Sunday, March 31, 2013

Review: Trees of the Book by Kimberley Payne, fun family book

by Kimberley Payne, illustrated by Esther Haug
 From the Publisher:

Trees of the Book is a 26 page children's activity book, #1 in the Science & Faith Matters Series. It explores the trees discussed in the Bible in a way that is both fun and informative for children of the grade 2 - 3 level, or ages 7-9. With a colorful interior and 8.5" x 11" format for comfortable handling for children, it offers challenging activities, fun facts, opportunities for Bible study and presentation of stories connected to the trees.

Paperback: 28 pages, 8.5 x 11 inches

Publisher: byDesign Media (February 13, 2013)

ISBN: 978-1896213736



Kimberley Payne shares information and activities from biblical accounts, from the oaks of Genesis to cedars and palms, and the mustard tree, to the less common fig, sycamore, and brooms.

Told in a fanciful first-person style as though the tree is telling its own story, Payne gives both the biblical passage where mention of the tree is made, and questions related to it. For example, the first story about the oak involves using the tree as a landmark. At the camp Abram set up near these mighty oaks, God made a special promise. Payne asks her readers to think about promises.

Following these passages and questions, Payne gives the scientific description of the species, including growth pattern, names, and other details.

Each chapter also has an activity, such as word search, fill-in-the-blank paragraph, match the facts, or a crossword.

Haug’s illustrations are charming and add depth and beauty to each chapter.

It’s hard to mix science and faith for many. In this book, readers don’t have to even enter a debate. God’s creation is wonderful and varied and awesome. Payne ends with a great glossary, answers and a fun list of further activities.

Highly recommended for fun and learning, Sunday School, family activities.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Meet Alan Calder, author of The Glorious Twelfth

About the Book: 

In The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown speculates that the Holy Grail lies buried in the filled in crypt of Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh. This mysterious church was built by the Sinclairs in the first half of the fifteenth century, by which time the clan was well established in Caithness, where it still holds the Earldom. Caithness, then remote and inaccessible, would have provided a much better hiding place for the Grail than Rosslyn, especially after the Sinclairs began to build a series of heavily fortified castles round the Caithness coast. So did Dan Brown have the right family but the wrong hiding place? 
The Glorious Twelfth opens as archaeologist Ben Harris finds a Celtic stone and evidence of a medieval shipwreck on the Noster estate of Sir Ranald Sinclair. Careless talk by Ben at a conference in Paris sparks off a robbery at  Sir Ranald’s mausoleum, uncovering a treasure that has been hidden for centuries. The robbery follows the opening day of the grouse season, hence the title of the book. The chief villain, grail fanatic Russian Boris Zadarnov, also abducts Sir Ranald’s wayward daughter, Fran, who is already in love with Ben. American oilman Al Regan, a neighbour of Sir Ranald, leads a rescue party to Paris where Fran is freed and most of the treasure recovered, but the thieves escape with a ruby encrusted chalice.
     For a series of misdemeanours, Ben is sacked from his university job. He finds consolation in the arms of Fran and moves north to continue treasure hunting, making the discovery of his life near one of the ancient Sinclair castles. Has he found the greatest archaeological prize in Christendom, the Holy Grail? Will he be able to protect it from the malevolent attention of the Russians?     
    The genre is mystery/suspense with a streak of romance running all the way through. The action takes place mainly in Caithness with forays to Edinburgh, France, Italy, Egypt and Poland.

