Thursday, February 28, 2013

Tea With Rosemary Sweepstakes, from Ann Shorey!



I'm so excited to feature my pal Ann Shorey's new book and UNBELIEVABLE contest here at the CCC Blog! I've got her book on my nightstand as we speak and let me tell you--it's another fantastic story by a masterful weaver of historical romances!! See details on her book below as well as contest information and don't hesitate to check out her new book!

Love you, ANN SHOREY!!!


Summary:  In When the Heart Heals, Book 2 in author Ann Shorey’s Sisters at Heart series, Civil War nurse Rosemary Saxon wants to use her skills as a healer in the town of Noble Springs. But the townsfolk, and the town's new doctor, aren't sure what to make of her unconventional ways!
To celebrate the story, Ann and Revell Books are proud to announce the TEA WITH ROSEMARY giveaway, featuring three incredible prizes.

Timeframe & Notifications:  This giveaway starts February 15, 2013 and ends March 7, 2013 @ 11:59 pm (PST)
Winners will be selected Friday, March 8, 2013, and announced right there on her site.

Tea with Rosemary - Grand PrizeGRAND PRIZE:
6 MONTH ARTISAN BREAD CLUB MEMBERSHIP
Rosemary's artisan breads are a town favorite. Our grand prize winner will enjoy fresh-made artisan breads just like Rosemary's, delivered right to their door with a Zingerman's 6 month Bread of the Month Club membership.

Tea with Rosemary - Second PrizeSECOND PRIZE:
GROW YOUR OWN GARDEN STARTER KIT
Rosemary's garden is a source of healing for many in the town of Noble Springs. Our second prize winner can grow their very own herb garden, from the comfort of their kitchen.

Tea with Rosemary - Third PrizeTHIRD PRIZE:
ROSEMARY'S KITCHEN PRIZE PACK
Rosemary's hand-blended teas and soaps are sold at the town mercantile and grocery, and are a favorite of several of the town's eligible bachelors. Our third prize winner will have the chance to create their own special tea blends, and enjoy soap just like Rosemary's. 

How to Enter:
Go to http://www.annshorey.com/contest.html and click the Enter Now button, anytime between February 15 and March 8.

annpagedivider.gif

When the Heart Heals 3d
Book Summary: Courageous and unconventional, Rosemary Saxon served as a nurse during the Civil War, a service that has caused most women in town to regard her as unfeminine and downright vulgar. Although she would like to put her experiences as a nurse behind her, she must support herself. Rosemary takes a position with Dr. Elijah Stewart and a mutual attraction begins to develop.
But when a sophisticated woman arrives in town claiming to be Elijah’s fiancĂ©e, a heartbroken Rosemary decides to leave Noble Springs and start fresh. Can Elijah convince her of the mystery woman's deception before he loses her forever?
Return to the town of Noble Springs, Missouri, for an engrossing story of love’s tentative first steps and fragile future in the face of opposition. Readers will find in Rosemary a sympathetic but strong woman determined to thrive in a world that doesn’t always understand.
Book Info & Sample Chapter: Can be found at http://www.annshorey.com/novels.html

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Friend, A Book, and a Weekend

Well folks!!! This weekend Anne is coming to my place for a long awaited weekend!! We've both finished our manuscripts (well, I've got three more chapters to write, but it'll get done) and we've read each other's books. We'll be chatting over coffee, eating at our favorite restaurants and commiserating on plots, revisions, and the like.

That being said ... TOMORROW check back for some GREAT opportunities to enter and win some great prizes by Ann Shorey, one of my favorite authors!! You won't regret getting to know her latest book and checking out some neato stuff she has planned to feature on our blog.

Then, Friday and Monday you'll not see a post from us as we'll be taking a brief break while we are on our retreat. We'll be back with a bang on Tuesday and anxious to hear from all of you regulars and lurkers :).

Take care ya'll!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Serious Business & Child's Laughter

My daily work as a Family Nurse Practitioner is often serious. I work hard, apply myself diligently, and  serve those I care for. But my work is often in need of a serious balancing-out of body, mind, intellect, soul, and spirit. I know other professionals deal with tough things too--teacher's for instance.

As teachers, pastors, nurses, or any number of other positions--we see the cracking of people's lives--and it's hard to watch sometimes. Cancer, broken families, addictions, anger, physical and emotional pain, abuse, unforgiveness---the list goes on like a tide in a river toward an ocean that makes my tiny efforts feel oh so insignificant.



That is one reason I love stories, read fiction, write, and drink coffee with you all. 
Serious business requires much balance. 

Today, being Monday and the full moon rising (interpretation: people get crazy and rude), I was feeling a particular belch-ness to my day. My wagon was draggin', my spunk had some serious funk, and my glint needed a splint. (and some good poetry too apparently)

Late afternoon, I entered a room thinking to myself--only three left to see before my Monday is done. But behind door number one I witnessed the most amazing testimony to God's transforming power in someone's life. I've never been so blown away by such stark transformation of someone's life--this person was nearly leaping like the crippled man Jesus healed who "went walking, and leaping, and praising God." 


I came out of the room with my jaw slacked. God had just shown up at work in a mighty way. I knew I'd just been in the presence of the Great Healer. Had I really expected so little of My God that I should be so surprised? Then a great humbleness crept over me, and my moodiness and my humdrum doldrums began to lift as I faced the next room.

As I went through door number two, I couldn't even get the words started--"and how is everyone today---?" before I was literally drowned out by three children with fake mustaches pasted on their upper lips. Their eyes bubbled with adventure and mischief as the oldest brother said in his best foreign magician voice--"how may I help you madam?" and they all three burst into giggles. 


Those were the best giggles I've heard in a long time. Serious medicine to my soul. Better than coffee or fiction. 
Serious business requires lot's of giggling.

As I left door number two, I could hardly keep the moisture from clouding my eyes. Such sweetness. But I still had work to do. I entered door three to greet a beautiful, healthy, well-loved, well-adjusted nine month old baby boy with big black eyes. I couldn't keep from smiling, because things were going right in his world.

Serious work--requires much amazement, wonder, and awe.

My husband showed up unexpectedly after I was done behind door three. He took me to supper. We sat and talked about God's agenda, ate good food, and tipped generously before we hopped in our respective vehicles. I pulled around the building, fumbled for my iPod to listen to Matt Redman's 10,000 Reasons album--and I was greeted by a breathtaking view of a huge yellow full moon on the rise. It made me think of everything but how crazy it makes people--but how amazing Our God is. 

On the way home through the country, I watched that beautiful moon in my rearview, as my fore view held the twinkling stars of twilight--and Magnificent piped into my earbuds.

http://images.nationalgeographic.com

Serious work--requires a magnificent Creator.

Is your life balanced?
How has God showed up lately to readjust your perception?
Were you listening for His interruption in your 'serious work'?

Monday, February 25, 2013

Casting Cares in Leather Sofas


Last night was my night to finish my manuscript so Anne could read it before she comes to VISIT ME ON FRIDAY!!!! (yes. that's me screaming the last part due to insatiable excitement). However, my kiddos had other thoughts. Dear Daughter, becuase she was so darn cute and motherly, and Dear Son because he screamed in terror the minute he lost physical contact with another human being. Enter DD, and her innate, inherited-from-Gramma, nurtering heart. (she didn't get it from me, because for all my gushing about my kids, nurturing doesn't come easy for me). She leveled a blue eyed, exasperated look as I jostled my boy and urged him to stop crying.

"Mommy. Give him to me. He needs some Sissy time."
And sure enough, cuddled next to big sister with his blanket and Bubbleguppies on TV, they munched on cinnamon crunchies and he was content. Nurtured. Loved. Soothed by the calming effect of big sister. (yes, that's the actual picture of mini-mommy and her brother).
Watching them, I remembered the nurturing received from our Father--our heavenly Father.
"Come to me, and I will give you rest."
"Be still and know that I am God."
"Be anxious for nothing."
"Cast your cares on Him."
Beautiful. Nurtured. Calming. Our pain, our fear, our anguish, held by one who knows.
So as your week begins, do what doesn't come natural on a hectic Monday morning. Snuggle into our Lord, chew on His promises, and rest knowing ... He's got this.

Has God "got this" for you lately? Bless us by sharing how He has recently blessed you!


