Stories of faith, life, and love

Author: Heather Greer (Page 2 of 31)

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!

Write Stuff Wednesday with Hope Toler Dougherty

Today’s guest post comes from Hope Toler Dougherty, author of three (soon to be four) contemporary Christian romances. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Hope, and the quote she shares today is very pertinent for the times we live in.

“Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” Jane Austen

I saw that quotation painted on a bookstore wall in a Utah airport on my way to a mission trip in Montana. My fiction writing journey was in its infancy. My first novel consisted of several chapters in a word document, but I knew it was a love story. At the time, I didn’t admit to reading romance, and while only a handful of people knew I was writing a book, they didn’t know it was a love story.

 Not knowing where God was leading me, I wrote that quotation in my journal. It nudged me toward appreciating love stories. It suggested that everyone has different tastes—horror, science fiction, dystopian, fantasy, and, yes, romance—in reading and in writing.

At my first writing conference, I discovered I needed a tagline (I’m not sure that’s true now because about the only place I use mine is on my business cards.) Remembering Austen’s view, I considered it a bit before writing “Trading guilt and misery for God’s grace and mercy.”

The tagline is a good description of my stories to date. My main characters grow from a place of guilt or discontent or anger or fear and learn to enjoy God’s grace and mercy in new-found freedom of God’s love.

We can also adapt Austen’s quotation to our present age with the uncertainty and ever-changing status of the Coronavirus situation. I’m holding onto God’s peace because I’m sure He’s sovereign. I’m sure He isn’t in Heaven wringing His hands muttering, “Oh, no. What’s going to happen next?” He wasn’t surprised by this world-wide outbreak.

I’m not buying into the panic served up with every update flashing across my phone screen. I’m resting in the peace of my certain salvation.

Let other people dwell in misery and worry. I’ll hold on to God’s peace, and I’ll share it when I get the chance.

Hope’s bio: Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University as well as York Technical College. She’s a member of ACFW and  RWA, and her novels are Irish EncounterMars…With Venus Rising, and Rescued Hearts. A native North Carolinian, she and her husband, Kevin, look forward to visits with their two daughters and twin sons. 

Social media links:

http://hopetolerdougherty.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AUTHORHOPETOLERDOUGHERTY/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13941031.Hope_Doughertyhttps://www.pinterest.com/hopetdougherty/https://twitter.com/HopeTDougherty

https://www.instagram.com/hopetolerdougherty/

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=hope+toler+dougherty

Purchasing links;https://www.amazon.com/Irish-Encounter-Hope-Dougherty-ebook/dp/B00XD3NMI8/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=irish+encounter&qid=1585055339&s=digital-text&sr=1-1
https://www.amazon.com/Rescued-Hearts-Hope-Toler-Dougherty-ebook/dp/B074SXJLH4/ref=sr_1_11?dchild=1&keywords=rescued+hearts&qid=1585055383&s=digital-text&sr=1-11

Hope’s new novel, Forever Music, will release in May.  College professor Josie Daniels is good at nurturing. Attorney Ches Windham is good at keeping secrets. When their lives intersect, sparks fly, changing hearts and lives forever.

Full of Character Interview with Neena Gaynor

Today’s Full of Character author is Neena Gaynor.

Neena Gaynor is a former nurse who has spent much of the last decade traveling with her husband, Wade, a former professional baseball player. Throughout the 29 changes of address and the stresses of moving a young family, Neena learned to embrace the peace that only comes from the steady accompaniment of Christ in her heart.

Today, Neena is ecstatic to be back in her old Kentucky home, beekeeping, writing, and being Mom. But first, let’s get to know Neena a little more from her interview.

What character from the books you’ve read has impacted you more than all the others?

Atticus Finch. The rational, principled lawyer and father from To Kill a Mockingbird models virtue. He’s a steadfast example of prudence, humility, and charity—a fictional example worthy of our aspiration.

It’s been a long time since I last read that one. I may have to check it out again. What character you created was the easiest to write? The hardest?

The Bird and the Bees is written from a first-person point of view, so having a main character that was a female nurse from Appalachia wasn’t a stretch for me. Going into Larkin’s wounds, exposing what made her calloused to love and grace, proved to be more difficult. The hardest character to write was probably Larkin’s aunt, Aster. She was also the most fun. Aster also struggles with a past, one that has left her tight-lipped, antsy, and with a hint of humor.

The past does have a way of influencing who we are in the future. And isn’t it interesting how a past can move a person one direction while it may move others in a completely different way? We see that all the time, even in scripture. Scripture is full of real people who had character to spare. Which one do you most relate to or enjoy reading about?

Right now, I’m trying to relate more to Mary of Bethany. She’s the one who anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. Those who witnessed this were appalled at her actions, but Jesus praised her. “She has done a beautiful thing to me,” Jesus said. “She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body to prepare for my burial,” (Mark 14:6-8).

Those words, “she did what she could,” takes the weight of the world off of our shoulders. As a writer, sometimes we wonder if what we are doing is significant. We worry if typing words on a screen and imagining fictional scenarios is worth the effort or time. If we do it FOR HIM, then I believe He would praise us too. So, whether it is in the writing, the mothering, the beekeeping, or even in how I respond to others, I’m striving to do what I can… for Christ.

I don’t believe I’ve ever heard her story with that particular focus before, but that’s a powerful statement for all of us to strive for.

Do you plan your characters and their backstories before you begin writing or are you as surprised by them as your readers?

More than a backstory, I had a forward story in mind. I knew the place where I wanted the wounded nurse to get in her relationships with her family, friends, the world, and Jesus. Navigating the path with some glances in the rearview mirror was just a part of the journey.

If someone wrote a movie about you, who would you like to play your character? Why?

Audrey Hepburn. She’d add some elegance and style to this Kentucky girl.

If you could only read from one genre for the rest of your life, which one would you choose (and it can’t be the genre you write in)?

Religious Nonfiction. I love learning about our faith and being inspired by other’s testimonies.

It’s amazing how one person’s journey put into writing can touch so many lives.

What is your go-to snack and drink combination when you’re writing?

It’s coffee. With more coffee. Hot and black. I blame (thank) my mother.

I want to thank Neena for joining me today. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to learn a little more about her and her writing. Stay connected with Neena through the following social media links.

www.wordslikehoney.com

www.facebook.com/neenagaynor/

www.instagram.com/neenagaynor/

You can check out and preorder Neena’s book, The Birds and the Bees, at the link below. And don’t forget, the book releases on April 1st!

What I’m Reading: The Ravenwood Saga

If you’ve followed my blog or any of my social media accounts very long, you know I’m just as likely to sit down and watch an episode of Doctor Who as I am the latest Hallmark movie. I equally love the Lord of the Rings, Marvel movies, and While You Were Sleeping. There’s enough love in me for fantasy, action, sci-fi, drama, and romance. At least, there is when it comes to television and movies.

As much as my tastes in television and movies span the various genres, my taste in reading has rarely strayed from one genre, the romance genre. Any variations have come from whether or not I’m in the mood for historical or contemporary romance. Through the years a couple of suspense books have wormed their way onto my shelves. But it wasn’t until the past year that fantasy/speculative fiction made its own appearance, with the exceptions of a few that are not in the Christian market which I read to share the experience with my kids.

Anyway, a year or so ago, I won a copy of the first book in Morgan Busse’s The Soul Chronicles series and devoured it along with the second one. When I saw she’d come out with a new series and I found myself with a couple gift cards, it wasn’t a difficult choice to add The Ravenwood Saga to my cart. It wasn’t until last month that I had the chance to read them.

I’d just finished a couple contemporary romances, and I wanted something different. I opened up The Mark of the Raven as a way to cleanse my reading palette. I intended to read one book before returning to my standard genre. My plans changed.

The second I read the last page of The Mark of the Raven, I opened up Flight of the Raven. I didn’t have the third book yet, but I added it to my library as soon as I finished the second book. Cry of the Raven didn’t have a waiting period. I finished it the next day.

I loved the characters and the world the author created. Lady Selene is a strong character, gifted with the power to dreamwalk. It is the gift of House Ravenwood, and they have used it to exact revenge on the other houses in their land for abandoning them to the enemy many years before. Lady Selene has been raised on the stories of betrayal and the belief that through using their powers to torment others, steal their secrets, and at times, kill them in their dream worlds, House Ravenwood stays strong.

Only this idea and the reality of what she’s expected to do doesn’t sit well with Lady Selene. Deep inside, she feels there must be more to her gift than fear and death, and she is determined to find out where her gift came from and its true purpose.

As one man steps forward from House Maris to unite the different houses against their common enemy, Lady Selene has her first hint that her family has indeed missed something in the way their gift is used. To seek out truth could lead to more than being disowned. If her mother finds out she’s not following the ways of her house, it will most certainly mean death. But can she continue in the ways of House Ravenwood and dreamkilling when her heart is telling her the gift was given for a better purpose?

Selene’s quest to find the truth behind the gifting continues through each book. As war draws closer, she is faced with terrible choices, deadly consequences, and inner battles she never imagined possible. Finding the correct path for her life isn’t easy, and it’s made more difficult through the suspicions of those around her and the danger she faces from her own family.

The spiritual lessons of the book are clear but do not detract from the story. In fact, the story makes the scriptural truths more vibrant and inspire the reader to seek out and care for their own gifts and talents. The Ravenwood Saga is a beautiful example of truth clothed in fantasy leaving its message to resonate in the reader rather than being content to simply entertain, though it does that as well.

A Lot Happening

Congratulations!

First, I want to congratulate Rita Klundt on winning the e-book giveaway from my interview with C. Kevin Thompson. Enjoy the book and happy reading!

What Are You Reading?

If you haven’t checked out the Once Upon A Page YouTube channel, you should. For the month of March we decided to build off the idea of NaNoWriMo by switching it up and making it about reading. We issued a challenge for the month, and we’re sharing what we’ve read in the comments. There isn’t a prize for completing our nanoREmo, but we bet you’ll be a more relaxed, happier person if you do! Who wouldn’t be if they spent more time reading? Here’s a link to our video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDUDXWrlL_E&t=2s

So Excited!

The 2020 Selah Writing Competition finalists were announced last week. And guess who is a finalist in the Women’s Contemporary category. That’s right. Grasping Hope is one of six books competing for first place in the category. The winner will be announced at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference in May. I can’t wait to find out if Grasping Hope will take the prize! But even if it doesn’t, being a finalist is amazing too!

What I’m Reading

You know those videos I was telling you about? Check out the comments to find out what I’ve been reading, and then come back here for my next post. I’ll share my review of the trilogy.

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