ASLEEP cover Reveal!

by: Krystal Wade

Today is the cover reveal for Asleep by Krystal Wade, a YA horror that will have you on the edge of your seat with every page turn. This is the debut novel from Blaze Publishing, set to be released February 16, 2016. Pre-orders are available now from Amazon. Mark your calendars, and be sure to add the book to your Goodreads list! Come join us at the Cover Reveal Party on Facebook ( Or do it all!


“To cure fear, you must use fear.”

Rose Briar claims no responsibility for the act that led to her imprisonment in an asylum. She wants to escape, until terrifying nightmares make her question her sanity and reach out to her doctor. He’s understanding and caring in ways her parents never have been, but as her walls tumble down and Rose admits fault, a fellow patient warns her to stop the medications. Phillip believes the doctor is evil and they’ll never make it out of the facility alive. Trusting him might be just the thing to save her. Or it might prove the asylum is exactly where she needs to be.
Pre-Order ASLEEP today



Isn’t that an awesome cover!! Tell me your thought in the comments below! So excited to read this novel!

Welcome Fall


What have I been up to…

Well, it’s been a while since I checked in, sorry about that. Not too much to report, although I have been busy. My kids are all back to school, I’ve been working odd jobs (babysitting, housecleaning, helping behind the scenes at photoshoots) here and there, and editing/writing like crazy!

Icemetery2 spent most of the summer working on an adult paranormal horror novel RESTORATION—an adaptation for my co-conspirator, Laurel. I’m ecstatic to say that the first draft is COMPLETE! Now for the super fun part: EDITING! I love the editing process. Taking something that’s good, polishing, and re-polishing until it’s GREAT! Laurel and I are talking about self-publishing–we created an AWESOME publishing house name…stay tuned! We just hired an editor, and when she is done, we’ll be putting together a Beta Reader list. If you are interested, comment below and we’ll chat! :)

Along with wcemetery1riting the paranormal horror, I’ve been wandering around cemeteries with Laurel (she owns her own cemetery restoration business). I got to participate in my first headstone cleaning/Restoration! So much fun! The main character of RESTORATION owns his own Restoration business—having hands on experience was priceless for the writing process!


In other news, I’m still sending out queries for my YA urban fantasy. This week I was introduced to a new publishing house…praying I have some GREAT news to share soon!!! We shall see, but I know that if this doesn’t pan out, there is something better in store… Professional Waiting… :)

Hope your October if beautiful! I’ll try to check in again soon!

An Uncertain Choice

It’s time for another YAA! Chat (Review:YA = Young Adult, A = Adult, ! = Excitement, Chat = Interviews, getting behind-the-scenes with other writers) and GIVEAWAY! **TO WIN YOUR OWN COPY OF AN UNCERTAIN CHOICE, COMMENT BELOW and answer this: What is your idea of the “perfect” date?

JODY AP⇐ This is Jody Hedlund: a best-selling and award-winning author who loves fairy- tales and happily-ever-afters. She makes her home in Midland, MI with her husband and five children. When she’s not writing another of her page-turning stories, you caJody h1n usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.

And, this is her first YA novel, AN UNCERTAIN CHOICE⇒

Don’t you just LOVE this cover? So pretty! It’s what drew my attention, and then I flipped it over . . .

One Month . . . One Decision . . .

WHAT??? Why did Lady Rosemarie only have one month? And what decision did she have to make? Finding the answers to those questions quickly sent AN UNCERTAIN CHOICE to my TBR pile! Well, it was there, but now it’s off. What a delightfully-fun, fast-paced read with a whole lot of heart . . . and the cream-of-the-Knight-crop to swoon over! Jody does a wonderful (and “clean”) job portraying a teenager struggling to find this “crazy little thing called love.”

While I’m not going to tell you WHO or WHAT Rosemarie chooses in the end, (you should definitely read it for yourself to answer those) I will be nice and answer the “month & decision” questions.


Lady Rosemarie was all set to join the convent on her 18th birthday. I mean, what choice did she have, her parents made the vow before she was born. But then her father’s oldest friend arrives and tells her of a recently discovered condition to the vow.

“If you find true love and are married before midnight on your eighteenth birthday, you will be released from the vow.” (p.29)

One month to find true love? Was that even possible? And how would she know if she was really in love? If she chose the convent, would she still be able to rule her people as she was now? Would choosing marriage displease God or hinder her service to Him? (Sounds like more than one decision to me!) These questions tumble through Rosemarie’s mind as she considers an option she never expected to have. (And Lord Thomas, the one she thought she’d marry before she knew about the vow, had recently married . . . bummer . . .) But have no fear! The Duke brought along 3 of the noblest, bravest knights for her to consider! So, after prayer and seeking wise counsel, Rosemarie agrees to the “race for true love.”

*cue theme music*

Hosts (and chaperones):

PRO-MARRIAGE: The Noblest Knight, the Duke of Rivenshire

PRO-CONVENT: Abbot Francis Michael

Example & Guidelines as given by TRUDY, Rosemarie’s nursemaid: (Trudy says she knows nothing of true love, but she saw it in Rosemarie’s parents!)

“They were indeed in love, my lady. The thing I remember most about them was that they truly enjoyed spending time together . . . Riding, taking long walks, and reading together in front of the fire . . . Always talking, discussing history or other important matters. And whenever your mother talked, your father listened and respected her opinions . . . They were there for each other during difficult times, too. I’ve seen difficulties rip other families apart. But not them. Somehow they each had inner strength the other lacked. They could provide what the other needed.”

THE CONTESTANTS (who happen to be best friends) In order of introduction:

Knight #1 Collin jody1

Fair-haired, tanned skin, alluring green eyes, animated face, lightheartedness, endearing smile. Fun, energetic, likes to give lavish gifts, and lavish praise

First words to Rosemarie: “My lady, I look forward to winning your heart.

First gift to Rosemarie: exquisite diamond pin—in the shape of a spiraling rose

First Date: Romantic dinner for 2 in the rose garden

Knight #2 Sir Bennetjody3

Tallest of the three, features chiseled to perfection (like a master artist had crafted him after an ancient Greek god). Wavy raven-black hair, dark looks, and midnight eyes that twinkle. He’s confident, artsy, suave

First words to Rosemarie: “I look forward to getting to know you, my lady.”

First gift to Rosemarie: A bouquet of wildflowers

First Date: Arranged an Art fair outside the castle ground

jodyKnight #3 Sir Derrick

Dark, blond hair–tested, tried, and weathered by battles and elements. Smoky eyes, the gray color of burnished steel. Strong, clear voice. Lean but muscular body, strong shoulders. Muscles in his face are as taut and well defined as the rest of his body. The only imperfections on his face was a scar alongside one of his eyes. He’s observant, standoffish, confident, bold, dogs love him. A doer, not a talker–puts the needs of others before his own. Honest. His whole family was murdered, he alone survived. Because of this, he doesn’t think he’s worthy to win her heart. (no lands, no title . . .)

First words to Rosemarie: “For one as fair and kind as you, my lady, whatever you wish shall always be my command.”

First gift to Rosemarie: a cool drink of ale (mug)

First Date: delivering supplies, getting caught in the rain

Well, you can probably tell which knight I paid the most attention to . . . My vote was for Sir Derrick before I even knew anything about him. He reminds me of my husband. Even Lady Rosemarie’s first “sighting” of Derrick, had me thinking back to my first “sighting” of my hubby.

He surprised me by bowing his head and paying homage. Then he lifted the long halberd at his side, dug his spurs into his horse, and charged forward toward the center green. At the heavy thudding of his steed and the sight of his weapon, those in his path fell back to make room for him. He thrust forward like a knight at a jousting tournament.

My muscles tightened. What did he intend to do? I wanted to call out, to question him, to demand he explain his presence in my town. But has he made a direct path to the cauldron of bubbling water, I found myself praying he’d succeed where I failed to bring an end to the torture. (p.11-12)

OK…So, there wasn’t a horse involved in our first “sighting”, but there was a car, some charging toward water, and me wanting to demand and explanation! The first time I really noticed my husband was at a graduation party for a friend. We were all standing around chatting and eating, when all of a sudden, a car comes barreling out of the woods and drives straight into the pond. The driver got out and came to shore while everyone cheered . . . I remember thinking “what an idiot!” But, then I got to know him, and fell in love with his character and heart. We’ve been married 13 years.

My 2 Cents to Children of God: “Marriage isn’t to make you happy, it’s to make you more holy.” Find someone that helps you grow closer to God. Someone that will enhance your “ability” to serve and will serve alongside you. Someone who will push you, bringing out the best in you. And ALWAYS, ALWAYS keep God at the center of every relationship. Don’t lose sight of Him or hinge your life or identity on a guy.


After writing for the adult market, why did you decide to transition to young adult books? I have five children and three of them are now teens. That means that over the past few years I’ve ended up reading a lot of books in the Young Adult genre not only to stay abreast of what my kids are reading, but also to have discussions about the topics and world views within the books. All that to say, I’ve fallen in love with reading YA books! Naturally, as I’ve fallen in love with reading them, I had to consider the possibility of writing them. And while I have a lot of other things going on my publishing career, I decided I wanted to make this move into YA now while I still had teens at home to read my books (and give me feedback!).

Which person most influenced your writing?My mom was the most influential person in my writing career. When I was young, she helped facilitate my love of writing by reading aloud to me, giving me good books to read, and providing the kind of environment that fostered my creativity (in fact we didn’t have a TV for a number of years). She always believed in me, encouraged me to pursue my dreams, and rode alongside me cheering me on.

Why do you write? I write because I love telling stories. I love the quote by Toni Morrison because it sums up part of why I write: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Essentially I write the stories that I LOVE to read! Of course there are other, deeper reasons I write too. But that’s one of the main ones.

Do you have any writing quirks? I don’t have too many quirks, other than needing a cup of coffee on hand while I’m writing (especially in the morning!). One of the things I like to do to help me keep on track with my writing is give myself half hour word count challenges–a specific goal of how many words I can get written in a thirty minute time span. Doing these mini-challenges keeps me from getting too distracted by other things while I’m in a writing mode.

What is your dream vacation spot? I’d love to take a research trip to England or Germany and visit castles. Castles totally fascinate me and I’d love to visit as many as I possibly could!

What are your hobbies? My main hobbies when I’m not writing or reading? Drinking coffee and eating chocolate—of course! No seriously. At this stage in my life because I’m busy being a mom, I don’t have much time for hobbies. However, I do make a point of running and keeping my body fit. And I also try to carve out fun family time each week. I love taking family bike rides, playing games, and having family movie night

Are you working on the next book in the series? Yes! I’m excited about the second book in the series. It’s already written and I’m in the process of getting ready to turn it in to my editor in order to get her expertise feedback. As I mentioned it will involve another one of the three knights. But of course, I won’t give away which of the knights until closer to the release of the book! (How’s that for a tease!)

Contact Jody:

Website: *

*For a deeper look: There’s a link to a readers question/talking point guide–great for YA girls

Facebook: Author Jody Hedlund

Twitter: @JodyHedlund



She welcomes Emails at:

It’s March….

Well, hello there March . . . This is my first post of 2015!

Where did January Go?

And February, well, it can be summed up on a T-shirt: “I Survived the 2nd coldest February. EVER!”

Needless to say, 2015 is flying by.

So, what have I been up to?


  • Still querying agents for BOUND
  • Plugging away, adding “meat”, to 5 YA novels that I have a great start on
  • Attending critique group with 4 other fabulous writers!
  • Working on adapting a script into a novel (talking about self-publishing this summer…shall see…)
  • Was just given the opportunity to speak at a writers conference that is starting up in my area!
    • More on that to come, I hope!
  • Added several authors to my friend’s list.

MY READING WORLD: *I better get moving if I want to say: “I read over a 100 books in 2015.”

  • The Nine Lives of Christmas
    • By: Sheila Roberts
  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (reread)
    • By: Rick Riordan
  • Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters
    • By: Rick Riordan
      • If you see that I’m working my way through the Percy Jackson series you’re not wrong. My boys and I have been enjoying all things Percy Jackson together. Lots of fun to hear their laughter and watch it through their eyes.
  • The Vow: A novella
    • By: Jody Hedlund
    • MY 4-star REVIEWjody h: The Vow is the hors d’oeuvres to the main course: The Uncertain Choice. This novella introduces, and gives us a little of the background, for the heroine, Rosemarie. Her perfect world (parents that love her and each other, a handsome suitor, and a prosperous land) comes crashing down when the plague is discovered in one of the towns. Rosemarie is sent away for safety, but soon returns when her parents contract the disease. As her mother lies dying, she tells Rosemarie of the Vow that was made before she was born. A vow that takes control of the future Rosemarie had planned for herself. This short story definitely wets the appetite for this series. I can’t wait to read how Rosemarie will get out of the vow (or if she even can), and what (or whom) she will chose in the end.

**This brings me to something else I’ve been a part of in 2015. I was chosen to be on the INFLUENCER TEAM for Jody Hedlund’s new YA novel: An Uncertain Choice which releases MARCH 3, 2015!

Jody h1




Due to her parents’ promise at her birth, Lady Rosemarie prepared herself to become a nun the day she turns eighteen. But a month before her birthday, everything changes when a friend of her father’s enters the kingdom and proclaims her parents’ will left a second choice–if Rosemarie can marry before the eve of her eighteenth year, she will be exempt from the ancient vow.

Soon, Rosemarie is presented with the three most handsome and brave knights in the land. But when the competition for her heart seemingly results in a knight playing foul, she begins to wonder if the cloister is the best place after all. If only one of the knights–the one who appears the most guilty–had not already captured her heart.

**INTERESTED? I know I am! And now, I’m off to finish reading–my print copy JUST CAME TODAY!! Stay tuned for a YAA! Chat: Interview with the author and a giveaway!

**Link to buy on Amazon:

My 2014 Writer/Reader Year

2014 was an interesting year. I don’t remember half of it (loooonnggg 7 months story…) But what I do remember, has impacted me greatly, growing me as a person and as a writer.

PERSONAL: In the spring, I went on an impromptu trip (as “keep me awake as I drive” companion) to Michigan with this crazy-amazing woman/mother named, Sarah who I’d kinda just met (she locked me in a hotel room for three days, where I wrote like crazy!!)..and, as they say, the rest is history! I now have a BFF who gets me and has stuck with me on this rollercoaster year! So thankful! Also this year, my SUPER Editor got engaged, and I’m a bridesmaid. Shopping with her for her dress and playing mannequin for my dress, has been so much fun! Looking forward to the wedding in July, 2015.

WRITING: I spent most of this year editing, revising, rewriting, and brainstorming BOUND. I sent out at least 100 queries and several proposals to agents (Status: Professional Waiter). My editor and I worked so hard this year–sweawordst & tears–and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished…now to find the perfect agent who agrees! :)

In September, I finally joined a critique group. There are 5 of us, and it has been such an encouragement to spend time with these ladies. We’re a great mix of writing talent and knowledge–it’s been so helpful! Can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us! We’ll always have SKYLARK!!

In 2013, my boys started going to a new school, and I have to pick them up every day. This put me in the path of Laurel Pardo–a VERY talented author who writes super-awesome TV scripts (Horror/mystery/paranormal—SOOOO out of my genre of quirky, witty YA fiction). Fast forward….Laurel and I are great friends, and recently partners! As I write this post, I’m in the process of adapting her scripts into a full-length novel! Stay tuned to meet Eli Toler–the cemetery Restorer!! So honored to be a part of this project!

I also worked on my other WIP’s…and got a few new plot ideas…So many ideas….:

  • Taken: “sequel” to BOUND–Main characters: Dillon Xanthis and Marisa Hale (YA Urban Fantasy)
  • Endicott: Main Characters: Endicott Keary (Cinderella’s best friend) Della Bentley (my cinderella), Daved Bentley (Cinderella’s Brother), Prince Cyril, Princess Keturah (YA fantasy/steampunk series)
  • Acacia: Main Characters: Acacia Mitchell, Samara Bethany (YA paranormal Series)
  • New Creation: Main Characters: Cayce Thornton, Marco Brooks (YA Christian Fiction)
  • Lines Crossed: Main Characters: Marianne (TBA), Chris (TBA) (Christian Adult)
  • Flip-Flop Kimmi in Tap Shoes: Main Character: Kimmi Joy Harper (Middle Grade Novel)

EXTRA BLESSINGS: In addition to all the ones above… :) Through Facebook, I connected with SO many amazing people/authors who have blessed my life with advice, books (WINNER OF GIVEAWAYS!!!), friendship, and encouragement in my writing journey. This year, I also got to be a part of several editing/promotion projects! I did several book reviews and 2 YAA! CHAT interviews on my blog–hoping to do more in 2015!

I read and reviewed A Christian Writer’s Guide to The BooK Proposal by Dave Fessenden. My review was published!

Stop! Before you even write one word, read this book! Author Dave Fessenden makes the case that the proposal should come first, and that writing it can actually be enjoyable. Dave’s invaluable wisdom saves countless hours of Googling “How to write the killer book proposal.” It gives writers the how-to and examples they need to catch the editor’s eye and nail down the ever-elusive publishing deal.  –Janelle Leonard, novelist, and blogger at The Writing Life: behind the Scenes with an Author of YA fantasy

Through a dear writer friend, I connected with Oliver Dahl–got to read and help with some edit/thoughts for his novel LIES Lies(My name is in the acknowledgements!!) Check out Oliver’s website:

One of my greatest joys, is helping promote and encourage other writers toward their dreams–love seeing them accomplish something that they’ve worked so hard for.

Shout out to: ** Michelle Weidenbenner:

**Olivia Stocum:

READING: I didn’t read as many books as most years, but what I did read this year definitely had an impact on who I am as a person and as a writer. Here is list of my 10 out of 10 coffee cups awards:



Crash Into You & Red at Night & Dare You To Katie McGarry

Skull Creek Stakeout Eddie Jones     

Out of Easy Ruta Sepetys

bookRS    Splintered A.G Howard

Spies and Prejudice Talia Vance   

 On the Fence Kasie West

The Queen of the Tearling Erika Johansen 


This year has been one of the BEST reading years for Adult fiction! I discovered, and fell in love with the:

Brain-tweaker, heat-felt stories: Katherine Reay

BookKRLizzy & Jane

Fellow Jane Austen (& Arrow) fanatic: Mary Jane Hathaway

BookMJ2 BookMJ BookMJ1

Swoon-Worthy, quirky, & fun: Nicole Deese


Also loved this novelization of The YouTube series The Lizzy Bennet Diaries:

The Secret Diary of Lizzy Bennet Bernie Su & Kate Rorick



BookJAHBookKIThe Jane Austen Handbook Margaret Sullivan

A Christian Writers Guide to the Book Proposal Dave Fessenden

How to Adapt Scripts Into Novels Rene Gutteridge & Cherly McKay


Cinder Marissa Meyer, Pride & Prejudice Jane Austen,

Emma Jane Austen,

Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets J.K. Rowling

Last but not least . . .

DISTRACTION: I discovered I-should-be-writing-but-I’m-watching-yet-another-episode TV showsarrrow

Arrow (Absolutely love Felicity and her babbling ways!)

 The Flash

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

Firefly (WHY did it take me soooo long to watch this???)

Witches of East End

YOUTUBE: The Lizzy Bennet Diaries & Emma Approved

Well, that my year in a nutshell review. Thanks for journeying with me on my blog and my writing life! So appreciate ALL of you!! Here’s to 2015 and all the amazing BOOKS waiting to be read (and written).

Interview with Nicole Deese

I’m so excited to be doing my second YAA! Chat (Review:YA = Young Adult, A = Adult, ! = Excitement, Chat = Interviews, getting behind-the-scenes with other writers) and GIVEAWAY! 

Today, I have the absolute pleasure of introducing Nicole Deese and A Cliché Christmas!

⇐  This is NicNicole new headshotole. Author. Texan. Tim’s Wife. Preston & Lincoln’s Mom. When she isn’t writing, she can be found fantasizing about “reading escapes,” which look a lot like kid-free, laundry-free, and cooking-free vacations. cliche

This is her beautifully-wrapped novel

MY REVIEW: A Cliché Christmas

**Warning: finishing this book will give you an insane desire to listen to Christmas music while you bake cookies…then you’ll want to curl up in a fleece blanket and re-watch all of your favorite Holiday movies…and you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face!

True to the title, the Christmas & Hallmark-approved clichés fell more abundant than pine needles on a tree skirt. You’ve got the:

Home for the holidays = Small lumberjack town in the hills of Oregon

Successful, career-focused heroine who hates December (Her nickname is “Holiday Goddess.” She writes made-for-TV holiday scripts, making Christmas her forte—she does it 11 months out of the year. December = BEACH not SNOW!)

Hottie from her past whom she can’t stand, but who is desperately in love with her

  Banter-filled, embarrassing reunion involving a damsel needing tire chains and a snow-covered knight in a leather jacket and knit cap

Matchmaking Grandma and her crazy friends

Epic misunderstandings

A mother pushing her to get out of town and make something of herself

Snow storm that causes the Hero and Heroine to be stranded for hours in his truck (thankfully they have a bucket of cookies to eat, and share with the other motorists!)

A hurting “mean girl” who’s begging for the hero’s attention and still terrorizing the heroine with reminders from the past

Tear-your-heart-out little girl who brings them all together through her battle with cancer

A happy, death-free ending with kisses and hope!

cliche3Even though I could guess what came next, it in no way lessened my delight-filled squeals as I un-wrapped every scene. A Cliché Christmas was extremely well-written, amusing and filled with enough banter and SPARK to decorate (and light) said needless-tree. I HIGHLY recommend this book! So much fun–and wonderful, realistic romance *sigh*. I can’t wait to read it again!

Some “Serious” Writer Questions

JK: I love to hear about people’s writing journey. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background? Road to publication . . . Cliff Note version :)

ND: I wrote my debut novel, All For Anna, while I was down for the count after a surprise surgery in 2012. I honestly didn’t know what would happen with that story–my only goal was simply to finish it. Well, I finished, only that one book turned into a three-book series, The Letting Go series, which I self-published in 2013. I was contacted by a publisher in the spring of 2014 who requested a manuscript—and I just so happened to have one finished and edited—A Cliché Christmas. Originally, I had planned to self-publish A Cliché Christmas, but a tragic event in my immediate family postponed that publication date. I signed with Waterfall Press, an imprint of Amazon Publishing, just two months after I submitted that manuscript. It was published this October and is available online and in Walmart Stores nationwide. My entire publication journey thus far can be summed up with this: cliche2

“There is no such thing as random timing.”

JK: You told me this is your first novel in this genre. What are your other novels about, and what drew you to this genre now?

ND: Well, I write Contemporary Romance, but A Cliché Christmas is more of a Romantic Comedy. It was very refreshing to write something on the lighter side—even though Georgia did have to wade through some emotional turmoil to find the fun in being back home again.

JK: Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

ND: Since my boys (ages 9 and 6) are in school six hours a day, I’m “supposed to” be writing during that time. But unfortunately my brain comes to life around 11 p.m. So that makes the early mornings a bit of a struggle.

JK: Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

ND: Read. Read. Read. I’ve experienced a dry spell in writing several times, and the best cure I’ve found is to pick up a book from an author I love…and READ. Inspiration often follows after a good book.

JK: Did you do anything weird/random while researching this book?

ND: Not really with this book so much. Because I lived in Oregon for the majority of my life, I could easily visualize what the make believe town of Lenox looked and felt like. I did have fun creating my Pinterest board though–Love in Lenox.

JK: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character in A Cliché Christmas?

ND: I’d have to say Jennifer Lawrence. Because, well, I just love her.

JK: Which character in A Cliché Christmas is the most like you?

ND: Georgia. I relate to her a lot actually–her humor and sarcasm are very similar to my everyday world and my daydreaming started at a very young age.

JK: What are you working on at the minute? What’s it about?

ND: I’m working on a series about estranged identical twin sisters—can’t say much about it yet. But yes, there IS romance. Have no fear about that.


Random CHRISTMASNESS questions

Wrapping paper or gift bags? Gift bags for sure! I’m all about the simple.

When do you put up and take down your Christmas tree? Usually after Thanksgiving—except when we travel home to Oregon for Christmas. Then I just kick back and enjoy my parents’ tree and decorations.

What do you put on top of your tree? Um . . . a star I purchased from Dollar Tree a few years back. Suffice it to say, Mama needs to buy a new one.

Favorite gift received as a child? A life size Barbie Doll. For real, the girl was as tall as me and her hair was longer than mine. And straight. (An anomaly for this curly-headed girl.) I loved her!

Worst Christmas gift you ever received? A pair of singing boxer-briefs. With Santa’s face on the behind. (White Elephant Gift Exchange) (HAHAHA!!)

Best gift you’ve ever given? One year my family had the opportunity to help a teenage girl who was about twenty dollars away from becoming homeless. We bought her clothes, food, and had her over for our family’s Christmas Day festivities. It was an amazing experience. And I’ll never forget it.

Favorite Christmas movie? Christmas Vacation and Elf are always big favorites around here–but my own personal Christmas Eve tradition is to wrap gifts (or drop them in gift bags) while watching Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightly version). I LOVE LOVE LOVE that movie!

Favorite Christmas song? O Holy Night–or pretty much any Christmas song Pentatonix performs. (AGREED!)

What do you love most about Christmas? The togetherness–family coming home, friends stopping by. I love to share life with people, and the holidays are usually a perfect time to do just that.

What’s your favorite cliché? Kissing in the snow. Always.



Twitter: @nicoledeese


Amazon Link for A Cliche Christmas:

Book Trailer for A Cliche Christmas:

**Her debut novel, an Inspirational Contemporary Romance, All for Anna, has hit multiple milestones since its release in January 2013, including a 4.7 star rating on Amazon and more than 120,000 downloads on Kindle. She has since completed the Letting Go series and is over-the-moon excited about her new release, A Cliché Christmas, published by Waterfall Press, an Amazon Publishing imprint. A Cliché Christmas is available at Walmart stores nationwide and on


Up for grabs: ONE copy of A Cliché Christmas (winner’s choice of format: e-book or paperback)

How to enter: Leave a comment below with your favorite Christmas memory…& your favorite Cliché


Good luck! THANK YOU for joining me and Nicole!

“The first man who compared woman to a rose was a poet, the second, an imbecile.”

-Gerard de Nerval (French Poet)

Lizzy & Jane

Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” -1 Peter 4:9-10

Katherine Reay mixed together food and some of my favorite bits of Jane Austen to create an amazing, brain-tweaking FEAST!” –Janelle Leonard

Lizzy & JaneTheme

We have a saying for church events: “It’s not about the food, it’s about the fellowship.” This train of thought chugs all the way through Lizzy & Jane—using food as a conduit to reach people, to understand them on a deeper level, and to open doors to addressing their spiritual needs. After all, food is a commonality between people—everyone needs to eat.

My First Reaction

I was ecstatic when I found out Katherine Reay was releasing her second novel—a story that involved two of my favorite things: Jane Austen and FOOD! I wanted to rush out and buy it right away . . . but here’s why I held back: Katherine’s first book Dear Mr. Knightley blew me away, and I wasn’t sure if Lizzy & Jane could compare. I’m always a bit hesitant to rush into an author’s second novel when I’m still thinking about their first.

(Read my review here:

Usually, second novp&p bookels never quite seem up to par. It’s similar to how I feel about Pride and Prejudice. I dearly love everything by Jane Austen, but P&P holds such a special place in my heart because it was the first book I ever read by her. None of her other novels have achieved that standard for me.

Well, I finally got my hands on a copy of Lizzy & Jane and Katherine Reay DID NOT let me down! Lizzy & Jane touched me and tweaked my brain just as much as Dear Mr. Knightley. While Dear Mr. Knightley challenged me to think about my worth and where to find my value: Lizzy & Jane challenged me to think about mercy, grace, REALLY listening, forgiveness, and how I’m using the gifts God has given me. I always joke that giving people food is my spiritual gift, but reading this story confirmed that hospitality and serving really is a special gift.


Lizzy and Jane are estranged, self-centered sisters who haven’t recovered from their mother’s death 13 years ago. Now that Jane has cancer, the sisters are forced to relive their mother’s battle. They’ve become good at running, hiding, and stuffing their true selves behind a mask of having everything together. They’re so used to doing things themselves, that they don’t know what it means to let someone help them.

Elizabeth (who actually hates being called Lizzy) is a NYC chef who has lost her ZING! Her restaurant “Feast,” got its name from her mother’s saying: “The FEAST is ready!” The things Lizzy was most passionate about were connected to her mother. To forget and run away from those memories, unknowingly, she’d built a concrete bunker, thrown in her zing and passion and locked the door.

“If the food is good, there’s no need to talk about the weather.” That was my mantra for years—food as meal and conversation, a total experience. (p.111)

What if, in fact, I really didn’t matter outside my cooking? Each day, I justified my life through purpose. (p. 257)

Her sister, Jane, a wife and a mother of two children, has been diagnosed with cancer. She’s been angry and bitter for so long that she’s pushed everyone away—even her husband, who loves her deeply, spending all his free time gathering information on cancer so he can really be there for Jane.

The story starts with a new chef being called in to help revitalize Feast. Lizzy feels like she’s been pushed out of her chef position, so she decides to leave NY and go to Seattle to stay with Jane for a week—which turns into almost four by the time this story is over. Spending time at chemo sessions with Jane, Lizzy relives her mother’s battle, makes some new friends, and rediscovers Jane Austen, and her first love: food. She also meets Nick, Jane’s coworker, who helps her start to get her “zing” back.

But it’s not until Lizzy stops, forgives, and really listens to those around her, that her passion for cooking—and for life—returns in full force. The sisters’ journey to healing starts with their stomach: Food brings them together, but they realize that it’s not just about the food. They learn to be honest, even about things that have bugged them for the last thirteen years. With everything out on the table, they are finally able to heal.

OH! Banter Love!

While this story is more about two sisters, there is some romance brewing and some great banter.

Nick and Lizzy’s first date (p,124):

I bounced down the stairs and opened the door.

“Wow.” Nick’s face lit up.

I beamed. “Can you do that again?” I shut the door and pulled it right back open.

“Wow.” He laughed.

“Yeah, that still felt good.”

Some Austen Spices

Pride & Prejudice: The obvious thing: their names. Their mother named them after her favorite Austen sisters: Elizabeth and Jane Bennet (Although, in their minds, they were more like Eleanor and Marianne Dashwood). Lots of pride, and living by the thought that “my good opinion once lost is lost forever.” No chance of mercy or forgiveness. No belief that someone could really and truly change their ways. No allowance for mistakes and mess-ups. There is a whole pound of prejudice as well. Lizzy has that NYC attitude, but she’s pleasantly surprised and touched when her assumptions are proved wrong

I’ve been on both sides—afraid of where I am and where I’m going to finally feeling comfortable with the journey.” PREJUDICE about appearance—nurse that seemed rough was protecting, nurse that had the outside—clothes, hair, tattoos—heart sold to God and empathy for her patience because of her personal journey

“Have you through about changing?”

“I have. Life would be easier, but it was that kind of thinking that landed me in rehab in the first place. I’m not staging a coup or protesting the status quo, the government, my sweet folks in Nebraska, or small puppies. I just like it. I love hair so black it turns blue or purple in the light. I love that my arms record the experiences that have formed me. I love that when someone is hurt or aches, my look startles them past their defense mechanisms and they talk to me, listen to me—actually listen to me BECAUSE of this, not despite it.” (Cecilia: p. 199)

Emma: Themes of self-confidence, and an Emma-style journey of being brought from thinking you had everything together, to seeing who you truly are—and ending up stronger than you were at the beginning.

Mansfield Park: Nick portrays “Fanny Price” in this novel–putting others’ needs and preferences before himself. He goes out of his way for everyone, making sure Jane is comfortable, that Lizzy has what she needs, that his son Matt is happy.

“What do you recommend?” The waiter commences to share with them his favorites . . . Lizzy says: “What if you don’t like the other one?”

“Of course I will, and they were his favorites. When someone shares like that with you, you go along.” (P. 125)

Sense & Sensibility: Two sisters, struggling to find common ground, but keeping things from each other because they feel they’re protecting them. And like Eleanor and Marianne, Lizzy and Jane did have a bond, it just needed a little digging, and a large refining fire, to get to the diamond.

Persuasion: The letter. *sigh* Nick writes a letter to Lizzy that is very like the one Captain Wentworth wrote to Anne Elliot “I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach . . . A word, a look, will be enough . . .”

Quotes & Lessons learned

Lizzy: “What if it doesn’t work?”

Cecilia: “It will because it’s a way to meet people’s needs, reach them through food—and not just anyone, but people who are vulnerable. It’s a gift and it’s all there—an unmet need, an untapped market in an affluent town.” (p. 133)

Cecilia: “You looked at Tyler and Jane’s totality. You’re creating more than a meal; you’re creating sustenance and meeting needs that are way beyond nutritional.” (p. 139)

Lizzy: “Dream building. I like that. I’m beginning to think that the best dreams need others to help build them.” (p. 204)

Letter to Lizzy from her mom: “You are a servant and a seeker of hearts, love and truth—a true chef. I’ve seen you mix together the very best that sustains us and offer it up with a piece of your soul on the side.” (p. 309)

Lizzy’s roommate: “Don’t go at everything alone just because that’s what you’ve always done. Dare to imagine something new.” (p. 312)

Closing Brain-tweaked Thoughts

Hospitality = “Love of Strangers.” It’s about providing a safe place to share—place for Jesus Christ to be seen. People are ultimately saved through the gospel message. But hospitably often creates natural opportunities for them to often times, see before they hear.

Am I using the gifts God has given me?

This story gets me curious about why people love the food they do. Is there something in their past that makes their food choices more relevant? Am I paying attention and asking them instead of assuming I know their preferences? And like Lizzy, I now find myself searching the novels I’m reading for food references.

THANK YOU Katherine Reay for sharing this journey and for teaching without preaching!

My heart has been truly BLESSED!