May 26, 2017

Don't Judge a Book By It's Cover { Or a Guy }

I always thought I had a type. Basically Captain America. Clean shaven, blond-ish to some degree, and tall. Period, the end. Now I'm not dissing my favorite Chris here, but who I find attractive now (both in general and actually meaningfully) has greatly changed. But there needs to be some physical, visible draw to another person, I've learned. Much like a book cover is the first thing to draw us to actually read the book.
In our world of digital dating, it's easy to scroll through profiles and photos and then find them on social media (oh come on we've all done it) to get a read on their personality and potential things in common. And yes, the inevitable "Could I be attracted to you?" If my answer is a drawn out "Maybe?" then I give it a shot and hope/ask to meet in person for coffee. Because I feel like the majority of the male sex is somewhat inferior to women in taking good photos of themselves. (We're all thinking it)

Beyond looks, hairlines, waistlines or height, what I look for first is the heart. And how it is revealed when they talk about something they're passionate about, or a family member they love, or something they majorly nerd out about. This comes out in what ends up attracting me the most/more to someone: smile and eyes. In that order. If a smile's infectious to me? That equals attraction.

Whenever there is past disappointments or hurt, you're cautious. Trust me I get it. But every date I've gone on? I don't regret it entirely. Because each date with a real live guy lends a glimpse into who he is beyond the profile, or beyond whoever set you up's description. It's quite similar to books, really. Think about it. We all have a book or two whose cover wasn't exactly the greatest but once you cracked the spine and started reading—even when it took a while to get invested in the story—you fell in love with it. Because you opened yourself up to have assumptions proven wrong. To being surprised. Simply from taking a leap of faith, keeping an open mind—and not judging the book by its cover.
So should it be in dating. You never know who you'll be surprised to be attracted to if you don't give a guy a chance.

May 24, 2017

A High-Flying, Poignant Romance {Book Review & Interview}

The lovely Sarah signing my autograph
book at CFRR 2016
A tender, riveting romance of two couples that will leave you flying high on the wings of God's grace that brings them both together.

Michael and Jacquelyn— or rather Finch and Jack— are two unforgettable characters. They've both been through a heck of a lot, and place their identities in their pasts&emdash;leaving little room for God to work. So when the sparks fly between them as Michael upholds a promise to a comrade to watch over Jack, they're both thrown for an utter loop. Sure that the other could never be attracted to them and that they're better off without the other.
Tell God your plans and He laughs, right? The sheer grace of healing these two go through both separately and together took my breath away and left tears in my eyes multiple times from beginning, to end. This fiery couple's rocky road to romance, and the story's WWII romantic mystery that all comes full circle in a surprising and uplifting way makes this novel a new favorite on my shelf, and in my heart. Not soon to be forgotten. The characters are friends now, their struggles and triumphs and heart-melting moments stamped on my heart's memory in the color of hope. Hope that the Ultimate Author can and does heal even the most wounded or guarded of hearts.
Sometimes the past reaches forward to bring hope to the future.

Maryland, Present Day:
Jacquelyn Rogers can rebuild anything...except the shambles of her past. A restorer of vintage planes, she's worked hard to earn the reputation of being one of the guys. The last thing she needs is a former Navy pilot fighting his own inner demons stepping in to defend her from dangers she thought she’d outrun long ago. Some battles must be fought alone.

After a freak accident severs Lieutenant Michael “Finch” Carrington’s dreams, as well as two limbs, he’s left with nothing but a fragile faith and a duty-bound promise to watch out for his friend’s baby sister. A promise she insists is as unnecessary as it is unappreciated. But when she turns the tables and begins to weld together the broken parts of his life, it may be his heart that is in need of protection.

England, 1944:
With the world at war yet again, Alice Galloway rejects her father’s traditional expectations and offers her piloting expertise to the Air Transport Auxiliary. She may be a woman in a man’s world, but when she overhears key intelligence, she must find the strength to transcend boundaries and her own fears. Or countless people may die.
CFRR 2016 with (r to l) Sarah, Rachael
Wing, and Mikal Dawn.
Three of THE best
Fun fact: Sarah and I were roommates at the first ever Christian Fiction Reader’s Retreat last summer so it’s an especial joy to visit with her again today. Sarah—I am SO glad you’re here. Thank you for stopping by to share all about your story and the journey it took to get from your heart, onto paper.

So this book is your third, another dual timeline like the first book in the Carrington Family series, Finder’s Keepers. This time your historical plot is set in WWII! My favorite. Tell us a little about yourself and how you first started writing.

Sarah: I’m a stay-at-home mom of two littles and the wife of a Navy chaplain. We live in the Pacific Northwest, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Olympic mountains. I’ve always had a heart for story, devouring books when I was supposed to be doing chores. Reading and writing pretty much go together, and it wasn’t long before I was itching to create some stories of my own.
When I was in elementary school, my school had a young author program where they would pick stories from students in each grade and then publish them in an anthology for the parents and throw a party. I guess you could say I published my first piece of fiction when I was seven! It was about a talking pencil that traveled the world.

What inspired you to write dual timeline romances?

Sarah: I really wish I had something profound to share here, but I’d be lying. I started writing Finders Keepers because I had the scene of my heroine diving in a shark cage in my mind. By the second chapter the ship had made it into the story and it got me to thinking what the story behind the ship was. So I went back and wrote a prologue…and then just kept intertwining that historical story throughout the present day one. I really loved it! Like, a lot.

Give us a glimpse into your process from that earliest draft, to following God’s lead to indie-publishing.

Sarah: Well, the very first draft of that very first novel will never get into the hands of readers. I started writing it when I was a student missionary in China between my Sophomore and Junior years of college. It took me over five years to write and it’s pretty much rubbish. I put it away and started on another project, The Isaac Project. Once I had finished the rough draft, I sent it through a big critique loop twice before I thought it was ready to go to the next step. I started praying, thinking I’d query agents, but every time I prayed God directed me to indie publishing. I balked at first, thinking indie publishing was just for those books that couldn’t make the cut. I repent of that thought now! Anyway, God knew what was best for me and my family and I’ve been beyond blessed as an indie author. 

How did the Carrington Family come about, and will there be more stories from them?

Sarah: I love reading series based around families. The Porters by Becky Wade. The Walkers by Melissa Tagg. You get caught up and feel like you are a member of the family. I wanted to write a series where readers would feel at home when they picked the book us.
There will be two more Carrington books in the future. One for Adam and one for Amber.

What’s one of the biggest lessons you took away from writing Jacqueline and Finch’s story?

Sarah: My awareness and appreciation for our servicemen and women, both active and veterans, increased greatly. Especially those who endured wounds, both seen and unseen. The sacrifices they are willing to make are truly humbling.

And now, what’s one of the biggest lessons, and biggest blessings, you took away from publishing this heart story?

Sarah: It’s a lesson I think I will be learning the rest of my life—Belief. In myself. And in the Originator of the story. I get really bogged down in self-doubt, especially when it comes to the stories of my heart. What will people think of it? Will they like it? I have to keep telling myself that the story came from a place of much prayer and that if I was faithful in the telling, then that’s all that matters. And that’s where the blessing comes in. In the form of my wonderful friends in the bookish world—other authors, readers, and bloggers. Offering words on encouragement and traveling with me on this journey.

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain's wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn't enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn't in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings. You can connect with her on her Website, Facebook, and Twitter.

May 12, 2017

On Meet-Cutes & Settling

This is the first installment of our series, Love Life & Literature: Romance in Real Life. In this new series, we (myself and Rachael) will be delving into the ups, downs, frustrations, butterflies, and everything in between as career women who love romance, but are still searching in a world that isn't all Mr. Darcy's and Prince Charming's.

So who doesn't love a good Meet-Cute? Whether it's the first time they're meeting or the first time the reader gets to see them togetherwhat helps "sell" a romance of any subgenre is the Meet-Cute. Now that we've unpacked that, we can go into how someone who's been reading romance for literally most of her life, has gone about dating. Where, eventually, a First Date will be looked back on as her very own Meet-Cuteeven though it doesn't seem like it at the time. My latest "date"? Not a Meet-Cute. But a good lesson learned at the end of it.

I met him online, initiated the conversation because it's 2017 and I darn well can. Hashtag something thirteen year-old Meghan never dreamt of saying. Ever.
The chatting therein was good, we had a lot in common. His spelling and grammar was 95% perfect and yes I do judge that. We appeared to be looking for roughly the same thing and had similar values and goals. And so I figured, why not coffee, when the conversation was reaching a stale impasse.
It couldn't hurt. I also hadn't been on a date for almost six months and I needed to prove to myself that I was still capable.

This guy was nice. He was very considerate and understanding as to the reason I was late (legit friend crisis + nerves), he held the door, bought me coffee despite not drinking the stuff. Two solid hours of laughing, conversation, some mutual awkwardness and this: "You sort of look like Ariel, with your red hair and your teal shirt." Add to that genuine, sincere compliment, a mutual / obligatory "We should do this again sometime," and consistent, kind texts the entire week after?
Texts that showed me he actually meant that he wanted to see me again (to my surprise...)
There was nothing.
The date wasn't bad. Not cringeworthy or creepy. The lack of creeps I've run across is a miracle, truth be told, and I'm grateful.
In my albeit limited dating experience the last year, I learned quickly that sparks are not as instantaneous as novels make them out to be. But at the same time, I was not attracted to him at all. Not one bit. I just couldn't summon up any interest towards him at all, had no reaction other than a gracious "Thank you" at his compliment, or/especially when he asked me out for a second date in our texts.
I was torn up about this, ya'll, and so I sought counsel. But it wasn't until I truly word-vomitted to Teresa that a truth wiggled its way into my heart. A truth a little like a freefall. Because it required more blind faith.
I swear, no novel ever prepared me for just how exhausting blind faith can be while holding out for The Right One.
I can't settle.
I was going on and on about potential this and what about that with this guy I just met. Like some Big Things that me and My Guy need to be in agreement about. Hashtag control freak much?
My dear friend Teresa brought me back down to the present with just a simple, "You can't settle, you're right. But that almost means not settling on no attraction or interest just because." (Loosely quoted.)

Now I know that sometimes, the guy is more into the girl first—heck I have a friend who's been married for a year after her guy finally worked up the courage to ask her out. But I gave this guy the benefit of the doubt. I tried hard to muster up something, anything, good or bad, about him. But it was just meh, as I lamented to more than one long-suffering friend. Keep your tribe close, friends.

For my fellow single ladies here: Don't settle. I know that often it seems like we may not have a choice (or even a chance to settle), but we can't. In a way, as I am continually convicted about, that's boxing in God who only desires the very best for us, ultimately. Some like to say that our Prince Charmings are just off slaying dragons, that's why they haven't shown up. But in reality, God's still maturing them, growing them up into men. Not princes. Men.
And in the meantime, God is giving us our own dragons to slay and mountains to climb along the roads of romance and life.
And His best will be worth the wait.

Rachael and I will be taking turns every Friday, talking about Love Life & Literature! Keep an eye out at her blog Rachael's Reads next week!

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