When Everything You Thought You Knew Changes

Photo by Jon Moore on Unsplash

I didn’t plan for this

Hello World,

The last six months have been the most intense and difficult of my entire life. Yes, more difficult than when my three-month-old baby had to have skull reconstruction surgery. Yes, more difficult than when I had to have a spinal procedure the day after my youngest was born and I couldn’t see him because he was in the NICU. More difficult than learning that my husband’s porn addiction had resurfaced one year into our marriage. You get the idea.

What happened?

I guess I’ll go in chronological order for the sake of simplicity. I never finished ‘March Madness’ which was me attempting to write three books in the month of March. I almost finished the first draft of one, ‘Gaze at the Stars,’ a Sci-fi Rom-com based on my favorite movie ever. But then terrible things dominoed all over me and I had to stop. Everything. I stopped writing. I stopped reading (Gasp! I know… you know how much of a reader I am. It’s in my blood). The first step in my life falling completely apart was learning that we would not get our Residence Permits to remain in Greece… and that it was for literally no reason because we followed all of the requirements to… a… tee. So we started praying and trying to figure out what the next step was. As in, where were we going to move our very established family. Then, two weeks after we figured out that answer, Travis’s father—Allen Edward Spencer—got into a random and survivable skiing accident. Several days later, on March 6th, he died from a complications no one could have helped.

Photo by David Becker on Unsplash

I have never gone through such grief. I literally collapsed onto the floor and began sobbing uncontrollably. The problem was I was already at work, and the other woman who was there had never seen me so uncomposed and it scared her. My dad, or FIL if you want to be technical, was my biggest cheerleader. He didn’t understand my writing, but he helped however he could. He also told me—every single time he talked to me—that I am an amazing mother and wife and he loved me. On the many days I feel like a failure, I can still hear his voice encouraging me to keep going and keep trying.


So that was the inciting incident in my life. Lots of complicated and messing things came after that. We packed up our entire life in Greece in two days an left on flight with a promise our things would be shipped to the US. Then came probate. Probate is still happening. If there is any practical advice I can give you for the loved ones that will deal with your departure from this phase of life it is this: keep $10,000 in a bank account JUST for burial and service expenses (if you are ok with cremation… add $10,000 to $20,000 more if you want a plot and casket) and pay the $2,000 it costs to create a living trust. Because death is literally the worst, and dealing with probate on top of all the feels and details death brings in addition to dealing with governmental crap and lawyers doesn’t help. (Christine, I love you. You are the best probate lawyer ever. But you know what I mean.) Then we bought a house. Yes, that was insane. I never thought we would be able to buy a house, but the perfect place came on the market for under $100,000 and we totally went for it.

I’m grieving Greece and my FIL at the same time. It’s a lot. At some point I thought, forget it, I’m never writing again. I had a total identity crisis. I felt like a worthless lump. I had to go back and re-read my own book on godly confidence! I’m not even kidding.

But Rox Said

And on our cross-country journey from California to Pennsylvania (my new state of residence btw) we stopped to see our wonder friends in Kentucky and my friend Rox said, “When are you going to write about all this? I know you deal with things by writing about them.” I said I didn’t know and some vague comment about how I don’t feel like writing anymore and she just looked at me and said, “Well, whenever you write it, I want to read it.” That sentence keeps echoing in my mind. After a lot of prayer and just waiting on God to tell me what the next step in my life is (besides being a wife, mom, and lady that ministers to other ladies) I realize that I have to keep writing. I have so many stories left in my heart that are important to tell—not because I’m an awesome author—but because God wants me to tell them.

That To Which I Hold On

I’ve realized that my prayers have changed dramatically through all of this. I don’t pray for people to stay safe anymore. I just pray for God’s will, and if that means safe, if that means alive, then yes. That. But I’ve come to realize that whatever happens, literally whatever, that God has a plan. The best thing for me to do is lean on Him, knowing things will only progress to the point at which He wants them to progress. That doesn’t mean that I don’t still randomly weep in public (which is getting less annoying and embarrassing), but it means that after I’m done crying I remember that I’m still here because God wants me here. I don’t know what the plan is, but I can make it through because when I’m weak—and I’m so, so very weak—He is strong.

The Future

To everyone that wrote to me and/or reviewed ‘Plunge Into Darkness’, you are the best. I love you! Even if you didn’t like it, I appreciated every word of feedback. With that in mind, it is my pleasure (and my horror) to announce that I will be working on the second book of the series this November for NaNoWriMo. The working title is ‘The Knotted Woman,’ and it is going to be a bumpy ride. It is also part of my plan to get my hot co-writer/husband to finish going through ‘The Introvert Time Traveler’ so we can start writing ‘Were in Time,’ which I know is going to be amazing. He is obviously going through a lot, so if you remember, please pray for him. Before we met, his father was his best friend and losing him has been harder than hard.

For everyone that still reads these things, thank you. You are awesome.

Happy reading,

Kristin N. Spencer

Compassion Expert, Reader Extraordinare, Writer

Book Review: The Love Letter by Rachel Hauck

My Thoughts

Welcome to this installment of Kristin’s Book Reviews. Today I’m reviewing ‘The Love Letter’ by Rachel Hauck.

I give this book 4/5 stars.

If I’m being honest, I don’t normally like books that do a lot of back and forth with HUGE time jumps. But I pretty much always make an exception for this exceptional author who has mastered the art of intertwining historical fiction with contemporary fiction. ‘The Love Letter’ exceeded my expectations, and as I kept reading (I couldn’t put the book down) I couldn’t help but think how apt Hauck is at her craft.

I loved the complexity of each of the four protagonists’s stories. Things didn’t end up the way I assumed they would and I was glad for all of the different twists and turns. It was particularly fun to read about Jesse, an MIT grad turned screenwriter/actor. Pick this book up, you won’t be disappointed. The phrase ‘epic romance’ comes to mind.

About the Book

Title: The Love Letter

Author: Rachel Hauck

Release Date: June 12, 2018

Genre: Contemporary

Tour Dates: June 21 – July 4

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Wedding Dress comes a story of long-lost love and its redemption in future generations.

Romance has never been actress Chloe Daschle’s forte—in life or on screen. But everyone knows who to call for a convincing death scene . . . and it might be killing her career.

When Chloe is given a peek at the script for an epic love story, she decides to take her destiny into her own hands and request an audition for the lead female role, Esther Kingsley. The compelling tale, inspired by family lore and a one-page letter from the colonial ancestor of scriptwriter Jesse Gates, just might break her out of this career-crippling rut. Jesse would rather write about romance than live through it after his past relationship ended in disaster. But once on-set together, the chemistry between Jesse and his leading lady is hard to deny.

Centuries earlier, in the heart of the Revolutionary War, Hamilton Lightfoot and Esther Longfellow wrote their saga off the silver screen. Esther’s Loyalist father opposes any relationship with Hamilton, but Esther must face her beloved father’s disapproval and the dangers of war in order to convince Hamilton of their future together. Hamilton has loved Esther for years, and on the eve of battle pens the love letter she’s always wanted—something straight from the heart.

Set in stunning upcountry South Carolina, The Love Letter is a beautifully-crafted story of the courage it takes to face down fear and chase after love, even in the darkest of times. And just maybe, all these generations later, love can come home in a way not even Hollywood could imagine.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.

Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times. She is a double RITA finalist, a Christy and Carol Award Winner.

Rachel sits on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, and is the comical sidekick to Susan May Warren at the amazing My Book Therapy. She is a worship leader and speaker.

A graduate of Ohio State University with a degree in Journalism, Rachel is a devoted Ohio State football fan. She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.

Guest Post from Rachel Hauck

I’m always looking for story ideas. My husband does a standard disclaimer when I start drilling into a conversation with questions like:

”Really? So why did you do that?”

”Have you sought help?”

”Was it love at first sight?”

Hubster says, “Warning, anything you say can end up in a book.”

Of course, stories abound! Interesting people abound!

Then again, sometimes ideas just hit out of the blue. A few years ago I had the idea of a young, contemporary couple meeting by “accident” only to learn that their great grandparents were in love but time, life, family, war, or society made their love impossible.

I suppose there are a hundred ways to tell such a story but when it came time to write The Love Letter, I was slightly infatuated with the Poldark series on PBS.

Set in 18th century Cornwall, the story and the characters were so dynamic I had to write my own version of Poldark.

But could I write a split time with a 240 year difference? I mean, they didn’t have electricity or phones in 1780! They didn’t even have a postal system. Letters were carried by traveling friends or family.

What possible conflicts could my historical characters face? What event could be so dark and tragic to keep them apart?

The Revolutionary War created a perfect backdrop for my young lovers.

I set the story in upcountry South Carolina not realizing the battle I chose for the back drop, the Battle of Cowpens, was the inspiration for the movie The Patriot. (A fav movie of mine!)

For the contemporary story, I started with shoes. I mean, doesn’t every thing start with shoes?

”Nice outfit but what shoes are you wearing?”

”You’re going on a date? You need new shoes.”

What we “walk in” can either empower or defeat us. There’s a spiritual metaphor I’ll mediate on for awhile.

However the shoe angle didn’t quite work so the contemporary story ended up in Hollywood with an actor/screenwriter and an actress.

Both worlds—1780 upcountry South Carolina and contemporary Hollywood—were a bit out of my southern bailiwick.

I did a lot of research on the war and the colonial south. Where I couldn’t find details, I filled in with my imagination.

As for Hollywood, I talked with a screenwriter friend, read books, watched interviews, and then, you know, made the rest up. Don’t you know I eventually ended up on a movie set—Once Upon A Prince—four days after I finished reading the galley proofs for The Love Letter!

One of the hardest parts of the story was the actual love letter. What did it say? Who wrote it and why? Was there more than one? No, only one. But why only one?

I must have written and rewritten the letter five different ways to Sunday before I settled on the magical one.

During the course of the book, I realized I’d never written a love letter. Have you?

I’ve written sentiments to my husband on an anniversary or birthday card. I speak my love and affection out loud all the time. But a bonafide love letter?

A love letter is it’s own art form. They range from sickly sweet with a lot of “darlings” and “sweethearts” to Shakespearean sonnets.

There’s a vulnerability that comes with writing a love letter. Putting one’s heart on the page creates a new level of commitment with your affections.

Will the reader receive your words? Will the reader respond in kind?

It’s fascinating to consider the purpose of a love letter. Have we lost something intrinsic to the human heart with our instant texting and email society.

Can you imagine Romeo texting to Juliet in 2018?

Saw you at your window. You looked hot.

Doesn’t quite have the same ring as: “But soft! what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun.”

Scripture is a continuous love letter. “For God so loved the world—”

Whether you write love letters or poems, or quick texts, or put XO’s on cards to loved ones, write a love letter this month.

Write one to yourself, to Jesus, a spouse, child, parent, friend, foe—

See how it will bless your heart! Off to write my love letter…

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, June 21

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, June 21

The Avid Reader, June 21

Genesis 5020, June 21

ansel book blog, June 22

Blogging With Carol, June 22

Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, June 22

Cover to Cover and Everything in Between, June 23

The Power of Words, June 23

Luv’N Lambert Life, June 23

Janices book reviews, June 23

C Jane Read, June 24

Kristin’s Book Reviews, June 24

Reflections From My Bookshelves, June 25

Faithfully Bookish, June 25

By The Book, June 25

Reading Is My SuperPower, June 25

Kat’s Corner Books, June 26

Maureen’s Musings, June 26

Ladybug Chronicles, June 26

Carpe Diem, June 26

Moments Dipped in Ink, June 27

Mommynificent , June 27

Godly Book Reviews, June 27

God’s Little Bookworm, June 28

Radiant Light, June 28

All-of-a-kind Mom, June 28

Have A Wonderful Day, June 28

Novels corner, June 29

Blossoms and Blessings, June 29

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, June 29

Bigreadersite, June 29

Pause for Tales, June 30

Bibliophile Reviews, June 30

Splashes of Joy, June 30

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, July 1

Simple Harvest Reads, July 1

The Christian Fiction Girl, July 1

A Baker’s Perspective, July 1

Remembrancy, July 2

amandainpa, July 2

To Everything A Season, July 2

proud to be an autism mom, July 3

Texas Book-aholic, July 3

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, July 3

Fiction, Faith, and Fun, July 4

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, July 4

Jeanette’s Thoughts, July 4

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Rachel is giving away

Grand prize of a Kindle Fire 7
Semi-Grand prize of a book basket
2nd – 4th place prize of a copy of The Love Letter!!

Click here to enter.

 

I was provided a copy of this book by CelebrateLit in case I wanted to write a review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not instructed to give a favorable review, I just loved the book.

Plunge Into Darkness – NIEA Finalist & Blog Tour

Hey everyone,

I have two exciting things to share. First, ‘Plunge Into Darkness’ was a Finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards in the ‘Friendship’ Category. Yay!

Second, I wanted to let you know about the ‘Plunge Into Darkness’ blog tour. I’m so excited to read all the reviews, and in case you are too, here is the list of participating bloggers. Happy reading!

A Baker’s Perspective, June 5

Rebekah’s Quill, June 6

Blogging With Carol, June 7

Multifarious, June 8

Bigreadersite, June 8

Ashley’s Bookshelf, June 9

Two Points of Interest, June 10

Reading is my Super Power, June 10 (Interview)

Luv’N Lambert Life, June 11

Janices book reviews, June 11

proud to be an autism mom, June 12

Texas Book-aholic, June 12

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 13

Jeanette’s Thoughts, June 13

Carpe Diem, June 14

Pause for Tales, June 15

Margaret Kazmierczak, June 16

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, June 17

For The Love of Books, June 18

Book Review: The Simple Soul of Susan by Noel Branham

My Thoughts

The Simple Soul of Susan‘ by Noel Branham

Category: Christian Fiction, Romance, YA

I give this book 5/5 stars.

My son was home sick with the stomach bug and was feeling pretty miserable. I thought back—what did my mom do when I wasn’t feeling well? She would run me a bath. So I filled the tub up just enough for my little five-year-old to soak, and sat on the floor with my Kindle next to the tub.

“Mommy, can you read that out loud to me?”

“Sure,” and I read the first chapter of ‘The Simple Soul of Susan’ to my son. Since it’s completely clean, I didn’t have to worry about censoring anything.

“Mommy, this book has nice words.”

“Yes, it does. I like it so far, do you?”

“Yes I do. But doesn’t she know that just being a kid of God makes you special?”

“I hope that by the end of the book she does.”

“Me, too.”

This book squirreled its way into my heart instantly. The feeling that it gave me transported me back—via nostalgia—to what it felt like to read books as a pre-teen girl. Susan is an amazing protagonist. There were so many times when I cried for her. Calder is great character as well, but I feel like his mom—Tia to Susan—kind of stole the show. There are so many wonderful characters in this book. If you are looking for a Christian story with mentions of the Bible and Jesus, you will be disappointed. God is rarely mentioned in this book, but I still loved it. The story is so unique and interesting I had a hard time putting it down. This book is a clean romance, and though it deals with some serious issues, it wasn’t a heavy or depressing read. I also want to mention that the cover is gorgeous! I will definitely be watching Noel Branham and look forward to whatever other books she has coming out in the future.

About the Book

Title: The Simple Soul of Susan

Author: Noel Branham

Genre: Romance, YA, Coming-of-Age, Contemporary

Release Date: October 11, 2017

Susan Combs had long ago found the love of her life. The only problem was the other party still didn’t know he had been found.

Every day Susan saw Calder Hurtz, her next door neighbor and childhood best friend. They always enjoyed the short drive to school down the dusty streets of their small Texas town. She was happy in those perfect moments, for her life at home was most imperfect. The challenging homestead she inhabited was also the favorite subject of local gossip.

But one autumn day she overhears Calder and another boy having a conversation. This occasion of accidental audience sets Susan’s life on an unforeseen path. In the seasons to come, her future will be changed by two hospitalizations, two confessions of love, and one betrayal.

Compulsively readable, The Simple Soul of Susan is an engaging, soul-endearing romance and a mesmerizing debut.

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Born and raised in a small Texas town, Noel Branham started her career in digital communications after graduating with a degree in English. An award-winning communicator, she now writes from her residence in Florida about things closest to the heart: home, family, and love.

Guest Post from Noel Branham

Fictional Romance: A Real Relationship Killer?

You’ve heard it before… All romance novels give readers unrealistic expectations of relationships. Yep. They totally do. But I think most of the time, with life in general, we have unrealistic expectations not only of others but of ourselves. We live in a world where there is always something else to try, buy or satisfy our ever-evolving aspirations of happiness and fulfillment. So here are three things to remember while reading romance novels that will lead to having deep, meaningful, romantic, relationships in real life:

  1. Happiness isn’t fulfilled expectations. When you expect yoursignificant other (SO) to see you and romantically sweep you off your feet while pulling flowers from behind your back and force feeding you chocolates… you may have some unrealistic expectations. Would it be nice? Sure! But there is always something more they could do to make you happy, feeling loved, satisfied, etc. It’s a bottomless pit of desire and implied anticipated actions. We have to realize that no matter how many things we want out of a relationship, we can never receive them all… because realistically, we could never live up to the things expected of us either. Romance is a two-way street.
  2. Happiness is the unexpected, fulfilled. Wait… how can you fulfill something that isn’t expected? You can’t. And that’s what makes it so great. Your SO fills your car up with gas, takes you out for a date for no particular reason, watches that Victorian-era PBS drama with you even though they can’t understand the accents… When we get rid of expectations for ourselves and others we are able to really enjoy the things and people we already have and anything else is simply adding to lovely life that we already possess.
  3. Happiness in relationships is what you make of it. Just not feeling the love anymore after five years together? Was it that you chose the wrong person? Was it something they did? Something you did? Love can be a feeling and an action. Your relationship doesn’t have to be defined by feelings. Feelings fade. They aren’t realistic. They change with time as people change with time because all people change. But actions… actions are what you choose to do on a regular basis. They are a daily intentional choice (made by you) to care for another person. You can control your actions, but not so much your feelings. Funny thing is often times your actions create feelings you never thought you could have.

If you are looking for a romance novel with a bit more realism to test out these principals, check out The Simple Soul of Susan. You can have the realistic expectation that you won’t be disappointed 🙂

Blog Stops

Among the Reads, May 10

The Christian Fiction Girl, May 10

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, May 10

Multifarious, May 11

Remembrancy, May 11

Two Points of interest, May 12

Blogging With Carol, May 12

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, May 13

Inklings and notions, May 13

Kristin’s Book Reviews, May 14

proud to be an autism mom, May 14

Artistic Nobody, May 15 (Spotlight)

Texas Book-aholic, May 15

Mommynificent, May 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, May 16

The Fizzy Pop Collection, May 17

Janices book reviews, May 17

Pause for Tales, May 18

Jeanette’s Thoughts, May 18

Bibliophile Reviews, May 19

Carpe Diem, May 19

A Baker’s Perspective, May 20

margaret kazmierczak, May 20 (Interview)

Simple Harvest Reads, May 21 (Guest post, Mindy Houng)

Reading is my Super Power, May 21 (Interview)

Christian Author, J.E.Grace, May 22

Bigreadersite, May 22

Reader’s cozy corner, May 23

Josephine’s Thoughts, May 23

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Noel giving away

Grand Prize: $50 Amazon Gift Card First & Second Place Prize: eBook copy of the Simple Soul of Susan!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/cee4/the-simple-soul-of-susan-celebration-tour-giveaway

 

 

I was provided a copy of this book in the event that I wanted to write a review. All opinions are mine.

Book Review: Fine Print by Chautona Havig

Hey there. I haven’t had an opportunity to read this book yet, but I’m so excited to! Just to prove how awesome this series is, check out my reviews for Sweet On You and Such A Tease. As soon as I finish I’ll post my review.

About the Book

Book Title: Meddlin’ Madeline Fine Print

Author: Chautona Havig

Genre: Historical, Mystery

Release Date: February 20, 2018

Budding detective, Miss Madeline Brown, has gained quite the reputation for “meddling” in the circa 1900 city of Rockland. With two successful “cases” under her belt, it was only a matter of time before she found something new to interest her insatiable curiosity.

This time, however, the “curiosity” found her.

Challenged by Edward Gastrel, to prove her deductive prowess, Madeline embarks on riddling out the puzzle of a journal left to him by his grandfather. If she can decode the contents, the local gentleman may find himself in the possession of something quite valuable.

As usual, however, things aren’t as they seem, and Madeline finds herself in a race against more than time and ambiguity.

About the Author

Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert where she uses story to point readers to the Master Storyteller.

Guest Post from Chautona

Denny’s. “America’s Diner.” It’s also my “office away from my office away from home.” Most nights I write at our local prayer house. But on Wednesday nights for a few hours, and then all night on Saturday, I sit in booth 14 and write.

It was a cold, frosty Wednesday night. With thoughts from Bible Study still swirling in my mind and heart, I ordered my loaded baked potato soup and began brainstorming with my writing and podcasting buddy, April.

She left around midnightish—as usual. And another evening regular began chatting.

Look. I like this guy. He’s a fascinating conversationalist. We have a lot of fun talking books, movies, politics, history, computers… He’s even given me a great idea for a book (without meaning to, but still).

But… that night, I needed to get a bunch done on Madeline and didn’t have time for chatting. So, when he started talking about his evening, I wanted to bang my head on the table. I kept repeating, “People are more important. People are more important. People are more important,” over and over in my head.

