Book Review | The Beast of Talesend

The Beast of Talesend
Beaumont & Beasley {Book 1}
Kyle Robert Shultz

Private eye Nick Beasley lives in a world where fairy tales ended a long time ago – where zeppelins now soar the skies instead of dragons, and where the first automobiles have taken the place of flying carpets. He’s made a name for himself across the Afterlands by debunking fake magicians and exposing fraudulent monsters. This is the modern age, after all. Magic and monsters are long gone.

At least, that’s what Nick believes. Until he gets magically transformed into a monster, that is.

The only person who may be able to help Nick is Lady Cordelia Beaumont, one of the last enchantresses in the Afterlands. But in order for her to cure him, they’ll have to retrieve a powerful artifact from a ruthless crime lord – who is also Cordelia’s father.

The fate of the Afterlands lies in the hands of a runaway enchantress and a monstrous ex-detective. What could possibly go wrong?

Perfect for fans of Doctor Who, Once Upon A Time, Indiana Jones, or The Dresden Files, the Beaumont and Beasley series features high adventure in a world where fairy tales are history.

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I humbly decided to spare you all the usual lengthy review and simply gush and gush and GUSH about how much I enjoyed this little novel.  I could go on and on, my friends.  Seriously!  It was such a fun read, I promptly passed it on to my husband -- who read it in less than two days -- and then on to my brother-in-law.  Needless to say, the Hubs loved it! and it will definitely circulate the fam, I can tell you that.  A huge shout out to the author, Kyle Robert Schultz, for his amazing debut!!

The plot is so unique and creative.  The story-world is amazing.  I LOVE the characters!!!!  The villains.  The magic.  The Artifacts.  The STORY.  Nick.  Cordelia.  Mirrordelia.  Crispin.

The HUMOR, y'all.  There were many times in the dialogue I could've simply laughed aloud.  Told in first person, the writing seems so natural, you feel as if you are the one in Nick's shoes, er, talon-like-claws/feet (if I recall correctly).  It was only with great self-control I kept my giggles and snickering to myself.  ;D  

As you can see, I placed my rating at the top because it was so darn good.  It is an easy read, but don't let that fool you.  Each chapter is chock-full of fun, action, adventure, and humor.  No language, whatsoever.  Extremely clean.  PERFECT for a family read-aloud, if you ask me!  There's a wee bit of violence in which characters are beaten around, slapped on the face, or shot with a gun. 

But that's all I'm going to dispense.  Read for yourself!!! You won't regret it.  :] Many thanks to my bloggy friends for recommending this to me! [Especially to dear Lauri, whom I recall vividly and practically pushing (virtually) said book down my throat. (And to any of my other buds who might've pointed me in its direction! Sorry to have forgotten you. . .]

Now it's my turn to virtually shove said book down the piehole of your brain.

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Seriously, tho.
 This was a great, clean faerietale retelling that I would definitely recommend to all ages.  I can't wait to get my hands on the sequels!!! 

YES.  There's MORE!

Happy Christmas to you and yours, my lovelies!

It's Christmastime! | A Look at 2017


Christmas is less than ten days away!  And then, just a mere week after this sacred holiday, we kick off a new year.  O___O  

Wow.  It blows my mind how Time can simply FLY, or freeze in place - you know what they say about a "watched pot never boils."  ;D  That is so not true for this year of 2017.  I think I literally JUST got comfortable writing the '7' instead of the '6,' and now I must soon train my liddle brain to write an '8'!  *BOGGLED*

I won't bore you with a thoroughly detailed recap of this past year.  But I do wish to say each year is a new chapter in life.  I have laughed and cried and grown in knowledge; I've made a ton of mistakes, but I/m learning to work through them and gain wisdom for life's journey ahead.  It's such a comfort to know that our God is a forgiving and merciful God.

I don't have much time, so I'll be as brief as possible.  :]

This has has been fabulous.  Crazy, yes, but wonderful!  I've learned more and more every day what it means to be a wife to my husband Evan.  I was hired on at a new and challenging job - but challenging in a good way as it is helping my character to grow and me to get out of my own personal, safe, little bubble.  I've read so many new and amazing books, and requested to read and review so many more!!  I've begun a small Etsy business: Penmaiden's WordshoppeAnd I've made a great amount of progress on my WIP faerietale retelling, Noya.  

There is so much more I could share with you!  But alas, I must leave it at that.  

Here's to a new chapter, y'all!  And to a happy and Merry Christmas filled with the love and delight of family and friends.  May we be reminded of the true reason we celebrate: Christmas marks the first coming of our Lord & Saviour.  May we be ready for His second!

I don't know what the next week or two holds regarding my blogging schedule. . . But you aren't too surprised, right?? ;D  Haha.

So you don't see me here again soon, have a blessed and happy Christmas!!

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What has 2017 taught you this year?  Are you looking forward to 2018 and all it may entail?? Oh! and have you seen the list of upcoming movies???  I'm so ready for The Black Panther and The Infinity Wars!!  What about you?

