Confessions of a Thankful Internet Geek

by Laura A. Grace

My Papa’s legacy lives on.

Granted, I don’t recall ever seeing him pick up a book (well, unless maybe it was a train book with lots of pictures) except his Bible when he got older.

Yet his extrovert self still inspires my introvert self to actively get to know other people online, especially authors and writers.

He and my Grandma would share stories of how he met so-and-so online and then, when on a cruise, go and meet that same person. More than once did they tell me how they got “exclusive tours” because of an online friend my Papa knew.

Reflecting on those stories, I am mind blown at how he used the internet to make new friendships that extend over the ocean (and he didn’t even have social media to do it!).

It’s even more exciting to know that I’m following in his footsteps.

Just as it was for him, the internet has opened new gateways that the seventh grade me never would have imagined as I began devouring Nancy Drew mysteries. I thought the most I would ever be able to do was read and tell friends (which I still do). However, someone introduced me to the idea of meeting and interacting with authors online and transformed my life as an avid reader.

Now my inner fangirl does a lot more of this:


And quite a bit of this:


Now I could easily be doing this outside of social media (which I still do at some point while reading, and on multiple occasions if I might add), but now I am able to use book blogging to really get to know authors. I can reach out via Facebook messenger or email and ask if they would be interested in an interview or guest post. Then somehow as we’re chatting, the conversation keeps going and this amazing thing sometimes happens … (insert big breath) I get to know and call them friend. Talk about a dream come true! I have to try and remember daily that these authors genuinely call me friend and not let my inner fangirl explode with squeals and giddiness in every conversation (but don’t worry, when they release a new novel, they get a big dose of that).


Recently my close writing mentor just released her short story on Amazon, and it is surreal to think how I can help get her book out there through blogging. I can show and talk about my friend’s story in a way that wasn’t possible when I first started reading in middle school (well, at least I thought wasn’t possible). I can make memes, do an interview, and make a fan-made book trailer to name a few fun ones.

Now I have to admit, it’s one thing to share the latest book trailer I made, but it’s whole other thing when I’m asked if I would be interested is hosting a blog tour under God’s Grace Blog Tours. By this point, I’m pretty sure my inner fangirl cannot help but faint from joy and excitement (whether I know the author or not). Not only am I able to gush all the amazingness of their story, but I get to do it with different bloggers all over the United States (sometimes even from all over the world).

Enter me stalking these bloggers’ sites for their posts of reviews, guest posts, or some other feature in the name of sharing the book love, and I feel my mission is partially complete.


What is my mission as an avid reader, book blogger, and blog tour host?

Support the author, read the book, and share the book love (no matter what order I do these).

Usually the final and even more fun part of my mission includes participating in one of the coolest virtual book events I know on the internet: Facebook parties.

Oh my goodness! What an epic way to chat with other readers and favorite authors. Enter lots of fun chat and games with giveaways, and you have this mega fangirl party with lots of squealing and laughter off screen (at least for this inner fangirl).


Yes, I can definitely say that I’m thankful my Papa showed me how wonderful of an adventure it can be when getting to know people online. A few years ago I would have been a nervous wreck even thinking about remotely wanting to reach out to people I don’t know (even at Facebook parties).

Not so much anymore. And as a result, my Papa’s legacy lives on.

Just with a lot more sequels of excitement and dancing over new book releases.

(Before I go, can I take a moment to share how I feel being featured on Ralene’s blog today? Yeah, I also might have been feeling this as I was reading her novel, Bellanok. Thank you, Ralene!) From Ralene: Aw, thanks, Laura. You know how to make a gal feel special.




About Me:

Laura A. Grace loves to read with a passion. Her personal goal: to read all the books as well as write a few of her own (maybe even a hundred!). She’s a firm believer in spreading hope, and book blogging makes a perfect outlet. More than once her husband has caught her staying up late to support and get to know Christian indie authors online. You can find her in her North Carolina home, attempting to capture her characters and force them onto paper—or trying to read just one more chapter before going to sleep.

HOPE through the Pages (website):

I wrote an e-book, One Bookish Friend Challenge, sharing how I gave myself personal challenges to get to know other people online. I made it a freebie to those who sign up for my newsletter. You don’t have to share, but I thought I would mention it.

Here is the newsletter signup link and I’ll attach the cover in case you decide to share (again, if not, that’s totally okay):

Also, was unsure if I should mention, but if someone was interested in learning more about God’s Grace Blog Tours, here is the link:

Fab 5 Friday: Reboot!

DSC_0394_aIt’s been so great to actually get back into blogging. I’ve missed having a workable schedule where I can write to you all on a more regular basis. Now, I’m excited to share all kinds of things with you over the next few months. Don’t miss out, sign up for my newsletter!


For those who are not aware, Fab 5 Friday is an opportunity for me to share with you 5 fabulous things that I’ve found, done, experienced, read, etc. I often share about books I’m reading, homeschooling experiences, quotes, new products, pictures. Whatever I feel is totally fabulous. Instead of trying to do it once a week, though, I’m cutting down to once a month!

Also, new to the blog is Novel News. At the end of each month, I’ll be sharing a slew of new releases for you to ooo and ah over. The majority will be speculative fiction, but as I believe in reading wide, I’ll be sure to throw some potentially interesting ones in from other genres. You can check out May’s Novel News!

Earlier this week, I debuted my summer experimental series, Confessions. Confessions, for now, is an opportunity for authors and other publishing professionals to share a little about themselves, their ups and downs, and their personalities. Desiree Williams shared the daydreaming, scatterbrain side of her in the first post. I’ve already started seeing some posts and ideas from other authors who have committed to the series this summer, and I can’t wait to share them with you.




Right now, I’m reading Acolyte by Keven Newsome. This is the long awaited, final book in his Winter trilogy. I have been bugging him for years, and now I just can’t get enough of the story. So. Good. I’m about 70% done, and hope to finish it up this weekend.



Lately, as the public schools have released for the summer, people have been asking me if we do school year-round or if we take summer breaks as well. I’m proud to say that we do school year-round. Why? There are a few reasons:

  • I believe children retain more if you keep things consistent.
  • We do take breaks throughout the year (about every 6-8 weeks).
  • It allows extra days for me to take off when I’m on deadline or when we want to travel.
  • It gets HOT in the summer. We can cool off and work on our studies at the same time.

Now, our schedule is a little different in the summer. Instead of following our Sonlight curriculum, we focus more on electives. And we still keep up on reading, spelling, and math.


Jurassic Park: In case you didn’t know, the entire original Jurassic Park trilogy is on Netflix this summer! I finally got to share the first move with my kids earlier this week. They LOVED it. I actually worried it might be too scary for them, but with all our usual quips throughout even the scary parts, they were fine. One of my daughters kept making T-Rex jokes, pretending she had short arms.

Gods of Egypt: This recently came out on DVD. Yay! It had an interesting and different take on Egyptian mythology. It was full of action with enough depth of story to engage the softer side of me. Bec was definitely my favorite character–passion and purpose. I thought the CG was well done. If you don’t mind movies/book with non-Christian gods in it, you might like this one.


I found this amazing version of Let It Go on YouTube. The kids and I can watch it over and over again! Enjoy!

What summer blockbusters are you looking forward to? 


Frank the Chair and my Cousin

I’ll bet you didn’t know that the literary bug runs in my family, did you? Reading and writing both run in my DNA. A couple of my aunts, as well as my mom, have been librarians at one point or another. I have a cousin that does some editing and reviewing for books. Then there’s my cousin, Jessica. She published a book. Check out more . . .

12046757_10206655797932262_2048678102102201225_nFrank the Chair (by Jessica Freeman)

I’m a graphic designer first and foremost, but I actually have been doing photography for much longer. I still do some photography here and there for my clients, but my main focus is design. At the beginning of 2014, I told my husband, Aaron, that I missed doing photography. But, I didn’t necessarily want to do it as part of my business–I wanted to create a personal photography project that would just be a fun outlet.

Enter: Frank the Chair.

Frank the Chair is a small, green chair that doesn’t have any hands. He loves to go on adventures that no other chair has gone on before! He has traveled around to many parts of Georgia, but has also been to Washington, D.C., Nashville, Missouri, and even El Salvador.

After a few months of this project, Aaron brought up the idea of doing a children’s book, but I just wasn’t sure about it. People in our community loved Frank–they would ask where he was when we were out and about, like he was our child. Even so, I wasn’t sure if people loved him enough to buy a book. (Not to mention the fact that I had never written and published a children’s book before.)  

Fast forward to December of 2014, when I lost my mom in a car crash. My mom really enjoyed Frank–I don’t know if it was just following along on his adventures that she liked, or just laughing at the silliness of it all. Either way, she loved him enough to ask how he was doing after he was in the back seat when my car was broken into last year. (Frank was unharmed, in case you’re wondering.)

After my mom’s funeral, I decided that creating a children’s book would be a great way to honor my mom’s legacy. (Ralene here: Her mom was one of the librarians I mentioned!) I had heard so many stories of how much my mom gave her time and resources to provide books for her students and helped other teachers get books for their students. I just wanted to create something that people could have and enjoy. Who better to feature in this children’s book than our very own Frank?

