I’ll admit it. They can be overwhelming. When you consider that some multi-author collections can have as many as twenty books in them, all the words can spark panic. Which one to read first? Start with a new-to-me author or go for a tried and true? Will I like reading three, five, fifteen books on a similar theme?
These are legitimate questions, folks. I get you. Still, I love them and I thought I’d give you…
My Top 3 Reasons I Think Multi-Author Collections are Awesome
The first is kind of obvious, but sometimes it’s underrated. They tend to be inexpensive. This plays into other reasons I’ll get to later, but let’s face it. When you get half a dozen or more books for a dollar, that’s nothing to sneeze at. It’s even better when you can read that entire collection of twelve amazing books for so-called FREE while giving the author(s) more than a few pennies a piece (that’s not an exaggeration there) because you read it through Kindle Unlimited… what’s there not to love?
Just a quick explanation about that. You see, unlike the $0.35 that all authors will have to split between them for a $0.99 book, Kindle Unlimited pays authors by the page. This means that if you read every page in a several-hundred-page collection, those authors are easily splitting five dollars. That’s a significant difference!
This leads into the next reason I personally love them (and possibly my biggest!). They’re not just inexpensive, but they’re a crazy inexpensive way to try out new authors you’ve never heard of or maybe weren’t sure about. While “box sets” like this do try to mix up the styles and content of the various authors, they are trying to ensure that Ima B. Author’s readers will also like the books by Penny Dreadless’ readers. So, if you like Ima, you’re probably going to enjoy Penny—and vice versa.
And my third top reason for loving multi-author collections?
(Because I have a million others, of course)! Well, that would be when the collections revolve around a theme. While there is a legitimate argument about becoming saturated with one theme or idea, as I mentioned before, choosing the right box set is usually a cure for that. I’ve been in sets where authors combined their favorite romance novel (already published) into one set that could be sold for a limited time for $0.99. It was a great way to try out different authors’ romance levels.
Other sets like the CrossRoads Collections all have one kind of incident kicking off all the stories and the final book in the set ties all those together. What is so unique about these sets is that each of those books stands completely alone. Even the last one! However, that last book cannot have the elements taken from the other books removed from its story, or there is no story. It’s that intertwined!
And of course, the theme of all themes… CHRISTMAS! Every year, more and more Christmas sets come out starting in September and October. For a few months, these sets flood the Kindle market, and readers can binge so hard that Hallmark doesn’t have a chance to compete! The trouble isn’t finding a set but in choosing which one to open next!
I’m a part of quite a few collections. For authors, it’s a heap of fun too!
I hope you’ll check out FIVE that I am really excited about.
- The CrossRoads Collections—there are six sets available on Kindle! From floral fiascos to a nationwide Christmas storm, to misdelivered mail… we’ve got you covered (and a new one coming soon!)
- Save the Date—twelve wedding and wedding dress inspired novellas from twelve of your favorite authors. One a month for a year’s worth of wedding-marching! Releases September 14, 2021. You can preorder now for just… yep! $0.99. (And get a few extra free books from the authors by filling out this form HERE).
- The Independence Islands: Merriweather—I’m so excited about this! The first SIX of the Independence Islands series, all the books featuring the first island, Merriweather, are now available in one, convenient box set on Kindle. Read with your Unlimited subscription or buy at a great discount!
- The Christmas Lights Collections—Each year Cathe Swanson, Toni Shiloh, and I have combined to bring a slightly smaller Christmas collection. Most years, a different fourth author has joined us, although we’re pleased to announce that this year, Jaycee Weaver is back for a second round with us! This collection kicked off a couple of authors’ careers, and we’re very proud of it.
- Song of Grace—from eight of the Mosaic Collection authors, this collection features stories and novellas inspired by lines from that beloved hymn, “Amazing Grace.” A prequel to my upcoming Mosaic Collection series, Bookstrings, is in this collection. I hope you’ll love Milton Coleridge and his sassy bird, Atticus, as they try to save a bookstore from dying in the desert heat in Spines & Leaves.
I hope you’ll give one of these collections a try, and I really hope you love them as much as I do!
The pendulum swing, to which human nature is so prone, has caused an underappreciation of fathers. It’s so easy for us to move towards extremes, especially when we feel like we are correcting past mistakes. Often where we are supposed to be is in the middle, and that holds true in this situation as well.
One of the extremes that has created a problem in the past is the revering of fathers. When I was in high school, we passed around a magazine article from the 1950s about what a housewife should and should not do. According to this article, mothers should have their children fed, cleaned, and waiting at the door when their father comes home. As soon as he has greeted his children, she is to whisk them off to bed so that their noise and mess doesn’t disturb his evening. Then she is to remove his shoes and rub his feet. If he is late, she isn’t to ask questions, and, even if she is certain he is having an affair. she shouldn’t mention it because it is her fault.
We laughed at the absurdity of this article. It put the father on a pedestal that, even if he is engaged in blatantly sinful behavior, he could never be knocked off. On the flip side, it reduced the mother to a mere glorified maid/nanny, and the children were little more than nuisances to be dealt with until they were of an age to be useful. This isn’t fatherhood, nor is it a godly representation of what a father ought to be.
As a reaction to this view of fatherhood, we have shifted as a culture to where fathers are nearly unnecessary. We have given men a free pass to produce children, but not have to partake in the raising of them. Women are now lifted up as superheroes who do it all – raise the children, provide for the family, and build their careers. Meanwhile, fathers are often portrayed as bumbling idiots who are fortunate if they have a wife to keep them in line.
I am not implying that all women need a man, or that being a single mom is a bad thing. There are times when it is a necessity to step out of a relationship, especially if it is harmful. What I am trying to say is that revering either men or women as the perfect parent is dangerous. God created men and women differently to complement each other – neither better nor worse, but they are each a help to round out the other’s flaws and weaknesses. We should appreciate the strengths of each one while understanding the weaknesses.
When I was growing up, if I needed a shoulder to cry on, I went to my mom. She would enter in with me emotionally, support me with love and compassion, and help me to feel that I wasn’t alone in my misery. On the other hand, if I wanted logical advice, I went to my dad who would analyze the situation, bring in Scripture, and guide me in the way he thought I ought to go. Both of these were important, especially in my teen years, but I wouldn’t have gone to my dad for emotional support, because he wouldn’t be able to ‘feel’ with me which would have caused frustration. And I wouldn’t have gone to my mom for analytical advice, because we both struggle to remove ourselves from the emotions of the situation. They complemented each other in their upbringing of their kids, and both had important roles.
The best reason to appreciate fathers is the reflection they are of our heavenly father. “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Psalm 103:13 ESV) While pale shadows of the love and compassion God has for us, our earthly fathers still show us how deeply God loves us. Even the discipline they sometimes need to give is an example of God. “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12:6-7 ESV) Our fathers show many characteristics of God, and for that we should honor them.
For those who don’t have earthly fathers, God can show His love in their lives as well. “Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” (Psalm 68:5 ESV) God does not leave anyone without a father, because He is the ultimate Father who loves all of His children.
There is only one Father who should be revered and that is God. However, we should work to shift our culture towards respecting and honoring the fathers He has placed in our lives without diminishing the role and value of mothers. Fathers should aim to be the best reflections they can be of God’s love and compassion. Together we can turn back to viewing both parents in a way that is pleasing to God.
Have You Ever Met a Matchmaker?
After growing up in Canada, meeting my husband in Boston, and then moving to California, I used to fly back and forth across North America a lot. Every time I flew, I’d flip through an airline magazine. You know the ones: they have those long, photo-heavy articles about fantastic, off-the-beaten-path travel destinations. They also have ads for upscale steak houses, fancy hotels, and elite matchmaking services—the kind geared toward busy businesspeople who are willing to pay a few thousand dollars for a professional matchmaker to set them up with people they might like.
I’ve never met a professional matchmaker. I did, however, meet my husband through a matchmaking friend.
A lot of the Christian romance novels I read have unofficial matchmakers in them. Some of them even feature unofficial matchmaking clubs! They’re usually made up of sweet older ladies who want to ensure that everyone they know finds love.
I really enjoy reading about the machinations of these unofficial matchmakers, because they show that, in a Christian community, people look out for each other. They want the best for one another. They’ll go out of their way to help each other out.
The book I’m writing right now features a pretty shameless matchmaking mother. I’m having a lot of fun writing about her efforts. Here’s a sneak peek at one of the matchmaking scenes:
Her mom gave Ryan a scrutinizing look. “Do you want to have children?”
“Mom!” Zara protested. Her mother’s lack of boundaries was going to scare him off, and surprisingly, given that he wasn’t anything like her usual type, she didn’t want him to go.
He chuckled and told her, “It’s okay,” before turning his attention to her mom. “Yes, Nancy. In an ideal world, I would like to have children.”
“Well, isn’t that another wonderful coincidence?” her mother mused, a smile lighting up her face. “So would Zara.”
“Oh, my goodness,” Zara mumbled, covering her face with her hands.
Her mom gave an exaggerated, patently fake yawn. “You know what, kids? I’m exhausted after that long drive. Why don’t you two stay and have dessert? I’m going to head upstairs to bed.”
Zara groaned. “Mom…” If she was the Mistress of the Obvious, her mother was the Queen.
Willfully oblivious, her mom said, “Stay, sweetheart. Enjoy.” Then she went so far as to pat Ryan on the cheek. “Don’t keep her out too late.”
