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Year in Review: 2022

Reviews are curious things. We review abilities and actions, bills and budgets, causes and effects, and many other things. Each review brings us to what we care about most and why we care most about it.

Looking back on 2022, and quite honestly 2021 too, I cared a lot about what happened.

I learned that as I truly treasured myself in each moment of my day—whether spending time recharging, enjoying intentional conversations, learning something new, experiencing (fun) challenges and growth in my editing and writing business—I can point to moments as a whole that energized me, brought fulfillment, and gave me a sense of deeper purpose.

Focusing on my physical health was a gift I didn’t know I needed. This was quite the journey as I sought to improve and change daily life, activities, and priorities. To say it was hard work is an understatement, and the required stamina seemed like a mountain sometimes. But the hard work paid off, the value I gained rewarding, fulfilling, and life-giving.

Speaking to several groups of professional writing college students filled me up, and as I engaged with them in whatever topics they were exploring or supporting them in whatever questions they had, I saw how their gifts and talents were being shaped and sharpened in real time.

Choosing to reduce social media time exponentially increased my connection with others, God, and myself. With the freedom to be intentional helped me value my time and resources so that they would be used optimally. I’m reminded of the quote (loosely paraphrased) by Allen Arnold that is on my fridge, Who and how often I serve is critical, because if I’m serving everyone and everywhere, I’m not serving anyone anywhere. This concept has been a gift to me in recent years as I’ve honed my big-heart skills and fine tuned my resources.

Deciding to hire a business coach infused my personal and professional life with rest, peace, and joy. For several years I knew that I was hustling more than I needed to, but I didn’t know how to slow down—or didn’t want to. In giving myself grace and going at a pace with God’s grace, I realized that hustling doesn’t serve me, and doesn’t serve anyone else. at. all.

I have hustled for far too long. I hustled through childhood, teenage years, college and grad school, and early career years. Now the word ‘hustle’ makes me feel exhausted. I’d rather serve myself, others, and God with grace, knowing that whatever is meant for me will be there for me when I need it.

As I move into a brand new year, my phrase-word is Less Is More.

I will continue editing books, author coaching, and serving the publishing industry I love dearly. I’m also speaking twice this year. (Will share the details soon!)

I will be returning to my own writing—something I’ve neglected the last two years—and finishing my second historical fiction novel. I’m excited to talk about bookish and writing news in my newsletter. (If you aren’t already following the journey, please join?)

I will be spending less time on social media and will be blogging once a month. I’ll be repurposing valuable blogs at first, as my online wings relearn to fly with grace.

And I’m anticipating a fresh, restful, intentional year at a pace with abundant grace.

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What It Means to Be Human

“To feel is to be human.” —Peter Scazzero


Often, thoughts and pieces of words scatter and tumble like a pile of disheveled books, the words to accurately match often hard to reach, or even name. 

Once, at a book expo, someone asked me what it meant to be human, and began telling me about their work in progress, an historical WWII fiction that included zombies. I remember saying that I didn’t like zombies. And as a book editor, the idea of zombies in historical fiction was quite an injustice to the genre.

Truth is, I didn’t fully understand what they were saying at the time. Truth is, for nearly 30 years, I was the zombie, the human who wasn’t really human. Swirled up in a tornado of confusion, while the world around me seemed so put together.

But then, slowly, across starts and fits, stops and turns, I began to rise above that book rubble, those confusing feelings, those plethora of words and descriptions … that transformed into clarity, sureness, understanding. Real Love.

I began to see. To truly see and think and feel the world around me. To truly see and think and feel me around the world. To accurately see myself in a brand new light. In the Light. The Light that created the words we say, the words we think, the words we write, the words we read. The words we feel.

And I’m ever human. I’ve even ever more imperfectly mindful.

Photo cred: Unsplash
Book cred: The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero

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Behind the Pause

When I think of a pause, I think of the silence, the peace. And yet it’s not quite silent.

There’s the whisper of the wind, your soft breath, the gentle nod of clothespins, perhaps a musical note or two kissing the air.

Or the simplicity of children playing, birds flitting, squirrels’ tails flickering, flies buzzing.

Sometimes it’s not what’s around you, but what is the pause in your mind.

This is often where silence occurs. Contemplative thoughts before that decided action. Or spoken word. A prayer before hitting Send.

Ah, when I think of a pause, I think of glory, of joy, of peace. Of rest. And it’s refreshing.

What’s your pause? How would you describe it?

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2020 Year in Review

I’m not going to blither and blather on about the woes of 2020. You get it, I get it, we all get it. What I am going to do is proclaim the greatest gifts of what seemed a dark, dark year.

I’m grateful for the gift of consistent work throughout each month, even if I worked long, grueling hours. I wouldn’t trade it for all the silence in the world.

And yet I am grateful for the long hours of silence, even if they frustrated the heck out of me because it forced me to spend time with myself. But I wouldn’t trade the silence for all the travels in the world.

And yet I am grateful for the moments I traveled this year. Mount Rainier with a more-than friend; spectacular, precious moments. Across the US skies reveling in the beauty of the world, and treasuring time and conversation with dear friends. Zooms with encouraging, determined writer friends to keep conference connection and spirits alive. And little spurts here and there whenever restaurants were actually open. I wouldn’t trade all that for the gift of simply being.

And yet (catching a theme yet?) each of these 2020 gifts helped me see the greatest gift of all. Me. Me and who I really am, who I really am in Christ.

If 2020 taught me anything, it’s that I need to give myself grace to simply be. I need to give myself grace to be free to lean, free to feel, free to roam, free to confess what I’ve been desperately afraid of for far too long. I am me. And I can simply. Just. Be.
This newness still feels awkward. It still feels raw. It still feels strange. I know I’m gonna mess up at times and revert back to the old broken me I fought and cried so hard to mend through and with my Father-God friend. Ah, and I’m learning that this is the depths of grace.


As I become better friends with a wholer honest me, I can taste the freedom. It’s there. It’s here. It’s glorious. It’s sacred. It’s peaceful. It’s love. And 2021 is looking mighty fine, and I am ever so grateful.

What is your 2020 takeaway? Let me know in the comments!

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Punctuation Series: How to Edit Slashes


We’re toward the end of our self-editing blog post punctuation series, but it certainly is not the end of the self-editing blog posts! In 2020, I’m planning a fiction and nonfiction course available in this similar blog post format to help writers nail down those sometimes tricky nuances of self-editing.

And sometimes the tricks are small, like the slashes we’re going to cover in today’s blog post. But though they are small, they are mighty in presentation—because that’s been the focus of this series, to ensure our manuscript presentation is spot-on for agents, editors, and readers, and for you, because when our presentation is beautiful, it’s something to be even prouder of, isn’t it?

Using slashes is important for both genres: fiction and nonfiction, believe it or not.

You might think it strange using slashes in fiction. . . well, how about fantasy or science fiction, where there’s occasionally that word or turn of phrase that just requires the slash? Like, the Hyperdrive 437/895 or Sector 222 maneuvering into the 343/898 realm.

I’ll be referring to The Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition, chapter six.

You may have always known the slash as the slash. But there’s another name for it. Several, actually. Yeah, I didn’t know that either, but I think it’s really cool!

  • The slash / is also known as slant or forward slash. OK, those we know. . .
  • But—the slash / is also known as virgule. Say, what?
  • And, the slash / is also known as solidus.

I see now how the slash makes a good case for being used in fantasy or science fiction, ha! Those last two alternate words are definitely fiction-worthy!

Let’s dive into the few tips for using slashes correctly within our manuscripts.

Slashes can signify alternatives in our writing. (Chicago Manual of Style 6.106).

  • Using the slash is somewhat informal, but even in formal circumstances, it can be used more effectively than the longhand “or.” The slash is shorthand or slang for our writing.
  • Sometimes the slash can be used for alternative spellings or names.
  • Now, one minor point to notice with that last bullet:
  • If you’re using a slash and your phrase has more than one word (compound), then simply enter a spacebar space between the slash on both sides.

Ready for some real examples? Here we go!

  1. he/she  Philip/Phyllis
  2. and/or  World War II / Second World WarNow, sometimes a slash makes better sense to replace “and” in a sentence. For instance, a Jekyll/Hyde personality, a BS/MS program, or an addition/deletion error. These slashes would refer to the phrases as an equal opportunity or offers both options, or includes both things.

Using slashes that span two years (Chicago Manual of Style 6.107).

  • If you’re using dates with the difference of one year, then a slash is a better option to use than an en dash.
  • For example, Between 1943/44 the US was in the thick of a world war.

Using slashes in breaks with poetry (Chicago Manual of Style 6.111).

  • We see poetry in both fiction and nonfiction, and knowing where to put those breaks is super helpful.
  • If you’re writing two or more lines of poetry, rather than using a comma at the end of each stanza, use a slash at the end of each stanza break.
  • For example, “A word is dead / When it is said, / Some say. / I say it just / Begins to live / That day.”

Using slashes with URLs and other paths (Chicago Manual of Style 6.112).

  • We see this mostly in endnotes, bibliographies, sources cited, etc. And sometimes we see them in prose, but not often. (Again, it’s also useful for science fiction genres.)
  • Slashes are great for URLs, file paths, and certain directions, including where to find something in Word.
  • With URLs, insert a slash with each part. For example, Or,
  • If you’re using any kind of resources page at the end of your book (this applies mostly to nonfiction), and a URL happens to be part of the resources used, it’s good to separate part of the link after the slash, not before.
  • With file path directions, it’s best to outline it this way for ease and clarity: To find Track Changes in Word, in the toolbar, go to Review/Tracking and click the down arrow to select Track Changes on/off or to see in Simple Markup, All Markup, or No Markup.

How’s that for a very brief introductory to using the slash that’s sometimes used but so often tricky to use?

Using the well-placed slash is important because your overall presentation makes a world of difference to your editor, agent, publisher, and readers. That may seem counterintuitive because the writing is equally important, but it’s the presentation that enhances your credibility as a writer. (Especially if you self-publish and are doing your own first-draft editing.)

Pro Tip :: I’m creating a few cheat sheets on some of the topics I’ve covered so far, and if you’d like to be in the loop for when they’ll be ready, just go to my website and email me, letting me know you’d like to be added to my Grammar List!! I look forward to seeing you!

Please take a minute and join in the discussion! I’d love to hear from you!

Conversation Time!! What kinds of things would you like to see in my upcoming Fiction and Nonfiction self-editing courses? This can be anywhere from finding the “need,” how to edit character, scene, or dialogue, or anything else that you have been curious about! Drop a line in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!

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Punctuation Series: How to Edit Foreign Quotation Marks


Have you ever tried to read a book in a foreign language? Perhaps some of you have. I’ve tried reading Spanish and German, and when I didn’t know either language, I got all turned around by how they used quotation marks. So, to quotation mark or not to quotation mark, that is the question. More like, going into the quirky, fun side of the quotation mark!

I’ll be referring to The Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition, chapter six.

Since this element of grammar has so much to say (whoever knew there was so much to say about quotation marks?), I’ll touch on the highlights, and also give a glimpse into quotation  marks for foreign language, too. And since so many of our books are being published in different languages, I thought this would be super cool to talk about!

Using quotation marks with other punctuation in the text. (Chicago Manual of Style 6.114).

  • Yeah, it can get tricky sometimes, especially when our fingers are typing faster than we can keep up.
  • So, in using quotation marks with commas, we know that the quotation marks are  generally placed *outside of commas, question marks, exclamation points, but *inside colons and semicolons.
  • But what about when foreign language is involved?

Using “smart” quotation marks (Chicago Manual of Style 6.115).

  • Call me a smarty pants, but it’s universally acknowledged in the professional publishing sphere that published works should use “smart” quotation marks. Because we’re smart. I really think it has to do with the way this punctuation looks: curly in form, instead of straight typewriter-quotation marks. So, curly quotes it is for “smart” writers. Example: “ ”, not ʺ.
  • The above information is for the English language. 😊 Now do you want to know what it’s like for French? Well, let’s hop on over to Chicago 11.29 and following!
  • French. For quotation marks, the French use guillemets to surround whatever needs to be in quotes. Like this: « ».
  • So, an example sentence: « Oui, madam » . Now, for quotations within quotations, regular double quotation marks are used (like this, “example text”).
  • However, and this gets trickier, but I think it’s pretty cool! In dialogue, the guillemets are replaced with em dashes. So, for example, He said, — Oui, madam.
  • German. (Chicago 11.41!) Depending where your book is published in Europe, punctuation marks take different forms. Quite literally.
  • Whereas the French use guillemets, the Germans use split-level inverted quotation marks; or, if you’re in Switzerland, your book’s dialogue will use guillemets.
  • Here’s an example of the split-level quotation marks for German prose: „Guten Tag!“

So the next time your book’s being published in French or German, you’ll know a bit about what to expect where quotation marks are involved.

How’s that for quotation marks within the foreign text? I hope you enjoyed it!

Join me in 2020 to discuss what it means to create the foundation of your manuscript, whether it be fiction or nonfiction.  Think of it as the business, foundational basics for jumpstarting your manuscript and ensure you have crafted the very best manuscript to wow editors and agents….

Conversation Time!!

Please take a minute and join in the discussion! I’d love to hear from you!

Do you read any foreign languages? Which books have you enjoyed?

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ACFW December 2019 New releases

Happy December, friends! Perhaps there’s a book in this newly released list for the book reader in your life this Christmas…

December 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Stranded for the Holidays by Lisa Carter — Running away led her right where she belonged. A new mom for Christmas? She’s everything they’ve wished for. Runaway bride AnnaBeth Cummings needs shelter for the holidays when a blizzard leaves her stranded, and rancher Jonas Stone’s happy to help. But his son’s been wishing for a mommy for Christmas, and town matchmakers are convinced Annabeth and Jonas are perfect for each other. As the storm clears, city girl AnnaBeth will have to decide: does her heart now belong in the country? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Dating Charade by Melissa Ferguson — After a knockout first date where Cassie Everson and Jett Bentley claim to not want kids, both come home to find three children dropped in their laps. . . each. While struggling to keep their heads above the parental waters, and without wanting to break up their relationship, they decide to do the mature thing: hide the kids from each other while sorting it all out. What could go wrong? (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Home for Christmas by Candee Fick — After an embarrassing failure, a prodigal retreats to a secluded cabin in backwoods Missouri where he encounters an intriguing young woman and an old guitar. When the message in the music touches his heart, will he make it home in time for Christmas? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Getting Out of the Comfort Zone: Ayanna by Barbara James — While interning as a hospital chaplain, a young military officer falls for an EMT who is an antiwar activist. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


Battle In The Valley by Susanne Blumer — The church bell tower transports Chip, Caroline and Billy back thousands of years to an ancient battlefield. There they meet a young shepherd destined to be king and a giant warrior bent on his destruction. Will the children survive the upcoming fight and make it back to Palmetto Island in one piece? (Middle-grade from Sutton Avenue Press)


Hope Unchained by Carol Ashby — When a former legionary and a gladiator are hired to escort a young woman on her quest to rescue her brother and sister from slavery, more chains are broken by forgiveness and love than any of them thought possible. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

Historical Romance:

The Major’s Daughter by Regina Jennings — In a western land run, an adventurous socialite stakes a claim on an orphaned outlaw’s chosen land, so he decides to stake a claim on her heart. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Sew In Love by Debby Lee, Jacquolyn McMurray, Darlene Panzera, and Kimberley Woodhouse — When four women put needle and thread to fabric, will their sewing lead to love? In Hearts Sewn with Love, during the California gold rush, a beautiful seamstress finds her heart torn between the men who want to marry her and the one fortune hunter who won’t. In Woven Hearts, a shirtwaist factory fire survivor struggles to provide for her family despite the disastrous misguided intentions of the handsome union organizer who tries to help. In A Language of Love, a milliner with thick Irish accent and a renowned baseball player with speech impediment meet at the office of a language teacher. But the issues with their backgrounds that first brought them together will also drive them apart. In Tailored Sweethearts, a parachute seamstress struggles with her faith in desperate circumstances. A fighter pilot teaches her to hope in her darkest hours. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Rebel Bride by Shannon McNear — During the clash between Union and Confederacy, quiet Tennessean Pearl MacFarlane is compelled to nurse both Rebel and Yankee wounded who seek refuge at her family’s farm. She is determined to remain unmoved by the Yankee cause—until she faces the silent struggle of Union soldier Joshua Wheeler, a recent amputee. The MacFarlane family fits no stereotype Joshua believed in; still he is desperate to regain his footing—as a soldier, as a man, as a Christian—in the aftermath of his debilitating injury. He will use his time behind enemy lines to gather useful intelligence for the Union—if the courageous Rebel woman will stay out of the line of danger. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Silent Night Suspect by Sharee Stover — Suspected of a crime she knows she didn’t commit… All she wants for Christmas is to remember. Blood on her blouse. A gun in her hand. A cartel leader’s dead body in front of her. Widow Asia Stratton can’t remember what happened—just that she’s been framed. The only way to prove her innocence is to work with her ex-sweetheart, Nebraska state trooper Slade Jackson. But can they clear her name before this Christmas turns even deadlier? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Brand of Light by Ronie Kendig — After a catastrophic explosion, Kersei Dragoumis awakens in a derelict shuttle, alone, injured, and ignorant of the forbidden technology that has swept her into a nightmare. The brand she’s borne since childhood burns mysteriously, but the pain is nothing to that when she learns her family is dead and she is accused of their murders. Across the quadrants, Marco Dusan responds to the call of a holy order-not to join them, but to seek a bounty. Gifted-or cursed-with abilities that mark him a Kynigos, a tracker sworn to bring interplanetary fugitives to justice, Marco discovers this particular bounty has nothing to do with justice and everything to do with prophecy. One that involves the hunter as much as the hunted. (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)


Laynie Portland, Renegade Spy by Vikki Kestell — Laynie must fight to earn her place on the task force—even as unfolding events expose a looming danger. Wolfe’s task force has a leak . . . one that threatens them all. (Suspense, Independently Published)


Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

Promise for Tomorrow by Michelle De Bruin, Historical Romance
Call to Love by Mary A. Felkins, Contemporary Romance
Joy’s Song by Ruth Kyser, Contemporary Romance
Hope Between Us by Christy LaShea, Contemporary Romance
The Trouble in Willow Falls by Pat Nichols, Contemporary
Off the Ground by Catherine Richmond, Historical Romance
Crinoline Cowboys by Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Marilyn Turk, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Historical Romance
A High-Country Christmas by Davalynn Spencer, Historical Romance
The Christmas Gazebo by Marilyn Turk, Lenora Worth, Historical Romance

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Punctuation Series: How to Edit Parentheses

Copy of Punctuation-Series-How-to-edit-parentheses-tisha-martin-author-editor

Here we are, nearly at the end of our year-long punctuation/grammar series. I hope you’ve learned a lot and gained much insight from these quick posts so that your manuscripts gleam professionalism on the inside. Believe it or not, this careful attention to all the little grammar nuances in a story is what catches the eye of agents and editors—and readers, oh yes!—because it shows you care deeply for the presentation as well as writing a great story.

Why Paying Attention to the Parentheses Is Important (Just in Case You’re Wondering)

  • Presentation is everything, presentation is everything, presentation . . . yeah.
  • The parentheses is stronger than the comma because it sets what you have to say apart from the rest of the sentence.
  • Using the parenthesis sets off the part of text that doesn’t necessarily have any grammatical relationship to the rest of the text. (I’ll explain. . .)

In this blog post, let’s look at the parentheses. The plain and simple parentheses that actually plays an important role in your manuscript, whether fiction or nonfiction. I’ll be referring to The Chicago Manual of Style, chapter six.

Mostly, parentheses are used in nonfiction pieces, but can be used in fiction also. For reference, here are a few examples of parentheses used wisely in a sentence:

  • The authors who speak to our souls (Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, Eugene Petersen, Charles Dickens) have paved the way for excellent literature and classical voice.
  • The Write-to-Publish conference (which brings in agents and publishers) is held in June in Chicago every year.
  • Hudson’s explanation of Scripture versus scripture (it’s found in Christian Writer’s Manual of Style) is important when referring to works of theology or religion.

If you have an educational or technical manuscript, use parentheses for glosses or translations. (Chicago Manual of Style 6.96).

  • Use parentheses to explain or translate what might be unfamiliar to readers.
  • If a term is given in English, you might want to give the original term in whatever language you’re talking about. For example, German has two levels of beauty—general (schöne) and radiant (sehr schöne).
  • But in material that’s quoted, it’s best to put that extra material in brackets (according to CMoS 6.99 and 7.53 and 11.9).

Ready for some real examples? Here we go!

  1. The box of books for the competition (they are from a wide variety of writing styles) will arrive next week.
  2. Have you read any of the recent authors (most of them are debut authors)?
  3. When using scientific terms, please define them simply for a lay audience, such as the number 1,000,000,000 is mil millones (billion).

Parentheses within parentheses! (Chicago Manual of Style 6.97).

  1. This one’s short, but I think the explanation is necessary, especially if you’re writing a bibliography for your book.
  2. For fiction and nonfiction writers, Chicago actually prefers brackets within parentheses instead. It’s British style that uses parentheses within parentheses.
    • For US writers, use brackets within parentheses. (CMoS 6.101.)
    • For example, (If you want to study how to ask better questions, Dean Nelson’s Talk to Me [2019] is a clear, concise, and easy book to read.)

Parentheses with other punctuation (Chicago Manual of Style 6.98).

  • If you’re using parentheses, the closing punctuation is a comma.
    • For example, When we go to the store (that’s every Friday), we’ll get milk and cookies and a book.
  • Do not use a colon, semicolon, or comma before a parentheses.
    • For example, When we go to the store (that’s every Friday) we’ll get milk and cookies and a book.
  • A period comes after the closing parentheses in a sentence that is entirely a parenthetical statement. If not, the period comes before.
    • For example, an entirely parenthetical statement (I’m excited about seeing Downton Abbey this fall.)
    • A partial parenthetical statement, Let’s go see Downton Abbey (that’s coming out this fall).
  • And sometimes you’ll see two parentheses back to back.
    • For example, The structure for using American Sign Language is different than speaking (store I will go) (I will go to the store).

How’s that for a very brief introductory to using the parentheses that’s sometimes used but so often tricky to use?

Using the well-placed parentheses (as well as the surrounding punctuation) is important because your overall presentation makes a world of difference to your editor, agent, publisher, and readers. That may seem counterintuitive because the writing is equally important, but it’s the presentation that enhances your credibility as a writer. (Especially if you self-publish and are doing your own first-draft editing.)

Pro Tip :: I’m creating a few cheat sheets on some of the topics I’ve covered so far, and if you’d like to be in the loop for when they’ll be ready, just go to my website and email me, letting me know you’d like to be added to my Grammar List!! I look forward to seeing you!

Please take a minute and join in the discussion! I’d love to hear from you!

Conversation Time!!

Do you find yourself using parentheses in your writing? I’d love to see an example! What kind of writing do you think would warrant the use of the fabulous parentheses? Let me know in the comments!

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ACFW May 2019 Book Releases

May 2019 New Releases

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

When Love Won’t Wait by Roger E. Bruner — Laugh at Pastor Dan’s impulsive efforts to get out of the ministry and marry a woman of his own choosing by going against his domineering widowed mother’s wishes. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Perfect Amish Match by Vannetta Chapman — After three failed relationships, Amish bachelor Noah Graber would rather disappoint his parents than try again. But when matchmaker Olivia Mae Miller agrees to provide courting lessons, Noah’s perfect match becomes clear—it’s Olivia Mae herself! With ailing grandparents at home, she hadn’t planned on love or marriage. Might a future with Noah be everything she’s been missing? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Sing a New Song by Candee Fick — Songbird Gloria Houghton has always needed to be the center of attention, but the spotlight has shifted. Seeking fame and a fresh start, she finds a new stage in Branson, Missouri…only to risk being replaced by a manipulative rival. If Gloria can’t be the star, who is she? Jack-of-all-trades Nick Sherwood is just one leaf on a vast family tree that includes a restaurant chef, hotel owners, and even the headline act at a family-owned theater. He’s seen how fame can blind a person with jealousy and is more than content to stay in the background thank you very much. If only he wasn’t so fascinated–and irritated–by the newest addition to the staff. After a disaster of a first impression and financial difficulties land Gloria in the humblest of jobs—with Nick as her boss—it might be time for her to learn to sing a new song. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Pigtails and a Tool Belt by Janetta Fudge-Messmer — The Christian Romance where circumstances seem impossible. But with God – all things are possible. (Contemporary Romance from Winged Publications)

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner — After four years of dating Will, Cadie questions his love for her and sends him packing. Their breakup only makes Will more determined to become the man Cadie wants him to be. With the help of his work buddies and tactics drawn from Cadie’s favorite romantic comedies, he devises a “foolproof” plan. What could possibly go wrong? (Contemporary Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

General Contemporary:

Over the Waters by Deborah Raney — As “Dr. Botox” to the bored rich women of Chicago, plastic surgeon Max Jordan was shocked by the decision of his son, Joshua, to focus his medical talent on Haitian orphans. Embittered by Joshua’s death, Max searches for resolution in the very place his son called home. The selfless labor of Joshua’s coworkers stuns Max. He is particularly taken by American volunteer Valerie Austin, whose dream of a honeymoon on a tropical beach were crushed, replaced by a stint working in the impoverished orphanage. But Valerie’s view of Joshua’s sacrifice challenges everything Max has lived for. Now Max wonders if he can ever return to his “Max-a-Million” lifestyle, or if the doors to his gilded cage have finally opened. (General Contemporary from Raney Day Press)


True Freedom by Carol Ashby — When a Roman slave rescues his master’s daughter from the kidnapping arranged by her own brother, will his sacrificial service earn the freedom and love he never dreamed possible, or will it only end in death? (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

Historical Romance:

The Daughter’s Predicament by Mary Eileen Davis — Can a patient love win her heart? As Isabelle Atwood’s romance prospects are turning in her favor, a family scandal derails her dreams. While making a quilt for her own hope chest, Isabelle’s half-sister becomes pregnant out of wedlock and Isabelle–always the unfavored daughter–becomes the family sacrifice to save face. Isabelle loves her sister, but with three suitors interested, will she really allow herself to be manipulated into a marriage without love? Or will the man leaving her secret love poems sweep her off her feet? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Mail-Order Mishaps by Susan Page Davis, Linda Ford, Vickie McDonough, and Erica Vetsch — In The Bride’s Dilemma by Susan Page Davis, Eve Martin arrives in Cheyenne to learn that man she came to marry is in jail, accused of a violent murder. But has God brought her here to help save Caleb Blair’s life? In Romancing the Rancher by Linda Ford, Amelia expects a safe home for herself and her niece in Montana as mail-order bride to Zach Taggerty. Only Zach has never heard of her. In The Marriage Sham by Vickie McDonough, Texas mail-order bride Zola Bryant is a widowed newlywed. Worse, they were never truly wed because the officiant was an outlaw not a preacher. What will she do now that her life and reputation are in tatters? In The Galway Girl by Erica Vetsch, a mail-order mix-up sends Irish lass Maeve O’Reilly to the Swedish community of Lindsborg, Kansas. Will Kaspar Sandberg consider it a happy accident or a disaster to be rectified as soon as possible? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Lord of Her Heart by Sherrinda Ketchersid — Lady Jocelyn Ashburne suspects something is amiss at her family’s castle because her father ceases to write to her. When she overhears a plot to force her into vows—either to the church or a husband—she disguises herself and flees the convent in desperation to discover the truth. Malcolm Castillon of Berkham is determined to win the next tournament and be granted a manor of his own. After years of proving his worth on the jousting field, he yearns for a life of peace. Rescuing a scrawny lad who turns out to be a beautiful woman is not what he bargained for. Still, he cannot deny that she stirs his heart like no other, in spite of her conniving ways. Chaos, deception, and treachery threaten their goals, but both are determined to succeed. Learning to trust each other might be the only way either of them survives. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Love’s Belief by Linda Shenton Matchett — When the Third Reich implements mandates that require Jewish babies and other “undesirables” to be killed as part of The Final Solution, is midewife Pia Hertz’s new faith in Christ strong enough to defy the laws of man? Dieter Fertig is relieved he’s no longer part of Hitler’s army, despite the reason–a battle that cost his arm. After he returns to Berlin, only to discover the Nuremburg Laws require his best friend’s baby girl to be killed, he must find a way to spirit the child out of Germany before the Nazis discover her existence. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

Shelter Bay by Pamela S. Meyers — Adventurous bicyclist Maureen Quinn and her best friend, Preston Stevens, a member of the U.S. Life Saving Service, find love and face life-altering events on the shores of Lake Michigan. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)


Fallen Leaf by Julie B. Cosgrove — When a DNA kit reveals blond, blue-eyed Jessica Warren is half Cherokee, she confronts her adoptive parents and learns her birth father is in prison…for murder! Now he wants her help in exonerating him. Can Jessica trust the handsome, young Tulsa district attorney to help, or does he have an agenda of his own? (Cozy Mystery from Write Integrity Press)

Bitter Pill by Richard L. Mabry, MD — Things were going along just fine until the miracle fouled them up. (Medical Mystery, Independently Published)

Latter-day Cipher by Latayne C. Scott — Kirsten Young, a well-known and rebellious Utah heiress, is found murdered in Provo Canyon. The strange markings carved into her flesh and the note written in 19th century code seem to cast a shadow on ancient Mormon laws. Journalist Selonnah Zee is assigned to cover the story– and it quickly grows out of control. (Historical Mystery from Moody)

Romantic Suspense:

Running Target by Elizabeth Goddard — A routine patrol turns deadly when marine deputy Bree Carrington’s boat is sunk by men carrying illegal weapons. Fleeing a barrage of bullets, she’s suddenly rescued by DEA agent Quinn Strand—her ex-boyfriend. Quinn’s return threatens more than Bree’s heart…because he’s the one the men are really after. As criminals hunt her to get to him, can Quinn and Bree take down a drug ring? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


The Pages of Her Life by James L. Rubart — Allison Moore’s dad was living a secret life and left her mom in massive debt. As she scrambles to help her mom find a way out, she’s given a journal, anonymously, during a visit to her favorite coffee shop. The pressure to rescue her mom mounts, and Allison pours her fears and heartache into the journal. But then the unexplainable happens. The words in the journal, her words, begin to disappear. And new ones fill the empty spaces—words that force her to look at everything she knows about herself in a new light. Ignoring those words could cost her everything…but so could embracing them. (Speculative from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

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Three Reasons I Feel Like an Agent

book wagon

I have a lot of respect for literary agents. Not that I didn’t before, but I guess I should say, I have a greater respect for them. Because last year I felt like an agent. And it wasn’t because I sat at my computer desk all day, with a stack of manuscripts piled around me…

I had actual books piled around me.

Yeah, you can say I had a very large To-Be-Read Pile.

That’s an average reader, you say. Hmm, well, you might be right, but here’s why I felt like an agent…

  1. I read 175 books in less than two months.
    Surely agents have evaluated this many manuscripts in a month.
    Or read as many emails. . . 
  2. I gave as many evaluations.
    Perhaps agents have rejected as many, if not more, manuscripts, while offering encouraging advice to the writers.
  3. I drank as many cups of coffee.
    Should be enough said right there—for reader, editor, writer, and agent.

So tell me . . . have you read as many books in such a short amount of time?

Which books have been your favorite from your TBR pile? And what’s one on your list that you’re just dying to read?