Tag Archive | contemporary romance

Spatzle Speaks: Picking Daisy (Book Review)

My mom was at it again, falling in love with someone’s work that I had to bark at her just to play tug-of-war. Apparently, Kimberly Miller’s debut novel, Picking Daisy is a great read so you might want to check it out. Here’s what I know about the book.

First of all, let’s start with that rock-star boy on the cover. Robby Grant has come to the end of the earth with addictions time and again and now, out of recovery finds that his band will have nothing to do with him. They want to have someone else sing his songs on tour, leaving him reeling in the dust. Then his uncle takes a tumble and his super-human military brother shames him into going to do something worthwhile for a change and helps someone else out.

Daisy Parker lives her life from a wheelchair and struggles emotionally with the severe after-effects of what put her there (no spoilers!) The last thing she needs is an irresponsible rocker to enter her world even though her neighbor and best friend (Robby’s uncle) thinks she should marry the guy she’s never met.

She finds that when Robby shows up, she’s able to look past the tattooed, arrogant exterior to see someone who is also hurting. So she offers to help him.

Robby is shaken by this beautiful woman. He really doesn’t see the wheelchair but is intrigued by the character of the lady sitting in it who challenges him in gentle ways.

A group of friends and the paparazzi complicate their relationship and before long a friendship born of woundedness and a mutual love of music flourishes into a romance as both challenge each other to grow in ways neither could have imagined.

As he pushes Daisy out of her comfort zone, can he be the man she needs, especially when she finds out just how he betrayed her? And can Daisy really learn to trust a man again, especially a man with such an unstable past whom she’s grown to love and care for?

This is a great read and a creatively told story with depth of emotion as and the painful reality of dealing with the consequences of their sins as well as the sins of others. Forgiveness and love can be the sweet song of the soul after all and Kimberly Miller weaves these themes in beautifully to a happily-ever-after ending.

I give this book five bones, because I’m a dog and I don’t do stars.

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

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The Secret of Pembrooke Park (Book Review)

I’m typicaly a prolific reader but struggled with Julie Klassen’s latest Regency-era historical fiction, The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Typically in cases like this I wouldn’t even post a review but as I received a free copy from Bethany House, I am obligated to do so.

Abigail Foster is trying to save her family from financial ruin. Ever practical, and in search of inexpensive housing they agree to travel and live at Pembrooke Park, a home abruptly abandoned eighteen years past. Mysteries abound including the story that there is hidden treasure in the mansion. Abigail hopes to find it and restore her family’s fortune.

The local curate is welcoming and as much as his family knows the history of the place. His only warning is that strangers might come to search for the treasure. Mysterious letters and hidden rooms provide diversion in her quest as does the handsome pastor. Maybe she’ll find both love and treasure. . . or danger.

This book is indicative of some others from this publisher which contain far more detail than necessary to tell the story. I found myself bored and easily setting it down for days on end with no real desire to pick it up again. I love Regencies but this is not a traditional light, sweet, Regency. It is a historical novel. While well-written it was not what I anticipated and coming in at 456 pages seemed too long of a book for the story to be told.

Pesto and Potholes is Finally Here!

Hey, today is the big day. Release day. My debut novel, Pesto and Potholes is finally here. So indulge me in this moment of self-promotion.

Renata tries to escape her past and runs straight into . . . love.

Renata Blake has moved to the Milwaukee area to leave behind a painful past as a victim of abuse. She discovers a family like she’s never had before, at Orchard Hill Church and is drawn to handsome Packer fanatic, Antonio. After all she’s suffered through, could she ever trust a man again?

Antonio DeLuca has a full life with his family, church and his job as chef and manager at DeLuca’s Cucina. Having been betrayed in love, he is afraid to trust a woman again. How would he fit her into his already full life anyway?

As circumstances draw them together and attempt to tear them apart, life becomes a combination of savory pesto and painful potholes as both Tony and Renata learn that with God’s help, and the support of a faith community, they can both learn to love again.

And maybe fight a few ninjas along the way.

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“In this dynamic novel, talented author Susan Baganz takes readers on a roller-coaster of events and emotions to remind us that even when life seems off-track, God rides beside us and promises “Have faith, child; you are safe in my care.” Reserve space on your Keepers shelf for PESTO AND POTHOLES!”  Loree Lough, award-winning author of 104 books, including reader favorite SAVING ALYSSA [#3 in Harlequin Heartwarming’s “A Child to Love” series], and FOR LOVE OF ELI, winner Readers Choice Best Short Contemporary award [Abingdon’s “Quilts of Love” series.]

“Poignant romance of two lost souls learning about the things that go wrong, humanity’s fault lines and how to grow and love again despite the potholes that inevitably crop up. Baganz manages to throw some laughter and joy into desperate situations in this debut novel. Read Pesto and Potholes for a crazy adventure that makes Italian food with a side of Ninja warriors seem natural.” Lisa Lickel, multi-published author of several novels including HEALING GRACE and THE LAST DETAIL.

Writer Wednesday with Becky Wade

my stubborn heartBecky Wade quickly became one of my  favorite Contemporary inspirational authors with her debut novel, My Stubborn Heart which has become a cherished book read multiple times. I’ve enjoyed her subsequent novels as well. It is an honor to have her on my blog today!

When did you decided that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?
I decided to become an author shortly after graduating from college. I’d always been a reader. But it wasn’t until I frowned down at a book I disliked that I first thought, Maybe I could do this better? I was living overseas with my husband back then and had lots of time on my hands, a computer, and an imagination. As soon as I began work on that first manuscript, I fell in love with the process of writing. I’ve completed ten manuscripts now and that love for it has remained.
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What’s your pet peeve?

When people take up a coveted space at the gas pump and then run inside to buy something inside the station.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?
At the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in 2013, I sat down at the Bethany House dinner and said to the woman seated next to me, “Hi, I’m Becky. What’s your name?” Um, it was the head of marketing at Bethany House. This is someone I communicate with via email ALL THE TIME. Someone I’d met face to face previously. So embarrassing! In my defense, she’d completely changed her hairstyle. And it had been more than two years since we’d seen each other.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?
Finding a balance between my writing responsibilities and my family responsibilities. My kids need a lot of my time and my writing needs a lot of my time, too. I typically put the kids first, but then I feel the pressure of the writing piling up. It’s stressful.

undeniably yoursHow do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?
Negative reviews: Honestly, I avoid reading them as much as possible. When I do read one, I simply tell myself that my books aren’t for everyone. If I tried to write to please everyone, I’d end up pleasing no one, least of all myself and God.

Rewrite requests from my editors: I let them simmer in my mind for a few days, sometimes as long as a week. While they’re simmering there, I’m striving to re-imagine the story in new ways, trying to figure out, ‘How could I make those suggestions work?’ I’ve found that, for me, it’s best to take an active fix-it approach rather than to sulk. Fixing it accomplishes more than sulking. 🙂

That said, there are times when business-related things I have no control over begin to tug me down. During those times, I read the Bible and pray and re-focus myself on what I’m doing with my books and why. I wait, in faith, for my positivity to return. And it always does.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?
For me, this job is about the quality of the work. God has called me and equipped me to be a writer so I truly want each book to be as good as I can make it. For Him. And I truly want to tell the story that He leads me to tell each time. My best success has been found in the feeling of satisfaction I receive when I come to a place where I finally feel that I’ve accomplished those goals with a story.

MeanttoBeMine_compWhat would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?
1. Write what you love.
2. Learn the craft.
3. Don’t worry so much about trying to build a platform and blogging and self-imposed deadlines. The joy in being unpublished is that you have freedom and time. Enjoy it! Have fun with your novel and your characters!

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?
A ministry of books that encourage believers in their faith and encourage non-believers to know Christ.

What is your current work in process?
I’m working on the final Porter family novel, Dru Porter’s story. It’s not yet titled and won’t release until May 2016!

Connect with Becky Wade on social media:

Website         Facebook          Twitter        Blog        Pinterest

Writer Wednesday with Melissa Tagg

melissa taggMelissa Tagg, author of Made to Last and Here to Stay, is a former reporter and total Iowa girl. In addition to her homeless ministry day job, she’s also the marketing/events coordinator for My Book Therapy, a craft and coaching community for writers. When she’s not writing, she can be found hanging out with the coolest family ever (not that she’s biased), watching old movies, and daydreaming about her next story. She’s passionate about humor, grace, and happy endings.

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

I have always wanted to be an author. I loved books as a child and at some point my little kid brain realized that somewhere out there were people writing these books I loved. So I decided I’d do the same one day. That dream never left me.

What’s your pet peeve?

People who give me mean looks at stoplights when I’ve got my music loud in my car.  I’m sorry, I like to blare Needtobreathe when I drive!

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?made to last

I don’t embarrass too easily, but I’ll never forget winning an award, going up to give my speech and blurting out “holy crap.” Not exactly the composed speech I’d hoped to give.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

The biggest challenge has definitely been balancing my writing life with my fulltime day job with my attempts at having a social life. Juggling is hard, and this past year especially has been a challenge. But I keep thinking God doesn’t get us started on a path only to abandon us halfway down the road. So when my schedule gets overwhelming, I try to remember I’m not in this alone.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

Ohhh those pesky reviews. I don’t yet have the self-control of some authors who just plain never read reviews. I definitely skim reviews and if I see a one- or two-star review, it’s similar to watching a scary scene in a movie when you know you should look away but just can’t. J Honestly, though, I have been blessed with somewhat thick skin…I don’t tend to dwell too long on negative reviews.

The couple times a not-so-great review has managed to get under my skin, I try to remind myself that not every story is for every person. And that very likely, the person writing the negative review doesn’t have anything against me personally…and also probably has no idea that the book they trashed was a piece of my heart. To them it’s just, you know, another book. I remind myself of all that…and then go eat ice cream.

Here to stayWhat do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

Well, I’m still very much a newbie, but I think finishing my third book has been my biggest success so far. I have no idea what reader reaction will be to this story (From the Start, releasing April 2015) but it was definitely the hardest thing I’ve written so far…so simply getting it done feels like a massive success.

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

  1. Definitely, definitely focus on learning the craft…and the best way to do that is through joining a writing organizations like My Book Therapy. Hands-down one of the best things I ever did for my writing was to learn from award-winning authors like Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck who know the craft inside and out. Plus, the community and friendships I’ve formed through MBT are amazing.
  2. Find a craft partner…it doesn’t have to be someone who regularly critiques your work, although that can be beneficial too. But for me, simply having a craft partner to brainstorm with, to text when I’m stuck or frustrated, to share goals and prayer requests with, that’s such a wonderful thing. I have both a craft partner and a small group of writing friends who I work with and I can’t imagine doing this writing thing without them!
  3. Trust God. I know, it can sound like the most trite thing ever. And I’m great at talking about trusting God and not always so good at doing it. But I really, really believe he is capable of opening the coolest doors at the best times. There’s a lot of peace and rest that comes from handing our dreams over to him.

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

Ooh, that’s a big question. I guess I’d like my legacy to be summed up in one word: love. I’d like to be remembered as someone who loves God and the people around me and who puts Gods love for us on display through my stories.

from the startWhat is your current work in process?

I just turned in the rewrites on my third book, From the Start, which releases next year. It’s about a jaded romance scriptwriter and a wounded ex-football player. She’s hungry for what she thinks is gritty, real life…and he just wants to keep living in the make believe world of his past fame.

Next up is book four which I’m plotting as we speak.

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