Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Babes

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I'm a mother of three boys, ages 11, 9, and 3. There's never a dull moment around our house for sure. Over the years, I've learned that males aren't nearly as concerned with cleanliness as females, they tend to react first and think later, despite their steel exterior their feelings run deep, and though they rarely get along, they closely watch each other's backs. I've discovered that Legos are the greatest invention for entertainment and learning. I know that no matter how much I feed them they'll always be hungry an hour later, and a dinner free of bodily noises won't happen until I'm dead. But what I'm learning―and struggling with―the most is how much differently they think and perceive things than females.

Where I jump in and help mow grass, split wood, plant a garden, bleed brakes, and other dirty jobs, I often tease my husband that taking out the trash is a man's job. (Yes, I do take out the trash sometimes.) But as my three-year-old stated last week, it’s also God's job.

I woke the boys up to get ready for school and went straight to the kitchen to make coffee. My oldest son went into my youngest son's room after being called in there. The little guy wanted a hug before his brother left for school. My oldest mentioned he could hear Little Guy's heartbeat and let his baby brother listen to his heartbeat when Little Guy showed confusion over what a heartbeat was. After pulling away from his brother's chest, Little Guy said, "Hey, God's talking in there."

"What's He saying?" oldest son asked playfully.

"He's got a big trashcan in there, and He's getting ready to take out the trash."

Out of the mouths of babes. Our wonderful Savior, so willing to come into our heart and remove our trash. A never ending chore.

At some point, Little Guy has taken a Sunday school lesson or sermon and condensed it into something he could relate to, taking out the trash, as he sometimes does with his daddy. A chore a young girl probably wouldn't have compared to.

Another lesson learned: my husband and I aren't only teachers in our home. Sometimes we're the students.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Perfect Reads for Spring

As many books as I read, I can't always review each one. Here's a list of great books I've read recently, perfect for enjoying under a tree in this beautiful spring weather.

Courting Morrow Little by Laura Frantz

Morrow Little is haunted by the memory of the day her family was torn apart by raiding Shawnee warriors. Now that she is nearly a grown woman and her father is ailing, she must make difficult choices about the future. Several men--ranging from the undesired to the unthinkable--vie for her attentions, but she finds herself inexplicably drawn to a forbidden love that both terrifies and intrigues her. Can she betray the memory of her lost loved ones--and garner suspicion from her friends--by pursuing a life with him? Or should she seal her own misery by marrying a man she doesn't love?

This sweeping tale of romance and forgiveness will envelop readers as it takes them from a Kentucky fort through the vast wilderness to the west in search of true love.

I couldn't devour this book fast enough. I gave it 5 stars!

 Love in the Balance by Regina Jennings
Molly Lovelace dreams of being a society leader in 1879 Lockhart, Texas, but being smitten with handsome wrangler Bailey Garner doesn't seem the quickest route. If only he would settle down so he could support a family.

Bailey imagines doing great things for God, but his greatest obstacle is Molly. As long as he thought they'd be married, he excused their stolen kisses, but when she keeps refusing, he vows to earn her love. In town, he tries his hand at several different trades, but everywhere he turns he runs into the mysterious stranger Edward Pierrepont. No surprise that Molly's always making calf eyes at the wealthy adventurer.

As pressure from Molly's parents grows she is forced into a hasty decision. Had she weighed all her options and will she find love in the balance?
I was hooked from the first page. A beautiful story of love and grace. I gave this book 5 stars!
It Had to Be You by Susan May Warren
Eden Christiansen never imagined her role as her younger brother Owen’s cheerleader would keep her on the sidelines of her own life. Sure, it feels good to be needed, but looking after the reckless NHL rookie leaves little time for Eden to focus on her own career. She dreamed of making a name for herself as a reporter, but is stuck writing obits—and starting to fear she doesn’t have the chops to land a major story. If only someone would step up to mentor Owen . . . but she knows better than to expect help from team veteran and bad-boy enforcer Jace Jacobsen.

Jace has built his career on the infamous reputation of his aggressive behavior—on and off the ice. Now at a crossroads about his future in hockey, that reputation has him trapped. And the guilt-trip he’s getting from Eden Christiansen isn’t making things any easier. But when Owen’s carelessness leads to a career-threatening injury and Eden stumbles upon a story that could be her big break, she and Jace are thrown together . . . and begin to wonder if they belong on the same team after all.
For a girl who has never cared about sports...I am now a hockey fan thanks to Jace Jacobsen. I gave this books 5 stars!
Montana Rose by Mary Connealy

When Cassie Griffin s husband dies, leaving her and her unborn child alone in Montana Territory, she finds herself fair game for every ill-bred, foul-mouthed suitor in town. That is, until Red Dawson steps in to make an offer. Will this china doll be safe in the hands of a rough-and-ruddy rancher? Although attracted to Cassie from the start, Red is reluctant to wed a nonbeliever. But it seems he has no choice. Will Red eventually win over this doll heart and soul? Or will he lose everything to a man obsessed with making Cassie his own?
Mary writes great cowboy love stories with humor. I gave this book 4 stars!
Kissed by a Cowboy by Lacy Williams
Just shy of her thirtieth birthday, Haley Carston returns to Redbud Trails, Oklahoma, to care for her dying aunt. She thinks she’s ready for this homecoming. She’s spent years escaping her perpetual shyness and being Katie Michaels’ tag-along friend, but being back in her hometown brings back a lot of old memories, especially when she is faced with the cowboy she never forgot—Katie’s older brother, Maddox.
Twelve years ago, Maddox Michaels was supposed to be somebody. He had everything. A football scholarship. A Division I team scouting him. Maybe even a chance at the pros. Now, he’s a burned-out cowboy working day and night to stay ahead of his brother’s medical bills and keep their family farm from going bankrupt. And trying to be a father-figure for his niece, Olivia.
When Haley and Olivia start spending time together, Maddox can’t help remembering those dreams that died alongside his sister. Will being with Haley open his heart to new dreams?
Short read. This novella had it all--romance, humor, and a few tears. I gave this book 5 stars!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Lily Among Thorns--Interview with Author Jericha Kingston + Giveaway

Today, I have the privilege of interviewing my critique partner and dear friend, Jericha Kingston, about her debut novella Waiting for Lily Bloom. Before we get started, let me introduce you to her book.

Cover art by Nicola Martinez

"As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters."
Song of Solomon 2:2
James Bloom has prayed three years for rain and five years for a wife. His dreams are demolished on Palm Sunday, 1935, when a catastrophic dust storm hits Oklahoma, and his neighbor’s niece has to ride out the storm at his house–-overnight. The next day, he’s forced to marry her, an East coast city girl who can’t speak. Could this be God’s plan?
Condemned to a future married to a stranger in the dusty Oklahoma wasteland, Lily Driggers longs for her home. Yet somehow, her new husband is the only one who understands her silence.
As Easter approaches, Lily and James wonder if there is hope after the storm.
     "Do you know what happens to thieves?"
     Her head snapped back. Hazel eyes widened as her mouth fell open. Then her chin trembled. Finally, her brows drew together and the eyes underneath hardened. Before he could stop her, the intruder hopped up, dove for the sack, and shoved it at his chest. He clutched the sack of clothes. As close as she was, the gold of her eyes were distinct flecks of green and brown. A spoonful of freckles dusted the bridge of her upturned nose. She spun on her heel and marched to the door.
     What? Why did she give him his clothes? "Wait a minute." He tossed the clothes onto the chair, dashed after her, and gripped her arm.
     She jerked away, hands clenched and lips pursed.
     He raised his hands, palms out. "OK, OK." Warm air fled from his lungs in a huff. "I take it you’re not a thief."
     Her chin rose and her eyes sparked.
     "You brought these clothes back?"
     She rolled her eyes and folded her arms once more before she nodded.
     He ground his teeth. Women. Who could understand them? "Then why didn’t you just say so?"
     Her back straightened and her arms fell to her sides. Nostrils flaring, she approached like a bull. She advanced until her forehead was level with his mouth. With a fleeting, heated glance at him, she walked to the table and wrote something in the dust with her index finger. Turning back to him, she lifted the same hand and motioned elegantly at the table. Finally, she smirked, folding her arms again.
     He stepped forward and read words that caused his chest to tighten.
Thanks for meeting with me today, Jericha. I’m so excited about the release of this book.
Thank you, I’m honored to be here.
Tell us about your new release.
Sure. Waiting for Lily Bloom is an inspirational romance set in 1935 Oklahoma. Our hero, JamesBloom, has prayed years for two things he needs, but he doesn’t receive the answer he expects. Our heroine, Lily Driggers, is a Savannah native who’s visiting her aunt and uncle, but unwillingly becomes an Oklahoma resident instead.
Hmm. When I think of 1935 Oklahoma, I think of dust storms.
You’re right. James and Lily experience the worst dust storm in American history.
That’ll be messy.
(Smiles) You bet.
What topics do you address in your story?
Tough things, like poverty. Disability. Relational things, like communication, and how important it is to use words to encourage. Forgiveness. Foster care. Marriage.
That’s some list. What disability are you referring to?
Lily is mute.
Your heroine is mute? How does James talk with her?
Very carefully.
(Laughs) As I recall, he’s not so careful at first.
Indeed. But I love James. He’s patient and kind, but most of all, he tries to meet Lily’s needs. He shows her what love is through words and actions. That’s so important.
And Lily?
Lily isn’t someone who trusts easily. She’s trying to figure it all out.
Does she?
What surprised you the most about the Dust Bowl during your research?
Due to drought conditions and poor farming techniques, the worst dust storm in American history blew from Oklahoma to the East coast. When the dust reached Washington, D.C., President Roosevelt signed the Soil Conservation Act. The dust storm was so intense that "Sailors 300 miles off the Atlantic coast often needed to sweep Kansas soil from their decks off their ships."1
During the writing process, did any of your characters shock you or do something you didn't expect?
Of course! I was frequently surprised by Lily, our heroine.
Do you plot your stories before writing?
Very little. It's too confining. I write a mini-outline with lots of question marks. It's just a map, not the destination.
What do you most want readers to take away from this story?
No matter what the storm, God is good. Storms reveal our character and God's faithfulness.
Now that we’ve heard a little about your story, tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know about you.
Oh, man! Um … okay, how about this? I have two pins in my knee. I broke my leg playing football.
When did you do that?
I was twelve. Or thirteen. I can’t remember.
Were you on a team?
Not after the injury. (Laughs) Actually, it was a friendly neighborhood game that got out of hand.
Thanks for being with us today. Where can we find your book?
It’s an e-Novella, available now from PelicanBookGroup.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook.com.

