what I learned in 2017


I should open this post in disbelief that it’s already 2018, but I was ready. My fresh start began toward the end of the year, and I couldn’t be more excited about what’s changing and what’s to come. Here in Oklahoma, it’s a balmy 16 degrees, and you can find me curled up with a steaming mug of soup, all wrapped up in children and cozy knits.

But more on the present and future later. For now, I will recap the silly, serious, important, and entirely trivial things I learned this year…

  • We went to California in December, and seeing things through the eyes of my children — meeting their animated heroes in real life at Disneyland; dipping their toes in the ocean for the first time — was WAY better than living it first-hand. Same for all the things they noticed about Christmas a year older. You can’t reproduce that WONDER in their eyes as they witness and process and absorb for the first time.
  • My friend Mollie taught me the S-T-A-R-S method for Scripture application, and it gave the practice new meaning in my life. For one, using the word “practice” couldn’t accurately describe my Bible reading habits before 2017. But it gave new meaning to the living, breathing aspects of the Word + the authority, which I learned will always be an unfolding, evolving, mysterious journey with the Lord.


  • After tasting Antoinette Baking Co’s magical strawberry buttercream, it’s official: I am no longer a chocolate dessert kind of girl. What is this blasphemy?
  • Sometimes your football team loses nailbiter after nailbiter after nailbiter, shaving off years of your life by building up hope and then swiftly cutting its legs from beneath you it with last-minute heartbreak. And you realize: this is exactly what you wished for last season. 2016’s team would have lost those games handily, after all. We have to take the bruised bottoms with the stumbling steps forward 🙂
  • Celine Dion is absolutely brilliant live. I’ve always liked her music and thought she was *pretty* talented. But on stage? That voice! I’m still feeling all the feels from her show.

  • There is true RESTORATION in silencing the mind and being completely still on a regular basis. Even for a few moments.
  • Ever since my son was born, I’ve been waiting for him to be old enough for preschool. I thought all of my work-life-home balance problems would be solved, but it turns out that sometimes too much time can be bad for people like me. Sometimes it lends itself to too much navel-gazing, no matter how busy I am or how many things I get done.
  • While I love the romance genre (and, um, write it–shhh!), I enjoy true women’s fiction with a romantic thread just a little bit more. In Muggle-speak, that’s fiction in which the primary storyline surrounds a woman’s journey (or non-romantic relationship), and her romance is merely a secondary thread.
  • Using your own name as your platform can sometimes be bittersweet. I usually give my husband and mom a mini photo book of social media images from the whole year, but this Christmas, there weren’t enough. My 2017 feed was full of carefully curated snapshots of bright books and bowls of oatmeal and tidy workspaces. While there was definitely lots of living happening outside of those social media squares, this year there will be more documenting chubby toddler cheeks, date night hijinks, and soccer princess shenanigans. My 2017 blog will include more of non-authorly me, too 🙂

What is one silly or important, deep or Jeopardy-trivial thing you learned in 2017? Do share in the comments!

on time management + the best-laid schemes

“Am I being led by love or pushed by fear?” – Emily P. Freeman

With the help of my Lara Casey / Cultivate What Matters Powersheets, I have been identifying big goals and little goals every month to help make sure I’m answering that question right.

While it’s good to see a framework of how I want my month to look and what I want to accomplish, if we’re honest, my to-dos have been pushed to the next month more often than not. One of the reasons is because we’re just getting into a good school rhythm around here. (Yes, I realize that it’s November!)

So one of my November goals was to design and implement a massive overhaul of my daily routine, which I did the first day of the month…

…and promptly went down with high fever and strep throat that picked off one family member at a time. Good perspective building from the get-go, I tell you 🙂

Please bear in mind that I will never abide by a hard-and-fast schedule. If one of my friends is having a day and suggests setting our minions loose at Chick Fil A for an hour or two, who am I to argue? If my toddler didn’t sleep well and needs to take an earlier nap? Picking up dish soap and chicken cutlets can wait.

It’s more of an evaluation of:

  • What will help me and the people I’m in charge of grow and move forward this month?
  • What’s been slipping through the cracks too much lately?
  • What excess and unnecessary can I remove?
  • Where is there white space in my days that can make the important things happen?

Would you believe me if I told you I’m NOT a natural planner? It’s true. My mind is actually quite the hot mess of need cilantro and schedule dentist appointment and maybe this could happen in chapter 2? at any given time. I didn’t start setting goals or keeping a planner until college when I had three jobs, 18 credit hours, intramural sports, a really fun friend group, and a very real, very intense fear of missing out. It was kind of necessary.

The truth is: If I don’t make a list or give myself a big-picture, I spend a lot of time procrastinating or overthinking what needs to be done next. That’s my human nature and the tendency I’ve learned to adapt. 

But as much as I believe in managing the work, the chores, the appointments, and tasks, I think it’s equally important to create margin for rest and play. That doesn’t come naturally to me, either. I tend to feel guilty and stressed about taking time to rest and play when there are things I need to be getting done. What I’ve learned at the ripe age of 32, though? Guilt and stress only breed burnout and indecision. And I am actually less likely to move and make progress when I’m frozen in burnout and indecision. It’s kind of like starting off too fast in a race and finishing more slowly than you would have at a manageable pace. Or getting a speeding ticket and arriving late to your destination anyway.

So this month, I’m focusing on revamping my routine, finishing projects that have been vacillating for months, being intentional about family time instead of multitasking, keeping a daily gratitude log on my Facebook for perspective, working ON my business instead of just working in it, and recharging well (with things that actually fill me up instead of just shutting down in front of Netflix).

Are you a natural planner? Have you revamped your routine lately?

NaNoWriMo resources


Pep Talks:

Helpful Links:

Fall Favorites Giveaway

To celebrate fall and my extreme gratitude for those who have helped spread the word about With No Reservations’ e-book sale, let’s do a giveaway!

One winner chosen in the Rafflecopter below will win a fall-themed bundle including:

  • Signed paperback for a friend
  • Bath & Body Works LEAVES Candle
  • Pumpkin Campfire mug generously provided by the super talented AstroBarn Design. (You’re going to want to follow her on Instagram pronto!)
  • Cozy fall blanket scarf generously provided by my favorite clothing boutique, Sashy Pants (Visit their website or find them on Facebook or Instagram to see their cute offerings!)

Ways to spread the word:

I can’t thank you all enough! Here’s how to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2017 ACFW conference mix & mingle

It’s this week, y’all!!

Welcome to the fifth annual pre-conference mix and mingle, the event with the cheesy name but serious fun. In case you’re new here and have no idea what this is all about, it’s just a little link up with questions that help us get to know each other before conference arrives. I’ve loved the opportunity to “meet” people ahead of time, especially that first year in Indianapolis when I was a newbie  🙂 At the bottom of this post, there’s a little link-up with friends who will be there and their own get-to-know-you posts.

Here’s how to play:

– Copy/paste the questions and fill out your own answers in a post on your own website and paste the URL to that specific post (not your homepage) using this handy link-up tool. Just click on the button below that says “Add your link”. If you don’t have a website, feel free to answer the questions in the comments below!

– Make sure to link back to this post after you fill out your answers so any of your readers who are conference attendees can participate, too! The more, the merrier.

– Click through the links below to get to know other conference attendees!

Here are my answers!

Name: Laurie Tomlinson

Location: Tulsa, OK

What you write/tagline/trademark: I write clean + inspirational contemporary romance!

Place in the book world: Published author of one novel and one novella with a few projects currently on submission.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: All the hugs.

Something VERY serious: How do you take your Starbucks? Not a coffee drinker, but chai or iced Passion-Tango tea, please!

The unique talking points that will get you going for hours: Planners, pens, cooking, Texas Longhorns football, and whatever TV show I’m currently watching (Try Firefly)!

Loved ones at home you’ll be missing: My husband, 6-year-old daughter, and 2-year-old son. You’d better believe I’ll be missing my yellow Lab snuggles, too!

Conference goals we can pray for? I’ll only be there Friday and Saturday, but I’m praying for productive writing time and fellowship <3

Anything we can celebrate with you? Two book releases since our last conference: That’s When I Knew in the Love at First Laugh collection and With No Reservations, published by Harlequin Heartwarming!

One or two ways we can help you build your platform? You can like my author page on Facebook and sign up for my email list by clicking here!

Your turn!

Be sure to check out who’s going to conference as (hopefully) the links start showing up!

recent inspirational nonfiction reads

This summer,  I made a goal to read at least one nonfiction book a month, and it has been a treat! I picked up a few books on sale that turned out to be gems, so sparkling and truth-filled that I bought the paperback versions immediately. Here’s what I read this summer:

Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker

From the publisher: Starting with that guarantee from the most faithful friend who ever lived—Jesus—this book is a step-by-step guide to friendships you can trust. It answers the questions that lurk under the surface of every friendship—What are we afraid of? What can’t we change? What can we change? And where do we start?—with personal stories and practical tips to help you make the friends, and be the friend, that lasts.

Ever since I found that first Lisa-Jo Baker article, I’ve called her my Internet BFF, the older sister who has gone before with all the wisdom that helps us feel not alone. She tackles today’s friendship, celebrating community among women and showing us how to be the friend our friends need.

Get it here: http://amzn.to/2viXaOq

Wild & Free by Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan

From the publisher: Wild and Free is an anthem and an invitation in equal parts to find freedom from the cultural captivity that holds us back, and freedom to step into the wild and holy call of God in our lives. With fresh biblical insight tracing all the way back to Eve and a treasury of practical application, Jess and Hayley reveal how women today can walk in the true liberty we already have in Jesus.

I loved this book and highlighted a truth bomb on every page. These women really know their Scripture and urged me to dig deeper to explore the way culture has shaped women and the way God intended us to be. Perfect for women who have ever felt like they are too much and not enough at the same time.

Get it here: http://amzn.to/2uZf460

Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner

From the publisher: In Chasing Slow, Erin turns away from fast and fame and frenzy. Follow along as she blazes the trail toward a new-fashioned lifestyle—one that will refresh your perspective, renew your priorities and shift your focus to the journey that matters most. 

Since I loved Shauna Niequist’s Present Over Perfect, I didn’t know what I was going to take away from this book. But it’s much more of a memoir-style — and her voice. Wow. The writing style is filled with gorgeous metaphors and clever turns of phrase. She illustrates what she learned about grace and surrender in a beautiful, artful way.

Get it here: http://amzn.to/2w6o7lR

Coming this fall: I’ve gotten to take a sneak peek at these books coming out in the fall. From reconcilation and peace to reclaiming holiness over cheapened grace, I promise you won’t want to miss them!

Shalom Sistas by Osheta Moore

In Shalom Sistas, Osheta Moore shares what she learned when she challenged herself to study peace in the Bible for forty days. Taking readers through the twelve points of the Shalom Sistas’ Manifesto, Moore experiments with practices of everyday peacemaking and invites readers to do the same. From dropping “love bombs” on a family vacation, to talking to the coach who called her son the n-word, to spreading shalom with a Swiffer, Moore offers bold steps for crossing lines between black and white, suburban and urban, rich and poor. What if a bunch of Jesus-following women catch a vision of a vibrant, whole, flourishing world? What happens when Shalom Sistas unite?

More here: http://amzn.to/2uZioOz

Dance Stand Run by Jess Connolly

Dance, Stand, Run is an invitation to the daughters of God to step into the movements of abundant life: dancing in grace, standing firm in holiness, and running on mission. Through story and study, Jess casts a fresh vision for how to live into your identity as a holy daughter of God, how to break free of cheap grace and empty rule-keeping, and finally, how to live out your holy influence with confidence before a watching world. Spoiler alert: it’s a beautiful thing.

For anyone longing to take their place in what God is doing in the world, Dance, Stand, Run will rally your strength, refresh your purpose, and energize your faith in a God who calls us to be like Him.

Check it out here: http://amzn.to/2ujSvqY

What have you enjoyed reading this summer?

scenes from a first book signing

Before kids, I was a full-time book publicist for several years. And boy did I hear the local author event horror stories. Fortunately, my first book signing last Saturday was far from that. It was a magical bucket list experience, thanks to my amazing community of family and friends.

The staff at Barnes & Noble had a table and sign situated close to the entrance. The better for awkward eye contact with unsuspecting shoppers 🙂

I lured them in with freshly baked treats — or at least freshly picked up from The Fresh Market. And my people showed up <3

I’m seriously still smiling from how fun it was that day. My husband was out of the country, so my sister-in-law Bethany stayed with me all day as new and old friends came by.

After the event, I reunited with my favorite littles for a special date night downtown with pizza and the most magical strawberry cupcakes.

And thus concluded my first book signing! Thank you so much to everyone who came, whether we got to take a picture or not, and to the fabulous staff at Barnes & Noble for taking the chance on a debut author! It was an amazing first experience 🙂

a thank you giveaway

We are well into June now, but I’m still smiling from a whirlwind release month. Thank you so much to everyone who has stepped into Cooper and Sloane’s world and helped spread the word about their story — AND Nick and Chelsea’s, for that matter!

I wish I could bake everyone Sloane’s toffee chocolate chip cookies for their love and support, but I do have a few things to give away.

In honor of Sloane’s spreadsheet-loving ways and the fact that Chelsea from That’s When I Knew runs a planner business, our grand prize is a set of undated, six-month Cultivate What Matters Powersheets, a signed paperback of With No Reservations, and an electronic copy of the Love at First Laugh novella collection featuring That’s When I Knew. You can keep it for yourself or pay it forward to a friend.

If you’ve followed me on social media for any length of time, you know how much I love my Powersheets. They’re not a planner but a set of worksheets that help you identify your goals at the beginning, sort through what’s working and not working for you in your efforts, and include a section for each month to prioritize and create action steps so you can make progress. I have used them to motivate myself to go to the gym more, reach writing goals, form new habits, and be more intentional about my YESes and NOs.

They promote progress not perfection, designed to be messy and meaningful. Right now, they’re sold out until next year, but I snagged a teal set because I’d love to help one of my friends reach his/her goals in the second half of 2017. Three other winners will get copies of my sisters’ novels, Then There Was You by Kara Isaac, the Of Rags and Riches historical romance collection featuring my sisters Anne Love and Jaime Jo Wright, and Sarah Varland’s latest romantic suspense, Perilous Homecoming.

(ETA: Giveaway closed and winners have been notified!)

To enter, comment telling us what dream or habit you would use the Powersheets for. (Or if you just want some books!)

For additional entries, you can leave separate comments telling me if you have:

Thank you so much, y’all! I’m convinced I have the best friends and readers <3 While I can’t bake cookies for everyone, you can find Sloane’s cookie recipe and more by downloading this free PDF! Bon appetit!

With No Reservations Kindle Fire Giveaway!

My debut novel, With No Reservations,
releases NEXT MONTH!

It’s a clean contemporary romance I originally wrote three years ago that features a reclusive food blogger and a high-profile chef whose pasts hold them hostage in the present, a restaurant opening, a dash of OCD, a Ferris wheel, a farmers market, an unlikely romance, and a lot of food. For character profiles, the story behind the story, and more bonuses, click here! You can pre-order by clicking the button below, but seriously. Don’t read on an empty stomach 🙂

Get Your Copy Here

Enter the With No Reservations Kindle Fire Giveaway!

With No Reservations Kindle Fire Giveaway

To celebrate and spread the word, I’ve giving away a Kindle Fire, signed paperback, and my favorite Daily Grace Co Daily Notepad! Enter here:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

{friday mixing bowl} spring and other things in the air!

Happy Friday, friends! After a week of winter and another of summer (??), spring is finally in the air here. Here’s what we’ve been up to.

My very first box of author copies arrived yesterday! It was surreal and way more emotional than I thought it would be to: 1)  hold a book in my hand and 2) open it to see words I spent years writing and rewriting. Wow. Just wow. So this is With No Reservations, a clean contemporary romance about food and healing. I don’t have its section up on my Books page yet, but you can read more about it (and pre-order, if you’d like) on Amazon or mark it To-Read on Goodreads. Eeeeee!

Speaking of food, I’ve been watching a lot of the Great British Bake-Off on Netflix and told a friend that I was almost as proud of making this as I was for having my kids. A little exaggeration there? Maybe. It’s the Deep Dish Chocolate Cream Pie from Tastemade, and it has a delicious amount of espresso in the filling, coffee lovers. Like the pie version of a Jamocha Shake.

I’ve been working on a three-book proposal and a client editing project this month, but I’m excited to get back to work on my new website and a brand new manuscript of my own next month <3

From emergency appendix surgeries to computer glitches to back-to-back-to-back-to-back illnesses in my house, it seems like it’s been two steps forward, ten steps back with my March goals. But I’m still here, working hard, trying to be diligent about rest, and incredibly grateful to get to do what I love. The Lord is faithful and generous. I’m so grateful for how much He loves me through you all! So please remind me of that next month when I’m in the thick of training for my 5K race on April 29. *Cringe*

While we’re on the subject of friendship and loving well, I’m so excited about this book! Lisa-Jo Baker is my internet BFF whose words always make me feel like I’m sitting across from the older sister I never had with warm cups of tea between us. Every woman needs the wise insight of someone who’s gone before them, and Lisa-Jo has a lot to share about friendship, mean-girl-PTSD, and more in Never Unfriended. If you pre-order before April 4, you can enter your purchasing details on the book’s website and get a bunch of goodies 🙂 I’ll be including it in an upcoming post about my Spring TBR pile. So many good ones releasing soon!

< link love >

source: CrunchyCreamySweet.com

  • My son’s second birthday is next week, and I’m making these Birthday Cake Mix Cookies from Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet for our little family party! Aren’t they so cheerful?
  • One of my biggest priorities this year is to deepen my study of Scripture. (Okay, if we’re honest, to start really studying Scripture.) But look at this new Bible from one of my favorite Bible study resources, She Reads Truth! It’s beautiful, has a ton of features like timelines/reading plans, and is designed to make the Bible easier to navigate, which is great for people like me who know the vitality of diving into the Word but need a little help in the discipline department. I’m going to make this (one of) my book release present(s) to myself 🙂
  • Self-protection can cost us our heart: SO much wisdom in this article from the International House of Prayer about Keeping an Open Heart When Relationships Fail.
  • Making this Crispy Parmesan Chicken with Lemon Pasta for dinner tonight. It’s so springy and delicious with a side of asparagus or peas! The Recipe Critic has some great meal ideas.
  • Everyone’s favorite Lin-Manuel Miranda created a playlist for writer’s block, which The Nerdist wrote about here. Can’t wait to check it out, and I know it will prevent so much *headdesking* from creatives everywhere 🙂

< around the web >

So grateful for and blown away by all the love for our little novella collection. Getting Nick and Chelsea’s story into the world has been such a fun and humbling experience. We have been featured/reviewed on:

Teresa Tysinger | Amanda Everett’s Spring Break Reads | Faithfully Bookish’s First Line Friday | Alexis Goring’s God is Love Blog | Fantastic Fiction | Book, Line, and Sinker | Bibliophile Reviews | The Robin’s Nest

Is it spring where you live yet? What are you cooking and reading this weekend?