Fiction Faith & Foodies

Fiction Faith & Foodies: February 2014

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dancing With Fireflies by Denise Hunter ~My Review

Dancing with Fireflies
Amazon ~Pre-order Link
Releases on 3/11/14
About the book~
Jade returns home to Chapel Springs after years of protecting her fragile heart. Then along comes Daniel, making her long to dance again.

Creative and complicated, Jade McKinley felt like a weed in a rose garden growing up in Chapel Springs. When she left, she thought she’d never look back. But now, pregnant, alone, and broke, she has no other choice but to return.

The mayor of Chapel Springs, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley family for years. While his own home life was almost non-existent, Daniel fit right into the boisterous McKinley family. He’s loved Jade for years, but she always saw him as a big brother. Now that she’s back, his feelings are stronger than ever.

As Jade attempts to settle in, nothing feels right. God seems far away, she’s hiding secrets from her family, and she’s strangely attracted to the man who’s always called her “squirt." Finding her way home may prove more difficult than she imagined.

Sharing my review~
"I hate to ask another favor, but--" This one was harder than the last. More personal.
"Go on." His voice was deeper than she remembered.
"It's just that you know so many people, what with being the mayor and all. I was going to ask Ryan, but he tends to be, well, too brotherly, and if left up to him I'm afraid I'd never--"
"Spit it out, Jade."
"I need a man."

Some scenes were just laugh-out-loud funny. Other times, I felt like my heart was being ripped out of my chest. Jade had been in love once, but after her fiance died, she vowed she'd never go down that road again. So when she discovers she's pregnant, love isn't included on her "list" of qualities for a husband. Daniel helps her out with a date, but inside, he's dying, only wanting what's best for her, but that isn't him. At times, I wanted to throttle Jade. The perfect man for her was right in front of her face, and it took her awhile to realize that. Even then, she still makes some wrong decisions, but who could fault her for all she'd been through? I probably would have made the same choices.

Daniel's a hero who never gives up on the love of his life, no matter how far she runs or how long she stays away, or how many times she overlooks him for somebody else. 
Kinda reminds you of somebody else, doesn't it? What a gentle, intrinsic way to weave faith into the story. 

I thoroughly enjoyed A December Bride and her short piece in Smitten, and after reading this little goodie, I plan to snatch up some of her older titles! Dancing with Fireflies is a great book to curl up with in the evenings, to take on vacation, sitting in the carpool line, soaking in the get the idea. It's perfect for any time!

Disclaimer: Sending a big thank you to Thomas Nelson Fiction and NetGalley for allowing me the privilege of reviewing this book. I received a free copy of Dancing With Fireflies in exchange for my fair and unbiased review. This opinion is my own, and I received no compensation.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Call for submissions: A new imprint from Pelican Book Group

------------Permission to forward is granted------------

Pelican Book Group announces a New Adult romance imprint. Pelican Pure Amore romances will be distributed through an exclusive direct-to-reader subscription service.

Pelican Pure Amore^(TM)
Sweet Romance, Pure Enjoyment ^(TM)

Pelican Pure Amore^(TM) romances are sweet in tone and in conflict. These stories are the emotionally-driven tales of youthful Christians who are striving to live their faith in a world where Christ-centered choices may not fully be understood.

Plots should not contain overly hard-hitting or controversial subjects but should be hope-filled, enjoyable reads that don't come with a lot of excess baggage. Stories should be written in an active, engaging style that leaves the reader satisfied and smiling. Plots should focus on the love between a man and a woman who both hold God at the center of their lives and who have never been married. The hero and heroine will exhibit traditional Christian values but also should be three-dimensional and therefore exhibit flaws as well as virtues.

  • Neither the hero nor heroine can have been married before. No divorced, separated, or widowed protagonists
  • Both Hero and Heroine should be Christians throughout. While Pure Amore^(TM) may feature subplots that include the hero or heroine rediscovering or growing to a deeper faith, these are not stories centered on conversion. Therefore, both Hero and Heroine must be Christian at the onset.
  • Either the hero or heroine, or both, must be a virgin. That means they must be physical virgin as opposed to being a "rededicated" virgin, and this fact must be addressed naturally within the context of the story.
  • These are stories of Christians living Christian lives. Characters should adhere to mainline Christianity, but should not be preachy or didactic. The Christian element and/or lesson should be inherent to the characterizations and so should come through in the protagonists' natural actions/reactions to events and people around them.
  • Heroes and heroines must be between the ages of 21 and 33, inclusive.
  • ALL titles must be between 40,000 and 45,000 words. No exceptions.

Pure Amore^(TM) romances emphasize the beauty in chastity, so physical interactions such as kissing or hugging should focus on the characters' emotions rather than heightened sexual desire, and any scenes of physical intimacy should be absolutely integral to the plot and/or
emotional development of the character or relationship.

At this time, we are interested in finished manuscripts only. Please do not query unless your manuscript is complete. Please visit our web site for the access to the submission form. (short URL: )

God Bless,
Pelican Book Group
White Rose * Harbourlight * Watershed * Pure Amore

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Head In The Clouds by Karen Witemeyer ~Sharing My Review

Purchase Link~B&N
About the book~
Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind.
When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon--and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate.
When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the child--and her inheritance--Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?
Sharing My Review~
Adelaide Proctor abandons her teaching position to follow the man she believes will provide her with the family she so desperately longs for. Not that Henry Belcher makes her heart race, but she's waited a long time for him to propose. When she finally catches up to him, she accepts that there won't be a proposal. Grieving the loss of the family she'd dreamed of, she applies for a governess position, determined to follow God's cloud, just like the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness. I love how the title was such an integral part of the story. 

The plot dragged a bit during the narration regarding Lucinda's journal, but for the most part, I was glued to the pages and couldn't wait to get back into the story whenever I had a chance. Head in the Clouds is sure to make you consider some deep topics like...why God doesn't always intervene to prevent suffering. 

I especially appreciate how Gideon and Adelaide come to love each other without the snippy dialog that's common in many historicals, but rather, from a mutual admiration and respect for one another that develops into something deep and genuine. Adelaide's inherently clumsy,  creative, stubborn and loyal, and when she tugs a smile from sweet little Isabella, Gideon can't help but fall for her. 
As I have come to learn, Karen Witemeyer books never disappoint! Head in the Clouds is another awesome read that will keep your head in the pages. Pure enjoyment!

Disclosure: I scooped up Head in the Clouds while it was offered free on Amazon. The opinions expressed in this review are my own, and I received no monetary compensation.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Thursday, February 13, 2014 it or leave it?

Back in the fall of 2012, several of my author friends were announcing multi-book contracts. I was thrilled for them, but inside, my inner voice mocked. "You'll never get one of those. You can't plot."

Sure, I'd managed to crank out f
ive romances, but they'd all been written in advance, and individually contracted and published with Pelican Book Group. For me, that meant writing a story, submitting it, and then waiting, praying and hoping for a contract. I dreamed of snagging a contract for a series that I hadn't written know that the story I was laboring over would have a home when I finished. But, in order for that to happen, I needed to force myself to learn how to plot, so that I could submit a proposal based on a synopsis or summary for three stories that hadn't been written yet.

In the early stages of my writing career, I'd tried plotting. Oy! My neighbors could probably hear my ranting and thrashing about my office, banging my head against my desk and threatening to toss my laptop out the window. never gets easier, does it? 

But that fall, this confirmed pantser finally determined to become a plotter. You can read my tips on how I made the transition here and how I organized myself here. Trust me when I say there was plenty of weeping and pulling hair involved, especially when I plunged into simultaneously plotting out five books, two independents and three for a series. 

I'm nearing the end of my timeline, and I'm thrilled to report that this week I completed my fifth plotted book in just a short~ or long, depending on how you look at it~ eighteen months. 

Change is never easy...but it's possible. I like routine, and change hurls me out of my comfort zone, leaving me unsettled and anxious. But with a little faith and a good bit of persistence, I'm always amazed at the outcome.

“If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.” ― Anthony Robbins

Do you embrace change or despise it? 
What's the most difficult change you've experienced lately?

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

The pain, the sorrow, the ache of empty arms and shattered dreams.

Luke was twenty-two. Mark was just seventeen. Matthew was in his thirties when he strung a noose around his neck.

All suicide victims, and all men who had crossed my path. The names have been changed to protect the privacy of their families.

Matthew lived across the street from us for ten years. Newly divorced, he hung himself, leaving behind two precious children, both under the age of ten. Mark was a member of our church.

But Luke…Luke was one of my son’s childhood friends, and although they hadn't connected since middle school, he was my son's age, and finishing his senior year of college.

Close friends admitted to being shocked and insisted they hadn’t seen this coming. He’d never shown signs of depression. He was well-liked, made good grades, and his whole glorious life stretched in front of him.

As a youngster, Luke’s parents poured their lives into their boys. I know because I was with them three nights a week for football practice and Saturday games, served alongside his mom in PTAs, saw them out and about town for various school and athletic events.

The pain, the sorrow, the ache of empty arms and shattered dreams.

What would make a father string a rope around his neck and kick a chair out from under him? What would make a teenager stick a gun in his mouth and press the trigger?

After more than a half a century of living, I can vouch that time, while it may not necessarily heal, lessens the pain. As a third-degree burn survivor, yes, the searing pain eventually subsides. And, yes, those intense wounds of betrayal took years to conquer and divorce is a long, lonely road, but now I’m married to my true soulmate.

Why am I sharing this?

To whisper in your ear that …. You’re not alone. The God who created the universe loves you with a forever love, something wide and deep and transcends time and understanding. He’s placed families in your life who love you, people in your path who care about you, and they will walk this road with you. Let them in. Let them help.

Maybe you’re standing on a precipice, one foot dangling in the air, life or death just a step away…and you take that step. What if there is a flash, a single moment of clarity, where you regret your decision? Where you wish your life back?

What if you could catch glimpses of your future? Perhaps you’d see your son or daughter all grown up, holding your grandbaby in their arms? Or you’re huddling over a beautiful wife who is gazing up at you with wonder and love in her eyes as she cradles a newborn to her chest. What if you could see yourself in a new job, enjoying it so much more than the one you lost? What if you could feel the sorrow in the loved ones you’ll leave behind...their lives tattered and torn, a huge gaping hole that only you could fill. Wondering what they could have done, what they could have said, what they could have been…

The pain, the sorrow, the ache of empty arms and shattered dreams.

God has the power to weave a beautiful tapestry out of fragile strands of pain and suffering and sorrow. God can take those dark places, those huge, gaping holes and fill them with hope. He can take the pain and suffering, meld them into something beautiful called joy.

I’ll remember the cute little boy with honey colored curls. The giant of a man, strong and powerful, who adored his kids. The tall, gangly teenager, not quite boy, not quite man, surrounded by a loving family.

But the families left behind…what will they remember?

The pain, the sorrow, the ache of empty arms and shattered dreams.

I pray that these three souls finally found the precious peace they sought and for the God of all creation to wrap His arms of comfort around the loved ones they left behind.

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. ~Psalm 30:5 NLT

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