Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Calling All Book Lovers!

Calling any and all book lovers!
This invitation is for you if you love books!

Just click on this image on September 30th to be whisked away to the Literary Lodge (otherwise known as Read Another Page).…-hop-real-heroes/

I am happy to share this invitation with you today because I have participated in this blog party before and it was such fun!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Retellings: A.M. Heath and A Season Passed

I'm super excited to introduce you to the third author sharing her retellings with us: A.M. Heath. She's pretty much been my "big writing sister" these past few years. I've been blessed by her advice and in addition to that, she writes some pretty sweet stories.

Meet A.M. Heath...
Besides being an Indie Author, I’m a wife, mother of four, children’s Sunday School teacher, sweet tea drinker, history fanatic, romantic, bubbly, lover of broccoli, and a retired cake decorator who has a soft spot for Christmas trees, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What I’m not is a laundress (or at least not one who keeps up very well), a duster, tall, or patient in a doctor’s office.

You can connect with A.M. Heath on these other social media sites: Site, Facebook, Tea Time with A.M. Heath Facebook Group, TwitterGoodreadsBookBub, and Pinterest *Note: I’m most active on Facebook.

Where to purchase: Ebooks and Paperback on Amazon

 A.M.'s Retellings...

Liz Cooke has two problems in life: Her social media is filled with brewing political conflict and her idea of a perfect man seems to have gone extinct a century ago. Inspired by the contents of an antique trunk, Liz dreams she time-travels to 1885. As she sets out to enjoy the Victorian era in all its glory, armed with knowledge gleaned through historical novels and period dramas, will she find the past to be all that she thought? And does the right man for her exist only in her dreams or has he been in her life all along?

Loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland, A.M. Heath brings you a fun read chock-full of humor and whimsy with a special message for the avid reader in all of us.

During a snowstorm, Betty Tanner finds herself stuck with her estranged husband. Spending Christmas with Glenn wasn’t what she had in mind, and her thoughts reluctantly travel back three decades to their first Christmas together, when another snowstorm caused her to wreck her car outside the Tanner home … 

1954: Stranded with the Tanners over Christmas, Betty is forced into the company of Glenn, who has spurned her for years. But as the snow falls outside, the walls between Betty and Glenn begin to melt, revealing a side of him she never knew existed. A side she longs to know better.
Pride and bitterness can make a beast out of anyone. And the hardships they face in their relationship are of their own making. But can following Christ’s ways lead Betty and Glenn to the reconciliation they long for?

A.M. Heath invites you to spend Christmas with the Tanners in a dual-timeline novel loosely inspired by Beauty and the Beast. You’re sure to fall in love again and again.

Find out more about this series here.

Can Scrooge find love from a friendship gone cold?

Sanford Stone cut ties with his best friend, Natalie, in favor of the love of his life … a woman who ended up walking out on him just before Christmas. Six years later, Sanford can’t bring himself to celebrate Christ’s birth with any joy. Little does he know, his grandmother and her companions have dubbed him the Scrooge and intend to help him overcome his bitterness and find happiness again.

The only thing that has hurt Natalie Dunivan more than Sanford cutting her out of his life has been watching his long-held grudges slowly destroy the man she has always loved. When Ms. Carol devises a plan to reach out to Sanford, Natalie eagerly agrees.

Sanford accepts his grandmother’s challenge to celebrate Christmas for 31 straight days, but he didn’t count on her plan involving Natalie. Can his family and friends help their Scrooge see the error of his ways, or will Natalie’s presence only make things worse?

Stay updated with Christmas in Garland projects here.


Behind the Retellings
A note from A.M. Heath...

Thanks, Amanda, for the opportunity to share! I love retellings. I think it takes an extra dose of creativity to tell a new story while keeping certain aspects of the original in place. With most novels, everything you write is all your own and the sky is the limit in terms of what you can do or where you can go. So to suddenly be restricted in ways and yet still walk away with something new and fresh … well, I admire the work involved. And I confess, I totally geek out while reading a retelling.

As for myself, I have two retellings out and one on the way.

