Latest News

Book Release {THE UNSAID}

Posted by on Oct 11, 2016 in Book Reviews, My Blog Posts, Press Updates, Teasers | 0 comments

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I’m checking in to share some news with you! Aaron Blaylock, author of the popular adventure novel THE LAND OF LOOK BEHIND is releasing a new book this month. It’s called, THE UNSAID. I had the privilege of reading it early on and can’t wait of you to take a look at the awesome finished product.

THE UNSAID is a story about Maggie and Eric. Maggie is an unborn spirit who records every single thought that comes out of the typical dude that Eric is. There’s body odor, snarky commentary, charity and thoughtfulness. I loved getting to know Eric and seeing his inner dialogue. Have you ever gazed at your sweetheart (who is a guy) and asked, “What are you thinking?” I know, I know, you’re hoping for some romantic Mr. Darcy to start spewing sonnets, but he usually says something like, “That dinner was good, but it gave me gas. You might want to scoot over.” Yep, that’s kind of what we’re looking at here.

Maggie catalogues Eric’s thoughts every waking moment, including when he meets the new temp at work, a cute girl with a shy side. As Eric gets to know Lindsey and their relationship develops, we come to understand a bit of the inner struggle that Lindsey has going on. In one moment of crisis, Eric struggles to heed the promptings of the spirit that could be a matter of life or death and Maggie takes matters into her own hands. This action puts her directly in Eric’s mind and could possibly keep her from ever having a body of her own.

With so much at stake, Maggie and Eric have to find some equilibrium in order to make things work. You’ll have to pick up a copy of Aaron’s book to see how it all ends. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

THE UNSAID is funny, poignant and thought provoking. It really made me think about the things going on in my head and the words I say out loud. It made me reconsider how I spend my time. If someone was recording my every waking moment, would they die of absolute boredom when I waste time scrolling through Facebook or pinning an entire new wardrobe? And what really happens to all the things you leave unsaid?

You can go grab a copy of Aaron’s latest book here. You can also learn more about Aaron from his blog here

Oh, and take a peek at the back cover. It’s my first blurb! Eeeek!

In another dose of exciting news (brace yourselves!) my 2nd Snowflake Falls Inn novel will be coming out in November! Cookie Girl Christmas won a Swoony Award for Best Christmas Romance. I can’t wait to see what this book does. 

It’s a matching of wits, a battle of guitars, and flaring of tempers. For Journey Miller, social media queen in hiding, Cody Blake is everything that is wrong with country music. When he appears at her refuge in Snowflake Falls to complete his required community service, he’s fresh out of rehab and comes complete with bad attitude. After a little tumble in the mud (Oops! Did she do that?) and a few midnight chats, Journey realizes that maybe Cody isn’t a total lost cause. And just maybe, she can let him into her heart before she goes live with her new life.

Check back here and on my Facebook page for the latest news and updates on WHEN FIREFLIES SING. 

The Pages Between Us {Book Blast}

Posted by on Feb 13, 2016 in Book Reviews, My Blog Posts, Press Updates | 0 comments

The Pages Between Us

The Pages Between Us by Lindsey Leavitt & Robin Mellom

Told in letters, posters, blog posts, homework assignments, and more, The Pages Between Us is a totally fun, totally earnest snapshot of middle grade friendship—and what it truly means to be there for someone during the ups, downs, and everything in between.

Piper and Olivia have been best friends since…well, forever. But they’re distressed to find that their new middle school schedules aren’t giving them enough together-time. Luckily, an idea sparks when Piper finds a cute, sparkly notebook to disguise as her “French Class” homework. It’s genius—now the two BFFs can stick together all the time. And document their adventures—you know, for anthropology’s sake.

But as the two navigate the tricky new world of sixth grade, they realize that they may need to branch out more than they originally thought. Their notebook, once a life raft, begins to feel like a big responsibility. Can they grow up, without growing apart?

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Praise for The Pages Between Us

“Leavitt and Mellom’s humorous and perceptive tale deftly explores the quandary of how to sustain a cherished friendship while nurturing individual growth.” –KIRKUS

“A cousin to Rachel Renée Russell’s “Dork Diaries”… this is a gentler version of middle school, as the girls support each other through familiar trials… will be enjoyed by strong readers eager to devour realistic fiction with a multimedia slant.” ~School Library Journal

 

Lindsey & Robin

Author Lindsey Leavitt

Lindsey Leavitt is a former elementary school teacher and present-day writer/mom/party animal (not to be confused with her spirit animal, which is a lion). She lives with her family in the Utah mountains.

Website

Author Robin Mellom

Robin has taught grades 5 through 8 and has a master’s degree in education. She lives with her husband and son on the Central Coast of California.

Website

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BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 2/28/16

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Lindsey will be signing copies of THE PAGES BETWEEN US at Barnes and Noble Rainbow location in Las Vegas TODAY (2/13/16) at 2pm. Go out and grab a copy and celebrate with Lindsey!

P.S. Last day to grab a FREE copy of A Heart So Broken. Happy LOVE Day!

