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A Worthy Heart is the second in the historical fiction series, Courage to Dream by Susan Anne Mason.51kdxzdubel-_sx322_bo1204203200_

Quick story review: One reason Maggie Montgomery leaves Ireland for the United States is to avoid her former fiancé. She and her brother, Gabe, arrive in New York to stay with their brother and his wife, who run an orphanage.

During their stay, Maggie and Gabe each meet someone who affects their lives and their hearts. Meanwhile, Maggie’s nemesis turns up in New York, with progressively threatening plans that affect not only her, but also those dear to her.

Although Gabe’s love interest returns his affections, her family does not approve. There is much of social standing in this novel.

A Worthy Heart is primarily a double romance between these two couples, but it includes the backdrop of unrest, epidemic and rumblings of war in Europe. It is also a story of faith, forgiveness and the truth that social status does not affect God’s love for his people.

I think the characters are well developed, and fairly well managed. This cannot have been a simple task because of the number of family members and minor characters involved. The plot is interesting and not without unexpected conflicts to keep it moving. I did find the two romantic sub-plots fairly similar in development, but still interesting. And the book has a lovely cover.

The first book in this series, Irish Meadows, featured another member of the O’Leary family, who is briefly present in this second book as a secondary character. I’m sure the intertwining of families will keep this series attractive to readers.

Writing involves not only good technique but also personal investment. It involves practice and learning.

An acquaintance said recently that practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. In other words, if we continue to repeat our mistakes, we are not getting any closer to perfection.

Michael J. Fox said he doesn’t aim for perfection but for excellence.

Sometimes it’s a matter of semantics. The key is to do our best at whatever we are doing, and that will always require effort, practice, and time.

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Here are seven key points that will, in my opinion, help us to grow our writing:

1. Keep writing regularly. This is the practice part, the refining, the trial and error.

2. Keep reading. This is the activity that helps us get the feel of good writing (and poor writing).

3. Keep learning. Attend workshops and conferences, take courses online or through books, videos, etc.

4. Polish your writing. Strive for excellence. Don’t ever say, “Good enough.” Be the best you can be.

5. Publish. This step helps us commit to finishing a project, whether it’s a blog, a guest post or a novel.

6. Market. Oh, bother! This is my greatest challenge in the writing arena. But what do we have to lose? If we want people to read our writing, we must make it and ourselves available. Try writing in a new genre or point of view. Try writing at a different time of day or a location more conducive for you. IMG_1116Subscribe to a new social medium that you’ve so far avoided. Can’t hurt. Then analyze the advantages and disadvantages and refine your lists to what works for you. Most new things become manageable with practice and familiarity. Some remain useless and can be scrapped. But give them a chance. Note: if you don’t have a website, create one. You can do it yourself or ask someone else to do it for you. Without a website, you won’t be searchable.

7. Share. One of the best ways to learn is to share what you know or what you’re learning. Again, use blogs, guest blogs or various social media to accomplish this. It will invariably help strengthen your knowledge and understanding of the topic, method or genre (or show you where you need to bone up a bit).

So let’s keep writing and encouraging each other to strive for excellence.

This post originally appeared on the InScribe Professional Blog in May of 2016.

August 2017 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Action/Adventure:

Imperfect Lies by Elizabeth Noyes — When another woman emerges from the past to claim Mallory Cameron’s happily ever after, she cuts her losses and sets out to find a headline-worthy story to launch her journalism career. She embarks on a whirlwind journey that takes her across the United States, to the blue-green waters of the Caribbean, on to sunny Mexico, and deep into the dangerous parts of Africa where terror reigns. James Evers turned his back on a life of power and privilege to carve a place in the world for himself. Now that he’s finally discovered his niche as a small-town sheriff and found the woman he wants in his future, a past indiscretion struts in on high heels and sends his newfound love fleeing headlong into peril. His mission: neutralize old enemies, defuse new threats, resolve past mistakes, settle family disputes, and—most importantly—find and rescue his woman from terrorists before the unthinkable happens. (Action/Adventure from Write Integrity Press)

