Release Day – The Secret Life of a Debut Author

OOPS!!! I cannot believe I MISSED MY OWN RELEASE DAY!! *Insert Face Palm* In case you missed it,  Counterfeit Love is officially out in the world. As I’m putting with every post related to Counterfeit Love, the information to join the month-long giveaway is down at the bottom. If you haven’t entered yet, I encourage you to do so soon.

Here are the Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Book Depository | | IndieboundChristianbook

Here are the direct links to leave a review: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Bookbub | Books-A-Million |  Christianbook | Goodreads

What’s it like to be a debut author?

This is a question I’ve been getting a lot, and so I thought I’d give as best an answer as I can. Being a debut author is akin to being the navigator on a cross-country road trip but forgetting the map. You’ve done all the planning and preparation. You have a good idea of where you’re going, the general route to get there, but when it comes down to the specifics you’re completely lost without the map and having a slight panic attack. I know that doesn’t quite work as an illustration in today’s GPS world, but I grew up being the navigator for my family’s cross-country trips back when all you had were the Rand McNally and AAA Trip maps.

Writing and editing the first book was the easy part, however, as I entered this season of debut release the entire world changed. With a three-book contract, I’ve managed to have my hands in all three books at once. I’ve been working on marketing and getting the word out about book one. I’ve filled out countless interview questions, scheduled both social media and blog posts, recorded podcast interviews, created images, figured out giveaways, ran a launch team, tried to figure out the ins and outs of social media (pro-tip: you won’t so don’t stress), and spent most of yesterday and today trying to comment on every single post I see related to Counterfeit Love or myself. During this season, I’ve also completed developmental (big picture) edits for book 2, Counterfeit Hope, and am trying to get nearly 2000 words a day done on book 3. This week, I’m miserably failing on the latter.

This isn’t said for pity, or anything, just giving an honest glimpse of what life looks like. Practically, it looks like laundry piling up, dinners being ordered in or made by others, and my kids seeing me during the time frames I take them to school, pick them up, and run errands, but that’s pretty much it. It means trying to be present with my family on the weekends when I *try* not to work, but struggling with the mental weight of knowing I’m falling behind.

However, despite all the challenges, this has been an amazing blessing. God is reteaching me my dependency must be on Him alone and that my worth comes in who He says I am, not in what I do or what reviews say. I’ve read three great reviews of Counterfeit Love but realized my heart is not ready for the impact they can have. So I’m going to wait until after I have book three written.

Before I sign off, some of you have wanted to know how I’m going to celebrate. Despite wanting to find a non-food-related activity, I have eaten half of a strawberry-rhubarb pie (soon-to-be a whole), bought myself carnations (my favorite flower), and I plan on hopefully going out to see a movie with my family sometime over the next couple of weekends. 🙂 Well, I’m hosting a party in the Blue Ridge Readers Connection group on Facebook, so I better get back to that. Then book three is calling for words in between posts and comments.

The life of a debut author is tiring, but it is a gift from God that I wouldn’t change. Thank you for all the support, messages, and well-wishes. I’ve tried to respond to every single one I receive, so if you didn’t get a response, know it’s just because either Facebook didn’t notify me or I just haven’t seen it yet. Thank you, and God bless! Crystal

Enter the Rafflecopter below to be entered to win one of three prizes: (Grand prize) – A signed copy of Counterfeit Love with a book sleeve made by my Momma, a toe bag with story-related prizes inside, (2nd prize) – A signed copy of Counterfeit Love with a book sleeve made by my Momma, socks, and a bookmark, (3rd prize) A signed copy of Counterfeit Love with a book sleeve made by my Momma and a bookish zipper bag. Entries run from March 1st to March 31st, 11:59pm EST. *Open to those legally able to enter, U.S. residents only for the physical prizes, international winners will be given a prize of equal value to whichever level they win.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2021 Reading Challenge Grand-Prize Winner & Wrap Up Announcement

2021 came with the first-ever Unlocking the Past Reading Challenge with a theme of American History. We traveled from the Colonial Era all the way through Contemporary times.

Here are some fun facts from the 2021 Reading Challenge:

  • The group collectively read 177 books.
  • We had 27 unique readers.
  • 3 readers made it ALL 12 months! (Message me for a special badge.)
    • Betsy T
    • Colleen H
    • Courtney G
  • 2 made it 11 of the twelve and earn honorable mentions!
    • Alisa W.
    • Deb H.
  • February and March had the most participants with 20 each.
  • August, September, and October had the fewest participants with 9 each.


I read and reviewed twelve books which are all part of the 2021 Grand Prize giveaway. The winner will be receiving a print copy of each of the below books:

Now for what everyone is REALLY waiting for!



Please comment and tell her congratulations!!! Then be sure to jump in and join the 2022 Unlocking the Past Challenge: Around the World. You can find suggestions for the first month’s country, Africa, HERE.

