Monday, June 30, 2014

Writing Tip- To Go Verbs

There are so many ways to say that a character went some where. In fact, there are over a hundred. Yet we often get stuck on one or two such words, using them over and over again. A while back I found a work sheet that helps with this. It is called "162 ways to say went", and I printed out a copy and taped it up next to my computer. Now, when I am looking for that right word, I just have to glance at the sheet to find it.

This sheet is free to download. All you have to do is make an account with the website and click the download button. I hope you find it useful!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Interview with Ashlee Willis

Ashlee is the author of Word Changers. Today she stops by to interview with Backing Books. Please comment thanking her and asking any questions you may have.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a daughter of God, first and foremost. I’m also the mother of the smartest, sweetest 7-year-old boy in the world, and the wife of a soccer-playing grown-up-boy whose plain sense tends to balance out my own character extremes! I was born and raised in mid-Missouri, and am a country girl. I love forest rambles, tree climbing, cozy chats with friends, and reading in bed. Oh, and I also crochet … I crochet a lot!! Usually while watching the BBC.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since around the age of 9 or 10. It began with songs and poems and short stories, then I wrote my first full-length book when I was about 12. It wasn’t any good, of course! But it gave me the true writing bug, and I’ve never stopped since!

What gave you the inspiration for The Word Changers?

Many things. Books themselves are what started the idea for the story in my imagination. They are portals to other worlds for readers … so why not make a book a true portal for someone to fall into and get lost within? Then God took that idea and made it something bigger – something about Him, His love for us and the Story called Life that He has written us all into.

Do you have a character that you relate to the most?

I relate to Posy, my main character, quite closely. She comes from a broken home, she has a sister she feels very protectively toward. She is unsure of herself and yet determined at the same time. Determined to find a way through the darkness that surrounds her … I’ve been in that place many times!

Has anything ever happened to you in real life that occurred in your novel?

Hmm … let’s see. There are a few things I wish had! Posy’s inner self is much like I was at her age. And though fantastical things happen to her throughout the story, her emotions are ones that, naturally, I acutely understand. Bitterness, anger, a deeper need for love and forgiveness (both given and received). Those are things that are universal, really. So … no, I’ve never been in a battle with owls and centaurs before But yes, I’ve experienced many of the more profound things The Word Changers is about.

Do you have a publishing story?

A bit of one! My story is somewhat backward from most authors’, I think. Most get an agent first and then a publisher. But I got a positive response from a publisher before I even had an agent (I was querying both at the time). I didn’t feel comfortable working on contracts and editing alone, so I took a chance and sent an email to my top-choice agent (what did I have to lose?), before I signed the publishing contract. And she said yes! Needless to say, it was a very exciting couple of weeks for me!

Here at Backing Books, we do Writing Tips. Do you happen to have a tip for my readers?

I’ve learned many things through the years about writing. One of the most important ones is to trust yourself, and to trust your story. Sometimes I will be writing along at a good rate, then come to an unexpectedly difficult place. A place where, in fact, I’m completely stuck. I just don’t feel the passion for my story anymore. Even though I know what’s going to happen in the scene, the words just don’t come. For a writer, that can be a scary place. Even something so small as that can make you begin to lose faith in your story or in your ability as a writer. What I’ve learned through the years is to not trust that passion. Don’t get me wrong; it’s great while it’s there – use it. But if it leaves – no big deal! It doesn’t mean your story stinks. It doesn’t mean you’re a horrible writer. It just means that today, with this chapter, or with this scene, you’ll need to make it through on pure willpower. And willpower, effort, determination … those things just might bring that passion back again. They always do for me. And your story will be stronger because of it.

Ashlee has a passion for three things: God, family, and books, and is happiest when all three can be enjoyed together.  Ashlee graduated from Central Christian College of the Bible with a Bachelor of Science in Christian Education. She divides her time chiefly between homeschooling her young son, reading about fantasy worlds she wishes she could visit, and dreaming up fantasy worlds of her own to write about. She loves taking walks in the woods, drinking tea with friends, and spending time with the ones she loves most.  Ashlee lives in the heart of Missouri with her husband, son, and cat, where she is busily at work on her next book, also a fantasy for young adults.

Find Ashlee on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads, or email her at

Monday, June 23, 2014

Four Weddings and a Kiss

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: In 1885 five western preachers sit around a campfire talking about unlikely couples they've seen God bring together.

“Spitfire Sweetheart” by Mary Connealy

Maizy MacGregor's reckless ways injured rancher Rylan Carstens, endangering his livelihood. So she signs on as his caregiver--but just until he's well enough to run his ranch. Maizy's tender care soon has Rylan falling hard and fast. Can these two willful souls give up their solitary ways to embrace love?

“A Love Letter to the Editor” by Robin Lee Hatcher

Molly Everton writes the most popular features in her town's newspaper. When newcomer Jack Ludgrove is named the new editor, Molly is flabbergasted. She wants the position for herself and will do what it takes to get it. But Jack is not easily intimidated. He’s determined to change Molly's mind about him--and win her heart too.

“A Cowboy for Katie” by Debra Clopton

After the tornado, Katie Pearl must rebuild her ranch. But she can't do it on her own. Treb Rayburn is a cowboy with a serious case of wanderlust. He signs on to help Katie so he can afford a new horse. But once Treb gets to know Katie, will his desire to stay drown the call of the open road?

“Courting Trouble” by Margaret BrownleyGrace Davenport is a young widow in a heap of trouble. When her son asks attorney Brock Daniels to take on her case, Brock plans to say no. But then he meets the lovely Grace. As Brock and the boy work to free Grace, Brock discovers that her arrest may be the best thing that's ever happened to him.

My Thoughts:Four Weddings and a Kiss was a delightful read. The frame style is one that I have only seen once before, but I thought it worked really well for this collection of stories. I found Spitfire Sweetheart to be funny and cheered for Maizy when she stood up for herself. A Love Letter to the Editor was completely Hatcher's style and a great sample of her work. A Cowboy for Katie turned out to be truly sweet, while Courting Trouble had a good sense of danger for such a short read.

This collection held great themes, as well as the over arching theme that God can bring together the most unlikely of people and use them to his glory. I look forward to reading the next collection by these four authors (hopefully they will write another).

I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Four Weddings and a Kiss Margaret Brownly Robin Lee Hatcher Mary Connealy Debra Clopton

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Word Changers- Ashlee Willis

Description: Her parents’ marriage is falling apart. Fifteen-year-old Posy feels her life is falling apart with it. Retreating to an old library down the street, she selects a mysterious book in a secluded corner and is magically drawn into its story...

Posy finds herself in a kingdom ruled by a cruel and manipulative king and queen who have attempted to usurp the role that belongs only to the Author of their story. The princess has fled and the kingdom is teetering toward rebellion. Posy is joined by the Prince Kyran as they fight with the characters of the story against their slavery to the Plot.

Posy and the prince search beyond the borders of the story for the runaway princess. They visit mysterious places, face horrifying monsters, and fight fierce battles. They make both friends and enemies as their journey leads them into many dangers. But some of the worst dangers, Posy soon finds, lie deep within her own heart.

Now Posy must find the courage and forgiveness needed to save the story and, most important, heal the heartache she knew in her own world.

My Thoughts: Word Changers deals with an interesting premise, that characters live in there books and have their own lives, but come to reenact the Plot of there book when a reader appears. Posy is just one such reader, but this time she enters the story as well.

I enjoyed Ashlee's premise and the allegory she portrays. It is fascinating that the characters might be living in their books (and makes me afraid to read any of my favorites where the characters dies for fear of hurting the characters ).

Yet there were some things I felt I was supposed to just except, like the fact that no one would say what was going on in the beginning. It frustrates me when characters are evasive. Still, the story was original and a great read for anyone who loves stories with a fairy tail feel and allegory.

I was given this book in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway:  Goodreads has a giveaway until June 23nd!

Media Links:

Monday, June 16, 2014

I'm Nobody- Alex Marestaing

My Rating: 5 Stars

Description: Emily meets Caleb, Caleb meets Iris, and a gray world turns Technicolor.

Agoraphobic Caleb Reed is about to step outside for the first time in seven years, meet indie filmmaker Iris Elliott…and definitely not fall in love. It’s all because of the notes, the weird and wonderful notes he keeps finding on his front porch, notes signed by someone claiming to be long dead poet Emily Dickinson. Caleb’s parents think he’s losing his mind, but he knows they’re wrong. Something’s going on outside – something strange, something terrifying …something beautiful.

My Thoughts: The first of all teen years are a frightening time, with the world and one's self changing. For Caleb, life is even more fearful, with anything out of the ordinary a threat. I found his story enthralling and perfect for preteens exploring their world. Or adults rediscovering it.

I received this book through Litfuse in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Ransom- MaryLu Tyndall

My Rating: 4 Stars

Description: Port Royal, Jamaica 1692

Living in a city deemed the wickedest in the world is no easy task for Miss Juliana Dutton. To make matters worse, with an ailing father and a drunken fool for a brother, she is forced to take over the running of the family business in order to survive. When a meddlesome suitor threatens to discover her secret and cast them all onto the streets, she agrees to a spurious engagement with the town buffoon, Lord Munthrope. She only hopes the man is trustworthy.

The Pirate Earl, Alexander Hyde, son of the infamous Captain Edmund Merrick Hyde, is the most feared pirate in Port Royal. Disillusioned with the religion of his parents and the pleasures of the world, Alex staves off his emptiness by leading a dual life to hide his deepest secrets.

A long-time enemy is out to destroy Alex and take Juliana for his own. Struggling to maintain her faith in the Divine, Juliana faces her problems bravely, but the harder she tries, the more it seems everything is working against her. Unwittingly, she and her weak fiancé become entangled in the hostility between the Pirate Earl and his enemy, while even more dangerous forces are rising up to destroy them all.

My Thoughts: I was overcome with joy the moment I found out MaryLu was writing a story about Captain Merrick's son. I had loved Merrick's story and could not wait to see the family legacy. Alex was an interesting character, what with his living a double life, but his back story and that of his parents' lives after their books left me so disgusted with them that I wanted to club Merrick with his cutlass.

As I said, Alex was a fantastic male lead. I think that in the end I liked his role as "Munny" better than his life as the Pirate Earl, but that is just a preference on my part. Munny had me cracking up and I wished that Alex had the same wit (though not the same attitude) when acting as the pirate.

The Ransom was a delightful romp through Port Royal. As a stand alone story, I am sure I would have loved it completely.

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

Monday, June 9, 2014

Shadow Hand- Anne Elisabeth Stengl

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Description: She will take your own two hands
to save your ancient, sorrowing lands.

By her father's wish, Lady Daylily is betrothed to the Prince of Southlands. Not the prince she loves, handsome and dispossessed Lionheart, but his cousin, the awkward and foolish Prince Foxbrush. Unable to bear the future she sees as her wedding day dawns, Daylily flees into the dangerous Wilderlands, her only desire to vanish from living memory.

But Foxbrush, determined to rescue his betrothed, pursues Daylily into a new world of magic and peril, a world where vicious Faerie beasts hold sway, a world invaded by a lethal fey parasite . . . .

A world that is hauntingly familiar.

My Thoughts: The world of Goldstone world only becomes more complex and wondrous with every book. In Shadow Hand, we meet so many characters and learn so many secrets of the South Lands that it is nearly too many to take in. Which makes it seem all the more real and adventurous. At first, I struggled to understand what was going on with Daylily and the Bronze, but once I figured it out, I was completely taken with the story.

Shadow Hand follows the paths of Daylily and Foxbrush. It also brings back the paths of Lionheart, Sun Eagle (!), and our favorite bard Eanrin. Were many novels with the many POVs can feel overloaded, Anne Elisabeth manages to make it all fit together like a masterful puzzle.

As I said, I did struggle at first with Daylily's story because I could not make sense of what was happening to her. But once I did, it was more than worth it.

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

Friday, June 6, 2014

Realm Makers 2014

So I returned from Realm Maker's yesterday, and I had a lot of fun. I got to meet Tosca Lee, Jeff Gerke, and Steve Laube, along with many others. As promised, here are some photos:

 The Costume Dinner:

These were two of my roommates. Left to Right is Lisa Godfree, Michelle Wood (who was promoting Outrider. You should check it out), and then myself.

Left to right: Katie Morford and Amy Williams from Crosshair Press, Kerry Nietz, and Jeff Gerke.

And then myself with Tosca Lee!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Dream Treaders- Wayne Thomas Batson

Description: Book #1 in a trilogy from fantasy author Wayne Thomas Batson explores the concept of dreams and their effects on us.

People are fascinated by dreams, and the Bible has a great deal to say about them. From Jacob's dream of the heavenly stairway in Genesis 28 to angels visiting Joseph during dreams in Matthew 1 to the Apostle John's "waking dream" from which he obtained the book of Revelation--dreams have been powerful ingredients of God's plan as revealed through Scripture.

Fourteen-year-old Archer Keaton discovers he has the ability to enter and explore his dreams. He is a "dreamtreader," one of three selected from each generation. Their mission: to protect the waking world from the Nightmare Lord, who wreaks chaos in the Dream World. But as Archer's dreams become more dangerous and threatening, so too does his waking life.

Rigby Thames, the new kid from England, builds a suspicious rock star-like following at Dresden High School a little too quickly. Even Archer's best friend and confidant, Kara Windchil, seems taken in by the cool guy with the wild blond hair, which definitely rubs Archer the wrong way. Archer must face two foes in two worlds, but he cannot succeed alone. Archer sets off to find other dreamtreaders in a desperate attempt to defeat the enemy terrorizing his friends and family.

My Thoughts:  Dreamtreaders is perfect for preteens. It contains a fascinating story world, full of action and imagination. Archer's adventures would have filled all of my daydreams if I had read this when I was younger.

For my own preference, I wish that some of the back story had been sprinkled out a bit more. Yet, as Juvenile fiction, I believe it well meets the needs of its main audience.

In conjunction with the CSFF Blog Tour, I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

Find out more:
Author Page


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Five Enchanted Roses- Cover Reveal

Rooglewood Press is delighted to introduce their second fairy tale novella contest—

Five Enchanted Roses

a collection of “Beauty and the Beast” stories
The challenge is to write a retelling of the beloved fairy tale in any genre or setting you like. Make certain your story is recognizably “Beauty and the Beast,” but have fun with it as well. Make it yours!

Rooglewood Press will be selecting five winners to be published in the Five Enchanted Roses collection, which will be packaged up with the gorgeous cover you see displayed here. Perhaps your name will be one of the five displayed on this cover?

All the contest rules and information (how to enter, story details, deadline etc.) may be found on the Rooglewood Press website. Just click HERE and you will go right to the page.

Rooglewood Press’s first collection, Five Glass Slippers, is available for pre-order now and will be released on June 14. Do grab yourself a copy and see what these talented writers have done with the timeless “Cinderella” tale!

Cover Illustration Credit:
This cover illustration was rendered by Julia Popova, “ForestGirl.” You can find out more about this gifted artist on her website: