Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Report: Talon: Combat Tracking Team, by Ronie Kendig

I don't like military fiction. I'd rather watch Hannibal Lector than a military flick. It's no secret here that I'm a die hard historical fan. I mean, "Coffee Cups and Camisoles" isn't exactly insinuating a reconnaissance mission.

BUT! I am changing my tune. No. Strike that. Woman down. I've changed my tune. Death to my disdain of military fiction. Good Morning Vietnam! Or in this case, Djibouti.

Ronie Kendig and I banter on Facebook almost everyday. The woman is hysterical and she loves my son, so hey, she's in. I was introduced to her with her book "Trinity" -- book one of A Breed Apart -- featuring dogs trained for the special forces. I have to admit, I skimmed it a bit and could tell I'd probably be intrigued, but with a huge TBR pile of historicals, it's about three books down yet. Well, not any more. It just got moved to the top.

Ronie sent me Talon and I committed to read it because -- 1. I felt guilty for not yet reading Trinity in full, 2. For some reason Talon's face drew me in and I just really really really wanted to read it bad, and 3. deep in my heart I knew this woman could write and I wouldn't be disappointed.

I'm beyond not being disappointed. I'm elated. Book-shocked. (my new phrase to characterize "shell-shocked").

Ok. Talon is--sheer novel genius. It's a thick book. Meaty. I'm a speed reader. I did not speed read. I read slowly. Devoured. Every. Word.

Aspen Courtland wants her brother back—dead or alive. But only his traumatized combat tracking dog, Talon, knows where to look. Can he muster the courage for one more mission?

The hero, Dane is ... holy buckets of yummy spy, chiseled, mean, soft, broken, hard.
The heroine, Aspen is ... vunerable, vixen, packs a punch, cries a tear, frightened, strong.

The story is- espionage, mission: rescue, dog loving goodness, post traumatic canine stress, Russian lords, and Djibouti heat.

I can write a review about the storyline, plot, blah, blah, blah, but why!?!? With a face like Talon's, who needs a review, just read the book. Isn't that dog the cutest? I just wanted to bury my face in his fur the entire book.

Ok -- enough slobbering. Ronie, you slayed it--or me--or my penchant for purely historicals. I will be reading every stinking book this woman wrote. Starting next with Trinity. No more skimming chapter one and going oh that'd be a nice book to read someday. That sucker is propped open as. we. speak.

And if you think I'm giving away my copy, you're crazy. But, I'll order you one off Amazon. How's that?? So leave a comment as to why or why not you read military fiction, tell me what type of dog you love, and I'll enter YOU to WIN your own copy of Talon. (Winners to be announced next Wed - USA only this time, sorry peeps)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

When the Coffee's Thin...

Usually the coffee is strong and black at my house.

I can't see the bottom of the cup.

But sometimes, it's thin....

...and I notice

...and stop what I'm doing.

Today the coffee was thin.

In the midst of my busy day.

A visit to the funeral home.

A friend, too young.

She'd been a nurse with me.

She'd held the hands of the dying, touched the hearts of the hurting, saved lives, shared Jesus.




Today the coffee was thin.

A call from Jaime. A sick baby boy.

Moments.

When I stop what I'm doing....and I notice...

The veil between heaven and earth...has gotten thin....I can imagine the sacred dance of heaven on earth.

It's sacred...touching heaven...or just knowing you could...for a moment.



Have you had "thin times" or "thin places"?
Have you taken the time to stop what you're doing and notice the sacred?

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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.
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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Visiting My 18th Century Ancestral Home


Is there a Historical Romance writer or reader who wouldn't enjoy a trip to visit their ancestoral homestead?

Last year I traveled with my dear mom to Lancaster, Pennsylvania for a week long visit with her first cousins. In addition to visiting family, we signed up for a genealogy conference at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. We learned and saw lots of fun things--and of course--ate great home cooked food!

We stayed with my first cousin (once removed), Ella and her mother Emma who is 93 years old. Since they are Old Order Mennonite, I was off the "grid" for my trip. Except for one day at the hotel for the conference, I had no internet or television. It was a great reconnection with my roots.

If anyone else out there is a fan of the television series, Who Do You Think You Are?--I felt as if I'd embarked on my own investigation!

The highlight of our trip was a visit to my 8-times Great Grandfather Hans Herr's homestead. It still stands as the oldest house in Lancaster County, and since they held church services in this home, it is considered the oldest Mennonite Meetinghouse in all of America. Built in 1719, this house became the home of my ancestors for 150 years to follow. This was a great freedom to stay in one place and practice their faith peacefully after having been persecuted for their faith in Switzerland since the Reformation in the mid 1500's.


In 1710, 10,000 acres of land was granted by William Penn to nine Mennonite families who came by way of the ancient native path called the "Great Conestoga Road". Penn was given the land by King Charles II, as payment for a debt owed Penn's father. Though the King of Britain had given this charter to Penn, it didn't mean he'd paid the Natives already living here for the charter! Several Native American tribes still occupied the neighboring lands, from tribes including the Shenk's Ferry, Conoy, Lenape, Mohawk, Nanticoke, Seneca, Shawnee, Sesquehannock, and primarily the Conestoga. Another of my Mennonite immigrant ancestor's history recounts a telling that Hans Groff lived peaceably with his Native neighbors, speaking their tongue as fluently as his own mother tongue, and traded goods with them on a regular basis. Visit the website, www.hansherr.org to read about a present day peace-making venture with the Native Americans near the Hans Herr Museum.


Above the entrance, it fascinated me to see the date 1719, along with Hans' son, Christian Herr's initials, "17 CH HR 19".  I also loved to think that my 8-times Great Grandfather cleaned his boots on this iron crafted piece at the entrance steps of the house.



The house had a root cellar that would have stored cabbage, turnips, apples, onions, smoked meats, and their main drink of the time--apple cider. This kitchen hearth is original and very large. Behind it in the adjoining room was the "kachelofen"--a brick and plaster part of the hearth that held heat for hours after the hearth fire had gone out.


The kachelofen that extended into the "stube" or family room, made it the warmest room in the house, and likely the place that church meetings took place. On the table in the stube is a stand called a rush light. It used the stem of a bullrush or cattail which was soaked in fat or grease and once lit, provided flame free light and was less expensive than candles.



The bedroom holds a rope bed and straw mattress, with a feather bed on top for warmth. Though the immigrants had precious little furniture when they arrived, they prospered and by about 1750 many had schranks like this one for their clothing. Until then, they may have only had a trunk.


The plaster has been left off part of the ceiling in this room to show the insulation used. They wrapped long planks of wood with rye straw and caked them with clay mud. The rye straw was bitter to rats and mice, and the dried clay acted as insulation and a firebreak between floors and rooms. The children would have slept in the first attic that was also used as storage, while the second attic served as additional storage and could be heated by an iron stove.



"Even though there appear to be gaps between the shingles, the roof is watertight sidelap as well as an overlap. The roof shingles are quite long and have a some of the tools used to build houses like the 1719 Herr House are located in the attic. These include broadaxe, used for hewing logs into beams, and a froe, used to split shingles. After splitting a shingle it was shaved down using a schnitzelbank-, which held the shingles in place for working." 

(from The Swiss Herr Family of Lancaster www.horseshoe.cc/pennadutch/families/herr/herr.htm#hhm)




I was also fascinated with the windows, shutters, latches, and hingework. They must have had a blacksmith in the family, or nearby.





There is a local story that one night the Herrs warmed a hunting party of Natives for the night beside the kitchen hearth. Having been persecuted themselves, I wonder what kinship they might have struck with the Natives, and I'm glad to know there is currently an effort to restore a right relationship with them.

And of course, my writer's mind was flying fast and furious about what possible stories might abound...

If you travel to Lancaster, take time to see this wonderfully restored piece of history and visit www.hansherr.org.

What are your most favorite historical travel locations?
Do you have a bucket list for such locations? Please share!
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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.
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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Who Is Your War Hero?

Yesterday being the day we remember fallen soldiers who have paved the way for our freedom, got me to reminiscing about those who sacrifice their lives for us. It's such a picture of the "Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend". 

My Dad's  cousin was in Vietnam. He flew planes in on reconnaissance missions and his tag line every time he left base was "tally-ho". They were the last words ever heard from him. He disappeared--MIA. Still MIA today.

Coming from a family of ARMY vets, I look back and see how blessed we were and are to not have experienced much loss. With a Grandfather and three great-uncles serving in WWII from the Philippines to Normandy, they all came home. My Dad and my uncle served in the Vietnam War; they also came home.

But how many losses have families experienced over the years? Empty beds, closets of clothes never to be worn again, pictures frozen in time...

Today as we start our week, others are struggling to find the emotional strength to begin theirs. May we be ever grateful.

Who is your war hero?

______________________________________


Jaime Wright -

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

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

What's Your Coffee?

I'm off for five days! A sweet vacation at home with the kiddos. Starting with garage sales this morning! (I'm sure the little ones are SO excited). Coffee will be a run through the Starbucks that just opened...wait for it .. FIVE MINUTES from MY HOUSE!

So, as you all rejoice with me, here's a few housekeeping things to round out the week:

1. The book report is coming! DeeAnne Gist's latest "It Happened at the Fair". It will be posted this weekend, so stay tune as Anne ferociously finishes reading it. :)

2. Memorial Day is a holiday, so we'll be hanging with family and looking forward to rejoining you on Tuesday. We'll be asking who YOUR hero is!

3. LAST BUT NOT LEAST! The winner of last week's DOUBLE BOOK GIVEAWAY is: Linsey! Linsey, please shoot me an email or FB message with your address so I can get the books shipped out to you!

 Have a fantastic holiday weekend!!!

______________________________________


Jaime Wright -

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

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Real Hero

I realize next Monday is Memorial day, but in anticipation of that being a holiday and our blog being quiet, I wanted to reminisce a bit.
 
This is how I remember him ... laughter in his eyes and hands that were disabled by MS but always ready to hold out shakily toward me and welcome me on his lap. An affectionate pat on the side of my knee and books. We read a lot of books. He could walk with a cane. It was wooden and curved and shiny, and it had a rubber stopper on the bottom so it wouldn't "clank" on the floor as he walked. He loved to rock in a rocking chair, and he would lick his fingers everytime he turned a thin, worn page in his Bible.

This man introduced me to coffee ... and perhaps started the reign of terror in my household when at three years old I was stoked on caffiene. But he was the Patriarch. My mother could not tell him "no". So we would sit and dunk cinnamon-sugar doughnuts in coffee, and then, once full, would drink our well-sugared black nectar. He would sip his, drawing the coffee in between his lips so it bubbled a little, made a slurpy sound, and cooled off just before it hit his tongue. I tried, but it went up my nose, so I just gulped. I still gulp. Maybe I should learn to be like Grampa and take more time ...

This man saved the world ... though he certainly wouldn't say that. In fact, he'd redirect me Spiritually to Scripture right now if he could - and he would be right. But in his own way, his own uncelebrated way, he did. In January of 1941 he entered the ARMY and had 1 month left before he was discharged when a Japanese plane dropped the first bomb on Pearl Harbor and Grampa was permanently enlisted until September of 1945. He trained hard for African desert warfare and found himself in the frozen war fields of Attu, the tropics of the Marshall Islands, and the horrors of the Philippines. He never did see the desert. I wonder if he minded? He fought in all five major Asiatic battles, earning medals he never received until after his death in 1986. The Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, Asiatic Battle Award, and numerous other smaller medals.

He wrote like a dreamer ... I have four years of letters he wrote faithfully to Gramma. Some of them are chopped into pieces by the censors to make sure he wasn't sending something to her that would be intercepted and reveal locations. Interestingly enough, his letters sound like a man stationed overseas for work. He doesn't belabor the terror he's witnessing, but instead he professes his love over and over, inquires about the family farm, has Ruthie grown taller? and sure miss your pies!

What we didn't know ... was how his buddy was shot in front of him by a Japanese cave fighter and Grampa, who would normally not hurt a mouse, opened his flame thrower full-on and left the cave and all that was in it in ashes. What we didn't know, was that one night he was out laying barbed wire under cover of darkness when his comrades opened fire on the enemy and he had to finish his covert op with the sky lit up like the fourth of July.  What we didn't know, was how he came into the posession of a bloodied Japanese flag that he brought home with him and never talked about. What we don't know, are all the stories he took to his grave as sacred, haunting memories that he felt deserved to be buried rather than retold.

Did my Grampa save the world? does it matter? In the eyes of a 3 yr. old he brought me coffee, can there be anything more heroic than that?

______________________________________


Jaime Wright -

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

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Daily Bread--Just The Way I Like It!

This post was written Sunday night before the severe weather of the week. Let us remember those in Oklahoma who lost loved ones, and those working to clear the rubble. Take a moment to lift their hearts before the Lord before reading today's post.


Give us this day our daily bread.


by permission: www.freedigitalphotos.net

It's part of the Lord's prayer I learned to recite as a child.

The Love Fleet of vehicles is down by one and a half cars. With a daughter in college and our son nearly there, the budget is feeling the freak-out stage. Our son's Green Machine Honda is out of commission and waiting to be replaced. Friday morning I was so glad to lend him his sister's purple Honda Civic--her name is Sylvia. At this point he didn't even care that it's purple, when six months ago he'd not have been caught dead driving a purple car. But apparently it's better than a yellow bus!

Then it happened. He calls me from the drive way. "Mom can you come out here?"
My first thought was great, he backed into Bessie the van. But he looked at me with pleading eyes, and said, "The PRNDL is stuck." (If  you've never watched Lizzie McGuire that's Park-Reverse-Neutral-Drive-Low, otherwise known as London's "prindle"--duh).

My first thought was great, I'm in my P. J.'s and I have to drive him to school, and I'll be late for work.
My second thought was great what's this going to cost?

This morning on the way to church, all four of us piled into Bessie, my Oddessey with 236,600 miles on her (yes we speak nicely to her). I'm nostalgically reminded of all the days Bessie has seen us through. All the tears, quick trips, pit stops, fast food runs, practices, bickering, and oh so wonderful conversations to and from church and other places. I was reminded of how fleeting those moments are, and how wonderfully our God has provided for our needs.

As I read the Sunday lesson aloud to my husband, and the kids listened in from the back seat--one half plugged into his iPod, the other joining in the discussion--we somehow got onto trusting God to provide for our needs. I'd love nothing more than to have that shiny sky blue Honda I saw last week sitting on a lot. I want to call her Robin Egg. I told Ted that Robin had screamed my name. She didn't even have rust or a dent to match Bessie's (sorry Bessie--not kicking a gift horse here).

Because if I had a spankin' new car, I'd really put my trust in her. I'm pretty certain Robin wouldn't break down. I'm pretty certain her PRNDL wouldn't get stuck in P. Pretty certain. But I heard my mouth telling our children that we are trusting God to provide and somehow in five years, ten years, fifteen--we won't look back and break our arms patting ourselves on our own backs to brag how we'd made it all happen. No, I said. We'll be telling how God provided daily bread. Like manna in the wilderness. Because it's faith. Strange how each morning the Children of Israel had to gather fresh manna. It was a daily dependence. Because that's how faith is--it's daily.

Too often we are tempted to become grumblers just like the Children of Israel who demanded meat. You know--they wanted T-bone steak, easy street, and some A-1 steak sauce with that please! Yes, I'm tempted to make a rash decision and drive home a spankin' new Honda to replace Bessie. I mean what were those silly Israelites thinking? You'd think they would have gathered more manna than they needed and saved up to trade it in for something better right? But God supplied only enough for one day and if they kept it longer, it only spoiled. Manna was God's nourishment in the wilderness while they wondered for forty years. No offense, but I don't think Bessie will live that long (but like I said, not kicking the gift horse).

Face it. We can either grumble, eat spoiled manna, or embrace the daily bread and learn to trust God one day at a time.

Tomorrow we take Sylvia in to get her PRNDL looked at.
I'm praying for daily bread--just enough from my Lord Jesus Christ to get through tomorrow. 

Because it's Jesus who showed us the true meaning of manna, and taught us to pray. Give us this day our daily bread....

"Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world." (John 6:31-33 RSV)

Besides, God has a sense of humor. Because every morning when I get up, I never know which piece of manna will be running for the day--or how much stink the spoiled left overs will have. Ain't it a grand adventure?

How do you live with the tension of "enough" and "too much"?

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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.
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Will Every Moment Count This Week?

I was sifting through pictures on my laptop and saw this picture from last summer. My Peter Pan, all of a size nothing, fit in the crook of my arm while we sun bathed. He was two months old here. (And this is as close to a swimsuit pic as you'll ever see me in--ever!)

Tonight I tucked Peter Pan in, sick with bronchitis, his nose crusty, his head on my shoulder and feet dangling well past my waist. His hand curled in my hair and a hoarse, croaking, "mamamama" rattled from his mouth. Mama's here, sweet one. Mama's here.

I'm struck by how fast life goes. This boy is walking behind push mobiles and crawling up steps, chowing down pizza and ... trading me in for Gramma (well, who wouldn't?!).

And then my baby girl, sweet Kokomo Jo, who used to tuck her face into her Georgie Monkey in car rides and sleep sound, her sippy cup in her lap now waved her hand in the air tonight and with a victorious cry of a 3 yr old announced, "I gotta Buggar, I gotta Buggar!!!! oh. I lost it."

Where does the time go? My parents are in their seventies, my brother is turning forty, I have one grandparent left, my dear sweet Gramma who is forgetting more than she's remembering. I looked in the mirror last week and realized, it didn't matter what I did, that WAS an age spot in the corner of my cheek. Sigh. Wasn't I just 22 and rambunctious--staying up til 3 AM drinking coffee at the local diner with my cousin? Didn't Nate and I just get married--oh, that was 13 years ago. Wait. In thirteen years I'll be...50. God save me.

I'm reminded of the Scripture in James 4:14, "yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes". I always thought it a rather depressing verse. Thanks, Lord. Thanks for reminding me I'm almost dead.

But tonight, I'm reading it differently.

What does my life mean? What legacy do I leave behind? I don't know what tomorrow will bring. Will Kokomo Jo remember Mommy living a life that glorifies the Lord, or will she remember a harried woman, stressed, irritable, and cranky? Will Peter Pan treasure the knowledge of Christ imparted to him by his mother, or will he wonder someday, how devoted his mother truly was?

If I'm going to be fifty in thirteen years, it doesn't mean I'm going to pass away (because it's the new thirty right?). But I believe James is imparting a serious mission to us as Believers. Make your life count for Jesus! Only that which is eternal will last! I cannot fathom eternity without my children. It is my greatest horror. It is my deepest prayer. I may only have a small amount of time left ... or I may have decades. But, I don't know. And the people I work with--do I view them through eternal glasses? Does it make that obnoxious co-worker less obnoxious and more critical when you look at them as a soul lost?

 Will you stop running the ragged race of life--grocery shopping, need to gas up the car, oh my gosh where's my cell phone, STUPID dishes, why does my boss act like that, maybe I'll get my raise next year, oh those crazy kids why don't they pick up their shoes when I ask them to!
STOP! None of it is eternal. That soccer scholarship--not eternal. That devotion to every high school sport your kid is in and sacrifice of fellowshiping on Sunday in exchange for swim meets? Not necessarily eternal.

Will every moment count this week? Wherever you are, whatever choice you make, will you make it for Jesus and for the legacy of His glory that you leave behind?

I was blessed to be interviewed at OWG blog. Hop over and check it out and enter to win a Karen Witemeyer book! http://cfpagels.blogspot.com/2013/05/jaime-wright-sundsmo-interviewed-by.html?m=1

______________________________________


Jaime Wright -

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

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Double Book Report & Giveaway!

Today I am privileged to review TWO books -- one historical romance and one contemporary. First up, The Icecutter's Daughter, by Tracie Peterson! 

I've always been a rabid Tracie Peterson fan. Every book she writes I buy because she a classic Historical Romance author. Every setting is unique, every story different, characters arched and individual, and heroes vary from book to book.

Icecutter's Daughter is no different. Merrill is the devoted daughter of the ice cutter. Just their unique business alone lends itself to historical credence and definitely makes a fascinating read. Merrill is thwarted in her own future, the only female in a house of men who need a woman's touch in the place of a mother who'd passed away. Rurik is a hero who is not regretful to be free of a simpering fiance from an arranged betrothal. Fascinated by Merrill, intrigued by life in the wintery regions of the North, it seems like God has smiled on both and provided them with a rather predictable future. Until Rurik's fiance appears, with child, claiming it is his and insistent he take responsibility. Scandal ensues and ... well... I'm giving this book away to one lucky reader and the rest of you will have to buy it to find out! :) 

Lisa Wingate is a new author to me. Obviously, Anne and I err heavily on the historical side but it's always nice to brush up on other genres. Firefly Island was a long deviation from my normal reading path. It's written in first person too, so that was a difficult one for me. No reflection on the writing or the story--which were rich, deep, thought provoking and good--I'm just not a good reader of first person.  Lisa is a fabulous writer! I was pleased with the flow of the story, the richness of the intrigue ... it sort of reminded me of one of those creepy but literary-style movies where a family moves to a sheltered little town with an underlying and ghostly story that must be uncovered.

Mallory has married, children entered her life and she uncovers scandal. Hidden, on Firefly Island, life's questions push her to the brink. Her background working on Capitol Hill is a sharp contrast to her new life with a husband, a step-son and a pregnancy. The characters of Firefly Island are layered, the story is riddled with the challenges of life, the intrigue of secrets and ghostly pasts ... it keeps you on the edge until the very last page.

SO! In honor of a two book report, we're holding a two book giveaway! Spread the word, leave a comment, enter to win!

And my question for you is...first person or third person? Which is your reading preference?

Winner will be announced Wednesday, May 22nd!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

It's a Reader's Poll: What's Your Decade?

Thank God it's Thursday! Coffee's on. This week it's: Starbuck's Pike's Place Roast.

Calling all readers. Pull up a chair and sit at my coffee table. What's on your reading stack?

What decades and eras do you like to read from the most? Least?
What's been over done? Under done? 


by permission: www.freedigitalphotos.net

1. Civil War vs. WWI?
2. Revolutionary War vs. WWII?
3. What happens in the 1850's anyway? Under done?
4. Reconstruction (1864-1875ish) vs. Depression?
5. Roaring 1920's vs. Crashing 1890's
6. Industrial Revolution vs. Suffrage?
7. Gold Rush vs. Land Rush--Westward ho!?

Others?

I think the 1800-1840's are a little under done. But just think about all that settlement that happened during that time, and all the dirt, bugs, and disease--not very romantic. Just think of all the melting in the melting pot, the Westward expansion that happened. Indians. Primitive farming. Immigration. Poor sanitation. Cholera. Yellow Fever. Education. Really these were the formative years for our baby nation.

And while we're on that subject of under done vs. over done, what about location? 

I'm a little weary of the prairie, the school teacher, the Rockies, and Texas--in fiction that is. (I'm married to a teacher!) And I don't read bonnet fiction--they are my neighbors, I don't want to read about them. No offense.

I'd have to say, right now I'm in love with the North woods of our nation--The Great Lakes, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maine. And, well, of course my manuscript is set in Wisconsin. The North Woods just screams rustic no matter what decade. There's something romantic about the woods, no matter the season. I think it's been over looked and under done. Who doesn't love boots, suspenders, and flannel? 

by permission: www.freedigitalphotos.net

I'd also love to read more from New England, Oklahoma, and the Appalachians.

What trends do you see, or would you love to see in fiction?
What have you learned from the industry lately about reader trends?

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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.
Find me on:Facebook
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Downton Abbey--Season Four

Mark your calendars...PBS has just announced this week that season four of the famed Downton Abbey will premiere on Sunday, January 5, 2014.

Can't you just hear the music now.... 


Set you DVR. Program your TiVo. The eight week season that runs through February 24, 2014 will include such cast additions as Tom Cullen, Dame Harriet Walters, Gary Carr, and Nigel Harman. The word on PBS is that Tom Cullen will play a new love interest for Lady Mary Crawley. His name, and I love this one, will be Lord Gillingham. Leave lovely English names, well--to the English. However, it sounds as if there will be no lack of interest in Mary, as more than one dashing Englishman vies for her affections.

