Monday, December 11, 2017

Notes for a New Year (One Word & Reading Challenges)

by Andrea Renee Cox

Before you heckle me for jumping straight over Christmas, let me assure you, I am not forgetting this most special of holidays. I'm already brainstorming an article for the week of Christmas, which I'll most likely post on that Sunday, since the twenty-fifth lands on a Monday this year.

This article, though, is to give you a heads-up of what's heading your way in the new year.

Firstly, let's talk about One Word. This year was my first experience with it, and I feel like I wasn't as intentional about it as I had intended to be. That's something I'm planning on working on for 2018, to be much more intentional about applying my One Word for the year.

During 2017, my One Word was see. Throughout the year, I gained a new perspective on many things. I learned that God has already been moving in mighty ways in my life, and He opened my eyes to see much more than I had imagined when I put up my new calendars last January first.



Monday, December 4, 2017

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

by Andrea Renee Cox

Note: I normally don't post negative reviews on my blog, because I would rather share with you about books I enjoyed and think you might also like. However, when I signed up to review this one, I agreed to post my review on my blog, whether or not I enjoyed it. Please consider this review my personal thoughts and concerns about this book. Feel free to read the book and decide for yourself.

When I saw the endorsement on the front cover of this book, I knew I wanted to read it. How could I not when it’s touted to “rival a John Grisham novel”?

I wish I had a bunch of positive things to say about this book, but I cannot pretend I enjoyed it. This is an extremely difficult review to write, because I dislike being negative about any author’s hard work. I know how many hours and emotions and commitment go into writing a novel, and I appreciate the passion and effort and time that go into every book I read, even those that weren’t a good fit for my reading taste.

Warning: There are plot spoilers ahead.

Not two chapters in, I was disappointed by the predictability of this story. That trend continued throughout, only truly surprising me twice in over 300 pages. The plot, which had great potential, seemed simplistic with not much suspense or action driving it.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Last Month of Reading Challenge

by Andrea Renee Cox

We've made it through five months of the Autumn 2017 Reading Challenge I've been hosting here on Writing to Inspire. Have you been making good progress toward your reading goals?



There's only one more month to go now. I have been rooting for you to enjoy and do well on this reading challenge over the past five months, and I'll still be rooting for you through December as well.


You can do it!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving

by Andrea Renee Cox

Happy Thanksgiving week! I hope your family and you will create wonderful memories as you eat great food, play board games, watch movies, chat up a storm, and whatever else you might do during the holiday.


What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?



Monday, November 13, 2017

A Glimpse at a Rough Draft

by Andrea Renee Cox

This month is insanely busy for me, but I am remembering to take time to enjoy life and rest between my various projects. This weekend, I saw Murder on the Orient Express, which was a phenomenal story, one which I recommend studying to learn how to write complex plots that keep viewers guessing until the very end. I also saw a re-showing of Casablanca—a celebration of its 75th anniversary—an old classic I didn’t appreciate the first time I watched it. Cut me some slack, though. I was a teenager who understood nothing of politics back then. Even though I am still not a fan of politics, I understand more about them now, and I’ve learned a great deal about WWII since the last time I viewed that classic movie. 

As for rest, I’m soaking in snippets of the Word of God. I’m finding it helpful to meditate on a single verse or small section of verses these days, since I am so busy. This still keeps my mind and heart focused on God and His Word, even as chaos is pinballing around me. I love writing these verses on the white board in my room as well as on 3-by-5-inch notecards to stick in my purse, keep at my desk, and prop up on my bookcase (which I visit often, as you can imagine, my being an avid reader). At other times, I like to flip open to a favorite section in the Bible and read a full chapter. While doing this, I pay extra-special attention to any passages that I had previously highlighted, underlined, or circled—and I often end up finding hope, encouragement, and a whisper of love from the God I serve. Those moments are the most precious of my day.

