Thursday, 17 August 2017

Book Review My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island by Carrie Fancett Pagels

By Jenny Blake
My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island
Carrie Fancett Pagels
Barbour Books (July 1, 2017)

Journey now to Mackinac Island where...
A Tangled Gilded Age Love Story Unfolds.

Although the Winds of Mackinac Inn has been in her mother’s family for generations, Maude Welling’s father refuses to let her run it without the guidance of a husband. So she seeks to prove her worth and independence by working incognito as a maid at the Grand Hotel.

Undercover journalist Ben Steffans, posing as a wealthy industrialist, pursues a story about impoverished men chasing heiresses at the famed hotel.  While undercover, he becomes attracted to an intriguing maid. By an act of heroism Ben endears himself to the closed-mouthed islanders—including Maude—and he digs deep for his story.

But when scandal threatens, will the growing love between Maude and Ben be scuttled when truths are revealed?

My Review:

Firstly thanks to Netgalley for my review copy.

I have read a couple other My Heart Belong books this year all set in the west and more westerns. It was refreshing to have a different location and era. I really loved the story. It made me want to go there and see the island and to also taste some of the famous fudge.

Maude wants to run the inn that has been in her family for generations but her father thinks she needs to be married. When the man she hoped to marry breaks her heart she sets about trying to prove herself to her father. On the flip side Ben is posing as a wealthy industrialist when he is in fact a journalist who is trying to expose how men come to the island pretending to be rich to snare a heiress at the famous hotel. Ben is really struggling with his assignment as he feels more comfortable with the locals than the wealthy. He has a story that has scarred him.

As both Maude and Ben seem to be coming closer there are issues arising they need to deal with. 

I loved the different area of America which I haven't read about before. The places are real with the story fiction, and we get a feel of what it would be like to live on the island. Also what it is like when you live year round on a place where in the summer the wealthy will come and stay at The Grand or other Hotels. It then becomes very much a division of the people. There are also other issues that both Maud and Ben have to deal with, which added to the story. 

I really loved the story and have heard Carrie will be writing about one of the other characters in an upcoming book.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Top 10 Tips for First-Time Conference Attendees

By Iola Goulton

Do you live in Australia or New Zealand? Are you signed up to attend the Omega Writer’s Conference in Sydney from 27 to 29 October?

If you are, great! (If not, sign up now!)

Some of you might be nervous about attending. Don’t be—there will be writers of all levels and all genres at the conference. The two things we all have in common are that we all write (or want to), and we’re all Christian.

For those who are a little nervous, or who don’t know what to expect, here are my top ten tips based on what I've learned attending previous conferences:

1. Go for the whole weekend

It’s tempting for first-time attendees—especially those who live near the venue—to attend only for the Saturday. Yes, you’ll still learn a lot even if you only go for the day, but you won’t have the opportunity to get to know people as much as if you stayed for the whole weekend.

2. Most authors are introverts

Sure, some authors (and conference attendees) are extroverts. Most are not. We might not look like it at conference time, but we are. We have a fabulous extroverted time reconnecting with old friends and making new friends … then retreat into our introverted writing caves until Christmas (when our families demand we come out and pretend to be extroverts again).

3. Yes, we do know each other

When you arrive at conference, it can feel like everyone already knows everyone else. That’s partly true—but most of us only know each other from previous conferences, or from online writing groups such as the Australasian Christian Writers or Christian Writers Downunder Facebook groups.

If you’re going to conference for the first time, join one (or both) of these groups and start interacting with the regular commenters. Then, when you get to conference, people will know you. I’ve formed real friendships from my online connections.

4. Arriving at conference

If you’re flying in, plan to arrive an hour or so early and take the conference bus. You don’t want to be stressing because you’re rushing. We meet at a convenient coffee shop, so you have time to have a drink and a bite to eat.

It’s also a great opportunity to meet and get to know some of the other attendees before we arrive at the venue. (If you can’t find me at the appointed meeting place, I’ll be at Krispy Kreme getting my annual sugar fix).

5. You are a writer

One of the questions you will be asked is “what do you write?”. I remember Simon Kennedy asking me this at my first writer’s conference. My answer? I said I didn’t write—even though I was writing 150+ book reviews a year, plus dozens of blog posts on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing.

To anyone else, that looked like I was a writer. But it took me three or four years before I was able to admit to myself that yes, I was a writer, even though I wasn’t writing novels or screenplays or something “big”.

Believe in yourself. You are a writer. Don’t buy into the lie that what you’re writing (or want to write) isn’t “real” in comparison to what X or Y is writing.

6. Be prepared to learn

If you’re doing the fiction stream, Margie Lawson will give you writing tips that make you feel like you’re a complete beginner (but she’s a Southern lady, so she’ll do it with grace and style). This can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry—instead, count your blessings that you’re learning this before you’ve published six books you now realise you have to rewrite and republish.

I’ll be attending the fiction stream, but I’m sure the other teachers will have equally important insights to impart.

7. No one knows it all

We are all at conference to learn. No one knows everything there is to know about writing. The trick is to know what we know, to know what we don’t know, and to be teachable.

8. Don’t be intimidated

Really. Don’t. The only difference between you and the multi-published award-winning authors is BISFOK time. That’s Behind In Seat, Fingers On Keyboard. And your writing doesn’t have to be perfect—as an editor, I can assure you no one produces a perfect first draft.

9. Bring money

There is a conference bookstall, and you will want to buy books (especially when there is the opportunity to get author autographs as well!). To buy books, you need money. Don’t worry about your airline luggage allowance—you can arrange for your new purchases to be posted to you.

10. After-conference care

If you’re anything like me, you’ll eat too much, drink too much coffee, talk too much, and won’t get enough sleep (I blame those native Australian birds which sound like screaming). That’s all okay. Plan for it i.e. don’t schedule anything important for the next few days after conference. You’ll want some time to decompress, and to prayerfully consider how you’re going to apply what you’ve learned to your writing. And to your life.

If you’re a more experienced conference attendee, what are your tips for first-timers?

About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 

I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more at

You can also find me on:
Facebook (Author)
Facebook (Editing)

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The cloak of mourning

By Keona Tann

Grief is a strange companion the barbs of sadness pierce your heart at the strangest times. Everyday tasks can bring overwhelming sorrow.
It's like a cloak you sometimes forget it's around your shoulders but then, like a punch to the stomach, you'll realize it's still there, surrounding you.
At first you wear it heavy like a winter wool cloak but gradually over time it becomes a light silk cape.
Grief and healing is a process that we simply cannot rush! We need to allow it to take shape. Find someone who can help you through the process.
As I wallowed in my grief during my illness; loss of employment; and loss of loved ones I was led to Psalm 42:1-3,5 (NIV): “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God (stand before Him)? My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.”.

I realised that I was given a choice each day - I could celebrate the small victories or wallow in my grief! As I pondered that I decided to celebrate the beauty of the sunrise. I declared that God's mercy and grace is new each day, like each dawn (Zephaniah 3:5). So the suffocating heavy cloak of grief gradually changed into a light silk cape. I allowed Jesus to speak to my heart and He gradually replaced my mourning with peace and then eventually joy!

I pray that your cloak of mourning lightens as you press into God’s promises:
Lamentations 5:21 (NLT) “Restore us, O LORD, and bring us back to you again! Give us back the joys we once had!”
Lord ignite in me a joy for you that burns bright and clear!

30:11 (NLT) “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy”  
Lord remove my mourning from my mind and replace it with joyous thoughts of you!
Lord remove my mourning from my heart and fill it with Your joy!
Lord remove my mourning from my spirit and wash me afresh in Your never-ending joy!

“God’s peace is joy resting. His joy is peace dancing.” F.F. Bruce

Many blessings!

For most of my life I struggled with sickness. The 2 dominant afflictions were endometriosis (for 28 years) and adrenal fatigue (I was severely debilitated for 28 months and the recovery has been a journey of 11 months so far).
In September 2016 God declared healing over my life. This set me on a path of restoration and transformation.
My passion for writing was reignighted and I wrote the following mission statement:
I desire to impact the world through the words I share. I long to enrich, empower and encourage others whilst delivering my stories with empathy and understanding.
“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭40:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬
I've started a weekly blog which you can find at:
I'm currently working on my testimony as well as my journey with endometriosis and adrenal fatigue. I hope that I'll launch my first book soon. Many blessings, Keona

Monday, 14 August 2017

Whaaat? You’re not coming to conference?

Whaaat? You’re not coming to conference?

By Jenny Glazebrook

I know there are all kinds of reasons not to come to the Omega Writers’ Conference. Most are good and reasonable. But there is one that I want to shoot down in flames (oh no, a cliché … maybe I’m not a real writer and all those real writers out there will notice all the grammer and speling mistakes in here).
Copyright © 2017

Impostor Syndrome.

Ever heard of it? This phenomenon was brought to my attention only last week. Well, the name of it, anyway. To tell you the truth, I have suffered from it my whole life. So how do you know if you have it and whether it might be making you hesitate about coming to conference?

Are any of these thoughts familiar?

Maybe I shouldn’t come to conference until I have ‘made it’ as an author.

I’m not a real writer. I only dabble a bit.

I’m not published like the real authors who will be there.

I wrote something great once but I don’t have the ability to do it again. It was a fluke.

I don’t really belong.

I self-published so I haven’t had the quality of my work screened by a publisher.

I don’t understand the rules and techniques of writing. I think it’s all going to be above me.

I’m not a writer. I want to write, but I hardly ever do. Life gets in the way.

People might realise the truth about me. I’m a fraud.

I’d love to be a writer, but I really don’t have the talent.

Some people are called to write. I just do it because I enjoy it. They’re more gifted and important than I am.

I don’t even know yet if I really am or want to be a writer.

I’m just someone no one listens to so I have to write to express my 10,000 words a day somehow.

I don’t write for the Christian market. I don’t belong. (I just have to say here, that we are a group of Christians who write many and varied things, including for the mainstream. A Christian carpenter is not expected to just build crosses and communion trays!)

Is there another, similar reason that comes to mind?

I want to tell you right now that we WANT YOU THERE!

Whether you have written 100 books and have them all published, or once wrote a paragraph for a church bulletin, or you journal privately every now and then.

Because the truth is, we all start somewhere. We are all at different stages of the journey. As Richard Bach, best-selling author of classics such as Jonathan Livingston Seagull, says:

A professional writers is an amateur who didn’t quit.

We all begin as an amateur.

And even those who have published many books still battle this impostor syndrome. Wikipedia describes it this way: Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud".

Maybe you’re like me and even as you read this definition you thought, ‘Oh, well I can’t have it because I’m not high achieving.’  So then my head started going around in circles. ‘Do I have it? Or do I like to think I have it because that would make me feel special and I want to be high achieving?’

However, I read something recently which challenged me. It was pretty much saying that if you’re scared you’re pretending to be someone you’re not and that others will find out – then become that person you think you’re pretending to be.

Edmund Rice Retreat and Conference Centre
So come along to a conference and learn the techniques you don’t think you have. Come along and develop. Dream big! Let God direct you without you putting up your own barriers of self-doubt and fear. Learn from those you consider to have ‘made it’. I can assure you they are more than willing to share with you. And they are still learning, too. They might just be further down the track than you are.

Don’t compare yourself with others. The truth is, no one can write what you can. No one has experienced what you have. No one else has lived your life. God has not given anyone else exactly the same gifts, talents and experiences he’s given you. We can all learn from each other.

Don’t be intimidated by others. Realise you are not alone. (And if anyone else is willing to share their ‘impostor’ thoughts at the end of this and call them for what they are, I’m sure there will be many who relate to them and are encouraged by your vulnerability).

As C.S. Lewis said, ‘Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.’ Stop overthinking, comparing, worrying … step out and take a risk. Be the writer you’re scared everyone else might discover you want to be but might not actually be.

‘For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

Hmm, I don’t think I like this post. I’ve just challenged myself out of my comfort zone.

See you at conference!

You can book here:
Registrations close 10th October.

Jenny Glazebrook is this year’s conference chaplain and part of the pastoral care team. She lives in the small town of Gundagai, NSW, with her husband, four children and many pets. She loves to write and encourage others in their writing journey and walk with Christ. 

Friday, 11 August 2017

Romance Writers' of America Conference: Well Worth The Trip!

In late July I headed off to Orlando for my first ever RWA (Romance Writers' of America) annual conference.  My debut novel, Close To You, was a finalist in RWA's RITA awards which was a huge honour but I was a little nervous as this was my first ever general market conference and, as many of you know, the romance genre is very *ahem* varied in terms of its content with inspirational romance being just a tiny subgenre in the whole romance market.

It was also my first ever trip to Orlando and I can vouch that the heat and humidity of Florida mid-summer was a bit of a shock coming from mid-winter New Zealand (but a very nice one!)

I needn't have worried! The conference was one of the best I have ever been. Great location, incredible classes and workshops, friendly staff and attendees and (from the view of an outsider) it all went off without a hitch which is no mean feat with 2000 attendees!

I highly recommend this conference for any romance writers. I'm definitely hoping to make it back to Denver next year :)

Slight hitch... after 29 hours of travel I made it to Orlando but my bag was still in Houston! Thankfully years of business travel had taught me to always pack my carryon with a pair of pyjamas, essential toiletries and a change of clothes.

If one must be jet lagged then recovery doesn't get much better than this!

PAN stands for "Published Author Network". RWA tier some of their workshops at their conference for different levels of authors.

With Harlequin Heartwarming author, Laurie Tomlinson, at the RITA Awards.

Flowers from my husband to celebrate my RITA final

At the huge book signing (over 200 authors participated!) that RWA hold of the final day of the conference to raise funds for a literacy charity.

Has anyone else been to a writers' conference this year? How did it go? Or if you've got one on the horizon what are you looking forward to most?

Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She is the author of Close to You, a RITA Award Double Finalist, and Can't Help Falling, an RT Review Top Pick. Her latest book Then There Was You released on June 22. When she's not chasing three adorable but spirited little people, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Book Review: Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris & Lynne Gentry

A brilliant transplant surgeon. A rogue organ broker. A ghost child.
And the legend that could destroy them all.

A brutal murder convinces surgeon Mia Kendall there’s more than she imagined to the mysterious spike in heart transplant rejections. Determined to find answers before she loses another patient, Mia gets sucked into a dangerous international medical web. With time running out for her youngest transplant recipient, Mia is forced to partner with a disillusioned ex-military pilot who flies brokered organs across East Africa. But searching for the truth will prove costly for the unlikely duo racing to stop a madman before he annihilates a rare and cursed bloodline.

From best-selling author Lisa Harris and award-winning author Lynne Gentry comes a chilling, hypnotic medical thriller that will take you from the suburbs of Cincinnati to the jungles of Africa.

My Review

This is a novel that grabs you by the throat on the very first page and doesn’t let go until the very end. There are so many excellent aspects to Ghost Heart: its fast pace, the realistic story line that is based on truth, the complexity of the black market organ donor market, heart transplants (don’t worry no gory details) and a cast of characters that are believable and well crafted.

There are two parallel story lines, the one based in Africa starring Dr Mia Kendall who is desperate to discover the truth behind her patients failing heart transplants. She commandeers a willing assistant, Race Daniels, who is drawn to her passion, beauty and drive. But can she trust him? Is he caught up the cover-up in some way? The more time she spends with Race in solving the puzzle the more she is attracted to him.

Meanwhile one of Mia’s transplant patients heart is failing. His teenage wife, Jeme, is desperate to keep her daughter, Zaina, safe from the poachers. She’s an albino whose body parts are highly desirable.

The second story starts in Cincinnati where we meet Catherine (Cat) and Brad Taylor whose young daughter’s heart is failing. This is causing significant stress on their marriage. Catherine is a desperate mom who will do anything to save her daughter. Even if it means flying to Africa so Kelsey can have a heart transplant where it’s significantly cheaper than in the US.

The authors crafted Mia and Catherine as strong passionate women and even though I didn’t necessarily agree with all their choices I admired them tremendously. Jeme is another and I loved her gutsiness in protecting Zaina.

There are some excellent bad guys. Men who on the surface are esteemed by society while deluding themselves they are benefiting the world with their groundbreaking endeavours. Their arrogance and thirst for power result in some catastrophic decisions that Mia and Race gradually unravel.

It all builds to a fabulous climax with some heartbreaking and joyous moments. And there is romance that simmers in the background.

This is an outstanding collaboration by LisaHarris and Lynne Gentry. I loved it and I hope there are a few more novels bubbling away in their collective thoughts.

The novel also comes with an insightful Q&A between the two authors where they provide some background to how the story came about plus their writing process between Africa and Texas.

I received a complimentary copy from the authors with no obligation to write a favourable review.

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

ACRBA Tour Lakwi's Lament by Jeanette O'Hagan

7 - 11 July 2017

Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance 

Is Introducing 

Lakwi's Lament 

(By the Light Books 20 January 2017)

Jeanette O'Hagan

Book Description: A middle-grade to Young Adult short story set in the fantasy world of Nardva: Lakwi would love to read the books in the Royal library, but girls aren’t allowed inside. Her passion for books attracts the attention of her dashing older brother, Prince Rokkan, and her suave cousin, Lord Haka. Will her drive for knowledge lead her into more trouble than she can handle? Lakwi's Lament originally appeared in Like a Girl Anthology and is related to The Herbalist's Daughter and the Akrad's Legacy series.
About the Author:
JEANETTE O’HAGAN first started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of nine. She enjoys writing fiction, poetry, blogging and editing. 
She is writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series—a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements. Her short stories and poems are published in a number of anthologies including Glimpses of Light, Another Time Another Place and Like a Girl. She has recently published her short novella, Heart of the Mountain and, in Mixed Blessings: Genrellly Speaking anthology, also a flash fiction 'Space Junk'. Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and, more recently, a Master of Arts (writing). She is a member of several writers’ groups. She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends and pondering the meaning of life.  Jeanette lives in Brisbane with her husband and children. Sign up to Jeanette O'Hagan's Newsletter here: Website: Facebook page: Twitter: @JeanetteOHagan Instagram: @bythelightof2moons