Category Archives: author

Top Love Inspired Authors/Books of 2014

 

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This was difficult, as it includes…

Love Inspired
Love Inspired Classics
Love Inspired Suspense
Love Inspired Historical

There are surely others, but I’ll stop with these. Love Inspired includes Amish novels — there isn’t a unique category for it.

Here’s my list of the TOP 10 LOVE INSPIRED AUTHORS:

Emma Miller   Irene Hannon   Patricia Davids   Rebecca Kertz

Rachelle McCalla   Marta Perry    Lenora Worth   Lyn Cote

Loree Lough   Ruth Logan Herne

 

Emma Miller is the author of the Hannah’s Daughters series:

#1 – Courting Ruth
#2 – Miriam’s Heart
#3 – Anna’s Gift
#4 – Leah’s Choice
#5 – Redeeming Grace
#6 – Johanna’s Bridegroom
#7 – Rebecca’s Christmas Gift
#8 – Hannah’s Courtship

 

My favorite Love Inspired books (including Amish & Suspense):

1. Noah’s Sweetheart by Rebecca Kertz

2. Jedidiah’s Bride by Rebecca Kertz

3. The Lawman’s Holiday Wish by Ruth Logan Herne

4. The Firefighter’s New Family by Gail Gaymer Martin

5. Defending the Duchess by Rachelle McCalla

6. Royal Wedding Threat by Rachelle McCalla

7. In Pursuit of a Princess by Lenora Worth

8. The Soldier’s Mission by Lenora Worth

9. A Certain Hope by Lenora Worth

10. A Certain Love by Lenora Worth

 

…and my favorite Love Inspired Amish Suspense books:

1. Plain Admirer by Patricia Davids

2. Plain Pursuit by Alison Stone

3. Plain Secrets by Kit Wilkinson

4. Hidden in Plain View by Diane Burke

5. Danger in Amish Country by Marta Perry, Diane Burke, & Kit Williamson

God bless you!

 

© Donna J. Mynatt 2015

Top 10 Quilts of Love Books/Authors of 2014

 

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For this series, I am listing the author — and book — for my top ten favorites!

Note: I am reviewing Masterpiece Marriage by Gina Welborn next week… and A Stitch in Crime by Cathy Elliot soon, so I wanted to mention them, but I don’t yet know if they’ll be favorites.

So… without further adieu

Here’s my personal list of the TOP 10 QUILTS OF LOVE BOOKS/AUTHORS for 2014:

1. The Christmas Quilt – Vannetta Chapman

2. Scraps of Evidence – Barbara Cameron

3. Quilted by Christmas – Jodie Baker

4. A Promise in Pieces – Emily T. Wierenga

5. Aloha Rose – Lisa Carter

6. A Grand Design – Amber Stockton

7. Tempest’s Course – Lynette Sowell

8.  Path of Freedom – Jennifer Hudson Taylor

9. Rival Hearts – Tara Randel

10. Swept Away – Laura V. Hilton, Cindy Loven

 

…and I’m listing several that I enjoyed, but never considered a favorite – because I had not yet fallen in love with the World War II era… now that I have, I plan to re-read these:

1. A Wild Goose Chase Christmas – Jennifer AlLee

2. Maybelle in Stitches – Joyce Magnin

3. Pieces of Her Heart – Bonnie S. Calhoun

Please check back tomorrow… for my list of favorite inspirational authors!

God bless you!

 

© Donna J. Mynatt 2015

Top Inspirational Authors of 2014

 

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This list includes several authors who are pretty much on every favorite inspirational author list… their books have been a lifeline at times!

So… without further adieu

Here’s my personal list of the TOP INSPIRATIONAL AUTHORS for 2014:

Jan Karon   Philip Gulley   Barbara Cameron   Vannetta Chapman

Robin Jones Gunn   Rachel Hauck   Hannah Alexander

Angela D. Meyer   Holly Michael   Grace Livingston Hill

 

Please check back tomorrow… for my list of favorite Quilts of Love authors!

God bless you!

