This week Kerfuffle, the third book of the Desires & Decisions series comes out! June 1st to be exact. And since the release is only a few days away, I thought I would share with you why I wrote Kerfuffle.
Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me?
Retrospective thoughts are so powerful, aren’t they? Now that I’m an adult I often look back on my adolescence and think, “Why didn’t anyone tell me?” As a YA author, I read a lot of books in my own genre, and I’ve noticed a pattern. Though many of the secular YA authors are brave enough to talk about the tough stuff, not many Christian authors go after the real world difficulties that face our young people. The passage of time constantly rips through generations creating new problems and situations. The world that my children are growing up in is very different from what I experienced, and the challenges that they face as Christians are also different. The Desires & Decisions series was born out of the need for me to able to address these controversial topics with my own children. Olive, a teenage girl growing up in Southern California, serves as the lens of perspective as we see almost everything from her point of view. Her world provides a safe, fictional place for Christians to flesh out these thoughts and think through what the Bible teaches about topics like racism, bullying, loving one’s neighbor, what real love is, and addiction.
Kerfuffle specifically explores the complex emotions associated with the Church and the temptation of same sex attraction. We get to experience the conflict Olive feels and also witness the varied reactions from different generations through Olive’s parents and other members of Revive Church. This issue isn’t going away, and as a Church we must be able to talk about it without alienating ourselves from those that struggle with this temptation. There is hope for every person through the blood of Jesus Christ, whether you struggle to love those who experience same sex attraction or you struggle with that temptation yourself. I hope Kerfuffle encourages you as you seek to walk closer to Christ.
This is my first every Celebrate Lit blog tour post. Yay! I hope you are as excited as I am.
And they are also giving away a Kindle, so check out that giveaway here.
A Spring of Weddings is collection of two stories about, as I’m sure you guessed, Spring weddings. I don’t normally like Romance books, but there were a few things that made this collection special.
I give this book 4/5 stars.
Category: Fiction (Contemporary Christian Romance)
The first story in this collection is “A Proxy Wedding” by Toni Shiloh. This was the first book of hers that I’ve read, though I like her blog. I have to say, the unique premise of this story caught my attention right from the start. I didn’t even know what proxy wedding was, let alone a double proxy wedding. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but there were definitely a few surprises in this cute, well planned tale.
“Hope Beyond Savannah” is the second part of the collection and was written by Melissa Wardwell. It was also my first time reading anything by this author. It was an interesting story, but in my opinion, things happened so fast without enough time for character development. Maybe it would have been better as a full length novel. I really appreciated the multicultural aspect of this story. I should also mention that if you don’t like to read about lots of kissing and physical affection, this isn’t the story for you. It felt like, “ugh, more kissing,” but as I mentioned before, I don’t really like romances. I still found the story interesting, though. And I felt for the main character, Lily. Poor thing!
Overall I would definitely recommend this book for a quick, entertaining read.
I was given a copy of this book by CelebrateLit Publishing in case I wanted to review it. All opinions are my own.
Book: A Spring of Weddings: A Contemporary Spring Weddings Collection
Authors: Toni Shiloh & Melissa Wardwell,
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: March 30, 2017
A Proxy Wedding
Carly James values loyalty and friendship above all, so when her best friend calls asking her to be a proxy bride, she says, ‘yes.’ How hard can it be to say ‘I do’ so that her best friend can be with the one she loves? Only, Carly never counted on the feelings that began to swirl around with the proxy groom.
Damien Nichols likes life lined up from A to Z, but when his best friend calls in a favor, disorder begins to reign. Instead of taking a quick flight to the proxy wedding, he must take a road trip with the proxy bride. Carly’s free-spirit attitude bumps heads with his meticulous approach to life. As Damien discovers the woman underneath the carefree façade, his emotions become involved.
Will love become real at A Proxy Wedding?
Hope Beyond Savannah
Lily Allman and Nikotemo (Nik) Lagatuo were the poster children for the term “opposites attract.” He was an evangelist and CEO for a non-profit from Samoa who grew up in a large loving family. She was a blond bombshell with a funky style and no family to call her own. Two of the most unlikely people meet in the most unlikely of places, but God had a plan when He brought them together. They never let their differences deter them from the love they had for each other, but when Nik’s mother comes to the States for the wedding, the idea of wedded bliss is shaken. Can prejudices be over looked, insecurities overcome, and hope for a better future be restored so that these two can have all that was promised?
About the Authors
Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.
Melissa Wardwell was born and raised in a small mid-Michigan community living there still with her Husband and three children. She enjoys taking pictures, reading, and leisurely rides with her husband on their motorcycle. All her stories revolve around women who are mothers. Single mothers, widowed mothers, young mothers, married mothers, and even women who have a mother’s heart but no children of her own.
Her hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life.
Guest posts from Toni & Melissa
A Proxy Wedding
By Toni Shiloh
Spring is here! I love it because I always think of new beginnings as the flowers bud and then bloom. The trials and tribulation of the winter season are no longer on my mind. My hope that the winter season would not linger begins to become visible as new life takes shape on the bare trees. The seeds I planted in faith of God’s faithfulness sprout up in hope and promise.
When I sat down to write A Proxy Wedding, I had to imagine spring time, because the dreary, overcast skies outside my window were a constant reminder that I was in a season of sickness. One person would get sick, then the next, and the next. By the time the last person got sick, the round would start over. Visits to the doctor were made. Miserable kids were constantly whining in their discomfort.
It. Was. Rough.
It made perfect sense for me to throw my characters into a new situation. One that would make the stretch, take them out their comfort zone, and search for God’s goodness. I wanted to give them a hint of goodness and throw in a trial or two so they could make the decision that sometimes, risk is worth it. Just as we all react differently to new situations, so did my characters.
Carly was intent on making lemonade from her lemons. She tries to get the handsome broker, Damien, to see the importance of smelling roses and lingering over new adventures. Of course, Damien wasn’t partial to the frivolity. He’s so intent on becoming a success that he had no time to slow down.
In order for them to see God’s handiwork in their lives, I had to remind them that they were not products of their past. That in God, they’re a new creation with new opportunities available to them.
I hope you enjoy A Proxy Wedding. May you think of the Father’s love as you take time to stop and smell the roses.
Hope Beyond Savannah
By Melissa Wardwell
I hope you enjoy this story of love, acceptance and new beginnings. It was a joy to write because there is much more to it than the hope of marriage. It is about the blending of two families who are from two completely different cultures. Researching the island traditions, beliefs, and customs was not only fun, but enlightening. Being able to return to my background in bridal as well as the most beautiful city in the United States was just an added bonus.
With Nik and his family being from another country, I gave you a glossary of words and phrases used so you knew what was being said. I found the language to be rather beautiful and to not include it would take away from who these people are. I also give a small explanation as to what Rock-a- billy is. Lily is a funky chick who dresses in a fun and exciting way. When I saw this couple in my head, I knew it would be quite the uncommon match. As you will soon see, they fit together quite nicely.
My point in using a bi-racial couple for this story was based on what we have been seeing in the news lately. It is unlike anything I have ever done but after talking to friends in similar relationships, I knew I had to step out on this limb. I think it is time we begin to look at people through the eyes of God and not man, then we would see how beautiful we all are. It doesn’t matter what color our skin is or what our past contains, we are all God’s creation and we are beautifully and wonderfully made.
Last week the second book in the Desires & Decisions series came out. I wish I could say I sold a bunch of copies and all the time and money invested were worth it, but the truth is, I only sold 6 eBook copies and two paperbacks of Flummoxed. That means that I made $8.26. I spent $468 on editing and $85 on advertising. So my total profit is -$544.74. I look at that number and it makes me sad. Where do I go from here?
How to Survive a Failed Book Launch – Write More
This morning, after doing the disappointing math, I thought, “What am I going to do now?” The answer came to mind pretty fast. “Keep writing… move to the next project.” Today is the second day of Camp NaNoWriMo, and the project I picked was to edit Kerfuffle, the third book in the Desires & Decisions series. It’s the book I have always had in mind when I started telling Olive’s story. Last May I sat in the amazing Regency Park in London, England and plotted the entire book in 15 minutes with a tiny notebook while my children played in the grass. Kids that grow up in Athens, Greece are impressed by grass. Almost a year later the book is so close to being ready to share with the world. Two more rounds of edits and I’ll be able to start planning yet another launch. So I sat down with my trusty laptop and started to edit. Because it’s already written, and why not? Right? Why not keep trying to succeed at what seems like an insane goal? That seems to be the theme of my life.
