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Undaunted Hope by Jody Hedlund: Writer Wednesday

Undaunted Hope

Last week I had the pleasure of diving into Jody Hedlund’s latest inspirational historical romance, Undaunted Hope. It’s the third book in her Beacons of Light series, and I’ve been dying to read more about Tessa Taylor since she made a whopper of a mistake in the second book, Hearts Made Whole. I finished the book on Saturday–what a treat!

Jody Hedlund writes drama-filled, high conflict, historically fascinating, deeply romantic novels, so it’s easy to lose track of time and forget where you are when you’re reading her books. I’ll post my review below, but here are some of the highlights of Undaunted Hope.

  1. Spunky heroine unafraid to fight for equal rights for herself as a woman as well as for others less fortunate
  2. Hunky brothers fighting for her affection
  3. Sweet children Tessa falls in love with (and the reader does too!)
  4. Interesting historical details about mining and the harsh life way up north in the late 1800’s
  5. Internal conflicts regarding helping a loved one with depression, blaming an object (the lighthouse) for bad things in life, and standing up for what’s right in the face of terrible punishment

Here’s my review:

5 STARS for Undaunted Hope

I’ve been looking forward to this installment of the Beacons of Hope series ever since reading about Tessa in Hearts Made Whole. Boy, she made some big mistakes in that book! Undaunted Hope picks up five years after Tessa left home. She’s the new school teacher in a small coal mining town in upper Michigan, but she faces a mountain of obstacles, including a town leader who abuses his power, the fact only male teachers are allowed to teach in the school, rough living conditions and a pair of brothers fighting for her affection. As with all Ms. Hedlund’s books, this one is a page turner with lots of conflict and some swoonworthy moments. All is wrapped up in a supremely satisfying ending!

*I received an advanced reader copy of this book with no obligation to review it. All opinions are my own. *

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Undaunted Hope

 

Undaunted Hope

Tessa Taylor arrives in 1870s Upper Peninsula, Michigan, planning to serve as a new teacher to the town. Much to her dismay, however, she immediately learns that there was a mistake, that the town had requested a male teacher. Percival Updegraff, superintendent and chief mine clerk, says she can stay through winter since they won’t be able to locate a new teacher before then, and Tessa can’t help but say she is in his debt. Little does she know that Percival will indeed keep track of all that she owes him.

Determined to become indispensable, Tessa throws herself into teaching, and soon the children of the widowed lighthouse keeper have decided she’s the right match for their grieving father. Their uncle and assistant light keeper, Alex Bjorklund, has his own feelings for Tessa. As the two brothers begin competing for her hand, Tessa increasingly feels that someone is tracking her every move, and she may not be able to escape the trap that has been laid for her.

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Jody Hedlund

About Jody ~

Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of nine novels, including Captured By Love, Rebellious Heart, and A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award and INSPYs Award. She received a bachelor’s from Taylor University and a master’s from University of Wisconsin, both in social work. Currently she makes her home in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. JodyHedlund.com

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What author makes you forget where you’re at and what time it is? Please share!

 

Have a fab Wednesday!

And Then There Was One…Truffle

I’ve had a two pack of white peppermint Lindor truffles on my desk all week. These little delights are so delicious, you can’t help but close your eyes and black out a teeny bit while eating them. So smooth. So creamy. So full of calories and sugar. Bummer.

 

And Then There Was One...Truffle

 

Yeah, I’m in healthy mode. Not all-or-nothing  mode. Nope. I don’t do restrictive diets. I just know that a truffle a day keeps the doctor away–wait, that can’t be right. A truffle a day makes my skinny jeans go away? Sounds more realistic.

 

So  the candy. It stares at me. But I wink at it. And I save it for the day I really, really need it. Like on Wednesday, when 2pm rolled around and I felt that my entire body would explode if I didn’t have an ice cold can of Coke right that minute. And when I cracked that can open, I eyed the truffles. I thought, why not? The package itself says, “Irresistibly Smooth.” I can attest to that fact.

 

Irresistibly Smooth!

 

I didn’t feel guilty about eating the truffle and drinking the Coke, but it did force me to rethink my afternoon snack. Usually I have a very healthy smoothie (2 fruits, 1 vegetable–my recipe is HERE), but at just under 300 calories, I couldn’t afford the truffle and the Coke and the smoothie. So I skipped the smoothie.

 

Hey, it’s all about moderation. The rest of the week I made good choices. And I’m pretty excited I still have another truffle! Maybe it will be a Wednesday thing…okay, now I’m getting crazy. 🙂

 

Are you on a health kick? How is it going for you?

 

Have a fabulous weekend!!

Writer Wednesday Vlog: Jessica R. Patch

Jessica R. Patch

Happy new year!! What better way to kick off the blog this year than with a vlog? It’s all about one of my favorite ladies in the whole world–Jessica R. Patch!!

 

Fatal Reunion
But it now on Amazon!! Just click on the picture!

 

Jessica’s debut novel with Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense, Fatal Reunion, released yesterday! That means you can run out to the store or click on an online shopping site and buy that baby now–woohoo!!

Here’s the vlog!

Fatal Reunion by Jessica R. Patch

 

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About Jessica:

Jessica R. Patch lives in the mid-south where she pens inspirational contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. When she’s not hunched over her laptop or going on adventurous trips in the name of research with willing friends, you can find her watching way too much Netflix with her family and collecting recipes to amazing dishes she’ll probably never cook. Her novel, Fatal Reunion, releases with Love Inspired Suspense in January, 2016. She is represented by Rachel Kent of Books & Such Literary Management.

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In other news, I’m biting my nails because I just started writing a new book. Don’t get me wrong, I love working on a new story, but the first couple of pages are usually tough for me. I tend to tinker with the opening lines for far too long. At least I have chocolate to get me through!

Wait…I’m supposed to be eating healthy. Hmm…

What are you looking forward to in 2016?

Have a terrific day!!

My One Word and a Winner!

My One Word

Who is ready for Christmas? (No one?? Ha!) Well, guess what? You’ve got another day, so no worries. You’ve got this!

In between wrapping presents, buying presents I forgot about, and all the other holiday craziness, I’ve been taking time out to reflect and pray. Every year I skip the resolutions, choosing to meditate on one word instead. How do I choose the word? Well…I  don’t. I pray about it until a word shows up.

Last year’s word was Victory. I remember thinking, really? Can that be my word or am I wishful thinking? But looking back, I see the big ways Victory truly fit 2015.

  1. I was blessed with peace after a season of mom anxiety about my kids growing up. (Example: my daughter graduates this year, and I fretted about what college she would decide on, getting senior pictures, planning her graduation party, and so on!) I consider peace a major victory!
  2. My writing career launched with drop-to-your-knees blessings. Author events orchestrated by family and friends, newspaper articles, additional contracts offered–even a television interview! Victory, indeed!
  3. Acceptance of my dad’s health deterioration. I see the ways God took something terrible and worked aspects of it to provide for my mom and to give my sister and I worry-free hearts over his care. Sometimes we think Victory means complete healing, but I’m content with God’s provision as it is.

This year’s word showed up on a recent walk. I love the word because every time I think of it, I smile.

 

My One Word for 2016

 

My One Word

 

I spent an hour in scripture finding Bible passages to help me focus on the word. I like the One Word concept, because when nothing seems to be going right or I’m frustrated, it grounds me, reminding me that God is in charge. What a relief!

On a different note, I have a winner of the $10 Amazon Gift Card chosen via random number generator from my newsletter subscription list! Congratulations to Aerykah!! Thank you to ALL my subscribers! I appreciate each and every one of you!

Well, I’m off to make fudge. I’m taking a blog break until the new year. I hope your holidays are filled with delight, surprises and the knowledge you are loved by God. Merry Christmas!!

Do you focus on One Word? What is yours?

See you in January!!

Do You Buy Yourself Stuff in December?

I’m not much of a shopper, but every December I end up buying things for myself while Christmas shopping. Oopsies! For instance, I recently purchased the latest CD by Alabama Shakes, Sound and Color, a new medium-sized casserole dish since my favorite one had a huge chip in the handle, a boatload of Post-It notes, and a 4-pack of gel pens.

I don’t regret a single purchase.

 

 

 

Maybe it’s my reward for stressing out about what to buy everyone else. Maybe it’s a natural reaction to not buying much the rest of the year. I don’t know, but I refuse to feel guilty about it.

I’ll be shopping more this week. Will a box of Hershey’s Pot Of Gold land in my cart? Absolutely! Will this be given to a friend or relative? NO! It’s mine!!

Okay, I could share it with my family.

Or, I could buy two boxes and let them share one but keep the other for myself. Now this sounds like a plan.

Is that bad?

Don’t answer!!

Do you buy yourself stuff in December?

 

Merry Christmas!

 

I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one of my newsletter subscribers. If you haven’t signed up, what are you waiting for? If you’re already a subscriber, you’re automatically entered! Here’s the easy sign-up form!

 

Have a fantastic day!

Ten Truths About Writing Year In and Year Out

Ten Truths About Writing?

I’ve been writing full time for, let’s see, eight years. The first year was FUN! Sure, I was nervous, but I was doing it–writing while my kids were in school the way I’d dreamed when they were toddlers. I couldn’t wait to sit down and type my pages for the day. The books I wrote the first few years weren’t good, but I enjoyed writing them.

 

 

 

Then reality set in. I realized the old adage, practice makes perfect, wasn’t accurate. I wrote every day, but my craft wasn’t improving. Critiques and contest results proved what I suspected–I had a long way to go if I wanted to write quality books. On top of that, I dipped my toes in the social media waters. Getting published? Seemed way more complicated than I imagined.

But I stuck with it, and over the years I learned ten truths about writing long term.

  1. Writing isn’t always fun.
  2. You’ll like some books more than others.
  3. There’s NEVER enough time.
  4. Promotion is something done on a daily basis.
  5. When you pay attention to other writers, agents and editors, you become a better writer.
  6. The longer you write, the more you’ll embrace your process.
  7. You’ll get a good idea of how long it takes you to write a book. Ditto on revising.
  8. You never run out of ideas. Your brain is like a sticky magnet for them.
  9. Writing is still fun.
  10. You have the best job in the world.

I’m sure I could add ten or twenty more to the list, but that sums up the important ones for me.

 

Any surprises on the list? What have you learned about your job over the years?

Have a terrific day!

 

Top 10 Reasons to Love NaNoWriMo by Michelle Lim

Idea Sparking For NaNoWriMo

Happy Friday, everyone! Today I’m excited to have a special guest, Michelle Lim! For all you writers out there, November is national novel writing month! NaNoWriMo is where writers sign up to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. I’m passing this year but cheering all my friends on! Look for information below about Michelle’s new book, Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Monthonly $0.99!!

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Top 10 Reasons To Love NaNoWriMo

 

  1. Gives you an excuse to gorge on chocolate. What better reason can there be for eating too much chocolate than the need to get an obscene number of words on the page.
  2. Pushes you to finish a whole novel in a tenth of the time you might normally spend to accomplish the same thing. It may be slightly certifiable, but there is absolutely no reason not to achieve a goal that could let a novelist take a longer vacation later in the year.
  3. Forces you to turn off your inner editor. For those of you who struggle with writing a plot draft, the time frame makes you keep moving forward to the end of the novel instead of obsessing over edits in one scene.
  4. Helps to grow your support system. Often we take too much on ourselves and leave others out of the joy of journeying with us. The thirty-day novel requires us to glean support from those around us. It gives them a chance to share in the journey.
  5. Makes you empathize with your character’s black moment. Right about the time in week four when you are working on your character’s black moment, you are experiencing one of your own. It can make this scene more powerful.
  6. Gives you an excuse to wear pajamas all day. There is the whole fun of wearing pajamas all day every now and then. During NaNoMonth you have 30 reasons to wear pajamas. . . Day 1, Day 2, Day 3. . .
  7. Freedom from kitchen duty. If you don’t love to cook or clean, this month may be your solution to it all. The one time a year when you can look to your spouse with puppy-dog eyes without even feeling guilty.
  8. Guilt free caffeine consumption. If you love caffeine, this is the month for you. Staying up late to write a novel gives you plenty of reasons to enjoy your favorite blend.
  9. A thirty day edit free existence. Not a big fan of editing? Than join NaNoWriMo and turn off your inner editor for a whole month at a time.
  10. The perfect excuse not to have your mother-in-law over for dinner. Plead out of this age old tradition during the month of November and blame it all on your career.

Looking for some NaNoWriMo Tips To Write Your Novel In A Month?

 

Idea Sparking

 

My newest release: Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month is a great way to help you spark your novel.  It is Selling for $0.99 on Amazon!

Join the Idea Sparking Adventure:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Michelle LimAuthor Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s Genesis winning romantic suspense is represented with Books & Such Literary Agency. Michelle’s New Release – Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month releases October 27th. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories. Connect with Michelle as www.thoughtsonplot.wordpress.com , @MichelleLim24 on Twitter, and Facebook.

 

What are some other reasons to love NaNoWriMo?

Thanks so much for being my guest today, Michelle!

Halloween Memories

This is going to be one of those posts that starts with, “When I was growing up…” so you’ve been warned!

Anyway, when I was growing up, Halloween was a festive day, but it was much lower on the excitement scale than say, Christmas or Easter. We didn’t have parties. We didn’t plan our costumes for weeks on end. We lived in the country, so we didn’t have a neighborhood to walk the sidewalks. But we had fun!

 

 

Our costumes were NEVER bought from a store. I mean, to suggest such a thing was unthinkable, laughable, even! Costumes were developed with what we had in our house. My dad’s old boy scout uniform was put to use one year. I’m pretty sure I was a lumberjack or a hobo most other years. I do remember my sister dressing up as a witch–and now that I’m thinking about it, I’m wondering where she got the pointy hat? Hmm… I’ll have to ask her.

