Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Songbird Series by Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck

As I've mentioned before, I love reading books in a series. The Songbird Series by multi-platinum, country music artist Sara Evans and award-winning author Rachel Hauck is a "southern-flavored tale of triumph and grace." --Lisa Wingate, best-selling author of Larkspur Cove.
Travel to Whisper Hollow, Tennessee, where beauty, dark secrets, and forgiveness compel this Women's Fiction series.


... the one Jade doesn't want to send. The envelope that invites her mother, Beryl, to her wedding--and opens up more of her past than she cares to deal with. Jade has worked so hard to put her hard-scrabble childhood behind her.
And she's found everything she wanted in the beautiful green hills of Whisper Hollow, Tennessee. A thriving vintage shop all her own. A lovely one-eyed shepherd dog named Roscoe. And Max, the almost-too-good-to-be-true man she plans to marry in just a few weeks. For the first time in her life, her heart feels at home, and she can't wait to step out into their beautiful future.
But can she really have a sweet by and by if she can't come to terms with yesterday?
Author: Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2010
Genre: Women's Fiction
My Thoughts
The book begins with Jade's mother, Beryl, and the event that started it all. The scenes flip between Jade, Beryle, and Max's point-of-view, transpiring between past memories and present events. Dark secrets are revealed and lives are changed. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down. The unique characters and their past mistakes drive the plot to the very last page.

Happily married and owner of two successful boutiques, Jade longs to begin a family with her husband, Max. But when she discovers that Max has an illegitimate son—who he wants her to help raise—Jade’s life is turned upside down.

She flees to her childhood home, a rambling Iowa farmhouse, with enough room to breathe. There— while her mother’s health grows fragile, and the tug of her first love grows stronger—Jade begins to question everything she thought she knew about family, love, and motherhood. In the wide-open landscape, Jade begins to see a future that doesn’t rest on the power of her past, but in the goodness of God's tender mercies.
Author: Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2011
Genre: Women's Fiction
My Thoughts
Just when I thought things couldn't get worse, the plot thickens. In this book, Jade's faith--and her marriage--is tested in big ways. Through the love of family, and with a whole lot of forgiveness, Jade confronts her past, which drives her future. Jade's lessons taught me some things about myself as I placed myself in her (vintage) shoes.  :)     A powerful tale of God's grace.

Jade and Max share a deep love, though revelations from his past have recently shaken their marriage. And Jade is completely smitten with Max’s little son, Asa, whom she is now raising as her own. Their blended family brings her a joy she’s never known. But there is one more secret to be uncovered. One that will impact them all.
Max is doing his best to “man-up” and prove himself worthy of Jade’s devotion. As well as that of his young son. It seems like life in Whisper Hollow, Tennessee, will pick up where it left off until Max is faced with an unusual opportunity—leave his family’s law firm to coach high-school football. Realizing a fresh start will bring healing to their marriage, Jade takes the leap of faith and moves with him and baby Asa, bidding good-bye to her beloved Blue Umbrella shop.
The new beginning in quaint Colby, Texas, is soon sullied when Max discovers the high-school program isn’t all it seemed. While Max struggles to rebuild a once glorious football team, Jade wrestles with news that could break Max’s heart . . . and change their lives forever.
Author: Sara Evans and Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2012
Genre: Women's Fiction
My Thoughts
As Jade and Max fight to repair their broken marriage, their relationship--and faith--are tested once again. Forgive-and-forget is the anthem, which proves easier said than done. This final book in the Songbird Series deserves a standing ovation.
About the Authors
Best-selling and award-winning author Rachel Hauck lives in Florida with her husband, Tony, a pastor. A graduate of Ohio State University, she left the corporate software marketplace in 2004 to write full time. She's a therapist at My Book Therapy and has a heart for helping aspiring authors grow. She is the author of more than sixteen novels. Don't miss her newest release Once Upon a Prince, available now!
Visit her website at www.rachelhauck.com
Multi-platinum recording artist Sara Evans has been honored with numerous accolades, among them the 2006 Academy of Country Music's Female Vocalist of the Year and the Country Music Association's Video of the Year for "Born to Fly." Evans has been named on of People Magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People" and won the hearts of television viewers as the first-ever country star to compete in ABC's Dancing with the Stars. Sara is a Cabinet Member of the American Red Cross.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Balance in the Christian Writer's Life--An Interview with Author Denise Hunter

Balance In The Christian Writer's Life
An Interview with Author Denise Hunter
Today I'm joined by multi-published, multi-award winning Christian Fiction author, Denise Hunter.