Alan, what do you love about this book?
The Glorious Twelfth is set in my native Caithness where I was brought up and went to school. The most northerly Scottish mainland county has a particular atmosphere. It lies beyond the Highlands, the people a mix of Viking and Gael, the land littered with the stones of its prehistory, the geography dominated by the rugged cave infested cliffs of old red sandstone, the sky vast and the sea always brooding. It is a unique place and I hope that comes over. So the thing I love most about The Glorious Twelfth is that Caithness is the main character, providing an interesting and exciting stage for the cast to strut on.   
Can you share something unique with readers they won’t find anyplace else about this book?
Readers might be interested in a bit more detail about the genesis of The Glorious Twelfth. Before I started writing I read The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, an intriguing book full of conspiracy theories that seem to have been at least partly the inspiration for Dan Brown’s , The Da Vinci Code. The most controversial aspect of the book is its reference to a ‘bloodline of Christ’ descending from a child that Mary Magdalene allegedly bore. Many famous European families were suggested as belonging to this line, including the Sinclairs, originally from Normandy and the Stuart dynasty. In addition, it is documented that the Sinclairs were early leaders of the Templar movement and builders of the mysterious Rosslyn Chapel near Edinburgh, fictional final resting place of the Holy Grail in The Da Vinci Code. However the Sinclairs also established themselves as Earls of Orkney, then Caithness in medieval times and became the dominant family, a position they still occupy today. The premise of The Glorious Twelfth is that the Sinclairs had much better hiding places for the Holy Grail in Caithness among the many castles and mausoleums they built. The story opens with an archaeologist on a summer dig in Caithness,  starting to find clues…
Tell us one new thing you learned or were surprised to learn during your research
The thing that surprised me most was how all three books that I’ve written have their roots in the same medieval pot of history. They are contemporary stories that descend from medieval kings, aristocrats and saints.  
What’s your best promotion tip?
I wish I had one but then again, it all depends what your objectives are. Why are you writing?  It quickly dawns on the ebook writer that his/her work is being flung into a vast market populated by other scribblers, most of whom are screaming for attention. Many give their work away free, using all the communication methods facilitated by social networking and the internet. It’s a market that is vastly over served, so in competitive terms it’s difficult to evolve effective robust business models. I’ve read most of the advice around. The most logical but least practical is to develop relationships with loads of people who will then want to buy your book.
     That advice reflects the reality that we are all involved in what I have coined ‘digital hand selling,’ where almost every sale requires an action on the part of the writer. In that scenario sales are proportional to promotional input. I’ve heard some say that 50% of a writer’s time should be spent on promotion. Saner counsel recommends one day a week. In a disturbing parallel with vanity publishing, many organisations will take money to promote your book, so we have vanity promotion as well. It remains to be seen whether paying someone to shout louder about your book will be cost effective. I’m not going down that road.
       In the end you need to decide why you are writing but if you really do need to make a living go someplace else! I get tremendous satisfaction from researching, writing and knowing that my work is appreciated by many. At the same time writing has allowed me to develop the artistic side of my character, long supressed in the rigour of my former scientific life and the exigencies of management roles. For me, writing is a lifestyle choice, it’s what I do when I’m not fishing or…..

The book can be downloaded to e-readers from Amazon or the publisher’s website. You'll need an Amazon UK account to purchase the books from Amazon, but that's easy to do.

Buy The Glorious Twelfth

About the Author:

Alan Calder is a Scottish born writer who divides his time between Yorkshire and his native Caithness. He is married to Jennifer and has two daughters and four grandchildren. He has BSc and PhD degrees in chemistry from the University of Aberdeen.
Writing novels and poetry follows a successful career in research and marketing with ICI/Zeneca. He also held several offices in the Royal Society of Chemistry including being President of the Industrial Division and served on a number of government committees. He chaired the Chemicals Sector of the UK Foresight project in the early 1990s and was made a CBE in 1996 for services to the chemical industry.
While working with ICI the family enjoyed a secondment to Paris and travelled extensively in France, developing a particular affection for the Vaucluse area of the southern Rhone valley and its wine villages. Many family holidays have been spent in that area and countless bottles of red wine imported. This led to our interest in vineyard walks and each year a group visits a European wine area for that purpose. Last year it was Tuscany (for the second time) and this year we’re planning Sicily; we seem to have exhausted France. On the other hand, France features in all my books and my third novel is set there.
Alan is a keen fisherman. He caught his first salmon as a boy on the Wick River in Caithness, a stream which he still fishes when there is water. Otherwise he fishes stocked rainbows in Yorkshire or salmon in the Thurso River, also in Caithness.
Without great forethought it turns out that all his novels gravitate to the suspense/mystery genre and while contemporary, have their roots firmly planted in history.   His first book, The Stuart Agenda, published in 2011 describes a conspiracy to get a Stuart back on the throne of an independent Scotland.

Also by Alan Calder, The Stuart Agenda published by Willowmoon 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kimberley Payne and her new Children's Activity Book

Kimberley Payne is a motivational speaker and author. She has taught workshops in a variety of settings including churches, retreats, schools and conferences. Her energetic and enthusiastic presentations motivate individuals to reach their goals.
Kimberley has volunteered as a teacher in many children's programs at her church, as a teacher's aide for students' reading in the classroom, and within the library at her children's school. She works as an Elementary School Secretary for the Catholic School Board. She combines her teaching experience and her love of writing to create educational materials for children about family, fitness, science and faith.  
Kimberley is an over-40, peri-menopausal mother of two teenagers. She is happily married and lives with her husband in a village east of Toronto, Canada.
You can visit her website at
Explore the Bible and learn from God’s creation. This entertaining and educational book offers children loads of fun. At the same time they’ll be learning about the Bible.
Inside its pages you’ll find:
 ·         Bible stories told from the viewpoint of the tree
·         Fast facts to help identify the specific tree
·         An activity to help reinforce the truth in the lesson
·         Challenging questions to support each story
·         Glossary and “People of the Bible” sections at the back of the book define words which are highlighted in bold
·         Project suggestions to enhance your learning
This engaging and instructive book is a colourful introduction to trees, leaves and their corresponding Bible stories. It’s ideal for 7 to 9 year olds, for home or school use and classroom sharing in grades 2/3 to supplement the Life Sciences Curriculum on Plant Life.

What you love about your new book – I love the colours and entertaining nature of the book. Who knew that learning could be so much fun!

A new lesson you learned during the publication of this book – Edit, edit, edit. Although this isn’t new to me, I found it was something I couldn’t go over lightly.

Why people should buy it – It’s a creative way to learn more about the Bible and about God’s creation.


Book Blast: A Life of Gratitude - and $25 Amazon gift card giveaway

Title: A Life of Gratitude: 21 Days to Overcoming Self-Pity and Negativity By Shelley Hitz

About the Book:

During a season of transition in my life, I found myself overwhelmed with negative emotions like self-pity and a complaining spirit. It was as if a dark cloud had descended over me. I prayed and asked God for wisdom on how to overcome these negative emotions. As I did, I sensed Him leading me to do a 21 day gratitude challenge.

Over the course of the 21 days, God began to change me as I spent intentional time being grateful for all I had been given. I did this through writing in my journal each day and also sending a hand-written thank you note to someone different each day. This also led me to writing out 21 prayers of gratitude and compiling 21 stories of gratitude.

I want to share what I learned with you in the pages of this book which includes:

21 Days of Gratitude Challenge
21 Prayers of Gratitude
21 Stories of Gratitude

What to Expect On Each Day:

Read my personal stories, struggles and reflections.
Read one scripture and one quote about gratitude.
Apply one personal application step from the challenge.
Read one prayer of gratitude
Read one story of gratitude

Get Accountability and Encouragement

Along with the 21 day challenge, I also started a private Facebook group to provide accountability and encouragement for myself but also for others who decide to join me in the challenge. You will get access to this group as well. It has been amazing to see God at work in each of our lives.

Will you join me on this journey to gratitude?

Shelley Hitz

Shelley Hitz is an award-winning and international best-selling author. Her openness and vulnerability as she shares her own story of hope and healing through her books will inspire and encourage you.

Shelley has been ministering alongside her husband, CJ, since 1998. They currently travel and speak to teens and adults around the country. Shelley's main passion is to share God's truth and the freedom in Christ she has found with others. She does this through her books, websites and speaking engagements.

You can find more about Shelley at or invite her to speak at your event here:
Follow Shelley Hitz Website | Facebook | Twitter

Enter to Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Enter below to enter a $25 amazon gift card, sponsored by author Shelley Hitz! a Rafflecopter giveaway This book blast is hosted by Crossreads. We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tammy Hill's debut book, Knowing

By Tammy Hill 

©June 2012
Charisma House
·         ISBN-10: 1616389265
·         ISBN-13: 978-1616389260 
Paper 13.99
Kindle 9.39
Genre: YA, contemporary paranormal 

From the publisher:

Ember Matthews has a gift...
Sixteen-year-old Ember Matthews is tired of being the person everyone else wants her to be. Although she is nervous about moving to a small town and leaving behind the comforts of her old life, Ember welcomes the opportunity to escape the mistakes and pain of her past. Ember truly wants to change, but when faced with temptation and peer pressure from some new friends, she finds herself slipping into the same old patterns. As she reconnects with God, Ember begins to realize that she is no ordinary teenager. She sees things that no one else sees, and knows things she has no business knowing. Will Ember learn to use her God-given gift, or will the burden of her calling be too much for her to carry?


My review:

Stick with this story! Sixteen-year-old Ember has a troubled history that’s only hinted at and frustrating nightmares that seem to have no basis. Through the first half of Knowing, the reader lives with Ember as she settles in a new town—her temptation to stay a “plastic,” to wow the boys and impress the new kids—the type of girl she wishes she left behind. 

Getting the news her mom had divorced her stepdad and was moving them away from Atlanta, Georgia, is both a shock and a blessing. Ember has a close relationship to her mom, but is also a typical teenager with moodiness, and equal bouts of thoughtfulness and thoughtlessness.  They move a few weeks before school starts and Ember gets acclimated to the new town quickly when she meets Cade, a young man who stops to help unload boxes. Cade and Ember become an immediate item, and Cade’s gal pal, Missy, and Ember hit it off as well. As Ember starts getting to know more kids and getting involved in church activities, the reader may wonder where all this is going…but hang on, Knowing is not your typical teen angst story.

Ember is endowed with a special gift, as the title implies, and choices to make. Those choices are engagingly revealed through the second half of the book.

Hill’s book flows very realistically with natural dialogue and believable characters, from the teenagers to the adults in all situations. I appreciated learning about both sides of the debate regarding the Spiritual Gifts, which are shared without judgment. Nicely done. Teens and their parents who are curious about or are involved in charismatic faith practices will find much to like about this book.



Friday, March 15, 2013

Lorilyn Roberts talks about shame, abuse, and purity

Lorilyn Roberts shares about purity


"I felt a hand reach underneath my blue skirt."

Have you ever been violated? No one has the right to violate you physically ‑‑ not your father, your stepfather, a friend, a boyfriend, a teacher, even a doctor. Your body is the vessel of the Holy Spirit. It is holy. No one has the right to de file you to meet his own needs, whether it be for sex, power, or control.

If someone touches you inappropriately, you should report it. Don't let guilt keep you from doing the right thing. That's called false guilt.

Your body should be kept pure before God. Someday, as a young woman, you will probably get married, unless God has given you the gift of singleness. You will want to give a body to your husband that's pure, that's never been touched or looked upon or used. Not only does that mean sexually, but you should preserve your body and keep it from being harmed by illicit drugs and underaged drinking. You may not know it, but all these things will hurt you in more ways than you realize. 

Along the same lines, don't go to websites you shouldn't go to. Don't look at pornography. All these things will give you a corrupted way of looking at sex and love. No longer with these things be beautiful, but there will be a sense of dirtiness and vulgar. What God created to be something beautiful between a man and a woman becomes perverted to the point of disgust. Guard your heart. If someone does something to you that makes you feel uncomfortable, that is God's way of speaking to you, warning you that a boundary has been crossed that is inappropriate. Don't sit idly by and allowing this kind of abuse to continue. . If you're young, it's against the law and the offender can go to jail. If you're not so young that it's against law, you're old enough to know you've been violated and seek help.

Shale's way of dealing with this is not the appropriate way to handle it. If you're like Shale and you don't have anyone to turn to, go on the web or look in the newspapers for crisis counseling centers in your area. Contact a church. Don't let yourself continue to be victimized. If you don't do something, it will continue and God has better plans for you than this. Remember, God loves you. Seek out a safe person you can talk to, but sometimes it's up to you to take that first step. Pray and ask God to show you what to do. God will never let you down.

Romans 12:1 says, "Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship."

 Even if you have been violated, it's not too late to do something about it. With God is healing and redemption. Do something today and take that first step to get help.

 Even if you feel embarrassed by the situation, don't let that keep you from reporting it. God doesn't want you to live in guilt or shame ‑‑ trust in him and get help.

 "I'm fine." I smiled, pretending nothing had happened.

How many times are we offended by someone or something and we pretend that it didn't happen. Does that make the pain go away? Pretending that something bother us is trying to live in denial. It doesn't work. If we live in denial about something, we are limiting our future. How can God use us if we're living in denial? Denial about our past, what's happened to us, minimizing our hurts ‑‑ you can't help someone else if you have never dealt with your own hurts and pains. God is in the business of healing. He specializes in it. Allow him to come into your heart and bring you healing. Find someone you can share your pain with ‑‑ don't live in shame and humiliation. God has better plans for you.

Jesus went through the shame and humiliation of the cross so you wouldn't have to live in shame an humiliation. That was his burden to bear, not yours. Lay this burden at the base of the cross and rejoice that Jesus can carry this burden for you.

First Peter 5:7 says," Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."


Diana Brandmeyer's A Mind of Her Own

By Diana Lesire Brandmeyer

Tyndale House Publishing
© December 2012
ISBN 978-1-4143-8103-9 (Apple); ISBN 978-1-4143-8102-2 (ePub); ISBN 978-1-4143-8101-5 (Mobi)

e-Book $6.39

From the back:

Who knew making dinner could change your life? Louisa Copeland certainly didn’t. But when the George Foreman grill fell out of the pantry onto her head, resulting in a bump and a mighty case of amnesia, Louisa’s life takes a turn for the unexpected. Who was this Collin fellow, claiming she was his wife? And whose kids are those? Her name couldn’t be Louisa. Why, she was the renowned romance writer Jazz Sweet, not a Midwestern mom of three. Struggling to put the pieces together of the life she’s told she had, Louisa/Jazz may realize that some memories are better left alone.

My review:

Brandmeyer’s tale of a woman who’s spent her entire life hiding in plain sight from a decades-long secret she couldn’t make anyone understand. When a fortuitous bump on the head gives Louisa Copeland’s inner drama queen an opportunity to come and play, the whole Copeland family: overworked husband Collin, children Tim, Joey and Madison, along with Louisa, learn how precious the bonds of love and faith should be. 

Stay-at-home mom Louisa has another personality, Jazz Sweet, single romance writer, who’s been locked away. After her accident, Collin goes out of his way, not always graciously, to get his wife back, even when he finds Jazz a little more exciting than Louisa. Louisa, as Jazz, gets an opportunity to learn about her kids and husband, her life, from an objective point of view. She acts out the real hang-ups, pet peeves, and the child side of herself she never lets out to play, showing Collin that her life was not all perfect. When he finds and reads her journals, he finally understands what life has been like from his wife’s side. He becomes every wife’s dream husband, and when Louisa relives the trauma that set off her bout of amnesia, they work together to save their family.

Nicely done in the voices of Louisa, her alter-ego Jazz, and Collin, Brandmeyer never quite lets her characters get out of control, although you just know they’d like to. The children are typical big sister and little brothers annoying; Collins wants to make partner at the law firm, and Louisa is just lost, colorless, without intimate friends, virtually orphaned and completely without hope or faith at the start of the story. Jazz livens her up, and although she finds her faith she is still lost in her own life; a life that comes with a husband she doesn’t recall but is strangely attracted to, but a housewife’s role she has no interest in. 

The ending comes a bit too neatly and quickly, but the journey there was a pleasant and intriguing ride. What would Jazz do next? And how would the neighbors and her family react? That was great fun. Who wouldn’t want the chance to fall in love all over again?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Staci Stallings' Successful book marketing strategy

By Staci Stallings

© 2013
Spirit Light Publishing
The Indie Author’s Ultimate Guide series


Quit panicking and start learning!

Staci Stallings had to learn marketing basics the hard way, and wants to help others get from Point A (publication-whoo-hoo!) to Point B (being read—the real goal of an author) with the least amount of stumbling in the dark.