Winner of the Dani Pettrey drawing is MRS. TINA!! CONGRATS!! And thanks everyone for the comments. Another opportunity to win an AWESOME prize package from Ann Shorey to celebrate her new book is coming this Thursday!! 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Book Report: Shattered, by Dani Pettrey

Wow!! You all welcomed Dani to our blog this last Wednesday with a flourish! So now you know why I'm so excited to feature Dani's book today for my book report. Shattered is definitely a book you'll read and then read again and then, maybe one more time.

Suspense: Ok. This is for our blog reader Melissa :) who doesn't read suspense but was tempted to try this one and hope it didn't give her nightmares. Let me clarify--there is suspense and then creep-factor-murder-horror-oh-my-gosh-we're-all-gonna-die terror. Dani does not write from that point of view. While there is a death at the beginning of the book, there's no major creep factor. While some danger abounds, the suspense is more of a mystery to be solved. SO read freely, dear Mel, and if you DO get freaked, it's a good excuse for a snuggle with the husband.

Characters: The characters in Shattered continue to the story of siblings. I will clarify that you do NOT need to have read book #1 Submerged to understand or enjoy Shattered. They are both stand-alones, although part of a series. Anywho--yes. Characters. Piper. Our heroine. I will admit she peeved me a bit, until I realized she was headstrong, stubborn, determined, and way too much like me. Except I don't snowboard. I rock climb. There's a difference. She's plucky. That's what I liked about Piper. Plucky and sassy while somehow remarkably vunerable--at least where Landon is concerned. Landon. Enter hero. Enter WAY AMAZING hero. I love heroes. I think they make or break the book. He didn't break the book, he almost broke Piper's heart, but then ... isn't that what makes a great character. Speaking of characters, the sub cast is equally thrilling. I love the siblings--I can see book #3 ramping up with big brother Gage as the hero. Go Dani!

Setting: C'mon. It's Alaska. How is that not the neatest place in the world? Unless you're a die-hard sun/beach fan then we might have a problem. But I love that Dani features the sporting side of the wilderness. Diving, snowboarding, (hopefully climbing is coming) and skiing. Snowshoeing--that would be good too, Dani--I love to snowshoe. Anyway, if you're even remotely a wilderness nut like myself, you'll totally enjoy this setting. Wave goodbye to the city, hello mountains, avalanches, icey water, and snowflakes.

Romance: Pitter patter worthy? No. Not really. SLAM SLAM SLAM worthy! That's my heart. Almost had a heartattack. Be sure you have heart insurance 'cause Dani stretches it to the limit with this one. Landon and Piper are at each other, for each, irritating each other, doubting each other, and every other-other you can think of.

Spiritual Content: Dani is definitely a die hard Jesus freak. But her books are tasteful and not in your face. However, the Spiritual thread is thick and you CAN walk away having learned something to apply to your walk of faith. I really appreciate that about Dani's books and perhaps is the best takeaway. Being able to be ministered to through a fiction novel is awesome. Love love love it.

SO a massive 27 stars to Dani's latest. Usually it's 5 stars but I think 27 is more accurate. Check out a full synopsis of the book at Dani's awesome website. And we're giving away a copy! How cool is that? So here's how you can win:

1. Leave a comment
2. If you already left a comment earlier this week, then hop on over to Anne's Facebook page and my Facebook page - like us and leave a wall post letting us know you did. That will gain you an entry.

We'll announce the winner on Monday, so you have all weekend to wait on pins and needles! :)
Winner of Becky Wade's My Stubborn Heart is: strgth4yu---please leave us your email!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursday's Coffee: Jamaican-Me-Crazy!

Why do I like to read and write fiction (and drink coffee)?
  www.freedigitalphotos.net
Because sometimes a little crazy, and a little adventure is a good thing right? 
www.freedigitalphotos.net
Sometimes life is like writing a novel--there's a beginning, middle, and end. In the author world, one of the biggest challenges in the middle is to keep it from "sagging"--you don't want to lose the attention of your reader.  So, there are little things like conflict, adventure, goals, motivation, and romance to keep the reader's interest.

In real life, we have to work hard to keep our "middle from sagging"(I'm speaking of our life-story, but exercise is good prevention too!) Routine and predictability can be good, but not when we don't make room in our plot for the twists and turns God wants to write into our stories. So, whether you're at the beginning of a marriage and a parenting journey--or if you've hit midlife and you're empty nesting--or in the golden years--make a little room for crazy adventure.
A River Runs Through It

Perhaps it's just the right prescription to hang onto your goals, your motivations--and your romance.
Sweet Home Alabama: "Why would you want to marry me for anyhow?--So I can kiss you any time I want!"

Good fiction, like a great cup of Jamaican-Me-Crazy, should inject a little crazy--a little spice, a little something out of the ordinary. It should make you think, see something in a new light, make you laugh--and feel a little warm inside.

So, brew your crazy, 'cuz coffee's up!  

What is the craziest adventure you've been on? 
Please share!
What's on your bucket list?
Do you ever think God injects some crazy to keep your attention?






Wednesday, February 20, 2013

An Interview & Giveaway with Suspense Writer, Dani Pettrey


Jaime here. One of the things I love about mingling with the writing world is the opportunity to read new authors AND get to know them! Enter Dani Pettrey. Her first book, Submerged sent me into a tailspin. I love historicals and here I was, consumed until the wee hours of the morning with a suspense novel. Way cool. Since then, I've been able to get to know Dani a bit and she's guesting on our blog today for an interview and in prep for a book report and GIVEAWAY on Friday for her latest and greatest Shattered.
Hey Dani - so great to have you here! Let's jump right in. Your books are based in Alaska - the Final Frontier ;). Have you been to Alaska and what made you pick that as your location for this series?

Unfortunately I haven't had the pleasure of visiting Alaska yet, but I would absolutely love to visit. My dream trip would include seeing the Aurora Borealis, cruising along the Inside Passage, sea kayaking in Prince William Sound, bear viewing in Kodiak, hiking Denali, a flightseeing trip of Mt. McKinley, Glacier/Wildlife Cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park, and of course, being a moose fan, no trip would be complete without seeing my favorite animal.  
I chose Alaska as my location because I wanted a setting full of adventurous possibilities, someplace you could push the normal boundaries (extreme weather, remote areas, etc.), and Alaska provided a wonderful backdrop with an inherent risk of danger if not properly prepared for the extremes you can encounter there.  
In your first book, "Submerged", you mixed a LOT of history in as the background for your plot. In "Shattered", it didn't include much, if any history. Are you a history buff, or do you just like to shake it up from book to book :)?

I am a huge history buff—particularly the Medieval and Regency periods. Including Russian history in Submerged worked great with the story. It naturally fell into place. In Shattered, I originally had a secondary historical thread, but discovered fairly quickly into my rough draft that it wasn’t right for the story, so I pulled it. Story always comes first.

So, Landon and Piper ... heatstroke. The romance was palpable. But then the suspense was equally heart-pounding. Do you have an equation to know how to balance both so perfectly to keep your story moving?
 
I’m not a plotter (or a math fan J), so I definitely don’t have an equation, but in the romantic suspense genre there is a sort of unwritten rule of 50% romance and 50% suspense. I think that often ends up being the case whether intentionally or unintentionally. You’re telling a romance amidst a suspense backdrop or vice-versa. I’m extremely fortunate to have amazing editors that have an excellent feel for when either area needs strengthening, and that’s where revisions come in.

Who was your favorite "sub character" in "Shattered and why?

Karli Davis, the murder victim. Karli is killed at the opening of Shattered, but getting to share her story throughout the book through clues, others’ eyes, and the little traces she’d left behind proved an interesting challenge. Getting to tell a story from the viewpoint of someone who’s no longer able to speak for herself was fascinating.

There's a definitive Spiritual thread running through your books. What is your main goal for including that and why do you write Inspirational fiction?

I don’t have a goal. It’s simply that my relationship with Jesus is part of every facet of my life, so it only feels natural for it to be part of the stories I tell. Just as my love of adventure permeates the stories, so does my faith. 

Coffee or tea? Why? :)

Coffee because you can add chocolate to it and it tastes delicious :)

If you were caught in a cabin after an avalanche ;), what three items would you want with you (assuming you already have your Bible)?

Coffee, chocolate and a cell phone with killer reception :)

Great choice, Dani! LOL So thanks for joining us today. I'm really excited about the opportunity to give your book away to some lucky duck! 

Readers, you'll definitely want to hang around the CCC blog this week. For every comment you leave (one per day) on any post from this week, you'll be entered to win Dani's new book Shattered. You won't be disappointed and trust me, Dani's book will have you on the edge of your seat!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"The End"

After a year of writing, I've finally finished my WIP.
What Sweet Satisfaction to finally type the words: 
THE END.

But finishing up the writing of a novel gives much more of an afterglow than finishing up the reading of one. Just like a reader may not want to start reading a new novel with her favorite characters still dancing in her head, so the writer has a challenge to move on to the next story.

Well, I'm still basking--totally not thinking of my next WIP yet.
Because, my final scene looks something like this:

My heroine


A Haven in the Snowstorm


And her Hero who brings her home...
(try to imagine him in the snow too--because I totally see it in my head! LOL.)

What books or movies left you with that afterglow of a satisfying ending?

My votes: Pride & Prejudice, North & South, Bride in the Bargain, and this week's give away--My Stubborn Heart.

How important is the pace of the ending to your level of satisfaction as a reader?

Have you read a book that the end dragged on and on, or one that you felt the author was sick of their own story and rushed to the end? How did that affect your satisfaction?

Monday, February 18, 2013

100th Blog Post!

In honor of our 100th blog post, today's devotion is Psalms 100:

Courtesy of Anne's Garden.
His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

A Psalm for giving thanks.

100 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and not we ourselves;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.


There are times in life when God has to biff me and remind me that I am not Him. And boy am I glad I'm not. 

Everywhere we look, God's hand is at work. In the change and order of the seasons. In the morning sunrise to the moonset. 

Spring is my favorite time of the year and will soon be upon us. I love it because it symbolizes rebirth, new life, and the beauty of fresh beginnings. I'm itching to get into my spring gardens.

What are you rejoicing for today?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Book Review: My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade



Jump on the comment board today for the after Valentine's Day special give away of Becky Wade's My Stubborn Heart.

Hook Factor? She had me at the prologue! I'd say that is a major accomplishment. A prologue that can make this mama giggle on the first page remembering how I prayed as a young woman for a husband, and pull my heart in on the second page about how I pray for Godly spouses for my children is crazy hook! Seriously giggle. Then sigh. 

Sweetheart Factor? Oh yeah! Kate Donovan is a mix of change factor that says Anne of Green Gables, yet the beauty and spunk of Audrey Hepburn. And Matt Jarreau, well, I've not read such a well crafted male character in a long time--bravo Becky for the masculine viewpoint and major SWOON FACTOR!

Nothing says Valentine's Day like My Stubborn Heart!

Back Cover Blurb:
     Kate Donovan is burned out on work, worn down by her dating relationships, and in need of an adventure. When her grandmother asks her to accompany her to Redbud, Pennsylvania, to restore the grand old house she grew up in, Kate jumps at the chance.
     Upon her arrival in Redbud, Kate meets Matt Jarreau, the man hired to renovate the house. Kate can't help being attracted to him, drawn in by both his good looks and something else she can't quite put her finger on. He's clearly wounded--hiding from people, from God, and from his past. Yet Kate sets her stubborn heart on bringing him out of the dark into the light...whether he likes it or not.
     When the stilted, uncomfortable interactions betweenKate and Matt slowly shift into something more, is God finally answering the longing of her heart? Or will Kate be required to give up more than she ever dreamed?

Enjoyability Factor: A "10" on the light hearted scale!

Meet Becky at beckywade.com


Becky's a California native who attended Baylor University, met a Texas boy, and settled in Dallas.  She published historical romances for the ABA, then put her career on hold for several years to care for her three children.  When God called her back to writing, Becky knew He meant for her to write Christian fiction.  Her CBA debut, My Stubborn Heart, was released by Bethany House last Spring.  Her next contemporary romance, Undeniably Yours, will hit shelves in May!

We can't wait to read your next release Becky!

Readers: 
Do you save old cards from your sweetheart and reread them?
Do you, or did you have a "list" of attributes you want/ed in a husband?
"Timing is everything"--how is/was God's timing faithful in your love life?
Enter a comment for a chance to win a signed free copy. Drawing will be announced February 22nd. Continental US only.

I'll go first: 
Yes, I save old cards and reread them! (I'm a total sap!)
Yes, I had a list--then one day I realized he was "the one" but he didn't show up in the exact vision I'd created--no wonder I didn't recognize him at first!
I knew my spouse before I went to college--acquaintance only. I drove 16 hrs away to attend a church college in Kansas. Charging toward the Ad building to register at 5pm before the doors closed, he was the first person I met along the sidewalk. I said, "Hi Ted." He said, "Hi, Anne." Then he proceeded to visit my room several times a day to see if my roommate had arrived (he had dated her)--but she had apparently gotten engaged to someone else and never showed up. But Ted kept visiting me...and the rest is HIStory....  





Thursday, February 14, 2013

Who's Your Valentine?

It's the daaaaaay of Luh-ve! :)
Now's your chance to brag and rejoice-- Who's Your Valentine? :)

... or what makes your Valentine's Day special, perfect, fun?

Oh yes! And! WINNER of last Friday's book "The Tutor's Daughter", by Julie Klassen is .... LAURA MCCLELLAN - Congrats, Laura!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Best Movie Kisses...


 Teen Choice Awards do it, so why can't CCC Blog? Here's to Valentines' Day and my Top 3 BEST MOVIE KISSES ever ... doesn't hurt to prepare for a little V-day romance, right? :) (in no particular order:


 
 
Aside from the fact the Gerard Butler could be the cast male lead for about every book hero that sits in my brain, P.S. I Love You has to be one of the best kisses I've ever seen. It's love, pure and simple, joyful love. So many kisses are passion filled, emotionally driven. P.S. I Love You's kiss was JOY. I love it when a movie infuses a new emotion.
 




Anne can attest I practically swooned and melted right off the couch when Richard Armitage moved in the for the kiss. I love period films so he had me at the get-go anyway, but his hard exterior was washed away in the tenderness of his eyes when he finally let her peel away the layers of his heart. Happy sigh.


 
I have to include my all-time kiss. I mean we waited 8 hours for it! "I don't need diamond sunsets or marble halls, I just. need. you."
Anne of Green Gables culminated all my childhood dreams of romance ... and Gilbert wasn't so bad looking either ;)
 
What's your favorite movie kisses?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tax Survival Kit


"Inner Peace...Let it begin with me...."

This comic posted on our bathroom door at work about sums up my approach to surviving the tax season at our house.

After sitting over seven hours working on taxes Saturday, I've decided the top 5 things I need to survive taxes are:

5. Hot Chocolate
4. Double Chocolate brownies
3. Chocolate Mocha
2. Chocolate Kisses

and...

1. Nutella.

So, until taxes and FAFSA are done, I'm counting on chocolate for survival!
I hope you get a chuckle out of this like I did.

Oh, and come by on Friday this week to find out about this week's Valentine's book give away!



Monday, February 11, 2013

Legend of Love

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, I watched Legends of the Fall this weekend. I know, right? duh. Originally, I just got caught up in the scenery of my beloved Montana, however, I also was sucked into a storyline I'd long forgotten. Let's just say it wasn't the typical Valentine's Day flick ... definitely not Ever After.

I was struck by the bittersweet theme of intense love and hatred--all of it lost at the end of the movie.
The eldest brother says to the wild Tristan:
"I followed all the rules, man's and God's. And you, you followed none of them. And they all loved you more..."
The "good" brother envies the wild brother, yet while loved, Tristan still lived a life alone, ostracized, guilty, scandelous, unfaithful, broken, haunted...because of the emptiness in his soul that he could not flee. Interesting that it was something to be envied.

The credits rolled and I remarked wryly to my husband, "well, that was a pleasant film."
He nodded. "Pretty depressing wasn't it?"
I was quiet then remarked, "I'm glad I watched it. It reminds me of the emptiness of man no matter how you spin it. Without God as the center, following the rules of any man, ourselves, or even what we see as the laws of God, is futile. Worthless, loveless, plunder."

As Valentine's Day rolls around it reminds me of man's quest to fulfill that deep inner need for a fulfilling love. Several people in my office become number one grumps on Valentine's Day--thwarted in love--and all that.

Our first year of marriage found me crushed on Valentine's Day. It came and went. Not a card, not a flower, not a specially reserved kiss for the day. I ended the night in tears--much to the chagrin of a bewildered husband. The conversation when something like:
"What'd I do?"
"DO? What DIDN'T you do? It's VALENTINE'S DAY!"
"So?"
"SO!"
"It's a man-made holiday for people who need to be reminded to say 'I love you'."
"EXACTLY!"
"Oh." He paused, and stared at me with the clarity of overly logical blue eyes. He responded, not sarcastic or witty, just an honest inquiry. "You really want a card coerced by a holiday and hype to tell you I love you? Wouldn't you rather I do it of my own accord when you're not expecting it on that day when you need me the most?"

STAB! UGH! Sigh...oh m' gosh how romantic was that? A man who didn't want to be TOLD by a holiday what he MUST do. A man who preferred to express his love on his own terms, from his own soul...

And isn't that was love is? Honest, pure, selfless, sacrificial ... In Legends, every character sought love to fulfill their emptiness. Love was not given it was taken.

In the end of the movie the narrater speaks: "I always thought Tristan would die young, but it was everyone else he loved who was lost. He was the rock that they broke against."

This Valentine's Day, strive to give sacrificially to the ones who mean the most. Flee from the temptation to hoard love to yourself in an effort to satisfy your personal longings. Don't be the rock that your loved ones break against, instead, show them the love of Jesus--that sacrificial Man who was broken for the ones He loved.

Friday, February 8, 2013

VLOG: Book Report - The Tutor's Daughter, by Julie Klassen

It's a VLOG day! Book review on Julie Klassen's UH-mazing new book called "The Tutor's Daughter". Try and get passed the pained frozen expression on my face in the video window below and press "play" to see how YOU can WIN a copy of this fantastic novel! :)



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lay Off the Expresso!

My Wednesday...

I work full time. And I try to write. I'm a mom, wife, daughter to awesome parents who live next door (hi mom), and I have various church committees---you get the idea--my life is like most of yours---way too busy.
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So on my Wednesdays "off" I try to cram it all in--and I don't mean nail filing and bon-bons. Nope, it's the usual fare--laundry, dishes, bills, taxes, FAFSA, swift, vac, recycling, pharmacy pit stop, groceries, haircuts, oh and mail ice skates to my college daughter who texted me last night to say she needed her skates for a blind pick-a-date Friday. (essentials right? who knew...)

So I managed to get in 1044 words on the climactic scene of my nearly finished WIP by 10 a.m. and was feeling pretty good about this--dreaming of getting everything done and getting back to it later in the day. 

But my list--yes, I'm a list maker type (no surprise), was looming large over me. Blech.
I motored my van next door to mom's, inhaled a bowl of warm homemade tapioca, fixed Dad's computer, kissed their cheeks and off town I went basking in the sunshine.

All the way through the fruit and veggie section I was mentally ticking things off my list, happy I didn't have a long list and I'd already gotten the recycling done. Then I rounded the toilet paper and women's personal paper items aisle. I passed a little old lady picking out Poise incontinence pads, and I'm telling you I'm sure I heard God say--slow down, I want you to help her. But my feet kept walking, my brain kept ticking through the list in my head as I turned back to check if she really looked like she was that needy.

"Hey lady, I need some help, can you help me?" She says. <looking all around, no one else in aisle> Seriously, she didn't look like she was in peril, but I turn to help her.

Okay, she couldn't have been 90 pounds soaking wet. Last time she got the wrong size she tells me, "way too wide, way too long." Wow, poor girl, I'm thinking nothing golden about this, but my sympathy is aroused. We start looking at labels, size diagrams, etc. She seems a little confused about the width and length vs. the thickness--I try to explain about absorption (loudly due to her hardness of hearing), wondering if she should even be shopping alone.

But she's not alone said God, you are here to help her, so slow down and relax into your day with Me.

Finally, I locate the proper one and convince her this will do her just about right and she asks me how much it is, "I can't see well enough to read the price. I thought I was done with all this, but I guess at 84, you start all over again."  She smiled sweetly. Golden. 

She thanked me and I went on. Later, in my van Jesus reminded me--slow down, relax into this day with Me. Stop rushing everywhere. Breath in. Look, I've sent you some sunshine. Are you feeling your shoulders relax now? Wasn't she cute? He says. 

Yes Lord, she was cute.

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That will be you some day you know, He says, so stop drinking life like an expresso and start dragging it in long and slow like you do the first sip of your morning joe, letting it swirl on your tongue and relax you as it slides down to your middle.

I smiled. Okay Lord. I got the message--lay off the expresso.

What about you? 
Have you been in the fast lane? Are you an obsessed list-maker high on a coffee bean?
Did God send you any Golden old ladies shopping for Poise incontinence pads today?
Man, He sure has a sense of humor....

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fifty Shades of Brown

Fifty shades of brown...I'm a mother and a nurse, this could get ugly. Errr--but I'm really talking about toast--(not coffee.)

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A week or so before Christmas my wonderful husband was making breakfast with me in the kitchen one Saturday. He put the bread in the toaster and I so kindly said,
 "ah honey, those back slots in the toaster don't work."

He replied,
  "ah, yes dear they do, look it's all red hot in there." (the conflict rose)

   "But dear, the automatic pop-up part is broke." (he gives me the--I'm right eyeball)

    "Don't worry, I got it," he says--then turns to flip the eggs. We dive deeper into our morning chit-chat and  you guessed it---a plume of smoke is rushing from the toaster under the cabinet ready to torch the kitchen and set off the smoke alarm. (the plot thickened)

He does a crazy dance trying to shut it off, run out the door and throw the charred pathetic piece of toast into the snow where it steamed and sizzled. He came back in looking a bit defeated. (it got hot in the kitchen and I planted a sweet kiss on his cheek)

And... I got him a toaster for Christmas. I love my---err--his toaster. It gets the toast just the right shade of a lovely brown.

And as I marveled over my lovely assembled-in-Canada Kitchen Aid toaster this morning, and the lovely shade of brown, I wondered-----about Fifty Shades of Gray, and what is the just-right shade of romance in a novel?

I've heard that Fifty Shades of Gray was a craze because of its sensuality--at least by someone's definition. I wouldn't know, I didn't read it. Mainly because I'm quite certain it wouldn't fit my definition of acceptable romance.

So, readers. Christian men and women--what is the just right, acceptable definition of romance in a "Christian" novel?

I mean, I like it a little "toasty" in the kitchen with my sweet man.

The publishing houses have guidelines for writer's to follow.

Would you, or have you ever stopped reading a Christian romance because it crossed too far past your definition? or because it wasn't "toasty" enough? 

Have you ever not purchased a Christian romance novel because you were too embarrassed to been seen in public with its "bit too shiny" cover?


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Deep in the Heart of Crazy

The writing process can take an already nutso wack job and turn them into something worthy of a straight jacket. That's about where I am now. Deep in the heart of Crazy.

My week so far (and it's only Tuesday morning, so this isn't saying much):

  • it took me four times of leaking tea all over my shirt at work to realize my coffee mug with thermos cap had a leak... meanwhile, I'm soaking wet
  • it took me ten times of digging around for my cell phone to check the time to realize there is a clock on my desktop, on my desk phone, and on my Start taskbar...meanwhile, my cell battery is running low due to how many times I've lit it up to check the time
  • it took me an hour of dancing in my chair to realize there IS a bathroom down the hall and I'm NOT a three year old in pull-ups...meanwhile, 'nuf said
  • it took me all day craving a piece of gum to realize I have an entire pack in my desk drawer about 12" from my right hand ... meanwhile, it's still a full pack of gum
 I'm trying to finish my manuscript before Anne comes to see me on March 1st. We want to exchange works by mid-Feb so we can read each other's literary masterpieces and be fully versed to ready ourselves for the massive publicity ride on their releases'. *wink, wink* That being said, I'm at work -- working?! -- while plotting in my head. Where is the dead body that I decided would go missing but even I don't know where it is, let alone my villain? When does the doctor just kiss the girl and get it over with - really? Wasting time here. And so the world moves on and I in my absentminded state, seem ready for the loony bin.

It's not just writers who have moments of crazy is it? Nah. Didn't think so. And now that I shared not one but SEVERAL moments of crazies ... it's your turn?! Any funny  moments so far this week?