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
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.
So my blog posts are going to be out of order this month, but I wanted this post to be available to my newsletter subscribers…and I sent it out a few hours ago. 😉
I’ve returned to researching for my Civil War story, and this time I am researching Childhood Grieving.
One of the backdrops to my story is the fresh loss of a parent to the two children my heroine cares for. This is not something I take lightly or just threw in to add more complications to the story. 1 in 20 kids experiences the death of a loved one or friend by the time they are 16. As a caregiver myself, my heart breaks for these situations, and I wanted to explore the messy complications of grief, faith, and real life. However, I didn’t want to be inaccurate in my portrayal of their grief, even if the story is never seen from the perspective of the children.
Therefore, I dove into some serious research and discovered many helpful resources. I want to share those resources with you in hopes that they may be a comfort or help to you as well. Whether you are a caregiver, a friend, or the one who has lost someone, there is a resource for you below.
My favorite resource is the NAGC Hero Toolkit. Regardless of who you are, we all have family or friends who have lost a loved one. This toolkit gives practical ways to reach into your own life or into the lives of others and be “a hero” through the grief process. I REALLY REALLY recommend checking it out.
NAGC Hero Toolkit – This Superhero Toolkit, developed for children, teens and their support network, provides activities and conversations designed to empower each of us to become everyday superheroes.
National Alliance for Grieving Children – The National Alliance for Grieving Children (NAGC) is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the needs of children and teens who are grieving a death and provides education and resources for anyone who supports them.
New York Life Bereavement Resources – Helping families in times of grief is at the heart of our company’s mission, and our research has shown that families who lose a loved one wish they had more resources and support available to them. In an effort to address this gap, we have developed this dedicated online grief resource which offers articles, expert tips, personal stories and local resources for families, educators and community members
Trauma and Grief Center Guidelines for Parents – This is an amazing resource with how different ages perceive death, common fears, positive parenting strategies, and red flags.
The Shared Grief Project – The Shared Grief Project envisions a world where no child grieves alone. To achieve this, we share the stories of individuals who have experienced a major loss at an early age and have gone on to live healthy, happy and successful lives. (I really recommend you check this one out.)
The Dougy Center – The Dougy Center provides support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults, and their families grieving a death can share their experiences. We provide support and training locally, nationally, and internationally to individuals and organizations seeking to assist children in grief.
Centering – non-profit organization dedicated to providing education and resources for the bereaved. Centering was founded in 1977 by Joy and Dr. Marvin Johnson. Centering started with nine little coloring books for hospitalized children and two workshop offerings for nurses and families. In response to the need for support by families and caregivers while facing their grief experience we developed many new resources. Today we have over 500 grief resources for children and adults. Centering continues to provide educational resources and bookstore for caregivers and families.
If you have any additional resources, I’d love for you to share them below! And if I can pray for you, my inbox is always open.
Have you ever wondered about how authors come up with characters? I’m sure every author has their own process, but I can guarantee you, it is similar to making new friends. In the beginning, you don’t really know much about them. Sometimes you’ll have a name, sometimes not. The same goes for descriptions, personalities, jobs, etc. They are just this person that is sort of an enigma, and it takes work to get to know them.
While I struggle to make friends with people existing outside of fiction–I can’t say real people because my fiction characters DO become real to me–I always get very excited when it comes time to meet my newest characters. I thought it might be fun to take you through a little bit of my process as I get to know a character I’m developing for a short story. At this point, I know VERY little about my character. I’ve already brainstormed a few ideas with my critique partner, but Harriet is still very flat on the paper.
What I do know:
Harriet Carmichael is a bit of an outsider to the upper-class society in which her family partakes. She goes beyond avid gardener to more of the botanist level, and she relates better to the plants than people. In fact, most people find her odd even though gardening was a perfectly acceptable hobby for upper-class women of the time.
She is forced to attend the Christmas party of a woman who is skilled at double-edged compliments and making Harriet feel even more insignificant than before. However, while at this party, she receives a note or a gift (not sure which yet) from a secret admirer. No matter how much she wishes it were true, she can’t believe its authenticity. However, something happens (again, don’t know what yet) will send her on a hunt to discover the true identity of the letter writer. Was it another cruel joke of the woman, or had someone really seen her and wanted to get to know her better?
That’s it, that’s all I really know right now, but I’m really excited about writing this brief story. Depending on how it turns out, it may be my Christmas gift to my newsletter subscribers. But I digress…
After attending the Online Character Summit this weekend, I am determined to take some of what I have learned and carve Harriet into a deeper more human character that we can all relate to on some level. So here we go:
Getting to Know Harriet
This portrait by George Clausen is how I physically envision Harriet at the moment. She’s nothing extraordinary, and her clothes are rather dull. She tends to wear browns in order to disguise her constant work in the soil. From here, it becomes sort of an interview process.
Me: So Harriet, who are you? Why do you feel you that you don’t fit in? It can’t just be your love of plants.
Harriet (rubbing hands together and then tucking them behind her when she finds dirt under her nails): I don’t really know much about people, and honestly, I don’t understand them. People are unpredictable. Plants follow certain rules, I know what they need to coax them into vibrancy, which ones to pair together, and which ones to plant in order to entice or repel certain insects or animals. I love being able to create and work within God’s creation. Plants are exactly what they are supposed to be. People? Not so much.
It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s that I don’t know what to make of them. Some are genuinely who they appear to be, others opposite from what they present to the world. I have a few friends, but mostly, I am uncomfortable around people. I don’t know what to say. I don’t enjoy the same things as my peers.
I like books about gardening, plant life, and even scientific articles about altering plants to be more sturdy against the elements. Miss Austen, Mr. Dickens, and the such leave me baffled. I can play cards, play piano, and embroider as required, but why would anyone want to do those when you can be outside? In fact, I hate winter. I spend most of it planning my next garden or tinkering in the greenhouse/conservatory. The best days are the days I can go to the university and work in the botany department (need to check that was a thing then).
Oh, thought! Have her compare different people/personalities to different types of plants!
And so it will go for a few days. Harriet and I will be having some deep conversations and some lighter-hearted ones. What are the things she likes? The things she fears? What does she want more than anything? What does she believe about herself? What does she need to learn? etc. These are hard questions to draw out, but I love the excitement of it.
Just so you don’t think Harriet is fully developed before I put words on paper, this initial examination is rarely what she ends up looking like as I actually write. Harriet will grow and define herself, shedding some of the things I thought we decided in the beginning. She will develop her own voice and become a real person. Even scarier, she will start making her own decisions and direct my story in ways I never envisioned.
I hope you enjoyed a little sneak peek of my process in developing characters, now I really am going to get off here and dive into uninterrupted conversation with Harriet. I’m starting to get caught up on reading, so look for more steady book reviews in the coming months. 🙂
Do you like gardening? What things do you think Harriet will need in order to rightly portray someone who loves plants, maybe even more than people?