The Camino Continues!

I’m excited to share the cover of BELOW NORTHERN LIGHTS, coming November 2017! Isn’t it pretty? 🙂

As a spin-off companion to Beneath Wandering Stars (meaning it can stand on its own and you don’t necessarily need to read the first book to “get it”), BELOW NORTHERN LIGHTS follows Gabi, Seth, and Lucas’s adventures along a new pilgrimage route…in the Scottish Highlands! Here’s the synopsis:

Nineteen-year-old war veteran Lucas Santiago is grappling with the knowledge that he’ll never walk again when he learns his best friend, Seth, hasn’t returned from his solo trek through Scotland. If Seth doesn’t report back soon, he’s risking an AWOL charge that could end his military career.

Lucas has no desire to leave the house, let alone brave a foreign country in a wheelchair, following bizarre clues Seth left behind. But Lucas’s sister, Gabi—who has feelings for Seth—won’t take no for an answer. The one thing Lucas never expects when he agrees to Gabi’s harebrained scheme is meeting Skye, a young British veteran with a traumatic past of her own. Skye also has unwavering confidence and a thirst for adventure—qualities Lucas sorely lacks as he struggles to adjust to his new life.

The trio sets off on a road trip to search for Seth in the Scottish Highlands, where it becomes clear to Lucas that if he ever hopes to win the heart of an irresistible force like Skye, he’ll need to resurrect the fearless fighter he used to be. He’s falling hard for Skye, but can he again fall in love with life?

The Ultimate Pilgrimage

I’m fortunate, in that without being wealthy (or anywhere close), I’ve managed to do quite a bit of traveling, thanks to a combination of tax payer dollars (i.e. growing up in the U.S. military), school scholarships, and a general awareness of budget travel options and how to find good deals.

It dawned on me the other day that I’ve visited some of the most of the important pilgrimage sites of the Western world (this is what you do when you double major in history and religion): the Camino de Santiago in Spain (the setting for my debut novel, Beneath Wandering Stars); Rome, Italy; Lindisfarne, England; Constantinople/Istanbul in Turkey.

So what does one give such a travel geek for Christmas?

Why, the icing on the cake: a trip to the Holy Land, of course!

As a Christmas/Anniversary/Last Pre-Baby Adventure, my wonderful husband planned a surprise visit to Israel, perhaps the most important pilgrimage site of all and a fascinating part of the world where East meets West. ‘Adventure’ is exactly the right word. There’s nothing like traveling to Bethlehem when pregnant (so poignant, right?) only for your tour bus to hit a pole hanging off a cement mixer, shattering your window into a million pieces that cascade all over your pregnant body (not to worry – amazingly, I didn’t get a scratch)! Out of all 50 people on that bus, I chose the worst possible seat. Maybe I should have followed Mary’s example and taken a donkey.

Besides that incident, it was a safe, beautiful, and powerful experience, as you can see below.

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Favorite Christmas Reads

The holiday season is the perfect time to curl up by the fire with a good book. It’s also a time of nostalgia, where I find myself returning to old favorites again and again. Here are a few of my favorite books to read around Christmas…what are some of yours?

icechildThe Ice Child by Evangeline Denmark

A brand new addition to my holiday reading list, this YA novelette has everything you could want in a winter story — magic, atmosphere, and a touching romance. Read my full review here.

 

 

 

littlewomenLittle Women by Louisa May Alcott

One of those childhood classics you keep reading the rest of your life. I love the 1994 film adaptation as well — the perfect movie to watch while baking Christmas cookies.

 

 

 

the-lord-of-the-rings-book-coverThe Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

I’m not sure if other people feel the urge to read these books again around the holidays, but I do — probably because my first date with my husband was to go see the first LOTR movie when it came out in December 2001. 🙂

 

 

achristmascarolA Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Christmas classic. I love this story more and more each time I read it.

 

 

 

Now grab a mug of eggnog or hot chocolate and get reading! Merry Christmas!

October Reads

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“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

~Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables

Once again, Anne sums it up perfectly. I love October.  Changing leaves, spiced cider, Halloween–what’s not to love? And for the past few years, October has been one of those months where I always seem to receive some good news. It’s also a time when I’m in the mood for atmospheric books with a darker edge. This month I’ve been re-visiting one of my favorite Ray Bradbury novels, Something Wicked This Way Comes, which I found along with Cormac MacCarthy’s The Road while perusing my favorite local bookstore. What have you been reading this October?

 

Authors on the Air!

This week has been an eventful one of new adventures — I got to participate in my first podcast interview on the show SCRIBES, which was live on the radio first! Do you like podcasts? I LOVE podcasts — I love listening to them while doing dishes, while folding laundry, while going for an afternoon jog. If you’re an aspiring writer (or an aspiring anything, really), podcasts are a wonderful way to learn more about the publishing industry and hear the perspectives of the people who work within it. I hope I added something somewhat beneficial to this conversation! 🙂 It was really wonderful talking to my editor at Merit Press, Jacquelyn Mitchard — a NYT bestselling author and a lovely person. AND, as you’ll hear in the interview, it turns out that as a young writer Jackie was mentored by the legendary Ray Bradbury–one of my all-time favorite authors (and I would argue one of the most important American writers of the last 50 years). Enjoy this interview with Authors on the Air!

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