For starters, I'm pretty sure I've never read anything by Jules Verne. Also, my dad wants me to read this so we can discuss it and it's been almost two years and I still haven't. Hehe. It's a short story, so I'm sure I can manage it. This one's really just priority because of my extreme procrastination.

This Present Darkness by Frank E. Peretti

I have the chance to hear him speak this year at the Oregon Christian Writer's Conference, so I figure I'd better read his most famous book before I go :) I think we own this one. Hopefully? Besides, I've heard a friend's books compared to his, so I'm sure it will be interesting.

Pearl In the Sand by Tessa Afshar

She, too, will be at the conference. This one is on Rahab which interest me, and I know our library has it. But it'd be really great if I could purchase a copy and get it signed while I'm there.

Some Kind of Happiness by Clare Legrand

I have heard this book is amazing from allll my trustworthy online resources (you know who you are), so I bought it :D I ... have no idea what it's about, although I'm sure I read the synopsis at one point. I can't wait to see what the hype among my friends is about :)

Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex + Brett Harris

It would be a crime to not fit this one in while I'm a teenager. And time is growing short!! Nah, I still have 14.5 months. All of my friends have adored this book, so I'm sure someone local has it if my library fails me again, and I know it will be worth the read.

DIY MFA by Gabriela Pereira

Spelled out, that means a do-it-yourself Master of Fine Arts. Not that an entire lifetime of education can be summed up in a single book, but my nonexistent college life? Yeah, maybe so. I'm looking forward to not spending four years on this one.

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

We own most of his books, but apparently I hadn't read the descriptions for most of them? Because the synopsis for this one totally surprised me. I always enjoy his books and would love to squeeze another one in this summer.

I will read One Thousand Gifts, Tarzan of the Apes, and something by Jill Williamson (because she will be at the conference as well) if I have ample time. Or who knows. Something may strike me in the moment and you'll hear about it on Goodreads.


I can totally read nine books. (Honestly, it's more like eight, because it's seven whole and two halves.) This is going to be a craaaazy summer but we're shaking it up a little! What's on your summer TBR?

Today is the LAST day to sign up as a beta reader for Andora's Folly! Join the other 19 peeps who've signed up :D (If you're one of those 19, check your e-mail!)

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Books That ... Influenced My Writing

After brainstorming blog post ideas with my brother on Wednesday, I came up with an entirely new blog series to begin :) I don't share nearly enough book recommendations here, so this is going to be fun!

All writers are readers. This writer did some early morning contemplation because she wants to give credit to all those amazing books that inspired her and shaped her writing.

That's when I realized ... every book I have ever read has shaped my writing. It's all the books together that make me. But I can't share every book I've ever read (although my Goodreads is a great start).

So I tried to narrow it down for you today to ten "items" (because there's a lot of series here ...). They are listed in the order that I read them and the bold bits are new elements of writing I learned by reading them.

The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis

They're such a classic, how can the books my Dad read aloud when we were kids not make the list? I remember loving the stories because they were clever, imaginative, thought-provoking, and an analogy to something more. I could tell that even as a kid and I appreciated that they weren't "just kid books."

A Series of Unfortunate Events
 by Lemony Snicket

They're just really great, okay? It was the first time I'd been introduced into really snarky, ridiculous, and highly clever storytelling that somehow made sense for 13 books. The fact that Lemony Snicket himself has a story in the books just makes it that much cooler. I really loved that they included a bookworm, inventor, word definitions, and lots of secrets around words. Words were a theme ;)

Canadian West by Janette Oke

This series is my absolute favorite by her. (Don't confuse it with Return to the Canadian West.) It was one of my first series to read that covered a sweet romance past the marriage. It's like grown up Little House on the Prairie because it follows Wynn + Elizabeth for years and managed to keep it interesting.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

I love this book so much. I'm always raving about An Old-Fashioned Girl, but you really can't beat Little Women. All of the relationships in this book are fantastic and accurate, and there are so many words of wisdom for the reader as the March girls learn life lessons. Such a meaningful and insightful story.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

This historical fiction definitely stuck with me. It's the only historical fiction I've read in the time of the Puritans. The entire is story is fiction, really, but set in a historic era when being thought a witch was actually thing. This is my inspiration for well done historical fiction ;)

The Elements of Style by William Strunk + E. B. White

I read this one for school a few years ago. It's so good! Extremely concise and covers all those sticky grammatical issues. Also, yes. E. B. White as in Charlotte's Web. I didn't realize that until recently! He came behind his admired professor William Strunk and compiled Strunk's teachings in a book.

