Spaztle Speaks: Donuts & Detours (Book Review)

Finally, my mom has put me into a novel. I know, it’s not really me. I don’t like to talk about my past personally. I’m a rescue dog much like Shazam/Cooper is in book six of her Orchard Hill Romance Series: Donuts & Detours.

B.J. is a young mechanic in a volunteer ministry that fixes cars for single moms. She finds a dog in the trunk of a donated car. She rescues the animal and hopes to adopt it. Titus (aka Ty), decides to adopt the dog. He also wants to reach this young mechanic but doesn’t realize the boy is not quite what he seems.

He’s really a she.

Bethany Joelle has a rough past not too dissimilar from the rescued dog and is hurt when Ty adopts the dog before she can. Ty is also showing interest in Bethany Joelle but letting him close means risking her closely held secret–that she is really B.J.

Titus has his own dark past that he carries around. Secrets collide and are revealed making for some interesting relationship challenges.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Of course, the best part of the book is the dog which I know my mom based on me. Titus showed up in Bratwurst & Bridges so it’s fun that he finally gets his chance at love. I give this book five bones because I’m a dog and don’t have thumbs.

 

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Writer Wednesday: Peter Toeg

Today I’m thrilled to bring you author, Peter Toeg who I met recently. I have his book on top of my “to be read pile”. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know Peter!

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?

About the eighth year of the fifteen-year effort to write my first novel. I’ve always loved writing. For those first years, I would get a rush after writing a few hundred words. Like a coffee high.

What’s your pet peeve?

Nothing major. I tend to avoid reading what other writers have to say about writing and the process. Writing skills, yes. Inspiration, style, technique. Not so much.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

Having my wife read my first novel and a couple of short stories and picking up on my inspiration or word choice. We laugh about it. I steal anything.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Getting a response from people whom I’ve asked for a beta or book read. I’m discriminating about what I read, but always try to accommodate someone.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

Depends on the day. I tend to fall back on positives and my editor’s comments.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

I don’t care for Christian-talk in general, but I know when I am inspired by the Spirit. And I know when I’m not.

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?

Write a lot according to the rules, before breaking them. Get an editor to screen some of your work after no less than two years of writing. Take a lot of showers or walks or find a place where you can catch an idea and run with it.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?

My pastor friend told me the answer to that question after reading my second book twice. “I never knew you.” A paraphrase.

What is your current work in process?

I’m on a third draft of a third manuscript I’ve run by my editor. I write shorts during the process. I think I’ve written 20,000 words worth of shorts in three months. Great diversion.

Warriors With Holy Hands published by Westbow Press. On Amazon, different formats.

Writer Wednesday: Emily Conrad

I want to introduce you to Emily Conrad. I had the pleasure of meeting her at a book signing and discovered that she not only lived not too far away from me – but was also a Pelican Book Group Author. I am an editor for that publishing company but Emily is not one of my authors. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy her words of wisdom!

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?

I started writing short stories in eighth grade English class, and by the end of high school, those stories had lengthened into novels. Sometime in there, I decided I wanted to be a writer. In that way, it was something I fell into, but the decision to pursue it as a full-time endeavor in 2014 was more of a calling. I felt God had orchestrated just the right events to make it clear that it was time to give this writing thing my full effort at least for a time.

What’s your pet peeve?

Chewing and crinkling noises. I’ve been known to leave the room if my husband sits next to me with a bag of chips. My whole body buzzes with tension if I hang around. However, my husband’s not the only one who eats (go figure, right?), leaving isn’t always an option, and I recognize that it’s totally unfair to be annoyed with people for eating. I eat, too, and sometimes I’m the one who put crunchy food out! So I’ve developed one semi-successful coping mechanism: I think about puppies. I’d never fault a puppy for chewing loudly. On the contrary, I find it cute. Believe it or not, imagining a cute little puppy eating next to me helps!

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

I’m sure the worst is yet to come, but I did once go up to talk to a couple of authors I respected and got the title of one’s book wrong and probably showed I didn’t really understand the plot of the other writer’s novel—I made a comment based on her title—but to my credit, I did say that I hadn’t read the book yet… They were both very gracious, though.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Trusting God when things don’t look the way I thought they would. From waiting much longer than I’d hoped to find a publisher to other surprises along the way, I’ve learned that reality usually doesn’t match the dream. That’s when frustration and discouragement pile on, but because I’ve seen God work in hard situations before, I know He’s in control and can be trusted, even when my plans fail.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

In community. I haven’t yet had negative reviews (that I know of!) because Justice is my debut, but I know my work doesn’t resonate with everyone. Once, a very low contest score combined with some harsh feedback sent me into a tailspin. My writing friends came around me with encouragement that helped to get me through. Not everyone is our target audience. Not everyone will like every story. That’s okay. There are so many different writers and readers in the world, and there’s room for all of us.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

My debut novel is coming out in two days!

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?

