Author, Author! — Rachel Dylan

12 Feb

Rachel-Dylan-200x300I am so excited to welcome romantic suspense author, Rachel Dylan to By The Book today. Take a few moments to find out what makes this talented author tick as well as exciting new releases coming up. (You can click on the pictures of Rachel’s books for my reviews and to find information on how to purchase them.)

By The Book — Many authors say that they have always been a writer — making up stories as a child. When did you first become a writer?

Rachel Dylan — I think I have always been a writer. As a child, I was a voracious reader. I gobbled up books left and right. I started writing stories and poems in elementary school. Everyone in high school assumed I was going to become an English professor. It didn’t turn out quite like that, but writing has always been a part of who I am.

BTB — Was there a special someone, such as a teacher, parent, or other relative, who encouraged you to pursue writing?

Rachel — I had many teachers along the way starting in elementary school that encouraged my love of reading and writing. My parents were also both very supportive of my writing. Currently, my family and friends are all a great source of support and motivation for me.

unknown11BTB — Your books always contain a strong Christian message. Do you have a particular motivation to write books that contain faith threads?

Rachel — Actually, I do. The first couple of novels I ever wrote were secular novels. But I felt convicted to change my path and write books that had a strong faith message. God was tugging at my heart to take a different direction. I went through some struggles in my personal life that led me to really reevaluate things. And I wanted to use the talents God had given me to write Christian fiction. I made that commitment and have been thoroughly blessed by doing so. Looking back over my writing career, I can now see God working in ways that at the time I had no idea about.

BTB — What does a typical writing day look like? Are you structured or informal in your writing schedule?

Rachel — Because I still work full time as a lawyer, most of my actual writing is done on the weekends. I usually get up very early on Saturday morning and work all day. It is a tough schedule given my lawyer hours, but I love writing and I feel like it’s a form of ministry for me. I get that fiction is entertainment, but I really want my books to have a purpose beyond entertainment.

BTB — Your most recent books, Lethal Action and Trial and Tribulations, involve legal drama, romance and suspense. What is your motivation for writing in this genre? How does your experience as an attorney impact or influence your writing? 


514miqr2z6l-_sx311_bo1204203200_Rachel — Writing books with legal themes is a natural fit for me. I keep getting drawn back to telling legal stories because I’ve been a lawyer now for about 10 years, and I have so many ideas. Also, I love reading romantic suspense novels, so it made sense to me to write what I love to read. With legal stories, there’s also a fine line I try to walk on being realistic and also entertaining.

BTB — Trial And Tribulations adds an extra dimension with its focus on spiritual warfare. Did you encounter any obstacles or problems in writing this novel? 


Rachel — I never set out to write a book about spiritual warfare. In fact, I was writing a completely different book. I remember sitting there on vacation and then an idea hit me. The main character Olivia came to my mind along with the story line about two battling New Age companies and spiritual warfare. Writing the book itself flowed so easily. It’s all a blur now when I look back on the writing process—and I wrote the book very quickly. But then after I finished it and my agent submitted to publishers, that’s when the challenges and obstacles really started to pop up. Traditional publishers said that spiritual warfare wasn’t something that would sell right now. I made the decision to independently publish the book because I felt so strongly about it. It has been a challenge to reach readers searching for spiritual warfare stories, but I am not giving up because I really believe in the message of the story.

BTB — What kind of research did you do in writing both books?

Rachel — For Lethal Action, I didn’t have to do a lot of research because the legal elements of the story were so familiar to me. I also set the story in Georgia which is where I am from. For Trial & Tribulations, I did a lot of reading. I probably read at least ten books on spiritual warfare.

BTB — What do you want your readers to take away with them after finishing one of your novels?

Rachel — I want them to enjoy the books, but I also would love it if they take away a positive message of faith, hope, and redemption.

BTB — Both Lethal Action and Trial And Tribulations are first books in a series. When can readers expect book 2 in the series? What are some other projects you are working on?

51becfzyvzl-_sx311_bo1204203200_Rachel — I’m working on the sequel to Trial & Tribulations now and will soon start the Lethal Action sequel. I have two books from Love Inspired Suspense coming out in April and July, so I’m targeting the sequels for later this year. I’m also working on a totally separate legal suspense, but that project hasn’t been finalized yet.

BTB — What would you like to share about your personal life?

Rachel — I absolutely love animals. I have five special furkids in my life–2 dogs and 3 cats. One of the cats is a tripod. And I love putting animals in my stories. Four of my pets are rescue, and I’m a big advocate of animal rescue. I also am very active on social media and would love to connect to readers on Facebook and Twitter or by email.

Thanks so much, Rachel, for sharing with my readers today. Make sure you check out Rachel and her books HERE

Rachel Dylan writes Christian fiction including inspirational romantic suspense for Love Inspired Suspense and the Windy Ridge Legal Thriller series. Rachel has practiced law for almost a decade and enjoys weaving together legal and suspenseful stories. She is a member of ACFW and RWA. She lives in Michigan with her husband and five furkids–two dogs and three cats. Rachel loves to connect with readers. She is represented by Sarah Younger at Nancy Yost Literary Agency.

Book Review: Beyond The Silence

11 Feb

51BitrCvNyL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_The shadows over this olive grove hide more than just the truth.

Lillian Porter has always wanted to fulfill her mother’s dream of going west, so when she hears about a nanny position in Angels Camp, California, she defies her grandfather and takes a chance on a new future. But she quickly wonders if she made the right choice. Murky rumors swirl around Woodward Colton, her new employer, but the gossip doesn’t match the man Lillian comes to know.

Still, something dark did happen in the family’s past. Lillian’s seven-year-old charge hasn’t spoken in over a year. Gently, Lillian tries to coax him out of his shell, hoping he’ll one day feel safe enough to share what scared him. But the Colton olive farm is no longer a safe place. Lillian encounters suspicious characters on their land and mysterious damage done to the farm. When the housekeeper is brutally attacked, the town once again suspects the worst. Will discovering the truth help Lillian clear the name of the man she has come to love–or will it endanger her even more?

 

PetersonWoodhouse-347Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 novels. Tracie also teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research. She and her family live in Montana.

Kimberley Woodhouse is a multipublished author of fiction and nonfiction. A popular speaker/teacher, she’s shared her theme of Joy Through Trials with over 150,000 people at more than a thousand venues across the country. She lives, writes, and homeschools with her husband of twenty-plus years and their two awesome teens live in Colorado.

 

My Impressions:

Beyond The Silence is an historical romance novel that captures the flavor of Old California in the late 1900s. Additionally the characters are endearing and the faith message is strong. This one is sure to appeal to fans of Peterson and Woodhouse and those who desire faith in God to be at the center of the story.

Lillian Porter is a determined young woman set on following her parents’ dreams as well as her own when she sets out to be a Nanny for a young boy traumatized by the death of his mother. What she finds is a town full of gossips and a father with hurt of his own. Her spirit, tenacity and reliance on God helps to turn the family around. But a murderer is still on the loose, and he will stop at nothing to get what he thinks is his.

The historical setting of Angel’s Camp, California is very interesting with its information on the cultivation of olives for oil and the table. Other historical details — clothing, transportation, medicine, etc. — lend an authentic flavor to Beyond The Silence. The characters are endearing, if just a bit stereotypical. The villain in particular has only one dimension. But I was drawn to the secondary character of Harry. Some labeled him an idiot, others simpleminded. But with sensitivity, the authors created in him a warm, funny and wise addition to the cast. There is a very definite faith message in the narrative. Characters continually pray about their fears, doubts and shortcomings. Gossip is portrayed for what it is — an evil that destroys relationships and reputations. God is seen as the only reliable source of refuge in times of trial.

Beyond The Silence is a quick read and should be just the thing for a reader looking for history and romance.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(Thanks to LitFuse and Bethany House for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

Giveaway!

Tracie and Kimberley are celebrating the launch of Beyond the Silence with a Loaded Fire Prize Pack giveaway (details below) and an author chat party on February 11!

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One grand prize winner will receive:
One copy of Beyond the Silence
A Kindle Fire 7
A $50 Amazon gift card to load your Fire with books

Enter today by clicking HERE. But hurry, the giveaway ends on 2/11. The winner will be announced at the Beyond the Silence Facebook party. RSVP for a chance to connect with Tracie, Kimberley, and other readers, as well as for a chance to win other prizes!

Children’s Corner: Two Board Books

10 Feb

UnknownLittle One, God Loves You, written by Amy Warren Hilliker, illustrated by Polona Lovsin and inspired by the New York Times #1 bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life, is a cute and cuddly board book that let’s children know God made them solely for the purpose of loving them.

To purchase this book click HERE.

 

My Impressions:

It is never too early to tell your child how God has created him or her and has a purpose for their lives and a place in His family. From the first brightly illustrated page to the last, children are reminded of how much God loves them. A simple message with a big impact. Looking for items to fill the Easter basket? Little One, God Loves You would make a great addition.

Recommended.

Audience: children ages 4-6.

 

51bxxPcWHRL._SX356_BO1,204,203,200_Snuggle Time Prayers, written by Glenys Nellist and illustrated by Cee Biscoe, is a perfect bedtime collection of fifteen prayers. This padded cover board book will help children settle down at bedtime and remind them of their blessings as they draw closer to God.

 

To purchase this book, click HERE.

 

My Impressions: 

When my children were little, the time before bed was especially sweet. We snuggled and bonded with a favorite book. Snuggle Time Prayers combines catchy rhymes, cute illustrations and God’s word to emphasize God’s love, provision and direction in all our lives, even the smallest child. I liked that the accompanying scripture for each prayer directs the words — a great lesson that God’s word is the basis for everything. This book is another great choice for family time.

Recommended.

Audience: children ages 2-4.

(Thanks to Zonderkidz for review copies of these books. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday: Valentine’s Freebie!

9 Feb

Thanks to the folks at The Broke And The Bookish for hosting Top Ten Tuesday. This week is a freebie with a Valentine twist. To find out what books, authors and bookish things other bloggers are sending Valentine’s, click HERE.

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I have to admit that romances are not my favorite fiction genre. Give me a page-turning suspense, a puzzling whodunit or a detailed historical any day. But there are a couple of authors that write romance so well, that I will pick up their books without hesitation. So here are my favorite romance novelists.

Top 4 Favorite Romance Writers

Jane Austen

Can anyone write romance as well as Jane? I think not. Her books are classics and not just because of the romances contained in the pages. But if you are looking for swoon-worthy heroes and plucky heroines, you cannot go wrong with any of her books. My all time favorites are Pride And Prejudice, Emma and Persuasion.

 

51CCfDzu2FL._SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_61cfv1Rm7lL._SY291_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_Unknown

Now on to contemporary writers that I think write outstanding romance fiction.

Irene Hannon

Irene writes in both the contemporary romance and romantic suspense categories. She does both very well. I especially liked Hope Harbor, Trapped, and Deceived.

51wix-iuoql-_sx322_bo1204203200_721240721250

Rachel Hauck

Rachel writes contemporary romance that is so much more. Several of her novels are modern-day fairy tales and others involve the realistic struggles involved in relationships. My favorites are The Wedding Dress, The Wedding Chapel and Once Upon A Prince.

fileitem-243887-theweddingdresssmweddingchapel-email-252x384315476_w185

Beth Vogt

Beth Vogt’s romances combine a bit of the light-hearted with the heart-touching. My favorites by her are Somebody Like You, Catch A Falling Star and Wish You Were Here.

737584fallingstar-e1361983877202contentimage-20-16758-wishyouwereheresm

Who are your favorite romance writers?

Book Review: The Memoir of Johnny Devine

8 Feb

6122305_orig

1101088_origGenre: Historical

Publisher: Ashberry Lane Publishing
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Number of pages: 279
Awards/Honors: RT Book Reviews (rare) 5 goldstar Top Pick, a Reviewers’ Choice Award Nominee (of 5), ​and the December 2015 Seal of Excellence winner, which makes it a Book of the Year Nominee (1 of 12 out of thousands reviewed)

​The Memoir of Johnny Devine (RT Book Reviews 4.5 GOLD Star Top Pick): In 1953, desperation forces young war widow Eliza Saunderson to take a job writing the memoir of ex-Hollywood heartthrob Johnny Devine. Rumor has it Johnny can seduce anything in a skirt quicker than he can hail a cab. But now the notorious womanizer claims he’s been born again. Eliza soon finds herself falling for the humble, grace-filled man John has become—a man who shows no sign of returning her feelings. No sign, that is, until she discovers something John never meant for her to see.

​When Eliza’s articles on minority oppression land her on McCarthy’s Communist hit list, John and Eliza become entangled in an investigation that threatens both his book and her future. To clear her name, Eliza must solve a family mystery. Plus, she needs to convince John that real love—not the Hollywood illusion—can forgive a sordid past. Just when the hope of love becomes reality, a troubling discovery confirms Eliza’s worst fears. Like the happy façade many Americans cling to, had it all been empty lies? Is there a love she can truly believe in?

To purchase this book, click HERE.

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4114506_origCamille Eide writes romantic, inspirational dramas about love, faith, and family. She lives in Oregon with her husband and is a mom, grammy, bass guitarist, and a fan of muscle cars, tender romance, oldies Rock, and Peanut M&Ms.
GOODREADS | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | PINTEREST | INSTAGRAM | BLOG | WEBSITE

 

 

 

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5-stars is what I give The Memoir of Johnny Devine! I suppose this book could be termed an historical romance, but it is definitely so much more. With glimpses into the life of old Hollywood, a 1950s setting full of the unease of the McCarthy investigations, a woman living with disappointment and betrayal and an unlikely messenger of hope, Camille Eide has written a thought-provoking and touching novel I can Highly Recommend.

Retired film star Johnny Devine is writing his memoir. Instead of a tell-all from the notorious playboy of Hollywood, John wants to impart a message of hope to his readers. Eliza Saunderson, disillusioned and alone is hired to help whip the manuscript into a coherent whole. The two form an unlikely partnership and perhaps a second chance at a new life.

The Memoir of Johnny Devine has many strengths. The novel has a strong sense of time and place and revealed an America I have paid little attention to. World War II is in the past, but the threat of communism seems all too real. Mistrust, betrayal and fear were very real emotions for those who came under the magnifying glass of the House Un-American Activities Committee. The Hollywood studio system and race relations are also examined. Eide’s characters are also strongly written — no stereotypes here. Eliza is a woman moved by the injustices she sees among women and minorities. John’s former life haunts him despite His relationship with God. Their relationship develops slowly and realistically, and the reader cannot help but hope that their differences can be overcome. Perhaps the strongest element of the novel is its message of hope. God’s grace and forgiveness in the face of extreme shame and guilt is beautifully exemplified in John’s changed life. And that change makes its mark on Eliza. She learns that God’s call to submit never means a surrender to oppression.

An unusual love story filled with God’s grace and mercy, The Memoir of Johnny Devine is perfect for readers looking for a fresh and unique voice.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Singing Librarian Tours for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

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February 8–By The Book
February 9 — Toni Shiloh Prayerfully-Lifted Romance | Anna Weaver Hurtt, Inspirational Author
February 10 — The Power of Words | Mel’s Shelves
February 11 — Katie’s Clean Book Collection
February 12 — Singing Librarian Books | Wishful Endings
February 13 — The Artist Librarian | Red Headed Book Lad

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Children’s Corner: All Things Bright And Beautiful

6 Feb

61BFCT9FHQL._SY497_BO1,204,203,200_All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

First published by Cecil Frances Alexander in 1848, this favorite hymn has become a mainstay of churches and Sunday school classes everywhere. Here artist Katy Hudson brings new joy to the words with her fresh and bright watercolor style. Readers can join in the fun as they follow two little girls and their brother on a day filled with the discovery of all things bright and beautiful. Ages 4-7.

Cecil_F_AlexanderCecil Frances Alexander was born in Dublin, Ireland, the third child and second daughter of Major John Humphreys (of Norfolk, land-agent to 4th Earl of Wicklow and later to the second Marquess of Abercorn), and Elizabeth (née Reed). She began writing verse in her childhood, being strongly influenced by Dr Walter Hook, Dean of Chichester. Her subsequent religious work was strongly influenced by her contacts with the Oxford Movement and in particular with John Keble, who edited one of her anthologies. By the 1840s she was already known as a hymn writer and her compositions were soon included in Church of Ireland hymnbooks. She also contributed lyric poems, narrative poems, and translations of French poetry to Dublin University Magazine under various pseudonyms.

A1Mk3ggVqDL._UX250_Katy Hudson was raised in Middlesbrough, England and started her Illustration career as a small child drawing on freshly emulsioned walls around the house! Her parents quickly dissuaded this medium and encouraged drawing with pencil and paper instead.

The idea stuck (the pencil was updated to an ink pot and pen in some cases) and after some lovely time at Art College and a degree in Illustration Katy is now a freelance Illustrator working at a desk in an old London library.

 

My Impressions:

The classic hymn, All Things Bright And Beautiful, comes to life in the whimsically illustrated picture book of the same name. Featuring the wonders of God’s creation, this book is perfect for family reading time where parents and children can share the seen and often unseen things of the world around us. The words emphasize God’s creative nature and the accompanying detailed and colorful illustrations reinforce the joy of discovery. This one is a highly recommended choice!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: children ages 4-7 and their parents

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Worthy Publishing for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Movie Review + Giveaway: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs

5 Feb

Digital Download ArtI had the very great privilege of receiving a copy of the newly released Blu-Ray and HD DVD edition of Disney’s Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs. A favorite of my children when they were young, watching this classic that started it all brought back great memories. The music, animation, fairy tale story, cute woodland characters and of course Disney’s first princess and the adorable Seven Dwarfs all combine to create a wonderful viewing experience. It’s a story of good and evil where good triumphs. Also included are extras like a view into the original animation process and Walt Disney in his own words. So grab your kids and grandkids, make some popcorn and settle in for Disney magic!

To purchase the DVD, click HERE.

(Thanks to Allied Faith And Family for a copy of this movie. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Giveaway!

Allied Faith And Family has made a digital download of Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs available to one of my readers. Tell me which Disney princess is your favorite and you will be entered to win! This giveaway runs through February 12, 2016

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