Saturday, March 30, 2013

Book Report: Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White

Romantic intrigue. 
Fascinating history. 
Intelligent themes of faith.
Intricate suspenseful plot.
Wit to rival Jane Austen. 

Five stars to Roseanna. This book has earned a spot on my never-give-away-shelf. Her mastery of the writing craft is impeccable. I took a red pen to it as I read, to study her amazing word smithery. I know I sound gushing by now. But this post is a day late because I wanted to take my time to soak up this enjoyable thought provoking read.

Romantic intrigue? you asked. I'll tell.
Set in 1779 in British occupied New York City (don't forget, the Brits didn't leave after 1776!), heroine Winter Reeves is an aristocratic American Patriot who hides her true identity among the city's British Loyalists. She lives with her wealthy Loyalist grandparents who resent her for her mother's betrayal when she married Winter's patriot father.  They selfishly want nothing more than to unload her to the first loyalist bachelor who will reflect well upon their definition of a good reputation. How will Winter stay true to her heart and still manage to keep a roof over her head? Her cover?--to appear so daft and unthinking, that no one dare imagine her capable of a plot to send secret information through the Culper Ring to aid to the patriot cause in hopes of saving her father.
Bennet Lane (love that name!) is a Yale professor of philosophy and chemistry who has returned to the city with one goal: to find General Washington's spy hidden among the ranks of the city's elite. His cover story? ---a search to find a wife. The problem is, he can hardly speak to women without getting completely tongue-tied--except when he finds himself drawn by Winter's too-intelligent eyes and her too-blank face. The good loyalist standing of Bennet's family name make him the target match Winter's grandparents set their eyes upon.

"Determined and committed to a separate cause, will God lead them to a shared destiny or lives lived apart?"

Fascinating history? 
Revolutionary War era history is worth a brush up if you haven't really thought about it since... say--third grade. The Brits didn't turn tail and run home across the pond after we signed the Declaration of Independence. They continued to occupy territory and fight the rebel patriots. Oh, and remember that guy named Benedict Arnold? Well, along with a better understanding of his story and the sociopolitical forces of loyalty vs. faith and conscience in this era, you'll get introduced to post revolutionary intelligence communication--just think invisible ink and coded communications.

Intelligent themes of faith? 
White touches on the paradox of the mere appearance of truth vs. hiding something in order to remain obedient to God. She layers in the value this era placed on appearance and social elevation vs. simplicity and honesty--a timeless theme. And deeper yet, she shows the struggle of conscience vs. convenient self preservation, pushing her readers to think past God's mere existence to His divine intervention and desire to remain intimately involved in our lives.

And wit abounds. 
Sometimes I had to re-read lines before it dawned on me. This either reflects my lack of wits--or that we've settled for reading and writing that lacks wits and we don't recognize it when we see it!  So, write on Mrs. White! I loved it!

Comments & Questions:
Join in for a chance to win a free copy. Give away limited to continental U.S. Don't forget to check back by April 5th to see if you won! Sometimes we actually have no winner because commenters never check back! Don't miss your opportunity!!
How is your Revolutionary War knowledge--dusty or sharp?

Do you prefer a witty read or light fluff that isn't "too deep"?

"Do you have a story from your life when all seemed confusion or coincidence at the time, but upon looking back you could discern God's hand?"(quoted from the discussion questions at the back of the book).

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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.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beautiful Darkness...An Easter Story Part II


It's a curious morning ... I'm walking in the garden and a woman is sitting on a stone bench watching me as I walk. She looks familiar, as though I have seen her before. Oh yes, it was three days ago ... when she looked at me in the darkness ...

"Good morning," she acknowledges me. Its too late to duck my head and quickly pass her by so I nod but continue my pleasant journey through the garden sweetened by the scent of blossoms.

"Did you hear the news?" she stands and begins to walk beside me. I stifle a sigh.

"No, no I didn't," my reply is polite, but short.

"He is risen," she states. There is joy on her face, but not for herself. It is for me. I can't comprehend why.

"Congratulations." I don't really care. She can live in her dellusion.

"Do you know Him?" she smiles.

"No," I sniff. She had already asked me three days before. Now she smiles and touches my arm.

"You will, you will."

I look down at the ground and kick a stone with my shoe. When I look up she has disappeared down an opposite path. I stare at the waving branches of a rose bush she must have brushed as she passed by.

Shaking my head, I continue on. There's a curious cave with a stone rolled away. It stands to my left. I peer inside but it's dark. Only some cloths lay folded on a stone slab. I shrug to myself. Strange place to rest. And, the emptiness inside agrees with me.

As I round a corner and pause  to watch a mourning dove dip across the path in flight, a man is at my side. I don't know where he came from. This time I don't hide my sigh. I have seen him before too.

"Do you understand?" the man tips his head in the direction of the empty cave.

"Understand what?"

"Why it is empty?"

"Why should I care?" I counter, irritated. Please leave me alone. My life is peaceful when you're not interrupting it with foreign ideas of dead men who save people who don't need saving.