Contemporary Romance:

The Bachelor’s Unexpected Family by Lisa Carter — Young widow Kristina Montgomery moves to Kiptohanock, Virginia, hoping it will give her and her teenage son, Gray, a fresh start. She longs for the peace and quiet only a small town can provide. But her plans are thwarted by her new neighbor, Canyon Collier, a former Coast Guard pilot and a crop duster. Gray is instantly drawn to the pilot and his teenage niece, Jade—and Kristina’s not far behind. She and Canyon are soon bonding over parenting their charges and their spark becomes undeniable. Could it be that the spirited pilot is just what Kristina needs to teach her heart to soar again? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Gift of the Magpie by Zoe M. McCarthy — Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia, has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, Amanda’s heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high-school Valentine’s Day date. Camden may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Mother for Leah by Rachel L. Miller –It’s been ten years since Leah Fisher’s mother died in a buggy accident. But when Leah’s father shows interest in Naomi Yoder, Leah isn’t ready for a new mother. Will Leah be able to let go of her own ideas and realize that God truly does know best for her or will she allow love to slip through her fingers, destroying Samuel Fisher and Naomi Yoder’s happiness at the same time? (Contemporary from S & G Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Freedom’s Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli — An antique ring reunites a Boston Marathon bombing survivor with the man who saved her. Together they unearth the two-hundred-year- old history of a woman who suffered tremendous loss in the Boston Massacre, a woman torn between the love of two men – one a patriot, one a Redcoat. (General Contemporary from Tyndale House)

Fresh Faith by Elise Phillips — Joy Abbott had been trying to start her life over for years — and failing. Then a letter summoned her to Texas and everything changed. (General Contemporary from Desert Breeze Publishing)

Historical:

Enchanted Isle by Melanie Dobson — In the spring of 1958, Jenny Winter embarks on a two-month adventure to a quaint village in England’s magical Lake District. With a new camera and an eye for capturing the beauty others miss, she can’t wait to explore the heathery fells and mystical waters. Adrian Kemp, a handsome and enigmatic local, makes the sightseeing even more beguiling. When Adrian shows Jenny his late father’s abandoned dream, a deserted island amusement park, she glimpses a kindred spirit in this reckless, haunted young man. Yet as she opens her heart to Adrian, the two stumble into a mystery leading back a generation to an unforgettable romance and an unsolved murder. As long-held secrets come to light, it’s left to Jenny and Adrian to put the past to rest and restore a lost dream. (Historical from Waterfall Press)

Titus: The Aristocrat by Katheryn Maddox Haddad — Titus intends to become a famous lawyer in the Roman Empire. Instead, he is sent by Paul to arbitrate between arch enemies in wild Corinth, wilder Crete, and wildest Dalmatia. In each place he suffers. But, long before that, he suffers from guilt over the death of his mother when he was eleven years old. How does Titus survive it all? (Historical from Northern Lights Publishing House)

Historical Romance:

 

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander — With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society’s expectations must work together to achieve their dreams – provided the truth doesn’t tear them apart first. (Historical Romance from Zondervan)


The Second Chance Brides Collection by Lauralee Bliss, Angela Breidenbach, Ramona K. Cecil, Pamela Griffin, Grace Hitchcock, Pam Hillman, Laura V. Hilton, Tiffany Amber Stockton, and Liz Tolsma — Meet nine women who each believe their chance for lifelong love has passed them by. From the girls who lost their beaus to war, to the wallflowers overshadowed by others, and the widows deeply hurt by their loss, the desire to love and be loved spans American history from 1777 to 1944. Experience the sweet pull of romance on each life and the blossom of faith that leads them to brighter futures. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Promise of Breeze Hill by Pam Hillman — Anxious for his brothers to join him on the rugged frontier along the Mississippi River, Connor O’Shea has no choice but to indenture himself as a carpenter in exchange for their passage from Ireland. But when he’s sold to Isabella Bartholomew of Breeze Hill Plantation, Connor fears he’ll repeat past mistakes and vows not to be tempted by the lovely lady. The responsibilities of running Breeze Hill have fallen on Isabella’s shoulders after her brother was found dead in the swamps along the Natchez Trace and a suspicious fire devastated their crops, almost destroyed their home, and left her father seriously injured. Even with Connor’s help, Isabella fears she’ll lose her family’s plantation. Despite her growing feelings for the handsome Irish carpenter, she seriously considers accepting her wealthy and influential neighbor’s proposal of marriage. Soon, though, Connor realizes someone is out to eliminate the Bartholomew family. Can he set aside his own feelings to keep Isabella safe? (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)

Romantic Suspense:

Chasing Secrets by Lynette Eason — When a photo leads investigators in West Ireland to open a twenty-five-year-old cold case, Elite Guardians bodyguard Haley Callaghan’s life is suddenly in danger. Haley knows how to take care of herself; after all, she’s made a career out of taking care of others. But after she has an uncomfortably close call, Detective Steven Rothwell takes it upon himself to stay with her–and the young client she has taken under her wing. A protector at heart, he’s not about to let Haley fight this battle alone. In a sweeping plot that takes them into long-buried memories–and the depths of the heart–Haley and Steven will have to solve the mystery of Haley’s past while dodging bullets, bombs, and bad guys who just won’t quit. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker])

Plain Retribution by Dana R. Lynn — Ten years ago while on rumspringa, Rebecca Miller and her friends were kidnapped and held captive…and now, living in the English world, she’s nearly abducted again. One by one her friends who once helped send their abductor to jail are targeted, and she is next…unless police officer Miles Olsen can stop a killer. Deaf since birth, the only person on the force that Rebecca can communicate with is Miles, and he needs this case to redeem himself of past mistakes. When the relentless killer tracks them deep into the heart of Amish country, protecting Rebecca must be Miles’s sole focus. Because a mistake this time will cost something worth more to him than his job—the woman he’s falling for. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cold Blooded by Anne Patrick — Detective Gwen Jamison has the highest closure rate in her division, but a string of armed robberies is about to take over her life. Not only will her job be on the line, but the troubling case also wreaks havoc on her personal life. Lieutenant Ian McKean knew he would have his hands full when he took over leadership of the detectives unit. He wasn’t prepared for the headstrong Detective Jamison, though, who quickly becomes a thorn in his side. If they can stop butting heads long enough they might realize they are more alike than either imagined. (Romantic Suspense from Anne Patrick)

Expectations

This morning as I walked down our country road—my favorite thinking and praying time­­—I thought about expectations. So often, our lives become dull or difficult because we haven’t taken the time to consider our expectations.

When we are honest with ourselves about what we expect of a situation, we are halfway to accepting it and dealing with it. But if we deny the possible/probable realities, life can become burdensome.

The key is that the Lord keeps giving us grace as we ask for it and are willing to accept it. Not in truckloads, but in teaspoonsful. Grace isn’t something we can stockpile. I think the reason is that God wants us to be dependent on Him. Every day. Every hour. While we can do nothing of ourselves, we can do everything God asks us to as we depend on Him.

What do we expect from life? From our writing? From God? If we truly wish to please God, we need to suit our expectations to God’s will and listen for the Spirit’s guidance. We need to be flexible (a difficult concept for me to put into practice).

I want to live in honest expectation of what God has for me each day, whether it’s in my writing or my family life, because that’s when life goes from humdrum to exciting.

Today, Heather Day Gilbert is my interviewee. Welcome, Heather.

JANICE: Heather, who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

HEATHER: My parents played a huge role, from encouraging my reading at an early age to embracing my poetry writing as a young girl/teen. They always celebrated my writing successes, as did my grandparents. Then I married my husband, and while he understood I wasn’t ready to take on writing as a career when my three children were young (at one point they were age three and under, all in diapers!), he totally supported me when I blocked off a month to write my first book for NaNoWriMo, then when I decided to pursue the author dream. Having a strong support system is so critical to writing. Nowadays, post-publication, I’m also bolstered by my readers and my critique partner. I am truly blessed!

JANICE: What do you consider to be some of the best methods of promoting your work?

HEATHER: To date, I’ve tried nearly every promo method available (Facebook and Goodreads ads, giveaways, giving books to reviewers, you name it). By far, the most effective way to move large quantities of books has been:

1) going permafree (permanently free) with my first mystery across vendor platforms

2) paying for Bookbub ads. Going permafree, coupled with a Bookbub ad, doubled my monthly income.

JANICE: What are your favorite / most effective social media?

HEATHER: I just started up on Instagram, and that is quite a fun and easy platform. I’m also fond of Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, and each one really has its own uses and reaches a slightly different audience. I remember having so many people repinning my Viking pins before I published my first Viking historical—that’s how I knew there was a reader audience hungry for that niche.

JANICE: We know that writers need to read, so what are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

HEATHER: I’m reading The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambron and I’m really enjoying the historical element of the story. As you know, my Viking novels are also based on real people, so I appreciate the amount of research that goes into these things! And I have kind of reverted to enjoying print books, but by far, I read more books on my Kindle—I use my library’s Overdrive system (no overdue fines! YAY!), and I do a lot of early-reading for my author friends.

JANICE: Tell us a little about yourself. What are some of your favorite things? What makes you unique?

HEATHER: I found out pretty fast that I was kind of unique because I still enjoy playing video games. Of course, now my son can beat me at any game I play, but I love it as a way of blowing off steam and just unplugging from my thoughts and worries! I also love flower gardening, but haven’t been able to do it as much this year due to some significant family changes.

JANICE: Do have any advice for beginning writers?

HEATHER: My best advice would be to be your own biggest fan. I know that sounds lame, but if you want to get your book published (either with a publisher or indie publishing), you have to believe in your book more than anyone else. More than an agent, more than your early readers…enough to know this book is worth getting out there. If you believe that, you will be willing to invest in and sacrifice for that book. And trust me, it’ll be an investment—of time, of edits, of marketing efforts, and the list goes on. You have to be utterly committed to the idea that this book is worth getting out into the world. And then you don’t stop until it is.

JANICE: Thanks, Heather, for taking time with us today. Blessings as you continue in your writing career.

heather-day-gilbert

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational storytelling runs in her blood. You can find Heather’s Viking historicals and West Virginia mystery/suspense novels here. Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.”

You can find Heather online here:

Website: http://heatherdaygilbert.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/heatherdaygilbert

Twitter: @heatherdgilbert

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/heatherdgilbert/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7232683.Heather_Day_Gilbert

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/heatherdaygilbert/

E-Mail: heatherdaygilbert@gmail.com

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A Mystery Remains Unsolved for Seventy Years

51ldxpniytlA rundown estate, a child missing for seventy years, and a detective who refuses to give up. All these add up to another excellent demonstration of Kate Morton’s power to captivate, mystify, surprise and superbly entertain her readers.

The Lake House takes place in England in two distinct eras: the early 1930s (with earlier flashbacks), and 2003.

The first chapter opens in Cornwall, England in 1933, with a wealthy family that lives in a mansion beside a lake. While there, the mother, Eleanor, gives birth to three daughters and a son. All is bliss until one fateful day when the eighteen-month-old son disappears. The family leaves the house, unable to live there any longer.

We see much of this storyline through the eyes of the third daughter, Alice Edevane.

Next, we are introduced to Sadie Sparrow, a young detective with the London police force. She has come into some trouble at work for insubordination, specifically, not wanting to let an unsolved case go cold. Her boss suggests a vacation to distance herself from work and worries and to pull her life together.

Sadie goes to Cornwall to stay with her beloved grandfather, Bertie, and stumbles across the ruins of a neglected mansion beside a lake. Gradually, the story of the Edevanes emerges, and Sadie is hit by yet another cold case that she cannot release.

With many switches of scene and time period, author Kate Morton weaves a tapestry with many background knots and misplaced stitches. D.C. Sparrow continues to gather information about both cases, while retaining a low profile so she won’t lose her job. She eventually locates Alice Edevane, who has become a famous mystery author, and together, they untangle the secrets of the past. 

After much tension and stress, the story wraps up with a well-crafted and satisfying conclusion to the mysterious adventure. As with Mortons’ books other books, The Lake House is a uniquely structured and fascinating read.

This is the fifth Kate Morton book I have read, and I love them all. I recommend these stories, especially The Lake House, to anyone who adores well-crafted mystery, deeply developed characters, and settings that sing. Read and enjoy.

“Dru controlled most of her waking hours, but she wouldn’t control Ella’s thoughts. You haven’t been the same size as your mother since you were ten.”         Ella

 

Alberta (Canada) inspirational novelist, Lisa J. Flickinger, just released a fun, summer novella based on the Cinderella story:

Ella Goodwin, abandoned by her father and abused by her stepsister, seeks to make sense of her new life as a prisoner in her own home. Squirreled away in the attic, she lets her imagination soar by designing and sewing a magnificent gown. However, all hopes of attending the masked ball are dashed when she’s discovered and her gown is stolen.

Thomas Bailey, withdrawn from active duty in the Foreign Service, struggles with a moral issue he must resolve if he wishes to keep his position. He arrives at his coworker’s home to deliver a parcel, a beautiful pair of red silk shoes, and unaware of any deception he agrees to escort the women of the house to the ball.

Chaos and confusion ensue as Thomas attempts to extricate himself from the clutches of an obnoxious stepsister. Will he unravel the mystery and learn the true identity of the beautiful woman who has captured his heart? Join author Lisa Flickinger as she takes you on a fairytale journey though time when life was simpler … or was it?

This fun and familiar novella reached #1 Christian Historical Fiction on Amazon.ca. Congrats, Lisa.

Lisa Flickinger

Lisa Flickinger, author of historical novels Fool’s Notion, and All That Glitters, lives and writes from the cliff of a river along the majestic Rocky Mountains. When not writing or reading, you will find her scouring antique shops to add to her collection of old ladders, brooms, linens … or sipping a maple latte with friends and family.

To purchase Ella, click on the cover above, or to visit Lisa, go to www.lisajflickinger.com

 

BONUS BOOK REVIEW by Janice L. Dick

Think Ever After with an underpinning of morality and faith, and the perfect spark of humor. Lisa J. Flickinger’s redo of the Cinderella story is entertaining and fresh.

Ella’s father is away on an extended military posting abroad, and his new wife has brought her two daughters, formerly unknown to her new husband, to live in the household. As the story goes, they mistreat Ella at every opportunity.

Ella has no way of contacting her father, until an officer shows up who has worked for him. But how can she contrive a way to convince him that she is the real daughter, and that her father’s estate is in jeopardy if left in the clutches of his new family? And what is this feeling that has arisen toward the man who has the power to step in and save her?

Oh, and the red slippers, brought along by Ella’s father’s emissary for his “only daughter.” Perfect. The mean stepsister claims them, then fabricates a long list of excuses and postponements to trying on the slippers, which are half the length of her foot. And in the end, whom do they fit? This is one of those stories that’s fun to read even though you know the ending. Or do you?

The truth is, the cover grabbed me first. It’s gorgeous, a more accurate rendering of a historical character than many I’ve seen on other historical fiction covers. Definitely a winner in my opinion.

I found the Ella novella to be engaging, and although it is based on a premise that good will win out, there is enough tension to keep me reading. I recommend this short book to all those who love fairy tales, especially those with a romantic bent.

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