Category Archives: writing

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a work in progress


Facebook is a great place to connect with friends and, for authors, it’s a great place to connect with readers. I’ve had an author page on FB for several years – maybe you already follow me there – but the ways FB chooses to show our business pages keeps changing and now it’s even harder to get people who like that page to see my posts. So if you aren’t seeing my posts, how are we going to connect? Ugh.

I’ve heard that a better way to connect there is to have a group connected to my author page, and I’ve actually been thinking about having a private group where I share things first – cover reveals, snippets of what I’m writing, what I’m working on, new releases, etc. for a while now. So I went for it. THE GROUP IS NOW LIVE and I’d love for you to join me there.

When considering a name for the group, I brainstormed several but kept coming back to “a work in progress”, because it perfectly describes not only the books I’m working on but me. Especially at this moment when I’ve been focusing so much on my spiritual life and having more quiet time with God. I am a constant work in progress, and I’ll probably share some of that journey with you all in that group as well.

So if you enjoy my books, come on over and join the group HERE. If you haven’t read any of my books yet but would like to, join the group and you’ll get a free book to get you started. :)

side by side

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One of the things I really loved about writing Until Then was the fact that several of the scenes and situations from Goodbye, Magnolia were told from Michelle’s perspective, giving her view of some of those key events in Maggie’s life, which happened to be key moments in her own life as well. To me, once Michelle’s story was told, it really filled in the events of Magnolia and beyond and made the series feel complete.

Since it’s nearing Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to share part of the Valentine’s Day scene from both of the girls’ viewpoints side by side. Read Maggie’s from Goodbye, Magnolia first on the left, then go back and read Michelle’s from Until Then to get the things that were going through her mind at the time. :)

GOODBYE, MAGNOLIA | Valentine’s Day
Maggie’s perspective

The door jingled again. “Maggieee!”

She was startled, but jumped up as soon as she saw who it was. “Michelle?” Maggie hugged her former roommate. “Oh my goodness! What are you doing in Hastings?”

“Can’t I just stop by and visit my roomie?”
 The girls took a seat together on the sofa.

“Of course. It’s been way too long.” Maggie tucked her legs up under her.

“It’s good to see you,” Michelle said.

“You, too. You look great.” She noticed Michelle’s usually long brunette tresses had been trimmed just above her shoulders. It was a good look on her. “How’s Jeremy? Any big plans tonight?”

Michelle shrugged her shoulders. “I have no idea how he is. We aren’t seeing each other anymore.”

“Oh, Chelle.” She was sad for her friend. Michelle and Jeremy had been dating for a couple years. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s no big deal, Mags.” She dismissed it casually. “We’ve been broken up for a few months now.”

Maggie was a little shocked that this was the first she had heard of their breakup. “I guess it’s been longer than I thought since we last talked. Are you seeing anyone new?”

“Not really.” Michelle paused. It seemed like she was going to say more, but she didn’t. Instead, she dug into her purse for some money. “How ‘bout you? Any big Valentine’s plans?”

“Just me and Billy.” She nodded toward Bill, who happened to look up at her at that moment and grin.

“Friend of yours?” Michelle asked.

“He and his sister own the place.”

“Ah.” Michelle laid her purse next to Maggie. “Be right back.” She walked to the counter and ordered.

Maggie watched out the front window as more couples and groups of couples passed by on the sidewalk. It was a clear night, not a cloud in the sky, which made for bitter cold temperatures. She imagined all of the couples snuggling to keep each other warm and suddenly felt a little sick to her stomach.

Michelle returned to the sofa and turned to face Maggie. “So, what’s it like having another studio right down the street from yours?” She took a sip of her coffee.

Maggie tensed up at the mention. “It’s nice that he wants to help his uncle and everything, but what about his studio in Grand Rapids? Who’s taking care of that?”

“Oh, he hired someone as his office manager,” Michelle replied. “Some pretty young thing just out of college. And he travels back and forth. He works some days here, some days there.”

She rolled her eyes. “Well, he should just stay out of Hastings and leave me alone.”

“So you’ve seen him,” Michelle remarked.

Maggie nodded.

“Hmmm, I’m sensing a little bitterness.”

She didn’t feel like rehashing their run-ins over the past couple months. “The thing is, he’s everywhere in this little town. And I can’t seem to get through an entire week without him bringing up his darn proposal.”

“What proposal?” Michelle sounded concerned.

The door jingled again.

Maggie scrunched up her nose at Michelle. “Speak of the devil,” she whispered.

“Oh, sorry,” Michelle spoke quietly as she stood up. “Did I forget to mention that I asked him to meet me here? We’re going to dinner.”

Simon greeted Michelle with a bear hug and a quick kiss on the lips. “You ready to go?” he asked.

Michelle pointed in her friend’s direction. “Coffee with Maggie.”

Maggie held her hand up and shook her head. “Oh, no, that’s OK. Don’t let me keep you.” As much as she liked catching up with Michelle, she hoped they would leave.

Simon glanced over at Maggie. “Coffee sounds great.”

She suddenly felt like bolting as she watched Simon walk to the counter.

“I guess we’ll have to finish our conversation later.” Michelle nodded in Simon’s direction. “You’re welcome to come out with us tonight. It’ll be like our old college days.”

“Oh, please, no.” Maggie had always hated being around Michelle and Simon when they were in college, and there was nothing that would convince her to go out with them now.

Michelle took another sip of her coffee.

Simon returned and took the seat closest to Michelle. He gave her knee a squeeze. “Long time no see.”

Michelle grabbed his knee and squeezed back as tight as she could. This was a game they played in college. Who knew why they found this type of pain amusing. Michelle was never a match for Simon and always ended up screeching as he tightened his grip on her knee.

Ow! Uncle! Uncle!” she cried.

“Well,” Maggie spoke as she stood. “That’s enough of a college flashback for me.” She tucked her magazine in her bag and slid her coat on.

“Hot date tonight, Canon?” Simon’s gaze was intense.

She gave him a sarcastic grin.

“Come with us, Maggie,” Michelle begged her friend one last time. “Simon will pay.”

“What am I paying for?” He grabbed her knee again.

“Our dinner.” She smacked his hand off.

“You guys have a nice time.” She leaned over and gave Michelle a hug. “We’ll get together again soon and finish that conversation.”

“You bet.” Michelle kissed her on the cheek. “Call me.”

Maggie was ten steps down the sidewalk when she realized she had forgotten her half finished coffee. She walked back to get it, but stopped when she spotted Simon watching her through the window. They held eye contact for a moment before he looked back at Michelle.

She decided to abandon her poor latte.

  UNTIL THEN | Valentine’s Day
Michelle’s perspective

When she opened the door to the quaint coffee shop, she was hit with the wonderful aroma of coffee beans. She was elated to find Maggie sitting on a cozy leather couch just inside the door.

“Maggieee!” she cried.

Maggie was startled. “Michelle?” She jumped up as soon as she realized who it was. “Oh my goodness! What are you doing in Hastings?”

“Can’t I just stop by and visit my roomie?” They sat together on the couch.

“Of course. It’s been way too long.” Maggie tucked her legs up under her.

“It’s good to see you,” Michelle said. Maggie looked beautiful, as usual, but her eyes appeared tired.

“You, too. You look great.” She grinned. “How’s Jeremy? Any big plans tonight?”

Michelle shrugged. “I have no idea how he is. We aren’t seeing each other any more.”

Two years was a long time to stay in a relationship that was going nowhere, but that’s exactly what Michelle had done. Jeremy was nice and treated her well. He was respectful and loved God. He had filled a void left in her life when Simon became too busy to spend time with her.

… (left out a big chunk of the story about her relationship with Jeremy only for this post because it was quite a long section and I wanted to focus on the conversation) …

“Oh, Chelle,” Maggie said sadly. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s no big deal, Mags.” She dismissed it casually. “We’ve been broken up for a few months now.”

Maggie looked a little shocked. “I guess it’s been longer than I thought since we last talked. Are you seeing anyone new?”

“Not really.” Michelle paused. She wanted to mention going out with Simon, but she didn’t want to spoil their conversation. She opened her purse to find some cash instead. “How ‘bout you? Any big Valentine’s plans?”

“Just me and Billy.” Maggie nodded toward the goateed man with the hipster glasses standing behind the counter. He looked over at her and grinned.

“Friend of yours?” Michelle asked.

“He and his sister own the place,” Maggie explained.

“Ah.” Michelle laid her purse next to Maggie. “Be right back.” She walked to the counter and ordered a latte from Billy.

While she waited, she glanced over at Maggie, who was staring out the window at the people passing by. She looked deep in thought, and Michelle wondered how she was really doing. As far as she knew, Maggie had not dated anyone since Ben. This worried her, because Maggie was so capable of love. She hoped and prayed that one day her friend would find happiness with a wonderful guy.

Michelle returned to the couch and sat facing Maggie. “So, what’s it like having another studio right down the street from yours?” She took a sip of her coffee.

Maggie tensed up at the mention. “It’s nice that he wants to help his uncle and everything, but what about his studio in Grand Rapids? Who’s taking care of that?”

“Oh, he hired someone as his office manager. Some pretty young thing just out of college.” She had never met Simon’s new assistant, Anna, but he had described her as a blonde bombshell. “And he travels back and forth,” Michelle continued. “He works some days here, some days there.”

Maggie rolled her eyes. “Well, he should just stay out of Hastings and leave me alone.”

“So you’ve seen him,” Michelle remarked.

Maggie nodded.

Hmmm, I’m sensing a little bitterness.”

“The thing is, he’s everywhere in this little town. And I can’t seem to get through an entire week without him bringing up his darn proposal.”

Michelle got a nervous feeling in her stomach. “What proposal?” The bells on the door jingled.

Maggie scrunched her nose at Michelle. “Speak of the devil,” she whispered.

“Oh, sorry,” Michelle spoke quietly as she stood. “Did I forget to mention that I asked him to meet me here? We’re going to dinner.”

Simon greeted Michelle with a bear hug and a quick kiss on the lips. “You ready to go?” he asked.

Michelle pointed in her friend’s direction. “Coffee with Maggie.”

Maggie held up her hand and shook her head. “Oh, no, that’s OK. Don’t let me keep you.”

Simon glanced over at Maggie. “Coffee sounds great.” He walked to the counter.

“I guess we’ll have to finish our conversation later.” Michelle nodded in Simon’s direction. “You’re welcome to come out with us tonight. It’ll be like our old college days.”

“Oh, please, no,” Maggie replied.

Michelle took another sip of her coffee, amused by her friend’s response. Maggie obviously still couldn’t stand Simon, and that gave Michelle feelings of satisfaction and relief.

Simon returned to the table and took the seat closest to Michelle. He gave her knee a squeeze. “Long time no see.”

Michelle grabbed his knee and squeezed back as hard as she could. He squeezed harder.

She cried out. “Ow! Uncle! Uncle!”

“Well,” Maggie spoke as she stood. “That’s enough of a college flashback for me.” She tucked the magazine she had been reading into her bag and slid on her coat.

“Hot date tonight, Canon?” He had a look in his eye that Michelle recognized—a flirtatious look she’d seen him give many girls in the past. She hated that he was looking at Maggie that way, and tried her best to ignore it.

Maggie gave him a sarcastic smirk, which pleased Michelle.

“Come with us, Maggie.” Michelle repeated her invitation. “Simon will pay.”

He grabbed her knee once more. “What am I paying for?”

“Our dinner.” She smacked his hand off.

Maggie leaned over and hugged Michelle. “You guys have a nice time. We’ll get together again soon and finish that conversation.”

“You bet.” Michelle gave her a final squeeze and kissed her on the cheek. “Call me.”

Michelle glanced over at Simon, whose gaze was fixed on Maggie as she walked out.

To continue reading and get the complete story, THE CORNERSTONE SERIES is on sale for Valentine’s Day – 50% OFF the original price NOW thru February 14th. CLICK HERE!

cover reveal | 18 Hours to Us

The title and cover for this novel came pretty quickly to me after I started writing it in early June, and so many times this summer I was itching to share. This past weekend, my newsletter subscribers got the first look. So now I’m revealing it to the world. No release date set in stone for this one yet. I’m hoping by the time the leaves fall and the first snow hits the ground that it will be in your hands (or on your Kindles). ;)

If you’re on Goodreads, the book is listed there and you can hop on over and add it to your “to read” list.

WHAT’S THE BOOK ABOUT?

When Natalie Rhodes left her house early that fateful morning to catch the bus to her senior class trip, she never expected to end up in a car with Colton Daynes–the guy she’s had a crush on since first grade, the guy who has no idea who she is. But when Colton’s irresponsible driving causes them both to miss the bus, the unlikely pair set off on a road trip from Michigan to Virginia Beach to catch up with their classmates.

From the tiny village of Middleville, the popular football star and the quiet gymnast will navigate back roads and highways, travel from lake towns to waterfalls to mountaintops and beyond, all the while fielding texts from Colton’s friends and mean girl, Lexi, who also happens to be Colton’s girlfriend.

Hours spent together on the road will lead them to places they’ve never been, discovering hidden talents, revealing secrets and fears. And they just might realize they have more in common than they know.

:)

don’t worry!

all3woodfloor
Something I’ve been dealing with the past week or two has been letting go of things I cannot control, which has always been a challenge for me. When I wrote Goodbye, Magnolia, I put a lot of myself into the character of Maggie, one of those characteristics being that she just can’t seem to let go and trust that God has a plan, that He sees the big picture when we can’t. It’s something I’m constantly re-learning in my life, something I fail at often. Because even though I know that God’s in control and truly believe it in my heart, I’m still human and I make mistakes and I’m not too proud to admit that. Every time I go through times like this, my mind returns to the verse that says “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Nope! But I still do it.

My husband’s car broke down last week. I worry about it getting fixed so I don’t have to drive him back and forth to work.

Dad’s got a heart catheterization coming up to make sure his heart is all good and can handle liver transplant surgery. I worry about that, for sure.

My daughter is currently without a gym as we chose to leave the gymnastics team she competed with last season. I worry about finding a new gym for her for this year.

I’ve got a sale coming up on my 3-book set at the end of the week. I worry about promoting it well, whether it will be a successful sale, and if I will make the money back that I paid to advertise it.

These are only a few of the things weighing on my mind these past weeks, and everything kind of came to a head this weekend, leaving me feeling quite overwhelmed.

But when I step back and look at each of these things individually, I know they will all work out. One thing at a time. Jake will get his car fixed. Dad’s heart doctor will tell us if he finds anything troubling and it will get fixed. We will find a gym for Chloe. And even if only one person buys the book set during the sale, then that person was probably the only one that was meant to read it and that’s OK. ;)
So, I’m learning and growing (hopefully), and I’m praying that next time I feel the worry coming on, I’ll say, “Nope! Don’t need to worry about that. God’s brought you through a lot worse than this.”

I’m sure I’m not the only worrier out there, so here is the passage I mentioned in case you need to be reminded of this today, too:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life.”
Matthew 6:25-27

Have a blessed week!

the Cornerstone series

CORNERSTONEcoverweb
 
 
May has always been my month for releasing my books. In May 2014, my first novel, The Truth About Drew, came out. The following year it was Goodbye, Magnolia, and then last May I released Until Then. So when this May rolled around, it left me feeling a little sad that I didn’t have a new release for you. I am writing my next novel right now, but it might not come out until next May. I’d love to get it to you before that, but I’d be OK with another May release. And it takes place in the summer, so it’s going to be a nice beach read.

For quite a while now, I’ve been wanting to put all of the books in my Cornerstone series into a boxed set eBook. I loved the idea of having them all in one eBook so readers could gobble them all up at one time. ;)

One major change I made when putting this eBook together was to move the epilogue of Goodbye, Magnolia to the very end of the series. At the end of that book, we jump forward in time nearly a year and you see where Maggie and Simon end up. The second book, Hello, Forever, which is the sequel novella, then jumps back to the same night Goodbye, Magnolia ends and continues on for a couple months into the early days of Maggie & Simon’s relationship. The final book, Until Then, tells Michelle’s story, but also goes back even further for a glimpse at their college days and continues on through the days following Hello, Forever. So the epilogue from Magnolia really belongs at the very end of all of the books and that’s exactly where I put it. It felt right to have it end that way. It made sense to me, because my brain likes things to be chronological in order.

And since I hadn’t originally planned to write a series, making this big 3-book boxed set allowed me to put everything in its proper order. Yes, I am a little bit picky when it comes to my books.

Is this the end of the series?

I don’t think so.

I still have plans to write Emma’s story at some point. And there are some other side characters whose stories I would like to tell eventually. But for now, these three books tell a complete story and I’m fine with that. Other books that may come in the future will probably stand on their own, so you won’t have to have read the other books to read them. But I’m sure Maggie, Michelle, and Simon will make an appearance in those, because I love my characters and already miss writing about them.

The CORNERSTONE SERIES can be purchased HERE or read for FREE on KINDLE UNLIMITED.

floating my way to a new book

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I really wish I could bottle up the feeling I had when we returned from Florida and give myself a daily dose. My entire body felt relaxed, more so than it has in a very long time. I realized that I had no aches and pains really, that I felt pretty darn good.

But now that we’ve been home for a couple days, I can feel the tightness in my right shoulder returning. I don’t know why my stress always focuses in on that spot. My neck and upper back are a little stiff. And all I want right now is to hop in the pool, float around on a pool noodle, and soak up the warmth of the sun. :)

It had been nearly three years since our last vacation and we needed it. Badly.

Before we left, I felt stalled as far as my writing goes. I’ve been editing the YA book for a while now, but I’ve longed to write something new, whether it was the next book in the Cornerstone Series (Emma’s story) or a new book idea I had been thinking about and researching for a while. But I just could not do it. Maybe it was the heavy reality we’ve been faced with this year with my Dad’s need for a liver transplant. All I know is I couldn’t really write.

I took the laptop along on vacation thinking maybe I would sit down and get something started, but I didn’t touch it. The only thing I typed was a recap of the things we did each day so I wouldn’t forget. ;)

But something happened while I floated around in that pool. My mind wandered through the beginnings of the new story. I had all these ideas and thoughts and conversations between the characters filling my mind. And I just let it all play out while I relaxed. It was just what I needed — to step away from our everyday life, away from bills and schedules and gymnastics practices and going to the gym, and let my mind take a break. And it opened up that little creative part of my brain again and let the ideas flow.

Yesterday, we were back to our regularly scheduled program (aka gymnastics practice) and I sat there with my coffee and wrote 3,000+ words of the new book. I love it so much already, and I’ve got that giddy feeling about writing that I haven’t had in a while.

Also, floating around in that pool, listening to all the snowbirds chatting about their lives (we stayed with Jake’s parents in an RV resort for retired folks), gave me lots of ideas for future characters in my books.

Merry Christmas!

christmas2016
As I sat down to write this to you, I took a deep breath in and let it out slowly. That’s how I feel about 2016. It’s been a year of change for our family. In so many ways. There were happy moments and sad ones, too. Busy times and times of rest. Cherished traditions and new experiences. Endings and beginnings. New job. Drivers ed. Middle school drama. It’s been interesting and tough at times, but we’ve seen God work through it all.

This year really stretched me as far as my writing goes, too. I released two books – one in May, the other in November. I’ve been a one-book-a-year girl until now, so writing, editing, formatting, releasing, and marketing two books required me to push myself more than I ever have before. I came out of all that a little stressed but happy to have two more books in my series, stories that I absolutely loved writing and felt God wanted me to tell.

Until Then, the second book in my Cornerstone series, is Michelle’s story of finding love after a rough upbringing while also searching for God’s purpose for her life, and Hello, Forever is a novella that takes place just after the events of Goodbye, Magnolia and gives more of Maggie & Simon’s love story. You can start reading the series for FREE with the first book, Goodbye, Magnolia today.

I hope 2016 has treated you well. I don’t know where you’re at this Christmas, how you’re feeling, if you’re surrounded by loved ones or on your own, but just know that you are thought about and prayed for. From my heart, I wish you so much happiness and peace this holiday.

Thank you for being a part of my writing journey.
Merry Christmas!

wonderful chaos

drewad
“Being a part of the Gilbert family Thanksgiving, complete with several guests of the Bed and Breakfast, was absolutely joyful. There were so many different conversations going on all at once, it was hard to keep track. Claire soaked it all in. Thanksgiving at her grandparents’ house was always a little more subdued. Her family had a good time together, but this was a completely different experience, a wonderful chaos that made her feel warm and happy.”

THE TRUTH ABOUT DREW is on SALE for just 99¢ thru Monday.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KDLTMQY/

I hope your time with family this holiday season is filled with good conversation, laughter, wonderful chaos, and so much love. Hold those you love close, savor your time with them. Don’t let the days go by without letting those you love know it!

Hello, Forever is HERE!


Well, after eight months of writing the first draft, editing, and putting the finishing touches on this baby, HELLO, FOREVER is finally ready and releasing into the world today. I’m so excited to share it with you, and I hope you will find it to be a sweet addition to Maggie and Simon’s story.

HELLO, FOREVER is available on the following sites:

eBooks
Kindle
Apple iBooks
B&N Nook
Kobo

Paperback
Createspace
** the paperback will be available on Amazon (should be later today or tomorrow), but for now it can still be ordered direct from my Createspace storefront.

What’s it about?
Maggie James spent years all-consumed by her wedding photography business, hiding out from love after a painful breakup. When fellow photographer and consummate rogue Simon Walker came into her life, she held him at arms length to protect her fragile heart from being broken again. But after discovering how he selflessly helped her business in a very big way and admitting her mistaken assumptions about him, she is finally ready to give him a chance. Will fear keep her from truly opening her heart to him? Or will secrets tear them apart?

From small town Michigan to the sunny shores of Malibu, California, Maggie and Simon must navigate their budding relationship, survive family drama, and come face to face with the past to see if their faith and ever growing love are enough to get them to forever.

NOTE:
This novella is the sequel to GOODBYE, MAGNOLIA, so I highly recommend reading that one first. ;)

Happy reading!

Hello, Forever has a release date!

preorder
So excited to announce that Hello, Forever has a release date of November 15th and is now available to pre-order for your Kindle for the special release price of just $1.99. HERE is the link or click the image above to order your copy and it will be automatically delivered to your Kindle on release day. :)

My little family spent a week camping in the upper peninsula of Michigan last week, so I’m getting back to work this week editing the book before I send it off to a few people to read. Then it will be more editing, editing, editing then formatting, formatting, formatting for the next two months leading up to the release. I love this part really. It’s where the story really fills in and comes together.

Plus, this one is all about Maggie and Simon and their relationship. We get to know Simon and where he comes from and why he is the way he is. We get to see them together while they deal with family, exes, etc. It’s a sweet little story with such a happy ending moment that it makes me grin just thinking about it. Can’t wait for you to read it.

AJAXed with AWP