Christmas Week

I’m taking a bit of a blogging hiatus during Christmas week. I’ll monitor any new comments on last Friday’s post, of course, and draw a winner for the copy of Jody Hedlund’s book, REBELLIOUS HEART, after the deadline of 11:59 p.m. Christmas Eve.  The winner’s name will be announced here on Friday.

In the meantime I wish you and yours every blessing. Have a joyous, wonder-filled Christmas!

Red Twig Willow in the Snow

Red Twig Willow in the Snow



In case you missed it on Friday’s post,
the winner of the draw is


Congratulations, Darlene!

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Book Review & Giveaway: REBELLIOUS HEART by Jody Hedlund

Author Jody Hedlund

Author Jody Hedlund

When I first encountered Jody Hedlund back in mid-2009, she was a new blogger seeking representation and publication for her writing. She often used examples from PILGRIM’S PROGRESS in her posts, and admitted a passion for John Bunyan. So it was no surprise when her first published novel was a story loosely based on the second marriage of John Bunyan. (THE PREACHER’S BRIDE, Bethany House, 2010)

In that book Jody’s writing transported me right into the story’s mid-1600s setting… something that rarely happens unless an author has done a remarkable amount of research and used the information effectively.

In each of her successive books, Jody’s knowledge of historical times – i.e., 1836 Oregon, 1880s Michigan, and 1763 Massachusetts – evoked the same reaction, and I’ve been drawn into reading a genre that previously had never appealed to me. I eagerly devoured her newest book, REBELLIOUS HEART, when it was released in September by Bethany House.

At the end of this post you can leave a comment and be entered in the draw for a copy of REBELLIOUS HEART. 🙂


Rebellious-HeartREBELLIOUS HEART takes us into the lives of two people from vastly different backgrounds. Susanna Smith is a bright young woman of good social status who, despite being denied the education she desires, displays her intelligence and asserts her independence as she works for social justice. When she seeks to aid a runaway indentured slave, she is assisted by the son of a farmer, country lawyer Benjamin Ross, who is also involved in the pre-Revolutionary discontent of the time. Their developing friendship places Susanna and her family in great danger.

Inspired by the unique friendship of US president John Adams and his wife Abigail, the story places richly detailed and believable characters into historically correct settings while playing out a fascinating and fast-paced plot.

I asked Jody which scene in the story she found the most challenging to write…

“Which scene in Rebellious Heart was the most challenging to write? I’d have to say the first scene in the courtroom where Ben is defending Hermit Crab Joe. I always want the first chapter to accomplish many goals. But often that’s hard to do without being wordy (and potentially boring the reader!).

“My original version of the scene was MUCH too long. And once I’d written it, I realized right away that I would need to pare it down quite a bit. But at the same time, I was told I needed to add more period detail to the scene so that readers could understand right away that they were in Colonial Times. So essentially I had to cut AND add at the same time!

“Fortunately, I’m not married to my words and I can usually cut and chop without mortally wounding myself. The hard part was trying to figure out exactly what was necessary for the scene and setting and what was overkill.

“Once I had eliminated as much as I possibly could, then I had a Colonial “expert” give me advice on where I could add a little more period detail to make the chapter/book more authentic.”

That authenticity stands out in all Jody’s writing, but especially in REBELLIOUS HEART. If you enjoy good historical fiction, you’ll want to add this book to your list of must-reads!


If you’d like to have your name included in the draw for a free copy of REBELLIOUS HEART, please leave a comment below and be sure to provide your e-mail addy when prompted. The draw will close at 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24th. I’ll be taking a blogging break during Christmas week, but will post the name of the winner on Friday, December 27th.


You can find out more about Jody and her books on her website:

She hangs out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund and also loves to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund

She is represented by Rachelle Gardener at Books and Such Literary Agency.

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eBook Giveaway and Author Interview: Susan J. Reinhardt

I first met Susan Reinhardt on Facebook and in exchanges around our blogs, and have always appreciated her thoughtful comments and responses. I’m delighted to be among those who are getting the word out about the recent release of her debut novel, THE MOSES CONSPIRACY

“A trip to post-terrorized Washington, D.C. in 2025 and a buggy accident in Bird-in-Hand, PA set in motion events that expose a diabolical plan to destroy the Christian community. Ellie and John Zimmerman find themselves embroiled in a life-threatening investigation, fighting a shadowy enemy.”

Thanks, Susan, for dropping in here to answer a few questions about your book. And thanks, too, for providing a free eBook for one of my readers. (See info below.)


flatecover(11)Readers often wonder where the idea for a book originated. What inspired you to write THE MOSES CONSPIRACY?

My late husband and I visited Gettysburg prior to Christmas in 2004. While standing in the old town square, surrounded by history, I could “hear” the forefathers’ voices. However, they were like fading echoes.

After several failed attempts to write non-fiction pieces, I put it on the back burner and prayed for direction. In August 2005, my husband and I were talking about “the Gettysburg experience,” and he said, “That’s it!  That’s your book! And you’ll write it in four months and call it Ghosts of the Past.”

I thought he was crazy, but caught the vision. The name changed to Echoes of the Past and later to The Moses Conspiracy. When I sat down at the computer, I had no clue what I was going to write. By Christmas 2005, I had 55,000 words.

How long did it take you to write the book and what was the journey like?
The first draft took four months, but then I had to learn how to write fiction. I cut my writing teeth on this book. There were multiple re-writes while I shopped it around. It took eight years to write, get a contract, and an agent.

The journey was far from easy. From 2006-2007, I wrote very little due to my husband’s battle with leukemia, death, and the subsequent challenges. When I came through the grief process, I knew I had to finish the book both in his memory and because I felt the Lord had directed me to write it.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

There are several messages, including the faithfulness of God during difficult times, the importance of protecting our freedoms, and building strong family relationships.


I loosely define The Moses Conspiracy as Christian Speculative Fiction because it takes place in 2025. Although it takes place in the future, I’ve avoided a lot of techno-babble. One take-away I wanted for the reader was the possibility this or something similar could happen.

What are you working on now?

The Moses Conspiracy is the first book in a trilogy. Book 2, with a working title of The Scent of Fear, takes place three years after the initial story. The rough draft is written and is now in the editing stage. The third book, Lost and Found, is still in its infancy. Each book is a stand-alone novel, but builds upon the previous plotline.


the moses conspiracy on kindleSusan is offering a free eBook (PDF version) of  THE MOSES CONSPIRACY to one lucky reader.

Over this weekend, from now until midnight Sunday, those who leave a comment on this post will have their names entered in a random draw — one entry for each comment — and the winner will be announced on Monday. (This giveaway is available internationally. Be sure to include your e-mail address when prompted so we can contact you.)


SusanReinhardtAbout Susan

Susan J. Reinhardt’s journey to publication began as a non-fiction writer. She’s been published in The RevWriter Resource, Devotions Magazine, A Secret Place, Vista, Live, and numerous other compilations and periodicals. Her appreciation for using fiction techniques inspired her to use fiction as a vehicle for truth. A widow, stepmom, and active church member, Susan enjoys reading, couponing, gardening, and searching for small treasures in antique shops.

Susan is represented by Joyce Hart, of the Hartline Literary Agency.

THE MOSES CONSPIRACY is an eBook available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, & Kobo.

Visit Susan on her BlogFacebook, and Twitter.

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What prompts us to say ‘Thank you’?


First… it’s time for the announcement as promised on Friday!

I put the Random Number Generator to work, and it has selected Comment #7, which, when I eliminate Denise’s comment, mine and Shari’s, turns out to be Laura Best’s. Congratulations, Laura! If you’ll e-mail your postal address to caroljgarvin[at]gmail[dot]com, I’ll send you the signed copy of Denise’s NEVER ENOUGH.


It’s Thanksgiving Day here in Canada.

I doubt there is a child alive who hasn’t been admonished by a parent more than once to “Say thank you.” After all, it’s good manners. We’re meant to show appreciation for a gift received, a kindness shown, or a favour given.

So when Thanksgiving arrives, many of us have been brainwashed into our responses: “Thank you for all my blessings.” But who are we thanking, and what specifically are those blessings? And a bigger question might be are we really all that thankful?

For millions in the developed world there is a sense of entitlement. We’ve worked hard — or perhaps our parents did — to earn what we have. Whether we share a crowded room or live in a mansion, there is a belief that we have a right to that roof over our heads. We anticipate at least one square meal a day, too, and clothing to keep our bodies covered and warm. Some of us live in abundance (my fingers tremble a bit here as I compose this on one of our three computers). We take a lot for granted… unless it’s all taken away from us.

Unless we return home from an evening with friends and find nothing but rubble left — unless serious illness happens, or accident, job loss or some other calamity leaps out of nowhere and strips us of everything that we’ve always had — until then we don’t think a lot about what constitutes our style of living, do we?

Instead we mutter about Monday mornings, moan about the chores, and mumble about getting started on our Christmas shopping.

In Jesus’ day leprosy was a big deal — a horrible, highly contagious and incurable illness that resulted in the afflicted being banished into isolated communities. So when ten lepers were healed by Jesus, it was as if they had been raised from the living-dead.

“One of them [the lepers], when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough.”

Luke 17:15-16 (Msg)


Were the other nine not overjoyed, too? I’m sure they were. I imagine they marvelled at their unblemished skin and hurried on to be reunited with their friends and families and rejoice together. I don’t doubt they were thankful, but only one took the time to acknowledge the source of the miracle and return to say ‘thank you’.

So I’m back to my earlier questions. What prompts us to say ‘thank you’ today? Is it an automated, conditioned response, or do we really know who are we thanking, why, and specifically for what? Do we offer cursory appreciation before digging into the turkey, or do we kneel at His feet, so grateful for the new lives He’s given us that we can never thank Him enough?


To each of you, my thanks for your precious cyber friendship and support.
Happy Thanksgiving!

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Photo by think4photop

Book Reviews and Giveaway — WRITING WITH A HEAVY HEART and NEVER ENOUGH — Author Denise Jaden

When author Denise Jaden shares the experiences that have influenced how she handles grief in her writing, she doesn’t mince words. A miscarriage, the death of her father in a workplace accident, the head injury of her son and her husband’s place of business burning down, all happened in the span of four months, and suddenly had her coping with unexpected loss and grief.

She says, “As much as I didn’t want it, I’ve had the opportunity to think on some teachable aspects of grief as I was walking my journey.” Not only did she think on them, she has utilized them to create a wonderful book for anyone writing about characters who are also dealing with loss.

In her first non-fiction book, WRITING WITH A HEAVY HEART: USING GRIEF AND LOSS TO STRETCH YOUR FICTION, Denise shares her ideas on how to add emotional layers to your writing about characters going through various forms of loss. She analyzes how individuals react in grief, and provides exercises to help writers apply these reactions to their characters.

It’s an invaluable resource for every writer. Released October 1st, the paperback version is available at Create Space and through Amazon.  The e-book is available at AmazonSmashwordsKoboDiesel and Sony. Check out Denise’s blog for a Goodreads giveaway. Also, if you send Denise your mailing address at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com with “Bookmarks” in the subject line, she’ll  be happy to send some bookmarks your way


This is the second of Denise’s books to be released in 2012. In July I was pleased to attend the launch of her second YA novel, NEVER ENOUGH. It’s a remarkable story about two sisters each coping with their sense of self-esteem and inadequacy. About it Publishers Weekly said, “In her sophomore novel, Jaden (Losing Faith) offers an intimate and enlightened rendering of anorexia and bulimia…Loann’s fight against forces that might be beyond her control is both harrowing and inspiring. While Jaden does not provide simple answers for the problems presented, she dramatically illustrates the importance of speaking out and reaching out.”

Like Denise’s first novel LOSING FAITH, NEVER ENOUGH is another story that caught me up and kept me reading non-stop to the end.

I have a signed copy of NEVER ENOUGH to give away to one of you who leaves a comment below before noon on Sunday, October 7th. Please be sure to leave your e-mail address when prompted so I can contact the winner. Draw is limited to mailing addresses in Canada and the United States. Winner will be announced on Monday.

NEVER ENOUGH is available just about everywhere I look, including on Amazon.

If you’ll be attending the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, October 19-21, 2012 at Surrey’s Sheraton Hotel, I believe Denise will also have copies of her books available there.

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Good morning! There is a new post coming later this morning, but before I do anything else I want to announce the winner of the draw for a signed copy of Jody Hedlund’s new book, UNENDING DEVOTION. The number 7 was chosen by the random number generator:

and, excluding comments from Jody, her critique partner Keli, and me, the seventh person to comment was… ::insert drum roll here:: …

Emily Reilly

Congratulations, Emily! I’m sure you’ll love the story.
We’ll be in touch by e-mail to make the arrangements.


Secrets and a giveaway from author Jody Hedlund


Today I’m sharing in the excitement of author Jody Hedlund’s newest release, UNENDING DEVOTION. Publisher’s Weekly calls it “a meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end.” This is stop #2 on Jody’s blog tour sharing fun secrets you probably didn’t know about her.

