Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Book Review about friendships between women

Book: Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships
Author: Christine Hoover
Reviewed by: Alexis A. Goring



In her book, Messy Beautiful Friendship, Christine Hoover tackles the topic of friendship between women.

She doesn’t hold back in her exhortation and encouragement for women who have struggled to find and nurture deep, lasting relationships. The author shares scenes from her personal life story and points out her flaws. Yet her tone is not critical. She writes with wisdom, care and finesse. Her tone is kind and comforting yet at times a bit forthcoming but for good reason.

It is obvious that the author has learned life lessons and she wants to save the reader the heartache that comes when you don’t have a close, honest and open friendship with another woman. She makes a clear case that no matter what stage of life a woman is in, she needs women friends who speak her language and can uplift her heart. The value of a friend who understands you and isn’t afraid to point out what you need to work on is priceless.

Hoover doesn’t leave her readers clueless. She provides sound advice in each chapter as to how to find and nurture deep relationships with other women that last. She shares strategies to help women overcome the roadblocks that stand in their way to having true, reliable friends. She addresses the issues of insecurity and isolation. The author does a great job of letting the reader know that she is not alone. She opens the readers’ eyes with her “biblical vision for friendship” that, if applied, will reap great benefits.

This book is divided into five parts:

#1: A New Vision for Friendship

#2: Threats to Friendship

#3: Discovering and Deepening Friendship

#4: Being a Friend

#5: Receiving Friendship

The real-life scenarios in each of these five parts of Hoover’s book are written in a way that’s engaging and encourages empathy. She talks about how the struggle to find good friends gets harder when you get older but shows the reader how it is still possible to have your dreams come true for friendships that stand the test of time, with God’s help. God is part of the picture in this book. The author reveals to the reader how faith in God plays a key role in finding and keeping friendships that are godly and good for you.

Hoover accomplishes her goals in this book page by page. Her writing style is friendly and warm. Her stories are relatable and applicable to the modern woman. This entire book is wonderful and inspirational.

As a reader, I now feel motivated to invest in finding and nurturing friendships with women that last for a lifetime.


*Disclosure: I received this book free from Baker Books through the Baker Books Bloggers www.bakerbooks.com/bakerbooksbloggers program. The opinions I have expressed are my own, and I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Summer Love: Interview with Allegra Spencer from "Count Me In" (book)


Character interview questions for Allegra Spencer of Count Me In:

Alexis: Hi, Allegra! Welcome to my blog. I am excited to interview you!

Allegra: Hi, Alexis! Thank you so much for having me here today. You’re my first interview! Mikal has been interviewed a few times, but for serious. I’m the one who had her life constantly threatened. *insert side-eye to Mikal here*


Alexis: How important is coffee to you? I noticed in the first lines of your story that you think in coffee illustrations. Why is a Kit Kat Latte your favorite coffee?

Allegra: Alexis. Coffee is lifeblood. I mean, it’s what wakes me up, keeps me motivated. Saves Tyler’s life. Ha! As for why the Kit Kat latte is my favorite, well…chocolate, vanilla, and when I’m feeling especially adventurous, I have Jael (my barista) add a splash of hazelnut. It’s peace, joy, and love in a (ginormous) mug.

Alexis: I prefer “white sandy beaches and crystal-blue oceans” to the woodsy outdoors too! I totally “get” you on this point. But does your love for the beach and calm waves contradict Tyler’s love for “the great outdoors”? If so, share how your different interests helped and hurt your relationship.

Allegra: Believe me when I say that Ty can find adventure wherever he goes. That man. UGH. He does have a special love for the mountains, though. And jumping out of planes. And helicopters. I mean, really. Who heli-skis? But I digress.

So at first, our different interests really hurt our relationship. Well, what relationship there was. If you’ve read our story, you know that Tyler and I are opposites, to put it mildly. If you haven’t read our story, I don’t want to give everything away, but let’s just say that our ideas of “adventure” are pretty different. That made Tyler hesitant to pursue me (the punk). But I’ll admit, it made me pretty resistant to the idea of a relationship with him, too. Now though, when we go to the mountains, I’m way more open to paragliding, so we do that as well as go hiking. He’s trying to talk me into going zip-lining up in Vancouver, but I’ve heard about one of those lines, and I don’t know. I’m working up to it. Maybe. 


Alexis: The chemistry between you and Tyler is electric! Why did you fight so hard at first to NOT like him?

Allegra: Oh, friend! Can I admit now that you’ve read it that I’m so happy Mikal threw us together? I mean, *whew*. Pass me a fan. 😉

But at first…yeah. I mean, he’s cute. Really cute, but he’s my employer. And the man is a risk-taker! I have a not-so-great history with risk-takers, and to be honest, that really scared me. I mistakenly believed that a risk-taker was too selfish to be in a relationship, always putting their life in danger for a momentary adrenaline rush without thought to others who love them. I learned a lot through our story, though, and am happy to report that I am still going on adventures with Tyler. Slightly more subdued adventures, much to Ty’s chagrin.


Alexis: I know that you were initially mad at your sister for setting you up with Tyler. But somewhere deep inside, were you secretly glad? Be honest!

Allegra: Caprice deserved to never have coffee again for that stunt. But I’ve grudgingly forgiven her. Ha! Okay, more than grudgingly. Deep, deep, way deep down, I was a little glad she did, despite the extreme embarrassment I suffered at the restaurant. I’m happy to report that waitress no longer works there. She apparently dug her claws into a model, married him, and now lives in Paris. So she’s far, far away from Ty.

Alexis: Describe your first date with Tyler. What were you thinking? How did you feel? Where did he take you? What did you do on the date?