  1. Trust God, even when everything looks bleak. He loves you with an everlasting love, and He will never leave you or forsake you. He’s not just stringing you along. He has a purpose for you and your dreams.
  2. Find writing friends. Friends will give you pep talks, help you improve your work, and, when you get to releasing your first novel, they’ll be invaluable cheerleaders. Plus, you’ll be able to help them along their paths, too.
  3. Have fun writing. Maybe you have your more serious novels and that blog you have to keep up with, but carve out some time for writing fun, too. Dabble in lighter short stories. Write that rock star novel and see where it goes. Read for the fun of it. The variety will help keep the spark for writing alive.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?

I often borrow inspiration from Biblical accounts. For example, some elements of the plot in Justice are inspired by portions of Mary and Joseph’s story (though Justice involves a sexual assault, which of course, Mary and Joseph’s story does not). I would love my fiction to inspire deeper faith in the God of the Bible. Today, we serve the same God Mary and Joseph served 2000 years ago, and that’s exciting to me. He is alive and well and active. He’s powerful and loving. His grace is more than sufficient.

What is your current work in process?

Did you notice the rock star mention in point three above? Well, I wrote a rock star romance, and I’m currently writing a second one, about another member of the same band. The stories have been so fun to write while also tackling meaningful questions. I hope someday, readers get to enjoy these novels as much as I’m enjoying writing them.

Links to social media:

https://www.facebook.com/emilyconradauthor

https://www.twitter.com/emilyrconrad

https://www.instagram.com/emilyrconrad

www.emilyconradauthor.com

https://www.amazon.com/Justice-Emily-Conrad-ebook/dp/B0792HGXQN

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/justice-emily-conrad/1127841580

Biography: 

Emily Conrad lives in Wisconsin with her husband and two rescue dogs. She loves Jesus and enjoys road trips to the mountains, crafting stories, and drinking coffee. (It’s no coincidence her debut novel is set mostly in a coffee shop!) She offers free short stories on her website and loves to connect with readers on social media.

Justice

Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she’s pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake. If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake’s coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both.

Spatzle Speaks: Threes, Sixes & Thieves (Book Review)

Threes, Sixes & Thieves is Julie Cosgrove’s third novel in the Bunco Biddie’s Mystery series.

Janie and her Bunco buddies are at it once again. They see a pattern in the robberies that are occurring in their neighborhood and are determined to figure out just who is doing this. Her son-in-law, a local detective is less convinced, but when they stake out a possible house and one robber is arrested and found later hanging in his jail cell, finally the police are more interested in her theories. The only question is could there be a dirty cop on the force in Alamoville? And how would they find out.

If you enjoy cozy mysteries you’ll enjoy the antics of Janie and her Bunco Biddies as they stir up trouble while solving crimes. Retirement doesn’t mean they can’t help out the police every once and a while does it? I give this book five bones because it is a lighthearted mystery that will leave you grinning.

I give this five bones just because it’s a fun book to read.

 

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

 

Spatzle Speaks: The Mystery of the Disappearing Moonlight (Book Review)

Dale McElhinney returns with a second mid-grade novel, The Mystery of the Disappearing Moonlight

When twelve-year-old Katie and her friend Molly arrive at summer camp, the last thing they expect is to be plagued by some teenage boys. The long for the fun of campfire stories, adventures and horseback rides. But when Katie sees a white horse running in the dark of night she names him Moonlight. Only no one seems to know where this horse is and everyone else doubts it even exists. With boys plaguing her and the vanity of some of her cabin-mates challenging her ability to love people right where they are, God seems to have a lot of work to do in Katie’s heart.

While searching for the elusive horse they encounter challenges and danger, and lessons on what it really means to live for God.

This is a high-spirited adventure for girls and boys alike, especially horse lovers! Dale McElhinney has outdone himself with this mystery to appeal anyone who loves a great mystery – regardless of age. I give this book five bones, because I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Spatzle Speaks: Christmas Novel and Two Novellas (Book Reviews)

CHRISTMAS NOVEL

A CHRISTMAS KIND OF PERFECT

Christine Schimpf has written a sweet Door County Christmas novel, A Christmas Kind of Perfect,  featuring none other than a best-selling author.  Lila never expected to become a successful writer nor anticipated the heavy cost that her career would bring as she lives her life in New York. Summoned back home to Door County she’s faced with all the good things she left behind, including Conrad.

Conrad regrets not going after Lila and seeing of they could somehow make their relationship work. Now she’s back but he’s already moved on to a new woman who is expecting an engagement ring this Christmas. Meeting Lila again throws him into confusion. Could he possible sacrifice more for the new woman in life or is it possible that he could rekindle a romance with Lila? And if he did, would she abandon him again?

As sparks fly along with the snow, can Lila and Conrad find their way back to a love they left behind years ago and discover a Christmas miracle? A lovely look at the holidays in the beautiful Door County peninsula of Wisconsin.

CHRISTMAS EXTRAVAGANZA NOVELLAS

GABRIEL’S GIFT 

Gabriel’s Gift is a sweet Christmas Regency Romance by my mom. Last week she released two new novels that were Gothic romances. Let me make it clear that this is not part of that series and this instead is a sweet tale.

