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Katie Crabapple: Homespun

I saw this question asked via Facebook this week:

Do you check the number of pages before choosing a book?

Before the Kindle I did not check – all you had to do was look at the book and let the thickness be your deciding factor, if it so mattered. I don’t really mind if the story is short or long – to each their own.

However, I have learned since the Kindle entered my life to check the number of pages. The reason for this is, I have stumbled upon the makings of a really great story and then all the sudden it’s done. Almost as if it’s been beheaded! I find myself looking for the rest of the story! Quickly searching Amazon and the Author’s website for more details or possibly the next book only to come up empty handed.

I don’t know why this happens but I know I dislike reading a book that leaves me hungry with no second course or desert. There are times I am looking for a quick book to read, like Katie’s Homespun series but I want the whole story. If you have to break it down in parts, okay, go for it. Just don’t leave me looking for more and coming up empty. That is in my opinion not worth my time.

Therefore, I do check the number of pages. If it is not above 50 – I will skip it, UNLESS it has been recommended highly. How bout you? Do you check the number of pages?

Earlier this week or maybe last week I read all 7 of the Homespun books by Katie Crabapple. It didn’t take long. The books are rather short. 64 to 98 pages in length, so pretty quick reads, but very enjoyable stories.

Dear Katie,

Thank you for such lovely stories. Rumor is that you are currently taking some time off from writing. I believe the last book you released was in 2015. I’m not sure the reason for the time away, but I want you to know that you and your sweet stories are missed. I hope you are well and that someday we’ll get to read more from you. God Bless.


Support Builds Friendships

In many of the books I read the women are helping each other with chores and whatever else. The thought of “we’ll get it done quicker, together” ever present. I believe having someone to help you complete a task also makes it more enjoyable, it gives you someone to talk to and laugh with. This support builds friendships.

I think that even in today’s world this is true. No, we’re not out helping one another with the laundry or the cooking, but there are things we do that help each other. Let me give you some examples:

  1. Your good friend is $100 shy of earning an all expenses paid vacation -so you rally together with others and order some make up from her to make it happen.
  2. A family member is going through a medical issue and has set up a GoFund me account – you spread the word.
  3. Someone you know has lost someone they love and a pray chain has begun, you join in.
  4. A community member lost their home and belongings in a fire – you rally together to be sure they have clothing and food and such.
  5. A friend of yours has started a new business and needs help getting it out there, again you spread the word.

See what I mean? We may not be gathering together doing laundry or cooking, but the work of many hands is still at play. I’m sure you’ve heard “word of mouth” is the best advertising you can get, right? I believe the “many hands” and “word of mouth” go hand in hand. They are companions. Like a right leg and a left leg – they support you, hold you up and keep you from failure.

This brings to mind Ecclesiastes chapter 4: Oppression, Toil and Friendlessness.

Oppression = cruel or unjust treatment.

Toil = work extremely hard.

Friendlessness = right leg and left leg are missing, you’ve no support.

We all know we live in a very cruel world. Don’t believe me turn on the news. I hate watching the news or listening to it on the radio. Rarely is there a HEA (happy ever after). Some of it will down right scare you to death. Just this week we had an active shooter not 5 miles from my home! I know I needed to be aware, but my goodness!

People are always going to say and do mean things and for that reason we need a tough skin, but even that doesn’t prevent the damage.

This is a lie and if you believe it you will be greatly hurt. Yes, sticks and stones may very well break your bones, but words are sharper than the sharpest knife. They have more power than you can imagine or perhaps you’ve already learned that life lesson.

People say, “Oh just let it roll of your shoulders” and you try. Then late at night, when you’re all alone those hurtful words replay through your mind like a bad dream stuck on repeat. You tried to protect it, but your heart has taken a painful hit.

You feel as if you have no friends or that the ones you do have don’t really care because they’re telling you to “shake it off“. Ostracized and sad. It’s easy to feel that way when you’ve taken a painful hit. It doesn’t matter your vocation in life, you can be a housewife, a business owner or a millionaire – those painful hits are gonna happen. Which is why we need supporters. We all need friends to help us through the oppression upon our toil.

I know it gets annoying when people ask you to like their Facebook page or add you to a group without your permission. Let me just say, I will never add you to a group without permission, I myself cannot stand that. I will however, invite you to like a page from time to time or share someones page with you. The reason for that is I enjoy supporting my friends as they toil through life. Thankfully, Facebook does give you the option to accept the invite or not. Truthfully, few people realize they have even been invited to like a  Facebook page.

Just this week my youngest sister was asking me about my mountain of journals. I thought she was aware that I am finally putting my brave face on and getting my writing out to the public. I thought I’d told her about it. I did invite her to like my Facebook page months ago. She had no idea or she would have been supporting me.

For a little research, if you are reading this and willing open Facebook on your computer. On the left hand side, scroll down until you see Pages. Click that. It will show you:

  1. Top Suggestions (based on pages you’ve liked)
  2. Invites (this is where you find your friends that are asking for your support)
  3. Liked Pages (ones you’ve liked – you can edit those there as you need to)

I don’t believe you can view this from your phone. I’ve looked and not found it, anyway. Every time I open Pages on my computer I find several invites. Today, there are 7. Now, do I accept every invite? No. However, I do accept those that truly apply to me, like say fellow Authors, writing pages, and coffee pages. We all know how I love coffee.

