{Friday Five} Books & TV

Fall is always fun for entertainment. There are new shows on TV, a few books I couldn’t fit into my summer schedule, and summer blockbusters coming out on DVD. With the weather getting wet and cooler, I don’t mind settling inside for entertainment.

 

 

 

Friday Five: Books & TV

October 2016 Edition

1. This Is Us is a new drama on NBC, Tuesdays 9pm EST. I’m really enjoying this one. It revolves around adult triplets who all have interesting personal issues, and the series employs a flashback thread that is very well-done. All the storylines work together. The writing is excellent, and the acting is too. I’m not a big fan of Kevin at this point because his self-absorption annoys me, but I have a feeling I’ll like him more as he matures.

2. Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty. This women’s fiction came out in the summer. I ordered it through our library, and due to numerous holds, I was finally able to check it out. As with all of Ms. Moriarty’s books, it explores tricky relationships involving three women, their families and each other. It has a suspense thread and jumps back and forth between one eventful day and its aftermath two months later. I really enjoyed the realness of the characters and the tension throughout.

3. Ink Master is a reality show on Spike TV, Tuesdays 10pm EST. For years my husband and I have watched this reality show where tattoo artists fight to be named Ink Master. I can’t explain my fascination with it since I have an aversion to needles and tattoos! But it’s interesting to see the art the contestants come up with. This season features strong female artists, too. I’m rooting for Kelly and Ryan.

4. Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson. See Wednesday’s post, “{giveaway} Where Two Hearts Meet,” for the full feature. The giveaway is still open and will be until Sunday, October 23 at 9pm EST. Scroll to the bottom of the post for the easy entry options! (US only, 18+)

5. Michigan FootballMy husband and I watch games every Saturday. We bite our nails, jump up at each touchdown and wonder if this will be the year we beat Ohio State. Please let it be the year… 🙂

So that’s my Friday Five! What are you watching and reading right now?

Enter the giveaway below:

 

 

Have a lovely weekend!

{giveaway} Where Two Hearts Meet by Liz Johnson

The second book in Liz Johnson’s Prince Edward Island Dreams series is here!! Where Two Hearts Meet features Caden Holt and Adam Jacobs. If you read the first book in this series, The Red Door Inn, you’ll remember Caden as the baker of delicious cinnamon rolls. She’s now working for the Red Door Inn as a chef, and a mysterious guest arrives. I won’t give any spoilers, but I will say this–the romance progresses like a batch of the cinnamon rolls Caden whips up, rising, baking, and filling the room with a sweet aroma! I LOVED this book! I loved it so much, I’m giving away a paperback copy to one winner! Easy entry options are below (US residents, 18+)!

WHERE TWO HEARTS MEET

Where Two Hearts Meet
In her kitchen at the Red Door Inn, executive chef Caden Holt is calm, collected, and competent. But when her boss asks her to show off their beautiful island to impress a visiting travel writer and save the inn, Caden is forced to face a world much bigger than her kitchen–and a man who makes her wish she was beautiful.

Journalist Adam Jacobs is on a forced sabbatical on Prince Edward Island. He’s also on assignment to uncover a story. Instead he’s falling in love with the island’s red shores and Caden’s sweets.

When Caden discovers Adam isn’t who she thought he was, she realizes that the article he’s writing could do more than ruin the inn’s chances for survival–it might also break her heart.

***

Purchase Where Two Hearts Meet HERE!

Enter to win a copy!

 

Want to know more about Liz Johnson  and her books? Visit her website, Liz Johnson Books!!

I would love to visit PEI! Where would you love to visit?

Have a wonderful day!!

 

 

{friday five} Spread Joy

{friday Five} Spread Joy

My blood pressure is low. Always has been. My family jokes that I don’t even qualify as living! But, boy, every time I go on Facebook lately, my blood pressure rises. I don’t know about you, but I have enough things in my life to raise my blood pressure–I don’t need Facebook to add to it!

