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T.I. Lowe’s A Bleu Streak Christmas

How does the band Bleu Streak celebrate the holidays? By singing, of course. Go on tour with this zany group as they get into all kinds of mischief along the way.
Oh…
And Maverick King? Oh yeah. This devilishly handsome drummer gets a special gift for Christmas. The trouble is trying to convince Izzy Walker to allow him to have her…

Review

I so enjoyed the first book, that of course I had to read the second! My thoughts:

What I liked

Maverick. He’s not your traditional ‘Christian’ hero in the sense that he has a complicated past, tattoos and is a rock star. He was also fun, straight-forward, and he knew who he was.

The characters. It was great to be amongst this group again! I enjoyed the pranks and the love and the fun that they all have with each other.

Fame. For some reason, I do like rock star books and dealing with famous people.

Romance. You definitely saw Maverick and Izzy fall in love and I enjoyed every moment of it. Also, it’s modern. The couple dealt with real issues and it made them feel real.

Spiritually, everyone in the novel spends time praising the Lord, praying, and just living as a believer in Christ.

What I didn’t like:

Occasionally, it crossed the line and was a bit…lame instead of cute. But still very enjoyable.

Romantic scale: 8

Overall, very sweet and fun read!

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What I’m Reading This Week

I decided to step out my comfort zone and read….poetry!

William Carlos Williams wrote: “It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.” Restore your spirit and infuse your soul with light as you explore these rich, redemptive poems. Award-winning poet, author and speaker Marla Alupoaicei inspires readers in a deeply moving and life-transforming journey of love, loss, redemption, and faith. Her collection “How the Light Gets In” centers around a lyric drawn from the song “Anthem” sung by Leonard Cohen: “There’s a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in.” Alupoaicei says, “A great poem not only informs the reader’s experience; it transforms it. My goal is to offer fresh ideas, surprising truths and compelling images to help my readers grow in some way, to flourish, to reflect on themselves as a part of God’s greater work of redemption in the world, and to learn to see the world and themselves in a radiant new light. As Jesus taught, we are called to be the light of the world.” As a contemporary American poet as well as a follower of Christ, Alupoaicei is one of only a handful of Christian writers successfully publishing in the secular market. She has won a variety of national poetry competitions, including the 2006 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Competition, the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition, the Writer’s Digest Poetry Competition, and more. Marla’s poetry has been published in literary journals, magazines, and anthologies. She also has published several nonfiction books that are currently available on Amazon, including Prayer Warrior Mom, Generation Hex (coauthored with author Dillon Burroughs), and Your Intercultural Marriage. Fans of the work of poets such as Louise Gluck, Mary Oliver, Brenda Hillman, Carolyn Forche, Jorie Graham, and Marianne Boruch will enjoy “How the Light Gets In.” Marla’s influences in the contemporary Christian market include Ann Voskamp, Lysa TerKeurst, Sarah Young, Mary DeMuth, Sarah Mae, Beth Moore, Craig Groeschel, Mark Batterson, Francis and Lisa Chan, and more. “How the Light Gets In” explores the relationship between the human and the divine. It uses beautiful descriptive language and careful attention to imagery in order to illustrate the truth that we are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience. Enjoy reading this book on your Kindle, courtesy of Amazon Books and the author!

How many of you enjoy poetry?

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Monday Musings…Self-publishing vs Self-publishing

As you may have noticed, with In Deed and in Truth, I self-published with a publishing company.

Three reasons:

  1. They offered me an amazing discount. It costs a lot of money for me to publish a book because I hire an editor and someone to do the cover. I thought, why not cut the price in half? Well…it didn’t quite work that way.
  2. I thought that their marketing team would obviously be better than me and I could reach more readers.
  3. I wanted to try it and see what happened.

What ended up happening was, at least for me, a very discouraging process.

  1. First off, I ended up having to change some of the words in my manuscript as they didn’t comply with the standards of the publishing house such as exchanging colored for Negro. I called and spoke with the representative, assuring them that historically blacks were called colored (Duh!) and that I was black and did not find it offensive in this context. I was told it didn’t matter I couldn’t use it. I mean it really made me feel like they were concerned.-sarcasm
  2. Then, I had requested for my cover, a girl in a ball gown of some sort in a ball room. I did say that I would like it to be a 1920s dress and to keep in mind that the main character was a woman of color. I was told my request was too difficult. They sent me a link with thousands of photos and told me to pick one. At this point I’m not really sure what I’m paying them for if I’m choosing the cover (btw I promise you the woman looked like a woman of color in the stock photo. Promise).
  3. Then I had my editorial assessment and was told the story was solid, but editing needed to be done. It would only cost an extra $4000.00. Yeah, no. I’m incredibly disappointed that this book is not has fully edited as the previous one, but I couldn’t swing it financially folks.
  4. Then, I was told that due to the amount of pages in my book the retail price would be $22.95 and the hardcover $37.50. 
  5. Lastly, in regards to the marketing, I then got a call that went something like this: “What are you going to do to market your book?”