There’s also a signed copy of her book to be won. Check out the details below.


Secret #2: The secret source of my writing inspiration

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

The secret of my writing inspiration is my bed. Yes, I really do get most of my story ideas when I’m lying in bed at night before I fall asleep.

Ideas stay in my heart and mind at all times during the course of writing the first draft. But it’s at night, in the quiet of the house, when my mind slows down and when my body is at rest, that I can hear my characters, that I fall in love with them, and they become real to me.

Interestingly, the moment I turn my book in to my editors, the characters leave my heart and head. It’s as if hitting ‘send’ severs the tie with them—which thankfully prepares me to be more objective with my work during the editing phase.

After the story is out of my hands, then usually the very next night, as I lie in bed, I begin the search for a new story and new characters. I begin to sort through ideas, always trying to find something fresh and exciting.

In fact, if I don’t have direction for a story, I start to feel lost. Then when I’m lying in bed, my mind is restless. And that undercurrent of restlessness remains until I latch onto another story and new characters.

Of course, I do find inspiration from many other places besides my bed. I glean ideas from biographies, history books, interesting people, old photographs, etc.

But it takes a quieting of the mind and the peacefulness of rest for those ideas to simmer and to come to fruition.

Are you building enough quiet and rest into your life to fuel your creative energy? Where do you find your greatest inspiration?


Thanks for sharing with us today, Jody! Next time I’m lacking a good story idea maybe I should just go to bed! 😉

 To celebrate the release of UNENDING DEVOTION, Jody is giving away a signed copy. Leave a comment  on today’s post (along with your email address) to enter the drawing. Valid only with US or Canadian addresses. Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, September 6th. Winner’s name will be posted on Friday.

For more secrets about Jody and additional chances to win her newest release, visit her Events Page to see where she’ll be next in her “Fun Secrets About Author Jody Hedlund” blog tour. Also join in the Pinterest Photo Contest she’s hosting. Find more information about it on her Contest Page.


Jody would love to connect with you! Find her in one of these places:

Facebook: Author Jody Hedlund


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#WIPMADNESS Final Winners

Sorry for the delay, fellow Wipsters, but I’m finally back from my week of ‘smelling the flowers’ and all the good things that entails… reading, enjoying family, relaxing in the peacefulness of our lakeside retreat,  and basking in birthday pampering. 🙂

The #wipmadness week #5 winner’s name has been drawn. The winner of a novel of her choice from my summer reading basket, is…

Angelina C. Hansen

Congratulations, Angelina. I hope there’s something in the basket that tickles your fancy. Let me know your choice, along with your mailing address, in an e-mail to caroljgarvin [at] gmail [dot] com, and I’ll get it into the mail this week.

Then, as promised, the names of all those who didn’t win one of the July weekly draws were put back into the proverbial hat and one extra draw was made, this time for a copy of Julia Cameron’s THE SOUND OF PAPER. That winner is…


Congratulations to you, too, Lisa! Send me your mailing address at the above address so I can get it off to you.


Now that August is underway, I hope you’ve all set fresh goals and are making good progress towards meeting them. August check ins are at Jeanne Ryan’s blog: See you there!

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#WIPMADNESS Week #5 Check-in: Growing and Timing

July is just about done. If you believe the calendar, summer isn’t quite half over, but in reality, nobody really knows what to believe. Some areas have had unbearable heat and scorching sunshine, while others have suffered through disastrous rainstorms. We had the wettest June on record here on BC’s west coast, and for a while were also on the way to the wettest July. Gardens sulked their way through weeks of cold rain.

Then an unfamiliar golden orb appeared in the sky, clouds scuttled off to the horizon, and gardens rushed to catch up on what they were meant to be doing in late July. Our blueberries began to ripen, and tightly furled flower buds finally raised their sodden faces and began to smile. After the long wait, everything suddenly became lush!

Just about that time, I came across a guest post by author Marcia Yudkin on the Writer Beware blog about growing as a writer and not rushing into publication. In her post entitled “In praise of ripening”, Marcia says, “A new variant from the Get Rich Quick world has sprung up, threatening much greater harm to vulnerable wannabees and to all of us who value writing worth reading.” She later concludes, “If you care about good writing, please help me spread the word that both authors and the public are better served by learning to write well before getting published.”

I’d quote more, but it would be better for you to click on over there and read it in its entirety. For those of us pushing to meet #wipmadness goals, her message prods us to see the value of due process in our quest. I hope you’ll read it, and then come back here to tell me if you agree with her.


Today is the last Monday of July and thus the fifth and final official check-in here for my fellow Wipsters. It’s also time to announce the winner of last week’s draw for a copy (digital or print) of K.M. Weiland‘s wonderful book, OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL. (Thanks for donating it, Kathy!)


Shari Green

(I tried not to pick her name. Honestly! I even tossed it back,
but it came up again, so I gave in and accepted that it was meant to be!)

Congratulations, Shari. Let me know if you prefer a digital or print copy
and I’ll pass the info on to Kathy.

This week’s draw will be for another novel of your choice from my summer reading basket (excluding the copy of Jane Kirkpatrick’s book, which Jaye chose as her Week #1 prize). Everyone commenting on today’s post between now and Saturday will be eligible, and each comment gets a separate entry.

After next weekend’s draw, the remaining names from all five weeks will be combined for one extra draw… for a copy of Julia Cameron’s THE SOUND OF PAPER. Because I won’t have access to the internet next weekend, however, the names of those two winners might be a day late getting posted. Don’t worry… if you forget to check back here to see who won, I’ll get in touch with the winners, as long as you leave me your e-mail address when prompted as you submit your comments.

I hope everyone’s month of writing and reaching for goals has been productive, and you’ll be equally enthusiastic about joining Jeanne Ryan for August’s challenges. Beginning August 6th you’ll find her Monday check-in posts at

Wishing all of you good summertime writing!

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#WIPMADNESS Week #4 Check-in — Focus (or, lack thereof)


I watched this little Rufous Hummingbird flit around all Sunday afternoon. The birdfeeder was full of fresh nectar, but each time he arrived, he made the rounds of the available flowers on the deck before darting over to the feeder for a drink. Then it was back to the red Calibrachoa – no, wait… make it the white Bacopa – nope, it’s the golden Bidens. Another dash to the feeder for a sip of nectar.

He couldn’t seem to stay at any one place for longer than a couple seconds, and so ended up returning to each one multiple times. He probably got adequate nourishment, but he sure expended a lot of energy in the process.

He reminded me of my own futile efforts to concentrate on my WIP some days.

  • Open WIP document.
  • Oops, almost forgot to check Facebook, e-mail and Twitter.
  • Locate my misplaced mug of coffee – can’t function without caffeine.
  • Re-read yesterday’s chapter and mark a few weak spots.
  • Check for new blog comments – it’ll only take a moment unless there are new ones requiring a reply.
  • Contemplate whether to make the changes in that earlier chapter or move on to the next.
  • Stare out the window at the birds.
  • Check to see if anyone has replied to my Facebook post.
  • Return to the kitchen to dump my cold coffee and get a hot refill.
  • Recheck e-mail.

And on it goes.

Distractions aren’t the problem. Lack of focus is. The infamous “butt in chair” advice works only if I actually concentrate on my manuscript while seated. Bird watching or browsing the internet while sipping coffee doesn’t count because my brain is not fully engaged in the task.

How much more productive would I be if I allotted a specific chunk of time to the social media tasks, then turned it off, swivelled my chair away from the window and settled down for a session of real writing? I know that perfectly well, but I watched the silly hummingbird who couldn’t settle in one spot either, and smiled at his lack of focus.

Until I realized that he was multi-tasking with one purpose in mind: to fill his stomach.

I guess he could teach me a thing or two about focus after all.


So did you have trouble focusing on your #wipmadness efforts, or did you accomplish last week’s goals? What do you hope… no, plan to achieve this week?


The winner of our Week #3 draw for
a $25 Amazon gift certificate is

M.A. Scott (@ghostgirlwrites)

Congratulations, Mary Ann! Please e-mail me at caroljgarvin [at] gmail [dot] com and I’ll tell you how to claim your prize.

For Week #4, K.M. Weiland has generously donated a copy (print or digital) of her 2011 release, OUTLINING YOUR NOVEL to someone who comments on today’s check-in post. You can check-in multiple times during the week (until Saturday) if you’re in need of a little extra motivation or to offer extra support to your fellow Wipsters.

Now, stop procrastinating and get to work!


(“A lifelong fan of history and the power of the written word, K.M. Weiland enjoys sharing both through her novels and short stories. She blogs at Wordplay: Helping Writers Become Authors, where she mentors other authors and shares the ups and downs of the writing life.”)

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