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How Not To Write A Romance Novel

While romance isn’t my go-to genre, clean Christian romances do comprise some of my fiction reading. Even in novels that aren’t strictly romance, such subplots and scenes do seem to weave themselves into the story more often than not.

Make no mistake – I appreciate a clean, sweet love story in its place. However, a number of trends in many of these stories cause me to wish for more books without a romantic element.

Today, I present my top pet peeves in romance novels.  Continue reading

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There Was Always Laughter in Our House

There Was Always Laughter In Our HouseThere Was Always Laughter In Our House by Sarah Holman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Relatable, fun, mildly humorous throughout, packed with nuggets of wisdom and truth, and overflowing with the enjoyable and meaningful experiences of twenty-some years of growing up in a large homeschooled family, easy to read and difficult to put down – this book was a treat. I read large portions of it aloud in order to share the enjoyment – chuckling over the one-liners and discussing the deeper sentences with my family contributed to some memory-making of our own.

I enjoyed:

– The introduction with the backstory behind how the book came to be

– The humorous anecdotes about the little things in life – the funny mistakes that could be embarrassing but Sarah Holman and her family choose to laugh about instead – and the way they turn into inside jokes, memories to be shared and chuckled over repeatedly throughout a lifetime

– The homeschooling Q&A chapter and the “why do you have so many siblings” chapter – both how Sarah shares the humorous answers she wishes she could give to common questions, and how she also shares the kind, gentle, and wise answers she does give. So many times I’ve thought of a few of those same answers! Even though Sarah’s perspective wasn’t new to me, I appreciated having her beliefs on these issues laid out in a logical form – the simple yet clear format resonated with me and enabled me to more clearly articulate my own beliefs.

– The chapters about each of the Holman children – I enjoyed getting a little glimpse into each varied personality and the little tidbits that make each sibling unique. Sarah did an excellent job of presenting their quirks and yet entirely honoring each one as a beloved person and friend. Her relationship with each one shone through the pages and it was uplifting.

– The chapters describing unit studies – Sarah’s mother was a very creative teacher, and Sarah’s vivid and fun descriptions of some of their schooling adventures inspired me for possibilities in teaching my own children

– The reminder to challenge the know-it-all. I was one of those, and being challenged both by myself and by others around me was excellent in forming my character. This is something I need to remember and practice even now to combat boredom – there’s so much to learn that we haven’t even touched on yet!

– Sarah’s analysis of and response to homeschooling trends. What’s perfect for one family may not be the right fit for another, and she explains why and how in such clear, yet gracious, terms.

– The skirt chapter – when Sarah creates a t-shirt answering the skirt questions, I want one. Read the book to see what’s included on that shirt. 🙂 I related to every word in this chapter, and I’ll be referring back to it in future. Sarah has a gentle yet profound way of expressing exactly my own thoughts on this issue in an even clearer way than I can express them.

– Country kids and city parents – so relatable and hilarious, especially the city life elements Sarah points out that are new to her. I can relate. Country life is wonderful!

– The way the Holman parents dealt with and related to their children. So much love, gentleness, understanding, compassion, and graciousness shines through the pages of this book. Sarah’s parents truly sought to understand and empathize with each of their children, never downplaying any feeling or emotion, and treating the petty concerns of a child as real issues (because they are truly real issues to the child). This manner of child rearing is one of my own personal goals.

– The modesty chapter – again, I was reading my own thoughts transcribed in a clear and logical manner. The emphasis on the message stuck out to me. The tone is so light, so kind, so matter-of-fact, so utterly free of any traces of judgment upon others or on differing personal choices, so abhorrent of the idea of shaming anyone for any reason, and so filled with beautiful truth.

– The Rubber Duck War – the importance of communication in relationships can’t be over-emphasized, and I was happy to see this topic included and covered in such a memorable way.

– A Christmas Tree in March – reading the Holmans’ Easter traditions inspired me to begin similar traditions in our own family. Truly the resurrection is the pinnacle of our faith, and I love how Sarah’s parents chose to emphasize that by their celebrations.

– Sarah’s journey towards learning the Biblical response to tough issues and not just her political or social answer. I had a similar journey of learning how Christ in me responds to people and to issues instead of simply giving the logical answer, and it’s so encouraging to read the journeys of others in this area. Yes, a “debate-perfect” answer has its place, but the Person and Kingdom of Christ must motivate all we do and say. That’s most important.

– The matching outfit stories! I too love matching outfits and found Sarah’s stories hilarious!

– The Holman quirks mentioned in the chapter on I Know How to Play the Radio.

– The writing chapter. It inspired and encouraged me in my own writing career, as well as offered practical insight into how Sarah manages to publish three books each year. I loved her beautiful analysis of why she is a writer. Amen!

– The chapter detailing what the siblings do when the parents are gone! Read it; it’s hilarious and sounds like so much fun. 🙂

– The “Twenty Years from Now” chapter – another sweet and funny glimpse into the siblings’ interactions and personalities and an excellent way to wrap up the book.

I highly recommend this book for truth, laughs, and refreshing insight into the lives of a large homeschooled country family with quirks and a multitude of happy personalities.

View all my reviews

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2017 Indie Christian Book Sale!

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It’s that time of year. The time for buying presents, making wish lists, and planning New Year’s Resolutions. If any of those activities involve books for you, Indie Christian Authors has a perfect event for you.
From Nov 25 through Nov 28, more than 70 independent Christian books are on sale. You can find free shipping$0.99 ebookspackage deals, and more! And if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping, they’ve got you covered with some freebies!

What’s more, my book Promise’s Prayer is among those books offered this year! The paperback will be on sale for just $9.99 (regular $13.95) the entire week, and the ebook is only $0.99 Friday through Monday! If you’re interested in seeing what Promise’s Prayer is about, don’t miss this chance – the price will be returning to normal in December.

Think 70 books is overwhelming? Narrow it down and find the perfect books for you or someone on your Christmas list by using this quiz to generate a customized book list.
What awesome reads of 2016 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2017?
A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks. Also, some of the authors this year chose to not sell their paperbacks directly through the site. Those books are also marked “Sold Out” but if you click them open, you’ll find a link to the site where they are on sale and a discount code for you to use at check out.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good and Kendra E. Ardnek for their work organizing this sale, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

 

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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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The Enchanting Rose: 11th Annual Tea Cup & Mug Exchange

Each year, Stephanie at The Enchanting Rose hosts a delightful tea cup and mug exchange for ladies from all over the world with the goal of forging new friendships. This year, I was blessed that Olivia invited me to participate – it was truly a lovely event, one that I’m grateful to have been a part of.

Once the signups were in and Stephanie assigned us our tea cup partners, what fun it was to create a package of surprises for the recipient! I was assigned to Sarah, and it was delightful to discover the many things we have in common, including our shared love of the color blue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the package was in the mail, anticipation of meeting the other exchange partner set in. Stephanie thoughtfully matches ladies up with two different partners – one to mail to, and one to receive from – thus granting the opportunity to cultivate two new friendships.

And then a gorgeous package appeared in my mailbox from Ruth!

Inside was a beautiful array of items.

A teacup, practical as well as lovely, in my favorite shade of blue. As I’ve used it, I’ve appreciated the sturdy construction as well as the gorgeous color. It’s so petite and yet strong!

Tea with mint. I’ve never tried this kind before but look forward to it. I do love mint teas.

A watercolor painting, made by her sister. Aren’t the colors and the verse lovely?

Fall kitchen towels. I love both blue and fall, so these are perfect.

Thank you so much, Ruth! And thank you, Stephanie, for your excellent and efficient organization of this event!

 

If you’re interested in participating in future tea cup exchanges, you can sign up to be notified of the next one here. The experience was delightful and certainly one I’d recommend if you’re able to participate.

Do you have a favorite tea cup?

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Suit and Suitability: Book Review

Suit and Suitability was a pleasant surprise to me, though I expected no less from this author. After reading Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility earlier this year and finding it, to be blunt–with deepest apologies to Austen fans everywhere–predictable and a trifle shallow, I hope that Suit and Suitability would take the concept and storyline deeper. I was not disappointed. Kelsey Bryant’s excellent skill in weaving the storyline seamlessly into 1930s Ohio and New York combined with the rich spiritual truths and growth woven into the characters’ lives made this book a satisfying read. It started off rather slow – it took me a while to get into the story – but once the action began, I was quite drawn in. The themes of suffering for the purpose of a more intimate relationship with God, contentment, relying on God instead of one’s self, and constant trust shone forth clearly and refreshingly. Although the characters made numerous mistakes throughout the book, the story of their spiritual growth, though sometimes slow and halting, was a beacon throughout the book.

Ellen, Marion, Greta, Mother, Dad, Everett, Mr. Bradley, Wilkie, Aunt Jennie, Leona – all had distinct personalities. The author did an excellent job of portraying the feelings, thoughts, and motives of each one. I enjoyed the twists and turns as well as the refreshing and engaging peek into 1930s life – I must once again mention how flawless I found this element.

All in all, I would highly recommend this book to lovers of Austen, lovers of historical fiction, and anyone who is looking for a good read in this genre.

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Interview with Kelsey Bryant

As part of the Vintage Jane Austen blog tour, I have the privilege of interviewing Kelsey Bryant, the author of Suit and Suitability. While devouring her previous series Six Cousins (Family Reunion and England Adventure), I was captivated by Kelsey’s down-to-earth style, relatable characters, whimsical everyday adventures, and depth of spiritual encouragement that ran through her books. Since Six Cousins is one of my top five favorite series, I’m quite excited to welcome Kelsey to Resting Life today.

Erika: Welcome to Resting Life, Kelsey! Could you introduce yourself to readers?

Kelsey: Hello! I’m a daughter of God who lives in Texas and works at several jobs that I love, including writing, copy editing, and teaching martial arts. I’ve written three novels, but I delight in many things—Bible study and Hebrew, keeping fit and eating healthy, reading British authors (and those of other nationalities, of course!) and seeing new places, and spending time with family and friends, to name a few. I’m a homeschool graduate and love being a daughter, sister, and aunt.

E: It’s wonderful to meet you! I share many of those interests as well. What prompted your journey into writing and authorship?

K: My parents passed their love of books on to me. I can’t remember never creating stories, so I suppose being a writer and author was always something I wanted. My grandfather was an editor and compiler of Christian books and devotionals, so that went a long way in inspiring me. After high school, I decided to seriously pursue becoming an author because that was the only thing I felt God calling me to do at that point. After several years, I finally completed a novel (Family Reunion, the first book of the Six Cousins series) and was ready to publish.

E: What a blessing to have a love of books in the family! I understand that Sense and Sensibility is your favorite Jane Austen book. Could you talk a bit about spiritual parallels in the book?

K: Sense and Sensibility has always meant a lot to me since I first read it, but by writing Suit and Suitability, I was able to more deeply appreciate the underlying spiritual themes and how they relate to me. Protagonist Elinor Dashwood (Ellen in my retelling), although imperfect, understands that selflessness is the best lifestyle. She is excruciatingly challenged by people and events, but she pulls through because she denies herself and has a strong character (in Suit and Suitability, I made sure to show she drew her strength from God). I want to be like Elinor/Ellen—someone God can use to help and support other people. I have to work on selflessness. In Suit and Suitability, Ellen also had to learn to trust God more, something I need to work on as well.

Second protagonist Marianne, Elinor’s younger sister (Marion in my retelling), has a very different personality. In both versions, she’s fun and passionate, but she carries a lot of selfishness, which she doesn’t always recognize. As I was writing her parts, I discovered how easy it is to want things your own way…and I could actually identify with her, which was a little disturbing! But that made me realize a little bit of Marion resides in all of us. We have qualities that we need to learn to use for serving God instead of ourselves. And because we’re all flawed, we need to have grace toward one another, especially with our family members.

E: Thank you for sharing that insightful perspective! What excellent reminders for us to depend entirely upon God and to deny ourselves – counting ourselves as crucified with Christ and allowing His Spirit to live within us, powering and directing every act. It’s so easy to put ourselves first!

On another note, what is your biggest challenge in the writing/publishing process and how do you handle it?

K: My biggest challenge is getting the word out about my books. I’m a reticent person, so, like many authors, I find self-promotion awkward and unnatural. But to help me handle it, I remember that I write my stories to bless other people, and if they don’t know about them, I haven’t completed my calling. Once I overcome the reticence, marketing is another steep step; for that, I watch for whatever opportunities come along that can put me or my books where other people can find us.

E: I can definitely relate! What’s your biggest pet peeve as an editor?

K: Maybe you can relate to this, Erika—when I discover a glaring typo on my last read-through that I missed on my first readings! But it’s also combined with a feeling of relief that I actually caught it.

E: Yes! It makes me wonder where my brain and eyes have been during all those previous edits!

What is your favorite Scripture passage and why?

K: This is a tough question! One of my favorite passages is Jeremiah 31:30-36, which talks about the new covenant God will make with Israel and a time when everyone will know the Lord. It’s quoted several times in the New Testament. It ties the whole Bible together, showing the reason Yeshua/Jesus came . . . so that we may all know the Lord and have new hearts that will follow Him completely. I love that promise.

E: Amen – I love that passage! Isn’t it wonderful that the Almighty God has covenanted with us? And that through Jesus Christ, His law is within us and we intimately know Him! Praise God that Jesus is the mediator of that better covenant!

Thank you so much for joining me today – I’ve enjoyed chatting with you. Anything else you’d like to add?

K: Thank you for having me, Erika! I hope both Jane Austen lovers and those who are new to Jane Austen get to enjoy the Vintage Jane Austen series. I consider it a privilege to have worked alongside the other authors in this project. We enjoyed it so much!