Archive for November, 2010


Winding Down

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

With less than a week to go in NaNoWriMo Land, I find myself sitting at 37,010k and wishing the month was over. Not because I don’t love NaNo – I do, very much – but when you’re writing at this pace with the goal of completing one specific novel, after awhile I start to miss the freedom to work on other projects.

But that’s all right… November is almost over, and I think for once I’ll be writing THE END when it’s all said and done. Not that I’ll have all the necessary scenes inside the story, but I think purposely finishing the story will help motivate me to go back and edit it in January. Otherwise, I’ll dawdle around for a few months trying to wrap things up, ultimately get frustrated that there’s no specific end goal in sight, and it’ll sit in a drawer for several years like all the other NaNo novels. I don’t want that to happen again!

And with the dawning of December right around the corner, I’m beginning to emerge from the November fog to realize that, well… I have 13 books to review that I really should have reviewed earlier. But, of course, November hit and anything not NaNo-related went out the window (and my memory).

So, in order to space them out a bit, I might backdate a few reviews here and there. I’m just weird like that when it comes to looking at blog posts. And plus, it’s my blog, so I can do it if I want to. LOL. I just thought I’d mention it so you’re not looking at the dates thinking…”Am I going crazy? That was posted 2 weeks ago???” No, it wasn’t (or WAS it? *cue Twilight Zone theme*), I just have a touch of OCD when it comes to posting.

With that, how are you doing with NaNo or your other November projects? I’m looking forward to getting back to all your blogs soon… I’m sure I’ve missed out on hearing about great stuff this month, so I’ll have to do a marathon-blog-post-reading-day or something.

See you all again soon :)


Book Review: ‘A Hope Undaunted’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

A Hope Undaunted

by Julie Lessman

Historical / Inspirational

Release Date: September 2010

Publisher’s Synopsis:hopeundaunted


What happens when the boy she loved to hate becomes the man she hates to love?

The 1920s are drawing to a close, and feisty Katie O’Connor is the epitome of the new woman–smart and sassy with goals for her future that include the perfect husband and a challenging career in law. Her boyfriend Jack fits all of her criteria for a husband–good-looking, well-connected, wealthy, and eating out of her hand. But when she is forced to spend the summer of 1929 with Luke McGee, the bane of her childhood existence, Katie comes face-to-face with a choice. Will she follow her well-laid plans to marry Jack? Or will she fall for the man she swore to despise forever?


My Thoughts:

Of the three books I received for review from Graf-Martin Communications this month, I was most excited about reading this one. I mean, just look at the cover! It’s not often that you see a 1920s-themed novel, particularly inspirational fiction, and this one sounded like a good read to boot.

Oh, how quickly things change.

I almost didn’t finish the book. It’s long – over 500 pages – and by the time I made it halfway through, I didn’t care about any of the characters or what happened to them. In fact, I put the book aside and said to my husband “I can’t finish this, I’m so bored”. But I ended up finishing it for one reason alone: I had to fall asleep early a few nights in a row (I had to get up earlier than usual for a few mornings) so I used to book to help me fall asleep. I know, it’s a terrible thing to admit, but this book just wasn’t for me.

However, I’m going to put a big asterisk on my statement, because I suspect the story will actually find a very wide audience, and here’s why: The whole entire book reads like a soap opera. I’m completely serious – if you like watching soap operas, you will probably love this book.

Here’s what didn’t work for me:

- Ten billion characters: there were way, way too many characters in this book, and by the end of the novel, I still didn’t have straight who was married to who and whose kids were whose… and I read fantasy, people. I’m no stranger to large casts, but when everyone in the book looks and sounds the same, it’s very confusing. But you know who has large casts that are hard to keep straight? Soap operas. Yep.

- Changing points of view without changing voice: Sometimes, a scene would end, only to pick back up in the exact same spot in the next scene break, but from the point of view of the opposite character. Now, this is an interesting way to provide insight into your characters and give a sense of perspective, but if you’re going to write in multiple voices, the voices must be distinct. And that’s hard to do when you have, oh, say ten to fifteen different POVs at various times throughout the novel. I also found that this constant shifting made it very difficult to get invested in the main characters, because it was hard to know which person/couple/issue we were supposed to be connecting to and investing emotionally in.

- Cliché, melodramatic plot twists: (SPOILER ALERT) Will they be together? Won’t they? No, they can’t, because this person’s sense of duty requires him to marry this person, but OH MY GOSH NOW SHE’S DEAD so it’ll work, but no, the heroine is now with someone else, but OH MY GOSH HE WANTS TO BE A PRIEST so it’ll work, but no, the pain of death is too fresh, but OH MY GOSH THEY CAN BE FRIENDS INSTEAD until a proposal comes OUT OF THE BLUE and they all live happily ever after.

Umm… what?

Like I said: Soap opera.

For me, this was pure tedium. I didn’t care about anyone, and the plot “twists” made me groan at every turn. However, it’s just like a soap opera in the sense that there are too many people, the twists are random (and convenient), and the schlocky romance is over the top. If you love soap operas, I honestly think this is the kind of book you’ll enjoy. As for me, I hope I never go near another book like this again.

P.S.: The writing is also very good, apart from the whole voice-doesn’t-change-with-character-POV-shifts thing. The author has received a large number of RWA awards, so I have to credit her for being able to tell a good story, even if her stories aren’t for me.

About the Author

Julie Lessman is the author of A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. Lessman has garnered several writing awards, including ten Romance Writers of America awards. She lives in Missouri.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, IncAvailable at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.


Book Review: ‘Making Waves’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Making Waves

by Lorna Seilstad

Historical Romance / Inspirational

Release Date: September 2010


Publisher’s Synopsis:

makingwaves Sun, summer, and a scrumptious sailing instructor. What more could a girl want?

When spunky Marguerite Westing discovers that her family will spend the summer of 1895 at Lake Manawa, Iowa, she couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s the perfect way to escape her agonizingly boring suitor, Roger Gordon. It’s also where she stumbles upon two new loves: sailing, and sailing instructor Trip Andrews.

But this summer of fun turns to turmoil as her father’s secrets threaten to ruin the family forever. Will free-spirited Marguerite marry Roger to save her father’s name and fortune? Or will she follow her heart–even if it means hurting the family she loves?

Full of sharp wit and blossoming romance, Making Waves will whisk you away to a breezy lakeside summer holiday.


My Thoughts:

I honestly thought this book was going to be dreadful. I regretted asking for it the moment I hit the ‘send’ button, and put off reading it over and over again until I couldn’t wait any longer.

But guess what? It turned out to be my favorite of the three books from Graf-Martin’s blog tour this past month. Don’t let that hideous cover fool you – there’s a fun story inside with a likeable heroine and a hero who has a hard time doing anything right, let alone come along to save the day!

In short, here are the things I loved about this book:

  • a heroine with serious flaws who has a full family (no/dead missing mother or father!)
  • a hero who is anything but, and as likable as he is, continues to make mistakes
  • a villain whose moral compass kicks in when things turn grim – he’s bad, but he’ll only take it so far and continues to act within his established character
  • the heroine’s younger brother plays a large role and helps to save the day
  • an unusual setting makes for a very different atmosphere

Mostly, I was impressed with the character development and how each character stuck to who they were – they didn’t act out of character or act in an uncharacteristically drastic fashion toward the end of the novel, which I find tends to happen in a lot of Christian historical fiction.

No, this was just a fun, fast-paced read with good characters, a forward-driving plot, and just a touch of the ‘inspirational’ side of things so as to fit in with the time period but not overwhelm the story. In fact, I was a bit surprised at that, because Revell (the publisher) tends to be the one with “preachier” books, but not so in this case!

Don’t let the unremarkable back cover copy (could they have made it sound any more cliché or dull?) or the front cover stop you from reading this one (honestly, did they really HAVE to choose the image where she’s making that expression?!?!). I’ll be passing this one on to others, and will gladly read more from this author in the future.

About the Author

A history buff, antique collector, and freelance graphic designer, Lorna Seilstad is the author of Making Waves and draws her setting from her home state of Iowa. A former high school English and journalism teacher, she has won several online writing awards and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, IncAvailable at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group".


Book Review: ‘Head in the Clouds’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Head in the Clouds

by Karen Witemeyer

Historical Romance/ Inspirational

Release Date: October 2010

Publisher’s Synopsis:

When a recovering romantic goes to work for a handsome ranch owner, her heart’s not the only thing in danger!HeadInTheClouds_4color+MK.indd

        Adelaide Proctor longs to find a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a governess position on a remote Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her silly romantic yearnings behind.
      Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America’s wool industry, never expecting to end up with a child. To his dismay, five-year-old Isabella hasn’t uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon—and intrigues him at the same time. But he can’t afford distractions.
      When Isabella’s uncle comes to claim the girl—and her inheritance—Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man’s evil schemes. Soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

My Thoughts:

Witemeyer’s second novel is much like her first, which I reviewed earlier this year: Headstrong heroine, a do-no-wrong hero, and a “bad guy” or two whose motives (and violent tendencies) are one-dimensional.

Taken as a whole, I enjoyed the novel enough to recommend it as a rainy-day read borrowed from the library. It wasn’t bad, but like Witemeyer’s first novel, there were a few things that irked me… for that matter, some of the things have been bothering me within the genre as a whole, as well.

For starters, I’m sick and tired of the rape motif in Christian fiction. Yes, women were and are vulnerable, but does that honestly mean that every ill-intentioned man wants to sexually violate women? Isn’t there anything else that writers can choose as a man’s vice in order to portray him as a ‘bad guy’. Not every BAD man in the world wants to rape women, but it seems that in historical fiction these days, if you’re evil, you’re also a rapist.

Look, even criminals have moral boundaries (not all, I know, but most). And life isn’t so black and white that all ‘bad guys’ want to sexually abuse women and all ‘good guys’ are 100% chaste and wouldn’t even be willing to indulge an impure thought. Seriously, CBA, is this how you want to portray male/female relationships to impressionable female minds?

The ‘good guy’ won’t always ride in to save the day, and the ‘bad guy’ doesn’t always want to violate you. So why is this showing up in nearly EVERY SINGLE CHRISTIAN HISTORICAL NOVEL I’ve read these days?!?! Yes, I know lately I’ve been singing the praises of the CBA market and the changes it’s been making, but no one is perfect and that includes publishers. Maybe this is part of the attempt to be ‘edgy’ and ‘realistic’, but it’s becoming an epidemic and I’m sick of reading it.

It’s insulting to men in general, and it’s demoralizing to women. I don’t want to see it anymore, and I’m stating right here, right now, that I will not finish any more Christian Historicals that include this as a way to characterize its male characters.


But back to the book. The heroine is mostly likable, and the hero is mostly perfect, and everyone lives happily ever after, albeit cut and bruised (and recovering from bullet wounds), etc., etc.

I have yet to figure out why there’s a focus on the heroine’s love of novel-reading in the back cover copy (and the image) when this aspect of her personality is barely touched on (I think she mentions a book by name once… you’d think it would be happening all the time, based on the description) so I found this piece of her character lacking and undeveloped.

Still, like I said… if you’re looking for a (mostly) feel-good, rainy-day read, it might be worth your time.

About the Author: Karen Witemeyer holds a master’s degree in psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and the Abilene Writers Guild. She has published fiction in Focus on the Family’s children’s magazine, and has written several articles for online publications and anthologies. A Tailor-Made Bride is her first novel. Karen lives in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children.Visit Karen’s Web site at

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, IncAvailable at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".


NaNoWriMo… Halfway!

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

I’m still here! Writing, writing, writing.

Our NaNoWriMo target for the 15th is 25,000 words, and as of this morning I’m sitting at 21k. I’m hoping to jump the gun a bit and be closer to 40k by the end of this week, as my weekends this November have been filled with anything but writing… just too much going on, but isn’t that the way life is?

I’ll be back in December with regular posts again. As for right now, good luck with whatever you’re working on!

In the meantime, look at this adorable cover that a fellow Wrimo made for me!


Talk to you all soon!

And thanks again to those who voted / are voting for my Husbando’s Pepsi Refresh proposal… I really really really appreciate it! :)


Book Review: ‘Power to Reinvent Yourself’

   Posted by: Faith    in Tasty Tomes

Power to Reinvent Yourself:

How to Break the Destructive Patterns in Your Life

by Jason Frenn


Release Date: October 2010

powertoreinvent Description from Publisher’s Website:

Evangelist and author Jason Frenn details five steps accessing Christ’s power to break the chains of destructive patterns that afflict generation after generation. Many families suffer from dysfunction and conflict handed down from one generation to the next, and the cycle repeats itself with greater and greater severity. Parents struggle to keep their families from eroding as they helplessly watch their kids, teenagers, and adult children fall into overwhelming patterns of self-destruction. But there is a power that can set these families free and change their future.

In this book, readers experience the story of the author and his family, and how he was rescued from destruction. Each reader can find the POWER TO REINVENT YOURSELF and obtain a life of significance, success, and victory!


My Thoughts:

Yeah… the descriptive copy doesn’t exactly make it sound appealing, does it? The back cover copy is much better, but really long, and I don’t have 20 minutes to re-type it out. Needless to say, I agreed to read the book on the basis of the back cover copy, not the gimmicky-sounding tripe in the publisher’s description.

Anyway… moving on…

I’ve read a lot of Christian “self-help” style books. Like a lot of creative people, I have my own struggles with anxiety, and I like to read books that help me to feel inspired, hopeful, and that offer real tools for change. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes the tool will work for a little while but isn’t realistic long-term.

This book, while it’s an interesting read with some heartbreaking anecdotes (I love anecdotes), there’s not much new material here. It’s common sense, rehashed with some fancy phrases like “unleash power” and “overcome destructive patterns”. Sure, that all sounds nice, but I already know about the importance of things like prayer, forgiveness, and delegating tasks to others when I’ve taken on too much.

I think this book is perhaps directed at people who are set in more extreme situations of destructive behavior, or who respond well to hyperbolic statements… whereas I find hyperbolic statements a real turn-off and an excuse to put the book down (or roll my eyes in a dramatic fashion).

If you’ve not read ‘change your habits / change your life’ themed books before, maybe this is one you could start with and get something out of. However, I didn’t find that it added anything to the already well-established plethora of inspirational self-help books on the shelves (yep, this is another plug from me for Dr. Leman’s books, a psychologist who combines his professional training with personal experience, and who does it WELL).

Sorry, Jason Frenn, but your book just wasn’t for me.

About the Author

Jason and Cindee Frenn are missionary evangelists and conference speakers who travel throughout North and South America holding citywide crusades. Together with their team based in Costa Rica, they help people find freedom in Christ to become all God intends them to be. Jason and Cindee have three daughters. Visit their website at


Thanks to Hachette Book Group / FaithWords for providing this book for review. This book was provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review.


Stop the Madness!

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

I read a really good blog post this morning, which I highly recommend that you read and pass on to others (particularly anyone you know who needs it). It’s called:

Writers, Stop Being Mean to Each Other!

Thankfully, no one on this blog has been mean to anyone, and I’d say that above all, it’s a rarity… but every year as NaNo rolls around, mean writers pop out of the woodwork left, right and center.

Head over there and read it. What do you think? Have you run into this lately?

Also, if you have time, I’d really really really (x 1,000,000) appreciate it if you could do me a favor. Have you heard of the Pepsi Refresh Contest? People submit their ideas for a chance to win $25,000 from Pepsi… they’re supposed to be ideas for charity-type things, betterment of society, that sort of thing… (though some kinda aren’t).

My husbando’s web development company put a proposal together for this, and I’d be ETERNALLY GRATEFUL if you could please take a moment to vote for their idea. They want to rebuild the websites of 5 charities who desperately need new websites, and I know you all know how important it is for businesses to have good platforms these days, and a website is a big part of that.

His company is also planning to match the $25,000 prize money, because to fully rebuild five websites costs a lot more than that (especially for large charities, which is why they have crappy websites to begin with… they can’t afford good websites, but that means they’re losing out on visitors and donations, but without the donations they can’t afford things… it’s a vicious cycle!).

The websites they want to re-do are for: Epilepsy Ontario, Ontario March of Dimes, United Way of Halidmand-Norfolk, Sexual Assault/Rape Crisis Centre of Peel, Wellesley Institute.

If you’re so inclined, please go HERE and vote for Lifeline Design. I think you have to sign into the Pepsi site to do it, so I apologize for that (I think it’s so they can ensure no one abuses their voting privileges). You can vote once per day, so I have the page bookmarked for the month!

And if you want, share the link on Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you SO VERY MUCH in advance :) I really appreciate it, and I’d love to see these charities get new websites that bring in more traffic and awareness of each cause.

And remember… mean writers suck. Let’s all keep being nice to each other!


Random Things

   Posted by: Faith    in Rye Thoughts

This post is going to be a slew of randomness thrown together. No cute tips, or helpful advice, or book suggestions… just me spewing word vomit onto the screen, so to speak.

It’s the first week of NaNoWriMo, what do you expect? ;)


On NaNoWriMo

nanowrimo_03_100x100 Yep, it’s the first week of NaNoWriMo. I’m the ML for our region for the second year, which means I’m in charge of everything and getting people organized. And promotions. And getting fun things together for everyone. And moderating our forum. And staying on top of my own word count as an example for others to follow.

Yeah, I definitely crashed and burned yesterday. Those of your who also struggle with severe stress & anxiety will understand—there are some day when you just can’t. I spent most of yesterday lying on the couch, hating myself and the world. This isn’t something I’ve talked about on the blog before (and I don’t know if I’ll ever mention it like this again), but I know there are some of you out there who struggle with the same thing, and please know that you’re not alone.

Today is much better, though I’m not back to normal yet. However, I switched projects and got caught up by writing the daily count for yesterday, which means I’m back on track and will be able to get today’s word count in at tonight’s write-in. I’m feeling much more confident now that I switched projects, even though I’d spent the last two months planning to work on a different project.

But I think that was maybe the problem… I planned to work on something else, but I didn’t actually have time to plan the project itself, I was far too busy with other things like work and ML duties. I felt like I was doing so much for other people, that I didn’t have any time to do the things I needed to for myself. I still feel that way a little bit… but this other project is simpler, mostly planned (I have a general outline, and the story is very linear), and I know I can finish it within the month. Plus, an agent recently posted that she’s looking for books in this same vein, so I may use that (querying her) as an end goal to push me through, even though writing is the last thing I want to do right now. Yeah, perfect timing for my mental health to go wonky, I know.


On Blogging

ohnoz This month, my posts will be sporadic at best, and complete and utter ramblings at worst. In order to not end the month as a quivering pile of jelly, I’m not going to commit to any regular posting schedule, including weekly memes and/or a previously mentioned new series of writing tips (I think I must have been insane when I said I wanted to start that this week).

So if you don’t hear much from me, that’s why.


On 100 Followers

I’m almost there! And yes, I will be running a contest of sorts once I get there. :) I even have a few of the prizes already lined up, cute little things that I’ve found here and there… and of course, there will be a book or two up for offer. That’s just the way of things. So stay tuned for that!


On the Crusader Challenge

I’m so sorry, guys… I’ve really dropped the ball on you recently. Please see the above section on NaNo to know why I didn’t get around to joining the second challenge last week. Also, please know that I’m reading your blogs and commenting as much as I have time for. It’s not that I don’t love you, promise. stack-of-books


On Book Reviews

Oh, good grief. I have so many of these backed up that I don’t even know where to start. I’m going to try and get to some of these this month… though I’ll warn you that I’ve read some pretty crappy review books lately, so I’m not exactly motivated to write some of them. Oh well. I’ve committed, so that’s that.


And now I’m going to leave this and get back to writing… I’m going to try and get to as many blogs as I can in the next 30 minutes and comment, and then I have to move on to other commitments… yeah, this post was entirely too self-indulgent, and I don’t plan to do it again anytime soon. But I didn’t have anything unique or funny or wise to say today, so… that’s that.

See you around, Wrimos and non-Wrimoing writerly types! :)

Here’s to a successful November, whatever you’re doing.