Creating and publishing a children’s book is no small task. We didn’t want to skimp on an illustrator–I know how much kids love pictures! So, to raise the money to pay an illustrator, we launched a Kickstarter campaign. Thirty days later, we had all the money we needed, thanks to many generous family and friends. We loved the distinct style of our illustrator’s work, so there was no need to give direction. We sent over the storyline, some reference pictures of what we were thinking for different scenes, and off she went!

Now, six months later, we have a real book in our hands. It has been amazing to see this project finally come to life. But, the best part has been the responses I’ve received after sending out press releases and posting about the book on social media. I have heard from many of my mom’s colleagues and former students, reiterating how much she meant to them, and how much she impacted the community. My mom loved to read, and loved getting kids excited about reading–and hopefully this book lights that spark in kids who read this book!

511ParBo-1L._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_To Purchase

I love my cousin’s heart–and I loved her mom’s heart. And I think Frank is just cool.

I hope you all will take the time to check out Frank the Chair Visits Kansas by Jessica Freeman on Amazon. Currently, it is only available in paperback.

What else are your kids reading these days?



Did I mention, though, Bellanok: The Reluctant Savior comes out in ONE week?



Fab 5 Friday: Chaos Edition


I’ve finally made the transition from summer to school, from conference planning to conference prep, from business to writing . . . In other words, it’s been completely crazy around here. And the craziness will continue at least through next week, which is when I will attend ACFW in Dallas.


So, I saw that one of my friends was publishing her 3rd book in a YA speculative trilogy. I had no idea that she had even published the first 2, much less that they were spec in nature. Excited to learn this, I bought the first book–and devoured it in 2 days. I bought the 2nd, and then the 3rd. I finished all 3 in about a week. I won’t tell you much about them, but I will suggest that you check out The Gifting Series by K.E. Ganshert, starting with The Gifting.


There are some exciting things going on in my business world. If you’ve been following my blog or social media, you already know that I have a book coming out next month–you can see the cover and blurb here. I’m super excited to share the first part of this 5-part mini-series with you.


We’re officially into our new school year. The girls have been so excited as we’ve been studying the early Native Americans as we are into the early American History. They’re particularly excited for me to get back from ACFW so we can start our astronomy course and the typing software. So cute!

We decided to try the whole homeschool co-op thing this year, after a year-long break. The girls are taking a sign-language class and one called 50 States. Connor is taking a 2-part class where they study different countries around the world. Yesterday was their first day, and they had a lot of fun!

What did I do during this time? Worked on planning my book launch!


In June, I had KY Christian Writers Conference. In August, it was Realm Makers–a conference for speculative fiction writers who are Christian. And this month, I’m headed to the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. For the first 2, I was on the planning committee and did a lot of working during the conference for both. I’m excited to head to ACFW where I can kick back and hobknob, maybe learn a thing or 2.


What have you been reading lately? Which ones would you recommend to fellow readers?

From Beginning to End–How to Finish Your Manuscript (by Cindy Stewart)

Are You A “Newbie” Struggling to Finish Your First Manuscript? Has the bite of the perfectionist bug slowed you down? Are you tempted to quit?

I consider myself a “newbie” author of Christian fiction. My journey began a little over three years ago when I attended my first writing event – the Blue Ridge Christian Writer’s Conference near Asheville, North Carolina. I wrote my first 1000 words of fiction for a practicum workshop I attended, but I was so afraid of failure, I waited too long and missed the deadline for submitting the assignment. That turned out to be a huge blessing because I wrote the entire first page in one paragraph. When I saw my classmates’ work projected on the screen (with many paragraphs on a page), I was thankful mine would not “see the light of day,” at least not yet. The conference was a great blessing, and I returned home motivated to continue writing the story of my heart. Almost three years later I rejoiced as I wrote “The End” for my novel of 395 pages (113,000 words).


Why did it take three years to complete the draft of my first novel?

  • Perfectionism brought my writing to a halt
  • Unavoidable life events interfered, such as, a full-time teaching job
  • The huge learning curve for writing fiction
  • Not knowing how to mount the brick wall blocking my path at critical junctures


How did I overcome and reach “The End”?

Although there are many sources available for new writers today, and I’ve taken advantage of many of them, I’ve listed those that were most effective in ushering me forward as a new writer.

  • Seeking the Lord’s guidance throughout the writing process and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit
  • Joining American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)
  • Taking online classes:

Margie Lawson Writer’s Academy – I took five classes (each class was one month long).

Writer University – I took three classes taught by Laurie Schnebly Campbell (class length varied from 10 days to one month).

  • Paying for a 20-page critique by a published author.
  • Participating in writing contests and receiving comments/critiques:

My Book Therapy’s The Frasier Contest (first 1500 words and a 500-word synopsis)

ACFW’s First Impressions Contest (first 5 pages and a 200-word blurb)

ACFW’s Genesis Contest (first 15 pages, a one-page synopsis, and the first draft of manuscript must be complete)

Oregon Christian Writer’s Cascade Contest (first 15 pages and a one-page synopsis)

SC Writers ACFW First Five Pages Contest (first 5 pages)

  • Regularly attending at local writer group meetings
  • Reading and studying books on the craft of writing – many excellent books are available, but these encouraged me as a new writer and motivated me to press on:

James Scott Bell – 1) Plot & Structure, 2) Revision & Self-Editing, 3) Conflict & Suspense, 4) How to Write Dazzling Dialogue 

Susie Mae Warren – How to Write a Brilliant Novel 

Jill Elizabeth Nelson – Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View


What resources helped you reach “The End” of your first manuscript?


CindyAuthor Bio:

Cindy Stewart is a high school teacher, church pianist, and historical fiction author. She was the historical category winner for ACFW’s 2014 First Impressions writing contest, a 2014 Bronze Medalist in My Book Therapy’s Frasier contest, and tied for second place in the 2015 South Carolina ACFW First Five Pages contest. Believing that history often repeats itself, Cindy is passionate about discovering and sharing fascinating stories through writing historical inspirational fiction. She resides in North Georgia with her husband and college sweetheart of thirty-four years and has one married daughter and three adorable grandchildren. Her first novel, Abounding Hope, is set in Eastern Europe at the start of World War II.








Fab 5 Friday: Pre-Conference Insanity!

file0001024202589So, the next 9 days are going to be pretty insane around here. I am preparing for the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, which starts next Thursday. I’m the Faculty Chair, and I am presenting my first workshop, 3 Ks of Social Media for Writers. In the meantime, though, who’s ready for another Fab 5?


Right now, I’m working my way through Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran–a book all about how to get your book visible on Amazon. It’s been rather informative and will influence marketing/publicity plans for myself and clients. I’m about halfway through the book.

I’m also reading The Ghost Box by Mike Duran. It’s been pretty interesting so far. I told my husband the tone reminded me of the old Dick Tracy-type novels but with a modern voice. (The main character is a journalist, though, not a detective.) And, of course, with a supernatural twist. I’m also about halfway through this one.


I recently joined Good Morning Girls and Women Living Well for another Bible study. This time we’re working out way through Proverbs. I like their method of reading the Bible, absorbing what we’re reading, and applying it to our lives. It makes Bible reading more intentional.


I found these awesome Cool Gear chillers last year at Walmart, where I bought 3. I loved them so much, I sought them out (this time only found them at Kroger) and bought 3 more! You stick them in the freezer and the gel freezes so you keep your drink cold without ice. They’re dishwasher safe too!


Goals? What goals? I’m supposed to be keeping up with goals? This month has been so crazy that, although I’ve accomplished a lot, it hasn’t been the projects I originally set out to accomplish.

I’ve made some progress on Bellanock, but nowhere near the 20K that I planned to write. I have the outline for my workshop done, but I need to get the handout prepared and write out some more of it. I’ve also tried to work on my freebie for the website, but it’s not done yet and won’t get done until I get back from vacation in July.

Exercise–well, I got a treadmill, does that count?


Over the next four months, I’m headed to 3 different conferences!

KY Christian Writers Conference: June 25-27; Elizabethtown, KY–This conference is for both fiction and nonfiction writers, and I already mentioned I’m presenting a workshop.

Realm Makers: August 7-8; St. Louis, MO–A symposium for speculative fiction writers of faith–speculative meaning fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural, horror, etc. Robert Liparulo is the keynote speaker, and highlights include game night and a costumed awards banquet! I’m also on the planning committee for this one and can hardly wait!

ACFW: September 17-20; Dallas, TX–A great conference for Christian writers. There is always a wealth of learning and networking to be done here. I’m not in charge of anything here, so I get to sit back, relax, and enjoy myself.

Are you headed to any conferences this year?


Books, websites, products, goals, and conferences–yep, that’s 5! I think I’m going to be mixing up the Fab 5 a bit, adding in some lists of Top 5 ____.

Now, go enjoy your weekend! But don’t forget to leave a comment to let me know how you’re doing first and what conferences you’re headed to this year first . . .