Things I’m Loving this Week

I’ve always been a reader, and with half the world obsessed with reality tv or ugly politics, for me that translates to blog reading. There are about a handful of blogs I read regularly. Why? I always want to hear from these people because they’re so real, and Crystal Paine’s weekend post is one of those I look forward to in my inbox. I thrive on “off topic” randomness, and the weekend posts are just about as random as you can get, so in honor of this I want to jot a few random offerings of my own.

Hello September.png

  1. Hello September!

If you didn’t know, this month begins the season I love most. Bring on the #PSL’s– although where I live, I prefer the amazing local version which combines pumpkin spice with toasted marshmallow. It just makes me happy. At this moment, there’s a wicker basket set under my living room chair, just ready for when the hats and mittens come out. Fall means delicious breezes, a last hurrah for the roses surrounding my porch, and gorgeous colors on the trees. Our extended family spends extra time together, because birthdays! Also, there are always great events, so I’m already planning date nights for me and hubby. 🙂

What do you love about fall?

  1. Hoopla– digital streaming

I have recently discovered this tiny goldmine, brought to us by our local libraries, and I love it! It’s free, you can get the app, and you have 10 titles per month. With. Rollover. I am currently hoarding my last five titles from August until they expire, and I will carefully choose my books for September one at a time. Until the end of the month, when I’ll snag like a crazy person.  Right now, I’m finishing up Lisa-Jo Baker’s book, followed by Breaking Busy from Alli Worthington on audio. I also have three ebooks in fiction from Melissa Tagg, Colleen Coble and Denise Hunter.

I don’t have a ton of time to read, as I’m sure you don’t either. When I do, I like something good on my shelf. I love a new Bible study book or Christian fiction new release, and last season’s featured books from Lifeway are mostly on the shelves of Hoopla. You can find your favorite 2017 releases pretty quick–even for you music and video lovers–and it costs nothing. Definitely worth a shot.

What are you reading in September?

  1. Lisa Jo Baker’s Never Unfriended wrecked me in the worst possible way. The truth is, the only people I have ever unfriended are people I loved most, because of life choices and healthy boundaries–all the things that would sound responsible in a TEDTalk and feel like garbage in real life.  That being said, I never intended to read this book. I probably wouldn’t have, except for Kristy Cambron’s book club featuring…you guessed it. Never Unfriended and Lizzy & Jane. I decided to check out the audio version and let it roll while I drove to all the mom things, then folded laundry.

The thing I loved about this book is the way Lisa cuts through social pretense with a reality knife, takes the cracked sheet cake and layers it with fruit and whipped cream before she serves it up on a plate. Belle melange never tasted so good–maybe because the women who read this book  aren’t eating alone. A favorite quote refers to, “Velveteen Friendship.”

“Love is born when we misunderstand one another and make it right…when we cry in the kitchen, when we show up unannounced with magazines and granola bars in an effort to say, ‘I love you.’” –Lisa Jo Baker

I hope your weekend finds a way to tell the people in your life how much you love them.

**Bonus: I’m looking forward to this Scripture writing plan on serving. Hop on over and join me!

Grace to you,


Interview with Author, Keely Keith.

Keely Brooke Keith

Hey, y’all!  Today I am welcoming Keely Keith on the blog to talk about her new resources for writers.  I fell in love with these journals while my middle school and high school students were in the midst of writing for NaNoWriMo, and I can’t wait to tell you about it!

(*this post contains affiliate links)

First, though, let’s meet Keely.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), homeschool mom, worship musician, and she is the author of an awesome series of novels featuring historical fiction with a sci-fi twist.  It’s called The Uncharted Series and here’s a short synopsis:

A hidden land settled by peaceful people The first outsider in 160 years…

After seven generations of isolation on an uncharted land in the South Atlantic Ocean, the descendants of American pioneer families receive their first visit from the modern world. Join Lydia, Levi, and Bethany as they discover their purpose, find love, and try to keep the Land hidden.

So, Keely, where did you come up with the idea for your Uncharted series?

As a child, I would paper my bedroom walls with maps out of National Geographic Magazine. I often stared at the wide blue swaths of ocean on the maps and wondered if land existed that no one knew about.

While researching My family history as an adult, I became fascinated by the group migrations to the American West. I wondered what would happen if instead of going west, a group of families left the United States on a ship, got lost at sea, and ended up on that hidden land.