Now, if you did as I asked – then if you don’t mind leave a comment with the number of invites you had. Did you even know they were there? Makes it kinda hard to support your friends and family if you miss the invitation.

Why am I writing about this? If you’ve visited my website before or my Facebook page, you know that I try my very best to support my fellow Authors. I do this in several ways:

  1. Amazon Review
  2. Goodreads Review
  3. Share via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest
  4. Review their book on my website
  5. Thunderclap (just learned about this)
  6. Voting – sometimes their cover or book is up for an award
  7. Connect with the Author by tagging them and hash tagging their name and book
  8. Bookbub, BookCave, Instafreebies, Inspired Reads, Pixel of Ink, Kindle Unlimited and E-Discovery.

There is so much you can do to support causes, people and things that are important to you. So many ways you can make them feel less lonely. I’ve read some really nasty reviews out there and I know most Authors avoid reading them because they hurt. I believe people just need to quit their belly achin’ and stop being ugly. I’m positive their Momma’s raised them better.

So why am I telling you about all this?

I want you to understand why you will see this kind of activity from me. Why I write the reviews, share and help promote the way I do. Writing is a solitary adventure. The story that you have within you can only be written by you. That can be lonely and scary and perhaps you find yourself wondering if you’re even doing it right. Connecting with other Writer’s and Author’s makes it a more enjoyable adventure, you have friends of a like mind. In other words, you have found your tribe. Shouldn’t you support that tribe the best way you know how? That’s what I’m doing and someday I hope they’ll return the favor.

It is also, my hope that my kind words will find them and brighten their day from time to time in an attempt to drown out some of the oppression from their toil. Nobody wants to live in a friendless world.

Be Blessed as you Progress.  

If you would like to follow me in my journey you may find me in these locations.

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. Instagram
  4. Website
  5. Pinterest


Nom De Plume

A Pen Name.

I spent a lot time thinking and praying over this idea before I created my website. I researched why Authors use pen names and why they don’t. In today’s world if you use a pen name, I believe most people are aware of it. So why use one? Or better yet, why not? It’s fun!

I use one.

There are a lot of different reasons for choosing a pen name as well as pros and cons. I personally, have nothing against my first name, Tonya. Although, it is regularly misspelled. I hated my maiden name; West. No matter what there were jokes about which direction I was going. Ironically, I am very skilled at getting lost.

My married name, VanWinkle leads to a lot of “like Rip VanWinkle” remarks. Many people call my husband and son both, Rip. Not something I want to be called.

I wanted something that was mostly, all mine.

When I set out in search of a name, I asked myself these questions:

  1. Will it look pretty on a cover?
  2. Does anyone else have it/use it? I needed to make sure I could use it as my website.
  3. Is it hard to pronounce?

Pretty simple. I typed it up in several different fonts to see how it would look and eventually settled on:

My middle name is Renea – although most people I know spell it Renee – I guess my Mom liked to be unique. I like it spelled this way though. Then I wondered what I could make work with my maiden name as it would be easier to adjust than VanWinkle. I lost my precious mother-in-law June of 2014 and her name was Marilyn. In her memory, I took the “lyn” and added to my maiden name.

And there you have it. The how and the why of my pen name – a name that is all mine.

However, until this year I have written as Tonya VanWinkle or Tonya West. In February of 1999 – I received this after submitting a poem into a contest my Librarian Mrs. Russell had suggested.

When I received this along with a letter in the mail about it I was through the roof excited. I mean I felt like I was flying and then I realized I had to purchase said book. That deflated me a bit. I didn’t expect to be paid but if I wanted the book that contained a piece of my work in it, I had to buy it? Weird.

But have the book, I do and my poem is on the bottom of page 56. Today, I can’t find that book online anywhere. The furtherest back I can find is 2001.

The company however is still around and still providing the contest to students all around the world and they can be found here: Creative Communications

The copyright inside the book says that the writing may not be shared without permission of both Author and Publisher. I have contacted them about it and as soon as I receive approval I will share it with you.

My life changed drastically that very month as I learned I would be a Momma. I graduated that May, married that August and was blessed with a beautiful baby girl that October. Life got busy. My writing journey took all kinds of twists and turns. I attempted writing Children’s books for a while – so not my thing. I found a folder with my work from that time – I’ll have to share some of that mess later.

I continued to write poetry and other things – which is why I should have stock in journals.

I took a few writing classes here and there, but mostly I continued to dream. It wasn’t until the beginning of this year, when my son said to me…

well what did you want to do before kids

that I realized I was doing what I wanted to do before children. I was just keeping it all to myself and not pursuing the dream. With the empty nest fast approaching, I have a lot of time to myself and my goal this year is to make it happen, which means I have to stay focused!

While I work on accomplishing that goal I am enjoying sharing my past works and journey with you and I thank you for your visit today.

 


When It Hits

I’m not sure if I’m going to work on my novel tonight or just write this blog post and then attempt sleep. I don’t have to really be awake early tomorrow and I can sleep in as late as I want…so we’ll see what happens when I finish this post.

