Thursday, December 31, 2015

Blog Tour & Review :: The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck

Title: The Wedding Chapel
Author: Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Zondervan (November 2015)

Source: Received from publisher via LitFuse Publicity Group

Buy book: here

For sixty years, a wedding chapel sat silent, waiting for love. But times have changed and the hour has come when it just might be too late.
Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy “Coach” Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—the wedding chapel he built for Collette Greer, the woman he fell for back in ‘49. But now an offer has come to turn the chapel into what it was meant to be—a place for love—and Jimmy sees no reason to hang onto his dream any longer.
Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s abysmal marriage rate. But love surprises her when she falls head-over-heels for Jack Forester, a top ad man. Their whirlwind romance results in an elopement, and a mountain of doubt. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to overcome his own demons to find the words of his heart.
When Taylor takes an assignment in Heart’s Bend, the job does more than send her back to her hometown, but into a world of family secrets buried beneath the sands of time.
When Taylor’s journey intersects with Coach’s, they rediscover the heartbeat of their dreams and that the love they long to hold is right in front of them. And worth every waiting moment.
I adored this latest book from one of my favorite authors, Rachel Hauck. Hauck has a way of writing Christian fiction in a way where faith is interwoven into the story in a very natural, realistic, relatable way. I am a huge fan of Christian fiction and that is not always easy to do. Usually the "God parts" seem weird and out of place sometimes. However, the way Hauck shows God working through all the aspects of the character's lives is refreshing because it feels authentic. It feels like something you and me deal with on a daily basis. And that is why you love Hauck's writing, because you always feel like you are right there in the story with the characters with them and you really care about them too. A lot. The love stories are never superficial, but full of romance in a way that you don't usually read about in contemporary romance. This is my fourth or fifth book that I've read from Hauck and each book just keeps getting better and better. 

This latest book, The Wedding Chapel, is a treat. I love stories told from multiple perspectives because I think it makes gives it more depth. However, it's not always an easy thing to do. I know this firsthand because the novel I started during NaNoWriMo is told from two points of view. The hardest part is to give each character a unique voice that is their own and different from everyone else. Being able to maintain that for FOUR characters (and in different time periods) is a testament to Hauck's craft because she does this really well with Jimmy, Taylor, Jack, and Colette in this book. You're never confused about who is telling the story. Plus, figuring out how these characters' lives are woven into each other was so enjoyable, especially once the two major story lines start to overlap. 

Each of the four characters are flawed in their own ways and they battle their own demons and insecurities. Even though you might think that it is predictable what will happen to each of them, I found myself riveted throughout the whole story because of all the unexpected twists and turns. This book also has themes of love, acceptance, family dynamics, and redemption. Hauck's masterful storytelling always takes you along a journey in her books. What a fun and charming journey this book was! 

5 out of 5 stars

About the author:

Rachel Hauck is an award-winning, best selling author of critically acclaimed novels such as The Wedding DressLove Starts with Elle, and Once Upon A Prince. She also penned the Songbird Novels with multi-platinum recording artist, Sara Evans. Booklist named their novel, Softly and Tenderly, one of 2011 Top Ten Inspirationals. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and is a mentor and book therapist at My Book Therapy, and conference speaker. Rachel lives in central Florida with her husband and pets.

Connect with Rachel: websiteTwitterFacebook

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Reflections on finishing NaNoWriMo 2015


So, I just finished my first attempt at NaNoWriMo!

  • Actually finishing 50k words in 30 days. I've toyed with the idea of writing a book for about two years now and when NaNoWriMo came around this year, it just kind of snuck up on me. (Meaning, I forgot all about it until Oct. 31st.) I signed up so last minute and I made no plans at all, which is completely unlike me. I didn't think I would accomplish it this first go around, but I am so proud of myself for actually finishing! 
  • Writing each night on 27 out of the 30 days. I am not very good at doing things a little at time, like doing a little each day. Having procrastination tendencies. I'm much more inclined to do things in bursts. However, 50k words is not really something I had time to do in bursts, so I had to force myself to write a little bit each night. Other than the time my family visited Disneyland this month, I wrote every night. It became a routine that I looked forward too. Even though it wasn't fantastic writing each night, I enjoyed having the quiet night to myself and my keyboard. 
  • Finally getting the story that's been in my head for years, out on paper... (or the screen). I've had this idea for the book I started this month for a long, long time. Probably since college, but it felt really, really good to finally put it to real words and onto the screen. I still have a lot of work to do, but a bad first draft is better than no first draft, right?
  • Remembering that I've always liked to write, even as a kid. It's been awhile, but it was during this month that I remembered that I used to write books when I was kid on my mom's typewriter. I hadn't thought about it in a long, long time. I also remembered that I wrote some fan-fiction (before it was called fan-fiction) back in high school on some books I read where I wanted the girl in the story to end up with a different guy. So, maybe it's something I actually like doing. (Who knew?) 
  • Feeling inspired by the thousands of people doing NaNoWriMo too! It was comforting to know be a part of a larger community of people doing the same thing alongside you. Twitter was a great way to connect with people. I wish I had more time to do write-ins, in person, but maybe that's something for future NaNoWriMos.
  • The encouragement from my friends, students, and loved ones. I told everyone that I was doing this NaNoWriMo thing because I knew the more people I told, the more people would hold me accountable to finishing and not giving up. It was also great to be able to talk about my book and bounce ideas off those I trust most. Lastly, my husband was my number one fan through this endeavor. 
  • The roller-coaster of writing. The first 20k came easy. 
  • The roller-coaster of writing. The next 20k was tough. Like I wanted to chuck my whole story out the window because I just hated it that much. I also took everything and messed it all up for the last 15k. I think that's probably why I went over 50k. 
  • Feeling all the feels. So, when I messed everything up in my story, it was after I was listening to sad music for three hours and then I gave myself a book hangover. It took me off guard how much I was invested in my characters after living with them for a month. 
  • Letting go of my perfectionistic tendencies. I am looking forward to editing this upcoming month. It was hard at first to not go back and fix everything, but after awhile, just plowing through and being okay with the crappy writing was quite liberating. Now I just have a much longer crappy first draft to deal with, but at least I didn't spend this month rewriting the same paragraph ten times. 
  • Being MIA from my family and my other interests. I'm pretty sure my husband is looking forward to having me go to bed at the same time as him for the first time in a month. Plus, I've spent every free moment at night to write, so I am also really looking forward to read, color, craft and watch some TV again. 
  • Edit, edit, edit... write, write, write... edit, edit, edit. I hope to spend some time editing this month and then developing my story further. Now that I'm 50k words in, I feel like I can't just leave it because I've invested a whole month into it. 
  • Read, read, read. I have craved reading so much this month because there were moments when I was so tapped for inspiration. My me-time is so limited since I have to very young children, so it was hard to do both. I am really looking forward to reading and leaning on some mentor texts for inspiration and ideas. My little journal of favorite quotes from books is in need of more quotes! 
  • Get over my withdrawal. I think I wrote this blog post because I didn't want to break my routine of writing each night. NaNoWriMo withdrawal is very real. Even though I know I can obviously still write as much as I want to, I am looking forward to having more balance in my life again. I can see why people do this challenge over and over again though. It's like running a race. Once you finish, now you want more... 
  • Next year's NaNoWriMo? I love that this challenge is in November because we get Veteran's Day off and a whole week at Thanksgiving. It finally starts to get cold in San Diego, and it's dark early. It's great for writing! 
Cheers to all the other NaNoWriMo winners! (And to those that didn't finish too, because any writing is better than no writing at all.) 
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