Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Gratitude Effect by Richard J. Cavaness

I was compensated via Fiverr for sharing this post. There are also affiliate links present in this post. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission to help support my websites, at no additional cost to you.

The Gratitude Effect

Are you leveraging the most UNDERUTILIZED TOOL for improving life satisfaction and increasing happiness?

Your mindset is 100 percent responsible for the outcomes in your life. This truth will open your eyes in a brand new way and to a brand new world: Living a life of Gratitude.

In the “The Gratitude Effect” you will dramatically increase your personal wellbeing, shift your mindset, optimize your outcomes, and boost your physical and emotional well-being in life.

Author and personal development coach Rich Cavaness shows you how to:

• Have the power to determine the direction of your thoughts and your life
• Reframe your past so you can be grateful for where you are today• Boost physical, emotional, and mental well-being
• Understand that your overall happiness is directly connected to this effect
• Apply the seven principles of being thankful in your everyday life
• Fend off the negative activities that prevent being grateful

Through sharing real-life stories and practical teaching points, Rich gives you the tools you need to live your life in gratitude—the catalyst for a positive mental attitude—starting now!

Rich Cavaness is a recognized trainer, teacher and coach in the field of personal development and achievement. He is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner with the Certified Coaches Federation. Rich’s diverse experience, including business ownership, self-employment, management, sales, and ministry experience, has provided him with a broad understanding of many life issues faced today.

"OMGoodness!!! The book is WONDERFULLY INSPIRATIONAL!! I am so thankful that I have read this book. I am expecting to live my life in a more positive way from reading The Gratitude Effect and I absolutely will be buying many copies for my friends and family."
Petey Parker, Co- Founder of Young Hiring Partners

About Richard J. Cavaness

Rich Cavaness is a recognized trainer, teacher and coach in the field of personal development and achievement. He is a Certified Master Coach Practitioner with the Certified Coaches Federation. Rich’s diverse experience, including business ownership, self-employment, management, sales, and ministry experience, has provided him with a broad understanding of many life issues faced today.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Book Tour Grand Finale for Falling For You by Becky Wade with Giveaways

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Book Tour Grand Finale for
Falling for You
By Becky Wade

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed the Facebook Chat, go check it out here. If you missed any of the stops you can see snippets, as well as the link to each full post, below. Please note that affiliate links are present within this post. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

Launch - Note from the Author

...Falling for You stars both Corbin and the oldest Bradford sister, Willow. The two had a romantic relationship long ago, so when I thrust them into each other’s path again (kicking and screaming, I might add) fireworks ensued, which was so much fun to write. I enjoyed their banter. Willow’s strength. Corbin’s charm. And the chance to explore the novel's theme of reconciliation.

I hope Falling for You steals your heart!

Warmly, Becky

Amy Watson Author - Excerpt & Review

Text message from Corbin to Willow fifteen days before their breakup:

I miss you. It feels like forever since you left.

I just left Dallas yesterday.

Exactly. Until I met you, I didn’t know a day could feel like forever.

"'Falling For You' has twists and turns that left my mind racing almost as fast as I could turn the pages. The complex, yet beautifully woven story lines elicited visceral responses as I read. And somehow, somewhere along the way, it stopped being about just Willow’s story, it’s your story and my story...

You may shed some tears (I did!), but have no fear; there is plenty of humor! Rare are novels that produce legitimate laugh out loud moments and inside jokes amongst friends. Wade’s ability to introduce humor into her novels is really something special. Finally, the last page comes WAY too soon and I was left salivating for the NEXT novel! Watch out for another award for this beautiful story! This is a MUST READ!"

Remembrancy - Review

"A second chance romance with two likable characters—more so as details of their tumultuous past are revealed—Falling for You introduces a new romance with some familiar faces. Wade once again delivers the complications of romance with the nuances of family (how much do you love these sisters?)."

"'Falling for You' did me in. It is decidedly my favorite of Becky’s books (and you have no idea how strong the competition was!).

I loved that both Willow and Corbin had made very obvious, very heartbreaking mistakes in their past. Mistakes that influenced them negatively years later. I also loved that they, slowly, came face to face with those mistakes. And overcame them. And found forgiveness...

This book gets all the stars, all the happy tears, and my full recommendation."

Heidi Reads... - Review

"There is a perfect balance between all the plot threads and the redevelopment of Willow and Corbin's friendship and romance. They share fun banter, even (especially) when they are at odds, their chemistry is crackling with passion, and their relationship develops greater depth as Corbin is determined to show Willow how devoted he is to her. . . . I love the spiritual themes that are woven in seamlessly of forgiveness and the importance of turning all our worries over to God and allowing him to guide our lives. Even though this is the second book in the series it can definitely be read as a standalone. Highly recommend!"

"It’s not often that a book makes me reach for Kleenex but this one did...

Some hard issues were discussed in regards to their relationship and Wade did a fabulous job of weaving the descriptions throughout and heightening the emotional pull you felt towards Corbin and Willow...

Whew! What a fantastic book! You won’t be disappointed."

