Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Secrets Kept Tour Finale

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

The Secrets Kept Tour Grand Finale!

This tour explored the World of Nälu: 
Where a story with adventure, action, love, betrayal, and a quest takes place.
We visited sites, learned more about the cuisine, and were introduced to some fantastical characters.

12/9: Launch

12/10: Kelly P’s Blog - Guest Post

The five must see places of Western Nälu

The Nations of Nälu welcomes you to the western region of Nälu. Home to the elves, two of the dwarf clans, and the humans. Most likely you came by ship, so we will start with the beautiful land of Zurial...

What is a visit to a new land without exploring some of the cuisine? I don’t know about you, but I LOVE food and discovering new favorites. If you’ve been by my Facebook page, you probably have guessed that. Ha! Well, here in Nälu we have quite a variety. Today we’ll just look at a few favorites...

12/12: fundinmental - Guest Post

In the course of edits, Secrets Kept lost the opening chapter where we catch a glimpse of the Sacred Pearl. Hopefully, I’ll be able to share that scene with you all one of these days. But later in the story, we learn that the Sacred Pearl was kidnapped during the attack on Dagmar, the headquarters of the Guardians.

But what is so special about the Pearl?

12/13: Next Page Reviews - Review

This book is amazing! It's a gorgeous fantasy with lots of action-packed scenes and spellbinding paranormal and fantasy elements. It's a quick read (I need more!!) and is a definite page turner. It's unique, original, and gorgeously written, perfectly for any lover of good, descriptive fantasy.

12/13: Giveaway Breaking News - Guest Post

The defeat of Lord Stygian released the people, breaking the hold of the Tainted One, but she vowed to return. Who would stop her then? Who should rule the nations? What will become of the giants? Can they be trusted? The questions gave way to chaos, but Karasi, one of the lost rulers of Zohar, long imprisoned by the Tainted One and Stygian, brought peace again and established the first Guardian Circle. They were charged with guiding and teaching of the nations, so that history would never repeat itself, and the nations would never have to endure another oppressive rule such as Lord Stygian’s again...

12/15: Colorimetry - Review of Desert Rose

"This is an intro to how JL Mbewe's stories aren't all peachy happy endings, necessarily, how she delivers an entire world, finished and beautiful, with minimal words. With one short story, she gained a fan-for-life with me. (I'm stubborn, too... you're stuck with me now, JL!!) I love this book!!"

12/16: Katie’s Clean Book Collection - Guest Post

On the northern edge of the Prathae Plains lies an ancient forest. Wisps of a grey mist ooze between bent and wrinkled trees. Silvery cobwebs sway loosely among their twisting limbs like tattered curtains of the dead. A force lingers at the edge of the forest like the foul stench of a beast.

It breathes of dark magic and death...

12/17: Deal Sharing Aunt - Guest Post

Mystery surrounds the corrupted dagger of Raemoja, of course, those who created it, wouldn’t call it that.

Only the dwarves know how to “corrupt” a blade, strengthening it against things not of this world, but the dwarves did not make this dagger.

The dagger is a tool, and we cannot talk about the tool without learning about the one who crafted it...

12/19: I Am A Reader, Not A Writer - Guest Post

When Nälu was known as Talesri, there were only two dwarf clans. Klovan and Igazin, and they both spoke Tarôc...

During Stygian’s reign, the Klovan maintained a strong defense against the dwäza raids, but much of Stygian’s focus was on the Igazin...

[The Stozic's] capital city, Ta’vazi, is built right into the side of the mountain much like the ancient city of Petra in Jordan...

"I definitely found the title a perfect fit for the story. The MC, Ayianna, has had some secrets kept from her and then in turn must keep her own...

Overall, this was a good story. I really wanted to understand more about the prophecy and dagger and the role that Ayianna and her fellow companions will play, but I'll have to wait until the next book to learn more."

