I May Kill You

Blog Post - I may kill you

Like today’s title? Well, it’s true. I may kill you. Or at least part of you. In the very least, if I know you well enough to know your flaws, there is a very good chance I may steal them, magnify them, mix them in with someone else’s struggles, and make you part of my next antagonist (or any character, really, since they all have flaws). Whom I may or may not kill off in my next book. Consider yourself warned.

If you think that truth is frightening, you should probably stop reading now, because the even scarier truth is that all of my villains contain at least a small part of me. In order to write any character well, I have to be able to relate to them on some level. I have to understand their psyche, what motivates them, and why they feel and do what they do. This means that some part of who I am now or who I once was at some point in my life is very likely to be reflected in some part of each of my characters . . . including the philanderers, thieves, con-artists, and murderers.

So… who still wants to be my friend?

Please do not annoy the writer Mug photo
Today’s blog post was inspired by this photo of Elena Dillon’s mug which she shared on Twitter. (used here with permission) Elena writes teenage romance full of sass, suspense and swoon. For those interested: there is infrequent mild cursing in a couple of her books, but they are otherwise clean. Elena is a Christian and says her books have a faith basis but don’t meet CBA standards. You can learn more about Elena and her books HERE.

 

First Line Friday – 1.12.18

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Woohoo! It’s my first First Line Friday of 2018!

If you’re new to First Line Friday, welcome! Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. In return, I hope you’ll share with me a first line from whatever book you have at hand!

Today I’m sharing the first line from a novel I recently finished, Count Me In by Mikal Dawn. I actually discovered this book when Trisha shared its first line in a comment on my December 8, 2017 FLF post. Then Mikal did an interview over at Joy of Reading which I think was one of the best author interviews I read last year, and I was sold. I immediately clicked over to Amazon and bought the book. Now, having read and truly enjoyed this novel, I decided it deserved its own FLF post here so that more readers could discover it. I’ll also be sharing my full review of this book on January 22, so be sure to come back and check it out! 🙂 Thank you, Trisha & Mikal!

 

Count Me In

 

The little hairs on the back of Allegra Spencer’s neck stood at attention. He was behind her.

 

Don’t let this opening fool you. This isn’t a suspense novel. It’s a contemporary romantic comedy with a Christian worldview.

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Allegra Spencer has been living a careful life. Her safe job as an accountant is bookended by going to church and the gym. Okay, sometimes the gym. Fine. She goes to church. And the coffee shop. She avoids risk at all cost, preferring to stay safe in her cozy condo. Until her accounting firm goes belly up and she’s out of a job.

Tyler Hawk had a glorious career as a star NFL tight end. He retired on a high note and now lives a second dream of owning his own business and leading others on extreme outdoor adventures. But he needs help with his books—and his heart. When Allegra takes the job, sparks fly.

It’s a case of safety zone versus danger zone, and in their minds, never the two shall meet.

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating:

Mama’s Storytime – So Great a Love

Today I present to you my second episode of Mama’s Storytime! I hope you enjoy it!

No time for the video or not in a place where you can turn the sound on? Here’s the written version of my review for So Great a Love by Kristie Wilde:

So Great A Love cover image

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“Does God really love me?” This delightful children’s book helps little ones understand how God loves them.

Each beautiful, engaging, two page spread is a full color illustration revealing a diffrent aspect of God’s love through a specific animal — God protects you like a mama bear, He wants to cover you like a hen covers her chicks, etc.

The detailed illustrations go beyond the text and explore the animal in it’s natural setting, encouraging imagination, exploration and conversation.

So Great a Love is the second book in the Joyful Creation series.

My Thoughts

First of all, I just love the illustrations in this book. The artistry is right up my alley. The author has signed the title page for me and I appreciate the personal touch. I also like the bookmark which features a portion of the illustrations from the Koala page in the book.

The first page of the story begins with a two-page landscape illustration of the mountains and the deserts declaring, “Higher than the mountains and wider than the desert . . . so great is God’s love for you!”

The next two page spread shows a mother hen gathering her newly hatched chicks and compares the hens desire to gather her chicks to God’s desire to gather us.

A page featuring rambunctious bear cubs and two adult bears, including one on its hind legs with little cubs peaking out from behind her, tells the reader, “He will protect you . . . just like a mama bear protects her cubs!”

The koala page is next and tells us about God helping us like the koala helps her young. This is followed by my favorite page depicting a swallow-like bird spreading her wings to cover her baby chicks. The text reads:  “He’ll hide you in the storms . . . as the bird hides her babies.”

I love the idea here, that the storms will come, the trials, the troubles, the stresses, the hard parts of life . . . they will come. But God will be with you. He will take care of you. He will lift you up and shelter you (when He thinks it’s wise) within those storms.