Radiant Light - Review

"Ms. Wade has created her own niche` in romantic suspense, and I am a huge fan! Even with the romance and mystery thread, the faith thread is not missing. It is woven beautifully and gives hope and encouragement to the reader.

Ms. Wade's mysterious thread is so good I wasn't exactly sure until later on which romance I was reading about, and I loved that!

Highly recommended!"

Cafinated Reads - Spotlight

"I loved Willow and Corbin’s story. Their past made for some great storyline for the future. The chemistry between these two is undeniable. You cannot help but fall in love with their story.

This is one book you will definitely not want to miss from Becky Wade!"

"I loved this book as much as I loved the first one! It was so good! It was deep and very thought provoking. It was just as big of roller coaster of emotion as the first book. I enjoyed revisiting all the characters from the previous book while reading Willow and Corbin’s story...

This whole book was great and I honestly can’t wait for the third! Becky is absolutely amazing and will always be a favorite! I highly recommend you read this series if you haven’t yet!"

Moments - Review

"Becky has done an incredible job with bringing Willow and the other characters to life; I felt as if they are real people. . . . It is so easy to connect with the characters and empathize with them as Becky really writes portraying the characters' hearts and their internal struggles with the various situations and their relationships. I found myself not being to put the book down once I started reading. I highly recommend "Falling for You," but encourage you to read the prequel novella and first book in the series as well. "

"For the best in contemporary romance, Becky Wade delivers every single time. I could never pick a favorite book because whatever I’m reading at the time is best, and that’s surely the case with Becky’s newest, Falling for You. In fact, it presented me with a conundrum … should I quickly read this story that totally captivated me, or proceed at a slower pace, so as to enjoy these characters longer and not miss a single nuance?

I really had no choice but to choose the latter because Falling for You is that good...

Falling for You is an outstanding story in every way and I hope we’ll see Britt’s story soon."

"As much as I related to Nora in True To You with her nerdy bookish self and the adoption themes . . . in a lot of ways I relate more to Willow. I will never be model material and only consider myself beautiful on good days, but Willow struggles with two big things that I have as well: shame from a past relationship, and growing up, the feeling that I had to be the perfect child."

I Am A Reader - Excerpt

Nora had recently acquired an excellent boyfriend named John Lawson. John’s only fault, so far as Willow could tell, was his bad taste in friends. John, who’d been unaware of Corbin and Willow’s past, had brought Corbin to Willow’s grandmother’s birthday party in July.

Since the party, Nora and John had been trying their best to keep Corbin separate from Willow. Ordinarily, Nora took pains not to breathe his name to Willow, despite that Willow knew that John and Nora hung out with Corbin. Every time she found out that Nora had seen Corbin, Willow felt a little like a high school girl whose best friend was being stolen away by her arch rival.

Willow only had two sisters, both younger. Corbin could have befriended the boyfriend of anyone else’s sister in all of America. Anyone else! In all of America! Why had he insisted on befriending hers?

Book by Book - Spotlight

"...the attraction and chemistry between Willow and Corbin was fantastic. I could literally feel it. There was a steady build of information and insight that kept me invested and interested from the first page until the end. It was so, so good. I just loved Corbin- his sense of humor, his determination, his kindness.

There was a bit of a mystery being solved in this book as well. It was light and fun and kept an added element of intrigue to the story."

cherylbbookblog - Review

"Falling For You is a wonderful work of fiction by Becky Wade. Characters and a story line that you are sure to love. If you love romance than this is the book for you."

"Falling for You encompasses so many emotions and moments of truth. Just when it seems like the characters are making progress, another layer of Willow and Corbin’s past relationship is revealed, increasing the tension and complexity of the story. I love that Becky Wade can make me laugh, cry, and swoon in a matter of pages. Mostly, I love that my own faith can be challenged through story — and what a lesson it is!"

"Falling for You is everything right in a romance novels. Becky Wade upped her game and brought me to tears a time or too, laughter (because Corbin is that hilarious), and a bunch of heartfelt sighs at the love blossoming between Corbin and Willow. I absolutely loved it!..

All in all, this was a one-nighter, page turning, gotta love Becky Wade type of read."

"...Falling for You was fabulous, as expected!

All I can say is that I enjoyed this book from start to finish. It was the perfect compliment to the previous book and the end was just what I was hoping for! Another fantastic novel by Becky Wade, but I have come to expect nothing less! If you have not had a chance to pick up this series you must!"

"Sizzling romance, heart-wrenching loss, and a faith theme woven throughout the story make Falling for You a stand-out Christian romance. A touch of mystery and epistolary chapter endings only add to the reading pleasure."

"Becky Wade writes in a way that draws a reader in, causing hope to surface, and tender love to arise. I felt like an honorary character and enjoyed being a part of this family so much. I love that this story isn't one dimensional--there are so many facets that meld together in a satisfying read that will twist your heart."

Willow had seen him in person for the first time years before when he’d sauntered into a Sports Illustrated photo shoot featuring philanthropic pro athletes, models, actors, musicians, and business magnates. She’d been holding a to-go cup of coffee by its protective sleeve in that moment. Golden sunlight had bathed the studio. His legendary status had whisked around him like a spell.

