The winner of the $25 Baker Bookhouse gift card from last week’s giveaway, is Amy (amy****9@****.com)! Congratulations! Please check your email!
Now it’s time for the monthly ACFW New Releases! Check out what’s new and add your favorites to your TBR pile!
January 2021 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website
A Future for His Twins by Susanne Dietze — Will these children get their greatest wish? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
For the Love of Joy by Janet W. Ferguson — When she’s suddenly injured with not a soul to help her or her son, Joy is forced to rely on the man who has the most reasons to hate her. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
An Unexpected Arrangement by Heidi McCahan — He needed a fresh start, but twin babies weren’t part of the plan… (Contemporary Romance, Love Inspired [Harlequin])
An Unlikely Proposal by Toni Shiloh — For these two best friends, marriage could be their greatest test yet. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
All Through the Night by Tara Johnson — When Joshua and Cadence unearth the workings of a secret society so vile, the course of their lives, and the war, could be altered forever. If they fight an enemy they cannot see, will the One who sees all show them the way in the darkest night? (Historical Romance from Tyndale House)
Books Afloat by Delores Topliff — Blaming herself for her childhood role in the Oklahoma farm truck accident that cost her grandfather’s life, Anne Mettles is determined to make her life count. Will she go it alone? Or will she team with the unlikely but (mostly) lovable characters? One is a saboteur, one an unlikely hero, and one, she discovers, is the man of her dreams. (Historical from Mantle Rock Publishing)
Night Bird Calling by Cathy Gohlke — With war brewing for the nation and for her newfound community, Lilliana must overcome a hard truth voiced by her young friend Celia: Wishing comes easy. Change don’t. (Historical from Tyndale House)
One for the Road by Mary Ellis — Staying at an estranged relative’s B&B, Jill’s plan to uncover what makes the state’s bourbon tours so popular goes awry when she discovers a body at one of the distilleries and quickly becomes a suspect in a brutal murder. Can she navigate high-stakes bourbon rivalries, centuries-old family feuds and ill-fated romance to catch a killer?
(Cozy Mystery from Severn House)
Romantic Suspense:Texas Witness Threat by Cate Nolan — What do you do when you know you witnessed a crime and no one believes you, but the killers are still coming for you? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Every Good Plan by Urcelia Teixeira — Good fortune was always his best friend. Until it became his enemy! Adam Cross is back in another gripping Christian Suspense that will have you strapped to your favorite reading chair until you turn the very last page! (Thriller/Suspense, Independently published)
Heart of the Crown by Hannah Currie — The last place Lady Wenderley Davis ever expected to find herself after swearing off princes forever was living in a palace with two of them. Even if it is only temporary. And she did agree to it. Kind of. Against her better judgement. (Young Adult from WhiteFire Publishing)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Penelope Pumpernickel: Precocious Problem-Solver by MaryAnn Diorio – In this first of the delightful Penelope Pumpernickel Series of chapters books for six-to-ten-year-old children, Penelope Pympernickel learns that no matter how big a problem you face, there is always a way to solve it with God’s help. (Children’s)
The Inn at Cranberry Cove by June Foster – Can two people allow the majestic northwest and fragrant coastal air heal their wounded hearts? Will they discover the secret of The Inn at Cranberry Cove? (Contemporary Romance)
The Rancher’s Family Secret by Myra Johnson – Despite their family feud, Spencer Navarro is determined to help his neighbor, Lindsey McClement, when she comes home to save her family ranch. And Lindsey returns the favor by allowing him to house his foster rescue horses in her empty barn stalls. But when the generations-long strife threatens their forbidden friendship, Spencer must choose between a new love and his family. (Contemporary Romance)
William’s Cry, An Enid Gilchrist Mystery by Sylvia Anne Nash – When genealogist Enid Gilchrist is asked to unravel the family mystery surrounding a seventy-year-old baby blanket, she is intrigued. She expects the project to be a short one that will in no wise interfere with her long-awaited marriage to Chief of Police Patrick Mulhaney. When her short project unravels more threads than expected, both project and wedding plans run amuck as someone makes every effort to stop her investigation. (Cozy Mystery)
A Holiday Heart by Denise Weimer – When Ashlyn arrives at White Falls Lodge armed with cosmetic bags and designer shoes, little is she prepared to be stranded by a snow storm, irritated by the handsome resort owner who seems determined to peel away her facade, and redirected by a God Ashlyn wants to forget, through Mamie Lou’s real gift … the secret story of her grandmother’s past. (Contemporary Romance)
2020 – A Year in Review
It is always good for me to review my year, and oops! It looks like I didn’t do many author interviews or giveaways this year. Is this something you would like to see more of? Let me know in the comments. Otherwise, check out the three categories below: Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and 2020 New Releases.
