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Pure Hollywood: a Review

Can fifteen-year-old movie actress Jeralyn Rose avoid the fate of so many child stars—embitterment, rehab, and the inevitable tell-all? Only if she can figure out a way to stay true to her faith while remaining a hot Hollywood property.

All his life, Mickey Keele has retreated into movies to escape the harsh reality of his abusive family. Now his dream is about to turn real—he’s been cast in a movie, starring Jeralyn Rose. Could life get any better?

But just as they’re about to leave for a location shoot on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Mickey discovers a dark family secret. Will Jeralyn’s friendship and faith be enough to save him from plunging into a pit of despair with no hope of escape?

No one ever said it would be easy, but Jeralyn is determined to stand strong and set an example of purity, even with a life as crazy as hers—a life that is pure Hollywood.

Pure Hollywood, a Christian YA, is both hard-hitting and delightful. You won’t find soft-soaping in this book. Lesley Ann McDaniel shows the dirt youth have to deal with, then shows how to clean it up. Fun and funny in places, gritty and heart-wrenching in others, this book is worth the time of readers of all ages.

By the way, while I was writing this review, I discovered that Pure Hollywood  is free on Kindle today! I didn’t realize it and don’t know how long it will last, but grab it while you can!

And while you’re at Amazon, don’t forget my novella, Skydiving to Love is on sale for 99c!

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New Titles for September!

September 2020 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Until I Met You by Tari Faris — Libby Kingsley dreams of a new life and a new library for the charming small town of Heritage, MI. Things get complicated when her big ideas threaten Austin Williams’ blueprints and his plan to leave town unattached. (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

A Love Redeemed by Lisa Jordan — They agreed to help each other out. No one mentioned falling in love. Back home after losing her job, Isabella Bradley plans to stay only long enough to save her father’s diner, but she can’t do it alone. Her childhood friend Tucker Holland has the perfect solution—he will renovate the diner if she’ll be a nanny for his twins. But as Isabella and Tucker reconnect, their arrangement begins to feel a lot less temporary… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Contemporary:

The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox — When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee an estate sale, she soon discovers that her grandmother left behind more than trinkets and photo frames–she provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing. Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved. In this dual-time story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truth–both the search for it and the desire to keep it from others–takes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go. (Contemporary from Revell [Baker])

Finding Wings by Deborah Raney — Taking care of her family is a blessing, but Britt thought there would be more to life–like falling in love . . . (Contemporary from Kregel Publications)

Historical:

A Christmas Tale for Little Women by Linda Brooks Davis — Broadview is attired for Christmas. Adelaide Fitzgerald must provide two girls a Christmas like no other. Has she thought of everything? Has she accomplished enough? What would top off this Christmas in an extraordinary way? Addie’s answer lies just the other side of Rock Creek. What will it take for her to recognize it as the Christmas topper she’s been seeking? (Historical, Independently Published)


The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow by Kim Vogel Sawyer — During the Great Depression, city-dweller Addie Cowherd dreams of becoming a novelist and offering readers the escape that books had given her during her tragic childhood. When her father loses his job, she is forced to take the only employment she can find—delivering books on horseback to poor coal-mining families in the hills of Kentucky. But turning a new page will be nearly impossible in Boone’s Hollow, where residents are steeped in superstitions and deeply suspicious of outsiders. Even local Emmett Tharp feels the sting of rejection after returning to the tiny mountain hamlet as the first in his family to graduate college. And as the crippled economy leaves many men jobless, he fears his degree won’t be worth much in a place where most men either work the coal mine or run moonshine. As Addie also struggles to find her place, she’ll unearth the truth about a decades-old rivalry. But when someone sets out to sabotage the town’s library program, will the culprit chase Addie away or straight into the arms of the only person who can help her put a broken community back together? (Historical from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

Under the Tulip Tree by Michelle Shocklee — Sixteen-year-old Lorena Leland’s dreams of a rich and fulfilling life as a writer are dashed when the stock market crashes in 1929. Seven years into the Great Depression, Rena’s banker father has retreated into the bottle, her sister is married to a lazy charlatan and gambler, and Rena is an unemployed newspaper reporter. Eager for any writing job, Rena accepts a position interviewing former slaves for the Federal Writers’ Project. There, she meets Frankie Washington, a 101-year-old woman whose honest yet tragic past captivates Rena. As Frankie recounts her life as a slave, Rena is horrified to learn of all the older woman has endured—especially because Rena’s ancestors owned slaves. While Frankie’s story challenges Rena’s preconceptions about slavery, it also connects the two women whose lives are otherwise separated by age, race, and circumstances. But will this bond of respect, admiration, and friendship be broken by a revelation neither woman sees coming? (Historical from Tyndale House)

 

The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright — In 1928, the Bonaventure Circus has become a refuge for many, but Pippa Ripley was rejected from its inner circle as a baby and is no longer content to leave the reason for that rejection unquestioned. When she receives mysterious messages from someone called the “Watchman,” she is determined to find him and the connection to her birth. As Pippa’s search leads her to a man seeking justice for his murdered sister and evidence that a serial killer has been haunting the circus train, she must decide if uncovering her roots is worth putting herself directly in the path of the killer. Decades later, an old circus train depot’s future hangs in the balance–it will either be torn down or preserved for historical importance, and its fate rests on Realtor Chandler Faulk’s shoulders. As she dives deep into the depot’s history, she’s also balancing a newly diagnosed disease and the pressures of single motherhood. When she discovers clues to unsolved murders of the past, Chandler is pulled into a story far darker and more haunting than even an abandoned train depot could portend. (Historical from Bethany House [Baker])
Historical Romance:

 

Enduring Dreams by Sandra Ardoin — Claire Kingsley once dared to assert herself into the male world of 1890s architecture. It cost her husband both his life and an heir. Now fear controls her choices and her dreams. When offered a chance to create another design, she fights against the pull, afraid of further disaster. But disturbing news ignites a fierce loyalty to her past love and a powerful attraction to a new one—an attraction she resists…for his sake. Mark Gregory’s first architectural project in town comes with the proviso that he works with a female. He balks, even though Claire stirs his heart like no other woman. Yet, with a loan payment looming, risking his business on someone of unknown talent invites failure, a word he’s struck from his vocabulary. When bigotry and Claire’s fears threaten an important commission, will she summon the courage to help Mark succeed, or will she destroy another man’s dream? (Historical Romance from Corner Room Books)

Light in the Mountain Sky by Misty M. Beller — Determined to prove her worth, Meksem fiercely fought to earn her place among the warriors in her Nez Perce camp. When her half-sister is captured by an enemy tribe, she refuses to trust the rescue to anyone else. But her new friends insist on joining her mission, and she battles between relief and frustration at their presence. Especially the white man who peers at her as if he can see through the face of the warrior she struggles so hard to maintain. Spaniard Adam Vargas thrives on adventure wherever his travels take him. He’s fallen in love with this Rocky Mountain wilderness, as well as the spotted horses the Nez Perce tribe raise. His fascination with this Indian maiden-turned-warrior catches him off guard though, including the way she seems to be fighting for more than her sister’s safe return. The journey proves more perilous than any of the group expects, and the secret Meksem hides becomes impossible to conceal. If they live through this mission, the life they knew will never be the same again. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

A Joyful Christmas by Cynthia Hickey, Liz Johnson, Vickie McDonough, Liz Tolsma, Carrie Turansky, and Erica Vetsch — A Christmas Collection to Warm the Heart Grab a warm cup of tea and watch as romance is kindled and joy is restored to broken lives during six bygone era Christmas celebrations. (Historical from Barbour Publishing)

 

Love’s Pure Light by Susanne Dietze, Shannon McNear, Deborah Raney, and Janine Rosche — Be transported to unique time periods as you follow a treasured family nativity set through four generations of the Shepherd family. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Palmer Girl by Dawn Klinge — When insurance tycoon, Cornelius Nordeman, is recruited to work for the Exposition Corporation, the New Yorker brings his family to live at the Palmer House Hotel, far away from any reminders of a recent tragedy. He’s hopeful this move will offer respite from his family’s grief. Elizabeth Nordeman, his daughter, has something to prove, which leads her to seek work as a florist at Marshall Field’s, Chicago’s finest department store. John Lewis knows something is different and intriguing about the new florist he hired. When his boss, Marshall Field, informs him that Elizabeth is the Nordeman heiress, his job suddenly becomes more complicated–especially when he finds himself falling for her. On the eve of the Columbian Exposition of 1893, Chicago prepares to prove that it’s a first-class city, and the brightest minds from around the country will plan the most spectacular fair the world has seen. The World’s Fair will bring change and innovation into a society bound tightly by class and tradition. Elizabeth’s heart longs to push against those boundaries, so what’s holding her back? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Love at First Flight by Linda Shenton Matchett — Evelyn Reid would rather fly than do anything else, so when war engulfs the U.S., she joins the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron. One of the program’s top pilots, she is tapped for pursuit plane training…the dream of a lifetime until she discovers the instructor is her ex-fiancé, Jasper MacPherson. Collecting enough points to rotate stateside, fighter pilot Jasper MacPherson is assigned to teach the WAFS how to fly the army way. Bad enough to be training women, but things take a turn for the worse when his former fiancée shows up as one of his students. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

