When Writing Time is Sparse

So here’s the deal: back in 2012, I started working on a novel called Southern Challenge. Got a few chapters written, fell in love with it—then had to quit on it so I could turn Give the Lady a Ride into the Circle Bar Ranch series and crank out a couple more novels featuring Patricia and Talon and the gang.

Then, in 2017, I had a chance to revisit the novel when a group of my friends and I decided to write a collection of novellas centered around tiny houses. That’s when Kayla Mullins of Southern Challenge became the heroine of Kayla’s Challenge in Coming Home: a Tiny House Collection. Basically, I wrote the backstory of how Kayla got from Georgia to Texas, where the series is set.

Fast-forward to 2019. The Circle Bar Ranch series is complete, and I’m ready to work on the Southern Challenge series. During my writers’ retreat in January, I reread the manuscript to the first novel in the series, now named Kayla’s Winner, which I started back in 2012 and supplemented in 2017. I still loved it. I even got to add a few chapters to it during and after the retreat.

Then things started going nutsy, as I sorta explained in my newsletter this past week (click here to subscribe). There are a ton of changes going on in my life, and time isn’t entirely my own anymore. This current state of affairs is going to get worse before it gets better, and writing time is sparse. So, I resorted to—

The Crank Technique

You’ve heard the advice to push through. Keep writing. Don’t edit as you write. Don’t look back. Make your daily word count. Great advice. That’s what I’ve been trying to do. Since January, I’ve been cranking out words, aiming toward the goal of having this written and the initial proofread done before I send it to my critique/editing crew in May. I want to find a new agent come September, and I want this thing all flawless and shiny. Of course, I go back and reread what I wrote during the last session—whenever that was—then I keep on cranking. I’m at the halfway point now.

But let me tell you why the “crank technique” doesn’t work for me.

I’m an intuitive writer. A Pantser. Queen of SOTP—seat of the pants—creations. Granted, I do outline occasionally, but only as far as the next few scenes and only if I’m afraid I’ll forget what I intended to do. And I stink at taking notes about what I’ve written, so if I don’t reread everything I’ve written on a fairly regular basis, I have no idea what’s on the page.

If I were an outliner and good note taker, I would be able to figure out where I am and what I’m doing at a glance. But I’m more of one to edit as I go, and when I get to write daily, that is a daily process. In my chaotic life right now, the daily process has given way to the crank technique so I can have this done by May.

Last week, however, I found myself with time to slow down and see what I’ve done so far. Talk about a head-smacking experience! I’m bruised, y’all!

I gave my green-eyed heroine blue eyes and a gray pickup to the hero, who drives a white flatbed. I keep referring to an eight-month time-span as six months and to the heroine’s brother by two different names. He’s either Kade or Kyle, depending on which page I’m reading.

But worse, I put in whole scenes that serve no function.

Moral of the Story

I really should just try to stick to the way I do things. It works for me.

Outlining seemed to work back when I tried it, but my story read like I was just ticking off events from the outline. No depth. No emotion. And I always try to keep notes on what I’ve written, but three things tend to happen: I forget to do it; I do it, but omit pertinent details; or I do it, but forget to refer to it as I write.

In my “real” life, my not-trying-other-writing-methods life, I reread and edit on a regular basis. The edit is light, usually just changing one word for another, but the point is to refamiliarize myself with what’s on the page. Do I still give blue eyes to green-eyed characters? Yes. But I’m quicker to pick up on useless scenes so I don’t have to rip them out along with everything afterward that was built upon them. I haven’t had to do that since my early days. And yesterday.

Stick to your guns, folks. Figure out what writing style works for you and don’t waver. Too much advice just muddles things.

 

 

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Selah Excitement

So much is going on in my life right now I’ve had to cut down on the frequency I post on my blog. Someday, perhaps, God will grant me enough of an income to hire an assistant, but until that day, I must become better at prioritizing and time management. Meanwhile, it looks like Wednesday will be my posting day for a while. The jury is still out on whether I keep this blog at all, because I intend to revamp my newsletter and work it better–something I told you about back in January. (Hard to believe it’s already March! Next thing you know, we’ll be counting down to Christmas!!!) The primary thing it has going for it is that it’s connected to my Amazon and Goodreads pages and to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Once I get better at SEO (and content), maybe the blog will finally take off. Or maybe I’ll dump it. Who knows?

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today. Today, I wanted to share with you my latest excitement—

BLOW THE TRUMPETS! ROLL THE DRUMS!

Ice Melts in Spring is a finalist for the 2019 Selah Award!

The Selah Award Contest occurs annually and is conducted by the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference (BRMCWC). Winners are chosen from several categories, and Ice Melts in Spring is among the list of novellas, since it’s part of the collection A Southern Season.

I’m not up on all the contests for Christian fiction, but I know of a few of them, one I won’t even mention because it’s more like a popularity contest. Your readers—or just people you know, whether they’ve read your work or not—go to the site and vote for your book. I was disappointed to find out that about this particular site and not at all surprised when my submission at the time didn’t even place. I simply do not know that many people.

But the most prestigious awards, along with the Selah, include ACFW’s Carol Award and the grande dame of them all, the Christy Award. (I just recently discovered that the Grace Award, which Give the Lady a Ride won in 2011, is no longer offered. The site is now doing spotlights on novels they love.)

I’ve entered the novella in all of these, and I’m anxious to find out what happens. Ice Melts in Spring is special to me because it’s the first truly Christian fiction piece I’ve ever written (see how I define Christian Fiction here, and for more info, see Writing in Obedience, which I cowrote with former literary agent, Terry Burns). The entire writing experience was different with this one from any of the others, and it may never happen that way again. But I can promise you this—I’ll never forget it. It was as if God gave me my quota of words for the day, every one golden, then I had to quit. If I didn’t, the next day I’d end up deleting whatever extra I’d written. The entire concept of “pushing through” didn’t apply. It was something.