Happy New Year everyone!
Book Reviews – By Title (Omitting The and A)
It’s always exciting to see how many books I reviewed this year, though there are far more that I have read and just not written a review on, but I’m hoping to add those to my emergency stockpile for you to enjoy later. 😉 For now, you can revisit all the books I reviewed this year and see which ones you missed that interest you.
Banking on Love by Crystal Caudill (Info on Short Story for Newsletter Subscribers)
The Bounty Hunter’s Bargain by Lucette Nel
The Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen Hake
The Christmas Husband by Lucette Nel
Circle of Spies by Roseanna M. White
“Far as the Curse is Found” by Amanda Barratt
The Gentleman Spy by Erica Vetsch
A Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden
“Heaven and Nature Sing” by Carolyn Miller
The House at the End of the Moor by Michelle Griep
An Ivy Hill Christmas by Julie Klassen
Last Chance Wife by Janette Foreman
Letters for Phoebe by Sally Briton
The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch
Masquerade at Middlecrest Abbey by Abigail Wilson
No Ocean Too Wide by Carrie Turnasky
The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear
A Return of Devotion by Kristi Ann Hunter
The Spice King by Elizabeth Camden
Three Little Things by Patti Stockdale
Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green
Waltz in the Wilderness by Kathleen Denly
“Wonders of His Love” by Erica Vetsch
Author Interviews – By Author Last Name
2020 ACFW New Releases
With the closures of so many libraries and bookstores, it has become harder and harder to just browse new titles. Hopefully, this review of 2020 Releases will give you that opportunity to find new reads for 2021.
January 2020 New Releases
Feburary and March New Releases
April 2020 New Releases
May 2020 New Releases
June 2020 New Releases
July 2020 New Releases
August 2020 New Releases
September 2020 New Releases
October 2020 New Releases
November 2020 New Releases
Decemeber 2020 New Releases
It’s hard to believe, but last month I turned in my first manuscript to my publisher for editing. As always, God’s timing is perfect. I turned in my manuscript on a Wednesday and that Friday, my mother-in-law ended up in the hospital. It’s been a few whirlwind weeks of tests without answers and lots of appointments. She is doing okay, but every day is different. Most days she can care for herself, but then there are days that she needs help with even walking.
Before all this happened it was my goal to have a short story written and edited for my newsletter subscribers and the draft of my second book 3/4 of the way done before edits on my first book came back. I’m happy to announce that I have met at least ONE of those goals (though I am a good way closer to my second book goal than before all this happened). I even created a cover, which is substantially better than the cover I designed for the deleted chapter. Without further ado, here is the cover and blurb for my short story:
Banking on Love
She expected to save her brother, not rob a bank.
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. Will the love and ingenuity of a sister be enough to save Irvin from making the biggest mistake of his life?
This short story is exclusively for my newsletter subscribers. Not one yet? You can sign up here. My newsletter crew members are the first to know about titles, book covers, launch team member callouts, contests, and they get a monthly chance at winning a $15 Amazon gift card.
So was this post a shameless plug for my newsletter? Yep, but I put a lot of work into this 7500-word baby, and it’s one I hope you’ll enjoy.
I don’t know about you, but I have an obsession with books. The movers we hired can attest to that as they moved over 60 boxes of books to our new house several years ago. If we had to move again, I’d say that number has increased by at least 20. Being a simple book-enthusiast was never an option for me. It is a God-given passion, and I am addicted to the thrill of danger, love, and struggles of the story. In other words, I’m a bookaholic.
For your entertainment, here are ten confessions I have about being a Bookaholic.
It’s confession time:
- I used to be a single book at a time gal. Now I’m up to three or four at a time. One audiobook, one e-book, and two print (usually one nonfiction and one fiction). I do still tend to finish one before the other, but not always.
- I own an unseemly number of bookish t-shirts.
- With rare exception, I read only Christian Fiction, and usually, it is a historical romance.
- I have over 1000 print books in my house. Their physical presence is calming and grounds me.
- All of my books are organized and cataloged in a literal library system. I even have a barcode scanner. The old-school kind, not my phone–although I’m considering an upgrade. 😉
- I own more Christian Historical Fiction than my public library and lend books out to friends to justify my growing collection.
- Library Used Book Sales are my kryptonite. Our county has several a year, and I always come home with treasures and a request for another bookshelf.
- I have duplicates of my favorite books, which I gladly shove at my friends and make them read…even if I know reading “isn’t their thing.” I mean, what’s wrong with them? They just haven’t found the right book, and I am glad to help remedy that problem.
