Christmas Comes Early! Blog Tour – Book Reviews

Christmas tour

In our house, the Christmas season gears up right around this time of year. Since it’s our favorite holiday, we enjoy extending the preparations throughout the month and a half before Christmas Day – and in this part of the country it also helps transition between the vibrant colors of fall through the gray November days before Christmas arrives. So today, we’re celebrating the release of not one, but eight new Christmas books, all written by Rebekah A. Morris. I’ll be spotlighting two of her books today and you can find out more about the others as you follow the tour.

About the Books

Christmas Lodge Cover At the Christmas Lodge

When Desirae Richey agrees to go home with some college friends for Christmas, she expects a small family gathering. Instead she is taken to the Christmas Lodge in the snowy mountains of Canada to a noisy, fun loving, adventurous group of family and friends who welcome her as one of their own. Everything seems to be going as planned until an unexpected snowfall occurs.

My Review: At the Christmas Lodge is a whimsical story of a Christmas adventure – snow, fun and games, laughter and new friends, dangers and excitement, and perhaps even a hint of romance. I enjoyed the vivid personalities, the lively games invented by the young people during the Christmas celebration, and the deep, realistic emotions portrayed. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a light Christmas read. Four of five stars.

The Christmas She WantedThe Christmas She Wanted Cover

Christmas had lost its charm and wonder. Mrs. Rush hated the feeling but was powerless to fix things. Traveling to visit relatives for the holidays, the Rush children pass the time with their eyes glued to the screens of their devices. That is, until the flashing lights of a State Highway Patrol car bring their trip to a sudden and unplanned-for stop.

My Review: The Christmas She Wanted was a satisfying tale of learning to enjoy a special Christmas complete with the simplest things of life. In a world often overwhelmed with busyness, gadgets, and distractions, where are the things that matter – family, friends, love, joy, fellowship, relationship, memories, laughter, and above all, a focus on our Savior Jesus Christ? This book shows how circumstances bring this sort of Christmas to the Rush family. I found the story satisfying and inspiring – the book could be written about me – thoughts I had, feelings I’ve felt. I highly recommend this story to anyone who cares about the things that truly matter. Five of five stars.

About the Author

Author PictureRebekah A. Morris is a homeschool graduate, an enthusiastic freelance author and a passionate writing teacher. Her books include, among others, Home Fires of the Great War, The Unexpected Request, Gift from the Storm, and her bestselling Triple Creek Ranch series. Some of her favorite pastimes, when she isn’t’ writing, include reading and coming up with dramatic and original things to do. The Show-Me state is where she calls home.

 

Excerpts

Christmas Collage

Des plunged into the glittering white mass and laughed with pure joy. This was snow! ~ At the Christmas Lodge

She gave a sigh. “You know, I wish we could have a real Christmas for a change. ~ The Christmas She Wanted

Tour Schedule

November 13
Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory Post
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Kaylee’s Kind of Writes – Book Spotlight
Resting Life – Review and Excerpt
Perry Elisabeth – Excerpt
Rachel Rossano’s Words – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 14
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Odelia’s Blog – Author Interview and Book spotlight
Bryce’s Creative Writing Corner – Author Interview, Review, and Excerpt
Counting Your Blessings One by One – Review and Excerpt
Perpetual Indie Perspective – Book Spotlight

November 15
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Whimsical Writings for His Glory – Author, Review, and Excerpt
Maidens for Modesty – Author Interview and Review
The Destiny of One – Book Spotlight
Rebekah Ashleigh – Book Spotlight
Once Upon an Ordinary – Review
Stephany’s BLOG Snippets – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 16
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Laurel’s Leaves – Author Interview
Stories by Firefly – Review
Claire Banschbach – Author Interview
Kelsey’s Notebook – Review and Excerpt
Jaye L. Knight – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 17
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Ruffles and Grace – Book Spotlight
With a Joyful Noise – Book Spotlight
Ordinary Girl Extraordinary Father – Review
Bookish Orchestrations – Closing Post

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3-2-1 … WRITE!