He’d been very relaxed that day. His sense of humor, charm, and easy confidence had worked like a balm on all of them. He’d won over every person in the place, including cautious her. She’d had no idea then that the quarterback with the irresistible smile would become her downfall.

"I personally love Willow (she might be my favorite of the three sisters), and I just loved this love story. True to any Becky Wade novel, this book is packed full of heart-stopping romance that just makes your toes tingle (Can we say Corbin? Mmmhmm)! There’s also a little bit of a mystery thrown in — Charlotte quickly became one of my favorite characters!"

God is Love - Review

"This story is filled with intrigue, faith, hope, and romance. As a reader, I couldn’t stop turning the pages until I reached “the end”. As a writer, I applaud Becky Wade for her masterful storytelling. She writes beautifully and tells her characters’ stories in a way that draws the reader in and makes them care about what happens in their fictional story world.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to anyone who needs a second chance romance in real-life or just enjoys reading a good story that will make you laugh with hilarious dialogue and smile as you share sweet moments with the characters. "

"This story made me literally laugh out loud at times, but other moments it had me thinking serious, deep thoughts about God, His love for us, grace, and forgiveness. I loved the balance this book found between humor and serious. It also included a wonderful love story - probably my favorite type - the 'reunion romance.'"

"It makes me happy to be able to recommend a book to friends that really is just that good. It’s sweet, and unpredictable, and clean, yet very romantic and real. This author doesn’t sugar coat real life situations just because it’s an inspiration read. She dives right in, but in a way that is very respectable.

Falling for You isn’t the kind of book you can “just read one more chapter in” because when you finish that chapter, you want to keep going! This is a bingeable book, an “up till 2 AM” read."

Wishful Endings - Review

"Becky Wade has written another story with lovable characters and a message that will touch readers' hearts. She delves into some difficult topics with humor, love, and grace. Add to that a sizzling romance and you have a story that is sure to be a favorite."

Mel's Shelves - Review

"It shouldn't be too surprising that I loved everything about this book, including the fabulous cover!...

This is a fabulous book from beginning to end! It's one I highly recommend and will definitely read again! Even though I wasn't familiar with the characters, I loved the setup for the next book and look forward to how that relationship will play out. "

"I LOVE how the author kept what happened in their relationship SO REAL! Couples really do face temptations and struggles in real life, especially when one person in the relationship is a Christian and another is not. Consequences, forgiveness, peace, and not becoming a victim of your past were all explored in this book, through the truth of God's Word and who He is. So well done! And, of course, the romantic tension was great ; ).

Basically...put this book, and all of Becky Wade's other books, on your To Be Read list! : )"

Jorie Loves A Story - Spotlight

"I must say that when I finished this book, it jumped to one of my all-time favorites...

Becky created a superb novel, well worth the 5 star read and a spot on your keeper shelf."

"All in all, this book seems to have a little bit of everything. Mystery! Romance! And precocious twelve-year-old girls who understand their uncles way better than anyone else. Charlotte was a really sweet addition to the cast of characters and became one of my favorites. Her small nudges certainly help get the ball rolling in the beginning, for which none of us are unhappy! :D

There are many more reasons that I could name in order to try and convince you to give this one a try. But ultimately? All I've really got is that it's by Becky Wade and that should totally be enough to convince you! So what are you waiting for? Go read it."

"For those of you sticking with me, let me tell you why I enjoyed this book so much that I began rereading it less than a month after devouring it. This is no ordinary romance though. It begins with a wounded NFL star, a precocious child, a missing person mystery AND a lost love with wounds so deep they are almost part of the characters blood. When you put all of that together and catapult the former couple back into each other’s worlds, you have yourself a serious page turner...

If you love a great romance with so much more, this is a must read."

"Falling for You, the second book in Becky Wade’s Bradford Sisters series, is a fantastic addition to the set!..

I loved the witty, and sometimes snarky, back and forth of this story. I loved observing the softening of Willow’s heart. I loved seeing Corbin becoming the hero he is meant to be. And I believe you will, too!"

"In her novel, Falling for You, book two in the Bradford Sisters Romance series, author Becky Wade has written fun and exciting clean contemporary romance that readers are sure to fall in love with. From page one, this novel comes to life off the pages...

Readers definitely do not want to miss this excellent sequel to True to You and the continued story of the Bradford Sisters!"

"What a wonderful, clean, fun, delightful, suspenseful, and romantic story...

...I highly recommend it. I believe many readers would relate to the power of forgiveness, moving from the past, and redemption."

Dawn's Dreams - Review

"This book was so much fun! I loved both Willow and Corbin! I also loved the mystery of finding Josephine. I can't wait for the next one."

Don't forget to enter the giveaway below, if you haven't already...

Falling for You
(A Bradford Sisters Romance #2)
By Becky Wade
Inspirational Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 368 pages
May 1st 2018 by Bethany House Publishers

Famously beautiful model Willow Bradford is taking a temporary break from her hectic schedule to work as the innkeeper at her family's small-town bed-and-breakfast. She was enjoying the peace of her hometown, Merryweather, Washington, right up until she came face-to-face with Corbin Stewart, the man she loves to hate. A thoughtful rule-follower by nature, Willow threw caution to the wind four years ago when she entrusted her heart to Corbin--and suffered the consequences when it all fell apart.