He chuckled again. “Wouldn’t dream of it, Nancy.”
Her mom gave him another fond smile. “I knew there was a reason I liked you. Those nice manners will take you far.”
A few beats passed, and then Ryan said, “You can take your hands off your eyes now. She’s gone.”
Zara peeked through her fingers to confirm her mother’s departure for herself. “I’m so sorry about that. She’s—”
“—quite the wingwoman,” he finished.
Zara groaned again. “Ignore her. Ignore everything she said.”
Grinning, he asked, “Does she try to set you up with every single man you meet?”
She winced. “Pretty much.”
“Why is there an old man on the cover of your next romance, Melissa?”
My short answer is, “Because I want to.” The long answer is more complicated then some may think.
Nathaniel Thaddeus McReynolds, but if you have read the other books I have written for the Independence Islands Collection, you know him as Thaddeus or Thad. He is the islands’ version of Oscar the Grouch. He was only meant to be a tiny character but, as I wrote the first book, that a story for him began to develop. His scraggly beard and hair kept coming to mind, so I asked him, in my mind of course, why he was such a grump. The story that unfolded was on of heart break, betrayal, separation, and a tragic historical event.
Now, as a little disclaimer, I am going to do my best not to give any spoilers about the book, “Seasoned Grace”. I hate when a book is told to me before I can read it. That being said, there is part of his story that I think needs to be shared in more detail so that when you do read it, you have a better understanding.
Thaddeus was once a New York broker. He had everything—money, cars, the penthouse, a beautiful wife who was part of a well known family in New York society. But most importantly, he had a cute as a button daughter named Raylin (yup, she is in the book). She was a glimmer of hope in his life and he wanted nothing more than for her to be proud of him.
One September morning changed everything for his family and after some serious trauma, he found himself unable to be the father Raylin needed. So, he makes his way back to his childhood home of the Independence Islands without informing anyone in New York where he is. Now, some will read this and think “How could anyone do such a thing?” but let me ask this, “Do any of us really know what we would do in these situations?”
This man suffers with debilitating PTSD that keeps him living on the edges of society and these remote islands are perfect. Crowds mean more opportunities for bad things to happen and if he doesn’t let anyone into his life or if he is surly with them, he won’t have to worry about something happening to them.
So many things can trigger someone’s PTSD and the sufferer may go weeks without knowing there is a problem. One day, they seem fine as they live their normal life and then one little snap and everything changes. These moments can then lead to irrational behavior or making poor choices, like heading out to fish in a row boat before a hurricane hits (Hey, it’s fiction. Anything is possible, right?).
This is also one of many reasons why I enjoy reading and writing fiction. It allows one to explore the complexities of humanity without leaving their homes. You can learn about life with PTSD, traumatic brain injury, life with an over barring mother, or even what it is like to buried under concrete rubble. What ever it is, fiction give you a place to safely learn something you did know before.
One thing to keep in mind when you are reading along in any of my Independence Islands books and Thaddeus comes along and his attitudes make you shake your head—even Oscar the Grouch had a soft spot that made him melt and want to be a better muppet, just a little bit.
When God Shows Up
I had an epiphany yesterday while wandering through my rose garden. Three rose bushes counts as a garden, right? If they’re all together in one location and you can’t move between them without getting stuck by thorns?
What was I talking about? Oh, right. Epiphany.
I have this one rose bush that only blooms on Mother’s Day. It’s an old variety that has been in our family for going on fifty years. I took a cutting from my mom when I married nineteen years ago, and every year on Mother’s Day, it blooms. Every. Year.
Here in Tennessee, our weather can do some crazy things. Like snow in May.
The rose still bloomed. It’s gorgeous and fragrant and makes me wish I could turn my entire yard into a rose garden.
No matter what weather gets thrown at this rose, it shows up in brilliant glory on Mother’s Day.
Just like God.
No matter what we throw at Him, He’s still there.
Anger? He brushes it off.
Sadness? He holds our hand.
He loves with an unfailing love that is beautiful and poignant and richly planted.
Unlike my rose, He shows up more than once a year. Always within reach. He’s a prayer away.
This is important to me because I second guess myself…all the time.
Working on a new book proposal, I’ll be thrilled with the idea one minute and panicking the next. (Thank you, Imposter Syndrome.) But the point is that God is still there. He’s a constant I can count on no matter what. I like to think that my writing reflects this love God has for us. How he made us each unique and for a purpose. I know Kara struggles with this. Kara is the heroine in my next Independence Islands novel (Footprints on her Heart). From Kara’s point of view, she has little to offer the world. But from God’s point of view, she is exactly as He meant her to be. She has some fears to overcome, but God is there to hold her hand.