Saturday, August 19, 2017

5-Star Rated Books (Book Lovers Blog Hop!)

We're so excited to be part of the Book Lovers Blog Hop today! If you haven't heard about it yet, a group of book bloggers got together and answered book-related questions for each day of August, which resulted in a super fun blog hop! (You can find the full schedule at the bottom of the post.) So instead of a Top 3s post from just me today, you get to hear a favorite from lots of different readers, since our question today is: 

What was the last book you gave a 5 star review?


Laurie Lucking (me!)

According to Goodreads, my last 5-star review was given to Coiled, by H.L. Burke. I adored this book because it was kind of a fantasy / mythology mix, with fascinating characters, unexpected plot twists, and a romance that was just SO sweet :)

"As the ugly twin to a perfect sister, Princess Laidra lives her life in the shadows—until her parents offer her as bait for a giant serpent. Her escape attempt leaves her shipwrecked on a secluded island with only one inhabitant: Prince Calen, who lives under a curse. If anyone looks upon him, he turns into a giant serpent. Speaking to him in the darkness, Laidra sees past the monster to Calen’s lonely soul, and she determines to free him from the magic’s hold. But if Laidra can’t break the curse in time, Calen will become a mindless creature of scales and fangs forever."

Brandy Potter

The Uninvited by Heather Graham it’s part of her Krewe of Hunter Series which I just love!

"1777: In the throes of the Revolutionary War, Landon Mansion is commandeered by British Lord "Butcher" Bedford. He stabs Lucy Tarleton—who spurned his king and his love—leaving her to die in her father's arms.

NOW: After the day's final tour, docent Allison Leigh makes her rounds while locking up…and finds a colleague slumped over Bedford's desk, impaled on his own replica bayonet.

Resident ghosts may be the stock-in-trade of stately Philadelphia homes, but Allison—a noted historian—is indignant at the prospect of "ghost hunters" investigating this apparent murder.

Agent Tyler Montague knows his hauntings and his history. But while Allison is skeptical of the newcomer, a second mysterious murder occurs. Has "Butcher" Bedford resurfaced? Or is there another malevolent force at work in Landon Mansion? Wary, yet deeply attracted, Allison has to trust in Tyler and work with him to discover just what uninvited guest—dead or alive—has taken over the house.

Or their lives could become history!"

Sade Rena -

The last book that I gave a 5 star review was book one in the Summer Solstice Trilogy by K.K. Allen.

"After Katrina 'Kat' Summer’s mother dies a mysterious and tragic death, Kat is hurtled into life at Apollo Beach. Her estranged and cryptic grandmother Rose fills Kat with legends of her Ancient Greek Ancestors from which the Summer family descends. Kat’s world begins to unravel as secrets from her heritage are exposed – secrets that her mother purposefully concealed.

Leading to her birthday, the day of the Summer Solstice, Kat becomes frightened when enigmatic visions and disturbing dreams haunt her. When her visions become reality, her fear turns to terror as powerful forces threaten the lives of those around her.

Amidst the turmoil, Kat meets Alec Stone, her gorgeous neighbor, who becomes her sole solace in an evocative world of mythological enchantment and evil prophecies that lurk around every corner…"

Belinda Bekkers

The last book I gave a 5-star review to was Non-Obvious 2017: How To Think Different, Curate Ideas and Predict The Future by Rohit Bhargava. A non-fiction book that discusses the trends coming for business.

"Non-Obvious is the ultimate guide to learning how to curate ideas and see the patterns in what others miss to identify trends that can change your business or your career."

Jo Linsdell

Geekerella by Ashley Poston. I loved this book! A retelling of Cinderella with a geekish twist.

“Anything can happen once upon a con…

When geek girl Elle Wittimer sees a cosplay contest sponsored by the producers of Starfield, she has to enter. First prize is an invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. Elle’s been scraping together tips from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck behind her stepmother’s back, and winning this contest could be her ticket out once and for all—not to mention a fangirl’s dream come true.

