Friday, January 22, 2016

Milestones Along "Publication Road"

Sometimes the journey to publication resembles a mountain path. Not just the steep, never ending height of the climb, but the frightening mysteries of the unknown, awaiting on the other side.

If you've ever undertaken a long term goal, you know it's important to celebrate the small things. Every step is a victory.

Those victories can be sneaky, though. They love to slip right by with no notice from you or family or friends. DON'T. LET. THEM. Snag every chance and rejoice for the things God has helped you accomplish. Don't forget to praise Him!

Here are some things beginning authors (and veteran ones!) shouldn't forget to celebrate:

-- The first completed synopsis (and each and every one of those little boogers that follow).

-- Each time you write "The End" on any writing project.

-- The moment you allow yourself the freedom to brainstorm something new.

-- Contest wins, of course.

-- When the words come like wildfire and you get a record amount of words.

-- When the words are eked out one by one and every thought seems so hard to form. Hey, every one counts and is an accomplishment.

-- Each friendship formed because of the written word (Seriously, list all the friends you've made solely because of your writing. What a blessing, right?!)

-- Every place you've traveled because of your writing.

-- The hard lessons learned along the way.

-- The times you want to celebrate a victory, but instead comfort a friend mired in the doldrums

-- The moments you become overwhelmed and know you can't make sense of this writing stuff without God's help

-- The moments He helps you

-- The sacrifices you and your family make so you can write (This is important. If your family has sacrificed for you to meet a deadline, plan a party just for the few of you and celebrate who they are.)

-- The first rejection (Some celebrate every single one. It means you submitted!!)

-- The first sale

-- The first good review

-- The first bad review

And the one I'm inviting you to celebrate with me today...


After much studying, prayer, hard work and waiting, I'm so excited to announce I've signed with Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Literary Agency!

To celebrate, I'm giving away 20 miscellaneous Christian romance books the week after Valentine's Day (yes, I know I was supposed to do this during Christmastime, but what better time than Valentine's Day to celebrate Christian love stories! The giveaway starts now, and all you have to do to enter is sign up for my e-newsletter HERE. Make sure you confirm your subscription with the confirmation email, since I'll be drawing the winning names from my newsletter database. If you don't confirm, I won't have a record of your email to contact you if you win. If you'd like to read a sample of my fiction writing before signing up for my writing updates, click HERE. ***These books are physical copies and therefore open to U.S. entrants only, but I love my international reader-friends too, in whose case I would offer one fiction e-book if their name is drawn (winner's choice, published between 2013 and 2016). Happy reading!

Please keep me in your prayers as I work to put forth my best for God's glory!

P.S. Winner of a copy of Johnnie Alexander's Where She Belongs is Beth Schwarzlose! Congrats! I'll be getting in touch with you soon!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Misty Willow: A Family’s Tree

welcome guest blogger, Johnnie Alexander

Shelby Lassiter Kincaid, the widowed heroine of Where She Belongs, dreams of raising her daughters in the golden place of her own childhood.

Misty Willow, a farm nestled in the gentle slopes and valleys southwest of Columbus, Ohio, was first hewn out of the countryside by a Revolutionary War veteran in the 1790s. The Virginia Military District land grant set aside a huge swath of acreage to veterans who were willing to trade their muskets for hoes.

Isaac Payton, Shelby’s direct ancestor, volunteered.

According to family lore, Isaac’s wife Constance named the homestead. While Isaac built their cabin, the young couple camped near a willow tree overhanging the banks of Glade Creek. In the early mornings, as Constance greeted the sunrise, a haunting mist blanketed the land. Constance thought it mysterious though oddly comforting. Her heart always skipped a beat whenever her handsome husband emerged through the fog to join her. They sat on the bank, enveloped in the mist, and made plans for their future in this new country.

During the Civil War, the willow standing sentinel over Glade Creek witnessed another important event in the family’s long history. Eliza Payton found an injured Rebel soldier near the creek and secretly nursed him back to health in the abandoned cabin. When Jeb Lassiter recovered, he asked Eliza to marry him and carved their initials on the willow’s trunk.

Throughout the years that followed, engaged couples added their initials so that the willow became a living family tree.

Shortly after Shelby and her girls settle into the brick home, built by Eliza’s father quite a distance from the creek, she takes them on a picnic to the “engagement tree.” Shelby points out her parents’ and grandparents’ initials but decides the girls have learned enough family history for the day when six-year-old Elizabeth asks about the SL + JO carving. Turns out, Shelby’s teenaged boyfriend was a bit premature with his marital plans. For reasons given in the story, Shelby’s husband never visited Misty Willow.

But perhaps Shelby will be given another chance to have her initials joined on the tree with those of the man she loves.
The Brick

Misty Willow is a fictional farm inspired by a huge brick house where my family lived when I was a teen. Built in the mid-1800s, it was first known as Maple Lane and later as Twin Oaks. We still call it The Brick.

A beloved house. Possible Underground Railroad activity. A secret room. These elements and more are woven into a story that explores how much our present is affected by the past.

Where She Belongs
Misty Willow Series #1

Shelby Kincaid is ready to move on from her grief. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family’s ancestral homestead so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she’ll have her work cut out for her.
AJ Sullivan never wanted the homestead. Inherited as a punishment from his grandfather, it has sat empty for fifteen years and fallen into ruin. He’s glad to finally unload it. But a clean break isn’t possible when he can’t get the young widow Shelby off his mind.
Welcome to Misty Willow, a place that will have as great a hold over the reader as it does over its inhabitants. You can purchase Where She Belongs at: 

Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011) and Golden Leaf Award (2014). Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series; Revell) is her first contemporary novel. Her first novella, The Healing Promise (Courageous Bride Collection; Barbour), releases in 2016.

She also has won Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest). She volunteers as marketing director for the MidSouth Christian Writers Conference.

A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives in the Memphis area with a small herd of alpacas and Rugby, the princely papillon who trees raccoons. Find Johnnie at:

Facebook Author Page

Johnnie has generously offered a giveaway of her book, choice of print or ebook to any U.S. resident or an ebook to an international commenter. To enter, leave your email address in the following spam-free format so we can contact you: email AT address DOT com.
Comment fodder:
Is there an old homeplace, real or fictional you'd love to visit?
How about one you grew up on or have visited often? Tell us about it!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Technical Google and Blogger Changes

Hi, friends! Due to Google's administrative decisions, if you logged into Friend Connect via a non-Google account to follow this blog, you will be UNABLE to follow after January 11th. If you don't have a Google account, you can subscribe to this blog through your email address in the field on the right sidebar.

Thank you so much for hanging out here with me! I'm catching up from the blur of the holidays, organizing future posts and writing an update post for y'all!

The new Blog Calendar will be updated soon with a new schedule!

I realize I skipped right over Christmas and 2016, so I want to wish everyone a happy new year and thank you for your patience while I get things in place around here. :)

Lassoed by Marriage ~ Reviewed

Back cover:
 Come along on a romantic journey jam-packed with all the angst of marriages founded upon practical choices as well as coercion. Meet nine couples who barely know each other before they find themselves suddenly married to please family, to stem the tide of gossip, to save the land and joined for life. But can love grow when duty comes before romance?
Available for purchase HERE.

Writing a fleshed-out love story in a novella's word count limit is hard. All these ladies have done a fine job. These assessments will hopefully be helpful to readers and also to the authors in their future works. Great job, ladies! Keep up the good work!

1-The Substitute Bride by Angela Bell

I wouldn't want to appear picky, but I was a bit disappointed to find the first novella is a proper British story set in an English lord’s house when the collection is titled Lassoed by Marriage. There were no cowboys, lassos, or anything of that nature. The story had merit, but would have been much better showcased in a British forced-marriage collection. The characters, though interesting, came across a bit stuffy. Those characters’ fresh occupations carried the story for me in the end, she being a bookbinder and he a tinker in automata. However, this novella didn’t seem as much a romance as a tale of two prejudiced strangers becoming friends under the framework of a name-only marriage. The relationship’s conflict might have been resolved with an honest conversation, but the characters never were frank with one another. Even in the end their conflict was resolved with a conversation steeped in vague subtext. A British custom, perhaps? There are a few refreshing nods to classic literature as the heroine repairs books in the hero’s library, treating works such as, Jane Eyre, Silas Marner, and Austen’s novels as old friends. A book lover will enjoy this tale as will novelists, since the main plot centers around a love of bookish things. This is a new author for me, but her love of the classics tempts me to read more of her writings.

2-Bridal Whispers by Angela Briedenbach

This story set around a general store and a farm wasn’t exactly a boots & spurs type story either, but the theme of love by choice proved poignant and touching. With the tough road of a widower hero coming to care for his dead wife’s cousin and the cousin-heroine’s struggle to be loved for who she is, this tale took on a real-life feel as the characters battled their own natures and others’ perceptions head-on to find a way for love. This is more than your average strawberries and whipped-cream romance fluff--kudos to the author for that. The relationship portrayed finds its foundation in self-sacrifice and determination to make a better marriage. I look forward to reading more work by Ms. Briedenbach, also a new-to-me author.

3-Mule Dazed by Lisa Carter

Confession: as I read through this collection, I wrote each novella’s review into a document while the story was bright in my mind. Now my document seems to have erased the review for this one. :( Grr. But I’ll rewrite one just to say I loved so many aspects about this story. A new sheriff looking to prove himself is bested at every turn by an annoying woman who hero-worships him. And another problem? Mischief clings to her like ticks on a…well, a mule for instance. The continuity in this novella was as satisfying as a fresh-baked biscuit. The comedy was hilarious, especially toward the end where the hero starts singing “Bringing In the Sheaves”—I laughed out loud. The romance was sweet and the characters down-to-earth. To be honest, I thought the hero’s “cornpone and grits” type dialogue a little too countrified during the first few paragraphs (and I’m from the South!), but his accent and colloquialisms soon mellowed out into honest-to-goodness country boy talk you couldn’t help but fall in love with. I’ve known the name Lisa Carter from her career as a suspense novelist, but I hope to read many more stories like this from her.

4-The Sweetwater Bride by Mary Connealy

Mary once again takes us on a romping romantic comedy with a delightful web of our favorite characters. Like visiting old friends again. This wasn’t exactly a forced marriage story, since the characters fell in love before the wedding, but the story was full of laughs as well as sweet moments and explorations of human nature. Like most of Mary’s novels, this little story is deeper than it lets on. Well done.

5-A Highbrow Hoodwink by Rebecca Jepson

This novella ranges from upper crust society to life in the shadowy dens of 1880s Denver. Not exactly a cowboy story, but sort of a rags to riches tale. I liked the premise and the way the author included an adorable small child. The main characters were interesting and well constructed. Some of the timeline was unclear, however. Apparently the story spans two years or so. Much of the romantic conflict could’ve been solved by an honest conversation, and the hero seemed a godless profligate until the very end when he quoted scripture as if devout. Though I prefer comedy to drama, this story still held my interest until the end.

6-Not So Pretty Penny by Amy Lillard

This novella is so fresh and different. I loved the journey. A post Civil War homestead is the setting where unique characters, a strong, unrefined woman and a prisoner set to hang, strike a match that will send sparks flying to kingdom come. One offense the heroine holds against the hero seemed a bit cliche, but overall this is a fun, sweet story and makes me want to read more from this author.

7-All's Fair by Gina Welborn

I’ve never read a novella quite like this one. Set near the river in the town of Wathena, Kansas, this early 1900s twist on the Hatfields & McCoys/Romeo & Juliet plots is delightfully fresh and unpredictable. The characters bond with the reader so you wish there was a full-length novel chronicling their journey. This is the second work of fiction I’ve read from Gina Welborn. The novella pulled me into the character’s actions and feelings from the start. I plan to read more from this author. She has a special gift for storytelling.

8-The Colorado Coincidence by Kathleen Y'Barbo

English nobility meets the Colorado ranching class in this sweet story about a desperate widow and a no-account gambler. Evil plots behind the scenes and greedy, murderous neighbors, as well as the question, “Will this marriage survive?” make this novella a page-turner. A few glitches include one Irish character later being described as Scottish, author “filter words.” An enjoyable story from one of my favorite authors through the years.

9-Railroaded into Love by Rose Ross Zediker

The sweet romance of a preacher and his best friend-turned-outlaw’s sister. To protect her from her evil brother and rescue her from captivity of singing songs in a bawdy house, Noah marries Molly in name only. A little boy adds depth to the story and brings the hero and heroine closer together. I might have enjoyed more action and less introspection. I didn’t understand the hero’s not responding immediately when he discovered his wife loved him and wanted to run away to save him her troubles. But in the end it all worked out. Also, the heroine put her fists on her hips a bit too often, but the setting was fresh and the plot as well.

Overall a fun, romantic trip into historical times. I would recommend to anyone who loves a good, sweet love story.

I received an e-copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.