Category Archives: Twenty Something

Author Jim Rubart is killing me!

Book of Days: A NovelI died and learned to live free in James L. Rubart’s recent suspense novel, Book of Days. You’ll have to read it yourself to see all of what I mean but let me tell you a little about the book.

Much like Frank Peretti’s, The Oath or Prophet, Rubart takes a spiritual concept and illustrates it in a compelling and fascinating story.

Cameron Vaux is plagued by the fear that he is loosing his mind to Alzheimer’s. His father is in advanced stages of the disease. Cameron is convinced that if he finds the Book of Days his dad talks about in a rare coherent conversation, he will be cured. He sets out on an adventure in a small town in central Oregon, filled with danger and romance. Cameron faces some of my own deepest fears, and yet, the story Rubart tells is full of hope and ultimately freedom.

I cried through the first two chapters, rallied for Cameron through the fast paced middle and celebrated in his victory at the end. This novel is a must read! I will always have a copy, or two, on my shelf.

Jessie Ann

For more on my biggest fear and my personal experience with Alzheimer’s see this previous post; Things I Can’t Talk About.


Filed under Book Blab, Twenty Something

Learning to write, featured writing instruction resource, and a lesson.

The First Five Pages: A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile

Please join me at my new web home and don’t forget to like the Blog Schmog Facebook community HERE.

Learning the craft of fiction is sometimes a tricky and expensive business. But we are on a single income budget with a whole passel of kids to boot, so expensive and my own ambitions (no matter how noble) don’t go together.

That’s why Amazon, the library, and author/agent blogs where the craft of writing it taught and discussed are places I like to frequent.

Although, the howling toddler flopping at my feet as I attempt to type this quick post is making me reconsider the other options; check into a loony bin, fly to the moon….

The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman is a hand-me-down book from an author friend of mine. But don’t let my worn copy deceive you. It is well-loved! This is a great instructional resource to keep and refer back to.

Each chapter addresses a topic aimed at “staying out of the rejection pile” with examples of errors, ways to fix trouble spots and then ends with a lesson to apply to your own work in progress. From presentation to dialogue and on to more advanced techniques like pacing, this is an invaluable resource. It also happens to be concise and chapters move along quickly so you can learn a lot in a short amount of time especially if you apply the end of chapter lessons.

Your Mission #1: Here is a lesson from my reading that I enjoyed. Join me if you like by leaving your “homework” in the comments below or on a blog post and linking back.

Lesson from the chapter on setting:

Lukeman challenges writers to train themselves to be attentive to their surroundings, and by learning to better observe, infuse richer settings in their writing. Find ten unusual details in the room you are in and write them down. It doesn’t matter how small. Then see if you can convey a feeling or leave an intentional impression about the setting using these details.

Here’s mine:

  1.  Dust clung to the blades of the fan.
  2. A candle tipped out of rank on a wall sconce of otherwise tidy, crimson candles.
  3. Laundry spilled out of the hamper, slumped like an old man, weary and tired.
  4. Neatly stacked books occupied every flat surface, holding up random wads of this and that.
  5. A well-loved quilt was spread over the stilted log bed.
  6. Pages from Parents Magazine littered the floor.
  7. A white scratch marred the wall painted with midnight forest green.
  8. Grandmother’s old rugs made a cozy place for feet to land on the hardwood floor.
  9. The faint smell of heated rice and lavender filled the small space.
  10. A lone wooden block lay abandoned in the corner.

Your Mission #2: What can you gather from my surroundings?


Filed under Book Blab, Journey to Publication, Twenty Something

FREE Brandilyn Collins on Kindle

My post “How to Read a Brandilyn Collins’ Novel” is being featured today (Sunday) on 5 Minutes for Books!

Check it out here and learn how to get my favorite Christian suspense writer’s novels free!

Happy New Year,



Filed under Book Blab, Twenty Something

Tracie Peterson – Dawn’s Prelude book review

Tracie Peterson – Dawn’s Prelude, historical fiction, Alaska fiction, christian, love, hope

Dawn's Prelude (Song of Alaska)Dawn’s Prelude was disappointing because again I lost a lot of sleep, it was that good!  I recommend this novel.  Surprising and full of hard questions about life and tragedy, the book is beautifully written.

I’ve not read a Tracie Peterson novel before so I didn’t have any assumptions to go off of.   Truthfully I expected a leisurely read.  You know the ones; those novel’s I’ve been known to call “soft reads” or “summer reads”.  Dawn’s Prelude was anything but.   At first I was disappointed, not because I didn’t like the book but because I was expecting to catch up on some sleep after reading Eyes of Elisha.    The first, second, third, fourth chapter into the novel I finally dragged myself to bed.  Poor hubby I’d said “one chapter Hon, then I’ll can sleep”!

Set primarily in the serene landscape of Sitka Alaska, early 1800’s.  Lydia, a young widow moves away from her cruel step children to be with her Aunt Zerelda.  Her past continues to hold her back.  Will she ever be free?

Zee was one of my favorite characters.  A plucky Christian lady who “gets along fine” on her own!  She provides answers to many of the difficult questions Lydia poses.  I love how Tracie Peterson used this character instead of author’s voice or simply leaving questions unanswered. 

There was a point in the middle of the novel where I thought, “we are about to walk a fine line between believability and  soap opera reality” but as soon as I thought it the purpose for certain events became clear and I was once again swept away by the beauty and connectivity of the writing.

The diversity of the characters kept me spellbound.  There are characters of Swedish origin, Russian and even Tlingit Indians.  I found myself chanting the Swedish dialogue in sing song and could almost hear the Russian voices as well.

Well done Tracie, I can’t wait to pick up the next novel in this series!

Amazingly, I WON Dawn’s Prelude through a blog giveaway.  Thank you to Jolanth!


Filed under Book Blab, Twenty Something

Eyes of Elisha Review

Eyes of Elisha (Chelsea Adams Series #1)Oh man, if Violet Dawn was great Eyes of Elisha was awesome.  Brandilyn Collins sets the bar higher with each book she writes.  Now I’m wondering, “can it get any better?”   But apparently on the “suspense scale” I’ve yet to read a three!  MERCY.

Actually the truth of the matter is none of Brandilyn Collins’ books disappoint.

From the back of the book: “The murder was ugly.  The killer was sure no one saw him.  Someone did.  In a horrifying vision Chelsea Adams has relived the victims last moments.  But who will believe her? Certainly not the police, who must rely on hard evidence.  Nor her husband, who barely tolerates Chelsea’s newfound Christian faith.  Besides, he’s about to hire the man who Chelsea is certain is the killer to be a vice president in his company.”

I found myself ripping through the novel as if my life depended on it.  Riveting, mind bending, terrifying at times, Eyes of Elisha kept me glued to my chair all the way to the last word.  And yet, true to form, woven throughout the book were themes of forgiveness, hope in spite of our circumstances and unlikely friendship.



Keep them coming Brandilyn!

I’m a newly converted “seatbelt suspense” fan! 

Click the goofy picture of me at the right to read my post “How to Read a Brandilyn Collins Novel” especially if you aren’t sure you can read suspense.  I didn’t think I could.


Read on if you are curious about how Brandilyn handles the vision.

When I first read the back of the book I was a little worried about the vision bit.  I believe whole heartedly that God uses his people for his purposes and if that includes modern day visions I have no problem accepting that.  The problem lies in a past experience of my own. 

I dated a kid whose family was involved in a deeply charismatic church.  My church, being more conservative mysteriously avoided the subject of gifts unless it came to organ playing and hospitality.  I ended up smack dab in the middle of two extreme views.  The boyfriends parents believed, as their church taught, that unless you received the Spirit in the form of a tangible experience, being “slain in the spirit” you were not saved.  In their defense my home church believed unless you were Baptised in water you were not truly saved.  UGH!  I couldn’t win.

I know now that salvation doesn’t come by works or gifts but by the blood of Jesus.  In the book of James Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

At any rate, Brandilyn’s book beautifully portrayed a faithful follower of Christ who’s vision horrified even her.  Chelsea was not an overzealous, heavy handed believer whose goal was to convince everyone that visions are the only way to heaven.  Instead the vision was used to show the power of the Lord and the fallibility of mankind.  In Christ, through faith and by seeking Him even our mistakes can be used to the good of those who believe in Jesus.


Filed under Book Blab, Twenty Something

How to Read a Brandilyn Collins Book

How to Read a Brandilyn Collins Novel.

I was a little unprepared when I opened my first Brandilyn Collins novel.  Notwithstanding, I decided to write a tutorial so none of you have to experience this misfortune.

I don’t know how I’ve gone this long without reading her books.  Making up for lost time I read two crime novels in less than two weeks.  

To date she has published 19 novels, is an accomplished speaker who loves to connect with readers through her popular blog Forensics and Faith as well as her Facebook page.  

Buy a book, check out her blog and give her a shout on Facebook.   Don’t forget to tell her I sent you.

Without any further ado, here’s my how-to.
Paraphernalia:   Items to have close by when reading a Brandilyn Collins book.  Better yet have the following bag of tricks within reach  because once you “buckle in” you won’t want to get up. I promise.
  1. the book – And as Brandilyn would say “Don’t forget to BREATHE!”
  2. a pen and paper– This gal knows a lot of words and she’s not afraid to use them.  I keep pen and paper handy to jot down words I don’t know, words I know but want to get more familiar with and words that I simply like.
  3. lights, lots of lights! – When possible, read only during the day.  Sadly I cannot so I carry a BIG FLASHLIGHT!  It has surprising dual benefit, its heavy enough to be a weapon.  Watch out Hon!
  4. phone – Your gonna need a phone to call your mommy.

Which of Brandilyn’s books have you read?  Did I miss anything necessary for surviving her fast paced suspense novels?

Don’t think suspense is up your alley? I’m told she has some books just for you too.  Click the big honkin’ chicken’s club button below for suggestions on where to start if you aren’t sure about reading something that gets your heart pumping.
Big Honkin' Chickens Club

 How does a Christian author write about such terrifying circumstances and still stay true to her faith?  As Chrisitians we are not exempt from trouble in fact James says “Consider it all joy my brethren when you encounter various trials for the testing of your faith produces endurance.”  Brandilyn’s ministry is in depicting how characters who face tragic circumstances react.  Some lean on Christ, others are driven to commit terrible crimes, still others stay ambiguous in their faith.  We see different people in different walks of life change, thus challenging each of us to take a hard look at how we deal with this imperfect world we live in.  

The Bible says that the whole earth moans as if in the pains of childbirth, waiting to be restored to Him.  Like a new baby we are in for a surprise when this life is up!  For those who know Jesus personally; restoration, peace, no more tears. For those who reject him they are given what they choose, eternal separation. 

Each of Brandilyn’s books takes you right up to the edge of life, ask the hard questions and leaves you with a choice.  Which path will you follow?

See what books I’ve read here.  Recently that is!


Filed under Book Blab, Twenty Something

My Own Violet Dawn

Violet Dawn (Kanner Lake Series #1) Deliciously creepy and yet mysteriously full of hope. 

What I enjoy about Brandilyn Collins is her candid approach to life, tragedy and hope.  Not only the “queen of suspense,” she is personable and a wonderful teacher.  Using the “rules” I learned from a blog tutorial on Forensics and Faith– Brandilyn’s popular blog, I will attempt to write a review of my first christian crime novel experience.


Creepy describes the book Violet Dawn but so does heartwarming.  How can these both be true?  Brandilyn writes a heart pumping, edge of your seat novel that keeps you guessing all the way to the end.

Tucking my toes under a warm blanket I ran my fingers over the slick cover of my new book.  The 1st in the Kanner Lake series.  The wood stove crackled as it emitted pillows of warmth. Sniffing the pages I peered around the room.  The kids had been in bed for an hour but after a stunt like that I had to be sure.  I didn’t want anyone to see me smelling a book.  

Empty.  Not a soul in sight.  

Sucking in my breath I inclining my ear toward the bedroom.  I could hear light snoring coming from the darkened room where my husband slept.  I exhaled.   Expecting a leisurely tour through the streets of a sleepy little town modeled after my own beloved Coeur d’Alene I huddled lower in my chair and opened to the first chapter.

A gust of wind slammed into the living room window.  I jolted.  Heart pumping.  A murder.  An unfortunate set up.  The window rattled as the night unleashed one of Idaho’s grand storms.  Rain pelting the house.  A shiver crept up my spine and I yanked the fuzzy blanket to my chin.  Wild eyed I held my breath.  Is it him? 

Thump thump.  Thump thump.  I could hear my heart pounding in my head.  Curling my fists around the blanket I held them to my throat trying to muffle the drumming? 

The fire had gone cold as I read.  I’d forgotten my own reality.  My mind began to come around to the present.  Kids sleeping in their beds.  My own violet dawn fast approaching.  How long have I been here?  The clock chimed once.  Just a storm. Just the wee hours of the morning!



Needless to say I thoroughly enjoyed the book.  Three sittings are all it took to get to the end and yet the story is still with me. 

Through terrifying circumstances Paige Williams learned about God’s grace, hope and true friendship.  These books are not for the faint of heart!

Click the picture at right to read my tutorial “How to Read a Brandilyn Collins Novel”.


Filed under Book Blab, Twenty Something

Though Waters Roar

Though Waters RoarSince reading Lynn Austin’s new book “Though Waters Roar” I can’t stop imagining my life as a river. Often I try to swim against the current because I don’t like where it is leading me.  When I give up and let Christ’s peace wash over, the ride is not always what I expect but I certainly experience less drowning, choking, exhaustion!

This Historical Fiction takes place at the end of Prohibition, throughout women’s suffrage and in a turbulent time in America’s History.  From her jail cell, Harriet reminisces about the stories her grandmother told her and the life each of them was dealt.  The story beautifully portray’s a relationship between a girl and her grandmother who are both “social misfits” in their grand family heritage.  Together, the women find peace in the river of life through exceptionally difficult circumstances.

Lynn’s style of writing makes you feel like you are having a conversation over coffee.  The characters seem so real and the story does not follow the expected course of “happily ever after”.  She writes about real life and real struggles with the hope of Christ as the thread that ties it all together but not in some perfect pretty package. 

The river will swallow those who fight against circumstances.  There is no permanent “hot springs” of life instead it is rocky and turbulent at times.  Sometimes its a slow calm trickle but always unexpected. 

Right now I’m still attempting to swim upstream. Lord help me surrender! What about you? Is your life a slow trickle or a raging waterfall? Maybe somewhere in between.


Filed under Book Blab, Twenty Something

On the Subject of Our Value in Christ

 Redeeming LoveI have very little to say about this book but freakin’ awesome and INSANE pretty much sums it up.  You must know that I hate modern romance books but Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (an allegory of the book of Hosea) ROCKED MY WORLD! The story is set during gold rush days and I absolutely ate it up!  It was loaned to me and I opened it reluctantly but finished the story in 3 sittings …and I bought my own copy AFTER reading it!

Among my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis and Frank Peretti, Francine Rivers finds good company!

Link up your own favorite at 5 Minutes for Books


Filed under Book Blab, Twenty Something