5 Tips for Writing the Perfect Book Synopsis

 

5 Tips for Writing the Perfect Book Synopsis by Kathleen Denly
(How it can feel trying to cram your masterpiece into 2 pages or less.)

In preparation for my attendance of the Asheville Christian Writers Conference 2017, I have been polishing my book synopsis for my Waltz With Me manuscript. In order to create the best possible synopsis I have read many, many articles and it occurred to me this information might be helpful to others as well. So this week I am sharing with you 5 of the most helpful articles I found on writing the perfect book synopsis along with some of my favorites bits of advice from each:

Back to Basics: Writing a Novel Synopsis by Jane Friedman

“A good rule of thumb for determining what stays and what goes: If the ending wouldn’t make sense without the character or plot point being mentioned, then it belongs in the synopsis. If the character or plot point comes up repeatedly throughout the story, and increases the tension or complication each time, then it definitely belongs.”

Your Guide To An Effective Novel Synopsis by 

“There are no hard and fast rules about the synopsis. In fact, there’s conflicting advice about the typical length of a synopsis. Most editors and agents agree, though: The shorter, the better.”

6 Steps for Writing a Book Synopsis by Marissa Meyer

“The first paragraph of the synopsis should give the same basic information you convey through the book’s first chapter: where and when does this story take place, who is the protagonist, and what problem are they facing right off the bat?”

How to Write a Synopsis of Your Novel by Glen C. Strathy

“The biggest mistake most people make when they try to write a synopsis for the first time is to create a bare bones plot summary … It is the emotional twists and turns that make a novel or a hockey game appealing.”

Novel Synopsis: How to Write a Synopsis for your Novel by Graeme Shimmin

“Another trick is to get a friend and sit down with a voice recorder. Then tell them the plot of your novel. Listen to the questions they ask. Transcribe the conversation and pick out the best bits. You might find that your story flows more naturally in a conversation.”

 

Did You Know? – Lt. George Horatio Derby

Did You Know Chalk Board w Rustic Wood Frame & Daisy

If you visit the McCoy House located in Old Town San Diego and wander through its museum exhibits toward the back, you will discover a hidden gem. This is where I first encountered Lt. George Horatio Derby and his humorous writings. Later, I came across his name again in doing the research for my novel, Waltz With Me, in which my main character spends some time in 1854 San Diego.

It turns out Lt. Derby went by many names including:  John Phoenix, Squibob, & Professor John Phoenixiana.  These were pen names which he used for writing humorous articles enjoyed by readers throughout the country. Why so many? Well in one case a competing writer had assumed Derby’s pen name without permission and as a result, Lt. Derby decided to change his pen name altogether. In true Derby form, he did so by writing an obituary for his previous pen name.

In reading about Lt. Derby I discovered that he had something of a naughty sense of humor and was rather well known for his practical jokes. One of his most famous is the time he wrote and illustrated several tongue-in-cheek suggestions regarding the new design of the army’s uniform.

My favorite of his suggestions was this:

 

derby-pantaloons-hook-sketches

Part of the idea was that if a soldier attempted to desert during battle, the captain could merely use a long rope to lasso the soldier by the hook on his pants and drag him back to the front line! In the meantime, it was suggested, the hook could also be used to hang a pair of boots during a march or hang a pot over a fire at mealtimes. The story goes that the Secretary Jefferson did not appreciate Derby’s sense of humor and were it not for other officials pleading Derby’s case, he might have found himself in a heap of trouble!

The story of Lt. George Horatio Derby connects with the history of San Diego in 1853. Apparently the river which is so nicely contained today, once had the nerve to wander all over the land, sometimes emptying into San Diego Bay and other times ending in False Bay (now known as Mission Bay). Occasionally it even threatened the Old Town settlement. Worst of all, however, was the fear that it would drop so much silt into the San Diego Bay the bay would no longer be usable as a major harbor. So the government decided to do something about it and sent for Lt. Derby, whose day job was a soldier and engineer in the U.S. Army, to come oversee the building of a dike which would permanently divert the river into False Bay.

Lt. Derby employed local Native Americans to do the labor and spent his off time writing and playing jokes – including the time a Miss Whaley was dared into climbing into a cask which, once she was in, somehow managed to find itself rolling downhill with her inside. His humorous stories about San Diego during this time were extremely popular throughout the country. Unfortunately, his dike was not as successful, washing out in a storm just two years later. There would be several more attempts made by the government before the river was truly contained in the 1950’s.

The dike was not Derby’s only job here in San Diego. In fact, there was a time when the editor of the San Diego Herald, Judge J.J. Ames, had to go to San Francisco for a while on business and left Lt. Derby in charge. It will probably come as no surprise that all did not continue as usual in the Judge’s absence. Derby took the opportunity to essentially revamp the conservative paper into one full of wit, satire, and political articles opposed to the paper’s usual stance. Several of the local citizens took issue with Derby’s handling of political topics, though Judge Ames, upon his return, commented only, “Phoenix has played the ‘devil’ during our absence, but he has done it in such a good humored manner, that we have not a word to say.” Derby’s role as interim paper editor was rather short lived, though it did garner him national infamy (including catching the attention of Illinois politician, Abraham Lincoln).

Derby eventually moved away from San Diego in 1855. Fortunately for my story, however, he was still in San Diego at the beginning of 1854 and if you get the chance to read my novel, you’ll see he makes a significant cameo appearance or two.

So now you know a little something about Lt. George Horatio Derby and his connection with San Diego.

What do you think of Lt. Derby’s suggestions for the army’s uniform?

Has anyone ever played a practical joke on you? Or have you played a joke on someone else?

I’d love to read about your stories in the comments below!

The Odd Ducks Go On Vacation

Title Image for The Odd Ducks Go On Vacation on Kathleen Denly.com . Shows various rubber duckies dressed in different outfits and floating in a line down an old drainage channel between cobblestone walkways.

As I have mentioned before, I am a bit of an odd duck. Fortunately, my husband is also an odd duck and we are raising a small group of odd little ducklings. (It’s a secret plan for us odd ducks to take over the world. Shh!)

Being a family of odd ducks makes many aspects of our lives easier. For example, all but one of us completely agrees that mornings are best spent sleeping and the odd duck out is courteous enough to play quietly on those occasions when the rest of us have the opportunity to live out our ideal. This works out rather nicely.

Another way we odd ducks get along well is in our choice of vacations. You would think, being a history buff such as I am, that I would either need to drag my family around to historical sites and museums, or else finagle myself some time to visit them alone. This is not so. You see, my husband is almost as avid an history fan as I and we have happily bestowed this love for all things old and storied upon our children. Thus, when my husband and I excitedly announced that our upcoming vacation would include an extensive visit to Columbia State Historic Park, the 1897 Railtown State Park, and several other museums and historical sites, we were not met with groans and long faces. Nope. My odd little ducklings squealed with joy and bounced up and down in excitement. *contented sigh* Clearly we are doing something right.

Having said that, vacation or no, the historical researcher in me is never turned off, so of course, I have brought back gobs of photos and fun little factoids to share with my fellow history fanatics.

MERCER CAVERNS

Collage of photographs of the inside of Mercer Caverns. The lower right photograph shows a display of the type of torch and red lantern once used to light the caverns. Photos by Kathleen Denly
Mercer Caverns, Murphy, CA

Did you know Mercer Caverns was discovered on September 1, 1885 by a man searching for gold? The first tourists were lowered in by ropes and had only candlelight with which to view these enormous caverns. Worse yet, these candles were carried on boards held in the teeth of the tourists as they lowered themselves into the cave. Hmm. Ropes and flames. What could possibly go wrong there? Later, torches and different types of lanterns (lower right) were used before electricity was finally threaded throughout the cave in 1901.

Another interesting bit of the Mercer Cavern story lies in how they came up with the money to install stairs for tourists. Apparently Mercer Caverns is home to an extremely rare type of aragonite, so they cut off a chunk of this stuff and sent it off to the 1900 Paris World’s Fair where it was a special prize which came with a nice chunk of money. Sadly, Mr. Mercer passed on before the stairs could be installed, but his widow took over in his stead.

My family’s tour of the Mercer Caverns was exceedingly interesting and I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in the area. Oh, and if you do stop by, be sure to eat at one of the local restaurants in town. We ate at two and both were exceptionally delicious meals served up by friendly staff.

THE MURPHYS POKEY

Photograph of The Murphys Pokey by Kathleen Denly. Show the cement exterior with metal doors, a historical plaque, and a sign bearing its name. Also show interior with homemade mannequin sitting on a bare wire cot.

I came across this old time jail in Murphy, CA just off the main road on the way to the park where we found a large, modern play structure and public restrooms prior to our Tour of Mercer Caverns. I liked the humor of the story and the handmade feel of the display so I wanted to share it here.

The plaque reads:

“The Murphys Pokey was built around 1915 by Tom Burrow, Frank Kaler, Price Williams, Frank Degale and Frank Forrester and is constructed of hand-mixed concrete. The previous jail was made of wood and was located closer to the creek. It is doubted that any really bad man was ever housed in this jail, but it is said that one of the men who built it became drunk and rowdy while celebrating its completion and was the first inmate.”

1860 Schoolhouse – Columbia, California

Photo collage of the historic schoolhouse in Columbia, Ca and its accompanying outhouse. Photos taken by Kathleen Denly
First two-story brick schoolhouse built in California.

Above you see the schoolhouse located in Columbia, Ca along with one of its two oversized outhouses. Originally built in 1860 of locally made sun-dried bricks this building has undergone a number of renovations to reach the appearance it has today.

While visiting Columbia’s main historic area you will notice signs directing you toward the schoolhouse. Do not be fooled. This building is located at the top of a hill about 3 country blocks away from those signs. Though this undertaking by foot may seem easy at the start of your vacation, attempting this walk with three young children after a many days of touring and several nights of interrupted sleep (courtesy of those same 3 darlings) will have you panting for breath long before you reach your destination. On the bright side, a bench has been strategically placed about halfway to your destination beneath some trees in the middle of an empty lot. Nevertheless, might I recommend taking advantage of the parking lot we didn’t know was near the school until we got there?

Despite the unexpectedly challenging walk, the schoolhouse was a fascinating site to explore. Apparently the elementary students used the bottom floor while older students used the upper floor. Being the writer I am, it was fun to stand inside the classrooms and imagine the classes held there in yesteryear. What shenanigans the children might have gotten up to and where the teachers may have come from wandered through my mind. Can you imagine climbing those steep wooden stairs on a snowy winter’s day? Or rushing out to the odoriferous outhouse in the heat of a sweltering summer? Would you have preferred to roast in the seat closest to the wood burning stoves or shiver in the seat farthest from it? The school was in continual use until it closed in 1937 due to not meeting earthquake safety standards.

Columbia State Historic Park – California

Photo collage of Main Street, Columbia, Ca by Kathleen Denly
Main Street, Columbia, CA

Above you see the photographs I took while waiting for the history tour to begin. I’m sitting on the boardwalk outside the visitor’s center, it’s early, and I’ve been up for hours exploring the town on my own while the kids and my husband sleep in, so believe me when I say that’s a smile. I truly am excited, just too tired to show it properly.

Columbia, California is where we spent the bulk of our vacation. This historic state park is packed full of fun things to do and interesting things to see and learn. I could have spent a month digging through all the layers of history the town represents.

Those green metal doors you see? They have nothing to do with thieves as one might think, and everything to do with fire. They were added after two fires devastated this gold rush town. Combined with newly doubled brick walls, it was hoped those doors would keep the fires out.

Speaking of fire, the story goes that one man, despairing of any other solution, took it upon himself to soak the wooden roof of his otherwise brick building with the vast amounts of vinegar he had on hand in order to prevent the building and its contents from being destroyed. It worked. Though his roof suffered some damage, he managed to save the rest. Today you can see the burnt beam left behind by this fire when you enter the visitor’s center, walk to the back room and look up. More interestingly it is said that on a hot summer’s day if you stand next the building’s brick walls and smell it you will get a whiff of vinegar. I admit I was skeptical, but I tried it. I did not smell vinegar. Still, if you ever get a chance to visit and give it a try I’d love to hear about your results.

14469510_10205166519802834_4932880767325965822_n
Photos from Columbia, Ca.  Beginning upper left and moving clockwise:  Representation of a typical miner’s cabin set between boulders revealed by the use of hydraulic mining; Representation of a general store of the time; Representation of the living quarters behind the general store; the interior of one of the jail cells in the small jail building located just off main street; the backside of the Wells Fargo office showing a mystery room with barred windows and reinforced metal door – its use is unknown but is guessed to have perhaps been a storage room.

 

So now I’ve told you all about my family’s vacation. What about you?

What’s your favorite vacation memory?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

My First Long Distance Writers Conference

My First Long Distance Writers Conference by KathleenDenly.com

I am SO excited (and maybe a little terrified) to announce that next month I will be attending my very first long distance writers conference!!!

Thus far I have been restricted to attending those conferences close enough for me to be able to drive to and from the event each morning and night.  This time I’ll be flying!!! Okay, so maybe not every morning and night, but I get to FLY!!! For someone who once dreamed of becoming a flight attendant and now only gets to fly maybe once every 3-5 years, this is a HUGE deal!!!!

This will also be the first time I’ve stayed in a hotel room by myself since… wait a minute. I don’t think I have EVER stayed in a hotel room alone….Ummm. Yeah. Nope. Not ever…

…hmmm, what? Oh sorry. Got lost for a moment there imagining all the uninterrupted time to think and write and think and write and read and …. well you get the idea. Did I mention uninterrupted quiet?  *happy sigh*

Anyway. Aside from all that awesomeness, I also get to hang out with fellow writers for a full two and a half days while learning from those who have gone before. I’ll get a better understanding of what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong in this social media game, how to analyze my antagonist, and what common errors to look for in my manuscript, among other things.

So where and when will I be gaining all this newfound wisdom?

At the 2017 Asheville Christian Writers Conference in Asheville, North Carolina, on February 17, 18 & 19!!! Woohoo!!!

If you happen to be in attendance this year, please take the time to say hello and let me know you visited my blog. You will make. my. day! 

If you are unable to attend, have no fear. I may not be able to share everything I learn while I’m there, but once I’m back I will do my best to share with you several of the best gems I collected. So be sure to sign up to FOLLOW ME so you won’t miss out!

In the meantime, I’d love to hear any tips you have for my upcoming travels. I have only flown once since 9/11/01 and it was just a short little ride upstate. I’ve never even been to North Carolina before.

Do you have any tips for navigating the airport? Any strategies for making the most of my luggage space? Any travel tips at all, throw them at me! I’m all ears eyes !!

 

Top Ten MUST READ Historical Romance Novels for 2017

Top 10 Historical Romance Novels KathleenDenly.com

At the beginning of this month, I shared with you the Top Ten Best Historical Romance Novels I read during the year 2016. Today, I share with you my Top Ten MUST READ Historical Romance Novels for 2017.

1. Currency of the Heart by Loree LoughCurrency of the Heart by Loree Lough

Well, really it’s Healing of the Heart that I feel I MUST READ, but once I realized it was book #3 in the Secrets of Sterling Stree series, I knew I needed to start with book one. I’m kind of persnickety that way. So really, this entry represents three books, but if I listed out each book in the series I’d only have 7 spaces left and, well, how could I possibly fit my list into that?

Also, with Reading Is My SuperPower giving this kind of review for book #2, Guardians of the Heart, how can I resist reading them all?

“A sweet heartfelt romance that reminds us of the importance of forgiveness – of other people and especially of ourselves. With true, likable characters and a plot brimming with all the great elements of a story, Guardians of the Heart will gently refresh your soul.”

2. Stealing Jake by Pam HillmanStealing Jake by Pam Hillman

Speaking of Reading Is My SuperPower:  Carrie listed Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman as one of the Best Historical Books of 2015. I have yet to read anything by Pam Hillman and I am always looking for new authors to add to my shelf. Add to that a setting of late 1800s Illinois and this comment by Carrie:

“If you like books by Melissa Jagears or Mary Connealy, then you need to read Stealing Jake.  Trust me, it will steal your heart.”

I mean, hello. Have you seen my Top Ten Historical Romance Novels of 2016 list? This clearly needed to be on my MUST READ list.

3. The Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen HakeThe Bride Bargain by Kelly Eileen Hake

This is Kelly Eileen Hake’s debut novel which always intrigues me. Plus I just love the premise of this book and want to see where the author takes it. Not to mention this rave review by Laura Hilton in Christian Bookworm Reviews:

“A huge family feud that includes many of the townspeople, an ornery ox, a sweet young lady, and multiple storylines combine to make this a book that I couldn’t put down. The historical details are accurate, down to names of hoax “medicines” available at the time, harvest activities, and social gatherings. The story was hilariously funny and serious by turns, and is a hit by Kelly Eileen Hake. I’m recommending this book to everyone who loves historical fiction.”

4. Bittersweet by Cathy Marie HakeBittersweet by Cathy Marie Hake

I thoroughly enjoyed Letter Perfect, the first in Cathy Marie Hake’s California Historical Series and am eager to find time to move the second book from my “To Read” shelf to my “Read” shelf.

