The Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine Blogger Award

I am so touched to have been nominated for this Sunshine Blogger Award by Becca of The Becca Files.

The Sunshine Blogger Award is a peer recognition for bloggers across all genres who inspire “positivity and joy.” While there is no formal evaluation or vetting process, and no tangible prize, it is so sweet to receive this award because it is special when it comes from fellow bloggers who view my blog as “inspiring positivity and joy.”

Sunshine Blogger Award rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

My answers to the 11 questions from Becca:

  1. What is a favorite book from your childhood? This one is tricky because I loved so many books as a child. However, the one that I think most inspired my imagination has to be, Lily of the Forest by Brian McConnachie, illustrated by Jack Ziegler. I actually still have the copy from my childhood and it turns out that is a good thing because when I checked today, I discovered it is no longer in print. 😦 Lily of the Forest
  2. If you could have lunch with any author who would it be? Well, that is a tough question! I have met so many wonderful authors while at the various writers conferences I have attended. I can’t imagine picking just one. So, if I take it a step further and add the “living or dead” clause, I would have to say that I would love to have lunch with Jane Austen. While I admittedly haven’t studied much on her biography, her writing makes me imagine sitting on the edge of a gathering somewhere, listening to her quietly make witty observations about the people around us. Not in a gossipy sort of way, but in the unique and humorous way she has of seeing beyond people’s social masks.
  3. If you could travel to anywhere in the world where would you go? Another tough one. I’ve done quite a lot of travel, actually, but there are still many places I’d love to see. The three that spring to mind are Ireland, England, and Australia. Although, I’ve also always dreamed of seeing the setting for Anne of Green Gables. So Prince Edward Island would definitely be near the top of that list.
  4. What is your favorite genre to read? Finally, an easy one:  Historical Christian Romance. I enjoy delving into what life may have been like for our ancestors–the nitty-gritty things like how they did their laundry–and I love reading about God working in people’s lives to bring joy from tragedy and trial.
  5. Is there a genre you refuse to read? Erotica. Point blank.
  6. What is your favorite part of blogging? Helping to connect readers and authors of wonderful books. I have always wanted to shout the news to the world whenever I have finished a particularly enjoyable book. As an author, I now appreciate the hard work and perseverance that goes into bringing those stories to the world. Blogging gives me a chance to reward their diligent efforts and to bless a fellow reader with another fascinating story. Because I review Christian romance, I also have the pleasure of knowing that God often uses these stories to bring His children closer to Him.
  7. If you could give one piece of advice to new bloggers what would that be? Don’t over commit yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers. Do figure out what makes you different. Always keep close to mind the reason you are putting in this effort. Oops. I guess that’s four pieces of advice. 😉
  8. What’s a real-life fact you learned in a fictional book? From Karen Barnett’s Where the Fire Falls, I learned that for nearly one hundred years, the workers at Yosemite National park would push hot embers over the edge of Glacier Point, creating the illusion of a “fire fall” for the spectators watching from Camp Curry. The spectacle was a nightly tradition which drew many visitors.

    Book Quote - Where the Fire Falls - Waterfall Surrender
    See my review HERE.
  9. What is your favorite book, character, or story in the Bible? I don’t think I could pick a favorite, but recently I’ve been studying the book of Matthew again and was struck by the story of the disciples and how they still questioned Jesus’s instructions after all the miracles He’d performed. In particular, I found it both amusing and reassuring that even after he feeds 5000 men PLUS women and children with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, leaving 12 baskets of leftovers, they still question him when he tells them to feed another crowd even though that crowd held fewer people (4000 men plus women and children) and the disciples had more food (seven loaves and a few small fish}. The disciples still ask, in essence, “How are we going to accomplish this seemingly impossible task you have asked us to do?” It makes me laugh because it sounds so foolish given what happened the last time, yet it also is far too familiar. There are so many times in my life when God has proven Himself capable of the impossible, yet every single time I am presented with another impossible task that I feel He has given me I ask the same thing, “But how?”

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    See more of my bible journaling on Instagram.
  10. Who is your favorite historical figure? Oh, come on! I only get one?! Well, fine. I’m going for the obvious:  Jesus. 😉 Not satisfied? I guess, my next favorite might be . . . well, they are all so complicated, just like the people of today. It’s difficult to call someone “my favorite” because there will always be some things I admire about them and other things I don’t. Two that come immediately to mind are Helen Keller–because of her incredible contributions to the deaf/blind community–and George Horatio Derby–because he is connected to local San Diego history and makes me laugh. He stands out as a man unlike many of his contemporaries, a true character. Which is, of course, why I gave him a cameo in my first novel.
  11. If you were stuck on a deserted island and could have 1 personal item and 1 survival item what would you pick to have? The Bible. No contest. As for the survival item . . . Assuming there is a source of fresh water somewhere, I would pick a book of survival skills because there are very few things that can’t be made from found objects but you can’t find the objects or turn them into useful tools without the knowledge of how to do so. Since no one can memorize how to do or make everything, written instructions sound pretty good to me. My second choice would be a knife to make just about everything I needed to do easier.

My 11 nominees are:

Reading Is My Superpower

Bookworm Mama

Faithfully Bookish

Joy of Reading

The Christian Fiction Girl

Christian Shelf Esteem

The Engrafted Word

A Baker’s Perspective

Molly at Cover to Cover Cafe

C Jane Read

Just Commonly

 

The questions for my nominees:

  1. What is one lesson you had to learn the hard way?
  2. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
  3. Why did you start blogging and is the reason you continue to blog different?
  4. What are you reading right now and which book is next on your TBR?
  5. What is your favorite comfort food?
  6. When you aren’t reading or blogging, what are you most likely to be doing?
  7. Who inspired your love of reading?
  8. Of all the pieces of clothing you own, which is your favorite and why?
  9. What is the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome as a blogger?
  10. What is your favorite genre to read?
  11. Of all the blog posts you’ve written, which is your favorite? Please post the link.

 

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.

Beneath the Heavens cover image

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:

ACFW First Impressions 2017 FINALIST!

Exciting News

Every year American Christian Fiction Writers holds the First Impressions contest for unpublished writers. For the first time, this year I decided to enter one of my manuscripts and I am over the moon to announce that I am one of three finalists in the historical romance category!

I wish I could do a vlog so you could see just how excited I am, but I have a cold with a sore throat and you all don’t deserve the torture that is my voice right now.

Suffice to say, this:  I got the call yesterday afternoon as I was leaving my children’s dentist’s office (walking to our van) and the second I hung up the phone I was doing such a big happy dance my kids busted up laughing and said I was bouncing our van. This, despite having been on the verge of falling asleep in the lobby minutes before. Nothing like awesome news to brighten an otherwise miserable day and bring energy to the virus weary.

I also want to add a big congratulations to all my fellow finalists, especially those in the Historical Romance category:

Dawne Beckel  & Savanna Kaiser

You can read the names of the finalists in each category HERE.

The winners of the 2017 First Impressions contest will be announced on December 15th.

An Experience I’ll Never Forget – Asheville Christian Writers Conference 2017

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This was my first time attending the Asheville Christian Writers Conference.  My first time attending any conference which was so far away I couldn’t drive to and from home each day. In fact, living in California, I had to fly myself to North Carolina just to attend this conference. I had to pay for the rental car which I drove over 100 miles each way from the airport to the hotel room which I also had to pay for. This was no small trip where my pocketbook was concerned and I was gone several days in a row, leaving my hardworking, crazy-busy husband to take care of our three boys alone. So was it worth it?

Well, let me tell you about it.

The people

One of the best things about attending a writers conference is the people you meet. I met so many wonderful people at this conference that it would take far too long to list them all. So I will limit myself to sharing just three of the many special connections I made.

em_photo-1Edie Melson taught the very first Early Bird Class for this conference on the “Hows and Whys of Social Media” and from that moment I knew I was in the right place. Not only did I learn a lot just in the short time she spoke, but her warmth and generosity came through in her words and the way she presented herself. Over the next few days I had several opportunities to speak with Edie both one-on-one and in groups. I can tell she is a woman who knows her stuff and has a passion for helping others. I am blessed to have gotten to know her.

ruth-and-i-at-acwc-2017Ruth Steel is someone I met in the halls. We made eye contact, smiled, and after exchanging names and shaking hands, I opened with the typical writers’ conference question, “So, what do you write?” (Original, I know.) When she replied that she was working on a historical fiction novel for the Young Adult audience, I immediately knew we were going to be friends. We enjoyed many conversations over the next few days and exchanged contact information so that we can keep in touch and continue to cheer each other on in our writing endeavors.

Melanie and I met in the shuttle at check-in on the very first day. There was something about her smile and her readiness to chat with anyone that told me I was going to like this lady. Turns out I was right. I think there was something about our personalities that we just clicked. But I’d be lying if I didn’t admit there was a particular something she let slip in one of our earliest conversations that made me instantly decide she was my new best friend.

You see, when she found out that I write historical Christian romance, she responded, “Oh! I have a friend who writes that. In fact, her book just came out.” I was like, “Really? Would you mind giving her my contact info? I’m always wanting to get to know other people in my genre.” And she says,”Sure.” And then she says this: “I forget the title of her book, hold on….Her name is Sondra umm…” and she trails off as she starts looking in her bag for something and I’m like, “Kraak? Sondra Kraak?” And she says, “Yes.”!!!

I’m not gonna lie. I had a serious fangirl moment, but I tried to play it cool. (Not too sure I succeeded. Don’t call me out Melanie!) I could not believe I had the chance to maybe get to know Sondra. I loved her debut novel so much that I pre-ordered her second one which I also loved! I know. I’m using a lot of exclamation marks. I can’t help it. Sondra Kraak!!! Okay, I think my cool cover may be completely blown now. Deep breath. Exhale.

Seriously though, Melanie is a wonderful friend and writer in her own right and I am truly blessed to have had the chance to meet her and learn part of her story. I’m looking forward to staying in touch.

The Classes & Keynote Speeches

To be honest, I have never missed so many of the classes at a conference as I did at this one! I am so relieved that I have all the handouts and audio recordings of the lessons to review later. (I missed so much because I was so busy attending appointments to speak with all the wise and wonderful faculty who had attended the conference.)

 

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Linda Gilden gave a very inspiring Keynote Speech

That said, the classes I did get to attend were pure gold. Again, that first class Edie Melson taught comes to mind. She reminded us to view social media as a place where we get to connect with other writers and readers who share our passion for the written word and not just a place to talk about me, my book, and I. She also gave great suggestions on how to make sure we are making the best use of these opportunities, advised us on avoiding common mistakes, and shared great tips for making the best use of our time.

 

I have to tell you, if you have not heard Vonda Skelton speak, you are missing out! Her keynote speech had me almost bent double in my seat and wiping tears of laughter from my eyes. This lady knows how to tell a story. Have you ever met someone who’s a bit petite, but when she speaks her spark and spirit fill the room? That’s Vonda. Of course, not only did I laugh until my face hurt, but I gleaned a lot of wisdom and encouragement from her words.  Her first book was rejected 63 times before it was accepted. Stop and imagine that for a moment. That is hard. She is one tough cookie. Sending your manuscript out time and time again in the face of so much rejection takes a special kind of determination, but she didn’t give up. Today Vonda is a highly successful writer and speaker, well respected and well loved.

The Experience

Becoming a professional writer is a different experience than entering many other careers. There are many paths to choose from and many steps to take before you reach success, and success can look very different for each writer. Being a professional writer involves so much more than waking up one day and writing down a few words, or even completing a story/article/whatever kind of writing someone does. While that is a start, it is only the start.

Part of the path I have chosen involves making connections with others in my industry, submitting my work for others to judge, and approaching literary agents to discover whether they believe in my novel enough to help me find the right publisher for it. Attending this conference provided the opportunity for me to accomplish all of that.

Does this mean I’m done and can check those things off my list? Of course not. The thing about this career is there will always be another book to put out there, another risk to take, another connection to make. It’s terrifying, I won’t lie. But it can also be very life affirming.

As you know if you’ve been following my blog, I was blessed to tie for Second Place in the Badge of Honor Contest at this conference. The encouragement in that award alone is priceless, but even before I learned of this accomplishment, I was being lifted and encouraged by so many other people whom I spoke with during the conference. Whether the words came from faculty or fellow attendees, those words of support and encouragement were like water in the desert for this writer.

So, was it worth it? In a word:  Absolutely!

Do you enjoy conferences? Has anyone come into your life at just the right time to offer encouragement? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

TWEETABLES:

Find out whose keynote speech had @KathleenDenly wiping tears of laughter from her eyes. (Click to Tweet)

Is the Asheville Christian Writers Conference worth attending? – @KathleenDenly (Click to Tweet)

My Novel Ties For 2nd Place!

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2/19/2017

So I am sitting here with my fingers hovering over the keys trying to figure out what to type without sounding totally gushy and completely unsophisticated, but … I can’t help it!

My historical Christian romance novel, Waltz With Me, tied for Second Place in the Badge of Honor Contest at the Asheville Christian Writers Conference!

You guys, I am just so overwhelmed with joyful emotions! I am excited and giddy and happy and humbled and blessed and shocked and . . .

I just want to squeal with joy! Aaaaah! I just won a contest! Okay, so technically I tied for Second Place, but it feels like winning.

How awesome is it that out of all the people who entered they loved my story that much? I am so blessed! (Thank you, judges!)

Of course, I have already tweeted and posted on Facebook about my win, but I knew I wanted to post here as well because as I am thinking about this accomplishment, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the people who have helped me get here. So I want to take this opportunity to thank them. (I know, I know, it’s not like I won an Oscar or something, but I just have to say thank you, so bear with me here.)

First, I have to thank my mom for believing in my talent even before I knew I was a writer.

I also want to thank Lexi Miller, Betty Hofman, Samantha Lurey, and Betsy Hamblin even though I wasn’t working on this manuscript at the time we were meeting, your encouragement kept me going and your critiques made me a better writer.

Of course, I have to thank the members of the San Diego Christian Writers Guild Poway and Santee Critique Groups for sharing their wisdom and encouraging me as I worked through the many revisions of this novel. And I must add a special thanks to Kathryn Hughes, my fellow historical romance author, for your invaluable feedback and encouragement, and to Tiffany Hanson, who doesn’t write in my genre, but whose keen insight and fellowship has helped to lift me up as a writer.

I want to thank my friend, Brett Burner, whose wisdom and encouragement helped me believe in myself at a time when I was truly struggling.

My Beta Readers. How can I thank you enough? Each one of you took time out of your busy lives to read my full-length manuscript and provide priceless feedback on the things you liked and the things that needed changing. It truly means the world to me to have your support.

Lastly, but most importantly, I need to thank my husband, Luke, without whose support, self-sacrifice, and undying belief in me, I would not be able to do what I do. From watching our kids so that I can get away to write, to physically acting out scenes with me so that I can figure out how best to describe them, you are my rock and I love you.

(No, I’m not forgetting God, but I’m pretty sure He doesn’t read my blog, so I’ve already thanked Him in prayer. Many times.)

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Okay. So that sounded way too much like one of those Oscar speeches, and I realize it’s not like I have a book deal (yet) or that I even won first place, but this is still a very big deal for me, and a very great honor. This is the first book contest I’ve ever entered and when you have worked so hard and for so long on something, it is so, so good to have someone who doesn’t even know you say, “Yes. What you have done is good. We like it.” And so many people have stood by me and helped me get this far that I felt compelled to thank them.

This is nowhere near a complete list. If I wrote out the complete list, no one would read the whole thing, and although there’s no one next to me as I type, waiting to play the music that lets me know it’s time to stop talking (or typing), I am hoping this wasn’t too dreadfully long.

So to everyone who has encouraged and supported me, from the bottom of my heart,

THANK YOU!!!

Do you have someone in your life that has supported and encouraged you through the tough times? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

TWEETABLES:

Have someone that encourages and supports you? Thank them today! #grateful #ChristFic

Waltz With Me by @KathleenDenly ties for 2nd Place in Badge of Honor Contest! #christfic