ASeason Passed is a series full of retellings. The first two books are available. Book one, IfOnly It Were Yesterday, may not be a technical retelling but it’s heavily inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Book Two of the series, Yesterday’sChristmas, is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Still to come in the series are Cinderella and Snow White retellings.

Just on the horizon is my A Christmas Carol retelling titled Project Scrooge which is due out later this year.

My process behind writing a retelling is to take on the challenge. Retellings are not anything new. We’ve seen movies and books retell classic stories for decades. 

So I start with the questions:
What is my favorite story?
If I could redo any story, which one would I choose?

Once I have a story in mind, I consider all the known versions already out there. How did they change the story? How did they keep it the same?

Now what can I do that is completely different? What hasn’t been done already?
How can I flip this story over on its head by putting it in a location, era, or using characters that are vastly different from the original and other notable retellings out there?

And for me, that’s the really fun part! Most of my ideas started just as a fun challenge. Kinda like a parlor game for the mind. I just wanted to see if I could come up with something. I didn’t have to write it. I only needed to create a solid idea.

Sometimes I spend a few minutes or hours, and sometimes it takes days or even months and years to come up with the perfect solution to my puzzle. In fact, I have some ideas currently in progress in my mind right now. I can feel that there’s a valuable idea there, I just can’t grasp how it will come together.

But once the idea takes root and I decide it’s more than just a game but a story to tell, I begin to take a closer look at the original. While I’m in the early plotting and writing stages, I reread the original work, pulling out any quote that jumps out at me. I might use these quotes in the dialogue or as epigraphs throughout the novel.

Part of my plotting process is to consider the elements of the original that I want to keep in my story and the elements that I will introduce as original.

For If Only It Were Yesterday/Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: I wanted to keep the concept of the heroine falling asleep and having this grand adventure that teaches her something in her real life. I also wanted to keep the whimsical side where some things just didn’t make much sense, as well as some of the quirky personalities we meet from Carrol’s story.

But I wanted to change the setting and the overall theme and message of the story. And, naturally, I wanted to add in Christian elements as well.

In Yesterday’s Christmas/Beauty and the Beast: My plan was to tell a love story about a woman who is stranded in the home of someone she doesn’t like and how their love blossoms from being forced into each other’s company. I kept small nods to the original, especially the movie, by using a dance scene, a rose, and even a library.

But one of the biggest things I changed was to tell the story as a dual-timeline where Glenn was the beast in their early days but Betty becomes the beast when she allows bitterness to taint their marriage.

For Project Scrooge/A Christmas Carol: I really struggled to create the most famous ghost story without using ghosts at all. There have been so many creative takes on this story so I wrestled with this one for some time. I wanted to keep the concept of being taught a lesson by someone around him, but I searched long and hard over how to pull it off.

One of the biggest changes I made was to make Sanford bitter instead of greedy. And his story is a love story at heart. But I was able to use a lot of the original dialogue and I even kept the staves instead of traditional chapter breaks.

I hope you enjoyed this little peek inside my workshop. Whether you’re a writer or not, I’d love to hear which story you’d retell if you could.

And as a special treat, both of my retellings are on sale this week.  

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Feeling nostalgic...

I've been thinking about this little book a lot lately. 

An author's first "real work" holds a special place in their heart. Sure, a few of my short stories reached the Amazon shelves before this one, but this was the story that really made me believe that I was an actual author, not a hobby writer. I learned so much while writing and publishing it--lessons that I have applied to every single project I have done since its release. And yes... sometimes I just get nostalgic over it... guess memories do that to you. ;)

What is the book that holds a special place in your heart (this question can apply to both authors and readers, so have at it!)?

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Retellings: Angie Thompson and The Good Samaritan

Today's retelling feature is a Biblical retelling!

Meet Angie Thompson...

An avid reader and incurable story-spinner, Angie Thompson also enjoys volunteering in her church’s children’s program and starting (but not always finishing) various kinds of craft projects. She currently lives in central Virginia near most of her incredible family, including two parents, six brothers, one sister, and five siblings-in-law—plus two nieces, five nephews, and several assorted pets!

Angie's Retelling...

Three boys. One choice. No turning back.

Peyton is a rising star in the church who is well on the way to reaching his biggest dreams. Levi is a pastor's son struggling to live up to his faith under pressure from all sides. DaVonte is a kid from the wrong side of town who would be content if he and his friends were just left alone.

When an act of violence presents a sudden decision, each boy's answer will shake the community to its core and shape its future forever. Love and truth face off against fear and pride in this modern extension of one of Jesus' best-known parables.  

Behind the Retelling
A note from Angie...

Thanks so much for having me, Amanda! I'm really looking forward to this series and very honored to be a part of it.

Now, before I begin, I want to take one moment to address the invisible elephant in the room. Okay, maybe not quite invisible, but the one only I can see. Wait, did that sound worse? :D Anyway, I have to be honest--I knew next to nothing about writing a retelling when I started Bridgers (a modern retelling of the Good Samaritan parable). I'd never read or studied or even thought too hard about what made a good retelling. But when the idea hit, I went with it, aided by recollections of retellings I'd read/heard/watched, a large dose of my own imagination, and God. Definitely God, because my story would have gone nowhere without Him!

So this is the point where you either quietly slink away because you realize I am not going to have proven, rock-solid craft tips for you, or you stick around because you realize that the fact that I did it means you can definitely do it too! (I'll give you a second to make up your minds. No judgment; I'll even shut my eyes... ) :D

For those of you who are still here, I hope you're well on your way to the biggest lesson of all--you can do this! It doesn't take mountains of skill and oodles of research; all you need is a story you love, an intriguing "what if?", and an open mind.
The Story

If you're going to do a retelling, definitely pick a story that resonates with you in some way. An author trying to tell a story they don't enjoy is yuck, but an author trying to tell a story about a story they don't enjoy? Double yuck! If you've always felt "meh" about the plot of Cinderella, don't choose it just because it's classic. Find the stories (or parts of stories) that make you prick up your ears. ("Wait, did someone just say 'dragons'?" Or 'outlaws'? Or 'fuzzy animal friends'?) This will be different for each person, but knowing what it is that draws you to the story is crucial to creating a retelling that feels alive and vibrant and not like a cardboard cutout. Remember, too, that even a strong negative reaction can be a jumping-off point for a crucial twist. If you can't get over the feeling that the princess really should have saved the knight in the climax, then maybe that's the story you were meant to write!

For me, there were two things that really caught my attention when I started thinking about the Good Samaritan parable--the heavy animosity between the Jews and Samaritans and the very personal care of the Samaritan for the wounded man. Eventually, both of these pieces not only pushed me to write the story but also heavily influenced the theme, tone, and plot.

The "What If?"

The "what if" question is crucial to any story--at least for me--but it's even more so in a retelling. It's the part that makes the story your own. If you want to write a story about a band of archers living in medieval England who rob from the rich to give to the poor, well, at this point, you don't really have a retelling. Actually, you have...the original. It's the "what if" that makes your story distinct. A "what if" can range from small to huge and any size in between. If you've got a story that grabs you but don't know what to do with it, try playing around with different questions. ("What if the setting was different?" "What if Robin Hood was a girl?" "What if the sheriff's men were secretly working with the outlaws?") Keep at it until you find one (or more) that stick. Just do remember to save enough of the original for people to recognize; if your steampunk heroine doesn't do archery or have a band of loyal friends or work to help the poor, people aren't going to recognize her as a Robin-Hood type, no matter how much green she wears. ;)

For me, there were two big "what ifs" that I worked from while writing Bridgers--the modern-day setting and the teen cast of characters--and both of them had a significant impact on the plot. Just because a setting change sounds like a minor adjustment, don't underestimate all the complications it can bring! But the balance of being true to the original while working out your "what if"--that's where your story really has a chance to shine!