3-2-1 WRITE! party

It’s been an enjoyable week at the 3-2-1 Write! blog party hosted by Read Another Page. On Monday we discussed 3 favorite books on writing, and on Tuesday we shared 2 favorite pieces of writing advice. Yesterday we talked about a favorite writing tool, and each day we’ve had a fun quote game.

Today it’s time to wrap the party up and find out the three special giveaway winners! These three days have been informative and motivational, and as the party draws to a close, I’d like to encourage you to not let it end here. A whole world of writing continues to stretch ahead of you, and you can continue to walk forward upon it.

We all encounter obstacles on our writing journey. There’s not enough time to write, or the ideas aren’t coming, or our draft is stuck halfway through. (I’m presently dealing with all three of these issues on various levels.)

I’m here today to tell you that these obstacles are not insurmountable. Not enough time to write? Carve out a tiny slice of time somewhere in your routine. (One paragraph before breakfast! 100 words right after lunch! 500 words after work!) Make it a habit, and stick with it. If you miss a day, don’t get hung up on it – simply get back on track the next day. Little bits of time taken regularly truly do add up.

Ideas aren’t coming? Maybe it’s time to step away from your project and view it from a new angle. Or maybe it’s time to sit down and let your pen move across the paper or your fingers move across the keyboard, writing nonsense or something outside your normal genre. Maybe it’s time to brainstorm crazy “what if”s. Maybe it’s time to take a break from writing and simply observe the world, letting real life soak into you and inspire you for future projects.

Stuck halfway through your draft? Maybe it’s time to revise your outline – or time to create an outline! Maybe the last several chapters need to be rewritten. Maybe you need a new character. Throw something into your story to get the plot moving again . . . you can always revise or delete it later.

Above all – pray. Seek your Father’s face regarding your writings. He knows the words He would have you pen. Your writing is nothing apart from Him. Abide in Him and meditate upon His word day and night. He is the Perfect Author, and He loves you so much that He wants your stories told even more than you do. Delight in intimate relationship and fellowship with Him, and He will direct your writing steps.

What writing project are you currently working on or hope to begin soon? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to chat!

Last but not least . . . hop on over to Read Another Page to find out if you’re a winner!

May God bless your writing!

3-2-1 Write! Party: Writing Tools

3-2-1 WRITE! party

It’s Day 3 of the 3-2-1 Write! Party hosted by Read Another Page! Welcome back to my conference room here at Resting Life where we’re talking about all things writing. There are also fun games and giveaways (including an important piece of a giveaway game in this post), so don’t miss out!

Watch for the secret phrase in this post, and be sure to write it down. Combine it with the secret phrases from today’s posts by other writers who have conference rooms at the party and you’ll find the secret quote that will qualify you for a giveaway!

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On Monday we discussed 3 favorite books on writing, and yesterday I shared my 2 favorite pieces of writing advice. Today is Day 3 of the 3-2-1, and I’m here to talk about my 1 favorite writing tool.

Is it Microsoft Word?

Is it Pinterest?

Is it a notebook for outlining and character development?

Is it the Spelling and Grammar check?

While I use and thoroughly enjoy all of the above writing tools (Microsoft Word for easy typing and formatting! Pinterest for character inspiration and plot ideas! Notebooks for easy brainstorming! Spelling and Grammar check to come alongside my inner editor!), today I’d like to talk about a different sort of writing tool that I believe is essential to every author.

Books.

That’s right. Books. After all, if you’d never read a book, how would you ever think to write one? If you’d never read a book, you’d have no pattern, no guide, no goal in mind.

Books can teach you the proper use of the English language.

Books can show you examples of the diverse styles available for you to write in.

Books can help you break outside your boxes and write something entirely new and unique.

Books can train you in formatting and publication standards.

Books can demonstrate to you the difference between poor writing and excellent writing.

Books can reveal to you what you like best for styles, genres, poetic word usage, point of view, language, description, plot types, and character development.

If All you have is a bookshelf full of books, you can read them, become inspired, and create anything else you want to read. In a sense, it doesn’t matter what other tools you might have – you can write in the sand with a stick, on parchment with charcoal, in a notebook with a pen, on Open Office on a laptop, or on your wall with your blood. If you have a book, you can catch the vision. Your imagination can be fired up. The seeds that books plant in the brain and in the heart are all it takes to sow and harvest a crop of beautiful stories and inspiring non-fiction.

For example, here are a few books that have shaped my writing style:

  1. The Bible – continues to shape every part of how I write
  2. The Five Little Peppers series by Margaret Sydney – demonstrated to me the intricacies of beautifully developed characters and relationships in a realistic day-to-day setting and revealed to me how characters truly make the story
  3. Storybooks by Rod and Staff Publishers – showed me how humdrum daily life can form a pleasing and uplifting tale
  4. Elsie Dinsmore series by Martha Finley – revealed to me how the spirit of Jesus Christ and godly character can permeate a story through and through while still telling a riveting tale; also planted in me a love for historical Christian fiction
  5. Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder – gave me a spirit of adventure as well as demonstrated how down-to-earth tales of simple daily living can be powerful bestsellers
  6. Annabeth’s War and Captive of Raven Castle by Jessica Greyson – showed me it is possible to write entirely realistic stories set in a fictional world
  7. The King’s Daughter and Other Stories for Girls; Tiger and Tom and Other Stories for Boys; Stories Worth Rereading – gave me a sense of how even a short story could pack a punch and deliver spiritual encouragement in a well-educated and interesting way
  8. Ishmael by E.D.E.N. Southworth – a novel written in high language with a complex plot and characters that demonstrated to me how to explore the depths of character motivations
  9. The Ilyon Chronicles by Jaye L. Knight – an excellent example of highly polished writing mixed with a deep Christian message, unforgettable characters, and a dramatic and compelling plot

And here is the Big Giveaway! Be sure to enter for a chance to win an amazing writer’s package!

Paper copy of The Emotion Thesaurus

$5.00 Amazon Gift Card

Free Cover Design by Victoria Lynn

$30 Blog Tour Orchestration by Faith Blum

Free Edit of up to 5000 words by Erika Mathews

Because we’ve had 40 different people enter the giveaway, we’ve also added a second and a third prize! If you don’t win the grand prize, you could win one of two Amazon gift cards!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What books have influenced you most as a writer? What’s your writing tool of choice? Comment below – I’d love to discuss our favorite books!

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Did you find the secret phrase? Click the button above to visit Faith’s blog and find the next phrase, or return to Read Another Page to start the trail from the beginning. Be sure to return tomorrow for the final day of the 3-2-1 Write! Party where we find out the winners of the giveaways!

3-2-1 Write! Party: Writing Advice

3-2-1 WRITE! party

It’s Day 2 of the 3-2-1 Write! Party hosted by Read Another Page! Welcome back to my conference room here at Resting Life where we’re talking about all things writing. There are also fun games and giveaways (including an important piece of a giveaway game in this post), so don’t miss out!

Watch for the secret phrase in this post, and be sure to write it down. Combine it with the secret phrases from today’s posts by other writers who have conference rooms at the party and you’ll find the secret quote that will qualify you for a giveaway!

Day 2 party final.png

Yesterday we discussed 3 favorite books on writing, and today on Day 2 of the 3-2-1, we’re here to talk about 2 favorite pieces of writing advice. While a plethora of writing advice is available to anyone with a quick Google search, two pieces of advice have proved particularly helpful in my writing career.

  1. Read.
  2. Write.

Although it might seem trite, obvious, or simplistic, these really are the keys to great writing. It’s my passion for reading from age five that shaped not only my love of writing but also equipped me with the skills to excel. The more we read, the more of essential and beautiful techniques and styles of the written word we assimilate. What we read is what we think about in our minds and meditate upon in our hearts; it becomes part of us. And who we are determines how we write. What is inside comes out.

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To authors, the benefits of reading are many:

  1. Reading aids in developing a love of books.
  2. Reading immerses the reader in proper grammar, style, and word choice, which in turn strengthens the inner editor and makes an author a better writer.
  3. Reading familiarizes the reader with a variety of plot styles and devices, demonstrating the most effective uses of each, which in turns impacts the author’s work.
  4. Reading fosters the imagination, which in turn aids the author’s creative process.
  5. Reading exposes the author to a variety of genres and styles, allowing the author to choose pieces of their favorites and incorporate them seamlessly into her own unique style.
  6. Reading is inspirational. How many times have you read a book and wanted to know more about a minor character, or wondered what happened after “The End”? There’s a reason fan fiction is popular. Other authors’ stories can form the jumping-off point for our own.
  7. Reading saves the beauty of the English language. When reading literature and old classics, vocabulary is enriched – something that doesn’t happen through reading social media posts.
  8. Reading gives authors the opportunity to see how a scene can be vividly visualized merely through words. When words are put together just so, the reader is transported from the printed page to a colorful life-like reality in her head, complete with settings, sound, and motion. The engaging powers of printed words at the hands of a skilled author can’t be fully appreciated until experienced.

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Second, write. Write often. Write nonsense. Write partial scenes. Write whatever comes to mind. Sit down and let words flow. Even though you might feel that your words are worthless, write anyway. Every “worthless” word you’ve written in the past has brought you to this point as a writer. Few people write a bestseller the first time they sit down to write; just like every other area of life, practice makes perfect. Every story you pen, every draft you type, and every journal entry you record will teach you a little bit more about writing, being a writer, and your writing style.

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And here is the Big Giveaway! Be sure to enter for a chance to win an amazing writer’s package!

Paper copy of The Emotion Thesaurus

$5.00 Amazon Gift Card

Free Cover Design by Victoria Lynn

$30 Blog Tour Orchestration by Faith Blum

Free Edit of up to 5000 words by Erika Mathews

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What have been some benefits of reading that you’ve experienced as a writer? How do you motivate yourself to keep writing when you don’t feel like it? And what are some of your favorite pieces of writing advice? Comment below – I’d love to have a conversation with you!

Kelsey's notebook.jpg

Did you find the secret phrase? Click the button above to visit Kelsey’s blog and find the next phrase, or return to Read Another Page to start the trail from the beginning. Be sure to return tomorrow for Day 3 of the 3-2-1 Write! Party where I’ll be sharing my favorite writing tool – and another game!

3-2-1 Write! Party: Writing Books

3-2-1 WRITE! party

It’s party time! Read Another Page is hosting a 3-2-1 Write! Blog Party for all writers, and I’m thrilled to have one of the conference rooms here at Resting Life. For the next four days, we’ll be talking about all things writing. There are also fun games and giveaways (including an important piece of a giveaway game in this post), so don’t miss out! 

Watch for the secret phrase in this post, and be sure to write it down. Combine it with the secret phrases from the posts of the other writers having conference rooms at the party and you’ll find the secret quote that will qualify you for a giveaway!

Day 1 Party graphic

Today’s Day 1 of the 3-2-1, and to kick things off, we’ll be talking today about 3 of our favorite books about writing. As writers, it’s important to hone our skills and educate ourselves on techniques. Obviously, a plethora of resources exist on the subject of writing, and the more we read, the more we learn and the better quality writings we produce. Here are three books I recommend strongly.

The Elements of Style, by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

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There’s a reason this book is currently a #1 Bestseller on Amazon – as well as remaining a favorite with writers since its publication in 1920. Small and slim at a mere 104 pages, this book packs in style and grammar rules and tips in concise, clear format.

On a more personal level, this book has been a favorite of mine from a young age. During my childhood and teenage years, I’d read sections of this book simply for enjoyment. While penning stories and reports in the days before Google, I’d consult this book to find the answers to tricky grammatical questions. Every writer ought to be thoroughly familiar with this book – grammar and style are key qualities of excellent writing.

Where Do I Start? An Overview of Indie Publishing, by Molly Evangeline

51sm3k4l2btlThis book is also small – only 60 pages – but it’s filled with a wealth of information on the publishing process, formatting, cover design, marketing, and navigating the many options of indie publishing. Simple, practical, and to the point, I found this book very helpful as a comprehensive introduction to the world of publishing. If you’re looking for a detailed tome, this book isn’t what you want, but if you’re just getting your feet wet in the Indie Publishing process (or even if you’ve done it a few times), you’ll find this book both informative and helpful.