Book Review | Death at Thorburn Hall

Death at Thorburn Hall
Drew Farthering Mystery #6
Julianna Deering

Bethany House Publishers | November 7th, 2017
Clean, Christian Fiction; Mysteries; Historical

Drew Farthering finds a new mystery on his hands when he arrives at Thorburn Hall in Scotland for the 1935 British Open. His host, Lord Rainsby, asks Drew to investigate a suspected embezzler--then dies in a suspicious accident the next day. However, the house is full of guests with potential motives. Can Drew discover the killer among them?

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WARNING: Possible Spoilers

{The Basics}
Yet another cozy mystery from Julianna Deering (DeAnna Julie Dodson)!  This lovely novel is the sixth in a series of stories featuring the amateur sleuth, Drew Farthering, and his merry band of friends.  Together, there's nothing their joint minds cannot detect.  If you haven't yet stumbled upon these delicious novels, find the first one here --> Rules of Murder. . .

Drew, his wife Madeline, his best friend Nick, and Nick's timid girlfriend Carrie, find much more than they bargained for at his distant cousin's estate of Thorburn Hall.  They were extended an invitation by the lord and lady of the house to see the 1935 British Open, a golf tournament.  But their vacation is soon interrupted by an unexpected death, and too many suspects, and far too many questions.

Drew is the kind of gentleman who is polite and easy to talk to.  He is extremely observant of events and circumstances pertaining to them, and has a discerning eye when it comes to a person's character.  This aids him in his detecting.  While he doesn't go looking for trouble, trouble always seems to find him.

Madeline is very supportive of her husband, Drew, and is a great encouragement to him.  I love their relationship!  It is sweet and loving, and they are open and honest with each other, even in times of high-stress.  Every couple has their trifles, but it was so nice to see how Drew and Madeline worked as a team, and how they each compliment the other.  (A beautiful example of a healthy marriage!)

A woman makes to attempt suicide, and Drew does everything in his power to stop her.

{Spiritual Content}
While faith is not so obvious as to be thrown in your face, it is quite evident in the actions of our main characters.  Drew and Madeline pray often, and witness to those around them, but not in a Bible-thumping, outrageous way.  They shine the Light by living in the Light.

Mention of characters attending church.  A couple characters send prayers to God for protection or in the midst of frustration or relief.  One character briefly witnesses to another on their hospital-bed, sharing their faith in a simply, honest way.

A man falls to his death riding horseback.  We "see" his body from where he landed and note that his neck is at a grotesque angle.  It was suspected as a tragic accident, but later it is learned that his saddle had been sabotaged.  Another man is poisoned.  Two men are shot in the chest (one lives).

A woman makes to throw herself from the rooftop in an act of suicide.  <-- [SPOILER: She had planned it so she would land on the balcony eight feet below and escape. . .]

(There is an entire subplot underlying this tale, but to explain would give it away.  You'll just have to read it!  It's early in history, but there is much talk and political debate regarding a certain Mr. Hitler and his doings in Berlin. . .)

{Lanuage; Alcohol & Drugs}
None.  Other than the narration stating that a character shouted "foul epithets" in their direction or some such description regarding language that was never spelled out.

Several characters smoke cigarettes all throughout the novel.  One in particular does so CONSTANTLY.  You later learn it's part of their personality and them giving in to unhealthy habits and stress.   A man is poisoned by a wine bottle.  Men share beers, cider, and information in a local pub. 

{Love-y Content}
Madeline and Drew are married, and they would love nothing more than to see Nick and Carrie the same.  Needless to say, they encourage them throughout.  Again, their own relationship is so very sweet and genuine--refreshing to read of in the world we live in now.  They embrace and kiss every now and then.  Nick and Carrie are often seen together, hugging or kissing the other's cheek.  

A woman is rather brazen and bold in her dating a much older gentleman--for show.  Another spoiled woman falls for a golf-caddy and they have brief trysts in the stable. . . regardless that her parents did not approve of the young man.  The scene is never described, we see only the result of it in tufts of hay on the woman's clothing and hair (mainly her back).  [Apologies, but it must be mentioned.  Just know there's never anything vulgar described.  We merely learn of the sin afterward, and are cautioned about such character.]

As usual, this was a great mystery with a twist.  I admit it doesn't take much for me to be fooled and never learn of the actual culprit until it's revealed in the end, but still, I was rather surprised although I should have realized sooner.  I love those kinds of stories! They keep you on your toes and make you want to read all the way to the end.

I've enjoyed every Farthering mystery I've read.  If you are looking for a good, clean novel to read on a snowy day, look no further.  :]

ages 16+

[I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.]

How I Survived NaNo as Just a Participant

December has arrived! And with its coming, my first ever NaNo has passed.  

I did not emerge a "winner," but you know what?  I'm alright with that.  :]  Really! I am.  Admittedly, I'm a little disappointed - sure.  But I am content that I actually WROTE nearly every day (19,657 words total - *COUGH*).  The word count truly doesn't matter.  It's your reaction to the result of your diligence and perseverance at the end of this fun 30-day challenge.  

There were many evenings where I found myself stressing out over the realization that I wasn't going to possibly be able to make it to 50k, no matter how much tireless effort I put into it.  But thanks to my dear husband and his encouraging and uplifting words, I pressed on, wrote on the days I could, and had fun.  What it all boils down to is this: your attitude when December 1st rolls around.  You can either be a complete and utter failure in whether you wrote 500 or 49,500 words, OR you can be a winner no matter your word count.  I speak to the those who gave their best but didn't make it to 50k, but I also speak to the winners who reached that goal and even went above and beyond:
Well done, each of you!!

Did you have fun?  Did you give your best to achieve the goal?  And if you did not make it to 50k, will you continue through this month of December in order to at least finish the first draft?

For me, I desire to finish the first draft of Noya by the end of December.  I find that it assists me greatly to have a deadline to go by - otherwise, I procrastinate horribly and nothing gets done.  Can anyone relate??  BUT my writing is not a top priority as this past month of November has taught me.  What with the completion of a church drama finishing up the first week of November, followed by a two-day catering gig, a trip to New England to share Thanksgiving with my hubby's family, and then caring for said hubby when he came down with a nasty head cold - Life tends to take top tier on my everyday list of to-dos.

Despite reality butting its uber-cumbersome head in my rather peaceful way, I'd like to share three things that helped me survive my first NaNo, even though I did not reach 50k, and what I've learned on this wild ride.

Ever heard of the Five Love Languages?  Well, one of mine is Words of Affirmation (Encouragement).  I don't know where I would be in life without my friends and family, who have encouraged me over the years and expressed their pride and love to me.  The same goes for my writing.  I could not write a single word, or progress any further in a story, without the encouragement I receive from my husband, family, and friends (bloggy friends included!).  I can literally say that's how I've survived this NaNo and not wilted into a soggy mess of tears with a cloud of failure hanging over me.  My husband, Evan, was so gracious to me during those thirty days, especially when he did not fully understand at first why I so wanted to do it.  Writing is a passion and something I truly love to do.  I don't know what lays in store for the future with Noya, but I do know it's not over yet!

Have you ever noticed just how much power words possess?  NaNo may have passed, but life goes on.  As you continue in your story, whether that's editing or completing your first draft, don't forget that encouragement goes a long way.  Are you one who has difficulty sharing your stories with others?  Maybe that's the little nudge you need to plow ahead.  Share! And welcome the feedback - good and critical.  That's what will grow you as a writer.  And what will add to your characters!

Encouragement is necessary in everything.

So. . . Unfortunately, I am one who procrastinates, however unwillingly. . .  This could be with ANYTHING - be it cleaning the shower, reading my Bible and devotions, or making the time to write every day.  I'm not saying that I intentionally procrastinated with NaNo this year, but there were several evenings where I collapsed into bed exhausted - void of strength in fingers and mind to type out enough words to add to my word count.  Other evenings, I would sit simply wondering where to begin next.  I know I wrote several chapters that I may never use in the final draft, but at least I wrote something, right?  "Never underestimate the power of piffle, my girl.  I expect even the strong-minded. . .shan't be able to resist it forever." (Drew Farthering, Death by the Book)

Diligence plays a huge part in the art of novel-ing.  Ask any author!  One must put in the effort and the TIME to see progress.  There may be times where you simply sit and think about the story for a good fifteen minutes before anything finds its way to the keyboard.  To say the least, that happened with me a couple different times.  But if I was patient and allowed my mind to find the will and creativity that lurks just beneath the surface (a writer's mind can be simultaneously awesome and scary), the words came!  I was very pleased on my wordiest day when I wrote a little over 3k on the long, sixteen-hour drive back home from New England.  (Normally, I tend to get a little carsick when writing or reading in an automobile. . . I know, it's a CURSE.  But for some reason, I dished out that many words on the ride and, needless to say, was exceptionally pleased.)  

"Failure is never final or fatal, as long as you fail forward."
- Robert Petterson -

Come November, I set my eyes on the distant, ultimate goal of 50k, but I decided early on (rather, before the challenge began on November 1st) to have a slight change in goal.  And that was to have FUN, no matter the outcome.  Ever since my senior year of high school, when my siblings and I took a writing class hosted by my now-mother-in-law (I do believe God has a sense of humor), I discovered a passion for writing.  I suppose I'd always had a desire to write stories, thanks to my own love for books, their authors, and inspiration to create my own worlds.  But it wasn't until that class that I actually learned how.   Don't get me wrong, I knew English grammar and spelling and all that it entails, but that class was an enlightening, eye-opening one for me.  And it was that same year that the idea for my official WIP, Safia, came to be.  {Thank you, Mama Char, for teaching my siblings and I!}  With all that said, I was determined to enjoy this NaNo, give my best, and see what would happen.  A writer's mentality is dreadfully important, y'all.  You have to know what you desire, see the ultimate goal, and PURSUE it.  I may not have done so 110%, but I did have fun, and am itching to finish my faerietale retelling.

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As mentioned above, I'm hoping to complete the first draft of Noya by the end of December.  If/when that happens, I want to make a point to take at least a month off before beginning the editing/re-reading process.  I believe it would give me the space and ability to come at it with fresh eyes and mind.