SHAMELESS PLOY:

As I hinted at the top of this post, there is a lot going on in my life right now, much of it I’ll be writing about in my newsletter, along with book reviews and such. Be sure to sign up for Coffee with Linda!

(Yes, I’m shamelessly trying to increase my circulation. 😀 )

 

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Newest Releases from ACFW Authors!

March 2019 New Releases

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

Children’s:

The Case of the Missing Firehouse Dog by Daphne Self — Majesty, the firehouse dog, is missing. Willie and Jax are on the case to discover who is the dognapping culprit. Could it be their neighbor, Mr. Applebee? Or maybe it is Ms. Thornton? Join the Pintail Duo, Wilhelmina van der Coup and Jackson Barnaby, as they follow the clues to rescue Majesty in The Case of the Missing Firehouse Dog. (Children’s from Ambassador International)

Contemporary Romance:

When He Found Me by Victoria Bylin — With his career and faith in tatters, a disillusioned baseball player falls for an optimistic single mom secretly battling cervical cancer. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

His Secret Daughter by Lisa Carter — He just found out he’s a father… But is he ready to be a dad? When veteran Jake McAbee learns he has a daughter, he’s determined to raise the adorable toddler. But Maisie’s foster mom, Callie Jackson, insists Jake stay at her orchard until he’s prepared for fatherhood. While Jake and Maisie bond, the trio begins to feel like family. Could the best home for Maisie be the one Jake and Callie create together? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Finding Love on Whidbey Island, Washington by Annette M. Irby — Liberty Winfield lives with loss every day. She’d rather leave her history behind her, but when faced with moving back to her hometown, the past becomes unavoidable. She takes a job at the florist shop owned by her ex-boyfriend’s family from a decade ago. Now he’s unavoidable. Clay Garrison knows the pain of ruing his mistakes. Most of his regrets center around Liberty. If he could undo his poor choices, he would. Liberty is back. He has one more chance to make things right. She doesn’t believe anyone could love her unconditionally, so he sets out to prove her wrong. He must also try to right the biggest wrong of their past, knowing that in doing so, he could lose her forever. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Whatever is True by Pamela S. Meyers — Bullfighter and ranch hand Clint Palmer yearns for a family of his own and desires a relationship with barrel racer Lacy Roberts, a fellow ranch employee. But what would she want in a guy who was abandoned by his father and has a mother who is an alcoholic? If he’s ever going to be seen in a different light by Lacy, he needs greater financial security than what a ranch-hand position provides. Lacy’s parents have scorned her ever since she opted for ranch life rather than pursuing a business career. She’s attracted to Clint, who has shown enough interest in her that she reveals a secret about her past—only to be rejected by him. She’s about to move on when Clint learns a secret related to his own life that changes everything. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Her Colorado Cowboy by Mindy Obenhaus — Lily Davis agrees to take her children riding…despite her fear of horses. But now widowed cowboy Noah Stephens is determined to help her get comfortable in the saddle. And, at her children’s insistence, Lily finds herself promoting his rodeo school. As Noah and Lily work together, will Noah continue to shield his heart…or can they discover a love that conquers both their fears? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Her Last Chance Cowboy by Tina Radcliffe — When pregnant single mother Hannah Vincent shows up professing to be the half sister of the Maxwells of Big Heart Ranch, horse trainer Tripp Walker is wary. Wounded before, he doesn’t trust easily. If only Hannah and her feisty five-year-old daughter weren’t so impossible to resist. Now, despite his doubts, joining this little family is quickly becoming the cautious cowboy’s greatest wish. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Buried Mountain Secrets by Terri Reed — Desperate to find her missing teenage brother, Maya Gallo ventures into the Colorado Rockies expecting rough terrain–not deadly treasure hunters. But when she’s caught in their crosshairs, rudely handsome mounted patrolman Alex Trevino come to her aid. The deputy sheriff knows what these bandits are capable of, so getting Maya–and her brother–home safely may be his hardest mission yet. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Cozy Mystery:

Like a Tree by Danny & Wanda Pelfrey — The movie making industry spreading across Georgia has finally made its way to the little foothill village of Adairsville. Bookseller and police chaplain Davis Morgan along with a young female clerk discover the body of a member of the movie company on a historic site at the foot of a large oak tree. Davis despite his promise to his wife cannot resist investigating the mystery. He and his young friend, policeman Charley Nelson, quietly dig into the case even though it is officially under the jurisdiction of the county sheriff. There is no shortage of suspects: the mysterious red headed man, sister of the victim, the fiancée and others. During the investigation an already troubled Charley is framed for a drug crime, and Davis receives word that an old enemy is on his way to Georgia after escaping from prison to make good a threat against him. Late one afternoon it comes to an astounding conclusion beneath the same sprawling oak where it all started. (Cozy Mystery from CrossLink)

General Contemporary:

Within This Circle by Deborah Raney — After a tumultuous courtship, John and Julia Brighton have a second chance at happiness! With tragedy behind them and their children grown, they’re looking forward to a new and promising era in their lives. Only, such a promise is never guaranteed. And life can change in a moment. The Brightons’ lives are turned upside down when John’s daughter Jana abandons her husband, Mark, and three-year-old daughter. John and Julia reach out to young Ellie, to give the young couple time to heal, but how can they help this child, so confused and longing for Mommy? And how much sorrow and stress can both fledgling marriages endure? (General Contemporary from Raney Day Press)

Grace & Lavender by Heather Norman Smith — Recently retired Colleen Hill is always busy, constantly on a quest to make life more interesting. When the ladies’ group at her church partners with the local children’s home, Colleen jumps in as usual, volunteering to share her passion for cooking with a troubled teenager named Grace. Colleen must balance the new project with her pursuit of becoming a contestant on a television game show, along with all the other ideas her brain continually spins out. Colleen’s daughter Melody is quite different. She lives a calm, simple life and is content with who she is. That is, until an unexpected opportunity to work with Grace, too, pushes her to reevaluate life and dare to take on bigger dreams. The path starts with a newly-found interest in soap-making and leads her to responsibilities she didn’t even know she wanted. (General Contemporary from Ambassador International)

Historical Romance:

The Erie Canal Brides Collection by Johnnie Alexander, Lauralee Bliss, Ramona K. Cecil, Rita Gerlach, Sherri Wilson Johnson, Rose Allen McCauley, Christina Miller — Completed in 1825, the Erie Canal connected the Great Lakes to the Hudson River, and soon other states like Ohio created canals linking Lake Erie to the Ohio River. Suddenly the Midwest was open to migration, the harvesting of resources, and even tourism. Join seven couples who live through the rise of the canals and the problems the waterways brought to each community, including land grabs, disease, tourists, racism, and competition. Can these couples hang on to their faith and develop love during times of intense change? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

This Daring Journey by Misty M. Beller — The only hope to keep her newborn baby alive is to reach the safety of her Indian people… This mountain man is the last person she should trust to get her there. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin — In spring of 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries at the front, receives an unexpected message by carrier pigeon: it is an urgent summons from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life—a woman he believed to be dead. Leaving Britain’s shores to return into war-torn France, he hopes his reunion with her will ease his guilt and this mission restore the courage he lost on the battlefield. Colin is stunned when he arrives in Paris to discover the message came not from Jewel, but from a stranger who claims to be her half sister, Johanna. Johanna works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence; having found Jewel’s diary, she believes her sister is alive and in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is at first skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them. When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, however, that trust is at stake, as danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

A Tender Hope by Amanda Cabot — As far as Thea Michener is concerned, it’s time for a change. Her husband murdered and her much-anticipated baby stillborn, there is nothing left for her in Ladreville. Having accepted a position as Cimarron Creek’s midwife, she has no intention of remarrying and trying for another child. So when a handsome Texas Ranger appears on her doorstep with an abandoned baby, Thea isn’t sure her heart can take it. Ranger Jackson Guthrie isn’t concerned only with the baby’s welfare. He’s been looking for Thea, convinced that her late husband was part of the gang that killed his brother. But it soon becomes clear that the situation is far more complicated than he anticipated — and that he’ll need Thea’s help if he’s ever to find the justice he seeks. (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

The Unexpected Champion by Mary Connealy — City dweller John McCall never expected to be out in the High Sierras of 1868 on a wild-goose chase to find the Chiltons’ supposedly lost grandson. But now that he’s out here, things have gotten even more complicated, mostly due to wildcat Penny Scott. She’s not like any woman he’s ever met–comfortable in the woods, with a horse, and with a gun. When Penny and John are taken against their will by a shadowy figure looking for evidence they don’t have, both realize they’ve stumbled into something dangerous and complicated. With their friends and family desperately searching for them, Penny and John must make a daring escape. When they emerge back into the real world, they are confronted with a kidnapper who just won’t stop. They must bring a powerful, ruthless man to justice, even as this city man and country woman fight a very inconvenient attraction to each other. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

To Win Her Heart by Candee Fick — Despite Emma Richards’ fanciful dreams growing up in the shadow of King Arthur’s castle and the manor on the cliff, the orphan is now trapped inland serving her wealthy cousins with no hope for her own future. Sir Grayson Wentworth spent his years at Cambridge dreaming of the Cornwall coast and wishing he could return to the happy days of his youth. Called home to his father’s deathbed, the young baron soon learns he has inherited a title, a neglected estate, and a betrothal agreement he knew nothing about. When the new Lord Danvers travels to execute the last matters of his father’s will, he finds himself promised to one woman and falling for another. Can he keep his vow to find a wife and win her heart? Or will honor be sacrificed in the name of love? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

The White City by Grace Hitchcock — While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Ian Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard. Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Highest of Hopes by Susan Anne Mason — After her beloved grandfather’s death, Emmaline Moore is shocked to discover that her “deceased” father is actually living in Canada. Having no other family, Emma decides she must find him, and so embarks on a journey across the ocean, accompanied by her best friend, Jonathan. Unfortunately, Randall Moore and his well-to-do family aren’t thrilled by her arrival, fearing her sudden appearance will hinder his chance at becoming mayor of Toronto in 1919. Despite everything, Emma remains determined to earn their affection. Jonathan Rowe has secretly loved Emma for years and hopes that during their trip he can win her heart. Concerned that Randall might reject her, Jonathan is ready to console Emma and bring her home. When she informs him that she has no intention of returning to England, Jonathan begins to despair. Can he convince Emma to find value within herself rather than seeking it from a virtual stranger? And will she ever come to see that Jonathan is her true home? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Katelyn’s Choice by Susan G Mathis — Katelyn Kavanagh serves the famous George Pullman and President Grant in the enchanting Thousand Islands. Yet the transition proves anything but easy when she falls in love and can’t tame her gossiping tongue. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh by Carolyn Miller — Can a very proper young lady of noble birth find love with a mysterious, fossil-hunting scientist in the smuggler-plagued coasts of Devon, England? (Historical Romance from Kregel Publications)

Sand Creek Serenade by Jennifer Uhlarik — Dr. Sadie Hoppner is called upon to nurse the gunshot wound of Cheyenne brave Five Kills after tensions erupt between the braves and the soldiers at Fort Lyon. Even as Sadie and Five Kills form an unlikely bond, danger threatens the fragile treaty that ensures peace for both their people…and their hearts. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

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Heart and Soul: Contemporary Inspirational Romance

Give the Lady a Ride is part of a giveaway event

And look what else is involved: enough romances to keep your heart throbbing throughout the month of March!

To enter the drawing, just click here between now and March 6!

DATE EXTENDED TO MARCH 13!!!

Hope you enter!

Good luck!!!

