Saturday, October 30, 2010

Book Review - In Every Heartbeat

In Every Heartbeat
by Kim Vogel Sawyer                                                   
Bethany House

Friends Libby Conley, Pete Leidig, and Bennett Martin grew up together in an orphanage in Shays Ford, Missouri, so it's fitting that they attend college together too. September 1914 ushers in a new and exciting chapter in their lives. Libby will major in journalism, Pete plans to study to become a minister, and Bennett plans on joining a fraternity.

An introduction to the campus sports star provides a rocky start, but they soon settle into the campus routine. Interesting adventures follow the trio, who spent their days at the orphanage climbing trees and getting into scrapes.

The transition from childhood buddies to adult friends proves challenging; redefining such lines can be difficult. As orphans, each one struggles with a sense of belonging. Their past lives  intersect with their future plans, particularly when Libby learns something about Pete's past. To further complicate things, Libby realizes that she loves Pete. But does he love her? And if so, where does Bennett fit into these changes?

It was interesting to see the story unfold as they dealt with memories and events. I looked forward to reading this; Sawyer always tells a great story. She keeps you on your toes from beginning to end. I was left wondering just a bit about one character at the end - no cliffhanger or anything like that. Just some room perhaps, for a future story. Otherwise it was a wonderful tale sure to please her fans and those who enjoy historical fiction.

What's on your "to be read" pile these days?


Many thanks to Bethany House for supplying this review copy. No compensation was received.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

P.S. The Rules

More on Rules for Writing

Thanks to all who provided input on Monday's post about writing rules! I value your thoughts, and appreciate the time it takes to stop by and comment.

It seems that I was on target with my short list, which included:

1) Practice writing
2) Stay connected
3) Keep learning
4) Give back

So what else?

Your two cents added up to more great guidelines:
  • Fighting and working through discouragement - several of you brought this one up.             
  • "Don't get the big head" (my paraphrase) - keeping that ego from thinking too highly of itself.
  • Read an assortment of things often, to enrich, provide a bigger worldview, and generate ideas.
  • Pray. Divine guidance. For me, always a given.
  • Let it rest. Don't be in a hurry to submit after the last word is typed. A new day provides fresh perspective.
  • Trim it up! Our best work has usually been cut, cut, and cut some more.
  • Keep a positive outlook. Ties in with fighting through discouragement.
  • Chill. Don't get defensive about feedback. Let it settle in and then process.
  • Chocolate. Yes! How could I have forgotten this one? Silly me.

Do you have anything else to add? When was the last time you were discouraged with your writing? What did you do about it?

 Have a wonderful weekend!



Photo credit: dbgeorge

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rules for Writers & a Winner

 Congratulations to Charlotte, the winner of A Memory Between Us, by Sarah Sundin! Thanks to all who stopped by for last week's interview and giveaway.


Rules? We Need Rules?

What are the key elements that help us get where we want to go? Is there a set of rules to follow? Is it different for every writer? I pondered this recently, and this is my short list. 

1) Practice - Practice makes perfect, and there's a whole lot to be learned on the road that leads to perfect. Matter of fact, destination "perfect" is always hovering on the horizon, and is it just me, or does it seem to move back each time I think I'm closer to it? We need to write, write, and write some more.

2) Keep Learning - No matter how much we know about writing, there's always something to learn. Another genre, another style, a new way to plot or plan, it's out there, with plenty to teach us. Read a writing book, take a class, attend a workshop, or visit a blog; the possibilities are endless. These things enrich our writing and help us move forward.

3) Stay Connected - Writing is a solitary profession and it's important to get beyond ourselves for a fresh perspective. Our words may seem amazing - in our heads, on the screen, on the page, but for true and lasting success, we need interaction and feedback. Join a writing group, connect with writers online or elsewhere, or attend a conference.

4) Give Back - Remember the writers who've helped you along the way? Sow a little kindness to other writers. Whether newbies or veterans or somewhere in between, we can all benefit from support. Take a few minutes and critique that article in your inbox, drop a note to your favorite author, share a good writing resource, or meet your frazzled writer friend for coffee. Your life and writing will be richer for it.

For additional thoughts on keys to writing success, check out author and editor Chuck Sambuchino's Four Golden Rules of Being a Writer. 

Did I miss anything? What are your rules for writing success? Please share!

Happy writing,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Review - Masquerade

Masquerade by Nancy Moser                  
Bethany House Publishers

Charlotte Gleason's privileged life has taught her little of the real world. Naive to the point of childlike, she has no clue what awaits on her upcoming journey to America. Her parents have arranged a marriage between her and a wealthy American heir by the name of Conrad Tremaine.

Conrad and Charlotte have never met; they've only exchanged letters. Charlotte is not impressed; she wishes to marry for love. Her parents however, require her to follow their directive. Financial and other indiscretions have placed her father in an awkward position in proper 1886 society. In order to secure Charlotte's future, she must marry Conrad.

Thankfully Dora Conners, Charlotte's personal maid, is much more savvy to the ways of the world. Due to Charlotte's mother's ill health, Dora goes to America with Charlotte. And because the Tremaines sent two first class tickets to America, Dora gets the added bonus of traveling as Charlotte's companion and not her servant.

The girls embark on a journey that changes their lives. Charlotte's nervousness gets the better of her and they switch places, with Dora acting as Conrad's intended bride. Oh. My. Goodness. Charlotte has no idea what she's set into motion or the consequences that follow. She will surely grow up now. Or will she? And what about poor Conrad, does he find love with Charlotte, who's really Dora...?

This tangled tale is skillfully woven as Nancy Moser illustrates how what happens when we try and order our lives as we think best. This is the first book I've read by Ms. Moser, and I am glad I had the opportunity to read it. Her characters come alive from page one and remain true throughout. I will keep an eye out for her books in the future.

Happy reading!
Many thanks to Bethany House, who provided this copy for review. No compensation was received.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Giveaway & Interview With Sarah Sundin


Happy Thursday! 

Today's post features an interview with author
Sarah Sundin. So glad you could join us. 

In addition to the interview, Sarah has offered a copy of her latest book, A Memory Between Us, to one of my readers. Be sure and check out the giveaway details below.

Karen: It’s good to have you back, Sarah. Congratulations on the release of A Memory Between Us! You must be excited about the second book in the Wings of Glory series.
Who is your favorite character in A Memory Between Us? Why?

Sarah: It has to be the heroine, Lt. Ruth Doherty. She fascinated me. On the surface she is so strong she doesn’t need another human being—and she has a great sense of humor. But underneath she has deep hurts and shame. It was fun for me to tease out what made her the way she is and to watch her change and grow.
Karen:I’m looking forward to reading Book Three. When will it be released? Can you tell us a little about it?

Sarah: Blue Skies Tomorrow releases August 2011—I’ve just seen a preview of the cover, and it’s gorgeous! Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him to court Helen Carlisle, a widowed mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work. The sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. Ray leaves to fly a combat tour at the peak of the air war over Europe, while Helen takes a job at a dangerous munitions yard and faces an even graver menace in her own home. Can they both find the courage to face their challenges? 

Karen: What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Sarah: Almost everything! I really enjoyed the historical research, to the point of getting ecstatic when I found copies of the pilot’s manual for the B-17 bomber and the Army Air Force B-17 training film. Sick, really. But I also love the pre-writing stage, the actual writing, even the editing. And my favorite part of all is when I’m deep in a scene and it flows.

Karen: What are your favorite fiction books? Non-fiction? 

Sarah: For fiction, I gravitate toward the classics, women’s fiction, and contemporary or historical fiction—and I love a romantic thread. I also enjoy a good suspense novel and anything with humor. I’m easy to please. That’s why I don’t write book reviews. 

My all-time favorites have to be Jane Austen’s books—she has it all—drama, romance, delicious humor, and wonderfully gooey endings. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction except for research—it feels too much like homework, and I read to relax and escape. Currently I’m reading Christa Parrish’s Watch over Me for fun and Medical Services in the Mediterranean and Minor Theaters for research. Quite a combo, huh?

Karen: Has your life changed much by becoming a published author? Are you ever recognized when you go out? How would you travel incognito if you had to?

Sarah: Life’s a bit busier as a published author. The nicest part is people take my writing more seriously. It used to be, “Isn’t it cute that you’re writing a book? Oh, and you have plenty of time since you’re home all day, so you wouldn’t mind doing such-and-such.” Now they’re more likely to see it as a career and understand my time constraints. I’ve had to make the same mental transition to career writer. Before publication, I spent long luxurious hours playing with my stories and chasing research rabbit trails. Now I have to be more efficient and focused to take care of research, writing, and publicity. 

As to being recognized—that’s really funny! Um…no. Although I had an incident this week that’s close. I attend a large church, and I teach a children’s church-type class for about a hundred fourth- and fifth-graders. This Sunday, one of the girls studied my nametag. “Did you write a book?” My jaw dangled. “Why, yes—I did!” “My mom read it. She loved it.” That made my day! 

Traveling incognito? Now I’m snickering. Should I get a big floppy hat and dramatic sunglasses and call everyone “daaaaarling?” 

Karen: Thank you for joining us again at Write Now! It’s been a pleasure. I am sure my readers would join me in wishing you success and blessings.

Sarah: Thank you!

For more info on Sarah and her books, click here.

Giveaway Details 

Please read carefully.
  • Leave a comment to this post, include your email address.Entries without email address are not eligible.
  • Receive an extra entry by becoming a follower, or by reminding me that you already follow.
  • Receive a bonus entry by posting about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook and/or Twitter. Please be sure and comment telling me so.
  • Deadline to enter is midnight Eastern Standard Time, Saturday October 23, 2010. Winner will be  notified via email and announced on Monday's post.       
  • This is open to US residents only. My apologies to those who follow outside the US.                                                                                                                                                                           What exciting things are happening in your neighborhood this weekend?                                                                                                                                                                                             Have a wonderful weekend!           Karen                                                                                                                                               

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Week With Sarah Sundin

Review, Interview, and Giveaway!
This week's featured author is Sarah Sundin, author of A Distant Melody and A Memory Between Us, Books 1 and 2 in The Wings of Glory series. Sarah's offered a copy of A Memory Between Us to one of my readers. Today's post includes my review, and Thursday's post will share a short Q & A with Sarah.

You might recall Sarah's visit earlier this year, when she shared her thoughts on writing and A Distant Melody. If you happened to miss those posts, click here.


A Memory Between Us finds Ruth Doherty and Jack Novak serving their country during World War 2. Both stationed in England, ace pilot Jack and conscientious nurse Ruth seem to have little in common. But when Jack is injured and becomes a patient in Ruth's ward, their futures begin to intertwine.

Ruth's tough outer shell conceals her need for friends and support. She can't seem to outrun her past and the shame that goes with it. Despite her challenges, her goal is to do her job well; her younger brothers and sisters in the states rely on her income. Jack's good looks give the impression that he has it all together. What could he possibly have to learn? A lot, it turns out, and both he and Ruth face trials that could make or break their character and integrity. As they get to know each other, their relationship is tested again and again. Do they have a future together? Only time will tell.

I marveled at Sarah's ability to tell this story in such an engaging and intricate way. The flight scenes with Jack and his crew are excellent. The research that was required to paint such a realistic picture was clearly extensive. Sarah accomplished quite a feat and tells a wonderful story. I enjoyed A Distant Melody and had hoped that A Memory Between Us was just as good. It was!

One thought - In A Memory Between Us, Sarah deals with an episode of physical abuse. I think that she handled it tactfully; it's an important element for the story. But you may want to preview the book before handing it over to your teens.

Sarah Sundin is among my new favorite authors. I can't wait till her next book comes out. Join us on Thursday, won't you, when she gives us a sneak peek at Book 3.

Giveaway Details - Please read carefully.
  • Leave a comment to this post, include your email address like so: karenelange(at)gmail(dot)com. Entries without email address are not eligible.
  • Receive an extra entry by becoming a follower, or by reminding me that you already follow.
  • Receive a bonus entry by posting about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook and/or Twitter. Please be sure and comment telling me so.
  • Deadline to enter is midnight Eastern Standard Time, Saturday October 23, 2010. Winner will be  notified via email and will have 36 hours to respond. Winner to be announced on Monday's post.       
  • This is open to US residents only. My apologies to those who follow outside the US.                                                                                                   
Have you ever read historical fiction set during World War 2? What do you think we can learn from historical fiction?

See you Thursday!


Monday, October 11, 2010


Unplugging for the week - I need to get reorganized and chill a bit after finishing a big project. Even have a bit of fall cleaning planned. Imagine that! :)

I invite you to stop by next week for a visit with Sarah Sundin. I'm reviewing her latest book, A Memory Between Us, and Sarah will be sharing some fun and interesting writing tidbits. We're having a giveaway too; she's generously offered a copy for one of my readers.

What are your plans for this week?

Will miss you all. See you soon!


Friday, October 8, 2010

A Little Coffee with Your Workshop?

Coffeehouse for Writers has an ongoing assortment of online workshops featuring instruction on historical fiction, blogging for profit, writing for children, magazine writing, creating character and more. Reasonably priced to suit the budget, offerings run from two day mini workshops to four and five weeks long.
I was asked to join the "Coffee Crew", and am pleased to announce that I will act as facilitator of one of their newest offerings. Basic Boot Camp for Writers begins Monday, October 11 and is designed to provide a refresher on basic writing and grammar elements for sharp and engaging writing. 
We'll discuss things like homophones, clauses, active versus passive voice, sentence variety, dialogue punctuation and a whole lot more. If you are interested in brushing up on the basics with fun writing prompts and assignments, I'd love to have you along. Hop over to the Coffeehouse to check it out!
Have a wonderful weekend. :)
Image credit: Ambrozio

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Book Review - Love's First Bloom

Love's First Bloom by Delia Parr
Bethany House Publishers      

Ruth Livingstone is on a mission, but not one she's chosen. Her father, Reverend Gersham Livingstone, is accused of murdering a prostitute in New York City. He sends Ruth to Toms River, New Jersey with a small package. The package is eighteen month old Lily, the prostitute's daughter. Few people know that the child exists; the Reverend wishes to keep her out of harm's way. Ruth is the solution.                              

Phanaby and Elias Garner take Ruth and Lily in, assuming that Ruth is a reformed prostitute in need of shelter. Ruth hates staying with them under false pretenses, especially ones that cast a shadow on her character. Lily is an unruly child, and it takes every ounce of stamina Ruth has to keep up with her. In addition, Ruth anxiously awaits news of her father's trial, fearing the worst but hoping for the best. Even in 1838, the media has all but convicted the Reverend prior to his trial.

Ashton "Jake" Tripp returns to New York City to make amends with his brother Clifford. Prior to their separation, Jake and Clifford worked together at their father's newspaper. Ego and bad judgement placed Jake in a scandalous situation and he fled the city, leaving Clifford to pick up the pieces and salvage the business. In an effort to win Clifford's trust and a position at the paper, Jake agrees to locate the daughter of Reverend Livingstone. Local papers report her disappearance and speculate that the Reverend murdered her as well.

Ruth and Jake's paths intersect in an interesting manner. Does Jake know who she really is? Ruth is wary of this reporter; can she trust him? How long will she deny her growing feelings for him? Will the good Reverend be acquitted and restore his reputation? Assorted events, interesting twists, and action provide the answers; you must read the book if you want to know what happens!

I wanted to read this book because I enjoyed Ms. Parr's Hearts Awakening. (To read my review of that book, click here.) It struck a chord with me, partly because the setting was near my birthplace in Pennsylvania. Beyond that though, her characters were real and engaging, and I expected the same with Love's First Bloom. I was not disappointed. Ms. Parr writes a lovely story that enables the reader to share Ruth's journey. If you like historical fiction of any sort, I think you might like this one.                                      

*This book was provided for review purposes from Bethany House Publishers. No compensation was received.

What intriguing characters have you read about lately?

Thanks for joining me, and have a wonderful weekend!



Monday, October 4, 2010

Miscellaneous Monday & The Preacher's Bride Winner

Congratulations to Susan Reinhardt, the winner of The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund! Thanks to all who participated; I'm glad you decided to stop by.

Writing Tips

Need manuscript advice? Editor Anica Mrose Rissi offers great tips in her Writer's Digest article, Nine Must-Follow Manuscript Rules. Rissi outlines what it takes to stay out of the slush pile, which is something all writers want to avoid. Love the principles here; I think that several apply to non-fiction too.

Here's another writing goodie I came across. Ask the Pro: Literary Agent Rachelle Gardner - Kara Ebhart Uhl interviews Rachelle Gardner and uncovers Rachelle's definition of a dream client, worst query, and biggest career surprise. (You might recall that Rachelle is Jody Hedlund's agent.)

Jean Fischer posts on Common Word Mistakes at her blog The Walrus and the Carpenter. Do you know the difference between lay and lie? How about farther and further? Hop over to see Jean and she'll straighten you out on that and a lot more.

FYI - Haven't forgotten about the 150 follower/200th post giveaway that I mentioned some weeks ago. Although perhaps now I should aim for 200 followers, as 150 seems to have come and gone. :) Soon, I assure you, and I have some nifty prizes to share. Stay tuned also for a visit with Sarah Sundin. Sarah spent time with us over the summer and will return to talk about her new book, A Memory Between Us, complete with a giveaway.

What a blessing to have such rich resources at our fingertips! Found any good resources lately?

Happy writing!