{book review} The Promise of Rayne by Nicole Deese

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Today I want to tell you about a gorgeous book I just finished that comes out TODAY! There I was, trying to finish writing my novella, when this story came and knocked my socks off. “Unputdownable” is the proper adjective I would use.

About the book:

Rayne Shelby has spent her entire life trying to earn the approval of her high-powered family, with the hope of one day managing her late grandfather’s prestigious Idaho lodge. But when she makes a mistake that puts her future in jeopardy, she faces an impossible choice: defy her family or deny her dream. The only way to fix the mess she’s created is to enlist the help of her neighbor, Levi, the apprentice of her family’s greatest enemy. And if Rayne gets caught crossing the divided property lines, the consequences will be irreparable.

Levi Harding has never forgotten the August night he shared with Rayne when they were teens—or the way she later rejected him. Despite his warring instincts, he can’t ignore her plea for help or the spark that’s ignited between them. But now, as wildfires bear down on their town and family secrets are revealed, their newfound alliance might just go up in smoke.

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My review:

Jiminy. Nicole Deese has truly become one of my must-read authors, and just when I think her stories can’t be any more artfully written, the layers of story and complexity (and chemistry!!) of her characters so masterfully executed, the next story releases.

I loved The Promise of Rayne, couldn’t put it down (like I said), and credit the author for her ability to make readers empathize with these characters in such a rare way. More books, please!

Buy it here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | IndieBound

{friday mixing bowl} trucks, glue muffins, and other updates

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It’s Friday, friends!! I hope you aren’t like me and thought yesterday was Friday too. Did you have one of those weeks? There’s a cure for that, and it’s called Real Friday! Here’s what’s been going on in this neck of the woods:

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You’re hearing this first here, but I am working on a huge rebrand of 1624 Communications with a fresh focus and possibly even some dream collaborations. I can’t wait to unveil it, hopefully around the beginning of the year. But in the meantime….

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After some unexpected events at the beginning of the month, my novella truck is finally chugging along! I’m on track to finish just a week later than planned, by the grace of God. At my writing group last night, we talked about how the creators of Marvel and Pixar admitted that, at some point in the production process of all of their amazing blockbuster movies, they were convinced it was the worst movie ever written. And then they turned into those masterpieces. Well, I have faith that, with a lot of love, this novella project can’t get any worse and will get a whole lot better 🙂

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After my autoimmune symptoms returned this month after two years without them, I’m a few days into a clean-eating challenge — just me, myself, and I. Cutting back on the processed food and sugar and majorly upping my protein and water intake, complete with meal plan spreadsheet in typical Laurie fashion. It feels fantastic and tastes amazing for the most part, but I did make some yogurt muffins the other day that tasted a little like glue. Don’t make muffins that taste like glue, friends.

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  • This butterbeer fudge definitely isn’t clean, but it embodies everything I love about October. My friend Mary Weber recommends making them to help cope with this election season, and I think they’d be perfect to accompany your month-long Harry Potter viewing fest.
  • In the interest of Selah, my holy yoga teacher created a gorgeous and amazing Lectio Divina guide, with an emphasis on REST. I know yoga gets a bad rap with some, but I love her classes that draw their life and meditation and energy on the Word of God. Can’t wait to dig into this weekly plan!
  • Gilmore Girls fans who are personality nerds will love this assessment of the beloved characters’ enneagram numbers!
  • If you’re a pre-published fiction author looking for a great example on doing marketing well, look no further than my friend Teresa Tysinger. She is releasing her first short story via newsletter soon, so be sure to sign up! I’m super excited to read it! (She’s also our author spotlight on The Writer’s Alley today!)

<< in case you missed it >>

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May your weekend be filled with cocoa, cuddles, extra crunchy leaves, and muffins that don’t taste like glue! What are you looking forward to right now?

{friday mixing bowl} what I would buy everyone if I won the lottery…

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Allllll the praise hands that it’s Friday. Seriously, y’all. I am looking forward to a relaxing typical fall weekend because it’s been so crazy here lately. Today, I thought I’d share some cute things I will buy everyone if I ever win the lottery. Don’t think I won’t seriously go all Oprah on you…

I need these tees from J. Lilly’s Boutique in my life. This heathered purple + everything it stands for = so dreamy! And pumpkin + gold + pretty lettering are pretty much the ways to my heart.

If I ever moved, I would light this homemade bread candle until it smelled like home. All of the comfort, none of the gluten! Freckled Hen Farmhouse has the cutest branding and is only located about two hours from me! Their shop has tons of awesome things!

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Someone named Swagrid posted this on Facebook, and I couldn’t agree more: rain, bed fort, Harry Potter movies, and pizza. This day is near the top of my fall wishlist — except maybe stew instead of pizza 🙂

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I just got a massive book box this week. (More on that next week.) But as soon as my book allowance replenishes — it’s magical like that — get thee to my bedside table, gorgeous YA covers and favorite food bloggers!

What’s on your fall wishlist? Is your perfect fall day in the forecast this weekend?

{workspace wednesday} if I light a candle…

Will it inject a little peace into a lot of busy? You bet!

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This is a pretty good representation of life right now.

Work-scattered  //
littered with lots of empty tea mugs //
entertainment awaiting //
shoes worn with many miles //
“tokens of my children’s affection” everywhere.

But warm.

If you light a candle — literally or figuratively — it will always be warm.

october update

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Welcome, October! This is our front door in progress. We still need to get the big pumpkins at the pumpkin patch, and if I’m super ambitious/have a craft night with my friend Cait, I want to make a wreath!

First order of business, the winner of the Can’t Help FALLing Giveaway is Meghan Gorecki! But if you didn’t win, the Kindle edition of Close to You just went on sale TODAY for $1.99. Get it while it’s hot. I promise you’ll gobble it up just in time for October 11 when you can get Can’t Help Falling! 

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When we last spoke, I was in the thick of the final revision read-through for my upcoming release! With the help of gracious family members and a friend who took the kids Friday night so I could press send, it. is. finished. Fly away, little rewrites! And please don’t return too banged up in the next iteration when the real editing begins 🙂

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This is the wild-haired, crazy-eyed look of someone who has finished her deadline…and begun another! For my next trick, I shall write a novella this month. I have a fun spread set up in my bullet journal to track my progress (yes, that says track, not truck!):

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This is my big goal for the month, to be accomplished with early mornings, a little caffeine, and lots of grace. During my normal work hours, I have some fun client projects to finish, and in the second half of the month, I am working on my next proposal for Heartwarming plus any edits they may send my way.

I have an official title and cover coming soon along with news about said novella project, so be sure you’re subscribed to my newsletter for all the juicy tidbits!

{giveaway} Can’t Help FALLing celebration

There are so many fall reads I can’t wait to get my hands on! I will share those after I turn my own book in, but I wanted to share the love about one I’ve ALREADY read:

It’s no secret how much I loved Kara Isaac’s debut novel, Close to You, but the follow-up story coming October 11 is special and enchanting in its own way. Goodness, I loved Can’t Help Falling so much with its mixture of characters dealing with hard pasts, sizzling romantic chemistry, Kara’s signature humor, redemption, and of course, all the nods to Narnia.

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Ahem, it was also a 4.5-star TOP PICK by RT Book Reviews, which is a HUGE deal in the book world. So I promise I’m not just biased as her critique partner 🙂

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To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of Kara Isaac’s first book, Close to You, in which a disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand. I’ll also throw in a $15 Amazon gift card you can use for all of your anticipated fall reads. Simply fill out the Rafflecopter below before October 1.

Good luck, and seriously, if you haven’t discovered Kara Isaac, be sure to add these books to brighten up your fall and winter reading list! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{workspace wednesday} magical beans + Google Keep review

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Last night, my husband sent me to my coffee shop to work, and the beans they roast and grind in-house did their magical thing to my inspiration as usual. I’m telling you, I send this coffee to my sisters, and they report similar happenings when drinking it!

Yesterday that extra cinnamon-y iced chai and well-intended fall decor cured my case of the Mondays on a 97-degree Tuesday that involved a major case of the blahs + forgotten school birthday treats + an iCloud hack with hundreds of texts sent from my phone to Asia in the span of a minute + troubleshooting with Apple customer service and changing/updating every password I own on every device just to be sure. #firstworldproblems

Do you know what else is keeping my inspiration alive besides the aroma of magical beans in the air? GOOGLE KEEP! I mentioned in the last Friday Mixing Bowl post that I discovered it through a friend who knows my nerdy ways, and now that I’ve had the chance to tinker with it, I can tell you that nothing sorts my mess of a mind map better than this app!

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At any given time, there are a million things going on in this brain, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten an idea or story inspiration and said, “THIS IS SO COOL THAT I’LL NEVER FORGET IT.” But after immediately falling back to sleep or a day of client social media or a trip in the car with a certain child I love who is constantly singing — zap! — the idea is gone. Probably to wherever the socks are hiding from the dryer.

In Google Keep, you can add/capture images and audio, make calendar items/reminders directly from the app, and you can create a new note in either checklist or freestyle text format. Plus, each entry can be color-coded and tagged for organizational purposes. Allll the praise hands on that one!

I added it to my home screen so I can just push a button and add to the file to prevent me from forgetting things on the go. I can’t tell you how much I love it!

Where are you working today? Are any new discoveries saving your life right now?

{friday mixing bowl} until boots and sweaters are my world

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I wasn’t going to do a Friday Mixing Bowl post until next week, but there was so much goodness to share today! It’s birthday week for my little lady, so we are soaking up every minute celebrating. Here’s what else we’ve been up to:

 

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Fall arrives in my world when I say it arrives, okay? 🙂 I’ve been burning my favorite fall scent and making lots of soups with the hope that the temperature will soon get the memo. As Jen Hatmaker said this week: September, you need to get right with God.

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My Huckleberry and I cleaned up nicely for a belated birthday date to this bohemian pizzeria downtown. It was enchanting and divine and delicious! Also–mushy alert–after 8.5 years of marriage, this guy still made my knees weak when I saw him walking toward me in the parking lot at the gym yesterday. All the heart eyes for my Huckleberry!

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The home stretch is in sight on this round of rewrites, thanks to real coffee. Yes, you read that correctly. Real coffee. Voluntarily. Even if only once.

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May I introduce you to the most perfect shirt for me in the history of the world? Okay, maybe tied with something that has Chewbacca’s face on it. I am a sucker for 90s R&B — sucker! — and though love is more than just all the feels, those songs, y’all. *Swoon*

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My hip flexors are lifting up the praise hands because our gym added a Holy Yoga class just when they need it in the very middle of the week! While I’ve always loved yoga for the physical benefits and the mental benefits always taken in the context of my Christian beliefs, these classes actually draw from specific scriptures and biblical truths woven throughout the stretching and bending and balancing. If you need me on Wednesdays at noon, you know where I’ll be.

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Speaking of yoga, my brilliant friend Katie is developing an amazing resource. If you have a creative bone in your body, please take her quick, two-minute survey to help make her project as awesome as it can be. If you’ve never done yoga, I promise you don’t know what you’re missing and your body and renewed relaxation will thank you!

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In the spirit of fall, here is the shade I’ve deemed my signature fall nail color — Essie’s Angora Cardi. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted, and I absolutely adore it!

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I feel like the worst list-lover in the world because I hadn’t heard of Google Keep. Someone in my writing group told me about it this week, and I immediately downloaded it. So far, it sounds like a simpler version of Evernote, which is a little too much for me, yet with more functionality than the generic iPhone Notes app that currently hoards all of my mind’s various info dumps. I’ll report my progress when I’ve had the chance to explore it more, but I feel like it’s going to be a game-changer for those 2am bursts of inspiration.

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  • Swooning over everything in this list from Bookstr: “Fall Reading is Wonderful
  • I made this mixed berry crumble from Taste’s Lovely for community group this week, and it was tres delish! Benefits: 1) uses frozen berries, so no need to defrost and 2) likely doesn’t require a trip to the grocery store and 3) delicious!
  • What if brave is really dancing the two-step with doubt? “You’re Braver Than You Know” by Holley Gerth for (in)courage was one of my favorite reads this week!
  • There was a Friday Night Lights reunion and the president of Team Riggins was not invited. It’s fine. Totally freaked out anyway. I still have clear eyes, full heart, and can’t lose 🙂

Even if boots and sweaters and hot cocoa may not be in your forecast this weekend if you live anywhere near me, I hope you capture some coziness this weekend!

What have you been up to this week? Have you discovered anything brilliant lately?