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February Releases from ACFW Authors!

February 2019 New Releases

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

Amish Romance:

Convenient Amish Proposal by Jan Drexler — When Bethany Zook’s childhood friend returns to Indiana Amish country a widower, with an adorable little girl in tow, she’s willing to aid him in any way. But there’s just one thing Andrew Yoder needs – a mother for little Mari. And he seems convinced Bethany is the answer, just as she’s sure any union between them would be one strictly of convenience… Andrew thought Bethany had married another. Now, determined to keep Mari despite his mother-in-law’s interference, he offers Bethany marriage in name only. But she’s quickly becoming more than a housekeeper and a mamm. Can he leave the past behind to claim a family of the heart? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Contemporary Romance:

Ocean’s Edge by Cindy M. Amos — Tired of Kansas, Wynn Yardley places her wish to touch the ocean into Dreams Come True Director Teague Montgomery’s hands, and then launches into an adventure to the seashore with him to discover the tidal zone–and affections for her companion. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)

Home Another Way by Brenda S. Anderson — Can a senator’s daughter and convict’s son overcome their differences and learn what it really means to love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Love, Lies, and Homemade Pie by Sally Bayless — Cara Smith has a whole new life planned in Abundance, Missouri. If she can just avoid questions from that intriguing guy at the newspaper, no one will ever find out about her past. Will Hamlin, local editor, desperately needs a big story to keep his newspaper afloat, and Cara Smith is clearly hiding something. But after Will’s initial inquiries fail to turn up anything, he grows less interested in Cara’s past and more interested in winning her heart with slices of pie and stolen kisses. When a crime is uncovered at city hall just as Will unearths Cara’s dark secret, the repercussions shatter their romance. Has Cara really left her past behind? Can Will finally find a way to save the paper? And can they each place their trust in God and together find freedom in the truth and overcome the obstacles to their love? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Their Family Blessing by Lorraine Beatty — She owns the lodge but he owns the land. When single mom Carly Hughes the Longleaf Lodge, she gains a heap of trouble – her teenage crush Deputy MacKenzie Bridges. Her father left Mack the land around the lodge. While Carly wants to sell for her daughter’s sake. Mack wants to stay for his niece’s. and if they can’t work together, they’ll both lose everything… including the renewed spark between them. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Courting Calla by Hallee Bridgeman — Calla Vaughn is trying to get her life in order so she can go back to culinary school. No matter how hard she works, though, she feels like she is just treading water and can’t see any way out of the hole dug for her by a con artist who stole her identity. When flowers she sends to her best friend with a dinner invitation accidentally get delivered to Ian Jones, she decides to cook him the best meal he’s ever had. By the time she admits that the flowers were never for him, he is as convinced as she is that God orchestrated the mistake in the first place. All that’s left is to tell him the dark secret about her father’s widow. She waits a little too long, though, and is carted off to jail for questioning on felony charges before she gets a chance. Will Ian understand her situation, or will the deception surrounding Calla destroy any trust he has in her? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Different Season by Jennifer Heeren — How do you go on when your heart is broken? Twenty-two-year-old Lisette Carter is grief-stricken over her husband’s death—which occurred before she knew she was pregnant. Now in her last trimester, she meets David Baranski, who has a tragic past of his own. He seems to care for Lisette, but she’s not sure she can trust him. Besides, her sorrow and survivor guilt are all she can handle. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

One Thing I Know by Kara Isaac — Rachel Somers, ghost writer for America’s #1 relationship expert, is running out of ideas, but it’s keep up the charade or lose the income required to care for her father. The last thing she needs is her boss’s publicist concocting a scheme to pair her with some radio star in hopes it will spark the next book idea. Lucas Grant didn’t expect his fame on a late-night sports show to come with constant calls from women wanting relationship advice. Which means he has to waste hours on the phone with an expert like Dr. Donna Somerville talking about feelings when he’d rather be talking about his first love: football. Then a deal opens up with a big-time producer who suspects Dr. Somerville isn’t what she seems, and he wants Lucas to discover her secret. To do that, he needs to win over her tight-lipped assistant who holds the key to his success and—he begins to suspect—his heart. Can love find a way through the lies that force them apart? (Contemporary Romance from Howard [Simon & Schuster])

Season of Hope by Lisa Jordan — His dreams can all come true…but only if his ex-wife will agree! Jake Holland’s peaceful dairy farm is a sanctuary—one he wants to share with other worn and weary veterans. He just needs one more piece of land to start his program…and it belongs to Tori Lerner, his ex-wife. A collaboration could benefit them both, but with a past full of secrets between them, is there any hope for renewed love? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Carolina Grace by Regina Rudd Merrick — She knows about God’s grace for her life, but pushes it away. He hasn’t experienced it, but finds grace in a way he never expected. First-year Special Education teacher Charly Livingston demonstrates God’s love on the outside, but is resentful that God allowed back-to-back tragedies in her family. Rance Butler is a top-notch medical intern. He’s on his way to the top, and when he meets Charly, he knows things will only get better. When he discovers family secrets and a dying father he never knew, his easy, carefree life seems to disintegrate. Even in the idyllic ocean breezes and South Carolina sunshine, contentment turns to bitterness and confusion except for God’s amazing grace. (Contemporary Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

The Street Singer by Kathleen Neely — While planning her own wedding, a law student works to help her favorite recording artist who has fallen on hard times. She finds an attorney who will work pro bono, but will her growing friendship with him come between her and her fiancé? (Contemporary Romance from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Historical Romance:

A Love Most Worthy by Sandra Ardoin — During the Nome, Alaska gold rush of 1900, a merchant sends for a serious-minded bride to help him raise his young nephews but welcomes a cheery and adventuresome woman who tests his determination to hold her at arm’s length. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

When Valleys Bloom Again by Pat Jeanne Davis — After fleeing impending war in England, nineteen-year-old Abby Stapleton works to correct her stammer and to become a teacher in America, only to discover this conflict has no boundaries and that a rejected suitor is intent on destroying her name, fiancé, and fragile faith. (Historical Romance from Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.)

