Friday, November 14, 2014

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore

Don't you just love this song?

Yeah, I’m still here. The last month and a half has been crazy busy that I’ve slacked off from this blog. Sorry about that. I know you all are just on pins and needles about my life.

Let’s see…early October I went to the Emmaus Walk, which for those who aren’t familiar with it, it is a Christian spiritual retreat. I’ll be honest; I went in there with a sour attitude. The last thing I wanted to do was cry, do group hugs, sing and dance, etc. You get the picture. Well, I ended up doing all that and more. I actually opened up about my personal struggles with anxiety and depression, which is something I never do. I figured that I’d have nothing in common the ladies because they would be the perfect Christians and I am horribly flawed. I ended up finding my soul sisters in Christ. I came out of Emmaus a stronger person. Since then I have been more vocal and have taken risks. When they say it is a life changing experience, they really mean it. I think every believer ought to try it.

I was home for a little bit and then spent a couple weeks with my cousins and aunts. That may sound simple to you, but believe me, it is nothing sort of a miracle. Because of my anxiety and depression, off and on for about ten years I was agoraphobic (had issues with leaving the house). That’s not to say that I don’t still have struggles; I don’t think an agoraphobic is ever really cured. Anyway, I had a lovely time visiting and catching up with loved ones. Meanwhile, our kitchen is being remodeled. It should be complete next week sometime.

Still writing. HIDDEN PLACES (got a fan page for it on FB, though haven’t done much with it) is plugging along. Had to rewrite the ending. Currently working on a Regency Romance, so that has kept me entertained. And I am having two more short stories published next year: one on my beloved Basset Gracie Belle and the other on anxiety attacks. If anyone can write about anxiety attacks, it is yours truly. I am an expert on the subject. Well, at least my experiences can be fodder for my writings. More on those later. 

Oh, and awesome news: “Miracles and Moments ofGrace: Inspiring Stories of Survival,” has gone through its first edition!!! So, please check it out! Thanks all.

Until next time, lovelies. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Femnista Sept / Oct 2014 : Underrated Tales

The newest edition of Femnista is out! Uncover stories, many you may have never heard before. The Painted Veil, Emily of New Moon and North & South, are just to name a few. Check out my article on Miles Franklin's forgotten classic: "My Brilliant Career." Enjoy!!!

To read it, click here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Miracles & Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories of Survival Book Review

Rating: Five Stars

Book Description:
In Miracles & Moments of Grace: Inspiring Stories of Survival, you'll find dozens of stories from ordinary people who have triumphed over extraordinary circumstances. Caught in Hurricane Katrina, attacked by a lion, facing a gunman, trapped in a violent marriage, losing the self to Alzheimer's--in the midst of their trials, these brave people discovered that God provides the grace to persevere in the face of life's greatest challenges. The stories they tell make the heart race, yet they also reveal the sustaining power of deep courage and true faith. Their stories will touch your heart and lift your spirits.

About the Author:

NANCY B. KENNEDY is the author of three previous books in the Miracles & Moments of Grace series: Inspiring Stories from Military Chaplains,Inspiring Stories from Doctors, and Inspiring Stories from Moms. She has written a book of weight loss success stories, as well as two children's books of science activities paired with stories of the Christian faith. Nancy is a member of the Authors Guild and writes articles and personal essays for books, magazines, and newspapers, many of which can be found at her website, She and her husband, John, live in New Jersey with their son, Evan.

My Thoughts:
This is the first book of the “Miracles & Moments of Grace” series that I have read, though I intend to read the others fairly soon. It is quite reminiscent of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series. I was moved to tears by several of the stories and inspired how many of the authors not only survived and then went on to thrive afterwards. All I can say is that God moves in mysterious ways.
I love stories of survival, especially those that show God as our rescuer. I can’t begin to describe how many times He has rescued me. Ironically enough, a short story by yours truly entitled, “A Shot in the Dark,” is featured in this book. I am very proud that my story was included and thank the author for selecting it. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

“The Winter Guest,” by Pam Jenoff

Rating: Five Stars

A stirring novel of first love in a time of war and the unbearable choices that could tear sisters apart, from the celebrated author of The Kommandant's Girl
Life is a constant struggle for the eighteen-year-old Nowak twins as they raise their three younger siblings in rural Poland under the shadow of the Nazi occupation. The constant threat of arrest has made everyone in their village a spy, and turned neighbor against neighbor. Though rugged, independent Helena and pretty, gentle Ruth couldn't be more different, they are staunch allies in protecting their family from the threats the war brings closer to their doorstep with each passing day.
Then Helena discovers an American paratrooper stranded outside their small mountain village, wounded, but alive. Risking the safety of herself and her family, she hides Sam—a Jew—but Helena's concern for the American grows into something much deeper. Defying the perils that render a future together all but impossible, Sam and Helena make plans for the family to flee. But Helena is forced to contend with the jealousy her choices have sparked in Ruth, culminating in a singular act of betrayal that endangers them all—and setting in motion a chain of events that will reverberate across continents and decades.

Author Bio:

Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels, including The Kommandant's Girl, which received widespread acclaim, earned her a nomination for the Quill Awards and became an international bestseller. She previously served as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. State Department in Europe, as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army at the Pentagon and as a practicing attorney at a large firm and in-house. She received her juris doctor from the University of Pennsylvania, her master’s degree in history from Cambridge University and her bachelor’s degree in international affairs from The George Washington University. Pam Jenoff lives with her husband and three children near Philadelphia where, in addition to writing, she teaches law school. Pam would love to skype with your book club or library group!

My Thoughts:
Okay, this is not my first Pam Jenoff book; I’ve read a couple others and liked them pretty well. When I heard this was going to be based in Poland and about a simple Polish, I was psyched (one of my own WIP is based in WWII Poland and is about a Polish family). I had a feeling I was going to like it, but had no clue that I was going to walk away feeling different. Secular books don’t usually have that effect on me. Both Helena and Ruth were appealing characters, though I have to say, the character Helena struck a chord with me. I won’t go into detail, though I will say the ending of “The Winter Guest,” was bittersweet. There was enough sad to be realistic and enough happy to leave me satisfied for the characters.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Big 10

Okay, I saw this on a literary agent’s Facebook status: name 10 books that have stayed with you. Well, here are my 10. Please, share yours with me. Ooh, by the way, I have a tumblr account now: Follow me and I’ll follow you.

Now, here are my 10.

1. "I Capture the Castle," by Dodie Smith

2. "The Diary of a Young Girl," by Anne Frank

3. "Pride and Prejudice," by Jane Austen

4. "Sense and Sensibility," by Jane Austen

5. "To Kill A Mockingbird," by Harper Lee

6. "The Help," by Kathryn Stockett

7. "My Brilliant Career," by Miles Franklin

8. "The Hiding Place," by Corrie ten Boom

9. "In My Hands," by Irena Gut Opdyke

10. "Anne of Green Gables," by L.M. Montgomery

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Reading Habits Q&A

I stole this from another blog, so feel free to steal this from me.

Do you snack while you read? If so, what is your favorite reading snack?
You bet I do! Chocolate, brownies, ice cream, chips… love my junk food. This answer is also applicable to what I eat while I write.

What is your favorite drink while reading?
Water, root beer, peach mango tea and in the cold weather hot chocolate.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
If I see an error, I have to correct it. It’s rude, I know, but seriously, if someone as simple as I am can find mistakes, then they deserve to be pointed out.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
Bookmarks and/or laying the book flat open. What kind of sadist dog-ears a book? That is like literary blasphemy.

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
Well, if it’s good and realistic fiction, I like it. But melodrama stuff with one-dimensional characters grates on my nerves. So, I guess I do prefer non-fiction.

Are you the kind of person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?
Unless I am on the edge of my seat (which rarely happens anymore), I can stop anywhere and pick it up some other time.  

