Thursday, 19 January 2017

Book Recommendation ~ Once Upon a Cowboy by Lacy Williams

Book Description:

Book 1 in the Cowboy Fairytales series from a USA TODAY bestselling author

A princess on-the-run finds sanctuary where she least expects it…

After nearly dying in an assassination attempt, Princess Alessandra of Glorvaird escapes to a place no one would ever think to look for her: small town Oklahoma and a ranch staffed by a herd of wooly, uncouth cowboys. One cowboy in particular gets under her skin, until she sees his softer side. She knows this interlude can’t last forever, but that doesn’t stop her from wishing it might…

Former Navy SEAL Gideon Hale might’ve rescued the princess from freezing to death, but the soldier doesn’t trust easily—or at all—especially when his gut tells him Alessandra is keeping secrets. But as Alessandra begins to fit into his life, he discovers another side to the princess—one that he can’t help but like.

When Alessandra’s enemies close in, Gideon must fight to save the woman who has become so much more than a princess…

Once Upon a Cowboy is a contemporary western retelling of the Snow White fairytale and Book 1 in the Cowboy Fairytales series.

Narelle's Thoughts: 

I've been a fan of Lacy's books for many years, and I enjoyed reading the first novella in her new Cowboy Fairytales series. A princess heroine and a cowboy hero is a winning combination for me in a contemporary romance.

The story opens with Alessandra's life in danger. She manages to escape from NYC wearing her ballgown, and lands in a sleepy Oklahoma town where she meets Gideon. A former Navy SEAL, Gideon is intrigued by the princess he calls Allie. Gideon takes on the responsibility of protecting Allie from an unknown enemy. He hasn't dated in a long time, and eyebrows are raised when the cowboy returns to the family ranch with a beautiful and cultured woman by his side.

Allie is fascinated by life on the ranch, and she's willing to get her hands dirty to help out. She's drawn to Gideon, a man who originally reminded her of a bear with his shaggy beard and grumpy manner. She gets to know him during her short stay on his ranch, knowing she'll return to the palace and her royal duties.

Once Upon a Cowboy is a fun fairytale romance based on Snow White's story. The suspense element in the story worked well, and led to a satisfying and romantic happily-ever-after ending. The faith element is low key, and the characters draw on their faith when disaster strikes. I recommend this western contemporary romance novella to readers who enjoy modern day fairytale romances.

Book 2 in the series, Cowboy Charming, is now available. To learn more about Lacy Williams and her books, please visit her website.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Library Love

by Jeanette O'Hagan

My first memory of a library was a small room, about the size of a broom cupboard, at the Mt Isa Mines State School. It was grade 3, I didn't have friends to play with during the breaks. A teacher introduced me to the library, and I took to reading like silverfish to paper.  By the time I left that school at the end of Grade 4, I think I'd read every title on the shelf, including The Last of the Mohicans. (My school reports often suggested that I needed to read more to improve my atrocious spelling, much to the amusement of my mother, who had limited me to reading one book a day).

These days, I frequent our local library, putting books on hold or browsing the return shelves for great books to read. I not sure I could manage the Popsugar Reading challenges without the library's help. I've even been thrilled to find copies from authors I know personally on the shelves - Helene Young, Rosanne Hawke, Adele Jones, Paula Vince. Libraries help with my book budget. They mean I can walk into my bedroom with only a few (okay four) groaning bookcases and (five-ish) to-read book piles on my floor and desk.

Libraries are great for authors too:

Unlike second-hand and thrift shop books, libraries pay royalties to authors. While this isn't as much as royalties through the sale of the book, for some authors it can be significant as a book may be borrowed many times.

Readers can also request the librarian get in books and even take suggestions for book club sets. By requesting books by our favourite Australasian Christian authors - we then make those books more visible and available to other readers.

Writers may also approach libraries with their books, either as a potential sale or as a donation. Generally, the book will need an ISBN, and be registered with NLA and preferably be with a library distributor - but a many indie authors have had success in approaching local or regional libraries.

In Australia, the National Library of Australia (NLA) keeps a copy of all books published in Australia and/or Australian Authors. Your local State Library will expect a copy as well.

Charis Joy Jackson, Lynne Stringer and Jeanette O'Hagan at BOBY 2015

I'm not sure if there is anything similar in other States - but in Queensland, the Queensland Writers' Centre (QWC) and State Library of Queensland (SLQ) produce a catalogue of all Queensland books published in the year - Books in Our Back Yard (registrations are currently open until the end of the month for 2016 publications). They hold an event to launch the catalogue, with the books in the catalogue displayed on the SLQ shelves.

Libraries often hold book clubs meetings, meet-the-author or book themed events. They often have rooms available for hire that can be used for writers' groups, book launches and author talks.  Holding a book event in a library has obvious advantages, especially if the librarians help promote the event - as most people who frequent libraries also love books. (Some may be be there to level up their pokemon.)

I think we are blessed in Australia and New Zealand to have so many free council libraries, as well as the State and National Libraries.

What about you? Do you use your local library? What do you like about it?

I know that some of you have had experiences with book launches and events at libraries and would love to hear about your experiences. Have you any advice on how best to approach libraries?

Images © Jeanette O'Hagan

Jeanette O’Hagan first started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of nine. She enjoys writing fiction, poetry, blogging and editing.

Jeanette is writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series—a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements. She is about to launch Lakwi's Lament: a short story next week and she recently launched Heart of the Mountain: a short novella and The Herbalist's Daughter: a short story. Other short stories and poems are published in a number of anthologies including Glimpses of Light, Another Time Another Place and Like a Girl.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and, more recently, a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life and communicating God’s great love. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

You can find her at her Facebook Page or at Goodreads or on Amazon or on her websites or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes .

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Scales of Deception

By Keona Tann

So just what is deception? One definition is that deception is a trick or a scheme used to get what you want. Such as the deception you used to get your sibling to agree to do your jobs for you. If we look at the Latin origin two meaning are used – ‘from’ and ‘to take’. I interpret that to mean that when we deceive someone we may be taking from them something of great value! When we are deceived something of great value can be taken from us.
In John chapter 8 we are warned that the Devil is the father of lies!
During my illness deception was like having scales on my eyes; scales on my heart; scales on my mind; and scales on my spirit! Everything was distorted because of those scales!
The devil deceived me of who I was - he had stolen my identity!
I was deceived about what I could achieve - I believed that the little I could do was worthless! So my value was stolen!
I was deceived about my faith – the devil mocked me and constantly told me how God continued to let me suffer! My faith was distorted!
I was deceived about God's goodness and grace – it was stolen from me!
I couldn’t see my value and I couldn’t see the purpose in all my suffering. All I could see was the pain and the lies that I was not worthy!

In contrast to the father of lies we have a heavenly Father of truth and justice as declared in Isaiah 45: God has bold promises for us. If we seek Him we can find Him. The LORD speaks only what is true and declares only what is right! God has spoken the truth and will never go back on His word! Every knee will bend to God and every tongue will declare allegiance to Him! (NLT paraphrased).
God reminded me that I'm a child of God!
God reminded me that I can do all things, that He sets before me to do, for the Lord strengthens us for good works!
God is faithful!
God is good!
God is gracious!
God is mighty to save!

I am so grateful that Jesus broke through that place and removed the scales from me!
2 Corinthians chapter 3 talks about the Glory of the New Covenant, that this new glorious covenant enables us to be right with God! Then it continues into chapter 4 in verses 1 and 2 where it promises that God is merciful and gives us a ‘new way’ if we never give up! We are urged to reject all shameful deeds; underhanded methods; tricks and distortions of God’s word.
Today embrace that new covenant! Cry out to God; ask Him to make a way forward; ask Him to enable you to live in truth and wisdom!

Proverbs 12 verse 20 warns us about plotting evil as it will have deceit fill our hearts. The verse implores us to plan peace so that joy will reside in our hearts. Seek God for His peace that transcends your own understanding, so that He may fill you with joy! This is promised in Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV): “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

“When something robs you of your peace of mind, ask yourself if it is worth the energy you are expending on it. If not, then put it out of your mind in an act of discipline. Every time the thought of “it” returns, refuse it.” Kay Arthur

So with this all in mind, let us grasp hold of God’s wonderful promises for us! Let’s allow Him to remove all lies and deceit from our lives so we can fully embrace the Glorious New Covenant and be right with God!

Keona Tann has lived most of her life in the beautiful Australian state - Tasmania. She has been married to her college sweetheart for over 20 years. Keona and her husband consider themselves extremely blessed to be raising 2 wonderful teenagers. They have also been long time child sponsors with Compassion. Keona's working life has seen her develop over 15 years of customer service experience. Health issues have plagued her for 28 years and over the past 2 years have been severely debilitating. Seeking direction from God her passion for writing was recently reignited. Writing the following mission statement: "I desire to impact the world through the words I share. I long to enrich, empower and encourage others whilst delivering my stories with empathy and understanding." she hopes to launch her new career soon.

Monday, 16 January 2017

What is Vanity Publishing? (Part One)

By Iola Goulton

Last week I briefly covered the main paths to publishing. This week, I'm covering how to spot a vanity publisher, and looking at the (sometimes) fuzzy area of author services.

The most important maxim to remember in relation to publishing is simple:

Money flows from the publisher to the author

If money is flowing from the author to the publisher, that’s commonly referred to as vanity publishing, and that's one of the first ways you can tell whether a publisher is a vanity press: they claim they are not.

Trade publishers don't need to say this: savvy writers (and readers) know who they are. It's simple to work out: just look at the logos on the spines in your bookshelf, or visit your local bookstore and check out who publishes your favourite books.

In contrast, Tate Publishing state "we are not a vanity press". Deep River describe themselves as a "third way" between traditional publishing and vanity publishing. WestBow Press are a "self-publishing company". America Star Books (previously known as Publish America) "adhere to the traditional publishing concept".

But how is an author to tell the difference?

Follow the money. 

Look at how the publisher is making money. How can you tell this? The easiest way is to look at their advertising to determine what the publisher is selling:

1. The Publisher is Advertising Themselves

Look at the publisher's internet site. Is the home page advertising their books ... or their publishing services? Trade publishers don’t advertise their publishing services because they don’t have to. They already receive more submissions than they can cope with (the source of the dreaded slush pile), and most of the large publishers have a policy of only accepting submissions directly from literary agents with whom they have an established relationship.

For example, compare the home page of Bethany House publishers with Tate Publishing (go ahead. I'll wait until you get back).

Bethany House is attracting readers, by advertising books. Tate is attracting writers, by selling a dream.

Trade publishers do advertise: they advertise to retailers they want to stock their books, and they advertise directly to the consumers they want to buy their books (there are conflicting views on how effective publishers are at marketing to consumers, but those are beyond the scope of this post).

The reason trade publishers don’t advertise themselves is simple: most readers don’t care who published a book. They are simply looking for a story, and are likely to be searching by author, genre or topic, not publisher. The main exception to this rule is Harlequin/Mills&Boon, who have built a hugely successful business in category romance, to the point where a romance reader might not know author names, but will be able to tell you whether they prefer Sexy, Sweet or Intrigue, and why.

While vanity publishers do promote the books they’ve published, it’s usually only on their own website, and the purpose of the advertising is to attract authors, not readers. Because that's where they make their money: from authors, not readers.

2. The Publisher Earns Money from Authors, not Readers

A trade publisher earns money in only one way: by selling books to readers. Individual authors may have multiple income streams (e.g. through book sales, speaking opportunities, professional consulting in their area of expertise), but the publisher only earns money when a book is sold, and they only earn profit on a book when sales have been sufficient to cover all the acquisition and production expenses (e.g. contract negotiations, advance payment to the author, editing, proofreading, cover design, copyright registration, formatting, printing and distribution). It is estimated that around 40% of books from trade publishers lose money, in that sales don’t cover all the direct costs associated with producing that title.

A vanity publisher earns money differently—they earn most of their money by providing services to authors, not by selling books to readers. This is because selling books is hard work, with no guarantee of a financial return.

So vanity publishing is publishers making money directly from authors (in the form of a payment from the author to the publisher) as opposed to making money indirectly from authors (in the form of a payment from the reader to the bookstore, who remits part of this payment to the publisher, who remits part of this payment to the author and/or their literary agent).

Author Services

Some publishers offer author services, and it can be difficult at first to tell whether it is a vanity publisher, or a printer specialising in book printing who has expanded their services into areas like cover design, editing, ebook creation, and distribution. This is especially the case when the publisher offers both traditional publishing and services for authors intending to self-publish.

An author services company may offer some or all of the following services:

  • Developmental editing
  • Line editing
  • Copyediting
  • Proofreading
  • Cover design
  • Interior design
  • Interior formatting
  • Ebook coversion
  • Printing

An author services company may also be able to assist with uploading electronic ebook files to online retail sites such as Amazon and iBooks, and with uploading the files for the paper books to sites such as CreateSpace and IngramSpark (the self-publishing imprint of LightningSource).

Where marketing services are offered, these should be useful (e.g. design of an author website) not aspirational (e.g. pitching to a Hollywood agent). Above all, services should represent good value for money, and authors should remember they can almost always find better value services from freelancers who have less overhead to cover. 

Author Services . . .  or Vanity Press?

There is nothing to say a reputable traditional publisher can't offer self-publishing services: several do. However, the two businesses should be kept completely separate. This means:

  • The self-published books should be published under a different imprint (brand) to the trade published books, and the two businesses should operate separately.
  • The self-publishing imprint should have a different website to the trade publishing imprint/s.
  • Submissions to the self-publishing imprint should be via a different website and email address than submissions to the trade imprint/s.
  • The trade imprint/s should not advertise the self-publishing imprint on their main website, or on their social media profiles.

While it’s acceptable for the self-publishing imprint to say they may offer trade contracts to books submitted for self-publishing, the reverse is not true. Such “bait-and-switch” tactics are not appropriate. If you submit to the trade imprint, they should either accept or reject your manuscript, not offer you a paid vanity alternative.

A traditional publisher advertising their "co-operative publishing" services on their website home page could be merely naive. But they could be an unprofessional vanity press.

My advice: don't take the risk. 

As Christians, we are called to be wise stewards of our time, talents and resources. That means understanding the different publishing models, and not getting caught in the snare of a vanity press.

About Iola Goulton

I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at to download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 

I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more at

You can also find me on:
Facebook (Author)
Facebook (Editing)

Friday, 13 January 2017

Word for the Year

Photo courtesy of Supertrooper at

Huh? Explain that to me.

That was me a few years ago. Here I was in my late forties and I’d never heard of the thing. Why limit your year to a single word?

A few of you might be asking the same questions.

I read a little about it. And tried it. And have continued the practice for the last five years or so.


“Each year, you should choose a word to represent the year you have in front of you.”1

Claire Diaz-Ortiz explains the rationale behind the concept: “Thing long and hard about one word that will serve as a guidepost for what you want to do and be in the year to come. One word that will remind you of what’s important when you need it most.”2

I like that: a guidepost.

I tend not to think too much about it, rather talk to God and meditate on a word for a week or so. Often He gives me one of those “Aha” moments that provides clarity.

In 2015 my Word was “ADORATION” and last year it was “DELIGHT”. As I’ve drawn closer to the Lord these past few years I’ve felt an increasing desire for more of Him and less of me which probably best sums up the last two Words. I’ve so enjoyed delighting and figured there was so much more for me to experience that I was expecting I would stick with the same word for 2017.

As I prayed and meditated on it last week I stumbled across a line in a prayer I read:

“If I’m going to be in a hurry about one thing this year, may it be to linger longer in Your Presence. Everything else will fall into place.”3

I stopped. Re-read this line a few more times as I prayed and then I had a new Word for 2017. Can you guess what it is?


It’s a great word. How much do we enjoy lingering on a great cup of coffee or fabulous dessert or a piece of music? But how much time do we spend simply lingering in the Lord’s Presence to savor Him? Not what He can give us but Him, His face, His person.

Those who lingered

As I reflected more on that line above, people in the Bible who spent time lingering in His Presence came to mind.


“And it came to pass, when Moses entered the tabernacle, that the pillar of cloud descended and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. All the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the tabernacle door, and all the people rose and worshiped, each man in his tent door. So the Lord spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” (Exodus 33:9-11 NKJV)

Joshua lingered in the tabernacle. Even when Moses, his mentor, left it. It changed him. So much so it was Joshua, and not Moses, who received the honour of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land.


“Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years,[a] who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:36-38 NKJV)

These are the only three verses in the Bible about Anna. She was a woman who lingered in the temple. And served God with fasting and praying. The Lord honoured her by allowing her to see Jesus, the infant.

Mary of Bethany

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” (Luke 10: 38-39 NKJV)

Mary lingered at Jesus’ feet to hear Him speak.

How can we linger in His Presence?

In these first two weeks of the year I’ve found lingering in His Presence harder than I anticipated. Simply sitting in silence (sometimes), with worship music (sometimes), eyes shut or open, has been hard. But what I have acknowledged is that I’ve turned up each day.

Reading His Word is important and giving myself time to reflect and meditate on it has been very helpful. When I walk one of our dogs each morning I recite verses I’ve memorised and a current one is that wonderful one from Joshua:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8 NKJV)

Great verse isn’t it?

I’ll report back during the year with how my lingering has been going.

Do any of you follow such a practice? Perhaps you have a verse or a “theme” for the year that you might like to share with us all.

Wishing all of my ACW friends a wonderful God-filled 2017.

Notes: 1.  “Design Your Day”, Claire Diaz-Ortiz, Moody Publishers. 2016. Pg 15. 2. Ibid pg 15-16. 3.“Everyday Prayers”, Scotty Smith, Baker Books, 2011. Pg377.

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Book Review: A Cowboy's Dare - by Lucy Thompson

Review by Andrea Grigg

It’s 1881, and Jane Montgomery of Halls Pass, Colorado, is a forward-thinking woman. Stifled by society’s conventions and attitudes toward women, and her parents’ expectations, Jane believes she was born for more. Born to learn about mechanical engineering, in fact.

But fate (or is it God?) seems to have other ideas. After attending a dance at the town hall, Jane wakes up on a sofa in Reverend Andrew’s parlour, in the arms of Tyrone Harding, a man she has known all her life, one who always rubs her up the wrong way, even if though he sometimes makes her heart beat faster.

Tyrone is just as appalled as Jane to discover they are married, something neither of them remember happening as a result of drinking too much punch, spiked by Tyrone’s meddling younger sister. (This was a bit of a stumbling block for me. If they were drunk enough not to remember anything - and there was a lot to remember, as described later in the story - then surely they would’ve been incredibly ill the next morning, rather than just have a pesky headache?) But, no matter how it happened, married they are, and to Tyrone’s horror because ‘females are nothing but trouble’, Jane is now his responsibility.

What follows is a lively, engaging story about two people whose most prized possession - their freedom - has been taken away. Jane’s plans to escape the confines of her life have been ruined, as has Tyrone’s resolve to live his life without a female in it.

As Tyrone and Jane negotiate their way around their relationship they encounter emotions neither of them expect or understand. At times, I found their attitudes toward one another a little too up and down and a tad confusing, but the banter between them was really well done and there were many laugh-out-loud moments at the way they unsettled each other. There were many poignant moments too, as the characters’ emotional wounds were poked and prodded until they were made to address them with the kind of honesty that left them open and vulnerable to one another, an honesty that tested and refined their true feelings.  

The concept of the dare referred to in the title was a clever one, and I loved the inevitable consequences. Historical romance is not my first choice in the romance genre, but I’d read Lucy’s first book, Mail Order Surprise, and I figured I’d be in for a treat. I wasn’t wrong.  

Andrea Grigg lives on the Gold Coast, Queensland, and is a writer of two contemporary Christian romance novels, ‘A Simple Mistake’ and ‘Too Pretty’. Her Christmas novella, 'All is Bright', was released  in a boxset along with five other authors, entitled, 'An Aussie Summer Christmas', and is now available as a single title. You can find her books here. She would love to connect with you via FacebookTwitter, or email: