COVER REVEAL!!! Then Sings My Soul, my sophomore novel!

I’m BEYOND excited to share with you the cover of my second novel (coming March 1, 2015 from David C. Cook), Then Sings My Soul! In the coming weeks I’ll share more information about the history and inspiration behind this story.

But there’s one amazing thing I want to share with you about the cover today.

See the beautiful image of the stone? My paternal grandfather was a truly savant hobby lapidarist, meaning he cut and polished rocks and minerals…

… including the one you see below.

Yep. It’s something that the designers tell me rarely–if ever happen–in book designs, using something the author has on the cover.

The incredible Cook designers came up with the cover draft, but they didn’t know where they were going to find an accurate and usable image of a blue stone (which is part of a bit of a mystery subplot in the book). I happened to be looking through my grandfather’s stones, and the very week the designers showed me this, I found this stone in his collection! This was one of his favorite designs, and if you’ll notice, the crown is shaped like the Star of David.

Though this is not a story of my paternal ancestors, the plot was heavily influenced by their trek from Ukraine to America at the turn of the century. In the process of researching their journey, I discovered they were Jewish immigrants! They did not practice their faith once in America, but they were Ashkenazi Jews, just the same, a fact I find extremely moving and humbling.

So, enjoy this cover and stay tuned as the release date nears for details. In the meantime, here’s a synopsis about the story.


His Memory is Being Stolen…But God Never Forgets.

With her father succumbing to dementia, Nel has little time to discover the decades-old secrets from his past that could forever alter both of their futures.

When Nel Stewart returns home due to the sudden death of her mother, she realizes her beloved father, Jakob is struggling with the loss of his memory.

With the reappearance of an old high-school sweetheart, deliveries from Ukraine, and the mysterious discovery of a vintage aquamarine gemstone, Nel senses God pulling her into the past to restore her and her father’s futures before it’s too late.

Told partially through Jakob’s flashbacks of fleeing the Jewish genocides of eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century, this novel reveals how even when mankind strips humans from their homeland and attempts to erase their faith – God will never leave his people.



Super exciting news!!! A short story, John Green (yes, THAT John Green) and Indy Reads!

I’m absolutely thrilled (and beyond grateful) to have been asked to contribute an original short story to an anthology scheduled for publication this fall benefitting one of my favorite local organizations, Indy Reads!

Indy Writes Books: an Indy Reads Books Anthology will be published by Thanksgiving 2014, and 20 authors (give or take a few) will be included. All the authors have read at, or are scheduled to read at, Indy Reads Books. Here’s some of the AMAZING authors who’ve confirmed so far (and yes, I realize that in comparison to their combined genius, my little story will be filler material):

The folks in charge of putting this INCREDA-FABULOUS anthology together are planning a big launch for the holidays, including reading/signing events at the store and a launch event. The book will only be available through Indy Reads Books (store and website) for the first 100 days after publication. Following that they will make it available through Amazon and other commercial outlets.

So what is Indy Reads and Indy Reads Books?

Besides one of my favorite places in the city, here’s some information about them I pulled straight from their websites with links to them as well. Check them out online and in person. They’re pretty amazing!

bannerlogo_indyreads“Indy Reads is a not-for-profit organization that relies on volunteers to provide basic literacy tutoring to illiterate and semi-literate adults. Their mission is to promote and improve the literacy of adults and families in Central Indiana. One out of five adults can’t read the content on this website. They believe everyone should have an opportunity to learn to read, and their goal is to make Indianapolis 100% literate. Their programs include one-on-one tutoring, small group sessions, English as a Second Language instruction, and “Literacy Labs” at neighborhood centers.


“The bookstore–a source of revenue for the not-for-profit organization Indy Reads–is an independent bookstore, and the only bookstore in downtown Indianapolis. They sell mostly used and some new books for adults and children, and they can special order almost any book you can name!  The profits from Indy Reads Books go directly toward improving literacy in the community through Indy Reads.

