Book Review: High Caliber Holiday by Susan Sleeman

HCH 2015The third installment of Susan’s First Responders series opens and closes with edge-of-your-seat action. Ex-lawyer Morgan Thornsby is taken hostage on a train and the First Response Squad is called out. Negotiations don’t go as planned, and team sniper Brady Owens must take a shot; but he freezes for a split second. When his shot hits Morgan, Brady feels responsible and silently vows to care for her. What they find in her apartment after he takes her home opens up the start of a tense stalker case that finishes in Susan’s trademark twist of plot. Just when you think you’re sure who it is, she dazzles with an unforeseen but believable alternate suspect that makes you slap your head and utter, “I forgot about them!”
The characters in High Caliber Holiday are familiar old friends you’re happy to be revisiting. You want to join them in the dining room of the old firehouse for a home cooked meal by Darcie or attending Skylar’s huge Christmas shindig. They are engaging and you don’t want the story to end.
Susan’s brand of clean romantic suspense is highly recommended for all!


Writing Lessons From The Front, Angela Hunt

Last week I finally had some time to myself while my boys were at swim lessons. I brought the Kindle with me and low and behold…I READ! Yes, don’t fall over, but I read…three books, actually.

Let me backtrack a moment, if you will. I do enjoy my Kindle. I do REALLY enjoy getting freebie and bargain books. It’s like a drug. Gotta grab that book, it’s ONLY $0.99!!! Even better, it’s FREEEEEE. It’s a great tool to use for marketing.

The drawback is that I have approximately 20 bazillion books that I need to read! FIVE of those are by Angela Hunt on the subject of writing. The pool we’ve been frequenting doesn’t have wifi; thankfully I had the first three books of the ongoing series downloaded already and not up in the Kindle Cloud. I decided that I need these in real live book form because I need to underline, write notes in the margins, etc.

Book one is The Plot Skeleton. It’s a wonderful illustration on outlining a novel. Something I have yet to accomplish. As I was reading through the brief chapter, cleverly titled “The One and Only Chapter,” I could see my latest WIP through the Skeleton. Seeing “the bones” of my story in this way was a good exercise. Starting with the head and working down, you fill in your main plot, seeing where it needs another rib or maybe a better segue. Angela explains all the connections, and how your plot works together to bring that story to life. I think I will pop open One Note and draw me up a skelly-bones.

Book two is Creating Extraordinary Characters. I confess to thinking that all my characters are extraordinary. At least, that’s what they tell me. In this volume Angela sets forth the steps to making your characters real. Instilling Admirable Qualities, Personality Type as a Tool, using notecards, Revealing Characters in different scenarios, the difference between a villain and an anti-hero and more. I enjoyed this one as it made creating a character sketch (another writing practice I’ve avoided) less daunting. I found it especially interesting to use the Meyers-Briggs personality tests to get to know your characters better.

The third is Point of View. With just one simple sentence (When Mary woke up, it was raining.) Angela takes us through the different storytelling points of view and shows how each one has it’s own merits and drawbacks. The section on head hopping )switching from one character’s POV to another in rapid succession) made me chuckle. I tend to “head hop” at times, largely, I think, due to my preferred reading tastes. It’s something I have worked on, and this book helped me see how and where to continue to hone that particular discipline.

angela huntMany of Angela’s books are on Kindle, and she does run specials and freebies. The best way to keep up is by her newsletter and blog. She has practically a whole shelf in our library. I loved her novel Doesn’t She Look Natural? (The Fairlwan Series) and her book about the Roanoake colony was interesting. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with any of her offerings. If you write, or would like to write, her series is a must. *DISCLAIMER: The links to Angela’s site are not up right now (6/3/2014) I will update ASAP. Thanks, Donna!*




Pauline Adventures or Studies From Acts

We’re coming to the close of my Community Bible Study class, and we’ve been in the book of Acts the past 29 weeks. It’s been an amazing adventure that starts out with the Holy Spirit and ends with Paul obeying the Holy Spirit while imprisoned in Rome.