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?
I don’t like throwing period, so no throwing books. But I have thrown away a couple books when I discovered something disturbing about a certain author.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?
Yes, or I ask some else if they know what it means. Sometimes by the way a sentence is arranged you can figure out what the word means.

What are you currently reading?
Ruth Maier’s diary. She was a contemporary of Anne Frank and Mary Berg. She originally lived in Austria and had to flee to Norway when the Nazis’ persecution grew too harsh. Unfortunately, like Anne Frank, the Nazis invaded the new country she lived in and was sent to Auschwitz where she met her fate.

What is the last book you bought?
“The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” by Bernie Su. Oh. My. Gosh. Anyone who loved the video diary series or likes a good contemporary adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice,” will love it. It’s hilarious and possibly the only modern version that captures the essence of the original classic.

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
I juggle two or three at a time. Usually a couple non-fictions and a novel.

Do you have a favorite time/place to read?
I can usually be found on the living room couch, the front porch or in my bed reading. Basically, any place I can see where I can sit and stick my nose in the book.

Do you prefer series books or stand-alones?
Generally I prefer stand-alone novels that leave a long-lasting impression. Too often sequels depreciate their superior predecessor. Better a stand-alone, life-changing book than a string of mediocre sequels.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
“I Capture the Castle,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Sense and Sensibility,” “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “My Brilliant Career,” “The Help,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

How do you organize your books? (by genre, title, author's last name, etc.)

Organize? Uh, that’s not an option. If it fits on the shelf, I’m glad. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

New Issue of Femnista

The latest issue of Femnista is out, featuring stories from the Colonial period. Learn about Marie Antoinette, The Patriot, The Scarlet Pimpernel and so much more! Yours truly wrote about one of the Founding Mothers of America, Abigail Adams. Hopefully the article does her justice.

Anyway, check it out by clicking here.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Still Around

Yeah, I’m still lurking around the web. I’ve just been too busy to update or do any creative posts. My poor little blog has been neglected. Between babysitting, doing projects around the house, learning how to drive and writing, I haven’t had the time to give this blog the attention its due.

Yes, I did say driving. That probably sounds strange to most of you, considering you know I am in my later 20’s. Most people learn in their teens. What can I say? I am a late bloomer. Well, that’s not exactly true. If you knew me ten years ago, you would understand why. My nerves and anxiety was so bad that I could barely leave the house. I still have far to go in regards to driving; its hard teaching this old dog new tricks.

Been juggling three (sometimes four) different writing projects: My YA WIP (and its sequel); a historical romantic novella; and another historical romance. Then I am currently plotting out a future story that I hope to start next year. These ideas come like shooting stars, bright and beautiful; but I have to get them down before they die out on me. Sometimes I get enthusiastic about a certain prospective idea, only to lose interest later on.

I have sent out forty-some-odd queries for my YA WIP. No nibbles, really…until yesterday. One agent requested to see the full manuscript. I imagine it will be rejected, but hey, I may get some feedback. Which is what I’m really looking for. I fear the ending might be a stumbling block. There might be too much of a cliff-hanger. If that’s the case, I know what needs to be done to fix it. But I guess I hope that the agent(s) will like it as it is. (LOL!) Anyway, at least I know my query letter is good.

Can’t think of much else to report. Well, I am involved in this reading program at my local library. I am to read a book a week (which is a cinch) and am entered into a weekly drawing. Fun. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Quotes on Writing

Whoever said that writing was easy clearly never wrote anything worthwhile. Whenever I get low about my lack of success, I remember that the greats weren’t always great. They too papered their walls with rejection slips. Check out the quotes below, said by those who lived, breathed and dreamt writing! So have a laugh and know that you are in good company.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”Maya Angelou

“It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”- Robert Benchley

“Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the back yard and shot it.- Truman Capote

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”- Ernest Hemingway

“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”Stephen King

“Any writer worth his salt writes to please himself...It's a self-exploratory operation that is endless. An exorcism of not necessarily his demon, but of his divine discontent.”Harper Lee

“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”- Toni Morrison

"People without hope do not write novels. Writing a novel is a terrible experience, during which the hair often falls out and the teeth decay. I'm always highly irritated by people who imply that writing fiction is an escape from reality. It is a plunge into reality and it's very shocking to the system."- Flannery O'Connor

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”George Orwell

“I hate writing, I love having written.”Dorothy Parker

“Writers are made, not born. To be exact, writers are self-made.” - Ayn Rand

“A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.- Sidney Sheldon

“Write only if you cannot live without writing. Write only what you alone can write.”- Elie Wiesel

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Writing Process

Okay, I stole this from Rachel Pudelek, young adult fantasy author, and adapted this Q & A for my blog. The rest of you may steal this just as I did. :~)

1. What are you working on?
I am currently laboring on a YA Historical novel called, “Hidden Places,” which is set in Poland during WWII.

2. How does your work differ from others in your genre?
Well, much of the young adult fiction out there on the Holocaust is told from a Jewish perspective. For the longest time I thought it might be interesting to tell a story from the POV of a Catholic Polish girl and how she copes with the Nazi occupation.

3. Why do you write what you write?
I don’t know. Most likely out of compulsion. Ever since I read Anne Frank’s diary, I have been obsessed with the Holocaust. I have been writing since I was a kid so it was only natural that I would eventually write about the Holocaust.

4. How does your writing process work?
Uhh, there is a process? I know there is much hair pulling and chocolate nibbling, but a process? Just kiddng.
Usually I read a book or watch a movie and am drawn to a certain person/character. I create a story for this character, secondary characters, situations and scenes. Then comes the research, which includes reading hundreds of books and articles, watching documentaries and movies. Next, I write a freakishly bad first draft. After that there is a two week rest period and then months and months of revision. Then I get it into my head that my WIP is ready and send off a barrage of queries to literary agents. Following hundreds of rejections and two years of addictive labor, I must come to terms with the fact no one wants it, go into a period of intense mourning, set it up on the proverbial shelf and then start all over again with a new project.

Monday, April 14, 2014

“How Sweet the Sound,” by Amy K. Sorrells

A Southern Novel of Second Chances

From a distance, the Harlans appear to be the perfect Southern family. Wealth and local fame mask the drama and dysfunction swirling through their family line. But as the summer heats up, a flood tide of long hidden secrets surface.
Devastation from a rape followed by the murder of two family members brings three generations of the Harlans together on their pecan plantation in Bay Spring, Alabama. Chief among them is Anniston, who by the time she turned thirteen thought she’d seen it all. But as her heart awakens to the possibility of love, she begins to deal with her loneliness and grief.
This tender coming-of-age tale, inspired by the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13, shows how true healing and hope comes only from God. Though our earthly family can wound and disappoint, our heavenly Father brings freedom to those long held captive through His mercy and grace.

About the Author:

Amy K. Sorrells is an author and occasional poet writing words of hope for a hurting world. Winner of the 2012 Women of Faith Writing Contest, and two-time ACFW Genesis Award Semi-Finalist, Amy got her start in journalism writing for medical publications, and enjoyed a three year stint as a weekly op-ed columnist for her town newspaper. When she's not writing or reading, she can be found bare-handed in garden dirt, or covered in paint while up-cycling found treasures. A graduate of DePauw University, Amy lives with her husband, three sons, and a gaggle of golden retrievers in central Indiana. You can visit her website by clicking here.

My Thoughts:
The best thing I can say about “How Sweet the Sound” is “WOW, WOW, WOW!”
To be frank, I rarely read Christian fiction anymore. I am tired of the one-dimensional characters, the cliché dialog and the predictable situations. I was looking for something new to read, and after learning that this book was from the POV of a teen girl in the south and told in the first person, I picked it up. My expectations were low; after a few pages I usually get frustrated and toss whatever book I’m reading back in my library bag.
I was drawn in by the characters, the beautiful descriptions and the meat of the story itself. I don’t want to give anything away, but Anni Harlan was an intriguing protagonist and her narration of the events reminded me of Scout Finch’s narration in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
For the first time in a long time, a book affected me and made me tear up. I felt like I was in the south when reading it and was convinced that the author, Amy K. Sorrells was a southerner. To my surprise, I learned she lives in Indiana, my home state! Kudos to this fellow Hoosier!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Critiquing My Query

A couple months ago, I submitted my query letter to Kate Testerman of KT Literary for her to critique it. Last Friday, Ms. Testerman posted it and her thoughts. Even a couple of her readers commented on it. Definite food for thought. I thought it would be cool if I posted my original letter here and then post the new version of it.  

Dear Daphne:
Please allow me to introduce you to my novel, “Hidden Places.”
At the backdrop of Nazi occupied Poland, spanning from 1942 to 1943, the story is told through the eyes of Hanna, a young and imaginative girl who dreams of going to Hollywood to become a famous actress. Her world is turned upside down when her father decides to hide Jews. In the beginning, she is appalled and prejudiced but after she gets to know them, Hanna grows to love them. When her parents choose to no longer hide her Jewish friends, she takes it upon herself to set up a new hiding place and protects them.
Truth and honesty are woven into the fabric of the story using finely delicate threads. My heroine is not perfect; she is the product of an era steeped in anti-Semitism. Hanna thinks Jews are different… until she meets one. She must come to terms with the fact that everything she was ever taught was wrong. It is a bildungsroman story, where a selfish young girl transforms into a selfless young woman.
My novel is a historical, written in the first person as an epistolary narrative and is approximately 70,000 words. The target audience is for young adults and hopefully is reminiscent of the actual diaries that youths had written during that turbulent time in history. If “Hidden Places” meets with success, I would like for Hanna’s story to be the first in a series outlining her life during WWII.
Those who liked Ruta Sepetys’ “Between Shades of Grey,” which is a novel of a young girl living in a Soviet gulag, may also enjoy my novel.
I am a regular contributor to [website]’s online magazine “[title]” and will soon have my second non-fiction story published. I am seeking representation from an agent and would be honored if you would consider me.
Thank you and God Bless.

Click here if you want to read her suggestions.

Now here is my new version.

Dear -----------:
Please allow me to introduce you to my novel, “Hidden Places.”
At the backdrop of Nazi occupied Poland, spanning from 1942 to 1943, the story is told through the eyes of Hanna, a young and imaginative girl who dreams of going to Hollywood to become a famous actress. When she gets her hands on a blank book, she can’t help but use it for a diary, even though what she writes could lead to trouble.
The world as she knows it changes dramatically when her father decides to hide a Jewish family. He claims that they are friends of his despite the fact no one in the family knows them. Overnight their simple life becomes entangled with secrets, deceit and danger. In the beginning, Hanna is prejudiced, due to the influence of her mother; she thinks Jews are different…until she gets to know one. Through her interactions with one of their guests, a teenage boy named Jakob, she must come to terms with the fact that everything she was ever taught was wrong.
After an encounter with the Gestapo, her parents decide to no longer hide Jewish friends; Hanna takes it upon herself to set up a new hiding place and protects them.
My novel is a historical, written in the first person as a fictional diary, and is approximately 70,000 words. The target audience is for young adults and hopefully is reminiscent of the actual diaries, that youths, such as Anne Frank or Mary Berg, had written during that turbulent time in history.
Those who liked Ruta Sepetys’ “Between Shades of Grey,” which is a novel of a young girl living in a Soviet gulag, may also enjoy my novel.
I am a regular contributor to "website's" online magazine “TITLE” and will soon have my second non-fiction story published. I am seeking representation from an agent and would be honored if you would consider me.

Thank you.


V. L. A.

Okay, now what do you all think?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014



The latest issue of Femnista has been released. This time the topic is, "A Nation at War." It features stories of those involved in or living during a war. Read about the lives of about Raoul Wallenberg, "Gone With the Wind," and "Gods and Generals. Included is an article by yours truly, detailing Louisa May Alcott's contribution as a nurse during the Civil War.

Check it out. Amazing articles, awesome writers!