Category Archives: my books

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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.

sweet moments on Mackinac


The Mackinac Island wedding at the end of Goodbye, Magnolia is pretty much one of my favorite things about the entire book. Besides the fact that some very sweet, swoony moments happen there, I truly love the place and I just could not have imagined setting that important wedding anywhere else.

Get your copy of Goodbye, Magnolia FREE today for Kindle and journey with Maggie, Simon, and their wedding photography team to Mackinac Island.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UR69PI0/

around here

Remember when I used to blog? Like all the time? Every week? Sometimes daily? I really did. I love blogging, always have, but I think now that I’m writing full time, my brain is more focused on my fictional stories than the stories of my everyday life. I started this blog to share pictures and stories about the kids with family and friends. It’s become much more over the years, now a place for me to share about the books I write. But I still want it to be a space where I can share about our life, where you can get to know me as a person, not just a name on the cover of some books.

• A TALE OF TWO JOB INTERVIEWS
When Jake lost his job in January 2016, we just knew that God had a plan in all of that. And I just have to share this story of his two VERY different job offers. Jake interviewed for a job in a town two hours from our home. Not ideal, but we were willing to relocate if it was the job God wanted him to have. All went well there. It wasn’t exactly what he had been doing before (running the eBook department), but it was still in his skill set in publishing. This company worked with many different magazine publishers and the guy who interviewed Jake told him that they sometimes work with Playboy. A job offer came in from them for 20% more than he was making at his previous job. Tempting, right?

He had another interview set up for the following week with a Christian publishing company much closer to home. This job was pretty much exactly what he had been doing at his old job – he would be in charge of the eBook department and more. He got an offer, which was much less than the “Playboy” job, as I teasingly call it, only about 5% more than he was making before.

When Jake and I were discussing everything, I told him it was like an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. One company that publishes wonderful Christian content and another that … doesn’t. The decision was a no-brainer really. We got to stay put, he got a job he absolutely LOVES – a job that clearly God had in the works for him all along – and he would not be part of a company that helps publish photos of naked women.

What I loved about the whole thing was just how clear cut it was for us. It was just another reason that we knew God had it all planned out. With the two offers staring us in the face, the choice was so obvious. Wouldn’t it be nice if all decisions in life could be that easy?


Last fall, Jake traveled to New Hampshire for a work conference, and I was able to join him and visit New England for the first time. It was such a blessing. I even took a little day trip down to Concord, Massachusetts and visited Orchard House, the Alcott’s home, where Louisa wrote Little Women. That was such an incredible experience for me. To walk through the rooms where she and her family walked and talked and laughed. To see the little table in her bedroom where she wrote Little Women and glance out the window she must have looked out so many times while writing. To hear the stories of so many of the little details of the house and learn more about their family. The entire trip was worth it just for that. But I also got to spend some time with my hubby and even take a little drive across the bridge into Maine one evening. It was a wonderful trip and all because of this new job of his.

• BACK AT GYMNASTICS
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you probably saw my post last year at the end of gymnastics season when we thought Chloe was done with it for good. Despite working really hard all year, she only medaled twice the entire season, which I think was a big disappointment for her. It just wasn’t fun for her anymore, so she said goodbye to competitive gymnastics.

Fast forward six months and she was really starting to miss it, but she did not want to go back to her old gym. She wanted to try someplace new. One of Chloe’s former teammates switched to Grand Rapids Gymnastics (GRG) a couple seasons ago and they had great things to say about it. So when Chloe started mentioning gymnastics again, I decided to give GRG a call. I spoke to Coach Emily, who invited Chloe to come try a practice with the team and see if she liked it. Pretty much from the moment we walked in the door, we felt welcomed and Chloe felt like this was the place for her. At the end of that first practice, Emily told me that Chloe fit right in with the other girls. No surprise there. She’s not shy and tends to make friends very quickly.

It took a bit for her to get back some of the strength she lost during those six months off and she had to basically relearn a lot of things that she was never taught properly at the old gym, but she has been improving on every event all season long. And out of 7 meets, she medaled at all but one, earning 11 medals.

Switching gyms was the right decision. Absolutely. :)


• 14
Our girl also turned 14 in February. Hard to believe. We spent the weekend at Heather and Jeff’s and brought along her BFF Jenna. Heather took us all ice skating for Chloe’s birthday. It was Chloe’s first time and she pretty much clung to Jenna or the wall the entire time, but we had a blast.

On that Sunday, we had a nice lunch and birthday celebration at my parents’ house. I just love Chloe and Jenna’s friendship. They are truly like bickering sisters sometimes, but they love being friends. And after all of last year’s middle school drama, it has been wonderful for her to find some new friends this year that get her and accept her and are drama-free for the most part.

This sequence of pictures makes me smile. :)

• COLLEGE PLANS
Zach will soon finish his junior year of high school, so we are all about discussing college lately. He loves architecture, so we’re looking at schools in Michigan that have programs specific to that. Looking back, he has always had a love of building and designing – from Legos to Minecraft to other computer games he’s played over the years.

This year, he took an architecture class and has really enjoyed that. Next year, I think he’s going to take an engineering class, so we’ll see if he changes his mind and wants to study that instead. Maybe he’ll follow in his grandpa’s footsteps (my dad is an industrial engineer).

• MY DAD
Speaking of my dad … at the end of last year, he fell off his tractor and broke a few ribs. He was in a lot of pain and had some swelling in his abdomen that was not going down. So the doctor called for a CT, which revealed that he has cirrhosis of the liver due to fatty liver disease, which he was diagnosed with a couple years ago. Looking back, mom said he was starting to show signs of it for a while now, but they didn’t know that’s what it was. We think the fall just made things worse. So in February, we traveled back and forth to the University of Michigan Liver Center for tests—-lots of tests—-and he is now on the list for a transplant.

I’ve learned a lot more about the liver and transplants over the past month than I ever thought I would. It could be a while before he gets his new liver. His place on the list is determined by blood tests taken every few weeks. On one hand, we want him to be able to go on with his daily life as normally as possible. On the other, we want him to get a new liver soon, which means his health would have to deteriorate so he can move up the list. I know God has a plan and it will all work out in His perfect timing. In the meantime, our family would appreciate prayers for us, for the doctors, specialists, surgeons, and the family of the person whose liver my dad will one day get.

• GETTING HEALTHY
For a really long time now, I’ve led a mostly sedentary life. I’ve sat for hours upon hours writing and editing my books, staring at my computer, not really getting up and moving as much as I should. And I have felt it in my body. I have been sluggish and tired, no energy to do anything else, moody. So at the end of 2016, Jake told me I should join the gym with him (he has been a member for a while). I said no at first. I didn’t want to spend the extra money each month. It was too far to drive. I made excuses. But then I thought that the small amount of money I would spend each month is going toward helping me to be healthier and happier and more productive in both work and home life. So I did it. I signed up at Planet Fitness.

Starting the first week of January, we have been at the gym at least once a week – most weeks 3 times – working off the fat, getting stronger, losing inches and pounds. I am down 14 lbs. now and have lost a combined 8 inches off my waist, hips, and thighs. It’s nice to put on my jeans and not have to squeeze into them anymore. And the amount of energy I have is so much more than I’ve had for many years now.

We’re also preparing weekly meals ahead of time. Chicken and veggies usually. We separate them into bowls so they are easy for Jake to grab for work or me for lunch at home. Just pop them in the microwave and voila. Easy, healthy meal.

This all seems even more timely now that we’ve learned of the condition of my dad’s liver. I was already on a path to a healthier life, and now I understand how very important that is.

• WRITING
Yes, I am still writing. Currently, I’m working on two very different projects. One is the young adult dystopian novel I wrote a couple years ago during NaNoWriMo. The other is still mostly in research phase, but I did write the first lines of chapter one recently, which was awesome! This one will be a historical romance. I’m excited to share more about both when they get closer to completion. The YA book will most likely release first, hopefully later this year, but I don’t have a set date for publication yet. There’s still a lot to be done on this one as I edit through it. The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to get the novel out of your head and onto the page, so it’s very rough and needs a lot of filling in at this point.

For now, the pictures above give you an idea just how different the settings are for these stories. :)

Thanks for sticking by me through this long post. Hope the rest of your week is wonderful. This will be our first weekend in a month without a gymnastics meet. It will be strange not traveling somewhere, but also kind of nice.

Blessings,

the truth about drew FREE


It seems crazy that it was three years ago that I was editing this book and getting it ready for publication. Out of all the books I’ve written so far, this is the one that I get the sweetest posts, emails, and reviews about. And all I can say is that God gave me the idea for this book and He has used it in ways I could not have imagined when I wrote it.

The Truth About Drew eBook is FREE today. Add it to your Kindle now.

If you read (or have already read it) and enjoyed it, please remember to stop by Amazon and leave a brief review. Thank you.

A Second Chance at Romance

a-second-chance-at-romance

Second Chances. If we’re honest, they’re not only something we want. They’re something we need . . . most every day. A fresh start. A do-over. A chance to learn from our mistakes and seize the opportunities we missed in the past.

There’s something intrinsically beautiful and redemptive about seeing that theme come to life on the pages of a compelling romance, isn’t there? With the start of a brand new year, we can’t think of a better time to celebrate that theme than a sale and giveaway of some of our favorite second chance romances.

Sales, Gift Cards, and Giveaways!

Each day, Jan 16-20th, one author will be highlighting a clean romance we’ve put on sale for you this week. Be sure to visit each author’s website and Facebook page to catch every deal, see what each author’s giving away, and enter the grand giveaway of five signed paperbacks!

Day 1: Melanie Snitker – Join her at https://facebook.com/melaniedsnitker
Day 2: Stacy Claflin – Join her at https://facebook.com/stacy.claflin.author
Day 3: Crystal Walton – Join her at https://facebook.com/crystalwaltonwrites
Day 4: Krista Noorman – Join her at https://facebook.com/bykristanoorman
Day 5: Sarah Monzon – Join her at https://facebook.com/sarahmonzonwrites

Don’t miss out on the giveaways each author will be offering. And enter the grand giveaway at the bottom of this post for your chance to take home five signed paperbacks!
 

Today’s Feature • Until Then

While thinking about which of my books would be best for the second chances theme, my mind immediately went to Until Then. On Michelle’s first day of college, she meets handsome, tall, blue-eyed, basketball star Sean. What happens between them changes Michelle’s heart in a profound way and alters the course of Sean’s future, sending him on a bit of a downward spiral and out of Michelle’s life.

Sometimes a lot of time must pass before that second chance comes along, and it can be downright painful with all the past hurts, uncertainty, unanswered questions. All the whys and what ifs. But God’s plans are better than ours, and in this book, they’re better than anything Michelle could possibly dream up for herself.

Here’s a little excerpt for you from the moment Michelle finally sees Sean again.
 

   Michelle arrived at the game and took a seat low on the bleachers to watch. Cornerstone scored several baskets in a row, and the crowd roared.
   Her eyes wandered the room. There were familiar faculty members there, a whole section of rowdy cheering students, and cheerleaders on the sidelines. People filtered in and out of the entrance. She looked closer at a small group of people just outside the doors. There were two dark-haired men standing with a teenaged boy and girl. One of the men looked very familiar to her. He stepped through the door into the room, holding the teenaged girl’s hand.
   Michelle squinted. No! It couldn’t be!
   They walked toward her. The man was speaking to the girl as they passed by. He looked a little older, and his hair was shorter, but she would recognize those eyes anywhere. Sean!
   She watched them walk toward the far end of the gym, closer to the rowdy students, where they found a seat near the top. She couldn’t believe he was actually there. Her heart raced, and her palms began to sweat. Her nerves kept her from jumping up and running to their end of the gym. It had been more than fourteen years, after all. Maybe he wouldn’t recognize her.
   She glanced in their direction again. He seemed to be looking her way, but she couldn’t tell at that distance. He could have been watching the action in the game. She turned back to watch a foul shot and played with a loose thread on her sweater.
   Oh, Lord, what should I do? He’s here. He’s actually here. Should I go talk to him? Or should I just let the past stay in the past?
   “Michelle?”
   Her prayer was interrupted, and she looked up into those blue eyes she remembered so well. “Sean.”
   “Oh my gosh, I thought that was you.” He shook his head back and forth and blinked a few times, like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
   She stood and awkwardly held her hand out to shake his.
   He let out a little nervous laugh and hugged her instead.
   Oh, man, he smells good.
   The noise of the crowd around them grew louder. He turned his head and spoke into her ear. “It’s so good to see you.”
   She smiled.
   He pulled back, keeping a grip on her forearms. “You look great.”
   “So do you,” she managed.
   He motioned toward the bleacher behind her, and she gave him a shy smile as they sat down together.
   He kept shaking his head, another nervous laugh escaping his lips. “I’m sorry, I just … I can’t believe it’s you. You’re here. I thought about you when we got here today. I wondered if you still lived around here or if you ever went back to Chicago.”
   “I’m still here.”
   “I think I was secretly hoping I might run into you, but I thought that was pretty much impossible. I’m … I don’t know. I have no words.” The smile never left his face.
   “I actually saw you come in, and I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me or something.”
   They sat in silence for a few moments, his attention turned to the game. He made a few comments on the game play, but she wasn’t listening. She was distracted by his presence, by how good he still looked, and by the glint of gold on his left ring finger. She knew he was married. Simon had told her so years ago.


