The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston

The Beloved Hope Chest: Mattie Fisher’s three daughters know that she’s been keeping a secret from them. With each item pulled from the beloved family hope chest, they’ve discovered a new clue about their mother’s past.

But there’s a reason Mattie has been keeping her history hidden, and she’s not sure she’s ready to reopen old wounds. Will dredging up the past change the way her children view her? Or her marriage to their father? And can she handle the pain of revisiting the memories that preceded the last few happy decades?

Mattie’s story is one of grief and learning to love again. But like the best things preserved in a hope chest, it’s a story of love and redemption born out of heartache—and it’s past time to share it.


I really enjoyed The Beloved Hope Chest by Amy Clipston. The characters were well-rounded and thrown into a difficult situation. You could feel Mattie’s grief at the passing of her newborn. And as time went on, you could see her starting to love again like the petals of a flower opening to bloom. And, Leroy was so patient and loving and kept his eyes focused on the prize and not the short-term.

I’m interviewing Amy on my group blog Saturday, so stop on by!


Through the Deep Waters by Kim Vogel Sawyer


Born to an unloving prostitute in a popular Chicago brothel, timid seventeen-year-old Dinah Hubley was raised amidst the secrets held in every dark, grimy room of her home. Anxious to escape, Dinah pursues her dream of becoming a Harvey Girl, waiting tables along the railroad in an upscale hotel. But when she finds out she isn’t old enough, her only option is to accept a job as a chambermaid at the Clifton Hotel in Florence, Kansas. Eager to put everything behind her, Dinah feels more worthless than ever, based on a single horrible decision she made to survive.
The Clifton offers a life Dinah has never known, but blinded to the love around her, Dinah remains buried in the shame of her past. When a handsome chicken farmer named Amos Ackerman starts to show interest, Dinah withdraws further, convinced no one could want a sullied woman like her.  Despite his self-consciousness about his handicapped leg and her strange behavior, Amos resolves to show Dinah Christ’s love. But can she ever accept a gift she so desperately needs?

Heidi here. I loved how Dinah, ashamed of her upbringing, creates an even worse situation for herself before leaving the brothel for good. In running from her past, Dinah is rooted in fear for the majority of the novel, so she builds a wall between others to protect herself. But each time she interacts with Amos, the wall isn’t quite high enough, and they become friends.

With a fresh set of characters, Kim Vogel Sawyer is a master plotter and wordsmith. I enjoyed reading about the Harvey House environment, this time as a chambermaid. I’d highly recommend this novel to others.

I was given an advance reading copy by WaterBrookPress.


Scrivenings Mode ~ A Few Tips

Using Scrivener for Windows recently, I used the Scrivenings mode. 

  1. There is a bug where page-down and page-up do not work like you’d expect them to in a word processor. The arrow keys work fine, and that was my workaround.
  2. Find/replace was complicated to figure out, so I’ll explain. In Scrivenings mode, if your cursor is in a text document, the find/replace works for the one text document you are in. But say you’d like to find for something in your entire manuscript? Just scroll up to the very top of your manuscript. Bring up the FIND box and type what you are looking for. Then click in the very first page of your manuscript. While the cursor is blinking at the top, click the NEXT button on the FIND box. You should find every occurrence within your manuscript! (Yes, you can use SEARCH, but I like find/replace better since it reminds me of Word….)
  3. You can leave Scrivenings mode by clicking elsewhere in the binder, and then return to Scrivenings mode exactly where you left off. I think that may have been a bug at some point, but it worked great for me as I have character files and a todo list that I kept flipping back to. But each time I returned to Scrivenings mode, it remembered where I had left off.

Book Review: Quilted by Christmas by Jodie Bailey

Crave a snowstorm? Want to imagine Christmas and the smell a fresh cut Frasier Fir in August? Pick up Jodie Bailey’s Quilted By Christmas novella!

Tquiltedbychristmasaryn McKenna believes she’s easy to forget. After being abandoned by her parents and left behind when her high school sweetheart joined the army, she vowed to never love again, and threw herself into her love for the outdoors, and the pursuit of a college degree—something no one else in her family had ever accomplished. Her goal, as a young teacher in the hills of North Carolina, is to leave a legacy in the lives of the middle schoolers she teaches.
When Taryn’s grandmother Jemma, the only other person who ever held her close, has a heart attack that reveals a fatal medical condition, Taryn is corralled into helping grandma work on a final quilting project—an Irish chain quilt that tells the story of her history and the love Jemma knows is out there for Taryn. As the pieces of the quilt come together, Taryn begins to see her value. Can she learn to believe that though others have left her behind, God never will?