A Heart So Broken by Christene Houston

A Heart So Broken by Christene Houston

10 Great Romances {Valentine’s Day}

Posted by on Feb 12, 2016 in Book Reviews, Giveaways, My Blog Posts | 0 comments

We’re full swing into the season of LOVE and I had to share some of my favorite love stories: 

Romance You Can’t Put Down

Romances 2016

Reading is my very favorite form of therapy and ROMANCE is my genre of choice. Check these beauties out:

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Glimmer of Hope

This one by Sarah M. Eden totally resonated with me. I loved seeing a married couple come through some rough times and find their way back.

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Rough Edges

I really love reading this companion series to the Sweet Montana Bride books. Kimberly Krey hits a home run with everything she does. If you haven’t sampled her sweet romances yet, put it on your list!

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Becoming Lady Lockwood

Becoming Lady Lockwood introduced me to Jennifer Moore’s writing, and I’ve been hooked ever since. This novel went on to win a Whitney Award and other honors. What’s even better for a prolific reader is that she already has other titles out including another fave: Simply Anna. So good!

 

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Heir to Edenbrooke

This tempting prequel is just what I hoped it would be. I love hearing about Phillip, who I already adore from Edenbrooke. What I love most is seeing Marianne through his eyes as he meets her in an unexpected crash of fates. Julianne Donaldson takes us right back to what we love most about her novels and leaves us wanting more. 

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The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

I read this during the spring of last year after finding it in a Scholastic Book Fair. Friends who become more than friends in a perfectly paced, sweet romance. I was NOT disappointed.

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The Other Side of the Stars

If you haven’t discovered Katherine King’s debut historical set in post WWII America, you’re missing out. Her cover alone won a Best Historical Cover Award, and her story, woven with threads of romance, mystery and suspense will keep you turning until the final pages of resolution. 

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Pimpernel

This book kept me hooked until the wee hours after I picked it up seeking refuge after the drama that is the bedtime routine. I was so enthralled by Claire, her struggles and her genius and the surprising twists and turns in her story that I couldn’t put it down. During carpool the next morning, I exercised high levels of self control by not pulling it out while waiting in the drop off line. So good. 

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Cookie Girl Christmas

After winning a Swoony Award for Best Christmas Novel, I had to include this tasty romance about a handsome Scrooge and a feisty baker. Even though the holiday is past, it’s the perfect book to snuggle up with while the snow is still falling in many parts of the country.

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My Fair Gentleman

I just finished this last night, and I really enjoyed it. I’m obviously a regency nut, and this new novel by Nancy Campbell Allen delivered on the romance, drama and humor.  A really lovely tale.

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A Heart So Broken

A Heart So Broken is your bonus book. Not only is it a sweet romance with plenty of tension, misunderstandings and eventually some swoony kisses, but it’s also FREE for the next two days on Amazon. Snatch up the story of Jenna and Cooper, thrown together in the middle of a small town summer. She’s overcoming heartache and bad choices. He’s recovering from losses of his own. The sizzle between them is undeniable until she uncovers a devastating truth. Confronted with the unthinkable, Jenna must choose between the comfort of misery or hope that can only come from forgiveness.

 

 

{The Land of Look Behind} Book Review

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Book Reviews, My Blog Posts, Uncategorized | 0 comments

There is such excitement in the air when an author make their debut, especially when their book is diverse, adventurous, and intriguing.

Aaron Blaylock launched his new book, The Land of Look Behind  yesterday. I’m happy to be a stop on the blog tour to spread the word about his novel set in historic and modern Jamaica.

Ah, Jamaica, that little island we often think about in vacation daydreams. If you know anything about the origins of the island, you know there is a stunning variety of peoples who make up the modern day Jamaican population. In The Land of Look Behind, we encounter the Spanish, escaped African slaves turned warriors, English soldiers and more.

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In a cool note of serendipity, I met Aaron through Mr. Houston. Both of them served missions to Jamaica in the late 90s and grew to love the amazing people who lived there. From being persecuted for being white, to fond memories of delicacies eaten (goat anyone?), to learning the language of Patois (pronounced Pat-wah) – which from personal experience sounds like words with the ends nipped off or a handful of them smashed together into a new word, all spoken at a rapid pace – Mr. Houston absolutely loved his time in Jamaica.

The Land of Look Behind gives you a tasty sampling of that rich history through the eyes of Lieutenant Benjamin Jarvis. Inexplicably surviving numerous harrowing experiences, he leaves behind a record of his adventures for the modern day eyes of Gideon Goodwin. Here’s the blurb:

When Gideon, a former missionary, discovers a mysterious drawing tucked in an ancient journal he returns to Jamaica with dreams of finding a centuries old treasure.  He quickly learns there are those who would kill to keep the treasure secret. This thrilling adventure takes you deep into Jamaica’s treacherous cockpit country and back in time for a spine-tingling mystery you won’t be able to put down.

I really enjoyed the chapter by chapter switch between contemporary adventures and the deep history of an island so rich in heritage. Aaron gives his debut novel all the passion that comes from living among a people you grow to love.

Go visit Aaron’s website for more info about this hilarious guy. He really is one of the funniest people I know. Also, check out Goodreads for a chance to win a copy of The Land of Look Behind.

P.S. If you’re in need of a bit of romance this week, A Heart So Broken will be FREE 2/11-13/16!

A Heart So Broken by Christene Houston

A Heart So Broken by Christene Houston

Have you ever?

Posted by on Mar 9, 2015 in Book Status, My Blog Posts | 0 comments

Have you ever felt like you should do something? Something uncomfortable, even frightening. I’m not talking about that weird show where you had to eat earthworms for money. I’m talking facing fears, standing up when you want to sit down, speaking out when you’re so much more comfortable staying in the background.

The truth about me is that I hover somewhere between loving my people time–going to activities, heading up projects, book club, signings, etc. and enjoying the solitude of life. If there can be any solitude found when you have as many children as you do fingers on one hand. Ha ha! Not much solo time ’round here folks! 

A couple of years ago I attended a week of Education at BYU in Provo, Utah. The subjects were varied, the speakers phenomenal, the whole experience amazing. But that week, this little voice told me I needed to start speaking to the youth. Ha ha. Yeah right. Me? Are you kidding? The girl who was home schooled through middle and high school and therefore has no frame of reference for what youth today are experiencing? Me, who was so shy and quiet during my teen years I hardly said a word to the boys in my church class. (So embarrassing!) I pushed that little voice into the closet where it belonged and continued my general church service. Cause, see, here’s the thing. My husband is a perennial scout/young men leader. He has served in those callings involving the young men in our church ages 11-18 for almost our ENTIRE marriage save a few short stints in other positions, including about 1.5 years when I served the young ladies in our ward. Yep. I am pretty much NEVER going to be able to serve  the young women until all our kids are grown and suddenly we can both be gone on a weeknight and off to campouts , etc.

So why should I even worry about talking to the youth? I teach the women at church, sub in Primary on occasion, and love it. I write books for young people and women. There, I’m off the hook right?

Well, not so much.

That feeling continued to grow stronger until the end of last year. I looked at the new theme for the youth of our church and something inside of me just stood up and said, “Hey, let’s write a little book about how to do this.”

Ha ha ha! Hysterical laughter followed.

But that voice was serious. And soon I could think of nothing else. I was getting ideas and contacting people because I can’t just write a book. I have to just…know more. You see, I love the youth. I admire and adore them so very much. I see them for who they really are and it fills me with excitement and joy. And do you know what, I have one of them in my house. That little person I gave birth to, the one who made me a mommy and has been my favorite first child in the whole wide world? He’s 12 now and he’s in this zone of growth and confusion and struggle and joy. I love his guts. And I couldn’t stop writing. 

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This book, EMBARK IN HIS SERVICE, has been the hardest to write. I can honestly say that writing is a beautiful struggle anyway. I love almost every moment of it. Finding the perfect words to impart your message is tricky. To teens, even harder. But then, the opposition. The adversary poking me with doubts, filling me with despair and telling me over and over that this was not something I could do. I have never felt my weaknesses so strong as I did writing these words. 

You think that old serpent would know this by now, but when I know it’s right and you try to stop me, I just get that much more stubborn. I get that much more determined. And because I am growing up just a little bit, I turned to God. I begged Him for the courage to be who He needs me to be. This whole thing: every single word I wrote — it’s Him. It’s like I opened up my brain and He poured in the words that trickled out through my fingertips and into this message. It’s a call to serve. It’s a charge to be more. It’s a warning to prepare NOW because the waiting is over. 

I reread the words through my edits and marveled at what He told me. HIS WORDS. I am not that smooth or inspired. I’m just not. I take no credit. GOD is amazing. He can move mountains. He can write books. HE can rescue every child He has sent to this earth.

It’s coming out March 15, 2015. Tell your friends. Notify your youth. They need this book in their hands. Tell them He sent you.

 

It’s been a while…

Posted by on Mar 8, 2015 in Book Status, Inspiration, My Blog Posts, Press Updates | 0 comments

There’s this funny kind of thing that happens to writers. I enjoy blogging, but I can only juggle so many things while I am in the throes of writing–really writing. So that’s why I’ve been absent from this poor, neglected blog for a while. I’ve been writing! {Insert cheer!} Two new books are on the shelves in the last six months and it’s been hard and diligent work to get them there. Cookie Girl Christmas came out in December. Thank you to all my wonderful readers who snapped up that little holiday gem. Cookie Girl begins a fun series–The Snowflake Falls Inn Romances. I’ll be adding one every six months barring anything crazy, so be on the lookout for more romantic hijinks.

For a very long time I’ve felt like I should write for the youth of my church. (I’m a Mormon or a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You can learn more about what I believe here.) This year their theme is:

“O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind, and strength that ye may stand blameless before him at the last day.” D&C 4:2.

I wrote Embark in His Service with them in mind, young people ages 12-18+ who want to serve God and just need a little help to get there. This new little book will be coming out March 15 (eeek!!). I’m so excited.

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Plus, yanno…I have five kiddos and three have been taken down, in turns, with a tummy bug. So there’s that too. *Sprays Lysol on every surface*. I’ll be back soon.

Meet the Mormons

Posted by on Oct 10, 2014 in Inspiration, My Blog Posts, Press Updates, Youtube | 0 comments

A few weeks ago, I was invited to bring a friend and check out the new movie produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I walked in knowing a little bit: We would follow the lives of a few different people who were members.

What I didn’t know was that these people could be considered your normal everyday humans, until you look at the way they live their lives. The way they follow the gospel of Jesus Christ is unique and I must say beautiful. In the movie, which is presented documentary style, you follow six people, from a congregation leader or Bishop in Georgia to a WWII veteran known the world over as the Candy Bomber. I loved the beautiful videography (the more I say that word, the more I wonder if it’s a real word), and how inspired I felt by seeing the good others can do in their communities and beyond as they follow the Savior.

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The movie culminates with the story of a mother preparing to send her son on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). My favorite part of her story is hearing how her life changed from one of hopelessness and a repeating cycle of hardship into a new way of living. Breaking old molds and habits with the help of the Savior changed this woman’s life, forever. In my life as heartaches and trials have fallen on my shoulders, it has been the gospel of Jesus Christ, again and again, that has rescued me from falling into the old destructive patterns of my history and finding new ways of relief, service, selflessness, and gratitude. We are not destined to follow the path of degradation and captivity that others have fallen into. Each of us has a choice. To be free, to follow the Savior who has already ransomed us, and to give our lives to Him in service.

I have a strong belief, something I call a testimony, that this is true. Following the Savior of Jesus Christ by emulating His kindness, service and compassion to those He touched, is the way to real happiness – the kind that doesn’t end when money runs out or life is extinguished. I believe this is true because I have lived it.

Meet the Mormons is an exceptional look into the lives of everyday humans, working to better the world around them, juggling roles in their homes and putting family first, loving others of various backgrounds and religions and basically being the kind of human beings that make the world a better place. I left the theater feeling inspired to do more in my life to serve my community and follow the Savior.

No matter what your religious or cultural background, you will enjoy learning more about this interesting and unique culture. If you’ve had questions or concerns about The Mormons (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), whether they surround our belief in the Savior or the different scriptures we use, you can find answers through this well done movie. What’s more, you’ll feel a push, regardless of where you’re coming from, to be a better human. That’s a push all of us need!

P.S. All proceeds above production costs will go directly The American Red Cross. Awesome!! Let’s fill their coffers before the holidays!

 

Book Stand {Events}

Posted by on Jun 18, 2014 in Book Status, My Blog Posts, Press Updates | 0 comments

Friday and Saturday morning, June 20-21 from 8-11am, I’ll be running a Book and Soda Stand on a busy street in my hometown. 

The idea takes me back to those little fruit stands on the side of the road, selling sweet ripe cantaloupes and strawberries as big as your head and bursting with flavor. Or those little stands with cute dirty-faced kids selling lemonade that they drink as fast as they sell.

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There is something entirely down-home about selling from a table in the neighborhood.

Something basically good about reaching out to the people who drive down your street each day.

Something perfectly special about handing a book to a Mom rushing to soccer practice with her car full of kiddos, a little promise between you and her that while she’s cheering on her littles she’ll also be getting a little boost of her own.

That’s what books are all about. Cheering, boosting, taking you away on a journey that fills your cup when it’s running dry.

And while the Book Stores around town are slowly fading away in a tragic turn of commerce, that doesn’t mean books and people can’t rub shoulders. Sometimes it takes putting up a table, throwing out some signs and opening up a little Book Store of your own on a busy Las Vegas street. You feel me?

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Friday and Saturday from 8-11ish in the morning, I’ll be selling books from a stand on the corner of Decatur Blvd and Warm Springs Road (7580 S. Decatur Blvd) in southwest Las Vegas. I hope you’ll take a minute to swing by before rushing out of town, hurrying to the splash pad, running to work, dashing to soccer-swim-baseball-dance practice or busting through your to do list. I’ll have beautiful, glossy covered books and ice cold sodas and bottles of water for you to take on your way and tuck in your swim totes. 

Feel free to spread the word to your Book Loving neighbors and friends. Everyone welcome!!

Author Interview {Jenny Proctor}

Posted by on May 1, 2014 in Author Interview Series, Book Reviews, Giveaways, My Blog Posts | 2 comments

I met Jenny Proctor at the Whitney Gala in 2013. Since then I’ve been following her release of THE HOUSE AT ROSE CREEK. Her book was a finalist for a Whitney Award this year and Book of the Year! She’s also working with the talented Melanie Jacobson to organize LDStorymakers Conference 2015. I know it’s going to be even more amazing than this year!

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Jenny Proctor

Jenny’s here today to tell us about THE HOUSE AT ROSE CREEK and her other works in progress. She’s also giving away a copy of her book to one lucky reader! Enter below.

CH: Your first book THE HOUSE AT ROSE CREEK is out now, and another coming out soon. Tell us about them and where we can find them.

JP: The House at Rose Creek was released last July. I just learned this month that it’s a Whitney Finalist in the General Fiction category. I’m honored, and very excited about that. I will always have a special place in my heart for The House at Rose Creek because it’s the first novel I’ve ever written. You could almost call it the first anything I’ve ever written, first fiction anyway. It bloomed out of a handful of stories from my own family history and developed into something that I hope can reach people, touch them in a way and inspire them to think about things they might not have considered before. It’s a conversion story, and it deals with family history… topics I realize make a lot of people shy away or yawn, but the story has a lot of heart in it, and there’s some romance in there too to keep things interesting. It’s set in North Carolina which gives it a bit of a different twist. Being Mormon in the south is very different than being Mormon out west… not better or worse, but definitely different.

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My second book, Mountains Between Us, will be released in August 2014. It’s set in Rose Creek, the same small, mountain town as The House at Rose Creek and so has a few characters that overlap. If you read the first book, you’ll recognize a few people and be happy to get a peek into what’s going on in their lives, but it’s still a definite stand alone book. Confession? I love Mountains Between Us even more than the first book. It’s about an English teacher who’s taken a job at a rehabilitative boarding school, deep in the mountains, to be closer to his 7 year old son after a pretty painful divorce. He’s got some stuff to work through and he meets this amazing woman who challenges him and makes him crazy, but manages to help him in ways he never expected. It’s a true romance–a story about redemption and forgiveness and I’m so excited for people to get to read it.

CH: What are you working on now?

JP: Right now, I’m working on final revisions on my third novel, titled Nearly Nell–my first attempt at mainstream fiction. So I’ll just be totally honest. I’m a little terrified! This book is different in that it has a little bit of a speculative edge and some twists and turns that will make your heart skip around a bit (at least, that’s the PLAN. If I’m able to write the words as well as they sound in my head, maybe we’ll get there). It’s another book set in North Carolina, no religious themes, but some pretty deep questions about fate and destiny and how they play into the choices we make. My ten second elevator pitch? A girl who believes she receives messages from fate risks everything to fulfill a destiny that only she can see. Kind of exciting? I hope?

CH: You live in North Carolina and your stories take place there as well. Tell us some things you love about your home.

JP: Okay, so my editor at Covenant loves to tease me about how much I LOVE North Carolina. I think I’ve mentioned in our emails no less than ten times how much I worry about the cover design people putting the wrong mountains on the cover of Mountains Between Us. Because mountains in North Carolina and mountains in Utah are totally different! I’ve lived in the mountains of NC all my life and really truly, I think it’s the most beautiful place on earth. There are trees everywhere, and everything is green and lush. Even though North Carolina is a southern state, because I’m in the mountains our summers are pretty mild. It always cools down at night, even when it’s hot during the day. And the noises… oh, how I love the cicadas and the katydids in the summer time. My family loves to hike and we spend a lot of time outside… playing in mountain creeks, enjoying the views. It’s a great place to live if you enjoy the outdoors.

CH: You’re on the hunt for an agent for your newest book. What does that look like? Where do you find the agents you focus your queries on?

JP: My agent hunt for Nearly Nell is just beginning. I’m finishing up the final polishing right now, and will have the opportunity to get some feedback from an agent at the Storymakers Conference this year. I’ll probably wait to start pitching until after I’ve gotten his feedback. I DO have a list of agents I’d like to query once I reach that stage. Believe it or not, Twitter is a useful resource. I follow many agents that are pretty open on Twitter about what they are looking for, what sorts of things bug them about queries. If you pay attention, you can learn a lot in 160 characters or less. I also read a lot and pay very close attention to the author acknowledgements, where most of the time, agents are mentioned. When I read a book that I love, that I think feels similar to what I’ve written, I make sure and find out who the agent is and learn all I can about their submission requirements. It can be a tedious process, but agents aren’t generally mysterious. They are usually very bold and very specific with what they want. If you do the research, it’s not hard to narrow down the list to those you think will be a good fit. I don’t recommend blanket pitching… writing, and finding a good agent is never going to be one size fits all.

CH: What is your writing process? What do you listen to, where do you go, and how do you find time?

JP: My writing process involves lots and lots of preparatory thinking. I have so little time to actually sit down and write that I like to really know where my story is going to go before the words hit the page. I’ll brainstorm for weeks… in the car, while I’m working out, on the phone with my sister, bless her for letting me ramble on and on about imaginary people… I’ll think and study out plot problems until they feel clearly defined and then, the writing can happen. I don’t necessarily outline, but I think and think, then right down some notes, and go from there. I love to listen to music when I’m thinking/plotting, but absolutely no music with words. Most of the time, I choose William Joseph… an amazing pianist who never fails to inspire me. When I’m actually writing, I need silence. Which is why I rarely write during the day. My house is never silent and is FULL of distractions. I either stay up insanely late to write, or I get up ridiculously early. Most of the time, I pick early but it doesn’t always happen that way. I can definitely pull a few late nights when I need to.

CH: I love that you’re a mother of six, writing books and getting them out there. As a fellow mother (of five) I know it is a delicate balance, a crazy dance to get in the creative time that gives us peace and fulfillment while also being true to our first calling as mothers. Can you share three tips for making it work when your juggling a lot?

JP: I’m so glad that you asked this question, because as much as I love writing, I’m still absolutely certain that mothering is the most important work I do. It’s hard to find a balance and the honest truth is that sometimes I don’t. But I’ve learned to go easy on myself and be honest about what’s realistic. So three tips for writing and mothering at the same time: First, give yourself permission to NOT write everyday. General writing advice is to set a goal and hit your word count every single day. For me, I can’t deal with that kind of pressure. With six kids in the house there are so many things that have to be priority. I’m sure there will be a time and a season in my life where writing every day is a possibility, but for right now, it’s much easier to relax and not put that kind of pressure on myself. Second, talk to your kids about your work. My kids are my biggest champions. They love to ask about my stories, to get excited about the thing that so clearly makes Mom happy. One of my proudest Mom/writer moments? I had a plot problem that I couldn’t get worked out. I had my oldest son read the chapter I was struggling with, we talked it through, and he totally came up with a solution. It was so fun, and I could tell he was really happy to be a part of it. It doesn’t have to be this thing you do on your own… let it be something your kids can be proud of. And finally, regardless of how much writing you do or don’t do, make sure you SEE your kids everyday. I know from personal experience you can be with your children all day and not ever actually see them. Look them in the eye. Ask them how they are feeling, what they are thinking, what is making them happy or sad. Make sure they SEE you, SEEING them. It’s important.

CH: I read that on your last blog you had cookie recipes. Now I’m curious…would you share your favorite recipe with us (or two…don’t hold back!)

JP: My favorite cookie recipe?! OH, that’s so hard! My two go-to favorites are my standard Chocolate Chip Cookie, and then a Chewy Oatmeal Cookie. Both recipes are easily adaptable which makes them fun to change up and experience new flavors. Both recipes are posted on the blog, with links included below.

http://jennyproctor.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/chocolate-chip-cookies-by-me/

http://jennyproctor.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/chewy-oatmeal-cookies/

CH: The diary of an ancestor plays a prominent roll in your first book, THE HOUSE AT ROSE CREEK. I’m a huge proponent of journaling, so I love that! So I have to ask: 1. Do you keep a journal? 2. Have you ever read from the journal of one of your ancestors? 3. Why do you think journaling is important?

JP: I kept a journal from age 12, all the way to age 18 religiously. I have a chest at the foot of my bed that is full of journals… probably 10 or 12 different volumes. Sadly, I’m not near as good about journaling now that I’m a Mom, though I suppose blogging and Facebook take care of some of that. I don’t have actual journals of ancestors, but I have read letters and one particularly fascinating write up about the wedding of one of my great great grandparents. There are so many things that separate us from our ancestors… obviously the technological world that we live in is extremely different than life 200 years ago, but at the root of it, the human struggles, the relationships, the challenges and trials we face, those are pretty timeless. If I can write something now that might help my great granddaughter going through a similar struggle 80 years from now, that’s a pretty amazing thing, yeah?

CH: What did you read growing up that you feel shaped your writing or desire to write, and what are you reading now?

JP: Right now, my future reading schedule is FULL of Whitney finalists. I’d like to vote in as many categories as possible so I’m reading lots of really wonderful fiction by fellow LDS authors. The last book I finished was a lovely historical fiction by Anne Fortier called Juliet.

juliet-cover-art

I read so much as a kid, it’s hard to really quantify what influenced me the most. I loved the Bronte sisters. Jane Eyre is still a favorite but it was quotes from Wuthering Heights that I carried around in my notebooks at school.

wuthering-heights

I loved the passion behind the words. When you read something that really stays with you… That’s when you know an author has done their job well.

CH: Here at ADDICTED, we like to know what you’re addicted to. Tell us something you can’t live without.

JP: I can’t live without my four basic food groups… Fruit, bread, cheese, and chocolate. I really love good food. But that means, by necessity, I also really love to exercise too. I also love to laugh in the company of people I cherish.

Now for the fun part! Like I said, Jenny is offering a signed copy of her lovely book for one of you! Click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter and then share, share, share! Good luck friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Interview {Sarah M. Eden}

Posted by on Apr 18, 2014 in Author Interview Series, Book Reviews, Inspiration, My Blog Posts | 0 comments

I’m nursing a cold and feeling…bleh.

You know that moment when you sleep terribly even though your body is exhausted. You wake up from bad dreams in the middle of the night but can’t remember them in detail later, only the feeling of being disturbed.

And your baby has a blowout that could have been disastrous had you not had ninja like reflexes.

Yeah, that’s when my day took a turn for the better. You’re laughing, but successfully navigating a baby blowout is the perfect way to make your day happier. Oh, and snuggling said baby after an impromptu bath to clean up said blowout and then hearing him coo to you in gratitude for making him all nice and clean and snuggly. Hmmm…happy moments, people.

As far as the cold, I self medicate with Jane Austen on such days. There is probably some kind of scientific explanation for why reading Regency comforts me, but I won’t delve into the research. Instead I’ll share with you an Author Interview with one of my favorite Regency writers.  In 2014 she’s releasing a number of beautiful books much to her readers’ enjoyment. She’s also a Whitney Award Finalist. Here’s more about the lovely and talented Sarah M. Eden:

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CH: I adore a great Regency, so your prolific writing in this genre gives me great pleasure! What inspired you to choose the regency era and what inspired your first book?

SE: I first began studying the Regency era in high school. I had read my first Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility) and was so fascinated by the social strictures and expectations that I wanted to know more about the time period. I dove in head first and have never lost my love of this era. It’s now been almost twenty years since I first began an in-depth study of the Regency era, and with the knowledge I’ve gained along with the adoration I have for those tumultuous two decades of English history, I can’t imagine abandoning the Regency romance genre any time soon.

I wrote my first Regency in response to a challenge issued by my mother. I had spent a long afternoon complaining to her about how hard it is to find the kind of romances I most enjoy–solid writing, detailed and believable characterization, romantic tension without ratcheting up the steaminess factor–and she suggested I write one of my own. I took up the dare wholeheartedly and spent a lot of time studying the craft of writing before trying my hand at it myself. The book I wrote in response to that challenge was later published as “The Kiss of a Stranger.”

CH: The Jonquil brothers are swoon worthy in the best ways. What do you have in store for the rascally youngest brother?

SE: Oh, Charlie. I am actually really looking forward to eventually writing his story–it should be a whole lot of fun. There’s not much I can tell you about it that wouldn’t be a spoiler, either for his story or for the three brothers whose books will precede his. But, let’s just say, the course of true love does not run at all smooth for Charlie Jonquil. At all. At. All.

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CH: Two books out this year – how do you do it while juggling family and even health issues?

SE: I have had 5 books and 5 novellas released since January 2013, with 3 more novellas and one more full length novel out before the end of this year. So, I guess it’s fair to say things have been a little crazy.

One thing that makes that possible is the slow turning wheels of publishing. Four of those full-length novels were written more than five years ago, while the other two were completed in 2011 and 2012. So while I did have to go through multiple rounds of editing, which is no small thing in and of itself, none of these books were started and finished in such a short time. That simply wouldn’t be possible without sacrificing either the quality of writing or my sanity, probably both. The novellas were all written in this time frame, but at 12,000 words instead of 80,000-100,000 words, that is considerably more doable. When I write the novellas, I do a very detailed and tight outline, which allows me to write them fairly quickly.

Now that I have more or less caught up with my backlog of books, the real time crunch begins. With my health issues, I am no longer a fast writer. Whereas I could once churn out 3 or 4 books in a year, I struggled to finish even one in the past thirteen months. I can no longer physically type (though we are hopeful that will change), so that has changed the process of writing. The mental, physical, and emotional exhaustion that comes from a chronic illness slows down productivity considerably. And I have kids who need their mom, who have busy schedules requiring the mom-taxi, a husband who really likes having conversations and spending time with me, a house to run, other responsibilities, etc. I have learned out of necessity to be very organized and to do what I can to make good use of my time. Even with all of that, however, I can see that my publishing schedule will slow down from this point forward.

by Sarah M. Eden

by Sarah M. Eden

CH:  At the Whitneys last year, you wore a beautiful sash. Tell me about your personal heritage and does it color your writing?

SE: That sash was my clan tartan, actually. Shout out to Clan MacBean!

I have ancestors hailing from a small handful of countries, including Scotland (hence, the tartan), Ireland, England, and Germany. I have always loved studying my cultural heritage and gaining a better understanding of where my people came from, how the places they lived would have influenced their lives, what they experienced, etc. That certainly shows up in the stories I write. Longing for Home and Hope Springs were such a joy to write in large part because I was able to call upon my own Irish roots and celebrate that part of my ancestry. I often use family names and locations where they lived in the stories I write. It’s a fun way for me to connect to my own past.

CH: Tell us about your process for writing a book. I once saw an awesome outline (blurred, I might add, to keep up from getting any spicy tidbits!) for one of your stories. How do you work from start to finish? What is your go to book or source for research in this era?

SE: I always begin with the characters: who are they, what are their goals, what obstacles get in their way, why is reaching those goals so important? Without good, solid answers to those questions, there’s no story.

Once I’ve answered that, I work on a 9-point plot map–it’s an overview outline of the story in which I identify key events, turning points etc. in the story, all shaped by the character’s goals and motivations.

With that in place, I do a scene map, which is the image you saw. I write out a few bullet points of each of the scenes in the story and pin them up on a bulletin board, moving them around as necessary until the shape of the story is right. I sketch out any maps and floorplans that are key to the story as a way of preserving continuity. I fill out my character bible, which is a reference guide for information on the various characters. I identify overarching themes. I make a list of significant supporting characters.

Then I take a nap.

Then I get to start writing. I do a more detailed outline of the scene I’m working on, and then I write the scene. The story always evolves as I write and I make adjustments to the pieces as needed, but the characters and plot map are the backbone of the story.

I don’t have a single reference book that I rely on for research. I have mountains of sources, all covering different things. I have a few books that give a good overview of the eras I write in, but to truly write something authentic and accurate, I need details and primary sources and a lot of confirmations that what I’m finding is correct. I have never been the kind of writer who was satisfied with writing a historical novel that only kind of captured the feel of an era or that was basically accurate. I wanted my books to have that truly authentic feel from the very first page, and I knew that couldn’t happen without a lot of work. So I consult with museums and archives. I’ve spent countless hours reading letters and newspapers from these eras, pouring over scholarly journals, pushing through law books, era-accurate medical books, personal journals, etc. It is a lot of work, but I think it makes a difference in the end.

CH: Have you ever been to England? Do you plan to visit for “research purposes?” 🙂

SE: I haven’t been to England, though I very much want to. I have already mapped out my dream research “vacation” to England and Scotland. I’ll get there someday.

I did, however, go to Ireland at the end of 2012, which was a lifelong dream come true. While I was there I was able to do a great deal of research as well as simply enjoy the beauty of the country and the warmth of the people. It was amazing and I am anxious to go back again.

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CH: I’ve loved the Proper Romance series out now. What a relief to read juicy romances without the fear of crossing lines into bodice ripper territory. How did you get to be a part of that new line?

SE: When my agent read Longing for Home, she immediately thought of Shadow Mountain’s “Proper Romance” line. She felt it was a good fit there and so she pitched it to them. They loved the story and agreed that it was a good match for their vision of this romance line. I’m excited to see where this line goes in the future. There are a lot of readers who enjoy a non-bodice-ripper romance but struggle to find them. Having an entire line dedicated to providing those kind of stories is a welcome and much needed addition to the romance industry.

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CH: Tell us how you got your agent. Any tips for those still seeking the right agent for their work?

SE: My agent had mentioned on Twitter that she was interested in representing historical romance. A Twitter friend of mine saw that and responded, suggesting she check out my work. So, unbeknownst to me, I had an agent perusing my website, reading my blog posts, checking out my social media presence, etc. She liked what she saw and, via Twitter, asked if I would be at that year’s national RWA conference and would I like to meet up and chat. We worked out the details, she actually read one of my books that was already published so she would know if I was any good. We met and talked, asked each other questions, got a feel for what the other was looking for, and in the end it was a perfect fit.

In terms of advice for those looking for an agent… keep at it. Opportunities will present themselves when you least expect it. The key is being ready for them when they come. No amount of querying or cultivating connections will get you representation if the writing isn’t there. Work on your craft. Always be improving. Being a good writer won’t guarantee that you’ll find your dream agent, but being a poor writer will stand in your way every time.

CH: What have you been reading lately? Are there any books that really stuck with you growing up?

SE: I am currently reading for two different awards programs. I’m neck-deep in books I need to finish reading in the next few weeks. It’s been great to be exposed to so much writing–it is one of the keys to improving as an author–but has also meant I haven’t done any reading for pleasure in a while.

island-of-the-blue-dolphins

The book I remember best from my growing-up years was Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins. I read it in 6th grade and was blown away. I was totally engrossed in the heroine’s plight and pulled into the story. It was the first time a story did that for me and it changed my whole perception of reading. Until then, reading was always a chore, an assignment I did because I had to. But after reading that book I realized that reading could be exciting and enjoyable, even though it was hard for me. It pushed me forward and kept me reading at a time when I hated to read. I’ll always be grateful to Mr. O’Dell for writing a book that helped me over that hurdle.

CH: Finally, here at ADDICTED, we’d love to know what you’re addicted to? Is there anything you can’t live without?

SE: My first thought was step stools. I have one in every room of my house. Not as the result of an addiction, though. It’s really more of a necessity. I’m what’s known as “really short.”

Second thought: pointless online quizzes. I’ve taken enough to know what Jane Austen character I am, what city I should live in, which color best describes my inner child, which incarnation of Star Trek fits my personality, and which Harry Potter character I probably should have married. But this is more of a procrastination tool than a true addiction.

My third answer was Ireland, but that’s really an obsession, which isn’t quite the same thing.

Then, looking back over this list I thought maybe I’m addicted to lists. But in the interest of not looking like a total nerd, I’m going to reject that answer as well.

I think I’ll go with growing roses. That’s probably almost as nerdy as lists, but at least it’s true. Back when we lived in Arizona, we bought a house with thirteen rose bushes growing out front. I learned how to care for roses out of necessity and discovered that I loved doing it. So when we moved to the house we live in now (in a climate much more conducive to roses) one of the first things I did was clear out a flower bed that was ideally positioned for roses, and started planting bushes in my favorite varieties. The arthritis I now have in my hands makes this work hard, even impossible on some days, but I get so much joy from it that I’ve kept at it. I have had to scale back the vision I had for a long row of rose bushes, but I am enjoying the ones I do have.

 

I enjoyed Sarah’s writing before this interview, but now I absolutely adore the woman. As a fellow “fun sized” person, I appreciate her step stool addiction. I have a thing for lists too.

As I was posting images of Sarah’s latest books, I kept thinking, “This one is my favorite,” only to find another and think the same thing. I resonated with the stories in GLIMMER OF HOPE, DROPS OF GOLD, and AS YOU ARE and just loved reading them. Go check out Sarah’s website , follow her on Facebook and Twitter and pick up her books on Amazon. If you’re planning to be at the LDStorymakers Conference in less than a week, make time for her classes too. I personally can’t wait! Thanks again, Sarah, for visiting Addicted!

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