Friday, August 30, 2013

"Career-Minded-Closet-Romantic"


Are you one?

I am.

I was thrilled to read Rachel Kent's blog post last year at Books & Such about a new movie coming out, Austenland. It's based on a 30-something who is obsessed with Jane Austen's Mr. Darcy of Pride & Prejudice and sets out to find her own Mr. Darcy. I was pleasantly surprised that Rachel described Jane Austen fans as "career-minded-closet-romantics"!
Read her post at http://www.booksandsuch.biz/blog/coming-soon-to-theaters-austenland/

That description fits me and I believe many other women who love a good drama, great love story, or a cute chick flick. So why do you suppose this is true? Why do career-minded women feel the need to be hidden in a closet about their romantic inclinations and preferences?

Well, for one, feelings and imaginations are private (and there's something to be said about keeping some things appropriately private). 

And work is work, and dreams are dreams. 

And when we are at work, we are supposed to be applying our minds and skills right? I mean, no one wants me thinking about Mr. Darcy when I'm suturing up a laceration, right!?

But mainly, I think that career-driven women in today's society pride themselves in their more logical aspects and gifts. They like to believe they can solve problems, organize their work projects, and accomplish meaningful work without appearing sappy or starry-eyed. And in their work worlds, women have had to compete with men for these job spots--men who are logical, intelligent, and savvy. It seems perfectly acceptable for a businessman to droll out the mouth about his hobbies outside of work--golf, fishing, hunting, sports--and maybe the walls of his office are even splattered with pictures and portraits of those adventures. But are women less likely to show their softer side at work? I know I certainly don't have my favorite book covers or movie posters plastered all over my personal office space at work--although I have a space reserved for that on my home office wall!

Do we think that somehow we will be viewed differently? Weaker? Less intelligent? More vulnerable if we admit that we have a yen for romantic stories---let alone that we might actually write them? Gasp! Sigh. Several of my coworkers know I like to write, but why do I feel slightly embarrassed to explain that I write romance? At least the Historical Romance descriptor seems a bit more legitimate right? Oh how silly. Why does it matter?

Well, mainly, it matters to me.

I want my characters to be intelligent women who struggle with the same things that real Thinking-Closet-Romantics struggle with everyday. I believe that is why Jane Austen is so loved. Her ability to write wit showed that though Elizabeth Bennett of Pride & Prejudice is completely blind to her love for Mr. Darcy, it's not for lack of intelligence.

Intelligence and Romance are not incompatible. I don't separate them any more than I do Logic and Science from Faith. Don't you think that makes for a more interesting story, whether it's your personal story or a story of fiction?

I do.

What about you?
Tell us, do you compartmentalize your world, putting romance in the closet?
It seems unbalanced to view our world with only intellectual eyes, or only romantic eyes.
But if we apply them in a balanced manner--what would that make our faith look like?
What happens to faith if you put the romance with God in the closet? or only have an intellectual view of God and faith?

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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, August 29, 2013

What's Your Coffee Thursday?

Jaime here. What are you drinking this morning? Let's chat. Tell me about your day? What's on the agenda?

Me?
I'm drinking Caribou Medium Roast coffee with Amaretto (my standby) creamer.
I have odds and ends to finish up in the office today before I go on the road to check on the development of 5 trainees I've had working on the frontlines of our stores. (I'm Dir of HR & Development for a cellular company).
Tonight? We have company descending on our house for a cookout. It's the youth leaders for this year's youth group and my husband, the youth director will be running them through the year's plan.
The house isn't clean, but ehhh, who cares really, if there's good food?

Ok ... now spill...what about you? :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Miley - A Tidy Little Mess?

Outside of looking like this before I get my coffee in the morning, I don't relate much to dear little Miley. Poor thing. Makes you wonder what ever happened to daddy's little girl, doesn't it?

After the performance at the 2013 VMA's, I told my Admin. Assist. that if someone told me in 17 years my Kokomo Jo would be adult club grinding and twerking all over the stage, I think I'd go into all the stages of grief ... and then some.

I really wish I could take Miley out for coffee and hang. I'm sure we'd have nothing in common. I'd be the boring old big-sister-figure in a dress and she'd be the rebellious little sister in a...nothing.

But, I fell asleep praying for her last night. 'Cause once we get past the righteous indignation and the Sodom and Gomorrah comments, we must see her soul. A precious, heart-beating soul that God created. It's our responsibility to lift her in prayer and storm the gates of Heaven for her. Did she cry herself to sleep last night--was the ache and emptiness so consuming it ate her alive in the silence? Did she go to bed hardened, sucking off her distorted fame, conqueror and queen? Did she drink herself into a stupor?

I don't know Miley's heart. What's coming out isn't pretty -- but then, who am I to judge? I don't own that gavel. But God has seen inside of her, He knows her cries, or maybe her lack thereof.

So we pray ... if we are anything like Christ ... we pray. Silence our outraged criticism for a moment to breathe deep and reflect. On Rahab ... on Bathseba ... on all the countless horrific sinners who sought the heart of God ... and found it.

How do you balance outrage with seeking the lost?


______________________________________


Jaime Wright - 

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

Find me on Twitter
Find me on Facebook

Find me on Pinterest

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Reader's Poll: Traditional vs. Self-Published Novels

Jaime and I are doggedly working toward our goal of traditional publication.

with permission: www.freedigitalphotos.net
The big question for our readers is this: do you have a preference for traditionally published works vs. self-published works?

When I first dreamed of publication, I had my head in the clouds and literally thought it was still done like Anne Shirley of Anne of Green Gables did it. Write, mail it in, and wait for it to be published.
Duh. I know.

Many friends ask me if I've published yet. Many even commented recently on my Facebook page when I posted a picture of a friend's new release, that they thought it had been my own--uh, no. Sigh. People who know I've been writing for a while, including my loving, kind, supportive spouse, often ask--"so when are you going get published?" Yah, well it's not that simple. If I knew that--I'd start writing my acknowledgements--oh pinch me, did I say that?

I've been asked, "if it's going to take that long and that much work, why don't you just self-publish online?" Good question. So here's the answer. I don't just want to publish, I want to write something that is worth reading--something of great quality. Something that's stood the test of vetting. I didn't work this hard to write a great story, just to self-publish and sell it to 15 of my friends and family--okay, I'm hoping it would be more than that, but you get the idea. I have to ask myself how many self-published writers just get weary and cave. I don't mean that as criticism, and perhaps one day I'll eat crow, but right now I just can't see it.

So, when I see a novel that has been self-published, or e-published, I find myself less enthused about reading it. In fact, I can't say that I've read anything self-pubbed or e-pubbed. Have you?


with permission: freedigitalphotos.net

If you have read self-published works, what do you think? Or has the dawn of the e-reader blurred the lines so much that people don't even notice if the works they are reading are self-published or published by traditional publishing houses? 

I asked my daughter this question this summer: traditional vs. self-pubbed. Hands down, she voted traditional. That's my girl. Does that mean that most Gen-Xers still prefer traditional works?

Why? Because who has time to wade through thousands upon thousands of online self-pubbed works to find one that's worthy of a read? Because you know that a traditionally published work has already sifted it's way through the best of the best. Because while you might accidentally stumble upon one great e-pubbed author after many failed attempts, with traditional published works, you can have the cream of the crop for many authors without so much wasted energy. Is that lazy? If I'm missing out, give me reason to re-think my stance.

What about you? What is your ratio of reading, e-pubbed to traditional?  Example: for every FIVE traditionally published books, I've read ZERO e-pubbed or self-published works. Big surprise.

We'd love to hear from you and about your reasons for what you like to read. Not that it will change our direction, or heaven forbid, tempt us to weaken and self-publish. But don't worry, if you happen to be friend or family who asks innocently, "so when are you going to publish?", or "why not self-publish?"--I'll try to tame down my inner fire and answer with an educated, well-thought-out answer.

If you have read a great self-published work, please list it here today for everyone!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

Monday, August 26, 2013

God Makes Me Angry

Psalm 69:3
I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.

I admitted to God last night that I was ticked at Him. I don't do this very often. I'm not a personality type prone to anger. I mean, God is ... God. Being angry at Him would just be stupid. Ok. Hello. My name is "Stupid".

Lately, I've felt like the proverbial ship tossed to and fro in the waves. I'm not a public whiner so I won't list the volumes of draining life issues I feel overwhelmed by. Everything from work to family health issues that are rather severe to crazy people to mom-failures to demands I just feel as if I can no longer meet. I load up my Facebook for a reprise from my own flood of "crap, why me?" and am brought to tears by the amount of terminal illness and death that is riddling people close to me. "Crap, why them?"

I'm not an eloquent complainer or ranter. It usually involves a lot of "craps" and "sheeshes" but they're there. Put on my happy face -- I'm an expert at that -- and re-enter the world of insanity complete with the burden that rests heavy on my heart that only a few people know besides myself.

I wasn't created to carry burdens. I wasn't made to do this. My strength is gone and the ONE PERSON WHO CAN FIX IT ... won't.

I'm ticked at God. Blah blah blah. I married a theologian so I've heard EVERY possible explanation for why evil exists in light of a good God. I understand sin. I understand eternal redemption and hope. I know that Heaven will be perfect and Earth is a shadow and I'm not supposed to love life here anyway. Well, yes, super duper. That makes me feel WAY better. 'Cause everyone I know who ever went to Heaven didn't send me a postcard, so it's not like I'm longing to be there. Let's be honest.

So why do I sound bitter? Because the funny thing is ... I'm not. Not really. I'm only saying out loud what I ranted last night. My eyes growing dim with hope. Because sometimes, we feel that way. You see, King David had it right when he wrote the Psalms. He was honest. Sometimes being honest is like ... venting respectably. How many relationships have you forged through the fires of sheer happiness and joy and hallelujahs and absolutely no conflict? Yeah. Me Neither.

When I was done crying into my pillowcase and growling at the Lord while watching my tongue and being poignantly reminded that He is--well--GOD--it was almost as if I heard him say, "shhhhhhhhhhhhh".

I was reminded of my daughter, sobbing, breath hitching, as she waved her hands and tried to wail out the reason why she was mad at my husband. She deserved discipline. Her reaction was akin to a tantrum. I waited. For the inevitable "GET TO YOUR ROOM NOW!" Instead, Nate heard something behind the desperation of her wail. A feeling of being misunderstood, injustice, frustration, the why me we all feel when the world comes crashing down. Instead of raised voice, Nate took her by her arms and tucked her hair behind her 3 year old ear. "Baby Girl," he crooned, "why are you acting like this?"
She stopped wailing. Gulped. Daddy was listening. Her blue eyes grew enormous as tears the size of the Persian Gulf dripped down her cheeks. "I'm just. so. tiiiiiiiiiiiired, Daddy!"

And his arms were there ... his "shhhhhhhh's" ... and she rested on his shoulder with none of her little world's problems solved, all of which Daddy could fix. She just ... rested ... because Daddy was there. Offering no other explanation but "shhhh".

I slept like a rock last night. I awoke to the same world of exacerbated issues and soul heaviness. But I'm not ticked any more. There was rest in the storm. 

Matthew 11:28

English Standard Version (ESV)
28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

He doesn't promise resolution. He doesn't offer explanation. He just says "shhhhhh". 

Today? I'm good with that. Sometimes we just need a Father. And I've always been a Daddy's girl.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Orphan Train Bride Virtual Book Tour

WINNER OF LAST WEEK'S DOUBLE BOOK GIVEAWAY IS...wait for it ...RDVORAK! Congrats :)

We've been asked to participate with the blog tour for:




Orphan Train Bride By Teresa Ives Lilly


Orphan Train Bride has been number one on Christian Western Romance for several weeks at Amazon.com

Book Description: When Kelli heads west on the orphan train as a helper, she expects to return to the orphanage and live her life there as an old maid, but once she sees the town of Emporia, she desires to stay. After overhearing a cowboy telling the general store owner that he is looking for a mail order bride, Kelli rushes forward to offer her- self. Will Carter accept her as his wife? Will he adopt the small boy who is left over on the train? and what is the underlying reason that Carter wants a wife? Is it for love? and when a natural catastrophe takes place, will Kelli and Carter's rocky relationship be able to endure?




About the Author: Teresa Ives Lilly is the author of a variety of Christian Romance Novellas and Novels. She also writes Children's Chapter books and has created over 300 unit studies that are used by both homeschoolers and the public and private schools. She lives in Texas. 




Pages: 202
Genre: Christian Romance Western
Publisher: Lovely Christian Romance
Author Website: www.lovelychristianromance.com
Author blog: lovelychristianromance.wordpress.com 
Purchase at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords.com and lovelychristianromance.com 

Follow the Virtual Book Tour: Orphan Train Bride Book Tour 

Win a chance for a free copy from the blog tour.

Discussion questions:
Have you ever ridden the train?
Have you ever been to Emporia, Kansas? Or anywhere in Kansas?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thursday Blog Mix & Mingle - Get to know the writers and readers!

Name: Jaime Wright
Location: Wisconsin

What you write/tagline: Historical Romance Stained with Suspense
Place in the book world: Not published. Hunting for agents (non-violently of course). Four manuscripts completed, two worth talking about.

On a scale of hugger to 10-foot-pole, please rate your personal space: Maybe a 2 foot pole? Move in cautiously, see if my head draws back and tips up and to the left. If not, proceed. If yes, back away slowly and wait a few minutes. Try again. If happens a second time. Just pass on the huggy stuff.

The unique talking point that will get you going for hours: Coffee, of course. My kids - everyone yawn now. Books and writing - no duh.

People at home you'll be missing: My Tinkerbell and Peter Pan. Oh yeah, and Captain Hook (That'd be their daddy)

Conference goals we can pray for? For God's ultimate will to be worked out in my writing. Cliche? So be it. That's the big one. Other than that? That I'm spared cracking a stupid joke to Steve Laube like last time or eating Chip MacGregor's dessert accidentally like last time, or killing too many people in my book ... like last time.

 Up for any contests/awards? Close, but no deal. So I get to relax on that end.

Any disclosures, disclaimers, or crucial information we must know? A good cup of coffee goes a long way with me. Try not to be too serious or I may keel over from boredom. If you don't get my sarcasm, move on, it's not going away so ... yeah.



Want to join in? You're welcome! Writers and readers alike! Click here to join up

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Preparing for a Writer's Conference

One thing I loved finding out last week was how many of you who visit us here are READERS!! This is so cool, because let's face it, YOU are the ones who are our critics, our friends, and our comrades in the pain and agony of pursuing publishing.

So here's what's up (and why my blog post is getting online late this morning)...

ANNE AND I ARE GOING TO CONFERENCE! 

What does that mean? I don't know either. Outside of sweaty palms, nervous giggling, wondering if we're chasing pipe dreams ... we're just a mess. An absolute mess. The conference we're going to is for published and aspiring writers. It's a great opportunity to network, meet up with old friends, and -- gulp -- pitch our work to agents and editors.

So if you're a reader, here's what goes into prepping for a conference:


  1. One sheets -- these are basically the back cover of a book that you pick and read in the bookstore to determine if it peaks your interest. So as a writer, we have to write the text and make it gripping enough for said agent/editor to go "oh yeah, send it to me".
  2. Elevator Pitch - this is what we say when someone asks "what's your book about?" It needs to be under 30 seconds to avoid the glazed eyes and the darted glances toward the nearest escape route. It's ridiculously hard to compose. Imagine squishing a 97,000 word novel into 3 sentences? Yeah. That's why we're stressing.
  3. Synopsis -- only slightly better than the elevator pitch. It's anywhere from 1-4 pages long and it summarize the entire book. Well, I'll ya, if I WANTED to write a four page book I would have ... so I hate synopsis like Pharaoh hates the plagues.
  4. Proposal - on the OFF chance an agent/editor wants to see what you've got, it's good to have a proposal handy. This includes the synopsis, an author bio, a marketing analysis, comparative books in your genre, and the first three chapters of your novel.
Panicking yet? Yep. So are we! Writing the book is the easy part :)

SO September 12th our journey begins... and we want to take you with us!!!! I'll post periodic blog updates throughout the weekend. Short blurbs and maybe some pics if I have time. So tell us now, what do YOU the reader want to know on our behind-the-scenes tour at a writer's conference? Speak now ... or forever ... well, who am I fooling, there won't be peace until after conference is over ... unless we land that multi-million book deal ;) ;)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Pet Peeves & Grocery Shopping - Jaime Wright

It's my week to be an idiot! I have this thing with grocery stores ... it start with my bubble I like to call personal space. I'm not sure what happens to people when they enter a grocery store or a Super Wally-World, but suddenly, personal spaces no longer exist. We have aisles in both shopping places as wide as the Nile yet, I am constantly getting bumped by other people's carts, clobbered by a tantrum throwing toddler, run over by an elderly lady on a runaway scooter (ok, I'll give grace on that one), and blocked by non-English speaking, hard working, and most likely legal immigrants who, unfortunately, believe parking two to three carts wide is legal. I should be a grocery store cop, is what I should be. I could hand out about 15 tickets each time I visit for various offenses and make the stores some extra cash in this hard up economy.

The worst offense? Bumper Butts. I'm serious!! Apparently, if you're in line to check out and you push your cart until it hits the person's butt in front of you while their signing their credit card slip or paying, it makes the process go faster. This happens to me all the time. I must have a piece of paper taped back there that says, "hit me". I'm going to attach rubber pads on my behind to avoid bruising next time I go. The last lady who jabbed me with her cart was on the receiving end of a death glare that could rival any stare from Darth Vader. (Can Darth Vader stare through black plastic?)

Why am I an idiot? Because yesterday, I was walking in my bubble when a hand reached out and brushed my arm. Just brushed mind you - it wasn't bruising. But I turned and shot lasers out of my eyes. ARE YOU SERIOUS?! CAN I NOT BE LEFT ALONE?? Erps. It was one of my youth kids from church. Gulp. She stepped back. "Uh, hi!" she says. "Uh, hi!" says I. Thankfully she's astute and goes, "bad day or somethin'?" Now it is. I explained my pet peeve and she laughed. Thankfully. This is why I love youth kids. They are forgiving. Had she been over the age of 25 there probably would have been a petition passed around to have me step down as a youth leader for having a bad witness of Christian charity.

Sigh. How does one balance pet peeves, personal space, grocery shopping and a Christian witness? If you know. Please tell me. On the flip side, how does one incorporate little idiosyncricies (I know I didn't spell that right, but seriously - do we really care?) into their characters? Writing fiction is far safer I believe. Perhaps I should become a fiction character, then I can wallow in my pet peeves and save grace for another day. Now that would just be wrong. Sigh again. Grace is difficult when one has a personal space. My friend made me a shirt for when I was pregnant with my daughter - "touch this mound, receive a pound". Does that explain my personal space issues? I think I AM a character. Maybe I'll write a book about me - change the name of course...