I also can't wait for Shirley MacClaine's reappearance as Cora's mother, what a class act snarky but endearing American. I just love her. Apparently there will be a new race-related story thread as well, if internet sources are correct. And I hear the Cora's lady's maid, O'Brien, may perhaps get her good riddance.

Check the PBS website for more information: PBS: Downton Abbey Season 4

If you like spoilers, check out this site (fair warning!):  The Stir

If you've never heard of Fanfiction, you might want to browse the 238 entries for Downton Abbey:Fanfiction-Downton Abbey

Confessions please: 
Fess-up if you watch the entire season before it premiers in the United States. And please, tell the rest of us how to do it! I can hardly wait!

If you were writing season 4, what plot twist would you write into the story?
Will Lady Edith find happiness? Will Branson find a suitable wife?

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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.
Find me on:Facebook
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Find me on: Goodreads
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Genesis Contest -- Blessing or a Curse?



BIG NEWS from the home front this week. I have to admit I’m still loony about it. While we were blog-breaking, I got a phone call from one of the Genesis contest coordinators that I have semi-finaled in the Genesis contest. Only one of the largest, nationwide competitions for unpublished writers. What does it mean?
I have no clue.
Really.
Because I’m in uncharted territory with excitement and nerves similar to Reepicheep the Mouse who set off in his little dingy to explore the waters beyond Narnia in The Voyage of the Dawn Treador. I’m paddling, I’m staring ahead, I see light, massive lily flowers of promise, and one ginormous question mark.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  • I am one of the top 10 writers in the Historical Romance genres.
  • I will hear if I’m one of the top 3 around June 15th.
  • If I am, I have 2 days to fine tune my entry based on judges comments and ship it off to be analyzed by a panel of editors and the winner will be announced at the ACFW Conference that I’m going to in September.

Here’s the excitement:

  • I finaled, I finaled, I finaled!

Here’s the question mark:

  • Crud. Did you see who I finaled against? I suck.
  • Did the judges get me mixed up with someone else, cause if I was a judge and I read THAT synopsis I would’ve pitched the entire entry—into the can.
  • AND, if MY synopsis was one of the top ten then that means I’m surrounded by really, horrid writers. No. I’m not.Yes, the judges got me mixed up. Shoot. I might as well enjoy this top 10 because I’m not going any further.I know half the others in my category who semi-finaled already have agents—that automatically means they’re better than I am.Why the heck did I enter? What a stupid idea.

Let’s face it folks. Even in the face of great adventure, we all have misgivings, self-doubt, self-deprecation, and a mortifying sense of doom. There are hundreds of writers out there receiving back their entries to the contest, heartbroken. I almost felt I could deal better with that than the taste of success. Fine. Half glass empty.
So, why does the Lord does give us a modicum of success in this life, and what do we do with it? My Admin at work would start crooning Bing Crosby’s “Count Your Blessings”, but she’s weird like that. I think sometimes that horrible awful side of life—the anti-God side—wants to sabotage our joy. Since when did we start feeling guilty about being joyful?

Ok. Fine. I’ll count my blessings:

  • Anne. Dear Anne. If she felt a pang of jealousy she never let on. She rejoiced in my semi-final with the pride and laughter of a sister.
  • Kara. She made me enter THE NIGHT BEFORE IT WAS DUE. I’ve never written a synopsis so fast and so horribly but she hacked it apart made me rewrite it, and I guess I always should listen to Kara.
  • My husband. He hates fiction. Let’s be honest. The last fiction book he read was in high-school because it was required reading. He gives a pass to the Chronicles of Narnia because they’re allegorical. Outside of that, he’s preparing his Biblical Hebrew language flash cards for my three year old daughter’s PRE-pre-school training. The nod of his head and smile was all I needed when I announced I had semi-finaled. He was proud. That was enough.

I suppose the moral of this story has nothing to do with contests, who’s better than who, how I’ll never ever beat Gabrielle Meyer ;) … it’s about humility and trust. Receiving a blessing of joy that God extends. Receiving it for what it’s worth—nothing more and nothing less. Because, we hear so much about the trials and stressers and tribulations of this life … a blessing here and there can go an awful long way—if we let it.


Let’s count them? Name off some of your blessings?

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Jaime Wright -

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

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Life Lessons From Moms

So many mothers have had an impact on who I am today, it's hard to give credit to all who deserve it. Of course my own mother is the first on the list. My own nest is nearing the empty stage and I suppose it makes me more reflective. As I look back, there are things that stand out as life lessons.

1. Mom always said: "This too shall pass." And she was right. Nothing lasts forever. Usually she was trying to give me perspective that bad things that seem huge, are really rather small in the scope of things when you stop to think on it. But as I age, I realize that the good things pass much too quickly--and should be cherished deeply.

2. Mom used to send me to my room when I was a naughty child and say: "Now don't come down until you have your attitude right." Yep. Attitude Adjustment 101: I was in that class a long time. But I learned about transformation, about letting go, about forgiveness, about taking personal inventory, about wasted energy on ridiculous notions, about putting relationships above selfishness--and so much more. It taught me about faith and how the heart can change. If we can take these lessons into adulthood, we are blessed.

3. Mom used to tell me when I'd had a rough day, as she tucked me in at night with a hug and a prayer: "I'm sure it's nothing that a good night's sleep won't help." God knows we need rest. Rest helps us let go of things. Rest can give us insight we didn't have the night before. Rest can make our bodies feel better, and can heal our "ouchies".  Sometimes there isn't anything left to do about a problem but to sleep on it. Mom was usually right.

4. Mom used to quote Pa from Little House on the Prairie, and tell me: "There's nothing so bad there isn't any good in it." Learn from your problems, mistakes, and mess-ups. When things seem bad, there is always something to be thankful for--you just have to search for it.

5. As a parent I have often reflected on my father's advise: (yep, dads impact mothering too!) "Say what you mean, and mean what you say; be prepared to back it up." There's not a job on this earth that I can imagine as humbling or more terrifying than being a parent. I'm pretty sure there's not a job that requires such amazing mental gymnastics to stay one step ahead of impending chaos--ready to logically reason, give appropriate consequences, or readjust management accordingly for the manipulating minds of toddlers and teenagers.

6. Practice watching your child sleep--especially after a long day of wanting to shorten their lives. There is nothing that would move my heart to compassion more quickly. There were many nights when my children had been especially trying during the daytime, when watching their sleeping cherub faces didn't just melt my heart completely. There was nothing like practicing that simple thing, that made me want to get up and do it all again the next day.

7. Teach your children to debate. This one was shared with me by my best friend, Jayne. It was during that bicker-bicker-bicker stage. I think the kids were late elementary, or junior high. She'd heard about the concept on Focus on the Family. When your kids are arguing, you turn to each of them and help them verbalize the thing they really want the most. Very often the thing they want the most, doesn't match the words coming out of their mouths. What is coming out of their mouths is their defense of what they most want. 

It goes something like this. Child A: wants on computer but child B is on it, but he asks anyway and gets a "no" without further meaning or explanation. Child A then whines, bickers, hits, acts out in some way. Child B reacts and defends and digs into her position: "mom, I just got on and my turn isn't done." Meanwhile child A believes no one cares what he wants and begins to cry. You help negotiate. Ask each child what they want. When child B finally says she only needs ten more minutes to complete her game, child A just wanted to know how long until it was their turn and realizes ten minutes is agreeable. Set the timer. End of bickering. Of course it wasn't always that magical. But it sends a message that it's important for your children to say what they need, ask for it, negotiate what is reasonable. You empower them to solve things instead of demanding they listen to you.

It saved my sanity so many times!

8. A van ride is sacred. In between giving the death glare in the rear-view mirror because they touched each other after I asked them to stop. In between passing cheerio snacks as bribes to tide them a bit longer until I'd finished my errands. In between listening to books on tape, music CD's, and singing at the top of our lungs together. In between all that---they were my captives. I had their ears. They could not escape. We had many sacred conversations no matter what age---in the van. Don't miss your opportunities.

Proverbs 31:26-31 "She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: Many woman do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive , and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate."

What lessons from mothers have shaped you most? 
Which do you cherish most? 
Which ones do you wish someone would have told you sooner?

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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.
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