Mystery: 

The Sleuth’s Surprise by Kimberly Rose Johnson — Mary Daley has been the sheriff of Tipton County for more than two decades, but someone wants her job. When it seems circumstances can’t get more complicated, a murder happens on her watch. Had she been the intended victim? Deputy Chief Lyle Griffin only wants Mary to be happy, but when he asks her if she’d consider retiring, it sets off a string of events and emotions that muddy their friendship. Nancy Daley-Malone can’t believe anyone would run for sheriff against her mom. She is onboard to help run the best campaign Tipton County has ever seen until the sheriff’s opponent is murdered and Nancy’s husband joins the race. On top of that, it appears someone is out to kill her mother as well. Can Nancy, along with the sheriff’s department, find the murderer before it’s too late? Will Lyle and Mary be able to admit their feelings for one another or will the status quo remain? (Mystery from Mountain Brook Ink)

 

Romantic Suspense:

Airborne by DiAnn Mills — A female FBI agent boards an international flight, and two hours into the flight, a deadly virus spreads through the aircraft. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

Speculative: 

Forsaken Island by Sharon Hinck — The people of Meriel have long believed their island world floats alone in the vast ocean universe, so they are astonished when another island drifts into view. With resources becoming scarce, Carya and Brantley quickly volunteer to search the new land for supplies. After navigating a barrier of menacing trees, the pair encounter a culture of perpetually happy people who readily share their talents and their possessions. But all is not what it seems. At the core of the island is a horror that threatens everyone, including Brantley and Carya. Freeing the villagers of the bondage they’ve chosen may cost Carya and Brantley more than they could have imagined. Even if the two succeed, they’ll have to find a way to return to Meriel quickly … or be cut off from their home forever. (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)

 

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Holiday Hitches at Mustang Pass by Cindy M. Amos, A deputy falls in love with a judge’s daughter while racing to build a new church building in time for his three friends’ weddings. (Historical Romance)

 

All I Ever Needed by D. L. Lane, He’s the beast lurking within the shadows. She’s the beauty living in the light. (Contemporary Romance)

Sown in Peace by Joy Avery Melville, How much can one wounded soul take? (General Contemporary)

Puppy Ciao by Annette O’Hare, In the small town of Kerrville, Texas, thirteen-year-old Jeannie McKay rescues two purebred Weimaraner puppies found drowning in Johnson Creek and vows to find out who is responsible. (Children’s)

Don’t miss the Skydiving to Love 99c Sale! 

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Rebuilding an Author Brand After an Absence

Life gets in the way of a successful business sometimes. If you’ve kept up with my blog this year and last, you know how it’s hit me and my business–I’m virtually invisible these days in cyberspace. Norma Gail got hit hard too. Here’s her story . . .

JUBILEE WRITER

Norma Gail is an inspiration to me and I asked her to share her story. Perhaps you will be inspired to press forward toward your publishing dreams.

Rebuilding an author brand after an absence is as difficult as building your brand in the first place. It takes persistence to gain recognition of a tagline or phrase synonymous with what you write. Silence for a long time period causes name recognition to be lost.

My brand went silent from July 2018 through January of 2020. I had four major surgeries in the space of two years. The death of my mother, moving an elderly aunt and uncle to a care facility near me, my aunt’s death, and the sale of both homes along with changed family dynamics overwhelmed me.

These life-changing events destroyed all desire and motivation to promote my first book, Land of My Dreams, or maintain my blog…

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Ane Mulligan: Author, Director, Sister Redhead

Ane Mulligan is one of my favorite people on the planet. Fun and funny, practical and pragmatic, and talented beyond belief, she spent years as ACFW’s Zone Coordinator and favorite cheerleader. In 2019, she shifted those responsibilities to me so she could dedicate more time to her two loves: writing and directing. (Okay, I’m sure her two true loves are her husband and family, but as activities go, these top her list.)

Now it’s your turn to meet her. I hope you come to love her as much as I do:

Q: I adore your books and your kookie characters and all the delicious messes they get themselves into, so I have to ask: How much of them is you?

A: Thank you! In my Chapel Springs series, Claire definitely had a lot of me in her. What wasn’t me were a few things in her I wished I could be or do. Like always speak my thoughts. I tend to filter them first.

