#TakeoverTuesday with Annie Just Commonly

It’s Takeover Tuesday and Annie Just Commonly and I are swapping blogs for today. You can catch my interview on her blog, and I’m giving away a copy of Secret Service Setup, so head over there next.

Welcome Annie!  Let’s get to know more about you in a formal way and then we’ll get to more personal stuff when we play Would You Rather!

Just Commonly, AKA Annie is an avid reader turned blogger.  She is the mind behind  Just Commonly  blog, sharing what she loves most – Jesus & all things book and bookish . She’s a big fan of all Christian fiction, as well as books in the Young Adult, Middle Grade and even Kids Fiction genre. She’ll test out recipes from cookbooks and share thoughts from biographies to books on nutrition, spiritual help or just any book that struck her fancy. Next to reading, her other interests includes spending time with family and friends, eating, playing with her miniature schnauzer pups, Gabby and Reagan, and somehow challenge her non-existent athletic abilities to improve (tremendously) her tennis and golf game. 

Annie is proud to be one of the founding stewards of the  Christian Fiction Readers Retreat  (CFRR). CFRR is a one day event gathering of Christian Fiction readers and authors, with a focus theme of “Honoring God through Christian Fiction.”  It features speaker sessions, author panels, breakout sessions, prayer & worship and author signings.  You can reach Annie on her blog, Just Commonly , Facebook , Twitter  or Instagram.,

 

Y’all for real, go check out CFRR. It’s a great line-up!

Now on to a former game I played often on the blog. I’m resurrecting it for today. It’s all bookish questions and if you comment below…you’ll be entered for a chance to win one of Annie’s favorite historical romances by one of her favorite historical romance authors, Karen Witemeyer, which makes me super happy because Karen is one of my FAVORITE historical romance authors too! And I loved A Tailor Made Bride!

Would You Rather…

1. Read your favorite book over and over, or read any other book but never get to read your favorite again? So, I don’t like this question. I mean, that’s hard. Are you saying this is FOREVER? Do I really have to CHOOSE?  

 
2. Meet a “book boyfriend” in real life or the author who created him? Totally the author. I mean we can gush together about him and even think of some names to call him, like McDreamy or McSteamy – wait, those are taken. The lovely thing about book boyfriends are the very fact that they are fictional, and the mind behind that created them are worth exploring more, don’t you think? 
 
3. Be saved by a military hero or a law enforcement hero? LAW ENFORCEMENT HERO – OK, no disrespect there, but I have my reasons. I’m kinda partial to a Gibbs, Tony, Booth…etc. Wow, 2 out of 3 are also military (at least ex). Hmmm…
 
 4. Be the heroine or the sidekick? Totally sidekick. I love being the sidekick. You get to enjoy all the fun while being the sensible one. Right?! 
 
 5. Live in the pages of a historical or a thriller? Historical – I think. Ask me again tomorrow.  
 
 6. Read only setting on the coast or only settings in the South? Coast…I think. OK, ask me again tomorrow. 
 
7.  Read paperbacks or digital books? PRINT ALL THE WAY! I love the touch, the smell, the look. How can you admire the book and it’s beauty while it’s stuck inside a screen? 
 
 8. Read your favorite author forever or only get to read new authors from now on? I love favorite authors, but I think variety is good. WAIT. Is this a forever scenario like I can’t read any more of theirs?  Jesse, I’m beginning to not like these questions. 😬
 
9. Fall in love with a spy hero or an undercover agent hero? Undercover agent hero. Spies are overrated – OK, maybe also too much James Bond.
 
10. Be a damsel in distress or a rescue-the-hero heroine? Rescue-the-hero heroine’s sidekick. 😉 I mean sidekicks have some great moves!
 
Such great answers and they made me laugh. Yep, they had to get a little harder as we went. 😉 Thanks for being such a fantastic sport. I’m so glad we swapped blogs today. I love having you here. 

Givewaway-Tailor-Made bride

 

 

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Visit Annie’s blog and enter for a chance to win a signed copy of Secret Service Setup, my newest release! 

All About Valentine’s Day and Romance with Carrie Schmidt!

Can I just say how super-sweet it is to have Carrie Schmidt (you may know her through Reading is My Superpower blog and Facebook page). Let me tell you a little about this precious lady.

Carrie  is an avid reader, book reviewer, story addict, KissingBooks fan, book boyfriend collector, and cool aunt. She also loves Jesus and THE Story a whole lot. A reviewer for RT Book Reviews and a co-founder of the Christian Fiction Readers’ Retreat, Carrie lives in Kentucky with her husband Eric and their quirky dog Zuzu. She can be found lurking at various blogs and websites (because she can’t stop talking about books) but her main home is the blog she started in 2015 – ReadingIsMySuperPower.org.

She’s been super precious to me and I’m glad she’s here.  Waving at you, Carrie! I asked her some questions about romance, Valentine’s Day, and of course books. You’re going to love her answers and guess what? She’s giving away a Romance Trope and Book Boyfriend candle to 2 lucky winners! (U.S. Only, the entry form will be below.

So, let’s talk romance, books, and Valentine’s Day.

How old were you when you were drawn into the romance genre? What book hooked you?

I was probably 11 or 12, something like that, when I discovered Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke. One read was all it took, and the rest is history 😊

What was it about that book that caused you to fall in love with the romance genre?

I have always loved romance – from the moment I first watched Prince Charming dance with Cinderella. But Love Comes Softly showed me that fictional romance could go beyond Disney’s definition, that it could include real life & history & friendships. And that, in the process of telling me a great story about two people who fall in love, it could also help me fall in love with God a little more too.

Why do you think women love to read romance? Is this why you love romance? If not, tell us what it is you love about this genre?

I really think women love to read romance because it’s part of that ‘eternity’ that God has placed in our hearts (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We crave these romance reads where some form of Prince Charming comes riding in on some form of a white horse, rescues us (I mean…the heroine), and we (I mean…they) lived happily ever after… because it’s the story God’s been telling from the beginning! We are the Bride of Christ & one day Jesus will come riding in on a literal white horse (see Revelation 19) and rescue us for the ultimate happily ever after (Revelation 21). So I think it’s just part of our soul’s DNA and, because we’re still waiting for it to play out in reality, we gobble up these little reflections of it in the meantime. And all that to say (lol) – that’s what I love about reading romance! It reminds me that I’m living in an even greater Story with an even better HEA that one day will actually come true. And… you know… the hot heroes and swoony kisses don’t hurt either.

Oh my word! I agree too. It’s why I love to write it. I have to share that Divine Romance with readers!! Love this so much. And uh, no they don’t!  

Describe the perfect romantic hero? (Have you found this hero in a book or are you still waiting on him?)

The perfect romantic hero? Hmm.. that’s a tough one. Because so much of it depends on the story itself, the reader’s personal preference and the chemistry with the heroine. But for me? It never hurts if he resembles Henry Cavill (just sayin), if he speaks in some sort of accent, if he’s flirty and/or smoldering, if falling in love takes him by surprise but hits him hard emotionally and (on that note) if he’s not afraid to share emotion when appropriate. He needs to love more than himself, and he needs to be a protector at heart. And a good kisser. But … looking like Henry Cavill gets you a lot of grace on these other points 😉

Have I found him yet? I believe so. But currently it’s a 5-way tie. And interestingly enough, three of them favor Henry Cavill a great deal. LOL! At least I’m consistent. (I remember one of your heroes looking suspiciously like Henry too 😉 ) (Jess here: Yes, I did use Henry but not for Holt! For Griffin Noble, but you see how you want. I don’t mind!) Anyway, I had a book boyfriends shirt made with five of my very faves, and the guys include:

#myJames (aka James MacDonald from Carla Laureano’s Five Days in Skye)

Ty Porter (from Becky Wade’s Meant to Be Mine)

Charlie Lionheart (from Joanne Bischof’s The Lady & The Lionheart)

Vance Everstone (from Dawn Crandall’s Everstone Chronicles)

Wes Harrison (from Pepper Basham’s Just the Way You Are)

I adored Charlie Lionheart and Ty Porter. I also need to step up my game and read and these other books! Do you have a favorite romance sub genre? Why is it your favorite?

I love romantic suspense. Because as long as I’ve loved romance, I’ve also loved mysteries. Nancy Drew is my home girl. (Do people say that anymore? Lol) But my favorite Nancy Drew stories were the ones when she teamed up with the Hardy Boys because, let’s face it, Frank Hardy made a better book boyfriend than Ned Nickerson. (sorry Ned) Getting to read a romantic suspense ties both of these loves together for me, plus the tension created from the suspense adds to the romantical tension which is another win-win.