An Open Mind

This last piece is crucial for achieving balance between the original story you love and all the complications that come with your "what if". It's really easy to limit yourself to one set of options--usually the first one that comes to mind. (Priest = pastor, obviously. Donkey = well, it would have to be a car, right? Thieves = uh, thieves, duh...) But before you commit to those choices, sit back and think for a bit. Peel back the layers of the story and make sure there's not another aspect that's more important than keeping a strict one-for-one swap. Would combining characters or tweaking a role or changing the action a bit bring the theme into focus better? Just like you need to be careful not to stray too far from your core concept, you should also be willing to have a light hand on some of the details, or you run the risk of writing a story that feels contrived and doesn't resonate with readers, no matter how close it sticks to the original. Remember, to make your story a good retelling, it also has to be a good story!

There were several places in my own story where looking beyond the obvious choices made for a better or deeper plot point than I had thought of at first. But by far the biggest breakthrough came when I gave myself permission to go beyond the bounds of the original parable and explore what would happen next. At that point, the story exploded (not literally) and gave me some of the best dialogue, the most fun characters, and the most poignant moments in the whole book.

So, there you have it--three of the biggest lessons I learned from writing my own retelling. And since this means you're already a step ahead of where I was when I started, what are you waiting for? Go out and get started already! I can't wait to see all your creative ideas!

Any thoughts, opinions, or arguments? Hit me up in the comments! I'd love to hear what you guys think. :)  

Monday, September 9, 2019

3 Month tour winner!

I don't usually go the old-fashioned route with drawing giveaway winners because...
Well, for today anyway, I'm at school and can't very well write up a few dozen slips to draw (and... the only container I have is my water jug; no thanks!).

So, thanks to a handy-dandy online generator, names were entered and drawn!

Congratulations, Kassie! I can't wait to share my stories with you!

Meet the Heroine | Librarians of Willow Hollow

You know about the series...

You know about the titles...

Now, you get to meet HER! The main character!! Lena Rose Davis. She's just fifteen. Likes to be ignored. And has a history of hurt.

Want to meet the other heroines? Hop over to the blogs of Faith, A.M. Heath, and Alicia.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Happy Read-a-Book Day!

It’s national read-a-book day!!!!! 

As a small way of celebrating, I decided to snap a quick shot of all my books.

1... We’re not going to talk about how long it took me to get this picture. 

2... But, wow! This is THE FIRST time I have compiled all my books into a picture (minus a couple short stories). 

3... WHEN DID ALL THIS HAPPEN?!?! I am completely overwhelmed with what GOD has done here!!!! <3 

4... God is so good!!! It is by His grace alone that any of this has happened!!

What are you reading today??? If you’re an author, send me an all-book picture of you and your works!!!

In chronological order of publication

13 Reasons Why Blog Tour and Giveaway

I love being a part of tours with authors I'm friends with--and whose message I support. The choice to accept life is a message I fully support and I'm excited about Faith's and Kaitlyn's book supporting this message!

Guest Post

13 Reasons Why is a Netflix TV series centered around a young girl's suicide. There's debate about whether it promotes suicide or simply raises awareness, but the undeniable fact is that this show has persuaded others to take their own lives. Each episode explains a reason for the girl's suicide—13 episodes, 13 reasons. Since both Freedom and Beloved deal with the topic of suicide, we decided to name our blog tour the 13 Reasons Why tour—but each day, we are giving reasons to choose life. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, loved beyond measure by our Creator. And that makes every day worth living.

About the book

Having just returned to American soil from the desert sands of the Middle East, James Greene is done with his life. 'Double amputee' doesn't seem like a strong enough phrase to label the physical and emotional pain he bears. Add the lack of love and communication with his family members, the demons that haunt him day and night, and he can find nothing worth living for. Ending it all is the only way out. 

Alexandria Lorance is a not-so-ordinary physical therapist, content with aiding in her patients' recoveries. Her work gives her fulfillment, but alone in the silence, she still endures the hidden scars of a past, unhealthy relationship. Reminding herself that true healing is found in Christ alone, she seeks to show kindness and love to everyone she meets.

When these two broken ones' paths intersect, the spark of friendship is ignited, bringing hope and joy to both. Can they step out of the darkness of suffering and into the freedom of grace? 

