Far Side Of The Sea Review

Kate Breslin never disappoints, and every book is better than the last. Far Side of The Sea was the kind of book that keeps you up at night! I took in on my silver wedding anniversary trip and hated to put it down. Every chance I got…I snuck in a bit of Colin and Johanna’s story. There was mystery, drama, spies, well-researched history and travel to far away places. Far Side of The Sea was a great escape, and also an inspiring story featuring a character in Mrs. Breslin’s previous novel, Not By Sight. I loved having a re-visit and taste of the happily ever after for the characters in that book PLUS the happily every after in Far Side Of The Sea. What a bonus. Colin and Johanna get tangled up in quite a drama that spans a european continent and involves espionage, danger, terrible wounds, and the plot twists…well, you’re in for a wild ride. I really didn’t want the story to end, it was that good. When you read a book and hate to part with the characters and scenery, you know it was well-written. Kate Breslin is an immaculate researcher and writer. Over the past few years she has risen in rank to my favorite author. This book seals the deal!

 

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Book Description:

In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life–a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield. 

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel’s half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them. 

When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives.

My Son’s Lovey

My beautiful son has a raggedy old froggie. It’s his lovey. One of those corner blanket type things with a stuffed animal head. I bought it for him when he was an infant. He was a brand new foster baby. I knew he was my son immediately. Even though I was told he was with us for a weekend (standard line), and that I shouldn’t get attached. Well, how else do you mother an infant?! Dumb. Of course I got attached.

Anyway, I bought this thing and he loved it. A few months later I decided to be smart and buy a back up. It’s still in good shape. My son doesn’t touch it. The first one though, after nearly 9 years of constant love has gotten bedraggled.

My friends and family know I can’t sew. My son knows this, but he was getting more and more desperate this past year. Froggie is coming apart! My son has begged me to try to fix him before he comes undone altogether. I kept thinking I’d ask a friend but who wants to take on a smelly old rag that’s only dear to my little boy?

So last night I agreed to tackle the mission. Froggie, after all, was in dire straits.

My husband had become desperate enough to buy needles and thread for himself to sew up a pair of pants. Because even he knows I do not sew. All of a sudden I had thread and needles around.

Well my son and I played out that Froggie came in for surgery. He was given the whole treatment. Anesthesia and all.

I did it. He looks like crap. But here’s the thing…

My son doesn’t care that Froggie looks likes Frankenstein’s monster. His memory will be that his mother loved him enough to sit and spend over and hour carefully stitching up his dearest possession. He will look on those pathetic stitches one day and realize with a smile that I loved him and cared enough to perform a surgery scenario on his Froggie.

My husband was appalled at my handiwork, but I smiled, because I know my son approves with his whole heart.

He was never going to accept the back up Froggie. It always had to be the original, no matter what.

And maybe that symbolizes he and I and his biological mother. She was first, but I am the one who sewed up his lovie and led him to Jesus who can sew up his heart.

My son is adopted. He may have legally been a foster child, but he never was to us. He was our own baby from day 1.

 

Now, in other news, since I have been MIA for some time on this blog, I have been studying, writing, editing, until my brains want to fall out. I’m weary double time with the constant snow we have had this year. So I have taken a bit of time to just read for enjoyment again. My latest favorite author had a book release on her news and best yet, in my opinion, Far Side Of The Sea. Kate Breslin has done a brilliant work of historical fiction here. Her novels don’t disappoint, and this one has been the best. It’s already on audible. You can find it everywhere though.

Meanwhile, with all of the snow, eye specialist appointments and dental appointments, I have missed Bible Study Fellowship a few times this winter. That just gave me the chance to learn to download my homework on my iPad pro and use the pencil and Notability app to do it a new and fun way.

 

Lastly, I have an author website, newsletter, and I’m in the final edits for Rooted & Blooming, Flourishing In Desert Seasons. A devotional I’ve been writing along with my novels. I’ll be releasing this book this month! Sign up for my newsletter to get updates!

Final Edits

I’ve been very busy writing all winter, as well as learning about Indie publishing. My head is swimming, but I’m having a good time and meeting great creatives.

I’m in the final edits of my first devotional book, and rewrites of my novel. I also have a second devotional as well as a Bible Study and and two more novels in the works.

If you feel inclined, please pray for me. I’m hoping to retain all the information I’m learning, as well as be a blessing to readers.  🙂

 

IMG_9067Copy of Devotions For Women

Writing: My Why.

I have loved reading for as long as I can remember. I learned to read, in fact, before kindergarten. It seems I was meant for words. I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember too. I got busy with my family though, and only dabbled in writing.

Two years ago when I decided my life was off the crazy train enough to write seriously, meaning more than blogging and the occasional magazine piece, I sat down to pray about it and figure out why I wanted to write so badly, and what I wanted to write.

I didn’t know it then, but the crazy train was not even close to slowing down. In fact, I was in for some hair raising loops. I persevered though, and wrote two novels while studying writing craft like a crazy person. I have since realized I have more to learn than I ever dreamed, and writing well is infinitely more difficult than I could have imagined two years ago. Still, I sorted out my why because I knew I’d need it. I have. It’s discouraging to feel so inadequate.

When I began homeschooling nineteen years ago, I knew I would need good enough reasons to carry us through to the end. I didn’t know much, but I knew it would be hard. It was. Is. But I know why I’m doing it, and of course wrote my reasons and goals down all those years ago to remind myself when I felt like quitting. I knew I would, and I have. It’s a wearying job.

 

I believe writing well is a gift, a discipline, and a service. It’s a way to love others. It’s a chance to give. My tagline is “Aspiring to Inspire” because that’s my why. I love to write, so I gain personal pleasure in sorting my soul and baring it on paper or a screen, but I also love to encourage others. I want to learn to write well-crafted stories to not only entertain, but also to inspire. I want to write clean words, because this world is dirty enough, and who among us doesn’t want to escape it? I know I do, and I can, when I’m in my story world with my characters.

 

My personality is such that I draw comfort and resources from solitude. That doesn’t really include animals, and I have surrounded myself with an array of pets. In short, it suits me to be home writing. Writing is a solitary endeavor, and that’s just fine with me.

But thank goodness for dogs at my feet, horses to ride, and sheep and goats. I wouldn’t mind a camel, but that’s another story, and another goal.

I don’t know if you’ve read my post on my word for the year. It’s flourish, and this is just part of the definition of flourish in one of the verses pertaining to my word found in the Bible. It’s relevant to my writing and that thrilled me. I hadn’t expected there would be such a meaningful connection when the word came to me.

Two years after I picked up my first book on writing, sold 3/4 of my livestock to make time for writing, and countless hours with my butt in a chair, hours spent reading, studying, listening, attending conferences and joining the Novel Academy, I have written 3 books and have a fourth started. To say I have been productive would be an understatement, but as to whether or not my writing has improved has yet to be seen.

I’ll keep working on it, enjoying myself all the while. But when the time comes I think it too hard, or rejections sting my insecure heart, I’ll have my why to remind me to endure.

Bring on 2019!

I’ve prayed and thought and received my word for 2019 and a Bible section to hold on to as well.

I have looked up all the key words and recorded them in the English and Hebrew and looked up word etymologies. Ya, I’m like that.

I have a word board, a Why, and What board. I’m feeling enthused.

Now I feel like I’ve got my focus, I can get busy planning and making goals.

I like to make personal goals, relationship, spiritual, writing, and home goals.

I make goals for things like management of our ranch, learning writing craft, how many writing conferences I attend, writing projects, Bible reading, and so on.

What about you? Care to share?

Christmas Goodies

Do you feel like you have to do the traditions and pass them on the the next generation? I do and I love it. Christmas movies, music, candy, cookies and of course the holiday meal. All the things!

But I’m getting pretty fat and my joints hurt when I eat this stuff. So…

They can have the goodies and this is the path I’m going down…ha ha!

My Morning…

This morning I woke up early, as usual. But what is unusual is I gave myself permission to go back to bed. At 5 am I got up and made my usual mocha cappuccino and then grabbed two books I’m reading and settled back into comfort and coziness. I had forgotten how good that is for the soul.

When my farm kid (youngest son) woke up we went outside and met a glorious and sunny day. We did our chores and headed back I. For breakfast and more coffee for me. Yesterday was a BOGO at Starbucks and yes, I am that person. I brought the extra one home and put it in the fridge or the next morning. It’s worked out well. 🙂It might seem like clutter to you but my coffee table holds nourishment for me! All those books…

Farm kid and I decided on a cozy, long morning inside and then later we will head outside in the sunshine to the barn. The ladies all need Bo-SE shots and Ivermectin. A couple goats are in heat and although I don’t have a buck this year, they still think they should get married and have babies.

The ewes are in with the ram to be bred for lambs hopefully after they are sheared this year. Trying something new. We will see how that works out.All of these pictures are from this morning.A big part of my day is going to be spent wallowing in the soul care of this little gem. Have you heard of this book? No, well you need it if your’e creative in any way.

I’m holding down the couch this morning but the dogs are on patrol. Have a great day and I hope you have the chance to do some things that are restful as well as labors that are useful.

ACFW Contest Vs. Personality Quizz

2018 has been rotten overall. I can give a long list of reasons; totally valid reasons I might add. You would read it and maybe feel as sorry for me as I’ve felt for myself. Well, maybe not quite.

Any who…

Have you taken any of those personality tests? I’ve taken probably half a dozen or more. Now, sometimes they are encouraging, right? They showcase your strengths, and even though they also highlight some weakness in your character or habits, they mainly seem to focus on positives. At the least they help you identify your strengths.

My family likes to do these. I suppose it’s good to take the tests together and discuss them,  and compare them. They help us discover things about ourselves and each other. They are helpful in marriages to understand one another better.

However, I took one that my husband and oldest son rave about as most accurate, and I came off badly. For one thing, it seemed to have too few questions to be very accurate. For another thing, the results are so arbitrary to be dependent on your blood sugar levels, hormones, or mood that day. That’s my opinion anyway. It also said I was pretty opinionated. Whatever.

I scored 100% on creativity and imagination and like a 5% on self discipline. So, apparently I’m like some flighty, artsy type who floats through life never really accomplishing anything? Well, that hurt. I evaluated my life for hours after that. I couldn’t sleep.

I got a low score on empathy for others…what?! Really? As well as some extremes on other areas like a very high score on assertiveness. Now, some things are probably close to the truth, but others I have serious doubts about.

I took the test with my oldest son and his wife, and held up pretty well in spite of my rising discouragement while they were here. But after they left, I kind of fell apart. By fell apart, I mean like cried for about 3 or 4 hours. That’s not like me at all. Perhaps it has something to do with the no good, rotten year I’ve had so far. It all folded in on me and I had a major pity party. Maybe I was mourning for the person I want to be but am not yet. Maybe I’m drained and over emotional. Could be a combination of it all. Maybe I’ll just go take the enneagram test again. sigh. I don’t know about you, but I get sick of navel gazing. Everywhere I go, there I am. I get sick of myself. There are far more interesting things to think about and examine in the world. I suppose some introspection is healthy, though.

The interesting thing is, the same day I also got the judge’s critiques back from the First Impressions contest that ACFW holds every year. I didn’t expect to do well, and I wasn’t upset by the criticism at all. I had entered the contest with the goal of receiving the feedback. I want to know where to focus my studying of fiction writing craft. If you have never heard of this contest, and you are a christian fiction writer, it’s a gem. By the way, thank you judges! Your time is appreciated.

First Impressions is an amazing opportunity for unpublished writers. It’s only $15 for professional judging and 3 critiques on the first 5 pages and blurb of your manuscript. Pure gold!

I had been so cut down by that personality test and yet I read the critiques on my writing with relish. I know it sounds weird, but I’m being honest. I knew going in I hadn’t put forth my best work. I had started with the wrong scene for my genre. I knew that, but had been so focused on getting words down for two books that I didn’t spend much time  polishing those 5 pages before entering the contest. Besides that I could not format the way they wanted to save my life. I spend days and days on that and still ended up needing someone to do it for me. I really wanted to know my weakest points, and I got my desire. It didn’t sting though. The feedback gave me places to go, rather than spreading my time so thin by trying to cover everything at once. I have only been writing fiction for a year, and studying how to do it for a couple months longer than that. You can imagine I have years to go before I get proficient at this writing thing.

Now, why were the results of the contest a blessing to me, and the results of the personality test a curse? For one thing, I still don’t think that particular personality test very accurate, for another it seemed like a personal attack. The judges scores and comments on my manuscript were valuable to me because I want to improve as a writer, and I give myself grace and time to learn. The personality scores lacked grace and maybe even truth, so I found them discouraging.

My takeaway is that maybe when I am passionate about learning something I can take the hits and keep going, but when I merely feel criticized without suggestions of self-improvement I am discouraged. Wouldn’t you be? Maybe I’m wrong. Being self-aware is great. Helpful even. I highly recommend it. But if the feedback in your life merely makes you feel shame, toss it and move along.

I’m going to do something the next two days very well. I’m going to cook Thanksgiving dinner for my beloved family. I excel at Holiday dinners. My gravy would bring a tear to your eye. Then I’m going to watch the Hallmark channel all weekend, and Monday I’ll get back to work on grammar, story structure, plotting and characterization. I’ll busy myself with Novel Academy lessons, and I’ll keep writing every morning. In-between barn chores, laundry, and grocery shopping.

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Since supposedly I have little to no self-control, I’ll make sure to hit Starbucks for my decaf Cordusio and stock my writing desk full of chocolate. Eat that, personality test.

I hope you’re having a better year than I am, and let’s all hope that 2019 is brilliant.

 

I Am Writing, Hashtag

I’ve been busy with writing and life, making soap and dealing with one health issue after another. I won’t go down my list with the fascinating facts, but I could use some prayer.

I’ve been working on 3 books this year and two are in the almost finished phase of their first drafts.

I’m a member if ACFW and usually pretty good about meeting my word goals each month on the Novel Track loop. This month we shall see… I’ve had some kind of appointment or other most days.

Have you ever seen

papaya Art bags? Well, I’m addicted. I found this bag that believe it or not, matches the cover in one of my books. Say what?! Yes, I know. I’m getting this baby from Sage & Rose Boutique. The owner is a neighbor of mine and a veteran. Have you ever been to a mobile boutique? Hers was my first and I’ll just say it’s fun!

If you’re in my area, ask me how to get in contact with the boutique for yourself and friends or google it.

Next week I’ll cook Thanksgiving dinner for my family, then I’ll get busy with Christmas preparations.

Christmas with the little people is always exciting. It’s almost time to put together my annual cocoa bar. The kids love that.

My heart belongs to this sweet girl who makes my day several days a week. I can’t wait until she snuggles up by the fire with a fancy cocoa and writes her letter to Santa.

These are good days. I hope yours are good too.

Fall Y’all

I don’t know about you but this fall has been busy for me. The animals are fat and glossy, ready for breeding season. Apples are peeled and in the freezer for pies. The sheep have full fleeces again, and school pictures have been delivered.

There have been two weddings to celebrate. Soap has been made, cured and orders in.

We have had a few upsets in the family. Just life.

My back freaked out and I was in terrible pain for a month- it still hurts, but I’m functional again- just in time for the Olympic Peninsula Christian Writers conference where I met and learned from Kate Breslin, in particular. She’s one of my favorite writers.

All in all, I’m not sad about winter coming because settling down by the fire with books, coffee, and my laptop is sounding pretty good. Oh ya, let’s not forget Netflix.

I’m writing quite a bit, two projects that I switch between. One contemporary Romance and one devotional. I’m also teaching story writing to a class of homeschooled kids.

 

what are you up to?