Our first stop was always my grandmother’s who lived a few miles away. When we were little, she made special brown lunch bags filled with peanuts, an apple (I usually threw that out), small candies and a homemade popcorn ball. Let me tell you, that popcorn ball was delicious!

After my grandparent’s house, we headed straight to my other grandma’s house. She would open a bag of Milky Ways and just start dumping them in our bags. I loved that! Then Dad would drive us around with a stop at our old babysitter’s house. We’d get super excited to ring her doorbell. She always greeted us with a cookie sheet filled with full-size candy bars in a wide variety. We’d get to pick our favorite. Oh, the bliss!

One year we stopped at a house that had a big bowl of candy on the front porch and a sign, Take a Handful. We did.

At home we’d dump our bags out on the living room floor and separate all the goodies. I gave my Mounds and Almond Joys along with those peanut butter taffy things to my folks. I ate the rest. 🙂

Trick-or-treating is different in some ways now. People decorate their yards and houses. Store-bought costumes are the norm. But in other ways it’s the same. The weather is up for grabs. You never know if it will be freezing, rainy or unseasonably warm. Kids are still thrilled to dress up, run to a door and get candy. Fun times. I hope their memories are as good as mine. 🙂

Did you trick-or-treat when you were little? What are your memories of Halloween?

I’m talking about what strong heroines in sweet romance novels at AliWilliams.org today! Stop by and chime in!

Have a safe and fun weekend!

The Friday Five: Procrastination

I always loved popping over to Erica Vestch’s blog on Fridays because she’d write her Friday Five, a list of five related items.  They could be anything, really. Erica now contributes to Coffee Cups and Camisoles if you’d like to catch her posts, or you can check out her website here! In a nod to her genius, I’m doing my own Friday five today.

 

My list is all procrastination related. My current book is not cooperating, and I don’t enjoy writing when it’s not going my way. For instance, I sat in front of my laptop for six hours on Wednesday and only managed to add 1700 words. That’s not a good number for me. It’s been a bang-my-head-against-the-keyboard writing week. Next week WILL be better.

Friday Five: Procrastination

  1. Napping

Yesterday, I wrote 1000 words early. I ate lunch. Why would I want to keep the writing momentum going afterward?That would be crazy. So I curled up with my dog and took a short nap. I woke feeling a combination of dread and shame (but I met my word count and then some, so maybe there’s something to this nap thing).

2. Sugar

I wrote a sentence! I should write another… Nah, I’ll crack open a Coke. And grab a handful of Gobstoppers. Unwrap some Smarties…

3. Facebook

After jotting down an impressive 23 words, I naturally had to take a break and check in on Facebook. Eighty-seven thousand times a day all week.

4. Research

This one was the killer. Seriously. It about killed me. My current WIP involves accidents and injuries I know nothing about. And guess what? I’m not a doctor. Or a nurse. I’m going to shock you here, but I have no medical background whatsoever. So the seventy-five hours of research, poring over medical papers, reading testimonials by similar patients, watching YouTube videos of various treatments? They better translate to a believable book.

5. Texting

I’m a whiner. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I have several writer friends on my contact list who put up with my whiney texts. Let’s just say, they got a lot of them this week.

 

There you have it. The five ways I avoided my manuscript this week. On a good note, I did force myself to write three chapters, so onward-ho!

What is your best way to procrastinate?

Have a fab weekend!

 

Why Do I Still Own This Shirt?

I did laundry on Monday. I do laundry every Monday. I’m very, very thankful to own my own washer and dryer. There have been times in my life when I didn’t. To be able to throw a load of clothes in at any time without driving to a laundromat or popping quarters into a machine is a gift!

Anyway, since the change of seasons is upon us, last weekend I’d taken my bins of winter clothes out and set them on the floor. I’d  been avoiding the whole pack the shorts away and bring out the sweaters routine. It’s not time consuming, but it requires me to make decisions. Like, why do I still own this shirt?

One of the sweaters is so old it may have been knitted during the Civil War. I’m not sure, just a guess. Another shirt has tiny holes from overuse. Did I fold and put away two pairs of jeans that barely fit? Yes, I did. Why? Because if I donate them, I have to buy new jeans, and frankly, the thought of trying on jeans is throwing me into a panic attack.

I LOATHE trying on jeans. And bathing suits. They. Are. The. Worst.

See, this is why I still own clothes that belong in a giant bonfire. If I burned them, I would have to go shopping to replace them.

I should go shopping.

These clothes are bad–pilling, faded, full of holes, stained…

I did it. I threw them away. No donating. No fires. Just the trash. They are not fit to be worn, not by me, not by anyone.

*cleansing breath*

Do you hold onto clothes WAY past their prime?

Have a fabulous Wednesday!

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