Ladies of Intrigue by Michelle GriepThe Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady, Cornish Coast, 1815: When a prim and proper governess returns to England from abroad, she expects to comfort her dying father—not fall in love with a smuggler. Will Helen Fletcher keep Isaac Seaton’s unusual secret? The Doctor’s Woman (A Carol Award Winner) Dakota Territory, 1862: Emmy Nelson, daughter of a missionary doctor, and Dr. James Clark, city doctor aspiring to teach, find themselves working side by side at Fort Snelling during the Dakota Uprising. That is when the real clash of ideals begins. A House of Secrets, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1890: Ladies Aide Chairman, Amanda Carston resolves to clean up St. Paul’s ramshackle housing, starting with the worst of the worst: a “haunted” house that’s secretly owned by her beau—a home that’s his only means of helping brothel girls escape from the hands of the city’s most infamous madam. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Love’s Rescue by Linda Shenton Matchett — Sold by her parents to settle a debt, Rolande Bisset is forced into prostitution. Years later, shunned by her family and most of society, it’s the only way she knows how to subsist. When the Germans overrun Paris, she decides she’s had enough of evil men controlling her life and uses her wiles to obtain information for the Allied forces. Branded a collaborator, her life hangs in the balance. Then an American spy stumbles onto her doorstep. Is redemption within her grasp? Simon Harlow is one of an elite corps of American soldiers. Regularly chosen for dangerous covert missions, he is tasked with infiltrating Paris to ascertain the Axis’s defenses. Nearly caught by German forces moments after arriving, he owes his life to the beautiful prostitute who claims she’s been waiting for the Allies to arrive. Her lifestyle goes against everything he believes in, but will she steal his heart during his quest to liberate her city? Inspired by the biblical story of Rahab, Love’s Rescue is a tale of faith and hope during one of history’s darkest periods. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin — Numbed by grief and harboring shameful secrets, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group in late 1943. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe in treacherous dogfights over France as the Allies struggle for control of the air before the D-day invasion. Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment and refreshments for the men of the 357th in the base Aeroclub and sets up programs for local children. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her work and urges him to reconnect with his family after a long estrangement. Despite himself, Adler finds his defenses crumbling when it comes to Violet. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever. (Historical Romance from Revell [Baker])

Mystery:

The Watch On the Fencepost by Kay DiBianca — In a deserted park on a cold winter day, twenty-seven-year-old Kathryn Frasier discovers a gold watch on a fencepost, and she has an ominous sense that it was deliberately left for her to find. But when she identifies the owner of the watch, she uncovers a dark family secret and a suspicion that her parents’ recent deaths may not have been an accident. (Cozy Mystery from CrossLink Christian Publishing)

Coffee Club Mysteries by Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Elizabeth Ludwig, Dana Mentink, Candice Prentice, and Janice Thompson — The coffee shop on the corner of First and Main in Oak Grove, Kansas, seems to attract a series of mysterious events. Or perhaps it is the six women who frequent the shop for book club who are the magnets for trouble. . . . Morgan Butler, owner of the Coffee Perk, finds a project worker hanged at her shop. Evelyn Kliff discovers a church meal organizer dead. Harper Daggett is being stalked for an antique jade owl she bought. Baker Jeanine Gransbury’s charity event money goes missing. Jo Anderson shares hazelnut coffee creamer, sending a man into anaphylaxis shock. Penny Parson finds a gun in one of her beehives. Join them as they unravel six unexplained events that have the potential to ruin business and spoil friendships if not handled with care. (Cozy Mystery from Barbour Publishing)

The Sleuth’s Dilemma by Kimberly Rose Johnson — A high school English teacher’s life is turned upside down when she becomes the object of someone’s anger. (Romantic Mystery from Mountain Brook Ink)

Romantic Suspense:

Restoration of the Heart by June Foster — Leaving his beautiful fiancé’s world of alcohol, parties, and nights at her apartment, Luke Chamberlain returns to his Christian values, rededicates his life to the Lord, and vows never to fall into the lifestyle again. When the state of Idaho’s Tourism Department offers his construction company the contract to renovate Silver Cliff, an 1890’s silver mining ghost town, he accepts. Janie Littleton, project historian at the restoration of Silver Cliff, Idaho–an 1890’s silver mining ghost town–believes no man would find her attractive, with her extra pounds, eye glasses, and mousy brown hair. So when contractor Luke Chamberlain shows an interest in her, she doubts his sincerity. But strange turns to worse when someone claiming to be the miner who founded Silver Cliff in 1890 intimidates her with frightening midnight visits. Can Luke convince Janie he’s in love with the godly woman she is? Can Janie hold onto her faith as she’s harassed by frightening appearances of old Ezra Barclay who died a hundred years ago? (Romantic Suspense from Forget Me Not Romance)

Innocence Denied by Mike Garrett — Derrick Walton, to atone for past sins, helps an Arizona socialite hide out in Alabama while a nation-wide manhunt ensues. Can he help Larissa see the need for her soul’s salvation in time? (Romantic Suspense from CrossLink Publishing)

Speculative:

The Soul Searcher by Erin R. Howard — Elnora’s parents gave her one rule: Stay hidden away at all costs. Elnora Scott is used to her survival depending on the decisions of others. Locked away in her safe house, it is easy to follow her parents’ dying wishes until an angel, demon, and seer show up on her doorstep. Now, waking up in a dirty cell, she wishes she would have gone with them when she had the chance, because the very ones who unknowingly ushered the kidnapper to her location may be the only ones who can save her now. When Thea learns that Elnora may be in danger, she doesn’t hesitate to go find her. Thea thought stepping through the portal would be her greatest obstacle, but it only reveals a more sinister threat. (Urban Fantasy from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Women’s Fiction:

A Vow to Cherish by Deborah Raney — When his precious wife receives a devastating diagnosis, John Brighton feels his world has fallen apart. As Ellen slips away from him day by day, their love is tested as never before. Desperately needing someone to confide in, John meets Julia Sinclair, a young widow who seems to understand his pain as no one else can. Torn between doing what he knows to be right and what his heart tells him surely can’t be wrong, John soon discovers that the heart cannot be trusted where true love is concerned. (Women’s Fiction from Raney Day Press)

Young Adult:

You’re Amazing by Julie Arduini and Hannah Arduini – Middle schooler Jazmin’s a natural at dance until a series of changes make her wonder if she should even keep up with her favorite hobby. Lena’s a mom with young children overwhelmed with her schedule when a woman remarks that what Lena does isn’t even important. Both Jazmin and Lena belong to Linked, a mentoring ministry where all ages encourage each other and build friendships. Can these two surrender the lies they are believing and realize they are amazing? (Young Adult from Surrendered Scribe Media)

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How to Improve Your Newsletter


As authors, we’re supposed to be looking for ways to reach our readers. Social media, websites, blogs, newsletters . . . newsletters.

Oh, how I dread putting out my newsletter. Despite the fact that I’m always asking people to join, I don’t really like doing it (and frankly, I’m beginning to feel the same way about blogging).

But here’s the deal: Facebook—my playground—is changing again. Twitter has never really been effective for me, except when I buy askDavid tweets (and sometimes not even then). I haven’t been able to connect well with folks on Instagram. LinkedIn is best for my editing business, but not so hot for my books. Pinterest, which I love, doesn’t really allow for much interaction, just image sharing.

So the only things that actually work—that allow me to actually connect with others and that won’t change unless I change them—are my blog, my website, and my newsletter. Do I know how to use these tools effectively?

Nope.

I’m just now learning about SEOs and such, and I really should devote more time to studying them and their utilization. It’s not like there’s a shortage of information out there.

And as for newsletters, all I really know is that I ought to have one. So, I do. Now what?

Joanna Penn’s Newsletter Interview Saves the Day

The other day, Joanna Penn, of the acclaimed blog/vlog The Creative Penn, interviewed an author named Tammi Labrecque (interview available on YouTube). I’ve never heard of Tammi, but I love her ideas about newsletters. In the interview alone, I learned about “reader magnets,” what kind of “calls to action” to request, what kinds of things to write about, what kind of offers to present, how often to send out a newsletter, how to manage newsletter subscribers, and whether having a lot of subscribers really is a good thing.

That’s just in a 30-minute interview! Imagine what it would be like to get the book (Newsletter Ninja)!

A couple of things she mentioned that I hadn’t thought about are list size management and whether to mail the same type of things to everyone on the list. Tammi is a multi-genre author and has pen names for each, so she also has different lists/newsletters for each.

I don’t have pen names, but the idea still holds: Contemporary Romance, Historical Romance, and Women’s Fiction readers are pretty loyal to their preferred genres. There is some cross-over, of course, but otherwise, they stick close to their own. So my book review should appeal to the segment who prefer that book’s genre—and my reviews of books totally out of sync with my readers’ preferences should be restricted to Amazon. I have a penchant for YA these days, something that doesn’t appeal to my readers (just ask the ones who dropped their subscription after I wrote about it!).

You’d think this would be common sense, but apparently I’m dense. I figure readers, like me, like to read. I love just about anything I can get my hands on. But my reviews should be of interest to the readers, and should be aimed at the right segment.

The good thing about using MailChimp for your newsletters (I don’t know about others), is that MailChimp provides tons of stats. I can tell who opens my newsletter and how many times, who clicks links and which ones they click. All sorts of great things to help me determine whether people are interested in what I’m providing.

For instance, I send out the ACFW New Release list every month. Some folks really seem to like it, others have unsubscribed because of it. What to do?

Well, I can go through and see who opens that particular newsletter and create segment for only those people. That way, I’m not sending the new release list to those who aren’t interested. Why didn’t I think of that before?

Tammi mentions David Gaughran’s Strangers to Superfans frequently in the interview, so I’m likely to get his book too. I already have a couple of his books and subscribe to his newsletter. I like the way he presents the business of promoting as an author.

But I really liked Tammi’s presentation on Joanna’s vlog. You take her information and combine it with Ryan Zee (BookSweeps) newsletter-subscriber-building campaign and you’re off to a great start!

Never too Late to Alter Your Newsletter

If it was, I’d be dead in the water. But we’re all muddling through and looking for what works. We might lose readers along the way (I have as I’ve muddled), but the good news is that we can pick up more.

This time, I’m going to put more thought into it and use the managing techniques Tammi mentioned in her interview. Then, I’m going to change what I do currently and try again.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know what happens.

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Spinning Back in Time

The Spaniards brought sheep to America in the early seventeenth century, something I’ve never thought about as a resident of one of the biggest cattle states in the union. Sheep and goats in Texas?! Sacrilege!

But seeing that the Spaniards also introduced horses, cattle, and pigs into the area, it shouldn’t surprise me that they brought along sheep and goats too. Folks have to have something to wear and something to make it from—what better than wool?

You might be wondering why I, an author of contemporary romance and women’s fiction novels, am interested in what the Spanish Conquistadors brought to America. Well, I’m playing around with writing historical romances too. I’ve written a few historical pieces—a couple of short stories, and a novella that will release in a collection in August—but now, I’m working on a full-length novel to be part of a multi-author series. It’s all in the planning stage, and for now I’m mostly doing a feasibility study. I’m to write a novel set during the battle for Texas independence from Mexico. I’m from Texas, right? I’m supposed to know all this.

Eh, not so much. It’s been a while.

