Friday, June 28, 2013

Book Report: A Great Trilogy, by Lena Nelson Dooley

I first read Lena Nelson Dooley's Heartsong Presents paperback, Pirate's Prize. It was fabulous. I didn't imagine some time later, I'd be blogging cohorts with this wonderful woman and author at the Christian Fiction Historical Society blog. So I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to read her latest trilogy about triplet sisters separated at birth. It's an honor also as I related to their stories about being adopted and while I wasn't born on the Oregon Trail (ahem!) nor in the back of a covered wagon, my adoptive parents were and are my parents and my blesssings. Although, I was quick to find out, not every adoptee can make that claim, as seen in some of the following books:

First up in this line of great historical romances, is Maggie's Journey. The daughter of wealthy merchants, she never quite measures up to her mother's expectations. When she uncovers her adoption history, Maggie is on a mission to find the truth and the parents of her birth.

Characters: I really enjoyed the characters in this book. I think Florence, Maggie's mother who adopted her as a baby, stunned me a bit. In the prologue she was a heartbroken, childless woman who was overwhelmed with the blessing of little Maggie. And in Chapter One she became an overbearing and critical mother. I love the journey, Lena took the reader on through Florence's perspective. She became my favorite character in the book -- and she wasn't even the main character! Maggie is delightful but haunted. Her journey to find herself takes her deep into her soul and along for the journey is Charles -- our faithful hero, strong in faith, loyal in love, and steady.

Spiritual thread: I really appreciate how Lena didn't rush into an adoption reunion story. Rather she focused on the family that Maggie does have. They all must do some serious soul searching as secrets are revealed, honor is challenged, and wounded hearts are either mended or left to bleed. The theme of reconciliation is thick in this book. I believe many adopted young women can relate well to Maggie's journey and Lena did a fabulous job of connecting with issues deep in the heart of an adopted child.

Next up, is Mary's Blessing. Mary can make no claims to wealth and while her upbringing was swathed in love and the reassurance that though she was not their own, Mary was a blessing to her parents. But the blessing dies along with her mother, and now the burden of a grief-stricken father and a family to raise leaves Mary with little hope for her own future.

Characters: Mary is loyal -- to a fault almost. Her undying faithfulness to her father and family has seen fit to ostracize her from the one man who could provide her wealth, contentment and even love. Daniel is set on Mary until he realizes she comes into his heart with the baggage of family, farm, and labor he's not willing to accept. There struggles in relationship are deep and Mary's journey to find answers to her past to help answer the questions of today is ongoing and heart-wrenching.

Spiritual thread:  The thread here is wonderful. Showing how a man is to love the woman with a servant's heart rather than expecting she follow without question. Being willing to sacrifice for each other and coming to terms with the hard sacrifices that sometimes must be made because of love.

Last but not least, we come to the conclusion of this delightful trilogy, Catherine's Pursuit.
I think perhaps this one was my favorite. Maybe because it was the culmination of the story of the three identical sisters separated by birth.

Characters: I related the most to Catherine. Maybe because she's determined to find her sisters regardless of the hurt and ache she has experienced at the hands of their father's deception. Family loyalty drives Catherine and then reunion becomes her drive. I thoroughly enjoyed Collin (probably because I'm partial to that name and my husband wasn't so my son isn't named Collin -- side note). Collin, a sailor (who doesn't swoon over that?) is protective, a bit awkward, and humble. His endearing qualities drew me in right away and he was a perfect match to Catherine.

Spiritual thread:  It's a culmination of renewing, grace, reconciliation and faith.

I loved these books!! You will too! Lena is an amazing writer of heart-warming stories. SO! To help introduce you, please leave a comment and enter to win your pick of one of these three!

What would YOU do if you found out you one of three identical triplets?

Winner of last week's "Undeniably Yours", by Becky Wade is:    Lisa Medeiros

______________________________________


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, June 27, 2013

Thursday's Coffee: Unfettered Access


An unexpected break from my usual morning routine caused my coffee to get cold this morning.

I cancelled our landline yesterday, but when I tried to get online this morning, the internet was down.
Thus followed those lovely support service calls, automated prompts that end in "we show your internet service was cancelled effective today, to hear this message again, press the * key."

Cancelled internet? No, it was supposed to be landline only. ACCCKK. Grrr.

I called again, chose support services this time. Placed on hold. Listening to Pachebel's Canon, thinking of it playing as I walked down the aisle twenty-five years ago, and all the support services we've needed through the years.

"Ma'am, I sorry, but I show you have full access here. When you make an order change, you may have disrupted service for a day while your profile is changed. I'll reboot you." No kidding. Poor guy. I wanted to shoot the messenger.

More Pachebel's Canon. My fingers drum on my dead laptop.

Lord, please fix this easily. I unplug the modem, plug in the new surge protector I got yesterday at Walmart for the modem outlet. The lightening strike we had two months ago started the ball rollingin the first place. It fried our old modem and the land line stopped working. We replaced the modem, but didn't miss the landline. Thus the call to cancel it yesterday.

I thought I'd solved all future problems. <inner snarky laugh at my silly self>

Surge protection, reduced monthly costs, new modem. Check. Wrong. No power from the new surge protector. Pachelbel still playing. The newly purchased surge protector made in China? Faulty. So much for global economy. Global connectedness.

Enter still small Voice: with Me there's unfettered access. No internet diagnostics required for a connection with God. No surge protection necessary. No global economy required.

Pachelbel still playing in my ear from my cell call to the support guy. It's been twenty-five years since we walked down that aisle and said our vows. Thank goodness we had unfettered access to God over those years--an infusion of His "lightening", and the best support service on the globe from the body of Christ.

Finally, he's back. "It's rebooted Ma'am." My Macbook internet diagnostics runs a quick update, and "taa-daaa"---up pops my internet connection and I hang up.

Now my coffee is cold.

But as I waited for the microwave to rewarm it, I'm so grateful we have unfettered access to God. He's given us the Way, the Truth, and the Life in his Son, Jesus Christ.

The microwave dings, and I take my steaming mug to the patio.

Pachelbel, still ringing in my mind.

Thank you God.

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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, June 26, 2013

Plotting Inconsistencies

As I'm wrapping up edits on my latest manuscript, my brain is already plotting my next book. I love to shake things up in a story. To try to write something that's creative a new. Which is why I shy away from the proverbial schoolteacher or governess role of my heroines.

There's some outlandish schemes in writing that work. Like an opiate addicted heroine as in Christy Award Winning Elizabeth Camden's latest novel. Or German nobleman running for his life to the Americas as in Jody Hedlund's "A Noble Groom". Those work. Different, but yet they work -- they cause intrigue, curiosity and enjoyment.

I sent the picture above to my co-worker who's a German addict. Everything German is him in a nutshell. We got to talking about the War and the Nazis and without meaning any disrespect, I posed the question: If the Nazis had spoken French would they have seemed half as intimidating at the outset? Oui oui? No poo poo. 

Some combinations just don't work. It's too ... off the wall. For example, in my next book I want to have a disabled hero. My first thought was he could be hearing challenged. Yeah. Try writing an entire book with a hero that can't speak except with his hands--the dialogue would be riveting.  I'm now leaning toward blind or lip-less. Lip-less could be lend for some scenes worth drooling over ... ok ... maybe I'll give my hero lips.

So when we plan our books, we have to think of the crazy, step it up a notch, then make sure it's not too far over the edge of believable or -- enjoyable.

Have you read any books that are just too crazy for words? Plots or combinations that just don't make sense? I'd be curious to know--so I don't make the same mistake twice.



______________________________________


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, June 25, 2013

Vacation Dilema

What does a writer take on vacation? 
Books or Manuscripts to edit?

I think I'm having a bibliophile-breakdown. Is that a real term? Is there a diagnosis for that?

All I know is that I can't decide what books to take. There's only so much you can fit into your carry-on bag. I'm seriously considering another checked bag, just to ensure I can add a few extra books. I even got a new battery for my laptop in case I want to sit by the pool and edit.

But how many books can one read in a week? Seriously. By the pool. On the plane. In the airport. To the hotel.

And I'm on vacation, so should I really feel the pull to edit? or should I just consider that I have all that free time--how great that I could edit unfettered? Or is free time, even on vacation, just a figment of my dreams?

So far my book list includes:

1. Love at any Cost by Julie Lessman
2. Be Still My Soul by Joanne Bischof
3. One Thousand Gifts by AnnVoskamp
4. When Love Calls by Lorna Seilstad
5. A Midwife's Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
6. Veil of Pearls by MaryLu Tyndall

What would you take on vacation?
Is a Kindle worth it?
If you have a Kindle do you love it, and why?

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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, June 24, 2013

I Will Not Be Shaken

It's a Monday morning and my heart is full of concerns for several friends facing really tough things.

A husband in the hospital after a heart attack.
A mother in the hospital after a stroke.
A friend in the hospital with a blood clot in the lungs.
A friend facing a valley of darkness that must be gone through today.

And then there's just the usual stuff.
Hormones.
Blech.
Chores.
Double Blech.
Monday morning work week crud.
Blech (but yes Lord, thank you for this job I love!)

So, I woke this morning with a praise song in my mind and on my heart to share with you all today.
I hope you can hear the song with me and praise our God today together with me.

We shall not be overcome.


I will declare my choice to the nations
I will shout for joy to the congregation
I will worship God, worship God
All my days

Those who love the Lord are satisfied
Those who trust in him are justified
I will serve my God, serve my God
All my days

When the nations crumble
The word of the Lord will stay
Kings may rise and fall
His love will endure
Though the strong may stumble
The joy of the Lord is strength

To my soul
I will not be shaken
I will not be moved
I will not be shaken

I will declare my joys to the nation
Hey I will shout for joy to the congregation
I will worship God, worship God
All my days

Those who love the Lord are satisfied
Those who trust in him are justified
I will serve my God, serve my God
All my days

When the nations crumble
The word of the Lord will stay
Kings may rise and fall
His love will endure
Though the strong may stumble
The joy of the Lord is strength

To my soul
I will not be shaken
I will not be moved
I will not be shaken

I will not be shaken
Keep my eyes on you Lord
I will not be moved
Keep my feet on the ride
I will not be shaken
Let him do something to you
I will not be moved
Anywhere you see, and anywhere you look
I will not be shaken
I will not be moved
I will not be shaken

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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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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Book Report: Undeniably Yours, By Becky Wade

Well goodness ... Becky Wade did it again. From rich heiress, to hunky tattooed cowboy, she's covered the bases and left her readers satisfied.

You always wonder how an author will best their great debut novel ... and if they CAN. She did. In spades.

Characters: The characters are rich with life and story. Meg has inherited her father's wealth, based in oil, rich in family heritage, and ripe with obligation. Bo runs her thoroughbred ranch that Meg has decided to close. I really enjoyed how Meg and Bo have their "quirks". From Meg's anxiety attacks, to Bo's insatiable obligation to the ranch and its employees, the story keeps the reader engaged and invested in Meg and Bo's story.

Plot: It's a romance, so it's not fraught with murder and mayhem. But! It's full of problems, from the moment Meg's ex-husband's girlfriend shows up on her doorstep to the pilfering of family funds points fingers at unlikely suspects.

I truly loved this book and you definitely will too! It's a great read, fun, witty in spots, sad in others, and altogether a well-rounded contemporary romance that you'll keep on your bookshelf for many years to come!

So let's help you put it there! Enter to win by leaving YOUR comment: Would you choose to close a thoroughbred ranch or would the horses call your name?

Friday, June 21, 2013

WINNER OF CAROL COX's TROUBLE IN STORE

The winner of last Friday's book drawing is: Amy C! :)
Yeah! Congrats, AMY!

New Book report tomorrow: Becky Wade's new book, Undeniably Yours. Check back for a chance to win!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What's on Your Coffee Table?

I love having good NON Fiction books to devour. As we tip back our morning coffee, here's some coffee table chatter on my latest three:

Reasons for Belief - by, Norman Geisler

I made my husband (Masters of Theology) happy when I began reading Norman Geisler. He can write some heady stuff for us fiction readers but he is SOLID and schooled in the art of apologetics. This book is great in that it addresses the questions of what you believe and WHY you believe them. Being able to provide a ready defense for our faith is critical. Blind faith convinces no one--educated faith builds credibility. With chapters like, "Is Jesus God?", "Is Jesus the Only Way To God", you can see right away what type of book this is. I highly recommend it!

Pray the Scriptures - by, Kevin Johnson

This book is just what it says. It's NOT a how-to book, or a theology book, or even self help. It's designed as a workbook. Each chapter picks a section of Scripture for you to read, a prayer that goes with its theme, and then tag lines to assist you in journaling your thoughts to help you dig deeper. Prayers include: "Find Peace", "Be Content", "Tripping into Sin". It's a really a great workbook if Bible study is difficult and even if you're an ace studier, this book is still a fantastic way to centralize your thoughts into specific targeted prayer. I'm really enjoying it! Again, a highly recommended book.

What a Son Needs From His Mom - by, Cheri Fuller

I really enjoyed this one. Now that I have a boy it revealed all the "needs" my son may have from me as he grows. As mothers, I do believe we tend to instill in boys the traits we feel are important, but some of them simply are not applicable or poignant to the male mind.

I loved her chapter headings: "A Mom Who Builds Confidence", "A Mom Who Nurtures Her Son's Faith" ... ahh!! I loved this. And she had such great suggestions:

"...she read biographies of a Christian boy or man whose life demonstrated that God sees you through."

It never dawned on me the importance of the male influence of HISTORY on my son's life, his confidence, his boldness. These traits are foreign to me.

Definitely a must read if you're the mother of a boy!

So what non-fiction is on YOUR coffee table?


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How to Lose Like a Loser

The day just started out wrong. It was a bad hair day for one, my t-shirt was too small but I wore it anyway and sported those love handles like a pro, and my weight watchers diet had me hungry for an egg mcmuffin which I could have ('cause it's weight watchers) but then I'd use my daily allotment of points and be hungry in an hour.

I drove to work confident though. I was confident in one thing: today the Genesis writing contest from ACFW that I semi-finaled would come to fruition and I'd know I'd lost.

Now all those stories of keeping your chin up, dreaming on stars (which are really burnt out orbs so what does that tell you?), and being confident--it's a bunch hooey. When you know, you know. Really. You just know.

Jessica Patch started it when I received my line edits back (after I'd entered the contest) and realized I had the punctuation and grammar talent of third grader. I don't blame Jessica. I blame my mother. I was homeschooled. I knew I'd get docked and docked hard for that. And my opening line was cool, complimentary in fact, but boring. Yep. That wouldn't impress hard to please judges.

And then there was the plain and simple fact that...I was okay with losing. Not in a defeatist sort of way. I mean, if you follow my FB page you know I was practically having panic attacks waiting for a phone call that I finaled. But I was really ok with losing.

I came in to writing for two reasons: I love it--passionately. I want to do it for God's glory. No. I don't want to preach a sermon in my book. I don't have a God-given message heralded from the sky. I don't even believe God told me I'd be published someday.

I just want to live my life for His glory because without Jesus, it's all worthless.

So even though the day started out rotten, I wasn't really being a pessimist as much as I was just content to be where God took me.

The morning turned out to be amazing. I had coffee with a sweetheart of a girl, Jill, who practically lived at our house through her highschool days and is now ... cough ... married. (I'm really NOT that old). Nate (my husband) joined us and it was there I received the email that I was a loser. A  few tears, sure, but overall, I left that coffee shop with blessing. My phone started beeping with encouragements from Jessica Patch, Lindsay Harrel, Laurie Tomlinson (those two finaled--so excited for them!), Julie Jarnigan, Gabrielle Meyer, Olivia Newport and my beloved Anne-girl. Even my husband told me he still loved me, even if I was a loser. Sure I drowned any remaining sorrow in piles of ice cream that afternoon, but hey -- we ALL look for excuses to do that!

Can it get any better? To know you're EXACTLY where God wants you to be, in the exact moment, the exact place, with the exact people?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

History Starts at My House--Old Brown Schoolhouse




Two weeks before I was born, my parents moved into the Old Brown Schoolhouse. 

No, it doesn't look like this anymore. But it probably did, not long after it was built in 1888  and Mary Todd was the teacher here. This is how I imagined the inside of my house used to look.

I spent many summer days playing in the yard, wondering how many other children before me had done the same.

My brother and I enjoyed looking at the initials carved into the bark of the Beech trees in the woods behind our house. We  imagined they were carved there by the last students to attend Brown School in 1947.

The next picture (above) was taken in 1955 when it was purchased by Guy Conrad and converted into a home. The Conrad's lived here until my parents moved in.

Before the brick Tee style building was built in 1888, the district had only a log cabin for a school where students sat on split log benches, using another slanted log for a desk along one wall.

The arched entry of the new building faced eastward, and the small shed was for wood. The belfry was dismantled before we moved in, though the bell was still in the attic along with a wooden flagpole.

That's it on the left, the year we moved in. <year purposely omitted because those are my diapers on the clothesline!>. Note the slate roof still remains. I recall when the slate was removed a modern roof was put on. My brother and I played school with the left over slate.

My Dad was a school teacher and brought home old desks and textbooks for us to play school with. It's amazing I never became a school teacher!

I remember helping my Dad build the screened porch the summer Princess Di and Charles were married. You can still see the archway in the bricks. The single long windows had been divided into two many years before.


One of my favorite things about growing up here, was that the walls were a foot thick and made my bedroom windowsill perfect to sit in. By my memory, someone from the Conrad family mentioned their father, who was a shop teacher, used the discarded wood to remodel that he'd gotten from the old school in Nappanee that was torn down to make a place for Central School.

I remember once when I was about  five years old, Elkhart County, Indiana, had a school house tour. Some older men and women came through the kitchen saying, "this is right where my desk sat." My neighbor's grandfather, Loyal Stuckman visited also--he had been one of the teachers from 1922-24. An acre of land was purchased from Mrs. Anna Smith for the school. The area west of the school was known for its Tamarack marsh. Before 1900, the marsh was cleaned and the land was used to raise potatoes and also mint. A mint-still remains on the north end of the mile section owned by the Stuckman family.

I'm drinking local mint tea as we speak. :)
School was held in the Brown School until 1947. 
But many lessons are still learned there! 

Have you taken the time to learn your local history?
What interesting facts have you learned?
What pieces of history shaped your growing-up years?

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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, June 17, 2013

Crazy Love

Over the summer I'm teaching 6th and 7th grade boys Sunday School class. Don't ask me how, but I always end up teaching boys. Probably because I'm better at holding a conversation about archery, rock climbing, knives, The Avengers, and imitating Yoda than I can about nail polish, boys, texting, volleyball, and dance. Regardless, I decided to trial run Francis Chan's Crazy Love with the guys this summer. Too deep for 6th and 7th grade boys...why not dare them? So I did. And they're digging deep for Jaime's version of "guy-talks".

A few of the questions have been revealing: "Did you ever lose someone close to you and did it rock your world?" Answers: "My grampa died when I was three--I don't remember him." Well, at least they shared. Death hasn't visited most of them yet, at least not in a poignant fashion. But when we started exploring if this was the last day of their life, what would they do differently, we got more down and dirty:

  • I'd actually agree with my Mom and do as she asks 
  • I'd try to smile more
  • I probably wouldn't go buy stuff 'cause who cares?
  • I'd want to spend time with my family
  • I'd share my faith with my friends 'cause if they thought I was stupid in a few hours I wouldn't care any more
I think the more we dug, they got a little freaked out realizing we could die today. That today might be our last. We read Revelation 4 and the challenge was to read it everyday for a week before we prayed. Would it change their prayer life?

Check it:

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. In front of the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.
In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”
Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God,
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they were created
    and have their being.”

Boys love the book of Revelation. It's like a doomsday movie. Full of massive scorpions, flesh eating grasshoppers, a dragon, blood, glory ... but these guys came to class a bit somber. 'Sup?

Did their prayer life change at all?

  • Yeah, how could I pray after reading that? Like, God is kinda scary
  • I was sorta afraid to talk to Him--it was like, intimidating
  • Wouldn't they get bored saying "holy, holy, holy" all day?
  • I figured I should probably praise him a bit before I started in on me 'cause 'woah, man'
  • I had to pray at youth group and one of the kids was like, 'dude, you pray really good', and I was like, 'yeah, like, read Revelation 4 and you'll pray good too'

The guys were a bit overcome at the awesomeness of God. No longer was he just the warm and fuzzy-bearded Jesus that did cool things for people. He was intimidating, huge...Holy.

So if we died today ...

"woah! We'd be standing right there!"

Once the realization hit the boys they were pretty quiet. The idea of actually standing before God put it all in a new perspective. Life didn't seem so flippant any more and then one kid summed it up:

"It's pretty cool that we can actually talk to God. I mean, if He's that huge and holy and all, we shouldn't be able to speak."

That's right, guys ... it's a privilege. One we take for granted and one we don't share as we should.

So aside from the fact four of the boys are now reading Crazy Love on their own (in 6th grade! yeah, I know, their moms are stunned), and aside from the fact that one kid really DID learn how to pray good...

Today, we get to come before a Holy God in all His righteous power, and we get to stand there and converse as if He were as approachable as a good friend. And, we might meet Him today, and knowing all this sort of changes our perspective because, that, my friends ... is crazy love.

Have you felt His crazy love lately?

______________________________________


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, June 14, 2013

Book Report & Giveaway: Trouble in Store, by Carol Cox

And...it was a good week here on the book reading home front. It was especially fun to check out another historical romantic suspense writer --the genre in which I write. Carol Cox is known for throwing in some fun intrigue along with her romance and she delivered once again.

Hero: I'm all for the troubled hero, but Caleb isn't troubled--except by the fact Melanie shows up on his storefront insisting she's 1/2 owner. That would ruffle some feathers. And ruffle it does! I think it was quirky and fun for Ms. Cox to have Caleb attempting to play matchmaker for Melanie and get her married off so his life could go back to normal. Great tension!

Heroine: Melanie is plucky and proper. I found her a little bit hard to relate to because she was so ...prim and decisive. But then, I've never been accused of being prim and proper, so perhaps the problem was not Melanie's ;). It was engaging to read a heroine who wasn't the headstrong, charge into, devil-may-care, daring and adventurous sort. While she has tads of those traits, Melanie is more dependent and precise than haphazard and wayfaring. Loved that! Refreshing to take a journey away from the a-typical heroine in a historical that defies propriety.

Plot: Can I just say I love Bethany House for allowing an author to include a dead body in their book!? I know it's sometimes edged away from, especially in historicals, but I loved it! It amped up the suspense when you include a murder and while I had a sneaking suspicion of who the villain was, it wasn't clear until they were revealed.

All in all Trouble in Store is a fabtabulous read. Worth every penny and definitely one you'll revisit again. 

But visit it for the first time here! Enter to win a copy of Trouble in Store! Let me know how YOU feel about a murder in a historical setting ... like or dislike?

And the winner of last week's Trouble at the Fair,by Deeanne Gist is ABOUTPROXIMITY! Congrats!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Coffee & a Massage--Self Care?

Self Care? Do you do it?

What do you do to take care of yourself? In my work I talk to so many women who struggle to take care of their own well-being. By nature and necessity we often spend our energies on others.

But I haven't read anywhere in the Bible that women are supposed to break apart inside while they throw themselves under the bus for everyone else. Yes, we should serve. Yes, we should love others. Of course, we should. But what I'm talking about is when Satan has taken what God meant for good and twisted it and sucked the life right out of it.

(Credit: Stan Wiechers, Wikimedia Commons)
Doesn't she look beautiful? Doesn't she look uncertain if it's all worth it? Or as if she's wondering if it's enough?

That's when it's time. Time to stop the boat. Get off. Look at your heart and listen to it.

Take care of it.

I can't tell you how many women, when I've touched on this in discussion, break down in tears.
Wonderful women. Exhausted women.

What do you do to take care of yourself?

I posted this question about self care as a poll on my Facebook page once. I was amazed, I got answers like: I try to eat good, I stopped drinking caffeine, I try to exercise--most followed by a confession of guilt and failure. There was a long list, but all of them were physical things, meeting only physical needs.

So, what are you doing to take care of your soul? your spirit? your heart?

Yesterday I got an hour long massage right after my coffee. Then after 48 hours of grueling work and meetings, and two short nights of sleep--I gave myself permission to do as little as possible.

(Credit: Marcin Bober, from Wikimedia Commons)

I know that's not always an option. Children have to be fed. Animals need to be walked. Games must be played. Meetings cannot occur without you.

But, what if the dust waited? What if you missed a Sunday practice to go to church instead? What if there was a stack of papers all over the bar when your friend pops in for a visit? What if there's hair on the floor in the bathroom?  My point is--you don't have to be spotless. In Francesca Battistelli's words: "perfection is my enemy." So what if you've got a couple dents in your fender? The world won't end. Embrace it. Yes, for the sake of rest.

But it's more than that, go deeper.

It's for your soul. Only Jesus makes us perfect. Only Jesus.

So, get your coffee cup. Sit down. Schedule a massage. Listen to Jesus sing over your heart. Do something to take care of your soul, your spirit--your heart.

Reading and writing are a way that I take a break and relax.

So what do you do to take care of yourself amidst the craziness of life?

How do you give yourself grace?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Reader's Poll: Novel Topics

Would you reach for a book about:

1. A cowboy (Wyatt Earp, Public Domain, Wikimedia)
 
                                                  or a lady lawyer? (Ella Knowles, Public Domain, Wikimedia)




2. A lumberjacks (Public Domain, Wikimedia)
 or lumber jills, 1940's?


3. A man in Scotch plaid,
 or a suit coat and cravat? Oh wait, he has both! (Alexander Muir, Public Domain, Wikimedia)


4. A a lady druggist, (C.C. Wells, Druggist, N.J. Public Domain, Wikimedia)
or a Pinkerton detective working undercover as a copper miner?
(TamarackMiners, CopperCountry, MI, Public Domain, Wikimedia)


5. An insane asylum worker in 1870's,
(Kirkbride's Insane Asylum, PA, Public Domain, Wikimedia)
 or a lady owner of a corner bookstore in 1900?
(1899, CornerBookstore, Boston, MA, Public Domain, Wikimedia)


Choose your favorites!! 

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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, June 11, 2013

Movie Time!

I've been cheated. With the absence of Downton Abbey's easy 50 minute fixes, toddlers have stolen my movie time from me...and with it, that quelling of the need to watch a moving book. Movies are the best. The last one I watched was The Avengers (yeah a year or two late) ... back in April. The one before that was with Anne in March. And that was setting a record! Two movies in two months? Unheard of!

So Anne shot me a message that I should really see "Silver Linings Playbook". I've wanted to since it first came out in theaters. I'm not sure if the content is rated R or not, but the storyline intrigued me and the writing, according to Anne, is fantastic. Along a completely different vein, I really want to see "Jack the Giant Slayer". I know-- Jack and Silver Linings ... totally similar :)

But, with two little ones demanding ALL my attention until 7:30 at night and then a book I'm feverishly trying to finish before September's conference and working on crits for Anne's book, I sapped of movie time.

So! Help me out. I'm starting a list of "Must Sees" and "Don't Waste Your Precious Time" movies.

What do you recommend and what do you abhor in the movie world these days?


Monday, June 10, 2013

Don't Worry

Ever have a moment when someone says just a few simple words, and they land on your heart like they were straight from the Spirit of God?

That happened to me this morning at worship practice.

This week marks the start of a few changes that have potential to create anxiety. Worry. Unnecessary energy spent on things that are out of my control--yet they affect me.

I know, it's the story of our lives, right?

My kids left to work at church camp for the next eight weeks, and my partner at work took a week of vacation. So, even though having our college-aged kids back home with their extra laundry, appetites, and attitudes was an adjustment, I've enjoyed sharing the work load of making suppers, and dividing household duties in four ways instead of two. I've soaked up their hugs, laughter, and some-oh-so-wonderful conversations. Though I will enjoy the peace and quiet, and the sound of the electric bill that just dropped by quantum leaps--the silence also heralds the season to come. The season of empty nesting.  Don't get me wrong, I'm good with that. Most days. <insert face of uncertainty>

And as to this week at work? When my partner is gone on vacation, I realize what big shoes he has, and how small my feet are. But I also remember how blessed I am to work with such wonderful people.

