Monday, April 29, 2013

Civil War Romance

Matthew Scott is a theater owner conscripted into the Confederate army against his will. Angelina Rose is a former slave with skin as white as that of the mistress of Shirley Plantation. Both Matt and Angie seek God’s plan for their lives but find it difficult to discern in the turmoil of the Civil War. When their paths collide, will their patience and trust in God keep them safe from harm? Will Matt’s mysterious past hinder them from tasting the blossoms of love?

Return to Shirley Plantation: A Civil War Romance provides a fresh, sweet voice to a period of American history remembered for its blood-soaked battlefields. Author Carrie Fancett Pagels shares her love of the past in a magnificent tale of mystery and forbidden love. Her talent and passion will ensure that future generations will glimpse the places their ancestors lived and died. This novella is a window into the pages of time. It’s a debut not to be missed!

As I read this eBook, the words transported me to a different time and place. The writing style appealed to each of my senses. In addition, the scenes, wardrobe and characters were so flawlessly expressed that their portraits were painted across my mind. This is one kind of writing I love to read because it left me breathless in admiration. God has given Carrie a gift that she gladly shares with the world.

A big THANK YOU to Carrie Fancett Pagels for my copy of her debut novella to review. My first professional request because of the writing talent God has given me . . . I’m flattered and very humbled.

Please visit Carrie at any of the following places:

Her eBook Return to Shirley Plantation is currently available at:

Now it's your turn to tell your story. Can YOU trace your heritage back to the Civil War? Were you surprised at which side your ancestors chose to fight for?

Be sure to tune in next week. Carrie Fancett Pagels guest posts!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Hope Among Shadows

While reading Joanne Bischof’s debut novel, Be Still My Soul, I held my breath as Lonnie Sawyer struggled to earn Gideon O’Riley’s love. By the end of the book, I realized the difficult journey had been worth it. Lonnie had found her joy.

What I didn’t expect to discover in the second Cadence of Grace story, THOUGH MY HEART IS TORN, was that Cassie Allen (a mysterious minor character from book one) would try to spoil every happiness the O’Rileys had found by claiming she was Gideon’s rightful wife. Naturally, her claim caused heartache and sorrow for both Lonnie and Gideon, as evidenced in chapter 10, page 64: “The thought of losing Gideon struck Lonnie’s heart like a stone.” The world collapsed around them, and they wondered if they’d ever know joy again. Did they discover the true Source of peaceful joy? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

With Lonnie and Gideon struggling to overcome their heartache, my thoughts drifted to a similar track. How do we overcome sorrow? Author Joanne Bischof hinted at the answer in chapter 18, when Gideon said, “Lonnie, I would do anything to earn your forgiveness.” Though forgiveness is not earned but freely given, seeking the precious treasure from God is the first step to our joy returning.

THOUGH MY HEART IS TORN is a beautifully written struggle to unearth joy in the midst of shattered dreams. Joanne paints a stunningly sorrowful tale infused with a sparkling streak of hope that satisfies the reader’s heart. This book will leave you anxiously awaiting the third installment in Joanne Bischof’s Cadence of Grace series.

You may order THOUGH MY HEART IS TORN from Joanne Bischof’s website:

The author may also be found on Facebook:!/joannebischof?fref=ts

How have YOU overcome heartache and sorrow?

Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah for my copy of Though My Heart Is Torn for this review.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Construction Zone!

The challenges of writing are many. From unplanned plumbing problems and hand cramps to illnesses and rejection letters, the odds certainly stack up against an aspiring writer. So, what’s a person to do when a brick wall looms overhead, effectively blocking the path to wherever the writing journey may lead?

Build a ladder!

I’m not talking about an ordinary ladder. No, that wouldn’t do the trick in the least. The ladder I speak of is more a collection of people and items that, once stacked perfectly together, will allow the novelist to scale that impregnable wall and step into the future.

As with most things, it’s wise to begin by laying a firm foundation. What better way than devoting time to God? As Christian authors, our help, inspiration and words come from the Lord. If we don’t spend quality quiet time with our Savior, our ladder will wobble, shake and fall.

Once the foundation’s set, it’s time to set the rungs in place. The first few are formed by carving out writing time. If you’re anything like me, your life is packed with events, appointments and everyday living that instigates unpredictability. Squeezing in time to pen chapters on your latest work in progress may be the biggest challenge of the day. Whether it’s a couple hours here or a few minutes there, be sure to unearth moments to focus your efforts on jotting down your story.

The next several handholds consist of your core support group. A spouse, parent, friend or critique partner may be these essential people. This small flock of folks believes in your ability and dreams. They become your personal cheering squad long before you think you’ll ever see your name in print.

Research tools provide the next steady grips. Books are handy forms of research because you can mark pages with sticky notes for easy reference. The internet and personal interviews are also invaluable resources available when you’re preparing to dive deeper into the details that make your stories come alive. Experience may be the best tool of all since it brings a sense of reality to your writing. Whatever you do, don’t stop collecting research tools. They’ll come into play often on your writing journey.

Your ladder wouldn’t be complete without relaxation time. This time is crucial, in my opinion. You may spend it alone or with family or friends. The key is that it allows you to unwind from the craziness you’ve created in the land of fiction and get out of your own head for a while. When you’re focused on relaxing, the time away from your story should broaden your mind and enhance your writing the next time you sit down and ‘play’ with your imaginary friends.

Now that you’ve finished building your ladder, lean it up against that mountainous wall of roadblocks and climb. I think you’ll be surprised to see what’s waiting for you!

Photo courtesy of graur razvan ionut /

Top photo courtesy of Michal Marcol /

Monday, April 8, 2013

An Alaskan Love Story . . . Or Two

Have you ever received advice that completely changed your point of view? Your life?

Little does singer Ginny Marshall know that when she sets out on a journey to Glacier Bay, Alaska, the advice that changes her life forever will come from a love story chronicled in letters written over 80 years ago. Ellie's story, captured in hand-written letters, brings flashes of hope and a fresh outlook on life to a confused and heartsore Ginny. Can Ginny learn from Ellie's experiences how to trust God to heal the pain born from her broken past? Will she allow God to help her choose which path she should take in her life's journey? Will she sort out all her problems too late for a second chance with the man she loves?

Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss masterfully co-wrote a beautiful story of history, experience, advice, a love lost and rediscovered. The authors' hearts are very evident in every piece of Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Most likely, that's the reason I feel this novel is an emotional roller coaster well worth riding. Plus, it's a story within a story, which is an intriguing style the authors perfectly captured, if you ask me.

One of my favorite characters in Glacier Bay, Alaska is Grandma Ethel. With her spunk, advice and overt matchmaking attempts, she adds a spicy flavor that kept me flipping pages -- and sometimes laughing until my stomach ached! Something she told Ginny on page 157 really leapt off the page at me. "I want to be around to discover God's good plan for sending you up here. That's more exciting than any novel." As a writer, this comment of Grandma Ethel's made me giggle. As a tutor who has seen God's good plan taking form in many young lives, it had me nodding with a knowing smile upon my lips.

The Lord's magnificent plan comes alive all around us. I believe Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska, reveals this in its setting, history and people. I wouldn't mind journeying to Glacier Bay, Alaska sometime in the future to experience the community and heart that defines the tiny town of Gustavus, the entryway into Glacier Bay.

I hope you get a chance to read the sweet adventure that is Love Finds You in Glacier Bay, Alaska. Perhaps, some far-off day in your future -- or nearer to now -- you'll make plans of your own to visit Gustavus.

Here's where you may visit the authors and order your copy of their co-written novel:

Tricia Goyer:

Ocieanna Fleiss:

You may find them both on Facebook as well.

Was your own love story an easy journey on paved roads or filled with the potholes of adventure? Did you receive good or bad (or a little of both) advice along the way? Please share your story in the comment section below.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Be Still My Soul

Recently I met Joanne Bischof via e-mail and discovered a sweet, caring and thoughtful personality. Eager as I was to purchase and read her novels, my book budget had already been met for the month of March. So, imagine my surprise and elation when I realized her title BE STILL MY SOUL was available to review at Blogging for Books. I swiftly snatched at the opportunity presented and began reading the electronic version on my Kindle.

When Lonnie Sawyer's pa forces her to marry a man she doesn't love, she's grateful to escape her father's abusive hand. She hopes for a bright future, but it's evident from the beginning that her marriage will require heaps of work and patience, not to mention sacrifice. Before long, her new husband, Gideon O'Riley, reveals his resentment to being tied down by a bride, with little money and no land to his name capping off his frustration. Will Lonnie find in her heart the capacity to love this unlearned, impatient man she's avowed to? Will she discover that God has prepared enough strength and long-suffering for such devastating circumstances? Or will she become bitter before time can unveil a chance at happily ever after?

With a timeless quality and an entire cast of unforgettable characters that will steal your heart, BE STILL MY SOUL is bound to capture you immediately. It'll take you on a journey fraught with snares, difficult decisions and new-found freedom. You might find it hard to decide which character to root for. Whichever you choose, this book may shed new light on who you are as a person. You'll soon find yourself asking: Do I have the courage it takes to become the person God intended me to be?

Joanne Bischof began her debut novel with a simple, inspiring verse, Psalm 30:5.

"Weeping may endure for a night,
but joy cometh in the morning."

The story that followed was anything but simple. From the setting to plot to characterization, it oozed complexity but not in an overwhelming way. The author's heart is visible in every aspect of creativity and style, especially in the heartbreaking scenes. Her passion is present in each word on every page. It's obvious that Joanne has been given the talent of storytelling. The proof is in her knack for bringing modern-day issues to historical fiction in an incredibly seamless fashion. Keep your eyes out for this lady. She's certainly on the rise!

Visit to learn more about Joanne Bischof, discover fun facts about BE STILL MY SOUL and reserve your copy of the novel.

How have you found Psalm 30:5 applies to your life?

This e-book was given to me by WaterBrook Multnomah for this review.