Thursday, July 31, 2014

#TBT What is it?

Today's Throwback Thursday is a "What is it?"

I'll give you some hints.

  • It was photographed at Waveland Plantation, Lexington, KY
  • It was on a dresser in a guest room
  • The house was built in 1844-48 by Daniel Boone Bryan, well-to-do descendant of Daniel Boone and successful hemp grower and livestock breeder.
  • The strand you see is fishing line thread tethering the item so nobody can pocket it and walk off with it (Result of there being no ropes or barricades behind which tourists were required to stand. We were free to walk around any room and view the artifacts up close--my kind of museum!)
Let me know in your comments if you've ever seen one of these before and what you think its use might've been.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Not Yet vs. Never Again

Photo courtesy of Joriel "Joz" Jimenez
The writer's life is full of brick walls. And we occasionally run into them--hard. Recently, my buddy and fellow blogger Jaime experienced a rejection of a novella she'd submitted. As we talked about it, I told her it wasn't a "No" it was a "Not Yet." Her time is coming, it just hasn't arrived with this particular novella.

Rejection in any form hurts, and when it's something you want so badly and have poured so much of yourself into, it hurts deeply. In order to get over/around that brick wall, you have to pick yourself up, dry your tears, and get back into the fray, and that takes fortitude, strength, and occasionally a great deal of girl-friend support and chocolates. 

That being said, as we talked, I realized (and expressed to her) that the wait for a writing contract during my recent drought was harder on me than the many rejections I garnered before before I was a published author. These brick walls were bigger to me, harder to climb over, longer to walk around, much more difficult to recover from after I'd hit one.  

Doubts trickled, crept, and finally boldly sashayed into my head.

Now, I'm no stranger to writer's doubts (Which is, I suspect, the root cause of most cases of that phenomenon we term "Writer's Block.) Every author I've ever talked to wonders "Can I do it again? Can I finish another book? What if it isn't as good as the last one? What if someone finally realizes I'm a fraud, that I can't write, that any success I've had up to now has been a complete and utter fluke? What if I can't meet my deadlines? What if..."

But for me me the niggling, gnawing, devouring doubt that came to dominate my mind was 

"What if my Not Yet has turned into Never Again?" 

What if I never had a publishing contract again? Would I be okay with that?

This called for some serious prayer and thought. I found that I was holding so tightly to the attained earthly treasure that Someone would've had to break my heart's fingers to get it from my grasp. Instead of holding my writing up as an offering to God to do with what He wanted, I was clinging to it tighter than a miser to a gold coin.

After prayer, confession, vacillating between being open and honest one moment and lying to myself and God about my motives and heart condition the next, I came to a crossroads. 

I had to stop asking God "What are You doing?" and start saying "Whatever You are doing is all right by me." You see, the former question makes a few assumptions, and I wasn't totally cognizant of the ramifications. By asking God what He was doing, I was implying that
  • perhaps He didn't know what He was doing, 
  • perhaps what He was doing wasn't the best for me, and that 
  • perhaps I could do better if He'd just turn over the reins.

WHAT? I would never say those things to God, would I? 

Gulp. Mea culpa -- big time.

I needed a Come to Jesus meeting. More than one, as it turned out. And it's this time of writing in the wilderness that God has used to bring to light my misconceptions, areas that I was holding on to, the doubts and fears that were keeping me from trusting Him fully. Until I was prepared to acknowledge my place in God's universe and His rightful place in my life, my publishing life was on hold.

Dear Reader, don't mistake me here. God is not some celestial slot machine who, if we pump in enough coins of the right denominations and pull the lever, will shower us with our heart's desire. I wasn't bargaining with God in order to get Him to send me a publishing contract. God doesn't work that way, nor should we treat Him in that fashion. All I'm saying here is that God is using my walk through publishing to teach me more about Him, more about myself, and more about my need to become aware of and throw off my sinful mindset and adopt the mind of Christ. Have I learned everything He hoped I would? Nope, undoubtedly not. Will I have to revisit these lessons? Absolutely. Have I grown spiritually as a result? Yep.

If God said "Never Again" for publishing for me, it would hurt. I can't lie about that. I love writing fiction, I love the writer community, I love meeting readers, I love everything about being an author. I would miss it, and I would grieve. But I'm learning through this journey's ups and downs that the One Thing that doesn't change is my God, who is always sovereign, always seeking my best, and always ready to forgive and help me grow in Him. I need to daily throw myself into trusting that He knows what is best for me, that He does know what He's doing, and that whatever that is is all right by me.

I want to thank you for celebrating the new writing contracts with me. I hope you can celebrate even more the spiritual lessons I've learned and am still learning through this process. 


The winner of last weeks' gift card is:


Congratulations, Amy! You should receive an email from me soon!


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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How to be a hater

I have learned to hate.

Hate is a driving force that spurs me to action, opinion, and determination. Weirded out yet? Yeah. I guess that’s not your typical opening statement for a devotional. But hate — in the correct context — can make a lot of sense.

Paul the Apostle stated it best when he said: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15 ESV)

I do the very thing that I hate. There is so much of my sinful self that I have come to despise. My impatience is one of them. When I have projects to complete, I become driven — focused — and my two year old suffers. The other night he was following me close on my heels, like a needy little puppy dog. I turned and snapped “go watch Bubbleguppies!”
Like really — what kid doesn’t want their mother to tell them to watch TV? The look in his big baby browns just about killed me. Sadness. Mommy didn’t want his help, or his prancing on tiptoes singing, “I may never march in the infary, toot in the tootery”. Mommy was too busy. He hung his head and without question returned to his banishment on the couch and the cheerful cartoons went over his head as he buried his face in his blanket.

I have come to hate the darkness inside of me.

“For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (Romans 7:18 ESV)

As humanity, we have formed a culture that fights for the right to act on our fleshly impulses. But as Paul defines, those impulses are “nothing good”. Strangely enough, in our fight for human rights, we have also fought for the right to damage, wound, impale, break, and scar those around us. For sin does not only affect ourselves. It does not only affect our relationship to God. It touches others in a rippling effect of pain.

“I have the desire to do what is right…” — I do. I really do. “…but not the ability to carry it out.” Failure. Morbid utter condemnation.

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25a ESV)

I stared at my son while I was consumed with hatred for the sin inside of me that caused me to selfishly snap at my child, wounding his spirit of joy and creating even a smidgen of doubt that I wanted his presence in my life.

“Are you mad at Mommy, buddy?”

He nodded.

“I’m sorry.” I whispered it. He turned and his cheeks stretched into a smile. Sitting up, he patted my knee with all the love he could muster.

“It’s o-tay.”

He understood. Why? Because he’s already been there too. In his own tiny sinful self, he knows what it’s like to wound. He knows what it’s like to ask forgiveness.

Thanks be to God … to Jesus Christ our Lord … for in and of myself, I will continue to wound, to scar, to walk in darkness. But in Jesus, I find life, healing, strength, and the ability to claim His victory over my sinful self.

I have learned to love. I have learned to love life — and the righteousness found therein.

What have you learned to hate about your old nature and/or what new character has God recently taught you?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Life Lessons From Jane Eyre

This week I watched the BBC version of Jane Eyre with my daughter who'd never read the book or watched the movie. It was a great delight to see her enjoy the story.
My Mom's 1950 Random House copy of Jane Eyre
I'd read the book in high school and watched the movie with Jaime. But this time, I learned afresh something from Charlotte Bronte's vision and masterful story telling. I was intrigued by Jane's childhood relationship with Helen Burns at Lowood Orphanage. Of course, everyone loves Jane Eyre for the interesting romance between Jane and Mr. Rochester, but this time I saw the need for Helen's part in the story. Some argue that the story should have skipped the orphanage scenes--all useless and boring backstory. They might argue that it should have started on the road when she runs into Mr. Rochester's horse and unseats him, twisting his ankle and launching their "meet cute".

I for one, am glad that in 1847, backstory wasn't banished from publication like it is now. Otherwise, we would not know Helen Burns, who exemplifies a breath of heaven to me. And I think she did for Jane as well.

After Jane's Aunt Reed dumped her at the orphanage, failing to keep her promise to care for Jane and effectually making her destitute, Jane is left to a fate of enduring suffering at the hands of whatever refuge she might find. While we immediately feel empathy for her plight, indeed, no one in this life whether wealthy or destitute is exempt from suffering. Though in Jane we seem to watch it unfold as if she is detached from our own suffering--that is until we see her with Helen.

With Helen, Jane grapples with something so universal that it stunned me. Do we accept our fate and suffering in this world with great chafing or great endurance? Jane meets Helen after Helen has been reprimanded so severely by the headmaster, that Jane believes it an injustice. She learns Helen's name and that she is from the north. She asks if Helen will return there. Helen's response after having been cruelly humiliated: "No: why should I? I was sent to Lowood to get an education; and it would be of no use going away until I have attained that object."

Jane then protests that Miss Scatcherd was so cruel. Helen: "Cruel? Not at all! She is severe: she dislikes my faults." To which Jane replies: "and if I were in your place I should dislike her; I should resist her; if she struck me with that rod, I should get it from her hand; I should break it under her nose." (YES!! Go Jane!!)

But dear Helen replies: "Probably you would do nothing of the sort; but if you did, Mr. Brocklehurst would expel you from the school; that would be a great grief to your relations. It is far better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you;  and, besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil."

Jane persists: "But then it seems disgraceful to be flogged, and to be sent to stand in the middle of a room full of people; and you are such a great girl: I am far younger than you, and I could not bear it."
And Helen gently reproves her: "Yet it would be your duty to bear it, if you could not avoid it: it is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be required to bear."

And then Jane's inner response: 'I heard her with wonder: I could not comprehend this doctrine of endurance; and still less could I understand or sympathize with the forbearance she expressed for her chastiser. Still I felt that Helen Burns considered things by a light invisible to my eyes. I suspected she might be right and I wrong.'

I believe it is Helen's light of the gospel that dawned in Jane's conscience, and yet how amazing that Helen accepted it so willingly and deeply at such a childish age. As a youngster I was more like Jane, perhaps still am. I went kicking and protesting my punishment for wrong, striking my hard heeled shoes against the wooden floors of my room beside the register, in order that all through the house, my protests would be known, though my voice silenced. I chafed at my perceived injustice then, and I love Helen Burns for being so blunt and matter of fact in her endurance. Perhaps she was sent to Jane, sent to us. Her life was shortened by consumption (TB), and perhaps she was gifted with endurance for her fate--a fate that heralded the light of the gospel for those of us more chafing, and of slower learning of conscience and forbearance.

Perhaps, it was all Helen's Light that helped Jane endure the pages of her story that followed?

Have you read Jane Eyre?
What do you love the most about Bronte's story?
Movie or book?
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday's Coffee Table Talk

Sorry, no book report from us today! All three of us seem to have hit the wall with our schedules. I've just finished six long weeks of a wild and car--azy work schedule. Jaime has been pounding out the last chapters of writing her current book. And Erica, well, she has book contracts raining down on her!

So, what's on your coffee table?  Pour the coffee! Pull up your chair to our coffee table! What are you reading right now? Please post a list of your current fun book, your To-Be-Read list, or your plans for summer relaxation and vacation ideas.
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

TBT: Eastman Kodak 1923

My house does not look like a Kodak shot. My life does not look like a Pinterest Board. Outside the cropped lines and Pinterest Boards, are dirty laundry, crumbs on the floor, wrinkled clothes, dishes in the sink, and unmade beds. Pictures bring us a moment in time--usually the moment of beauty and order before disaster strikes. But they remain as reminders of the perfection and beauty we love and strive for. They remain as captured moments, our views of majestic creation, our moments of love.

Several weeks ago while camping, several friends of ours hopped in their pick up truck and hit the road to find some garage sales. Some were a complete bomb. But, we hit one on the lake where an awesome gentleman showed us around his Hosta Gardens. Every Genus and species of Hostas known to man was in his garden, labeled and amazing. Inside, he revealed a collection of old Kodak cameras that he'd collected for their antique booth. He was as much of an expert of the Kodaks as he was the Hostas!

Anne exclaimed in muted glee: "What's this?"

"It's an old Kodak." He opened it up and showed me....I'm was salivating.....

He showed me how it worked and where to look inside for the patent. It's at least a 1923 Pocket Kodak, the first patented listed in the U.S. is 1913.

It still has a stylus---no, electronic styluses were not the first to be used!

On the back, a small shade is lowered and the stylus is used to write onto the film, the name or place and date the photo is taken. The writing then appeared on the photo.

I wish I could get my hands on some old film cartridges to try!

Do you love old pics?
Old cameras?
Great finds?
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Time to Celebrate!!!!!

My nephew, Andrew (7) is somewhere behind this sparkler.

It's time to celebrate!

After what seemed to me to be a ridiculously long drought between contracts, (just over 2 years) I'm THRILLED to announce that I've experienced a change in the writing weather patterns. Back in April of this year, I wrote a guest post for Seekerville, one of my favorite blogs for writers, about what to do when that next contract doesn't come and doesn't come and doesn't come. You can find the blog post HERE.

A mere TWO weeks after that post aired, I received the wonderful news from my lovely agent, Rachelle Gardner of Books and Such Literary Management that we had sold a novella! SQUEE! "A Palace On the Plains" will debut in The Homestead Brides Collection from Barbour Publishing February 1st, 2015 (And EEP! I just learned that this collection is available for pre-order at! You can find it by clicking HERE.)

Joy, excitement, relief! More excitement. I was off the schnied!!!

Then, another thing happened!!! I received word from my publisher, Barbour Publishing, that they were releasing my last three Heartsong novels in one book called Colorado Dawn, which would be available December 1st of this year, just in time for Christmas. SQUEE, SQUEE! (This title, too, is available for pre-order through amazon by clicking HERE.)

One of my favorite book covers ever! So beautiful!

Then, as if those two weren't enough, Rachelle phoned me to say we'd sold a trade-length novel! SQUEE!! SQUEE!! SQUEE!!!! THE CACTUS CREEK CHALLENGE will release from Barbour Publishing July 2015. I'm super excited about this story. It was so much fun to write. I'm currently in the final polishing stages of this one before I turn it in to my editor.

My daughter's favorite celebration picture for my blogs. :D

Things couldn't get any better, could they? That's what I thought, until last Friday when I got MORE NEWS! TWO more of my novellas had been chosen for inclusion in TWO MORE collections!! WHAT????? CRAZY!!!! "The Archaeologist's Find" (thank you, Jaime for help brainstorming titles for this one) will appear in The Eligible Bachelors Collection, and "A Bride for Bear" will appear in The Convenient Brides Collection in the summer and fall of 2015.


God's timing is perfect...not just sorta good, not mostly beneficial, and certainly not random. His timing is perfect. I am praising Him for this opportunity to do what I love. The most important thing I'm learning is to praise him in the drought and in the flood, in the sunshine and in the rain, in the time of waiting and in the time of fulfillment. 

To celebrate this wonderful news and all the lessons God is teaching me, I'm giving away a 10$ amazon gift card to one reader. All you have to do is share with me one bit of recent good news that you've gotten recently and share the link to this blog on Facebook or Twitter or via email to a friend. Be sure to include in your comment where you shared the link.