A Musician Wannabe (and Denise Jaden’s cover reveal)

I’m a musician wannabe. My smattering of mid-life piano lessons left me able to stumble through a piece of music well enough to discern the tune, but not well enough to keep up if someone wanted to sing along. How I fell into being a church choir director for almost nineteen years is a story all its own, but sufficient to say, it fed my love of music even if it didn’t provide any additional proficiency. Maybe it also contributed to why I like inside peeks at what life is like for musicians.


I have a cousin who is the lead singer for the classic rock group ‘Trooper’. When Ra McGuire wrote HERE FOR A GOOD TIME: On the Road with Trooper, Canada’s Legendary Rock Band (Insomniac Press 2006), I loved being immersed in his experiences on tour.


Then I discovered Denise Jaden’s LIVING OUT LOUD YA series. There are currently six titles available, with a seventh coming soon. Today Denise reveals its cover:

The synopsis of PAPARAZZI:
Eli and the band can barely believe they’ve made it so far on the Hold That Note reality show, but thanks to Kass’s vision, they’re some of the last few competitors. Unfortunately, the profoundly-talented Fennel Winthrop has taken a liking to Eli, and with the amiable part they have to play in public, coupled with all of Kass’s insecurities surfacing in the wings, Kass and Eli can’t seem to hold a relationship together.

When the band expresses concerns about Eli’s focus, Kass and Eli are forced to keep their distance from each other. Kass focuses on her new job in order to be able to stay in town, while Eli gives his all to his band and the show.

But his all, without Kass by his side to inspire him, may not be enough.

You can pre-order Paparazzi today!

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While the LIVING OUT LOUD series is aimed at the young adult market, I’ve found the stories and characters intriguing. Perhaps it’s the fangirl in me — the wannabe musician, if you like — but there are complexities of both plot and personalities that make this an engaging series.

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A Non-review and Giveaway: ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES

I don’t often review books because I don’t feel comfortable passing judgment, negative or positive, on someone else’s writing. When I do recommend a book, it’s because I’m particularly enthusiastic about it.

rootbeercandyandothermiracles_websiteI’m enthusiastic about ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES, but you’re likely to think I’m biased because the author is my daughter, Shari Green, and that’s not true at all. Despite it being aimed at a middle-grade audience, I’ve read it twice and am likely to read it again. It’s that good. But since you probably still think I’m biased, I’ll just let you read other people’s reviews instead of reviewing it myself…

CM Magazine: “…a light-hearted yet evocative page-turner … Green’s writing is captivatingly visual, with seamless inclusions of figurative language … versatile as independent reading or as an engaging read-aloud.” 

School Library Journal: “Recommend this lovely and poignant novel to middle grade readers who enjoy coming-of-age stories.”

Canadian Children’s Book News: “Writing in verse, Green aptly captures the journey of a girl faced with her first real heartbreak—the likely dissolution of her family. Bailey’s openness to confronting her reality while still believing in the extraordinary adds to her charm, as does her growing realization that heartache affects many others in her life as well.”

 ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES is a verse novel but it’s not your typical metered and rhyming children’s book. You don’t think “poetry” as you read, only that the story streams vividly onto the pages, taking you into the Felicity Bay community where Bailey is spending a rather stressful summer.

It will come to pass
that a stranger from the sea
will change
everything.”

“The locals in Felicity Bay shake their heads at the ice cream man’s prophecy. “Crazy old Jasper,” they say. But Bailey isn’t so sure. She’s found something special down at the beach: a driftwood mermaid, a gift washed up from a storm. Could she be the stranger from the sea who has come to change everything? Bailey hopes so. Because this summer, she sure could use a miracle.”

hi-res-dPublished this fall by Pajama Press, RBCAOM is just the most recent of Shari’s successes. In 2010 she won first place in the Writing for YA category of the Surrey International Writers’ contest with her short story, IN LIEU OF A WARDROBE. After that she took some time to work on full length pieces and in October 2014 her YA novel FOLLOWING CHELSEA was published by Evernight Teen. In April 2015 Vine Leaves Press released FALLING FOR ALICE, a collection of five short stories by Shari and four other YA authors in celebration of the 150th anniversary of ALICE IN WONDERLAND.

Since then she’s had a very busy year.

  • September 2015 – TAKE ME TO THE SEA: an ocean-themed colouring book was published.
  • October 2015 – SANDBAGGING, a short story, won Honourable Mention in the SiWC writing contest.
  • January 2016 – CREATIVITEA: another colouring book was published, this one for tea lovers.
  • August 2016 – DOODLE SOUP: a “bit-of-everything” colouring collection was released.
  • October 12, 2016 – ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES, her verse novel, was published by Pajama Press.

And, coming up next spring…

dsc00373None of this sounds like bragging, does it? No, of course not, but I admit to being thrilled for all her accomplishments, not the least of which was last month’s Special Achievement Award presented to Shari by the Surrey Board of Trade at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference.

If you’d like to know more about Shari, you could head for her blog or check out her Bio here.

This brings me to the giveaway (for Canada and the USA only, please). If you would like to have your name put into the puppy bowl (it’ll be clean; I promise!) for the chance to win a paperback copy of ROOT BEER CANDY AND OTHER MIRACLES, all you have to do is leave a comment below. I’ll be drawing the winner’s name at the end of day next Thursday, November 24th (Thanksgiving Day in the USA!), and announcing it here on the blog on Friday the 25th (just one month before Christmas!)  🙂

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Review of Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries

Joylene Nowell Butler has done it again – written another excellent, ‘un-put-downable’ murder mystery. Her previous two, Dead Witness and Broken but Not Dead, are what I’d call psychological thrillers. Her latest novel, the sequel to Broken but Not Dead, Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries, is more of a police procedural while still providing a suspenseful probe into complex and troubled characters. It kept me enthralled right to the last page.

3d-matowak-woman-who-cries-by-joylene-nowell-butler

I’ll be taking part in Joylene’s virtual book tour next Friday, October 28th, with a sneak peek at Mâtowak, posting a chapter excerpt here for you. I guarantee it’ll whet your appetite and have you wanting to read more!

If you’d like to follow her book tour, you’ll find a schedule of the daily posts on Joylene’s blog, here.

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Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries

A murder enveloped in pain and mystery…

When Canada’s retired Minister of National Defense, Leland Warner, is murdered in his home, the case is handed to Corporal Danny Killian, an aboriginal man tortured by his wife’s unsolved murder.

The suspect, 60-year-old Sally Warner, still grieves for the loss of her two sons, dead in a suicide/murder eighteen months earlier. Confused and damaged, she sees in Corporal Killian a friend sympathetic to her grief and suffering and wants more than anything to trust him.

Danny finds himself with a difficult choice—indict his prime suspect, the dead minister’s horribly abused wife or find a way to protect her and risk demotion. Or worse, transfer away from the scene of his wife’s murder and the guilt that haunts him…

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Mâtowak: Woman Who Cries will release on November 1st and is currently available for pre-order in eBook at the following sites:

Amazon.ca
Amazon.com
Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C

The print copy is available for pre-order at:
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com

author-joylene-nowell-butlerJoylene lives with her husband and their two cats, Marbles and Shasta, on beautiful Cluculz Lake in central British Columbia. They spend their winters in Bucerias, Nayarit, Mexico.

For more on Joylene and her writing, visit her website and blog then connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and her Amazon Author Page.

 

Book Review — Jane Eyre: Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic, by K.M. Weiland

When I first read Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel, Jane Eyre, I took it as a Victorian romance, later realizing it was also a vaguely autobiographical account of a girl’s complex and difficult life, and a critique of the social issues of the period. I never imagined I would encounter the story again decades later and reread it as a highly effective teaching tool for writing fiction.

19336035In Jane Eyre: Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic, K.M. Weiland examines Brontë’s story from the unique perspective of an author and writing instructor, and reveals the many techniques that helped make it one of the most successful novels of its era and an enduring classic. Weiland not only identifies the techniques as the story unfolds, she thoroughly explains them.

Let me offer two examples:

In discussing characterization, following a section of dialogue a sidebar notation says, “Successfully using dialogue for characterization requires several ingredients,” and Weiland goes on to identify four – “(1.) Character voice, (2.) Choice of subject, (3.) Treatment of others, and (4.) Speaker tags and action beats.” She doesn’t just label these, but also expounds on each with specific references to how Bronte has used them in the text.

After another section of dialogue, Weiland points to Brontë’s inclusion of backstory and explains how and why it works so well. “To begin with, this conversation serves to keep the backstory front and center in the readers’ minds. Even as the main part of the story progresses, Brontë will continue to make references to the mysterious backstory. She never lets readers forget about it. She is also careful to introduce at least one new fact into each reference. She doesn’t rehash the same old information over and over. … Finally, she keeps the backstory fresh by weaving it into the body of the main story. Here she uses it to cement the foundation of the relationship that will grow between Jane and Rochester.

“Info dumps or lengthy flashbacks would only serve to slow down the story and sap the tension. But carefully placed clues offer just enough new information to keep readers panting after the truth.”

km-weiland-avatarKatie Weiland’s own writing is well crafted and easy to read in a conversational style that still manages to be concise and instructive. Her intimate familiarity with Charlotte Brontë’s classic story along with her extensive knowledge of the writing craft, have combined to produce a book that other writers will find extremely useful. It is not just another companion to the story of Jane Eyre, but a comprehensive guide to good writing that I believe should be on every writer’s bookshelf.

Jane Eyre: Writer’s Digest Annotated Classic by K.M. Weiland will be available at all major outlets upon release August 1st. Check it out on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and visit Katie’s website, Helping Writers Become Authors, for lots more information.

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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. 🙂

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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!

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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.

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

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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BOOK REVIEW: A NOBLE GROOM by Jody Hedlund

author-photo

Jody Hedlund

For someone who never used to read Christian fiction, I keep surprising myself by finding an increasing number of Christian novelists on my list of favourite authors. Jody Hedlund topped the list after the release of her debut novel, THE PREACHER’S BRIDE in 2010. Each year since then I have waited impatiently for, and eagerly consumed, her subsequent releases – THE DOCTOR’S LADY in 2011, UNENDING DEVOTION in 2012 and most recently A NOBLE GROOM, launched just last month.

Jody’s stories are historical romances, and the eras she draws from provide fascinating and authentic backdrops for her characters and their complex stories.  A NOBLE GROOM takes place in 1880, mostly in a rural German farming community surrounding Forestville, Michigan.

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About A NOBLE GROOM, from Jody’s website:

a-noble-groom-193x300“Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered but can’t prove it.

Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.

For nobleman Carl von Reichart, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He’s been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn’t commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he’ll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa’s farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor.

Annalisa senses that Carl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He’s gentle, kind, and romantic–unlike any of the men she’s ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love–but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all.”

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MY REVIEW:

Publishers Weekly says, “Hedlund intricately balances romance and drama…” but this is an understatement. More than balancing them, she weaves them together with breath-holding suspense, moments of danger and disaster, and the sweetness of a child’s trust. The sustaining faith of both Annalisa and Carl is evident, but there is no slick dishing out of the Christian message. Instead it plays out subtly in the motives and actions of the characters – a refreshing change from some Christian fiction where the stories are thinly veiled attempts to present salvation as the panacea to every dilemma.

While I found the romantic elements more dominant in A NOBLE GROOM than in Jody’s previous books, it isn’t at the expense of an exciting plot, well-developed characters or a vivid setting. They all entwined to keep me engrossed in the story from beginning to end. I highly recommend it.

The only problem with finishing it so quickly is once again I’m left impatiently waiting for Jody’s next book. REBELLIOUS HEART (where Susanna Smith and Ben Ross are caught up “in a very dangerous fight for justice” in 1763 Massachusetts), isn’t due for release until September. Another four months to wait! 😦

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Jody Hedlund is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency.

You can find Jody on her blog, along with reams of information for writers, or on Facebook and  Twitter.

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BOOK REVIEW: Christine Lindsay’s CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT

“Prisoners to their own broken dreams…

After a daring rescue goes awry, the parched north of India grows too hot for nurse Laine Harkness and her friend Eshana. The women flee to the tropical south…and run headlong into their respective pasts…. Amid cyclones and epidemics, clashing faiths and consequences of the war, will the love of the True Master give hope to these searching hearts?”

Christine Lindsay Captured by MoonlightCAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT, Christine Lindsay’s recently released second novel, is filled with such rich description that the scenes in its 1920s India setting really come alive. The exotic sights, sounds and smells create a vivid and very authentic backdrop for the dual love stories of friends Laine and Eshana.

This isn’t your typical inspirational romance. The story grips from the very start and carries the reader through bigger-than-life cultural challenges, kidnapping, secrets and many dangers… even an encounter with an injured tiger. The likelihood of either woman connecting with the man she loves seems remote.

There’s no slick resolution here, but a deeply satisfying story of God’s remarkable love for those who truly put their trust in Him.

CAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT is a stand-alone sequel to SHADOWED IN SILK, the first book in Christine’s “Twilight of the British Raj” series. Both come highly recommended.

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Christine Lindsay

Christine Lindsay

Click here to read Chapter One and Two of Captured by Moonlight

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Available now as Kindle ebook, and for pre-order in paperback from Amazon.com

Website:  http://www.christinelindsay.com/

E-mail:   Christine.lindsay.writer@gmail.com

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