The past week we had an occasion to “write a paragraph” describing Paul’s shipwreck in chapter 27. Well, writers usually are a bit more wordy, and I thought perhaps you’d enjoy what I shared with my class. I wrote in the guise of a Roman male prisoner aboard the ship carrying Paul.

CBS, Study of Acts
Lesson 29, Acts Chap 27

We were going to die.

I knew the others felt the same. How could we not? Chained together, being tossed back and forth in the bottom of a smelly boat, with no hope.

The Jew over there kept talking about his God, and how an angel was sent to him to assure him that no one would die. Bah! Angels and gods, we have them too, and they are powerless. Silly pieces of stone and wood…they afford no comfort when you are face to face with death.

I had to find out more about this Paul. A prisoner, but not as the others, for he was chained to his own private guard. I asked whet he had done…killed? Cheated? Raped? The answer came back that he was a religious prisoner, on trial because he followed a dead Nazarene, proclaiming him risen from the dead! There were not many among us who knew of this man. It sparked my curiosity.

At the height of the storm, Paul told us of a time when this Nazarene was also caught in a storm; He and his followers were out on the Galillee sea. Paul said he rebuked the storm, which was as bad as this and it calmed. How can this be?

Again, the dead Nazarene’s followers were on their boat—fisherman, they were—when caught up in a sudden storm. One, a big man Paul called Cephas, looked out from the boat and saw this man, Jesus, walking to them!

From that night, I listened to Paul, despite my doubts. When I was alone, as alone as I could be being chained together, I could think of nothing else but this man Jesus and the tales Paul told of Him. Was He really the Son of the God Paul worshipped? Was He the one who sent the angel to Paul?

The final night of our journey,  Paul assured us we would survive., and that we should eat something. I was certain Paul was crazy, but I bowed my head when he prayed to his God, thanking Him for providing. There were almost 300 of us, and we all were able to eat. After, we were loosened to help lighten the ship’s load by tossing the remaining wheat into the sea.

In the morning, the vessel ran aground. I cursed Paul’s false claims; I heard the soldiers’ plans to kill us all as to save themselves. I would not go without a fight!

A centurion, sent along to guard Paul, thwarted their plot, in order that Paul would be delivered to his trail in front of Ceasar himself. This man, this small, balding, old man, was of such import that a Roman centurion risked his own life to save him. My view of Paul began to change, as did that of His God.

We were ordered to jump ship and swim to shore. I looked to Paul and he nodded, with a grin, and said, “Not one here will perish. I will see you on shore.” His confidence bolstered my own, and I dove into the cold waters with a renewed sense of survival…a hope that had faded long ago.

We all were saved. All of us. Paul went on to Rome. I heard Nero called for his head. I am sure that Paul went merrily to his demise, so strong was his faith in his Jesus. And I now understand, as I share that same faith and await my trial for my crimes. It may not be as strong as Paul’s, for I have not had the time or the teaching as he. But it is there, and I am certain that nothing ever again will come between me and the love that the God of the universe has for such as myself. A ragged, worn sinner. Thanks be to God for Paul’s witness of faith.



Sunnie’s Rainbow is NOOK-ified!

Yay!!! More exciting than the Royal Birth, Sunnie’s Rainbow is now available on NOOK!

Okay, maybe not AS exciting. Maybe MORE exciting. Certainly more relevant to my life. 😉 Not that I’m not happy for Kate and Wills, mind. It’s easily as exciting as the release of Seasons of a Life on NOOK.

More excitement here at The Big Blue House: Restoration is 7 chapters away from completion! The cover is done, all I’m waiting on is to click those “upload” buttons!!! I really need to stay away from that until it’s all ready. I get all excited and click when I shouldn’t.

*as an aside, exactly how many times can I use the word “excited” in one post?*

Be keeping an eye on the blog, as I have a terrific (and exciting 😉 ) giveaway planned for August. Oh, now! If I tell you, it won’t be…you know…exciting!