I was in bed reading. I had told my husband when we went to bed that I didn’t know if I’d stay. I wasn’t exactly ready for bed and I thought I’d come in here and work on my novel a bit, but he does like it when I go to bed with him. We lay there reading our books in comfortable silence. Although tonight, we were listening to my Mom tell us a story via snapchat using all those funny voice changers. It was hilarious! I often wish I would record her snapchats – some of the things she says belong in novels!

Shortly, he turned off his kindle and soon the peaceful night was interrupted by his snoring. I continued to read and as I read some things in the book started hitting some very tender spots in my heart. Have you ever read something and felt like the author was speaking directly to you? That’s how I feel tonight. Eventually those feelings lead me to close my kindle, walk back to my office and begin this post.

It’s easy for me to write about something I’m feeling, an experience, things I’m passionate about, letters to others, and such. I have honestly found myself questioning first person vs third person writing this week. The reason being everything I’ve ever written has been in first person. I write from the “I” stand point and I think because I’ve always done so, the reason I’m struggling with my novel is the “he said, she said” mess.

But when I sit down and I just start writing, it flows and the word count climbs beautifully. Example: I’ve been writing this post for approximately five minutes and my word count is at 340. Earlier today when I was working on my novel and getting no-where fast I might add, my word count only reached 371 words. It took me 3 hours to write 371 words that I’m not even sure I like yet! Are you kidding me? I’ve surpassed that with this post in under 10 minutes.

I recently read – I wish I could remember where – that

first-person has the ability to pull the readers directly into the story and create an unprecedented amount of intimacy between them and the character“.

So many people advise against first-person vs third, but I’m beginning to wonder if it’s simply an author’s preference.

Anyway, back to the reason I’m sitting here writing this post…

The book I’m currently reading is Java Muse by George McVey. George is branching out a bit with this book – it’s not about Nugget Nate that’s for sure – and while I’m not sure how much I actually like the book yet, the darn thing is hitting me in the heart! And NOT because it’s a romance but because of the character Aurora!

Several years back – when I lived in Ohio – I took a class called, Ministries by Strength. It was by far one of my favorite classes, I got to write a lot! I probably still have the binder laying around here some where. Perhaps tomorrow I will take a photo of the sheer number of journals, binders and flash drives I have…so many unfinished pieces, unfulfilled dreams and possible stories longing for life.

During this class I learn my top 5 strengths. I have a plaque somewhere with them framed inside it…I wonder what I did with that. Believe it or not, we are still unpacking boxes. We’ve been in our home for about 8 months now…retiring is hard work.

  1. Belief
  2. Idealist
  3. Empathy
  4. ***
  5. ***

I’ll have to find the plaque to remember the other 2. I’ve not forgotten these three because one of them shocked me and the others empowered me. I have a pretty strong belief system – or at least I think I do. My teenage children would say it’s too strong probably. Even people who don’t know me extremely well pick up on it rather quickly. I had a friend of mine once tell me, “You don’t not want to listen to that song. You’ll have to go home and read your Bible if you do.” -I don’t even know what the song was but I’m thankful for the warning.

An Idealist – some might not like that. I think it fits me perfectly. I’m always cooking up some idea in my head, be it a story, something for my flower beds, a quilt I should make, gifts for someone…I am rarely bored. I am able to entertain myself quite often. I can make myself laugh and even cry with some of the stuff I come up with. The mind is a playground and mine is very active.

Empathy is what shocked me. I never imagined I’d get that. I can be rather hard. I do not sugarcoat many things. I love to tell the story of how I became friends with my best friend.

I was living in Ohio. My marriage had been struggling and I was struggling personally. God put some very special people in my path. I had cried out to him to take the wheel of my life because I couldn’t do it anymore. I was making a massive wreck of it and I hated myself for it. The guilt was eating me up inside. These special people were part of a ministry called Mom to Mom. We met once a week for breakfast, Bible study and fellowship. In the beginning I fought it, tooth and nail. I wanted to stay home in my pajamas and do absolutely nothing.

I still enjoy that by the way and I know it’s not healthy, that I should get out more. I make myself go out but not as often as some would like I’m sure. I just enjoy being home and comfortable. I’m not depressed or miserable. I feel safe here. I do feel bad, well guilty -really, when I have spent the whole day doing nothing and my husband walks in and immediately does the dishes. I should have at least done that and why didn’t I? I’ve no idea on that. I’m not the best housewife – definitely not a strength.

Once attending Mom to Mom became a routine, I found I enjoyed it. I hated to miss a Thursday meeting. It fueled me. However, those beginning months were hard. At first I didn’t want to go and then I struggled with attending the play dates or outings they planned. Little by little I stepped out, but I was dealing with a mountain of hurt on the inside. There had been things said to me that had left invisible wounds that had yet to heal.

One day while attending a play date with them at the park my life changed. My youngest was 3 and my oldest 5. He was playing on the slide and she wanted me to push her on the swing. I couldn’t be in 2 places at once and the obnoxious lady that I avoided as best I could – since she was also my daughter’s piano teacher – was pushing her daughter on the swing next to mine and began to also push my daughter. She was helping me and I appreciated it until she spoke. She didn’t know what wounds I was dealing with on the inside and I didn’t know her well enough to appreciate her obnoxious joking manner.