 

© Donna J. Mynatt 2015

Top Historical Authors of 2014

 

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This was more difficult a list to complete than I could have imagined… after all, I refer to Amish fiction as my #1 favorite genre… but apparently I have lots of favorite authors who write historical fiction — and I refuse to part with their books!

So… without further adieu

Here’s my personal list of the TOP 12 HISTORICAL AUTHORS for 2014:

Janette Oke   Melanie Dickerson   Mary Ellis   Sarah Loudin Thomas

Rachel Muller   Sarah Sundin   Tracie Peterson   Colleen Coble

Cara Putman   Mary Conneally   Martha Rogers   Loree Lough

 

Please check back tomorrow… for my list of favorite inspirational authors!

God bless you!

 

© Donna J. Mynatt 2015

Rachel Muller – Author Spotlight

Thank you for joining me for this very touching Author Spotlight!

First, a bit about Rachel.

(Fair warning – you may want to grab the tissues)

Rachel Muller_Headshot

 

My Testimony…

Growing up in a home where Christ stood in the center of our family didn’t protect me from the world I was about to step into as I entered my teenage years. Even among fellow believers I was still vulnerable to the back biting schemes of young school girls. I fell into that pit of comparing myself with others, not feeling pretty enough or good enough for anything. I quickly sank into depression and silently suffered with an eating disorder. It was my way of dealing with the pain. After all, doesn’t the world tell people today, “No pain, no gain?” It was all a lie.

My life was sinking fast and my hope was not in Jesus to pull me out. Sure, I’d grown up in a Christian home, and I knew who Jesus was, but I wasn’t fully living for Him. So life went on and I still stayed put in my own little world of wasting. I abused over-the-counter drugs to make my body thinner, I deprived my body of nutrients, went on eating binges, even tried vomiting what I did eat. To add to my troubles, I fell into the wrong crowd and found myself in one dangerous situation after another.

Then one day, God reached down and touched my heart through one small act of humility. It was then as I watched a cowboy kneel before God and breathe his prayer of thanks to Him for his safety and victorious bull ride, that I realized all that I was striving for in life was in vain. My self-righteous suffering was not justifying my actions, my issues, or my problems. I wasn’t looking to God for the answers I so desperately wanted to find. Instead, I was taking matters into my own hands and slipping down a dangerous incline that would have potentially led to my demise.

From that day forward, as I drove down the road in prayer with silent tears running down my face, I promised to place my life in God’s hands and let Him lead and guide me from then on. Within six months, I met the man who was to be my future husband, got married another 6 six months later, and welcomed our first child into our arms 13 months after that.

Through journaling my life’s accounts, it was revealed to me that I had a future in writing. I enjoyed reliving my worst moments, seeing how God changed the course of my life forever and saved me from a path of destruction.

My Writing Journey…

By March of 2012, I took the advice of Author Cara Putman and joined American Christian Fiction Writers – I’ve never regretted making that decision. The amazing outpouring of prayers, unsparing acts of kindness, open communication, and authors willing to lend an ear with care and concern for my career as a writer was humbling. I had entered a brand new family whose arms were spread open and welcoming.

October, 2012, rolled in with new milestones. I had published my first blog account and completed my first novel. By this time, I had taken careful consideration to get to know fellow authors within my region and those whom I looked up to with wonder and admiration. Their urging me to put my work out there for the world to see gave me hope and courage to finally enter my first contest.

In November, 2012, my book had advanced to 2nd round judging in Harlequin/Mills and Boon’s So You Think You Can Write Contest. It was an honor to be named in the top 4% of the contest entries, and a positive experience I will not soon forget.

Finally, God called my work to publication. It took 3 years for my rough draft to become a polished novel, but all the hard work was worth it. Now readers will be able to read about those fictional characters who have become almost as close as family to me. It is my life’s goal that these readers will find hope and encouragement through life-like stories of angst, hurt, and healing.

Matthew 5:16 ~ “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in heaven.”

My Writing Nook

I don’t work in an elaborate office with sun spilling through ceiling-to-floor glass windows. I don’t have a personal secretary at my every beck and call–in fact I have 4 very active children who think I’m here for their every beck and call <insert smiley face here>.

I do, however, have an office–my own personal writing space set up the comfort of my home. When feeling cooped up in the house too long, the outdoors become my office and a source of inspiration.

Most days I write beneath the belly of a B-29 Super Fortress model (Yes, I built that with my own hands). Sitting beside me, looking over my shoulder, is “The Captain”–my styrofoam mannequin who sports my authentic WWII pilot’s cap. I don’t decide on a nail-biting scene without consulting him first. Just beyond my computer screen, the models for my characters stare back at me as I write. They seem just as eager to know what will happen to them as much as I.

Last but not least, my inspiration wouldn’t be as active as it is without the photos of my two late grandfathers. Their childhood era built the foundation on which my writings are created. Every day, as I enter my office, their smiling faces greet me, reminding me of a time and place I can  visit only through their memory.

 

Rachel’s debut novel, Letters from Grace, released September 2014, and quickly became an Amazon Top 100 Best Seller.

Readers can learn more about Rachel at http://www.racheldmuller.com or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Pinterest and Goodreads.

 

Rachel Muller’s personal story is as inspirational as her writing.Tweet this!

If you haven’t read Letters From Grace, you’re missing out on a great story.Tweet this!

Who else do you know who writes with a B-29 Superfortress hanging over her head?Tweet this!

 
 
 

And here is my interview with Rachel:

Have you always wanted to write? Do you use an outline for your stories?

Although I wrote many, many stories during my childhood, it was for fun. I never once considered making a career out of writing. In fact, writing books never crossed my mind.

As for outlining, I’m mostly a pantser with a beginning and end in mind from the start. Everything else just fills in as I go and I always keep paper and pencil beside my computer at all time. I tend to fill out my outline as I’m writing the story. This makes it incredibly easy to keep track of all those “important” facts and notes I write into the story line.

 

How does it feel being a published author? Have you encountered any surprises along the way to being published?

Wow, how does it feel? Well, at first, it was certainly a dream come true. I would say the warmest sensation I had during the whole publishing trek was typing my name into Amazon and seeing my book cover pop up for the first time. I just stared at the computer screen in awe!

However, eventually the newness wore off and I was busy getting book 2 underway. Book 2, Maggie’s Mission, was just released and I’m feeling all those same sentiments over again.

The surprises I’ve encountered have been truly “surprises.” I was contacted by a long-time author who read Letters from Grace and LOVED it! She contacted me right away and hosted my book as her featured novel on all her websites and blogs. In addition to that, I’ve been contacted by the 700 Club after sending them a complimentary copy of the novel and was told by a reader that she heard about my book by a TV program. Certainly news to my ears!

 

Do you have a folder or a file where you keep future ideas for stories or do you just come up with ideas after a suggestion from your editor/agent/friends?

I do keep an idea journal where all the premises for my novels are kept safely. In fact, I am concocting a plot for a 4 book series after the Love & War Series comes to an end.

 

How do you find time for everything… writing, family, church, friends… and you’ve recently taken on home-schooling, too!

The only possible answer for that is through the grace of God and a very understanding and supportive husband! LOL. I do have to get up earlier every morning to make sure I answer emails, do a little marketing, and check my sales reports. My blog has suffered a little, but my faithful readers are amazing as they keep checking back for new posts. (Thank you for that!)

Everything else I take one moment at a time. Friday and Saturday nights are family nights. No Writing!

Now that the second book has been released, it’s back to the crazy circus of blog tours, marketing, and everything else that makes a household run smoothly.

 

Have you attended any writer retreats, conferences and the like? Do you think they are necessary for your writing?

To this date, I have not attended any writer’s conferences. However, in our local ACFW group, we do make a point to meet twice a year for a writer’s lunch. We have discussed many essentials for the writing career which includes marketing tactics, publishing news, writing techniques, and overall Christian fellowship that emanates an aura of support.

As for conferences and retreats being necessary, that all depends on the writer. There are many advantages to attending these events. Many workshops are offered by established and seasoned authors. In fact, at this past ACFW conference, my friend and author, Ronie Kendig, held an amazing class on Mind Magic. I am looking forward to taking that class at an upcoming writer’s retreat we have planned for next year.

 

How often do you travel? Where do you go? Who do you travel with? What is your favorite vacation spot?

Traveling is something not easily done with a family of 6. But we try to get a good vacation in every other year or so. One of our favorite vacationing spots is the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Gatlinburg, Tennessee and its surrounding areas have become our second home. So much so that I become homesick after leaving those beautiful mountains.

 

What are you working on now? Is there another genre you are interested in writing or are you perfectly content to stick with historical fiction?

Book 2 in the Love & War Series has just wrapped up. Maggie Johnson’s exciting story of front line battle nursing and lost romance has kept me pretty busy. It’s been an adventure to sit down and write out the rest of her story and continue with the Love & War Series. My readers seem pretty excited too.

While I’ve often toyed with the idea of writing outside my genre for more recognition as an Independent Author, I still come back to the same conclusion that I love writing WWII Historical Romance. Agents who have been in contact with me even notice the flavor of my writing for that era is my strong point. I’m praying for a nation-wide movement into WWII Fictional reads that will help launch my career in the next year.

Thanks so much for featuring me on Author Spotlight, Donna. This has been a wonderful interview and I enjoyed answering your fantastic questions! God bless!

Thank You Rachel and God bless you!

 

And THANK YOU for joining me for this very special AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT!

Don’t forget to check back or follow my blog to see new reviews — this month I have three other special debut authors… and February will be dedicated to another of my favorite authors!

 

More TWEETABLES:

Have you read Rachel Muller’s Love & War series yet?Tweet this!

Don’t miss book 2 in Rachel’s Love & War series – Maggie’s Mission!Tweet this!

 

Today is the final day to enter Rachel’s GIVEAWAY contest!

As a bonus giveaway, in addition to the giveaway by the author, after reading this post, the first person to leave a comment requesting a digital copy of Maggie’s Mission will be sent a gift copy by this blogger!

Rachel Muller Marathon | Giveaway!

 

God bless you!

 

© Donna J. Mynatt 2015

Top 10 Authors of 2014

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This was a very difficult list to create… first, I began gathering the names of all my favorite authors. After re-checking my bookcases and bookshelf blog, I found that I had well over 100 names! Now, this might not sound like a lot to some of you, but I was astounded that I had that many favorite authors – those whom I refuse to part with their books!

I began paring down… whew, that was rough! What I really wanted to do was to name them all — but that seemed to defeat the purpose of listing the TOP chosen few.

I tried — I really did — but I finally had to list my favorite authors by genre — and I still didn’t get everyone on the list that I hoped to!

So… without further adieu

Here’s my personal list of the TOP TEN 15 AMISH AUTHORS for 2014:

   Jennifer Beckstrand    Amy Clipston    Vannetta Chapman    Ruth Reid    

   Emma Miller    Barbara Cameron    Suzanne Woods Fisher    BJ Hoff

   Mary Ellis    Cindy Woodsmall    Laura V. Hilton    Wanda Brunstetter    

   Charlotte Hubbard (also as Naomi King)    Beth Wiseman    Jerry Eicher    

 

… and I have to mention two new Amish authors who are wonderful:

    Elizabeth Byler Younts      Rachel L. Miller

 

 

Please check back tomorrow… for my list of favorite historical authors!

God bless you!

 

© Donna J. Mynatt 2015

All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes | Betsy St. Amant

Today I’m reviewing All’s Fair in Love and Cupcakes, by Betsy St. Amant.

Here is a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

Kat inspected rows of the same old cupcakes. They seemed to blink back at her, as if they knew she was capable of so much more.

Kat Varland has had enough of chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry.

At twenty-six years old, Kat is still living in the shadows of her family in Bayou Bend, Louisiana. Still working shifts at her Aunt Maggie s bakery. Still wondering what to do with her passion for baking and her business degree. And still single.

But when Lucas Brannen, Kat s best friend, signs her up for a reality TV bake-off on Cupcake Combat, everything Kat ever wanted is suddenly dangled in front of her: creative license as a baker, recognition as a visionary . . . and a job at a famous bakery in New York.

As the competition heats up, Lucas realizes he might have made a huge mistake. As much as he wants the best for Kat, the only thing he wants for himself is suddenly in danger of slipping away.

The bright lights of reality cooking wars and the chance at a successful career dazzle Kats’ senses and Lucas is faced with a difficult choice: help his friend achieve her dreams . . . or sabotage her chances to keep her in Louisiana.”

MY THOUGHTS:

All’s Fair In Love And Cupcakes was a fun book to read!

For the past few years, I have been following a series where the main character owns a cookie shop; however, I finally tired of the same old drama – with lots of relationships, but no closure.

And I’m not talking about three or four sequels… I’m talking about many, many sequels – almost twenty!

I’d rush out to buy every book – or pre-order them so I could read them right away – hoping that this book would be the one in which our heroine would tell the loser boyfriend to “take a hike” and commit to the “almost perfect” boyfriend.

But it never happened – ever.

And to be honest, there were too many mistakes in the stories… the author didn’t pay attention to details, such as the car the main character drove, or her friends, her goals or even her future.

And she never – ever – learned from her mistakes. In every book, she’s made several mistakes, almost getting herself killed. Next book… more mistakes. Again and again.

So you can just imagine how ticked I was to find a funny, romantic story about someone who bakes! And I’m looking forward to reading a delightful, new tale of baking and romance.

Kat is stuck baking plain old vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry cupcakes. No German chocolate. No dark chocolate. No lemon. She certainly finds a little variety in her life when her best friend Lucas signs her up for a baking competition.

This is the first book I’ve read by Betsy… and I can’t wait to read more by this wonderful author!

You can read more reviews and more about the book on Goodreads HERE

You can find more about BetsyHERE

God bless you!

 

© Donna J. Mynatt 2014

Dandelion Moon | Hannah Alexander


Today I’m reviewing Dandelion Moon, the second book in the Hallowed Halls Series by Hannah Alexander.

Here is a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

On Christmas Eve, a woman stumbles through a cemetery, not knowing who or where she is…

Myra sat beside Weston, staring up at the December sky. “I remember sitting in this place watching the moon disappear a little more each night, like the head of a dandelion blowing in the wind. That was how I felt about my life.”

“But you know what happens when those dandelion seeds spread,” Weston said. “The wind carries them away to be planted and thrive elsewhere. You may feel as if you’re losing yourself, but your love is planting hope for new life in others.”

On Christmas Eve, Weston Cline frantically searches for the woman he loves, psychiatrist Myra Maxwell. She fled her clinic in the middle of the day, and he’s heard nothing from her since.

When he can’t find her in the city, he decides to search in her hometown, where he’s made enemies in the past and must tread lightly.

Will Weston be able to find Myra and help her recover her memories, or will his past sins prevent him from reaching her?

MY THOUGHTS:

The husband and wife writing team that we know as Hannah Alexander has created some amazing – and ever-changing – characters.

In Hallowed Halls, the first book of the series, we met the main characters of the series — Joy, Myra, Laine, Tressa, Molly, Zack and Weston. In Dandelion Moon, everyone is back, and I was eager to see what’s happening between Joy and Zack, Joy and Weston, Joy and Molly, and what new relationships might occur.

Authentic characters really matter – and Hannah Alexander does a remarkable job creating realistic characters that the reader can – and does – relate to in the books.

Yes! I was more than a little surprised to read that Weston was emotionally – and romantically – involved with Myra, his therapist… and Joy’s best friend!

I was even more surprised when Zack and Weston come to depend on one another for advice and support concerning Myra, Joy and Molly, along with Sarah, one of Myra’s patients.

But my best feeling… how quickly I became involved in book one… and again in book two; it feels great to enjoy the interesting characters and the anything-but-dull story with such depth that I can’t wait to read the next one in the series!

And if you’re looking for a great Christmas read… pick up a copy of Dandelion Moon, a sweet inspirational novel just in time for Christmas!

You can read more reviews and more about the book on Goodreads HERE

You can find more about Hannah AlexanderHERE

I received this book free from the author.

God bless you!

 

© Donna J. Mynatt 2014

If you’ve ever wondered what a “street team” is…

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Nearly a year ago my daughter contacted Jennifer about a street team.

She had begun writing book reviewing and wondered why none of the companies she reviewed for offered Jennifer’s books.

It turned out that Jennifer did not have a street team at that point in time but she had been thinking of starting one up.

It did not surprise any of us when a couple of months later she started one — and offered my daughter a place on it — which she happily snatched up and begun reviewing the books we already had of Jennifer’s in preparation for her next release.

So, you may be asking, what is a “street team”?

We are Jennifer’s “on the street” advertising team. A big part of our duty consists of reading her latest books and writing reviews but there are other very important parts to it as well.

We are responsible for promoting Jennifer’s books in our everyday life as well as any posts written for the purpose of encouragement, support or promotion. We send requests out to our friends to “like” Jennifer’s author page on facebook… and we let our friends know when Jennifer’s books are available — and on sale.

Jennifer sends us promotional materials, which we happily pass out to friends, co-workers, bookstores, libraries and people we meet while shopping for books.

The funny part is, my daughter and I talked up Jennifer’s books long before we ever began reviewing or promoting for her. We love her books so it’s no hardship to talk about how awesome they really are!

This is a volunteer position; of course occasionally we get bonus sneak peeks into her stories and sometimes… an early look at what’s coming up for one of our favorite authors! If you love Jennifer’s books as much as we do, watch her website for news about her street team.

Most authors ask their street teams for a one-year commitment. If you have a favorite author, watch for news from them that they’re looking for new members for their street team.

God bless you!

 

© Donna J. Mynatt 2014

Hallowed Halls | Hannah Alexander

Trust me… you do NOT want to miss out on this!

Hallowed Halls is the first book in the Hallowed Halls series by Hannah Alexander.

Here is a brief synopsis from Goodreads:

When Dr. Joy Gilbert is fired from a lucrative position she hates in the city, she returns to her small hometown to find her former fiance single, her once vivacious mother struggling financially and physically, and Tressa, the 15-year-old daughter of the boss who just fired her, popping out of the back door of her car.

Tressa refuses to return to the city, where her divorced parents struggle emotionally over the death of their son. When Dr. Zack Tyler sees Joy walk into the ER with the daughter of the man who lured Joy away from him, he’s hesitant, though he’s overjoyed to see her again.

Out of compassion, he hires her in the ER so she can support herself and her mother, and their relationship blooms.

Meanwhile, Tressa has blackouts that grow increasingly bad. Joy and Zack rediscover their love for one another as they discover what caused the break-up.

Together they work to save Tressa and uncover a rare genetic defect, a mystery that has ravaged decades of Tressa’s family line.

MY THOUGHTS:

Oh my! I am more than impressed… I am blown away!

I began this book last night and I found myself picking it up again and again today to read… finally, I settled down and warned my family to not disturb me until I was finished.

Hannah created the most intriguing characters for her novel; Molly is my favorite – possibly because I’m also struggling financially and physically, but those things don’t really matter. Weston is the character you love to hate; yet even he does a lot of changing over the course of the story.

Wow – I was expecting a story about pain medication misuse, which is there, but I was thrilled that the story expands, including all the families involved with the main characters. By the time I finished the story, I would not have been surprised to see one of the characters walk past me (and yes, I would have recognized them).

I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait to read more by Hannah Alexander (yeah, I know that’s a pen name, but I don’t care).

I applaud the author(s) for writing a novel with such controversy, and hints of violence, without betraying Christian principles. It was a joy to read!

What a blessing!

You can read more reviews and more about the book on Goodreads HERE

You can find more about Hannah Alexander on her website… HERE

I received a copy of this book from the author; believe me, it was a blessing to read and review it!

 

God bless you!

© Donna J. Mynatt 2014

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