Friday, August 26, 2016

Three Days Left

Just a reminder, if you want to grab the e-book version of My Brother's Crown for 99¢ or The Amish Clockmaker for $2.99, act soon because the sale expires in 3 days!

Available wherever e-books are sold. Sale ends August 29th.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Goodreads Giveaway

Fun news, there's a giveaway going on over at Goodreads! Throughout the month of August, Harvest House Publishers will be giving away a total of 10 copies of my new book with Leslie Gould, My Sister’s Prayer.

Just click this link to head on over for a chance to win!

(Unfortunately this contest is only open to US residents, sorry about that!)

Friday, August 19, 2016

My Sister's Prayer is Now Available!

It's always exciting when a new book releases, but I'm especially happy about this one. Second in the Cousins of the Dove Series, My Sister Prayer continues the saga of the Talbot Family, first introduced in My Brother's Crown.

Here's the summary of My Sister's Prayer...


Virginia, 1705 

Celeste Talbot is usually such a sensible young woman—until she falls for an English soldier reassigned to the Colonies. Leaving her Huguenot family behind, she sets sail for America, only to realize that her younger sister Berta has been kidnapped and forced on board the very same ship. Whom can Celeste trust? The dashing soldier? Or the vigilant carpenter who remains by their side in the perilous New World?

Virginia, present day

 Madeline "Maddee" Talbot has her hands full when she agrees to take in her younger sister Nicole following a serious car accident. The young women grew apart when Nicole fell into drug addiction, and Maddee prays this will be the start of a closer relationship between them and a better life for her sister. But as they investigate a trauma from their childhood, Maddee must keep a diligent eye on Nicole—and the shadowy figure watching them from afar.

My Sister's Prayer tells an epic tale of two women compelled to protect their sisters, confront their fears, and navigate the muddy waters of betrayal to find true love.

Hope you like it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Writing Wednesday: 10 Reasons Every Writer Should See Finding Neverland (Part 1)

Last Saturday, I mentioned a recent trip my family and I made to Broadway, where we took in the musical Finding Neverland. In that post, I said I'd be back here today to talk about why it's the perfect show for writers. Thus, for what it's worth, here's the first half of my 10 Reasons Why Every Writer Should See Finding Neverland. Be sure to come back next time for the rest. 

1. Because it's helpful to understand that even successful writers struggle with frustration about their craft. 

The story is about J.M. Barrie, the man who wrote Peter Pan. The show opens prior to that, at the debut of the successful playwright's latest play. Everyone around him–including his wife and his producer–are celebrating, but he's clearly in torment. We learn why when he sings:

     Just listen to those cheers
     Even though I haven't had a new idea in years
     I need to find the spark inside
     to lead me somewhere new
     If I could somehow turn this all around
     I'd turn my whole world upside-down

Barrie is stuck in a rut, plagued by writer's block, and all too aware that he just keeps rehashing the same old stuff in play after play. 

2. Because writers need to be reminded that sometimes the best thing you can do to make your story better is to walk away from it for a while and go out into the world, where you just might find a new perspective.

As the show continues, we begin to feel that Barrie probably does possess the talent to do more, he just needs a good idea to get the juices flowing. Fortunately, he finds inspiration in Kensington Park, when he meets a young widow with four active sons. The boys are engaged in pretend play–the kind we all did as kids–and watching them create such fun out of their imaginations reminds Barrie that he's forgotten how to play. Immediately, he jumps into the game and is soon helping to make an even more imaginative world for the boys, one that includes a dancing bear and a lagoon and mermaids.

3. Because it demonstrates so beautifully the intangible process of creation.

Feeling inspired by their encounter, Barrie continues to seek out the young family as often as he can, spending time with them and reconnecting with his own inner child.* [See footnote, at the bottom]

At one point, he is in their home at bedtime and the boys are jumping on the beds and suddenly–thanks to terrific lighting and other effects–we understand that Barrie sees the moment not as it is but as it could be: a scene in a play where children learn to fly.

This is my favorite moment in the show. And though I didn't really like the movie of the same name, it was my favorite moment in the movie as well.

It's pretty cool in the film, but on the stage it's breathtaking. I've seen Finding Neverland three times now, and for some reason, this particular moment always strikes me with such awe and delight that I actually burst into tears! Embarrassing, but there you go. It reaches me at the very core of who I am and what I do as it demonstrates visually something that is nearly impossible to explain in words, the magic of the creative process.

4. Because it portrays the less appealing but necessary parts of the writing life.

Sometimes aspiring writers have a such a rosy view of the life they'll live "someday" that they don't see the part of that life that's less than, um, wonderful. Though authors of Barrie's era never had to face marketing their own work or establishing a platform or creating a presence on social media, etc., they certainly faced other issues that still exist for writers now, such as writer's block, critical reviews, and impending deadlines.  We see all of these happening in Finding Neverland.

My favorite is the deadline, which is treated in a very clever way. As Barrie struggles to write his new play, his producer keeps reminding him that it's well overdue, saying in a scolding voice, "The clock is ticking, James."  Somehow, in Barrie's imagination, that ticking clock ends up in the story of Peter Pan–inside the alligator! I don't know if that's where the real Barrie got that particular idea, but it's fun to imagine it happened exactly that way.

5. Because it shows how we writers work out our own issues on the page, often in ways that our readers will never understand or even know about.

When J.M. Barrie was just six years old, his beloved older brother died in an ice skating accident. In Finding Neverland, Barrie confides that in order to cope with his brother's death, he invented a place called "Neverland," where kids didn't have to grow up. That's where his brother was, he told himself, in Neverland, which was second star to the right and straight on till morning. 

I find that fascinating, that even at six years old, Barrie was using his imagination to cope and escape and invent and dream.

Be sure to come back next week for the rest of my 10 reasons why Finding Neverland is the perfect show for writers. In the meantime here are some related links you might enjoy:



* By today's standards, Barrie's relationship with the boys may seem rather creepy, but there has never been any proof that he was a pedophile. Most scholars' opinions seem to fall along the lines of this quote, from author Justine Picardie:
"I remain...uncertain about JM Barrie, whose chief aim seemed to be not to corrupt boys into adult desire, but for himself to rejoin them in the innocence of eternal boyhood, a Neverland where children fly away from their mothers and no one need grow old."
Because Barrie was a controversial figure, I have decided to go with the version I'm seeing in the show. It is a fictionalized account, after all, so that's the J.M. Barrie I'm talking about for the purposes of this discussion. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Brother's Crown for Just 99¢

Great news: For a limited time, the e-book version of My Brother's Crown is available for just 99¢. As an added bonus, you can also get The Amish Clockmaker for only $2.99. Be sure to take advantage of both opportunities soon, because these special prices are only good from now through August 29th.

Available wherever e-books are sold. (Though if you'd like to get them from amazon, clicking on the book cover images, below, will bring you there.)



Saturday, August 13, 2016

Selfie Saturday: Star Chasing in NYC


Further down on this page, you'll see my original post, where I mention the Broadway musical Hamilton and how I was dreaming of winning the Hamilton Lottery someday. Well, I'm happy to report that that "someday" finally came! After continuing to enter the lottery day after day after day, about a month after this post I ACTUALLY FINALLY WON!  

It happened on a Saturday morning in September, when I checked the Hamilton App on my phone, expecting to see the usual "Sorry, but..." message. Instead, I was dumbfounded to read the words,"Congratulations! You are a winner!"  What did I win? The right to purchase two front row tickets to the Broadway production of Hamilton for just $10 each--despite the fact that the price of regular tickets started at more than $1000 each!

After I finished jumping up and down and screaming and telling my husband, I looked at the clock–and nearly had a heart attack. That's because by that point it was around 11:30 am, the show was to start at 2pm, and we lived at least 2 hours from New York City and sometimes more, depending on traffic. Worse, I was still in my jammies, settled in for a lazy Saturday around the house.

Talk about a mad rush, I've never gotten ready so fast–nor gone anywhere looking so awful–as I did that day. I was a mess, but with no time for washing my hair or doing my makeup, I simply threw on some clothes and and headed for the car. Then we flew, driving as fast as we could all the way to NYC, parking at Grand Central Station, and literally running from there to the theatre (nearly a mile!) As you can see in this photo, by the time we arrived I was a hot, red-faced mess–but grinning like a fool, because we'd made it with 5 minutes to spare!

What followed was the single most thrilling theatre experience of my life, full of incredible  dancing, rapping, singing, and acting. Our expectations had been high, but the reality exceeded them on every count.

Would we do it again? In a heartbeat! Talk about a treasured memory, and all it cost us was a lot of crazy rushing around and twenty bucks, aka a pair of "Hamiltons." As you can see from my husband's smile, below, a great time was had by all. :)



We spent last weekend in New York City, and I managed to score a celebrity photo with Broadway legend John Owen-Jones.  What a voice! What an actor! He's currently starring as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables, in a performance so outstanding it still gives me chills when I think about it. Our daughters had never seen Les Mis on Broadway before, so we decided to take them, and a great time was had by all.

Mindy with Jean Valjean, aka John Owen-Jones
I got a special treat at the end of the third song, where he sings:

   I'll escape now from the world
   From the world of Jean Valjean
   Jean Valjean is nothing now
   Another story must begin!

That's when he tears his yellow "ticket of leave" in half and tosses it away, then the lights go down. Well, sitting there in the darkness, I felt something fall on my lap (we were in the 2nd row) and, sure enough, when the lights came back on, I saw that half of the yellow ticket had landed on me!

Later, at the stage door, I got him to sign the ticket and my Playbill, both of which I plan to frame and hang in the "Broadway memorabilia" area of our family room.  So cool.

We also caught the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which I've been wanting to see for ages. Now that it's closing, we were able to score half price tickets and, again, we really enjoyed it. (Though I liked the book even better than the play. Here's a link to the paperback, if you're interested. I highly recommend it!)

Finally, we went to Finding Neverland, the story of  J.M. Barrie, the man who wrote Peter Pan. It was my third time seeing it and I still sobbed like a baby.

I won't say any more for now but instead will wait till Writing Wednesday, where I'll explain why Finding Neverland is the perfect show for writers.

In the meantime, here are a few more photos from our weekend in the city...

This is me, doing some wishful thinking outside of Hamilton. (I enter the Hamilton Lottery almost every day but so far haven't won.)  Someday I'll score a ticket and see it live and in person. For now, I'll have to be content with listening to the Broadway Cast Album, which I do believe is my favorite cast album of all time.  And that says a lot, considering I've never even seen the show!


Finally, couldn't resist, here's a shot of my daughters in Times Square. Amazing, isn't it, how their smiles light up the city even more than all the lights around them? (Sorry, proud mom here.)

Thanks for reading, and be sure to come back on Wednesday to learn more about Finding Neverland.

What's your favorite play or musical? Let us know in the comments, below.