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BOOK SERIES - LOVED, DISLIKED, AND WANTED

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I have never really noticed this about myself before, but I have read a surprisingly small amount of book series. It's not that I don't enjoy them, but they need to be real good for me to invest the time in. I just recently finished the Me Before You series (I know, I'm way late) and I loved it so much that I thought I'd dedicate an entire blog post to book series - the ones I've loved, the ones I've not-so-loved, and the ones I want to get my hands on.



SERIES I'VE LOVED

  • HARRY POTTER || I'm 99.99% I don't even need to add anything here. The Sorcerer's Stone was one of the first books I ever read, and the series will always be a favorite of mine. #harrypotterforever
  • ME BEFORE YOU || I know that I am one of the last people ever to read this series, but oh my, I'm so glad I did! I fell so hard for Louisa Clark in the first book, then continued to fall as I read the other books in the series. She is one character that I so wish were real so we could be friends in real life. As far as I know, the series is done. But if Moyes ever releases more, I'll be her first customer.
  • THE GOOD WOMAN || I accidentally read this series out of order. I found Porter's book The Good Wife in the clearance section of a book store and took a chance on it. I enjoyed it so much that I looked at the library for more of her work and what do you know...it's part of a series! I still need to read The Good Daughter, but I thoroughly enjoyed the other two books in the series. (**fyi...there are a few x-rated scenes in The Good Woman that I didn't feel comfortable reading and skipped over.)
  • THE HESITANT HEIRESS || I'm so honored that I'm able to say that I know Dawn Crandall in real life! We used to attend church together, and she was so, so, so helpful in answering all of my questions when I released my first book. Dawn's books are written in historical fiction format, and she has a true talent of making you feel like you are standing in a wide, beautiful dress right along with the rest of her characters. Bonus: Dawn is a Christian author, too!
  • A TIME TO DANCE || This book was the first of many that I would read by Karen Kingsbury. Now one of my favorite authors, Kingsbury's books are all over my personal bookshelf. Her stories are full of hope, romance, and faith - just a few of my favorite things. A Time to Dance quickly became a favorite of mine, and although I haven't read all of Kingsbury's books, I'm working on it. 😉

SERIES I'VE NOT-SO-LOVED

  • TWILIGHT || I know, I know, I know. I'm terrible. But this is one series that I never could get into. They weren't badly written, but I'm a hard sell when it comes to fantasy fiction (other than HP, obviously), and I just couldn't with these.
  • THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO || Again, I know. You're probably beginning to question what kind of book blogger I am, ha! But I honestly didn't make it past the first few chapters in this one. I wanted to love it...but I didn't. I was so bored that I did something I never do - closed the book before finishing. Feel free to unfollow me now. 😬


SERIES I WANT TO GET MY HANDS ON

  • THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA || I had a family friend give me this series years and years ago, and I have yet to read them. They're classics, which is why I think I'll give them a go despite my wariness of fantasies.
  • TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE || Apparently this series is becoming a huge hit around both the reading world and the Netflix world?? I need to read it - pronto.
  • THE KISS QUOTIENT || I've seen dozens of reviews of this series on social media this summer and they've talked me into starting them asap!
  • THE BAXTER FAMILY || Another Karen Kingsbury series that I have heard the best things about. I'm anxious to dive into this series, and I have a feeling I'm going to love it just like all of her other novels.

You already know what I'm going to say - leave some more series recommendations in the comments below!

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FREE BOOK OUTLINE FOR FICTION NOVELS

Hey, writer! If you've found yourself here, I'm going to guess that you're thinking about writing a book. First of all, HIGH-FREAKING-FIVE. You're about to do some big things and I'm proud of you. Second, I have something for you that I think might make starting your book a little easier.

"Where do I start??"

Once I had made the decision to write my first book, I had no idea where to begin. Characters? Chapter outline? The title? It honestly took me weeks to start my book because I had no clue where to start.

I want to save you that time by gifting you the outline that I follow when starting a book. It's only one page - it's simple for a reason. I've found that the simpler my outline is, the easier it is for my ideas to flow. Ninety-percent of the time when I start a segment of my book, I change it to go in a different direction...then again when I reread it...then again when I edit it. For me, I find it most efficient to start simple, then elaborate from there.


In my outline, I cover the basics from beginning to end. Once the outline is filled out with my starter ideas, I then move on to the best part: writing my book.

Remember: you can't edit what you don't have written. Your first draft is just that - a draft. Write your heart out, then go back and make it your best.


"I'll take one free outline, please!"

To download my personal outline for absolutely free, all you need to do is enter your email in the space provided below (for my eyes only, I promise), then the outline will be sent directly to your inbox.






** Note: This outline is intended for fiction novels. Non-fiction writing goes a bit differently; chapter outlines are usually more helpful than they are for fiction novels. THIS blog post is incredibly helpful for non-fiction outlining and writing.

Looking for more info about writing a book? Check out the following blog posts:


WHAT I'M READING || AUGUST 2019

Hey there! Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, which allow me to support my website and writing career. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon!


Hey, friends! I'm back with another "What I'm Reading", and this month's reads had me a little bummed. High hopes were not met. But book reviews are the best of both worlds, so I'm sharing them anyway. Scroll down to see my thoughts about this month's reads (I think you'll be surprised at which one was my favorite!).




WINTER IN PARADISE BY ELIN HILDERBRAND ||

Stars: 4

Thoughts: I have seen the name Elin Hilderbrand allllll over my social media lately. The reviews I've seen made me anxious to pick up one of her books asap, especially before the end of summer. Being the first time I've read one of Hilderbrand's novels, I had high hopes. But...I was a tad disappointed.

Let me start by saying that the storyline was really interesting. It was a refreshing twist on the "secret family" plot. But...it was a struggle to get to that point for me. I've said this before, but I have a really difficult time with too many character point-of-views, and I was totally lost in the beginning. I almost felt like I needed a notepad and a pen to keep track of the characters and their significance in the story. I'm one that likes to get to know one or two characters in depth, maybe three if they're really interesting. I also felt like the start was a bit slow, even though a significant event happens in the very beginning. Call me crazy, but the first few chapters of the book just didn't hit the mark for me.

BUT...(I know, a lot of buts) once I got through the beginning, it was worth the time. I found myself saying, "OKAY, BUT WHAT HAPPENED?" over and over again. Of course, the book ends with a major cliffhanger, which is a genius move for Hilderbrand since this is the first book of a series.

Overall, it was good. Will I read the next book in the series? Probably. Will I read any other of Hilderbrand's novels? Maybe.

Side note: I did really, really love the cover. It made me yearn to be on a crystal clear beach in the middle of nowhere (but not for the reasons Irene was, obviously).


SAFE HARBOUR BY DANIELLE STEEL ||

Stars: 2

Thoughts: Yikes...I don't think I've ever given a book two stars before. I really, really wanted to love this book. In my last book review post, I gave another Steel novel five stars. I was expecting another five-star novel with Safe Harbour.

But this was not it for me. I hate saying anything bad about books because as an author, I know how much those negative reviews sting. But the best way I can say how I felt about this book was that it was, unfortunately, boring. I almost never not finish a book, but I seriously thought about it with this one. 

I will say the ending was a serious, "Whoa, what? Did that just happen??" It was the best part of the book.

We'll see how the next Steel novel goes for me.


TRUE COLORS BY KRISTIN HANNAH ||

Stars: 2.5

Thoughts: Okay, I feel like a real jerk now because I've given less than three stars two times in a row. But I found myself in the middle of another slower-paced novel with this one, and I don't do well in slow-paced novels.

This book is long. Like almost-500 pages long. There is a lot of meat to this book. It's a great deal to take in. There is an element of suspense with a small-town murder that tears two of the main characters apart and that part was interesting to me. But I think the book still would have been interesting if it would have been trimmed down a bit.

I'm happy I found out what happened at the end, but I don't think I'll reread it.


THE CONFESSION BY JOHN GRISHAM ||

Stars: 5

Thoughts: I'm redeeming my lack of stars with this book! Remember when I said you'd be surprised at which one of these four was my favorite? Well, if you're not, I sure was. Not because I don't like Grisham (I think he's phenomenal), but because I expected to like the other books better. That aside, this book was very, very good. It's a legal thriller, but with my background in law, I devoured it. Grisham did a spectacular job at leaving the reader needing to know what happens next, and you know that's something I adore. 

The reviews on Goodreads gave this book quite a bit of negativity because it was viewed by some readers as "too political", as it focuses on the death penalty. As an author myself, I know that authors write about all sorts of things, and sometimes that means taking a point-of-view for the novel's sake. I personally don't believe it was Grisham's intention to use the book as a way to speak his opinion about the death penalty, but that's your call to make.



I need to know - have you read any of these? What are your thoughts??


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BIG NEWS FOR "ONE STEP FORWARD"!

My big bookish news is finally here!

If you’re one of my email subscribers, then you’ve already celebrated with me. But if not, it’s time to celebrate now!

There were a lot of guesses that my news was about my second book. Unfortunately, not yet (news coming soon!!). But my news is about “One Step Forward”, my first published novel!

Introducing...the newest book cover for “One Step Forward”! Redesigned from front cover to back cover, the new version of OSF is officially available on Amazon and Kindle!



Sooo, what do you think?? Do you love it as much as I do?!

If you do, I’d absolutely adore it if you’d share this post on whatever social media channel you see it on today (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter)! It’s the easiest way you can support me and my writing (and free, too).

If you need a copy of the new “One Step Forward”, you can purchase one HERE.

Need to read the synopsis before you dive in? Read that HERE.

Want an inside peek? Sign up for my newsletter and get the first two chapters for FREE.

Thank you for all of your support and stayed tuned! More bookish news coming very soon. 😄


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TWENTY BOOKS EVERY MOM SHOULD READ AT LEAST ONCE

Hey there! Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, which allow me to support my website and writing career. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon!

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” 
- Washington Irving


My daughter, Lilli, has been in a "compliment" phase lately. It's one of the best phases she's ever gone through, and I pray she never outgrows it. She said something to me recently that really grasped at my heartstrings. We were cuddling on the couch together, watching whatever television show PBS was airing, and she looked up at me and said:

"You're the best mommy ever."

It's such a simple sentence. We were doing nothing extraordinary. I was not feeding her pounds of chocolate. Our day had not gone any differently than our usual routine. But still, Lilli found my presence to be her favorite in that moment, and her sentence held on to me long after she said it.

I wanted to make a post dedicated to all of the moms that dedicate their rare spare time to reading. Whether you're a mom that needs a little extra encouragement or just looking for something to make you laugh, I hope you can find it here.



FOR THE MOM THAT NEEDS ENCOURAGEMENT





    


FOR THE MOM THAT NEEDS A LAUGH







    


FOR THE MOM THAT NEEDS AN 
EXTRA DOSE OF JESUS





    


FOR THE MOM THAT NEEDS TO 
KNOW SHE'S NOT ALONE



    


FOR THE MOM THAT NEEDS TO 
KNOW THAT SHE'S DOING A GOOD JOB



    


FOR THE MOM THAT NEEDS TO 
CONNECT WITH HER CHILD(REN)



    




You already know what I'm going to say: I LOVE hearing your recommendations! If you have any other motherhood-empowering books, leave them in the comments below so I can check them out!

Ps...be sure to sign up for my newsletter to gain first access to book updates, subscriber-only giveaways, and writer tips! 


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WHAT I'M READING || JULY 2019

Hey there! Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, which allow me to support my website and writing career. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon!


Hello and happy August! I hope this summer had treated you well and that you've read many good books! I certainly have, which is why I'm way behind on publishing reviews! I'm low on time lately (aka always), so let's jump right in with some of what I've read this summer!





LEAVE NO TRACE BY MINDY MEJIA ||

Stars: 3.5

Thoughts: It's interesting, that's for sure. I can't say I've ever read a book with a plot similar to this one. I like the touch of romance throughout the book, and I'm always a fan of twists and turns. If I'm being 100% honest, I read this book at the beginning of summer so I don't remember too much how I felt while reading it (which also means I didn't connect with it like I do with some books). I do know that I enjoyed it, but I'm not dying to read it again.


POWER PLAY BY DANIELLE STEEL

Stars: 5

Thoughts: I've been reading Steel's work quite often lately, and while I've had mixed feelings about some of them, this one was definitely not a miss for me. I'm usually not a fan of too many point-of-views, but Steel nailed the different characters and their own experiences. Fiona was my favorite character; I highly enjoyed her strong sense of self. This book never lacked in drama, but in a good way.


GOODNIGHT NOBODY BY JENNIFER WEINER

Stars: 4.5

Thoughts: This is the second book I've read by Weiner and I enjoyed it more than I enjoyed Who Do You Love? Why? The humor. I laughed-out-loud quite a few times while reading this book, which is rare coming from me. I adored the main character, Kate. She's a mom of three that points out all that's wrong with modern motherhood. She also gets herself tangled in a suburban murder, which is always interesting. Read if you like a good laugh in the face of motherhood and a mystery on top.


TRULY MADLY GUILTY BY LIANE MORIARTY

Stars: 4

Thoughts: I had a lot of people recommend this book to me, and overall, I'm glad I took their advice. This is my first novel by Moriarty and it left me impressed. I turned the pages quickly because I was just dying to know what happened at the cook-out that left such a mark on the guests. The "big secret" shocked me, but not as much as the end. The final few pages even put a tear in the eyes of my pregnant (and hormonal) self.


Let me know if you've read any of these and what you thought of them!

Ps...be sure to sign up for my newsletter to gain first access to book updates, subscriber-only giveaways, and writer tips! 


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JULY 2019 UPDATE

Happy last day of July, friends!

Am I the only one that cannot believe tomorrow is August? I’m not sure which one floors me more: the fact that we’re 8/12 months into the year, or that we only have two-and-a-half months until our little miracle babe is due to make her arrival.

I’m going to go with the second one.

I haven’t done an adequate job with updates this year because, as I’ll touch on below, I’ve been utterly exhausted. I’m playing catch-up with this blog post to give you all the updates: family, home, writing, and everything in-between!

Update #1: Let’s start with a writing update! Things have obviously slowed down since finding out we were expecting earlier this year. I haven’t been sending as many e-mails, my blog needs dusting - even my social media posts have become fewer and fewer. Any free time I have to write almost always goes into my second book, which is coming along, slowly but surely. My goal is to have it released before baby #2 makes her appearance, ‘cause we all know how much time I’ll have when she’s here. :)

Update #2: Speaking of books…that surprise I’ve been hinting at about “One Step Forward”? All of the preparations for said surprise are complete! I’m just waiting for a little somethin’ somethin’ to arrive in the mail before I can announce. Stay tuned!




Update #3: Moving on to…baby! I’m currently 29-weeks pregnant and feeling T.I.R.E.D. Taking care of a high-risk pregnancy, a forever-moving three-year-old, writing a book, renovating…I’d be lying if I said I haven’t fallen asleep in very odd places lately. :) Every symptom is 100% worth it and cherished, even if I burnt dinner a couple days ago because I fell asleep when I sat on the kitchen floor…

Update #4: HOME. You only have to take a glance at my Instagram to know that we’re knee-deep in renovating a 119-year-old farmhouse. We’ve mainly been working on the playroom (see my IG highlights labeled “playroom” to see our progress) and we are so.so.very.close to being finished with it! See below for a little before and after.

BEFORE




CURRENTLY



We’re hoping we can pound out what’s left soon so we can paint Lilli’s bedroom before her sister gets here!


That’s about all the updates I have right now! As I said up above, I haven’t written many blog posts, but here’s a list of the ones I have published recently in case you missed them:








See you all in August!

SEVEN BIBLE STUDY TIPS FOR BUSY BODIES

Hey there! Just so you know, this post contains affiliate links, which allow me to support my website and writing career. Thanks for stopping by and I hope to see you again soon!

Tell me if you can relate:

I'm a born busy-bee. I have a constant need to feel productive. I relate a little too much to the phrase "work-a-holic". I admire to-do lists. Sometimes I struggle being a stay-at-home mom because, at times, it makes me feel unproductive - and dare I say it, at times, bored. I enjoy doing and creating and moving. My brain does not shut off easily.

Sound familiar?

If you're anything like me, then you may know the struggle to sit down and read your Bible and/or do your devotions. It's not because you don't want to, but it's truly difficult to focus your mind, sit still, and rest. Even more so if you have littles around and your free time is rare.

As Christians, we're called to set aside time for our Father (Matthew 6:33). We know we need to. We know the benefit we receive when we rest in Jesus. We know that our time with God takes top priority.

So how do we do it?

My life is busy, even if I wasn't the kind of person who enjoyed being busy. I've had to get creative to get my time in with Jesus and let me tell you, every little bit counts.

Today I'm sharing my top tips for diving into God's word when you struggle to actually dive into God's word.



1.) Find a Bible study that involves note-taking, journaling, and/or answering questions.

One of the number one ways I focus my mind on my Bible study is to find a Bible study that hones my mind by way of writing. I really enjoy studies from The Daily Grace Co., and they hold frequent sales that allow me to stock up. I've also done "Open Your Bible" and "Apples of Gold" that really invoked thought and allowed me to journal those thoughts.

2.) Get a prayer journal.

I can very rarely pray in my head for an extended amount of time and not have my thoughts stray. I've found that I do my very best praying when I'm writing it down because my mind is solely focused on my prayers. Most of the time, I just use a lined notebook like THIS one, but if you're looking for a journal targeted specifically for praying, THIS one and THIS one are both great options!

        


3.) Write out each line of scripture.

This is something I also use my journals for. Any time I'm doing a devotional and a line of scripture is emphasized, I write it down. This helps me focus during my study and it also aids in scripture meditation and memorization.

4.) Use a journaling Bible.

I didn't start out with a journaling Bible, but I'm so glad I invested in one. The wide margins give me space to write out my thoughts, take notes, and even draw. My specific Bible is from In His Name Co., but THIS one and THIS one have the same effect!



5.) Make a list of goals.

I mentioned up above how much I love to-do lists. While I don't want you to view this tip as me suggesting that time with God is just another thing to check off your list, I do want you to have the most effective use of your time with Him, and you can do that by making a list of goals you want to accomplish that day, week, month, etc. Use your journal to write out goals such as: "Read all of Psalms", "Learn How to Study Scripture", "Journal Ten Lines of Scripture", etc.

6.) Listen to worship music while journaling or coloring.

My daughter asked me the other day why I sing when we're listening to "Jesus music". I told her it's because I feel close to Him while I sing. Even if you didn't crack open your Bible, you can still connect with God in other ways. I really love to turn on some "Jesus music", grab some colored pencils, and open a faith-inspired adult coloring book like THIS one and THIS one. It's something I do frequently while my daughter is coloring and allows me to get some extra God-time in.

        

7.) Do a devotion with a friend or with a group.

Some of my favorite devotional times have been while studying the Bible with a friend. I love gaining perspective from another's point-of-view, and it's also a way of keeping accountable. I've studied with both a singular friend and with a group, and I recommend both! 

What are some ways that you study the Bible intentionally? I'd love to hear your tips in the comments!

Ps...have you signed up for my newsletter yet? Not only will you get the first two chapters of "One Step Forward", but you'll also gain inside access to subscriber-only giveaways, book-related news, and writer tips! Sign up HERE.


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