Julia Rose + Tunes Of My Heart Blog Launch

No, I’m not releasing another blog — but both Julia and Rebekah are!

Julia Rose, aka Light4TheLord, is launching Julia Rose, and Rebekah is launching Tunes Of My Heart! Go check them out and subscribe; they’re both amazing blogs.

I also got to interview the girls. The questions are a bit different based on theme of their blogs, but I tried to make it even (I kinda failed though because I somehow ended up losing a question, but they’re both the same length and both girls gave equally awesome answers :P). 

Interview with Julia

1. Why did you start Julia Rose?
I started Julia Rose (the blog!) to document my journey of writing, and to share the joy of writing with the world! It’s my passion, and it spills into everything I do!
 
2. What are you going to be posting about?
Mostly, I’d like to do writing related posts, with a few articles here and there, writing snippets once in a while, interviews, and maybe the occasional fun reading post (in which I insist everyone reads Chuck Black’s books!)! Whatever I do, I want it to glorify God!
 
3. Are you writing anything right now?
Oh, yes! I’m coauthoring two books – one with Rebekah (The Traitor in the Pages), and one with my friend from church (To Find the Royal Treasure). I’m also beginning on a story that currently has no name (nor a working title, come to think of it) but is inspired by several merged true stories. I’ve got a couple of ideas for some non-fiction things, but until I solidify it, I’ll keep working on articles!
 
4. Do you plan to become a published author? If so, are you looking into self-publishing or traditional publishing?
I really would love to become a published author one day – preferably traditional publishing, but if God leads me to self-publish, then I’ll trust Him with whatever he wants!
 
5. Favorite Bible verse — go!
Augh, why do I have to choose?! There are so, so many to choose from – over 31,000 anyways. I absolutely love the book of Proverbs – I’m studying and memorizing it right now. I also really like Romans 8:38-39, and Colossians 1:16, and… oh! I think I do have a favorite verse: Isaiah 43:7. “Everyone who is called by My name, and whom I have created for My glory, whom I have formed, even whom I have made.” It really puts life in perspective, doesn’t it?
 
6. Anything else you want to share? Future plans for Julia Rose? Random trivia?
Hmmm… random trivia.. well, my current WIP (the unnamed one) was inspired partially by a fellow young writer at the Young Writer’s Workshop. To sum it up, it’s the story of two young Filipino boys and their unlikely friendship and futures. I’ve got inside information into the lives of my new characters – because my dad is Filipino (and yes, that makes me half Filipino, and my last name is nearly impossible for anyone to pronounce correctly on the first try!).
 

Interview with Rebekah

1. Why did you switch to Tunes of My Heart? Are you still going to post on your other blogs? 
Formerly, I had two blogs: my main blog about my stuffed toys, Stuffie Adventures, and a personal blog named Head In The Clouds. I was really dying for a fresh start on personal blogging, as well as a brand new platform where I could share my writing/photography/ramblings! I guess I kinda grew out of Head In The Clouds, as I felt like it didn’t quite fit the “new” me. I was trying to fix some of the design problems and going through cringing at my old posts (XD), and I suddenly got this idea – why don’t I just start a brand new personal blog? I thought about it for a while and decided that it would be pretty nice to start afresh with a totally new site — the idea of a coordinated launch with Julia was enough motivation. 😉 I’ll definitely still be posting on Stuffie Adventures (as it has a whole different focus altogether), but I’ll no longer be posting on Head In The Clouds.
 
2. What do you plan to post about here? 
My blog will reflect me: a jumble of my many different hobbies! Mostly, Tunes Of My Heart will center around writing, where I’ll share writerly snippets, updates, articles, and more. But I also plan to post about photography, life, and ponderings/reflections.
 
3. What’s the story behind the name “Tunes Of My Heart?” 
Well, one morning, I was writing a poem in my journal about “the song of my heart.” I actually really liked the poem, and I was thinking how cool it would be if there was a blog called “Song Of My Heart.” Fast forward a few months later, and I was considering revamping my former personal blog. I immediately knew Song Of My Heart would be perfect as my new blog name, but unfortunately it was already taken, so I went for the second alternative: Tunes Of My Heart!
 
4. Favorite Bible verse — go!
 You expect me to choose?! *scowls* Well, Ecclesiastes 3:11 is really, really, really pretty…it’s so poetic. 🙂 I also like Romans 8:38-39.
 
5. Anything else you’d like to leave us with?
I hope you have an absolutely awesome day! I’m so excited to start posting on Tunes Of My Heart, and thanks to Josie for interviewing me!

What do you think of these amazing blogs? Do you love them as much as I do? What’s your favorite Bible verse? Share a random fact about yourself in the comments!

5 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day if You’re Single

Valentine’s Day: the day all girls without a boyfriend cry relentlessly, listen to the old Taylor Swift on repeat, and lock themselves in their rooms so they can eat as much chocolate as they want. I’m sure there’s a male version of this too, I’m just not sure what it is.

But why are we letting this get to us? Why spend an entire day in misery for artificial reasons? Valentine’s Day is about love, and — spoiler alert! — there’s much more to love than the kind between a boyfriend and girlfriend. In fact, I’ve narrowed down five other aspects you can focus on this Wednesday instead of just complaining about not having a date.

1. Celebrate by Loving God

God loved us before we loved Him, and He certainly loves us more than any boyfriend or girlfriend ever will. Use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to thank God for His incredible love and to tell Him how much you love Him too! You might not be able to send God chocolates, but you can spend extra time in prayer or Bible reading and thank Him for your blessings.

I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.  
-Psalms 18:1-2
If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. 
- Deuteronomy 7:12-13a
To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.
- Mark 12:33

2. Celebrate by Loving Your Family

Your family are the people closest to you who love you and put up with you even at your worst. Depending on how many siblings you have, how old you are, etc. there are different things you can do. For example:

  • Making Valentine’s Day cards together for each other
  • Getting one sheet of paper per person, and on each person’s sheet write everything you love about them
  • Go out together and do something fun
  • Watch a movie and laugh at the cheesy romance

While I’m blessed to be a part of a healthy family, I know not everyone has this in their life. Still, I strongly encourage you to find a way to bless someone in your family. Maybe it’s calling a relative you haven’t seen in a while or apologizing for an argument, or really anything you can do.

3. Celebrate by Loving Your Friends

Valentine’s Day is a great day to appreciate your friends — online and offline. If you can, do an activity together, like going out to dinner or staying and having a board game tournament (or whatever works for you). If that’s not possible, just send them a text saying how much you appreciate them, or maybe find a cheesy e-card and send it to them.

4. Celebrate by Loving Yourself

Okay, so maybe locking yourself in your room to eat chocolate and be overly dramatic is a little fun. Eat candy, set aside time to do something you enjoy, take a bubble bath, and improve your mood. If you know how to make yourself happy and can put yourself in a good mood, you’ll be a million times better at doing the same for others around you.

5. Celebrate by Loving Strangers

Can you say random acts of kindness? Whether or not they’re single, there can always a little more love in the world. Smile at people on the street, give random compliments, and maybe even do the greatest act love: sharing about Christ.

Here are a few ideas for RAKs to bless a stranger:

  • Send Valentines to a nursing/retiring home
  • Smile kindly at everyone (some people say that smiles from strangers have stopped them from committing suicide, so don’t feel silly)
  • Pay for the person behind you
  • Pray for the person behind you
  • Compliment other girls
  • Put quarters in the candy machines at Walmart/the mall/wherever you have them

There’s more to a young person’s life than dating, especially since you probably won’t end up marrying them. Appreciating the other things in life will make you happier and more content while you’re waiting for the right person.

What about you? How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day? Do you prefer chocolate bars or candy hearts? Do you make your own cards or buy them from the store? Share with me!

White Wolf and the Ash Princess Book Tour

Today, I’m excited to be a part of the White Wolf and the Ash Princess book tour! I’ll be bringing you a review and an interview with the author.

One thing I love about this book is that it was written with OYAN (One Year Adventure Novel). Since I know many teens participate in that, it’s inspiring to see a book written with the program get published.

Blog Tour Banner Final

About the Book

Eighteen-year-old Izzy’s limited world begins to feel cramped after she completes her self-appointed book dare. After reading two-hundred and fifty books, a thought that had been once tucked away as tightly as the books on her library shelves becomes too irresistible to ignore…”Who am I?”

Memory loss prohibits Izzy from remembering her life before age seven when she was injured in a fire. Jonathan Gudwyne and his head housekeeper rescued her and took Izzy in as their own, but who did she belong to before they took her in?

Crippling panic keeps Izzy from wandering beyond the stables but Tubs, the Gudwyne’s young stable boy, encourages Izzy to go beyond the property’s rock wall to a world that promises possible answers, but also great danger. A scorched castle in the woods and a mysterious cellar filled with secrets sets Izzy on a path to the New World, where she will not only have to face her own terror but face the people responsible for her scars.

It is here, in the untamed wilds of the seventeenth century that she finds love and a home in the most unexpected of places.

My Review

3.5 stars

This book was overall enjoyable. The plot and pacing are slow, but that makes it a nice, relaxing read. I adored Jonathan, Izzy, and Miss Margaret, and they were fun to follow. The prose held my attention (which doesn’t happen often for me with longer books). Plus, the Christian themes were done well and were believable. However, there wasn’t much conflict at first and the plot points could have been stronger, and in the second part of the book, it was hard to keep track of the “white” and “red” names and who was related to who.

I’d recommend this to girls 12+ who like charming fairy tales. There was minor violence, but no language. The plot was based on the author’s own abuse story, but as she says in the interview below, she uses third-degree burns to represent her scars so there’s no mention of anything inappropriate.  There’s not much else to say about content in the romance department, except for a couple kisses and two people falling asleep against each other (happening between an engaged/married couple).

Interview with Tammy Lash

  1. What sparked the idea for White Wolf and the Ash Princess?

I wrote White Wolf and the Ash Princess while sitting in on my son’s high school English course, One Year Adventure Novel. I am a survivor of sexual abuse and I wanted to share my story with others. Sexual abuse is an extremely painful topic and I didn’t want to bring further hurt or pain to the girls this story was meant to help, so I told my story through Izzy and her scars. Her eleven-year journey to forgiveness and love mirrors the first eleven years of discovery and healing in my marriage to my husband of twenty-eight years.

  1.  How long did White Wolf and the Ash Princess take to complete?

One Year Adventure Novel promised a novella in a year. My novella into a full-length novel and it took 5 years from conception to publication. 5. Years. It was my first attempt at a story of this length. I have served in children’s ministries for twenty-plus years and have told hundreds and hundreds of stories. I wrote a few of them down, but most were written on loose pieces of notebook paper or on the back of church bulletins.

  1. What was your favorite aspect of writing it: planning, drafting, editing, or publishing?

The planning stage is hands down my favorite. I would daydream about the story on long car rides, while doing dishes, or at night when I should have been sleeping. The first draft for me is the most difficult because it takes me awhile to find the words that I want. I can spend up to a month on a single chapter. I won’t leave a chapter until the words have a certain melody to them and I won’t leave for the next chapter until the last one says exactly what I want it to say. I’m extremely OCD that way!

  1. Which scene was the most fun to write? Which character?

My favorite scenes to write in Part One (the England portion) were the garden and ship scenes. In Part Two (the wild New World), it was the Windego scene all the way to the end. I honestly read those often when I’ve hit a dead-end in my new book. It helps me get my head back to who Izzy is and who Jonathan needs her to be in the next book.

  1. Do you like to listen to music as you write? Were there any songs you used specifically for inspiration while writing White Wolf and the Ash Princess?

RED heavily influenced White Wolf and the Ash Princess. Beauty and Rage was the newest album that was out at the time, so that one played quite a bit. Colton Dixon’s “Anchor” and About a Mile’s “SOS” and “Oxygen” shaped the ice scene. Colton’s “Through All of It” makes me sigh every time I hear it. It’s the theme song for the last chapter and I literally played it on a loop for days while I was wrapping the book up. The kids now intensely dislike Colton Dixon!

  1. Are you planning on releasing more books in the future you can talk about?

I am!! I’m so excited about the next stories to come in the series! My next book in the White Wolf Series is Letters from the Dragon’s Son. It begins six to seven months after White Wolf. This book is in Jonathan’s POV and it tells the story of his journey to find what Izzy has already discovered. We will learn more about how he became Izzy’s guardian and how he was involved in her brutal past.

There will be a third book in the series that will feature a female lead that I can’t disclose quite yet because she has an interesting role in Letters that’s still kind of hush-hush. (I like to keep as quiet about my books as possible and let the reader set off on a journey of his/her own.) What I can tell you is that this female lead will be paired up with Avery of White Wolf and the Ash Princess and they will have quite the adventure together. They tell me their story will involve a trained eagle and a possible trip to England. This story will be dedicated to those with physical limitations and those who are called to remain single.

An author friend of mine and I are working on a children’s devotional-type book together. It will be combining her fantasy world of Vikings and dragons with my Native American world. We have an amazing artist on board and this promises to be a super, cool project!

I also have a Christmas story that I wrote for my mom a few years back that I’d like to dust off and possibly publish. The illustrations are still a toss-up between photos or hand-drawn artwork. Letters from the Dragon’s Son is top priority right now, so this little side project will have to wait a little bit longer!

Wow! I have really enjoyed talking with you! Thanks for coming by to chat! If you’d like to know more about White Wolf and the Ash Princess and the works to come, you can find me at the following places:

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Tammy lives in Lower Michigan with her husband and her three children. Izzy’s home in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (Munising) is where she and her family enjoy exploring. Tammy enjoys hiking, kayaking, beach wandering, “hunting” for birch bark and hopes to someday find a porcupine quill. White Wolf and the Ash Princess is her first novel. She is published in Keys for Kids and has been in children’s ministry for over twenty years.


On an unrelated note, as I said in my last post, I made changes to my design! I have a new header, I updated some of the images in my older posts, and made the text darker. I also created a monthly email list of including roundup of my recent posts and updates on my writing life. I’m incredibly excited! You can sign up here or on the right sidebar. 

That’s it for this post! I hope you enjoyed getting to know more about White Wolf and the Ash Princess and its author. You can enter the giveaway and check out the rest of the tour at rufflesandgrace.com.

What do you think of White Wolf and the Ash Princess? Will you be reading it? Did you enter the giveaway or buy the book? Do you do One Year Adventure Novel? Share your thoughts in the comments!

My Blog Post Writing Process (Collab With Ella @ February Fairy)

What I love about the blogging community is that everything is unique. Every blogger is different, every blog is different, and every blogger’s process is different.

You may have heard of Ella from February Fairy. I love her blog, so I’m really excited to be a part of her month of collabs. We decided on doing a post about our process for writing blog posts. Today, we’re going to share (you guessed it) our post writing processes!

Post Ideas

When I first come up with a post idea, I’ll jot it down in Scrivener. I have a Scrivener file to organize my posting schedule, Young and Dreaming posts, ideas, guest posts, and my “guest post bucket list”. I currently have four categories: faith, lifestyle, music, and writing.

Outline

Typically my ideas aren’t big enough to fill a whole post at first. Once I have an idea that will work well, I jot down the main points of what I want to go into the post in my blogging journal. I’ll typically structure it with an opening hook, three points, and a conclusion, like this:

  1.  Opening: why I outline 
  2. It will keep your drafts at a good length
  3. It will improve your speed
  4. It will reduce your edits
  5. Conclusion: should you outline?

That’s the basic summary of my postIs The Dreaded Outline Really All That Bad?If I’m having a harder time, I’ll outline the post in further detail before I write it. Sometimes I’ll even draft the parts that come easily to me and create placeholders for parts I haven’t figured out yet with a note like “come back and add in point about such-and-such here”.

Writing and Editing

Usually, though, I can write the entire post out fairly quickly. After I write it all out, I’ll read the entire post and write a list of things I need to fix, big or small. This makes it seem easier to tackle. I’ll edit that list and come up with a much more polished post. 

At this point, I’ll focus more on making sure I’m saying what I mean to say and that the prose isn’t cluttered or confusing. I tend to go overedit the prose just a bit. 

Publication Prep

Before I publish the post, I create a featured image in photoshop and insert it into the post. Around now, I’ll also add any links or other images I need to. 

Another thing I’ll want to check is my search engine optimization, or SEO. I have the Yoast plugin, which tells me where I’ve gone wrong in SEO as well as readability issues.

Once I read it over a few more times, it’s ready to publish! Or schedule, if I’m planning ahead. This month, I’m trying new things for my post writing process, one of them being writing posts in batches ahead of time instead of writing one at a time for a few days before the date I’m supposed to post.


On a side note, I’m making some changes to my blog this week, so you’ll probably notice a few things being weird. However, I hope to have a new header, easier-to-read text, and to rearrange my sidebar.

Be sure to check out Ella’s post here and subscribe to her blog! You won’t regret it — her blog is amazing.

What about you? Do you have a blog? How do you write posts? Do you read  February Fairy? Share with me in the comments!