Monday, April 20, 2015

Author Spotlight with New York Times Best Selling Author, Tosca Lee: Interview & Giveaway!!

Welcome Dear Readers!! Today we have New York Times Best Selling Author, Tosca Lee, with us! Tosca will be giving away an eBook copy of her novel, Havah: The Story of Eve! Leave a comment below to enter to win!  Read on for another special gift from Tosca to you!!

Meet Tosca:
Tosca Lee is the multi award-winning, New York Times bestselling novelist of Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, and The Books of Mortals series (Forbidden, Mortal, Sovereign) with New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker. She is best known for her exploration of maligned characters, lyrical prose and meticulous research.

Thank you for being here today with us, Tosca. I'm a HUGE fan, and I know you have A LOT of readers here today that feel the same. We've read all your works, and now we're you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?
I’ve just finished a contemporary thriller. (Yay!) It’s a small break from the biblical historical genre, and I really needed this. It was a super fun ride filled with action and suspense and romance, too. I hope you enjoy it!

I can't wait to get my hands on it!! And congratulations on finishing this novel. I know how difficult it can be to etch/carve/pray out time to write in order to meet those deadlines.  Is there a favorite time of the day you prefer to write  to get the job done?
You know, I tend to do anything serious in the evening. Usually after 9pm. These days I work until dawn, and now that it’s spring, the birds are out to sing me to sleep (or keep me awake…)

Ha! I have a love-hate relationship with the birds outside my window too! Now, is there a specific place where you like to write? I have to kind of lock myself away.
My office is the place I write—there is only one seat in that space, and it’s behind my claw-foot desk. For some reason, I always seem to work at night.
All writers reading this, take note: a claw-foot desk, and night writing. I'm on it!

Moving on! I'm gonna get a little nosey here.  but I wanna know if there are there things you put off doing because you dread them? (ie I can’t stand to fold socks. Torture!)

I am a master procrastinator. I put off writing until I either can’t stand it any more or I better get a move on if I want to make my deadline. It’s a form of perfectionism that stems from fear. And in the end, the fear never goes away—I just start slogging through to the end.
I appreciate your transparency and your bravery to face fear by "slogging through to the end." Fear is something that we can all struggle with, and it's encouraging to know we don't have to succumb. 

Switching gears  a bit now. I'm a Military wife, and love to have my guests put themselves in the military life roll. Let's play!
Many Military families move several times over the course of their career relocating to duty stations all over the country and the world. While moving can be difficult, it’s also pretty exciting to meet new people and see new places. Sometimes we’re able to choose our duty station. If you had a choice, where would you like to be stationed and why?
Korea. :) I have a ton of family (half of it) in Seoul. And I need me some good Korean food.
My hubby spent a year in South Korea!! I got to spend close to a month over there and LOVED it! Seoul was amazing! And you're right, the food is crazy tasty!

I also like to honor the Service men and women in my guest's family. Do you have family that have or are serving in the Military?
Some of my extended American family have served in the Air Force—uncles, a cousin. All the men on my Korean side of the family have served in the Korean military (it’s compulsory). My uncle is a former Korean Secretary of Defense, but the coolest part of his career, for me, was when he was a two star general because I got to ride around with him in his Jeep. ;D
That is totally awesome! Please thank both sides of your family for their service!

I'm not only a Military wife, but like a large portion of my friends and readers, I'm a stay at home momma.  It gets a bit crazy around my house, especially when I have edits to get to! Could you share some advice for all those parents out there raising their babies juggling insane schedules?

Oh boy. I’m a brand new step-mother to be of four—one young lady (19) and three young men (14 and 11 year old twins). (My fiancé is a single father.) So I’m the one who needs the advice—namely, ways to make vegetables appealing. Right now I’m just trying not to get wiped out by kid germs. (I managed to catch Whooping Cough last January.) One of the most amazing privileges of coming into this role is listening to them talk about the things that are important to them (i.e. football and Minecraft).
First off, Tosca, CONGRATULATIONS!!! Welcome to the wild, wonderful world of parenthood! Readers, let's shower Tosca with some advice in the comment section! My advice: pray. Pray for your kids to like veggies. Pray you don't get sick. And pray with them...even about Minecraft, football, or in my case, Elsa, Anna, and Pokémon.
Tosca, I cannot thank you enough for taking the time to be our guest today. We've had a great time, and have room for one more response.
Is there anything you’d like to say to your readers? I know they’d love a personal note.
I love you guys. I truly have the most wonderful readers in the world. I think of you as I sit down to work, as I go about the business side of writing, and am grateful every day. One of my greatest joys is when I get to meet readers at signings, talks or events and hug them.
Again, thank you for being here with us today! Tosca has a special gift for everyone here
today! See below for the details! Remember to leave a comment to enter to win Havah: The Story of Eve!

Ismeni, the free eBook prequel to The Legend of Sheba is available for free on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and in all eBook formats.
No eReader? Get the FREE app for your computer, phone or tablet:

Stay Connected With Tosca:

Friday, April 17, 2015

Book Review: A Captive Imposter by Dawn Crandall (Book 3 in The Everstone Chronicles)

Author of The Everstone Chronicles, Dawn Crandall, will be joining us next week, but today I have the privilege of reviewing her latest release!

I should be finishing up my next novel. However, I had no other choice but to turn away from my computer screen if I ever wanted to get a restful night's sleep again, without wondering about the main characters like I knew them! 

I’m not sure if I should thank Dawn for this novel or not… :)
Yes, I’ll thank her!
The Captive ImposterDawn's third book in The Everstone Chronicles DOES NOT DISAPPOINT!
The title of this book itself caused my eyebrow to arch with interest. Her writing continues to grow stronger with each elegant, and vivid. And then there’s that storyline that just held onto me!
Estella Everstone, born into wealth and privilege, is in danger, and has gone into hiding at one of her father’s hotels in the mountainous region of Maine, assuming the name Elle Stoneburner, and a lowly status as lady’s maid. After a cancelled engagement, and a family tragedy, she struggles to mend and find her life’s direction. Dexter Blakely, an ill-tempered hotel manager with an apparent distaste for those born to wealth and privilege, and a disdain for all things romantic, catches her eye, and confuses her heart.
Neither can deny the pull that exists between them when they are together. However, Dexter doesn’t know Estella’s true identity, and that the woman he’s grown to love is the embodiment of everything he’s vowed to hate. She has to tell Dexter the truth, reveal all, and hold nothing back, but where will that lead, and can she handle the fallout?
Set in the late Nineteenth century, a simpler day for sure, The Captive Imposter drew me, quite willingly, into the past, and dazzled me with an elegant setting, exquisite scenery, and spot-on dialect for the time period. Let’s not forget the mystery, suspense, and hints of a budding romance.
The story sprouts themes of forgiveness, restoration, God’s purpose for our lives, and His ability to use the bad things for His glory—all of which I applaud. The characters…real…sincere…flawed, and forgiven…just like us. I found this novel daring, true-to-life, and lovely! Kuddos to you Dawn Crandall!
No foul language was found, however, there is a brothel mentioned, and a woman held against her will worked there. This was not an issue for me, but because of the nature of this topic, I suggest mothers with daughters younger than thirteen may want to have an open discussion about this before allowing their younger girls to jump into this book. 
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a novel with Christ-focused themes. Fabulous!! If I had three thumbs, I’d give it that!

Follow the fun with Dawn as she promotes her latest release. Prizes and giveaway daily throughout the Blog Tour!

About the Author:

A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit her job in 2010 in order to focus on writing her debut novel, The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Northeast Indiana.

Dawn is a member of Romance Writers of America, American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.

Want to read more reviews or interviews?

Check out:
Though My Heart is Torn by Joanne Bischof
Catch a Falling Star by Beth Vogt
Where Treasure Hides by Johnnie Alexander

Friday, April 10, 2015

4 Tips for Planning a LEGO Birthday Party

Welcome, Dear Readers!
This year I've set out to get to know you better, hear your story, what God's done or doing in your life, lessons learned, trials, triumphs, recipes, and fun projects. I want to hear what you have to say, and so do a whole host of others.

Today we welcome Nicole Hines! Nicole is a mother of two, a Kindergarten teacher, and my sister-in-law! She's got some great crafty ideas, and today she's sharing some excellent tips on throwing an incredible Lego themed party!

Meet Nicole:

Hi everyone!
Since my boys birthdays are 3 weeks apart I decided to have a joint birthday party this year.  One thing both my boys love are LEGOs.  So I quickly decided on a LEGO themed birthday party and started surfing Pinterest for ideas. My goal was to spend as less as possible but make it look like I spent a lot. Here are 4 tips to how I got the job done!

1. Centerpieces:  I took glass mason jars and filled them with Legos.  I actually had my father-in-law cut some PVC pipe to place in the middle of the jar as a filler.  That way I didn't have to use all my Legos for the centerpieces.  I then tied balloons to the jars for some height.  Under the jars I used some Lego mats from a Lego set I already owned. Finally, I sprinkled some jumbo Legos on each table too!  I think it turned out so cute!
2.  Cake: I love cupcakes!  They are so easy for birthdays, and so good.  So I bought some Lego molds off Amazon for $8.  I bought just regular white frosted cupcakes from Kroger.  I got red, yellow, green, and blue candy chocolate from Michaels craft store, and made Lego bricks to put on the cupcakes.  I was worried that the different colored chocolates would taste gross, but I had so many compliments on how good they were.

3. Games:  A birthday party is not complete without some type of entertainment.  The space I rented for the birthday party wasn't big enough for an inflatable.  Honestly, I didn't want to blow my entire birthday budget on one bouncy house anyway.  So I had to get creative in order to keep 15 little kids entertained.  First, we played pin the head on the Lego man.  Then I used the remaining Legos, scattered them all over the hallway, and gave each child a paper bag to decorate.  When everyone was ready, we had a Lego hunt.  The goals was to pick up as many Legos as possible.  After the hunt all the kids had to try and build the tallest structure.  To say they loved it was an understatement. 