Teen actor Darien Freeman is less than thrilled about this year’s ExcelsiCon. He used to live for conventions, but now they’re nothing but jaw-aching photo sessions and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Federation Prince Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but the diehard Starfield fandom has already dismissed him as just another heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, closet nerd Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise.”

Just B. Jordan

...Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. Ok, I realize this is getting ridiculous, but I love his books. Sorry? ;)

"The Knights Radiant must stand again.

The ancient oaths have at last been spoken; the spren return. Men seek that which was lost. I fear the struggle will destroy them.

It is the nature of the magic. A broken soul has cracks into which something else can be fit. Surgebindings, the powers of creation themselves. They can brace a broken soul; but they can also widen its fissures.

The Windrunner, lost in a shattered land, balanced upon the boundary between vengeance and honor. The Lightweaver, slowly being consumed by her past, searching for the lie that she must become. The Bondsmith, born in blood and death, striving to rebuild what was destroyed. The Explorer, straddling the fates of two peoples, forced to choose between slow death and a terrible betrayal of all she believes.

It is past time for them to awaken, for the Everstorm looms.

And the Assassin has arrived."

Leslie Conzatti

The last book to get a 5-star rating for me was an indie book that I featured on my blog, I’m Still Alive by Kelly Blanchard. It’s the third book in her Chronicles of Lorrek series, which I absolutely love! (

“Sorcerer Prince Lorrek returns home to find chaos. It is feared Princess Mordora has released an ancient, embittered magic user from his prison. He must be stopped before he regains his strength and reduces all mankind to dust. At the same time, visitors from another world have come. They claim the World Orbs and handblades of Cuskelom are theirs, and they want them back, or there will be war. Lorrek must resolve both issues without ushering in another age of war and conflict.”

V.L. Jennings

The last book I gave a five star rating to was Karina Fabian’s Sci-Fi novella Hearts Over Mind which caps off her Mind Over series. I loved her Mind Over series and wrote to her asking for a story about her main character’s wedding- she delivered! Man what an amazing story, kept me laughing and teary the whole three hours it took me to read it! Karina’s writing skills are simply not appreciated enough!!! Go get her books guys! Any of them! You absolutely won’t be sorry!

“Finally, Sachiko is marrying Joshua! But the wedding she dreamed of is turning into a nightmare. Her Japanese grandmother has bought her wedding kimono, but not only is it psych-ward pink, but it also comes with a tsunokakushi, the traditional headdress to “hide her horns of jealousy and independence.” Her stubborn independence may be all that gets her through the crazy days before the wedding. Joshua’s fame means she’s getting touted and berated as “the future Mrs. Joshaham.” Not to mention, everyone else is planning their big day but her. She copes by concentrating on her internship, yet even that goes awry when, two days before the wedding, her efforts to save a patient’s life leave him in a permanent coma. To top it off, her cousins get Joshua so drunk, he nearly drowns at his own bachelor party! Can she find the right balance of independence and humility to navigate the disasters and capture the joy of her wedding day?”

You can find it at

Skye Hegyes

I’m bad at leaving reviews, so the last one Goodreads claims I’ve given a five-star review to is Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge. The last one I read that I know will get a five-star review is a different story. It was an ARC from an indie author. Amazing. Beasts of Babylon by E.A. Copen is an excellent mix of horror and western and supernatural beasts that I fell in love right away, and I can’t wait for the next in the series.

"Betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom, Nyx has always known her fate was to marry him, kill him, and free her people from his tyranny. But on her seventeenth birthday, when she moves into his castle, nothing is as she expected–particularly her charming and beguiling new husband. Nyx knows she must save her homeland at all costs, yet she can’t resist the pull of her sworn enemy—who’s gotten in her way by stealing her heart."

"A gunslinger who cant die, an outlaw who can see the future, and a sheriff that can't miss. This trio is off to kill a Native American skin stealing monster lurking in the mountains. They're going to need more than silver bullets to take this one down."

How about you? What was the last book you rated 5 stars?

Thanks for reading!

Want to check out the rest of the posts in the blog hop? Here's the posting schedule:

1st August
2nd August
3rd August
4th August
5th August
6th August
7th August
8th August
9th August
10th August
11th August
12th August
13th August
14th August
15th August
16th August
17th August
18th August
19th August
20th August
21st August
22nd August
23rd August
24th August
25th August
26th August
27th August
28th August
29th August
30th August
31st August

Thursday, August 17, 2017

What I'm Reading: Children of Exile (Julie)

For twelve years, the world has been without its children. Tough decisions are always made during wartime and sometimes strange ones, as with the Freds’ unusual choice.Take the children from the warring people, raise them to be peace loving citizens, and then return them. All will be well in the world. It’s an interesting psychological idea, although it doesn’t work in the book, at least not in the first one.

Children of Exile takes on the fight between the green-eye people and the dark-eyed people. Their fight is what caused the Freds to take all the children from both sides from birth and raise them in places called Fredtown. I have to pause for a moment and just ponder. Why in the world do we have a group of people named “the Freds”? Of all names, why that one? It’s still a mystery to me.

Anyway, the story, written in first person, is about twelve-year-old Rosi. She loves Fredtown, her Fred parents, and her baby brother, Bobo. Her practically perfect world is shattered when the Freds tell all the children they will be returning to their real homes and to their real parents. It’s up to Rosi and Edwy, the oldest children, to look after the others. However, Rosi hasn’t been talking to Edwy for a year. He doesn’t follow the Fred rules and causes trouble. So she has nothing to do with him anymore.

Being that we’re reading Rosi’s thoughts, we learn very quickly what values the Freds teach in Fredtown. Over and over we learn what good qualities every child should have: kindness, generosity, willingness to help others, resistance to using words like idiot, self-control, and most importantly, gentleness--no violence. The children are in for a rude awakening. They are returned to a cruel, war torn town where half the population have missing limbs and where hatred soils the air.

Shortly upon arrival, Rosi is called an idiot, slapped by her mother, and told to go to bed without dinner for saying cooking dinner isn’t just women’s work, it’s everybody’s job! Needless to say, Rosi is in turmoil from facing this new “reality.” She can’t seem to catch a break as she notices that the green-eyed people and dark-eyed people hate each other. And guess what, she has green eyes.

I’ll wager you can guess at some of the deeper, underlying issues Margaret Peterson Haddix weaves into the story.

A few answers and some surprising twists come at the very end of the book which presents a deja-vu moment from The Giver.

All in all, with mystery and a little adventure, and a bit heavy handed on the message, I’d rate it 3 out of 5. Unless your name is Fred, then you might rank it higher. :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

How to Evaluate Feedback, Part 1: Evaluating the Evaluator (Lizzie)

As a writer, my world is often aglow, either with the joyful colors of sunrise or with the fiery reds of a burning city, depending on whether I get compliments on or criticisms of my writing.

Feedback is tough to take, but how an author handles feedback often determines the quality of his or her writing, because others' comments can make a book sing like a nightingale or burn like a turkey at Thanksgiving. Not all advice is created equal, so how do you decide which suggestions to keep and which to ignore?

Over my next few On Writing posts I'll share some of what I've learned over my seven years of getting and giving feedback as a writer and what I've learned as I've studied editing as a professional. (I recently earned a certificate in copyediting and joined The Christian PEN to learn more from active editors.)

Without further ado, here's how to evaluate feedback, part 1.

Evaluating the Evaluator

This is about getting context, not hunting for fodder to reject or accept everything the one giving feedback says. Writers get feedback from different sources--critique partners (fellow writers at varying stages of experience and skill), editors (copyeditors, writing coaches, and so on hired to help polish the manuscript), publishing professionals  (agents and acquisition editors), readers (family, friends, and later, strangers who happen on a copy of the published book), and contest judges (who can fall into any of the previous categories and are notorious for giving extremely varied feedback).

Each group brings its own background, training, and preferences into the critique, and it's essential to take that into account because, unless an evaluator is unusually gifted in being objective, it will color the critique.

When you evaluate your evaluator, ask these questions:

1) What's the evaluator's experience and skill level? This one is obvious. What's his or her training and grasp of the writing craft and publishing industry?

The average reader can tell you whether he liked the book and, hopefully, what he did or did not like about it (though sometimes he may know something is "off" but not know what). That's valuable, but you can't expect most readers to point out show versus tell errors or POV errors.

A critique partner might know some writing rules but not understand the principles and thus insist on exact adherence to "rules" in a way that would ruin your manuscript. For example, some things should be told because they're not important enough to waste space on or because the subject matter is too hard on the emotions to show. A child getting hit by a car might be better told quickly, for instance. 

When someone with professional editing experience (and training) marks an error in grammar or the use of action beats, you should probably change it and look up the rule to imprint it on your mind to prevent further error. When anyone else marks an error, you should look up the rule yourself and then decide whether the feedback agrees with it. It's easy to think we know the rules, when, in fact, we don't truly understand how best to apply them. This leads us to give (and accept) bad advice. Or to apply good advice badly.

For example, a friend consistently changed my usage of commas in a manuscript I later had professionally edited. Because she made consistent changes (implying confidence and knowledge), I thought she must be right and I wrong. I made her recommended changes. However, after the professional edit, I had to reverse the comma usage to my original, correct usage based on the editor's feedback. My friend was well-meaning but wrong, and I was too lazy to verify her suggested changes. Always look it up. Get a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, and Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors. 

2) What's the evaluator's preferred genre? The rules and expectations are different for different genres. A romance writer is likely to insist on the addition of a lot more physical descriptions of characters, the historical on more historical details, and the young adult author on slang and immature reactions from characters. The last thing my "Jane Austen with wands" light fantasy novels need are characters who storm out of the room every time someone disagrees with them, spew slang, minutely describe the fabric and style of all outfits, act according to modern manners and expectations, and go around describing every male as having either a strong jaw and chocolate eyes that draw them in or bad breath (halitosis being the obvious sign of villainy). You must know the rules and expectations for your genre, which you can, happily, learn by reading in your genre. 

Note: Book publishers use the Chicago Manual of Style whereas other purveyors of the written word, such as newspaper publishers, use other style guides. That can lead to differences in particulars (like usage of the Oxford comma), so know which guide your evaluator is likely to be familiar with.

3) What's your attitude toward the evaluator? As a people pleaser, there are times when I want to accept everything an evaluator tells me just because I respect and want to please him or her. Other times I'm irritated with the evaluator and want to reject all comments. Perhaps he's marked too many things in the past, doing so in a way that tries to make the writing his instead of mine. I've had a critique partner like that. I fought the fires of anger and arrogance (Who does he think he is claiming that word is better than mine! They mean the same thing!) every time I got feedback. I was tempted to ignore even the good advice. If I had, I would have missed some important comments. Recognizing your attitude will help you look at the feedback objectively.

Again, evaluating your evaluator isn't about justifying rejecting all comments or lazily accepting them all, it's about getting context and objectively determining which suggestions are valid and which are well-meaning but not useful. We should always be grateful someone took the time and made the effort to read and thoughtfully make comments on our manuscripts.

Are you tempted to accept or reject feedback as a whole instead of considering each piece? Any other suggestions on how to evaluate an evaluator?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Top 3 Time Suckers (Jill)

I've been working on a project recently with a single-minded focus. Or at least trying to. After coming back from the Realm Makers Conference, I was energized to get back to work. I'd learned so much and spent such a good time with like-minded friends. But once I unpacked everything I'd experienced, I found myself spinning my wheels, getting distracted, and just in general not getting as much done as I'd like.
And it's due to Time Suckers-- those things we do that take time away from our projects. I'm not talking about laundry or meal prep or running errands. I'm talking about those things that really aren't necessary, even though we sometimes make excuses for them.

3. Crafty projects
As a creative, I tend to have several DIY projects going at once. Near my favorite chair, some beautiful Swarovski crystals are packed in a bag, waiting to be wire-wrapped. There's a piece of cool embossed fabric sitting on the counter that will be turned into a book cover. I also have some paper I've put aside for Christmas cards (I have to start early. Fall/winter is crazy busy in our household.)

 2. Social Media
When I sit down to write, I often find myself opening up my email, or my Facebook account, or my Twitter account to see what's happening. This is a terrible habit and before I can blink, I've lost an hour or more. Pinterest is even worse. With one peek, I'll be sucked into a visual rabbit hole and won't emerge until hours later. So I'm making an effort to focus on the project (and only the project!) when I sit down at the computer.

1. Reading
Writers are told to read, read often, and read in our genre. But there comes a time, when I need to put the book down and start working. Sometimes it's so tempting to start reading one more book, because the cover is so gorgeous, and that blurb so interesting, and... I have to stop. And start putting my own words on paper.

So these are the top three things that distract me from finishing my project. What are yours? Any of these? Or do you have other distractions that make you lose focus?
Share them below -- we'd love to hear about them!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Interview with Tammy Lash

Today we are excited to welcome author Tammy Lash to Lands Uncharted! We're part of a blog tour celebrating Tammy's debut novel, White Wolf and the Ash Princess, which released last November! I'll share more about Tammy and her book below, but first she took the time to answer some questions for us. Enjoy!

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’ve been married to my bestie for 27 years and I’m a stay-at-home/homeschooling mom. We have a daughter (23) and two boys (18 and 15). We have two chubby, ginger kitties and our family has recently gained a million or so of their jumping friends (yep—it’s flea season again). I have one left to homeschool, so I write full time while my youngest pulls his hair out over math. I love to bake so I can lick the beaters and I like to run in the morning when I can drag myself out of bed. My dream is to live in Michigan’s U.P where I can kayak, hike and beach wander to my heart’s content. I’d love to live in a cabin that’s tucked in the pines and surrounded by ferns. I think that would be an amazingly romantic place to write!

I love to lick the beaters, too :) What prompted you to start writing? Are you one of those authors who knew you were meant to write since childhood, or did it come as a discovery later in life?

I honestly had never given writing much thought growing up. Drawing was my passion and I loved it until I took an art class in college. The class completely discouraged me and the experience snuffed out all the passion I had for drawing. I haven’t picked up a pencil to sketch since. I would read when I wasn’t drawing and I pretty much read every chance I got. I struggled with severe anxiety when I was little and reading, drawing—and later spending time in the woods hiking and exploring—were my ways to escape. When my daughter was two, my husband and I began teaching Children’s (Jr.) Church. I began to do what I had watched my mom do for years in her Children’s Church classes—I added my own stories to the lessons. I never “wrote” them down, though, so I have no memories of the hundreds of stories that I told. They were scribbled down on scrap paper or random pieces of loose notebook paper in outline form. My writing began with Christmas programs, which got my stories noticed and I was encouraged to submit them. I only knew of one place to try. The Children’s Bible Hour with Uncle Charlie morphed into Keys for Kids and it was there I submitted my first devotional. They bought my first attempt, The Surprise Ride. I submitted three more, but those didn’t make the cut. The rejections didn’t discourage me, though—it did just the opposite. It made me want to write more. I bought my oldest son a DVD English course, One Year Adventure Novel for school and I took the course with him. Together we both wrote novels. White Wolf and the Ash Princess is the one I wrote. It didn’t take me the year it was supposed to—it took me four.

How cool that rejections encouraged you to want to write even more! Which authors have had the most significant impact on your writing?

The author who had the biggest influence in my early years would be Laura Ingalls Wilder. I gobbled up all her books and read them over and over. The Children’s Bible Hour with Uncle Charlie would come in close second. I would listen to the show on the radio or play the records on my little record player for hours on end. My mom told and wrote countless stories for her Children’s Church classes and she was just as big of an influence to my story-telling as the radio show was. I learned the formula for telling devotional stories through my mom, Uncle Charlie and Al Ross, another story-telling genius from RBM ministries. He taught Vacation Bible School at our church in the summer and Released Time Bible Class in the public schools during the school year. As an adult, I’d say it’s been Lois Lowry and Suzanne Collins. I love their writing styles. Lowry’s Silent Boy and Collins’ Mocking Jay left me in tears and depressed for days. Thumbs UP! I LOVE it when an author sucks you in so deep you’re emotionally moved like that.

I agree completely! We’re all about exploring new worlds here at Lands Uncharted—if you could choose one place to visit, real or fictional, where would you go?

Right now, it’s anything and everything White Wolf (just ask my kids). I would definitely have to say the world of White Wolf. It’s a delicious combination of the frills and grace of seventeenth century English society (where I would get my fill of wearing full, swishing skirts) and the rugged, untouched wilderness of the New World. The adventure of discovering a new world and discovering a new culture? *Sigh*—to see world as a sea of green instead of houses, stores and factories? I can’t imagine!

Sounds like a perfect combination! Do you have any go-to foods or beverages while writing?

My go-to drink is cofffffeeeee! After I reach my two-cup limit, I go to the fridge for a LaCroix. My go-to food would be chocolate chip banana bread nuked in the microwave for 30 seconds. And, yes, I just had a piece—but a half of one. My summer clothes don’t fit.

Mmm, warm chocolate chip banana bread is the best. What advice would you share with an aspiring author?

Make writing a habit. Set aside time every day to write a little something. A sentence, paragraph or page—that’s how a book is written. Pieces at a time. Don’t look around at what others are doing, either. Work at your own pace and don’t compare! You are you and you are unique!

That's so important to keep in mind. No visit to Lands Uncharted is complete without Top 3s! Give us a Top 3 list, in the category of your choice.

Favorite book couples: I’d have to say my top is Izzy and Jonathan from White Wolf and the Ash Princess (Sorry! You know I had to totally do that!), second would be Mike and Kathy from Mrs. Mike (a couple from a favorite book of mine as a teen that my mom handed down to me. Fun fact: It inspired Part Two of White Wolf and it’s where my curiosity for the Native American culture began). Last, but just as awesome as my top two picks are Edward and Jane from Jane Eyre (I love their playful banter! Fun fact 2: Jane Eyre inspired Part One of White Wolf.)

Now, let’s talk about your new release, White Wolf and the Ash Princess! What inspired you to write it?

White Wolf is a “self-appointed dare” turned promise. The book began as a part of my son’s English course, One Year Adventure Novel. It took us two years to finish the course, but our books still weren’t finished—so I did what Jonathan does to inspire Izzy—I “dared” myself to finish it. It was in edits and re-writes that I discovered what the book was. I had promised the Lord that if I survived my childhood, I’d tell my story to as many people as I could. If He would lead them to me, I would speak. White Wolf was my voice. I was sexually abused from 5-16. I don’t remember how old I was when I said the prayer—but I remember praying it. Underneath the flesh and blood of White Wolf is my story. My testimony of survival is the skeletal structure of White Wolf. I knew I had to be brave—push past my fear of “being seen” and publish it. The Lord blesses those who are obedient and faithful. A few months ago, several copies of White Wolf were donated to my Christian therapist. There is no greater feeling than to use one’s pain to guide another to healing!

What a beautiful way to turn personal tragedy into a source of inspiration and healing for others. Is there a particular message you hope readers will take away from this book?

1) I want my readers to see that there is NO sin that is too great that Christ’s blood didn’t cover. He can cleanse and free us from all our sins (1 John 1:9). He died for ALL of them—not just the “easy” ones. That means, the person who hurt me is forgiven if he asked Christ to take his burden of sin. How can I not forgive him in return? I learned to forgive my Edward—just as Izzy did. It isn’t fairy-tale thinking that one can forgive a monster. Anyone can— with His help. 2) I want my readers to see that anxiety doesn’t have to cripple you. The anxiety that I had as a little girl followed me into my adult life and it grew into the painful trio of OCD, Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Looking back, I marvel at how I stood in front of my Children’s Church classes and told stories with butterflies in my stomach and a pounding heart. How did I do it? With His help. With His strength, the impossible can become the possible. Anxiety doesn’t have to be something that limits. It can bring you to a closer relationship with the One who wants to make you more. Izzy sees herself as a weeping willow—and there’s nothing wrong with weeping willows. We can’t all be oak or walnut trees—but we do need to be the best kind of tree that He made us to be. That means striving to not let anxiety dictate what we can or cannot do. Philippians 4:13 (ESV), “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Lean on Him during the tumultuous times (as well as the peaceful) and I promise you, you will be victorious.

Talk about a powerful message! Please share a favorite line or passage from White Wolf and the Ash Princess with us.

This is one of my favorite lines from Izzy because it sums up my life until 17 years ago. I had kept my abuse secret for 25 years. I didn’t know I was raising a dragon.

“Keeping a secret is like raising a dragon. They start out innocent enough but they grow. Wicked teeth grow through naked gums, claws grow from tiny fingers and whipping wings grow from infant sails.”

Secrets are a dangerous thing to keep. Even when you think you’re protecting the ones you love. Find someone you trust to confide in. A spouse, friend, pastor, family member…or me…I’d love to talk with you. Dragons are heavy to carry. Get yours into the light so you and the Lord can slay it together. With His help, you will find a strength and joy you never thought possible.

Are you as eager to read this book as I am?? Here's the back-cover blurb:

Eighteen year old Izzy's limited world begins to feel cramped after she completes her self-appointed book dare. After reading two-hundred and fifty books, a thought that had been once tucked away as tightly as the books on her library shelves becomes too irresistible to ignore..."Who am I?"

Memory loss prohibits Izzy from remembering her life before age seven when she was injured in a fire. Fifteen year old Jonathan Gudwyne and his head housekeeper rescued her and took Izzy in as their own, but who did she belong to before Jonathan took her in?

Crippling panic keeps Izzy from wandering beyond the stables but Tubs, the Gudwyne's thirteen-year old stable boy, encourages Izzy to go beyond the property's rock wall to a world that promises possible answers. A scorched castle in the woods and its mysterious cellar reveal secrets that push Izzy beyond her discomfort to embark in a journey to the New World with her young friend.

Here, she finds love and a home in the most unexpected of places.

You can purchase White Wolf and the Ash Princess here. And here's a little more about Tammy:

Tammy lives in Lower Michigan with her husband and her three children. Izzy's home in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (Munising) is where she and her family enjoy exploring. Tammy enjoys hiking, kayaking, beach wandering, "hunting" for birch bark and hopes to someday find a porcupine quill. White Wolf and the Ash Princess is her first novel. She is published in Keys for Kids and has been in children's ministry for over twenty years.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Tammy!! We wish you all the best with your writing career!

To celebrate her blog tour, Tammy has generously offered to give away a signed paperback of White Wolf and the Ash Princess, birch bark bookmark, and necklace (three winners). US only. Enter below!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Your Turn!: Marvel vs. DC (Erin)

One of my more frivolous summer pastimes this year has been getting caught up on DC's TV series, The Flash, so I can actually watch episodes as they come out and not just drool over the trailers I see on Twitter. I also have been known to watch SuperGirl, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, on occasion. And, with the release of WonderWoman this summer, DC is definitely making an impression.

However, my school staff did a CA Avengers (Marvel) skit for the final chapel of the year, and of course, SpiderMan: Homecoming also came out this summer.

So my question is: Which do you like better?  DC or Marvel? If only one of the franchises could exist, which would you choose?

Leave a response and let us know! 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Life Lessons at a Writing Conference (Laurie)

Hey everyone! Before I move into my post, I wanted to share some exciting news! Lands Uncharted has a new blogger!!! Sadly Laura has stepped down from being a regular contributor with us, if you missed her farewell post you can read it here. But we're so thrilled to be adding Julie Kitchens as our newest contributor! Make sure to check out her bio (you can find the link on the left-hand side), and if you haven't read her first post yet, Top 3 Reasons to Travel, you can find it here. Welcome, Julie!!

Now, back to our regularly-schedule programming... :)

Back in July, I had the opportunity to attend the first annual Northwestern Christian Writers Conference here in Minnesota. It was a wonderful conference in many ways, but since this is a Personal Notes post I won't go into all the writing-related lessons I learned. Instead, I want to focus on a few life lessons I received during the course of the day that were arguably even more valuable.

First, I had several fun experiences of God leading me to the right person at the right time. At lunch, I saw a stranger sitting alone. Despite my inner introvert telling me to go find a familiar face or join a group where I wouldn't have to talk much, I took a deep breath and asked if I could sit with her. And I'm so glad I did! It turned out she was also a lawyer who left her job to become a stay-at-home mom and is now looking into getting started with writing. As you might imagine, we had a lot to talk about!

Later on, I was sitting on a bench alone and someone asked to join me. She was from the town where I went to college, and happened to work at a middle school there. When I told her about what I write, she asked for my card so she could contact me to come speak to her students about my book when it comes out! As my fellow Lands Uncharted blogger Jill would say, it seemed like total a "God thing" :)

But what struck me even more deeply was a message contained within the time set aside for worship at the beginning of the conference. The singer made reference to the familiar story from the Gospel of Luke where Jesus calls Simon to be His disciple.

As a quick refresher, Jesus tells Simon to "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch."

Simon answers, "Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing..." You can imagine what he's thinking here, right? Fishing is his specialty, and he's been at it all night with no results. Casting his nets out again was sure to bring nothing but further embarrassment and frustration. Yet, he continues, "but at your command I will lower the nets." And when he does, he brings up a net so full of fish it nearly sinks his boat. (New American Bible, Luke 5:4-7)

I'm sure it's partly because I still have a lot of maturing to do in my study of the Bible and my faith in general, but I'd always taken this story at face value. Nicely done, Jesus - what a clever way to make an impression on your new disciples. But hearing it in the context of a writing conference suddenly added a whole new layer of meaning.

There are so many areas of our lives where we can work tirelessly, only to find that little to nothing has come of it. Sometimes that can be a sign it's not meant to be, or the timing isn't right. But sometimes, you may feel a little pull within you to try again. Send out one more query. Enter one more contest. Make one more effort to become that person's friend. Make one more attempt at that seemingly unsolvable problem.

It's so tempting to say "I'm done. I've already tried so hard, given it my best shot, and it's over. I refuse to let it waste any more of my time." And there certainly will always be a risk that nothing will come of it. But what if, like Simon, Jesus is prompting you to try one last time because He's prepared the biggest catch of your life? Talk about inspiring!

These reminders of how God can act in our lives if we're willing to listen and take a chance came at just the right time for me, and I'm hoping I can really take them to heart as I step further and further out of my comfort zone towards the unknown of becoming a published author. Even if I hadn't learned anything specific to writing, I'd say the conference was a success :)

What coincidental connections have you made by happening to meet the right person at the right time? Have you had an experience where you planned to give up on something but tried one more time with a positive result? Has a familiar story ever taken on new meaning for you when put in a different context?

Thanks for reading!