So…yeah….I would never do it again. I’m not saying it’s not for somebody. But it wasn’t for me.

 

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What I Read This Week

Gray Fowler, star NFL tight end, is being pursued by a stalker, so his team hires a protection agency to keep Gray under the watch of a bodyguard at all times. When Gray meets Dru Porter, an agent assigned to him, he’s indignant. How can an attractive young female half his size possibly protect him?

But Dru’s a former Marine, an expert markswoman, and a black belt. She’s also ferociously determined to uncover the identity of Gray’s stalker. And she’s just as determined to avoid any kind of romantic attachment between herself and the rugged football player with the mysterious past. But the closer they get to finding the stalker, the closer they grow to each other. As the danger rises, can Dru and Gray entrust their hearts–and their lives–to one another?

What did you read this week?

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With This Ring

Sometimes Love is Found in the Most Unexpected Places!

Love isn’t always a fairy tale, and it doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes the best stories, though, are the ones that are the most unexpected. Join Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings, and Melissa Jagears for novellas that celebrate the power of love to triumph . . . even when circumstances go awry!

The Husband Maneuver
When ranch foreman Daniel Barrett seems ready to leave her life forever, Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins on their relationship. But to have any hope of maneuvering him into a proposal, she has to act fast or risk losing him completely.

Her Dearly Unintended
Josiah Huckabee just wanted to make sure Katie Ellen Watson was safe, but when the only bridge to her farm is washed out, the two find themselves alone. Alone, that is, until a menacing stranger appears. Maybe by pretending to be newlyweds, they’ll save their reputations–but can pretending to be in love turn into the real thing?

Runaway Bride
Hired to help Carrie Halsey escape from a dangerous man intent on making her his wife, Big John Conroy never expected the job to interrupt his solitary Texas Ranger life. But now that he’s promised to keep Carrie safe, he discovers he may just want to make a few more promises.

Engaging the Competition
Harrison Gray and tomboy Charlotte Andrews have been rivals for years. With Charlotte intended for someone else, it seems they’ll never settle their differences until an accident changes things completely. When Charlotte breaks Harrison’s glasses–without which he’s nearly blind–she must help with his teaching position, and working together forces these former adversaries to reconsider everything.

Review

As you all know, I’m not a fan of novellas. However, if authors I really enjoy write them, I read them. That said, I enjoyed these novellas so much (some more than others) and have discovered the secret to doing them well. My thoughts:

Karen Witemeyer’s The Husband Maneuver– This one was my favorite. Most likely because I had read the full-length companion novel (A Worthy Pursuit) and so Daniel and Marietta felt like old friends. In fact, I had thought their story wasn’t quite finished in the novel and I was right! So the secret, my friends, is to already have a back story and then build upon it. Every page was awesome, though Daniel clearly didn’t want to be the hero that was based upon his life, how cool is it to fall in love with the actual hero of a story? Fantastic novella.

Regina Jennings’ Her Dearly Unintended-This novella….logically made no sense. However, this story was still good as you could tell that the characters already had a solid foundation to build on and they were so interesting I was still rapidly turning the pages. But logically… there were problems.

Mary Connealy’s Runaway Bride-In this novella, the main characters are mentioned in another series that Mary Connealy wrote and just about all the side characters have books on their own. It was like visiting old friends. I will say the romance felt super fast to me. But I still enjoyed this novella very much.

Melissa Jagears’ Engaging the Competition-I enjoyed this novella because it was different. Harrison was a different kind of hero and I love different heroes. I will be honest and say that I haven’t read Melissa Jagears (I don’t think), but still the characters had an already established relationship that I thought was pretty neat. The only thing with this one being so short, was that I thought this couple could have used more time together on the page. The author implies that they do, but I would have liked to see them come together more.

Overall, I consider this novella collection to be a success.

**I received a copy from BethanyHouse. My opinion was not affected in anyway.**

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Monday Musings….Excerpt

I promised you an excerpt!