These days, I need all the encouragement I can get, because I’m nearing the middle of NaNoWriMo, which is a challenge to write at least 50,000 words toward a new book during the month of November. Believe it or not, I’m past 40k already. Still going strong too. I’m at that point now where I’m doubting the quality of my work and dreading the editing. Normally when I reach this point, I hit a slump in my writing. I don’t know if it’s a dip in my confidence or a gap in my timeline (or lack of a timeline altogether). This year I have most of a timeline, and my confidence is stronger than in NaNos past. Still, I find myself struggling to find words right when I sit down.

Since I’m talking about NaNoWriMo and the story I’m working on, how would you like to see a section of my very rough first draft? Sharing something so raw and unedited makes me nervous, but I appreciate you guys so much that I want to share this tidbit with you. Here goes…

Monday, November 6, 2017

Work-In-Progress

by Andrea Renee Cox

November is here. What does that mean to you? For me, it means family, Thanksgiving, and NaNoWriMo.

Do you remember when I told you about my project for this year's National Novel Writing Month challenge? I began writing it on November 1, and I've been chasing words every day since then.

Would you believe that I've already passed 16,000 words? I've written three and a half chapters, cried several times (twice on day one!), and am enjoying getting to know these characters better as I step into their upturned world. More than that, while I'm in the beginning chapters of this work-in-progress, I'm loving discovering (again) that I am a work-in-progress.

One of the things I was most nervous about prior to beginning this book was finding the right tone in the first three paragraphs. I love a dynamic opening line too, so of course I was hoping for one, but I wasn't really sure if I would find one. I prayed for God's guidance for the first line and opening paragraphs, as I do over every chapter and every word, because my future readers and this book are so special to me. In addition to that, I want this story to make an impact from the beginning. I knew if I got the tone wrong from the start, I'd end up having to rip the entire story apart in rewrites, and I dislike having to do that -- though sometimes it's necessary.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

by Andrea Renee Cox

Coming up in only a couple of days, I'll be hosting a reading marathon of Katherine Reay's books. As a bit of a preview, here's my review of her fifth novel, which happens to be her newest release, available on November 7. Stay tuned past my review for more information on the reading marathon. I would love it if you'd join in the fun!



The beginning chapters of The Austen Escape provided a steady, gentle tug into the story, but before I knew what was happening, I found myself ensnared by this beautiful, vulnerable tale of tender hope and broken friendships wrapped in a contemporary-Regency setting. I love Ms. Reay's trademark inclusion of vulnerability and insecurities in not only the lead but also the supporting cast. Honestly, I think she's one of the best at incorporating these qualities in a way that makes her characters and stories incredibly easy to relate to... and ones that will always have a place on my bookshelves.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Prep Work for Another NaNo

by Andrea Renee Cox

It’s just about that time again. NaNoWriMo begins on November 1, which is barely over a week from now. In case you haven’t yet heard, NaNoWriMo is short for the National Novel Writing Month—November—during which writers come together online and try to each write 50,000 words in a new book. Some are rebels and work on screenplays, short stories, or a new draft of an old book. I’ve been one of those rebels before, but this year I’ll be starting from scratch on an entirely new story.



How does one go about preparing for NaNoWriMo?

That’s a fantastic question. I used to simply wing it. Yep, I’m serious. I’d pick the idea most prevalent in my mind and dive into it with zero prep work done. No character sketches, no timeline, no backstories… nothing. It seemed to work… for a while. Then I’d get stuck. Not just I’m-in-the-ditch-someone-tow-me-out stuck, but actual I’m-in-a-fifteen-car-pileup-and-the-rescue-team-is-behind-miles-of-traffic stuck. It would typically take three to five days of precious writing time staring at the page and maybe getting a single paragraph written during that entire span.

In recent years, though, I’ve changed from a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants, or without a lot of prep work ahead of time) to a plantser (a combination or pantser and plotter), but this year I’m considering myself more of a plotter (someone who prepares ahead of time and might have at least a rough outline of their story and/or character sheets worked up).

