Love’s Choice is Born!

My newest book baby, Love’s Choice, has arrived! 🙂 I shared a cover reveal a few weeks back, and am so excited, anxious, and relieved that the story is out in the world now. It’s always a strange love/hate, thrill/fear relationship that authors have whenever we publish a new book. Will readers like the story? But more than that, will the message we tried to convey through the story be heard?

These are two big questions I have about Love’s Choice because, to put it simply, it’s not an easy story to swallow. It’s very different from my other books, which tend to be lighthearted and fun (it does have funny moments though!). This story deals with the tough issues of abuse and an unplanned pregnancy, and also gossip within the church. Not happy topics people usually want to talk about, right? But I felt strongly that these are things we need to address. And there’s no better way to do hard stuff like this than in a fictional setting. (That’s one thing I love about writing fiction.)

So, I hope and pray you will give Nate and Missy a chance and see what truths you pick up from their story. You can preview it below and buy it for only $1.99! And please support all the other authors of the First Street Church Kindle World. Melissa Storm wrote the core series and there are now 40 books in the Kindle World. Yup, that’s a lot of books, but you can take this nifty online quiz HERE to see which book may interest you more (besides mine, haha). The best part is that all the books are part of Kindle Unlimited, so you can read them for free with your subscription. You can even try Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days (click HERE)!

I’ll leave you with the playlist for Love’s Choice, which includes a High School Musical song I listened to on repeat while I was writing the story. (Yes, I’m such a teeny bopper at heart). 😉

What tough issues do you appreciate authors addressing in their stories?

Whose Life Will You Change For The Better? (The Pay It Forward Giveaway)

As an author, a lot of what I write is based off what I know. There may (or may not be, haha) references to real-life places, events, and products. My characters may (or may not be, don’t ask!) inspired by my family, friends, and even acquaintances I’ve met online. The thing is, I want my fictional stories to be relatable and realistic but always with a thread of hope woven into them. That’s what makes books worth reading, right? They give us the ability to escape for a little while, but also cause us to think about issues and problems and resolutions.

Well, one of my next books releasing in November is set in a fictional town of Sweet Grove, Texas. I’ve been to Texas once in my life, about fifteen years ago (eeks!) before I had kids, to visit a dear college friend. We spent the weekend watching the 6-hour version of Pride and Prejudice, drinking tons of boba tea, and we also swam in the ocean at Galveston Beach (the water was as warm as bath water!). I had a grand ‘ol time in Texas (did I mention this was before kids? haha), so when I was given the opportunity to write a story for the First Street Church Kindle World set in Texas, I went for it.

Fast forward a few months to when I had finished my story, Love’s Choice, and there was news that a major hurricane had hit Texas and its surrounding areas. The images I saw on the news of the disaster were heartbreaking. So many people literally standing knee-deep in filthy water in their own homes. They all needed help, but with us being over 1,000 miles away in California, it was hard to know how to offer support.

Enter Convoy of Hope!

I came across this organization online and was immediately impressed with their efforts and ethical standing, and most of all, their heart for the hurting. Just a quick glance at their website shows how they are in the midst of natural disasters, providing  food and supplies to people, not only to those in the U.S. but abroad as well. In a nutshell, this is what they do (as stated on their site):

As a faith-based, nonprofit organization Convoy of Hope has helped more than 80 million people throughout the world by sharing food, water, emergency supplies, agricultural know-how, and opportunities that empower people to live independent lives, free from poverty, disease and hunger.

Convoy of Hope does this through:

Mobilizing tens of thousands of volunteers each year.

Partnering with churches, businesses, individuals and other humanitarian organizations who are intent on doing good work among the impoverished and suffering.

Transparency — we have received the prestigious Four Star Charity Award from Charity Navigator for 14 years.

Their name says it all, don’t you think? 🙂 They provide help and hope to those who need it the most.

My hubby and I were thrilled to partner with Convoy of Hope and help in the little way that we could to hopefully make some people’s lives a little better in Texas.

I highly encourage you to think about whose life you will change for the better. Perhaps it will be through a partnership with a group like Convoy of Hope, or maybe it will be the kind act you do for your neighbor, family member, or friend. Whatever it is, know that God can use anyone to be a blessing! How will you choose to be a blessing today? Let me know in the comments below!

*This post was done in conjunction with my fellow Sweet Grove Books authors for The Pay It Forward Giveaway. To enter this giveaway for a free Kindle and a gift card, please go to this link: https://www.litring.com/the-pay-it-forward-giveaway/

Thanks for visiting my blog and for supporting the First Street Church Kindle World!

Thoughts about Nutella (+ A Cover Reveal)

So, author confession time. When I started out 2017, I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to join two boxed sets. Both releasing towards the end of the year. I had no idea, however, of the other things that would pile up on my platter this year, too—platter, because I need something bigger than a plate to fit all my responsibilities! 😉 Long story short, I’m helping with the PTA at the munchkins’ school; I’m blogging regularly at three book-related sites in addition to my own; I babysit my niece once a week, so my mom gets some time off—funny how the tables have turned!; I have a family to feed, clothe, drive around, and listen to; and I have books to write, edit, and market. I realized I was pretty stressed out when I had a dream the other night that I was buying groceries and I couldn’t pay for them, but when I finally got the money to pay for them, the groceries had vanished! It was crazy, folks, like heart-pounding crazy! 😉

I’m not complaining though (okay, maybe I am complaining about having to feed my family every day). 😉 The thing is, I’m a bit tired. Tired because there are a lot of things I want to do, but there’s so little time to do them. (I know I’m not the only one who feels this way!) But when you also add my perfectionistic mindset to the mix, you’ve got a recipe for … nutella!

Yup, you read that right. I have been trying to be nutella. You know that rich, creamy, nutty goodness that goes good with everything and makes everyone happy? Yup, that nutella.

The thing is, no one can be a jar of nutella. Because sooner or later, you’ll find yourself with chest pains and headaches and waking up thinking you left your groceries at the store!

Here’s the truth (and doesn’t it look good?!):

I’m striving to remind myself to breathe and to do my best, but not to demand the best. Because when I demand perfection from myself, I only end up stressed out and frustrated and not a fun person to be around.

The big lesson here for me is grace. We need to give ourselves permission to say no. To mess up. To take a day off for our mental health. To do something for fun, not work. To be nice and kind and gentle to ourselves. To extend grace to ourselves because we’re human, after all.

I’m not saying we need to slack off (that would probably be torture, haha), but it’d be good to take it easy once in a while. Doing so may be hard at first, but everything (including being an anti-perfectionist) requires practice. And remember, practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes better. 🙂

And oh, before I forget, here’s the cover reveal for my story that’s coming out November 7th in Winter’s Kiss, a new Christian romance boxed set.

Tropical Kiss and Tell

Micah Chan has loved Lucy Choi ever since they were kids, but life—and some regretful decisions—stopped him from pursuing her. Now he has a choice to make: Let her marry another man or break up her engagement to make this Christmas the most memorable one of their lives.

You may recognize Micah and Lucy’s names from two of my other books, Tropical Kiss or Miss and Drawn to You. They were kids in those stories, but now they’re all grown up and getting their own happily-ever-after. 🙂

Pre-order your copy of Winter’s Kiss today for only 99 cents!

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0767LWGCL/

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/winters-kiss/id1293778445

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/winters-kiss-elaine-stock/1127196238

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/winter-s-kiss-10

Google Play: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/winter-s-kiss-10

7 Fun Facts about Chasing Romance

Fall Into Romance, a boxed set of ten sweet romances, has been a project in the making for about half a year now. It’s been a fun journey and I can’t wait for its launch so you all can experience romance in the fictional town of Romance, Oregon. With only one week to go before release day (squeal!), I thought I’d share 7 fun facts about my story from the set.

7 Fun Facts about Chasing Romance

  1. I got the idea to make the main characters songwriters because I used to write songs waaaay back in the day (aka. college). I wrote the lyrics and my best friend created the melodies. It was something fun we did that took our minds off studying. Along with a couple of other friends, we came up with a song for our college fellowship group called, At the Crossroads. I believe they were still singing the song a few years after we graduated!
  2. I returned to my songwriting roots and wrote the lyrics for two songs in this story. Unfortunately, the words don’t have music to go with them, but that means you get to make them up as you read. 🙂
  3. The teenaged girl in me might have a slight crush on singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes, which is why Chase Lockhart is based off him. I also might’ve listened to his songs non-stop while I was writing this story.
  4. Izzy Sutton was inspired by Rachel McAdams and the strong and sassy characters she usually plays. While I was researching for this book, I found out that Rachel McAdams is actually Shawn Mendes’s real-life crush! Talk about art imitating life. 🙂
  5. Thor, the black lab/pit bull mix, that Izzy adopted in the story is based off my sweet fur-nephew of the same name. He went through some rough times (the injuries I wrote about in the story are real), but is now so happy in his forever home with my sister, bro-in-law, and niece.
  6. I’ve never been to Oregon before, which meant I had to do a lot of research to make it seem like I knew the area well. Thankfully, one of my beta readers who had lived in Oregon for a few years said I managed to fool her. 😉
  7. Why did I write an older woman/younger man story? Um … I don’t have a good reason, other than wanting to try something different. LOL. I personally don’t think I’d fall for a man eleven years younger than me, but it was fun to toy with the idea as I wrote this story. I made sure though to keep the romance believable and grounded in more than physical attraction. There is some of that, but ultimately, the characters’ shared passion for music keeps them together.

If you haven’t picked up your copy of Fall Into Romance, make sure to do so before the price goes up! This set of ten stories will for sure get you in the mood for pumpkins, apple pie, hay rides, and more! And if you love animals of all types—dogs, cats, pigs, horses, and even roosters—you’ll enjoy the ones featured in these books.

Welcome to Romance! Pies are baking and leaves are falling. This fictional Oregon town has plenty of love in the air. Fall Into Romance, a box set of 10 heartwarming romance novellas by USA Today and National Bestselling authors, will bring you the best of the autumn season. It releases October 5th. Order it today for just 99¢.

Kindle:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0749T1Z89

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fall-into-romance-stacy-claflin/1127045367

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/fall-into-romance

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/fall-into-romance/id1264676338

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details?id=6mouDwAAQBAJ

When Opposites Attract and Write a Book Together

I recently saw an old friend I hadn’t seen in about fifteen years(!) and met her hubby for the first time. Within five minutes of our visit, I could tell they were a perfect match. Why? Because their personalities complement each other.

Yup, we’re talking about my of my favorite romance tropes, opposites attracting.

It’s no secret that my own hubby and I are opposites. If you’ve been following along this blog, you likely know that I’m the square one and he’s the fun one. I’m detailed, organized, and cheap; he’s … not. 😉 You’d think with so many differences between us, I’d have realized we were opposites when we met. Nope! It seems I’m still learning every. single. day. how differently we think, feel, and act.

Grr. 😉

Case in point. I don’t talk about this much, but for the past five years, hubby and I have been writing a book together. Yup, a book, folks. One with lots of words because hubby is so much more talkative than I am and a storyline that borders reality (because he loves sci-fi) and romance (because I love love!). And as you can imagine, it’s been quite an adventure. He’s cranked out the words during his work breaks and late at night, while I’ve been editing his words all the other hours of the day. Amazingly enough, by God’s grace, we are almost done. Well, he’s done writing, but I’m still editing (2 more chapters to go, baby!).

Now this is where our differences come into play—again. I mentioned to him, “You should start reading the story again from the beginning.” I mainly want him to see the changes I made and let me know if he likes them or not. His reply? “I already wrote it; I don’t want to read it.”

AIYA. This was me (minus the Star Trek uniform.)

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Seriously? What writer doesn’t go back and read his story after it’s finished (and even sometimes after it’s published because you like the characters so much)? It’s not just me, right? 😉

So, sigh. I think I know who holds the pen in this house (figuratively speaking because we both use laptops). And who’s more of the perfectionist when it comes to writing. Hint: It’s not him!

Yup, we are soooo different. Thankfully, it’s those differences that drew us to one another and keep us going and entertained, haha. And a very good thing I still like hubby and love him more and more every. single. day! 🙂

I’ll leave you with a song I’ve been listening to on repeat as I edit. It’s Kelly Clarkson’s new single, “Move You”. This is my aim with each book I write—to move my readers. I hope I can do justice to hubby’s story, too, and make it a worthwhile read (even if he won’t read it)!

How do you get along with someone who’s different from you? What do you learn from one another?

Cover Reveal: Love’s Choice

As an author I put a lot of my heart—not to mention, blood, sweat, and tears!—into my work. That’s why I need to feel passionate about what I write. I want my stories to not only entertain, but to bring meaning and value to those who read them.

When God opened the doors for me to join Melissa Storm‘s First Street Church Kindle world series, I jumped at the opportunity. All the books set in the fictional world of Sweet Grove, Texas are rooted in faith, hope, and love. The characters are realistic, three-dimensional, and most of all, flawed—emphasis on flawed. The authors writing in this world are actually encouraged to tackle messy issues that the church tends to shy away from, for example, depression, suicide, and addiction. As a former therapist, these kind of books speak to me. I’m very much about hope and change and growth, and what better way to address these issues than to tackle them head-on with my characters? This is the reason why I chose to write my book, Love’s Choice.

Here’s the official cover reveal!

Missy Clark left small town life and her first love when she went away to college. Five years later, she returns to Sweet Grove with a secret that’s sure to tarnish her reputation.

Nate Dawson never stopped loving Missy when she left home. Answered prayers have brought her back into his life, but the consequences she bears may destroy their future.

Can these high school sweethearts regain the innocence of the past and find hope and healing in the Lord to move forward?

I just finished Love’s Choice this week. It is a story unlike anything I’ve ever written, which makes me both nervous and excited to share it with you. The book, along with 19 other First Street Church books, will be released in November, so please stay tuned!

Thoughts on Going to Jail

The munchkins know to ask for approval before they download a game to play on the iPad. The process usually goes something like this: 1) Munchkin shows me the game; 2) I peruse the description, rating, and reviews; 3) I say yay or nay. It’s a pretty straightforward and quick process, and so far we’ve been able to keep the games age-appropriate and family-friendly. That is, until recently.

Lo and behold, I’ve discovered my mama brain doesn’t function too well during the summer. It could be that I don’t have enough me-time during the day, so I end up staying up way too late at night, and the gears in my head just don’t turn as fast when they’re tired. Or I could just be getting old. 😉 Either way, when one of the munchkins asked me to approve a game the other week, I inadvertently agreed to let them go to jail.

Yup. The game is all about trying to escape from prison.

What was I thinking?! At first, I reasoned it was a good game for problem-solving because breaking out of a locked establishment would require using your brain to come up with a plan and then to implement said plan. What I didn’t think through were the reasons why one would be in jail in the first place and how breaking out of jail would be a crime. Playing this game would in a sense make my child guilty of not just one crime, folks, but two! I had basically given a thumbs-up to illegal activity.

Sigh. Can we say, #mamafail?

All was not lost though! (There’s always gotta be a bright side to things, right?) 😉 Because life is all about trying and failing and trying again, I decided to make the best of this opportunity. We talked about what prison life is like (based off what I know from TV shows and books, not my own personal experience, mind you!), and also increased our knowledge of some key vocabulary words (e.g. warden). I also talked about my friend and former classmate who currently works as a therapist in prison. And get this, he’s not just a therapist for one jail, folks, but two! (Yes, he’s as awesome as he sounds!) And I even managed to share about how a large percentage of prisoners are from fatherless homes and the implications of that. Amazingly enough, I was able to use a game about jail to strike up some interesting and educational conversations about life. God’s grace, folks, God’s grace! 🙂

And to top it all off, I heard from my therapist friend recently that the Moodkins have become quite a hit in—you guessed it!—jail.

The therapists are using them for one-on-one counseling, as well as group therapy with the prisoners. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the cute therapy plush toys I created for kids to be helpful for adults, too. It’s been a huge blessing and affirmation for me to see them making a difference in schools, counseling centers, and now—prison. It just goes to show, you never know how God will use our small stuff for bigger purposes. 🙂

All this is to say that there’s been a lot of talk about jail in our home lately. There’s never a dull moment in parenting, is there? But thank God for His grace and providence in working everything out for good.

I hope you’ve had a good summer! We have less than one week of vacay here and then I’ll be back to my regular blogging schedule. As always, thanks for reading and sharing in my journey. 🙂

What have you been doing this summer? How have you seen God at work in your life? Tell me in the comments below! 🙂

Welcome to Romance, Oregon (And My New Younger Man/Older Woman Story)!

Get Ready to Fall Into Romance!

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What happens when you mix together a group of authors, add laughter, lovable pets, and a dash of pumpkin spice? The perfect combination resulting in ten sweet novellas that’ll have you falling in love all over again!

FIR Boxed Set

Surround yourself in the romance of the autumn season with 10 heartwarming, sweet novellas from the USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors. Each story takes you inside the heart of a small town-its people-and features adorable animal friends in need of a forever home. Take a trip to Romance, Oregon, where falling in love has never been easier and happily-ever-after is guaranteed!

Available for Pre-order Now!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunesKobo | Google

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Stories and Authors

Lost in Romance by Stacy Claflin

At Second Glance by Raine English

Blown Into Romance by Shanna Hatfield

Wired for Romance by Franky A. Brown

Restoring Romance by Tamie Dearen

Finding Dori by J.J. DeBenedetto

Katie’s Chance for Romance by Jessica L. Elliott

Chasing Romance by Liwen Y. Ho

Lessons in Romance by Kit Morgan

Finding Forever in Romance by Melanie D. Snitker

~*~

Welcome to Romance Facebook Page

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Like and follow us on Facebook! You’ll stay up-to-date on release news, author interviews, future projects, and more!

~*~

Chasing Romance

By Liwen Y. Ho

I consider it an awesome privilege to be part of this boxed set with so many amazing authors! I’ve read several of the stories in the set so let me assure you, they are all such engaging and well-written stories. My story, Chasing Romance, was my first attempt at a younger man/older woman romance and I had such a fun time writing it. I can’t wait for you to meet Chase and Izzy!

Izzy Sutton shelved away her own needs when her ex-boyfriend left town eighteen years ago, leaving her to raise their daughter alone. With Gracie away at college now, she has time to invest in her Bed and Breakfast, as well as her secret songwriting job. Trouble starts though when a handsome singer comes looking for a room, forcing Izzy to decide if it’s worth opening up her heart again, especially to a much younger man.

Pop sensation Chase Lockhart owes his overnight fame to one song penned by an anonymous writer. Desperate for more chart-toppers, he travels to Oregon to collect the other songs she owes him. Finding her is the least of his troubles; getting past her defenses, including her dog who hates him, proves to be the real challenge.

Can a shared love of music lead a young singer and a single mom to fall in love? Anything’s possible in the small town of Romance.

~*~

FIR 3

Don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Fall Into Romance!  It’s just 99 cents!

It’s Release Day for On Waves of Wanderlust!

The family and I took a trip last week to our happy place: Kauai. We had a wonderful time, despite the fact that vacationing with kids is pretty much life in a different place. 😉 But life on a tropical island happens to be 100% more beautiful, fun, and soothing than life in the “real world”. Here are some photos to prove it …

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It was so amazing in Kauai that I actually disconnected from social media most of the time while we were there. Who wants to look down at a tiny screen when you can be looking all around at the amazing sights?! And breathing in the fresh ocean air. And smelling the sweet tropical smells. And tasting all the yummy fruit? Happy sigh! 🙂

But back to reality … and speaking of traveling … today’s release day for my newest book baby (and the last book in my Seasons of Love series), On Waves of Wanderlust!

YAY!

This story was inspired in part by a cruise we took to Mexico years ago with my in-laws when we only had one munchkin and one on the way. The one thing I’ve learned about cruises is that you’ve gotta be prepared to EAT. The food is amazing, not only in quality but in quantity as well. We’re talking a dessert buffet at midnight. Yup, craziness! The other thing about cruises is that you get to meet new people and go on new adventures … and maybe even fall in love, just like Macy and Jake did in this story. 🙂

If you’ve never been on a cruise ship before, here’s your chance to take a virtual one. It’s the perfect length for when you need a pick-me-up during the day or need to escape real life for a little while. And best of all? It’s calorie-free and you won’t get seasick!

Check out the playlist for On Waves of Wanderlust here!

Where would you like to go on a cruise ship?

You’re Never Too Young or Too Old to Become an Author

I’ve mentioned before that I would not be the author I am without my (virtual) village of fellow authors. I owe a lot of my growth to one Facebook group in particular: Clean Indie Reads. Recently, I polled the members of CIR to ask them an important question: At what age did you publish your first book? Below is a snapshot of the results, which really surprised me!

As I suspected, the majority of the members published for the first time in their 30s; I did as well when I was 38. But I was blown away to discover many people were in their 50s and 60s when they first published! Whoa baby. 😀 How cool is that?

The results of this poll prove it’s never too late to pursue your dream of becoming an author.

Hubby and I were just talking about this the other day. He remarked,” Writing is one job where your age doesn’t matter.” There are plenty of other professions where youth is a desired trait and what usually accompanies it—beauty, strength and energy—are requirements of the job. Being a writer, however, only requires that you have a mind to think and imagine and some way to get your thoughts down on paper. Readers don’t mind how old an author is, as long as their stories touch them.

One is also never too young to become an author. One of my munchkins’ teachers is an awesome out-of-the-box thinker and he calls his class the 4th Grade Dreamers. He assigns “dreamwork” to the kids every week, homework that encourages them to think about their dreams and find tangible ways to pursue them. The dream of one of my munchkins (the one who has requested to never be mentioned on social media again, ahem) is to become an author. The mom part of me hopes he’ll also find a day job, but the author part of me is pleased to see him follow in my footsteps. 😉 It was really neat to see him working on his dreamwork this week, creating a story to share with his classmates. He enjoyed the process so much, he even laughed out loud as he wrote … which made me laugh. It was such a joy for me to see him take pleasure in something that took me almost four decades to embrace. I wish I had someone who encouraged me to pursue my dream of being an author when I was ten. Fortunately, I was still able to start—and continue—dreaming as an adult. Because age doesn’t matter. You’re never too young or too old to become an author.

So, whether you’ve always wanted to write a book or you have a manuscript hidden away somewhere that you want to publish, here’s my tip for you: Just do it! 🙂

If you don’t know where to start and have a million questions, feel free to ask me! Or you can join Clean Indie Reads, the most awesome authors group on Facebook and learn from the best.

Clean Indie Reads’ Facebook group

Clean Indie Reads’ Website

What dreams do you want to pursue?