Former NFL quarterback Corbin is forceful, charming, and accustomed to getting what he wants . . . except where Willow Bradford is concerned. Unable to forget her, he's never stopped regretting what happened between them. When their paths unexpectedly cross again, he's determined to make her give him a second chance.

When a decades-old missing persons case finds Corbin and Willow working together, they're forced to confront their past and who they've become--and whether they can risk falling for one another all over again.

About the Author

Becky’s a California native who attended Baylor University, met and married a Texan, and settled in Dallas. She published historical romances for the general market before putting her career on hold for several years to care for her three children. When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to turn her attention to Christian fiction. She loves writing funny, modern, and inspirational contemporary romance! She’s the Christy Award and Carol Award winning author of My Stubborn Heart, the Porter Family series, and the Bradford Sisters Romance series.

Tour Giveaway

Celebrate the release of Becky Wade's Falling for You by entering to win a fabulous prize pack that includes some of Willow Bradford's favorite things!

One grand prize winner will receive*:

  • A model-worthy Kate Spade bracelet
  • A $100 cash card (so you can feed a housewares and home décor addiction like Willow’s)
  • A Seattle Candle Co. candle (that smells just like the setting of the book)
  • Roasted in Seattle Rainy Day Coffee
  • A delicious scone mix (so that you can enjoy scones just like Willow and Corbin do while having high tea)
  • Cozy book-lover socks
  • And of course, a copy of Falling for You
Two runner up winners will receive*:

  • A Seattle Candle Co. candle (that smells just like the setting of the book)
  • A copy of Falling for You
*Due to shipping costs, US entrants only.

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Read an excerpt from Light Out of Darkness (Waldensian Series) by Donna Wichelman with Giveaways

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

Welcome to the tour for the Waldensian series by Donna Wichelman. Today I'm bringing you an excerpt from the first book in the series, Light Out of Darkness. You are also invited to check out the second book in the series. Follow the tour schedule for even more excerpts and reviews, including one coming up soon at Andi's Book Reviews, one of my sister blogs. Plus at the bottom, you'll find multiple great giveaways to enter!

Please note that affiliate links are present within this post. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission to help support my websites, at no additional cost to you. I only share those books that I feel my readers will enjoy.


Light Out of Darkness
(The Waldensian Series #1)
By Donna Wichelman
Romantic Suspense
Paperback & ebook, 320 pages
April 2nd 2018 by Soujourner's Press

A prestigious art exhibition turns into a horrific spectacle when a murder sends an art curator and a professor on a hunt for a highly coveted stolen painting.

Escaping a painful past in Cleveland, Ohio, Jamie Holbrooke flees to Milan, Italy as an art curator. But her past follows her during an evening stroll along Varenna’s shoreline walk when an assailant, who looks like her dead brother, presses a mysterious riddle into her hand. Still reeling from shock the next day, she discovers her long-time paragon, Dr. Alessandro Marianni, may have a link to the enigmatic riddle. Before she can discover the answers, their colleague falls prey to an assassin’s bullet. Convinced the riddle and murder are connected, Jamie and Alessandro risk their lives to uncover why an obscure painting has caught the attention of art critics and criminals alike. At stake is a two-thousand–year-old drama, unfolding in the contemporary world of the Northern Italian Alps.

Will Jamie and Alessandro stop powerful organized crime figures before the painting is lost forever and with it a secret more valuable than the prized artwork? Will Jamie find the answers to help her reclaim her life again? She will need the courage to face her fears and the persevering faith of Dr. Alessandro Marianni to heal her wounded heart.


Read an excerpt:
Alessandro returned her gaze. “Until now, I have not truly been tested for my faith.” He moved to the doorway.
They clambered about the exterior of the stone edifices for a few minutes more. The buildings seemed in need of repair after the winter snows, though Jamie imagined these structures had never been truly rain- or snow-worthy. She suspected the barba had always contended with their surroundings in the same way they persevered through persecution.
All at once, an explosive cacophony of what sounded like firecrackers ricocheted across the valley. Jamie whirled around as Alessandro snatched hold of her. “We’re being shot at. Follow me!”
She clutched his hand and sped with him toward the stone pathway back down through the chestnut forest.
Another round of shots rang out.
Jamie felt her heart pounding as her panic rose. “Alessandro!”
“Just keep moving!” he told her, tightening his grip on her as they ran.
A flash of lightning chiseled the sky, and a crack of thunder resounded around them as the rains let loose.
Involuntarily, Jamie dropped his hand and dropped to her knees. She covered her ears with her hands and screamed in terror.
Alessandro squatted next to her, grabbed her hands away from her head and peered into her eyes. “It’s all right, Jamie. It was only thunder this time. But we must move on. Please, take my hand.”
Tentatively she nodded, then took his hand once more.
They continued their flight down the waterlogged slope, the rain dripping from their coats and their hiking boots now soaked. Jamie feared she would slip on the eroded steps. “I don’t want to die,” she breathed.
A barrage of shots assailed them from the forest to the right. Jamie twisted around. Someone in a green-hooded jacket tracked them down the mountain. Adrenaline kept her moving, concerned now more about the hunter than by falling down the mountainside.
“It will be safer over here,” Alessandro said, leading her onto the soggy leaves among the chestnut trees.
They came to the clearing where the residences dotted the pasturelands and the Church of the Pra del Tor rested peacefully on its rocky precipice. Fog hung over the valley below. Jamie stopped to take a breath. She heard shots above them.
“Move!” Alessandro commanded.
They scurried past the church to take the hill down to the car. Sodden by the drenching rains, the small stream had become a torrent of cascading falls, devouring the trail they had earlier ascended. The steep and rocky slope became difficult to navigate, and Alessandro dropped her hand. “It’ll be easier for each of us to keep our balance. Keep following my lead.”
Jamie picked her way, attempting to get footholds on the protruding rocks, yet knowing one misstep could result in tumbling to the road below. The slow process made them targets for the stalker who followed close behind. Either way, their lives were at risk.
Hope kindled when Jamie saw Alessandro make the road and open the car door. She strove harder to get down, executing a few more carefully calculated steps. Then she took a flying leap, falling to the ground below and rolling several feet. Fighting the pain in her arm, she pushed herself up and jumped into the car. Alessandro peeled the car away from the curb.
Jamie twisted her head to look back at the gunman on the slope. She watched in horror as he aimed his gun and shot. The bullet missed them. He de-cloaked his head, but Jamie could not get a clear view of him other than to notice dark hair and complexion before Alessandro rounded the hairpin turn.


Undaunted Valor
(The Waldensian Series #2)
By Donna Wichelman
Romantic Suspense
Paperback & ebook, 281 pages
April 4th 2018 by Sojourner's Press

For nature lovers, ski aficionados, travel enthusiasts and history scholars, the French Alps offer some of the most spectacular scenery and outdoor recreation in all Europe with its majestic mountain peaks, cascading waterfalls, unspoiled forests and quaint mountain villages. People come to get away from the daily grind and rejuvenate their spirits.

But when Alessandro Marianni’s grandmother Luciana is kidnapped during a church conference in Chamonix, the same landscape becomes an ominous height to scale, and Jamie Holbrooke and her fiancé Alessandro have difficulty distinguishing between friend and foe on the race to find her. They will have to weather a rainstorm on a mountain trail, negotiate a dangerous waterfall, outmaneuver a car chase, and defy an assassin’s gun in their search.

Will they find their beloved Luciana before it’s too late? Who will die on the way to the finish line? Who can they trust? And where will Jamie find the courage to confront her adversaries?

In this sequel to Light Out of Darkness, the answers will lie in unanticipated places and with unexpected allies and require Jamie to discover what it means to trust God with Undaunted Valor.


About the Author

Donna Wichelman was a communications professional before writing full-time. She has authored short stories, essays and articles in various inspirational publications and lives her dream writing novels and screenplays. She and her husband work with teens at their local church in Fort Collins, Colorado. They travel, bike and kayak whenever their schedules allows.

Tour Giveaway

1st Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card, Copy of the LIGHT OUT OF DARKNESS (signed print copy to US winner, ebook to international winner) + 4 oz. Tea of your choice from the Tea Source or 1 LB of Coffee from DazBog Coffee (will Add $10 to Gift Card for international gift in lieu of tea or coffee)

2nd Prize: $15 Amazon Gift Card + Copy of LIGHT OUT OF DARKNESS (signed print copy to US winner, ebook to international winner)

3rd Prize: Copy of LIGHT OUT OF DARKNESS (signed print copy to US winner, ebook to international winner)

Ends May 23rd

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Amber Lea Starfire, author of Accidental Jesus Freak - A Snapshot of Who I Am Today - with Giveaway

Welcome to the Name Before the Masses tour for Accidental Jesus Freak by Amber Lea Starfire. This is a powerful memoir about her journey entering into a new religion and trying to get back to her authentic self. Today she's giving us a sort of update as to how she is doing now, in addition to letting us get to know her book. Please take the time to read her words and then let her know your thoughts and any other questions. You can also enjoy an excerpt. Follow the tour for even more insights into Amber and her book, plus more chances to enter the giveaway.

Please note that affiliate links are present within this post. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission to help me support my websites, at no additional cost to you. I only share those books I feel will be of interest to my readers.


A Snapshot of Who I Am Today

By Amber Lea Starfire

Memoirs are about the past — stories of challenges and triumphs, family secrets, decisions made, and lives changed. Accidental Jesus Freak is about my journey into, and out of, a fundamentalist evangelical sect. It depicts what it’s like to live within and emerge from a dualistic and patriarchal mindset, where there is only right or wrong, good or evil, salvation or damnation. Where there is little understanding of and even less compassion for the simple condition of being human, particularly if you are female.

It is also a love story. Of a young woman who falls so far under the spell of a charismatic man, she is willing to follow him anywhere. But one day she wakes up from that spell. She looks around, sees that she has given up her freedom and even her sense of self, and realizes that it’s time to find her power and take it back.

You might wonder: What became of that woman after she made that choice and after her epilogue? What was her journey back to self like, and who is she today? These are the questions I attempt to answer in this article.

When I woke up from that deceptive, religious spell, I began exploring what life had to offer. Over time, I created a professional career, investigated other spiritual paths, expressed myself through photography and art and dance, and began writing again. I felt a great sense of urgency. I felt as though I had lost more than a decade of my life. And yet, my experience has given me a greater understand of and compassion for others who have locked themselves into rigid belief systems, who are ruled by fear, and who have subjugated themselves to those beliefs — and the “gurus” they have given themselves over to.

Today, I have a rich and fulfilling life. I am at peace with myself and do not feel the need to “believe” in anything in particular. I have a professional career (my day job) in a creative field for which I write curriculum, create videos, educational materials, and online e-learning modules. Outside my day job, I write, edit, and teach writing. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to encourage and help others who also want to write their stories. I’m learning how to play the piano. I walk outdoors every day. My children are grown, I have six wonderful grandchildren (though I don’t get to see them very often), and I have a life partner who treats me as his equal and supports me in my creative endeavors.

And I write.

Writing, in all its forms (poetry, fiction, nonfiction, memoir, and essay) allows me to express myself and explore life and what it means to be human in all its strangeness and wonder and complexity.

Who are you today? Do you write or express yourself creatively through some type of artistic work? Tell me about yourself in the comments below.


Accidental Jesus Freak

In 1973, Linda was a flute player and music major at a California community college, until she met and fell madly in love with a charismatic piano player, plunging into his world of music-making and drug-fueled parties. When, just three weeks after their wedding, he reveals that he's been "born again," Linda makes the spontaneous decision to follow him into his new religion and, unwittingly, into a life of communal living, male domination, and magical thinking.

With unflinching candor, Amber Starfire chronicles her journey as Linda Carr into the evangelical church culture, where she gives up everything for her husband and their music ministry. But in the process, she loses her most valuable assets: her identity and sense of self-worth. It is only when Linda returns to live with her birth family and faces her complicated relationship with her mother that she finds new purpose and the courage to begin to extricating herself from the limiting beliefs of her past.

Accidental Jesus Freak is the story of one woman, one marriage, and one kind of fundamentalism, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible when we are true to ourselves. Both a cautionary tale and celebration of personal empowerment, Accidental Jesus Freak is a powerful reminder for anyone who seeks to live a life authentic to who they truly are.

Buy links

Read an excerpt:
By spring we were behind on rent and utility payments and were running out of food. Paul was deep into one of his depressions, so the Beulah Band wasn’t practicing or performing. Without the focus provided by our music and without Paul’s guidance, the commune began to erode at the edges, crumbling into the sea of reality. One by one, people drifted away, most moving back to Portland to take up residence with family or friends. Soon there was just a core of us left: three families, including Paul and Barney’s, two married couples without children, and a few young bachelors.

I remember quite distinctly the day we gave up. The group had exactly $20 remaining in our coffers—not enough to pay any of our bills. Not even enough to buy food for dinner. So, in typical throw-it-to-the-wind fashion, we traipsed up the street to the local Dairy Queen and bought $20 worth of banana splits to share. It felt reckless and fitting to celebrate the demise of our grand communal experiment in this fashion.

I have a polaroid taken that day outside the Dairy Queen. Fourteen adults and five children smile and squint into the sun like one big happy family. Eric and I stand at the back of the group, round-faced in our youth, his hand placed protectively on my arm. I remember feeling both relieved and sad. I was tired of the strain of trying to keep food on the table, tired of the squabbling, the lack of privacy, and feeling shut out by the men. I was ready to live like a normal married couple, just Eric and me on our own. Yet there was a bitter-sweetness to those banana splits.

About Amber Lea Starfire

Amber Lea Starfire MA, MFA, is an author, editor, and creative writing coach whose passion is helping others tell their stories. She has published two memoirs: Accidental Jesus Freak: One Woman’s Journey from Fundamentalism to Freedom (2017) and Not the Mother I Remember: A Memoir — finalist for both the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the 2013-2014 Sarton Women’s Literary Awards. She has also published several books of non-fiction, including Journaling the Chakras: Eight Weeks to Self-Discovery, and Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts & Meditations. Amber is co-editor of the award-winning anthology, Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the '60s & '70s. Her creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals.

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Amber Lea Starfire will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Monday, May 14, 2018

Natashia Brewer, author of Biblical Proportions, on Her Journey to Becoming a Writer

Welcome to the book tour for Biblical Proportions by Natashia Brewer. I would like to give her a special welcome to Uplifting Reads today as she is sharing not only about her book, but also her journey to becoming a writer. Please enjoy her thoughts, as well as a blurb and excerpt from her book. Follow the tour for even more insight on her and her book. You'll also have more chances to enter the giveaway. 

Please note that affiliate links are present within this post. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission to help me support my websites, at no additional cost to you. I only share those books I feel will interest my readers.


For many years, I knew that I wanted to write a book. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about what. I knew that whatever I wrote it had to be thought provoking and inspiring. It wasn’t until I found myself in the darkest time in my life that I discovered myself and many topics to write about.

In January 2017, not only was I separated from my husband, but I also lost my job. These two things were such a significant part of me that I didn’t know who I was without them. I mean they both were in my life for over 20 years. I found myself in the lowest point of my life, but I knew that I couldn’t stay in that place. I had to get free not just for me but for my two children, so I had to find out who Natashia Brewer was. I took time and created a process to allow me to heal. Since I am also a songwriter, I titled my process Finding Life’s Love Song. The process made me dig deep and deal with all the baggage that was inviting drama and pain into my daily life.

Once I completed the process and felt completely free, I knew that I could not keep it to myself but didn’t know how to share it with the world. One night in a dream, I received the God given idea to write my first book titled Love Song. The book not only explores the life of a very successful business women, but it also incorporates part of the process to Finding Life’s Love Song.

Since writing Love Song, I was later divinely given the idea for my new book titled Biblical Proportions which I finished writing in October 2017. However, I knew it was not the time to release it. I prayed about it and guided to release the book for such a time as this. The book was released on May 11, 2018. Biblical Proportions is a modern-day parable, inspired by the story of Esau and Jacob. It is a powerful fictional tale that will take readers inside the drama of twin brothers Edward and James which threaten to destroy them. I made sure to illustrate the perils brought about by sinful choices, but also share insights and guidance on how they rebound from devasting consequences through faith and a deeper relationship with God.

When I read through both books, I see some of the drama and pain that I have endured in my life in the pages. I worked hard to develop a closer relationship with God, and I can say that now I am truly free. I recognize that everything that happened, they happened for a reason. The storms that I endured, especially over the last two years, where not meant to hurt me. These situations, pain, and tears ultimately pushed me into purpose. My purpose is to motivate and inspire people through my work; songs, books, spoken word or music.


Biblical Proportions

Edward and James Shaw are twins who are successful executives at Rock Star Records. The company that was started and operated by their father, Irvin, who is a well-known hip hop artist. Edward has a great love for music and is focused on ensuring the success of the business, just like his dad. James on the other hand has a great love for women and power. 

Unfortunately, they were blindsided by the challenges of life which were of biblical proportions. Edward found himself in the struggle of his life to save his marriage and his career after there had been some horrible choices made, while James found himself fighting for his freedom.

The only way for them to find their way through the drama, infidelity, damaged trust, addiction, meaningless sex, and betrayal was to build a solid relationship with God. When Edward and James hit rock bottom mentally and emotionally, they found out who they were and what the Lord called them to do. They both began to walk into their purpose realizing that although the storms came one after another, after another and almost took them out; they survived through the grace of God…

Take this journey with Edward and James and the rest of the Shaw family as they endure the many trials and tribulations of this life.

Read an excerpt:
“Well if that is how you going to be, then how do you think Jackie is going to feel when she finds out what we have been doing together all this time. How together is your happy family going to be then?” Rita threatened.

This statement infuriated James to his core.

Life Lesson Four: What’s done in the dark will eventually come to light because buried bones won’t stay hidden always. Although people agree to a situation where they are on the “side”, it doesn’t mean that they won’t eventually catch feelings and forget their position.

About Natashia Brewer

Natashia Brewer is the established Resonation Entertainment Group in 2014. Since the launch of her company, she has released many motivating and inspiring musical and literary projects, like: The Infinite Love EP; Love Song the book; and Biblical Proportions. When she isn’t creating music for upcoming projects, writing books, conducting interviews, or writing blog post, Natashia is a contributing songwriter for the charity Songs of Love, creating personalized songs for sick children.

In addition to being a published author, songwriter, and music producer, Natashia is a speaker who’s objective is to use her life’s testimony to uplift and inspire others. Letting people know that they can change their lives if they change their minds.

Natashia is currently married with two children, she resides in Maryland.


Twitter: @itstashiab

Instagram: @itstashiab

Facebook: @itstashiab


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Natashia Brewer will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn host.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

E.S. Ruete, author of Off Season: A Novel of Healing, on Writing

Welcome to Uplifting Reads! Today author E.S. Reute is sharing about his own writing history before introducing us to his latest book, Off Season. You can also check out an excerpt from the novel and enter a giveaway. Please leave him any comments or questions you may have. Be sure to visit the rest of the tour for even more fun guest posts, interviews, and excerpts.

Please note that affiliate links are present within this post. Should you make a purchase through one, I may earn a small commission to help me support my websites, at no additional cost to you.


How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing most of my life. I was 12 or 13 when I wrote a parody of Poe’s “The Raven” called “The Seagull.” In Eighth grade I wrote an Italian sonnet just to prove it could be done in English. Of course it wasn’t very good and it wasn’t a love sonnet, but it fit the meter and the rhyme scheme. Then in ninth grade I had a poem published in the school paper. It was about the gym teacher’s infamous paddle, Big Sam, and was a parody of Jimmy Dean’s “Big John.”

In High School I was a very prolific poet. I had about twice as many pieces as anyone else number after number. The editor of the magazine started to refer to me as “The Bard of Cedar Cliff.” Some of my favorites were my cinquan, a French verse form of five lines of 2, 4, 6, 8, and 2 syllables.

I majored in writing at Penn State. I did great in technical writing, led my class in journalism, and wrote some of my best work in biographical writing. I even did okay in poetry. But the only class where I did worse than my two fiction courses was playwriting.

Almost every job I had in 40 years of varied careers involved some sort of technical writing. As a submarine officer, I was on the boat that was often the first to get new equipment and I had to write operating instructions for it. I have written procedures, policies, statements of work, proposals, requests for proposals, and test analyses as I progressed through careers as a technical editor, technical writer, defense analyst, government contracting officer’s technical representative, business analyst, and methodologist. I have always prided myself in being able to transcend the mundane and tell a story in my test analyses and statements of work, and yet when required write procedures that are unenduringly boring to read but have clarity of structure and content that make them extremely easy to use.

In 1991 I wrote my first book, The Strategic Information Resource Management Planning (SIRMP) Facilitator’s Handbook in support of the U.S. Coast Guard. I became a prolific blogger on meeting facilitation (except in those days there were no blogs, the forum was an email list server). I was also a frequent contributor to The Facilitator new letter, Group Facilitation journal, and other publications and presented papers at software, business process, and facilitation conferences on two continents. I wrote by two general-interest non-fiction books, Seeking God and Lead Your Groups to Success. But I still avoided fiction.

I finally got over it by listening to Anne Lamott who, in Bird by Bird talks about letting the character tell the story. This was reinforced by Erica Jong who, in Any Woman’s Blues has her alter ego, Isadora Wing, the purported author of the book, argue in the margins with her character about where the character is taking the story. I actually got to ask Jong about that at a book signing. So when I finally decided that I was going to stop avoiding fiction, that I was going to write from 4:00 to 5:00 every afternoon, I just started listening to what my characters had to say. Something poured out of my pen every day, and in eight weeks I had Off Season.

Since then, the problem has been trying to find a story as compelling as the story Dottie told, one that will get me back to the writing desk every day.


Off Season: A Novel of Healing

Dottie woke up wondering where she was and why she was so cold. The first thing she noticed was that she must be outside – she was lying on cold ground and snow was hitting her in unusual places. That’s when she noticed the second thing. Her skirt was pulled up past her waist and her panties were gone. Damn those bastards. It started to come back to her.

Dottie is now on an odyssey; a journey not of her choosing; a journey of healing, integration, and reconciliation that will involve her partner, her friends, her enemies, her church, her whole community. And her rapists. As she fights her way through social stereotypes about rape and rape victims, she also finds the strength to overcome society’s messages of who she should be and lays claim her true self. But the memories, the loss, the anger – and the fears – never go away. No woman chooses to be raped. I asked Dottie why she chose to tell me a story of rape. She said that millions of women, hundreds every day, have stories of rape that never get told. She told her story because she could. Because she had to. Because maybe people would hear in a work of fiction a Truth that they could not hear in any other way.

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Read an excerpt:
“Look to your left. That person has divinity inside them. Look to your right. That person has a divine spark. Now tap the shoulder of the person in in front of you. When they turn around, say, ‘Namasté. I honor the divine spark within you.’

“As you prepare to celebrate Christmas, as we prepare to invite one another to the communion table, think on this: Mary was an unwed mother, but she was not unclean. Joseph was a lecherous old man, but he was not unclean. The shepherds lived in the fields with the sheep, but they were not unclean. The Magi were heathens from a pagan land and probably not circumcised, but they were not unclean. And Jesus was born among the donkey dung and slept on top of a cow’s supper, but He most assuredly was not unclean.

“Let it be so.”

As Pastor Allen spoke, Mandy sat with her arms folded across her chest and her legs pressed together. When others were looking left and right, she didn’t move, and when she was tapped on the shoulder, she didn’t turn around. She just pursed her lips into a tighter line.

But those who sat near her thought they saw the least glimmer of a tear in the corner of her eye. Whether it was for her church, or for the Pastor, or for herself, no one could guess. Even Mandy didn’t know. But part of her, a part she was afraid of, a part she was trying to ignore, thought that maybe, just maybe, it was for Dottie.

About E.S. Ruete

E.S “Ned” Ruete is an author, speaker, group facilitator, women’s rights activist, LGBTQIPA+ ally, lay preacher, guitar picker, and business analyst. He is the author of Seeking God: Finding God’s both/and in an either/or world and Lead Your Group to Success: A Meeting Leader’s Primer.

Now retired, Ned lives in Niantic, Connecticut with his second wife. He continues to offer pro bono group facilitation and facilitation training to schools, churches, community groups and not-for-profit organizations. He has led strategic planning retreats for United Action Connecticut (UACT), Fiddleheads Food Co-op, and ReNew London. He is actively involved in LGBTQIPA+ advocacy and annually attends and presents sessions at the True Colors Conference. He is a member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) formerly served on the Association Coordinating Team (ACT, the IAF Board of Directors). He was associate editor of Group Facilitation: A Research and Applications Journal and has contributed articles to Group Facilitation, The Facilitator, and other publications on group facilitation and management consulting.

Off Season is Mr. Ruete’s first fiction work

See his consulting products at


and his books at 

One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

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