With that said, here's what I've learned since starting NaNo:
    • I've learned a great deal more of my characters and their personalities.  
    • I've dabbled with the unpredictable and it's blown the story into a whole new level. . . I mean, things I wouldn't even THINK of putting in a story of mine, I've kind of haphazardly thrown in. . .
    • I've learned in Fantasy, you can do ANYTHING. (Is the vague-ness killing you yet??)
    • I've learned to expound on the point of views of three different characters.
    • I've fallen in love with my Griffin, Baradil. *^ _ ^*
    • I've found the Beast is such a tragic, temperamental sort of character who (I hope) readers will love.
    • I've learned again and again that I still have SO MUCH to learn about this thing called writing.
    • But I've learned to enjoy the entire process.  And I'm not yet done!

If you've made it to the end, I salute you, O Ye Who Has Persevered!  Did you partake in the NaNo challenge this year?  Will you next year?  I hope to, but who knows what life has in store.  For now, I shall be content to write on my own and in my own time.  But what of you? What was the one thing you've learned this NaNo?

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. . .

Happy week, y'all!  Talk soon.  :]

Book Review | The Book of Amazing Stories

The Book of Amazing Stories
90 Devotions on Seeing God's Hand in Unlikely Places
Robert Petterson

Tyndale | October 3rd, 2017
Devotionals, Historical People, Mini Biographies

You may have thought you knew the lives of famous people--such as Martin Luther King Jr., Howard Hughes, Mother Teresa, Muhammad Ali, Ronald Reagan, Susana Wesley, and many more. But, in The Book of Amazing Stories, you'll know so much more about Ronnie's faithful church-going single mom and William's early days as a humble shoemaker's apprentice. You'll marvel at how God used the lives of these ordinary people to change the course of human history.

Life makes the strangest sharp turns and, sometimes, U-turns. Robert Petterson--popular speaker, storyteller, and author--has been a student for his entire life of what God is teaching us through those real-life U-turns. In this book, he compiles 90 amazing stories that teach lessons you won't easily forget.

Each devotional ends with a compelling and hopeful take-away--a thought about what the story reveals about life and God.

Be amazed. Be encouraged. Learn the lessons God is teaching through people's lives.

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            This book is amazing.  I learned so much about people who founded the United States of America, others who made a huge impact on cultures, and others whose mistakes we can learn from.  

            Each day features a story about some person in our world history, with facts you may or may not have known about them or their families.  It ends with an inspirational quote or moral to each story, as well as a Bible verse which relates perfectly to each tale and circumstances.  

          Did you know that President Ronald Reagan's mother was a diminutive washerwoman who worked herself to the bone every day to nurture her two sons, and still found time and energy to serve hot food to prisoners in the jailhouse?  Or that a little mousy girl named Agnes, who felt called by God to be a missionary after her mother exhausted herself in finding a husband for her, would eventually become one of the most admired women in the world: Mother Teresa?  Or what about a selfish, embittered general whose name would go down in America's history as synonymous with the word traitor -- Benedict Arnold, George Washington's favorite general?

          And so much more!  If you enjoy history and the people who have made or destroyed it, then you will love this devotional.  Read a chapter a day for 90 days, or as a normal book!  Not all of the stories here are filled with happy endings.  But that is the point of history, right?  To learn from the mistakes and to find hope and faith amidst the losses and the victories as well.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided you with a complimentary copy of this book.

Deep in NaNoWriMo | Beautiful Books

Soooo. . . I've unintentionally been under blogger silence for the past -- er, two weeks?  Yeah.  Basically, Life kinda barged in.  My old home church hosted a drama presentation that my family and I have been involved in from the start maybe ten seasons ago.  It went on over the course of two consecutive weekends, and lemme tell ya: we were exhausted by the time it was past.  And even afterwards, my sisters and I did not find any time to rest due to a catering job the following Monday & Tuesday.  But both the drama and the catering gig went extremely well.  Lives were changed, God is good, and the food awesome as usual.  :]

And here I am today!  Enjoying my one out of two days off from work at the office, cleaning house, catching up on laundry, and OH YEAH 

We are basically HALFWAY THROUGH NANO, guys.  Halfway through November!! Thanksgiving Day is just over a week away, and Christmas is practically around the corner.  O_O  Did you sign up for the chaotic insanity marvelous challenge of NaNo?  I did!  And, while I'm not quite up to par on my word count, I've had a blast writing every day.  (Why don't I actually do the writing thing without the accountability of story challenges?  Oh yeah, I 'spose it's because I'm a kind of procrastinator. . . heheh)

Well, today, I'm jumping into the link-up hosted by Skye and Cait:  Beautiful Books!

