How precious are Your thoughts to me, O LORD ... how vast is the sum of them!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Free Short Stories

Until December 1, two of Amanda Tero's short stories, Coffee Cake Days and Debt of Mercy, are free on Amazon!  

Meg has finally graduated and has the time she’s dreamed of for months: time to “sit at the feet of Jesus” and soak up His Word as she seeks what future plans He has for her. She soon runs into a problem: her family. Unwanted interruptions and household duties tear her away from the time she longs to spend in the Bible. Journey with her as she strives to learn the balance of spending time in God’s Word and applying it to her daily life.

Raboc’s eyes narrowed to slits and he thrust his arm forward until his fingers closed around Ancel’s throat. The young man knew better than to resist the powerful lord, but his jaw clenched. “To the dungeon with you. Guards!” “Lord, have mercy,” Ancel pleaded. “Give me time and I shall pay the other half.” 
A medieval retelling of the parable in Matthew 18.

About Amanda Tero:
Amanda Tero is a homeschool graduate whose desire is to provide God-honoring reading material that challenges the readers to consider their walk with God. She has currently published several short stories which can be found on Amazon on her website.


Writing website | Facebook | Blog | Goodreads | Amazon

Amanda Tero writes challenging and faith-filled stories that are really worth looking into! I've enjoyed and been affected by every one of the stories I've read by her!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Black Friday Weekend Sale

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you were blessed by being able to celebrate according to the true meaning of the day.

“O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” Psalm 136:1

Today we’re talking about books. One of the things I’m thankful for is great books…for this post, I picked five 2015 reads that I’m thankful for. (Around the last post of the year I’ll have a top fifteen most impacting books list! This is something different.)

1. The Secret Gift by Ted Gupp. This book was an answer to an unspoken prayer. It relates a real-life Great Depression story that takes place in Canton, Ohio, the setting of my Great Depression novel. It was an invaluable resource. I found it by “accident” when I was researching 1930s Canton.

2. The Scent of Water by Elizabeth Goudge. This was my first introduction to an incredible author who God uses to refresh my spirit.

3. The Dean’s Watch by Elizabeth Goudge. My second Goudge novel. Same reason as above!

4. Amazing Grace by Faith Blum. I had the privilege of proofreading this touching and entertaining book.

5. A Commentary on the Jewish Roots of Romans by Joseph Shulam. This was enjoyably elucidating to my study of the Bible.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to another great year of reading! Speaking of more reading, here’s one more thing to be grateful for: books on sale! In honor of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a group of independent Christian authors banded together to offer over seventy discounted books on November 27–30. There’s literally something for everyone.

Every single book listed on Indie Christian Books is on sale in one or more ways. Find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals and more. Even if you have a budget of $0, new reading material awaits you.

Don’t know what to pick? The fearless Indie Christian Books team created a quiz that will generate a book list perfect for you! Check it out!

What awesome reads of 2015 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?

A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Leah E. Good  for her work organizing this sale, Gloria Repp for completing the time consuming job of uploading book info to the sale website, and Hannah Mills   for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at  hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu  for more information about her design services.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Book Release: Grace Triumphant

I’ve been anticipating the release of Alicia A. Willis’s newest novel, Grace Triumphant, ever since I heard she was going to write it. I was privileged to be a beta reader for it, and now that release day is here, I can heartily recommend this wonderful book! 

Profligate London, 1788. Slave ships haunt the seas, bearing human cargos to further the wealth of the rich and destroy the souls of the slave traffickers.

Russell Lawrence is an avid skeptic. Captain of the slave ship Barbados, wealthy, and a respected leader, he views religion as a crutch for the weak. But when the debauchery of the slave trade begins to destroy his good morals, his battle becomes more than fighting pirates and mutineers. What if there really is a God?

Impressed as a cabin boy, Jack Dunbar sees his forced service on the Barbados as a God-given opportunity to witness Christ to the crew. But his efforts to influence the hardened slavers seems to be doing little good. How is it possible to live as a Christian on the sin-ravaged seas? Can his light shine bright in Africa's dark interior?

Back in Grosvenor Square, Elizabeth Grey battles opposition from society and her self-seeking fiancé. Her work with John Newton to end the slave trade is being harshly attacked. She faces life branded as a jilter and radical if she stands up for what she believes in. Will she ever glean the strength to call sin by its rightful name?

A tale of adventure on the high seas, redemption, and faith. Sin abounds. Is grace enough to conquer doubt and triumph over evil?

My review: This is one powerful book. It totally immersed me in the lives of Russell, the young slave ship captain who denies God; Jack, the Christian cabin boy abducted from a life on the London streets and impressed into service; and Elizabeth, the young Christian abolitionist who must marry a heartless man of the world. Scenes alternate between their points of view. I pondered and learned and worried along with them. Their fates kept me guessing to the very end! How God shone in their lives is something you have to read for yourself. 

All the other characters seemed like real people, too—Isaac, Roger, Cedrick, William, Walter, Anne…each one was well developed. And it’s thrilling whenever the real real people, John Newton and William Wilberforce, make appearances! The history behind this pivotal point early in the battle for abolition of the British slave trade is fascinating. Miss Willis was just right to choose this time. 

As I write this review and think back, I’m amazed at the intricacy and ingenuity of the plot—everything that happened, how it all tied together, how so many scenes left me hanging and wanting to know what would happen next. The only scenes that occasionally seemed static were Elizabeth’s, but I think that’s because her life was quieter and thus it seemed to take her longer to learn what God was teaching her. But everything, everything, that occurred was interesting and involved me fully with the characters. 

Ms. Willis certainly accomplishes her goal of showing how we can live as Christians and shine our light in a dark place, even if nothing seems to come of it. Grace Triumphant was very, very sobering for me. It was so realistic, and set in a familiar setting to me, both because the era and its struggles resembles our own, and because I’ve read so much about 18th century Britain. I admit I felt sobered almost to the point of depression, thinking of how much suffering there is and was in this world, and how few seek God. It’s a reality check and a clarion call to shine our light. Read this book, but be prepared for a serious look at your faith. I am so thankful for yet another of Ms. Willis’s God-honoring and life-changing historical novels.

View the trailer here.  

Learn more about Alicia A. Willis and her books by visiting her blog. And...enter a giveaway for an e-book copy of Grace Triumphant! To place entries, comment and tell me how many of the following you did or answer the questions I posed (you only need to comment once). I will add up your entries and do a drawing Tuesday, December 1.    

  • Add Grace Triumphant on Goodreads. 
  • Follow Alicia A. Willis on Goodreads.
  • Like Alicia A. Willis on Facebook.
  • Follow Alicia's blog
  • Share about this giveaway on any social media site.
  • Answer the question: What is your favorite historical time period?
  • Answer the question: What do you think is the most powerful thing we can learn from history?
Update: Tuesday, December 1 - The giveaway is now over. Thanks for your entries! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Beautiful Books: The Writing Process

For those of you who write, have you ever joined in the Beautiful Books/Beautiful People link-up by Further Up and Further In? I’ve done it just once or twice, but it’s really quite enjoyable! November, as national novel writing month, shines the focus on your work-in-progress.

First, an update: While I’m not officially participating in NaNoWriMo, I have been using the motivation of this literary month to apply myself to my WIP, Suit and Suitability. And it’s going well, praise God! My goal is 25,000 words (half the 50,000 NaNo count), and amazingly, I’m ahead of schedule. I wasn’t expecting this, because so many individual days of my past writing life have felt defeating, as I either didn’t write at all, or rejoiced at word counts of 800 words or so max. And, each day this November save one, I’ve written more than that, and with comparative ease, too. Don’t you just love it when the words flow effortlessly, through no struggle of your own? So far I’ve logged two days exceeding the daily NaNo word count—1,692 and 1,715. I am so grateful to God for giving me clarity of mind as I forge forward with this novel.

And now for the fun stuff—Beautiful Books: The Writing Process!

1.    Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?
It’s mostly turning out how I thought it would. I had a vague knowledge of what needed to happen to my characters once they reached New York, but having to write so much has forced me to make something concrete out of that vagueness.
2.    What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
This may or may not be the absolute first two paragraphs, and I may or may not be happy with them, but…here you go:
“Yes, we find him guilty.”  
      The foreman of the jury’s voice was deep, level, and emotionless; it sounded so uncannily like Ellen’s father’s that she could almost believe her father was convicting himself. The foreman looked nothing like him, though—short, paunchy, and dark-haired to her father’s blond hair and straight, well-built form.
3.    Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?
I am a plotter and haven’t even attempted being a panster. The latter goes against the grain of almost every piece of my personality, so I doubt I could get very far by trying it. Maybe I will, one day, just to see…and who knows? The results may be surprising!
4.    What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?
Feeling a deep joy that I can’t really explain, and then telling people about reaching the goal, hoping they’ll rejoice with me. : )
5.    What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?
Since Suit and Suitability is a retelling of Sense and Sensibility, I’ve mostly adapted my characters’ names from the original novel, with a 1930s “flair”—Ellen, Marion, Greta, and Everett are my favorites. (If you’ve read Jane Austen’s classic, do you recognize Elinor, Marianne, Margaret, and Edward?)
6.    What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
I have the most experience with middles, because they make up the vast majority of my writing…but I would say either middles or ends. Beginnings worry me…I never know if I’m including too much or too little!
7.    Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
Ellen Dashiell, the protagonist. She’s based, of course, off Elinor Dashwood, perhaps my favorite literary character ever.
8.    What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)
Good question! S&S requires a lot of research, being set in the thirties. Let’s see…I’ve researched the Great Depression; Canton, OH (I was even blessed to do that on location!); theatre, Broadway, and movies; secretaries; typewriters; houses; New York; trains; cars; education; fashion (yum!); books; telegrams…to name a few things. The weirdest thing? Um…I’m not sure. Maybe the typewriters—figuring out exactly what model Ellen (a secretary) used and loved. Or perhaps it was the senior play of 1935 at Canton’s McKinley High School that Marion (an actress) lost her chance to star in (it was “Secrets,” based off a movie by Mary Pickford).
9.    Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?
Alone. Definitely alone. But I do share my work…though only when it passes my approval, usually after one or two readings.
10.    What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
I don’t usually eat while I write; it distracts me. If I do, it’s tea or fruit. Nope, no music…it distracts me. : ) I seem to write best at night, or afternoon. Usually 8:00pm to 10:00pm. As for other writing habits…a bad habit of mine is to have an internet tab open where I sneak to when my writing drags. The guilt steps in quickly, though, and I scurry back before I lose complete momentum. I don’t have a picture of my writing space, but I do have a video! (No, I’m not an over-achiever…I had to do that for an author program I did over the summer. Here is the YouTube link if you're really interested: My Writing Space.)

That was fun! Feel free to join in. If you don’t wish to do a whole post, how about answering a few of your favorite questions in the comments? I’d love to hear them! And if you’d like to check out more writers’ questionnaires, go to Further Up and Further In to see the link-up list!

And I almost forgot! Amanda Tero at is doing a giveaway of four e-books by indie authors, including one of mine. The giveaway ends in three days, so if you’re interested, check it out right away! 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Kate's Innocence Blog Tour!

Today my blog has the privilege of being one of the final stops on the Kate’s Innocence blog tour. Kate’s Innocence is the first book of a brand new series by Sarah Holman, Kate’s Case Files

What would you do if you were accused of a crime you didn’t commit?

Kate watched as her campus was torn apart by bombs and now is being accused of perpetrating the crime. As the evidence quickly stacks up against her, she begins to lose hope that the truth will come to light. Even though the handsome FBI Agent, Patrick, has taken up her cause, will they be able to prove her innocence? Will God, who she neglected for so long, listen to her prayers for help?

Patrick is an agent with a very special team of agents. He wants to help Kate prove she is innocent, but as each new piece of evidence is revealed, that goal seems harder. He wonders why he feels so compelled to help her and so sure she is innocent despite the evidence. Will he be willing to put his job on the line to help her? Can he trust in God to make sure the truth will come out in the end?

My review: The book is as intriguing as it sounds! I love a good mystery, and Kate’s Innocence really delivered—it kept me guessing until the very end, and I do mean the very end (as in the last page or two!). The ending was one of my favorite parts, actually, because of the brilliant manner in which it opened the way for more books.

But I’m getting ahead of myself (obviously, because I’m already talking about the ending!). What captured my attention even more than the mystery were the characters. The whole FBI team was made up of well-drawn and interesting people. No-nonsense head agent Thomas, humorous Brian, quirky Logan, steady Kim, and chivalrous Patrick were all young, energetic, fun (well, Thomas could use a little help in that department!), and very serious about their job. Patrick had a good character arc (as the second paragraph of the synopsis explains).

Kate, though, was probably my favorite character. Though she was rude and tough at times, it was realistic given how much pressure she was under and the kind of background she had. She intrigued me, because segments of her life are actually left a mystery to us for now. I felt sorry for what she was going through, yet I did identify with her commitment to neatness, healthy eating, and staying in shape, and I also appreciated the struggle she went through about wondering where God is, and her guilt over neglecting Him. That, too, is very realistic, and I look forward to seeing where Kate goes next with the lessons she’s learning.

Believe it or not, another of my favorite parts was the note from the author at the end. It gives quite a bit to chew on!