Gabriel has moved to his first job as a minister and unexpectedly finds the girl he longed to marry but had lost track of.

Matilda is shocked to find her childhood friend is now pastoring their local church. But the dreams she once had of a future wtih him died when her father took  his life. She is not worthy enough to be the wife of a minister. Finding an abandoned baby in  the church however awakens longings and fears within her about her future.

Gabriel seeks to challenge his new congregation to a vital faith as they celebrate Advent and the coming Christ. All the while he longs to court Matilda but first needs to minister to her heart with the greatest gift of all: God’s grace and the love He showed us all through the birth of a humble child.

THE CHRISTMAS LIST

This is a sweet holiday novel by Dixie Jarchow, called The Christmas List

Mandy likes to make lists for everything and even has one for choosing a husband. Her goal is keep structure in her life and avoid suprises. This is how she believes she can be truly happy.

Max is spontaneous and loves sculpting. He’s never made a list in his life believing that God is ultimately in control anyway.

When Max finds he has more work than he can handle, he hires Mandy to take care of the paperwork for his business. Yet when love comes calling, she struggles to keep her own emotional accounts in balance, especially around Max.

Somehow they both need to learn from each other: that a little structure can be good, and that maybe God’s list is better than any either of them could come up with. A story about opposites attracting and how can use our strengths to help each other while smoothing out our rough edges, and all with a holiday twist.

I give all three of these stories five bones, because holiday reads are always fun and I’m a dog, I don’t have thumbs.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

 

Spatlze Speaks: Black Friday and Black Diamond Gothic Regencies (Book Reviews)

There must be some odd coincidence that the Black Diamond Gothic Regency series by my mom, would release on Black Friday with a special bonus! Now, as a dog can I just say I find it clever that the author, who happens to be my mom, put an animal in each of these books as a supporting role? In the first three there features a parrot, a dog, and a talking crow! I won’t tell you which appears where, you’ll have to read them to find out.

THE BARON’S BLUNDER

First of all let’s just remember that  The Baron’s Blunder which released last year, re-releases today for FREE and with a new cover and fresh revisions. How cool is that? The story is a prequel to the series and introduces us to the evil Black Diamond who becomes a nemesis to Lord Marcus Remington’s friends and family.

The Honorable Henrietta Allendale, sister to Lord Remington, is unbeknownst to her brother acting as a spy for the War Office at Whitehall. When she runs into Lord Charles Percy she suspects something is off with the man who introduces himself originally as “Mr.” Percy instead. And she didn’t need him to save them from a highwayman. She was perfectly capable of dispatching the criminal herself.

As the couple verbally spar she shows her abilities and uncovers his lie. Can she trust a man who would deceive her so, even though it was to avoid a title-seeking debutant of which she was most definitely not. But something about the handsome lord intrigues her.

Lord Percy was adverse to marriage until he met Miss Allendale. But courtship must take a back seat to keeping her alive from the minions of the Black Diamond who now have her as their target simply because she was seen with him. Can he save her and win her heart at the same time? Or will they all lose the greatest treasure of all, love?

THE VIRTUOUS VISCOUNT

The first full-length novel in The Black Diamond Gothic Regency series is The Virtuous Viscount.  Lord Marcus Remington has decided it is time to find a wife. He didn’t expect her to be in the wreckage of a carriage in the middle of a spring storm, but rescuing Miss Josephine Storm challenges his heart and very character of the man known as the Virtuous Viscount. But when the injured young woman weighs heavy on the viscount’s mind, convention goes out the window.

As Miss Josephine Storm recovers her physical health, her heart is in even more danger. When The Black Diamond’s plot to take over Britain puts Marcus and his friends in the criminal’s cross-hairs, Josie’s life is threatened. Marcus must chance losing her good favor and risk his virtuous reputation in order to save her life. Can Josie believe in the man she thought she knew when the facts say otherwise?

 

LORD PHILLIP’S FOLLY

The second full-length novel in The Black Diamond Gothic Regency series also releases today! Lord Phillip’s Folly features the first of Lord Remington’s friends to find himself faced with the challenges of love and courtship.

No good deed goes unpunished.Lord Phillip Westcombe is a younger son and sufficiently independent. He has no need upset his tidy life with the messiness of love, but when he comes to the rescue of the lovely Lady Elizabeth Follett, and the two are found in a compromising position, his life takes an unexpected turn. Barely knowing each other, they are forced to wed.

Embarking on a new life they must learn to trust God as they face an evil which threatens their lives and the security of the British Empire. Will the minions of the Black Diamond–the bounder who owns the soul of Elizabeth’s father–succeed in their evil plans? Will Phillip and Elizabeth’s new love and faith survive the test that awaits them? Or will they all fall to the Black Diamond?

I strongly recommend all three of these books and there are three more to come in 2018! Sir Michael’s Mayhem, Lord Harrow’s Heart, and The Captain’s Conquest. And all feature an animal as part of the supporting cast including a ferret, a kitten, and a sheep? Yes! All these books get five bones because I’m biased and these books are by my mom!

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.