When I outlined the stories, I decided to start the series a few years in the future (2025), have the rest of the world embroiled in World War III, and drop a modern navy pilot into the Land to show the cultural contrast.

Wow.  I love that concept–sounds like the perfect story to pick up over the weekend. What are you reading right now?

I read a lot of books on the craft of writing and history books. My favorite read lately was How to be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman. Fascinating and so well written

Where is your favorite spot to curl up with a good book?

Hm, that’s sounds nice. Usually, when I have time to decompress in the evenings, the last thing I want to do is read. Oh, wait… an author shouldn’t say that, huh?

Funny, and I totally get that.  Sometimes you just need all your extra minutes to write. (Y’know, after you love on your kids, do the laundry, make dinner, and get everybody put to bed.  🙂  ) What are you currently writing?

The 5th installment of the Uncharted series. My working title is Miracle of the Gray Leaf. I feel like I’m having too much fun playing with this story to call it writing.

Awesome.  Your newest series is all about reaching out and helping other writers.  Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Just for my writing friends, I’ve created a series of softcover journals called Guided Journals for Writers. Here is a little about each journal and why I created it…


The first journal is The Writer’s Purpose Journal. I created this resource because after I finished my seventh novel, I felt depleted and lost as a writer. I spent three months in prayerful introspection, pouring over a file of notes from readers and journaling my feelings. When I came out of that season, I had a list of questions that had helped me narrow my focus and remember my purpose. I know so many writers who also hit these blocks, and I thought it might help to have the questions laid out in a journal format.

Do you want to write but don’t know where to start? Are you halfway through your manuscript and feel blocked? Have you lost your enthusiasm for writing? Let The Writer’s Purpose Journal guide you on a journey to rediscovering your purpose as a writer. Using questions to prompt soul-searching journal entries, The Writer’s Purpose Journal will lead you through your beginnings as a writer, your influences, your goals, and your motivations to help you remove blocks and find fulfillment as a writer.

Available now: Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Add to your Goodreads shelf here.


The second journal is The Writer’s Character Journal. I created this resource because with every new novel I plan, I start a notebook for the characters. I rewrite the same questions over and over, and I thought it would save time if I already had it printed and bound.

Let The Writer’s Character Journal guide you through creating the varied cast of believable characters you’ll need for your next novel. Using questions to prompt brainstorming, The Writer’s Character Journal will help you flesh out your characters’ pasts, quirks, relationships, strengths, fears, flaws, and more. Complete with a character index and numbering system for 18 characters.

Available now:  Amazon   Barnes & Noble

Add to your Goodreads shelf here.


The third journal is The Writer’s Scene Journal. I created it because every time I complete a novel, I go back through each scene slowly and fine-tune the essential elements. During the process, I rewrite the same questions for each scene. I thought it would save time if I already had my checklists printed and bound. Also, it’s handy to have the journal with me when I go out into nature to brainstorm. (No one wants their computer in the park, right?)

Let The Writer’s Scene Journal guide you through crafting unforgettable scenes for your next novel. Using a list of essential elements, The Writer’s Scene Journal will help you brainstorm your scenes’ setting, plot, characters, sensory details, symbolism, and more. Complete with a scene index and numbering system for 45 scenes.

Available now:  Amazon  Barnes & Noble

Add to your Goodreads shelf here.


The fourth journal is The Writer’s Book Launch Journal. Book marketing and promoting can be intimidating for authors. Since the day I signed my first publishing contract, I’ve kept a list of book promoting ideas. With each book launch, I try them and add to them for my next launch. I have both traditionally published friends and indie friends who’ve asked for my list (and a couple of publishers too). So, I created this journal and spread the to-do lists over 12-months to turn it into an easy to follow plan for any author. Many of my author friends love this journal, as even some big publishers rarely give a book’s publicity more than a couple of hours of an intern’s time these days.

Whether you’re an indie author or signed to a publisher, let The Writer’s Book Launch Journal guide you through the marketing and promotional tasks every author should do to ensure a successful book launch. Filled with checklists of essential tasks, an abundance of publicity suggestions, and questions to personalize your promotions, The Writer’s Book Launch Journal will lead you on the journey to a fun and fulfilling book launch.

Available now: Amazon    Barnes & Noble

Add to your Goodreads shelf here.

And since some authors want the information in The Writer’s Book Launch Journal but prefer to scroll through the checklists on their computer, I’ve also written the ebook The Writer’s Book Launch Guide: A Step-By-Step Plan to Give Your Book the Best Launch Possible. This ebook is a good companion to The Writer’s Book Launch Journal because the tasks are explained in more depth. I recommend getting both the journal and the ebook together.

Thanks, Keely.  I loved the Book Launch Guide, and I would recommend the whole series to anyone who is in the process of writing, planning to write a novel, going into NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo, or as going into the process of launching a new book.  Great stuff! 

So, playing music and experiencing God through worship is such a big part of who I am and what I do as a writer.  While I have you here, I have to ask a couple music geek questions.  Do you have a music playlist when you write?

I started to make a playlist for each of the first three Uncharted books, then I realized it was really Brooke Fraser’s albums that awakened the feel inside me that I needed for the series. All of her albums + worship tunes with Hillsong. Her voice is the sound of the Land.

That’s awesome.  Right now, I’m totally into her song What a Beautiful Name.  It’s just a really powerful declaration about the Name of Jesus, and I love that message. As a worship musician, what instrument do you play and how has worship influenced your life and writing?

I’m a bass player. Have been since I was 15ish. I take a break from writing most afternoons and play bass unplugged to a few worship songs. I unplug because it’s between me and Jesus, and I can feel the notes as well as I can hear then anyway. Playing worship music centers my mind’s attention and my heart’s affection on Christ. If I’m not trying to glorify Christ with my writing (or with anything) then there is no point, and if I’m not focused on Him, I won’t glorify Him. It’s human nature. We naturally want to glorify ourselves.

That’s so true.  I love to start my mornings with Bible reading and praise music–just praising God before I begin teaching for the day.  Do you have a favorite worship song and scripture to share with our readers?

The song Lord I Need You by Matt Maher is a simple prayer, but the lyrics so beautifully echo the cry of my heart. The Lord knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8) and what we need most is Him. The nearness of God is our good (Psalm 73:28) even at work, even in traffic, even in the waiting room. He is there defending us, interceding for us, loving us, forgiving us, strengthening us, and making a way for us to escape temptation. Every hour, He is with us. Lord, we need you.  Here’s the link to Matt Maher’s VEVO if you’d like to listen to Lord I Need You.

Thank you, Keely.  I love that song as well, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you better.

Thank you, Nicki! This has been fun 🙂

Also, thanks to all the blog readers for dropping by.  If you’re interested in Keely’s writer series, you can click the links above.  The Uncharted Series is also free on Kindle unlimited or you can check out Book 2 in the series, Uncharted Redemption, for only $.99 on Amazon Kindle–now for a limited time.

Before you go, leave a comment and tell us–what book are you reading, and what worship song speaks to you this season?

Grace to you,




Interview & a Giveaway with Author, Virginia Smith



Welcome to the blog today, Ms. Ginny!  I’m so happy to feature your fun, hometown series, “Tales from the Goose Creek B&B”.  Can you tell us a little bit about your Goose Creek series and how you came up with the characters in the Richardson family?

Goose Creek is a fictitious town in central Kentucky, home to a bunch of funny, quirky residents that resemble small towns everywhere. Everybody knows everyone else’s business, and they have no problem voicing their opinions. There are really three main characters. First, a nearing-retirement-age couple, Al and Millie, whose marriage full of laughter and conflict and misunderstandings, and especially moments of tenderness. I’ve had so many people tell me, “You’re writing about my marriage!” Another main character is Susan, a young veterinarian who buys the local animal clinic and struggles to find her place as an outsider in town. Who among us hasn’t felt like an outsider at one time or another?

Yay, another Kentucky girl!  Well, as all Kentucky residents know, there is a huge rivalry among Kentucky basketball fans–even in Goose Creek!  What is your team of choice:  University of Louisville or University of Kentucky?

SERIOUSLY? I’m part of the Big Blue Nation. I bleed blue! U.K. Wildcats all the way!

Haha, ok.  My husband is a Wildcat, also.  His dad, however, is a Louisville fan.  We have had a lot of Christmas gift (switching) hilarity with those two and their sports teams over the years!

Now that the weather is starting to turn, and it’s just about perfect for a hot drink and a good book–what’s your preference:  Coffee or cocoa?

Coffee, preferably hazelnut.

Yum, that sounds good.  There is also a lot of sweet treat sharing in Goose Creek.  What do you look forward to the most:  Christmas cookies or Christmas cake?

Cake. Definitely cake. I included the recipe for a family Christmas tradition in the first book in the series, The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade – my grandmother’s lemon cake.

I remember that recipe!  Now I’m going to have to try it.  We have way too many sugar options at Christmas, but my husband always asks me to make a Dark Chocolate Texas Sheet Cake.  It’s rich, decadent, and loaded with real butter!  🙂

One thing that I still enjoy, even after the main event is through, is the beautiful glow of twinkle lights.  What is your favorite to display:  white lights or colored?

I think white lights are elegant and beautiful, but for my home I like the variety of colors everywhere.

I feel the same way.  We alternate strands of white and colored on our tree, and my oldest daughter said this year, “Mom, some people get white lights and some people have colored lights, but I like that we get to have both.  That’s pretty good.”  🙂

While we’re on the subject of decorating, there are a lot of decorating ideas floating around Goose Creek this year.  I found it quite entertaining!  How would you describe your own decorating style:  “Country geese” or “Chip & JoJo (Gaines) chic?”

 Since I don’t know who Chip and JoJo are, I’d have to pick Country Geese. I’m not really into pictures of roosters and all that, but I prefer comfort over elegance.

Comfort in Kentucky sounds just like home!  Good choice.  🙂  P.S.  Here is a picture of the couple I mentioned.  They had a TV show on HGTV called Fixer Upper for several seasons, and their new book is on my reading list for 2017.  All their decorating is beautiful and comfortable–my kinda people!

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I love the way that Christmas decorations make you feel.  My kids enjoy looking through their ornaments and remembering who gave them each one.  What is your favorite decoration at Christmastime?

I have almost the entire Whoville village from Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas, which is my all-time favorite animated Christmas program. I set that village up every year, and play with the little Whos and the Grinch and Max.

Nice!  My kids would love that.  Now, what about gift-giving? Can you share a special Christmas gift memory?

The ones that stand out in my mind are gifts I’ve given, not ones I’ve received. The year my husband’s mother passed away I found her old high school letter (she lettered in softball), and had it framed in a memory box with an engraved plate. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen him cry.

On the other hand, my sister and I have a gift tradition. Each year we give each other the world’s ugliest Christmas ornament, and try to outdo each other. Some of the memorable ones are a glass fish with legs and lips, a fuzzy brown ball that had no business being a Christmas ornament, a ballet dancer (complete with fuzzy tutu) with our stepfather’s head glued in place of the dancer’s. Christmas Eve always provides a few laughs as we open our ugly ornament gifts.

Both of those are really good memories.  One tradition we love in our family, is the scavenger hunt my parents create every year for Christmas.  Sometimes we have it before the gifts are opened, sometimes after, but it is priceless to watch all four of my kids run around the house looking for clues to a family gift! 

Now that Christmas is over, there is a little time for reading left for all the moms on break.  What book(s) you would recommend over Christmas break?

Rachel Hauck’s “The Wedding Dress”; Kristin Hannah’s “The Nightingale”; for fans of The Princess Bride, “As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride.” If you can listen to that one on audio, it’s awesome because it’s narrated by Carey Elwes who played Westley in the movie.

And of course, if you haven’t read the Goose Creek series, I HIGHLY recommend those books – “The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade,” “Renovating the Richardsons,” “The Room with the Second-Best View,” and the two novellas, “Dr. Horatio vs. the Six-Toed Cat,” and “A Goose Creek Christmas.” The Christmas book is a free eBook download for the next month or so, and you can read it out of order.

Thank you so much!  I’m sure all of our readers will enjoy a free Kindle copy of A Goose Creek Christmas!  **Don’t forget to leave a review!**  Even a few kind words is a blessing to any Christian author. 🙂

 Thank you so much for being here today, Ms. Ginny.  Before we go, do you have a favorite winter recipe to share?

This one’s easy and delicious and perfect for winter:

Taco Soup


1 pound hamburger

1 pound sausage

1 can each of the following: red beans, black bean, pinto beans, Mexicorn (also called Fiesta corn)

1 cans Rotel tomatoes with green chilis

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 package Ranch mix dressing

1 package taco seasoning


Sour Cream

Shredded Cheese

Tortilla Chips


Brown meat and drain well. Set aside. Empty all cans (undrained) into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add Ranch and Taco seasoning packages and stir well.

Add meat. Return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream, cheese and tortilla chips.


Yum!  That is one of our family favorites.  Thanks again, and for all of our readers, don’t forget to pick up your free copy of Virginia Smith’s Christmas book, A Goose Creek Christmas.

Happy New Year!