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Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age

Editing Projects
33% Complete
1 of 3 words
Rough Draft

Free Books

Free Books

Just dropping in for a quick moment to let you know about a Bookfunnel Promotion I’m participating in. If you are looking for some new-to-you authors to possibly try out, this promotion allows you to browse through some titles and descriptions and sign up to receive a free copy of short stories, novellas, and novels. I only know one author on the list to recommend, Danielle Grandinetti, so I can’t speak to the rest. This is your chance to try out some new authors for free. If you’d like to stay connected with them, you can stay on their newsletter lists. If not, you can unsubscribe at any time. My short story, Banking on Love, is on the list. Visit and take a look around. Information about Banking on Love November 1884 When Eunice Reed discovers her younger brother has been arrested for public intoxication, she travels from Cincinnati to Chicago to save him from himself. But public intoxication is the least of their problems. Irvin is tangled up with a dangerous bank robber. With a little help from her fiance, will the love and ingenuity of a sister be enough to save Irvin from making the biggest mistake of his life?
2022 Reading Challenge Announcment

2022 Reading Challenge Announcment

Hi guys! Apparently, I am unintentionally taking the month off or writing book reviews, but there are some other great announcements to make like . . .

After having such a great year of reading books with other historical fiction fans, I’ve decided to do it again with a different theme: Around the World.

Exciting Changes:

A New Partner

This year I am partnering with the AMAZING book reviewer, Phyllis from @AmongTheReads. Together we are going to share reviews of books that take you around the world. Phyllis is an avid reader and has hundreds of book reviews on her website in an easy-to-find way. I highly suggest you pop over to her website to check her out and find your next great read. 



Due to the high cost of the 2021 Reading Challenge, I’ve changed up how I’ll do 2022 prizes in order to make it where this can be a long-term thing. Instead of receiving a copy of the reviewed book, winners will get a chance to pick from my stack of new and gently used Christian Fiction books which will have new additions every month. I’ll keep a list of those choices on the Unlocking the Past Webpage beginning in January after the first challenge is over. At the beginning of January 2023, those who have participated in any of the monthly challenges will get entered to win a Grand Prize Reader Basket. The prizes may change, but at the moment, the prize will include a copy of Counterfeit Love by Crystal Caudill (me), Everyday Love by Katie Orr (A Focused15 Study), a book recommended by me, reader socks, tea, and a bookmark.

Participation Requirements

Books no longer HAVE to be historical, but I will push them as a preference. With the Around the World theme, some areas are just going to be really hard to find with a historical focus, plus I’m hoping this will allow more readers to be involved.

In order to be entered to win books each month and the grand prize at the end of the month, you will still be required to comment on what you read on that month’s Reading Challenge Review post from the last day of the month. I will still use Rafflecopter to randomly select the winner. Extra entries can only be earned for that month and are only available through the Rafflecopter link. HOWEVER, if someone comments that they joined the reading challenge because of your invite, I will add three extra entries for the end of the year prize manually for each person who mentions you.

Comments for the monthly drawing must be made by midnight EST of the 8th of the month. Any comments made after that point will still get you an entry to the end of the year drawing, but will not go toward the monthly drawing.

Suggested Reading Posts

I will once again be adding monthly suggested reading posts on the first of each month. My suggestions will be a mix of historical and contemporary, with a heavier focus on historical when possible. These suggestions will not necessarily be ones that I have personally read but have been found on Among the Reads, the Inspirational Historical Fiction Index, and my connections in the author world.


The giveaway portion is open to all eligible members of society according to their country’s and state’s laws and it is up to you know whether you are legally able to enter. Print copies are only eligible to winners eligible for media mail in the 50 states of the USA. Any winner outside of the United States (or readers within the USA who prefer an e-book) will get to choose a Christian Fiction e-book that is on sale for $5 or under on Amazon. If the winner of the grand prize is outside of the United States, they will receive an e-copy of Counterfeit Love, three additional e-books, and a snail mail letter with bookmarks. This giveaway is not associated with anyone but me, Crystal Caudill, and all winners will be randomly drawn by a third-party app like Rafflecopter (monthly) or (end of the year).

Unlocking the Past 2022 Reading Challenge: Around the World

Monthly Themes

January – Africa

February – Asia

March – Caribbean

April – Eastern Europe

May – Europe

June – Mediterranean

July – Middle East

August – N. America

September – Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, all the little islands around there – Samoa, Guam, Marshall Islands, Fiji, etc)

October – S. America

November – Bucket List Country

December – Christmas in Any Country

So here’s the question: Are YOU going to participate this year? And is there anyone you can share this reading challenge with? The more the merrier. What books do you recommend for the first month: Africa?

Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep

Lost in Darkness by Michelle Griep

Lost in Darkness

by Michelle Griep

If I were to describe this book in one word, it would be intense. Marvelously so. Michelle Griep has taken her writing to new levels in this gothic romance that leaves characters battling the monsters within . . . and without. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein had nothing on this story where the famed author makes several appearances. The story of Amelia Balfour, Graham Lambart, Colin Balfour, and Dr. Peckwood is sure to have your angst ratcheting tight all the way to the spell-binding ending, that while holding to magnificent gothic tradition, leaves the reader with hope for the future.

This was the most intense book from Michelle Griep that I have ever read, and to be honest, I was glad that I was listening to it as an audiobook and was forced to do thirty or fewer minute increments. The tension was so deep, so constant that my heart couldn’t take it all at once. I’m looking forward to reading it again soon, this time in one fell swoop. This is an unforgettable tale that will sweep readers away to a different time to face monsters that they might even see reflected in themselves.

I recommend this book for fans of Gothic romances, Frankenstein, obscure history, and deep truths discovered during trying circumstances.

*While I’ve purchased an additional copy myself, a copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher and the review above is my honest opinion of the book and was not influenced in any way.*

Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Era, England

Plot Overview:

Even if there be monsters, there is none so fierce as that which resides in man’s own heart.

Amelia Balfour has one dream . . . to tour Egypt as a travel writer. But when her wish is finally within reach, her father dies, and her malformed brother, Colin, depends on her to arrange for a revolutionary surgery. Amelia returns home, hoping he’ll recover before the ship sails for Cairo.

Former Navy surgeon Graham Lambert is sick–of traveling, loneliness, and especially the injustice of the world. Leaving behind the military, he partners with a renowned surgeon, the man who promises new life to Amelia’s brother.

But just as the operation begins, Graham suspects the surgeon is a fraud. After a botched procedure, Colin goes mad and escapes, terrorizing their neighbor, author Mary Godwin–planting the seed for her greatest creation, Frankenstein.

Can Amelia and Graham stop Colin before he destroys everyone in his path and find the tender soul still trapped inside . . . or will they be too late?

What I loved: The storyline that so well reflected Frankenstein while bringing spiritual depth that it will long live in my mind.

Favorite Character and Why:  There was such a fantastic cast of characters that it is so hard to tell. Aside from Amelia and Graham, I loved Nemo and Mrs. Bap. Nemo was an adorable child, and Mrs. Bap’s wisdom and positive outlook were the perfect addition to the story.

Who would like this? I recommend this book for fans of Gothic romances, Frankenstein, obscure history, and deep truths discovered during trying circumstances.

Rating and Why: Five stars. This story was amazingly written, intense, and impactful. It will live in my mind for a long time to come, and I will be rereading it when I have some free time in my reading schedule.


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The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews

The Lost Letter by Mimi Matthews

The Lost Letter

by Mimi Matthews

I’d heard A LOT about Mimi Matthews books from many of my writer friends, and when I saw a freebie go up, I decided to give her a try. I will say, I didn’t realize that she wasn’t specifically Christian Fiction, and she was pretty heavy on the “steamy” side of romance while still keeping a closed-door and never having anything occur between unmarried couples. While I’d still classify it as clean romance, it might be a little spicier than some are used to or willing to read. I had no problems with it, but felt I should warn others since it took me so off guard when I first read it. Also, there is some cussing.

This Regency romance had a bit of a Beauty and the Beast feel to it with the hero being a wounded war veteran turned recluse and she seeing past all of that. I enjoyed the conniving little sister who worked hard to get Sylvia to visit her brother and rescue him from the dangerous hold of depression. The miscommunication of the past between Sylvia and Sebastian took only a conversation to solve, but the wounds of the past made it believably difficult to accomplish. I really enjoyed how Miss Matthews brought everything into its right and happy conclusion.

I recommend this book for fans of Regency-era novels that are clean but contain scenes that aren’t as chaste as holding hands or pecks on the cheek. Fans of beauty and the beast type stories, second chance love, epistolary romances, and characters with strong internal struggles.

Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance

Plot Overview:

A Proud Beauty

When the tragic death of her gamester father leaves her destitute and alone, society beauty Sylvia Stafford finds work as a governess in a merchant’s household in Cheapside. Isolated from the fashionable acquaintance of her youth, she resigns herself to lonely spinsterhood…until a mysterious visitor convinces her to temporarily return to her former life–and her former love.

A Scarred Beast

Colonel Sebastian Conrad is no longer the dashing cavalry officer Sylvia once fell in love with. Badly scarred during the Sepoy Rebellion, he has withdrawn to his estate in rural Hertfordshire where he lives in near complete seclusion. Brooding and tormented, he cares nothing for the earldom he has inherited–and even less for the faithless beauty who rejected him three years before.

A Second Chance

A week together in the remote Victorian countryside is the last thing either of them ever wanted. But when fate intervenes to reunite them, will a beastly earl and an impoverished beauty finally find their happily-ever-after? Or are some fairy-tale endings simply not meant to be?

What I loved: How well the wounds were played out in each character’s individual story, and how they really drove character action.

Favorite Character and Why: I love how the sister did what she had to in order to get Sylvia to go to her brother and then convinced her to stay when things did not go as expected.

Who would like this? I recommend this book for fans of Regency-era novels that are clean, but contain scenes that aren’t as chaste as holding hands or pecks on the cheek. Fans of beauty and the beast type stories, second chance love, epistolary romances, and characters with strong internal struggles.

Rating and Why: Five stars. The writing was everything I was told to expect (except a little steamier) and very well done.


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