SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Author Lucie Ulrich’s “Finding Hope”

Hello, all! Here is another Clean Reads author, Lucie Ulrich, sharing about her latest release and offering a GIVEAWAY!!! (Giveaway details are below.) The book on spotlight today is Book 2 in The Cooper Family Series. So, let me step out of the way and let you check out the book!

Finding Hope

Nearly sixteen years after relinquishing the rights to his unborn child, Noah Cooper is stunned to discover his daughter, Hope, wants to meet him. With the love and support of his family, Noah sets off from Elk Flats, Montana to Albany, New York, having no idea what changes are in store for him.

Cancer survivor and widow, Beth Peterson, is more than a little nervous to meet her daughter’s birth father. Their initial meeting goes well, but things decline in a hurry when Noah invites Hope to spend time at the ranch without speaking to Beth about it first.

Determined to meet her new family, a battle of wills ensues between Hope and her mother. While Hope longs for a connection, Beth fears losing her daughter to virtual strangers—strangers who live two thousand miles away.

Struggles and misunderstandings abound between Noah and Beth, despite their growing attraction for one another. Noah is ready to commit, while Beth can’t let go of the memory of her husband and the imperfections cancer has forced her to live with.

Will hope, patience, and prayer be enough to pull this family together?

Enjoy an Excerpt

Over dinner Hope chatted on about school, her dreams to become a veterinarian, and the school play she was taking part in. “I have a really good part. Do you think you could come back to see me, Noah?”

“As much as I’d like to, I’m not sure I could get away so soon.”

“Honey, that’s a lot to ask. The play is only a month away, and Noah doesn’t exactly live across town.”

“Sure.” Hope swirled the mashed potatoes on her plate with her fork. “I understand.”

The downward bent of Hope’s mouth tore at Noah’s insides. He’d barely made contact and was already letting her down. He swallowed his final bite of meat. “Maybe you could spend some time at the ranch over the summer.”

Hope’s frown quickly turned to a face-splitting grin. “That would be amazing. I can’t wait to tell Jenny.”

Fire practically shot from Beth’s eyes, and Noah knew he’d put his foot in it big time.

****

Beth asked Hope to clear the table and clean the kitchen. “I’m going to show Noah the garden. We’ll have dessert when we come back.”

“Sure, Mom.”

“The garden’s this way.” Beth walked past Noah toward the sliding glass door. She opened it with more force than necessary, causing the door to slam into its metal casing. Cringing at the racket, she was less forceful with the screen.

Noah followed her onto the deck. “Look, I know I spoke—”

“Not here.” She descended the stairs at a brisk pace and walked across the yard until she reached the gazebo. The walk and cool air did nothing to calm her nerves. Spinning around, she faced him. “You had no right to extend an invitation like that without speaking to me first.”

“I know, and I’m sorry. The words just came out before I had a chance to think about what I was saying.”

“Yeah, well, sorry isn’t going to help when I have to tell Hope she won’t be going. I opened my home to you so that you could meet your daughter, not for you to whisk her away at the first opportunity.”

He held up his hands. “Whisk her away? No, you’ve got it all wrong. I expect you to come with her. Hope has other family, which means you do, too. I think she’d enjoy a couple of weeks of ranch life, and you’re both going to love my family.”

“You assume a lot for someone who’s barely known me for twenty-four hours and my daughter half that amount of time. And, yes, I did say my daughter. You may have fathered her, but I raised her.”

“That’s a low blow, Beth.” Noah’s easy smile vanished. He leaned against the railing and crossed his arms over his chest. The mixture of hurt and anger in his eyes pained her. She knew she was overreacting but couldn’t help herself. He was moving too fast. Surely he realized that. “I think it might be best if you don’t stay for dessert. I’ll explain to Hope.”

“I’ll be the first to admit that my enthusiasm may have gotten the better of me.” He uncrossed his arms and pointed to her. “But you’re the one who invited me into Hope’s life. You asked if I was in for the long-haul, so I assumed you understood I’d want to bring Hope to Montana from time to time.”

“It’s too early for this to be about what you want.”

Buy Links

Amazon: http://amazon.com/dp/B071D8LFX6

BN: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/finding-hope-lucie-ulrich/1126230185?ean=2940157307264

KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/finding-hope-26

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/finding-hope/id1225485559?mt=11

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/718348

In case you missed the first book, The Rose Ring

With a will that reads like a piece of fiction, the return of his long-lost brother, and the possibility of losing the family ranch, Micah Cooper calls on high school friend, Sky Baxter, to bail him out of a bad situation.

Though her brain tells her no, Sky’s heart says yes. She accepts Micah’s in-name-only proposal, knowing it’s unlikely anything permanent will come of it. She’s been in love with him since the ninth grade, and if he hasn’t figured it out by now, there’s little chance he ever will.

When an unexpected kiss ignites a spark, giving Micah hope for a possible future with Sky, a tragic accident threatens to take it all away. Torn between following his heart, doing the right thing, and forgiving the past, Micah is lost in a whirlwind of pain and emotions. Will he make it through the next two years, or will a long-kept family secret be the undoing of all of the Cooper Family?

Find it on Amazon or other online retailers

About the Author

Lucie Ulrich is an award-winning author of inspirational fiction. Her books are filled with stories of faith, family and forgiveness. She was honored to receive a RONE Award for her second novel, “The Rose Ring.”

A former performing arts director, Lucie now enjoys going on photo shoots with her husband, and taking long (or short) road trips. She continues to find inspiration as she and her husband explore the four corners of the United States.

Connect with Lucie and her books

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/inspywriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucieUlrich

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lucie-Ulrich/e/B00K6NC2H0/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1491669701&sr=8-2-ent

Website: http://lucieulrich.com/

GIVEAWAY!!!

Lucie Ulrich is offering an e-copy of “The Rose Ring” and “Finding Hope” to a single winner. The winner will be selected at random from those who comment on this post. Entries (comments) for the contest will be accepted for the giveaway until November 2, 2017 at 11:59 pm (CST). Please feel free to share your thoughts on the post or answer this question:

If a secret from your past showed up in the present would you embrace it or run from it?

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Kinsey Corwin

Hello! Here I am with author Kinsey Corwin. I met Kinsey through my publishing company Clean Reads and invited her on to talk about her new release, What if We Break. This Holiday themed short novel seems to be just what the season ordered. I, myself, am eager to learn more about it. Kinsey has also offered a Kindle e-copy of the book as a giveaway (see below for details on how to enter). So, without further ado, let’s check in with Kinsey.

Welcome to my blog, Kinsey. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

What if We Break is the story of an estranged married couple. Dakota and Kreed Bryant have faced some tragedies that drove them apart. When two of their closest friends get married, they have to face each other and the things that drove them apart.

Oohh…interesting. Sounds like a good set up.

Did you always want to be a writer?

No. I wrote on and off in my teens. But didn’t realize I wanted to write until after my children were born.

So similar to my story…I totally get it. What did you want to be when you were a child?

When I was younger, I really wanted to be a marine biologist or an artist like Robert Wyland. His art fascinated and inspired me.

True story…my degree is in biology. And I worked in a zoo for 15 years, teaching, while I continued to write. I have a real passion for wildlife and wild places, but the lure of the muse kept pulling me.

Now, I know we all enjoy many things about the process (or else we wouldn’t be writing, right?), but there are things we don’t necessarily like. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Plotting. I’m such a fly by the seat of my pants kind of writer, but it sometimes causes serious plot issues. So I’m trying to learn to be a little better about plotting, which has been really hard.

By nature, I am a “pantser” too, but I have become a “plantser” as I call it. I plot out/develop my characters and their arcs before I start writing. Then I pants everything else. It seems to help.

I am forever gleaning what I can from other writers. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Devour the authors you love, in your genre out of your genre. If you love them, read them. There is much to be learned from the authors we turn to when we want to escape for a little bit. The books you read and aren’t fond of…learn from them as well. What didn’t you like? What worked? What would you do differently? Take classes and workshops. Delve into some craft books, keep them handy for reference when you are struggling. Surround yourself with a good support system. And remember that even struggles will get you closer to achieving your publishing dreams. As they say…Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your novel and writing career won’t be either.

Good advice! I like it! Speaking of which…what are you currently reading?

Right now I’m really enjoying the Hawk Elite series by Beth Rhodes. I’m on the second book, Strike Fear, and anxiously looking forward to more.

To get in my writing head space, I often have to “set the mood”. That includes music for me. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

Music in my house is almost always on country, even when I’m writing. When the muse demands something else, it is usually along the lines of The Chainsmokers, Twenty One Pilots, Fall Out Boy, Panic at the Disco, or P!nk. And if I’m really in a music pickle, I rely on my niece to provide me with a list of go to tunes that they are listening to.

What else helps you set the mood? Do you have a favorite time of day to write?

I love to write in the morning. It seems to be when I have the least distractions. Sadly, I don’t get the opportunity to do so often because I still work a day job.

What about a favorite place?

I love to write from my couch or at a local coffee joint (such a typical author response it seems). When I am visiting my parents, I love to sit in their backyard and write.

I have a really nice set up at home, too, but I seem to think better at the local coffee shop too.

Something that always intrigues non-writers is the creative process and how long it takes. So for you, how long does it take to write a book?

Writing my books tend to take anywhere from a month to a year depending on the genre and how detailed the book is.

Do you have any current projects your working on? Care to share?

Yes. I am currently working on the second book in the Serendipity series. It follows Justice Morgan, who readers are introduced to in What if We Break. She hasn’t had the easiest life and really feels like she is unlucky when it comes to the opposite sex.

Thanks for sharing. And thanks for being on my blog today! I am excited to share more about Kinsey’s book, so I will go ahead and step out of the way (proverbially), and give you a chance to check it out!

 

What if We Break

Sometimes the holidays can be complicated…

Dakota Bryant has had more than her share of heartache, especially around the holidays. With her best friend’s wedding quickly approaching and her estranged husband in the wedding party, she’s not likely to catch a break. Hopefully she can survive the Christmas week with her heart and sanity still intact.

War and loss left Kreed Bryant a shell of the man he once was. Returning home for the holidays to play his role as best man to his closest friend is simple. Facing his biggest challenge… setting things right with the one woman he vowed to move Heaven and Earth for is a lot more complicated.

To find their way back to the love they once had, they will have to be honest about who they are and learn that every journey to happiness is not easy or without heartache.

Enjoy an Excerpt

This is an encounter between Kreed and Dakota towards the beginning of the story. One of the reasons I love this so much is because for me, it gives a very small glimpse into the push and pull that exists between these two.

Kreed tapped Chase on the shoulder. “Mind if I cut in?”

“Sorry, this little lady is spoken for.” Chase wrapped her in a bear hug. “And I don’t think her husband would appreciate it.”

Dakota laughed and wrestled her way out of Chase’s grasp. She looked at him, her eyes wary. “You can cut in. But I have a condition. Don’t spoil it. No talking.”

Thankful for the small reprieve in her desire to run from him, Kreed pretended to zip his lips as he pulled her into his arms. A Christmas tree was nestled in the corner next to the jukebox and multi-colored strands of lights were strung overhead. He remembered the bar looking almost the same the night he told her they would be relocating to a base outside of the only home she’d ever known. He ended up losing so much more than he’d ever imagined while serving his country. The music pumped through the speakers playing a song he was quite familiar with. The lyrics talked about sitting in darkness with a broken heart and every word rang through to his core. Fitting that it was the song he and Dakota would dance to. He pulled her closer as they moved to the music. Her body pressed against his as they let the music take them away.

“Careful, we might pick up right where we left off,” he murmured against her ear as he slid his arms around her waist.

“Shhh…you agreed no talking.”

“I know.” He sighed. “But this…we were always good at being in the moment. We used to be good at a lot of things.”

He spun her out of his arms then drew her back in.

“I know.” She laid her head against his shoulder.

Kreed laughed. “One day at a time.”

“Things didn’t work out so well for us last time. Too much unsaid between us. And what we did say…”

Cut deep. Not one of his finer moments.

She let out a slow shaky breath. “I’m sorry. I can’t do this tonight.”

Dakota slid out from his arms, hurried to the bar, gathered her purse and was gone before he could fight his way through the crowd.

Buy Link

Amazon: http://a.co/e1ojXGe

More about the Author

Author. Hopeless romantic. Overall mess.

That sums Kinsey Corwin up in a nutshell. But, if you would like a little bit more info on her, she was born in San Antonio, lived in the Southwest most of her life with a brief stint in Panama and California during her childhood. The majority of that time has been among the glitz and glam of Neon Lights known as Las Vegas, until recently when she relocated to a small college town in Southern Utah.

She loves baseball, has an obsession with the Boston Red Sox although she’s never been to the East Coast, and she had a real ugly cry going when Big Papi retired.

Connect with Kinsey and her books

Website: http://kinseycorwin.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/corwinwrites/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/kinseycorwin

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kinsey-corwin

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/corwinwrites/

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kinsey-Corwin/e/B01FNE9DMI

Newsletter: http://kinseycorwin.us16.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=7b4f60d4a927342562db64929&id=cb4773c4ee

Giveaway

Okay, giveaway time. Kinsey has generously offered a Kindle e-copy of What if We Break to one person, randomly drawn from the individuals who comment on the post. Entries will be collected through Thursday, October 26, 2017 at 11:59 pm (CST). You may comment on the interview or answer this question:

What is your favorite author?

THE OVERCOMER IN ME: Depression – My Story – Part 2

So, where was I? Oh yes, the Behavioral Health Hospital. (PART 1)

There are many depictions of these kinds of institutions on television and in movies. But NOTHING had prepared me for what was actually in store for me. Imagine that you are stripped of everything: the bag you packed, your cell phone (actually any connection you have to the outside world), anything on your person the staff may deem as being a threat to you (belts, strings, wires (ladies, you know what I’m talking about)).

So, you don’t have anything but the clothes (at least some of them) on your back and you are ushered to a room that has everything bolted down and a bathroom with a curtain for a door. Oh, and a roommate who may or may not understand what you are going through. That first night I cried myself to sleep.

But God met with me in that place.

He said, “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

And I knew…I knew that He was with me and had been with me. That the darkness had so enveloped me that I just couldn’t see Him. But He was there, enduring every moment with me.

It was not that I found Him when I was “ready”… He met me at the point of my greatest need

Thus began my journey of recovery, my journey out of depression.

It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t quick. But I wasn’t alone.

And I learned many lessons.

I learned to walk by faith, not by sight. To trust that He would light that next step even if it wasn’t lit when I took this step.

I learned that in those wilderness and desert places, He would help me dig a well and fill it with Living Water.

I learned how important it was to take my thoughts captive, to drag those intrusive thoughts into the light where they lost their power over me.

I learned that sometimes medication and counseling are necessary parts of God’s work.

And so much more.

I also discovered in the years that have followed that the well He helped me dig is available for those that walk those desert places. That I have that Living Water available to bring even a little refreshment to others who are struggling in those places.

Gladly.

 

SPOTLIGHT & INTERVIEW: Author Tamar Sloan

Good day, friends, fellow writers, and readers! It’s time to peek in on another author. This week we are talking with author Tamar Sloan about her new release, Make It Count. So, let’s not have me ramble anymore and get right to it!

Welcome to my blog, Tamar! First, and you tell us a little about your novel.

Make it Count is a young adult contemporary romance, admittedly fueled by a touch of the impossible. It tells the story of impulsive, fun-loving Casey and the ability she was born with – if she touches another person she sees the number of days they have left to live. Casey fakes a phobia to avoid touch, and she convinces herself she’s happy in her isolated, safe little bubble. Until irresistible, motorcycle riding PJ comes along. The chemistry is hot, the sparks fly. And Casey is about to learn how to live a life that counts.

Interesting. I love a good twist in a novel like this character’s unique ability. I am always intrigued by other writers and where their ideas come from. What was the inspiration for Make it Count?

Make it Count, a young adult contemporary romance, is one of those books that comes to you at 4am and you just know it’s going to be a special story. It started with the seed – what if with one touch, a girl could see how many days a person has to live? Apart from all the heart-wrenching considerations like touching your loved ones, I knew she’s avoid touch at whatever cost. But then PJ arrived, and he was hot, and irresistible. I had to capture their chemistry, and their story.

I’m convinced that the best ideas come in the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately, so do some of the worst ideas (when you’re sleep deprived) 🙂

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Interestingly, I never considered I’d be a writer. As a child I loved to read (I devoured romance novels from the moment I discovered them), but it NEVER occurred to me that I could write one myself. My first book came to me in a dream (so cliché, right?). But it was an idea that wouldn’t go away, which meant I had to go learn how to write… Several months later, with a healthy dose of muttered curse words, my first book of the Prime Prophecy series, was born.

What a cool story! I think for most people the love of writing is birthed from the love of reading. Books, books, and more books, right? I wish I could hold on to the images in my dreams long enough to capture them on paper. I always ask: do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Never stop growing.

Speaking of reading inspiring our writing…what are you currently reading?

About 20 books at once! I’m one of those nerdy people that love non-fiction just as much as fiction, so right now I’ve got a book going on human curiosity along with another one on chaos theory (I’m so fascinated by it and its intersection with fate – can you predict the future or not?, and its going to be the basis of a romance once day…). Fictionwise, I’ve got The Time Traveller’s Wife setting next to my bedside table (please don’t ask me to spell that authors name…), it’s really (and I mean, really) good!

I have actually read The Time Traveller’s Wife. You’re right, it is good! I try to alternate between fiction and non-fiction, but I can’t boast the same love of non-fiction. I…appreciate it.

I’m always pushing for that one more secret for my readers. Can you tell us something about your new release that is NOT in the blurb.

There are a host of fascinating characters that readers are going to fall in love with. Casey has a best-friend who’s kooky and loves to make up new words and into palmistry and iridology. Casey also one has three brothers. I have a soft spot for her youngest, Harry, he’s mango haired and freckled, and a vital key in Casey understanding how her fear controls her. Then again, her two older brother, Zach and Ethan, will have entire books dedicated to their stories in the Touched by Love series…

Wow. It sounds like you’ve paved the way for a great series. Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

Book 2 of the Touched by Love series is Zach’s story. He has a gift that even his family don’t know about, that’s a little more subtle than Casey’s, but is going to pose a challenge for the girl he has his heart set on. The very same girl who’s been in love with him for a very long time…

Thank you so much, Tamar, for being on my blog today and sharing about your book! And so, readers, without further ado, let’s charge on and get a better look at the book. And, hint, hint, there may be an excerpt below!!!

Make It Count

He’s irresistible…but she’s the one person who knows his days are numbered.

Casey’s touch can reveal the one thing a person would never want to know — the number of days they have left to live.

By the time Casey turns seventeen she’s learnt to withdraw. But the phobia she fakes in order to avoid human contact is sorely tested by hot, persistent, motorcycle riding PJ. For a girl who craves contact, maple eyed PJ is impossible to resist. When the inevitable happens, when hands, bodies and lips collide, Casey sees PJ’s number, one that can only be seen as a cruel twist of fate.

Now she must decide. Will she continue counting the days of her life, or start living a life that counts?

With the memorable writing and humor of writers such as Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun blended with the attitude, chemistry and unexpected plot twists of Katie McGarry’s best sellers, Make it Count is a romance that will leave you swooning and smiling.

Enjoy an Excerpt

A few steps down the path I slip the brownie from my sleeve. There’s no way I can wait to get out of the front yard before I taste this square of temptation. I should be sainted right alongside Ari’s grandson for not wolfing down the whole platter.

There’s a mega-sized tree in the front yard, so I head around it, lean back against its bark watching the brownie’s slow approach to my mouth, savouring the moment. I smell the chocolate, the sugar, the awesomeness. I bite down and my eyes flutter closed. Oh. My. Heaven-loving-tastebuds. Galaxies of spun sugar dissolve in my mouth, symphonies drowned out by the roaring in my ears. My body mirrors what’s happening in my mouth; I’m slowly, deliciously melting into a gooey, thick puddle.

The roaring stops.

“If you like my cooking, you’d love how I make breakfast.”

Everything stops. Every cell goes from puddly and quivery to upright and alert. I know that chocolately voice. I’ll never forget that warm, rich timbre.

I open one eye, then two.

PJ is sitting on his motorbike, helmet on his lap, that grin glinting in the sun. He hangs the helmet on a handlebar, swings a long denim leg over and swaggers towards me. And I mean a hip swaying, shoulder swinging swagger that evokes images of yellow-striped, denim-clad butts.

The moment he’s close enough for me to focus on his eyes the brownie turns to bread in my mouth. It could never compete with the symphonies and stars in those molten maple pools.

“They’re a family recipe.”

My brain clicks out of brownie-PJ heaven and into gear. Hang on a sec. I look over my shoulder at the door, the door that was just closed by a woman the colour of brown sugar. I look back to the very white, hot guy in front of me.

“Family?”

The moment PJ stops I take a step back, out of arm’s length, and out of smell’s reach. His eyes narrow ever so slightly as he notes my movement. He crosses his arm. “Yeah, family.”

I wait, but it seems someone else in this town took the course on stubborn silence. Instead he grins again. Man, I wish he’d stop doing that. Here, in the sun, it’s blinding. “I’m flattered.”

I raise a brow.

PJ shrugs, and somehow the movement seems to bring him a millimetre closer. Moving again would be rude and weirdo-whacky so I stay put, choosing to breathe through my mouth.

“It takes some effort to find out where a guy lives.”

My jaw slackens. Ego much?

“Hmmm.” I step to the side and head to his motorbike. “I’m glad you brought a second helmet.”

PJ turns and follows me, I step around the bike, using it as a barrier.

He places a hand on the leather seat. “You wanted to come for a ride?”

Eyes wide with mock shock connect with molten maple. “Don’t you need it for your ego?”

Instead of looking insulted, PJ grins. A wide, teeth-glinting, eye-wrinkling grin. “I think I might; it just got one heck of a hit.”

I cross my arms, glad I can do it safely this time thanks to my Personal Protective Equipment.

PJ brings one hand up to stroke his chin. “So you’re not here to see me.”

“Difficult to imagine, isn’t it?”

“What else would bring you here?”

Those delicious lips twitch. He knows exactly why I’m here. I’m not much of a blusher, but being here, for a therapy group for a phobia I don’t have, wearing the freaky lengths I have to go to avoid touch seems like a pretty good time to blush.

But I didn’t wear a balaclava, so instead, I own it. “I have ablutophobia.”

PJ’s eyes stray to my lips. “Well, it’s not a fear of brownies.”

I resist the urge to lick their suddenly dry surface. “Or the repeated use of pick-up lines.”

PJ chuckles, and it’s a sound that reminds me of crème brûlée, smooth and moreish. “Maybe it’s a phobia of stepping up to a challenge.”

That has me straightening. Everything in my impulsive but necessarily inhibited personality loves a challenge. PJ quirks a brow, and leans forward, placing both hands on the seat. The position pushes his shoulders forward, focuses my attention on those biceps. Mr. Sexy-Comes-Naturally is waiting for me to pick up the gauntlet.

Sensations and sights sharpen. Those molten maple pools watching me. The heat pressing against my body. Those Adonis lips parting on an inhale. The bead of sweat raking down my spine.

I lean forward, and my eyes widen the moment my next sense registers something. A scent, the kind of scent that has your head tilting reflexively, your mouth opening just a touch to see if it will land on your tongue.

I don’t know what amber smells like, but I think this could be it. Woodsy, spicy…tempting…moreish. It’s the kind of smell that makes you wish you could spend more time breathing in than out. One hand reaches out to the red plastic fender rising from the back of the bike. The moment woven cotton presses into my fingertips, rather than smooth plastic warmed by the sun, I stop. It’s all I need to return me to reality.

I take a step back, having to mentally force my nose to follow. PJ was never meant to get close enough to smell, because exactly what I thought would happen just happened.

He smells as good as he looks, and I don’t need any more temptation to fight.

I take another step back. “You’ve got the wrong girl, PJ.”

PJ exhales, possibly because of the pent-up tension, but probably out of frustration. “It seems we have one thing in common, Casey.”

With another step back I decide it’s safe to ask. “What’s that?”

PJ straightens, his eyes twinkling. “We both love a challenge.”

I start to walk backwards, shaking my head. “The difference is I can pick a lost cause.”

I turn and start creating even more distance between us. I walk away from hot, sexy, available maple, knowing this is what I need to do. Telling PJ, with everything I can, he’s wasting his time.

“See you at mini motos.”

I keep walking. The tenacity is admirable and flattering, but wasted. “I’m not going.” I call over my shoulder.

“Don’t forget to bring your little brother.”

I shake my head, glad PJ can see that and not my smile. Sure, I love to look, I like the flirting, and I’d love to be someone that could go there.

But PJ is the last person I plan on touching.

Buy Links

Purchase Link: https://books2read.com/MakeitCount

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07647LY9W/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1507130281&sr=8-8&keywords=make+it+count

Bares & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/make-it-count-tamar-sloan/1127174208?ean=2940158563928

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/make-it-count/id1292155658?mt=11

About the Author

A school psychologist by day, Tamar channels her passion for books into creating young adult stories about discovering life and love beyond our comfort zones. She is the award-winning author of the Prime Prophecy and Touched by Love Series. Tamar is also the author of PsychWriter: where psychology meets writing, a blog that supports and extends writers.

When not reading, writing or working with teens, Tamar can be found with her ever-patient husband and two beautiful sons enjoying country life on their small acreage in the Australian bush.

Tamar finds it deeply rewarding to share her stories and she loves to hear from her readers and fellow lovers of all things book related.

Connect with Tamar Sloan and Her Books

Websitewww.tamarsloan.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com.au/tamarsloanwriter

Twitter: www.twitter.com/sloantamar

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36284190-make-it-count

 

THE OVERCOMER IN ME: Depression – My Story

Hello, all. I told you my posts would take a different turn. Well, before I get too far into this OVERCOMER thing, I thought I should let you in on my story, my battle with depression.

It begins…like this:

Once upon a time…a miracle happened. The birth of my first child. And she was beautiful and perfect and everything she should have been.

And my thoughts about what I should be as a mother kicked in. I had always thought I would be a cross between Mother Theresa and Martha Stewart. I would be SUPERMOM!

But, as I came to find out…”Expectations are pre-meditated miseries”

I should have been happy! Right? I had this perfect little family. This wonderful life.

But I wasn’t. I was irritable, obsessive, compulsive, and anxious. Yet, I didn’t know what to do with these things. So, I suffered in silence.

Then, came another miracle – my second child. A beautiful baby boy. Just as perfect and wonderful as my daughter.

Still, something wasn’t right. I was sad, empty, and I began to withdraw.

I wondered what was happening to me?

It was actually when I was flipping through channels and stopped briefly on Dr. Phil that I had the lightbulb moment. He was listing the symptoms of depression and I knew. I KNEW.

I talked to my husband and we made an appointment with my OB-GYN. Then came the diagnosis, and with it medication. Eventually, a psychiatrist, and counselor.

I’d love to tell you everything started looking up. I mean, I did all the right things, right?

My symptoms became worse.

My whole world was my bedroom, my bed, and the occasional visit to my psychiatrist or my counselor.

I had intrusive suicidal thoughts. And if you’ve never been depressed, it’s difficult to explain these. If you, too, have been in this dark place, I don’t even need to tell you. They became more and more compulsive until one day I couldn’t overcome them.

It was time to get more help. And so, I landed in a Behavioral Health Hospital.

More story to come… PART 2

GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Author Rachel Magee

Don’t Give Up (Even When It Gets Hard)

by Rachel Magee

I love writing stories. I always have. My favorite part is writing the first draft, when the story comes together and the characters’ journeys arc toward growth. There’s nothing more satisfying or relaxing to me than letting the story that’s in my head flow out onto the paper. Or, you know, the computer screen.

But some days being a writer is just plain hard. There are days when the words don’t flow, when the edits seem endless and the rejections are relentless. Ever been there?

At one point, about a year into my adventure of trying to get published, I hit a particularly low point. All of the time and energy I had poured into my manuscripts seemed to be going nowhere. I felt lost and alone, and I was contemplating giving up. Maybe I just wasn’t cut out to be a writer.

That night I was reading with my son before bedtime. We finished the book and flipped to the jacket where the author had her acknowledgements. Among the people she thanked was her agent.

“What’s an agent?” my son asked.

“Someone who helps you get your book published,” I told him. He thought about it for a second.

“You should call her, Mom. I bet she would help you get your book published, too.”

It was at that moment that I knew I had to keep writing. My son was proud of what I was doing and believed that if I put in the hard work I would succeed. Who can give up with that kind of support behind them?

After I kissed my son goodnight, I went downstairs, flipped open my computer and got back to work.

The one thing I learned that night was that being a writer takes two things: a lot of hard work and a great support system. There is no fast track to the end of a book or short cut to success. Stories are written one – sometimes painful – word at a time. And, while you might spend a lot of time by yourself at a computer, it’s not a solitary profession. You have to find your people who believe in you, who will encourage you along with way. The people who won’t let you give up and will cheer the loudest at every, single success.

Some days being a writer is tough, but keep at it. There is a world out there that needs to read your story in a way that only you can tell it.

That is so true, Rachel! Thank you so much for those words and for being on my blog today! I hope you will tell us a little about your novel.

My debut novel was released last month. Here’s a bit about it.

Lainey Stratton does not fall in love with strangers she meets on vacation. It simply doesn’t make logical sense. So when Lainey meets Carter Thompson on the first day of her Caribbean vacation, she knows it could never amount to anything more than a crush. At the end of the vacation she will return to Dallas and he will return to DC, and that will be the end of it. Well, unless he wants to join her at a friend’s destination wedding, which would be considered vacation too, right?

But when an unexpected tragedy sends Lainey’s logical world spiraling out of control, she realizes her vacation crush might be the only one who can help her pick up the pieces of her shattered life. That is, as long as she can get out of the way of her own happiness. And as long as Carter’s past doesn’t catch up with him before she gets a chance.

I always have to be in the right mood to write. My music is key for me. What about you? What kind of music do you listen to while you write?

I love to listen to music when I write. What I listen to depends on my mood or the mood of what I’m writing, but usually I like modern love songs. Adele, Michael Buble, and Ed Sheeran are among my favorites right now.

Love me some Michael Buble! Okay, one last question… Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Because this is a story about a long distance relationship, there are a lot of different settings. If you’re in the mood to travel, this book is a great getaway!

Thank you again, for coming on the blog today! I am all too eager to hear more about your book. As, I’m sure, are my readers. And Rachel has included a GIVEAWAY! Find details below.

Happily Ever Afters

It’s always a bit of a chance picking up a book by an author you don’t know and haven’t really heard anything about. I do believe this is Rachel Magee’s first book and if it isn’t, it’s MY first book by this author. I was hopeful going in, but unsure. Man, I am SO glad I joined in for this book tour because this book was fantastic. It’s more than just a sweet romance, it’s a journey filled with emotion and growth…     ~ Amazon Reviewer

Buy Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

More About the Author

Rachel wrote her first novel when she was twelve and entered it into a contest for young author/illustrators. Unfortunately, the judges weren’t impressed with her stick figures. So she dropped the dream of becoming a world famous illustrator and stuck to spinning stories. When she’s not busy working on her latest book, she loves to travel with her family and friends. By far, her favorite destination is the beach, which tends to work its way into most of her stories. Between vacations, you can find her at home in The Woodlands, TX with her wonderful husband, their two adventurous kids and a couple of spirited pets, all of whom share Rachel’s love of the ocean. Well, except the cat and dog. They’re both afraid of water.

Connect with Rachel

Website: https://www.rachelmageebooks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rachelmageeauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachell_magee

GIVEAWAY!!

Rachel is offering this beautiful coffee mug and tea. Here’s how it works. Comment on the post below. Share your thoughts with Rachel, ask her questions, let me know what you’d like to see on the blog, whatever. Or answer the question below. Every person who comments will be entered in to a drawing for the set. Entries will be accepted until Thursday evening, October 12, 2017, at 11:59 pm (CST).

Where is your favorite place to vacation?

Fiction Inspired by Life: Depression

Hello, all! I hope you are well and enjoying the changing of the colors in the trees and the weather (in some locales). Today, I wanted to broach the subject of depression in this “Overcomer” series.

I am a three time postpartum depression (PPD) survivor. That’s a pretty significant thing for me. My children are pretty close in age. And, as some of you already know, the recovery from depression can take a long time. So, from about mid-2009 until I would say 2015, I was either in the throes of depression or in recovery. And I would not say that I am completely recovered. I still have bad days here and there, days where I feel as if I’m on the edge of that darkness, where I have to fight to keep myself from drifting back in.

But I wanted to talk a little about my writing. I don’t know any author whose struggles, life, and hurt places don’t at least leak into their work. This is true of me.

The Lady Bornekova

My debut novel was The Lady Bornekova. And, when penning it, I had already had some experience with depression. Maybe I couldn’t help it, maybe it just seemed to fit what was happening to my character, perhaps a little of both…but some of what I went through seeped onto the page.

First, you should know that I am passionate about sharing my story. Why? Are you not a little embarrassed to share? Yes and no. I am not proud of that time in the darkness, of the intrusive thoughts, of my weakness…sharing certainly makes me vulnerable.

But, more important than that, is the fact that many suffer in silence. Many fear they are alone. I want to be the voice that says “you are not”. There is help. And I so badly want to fight the stigma that exists around mental illness in general, PPD specifically.

Karin

Back to “The Lady Bornekova”…the main character, Karin, goes through a devastating experience. This throws her into a state of depression. However, depression wasn’t known by that name (this is in the 1400s – think Medieval Period). In fact, little was known about mood disorders. But I wanted it to be clear that this is what she was experiencing. So, I did my best to be true to history while not sacrificing reader awareness.

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Karin woke each day with no desire to remove herself from the bed. Not even the dawn streaming through the window could brighten her mood. Her heart ached, yes, but it was more. The world no longer held promise; it was a dark place. Everything was bleak, as if the darkness were something physical that could smother her. Many days she wished it would so she would not have to feel the way she did.

She could not find the motivation or the strength to pray. This may have been the worst of it—to have no one to turn to. In the weeks prior, when she had been in such a hopeless situation, she always had prayer. When all else had seemed grim, she found solace in prayer. But there was no light to be found there now–nothing, it seemed, could penetrate this dreariness. And so it continued to envelop her, day after day.

~ Turnquist, Sara R. “The Lady Bornekova” (Clean Reads, 2015)

Could I have written this scene and those that followed without the personal experience of that darkness? I don’t know. Not everything I have written have I personally experienced. Nor has every author who has written about depression experienced it.

But I remember these things well: the lack of motivation/energy, the intense feeling that the outside world was not safe, that there was no point to getting out of bed, and, among other things, that my prayers returned void.

The worst of it…

As is true for Karin, the worst of it may very well have been: Where was my help from above? Had He not promised to be there for me without fail? And here I was in the darkest, most desperate moment, and I could not sense Him, could not find Him…

Why?

It wasn’t until I was in the Behavioral Hospital (you know, after rock bottom), and I had NOTHING but the clothes on my back and furniture, bolted to the floor. That night, I had nothing left but to cry for the pitiful state I found myself in. Then He whispered to me:

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with My victorious right hand

Isaiah 41:10

A process…

It was not that He wasn’t there. It was that my eyes were so blinded by my circumstance, by my own pain, that I couldn’t see Him. He never left me. It wasn’t that I found Him when I was “ready”…He broke through at the point of my greatest need.

I am not here to tell you that this meant I didn’t have a lot of work in front of me. I did. And Karin had a process too. Unfortunately there are no overnight cures. But there is help. There is hope.