5 Things Every Book Lover Needs

Sep27

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5 Things Every Book Lover Needs

As an avid reader and bibliophile, I love little more than spending an afternoon curled up with a book or strolling through the stacks of a library or bookstore. Now that the weather is beginning to hint at fall, rather than pumpkin spice lattes, I want to talk about the perfect season for curling up with a favorite book. So what does the ultimate bibliophile need? Here are a few items. What does a #bibleophile need? @Cara_Putman has 5 suggestions. #amreading Click To Tweet A 25th hour in a day. A book lover never has enough time to read all of the books tottering in their to-be read pile or languishing on the online wishlist. So if we’re going to do all the other activities demanded of us, we need another hour to allow us to enjoy a book uninterrupted. Otherwise, we are forced to read while brushing our teeth, blow-drying our hair, in five minute snippets while waiting for our kids, etc. You get the idea. When reading is like oxygen, we will do it. It just won’t be easy. Bookshelves. Many, many more bookshelves. Remember the towering to-be-read pile? Those books must go somewhere. And somewhere they will go. Under the bed, beneath the car seat, on counters and surfaces all over the house. But this leads to a significant problem: where-on-earth-did-I-hide-that-book? This is disaster when the plot is getting good, and the tension is thick. A nice fat savings account for frequent depletions at all manner of bookstores. While some people are addicted to vices, we are addicted to the written word. Many of us love the glow of our Kindle. Or we adore the feel of a paperback. We love the smell of the paper. We delight in the heft of a hardback. It’s a weight-lifting regimen, folks. Trust me, you are lifting weights and building muscle with every time you pick up a book and flip a page. Think of all the calories you are burning. Significant I assure you. A ready supply of bookstores. This one can be a real challenge depending on where you live. Some people are known to journey for hours to reach the nearest book oasis. When it is reached, the bibliophile must be enticed from the nirvana state with lattes. Lots and lots of lattes. An extensive selection of bookmarks. All sizes, colors, shapes. Stashed in multiple locations. When those disappear, a ready supply of post-it notes will suffice because nothing is worse than losing one’s place or dog-earing a page. Books may be underlined, they be written in, they may be doodled in. However, they may not be dog-eared. It is not okay. Never. Ever. Just don’t do it. What would you add to this must have list?...

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Fiction Friday: Meet Melissa Tagg

Sep23

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Fiction Friday: Meet Melissa Tagg

Today I am delighted to introduce y’all to one of my favorite writer people, Melissa Tagg. Melissa has this infectious joy that simply makes her a delight to be around. She is bright, incredibly gifted as a writer, and has this heart that is after God. I love her! Can’t you just see the joy in her smile? Anyway…She has a new book, Keep Holding On, releasing this month, and here’s a link to the first chapter. I’m also doing a giveaway at the end. I asked Melissa if she would join us for a quick Q&A. She graciously agreed. So without further ado, here’s Melissa. Love #chrisfic #romcom? ? @Cara_Putman recommends @Melissa_Tagg. #giveaway of her latest #ebook now. Click To Tweet We’re going to start with an easy question: what’s your favorite writer fuel?  Okay, this is going to sound terribly cliché but it’s the truth: coffee. Actually, beverages in general. I like to have a glass of water and a cup of coffee and then when I get stuck, I trade in the coffee for a Diet Coke with Lime. I’ve been trying to be more diligent about drinking water lately, though, so I generally don’t allow myself a second jolt of caffeine until I’ve finished off a couple glasses of water. Looking for a #romcom? @cara_putman says look no further than @melissa_tagg. #amreading Click To Tweet You’re so healthy! What’s the one thing you wish you had learned early in your writing career?  That I am not a girl who handles deadlines very well. LOL! But seriously…when I suddenly went from writer to contracted writer, this writing gig took on a whole new flavor. And because I have a full-time day job that’s also very much a calling for me, dealing with deadlines got…not so fun. But honestly, I think it’s good to learn these things about ourselves. Because once I realized why I was struggling so much, I was able to make some decisions to help smooth out what had become a very wrinkled and exhausting schedule. I had to take some risks to change things up, but I feel like a different person now than I did earlier on—i.e. I’m healthier and happier and don’t come into work looking like a zombie anymore. And frankly, I think my writing is better for it. Also, I wish I’d learned earlier that it’s okay to do things differently than other authors. I think I spent a lot of time trying to perfectly shadow others, write and market and just be exactly like them. And in doing so, I was pushing against the kind of writer and woman God wants me to be. That not copying others is hard! What’s your favorite book of all time? Other than the Bible.  Oh man, that is SO hard to answer. I don’t know if I can truly pick just one, but one of the books I have read over and over and over from childhood to adulthood is Christy by Catherine Marshall. In fact, it’s been a couple years, so I’m pretty sure I’m due for a reread. Now for some writing book related questions. Do you have a favorite writing book? What is it? Do you have a fight favorite writing tool? What is that?  My favorite writing book is...

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The Power of Allowing God into Our Story

Sep20

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The Power of Allowing God into Our Story

Today I want to encourage each of you to share your stories. Your story is your testimony and it is powerful. It can point people to Jesus in a life-giving, world-altering way. Have you ever considered that? Have you allowed God to heal the places of brokenness, the places where life has shattered you? You have a testimony. Wonder if you have a #testimony? @cara_putman assures you do. #faith Click To Tweet Have you asked God to change your story like He’s changed your name. Then you  know and understand your story the way that He sees it. You have a testimony Do you see your places of brokenness as your places of greatest ministry because you have allowed God to move in and the Holy Spirit to heal you? Then you have a testimony. Do you see your moments of shame as clothed in the blood of Jesus? Then those are part of your story, but the shame doesn’t have victory over you. You have a testimony Do you understand who you are in the kingdom of heaven? * That where Satan says you are broken, God says you are home. * That where Satan says you are worthless, God says you have immense value. * Where Satan says you cannot make a difference in this world, God says you were placed here for such a time as this. It’s from these points of truth that you wield your testimony. Then you are ready with the Holy Spirit says to speak. Then you can use grace and truth in love when sharing your story. It’s not a club but it’s a tool of healing and redemption. If you believe all of this, then you understand that we overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony and that your testimony is your story. Revelations 12:11 What’s your story? What’s your testimony embedded in your story?...

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Fiction Friday: The Wedding Shop

Sep16

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Fiction Friday: The Wedding Shop

Today’s Friday, so it means I want to share a new book with you, one I’ve enjoyed and one I will giveaway next week. I love giving away books, so be sure to read all the way to the end so you can enter. Rachel has a knack for creating dual timelines that weave beautifully together — each supports the other while standing alone as a full story. The Wedding Shop explores themes of one-sided love, and the patient love that waits almost unnoticed. The story revolves around a storefront which was once a thriving part of the Heart’s Bend community, but has languished and is about to be demolished. One woman feels a pull to save the place, but experiences set-backs and challenges on all sides while at the same time feeling connected to the former owner, a woman she never met. Love #chrisfic but but TBR pile empty? @Cara_Putman recommends  @RachelHauck The Wedding Shop…. Click To Tweet Like The Wedding Dress, where a gown connects generations, and The Wedding Chapel, where a place connects people, this time it’s really an idea and a way of serving that connects the generations. Haley is surprised and overwhelmed as people want to help her continue the tradition. The romances are subtle and sweet. The characters rich and multi-layered. The history alive, the breath of the spirit present. The Wedding Shop is perfect for readers who love a romance with meat, a novel that will speak to their souls, and dual timelines that each propel the story forward. It is a treat to share this novel with you! From New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress comes The Wedding Shop. Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled. It’s the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman after having inherited her great aunt’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet. More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart’s Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life. When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love. As Cora’s and Haley’s stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love. a Rafflecopter...

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Laughing When Life Doesn’t Cooperate

Sep13

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Laughing When Life Doesn’t Cooperate

I want all of my days to go beautifully and smoothly. I’d love for y’all to think that’s how I roll. But here’s the truth. Last week I did not have Wonder Woman days. Instead some were  hang on by your fingernails as sweat rolls down your face kind of days. Think I’m kidding about the sweat? Just look at the thermostat. That’s inside my house at 8:30 p.m. Yes, you read it correctly. It says 87 degrees. Seriously! And I can feel each solitary one of them as I sit here composing this post shortly after midnight — all because my spinning ball of death on my computer became a great excuse to play ten to many games of 1010. Excuse, me while I step away for a moment. Sometimes we just have to laugh…even when it’s 87 degrees inside Click To Tweet You still here? Oh good! I just had to take a moment to delete that game from my phone. I may have a slightly addictive personality, but I also know how to wield a delete button. Though if you ask my line editor, she might disagree. Fortunately though, she found 15,000 words to cut from my first legal suspense. Yep, 15K! Now the book is only slightly pudgy at 92,000 words, but each one belongs. At least I hope you think so when you read Beyond Justice. Where on earth did all these numbers come from? I might have a MBA, but it doesn’t mean I’m a fan of numbers. Really! Speaking of numbers, I live in a relatively small town in Indiana. It’s ten miles to get to Purdue where I teach. It’s 12 miles to get to church. It’s probably 5 or 6 to get to the law firm. Yesterday I crossed town approximately 5 times…Put about 75 miles on the car. In my small town. It’s sad just how many times that happens when I’m stuck behind every slow driver in a five state area. So then I was going to take a photo of the sunset to enjoy the beauty God painted and this happened: Y’all didn’t know when you popped over here, I’d write a comedy piece. Neither did I. I’ve been informed early and often by a certain brother (clears throat, JOSH!) that I was born without a funny bone. But somedays, I just have to find the silliness. It’s that or pull out all of my hair, and bald is not a good option for it. This I know with certainty! So my prayer is today is that no matter how your yesterday didn’t cooperate with your plans, that today you would feel God’s warm embrace — or at least His shadow if the inside of your house is as hot as mine. And that maybe somewhere along the journey you’d take the time to giggle, snicker, or snort, because the joy of the Lord is our strength. And somedays I need that more than others. Now where did my sweaty Wonder Woman bracelets roll off to? Anyone...