Q: Several years ago, you posted a comment on my blog post, Set the Dove Free, in which I explored the question of whether, as Christian authors, we should shift toward more evangelistic, more serious Christian fiction during these turbulent days. After a lot of prayer, my conclusion was no. For me (and apparently you), our mission is to basically entertain the troops and leave the more serious stuff to the front-liners. Times are even more turbulent now.  Would you care to expand the comment? What do you see as your mission as a Christian author?

A: For me, I have to be true to my calling to write from my own worldview. God created me with a humor-colored glasses. I see humor in the world. Each one of us has our own place in our writing world just as we do in the spiritual one. We can’t all be the brain. We need some left feet. So I remain true to my calling that way.

That said, not all my stories are as rollicking as my first book. There will always be humor in my books, but some stories are a little more serious or filled with tension. I believe people let down their guard when they think they’re being entertained. My books have seeds of God’s truth in them, not preaching, so when they least expect it, that truth can reach out, touch their hearts and perhaps change a life.

Q: How did you get into writing? How long between the time you dallied with a story and when you actually published one? Do you feel like you’ve matured as an author now that you have several books to your name?

A: I’d been writing scripts for use at my church, but I had quit my job and was looking for another. My husband told me to quit looking and write a book. Me? I’d never thought about doing that. But as soon as he said the words, an idea dropped into my mind, and I knew God was changing my life … again. That began a twelve-plus year journey to my first published book.

I have definitely matured as a writer, and I strive to continue to do just that. I have wonderful critique partners who hold my feet to the fire. I have an editor I really enjoy working with, and she also pushes me to dig deeper.

Q: You’ve lived all over the place, but the American South seems to hold your heart. What do you love about being a Georgia girl? Do you have a favorite Southern dish? Is there one you still just shake your head at?

A: I am Southern to my core. The moment I knew we were moving to Georgia, I immersed myself in the foods and culture. I felt like I’d come home. Things I said and loved turned out to be Southern. Now as a Christian, I believe we live once, but a teensy part of me thinks I might have been Scarlet in a former life. I’m joking, but I don’t know from where the Southern influence came, but it’s been part of me all my life.

My favorite thing about Georgia? Sugar Hill. The people in Sugar Hill are the warmest, most friendly on earth. The bywords, the Sweet Life and My Sweet City are so true. And my theatre troupe has become family for us.

My favorite Southern dish? Naturally, it’s banana pudding. And I adore boiled peanuts. I even like fried okra, but boiled okra I will not do. No way. No how.

Q: And speaking of dishes, tell us about Chef Son. How long has he been a chef? Do you have a favorite dish from among his creations?

When Chef Son was eight years old, I was working a short day since he was home with a cold. My next-door neighbor was a retired policeman and kept an eye on him. I got a call from Greg around noon.

Greg: “What are winter vegetables?”

Because we lived in SoCal, they could be almost anything. Me: “Well, yellow squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, to name three. Why?”

Greg: “Thanks.” He hung up.

I called back but he didn’t answer. I checked with the neighbor, but he called back with an “All’s okay.” So I forgot about it. When I got home, there was the most beautiful roast chicken, surrounded by roasted winter vegetables, accompanied by scalloped potatoes from scratch (no boxed mix for this kid) and fresh banana bread, also from scratch. I have never had a roast chicken look so beautiful. It took me three days to clean the kitchen, but that meal was delicious. He started is first paid job at sixteen in a deli. After working there one week, the owner went on vacation and made Greg manager.

My favorite Chef Son cooked meal? Wow, that’s hard. He still does everything from scratch. No bottled dressings or sauces. Nearly everything he makes I love. Greg cooks what he calls gourmet blue-collar food, not French cuisine. His company, Shade Tree Kitchens, has a website. I linked the name to their menu, so you can see what gourmet blue collar looks like. It’s the kind of food people order again and again.

Q: I’ve noticed that you’re highly involved in your community theater. Where is your heart now—writing or acting?

A: Since I don’t do much acting any longer, my passions are divided between directing and writing, and handling the business (and riding herd over) of the non-profit community theatre troupe. I wrote an article for Southern Writers Magazine, addressing this issue. For a while, I wasn’t balancing my two passions. Add to that, a troublesome work-in-progress, and I began to doubt my calling.

Then CoVid-19 hit. I was forced into a single passion. During that time, the focus of my book changed and the words flowed again. I wrote the second book in the Georgia Magnolias series, On Sugar Hill, in twelve weeks. I’ve learned to balance writing and theatre. I write during the first part of the day, although I can write anytime, then theatre—once we’re back in—during the afternoons or evenings.

