From my own collection, you can get Jailbird, Ties That Bind, and Ring of Fire free all this week!
With the holiday craziness fast approaching, Booktrope thought it would be nice to give you an early present, with over 200 books free for your Kindle right now. Load up and treat yourself! Check out the full list here.
From my own collection, you can get Jailbird, Ties That Bind, and Ring of Fire free all this week!
There are several Vox Dei (Christian) titles free this week, too. Get that full list here.
So fill up that Kindle, and remember to take some time for you in the craziness of the holidays!
Perhaps the title of this post is long enough to be obnoxious, but it's what comes to mind when I think of The Misadventures of Princess Sydney series. The stories star a feisty cockapoo, pet to author Chris Minich. My in-laws had a cockapoo for years, so the stories would have especially resonated with my boys. I can just imagine curling up with them to read this one; it kind of makes me miss those days - just a little. Anywho, today is the cover reveal for the second installment of the series: Have Parentals Will Travel. Whether your kids are young enough you'll want to read it to them or you've been scouring the libraries for books for them to read on their own, this one is worth checking out. ~Heather
Misadventures of Princess Sydney: Have Parentals, Will Travel is the second book in the Princess Sydney series. Readers call Minich's writing, "fun-filled," "insightful and creative," and "heartwearming." If you are between the ages of 8-12, a dog lover, or a kid at heart, this book is for you! You can find Chris’s books on Amazon or BarnesandNoble.com
About the book:
“You’ll have a great time,” said the Parentals. But Princess Sydney knows better! America’s favorite crafty cockapoo reluctantly embarks on summer vacation, along with her bumbling brother, Buddy. She expected chaos, but she she never expected to lose her cool when the trip takes an unplanned turn. Silly boy dogs, leftover pizza, and fair maidens are just a few of the bumps along their travels that will keep readers laughing and in love in this second book in the Princess Sydney series. As Sydney would tell you, “Why wouldn’t it?”
About the Author:
Chris Minich is a writer living in Snoqualmie Washington. He enjoys spending time with his wife and their two precocious dogs, Sydney and Buddy. Chris is also a die-hard Seattle Seahawks fan. You can find out more about Chris and the Princess Sydney series on his website, www.chrisminich.com, twitter, @cockapoosyd, Instagram, https://instagram.com/cockapoosyd/ or Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/cockapoosyd.
And the big reveal...
Don't let the title mislead you - today's post isn't a recipe for one of my favorite drinks. It's a guest post from Vox Dei author Wendy Lynn Decker, whose YA novel Sweet Tea recently re-released under the Vox Dei banner. I was completely blown away by her book, and asked her to be a guest on my blog so I could share it with all of you. Stay tuned after the article for more information about and an excerpt from Sweet Tea. ~Heather
Readers often ask me if I intended to write an issue-related young adult book. My answer is, yes and no. I intended SWEET TEA to be a story about a girl fearing to be left alone to care for her mentally ill mother when her older sister (the main caretaker) moves out. She fears this responsibility and is determined to create an opportunity to make her future more important than her sister’s, so her sister will remain caretaker. Along with that goal, comes the guilt of whether it is fear or selfishness that prompts her motive.
While attempting to write that story, an additional one began writing itself, and I couldn’t keep the issue of mental illness a side note; it became a major part of the story. However, I didn’t want that to be the story’s only focus. I wanted to include the elements and challenges that young adults face, e.g., friendships, crushes, temptation, confusion, etc. I also wanted to add the dark humor moments that arise during these situations.
In addition, I love fiction, and reading it all my life helped me escape my own reality in my later teen years. As the story progressed, I realized I needed to move it further away from myself because I grew up in a home where mental illness existed. Setting it in Georgia made that happen. During the initial writing of my book, I had never been to Georgia, but a childhood friend grew up there, and my adult, best friend had recently moved there. Georgia was calling my name, (kind of like it did for Ray Charles). I also love music. Without realizing it, I now know these connections led me to choose that particular state.
After researching the area where my friend had moved, I decided to create a fictional town nearby, surrounded by factual cities and landmarks. The more I learned about the people there, as well as the long-existing mental hospital, I began finding characters there too. One after the other, speaking in a southern drawl, they allowed me get to know and love them.
While writing the book, I shared it with other writers and friends for critique, and they began sharing their own stories of dealing with mental illness. I knew that the subject touched many people. I wanted to add more detail to educate readers. This is important to me, and it should be important to society since one in four people have some form of mental illness, but when it is a parent, like in the case of Olivia (the protagonist in my book), it is devastating. It's no secret that the childhood years leave the most impact on who we become as adults, and when we have parents with mental illness there is no escaping the effects. Children in homes often don’t realize their parent is afflicted, and/or they are embarrassed to tell anyone. Therefore, the stigma needs to be erased and society must be open-minded and educated so people can get the help they need.
Writing for young adults is a passion for me. That young person inside me is very much alive, and I find it comforting to write from her perspective. My emotion remains near the surface and is easy to tap into. All in all, I’d like to think I’ve created an entertaining book that makes readers laugh and cry while educating them on a very important topic that makes them think and feel.
About the author: Wendy Lynn Decker has lived in thirteen different towns in the state of New Jersey. Now, she lives a bike ride away from the ocean and her favorite restaurant. She is the author of the middle-grade chapter book, THE BEDAZZLING BOWL, which is the first book intended for a series.
Find her here
Excerpt from the book:
The emergency room at Henry Medical Center smelled like cigarette smoke and urine washed over with antiseptic. I’d never been there before, and I didn’t expect to see so many people that resembled those with the symptoms the doctor on the talk show spoke about. Although most needed physical care, many seemed to need mental health care, and this wasn’t a mental hospital.
Some of the people roamed about like zombies in B-movies. Their vacant stares said, “I’m still here, please come find me.” Many of the patients were pacing, as if they were taking part in some kind of ritual. Some shouted words at random. One woman seemed to be speaking in a language only she could understand. I was afraid to make eye contact with anyone, for fear someone would approach me. But I knew I had to look around the room.
An old woman with only one-half of her head braided asked me for a cigarette. One already hung from her twisted lips. It felt like we had wandered into a secret society meeting, and we had better find Mama and get out while we could.
I overheard one of the nurses say to another, “It must be a full moon tonight.”
“My goodness,” the other nurse responded. “I haven’t seen it like this in quite some time. That strong lunar force is drawing them out like vampires to a blood bank.”
CeCe and I approached the desk. “Excuse me, ma’am,” CeCe said to the desk clerk. “The police told us a woman that fits our mother’s description has been brought here.”
“What’s her name?”
“Cassandra Travis,” I answered, surprised at how faint my voice sounded.
She thumbed through her roster. “The police brought in a Jane Doe. We’ve been asking her name, but she won’t tell us.” The clerk motioned toward a nurse. “They’re here to see Jane Doe in room twelve.”
The nurse nodded and said, “Follow me.”
I thought of Luke and was glad we’d left him at home.
CeCe and I followed the nurse down a long corridor. Blue curtains covered doorways on each side. We approached the last room on the left, and the nurse pulled a chart from a hook on the wall. She opened the curtain. “This is Jane Doe.”
I don't do many events these days, but reviving 61 Strong is forcing me out of my hermit cave a bit. Our first event is Saturday, November 14th from 6 - 9 pm in St. Louis at 3617 Grandel Square. We're hosting a game night to benefit Kaleidoscope Network. You can check our their website to learn more about them, but I think the recent Twitter chat hosted by 61 Strong did a great job of really capturing who they are and what they do.
I'll have books for sale at the event, and there will be chances to win books. It's a family friendly event with games for kids of all ages and the young at heart. We're encouraging area churches to bring their youth groups. Fingers crossed, Vox Dei YA author Tabitha Caplinger will also make an appearance. (Oh my goodness, her novel is good.) We'll have lots of fun prizes (non-book stuff, too!) and some snacks on hand, with more available for purchase. We're suggesting a $10 donation per person/ $20 per family, but we're flexible. You can give more or less as you can.
For my readers in the St. Louis area, you should stop by! I'd love to meet you.
I'm in a terrible mood. It's been the kind of week that has me debating between breathing fire and curling up somewhere by myself to have a good cry. Or maybe both. When the big and small things of life, work, stuff start to pile up, it's easy for me to forget what God's done in my life.
I'm one of several authors contributing to a compilation of essays and devotionals that will be released by Vox Dei Publishing in 2016. One of the stories I wrote for that keeps coming to mind. I'm sharing it today because I need the reminder. Some of you know the story, some of my newer readers may not. Either way, I hope it serves as a reminder that God still moves mountains. He's still around and He cares, whatever you're facing, big or small.
Most moments in life melt quietly into the next. Some change everything—you can clearly see the line between life before and life after.
At 6:45 p.m. on March 31, 2011, I was happily showing my husband how responsive my mare, Sassy, had become. Questions about next steps in life had been set aside and the entire family was looking forward to dinner at the new Culvers in town.
At 7 p.m. I was kneeling over the lifeless body of my middle son, begging, “Lord Jesus, bring him back to me.”
The moments in between replayed through my mind every time I closed my eyes for months after. My middle son, who was just seven years old at the time, asked if he could cool Sassy down for me. More like he begged. He’d been bullied that day at school and told me that a horseback ride was the only thing that would make it better. Sassy was in a great mood and had just given me the best ride of her life, so I agreed. Blake had ridden her a hundred times before, so he knew the ropes. The smile on his face as he shimmied through the gate will be forever etched into my memory.
For reasons I will never know, our beloved horse was placid and responsive until, without warning, she spun to the right and bolted. Being bred a working cow horse, she pivoted so quickly and with such a large stride, it knocked Blake loose in the saddle. He held on for a stride before tumbling backwards down the side of the horse.
It happened so quickly he didn’t have time to react or push himself away. He landed in the sand with a thud. About the time I breathed a sigh of relief that he was okay, her rear hoof grazed his forehead. He wasn’t breathing when I fell beside him in the sand. I rolled him over and cleaned the sand out of his mouth. He had no pulse, he was completely lifeless, and CPR got me no response.
I stopped what I was doing, placed a hand on him, and wailed, “Jesus bring my baby back to me.” He sucked in a sharp breath, but his eyes didn’t open. My husband was already on the phone with 9-1-1. My other two sons snapped out of their shock and asked what they could do. I told the oldest to put the horse in her stall and take her tack off so she’d be out of the paramedics’ way when they arrived. I told the youngest to pray.
God bless those boys, they’d just seen the most horrific thing of their lives, but they sprang into action. Sassy had stopped dead in her tracks the instant she’d felt her hoof connect with Blake. She watched from the corner, head hung. Dylan retrieved her and made sure she was okay and out of the way while Christopher fell to his brother’s side, taking his limp hand into his own and praying with all of his six-year-old might.
As I knelt over my son, praying harder than I ever had before, I distinctly remember the moment where I acknowledged, He’s yours God. I’m asking you to give him back to me, but I trust that he’s yours.
The paramedics came and took him to a nearby hospital, and still Blake slept. At the hospital, they told us he would have to be airlifted to the children’s hospital in the city. They gave my youngest son a stuffed puppy to “take care of for them,” and then they let us in to say our goodbyes. Blake’s little jeans and flannel shirt had been cut away. His face was horribly disfigured. And still he slept.
Once Blake was loaded into the helicopter, we followed in our car, praying and crying the entire way. Blake’s smile was seared into my brain and I grieved I’d seen it for the last time. When we arrived, they ushered us past the waiting lines and back to a waiting room. There, the in-flight paramedics sought me out with tears in their eyes to tell me they were sorry; they’d done all they could. Blake was still breathing, but initial scans showed no brain activity. The doctors gave us no hope. Again, we were let in to say goodbye.
But everything in me railed, NO! God did not give him breath again to take it away now. He will be healed. Our pastor was there, our parents were there, my sisters were there, and my best friend showed up to take my other two boys to eat before going home with her. The next few days were, to say the least, surreal.
Once I got it in my head that God was going to heal Blake, I began to fast and pray. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t eat until Blake was awake again. Each time the medical profession told me there was no hope, God gave me a glimmer of hope. Each dire pronouncement was met with improvement on Blake’s part. His brain “woke up” on pictures. He moved a finger on command. He squeezed my hand. All spread out over days and nights of prayer. If I slept, it was sitting straight up beside him, his hand in mine.
And then came the day when they said they were worried about swelling on the brain, that they’d have to operate if he didn’t wake up by the next morning. Unbeknownst to me, one of my sisters called the local Christian radio station to ask for prayer. I found out when the first stranger popped their head in to say they were praying for us. As it turns out, the whole city was praying for us. And that evening, a pair of blue eyes made their appearance.
I can’t imagine how scary that must have been, waking up in the ICU, in pain, with a giant tube down your throat and needles in your arms. By the next morning, though, the tube was taken out and Blake was even able to ask me for vegetables. It was my mother’s birthday, April 5. I remember my mama and I both weeping for joy at the sound of his voice.
Time and again, Blake and God defied all logic. We were told he’d be in the hospital indefinitely. He was released in 10 days. We were told he’d need in-patient rehab, he wound up qualifying for day treatment, so he could come home with us each night. They said it would take years before he healed. Six months later, the doctors admitted he’d been healed for over a month, they’d just had a hard time believing it.
Don’t get me wrong—it was a hard road. Blake worked hard each and every day, fighting and clawing his way back to the child he’d once been. The entire family made sacrifices as things shifted and rearranged to accommodate our new normal. I left my cozy corporate job to be with Blake through rehab, which meant we had to leave our expensive home in the suburbs. We went from middle class to poor with a mountain of medical debt overnight, but none of that really mattered in the face of the miracle God was working right before our eyes.
And, in a way that only God could orchestrate, all of those changes put us on a path we were always meant to be on, one we’d been stumbling around trying to find before the accident. The obvious miracle came the moment God put breath back in my son’s body, but it was followed by countless subtle miracles that will forever shape my life and faith.
Since then, Blake has gone back to being the life of the party. He lives to make others smile, and he’s really good at it. We’ve since moved, and people in his new world don’t know about the accident unless we tell them; there are no outward signs it ever happened. Sure, Blake has challenges to face he didn’t have before, but I think those aren’t so much about an incomplete miracle as reminders lest we forget, as we humans are prone to do.
About a year after the accident, a woman I didn’t know approached me to tell me that she’ds been one of the countless people praying for Blake. She’d just come back from a trip to Jerusalem, where she’d given a Sunday devotional at the tomb of Jesus Christ. The story she told was Blake’s.
Sometimes, we act like God stopped working miracles after the book of Acts. But Jesus told us that if we had even a bit of faith when we asked a mountain to move into the sea, it would be given to us.
What mountains do you need moved today?
If you want to be notified when the compilation is available, sign up for Vox Dei Publishing's monthly newsletter to be notified of new releases.
I have other posts I want to write, stuff I want to share, but all of that kind of fades to the background when there are baby goats on the farm... and there are baby goats on our farm again!
I get so tired of mending fences, I'm terrible at milking, and when we do milk, we tend to give as much of it to the dogs as we actually process because I get too busy. And lately, the goats have been particularly goaty, which makes me sorely tempted to sell them all and live in peace.
But then the next kidding season rolls around, and the babies make everything worth it all over again.
It's been a crazy few days (weeks) at work. When it gets to be too much, I go outside to soak up the sunshine and watch the babies hop around for a few minutes, and the irritation just sort of melts away.
So for now, I'll keep my goats and the headaches they bring, if for no other reason than the sheer joy of having babies around the farm twice a year.
Because baby goats make everything better.
Happy Cover Reveal day to author Angela Whisenhant! The cover is absolutely gorgeous!
By Angela Whisenhant
Release Date: 10.27.15
About the book:
One bad decision can change your life forever. Alyson Carter has always put her family first, so the small town of Sage Grove is shocked to learn she’s abandoned them for a man she met online. Seeking a more exciting life, she moves to his horse ranch in Colorado.
Attempting to adjust to life without her, her husband, Kurt, accepts an opportunity to train with the FBI, reluctantly allowing their daughter, Lacy, to move in with a family friend. When the friend is kidnapped, it’s discovered Lacy was the intended target.
Pursued by unknown assailants who will stop at nothing to catch her, Lacy finds herself scared and alone. She turns to her mother for protection, unaware that her mother’s secluded mountain sanctuary has become a prison. Alyson discovers she’s merely a pawn in the deadly game of a man she thought she knew. Secrets and lies draw her family onto a collision course with cold-blooded killers.
Her ill-fated decision has placed them all in danger, and she is forced to confront her enemy head-on to protect herself and her daughter. Now she must depend on a God she turned her back on and the husband she left behind to save them both.
Check out the book on Goodreads.
About the author:
Angela has been a passionate reader her whole life and that love of reading developed into a love of writing. She is excitedly awaiting the publication of her first novel, Tangled Web. She wants to tell the stories of real people who make real mistakes and, yet find real redemption. People who are leading normal lives and suddenly find themselves thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Sometimes they make good decisions and sometimes bad decisions. But either way they must live with the consequences.
Much of her inspiration comes from her life in a small town and her love of all things suspense. Her perfect storm is when the two collide. Crime in a small town impacts everyone because of the close ties.
Angela lives in Texas with the three loves of her life; her husband Leslie and sons, Kyle and Chase. Other than writing, she loves coffee, 80’s music, hiking in Colorado and HGTV. She aspires to live a joyful life, always chase her dreams and never settle for mediocrity.
Find her here:
Website | angelawhisenhant.wordpress.com/
Facebook | AngelaWhisenhantAuthor
Twitter | @angela_whiz
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I'm a writer, a mom, a wife and a homesteader. I do what I can to end slavery and fight for justice.