Category Archives: writing

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the Cornerstone series

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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!

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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.

camping 2016


Just returned from a weekend away with my dear friend, Jen. We traveled to the thumb of Michigan this year (our 12th year of doing a camping trip together), which is a place neither of us had ever been. It was lovely there. Really pretty. The campground at Port Crescent was nice. The small towns we visited (Port Austin and Caseville) were both so quaint with that wonderful old town feeling – cute shops, farm markets, etc. It was a wonderful trip and it flew by too quickly.

Before I left for this getaway, I had been feeling very antsy, kind of stuck when it came to my writing, spending too much time online and not enough time getting progress made on editing the novella. This weekend was exactly what I needed to recharge and reset my brain. A little fresh air is so good for that.

There was one point when Jen was out swimming and jumping some big 2-3 ft waves that I just stayed on the shore wading in the waves. Wading is one of my favorite things to do – just listening to the sounds of the water, the smell of fresh air, the beauty of the lake, while the water splashes over my feet and ankles again and again. My mind started wandering to Simon and Maggie in Hello, Forever when they travel to California to visit Simon’s parents. There is a scene where he is teaching her to surf and I just stood there in the cool lake water thinking about those scenes, about the sheer power of the ocean and the waves. I ended up pulling my phone out of my back pocket and typing up some lines I had for the book while I stood in the lake just hoping a wave didn’t knock me off balance and make me drop my phone in the water. ;) It didn’t! hehe!

Getting away from the usual routine and even just taking a little time for yourself is so healthy and restorative, and I’m thankful that Jake doesn’t mind me doing this every year. I’m blessed to have such a supportive husband.

While I was glad to get away for the weekend, I’m so looking forward to another camping trip later this summer with Jake and the kids, Mom + Dad O, and possibly more family. It’s been far too long since we took the kids camping and I’m excited to show them a few of my favorite campgrounds that Jen and I have visited over the years.

Drew is FREE!

The Truth About Drew, my first published novel, came out in 2014. It’s a sweet story of 14 yr. old Claire, who has a quirky best friend, Drew. He’s different than her other friends. He talks differently, speaking only in quotes and clichés and Bible verses. He disappears all the time. Sometimes she turns around and he’s gone. It isn’t until she’s a freshman in high school that it really starts to bother her. Her friends and family have never met him, yet he’s always been there. So she becomes determined to find out who he really is or if she’s going a little crazy, wondering if he’s real. It’s a wonderful story of friendship, family, first love, and Claire’s journey to faith, as well as her finding out who Drew really is.

Today (July 9th) is the first time The Truth About Drew has ever been FREE on Amazon. If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you’ll pick up a copy today.

THEN check out the two books in my Cornerstone series, which are only $2.99 each. :)

a love/hate relationship

I’ve got a love/hate relationship with book reviews. It’s fun to get a nice 4 or 5-star review saying how much someone liked one of my books. Receiving positive words and compliments, finding people who love the book as much as I do and really get what I write is wonderful.

But it’s not so much fun when someone says negative things about your stories, your characters, your heart and soul creation.

I try to brush off those negative reviews, because in my mind I know that not everyone will like what I write. But in my heart, I wish they did. I wish they loved my stories and characters as much as I do. That’s not realistic, though.

I’m sure it’s the same for every artist out there. Everyone who creates something from their imagination and dares to share it with the world. People will always criticize it and the reasons are too numerous to list. Maybe they didn’t connect with that painting or they thought the new sculpture at the museum was ugly. Maybe that chef’s signature dish at the hot new restaurant was disgusting to them or they thought the band playing at the coffee shop sounded terrible. Maybe they didn’t relate to the characters in my book or the storyline wasn’t their favorite or they thought it was stupid or ridiculous or boring or any number of other reasons it wasn’t the book for them.

I get that. All of it. Because sometimes I don’t get what an artist is trying to say in a painting or I’m not crazy about a certain band’s music or a sculpture just looks like a jumble of pieces to me. And sometimes I’ve read books that bored me or were just OK or just didn’t draw me in at all.

Everyone has their own opinions (as you can see from these reviews at right that I took from Goodbye, Magnolia‘s page on Amazon). They come to the table, to the art gallery, to their Kindles from many different places and experiences.

Even though I don’t always love them, reviews are helpful. When I buy books, honestly, I don’t really look at the reviews most of the time. If the synopsis sounds good or if it’s a book by an author I have read before, I will probably read it. But there are people out there who rely heavily on what other people say about a book to decide if they will read it or not. So I say, if you liked a book, review it.

When it comes to posting reviews for the books I read, I usually give 5 stars if the book causes an emotional reaction in me – if I cry, usually, ;) but also if the characters get in my head and I can’t stop thinking about them. Or for non-fiction, it’s usually if I felt I learned something that will improve my life in some way. A book will get 4 stars from me if I really liked the story and it put a smile on my face. Most of the 4 star books are ones that I probably won’t read again, but that I really enjoyed. If I can’t give the book 4 or 5, I just don’t review it. I guess as an author, I know that negative reviews can affect the ratings of books, so I don’t want to be the cause of bringing a fellow author’s book rating down. But that’s just me. And I can’t actually remember the last time I read a book that wasn’t at least entertaining in some way.

If you have read any of my books and loved them (or < cringe > even if you didn’t), please take a few minutes to leave a quick review over on Amazon. :)

our Memorial Day weekend


We had such a nice weekend visiting with Jake’s mom on the east side of the state. Jake’s aunt passed away this past week, so Mom really needed to be surrounded by family after losing her sister. It was much needed for all of us, I think.

It was relaxing … and hot. Summer is here, for sure. The kids had a great time running around in the sprinklers and shooting each other with water guns. We enjoyed watching a couple of storms with crazy awesome clouds roll through. Delicious meals on the grill were enjoyed. It was just a wonderful Memorial Day weekend overall.

After a busy week of launching my book, my brain was totally fried. I needed to step away from all of that, do nothing much at all, let my mind rest. It’s sort of that let down feeling you get after you’ve planned a big event, like a wedding or a party, for a really long time and the day has come and gone, and you just sit and think back on it and you just want to cry. I did cry actually. Especially from all of the support I got from friends, family, launch team, and even strangers online who have already read the book and posted nice reviews.

“I like how well the author depicted what it’s like when someone has past hurts and has accepted Christ, but hasn’t fully let go. … Kudos on a well written book about redemption and grace!” – Nina Y, Amazon Customer

Isn’t that the sweetest? Thank you, Nina.

Check out the NEW PAGE I put together specifically for UNTIL THEN. There is a link to purchase the book there as well as more reviews.

And if you ordered a paperback, I’d love to see a picture of you with the book. Happy reading, friends!

AJAXed with AWP