So I’ve had to do a lot of research, not just of the era and its socio-political climate, but of the common, ordinary things people did back then. The little things that people would have engaged in during their dialogue. What kept their hands busy? What did they do during ordinary days?

This past weekend, our town had a little event to celebrate East Texas’s history of sugar cane syrup production, which was great and fascinating and all, but the part of Texas where my story is set wasn’t likely to be raising sugar cane. It is perfect, however, for cattle, sheep, and goats.

Hence my interest in the spinning wheel.

The one pictured above is a “great walking spinning wheel,” one of the earlier types, though I don’t know if it’s the kind the Spaniards would have used. They were brought down into Texas from the American northeast. Until this past weekend, I had no idea how a wheel worked, but the woman who demonstrated it allowed me a chance to spin some wool into yarn (so cool!).

Ingrid, the woman illustrating the process, divided some carded wool—Leicester that day, though, again, I don’t know if the Spaniards would’ve had that kind of sheep. She took a much smaller portion than shown in the picture and wrapped it on the spindle. Then, after a few turns to show me what to do, she let me at it.

With my right hand, I turned the wheel clockwise while lightly holding the wool in my left. The large wheel spins the spindle where strands of wool twist into strands of yarn. Next, I changed the angle of my left hand, and instead of twisting the yarn, I began loading it onto the spindle.

You collect the yarn on the spindle until it’s full (or you have to quit), then it’s ready to be unwound on a “weasel,” pictured at the left.

Each full revolution of the weasel equals a yard, and after you have so many yards, you remove the yarn and have a skein.

At each complete revolution, a gear in the weasel snaps a stick, making a popping sound. You know how many yards you have when “Pop! goes the weasel.”

Back in the day, this could be done for the household only or for sale or trade. While the men worked outside, tending herds of whatever, women contributed to the household income by creating things, including yarn and woven products to sell.

And while they spun their yarn, they would talk amongst themselves. How fun that while I write about them, I get to decide what they talked about. I think I’m going to enjoy writing historical fiction!

 

 

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2018 Favorite Novels

According to Goodreads, I set my goal for 2018 at 36 books. What was I thinking? Between those I edit and those I write, I don’t have time for pleasure reading. By the end of the year, I logged in a pathetic 19 books, only one of which is nonfiction writing-related.

In my defense, though, this doesn’t include the NF books I read to my legally blind mother. Her preference tends toward religion and politics. I think I read four books to her this year, not including two of mine, bringing my total to 23.

The bulk of the books I read for pleasure were Historical Romance, unusual for me. I also read YA fiction and Fantasy/Christian Supernatural along with a couple of Women’s Fiction novels.

I put my favorite first, but couldn’t resist giving room to the others–in no particular order. It was a very good year for HR (tap the cover for the links).

I really loved this book. Not only did I enjoy the development of the characters’ romance, I enjoyed reading about a part of America I’m unfamiliar with, complete with the activities, careers, lifestyles associated with that area. Naomi did a wonderful job with her descriptions. For historical romance lovers, this one is a definite must.

Speaking of being whisked away to another place and time, Michelle Griep is a wonder at providing her readers with a bit of escapism. Her writing is often lyrical, with a rhythm and life that I love, and her research is impeccable, considering she goes to England to do it. The Innkeeper’s Daughter has it all—romance, mystery, suspense. Like all of Michelle’s books, it’s definitely worth the read. It ties with Naomi’s for top billing in historical romance.

Others I enjoyed this year are:

One HR novella collection was a lot of fun this year and included authors I wasn’t familiar with. I’m a huge fan of Pegg Thomas, but this collection introduced me to Candice Sue Patterson too–and now I’m a fan of hers.

These were all great reads. If you like Historical Romance—English, American, deep past or more recent—you’ll love all these books.

The two Young Adult books I read were as different as day and night. One was an action/adventure, and the other was more of a new-future political thriller.

Mardan’s Heir, a novella in the Mardan’s Mark Epic Fantasy Adventure Series is a total escape and completely fun read. It ends with a cliff-hanger, but Kathrese promised put the sequel out quickly. All her books in this series are great. You don’t have to be a young adult to love them.

I loved The First Principle. Kind of a political thriller for young adults, but like most YA I’ve read, its audience isn’t limited to the young. Marissa Shrock takes all the socio-political changes going on today to their logical conclusion and shows the impact on a near-future society. Christian YA fiction at its finest.

 

I hit the jackpot this year in Fantasy/Christian Supernatural. But The Wrong Enemy wins as my favorite in this genre this year.

What an intricate look at the effects of guilt and non-communication. What a great novel of God’s love and forgiveness!

I didn’t realize this one was part of a series, but when I have time, I intend to go back and read them all. Jane Lebak has a new fan in me!

Among the other greats include K.M. Wyland/Weiland’s smash hit, Wayfarer, the making of a superhero.

All three of these were really good. The Harbinger series with Billy Myers, Frank Peretti, and Angela Hunt is totally engrossing. I haven’t read them all, but the ones I have read were fantastic.

Of the Women’s Fiction novels, I don’t know which I like the best. As Waters Gone By reads more like WF, but I didn’t know what else to call Liar’s Winter. The two are entirely different in style, and both are so wonderful, I don’t know which to give top billing. So—here they are:

Book of the Year for 2018

I can’t help being fascinated by this novel. The best part is that it’s Book 1 of the Emancipation Warriors series. I’ve added the entire series to my wish list.

There ya go. Not all the novels I read last year are here, but this is the bulk of them. I had fun in 2018 with all my books. I wonder what 2019 will bring? I know one sad-but-true thing: I won’t get to read all the ones I want to.

 

 

 

 

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New Releases by ACFW Authors!

