Wednesday, November 4, 2015

IWSG, Nanowrimo and Christmas Kisses

Wow, I sort of overbooked myself for today, but that's okay! I'll keep my IWSG post short so we can get to the book review.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Posting: The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

I'm currently #66

My insecurities have been calm the last month. Maybe I've finally reached a good balance of taking care of my family and finding the time to write. The conference and retreat in October helped me get back into writing and so far I haven't lost the momentum. I haven't written every day, but I have worked on something writing related--writing, editing, or marketing of some sort. It feels good!

Here's where I'm at on the writing front.
1. I should finish the first round of edits on SEARCH FOR KNOWLEDGE (book 2 in Talia's series) this week and send it back to my editor.
2. For Nanowrimo I'm continuing to draft book three in Talia's series--DEMON RISING.
3. I've signed up on and someone is currently in the process of recording FADE INTO ME and STELLAR CLOUD for audiobook format. They should be available in time for Christmas.

The only tiny bit of insecurity is wondering if I'll be able to keep moving forward. It seems like every time I've started off doing great in the last year, something has kicked me back to the ground. All I can say is I'm grateful for all my friends and family that keep encouraging me to get back up and keep trying. Sometimes that's all we can do, right? So, I'm going to enjoy this good writing run while it lasts!

And now for the review! I'll add my thoughts in italics after each story blurb. I'll give each story a rating and then the collection as a whole a rating.

Christmas Kisses is a collection from five bestselling and award-winning authors.

Set in the snowy town of Echo Ridge in upstate New York, these inspirational romances are sure to delight while you sip cocoa by the fire and listen to Christmas carols.

***$.99 November 3 - 7***
Amazon * Barnes and Noble * Kobo * iTunes * Smashwords

Add it to Goodreads

The Candy Counter Heiress by Lucy McConnell Amazon bestselling & award-winning author

Someday Reese Gates will own The Candy Counter at Kenworth's; but someday can't come fast enough when the manager threatens to bring in a national candy provider. Reese secretly takes matters into her own hands hoping to save her parents from additional worry and prove herself capable of running the company. Her deception deepens as she ropes computer guru Andy Edwards into helping her expand the business.  Reese wanted to shake things up, but she wasn't planning on her heart getting caught in the mix by Andy's stolen kisses. If she can hold it together until after Christmas, then she can reveal her successful online company and her feelings for Andy. Unfortunately for Reese, even the best laid plans can melt like chocolate. and Facebook

Okay, I really enjoyed this story. I liked that Reese was ready to take on more responsibility with the family business. She was willing to do whatever it took to prove she could make the Candy Counter even more successful. Andy was as sweet as the chocolate he liked to steal. The only thing that bugged me was how Reese's parents reacted to her deception about the online business. Same with Andy. I didn't buy it. Yes, Reese didn't tell her parents what she was doing. Yes, she fudged that little detail when dealing with Andy, but it was successful! Why would any mom throw a fit about it and demand it be taken down? Anyway, I still give this story a 4 because I loved everything else.

Christmas Makeover by Cami Checketts Amazon bestselling author

Chelsea Jamison has been infatuated with Drew Stirling longer than she's loved playing basketball, high-top sneakers, and the Knicks. Unfortunately, all Drew sees is the kid who kicked his trash in the high school free throw contest and not the girl whose heart breaks into a fast dribble when he's near.

Drew makes an unexpected visit home to Echo Ridge and their friendship picks up where they left off as they scheme to make a teenaged boy's Christmas dreams come true. When Chelsea realizes she's fallen for her best friend, she wonders if there is any hope of a relationship with Drew or if she's stuck in buddy-status for life. and Facebook

I love that Cami's characters are not your normal stock heroines. Chelsea is not the over the top feminine girl afraid to get sweaty around a guy. She's 100% real and that makes this story so relatable to me. (And I'm not saying I'm athletic, because I'm not! But I'd rather go hiking than hang out at the salon.) Anyway, this is a sweet story of two best friends who finally come together. I give this one a 4.5.

Soda Fountain Christmas by Connie E. Sokol Amazon bestselling author

Keira Kenworth has one focus this holiday season: save her father's old-time department store from bankruptcy. She is not focused on Tayton Wells, the tall, dark, and genius marketing guru from downtown New York, hired to make it happen. He is as doubtful that her nostalgic connect-the-town ideas will succeed as she is about his numbers-first plan. However, it's not just their different approaches that cause sparks to fly. Working together on a fast deadline to save the store before Christmas, the unspoken connection between them grows. But will the tough decisions they face drive them back to their separate worlds, or will they lead to the beginning of love? and Facebook

Mm, I think Keira was pretty focused on Tayton from the moment she learned he wasn't the well dressed guy in the office. This story gets my vote for the best first meeting. :) I loved the how Keira went off on Drew thinking he was Tayton. The rest of the story kept that same playful vibe and it was great. My other favorite moment is when Tayton shows up after the fire. He's there when Keira allows herself to fall apart. I give this one a 4.5.

Hope for Christmas by Rachelle J. Christensen Amazon bestselling & award-winning author

Anika Fletcher hates Christmas--its promises of good tidings and hope for the future are as tinseled as the ornaments on Kenworth's Hope Tree. Despite her feelings, Anika wants to maintain her daughter's faith in the magic of the season and gladly accepts a second job working with the handsome Carlos Rodriguez to restore Kenworth's old fashioned soda fountain. Carlos is no stranger to hard times and slowly shares his life of light and joy with Anika as they work together. Just as her fragile soul begins to feel hope again, an ill-timed act of charity changes everything. Anika isn't sure who she can trust or if hope is worth nurturing--especially at Christmas when it's easy to enjoy a kiss and believe love can last longer than the season. and Facebook

This story is heartbreaking. A single mother struggles to find her faith through the season when it should be easy to find. However, watching your world fall apart while your little girl dreams of Christmas day is really hard. I loved Carlos and how much he wants to help. He tries so hard not to push, and yet he does when Anika really needs it. Another 4.5!

One Winter Night by Heather Tullis Amazon bestselling author

Jonah Owens thought moving to Echo Ridge to open his art gallery would solve all of his problems. The need to sell his grandma's house adds an unexpected complication. It would be easier if his neighbor didn't have all those farm animals.

Kaya Feidler's family has owned their land for nearly a hundred years--long before the neighbors were there. There's no way she's giving up the animal therapy business she's been struggling to make profitable. She gets a temp job helping Jonah in the gallery. Spending time together is a recipe for romance, but can they overcome their own hangups to be more than friends? and Facebook

This story made me smile so much! I loved that Kaya is strong and gutsy. Even though she knows Jonah has something against her (could it be the chicken she took to the rehabilitation center his grandma is at?) she still shows up on his door to apply for a job when she's forced to quit hers at Kenworth's. I love when two people work well together to get over their preconceived notions.  Well, Jonah's preconceived notions at least. 4.5!

I love these clean romances. I don't have to worry about skipping scenes, or language, or anything else. Even better, all of these stories are about the same community. They are perhaps my new favorite style of stories. I like getting to know several people from town and watch how their paths cross. I give the collection a 4.5.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

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