The Texting Book Story – A Guest Post

When I signed up to review Where Dandelions Grow, I also had the option of Lydia guest posting on my blog. Today, I’m excited to share with you a part of the backstory for the book—who the real people are. This was something I was curious about, as I saw a mention of this “texting book” in the story, so I’m interested to hear a little more about how this story came about today!

Welcome, Lydia!

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Only the bestest of cousins could inspire a story like Where Dandelion Grow, and my cousins happen to be the inspiration.

Alexa and Aubrey are close in age to my sister, Helena, and I, and we did everything together. Right after I turned eighteen, Helena and I got an opportunity to go help some missionaries in South America—only we’d be leaving in two weeks and we’d be gone for two months, including missing out on the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Texting Book Story

The town where Lydia and Helena stayed.

When we told Alexa and Aubrey they rearranged their schedule so they could come and spend a couple days with us before we left. We lived out in the country and their cell phones didn’t work out at our place. All throughout the visit, the girls kept scribbling stuff in a notebook that they were carrying around. When Helena and I asked about it, they told us it was their “texting book” and since they couldn’t text from our place they were just jotting down all the texts they wanted to send, so they could do it later when they had service.

We obviously knew they were joking, but it wasn’t until later that we found out what the book was really for. They’d written us a note for each and every day that we were going to be gone. That way, whenever we felt homesick, we could just open the book and read a delightful memory, joke, story, or piece of encouragement from them.

That was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. I read and re-read the book many times while being gone—especially on the holidays when I was missing home the most. The book helped keep homesickness at bay and made me feel loved. Each time I read the “texting book” it was like getting a hug from my cousins. I still keep that book tucked away in a special place and pull it out from time to time.

At the end of Where Dandelions Grow I’ve included some of the special entries Alexa and Aubrey put into the “Texting Book.” I’ll forever be thankful they took the time to do that, and in a way, inspired Where Dandelions Grow through their kindness.

Lydia's Author PictureAbout the Author:

Lydia Howe (aka Aidyl Ewoh) is a twenty-something adventurous author who is partial to hiking in the mountains of Asia and South America, building life-size models of dinosaurs, taking road trips across Europe, visiting friends in Africa, growing up in a barn and everything in-between. She currently works in a coffee shop during the day and concocts stories by night. Find her online at her blogYoutubeFacebookTwitterGoodreads, and Google+.

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Read my review of Where Dandelions Grow here.

Top Ten Books on My To-Read List

A week or two ago, I set about trying to make a list of all the books I’ve been given for review or borrowed over the past four months. I was prepared for a decent-sized list, but I admit I did have to gulp a little when I saw the full extent of it. I’m a little more behind than I thought. However, since making this list, I can see progress! My hope is that by November, I’ll be mostly through this stack. There are thirty-two books altogether there so far, with fourteen of them being physical copies and the other eighteen being ebooks, mostly “e-review” copies, which means most of them were given to me in exchange for my honest review (and, obviously, the authors hope that I’ll get it done in good time!).

Top 10 To-Reads

My want-to-read list, however, isn’t just contained on this page. If I would write out all of those, I’d easily have somewhere between 1 and 500 books written down!

However, the top ten books I’m looking forward to reading over the next couple months are as follows:

Note: Some links are affiliate links. Your purchases through these links will not cost you any more, but will help support this site—thank you!

#1. Love Lifted Me by MarJanita Geigley. Borrowed from my aunt’s shelf, this is a story of two people from tough pasts finding the Lord. I love salvation stories, and I think I’ll love this!

#2. Savior, Like a Shepherd by Faith Blum. I read the sequel, All the Way My Savior Leads, and participated in the blog tour back in May. When I was sent the latter book, Faith kindly included Savior as well, and I can’t wait to read it. I really enjoyed All the Way!

#3. Such a Tease by Chautona Havig. I read the prequel to this story, Sweet on You, back when it was released—and got this one to read and review at this one’s release, but I haven’t gotten to it yet. Seeing as it’s written by one of my favorite authors, and I loved Sweet on You, I can’t wait to read this as well!

#4 and #5. None So Blind and Will Not See by Chautona Havig. I’ve been eyeing the first book in the Sight Unseen series for months now, and just this last month the second book was released! Which is so exciting, but now I’ve got two stories to read instead of one (yay!). Next time I’m ready to lose my afternoon to reading, I’m planning on picking one of these up.

#6. The Last Jew of Rotterdam by Ernest Cassutto. World War II story? Jews? Hope in the midst of despair? Yes, please! Another book borrowed from my aunt, I can’t wait to dive into it!

#7. They’re Rugby Boys, Don’t You Know? by Natalie Vellacott. I’ve been following this author’s blog for a while, and wanting to read her books, and I was absolutely delighted when she contacted me one day after I added several to my Goodreads want-to-read list, asking if I’d like to read them. What? YES, PLEASE! Can’t wait to pick these up!

#8. Dreams and Devotion by Sarah Holman. Although this hasn’t been my most favorite series by Holman, I do enjoy getting to read her books, which are generally very clean and family-friendly. According to my brother, who happened to read this before me this time, it’s very good.

#9. Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland. I’m really wanting to improve my writing, especially in the plotting/outlining area. To that end, I’ve started reading this book, and also bought the workbook to go along with it. Although I’ve only made it part-way through the second chapter so far, it’s excellent!

#10. The Savvy Solopreneur’s Guide to Content Creation by Karen Banes. I’m always looking for ways to better my knowledge of writing, online basics, etc., and I’ve sort-of followed along with Karen Banes for quite a while. I can’t say I’ve learned a lot from her (yet!), but I’m looking forward to what I can learn from this book!

And a bonus: #11. Where Dandelions Grow by Lydia Howe. Okay; I admit—I just finished reading this book Monday. But before that, it was at the top of my list. This book was so good. A young adult book without a romantic element, a family story without being too ridiculous or tedious, and a Christian story with a fairly good Christian element without feeling preachy or too “fluffy”—one character, especially, was excellent this way. Overall, I loved it. Can’t wait to share my thoughts about it at the end of the month when the book releases!

Although it’s hard to choose what my top books are, these are the ones that I believe I’m most looking forward to at the moment. Five fiction, three biographies or biographical-type books, and two non-fictions. The non-fiction titles will probably be the hardest for me to get through, but I’m looking forward to what I’ll learn from them. And if I mix them up with the other books, it’ll definitely be doable!

What books are on your to-read list right now?

The Secret Slipper (Author Interview & Blog Tour)

Today, I’m stopping in again just for a bit to tell you about another book that I loved recently. I actually read The Secret Slipper quite a while ago, but thoroughly enjoyed it, and today I’m bringing the author onto the blog for a quick interview as well! But first…

Tour banner

About the Book

The Secret Slipper coverBeing a cripple is only the beginning of Lia’s troubles. It seems as if Bioti’s goal in life is to make Lia as miserable as possible. If Lia’s purpose is to be a slave, then why did God make her a cripple? How can He make something beautiful out of her deformity?

Raoul never questioned the death of his daughter until someone reports her whereabouts. If Ellia is still alive, how has she survived these ten years with her deformity? When Raoul doesn’t know who to trust, can he trust God to keep Ellia safe when evidence reveals Bioti’s dangerous character?

As time brings more hindrances, will Raoul find Ellia, or will she forever be lost to the father she doesn’t even know is searching for her?

Hello, Amanda! And welcome!

What was your first inspiration for “The Secret Slipper”?
I had finished “Befriending the Beast” (a spin-off of Beauty and the Beast) as a stand-alone when an author friend asked, “Hey, have you ever considered a father/daughter Cinderella story?” And that is exactly where the inspiration started. I prayed about it, and the Lord supplied the full story.

You’ve written quite a few short stories and novellas; which ones are your favorite and least favorite? Why?
“The Secret Slipper” is my favorite. 😉 Really. It has the most intricate plot of anything I’ve written so far. When it comes to short stories, “Coffee Cake Days” would be my favorite, just because it was so close to my heart and personal experiences. As for least favorites…that is a tough question. If I didn’t like it at least a little, I wouldn’t publish it. That being said, Journey of Choice would have been my least favorite if I published it last year. But I’m tweaking it to be better, so hopefully by the time it gets to publication, it won’t fall in that category anymore. 😉

Do you have any pets? Have these ever featured in your stories and/or affected portions of your books?
I’m not a big animal fan. I enjoy having them around and our family has several animals (chickens, German Shepherds, a Siberian Husky, rabbits, a cat). I have animals in my story and some of them have been influenced by animals I’ve hung around, but none in particular.

I know you have a fairly good-sized family. Have you ever included experiences from times with your family in your books? If so, could you please share an example?
“Coffee Cake Days” is one of the stories that most strongly includes my personal experience with my family and an important lesson I’ve learned. I also use my siblings to influence some of my characters—it is commonly assumed that “12 kids” are all alike. Oh my, how very different we are!! It helps to give some character diversity.

What is your favorite part of having the title “author”?
Honestly, my favorite is to connect with readers and other authors. It gives me a great place to form friendships with the common interest of books—and often, the common thread of salvation.

What is the most interesting response you’ve gotten when you’ve told people you write books?
Hmm…probably the assumption that I’m popular.

I’m curious: What stories are you working on right now? Could you please share a little synopsis (or maybe even a favorite quote) from your most recent work-in-progress?
My current WIP is Journey of Choice. I am still figuring out the entire synopsis as the rewrite is changing the first draft about 50%. It is the first Orphan Journeys novel about a teen, Nat, who is brought from the streets of New York against his will, taken in by a family against his will, and eventually, enlisted in the army against his will. With so much in his life that has happened against his choice, will he continue to turn his back on God or turn to Him in time of need?

About Amanda

Amanda Tero Profile PicAmanda Tero is a homeschool graduate who desires to provide God-honoring, family-friendly reading material. She has enjoyed writing since before ten years old, but it has only been since 2013 that she began seriously pursuing writing again—starting with some short stories that she wrote for her sisters as a gift. Her mom encouraged her to try selling the stories she published, and since then, she has begun actively writing short stories, novellas, and novels. If something she has written draws an individual into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, it is worth it!

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

Connect with Amanda:
Email (amandaterobooks@gmail.com)  |  Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Pinterest  |  Blog  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon

My Review

Well, I’ve actually already reviewed this book over on the main reviews website. So here’s a portion of it, but I hope you won’t mind if I refer you there to see the full version!

When looking through the books I’ve read lately, I was surprised to see how many of them dealt with tougher issues—the Revolutionary war, identity, and growing up being some of the more recent stories. So I was happy to see a slightly “lighter” story in the mix, The Secret Slipper by Amanda Tero! If I remember correctly, near the end of last year the author asked for a few beta-readers, so that is how I got to read this story. This is a fun book, one that I classified after reading as “the kind of book I dream of writing.” (Read the rest here.)

Giveaway!

The Secret Slipper Giveaway

U.S. Giveaway: Enter to win the set of “Befriending the Beast” and “The Secret Slipper” (ENTER HERE)

International Giveaway: Enter to win the eBook set of “Befriending the Beast” and “The Secret Slipper” (ENTER HERE)

Final Tour Stops:

May 31
Jesseca @ Whimsical Writings for His glory | Spotlight, Review
Raechel @ God’s Peculiar Treasure Rae | Spotlight, Review

June 1
Kellyn @ Reveries Reviews | Review
Victoria @ Victoria Minks Blog | Spotlight, Review
Kelsey @ Kelsey’s Notebook | Spotlight

June 2
Hanne @ RockandMinerals4Him | Spotlight, Review, Giveaway
Erica @ Roxbury Books Blog | Spotlight
Janell @ Views from the Window Friend | Review
Crystal @ Crystal’s Adventures for Christ | Spotlight, Review, Interview

June 3
Alexa @ Verbosity Reviews | Spotlight
Faith @ Chosen Vessels | Review
Melissa @ Clothed with Scarlet | Review, Interview, Giveaway

Thank you for following along! I know blog tour posts can get a bit tedious, but thanks for taking time to read and please check out the posts from other participants over the next few days (for a list of the previous stops on the tour, go here!). And hopefully sometime soon, I can work on normal blogging again. For some reason, though, taking a trip seems to sap a lot of brain energy even before it happens—not sure how that works. Anyway, until next time, keep serving the Lord!

New Book and Interview with Author Sarah Holman!

Hi, everyone! And welcome back after the long silence! I’m learning—slowly—that I’m not that great of a consistent blogger, but when I’m in the mood for it I enjoy it. That makes it slightly difficult for me, since I enjoy a regular routine, but such is life.

Anyway, I have something exciting to share with you today! Well, this evening, rather…it’s past 11 pm now. I’m having my last hot drink for the day, and hope to have this post finished by the time I’m done. That’s not very likely, but I can try!

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The last couple days I’ve had the privilege of pre-reading author Sarah Holman’s latest book Courage and Corruption! This book is the third in the series, a medieval fantasy that has good stories and Christian themes woven throughout. Looks like I haven’t reviewed any of the books in this series for the website yet—that will have to change. These books are worthwhile reading, especially for younger readers.

Oh, and before I go further I do want to let you know by way of disclaimer that I read an Advanced Reader Copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. Also, some links in this post are affiliate links. Purchases made through those links do not cost you any extra, but the small sum I receive from them helps keep this site running. So thank you! And now, onto…

My Review of Courage and Corruption:

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Christopher cannot understand how his father believes he can learn to be a man by being sent off with the women, girls, and younger children to a castle away from the battle scene. With strife between him and his sister as well—neither wanting to take the blame for careless mistakes made out of a lack of responsibility—his life is miserable. Will he ever be able to find true happiness? And what will happen to Taelis, their beautiful country that is about to be split by a civil war as the people try to decide who will next be king?

Courage and Corruption by Sarah Holman.jpg

In all, I enjoyed this book for the most part. There were a few things I didn’t appreciate so much about it, as I felt some elements might not be realistic (even in a fantasy setting).

I also didn’t totally agree with the theology. This book seems to be stressing accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior, which I agree with—Jesus does need to be both Lord and Savior of our lives—but in my personal devotions in Acts right now (and from other scriptures I remember as well), we should actually repent rather than just accept. There’s a big difference, which I won’t go into now, but Acts 2:38 and 1 John 1:9 have some bearing on this. This view is mentioned two different times. This may be an oversight on the author’s part, I don’t know. But I do think it’s worth mentioning.

Despite that, the storyline was good as it taught the need to prove your responsibility in little things before you can be trusted in big things. I’m sure many young readers would find that a worthwhile message to hear. The story itself is also exciting. Lots to do with kings and princes and knight’s children. Recommended for ages 11-14, especially.

Note: There is a battle in the latter part of chapter 27 and again the very first part of chapter 28. It mentions people being wounded and some blood, but not in any detail.

Interview with Sarah Holman:

(I actually interviewed Sarah several months ago, but never got it published. I decided this was a great opportunity to share her insights with you!)

Esther: Thank you for joining us today, Sarah! Could you give us a quick background of who you are and what you do? And just for fun, what’s one thing you do with your family these days that will make memories you’ll cherish years down the road?

Sarah: I was born in Dallas but moved to the Austin area when I was three. I grew up with two book addicts for parents and a love for stories in every form: oral, book, movie, and so on. At age eleven, I was frustrated because I couldn’t find the kind of books I wanted to read, so I decided to write them. When I was seventeen, God laid it on my heart that I should pursue becoming a full-time author. I published my first book in 2012 and continue to write the kind of books I always wanted to read.

I love this question. I think my favorite memories will be of the evenings where we all sat together, just talking. It can be on a serious topic or a being silly. However, just being together makes it worth remembering.

Esther: I love our family’s times of just talking, too! For us, it usually happens around the supper table—and the topics can be all over the place from building trailers to something someone said at church several weeks ago!

I also think it’s neat that you’re writing the books you’d like to read. It can be difficult at times to write for ourselves, as opposed to what we perceive the world at large would like to read. What do you enjoy most about your job as a writer?

Sarah: Ah yes! Don’t you love how scattered family conversations can be?

What I most enjoy? Sitting behind my computer and letting the words of a new story flow through me. There is something amazing about see a fresh story starting to take shape that is always exciting for me.

Esther: That is fun! I love all the adventures and…um…adversities that I can throw at my characters from time to time. Or the ones they spring on me!

But moving on…I’ve always enjoyed the Christian elements in your stories (and I’ve read a good number of them). Do you have a story that was particularly hard to write as far as the faith aspect is concerned? Which book has challenged you the most in your personal journey?

Sarah: Wow! You know how to give a tough question. Just about every book has a message that was close to my heart. The hardest one to write was Kate’s Innocence. It took a long time to develop the story enough that a faith theme emerged. See, I don’t often start with a super clear idea of what it is going to be because I want it to come out naturally.

As for the most challenging personally that is a good story: 2015 was a really hard year for me. There were some awesome parts to it, but overall it left me drained and dealing with a lot of emotions. I took off of almost everything in January of this year and spent it writing. Out of that month, two books in the Tales of Taelis came and both of them reflect my struggles and what God taught me. Courage and Corruption and Dreams and Devotion will be coming out later this year and both of them reflect the struggles within my own heart.

Esther: That seems like a wise way to share faith in books. The one time I tried it, it ended up feeling stilted, but I may have to try again. After all, forcing things like that on fictitious characters could be as bad as on real people! It’s interesting that 2015 was difficult for you—in many ways, that was a hard year for me too. Now you’ve given me even more reason to look forward to the next Taelis books—I really enjoyed the first two!

Relating to the last question…I think we’d agree there are many challenges confronting Christians these days. (Lies propagated through the media and music, moral issues, etc.) Have you specifically addressed any of these challenges in any of your books–intentionally or no?

Sarah: Another good but tough question. Most of the time when we say we need to talk about issues, we have a laundry list of the ills of society. In my own way, I am addressing the issues, but at a heart level. Christians fall for the lies of this world because they are not spending enough time focusing on the truth. If we spend all our time focusing on the evil around us, often we will fall for the lies. If we spend our time on God and His truth, the evil won’t be as appealing.

While I probably will deal with some of the tough issues head on in some upcoming books, for right now I’m doing exactly what I’m called to. I am writing books that deal with the tough issues of the heart like God’s plans for your life (The Destiny of One), the importance of telling the truth (A Different Kind of Courage), where is God when life is hard (Adventures and Adversities), and the power of forgiveness (Brothers and Betrayal) to name a few.

Esther: I love that thought about focusing on truth! So true! I believe you are wise to address those issues first—as the Bible says, “the heart is the wellspring of life”. It’s a pretty important task!

Okay, I think that was the last “hard” question I had for you. In wrapping up, I wanted to ask about your personal writing process a little: You’ve just released Kate’s Capitol, and have several more books in the works right now.  Do you have any particular methods for keeping yourself inspired and motivated—even when doing things like editing, which can be a bit difficult?

Sarah: My biggest key to getting things done is just to keep at it even when I don’t feel like it. I make deadlines and work to keep them (although I haven’t been successful all the time) and even give myself rewards for completing things. My method for keeping inspired? To have several projects going at once. I don’t like editing, so I normally have a project that I am writing at the same time. This keeps me motivated to do the editing so that I can get to the writing.

The main thing that keeps me motivated, is that I know what I know I am doing what God has called me too. There is a huge amount of satisfaction that comes when you are in the middle of God’s plan for you.

Esther: Knowing you’re in the center of God’s plan—a wonderful feeling, I agree! That’s great! Do you have any words of advice for younger or newbie Christian writers? And just for fun, which book out of the ones that you’ve written is your favorite?

Sarah: I have three pieces of advice for new writers. First and most importantly is to make sure that everything you write aligns with your faith. Secondly, don’t write what you think other people want to read, read the kind of books you like. Third, read all the time and of many genres.

My favorite book? Can I say all of them? No? Okay, if I had to pick a favorite out of all of them it would either be A Different Kind of Courage because I love that time in history or The Destiny of a Galaxy because there is so much of my own emotions in that book.

Esther: I love A Different Kind of Courage, too—it’s really good! Thanks for sharing with us today, Sarah! Where can people find you and your books? Any closing thoughts?

Sarah: The easiest place to find my books is Amazon. But you can also find them on audiobooks on Audible and iTunes and paperbacks on Createspace.

In closing, I would just like to say that whatever God has called you to do, do it to His glory. Don’t look to the world or anyone else for your standards our validation, look to the One who made you.

About the Author:

111 Author - closer.JPGSarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of many published books and short stories. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

You can find her at her website: www.thedestinyofone.com

Follow the Tour:

November 15
Faith Blum
Lakeside Publication
Claire Banschbach

November 16
Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Father

November 17
Learning Resource Directory
Into the Bookcase

November 19
Gods Peculiar Treasure
A Pinch of Faith

And that’s it for this girl tonight. My tea has run dry now, anyway. Have a great weekend, everyone, and stay tuned—I have a post written to tell about the recent earthquake we had and aftermath, and hope to share that in another day or two. Just as soon as I can remember to sit down to upload pictures—providing our internet stays on, of course. It’s been acting up a little since the earthquakes.