So my heart remains firmly split – like having two children. I love them both, especially directing. It really goes hand-in-hand with writing. For the stage, I take the author’s words and help the actor bring the character to life for an audience. In writing, I create the characters and bring them to life on the page.

Q: Which is your favorite character you’ve played to date? Which character would you like to play someday?

A: My favorite wasn’t one anyone knows. She was created by a director for a radio play. She was the organist for a radio station back in the 1930s and 40s. He told me to have fun with her, and I let my inner Lucy out.

Madam Arcati in Blithe Spirit is a character I’d love to play. Mame Dennis from Auntie Mame is another I’d love to play. You can see the pattern, right?

Q: What’s coming up for you as an author?

A: In High Cotton just released. The second book, On Sugar Hill, releases June 1, 2021. I’m writing the third book, By the Sweet Gum. All three are set in Georgia during the early days of the Great Depression. I find I like writing stories set in that time period. I may even take a look at WWII. But I have lots of stories swirling in my head, one of them is part of a novella series with you, A Tangled Yarn. I can’t wait to work on that project.

At the theatre, we are gearing up to go back into rehearsals for a show we’ve been trying to present since March. We are now set for November, after 3 delays! But I’ve got about another five weeks before that happens. I have a novel to write, so I shall be hunkered down doing that.

About In High Cotton

Southern women may look as delicate as flowers, but there’s iron in their veins.

While the rest of the world has been roaring through the 1920s, times are hardscrabble in rural South Georgia. Widow Maggie Parker is barely surviving while raising her young son alone. Then as banks begin to fail, her father-in-law threatens to take her son and sell off her livelihood—the grocery store her husband left her. Can five Southern women band together, using their wisdom and wiles to stop him and survive the Great Depression?

Ane’s Bio:

Ane Mulligan has been a voracious reader ever since her mom instilled within her a love of reading at age three, escaping into worlds otherwise unknown. But when Ane saw PETER PAN on stage, she was struck with a fever from which she never recovered—stage fever. She submerged herself in drama through high school and college. One day, her two loves collided, and a bestselling, award-winning novelist emerged. She lives in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a rascally Rottweiler. Find Ane on her website, Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and The Write Conversation.

 

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Proud of My Authors

Few things are more satisfying than being named a finalist for a national, highly-coveted award—except winning the award, of course. Unfortunately, the amount of time between finding out these wonderful authors became finalists and finding out who won is too long. I’m excited. I want to share this now! I had the privilege of working on each of these books as a contracted editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (now known as LPC, an imprint of Iron Stream Media), and I have to tell you, I’m plum tickled for these ladies.

Young Adult

Something I Am Not, by Cher Gatto

Finalist for the ACFW Carol Award, YA Fiction

This remarkable story is Cher’s debut novel and should be a finalist in the debut category too, but I’m excited about it finaling in its genre category. The story isn’t your typical YA. It’s a painfully realistic exploration of the life of a young man who was sold as a boy to be trained as a paramour. In other words, human trafficking, sex slavery, etc. People who believe that Christian fiction is all sweet and fanciful should be aware of novels like this one. Christians tackle the tough subjects, and Cher tackled one of the toughest.

Contemporary Romance

Love You Truly, by Susan L. Tuttle

Finalist for the ACFW Carol Award, Romance

This was the first time I had the pleasure of working with Susan, but I’m so delighted wasn’t the last.

Susan’s characters are beautifully rounded and witty. I love the banter between the hero and heroine. The plot is compelling and the characters’ stakes are high—and the settings! Oh, my goodness! Susan knows how to masterfully lose you in the story setting as her characters cruise and jet all over the world. Beyond swoon-worthy, this one is a true winner! (PS: Her next one, Then Again, Maybe is going to be a block-buster too! Comes out later this year, I think. Watch for it!)

Historical Romance

Sand Creek Serenade, by Jennifer Uhlarik

Finalist for the Will Rogers Medallion Award and for the Selah Award

I’m not remotely surprised that Jennifer’s exceptional novel is a finalist in two prestigious contests. For this cross-cultural romance between a white woman doctor and a young Indian native, Jennifer did some intense research. The setting is real; the events surrounding the romance actually happened—and Jennifer brings it all to life in a compelling page-turner.

I am so honored to have played a small role in each of these books’ publication. To see them listed as finalists in their various categories and with their various competitions makes my heart swell up bigger’n my chest can hold. I’m rooting for all of them to win their awards; but if not, they’re still winners to me.

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