Read on if you are interested in my faerietale retelling titled Noya.  Hopefully, you'll regret nothing.  :]

Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
          I would say I'm doing quite well all considering.  In signing up for NaNo, I was completely unprepared & last minute.  But this is so the challenge I needed in order to get somewhere with my story.  As to the story itself, it's progressing.  And surprising me along the way.  I keep having these ideas of throwing in random stuff/things that I would NEVER think of doing ever.  Maybe I'll go along with it, or maybe not.  Still not sure at the moment.  My goal right now is to write as much as possible.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
          Wellllll. . . Technically, the following paragraph is the first I've written beginning with NaNo.  But this story was in my head, and already underway, when NaNo began, so it's not the FIRST sentence/paragraph.

          Noya stole away to the shoreline. Part of her was excited at the thought of a new adventure. But the more logical, practical side of herself felt rather frightened and sad. Meyrn was the only home she had ever known.

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
          Oh my.  I love Noya, of course, as she's the MC.  But I've attempted to flesh out some minor characters as well.  With the exception of Noya, we read from the point of view of two other characters: the Beast, and one of her brothers -- Brom.  I LOVES Brom.  He's like the older brother I never had. But the Beast's character is growing on me as well!  He's gonna be one of those sarcastic, temperamental guys. . .

          With a growl he had not intended, he gestured for her to follow, “Come.”
          Spinning on his heels, he walked ten paces before he turned to find her standing stock still. Excellent. He'd frightened her. Again.
          “Come,” he tried again, this time hoping his voice sounded a great deal softer than it felt. She followed, much like when she had first arrived. Like an obedient little pup.
          What was wrong with him?
          Oh, that's right. He was no generous host with a gift for hospitality.
          There was only a Beast.

Oh-ho-ho!  Such horrible self-pity this Beastie has.  *cackles*  Can't wait for the redemption! 

What do you love about your novel so far?

          It's my own personal retelling of my all-time favorite faerietale, Beauty & the Beast.  'Nuff said.

Aaaaaaaaannnnnnnddddd. . . it's pure Fantasy!  With ELVES.  And Griffins.  And maybeeee a dragon. . .

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
          Oh yes!  But I'm usually pretty good at catching them before continuing too much further down the written road.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
          Wow.  I've never really thought about this. . . (Probably because I've never actually completed a story. . .)  I'd have to say the Middle, because it's usually chock-full of juicyness.  Right smack in the middle of the action and what characters are made of.  Am I right?  But I also enjoy writing the Endings.  Simply because they have the triumphs, redemption, and peace that the characters lived, died, sweated, and bled for -- making it all worth it in the end.

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 try to keep my water on hand.  And my browser ready, just in case I need a Pinterest visual of a character, place, building, etc. And then I try to exit said Pinterest as quickly as possible to continue my story and pursue the goal of upping my word count for the day.  Not really any specific snacks, although Reeses peanut butter cups have been my one weakness as of late. . . 

          The only time I've found best for me, on the days I work especially, has been in the evenings.  I take from 8:00-10:00pm (and sometimes till 11:00) to write as much as possible.  If I don't get my sleep, I'm basically a sloth come the morn. . . (Plus, I have a hubby now who also needs his sleep.  Though there have been nights where he'll stay up reading while I write, and I'll finish up, snuggle under the blankets, and he's STILL reading.  It's nice to have a man who enjoys his books as much as I!)  :]

          No photo. . . Sorry.  But I usually crash on the couch.  Hmmm. . . no music either, really.  I get distracted way too easily.  But when I am in the mood, I'll pull up YouTube movie soundtracks.  How to Train Your Dragon is a fave for writing anything

How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
          I definitely need encouragement.  And my hubby has been just that.  As well as my blogger/writing buddies!  Couldn't do it without y'all.  Seriously.  One of my love languages is Words of Affirmation.  If I didn't have your encouragement, I'd be a wailing mess.

          Regarding privacy. . . Well, I used to be very secretive with my stories.  It was hard to share with my family what I was working on, because I was afraid of what they might think.  But over the years, that has changed and I crave the feedback!

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?
          My ultimate goal:  PUBLISHING.  I don't know when it will happen.  I don't really know IF it will happen.  But that will always be my goal.  My life has taken on many new and exciting chapters, and who knows exactly what's to come?  I've found that when the words are tough in coming, and I would rather just lay down and read or surf the web, I remind myself of my current goal of reaching 50k and then the ultimate prize of publication.  Others have accomplished this.  Why can't I?? 

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
  1. Have fun.  No matter what!  I've had to remind myself to do this.  Even if, by the end of November, my word count is quite a bit under 50k, I want to be able to say I've had a blast and my story has progressed considerably.
  2. Aim high & aim for the goal.  There's no shame in reaching for the high expectations.  But there is in how you react regarding whether or not you've made it.  I don't want to consider myself a complete failure if there's not 50k words written by November's end.  But if I aim straight for it, and give my best, then I can say with all my heart, "Well done.  That was great fun!"
  3. Go for the unpredictable.  Try it!  That's what makes a great story.  No need to explain further. :]

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So.  How's your NaNo progressing??  What are your personal writing goals?  Are you participating this year?  And if so, what is your story about?  I welcome comments!

Oh & by the way, what do you think of this new design??
I know I've changed designs rather recently already, but the other one just had too many glitches I couldn't think straight.  Extremely pleased with this one.  Thank you, Etsy!

What's in a Name?

NaNo is BASICALLY upon us.  Are you ready??  I'm getting there. . . I honestly don't think I'll ever feel ready.  But here's to having fun and enjoying the process.  :]

Need any last minute names for your NaNoWriMo novel??  If so, maybe these will help!

M | French

French form of Hercules, which is the Latin form of Herakles, meaning "glory of Hera" -- referring to the Greek goddess, wife of Zeus. 

NOTE:  This name is possibly most recognizable as the given name of Agatha Christie's protagonist and private detective, Hercule Poirot, who stars in many of her novels.  Having just finished reading Murder on the Orient Express myself, and for the upcoming film, I decided to share its meaning. 

F | English

Possibly originally a diminutive of Elizabeth, meaning "God is my oath," or "my God is abundance."  However, it is considered an elaborated form of Lily, derived from the Latin lilium, symbolizing purity.  This name has been in use in England since the 16th century.

M | English

From the Old English name Dederik, which originates from the Low German form of Theodoric, meaning "ruler of the people."

F | English, German
AV-ǝ-leen-ah, ave-ǝ-LEEN-ah

Possibly a diminutive of Avila, from elements ultimately meaning "desired."

Names & meanings via
Photos via Pinterest.

Have a lovely week, y'all!  And luck to all who are taking part in NaNo!!

Fairfarren. :]

Book Review | To Wager Her Heart

To Wager Her Heart
Belle Mead Plantation #3
Tamera Alexander

Zondervan | August 8th, 2017
Christian, Historical Fiction, Romance

With fates bound by a shared tragedy, a reformed gambler from the Colorado Territory and a Southern Belle bent on breaking free from society's expectations must work together to achieve their dreams—provided that the truth doesn't tear them apart first. 

Sylas Rutledge, the new owner of the Northeast Line Railroad, invests everything he has into this venture, partly for the sake of the challenge. But mostly to clear his father's name. One man holds the key to Sy's success—General William Giles Harding of Nashville's Belle Meade Plantation. But Harding is champagne and thoroughbreds, and Sy Rutledge is beer and bullocks. 

Sy needs someone to help him maneuver his way through Nashville's society, and when he meets Alexandra Jamison, he quickly decides he's found his tutor. But he soon discovers that the very train accident his father is blamed for causing is what killed Alexandra's fiancé and shattered her world. 

Spurning an arranged marriage by her father, Alexandra instead pursues her passion for teaching at Fisk University, the first freedmen's university in the United States. But family—and Nashville society—do not approve, and she soon finds herself cast out from both. 

Through connections with the Harding family, Alexandra and Sy become unlikely allies. And despite her first impressions, Alexandra gradually finds herself coming to respect, and even care for this man. But how can she, when her heart is still spoken for?

Sylas Rutledge will risk everything to win over the woman he loves. What he doesn't count on is having to wager her heart to do it.

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WARNING: Possible Spoilers!

{The Basics}
This was such a sweet novel, and definitely chock-full of history!  Set in Nashville, TN (my home state!) in 1871, we get a small taste of what life was like in the growing city.  As the daughter of a wealthy family--one of the founding families of Nashville, Alexandra has never lacked for luxury, food, or education.  She has had a gorgeous home, society's finest in gossip and clothing (of which she cares little), a decent education, and a loving, servant-hearted fiance.  But one fateful day on Dutchman's Curve, her beloved David is taken from her when two trains collide at full speed, and Alexandra is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and her empty life.  Without David, she feels lost.  His vision to help the freedmen and teach at a university seems to vanish like the smoke from the crash, where she too had been a passenger.  And in one year's time, she has yet to set foot on a train.

Sylas Rutledge is a self-made man.  He has built his life from the ground up, literally.  From the cracks of a broken family, he emerges a good man and, thanks to the stepfather who called him Son, he was raised to appreciate a good work ethic and the equality and value of another's life, no matter the darkness of his skin.  He, too, lost a loved one in that tragic wreck, and it's to Tennessee from the mountains of Colorado to which he sets his sights, aiming to build his business and clear his father's name.

I loved Alexandra's character.  She is sweet and kindhearted.  When she

Due to the era, there is quite a bit of racism.  Especially when the Fisk University singers set out on their traveling tour to raise funds for their school.  Many "whites" jeer and shout insults at them because of their skin.  Many hotels turn down their business, not willing to accept them.

{Spiritual Content}
Alexandra's faith in God is what sees her through the grief of David's death.  She prays often, eventually serving as a light (along with another fellow believer) to Sy through their growing friendship.

The Fisk Jubilee Singers were an a cappella ensemble who sang and toured for the benefit of their college.  They performed theater and sang many hymns, as well as old "slave songs" (for many were either slaves themselves, or they had family members who were and their freedom had been bought).

Mr Philip Paul Bliss, an American composer and writer of many hymns (you may recognize the hymn Hallelujah, What a Saviour!, as well as the tune to Horatio Spafford's It Is Well With My Soul), was even a character!  He and Sy (fictional liberty taken by the author) became good friends, and it was him who helped Sy see that God is good, even when we don't have all the answers.

