WORN – Pieces of Granite Playlist

Come to meBeing a mother is incredibly rewarding.

It can also be incredibly tiring. Can I get an Amen!?

My husband and I had three kids within three and a half years. Crazy, I know! And when our youngest was only one, my husband got a new job in a city 200+ miles away. So, he moved out of our house and into his parents’. Then every weekend for fourteen very long months (that’s how long it took us to sell the house), he’d drive back home, which wasn’t much of a home since we had to keep it immaculate. Try telling your toddlers that they can’t play with their toys because some stranger wants to see the house and they don’t want to see scattered toys.

Yeah, that was exhausting.

I’m certain every mom or dad out there has their own story to tell about those wearing times in their life.

In Pieces of Granite, my heroine (Debbie) has her own struggles when she learns her unborn baby has Down syndrome and her husband retreats. She wasn’t simply worn down from the pregnancy, but from her struggle to hold her family together.

So this song is for all the moms, dads, and anyone else out there who finds life too hard at times, when you’re tired of fighting and just want to give up. Know that you are not alone.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

I’d love to hear your *Worn* story in the comments below.

Worn by Tenth Avenue North

Pieces of GranitePurchase Pieces of Granite
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A Visit With Best-Selling Author, Jim West

Jim West*** Book Giveaway! See contest rules below ***

I had the privilege of *meeting* Jim West several years ago thanks to the wonderful Soldiers Angels program. Our family volunteered to adopt a soldier, which meant we’d write letters and send care packages several times over a period of months. We were told not to expect return correspondence, which was fine and completely understandable. Yet we were blessed with someone who took the time to write individual notes to each of the kids. They looked forward to writing to him and to receiving a note back.

Jim was that adoptee-not officially a soldier, but a security analyst embedded with the military. Over the years the letters waned, then stopped, but Jim happened to find me on Goodreads shortly after his debut released. It’s wonderful to reconnect.

Libellus de NumerosAs for Jim’s book, Libellus de Numeros (which I had the honor of reading several years ago in its earlier stages), it’s been a phenomenal success, surpassing even Harry Potter in several Amazon categories. Also, as of the time I’m writing this post, his book has 147 reviews, 144 of which are 5-star. Pretty amazing! Plus it’s mentioned in Publishers Weekly and has a great review on Kirkus Reviews. Not bad for an indie debut. ;-)

I love how the book’s hero is a girl, which gives young women around the globe someone to look up to and wish to emulate. That’s very empowering for our younger generation!

So, I’m very excited to have Jim visit my blog. Please welcome him!

Jim, can you tell my readers a little about yourself?

I am a cyber security expert with many years’ experience with the US military.  I love playing basketball and video games when I do have free time.  I have travelled the world extensively, and been fortunate to have had my family with me most of the time overseas.  My family lives in Dubai, UAE while I work in Kuwait.  I do hope to change jobs to the UAE soon.

Congratulations on the release of Libellus de Numeros! What exactly does the title mean?

Libellus de Numeros means Book of Numbers.  In this story the wizards all possess one.  It is both a lesson book as well as a math journal for the wizard.  The main character Alex gets hers in this book.

What inspired this book?

My two daughters.  Just before they were born I had the idea for a story that would inspire them as they grew up.

Libellus de Numeros back coverIt looks like you’ve inspired many other girls as well! What do your daughters think about your book?

My daughters are excited and thrilled to see and hear how well its doing. Its like everyday is something new happening. My oldest is the Instagram account manager for the series. So they are also participating in the success.

You have a very unique marketing campaign (check out Jim’s Magicae Mathematica pages Twitter, Facebook, & Instagram pages), one that’s reaching readers around the world. I’d love to hear more about it.

Magicae MathematicaBeing overseas I myself have been privileged to have seen many places.  I know for many kids that is not always an option.  I wanted to show both a global reach of an idea and that your dreams are only limited by your motivation.  The idea that a book can take you places both real and imaginary is a wonderful idea.  The concept of “What is the missing variable?” is a main theme in my story, but in the real world I want kids to feel they all can be the missing variable.  The ones whom can change the world.

Love that! Could you tell us about your journey to publication?

This story took over a decade to come to the public.  Mostly because of the math.  Back in the early days of the draft, I wanted to teach kids advanced math concepts through the story.  I needed a math teacher.  I tried many times to find one and every time either the individuals did not have the time, or events such as Hurricane Katrina prevented it.

In 2014, I had a month off work in Kuwait and during that time I sent the draft to a friend who was a writer and was told to drop the math lessons and proceed with the strong story. That month the draft went from 15k words to over 50k.  It was both a liberating experience and fulfilling one.

I then sent the manuscript to many publishers and within a few weeks had four offers.  Yet none of the offers were giving me anything more than what I felt I could do on my own with self-publishing.  I self-published on Oct 31, 2014.  There are times I wish I had more sales, but I feel with anything worth it-takes time (fingers crossed!).

Wise advice from your writer friend to just tell a great story! I know from personal experience it’s easy to get bogged down with our message rather than just telling the story. But, if your story is well-told and is engaging, the message will come across.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on the second book of the series, Circulus de Potentia.  It will be ready this April, but I will hold off on self-publishing to allow my appearance at the London Book Fair to drum up interest to possible move the book to a publisher.

Which authors do you enjoy reading? Have any influenced your writing?

To be honest, I do not do a lot of reading beyond the internet full of news and cyber security articles.  When I was young I found Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to be magical.  I must have read that book hundreds of times.  The one series that really captivated me then was Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.  I love that series.

What’s on your reading list right now?

Oh my.  I just said I don’t really read books, but if there was a do read list I would say The Phantom Tollbooth [by Norton Juster].  My recent Kirkus review compared my book to it.

I loved The Phantom Tollbooth! It’s an honor to have your work compared to it!

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

Video games and traveling.  Love Final Fantasy, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, etc.  For travel, last year I went to see FC Barcleona play in Barcelona (Messi is the greatest!) and the Northern Lights in Norway.  This year I will be in the states for the first time since 2006 for some books events and vacation.  Then I have the London Book Fair April 14-16.  ***I have ten visitor passes for the London Book Fair that I am willing to give away to anyone who would like to fly to London to see the event.

Wish I could fly to London! What an amazing opportunity for you!

To what do you attribute your sales success?

I attribute the success in terms of how it affects people’s perspective of math and science. When I get young readers who connect with me on social media or on reviews telking me this is the best book they ever read is truly what I consider success. When I reach a level when that can happen times a whole generation, that is when I have achieved my ultimate goal.

Change the equation; change the world.

More so to the point of the question, once people discover this wonderful story…they love it and want to share it with their friends and family.

I think those are goals of every author, to have your work mean something to the reader and have that word-of-mouth success. It sounds like you’re succeeding!

Thanks again, Jim, for visiting today! It’s so much fun following your new journey!

About Jim~

Jim West was born in Killeen, TX in 1977 and grew up mostly in central Louisiana. For over 18 years he has worked in the Cyber Security field and came up with the ideas and concept for the Magicae Mathematica series about a decade ago. His first book of the series, Libellus de Numeros, is one he hopes will resonate with its young readers. Jim is a father of two SMART and beautiful girls whom he loves dearly and when he himself is not away ‘saving the world’ they live in Dubai, UAE with his wonderful wife Eman.

Libellus de Numeros special edition

Special Edition

About Libellus de Numeros~

What is the missing variable?

Alex, a young precocious girl, mysteriously gets transported to a strange world where Latin and Math combine in formulas and equations with magical effects. With a cruel council leading the only safe city of its kind in this world, she will have to prove her worth to stay as well as help this city as it is the target for two evil wizards who seek to destroy the city and its ruling council.

Will the council’s mighty army of guardians be enough to repel the onslaught of the two wizards’ wrath?

To help the city and also get back home, she will need the help of the greatest mathematician of all time, Archimedes. In a world where math is magic, Alex wishes she paid more attention in math class.

Find Jim and Libellus de Numeros on the web~

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram Kirkus Reviews

Hashtags~ #mathISmagical #missingvariable

Purchase Libellus de Numeros~ Amazon | B&N


 

Libellus de Numeros>>>Book Giveaway<<<

Jim has graciously offered to give away one e-book copy of Libellus de Numerous! To enter, in the comments below, I’d like to know why you’d like to read Libellus de Numeros.

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

STAY – Pieces of Granite Playlist

StayIn Pieces of Granite, the hero’s [Jerry’s] greatest fear is that his wife [Debbie] will leave him. Like most fears, it’s brought on by experience as almost everyone he’s loved in his life has abandoned him. So, when I heard the song “STAY” by Tenth Avenue North, I knew this would be Jerry’s song. I love the passion in the lyrics and the music; it can’t help but evoke powerful feelings.

I also love what this song says about God’s love. No matter what, He stays with us. Through fires and battles and darkness, He is there. Always.

Pieces of GranitePurchase Pieces of Granite
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Getting to Know Jacqueline from When Dawn Breaks

When Dawn BreaksI’m pleased to welcome Jennifer Slattery today! Back in September 2016, I spotlighted her debut novel, Beyond I Do (Currently on sale at Amazon for less than $4 for ebook and print!), in a debut author post. In December, Jennifer’s sophomore work, WHEN DAWN BREAKS, came out, and I love the reviews it’s getting, saying that the story is very real, the characters authentic. I also love that the heroine is “older” in Christian fiction terms, with her having a grown daughter. So, this is just my type of read. While I haven’t read it, yet, it’s on my must-read list.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution propel her north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. However, he’s dealing with a potential conspiracy at work, one that could cost him everything, and Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. Then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? And to further pique your interest, Jennifer talks about her heroine, Jacqueline, in the interview below:

  • Tell us a little bit about Jacqueline, the heroine in When Dawn Breaks. She’s a new believer, correct?

That’s correct. When we first meet her in When Dawn Breaks, she’s been a believer for about a year. Prior to that, she spent her life living for herself, which led to many broken relationships, the most painful of which is her relationship with her adult daughter. Delana, Jacqueline’s daughter doesn’t know or trust the “transformed” Jacqueline and harbors a great deal of resentment toward her mother. Jacqueline understands her daughter’s pain and is determined to regain her trust and rebuild their relationship.

  • When she sees the mandatory hurricane evacuation flash across her television screen, she’s hesitant to leave. Why is this?

I suppose her reaction was fairly common. It’s hard to believe a catastrophe will hit one’s area. This was true for Jacqueline. She’d been through storm warnings before, but they’d always resulted in little more than hype. So when the mayor of Crystal Shores issues a mandatory evacuation, she believes he’s overreacting. I suppose some of that stems from denial; she doesn’t want a hurricane to hit. A major storm would completely wipe out every she’d worked so hard to build, including her dream home, which she’d plunked the majority of her savings into.

  • Upon arriving in Willow Valley, she immediately finds a place to serve. Why?

There’s numerous reasons Jacqueline begins serving very early in the novel, the biggest of which is she wants something to occupy her time while she waits for the authorities to salvage what’s left of Crystal Shores. In addition, things between her and her daughter, who houses her post-storm, are incredibly tense, and Jacqueline wants an escape. The impromptu shelter opened in a local church basement provides a great escape. Serving—doing something physical—also gives her time to contemplate the rest of her life and what she wants to do with it.

  • What is Jacqueline’s biggest struggle?

Jacqueline is held back by deep feelings of shame and regret. She’s made some huge mistakes as a mother, mistakes she’s now paying for. But she’s also been saved and transformed by grace and giving the chance to live a completely new, God-centered life. Though she’s trying desperately to walk in that grace, whenever painful memories from her past resurface, her shame leaves her discouraged, insecure, and ineffective.

  • What are her views on romance?

This is a great question. She’s never been very successful in the relational department, as I’ve already mentioned. And most of the men she’s dated have been selfish and shallow, though she didn’t realize how much so until she came to Christ. So in many ways, romance isn’t even on her radar, until she meets a handsome, godly widower named Jonathan Cohen.

Thank you, Jennifer, for giving us this added insight into Jacqueline. She sounds wonderfully real and relatable! I can’t wait to read When Dawn Breaks!

Jennifer SlatteryABOUT JENNIFER~

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her teenage daughter and coffee dates with her handsome railroader husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud

Read a Free 36-page exerpt of When Dawn Breaks >here<

Purchase When Dawn Breaks:
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Broken Together – Pieces of Granite Playlist

Jesus Mortars Our Broken Pieces TogetherYears ago the line from the Jerry Maguire movie, “You complete me” made women swoon and suddenly became the catch phrase for couples. Sure, it sounds romantic and loving, but how realistic is it? Are we really going to lay that weight on our boy/girlfriend? Fiancée? Spouse? Are we going to rely on them for our wholeness?

So many couples walk down the aisle with visions of fairy tales come true. The princess is marrying her Prince Charming who can do wrong. But, not only can they do wrong, they will do wrong. Then that fairy tale ideal is torn into pieces, and suddenly that handsome prince looks more like a frog.

Relying on our spouse to make us whole only causes heartache and heartbreak as every relationship brings broken people together. We carry all our imperfections into our relationships, just as the hero/heroine in Pieces of Granite brought their brokenness into their marriage. When they tried to rely on each other to mend the fracture, it created more damage. Only when they turned their cracked lives over to God did their marriage improve.

I love how Casting Crowns’ new song talks about being “Broken Together,” that we weren’t ever meant to be complete with our spouse–only God can complete us, and he does so when he mortars the broken pieces of our lives together into one beautiful mosaic.

Broken Together by Casting Crowns

Gone Visiting

VisitingI’m down the road a bit today, visiting author Keely Brooke Keith‘s blog, and she’s asked some fun, not-so-usual questions. If you have a moment, stop by and say “hi.”

http://www.keelybrookekeith.com/2015/02/author-interview-series-brendasanderson.html

Pieces of GraniteI also just discovered a review of Pieces of Granite by friend and co-Inkspirational Messages contributor, Kav Rees. I’m blessed and humbled by her gracious words.

http://bestreads-kav.blogspot.com/2015/02/pieces-of-granite.html

And Kav further expounds on her review in today’s Inkspirational Messages post:

http://inkspirationalmessages.com/calm-within-the-storm/

A Detour Into Non-Fiction

Michelle Griep(Guest post by Michelle Griep)

I’m thrilled to welcome novelist, fellow Minnesotan, and best of all, friend, Michelle Griep to my blog today. Not only is she a fabulous writer, but she also rocks as a teacher. Her blog, Writer off the Leash, is replete with writer helps which she relays with a dash of humor. If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, you definitely should. You’ll learn while grinning, chuckling, and even laughing out loud. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Michelle has compiled much of the wisdom shared on her blog into a book that you’ll want to rush out and get. The book is smartly titled, Writer off the Leash: Growing in the Writing Craft. (You can go right now even, just click >here<. We’ll wait …)

So, how does a novelist detour into writing non-fiction? Well, I’ll let Michelle tell you …

Writer off the LeashI live, eat, and breathe historical fiction. No, really. Sometimes I won’t answer to people unless they call me Jane Eyre. It’s a hoot to mess with cashiers and sign my checks Jane Austen. And I admit, it is a little creepy when I fake a British accent and dress like Charles Dickens. Love the freaked out looks, though.

With that background in mind, what in the world am I doing dipping my toes into the pool of non-fiction with my latest release Writer Off the Leash? It all started with a blog. Grab your milk and cookies, kids, because here comes a story.

Way back when dinosaurs roamed the face of the earth, I staked out my little corner of the internet and named it Writer Off the Leash. I didn’t want to be pinned down to a particular topic, though writing is what I most often post about. I wanted to roam into other neighborhoods like religion, philosophy, and where the best chocolate chip cookie recipe can be found.

Lo and behold—quit blinking, an angel will not appear—that little plot of cyberspace grew, attracting readers from all over the place. Yes, even Hoboken, New Jersey. I know, right? Anyway, these readers started leaving comments about how I should compile all my writerly advice into a book format.

I froze. Me? Put out a non-fiction book? What do I know about truth telling? I’m a historical fiction writer doggone it! But the voices would not shut up . . . not the ones in my head, the commenters on the blog.

So, I did what any self-respecting, strong, not-so-young woman would do. I caved into peer pressure. I found a buddy who had an interest in the inner workings of publishing and was willing to take my material and figure out how to morph it into paperback and ebook formats. And voila! Harpy type music and a glittery sprinkle of fairy dust later, Writer Off the Leash: Growing in the Writing Craft was born.

I’ve learned a lot from going the self-publishing route. Who’d have thought a cover involved so many MANY decisions? Editing requires a gazillion read-throughs. Then there’s ISBN’s and Library of Congress and on and on and on. Why did I suffer through it all?I wanted to blow the lid off stodgy old-school rulebooks and makes it clear that writing can—and should—be fun. Here’s a blurb:

Are you a writer at heart? How can you tell? And if you are, how do you go about composing and selling the next Great American Novel? WRITER OFF THE LEASH answers these questions and more–all in an easy to understand, tongue-in-cheek style. This is more than a how-to book. It’s a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.

Will there be more non-fiction in my future? Maybe. This has been a fun detour, but if I listen really hard, I hear voices from the past calling me. For now I’m returning to historical fiction.

ABOUT MICHELLE ~

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Strong Enough – Pieces of Granite Playlist

I can do all thingsMost of the popular Christian fiction I read has a strong heroine. That’s no surprise as who doesn’t love a strong woman? Can you think of a better role model for our young women of today?

Yet oftentimes that personal strength comes at the expense of depending upon God. So, in Pieces of Granite I wanted to turn the strong-woman idea upside down. In my heroine, Debbie Verhoeven, you have a woman who’s very independent and self-sufficient. People rely on her, and she always comes through. Her temperament’s always on an even keel, and she can handle most any situation with grace.

The problem is, that’s only what the people around her perceive, when on the inside, she’s cracking. She can’t do it. Yet, in the beginning of the novel, Debbie even spouts the phrase “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”

I don’t buy that. I think God constantly gives us more than we can handle on our own. If He doesn’t, what reason will we have to turn to Him? If He doesn’t load us down with more than we can haul ourselves, will we ever let Him help carry our load?

In these self-sufficient, “I can do it on my own” times, I doubt it.

Matthew West eloquently addresses this issue in his song “Strong Enough” as he asks God to be strong for us.

No, we’re not strong enough, but God is.

“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:13

Strong Enough by Matthew West