Yes! I mean how can this rom/suspense writer who always throws in mystery not love that answer. Have you ever thought about writing your own romance novel? Why or why not?

Thought about it? Yes. Will I ever actually write one? Probably not. Mainly because a) I don’t think I have that specific kind of talent and b) it would cut into my reading time too much lol.

What is one romance novel that has stuck with you over many years? Why do you think that is?

Newlywed Games by Mary Davis. I don’t exactly know why it’s stuck with me for so long but I think one of the reasons is because it was really the first Christian fiction I read that showcased the kind of romantic tension that makes you forget to breathe. The chemistry between Bruce and Meghann is AMAZING and electric and oh-so-swoony. Also I think this is the book that started my love of the ‘fake marriage’ trope, which is really a derivative of the marriage-of-convenience story that Love Comes Softly spearheaded. It all comes full circle 😊

Okay, I gotta read this book! Wow! Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? Some people don’t want to be told to do something special on one day but feel romance and kind gestures should be done all throughout the year, which I agree, but I love Valentine’s Day. Might be because it’s the anniversary of the first date with my husband (24 years ago!) What’s your take on this day?

As a kid, I loved Valentine’s Day! My parents made it so special for us. From the special meal my mom would make (complete with hearts cut out of just about any food she could, even the butter) to the scavenger hunts that would send us scurrying all over the house to find the next clue and – eventually – our candy gifts. As an adult, Valentine’s Day hasn’t been nearly that much fun haha! But it will always be special to me because in my senior of college this guy (who happened to be one of my best friends) decided to boycott Valentine’s Day by going to see You’ve Got Mail together (yeah, just about everyone saw through that except us). A year and a half later, we got married ❤

I love this! How fun! Have you read many romance novels set around Valentine’s Day? Which ones do you recommend? (I read Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh and took that idea last year, stringing paper hearts all over for my man to read. He was so surprised and saved them!)

Ok, now you’re really making me think!! LOL. Honestly?!? I know that there are some, but I haven’t read many. I’m not sure why. Totally seems like my thing. I definitely recommend Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh and The Cupcake Dilemma by Jennifer Rodewald. Other books that people have recommended to me (but I haven’t read yet) are Once Upon a Winter’s Heart by Melody Carlson, Secretly Yours by Valerie Comer and Operation Valentine by Elizabeth Maddrey.

If your special someone gave you a gift for Valentine’s Day that was solely focused on a book/reading them, what would that gift (day or weekend!) look like?

Ooooo what a fun question! I have always loved the idea of this bookstore date from The Dating Divas! And I really really want one of these adorable custom bookish blankets from Sweet Sequels on Etsy!

I love the Dating Divas site! I just printed some stuff from there for this lovely week! I’m spoiling my man because he ALWAYS spoils me!

Thank you so much for being here today, Carrie! It’s been fun. Readers and writers, you can also connect with Carrie on Facebook @ meezcarriereads and everywhere else social at @meezcarrie.

Enter for a chance to win 1 of 2 Novelly Yours candles! 

 

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On the 8th Day of Christmas…

My authors gave to me…

Deep Waters (and an adorable Christmas ornament) by moi… 

An adorbs book cozy from Susan Tuttle 

The Memory of You by Catherine West

A Child’s Christmas Wish by Erica Vetsch

On Love’s Gentle Shore + tote bag from Liz Johnson

The Gift of Twins by Gabrielle Meyer

The Rancher’s Mistletoe Bride by Jill Kemerer

Christmas Captive  by Liz Johnson

What is this I’m talking about? The 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway is BACK!

 

You read that right! Each day the prizes have been building and new winner is drawn daily. On Day 12, the grand prize winner will be drawn and he/she will win all 10 books, bonus gifts, & a Kindle Fire 8!

Just now getting in on the fun? You’re not too late to revisit the prior blogs from Day 1-Day 8 and enter to win. You can enter every single day! Tomorrow, don’t forget to stop by Bethany Turner’s! Her link is below.

Here is the line up:

12/1 Liz Johnson
12/2 Jill Kemerer 
12/3 Gabrielle Meyer 
12/4 Liz Johnson 
12/5 Erica Vetsch
12/6 Cathy West 
12/7 Susan Tuttle 
12/8 Jessica Patch 
12/9 Bethany Turner
12/10 Lindsay Harrel
12/11 Karen Barnett 
12/12 Liz Johnson 

 

Also, if you’re looking for a holiday read to cozy up with while you wait to see if you’re a winner for these sweet prizes above, may I suggest Hope Under Mistletoe? If you love Hallmark movies, holiday romances, and swoon-worthy heroes, plus a beautiful redemption story, then this is the book for you! And only .99 cents! You can purchase it NOW on AMAZON

Merry Christmas, friends!

*Forward Friday will return next week! 

 

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Trusting God in the Deep Waters

I admit, I’m a terrible swimmer. I still hold my nose and if shoved under, I will surface choking and coughing. I might be able to save my life and I’d hope one of my kids if necessary, but anyone my size or bigger…you’re just not gonna make it. 

The shallow end was my preferred territory as a kid. While my siblings jumped off docks and into deep water, I was content to sit near the shore and play in the sand. Okay, that’s a lie. I wasn’t content. I pretended to be content. In the marrow of my bones, I longed to run and jump off the dock and into deep waters. I dreamed of diving off the diving board with friends at camp. Instead, I lied (yes at church camp, clearly I needed it) and said I wasn’t following the herd. I talked people out of diving off the diving board with some of my words. I held others back from the deep waters…because I was too afraid to take the plunge.

In my relationship with Jesus, I’ve played too many years in the shallow end and watched too many friends enjoy the deep waters. 

The deep waters are a place where you can’t see beneath you. Can’t touch. Can’t see land. Without markers, how will you find your way back to shore? Deep waters contain vicious beast that want to devour you like sharks, jelly fish–okay not devour but definitely sting–among many other freaky creatures.

But Jesus call us to deep places.

“When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.'” Luke 5:4 NLT

It’s in the deep places, if we’re obedient, we find our truest calling and passion. It’s where our lives become a testimony. Where we can walk over waves. Where we drown in grace and are buoyed by faith.

Simon Peter didn’t want to go out into the deep. But because he did, they hauled a major load of fish. So much the boat nearly sank. NEARLY.

“Then Peter called to him, ‘Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.’

‘Yes, come,’ Jesus said.

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.” Matthew 14:28-29 NLT

It was in the deep waters where Peter walked with Jesus.

Fear is a hindrance from launching into the deep.

Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of uncertainty. Fear of (fill in the blank). 

In my new release, Deep Waters, my heroine is terrified to trust God due to past hurt and failure. She’s watched too many people suffer and refuses to suffer too. Maybe you can relate to Caley.

It’s easy to say we trust God in the shallow waters where our feet touch and we’re delusional enough to believe we have full control of our lives, our situations, and our circumstances. 

“The truth is we’ll never know until we launch out and allow our faith to be tested. Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” James 1:3 MSG

Question: Is there an area in your life that God is calling you into deep waters? Would you be bold enough to share it? I’ll be praying for you.

I’m giving away a copy of Deep Waters. Paperback for U.S. citizens and e-book for those of you abroad! 

 

 

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Deep Waters Summer Prize Package! Enter to Win.

Hey everyone! I’m super excited to celebrate a milestone in my writing career. Deep Waters marks my 5th Love Inspired Suspense AND the 1st book in a new 3-book series that covers an elite team of private security specialists. Their mission is to protect and they’lll go down in a blaze to follow through with their promises! 

I love these characters so much and the series kicks off in a fictional Florida small town called Turtle Bay. Deep Waters was a super fun and emotional story to write. My heroine is a marine-life vet who speicalizes in sea turtles (so that’s a big theme!) and my hero works for her older brother at Covenant Crisis Management (the private security company).

It will release on Kindle July 1 and in paperback on July 4! So to celebrate I’m hosting a month-long Summer Prize Package that includes lots of goodies:

A signed paperback of Deep Waters, an adorable sea turtle knicknack, a summer tote, beach towel, a drink cup and an adult ocean themed coloring book with colored pencils. You’re all ready for the beach or summer sunning and then some! 

Enter the rafflecopter below to win. U.S citizens only 18+ 

 

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