Self-Editing for Fiction Writers
by Dave King + Renni Browne

This is the first book on the writing craft that I voluntarily bought. It addresses often badly done technique and presents the remedy and practice samples. This is a great book when you know your story lacks something in dialogue or description (pick your area) but you don't know what.

Out from Egypt Series by Connilyn Cossette

I've only read the first two books in this series. While the storytelling is excellent (but often tells more than I want it to), her Biblical historical fiction is unparalleled. The texture of manna, why Moses doesn't like speaking (it's more than he doesn't want to), the construction of the Tabernacle, Miriam's role in the new nation ... all used with historic and Hebrew terms. Such flawless foreign detail.

Out of Time Series by Nadine Brandes

I love this series so much! If I ever wrote anything dystopian, I would want it to have the creativity and purpose that Nadine's does. Everything about her world and characters stands out to me more than most books. The theme of shalom and Parvin's struggle to define God ... I can relate to a lot of it (unusual for futuristic America) and it's because Nadine got personal and is awesome. ^.^

The Merchant's Daughter 
by Melanie Dickerson

This one is on the list, because she writes excellent medieval historical fiction retellings. Since that's basically what Andora's Folly is, you can understand why I was taking notes! In this book especially, I was surprised with the quality of her Beauty and the Beast retelling because I couldn't see things coming. The terms for the local government and household items were ones I was familiar with but just finally understood.


There you have it! Have you read any of these? What books have shaped your writing? 

If you have any interest, the introductory post Books That ... I Will Love Forever is over on Teen Authors Journal.

Before you go, check out last week's beta reader sign up and a giveaway that includes Martin Hospitality!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Happy Mother's Day // A Letter to Gemma

Before anything else, Gemma Ebworthy from Martin Hospitality is a mother. With everyone else celebrating Mother's Day by sharing their favorite mothers in literature, I thought I would share something more personal from my own stories. Consider this a little preview into book 2 :)

Farris is only a little baby bean in Martin Hospitality. But I'm enjoying exploring his character in the sequel at the moment. Here's a letter from his teenage self to his mom, Gemma:

Happy Mother's Day! You're a really amazing mother, and I mean that. I know you've gotten so much more than you bargained for on the motherhood front, but you've done splendid.
I'm so glad that God stirred your heart so that I am here today, appreciating the fact that you're my mom. You've been putting us first ever since.
I love that you still read us books aloud, kiss us all goodnight, and think of every possible dangerous situation so that we stay safe.
I'm sorry for all the times I was a horrible, obstinate child. However, without my many arguments with you when I was little, I may never have discovered my love for debate and public speaking. So it wasn't all for nothing!
Thank you for shielding me so I could be a child, and for learning to let me go so that I can be an adult. I appreciate your honesty about our past and your confidence in who I am despite all of that.
I know we haven't always seen eye to eye on things, but I love you. You're strong and beautiful and I hope to find someone just like you.
And thanks for the big brown eyes. I hear they're my best feature. 
Love from your son,


I think he turns out pretty well, don't you? :) My own mom and Gemma have several things in common. I hope you all had a lovely Sunday with your mothers! 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Vlog + Updates + Beta Reader Sign Ups

It's time for another Very Awesome Vlog Challenge video and some updates on what's new!

There were some really thought-provoking questions for this April-June vlog. What makes this one different?? I share my latest book purchases and disclose some facts about myself in the course of the video (which happens to be 3x longer than usual). Definitely join the vlog challenge HERE while there's still time! You're entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card when you join the link up ;D So why I'm begging for competition, I don't know.

Now for the part where I ramble even more. There are few things that have happened of late that I thought you should know about. As always, if you really want to be in the loop, you'll have to subscribe for my newsletter in the sidebar. :)

First, I failed Camp NaNo. You probably don't know that yet unless you already read my newsletter. April was long and painful and the words really fought back. I wrote a blog post on Teen Authors Journal all about titled I Failed NaNoWriMo (and I'm glad). I'd really appreciate it if you'd give it a read and some feedback :) The project that I did not reach my goal on was drafting Martin Crossroads, the sequel to Martin Hospitality. The good news is I have recovered from my untimely burnout and am finally churning out words again!

I wanted you all to know that a paperback of Martin Hospitality will be part of a large giveaway over at Reading Is My Superpower. The giveaway runs May 15-21. You enter by genre (as many as you please): YA/Speculative, Contemporary, Historical, and Mystery/Suspense. All the books are Christian Fiction and Martin Hospitality is part of the Contemporary genre giveaway.

The next piece of news is on Andora's Folly. I get it back from my alpha readers today, so I need betas! Once again, I am not putting a limit on how many. I'm just filtering people out by these requirements:
  • I recognize your name. Just explain who you are and how I should know you on the form :)
  • You can read 30,000 words in two weeks (May 27-June 10)
  • You will offer advice and provide honest (but kind) feedback
  • You will write me a honest review on Amazon and/or Goodreads
Click HERE to view the form if the embedded version doesn't appear below. I can't wait to see who all signs up! This form is open through Friday, May 26. If you can't beta read, take heart. The publication date is July 29!

You can learn more about my stories on My Writings page. :)


Phew!! That needed to happen ;) Any questions or comments?

Have a great Mother's Day :) Be looking for a special Tuesday post from Gemma's point of view!!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Arbiter by Jamie Foley // Blog Tour

Welcome to May, folks! I am so please to be giving you my weekend post a day early. My very first author friend of has re-launched the second book Arbiter in her Sentinel Trilogy. It's got a stunning cover and amazing new content.

I have had the pleasure of knowing Jamie personally, being the recipient of her generosity and self-publication knowledge, as well as helping her with her books! I read the entire trilogy in its first edition and greatly enjoyed it. Editing these updated versions for Jamie has been incredible because her books are incredible! She and I could not possibly write more different content, but I get completely sucked into her books and the fascinating world she's created for her colorful characters.

Not only that, but they are fantasy set in the end times. Yeah, super cool! (I've tried that and just so you know, it's really hard to write!) All the allegory to some very tricky and fantastical parts of the Bible makes these books all the more awesome for Christians to read. Yet they are completely non-preachy because the Biblical elements (see what I did there?) just happen to be a part of the story line! As if the highly entertaining twisty plot and vivid characters weren't enough for you ;) I recommend them for teens 14+

You can read my slightly more coherent reviews of the prequel Viper, the first book Sentineland the second book Arbiter by clicking on their titles.

Now that you know you'll love them, you can buy them and enter a giveaway!

Viper: Prequel to The Sentinel Trilogy

Viper: Prequel to The Sentinel Trilogy

$9.99eBook: $2.99
Sorvashti is a captive. Jet is a soldier. Both harness the primal power of aether. More info →

Sentinel: The Sentinel Trilogy Book 1

Sentinel: The Sentinel Trilogy Book 1

$14.99eBook: $4.99
Series: The Sentinel Trilogy, Book 1
Genres: DystopianFantasyYoung Adult

When a meteor storm knocks out the power grid, the supernaturally gifted become pawns in humanity's struggle for survival. More info →

Arbiter: The Sentinel Trilogy Book 2

Arbiter: The Sentinel Trilogy Book 2

$14.99eBook: $4.99

Archangels return to Alani, creating a new generation of Serrans... for a price. More info →
Here is the temporary cover to the third book Sage which will hopefully be re-released later this year!

Click HERE to enter this awesome giveaway!

YA fantasy author Jamie Foley loves strategy games, home-grown berries, and Texas winters. She’s terrified of plot holes and red wasps.

Her husband is her manly cowboy astronaut muse. They live between Austin, TX and their family cattle ranch, where their hyperactive spawnling and wolfpack can run free.


Have you read any of Jamie's books? Seen them around the blogosphere? I know we'd both love to hear what you think of them!

I am currently on a trip to Fort Worth doing a book signing for all the fam and friends up there. Next week's post will be a VAVC vlog and some explanation for my random disappearance in the middle of NaNo, hehe ... ;)

Have an awesome week!