At the aftermath of the collision, an old man describes seeing angels, "fearsome beings," standing over the bodies.

This story takes place exactly one year after the terrible accident of Dutchman's Curve.  Many are still affected by the aftermath, Alexandra included.  There are rather vivid descriptions of her memories as well as others who experienced the wreck: bodies and blood everywhere, those of children lying motionless on the ground, wailing, screams, body parts, etc.  The injuries of those who survived the accident are brutal: loss of limb, visible burns, health issues, etc.

News of a female school teach is attacked by nightriders: "badly beaten--and worse."

{Language, Alcohol, Drugs}
A sign mentions the word "nigger." (Forgive me!  I felt it needed mentioning.)  A man uses the slang, "lawd."  No other offensive words that I recall.

{Lovey Content}
A woman approaches a man with specific intent, but he simply brushes her off.

Sy notices just how attractive Alexandra is.  They build a tentative friendship (it's so sweet!).

To conclude this lengthy review. . . I totally enjoyed this novel.  The little bit of history was so very interesting, and I loved that it was set in my home state!  A definite plus, in my opinion.  :]  The characters were beautifully flawed, but they learn to push past the mistakes, take up their courage, and step out in faith.  For some, it is giving up everything for eternal reward of furthering our Lord's kingdom.  And for others, it is finding the peace they've searched their whole life for.

This story doesn't end with a cliff-hanger of any kind, but it does leave some questions unresolved, simply to say that not everything in this earthly life can be answered.  Only God knows, and we can take comfort in knowing that is sufficient enough.

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Recommended ages:  16+
I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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If you made it this far, well done, my friends!  
Didja add this book to your TBR (to-be-read) list??

Have a lovely weekend, y'all.  :]

What's in a Name?

Welcome back, lovelies.  It's been a rather tough and overwhelming Monday, but I've made it this far (thank You, Lord), so I'll "keep plugging away," as my hubby says.  

Here's some new names to add to your story arsenal!

M | Welsh, English

Anglicized form of Iefan, a Welsh form of John, which is primarily derived from a Hebrew name meaning "YAHWEH is gracious."

NOTE:  I thought I had previously posted this one before, but I couldn't find it in my archives, so here it is.  :]  This one has special meaning for me as it is the given name of my dear husband. *^ - ^*)

F | English

Diminutive of Philippa, the Latinate feminine form of Philip, which ultimately means "friends of horses."

M | Unknown

Meaning and origin unknown.

F | French

French form of Amy, which in turn is the English form of the Old French name Amée, meaning "beloved."

Names & meanings via
Photos via Pinterest.

Namarié, my friends.  Have a lovely week!
{BTW, how's NaNo prep coming??}

NaNoWriMo | Diving Blindly


You made it.  The weekend has arrived at last, and yet, another week of October is past.  (Whoa.  That rhymed.  O_O)  Already??  That must surely bring to mind the impending doom er, joy of NANOWRIMO.  National Novel Writing Month.  *cue faint scream in the distance*  

Well, if you are INSANE, like me, you've probably signed up for it this year.  Is that true?  If so, AWESOME!! Wanna be buddies?  I could use all the help and friends I can get.  ;D  (I'm currently trying to persuade one of my sisters to jump on this crazy bandwagon. *fingers crossed*)

As you've most likely guessed, this is a post to say it's official, I'm gonna do this.  But also to explain why I signed up, and what I expect of myself. 


*deep breaths*
I signed up rather unexpectedly.  Honestly, I hadn't given NaNo a single thought this year.  I've heard of it in the blogging/writing world, and many of my friends have taken part, but it hadn't crossed my mind to join in.  Especially this year as I'm a wife now.  I have many new responsibilities, including caring for my hubby, managing a home, planning for the future, being diligent in my job, Etsy shop, etc. etc.  

And here I am diving blindly, but oddly enough, I'm getting rather excited!

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I love writing.  While I've yet to actually COMPLETE a story, my dream is to one day be published.  I can just imagine a gorgeous book cover with my name on it someday filling a shelf in one or three beloved bookstores.

That's a dream anyway.  A dream I've joined the NaNo community to be one step closer to fulfilling.  Maybe this is the push--or shove, rather--I need to finish the first draft of my novel.  Maybe it's the motivation to be diligent in completing the daily quota to actually bring my WIP to the level of editing, and then [hopefully] to pursue publishing.

November is a busy month for me.  But, Lord willing, the end result will be worth it!

110%. At the very least.

I want to give the best of myself in meeting my 2k word-count goal each day.  I want to write as much as I can, without second-guessing myself and feeling like it's a horrible, no-good story and will come to nothing.  {NO!  No, sirree.  I have the means, I have a mighty pen, and I'm a pretty-darn-good typer. :]}  I want to meet new friends, gain writing buddies, and much coveted advice in how to survive my very first NaNo, and yes, NOT DIE in the process.

But most importantly, I want to have FUN.  Because that is my ultimate goal.  Even if, by the time December 1st rolls around, I don't have the word "winner" by my name--maybe due to the realities of my life now (and, unfortunately, that is my current mindset: that I won't make it)--then I want to be satisfied with the simple fact that I had fun, I enjoyed myself, my Noya story is much further along than it was originally, and I'm that much closer to my dream.

