Winner of the Mad Libs Contest!

We have a winner of the Mad Libs contest! Thank you for sending in entries!
Judging had to pick Jenna Skye Aquino for her succinct, creative, and clever paragraph using all 5 crazy words:
“Steven was trying the new meatloaf recipe his girlfriend had found online. The last time she tried something new it was disastrous. He had never felt his stomach crinkle like that before nor did Advil alleviate the pain. Hopefully this time around the recipe won’t make his body bloat like a globe. He was a nincompoop for trying the recipe but he loved her, this he would do to support her.”
Congratulations, Jenna. You win a paperback copy of Heartsick!

30+10 – 1950s Lingo

There is a giveaway going on!  Check out my Facebook page to participate.  If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can leave a comment here to play.  🙂

#30and10 Day 10
I heavily researched the clothing, language, and hip words of 1950s South Carolina. At first I was worried the authenticity of it would turn away the kids it was written for, but then someone gave it to their grandmother, who was a teen in the 50s, and she wrote me back saying, “You got the speech down perfectly! it was all the words I said!”
Write your funniest “cool” word you used growing up in the comments below (or on Facebook) to win a paperback copy of Dashwood Avenue. 🙂 Giveaway ends midnight tomorrow night (12:00 AM July 4th)

To buy Dashwood Avenue for Kindle, or any of my other books, go here:


30 and 10! Free Books and Celebration

Starting my countdown!!

On July 7, I turn thirty years old! And on July 21, my very first novel, Dashwood Avenue, turns 10, making me a published author for a whole decade!
Therefore, my ‪#‎30and10‬ countdown begins today!  (Watch for the hashtag on Facebook and Twitter  🙂
For thirty days, I will tell you 1 thing about Dashwood Avenue, and every three days, I’ll tell you 1 thing about myself. 30 things about Dashwood, 10 about myself. 🙂 Make sure you like the page to stay up on the fun. ALSO, for the week before my birthday, Dashwood Avenue, kindle edition, will be FREE! And every three days, I will give one commenter a FREE autographed paperback copy of Dashwood Avenue. 🙂
Let the month-long celebration begin!

First fact: 
1. I grew up on Nancy Drew and Edgar Allen Poe award winners and American Girl history mysteries, so my very first book was a historical mystery set in the 50s. Except Dashwood Avenue has a unique twist: the characters are all homeschooled! Feeling the need for more homeschooler-centric Christian fiction, I hope Dashwood Avenue stands out as a one-of-a-kind book for ages 8+! 🙂


Learn a New Martial Art with Bensin!

Hello to all!  (Read all the way to the bottom for a giveaway.  I entered!)

I have been making a ton of new author friends these days.  Networking has been a joy and a mind-broadening thing for me as I learn from “the greats” in both my publishing house,, and well as with other independently published “Indie” (self-published) authors.  Now that I am both traditionally published as well as have Indie books, I am considered “hybrid.”  Yeah, I’ve been learning all new lingo too.  😉

One of the amazing women I’ve met and befriended this year, is an American working at a Annie Douglass Limaschool in Taiwan, and has lived multiple places around the world.  She tirelessly promoted Lucent Sylph for me this past year, even inspiring some of her students to read the book!  Her name is Annie Douglass Lima. Doesn’t she just look cool?  🙂

She is a sweet, very polite woman (Haha, Annie! ;-)) who is gracious, well-spoken, and, of course, an excellent author.

Her first book, The Collar and the Cavvarach, re-imagines our modern world with slavery still in place.  It’s a fascinating and sobering look at what it would be like if we were enslaved in today’s society.  The main character, Bensin, is a martial arts expert (in the Annie-inspired fighting style called Cavvara shil.

The first book was sweet and like slice-of-a-different-kind-of-life that made me think of warm bread straight out of the oven (I always imagine books that I read and write as foods, usually desserts.  :-P)  Bensin’s Coach is a male ESFJ, as well, so that was a major plus for me!  The end gets especially exciting when Bensin is focused on freeing his little sister from a life of slavery, indentured to take care of a baby in a house that treats her with 12321454_10209189877929813_5691195618476333666_nneglect.  My youngest daughter cosplayed as Bensin’s sister Ellie for a contest this month.  😀  She wrote the sign, and really got into her role.  😀

The Collar and the Cavvarach was a great PG family-friendly book, for like ages 12+, and I enjoyed it a ton.

In the YA sequel, The Gladiator and the Guard, however, Annie takes the story and the stakes up a notch.  Because of an injustice, our poor Bensin is sentenced to be a gladiator.  I haven’t finished the book yet, because I have the immense pleasure of beta-reading for the author, and just going through the book and writing my thoughts to her as I go – like a conversation between friends (Squeal!  I’m so blessed!)  But I can tell you this book is a PG-13 with more intense action and excitement!  What I love most is seeing all of the characters grow.  Poor Ellie (now I picture my own daughter!), Coach and his Conscience (Yes, the Conscience is practically another character  😉 ), and Bensin go through temptations, attitudes, failures, and moral dilemmas.  I am dying to see what happens at the end!

If you like arena-game stories of survival and courage and character growth, please check out the entire Krillonian Chronicles series by Annie Douglass Lima!  

The Gladiator and the Guard

To whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt:

Ian was overseeing the glads in his ten while they sparred on Monday, and Bensin

had just successfully disarmed Fifty-Five, when they were interrupted.

“Riddior wants to see Fifty and Fifty-Eight,” a guard announced to Ian.

Their trainer nodded, apparently not surprised. “Go,” he told Bensin and Fifty.

Bensin started to unbuckle the shil he was wearing, but the guard stopped him

with a shake of the head. “You’ll need that. Bring the cavvarach too.”

They crossed the large room, skirting the other tens’ training zones. Bensin and

Fifty glanced over their shoulders every now and then to see where the guard wanted

them to go. Guards never led the way in the arena; they always made glads walk ahead.

They don’t trust us not to attack them from behind.

At the other end of the room, a group of about twenty glads had gathered in

front of the training manager. The tall Skeyvian was laughing and joking with them like

no one else in the arena ever did. Riddior was easy to get along with.

“So,” he said, when Bensin and Fifty had joined them. “You’re all here because

you’re the best of our best at cavvara shil, and you’re going to get to prove it to the world

next Sunday.”

Instantly, a knot formed in Bensin’s stomach. I’m not ready to fight again. Sure, he

had been taking some sort of herbal concoction every day — down from twice a day at

the beginning — that was supposed to hasten the healing process, and it did seem to be

working. True, when he had been summoned to the clinic last week, Doc had taken

another X-ray and announced that his rib was back to normal. It didn’t hurt anymore

when he stretched or breathed deeply. His concussion symptoms were long gone, his

nose was better, and the wound on his face only really hurt if he tried to smile too wide.

But he hadn’t found many things to smile about, so that wasn’t a problem.

Still, Bensin didn’t feel ready to pick up a cavvarach again and face possible death

and dismemberment out on the sand.

Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and
later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her
husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at
Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since
her childhood, and to date has published twelve books (two YA action and
adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, and five anthologies of her
students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially
fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

Connect with the Author Online:


100th Follower!

I just got notified that I had my 100th follower subscribe to my blog here on WordPress!

On Facebook today, by coincidence, I had my 300th follower sign up!

Time to celebrate!  I’m giving away free paperback books to commenters.  🙂

Go leave a comment here or on my Facebook page to be entered to win a paperback copy of Dashwood Avenue or Angel-Lover (your choice).  🙂

The Solid Rock

This Thursday, I was asked to promote Heartsick at a release party for a fellow homeschooled author who writes clean romantic westerns: Faith Blum.  I’m so excited to join with her on this!  Please come to the party!  Click here.

The Facebook party is on March 31st from 2-4 Central time. You can join her the 3 other authors (including me!) here. There will be fun, games, giveaways, excerpts, and more. Some of the giveaways will stay open through Friday evening, April 1st. Fun fact: the other three authors are all homeschool moms.  😀

Today I have the privilege of sharing an excerpt of Faith’s upcoming release: The Solid Solid RockRock.  (And make sure you don’t miss the giveaway at the bottom!)

Blurb: A talented detective with a mission to find his kidnapped colleague finds himself working undercover with a heinous outlaw who has more plans than first meet the eye.


Four days later, Joshua and Poseidon left the train to ride the rest of the way to Cheyenne. He took a deep breath and marveled at how different it was from Chicago. He could hardly believe his brother-in-law, Micah, had lived that city for so long. It was so hard to breathe.

He mounted his horse and started off in a gentle canter.

“Heavenly Father.” Joshua paused and sighed. “You know how heavy my heart is right now. Protect Mr. Harris and give Elizabeth peace. I can’t imagine what it’s like for either of them right now.

“You are awesome in power, unchangeable, immutable, always present, all-knowing, all-powerful, You are the only True God. Despite my heavy heart and how my mind is racing ahead of me to figure this mystery out, I can’t help but praise You.”

Poseidon snorted and Joshua patted him. “Sorry, Boy. I’m talking too much again, aren’t I? Now, where was I? Oh, yes, praising my Savior.”

Poseidon shook his head and fought the bit. “You wanna run?” Joshua laughed and looked around. There was nothing for miles, not even a hill. “All right, let’s go.”

He dug his heels into Poseidon’s sides as he urged the horse into a gallop. “Yeehaw!” Joshua yelled as he grabbed his hat before the wind stole it. He closed his eyes and relished the whip of the wind brushing his face and blowing through his almost too long hair.

The smile on his face couldn’t have been wiped off even if he had wanted it gone. The exhilaration and intense joy he felt was something that could only be found when galloping on a horse in the summer winds.

Joshua watched the flat farmland whiz past him, the only things marring the wheat and corn fields being the scarecrows sticking their ugly heads over the waving crops. Joshua laughed as Poseidon splashed through a stream, soaking them both.

“Thank you, Poseidon, I needed to be cooled down.”

Joshua slowed his horse down. “Nice run, Boy. I think we both needed that. I’m glad the trains didn’t connect so we could ride.”

He rode on a few more hours in silence, listening to nature, meditating on God’s Word and mulling verses around in his head, praising God, praying, and making his way one step at a time closer to Cheyenne.

Faith Blum Books

Faith is giving away a full set of paperback books! Fill out this form to earn entries to the giveaway. Each entry gives you one point, plus there are opportunities for bonus entries.


Faith Blum started writing at an early age. She started even before she could read! She even thought she could write better than Dr. Seuss. Now that she’s grown up a little more, she knows she will probably never reach the success of Dr. Seuss, but that doesn’t stop her from trying.


When she isn’t writing, Faith enjoys doing many right-brained activities such as reading, crafting, writing, playing piano, and playing games with her family. One of her dreams is to visit Castle City, Montana someday to see the ghost town she chose for her characters to live in. She currently lives on a hobby farm with her family in Wisconsin.













Giving Away Free Copies of The Hotline Girl


Tomorrow, Monday the 14th, I’m going to be on my publishing house’s page – Clean Reads – doing fun pictures and info about The Hotline Girl, as well as giving away a few copies of the book. Some of you will have seen my material from before, but I’d love for you to join us anyway, especially if you want to win a free copy of the new and improved novella! 🙂 You can check in during the day, or like the page and set it to notifications so you get notified of all of the posts I have. 🙂

Click here


Cora and the Nurse Dragon

H. L. Burke is a great for-the-whole-family fantasy writer.  Her books are clean, well-thought-out and fun.  I was very impressed by Lands of Ash, and thought it was amazingly epic.

51rd1bt4mal-_sx332_bo1204203200_I now have a chance to give you an excerpt of her latest book, Cora and the Nurse Dragon!  Remember Cora Jennings, who you were praying for?  This character was named after the sweet little girl who survived a crazy weird brain AVF.

The story follows the adventures of Cora Harrison in a world where Dragons no longer live in nature but are a resource exploited by humans.

Ages 9 and Up.

Check it out on Amazon now!  You also have a chance to enter her giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway


Cora had intentionally passed right by the heated planting beds without checking on the egg. She’d spent too much time over the last few days watching it. She’d tried holding it up to the light, but the egg shell was too thick. Since shells usually grew thinner as the dragon prepared to hatch, this was a bad sign. I can’t be disappointed. I knew it was a long shot. Stupid Xavian.

Maybe she should just give up and … what? Throw it out? Bury it in the garden? Leave it in the planting bed to rot?

She rounded the wall of pallets and approached the planting bed. The heat from the electric lamps warmed her skin. She wished they could get Mr. Algernon to put some in their house. They didn’t smell like the oil lamps did.

The seedlings had about doubled in size over the last few days. Their broad, dark green leaves lifted like quivering hands towards the light. I wonder if they think it’s the sun or if they can tell the difference. She pushed back two leaves and gazed down at the egg. Her brow furrowed. Tendrils from the plants had wrapped around the egg, cradling it. Kinda weird. I hope they don’t squeeze it too tight. With one finger, she peeled back the top tendril. The egg trembled at her touch.

Cora’s whole body stiffened. She had to have imagined it. Maybe she’d bumped the planting bed and that’s why it shifted.

Chirrup.” A muffled sound emanated from the egg. Her heartbeat quickened. It throbbed in her ears, almost overwhelming the next gentle “chirp.”

The egg fractured, a thin crack spreading across the top. Then a tiny, dark beak poked through, slightly hooked at the end with flaring nostrils. Cora knelt down, her nose now inches from the egg. Two bright, black eyes peered through the crack. It chirped again, like a bird, but deeper. It stretched out a thin, elegant neck, then tumbled forward onto its face.

The dragon kicked with its hind legs and flapped its wax paper like wings, trying to free itself from the rest of the shell. Forcing herself to breathe again, Cora pulled away the shell and put out her hand. The dragon wormed its way into her palm, stood on all fours, and flapped its wings.

Cora blinked. Four legs, not two, so not a mayfly … but the coloring was an odd, muddy brown, not bright red, yellow, or green like the other varieties of dragon she knew. “What are you?”

All dragons, from the tiny mayflies to the giant drakes, started out roughly the same size, so that wasn’t particularly telling. The color though … she’d seen a few variations of the mayflies’ typical green, but never brown … and never more than two legs. Four legs was an attribute of the cat-sized dragons, the Strikers and Steamers.

The dragon scratched behind its horn-like ears with its front talon. “Chirp!”

Yes, I got that.” She glanced around. Abry had a book all about dragon varieties. She’d loaned it to Cora a few times, but Cora couldn’t remember a brown, four-legged type. A mutant? She’d heard about those sorts of things in school. One child claimed to have had a cousin on a farm who had a kitten born with two tails. If that could happen, she supposed a mayfly could be hatched with off coloring and extra legs … but what if it wasn’t a mayfly? What if it really, truly was a cat-sized dragon, like Abry’s Neptune or the Striker in the Emporium window? Could Cora really be that lucky?

Abry will know. She has almost all her books memorized. For now, though, where do I keep you? I suppose even if you aren’t a mayfly, it won’t hurt you to spend the night with them.

She took the dragon back to the wall of terrariums. Here she hesitated. Which terrarium would it be happiest in? What did it want to eat? Terrarium D had the best overall longevity. That was her best bet, until she found out a little more about this dragon’s particular sort. She slipped back the lid to the terrarium and tumbled the little creature in.

In a whirl of wings, the dragon darted back out and perched on her shoulder.

Chirrup!” it said, a bit shriller this time. She tried to pick it up, but it gripped into her coveralls with its needle-like talons and gave a whining chirp.

Cora chewed her bottom lip. She’d had a few mayflies try to escape when she put them in the tank. That was inevitable in dealing with flying creatures, but she’d never had one latch onto her. Something in her yielded. “All right, you can stay with me for a bit, but if you try to fly away, I’ll put you in a tank and leave you there.”

It folded its wings and settled comfortably against her neck.


Author Bio: 

61jw0d1zmol-_ux250_Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

She is the author of a four part fantasy/romance series entitled “The Scholar and the Dragon”, featuring the books Dragon’s Curse, Dragon’s Debt, Dragon’s Rival, and Dragon’s Bride as well as the YA/Fantasy Beggar Magic. Her current projects are a young adult steampunk fantasy and an epic fantasy trilogy.

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