Monday, April 30, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Writer

With Sanctuary for a Lady having been released for about a month now, I keep fielding questions and hearing comments about what being a big, famous, published author must be like. So I thought I'd give you all a glimpse of my glamorous author's life.

1. It's not glamorous.
2. I'm not famous.
3. I'm not big. In fact I barely  reach 5'1.

I still scrub my own toilets and clean up my dog's vomit. I still play with my kids and help pick up their messes. And book contracts or not, I'm still interrupted from my computer activities. For example, since I've started writing this particular blog post, I think stepped away from the computer to tend to the kids four times. (Heaven forbid my husband who is currently sprawled across the couch get up and find spoons so my boys can eat some yogurt.)

While I might be able to endure distractions during writing a blog post, I can't handle distractions while writing scenes for my novel. So to find distraction-free writing time, I get up at 5:00 am to write. Then I get the kids around for the day, do housework, play, fix breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner (my husband helps cook dinner certain days), and clean it all up.

On top of that, I try to sneak time for a second writing session while my youngest is taking his nap. Then I have emails to answer, blog posts to write, blog interviews to fill out, Facebook and GoodReads to swing by and chat on, and books to package, address and take to the post office.

I usually fall into bed around 8:00pm each night, completely exhausted. But I still take about an hour to read, so that I get some sort of break from the crazy, constant, motion of my life.

Would I trade my life? No. I love writing, I enjoy staying in contact with my writing friends and readers, I long to be a good mom to my children and wonderful wife to my husband. But these obligations keeps me very busy, working 14 hours most days.

Which is why I've decided to write only two blog posts per week rather than three. I enjoy each of you readers and look forward to connecting with you through my blog. The topics of mothering and balancing our other obligations are very dear to my heart, and this blog provides an opportunity for me to express that. But at the same time, as I look down the long road of blogging and realize that I'll be doing this for years to come (along with writing novels), three posts a week seems too much for me. Two posts appears a lot more sustainable over the next few years. And so I'll be switching to a Monday and Thursday blog schedule. Thank you all for understanding.

So, now that you know a little about my life, what's involved in being an author and mother, I'm curious about yours. Do you find yourself juggling multiple responsibilities? Are you the type to add too much to your plate, or not enough? How do you decide when to pull back or keep going?

Thanks so much for joining me today, and I'll be back again on Thursday.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Reviews of Sanctuary for a Lady--What Are People Saying?

Sanctuary for a Lady has been available online for nearly four weeks already, and has made its way to store shelves as well by this point. So now that people are reading the book, what are they saying about this unique little romance novel set during the French Revolution? Let's take a look:

Roseanna White, Author of Love Finds You in Annapolis Maryland and Jewel of Persia:

"WOW. I don't know how else to begin this review. Sanctuary for a Lady combined all the elements I love most in a story--high stakes, fascinating history, sincere faith, and such intense sparks flying between the main characters that I thought they might ignite the rain-sodden countryside of Revolutionary France!"

Read Roseanna's full review of Sanctuary for a Lady.

Alexandra George, Book Reviewer who lives in Greece (how cool is that???):

"The story takes place in the French Revolution, and the two main characters, the hero and the heroine of the novel, that is, are on the opposite sides of the mob. She is an aristocrat, he is one of the poor, misused peasants, with big dreams of revenge and justice. This, in itself, was very interesting to read, since I have read quite a few historical novels on French Revolution, but never one that showed both sides at the same time. Usually it's just the aristocrats or the people. But this book shows both sides and lets you decide which one is justified in its actions and which one is not. And, on top of that, it has them falling in love with each other. Talk about star-crossed lovers..."

Read Alexandra's full review of Sanctuary for a Lady (and several of her other wonderful reviews).

Faye Oygard, Book Reviewer:

"In this story I saw glimpses of the Good Samaritan, in the form of the handsome farmer, Michel, who was something of a brooding hero with a heart of gold. And when Michel and Isabelle were together, sparks flew! Both of the main characters where so well developed. Isabelle with her stubborn determination, yet her sense of guilt over past events, made her a compelling character that was complex, yet easy for the reader understand. With both Michel and Isabelle, I think what made them so real and relatable, was how it was easy to see how where they both had been in the past translated into the present."

Read Faye's full review of Sanctuary for a Lady.

Kav, Book Reviewer:

"It boggles this reader's mind that this is a debut novel. Rawlings writes like a seasoned pro. With the tight plot, impeccable characterization and enough emotional angst to water-log the Kleenex company, this is a romance lover's dream. Seriously good . . .

"This is a stomach-churning, knuckle-whitening read from cover to cover. I was an emotional wreck all the way through, between shouting warnings, chiding stubbornness and wanting to throw something at someone (including the author) occasionally! LOL. But I survived to tell the tale -- to dream about the tale -- to carry on the tale -- to dream up a new tale based on this one...well, let's just say the story is still with me and I'm praying it's not long before Rawlings' next book is out!"

Read Kav's full review of Sanctuary for a Lady.

Debra Marvin, Writer, Blogger, and Book Reviewer:

"Sanctuary for a Lady is a well-written story with lovely prose, interesting characters (Michel’s mother proves to be a pivotal secondary character and Naomi handled her health issue well), and just the right amount, for me, of serious events peppering the plot. This was a life or death situation throughout, with life or death decisions weighing each event. Michel's and Isabelle’s character growth, including the spiritual, kept this from being overshadowed by a very sad period in history--the author wove spiritual lessons on forgiveness with a light but edifying touch. While I happily point out these factors, I don’t feel it is the least bit too dark or preachy, certainly not for any fans of Love Inspired. The Guillotine could not be left out of the story but did not make any actual appearance! But love does. Selfless love."

Read Debra's full review of Sanctuary for a Lady.


So there you have it. This is just a glimpse of things being said around the internet. If you're interested if learning what others think, stop by Amazon's reader review page for Sanctuary for a Lady.

There are several giveaways of Sanctuary for a Lady that end this weekend. Be sure to enter yourself for a chance to win, if you haven't done so already.

Memoirs of a Dream Blog with fellow Love Inspired Historical Author Noelle Marchand

Sword and the Spirit Blog with Debbie Lynne Costello

Meet and Greet on Sarah Forgrave's Blog

You all have a wonderful weekend, and I'll see you on Monday!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Book Spotlight--Historical Romance Novels for April (Part 2)

Now that we've spent the pat week meeting Author Jessica Nelson and looking at her debut novel, Love on the Range, I decided to swing back to some of the other Love Inspired Historical novels out this month and highlight those. The Wedding Journey is a novel that takes place at sea, aboard a ship heading from Ireland to the United States, written by well-loved Author Cheryl St. John. Here's a little more about it:

The mysterious inheritance is the answer to a prayer. Now Irish lass Maeve Murphy and her sisters can come to America! She's sure happiness awaits her, even if it won't—can't—come from widowed ship doctor Flynn Gallagher. Yes, he made her his assistant, but she's not foolish enough to fall for the man all the eligible, wealthy female passengers admire.

Flynn Gallagher may have his pick of ladies, but only one cares as he does for the sick and poor. Flynn vowed never to marry another woman who could break his heart. With Maeve, has his heart found safe harbor at last?

Doesn't that novel sound great? I must admit, I recently read another novel set aboard a ship, Heart's Safe Passage by Laurie Alice Eakes, and I ended up LOVING it. So I'm more than happy to head back to sea as I read another story.

The last novel I'm featuring this month is called Brides of the West. It's a novella collection, comprised of three shorter stories written by familiar Love Inspired Historical authors. Take a look:

Josie's Wedding Dress by Victoria Bylin
Desperate for someone to help her save her ranch, Josie Bright makes a deal with Ty Dormer. Now the man who'd left her waiting at the altar is making her hope for things she had long stopped wishing for.

Last Minute Bride by Janet Dean
Elise Langley was stung to the quick when her would-be suitor suddenly left town. But when David Wellman returns and they are thrown together organizing their friends' wedding, can she open her heart again?

Her Ideal Husband by Pamela Nissen
As a girl, Lydia Townsend hoped to marry Jebediah Gentry—until his rejection spoiled her dreams. When family duty brings her home, it's Jeb's chance to show Lydia that now is the time for her wedding dreams to come true.

So there you have it, the Love Inspired Historical releases for the month of April. If you missed the highlight of the first two novels (which includes Sanctuary for a Lady by Yours Truly), take a look at this post

Now I'm curious how many of these novels you've read. Any? None? One or two? Let me know what you thought in the comment section below.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Review of Love on the Range by Jessica Nelson

To conclude our week with Author Jessica Nelson, I thought I'd add my own review of her novel. I finished Love on the Range on Wednesday evening, and I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. Here's why:

Gracelyn Riley has lofty ambitions for her life. She wants to become a newspaper journalist, but even more, she wants to interview the dazzling FBI agent Striker, who's adventurous tales keep appearing in the Boston newspapers. When she heads to Oregon to stay with her uncle during the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918, she sees this as her perfect chance to find, interview, and declare her love for the mysterious Striker.

There's only one problem: her uncle won't let her do any investigating on Striker. Her uncle's strictness would of course be because he already knows who Striker is and is trying to protect Striker. So Gracie wiles away the fall season, choring and trying to investigate, and realizing that she's falling in love with the handsome ranch hand, Trevor Cruz.

Who also happens to be Striker.

I enjoyed this novel. It's has a determined heroine and equally determined hero, and boy does that determination lead to some sparks along the way. A cast of interesting minor characters also make the story rather delightful, and it has an ending that I didn't completely inspect. All in all, if you're looking for a fun western with a touch of adventure and a lot of spunk, then you've found a great book in Love on the Range.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quick Dinner Recipe from Author Jessica Nelson

Since Author Jessica Nelson is visiting Making Home Work this week, I asked her to share a favorite recipe. She came back with a rather interesting response. Enjoy!


"My favorite recipe involves a tablespoon of peanut butter, a cup of chocolate chips, a spoon, a bowl, and a microwave. *wink*

But…for dinner, fresh broccoli with ranch dressing and cheese quesadillas works well. Put some cheese, any kind, in a soft flour tortilla. Fold it over and melt it in the microwave. Tada, a quesadilla!"


Well, that's what I call a simple dinner recipe. And look at that, Jessica even included dessert! If you haven't stopped by the interview with Jessica Nelson, be sure to do so. She's giving away a copy of her novel, Love on the Range, to one lucky commenter. You have until midnight on Saturday to enter. In the meantime, here's a little more about author Jessica Nelson:

Jessica Nelson, in keeping with her romantic inclinations, married two days after she graduated high school. She believes romance happens every day, and thinks the greatest, most intense romance comes from a God who woos people to himself with passionate tenderness. When Jessica is not chasing her three beautiful, wild little boys around the living room, she can be found staring into space as she plots her next story. Or she might be daydreaming about a raspberry mocha from Starbucks. Or thinking about what kind of chocolate she should have for dinner that night. She could be thinking of any number of things, really. One thing is for certain, she is blessed with a wonderful family and a lovely life.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Interview and Giveaway with Author Jessica Nelson

Today I'm excited to introduce a very special guest to you! Jessica Nelson is the debut author of Love on the Range, a book releasing this month right along with my debut novel Sanctuary for a Lady. Jessica has graciously agreed to give a copy of her book away this week, so make sure to leave a comment with your email address below to be entered into the giveaway.

Needless to say, there are a lot of fun things about having another author debut with me, one of which is getting to interview each other on our blogs. Here's what Jessica had to say:

Tell me a bit about your family. How many children do you have, and if they still live at home, how old are they?

I have three little boys, ages 7,5, and 4.

Why did you choose to work from home rather than find a job elsewhere?

I quit banking to stay home when I had my first child. Then I took up writing. Now I do work at a bank twice a week but the rest of the time I’m home. I decided to stay home because 1. I was able to and 2. My kids are only little once and I wanted to be there for that. Thankfully that was possible.

How fortunate you were able to do that and stay home with your kids most of the time. You must really love that! And wouldn't you know it, I took up writing after I had my first child as well. What is the most challenging aspect of working from home while raising children?

Finding time to write without interruptions and without being exhausted.

Ah, I hear you there. Did you ever get your children involved with your home business? What advice would you give mothers thinking about having their children help with their business?

They’re involved with chores. That’s their business. Actually, I think it’s a great idea for kids to be involved and have a stake in how the family survives and thrives.

I'm grinning here. Love the idea of giving my boys more chores. Not to give myself less work so much as to teach them responsibility. If you could start all over again, what would you do differently? What would you do the same?

Yep, I would. I can’t see that I’d do anything differently.

It's always nice to look back and have no regrets, isn't it? Is it worth it? What keeps you home instead of having an outside career?

Yes, it is. I’m with my kids a lot and know them so well. I’m one of the biggest “voices” in their lives and I think that’s great. I enjoy being with them, talking to them, taking them places…

Thanks for your time being with us today, Jessica. This is such a special month for you, and I'm so glad you could take time to be on Making Home Work. If you're interested in being entered in the giveaway for Love on the Range, leave a comment with your email address below. The giveaway ends at midnight on Saturday, April 21. Jessica will be back with us on Wednesday, sharing a favorite recipe with us. Until then, here's a little more about Love on the Range:

Any other socialite would view being packed off to a remote Oregon ranch as a punishment. But Gracelyn Riley knows that this is her opportunity to become a real reporter. If she can make her name through an interview with the elusive hero known as Striker, then she'll never have to depend on anyone ever again.

Rancher Trevor Cruz can't believe his secret identity is being endangered by an overly chatty city girl. But if there's one thing he knows, it's that Gracie's pretty little snooping nose is bound to get her in trouble. So he'll use her determination to find "Striker" to keep an eye on her…and stick close by her side.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Myth of Free Time

In the fall, all four of my children will be in school, albeit not all full-time (my youngest will be in a three-day preschool program). Whenever this comes up in conversation, the enviable response is, “What will you do with all of your free time?”

Ah, free time—that mythical land to which every mother longs to go. As someone who currently works part-time from home, I rarely have free time now, and I don’t anticipate that changing once the children are in school.

I think the bigger question is what does this say about the current view of mothering. My mother stayed at home, but her time wasn’t consumed by doing for—or entertaining—me. Sure, household chores ate up some time, but once we were older than three, time spent in childcare dropped considerably for women of my mother’s generation.

That kind of mothering has fallen out of favor, and with it the rise of no time, free or otherwise. I am grateful for my mother’s example, for it gives me the fortitude to follow in her footsteps. Direct care of my children has lessened as they age; correspondingly, time I spend taking care of the household has also dropped as the children have picked up more of the cleaning chores.

In turn, that has allowed me to pick up some of the things that I put on hold when the children first arrived: reading, writing, knitting and sewing, for example.

While I’m looking forward to a quieter house next fall, I won’t have to worry about how to fill my suddenly “free time” since my time has always been mine to fill. I’ll take the 24 hours given to us each day and try to use it wisely—just like I do now.

Sarah Hamaker is a freelance writer and editor, and author of Hired@Home, a guide to unlocking women’s work-from-home potential now available on Kindle. Her stories have appeared in previous Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Sarah lives in Virginia with her husband and four children. Visit her online at, where she blogs about working from home.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Book Spotlight--Historical Romance Novels for April

Hey Everyone,

Did you all have a fabulous Easter Weekend? I know I did, and I'm hoping you enjoyed your own Easter as much as me and my family did. I wanted to kick off the week with our Book Spotlight, highlighting the novels available from my publisher this month. The first novel I'm going to introduce you to is . . . MINE!!! (I know, it probably surprises some of you, but I'm eager to give my book a shout out whenever possible.) Here's a little about the book:

The injured young woman Michel Belanger finds in the woods is certainly an aristocrat. And in the midst of France's bloody revolution, sheltering nobility merits a trip to the guillotine. Yet despite the risk, Michel knows he must bring the wounded girl to his cottage to heal.

Attacked by soldiers and left for dead, Isabelle de La Rouchecauld has lost everything. A duke's daughter cannot hope for mercy in France, so escaping to England is her best chance of survival. The only thing more dangerous than staying would be falling in love with this gruff yet tender man of the land. Even if she sees, for the first time, how truly noble a heart can be….

Obviously I'm excited to see Sanctuary for a Lady release, as it's my debut novel and will always be close to my heart, but did you know I'm not the only author debuting this month with Love Inspired Historical? Jessica Nelson also saw her book, Love on the Range, hit shelves for the first time last week. Here's more about the novel:

Any other socialite would view being packed off to a remote Oregon ranch as a punishment. But Gracelyn Riley knows that this is her opportunity to become a real reporter. If she can make her name through an interview with the elusive hero known as Striker, then she'll never have to depend on anyone ever again.

Rancher Trevor Cruz can't believe his secret identity is being endangered by an overly chatty city girl. But if there's one thing he knows, it's that Gracie's pretty little snooping nose is bound to get her in trouble. So he'll use her determination to find "Striker" to keep an eye on her…and stick close by her side.

We'll be spending next week with Jessica, here on Making Home Work. She'll be doing an interview and giveaway, plus and sharing a recipe with us, and I'm excited to have her. Jessica interviewed me on her blog last week? If you missed it, stop by to check out the interview. On Friday, we'll be hearing from our monthly blogger, Sarah Hamaker. And in the meantime, if you're wanting to try out a book by a new author to see how well you like it, I can think of a couple to recommend . . .

Friday, April 6, 2012

Celebrate Easter!

I'm stealing this lovely Easter image from Laura Frantz's blog. While I have much more to share with you about my debut novel, Sanctuary for a Lady, I'm going to take a break from that today and wish you all a wonderful Easter, full of both God and family.

For those of you interested in visiting me elsewhere, I'm guest posting today over on Seekerville. Seekerville is an awesome blog for writers, and I'll be discussing kissing and nearly kissing in a novel.

Also, were having a bit of an Easter Egg hunt over on Goodreads this week. Stop by the Love Inspired Historical discussion board to learn what all is involved.

And if you're interested in a really cool giveaway of Sanctuary for a Lady, be sure to stop by my critique partner's website, Inspirational Historical Fiction Index. She's giving away up to four copies of my novel!

But most importantly, step back and take a break from the business of life, and have yourselves a wonderful Easter over the weekend!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Sanctuary for a Lady--A Behind the Scenes Look at the French Revolution

One of the most common questions I hear once people learn about Sanctuary for a Lady, is "What possessed you to write a story set during the French Revolution?"

I wish I had an easy answer to that question, but in truth, I don't completely know. My dramatic mind has always latched on to interesting time periods, and I remember sitting in history class in high school thinking, What would it be like to be a French aristocrat, born with the world at your feet, and then suddenly lose everything you've ever known?

Needless to say, Sanctuary for a Lady answers that question. During the French Revolution, thousands of people fled the country, settling in places from England to America to Austria. But leaving wasn't necessarily easy.

Furthermore, as I studied the ideology behind the French Revolution, I found myself sympathizing with the peasant class and wanting a better type of life for them. Before the Revolution, the peasants were utterly oppressed by the church, king, and aristocracy, and this had been going on for centuries.

The French peasant class wanted to be treated fairly. They didn't want to pay half their income in taxes that the nobility and Church didn't have pay. They didn't want to see their tax dollars squandered on the lavish parties King Louis XVI threw at Versailles while they were struggling to come up with enough money to buy a loaf of bread. They didn't want to face starvation if they couldn't afford that loaf of bread.

Yet despite the good ideals at the beginning of the French Revolution, the Revolution quickly digressed into an angry power struggle between political factions, most of which never truly represented the needs of the peasants. Five years into the Revolution, France had angered nearly all of it's neighboring countries and found itself at war with England, Austria and it's territories, Italy and Spain. The inside of the the country was also a mess, caught in a bloody sort of political revenge known as the Reign of Terror.

So in the midst of all this turmoil, I created the character of Isabelle de La Rouchecauld, the daughter of a duke. Isabelle lost everything at the beginning of the Revolution and is now struggling to reach England, where she'll finally be safe. She obviously hates the Revolution and the changes happening to her country. She wants the pre-revolutionary France back. The France where she was safe, where her family hasn't been killed, where her life was free and easy.

Then I drop Isabelle into the lap of Michel Belanger, a peasant farmer who's family has suffered at the hands of the aristocracy for hundreds of years. A peasant who can blame the deaths of family members on the local aristocracy. A peasant who has found life just as difficult under the changes taking place as he found life before the Revolution. And a peasant who has every reason to turn his back on the aristocrat needing help.

It was a hard story to write, but also a rewarding story, as Michel and Isabelle are able to overcome their seemingly insurmountable differences, goals, and ideals. So for those of you planning to read the book, I hope you enjoy being immersed in the unusual setting of the French Revolution, and I hope you identify with the struggles common to all humanity that Michel and Isabelle face.

If you're interested in learning more about the French Revolution, I have a page devoted to it on my website,

Did you all enjoy the interviews posted around the Web? I must admit, doing the character interviews for Michel and Isabelle were two of my favorite. I hope you enjoyed them!

Today I'm being interviewed over at Jessica Nelson's blog on what it's like to debut a novel. Jessica and her blog are extra special to me, and Jessica's own novel, Love on the Range, is debuting this month with mine! (I'll be featuring an interview and giveaway with Jessica later in the month).

I also have an interview posted on Lena Nelson Dooley's blog. This interview is a mixture of some quirky personal information about me and some snippets from writing Sanctuary for a Lady.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Sanctuary for a Lady Releases!

It's here, book release time! And I've got a bit of a party for you. First, lets start with some cupcakes.

Then some coffee, the freshly ground, gourmet kind.

And maybe a few decorations.

It's super exciting to see my book live around the web, from booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. My book is now ready to ship or download once you order it! And to help celebrate, I've decided to give away copy of my novel to one person who leaves a comment below.

I also want to share with you a few blogs I'm visiting this week:

If you're interested in learning about my heroine, Isabelle de La Rouchecauld, she's being interviewed over at Craftie Ladies of Romance. Here's a little picture if Isabelle's Hollywood lookalike, Kierra Knightley:

If you'd like to meet my hero, Michel Belanger, he's being interviewed on Tuesday over at Margaret Daley's blog. Here's a glimpse of Michel's Hollywood lookalike, Ben Barnes:

If you'd like to learn more about me and some of the struggles I face as an author, mom, and pastor's wife, I'll be visiting Overcoming Through Time all week long, plus giving away a copy of Sanctuary for a Lady at the end of the week.

I've got a second interview about writing Sanctuary for a Lady over at Through His Eyes Too, with another giveaway at the end of the week.

So let the party begin! Thanks for stopping by today, and I hope to see you around the web. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment below with your email address. The contest will end tomorrow, Tuesday April 3rd, at midnight.