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So, with all that said, I present my WIP and my NaNoWriMo novel:
{Photo via Pinterest.  Wording via Font Candy app.}

Book Blurb
{someday soon to be on GoodReads *wink wink*)

She sacrificed everything for a beloved brother.
Only to gain an eternal prison.

He has lived an empty life for nearly 500 years.
Could one mere girl possibly change his cursed darkness?
Once upon a time, a girl named Noya and her family lived comfortably in the booming city of Mearn. They have lacked for nothing her entire life, but all that changes when her father's once-lucky fleet of famed merchant ships find their fate in the depths of the sea after a monstrous storm.  And all their great wealth disappears.

In an effort to save his family, Noya's father gathers her, her three brothers, and what belongings remain to their name, and moves to the country leagues away where they begin a humble existence.
But little do they know their paths will soon cross with that of a. . .
For what greater act of love is there than the sacrifice of one to save another?
And in loving the unlovable, can one lowly girl break a 500-year enchantment?

Or is it not up to her?

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Here's to NaNo 2017, my friends!

Best of luck, y'all.

Book Review | Picturing Heaven

Picturing Heaven
40 Hope-Filled Devotions
(A coloring book!)
Randy Alcorn (illustrated by Lizzie Preston)

Tyndale | September 5th, 2017
Coloring Book, Non-Fiction, Christian/Biblical, Theology

Imagine Heaven the way the Bible describes it--a place of exquisite beauty brimming with marvelous detail and intricate patterns; a special dwelling place free of corruption and sin; and a place of both rest and enjoyable, meaningful work.

Let the power and majesty of Heaven fill your heart with joy as you color these 40 designs carefully interpreted from the pages of Scripture. Savor a respite from daily life as you read and meditate on devotions from best-selling author Randy Alcorn, a leading authority on Heaven. Picturing Heaven will offer you comfort and relaxation, while filling your heart with restful assurance that God prepares a special place for those who love Him.

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This coloring book is wonderful!  There's no other way to put it.  Forty devotional Scripture verses and excerpts are taken from Randy Alcorn's well-known book, Heaven, and make for a lovely devotional time for the busy mother or grandmother (or father, whoever!) - anyone who may have pondered the life after THIS.

All too often, we seek the pleasures of this Earth, knowing full well we truly want to go to Heaven - some day - but not really wanting to go anytime soon. . . Am I right?  I don't think we realize what exactly an Eternal Heaven looks like.  In this devotional (and in the actual book as well), Mr Alcorn shares some amazing points that have never crossed my mind.  Every good and marvelous treasure will be multiplied "God-fold."  By that, I mean WAY more than ten-fold or 100 times over.

I'm sure you are as guilty of it at times as I, but in our small minds perhaps you are thinking there's a good chance that Heaven could be/will be. . . boring.  What with everything being perfect and no need for absolutely anything and that we will forever be bowing at our Savior's feet.  All that is true, of course!  And we will be so humbled before our Savior Christ that we won't wish for anything other than to sit and bow before Him, I'm sure.  BUT.  Have you ever considered the idea that there could be sports?  An abundance of your favorite foods and drinks (with NO chance of getting fat or sick)?  Gorgeous fields to run and play?  And coffee?  Tea?

"If coffee beans & tea leaves were some of God's good ideas for the old Earth, why not the new one?  Can you imagine enjoying a cup of coffee with Jesus?  . . .We may not yet have tasted our favorite food or drink - and if we have, it will taste even better in God's everlasting Kingdom!"
- p. 54, Day 23 -

Have you ever really thought about that??  It blows my mind!  And just think, what about animals?  Beloved pets?  You remember that verse regarding the wolf laying down beside the lamb, and the lion eating grass as an ox? (Isaiah 11:6)  In Romans 8:21, there is a reference regarding the "creation" being set free from bondage in the resurrection.  Mr Alcorn says, ". . .what could that be if not animals?  Only God knows for sure what He plans to do.  But wouldn't it be just like Him to recreate the same pets He entrusted to us in this life?  What a delightful reunion that would be!" (p.58, Day 25)  Ever thought of that, my friend?  :]

Who knows but our Lord, what exactly we can look forward to one day with Him?  Can you imagine walking with the dinosaurs?  Maybe learning an incredible new sport?  Exploring new galaxies? Singing with the angels?  Relaxing in your spacious new family room?  Or most of all, anticipating your Lord and King saying to you, "Well done, my good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your Master's joy!" (Matthew 25:23)

I would definitely recommend this to EVERYONE.  It would make a lovely gift for someone who has lost a loved one, or someone who is struggling with questions of what comes after death.  Maybe they don't have time to color this, and definitely no time to read the full book by Randy Alcorn.  Still, this would be great if only for the devotions!  (Then, maybe they could pass it on.)

All told, this was a beautiful coloring book and I highly recommend.

Tyndale House Publishers has provided you with a complimentary copy of this book.