Thursday, December 21, 2017


Book Review:  The Stranger by Linda Maran



by Linda Maran

Kindle, paperback

330 Pages

White Rose Publishing

After Kristen Esh’s mother dies in an accident, seventeen-year-old Kristen, on direction of her mother’s arrangements, must leave her home on the Jersey shore and go live with her mother’s Amish family. A family that her mother left years earlier and whom Kristen didn’t know existed until now. Kristen arrives in Stone Arabia in upper New York, a remote place where she soon finds the Amish there have no electricity, no indoor toilets, no cell phone privileges, and she must wear Amish clothing.

Kristen plans to stay until her boyfriend, Derick, can come and snatch her away from all this. That is, until she finds out that Derick back in Jersey is dating her best friend. Kristen feels rejected and all alone in a strange new world. Now, she must live with her Aunt Elizabeth and her husband and his son, John, from his first marriage. John reads Kristen’s plight on her sad face and helps her adjust. John is courting Sadie but shows Kristen around to get her acquainted with the area. As time goes on, John finds himself thinking less about Sadie and more about Kristen and he begins to wonder if he's courting the right girl.

Kristen finds a certain attraction to John, but she still plans to return to the Jersey Shore when she turns eighteen and her mother’s estate is settled. Until then, she must adjust and settle in. But a car keeps driving by the farm and someone keeps leaving notes in the mailbox that say the outsider needs to return to where she has come from. But why? Again, Kristen feels rejected. She never knew her father, only his rejection. All this weighs heavy on Kristen. 

MY THOUGHTS: The Stranger is a lovely, heartwarming story about a girl who must live in a strange place with people she has never met before, but Kristen soon discovers that she is on a journey to find out about the mystery with her parents and to uncover the stranger within her. 

For more information on Linda Maran, visit  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Book Review: The Christmas Admirer by Laura V. Hilton

The Christmas Admirer

By Laura V. Hilton

Kindle, paperback

256 pages

Whitaker House Publishing
Susanna King has a secret admirer who leaves her gifts with an anonymous note. The boy she was courting, Benaiah Troayer, broke up with her when his parents died, and he took on the responsibility of taking care of his three siblings and his grandparents. Benaiah didn’t feel it would be right to bring a new bride into a house with so much work and decided not to marry her and make her take on those obligations. Of course, she would have, but Benaiah was stubborn and wouldn’t ask. 
Susanna loved Benaiah and hoped he would change his mind. Benaiah worked for her daed in his glass-blowing shop, which meant she saw Ben every day and hoped they could court again. But, he was determined in his resolve and treated her with cool reserve and gave her no indication that he would change his mind.
Her daed, a widower, started a long-distance courtship with an Amish woman in Iowa and decided to marry her and sell his farm and business and move his family to Iowa. That meant Susanna would have to go along since a young, single girl could not respectfully live on her own. Susanna was heartbroken that she had to leave their farm and Benaiah. She was hoping her secret admirer would hear she was leaving and ask her to marry him, and she hoped he was Benaiah.
The Christmas Admirer is an adorable Amish romance that showed when love is involved anything is possible. The story is a page-turner, so grab your hot cocoa, a comfy chair by the fireplace and enjoy.
For more information on Laura Hilton and her books, visit



Friday, October 27, 2017

                                               Writing with Feeling

If you’re a golfer, you know that if your stance feels right, your hands are placed properly on the club, your swing has a good arc and carry through, and your contact with the ball hits in the sweet spot, you’re ball will launch beautifully into the air. It’s the same with bowling. When you’re ball hits in the pocket at the proper speed, it’s a strike.
What does all this mean to a writer?

For your writing to hit the pocket, or the heart of a reader, it must show feeling. Your writing is that ball sailing across the page toward the pocket. That doesn’t mean just thinking of a good chapter-opening hook or a chapter-closing hook. It means the whole chapter needs to grab the reader and not let them go.
What does that look like, or better yet, feel like?

It means your chapters need constructing with the right emotion (swing) that can dance the words across the page in such a way that it holds the reader’s attention until the very end of the story. Those words must create interest, they must promise excitement through tension and passion, and they must call the reader to action, which is namely, to keep on reading. 
Sound easy?

It is if you keep your reader in mind as you write. Here are ten steps to help you construct that perfect story.
  1. Make sure your story flows logically. Simply put, follow the cause and effect method. Don’t have her jump off a building if she hasn’t climbed to the top yet.
  2. In golfing, before the golfer hits the ball, he has to be able to imagine the line and aim toward the flag at the hole. Likewise, the writer has to plan what each chapter needs to contain in order to build a successful story that will carry the reader’s interest to the end.     
  3. For a story to have depth, the hero needs a backstory that adds complications to their life, affects their decisions, and interferes with the choices they make. What’s your hero and heroine’s backstory? Sprinkle it throughout the story. As the story develops, the reader needs to understand why the hero acts the way he does. 
  4. Reveal character mood through scenery and action, through clothing and habits.
  5. Paint the story with powerful verbs and descriptive nouns. Don’t just say he got in his car. Show it. He wiped a smudge from his pristine Jaguar before he lowered himself onto the buttery-soft seat. His hand didn’t touch hers; it caressed hers. His love didn’t just warm her, it wrapped around her heart.
  6. Punch up your story with hooks and a compelling emotional journey for your hero/heroine that will draw in the reader and mesmerize them until the end of the story.
  7. Conflict should follow your hero/heroine like a puppy. A problem, new twist, unknown information should cling to each chapter and plague the character. Love, happiness, the solution to solving the mystery or catching the killer in a thriller, should always flea ahead of the hero/heroine just out of arm's reach. Make them suffer. Don’t give them what they want. Make it a journey to chase that dream. 
  8. Storytelling thrives on tension, emotion, and passion and that translates to a hunger for the reader to stick with the story until it ends.
  9. Keep the readers guessing. Make the story unique and fresh. Paint the story with coloring that will interest, excite, and draw the reader’s core curiosity. It’s human nature for a human to be curious. It’s how electricity, the automobile, and the airplane were invented and why the caveman ventured out of his cave. They were curious. The reader, too, wants to see if the heroine and her love interest get together, if they extinguish the fire in time, if the plane lands safely, and if the hero gets what he wants after struggling all the way through the story.
  10. Tip: The best story-building tool that I found is the book Story Engineering: Mastering The 6 Core Competencies of Successful Writing by Larry Brooks.

Monday, June 5, 2017

                               Kalona, Iowa

                    Right in the middle of Iowa's Amish Community

                                       This is the setting for my next novel.                 

Kalona sets right in the middle of the Amish community of Iowa. Saturday, my husband and I visited there and had a great time. Which means, we brought back bread and pies from the Amish bakery, Golden Delight Bakery & Gifts. If you visit there, don't miss it. It sets about a mile out of town.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

  Book Review: What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman

What She Left Behind

By Ellen Marie Wiseman

Kindle, paperback
337 pages

Kensington Publishing Corporation

What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman easily ranks as one of the best books I’ve ever read. It is a dual plotted fiction about two young women, Clara Elizabeth Cartwright and Isabelle Stone.  

Clara is eighteen when the story begins in 1929. Her father is a rich, powerful banker and a spiteful man. When Clara disobeys him and rejects his arranged marriage because she is in love with a poor, Italian immigrant, her father is furious and sends her to a genteel home for nervous invalids. When her father loses everything in the stock market crash, he sends her to Willard State Asylum, a very crude institution to say the least. For Clara, who was not mentally ill when she arrived there, it was a challenge for her to retain her sanity in those conditions and knowing what her parents did to her for just disobeying. Clara tries to tell the doctor that she is sane, but he fails to believe her.

In 1995, Isabelle (Izzy) Stone and her foster mother, Peg, stumble upon Clara’s steamer trunk at the now closed Willard when the state for a short time, allowed Peg’s museum into the closed asylum to photograph and review old records. Izzy is intrigued when they find Clara’s diary and reads it, which sets Izzy on a journey of her own to find out more about Clara’s life hoping it will help Izzy understand her own mother who is in prison for killing Izzy’s father. Izzy wants to understand what would drive someone to do such a horrendous crime.

Destiny places Izzy on a life-changing path when she delves deep into the mystery of Clara’s life at Willard. Moreover, in the end, finds out something startling about herself, her mother, and Clara.

Clara's life was an excellent story and I could not put the book down until I seen what happened to her. At the end, Wiseman cleverly revealed how Izzy and Clara’s destiny overlapped. The story also showed an interesting parallel between life today for the youth and the strict upbringing that children were forced to endear in the early twentieth century and earlier.

Ellen Marie Wiseman’s next book, The Life She Was Given, will release July 25, 2017.    

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Novel Rocket: 5 Tips for Sparking Creativity

Novel Rocket: 5 Tips for Sparking Creativity: By Beth K. Vogt @bethvogt My husband brought me roses the other day. A lovely bouquet of blush flowers, which he put in a vase on the kitc...