- My family has created a game called “Hide Mom’s Book.” It used to be only when they discovered I was nearing the end of a book, but now it’s whenever they see a book come in the mail.
- My husband once hid North and South from me and forgot where he hid it. For over a year, I searched, but it took until we moved to find it.
- I hide from my family to read books. Sometimes in the car, but most often in the laundry room or my bathroom. Gross? Yes, but a girl has to finish her books.
- I carry books with me everywhere. In fact, every single purse I own has died because the weight has separated the handles from the actual bag. Yes, I know, e-books. But there is nothing like a print book in your hand.
- More than once, I have pre-ordered the same book multiple times by accident. Yeah, Amazon supposedly has a little thing at the top telling you when you purchased the book previously, but who has time to read that when you are giddily hitting the purchase button?
- More than once, I have become injured while reading a book. Grease splatters from cooking get me. Pans have dropped on my feet. Books smash me in the face as I read in bed. Worst is missing steps I didn’t see while reading and walking. You’d think I’d learn my lesson about multitasking, but I haven’t.
- I haven’t read every book I own, but I keep buying more. That’s the real sign of a bookaholic, right?
I know I can’t be the only one. Be honest. We can have our own Bookaholics Anonymous Meeting right now. Share your bookaholic confessions in the comments. I’d love to hear I’m not alone.
This month’s “From the Author’s Desk” is a long post about researching for your novel that I wrote for another blog meant to help other writers. I wanted to post it here too, so I could include it in my For Writer’s Tab. I hope you’ll find it an interesting look a the practical side of preparing for a novel.
Research: Love It or Hate It, You Gotta Do It!
Research. You either dread it or love it. Regardless of your sentiment, as a diligent writer, you have to do it and do it right. Whether new at the researching game or old hat, it is my prayer that this post will give you a little bit of guidance, a few resources, and a “whole lotta” inspiration.
I will be tackling this from the historical fiction angle, but anything written here can be applied to any genre’s research needs.
Where do I start researching?
Think of the act of researching as similar to drawing a tornado—you start with wide broad spirals that narrow down to a very focused point the closer you get to the ground, or in this case, your story.
With this in mind, I recommend starting wide and shallow before you ever write the first word of your story. Get a feel for what the politics, economy, culture, major events, fashion, etiquette, industries, technology, and social constructs were like for the setting of your story. These could have potentially content-altering information that can cripple a story if you find out too late.
Honestly, my favorite way to get a broad overview is to find children’s history books on the topics. They often have lots of interesting tidbits while giving you a broad sense of what is going on. It also helps to guide you in to more narrow and deeper research.
Once you have a general understanding of the times, then you can really narrow in on the specifics of your character and situation. Below I’ve listed some topics for consideration and some guiding questions to help you determine what is going to matter most to your character.
Major Topics for Consideration:
Each story is going to have unique needs, so you need to gauge your research based on those needs. If your story isn’t going to have a huge political influence, stop researching politics after you have a general feel for your story’s need. If your story has a rich socialite and a poor man, you are going to need to know the intricacies of upper-class society’s expectations and how they differ from someone who has never experienced it. I think you probably get the idea. 😉
Politics: What major political events were going on during the setting of your story? How might they affect your characters? Most of us don’t live in a bubble, and what is going on in the world filters into our lives and our discussions. Take that into consideration to be sure that there isn’t something that would greatly impact your story’s plot.
For example, if you have your character’s father the owner of a railroad during the railroad strikes, that is going to affect your character in at least some manner. If your heroine lives during the era of growing awareness of women’s rights (a much longer period than you might realize), how will this influence what your character believes, thinks, and says?
Culture: This means looking at the region and locale of your story. What foods, activities, and sayings are common to that area? Are there certain expectations that aren’t included elsewhere? Do they have certain fashions? Are there certain people groups common to that area that would influence the culture of that city?
Cincinnati is heavily German. When I moved here, I experience lots of new-to-me foods, building styles, and a TON of Catholic schools. There were two for the area I’d grown up in. Do your research and you’ll be surprised about what will really add richness to your story.
Economics and Social Status: Different social classes have different expectations and behaviors. How are those going to affect your character? What obstacles will that create? Consider the careers they would be likely to have. What industry do your characters rely on? What is going on in those industries which could affect their lives? The more you know about these things, the stronger your story will be.
When researching my manuscript Counterfeit Love, I discovered there was a “Long Depression” lasting from 1873 to 1896. At the time, they called it the “Great Depression.” What I learned changed and set the baseline for the struggles my heroine faced, even though I never directly connected the two for my reader.
Organizing the Research
As much as I hate to admit it, taking notes which are easy to reference is critical. It is really important to keep a running bibliography so that you can back up your research when questions, and you can reference something if you get confused as you look over your notes.
I use a program called Scrivener, and under the research tab, I create folders. My “big folders” are named by the topic: Setting, Etiquette, Fashion, Gardening, etc. My broad needs are labeled for quick reference.
Inside each folder, I break it down to it’s smaller component topics. My current character is a master gardener, and I am a black thumb, so under my gardening folder I have topics like Master Gardener (which will include examples, requirements, real people, and their gardens which I can reference), Plants Heroine Works With, etc.
Beyond that, each book resource will get its own folder. Each website gets a single text document. I name these text documents and book folders by the name of the resource, and also by the topic if the resource is focused on a single topic. I take my notes in a table format:
Personal Notes/ Observations
Possible Plot Points
It’s the alphabet
A letter goes missing
It is a bit tedious, but I do find that it has been invaluable in brainstorming, reviewing information, and finding a specific fact quickly.
Each person has their own method, this is just mine, so do not feel like you HAVE to do it my way. Do be sure to keep track of your resources though. You never know when you will have to justify something you wrote.
When it comes to conducting research, it is easy to get lost in the mire of possibilities. You can visit museums, websites, historical societies, read history books or primary sources, travel, or even search satellite maps.
Most of my research is done from home and online. To find my resources, I usually start with a search of my local library’s catalog or a Google search to find some reputable resources. Yes, I even go to Wikipedia—but only as a starting point to direct me somewhere else. I get what information I can, and then I look at their bibliographies. This is how I narrow down what I am going to read.
I prefer diaries, books, and newspapers written during the era I’m writing. This can be difficult and expensive if I’m not careful. I highly recommend seeing if your public library has a subscription to Historic Newspapers websites. Mine has several. From home, I can read newspapers and search for topics in those newspapers for free. It is marvelous.
For books, there has been a wonderful movement to digitalize old books and most of them are free to read. Below I’ve given you a list of my favorites. You can search by title, year, subject, or even keywords. It has been a lifesaver, especially during these strange times which makes research extra difficult.
While finding books from eh 1880s can be expensive and difficult, there are a lot of books that have been digitalized and can be searched for free. Below, I’ve given you some of my favorites.
https://babel.hathitrust.org/ – This is my favorite resource. It can take some weeding through, and you’d definitely want a specific title, but I have found countless resources here.
https://books.google.com/ – They list them all, whether you can read them or not, so just make sure they say Free E-book when you click on it.
https://archive.org/ – This one has gotten in trouble lately for pirating current books, so make sure you are only looking at books printed before WWI. Generally, I only go to this website once I have a specific title in mind. There are usually multiple copies of the same book and it does take some weeding through.
Search for the historical society of the area you are researching. Some of them have online resources, some will be thrilled to talk to you and help you out, and some will never answer back. Either way, they are a go-to resource for information you would never have imagined.
How to Avoid Rabbit Trails
Oh, the wonderful things you can find when researching! And oh how much time you can waste. What helps me to not waste hours down a rabbit trail (and I still do often), is to keep the specific thing I am researching in mind.
When I come across something else that strikes my fancy but isn’t what I need at that particular moment, I add a note and the website link to a folder I title “Research This Later.” 90% of the time I don’t go back to it, but having it tucked away for later helps me to release the rabbit trail and stay focused.
It’s a simple trick, but it works well. You could also set a timer for how long you are going to research this topic, but I find I turn those off and just keep going.
While writing your actual manuscript, I recommend you do not go and research something the moment you find you need it. Just make a note in your manuscript like this: [RESEARCH FASHION]. The primary concern with drafting is getting the story down as quickly as you can. Research can cause you to lose that momentum.
How do you decide what to use?
Throw all you want or find interesting in your first draft. This is your place to just see where the story takes you. Once you begin the revision process you can decide what needs cut. To make that decision, ask yourself: “What does my read absolutely need to see and understand the story?” and “Does this slow my story down?”
If it is needed AND slows your story down, see if you can change up the presentation of the information. Can it be communicated briefly through fascinating dialogue?
If it isn’t needed, even if it doesn’t slow your story down, you’ll probably need to cut it. You can always leave it and see what beta readers think. However, what I’ve observed in today’s readers is the more concise you can be, the better.
Cutting that beloved material from your first draft can be hard, but you can still use those materials in blog posts, social media posts, and promotional opportunities later on. You already have the content, and readers may find it interesting.
There is really is so much more that could be said about research, but I have surpassed my word count. If you have questions or want to learn more, feel free to contact me.