As a Christian I don’t believe we’re exempt from life’s trials and troubles, but I think that this book is a reassuring story for children. It tells them that God loves them and will be there for them. It tells them that He will watch out for them like their mom and dad should.

I think this book is a good starting place for parents to have those kinds of discussions with their kids. Discussions that admit there are still going to be storms, but God will be with you through them all.

I really like this book and definitely recommend it. If you have a chance to pick it up . . . I would.

Additional Information (not included in the video):

Other featured animals include a lioness, a camel, and an otter. Breaking from the animal theme, the book also compares God to a shepherd watching over his sheep.

The final page of the book encourages the readers to run to God, promising that, “He will always love you!”

As the mother of a transracial family, I am sensitive to how our Lord is depicted in art of any kind. For those who might wish to know:

The illustration on the final page shows children of all ages running  to a man who primarily has his back toward the viewer. Only about 1/4 of his face is shown, but he is illustrated in the typical western depiction of Jesus with pale skin and long, wavy brown hair. (The shepherd mentioned before is depicted similarly.) He is shown lifting a child into the air in a playful manner.


Disclosure of Material: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program, which requires an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.  View My Promise To Readers HERE.

Do you have a favorite Children’s Book? I’d love to read about it in the comments below!

Hello, Real World!

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So I had all these great ideas for my first blog post of 2018 and this great book I wanted to share for my first First Line Friday post of 2018, but then I started writing in my current novel in progress, and plotting, and editing, and researching, and then writing some more, and … next thing I new the entire first week of 2018 had disappeared and I hadn’t posted a single thing online.

One of the problems with being a writer is getting so wrapped up in my fictional world and my characters’ struggles that I forget about other things. Like First Line Friday posts, Facebook status updates, and interacting on Twitter. Woops. My bad.

Don’t worry, though. In between my crazy writing frenzies, I did manage to record my next Mama’s Storytime video book review. So look for that to go live Monday morning! Yay!

Also, now that I have remembered the real world, I will be sure to get my FLF post up on time this week – barring any more unscheduled trips to the emergency room (Everyone’s okay. Don’t ask.) So things should start getting back to normal around here. Sorry about going MIA on you. I hope you have all had a fantastic start to the new year. I know I’m super excited with the progress I’ve already made on my current work in progress and can’t wait to see what blessings God has in store this year.

I’m always talking about me. I’d love to hear about you! Tell me about your new year. What have you been up to this past week? Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Have you kept them or did they already bite the dust? Let me know in the comments below!

2017 – A Blog in Review

A Blog in Review 2017

At the beginning of this new year, I think it only appropriate to take a look back at what the past year has produced.

THE STATS

I wrote and shared exactly 100 blog posts (not including this one).

I wrote 30 book reviews, including 3 shared exclusively with my KRC members.

I shared 4 Author Interviews.

I wrote 4 posts on American History – including 1 shared exclusively with my KRC members.

I posted my first ever vlog.

I posted my first Mama’s Storytime video with my review of two children’s books.

I shared 10 giveaways. Of those 10, I personally provided the prize for 8 of them and of those 8 giveaways, 4 were open exclusively to my KRC members.

Through those 10 giveaways, I was blessed to giveaway 16 books (7 exclusively to KRC members) along with other prizes.

MOST POPULAR

My top ten most popular blog posts of this year were:

Top Ten MUST READ Historical Romance Novels for 2017

My Review & GIVEAWAY! – The Patriot & the Loyalist

Name That Book! – Win a Prize!

Summer Reading Roundup 2017 +GIVEAWAY!

My Review – A Lady In Disguise +GIVEAWAY!

First Line Friday – 11.17.17

My top ten most popular book reviews of this year were:

My Review & GIVEAWAY! – The Patriot & the Loyalist

My Review – A Lady In Disguise +GIVEAWAY!

My Review – Love at First Laugh

My Review – Such A Hope

My Review – The Thorn Healer

Rave Review! – Turtles in the Road

My Review – Heart on the Line

Mama’s Storytime – Made For A Purpose

My Review – The Scarlet Coat

My Review – Long Time Gone

MY GOALS AND GRATTITUDE

I started this year with the goal of being more consistent with my blog posts and finding new ways to connect to both my readers and fellow bloggers. I am blessed to say that I have accomplished these goals.

I think most blog readers underestimate the impact their comments and likes have on the blog author.  I know I smile each and every time I see a “like” added to one of my posts and it just makes my day when someone leaves a comment. Honestly. It lets me know I’m not just writing to stroke my own ego, but actually providing something you find value in. That is, after all, the goal of all my writing:  to encourage, entertain, and inspire my readers.

Blogging can be a lonely, somewhat confusing activity, in which I put words out into the world on the hope and prayer that someone benefits from them in some way. It’s a bit like the cliche of throwing spaghetti at a wall and waiting to see which bits stick. Your likes and comments are the only concrete encouragement I have to tell me I am on the right track. So I want to take this moment to thank each and every one of you who has ever “liked” or commented on any of my posts. You are truly appreciated. 

I’d like to take this moment to invite you to join my Kathleen’s Readers’ Club, if you haven’t already. Through my quarterly KRC emails I share the highlights of my writing journey, exclusive content, book deals, exclusive giveaways, and more. Click HERE for more information.

Whether you are a KRC member, a regular visitor to my blog, or this is your very first time here, thank you for reading and Happy New Year!

Happy New Year - Numbers Scripture Image

I’d love to read about the goals you accomplished and the milestones you crossed this past year! Please share them with me in the comments below or by emailing me at writeKathleenDenly @ gmail .com.

Rapid Review Roundup

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Ahh! Where has this year gone? How are we already past the middle of December? *Sigh* I don’t know about you, but I had so many grand plans that simply did not come to fruition this year. Don’t get me wrong. I had many amazing successes and blessings, but I tend to dream big and plan accordingly. Therefore, no matter how much I wish to accomplish some things, life happens and time moves on, and those things just don’t get done. So here I am with Christmas on the horizon and I’m so far behind on the reviews I’d planned to write for you all, that I’ve lost hope of actually completing them before the year’s end.

However, these were some truly amazing books and I so dearly want to share them with you that I have decided a compromise is in order. I just don’t have the time to write my full reviews for these books, but I can at least summarize my thoughts and share the highlights for each of them so that you can decide if they sound like something that might fit your particular reading tastes. So here goes my first ever Rapid Review Roundup:

The Lady and the Lionheart

The Lady and The Lionheart by Joanne Bischoff

This year’s (tie) winner of the Christy Award for Historical Romance, it’s no surprise that I absolutely fell in love with this book. From the moment I opened the first page I felt I had stepped into this heroine’s world. I could see, hear, feel, and taste what it was like to live the life of Bischoff’s heroine. I never would have thought the circus would be such a compelling setting, but getting to know this unique subculture of the past was incredibly delightful and I would love to visit it again. Definitely one of my top five favorite books of the year, I cannot say enough how highly I recommend The Lady and The Lionheart!

At Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings

At Love’s Bidding by Regina Jennings

The opening of this novel just drew me in. There is a hint of story-telling quality to it that appeals to me, which is ironic since that usually isn’t a style I go for. If story-telling isn’t usually your style either, I encourage you to give this book a try anyway. At least find somewhere to read the first few pages. This novel is worth stretching your comfort zone. The characters are charmingly flawed and courageous in their own ways. The plot keeps a steady pace and I recall especially enjoying a twist near the end which I didn’t anticipate.

One of the things I liked most about this novel was its subplot involving of the heroine’s grandfather and his slip into dementia. Without bringing the story down from its light and laughter, the author gave us a peek into what it’s like for the family members of a person experiencing such a life change. I especially enjoyed noting the subtle differences of such a change for a man and family of this time period vs now.

For The Record cover image

For The Record by Regina Jennings

This novel was just plain fun. Don’t misunderstand me. That isn’t an implication that this novel lacked depth. The layers and the writing skills were absolutely there, but when I think back on this novel I can’t help but smile. The hero and heroine in this story were my kind of people, not afraid to go after what they want and not too proud to apologize when they were wrong. This story isn’t an all-out action story, or edge-of-your-seat-suspense, but you won’t want to put it down either. It’s a little small mountain town and a little wild west. There are real troubles and real adventures had by characters who feel real and engage your emotions. Although this is a sequel to At Love’s Bidding, this novel can definitely stand on its own.

Against the Tide

Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden

This book stood out to me not only due to its excellent writing and compelling story, but it manages the unique feat of strongly involving the shipping industry without any of the characters stepping foot on a ship (outside of the prologue) – at least not “on scene” (so there are some memories of being on ships and discussions of travels, but no actual scenes happening on ships in “present time.). While I’m not sure that really matters when it comes to whether or not this is an enjoyable book, I found it an interesting quirk. Aside from that, I found the characters to be emotionally engaging and complex. The plot certainly held my attention (keeping me from sleep on more than one night) and the ending was most satisfying. I highly recommend Against the Tide.

(Incidentally, one of the other novel by Camden which I read this year, From This Moment, was a finalist for the Christy Award in Historical Romance. Needless to say, I highly recommend that one as well.)

Never Forget

Never Forget by Jody Hedlund

I enjoyed the emotions this novel provoked in me. As a reader I couldn’t help feeling compassionate toward the heroine and the mess she gets herself into. I wanted to keep reading and discover how it all turned out. Would it blow up in her face or would she find a smoother way out? In the end, the author surprised me and I loved it. The hero is no less of a mess and must make some significant decisions of his own. I enjoyed reading along to see what became of these two characters. I definitely recommend this novel.

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The Improper Proposal by Davalynn Spencer

This is the first book I have read by this author. I can’t remember where I heard of this book, but I am so glad I picked it up. The premise drew me in and the story kept me reading. The author has a unique voice which I am looking forward to reading more of. This story brings you into the lives of two genuinely good, though flawed, people learning how to live in God’s strength through difficult and unexpected circumstances. Better yet, the love that grows between them is the warm and true kind you want to wrap up in. Not your typical marriage of convenience story, you’ll wish this book didn’t end.

psst

If you enjoyed these rapid reviews, be sure to sign up for Kathleen’s Readers’ Club to receive quarterly emails in which I share more reviews like these as well as other bits of information and news you may find interesting, not to mention the giveaways only KRC members are eligible for. In fact, I’ll be writing my winter email and sending it out tonight with an extra special Celebration Giveaway you won’t want to miss, so sign up today if you aren’t already a member!

Christmas 2017 KRC Giveaway
Open ONLY to members of Kathleen’s Readers’ Club, so join today!

So what do you think of my rapid reviews? Would you like to see more of these or do you prefer my longer, more in-depth reviews? Which of these books most appeals to you?

First Line Friday – 12.15.17

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Welcome to a very special First Line Friday! Each Friday I pick a book and share the first line with you. In return, I hope you’ll share with me a first line from whatever book you have at hand!

What makes this week so special? Well, I had mentioned in a post last month that one of my manuscripts was a finalist in the the Historical Romance category in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s First Impressions Contest, along with manuscripts by Dawne Beckel  & Savanna Kaiser. (If anyone knows of a better link to Dawne, please let me know! You can bet I’ll be following along with their careers and looking forward to their first published novels.)

So . . . I just found out that my manuscript has WON ! Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh! (Be grateful you weren’t here after I concluded my conversation with the person who called to inform me. My children have lost a bit of hearing, poor dears.)

I wish I knew how to convey in writing how stunned and honored I am. A bit ironic that I have no words, I suppose, but it’s true. I’m a bit speechless. Mostly, though, I am grateful. So incredibly grateful for the encouragement and the honor. I’m also deeply grateful for those who have sacrificed their time and efforts helping me to improve my craft. (I would list them here, but that could take all day to read and well, you know who you are. I couldn’t do what I do without you!)

 

As my way of paying forward the kindnesses shown to me, I’ll be celebrating this win with a very special giveaway open only to my Kathleen’s Readers’ Club members, so if you haven’t already joined, now is the time to do so! For those who are already members, keep an eye on your inbox this week for an extra special email.

The list of previous winners of the First Impressions Contest in this genre includes:

Abigail Wilson

Deb Garland (who apparently won 2 years in a row!)

Betty Woods

I’ll be keeping my eye out for books published by these ladies.

Now, on to the business of the day.

In keeping with the theme of new authors, I thought I’d share the first line from the prologue of Beneath the Heavens, Lindsey Barlow‘s debut novel which just released in October of this year.

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New Hampshire 1891

Esther looked down at the letter for what must have been the hundredth time.

This book was randomly stumbled upon while I was googling one day and is now on my TBR. I started reading the prologue and found myself all the way in and starting the first chapter before I knew what had happened.

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A heart guarded, a secret revealed, a love discovered – When the beautiful and coddled Abigail Silvers is sent from her parents’ lush Texas ranch to the untamed wilds of Tall Pine, Colorado, her mother is hoping that Abigail will learn independence and self-reliance. What Abigail finds among the Colorado mountain people is a community built on hard work, faith, and family––she also finds the handsome Pastor Will who, much to her dismay, seems only to have eyes for Esther, the community’s midwife hiding from a dark past. Fiercely protective of her young son Michael, Esther’s determined not to let anyone ­close enough to hurt them––even if that means sacrificing true love. But when the Texas Ranger Joseph Silver, Abigail’s brother, shows up, Esther’s past is unearthed and her heart is exposed. Abigail and Joseph’s brash Texas manners rattle the people of Tall Pine, but ultimately the brother and sister may be an answer to prayer the townspeople didn’t know they needed.

Now it’s your turn to grab the book nearest to you and leave a comment with the first (or your favorite) line!

Then head over to Hoarding Books to see who else is participating: