Thursday, January 30, 2014

Music Thursday: Life's Too Short

How are you today?
I hope well! I wanted to let you know that today I'll be seeing a stage production of Romeo and Juliet with my school today. That should be fun! Also, I was cast in a play at a local college. So, I have a lot to look forward to!
Anyway, today I am sharing an awesome song with you. It is from Frozen but wasn't in it! Enjoy "Life's Too Short."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bible Verse Wednesday: Don't Fear

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

Monday, January 27, 2014

Book Review Monday: Burning Sky

Hello, everyone!
This is my fourth Monday in a row with a book review. Woohoo!

Today I will be reviewing "Burning Sky" by Lori Benton. To start the post off, here is a blurb taken from the back of the book.

"Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life with the People. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path. Feeling obliged to nurse his injuries, the two quickly find much has changed during her twelve-year absence—her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.
When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal botanist who does not fit into in her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure.
Willa is a woman caught between two worlds. As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman called Burning Sky must find a new courage--the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again?"

My Thoughts:
The Idea:
I have not read a ton of books that deal with this time period, with the American frontier, but this made me want to read many more. I loved the whole concept of a white woman who was taken by Indians and now returned to her white world ten or so years later. 
This is Lori Benton's debut novel, and I assure you, it did not disappoint.
The descriptions were beautiful and the plot heart-wrenching. 

The Characters:
Willa, known as Burning Sky by her Indian family, was a very strong character. She has gone through an immense amount of pain in her life and is still trying to stay strong. When she heads back to her white family after her entire Indian family dies, she finds an injured man alongside the road and takes him in.
Neil is a Scottsman who works as a botanist. He is a very kind, godly man. I really admired him. He gets terrible headaches after being nearly scalped by an Indian, and he can no longer read or write. I really liked Neil.
Another character I found worth mentioning was Joseph Tames-His-Horse. He was an Indian who was always in love with Willa, but extremely disappointing when she was adopted into his clan, making her his "sister." He was an amazing person.

The Plot:
The plot was very strong. There was never really a dull moment. This was a fairly large chunk of reading, but I got it done in a normal amount of time. It held my interest and kept me guessing until the very end.

The Setting:
The setting was great. Like I said before, I haven't read a lot about the American frontier, but I really enjoyed this. The descriptions were very vivid. 

I loved reading this book! I cannot wait for more books by Lori Benton. I will add her to my watch list. :)

About the Author: 
Lori Benton was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history, creating a melting pot of characters drawn from both sides of a turbulent and shifting frontier, brought together in the bonds of God's transforming grace. When she isn’t writing, Lori enjoys exploring beautiful Oregon with her husband. - See more at:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bible Verse Sunday: We Will Serve the Lord

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua 24:15

Friday, January 24, 2014

Writing Friday: Two Interviews

First of all, as I am writing this on Thursday night, Swept to Sea is on the Bestseller List for the 9th day at number 75. I am so excited and can't thank you enough.

For today, I am going to share two interviews with you.

First of all, to find out a secret about me no one else knows, visit the "What's Beyond Forks?" blog by clicking here.

Now, to see the top five things on my bucket list, visit this blog.

Enjoy! If you have time, leave a comment on those sites, please. :) I would love to chat with you!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bible Verse Wednesday: Do Not Be Afraid

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent."
Acts 18:9

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Broadway Tuesday: Woman

Hello! I really love the musical The Pirate Queen. It really is awesome, and it has two of my favorites: Hadley Frasier and Stephanie J. Block.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Book Review Monday: The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet

Last week, you read my review of The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill.
I recently finished reading its sequel, The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet.

I'll go straight to the review. 

Here's a little bit about the book:

"For once, Ellie Sweet has it all together. Her hair now curls instead of fuzzes, she’s tamed the former bad-boy, Chase Cervantes (she has, right?), and her debut novel will hit shelves in less than a year. Even her ex-friends are leaving her alone. Well, except for Palmer Davis, but it can’t be helped that he works at her grandmother’s nursing home.

Life should feel perfect. And yet, it’s not that easy. Ellie’s editor loves her, but the rest of the publishing biz? Not so much. And they’re not shy about sharing their distrust over Ellie’s unlikely debut.

Ellie has always been able to escape reality in the pages of her novel, but with the stress of major edits and rocky relationships, her words dry up. In fiction, everything always comes together, but in real life, it seems to Ellie that hard work isn’t always enough, the people you love can’t always be trusted, and the dream-come-true of publishing her book could be the biggest mistake she’s made yet."