4.  Party Favors:  I used the mini figure Lego mold and made Lego crayons (I got the mold from Amazon).  The boys loved helping me peel the crayons paper off, break them into pieces, and place them in the molds. We baked them in the oven at 200 degrees, for 15 minutes. Once removed from the oven, I used a toothpick to pop the air bubbles in the melted crayons, then set the mold in the refrigerator until it cools. Afterward, I popped them out of the mold. Easy! :) Each child at the party left with 2 Lego crayons and a small little tablet. It was a hit!

Thank you for sharing Nicole!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Guest Reader Jessica Adkins: Living Love Loud by Becoming a Surrogate

Welcome, Dear Readers!
This year I've set out to get to know you better, hear your story, what God's done or doing in your life, lessons learned, trials, triumphs, recipes, and fun projects. I want to hear what you have to say, and so do a whole host of others.

Today we welcome Jessica Adkins! Jessica has quite a testimony to share with you, and it seems quite fitting given that it's Easter weekend, and we have so much life to celebrate!

Meet Jessica:
I’m 28 weeks pregnant with a precious baby boy. The twist? He’s not my husband’s baby...or mine! I am a gestational surrogate for an international family. I am just the incubator, or an extreme babysitter, for another family’s biological child. 
Meet Jessica Adkins
At this point, there Is no hiding that I’m pregnant! So, there are a lot of questions and comments from random people. Everyone loves a pregnant person! Or maybe it’s just they love to give advice and talk about your size! Most comments are from strangers making small talk who don’t know I’m a surrogate. I often struggle with knowing when to tell people that I’m carrying for a family or when to just smile and say, “Thank you.” 
My desire during this journey was to be open and vulnerable and make the entire process known.  I wanted people to see my heart, how The Lord was working through this, and what an amazing blessing this has been for both our families…it’s just kind of hard to share that in a 3 minute conversation! When I do mention that I’m a surrogate there are some people who are instantly supportive, but I mostly get a really weird sideways glance with three responses, “Why would you do that?” “I could never do that” and “Won’t you be too attached?” 
I totally understand all of those questions! I thought those too. I have been living through this process almost two years now and often times it’s still crazy to me that I’m pregnant with another family’s baby! I didn’t enter this process lightly and without prayer or guidance. I completely understand people have different opinions and values that they are entitled to.
We have 2 small children of our own. They are such a blessing and bring so much joy to our lives. Daily they humble us and teach us amazing truths about God’s love...but we feel complete with our family! No more planned babies for us! However, maybe that would convince my husband to buy me the minivan that I so desperately want…
When we made that decision not to have anymore kids, my heart was kind of sad! I am not a great pregnant person who loves every second of being pregnant if that’s what you assume! I complain about being pregnant every day that I’m pregnant…but there was still this longing to help create life, or carry life. Crazy woman hormones. 
As I’ve gotten older, I was taken back by the amount of infertility struggles that so many women and our close friends were struggling through. Honestly, I didn’t know surrogacy was a valid option until I quickly researched it. Once it was on my heart, I couldn’t get it off. 
One of my favorite versus is 1 John 3:18-24; “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with actions and in truth…” 
When I read this verse, it always hits me in a different way depending on my stage in life. How can I ‘love out loud’? I wanted to not only have a heart for families by being supportive and praying for them…I wanted to find a way to love them with actions. My body could carry a baby and there are families that desire a baby, so why not?! Obviously, there is more involved, but those were my beginning prayers! 
We chose to pursue surrogacy through an agency for the protection of our family. There are a lot of laws, medical, and legal issues that come along with surrogacy. Having an agency handle the business aspect allows us to focus on the relational side. We were matched with a wonderful couple based on our interest and personalities. It has been the greatest match. The mom had tried IVF 3 times before cancer was found and she had to have a full hysterectomy. They were on the adoption list for several years, but waiting up to five years is common. They chose to come to the US to pursue surrogacy since it is illegal in their country. 
Aren’t you going to be attached?
Precious Baby Boy
Right now, I am focused on enjoying this process. My husband and I are loving the relationship we are building with the parents. Being able to meet a couple we would have never known and call them family now is amazing. A pregnancy has never went by this fast in the past! It really is enjoyable…maybe because I now realize how amazing of a gift being pregnant is?! I love to feel him move, kick, and punch because I know he’s growing and is healthy. My husband feels my belly and is protective over my pregnancy and health. We both love the baby and his parents. So, yes we are attached! 
However, it’s just different. I don’t feel like he is my baby (because he’s not). I don’t have a crazy plan to ‘keep him’.  It could be because I’m not spending that time nesting in our home and planning his future. I feel like I love him and want the best for him…for him to be with his parents who love and desire to finally be able to hold him in their arms! The excitement and anticipation of that moment make it all worth it. 
I am not just helping to create a baby for a family…but a future brother, son, uncle, husband, father, and grandfather! That makes my role in this feel so small in comparison of what God can do through him. 
I would love your prayers for the rest of this pregnancy and over this sweet little boys life! If you would like to follow our journey you can check out my blog at:

Thank you for being with us today Jessica! I'm moved to tears, and I will be praying for you, your family, this precious boy, and his family. You'll have to come back and give us update info and pics!!