I can’t tell you how often this has happened at Denny’s. Employees stop to chat. Regular diners stop to chat. This guy starts a long conversation and always on nights I can’t afford to spend… chatting!

But everything shifted in an instant.

The man said something—what, I can’t remember—and my brain started churning.

I asked a question.

He answered.

The next thing I knew, he’d moved into my booth and began firing questions at me. Suggestions. Most of what he suggested wouldn’t work with the story, but he had no way of knowing that. Still, every time he did I got a new idea. And I’d ask a question. He’d answer, suggest. I’d counter—ask or answer. Ideas blossomed and exploded into seeds of even more ideas.

And right there, at two o’clock in the morning, with Angela the wonder server keeping me in fresh glasses of Coke, Fine Print went from not only my favorite of the Madelines (thus far) but also became much more exciting.

The whole thing taught me a couple of lessons. First, I always say that people are more important than the “stuff” I do. Sometimes, that’s not so easy to live. But the Lord is always faithful, like He did that night, to remind me that it sometimes helps me, too.

Second, sometimes a mid-book brainstorming session is just what I need to keep my excitement high. And, if that means a “wasted” Wednesday night in booth 14, then I’d say it’s worth it.

Blog Stops

Texas Book-aholic, March 6

All-of-a-kind Mom, March 6

Bigreadersite, March 7

proud to be an autism mom, March 7

Pause for Tales, March 8

Multifarious, March 9

Blogging With Carol, March 9

Bibliophile Reviews, March 10

Connie’s History Classroom, March 10

A Greater Yes, March 11

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, March 11

Lots of Helpers, March 12

Janices book reviews, March 13

Jeanette’s Thoughts, March 13

Carpe Diem, March 14

A Baker’s Perspective, March 14

The April Journal, March 15

Kristin’s Book Reviews, March 15

Mary Hake, March 16

New Horizons Reviews, March 16

Simple Harvest Reads, March 17 (Guest post from Mindy)

Among the Reads, March 17

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, March 18

Pursuing Stacie, March 18

Aryn the Libraryan, March 19

Have a wonderful Day, March 19

Giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize package worth over $50 that includes an antique journal, Pilot fountain pen (gold), Pilot refill cartridges, and a print copy of Fine Print!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries! https://promosimple.com/ps/cc14

Plunge Into Darkness – Launch Day!

Today is launch day. Normally on these days I’m so excited I can barely stand it, but today I don’t know how to feel. I want you to come on this adventure with me, and I thought the best way to explain why was to tell you in video form. From my heart to yours…

Get your copy, now on Amazon.

Synopsis:

Two girls.
A village with a dark secret.
Their only hope is a mythical figure Ever Morena has only read about in her father’s lone book.
Ten years ago Ever’s best friend disappeared without a trace. Though the loss of her friend only came close to killing her then, the truth of what happened might finish the job now—just when her future as the village healer is looking bright.
Ever must risk everything she loves in order to plunge into darkness on an impossible journey in the middle of the Concealed Forest.
Never before has redemption been so costly.

‘Plunge Into Darkness’ Cover Reveal!

I am so excited to share this with you! I was blessed to work with the talented Paraskevi Kourmpeti, who created the illustration of Ever for the cover. Her amazing illustration inspired this wrap around cover–a style that I hope to use for all the covers in this series.

I can’t wait for you to read this book. If you are interested in receiving an Advanced Reading Copy, there is still time. Email me at Kristin.n.spencer[at]gmail[dot]com ! And stay tuned for a video blog later in the week to explain why I wrote this book and to enter for a chance to win a free copy!

Happy reading!

Kristin

Why Consent is More Romantic than Assumption

Our walk home from school is always full of interesting tidbits from each of my daughters. Today my oldest—currently in fifth grade—informed me that the boys in her class were collecting spit in their mouths to show all the girls in their class. To gross them out. Because that’s the kind of thing fifth grade boys do. But my concerned mommy switch flipped when I thought I heard my daughter say “They were kissing all the girls.”

WHAT?!?

“What? That’s sexual harassment! They can’t do that!” Yes, I was already preparing a rant in my head for the school principal.

“Showing us their spit is sexual harassment?” Confused daughter tilts her head sideways as she speaks.

“Oh, I thought you said kissing…”

“I said spitting… Why would kissing us be sexual harassment?”

“Because they can’t just kiss you when you don’t want them to. They don’t have your consent. If someone ever tries to kiss you when you don’t want them to you yell “No” and run away. Find an adult.”

“What if we WANT them to kiss us?” Chimes in my younger 8-year-old daughter… Blessed handful doesn’t begin to describe her.

“Well, I hope you won’t kiss anyone anytime soon, even if you want to.”

Older daughter redirects the conversation. “But it’s not like you ask someone before you kiss them. Daddy didn’t ask you before he kissed you for the first time, did he?”

“Well… yes, he did… he said, ‘Is it ok if I kiss you?’”

“What?” Her expression told me all I needed to know about how wrong we’ve gone. All of us.

Photo by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash

Communication is not a Romance Killer

Young girls don’t think consent is romantic. But why? To my daughter, her daddy asking me if it was ok if he kissed me is so much less dreamy than if he had just sensed that I wanted him to and done it. But asking is more romantic, isn’t it? It means he cared whether I wanted to or not. It means he considered my boundaries, mood, and deepest desires. Listen, I love Rom-Coms as much as the next gal, but there’s something we’ve gotten wrong. Communication is not a romance killer. Because of a steady diet of random lovey mush dispersed in girl horse movies and shows (my oldest daughter has the classic ‘girl loves horse’ thing going on) my daughter has been trained by Hollywood (or more likely, Canada) that men should assume to know if a girl wants to be kissed and act on those instincts. Though I applaud the #MeToo movement and anything that makes survivors feel more supported and able to stand against their predators, more needs to be done. We need to address this stigma in media including but not limited to little girl horse movies, other movies, books, comics, and the small screen. We need to show our characters communicating even when silence might seem more exciting.

Photo by Kristina Flour on Unsplash

But Why?

The Writer part of my brain wants to know why we would rather show the silent anticipation of a kiss instead of something else. I’m not sure of the answer, but my hypothesis is that we’ve seen it that way—over and over until it’s been pre-programmed into our brains—and so that’s the way we write it. Would we ever write a scene like my first kiss with my adorable and considerate husband? Probably not. But why? I can guarantee you that there was no lack of whimsy in that moment. I still remember exactly where we were, what time it was, and how his lips felt and tasted. So here is a challenge to all my writer peeps out there… purposefully write relationship scenes that take consent into consideration.

After a few minutes of pause my younger daughter weaved the conversation back toward her question.

“Why shouldn’t I want someone to kiss me?”

“Because when you kiss someone, there are feelings involved.” Mommy is speaking from experience.

“Why did someone invent ‘spin-the-bottle’?” The older one is now interested in this vein of thinking.

“Because some people think kissing is just fun. They don’t understand that when you make those emotional attachments to people you are giving away little pieces for your emotional heart. You never get them back.”

“OH! It’s like that song!” Younger daughter says.

“What song?” I can’t possibly think of any song that talks about this topic.

“Last Christmas I gave you my heart, but the very next day, you gave it away…”

Pan to the three of us singing loudly all the way home and our neighbors with puzzled expressions as we approach our building.

Good luck getting that song out of your head.

-Kristin

P.S. This is my 50th post! Yay!

Book Review: UnStuck by Chris Dupre

My Thoughts

‘UnStuck’ by Chris Dupre

Category: Christian Non-Fiction

I give this book 5/5 stars.

It’s been a habit of mine to read a Christian Non-fiction book whenever I’m fasting or waiting on God for an answer. Usually though, the books I’m supposed to read find me instead of the other way around. ‘UnStuck’ by Chris Dupre was no different. It was just the book that I need to read during this season of my life. I found the stories and biblical applications so encouraging and inspiring. To me this book was like having a series of conversations with an old friend. I want to mention that some may find the story of the woman not wanting to sing worship on stage during large services odd. It is unfortunate that this is one of the first things we read because it is a bit of a strange story. But please, keep reading. The rest of this book is a treasure. Here are two of my favorite quotes (I actually cheered aloud when I read them):

“Our influence is not in the abundance of our words, but in the abundance of His character within us.”

“There’s a big difference between reacting and responding.”

This is a wonderful book for anyone that is pondering, “Why am I going through this, God?” I know we’ve all been there. Allow Chris Dupre to tell you why it isn’t a bad thing to be stuck, and how God will propel you forward spiritually if you so allow Him.

I was given this book as part of a CelebrateLit Blog Tour. All opinions are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.

About the Book

Title: Unstuck

Author: Chris Dupre

Genre: Self-help, personal growth

Release Date: November 14, 2017

Do you feel like you missed the boat? Are you burnt out? Have your feet been dragging the sidewalk? Do you catch yourself dreaming of what could have been? Of if-only-I-had, or if-only-I-hadn’t? This book is for anyone sitting in the audience who should be on stage, anyone reading blogs who should also be writing them, anyone supporting ministries who should be leading them. It’s for the Christians who know there is a better life, but who are just stuck in the one they’re living.

Saved in the Jesus Movement of the seventies, Chris DuPré connected with countless Christians across the world. Yet too many of those Christians, Chris discovered, have years later lost the fire and stepped back from living out their faith. Why? Because they got stuck—stuck in rejection by others, stuck in fear of the unknown, stuck in loving a comfortable life, stuck in scores of similar ruts. What can set them free from their internal prisons? And what could Christians accomplish if we all just got unstuck?

Click here to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Originally from Upstate New York, Chris moved to Kansas City to work alongside Mike Bickle in establishing the International House of Prayer. Chris recently served as Associate Pastor at Grace Center Church in Franklin TN, and is now an associate pastor of Life Center in Harrisburg, PA. A pastor, teacher, worship leader, traveling speaker, and spiritual father to many, Chris may be best known for his song “Dance With Me.” He has produced eight albums and published three books, including The Wild Heart of God (Whitaker House, 2016) and The Lost Art of Pure Worship with James Goll. Parents of three daughters and grandparents of four grandchildren, Chris and his wife, Laura, reside in Harrisburg, PA.

Guest Post from Chris Dupre

I grew up in a small town about 30 miles east of Rochester, NY. Winters there could be brutal. One year, I received beautiful new pair of boots which I loved, particularly for the joy with which they enabled me to engage in the marvelous sport of puddle jumping. One day when the ice and snow had begun to melt, I eyed a nice puddle and jumped in the middle sending a freezing splash in all directions. But wait, something was wrong — this was no ordinary puddle! This one was made to capture people, and I was captured! Frantic, I pulled one foot out, but no matter how much I tried, the other foot would not budge. My boot was stuck. I was stuck! I pulled and pulled until finally my foot came free in a soggy sock. My beautiful boot had been left behind, buried beneath the slush. My little mind was faced with a choice. Did I care enough about to do something? It only took a second to act. I loved those boots. I found a stick and began to fish. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally pulled out my boot. That’s the first time I ever went fishing and was glad to catch a boot instead of a fish.

My desire with this book is to address some of those “stuck” moments we all face. I want to provide keys that will hopefully open a door or two that have held you back on the incredible journey of life. I say a door or two, or even three, because it’s almost always more than one thing that gets us stuck. Ah, but God—He is the change factor in all of this and in Him we can break free.

Blog Stops

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, December 28

Mary Hake, December 28

A Reader’s Brain, December 29

Carpe Diem, December 29

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 30

A Baker’s Perspective, December 31

New Horizon Reviews, January 1

proud to be an autism mom, January 2

Books, Books, and More Books., January 3

Kristin’s Book Reviews, January 4

A Greater Yes, January 5

Texas Book-aholic, January 6

Blossoms and Blessings, January 7

Janices book reviews, January 8

Bigreadersite, January 9

Pursuing Stacie, January 10

Giveaway

In honor of the tour, Whitaker House is giving away

Grand Prize: Unstuck: Hope for Christians in a Dead-End Job, Dead-End Faith, or Some Similar Soul-Shriveling Rut by Chris DuPré; The Wild Love of God: A Journey That Heals Life’s Deepest Wounds by Chris DuPré;” Covenant” Pillar Candle scented with ancient biblical fragrances from Abba Jerusalem, and a Whitaker House Grown-Up Coloring Book

First Place Prize: Unstuck: Hope for Christians in a Dead-End Job, Dead-End Faith, or Some Similar Soul-Shriveling Rut by Chris DuPré; The Wild Love of God: A Journey That Heals Life’s Deepest Wounds by Chris DuPré;” “Man of God” Ceramic Mug, CTAInc.com; and a Whitaker House Grown-Up Coloring Book

Second Place Prize: Unstuck: Hope for Christians in a Dead-End Job, Dead-End Faith, or Some Similar Soul-Shriveling Rut by Chris DuPré; and The Wild Love of God: A Journey That Heals Life’s Deepest Wounds by Chris DuPré”.

Click the link to enter! https://promosimple.com/ps/c457