Until next time,

Be Blessed!


Nautical Summer Giveaway from Colleen Coble…


I finished this book in one day…it was a wonderful, suspenseful plot and some nice romance thrown in to enjoy!  From the LitFuse Promo page:

Water can be calming and healing, but it can also be dangerous, as Amy Lange and Curtis Ireland both found out. Both lost their siblings to the sea, and they hope to find healing on Hope Island. But will they find it, or will their quest to find answers set them at odds with each other and with those who have secrets that need to stay hidden?

Find out in Colleen Coble’s latest book, Rosemary Cottage, which released July 9. To celebrate, Colleen is hosting a 12-day Nautical Summer Giveaway. From July 16-27, Colleen will be giving away a new nautical prize every day. She’ll announce the winners on July 29 on her website, so mark your calendars for that date to see if you were picked as a lucky winner!

Not on Facebook? Enter here.

Book Review: The Story Jar by Robin Lee Hatcher and Deborah Bedford

Brag warning: I am friends with RLH on Facebook and Goodreads. So there. 😉 Yes, I can get all fan girl about it, but I won’t (anymore).

Robin posted last week about Authorgraph (hence, the nifty widget to the right, where you can request a personalized signature from me for your Kindle versions of my books. Way cool, right?) I decided that I must have one from Robin, so I made a quickie purchase. The title intrigued me, and I always like to read stories that have co-authors to see the way they mesh styles.

In the forward, Robin tells how this book came to be written. I’m hoping to present the idea of a story jar to my Bible study group. What a wonderful way to remember all that Jesus has done, and continues to work, in our hearts.

I read this book in a total of 5 hours. It would have been 5 straight hours but I did need to sleep a bit in between. The main plot takes place in a small church where Beth Williams is hired to clean the sanctuary. She’s care worn, discouraged. In the course of her duties, a woman comes in to sit. Beth discovers she is the former pastor’s wife. As she’s cleaning, Beth discovers a jar hidden underneath a chair on the platform. Mrs. Halley opens the jar and by that opens Beth’s heart to the wonderful ways Jesus touches the hearts of others when it seems that there is no hope.

This is the beauty of this book; it’s three stories! As Mrs. Halley takes treasures from the jar, she tells Beth about two special people. The first, written by Deborah Bedford, involves a pastor’s family dealing with the wife’s battle with breast cancer. The second, by RLH, touches on the fears of every mother: a wayward child and the hard road of reconciliation.

In the end, Beth is able to release her own fears, and her two sons, into God’s loving hands. It’s a wonderful celebration of mothers, their love for their families and the way the family loves them. As a special bonus, several other well known Christian authors pay tribute to their mothers, including Francine Rivers, Jerry B. Jenkins, Karen Ball and others.

You can find Robin’s books in print and Kindle on Amazon, and at her website (which is in the midst of a makeover).

Deborah Bedford’s books, print and Kindle, can also be found on Amazon. Her website is found here.

Wednesday Means…

NEW Episode of Willow! Make sure to ‘like’ it on Amazon. Every little bit helps!

Since Chautona loves me so much, she agreed to let me interview her! (I KNOW!! SQUEEE!) If there’s anything you’re dying to know about her, post it here. I’ll add them to my list. Unless, of course, it’s already something I thought of. In which case, it’ll be answered. Oy.


Restoration is going well. Working hard to entwine the stories into something meaningful. Sometimes it goes well and others…let’s just say the brothers certainly have their own, STRONG personalities to contend with. It’s been a very fun experience. I found the Restoration theme. Ah, you were waiting, I know. You already know Jude’s (Mighty To Save) and Si’s (Desert Song). The story’s song is:

LOVE that song! Oh, when they sing it together…

Okay, that was a little slip of “spoiler”, sorry 😉 I should be posting the first chapter soon.

Enjoy the song, Worship the Lord on this fine day!