Yesterday I decided to fill my feed with happy things. I want to spread joy. We all have so many problems, and Facebook is a way for us to come together, feel connected, and support each other. I want to support you. I hope my Facebook feed as well as my blog is a comfortable spot for you to stop by and hang out, like a comfy couch with a warm, soft blanket. Grab a steaming cup of coffee or tea and I’ll share virtual cupcakes!

 

Cupcakes in Frankenmuth

 

So here’s my Spread Joy Friday Five!

1. Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” I could meditate on this verse all day long. Maybe I should!

2. Zoo animals. Feeling very burned out, I headed to the Toledo Zoo on Wednesday. The wolves were playing. Polar bear was napping. Hippo was smiling. Yes, the hippo smiled at me! Here are some photos.
Polar Bear

Wolf at Toledo Zoo

Smiling Hippo at Toledo Zoo

3. Late autumn roses. Oh, so beautiful!! I’m sad they’ll be gone soon.
Rose

4. The Pioneer Woman’s Sour Cream Noodle Bake. My family loves this dish. It’s delicious and really simple to put together! The recipe is linked if you’d like to try it!

5. “Back to Manhattan” by Norah Jones. Melancholy, soothing and a little heartbreaking. It fits this time of year with the falling leaves and cooler nights. Maybe an odd choice to spread joy, but listening to it does something good to my soul.

 

Well, that’s my Friday Five. I’m looking forward to this weekend!

What brings you joy this week?

There is still time to enter the giveaway of Alison Stone’s Pointe and Shoot! Here’s the entry form with easy options!!

 

 

The Inside Scoop with Alison Stone and a Giveaway!

The Inside Scoop With Alison Stone And A Giveaway!

Today Alison Stone is graciously answering questions about her writing life. Alison writes for Waterfall Press and Love Inspired Suspense, and her new book, Pointe and Shoot, is available in stores and online. Alison is graciously giving away one paperback copy. Don’t worry, I have all the links and book info below!

Let’s get to it.

THE INSIDE SCOOP WITH ALISON STONE

1. How did you know you wanted to be a writer

I didn’t realize I wanted to be a writer until after my first child was born. I kept seeing those ads in women’s magazines about writing children’s books. Remember those? I’m talking twenty years ago. Anyway, I signed up to take an online creative writing class. From there, my love of writing grew. I switched my focus from attempting to write for children to eventually getting published in novel-length fiction with both Harlequin and Waterfall Press.

 

2. What is unique about your process?

I’m not sure my process is unique. As a former engineer, I want more than anything to be able to plot out the entire book and then sit down and write it. But, that never seems to be the case. I have a general idea, a few plot points, and then I start to write. I get some of my best ideas while writing. So, even though I can’t seem to plot everything out beforehand, my process seems to work. I also do a lot of rewriting. That’s okay, too. By the time I have a rough draft, I finally know the entire story and I really enjoy the editing process at this stage.

 

3. What inspired your book?

Pointe and Shoot is what we writers like to call “the book of my heart.” I broke into fiction writing romantic suspense for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line. I enjoy writing for Harlequin, but I knew Pointe and Shoot wouldn’t work for this line. It’s what I like to call my “Dance Moms” meets “Blue Bloods” book. (You know, the cop show with Tom Selleck?) Anyway, both my daughters were competitive dancers at the time. (One still is!) If anyone knows what it’s like to take their children to any activity five or six days a week, you also start to live and breathe the activity – whether it’s hockey, gymnastics, dance or whatever. The idea of setting a murder mystery in the dance world wouldn’t leave me. My dance-mom friends even helped me brainstorm titles long before the book was written. Finally, when Amazon Publishing announced they were looking for proposals for their new Christian imprint, I knew this was my chance to submit my dance book idea.

 

4. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Despite not working in the corporate world for eighteen-years, I am still an engineer at heart. This means I want everything to have a clear-cut answer. You know, 2 + 2 = 4. However, writing doesn’t work that way and it was difficult for me to adjust. I am a perfectionist at heart (but hardly perfect.) The best advice I’ve ever received is that “you can fix a crappy draft, but you can’t fix a blank page.” (I’m paraphrasing here because the advice I received was much more colorful.) Like I mentioned above, some of my best ideas come during the process of writing, so I’ve learned to get out of my own way and allow myself to “just write.”

 

***

Oh, Alison, I could relate to ALL of your answers! Yes, I do remember those commercials for writing children’s books. I’m impressed you signed up for an online course, unlike me who decided I could write one of those romance novels I so enjoyed reading (those early attempts were burn-worthy). And Dance Moms meets Blue Bloods! Perfect!! I’ve been a sports mom for many years, and yes, you can’t help but get immersed in the world. Thanks so much for being my guest!

***

Pointe and Shoot

 

Pointe and Shoot ~

Jayne Murphy has always put family first. That’s why she abandoned her dream of joining the police force to run her ailing mother’s dance studio.
When one of the studio’s most talented instructors dies in a car crash, Jayne isn’t convinced it was just an accident. Relentlessly pursuing her hunch, she teams up with Officer Danny Nolan, the best friend and partner of her brother Patrick, who died in the line of duty. Haunted by Patrick’s death, Danny has begun to question whether he should still be a cop at all.
As Jayne digs deeper, suspects emerge, including the victim’s clingy ex-boyfriend and a jealous foe from the cutthroat dance world. Her evolving insights into the case rekindle Jayne’s passion for police work. Danny, too, feels a renewed sense of purpose…and a definite attraction to his unofficial partner, which seems to be mutual. Now, if Jayne can only keep herself out of harm’s way, she and Danny both might get a second chance—with their careers and each other.

Purchase Pointe and Shoot HERE!

***

Giveaway time! Alison is giving away one paperback copy of Pointe and Shoot! Entry form is below.

 

 

(US Residents 18 and older. Giveaway starts 10/12/2016 at 6:00am EST and ends Sunday, 10/16/2016 at 9pm EST. See entry form for complete rules.)

***

Alison Stone

 

About Alison ~
With a degree from Georgia Tech, Alison Stone was an engineer in several industries before trading her corporate career for motherhood shortly after the birth of her second child. She became a novelist in a roundabout way, first trying her hand at writing children’s books and articles for local publications before eventually discovering her love of romantic suspense.
Stone lives with her husband of twenty-plus years and their four children in western New York, where the summers are gorgeous and the winters are perfect for curling up with a good book—or writing one.

***

Have you watched Dance Moms or Blue Bloods? Which do you prefer, reality television or scripted?

Have a wonderful day!

Glass City Author Event, Television Interview and Pizza!

This week has been really cool. I got new author pictures taken, my friend Constance Phillips and I were interviewed on a local television program, I’m gearing up for a HUGE book event this weekend AND I’m ordering pizza tonight! I know, I’m pinching myself, too! Pizza is my favorite! Haha!

Back to the other good stuff…

Jill Kemerer TV

I took this right before the television interview!

 

As soon as my fabulous photographer sends me the new author pictures, I’ll share them with you. The television interview was yesterday on WTOL 11 Your Day. Constance Phillips and I chatted with Amanda Fay about our books, our local romance writers group (www.MVRAI.com), and the book event. You can catch it by clicking on the link below!

“Local Writers Take Part in Glass City Author Event”

On to the book event…the HUGE book event…this Saturday!!

The Glass City Author Event is held at the Seagate Center in downtown Toledo, Ohio, from 9am-5pm on October 8, 2016.

There will be over 100 authors signing books! Tickets are required to enter. Here’s the link to buy them, EventBrite, and you can buy tickets at the door, but they are MUCH more expensive. If you’re planning on attending, Constance Phillips and I have adjoining tables (113 and 114) near the entrance, and we’d love to meet you, so stop by!

