Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Candee Fick Blog Post and Giveaway

Candee is graciously giving away a copy of Catch of a Lifetime to one lucky winner. To enter answer Candee's question below and include contact information. If we don't know how to contact you or who you are, you will be disqualified. 

Why I Wrote About Football

There’s a saying among authors to write what you know. This means to start with a subject or emotion you know well enough to communicate clearly to readers. Personally, I know about a lot of things and one of them is football.

Not only did I grow up playing football with the boys at recess and then my dad and brothers while waiting for the Thanksgiving turkey to finish roasting, I am married to a high school coach and our oldest son plays the game.

So when I first felt God’s nudge to write a book, football and faith were my top two ideas. I immediately saw a number of parallels between life and the game of football including two teams in a struggle, wearing armor-like protection from life’s hits, and following a playbook. Originally published in 2007,  Pigskin Parables: Exploring Faith and Football  (http://candeefick.com/books/pigskin-parables-exploring-faith-and-football/) has since been re-formatted and republished as an 11-week devotional journey along with a shorter collection of devotional blog posts to complement the  non-fiction side of writing about football.

But my dream was to write fiction.

I wanted to craft the types of stories that captured my own imagination and create characters that lived beyond the pages. In the collection of story ideas flitting around in my head and on scraps of paper for years, the characters ranged from a Regency kitchen servant to a pioneer school teacher to a formerly Amish young woman to a diner waitress to a dinner theater actress … to a college student who hated football but had to work with the athletes.

Some of these ideas grew into full length manuscripts while others fell to the wayside (at least for now). But the story nugget revolving around football kept niggling at the corners of my mind until I finally figured out why someone would hate football. Not just apathy or confusion. Hatred. Loathing. Disgust. Rooted in deep pain.

Then, what reason would be big enough to keep them locked into a situation where they had to be around football players every day?

And better still, what kind of a hero would it take to change her mind?

As I thought about these two characters, they had to be in a college football setting. Beyond the intense on-field preparation, conflicts, and pressure to win, my hero was so passionate about football that his players pitied the hypothetical girl would have to compete with a game. When I added in the athletic stereotypes (only so I could bust them to pieces!), what other sport is known for self-absorbed, I’m-king-of-the-mountain-because-I-play-football egos? And what about the whole fraternization between staff and students angle? Built in conflict to make this writer’s job easier!

Yes, there are quite a few football-related scenes in Catch Of A Lifetime and not just because of the setting and the secondary characters. My hero is a coach and football is all he thinks about. It wouldn’t have been realistic to have his mind consumed with sappy, romantic thoughts about the heroine when surrounded by game action with his future job on the line. And while I toned down the technical stuff I hear over dinner conversations nightly, I couldn’t have the hero describe a slot receiver as “that guy who catches the ball” and still maintain credibility.

But in case you’re worried there might be too much football, several of my endorsers and beta readers are NOT football fans and loved the story. In fact the amazing Laura Hilton said Catch Of A Lifetime “is sure to score a touchdown with football fans and romance readers alike.”
Just what I wanted to hear when I set out to write a story about football.

What about you? Do you know about football or not? Would reading a story set around a college football team excite you or turn you off? Why? If you were to write a book, what do you know that would find its way onto the pages?

As a bonus, I recorded this fun video a few weeks ago for my book launch party in order to explain the basics of the game from a woman’s perspective.
Football Explained Video: https://youtu.be/CVrzXdYv520

Monday, November 23, 2015

Holiday Homecoming

Interview with Candee Fick and Giveaway

Candee is graciously offering to giveaway a copy of her book! To enter, answer the question at the end and leave contact information. (If we don't know who you are, you won't win without that!)  

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I’ve loved to read since an early age and my favorite characters lived on in my imagination long after the story ended. As I grew up, I came across books that fell short and I wondered if I could do better. I always did well in school putting my thoughts into words, so writing non-fiction came naturally. However, the fiction craft took much longer to hone in order to do the stories in my imagination justice.

What does your writing process look like?

I tend to have several ideas percolating on the back burner, but when it’s time to start a new project, one seems to rise to the top. After developing my characters enough to know what they want, their fears, and what lie they currently believe, then I move on to craft the signpost scenes that anchor the flow of the story. I’m old school enough to place index cards out on a chart to check the pacing and spot any weak spots. When it’s time to write, I try to get a very rough draft written as fast as possible while ignoring my internal editor and then go back to layer in the emotions and senses before passing it on to my critique partner. (I used to try to write clean copy the first time through but found myself stalling out.)

Is there a certain type of scene that's harder for you to write than others? Love? Action?

The romance is the hardest for me to write. In fact, I can feel my face heating up right now just thinking about it. Something about imagining my husband or my mother reading the kissing scenes makes me want to crawl in a hole. However, I’ve learned that those scenes are easiest if I can just get into character and write the scene as fast as I can with as much emotion as possible before my embarrassed internal editor can get a word in edgewise.

How did you decide upon the title of Catch of a Lifetime?

I wanted a title with multiple meanings that would be understood by the readers. This phrase implies a good romantic match, but it also applies to a football player making a great play worthy of a highlight reel. Since Reed coaches the receivers, it fit perfectly. And then when I gave Cassie a background in gymnastics, I could add in the metaphor of catching the bar before crashing to the mat below.

Are any experiences in Catch of a Lifetime based on personal experiences? Did you draw upon any stories or movies for inspiration for the novel?

I love the classic football movie “Rudy” and listened to the soundtrack while writing the football action scenes. In addition, I’ve watched countless football games and so that understanding of the game naturally helped in certain scenes. But on a more personal side, there’s a scene where Cassie tries to encourage Reed after a loss and he takes it personally and is unable to think logically. As a coach’s wife, I’ve been there and done that many times!

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

Yes, I do. (It’s my first book, so that might change!) In addition to gleaning tweetable quotes for marketing purposes, I want to know what is resonating with readers and what disappointed them. For bad reviews, I look for the nuggets of truth while graciously thanking them for actually reading the book and taking the time to offer their opinion. But then, it’s time to remind myself of the good reviews, the truth that was spoken, and move on to the next story. (And if I ever get slammed by a troll, I’m not the first author to experience it and I believe readers are smart enough to spot the difference between an honest review and an attack.)

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

Susan May Warren and the My Book Therapy gang. I bumbled and stumbled along in my first few manuscripts by going with my gut of what worked in stories I liked. Then at an ACFW conference (where I was actually up for an award!), I discovered one of her craft books in the bookstore. Suddenly the whole process was laid out in a way that I could easily understand and I’ve re-read her craft books many times since.

What are you working on now? What is your next project?

Dance Over Me will be releasing in September 2016 and I’m currently brainstorming and plotting the sequel. Set in a dinner theater, imagine Broadway meeting small town, a cast of tap dancers pounding out a rhythm, and the sounds of Big Band trumpet playing.

As a teaser, here’s the rough blurb for the first book: Danielle, a fledgling actress raised to the lullaby of Broadway, searches for her long-lost brother and her place on the stage, but a jealous cast member and numerous fruitless leads threaten to drop the curtain on her dreams and shine a spotlight on her longing for a place to belong. Meanwhile, Alex is living his dream except for someone to share it with. When Dani dances into his life, he hopes he’s found the missing piece to his heart but fears the bright lights of the stage could steal her away. Will the rhythm of dancing feet usher in their deepest desires or leave them stranded in the wings?

 Answer this question to be entered in giveaway:  Do you like football?   Which team is your favorite if you do?  Remember that all important contact information! 

BLURB: He breathes football. She shudders at the very mention of the sport. After a tragedy involving a football player destroyed her family, athletic trainer and graduate student Cassie moves across the country looking for a fresh start, but a change in financial aid lands her in the middle of her worst nightmare. Meanwhile, rookie coach Reed worries his dream career will slip away as injuries plague his players and his star receiver teeters on the brink of ineligibility. As the two work together to salvage the season, sparks fly, and Reed must eventually choose between the game he cherishes and the woman he loves.

BIO: Candee Fick is the wife of a high school football coach and the mother of three children, including a daughter with a rare genetic syndrome. When not busy with her day job or writing, she can be found cheering on the home team at football, basketball, baseball, and Special Olympics games. In what little free time remains, she enjoys exploring the great Colorado outdoors, indulging in dark chocolate, and savoring happily-ever-after endings through a good book.
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1941103944/

Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B013Z1S33Q/




Sunday, November 22, 2015

A Thousand Shall Fall

Thousand Fall Andrea Boeshaar
Book info and Review
About the book: 

A Thousand Shall Fall: A Civil War Novel (Kregel, November 2015)

A story of love, hope, and healing set in the midst of the Civil War

Nineteen-year-old Carrie Ann Bell is independent and spirited. The only thing she really fears are the Union soldiers fighting against her Confederate friends. When her youngest sister runs away from home, brave Carrie Ann is determined to find her and bring her back. Disguised as a soldier, she sets off---only to find she's fallen into the hands of the enemy.

Her childhood friend Confederate Major Joshua Blevins has warned her against these Yankees: they're all devils, ready to inflict evil on unsuspecting young women. When Colonel Peyton Collier arrests her for her impersonation of an officer, it seems to confirm all her fears.

Soon, though, she finds herself drawn to the handsome, gallant colonel. He rescued her, protected her, and has been every inch the gentleman. Carrie Ann discovers that her foe has become her ally---and more than that, someone she could love. But the arrival of Joshua in the Union camp as a spy will test her loyalties. Will she protect someone who has been like family or be loyal to this stranger to whom she wants to offer her heart? When her world is being torn apart around her, whom should she trust?

Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, A Thousand Shall Fall is framed around compelling characters and a very romantic setting in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. Andrea Boeshaar's extensive research guarantees historical accuracy and romance genre enthusiasts and Civil War buffs alike will enjoy the Christian perspectives on actual historical events.

My thoughts:  I almost passed on this novel as I am not a huge fan of historical fiction. This would've been a mistake.  A THOUSAND SHALL FALL did start kind of slow - with Carrie Ann meeting up with an old childhood friend, but nothing clicked for me.   I kept reading then there was a click, about 50 or so pages in, that grabbed my interest and it was held through-out the remainder of the book. 
I enjoyed getting to know Carrie Ann and Peyton, and even Joshua. Set during the Civil War and not after as most books during this time period. As such, it is greatly different (and more interesting) than most.  A great book by a very talented author. I'm anxious to read the second book in this series. 5 stars. 

Purchase a copy: 
About the author: 

Andrea Boeshaar is the cofounder of American Christian Fiction Writers and runs "The Writer's ER," a coaching service for writers. She is the author of thirty published works, including Threads of Faith, a finalist in the Inspirational Readers Choice Awards. Andrea is also the author of a popular devotional and regularly blogs on a number of sites.

Connect with Andrea: websiteTwitterFacebook
 Blog Tour Schedule

Landing page:

Civil War Meets Romance in Andrea Boeshaar’s New Book (Plus a Kindle Giveaway)
The search for her runaway sister goes awry when Carrie finds herself arrested during the Civil War for impersonating an officer in Andrea Boeshaar's A Thousand Shall Fall. Soon, though, she finds herself drawn to the handsome, gallant colonel who arrested her. Carrie Ann discovers that her foe has become her ally—and more than that, someone she could love. Will she protect someone who has been like family or be loyal to this stranger to whom she wants to offer her heart? When her world is being torn apart around her, whom should she trust?

Andrea is celebrating the release of A Thousand Shall Fall with a Kindle Fire giveaway!

400 - a thousand shall fall 

One grand prize winner will receive:

  • A copy of A Thousand Shall Fall
  • A Kindle Fire HD 6
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on December 10th. The winner will be announced December 11th on Andrea's blog.

a thousand shall fall-enterbanner

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Faith Builders Bible / Faithgirlz Bible

Faith Builders Bible, NIrV 

Hardcover – ebook

October 27, 2015

  • Age Range: 6 - 10 years
  • 1152 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz 
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310754633

The Faith Builders Bible, NIrV uses the popularity of brick-building pieces to engage children with the Word of God. Includes 24 full-color pages of illustrations plus the complete New International Reader's Version (NIrV) of the Bible (from Genesis to Revelation) in a very readable, 9-point font size.

My thoughts:  For Lego lovers, this Bible shows neat things to build with Lego sets in addition to having the entire Bible in NIrV format. It includes 24 full color pages of Bible stories, made with Lego brick creations. My daughter doesn't really play with Legos but she was enchanted with this Bible, looking at the pictures. This would be an awesome Christmas gift for a Lego lover in your life who needs a new Bible. 5 stars. 


Faithgirlz Bible, NKJV 


October 6, 2015

by Nancy N. Rue

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Series: Faithgirlz
  • Hardcover: 1504 pages
  • Publisher: Zonderkidz
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310751175

Every girl wants to know she’s totally unique and special. This Bible says that with Faithgirlz sparkle. Through the many in-text features found only in the Faithgirlz Bible, girls will grow closer to God as they discover the journey of a lifetime.
Features include:
• Book introductions—Read about the who, when, where, and what of each book
• Dream Girl—Use your imagination to put yourself in the story
• Bring It On!—Take quizzes to really get to know yourself
• Is There a Little (Eve, Ruth, Isaiah) in You?—See for yourself what you have in common
• Words to Live By—Check out these Bible verses that are great for memorizing
• What Happens Next?—Create a list of events to tell a Bible story in your own words
• Oh, I Get It!—Find answers to Bible questions you've wondered about
• The complete New King James Version (NKJV) translation
• Features written by bestselling author Nancy Rue

My thoughts:  My daughter absolutely fell in love with this Bible!  She loves the cover, loves the contents, and little quizzes, and other features.  This would be an absolutely wonderful Bible for the tween girl on your Christmas list. Available in a variety of colors.  My other daughter has the one with the pink cover.  A fun Bible in the NKJV so girls who go to churches that are KJV only won't be excluded from having a girly cover.  

Friday, November 20, 2015

What’s on your children’s Christmas wish list?


What’s on your children’s Christmas wish list? As excited as they might be about that new toy, as every parent knows, the thrill of the gift will eventually wear off. Focus on the Family and Adventures in Odyssey have created the perfect gift for those who want to give their children or grandchildren a present that will provide year-round fun with eternal impact.

The Odyssey Adventure Club (OAC) offers families 24/7 access to 25 years’ worth of Adventures in Odyssey (AIO) episodes in a safe online environment where children can explore and learn. Christmas really is the perfect time to tap into your children’s imagination while infusing faith and fun into their day . . . and every day of the year.

To celebrate the holidays this year, the OAC is offering free content for everyone, including an Advent calendar, a broadcast download with tips to create a memorable Christmas, AIO cutouts and Christmas stocking stuffer cards. Membership to the OAC costs just $9.99 a month — or even less if parents make a six-month or one-year commitment. Enrollment provides more than enough content to keep kids engaged throughout the year:

  • Access to exclusive content and first looks at books and select Radio Theatre dramas.
  • On-the-go access to the OAC app for both iOS and Android users.
  • 24/7 streaming access to nearly 800 AIO episodes.
  • A new, members-only AIO episode every month.
  • A subscription to Adventures in Odyssey Clubhouse Magazine, and more.
In keeping with AIO’s rich heritage of teaching children about biblical principles — such as the importance of giving — a portion of each OAC membership benefits Focus on the Family partner organizations. Here are a couple of examples of what has been accomplished through Odyssey Adventure Club members:

The Odyssey Adventure Club wants to reach beyond fleeting entertainment this Christmas, partnering with parents in helping their kids grow deep in faith and find their place in God’s story.


Speaking of the holidays, you can prepare for Christmas with Thriving Family's 2015 Advent Activity Calendar — Tales of Christmas Past: 25 Inspiring true stories of the season. Assemble a beautifully designed Advent poster to help your kids focus on Christ this Christmas. Then read Scripture passages and stories that relate to individual flaps on the poster. You can also create easy-to-fold booklets for each story. Get more information about this year's free Advent calendar at ThrivingFamily.com/Advent, or sign up to download it.

To learn more about the Odyssey Adventure Club, visit www.oaclub.org, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

The Five Times I Met Myself

The Five Times I Met Myself

by James L. Rubart   

Contemporary Fiction
Thomas Nelson 

Litfuse, Thomas Nelson, andJames L. Rubart are thrilled to offer James's new book, The Five Times I Met Myself, for review. Fans of It's a Wonderful Life and Andy Andrews' stories will loveThe Five Times I Met Myself.

What if you met your twenty-three-year-old self in a dream? What would you say?

Brock Matthews' once promising life is unraveling. His coffee company. His marriage.

So when he discovers his vivid dreams---where he encounters his younger self---might let him change his past mistakes, he jumps at the chance. The results are astonishing, but also disturbing.

Because getting what Brock wants most in the world will force him to give up the one thing he doesn't know how to let go . . . and his greatest fear is that it's already too late.

My thoughts:  (reviewed by Steve)

I’ve been played.  Like a fine-tuned instrument in the hands of a master.  In his latest project (you cannot call what James L. Rubart does writing, anymore than you can call what Michelangelo did sculpting, or what DaVinci did painting, or what Beethoven did composing) James L. Rubart subtly captured my interest, and then skillfully played upon my emotions and my intellect.  Until it was too late.

To stop, that is.  To stop experiencing (one does not read James L. Rubart’s projects) the vision that is THE FIVE TIMES I MET MYSELF

Who doesn’t have regrets over decisions made in the past?  Who hasn’t entertained the idea, even said the words, “If I only knew then what I know now . . .

Things would be different.  I’d have done things differently.  I would have chosen what’s behind door number three.

Regret is a huge idea that lingers in the background; it’s the outline of many of our future decisions and determinations.  Sometimes it’s the foundation of many of our most intricately laid plans, and most expansive endeavors.  (Sometimes, it may even spark one’s interest and cause one to write a book about it.)

Brock Matthews’ once promising life is unraveling.  His coffee company.  His marriage.  So . . . when he discovers his vivid dreams – where he meets his younger self – might actually let him change his past mistakes, he jumps at the chance.  The results are astonishing – and disturbing.  Because getting what Brock wants most in the world will force him to give up the one thing he doesn’t know how to let go.

And his greatest fear is that it’s already too late.

* WARNING *  Do not open this book unless you are willing to entertain the idea of having your whole world turned upside down.

5 stars for mesmerizing fiction from James L. Rubart

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/1O1Wrle

Advance Praise
A powerfully redemptive story with twists and turns that had me glued to every page. With a compelling message for anyone who longs to relive their past, The Five Times I Met Myself is another James L. Rubart masterpiece.
---Susan May Warren, bestselling author of the Christiansen Family series
If you think fiction can't change your life and challenge you to be a better person, you need to read The Five Times I Met Myself.
---Andy Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of How Do You Kill 11 Million PeopleThe Noticer & The Traveler's Gift

 Meet the Author
James L. Rubart is a professional marketer and speaker. He is the author of the best-seller Rooms and award-winning Soul's Gate, the book that precedes Memory's Door in the Well Spring series. Rubart and his wife have two sons and live in the Pacific Northwest.

Connect with James: websiteTwitterFacebook
 Blog Tour Schedule