A Marine, broken by war. A therapist, scarred by words. A chance meeting in a parking lot bonded them together. But can love grow in these two hurting hearts? Or are they truly too broken to ever find lasting happiness? 

About the author

Saved by God's grace, Faith Potts is a teenage writer and homeschool graduate, living with her family and beloved yellow labs in the North Carolina mountains. When she’s not weaving stories, consuming large amounts of coffee, reading stacks of books, or studying American Sign Language, she can be found laughing harder than is healthy, daydreaming, and—of course—blowing dandelions.

About the book

Life without love is hopeless.

Foster teen Cara Richards is unloved. With nothing left and nowhere to go, she is determined to find peace, no matter the cost. But despite her intentions, she’s tossed into another foster family and this time, there’s no going back to who she used to be. To make matters worse, one of her five new foster brothers is a Jesus freak, and she refuses to believe that God actually cares.

Her world is thrown upside down in a way she never expects. Though she prides herself on a resilient heart, her mind is lost adrift among a sea of questions: Is death really the answer? Does God care about someone as unworthy as me? Can everyone truly be loved, no matter what?

About the author

Kaitlyn is a farmer's daughter and a born-again believer in Christ with an obsession for books and music. It is these obsessions that led her to write her own stories. Psalm 46:10 gives her inspiration, her brothers make her laugh, and there's nothing quite like the excitement of opening an unread book for the first time. Her passion is to share the steadfast love of her Savior through the writing that takes up much of her free time, whether actual writing takes place or writer's block, in which case she's probably browsing Pinterest.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Retellings: Sarah Holman and Vintage Jane Austen

Today, I'm excited to announce the start of a blog series of guest posts! All about... retellings!!! I have authors lined up for a few weeks, sharing about their retellings of Jane Austen, Fairytales, Biblical parables, and more! I can't wait for you all to meet these authors and learn more about their retelling processes! Starting us off is Sarah Holman!

Meet Sarah Holman...

Sarah Holman lives in central Texas with her amazing family. When not working on her next novel, she can usually be found hanging out with her siblings, reading, or taking long walks. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it’s because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Sarah's Retelling...

What if Jane Austen’s Emma lived in America in the year 1930?

The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.

Will she help Catarina find the man of her dreams? Why is her father acting so strangely? Will the downturn affect her life, despite her best efforts?

Working Together to Retell Stories
A Note from Sarah...

Retelling a story can be challenging. I’ve written my own short-story versions of three fairy-tales (Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow Queen). However, when a friend inspired me to start a series retelling Jane Austen’s novels, I knew this was going to be a whole different kind of project.

Having wanted to try to do a group project for a long time, I invited some friends to each take a novel. We each picked one of Jane Austen’s famous stories, wrote a novel, and promoted them together. I learned a lot along the way. Today, I thought I would share some of the important things I learned and some things I got right. I’ll also share some fun things about the series!

What Went Right
I came up with a couple of things to tie the series of novels together. First, all the books would be set in the 1930’s (different years, same decade). No major plot points from the original book would be changed (No Lizzie and Mr. Collins getting married). And we had one character who made a cameo appearance in each story based loosely on Jane Austen herself. Having this in common, we moved forward.

Having a time in history we were all researching together was very helpful. We would post interesting things we found out and ask questions of each other. The burden of the research being shared was such a blessing. No one had to do a crazy amount of research, everyone did some.
We created a Facebook group. Where we discussed our books, research, and hashed everything out. We also continue to use it to plan promotional events and the like. Having a group is such a great way to stay connected.

We were very blessed to have someone who was excited about the project who helped set us up a website. Having one website to send people to for a multi-author project was such a blessing.

Lessons Learned
I think the biggest lesson I learned was that many expectations have to be spelled out. Because of the authors I chose, I figured we were all on the same page when it came to the standards of the content of our books. While that was mostly true, some things that seemed obvious to some of the authors weren’t to others. I learned to spell out expectations for what is and isn’t allowed as well as the tone of each story.

Group projects where you’re working together to build a series can be difficult for new writers or designers, as there’s a lot of pressure and time constraints. While obviously not a hard rule, I think experience is something to take into account.

One other thing I’ve learned is to make sure you have the costs spelled out the members upfront. It will cost something for cover and such, make sure that (as much as you can) you have those numbers to give to people upfront. Surprising people is not a good idea.

How it All Turned Out
I still get so excited when I see people read one of our books! We all worked together and when anyone succeeds, it feels like a victory for all of us! I loved seeing how each author took the story, adapted it, and made me love it all over again. Yes, I like some of the stories better then others, but that’s to be expected.

I loved revisiting an old favorite and taking the characters to a new setting. We all had to admit that transferring the stories to the 1930’s was relatively easy.  Many aspects of the story fit well into this historical setting.

Doing this project has made me want to do more group projects. In fact, I’m working with a group to do a special Christmas novella collection. I also have a couple other ideas for some group projects in the works. If you want to keep up with that, you can join my newsletter.

Now, I’d like to share my retellings with some of you! I’m giving away an audiobook bundle to one person and three other people will get some of them too! Enjoy!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Tales of Faith Giveaway | 3 Month Tour Conclusion

In conclusion to the 3 Month Tour, I'm giving away a complete Tales of Faith paperback series (U.S. addresses only, sorry)!!

But before I get to that, I did draw the winners for last week's release tour. Congratulations to...
P. Knapp for the paperback series!!
Lissa L. for the eBook series!!
I'll be emailing both of you. :D

Now for this giveaway...

To enter, it's going to take some serious blog-hopping, so I'll warn you: be prepared. ;)

How this works
- Visit a 3 Month Tour post.

- Comment.

- Check the box for the blog/month you commented on this form.

- Repeat.

- Bonus: share this blog post.

The more blogs you comment on, the more entries you have.

JUNE POSTS (feating Befriending the Beast)

JULY POSTS (featuring The Secret Slipper)

AUGUST POSTS (featuring Protecting the Poor)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Thankfulness Habit

Why is it that bad habits are easy to keep and good habits are easy to lose? About a year ago, I began keeping a “gratitude journal” where I wrote 7-10 things I was grateful for each day. Then, life got busy and I neglected my journal. 

This summer, God convicted me that I needed to pick it up again—and this time, I decided to keep it on my phone so I could add to it randomly throughout the day. And then I realized... it had been *weeks* since I added to my journal.

My first reaction is to give up even trying. But then, I realize that *that* won’t help me anyway (seeing as the whole purpose of a gratitude journal is to get my focus on the blessings instead of the burdens of the day)... 

So today, I journal. Tomorrow I may forget, and if I remember three days later, I’ll journal again. Giving up because I’ve forgotten one too many times is not the solution. 

Do you keep a gratitude journal? Is it by hand or on a computer or phone?

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Two New Books! | Rebekah A. Morris and Angie Thompson

Rebekah Morris is a friend who's writing I can trust, so I'm excited to have her and a friend on my blog today for their release tour!!!

Thanks for joining the excitement of the release of two new books! This may be a different kind of blog tour than you've ever seen, but I hope you'll join the fun! Each blog post on each day will be different. No two will have all the same images, or information, so to learn more about these books, check out the other blogs this week!

And yes, each book is on sale this week for only 99¢, so get it before the price goes up!

A quote from A Brother is Born

"The door was closed, but a sudden burst of laughter sounded from behind it, and I paused, fighting the sudden longing that swept over me—a longing to slip in and hug Jess goodnight before I went to sleep, to feel his arms around me and know his love for me was as secure as Johnny’s."

A quote from By Paths Unknown

  “But how will I know the way, Mom?”
       “You will, son. If you pray and ask for wisdom, He will give it. He’ll also give you peace about your path.” She drew a long breath and closed her eyes, her hand still holding Austin’s.
       He had wanted to ask her if she had peace in the path God had led her, but he didn’t have to. He knew. He had seen it behind the pain in her eyes, he had seen it in her smile. She had peace.

Purchase your own copy!
A Brother is Born – 
By Paths Unknown – 

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