“Customers who purchase used books at the store not only get to buy their books at greatly discounted prices, they also know their money is being put toward a noble cause in the community.

“The bookstore is located in a historic building at 911 Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indianapolis, across from the restaurant Black Market, in a rapidly developing section of the Mass Ave neighborhood and along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail. Their dedicated staff and volunteers are passionate about books and about promoting literacy in our community…”

Stay tuned for details as the release date of Indy Writes Books: an Indy Reads Books Anthology  approaches.

Until then, keep reading, visit the websites of the other authors included, and visit Indy Reads Books whenever you get the chance!

Novel #2 title reveal!

I don’t know about other writers, but for me, the journey from the inception of a book idea to an actual novel is at once fleeting and furious, enigmatic and concrete. For months–years, in fact–I become a slave to what is often the convoluted formation and exhausting (although beloved) revision of plot and character.

This has been no less true for my second novel, slated for publication (also by David C. Cook) in spring, 2015. 

Readers of How Sweet the Sound have asked if my second book is a sequel, and (((sorry))), it’s not–at least not in the sense that I’m bringing back any aspect of that story, the characters, or the Alabama setting.

However, I do believe readers will find just as much–perhaps even more–hope and redemption, heart-rending characters, aspects of social justice, and a unique and captivating storyline.

I’m not going to reveal much about the plot of my second novel today, except to say that it’s set along the shores of Lake Michigan, and that it involves a  jewelry designer, Nel Stewart, who must discover how decades-old secrets of her aging father’s past instersect with a lost and mysterious aquamarine, in time for them both to find the grace and forgiveness they’ve been longing for all their lives.



Boy standing by wooden gatepost; 1910 Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii Collection (Library of Congress), via


But wait–that picture doesn’t look much like Lake Michigan, does it? That’s because while set in the 1990′s, much of the story involves the plight of a boy who escaped pogrom-torn, Pale of Settlement Ukraine in the early 1900′s. An exceptionally tragic time in history often overshadowed by the Holocaust, as many (if not more) millions of Jews were brutally and mercilessly slaughtered during this time period.  The much-adored musical, Fiddler on the Roof, lends a glimpse into shtetl life during this time, but many countries in the region forbade their citizens to even speak about the massacres, which lasted up until and throughout the Holocaust. In fact, many of the physical reminders such as Jewish cemeteries and synagogues in the regions are being unjustly erased and torn down even today.

My paternal ancestors were turn-of-the-century Ukraine immigrants along with hundreds of thousands of other courageous Jews who escaped these events. As such, I was inspired to write this novel.

Related to that, and as promised, today I’ll tell you the title of this upcoming book, which is…


…hold your breath…

…wait for it…



Then Sings My Soul: A Novel


Aside from being a line from one of my all-time favorite hymns and a nod to the use of a hymn line in the title of my first novel, How Great Thou Art was translated from Swedish to English (and more stanzas were added) by a man named Stuart Hine, who was, in fact, a missionary to Western Ukraine. According to the Gospel Music Hall of Fame,

Stuart K. Hine was born in 1899 in Great Britain. In much of Stuart’s earlier years he and his wife were missionaries in the Western Ukraine of Russia, where they evangelized as Christian workers and singers. In 1931, Stuart K. Hine and his wife returned to Britain and conducted gospel campaigns throughout Great Britain. During those years, Stuart published many song books and wrote many of his beloved gospel songs…Stuart retired from the active ministry but continued to publish his song books and his music and contributed the majority of his income to various missionary endeavors around the world…Stuart K. Hine’s most popular composition is “How Great Thou Art,” which is recognized in many polls as the number one Hymn in America…

One of my favorite recordings of the song is by Carrie Underwood and Vince Gill. Enjoy this incredibly rendition, and stay tuned for cover design and more as the weeks and months go by.

And before you go, it’d be so kind if you’d leave a comment below about what you think about this preview of my second novel!