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Fiction Friday: Starving Hearts

Sep09

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Fiction Friday: Starving Hearts

Do you love the Regency period? Love a good romance set during that historical time? If you love Jane Austen, Sarah Ladd, and Julie Klassen, then here is a new author for you to try. In Starving Hearts, Janine Medenhall creates a richly layered time piece that has so many conflicts keeping the hero and heroine apart I wondered how they could ever find their way together. It’s a time that is raw and different from our own. The social graces cover an attitude that finds little value in women other than as a pawn or something to be traded away. Annette dreams of more, but it’s unlikely to happen because her mother is determined to have her way. The hero is the second son with little control over his life. These two must fight for the freedom to be who they want. Readers who love Regency romance will really enjoy this new author. Be prepared to step back in time! Love Regency? Looking for new author? @cara_putman recommends Starving Hearts. #amreading Click To Tweet Will Annette’s search for love and acceptance replace the loss and hurt in her heart? Find out in Janine Mendenhall’s book one, Starving Hearts, of the Triangular Trade Trilogy. Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage. But she yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way. . . . Join in the search for love and acceptance with Janine and Starving Hearts by entering to win the Delightful Heart Gift Pack Giveaway. One grand prize winner will receive: A copy of Starving Hearts A bottle of essential oils An essential oils diffuser necklace A chiffon scarf A shoulder handbag A copy of Jane Austen’s World Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on September 12. The winner will be announced September 13 on Janine’s blog. ### Starving Hearts (Heritage Beacon Fiction, May 2016) Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage. She yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way. . . . Mr. Peter Adsley is joining the clergy, and he desires a godly wife by his side. After a failed attempt to obtain one, he engages in a clandestine meeting with the bewitching young woman who keeps crossing his path. But she is so unsettling. Destined for disappointments, Peter and Annette both endure disgraceful situations. Will Peter’s faith sustain him through overwhelming setbacks? Can Annette overcome her doubts? Or will their starving hearts yield to the machinations of a mad man? Learn more and purchase a copy. {MORE ABOUT JANINE MENDENHALL} Janine Mendenhall teaches teens English, of all things! Sometimes she sleeps, but most nights she reads, writes, or watches movies like “Pride and Prejudice” and claims she’s researching her next book. “Splickety Love” and “Splickety Prime” have published her flash fiction. She and her husband, Tom, live in North Carolina where they and their two golden retrievers help gratify the needs of their five children and two cats....

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Collision of Logic & Imagination

Sep06

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Collision of Logic & Imagination

Yesterday I read an article in the Washington Post about parents pushing their kids away from liberal arts degrees. As someone who has an undergrad major and minor in liberal arts, I loved college. As a parent I can understand the desire to invest in an education that will lead to meaningful, well-paid jobs. As a writer, I understand the importance of an imagination that an soar to places and situations I’ve never experienced. But as a Christian, I know the power of a dream. The what if that shakes my world because it is so big it can only happen when God invades. The reality that I need to dare to dream dreams so big that I shake in my boots because I know it is impossible for me to actually accomplish it alone. That I need God to absolutely intervene. That without Him, it is impossible. But with Him? With Him anything is possible. Is it possible to live a life of what-if bigness? Of existing beyond ourselves in the realm of… Click To Tweet The reality is that a life lived in the space that I can control and direct is a life too small. One that doesn’t challenge or spur me forward. It’s one of existence but not transformation. Of comfort but not of change. Of seeing life but not experiencing it. I want to suck the very marrow from this life I’ve been placed here to live. I want to know I’ve walked in the destiny of a story that God alone could write. And if that leaves me shaking in my boots, it means I may have actually found my story. I want to live beyond a logic-driven, left-brain existence, and dive into the land of what-ifs where God resides. PS if this resonates with you, I highly recommend Mark Batterson’s...