What are your pet peeves? :) Do tell!
______________________________________


Jaime Wright - 

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

Find me on Twitter
Find me on Facebook

Find me on Pinterest

Monday, August 19, 2013

Be Still And Know

We have the best laid plans.
I'm a list maker, and a goal setter.
But sometimes the storm comes. The creek rises.
And sometimes plan B goes out the window with plan A.
It's then that I'm reminded: my I-can-do mindset can distract me from a He-can-do experience.
Usually my idea of I-can-do involves the road to least suffering or difficulty.
Most often God's story for me, in His amazing love for me, is for my good and my freedom.
But He never promised it would be easy or painless.
And He never asked me to write my own story, or orchestrate the story of my children's lives.

So, when the unexpected huge bump in the road, hitch in the plans hit this week, we hit our knees and wait for His next chapter to unfold. I'm reminded of one of my favorite Psalms.

Psalm 46


1 God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
3 though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.[c]
4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy place where the Most High dwells.
5 God is within her, she will not fall;
    God will help her at break of day.
6 Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
    he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
7 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.
8 Come and see what the Lord has done,
    the desolations he has brought on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease
    to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the shields[d] with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.”
11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress.


So, if your plans went awry this week, or the creek is rising, and the road is bumpy--join me as we wait together for God's story to unfold. Let's be still, for He is God.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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





Friday, August 16, 2013

Double Book Giveaway and a Weekend Wave! - Jaime Wright

I have a confession to make ... I didn't read one book this week!! Anne and I are gearing up for the ACFW    Conference in Indianapolis that takes place 4 WEEKS. What does this mean? It means in 4 weeks Anne and I will have no fingernails left after chewing them off, we'll be knees shaking approaching agents and editors to pitch our writing, and praying desperately that we can get representation in the publishing industry.

A Baby Between Them
So, you may find over the next few weeks our blog posts are a tad scattered. LOL But we both appreciate your prayers and comments as we write our proposals, synopsis (a 3-4 page summary of a 350+ page document!), and design our business cards :)

Because of all this and the fact I'm standing up as a bridesmaid in my cousin's wedding this weekend (I'm the oldest bridesmaid known to humankind), I just didn't even crack a book. But that doesn't mean no fun here at the CCC Blog! I keep a reserve for just these circumstances! (Although I rather hope I'm not a bridesmaid again ... I'm getting to old and boring).

FIRST OFF: WINNER of Elizabeth Ludwig's "DARK ROAD HOME" is ..... drumroll please -- BONTON! :) So excited to get this book into your hands, especially after having you tell us a bit about yourself this week on our "Who Are You" blog contest.

AND THAT LEADS US TO: the winner of our "Who Are You" coffee sample pack is--PATTY! It was so great to get to know some of our blog readers and if you haven't commented here before, please do so. Interacting with you in the comments is one of our favorite things to do!

LAST BUT NOT LEAST this week, I'm giving away two really enjoyable, heartwarming books that are AUTOGRAPHED copies! An Inconvenient Match, by Janet Dean and A Baby Between Them, by Winnie Griggs. Both enjoyable reads and PERFECT for coming into some of these cooler early Autumn evenings--which, by the way, is the BEST reading weather.

Enter to win by leaving a comment and telling me what horrible awful events keep you from reading lately, and let's see if we can't change that and get you a two-book giveaway to get you out of your reading slump! :)



______________________________________


Jaime Wright - 

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

Find me on Twitter
Find me on Facebook

Find me on Pinterest

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday's Coffee: First Day of School

I'm up and at it. Back to my usual school morning routine. Today is my son's first day of school, and it's his senior year!

He requested french toast for breakfast. I've made a batch and several cups of coffee. My husband started school last week and my daughter heads off to college next week. The starting of things and the parting of ways is a little bumpy, but overall, I like getting back to a routine after the lazy days of summer.

What routines do you enjoy getting back to?

Notice: You may start to see that our blog posts are a little shorter over the next weeks until Jaime and I "go dark" for a week before ACFW's annual national conference. We are busy prepping our manuscripts for presentation to agents and editors.

Sharing: A fun link for coffee today is at Christian Fiction Historical Society: Coffee Houses History

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Who Are you?

It's Wednesday.... hump day as so many call it.  Halfway through the week with only two days to go if we don't count today. 

Today we want to hear from you!  Who are you?  Where are you from?  Are you a writer or a reader?  What's your hobbies? 

Anne and I want to know our blog readers!  Some come out of lurking mode and leave a comment.  For one special one of you,  I'll shoot some coffee off in the mail when I draw a name on Friday.

So enough of us. ... What about YOU?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

I Blame Stephen King

It's all Stephen King's fault. And maybe then, it's not. Who knows. Maybe it's the screen writer's fault. But Stephen King started it when he wrote Under the Dome. Now it's a television show that makes me cry.

Stephen King is NOT Nicholas Sparks. I don't cry in Nicholas Sparks movies. I cry in Stephen King flicks. Weird, huh?

WELL COME ON! Who allows a show to graphically portray a mother bidding her teenage daughter farewell on her death bed? It's heart wrenching. Gut breaking. Or is it the other way around? Either or, my husband thought I was nuts as I cried during this semi-supernatural thriller. The mother held her daughter's hand, whispered "I love you" that final time, then slipped away as her daughter laid over her mother's form.

But really, this is a sore spot for me. Or maybe an ache-spot. Ever since I had my baby girl three years ago and was given all of 2 minutes to touch her fingers before they carted her off in an ambulance to the NICU in a hospital 60 minutes away, I've been highly sensitive to the idea of bidding my daughter a final farewell.

Let's face it ... death stings. When Paul cries in I Corinthians, "oh, death, where is your sting?" I'm yelling back, "it's here! it's here!'. Ok, so I know Paul's point was the eternal sting of death was over as we face the glorious hope of Heaven with Jesus, but still...even Jesus identified with us in our grief as He wept over Lazarus' dead body.

I remember them as they wheeled the cart around the corner and my Kokomo Jo was gone. I didn't know if she would live another day. The doctor sat on my beside and held my hand. She was born at Christmas, so my doctor whispered, "ponder these moments in your heart, as Mary did".

His point? Trust that the Lord has a plan we cannot fathom or understand. I cannot fathom seeing my daughter's vivid blue eyes, earnest and needing for her mommy, fade as I pass into Jesus' arms. She needs me. She needs her mommy. God. How could I ever bid her farewell?

Yet one thing is certain ... and I learned it that night when she slipped from my grasp... my daughter is not my own. She never was. She is a gift. Our time together is a gift. The responsibility of being her mommy is a wonderful, precious gift. I will not have too short of time, nor will I have too long of time. I will have the perfect time. And we will both be entrusted into the care of our Father. Never separated in heart or spirit ... but perhaps one day just by the distance of time.

So I don't live in fear, or dread, but I do find myself relishing the preciousness that is holding her tonight and giggling over pretend spiders that lift couches off of floors, or having a hot chocolate party in her bedroom, or eating chips in bed with the lights out.

Relish your time. It is a gift. Shoo away the crabby and cranky ... Stephen King may show the finality of death, but he also captured the beauty of relationships forged in love and devotion...and that, never goes away and continues into eternity.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Shooting Stars--God's Great Glory

Tonight is supposed to be the start of the Perseid meteor shower which occurs each August when the Earth passes through the debris left by the comet Swift-Tuttle. These stray bits of comet dust hit our atmosphere and burn up, creating light streaks across the sky. I went outside last night to watch, but we had too many clouds to see any. Instead, I enjoyed the chorus of crickets, cicadas, and a small show of lightening bugs--but no shooting "stars". I hope to see some tonight.

The night sounds made me thankful for God's creation--the clouds by day, the stars by night. 


Psalm 19: 1-6


 How clearly the sky reveals God's glory!
    How plainly it shows what he has done!
2 Each day announces it to the following day;
    each night repeats it to the next.
3 No speech or words are used,
    no sound is heard;
4 yet their message goes out to all the world
    and is heard to the ends of the earth.
God made a home in the sky for the sun;
5     it comes out in the morning like a happy bridegroom,
    like an athlete eager to run a race.
6 It starts at one end of the sky
    and goes across to the other.
    Nothing can hide from its heat



(by permission: www.freedigitalphotos.net)

I love that "no speech or words are used" yet just to look upon the skies speaks volumes to me about God's creative power.

Enjoy your summer nights.
Look for a shooting star!






Friday, August 9, 2013

Book Report: Dark Road Home, by Elizabeth Ludwig

It was such a thrill to have Elizabeth guest on our blog this last Tuesday. And now I get to review her book AND give it away! (Which, btw, the winner of last week's drawing In Plain View, by Olivia Newport, is Amy C.) 

So first of all, I just want to thank Anne for hooking me up with Elizabeth's books. Anne did a great review of Elizabeth's first book, No Safe Harbor this last October, and I've loved Elizabeth ever since!

Dark Road Home takes us to New York, where the immigrant community is alive and ... deadly. I totally loved the suspenseful, dark pallor over this beautiful historical romance. It was the perfect blend of suspense, history, and love. I could smell the dank walls and cold floors of the Ellis Island institution where immigrants were secluded diseased and insane. I could feel the reverence of Our Lady of Deliverance Catholic Church where women and children are sheltered and fed.

The heroine Ana and hero Eoghan are so thoroughly Irish it's beautiful. The ties to the old Irish organization of the Fenians lends itself to that gritty Irish conflict in Irish government and mafia-like ties. Ana's secretive past keeps the reader on their toes wondering what it is she's running from ... or rather ... who.

I had one teary mom-moment in the book. No spoilers but sheesh!! Elizabeth had me choked up picturing my little girl and fire and needing help and ... ok... I can't say any more but THANKS A LOT, Elizabeth. I never cry in books, but I did in that scene.

Romance? Oh, you romance lovers just want to get to that and skip the suspense? Ok fine. No worries there. It's as thick as the suspense and just as yummy. Yummy in that pure, tingling Inspiration fiction sort of way. It kept me smiling and looking for more. Eoghan is the hero we all love to love and Ana the heroine that we all want to relate to. Every kiss is palpable. Elizabeth is a master at romance!

OK! So you want a chance to read this?? Enter to win by leaving a comment here (and if you left one on Tuesday this will be your double entry!). Let us know if what your heritage is? Did your forefathers come through Ellis Island?

Winners will be announced next Friday!


______________________________________


Jaime Wright - 

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

Find me on Twitter
Find me on Facebook

Find me on Pinterest

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thursday's Coffee: Sacred Eavesdropping

Have you ever glimpsed a scene not meant for you, or heard whispered words meant for another--yet somehow, the universe stood up and reminded you--that it was just for you?

This happened twice for me. With the start of the school year upon us, I'm reminded of both scenes.

As the school year rolls ever closer, schedules are crammed. Check books are drained. School supplies are shopped for, and wardrobes updated. After school activities are just around the corner. Practices, games, social events. School pictures. Dentist and doctor appointments.

Moms all know this. We orchestrate most of it. But we also feel that pang squeeze our hearts when the air turns cool, and the days shorten. It's that deep knowing that this season is passing and the next one is upon us. The clothes and toys at the bottom of the closet that need to be cleaned out, will be outgrown and outdated this time next year. And so, when we send our children out the door, we know that somehow when they get home--they'll be bigger, older, smarter, stronger, more experienced--than the day before. And somehow, it all slips onward so quickly.

It was in an attempt to document that first parting of the ways, that my first moment happened. I had picked the perfect dress, the perfect backpack, and the perfect moment to take scrapbook photos on my daughter's first day of kindergarten. I moved her in just the right spot to get a great background shot and snapped the shutter--when the whispered words of the most lovely prayer fell upon my ears. The mother in front of me, arm around her daughter--no camera in hand, no perfect dress--had leaned into her daughter's ear to whisper a prayer.

My excitement fell flat. I'd chosen poorly. I had my eyes on the wrong thing--and that moment was meant just for me. Since that day, I've practiced sending my children out the door with a prayer. To this day, at age seventeen and nineteen--they still come for their prayers.

The second sacred moment was on the way to work after I'd dropped my toddlers off at the sitter. I'd turned down a country road and flipped on the radio. Distracted by the work that faced me that day, my thoughts wandered--but my eyes caught a motion on the left side of the road in a driveway of an Amish family. The older couple was parting ways, her black bonnet in hand, his white beard shining in the morning sun. She stood at the buggy, he was ready to turn back toward the house, when at the last second he reached for her hand and dropped a kiss on her cheek--a rare display of affection.

My heart melted. The importance of parting ways with your loved ones in the right manner is so understated--and no one is ever too old to need it.

These two sacred moments changed my life. I've made it a habit to rise early, cook breakfast for my family, make coffee, say their prayers, and send them off with affection.

What sacred eavesdropping has touched you?
Do you make the effort to part ways in the right way?

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Family Roots & Fiction

Yesterday Elizabeth Ludwig talked to us about researching her latest release about Ellis Island. Real events in history often trigger the writer's mind through the research process.

After researching our family history for over thirty years, writing fiction based on history, seems only natural. Like Jaime's post on Monday about Leaving a Legacy, I take one look at a relic of history and my curiosity goes wild. I love that pearl handled ink writing pen!

Relics and momentos hold memories and meaning. But without the stories to go with them, it's like finding a book with missing chapters.

How do some stories get passed on while others are lost in the pages of history? How can it be true that it only takes one generation to lose a legacy?

I've become addicted to the T.V. show Who Do You Think You Are? On the show, a celebrity follows his or her family history back as far as they can, with the help of professional researchers. They document their research journey and tell stories about how the information helped fill in the blanks. Click on the link for more information: Who Do You Think You Are?

I've followed this series from season one on NBC, until this season on TLC. I'm always amazed at how many people don't know their own grandparent's names and it saddens me. I can name my eight great grandparents by first and last name. The Bible recites more than ten generations of "begets" at a time. Genealogies were memorized, recited aloud, and retold--so the story wouldn't be lost.

Several summers ago after a family reunion on my husband's side, I convinced him to go sleuthing for  an old country graveyard looking for a lost x10 great grandfather of his. We found the graveyard and were pleasantly surprised to learn that this grandfather was one of only two Revolutionary War Soldiers buried in Howard County, Indiana. He had fought at Valley Forge. Born in Maryland, a Scots-Irish settler in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, he'd lived to nearly 100 years old at his death in Indiana. How did that story never get passed down by word of mouth?

(my husband's Irish ND hat is on top because John Gullion was an Irishman)

Remember, you are the living link in your story. 
Will you pass on a legacy of stories?
Start by interviewing all your oldest living relatives and writing down their stories. 
Sometimes the truth in your history might turn out to be stranger than fiction.
But it may also hold the blessing of light and understanding.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Writing and Research - Guest Post from Elizabeth Ludwig

So excited to have our guest, Elizabeth Ludwig posting on Coffee Cups and Camisoles today! Check out the bottom of our blog post for ways to win a copy of her latest novel!

I never realized when I started out writing historical romance that I would need to develop an archeologist’s skill when combing the internet. On top of crafting a good story, writing anything with historical significance requires a general knowledge and level of accuracy that readers of the genre have grown to expect.

My latest novel, Dark Road Home, for example, definitely required more research than anything I’ve published so far. Set in and around New York City with key scenes taking place on Ellis Island, I knew early on that I would need to conduct careful study on the more than twelve million immigrants who entered the United States through Ellis Island from 1892 to 1954. It wasn’t enough to know how they came, however. I wanted to figure out why, so beginning at the Ellis Island Foundation’s website, I began looking for letters, pictures, anything I could find that would give insight into the motivation behind so many peoples’ journey. This in turn led me to other sites, like Ancestory.com and the National Park Service website, which were full of information regarding not only the history of the island, but of the people who passed through on their way to a new life in America.

Along with filling the story with facts about our nation’s history, Dark Road Home is about an Irish girl running from her past and a man with dangerous political affiliations, so on top of all of the historical facts I could dig up about New York in 1897, I had to research Ireland and everything that was occurring during the same time period there. That meant learning what I could about the conflict in Ireland—its origins and history. Once again, I tackled the internet, beginning with a simple Google search on “why Ireland is divided”. This led me to a number of sites, including ibiblio.org and encyclopedia.com. Remember those research papers your English teacher made you do in high school and college? Researching my book was a lot like that!
While it would have been easy to pack all kinds of historical facts into my novel, I had to keep in mind that this was a work of fiction, and that it needed a strong romantic thread. That meant finding a careful balance between what was true, and what was meant to entertain. Too much of one, and the reader would get board. Too little of another, and the work became less of a historical. In the end, I discovered that sorting out tidbits of information and dropping them into a fictional tale is a lot like digging treasures from the earth—it requires patience and a good deal of dedication. Hopefully, the end result is something the reader not only enjoys, but learns from as well.


BOOK BLURB: Lured by a handful of scribbled words across a faded letter, Cara Hamilton sets off from 1896 Ireland on a quest to find the brother she'd thought dead. Her search lands her in America, amidst a houseful of strangers and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh.

Despite her brother's warning, Cara decides to trust Rourke and reveals the truth about her purpose in America. But he is not who he claims to be, and as rumors begin to circulate about an underground group of dangerous revolutionaries, Cara's desperation grows. Her questions lead her ever closer to her brother, but they also bring her closer to destruction as Rourke's true intentions come to light.
Also, be sure to check out Book Two in the Edge of Freedom Series, Dark Road Home:
Ana Kavanagh's only memories of home are of fire and pain. As a girl she was the only survivor of a terrible blaze, and years later she still struggles with her anger at God for letting it happen.

At a nearby parish she meets and finds a kindred spirit in Eoghan Hamilton, who is struggling with his own anger--his sister, Cara, betrayed him by falling in love with one of his enemies. Cast aside by everyone, Eoghan longs to rejoin the Fenians, a shadowy organization pushing for change back in Ireland. But gaining their trust requires doing some favors--all of which seem to lead back to Ana. Who is she and who is searching for her? As dark secrets from Ana's past begin to come to light, Eoghan must choose which road to follow--and where to finally place his trust.

___________________________________________________________


BIO: Elizabeth Ludwig is the award-winning author of No Safe Harbor and Dark Road Home, Books  series. Her work has also been featured on Novel Rocket, the Christian Authors Network, and The Christian Pulse. Elizabeth’s debut novel, Where the Truth Lies (coauthored with Janelle Mowery), earned her the IWA Writer of the Year Award. Her first historical novel, Love Finds You in Calico, California, was given four stars from Romantic Times. And her popular literary blog, The Borrowed Book, enjoys a wide readership. Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and two grown children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more, visit ElizabethLudwig.com.



Leave a comment to enter to win a copy of Elizabeth's latest book, "Dark Road Home"! Check back for our book report on Friday and get a chance for a second entry!