Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas and see you next year!

Helen and I wish all our followers and friends a very Merry Christmas. May you all remember the birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ - not just during the Christmas season, but throughout the year. We hope you all enjoy the coming of 2014 and all that it will hold.

It's the height of summer here and as usual we take our annual break from the blog for the month of January, to enjoy those long lazy summer days. We are looking forward to returning in February 2014 with reviews and news of our adventures!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Helen and Jess

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Jess' 2014: Changes and A Big Adventure!

So as the year rapidly comes to a close, I thought what a good time to start looking forward to 2014! 2013 for me has been a quieter year, my little family have just been happy pottering around this last year. As Helen has shared, I've got the crochet bug! However 2014 is going to be a big year.

My little girl is finally going to preschool! So I will have two days at home by myself! I can't tell you how excited I am. Both of us are ready for this new change. She is so excited about preschool and as her mummy I'm excited for her as I watch her take this new step in life. I'm excited to be able to have some time to myself again.

What are my plans while she is away?

A) Write my book
B) Relax
C) Spend more time on the blog - it has been hard getting reviews out weekly as finding the time to write the reviews is hard when I don't get a break much at all from being a mummy. I've read so much this year that right now, reading is something I need a break from.

What else is on in 2014?

A big Mummy and Eleyna Adventure...3 weeks in the USA!

In March 2014 Eleyna and I will be heading off to visit friends in Virginia and they happen to live close to Washington DC. So for a little while Eleyna and I will be checking out the sites and sounds of DC and its surrounds! We are very excited and I'm also a very nervous Mummy as I'm taking my 3.5 year old all that way on my own. It's 20 hours of flying with only a 2 hour break from the plane....that's a long time to keep a child amused!

So that's my 2014 dreams and goals...what does your next year look like?

Jess' favourite genre is contemporary women's fiction and contemporary romance fiction. She also enjoys historical fiction with a focus on romance. She loves books set in country towns or farms with a cowboy featured in either historical or contemporary settings.

She is currently writing her first novel, a contemporary women's fiction/romance set in a small country town.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Guest Blogger: Michelle Dennis Evans

Many families have Christmas rituals. There are rituals around food, spiritual rituals and activity rituals. In Spiralling Out of Control, the main character’s family finds themselves in a new situation, with no family surrounding them as they had previous years. Stephanie’s father comes up with a brilliant idea summing up the year in one sentence –and they find everyone is willing to be completely honest, something none of them have been through the year.

Do you behave differently at Christmas time? Are you kinder, more forgiving and more generous?

What rituals do you implement every year for Christmas?

Christmas excerpt from Spiralling Out of Control
“Let’s take turns in summing up our year in one sentence.”
“Great idea,” said April. “I’ve made a new best friend, I made it into the state gym team and I think Toowoomba is pretty cool.”
“I’ll go next.” Mum sat forward. “I’ve made new friends too. I’m enjoying working part time and volunteering at school and in the church. I do miss our Sydney friends, but it has been a great year since the move.”
“Your turn, Dad.” Stephanie passed the buck.
“I’m just happy that my family is together. I love working and living in the one city. Life has been simpler since the move. That leaves you, Steph.”
“I’ve made no real friends, I’m beginning to think my boyfriend has dumped me, I got egged on the last day of school, and the job that I’m really enjoying is looking shaky because business is slow. The best part of my year was Jason and now he’s gone.” There were no tears. She clenched her teeth then swallowed her rage as she cast out her frustration. “Horrible. My year has been pathetically horrible!"

Michelle Dennis Evans writes picture books, chapter books, young adult contemporary novels and enjoys dabbling in free verse poetry. Her debut novel Spiralling Out of Control and poetry collection Life Inspired both reached #1 in subcategories on Amazon in their first week of release. Michelle lives on the Gold Coast of Australia with her husband and four super active, super fun and super time consuming children.

Spiralling Out of Control is being launched at the John 3:16 Marketing Network.  Swing by to check out the giveaway.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Looking towards 2014

Hello folks - and happy summer for all us Southern Hemispherians! (Yes okay, that's not a word....)

Those of you who regularly follow our blog will know that Jess has been single handedly keeping this site going.  And with her dedicated efforts, we've seen our blog visits hit record highs.  Thank you Jess, and well done!

Also, thank you to all our readers who continue to visit even though one sister is frequently absent.

I have done little reading in the last few months.  I've struggled about reading on a 'must-do' basis.  My children are at an age where they are needing a lot more intellectual stimulation and they're taking up more of my concentration than before.  But I'm not complaining, I'm loving this phase.

In place of reading these past few months, I've re-taken up crocheting.  It has provided me with a creative outlet, and it's something I can do whilst still listening and talking with my daughters (something I definitely can't do when reading or writing!). I have churned out four little blankets and started some others, a few beanies, a couple of scarves and learned and experimented with new stitches and designs.

If you're looking for someone to blame for this crocheting distraction, please thank my dear sister.  My crochet hook was kicked back in to life when she told me about all these YouTube videos with crocheting instructions.  Jess has been doing a lot of crocheting too ... we've been joking about turning this blog into "The Crochet Sisters".

So where does that leave me on the reading / writing / editing thing?

It's still happening.  But my kids are only young once and these other things will come into their own at the right time.  I have a three year staging plan that is going to bring me back into the writing world.

Next year I'll move into the first stage as we start yet another new phase of life ... the school years. My eldest daughter starts school in January.  I can't tell you how emotional I already am over this. 

My youngest daughter will start preschool one day a week in January - something I'm very much looking forward to, yet can't believe my baby is growing up .... I'm becoming well acquainted with 'bittersweet' as a feeling in this mothering gig.

So you know what this means? Next year I'm going to have one day a week at home on my own!

Oh what to do with my precious day off ... the possibilities are endless, and the temptation to cram it with a myriad of activities (including crocheting!) is great.  But my plan is to use these days in the following way:

1. Finish writing my novel's first draft.
2. Start taking on small editing work.  I'm thinking of doing this on a chapter by chapter basis.  If you're interested in having this sort of work done (rather than contracting and paying for an entire manuscript at once), let me know!

This means I need to say no to any tempting coffee and lunch date invites.

Also, I have been praying about (and still am) where God wants me to focus my attention in ministry work.  This year I have taught Sunday School full time and also led a teen bible study after church.  By the end of the year I've found myself a little worn out and yet the areas in which I can contribute seem to be growing.

For me, 2014 is going to be very different.  An emotional ride, an adventure and a challenge (having to get up, dressed, and make lunches 5 days a week is going to be interesting, particularly in winter!).  I will also need to refocus and make moves towards establishing my editing business.

How will 2014 be different for you?

Helen's favourite genre is historical fiction with a strong romantic element.  She also enjoys contemporary romance, chick-lit and YA.  She's not caught up in the spell of fantasy fiction, despite The Faraway Tree series being a strong influence in her childhood.

Helen is currently working on her first book, a Christian young adult novel set between two opposite but equally fascinating places in Australia.