Where can we find you online?

Twitter: @JerichaKingston
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jericha.kingston
Blog: The Quid Pro Quills

It's Giveaway Time!!!
I'm giving away a copy of Waiting for Lily Bloom! (This book is published in e-book format only. Winner will receive the book that fits their e-reader. Ex. Nook, Kindle, etc.) To enter, comment below about your favorite flower and why it's so special to you. A winner will be chosen and announced April 30, 2014. Don't forget to share this link with your friends!

More great interviews and giveaways to come! Don't miss out. Follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Candice-Sue-Patterson/420360958035447 or
Twitter: @candicesue_patt

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Party in the Street

You've been invited to a party in the street! 

A book party that is. (A book and a cup of coffee is about as crazy as I get anymore.)

Not only do I love to write my own stories, I love to read and help other authors promote their books. A cheerleader of the book world, per say. I'm super excited to be a part of two amazing "street teams" this Spring--Bethany House authors Becky Wade and Melissa Tagg. Aren't the covers gorgeous?!

These two books arrived in my mailbox over the weekend, and I can't wait to get started. If you're already a fan of these ladies, join the party. If you've never read anything written by Becky Wade or Melissa Tagg, now is the time. In the coming weeks, I'll be posting book reviews and fun promotional activities to get readers involved. So, stay tuned to this blog (you can follow by email) and "like" my Facebook page (click here), where I'll share links to behind-the-scenes articles and giveaways for both books, given by the authors, along with a few of my own.
Want to join me?
Pre-order Meant to Be Mine by Becky Wade today! (Release date: May 6, 2014)
Visit Becky's website at http://beckywade.com and sign up for her e-newsletter!
Get to know the cover models from Meant to Be Mine, a romance story all in its own. Check out this exclusive interview by Becky and see how a book cover comes together.
Pre-order Here to Stay by Melissa Tagg. (Release date: May 6, 2014)
Visit Melissa's website at http://www.melissatagg.com/. Get to know Melissa as an author and coordinator of My Book Therapy and sign up for her e-newsletter!
Don't forget to follow both of these ladies on Facebook and Twitter!
It's going to be a great party. Hope to see you there! 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Confessions of an Ebook Hoarder: Why an Opening Hook is Important

Image courtesy of adamr
I admit it. I'm an ebook hoarder. I add new books to my Nook almost daily. In fact, I have so many books, I'll probably never read them all. Am I alone in this?


I see you blushing. You're guilty too, aren't you?

All authors know the importance of hooking their audience into the story right away, whether it's with a killer opening sentence or a juicy tidbit within the first few pages that makes the reader salivate for more. I'm a fan of both.

Now that I'm an ebook hoarder--in serious need of rehab--I'm very picky when it comes to the opening hook. I want the words to reach out, grab me, and slap me in the face. Truth is, I've got a million books to choose from, and I'll never have enought time to get to them all. So if the author doesn't grab my attention soon, I'm liable to move on the the next book. Am I alone in my way of thinking?


We all lead busy, hectic lives. We're bombarded with digital technology and colorful, flashy images all day long. It's become a way of life and we expect it, even if we don't realize it. Or brains require it. Therefore, an author must paint a picture in our minds with words to grab our attention and hold it. That creates a lot of pressure on the author, but done right reaps multiple rewards.

Here are a few of my favorite opening lines (ones that've reached out, grabbed me, and slapped me) I'd like to share with you for example.

Love in the Balance by Regina Jennings
The pew creaked as another sinner rose to unburden her troubled soul. Molly Lovelace twisted around on the slick wooden bench, bunching her tiered silk skirt agianst her mother's, and watched as Louise Bradford stood. Bother. As if she had anything interesting to confess.
     "After all God has done for me, I still can't live in holiness. This week I harbored thoughts of impatience toward my husband."
     Molly cringed. Surely Mrs. Bradford's worst thoughts would bleach Molly's laundry clean.
     Molly's transgressions, on the other hand...
I loved this opening because it not only painted a great picture of a church service full of people standing to confess their sins, but it held a touch of humor and made me want to read on to find out what on earth Molly had done.
The Trouble With Cowboys by Denise Hunter
Annie Wilkerson was sitting in the Chuckwagon, minding her own business, when he mosied in. He was with a crowd, of course. He always traveled in a pack--him and his handful of ardent admirers.
     Annie opened the menu, propped it on the table, and slouched behind it. The Silver Spurs belted out some country-and-western tune her sister probably knew by heart. The clamor in the crowded restaurant seemed to have increased twice over since Dylan and company walked in. But maybe that was her imagination.
     The chair across from her screeched against the plank floor. Finally. John was already ten minutes late. She lowered her menu, smiling anyway.
     An instant later the smile tumbled from her lips.
     Dylan Taylor plopped his hat down and sprawled in the chair like he owned the table, the restaurant, and half of Park County besides. His impertinent grin slanted sideways, calling his dimple into action--a fact of which he was no doubt aware.
     "Annie Wilkerson. Why's the prettiest filly in Moose Creek sitting all by her lonesome on a Saturday night?" Dylan's Texas drawl had followed him north, sticking with him like a stray dog.
I loved this opening because it pulled me into the heroine's personality and mood, it held humor, and painted such a great picture of the hero, I wanted more.
 Fireflies in December by Jennifer Erin Valent

The summer I turned thirteen, I thought I'd killed a man.

All it took was one sentece, and I was hooked.

These are just a few examples from books I had on hand.
My pickiness about an opening hook has also pushed me to strive for words that slap the reader when I'm writing my first paragraph. (I'm really not a violent person. I promise.) It's vital to our audience.

What demands do you have when you begin a book? Do you have a favorite opening line from a book you'd like to share? I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Abomination by Colleen Coble

"Crackles with an ominous electricity, pulling you inside the mind of a killer who is terrifyingly twisted...and terrifyingly real. Your heart will race." --T.L. Hines, author of Waking Lazarus 

A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN stands by the side of the road, barefoot and bleeding, a child in her arms. Someone just tried to kill her, but she wouldn't recognize him if she saw his face. She doesn't even remember her own name. 

A SUBURBAN COP surveys a kitchen in disarray--a woman and child missing, a chilling note. This crime scene is unlike any he has ever seen. 

THE MAN who calls himself Gideon waits and plans. He sees himself as a destroyer of evil, one who rids the world of abominations. He has already killed five. He will kill again.

And somewhere in the wilderness, in a secret geocache near where the wild swans gather, lies the unspeakable clue that links them all together. 

Michigan's rugged and beautiful Upper Peninsula is the setting for this absorbing tale of love and loss, beauty and terror, grievous sins and second chances. A deftly woven thriller from the popular author of the Roch Harbor novels. 

Published by Thomas Nelson, 2007

My Review

Colleen Coble is one of my favorite Christian authors for many reasons but mostly because she can draw me into her mysteries faster than I can blink, and her characters are so real. And this book was no exception. 

The story opens in the killer's point of view. Then we're introduced to the main character, who doesn't know where she is, why she's bleeding from a stab wound, or who the little girl is in her arms. All she knows is that she's terrified and believes someone tried to kill her. 

A car approaches, and she doesn't know whether to run or ask for help. The driver could be the person she's running from. Thankfully, the driver, Bree Matthews, provides a haven in her lighthouse and protection with her husband and search-and-rescue dog, Samson. When another murder happens in the area, one done in the same pattern as a wanted serial killer, a handsome cop arrives in Rock Harbor to help. The refugee, who thinks her name might be Evelyn, feels an instant connection to the cop. Is he the man she's running from, or is he connected to the past she can't unlock?

This story is full of twists and turns, and just when you'll think you know who the murderer is, you'll be proven wrong. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys suspense/thrillers.

I gave this book 5 stars!