12/22: Mortal Moments - Guest Post

There are three distinct ethnic groups of elves in Nälu. The Esusamor, Saryhemor, and Wofsemor. They speak the common tongue of Nälu, their dialect of Zjótharyn, and most of the older generations are familiar with the ancient language of Táchil. Aside from the merfolk, they are the longest living beings in Nälu...

12/23: alwaysjoart - Guest Post

The feline shape-shifting race of Nälu: The Haruzo are split into two ethnic groups: The Plarzo in Bonzapur and the Rugazo in the mountainous region of Arashel...

Go to alwaysjoart to also listen to two songs representative of the music from Secrets Kept.

12/24: Mel’s Shelves - Review

If you enjoy fantasy, this is the beginning of a great series and I'm personally looking forward to reading the next book!

My Rating=5 Stars

12/26: Zerina Blossom - Guest Post

Across many watery miles and treacherous seas, is a land of mystery, great beauty, and wonder. Ragged mountains emerge from the depths and loom over lush, colorful gardens. Home to the glowing moonflower, healing waters, and dragons.

Here, you will find the Kaleki. The Sea-people. Otherwise known as the merfolk...

"Secrets Kept by J.L. Mbewe is a refreshingly brilliant and utterly sizzling beginning to an astounding epic adventure that emphasizes the innate desire in all of us to do what we fear the most – to truly live life to the fullest. I absolutely loved this story!"

12/29: Fictionally - Review

"I really liked the story, over all. I found it engaging enough that there were not many slow spots in it , which is good cause I read most of it in one weekend so I could have the review up by today.There's also fantastical creatures galore!"

12/30: Dalene’s Book Reviews - Review

"I really had fun reading this book. The characters were well developed and the world building was pretty good."

12/31: Grand Finale

FREE right now on 
Amazon and Barnes & Noble!
Desert Rose
(A Tale of Nälu #1)

Secrets KeptSecrets Kept 
by JL Mbewe
YA Fantasy
October 30th 2013 by AltWit Press

With a curse, she will build an army.
With the dagger, she will undo the last sacrifice.
But first the sorceress must find the secret keeper.

Torn from her homeland and thrust into a betrothal against her wishes, Ayianna learns her family has a deadly secret that now has her on the run. She joins forces with Kael, an embittered half-elf, and Saeed, an elderly High Guardian, to seek answers to her father’s death, the destruction of Dagmar, and the plains people’s bizarre behavior.

Ayianna discovers there is more at stake here than just her mother’s disappearance and her familial duty to her betrothed. The sorceress has cursed the plains people, and it is a race against time to release them before the sorceress resurrects an ancient evil.

Tales of Nalu

Desert Rose
A Tale of Nälu #1

First short story published March 2013

Set thirty some years before the opening scene of book one.

Can a desert princess find love with a foreign king?

Johari lives in the shadow of her beautiful sister until a foreign king notices her, but in her haste to prove herself worthy of affection she finds herself compromised and on a difficult journey to make things right.

Dragon-ThiefwebDragon Thief
A Tale of Nälu #2

What if all you knew had been a lie?

The teaching of the Guardians has guided Semine’s footsteps since her infancy. When her mentor shows up with information contrary to what she’s been taught, she doubts her decision to follow in their footsteps. She must decide if there is life beyond what she has always known or embrace a new, mysterious path and reject the Guardians’ legacy.

Available at Amazon. Coming soon to Barnes and Noble.

indestructible final (436x640)Indestructable
A Tale of Nälu #3

To what lengths would you go to the save the world?

Elothryn keeps the darkest secret of Nälu: The cursed dagger of Raemoja. A weapon powerful enough to release the greatest evil from the underworld. For generations, his family has lived without incident until now. The hunters have his scent and will stop at nothing to reclaim the dagger. Elothryn and his son flee, seeking help, but will they find it?

Available at Amazon. Coming soon to Barnes and Noble. 

NOW AVAILABLE: Tales of  Nälu (all three short stories in paperback) on Amazon!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00013]

Living life balanced between reality and dreams.