My Thoughts:
The Idea:
I absolutely love the idea of this novel. It is the sequel to the first Ellie Sweet novel by Stephanie Morrill, and it definitely did not disappoint. 
Ellie has a boyfriend, Chase, and her debut novel is about to come out. Her life is perfect, right?
But things keep going wrong. After she goes through a series of stressful events, she experiences a bout of writer's block and worries if she is doing the right thing by publishing her book.
The Characters:
The characters are extraordinary. I completely, one hundred-percent can identify with Ellie. We were both published at the same age, and she honestly acts just like me. I could understand everything she was going through. 
Chase is the "reformed" bad-boy, who is struggling with issues of his own. He finally got the girl he had been wanting for years, and yet their relationship struggles.
Palmer is still as dashing as ever, and is working in a nursing home over the summer--the same one that Ellie's grandma is in. He has stopped chasing every girl he sees, and has changed a lot as a person as he goes through some family struggles. I admired Palmer in this book. 
The Plot:
The plot was excellent. I could not put the down, and got it finished in a very short amount of time. I loved every twist and turn. 
It seemed very much like real life. 
The Setting:
The setting was great for the story. I enjoyed how the struggles of life in high school applied to Ellie and doubled the issues she faced. 
Overall, I really enjoyed the second Ellie Sweet novel!
I'm not sure if there is a third book planned to round it out into a trilogy, but I really hope there is. I loved the characters to death. I definitely recommend this book!

About the Author:
Stephanie Morrill lives in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately she discovered a passion for young adult novels and has been writing them ever since. 

Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog, GoTeenWriters.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bible Verse Sunday: Never Stop

Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
Acts 5:42

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Saturday: Swept to Sea is on the Amazon Bestseller List

Hello, everyone!
I am absolutely ecstatic telling you this. You may have heard on Facebook or Twitter that my debut novel, Swept to Sea, has been on the Amazon Bestseller List.
It fluctuates throughout the day, but as I am writing this, it is number 44 on the list!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Needless to say, I am sooooo thrilled.

You can view Swept to Sea by clicking here.

Now, I would love for you to help me promote. I would absolutely love it if you could do anything to help me. (Tweets, Facebook posts, Pinterest, etc.) You could create posts of your own or just like or share mine.

Just talking to your friends will help me.

If you want to do anything special like on a blog or anything else, you may contact me here.
For more information, you can see my press kit.

Thanks for everything you've done so far. You are amazing.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Writing Friday: Writing Book Reviews

Have you ever written a book review? 

Book reviews really help both authors and readers. The numbers look good and can even help your favorite author get his or her next book contract.  

How do you write a review?
You don't have to write anything long. It can just be a sentence or two, even. All you have to do is say what you thought about the book. It's as simple as that.

If you want to go for a longer review, you can mention what the book is about, and specific things you liked or made you think. Some people break it down into sections like the plot, the characters, the setting, and the writing. 

I personally recommend not reviewing a book if you did not like it. 

So, what do you do once you have a review written?

Post it everywhere. Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and any other cite you can think of. If you have a blog, post it there. Post the link to your review on all social media sites. 

Now what?

Read another book! :)

Have you written a book review before? Do you plan to?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Music Thursday: South Pacific

I really, really love South Pacific. It has a gorgeous setting, strong characters, and a gripping plot. It is fantastic! So, enjoy a Tony Awards performance from the talented cast of South Pacific. Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bible Verse Wednesday: A New Heart

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Broadway Tuesday: Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Hello, everyone! Because I really, really love Frozen, and most everyone who has seen it so far also does, I thought I'd share another song from it with you. This one is really cute.
Do you want to build a snowman?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Book Review Monday: The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet

Hello, my friends!

I have a review of a different kind of book for you today. I have known this author for a long time from her Go Teen Writers blog and Facebook group. Then, I happened to find out that we live pretty close to each other, and we are in the same local writer's group. I finally got to meet her at a book signing last month.

I finished reading The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill a couple days ago and absolutely loved it. Here's a little about it:

"Ellie Sweet is a lot of things—good girl, novelist, silent adorer of the new boy at school, Palmer. But when “outcast” gets added to the list, she decides it’s time to take reality into her own hands … and tweak it as needed.

In the pages of her book, she’s Lady Gabrielle, favorite of the medieval Italian court. Her once-friends are reduced to catty ladies-in-waiting, and the too-charming Palmer—who in real life never spares her a second word—gets to be nothing more than a rake wracked by unrequited love for her. She even has a perfect real-life villain in the brooding Chase, who hails from the wrong side of town.

But just when she’s getting along great in her fictional world, the real one throws her a few curves. With Chase pursuing her, Palmer wanting to date her—but in secret—and the details of her manuscript going public, Ellie suddenly receives more attention than she ever really wanted. And when her former-friends discover what she’s been writing, they’re determined to teach Ellie a lesson about the severe consequences of using her pen as her sword."
My Thoughts:
The Characters:
I absolutely adored these characters. Ellie Sweet is just like me, so I really connected to her. I'm also a teenage author who got published at age sixteen! So many details in her life were exactly like mine. The author did an excellent job letting the reader understand the mind of a young author.
Chase was a very well-written character. He was the "bad-boy" type, and yet he had many edges like a real person does. I liked him throughout the book, even if I didn't agree with some of the choices he made.
Palmer was very sweet, and I liked reading about him. However, he faced real issues that real people do, making him very believable.

The Plot:
I literally could not put this book down. I kept turning the pages, and one night I told myself I would only read one chapter because I had work to do. I ended up reading four. This book had an excellent plot that left me craving  the sequel.

The Setting:

I normally never read books in this setting. I am used to reading historical novels. However, this book was so good, and the setting was executed so perfectly, that it left me wanting to read more modern YA books. I really enjoyed this novel.

I adored this book and recommend it. I loved every single page, never got bored, and adored the characters. 

About the Author:
Stephanie Morrill lives in Overland Park, Kansas with her husband and two kids. Her only talents are reading, writing, and drinking coffee, so career options were somewhat limited. Fortunately she discovered a passion for young adult novels and has been writing them ever since.

Stephanie is the author of The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series and The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet. She enjoys encouraging and teaching teen writers on her blog,

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bible Verse Sunday: Good

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
 Romans 8:28

Friday, January 10, 2014

Writing Friday: Marketing

Hello, friends!
Usually on Fridays I talk about writing, but today I'm going to talk about something that usually goes along with

Most authors, whether traditionally published by a large or small press, or self-published, have to deal with marketing.
And as-of-yet-unpublished authors get to look forward to it in the future of their writing career, so it may be useful to start paying attention to marketing now.

Now, are you here to just read up on your marketing strategies? That may not be a great idea. Because just a few months ago, before my novel was published, I had no idea about how to market. I used Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, and may have thought I knew what I was doing, but I did not.
And to tell you the truth, I am still not sure what I am doing.

My advice to writers: research, research, research marketing over time. I tried to cram a lot of info about marketing in at once and that resulted in a horrible headache. I don't recommend it. Sometimes, when I think about all the marketing things I need to prepare, I stress out. It can be pretty scary! But if I look at everything in little bits, it is much less overwhelming.

Some things I have done so far:
1. Ordered some pens, magnets, postcards, and business cards from Vistaprint. These are awesome for in-person events.
2. Sent out press releases to local media.
3. Put together a list of local schools and libraries I want to speak at.
4. Scheduled some guest blog posts/interviews.
5. Scheduled reviewers to review my novel and put their review on their blog.
6. Created a press kit and put it on my blog. (Find it here)

Now, I plan to do more to market Swept to Sea, but this is what I have done so far.

Have you tried your hand at marketing? What worked, and what didn't? If you haven't done any marketing, what part sounds like the most fun/least fun to you?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Music Thursday: Colored Women

Hello, everyone!
Today I will share a song from Memphis with you.

Enjoy "Colored Women" performed by the talented Montego Glover.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bible Verse Wednesday: Do Not Dwell On the Past

Isaiah 43:18-19 
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland."

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Broadway Tuesday: Think of Me

Hello, friends!
Today I am sharing a song with you from one of my favorite musicals, Phantom of the Opera.

What are your favorite musicals? If you comment some of your favorite, I will try to post some songs from them in the future.
For now, enjoy "Think of Me"!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Book Review Monday: Gunpowder Tea

Hello, everyone!
Sadly, for me today I go back to school, and a lot of people go back to work. :(

**Update** school was cancelled today. Yay!!!

Anyway, today I have a review for you because I got a fair amount of reading done over break.

