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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mary's Indie Publishing Workshop

This weekend, I was invited to the Pinehurst, Idaho, public library to share my Indie Publishing Workshop. I'd heard there were a couple of people who had manuscripts ready and wanted to know what to do next. So I added some pretty new slides to my Power Point presentation, dusted off my handouts, and my husband and I went to meet some new friends about an hour-and-a-half drive from our country home. Still thinking I'd be sharing with two or three writers, we set up two tables and six comfy chairs facing the wall where my slideshow would be displayed. Boy, was I thrilled when people kept walking through the door of that small meeting room. By the end, thirteen writers and interested guests had joined with me in talking about the Indie writing/publishing way. Isn't that cool?

From newbies to a writer who'd already published six books, our mutual joy was discussing writing and the process of getting a book published and noticed. I shared tips on marketing, formatting, publishing in paperback and ebook, and what to do next. I met some wonderful writers who had tips of their own to share. One lady encouraged me when she said, "I can't wait to go home and pull my manuscript out and start writing!" That's exactly the response I love. I want to encourage others that they CAN do this. It's not as difficult as they (you) might imagine.

If you're wondering whether or not you should try publishing your book, you CAN do it. If your dream, like mine, has been to write a book since you were a kid, know this, you CAN. Don't give up. Join a writers' group where the goal is to be published, not just to practice writing. Read everything you can through blogs and ebooks about the current Indie Publishing possibilities. It's pretty exciting when you realize what you can do to get your ideas into the hands of readers—without it costing an arm and a leg. And you get to make all the creative choices. That's pretty awesome.

Follow your dream.
You can write AND publish.
Start today.
Begin with a single step...knowing you can!

Monday, February 17, 2014

My Review of My Heart Beats for You

This morning, I read My Heart Beats for You, and I loved it again!!

Here's my review of this heart-stirring book by Paula Lynn McGrew:

In My Heart Beats for You, Paula Lynn McGrew has created a masterpiece of words, emotions, and pictures depicting the precious and delightful love of God the Father. The words, as if from the Lord, himself, are truly inspiring and uplifting, almost like a psalm of devotion. As I read through this charming book, my heart was stirred to ponder and absorb the idea anew that God loves me. He LOVES me!! "Every moment I know where you are," and "Every time I look at you, I say, 'Wow!'" spoke to me like a love song. Paula did a fabulous job articulating the passion of a Father cherishing his child completely, forever, and no matter what. For anyone who's ever struggled with picturing a father's love, this book is the one to read. I highly recommend My Heart Beats for You to readers of all ages. I can see it being such a blessing at baby showers and birthdays or any kind of gift-giving event for children or adults—or simply purchased to read and enjoy, and then, read again. The message in this book touched me deeply; I'm sure it will speak to your heart too.

I first read this book a couple of months ago when Paula was preparing it for publication, and I loved it! The words stirred such a deep chord in my heart about God's love for me. Today, I read it again, and WOW!!! I felt the same warmth and sweetness of God's love pour over me. It's a definite read--and reread!!!

My Heart Beats for You is available in paperback and Kindle.

Click here for PAPERBACK
Click here for KINDLE 

Discover more about Paula Lynn McGrew at

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CrossReads Book Blast, Timothy Phillips by Cliff Ball

 Timothy Phillips
Timothy Phillips
By Cliff Ball

About the Book:

Can a nineteen year old stay true to the faith he was brought up on when he's under the spotlight?

Timothy Phillips dreams come true when he's discovered by the producer of a national talent show. So what's the problem? The recording contract is not in the Southern Gospel he would prefer to sing. As he begins recording and performing the music, he encounters increasing hostility towards Christians. Can he stay true to his faith, or will he end up compromising his beliefs little by little the more famous he becomes? When his world comes crashing down, will he have anything left to help him stand as the end times approach?

Cliff Ball lives in Texas, born in Arizona, is a Christian and is Baptist. Has two BA's, and a Certificate in Technical Communications from the University of North Texas. Has published ten novels and four short stories in multiple genres, but is currently writing a Christian fiction series called "The End Times Saga." Cliff's first taste of being published was when he won third in high school for a short story written in Creative Writing class for a young adult magazine.

Follow Cliff Ball

Enter to Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Enter below to enter a $50 Amazon gift card, sponsored by author Cliff Ball! a Rafflecopter giveaway This book blast is hosted by CrossReads. We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

Monday, February 10, 2014

My Heart Beats for You by Paula Lynn McGrew

"My Heart Beats for You is a heart-stirring picture of God's love for us. With tender dialogue and endearing imagery, Paula McGrew beautifully portrays how God delights in us, knows us personally, and wants us! For anyone who has a hard time picturing a father's love, this is the book to read. I felt like it was written especially for me. You will too!"
Mary Hanks

Please welcome Paula McGrew, author of My Heart Beats for You.

My Heart Beats for You is an intriguing title. How did you come up with it?

When I was first learning about God as a child, my Sunday school teacher taught my class a lesson about how we are the very breath of God, and how He breathed air into our lungs to give us life.  She emphasized that we have a wonderful heavenly Father who made us in His image, He’s planned an abundant life for us, we are His treasures, and He loves us with every beat of His heart.  The poetic beauty of those words resonated with me, and I used it for the title of my book.

What inspired you to write this book?

From the time they were little, I wanted my boys, Graham and Soren, to know they couldn’t do anything of their own accord to make God love them; He already did, always has and would never stop, no matter what, and that’s why I originally wrote the book.  
My sons knew my husband and I love them, and that their friends and other family members love them, and writing this book was one way I used to teach them about God’s love too.
Originally, I wrote this as an individual love letter from God for my boys and used their baby and childhood pictures to put together an electronic scrapbook for each of them.   From there, the book evolved into what is now My Heart Beats For You.

Who do you see this book being an encouragement to?

I see this book being an encouragement to everyone, but especially to people who have felt unloved or don’t feel like they’re anyone special.  I also think this book could be encouraging to someone who might think no one cares about them, or even to people who don’t believe in God or know Him in a personal way.  I want this book to be a reminder that there is a place for everyone in God’s family – the lonely, the downhearted, the seeking, the orphan.  We need to feel loved in order to give love in return to someone else.  I think My Heart Beats For You is also a great tool to use when talking to our children about why God created them and how much He wants to have a relationship with them and be their Friend.

Telling someone God loves them is like offering a lifeline of hope to another one of His children.  It is my prayer that God will reveal Himself to others through my writing, and that those who read this book will open their heart to Him and accept Jesus as their Savior.  

In one or two sentences, please tell us the theme of My Heart Beats for You.

God’s love for us is unimaginable, without limits, without end.  When I delved into the Scriptures while writing this book, I felt as if I was hearing God’s heart, like He was sitting beside me, assuring me of His love and that I was uniquely made by His own hands in order to have a relationship with Him.  That’s what this book is about, and the message I want to share with the world.  

As a mom, how does this book affect you?

Every time I think about how much I love my boys, I get tears in my eyes, and the depth of my love for them is not even a drop in the bucket compared to how much God loves me, loves them, love us.  His love far surpasses the love I feel for my own children.  I wept as I wrote this book and literally felt Him speaking to my heart, His voice gentle, kind, and full of love, assuring me I was created for a purpose, and that He wanted – even craved and longed for – my companionship.

Visit Paula's website to find out more about My Heart Beats for You.

Check out My Heart Beats for You on

Check out the book trailer for My Heart Beats for You:

Thanks for sharing your heart with us, Paula!!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Poodles at Play by Paula McGrew

Welcome, Paula McGrew, author of Poodles at Play!!
Readers, you've got to see this darling book!!

Paula, please tell us about your writing journey.

I fell in love with books from the minute I learned to put letters and sentences and paragraphs together, and I enjoyed reading Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Trixie Belden, and Black Stallion books. I wanted to write stories just like them. I read those books over and over until they came apart or the covers fell off. Many of my paperbacks were held together with packing tape! Whenever I ran out of something to read, I would grab my parents’ set of encyclopedias and go through them, one by one. 

The first book I wrote was for an assignment in sixth grade. Our teacher asked us to put together a book about our favorite subject. At that time, my favorite subject was horses, so I wrote about several different breeds and included handmade sketches of them, stapled the pages together and added a cloth cover. I received an A, by the way! 

In high school, my favorite subject was English, and my friends and I wrote poetry about boys, school, friends, our hopes and dreams for the future, and our relationship with God. One year, I typed a few of my poems onto parchment paper and assembled them into books which I gave to my parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents for Christmas.  

I didn’t take my own writing seriously, though, until I was in my 20’s and joined a local writer’s group and began publishing poetry, magazine articles, and children’s puzzles for Sunday school curriculum. Since then, I’ve continued journaling, writing book reviews, articles for my church newsletter, and stories for my two boys.

What is the inspiration behind Poodles at Play?

The idea for Poodles at Play came to me one day when I was at a dog show with my husband, and we saw how many different breeds and sizes of poodles there were. I thought to myself, “There are oodles and oodles of Poodles everywhere!” and that’s when I got the idea to make up a story about them to tell my sons. I started jotting down ideas, and the rhymes simply started flowing. I read Poodles at Play for the children in my youngest son’s second grade class, and when I saw how much they enjoyed it, I decided to take the indie author route and use CreateSpace as my publisher.

Does rhyming come easy to you? Do you have any funny stories about trying to find the perfect rhyming word?

Rhyming is easy for me, and I’m thinking up silly little rhymes all the time. That’s something I do to keep myself entertained. When my boys, Graham and Soren, were young, I’d make something rhyme to encourage them to do their chores, take a bath, brush their teeth, or make their beds. I’d say things like, “It’s time to brush your teeth, Keith!” or “It’s time to make your bed, Fred!” or “It’s time to set the table, Mabel!” I found that if they giggled about something, then they were more willing to do what I asked them to do. They liked the rhymes and thought they were fun.

Krystine Kercher's poodles are absolutely darling. Which scene is your favorite?

I like two scenes, in particular. The first one is when the poodles are being shampooed and brushed and combed and fluffed. I think including the soap bubbles in the illustration was brilliant! My second favorite scene is when the poodles are playing the sandbox and there’s sand flying all over the place. Krystine did an absolutely fantastic job on the illustrations, and I’m glad I met her. This book wouldn’t be what it is without her artistic talent. She gave me quite a few suggestions to make the book better than it was originally, and I’m pleased with the end result.

Can you tell us a little bit about life on your farm? Any poodles?

We live on ten acres in the country outside of Duluth, Minnesota. We plant a vegetable garden every year and have landscaped our property with flowers, fruit trees, berry bushes and herbs.  We want to live as sustainably as possible, so we raise our own laying hens and meat chickens, and my husband, Kevin, keeps one or two beehives during the summer. We have four Pygmy goats that are helping us keep the brush and weeds down, and we’ve cleared a few acres for horse pasture, but there’s more work to do before the horses arrive. Someday we’d also like to add a cow or two. 

No, we don’t have any poodles, but we do have a hunting dog named Pesto, and she is a delight! She is an orange roan Italian Spinone (rhymes with spumoni - !!), and Kevin takes her to North Dakota every year to hunt pheasants.

How does releasing your first book feel?

Scary is the first word that comes to mind!  Excited is a close second, though. I’m an introvert by nature and publishing my first book has taken me far outside my comfort zone into territory I hadn’t considered entering. Marketing and promoting myself and my work and creating a social media presence are new to me, and I have a lot to learn, so sometimes I also feel overwhelmed. I also spent a considerable amount of time – years, in fact – trying to find an illustrator, and holding Poodles at Play in my own hands somehow seems unbelievable as well as very rewarding. I look at the glossy, colorful front and back covers, open the pages, see the poodles and think, “I can hardly believe it. This book is really mine!” I won’t sleep with it under my pillow, but I have hugged it a few times!

To find Poodles at Play on Amazon, click HERE.

Explore Paula's beautiful website:

Congratulations, Paula, on releasing your first book!!!