How can you not love a gift like that?

This short 70-page e-book will become a baby author’s new BFF in short order. Set up like a workshop of fifteen-minute lessons, Keys promises only to teach an author, not automatic over-night success. In fact, Stallings warns several times that learning to market is a process, and a slow one at that. Building trust takes time and effort, but it can be done. I love Staci’s goal: not only should I become a better marketer, I will be able to turn around and share the strategy with others.

The pre-advice alone is valuable: Besides, put out a Great book and Get a great cover, Get some good reviews right away. I made the mistake of not doing this when I attempted my first-ever electronic short story: Get those reviews set up early, because you’re going to get blasted by people who have way too much time on their hands and vitriol in their veins. They will lie in their reviews and be as nasty as possible. Having a load of honestly good ones ready to go will help sales.

Stallings shares not only great easy tips, but examples of how to do this in each section, from creating an online presence, how to act online, building a great landing page, and keeping the momentum going. Each segment of pithy advice is concise and powerful. Each lesson has a goal, from think (about the covered concept; e.g., how to reel in your readers) to examine (the covered topic; e.g., the strengths and weaknesses of your current strategy to reach your audience), to put some effort into getting reviews. Stallings includes a list of review sites, and shows you how to use them to the optimum effect.

Even a little paid advertising can be useful. Realize that being an author means learning about a lot of things you might never have considered “writing,” such as working with technology. If you’re not much of a grammarian, you hire an editor; if you’re not a tekkie, hire someone who is.

Some advice I can live with:

Don’t talk about yourself
Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint
Don’t try to do it along

Finally, Stallings advises the reader not to sit around, whining in fear, but to take a step in the direction of your dreams.

Packed with illustrations and easy to follow examples, the lessons in Keys to Creating a Successful Book Marketing Strategy are sure to meet your needs somewhere, sometime. Keep this book handy; you’ll refer to it often.

A matching book, How to Prepare, Launch, and Run aSuccessful KDPSelect Free-Day Campaign, will prove helpful to the Indie author’s arsenal.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Review of The Ride of Her Life by Lorna Seilstad

Lorna Seilstad

© May 2012
ISBN 10: 0800734475
e-book $5.38
Print $4.42 (currently offered as a bargain book on Amazon)

Third in a trilogy Lake Manawa Summers series

From the back:

She's planted firmly on solid ground.
He's ready to sweep her off her feet.

The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is a six-year-old. Widowed for three years, Lilly has decided to leave the home of her intrusive in-laws to stand on her own. However, her in-laws find her new life as a cook at Lake Manawa utterly unsuitable for their grandson. When an argument ensues, a handsome stranger—who designs roller coasters, of all things—intercedes on her behalf. But Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky gentleman. Little does she know she is about to begin the ride of her life.

My review:

I’d read the second book in the series for review and received this copy as a gift. This absolutely delightful story follows the progression of years of family fun and get-togethers at the Lake Manawa, Iowa, resort, around the twentieth century. Like the others, Seilstad presents a new delight of Americana: in this case, it’s the development of roller coasters.

Lilly had been raised in the house of a wealthy family who hired her mother as a cook. Lilly learned to be a ladies maid and a good cook, but when she and the son of another prominent family fell in love and married, she was caught in a strange place as not quite accepted by the high society, and discomfort in front of her former friend, whom she served as maid. This story takes place three years after Lilly is widowed, and raising her son on her own.

When the parents of her husband want to send her son away to boarding school, she takes him and sets off on a quest for independence. That quest is quickly challenged by a handsome roller coaster designer and builder. Through circumstances contrived and self-fulfilling, Lilly and her beau, Nick, along with Lilly’s delightful son, find and fight love.

Seilstad’s third book in the Lake Manawa Summers series is a spot-on charming historical story, with excellent research, that brings back a simpler time of life, when spending summers in a resort setting was all the rage, when roller coasters were the latest entertainment. Told from the point of view of both Lilly and Nick, with occasional narrations from their friends, The Ride of Her Life is a sweet, simple read that will take you away for a few very pleasant hours.