Chapter 1

Rudy

There are times in my life where I have wondered if I was truly brave or incredibly stupid. This was one of those times. The stale, musty air in the general store- that also functioned as a part time soda fountain-was given a swift kick, sending floating dust mites into a tornado as the door opened letting in yet, another Clearwater Springs native. The warm draft moved across my face causing another bead of sweat to join the rest that gathered underneath my hair, underneath my arms, and between every crevice in my body. But I did my best to look as comfortable as I did not feel. My feet were crossed at the ankles, one hand on top of the other to hide any hints of emotion, and I leaned my body half way across the soda fountain counter to appear detached. It was too much to ask for this small town to have stools.

The slamming of a glass of beer against the counter and a loud belch almost had me jumping out of my skin.

“Now son, you ain’t seen no good lynching in Georgia. Not like the one we had here last week,” the man, Tom, said loudly, accruing the agreements and nods from all the men around him. Tom was an interesting fellow. He had a decent sized plot of land, a nice looking wife, a boy and a girl, but it appeared he needed the blessings of his fellow man to be happy. Noted. I mentally wrote this down.

I had found that the key to being a good investigative journalist was to act indifferent around people who liked to talk. The less you seemed to care, the more they wanted to make you care. But according to the social mores of the area, it was now my turn to talk.

“I assure you as a Georgian, I have seen bigger and better,” I drawled and studied the dripping wet glass of Coke that stood in front of me on the counter waiting to be drunk. It was not going to happen. Mother would say it was a sin to waste such a luxury, but mother had not heard stories like this told with such relish. Each swallow brought a stomach cramp, the likes of which compared only to the time in which I had eaten a bad steak. Not an experience I wanted to go through again.

“I’m telling you Rudy, Georgia ain’t got nothing on Tennessee. See in Georgia, you got too many uppity Negros running around causing a ruckus. Why the things they do there would never be allowed here. That’s what started it all,” my new friend Tom said leaning against the counter of the store. The rest of the white men hanging around nodded in agreement. If it was one thing I had learned about this town, there was very little dissension.

“I do not know what you are talking about, I have never let none of them get uppity with me,” I said. “No one in my family would allow such a thing.” I shook my head and looked down to hide the anger and disgust I had with them and not with these so called uppity Negroes. My hand clenched into a fist, turning even paler. I inhaled and released it. I was certainly not here to start a fight, and even if I did start a fight I would lose. Plain and simple. God had built me for many things, fighting was not one of them.

“You might be from a good town, but I’m telling you I visited my cousin Little John, ya’ll remember Little John. Him from Atlanta and boy I tell you them Negros down there bout near run the place.”

“They don’t run Clearwater Springs, Tennessee!” Judd interjected. I rolled my eyes. A bigger idiot I had not met. He was the man I had encountered first when I arrived in Clearwater Springs. He had some cotton land he had been trying to sell me since I stepped off the train. It was true. I had grown up in Georgia, but nowhere near a cotton farm or plantation or whatever the things were called. Fortunately for me, Judd did not notice my ignorance. Or plain did not care so long as I showed interest in buying his land. And since I came down to Tennessee solely to find out why Ben Carter was murdered so savagely, that was unlikely to happen.

“Why the one we just killed had laid his hands on a white man,” Bill said continuing Tom’s story. I looked at Bill and took his measure: small size, small eyes, small ears. And that was saying something since I would never get an award for height. He was probably king only in his own castle, and a peon in the rest of the world.

“How come he did that?” I shrugged to emphasize that there were more important things to talk about. “Not that it matters.” That was too much. I mentally cursed myself. I always said that one sentence too much. I sighed with relief when Bill kept going.

“Aw he worked for them O’Brien’s. Ain’t never met a family I liked any less,” Bill stated.

“Piece of filthy trash, if you ask me.” Another person added.

“That Jack O’Brien, why he’ll beat a horse within an inch of its life for no other reason than it looked at him funny. I’m sure he found some reason that made no sense to try and whip Ben,” Judd offered. That one had to be heard.

I raised the Coke to my lips and attempted another swig. “Then why kill Ben Carter?”

“Any time a Negro hits a white man, he’s gotta be handled or else all the Negros will get out of hand,” Bill said. “It’s Biblical Georgia Boy. Remember Noah’s son Ham?  He looked on his father’s nakedness and was cursed. A servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. That there is talking about the Negro race. They at the bottom where God wants them to stay. We can’t let things get out of order.” Everyone in the store made noises of agreement including me. Madness. I inhaled deeply to stop the acid from rising in my stomach. I had my answers. Now I needed to get on the first train out of this frightening town. I knew with certainty if they realized that I was in fact not a white man but a Negro passing, what they had done to Ben Carter would only be child’s play for me.

—-

Lily

I flipped my covers off me and did my best not to wrap them around Lula’s face. She snored like a man. A really fat man.

I shuddered as the sound of another nasal vibration filled the room. Yes, siree. It was time for me to go. I placed my feet on the worn wood that dipped and shined from being stepped on for so long and reached under the bed for my bag. I must have checked it ten times already. But I didn’t want to forget a thing. I had one task to complete in Chicago: find a husband. Preferably a wealthy one so I could send money back to Uncle Rufus.

Gentle tapping pulled me out of my valise. “Lily Rose, that you?” Uncle Rufus said in what he must have thought passed for a whisper. But Lula slept through tornadoes. No, really. The way that wind whipped up that one time last year, sent us all to the cellar. Except Lula. We surely would have left her behind if not for Uncle Rufus.

I slid the bag back under the bed, rolled my eyes at Lula’s shaking the room again and walked out of the room.

“How come you always know when I’m awake?” I said into the dark living room. I saw movement by the front door and then it swung open.

“I always know when something is bothering my Lily Rose,” he said, his voice deep and raspy, presiding over the cotton fields like a king over his subjects. Aunt Rachel said Uncle Rufus only had two tones: loud and loud. “Come outside and sit with me a spell.”

I waited till the door was shut behind me before I spoke again. “I’m not bothered by anything.”

Uncle Rufus took a seat in the rocking chair on the porch. But I couldn’t sit, not for nothing. I danced on the tips of my toes across the small porch.

“Always were a bit of a lightning bug Lily Rose. What are we going to do without you?”

“Have peace and quiet I imagine,” I said with a smile.

I didn’t have to see Uncle Rufus to know he smiled. “Your aunt loves you.”

“Hmm,” I said neither agreeing or disagreeing. She loved something alright: finding fault in me. I just wanted to look nice and sophisticated and it was my hard earned money. Don’t see why I couldn’t have bought me that fancy hat up in Little Rock. I looked down at my Uncle. Once upon a time it had just been us. Then he had gotten married.

“I’ve been praying for you Lily Rose. I think you’ll do just fine. Got your stuff all packed up?”

“Yes, sir. That’s what I was doing when you knocked on my door. Checking one more time.”

“Don’t think I didn’t know it. You keep opening and shutting that bag and the handle will come clean off.”

Unfortunately, that was probably true.

“When you get up there now, things will probably be different.”

Oh how I hoped so. “Yes, sir.”

“I know I don’t have to tell you to mind your manners.”

“No sir.”

“I went down to Jim Baker’s store and brought some paper for letter writing and such. Don’t you forget about us down here.”

“I never would, Uncle Rufus. I’m not like-,”

“Not like Dolores? Well, I supposed it wouldn’t be a bad thing if you were.”

I stamped the bottom of my foot, hard against the wood, not sure if I was mad at what he said or how right he might be if I married me a fancy husband up north like her. But I wouldn’t be Dolores. I wouldn’t forget where I came from. I would be Uncle Rufus’s Lily Rose. And I would come back. Or at least write back. “How can you say a thing like that?”

“I always admire a person who accomplished exactly what they set out to do. And make no beans about it child, Dolores has gotten everything she wanted.” He said the last bit mournfully.

“Well she ain’t got me.”

“She’s always had you.”

“You’ve always had me.”

“Dolores gave birth to you child. She’s always had you,” he said gently. “You make nice with your mama.”

“I’ll try,” I said softly.

“You’ll do,” he said gruffly.

We were both silent, listening only to the sounds of the horned owls hooting at each other.

“How was Mary?”

I had gone over to Mary Wakefield’s house and said good-bye yesterday.

I shrugged. “Same as always. She cried.”

He made a funny noise between a snort and a grunt. “But you didn’t?”

“No sir,” there would be no tears from me. Not even for my closest friend here.

“The McNeals?”

“Mr. McNeal gave me extra pay and Mrs. McNeal gave me a book,” I said. I didn’t tell him it was on fancy manners. Uncle Rufus thought my manners was just fine, and maybe they were for this little town in Arkansas. But Mrs. McNeal knew I was probably going to be needing some help up in Chicago. I turned to Uncle Rufus to change the subject. “Are you going to stay out of trouble sir?”

He grunted.

“Now, Uncle Rufus-,”

“Don’t Uncle Rufus me. I only ever do what’s best for this family.” I looked away toward the night sky and watched stars slowly winking out. I didn’t like that Uncle Rufus was starting to get political. I couldn’t see any good coming of it. But I wouldn’t say anything more. It was the only thing me and Aunt Rachel agreed upon. I knew Aunt Rachel got on him all the time and if she couldn’t get through to him, I wouldn’t.

“You know we’re going to miss you girl?”

“I know.” But what I was doing was going to help this family. Just he wait and see. And maybe, if I was really lucky, it would help me too.