Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Fourth Ripple—Lost and Found

The 4th Ripples Effect book is out!!



I thought that this book was cute, fun, and has a super sweet romance. Lydia is the kind of person who is afraid to step out of her comfort zone. She’s living in Cambri’s apartment (from Righting a Wrong) and is supposed to have an adventurous summer, but instead spent the entire time reading about other people’s adventures. Then she meets Blake, who is searching for a box left to him by his grandfather. When their plane is cancelled, they decide to extend their trip and find Blake’s mysterious box—thus propelling them on the adventure of a lifetime.

I met Karey White one year ago at the Storymaker 2013 writing conference. I’d heard her name before (she was a Whitney Finalist) and I had a general idea of who she was, so I was excited to see her outside the pitching rooms, both of us getting ready to pitch our books to an agent. Several hours later, I ran into her and we got to talking about her plans for her book, My Own Mr. Darcy (which is a fantastic book anyway—a must read for P&P enthusiasts). Karey is such a sweet and motivated lady, and it’s been a ton of fun getting to know her better as we work on this project.

Lost and Found is available at Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.

Here’s the books in order, for those just starting the series.

Home Matters by Julie N. Ford
Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin
Righting a Wrong by Rachael Anderson
Lost and Found by Karey White

Coming soon:
Second Chances 101 by Donna Weaver

Immersed by Jennifer Griffith

*If you're at the Storymaker conference this year, we'll have all six books available at the conference bookstore (including the last two which aren't scheduled to come out for two weeks, and four weeks respectively). Also, come find me and say hi!

Friday, April 11, 2014

God Expects Us To Do Hard Things

Raising a child with special needs is hard. Finding the mental capacity to write when I’m burned out is hard. Living in a world full of heartbreaking acts and evil is hard. Standing up for myself is hard. Something I’m learning, though, is that God expects his children to do hard things.

Here’s what Elder Holland had to say about it in general conference: “It is a characteristic of our age that if people want any gods at all, they want them to be gods who do not demand much, comfortable gods, smooth gods who not only don’t rock the boat but don’t even row it, gods who pat us on the head, make us giggle, then tell us to run along and pick marigolds.”*

A God who expects a lot of us is not a comfortable God. Instead, it’s One who is refining his children. One who knows we can do more than we believe we are capable of. Even when it’s painful. Even when it seems impossible.

In 1831, Edward Partridge was called to teach and preach to the rough, uncouth residents of Independence, Missouri and prepare a place for the early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to come. He expected to have great success there, misinterpreting Joseph’s optimism for prophesy. When things didn’t go easy and the way wasn’t as smooth as he had expected, Partridge grew disillusioned for a time. After being chastised in a revelation, he wrote to his wife in a letter: “As I am occasionally chastened I sometimes fear my station is above what I can perform to the acceptance of my Heavenly Father.”**

When I read this, it completely resonated with me. I also sometimes fear my station is above what I can perform. Sometimes we go into tasks, believing that because we’ve been commanded to fulfill certain duties or obligations, that things will be easy for us. We want to believe that Heavenly Father will make our paths smooth as a reward for doing as He has asked of us.

This, as many of you know, is not always the case. We are often asked to do the impossible. The question we need ask ourselves is: Will we remain faithful in the difficult times as well as the easy? Or, more importantly, can we remain faithful when things don’t go as we expect?

Edward Partridge remained faithful. He put his faith in God when things didn’t go as he expected, through disappointment, through being tarred and feathered because of his beliefs, through being kicked out of his home, imprisonment, losing most of what he owned, and eventually his death in Nauvoo (1840) from an illness contracted during the persecutions in Missouri. He had learned that God expected him to do hard things. He was a good man, a faithful man, who gave his life for the gospel.

Most of us won’t go through the same sort of physical trials as Partridge.

We may not be asked to forsake “all [our] gold, and silver, and precious things,” like Amulek, who “for the word of God [was] rejected by his father and his kindred.” This after being imprisoned, bound, humiliated, beaten, and forced to watch believers die. ***

But some of us will be required to forgive the unforgivable. To be kind to those who have been unkind. To continue to live and breathe when someone we love has ceased to do so. To repent and avoid sin when it's all around us, everywhere. To accept His will even when it does not align with our own.

Discipleship has never been easy. Life has never been easy.

So, yes. God expects us to do hard things.

He believes in us. He knows our potential better than we can imagine. Not only that, He knows how much more we can grow when we do hard things. This is why, even when things are hard, even when things aren't going the way we expect, we must press forward with faith.

Always remember, even though life is hard, God has promised to share our yoke and make our burdens light. He gives countless tender mercies to His children. He loves us with a pure kind of love that is hard to understand sometimes. And He's promised us that although things can be impossible for us to do or get through alone, nothing is impossible with God.


* Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Cost—And Blessing—of Discipleship” April 2014 GC
**Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling by Richard Lyman Bushman, p162-163

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

If You Felt Bad For Jace...

Then I have some good news. :)

Today on the radio, I heard this song (an oldie, but goodie. And, yes, I listen to a lot of country) and immediately thought of Jace from Silver Linings.


For those of you who didn't watch the video (Why would you NOT want to watch this video. That hair! That tux! It doesn't get much better than this, folks) it's all about a man who sees the woman he's in love with dancing with someone else, and he has this realization that she's completely in love with the man she's dancing with--not him.

If you've read Silver Linings, this may sound familiar.

So, without giving away too many spoilers on my book... I have some good news for those of you who felt bad for Jace at the end of Silver Linings. Or for people who now have this Tracy Lawrence song stuck in their heads.

The third book in the Ripples Effect series is out! Righting a Wrong by Rachael Anderson picks up where Silver Linings left off and is Jace's love story. I absolutely LOVED this book. I knew Rachael was going to write about Jace, and we had to do a ton of collaboration to make sure our stories fit together. It was beyond fun to have a main character in common. I loved Jace, and I wanted--and needed--him to find love. Rachael gave him the perfect love story (and perfect woman) for him.



This (and the first three Ripples books) are available on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com.



Sunday, March 23, 2014

Strings of Kindness

Recently I stumbled across a talk by a woman named Chieko Okazaki calle Cat's Cradle of Kindness. In it, Chieko relates a story of a woman who touched her life when she was a young girl living in Hawaii, and how she and this woman had the serendipitous occasion to cross paths two other times in her life--each time being a life-changing moment for Chieko.

Here's what she concludes from this:

"Our lives weave together in ways we cannot guess or plan."

"We never know how far the effects of our service will reach. We can never afford to be cruel or indifferent or ungenerous, because we are all connected, even if it is in a pattern that only God sees."

I absolutely love that image. That we are all interconnected.

I've rediscovered this countless times.

*

Once on a plane I started talking to the man beside me (because I'm THAT person. I love talking to my row-mates on planes). He asked where I was from, I told him my hometown, and he mentioned that his girlfriend was from there. Would I by any chance know her? And I did! It was like we were immediately friends because of the connection we had to a woman I hadn't seen or thought about it years.

Did this random encounter affect my life in a way that changed me forever? Actually, it did. 

Through our talking, he told me that his girlfriend was a member of my church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) and that he was meeting with the missionaries. He said: "I've read the Book of Mormon and I can buy that it's the word of God, but I just can't believe that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. Do you believe it?"

I had never had anyone ask me that question in that way before...like what I said would really factor into his internal debate. I was kind of feeling the pressure, but I took a deep breath and told him that I absolutely believed it.

Even now, ten years later, I remember how much the truth of my statement filled me up inside with a feeling I had never felt before: Pure conviction. Here's the thing. I'd always figured that I believed the Book of Mormon to be another testament of Jesus Christ and that Joseph Smith had been a prophet.

But until that very moment, I had never had that knowledge burned deep into my soul.

I will never see this plane-mate again most likely, and my words may have had no effect on him. But they had changed me.

*

I can think of many other stories like this, where small encounters have reaped significant rewards, and I'm sure that you can think of several in your own life as well. This is why when Rachael came up with the concept for our Ripples Effect series, I was immediately in love with it. I knew how relatable it was.

My book, Silver Linings, is available as of today! In it, my main characters have faced their share of problems and their lives are about to be woven together with those of many others who help get them together.

I hope you go forward today knowing that your life is being woven together with others, in beautiful patterns that cannot be imagined with our limited perspective!



Monday, March 10, 2014

Some Ripples Effect Backstory and Home Matters Fun!

Several months ago, me, Rachael Anderson, and Karey White started throwing around the idea of doing a novella series together. We had a lot of ideas, but inspiration struck Rachael one day (I think it was actually at church) and she came up with the Ripples Effect idea--where the characters in one book would effect the lives of the characters in the next, setting them on their course to finding love.
Karey and I immediately LOVED it and we wanted to make it a six-novella series. 

In came Julie N. Ford. I'd recently read Replacing Gentry (a modern twist on Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier) and of course had read Count Down to Love, which was a Whitney Award Finalist a few years ago. I love her writing and the way she can make her characters so real to me. Both were books that, once I started, I could not put down. I wanted her in on this with us, and Rachael and Karey agreed.

Julie enthusiastically agreed to write a novella for the series. When I read her blurb for Home Matters, I was thrilled. It sounded like an amazing, fun, atmospheric novella that I wanted her to hurry and write so that I could read it. 

When she sent it to me to read, I dropped everything so that I could jump right into it.

I absolutely loved Home Matters. It's the story of Olivia Pembroke, a twenty-seven year old woman from a small, southern town who is living in California, trying to get her big break in Hollywood. She's desperate for money, desperate to get noticed before she hits the big 3-0, but mostly desperate not to let her mom (and dad and pretty much her whole hometown) down by failing. 

Her break comes in the form of a reality television show--Home Matters. She'll star alongside heartthrob, William Blaine as they battle to convince their shared client to keep their renovated home or buy a new one. If she could just ignore Pete, the contractor with a special talent for getting under her skin, life would be perfect. But, she soon learns that everything (and everyone) on the show is not what they seem and has to ask herself what her real dreams are after all.

Once again, Julie made me fall in love with her characters. The whole time I was rooting for Olivia--for her to find herself and to find love as well. This is such a well-written story that was so much fun to read and left me with a good, happy feeling inside when I was done. 

I recommend Home Matters to anyone who loves a sweet romance and needs something to put a smile on their face today. 

Home Matters is available on Amazon, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble.

If you're interested in learning more about Julie N. Ford, check out her website.


Friday, February 28, 2014

Lingering Echoes

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Lingering Echoes author Erica Kiefer. 




I really enjoyed Lingering Echoes. Where did you get the idea for your story from?

The first scene came to mind years ago when I was in college. It was a crisp, fall day and as I
walked to class, the wind and swirling leaves at my feet created a scenario in my head. When I became bored during my humanities class, instead of taking notes, I started writing a descriptive scene that was intended to simply end as a piece of poetry. Instead, I couldn’t stop thinking about this girl who I envisioned in my head, grieving beside a river on a cloudy, cold day. (I even kept thinking about it while on a rugby road trip, of all things!) I didn’t know until a couple years later when I picked up that piece of writing again that this poetic scene would transform into chapter two of Lingering Echoes.


What was your road to publication like?

Trying to get published turned out so much harder than I anticipated! I had a lot of belief in
my book when I first started going through the publication process in April, 2010. I started off by attending my first writer’s conference in Provo, Utah with LDStorymakers, and pitched my manuscript to an editor at Covenant Communications. It was a thrilling and positive experience, and I walked out of the doors with a request for my full manuscript. I couldn’t even believe it!

However, after my manuscript had been in their hands for less than a month, after following
advice from my writer’s group, I withdrew my manuscript in hopes to find a publisher who could carry my book to a mainstream audience (rather than specifically LDS).

I spent the summer researching and educating myself on how to improve my query letter, write a synopsis, and how to find and submit to literary agents. While I received a few close inquiries over the next year, I was surprised how difficult and discouraging the process turned out to be!

While I will never know if Covenant Communications would have published my novel, I felt
truly regretful that I had turned them down and hadn’t followed someone else’s advice to “take who I could get” as a first-time author.

Fortunately, stubbornness and perseverance paid off! After three years of failing to find a literary agent and glumly eyeing my email folder full of hundreds of rejection letters, I heard about a newer publishing company called Clean Teen Publishing. I decided to take one last shot at this, thinking that if they said no, at some point I would just need to accept that sometimes that first book just doesn’t get published. I submitted and didn’t hear back for five weeks, even though the website had said they would get back to me in two. I checked in with Clean Teen and due to an error with their system at the time, they hadn’t even received my submission. So I submitted . . .and a couple weeks later, I had an offer! Six weeks later, Lingering Echoes was published and available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble online.

Long story short: My road to publication was long, often discouraging and full of rejection . . .
making the success that much sweeter. Thank goodness for encouragement from family and
friends who kept my hope alive!


Tell me a little about your writing process. 
I write best when I feel emotional, so I often pull from my own life—not necessarily true events, but emotions I have felt from life experiences. I’ll be honest: I’m not one of those writers who has a million different ideas flowing. I feel confident once I start writing, but coming up with new material can be difficult for me. I often brainstorm with my husband and sisters when I get stuck.

I am definitely a mix of being a plotter/pantser. I like having a general idea of the story, but
as I found with Lingering Echoes, sometimes I didn’t know the details of the storyline or the
full relationship between characters until the scene just happened! It was fun to experience that unexpected excitement with my characters, especially between Allie, Damien and Aaron.

As far as a critique group: Before I moved to Provo, I belonged to a writer’s group that met
once a week and we would do writing exercises together. Since moving to Vegas, I joined The
Author’s Think Tank through Facebook after receiving an invite from a local author. I heard
about Clean Teen Publishing through this group, actually, so I am so grateful for networking! I use Facebook a ton now to interact with fellow authors and bloggers and enjoy letting people I know read my work for proof reading and feedback.

What are you working on now?

Just before Christmas 2013, I released Rumors, a Lingering Echoes Novella. This is a fast read that is a prequel to Lingering Echoes and is bonus material. It takes a look at Allie Collin’s life the year before Lingering Echoes takes place, and explores the pressures she fell into during her senior year after her cousin dies. Readers have requested a sequel for Lingering Echoes though at the moment, I am still undecided what the next project will be.

Right now, I am focusing on the upcoming release of my nonfiction book called Borrowed
Angel: Coping with the Loss of a Child. This book comes from an extremely personal part of
my heart as it discusses the birth and death of my almost five-month-old son to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This will be published through Walnut Springs in Utah and distributed through Deseret Book in February or March. As you can imagine, the idea of sharing my son with the world is emotional, but I’m hoping that the things I learned through this experience will help others who are struggling with loss or other discouraging challenges.

Next up: It will be a surprise to you and me both!

Thank you so much, Erica for sharing this with us. If you'd like to connect with Erica or learn more about her or her books check out:

Monday, December 30, 2013

Books Read in 2013

Stats: I read 122 books this year.

My “best of” in 2013 list:

The ones that had me laughing out loud the most:
The Best Man and The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins. Be prepared to CRINGE in the best way possible at some of the situations her characters find themselves in.
The Best Man (Blue Heron #1) The Perfect Match (Blue Her...

The book I cannot stop thinking about:
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. This is one of those books that devoured in two days and haven’t stopped thinking about since. A tough read, but very thought provoking.
The Storyteller

The book that made me feel smarter after reading:
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
The Power of Habit: Why We ...

The most beautiful language:
Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
All The Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
Waiting   All the Truth That's In Me   If You Find Me

The one that made me cry the most (seriously, I cried for like ¾ of this book):
Mile 21 by Sarah Dunster
Mile 21

My auto-buys of this year (meaning I bought before I even read the sample):
Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter,
Kristan Higgins's novels,
Drops of Gold by Sarah Eden,
Second Chances by Melanie Jacobson,
Working it Out by Rachael Anderson.
*I absolutely LOVED all of them, btw. They are auto-buys for a reason…*

Barefoot Summer (Chapel Spr...   The Perfect Match (Blue Her...   The Best Man (Blue Heron #1)   Drops of Gold (The Jonquil ...   Second Chances   Working It Out

SOME of my Favorites from 2013:
Inspirational fiction:
Mile 21 by Sarah Dunster
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen
Mile 21   The Maid of Fairbourne Hall

YA:
Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Falling For You   Out of the Easy

Middle Grade:
The False Prince by Jennifer Neilsen
The Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero by Matt Peterson
The False Prince (The Ascen...   The Epic Tales of a Misfit ...

Romance:
Home to Whiskey Creek by Brenda Novak
The Best Man by Kristan Higgins
Home to Whiskey Creek (Whis...   The Best Man (Blue Heron #1)


The complete list of books I read:

Kaylee’s 2013 Books
*Books owned, + Whitney Eligible, RR- Reread

January (10)
*Her Good Name by Ruth Axtell
+*Reasons I Fell for the Funny Fat Friend by Becca Ann
*Wild Rose by Ruth Axtell Morren RR
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann
Indivisible by Kristen Heitzmann
*Drops of Gold by Sara M. Eden
The Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn
*The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julia Klassen
Midnight Fear by Leslie Tentler

February (15)
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
*V is for Virgin by Kelly Oram
*Blindsided by Kyra Lennon
*Elantris by Brandon Sanderson
*The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
The Epic Tales of a Misfit Hero by Matt Peterson
*The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson RR
A Match Made in High School by Kristin Chandler
*Epic Fail by Claire LeZebnik RR
+When Summer Comes by Brenda Novak
Case File 13: Zombie Kid by Jeff Savage
Of Grace and Chocolate by Krista L. Jensen
+*Do Over by Shannon Guymon
*A Trusting Heart by Shannon Guymon
Finding June by Shannen Crane Camp

March (11)
Feedback by Robison Wells
The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Princess Academy: Palace of Stone by Shannon Hale
Lady Outlaw by Stacie Henry
*Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson RR
The Maid of Fairbourn Hall by Julie Klassen
Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Kiss of an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Freakling by Lana Krumweide
After Hello by Lisa Mangum
*The Best Man by Kristin Higgins

April (8)
*My Long-term (and at one point illegal) Crush by Janette Rallison (novella)
Easy by Tammara Webber
+*Glitch by Amber Gilchrist
The Space between Us by Jessica Martinez
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Smart Move by Melanie Jacobson
*Montana Summer by Jeanette Miller

May (10)
The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah E. Ladd
A Noble Groom by Jodi Hedlund
The Trouble with Flirting by Claire LaZebnik
*Waiting for Summers Return by Kim Vogel Sawyer
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth E. Wein
*The Guy Next Door by Katie Palmer
*Obsession by Traci Ambramson Hunter
*Bound to the Warrior (Love Inspired) by Barbara Phinney
Princess of the Silver Woods by Jessica Day George
Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts

June (10)
Six Years by Harlan Coben
*The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
If You Find Me by Emily Murdoch
*The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson
The Game Plan (WIP) by Ranee S. Clark
*A Lady and a Spy (novella) by Ranee S. Clark
*Fairest Beauty by Melanie Dickerson
*Beauty and the Beast by Jenni James
*Barefoot Summer by Denise Hunter

July (8)
The Tutor’s Daughter by Julie Klassen
Ripple (WIP) by Jennifer Bryce
*Emma: A Latter Day Tale by Rebecca Jamison
*It Happened at the Fair by Deanne Gist
Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer
Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham
The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen
They That Mourn (WIP) by Chanda Simper

August (12)
The Heist by Janet Evanovich
Inferno by Dan Brown
+Longing for Home by Sarah Eden
Daddy’s Gone Hunting by Mary Higgins Clark
+*Second Chances by Melanie Jacobson
The Elite by Kierra Cass
The Prince (a novella) by Kierra Cass
+*Friday Night Alibi by Cassie Mae
+Home to Whiskey Creek by Brenda Novak
*A Stranger in Town by Brenda Novak
Not Quite Dating by Catherine Bybee
Wife by Wednesday by Catherine Bybee

September (10)
Drift (WIP) by Jennifer Bryce
Room by Emma Donoghue
+Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
The Walk by Richard Paul Evans
*Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans
Dare You To by Katie McGarry
Latent (WIP) by C. Michelle Jeffries
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
The Road to Grace by Richard Paul Evans
Return to Loan Oak by Amy Knupp

October (11)
*Surrounded by Strangers by Josi Kilpack RR
+*Mile 21 by Sarah Dunster
+*The Avery Shaw Experiment by Kathy Oram
+All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry
+Dead Girls Don’t Lie by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
+*Unexpected by Karen Tufts
David and Goliath by Malcom Gladwell
*Tell Me No Lies by Rachel Branton
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
+A Step of Faith by Richard Paul Evans
Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn RR

November (5)
*The Power of Everyday Missionaries by Clayton Christensen
*The Perfect Match by Kristin Higgins
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
+Take me Home for Christmas by Brenda Novak
*A Family by Christmas by Brenda Novak

December (12)
+Safe Haven by Jean Holbrook Mathews
*+My Own Mr. Darcy by Karey White
*+Working it Out by Rachael Anderson
Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder
+Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
In Honor by Jessi Kirby
*Stealing the Preacher by Karen Witemeyer
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Rule by Jay Crowther
Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
*On Writing by Stephen King

--Note: I don’t rate books because I just don’t J If it is on this list, I liked it enough to finish it. My DNF (did not finish) list is probably just as long as this one. Also, there are varying levels of content in a few of these books that some might find offensive (language, sex, violence) so if you are sensitive to any of that or want my thoughts on a specific book, send me a private message at kayleebaldwin at gmail.

First up on my 2014 TBR pile:
Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson (for book club)
Warbreaker (Warbreaker, #1)

What books should I add to my TBR pile for 2014?