Monday, January 13, 2020

New Year Reflections

January 7, 2020
My fellow booklover,

A new year has begun. Do you find that as hard to believe as I do? It seems not all that long ago that I compiled my goals for 2019, and now I face that same challenge for another year. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the effort, especially after failing to meet my goals like I did this last year.

Yet that is the wonderful thing about a New Year. It is a chance to step back, take a deep breath, dream a little, reflect a little, and begin again.

Yes, I know. I’ve heard the naysayers too. How nothing really changes between December 31 and January 1. How most resolutions are broken within a week. How it’s just a bunch of psychological gobbledygook.

But is it? Is this changing of the calendar as insignificant as flipping a piece of paper? Or can it mean a little bit more?

Not that you or I won’t fail this coming year. We will. After all, I’m human. So are you. No, the point of a New Year is not to eradicate failure or deny that it will occur, to believe all our troubles are gone and everything will be perfect from now on. Rather, a new year is a gift of God, a chance to remember that His mercies are new, not just each year, but every morning.

And because of that hope, we can turn the page and begin again. Today. Tomorrow. And every day of the year to come.

Dreaming bigger, growing deeper,

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

January 2020: New Christian Fiction

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

A Rancher to Trust by Laurel Blount -- After learning his ex-wife isn’t so ex after all, rebel turned rancher Dan Whitlock is determined to prove he’s a changed man…but Bailey Quinn is just as set on finally ending their marriage. When tragedy makes Dan the guardian of little orphaned twins, he and Bailey are drawn back together. But can she forgive the past and open her heart to the family she’s always wanted? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))

Star Rising by Janet W. Ferguson -- Star Youngblood tries to protect her employer, Mrs. Priscilla Kelly, from the woman’s neglectful son, an aspiring flight instructor who has issues with religion, but finds her own heart is at the greatest risk. (Contemporary Romanc, Independently Published)

Promise to Keep by Melony Teague -- Savannah, a widowed research librarian, goes to her twenty year class reunion and gets reacquainted with Michael, a former troublemaker who is now a professional technical rescuer. Before the night is over, a pact between these two old friends will lead them on an adventure into uncharted emotional territory where Michael must confront his past regrets and find the courage to reveal the truth. But can Savannah fly from her sheltered nest and risk her heart on a real-life hero? (Contemporary Romance from Anaiah Press)

General Contemporary:

A Long Time Comin by Robin W. Pearson -- To hear Beatrice Agnew tell it, she entered the world with her mouth tightly shut. Just because she finds out she's dying doesn't mean she can't keep it that way. If any of her children have questions about their daddy and the choices she made after he abandoned them, they'd best take it up with Jesus. There's no room in Granny B's house for regrets or hand-holding. Or so she thinks. Her granddaughter, Evelyn Lester, shows up on Beatrice's doorstep anyway, burdened with her own secret baggage. Determined to help her Granny B mend fences with her far-flung brood, Evelyn turns her grandmother's heart and home inside out. Evelyn's meddling uncovers a tucked-away box of old letters, forcing the two women to wrestle with their past and present pain as they confront the truth Beatrice has worked a lifetime to hide. (General Contemporary from Tyndale House)

Historical Romance:

Freedom in the Mountain Wind by Misty M. Beller -- A young woman faces overwhelming odds to make her father’s dream come true before he dies of lung cancer, but paddling upriver through fierce rapids and fighting hungry grizzlies to follow the Lewis and Clark trail isn’t what terrifies her the most. Beaver Tail endured more than he can stand from the women in his Blackfoot camp, but the last disaster gave him the final shove he needed to join this band of brothers searching for one of their group who’s gone missing. The last thing he expected was to find a white woman and her sick father stranded at the base of a massive waterfall. His plan is to help them carry their oversize canoe and supplies, then leave them to their strange mission. Yet, the more he learns about the pair, the more he realizes his life is about to be derailed—again. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Uncharted Promises by Keely Brooke Keith -- Sybil Roberts uses the warmth of delicious meals to lift the spirits of road-weary travelers at The Inn at Falls Creek. Her life at the inn would be perfect if she could just get her brothers and mother to move back home. And if she could see Isaac Owens again. He visited the inn once when he interviewed for the farm manager job, and she’s dreamed of his return to Falls Creek ever since. Isaac Owens knows how to run a farm. His family might not have faith in him, but if he succeeds at Falls Creek, he’ll prove them wrong. He arrives at the inn thinking the job is his, but the inn’s senile owner offered the position to another man too. Isaac must spend the winter competing if he wants to win the job… and Sybil’s heart. It will take more than warm meals on cold nights for Sybil and Isaac to find love while working at the isolated inn. (Historical Romance from Edenbrooke Press)

Forever Hidden by Kimberley Woodhouse, Tracie Peterson -- Sybil Roberts uses the warmth of delicious meals to lift the spirits of road-weary travelers at The Inn at Falls Creek. Her life at the inn would be perfect if she could just get her brothers and mother to move back home. And if she could see Isaac Owens again. He visited the inn once when he interviewed for the farm manager job, and she’s dreamed of his return to Falls Creek ever since. Isaac Owens knows how to run a farm. His family might not have faith in him, but if he succeeds at Falls Creek, he’ll prove them wrong. He arrives at the inn thinking the job is his, but the inn’s senile owner offered the position to another man too. Isaac must spend the winter competing if he wants to win the job… and Sybil’s heart. It will take more than warm meals on cold nights for Sybil and Isaac to find love while working at the isolated inn. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock -- On Blackwell Island, New York, a hospital was built to keep its patients from ever leaving. With her late father’s fortune under her uncle’s care until her twenty-fifth birthday in the year 1887, Edyth Foster does not feel pressured to marry or to bow to society’s demands. She freely indulges in eccentric hobbies like fencing and riding her velocipede in her cycling costume about the city for all to see. Finding a loophole in the will, though, her uncle whisks Edyth off to the women’s lunatic asylum just weeks before her birthday. Do any of Edyth’s friends care that she disappeared? At the asylum she meets another inmate, who upon discovering Edyth’s plight, confesses that she is Nellie Bly, an undercover journalist for The World. Will either woman find a way to leave the terrifying island and reclaim her true self? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Secret Mountain Hideout by Terri Reed -- Staying hidden has kept her alive… But now she’s been found. A remote Colorado mountain town and a fake identity have been Ashley Willis’s safe haven since fleeing after she witnessed a murder—but now the killer has found her trail. Desperate and terrified, she’s prepared to run again…but Deputy Sheriff Chase Fredrick won’t let her. With the lawman by her side, can she face danger head-on…and live long enough to bring a murderer to justice? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Monday, December 9, 2019

Vault for Christmas

Photo compliments of Instagrammer @JaneMareeAuthor

'Tis the season for Christmas shopping. And of course books make a great Christmas gift, especially for that bibliophile in your life who simply can't seem to get their fill of books. But how to give a book that hasn't released yet? 

While I can't solve that conundrum for every book on your favorite bookworm's list, I would love to help you out with Vault. No, I sadly cannot accelerate the printing process to to get you the book by Christmas. Such things are outside of my control. What I can do is write a personalized, handwritten card informing your bookworm of your purchase of Vault Between Spaces for them. Moreover, I will also include a bookplate (if desired) which can be placed in the book later, turning it into an autographed copy just for them! 

Just send me an email at imaginationinvestigation @ yahoo .com by December 18th for any address in the U.S. with the following the information:
  • Who is receiving Vault
  • Who is giving Vault.
  • Which version is being gifted--I would hate to accidentally promise the hardback if they're getting the ebook!
  • Why you are giving the book/why you think the reader will enjoy Vault.
  • A snail mail address to send the card to.
Yes, I'll mark the envelope, "Do Not Open Until Christmas" just to be on the safe side! Yes, giving the book to yourself counts. 

So what are you waiting for? Pre-order a copy (or two or a dozen) of Vault, send me that e-mail, and check off another name (or two or a dozen) off your list! 

(Note: You can order Vault now from variety of places, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and directly from me. However, you cannot "gift" an ebook from most online retailers. That's okay! I'll still write the note for Christmas, and then send you a follow-up email in February, reminding you to order the book for your bookworm on release day.)

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

New Christian Fiction - October 2019

 More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Biblical Fiction: 

Lioness: Mahlah’s Journey by Barbara M. Britton -- To keep her orphaned sisters together, Mahlah must seek what has never been granted to girls, an inheritance of God’s Promised Land. (Biblical from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])

Contemporary Romance:

Hiding from Christmas by Alice K. Arenz -- No matter how hard she tries, Maddie Kelley can’t seem to fit in at Ornamental, a company founded by her great grandfather and his best friend. Now, after yet another screw-up, she’s been sent into the “enemy’s” camp—two hours away from home for the next two months. A punishment or a blessing? Her life is turned upside down when the mundane turns unexpected, and she finally discovers where her heart truly lies. (Contemporary Romance from Forget Me Not Romances [Winged Publications])

Practically Married by Karin Beery -- Ashley Johnson moved to northern Michigan to finally meet her fiancé face-to-face, but she arrived in time to attend his funeral. With no home back in Ohio, she decides to stay in what would have been their house, except his cousin Russ lives there too, and Russ has never heard of Ashley. To complicate matters, her fiancé accidentally willed her the family farm house. Eager to please everyone and desperate to disappoint no one, she proposes a marriage of convenience that could solve her and Russ’ problems, if they can get past her aunt, his sisters, and an ex-girlfriend. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Once Upon a Christmas by Andrea Boyd, Mikal Dawn, Toni Shiloh, Angela Ruth Strong, and Jaycee Weaver -- Embrace the magic of the Christmas season with these contemporary twists on timeless tales. Upon a Dream: A rare sleeping disorder keeps Talia from performing, but when Philip recognizes her gift, he’ll do whatever it takes to see her onstage. Claim My Heart: Li Na and Colin Wen face off in a Mulan-esque courtroom battle where the real win might be losing their hearts. A Snow White Christmas: Sheltered heiress Amala White flees her conniving stepmother’s plans and finds refuge with a handsome orchard owner and his seven quirky uncles. Christmas Ella: Reality TV meets Cinderella story when a location director is swept off her feet by a rising star. A Splash of Love: Las Vegas glitz meets Land of Enchantment culture in A Splash of Love, a modern twist on the Little Mermaid. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

The Twin Bargain by Lisa Carter -- A mutually beneficial temporary arrangement…But can they keep it strictly professional? Nursing student Amber Fleming couldn’t be more stunned when ex-marine Ethan Green makes an offer: he’ll babysit her twin girls if she cares for his injured grandmother. Amber knows it’s temporary. Ethan isn’t one for roots—or their hometown. But his steadfast caring has her wanting more than friendship. And with help from Amber’s mischievous twins, can they risk becoming a forever family? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Amish Christmas Matchmaker by Vannetta Chapman -- With her wedding business thriving, Annie Kauffmann could never leave her beloved Amish community. So when handsome Amish cowboy Levi Lapp tries to convince her father to move the family to Texas, she must put a stop to it. If Annie finds Levi a wife, he might forget his dream of moving…but can she keep from falling for him herself? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Sara’s Gift by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- Christmas is the season of giving, but Sara isn’t sure she is up to the task. Playing secret angel in high school was fun, and now, years later, Sara has the opportunity to do it once more on a bigger scale. She enlists the help of Gabe, her long-time best friend, to come up with a deserving recipient. But something is off with Gabe—he’s more attentive than usual. The Christmas season has put Gabe in a reflective mood. His evaluation of his life has left him lonely and wanting more. But can his heart have its desire? That’s up to Sara. Can these two long-time best friends navigate their changing relationship, or will the romance Grinch steal their Christmas joy? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Their Christmas Prayer by Myra Johnson -- Searching for a new start, Pastor Shaun O’Grady can’t wait for his next foreign missionary assignment…until he begins working with Brooke Willoughby on the church’s Christmas outreach program. Even as they clash over program specifics, Shaun and Brooke are drawn to each other. Now Shaun’s not sure where he belongs: overseas for his ministry, or at home by Brooke’s side… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Her Amish Holiday Suitor by Carrie Lighte -- Lucy Knepp has no time for heartbreaker Nick Burkholder…until a pretend courtship means she can finish her embroidery for a Christmas fund-raiser in peace. Nick’s arrangement with the too-reserved Lucy is the perfect cover while he repairs the cabin his brother damaged. But once Nick sees how vibrant Lucy really is, can he prove himself—and show their love is for all seasons? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Chasing Dreams by Deborah Raney -- Reconsidering her dream of law school, Joanna Chandler finds promise in a possible wedding planning career—especially when she meets wedding DJ Lukas Blaine. But there’s more to Luke than meets the eye. The angry young boy he's been mentoring has lost his mother and become Luke's ward. How can Luke possibly find the time to start a new relationship or saddle someone else with a wounded child? He may have to let go of the woman of his dreams--and crush her dreams at the same time. (General/Contemporary from Kregel Publications)

Historical Romance:

Unwrapping Hope by Sandra Ardoin -- When Phoebe receives a handcrafted cigar box by mistake, her desperation to give her daughter something special for Christmas drives her to suggest a trade with Spence Newland, a man she views as no more principled than her daughter’s late father. But the more time she spends with the department store heir, the more Phoebe struggles to keep up her guard against him. Spence believes the cigar box will help him gain a reclusive investor's financial support for his proposed five-and-ten-cent stores. Yet he hesitates to bargain with a widow who mistrusts him for no apparent reason…until he meets a charming little girl at the train station who awaits the arrival of a prince. Will a betrayal in Phoebe’s past and Spence’s unraveling business plans derail their hope for happiness and keep a child’s fairy tale from coming true? (Historical Romance from Corner Room Books)

Hope’s Highest Mountain by Misty M. Beller -- Ingrid Chastain travels readily with her father to deliver vaccines to a mining town in the Montana Territory. But after a tragic accident leaves her alone and injured, Ingrid finds rescue in the form of a mysterious mountain man who tends her wounds. Micah Bradley gave up his own medical career after unintentionally bringing home the smallpox disease that killed his wife and daughter. With Ingrid dead set on trekking through the mountains to deliver the medicine as soon as she’s well enough, he has no choice but to accompany her through the treacherous, snow-covered Rocky Mountains. The risk-laden journey ahead will change their lives more than they could have known. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Aiming for Love by Mary Connealy -- Josephine Nordegren is one of three sisters who grew up nearly wild in southwestern Colorado. She has the archery skills of Robin Hood and the curiosity of the Little Mermaid, fascinated by but locked away from the forbidden outside world--a world she's been raised to believe killed her parents. When David Warden, a rancher, brings in a herd much too close to the girls' secret home, her older sister especially is frightened, but Jo is too interested to stay away. David's parents follow soon on his heels, escaping bandits at their ranch. David's father is wounded and needs shelter. Josephine and her sisters have the only cabin on the mountain. Do they risk stepping into the world to help those in need? Or do they remain separated but safe in the peaks of Hope Mountain? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Lessons on Love by Susanne Dietze, Rita Gerlach, Kathleen L. Maher, and Carrie Fancett Pagels -- Step back into the classroom alongside four new teachers who face unexpected tests. In 1840 New York, Gilda’s religious beliefs are challenged. In 1870 Kansas, Mary helps ostracized immigrant children. In 1894 Michigan, Jesse discovers an unlikely friendship. And in 1904 Virginia, Margaret wants to make controversial changes. Will these tests teach the teachers about faith and love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)


The Silver Lode by Suzanne J Bratcher -- A dying child and a seventy-year-old cold case draw historian Paul Russell and antiques expert Marty Greenlaw into a desperate search for the silver lode, a rich deposit of silver and gold one person considers worth murdering to keep. (Mystery from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Deadly Commitment by Kathy Harris -- When Danielle Kemp walks out of her downtown Nashville condominium, she gets the eerie feeling that someone is watching her. She's convinced that the homeless man outside her building is stalking her. But after learning the real identity of the intimidating stranger, she faces something even more threatening?the truth about her fiancé. (Romantic Suspense from New Hope Publishing)

 Cold Pursuit by Gayla K. Hiss -- A December tour of Yellowstone National Park sounded like the perfect escape from Faith Chandler’s problems at home—until she discovers her tour guide is her jilted childhood sweetheart, Jake Mitchell. (Romantic Suspense from Mountain Brook Ink)

Legacy Restored by Robin Patchen -- She’s a new Christian working to take down an art thief and murderer. He’s a grieving artist who refuses to let another woman die needlessly. When their desires clash, will it lead to hostility… or fireworks? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Young Adult:

Heart of a Royal by Hannah Currie -- Brought to the palace as a newborn, the royal life bestowed upon Mackenna Sparrow was never meant to last forever. With Princess Alina engaged to be married, Mackenna’s presence as companion is no longer required and, like it or not, she must return to the birthright which should have been hers – that of a commoner. But not everyone at the palace wants her gone. When the truths she’s based her life on start crumbling as fast as her future, will she find the courage to trust, both herself and the prince she’s fallen in love with? (Young Adult from WhiteFire Publishing)

Monday, September 23, 2019

Sci-fi & Fantasy Scavenger Hunt

My novel, Beast, is being featured in this fun scavenger hunt blog tour, along with several of my fellow Enclave Publishing authors. Come join the fun, and maybe even win a $100 Amazon gift certificate!

The hunt begins today and ends October 5. You can find more information here:

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Coming February 2020!

So things are  moving at a rapid clip for my new novel The Vault Between Spaces. I spent the first half of August working through the notes from my editor, and we also finalized a cover:

 Of course, if the cover catches your eye, the next question becomes, what is this story?

It is a fantasy for older teens and adults set in a pseudo-WWII/Cold War setting, rather than the traditional medieval landscape, and it tells the story of a young girl who intentionally gets herself arrested in order to escape from a prison camp reputed as inescapable.

Still interested? Here’s a long snapshot of the story:

Every legend must start somewhere…

No prisoner entering HopeWell ever leaves. Or so the stories go. But from the moment Oriel sets foot inside Anatroshka’s most formidable prison camp, the petite girl of fragile appearance rattles the long-held beliefs of commandant and prisoner alike.

With eyes that see beyond the surface and music that trails her everywhere, Oriel bows before neither threat nor punishment. The rebellious can be broken, the cowardly terrorized, the arrogant crushed. But what to do when defiance, fear, and arrogance are absent? Moreover, Oriel makes no attempt to hide her intention: to escape the inescapable HopeWell.

But when facades are stripped away and myths become clothed in flesh, what begins as a prison break soon morphs into a mission to prevent the invasion of evil itself.

Of course, that has snagged your attention, you can always preorder a copy now. The book will be releasing in February 2020 as a limited edition hardcover book.

You can order a copy of the book here.

That link is for Amazon. If you are looking to order an autographed copy, I hope to have a place up soon on my website soon where you can order directly from. So stay tuned for future updates!

Dreaming Bigger, Growing Deeper,

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Featured Book of the Month: Fawkes

Title: Fawkes

Series: Standalone

Author: Nadine Brandes

Genre: Young Adult Historical/Fantasy
(Alternate History)

Back Cover:
Thomas Fawkes is turning to stone, and the only cure to the Stone Plague is to join his father's plot to assassinate the king of England. 

Silent wars leave the most carnage. The wars that are never declared by are carried out in the dark alleys with masks and hidden knives. Wars where color power alters the natural rhythm of 17th-century London. And when the king calls for peace, no one listens until he finally calls for death.

But what if death finds him first? 

Keepers think the Igniters caused the plague. Igniters think the Keepers did it. But all Thomas knows is that the Stone Plague infecting his eye is spreading. And if he doesn't do something soon, he'll be a lifeless statue. So when his Keeper father, Guy Fawkes, invites him to join the Gunpowder Plot--claiming it will put an end to the plague--Thomas is in.

The plan: use 36 barrels of gunpowder to blow up the Igniter King. 

The problem: Doing so will destroy the family of the girl Thomas loves. But backing out of the plot will send his father and the other plotters to the gallows. To save one, Thomas will lose the other.

No matter Thomas's choice, one thing is clear: once the decision is made and the color masks have been put on, there's no turning back. ​

Excerpt from Chapter 1:
I wasn't ready to turn to stone. 

I leaned so close to the small wall mirror that my nose left a grease spot on the glass, but I held still. Or tried to. I couldn't control the trembling. The grease spot smeared. 

My right eye reflected a bright-blue iris, but it was the left side of my face that held me a whisper away from the mirror. Cracked stone blossomed from the chiseled marble that should have been an eye. The ball didn't move; the lid didn't blink. I lifted shaking fingers to my face. Petrification tickled the hairline of my eyebrow. A single infected hair protruded like a stone needle. 

The plague was spreading. 

Rating: Craft--4.8, Content--4.7, Overall--4.8

My Thoughts:
I personally enjoyed reading this novel--though I admittedly use the term "enjoy" somewhat loosely. Fawkes is a challenging and sometimes dark read. But it is definitely worth the ride.

The thoroughly researched setting and plot events provides a strong mooring for the fantasy, giving it an extra layer of realism. The fantasy recasts the familiar in an unfamiliar light, causing pause and pondering. This allows for more candid discussion of difficult subjects, ranging from racial tensions to religious divides and even to our perspective of God (hint: He has a wonderful sense of humor). All seemed deftly and biblically handled.

 I fully engaged with the characters and enjoyed watching the romance subplot blossom with great realism. The main plot is heart-pounding and page-turning, even knowing the historical outcome, as you agonize alongside the main character over the choices to be made.

And while there may be no happily-ever-after for this book, the ending is bittersweetly satisfying: There is a sense, upon finishing the book, that there was no other way the story could have ended.

Overall, an enthralling and thoroughly engaging read.

A highly recommended book for older teens and adults, especially those who enjoy historicals that are off the beaten path or who like fantasy mixed with the real world.

Not for younger teens, those with a sensitivity to the supernatural/magic, or those looking for a light read.

Sound like a book you would like to read? Purchase your copy here.