Here's a little bit about Gunpowder Tea by Margaret Brownley

"In a case that could change her career, Miranda uncovers a love that will change her life.
When Miranda Hunt sees the classified ad for an heiress to the legendary Last Chance Ranch, she knows assuming the identity of Annie Beckman is the perfect cover. As one of the finest agents for the Pinkerton Detective Agency, Miranda has been tasked with apprehending the Phantom - an elusive and notorious train robber thought to be hiding on the sprawling ranch. 

But she isn't the only one there with something to hide. Wells Fargo detective Jeremy Taggert is working the scene undercover as well. And although their true identities are a secret, it is impossible for Jeremy and Miranda to hide the spark that flares between them.  

But neither is about to let romance interfere with such a huge case. Besides, Miranda hasn't removed Jeremy from her list of suspects yet. The closer they come to uncovering the identity of the Phantom, the more dangerous he gets - and no one on the ranch is safe. 

But neither are their hearts - the longer Miranda and Jeremy spend working together, the harder it becomes to keep their feelings in check. Their careers - and their lives - depend on solving this case. Love will have to wait."

My Thoughts:
The Characters:
I absolutely loved the characters. Miranda is a very strong young woman who is used to taking care of herself. She is brave during all of her Pinkerton assignments. I really admired her!
Jeremy was also a lovely character. He is a dashing Wells Fargo detective, working on a case that he has personal ties to.
I loved seeing these characters interact with each other, and how their interactions changed over time.
The Plot: 
The plot was great. There was never a dull moment, and I kept turning the page. I loved the whole idea of two detectives from different agencies looking for the same thing. I kept wondering throughout the whole book who the mysterious Phantom was!
The Setting:
The setting was fabulous. I'm a sucker for westerns. I loved the whole idea of Miranda pretending to be an heiress to a ranch. The secluded setting raised the stakes and made the dangers seem much more dangerous. 
Overall, I adored this story. It was the third in a trilogy, and I have not read the first two. I think that it stands alone just fine, but there were references to the past two that made me want to read them. I think that in the future I will be reading those two.
This was a story filled with mystery, danger, and romance, and I loved every bit of it. 

About the Author:

Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this--except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter at the time. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction."
So that's what Margaret did. She's now a New York Times bestselling author and a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 25 novels to her credit. Her first non-fiction book "Grieving God's Way: the Lasting Path to Hope and Healing" has won much critical acclaim. She is currently working on the third book in her "Brides of Last Chance Ranch series."

Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don't ask her to diagram a sentence.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bible Verse Sunday: Praise

I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High. 

Psalm 9:2

Friday, January 3, 2014

Writing Friday: Research

Hello, everyone!

As an author, research is part of my everyday life. My books need to be historically accurate so I don't make my readers upset with me.

Authors who don't write historically face this same task. If a story is set in a particular city, the streets names should be accurate, along with the atmosphere of the city. This goes for many other aspects of modern writing.

As a historical author, research might be even more important to me than it is to authors who write in other genres like fantasy, where the author completely creates his or her own world. To get myself understanding the feel of the period I’m writing in, I will usually select a few fiction works that take place during roughly the same time and read through them. Next, I will think through the basic plotline I have set out for my book. Are there any parts where the setting will directly affect my events? Recently, I was researching a city for the sequel to Swept to Sea, and learned that just a few years prior to the year my novel took place, there was a terrible earthquake that destroyed nearly everything in sight. If I hadn’t caught this, my story would have been historically inaccurate! Instead of letting this historical fact discourage me, I worked it into my story. I made it affect my characters’ lives and even gave one of my characters a scar from the encounter. This helped round out my characters and give them more depth.

After these initial researching steps, I usually go ahead and write my novel without worrying about research. If I run into something I want to learn more about, I will jot down a note and look it up later. When I go through the editing process, I make sure that everything seems historically accurate, so my characters don’t use a term or an object that was around after they were.

The research process can sometimes seem very long and tedious, but I find that if I break it up into smaller sections, I can get where I want to be.

How do you research? Do you like the research process, or not?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Music Thursday: In Summer

Hello, everyone! I hope you are having an excellent new year.

Today, since it is so cold out, I thought I would share another song from Frozen, and you can imagine what it is like in the summer. ;)

Here is "In Summer" from Frozen.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Bible Verse Wednesday: Happy New Year!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17