Student Writing Intensive, by Andrew Pudewa

This book and DVD set propelled my writing techniques f517dgsgywjl-_sx400_bo1204203200_orward like no other. Andrew Pudewa’s fast-paced, humorous, informative, and pointed lessons help the writer analyze every word, sentence, paragraph, and part of speech and learn the proper way to put together and use each one. Although I don’t write in “Andrew Pudewa” style outside of the assignments in the book, the exercises of incorporating a certain number of adverbs into a paragraph, using all six sentence openers in every paragraph, choosing a variety of prepositional phrases, and varying sentence structures expanded my borders as a writer and enriched my natural style. In addition, learning to outline through this book has proved to be a valuable skill as I outline books in preparation to write them. These materials may be geared towards students, but I believe all writers can benefit from this book.

Despite my passion for both reading and writing, I haven’t read many books about writing, and I’d love some recommendations of books that you’ve found helpful in your writing journey. Comment below: what writing books are your favorites and why?

And here is the Big Giveaway! Be sure to enter for a chance to win an amazing writer’s package!

Paper copy of The Emotion Thesaurus

$5.00 Amazon Gift Card

Free Cover Design by Victoria Lynn

$30 Blog Tour Orchestration by Faith Blum

Free Edit of up to 5000 words by Erika Mathews

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Did you find the secret phrase? Click the button above to visit Victoria’s blog and find the next phrase, or return to Read Another Page to start the trail from the beginning. Be sure to return tomorrow for Day 2 of the 3-2-1 Write! Party where I’ll be sharing my favorite writing advice – and another game!

Deliver Book Review

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This is Book Four in The Blades of Acktar, and it’s now available.

Can something broken ever heal?

Martyn is broken. After torturing his best friend, he doesn’t belong anywhere in Acktar. No matter how far he runs, he can’t lose his guilt.

Leith is broken. While healing from the torture he received at Nalgar Castle, he struggles to find his new role. But can a Blade ever outrun his past?

The country is broken. Bitterness divides town against town, neighbor against neighbor. What will it take to deliver Acktar from itself?

They face their hardest battle yet.
Peace.

Deliver was a beautiful ending to the series. After the climax and resolution in Defy, the storyline in Deliver was refreshing and satisfying. I enjoy reading about characters after the “big battle,” so an entire novel was wonderful. Furthermore, Martyn needed this book. I loved Martyn in Dare and vaulted between profound sadness and slight frustration with his choices in Deny and Defy. In Deliver, Martyn has the time, space, and circumstances to face life’s questions – not just dodge them. His self-proclaimed detestation for all things heroic stands in comic contrast to his continual heroic actions.

But Deliver isn’t just Martyn’s story. It’s Leith’s and Renna’s and Brandi’s as well – which I also appreciated. Since these books aren’t standalones, I was glad to find that the main characters from the previous books still retained the spotlight in this book, even though the spotlight was shared with Martyn.

Leith is recovering, and he has many struggles to face as he adjusts to his new life. Still hampered by his past, can he ever leave it behind and move forward in his new standing? Even though the amount of physical activity he attempted while still too injured to do anything but rest wasn’t believable to me, the portrayal of his gritty perseverance and loyalty was gripping.  Glimpsing the struggles that follow victory is invaluable – so often we focus on the victory in stories while struggling with post-victory depression or temptation in our own lives.

Renna’s also recovering from the events of Defy. Her emotional struggles after all she went through with Respen add realism to her character that’s so relatable. Her guilt and efforts to forgive herself and leave the past behind color her experiences, but she’s firm and heroic in her role as Lady Faythe.

Furthermore, a new character that I loved is introduced in this book. She’s sprightly, determined, practical, persevering, moral, matter-of-fact, hardworking – and plagued with rejection and fears. Learning her story and seeing it intertwine with the plot was a joy – she’s an invaluable addition to the series and an integral part of the plot. Her conversation and responses often made me smile.

The question of the rest of the Blades and Lords was answered well. Seeing firsthand glimpses of what they were doing added to the story. Overall, this was a satisfying ending to the series.

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Buy Deliver on Amazon!

And check out my Book Spotlight of Deliver for more information on the book!