And then there’s the pizza. Mm…I can’t wait.

What are your weekend plans? Do they involve pizza?

Have a great weekend!!

Articles I Loved This Week – Writer Wednesday

In between my DIY mani-pedi failure and attempting to make decorations for a book event this weekend, I read quite a few blogs this week. We won’t discuss the mani-pedi thing, and I’ll post pictures of the decor and event next week. But in the meantime, I’m sharing links to those fab blogs!

 

Lately I’ve been stretched REAL thin, so Nicole Locke’s post, “Tuesday Talk Time: Time Out, Time In,” was a breath of fresh air. I love her point that when we’re overworked we tend to take a time out, but too much of this and our families suffer. We can find ways to connect with our loved ones AND relax.

For anyone afraid of taking a leap with your career (entering that first contest, finding a critique partner, querying an agent, pitching to an editor, trying a new genre, etc…), this post by Alison Stone on Seekerville, was fabulous! “Things I Learned When I Took a Leap of Faith.”

I always enjoy Laurie Tomlinson’s blog, and she’s sharing her October plans in “October Update.” Check out her super-cute word count tracking method for an upcoming novella!

What’s getting you excited this week? Share with me!

Have a terrific day!!

Developing Ideas: Writer Wednesday

“I have an idea for you to write.”

I’ve heard this many times, and my answer is always the same. “Thanks for thinking of me, but I already have a ton of my own ideas and not enough time to write them all.”

Getting an idea is not the same as developing it into a book.

 

Developing Ideas

 

So how do writers develop ideas?

The tear-your-hair-out answer? There are countless ways.

I have friends who get the teeniest idea, and they sit down and start writing. I am not that person! My ideas always develop in my head long before I ever begin writing.

Here’s how I develop ideas:

  1. First, I have a kernel of an idea. It might be a possible plot. It might be a character. Either way I ask questions and spend a lot of time just thinking. Who is the main character? What does she want? Why does she want it? What will happen if she can’t have it?
  2. Once I have a few basics (by the way, many of you will recognize the above as Debra Dixon’s classic GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict–she’s a genius), I expand the questions. Will anyone care about these characters? Can I raise the stakes? How does the story start? Do I know the ending yet?
  3. I should be getting an idea of setting–where and when the story takes place–by this point. I wonder if a different setting would fit the idea better. If not, I research the setting.
  4. I have enough now to spend a day plotting. I fill out a few worksheets to help me determine the story elements and plot development.
  5. Research is a must. I do most of my research in the plotting stage and in the writing phase.
  6. It’s at this point I’ll write a short synopsis.
  7. And I’m ready to write. Yay!!

There is no right or wrong way to develop an idea. I use a variety of tools to expand my ideas. Sometimes, I’ll record voice memos about the story. If I’m out of the house and get a great idea, I’ll send myself a quick email on my phone. Pinterest is great for getting visuals, especially when trying to picture my hero and heroine. Occasionally, I brainstorm with a friend or two. It really depends on the project.

I’d love to hear how you develop ideas! Please share! And if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer.

I’m thrilled to be Dani Pettrey’s guest today! Please stop by her blog (Linked HERE) for my advice on being flexible when asked for revisions!

Have a terrific day!

The Inside Scoop with Tammy L. Gray

The Inside Scoop With Tammy L. Gray

Today Tammy L. Gray is  graciously answering questions about her writing life. Tammy’s new book, Her Hope Next Door, released last week! I have all the links and book info below.

Let’s get to it.

THE INSIDE SCOOP WITH TAMMY L. GRAY

1. How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I honestly never expected to become a writer, and the way this whole career has played out is none other than God’s mighty hand. When I decided to write my debut novel, Shattered Rose, it came after a very hard weekend for me mentally and emotionally. I was struggling with a sin that I just couldn’t seem to overcome and was broken over my failure.

