September 30, 2013

Avoiding Fear & Pouring Our Energy Into Knowing Him

I'll admit it.

Sometimes, stress and fear get the best of me.
Sometimes, the reason for the fear is based on circumstances. Like an unexpected bill that makes me wonder, "How are we going to pay for this?"

Sometimes, it's based on my own personal doubts about myself. Like when I've got my work submitted to literary agents and editors. Oh, how I can drive myself bananas with wondering if they've read it yet and what they're thinking...and worrying that I won't measure up.

Sometimes, my fear is simply based on the fact that the future is unknown...which basically boils down to ME not being in control.

Lately, I've experienced fear for all three of the reasons mentioned. But I know that God has not given us a spirit of fear. He tells us over and over again not to fear. But it's one thing to KNOW God says that and another to actually DO it. I mean, isn't it often true that when someone tells us NOT to think about something (e.g., Don't think about a blue elephant.), that's exactly what we think of?

Thankfully, God never commands us to do something that He doesn't give us the power to do (with His help, of course).

This week, I read through Jesus Calling, a daily devotional. So many of the messages in that book are exactly what I need to hear. Some lines that popped out at me this week:
  • "Pour all of your energy into trusting Me."
  • "Since I am your strength, I can empower you to handle each task as it comes."
  • "Relax in my everlasting arms. Your weakness is an opportunity to grow strong in awareness of My Almighty Presence."
  • "The human mind is the pinnacle of My creation, but so few use it for its primary purpose--knowing Me."
I love how each of these quotes leads me back to Him. They challenge me to know Him more. If I'm spending daily time in His word, praying to Him, learning more of His heart, then that means I trust Him more.

Trusting Him more means I focus on Him instead of my fears.

It means that, instead of looking at the road looming ahead of me as a scary unknown, I picture it as a windy autumn road--even though I don't know what lies ahead, I trust that it will be beautiful, because it's the path He ordained for me.

 Your Turn: How do you battle fear of the unknown?

*Photos courtesy of

A few notes:

September 27, 2013

Dr. Seuss, Cave Divers, and Dark Chocolate: An Interview (& Giveaway) with Dani Pettrey

About a year and a half ago, I started hearing buzz about a new romantic suspense author named Dani Pettrey. Her first book was releasing soon and it took place in Alaska. Since I have relatives in Alaska and have visited, I was immediately intrigued. Plus, I love suspense and I love romance, so I decided to check her books out. I'm so glad I did!

Dani's third book in her Alaskan Courage series, Stranded, released September 1. I read it in one sitting, it was that good. (And besides all that, I got to meet Dani this year at a writer's conference and she was just the sweetest!) Dani graciously agreed to answer some questions for me and give away a copy to one reader. See details of the giveaway below!

Here's a bit about Dani:
Dani is a wife, homeschooling mom, and author of the acclaimed Alaskan Courage series. She feels blessed to write inspirational romantic suspense because it incorporates so many things she loves -- the thrill of adventure, nail-biting suspense, the deepening of her characters' faith, and plenty of romance. She and her husband reside in Maryland with their two teenage daughters. Visit her website at

LH: Hi, Dani! Welcome here. So, tell me about the first story you ever wrote. How old were you, what was it about, and what was your inspiration for it?

DP: It's funny you should ask. I was going through a memory box of my mom's a few months back and I found what had to be one of the first stories I ever wrote. It was a book titled My Book About Me by Dr. Seuss. It asks a variety of questions which I answered when I was six. The funny part was how my answers evolved into stories. My husband and girls were with me and we were laughing so hard. Guess I started storytelling young. :)

LH: I wrote my first book when I was six too! So, since that first story, how has your writing journey unfolded? Tell us about the lowest low and the highest high along the way.

DP: I've always loved daydreaming and making up stories and I jotted several down, but rarely finished any. I always got sidetracked with a new one or time with friends. I wrote a lot of poetry in high school and did some creative writing, but it wasn't until a bout with a serious illness a number of years ago that I really felt God stirring me to write seriously. From that point, I spent seven years learning how to write before receiving my first contract. The wait was hard, but it truly was the book of my heart that sold and I couldn't be more thrilled.

LH: And what a book it was! Whas was the first piece of your Alaskan Courage series that was solid in your mind before you started writing it?

DP: The Alaskan Courage series started with me watching a movie about cave divers. I thought, who would do something so dangerous and exciting for a living? I've always been fascinated by adventure athletes and I thought, why not write a series about them?

LH: The books have definitely been exciting to read! They must have been exciting to research too. So, what theme is prominent in Stranded and why did you choose it?

DP: I never start out with a theme in mind. I always wait to see what it is after the story is written. In Stranded, I would say the theme is hope. Hope that God can heal our hurts. Hope that He will give us a future. Hope that He has our time in His hands.

LH: Okay, time for a few random questions. Would you rather winter in Alaska or spend the summers in Arizona (where I live, coincidentally)? Why?

DP: Summer in Arizona. I'm a summer girl through and through. I did live in New Mexico for a number of years so I don't mind the dry heat at all. :)

LH: Awesome! That'd be my answer too, but I'm slightly biased in that way. :) Okay, one more, and this may be a hard one. If you could only have one treat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

DP: Dark chocolate, hands down.

Thanks so much for being here, Dani! I hope everyone here reads Stranded and loves it as much as I did!

When her friend goes missing, every minute counts. Darcy St. James returns to Alaska to join a journalist friend undercover on the trail of a big story. But when Darcy arrives, she finds her friend has disappeared. Troubled by the cruise ship's vague explanation, Darcy uses her cover as a travel reporter to investigate further.

The last person Gage McKenna expects to see during his summer aboard a cruise ship leading adventure excursions is Darcy. And in typical Darcy fashion, she's digging up more trouble. He'd love to just forget her -- but something won't let him. And he can't help but worry about her as they are heading into more remote regions of Alaska and eventually into foreign waters. Something sinister is going on, and the deeper they push, the more Gage fears they've only discovered the tip of the iceberg.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: Dani is offering up a copy of Stranded, and there are lots of ways to be entered to win! Use the Rafflecopter box below to enter by
  • Liking Dani's Facebook page
  • Liking my Facebook page
  • Sharing via Twitter
  • Sharing via Facebook
  • Leaving a blog comment
The contest is open to U.S. residents only, and ends October 3 at midnight.

Your Turn: If you could only have one treat for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

September 25, 2013

A $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway -- Just Because!

This house is pretty. And so are the leaves. :)
So, as most of you know, I just returned from a writer's conference. I also spent a week in Iowa with my awesome friend Melissa Tagg so I could attend her book launch party.

In Iowa, the weather was beautiful. The leaves hadn't started to turn colors yet, but fall was definitely in the air.

I returned to 90-degree weather in Phoenix. Now, I'm not complaining too much, because it means it'll only be in the 60s in December -- and since I'm not a fan of snow, this works for me.

But the mornings and evenings have started to hint at autumn, which is my favorite time of year (hmmm, maybe my birthday, anniversary, and Thanksgiving have something to do with this?).There's something fresh and crisp about the fall months.

To me, fall signals time to refocus my goals, to spend time with loved ones, to settle into the rest of the year...and lots of reading!! Because as it gets chillier (and yes, 60 degrees is chilly to me), I love curling up with books at night on my back porch.

So in contemplating all this, I thought...why not share the autumn love with books? And even better, a gift card to buy books (or whatever else makes you happy)!

I am so incredibly grateful to you, my readers, followers, and friends, and want to say thanks by running a giveaway. The prize is a $25 Amazon gift card. I'm running the giveaway through Rafflecopter on Facebook.

Simply go to my Facebook author page here, like the page if you haven't already, then enter! You can earn extra entries by sharing about the contest on Facebook and tweeting about it on Twitter. I'd appreciate your help in spreading the word! The contest will run for a week (it ends October 1, 2013, at midnight; only U.S. residents eligible).

Thanks again for all the love and support! I'm so incredibly blessed by you.

Your Turn: Is it feeling like fall in your neck of the woods? What's your favorite thing about fall?

*Photo courtesy of

September 23, 2013

My Pinterest Board for *The Song Inside*

For a long time, I avoided the world of Pinterest.

I know, I know. As an aspiring author, shouldn't I want to be on yet another social media site? (Can you sense the sarcasm???)

But seriously. I'd heard how addicting Pinterest was and I just didn't have time to figure it out.

I finally started using it as a way to keep track of healthy recipes and articles on fitness. Truly, that was its only usefulness for me.

But recently, I've branched out and tried something new. I created a Pinterest board for my novel, The Song Inside. It was actually a fun way to share with you, my friends and readers, some images of what I pictured as I wrote my novel.

The board includes pictures of my characters, my setting, and different parts of my book. It doesn't give away any secrets or surprises, so no worries there. :)

To give you some context, here's a brief description of my book:

Aspiring Los Angeles singer Stacy Mills is desperate to keep a promise, but her chances seem slim when she's blacklisted in the theater community. Near-divorcee Marcy Mills is tired of failing and will do anything to finally bring harmony between her and her daughter. But when she enters Stacy in a local televised singing contest, she's shocked to learn they've both won spots. She figures there's no better way to grow closer to her daughter than to be near her, but Stacy's having a hard time letting go of the past and understanding her mom's motives for competing. For one to succeed, the other must fail. What will it take for their two hearts to beat in perfect rhythm at last?

I'd love for you to check it out and tell me what you think!

Your Turn: Are you on Pinterest? If so, what types of pins/boards/topics are your favorite to pin? Also, feel free to leave your Pinterest handle below -- I'm always looking for interesting boards to follow!r

September 20, 2013

American Christian Fiction Writers 2013: A Whirlwind Recapped

Last weekend, I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Indianapolis. It was my second time attending this conference, and for whatever reason, I felt calmer overall. I had some great pitching appointments and God really met me there and gave me some encouragement for the coming year.

But the best part was seeing all of my writing friends! Here are some pics to recap the weekend.

So fun meeting online friends in person for the first time! Me with Amy Drown and Jill Buteyn.

Fangirl moment! I got to chat with Becky Wade several times. Love her and her books!

Love these ladies! Me with Jennifer Major, Jeanne Takenaka, and Gabrielle Meyer.

I got to play the Tin (wo)Man in a My Book Therapy rendition of
The Wizard of Oz. Here I am with Dorothy, aka Susan May Warren.

Me and the Cowardly Lion, aka Jim Rubart, getting into character.

Me with the agents of Oz, Amanda Luedeke and Chip MacGregor.

Waiting for pitches...

I got all dressed up for the gala, since I was a Genesis finalist.
I didn't win but it was such a privilege to be there!

Me with some of the My Book Therapy crew.

Me and the Jills (Jill Kemerer and Jill Buteyn), two other Genesis finalists!

Love me some Katie Ganshert! I got to have lunch with her one day.
Heart of gold, that one.

Me and Gabe! We've been at every major writing event together so far in
our careers. It's awesome walking this road with her.

Jessica Patch and I get silly around each other.

Snapped a pic with Bethany House editor, Raela Schoenherr. Sweetest girl ever!

Poor Ash may have had on a cast, but that didn't stop her radiant smile! Love her!

Rachel Hauck won Mentor of the Year. She totally deserves it. She's made a huge
difference in my writing career this year.

My GLAM girls!

Me with Joanne Bischof.

Me and Jess being normal for once. :P


Great group of ladies right here.

My craft partner, Melissa Tagg, and I hamming it up for the camera.

We can be normal...

Gabe and I participating in genre night. She dressed up historical and
I dressed up like Stacy, a character who participates in a televised
singing competition in my book The Song Inside!

September 18, 2013

Proud, Proud, Proud: Melissa's Book Is Out!!

Me and Mel!
Have you ever been sooooo proud of someone else you just think you're going to burst?

Well, that's how I feel about my craft partner and friend, Melissa Tagg. Her debut novel, Made to Last, released through Bethany House Publishers (a major Christian publisher!) earlier this week.

Melissa worked for years on her book before it became published and it is an AMAZING book! Seriously. Go out and order a copy right now. It'll have you laughing, swooning (the hero is quite swoon-worthy), and thinking a lot.

Mel's got such a great way of communicating. Her message is largely based on experience and deals a lot with faith and our true identity in Christ.

I'm going to have Melissa on the blog in mid-October, but couldn't wait to shout praises about her book -- and her -- from the blogosphere rooftop!

Your Turn: Who are you proud of? And have you gotten your copy of Made to Last yet?!

Miranda Woodruff has it all. At least, that's how it looks when she's starring in her homebuilding television show, From the Ground Up. So when her network begins to talk about making cuts, she'll do anything to boost ratings and save her show -- even if it means pretending to be married to a man who's definitely not the fiance who ran out on her three years ago.

When a handsome reporter starts shadowing Miranda's every move, all his digging into her personal life brings him a little too close to the truth -- and to her. Can the girl whose entire identity is wrapped up in her on-screen persona finally find the nerve to set the record straight? And if she does, will the life she's built come crashing down just as she's found a love to last?

September 11, 2013

Worship Wednesday: Mandisa's "Overcomer"

This week is a hard one for a lot of us. Twelve years ago, we lost our sense of security. And people lost their lives, their loved ones.

This week is hard for me because nine years ago yesterday (September 10), I lost my mom to cancer.

Mom and me
She fought that cancer for years, first when I was young and then again when I was a teenager. A lot of people say she "lost her battle to cancer."

Personally, I hate that phrase.

Because in my book, my mom didn't lose. She overcame a lot. She fought the pain every day. She loved fiercely in spite of it. She didn't complain.

Last week, I watched the new video from Mandisa for her song, "Overcomer." It's so inspirational and features a lot of people who had horrible things happen to them -- like Gabrielle Giffords, for example -- and who overcame them with God's help.

For my mom, "overcoming" didn't look exactly the same. But that doesn't mean God was any less a part of her story. He was there, helping her overcome day in and day out until He called her home.

Today, let's celebrate all that we have overcome -- all that we have yet to overcome -- through the strength and grace of God, who never leaves us nor forsakes us.

Here's a link to the video:

Mandisa's 'Overcomer' Music Video World Premiere | Video - ABC News

Your Turn: When has God helped you or someone you know to overcome?

*I'm headed to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference tomorrow, so will be taking a mini blogging break. I'll be back next week!

September 9, 2013

What I Learned from Jody Hedlund's *Rebellious Heart* {and a Giveaway!}

When I received my copy of Jody Hedlund's latest, Rebellious Heart, I was eager to dig in. I've enjoyed her past novels immensely.

She writes inspirational historical romance. I love how each of her books takes me back to another time in history and provides sigh-worthy moments between the hero and heroine.

This book did not disappoint.

But this book also really got me thinking (not that her others didn't!). You see, it is based loosely on the courtship of John and Abigail Adams (yes, as in the second President of the United States and his First Lady). It takes place several years before the Revolutionary War. The two main characters are dealing with an oppressive government and wrestle with whether it is okay to disobey an earthly authority when that authority seems to go against rights endowed by the Creator.

The preponderance of these issues is not new to me -- after all, just think about Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement -- but something in Jody's book really struck a chord with me.

Now, I've very blessed that on a daily basis, I don't have to choose between following the laws set before me and doing what is right before the Lord. Of course there are some laws I don't agree with in our country, but none that really affect how I live my life day in and day out (as in, I don't have to make a choice between the the two).

And yet still, Jody's book got me thinking. And there's a theme that's very, very relevant to my life.

At one point in the book, a character says, "No matter what happens in the days to can't let fear take hold and stop you from doing the right thing." 

That quote challenged me. Because how many times do I do just that...let fear control me? Stop me from speaking up when I should? Cause me to speak when I should be quiet and trust in the Lord?

God has set a path before me -- one that requires me to put all of my faith in Him -- and to be honest, the lack of control is often scary. I'm so grateful I have a God who is trustworthy, who is able to keep my fear at bay, who gives me courage.

Because even today, even in the little things, I can be brave.

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: Jody has graciously offered to give away a copy of Rebellious Heart to one commenter. Please leave a comment (and your email!) by Saturday, September 14 at midnight and I'll notify the winner next week. Please note that only those in the U.S. can qualify for this prize.

Your Turn: How can you be brave in your own life? And are you looking forward to reading Jody's latest?!

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling author of inspirational historical romances. As a busy mama-writer, she has the wonderful privilege of teaching her crew of 5 children at home. In between grading math papers and giving spelling tests, she occasionally does a load of laundry and washes dishes. When she's not busy being a mama, you can find her in front of her laptop working on another of her page-turning stories. She loves reading almost as much as she loves writing, especially when it also involves chocolate and coffee.

September 6, 2013

My Awesome San Diego Vacation

Like I said on Monday in my Pale Girl's Guide to Surviving at the Beach, my husband and I went to San Diego for a week at the end of August. It was so much fun...we relaxed, slept, read, hit the beach (a lot!), and went to SeaWorld! Here are just some of the pictures from our trip!

Pacific Beach!

Mike and I on the was chilly for this AZ girl.

The view from our balcony. I know, right? Ah-mazing!

The obligatory feet on the beach picture...

I love Mexican food, and there are so many yummy restaurants in SD!

Our beach setup

What I do on the

I think we ordered too large of a pizza...

We DEFINITELY ordered too large of a pizza!

And yet...we get ice cream. We are vacation fatties.

A local farmer's market. We got cheese, grapes, and bread. Yum yum!

A magician nearly set me on fire.

At SeaWorld! What a fun day.

We're like two little kids!

I had my husband take pictures of me with actual sharks above my head
(just for you, Jess and Ruth!), but they didn't turn out.

Beautiful sunset view from our room.

Heading out for a nice dinner at Seaport Village.

Had to make it legit by taking a picture in front of the sign.

Handsome hubby!

Don't you love my floating head? My husband is 6'5" and tends to cut me off...
Your Turn: Did you take a vacation this year? If so, where? If not, where are you hoping to head sometime in the next few years? Or what's your dream vacation?

Happy Friday!