This novella is a page turner with a complex plot and deep characters as Taryn traverses a serious hospitalization for her beloved grandmother, Jemma, her only relative, and reconnects with her high school sweetheart, Justin. All three have long-kept secrets that, when revealed, change the course of their lives. Author Jodie Bailey evokes emotion from the reader with the depth of her characters and the realism of the setting. The genuine characters, light-hearted humor, and sweet Christmas setting make this a must-read!

Disclosure of Material Connection: As an influencer, I received this book free from NetGalley and the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.


Top 26 Life Skills Teens Need Before Leaving Home

A friend recently asked for a list of things others thought a teen needed to know before they left the house. That got me thinking. There are a bunch of items that most of us have on our radar:

  1. cook (simple things like boxed mac & cheese, grilled cheese)
  2. cook meals
  3. bake from a box
  4. bake from scratch
  5. shop at a grocery store
  6. menu planning
  7. clean a bathroom
  8. clean a house
  9. paint a room
  10. hang a picture
  11. use an ATM card
  12. make deposits/withdrawals at the bank
  13. complete transactions at a grocery store
  14. return an item to a store
  15. do laundry

But here are eleven that I hadn’t given much thought to:

  1. spring/fall cleaning
  2. taxes, or at least the concept of 🙂
  3. how to coupon and check grocery sales fliers
  4. how to make a service appointment
  5. use a drill
  6. adding windshield washer fluid
  7. change a tire
  8. check the car tire pressure
  9. what to do if you get a flat tire on the highway
  10. what happens in the case of a fender bender ~ safe steps to follow
  11. what to do if you are being followed

Can you think of anything I left out? Let me know in the comments section below!


Goal, Motivation, and Conflict

Recently I brainstormed a new novel specifically using GMC (goal, motivation, and conflict). I won’t go over GMC here because Debra Dixon’s GMC book is simply perfect. I will clarify a few key points though that helped when I plotted my latest novel:

Goal: should be very obvious to the reader

Motivation: must be larger than life

Conflict: what keeps her from reaching her goal?

Keep in mind that the GOAL is the vehicle that keeps your story moving forward.

When you are done with the GMC charts, you can write the external and internal GMC in a sentence.

The format of the sentence: My hero WANTS [insert goal here] BECAUSE [insert motivation here] BUT [insert conflict here]. That sentence should sustain your entire novel, or at least from one related turning point to the next. For example:

My heroine WANTS her ex-fiance back BECAUSE he made a mistake dumping her, he was too stressed out in his job back then to make a valid life decision BUT it turns out that ex-fiance is already engaged to someone else, clearly he has moved on.

Remember that a characters GMC can change throughout the course of the book as long as you don’t change their GMC because the goal was too easy to accomplish 🙂 In the above example, Kimber WANTS to get her ex-fiance back, but she discovers that he is already engaged to someone else! Instead of forcing the issue and having her try to get this guy back for the whole book, wouldn’t she look a bit desperate?, I changed her external GMC after the first turning point.

After crafting my turning points, I am off to plot my new novel on a foam board 🙂 Please let me know in the comments section if this explanation clarified GMC for you!


Crafting Turning Points or Disasters

Donald Maass states in his Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook that “A turning point in a story is the point at which things change.” Susan May Warren refers to this change in her Deep and Wide craft book as a series of disappointments (actually, each D gets more dire: disappointment, disaster, destruction, devastation.)

So, turning points or disappointments move your story forward with conflict. Each character has four to five turning points or disasters during the course of the story.

Turning points or disasters are sometimes so hard to get right. They are the moments where your character will come up against a brick wall and have to change their course.

Make sure the turning point or disappointment relates directly to the external conflict from your character’s GMC chart. Remember, your character’s goal should be obvious to the reader. So ask yourself what external conflict your character might face trying to achieve their goal. Make sure the conflict isn’t easy to overcome.

Finally, make sure the turning point or disappointment changes how things look or changes the direction of the plot. Let me know in the comments section if this post helped you! Happy writing 🙂


Extra Thick Apple Pie

baked pieIngredients:

2 frozen deep dish pie crusts
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 lbs of mixed apples (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Braeburn, Cortland, McIntosh), peeled and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon zest

  1. Mix 1/2 cup white sugar and 1/4 cup brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Peel and cut apples into 1/4 inch slices (I used an apple slicer (it cuts the apple into 8 pieces) then cut each slice lengthwise again.
  3. Add the apples and lemon zest to dry mixture and toss to combine.
  4. Transfer apples to a large, thick-bottomed covered pan or Dutch oven and cook, covered, over medium heat, stirring frequently, until apples are just tender when poked with a fork, but still hold their shape – about 15 to 20 minutes (but not so long for the apples to turn into applesauce).

    cooked down apples

    cooked down apples

  5. Preheat oven to 425°F with a baking sheet on a rack on the lowest rung of the oven. You will cook the pie on the lowest rung of the oven to ensure the middle of the pie isn’t doughy.
  6. Put apples in a colander over a bowl to drain excess liquid. Drain off as much juice as possible.
  7. Cook down the drained liquid in the Dutch oven.
  8. Arrange the cooked apples in one frozen piecrust. Pour the thickened apple juice over the apples.
  9. Sprinkle flour on a cutting board or granite countertop. Take the other pie crust from the pan, place flour on top of the dough. Roll. Cut in 1/2 inch strips to create a basket weave on the top of the apples.
  10. Fold dough strips under edge of the pan. Using a fork, flute the edges.
  11. Cut four strips of 2 inch wide aluminum foil. Cover the edges of the pie with the foil so it won’t burn.
  12. Set pie on preheated baking sheet (to catch any juices that may escape from the pie while cooking). Bake at 425°F for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 375°F and cook for an additional 40 minutes, until filling bubbles in the center and crust turns golden brown. (I covered my pie loosely with foil 30 minutes into the cook time so the top would not burn)
  13. Cool, then cut into wedges and serve with vanilla ice cream.


pie b4 baked

Uncooked pie ~ basket weave pattern crust


Book Review: Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter

Want to hear ocean waves and smell salty air? Pick up Aloha Rose by Lisa Carter for an inexpensive jaunt to Hawaii!

aloha roseBackcover copy: When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her only clue is the Hawaiian quilt—a red rose snowflake appliquéd on a white background—in which she was found wrapped as an infant. Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage. Kai Barnes, however, is determined to protect the people
he’s come to regard as family. He thinks Laney is nothing more than a gold digger and blocks every move she makes toward her Hawaiian family. As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing that Kai and Laney both want most—a family.

From the moment Lacey met Kai at the airport, to the end of the novel, romantic tension swirls in the air. Though I loved the romance storyline, I most loved how broken Lacey was at the beginning of the novel, and the journey she endured through the course of the story. Lacey learns and fights and grows, very admirable traits. I also loved the setting: the constant sun, sudden storms, ocean waves, and salty air all made the read, during our chilly fall, more enjoyable!

Disclosure of Material Connection: As an influencer, I received this book free from Abington Press and the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.



Book Review: High-Stakes Holiday Reunion by Christy Barritt

higstakesholidayreunionIf you want a solid suspense filled read, pick up High-Stakes Holiday Reunion, you will not be disappointed!

Backcover copy: When Christopher Jordan sees the fear in Ashley Wilson’s eyes, he knows he can’t let her request for help go unanswered. Despite their tumultuous history, he’s the only person his ex-fiancée can trust to find her kidnapped nephew. But how can Christopher trust her when he finds out that Ashley’s “nephew” is actually his son, the one she never told him about? With a terrorist cell convinced Ashley holds the key to accessing top secret government files, time is running out. And Christopher will stop at nothing to bring their little boy home in time for Christmas.

I really enjoyed High-Stakes Holiday Reunion,with a well thought out plot, three dimensional characters, and solid writing, it was one of those books that was hard to put down at night. The chapters were fairly short, so I kept reading and reading and yes, was exhausted a few mornings in a row! I especially enjoyed the renewed romance between Ashley and Christopher, and the twist with the kidnapped nephew.

This was my first read by Christy Barritt and it won’t be my last. I see she wrote the Squeaky Clean mysteries (Hazardous Duty is free for the kindle at the time I wrote this review), they are highly starred 🙂

Disclosure of Material Connection: As an influencer, I received this book free from Love Inspired and the author. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.