Tag Archives: anthologies

Review: A Traveler’s Advisory, by Marcia Lee Laycock

A Traveler's Advisory, by Marcia Lee LaycockA Traveler’s Advisory, by Marcia Lee Laycock (Small Pond Press, 2015)

These fifty-two “stories of God’s grace along the way” include tales of travel by air, on land, and on water. They’re drawn from the author’s experiences in Canada (including the Yukon), the US, and more exotic locales like Papua New Guinea.

Marcia Lee Laycock writes with a clear, practical style, sharing travel anecdotes and drawing common-sense spiritual parallels for life’s journey. The readings are a good length for a daily burst of inspiration that’s relevant to readers – be they seasoned travellers or homebodies.

A Traveler’s Advisory is a great little book to keep handy for a quick pick-me-up or as a discussion starting-point for a group.

Canadian author Marcia Lee Laycock is known for her devotionals as well as for both contemporary and fantasy fiction. For more about the author and her work, visit marcialeelaycock.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]



Christian Speculative Fiction Anthology

What’s more exciting than having something published? Being published in the same project as a good friend or a loved one! Last year I celebrated the release of Hot Apple Cider With Cinnamon, an anthology with a short poem of mine that also included a true story by my mom, Beverlee Wamboldt, and stories from two others from my local writing group, Ruth Ann Adams and Laura Aliese Miedema.

RealmScapes - A Science Fiction and Fantasy AnthologyThis year I’m celebrating RealmScapes, an anthology of science fiction and fantasy stories, which has a story of mine and also a story by one of my sons, Matthew Sketchley. (His is better.)

Yes, I write suspense, but I also dabble in science fiction.

RealmScapes is a science fiction and fantasy anthology of 17 tales, each based on the idea of escape. It’s published by Brimstone Fiction, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas

Christians who write science fiction and fantasy are a small but mighty group within the larger family of Christian writers. For the past few years, those who can have gathered for the Realm Makers’ Conference.

As part of the lead-up to the 2015 conference, the organizers held a short story contest to benefit the scholarship fund. Matthew and I each entered a story, and while neither of us won, our stories are both included in the RealmScapes anthology, which released at the end of July, 2016.

I don’t yet have a contributor’s copy to hold in my hand, but I’ve read all the stories. If you enjoy these sorts of tales, do check it out. Print books are available through various online stores, but at present the ebook seems only available through Amazon. I hope that will change. Don’t feel like paying for a print copy? See if your local library can order one to share with the other patrons.


Fiction and Devotionals

21 Days of Love: Stories that Celebrate Treasured RelationshipsHave you seen the newest book in the Fiction Lover’s Devotional series? 21 Days of Love is a natural fit with Valentine’s Day for all matters of the heart, not just for romance. The stories are about various kinds of relationships.

This is such a great series idea: short stories — fiction — each one with a brief life application thought at the end. Individuals and groups who’d like to delve deeper can download free study guides for each book.

21 Days of Love is the third book in this series. Each one makes a lovely gift: hardcover, with a ribbon bookmarker, and brimming with encouraging stories.

Why am I telling you about this one specifically? I’m excited to have a story in it! No, not a suspense story, an ordinary tale of a young woman visiting her grandmother in a care facility.

If you’d like to know more about this series, visit fictiondevo.com. You’ll see the first four book covers (21 Days of Joy releases in April) and find a link to the Facebook community.

Four Local Writers in National Anthology

HACC webWhen the call for submissions for the Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon anthology came out last year, four of us from a local writers’ group sent submissions. When the acceptances started coming back, we were nervous. What if some of us got in, and some didn’t? There’d been a lot of entries, and the pieces had to be not only good quality but a good blend with the others.

Out of the 61 Canadian authors whose work is included in this Christian anthology, we four are the Nova Scotian contingent. We’ve been holding a few local launches, since we don’t all live in the same location. And what makes it extra special for me is that one of the other contributors is my mom. We’ve never been published together before.

Today, I’d like to introduce the four of us. For simplicity, I’ll go alphabetically.

Ruth Ann AdamsRuth Ann Adams is a high school English teacher, Sunday School superintendent, mother of five, and pastor’s wife. One of her most recent publications is a story entitled “Charles Holloway: Man of Mystery,” in Promises of Home, Stories of Canada’s British Home Children by Rose McCormick Brandon. Ruth Ann is addicted to cats and British history. Her passion is to bring God’s love and encouragement to others. Ruth Ann has a blog named 5 X Mama. Originally from Owen Sound, ON, Ruth Ann now lives in Dartmouth, NS. Her website is ruthannadams.com.

Ruth Ann’s true story in the anthology: “The Cat We Didn’t Need” (p. 199)

One evening I discovered an entirely unwanted guest in my bathtub! This nonfiction narrative intertwines the tale of the undesirable visitor with the story of a dark time in the life of our family. It contains both humour and pain, and illustrates the redemptive power of Christ.

Laura Aliese MiedemaLaura Aliese Miedema loves the Word and works in two storehouses of words, Colchester – East Hants Public Library and Immanuel Baptist Church Library in Truro, Nova Scotia. She studied English words at Crandall University and Colchester Christian Academy. Her words won first place in The Word Guild’s God Uses Ink Contest 2012. You can find her at the Metro Christian Writers Group, the Word Nerds Teen Writing Group, or on Pinterest (pinterest.com/lauraaliese/) and on Twitter (@LauraAliese).

Laura’s historical fiction piece: “Twice, For Good Measure” (p. 231)

This short story is set in Halifax during the 1910s, and follows Mary Jean Parsons, a housekeeper with attitude, who can’t stand the carpenter who has sauntered out from her painful past, right into her sacred kitchen.

Janet SketchleyJanet Sketchley (that’s me!) lives in Nova Scotia, where she writes Christian suspense novels and blogs about faith and books. She loves Jesus and her family, and enjoys adventure stories, worship music, and tea.

My poem: “Reconciliation” (p. 254)

Personality conflicts can divide a relationship. Is there a way to heal it again?



Beverlee WamboldtBeverlee Wamboldt, of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia is “Mom” to two adult children [including Janet!] and “Nana” to five young adults. She starts each day seeking God’s peace and guidance. Since retirement, along with her husband she has travelled throughout Canada and the United States and visited Great Britain and Europe. Her short story “The Memory Tree” was published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada The Wonders of Winter.

Beverlee’s nonfiction story: “The Handshake” (p. 255)

In rural Nova Scotia, the early 1930s were an era of hard work and integrity, where a gentleman’s agreement was enough to finalize most deals. My father grew up in such an era – a time when boys as young as 10 or 11 left school and went into the workforce. This true story tugs on the heart strings and evokes a sense of nostalgia for days gone by.

Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon is available in print and ebook format from the usual locations.

Review: Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood, an anthology

Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood, an anthology of 5 Catholic bloggersLove Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood, by Anna Eastland, Monique LeBlanc, Bonnie Way, Monique Les and Melanie Jean Juneau, edited by Roberta Cottam (Village Acres Publishing, 2015)

Love Rebel is a refreshing affirmation of the value of at-home motherhood as a valid life choice.

According to the introduction, “The women featured in this book are rebels in today’s birthing and parenting culture.” They’re not angry or defiant like many rebels, and this isn’t a book that attacks the choices of working moms or childless women. These are grounded, articulate and educated women who have chosen to embrace a lifestyle that the majority of North America either devalues or deems impossible.

How many of us who are mothers have struggled with the well-meaning (or not-so-well-meaning) advice, pressures and expectations of others? These five writer-moms offer support, encouragement and hope.

The essays and poetry in this anthology celebrate large families, small moments, and the courage to follow one’s dream even if that dream is counter-cultural. Selections include survival tips and a “Recipe for creating a strong, flexible mother” as well as candid talk about subjects like parenting with hearing loss and the death of a child.

Love Rebel is an anthology of five Canadian Catholic bloggers, and while Protestants will note a few points of theological difference, they will find more points where they can agree. It’s a short book, and an encouraging read. I wish I’d had a copy of this book when my children were young.

[Review copy provided by the authors.]

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers

Introducing a new resource for Christians who write:

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers

Available for Kindle (July 2015). Coming soon in print and in other ebook formats.

There are plenty of how-tos out there addressing various aspects of the writing craft, publication, marketing etc, but there aren’t many books that cultivate the writer as a whole person.

The editors of this anthology chose seven key areas that are essential for a Christian who writes:

  • Time with God
  • Healthy Living
  • Time Management
  • Honing Writing Skills
  • Crafting a Masterpiece
  • Submitting
  • Marketing

How often do writers concentrate on a few of these while letting others slip away? Or forget that the time invested in spiritual growth and maintaining health actually contribute to the depth and quality of their writing?

7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers is produced by InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, with contributions from 28 Canadian writers (including me). Writers, I encourage you to take a peek at the table of contents (click here and scroll down the page) to see what’s on offer.

At present the book is available exclusively for Kindle, but there will be a print version released this fall and the ebook will also be available for Kobo, Nook, iTunes etc. In Kindle form, the book is already an Amazon bestseller in Canada and has been gaining traction internationally as well.

Amazon.ca listing: 7 Essential Habits of Christian Writers #1 bestseller

Review: Strange Faces, by Linda Hall

Strange Faces, by Linda HallStrange Faces, by Linda Hall (Linda Hall, 2014)

It’s been too long since we’ve had fresh fiction from Linda Hall. Strange Faces is a collection of six short stories and a novella. Most are new, with a few reprints from other anthologies. I had read one story before, but happily read it again.

Linda Hall has a gift for evoking memorable characters and situations. Most of these stories are suspense or mystery, with the occasional strand of magic or the unexplained. Because the author weaves a form of magic of her own in these tales, pulling us into the fictional world, it’s a believable experience. Sometimes too believable, in the stories with narrators we discover to be less than trustworthy—I was reading in a public place and found myself studying the strangers around me and wondering…

In these stories we meet young and old, damaged and whole, down-and-out and starting over. Linda Hall never shies away from social issues in her mysteries, and readers will met lonely souls, caregivers, victims of bullying and of dementia. Many stories deal with family ties and loyalty.

As well as strongly-drawn characters, the author gives us vivid descriptions. Here are two of my favourites:

From “Pickers and Choosers” the narrator describes a television “muted but with the captioning picking its way across the bottom of the screen like little white crabs.” [Kindle location 30]

From “A Small Season of Magic” the narrator describes an old man: “his white head looked like a patch of dandelions gone to seed.” [Kindle location 1309]

The characters and their situations feel real. Each story contains a depth and richness, as if we’re joining fully-developed individuals in a slice of their lives. Back story is always introduced in an organic way in just the right amount to let readers discover what we need to know.

Well worth a read!

Award-winning author Linda Hall’s novels include the Terri Blake-Addison series, Canadian Mountie series, Coast of Maine series and others. For a full list, see her website: writerhall.com. [Note that her previous novels have been Christian fiction. The stories in Strange Faces are clean mainstream.]

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Now in ebook format: A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider

A Second Cup of Hot Apple CiderNow you can get your serving of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider in ebook format. Kindle: Amazon.ca and Amazon.com; also available for Kobo.

Since I have a story in this book, I haven’t written a review. But here are what some others are saying:

“The stories in the anthology do not all have happy endings. There are people who write about devastating losses in their lives, or occasions that do not turn out as planned. Sometimes there are people of faith who make stunning breakthroughs; sometimes people of faith die. But through the grief, hope survives.” Read the entire article at North Shore Outlook.

“The stories in both Hot Apple Cider books are written in ways that some of us can relate to. I appreciate the honesty of the authors as theyshared from their hearts. Thank you!” ~Helga (posted on the publisher’s website)

“This collection of wonderful writing from a variety of voices is honest, personal, and compelling. Stoke the fire, put up your feet, and open this book. Like me, you’ll be comforted, inspired, and encouraged. I felt as if God were reading over my shoulder.” ~Michael Messenger, Executive VP, World Vision Canada

“This book is easy to pick up and tough to put down. You’ll love these stories of love, faith, and hope. Thank God for second helpings!” ~Phil Callaway, bestselling author, speaker, and humorist

[Amazon links are affiliate links that benefit The Word Guild.]

The most extensive launch ever done for a Canadian Christian book

Since A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stimulate the Mind and Delight the Spirit was released in May, the anthology’s 37 writers have participated in more than 150 readings and signings in seven provinces.

This all-Canadian book, which is receiving five-star reviews, is an inspirational collection of stories by writers who share a Christian faith perspective. It contains short fiction, poetry, and personal experience articles, all chosen to provide hope and encouragement.

The contributing writers have held launch events at venues ranging from bookstores, public libraries, churches, and conferences to farmers’ markets, craft shows, summer camps, and apple harvest festivals. The authors are carrying out promotional events throughout autumn—the perfect season for relaxing with a heart-warming book while enjoying a cup of hot apple cider.

I’m the sole Nova Scotian contributor to this all-Canadian anthology, and I love being part of this team of writers from coast to coast. And I cannot say enough good things about our editors, N.J. Lindquist and Wendy Elaine Nelles, whose attention to detail goes above and beyond reasonable service.

Janet Sketchley and Evangeline Inman at Miracles Christian Store

Miracles Christian Store in Halifax, Nova Scotia, hosted a book signing this fall with Evangeline Inman (New Brunswick contributor) and me. Owner/Manager Heidi Nelson says, “A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider is a wonderful read and a great gift idea for any reader on your list. The stories are both heart warming and inspiring, from a wide array of talented Canadian authors.”

Everyone involved in the Hot Apple Cider anthology series is a member of The Word Guild, a national association of over 400 Canadian writers and editors who are Christian (www.thewordguild.com). Editors N. J. Lindquist and Wendy Elaine Nelles co-founded this organization in 2001.

The first book in this groundbreaking series, Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stir the Heart and Warm the Soul, has nearly 45,000 copies in circulation. A Second Cup is well on its way to bestseller status as well.

Both books received five-star recommendations from the respected Midwest Book Review. It calls the stories “touching and poignant… a reminder that there is something good in the world.”

The books are published in Canada by That’s Life! Communications.

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider and Hot Apple Cider are available through most bookstores and other retail channels, and make ideal choices for Christmas gift giving. To find out about upcoming author events in your area, or to download free Study Guides for book clubs and discussion groups, visit http://hotapplecider.ca.

[Post adapted from a press release created by Wendy Elaine Nelles.]

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider Offers Refills of Heart-Stirring Stories

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider Offers Refills of Heart-Stirring Stories

This new inspirational anthology follows in the footsteps of the groundbreaking first volume, Hot Apple Cider, an innovative, all-Canadian bestseller whose grace-filled stories received an enthusiastic response from thousands of readers.

In A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, readers will discover more than 50 honest stories written from the heart. The book contains moving true-life experience, thought-provoking drama, light-hearted humour, imaginative fiction, and touching poetry.

The short pieces—each of which contains a complete story—make it easy for readers to pick up the book and read something satisfying and uplifting when taking a break from their busy schedules. While there’s lots of variety, all of the pieces are filled with hope and encouragement.

“The Hot Apple Cider books aren’t sweet and sentimental. Instead, they’re empowering, because they reassure you that you’re not alone, that God is at work in your life, that good will come out of the struggles you face, and that every person matters,” says publisher and editor N. J. Lindquist.

“We added 40 more pages to this book, so we could fit in extra pieces,” explains co-editor Wendy Elaine Nelles. “We were delighted to discover so many talented writers from across Canada, some of whom are being published for the first time. Among the 37 writers, you’ll be sure to find some new favourites.”

As was the case with Hot Apple Cider: Words to Stir the Heart and Warm the Soul, everyone involved with this book is a member of The Word Guild, an association of nearly 400 Canadians who write from a Christian faith perspective.

Through The Word Guild, the contributing authors donated half the cost of printing 30,000 additional copies of A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider for World Vision Canada. In turn, this Christian relief, development and advocacy organization is offering the books as gifts to all those participating in Girls Night Out and Couples Night Out.

A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, which will be sold through bookstores and other retail channels, will be launched nationally this spring, making it the perfect choice for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or summer reading.

To find out if there is a booksigning or other event planned for your community, keep watching the Hot Apple Cider Meet Us page. You can read the full press release from That’s Life Communications here.

My connection: I’m excited to have a non-fiction story included in A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider, and from reading the advance review copy I know this is an excellently-crafted anthology. There will be a Nova Scotia launch as part of the Canada-wide one. Details TBA.

You can read endorsements on the Hot Apple Cider site and become a fan on Facebook.

For more information, review copies, interviews, or to inquire about participating in the national book launch (April 30 to May 7), contact Lisa Hall-Wilson, Publishing Intern, at That’s Life Communications.