Allegra: Our first date without Mikal’s interference (again, side-eyeing her) was magnificently calm but a little higher elevation than I’d like. Tyler took me to SkyCity Restaurant. It’s a revolving restaurant 500-feet up the Space Needle in downtown Seattle. I had the pan-seared scallops, which were divine. Ty had the mocha-braised short ribs. And yes, I had a bite and it was also so good. After, he took me up to the observation, much to my chagrin. But I’ll admit—it was stunning. Seattle is seriously a gorgeous city.

Alexis: Describe your first adventure with Tyler—paragliding! Why did you think you’d die? What was it like, soaring through the air attached to a hottie like Tyler? 

Allegra: Um, hello? However many gazillions feet in the air with nothing but a couple of pieces of layered fabric and some lines holding you up? Yeah. Deathtrap. Never mind that I didn’t die, that’s beside the point. You know, Story pulled me aside later and asked me if being attached to Tyler changed my mind about him at all. At the time, it just confirmed that we are so different. But looking back at the selfie we took, I can totally see the sparks and remember how comforting he was. Despite trying to kill me.

Alexis: What made you decide that you should give adventure—and a romantic relationship with Tyler—a chance? Do you regret your decision? Why or why not?

Allegra: Well, the contract kind of forced me into giving adventure a chance. Ty was just a bonus. Eventually. Once we sorted out our fears and differences. Do I regret my decision? Absolutely not! You can’t regret a gift from God, especially one as caring, compassionate, genuine, funny, loving, and—let’s be honest—good looking.

Alexis: Why did Tyler’s first prayer with you bring tears to your eyes?

Allegra: Tears? I didn’t cry. Nope. Sigh. Fine. I teared up. I think it was because when Tyler prayed he also released me from any guilt, despite the mishap being my fault. I’ve always taken on perhaps more than my share of responsibility, and even then he knew I would be hard on myself for what happened. Rightfully so, but it was a sweet moment to know that he forgave me. 

Alexis: Describe the first time Tyler kissed you. What were the sensations? What were your thoughts? Were you able to think? Lol. 

Allegra: Oh. My. Goodness. That kiss. I’m going to need a fan again. I’m not one to kiss and tell, but let’s just say I didn’t know what thoughts and words were when he kissed me, so I couldn’t even describe the sensations to you. All I remember was searing heat and lots of tingly feelings.

Alexis: What did Tyler’s constant challenges of pushing you out of your comfort zone do for you and how did it affect your relationship with him?

Allegra: Ty has such a passion for people, helping them grow and learn that they can do more than they think they can. He’s so good at it. I’ll be the first to admit, though, that it was super annoying when I first met him. I like safety. Danger can lead to pain and death. I don’t like pain, and I most certainly don’t like death. Yikes.

Through the course of our relationship, however, I grew so much, and that was because Tyler pushed me out of that comfort zone. Through his encouragement, I learned to take that step of faith in God and lead the life He wants to me. Jesus didn’t lead a safe life—He pushed the boundaries, made spectacular declarations of who He is, healed people when He knew the Pharisees would try to trick Him so they could put Him to death, and put His life into His Father’s hands, knowing it would lead to His death…and resurrection. Tyler and I learned together to follow in Jesus Christ's steps and take those risks worth taking. 
Though I still argue that skydiving is not a risk worth taking.

Alexis: What would you say is your most precious moment that you spent with Tyler? What made it special to you?

Allegra: Since you all know our story is a romance (a romantic comedy—apparently we’re hilarious), then you probably know that Tyler and I get together in the end. That ending is our most precious moment together. It was romantic, sweet, and life-changing.

Alexis: What do you want women who are like you, the ones who “live with a safety net”, to learn from your story?

Allegra: To let that safety net go. Don’t go all crazy and think I’m advocating putting your life in needless danger (*ahem* Tyler), but to step out in God’s direction, knowing that He has you in His hands and won’t let you go. And if you feel like you’re falling, know that His hand is under you ready to catch you. Be bold. Be fearless in Christ. Also, if you find a former NFL star who loves Jesus and you’re single? Don’t let him go.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Allegra! God bless you, girl!

Allegra: Thank you so much again, Alexis! I had a ton of fun. Oh! Bo and Story, mine and Tyler’s best friends, have quite the story, too. Mikal is transcribing their story right now and will announce the release timeframe in her newsletter later this year, so make sure you sign up for that on her website to be the first to know!

~*~
Author Bio:
Mikal Dawn is an inspirational romance author, wedding enthusiast, and proud military wife. By day, she works as an administrative assistant for an international ministry, serves in her church’s library, runs her kids to all their sports, and drinks lots of coffee. 

By night, she talks to figments of her imagination as she attempts to write while dinner is burning. And drinks lots of coffee. When she isn’t writing about faith, fun, and forever, she is obsessively scouring Pinterest (with coffee in hand, of course!) for wedding ideas for her characters.

Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Mikal now lives in Nebraska with her husband, their three children, and one ferocious feline. Connect with Mikal on mikaldawn.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

~*~
Blurb for Count Me In (book): Allegra Spencer has been living a careful life. Her safe job as an accountant is bookended by going to church and the gym. Okay, sometimes the gym. Fine. She goes to church. And the coffee shop. She avoids risk at all cost, preferring to stay safe in her cozy condo. Until her accounting firm goes belly up and she's out of a job. 


Tyler Hawk had a glorious career as a star NFL tight end. He retired on a high note and now lives a second dream of owning his own business and leading others on extreme outdoor adventures. But he needs help with his books--and his heart. When Allegra takes the job, sparks fly.

It's a case of safety zone versus danger zone, and in their minds, never the two shall meet.


~*~
Buy Mikal's book on Amazon

~*~
Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below: 

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Friday, July 21, 2017

A devotional for your heart about an Author and a Book

Acknowledgments from God in the Lamb’s Book of Life
A devotional written by Alexis A. Goring

"I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God's angels.” ~ Luke 12:8 (NLT)

This devotional was inspired one summer night in July 2017.

I’d logged into my Facebook page and saw an update from one of my friends. She’s an author who’s working on a new novel. I’m one of her beta readers.

The message from my author friend noted how she would award her beta readers after her book was ready to be published. She said, “As a reward for being a HUGE part of this creation, you’ll have your name mentioned in my acknowledgments and you’ll get a free, autographed copy of the paperback when it releases.” As I read this note, Luke 12:8 came to mind and a parallel was formed!

I realized that book enthusiasts get excited when their name is mentioned in the acknowledgments of a book by one of their favorite author friends. It’s exhilarating that we though in most cases are not an author, played a role in helping the author create this polished book. We like to see our name in print. It gives us a feeling of significance and lets us know that the author wants us in their life.

But did you know that there’s a GREAT book that God wrote called The Book of Life? Everyone whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be saved and go to Heaven when Jesus returns to Earth to take His faithful followers home.


Let’s read more about this in Revelation 21:22-27 (NIV): “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

The Bible also says, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” ~1 Corinthians 2:9 (KJV)

Now that is a happily ever after ending that I want for my life story! Heaven is going to be wonderful. The struggles we face here on Earth can’t compare to an eternal life free of sin and pain (2 Corinthians 4:17) that awaits us! Most importantly, having our names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life brings me so much hope and joy! It shows just how special and significant we are to God and it portrays the enduring, forever love that our Savior Jesus Christ has for humankind.

It’s wonderful to have our names mentioned by our favorite authors in the Acknowledgements section of their book but there’s one Author Friend’s Book that I most want my name to be in and that’s in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God and I want to be acknowledged in His book, don’t you?

So what can you do to be acknowledged by God? By committing your life to Him and accepting the free gift of salvation offered to you through the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ! Live your daily life in obedience to God. Study the Bible and apply its principles then watch your faith in God grow!

Remember, it is better to be acknowledged by God than by man.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Book Review and Excerpt from "Healing Love" by Jennifer Slattery

Please welcome my writer friend Jennifer Slattery to the blog. She's going to share an excerpt from her new novel that releases today! Her story is called, Healing Love. See the gorgeous cover?


I hope that you will support Jennifer by purchasing a copy of her book! Meanwhile, learn more about Healing Love in my review of her book and the excerpt below from her story.

God bless you!


~*~
Book Review by Alexis A. Goring: 


Healing Love is the story of Brooke Endress and Ubaldo Chavez.

Brooke and Ubaldo meet on the mission field in El Salvador. Ubaldo is a native of El Salvador where he works as a teacher and translator. Brooke is an All-American girl with a passion for broadcast journalism. When the reader first meets Brooke, she is focused on rising in the ranks at work. She wants to advance her career by becoming on-air talent at a TV station. Love is not part of Brooke’s life plan…until she meets Ubaldo.

Ubaldo’s world is rocked when he meets Brooke. He notices her beautiful exterior first but as the story progresses it’s her soft heart of gold and her passion for helping children that win him over.

This is a sweet, strong and wonderful story about what can happen when you allow God to write your love story and exchange your career plans for His life plan. I love the way that the author (Jennifer Slattery) brought Brooke and Ubaldo together. It was unexpected, filled with surprises and so beautiful.

The plot of this story is solid, believable and worth noting. The author writes in a way that’s engaging, heartwarming and real. The author’s heart for the mission field shines through in the way that she writes this story. She’s created characters that are likable, relatable and completely captivating. She paints a picture of the orphan children that draws the reader in and makes them want to advocate for their welfare even though this is fiction.

This story is a bit over 300 pages but is so wonderful that you may stay awake, paying full attention to this story until you reach “the end”.

~*~
Story Excerpt from Chapter One of Healing Love:

This was not what Brooke had gone to school for. With a huff, she dropped her pen on the mountainous stack of stories she’d been assigned to fact check. So far, the only errors she found were minor—grammar and spelling, largely mute points in television. Then there was the occasional hilarious lead-in she felt tempted to share on Facebook, like the one she’d just read: “Increased Unemployment Rates Lead to Joblessness in the Inland Empire.” You think?

She was tempted to slash through the line with her red pen. But not knowing this reporter and how he’d react to such “help,” she opted to leave it be. Unfortunately, she wasn’t paid to have an opinion.

“God’s got big plans for you, peanut. Trust Him. Follow Him, no matter where He leads.” The memory of her dad’s voice weighed heavy on her heart.

She inhaled a deep breath. Was this what you had in mind, Daddy?

Melancholy wouldn’t get her anywhere. He’d never encouraged the easy road. News broadcasting was a competitive field. Brooke knew that going in. So it was taking her longer to get her break than anticipated; she’d simply work harder. And smarter.

She let her gaze roam across the newsroom. Printers hummed from the long, rectangular table dividing two expanses of cubicles. Nails clicked on at least a dozen computer keyboards. Interns scurried about, some chasing down reporters to pitch stories or ask questions.

Brooke focused once again on her notes. She needed to come up with a fresh pitch—a story idea that would put her name on the station manager’s radar. If she could somehow secure an interview no one else had thought of, or maybe approach a hot story from a new angle.

What about women re-entering the work force?

No. That’d been overdone. What about teachers … losing their jobs over … She tapped her pen against her palm. Low test scores? Lack of funding?

Her phone, set on silent, vibrated. She checked the screen. Aunt Isadora.

“Hey.” She stood. “Everything okay?” She needed a change of scenery. And a snack to jumpstart her lethargic brain cells. She headed for the break room, changed her mind, then turned toward the lobby.

“Oh, of course dear.” It sounded like water was running on the other end, followed by clanking dishes. “I’m calling to see what time you think you’ll be heading home. Your sister needs a ride from study group, and I’ve got bridge tonight.”

Crossing the room, Brooke glanced at the clock above the long row of mounted televisions, each screen showing a different clip. “Hopefully around 6:30. One of our reporters received a last minute exclusive that needs to air tonight, which caused some shuffling around, which ultimately led to me receiving three more pieces, so I’m a bit behind.”

Aunt Isadora tsked.“They’ll run you ragged if you let them. You really need to set some boundaries.”

“Not if I want air time.”

“Oh, sweetie, that’ll come. I have no doubt about that.”

“Yeah, well, I have enough doubt for the both of us.”

“This reporter, the one who flubbed your day—he can’t have someone else do his fact checking for him?”

“I don’t know if I’d call our station’s biggest story a flub, but in answer to your question, no one as good.” She grinned and, once in the lobby, shot a wave to the station receptionist before slipping past her. She continued down a long, quiet hall to three large snack machines, one of which kept Skittles stocked.

“I know that’s true.”

Brooke’s heart swelled at the pride in her aunt’s voice. With all the rejections she received on a weekly basis, it felt good to know those she loved most stood behind her. If only her parents were still around. A painful lump lodged in her throat.

“Apparently,” Brooke fished in her purse for loose change, “his previous fact checker, an intern from the University of Missouri, missed some pretty big errors, like which political party Senator Wilkinson represented.”

“Wow. That’s bad.”

“Right?” Her phone chimed an incoming email, and she tapped the icon. Her pulse increased a notch—it was from KTLA’s news director. She paused to take a deep breath, wiped a sweaty palm on her pant leg, then opened the message.

Dear Ms. Endress,
Thank you for your inquiring but we are not hiring at this time. Best of luck to you in your career endeavors.


As close to a form rejection as one could get, and her third this month. So far, every major television station in a two-hour radius had rejected her.

“Sweetie, you okay? You got quiet on me there for a moment.”

She released a gust of air. “Just fabulous.” She relayed the message. “I’ve about run out of options. Seems I’m destined to do grunt work for the rest of my life.”

“You’re much too pretty for that.”

She cringed at the stereotypical assumption underlying her aunt’s words. “It takes more than good looks to break into television.”

“Good thing you’re smart and talented then, huh?” Aunt Isadora chuckled. “Keep your chin up. God’s got His hand on you, sweet pea.”

“I guess.”

“Have you thought of looking elsewhere, to stations with less competition?”

“It’s not like the Inland Empire is a metropolis.”

“No, but we are close to Los Angeles.”

True, but Brooke had no intention of moving, at least, not until her sister graduated from high school. She’d dealt with enough already.

“Aubrey will be just fine. I promise we wouldn’t feed her to the dogs, should you leave.”

Brooke forced a nervous laugh—it was kind of creepy the way her aunt always seemed to anticipate her thoughts. “I know.”

Whistling approached, and she looked up. Caleb Silvas, one of the station’s most popular personalities, was heading her way. He made eye contact and smiled, causing her stomach to catapult. “I … uh … I’ve got to let you go. I’ll see you tonight. And I can pick up Aubrey, no problem.”

“Thanks, dear. Love you.”

“You too.” She tucked her phone in her back pocket and faced the vending machine.

What had gotten into her? She was acting like a tongue-tied, socially awkward teen. Which was completely ridiculous.

So Caleb was successful, deemed one of the Inland Empire’s most eligible bachelors. So what he was a news room favorite, with ratings to match? And incredibly handsome, with his blond hair, green eyes, and baseball player build.

So what that a recommendation from him could quite possibly launch her career?

“Anything good in there?”

She startled and spun around. Forced a wobbly smile. “Uh, hi. I mean, no.” She straightened, donning her most professional stance. “Just the usual. Stale chips, cardboard flavored soup cups, and, from experience, near pulverized pretzel pieces.”

“Ah. Appetizing. I’m Caleb, by the way.” He extended his hand, and the two shook.

“Brooke. Endress.”

“One of our spring interns?”

“Uh, no. I’ve been on staff for over a year now.” Almost two, actually.

He angled his head, brow wrinkled, as if trying to place her.

Good luck with that. Not many people remembered the grunt workers. “My degree’s in broadcast journalism but I’ve been working as a fact checker.”

“That long, huh? You must be good then.”

Or stubborn venturing on desperate. “I do my best.”

“That’s all you can do, right? It’s a tough business, that’s for sure, but that’s how they weed out the professionals from the wanna bes. Most folks expect to find an easy in then quit after a couple years when that doesn’t happen.”

Was this meant to be a pep talk? If so, she’d take it. And the connection. “Listen, would you like my business card? I’ve got some story ideas I’d love to pitch.” Or more honestly, she had some vague ideas she planned to hone into pitches, given enough time. And chocolate.

His lazy smile caused her pulse to stutter. “Sure.”

She dug into her purse then stopped. She’d depleted her on-hand stash of business cards at a convention the previous weekend.

She frowned. “I’m sorry, but I’m all out.”

“No worries.” His grin deepened, and he pulled a wallet from his back pocket. Handed over a thick, textured card. “Shoot me an email any time.”

She blinked. Really? Or was he simply being polite? Didn’t matter. First rule of success in this business—follow every lead.

This one could be it, the door to a thriving career. But first, she needed an attention grabbing pitch.

Brooke spent the rest of her day fighting to stay focused on her assignments rather than brainstorming potential story ideas. For the most part, she failed, ending the day with take home work and a long list of useless blurbs. Many of which her sister tried to improve upon later as they drove home. Her aunt and uncle joined in the discussion over dinner, and by the time Brooke went to bed, her brain was swimming—with hope and insecurities.

The next morning, she woke an hour earlier than normal to research a few of her ideas further, then shoved her notes into her briefcase. Her television flashed on her dresser. She paused to watch Kyanne Louis lead into a breaking news story on LATV5. She studied Kyanne’s smile, counted every head bob, and noted each timely displayed affect.

Brooke eyed her audition tape growing cobwebs on her dresser and sighed. She needed to make a fresh resume reel, one with more punch. More unique stories.

She’d figure something out.

She turned off the television and checked her appearance—navy blazer and skirt, both pressed. Cream blouse, a simple yet sophisticated necklace decorated with pearl teardrops framed in gold. Shoes—leather pumps of appropriate height, also navy. A timeless wardrobe that spoke of responsibility and loyalty.

Perfect for a lawyer or criminal defendant, not an up-and-coming news anchor. But she didn’t have time to change. Besides, going through her wardrobe yet again wouldn’t suddenly bring fashion clarity.

She grabbed her cell phone and smoothed her hair behind her ears. She could do this. Had to. Today, this morning, she’d march—no, walk—into Mr. Echo’s office and ask for a promotion. With Caleb’s invite and Nancy, his co-host’s approaching maternity leave, Brooke couldn’t put off her request any longer. Too many other interns fought for attention.

She pulled her favorite verse, Ephesians 2:10, from her back pocket. “For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” She tucked it back in her pocket. “Not sure about the masterpiece part, but I’ll cling to the promise none-the-less. No meeting, no matter how I flub it, can thwart the plans You have for me.”

Then why did she feel so unsettled?

The smell of fresh brewed coffee and fried bacon drew her to the kitchen. Her younger sister, Aubrey, sat at the table, her beads and twine spread before her. Aunt Isidora stood at the sink washing dishes. Uncle Lester occupied his usual breakfast chair, the one closest to the window. Dressed in a striped, polyester suit and polka-dot tie, he slouched over the newspaper, bushy brows pinched together. I need to take him shopping.

“Good morning, dear.” Aunt Isidora met her with a firm hug. “Hungry?”

Brooke grabbed a mug from the cupboard and filled it. “Mind if I take it to go? I don’t want to be late.”

Uncle Lester dropped his newspaper and rested his hands on his bulbous stomach. “For what?”

“I’m going to ask for a meeting with my boss. See if he’ll finally allow me in front of the camera.”

“About time.” Uncle Lester closed his paper. “After almost two years of pouring his coffee and emptying his trash—”

“I don’t empty his trash.” This was doing nothing to calm her nerves.

“Still, your uncle has a point.” Aunt Isidora pushed a lock of hair from her face with the back of her hand. “You’ve been doing all sorts of odds and ends for that station long enough. And you’re certainly well qualified.” She crossed to where Brooke stood and gave her a sideways hug. “I’m sure your boss will see how prepared you are to take this next step.”

Brooke raised crossed fingers.

Uncle Lester gulped down the rest of his toast, crumbs cascading onto his shirt. “Way I see it, them producers would be fools not to get that face of yours on camera.”

“I appreciate your compliment,” Brooke said, “but like I told Aunt Izzy, it takes more than good looks to make it in the news industry.”

“Yeah, like a hottie boyfriend able to whisk you up that ladder.” Aubrey shot her a wink.

“Stop being stupid.” Why had she ever told Aubrey about her brief interaction with the man? “I do not need any help advancing my career, thank you very much.”

Aubrey raised her hands in mock surrender. “Edgy. Like talons and everything.”

“You drive me crazy, you know that?”

“A little insanity never hurt anyone. But don’t worry. You’ll be free of me soon enough.”

“What do you mean?” She sipped her coffee.

Aubrey beamed. “Guess who’s going on the El Salvador mission trip?”

Aunt Isidora opened her mouth to speak but Uncle Lester touched her hand. “First, we haven’t made a decision yet.” He lowered a firm gaze on Aubrey. “There’s still a great deal to discuss. Second, we told you, if we let you go, it was under one condition.” He turned to Brooke. “That your sister go with you.”

Brooke coughed, spewing brown liquid across the table. She looked from her aunt to her uncle. “You’re not serious, right? This is such a bad time for me.” Had they forgotten how hard she was working to get in front of the camera? She couldn’t possibly take vacation days now. It’d kill her career.

Aubrey frowned. “This is so unfair.”

Uncle Lester crossed his arms. “Sorry, girls. That’s the rules.” He shifted his gaze to Aubrey. “But before you pester your sister to insanity, remember, your aunt and I still have to decide if you can go at all. That trip will cost a lot of money.”

“So I’ll get a job,” Aubrey said.

“To pay my way, too? Because I’m not spending my savings on a third-world vacation.” Brooke grabbed a slice of bacon from the counter and nibbled on the edge. “Besides, last I heard, they hadn’t found a translator.”

Aunt Isadora tidied a dishtowel draped over the oven handle. “The guy who runs the orphanage—what’s his name?”

“Don’t know.” Aubrey strung a blue and white marbled bead onto her growing chain.

Aunt Isadora flicked a hand. “Whatever his name is, he’s got a local teacher friend, a man from San Miguel, who speaks fluent English. Apparently the guy’s translated for North American groups before. Pastor T seems confident he’ll take the job.”

“Regardless, I can’t go.” Brooke crossed her arms and faced her sister. “I don’t care what you say, how much you whine, nag, and pester.”

“Says the woman who spends most of her time hiding in her bedroom.” Aubrey’s hands clenched. “Just because you’re afraid of absolutely every. Little. Thing. Doesn’t mean I have to suffer.”

“Quit being such a drama queen.”

“Girls!” Aunt Isidora rarely raised her voice, so when she did, everyone went silent. She removed her apron and folded it in half. “Let’s not fight.” She patted Aubrey’s hand. “How about you finish getting ready so Brooke and I can talk?”

Eyes hot, Aubrey gave a jerked shrug. “Well, good luck with that.” She stomped off, her flipflops slapping the linoleum.

Aunt Isidora waited until the teen’s bedroom door slammed shut then turned to Brooke. “We understand your feelings regarding this trip, believe me, but Uncle Lester and I are concerned…” She looked from her husband then back to Brooke. “I don’t know how to put this. We really want her to be able to go, but we don’t know Pastor T all that well. And he’s quite young.”

“But I can’t…” This was the definition of a lose-lose situation. Stay home and rob her sister of the opportunity to go on a rite of passage trip, or go and lose any chance of getting that co-host position she’d been pining for. 

~*~
Author bio:

Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. 

As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team put on events at partnering churches designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. 

She writes devotions for Internet Café Devotions, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and edits for Firefly, a Southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

~*~
Book blurb for Healing Love

A news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn't on the agenda.

Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.

Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.

When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of "missional tourists" full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything? 

~*~
Buy Healing Love on Amazon

~*~
Connect with Jennifer:
Website – www.JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte
Twitter - https://twitter.com/jenslattery/
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/jenslatte/
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Monday, July 17, 2017

A Devotional by Novelist and Scriptwriter Jennifer Dornbush

What Do You Do When Your Road is Broken?
A devotional by Jennifer Dornbush, author of God Bless the Broken Road

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
~Matthew 17:20 (NIV)

What do you do when your life takes a turn and you find yourself traveling a broken road? Where do you turn for help when it seems like even God has abandoned you?

These were the top two questions that myself and my script co-scribe, Harold Cronk, started with when we first penned the script version of God Bless the Broken Road that later blossomed into a novel version.

I understood the pain of these questions first hand. I had traveled on the broken road of infertility for over a dozen years. There were many times I felt like God had left me completely. How could he be so cruel as to not give us the gift of children, especially when I had been so faithful to Him all my life? We had never done anything to deserve this. I felt abandoned by Him and completely out of sync with my family, friends, and pretty much all of society. And a lot of days, I still do.

In my new novel God Bless the Broken Road, war widow and single mom, Amber Hill is struggling with her own painful road when she loses her husband to a bomb in Afghanistan. Why would God take away the gift of her husband?

Amber feels she doesn't deserve the suffering and heartache God has put in her path. She's angry, bitter, and determined to "do life" on her own. I get Amber. I've been there. And, like Amber, I've found myself in those yelling matches with God - "Why did you do this to me?! Why would you give me this suffering?!"

When Amber finally reaches her breaking point and has nothing left, she comes to a place where she can be still and hear His voice. T
he voice comes from an unexpected place—I won't give it away—but it's in that moment she is finally able to see that God's goodness and blessing have been surrounding her, even at her lowest point.

I get that too. And you’ve probably been there too. Most of us have had those moments in our struggles where we are at the end of ourselves. We find ourselves in too much in despair to even want to go on.

The good news is that God doesn’t give up on us. Thankfully. He waits by our side until we have so exhausted our own efforts that He can speak into our desperate silence. His voice calls: "Look up. Look around you. See what I have done for you today. Know that I have been with you and I have a future of hope and promise for you." (Jeremiah 29:11)

And that's the message of God Bless the Broken Road. We just need to pay attention to see what God is doing for us today. If we have even the tiniest mustard seed of faith that God is who He says He is, then He can move the mountains of our suffering and bring us into triumph and hope, no matter how broken our path seems.

All we have to do is to open our eyes. Open our ears. Acknowledge Him. See His blessings. And give Him thanks. Thanksgiving...God With Us...God is with us. And believing this truth is what will save us from despair on the broken roads of our lives.

~*~

Author Bio: Jennifer is a writer, speaker, and forensic specialist creating a diverse range of stories that shed light on the dark places of the human experience. 


Her story creation is bred from a very unsheltered childhood as the daughter of a medical examiner whose office was in her home. She investigated her first fatality—an airplane crash—when she was 8-years-old and from there gathered a decade of on-sight experience in death investigation and 360 hours of forensic training through the Forensic Science Academy.

The stories she creates stem from the unique range of human experiences. Because of her background, she does not shy away from telling stories about tough circumstances and how characters choose to deal with them. Jennifer’s characters encounter light in their darkness… redemption where none seems possible…and bits of levity to sweeten the journey.

Her feature film, God Bless the Broken Road, is slated for release in 2017 in conjunction with the novel released on June 6, by the same title published by Simon & Schuster.

Jennifer has several crime-drama series being developed for television and a bilingual kid’s show, Team Abuelita, in production with Baby First TV.

Wanting to share her love of forensics with other storytellers, she scribed non-fiction work, Forensic Speak: How To Write Realistic Crime Dramas, published by Michael Wiese Productions, hailed as a north star to creating authentic crime dramas.

As a forensic specialist, she has consulted with TV writers on network and cable TV shows. She regularly leads seminars and webinars on forensics and crime fiction and has taught screenwriting on the high school and university level and mentored new writers.

Sign up for her newsletter and YouTube channel at www.jenniferdornbush.com.

~*~
Blurb for Jennifer's book: God Bless the Broken Road is a heartwarming story about a grieving army widow who finds her way back to her daughter, her faith, and a new love.

Amber Hill never imagined she would find herself a war widow and single mom. She feels robbed and is angry at God, and she doesn’t know how to help her nine-year-old daughter Bree through her grief. Where, Amber wonders, are the Sunday dinners, the picnics, the bike rides, the time together they should be enjoying as a family? Instead, Amber is left with a folded flag and an empty heart.

Cody Jackson has a death wish. Or at least that is what his manager thinks, as Cody pushes his race car and his luck in every race. Is he hiding something, or just daring God and other racers to end the path of destruction he finds himself on as he rounds the last turn? When Cody encourages Bree to join in a Derby car race for local youth, she finds a way to channel her grief into something good—and she likes that her mom and Cody are starting to become friends—or maybe something more.

Cody invites Amber and Bree to see him race, but as they watch Cody narrowly escape a devastating crash, she realizes she can’t lose another person in her life. It’s better to be alone than feel that type of grief again. But when Amber hits rock-bottom, she cries out to God and asks for help. With her faith, her life, her family, and her heart hanging in the balance, Amber is forced to decide between the broken road she knows so well and trusting that God will provide a new path.


~*~

Buy Jennifer's book on Amazon and AudioBooksNow

Watch the movie trailer for God Bless the Broken Road https://vimeo.com/191227455


~*~
Connect with Jennifer:
Website - www.jenniferdornbush.com

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Summer Love: Jennifer's story about love's healing power


Welcome Jennifer Slattery to the blog! She's written a new book called Healing LoveIt is for the women’s fiction book market and it has a strong romantic thread. This book takes place in two very different locales: Southern California and El Salvador.

Read my interview with Jennifer and find out why this story is close to her heart.

~*~
Interview with Jennifer Slattery, author of Healing Love:

Alexis: “Healing Love” is an interesting title for a book. How did you create it?


Jennifer: The title arose in part from the theme of the book, which is that God’s love, which is often shown through others, brings deep healing. It also stemmed from my core conviction and experience that God is a God of love and healing, a healing that is facilitated as we grow closer to Him and get to know Him more. 

Alexis: Brooke Endress, the heroine of your story, is a news anchor intern who has her eyes on the prize (a career as a broadcast journalist). What can you tell us about Brooke? Describe her personality, dreams and goals.

Jennifer: Brooke is a planner who is incredibly uncomfortable with unknowns and uncertainty. As a planner, she believes her life will go a certain way, and she’s determined to make that happen. She wants to sign on with one of the bigger stations but struggles with “camera fright” that results in frequent blunders she fears will hinder her career.

She also has a deep and protective love for her sister. Though they both live with her aunt and uncle and have since the death of her parents, Brooke has assumed care of her sister and, due to the pain she experienced when her parents died, holds onto her very tightly. A little too tightly. 

Alexis: Why is Brooke so passionate about Journalism? What made it her lifelong dream?

Jennifer: When she was young, she and her dad often played “anchoring.” She’d get all glamoured up in her mom’s dresses and heels (which were adorably too big on her), and she’d read stories or perform while her father recorded her. He began each recording with great fanfare. Those mock recordings are special memories for her, and now that her dad is gone, she is, in many ways, trying to relive them through her career. 

Alexis: How does Brooke’s drive to succeed in that competitive career field affect her dating/love life?

Jennifer: When she begins to fall in love with Ubaldo, she feels confused and uncertain. She wants to surrender to God fully and trust Him with her future, but she harbors distrust having lost her parents. She feels if God didn’t protect her parents then there’s no guarantee as far as she’s concerned. 

Alexis: How does Brooke’s younger sister convince her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador? In what ways does this trip affect the heroine’s journey?

Jennifer: She basically begs, though it’s Brooke’s guilt that wins out. Her aunt and uncle make it clear—if Brooke doesn’t go as a supervising adult, her sister can’t go either. Her sister, frustrated and angry, says that if her dad were alive, she’d be able to go. This statement causes Brooke to process all the losses her sister has experienced and will experience because her parents aren’t alive, and she determines to do whatever necessary to ensure the mission trip opportunity isn’t one of them.

This trip is hard for Brooke on numerous levels. First, she must take two weeks off work when, it appears, she’s just beginning to gain traction in her career. Second, she’s a bit of a germaphobe, and she’s worried about her and her sister getting sick. She’s also incredibly frightened of flying and fears the plane might crash. Then there’s her need for control and her stranglehold on her safety net.

And yet, it is only when she’s thrust into this place of uncertainty that she begins to see the root cause of her fear and heal from it. 

Alexis: What is it about the orphan children in El Salvador that tugs at Brooke’s heart? Describe the thoughts that go through her head as she spends time with the kids.

Jennifer: Having lost both her parents and feeling like an orphan herself, she relates to them on a deep level. And yet, when her world fell apart, she had her aunt and uncle to lean on, whereas these orphan children appear to have no one. This realization helps her to embrace her aunt and uncle’s love on a level she hadn’t been able to before and deepens her empathy for the orphan girls. 

Alexis: Ubaldo Chavez, the hero of this story, works as a teacher and translator in El Salvador. Why did he choose a career in helping people? Describe his background, looks, personality and life goals.

Jennifer: First, he’s incredibly handsome. I had to state that right up front. His skin is the color of a Scooters latté (says the writer with the severe coffee addiction), he’s tall, muscular, has dark hair and eyebrows, and piercing eyes the color of dark chocolate.

He grew up in a small El Salvador village with no electricity or running water and where his family had to fight daily for survival. Though his family is better off than many forced to work in plantations or making bricks, they still struggled and were at the mercy of their circumstances. His father owns a small plot of land, which he farms, and the expectation was that Ubaldo would remain to help. He chose to go to school and pursue a career in education instead.

Having risen above the poverty he grew up in, where he and his siblings were chronically ill from drinking dirty stream water, and having seen first hand the dehumanizing cycle of generational poverty, he’s determined to help his students acquire a better life. If he could just keep them in school and out of the plantations. 


As far as his personality goes, he tends to be a black and white thinker, and he’s very driven in his mission. This can lead to some false perceptions and misunderstandings, and it causes a big wedge between him and his father.

Alexis: What is it about Ubaldo that draws Brooke in and makes him hard to forget?

Jennifer: First, he’s incredibly handsome, and he’s got a strong, protective side she finds attractive. He’s also tender, compassionate, and shows his love for Jesus in his love for orphans and the impoverished. She sees Christ in him, and she finds that irresistible. He’s also got a great deal of wisdom and insight, and as they get to know one another better, she realizes he understands her deeply. 

Alexis: What is it about Brooke that Ubaldo cannot get off his mind? 

Jennifer: At first, he doesn’t like her much. He assumes she’s materialistic and has come to his country to stroke her ego and gain publicity. But then he begins to see deep compassion in her, and that steals his heart, first in how she treats a poor man selling iguanas on the side of the road and then how she loves on the orphans. As he watches her with them, with the others, and with her sister, he begins to see her differently and comes to understand her on a deeper level. 

Alexis: When Brooke falls in love with Ubaldo, how does it affect her career goals?

Jennifer: She’s torn and confused. She carries in her Bible Ephesians 2:10, which tells her she’s God’s masterpiece and that He has a plan for her. Based on this and things her father used to repeat to her and her sister when he was alive, she believes God brought her to El Salvador for a reason. But she also believes she’s meant to be a news anchor. She feels torn and begins to question her original dreams and God’s direction for her. Can she reconcile the two or will she have to give up one for the other?

Alexis: Why does Ubaldo believe that education is key to rise above poverty?

Jennifer: First, this is how he rose above it, but second, in El Salvador, this is reality. So many parents work in the coffee or sugar plantations, where they’re paid maybe a dollar a day. This isn’t enough to live on, so they’re forced to have their children as young as seven and eight work long hours in the fields with them. (And children don’t make as much.) This causes the children to miss large chunks of school or drop out completely.

However, if a child graduates, their outlook is exponentially better. More so if they learn English (which is taught in El Salvador schools). Both of these things enable them to get clerical jobs and thus allow them to break out of the otherwise near-unbreakable cycle of poverty.


Alexis: What were the challenges and joys of writing this book?

Jennifer: This was one of the most painful books I’ve written. It began when our family took a mission trip to El Salvador and we fell in love with the orphans we met. There was one in particular that tugged on my heart. Her name was Jenifer, spelled with one n, and whenever I’d see her, she’d smile and say, “Dos Jennifers!” It was the only time I’d see her smile.

She cried the day we left.

We returned to the states convinced God was calling us to move to El Salvador so that we could love on the orphans and help teach them English and skills that would help them survive once they aged out of the orphanage. But then I got really sick, and we realized God had different plans.

As I was writing, processing my own experiences, talking with our translator (from our trip), and reading articles and reports on the conditions for so many El Salvador children, my heart broke. I couldn’t get these precious little ones out of my mind.

One afternoon, I went for a long walk where I was crying and asking God why He was allowing me to learn all of these things. And a thought, clear and strong, came, as if in answer—He’d allowed me to see but a part of what He witnesses every day as those poor children, His children, endure the unspeakable and cry out to Him for help.

I realized God broke my heart so that I could reveal theirs and His for them so that each of us could prayerfully find a way to be part of life change.


Alexis: What do you want readers to treasure about Healing Love?

Jennifer: God’s deep, unyielding never-failing love and the fact that He can use our deepest hurts, when surrendered to Him, to bring healing to others.

Thanks for the interview, Jen! God bless you.

~*~
Author Bio: 
Author, speaker, and ministry leader Jennifer Slattery writes for Crosswalk.com and is the managing and acquiring editor for Guiding Light Women’s Fiction, an imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She believes fiction has the power to transform lives and change the culture. Healing Love is her sixth novel, and it was birthed during a trip she and her family took to El Salvador that opened her eyes to the reality of generational poverty and sparked a love for orphans and all who’ve experienced loss. 

Her deepest passion is to help women experience God’s love and discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she travels with her team to various churches to speak to women and help them experience the love and freedom only Christ can offer. When not writing, editing, or speaking, you’ll likely find her chatting with her friends or husband in a quiet, cozy coffeehouse. Visit her online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her and her Wholly Loved team at http://www.whollyloved.com/.

~*~
Blurb for Healing LoveA news anchor intern has it all planned out, and love isn't on the agenda. 

Brooke Endress is on the cusp of her lifelong dream when her younger sister persuades her to chaperone a mission trip to El Salvador. Packing enough hand sanitizer and bug spray to single-handedly wipe out malaria, she embarks on what she hopes will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

But Brooke is blindsided by the desperation for hope and love she sees in the orphans’ eyes. And no less by the connection she feels with her handsome translator. As newfound passion blooms, Brooke wrestles with its implications for her career dreams.

Ubaldo Chavez, teacher and translator, knows the struggle that comes with generational poverty. But he found the way out – education – and is determined to help his students rise above.

When he agrees to translate for a mission team from the United States he expects to encounter a bunch of "missional tourists" full of empty promises. Yet an American news anchor defies his expectations, and he finds himself falling in love. But what does he have to offer someone with everything?

~*~
Connect with Jennifer:
Website – www.JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte
Twitter - https://twitter.com/jenslattery/
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/jenslatte/


~*~
Enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below:

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