I sat down that next Monday and started writing a book with one goal in mind. I wanted to show an analogy between the freedom in Christ and the temptation of sin. How even when we know it’s wrong, we are pulled back in over and over. Eight weeks later, I had a novel. I sent it to a few friends and they adamantly said I needed to publish it. My brother said he’d make me a cover, build me a website and set up my social media. So, with the beauty of independent publishing, my story found its way into the world.

Since then, writing has become more than a one book anthem. It’s about offering high quality fiction that is culturally relevant and includes messages of hope and healing. I believe fiction can inspire us if the message is authentic, which is what I try to be.

 

2. What is unique about your process?

Unlike when I first began, my story process is now very collaborative. I am extremely blessed to be surrounded by several writing friends who not only help me plot, but also take the time to critique my writing along the way. This has made the first/second draft process longer and sometimes more exhaustive, but I feel every one of my books are better because of their honesty and input.

 

3. What inspired your book?

I am one of those Christians who had a very rocky path to Christ, and that means Satan uses shame and regret to consistently make me feel less than. Even years after redemption.

At the same time, I’m now a pastor’s wife, so I’ve seen more masks in the Church than I care to count. The thing is, behind each one of those plastered on smiles is a story. Usually a story of heartbreak, struggle, failure and victory. In Christian circles, we tend to only show people our shiny parts, not the ugly, rusted sin that mars all of us.

I also find that we tend to judge people less when we see things from their point of view. So introducing Katie, a “bad” girl, and pairing her with a man who grew up in the Church allowed me to show how in so many ways we all fight the same battles, but do so with different weapons.

And above all, I wanted to show the amazing healing power of God. So often in Christianity, we only talk about what everyone else shouldn’t be doing, and we have this perception of being judgmental, elitist, and disconnected. What we fail to show is how amazing God is in our life. Because to show His glory, we have to first admit we’re flawed and broken.

My hope is that someone can identify with one of my characters and then desire that same peace each of them find at the end of their journey. A peace that is only possible with Christ.

 

4. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Honestly, the best advice I’ve been given came from two different amazing authors. First, Lynne Gentry was gracious enough to invite me into her writing circles and encouraged me to use other authors to help elevate my work. Second, my dear friend and writing partner, Nicole Deese, told me that no matter how many books we have out, we should always work on improving our craft. She encouraged me to take Margie Lawson’s immersion class, and that’s when I truly felt like I transitioned from being a story teller, to be a career writer.

***

Tammy, I love your story. I think we can all relate to struggling with sin, pain and regret. I know I certainly do! And what a blessing to have writers you can plot with and who will critique your work. I agree with you that great Christian books help us focus less on what we shouldn’t be doing and more on what God IS doing in us. Thank you so much for being my guest!

***

My Hope Next Door

My Hope Next Door ~

Can love grow in the shadow of a broken past?

Former bad girl Katie Stone can feel the weight of her reputation settle over her as she drives home for the first time in years. Feeling deeply guilty about her past mistakes, Katie wants to do the right thing for once. But the small town where she grew up is not nearly as forgiving as she’d hoped. Despite it all, she’s determined to help her parents cope with her mother’s recent illness, and Katie finds a surprise ally in the man next door.

Asher Powell never minded being the son of a small-town pastor until a recent breakup leaves him wounded by lifelong members of his church. He remembers his new neighbor as a mean-spirited high school troublemaker, but he senses that her newfound faith and desire for forgiveness are sincere.

Through an unexpected friendship, two people from different worlds find peace, hope, and a second chance they never dreamed was possible.

***

Purchase My Hope Next Door HERE!

 

Tammy L. Gray

About Tammy L. Gray ~

Tammy L. Gray lives in the Dallas area with her family, and they love all things Texas, even the erratic weather patterns. She writes modern Christian romance with true-to-life characters and culturally-relevant plot lines. She believes hope and healing can be found through high quality fiction that inspires and provokes change.

When not chasing after her three amazing kids, Tammy can be spotted with her head in a book. Writing has given her a platform to combine her passion with her ministry.

***

Has a book ever helped deepen your faith in God?

Have a wonderful day!

Friday Round-Up

This week was short but busy. Tuesday was not my favorite. Let’s just say it involved the dentist, my email account being hacked, groceries and food prep and putting all that stuff away, and a missing license plate sticker from the vehicle registration I just ordered. How does the sticker go missing before I even take the registration out of the envelope? I’m scratching my head at that one. But, hey, I survived that day and moved on.

 

 

 

The rest of the week was spent in deep, deep thought as I plotted more than one book and wrote synopses. Yes, that’s plural. I really feel I deserve a large iced coffee from McDonald’s! Actually, I can’t complain because I love plotting and thinking about stories. I accomplished what I wanted to this week, and tomorrow is the weekend with time to relax! Yay!

In between the errands, chores, synopses and what-not, I found a few things I thought you might enjoy.

  1. Becky Wade shares a terrific article over at Dani Pettrey’s blog about using Buffer to streamline social media. You can read the article here, “Writerly Wednesday – My Favorite Social Media Tool.”
  2. The fall colors won’t arrive for a while, but if you want to get into the spirit, here’s a gorgeous slideshow on Midwest Living by Hannah Agren, “25 Ultimate Fall Drives.”
  3. My youngest had a birthday yesterday, and I talked about birthday traditions over at Thoughts on Plot. Stop by and share yours, “Birthday Traditions – Heartwarming Thursday.”

Did you find anything interesting this week? I’d love to hear about it!

Have a great weekend!

Too Intimidated to Write? Writer Wednesday

You tell yourself you’re writing 500 words today. No matter what. But it’s been a week since you opened your manuscript, and when you sit down with your laptop, you can’t bring yourself to actually open the file.What begins as hesitation turns into full-blown dread. You remember a chore you forgot to do, and it becomes vital to do it right this minute. When it’s done, you find another “necessary” task until the day is done and you’ve completely avoided your work-in-progress. You’re filled with a mixture of relief and self-loathing. It’s not that you don’t want to write–you love writing–it’s just really intimidating sometimes. Okay, all the time.

 

 

 

I’ve done this many times over the years. Those vital chores? The necessary tasks? I’ve done just about anything to avoid writing. Cleaned cupboards? Check. Rolled quarters? Check. I wish I was kidding!

But I realized a long time ago this scenario can be avoided.

  1. Know your away-from-manuscript limit. Personally, I can go about three days, maybe four, without writing before the untouched file becomes scary.
  2. Work within the above limit. If I’m writing a first draft, I NEVER let more than three days pass without adding to it.
  3. Daydream about where the story is heading. I get excited to write when I know what’s happening next. Daydreaming is essential!
  4. Jot down details of the next scene in a notebook right after each writing session. I snagged this tip from a fantastic (and short) book for writers called 2K to 10K: Writing Faster, Writing Better, and Writing What You Love by Rachel Aaron. For $0.99 on Kindle, you can’t beat it! It’s full of great tips to add to your word count every day.
  5. Plan your weekly writing sessions. I’ve been doing this for six years. It works. Take a quick look at your upcoming week and schedule a word count for each day. Then add these goals for a weekly total. Mondays are horrible for me, so I usually set an extremely low word count. But Tuesday might be wide open. I make that a high word count day. It’s very motivating to know if I make my daily word counts, my weekly tally will be high. If you’re interested in another terrific book on this topic, try Allie Pleiter’s The Chunky Method Handbook.
  6. Remember why you’re writing in the first place. Isn’t it because you have a story to tell? Because you love pouring your heart out onto the pages? Because these characters won’t leave you alone?

Do you ever get too intimidated to write? How do you combat it?

Have a lovely day!