JL Mbewe - AuthorWriting as J. L. Mbewe, Jennette is an author, artist, mother, wife, but not always in that order. Born and raised in Minnesota, she now braves the heat of Texas, but pines for the Northern Lights and the lakes of home every autumn. She loves trying to capture the abstract and make it concrete. She has two short stories published in The Clockwork Dragon anthology, and is busily creating worlds inhabited by all sorts of fantasy creatures and characters, all questing about and discovering true love amid lots of peril. Her debut novel Secrets Kept and her short stories set in the world of Nälu: Desert Rose, Dragon Thief, and Indestructible are now available. She is currently living her second childhood with a wonderful husband and two precious children who don’t seem to mind her eclectic collections of rocks, shells, and books, among other things.

For more information about her journey as a writer mama and all things creative please visit her at:

Tour-Wide Giveaway

Kindle Fire Prize Pack (US/CAN ONLY), which includes:
- Kindle Fire
- Chocolate truffles
- Paper backs of Secrets Kept and Tales of Nälu
- Awesome swag (key chain, bookmark, and poster)
Ends January 7, 2014
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you a blogger and want to receive information about new tours? Go HERE.
Are you an author or publisher and would like to have us organize a tour? Go HERE.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Writing Tip- Stacking the Odds

It is never any fun to read about a character that doesn't suffer. They have to feel pain, or no one will care about their story. And then you have to stack the odds against them.

Think about the Hunger Games. Katniss has suffered pain; the lose of her father, the emotional abandonment of her mother, the burden of protecting her sister, the daily fear of hunger. And then the odds are stacked against her; her sister is chosen for the reaping, she volunteers in her sisters place, she feels an obligation to Peeta for his help in the past, she feels an obligation to her sister....to Rue. The weight on Katniss' shoulders only continues to grow. And we follow her for it.

The more your character bears, and then survives, the more we will love them.

Sorry about the brevity of this post. I have had a busy weekend.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Cress- Marrissa Meyer

My Rating:  5 Stars

Description: Rapunzel’s tower is a satellite. She can’t let down her hair—or her guard.

In this third book in the bestselling Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, who has been trapped on a satellite since childhood with only her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker—unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing stop her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only ones who can.

My Thoughts: Soo, I read it in a day. That's right, all 560 pages of it, because it was that amazing.

Usually, I am not much a fan of many different plot lines. However, Meyer managed to pull all of them together in a way that I loved. The plot lines did not feel like different stories, but parts of the same story perfectly woven together.

Cress was a great addition to the cast of characters, even though I do not know much about Rapunzel. And the end of the book! I did not want it to be the last page. I was far too into the story and things were going wonderfully. But then it ended, and now I must wait for Winter... At least I did not need to wait for February for Cress. ;)

Sunday, December 22, 2013

New Story Contest- Finale

So, the names were all entered into the contest, and the winner is....

Hannah W.

Please email me so that we can work out the particulars of your post.

And, as promised, the premise of my new story:

   The last thing that Hayley expected after being assigned to work on a Greek mythology project with Andrew was that the two of them would end up in a world of legends. Yet that is the exact nightmare she has awoke to. In a land where gods rule by fear, monsters run rampant, and relationships are held together by a tenuous thread, Hayley must trust the most unlikely of allies to return home: Apollo and Artemis, the twin god and goddess with family issues, Demetre, the man fighting his monstrous past, and Andrew, the high school terror. Because if there is one thing this world is in short supply of, it is trust.

The premise for the trilogy:

   Trouble is brewing in Olympus. Rumors spread by the nymphs in trees and rivers. Someone is causing trouble─ enough to upset the gods' divinity. A secret hidden since the beginning of the world is coming to light. One that may cause even the gods to bow.

If you enjoyed the premise, here is an excerpt from Chapter 3:

"Andrew.” Hayley tightened her grip on his arm. “Look.”

The moment he saw them, a curse slipped from his mouth. He turned and bent his knees. “Get on my back.”
She did as he said, too frightened to argue or think of another solution. The moment his arms clamped around her legs, he took of running. She held tight to his shoulders and tucked her head close to his. Branches reached across the path and swiped at her hair. The leaves cackled in laughter.
What was this place? A shutter tore through her, an echo of the shaking ground beneath them.
A man yelled and another whooped in response. But these were not men. They were creatures from stories she now wished she had never read.
She had to be dreaming. Her and Andrew were still in the library, probably passed out on the floor. That was what had happened. They had not been transported to another world, they were not being chased by centaurs. It couldn't be real.
A hand grabbed her hair and pulled. She screamed. Andrew yelled and stumbled. His grip on her legs loosened and the hand in her hair was joined by another under her arm. Now she couldn't stop screaming and she tightened her grip on Andrew.
The hands pulled at her, lifting her from Andrew's back. Her hold slipped from his shoulders to his neck and he gave a choked cry as they were jerked back. A centaur appeared on at their side and grabbed her hands, yanking them from Andrew. He yelled and reached for her. The centaur shoved him to the ground.
Held in the air by only her arm and her hair, Hayley kicked her legs and screamed until her throat ached. Her foot landed against the centaur's chest and it stumbled before hoisting her higher and tossing her to the side.
Another centaur caught her about the waist, knocking the breath out of her and pining her arms to her sides. She stared in horror at its smiling face, so like that of a man's. Its long brown hair slapped at her cheeks and the centaur leaned its head towards hers. She screamed and struck out. The centaur only laughed and flipped her over its shoulder, binding her legs to its chest.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Story Contest- Final Day

Okay, so I am a little late at writing this because I got distracted by a book. Which one, you ask? Well, it was Cress, the novel by Marissa Meyer that does not come out until February. As far as I can tell, I was one of thirty people in America who won an ARC and today I have already read over 200 pages since I got off of work. Soon I will review it to say just how awesome it is.

Now, to the contest. You have through the end of today to send me your answers at lotsofbooks1(at)live(dot)com. Winners will be entered into a drawing for a guest post on my blog, where you can promote your novel, blog, or anythings else that you would like to talk about. Remember that you need to guess what setting and/or characters I have in my newest book from the clues I have provided.

I have decided to extend it through today so that I may offer the opportunity to those at Go Teen Writers. To those of you who have already entered, thank you for your patience.

Here are the clues:
Clue 1
Clue 2
Clue 3
Clue 4
Clue 5

Friday, December 20, 2013

Story Contest- Day 5

Tomorrow is the final reveal. After this clue, please email me at lotsofbooks1(at)live(dot)com with your answer. Those who guess correctly will be sent a link to the drawing.

Last Clue:

The Sinner's Garden- William Sirls

17657644My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: In a small town where hope and tragedy intermingle, things—and people—are not always what they seem.

Andy Kemp has suffered most of his life from both physical and emotional scars, and he believes that the scars on his face are proof that God doesn’t love him. Andy has grown into a withdrawn teenager, keeping to himself, until his uncle, ex-con Gerald Ripley, shows up and wants to be a mentor to Andy. Rip has turned his life around and wants to do everything he can to help mend Andy’s pain and the rift in his relationship with his sister.

Meanwhile, police officer Heather Gerisch responds to a late-night breaking and entering episode in one of the poorest homes in town. The masked man makes the sign of the cross, escapes, and Heather soon realizes that he has left $5,000 in gift cards to a local grocery store. As the bizarre break-ins continue and Heather pursues the elusive “Summer Santa,” Andy begins to hear strange and beautiful music, and Rip is convinced that he is hearing the voice of God.

As the lives and stories of the townspeople of Benning Township intertwine, extraordinary circumstances emerge and long-kept secrets are revealed.

My Thoughts: I think that my heart stopped for moment when I finished reading the prologue. And then I spent the next hour a bit depressed about it. I wish that I could say what happened, but that would ruin the effect.

God is everywhere and in every situation, a fact that is a tough pile to swallow. For anyone, but especially Andy. That message is powerful, and I loved how it was displayed in this book. Each of these characters could have been someone I knew. They lived in real life and had real problems. And God showed up in a miraculous way.

I find it a bit difficult to describe why I enjoyed this novel, other than to say that it gave me a lot to think about. And it reminded me to believe just a little bit more; in God, in prayer, and in miracles.

I received this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

New Story Contest

A week ago, I mentioned that I would have a contest for you all to guess a major component of my newest story. Today, that contest starts.

For the rest of the week, I will post pictures that are clues to the component. At the end of the week, whoever guesses correctly will be entered into a drawing to win a guest post spot on my blog. The winner can post about anything book or blog related.

This component is not a theme or a plot. It has to do with characters and setting.

Here is the first clue:

Also, writing tips have been postponed until after Christmas.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Harvest of Rubies- Tessa Afshar

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: The prophet Nehemiah's cousin can speak numerous languages, keep complex accounts, write on rolls of parchment and tablets of clay, and solve great mysteries. There is only one problem: she is a woman.

In her early childhood years, Sarah experienced the death of her mother and her father's subsequent emotional distance and she came to two conclusions: that God does not care about her, and that her accomplishments are the measure of her worth - the measure of her self.

Sarah, the talented scribe and cousin to Nehemiah, is catapulted into the center of the Persian court, working too many hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and solving intrigues for the Queen. Ironically, it isn't failure but success that causes Sarah to lose her only source of external validation.

Sarah soon learns that she has something of worth to offer beyond her ability with languages and sums - her very being proves to be a blessing to others particularly the aristocrat, Darius, she was given to in marriage.

Sarah and Darius' story continues in Harvest of Gold. Darius may be able to learn to love his wife, but can he ever learn to trust Sarah and her Lord?

My Thoughts: This is my second time reading this novel, which just shows how much I love it. Sarah is one of the most relatable characters I have ever read. So many often, I have felt just as she does, that the only thing that makes me worth anything is what I can do for other people, not who I am. That people would only want me around if they could get something from me. So when Sarah worries about being good enough at her job, and then being good enough as a wife, I understood what her fear felt like.

Sarah's encounters with others through out the book, and particularly Darius, are hilarious. Both times reading it, I found myself laughing out loud and had wave off questions from my family as to what was so funny.

I am glad that I now have this book for my collection, because I will be reading it many times in the future.

I received this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Five Glass Slippers- A message from Anne Elisabeth

Dear imps and creative writers various . . . I'm interrupting the Veiled Rose read-along briefly (today's post on chapter 8 can still be found below) with a quick announcement for the Five Glass Slippers Creative Writing Contest.

The deadline is quickly approaching, and I have lots of stories pouring in. So I want to remind those of you still working hard at your stories that you need to get your submission forms to me before December 31st. Even if you are writing on your story right up until the last day of the deadline, the submission forms need to be on my desk in advance.

As long as your submission form is postmarked on or before December 31st, I will still receive your stories on the condition that as soon as I email you your signed copy of the form and ask you to send me your manuscript, you send it within 24 hours. No waiting to tweak it into the first weeks of January. Anything that isn't sent into me right away will (sadly!) have to be disqualified in order to maintain fairness to all of the writers participating.

So get those forms to me ASAP, and have your stories ready to go! I am very eager to read them. All of the submissions have been quite wonderful, and I continue to be tremendously impressed by each new story coming in. The editors at Rooglewood Press are going to have a crazy time trying to narrow it down just five winners!

Author Interview- Heather Manning

I first met Heather through a common author facebook page, and then found out that she was also a member of Go Teen Writers. Since then, I have been able to congratulate her on being published at the age of 16! To celebrate her book's release, I thought I would interview her and tell you guys about her new book.

Lady Eden Trenton never wanted to leave her privileged existence in London—until her father invites a dangerous suitor into her life. Left with few options, Eden devises the best reprieve she can: escape. Chasing freedom, she stows away aboard a pirate ship, praying she will gain her independence in the colonies before she is discovered by the nefarious crew. 

Captain Caspian Archer has spent the last five years hardening his heart and searching to exact revenge for the event that tore his life to shreds. When he catches word that his enemy is residing in Jamaica, Caspian steers his ship toward the colonies in all haste. His plans soon change, however, when he discovers the young beauty hiding in his ship’s hold.

Cut from the only lives they have known, Caspian and Eden are pulled together as each pursues a fresh hope upon the sea.

Author Bio: Heather Manning is a young lady who loves to read—and write. She has won multiple competitions for her writing with “Nextgen Writers” and placed first in some writing contests with the “Go Teen Writers” blog and is a proud member of ACFW. She lives in Missouri where she attends high school, acts in community theatre, eats donuts and reads every Inspirational Historical Romance she can get her hands on. 

 Hi, Heather! Thank you for coming today.

Thank you so much for having me! 

Is there anything that you would like to tell us about your new book? 

Well, I would like to tell you that I hope you like it! It is an inspirational historical romance about a young aristocratic lady who stows away on a pirate ship to escape marriage to an abusive fiancé. 

 What gave you the idea for this story? 

I am not certain exactly where I got my idea, but I know I was reading other books in a similar genre. I wanted to create something of my own like that, so I did. I also wanted to base a trilogy around three best friends and their adventures in the Caribbean. The rest just came as I worked on it. 

Who is your favorite character and why? 

Don’t make me choose between my babies! LOL. I think my favorite character would be Eden, just because I “spent so much time with her.” I sometimes feel like she is a close friend. Now you probably think I am crazy. Also, Reed, Caspian’s little son, is my other favorite character because he is absolutely adorable. 

Why did you decide to write this genre? 

I decided to write in this genre because it is what I read. I think it kind of just…is me. I write inspirational because I am a Christian, and I write historical romance because I adore history and romance. I could spend all my days studying history and examining historical houses. 

You have been published at a very young age. What is that like? 

It is very interesting. I hope it will be good for me and give me a chance to have a long career. I have been treated a little differently in normal life. Now people who knew I write are kind of shocked and happy for me and just treat me differently. It is really interesting. Adults who once kind of just laughed at my “hobby” of writing now are very surprised. It is also interesting to get all of my publishing stuff and writing done while I have school, but I suppose that it would be the same for anyone who has a job, so it is not different too much in that aspect. 

Do you have any suggestions for other teen writers? 

My suggestions would be to read, read, read, and write, write, write. That is what will help you. I also would suggest that other writers go to writers’ conferences. The information and connections found there are absolutely invaluable to writers young and not as young. 

 And my favorite question, has anything in your novel ever happened to you? 

Hmm, let me think. Well, I know that in one scene I have Eden get knocked out. I think the description in this is pretty accurate because right before I wrote it I felt like fainting one day. Aimee’s fear of rodents is somewhat based in my sometimes-nonexistent-sometimes-extremely-existent fear of creepy crawly bugs. Also, the many instances where Eden hits her head on things is based on my dear sister who has accidentally hit her head more times than I can remember.
Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Burning Sky- Lori Benton

My Rating:  4.5 Stars

Description:  Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life with the People. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path. Feeling obliged to nurse his injuries, the two quickly find much has changed during her twelve-year absence—her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.

When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal botanist who does not fit into in her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure.

Willa is a woman caught between two worlds. As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman called Burning Sky must find a new courage--the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again.

My Thoughts:  I absolutely love books with Indians, so you can imagine how excited I was to see this book up for review. And completely met my expectations. Willa is a woman who spent twelve years with the Mohawks and during that time, she learned the good and the bad of both the reds and whites. Neil is a man who has suffered at the hands of the Indians, but still finds it in him to forgive. And Joseph...he won me over in the beginning just by being full blooded Indian and a possible love interest. I am shocked by how rarely that happens.

This book was beautifully depicted and immediately captivating. If not for school and work, I probably would have finished it in only a couple of days. You could feel the seasons and the dirt on Willa's skin. You felt her pain and the men's frustration. Lovely is the only way that I can describe it.

Toward the end I felt that it took a little too long to get to the resolution, but I loved it enough to continue on. Hopefully, Lori will have another book like coming soon.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gratitude Giveaway Winners!

Over the course of this giveaway, Backing Books passed 100 followers! There are now 129 of you who receive updates when I post. And all of you are awesome.

Now, I am sure that you are wondering who won. So, without further ado....

  Susan Schleicher  you have won Goddess Tithe.

  Carolyn Johnson  you have won Winter in Full Bloom.

Both winners have claimed their prize. Thank you all you entered!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Writing Tip- Simply Put

How do you explain something you have never seen, that has never been, that never will be? How do you make it live and breath? How to make it feel?


It is always tempting to over explain, over describe what you want the reader to see, especially if it is something you made up yourself. It is not because you are bad at writing, but that it, what ever it is, is so ingrained and implanted in your writing spirit that you want the read to see and feel it just as you do.

Ocean wave ~ By Sad
But over describing can ruin the effect that you were going for.

I was struck with this realization the other day while reading Goddess Tithe by Anne Elizabeth Stengl. In the novella, she has to describe the goddess, a creature of the sea. One description has stuck with me ever since. One sentence, "The sea was her hair", in the midst of many, but I still remember it. What was so powerful about it? That in the middle of an action scene, the first glimpse of the goddess, it manages to describe so much with so little.

In few words, it told me exactly what I needed to know.

I could see the waves, billowing and flowing as hair, sea spray flying. And all because Anne Elisabeth was able to set up what the sea meant. It was chaos and fright, beauty and mystery.

Sometimes to wax eloquently about your subject is needed, to give a detailed description. But art comes when you know when to say nothing at all.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Goddess Tithe- Anne Elisabeth Stengl

18458653My Rating: 4 Stars


When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya's only hope to return safely home.

Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown's garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?

My Thoughts: This story goes into one of Lionheart's adventures during his travels that is not described in the novels. Though it is told from Munny's perspective, Lionheart is a central character. The moment I realized that he was in this novella, I think I might have screamed... and scared my dog.

The new culture described in this novella, that of seafarers, was amazing and added a new depth to the world of The Tales of Goldstone World. The action was brilliant and some of Lionheart's comments were hilarious.

My one complaint was that it was not long enough. There were a few things that felt as though they should have been explained better or had their own plot twist (the peonies for example). Perhaps they will make an appearance in a later novel? (Looks as Anne Elisabeth in question).

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Until That Distant Day- Cover Reveal

Paris, France


Colette DeMer and her brother Pascoe are two sides of the same coin, dependent upon one another in the tumultuous world of the new Republic. Together they labor with other leaders of the sans-culottes to ensure freedom for all the downtrodden men and women of France.

But then the popular uprisings turn bloody and the rhetoric proves false. Suddenly, Colette finds herself at odds with Pascoe and struggling to unite her fractured family against the lure of violence. 

Charged with protecting an innocent young woman and desperately afraid of losing one of her beloved brothers, Colette doesn’t know where to turn or whom to trust as the bloodshed creeps ever closer to home.

Until that distant day when peace returns to France, can she find the strength to defend her loved ones . . . even from one another?


Coming April 25, 2014


Until That Distant Day

Opening of Chapter 1

I was born believing that the world was unfair and that I was the person to make it right. 

One of my earliest memories is of Papa setting me atop a nail keg in the forge; I could not have been older than two at the time.

“Colette, give Papa a kiss,” he said, tapping his cheek.


“Come and sit on my knee.”


My response to every order was the same, asked with genuine curiosity. I did not understand why his watching friends chuckled. Why should I press my lips to Papa’s sweaty, prickly cheek? Why should I hop down from the keg, where he had just placed me, and run to sit on his knee, a most uncomfortable perch? I felt justified in requesting a reason for each abrupt order, yet he never bothered to give me one.

Mama, when thus questioned, provided an answer in the form of a sharp swat. This I could respect as definitive authority, although the reasoning behind it remained dubious.