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Fiction Friday: smorgasbord & giveaway

Sep02

Posted by in Fiction Friday | 23 comments

Fiction Friday: smorgasbord & giveaway

It’s Fiction Friday and today I wanted to introduce you to three books by my friends — who if you haven’t already discovered their books — consider this your personal invitation. These ladies can write! Each book is also slightly different in genre, so at least one of these should interest just about any reader. And be sure to go to the end because I’m running a flash giveaway. You’ll only have a couple days to enter this time. Love #chrisfic but need new authors? @Cara_Putman recommends  @KCambronAuthor @cathwest… Click To Tweet I’m going to start with Denise Hunter’s Just a Kiss because it is on a huge preorder sale at the moment. The paperback is only $5.49. Yes, you read that right. I adore Denise’s romances, and this gives you a great reason to try one. Here’s more: Riley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are derailed when his life is drastically altered in Afghanistan. Watching the love of his life fall for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all. But all that changes when an IED takes the life of a comrade and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige. Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances Riley is adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up with the money needed to save it. As the weeks wear on, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into uncharted territory. Why is she suddenly noticing his arm muscles and the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in? Then there’s my friend Kristy Cambron. Her dual timeline stories weave a historical romance with a contemporary thread in a way that just keeps the pages flipping. The Ringmaster’s Wife is no different. This novel takes readers deep into the Roaring 20s and the Ringling Bros. Circus. Jump into the center ring, with its bright lights, exotic animals, and a dazzling performance that can only be described as the greatest show on earth in Kristy Cambron’s new book, The Ringmaster’s Wife. The Jazz Age has arrived, and with it, the golden era of the American circus, whose queen is none other than the enigmatic Mable Ringling. When Rosamund’s path crosses with Mable’s and the Ringlings’ glittering world,...

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10 More Tips from Readers to Writers

Aug30

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10 More Tips from Readers to Writers

Last week I shared 11 tips from readers on what they love to see in novels. Here are more tips to help you write compelling fiction. Readers tell what they want to see in #novels at @cara_putman blog. #amreading Click To Tweet Research Matters! (More so for historicals) Probably the #1 thing for me is accuracy. I just read Eleanor & Park (very popular YA set in the 80s). The author almost lost me as a reader when she had a line that sounded like the father was a Korean War veteran but would have been about 12. I stayed with it and the line was clarified. He was a Vietnam vet stationed in Korea. Seriously, one line nearly ruined a book & the author’s reputation in my eyes. An extremely successful author did this by writing an entire novel based on a medical condition, and the details were WRONG! I’m not talking about a medical condition that I’m intimately familiar with, but one I know about through my own manuscript research. Accurate research is vital to keeping my attention.  Never change actual history. General Suggestions Where do I start???? One thing that isn’t probably something a newbie needs to know right away but will when they start entering Genesis or any contest that requires a synopsis. They need to know that a synopsis is not a back-of-the-book blurb. All my years on Genesis and now doing critiques for conference have led me to realize a great many newbies have no idea how to write a synopsis. Write what God tells you to write without second guessing how the results will look. You may publish, you may not. Is it an offering to God? That’s what matters.  He’s in charge of the results. Of course, that’s for believers. LOL  How long to really expect the process to take. (I think people might be inclined to give up if they aren’t moving as fast as they expect to.) Perseverance. Practice. Keep moving forward and not giving up. Being teachable. Most people who are willing to put in the effort will make it to a certain degree, but not if you’re arrogant and inflexible. No matter how talented a top athlete is they have to put in time learning and improving. Writing is no different. I’m an avid reader. For new writers: Characters must be believable, no matter the genre. Make me want to know them. Help me live inside the characters so I feel what the characters experience.   The plot and storyline must also be believable and maintain integrity within the story. As a reader I want to trust the author. Otherwise I won’t read them again.   While writing the first draft: Get the story down. Just write it. And know you will rewrite and edit – later. Don’t get so hung up perfecting a paragraph or scene that you become discouraged with the process. First get the basic story written.   Then, when working through it again, pay attention to the details. Do the necessary research. Readers do notice. Keep the main POV clear – don’t bounce from head to head. Pay attention to what can jerk a reader out of the story – and don’t do it.   The comment about being teachable and not arrogant or inflexible...

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ACFW 2016 Photo Fun

Aug29

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This week is ACFW’s national conference in Nashville. I arrived Tuesday for board meetings Wednesday, and then the fun started. So today I wanted to share some photos with you of before the conference began. As an avid reader, it’s easy to go all fan girl with my writing buds. They are sooooo talented. There are approximately 600 people attending, so if you like a Christian fiction author many are here. I hope you enjoy seeing these photos. Which authors would you love to meet? #ACFW2016 just ended and @cara_putman shares photos of her favorite #chrisfic authors. Click To...

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