January 2019 New Releases

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

Amish Romance:

Seasons of an Amish Garden by Amy Clipston — Enjoy a year of beautiful seasons in this new story collection, as young Amish couples manage a community garden and harvest friendships and love along the way. (Amish Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Courting Her Prodigal Heart by Mary Davis — Pregnant and alone, Dori Bontrager is sure her Amish kin won’t welcome her—or the child she’s carrying—into the community. And she’s determined that her return won’t be permanent. As soon as she finds work, she’ll leave again. But with her childhood friend Eli Hochstetler insisting she and her baby belong here, will Dori’s path lead back to the Englisher world…or into Eli’s arms? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Contemporary Romance:

Her Hope Discovered by Cynthia Herron — Charla Winthrop, a savvy business woman seeking a permanent lifestyle change in small-town Ruby, Missouri, learns that things aren’t always what they appear when she takes up residence in a house steeped in charm and a hint of mystery. Rumor has it that Sam Packard the town carpenter is her go-to guy for home remodeling, but can Charla convince him to help her—with no strings attached, of course? Alone far too long, Sam’s prayed that God would send him a wife and a mother for his daughters. However, the new Ruby resident is hardly what he imagined. A new place to call “home,” the possibility of what might be, and the answer to someone’s prayers unite this unlikely pair with the help of the town’s residents. (Contemporary Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Cozy Mystery:

Murderous Heart by Lynne Waite Chapman — Freelance writer, Lauren Halloren pens popular magazine articles extoling the comfort and security of small town America. And Evelynton, Indiana treasures its wholesome small town values. Ask anyone. Streets are safe to walk. People look out for one another. Marriage vows are treasured. Murders are solved. In this third volume of the Evelynton Murder series, Lauren, along with friends, Clair and Anita stumble over another body. The partially mummified remains turn out to be an Evelynton resident. But how, in this close knit community, could a woman be deceased for over six months without being missed? (Cozy Mystery from Winged Publications)

Historical Romance:

My Heart Belongs in the Blue Ridge: Laurel’s Dream by Pepper Basham — Journey into the Blue Ridge Mountains of 1918 where Laurel McAdams endures the challenges of a hard life while dreaming things can eventually improve. But trouble arrives in the form of an outsider. Having failed his British father again, Jonathan Taylor joins is uncle’s missionary endeavors as a teacher in a two-room schoolhouse. Laurel feels compelled to protect the tenderhearted teacher from the harsh realities of Appalachian life, even while his stories of life outside the mountains pull at Laurel’s imagination. Faced with angry parents over teaching methods, Laurel’s father’s drunken rages, and bad news from England, will Jonathan leave and never return, or will he stay and let love bloom? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Homeward Journey by Misty M. Beller — Finally free from her dead husband’s addicted lifestyle, Rachel Gray and her young son set out for a new life in the wilderness of the Canadian territories. She is reluctant to accept help from another man, but after a bear threatens her son’s life, she agrees to accompany two God-fearing brothers who are traveling to the same area. Slowly, she begins to trust the one named Seth. Despite Rachel’s best efforts, she can’t seem to fight her attraction to Seth—until a secret from his past proves he had more in common with her husband than she thought. When a new peril threatens her son’s life, she must choose between trusting in what she can control, or the man who her heart says is trustworthy, no matter his previous sins. The path she chooses just may determine whether she can step into the new life God has in store for them all. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Stepping into the Light by Candee Fick — With war looming and a madwoman in their midst, the only hope for a peaceful future may lie in a marriage alliance between a disfigured recluse of the Gunn clan and the overlooked second son of Clan Sinclair. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

 

Under the Midnight Sun by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse — Tayler Hale is ahead of her time as one of the first women naturalists. She has always loved adventure and the great outdoors, and her remote job location also helps keep her away from the clutches of the man to whom she once made a foolish promise. It seems she must keep running, however, and in secret, her boss from Yellowstone arranges for a new job . . . in Alaska. The popular Curry Hotel continues to thrive in 1929 as more visitors come to Alaska and venture into the massive national park surrounding Denali. Recent graduate Thomas Smith has returned to the hotel and the people he considers family. But when a woman naturalist comes to fill the open position and he must work with her, everything becomes complicated. The summer brings unexpected guests and trouble to Curry. With his reputation at stake, will Thomas be able to protect Tayler from the danger that follows? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Devotion by Olivia Rae — Injured and unable to make his living by the sword, Sir Theo de Born needs to secure his keep by becoming an educated man. As he finds himself falling for his reluctant teacher, he learns of her plan to leave England before the winter sets in. How can he convince her to stay and fulfill her promise while protecting his heart? Denied her true love and sent away to a convent, Lady Rose de Payne has no choice but to accept to become Sir Theo’s teacher. However, she has a plan to escape the confines of her new prison and start fresh in a different country. As the chilly winds blow, her resolve begins to waver. Will she abandon Sir Theo to a miserable fate or will she give up her dreams to make his come true? (Historical Romance from HopeKnight Press)

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And the winner is . . .

Did you know about my Clean Read Giveaway? It included a copy of A Southern Season and a bar of specialty, homemade soap from Brea Rose Soap Garden, called “Coastal Mist” to honor my novella in the collection, Ice Melts in Spring.

If you didn’t know about the giveaway, then you should check out my website occasionally at lindawyezak.com (notice the “w.” My blog address doesn’t have it) and look under the “Extras” tab. In fact, if you went there and signed up for my “Coffee with Linda” newsletter, you’d get notice of giveaways right in your mailbox!

And now for my announcement . . .

The winner of my Clean Reads Giveaway is

CHARLENE WHITEHOUSE

Charlene, be sure to send me your address so I can send out this great set to you!

By the way, y’all. I’ve tried Brea Rose Soap and love it! Dolly Vogel makes some of the cutest bars of soap chock full of skin scenting and softening ingredients that feel totally luxurious. And they’re so cute!!! If you haven’t seen her site you need to. She has a Facebook store, and considering she has over 56,000 followers, she must do pretty good.

And for those who would like to read A Southern Seasonthe Kindle version is free this week! Be sure to grab it!

 

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