 
You can read Michelle’s story, Until Then, for just 99¢ from January 16-20.
Kindle eBook
Nook
Apple iBooks
Kobo

This book is part of my Cornerstone series and, while you can read this book without having read the first two, I highly recommend reading them in order because this book gives away the ending of the first book. You can start reading the series for FREE right now with Book 1 – Goodbye, Magnolia. (Find it on your favorite eBook site HERE.)
 
 
 
GIVEAWAYS

Amazon Gift Card
I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift card during this event. Enter below by answering the question. Extra entries can be earned by liking my Facebook page, following me on Bookbub, and tweeting about the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Five-Paperback Giveaway
a-second-chance-at-romance-1

Love clean romances? I do. I’ve read and loved all of these books. For a chance to win these five paperbacks from authors: Stacy Claflin, Sarah Monzon, Melanie Snitker, Crystal Walton, and myself, ENTER BELOW by joining our mailing lists and be the first to hear about the latest inside scoops, giveaways, and behind the scenes looks at the sweet romances you love.

 
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today! And be sure to visit SARAH MONZON’s BLOG tomorrow for the final day of the event.

Blessings and happy reading!

you’re invited


Stay tuned next week for this fun event. There will be giveaways from each individual author (myself included) as well as a great big giveaway of a paperback from each of us that deals with the theme of a second chance at romance. I’ve read each of their books that are part of the giveaway, and I recommend them all. I’m so excited to be a part of this event with authors Stacy Claflin, Sarah Monzon, Melanie Snitker, and Crystal Walton. We’ll be hopping from blog to blog each day, sharing about our stories, meeting new friends. I hope you guys will all take a few minutes to visit their blogs each day and discover these very special authors who write from the heart, telling stories of faith and love and redemption and grace.

about the dates



Back in my wedding photography days, dates were super important. Just about everything I did revolved around the date of a couple’s wedding and those dates still stick in my head sometimes. I often booked weddings more than a year in advance and committed to that special date above all else. My schedule – my life, really – was all about those dates.

So when I was writing Goodbye, Magnolia, it was a no-brainer that the chapters would follow along with Maggie’s wedding photography schedule. And I stuck with the dates for the non-wedding chapters as well to keep things consistent. What was going on in Maggie’s life on this date? Oh, right … meetings. What happened to her on this date? Oh yeah, this was the day Simon showed up and blindsided her with his “brilliant” business proposal. And really, that’s sort of how I looked at my life at that time, too. Based on my work schedule. Based on the dates. Meetings and engagement sessions and weddings and tons and tons of photo editing.

Going with the dates rather than Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc. may not be the norm, but it felt like the right choice. For the other two Cornerstone books, I actually used the dates as chapters during the writing process, too, so I could keep the timeline straight in my mind. But Hello, Forever wasn’t focused on Maggie’s wedding photography and in Until Then, Michelle isn’t a photographer, so it didn’t really make sense for those books.

Goodbye, Magnolia got spruced up a little recently with new fonts in the chapter titles (shown above). I’m loving the new look.

Hope you enjoyed this little behind-the-scenes.
Happy reading!

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!

AJAXed with AWP