I was glad to fill in on the worship team today. I knew I'd need the amped-up touch from God to launch my week. We had a good practice. When we were done, a man at church prayed for the worship team before we stopped for preservice Sunday School.

He stepped to our small circle, Bible in hand--and that's when those words landed on my heart.

Don't worry about tomorrow. 
For God is already there. 

My throat tightened. My eyes burned with moisture.
The knowledge that God is the Holy One among us, settled on me.
I am not alone.
My God goes before me and beside me.
He hems me in.
One day at a time.

Isaiah 12 (NIV)


2 Surely God is my salvation;
    I will trust and not be afraid.
The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water
    from the wells of salvation.
4 In that day you will say:

“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done,
    and proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things;
    let this be known to all the world.
6 Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion,
    for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.

As you go forth into this week, may you also have a sense of the Holy One of Israel, at work, among you, going before you.

Our God knows about your anxious thoughts. But don't worry about tomorrow, for He is already there.

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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: Twitter


Friday, June 7, 2013

Book Report: It Happened at the Fair by Deeanne Gist

You will never find a better way to visit the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, otherwise known as Chicago World's Fair, than to read Deeanne's book It Happened at the Fair. 

The World's Fair is so enchanting, you'll think this fiction read is a fairytale.
Overall: 
Interesting and intriguing. 
Classic Gist romance scenes. 
A favorite time period for me. 

Themes: honesty, truth, trust, proof, adventure, and risk.

Setting: From Harvell House and Machinery Hall, to the kitchen garden in the Children's Building, you will tour the fair right along with Dee's hero and heroine. You will be swept into the turn of the century, where ingenuity was every man's ticket to a bright future. But lest you think that the fair was only for inventive men such as our hero, don't worry. Romance abounds--from the rose gardens of Wooded Island to gondola rides and light shows.

Romance: Cullen McNamara, son of a poor southern cotton farmer, thought destiny had set him on the same path as his father, but the tragic loss of his mother, a terrible cotton allergy, and a mind for invention send him north to Chicago's World Fair. When the noise of Machinery Hall and Cullen's hearing problem threaten his success, he is forced to find a solution. What starts out as harmless lip-reading lessons from Della Wentworth, a beautiful teacher of deaf students, soon upends Cullen's view of the world--before he sees it coming. 

Will the lessons help Cullen find success that may save the family farm? Will Della trust him enough to believe him once she finds out the truth?


Comment for a chance to win a free copy of this delightful read from Dee (includes continental U.S.).

Do you like to go to the fair?
What is your favorite thing at the fair?
Did you know that Juicy Fruit and Cream of Wheat made their debut at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair?
Did you know that Dee is cool because she spells her name with --anne? :)

Deeanne Gist--known to her family, friends, and fans as Dee--has rocketed up the bestseller lists and captivated readers everywhere with her original historical and contemporary novels. A favorite among readers and reviewers alike, her popular titles include A Bride Most Begrudging, A Bride in the Bargain, and Maid to Match. Her latest book, It Happened at the Fair, is her ninth published novel.

A popular speaker, Gist's presentations have been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and in other publications. The Wall Street Journal's accompanying online video was the most watched video on the website for several days following their feature.

Gist has a background in education and journalism. Her credits include People, Parents, Parenting, Family Fun, Houston Chronicle, and Orlando Sentinel. Gist lives in Houston, Texas with her husband of thirty years. The couple has four grown children.

Gist's fans enthusiastically interact with her at her popular online communities: IWantHerBook.com, as well as Facebook(@ DeesFriends) and Twitter (@DeeanneGist).


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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
Find me on: Pinterest
Find me on: Goodreads
Find me on: Twitter

Thursday, June 6, 2013

It's a Doozy!


It's been a doozy of a week for both Anne and I.
So today, we lift our coffee cups high and yell, "UNITE all of you crazies!"

Join the insanity -- drink coffee!

What has made your week a doozy? Please share so we don't feel alone :)

AND THE WINNER OF LAST WEEK's BOOK DRAWING for Ronie Kendig's "Talon" is: MELANIE!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A day in the life of a writer

What DOES a writer do? A lot of you who hang out here at the CCC aren't writers, you're readers, and we LOVE that. I remember the days of being a reader. Sometimes I long to go back to opening a good book and not feeling like I should be opening my laptop instead and writing my own story.

So, what is the day in a life of writer. May I first state, what it is NOT?
 
  • It is NOT quiet mornings in my flannel jammies, a cup of hot coffee, on my porch overlooking the back forty, and my laptop
  • It is NOT afternoons, feet up, at the local coffee shop feverishly pounding out my word count
  • It is NOT moment after moment of literary brilliance
  • It is NOT writing with contract in hand, agent emailing me every four hours, and publishers beating down my door
  • It is NOT piles and piles of unwritten stories like a favorite TBR pile that just need me to hurry up this one so I can start the next
  • It is NOT evenings by the campfire, with my trusty lap top, blanket, and my muse *coffee
So, what IS a day in the life of a writer? Well in my life it's ...

  • Up at 3 AM with one of the children who seem to toggle back and forth between wet diapers, ear infections, bronchitis and having to "go potty"
  • Up at 6 AM to feed the 1 yr old Peter Pan who inherited the lungs of a roaring lion on steroids (forget rising to early to exercise, he'll know I'm up and just move up his wake time)
  • To my day job by 8:00 (on a good day) to direct HR and pretend I know what I'm doing (no time to grab coffee since our coffee shop doesn't have a drive thru...sigh)
  • Grabbing writing moments on my lunch break -- 1 hour max to pound out 1,000 words
  • Composing my next scene during that all important company meeting I'm supposed to be contributing to
  •  Back home by 4:30/5 pm to finish up work calls while I make dinner and corral two kids who just realized Mommy's home!
  • Play time interspersed with all the things stay at home moms get done during the day (sorry SAHM's, I know you have more than your share of burdens too but sometimes I'm envious of having 8 hours a day to get house stuff done!)
  • Bedtime begins at 6:30 pm so our OCD munchkin doesn't fly into a panic at being rushed and skipping routine
  • Kids in bed by 7:30.
  • QUICK! HOUSEWORK!! FAST! Dishes done, laundry ignored, vacuum--what's that?
  • 8 pm - writing time. 
  • 9 pm - get Peter Pan up to drink a bottle so he has a lesser percentage of getting up at 3 AM hungry (yes, he's a yr old and has the eating habits of a newborn)
  • 9:30 pm - back to writing
  • 10 pm - oh shoot! I better shower 'cause I won't be able in the morning
  • 10:15 - exercise? darn it. Tomorrow
  • 10:30/11 - collapse into bed.
A day in the life of a writer means eeeking out time to write in between the insanity. 40+ hours at work with all the housework I don't have the luxury of doing during the day means sacrifices must be met. TV, no. Reading time, sketchy. I've been known to type scenes in that 2 hr time from from supper to bedtime if the kids are content on their own (rare).

Writing is not something you do...it's something you LOVE. Reading while making dinner, writing for fifteen minutes between meetings at work, social networking on the phone walking down the hall to the bathroom ... you learn to make the most of EVERY minute. That's what passion is. That's a day in the life of this writer ...

What's your passion? How do you make time for it?

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Ice Harvest in the North Woods

On the brick wall of my parent's kitchen wall hangs my grandfather's ice hook.

When I see it, I'm catapulted back to childhood memories of visits to Northern Michigan, riding past a frozen Lake Kathleen on Woodland Road. It's that scene that spurred the idea for the back drop of my manuscript--where the waters were dammed for local ice harvest.

Before refrigeration in the 1920's, ice was harvested and stored for use well into the summer months. It was shipped by rail to nearby towns and cities. The harvest season was late January to February. The harvest industry was fiercely competitive. They had crews of men who scraped the snow off the ice surface.

(free public domain: Wikimedia Commons)

Horse drawn markers would grid out fields into "cakes" or sections of ice about 22x23inches. Using horse drawn cutters, the ice workers deepened the marked grooves. 

(free public domain: Wikimedia Commons)

The cakes were easily separated with hand saws and funneled to channels that led to the ice house for storage. 
(free public domain: Wikimedia Commons)

A horse, or steam powered leverage system transferred the ice cakes onto chutes that led to vast internal rooms where the cakes were carefully stacked.

(Free public domain: Wikimedia Commons)

Then late in spring, the ice blocks were slid down wooden ramps into waiting barges for trips to such places as New York City. 

The work was transient and required a temporary work force that often overwhelmed the smaller towns of the North, filling the local hotels and boarding houses. Men often came for miles about for work, including construction workers, trappers, farmers, shingle makers, painters, and tannery workers. Such men may have been unaccustomed to industrial work. Laborers often included women as well, and a mix of cultures such as Irish and Italian workers. Work stoppages were common with unpredictable thaws and sub-zero weather changes. Maintaining order for several hundred men was a problem, especially during strikes. 

The supply and demand of the market made for a rush to be the first, or the best supplier. The business was bitterly competitive. This competition drove secrecy about actual tonnages stored, and also sabotage against rival ice yards. 

So, next time you fill your glass with ice cubes, don't forget the intensive labor of ice harvest in the 19th century. 

What would it have been like to be a sheriff providing order in a small northern town overrun by harvest workers? 

Do you have a piece of  history, such as my grandfather's ice hook, handed down in your family that makes you curious about its origin or use?

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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
Find me on: Pinterest
Find me on: Goodreads
Find me on: Twitter