Sunday, November 9, 2014

Anon, Sir, Anon blog tour

Bludgeon Inspiration
By Rachel Heffington

When it comes to writing, it can be hard to keep your head in the game. If you're anything like me, your life is unpredictable at times. Shifting work schedules, wedding-season, family life, and travelling gets in the way and it's easy to find yourself on the lame end of inspiration. The story-world that you worked so hard to craft appears to have lost its luster; your characters are stubborn, your plot won't move along, and you're out of the habit of writing at all, much less writing something readable. What's a writer to do? Here are some things that I've put to use when those times of ennui hit me hard.

Keep Notes: Even when you aren't writing, you are living life. If you have eyes to see it, inspiration is everywhere; pay attention and you'll find many things to cultivate your writing skills. Write these things down and when you sit down to write again, you'll have a ripe field of what I call "small-sight": the little half-noticed things of reality that cross the frail line between stilted and vibrant writing.

Do Dishes: I don't think well while sitting still; for some reason the moment my body is completely still, my daydreams kick in and my mind is off on its own merry way which, sadly, never seems to junction with my WIP's. I know we've all heard it, but it's worth saying again: Agatha Christie swore by doing dishes to bring on a bout of inspiration. Maybe her point was because most people don't enjoy doing dishes so they'll feel like writing just as soon as they've begun the dishes. For me, I think my creative brain is stimulated by doing something that doesn't require active brainpower but is productive. Sitting down with nothing to do is my body's signal to space out for a while. (Which, perhaps, is why I love to read so much.)

Watch an old favorite: Funny enough, one of my favorite things to kick me back into a good creativity-spell is to go back and watch a favorite movie: something that is so familiar to me that I can quote it forwards and backwards. Something that draws out the simplest, most important parts of me and brings them back to the light. Usually it's a movie I haven't seen for a long time, but that I love all the same.  There are some films that actually have an adverse effect, such as The Lord of the Rings trilogy; when I watch these, the hope of crafting stories that great seems a weak one at best. Some of the movies that work for me? The Sound of Music, Miss Potter, Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea, Little Women, and Roman Holiday as well as any of the Pixar films.

Write a letter: One of the reasons I keep blogs is because I find that writing fiction and fiction only is actually not that great of an idea. I can easily be tricked into thinking that I'm sick of writing (I know, shocking) when actually what I'm sick of is this particular aspect of this particular story. The best cure for this kind of ennui is a good foray into something logical that still stimulates the need/desire to write. Blog about something entirely unrelated to the topic of writing, or better yet: shut down your computer. Take out some paper and write a letter. Just putting the current events of your life or your recent thoughts into a tangible form is amazing therapy for the novel-weary author.

Work: We authors tend to think that our work as a writer is the only work we will stoop to doing. Believe me, I've been guilty of this. In our heads we're already well on our way to being the next Dorothy Sayers or Percy Jackson; only problem is, the world doesn't know. I'm here to tell you that getting your tail out the door and grubbing around in the garden or painting a dining room or whathaveyou is far more beneficial that you'd think. You might consider menial work below you: oh well, get over it. Even a few days of labor in a row with no writing involved can be better for your novel than three days of a 500-word plunk that you'll end up rewriting anyway. Trust me.

Play with words: Sometimes just being around the comfort of words is enough to inspire. Play Scrabble. Read a gourmet-cooking magazine. Cut up an old book that is falling to pieces and make something cool out of the pages. Doodle. Seriously - doodling is a legitimate form of therapy for those of us who can't bear to put the pen aside, but find ourselves drained of words.

What I mean to say in all this is that you don't need to panic: I'm busy with a contest-piece and monetarily scheming and feel a nagging in the back of my head that says The Baby needs work and I'm neglecting this blog and many other things. Oh well. I don't have to get my tail in a knot over the fact. Inspiration has hidden for a week or two, who cares? If I've learned one thing over the course of my years as a writer, it's this:

Don't worry about your inspiration: Yeah, it might be gone; but it's too arrogant not to come back.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

See you later

Last year during November and December, I let blogging, book reviews, and writing take up all my time and I didn't have any time for my family or other activities. So this year I have decided to take a whole two months off. That is right; no blog post, book reviews, or anything.

This doesn't mean I am going to disappear forever. Nope, I am going to come back in January even strong and better.

Here are some of the things I am going to be doing during my vacation:

Lots of reading
Acting in a live nativity
Doing NaNo
Getting Brothers and Betrayal ready for release
Spending hours with my family
Thinking up some good blog posts

I will miss all of you, but I will be back. 

In HIS care,
Sarah Holman

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Adventure Between The Pages: Top Ten Books of 2014

Every year, I like to make a list of my favorite books out of all the books I have read. This year, I have read a lot of really good books. I decided to narrow down my list of awesome books by listing the 10 books that have had the biggest impact on me this year. All the books listed in some way impacted my faith in a positive way. They inspired me and drew me closer to God.

Would you like to read my review of the book? Click either the title, or the image.

Discovering Hope
I really have grown to love this author, but his book reaffirmed my reasons for having high standards when it comes to relationships with guys. It has one of the best conversations about the physical side of relationships I think I have ever read.

The Shadow Things
This book was just wonderful in reminding me of God’s Goodness in the hard times. It also is a wonderful reminder that the best is yet to come.

8. Never
It is hard to even describe this book. It had a deep and intricate plot with a message I love: Never compromise your standards.

Resistance (Ilyon Chronicles)
I don’t think it is often that a fantasy book makes it onto my top ten, but this one was a powerful story of standing up for your faith. The story was nothing short of masterful.

In His Image (Firmament, #2)
I was going through a hard time, and this story really touched me, proving once again that God uses even fiction to reach his children.

Beauty for Ashes (Love Endures)
Grace Livingston Hill has always been a favorite in our family, but it had been a long time since I had read any of her books. This story really touched my heart and reminded me that Beauty does rise from Ashes.

What Are You Afraid Of?: Facing Down Your Fears with Faith
This book was a very powerful reminder that God is stronger than any fear. Dr. David Jeremiah goes through some of the most common fears and provides biblical as well as practical advice on each.

10 Things Jesus Never Said: And Why You Should Stop Believing Them
This book was one of those books that just is a great reminder of the lies that we too often buy into about Jesus. It a was a huge encouragement to me, and a reminder to stay grounded in the Bible.

From the Dark to the Dawn: A Tale of Ancient Rome
This was the first book I read this year and I knew it would be on this list. It really encouraged me during a rough time I was going through. It is a powerful tale of faith in dark times.

A Memory Between Us (Wings of Glory, #2)
This book stuck with me like nothing else. God used this book to really convict me of some of the pride and other issues in my life. It has really stuck with me through the year and God keeps using it in my life. The story was pretty amazing as well.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Blog Tour for Faith Blum's new book Be Thou my Vision

When and why did you begin writing?
I think I’ve been writing since I could first spell well enough to write. I started with simple, childish stories and loved making up stories about people. I do better on paper than storytelling, though.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I started the publication process for my first book. Before that, I mostly wrote for my own enjoyment.

Faith Blum
An avid reader, Faith Blum started writing at an early age. Whether it was a story about the camping trip that summer or a more creative story about fictional characters, she has always enjoyed writing. When not writing, Miss Blum enjoys reading, crafting, playing piano, moderating on the Holy Worlds Historical Fiction Forum and playing games with her family (canasta, anyone?).
As a history enthusiast who has been fascinated for years with the Old West, Faith has endeavored to create a clean, fun, and challenging Western story. Faith lives with her family on a hobby farm in the Northern Midwest, where she enjoys the many cats they have.
You can find Faith on her Website FacebookTwitterGoogle,

Be Thou My Vision (Hymns of the West, #2)
The church was empty when I dragged myself out of the pew and headed out the door.  As I opened the door, the corner of my eye caught a flicker of movement which I chose to ignore.  I walked down the steps and was nearly bowled over by two wild boys.  With arms grown strong and quick from man-handling two brothers growing up, I grabbed the two boys before they had a chance to escape me.

Anna Stuart is comfortable with her life.  She may be a 30 year old spinster, but she has her routine and enjoys taking care of her father and older brother.  One letter shatters all her routines, comfort, and enjoyment.  After learning of her brother’s death, Anna feels like her life will never be the same again.

Then she meets two motherless boys.  Did God place them in her life to lead her to a new vision of life?  Can she trust God to give her the desires of her heart before she even knows what they are?

Make sure to post Faith's links too:  Faith Blum's Website Facebook, TwitterGoogle,

Be Thou My Vision (Hymns of the West Book 2)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Faith to Start Your Week: Hope

This song has been a huge blessing to me. It reminds me that there is always hope in front of me

There's hope in front of me
There's a light, I still see it
There's a hand still holding me
Even when I don't believe it
I might be down but I'm not dead
There's better days still up ahead
Even after all I've seen
There's hope in front of me
~ There's Hope in Front of Me by Danny Gokey

Listen to it here

Friday, October 17, 2014

Adventure Between the Pages: The Princess Spy

The Princess Spy
Buy it Here
Age Appropriate For: 13 and up for mild romance and mild violence
Best for Ages: 13 and up

Description: Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha---one of the few who speaks his language---understands the wild story. Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin's message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself 'Lord Colin' is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy---not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she's sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook's wicked plot.

I didn’t think that any of Dickerson’s book would ever come close to The Captive Maiden. After all, I love Cinderella, and her retelling of that story was just so wonderful. However, The Princess Spy has taken the spot of my #1 favorite fairy-tale book.

Margaretha was my favorite female character in all of Dickerson’s books, maybe even one of my top 10 of the year. She had so much spunk and fire, while still being lady-like. Too often, when writers write about spunky girls, they make them tom-boys. Margaretha was a wonderful exception. I loved her fault of talking too much at times, and how Dickerson wove that into the story.

Colin was pretty awesome himself. Some readers might remember his grandparents from the book The Merchant’s Daughter. He had come to Germany from England to avenge the death of a friend, only to find his enemy threatening the only person that spoke English, Margaretha.

I don’t think that I have read a book that did as good a job showing the difficulties of the language barrier. Margaretha constantly has to repeat things in English for Colin, and there are some words that she doesn’t know in English (which is often humorous).

I don’t think I have laughed so hard with any of Dickerson’s books. Not only did the difference in language make for some very funny scenes, but Colin and Margaretha where just the perfect mix for humor. I laughed so much during this book that a couple of my siblings said that they had to read the book as soon as I finished. However, even though it was funny in parts, it also kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what was coming next

I loved the faith element in this story, and the romance was even sweeter than normal. Colin’s love for Margaretha, despite her faults, was so wonderful.

I highly recommend this book to those who love fairytales, romance, and exciting stories that keep you turning pages.

I received this book from Zondervan in exchange for my honest review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. The opinions in this review are entirely my own.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Best Books and Blogs for Writers By Amber Schamel

Today, I am taking part in Amber Schamel's blog tour for her newest book, The Messiah's Sign. Here is a bit about the book:

The Messiah's Sign Volume 2 Days of Messiah Series
Dreams…they shouldn’t bother him, but when Tyrus’ worst nightmare is vindicated, he has no choice but to face reality. His wife has been unfaithful, and God has punished her with the most feared disease in the land: leprosy. Banishing her to the leper colony, Tyrus struggles to raise their son alone and protect him from a merciless outlaw. But when Malon begins following the teacher from Nazareth, what remains of their business and reputation is at stake. Can Tyrus save his son from the beguiling lies of a false Messiah before he loses the only thing he has left?

Now, for a great post by Amber:

I've often been asked what my advice for beginning writers would be, and the answer to that is two parts: First, be teachable, and the second plays into that, which is LEARN! Learn how to be a better writer, learn how to market better, and search out this information. The problem is, a lot of times writers don't know where to start. I have a number of great blogs and books that I've found, so I thought I'd share them with you.

The Best Writing Books I've Found:

Rivet Your Readers with Deep POV by Jill Elizabeth Nelson
This is a book you'll want to add to your keeper shelf. Jill shows you how to take your writing to the next level and really pull your readers into the story world through the method of Deep POV. This is a fairly new method, and I believe this is the first book to be written on it, but it will make a HUGE difference in your writing. It did for me!

Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon
I wish I would have read this book years before. I was missing something in my writing, and I knew I was, I just didn't know WHAT it was. While reading this book, my light bulb lit up. I had characters with lots of tension and conflict, lots of terrible things happening to loveable people, and they even had a motivation at times. But they were ping-pong balls being bashed around in my story world with no particular goal or purpose. When I picked up GMC and started reading, I could have hugged Debra for what she taught me. She has a gift of explaining in terms that we can understand, and uses lots of examples for those of us that learn that way.

Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors By Brandilyn Collins
This is a great book on developing our characters into life-like people. One of the best I've read so far.

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman
This book gives you a really good overview of beginner mistakes and how to avoid them. It's a really great place to start.
The best marketing book I've read is by far Platform by Michael Hyatt.
Michael does a great job at explaining how marketing our writing works, what works best, and where to start. He's included lots of extras, examples, and helpful links in his book as well. It's worth every penny if you are serious about selling books.

My Favorite Writing Blogs:

Seekerville Blog
Seekerville is an AMAZING writer's blog, and most of you have probably already found it, but for those of you that haven't, I'm listing it here. Seekerville was my Writer's University, and I continue to learn from EVERY SINGLE post. The blog authors are amazing writers who are dedicated to helping other authors and encouraging them in following God's call to write. The help, encouragement and wisdom I've gained from this group of authors is immeasurable.

Seriously Write Blog
I discovered the Seriously Write blog about a year ago, but it has quickly become one of my top five blogs. The posts are timely, educational, uplifting and practical. They cover topics such as writing tips, marketing, how to's, connecting with editors and agents, and much more.

The Write Conversation
This is Edie Melson's blog, and she posts a lot of helpful information for writers, especially those published by small presses, or those that are going indie.

Novel Rocket
The Novel Rocket blog is put out by a team of authors with the goal of helping other writers "rocket" their novel to success. I'm subscribed to daily updates from this blog, and love it. They have instructional posts, author interviews, contest updates, and more.

The ACFW Blog
Put out by the American Christian Fiction Writers Association, this blog has a guest author each day sharing encouragement for writers, tips, and answers to writer questions. You can subscribe to the blog without being a member, however if you are a Christian Author, I would highly suggest membership.
There are a lot of other books and blogs that I could recommend, but these are the best of them all.

What are your favorite writing books and blogs? Will you share them with me?
I'd like to invite each of you to join me in celebrating my new release with the Name-A-Character Giveaway! Enter to for a chance to pick the name of a main character in Amber's upcoming book The Christmas Pardon. Terms and conditions apply.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, a young lawyer battles with the U.S. Supreme court. In what seemed to be a Christmas miracle, he had secured a pardon for his friend from Lincoln himself. The army executed the boy anyway. On the fifteenth anniversary of his death, will the lawyer finally clear his friends name and bring justice to his memory?

Amber SchamelBest selling author Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest". A homeschool graduate from a family of 12 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at age 21, she has continued to hone her craft and is now the author of over half a dozen books. Between ministry, family and working in their family-owned businesses, Amber loves to connect with readers. Find her on the Stitches Thru Time blog, or on any of the major social media sites.  Amber is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Historical Novel Society.
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Faith to Start Your Week: Proverbs Project Week 10