51Y8gZvg0mL._SY346_This first book in the Serena Jones Mystery series begins with the words: “I should have listened to my mother.” The story ends with the same words, but don’t jump ahead.

Serena Jones, twenty-eight and single, has joined the FBI as an art crime detective. She loves the work, although it often puts her in danger. One of her quirks is that she’s terrified of elevators, which can be dicey when she’s escaping down multiple flights of stairs in high heels.

Serena has a curious relationship with her boss, Tanner Calhoun, who is about ten years her senior. She tries to follow his directives, but often her own ideas take precedence, resulting in frustration between them, coupled with a certain level of mutual attraction.

Nate Butler, the superintendent of Serena’s apartment building, is more her age and also very good looking. He can be depended upon to rescue her in times of trouble.

A Fool & His Monet carries a creative plot with a good supply of red herrings and possible suspects. The story it a fast-paced whodunit with many twists and turns and double-backs.

Author Sandra Orchard has produced a tightly written, clean and professional book that is superbly researched. It sparks with tension, a strong plotline, an intriguing romantic triangle, realistic characters, credible settings and good action.

The mood is light, fed by wacky humor that will be sure to tickle the reader. On page 13, Serena refers to the bullet-riddled desk as “newly aerated.” She tends to compare people to movie stars. She admits that no matter how quirky her family is, she craves their approval. And she lives among nosy neighbors.

The first chapter of Orchard’s next book appears at the end of this one, which is enticing because although the necessary storylines have been tied up for the first book, there are still some threads left to be resolved over the course of the series.

A Fool & His Monet has been endorsed by a list of excellent authors such as Susan May Warren, Lorena McCourtney, Patricia Bradley and Christy Barritt. It’s published by Revell, categorized as mystery fiction, Christian fiction, detective fiction.

I encourage you to come along for the ride. It’s a blast.

press-kit-headshotSandra Orchard is a multi-award-winning author of mysteries and romantic suspense  She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and writes full time…when not doting on her young grandchildren.  Learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features at www.SandraOrchard.comor connect at www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard

Sandra is represented by Steve Laube of the Steve Laube Agency.


I think the most challenging aspect of Independent Publishing is staying with it. Remaining faithful in the face of uncertainty, whether that refers to actual skills or wondering when the monetary rewards will kick in.

I have memories of my earlier publishing experiences with a small royalty press. Although I had a say in a few things (very few), I left the details to my publisher and continued writing the next novel.

However, all the expectations of my previous publishing experiences have been turned upside down with indie publishing. Not only do I have a say in crucial decisions, I am the final word. It’s an entirely new portfolio, one for which I was not prepared. Wet behind the ears. Green. Unreasonably optimistic.


But we don’t give up just because of challenges. There are many avenues to learning what we need to know to persevere in indie publishing.

We can google. We can search for books and blogs and articles that can help us in our journey. We can talk with people who are on the same journey, receiving encouragement from those ahead of us and giving encouragement to those a step or two behind.

The key is perseverance. That and faith in the One who gives gifts and the will to use them.

Verse for the day: II Corinthians 9:8 (NIV)

And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times,

having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”


I know. You already have stacks of books to read, either beside your bed or next to the couch or on your e-reader. But, as readers /writers, we know there is no such thing as too many books. So…



An international group I’m a member of—American Christian Fiction Writers—has set up a monthly list of new releases from their membership. I will be posting this information each month on my blog, as well as on some of my other social media sites. Please take a look, browse through the categorized list, and check out some of them.

Here’s the LINK.

Thanks for taking an look, and enjoy your reading.


One of the aspects of fiction that gives me the most grief (she says, tongue in cheek) is Conflict.

hands in conflict

I hate conflict. I’m a middle child. A peacemaker. When my brother and sister would fight, I’d cry. And here I am trying to make life as miserable as possible for my characters. Mind you, it’s all for a good cause. We need to see these characters face their demons, overcome (or not) and be better (or worse) people for it.

Conflict is a huge part of this life. No one is immune to it. There are conflicts of many kinds that assault us in our lives, and we can’t hide from them.

The connection between fiction and real life here is that if we view conflict as something that is allowed by God in order to make us better, we can see the bigger picture. If the Lord allows it in our lives, He will take us through it.

I’m currently reading Jeremiah. That poor man went through so much strife and suffering, and yet God told him, “I will rescue you.” Note that in order to be rescued, one needs to be in trouble. And in the end, God saved Jeremiah from death and deportation.

Can we trust that God has our best interests in mind? Sometimes our trials might be for the purpose of showing others God’s faithfulness to us through difficulty.

Let’s not let conflict get us down, but rather use it as a springboard to greater spiritual and emotional strength. I can’t get myself to say, “Bring it on!” but I can commit myself to the One who loves me more than any other and will never let me down.

What’s different about writing in summer as opposed to any other time of the year?

In my world, the difference lies in the host of other activities and jobs calling to me. Not only must I maintain my house and feed my family, but I have a small garden and a huge yard to manage. And a family reunion at our place. And visits from neighbors and friends. And one must take time for hot dogs and BBQs and ice cream cones. IMG_1196

Yesterday, for example (August 24), I planned to continue working the latest edits into my manuscript. But first, I wanted to pull the invasive weeds overwhelming my garden plot. It shouldn’t take more than an hour or so, I thought. Three hours later, I returned to the house, amazed at how much time had passed but glad to have the job done. I had so enjoyed the morning outside that I decided to cut the grass after lunch. It’s a 2.5-hour job, but since rain was predicted, I thought it prudent. The grass looks lovely today in the rain. IMG_0270

Today I’m back at the computer, but writing-life housekeeping chores take much of my morning. And this afternoon I need to attend my writing group meeting, since we are discussing my latest manuscript.


And that’s how summer goes. But there’s also Christmas, preparing for the family to come home en masse. And Easter, when they do the same…we are so blessed. There are many interruptions in life, but maybe I’m looking at it from a completely skewed perspective. Maybe life IS the interruptions. Maybe my writing is the commentary I fit in as often as I can. I call it my vocation, my career, my job. But it will always be a balancing act with what happens off the page.

Me with my mom and one of my daughters

Me with my mom and one of my daughters


For me, this book started out slowly. I continued reading anyway, and I’m glad I did, because it turned out to be well worth the time commitment.

The story in brief:

Police officer Michael Keane has returned from the dark, dead-end streets of Chicago to his hometown of Hidden Springs, Kentucky, where things are quiet and calm. That’s when the corpse shows up on the steps of the courthouse. So much for small-town sanctuary.

Through the progression of the story, we see Michael’s background, at least what he can remember since the dark night when his parents were killed in a car crash and he almost died as well. We meet his straight-laced but caring Aunt Lindy; his childhood girl friend, Alex; teenaged Anthony, whom Michael is trying to watch over against the boy’s wishes; and the rest of the unique residents of Hidden Springs.

Now that there’s been a murder, Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane must search out the murderer. He must observe people and figure out what makes them tick. Which of them could be capable of murder?


Even when I realized “whodunit,” there were still a couple of subplots to keep me turning pages to see how the author would bring all things to a finish.

Ann H. Gabhart

Ann H. Gabhart

Ann Gabhart has written many books in different genres, and this cozy mystery is certainly entertaining and inspiring.

I recently read a blogpost on the Novel Rocket site that tweaked my interest because it’s about indie publishing. It’s written by Michelle Griep, an amazing Christian author who, incidentally, has a great sense of humor. I’ve read a number of her books (Gallimore, A Heart Deceived, Brentwood’s Ward) and loved them. When I asked Michelle if I could repost her article here, she said, “You betcha.” So here is Michelle’s experience with independent publishing, so far…

You know those TV shows that feature some daredevil lighting his underwear on fire as he hops on a motorcycle and jumps over five semi-trucks and a baby, all while some scrolling type at the bottom of the screen warns you not to attempt this at home? Yeah. I feel like there should be some kind of warning to those considering self publishing because it’s really not as easy as it looks. Leastwise not if you want to put out a quality book.

So here is my attempt at enlightening those who think they’ll just slap up some type on Createspace and rake in a million bucks.

**pretend the following is scrolling across the screen . . . I’m not technologically savvy enough to do that and there’s no teenager around for me to collar**

  1. Covers are a pain in the patootie. Who knew there’d be so many decision to make? Color. Style. Artwork. Wording. Layout. Font. Sizing. Transparency. Bleed. And that’s just in the first consultation.
  1. No matter how many times you go through a manuscript, you can always find something else to change.
  1. A good editor is worth her weight in chai. I didn’t actually have the money up front to pay for a manuscript edit so I bartered for a lifetime supply of chai. So far it’s worked out pretty good. Of course, if she lives to be one hundred, I may be in trouble. Nah. I’ll be dead first. Hahahaha! Joke’s on her. . . wait a minute. Maybe not.
  1. If you put your book up for pre-order on Amazon, they give you a deadline set in stone to upload your final copy. If you’re late, oops! Your name is written on the Amazon naughty list and you don’t get to put up any more pre-orders for over a year.
  1. There’s way more that goes into producing a book than simply good writing, though that is a must. There’s book size, paper color, paper weight, ISBN nonsense, Library of Congress shtuff, a bajillion different kind of ebook conversions, yada, yada. Seriously, I had no idea.

It was an adventure putting out my self-pubbed book, Writer Off the Leash, but one that’s been a good education. Would I do it again? Probably. Will I leave the realm of traditional publishing behind? Nope. Each venue has their pros and cons.


WOTL Front Cover Final

WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.




Michelle Headshot 2 2015


Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of FacebookTwitter, or Pinterest.

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