In the end (speaking of endings), I really enjoyed this book and look forward to more in the series. There aren’t a whole lot of clean, Christian crime-fighting books out there that young people can get into. Ms. Holman has done an excellent job coming up with this storyline, with adventures that Kate and the FBI agents go through and the way they have to rely on God!

To view previous stops on the blog tour and learn more about the author, visit The Destiny of One (Sarah Holman’s blog). You’ll find book reviews and articles from the author about the story and the characters. 

And finally…a giveaway! Click on the image to enter.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Book Review: Ryan and Essie

Just lately I’ve been awakened to learning more about the stars, so this wonderful science fiction novel for kids, which involves a journey into the mysterious reaches of outer space, was a read I was eager to dive into. 

Sarah Scheele's tale starts out in a normal enough world: Ryan and Essie meet at an observatory in Texas, where Ryan spends a lot of time because his dad is an astronomer and which Essie, who is home schooled, visits on a field trip with her parents. The two kids are complete opposites and really start off on the wrong foot. Studious, arrogant Ryan and overly outgoing Essie are probably the most realistic average modern-day middle-schoolers I’ve ever read. They certainly have their faults and are sometimes downright nasty to each other, but the way they interact and argue is rather entertaining. I cared about them and wanted to see them friends…if left unchecked, kids that age get so wrapped up in themselves they don’t realize the need to understand other people. And that’s what the relationship part of the story is largely about—kids learning how to respect each other. And the way Ryan and Essie learn is a way no child reading this will soon forget.

Ending up on a space shuttle through Essie’s thoughtlessness, and getting sucked into a wormhole, also via Essie’s thoughtlessness, the kids end up at a planet called Caricanus. There they are plunged into an adventure involving alien royalty, magical pillars, the fates of planets, and astonishing discoveries about themselves. I’m somewhat of a dunce when it comes to the names of places and “people” groups in science fiction, so I was a bit lost when there were so many to remember, but I doubt scifi lovers will have a problem with that.

The suspense kept me turning pages, the characters were funny and had snappy dialogue, the foreign galaxy was fun to imagine, and the ending made me tear up. The book includes biblical allusions and a strong lesson that kids won’t even know they’re learning until wham! And then they’ll care so much about the story and be so happy at the conclusion that they’ll care about the message.

I agree with another reviewer: Ms. Scheele’s narrative style in this book reminds me of C. S. Lewis’s (and other classic author’s) children’s books. Think of characters like Edmund and Eustace. Readers can stand back and recognize (even be entertained by) the foibles of the characters, but still follow along and care about what happens. It’s a good style for children, I think, because the kids aren’t encouraged to have the same wrong feelings as the protagonists. At the same time, however, there isn’t enough distance to make readers feel like they’re reading from leagues above these characters, either.

Sorry…there I go philosophizing about writing styles. But anyway, I recommend this fun book for kids who like science fiction or fantasy, say from age eight to fourteen or so, or really, for any age—it’s one that adults and young adults like me can enjoy!
I was provided a free copy of this book for my unbiased review.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Reader's Poll

Hey bibliophiles! Are you looking for good deals on good books? This Black Friday, at least 23 Indie Christian authors with 71 books in a plethora of genres will be putting their books on sale!

To make this the best sale for you we've put on yet, we need your help. Please take a moment to complete this quick reader survey. We appreciate it so much! Be prepared for an exciting array of book possibilities in a couple of weeks...

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Going for Goals

Happy November! Among writers this month is a big event called National Novel Writing Month, or, NaNoWriMo. Or, if you want an even shorter designation, NaNo. Every writer who participates makes it their goal to write at least 50,000 words in the thirty days of November. Breaking it down into daily chunks, that’s 1,667 words a day.

I’m not participating. I write too slowly. I think I may have written 1,667 words in one day before, just to see what it was like, if I could do it…and it was torture. I know my limits, and I don’t like failing, so, no NaNo for me. I’ve made it my informal goal to write as much as I can every day this month, to see if I can finish my work-in-progress (Suit and Suitability). So far I’ve written 1,689 words, and hopefully I’ll add to that in a writing session tonight. (And, hey! I just thought of this. Doesn’t this blog post count?)

But aren’t people who do participate, and who win, fascinating? I find them fascinating and I cheer them on. Gritting your teeth and giving a month-long shove to get your story rolling is admirable. Writing goals in general are definitely a must if you’re ever going to finish something. I find that, for me, knowing exactly what’s going to happen next in the plot is the key to getting a big word count in every writing session.

So, what types of goals do you set to pull yourself along on a writing project? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? If so, how is that going for you?