Archive | February 2016

Leaving My Comfort Zone

I’m an introvert, and that makes it hard for me to accept challenges or pursue opportunities easily. I must cajole or even push myself to step out of my comfort zone in exchange for experiencing a first-time-something in an author’s world. Or repeat an action that has yet to become second nature to me.

This month I’ve decided – no more. I’m going to make myself and my word count accountable to the masses. It took two years to get to this point, but I signed up for SpeedBo!

SpeedBo is the annual challenge to writers from Seekerville to write a book in a month (you can read about it here I’m 35,000 words into my WIP (work in progress) and looking for another 35,000+ to bring Ella and Jackson’s story to an end. If I survive the March challenge, I may consider attempting NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) which takes place in November.

I pride myself on my perseverance, but positive thoughts you may wish to send my way for this new endeavor are appreciated. I’ll give an update at the end of March.

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This entry was posted on February 28, 2016. 2 Comments

Author Interview


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Welcome, Krista Wagner – thanks for answering my interview questions so we can learn a few things about you:



When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was seven. I started writing plays and songs every day after school and on the weekends.

What genre(s) do you write?

Mostly mystery/thriller. I also have my first middle grade fantasy releasing this summer.

How many books have you written and how many of those have been published?

My third published novel will be out this summer. I am working on a fourth.

 How many hours a day do you devote to writing?

It varies. Typically 1-2 hours.

What’s more important: character or plot?

Character. A story can be fascinating to us, but without a good character, one we care about,the plot won’t matter much.

What is the hardest part of writing?

The time involved. It’s a serious business if you are serious about writing.

What does your family think of your writing?

They love it.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Read, teach, and spend time with my family.

What authors do you like to read?

Dean Koontz, Christopher Pike, and Poe.

Do you have future projects in mind?

Indeed. My next story is a young adult novel.

What is your favorite genre to read?


Do you write every day?


How did your writing journey begin?

I loved reading when I was a child and soon after I began school, I felt compelled to write. I also loved listening to music. So, both books and music played a huge role inspiring me to write. I had so many stories to tell, and I still do.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

Take a break. It’s important to step away from the page, refresh, and come back to it with ‘new eyes’; there are things in your own story that you can’t see at first, but after a period of time, you will later detect.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Being able to share with the world important truths about life.

What motivates you to write?

Entertaining readers, encouraging them, and helping them heal.

Do you have any advice for other writers

Writing is hard work, but it’s important you don’t give up on it because you never know whose life you will change for the better.


About the author:                                                                                                  

Mother of three and Adjunct English Instructor Krista Wagner has been writing short stories of dramatic events like murder and kidnapping since she was in high school, and has been writing in general since she was seven years old. Wagner received her B.A. in English from UMBC, her M.A. in English Composition with a Literature Concentration from CSUSB, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from National University. Her debut novel Intent was published by TouchPoint Press in 2014. Outside of her professional life, Wagner enjoys watching suspenseful films, reading the Bible, and spending time with her family. She is currently at work on her next project, a children’s fantasy screenplay and novel.

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In her latest novel, author Krista Wagner introduces us to Rian Field, a Marine Biologist who, after surviving a shark attack, continues her work at the Southern California Marine Institute, determined to continue living her routine life. But Rian is plagued both by memories of an earlier trauma and a sudden onslaught of mysterious and ominous events. Immersed in an inescapable danger, she suspects that her former assailant is still threatening her life–and may be someone close to her. More disturbing is the growing certainty that the trauma is somehow connected to the shark attack, compelling Rian to uncover the truth of her past and discover who is after her.

Rian Field will resonate with those who have doubted the integrity even of those closest to them. More seriously, it will move those who have suffered from an emotional or mental trauma and who yearn for a way to find victory.

“Because what you don’t remember can hurt you.”!the-author/c24fx



Heather Gray’s Latest Release

Today’s spotlight is on Heather Gray and Book Two of her Informal Romance series.

She has emotional wounds. He has physical ones. Faith doesn’t come easy for either.

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Holden Jenkins receives a diagnosis that alters the course of his life. His slow recovery is pockmarked with discouragement and puts his future in question. Will he ever again walk without pain? Or be well enough to return home?

A heart-rending day in the ICU leaves nurse Maddie Smith hurting in more ways than she can identify. In need of a change — and drawn to a man she barely knows — she goes on sabbatical and takes up the fight to get Holden back on his feet.

As he searches for his identity in the midst of this new life, Holden struggles with a deep hurt. Why would God allow this? Meanwhile Maddie, shaped by her own emotional scars, battles against an unseen God she’s not sure she can believe in. Will these two be able to find peace — and a future together — or will the difficulties they face push them apart?


“You mentioned something about a toad…” Her remark hung between them like a two-day old helium balloon.

The worry wrinkles on his forehead faded away, melting into his hairline and drawing her eyes to light chestnut hair that couldn’t seem to make up its mind whether it wanted to stand at attention or lie down and take a nap.

“Umm, I guess I remember. Huh. I wonder where that dream came from.” If his nonchalance was anything to go by, he had to dream about toads on a regular basis.

“And you mentioned the toilet.” Maddie took a deep breath and went about her morning routine. Shift had just started, and she still needed to do her patient assessment.

She put the blood pressure cuff on Mr. Jenkins as he told her about his dream. “There was an albino horned toad that got out of its terrarium. It was in the toilet for some reason, but because the commode was white, nobody could see it. Which doesn’t make sense. Albino animals aren’t pure white, but what can I say? A hand reached for the lever to flush, and I panicked. That’s when you woke me.”

After she charted his blood pressure and listened to his heart and lungs, she asked, “What exactly is a horned toad? I’m picturing something froggish.”

Mr. Jenkins laughed, disturbing Maddie’s attempt to count his pulse. He reined himself in, and she began counting again. “Frogs and toads are different, you know, and a horned toad isn’t even a toad. Not really, anyway. It’s a lizard.”

Her eyes darted around the room again. Maddie worked with people — and not animals — for a reason. “So toads and frogs are different, but a horned toad isn’t a toad.”

“That’s right. The people who discovered and named it must have been confused.”

Maddie held up an index finger. “Hold on a second.” Then she marched over to the small attached bathroom. An empty toilet had never been so beautiful. She stepped back into the room. “Whew. All clear.”

When her patient chuckled, she knew she’d hit the mark.

“Are you sure you’re not the one who’s confused? A toad that’s not a toad?” She quirked her eyebrow as laughter sparkled in Mr. Jenkins’ eyes.

“I’m never going to live this down, am I?”

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Heather Gray loves coffee, God, and her family – not necessarily in that order! She enjoys people who embrace God even when life is hard and who aren’t afraid to laugh out loud. Like her, the characters she writes are flawed…but loved anyway.


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This entry was posted on February 23, 2016. 2 Comments

New Novel by Tanya Eavenson

Today, I’m delighted to share Restored – Book Two in Tanya Eavenson’s series Unending Love…

Restored_1400x2100 (1) Dr. Steven Moore is known nationally for saving lives. If only he could save his own. Unable to deal with his cancer prognosis, he retreats to a happier time in his past—to the woman who once stole his heart.

Four years after the death of her beloved husband, bookstore owner Elizabeth Roberts still struggles to sustain her faith and joy in the Lord as she raises her two sons. She strives to find a way through her family’s grief, never suspecting a man from her past might offer hope for her future.

But how can there be a future when he’s only come to kiss her and says good-bye?


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Elizabeth ran her fingers down the wooden handrail along the stairs, glancing at the ornate clock on the mantle. “Not much longer now.” Her heart pounded with excitement as her gaze moved to the framed picture beside the clock and settled on her husband’s handsome face. Warmth flowed through her as she lifted the portrait with its silver frame. Chris had just tackled their son, Luke, with the football in the front yard when she snapped the picture. She touched the glass over Chris’s blond hair. His hazel eyes peered up at her. She smiled. It still amazed her how their lives had changed throughout the years, coming back from the brink of divorce to discovering what unconditional love truly meant. What they meant to each other.

“Two hours and you’ll be home,” she breathed. This mission trip to Goma, Africa, kept Chris away for several weeks this time, but now it was time for him to come home to stay.

She closed her eyes, envisioning Chris’s arms around her. Tonight, she’d drink in the words of love she’d missed before she fell asleep every evening, the feel of his body next to hers.

She smiled and pressed a hand against her flat belly. “Yes, Daddy will be home soon. Won’t he be surprised?” The chime of the doorbell broke through her thoughts.

She set the frame down and hurried to open the front door. Elizabeth smiled at her sister and brother-in-law. “Hey, why did you ring the doorbell? You could have come right in.” She halted. Something in their expressions made her heart race. “Where’s Luke?” she asked her sister.

Sam’s mouth opened, but no words came out. She grabbed Phillip’s arm as if she needed support.

Moisture filled Phillip’s eyes. “There’s been an accident. They tried to call. We tried to call.”

“Lizzy.” Her sister moved to her side.

Elizabeth couldn’t breathe. No, God, no. Please, God, I can’t take losing another child. “Where is he, Sam? Where’s Luke?”

Phillip cleared his throat. “Luke is fine. He’s with Mom.”

Elizabeth glanced between them, not understanding. “But you said there was an accident…that they tried to call—”

“My brother…” Phillip’s voice broke and a tear ran down his face. “Elizabeth, there’s been a plane crash.”


DSC_0729b (1)Tanya Eavenson enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers International, and writes for Christ to the World Ministries. You can find her at her website on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.



Ariella Moon Begins A New Series

It is my pleasure to once again welcome author Ariella Moon to Rachel’s Words.

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About Ariella Moon

Ariella Moon draws upon her experiences as a shaman to create magical Young Adult fiction. Her Two Realms Trilogy is a medieval fantasy adventure series. The Teen Wytche Saga is a series of sweet contemporary paranormal romances.

Ariella spent her childhood searching for a magical wardrobe that would transport her to Narnia. Extreme math anxiety and taller students that mistook her for a leaning post marred her youth. Despite these horrors, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Davis. She lives a nearly normal life doting on her extraordinary daughter, two shamelessly spoiled dogs, and a media-shy dragon.

Ariella loves to hear from her readers. You can reach her at:

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Betrayed. Branded. Betrothed. Lady Fenella’s fate is shackled to the most powerful sorcerer and sorceress: Merlin and the Lady of the Lake.




Lady Fenella, ever surrounded by guards, knows only responsibility and duty. She believes Merlin and the Lady of the Lake are myths, Gran’s warnings about Fairy are superstition, and Fairy was invented to make children behave.

But then Gran brands her, Lord Argonshire kidnaps her, and the Lady of the Lake makes her a pawn. The Highland heiress must betray her newly betrothed and fend for herself when she dives into a wormhole to save her cousin. She lands in a part of Fairy even fairies avoid, and joins forces with a half-Viking/half-Fairy.

Fenella must use her wits to find her cousin, free the Lady of the Lake, and reach the wormhole in Glastonbury by Beltane. Nine days to unshackle herself from a sorceress, prevent a war between two clans, and decide in which realm—and with which lad—she truly belongs. Oh, and The Most Powerful Wizard stands in her way.



Fenella scratched the freckles dotting her wrist. She had none of Mother’s fragile beauty, her dewy widow eyes. Instead, she had been cursed with hair redder than rowanberries at Michaelmas. Freckles marred her nose, and she appeared sturdy rather than graceful. Och. She was here for the view of the river. She would nae waste her precious free minutes wallowing in self-pity.

“Thaness of Thorburn!” Her cousin’s voice, eager and cracking, called up to her from the steep slope, four stories below.

Fenella flattened her stomach against the cold stone crenel, peered over the edge, and waved. “Sorley! You have returned.”

He grinned up at her, panting as though he had run a great distance. His riot of red hair had settled into a windblown mat that all but obscured his keen blue eyes.

“Descend,” he said. “I have discovered a fairy mound!”

Her hands tightened on the wall. It had been years since she and Sorley had searched the bracken for fairies, avoided caves for fear of goblins, or pretended cowberries were pixie dust. Gran had put a stop to it.

“Dinna seek trouble, lad!” Her gran’s voice grated like cart wheels over jagged rocks. Fenella drew back in case the old woman glanced up from the herb garden. “You better hope ’tis not a fairy mound!” Gran spat the words. “Fall down one of those, and the fairies will enslave you. Now, run along. The thaness has better things to do than wander aboot with you, Sorley Rose.”

Far below, a door slammed. Fenella ventured another peek over the wall.

“Lady Fenella.” Balfour, the oldest and most trusted of her guards, had appeared at her side.

Duty calls. Her shoulders sagged. She cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted, “Mayhap, later.”

Sorley’s mouth drooped into a thin, disappointed line. A lonely expression flicked across his face but was quickly masked. A door creaked open, and he spun towards the sound.

“Sorley Rose!” Gran’s voice shot like a flaming arrow across the bailey.

Sorley glanced up at Fenella. “Aye, later then.” He spoke so quietly, she had to lean far over the crenellated wall to hear him. He waved farewell then romped into the woods, his flame-colored hair bobbing like a soldier’s torch.



This entry was posted on February 16, 2016. 3 Comments

Meet Debut Author Jaclyn Brod

It is my pleasure to introduce newly published Cleans Reads author, Jaclyn Brod.

Jaclyn E. Brod is a full-time writer and student, currently going to school for medical billing as a background but her true passion is writing. She has one cat named Zazzie who she loves more than anything and a fiancé who’s a cook and a gamer nerd.

When Jaclyn isn’t writing she is spending time with her best friends and her best friends’ children who she calls her niece and nephew.

She is the author of the newly debut novel The Descendants.

Inspiration for her stories comes from music and reading.

And her biggest inspiration of all, Harry Potter.

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You can find Jaclyn on her social media sites:

Facebook Author Page: Jaclyn E. Brod

Instagram: Jaclyn E. Brod

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Twitter: @JaclynBrod


 Everything comes with a price, even if it isn’t what you expect.









In the year 2030 a war is waged, and only one can save human kind, but will she die before she can save the world?








Genevieve. It was poor Genevieve who was blocking the front door with bruises adorning her flesh like a molting fledgling. Blood trickled down from the corners of her hazel eyes. Her arms were thrown out to her sides as if that motion alone could stop Theo’s guards and the Experiments.

“Move,” Jaxs hissed, her hands blazing with a midnight glow, but Theo stepped in front of her as fear for the heiress surged in his veins. He heard the safety of Sage’s gun switch from safe to fire. Genevieve said nothing; her knotted golden hair did not even twitch.

Hazel eyes bored into Theo, pleading for him to turn around and give up. He knew that this was the moment. This was the moment where he chose. He looked at Jaxs with the disheveled sneer hanging on her face with frightened eyes and then back Genevieve’s hardened visage.

 “You could have come with us,” Theo muttered just loudly enough for her to hear. He knew that time had passed, that there was nothing that would change her mind now, but he had to be sure that this was what she wanted. The blood pouring from her eyes only increased as her eyes watered slightly. “We both know that is not true. You belong here. I belong here. The Confinement harbors souls, Theo, because we need to be kept safe from the world. You don’t know what you are getting into. You don’t know what that thing,” she gestured to Jaxs,

“Will do to you. You don’t know what you are causing here, but I do. Stay here and trust me.” She held out a hand, ignoring the clatter of footsteps echoing down the hall toward them. Theo felt a vice tighten around his throat as he shook his head.

This was not the wonderful girl that he had come to know before. She was not the freedom loving, loyal soul that he once knew. “No, Genevieve.” He shook his head. “I don’t trust you.” The golden-haired young woman reached into her thin pocket and before anyone could stop her, she shoved a syringe into her own exposed neck. It was as if a bomb had gone off.

Manic laughter echoed off of the cobblestone floors of the castle and melded with the yells of approaching guards. Genevieve dropped her hands to her sides, her head twitching upon her neck as shadows fell over her face.

The once graceful mouth twisted into a maleficent sneer and hazel eyes glazed over with black pigment. “I will obey my Mother!” Genevieve said, or what was left of her. Theo took a step back in horror as thick blackened tendrils exploded throughout Genevieve’s body. Her delicate hands rose to the ceiling with smoke flying from her fingertips.

Her hysterical laughter revealed blackened, charcoal teeth just below the surface that housed bleeding gums. At some point in the transformation Jaxs had moved from her position behind Theo without him noticing. Her outstretched hands pushed him behind her as she let loose a surge of power directed at Genevieve.

There was nothing Theo could do except scream as Jaxs’s blast threw Genevieve to the ground. The former head guard just stared at her twitching body on the cold floor as Sage dragged him out the front door.

The five of them made it outside, but when the heavy door closed behind him Theo swore that he heard a weak, mournful whisper of, “I told you to be careful.” The door clicked shut.

 Guards rushed into the room. Some ran to Genevieve’s fallen form, but they were quickly waved away by Dr. Grant. The foreboding woman crossed the lobby with her head held high, a cold mask settled over her face. She did not react. Stilettos clicked across the uneven cobblestone, echoing eerily across the floor. The stilettos dug into flesh as she stepped on her daughter’s shuddering body.

Blood washed over the bottom of Dr. Grant’s heels, which she ignored in favor of pulling open the door. The weeping willows were churning in the wind as Dr. Grant felt a snicker rise up in her throat. The darkened sky did not allow the woman to see the escapees, but she knew where they were going. A laugh permeated the silence of the outside world as she dug her heels into Genevieve’s flesh. Dr. Grant stood there for a moment before she looked down upon the girl.

 “Get up, my love,” she cooed. “We have some work to do.”

There was no hesitation. “Yes, Mother.”




Finding Freedom by Sue Searles

Action, intrigue, and deception make up this intensely human story.

Naïve Emily Garrett discovers that her safe, secure upbringing has been a devastating lie. Snatched on the day she was born, apparently by the same people she calls her parents, she is forced to learn the reasons for their desperate actions.

Ifetayo Ayassou finally finds the courage to escape her hellish existence as a trafficking victim and, coupled with the difficult healing process, she begins a search for the child she was forced to give away eighteen years ago.

Two women plunged into the underworld of human trafficking, both in search of freedom and truth—and each other. But, will their paths collide?


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Her plan was set in motion. Lea would take her usual long walk to the market as if nothing was different. But then instead of returning to the house at the end of the day, she’d go in the opposite direction. Destination Togo—wherever that might be.

A wave of terrifying exhilaration washed over Lea as she stepped out of her mistress’s house for the last time. A collection of painful memories was contained under that roof, each room telling its own horrific story. The idea of living alone on the street was beyond frightening. She’d done the unthinkable, and while the idea made her panic she had a plan, up to a point.

But, she was free.

For the first time in her life she had a purpose—to find her mother and see for herself if the woman still remembered her or cared about her. Until then, Lea would have to watch her back and find a way to survive. She bit back tears, too afraid to let them fall. For now, the sweet taste of freedom would be her main concern, and it was more gratifying than she could ever have imagined.

The congested marketplace drew her in with its roadside bukas, each stall taunting her with its enticing smells of smoked fish and snacks sizzling in palm oil. Despite the comfort of the familiar surroundings, Lea felt unusually restless today, second-guessing her decision for the hundredth time. She was still in familiar territory and it wasn’t too late to turn back. She took comfort in the busyness of the jostling vendors and the colorful stalls, a sight she knew so well. It would be tempting to return to a life that was at least predictable, even if it was horrendous. No! She had made up her mind. Perhaps there was still a trace of the spirited girl she once was, after all.

The unforgiving Nigerian sun sliced through a thick, gray blanket of cloud, enveloping the village in a shroud of dreary smog. Lea made sure she’d sold about half her quota of loaves, before immersing herself in the crowd and taking her first steps of freedom. The sense of exhilaration mingled with pure terror, but she had to keep going. Freedom must be foremost in her mind. She tried to picture her mother’s face, even though the memory was hazy. Perhaps that would keep her calm and help her to press on. She thought of Mother’s arms around her and wondered if she’d ever see her again. Lea swatted away angry tears. This was no time for pipe dreams; she had to be strong.

Soon Lea was in unfamiliar territory. The crowds thinned and she was alone in a labyrinth of back streets with old, neglected buildings and overgrown gardens. Obeche trees drooped overhead, pinning her with dense overgrowth. She felt claustrophobic and trapped in this strange, lonely world. She kept going, the early stage of blisters searing her swollen feet. She rounded a corner and was thankful for the bustling activity up ahead. An elderly man buzzed past on a whining scooter and a pair of stray dogs chased each other across the street. A family of six sat on the side of the road sharing an afternoon meal. Lea had never been this far down the end of town and she started to panic. It was too late to turn back now. In a few hours it would be dark and Alina would know she wasn’t coming back. She determined in herself that she could not—would not—get caught.

As the crowds thickened, she clutched the baskets carrying the remaining loaves of bread. They were her only possessions, apart from the threadbare notebook wedged deep in her waistband. She kept checking to make sure it hadn’t fallen out along the way, and walked until her feet ached.

Before long, buildings cast elongated shadows across the narrow street and darkness wrapped its arms around her. Lea’s anxiety multiplied as her mind wandered to Auntie Alina. Did the woman know yet that she wasn’t coming back? The thought choked her with fear.



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Sue Searles has written several books, ranging from women’s fiction and short stories to poetry and children’s books. Having worked on various forms of storytelling since childhood, writing has been a lifelong passion.

Now somewhat older and wiser, she is passionate about thinking outside the conventional box, and conveys messages that are thought-provoking and life-changing.

Her inspiration comes mainly from studying people, reading, and daily life.

Sue is happily married and lives in sunny South Africa with her husband and son.