"Because..." the man crouches on the ground and draws a word in a patch of dirt. I narrow my eyes.

Sin.

Why do these people want to talk about something so obscure? What is sin?

"Sin separates you from Him," the man rises to his feet.

I breathe in deeply and let it out loudly. I want him to know he is annoying me. I want him to leave me alone on this beautiful morning.

"I live a good life," I argue, though I'm not sure why I give him the satisfaction.

"Do you?" the man smiles. "I don't. I've made mistakes. I've covered them in temporary happiness. Wine. Love. Wealth. Entertainment. I don't like to stop and think deeply about who I am. But He asked me to, and when I did, I saw sin."

"Lucky you," I retort sarcastically.

"No, not lucky. Condemned. I cannot stand before a perfect God impure and judged."

"Your God isn't so understanding then." I start to move on but the man follows me. Please, go away.

"My God is just. He demands perfection."

I don't answer. I still don't care.

"That's why that is so important." He points.

How did we get back to the empty cave? The garden path must have wound in a circle and I didn't notice. But there is the cave, the massive stone rolled to one side, and the morning sun highlighting it like a spotlight.

"Jesus is alive."

"So I've heard," I mumble. I've no where else to go. I'm lost in this garden. The paths all seem to lead back to the cave.

"He paid your price and bought you perfection."

"How lovely."

"Do you want it?"

"Me?" I shake my head. "Not particularly." I close my eyes briefly and when I open them, the man is gone.

It is a beautiful place, this graveyard. I realize that it's a grave now, where the dead man had been buried. So where was His body? I sink to the ground. The questions have started me thinking - I really don't want to think deeply. My life is fine the way that it is. God is God, I am me, all is right ... is it?

I feel a hand on my shoulder. It's the gardener. At least I think it is.

"Yes?" I ask. Maybe I'm not supposed to be here.

"Follow me," he says. I stand and follow him. He leads me to a hill and in the distance I see a cross reflected in the dawning sun. It's beautiful, in an eery sort of way.

"Can I just be alone?" the questions ... they are plaguing me ... maybe I do need saved from myself. Dark memories are surfacing. Ones I've buried deep within. Ones that could bring me to my knees. Wait. I am on my knees. How did I get here? I look up at the gardener. His face is turned away from me, but his hand is still on my shoulder. He's not moving, he's not speaking. I look away.

Maybe the dead man really is alive. I mean, miracles do happen. I wonder if the gardener saw anything? Maybe he could explain it. I glance up at the gardner but - wait - he isn't there, but I still feel his hand on my shoulder. How odd.

Oh well.

I rise to my feet but still feel like kneeling for some reason ... then I see them - it's the man and the woman. Simple humans just like me, but who seem to have a story to tell.

"Who are you?" I ask.

"Who are you?" they reply.

"I - I don't know anymore ..."

"Come. Let's go visit the cross." they both rise and look at me expectantly.

I stand slowly, then I turn and ... can you see this? can you see them? should I go? If do, won't my life have to change? Who am I? they ask. Well, I am you. Will you go to the Cross today, then will you visit the empty tomb? There's more than a story there ... there is ... hope.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Interview with Roseanna M. White

If you haven't yet met Roseanna M. White, you have missed out! 

I stumbled on her amazing work when I read Love Finds You in Annapolis, MD. 

Her writing is tight, her characters are layered, and her wit is intelligent and thought provoking. 

Meet Roseanna here today and come back on Friday this week for the review and chance to win her latest release: Ring of Secrets.


1) What made you fall in love with writing? 


 I’ve always loved it, since primary school. And as I listed my dream 
jobs when I was a kid, “and write books” was always tacked on to my 
answer of what I wanted to do when I grew up. Eventually I
ditched the other stuff and just went with my heart. =) 


 2)Your all time favorite book?


 I don’t know that I can choose! Might be Pride and Prejudice. Or Jane 
Eyre. Or The Mark of the Lion Series. Or...no, just can’t choose, LOL. 
Too many awesome books to pick just one! 


 3) How did you stumble upon the idea for your latest release? 


 My hubby was watching something or another on the History Channel that 
mentioned the Culper Ring, and he told me about them. I was writing my 
first Revolutionary era book at the time, so he knew I’d be intrigued by 
George Washington’s spies. =) At first I wondered if I could find a way 
to work them into a story I was already working on, but then I decided 
they were way too cool to play backup and needed their own book. So then 
it was a matter of creating my fictional characters that could work with 
the historical figures. 


4) If you could  rewind your life, knowing what you know now about 
writing, what would you tell yourself? 


 I would learn the rules earlier, and tell myself from the get-go that I 
had to let go of the idea that I knew best how my stories should go. It 
took me a lot of years to be ready to accept feedback, but it’s a 
necessary skill in this industry of edits upon edits! 

5) Have you done any travel for the sake of researching for your 
stories? 


 I have, though not as much as I’d like. =) I got to play tourist in 
Annapolis when I was writing Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, and 
I did some exploring in the Outer Banks for a yet-unpublished 
contemporary set there. Otherwise, my research has all been online or 
through books. Though I’ve discovered that YouTube is a fabulous way to 
see places I can’t get to myself!
 

BIO:
Roseanna M. White pens her novels under the Betsy Ross flag hanging above her desk, with her Jane Austen action figure watching over her. When she isn’t writing fiction, she’s editing it for WhiteFire Publishing or reviewing it for the Christian Review of Books, both of which she co-founded with her husband. www.roseannawhite.com
So, come back Friday for more.....
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Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. Nurse Practitioner by day. Wife, mother, writer by night. Coffee drinker--any time.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Introducing: The Lizzie Bennet Diaries...Who Knew?

So my daughter is home from college for spring break this week. She knows I am a die hard Pride and Prejudice fan!

"Hey mom," she says, "you have heard of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries haven't you?"
Ah--no <insert sarcasm in an excuse mehello? tone>.

So, I trot immediately to Google and stumble on the amazing masterpiece of social media in the form of a modernly twisted  P&P vlog, and I see why it "went viral mom!"



Basically, TLBD is a video blog <vlog> adaptation of P&P. And since P&P is public domain AND loved by millions, it was a perfect medium to trial Hank Green and Bernie Su's idea.
Click here for the Press Release introduction

The Facebook page alone has over 28,000 followers: Lizzie Bennet on FB.   Last I checked that was viral level mathematics! Also over 28,000 followers on Twitter, and over <hello?!> 27,000,000 <mill> video views!! <heellllllooo?!> 

You Tube Episode

So, for anyone who loves P&P, wonders about video blogging, is freaked out by the viral numbers for TLBD, consider this your introduction! 

Check it out and tell me what you think?
Had you already heard of this?
Love it? or feel like it tarnishes your traditional idea of P&P?
Would Jane Austen roll over in her grave, or is she amazed at the savvy social wit of TLBD?

(disclaimer--I did not preview all the episodes)


Monday, March 25, 2013

Beautiful Darkness ... an Easter Story - PART 1


Through the darkness, I heard His voice rend through the air. It was a cry ... piercing ... loud ... anguished ..."Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani!"


"My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"

I turned away. I knew who He was. There was a sign over his head - "King of the Jews". I am not a Hebrew, so He means nothing to me. Am I disturbed by his agony? I am human - of course I am. Who would not be disturbed?

But hasn't God forsaken us all? Is Jesus only now realizing it? I look at a the woman to my right. She is weeping and her eyes meet mine in the darkness. They are filled with sorrow, but there is beauty there.

"Do you see?" she whispers through her weeping.

"See what?" I reply

"Him?"

"Of course I do." Is she silly? How could I not see the bloodied man whose pulse must barely beat by now.

"No," she moves forward and grips my wrist. She is insistent, moving closer so I cannot break away from her gaze. "Do you really see?"

"Yes," I cannot help but whisper in reply. As if the moment is sacred - somehow. "But I see the other men as well."

She glances up at the two thieves who flank Jesus. "And only one knows Him," she breathes, a soft smile touching her lips. She turns back to me. "I want you to know Him too."

"How can I? He is dead."

Light is slowly returning to the sky. A soldier approaches the body and pierces His side with a sword. The woman releases my wrist, sadness covering her face. But curiously enough, it was not sorrow for the dead Man, but a grief directed at me.

"What?" I am defensive. She is beginning to annoy me.

"You don't understand," she backs away. "He did this for you."

"What do you mean? For me?"

"To save you," she whispers and then disappears in the crowd.

I stare at the last spot where I saw her. I don't need saving. I am fine.
A man cries out beside me, "LORD! Lord! Oh Lord!" ... he falls to his knees and stares at the cross. The dead body is gone now. They have buried it. How long have I been standing here ... watching.

"Lord ..." the man's cries fall to a soft plea that I'm embarrassed to overhear. A man shouldn't cry. A man shouldn't look so - so weak.

"Lord, forgive me. You have taken my sin upon you and I live my life as though it is mine and mine alone."

I move away from the man. His oddity would amuse me - if the day didn't seem so grim.

"Wait!" the man cries. I turn to him. He looks into my eyes like the woman before him did. "Do you understand Him?"

"Who?" I ask.

"Jesus."

"What's to understand?"

"He will save you."

"I am fine the way I am."

I walk away finally. The madness of the crowd is overhwelming. They are leaving too. I look over my shoulder and only a few remain at the foot of the empty cross. Empty. But the grave is full. I shake my head, shove my hands in my pockets and move on with my day. After all, it's just another day. Just another dead man. Isn't He?

WINNER OF JOANNE BISCHOF'S "Though My Heart is Torn" is: MELISSA ANDRES

Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Report: Though my Heart is Torn, by Joanne Bischof

Sigh. Appalachian romance at it's best. Book two in The Cadence of Grace series by Joanne Bischof does not fail to deliver. The continued story of the tumultuous love between Gideon and Lonnie is now tortured by Gideon's first wife ... the wife he's still married to.

Setting: You can't get any better. I've hiked the Appalachians. They're as beautiful, as backward, as reclusive, as haunting as Joanne Bischof captures. Her finesse in portraying her setting will have you aching to visit the hills and life of the Appalachians ... that is anything but quiet.

Characters: Gideon and Lonnie's struggle to survive love is poignant. I personally would not enjoy finding out my husband had a wife from his earlier days and was still married. Neither did Lonnie. Cassie is like a forgotten ghost, yet she is very much alive. And a simple death scene does NOT resolve this love triangle and leave Gideon free to follow his heart. Duty, Applachian honor, and family fueds require action that will wound Lonnie and Gideon deeply and threaten to kill their newfound love.

Spiritual thread: It's great how Joanne brings out the faith of Lonnie and the life change of Gideon from his old way of life. Yet, consequences still visit and redemption must still be sought.

This is a FANTASTIC second installment. You'll love it, I love it, and Joanne is GIVING AWAY A COPY! So tell us what you love about the Appalachians or what you would do if suddenly, you found yourself in a love triangle? You'll be entered to win.

(my apologies for a shorter review, I'm at home suffering from the stomach flu, but it is in NO WAY a reflection of how much I loved Joanne's book!)

Winner of last week's give away for Love in the Balance: Wendy Newcomb!!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Midnight Coffee

Midnight coffee with life long friends tonight was just the best in the world.

Grind up some Jamaican Me Crazy decaf, send the kids off to play and catch up over hot brew.
Just like the good old times. My friend Jayne is like a sister who really "gets me"--and that's an awesome ingredient to add to coffee!



We talked about parenting, college, empty nesting, jobs, church, health, friends, spirituality--you get it---there isn't anything we don't talk about. My inner cup filled up and my coffee mug emptied out.

At the end though we touched on my fiction writing. Reading fiction is something Jayne has always loved. She certainly influenced me over the last 25 years as we shared what we'd read and critiqued it together. Even before trying my hand at writing, we'd often voiced how it had shaped us and influenced us. And now as I wrestle with how serious to take the writing and as I continue to pursue publishing, I voiced to her that some Christians might place it in the "silly endeavor" category. But she reminded me that as a Christian, she strives to put her mind on whatever is good, upright, noble, pure, and good--and that while life is often too serious, we need good fiction that does just that!

That piece of encouragement was like a double shot! 

And so, as the clock struck midnight and I set the last of the emptied coffee mugs in the sink,  a sigh of contentment slipped from me as they went out the door. That same lip smacking feeling after the first sip of hot coffee in the morning, followed by a sigh of pure bliss---the after midnight sigh rivals an equally satisfying fulfillment when shared with good friends.

So, call a friend. Brew a pot. Make some good food--and settle in for some great fellowship to fill up your cup!

So, what exactly does Christian fiction do for you?
How has it shaped you?
Why do you read it?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Interview with Joanne Bischof


For those of you who haven't met Joanne Bischof, you're in for a super duper fun treat! She's one of my favorite authors and blogging besties! The fact we live states apart makes little difference. We both raise our mugs of hot liquid goodness and SALUTE! Not really. We don't salute. That's just weird. We'd probably hug. But that could be awkward. Are you touchy-feely, Joanne? Me? Not so much. A hug's okay though. Maybe. Well, we'd smile. Yes. So, welcome to our morning coffee chat with Joanne. Thanks for being here and I'm going to launch right in.

 So, tell us -- when did you know you first wanted to be a writer?

I always had my nose in a book and my head in the clouds. Growing up, I was 1 part Jo March, 1 part Beatrix Potter and 1 part Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was always writing, drawing, and living with my imagination in the past. Being a writer was always my normal. I can never remember ever wanting to be anything else. I am SO thankful that God made that dream come true!


 What made you pick Appalachian Romance as your theme/setting for your books?


You know, it just sort of happened one day. When the idea for Lonnie and Gideon’s story came to me, I knew it was about a young woman who would yearn for her husband’s love. In that moment, I was listening to bluegrass music and it just seemed like the right fit that Gideon would play the mandolin. The story sort of took off to the Appalachians and ever since then, it’s been my absolute favorite place to write about.

"Though My Heart is Torn" is book two in Gideon and Lonnie's story, what is the main spiritual thread that you hope readers can glean from it?


The spiritual thread running through the story really centers around the idea of our faith being tested (Luke 22: 31-34). Gideon’s faith is young in the first book, and he relates a lot of his connection to the Lord with his love for Lonnie. She is the “good” part of him and he doesn’t see how he could be good on his own. So when they must part, Gideon’s sort of scrambling to find that baby faith that was within him and he’ll struggle for most of the book. This thread will continue into the third story, “My Hope is Found,” as he continues to discover that his faith can be placed in no one other than the Lord. While Lonnie can help him and encourage him in his faith, it’s ultimately a relationship between him and Christ.

Who was your favorite secondary character in the book and why?

Oh, great question! My favorite secondary character was probably Jack Allan. He’s Cassie’s kid brother and sort of follows Gideon around wherever he goes. Even when the story wades into deep, emotional waters, Jack was always around for a bit of comic relief. I know as the writer, I was glad to have him on hand and I hope readers will too.

I love the tag line "Gideon O'Riley has two wives -- but he doesn't know it" - sheesh! How crazy is that? How did you come up with the idea of a second wife to interrupt the love Gideon and Lonnie just found?

I know! It really is crazy, isn’t it!? I remember sending those words to my agent when she was considering taking on my project and it must have done the trick, because we sent those exact words onto my publisher when pitching them the idea. It’s been so fun to see that tagline printed on the final book and know that it’s come full circle from the very beginning.

This is a great question! When we first see Gideon in “Be Still My Soul” he’s a womanizer who’s only interested in one thing. Throughout the first book, he overcomes that, falling deeply in love with his wife and as I began to ponder where the story could go from there. It hit me that the most challenging thing he could face at that point was to be torn from the wife that he loved and forced to reunite with his old flame. It really puts him in a difficult spot! Which is always fun to see how a character works through a situation. The more challenging it is, often the more rewarding the outcome is.

 Coffee or tea?

Tea is the love of my heart, but coffee is becoming much needed with all these late-night writes. I like it with way too much cream! ;)

Chocolate or Strawberries?

Most definitely chocolate. But I adore strawberries. Maybe the two together!

What three things would you want with you if you were stranded in the Appalachians? (aside from your Bible, cell phone, and Kindle ;)


Let’s see…a sleeping bag, some matches and, my handsome, rugged mountain man—my hubby. He could build a fire and a shelter and hunt food and look really cute while doing it all! Great, now I actually want to BE stranded in the Appalachians!

So cool! Joanne, I'll be doing a book report of your new book on Friday. I really hope your readers and NEW readers can come back and visit. PLUS, EVERYONE! Joanne is giving away a copy of "Though My Heart is Torn"! Check back Friday to enter for the drawing.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Jaime Wright -

Writer of Historical Romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :)
 


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Coffee As They Knew It...

It's time. It's time I do a historical post on coffee as they knew it. Coffee wasn't this fancy back in the 19th century. I was appalled when, for my last novel, I had to research how to make coffee over an open fire. Really? No French Press? How did them there pioneers survive? At least give the wagon master a Keurig. Sheesh.

Nope. Coffee, as it related to the pioneer, poor, or those without a local cafe, was rustic. Cowboy-Coffee got its name because those brave men of the west drank it fully-loaded, like their pistols. Water, grounds, heat, pour, and sip. The ladies apparently didn't appreciate grounds between their teeth, and without doing the proper research on when toothpicks were invented, I'm going to take a wild stab at the fact it wouldn't have mattered much. Unless you want a late night snack hiding between your molars, at some point, the grounds needed to go.

SO! First to grind the coffee. A lot of people chose to pack the handy-dandy hand-cranked coffee grinder. You could purchase ground coffee at a mercantile, but it wasn't as fresh--it's not like it was shipped overnight from Guatemala. SO grind away. Or as the Yankee soldiers used to do, the green coffee bean would be roasted over the fire (albeit not perfectly) and then smashed to smithereens with the the butt of their rifle. Sigh. No coffee snobs allowed in those days. Another travesty of the Civil War.

Then. Enter flannel--or any other finely woven fabric. It was perfect. No filters? Cut up Pa's shirt. A basic cup of good coffee with an adequate filtering system, came to the fore when open campfires or fireplaces were the place to be--or necessity driven. The grounds were mixed with the water in the kettle, heated, and then poured through flannel to capture the offensive little critters. Henceforth and forevermore giving a slight bit of culture to the pioneer woman who's base needs included--coffee.

Trust me, when it comes to coffee, there are no lengths too far to travel to get a good cup. And while Wyatt Earp just added his grounds to his chaw, my great-great grandmother chose the more refined way within her financial means ... water, coffee, and a bit of flannel.

Hoist ho! and drink heartily my mateys! (oops--wrong century)

Tell me what interesting fact YOU would like ME to research from history and I'd love to feature it on the blog!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Password: inChrist--Access Accepted


Earlier in the week, I snapped this picture that represented a snippet of peace--quiet, afternoon sunshine, a waft of steam coming off the pot on the warm stove. All was well...

But the truth is....all of us, at any given moment...can have our peace shattered. All it takes is a phone call, a slip, a diagnosis, a thinking error, the wrong words. We live in an imperfect world.

But we have a password from the Almighty. A way. Access--accepted.  In Christ.....

Today we helped serve at a funeral dinner for the nephew of one of our Sunday School class brothers. Benji was 15 and had Cystic Fibrosis.

So, after my Sunday afternoon nap, cup of decaf, and a little March Madness, Ted went to the basement to look for Larry Bird cards to show our son Ben---and that's when we found the basement under 3 inches of water! Snap. There it was--in an instant the peace was shattered.

A small disaster. But really nothing by comparison to what Benji and his family suffered. But then I remembered, Benji's password to his computer--"inChrist"---I know, in Christ I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

It puts things into perspective in a hurry. 

So, here I am with Ted's knee boots on, behind me the carpet ripped up in the basement. Wet towels strewn all over. Bags of wet trash. Fans blowing. Dehumidifier running. I built a fire to help dry things up. And as I tended it, the frustration drained out of me as I thought of Benji--and his password.

So, here's a link to a great blogpost by a dear friend of mine about Benji and his password: Rhonda Schrock's blog: The Password That Never Fails

“For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, you are complete in Him, who is the head over every power and authority.” Colossians 2:9.

So when you find your basement flooded
--when you have to put on knee-highs to wade through the stuff in your life...
--when your peace feels shattered....
----remember your password.  

And have some heavenly perspective.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Book Report: Love in the Balance by Regina Jennings

Here's yesterday's book review--it was postponed because I still had my nose in this book! :)
If you loved Regina Jennings's debut release Sixty Acres and a Bride, you'll enjoy her new release Love in the Balance.

Setting: 1879 Texas.

Love & Romance: Jennings paints a picture of burgeoning seedlings of love planted in the imperfect grounds of early young adulthood and takes us on a journey to it's full bloom. All Molly Lovelace had wanted was love and security, but the counterfeits made for rocky ground that nearly cost her both. Bailey Garner just wants to get his priorities right, regardless of how foolish he might look to others--all for the girl he loves and the God he's working to serve.

Scandal? Mistakes? Will Molly let them define her or take Bailey's advice----"Refuse to believe there's a scandal. Hold your head high. Don't act ashamed." I loved this advice from Bailey. Too many times it's easy to let mistakes define us and wound us far beyond the reach we should allow, letting us care too deeply what other's must think when we should be spending our energy on healing no matter how it looks to others. Will Bailey be content to hold his failings in secret and let the townspeople think what Molly says to him: "Even if you can't walk on water, everyone here figures you'd float pretty well"? 

Peeling away the masks we hide behind can be painful and costly, but the reward is a treasure and security Jennings's shows us well on this fun ride with Molly and Bailey.

"Looks are deceiving"--"Timing is everything"--what events, decisions, best laid plans, plot twists have shaped your journey?

How did you find your way despite a path that was deceptive?

What would you tell someone caught in scandal or mistakes about finding their way out?

Leave a comment or question for Regina for a chance to win a free copy! Winner will be announced March 22. Continental U.S. only.


Regina's Bio:

Regina Jennings is homeschooling mother of four from Oklahoma. She enjoys watching musicals with her kids, traveling with her husband and reading by herself. Regina graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She has worked at The Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. For more posts by Regina or information about her novels, Love in the Balance and Sixty Acres and a Bride, please visit her website - www.reginajennings.com.

Links:

website: www.reginajennings.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ReginaLJennings
Twitter: twitter.com/#!/ReginaJennings



Thursday, March 14, 2013

What's On Your Coffee Table?

I'm just going to repost this picture of Anne and my coffee and biscotti from this last weekend because it makes me happy and it's Thursday. So WHAT'S YOUR COFFEE?

If I had a coffee table (toddler and baby makes that a walking hazard), I would honestly put NON Fiction books on it. Why? I don't know. Maybe non-fiction for me needs to be OUT so I remember to actually pull my head out of my imaginary world and read something applicable.

So occasionally, I'll make Thursday's What's Your Coffee about What's On Your Coffee Table and do a quick run down of my latest non-fiction reads.

Today I'll do a catch up on three I recently read:

#1 and all-time NEW favorite is by Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Don't get caught up on the S. Baptist thing if you're not S. Baptist -- this isn't hellfire and damnation. It's called "The Conviction to Lead". I'm a Director of HR so leadership is in my blood (notice I didn't say talent--I said blood). I've always been "the leader". Frankly, my daughter Kokomo-Jo is following my footsteps. Her three year old bestie told her mommy the other night they needed to pray for "my boss". I guess my daughter has made herself the boss at a young age. Anyway!! If you have the desire to develop leadership skills, are in a leadership position of ANY sort (work or church), or simply want to be a leader amongst your peers, this is a MUST READ. I cannot emphasize that enough! Dr. Mohler addresses the fundamental truth that you must have a conviction if you will lead otherwise you'll lead like a floppy fish. (My words, not his). He gives 25 principles for leadership and they aren't the run of the mill managerial principles. This will be a life-changer for you. Mine is marked and highlighted and I've ordered extra copies to give away!

"What Your Husband Isn't Telling You". THIS is a great book to leave on the coffee table and not tell your husband. Mine found it and showed me and said, "is there something YOU want to tell ME?" We had a good laugh. Ok. David Murrow, the author, takes you on a journey through your husband's brain. I'll be honest--for me, this was basic 101 husband material. However, if you're truly struggling to understand the man in bed with you and your communication skills are non-existent, this is a good intro book to comprehending why he thinks the way he thinks. I will add one disclaimer: if your husband isn't the a-typical male, this book will frustrate you. I went through it with my husband and 80% of it he did not relate to--however, he isn't the typical male. A good marriage starter book, a good book if your communication doesn't hold any mutual understanding, and a great book if you want to get an outline overview of men in general.

Are you an End Times aficionado? Yeah, most women aren't. We'd prefer not to focus on blood baths, the fall of Jerusalem, horrific scorpion-like creatures devouring our children, etc. BUT, fact of the matter is, we cannot ignore the fact that Revelation IS in the Bible. One day will be the LAST day. SO! "A Rabbi Looks at the Last Days" by Jonathan Bernis is definitely an interesting perspective. Now, keep in mind, I'm married to a man with a Masters in Theological studies so I could go in a thousand directions with literal, figurative, post-millennial, pre-trib, etc. I'm not going there. This is a book written by a Jewish Rabbi who believes Jesus IS the Messiah. It is HIS interpretation of the End Times, Israel's role in the End Times, and the role of the Jewish nation as the Chosen Nation. Personally, I disagreed with many of his interpretations, however, it was educational to see the End Times through the eyes of someone from the Jewish nation. A good read for garnering overall perspective.

So! That's what WAS on my coffee table. Next up ... not sure. What NON fiction reads have you delved into lately and do you recommend I pick up for a dose of harsh reality :)?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Nerd Problem #2: Amazon Addiction

Has anyone else discovered that addictive one-click purchase button on Amazon???

I've got some serious reading to do!

What order do you think I should start with?
Here's my vote:
1. Love in the Balance by Regina Jennings--since I've schedule a 
    report on Friday this week!

2. Be Still My Soul by Joanne Bischof--since she introduced me
    to Mumford & Sons!

3. Forsaken Dreams by MaryLu Tyndall--since I've never read
    her before and the cover looks fantastic!

4. Ring of Secrets by Roseanna White--because I loved her Love 
    Finds You in Annapolis, MD!

5. A Heart Revealed by Julie Lessman---because I want to catch    
    up to speed with her new releases and I love her work! 

6. To Whisper Her Name by Tamara Alexander--Because I've    
    read everything she's ever published! 

What's on your To-Be-Read pile?

Do you order online or purchase locally to support your local bookstores?

How many of you have a locally owned book store in your community? (not large chain stores)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Nerd Problem: Antique Books

I love all things vintage or historical because they scream--there's a story here!

This past weekend our Sunday School Class went to Shipshewana, Indiana for our class retreat. There are tons of little curiosity shops there. You'd think I'd have come home with knick-knacks, art, quilts, or something of the sort.

But not this book nerd girl!

Ted and I always look forward to browsing the antique store there. Last year I got a pretty red transferware teacup and saucer. This year, I got lost in the old book stacks. The store attendants told me their expert is an old retired librarian. All the books had a sticky note on the inner cover telling the copyright dates, condition, and rarity.

Here I will review two of my purchases: 
Figs and Thistles--a Romance of the Western Reserve by Albion W. Tourgee is on the top of the stack. It was published in 1879 and the inside cover says the sale price was $1.50 and has several reviews.

One review inside the cover says "A capital American story. Its characters are not from foreign courts or the pestilential dens of foreign cities. They are fresh from the real life of the forest and prairie of the West."--Chicago Inter-Ocean. It is considered an American Historical fiction, and even advertises Harriet Beecher Stowe in the back of the book!

Another review in the back of the book states: "The entanglements of romantic love enter immediately upon the scene, in the affection of this youthful scion of a haughty race for the niece of his father's overseer."


The second book on my stack is Women Wage-Earners by Helen Campbell. It was published in 1893. In it Mrs. Campbell compiled a 290 page report of women workers. This book reviews the history of women wage-earners, 19th century conditions, and wages. She recounts information on such trades as cotton, woolens, dress-makers, shoemakers, and straw-braiders (for hats).

She combed public records such as census records and reports from the Labor Bureau. For instance, she found that "in some cases (an expert shirt maker made) $15 a week, but in slop work, and under the sweating-system, wages fall to $2.50 or $3 per week, and at times less." In dry-goods "--the lowest sum per week is $1.50 paid to cash-girls." She also reminds us, most women only worked an average of forty weeks a year due to irregular work.

Did you know that The Labor Law of 1886 in New York, no woman or child under age eighteen was to work more than sixty hours a week?

Check back next week for a review of the other old books I purchased.

What kind of things catch your eye at antique stores?
Do old books fascinate you?
Have you ever cruised around Google books for old book sources?




Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Blues ...

Does the weekend ever seem to fly by far too fast? I even squeezed in a rare nap, and still ... too fast. Friends came over and blessed us with their fellowship ... too fast. My daughter and I read books, sang songs, then snuggled when her cold conquered her joy ... too fast.

Why is it the things we cherish the most, slip by like a whisper, a vapor, a poof? I don't cherish my moments at my job. In ten years, I may have memories that make me smile, but I won't hold them close to my heart as I do the ones I made this weekend.

The Lord blesses through times of preciousness. Blowing little noses, soothing coughs with mommy-kisses, making pizza with friends, and relishing in the Body of Christ.

These are the blessings, the gifts, He has given to us as a glimpse of a week with no Mondays ... that is a promise of Heaven ...

What blessings did your weekend bring?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Book Report: When the Heart Heals, by Ann Shorey

Ok, Ann Shorey, you did me in on the doctor. Elijah? I loved the name. I haven't read a hero by that name before and it fit him to a T.

Now, on to my book report ...

LOVED IT! But if you haven't figured by now, I'm a die hard Ann Shorey fan. And, she threw me for a little loop on this one and tossed in a bit of intrigue. GO ANN!

Characters: Rosemary probably couldn't be more head strong. But then a nurse after the Civil War has to be, 'cause her career path isn't too far behind prostitution on the popularity scale. Can you believe that? Being shunned for nurturing and healing? And, I love that she's a naturalist. All herbal. I bet she smells like lemon and lavender. Elijah, the doctor, has a brusque character which could have been unlikable but Ann gave him a tender edge that endeared me to him immediately. He needs Rosemary, but he doesn't want to. She doesn't need him. Never will. Just the money his employ gives her. But goodness if Elijah isn't handsome! :)

Story: One of the things I enjoy about Ann's book is they're heartwarming. They're not fast paced, but they aren't the dull, boring historical that weighs you down. You become a part of her character's community, enjoy the secondary characters, become entangled in their lives, hardships, struggles, and romances. I find this story no different and yet again, Ann endears me to another great couple in Elijah and Rosemary.

I loved it! It's a top read and a keeper for my bookshelf. You won't regret checking out Ann's latest book!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Liquid Sunshine at the Blue Spoon Cafe


The highlight of our writer's weekend was spending the day at the Blue Spoon Cafe with Jaime. It was pure LIQUID SUNSHINE for the soul. After biscotti and our caffeine injection, we sat for hours soaking up the liquid sunshine, laughter, and scheming over our completed first draft manuscripts. 

We scoured the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference website all morning, prioritizing our plan to attack our goals. Excitement grew. Giggles seemed to be the best prescription for our budding nerves, doubts, and fears about taking our work to the next level. We talked about our spiritual focus and mission, and celebrated the like-mindedness God has blessed us with.


Isn't this old building that overlooks the river just amazing? The walls are painted a burnished golden yellow. The sun shone all day long. By the afternoon, we reviewed our critiques of each other's work. 

Once again, I was amazed with God's divine movement.

Jaime has a knack for putting her finger on the missing pieces of my plot, motivation, and goals, while I push her characterization deeper. With ease of gifted intuition, she points out what should have been an obvious--palm plant! Duh! Likewise, Jaime is sick and tired of me asking--but why??? Why did your hero do that, and why wouldn't he be absolutely tortured internally? And what drives your heroine's stubbornness? How does this connect to your spiritual thread? I need to feel it and see it. Our strengths and weaknesses as writers are complimentary. 


Other highlights:
My empty-nesting heart soaked up her beautiful 10-month old son and 3 year old toddler. While Jaime loved the unplugged freedom, I was soaking up reading to toddlers, slobbery kisses, and coffee parties over breakfast.

It was also great to just unplug from the uber-responsibility of life. To gut-giggle about over-zealous goals--like dreaming who will be in my acknowledgements (thank you Mrs. Andrews for reading Little House on the Prairie...giggle-giggle-snort), and running to the little girls room after the movie!

But, hands down best thing about the whole weekend?
Friendship. Connection. Knowing we "get" each other...
And not just connecting via writing, but about marriage, family, parenting, spirituality, work---about life. 

Questions:
What do you do to unplug?
What do you do to connect?
When you read fiction, do you read to unplug, or connect? or both?


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It's A Fiction Reader's Poll...

First and third person?

Confession:  I'm disappointed when I settle in for a great fiction read, crack the cover and read first person. Sigh.....

I've asked myself--why is this? And I've only come up with a few reasons:

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First, I'm in my own head all the time. I want to be in someone else's. I already know my own thoughts and somehow reading in the "I" format just keeps yanking me back to my own head.

Second, I think it's because I prefer to read historical which implies everything already happened in the past. Thus, the telling of the story from a third person allows the reader to join in the story without being too thick in narrative, or telling. First person just feels more present tense to me. JMHO.

Third, it's a flow issue for me. <Squirrel!>  It just feels more jerky to read. Maybe since I'm like an ADD reader, I need all the interruptions eliminated!  It feels to telling--"I did this, I did that, we went here, we went there, I saw that." Maybe it's just my weird brain matter makeup?

But mostly, it's just personal preference. There is no right or wrong.

So, it's a poll: 
What's your preference as a reader--1st vs. 3rd person?
Can you give some examples of your favorite 1st or 3rd person works?
What are your reasons for preference?
Do you think there is a place in the market for both?