5. Stuck Together by Mary ConnealyStuck Together by Mary Connealy

Another entry which is really representative of a series I want to read. Having already read and enjoyed the first book in Connealy’s Trouble in Texas series, I happily look forward to reading the last two books in the coming months.

6. The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection: 9 Historical Romances Begin After Saying “I Do”The Lassoed by Marriage Romance Collection

I love a well-written collection of historical romance novellas. They fit just perfectly on those days when I *know* better than to start something that’s going to keep me up long enough to see the dawn. You know the books I’m talking about. The wonderful thing about novellas is no matter how compelling the read, their inherent brevity ensures that I get at least a little sleep the night before an important event.

7. The Thorn Healer by Pepper D. BashamThe Thorn Healer by Pepper D Basham

The first two books in this trilogy made my list of Top Ten Historical Romance from 2016. (Just realized I actually read them in the fall of 2015 for the first time, but I loved them so much I read them again in 2016 so they still count!) I have been eagerly awaiting the release of The Thorn Healer from the moment I closed The Thorn Keeper. You can be sure I’ll be posting a review of this one once I’ve read it.

8. The Captive Heart by Michelle GriepThe Captive Heart by Michelle Griep

This is another author new to me, but the premise intrigues me and the reviews I’ve read have convinced me I need to give this book a try. I especially appreciated the review by Leah at GoodBooksForTheJourney.com in which she included this intriguing detail:

” It also included a story line that illustrated how the division between England and the settlers affected the American Indian tribes.”

That’s an angle I haven’t read before.

9. Love’s Story by Dianne Christner and Strong as the Redwood by Kristin BillerbeckLove's Story by Dianne Christner with Bonus Story of Strong as the Redwood by Kristin Billerbeck

This is a two for one deal! Both books come together and both are set in the historical northern California redwoods! Hopefully, you’ve noticed by now that I’m a sucker for California history.

10. At Love’s Bidding by Regina JenningsAt Love's Bidding by Regina Jennings

Okay, you’ve caught me. This is yet another entry representing an entire series. The first book, A Most Inconvenient Marriage, made my list of Top Ten Historical Romance from 2016. So it only makes sense that I plan to read the rest of the series.

A Tale of Two Kitties – Part 2

Ana watches Athena from a distance while Kathleen Denly pets Athena. Photo by Kathleen Denly

If you haven’t read Part 1, you may want to read that first as this will make more sense if you have, but for those in a hurry I’ll put what you need to know into a boring nutshell:  We brought home one cat (Ana), then 2 years later brought home a second cat (Athena). (Trust me, the previous post is much more interesting.)

As I mentioned in my previous post, our boys were over the moon with excitement about the newest addition to our family. Ana… not so much.

Bringing Athena Home

When we first brought Athena home we took her immediately to a bathroom where I had set up a litter box, food bowl, water bowl, and small cat tree just for her. We shut the door and I sat in there with her while the boys took turns coming in to visit her. This would be her sanctuary room for the next 24 hours.

When it was time, I went and found Ana who was sleeping on the other side of the house and hadn’t yet noticed the new arrival. I picked her up and carried her over to the closed bathroom door where she could see Athena peeking through the crack at the bottom.

It took Ana a moment to notice her, but I knew exactly when she did. Her ears perked up and she immediately tensed.

I set her down next to the door and waited to see how she would react. By this time Athena was mewing up a storm at having been left alone in the bathroom and was reaching intermittently under the door with her paw trying to gain attention. When I set Ana down Athena stopped pawing and mewing.

For a tense few seconds, the two cats smelled each other under the door. When Athena mewed again Ana flinched but kept smelling under the door. Then the lonely, playful Athena made a strategic mistake:  She reached a paw toward Ana.  Ana immediately hissed and tried to run away. I scooped Ana up and tried to soothe her but she was having none of it and kept hissing so I let her go.

Athena seemed completely unphased by the event, although she was still unhappy with being alone in the bathroom.

Of course, I went in and pet her for a while, but I couldn’t spend the entire day sitting on a linoleum floor petting the world’s softest fur ball – no matter how cute her purring and nuzzling.

Ana Is Less Than Thrilled

Over the next several hours Ana made it abundantly clear that she was NOT happy about this new addition to our home. In fact, she was quite angry with me in particular and would hiss anytime I went near her.

Clearly she blamed me for Athena’s existence.

Ana kept well away from Athena’s bathroom. She wouldn’t even go into the hallway near it. Most of the time she literally stayed as far away as the limits of the house would allow her.

Eventually, Athena had settled in and it was time to let her explore the house. So we let her out but kept an eye on her to see how she interacted with her new environment and to watch for her first encounter with Ana.

About two hours after we let Athena out, she was playing in the living room when Ana wandered in… and froze. Then hissed and immediately ran away. Athena, again, seemed unphased and simply resumed playing. This was typical of their interactions for several hours. So we decided to help things along a bit and brought out two new cat toys. One I used to play with Athena. The other my husband tried to get Ana to play with after he brought her out from hiding.

Ana did not want to play. She wanted to run away.

This time, however, my husband held her firmly, but gently in his lap and stroked her and spoke to her in soothing tones while I continued playing with Athena about ten feet away. Occasionally, Athena would try to approach Ana to play, but I made sure to keep her from getting too close. Eventually, Ana relaxed a little in his lap and sat watching Athena play, still alert for danger. Thus began a new phase of their interaction.

At night we kept Athena safely tucked away in her sanctuary. During the day, my husband and I would take turns interacting with each cat once Ana decided to forgive me for Athena’s presence.

It was a remarkable success the first time we convinced Ana to play with the other new toy in the same room where Athena was playing with her new toy. Gradually we lured them into playing incrementally closer together until they were playing side by side. Still, Ana was tense and alert for signs that she needed to run away and would often stop playing to watch Athena suspiciously.

Ana watches from a few inches away as Athena plays with a toy. Photo by Kathleen Denly
Ana watches from a few inches away as Athena plays with a toy.

Ana Is Scared

One time, Athena pounced immediately in front of Ana before I could catch her, scaring Ana. Ana hissed, swatted at her, and growled. We noticed, though, that Ana did not use her claws but kept them retracted. Ana was not aggressive. She was defensive. She was making sure Athena knew she did not want her that close.

Eventually, Ana graduated to climbing to the top of her cat tree in the living room and staring down at Athena as she played. Athena wanted to climb up, too, but we kept her down. We brought in a second cat tree and Ana wanted that one to be hers, too, but we made her share that one with Athena by ensuring they took turns using it.

The Pivotal Moment

As time went on, Ana would allow Athena to come closer and closer to her. On the morning of the third day, I caught the two of them nose to nose smelling each other for a few seconds before Ana hissed and ran away again. It was a pivotal moment.

By the next day, you could see that Ana had accepted Athena’s presence and would no longer freak out any time Athena approached her. By day eight they were chasing each other playfully around the house.

On day ten, I walked in to find this:

What I Learned From My Cats

When Athena first came home Ana was completely terrified of her. Now they are best friends. I think this is a beautiful example of the way God sometimes works in our lives. Ana wanted nothing to do with Athena and would have gotten rid of her if she had the means to do so. Yet now they spend much of their days playing, sleeping, and hunting bugs together. I think this shows that although we may be terrified or unhappy about (to say the least) certain events in our lives, we may after time and with a little trust, discover that God has worked it out for our good.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

~Romans 8:28

This message seems especially appropriate at this time of year as we pause to consider the gift of Christ’s birth. One of the most beautiful and touching songs of this season considers His birth, life, eventual death and resurrection from the perspective of Mary, His mother. I encourage you to take a moment and put yourself in her shoes, with all the struggles she faced as the mother of Christ.

Being the mother of three boys myself, it is both awe-inspiring and heartbreaking to consider what she went through from seeing her son perform miracles to watching his death on the cross. Yet, God had a plan more intricate, precious, and full of blessings than any of us could have imagined.

Ana & Athena lie beside each other on the bed, looking up at the camera. Text reads,
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to get two cats to look at the camera at the same time?

 

What do you think?

Have you ever experienced something that at the time seemed truly terrible, but in the end, God used it for your good or the good of others?

Please share your story in the comments below. I’d love to read about it!

Grand Finale & GIVEAWAY! – A Family Under The Christmas Tree

Well, the book tour for author Terri Reed’s latest book, A Family Under the Christmas Tree, comes to an end today with this Grand Finale. I hope you’ve had a chance to visit each stop along the way, but if you haven’t, below you’ll find snippets from each stop. There are also links for those of you who’d like to read more (I highly recommend it. There are some really interesting things to learn!). And of course, don’t forget to ENTER TO WIN the GIVEAWAY!!!


On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Book Tour Launch for
A Family Under the Christmas Tree
By Terri Reed

David and Sophie don’t even know the gift they need to find the most under the Christmas tree this year, but an unexpected meeting between a little boy and Sophie’s dog might lead to just that. We hope you enjoyed coming along with us as we get to know more about their story on this tour! If you missed any of the stops, go back and check them out now…

Launch – Author Interview

2. What do you hope readers take with them after they’ve read it?

I hope readers will see the beauty of letting go of expectations and embracing new circumstances. That sometimes life doesn’t go the way we want and that’s okay because the unexpected sometimes is more than we could have hoped for.

Reading Is My SuperPower – Review

“A Family Under the Christmas Tree by Terri Reed is sweet and romantic and heartwarming. Troy and Riggs, as well as Sophie’s grandma, add moments of humor and make the story all the more endearing. This is an ideal read for fans of Hallmark Christmas movies or for anyone looking for a quick and uplifting escape from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.”

Katie’s Clean Book Collection – Review

“I adored Grandma and her puppy, Riggs. When you add that handful, Troy, to the mix, the story is definitely entertaining and fun. They are each catalysts, in their own ways, to bringing this couple together. I do love a story where the characters undergo some change, especially in their outlooks on life. There are some good elements to this story and it is a sweet Christmas read.”

Falling Leaves – All-Time Favorite Christmas Movie

My all-time favorite Christmas movie is A Charlie Brown Christmas, released in December of 1965. This is the longest-running cartoon special in history, airing every year but this classic almost didn’t make it on the air. The studios hated it, No television networks wanted to play it. They didn’t like the religious theme running through the story or the contemporary jazz score. It was criticized for not having a laugh track, and for using voices of real children (except for Snoopy, who was voiced by the show’s animator Bill Melendez). The creator of the show, Charles Schulz, wanted the central meaning of the show to reflect his own beliefs of Christmas. With his clout, Schulz managed to get his little animated cartoon to air…

Zerina Blossom’s Books – Author Interview

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or is it purely all imagination?

I like to add a bit of real life to my stories. There are several scenes in A Family Under the Christmas Tree that come from personal knowledge. The setting of Bellevue Washington is where I have family so I was able to describe it from having visited the city. In the story, the characters visit a Christmas tree farm, which I patterned after a local tree farm here that we’d visit often when my children were young. It was fun to remember back to those days with my kids.

Bookworm Lisa – Review

“I enjoyed the sweet message of the book. The characters were well written and easy to like. The book is a clean romance with kissing. This is a great Christmas time read to cuddle up with.”

Mommabears Book Blog – Favorite Christmas Moments

My favorite Christmas moments are unpacking the decorations and hanging them on the Christmas tree. When my husband and I were first married, we had no decorations of our own. At the time I worked for a mall department store in Sacramento California, so with my employee discount I bought a few ornaments—a set of diamond shaped mirrors, a box of round colorful bulbs and a pretty tree topper that sparkled. Not very many decorations for the four-foot tree that fit nicely in our snug little apartment….

Rockin’ Book Reviews – Reviews

“What a heartwarming story. . . . I would recommend this story to all readers, especially ones who love Christmas time as I do and enjoy a good love story.” – Vickie

“WOW! I literally could not put it down until I finished it! It is such a “cleanly” delightful read! I am certainly glad it isn’t any lengthier than it is, or I would not have enjoyed the company of my spouse in the evening!” – Lu Ann

Jessica and Gracie’s Tree – Review

“Set against a winter backdrop during Christmas, this is the perfect fluffy novel for a cold night. . . . This writing is great, the characters are developed, and the romance is believable. I highly recommend this novel. Add it to your Christmas list!”

Mel’s Shelves – The Characters



The characters of A Family Under the Christmas Tree are very dear to me. I really liked David, Sophie and Troy. As well as Grandma Louise and Simon. I enjoyed developing them because they surprised me the more as I dug into them. I had this germ of an idea—I wanted to do something along the lines of Scrooge meets Mary Poppins. As part of developing the story I find photos of actors that resemble how I see my characters. Having the visual helps me in my descriptions as well as makes them more three dimensional in my own mind.

Kathleen Denly – Author Interview

I noticed in the bio on your website that you spent ten years working as a model in your life-before-writing. How did that experience help with developing the character of Sophie Griffith?

Having worked in front of the camera for many years afforded me an appreciation for photography. I was able to glean the art it takes, the time and patience as well as the technical know-how for a well-done photo shoot. I enjoyed putting my knowledge to work for Sophie.

Getting Your Read On – Review

“This book is all sweetness and Christmas goodness. If you are looking for a cute holiday romance then you should check this book out. . . . It was a little slow moving, but the characters were likable and brought a smile to my face. Christmas stories during December are always fun to read!”

Paulette’s Papers – Cranberry Sauce

Who says Cranberry sauce is only for Thanksgiving? Our family enjoys cranberry sauce for all special occasion meals, including Christmas dinner. In fact, for us Christmas dinner is the same menu as Thanksgiving. We’ve long done the canned jellied or whole cranberries and been perfectly happy. But this year my nephew decided we’d try a homemade version. And my, is it delicious.

Kindle and Me – Review

“I might have shed a few tears at the tender moments in the book. So, if you like a little cry, opening up your heart, books with loss, puppies, Christmas, snowflakes, serving others, finding love and having a family that loves you then this might be for you!”

Christy’s Cozy Corners – Review

“This book was very cute and a quick, fun read. It’s everything a sweet Christmas romance should be. It has a meddling, matchmaking grandma, a mischievous little boy, a puppy, snow…what more could you want? . . . All of you sweet, clean romance lovers are going to want to add A Family Under the Christmas Tree to your TBR piles!”

Tell Tale Book Reviews – Christmas Cookies

For me the Christmas season isn’t complete without Christmas cookies. . . . In my story, A Family Under the Christmas Tree, my heroine Sophie and her grandmother help young Troy bake and decorate cookies. A tradition I’ve done with my mother when I was young and one I have continued with my own kids.

Don’t forget to enter the fabulous giveaway below…

A Family Under the Christmas TreeA Family Under the Christmas Tree
by Terri Reed
Inspirational Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 340 pages
October 4th 2016 by Howard Books

In this heartwarming tale set during the Christmas season, a single father and a fashion photographer are brought together by a young boy and a mischievous Bernese mountain dog—but first they must learn to set aside their differences if they are willing to let their relationship bloom.

David Murphy never knew much about kids. But when his brother dies unexpectedly, David is granted custody of his six-year-old nephew, Troy, who he’s only seen once a year since he was born. He already has his hands full running his business, and he has no idea how to help the grieving boy. When Troy runs off one day, David finds him at a park playing with an adorable and rambunctious Bernese mountain dog—who leads him to Sophie.

Sophie Griffith has spent her life travelling around the world as a photojournalist. She has never stayed in one place for long, and her new assignment—helping her grandmother for a few weeks—is just temporary. Once Christmas day comes, Sophie is off the hook and can leave for a new adventure. Caring for her grandmother is a piece of cake—but caring for her new Bernese mountain dog, Riggs, is a different story. It doesn’t help that Riggs strikes up a friendship with a lost little boy one day at the park—and leads her to David.

Neither David nor Sophie have time for romance. But as they spend more time together, they start falling for each other even though they know it can’t go anywhere. Sophie will be gone after Christmas, and the last thing David needs is another distraction as he tries to comfort Troy. But as their faith and growing love for the boy and dog unites them, they wonder whether it’s more than a holiday romance…and maybe Troy might finally get his Christmas wish for a family.

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Terri Reed’s romance and romantic suspense novels have appeared on Publishers Weekly top 25 Romance and Publishers Weekly top ten Religion Fiction, Nielsen’s Bookscan top 100 and featured in USA Today, Christian Fiction Magazine, More To Life Magazine and Romantic Times Magazine, finaled in RWA’s RITA contest, National Reader’s Choice Award contest, ACFW’s The Carol Award contest. She is an active member of both Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her college-sweetheart husband. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, gardening and playing with her dogs.

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Tour Giveaway

1 winner will receive a copy of Love Inspired Classic 2 in 1, Love Comes Home and A Sheltering Love, a light up angle ornament, a Santa bookmark, A Family Under the Christmas Tree bookmark, a manicure set, and a Tule Book Girl book bag (US only)
1 winner will receive a $10 Amazon eGift Card (open internationally)
– Ends December 22nd

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