Monday, October 16, 2017

Upcoming Reading Marathon

by Andrea Renee Cox

Coming up in November, I'll be hosting a reading marathon of Katherine Reay's books in celebration of her new release, The Austen Escape, which releases on November 7. Stay tuned through this article for more information about the books involved in the marathon. I hope many of you will join in on the reading fun. I've checked with Ms. Reay, and she said she may stop by to answer any questions we have about her books as we discuss them. How awesome is that? I love it when authors get involved in discussions of their books.



Where?

The Katherine Reay reading marathon will take place on Goodreads in the Christian Fiction Devourer group, of which I'm one of the moderators. You may find the thread for the marathon by clicking here.

Can't decide yet? No worries! There's another opportunity to join near the bottom of this article, and I'll be adding a reminder to the bottom of the next several articles for your convenience.

When?

These are the dates of discussion for each book. Spoilers will be allowed for each book on its discussion date, so beware of that if you're popping in while you're in the middle of reading one of the books. The pace is one novel per week, but you don't have to participate in all of them if that doesn't fit into your schedule.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton

by Andrea Renee Cox

Heartache in a Book

*** 
DISCLOSURE: I receive complimentary books from publishers, publicists, authors, and sites like Netgalley, Litfuse Publicity Group, and Blogging for Books. They do not require me to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
***


From the outset of this story, I knew it was going to twist my heart into a pretzel. While I didn’t much care for Philip, his arguing with his wife was what first endeared me to Clare. It was clear she wanted the best thing for her family, and it’s hard sometimes to know what that is, especially when the leader of the family is off chasing a whim. I’m glad I stuck through with Clare through the stubbornness she displayed often throughout the remainder of the book, because her heart journey was exquisite. To have one’s son stolen by Indians and then to attempt to gain those Indians’ trust in order to get merely a glimpse of the child lost to you… I can imagine how much one’s heart would wrench and ache in that scenario.

My favorite character was Wolf-Alone. He was quite mysterious, and I can’t remember him in The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn (I wish I had time to reread that one right now!), but he was the type of guy who stands for what he believes in and tries to keep the peace but is willing to fight for his people too. Ultimate hero, right there. So yeah. I may have to dig out my copy of Tamsen after all. I want to see what happens next to Wolf-Alone, who might just go by a different name in the other book.

Monday, October 2, 2017

See: A One Word Update

by Andrea Renee Cox

Recently, I read an update on Cara Putman’s One Word. It’s an interesting article, and I hope you’ll give it a look.

After reading that one, and recalling that I was planning on updating you guys on my own One Word for 2017, I am here today to share how God has opened my eyes this year.


My word is "see." One of the things that God whispered to me pretty early on was, "See what I'm already doing in your life." Okay. So I thought I was appreciating them as they came along, but sometimes life sweeps us along too fast if we aren't being deliberate about it. God has done some pretty amazing things in my life this year. Here are just a few:

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Question of Honor by Jesseca Wheaton

by Andrea Renee Cox

DISCLOSURE: I received compensation for my honest review. Writing a positive review was NOT a requirement.

The heart of A Question of Honor was engaging, well expressed, and heartrending. While there were typos, inconsistencies, and factual and historical errors, this was a powerful, emotional story that easily gripped my soul. There is room for this author to grow in her craft, but she is already carving out space for her beautiful stories in the world of literature. I am eager to read more from her.

The way two different story lines came together was interesting. It was fun getting to know both sets of characters and their quirks, hopes, and challenges. Even more enjoyable was when their individual stories crashed together. It wasn’t always pretty – war’s an ugly thing, after all – but a thread of hope was the binding agent spreading to every page.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Why Not Ask for Patience?

by Andrea Renee Cox

This article began by my reading a guest article on Tricia Goyer’s website. (Stay tuned for a link to that article.)



There was a line in the article that said, “It’s kinda like praying for patience. Never do that either.”

My hackles went up on that one, to be completely honest. Who was this woman to tell me what my faith journey should look like? How could she possibly know what spiritual lesson I need to learn? And why do people keep telling me not to ask for patience?

(The rest of the article was amazing. Amy Matayo had some great points, and I appreciated her insight on faith being hard sometimes. So true!)

Why should I not ask for patience if that’s what I truly need to learn?

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Lady and the Lionheart by Joanne Bischof

by Andrea Renee Cox

Before we get to today's article, let's take a moment to pray for the folks in the path of Hurricane Irma and anyone who will be touched by Hurricane Jose. Also, for those who were impacted by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Katia, the earthquake in Mexico, and the wildfires blazing across western portions of the United States.

Father God, please comfort and protect the people in the paths of these storms and natural disasters. Help them to stay as safe as possible and evacuate as needed. Please infuse each heart with Your love and comfort. Help hearts all over the world to draw closer to You because of these disasters we're facing. Thank You for all the volunteers and authorities who have all been helping residents through these storms. Bless each of them for their commitment to helping those around them. In the name of Jesus Christ, I praise You for being our Port in the storms of life and ask safety and recovery for those in the path of these storms. Amen.

***

There are things in my past I cannot change. Things that have broken me, left behind scars... Only one God could reach into those dark places and heal them. The scars remain, as do the lessons learned, but the pain has been transformed to divine joy.

The Lady and the Lionheart reminded me of my journey with God to discover just how far inside a person His healing touch can go. This story of a tattooed beast and a soiled beauty was a charming, deep, richly flavored tale with such heart and raw pain laid bare for the audience to do with what they will. That's what I cherish about Joanne Bischof's stories: Her heart—vulnerable and honest—flutters on every page, through every word.

I was surprised that the faith thread wasn't clear or really noticeable until chapter nine. This was different and unexpected. But then faith oozed into the fabric of the story and swept into a magnificent crescendo, so it turned out not to be a bother that faith was a latecomer. Better late than never, as they say.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Labor Day!

by Andrea Renee Cox

Today is Labor Day, so tell me:

How are spending Labor Day?

Are you having a barbecue?

Is your day being shared with friends or family?

Are you able to enjoy a day off from work?

Monday, August 28, 2017

#PrayingForTexas and #Harvey2017

by Andrea Renee Cox

Right now it's Sunday evening, and I'm watching The Weather Channel's coverage of now-Tropical Storm Harvey. There is severe flooding throughout southeastern Texas, my home state. Thankfully, I live in north Texas so am safe from the storm's path of severe wind and rainfall. But that doesn't mean I've been uninvolved in the storm.

While I have not been able to physically take part in any rescue efforts, I have done what I can do: pray.

Courtesy of Google Images

All over social media (Facebook and Twitter are the sites I use a lot), I saw Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey updates with the hashtags #PrayingForTexas and #Harvey2017. These were encouraging to me, and I started using them too, hopeful that they would encourage those most affected by the storm.

I don't use these hashtags lightly either. My mind and heart have been in a constant state of prayer for everyone in the path of Harvey. I've prayed for safety, comfort, encouragement, and aid. I've prayed for spirits to be uplifted, for souls to discover God's love, and for the storm to dissipate and flooding to recede swiftly.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Note from the Psalms

by Andrea Renee Cox

Hey y'all! I hope you're having a very blessed day. Something that recently blessed me was looking at some notes I'd jotted down in one of my many Bibles. (One for every occasion? Maybe....)

The one I was using isn't even in this old picture. :)

Take a look at this verse from the Psalms:

"Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my adversaries; make Your way straight before me."
Psalm 5:8 HCSB


Monday, August 14, 2017

A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

by Andrea Renee Cox

A stuttering author and a beautiful thief. What could possibly go wrong?

Now Available!
Before I get into why I enjoyed this book, let me first share with you the two things that bothered me. Firstly, there were lots of minor expletives, words that many people wouldn’t consider bad but, in the context, quite likely are. Examples include blighted, blasted, blazes, etc. In and of themselves, not terrible words. But like I said, within the context of how they were used and intended, they were replacements for the really bad ones, which equals the same thing to me.

Secondly, there was a moment when the leading man, a Christian, “could hardly begrudge” the leading lady “mumbling and grumbling and growling words no lady should know.” This was disturbing to me. Curse words should never be okay from a Christian perspective—whether saying them or being okay with other people saying them—because they do not honor God, and a Christian’s goals should include honoring God with every word we speak or think. Since Peter was thinking that he couldn’t fault Rosemary for cussing up a storm, it seemed to me that he was okay with it, that he was condoning it. That, to me, was inappropriate and out of character of him.

Because of that bit of a faith flub, I couldn’t give more than three stars, even though I really wanted to. You see, A Name Unknown was a rich, deep, thoughtful story. Its characters were sublime—minus those couple of things I mentioned—and intriguing and complicated. The plot was delicious and kept me riveted to the pages. The pacing was spot-on, bringing fast action scenes and ebbing pauses to let one catch one’s breath. Sweet, salty, sumptuous, suspenseful, secrets… this novel had a little bit of almost everything, and it kept me guessing on most points. I particularly appreciated Ms. White’s attention to detail and historical accuracy. Those are a couple of things I have come to expect with her books, and I was delighted to see they had continued to be strong and richly written in this novel, one I’d looked forward to for months prior to its release.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Traffic Jam Contentment

by Andrea Renee Cox

How do you handle a traffic jam?

Yesterday morning, I read Philippians 4, and the two verses that leapt out at me were these:

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”
Philippians 4:11-12 NKJ

My family headed home from a weekend trip shortly after I read that section, and wouldn’t you know that would be the day of bursts of heavy rain that slowed us down, a side trip that was for naught, and multiple traffic jams that had us inching along slower than a slug.


But I didn’t panic. Or freak out. Or get frustrated at any of it.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Learning to be Patient

by Andrea Renee Cox

In church these recent weeks, we are studying Ecclesiastes. A verse that really leapt off the page at me yesterday morning was the second half of chapter seven, verse eight:

“… The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”
Ecclesiastes 7:8b NKJ

Patience is something I’ve been working on a lot in the last many years. I’m nowhere near mastering it, and I’m not sure I ever will accomplish that goal. But I feel I must try.

Why?

Monday, July 24, 2017

Grounded Hearts by Jeanne M. Dickson

by Andrea Renee Cox

One of my least favorite things to do is write negative reviews. I understand how much time and effort it takes to write a book, and it's never easy for me to aim an exposing spotlight on a book's shortcomings. However, sometimes it's necessary.

A book I recently read fell into this category.


The gorgeous cover of Grounded Hearts fooled me, as did the premise. I expected a sweet story about a midwife who rescued an injured flyboy, but once I dug into the plot, I discovered the sweetness was merely a mask, and a flimsy one at that. The majority of the story ended up being crude and sensual.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Name Reveal + Bringing Maggie Home by Kim Vogel Sawyer

by Andrea Renee Cox


Two things have me really excited today.

1. Character names

2. Kim Vogel Sawyer's newest book

Hang in there with me today, because I've got a lot to say. Hopefully you're just as eager to hear it all as I am to tell you about it.


Let's tackle my own news first.


Last week, I asked for help naming three characters:


Father
tall, elderly, quirky, sense of humor, fading memory

Son
serious, too busy for love, trouble deciding what's best for dad

Stranger
quick wit, optimist, romantic, world traveler

Monday, July 10, 2017

Pick a Name

by Andrea Renee Cox

Remember when I had you help me choose which project to work on? You ended up choosing a really fun story for me to work on. Now that I'm getting deeper into the plot, I've got another opportunity for you to help me out.


How would you like to help me choose some character names?


Monday, July 3, 2017

The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

by Andrea Renee Cox

The premise for this book really intrigued me, as did the title. I was disappointed that the title barely had anything to do with the plot, though. I think there were two mentions, perhaps three, that the leading lady was the daughter of a captain, and she never once set foot on a ship. This was a large disappointment to me, as I really had hopes of a good ship scene or at least a more involved explanation for the title's claim.

A rather large inconsistency in Rosalyn's intuition about smarmy men irritated me throughout. She immediately sensed one character was a no-good rascal, yet another similar character with a slightly smoother but still clearly deceitful nature received welcome attention from the same woman, with little regard to anyone's warnings about him. What happened to her intuition? It vanished so quickly and with no defined reason that I found it difficult to feel sorry for her when things got tricky because of the neglect of her own common sense.

I enjoyed the complex characters from the beginning, and though this dipped a little due to Rosalyn's inconsistent intuition, the majority of the characters remained consistent throughout and I was quite able to enjoy their journeys.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Autumn 2017 Reading Challenge

by Andrea Renee Cox


Are you a fan of reading challenges?

In the last couple of years, I have become quite an avid fan of them. They are fantastic for discovering new-to-you authors or genres you've never tried before. The thing I really love about them is seeing which of the books in my towers and piles will work for each category.



I've finally decided to design my very first reading challenge, and you're the first to learn the categories here on Writing to Inspire.

Monday, June 19, 2017

And the Winner Is...

by Andrea Renee Cox

Last week, I asked for your help in deciding which story to work on for the rest of June. To recap, here were the choices:


Option #1
A woman wakes up in a hospital unable to remember anything about herself, but the doctor recognizes her immediately – only he doesn’t want to tell her the truth.

Option #2
Several ladies head out on a cross-country road trip, but each one’s secrets cause problems along the way.

Option #3
A former singer hides out with her daughter in a quaint horse town, but a stranded journalist thinks she could be just the story he needs to revive his stalled-out career.

Do you have a favorite in mind?


And the winner is...



Monday, June 12, 2017

Help Me Choose

by Andrea Renee Cox

Sometimes deciding what to write is hard.

I could write an entire catalogue of articles on how many times I’ve struggled with what to write about for my blog articles. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

How does one choose which story to focus on when there are a dozen, two dozen, a hundred ideas floating around in one’s mind?



Sometimes it’s really hard, and sometimes it really hurts, to have to choose. It hurts because once a writer has invested time and energy and precious brain cells building a particular story world populated by a bunch of intriguing characters that the writer begins to love, it’s really tough when a new idea comes along and begs for attention. Sometimes a writer has multiple projects, all with great settings and problems and characters and pets. The tough choice then gets even tougher, because in order to say yes to one set of characters and their world, the writer inevitably has to say no or not now to all the rest.

For this writer in particular, that’s really painful.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Compassion on the Court

by Andrea Renee Cox

Compassion on the Court
June 1, 2017

There was a moment this morning at the French Open (otherwise known as Roland Garros) that had tears pouring down my face. It was a moment in which tennis, competition, winning, losing, the seeding chart… all of that faded away and failed to matter. In this moment, one man’s heart appeared to be breaking, and the other man offered unparalleled compassion (which is understandable considering that he had been through injuries himself many times before).

Both Juan Martin Del Potro and Nicolas Alamagro were dealing with some discomfort and injuries cropping up in their second-round match today, but then things took a sudden turn. Juan Martin served, but Nicolas found himself unable to move to strike the ball. He then broke down in tears of apparent frustration. I won’t presume to know what was coursing through his mind, but I know playing in the Grand Slams is huge for any tennis player. Having to retire from a match is never easy, I would imagine, especially after pouring so much time and effort into training and fighting for each round of every tournament one competes in.
 
Nicolas Almagro (left) and Juan Martin Del Potro (right)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Let Them Eat Cake

by Andrea Renee Cox

Have you ever read a book that made you crave your favorite dessert?

Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd was one of those books for me. Just thinking about it now, months after I read it, has me wishing I had some crème brûlée or some red velvet cake (two of my favorite desserts). Maybe I'll bake something delicious this afternoon.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Psst! Want to Get a Sneak Peek?

by Andrea Renee Cox

Hey you!

Yes, you. Would you like to see a little piece of my recent Camp NaNoWriMo project? Well, your wish may just come true.

This story I worked on was from an outline I drew up in only thirty minutes one afternoon. I was so surprised at how quickly my first manuscript outline came together. It was definitely God-designed, I'll tell you that. A couple of things changed along the way, as I was writing the story, but most of the outline remained intact. It's only the second time I've used an outline, but both projects didn't take me long to write, and I credit the outline and God's guidance very heavily for that.


The scene I'm about to share with you is unedited, so please forgive any typos. It may not stay in its current form once I start editing in a month or so (after I finish the first draft of another book in the series). Even so, I thought you'd enjoy getting a glimpse at my hard work from last month.

Fair warning: If you're anything like me, you might want to have some tissues close at hand when reading this snippet.


Sneak Peek!*

Monday, May 15, 2017

Forensic Faith by J. Warner Wallace

by Andrea Renee Cox

Forensic Faith inspired me. It was such an encouraging book with lots of tips and suggestions for how to increase one's faith in an evidential way that will lend itself well to leading others to explore their own faith in God. This book was hard to put down at times, and I really appreciated the passion with which the author shared his message.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Forgetful Me

by Andrea Renee Cox

So, y'all, I have to apologize. I completely forgot about my blog. This past weekend flew by, and as I was heading to bed on Sunday night, I remembered, "My blog!" So here I am, at a quarter after eleven on Sunday night, and I have no clue what I'm going to write about.

But you guys deserve a blog article.

A good one.

Monday, May 1, 2017

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti + Giveaway!

by Andrea Renee Cox

When I started reading A Fragile Hope, I wasn't sure what to expect. Several chapters in, I was still unsure what was to come, but I saw glimpses of the heart-wrenching tale that was to commence. By the time I finished the last page, I was overwhelmed with varying emotions: devastation, hope, joy, a sense of refreshing, and a keen dose of peace that only comes with forgiveness.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Unsinkable Faith by Tracie Miles + Giveaway!

by Andrea Renee Cox



Optimism and positivity are things I've worked hard on since I was an early teen. Sometimes I still struggle, especially on difficult days, but overall, my mind has been transformed by the mighty hand of God. When Unsinkable Faith came up on my reading list, I had a feeling it was going to be good. Once I dove into it, I realized it is a fantastic tool for guarding one's mind against those pesky negative thoughts that like to creep up in the worst of moments. I am so glad I read this book, and I hope you'll find it helpful too!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Times of Refreshing

by Andrea Renee Cox

Have you ever found yourself tired and weary and in need of a good rest? Last week was a busy one for me, and it seemed like it caught up to me over Easter weekend. I was exhausted and had to sleep in pretty late a couple of times.

He is risen!
Happy Resurrection Day!

Yet, on Sunday morning, I found this gem as I was reading in the book of Acts:

"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,"
Acts 3:19 NKJ

Monday, April 10, 2017

Need a Short Read?

by Andrea Renee Cox

This month, as you might know, is a Camp NaNoWriMo month. That being the case, I am hard at work this morning, working on a novella. I'm already on the eighth chapter, and I'm just starting the second week of camp. Needless to say -- but I will anyway -- I have a secondary project to work on for later in the month. I'm hoping for just as much success on that one, but I still have to finalize my outline and finish up the last three chapters in the novella before I can start on the next project.

Since I'm working on a novella right now, I got thinking about a couple of novellas I've recently enjoyed. This past weekend, I read the Lynette Eason one I'll share in a moment, but it's been a few months since I read the Cara Putman one, and I'm hoping to be able to reread it soon. It's a quick read, so I think it will fit into my schedule one of these weekends.

Do you like novellas? Why or why not?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Grace and the Preacher by Kim Vogel Sawyer

by Andrea Renee Cox



What an amazing story. It's going to be hard to narrow down my thoughts and not give anything away, but here goes...

The themes of this story really captured me more than anything else, though there was a ton more to love about this book. From vanity, greed, and fear, to trust, serving Jesus, Good Samaritan, and putting God first, this novel was filled to the gills with lessons that were thoughtfully woven into every detail. None of them seemed over the top or preachy to me; rather, they were subtle and sweet and brought just the right touch of grace to the story line.

Monday, March 27, 2017

A Bittersweet Friendship

by Andrea Renee Cox

Easter is just around the corner, and this time of year always has me thinking on Jesus’s great sacrifice in order to save me from eternal death. It is with deep gratitude and a humble heart that I recall the immense suffering my Savior went through in order to fulfill His Father’s will. I am forever in His debt and want to always remember His finest hour.

Yes, I believe it was, up to today, His finest hour. I believe He will have an even finer one when He returns to fetch God’s children home, but until then, Jesus’s death on the cross, burial, and resurrection will remain, in my view, His finest hour, for it was through those three events that He conquered death for all eternity.
 
Jesus has conquered death.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Elusive Miss Ellison by Carolyn Miller + GIVEAWAY

by Andrea Renee Cox

When I first saw this book, I was immediately intrigued by the beautiful cover and the back cover copy. The story within was clearly inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, yet it holds its own flavor and style. I particularly enjoyed how circumstances pushed the characters to examine their behavior and make changes to improve themselves. The theme of controlling women losing the people they tried to control came through quite well, and I found this to be a direct reflection of real life.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Prayer Requests

by Andrea Renee Cox

It's late, late, late Sunday night (or way too early Monday morning!)... and I am not yet happy with the article I've been working on for you. So I'm scrapping it for now and will come back to that particular one for another week. For now, though, I leave you with a beautiful verse which has often been a comfort to me.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Camp NaNoWriMo + a Sneak Peek!

by Andrea Renee Cox

Hey y’all! How are you this fine Monday? I am busy as a little bee, working really hard on an outline for the project I’ll be writing for Camp NaNoWriMo in April. (Stay tuned for a fun sneak peek!)



Ever since my friend Hannah invited me to participate in Camp last April, I have loved and looked forward to it. Camp NaNo is a one-month writing session online (CampNaNoWriMo.org) where one may join a cabin of writing buddies. I like Camp better than regular NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) because of the cabin atmosphere and being able to set one’s own goals rather than being mandated to do 50k words. Sometimes I only have time for 20k or so; other times, I fly to 60+ thousand words before the third week of a month. Either way I go, the words build up into something amazing.

Monday, February 27, 2017

My Soul Sings by Kim Vogel Sawyer

by Andrea Renee Cox


Do you believe in jinxes?

I don’t.

But there’s a fictional town that completely does, and a young woman is suffering because of their superstition.


Kim Vogel Sawyer’s My Soul Sings contains an incredible sweetness that I have come to expect and admire in her writing. I especially liked how she wove that in amongst trials such as disability, outcasts, superstitions, hermits, and prejudices. Not only that, but she laces the entire tale with a thread of humor that perfectly balances out the weighty topics. One thing more that I enjoyed was how she’s got such a wonderful ear for nuances of speech. That really comes through well on each page.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Half-Empty? Or Half-Full?

by Andrea Renee Cox

There's a glass sitting on a table. The water inside kisses the midpoint.


Would you consider that half-empty or half-full?

Is the glass half-empty or half-full?

There was a time when I argued with my cousins about this very thing, and I kept insisting that the glass was half-empty.

Half-empty?


Why was I so insistent upon that?