The Silver Lining of a Failed Book Launch
With all the time and energy that gets put into launches, it’s probably my least favorite part of the entire writing process. But then reviews start to come in, and you realize that maybe it was worth all the hard work and negative profits after all because another person actually read your book, and they got it! *insert cheering* All the plot points and character arcs came together and projected the meaning you intended to create! It’s a miracle.
Here is a review for Flummoxed that really encouraged me to keep writing, keep editing, even if I continue to fail at marketing:
“Once again Kristin Spencer has captured a beautiful snapshot of what it’s like growing up as a young girl and growing up in the Lord. I was so blessed reading Newfangled and was equally, if not more so, blessed in reading this second installment of the Desires & Decisions series, Flummoxed.
Even as an adult I found myself learning from Olive as she goes through the struggles and difficulties of life and dealing with issues of the heart. I was again blessed by the wisdom of Pappie, the encouragement of Aunt Barb, and the wonderful example of support and friendship provided by the Callis family and the Mashables. These characters have become my dear friends and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for them next.
I would highly recommend this book to all ages and stages of life. There is something here for everyone as it discusses trusting in the Lord and surrendering our hearts, hopes, and fears further to Him.”
They said the characters have become their friends. There isn’t anything more you can ask for as an author (besides for people to pay for your book so you can afford to write more books). I’m genuinely humbled.
So even though I have failed *again* to successfully launch another book (the launch of Newfangled was a total disaster), I won’t quit. I will keep writing and I will continue to fight to get my stories out there.
I implore you to consider my new book, Flummoxed, for your reading consideration. Today is launch day, and that means that in various corners of the inter web, people are learning about my new book for the first time. Maybe you are part of that group. Welcome! I can’t wait to hear what you think about Olive and her unique group of crazy, fun friends. Maybe you’re part of another group, and you’ve been waiting for the second book to arrive after devouring Newfangled. I can’t put into words how happy you people make me. Please accept my digital hug. *Hug*
Flummoxed was actually my husband’s idea, and as usual, when he’s sure he is right about something, he slowly pushes until I acknowledge that he has a point. I was getting ready to write Kerfuffle (the third book in the Decisions & Desires series… coming later this year) and he said, “I think there is another story in between Newfangled and Kerfuffle… you know, before Olive starts high school. Like, what happens with Dean? And how do things change for Olive once she’s more adjusted at school?” Those were both awesome questions that needed to be answered, and writing a vague recap at the beginning of Kerfuffle didn’t do justice to the answers. Hence book #2… Flummoxed: the completely unplanned addition to the Desires & Decisions series.
This book deals with one of the most fundamental and defining questions in every human being’s life; what does love mean? Olive tries to balance what she knows about the Bible with what she sees the Christians doing around her, but doesn’t come to any easy conclusions. As Olive works to figure all that out, she realizes that maybe a few of the other characters could use those answers, too.
For a full synopsis and description of my creative writing process for Flummoxed, please check out this awesome video that my husband made.
I hope you love reading Flummoxed as much as I loved writing it.
This book is the 2nd book in the Meddlin’ Madeline Series. For a review of the first book, “Sweet On You,” click here.
I give this book 5/5 stars.
Category: Fiction (Historical Mystery)
“Such a Tease,” is an amazing sequel to Havig’s first Meddlin’ Madeline book, “Sweet on You.” Though Madeline is determined not to make the same mistakes, she still has a lot to learn. When she tries to be more considerate of the people in her life that care for her, she still can’t seem to kick her meddlin’ habit of investigating crime, and I’m glad.
One of the many things I loved about this book was the way Madeline has learned to show others grace and mercy, for the most part. While in the last book she was right about most people’s attitudes and actions, she came off as judgmental. In this book, she tries to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
Vernon Smythe is back as Rockland’s local villain, or is he? Even Madeline isn’t sure. And if you’re hoping to get some more Russell and Madeline time in, you won’t be disappointed. Or will you?
I know I’m taking this book’s title a little too literally, but hey, it’s fun to tease.
If you love a good mystery, this book’s playful style and impressive wit are sure to win your admiration. I can’t wait for the next installment of Meddlin’ Madeline. This is yet another winner in a long line of amazing books by author Chautona Havig.
As always, happy reading!
I was given a copy of this book in case I wanted to review it. All opinions expressed are solely mine. This post contains affiliate links.
I want to say thank you for helping me by requesting a price match on Amazon. It is my pleasure to announce that “Newfangled” is now free!
I also sent the third draft of “Flummoxed” to be edited this week. I’m working with a new editor, and am excited to see what changes she suggests. That means that Flummoxed is one step closer to being published this March.
I’m working on a new project called, “From My Side: 10 Days to Healthier, God-Centered Relationships,” which will only be offered through my website free to anyone who signs up for the email updates. If you are already on my email list, I will be sending out a link for the devotional once it’s finished. Here is a preview of the cover:
I have spent the last few days reading books about marketing. I will be running a promotion of “Newfangled” on Spirit Filled eBooks for Valentine’s Day. Once it’s running, I’ll let you know, as the prize is a free Kindle Fire. I hope that any momentum will build toward Flummoxed’s release date. Keep an eye out for beta reading opportunities, and a digital launch party where I will be giving away digital and paperback copies of “Flummoxed.”
This post was originally part of my old book review website “Christian Book Lady,” which I will be shutting down next week.
I give this book 5/5 stars.
Category: Fiction :: Contemporary
Themes include: Giving Abroad, Christian Dating, Orphanages, Family, Christian Friendships
I am delighted to review Chautona Havig’s most recent edition to her collection of wonderful holiday books, “Carol and the Belles.” As usual Chautona’s natural “tell it like it is” style flows through each page, and while this book does deal with some serious issues, I didn’t find it to be too serious or heavy. If you add this to your stack of easy and enjoyable winter reading, you won’t be sorry. The story almost reminded me of Jane Austen’s “Emma” meets “The Shop Around The Corner.” I don’t want to give too much away, because that would just be a shame. It will no doubt be a Christmas favorite for years to come.
Are you curious? Good. Here is a brief synopsis that Chautona wrote that won’t give anything away.
Their childhood letters formed the friendship of a lifetime.
As part of an international school pen pal program, Carol and Michal began writing monthly letters twenty-five ago. So, when Carol’s artisan guild decides to send an emissary to the United States to investigate a new gift store and potentially negotiate contracts for importing Romanian handcrafts to several major American cities, Carol applies. Finally, the chance to meet Michal after all these years!
But Carol’s arrival in Rockland is fraught with surprises, misunderstandings, and a string of both awkward and delightful dates. Michal and the “belles” do everything possible to make the visit memorable and special, but when Carol decides to apply for a work visa, things get really interesting.
As a self-professed “world’s most non-spontaneous person,” Michal discovers that following your heart and the Lord’s leading just might also lead you into unexpected places and spontaneous decisions.
Since I met my husband through the fine art of letter writing, aka Facebook messaging, this book holds a special place in my heart.
“The Union of the North and the South,” by Ann Mock is an extremely well written tale of Lauren, a woman who has lost everything, well almost everything, when several unfortunate events take place in her life after the Civil War. Things in the South have gotten downright depressing after war. With confederate money being worth nothing, many prominent families are forced to leave their plantation homes and make another way in the world. Though Laura’s family has survived the economic devastation of the war, that doesn’t mean they are free from trouble.
This book was a delight to read. I couldn’t put it down. But at some points I felt very sad for Laura. Is God’s plan for her good? It seems like one tragedy follows another, and then there is the matter of the man that keeps trying to kill or injure her. She isn’t sure which is his goal. If you like historical fiction, you will love this book. The details were definitely well researched. There wasn’t one inappropriate moment in it, either.
Boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy. You would think that the simple beginning of “The Leap of Forgiveness” by April Geremia would lead you down a predictable path to marriage and happiness, but normal doesn’t come easy for Joshua. His past is full of dark secrets, and many of them are unknown even to him.
Just when you think this story couldn’t get any darker, lavender envelopes start magically appearing the mail, offering with them the hope the protagonist needs to press forward. Maybe the stories they tell will be just the thing to help Joshua sort out his past and embrace his future.
I loved the complex characters in this book. The care that Geremia takes with each character’s story arc must be celebrated, as each one grows in their faith and confronts the past.
I did find some of the descriptions to be too much detail. I feel that several thousand words could have been edited out of the book, as I found myself skipping over full paragraphs in search of the continuing plot. That is why I gave this book four out of five. I can’t wait to read Geremia’s next project, whenever it comes out.