Candice-- Thank you so much for agreeing to be here today, Denise. I’m truly honored.
Denise-- Thanks for having me, Candice!
Candice-- I recently finished “Balance in the Christian Life” by Dr. Jeffery J. Fugate, where he biblically explains how to find a good balance between work, God, family, and self. It was a great help to me as a stay-at-home-mom, who can’t find enough hours in the day to get everything done. And now I’ve added writing to my daily To-Do list. Thus my inspiration for this interview—finding balance in the Christian writer’s life. You’ve been writing since 1996. I’d love to learn how you’ve evened all the scales.
Let’s begin with work. When you first started writing, you wrote during your children’s nap times. How did you organize to allot for more writing time as you became published? Do you still follow the same schedule, or have you had to reorganize as your children have grown?
Denise-- Great question. Writing was kind of tricky when my boys were little, but it's gotten much easier. I've been blessed to have publishers who have worked with me in spacing my books so I haven't been too overwhelmed. Yes, I wrote during the kids' nap times when they were little. Then as they grew up I wrote while they were at school and took most summers off. As they've gotten older, I've been able to write year round and now produce a book and novella every 9 months.
Candice-- When it comes to family time, how did you discover a good balance between edits and deadlines against extra-curricular activities such as your kids’ sporting events, quality time with your hubby, etc.?
Denise--I have a writing routine that I'm pretty adamant about sticking to. Since I write while the kids are at school and hubby's at work, it doesn't interfere too much with our family life. Sometimes I'll work on marketing/promotion during the weekend, but my family knows they come first.
Candice-- I’ve read where you’re very active in your church. To write the stellar quality of Christian fiction that you do, you have to stay in tune with God in order to pass His message to others. With writing on one weighting platform and family on the other, how have you equalized your “God platform” (if I may refer to it as that for a moment) to serve within the church and refresh yourself daily with Him?
Denise-- It hasn't always been easy, especially the church obligations. I played drums for our worship team for 8 years, and that was very time consuming. I'm currently taking a break for health reasons. As for my daily time with God, again routine is important for me. After the kids are off to school and I'm ready for the day, my devotions come next. Spending time with God in the word and in prayer calibrates me for the day.
Candice-- Lastly—but most certainly not least—you. How do you fit yourself into the equation? In Smitten, your heroine, Reese, encourages her girlfriends to exercise and be healthy. In an interview with all the Smitten authors (Coble, Hunt, Billerbeck, and yourself), you all mentioned that the characters each of you wrote were raw to your own personalities. How do you find time to stay physically fit against many hours immobile in front of your computer? And are there certain things you do for you to harmonize your sanity amongst all this juggling?
Denise-- It's hard to stay active when your job requires you to sit! Add to that a health problem that includes varying degrees of fatigue and you have a real challenge. There are certain days/weeks that I can't exercise--I barely have the energy to get through my daily tasks. When I'm up to it, though, I work out with weights or walk five days a week.

Candice-- I’ve read your latest novel Barefoot Summer and couldn’t put it down once I started. (A habit I’ve formed with all of your books.) Please, tell us a little about Barefoot Summer and what inspired you to write it.
Denise-- Glad you enjoyed it, Candice! Barefoot Summer is the first book in the Chapel Springs series. The romantic series features the grown kids of the McKinley family and is set in the Midwestern river town of Chapel Springs, Indiana. In Barefoot Summer you'll meet coffee-bean dependent, butter-pecan-loving Madison. She's the perfect match (but will never admit it) for Beckett O'Reilly, whose nefarious reputation follows him more closely than his black lab Rigsby. She needs his help to reach her goal of winning the annual regatta, and he'll do anything to help her--he owes her that more!
 For this series I really wanted to come home to the Midwest. Being an Indiana girl, it's what I know, and there's something simple and lovely about a small Midwestern town. This series is also family-focused. The McKinley's are a tight-knit bunch, the kind who meet for weekly bar-b-cues, attend church together, and have each other's backs. And maybe they get up in each other's business occasionally. :-)
Candice-- Barefoot Summer is the first book in your Chapel Springs series. Is there anything you’d like to share with us about book #2?
Denise-- Book 2 is called Dancing with Fireflies and features Jade McKinley who has a minor role in Barefoot Summer. She's the lost middle child, returning home when she finds herself in need of family support. The hero, Daniel Dawson, has been an honorary member of the McKinley clan since he was young. He's harbored feelings for Jade for years, unbeknownst to her. But all that is about to change . . .
Candice--  Smitten Book Club releases later this year. This is the final book in the Smitten series. Will you be sad to leave Smitten, Vermont behind?
Denise-- I'm always sad to leave a series! But this one especially since it was created with my BFFs. It's been the best experience to write with great friends. To me, the Smitten books are a celebration of love and friendship.
Candice-- Out of all the heroine's you've written over the years, which are you the most like?
Denise-- I think I'm most like Reese from "Smitten", although that wasn't by happenstance. Since the book was written with my 3 BFFs and features 4 best friends, we decided to make our heroines like ourselves to make the scenes easier (and more fun!) to write. It's a lot of fun putting words in your friends' mouths. :) Reese and I both have self-depreciating senses of humor, can be mildly sarcastic (not in a mean way), and are a bit on the tom-boy side. Though Reese takes that to a whole new level. 

Candice-- Thank you again, Denise, for joining me today. We all look forward to your next book!
Denise-- You're welcome. Hey readers! Tomorrow I'm giving away 5 signed books to random members of my newsletter, so if you're interested, hop over to my website www.denisehunterbooks.com and sign up!
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Denise. You can follow her at Girls Write Out, a blog she shares with authors Colleen Coble, Diann Hunt, Kristen Billerbeck, and Hannah Alexander (her real-life BFF's!) and fellow Smitten series authors.
Get your copy of Barefoot Summer today at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
To learn more about Barefoot Summer, see my review by clicking here!
"Like" me on Facebook so you don't miss a thing! I've got more author interviews scheduled, giveaways, and book reviews. It's going to be a busy summer. I may even kick my shoes off and go barefoot. ;)

Are you a Denise Hunter fan? What book of hers is your favorite?