Give Thanks in ALL Things

Give ThanksSo far it’s been a tough holiday season. My mom’s been ill for a few years, yet her decline has been very gradual until this past month when it’s worsened like a snowball rolling downhill. Every day she seems to grows weaker, less coherent. Needless to say, it’s not easy to be thankful right now.

Yet, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 directs to be thankful in ALL circumstances. Really? How can we possibly give thanks when bad things happen? When our loved ones are hurting?

Perhaps our focus is on the wrong word. Perhaps, rather than highlighting the word ALL, we should highlight that seemingly tiny, almost invisible preposition, IN. God’s not asking us to be thankful for all circumstances, but rather IN all circumstances. Big difference.

During these difficult times, I am still thankful for so much, at the top of the list being my very large, close family. Yes, this is a tough season for all of us, but we’re all banding together, supporting–loving–Mom and Dad. My parents aren’t alone as so many elderly are. No one’s been more grateful than my dad.

So no, I’m certainly not thankful for all circumstances, but within each trial there is hope, and for that we give thanks.

Na No Nope

Writer's BlockI signed up for NaNoWriMo with the best of intentions …

Well, let me rephrase that. I signed up with NaNoWriMo because I need to rediscover the joy of writing. My total so far? 3,328 words. Ugly, I know! There’s always something more important to do. Pay bills. Visit my sister who lives eight-plus hours away. Write blog posts. Critique other manuscripts. Household chores and daily living stuff.

In addition, my mom’s health has taken a big hit these past thirty days, with her being in the hospital for half a week, then moved to a care center so she can regain her strength. (Prayers requested!)

But the truth is, if I really desired to write, I’d make the time. Part of my problem could be my story which is book three in my Where the Heart Is series. I’m just not passionate about it, but then I wasn’t passionate about Hearts at Risk either, and every word in that novel was painfully ground out. Yet that story was a 2012 ACFW Genesis Award finalist, and all my first readers have loved it. And they loved book number two, Capturing Beauty.

Then there’s the fact that NaNoWriMo is in November, one of the busiest months of the year! Seriously, who thought this month was a good month to write a novel??? But February in Minnesota? That could work. I vote we change NaNo to February, even if it lacks the alliteration of November. Who’s with me?

Another part of the problem is that my WIP–the series–is fully contemporary romance and lacks the gritty edginess of my Coming Home series. As you know, I’m passionate about gritty stories.

So why spend time on this series?

  • Well, I started writing it out of frustration because my Coming Home series wasn’t gaining traction. So, I told myself, “I’ll write a stupid romance instead!”
  • Romance sells. Readers love romance that takes them away from their world, where my gritty stories remind readers how tough this world really is.
  • This series caught the eye of editors and agents (even my romances were too gritty for the agents!) where my Coming Home series never went past the proposal requests.
  • Apparently I write romance well, so says my first readers and critique partners.

In other words, I’m making excuses. I will keep pressing on, and I will get this book written (just not this month, nor this year) if for no other reason than, once this series is completed, I’m going back to writing gritty stories. That should be incentive enough, right? I’ve already got 3,328 words written. Only 86,672 words to go!

Hungry for Home Playlist

Hungry for HomeIn my latest release, Hungry for Home, one of the prominent themes is the importance of spending time with those you love. With three kids who have suddenly become adults, and with parents who are struggling with aging issues, recognizing that life “…happens in a blink” is ever present.

Make time to be with those you love, because in a blink, they will be changed.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
Psalm 90:12

“Blink” by Revive

Getting to Know Author Jelsa Mepsey

Jelsa MepseyI had the privilege of meeting Jelsa Mepsey a little over a year ago and have followed her author journey since then. I’m so excited to see that her debut novel, Picture Imperfect, is finally out! It’s so fun to see another youthful writer get their wings, and I’m thrilled to have Jelsa visit my blog. Please welcome her!

Hi Jelsa! Thanks for visiting today! Can you tell my readers a little about yourself?

I love jelly-filled donuts and colorful pens. I hate spicy food and bugs. In college, I double majored in psychology and child learning & development with a minor in music. Currently, I work at a daycare while juggling my writing-related activities.

Picture ImperfectDo you see yourself in any of your characters?

Some people who are close to me have mentioned that Melly Hewson and I are very similar, but not quite the same. We both act like extroverted introverts and are very artistic individuals, but our family backgrounds are quite different. Also, she is a very visual learner, while I am an auditory processor. Interestingly, we score very similarly on the Myers-Briggs test as ISFJs.

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

I play the guitar, piano, and sing at church. For exercise, I try to rock climb once or twice a week, although it’s been difficult to do that since I started work. Recently, I’ve attempted to take up longboarding. In my spare time, I also love playing board games.

More About Jelsa ~

Jelsa Mepsey writes young adult contemporary romance fiction, drawing inspiration from daily life. With her work, she is dedicated to spurring people to think about what they have taken for granted and to shed light on the issues people avoid talking about. As an Asian-American in her 20s, she is excited to explore more of the human experience as she herself journeys through life. Writing, rock climbing 5.12 routes, and playing various instruments have resulted in the formation of many calluses on her hands over the years. When not engaging in her previously mentioned hobbies, Jelsa can be found at her local library with a stack of at least ten books, naming her various pens, or staring at her dog Waffles for inspiration.

Get in Touch With Jelsa ~

Amazon | Goodreads | Blog | Facebook | YouTube

About Picture Imperfect ~

Sixteen-year-old Max Prescott knows all too well the joys of cheating girlfriends and traitorous friends. He’s not eager to have his heart trampled again, but money and a fresh start can mean the difference between happiness and a dark path with his name on it.

So when Melly Hewson, a perky and enigmatic classmate, asks him to be her model for a year-long photography project, Max agrees. Melly is everything Max isn’t. She’s outgoing, witty, and always knows the right words to say. And despite his best efforts, Max finds himself drawn to her.

Still, he isn’t stupid. He knows a girl like Melly will only use him and then never speak to him again. Besides, he’s been to that rodeo. As long as he keeps his feelings off the market, he won’t make the same mistakes as last time.

Yet underneath Melly’s sweet smiles lies a secret she’d rather kept hidden. And as the year goes on and the photos pile up, Max and Melly will find themselves developing through the negatives, a story that when told could push them to opposite ends of their world. But the only thing worst than the truth is the facade that surrounds them.

Purchase Picture Imperfect ~


Recapturing the Passion for Writing

NaNo-2015-Participant-Banner (600 x 222)It’s November. That means Thanksgiving is coming up in a few weeks, Christmas decorations are already popping up in stores, and snow is creeping into the forecast. But for writers, November is also the time for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

The purpose of the exercise is to get writers writing, with a goal of completing a novel or 50,000 words in a month. Since my novels are usually over 90,000 words, 50 K will only get me about half way through, but that would be an amazing start!

My goal for NaNo isn’t so much getting half a novel written, but learning to enjoy writing again. It’s been a long while, going on two years, since I’ve penned keepable words. With all the non-writing junk authors have to deal with, especially in indie publishing, my joy for writing has evaporated to nearly nothing.

But my readers are asking when my next novel will be out, which is wonderful incentive! My Where the Heart Is series is planned out, and the first two books are written (book one was a Genesis Finalist), but book number three has been a struggle. Anyway, it’s time to get writing again, and hopefully recapture the passion I had for my Coming Home series.

I’ve had a slow start–my total word count as of right now is 2287, but that’s 2287 words I didn’t have penned two days ago. Now to keep it going …

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? What is your ultimate goal?

Chatting With Author Stacy Monson + Giveaway!

And the Winner of Dance of Grace is …
Congratulations Les!

*** Book Giveaway! ***
See Contest Rules Below

Stacy MonsonIf you’ve followed my blog for any period of time, you’ve likely heard the name Stacy Monson a time or twenty. 😉 The two of us have been on parallel paths during our writing journeys. We’ve celebrated together along with complaining to and commiserating with each other.

So when Stacy comes out with a new book, I have to let the world know! Dance of Grace, book #2 in the Chain of Lakes series, is as excellent as Stacy’s first, Shattered Image. Stacy also graciously offered to give away one ebook copy of Dance of Grace to one commenter. See contest rules below.

And now, I’m pleased to welcome author, mentor, and friend, Stacy Monson!

Stacy, can you tell my readers about your faith journey?

That is an ever-changing adventure! Even as I’ve written the books for the Chain of Lakes series, I’ve found my faith growing, blossoming actually. I never expected that!

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t believe in God. My three siblings and I were raised by a single mother who worked full-time and put herself through school to get her Masters Degree. Amidst everything else going on, we were always at church on Sunday (with Mom singing her heart out in the choir), and involved in youth activities. My mom was definitely one of the “church basement ladies” so while she worked in the kitchen for various events, we explored every nook and cranny and dark corner of the church. Because of that, I’ve always felt extremely at home in church – any church!

Our Christian faith has always been an extremely important part of our marriage, foundational for raising our kids into adulthood. Yet what I’m finding is that old saying – “the more I know, the more I realize I don’t know.” This writing journey has impacted my faith in so many ways. I’ve been forced to rely on God to make most things happen. I’ve had to learn patience (not so good at that, yet). And I’ve come to learn that He is my BFF, the father I never had. The guiding hand in my writing and in daily life. I am loving this journey!!

Do you see yourself in any of your characters?

Definitely! Being a middle child in a very noisy family, I spent a lot of time being invisible, or at least feeling that way. My struggle with self-image is something I share with my characters. The questions they have for and about God are similar to what I’ve wrestled with over the years. But there are major differences. I’m not quiet and thoughtful like Vanessa (I’m more of a blurter!). I’m certainly not model-material like Kiera! And I’m not an ex-con or an up-and-coming singer!

What keeps you writing during the difficult times?

My belief that God has been preparing me for this journey my whole life. I’ve always been a writer. I even like filling out forms! So whether or not I ever got published, I would always be a writer. So when words won’t flow or I think everything I write is drivel, I step away from the computer and do something else, knowing I will go back to it – eventually! I write because that’s who God created me to be – a writer, a story teller. I write stories about normal people (yes, even “famous” people who struggle like the rest of us) and how God moves in their lives offering grace, love, and redemption. It’s all about who He is and who we are in Him.

And the final question: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, or white chocolate?

Milk chocolate, of course!

~About Stacy Monson

Stacy Monson writes stories that show an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. Dance of Grace is her second novel in the Chain of Lakes series; Shattered Image released in April 2015. A member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), Stacy is the current secretary and past president of MN-N.I.C.E., as well as the area coordinator for ACFW in Minnesota. Residing in the Twin Cities, she is the wife of a juggling, unicycling physical education teacher, mom to two amazing kids and two wonderful in-law kids, and very proud grandma.  For more information visit

~Get in touch with Stacy

Website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter

Dance of Grace~About Dance of Grace

A former dancer. An ex-con. A house on fire. Grace amidst revenge.

In one tragic moment, dancer Vanessa Jordan lost her family, her career, and her future. She blames God for destroying everything that mattered.

Kurt Wagner, an ex-con with a second chance at life and faith, aches to shed his past and see his dream of helping teens become reality.

The former dancer and the ex-con form an unlikely alliance to build River House, a safe haven for kids on the street. But when Kurt’s past threatens his dreams and his life, Vanessa becomes a target as well.

It will take a stubborn love, the grace of God, and one courageous teen to keep the River House dream alive.

~Purchase Dance of Grace

Amazon | B&N

~Purchase Shattered Image

Amazon | B&N

>>eBook Giveaway<<<
Stacy has graciously offered to give away one ebook copy of Dance of Grace. To enter, in the comments below, ask Stacy a question.

Stacy Monson giveaway

This contest ends Sunday, November 8, 2015 at 11:59 pm CST. I will post the winner on Monday, November 9, 2015. Winner will be chosen via

Sparking Perseverance on the Writing Journey with Author Michelle Lim + Giveaway

Michelle LimI’m blessed to have met many authors on this writing journey, all with different gifts, and I have to say that the most amazing brainstormer is hands-down, Michelle Lim. When brainstorming, her mind is going so fast and she’s spouting ideas so rapidly, I have trouble keeping up. She is impressive! If you want to learn how to brainstorm, I’d recommend Michelle Lim in a flash.

Michelle has just released her second brainstorming book, Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month. For those of you doing NaNoWriMo, this book is a tremendous resource (and right now, it’s only 99¢! so hurry over to Amazon to purchase it).

Idea Sparking 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month

And with the release of this fantastic craft book, I’m excited to welcome Michelle to my blog, sharing her amazing writing journey. On this blog tour, she’s also giving away one $50 Amazon Gift Card .To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter form below.

Now, here’s Michelle!

It never crossed my mind to be a writer. I know there are several authors who just knew that’s what they wanted to do from a young age. Me? Not a clue.

My first experience with writing came through poetry and songs. I entered a school poetry contest once when an author came to work with my school class. I received recognition as one of the better entries.

If I could write poetry, I figured I could write songs, too. These early songs were my first paycheck as a writer. My grandmother would buy them from me for a nickel, dime, or quarter. I hit the jackpot of limitless earnings at the ripe old age of seven.

Life took many turns over the next several years. Pursuing a career as an elementary teacher, I journaled, wrote arts integration curriculum, and assisted in grant writing in my school. The majority of my writing time was spent doing nonfiction.

Intense involvement in children’s ministry led me to develop children’s church curriculum to be used by myself and others in our church. Before long I was invited to be the Children’s Pastor at a Twin Cities metro church.

Amidst all of the backdrop of my seemingly normal life lurked an enemy that I battled each day. Chronic health issues plagued me with pain, hearing loss, chronic migraines, and a wide range of unmanageable symptoms.

Persevering through multiple heart surgeries and other health related issues taught me one valuable thing. You either sit down to give up, or you choose the path you pursue with the tenacity that defies the very enemy to your success.

Faith and determination partner together to make anything possible.

That’s when it happened. The moment I picked up my pen and couldn’t put it back down. Stories in the faces of children I taught with came to life. I began to write.

Through rejections and hard work I learned the craft of writing. Three children under the age of three and a kindergartner kept me running during the day and writing at night. Those early years stretched me and forced me to build perseverance.

That perseverance became necessary when the health issues forced me to Mayo Clinic. The threat of further hearing loss, possible difficulty walking, and vision loss made brain surgery a necessity. The risks were not pretty.

Forced to dig deep, I found the peace of God that pulled me through. Even when the surgery was a month in the past and I struggled with word substitutions that made no sense. Even when I lacked the strength to carry. God’s peace pulled me through.

Now I write, appreciating the gift that has returned to me. When it is difficult on the journey I remind myself, “It’s not brain surgery.” I post on my desk and remind myself when things are difficult.

Perseverance is ignited by a spark in our lives. For me, the spark was going through something difficult and learning my own strength. I keep that spark alive by reminding myself “it’s not brain surgery.”

Now I write fiction and nonfiction. My experiences inspired my tagline, “Sparking hope in the face of fear.” Fear of the blank page (my nonfiction). Fear of a villain (my romantic suspense).

This week I’m celebrating the release of my second nonfiction book at the kick off to NaNoWriMo. Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month helps authors to persevere through a difficult challenge.

What is the most difficult challenge you have ever faced? How did you persevere?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s Genesis winning romantic suspense is represented with Books & Such Literary Agency. Michelle’s New Release – Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month, released October 27th. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats, Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

~Connect with Michelle

Blog | Twitter

~About Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month

Idea Sparking: 30 Idea Sparks to Write a Novel in a Month accompanies an author on a thirty-day novel journey. Daily idea prompts assist authors in finding the inspiration to write. With personal experience insights and goal setting reflections, this book is the perfect resource for the writer who wants to write a novel in a month, or the author looking for a resource for their everyday writing journey. What you will find in this incredible resource:

*A weekly inspirational focus to get you ready to write
*Daily Idea Sparks to spark your creativity and get you writing
*Mini writing craft tips that enhance your writing
*Daily Mid-day Milestones with thought-provoking questions to improve writing habits
*Weekly Check-Ups to retune your process to set you up for success

~Purchase Idea Sparking


Meet Luna from Dawn V. Cahill’s WHEN LYRIC MET LIMERICK! + Giveaway

And the Winner Is …
Terrill Rosado!
Congratulations, Terrill, and thank you for visiting with us!

***eBook Giveaway***
see contest rules below

When Lyric Met LimerickI had the pleasure of *meeting* Dawn Cahill when she took part in my blog tour for Hungry for Home. Dawn writes Hot Topic Fiction, so we’re kindred writing spirits. I’m very pleased to welcome Dawn and Luna Raquelle (the heroine from Dawn’s new release) to my blog today. Dawn has graciously offered to give away one ebook copy of When Lyric Met Limerick. Just ask Luna a question in the comments below to be entered to win.

And now, here’s Dawn …

Today I’m interviewing the fabulous Luna Raquelle, dancer and poet extraordinaire – Howard’s love interest in When Lyric Met Limerick. She’s visiting us from the pages of my novelette, released just this month.

Luna, her blond hair wound in a loose knot on her head, sits on my living room sofa and takes a sip of freshly-steeped Chai tea.

DVC: Hi Luna. I’m so glad you could visit with me and my readers today.

Luna: {sits back, flinging one thin leg over the other. The steam from the tea forms a gauzy veil around her face.} Thanks. I’m happy to be here. This tea is delicious.

DVC: I love your purple leotard and colorful peasant skirt.  Is purple your favorite color?

Luna: No, pink is.

DVC: Then you must love my book’s cover. {holds up her book} Not only is it pink, it shows a couple holding hands, which leads to the question: Are you Lyric, or Limerick?

Luna: {chuckles} I’m Limerick. Howard is Lyric.

DVC: Tell us more about your love for limericks.

Luna: When I was a child, my mom read me rhymes at bedtime. I grew up on Dr Seuss, Shel Silverstein, and Ogden Nash. Eventually I started to wonder if I could write a funny rhyme, too. My first few attempts were pathetic. The cadence was all wrong, and they didn’t exactly rhyme.

DVC: But now you’re a pro.

Luna: Well, it took a lot of practice. Once I learned the importance of cadence, I was off and running.

DVC: You’re also an accomplished dancer. If you could only do one the rest of your life – limericks or dance – which would you choose? And why?

Luna: {squints into the distance, then meets my gaze} Limericks. Because even though my body will age, my mind doesn’t have to.

DVC: Now about Howard…

Luna: {ducks her head and giggles}

DVC: What was your very first impression of him when he approached your table that fateful day at Pike’s Place Market?

Luna: I didn’t see him at first. Then I looked up to see this cute guy checking me out. I knew he wasn’t there for a personalized limerick, but he tried oh-so-hard to pretend he was!

DVC: Howard seems like the daredevil type, a risk taker. What drew you to him?

Luna: {wrinkles her brow in thought} I’d say it’s his charming tendency to make me laugh at the oddest times. Without even trying. And the fact that we think alike. He makes up lyrics in his head, I make up limericks.

DVC: Unfortunately for Howard, you already had a boyfriend at the time. Were you happy in that relationship?

Luna: I hadn’t been for a long time, but I was afraid to break up with him because he had a temper. Howard was a breath of fresh air.

DVC: But he was also a thief and a liar.

Luna: {shrugs} I’m no angel either. But he promised me he’d never do anything to land himself in jail again. And I believe him.

DVC: What was the moment you knew he was the one?

Luna: That’s easy. The first time he called me Luna Tunes, I knew he was the one.

When Lyric Met Limerick~About When Lyric Met Limerick

It’s 1983. She’s a winsome poetess looking for work. He’s a moody songwriter asking for trouble. When their lives collide, explosions are bound to follow.

There’s only one problem.

He attracts trouble like Pike Place Market attracts tourists. Why would smart, gifted Luna want to be with a lying, thieving dreamer like him?

But without Luna, Howard faces a future as bleak as a Seattle winter. Will God give him a second chance to win the girl of his dreams?

~Purchase When Lyric Met Limerick


~About Dawn V. Cahill

Author Dawn V. Cahill blogs about puppies, single parenting and substance abuse (sometimes all at the same time.) Speaking of substance abuse, she is addicted to dark chocolate and her morning frappuccino. She wrote her first story at age 5, and at age 8 heard one of her stories read on a children’s radio program. Someday she plans to finish the novel she started at age 11 called Mitch and the Martians. She has published a short story, written several newspaper articles, two Christian contemporary novels, and more limericks than she can count. Email her at, or find her on Facebook. She is a member of Oregon Christian Writers (OCW) and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

~Connect With Dawn V. Cahill

Website | Facebook

>>eBook Giveaway<<<
Dawn has graciously offered to give away one ebook copy of When Lyric Met Limerick To enter, in the comments below, ask Luna a question.

Dawn V. Cahill giveaway

This contest ends Sunday, November 1, 2015 at 11:59 pm CST. I will post the winner on Monday, November 2, 2015. Winner will be chosen via

Book-Related Crafts + Book Winner

Crafty Kindle CoversI’m over at Inkspirational Messages today talking the one type of craft I can get excited about: booksy crafts!

And if you love crafting, check out the posts from these past two weeks at Inkspirational Messages. People are amazingly talented!

Ginny Yttrup GiveawayOn another note, Veronica Arias is the winner of FLAMES and the typewriter key bookmark by Ginny L. Ytrrup from this blog post. Congratulations, Veronica!

Winner chosen via

Fall Harvest of Books Revisited

Fall Harvest of BooksThis past Saturday (October 17, 2015), I took part in a Christian author book sale organized by Stacy Monson and myself. The concept was birthed a little over a month ago when Stacy and I got together and asked, “How are we going to celebrate our book releases?” Her sophomore release, Dance of Grace (a fabulous book that you can purchase here), was coming out soon, and I’d just released Hungry for Home. We decided to have a book launch for the two of us at the church where Stacy had hosted her debut book launch. Special thanks goes to Mount Olivet Lutheran in Plymouth, MN for letting us use the space! It was a perfect room!

Then Stacy and I decided it would be fun to invite a few additional authors.

LeAnne Hardy

LeAnne Hardy in a costume she made herself!

Within days that two-author book launch grew into a 13-author, 1st Annual Fall Harvest of Books event that we now had to advertise big time. No problem, right? We created a website and a Facebook event, and the event was listed on the community calendar of a local Christian radio station. We also put together a flyer (that kept changing until the final week) and asked the author participants to share it.

Jennette Gudgel

Jennette Gudgel

So we had authors and giveaways and refreshments–now the only question was, would buyers come?

Delores Topliff

Delores Topliff

Well, they did. I was too busy at my book table (good problem to have!) to try to count attendees, but my husband guess-timated between 100 and 200 people visited. Not bad for a last-minute event. I’d say that’s a good foundation for future sales.

And, yes, we will do this again next fall, and possibly next spring as well, with even more authors! But next time, we plan to give ourselves a lot more time to organize the event!

Fall Harvest of BooksSale Participants (from above pic):

Michelle Lim | LeAnne Hardy | Stacy Monson | Elizabeth Goddard | Brenda S. Anderson | Julie Saffrin

Sharon Hinck | Connie Lounsbury | Kathryn Dahlstrom | Jennette Gudgel | Chawna Schroeder | Delores Topliff