My little brother Pascoe was born believing that the world was his to command. As soon as he acquired his first vocabulary word, “No,” he and I joined ranks in defiance of established authority.

Many impediments cluttered the path of destiny in those early years: parents, thirteen other siblings, physical ailments, and educational difficulties. And as we grew into adulthood, more serious matters intervened, even parting us for a time. But I will speak more of that later. For now, let me assure you that, no matter the obstacles thrown in our way, our sibling bond seemed indissoluble; the love between us remained unaffected by any outside relationship.

Pascoe and I were young adults when revolutionaries in Paris threw aside the tyranny of centuries and established a new government based on the Rights of Man. From the seclusion of our little village in Normandy we rejoiced over each battle fought and won; and when our local physician, Doctor Hilliard, who had first mentored then employed Pascoe for several years, was elected as deputy to the National Assembly from our district, a whole new world opened at our feet. 

My story truly begins on a certain day in the spring of 1792, in the little domain I had made for myself in the kitchen at the back of Doctor Hilliard’s Paris house. Perhaps it wasn’t truly my domain, for it did not belong to me. I was merely the doctor’s housekeeper and could lay no real claim. Nevertheless, the kitchen was more mine than anything had ever been, and I loved that small, dark room; especially during the hours when sunlight slanted through the bubbled-glass kitchen windows, making bright, swirling shapes on the whitewashed walls, or each evening when I arranged my latest culinary creation on a platter and left it in the warming oven for the doctor to discover whenever he arrived home. That kitchen was my home. Not the home I had grown up in, but the home I had always craved.

On that particular day, however, it did not feel the safe haven I had always believed it to be. Loud voices drifted down from the upper floor where the doctor and Pascoe were in conference, disturbing my calm. When I closed the connecting door to the dining room, the angry voices drifted in through the open kitchen windows. I couldn’t close the windows; I might smother of heat. Yet I needed to block out the sound, to make it stop.

So I slipped a filet of sole into a greased skillet and let it brown until golden on both sides. The hiss and sizzle did not quite cover the shouting, but it helped. Then I slid the fish onto a waiting plate lined with sautéed vegetables fresh from my kitchen garden; and I topped all with an herbed wine-and-butter sauce. A grind of fresh pepper finished off my creation.

But my hands were still trembling, and I felt as if something inside me might fall to pieces.

Pascoe often shouted. Shouting was part of his fiery nature, a normal event. He shouted when he gave speeches at section meetings. He shouted about overcooked meals or inferior wines. He shouted when his lace jabot refused to fall into perfect folds.

But never before had I heard Doctor Hilliard raise his voice in anger.

Doctor Hilliard was never angry. Doctor Hilliard never displayed emotion. At most, he might indicate approval by the glance of a benevolent eye or disapprobation by the merest lift of a brow. Yet there could be no mistaking the two furious voices overhead. I well knew Pascoe’s sharp tenor with its sarcastic edge; but now I also heard the doctor’s resonant voice crackling with fury.

I managed to slide the hot plate into the warmer alongside a crusty loaf of bread and closed the door, using a doubled towel to protect my shaking hands. 

Behind me the connecting door was flung open, and Pascoe burst in as I spun to face him. “Gather your things; we are leaving,” he growled. His eyes blazed in his pale face, and the jut of his jaw allowed for no questions. He clapped his tall hat on his head as he passed through the room.

I donned my bonnet and sabots and picked up my parasol. “What has happened?” I asked just above a whisper.

“I’ll tell you once we are away from this house.” His lips snapped tight. His chest heaved with emotion, and he grasped a portfolio so tightly that his fingers looked white.

I could not recall the last time I had seen my brother in such a rage.

Jill Stengl is the author of numerous romance novels including Inspirational Reader's Choice Award- and Carol Award-winning Faithful Traitor, and the bestselling novella, Fresh Highland Heir. She lives with her husband in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, where she enjoys her three cats, teaching a high school English Lit. class, playing keyboard for her church family, and sipping coffee on the deck as she brainstorms for her next novel.

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