Pinned in Time Blog Hop

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Welcome to the Pinned in Time Blog Hop: a twelve day party celebrating Pepper Basham’s Penned in Time series! There is a Pinterest scavenger hunt, exciting giveaway, behind the scenes looks into the worlds of The Thorn Bearer and The Thorn Keeper — as well as a glimpse into the heart of their talented author.

Reader friends, it’s been silent here on A Way With Words but have I got a treat for you today! Pepper Basham, one of my all-time favorite authors and fabulous dear friend, has written two of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read: The Thorn Bearer and The Thorn Keeper. Later this fall her third novel in this historical set will debut–The Thorn Healer, starring American nurse Jessica Ross and German prisoner of war August Reinhold. I am *so* excited for this book, readers!

To celebrate the Penned in Time series, Pepper and some of her loyal readers have created the Pinned in Time scavenger hunt between our blogs and Pintrest (get it–penned and pinned). I confess, reader friends, that I had a fun bookish Q & A with some Penned in Time characters in mind. Alas, life got the best of me, so in lieu of that I’m going to share with you a little about the two fabulous books in the Penned in Time series.


The Thorn BearerTitle:  The Thorn Bearer
Series: Penned in Time, Book 1
Author:  Pepper D. Basham
Publisher:  Vinspire Publishing, LLC
Release Date:  May 7, 2015

When Ashleigh Dougall’s fiancé leaves her eight months before their wedding, the unexpected blow ignites a battalion of insecurities stemming from her father’s intimate betrayal. In an attempt to escape her shame, Ashleigh boards the ill-fated Lusitania to cross the war-torn waters of Europe. Much to her dismay, she isn’t traveling alone.

Sam Miller is always making up for his best friend’s mistakes. Determined to help his childhood friend, Ashleigh, he offers his compassion and companionship as she ventures across a perilous sea. With the faint hope of renewing his lost love for Ashleigh’s sister, Sam never expects to find the woman of his dreams in the love of his childhood friend.

Neither are prepared for the life-altering and heart-breaking journey of their friendship.

Read my review of The Thorn Bearer here (5 stars!).

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12141649_10207821471475424_6414826805133351175_nTitle:  The Thorn Keeper
Series: Penned in Time, Book 2
Author:  Pepper D. Basham
Publisher:  Vinspire Publishing
Release Date:  February 28, 2016

With her past in shambles, how can she fashion a future of hope?

Catherine Dougall’s past of manipulation has left her future in threads. With a new faith, she longs to take the remnants of her life and make something beautiful, but shame, societies’ judgments, and the natural consequences of an unplanned pregnancy test her newfound hope. Dr. David Ross doesn’t help either. His kindness, sacrifice, and tenderness tempt her to impossible dreams. A fallen woman doesn’t merit a fairytale.

David Ross has made every effort to keep his life above reproach. His passion for the sick pumps fresh purpose through his choices, but without financial support to maintain his war hospital, all is lost. When his notorious aunt offers an easy solution, David is tempted to give in to her demands, but his growing affection for the reformed flirt, Catherine Dougall, unwinds the careful wall around his heart and offers an unexpected choice.

When the worst of war tears them apart, can love renew the memory of what was lost or will tragedy steal away their hope forever.

From the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to the trenches of World War One, Catherine and David must learn to trust in a God who designs a masterpiece out of brokenness and fashions hope in the most unlikely places.

Read my review of The Thorn Keeper here (4 stars!).

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Curious as to what Pepper is going to gift one lucky winner who makes it to end of the scavenger hunt? Well, get pinning reader friends! To be eligible for a fun prize, follow the clue in each blog post to Pepper’s Penned in Time Pinterest board. The more clues you follow the more chances you have to win!

PINNED IN TIME sidebar with coversHere’s the schedule of the blog tour:

August 1  l Reading is My Superpower

August 2  l Mikal Dawn

August 3  l Just Commonly

August 4  l A Way With Words

August 5  l  A Northern Belle

August 8  l Fiction, Faith, and Fun

August 9  l Stuff and Nonsense

August 10 l Gardens & Books & Good Things to Cook

August 11 l Bookworm Mama

August 12 l Faithfully Bookish

While I admit just sifting through Pintrest boards about this fabulous would be enough to satiate my desire for gorgeously written historical romances, Pepper’s certainly going to make one reader yearn for England with this prize!

Join the PINNED IN TIME scavenger hunt for your chance to win this awesome Penned in Time-themed prize pack plus a $25 Amazon gift card!


Pinned in Time Scavenger Hunt Rules:

  1. Each blog hop stop contains an image clue from either The Thorn Bearer or The Thorn Keeper, with a link to a Pinterest Board filled with pictures related to the Penned in Time series.
  2. Using the image clue, find the corresponding answer image.
  3. Create a Pinterest board, titled “Penned in Time,” and pin the answer image to your board, and hashtag #pinnedintime.
  4. Enter your pinned (answer) image link on the Rafflecopter entry form, corresponding to the stop on the Blog Hop.
  5. Check out the other blog hop stops for more entries!



 Click here to be taken to Pepper’s Pinterest board to find the answer to my clue. Make sure to come back here to click a Rafflecopter giveaway!

Release Day: The Sound of Emeralds by Rachelle Rea

Dearest reader friends,

Today is a beautiful day! It’s Friday–but better yet, it’s release day for The Sound of Emeralds, the third book in Rachelle Rea’s  Steadfast Love series. Congratulations, Rachelle!

In celebration of this gorgeous book (put this on your TBR list, friends), I’m hosting Rachelle here on A Way With Words for a short Q & A session.

Q & A with author and editor Rachelle Rea

AWWW: What’s the greatest lesson regarding writing and publishing that you’ve learned over your time spent working on The Steadfast Love series?

RR: I thought I had learned the lesson of grace that I have the privilege of portraying in my series, but I learned it anew in the whirlwind of editing and release dates. I made countless mistakes forgetting emails, missing typos, transposing links…yet I experienced so much grace in the form of readers saying my stories touched their hearts, excellent reviews, an amazing team behind me at WhiteFire and among my influencers. I realized anew this story of Dirk and Gwyn has never been about me, but about the God who gives such grace.

AWWW: What do you believe is the most significant lesson you’ll take away for future writing projects that you learned while writing The Steadfast Love series? (i.e. : always continue learning about the craft, the importance of time management, always listening to your editor, etc…)

RR: Always, always listen to the editor! WhiteFire’s editorial team is just magnificent. So insightful at every step of the way. So superb at catching when my timeline goes askew or I miss historical facts. Oh, the timeline! A practical thing I’ll remember is the importance of having a timeline written down somewhere so I can go back and reference it throughout the revision process. So helpful! Writers, make one. 😉

Doesn’t she have some great advice, friends?

Now, for those of you more interested in the story-side of The Steadfast Love series, I’ve got something fun for you. Fun fact: the love triangle in this series wasn’t always there. So to celebrate the culmination of this triangle in The Sound of Emeralds  Rachelle is having a contest–who do you want to see win Gwyn’s hand? The reformed rogue, Dirk, who has claimed her heart or the loyal friend who could be more, Anders?

As for me, while I love both men in Rachelle’s series, Anders happens to have won my heart. Check out the pictures Rachelle made for #TeamAnders


So readers, who is your man in The Steadfast Love series? Are you #TeamAnders or #TeamDirk?



Book Review: Finding Love in Sun Valley, Idaho by Angela Ruth Strong

Sun ValleyFinding Love in Sun Valley by Angela Ruth Strong (February 2016, Mountain Brook Ink)

Actress Emily Van Arsdale has returned to her Idaho hometown – with an entire film crew in tow! With its stunning scenery and reputation for hosting celebrities, Sun Valley is the perfect setting for Emily’s newest romantic comedy. Tracen Lake is happy to work as a stunt consultant for the movie but not as thrilled to deal with a bunch of high-maintenance Hollywood types. But Tracen is surprised to discover in Emily a down-to-earth Idaho girl who does all her own stunts and loves the outdoors. As filming wraps up and Emily heads off to her next gig, will she be able to leave Sun Valley – and Tracen – behind?


Some books are read for pleasure; some for learning; others to whisk you away in a world completely unlike your own. Finding Love in Sun Valley, Idaho brought a mix of all of the above. Set in the charming town named in the title of the book, Strong’s first novel with Mountain Brook Ink is a charming, light read that made me laugh and brought a smile to my face. This story epitomizes all that is good about inspirational fiction: sweet romance, a faith thread that never preaches but still hits hard with spiritual truths, a focus on family, and relatable characters who face challenges that ultimately lead to personal growth.

With a unique storyline, Finding Love in Sun Valley, Idaho is equally character and plot driven. Emily Van Arsdale and Tracen Lake are a delightful pairing of heroine and heroine in a story that features a unique premise of Hollywood movie-making and stunts/gymnastics. Their romance is palpable, and humor abounds as they transition from friends to a couple. Secondary characters complete the lively community in this novel, with a particularly enjoyable pastor-turned-raftsman and chubby eleven-year-old who rides a unicycle. Deeper themes such as forgiveness, trust, and letting go of the past support the overall tone of humor that is prevalent in the story. I appreciated that Strong utilized these themes in Love Finds You in Sun ValleyIdaho; however, these deeper elements at times felt rushed, and I do think the humor thread is the strongest of all of them in this novel.

For a light-hearted read laced with quirky characters looking to build new lives in a beautiful location, search no further than Finding Love in Sun Valley, Idaho. Also, keep your eyes open for this novel to potentially be made into a movie on Hallmark or upTV. Two further books in the series will be released within the next year: Finding Love in Big Sky, Montana (November 2016) and Finding Love in Park City, Utah (spring 2017). I am looking forward to continuing this series.

RATING: 3.5 stars


AngelaAngela sold her first story to a national magazine while still in high school and went on to study journalism at the University of Oregon. Her debut novel LOVE FINDS YOU IN SUN VALLEY, IDAHO released in 2010 to a four-star review from Romantic Times. Angela loves connecting with fans and mentoring aspiring authors, which led her to start IDAhope Writers. She currently lives in Boise with her husband and three kids.


Identifying with Characters: Author Dina Sleiman Talks Her Valiant Hearts Series Heroines

Good Thursday morning, reader friends,

Today author Dina Sleiman is visiting  A Way With Words to discuss the heroines of her Valiant Hearts series. A series of three books that feature strong and courageous heroines, the Valiant Hearts novels–set in Arthurian England–are YA novels fun for teenagers and adults alike. In this article, Dina discusses her three heroines from Dauntless, Chivalrous, and Courageous. Enjoy!


Dina Sleiman and Her Heroines by Dina Sleiman

Often readers confuse an author with the characters they create. I imagine the truth is that each character we write has a hint of us inside of them. But it is also true that professional novelists go to great lengths to create unique and separate characters with distinctive personalities. So today I’m going to share with you how I am both similar to and different from some of my female heroines.

Let’s start with the general idea of these tough Valiant Hearts heroines. I’ve always been strong, healthy, and athletic, but not quite a tough sporty girl. During my school years I did play some sports, mostly because I went to small Christian schools and everyone needed to be involved. I was pretty good at basketball, but always preferred dance, gymnastics, and cheerleading. As an adult, I like quiet physical activities like walking, biking, hiking, and canoeing. I still dance from time to time as part of my church’s worship dance team. But…I believe in female empowerment and that women should follow whatever path God lays on their hearts. I don’t like to see arbitrary limits put on what girls can and can’t do, and that was very important to me as I wrote this Valiant Hearts Series. My Meyer’s Briggs personality type is INFJ, which in addition to being creative, is also very individualistic and idealistic.

DauntlessMy Robin Hood-esque Merry Ellison from Dauntless and I actually have very little in common. On the Meyers Briggs scale, Merry was my opposite on three out of four indicators. She is more extroverted, sensory, and thinking. This made Merry the most challenging character I’ve ever written, yet I loved and admired her. Her ENTJ personality was the same as my middle child, my outdoor enthusiast and adrenaline junky. It’s a great leadership personality. I often thought of tough sporty girls I’ve been friends with over the years while writing Merry. Merry and I have a few things in common like a love of children and a love of acrobatics, but even her motivations and inner thoughts were often different than mine. I do have a tomboy side, but it does not go as far as weaponry and hunting. In addition to all of that, tiny, dark haired, exotic Merry is pretty much my physical opposite in every way too.

ChivalrousChivalrous with my female knight released on Tuesday, and I certainly have more in common with Gwendolyn Barnes than with Merry. I was picturing Gwendolyn as a INFP/ISFP hybrid. Gwendolyn hates mingling at a big party, much like me, and she loves music, dance, and sunshine, again like me. Her biggest flaw is that she tends to fade into a fantasy world rather than deal with reality, which is something I have been guilty of from time to time, but not to the same degree as Gwendolyn. She has more of a temper than I do, although I share her abhorrence of injustice and can get pretty riled up when faced with it. And again, she is tougher than me, although I think if I had been raised with her hang ups, I might have turned out even more like her. Finally, Gwendolyn’s tall, blonde, and curvy physical description is pretty darn close to mine at that age. At 5’10” I’m used to looking men in the eye and feeling like I can do anything they can.

Next on the horizon is Courageous with my crusader heroine. It won’t release until July 2016, but you will be introduced to its main character heroine in Chivalrous. Rosalind of Ipsworth is Gwendolyn’s lady’s maid, best friend, and partner in crime. Of the three Valiant Hearts heroines so far, I definitely have the most in common with Rosalind. With her ENFJ personality, she is more of a typical emotional, romantic girl, although she is tough enough to rise to whatever occasion is thrown at her. She’s more outgoing than me, and she makes some unfortunate choices that my upbringing protected me from. But her thoughts, speech, and motivations are pretty similar to what I imagine mine being in those circumstances. And Rosalind is a passionate woman, which is also a trait I share.

Passion is a characteristic that is often avoided in Christian heroines, and yet a characteristic I think God highly values when channeled in the right direction. In fact, I’ve used the ENFJ personality for two other heroines in the past. Both Dandelion in Dance of the Dandelion and Constance in Love in Three-Quarter Time are feisty, passionate heroines as well. Each makes mistakes, like Rosalind, but each learns to channel that passion toward an intimate relationship with God. My daughter has an ENFJ personality, and I have loved watching her grow in her passion toward God.

Maybe you’re wondering if I’ve ever written myself into a book. I would say the closest I’ve come is with Allie, my Christian ballerina in Dance from Deep Within. She shares my INFJ personality, my love of dance and reading, my blonde coloring, and many of my experiences. Her thoughts, tastes, opinions, fashion sensibilities, and beliefs certainly mirror mine, especially when I was her age. But of course her life is different than mine in some ways too, and her experiences are more extreme, including a trauma I didn’t share. Still, I would say if you want to know what I’m all about, Allie would provide the best clues.

DINA SLEIMANSo that’s me and my heroines. I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick foray into our personalities.

Which of my heroines do you think you would relate with the most? What is your personality like?


Dauntless, Valiant Hearts Book 1 – Where legend and history collide, one young woman will fight for the innocent.

Chivalrous, Valiant Hearts Book 2 – With her future in jeopardy, this unforgettable heroine won’t go down without a fight.

Four Reasons to Read a Novella

Some thoughts from Bethany House on novellas. What do you think of the short-form cousins to novels?

Bethany House Fiction

Earlier this month, I wrote a post on some problems that authors face in knowing how many free books to distribute to reviewers. That said, we also realize that sometimes it’s hard to take a risk on a new-to-you author without knowing if you’ll like their writing style.

One of the ways Bethany House has recently dealt with this is by releasing free ebook-only novellas, available to download for free on an ereader, iPad, or your computer. Before coming to work at BHP, I don’t think I’d ever read a novella, so it was an entirely new form to me. Here are a few reasons I’ve come to appreciate novellas as a reader, and why you might want to give them a try.


One: They’re basically like those little mini boxes of chocolates. You have a sampler of a variety of different styles so you know exactly what you like…

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Book Review: Dauntless by Dina L. Sleiman


Book: Dauntless (Valiant Hearts series, book 1)

Author: Dina L. Sleiman

Publisher: Bethany House (March 3rd, 2015)

Upon King John’s ruthless revenge against her family, Lady Merry Ellison takes refuge with her band of homeless children within the forests of England. Merry and the “ghosts of Farthingale Forest,” as she and the other orphans are called, take risky measures to ensure their survival amidst threats against their lives. The ghosts almost always remain hidden—until a high-jacking of gold goes wrong. Timothy Grey, Merry’s former best friend and now an assistant to an earl loyal to King John, managed to stay alive after the destruction of Ellsworth. Now an assistant to an earl, Timothy is working to make a name for himself; however, the price for recognition could came at Merry’s expense. When the two of them come together—and Timothy’s reputation rests upon his capture of the ghosts—Merry and Timothy face their greatest adversaries…knowing their own hearts.

Dina Sleiman’s Dauntless is a young adult novel with so much more than what can be held within those two words. Young adult, or YA as the genre is referred to in the publishing industry, revolves around characters who experience a coming of age. While the Dauntless characters certainly experience maturation over the course of the novel, this story is about so much more than the transition from childhood to adulthood. Sleiman has created a world of both magic and reality within the confines of medieval England that brings readers into the hearts of teenagers and the world of adults. With a gripping tangle of faith, friendships, romance, and survival, Dauntless should be on everyone’s to-be-read list regardless of the reader’s age.

Hailed amongst some readers and reviewers as a female version of the story of Robin Hood, Dauntless stands on its own as a strong story that teaches readers about faith and love from the perspectives of teenagers fighting to survive during a time in which loyalty to the monarchy ensured your life. Merry, Timothy, and Allen—three of the main characters of Dauntless—form a dichotomy of beliefs and backgrounds that support the themes of the novel. Through Merry, Sleiman weaves such ideas as women’s roles, gender equality, and feminism; through Timothy, recognition within family; and Allen, leadership and perseverance to pursue one’s goals in life. Each of these characters experienced trials and tribulations in his or her life but found the courage to fight for their lives and dreams. All readers, but especially teenagers, will find Merry, Allen, and Timothy worthy examples of inspiration.

As a Christian fiction YA novel, I found Dauntless to have strong threads of faith that bring the messages of Christianity to readers without becoming overbearing. Sleiman presents her messages in both overt and subtle manners, making Dauntless an excellent choice for readers familiar and unfamiliar with the faith. Christian readers will appreciate the overt themes of staying strong in your faith through trials and blessings and of questioning God’s will, while readers not as familiar with Christianity will draw upon the subtler themes of kindness and unexpected blessings. I am not one who necessarily looks for preaching in novels, but when reading a Christian book I do want a strong presence of Christian themes, morals, ideals, messages, and description—Dauntless has all of these, and I hope to find more novels such as this one in the future.

I happened upon Dauntless through an email thread within the ACFW, with no previous knowledge of Sleiman or the novel. Now just a short time later I have found a new favorite author, novel, and series. I could not be more pleased to have read Dauntless and am eagerly anticipating Sleiman’s next novel in The Valiant Heart series, Chivalrous (to be published by Bethany House in late 2015).

Rating: 4.5/5 stars


Though once a baron’s daughter, Lady Merry Ellison is willing to go to any lengths to protect the orphaned children of her former village. Dubbed “The Ghosts of Farthingale Forest,” her band of followers soon become enemies of the throne when they hijack ill-gotten gold meant for the king.

Timothy Grey, ninth child of the Baron of Greyham, longs to perform some feat so legendary that he will rise from obscurity and earn a title of his own. When the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest are spotted in Wyndeshire, where he serves as assistant to the local earl, he might have found his chance. But when he comes face-to-face with the leader of the thieves, will he choose fame or love?


DINA SLEIMANDina Sleiman writes stories of passion and grace. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, won an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Selah Awards. Also look for her novels, Love in Three-Quarter TimeDance from Deep Within, and her Valiant Hearts series with Bethany House Publishers. Dina serves as an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire Publishing as well, and she loves to teach at writers conferences throughout the US. For more info visit her at her primary website.

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Terri Blackstock on the Value of Romance Novels

Terri Blackstock quoteToday popular Christian fiction author Terri Blackstock visits Edgy Inspirational Romance to talk about the value of lessons readers can take away from romance novels.

Amongst Terri’s thoughts about the value of novels is her belief that readers can take away different ideas about the world around them when they are able to experience situations and emotions through the characters of their chosen reading material. “…books teach children empathy, to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, to be kind to people who are hurting. More than that, they teach us to see the pain of others,” says Blackstock.

Stop by Edgy Inspirational Romance today to read the rest of the article and learn about Twisted Innocence, Terri’s upcoming book. You can find Twisted Innocence  here.

Terri BlackstockTerri, a New York Times bestselling author, has been a successful novelist for over twenty-five years and believes her calling as a writer comes having her imagination as her best friend during the many years she moved and changed schools overseas as a child of an Air Force family. She writes suspense novels in which she weaves threads of hope that stem from her faith.