By the Book

where a love of God and good books meet

Release Day: Relentless Love

This is an exciting day for me. The third and final book in my series releases today! Relentless Love is available on Amazon in ebook and paperback forms.

While I can’t enjoy a physical release party, you’re all invited to my FB live party. The giveaways have already started, but you can do any of the daily challenges between now and June 6th to get in on the fun. Plus, Saturday, June 6th at 1pm I’m hosting a virtual launch party. I’ll do Q & A, read an excerpt, and announce the giveaway winners. You don’t want to miss it!

Join the Fun!

Beginning tomorrow, I’ll have a week of fun challenges and giveaways leading up to the June 2 release of Relentless Love! Head over to my Facebook author page https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHeatherGreer and join the Relentless Love Book Launch Party event. Due to Covid-19, the event is going to be online instead of in person. In addition to the week of giveaways, I’ll have a grand prize giveaway on Saturday, June 6th. All prize winners will be announced during the live portion of the June 6th event.

What I’m Reading: Forever Music

We’ve all seen the saying admonishing us that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing while expecting different results. But I’m also pretty sure we’ve each found ourselves in a situation like that at some point in our lives.

It’s easy to do. And, honestly, it isn’t always as clear cut as the phrase would make us believe. What’ s that other saying? If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.

The funny thing about quotes and quips is that what works great in one situation could bring disaster in another. They’re usually more accurately described as principles, not laws of life. It’s important to recognize the difference.

Just ask Josie Daniels, the main character in Forever Music by Hope Toler Daugherty. When she meets Ches, it’s apparent he’s a successful, driven business type. Josie has been there, done that. Her former boyfriend, BJ, taught her the hyper focused, career driven type is not for her when he broke her heart.

But Ches is more than he first appears. Friendship develops, and Josie quickly realizes keeping her distance is going to be harder than she thought. Her daily monologue includes reminders that she’s traveled that road before, and it led no where good. He’s a lawyer with a girlfriend. There is no room for her in his life as anything more than a friend.

Josie knows their friendship is good for Ches. He knows it too. But will their friendship survive as their feelings for each other deepen? Will her heart’s refusal to accept the truth that she’s repeating history leave Josie with her newly healing heart shattered once more?

There are no easy answers for Josie and Ches, no matter what wise sayings might indicate. The answers aren’t always easy for us either. That’s why we need to anchor our thoughts and decisions in scripture, pray, and follow God’s leading even when it goes against common thought.

Throughout the story, Josie comes to a deeper understanding of this truth. She learns the answers she seeks aren’t always as black and white as she’d like. Pain does come when we cross lines we shouldn’t, but it can also come when we’re not making bad choices.

Forever Music is a great story with relatable characters that drew me in and kept my attention from the first page. I enjoyed the reminder that although situations may be similar, we need to rely on God’s wisdom instead of our own (or that of bumper sticker wisdom) to make our choices. It won’t make things easy or prevent hurt, but it will mean we can go through those times with grace and peace knowing we’re inside God’s plan for our lives.

What I’m Reading: Secrets Over Sweet Tea

Bread pudding. Five years ago, I would have said those words didn’t belong in the same sentence much less their ingredients in the same recipe.

I love bread. I love pudding. But the concept of pudding made out of bread sounded incredibly mushy and gross. To be honest, it still does. However, the reality of bread pudding is no longer something that causes me to scrunch up my nose in disgust.

One day, I got brave. Though at the time, I may have wondered if it was bravery or stupidity that lead me away from more known desserts like cheesecake and chocolate lava cake.

My husband and I were at an Irish Pub, and I was taking risks and trying new things. It was my birthday, after all. And the restaurant’s limited dessert menu left me with a choice between three items. I found myself requesting the bread pudding, and am I ever glad I did. I could be wrong, but I believe I heard angels singing as I took that warm, comforting first bite. Paired with salted caramel ice cream and filled with the flavors of fall, this dessert was as close to perfection as anything I’m going to find this side of heaven.

My foray into the wonderful world of bread pudding was unexpected but definitely worth it. I love it when something works out differently than I thought but much better than I’d anticipated.

That’s exactly what happened as I read Secrets Over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones. I picked up the book on a whim in a used bookstore my husband and I frequent. With all the seriousness going on in our world currently, I wanted a light read, full of humor and good times. The cover was inviting, the author new to me, and the back spoke of a boisterous southern pastor’s wife. It sounded like a perfect little ball of fluff for my weekend.

Scarlett Jo Newberry is as full of life and love as the back promised she would be. Not your typical pastor’s wife, her outgoing, outrageous personality is a turn off to some, but as people warm up to the woman underneath they see what an asset she is to their church and community.

But this story isn’t all fun and games. There’s a lot of heavy stuff in the secrets her congregation tries to hide. From adultery and addiction to divorce and sexual assault, all the characters twined together in the story have a serious, real to life issue they’re trying to keep secret. When truth comes out, the resulting mess is not easily contained.

It would have been easy for Secrets Over Sweet Tea to leave one bogged down with the reality of it all. It would also have been easy for the story to make light of the heavy issues and avoid any talk of repercussions. This story doesn’t go either of those directions.

Real issues are dealt with in truthful, scriptural ways. Discussions around how each person’s decisions affect those around them are realistic and honest. But the story balances the heaviness of the themes with faith and the vibrant personality of Scarlett Jo. The end result is an entertaining, truth filled story that makes you want to go back for seconds.

https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Over-Sweet-Tea/dp/B00FE3IFB4/

What I’m Reading: Turtles in the Road

Have you ever seen yourself in a character only to cringe with the realization that you related to them a little too much? I know you’re all thinking about the character right now. The one whose character flaws are just a little too real for you, because they’re your flaws too. Their pain is a smidge too real for you, because it’s yours too. Or maybe you can sense their embarrassment, because you too fell in the mud in front of a cute stranger, dressed in sporting equipment armor, while trying to annihilate your reptilian foe.

Okay. Realistically, I doubt any of us can actually say we’ve been there, done that to the whole mud hole/reptilian enemy thing. Piper Cope, the main character in Turtles in the Road by Kaley and Rhonda Rhea, probably owns the rights to that particular humiliation. But, I can still relate.

There are few people that get to experience the embarrassing, quirky awkwardness that is me up close and in person. Don’t get me wrong. I embarrass myself regularly. And, yes, I’ve done it in front of cute guys, colleagues, teachers, family, friends, and many brothers and sisters in Christ. I believe in equal opportunity embarrassment and awkwardness. If I ever say anything completely brow furrowing in front of you, know I will think about it long after you’ve forgotten it. If I ever trip over nothing at all in front of you, know you aren’t alone in seeing that particular feat of natural, unrefined grace.

These are aspects of my personality I cannot hide, no matter how hard I try. But the quirkiness I’m a little better at disguising. I’m not talking about liking shows you think are weird or wanting pineapple on my pizza. I’m talking about really letting go and letting the inner Jessica Day (a New Girl reference) shine. She’s in there. And other than my parents, husband, and kids (I am so sorry kids. Really. I am sorry), there are few people who can even occasionally move me into that quirky territory. It’s attention grabbing, and I don’t like being the center of attention in that way.

But I relate to the Jessica Day’s and Piper Cope’s of the world. My inner me loves the freedom they have in being exactly who they are despite the hilarious and awkward consequences. I wish I could free that person in myself.

I may not feel at ease to bring the awkward out full force in my life, but I definitely enjoy experiencing it through characters like Piper. Stranded in a town she’s never heard of and relying on the kindness of strangers to get by and still she lets her quirky self shine full-force. And she even gets to learn about herself and her faith in the process. That’s a win to me.

I picked up Turtles in the Road after a particularly draining day at work. I wanted romance, but I wanted fun to lighten the load. If I got a dose of faith truth to go with it, even better. I got all of these and more as I laughed my way through the exploits of Piper and a host of other characters, some just as quirky as Piper. In times when we all need to erase some of the seriousness of the day to day, I hope we can find our Turtles in the Road and handle them with the gusto of Piper Cope.

What I’m Reading: A Love So Real

Technological advances have made changed so many life activities.

Don’t like to shop? Order that outfit online. Maybe you’ll even get free delivery.

Have a global pandemic going on? Don’t risk it. Order your groceries online. The employees will even bring your bags to your car.

Have a loved one living thousands of miles away? You don’t have to rely on snail mail that will take days to arrive. An email will reach them instantaneously. And forget having to wait to see them. You have your pick of apps that will let you video chat with them right now.

So many of the capabilities that come with advances in technology are wonderful. They make things easier for us, especially in times like those we’ve been dealing with lately.

But easier isn’t always better, and the downside of technology isn’t always easy to see. Technology has given us instant news, but our feeds are filled with biased or even fake news that isn’t always easy to recognize. Even photographs which used to help confirm facts in a story can no longer be trusted. Great editing software has made it possible to twist the details of a picture until it becomes a work of fiction. A very believable work of fiction.

Then, there’s the social media celebrities. We invite them into our homes. We listen to their stories, accept their views as easily as if they were proven professionals on the subjects they’re discussing, and buy into the latest products they showcase. Their sparkling personalities draw us in, and we begin to think we know them. It’s almost like we’re friends. Even their behind the scenes glimpses into their lives are carefully constructed to project the image that goes along with their brand.

I’d say it takes a scandal to get a real glimpse at the man behind the curtain, but even the scandals can be fabricated. People can say anything they want and another person’s life is ruined without any real proof of wrongdoing.

Technology has opened up so much for us, but it is a double edged sword. I think Arianna “Anna” Carrington, from A Love So Real by Kimberly Rae Jordan, would agree. Anna is growing an empire through use of social media. What started as a hobby has grown into a legitimate business as a social media influencer. She even has her own line of home products available in stores.

Unlike others, Anna prides herself on keeping everything real for her followers. She carefully chooses the products she showcases on social media. She actually does the projects shown in her videos. She has the trust of millions, and she doesn’t take that lightly.

When a mistake leaves her brand open to scrutiny and judgment, Anna leaves LA without a destination in mind. She needs to find answers on how to handle the threatening scandal. She needs time to herself. And she needs hope that everything can work out.

When she passes a sign for New Hope Falls, Anna decides this is the place to find her answers. The quaint town full of friendly people that could be straight out of a Hallmark movie is exactly what Anna needs. As she builds friendships, she manages to avoid the specifics of her situation while still being honest with those she’s beginning to care for.

Eli McNamara may not be savvy about who’s who in social media, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have baggage of his own. As Anna’s friendship with him begins to grow into more, the nudge to share his past with her grows stronger. By the time his past pushes its way into his present, it may be too late.

Their different lifestyles are enough to make Anna and Eli rethink their new interest in each other, but their city girl meets country boy issues are child’s play next to the scandals that threaten to drive them apart. Can Eli handle the truth of why Anna left LA? Will he want his past opened up for the world to see? And if he does, can Anna and her career survive the additional drama Eli’s past will create?

A Love So Real puts a new technological twist on the theme of the damage the past can do in the present. I enjoyed the story, but it’s more than a simple romance. It also serves as a great reminder that not everything is as it seems. Wisdom, discernment, and the ability to think critically are necessary in these times to see past the lies of the technological wizard to the man behind the curtain.

https://www.amazon.com/Love-So-Real-Christian-Romance-ebook/dp/B07T58NPDR

Unmotivated in Uncertain Times

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting worn down with all the restrictions and changes going on in our lives right now. I’m not scared or worried. What will happen, will happen. I’m not obsessively cleaning every surface in my home. When I have to get out for groceries or other supplies, I don’t dress in a hazmat suit.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not ignoring restrictions and getting together with friends. Like you, I’m finding creative ways to connect. Just last week, the couple my husband and I usually watch wrestling with group texted our way through Wrestlemania. (Yes, I watch wrestling. And no, that’s not my point.)

I’m following guidelines as well as anyone else whose job has been deemed essential. Besides, I like alone time. It’s not a hardship for an introvert to be home. And my family has been blessed with the continuation of our jobs up to this point. Some of that is changing but not as drastically as it has for other people.

Until today, my schedule hasn’t been all that different. I’ve even had more time at home since weekend activities have come to a halt. I should be reading and writing more than ever. This should be a time of creative abundance for me. I’ve often wished I could dedicate more time to my writing. Now, I have it.

Guess what?

If I believed in such a thing, I’d say my muse has fled. My enthusiasm and drive must have gone along for the ride. I’ve read but not enjoyed it. I’ve written only what I’ve had to. I just haven’t had it in me.

What is wrong with me?

In addition to a little extra time to write, I’ve had a few things happen that should energize me more for creating. My first book was on sale for free for a few days, and I “sold” more than I expected. That’s a lot of new people reading what I’ve already written. New people who’d never heard of Faith’s Journey before.

Grasping Hope is on blog tour with Celebrate Lit. In the last several days, I’ve received some great reviews. One person even reached out to me in a more personal way to tell me what the book meant to them. As a writer, there isn’t anything more encouraging than that. You can check out the reviews and enter the giveaway here, https://www.celebratelit.com/grasping-hope-celebration-tour/ .

Still, as I sit facing my blank computer screen, the will to write is not there. It has dissolved in the face of all that is going on with Covid-19. I may not be worried about the virus, social distancing may not bother me, and my finances may not be suffering with the changes. But my job has changed.

I am not an overly scheduled person, and I tend to go with the flow. I do, however, like to settle in and it takes a little time for my body to adjust to new schedules and routines. From the day all this Corona virus stuff began, my work has been in constant upheaval. Every day the procedures change. Every day something new is expected. Every day as a non-people person, I’m expected to people with people who are afraid and stressed. It takes a lot out of an introverted person, and the time off I get is not enough to make up for this new drain on my energies.

I’m trying to make myself do what I can. I have a new book coming out in June, and I’m working on the final round of edits for it. I try to blog at least once a week. I attempt to keep up with social media. But it’s a constant battle, and I could really use normal right about now.

I know and look forward to the day when my struggles are more routine. One day my muse will end its hiatus, and the next season of my writing will begin. Until that time, I’m open to suggestions. If you’re a creative type, I’d love to hear how you’re doing with all this. What tips and tricks have you discovered to keep creativity and production high?

On Tour and Free Read

My second book, Grasping Hope, is currently on blog tour with Celebrate Lit. If you’d like to see what others are saying about Grasping Hope, here is a link for the main page of the tour.

While you’re checking out Grasping Hope, I have a special deal to tell you about on the first book in the series, Faith’s Journey. From April 4-8, you can get an eBook copy of Faith’s Journey for free on Amazon. During this time of social distancing and spending more time at home, I hope this gives you a relaxing and encouraging way to use some of your time and helps forget about all the craziness that’s been happening around us for a while.

Free Books and Feeling Frustrated

I’m essential. I’ve never seen that as a bad thing, but considering it in light of Corona virus, I’m beginning to wonder. Don’t get me wrong. I know how blessed I am. In a time when others are without their usual income, mine has stayed fairly steady. I’m beyond thankful for that.

But I’m an introverted author with another full-time job and a family. To me, staying home (which I do not get to do) sounds amazing. I have trouble understanding the issues for my more extroverted friends who take to Facebook to complain about their boredom. I’d love to be home working on my next book and keeping caught up on all the marketing and social networking aspects of writing without the countdown clock of the weekend ticking away in my ears.

Even without the added issues dealing with this virus brings to our lives, my week is busy. Because my hours are set at work, I feel like my writing life takes a back seat to my 8-5 work.

But we are dealing with the virus and social distancing and businesses being shut down and stores running out of essential items. Because of these things and the fear they often bring, my 8-5 job as a receptionist in a doctor’s office has become five days of hectic frustration a week. I’m sure it’s the same with any job dealing with people.

This makes my job as an author even more hectic and difficult. I have to take more downtime when I get home. I’ve had more migraines. I find myself trying to fit everything I have to do as an author into the two days I’m home for the weekend. Sometimes it feels like I’m an author who never gets to actually write!

But that’s okay for now. We’re all dealing with stuff. I’ve been blessed with the ability to work in a writing ministry that I love. I never want to forget that. Today, tomorrow, and maybe all of the month of April may be completely wonky. I may be able to write a little, or I may not be able to finish a paragraph on my next book. Whatever happens, it’s okay. I’m giving myself permission to take the time I need to keep myself strong physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I encourage you to do the same. If it’s crafting that sets you straight, then take that time. Dusting the mantle can wait. If you need to get out and take a walk, do it (maintaining social distancing as you do). The kitchen floor can be mopped tomorrow.

If you reset with a good book, I’ve got some help for you. From April 4-8, Faith’s Journey is available as an eBook on Amazon for free. In addition, I’ve got a thread started on my Facebook author page that includes ads for other free Christian fiction books you can get at this time. Fill up your eBook library, and enjoy your You Time. You can find me on Facebook by searching @AuthorHeatherGreer. The post you want to follow begins with this ad. Happy Reading!

It’s Becoming Real

In the middle of all the uncertain, unwanted, and unlikable changes going on in our lives at the moment, there is a lot of good we can focus on.

While we may not be able to hang out with out friends, it’s still spring. We can take a walk outside to get some fresh air. We can enjoy the beautiful colors of the flowers and trees that are beginning to bloom. We can have sun on our faces for the first time in what seems like forever.

We live in an age of technology. We can’t sit in the room with our friends, but we can do much better than a simple phone call (though that’s good too). We can video chat with them. In fact, if we want, a whole group can get together and chat together. Maybe you can even work out a way to play games like Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, or Charades using a video chat app.

Technology has even allowed us to have church when we can’t be there in person. It gives an easy way for people who have a need to find the help they need. And it can give us a way to lift other’s spirits during this time if we will determine to spread only what is beneficial or uplifting to others at this time when we need a laugh or smile most.

In the middle of all this change, I’ve gotten a couple pieces of great news. I mentioned the first in a previous post. But I’ll share it again.

Grasping Hope is a finalist in the Selah awards! The Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference where the awards take place is scheduled for the end of May. I hope and pray this is all over by then, and the conference and awards ceremony will proceed as planned. But if not, it won’t change the honor of being a finalist.

My second piece of good news is about the third book in Katie’s series. A few days ago, I received the final cover! Even having gone through this process twice before, seeing your cover for the first time makes the whole thing seem real. You know in your head the book has a release date. You finished the manuscript. You have the contract. But your first view of the cover elicits a breathless, “This is actually happening.”

And now I get to share my good news with you. I love this cover. As perfect as the first two were, I think this one may be my favorite!

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