Geez, don’t you ever play with your children?

OUCH! Yes, she was joking, but it was like pouring alcohol into an open wound and she had no idea. I decided then and there I did not like her and I did not want anything to do with her. I made it through the play date and home without losing my temper or falling apart. I refuse to fall apart in front of people, my temper on the other hand is something harder to control.

It was hard to avoid this woman. We both attending the same ministry, same Church, she taught my daughter piano and we were on the same leadership team of all things! During a monthly leadership meeting she broke down crying. I could not for the life of me figure out what was wrong with this woman. Do you know why she was falling apart? Between her sobs she cried,

…but I yelled at her!

She’d yelled at her precious daughter and felt like a monster for it. The guilt, something I was very familiar with for other reasons, was chewing her up something fierce. Most everyone had gone home and somehow I was the one left to, well…fix her. Growing up I was always trying to fix problems that arose, even today if something is happening that’s not right I find myself trying to fix it, make it better or put a bandaid on it at least.

So here this woman that I’d avoided getting close to sat crying a river and drowning in guilt and I had the nerve to tell her…

You are the best Mom I have ever known! All the kids, whether yours or not adore you. They all want to go play at your house all the time, mine included. You are their best friend. You are not a bad Mom and I don’t even like you!

Startled she looked up at me.

Y-you, you don’t like me?

My empathy skills are so on point right here and now that I go on and tell her,

No! I don’t like you!

Why?

…and so then we get into the reason behind that why, the invisible open wounds within and I magically walk away with what? A best friend! Believe it or not, and she to this day is still my best friend. We became nearly inseparable for my remaining time in Ohio. She came to visit me in England, we’ve been on vacation together and last year we needed a weekend away to recharge our batteries – so we found the middle point between us and met up in Charleston West Virginia for the weekend. I’m hopeful we may get to do it again soon. It is a beautiful place to visit.

Can you see why empathy being one of my top five strengths shocked me? I’m about as subtle as a gun! The truth of the matter is that I can put myself in other people’s shoes. I can relate. (I think I just remembered #4: Adaptability) I can feel and strongly so. When Jenny was overcome with guilt that day, I knew how awful it felt because guilt and I had been constant companions for a long time.

And so as I’m reading, Java Muse and R.G. is an author who has met the lovely Aurora. Aurora is a writer who dreams of being an author. Does that mean writers are not Authors? In my mind, it means if you are not published somewhere, somehow -then you are a writer. I honestly do not know where that puts me; as I have been published on different blogs/websites, a poem in a book back in 1999 and a newspaper article…BUT have I ever published a book? No.

So I assume, I’m considered just a writer at moment. Which drives me crazy because I feel until I have a book out I cannot join and play in the Author only groups. I want to learn from them and I feel locked out, but when I message a few I know on Facebook they are always kind and helpful.

I don’t want to give parts of the book away – so if you haven’t read it yet – perhaps you shouldn’t read any further on this post.

Aurora’s belief in herself is limited. She’s had people in her life tell her she is wasting her time and to quit fooling with it. I can very easily put myself in Aurora’s shoes. I’ve had Authors tell me

first you need to learn to write

and probably by a dictionary

Basically, “I’m not good enough“. Yet, I’ve had family, friends and teachers encourage me from early on. I began writing when I was 8. It has always been an outlet for me and that developed and grew into a passion. I cannot imagine a life where I am unable to write. I have also had family members say things like:

Well, you’ve never published a book before.

and that one probably sticks out and hurt the most, because all I needed that person to say was,

Yes, I believe you can.

Just to help my unbelief, to give me that cheerleader who wouldn’t let me quit on myself. I needed that person to believe in me. I was in middle of writing a novel, a novel that sits unfinished in my mountain of dreams, all because that person couldn’t say what I need to hear that day. I’ve had to learn to move past that, to believe in myself enough to push forward. It’s taken some time and in the process I have simply kept everything under my hat.

Oh, by the way – I get off on tangents sometimes and it truly interrupts my writing. I’m aware of the issue, trust me.

Sometimes the urge to write is so strong it literally pulls me out of bed! I get so frustrated because there are times when I feel that I need to write, right then and there, but LIFE…husband, kids, dog, cat, work, friends and I wouldn’t trade it, but sometimes I literally just cannot get there. And whatever it is that had entered my idealistic brain has vanished and refuses to reappear when I finally take my seat.

I do not go anywhere without pen and paper or my phone, but there are times when that is not enough or I return to the note I left myself only to wonder what on earth it was about. Yep, I’m that bad. I have a horrible memory.

Like Aurora, many times I think “It’s not good enough, I’m not good enough.What am I even doing?” And then I read something that’s total bologna and think if that can be published why am I sitting on a mountain of possibilities and not moving…

Fear. Rejection. Not being able to reach someone, to touch their life somehow.

You see, I’m not in it for money. It would be nice, I won’t lie – but one thing you hear over and over from ALL kinds of Authors is:

Don’t do it to get rich.

I believe there are several types of riches. There is of course money. I believe there are Godly riches – a blessing you’ve received from following God’s word. I believe there are also “riches of gifts“. What do I mean?

Christmas is my favorite Holiday and not because of receiving gifts, but because I love to give! I love to find that one special thing that touches the heart of the receiver, to see their bright smile and happy tear. It makes me feel good. It blesses me, heart and soul. It’s almost better than coffee.

So when I think of pushing submit, I dream of my words reaching the one whose heart needs them and will be touched. Who will find themselves standing in the shoes of one of my characters, just as I have found myself tonight standing in Aurora’s. Perhaps they’ll be inspired somehow or someway in their life.

Java Muse pushed me from my bed to write these words, simple as they may be. If I were George, and someone was writing this in reference to a book I’d written I would feel accomplished. As if I’d finally gotten out of my own way and made it. Ironically though, I’m not a hundred percent sold on Java Muse yet. I’m not even half way through it though. I’m reading it because I consider George a friend and I want to see how he does with this branching out. I want him to succeed with this and watch him grow as an Author. It’s helpful to me.

Anyway – I’ve rambled my little heart out and while my eyes are open I believe my head is tired. So I’m going to attempt a little shut eye. Later today, since it is now after 1 a.m. I will return to my novel, take a deep breath and try again. Thank you George for encouraging me through your words in Java Muse. I needed to read them. I will try to finish the book soon, after I’ve written many words of my own. Speaking of which this post is now over 2800 words…and to think I only managed 371 earlier. Where was my head?!

I’ll leave you with this. Words hurt. They leave lasting impressions. You can never take them back. So when you speak or when you write be sure that the impression you leave behind is one of love.

2844


Finding the Balance

School is almost out for the summer here in Virginia. My teenage children are beyond done, it has been a long year. Next year, I will have a Senior and a Sophomore – when did I get this old?! I don’t remember that happening.

I am looking forward to school being out too, simply because it means I can stay up late into the night and write twice a week without worry of having to get up at a certain time. I do most of my writing on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s. I enjoy writing when I’m home alone and the place is silent or late at night when the only thing that interrupts the peaceful quiet is the sound of my husband snoring. Yes, he’s that loud, but at least that T.V. isn’t blaring!

Three days a week I’m at the CrossFit box by 8:30 – which means I have to leave my home by 8 – meaning I really should get up at 7 verses 7:30. I am not a morning person, as a matter of fact one of my favorite shirts says, “Allergic to Mornings“.

However, I will be thankful that I train early throughout the summer due to the rising temperatures. The weatherman says, “High of 95 today” – he usually lies to me, so perhaps it will only reach 90. As I write this it’s barely 9 am and already 76.

Anyway, I say all that basically to say that on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday’s I cannot stay up late or I will never get out of bed and be on time. BUT…on Monday, Wednesday and sometimes Friday (depending if I go train Saturday mornings) I can stay up late!

Yes, that makes me happy! I am a night owl and all the writers/authors come out at night to play. It’s all about finding the balance that works for you. I refuse to sacrifice my health and I dearly love to write…so I’ve an odd schedule. Yes, I could train later in the afternoons, but I’ve had my 8:30 routine going for over 6 months and I hate to break that and try to get into a new one. Plus, I supervise the children for the 9:30 class – so it’s best to just get it done and then I have all afternoon/evening to do whatever…write, clean, write, manage social media, write, nap, write, shower…you get the idea right?

Last night, I got to stay up late…12:30-ish. I figured I’d last longer due to the massive amount of caffeine I had yesterday. “Hello, my name is Renea and I am a coffee addict“.   I was starting to fade and I thought to myself, “Union is just gonna have to wait until morning to get off that train“. I really wanted to keep writing. I only managed about 1,000 words before I gave in. Knowing that school isn’t quite out yet (and 6:30 was gonna bite me in the hiney), is the number one reason I gave in and left poor Union sitting on that train.

Today, I’m gonna see if I can’t get her off that blasted train and not read 5 books myself. I am my own worst enemy. I’d be a more productive writer if I didn’t read so much! I’m starting to use “reading” as a “reward” for x amount of words written. I haven’t decided on the amount yet. Perhaps, per 1,000 words but then we run into the problem of… will I put the book down and will my focus return or will I still be thinking of said book. So maybe I should say 3,500 words written per book reading privileges.

Finding that balance – I am a work in progress, not just my novels.

The office is still in the process of it’s makeover. I haven’t had anything new to share about that really as my husband has decided he needs a new saw to complete the task. A saw that he doesn’t want to go buy just yet, because his windshield needs replaced and he got a speeding ticket…in Italy! My husband travels for work from time to time and yesterday in the mail arrived a ticket from his trip to Italy – he’s not real happy about that. I’m not really either as it slows progress, but I did find it funny. Sometimes, well actually a lot of times, I just have to shake my head at him. Certain things only happen to him.

I thought however, before I go rescue Union from the train that I’d leave you with another poem from my stash of past writings. Between book reviews and my past writings, I at least have something to share with you until my novel is released. If you are of the praying mind, I’d sure appreciate those prayers as I journey forward. I have so many stories half written and within me that are trying to get out that sometimes I need a little help!

I hope you are having a blessed day and have enjoyed your visit here. Hey, would ya look at that 850 words and counting for this post…now if I could only type Union’s story as quickly I’d be golden!

Be Blessed my friends!


Review: Stones Creek

Sophie Dawson. I think I mentioned previously that I had just stumbled onto Author Sophie Dawson. My friend and Author, George McVey introduced me to her books. The two of them have worked together on books and personally, I think they make a great team, but each also have their own books out.

Sophie has been publishing her books from what I can see, since 2012 and I just recently heard of her! Imagine that! It really pays to be apart of Author groups via Facebook. I am part of several. One of my favorites is Pioneer Hearts. There are nearly 4,000 members and many authors. You are able to connect with them, interact with them and you have first hand knowledge of when some of your favorites release a new book. I do follow Authors I enjoy via Amazon, their websites and newsletters, and Goodreads – but in all honesty I learn more via Facebook.

The wonderful thing about this group and these Authors are they promote each other, they tell a reader, “If you loved this, you should really check out that!” and then we all find new wonderful stories to read! That’s how I found Sophie and even though I just found her, like within the last month, I have already read both her Cottonwood series and Stones Creek series. I highly recommend them both!

I was hoping there would be more added to them, especially Stones Creek and she did actually tell me that she is planning a spin-off of Stones Creek – The Ladies of Sanctuary House! Also, her project for NANO (National Novel Writing Month) is going to be Janie’s story from the Cottonwood series.

She even shared with me a way to be in-the-know before anyone else and maybe even snag a few FREE stories: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/4pu6ns1txb

She also has a new series out…Love’s Infestation. I haven’t read these, so I cannot recommend them, yet. Sophie’s books are Historical Christian and Contemporary Christian and from what I’ve read so far, have a lot of depth to them. I really like that.

Dear Sophie,

Chloe’s Sanctuary is the last book of yours I’ve read and I loved it! I was so happy for how things worked out with her. Her son reminded me a bit of myself. I’m the oldest of 4 and have been called the “Mother Hen” regularly because I am very protective of my family.

Chloe also reminded me a bit of my mother and some painful experiences she’s been through.

I truly enjoyed the entire series as well as the Cottonwood Series and I’m very excited for the projects you have in the works. I thought I’d liked Cottonwood better but now I’m not so sure! I loved them both. I think what intrigued me most about Stones Creek was the brides that arrived and their stories. I do love a good heart packed adventure.

I love the depth within your books, it brings about a lot of thinking and I like books that make me think and feel vs a book that leaves no lasting impact.

So thank you! Thank you for braving the world, publishing and sharing your stories. To me that is inspiring. I look forward to reading more of your work. Until then, be blessed as you progress.

Sincerely,

Renea

 


Book Review: Eleanor

Rachel Wesson. I cannot say that Rachel is a new author to me as I’ve read all of the Clover Springs books (10) and the Trails of the Heart series (currently 3 books). I’m not sure if there will be a number 11 for Clover Springs – I hope so, because I LOVE Clover Springs! We will just have to wait and see what Rachel does. I do know however that she has something in the works for Trails of the Heart and I can’t wait to read that!

I believe, Rachel’s book; Katie -the first one in the Clover Springs series was also her first book. Published February 2016. So in that aspect she is still a fairly new author, just not new to me because I’ve been reading her books for a year now. Her stories are amazing! I love all the characters. If you read Clover Springs, you really do want to start at the beginning and get to know them. You won’t regret it.

Now then, to write this review in Renea fashion – it’s time for a letter…

Dear Rachel

Thank you so much for writing Eleanor. I admit it wasn’t really her story I was interested in reading, but Wilma’s and I do feel it was more about Wilma than Eleanor – that could just be me though cause I really wanted to know about Wilma.

I hate to write any type of review that gives a spoiler – so let me just say I had wished something for Eleanor as I got to know her that in the end didn’t happen, however, it still all worked out and everyone was happy.

It was wonderful to see the compassionate side of Mrs. Grey too. She reminded me of my step-dad to be honest. He thinks he is this big bad tough guy. He got into trouble when he was young -long before I ever knew him – and spent several years in prison. So he has that persona of a bad boy. The truth is, he’s just a big ol’e softy! He’d do anything for anybody and so finding out that the battle axe Mrs. Grey has a soft side just made me smile.

I adore Father Molloy too. That man is wise beyond wise. I think he has a lot of insight and some secrets. I would love to hear his story.

I hated seeing Wilma break down, that tore at my heart. I know that broken feeling where you just become numb and I had empathy for her. I’m very thankful she got her HEA (happily ever after). And little Rosa, oh she melts my heart.

I don’t want to give away the story, so everyone will just have to go read it, but thank you so much for taking the time to write it and for simply being brave enough to publish your stories. Your books are ones I never miss – you may call me a stalker because the moment I see you’ve a new one, it becomes the very next thing I read. That is how much I enjoy them.

Clover Springs is amazing and your writing has caused me to care about each person there. I have also thought of picking your brain a bit here and there for my own work in progress, because not only do I care about them but your stories trigger the ol’e creative juices a bit. Also, your being Irish and my story having Irish roots makes me think…”I need to talk to Rachel”. Do you know anything about the legend of the Fairy Queen?

Sincerely,

Renea

 

 


Write Those Reviews

At the beginning of the year I decided that I would not only keep track of how many books I read this year, but I would also be sure to leave every Author a review – as long as I finished the book and could honestly do so.

Why did I decide to do this? Because, I feel the Author was brave enough to put his/her written work out there and a little encouragement can go a long ways. As a writer myself, I have struggled with being brave enough and I also know receiving that little “well done” keeps the pen or keys moving. It feels nice to have some appreciate what you’ve created.

I’ve also connected with many of these Authors on Facebook and they are great people who love to tell stories and they are human, they have feelings too. I’ve had some Authors in the past (years ago) make me feel as if I’d never make it as a writer. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t get to me. It did. It hurt, badly. Times have changed though and today, I consider several Authors my friends. Authors who are willing to speak to me and treat me like Author verses a peon. I also think…this is my friend, I read her/his book, shouldn’t I be a true friend and help promote it? For these reasons and more, I now write the reviews.

I do have a 3 chapter rule and I feel I’m rather lenient with that. I think most Readers give up long before that if the Author hasn’t drawn them in. The reason I have this rule is I have stumbled upon some really great books that just took a little longer to grab me, but in the end grabbed me so hard I couldn’t put it down. And honestly, I love those books! They become the unexpected adventure that pulls at every emotion. They make me feel deeply.

I also planned to write “lengthier” reviews on my website here as a letter to each Author – sadly, I’ve only accomplished that twice and I’ve read far more than 2 books this year. I admit my reading has slowed down a bit due to the fact that I am working on my own novels, but no-the-less I’m still reading.

I have left reviews at the end of each book. I love how reading on my Kindle allows me to write the review, right there as soon as I finish the book. Sometimes I hold on to it and write it a couple days later, mainly because I tend to finish books in the middle of the night and simply want to drift off to sleep after “the end“. I have found if I just leave the book in my carousel on my device I will remember to write the review. If I delete or remove the book…then oops. Those books usually return and I find myself saying, “I’ve read this“.

Since I’ve failed to write each Author a letter of review – I’ve decided to try and fix that by a serious list of link backs. These links within will take you to either Amazon, Goodreads or the Author’s Facebook page. Don’t be afraid to connect with them or reach out to them – they truly love connecting with their readers.I hope to get back to writing the review letters, I enjoyed that. Life just got in my way for a bit – it tends to do that from time to time.

So if you are looking for something to read…

Jan 2 – Wild West Wedding by Caroline Lee (#9 Rivers End Ranch series) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan 8 – Wronged by Sylvia McDaniel (#1 Cuvier Women) ⭐⭐⭐

Jan 8 – Flowers in the Snow by Danielle Stewart (The Edenville Series) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan 9 – Penny by Kirsten Osbourne (Orlan Orphans #6) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan 10 – Chasing Justice by Danielle Stewart (Piper Anderson #1) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan 11 – Cutting Ties by Danielle Stewart (Piper Anderson #2) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan 12 – Changing Fate by Danielle Stewart (Piper Anderson #3) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan 13 – Finding Freedom by Danielle Stewart (Piper Anderson #4) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan 13 – Betty’s Journal by Danielle Stewart (Piper Anderson 4.5) ⭐⭐

Jan 14 – Settling Scores by Danielle Stewart (Piper Anderson #5) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan 15 – Battling Destiny by Danielle Stewart (Piper Anderson #6) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan 15 – Choosing Christmas by Danielle Stewart (Piper Anderson 2.5) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan 17 – Wilhelmina by Hildie McQueen (Brides for all seasons #1) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan 18 – Phoebe’s Promise by Kay P. Dawson (Oregon Sky #1) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan 18 – Audrey’s Awakening by Kay P. Dawson (Oregon Sky #2) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Jan 18 – Ella’s Embrace by Kay P. Dawson (Oregon Sky #3) ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Feb 1 – Christmas in Clover Springs by Rachel Wesson (Clover Springs #8) ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Feb 17 – Redeeming Reputation by George McVey (Redemption Tales #1) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mar 8 – Erin by Rachel Wesson (Clover Springs #9) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mar 8 – Mail Order Mishap by Barbara Goss (Kansas Brides #1)⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mar 10 – Gunsmoke and Gingham by Kirsten Osbourne, Amelia C. Adams, Peggy L. Henderson, Kristin Holt and Margery Scott ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

It appears I took a break from reading until May, I was busy training and participating in a  couple of CrossFit competitions..and that my friend, is exhausting!

May 7 – Wooing in Wyoming by Kirsten Osbourne (At the Altar #11)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 7 – A Twisted Fate by Amelia C. Adams (Kansas Crossroads #12)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 7 – Dear Mr. Vander by Kit Morgan (Mail-Order Bride Ink #4)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 8 – An Unspoken Dream by Amelia C. Adams (Kansas Crossroads #13)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 8 – Oregon Bound by Rachel Wesson (Trails of the Heart #1)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 8 – Oregon Dreams by Rachel Wesson (Trails of the Heart #2)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 9 – Bridget’s Beau by Kirsten Osbourne (Rivers End Ranch #11)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 9 – Cute Cowboy by Pamela M. Kelley (Rivers End Ranch #12)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 10 – Welcome Wagon by Amelia C. Adams (Rivers End Ranch #13)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 10 – Sarsaparilla Showdown by Caroline Lee (Rivers End Ranch #14)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 11 – Mischievous Maid by Cindy Caldwell (Rivers End Ranch #15)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 11 – Baker’s Bob by Kirsten Osbourne (Rivers End Ranch #16)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 12 – Merry Manager by Pamela M. Kelley (Rivers End Ranch #17)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 15 – Santa’s Shopkeeper by Amelia C. Adams (Rivers End Ranch #18)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 16 – The Rancher Takes a Bride by Sylvia McDaniel (#1)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 17 – The Outlaw Takes a Bride by Sylvia McDaniel (#2)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 19 – The Marshal Takes a Bride by Sylvia McDaniel (#3)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 19 – The Christmas Bride by Sylvia McDaniel (#4)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 21 – His Magical Bride by Merry Farmer (#10)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 22 – Blacksmith’s Beauty by Caroline Lee (Rivers End Ranch #19)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 22 – Oregon Destiny by Rachel Wesson⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 24 – An Ivy Tangels by Kari Trumbo (Cutter’s Creek #19)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 24 – The Judge’s Bride by Patricia PacJac Carroll (#1)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 24 – Zebulon’s Bride by Patricia PacJac Carroll (#2)⭐⭐⭐

May 26 – Nolan’s Vow by Linda K. Hubalek (Grooms with Honor #1)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 26 – Elof’s Mission by Linda K. Hubalek (Grooms with Honor #2)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 26 – Angus’ Trust by Linda K. Hubalek (Grooms with Honor #3)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 27 – Healing Love by Sophie Dawson (Cottonwood #1)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 28 – Lord’s Love by Sophie Dawson (Cottonwood #2)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 29 – Giving Love by Sophie Dawson (Cottonwood #3)⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 30 – Redeeming Love by Sophie Dawson & George McVey (#4)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 31 – Redeeming Character by George McVey (#5)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

May 31 – The Pastor’s Replacement Bride by George McVey (#1)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

and we’ve made it to JUNE!

June 2 – His Brother’s Bride by George McVey (#2)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

June 5 – Discovering Dani by Cindy Caldwell (Rivers End Ranch #20)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

June 7 – Leah’s Peace by Sophie Dawson (#1)⭐⭐⭐⭐

June 7 – Hook, Line and Blinker by Jana DeLeon (Miss Fortune Series #10)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

June 7 – Chasing Norie by Sophie Dawson (#2)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Currently reading…

Rachel Wesson is FAST becoming one of my favorite Authors. She does a great job – such a good job that I’ve not been able to truly focus today because I knew this book had just been released! EEEK! Look for my review soon – like seriously soon, because we all know I won’t get much done until I finish this book. I’ve read several of the same authors recently, so I may swing back through and write them each a little something, we’ll see. Until then, be blessed.

 

 

Oops, I forgot one! Gallant Golfer by Cindy Caldwell (Rivers End Ranch #10)⭐⭐⭐⭐


From the Past

I find it comical some of the things my younger self once wrote. Sorting through things in my office has been an interesting little trip down memory lane. I’ve found things and wondered, “When did I write this” or “Why did I write this”. I have found a little book that I kept several poems in, along with a book I stored my writing pieces from Creative Writing class my Senior year of High School, a news paper article I wrote and the ONE book with my published poem that happened in 1999. I have SO many little journals – it’s a good thing my husband is building me lots and lots of shelves.

Anyway, I thought you might find the trip down memory lane enjoyable while I work on Union’s story. It’s 1882 and she is currently getting off the train in a dry and dust filled town, wondering if her journey will ever end. The poor girl, she’s so tired and I must get back to her story so that she might find some rest.


Lots to Share

I have limited time this morning, but I thought I’d take a moment and share with you. I’ve had a lot going on and we are currently in the process of an office makeover. I am so excited about that! If you hop over to my Facebook page you can see a few photos I’ve posted so far. We’ve a ways to go and prayers for my patients and my husband as he deals with my lack of them would be greatly appreciated.

My current work in progress is finally running smoothly. Union (I haven’t fully settled on her last name yet) is having herself quite the adventure and I can not wait to share it with you! I will be sharing a few snippets soon, but until then I’d like to leave you with a poem. As I’ve been cleaning I have found some of my past writings – it has been an adventure just to read them and so I have decided to share them with you.

We will start with this first poem. I hope you enjoy it and we will talk again soon. Have a blessed day!

Sometimes

Sometimes, I do not say what might be on my mind at that time.

Sometimes, I want to talk and hear the sound of your voice in my ear.

Sometimes, My feelings go a little unspoken.

Sometimes, I want to cry for the relief of crying.

Sometimes, I want to laugh louder than the angels sing.

Sometimes, I want to walk and breathe in the cool air.

Sometimes, I want to kiss and feel your lips on mine.

Sometimes, I want to lay with you just to be held..

…and Sometimes, when we’re apart like tonight with the thought of you heavy on my mind

Sometimes, I simply want to say I love you.