Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Do You Give Up When #ChurchHurts?


Someone asked me if the Church has ever hurt me? I wanted to respond that, perhaps, a better way to phrase that question is: when has the Church NOT hurt me? 

I am the product of the Church. Born into its fold, reared by its attendees, married by its pastor, daughter of a pastor, wife of a youth pastor. It is time we stop pretending. Church hurts. Period.

Weekly, I attend church, well, with the exception of being sick two weeks ago and Anne visiting this past Sunday. My absence the last two weeks wasn't met with the aching gap of not attending. In fact, it was met with relief. Finally. A Sunday where I don't have to give.

Selfish? Perhaps. Real? I'm nothing if I'm not honest.

I have witnessed the many dark places in church, and I don't mean the janitor's closet. The lifelong members leaving because a new pastor threatens traditions. The bitter phone calls and name calling, the back biting, the gossip, and the jealousy. I've experienced family vacations interrupted because, well, who else is there to do it, if not us? The activities where the same steadfast souls bear the weight of the entire ministry, while others feed and leave full. I've born the weight of legalistic expectations, down to my barefoot performance during a youth concert in the hot throes of summer, to the "satanic" music of Michael W. Smith. I have seen my brothers let their sisters down. I have seen my sisters sin. I have sinned. I have been guilty of the above and more that shall remain unwritten below.

Church can steal the very breath from your body. Leave you without energy, in a desert, parched and thirsty. The joy unspeakable, love unstoppable theme can be a very, VERY distant reality. Confession: I have even stood on a Sunday morning, in worship, with my mouth closed, Facebooking, because ... church hurts, and I don't want to be there.

I have come to understand why a believer might choose to remain home on Sunday morning. Or to avoid church and its people. I understand why those on the outside look inside and brand us with "hypocrite", or "self-righteous prudes".

And yet, in the midst of humanity, comes the shimmering sparkle of Jesus. It twinkles in the eye of the five-year-old boy who extends his hand to my daughter and leads her into class so she is not alone. It shines in the shaking hand of the gentleman who prepares the vats of morning coffee without fanfare (though well he should receive it). It glows in the fervency of the worship pastor's song, even if I don't like the song, it still there. That supernatural realism that Jesus is... well, that Jesus is...

That Jesus.


I believe that sometimes those outside the Church look in and wait for us to achieve success as redeemed Believers before they venture inside and wipe "Hypocrite" off our front sign.

I believe those inside the Church make the dreadful error that we should portray ourselves so much like Christ that we lose the message of our own humanity. Of the fact of our sinful error and of Jesus' grace. We try to be plastic Jesus's instead of the bandaged, the saved, the real.

I believe we let each other down. We strike out. We hurt each other. We assume all is well, when all is not. We ignore each other's pain. We're oblivious to the agony someone hides in the depths of their soul. We assume the most effervescent is happy and the most martyred is alone. When, sometimes, those who sing and shine and explode into ministry, ache deep in the depths of a soul that has dried into a withered patch of cracked ground.

We place ourselves in the position of Author and expect a fellow Church-ee to fulfill the role of Perfector. When in reality, Jesus, is the Author and the Perfector of our faith (Heb. 12.2) and we? We are broken vessels, patched, sealed, and being used while Jesus makes up the difference.

And in the lonely, busyness of Church, God is alive. He sends refreshment through the Church by sending a sister (Anne) to visit her parched and thirsty youth pastor's wife (me). To come alongside and lift me up and whisper, "all things work together for good to those who love Him". He provides healing in the form a Converse-clad youth who rises on her spring break to help lift the weary spirits of a tired mom and full time career woman and take the children so this hurting one can be refreshed. He vanquishes the dark places with Facebook messages of "you were missed" and pictures of coffee mugs and memes.

I am the product of the Church. Born into its fold, reared by its attendees, married by its pastor, daughter of a pastor, wife of a youth pastor. It is time we stop pretending. Church also heals. Period.

And separating ourselves from the family of Christ is ostracizing ourselves into a room in our house where we can minister only to ourselves and be ministered to only by ourselves. Where the lonely existence becomes all we know until our vision of the Church is bitter, or unnecessary, or simply not a priority.

Family Hurts. Of course it does. Because it is with family you are the safest, and the most real, but also the most vunerable. It is with family that your weaknesses are exposed and your strengths monopolized on. It is with family you are loved fiercely and hurt horribly. Where expectations are placed without reciprocation. Because family is a broken picture of God's future perfection. And yet, underneath all the pain, the betrayal, and the sin, we are tied by blood. We will always be family.

I believe it is time we stop expecting the Church to be the Disneyworld of Christianity. Even Mickey Mouse has a bad day and Cinderella loses her shoe on more than one occasion. The Church is filled with heroes and heroines, with the broken redeemed, and the suffering being healed. We should hold each other, both in understanding and accountability. And, while God's precepts never should be negated, His love should also never be forgotten.

Church isn't a place where we attend just to be filled. It is a place you should attend to give, as you would give to that one family member you're thinking of now who has been THAT PERSON to you. Loved you. Held you. Supported you. Refreshed you. Stop blaming the Church for hurting you. That's crazy. Of course, they hurt you! Name a family member in your life who has never hurt you. Lucky you, if you can. Church is place where you protect, defend, remain fiercely loyal, even when it hurts.]

Because this is what family does.

They love hard.

So, cling to the family God has blessed you with. Peer far past their faults into the glitter of Life in their hearts. The life that comes from Jesus. The Author and Perfector of faith. The One who works all together for good to those who love Him.

Does Church hurt? Of course it does. But we are family. And family Never. Gives. Up. 

Enter to win a copy of Varina Denman's debut novel "Jaded", where Church Hurt is riddled throughout the pages, but also a redemptive story of God's grace and the family we so desperately need! And visit here for a continuing discussion on #StopJading within our family. (And, every great giveaway includes some Starbucks and mug, right?

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__________________________________


Jaime Wright -

Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional

Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :) - Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Monday's Devo: Relax!

When you plan a weekend with a friend months in advance and work so hard to carve out the best time....and hours before it all comes together, it appears to be spontaneously combusting from illness, evaporating babysitting arrangements, missed flights, airport delays, and ice....what else is there to do but RELAX?! Resist the urge to panic!!


And listen for a WORD.

WORD IS:

Romans 8:28 (NIV)
28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Jaime and I have had this planned forever! We've waited six months since we've last seen each other. We've reached across miles of distance, taken off work, and arranged and prepped our families.  How can it all crump at the very last second??

We took a collective breath, lifted up a pleading prayer, and readjusted our expectations. Then we held our breath, knowing it may not happen just like we planned. We asked God for a blessing but postured for whatever crumbs might fall from the table. Did someone yell PLOT TWIST??


Could it be that hard for the God of the Universe to align the planets and bring a ray of sunshine to our little itty-bitty woman-made plans?

No, asking for blessings is not a formula. We get that.
It's not a demand. We know God is not a puppet.

But He delights in the joy of His children as a parent delights in giving gifts. And that's how that verse goes. We know God has ALL things in His hands. Nothing is too small for His care. Nothing. Not sick parents. Not crying toddlers. Not icy runways. And we know God is at work. No, He's not busy yanking things into place and working our lives like puppets on His strings. But He is at the business of His Kingdom on earth. And when we align ourselves with His work, things rearrange. Sometimes it's just readjusting our expectations and attitudes. Being grateful for what we do have.

SO, instead of a full day at the coffee shop, Jaime and I planned to spend the day chatting while the kids played. We did our necessary attitude adjustments because He's taught us that's what love does. We trusted it would be enough. We know that as we align ourselves with His purpose, we are filled up to overflowing. That's how the Kingdom works. Perhaps not in our timing, not as we'd hoped it would be, or even how we'd had in mind.

And that's how the adventure hit the ground. Running, adjusting.

BUT THEN...my flights got re-routed to make connections, an amazing youth group young lady jumped to fill in as a sitter. The sun came out. The skies were blue ALL day. The coffeeshop was ON! The movie night fell into place when on a whim, Jaime's husband recorded the movie she'd hoped for. The kids had a great day. The parental illness resolved. We had a great walk in the woods and fun reading with the kids and playing games.

And our cups were filled up. We RELAXED!
And let the joy overflow....

Dear Readers: we hope this little adventure in flexibility and learning how God works all things together blesses you this week.
Look for moments where God is just waiting to show up.
Our chaos is often His opportunity!

-------------
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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Represented by Sarah Freese, WordServe Literary

Friday, March 27, 2015

Book Report & Giveaway: Meek & Mild, by Olivia Newport

If you know me, you know I am absolutely NOT a reader of Amish fiction. I have many Amish author friends who phenomenal writers, so that's not a dig against Amish fiction, it's just not my personal go-to genre. With the exception of Olivia Newport.

Her's are always a unique perspective on Amish through history. This, set in 1917, is no exception. And it is based on actual historical events that affected the Amish church at the time.

As usual, Olivia's characters are rich, layered, and highly relatable. The romance is woven throughout the book, but what I truly enjoyed was the honest struggle of relationships, faith, what is a moral issue vs. faith-tradition, and where does grace fit into the overall equation.

Olivia does a wonderful job of writing high-quality Amish historical fiction, and captivating her readers. So even if you're more reticent to pick up Amish, do so with Olivia's. And if you're an avid Amish reader, you will truly NOT be disappointed!!

Leave a comment below to be entered to win your own copy!!

And here are the winners from the giveaways this week!!!! :)

Varina Denman's Jaded: Marci Hopkins
Laura Frantz's The Colonel's Lady: Deanna
Coffee & Chocolate: Hannah Kooiman
Sarah Ladd's The Headmistress of Rosemere: Bonnie Roof
___________________________________


Jaime Wright -

Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional
Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :) - Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency

Find me Online

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Let the Celebration Continue!

This week at Coffee Cups & Camisoles, it's all about the celebrating! On Monday we started the week celebrating Jaime's debut contract with Barbour Publishers and on Tuesday we celebrated my arrival as a new contributor to the blog.

In the spirit of celebration, I thought it would be fun to share the three things I'm personally celebrating this week--and then I have a fun giveaway for one lucky winner--because what's a celebration without gifts?!?!

Here are the three things I'm celebrating:

1. Sunday, March 29th marks the second anniversary of the date I signed with my literary agent, Mary Keeley! (Mary is also Jaime's agent.)

I wish I had a bumper stick that said: I My Agent. Mary and I have been a good pair. One of my love languages is Words of Affirmation, and she's wonderful at filling my love tank! Since signing with Mary, I've completed three novels and sold two novellas to Barbour Publishers. I'm excited to see what the coming year will hold for our partnership.

Mary and me at the 2014 Books & Such Literary
Management Retreat in Monterey, California

2. Sunday, March 29th is also special for another reason! My twin boys turn five!!

My husband and I have been blessed with four children. We have two girls (ages 10 & 8) and the two boys. It's hard to believe they'll be five in just a few days! Next fall they'll start school... This Sunday, we'll take them to a waterpark, and then Easter Sunday we'll have both sides of our family over for brunch, an egg hunt, and cake!

Here they are on their first day of preschool last September

3. I completed my fourth full-length novel this week!

This is especially exciting because I wrote the last 32,000 words in six days! My husband owns a landscaping and lawn care company, so I try to write the bulk of my stories in the winter months when he's home full time. A couple weeks ago, the snow began to melt in this part of Minnesota, and I knew he'd be going back to work soon. We agreed to devote this past week to my writing, and I had a good four-five hours a day to get the story on the page, with a final push of eight hours on Saturday. The best part? I love this story. :)

Your Turn: I'd love to know what you're celebrating this week!

Please comment below so we can celebrate with you. Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter for a $10 Amazon gift card!

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

VLOG: Answer your questions!


HEY!!! A fun day today where I answer a bunch of questions you all left for me on my Facebook and do another giveaway for one of my favorite novels of 2014, Sarah Ladd's The Headmistress of Rosemere. Enjoy!!! There's a question in the video below, so be sure you listen all the way to the end, 'cause I want to hear from you!





As promised: My family pic, albeit a few years old:



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___________________________________



Jaime Wright -

Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :) - Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency

Find me Online

Find me on Twitter

Find me on Facebook

Find me on Pinterest


___________________________________

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Introducing Our New Blogging Buddy!!! Gabrielle Meyer!!!!!


Erica here: I'm posting here for Jaime, who has been laid low with pneumonia. If you think of Jaime today, please pray. She's got a big day at work, leading training seminars, and she needs strength. Thank you!


Almost a year ago, I was welcomed into the blogging partnership here at Coffee Cups & Camisoles, and now it is my great pleasure to welcome another blogger. Gabrielle Meyer!


Here is a little about Gabrielle:





Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River with her husband and four young children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people and events. Gabrielle can be found on her personal blog or her group blog where she writes about her passion for history, Minnesota, and her faith.





Gabrielle and I are kindred spirits. Fellow Minnesotans, history addicts, romance writers. We each have thick, curly hair. And she is a member of TEAM TEA! YAY! We even have novellas releasing in TWO different collections together later this year. (You'll hear about both of those collections as they release...FYI, be prepared to party. These are Gabrielle's FIRST published works!)




We thought it might be fun to interview Gabrielle to help everyone get to know her, so we each came up with a couple of questions. I love the answers!

Anne’s:


1) Where were you the first moment you realized you'd fallen in love with history?
I grew up with history all around me—quite literally. My father was the grounds and maintenance caretaker for a wealthy heiress named Laura Jane Musser and we lived above the carriage house on the estate. Her father was a lumber baron and he had built a mansion next door to his business partner, Charles Weyerhaeuser. Laura Jane inherited both mansions and the nine acres of land along the Mississippi where they were built (it’s now a retreat center). I loved growing up there, but it wasn’t until I was seventeen that I can honestly say I fell in love with history—like over-the-moon, I’m gone forever kind of love. That was the summer I began working at the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site here in my hometown of Little Falls, Minnesota. I was immersed in history every single day, and I was paid to learn all I could and then tell people what I knew! I worked at the Lindbergh Site for ten years, and it shaped my love of history in ways nothing else ever could. I learned how to tell a good story, with historical facts, to entertain an audience.


2) What event, moment, memory, or person first made you believe you might try to write your own book?

There were so many. Some that stand out: my mom telling me I could do anything I set my mind to, a youth pastor asking me for my first autograph on a restaurant napkin, a college professor telling me I had “potential to be a great writer,” transcribing a written history of our community at our local county historical society (and discovering a goldmine of ideas), and my husband’s complete and utter belief in me. The one that pushed me over the edge of my little nest, and forced me to flap my writing wings, was reading The Colonel’s Lady by Laura Frantz. My kindle suggested the title, and I was eager to try a new-to-me author. I devoured that book! And at the end, I thought to myself: “Why am I not writing?” I had dreamed of being an author almost my whole life—but it was that book that made me believe I could do it. I also found Laura on Facebook and she was my first author friend. :) She’s been an amazing encouragement ever since.


3) What author or heroine (living or dead) is most like you?


*Sigh* I relate to so many. :)  But the one who is most like me is an author named Maud Hart Lovelace. Her series, Betsy-Tacy, is set at the turn of the 20th Century in Mankato, Minnesota (called Deep Valley in the books). It’s a fictional auto-biography, much like Little House on the Prairie. She begins the series when Betsy (a.k.a. Maud) is a little girl, and she takes her through childhood, into high school, and on to college, marriage, and the great world. I read the series in high school and I fell in love. Maud captures the heart and soul of her hometown, which is what I long to do with my writing. I’ve read the first half of the series to my girls, and we’ve gone to Maud’s house in Mankato. I highly recommend the series! (Maud and I also share a birthday, April 25th. :) )


4) When was the first time you met Anne, Jaime, and Erica?

I met Erica first at the 2012 ACFW Conference in Dallas. We had formerly “met” online, and we are both from Minnesota, so I was excited to meet her. I’ll never forget that moment, because the very first thing she did was compliment me. :) (Do you remember what you said, Erica?) I also “met” Jaime and Anne online, and then in person for the first time at the 2013 ACFW Conference in Indianapolis. It was like a big reunion! I’ve felt a kindred spirit with all three ladies, and I’m so excited to be a part of this blog.


Erica here...I don't remember! What did I say????


5) Coffee or Tea? And how do you take it?

I’m a tea girl! I love all flavors—hot and cold. If it’s hot, I love to put cream in it—if it’s cold, I want it to be sweet.


Erica here again...Yay for another tea-drinker! :)

Erica’s:


6) Which character from Little House on the Prairie are you most like?
What I love about LHOP is that I relate to a few characters. I’m the oldest of two sisters (I also have two older brothers), so growing up I often felt like Mary. I was the responsible sister, and if you asked my younger sister Andrea, she’d tell you I never got into trouble and was a “perfect” little girl like Mary. :) As I got older, and discovered my love for writing, I began to relate to Laura. I wanted to write about my childhood and my family and all the nuances of my community life. Now, as a mother of four, I totally get Ma! J I remember re-reading the series after having children, and seeing Ma’s point of view for the first time. I can’t even begin to understand how difficult it was to live on the prairie as a pioneer. Go Ma Ingalls!


7) What is your favorite housekeeping chore?
Ugh. Can I say it again? Ugh. I do not enjoy housekeeping—I enjoy a clean, organized house, but with four children, a dog, a cat, two small businesses we run out of the house, and homeschooling, our house gets a workout every day! Last week my eight year old daughter said to me: “I bet our house likes when we all leave so it can take a break.” :) If someone twisted my arm, and I had to say one favorite chore, it would probably be vacuuming. Usually this comes at the end of my cleaning routine and it gives me great satisfaction to see it done. :) Here’s one of my favorite pictures from parenting twins. As they get older, their messes only get bigger. :)


Jaime’s:
8) If you were stranded on an island, what FICTION novel could you not live without?

I have so many favorites! Some recent ones are The Wood’s Edge, by Lori Benton, The Colonel’s Lady, by Laura Frantz, Rebellious Heart, by Jody Hedlund…but the one I have read numerous times and I never tire of is Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers. I know this may seem like a generic answer, since it’s a favorite of so many people—but there is a good reason for its popularity! Every time I read Redeeming Love, I come away with a new insight, a different perspective, and a deeper understanding. The story is rich in characters, plot, dialogue, setting, and spiritual depth. I’m a huge fan of plot twists and unexpected revelations, and that book is ripe with them! If you’ve read it, you know what I mean.


9) Do you have a writing mentor? If so, what is one of the biggest things they have taught you about your writing journey?


I have a few mentors, but the one who has taught me the most is Susan May Warren. Not only has she been a fantastic teacher, but she’s also become a good friend (we Minnesotans need to stick together). J I think the biggest thing she’s taught me is the importance of a support network. Writing can be a lonely, solitary pursuit—but it doesn’t have to be. There is power in numbers! As I walk this writing journey, I’m so thankful for kindred spirits who travel beside me. They encourage me, pray for me, brainstorm with me, laugh with me, cry with me—but best of all, they love me, and that is a priceless gift.

10) You know I'm going to ask you for a selfie!!!?


Here’s a different take on a selfie. J I took this picture on the beach in Monterey, California during the Books & Such Literary Management Retreat.




To celebrate Gabrielle coming to our blog, we're giving away a copy of one of her favorite books! Enter the giveaway, then come back and ask Gabrielle a 'get to know you' kind of question!


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Monday, March 23, 2015

When Dreams Come True



I GOT A CONTRACT!!!!!!!!

Deep breaths. Deeeeeeeeeeeeep breaths. Are you breathing yet? I haven't been able to since January and then that CRAZY HOLD on my announcement when I was all prepped in Feb. WHY was there a hold put on? Well, some things changed in the publishing industry, and for a bit, we weren't sure the contract would be signed, sealed, and delivered. But it came through, and now I can reminisce about that day in January when I received the email from my agent which read:

"It's day two of the first week of the new year, and I get to deliver exciting news to you. Your novella submission, The Cowgirl's Lasso, for Barbour's The Cowboy's Bride Collection has been accepted! Congratulations!"

Erica took a pic of me taking a selfie

... fitting, I guess ...

Now THERE'S an email to make you choke on your lunch, which was where I was when it popped up on the screen of my iPhone. My poor Admin Assistant who was sitting across the table had to duck and cover as I spewed salsa off my tortilla chip and raised such ruckus it roused up the mariachi band. Ok, that's a slight exaggeration. What REALLY happened, was I swallowed my chip and salsa, and I teared up. One because my biggest dream just pinged at me in the form of an email, and two, because the salsa was spicy.

"What happened?" Julie's brows deep v in concern. This Admin Assistant would break down a brick wall for me if I asked her. I'm not sure why. I usually send her demanding texts in the morning like, "is the coffee made yet?", "can you stop at Starbucks?", "did you pour my coffee?", and the like ...

"I just--" no I didn't cry, but I may have wanted to, "--I just got offered a contract. For a western novella. With a lot of snark. And ...no suspense ... and wow ... just ... holy buckets I need to call Nate!"


As Julie beamed and laughed and stuffed her face with chips along with me, I dialed my husband.

"Hey."

"I got a contract!"

"A what?"

"For a book! A contract!"

"Cool."

"And the contract and advance will be coming in the mail."

pause.

"You get paid for this?"

God love the man.

So without further ado ... I announce ... I'M GOING TO BE PUBLISHED!! And while I won't be quitting my daytime job anytime soon, or ever, because I love it too much, I will be deep in the throes of a ranch, horses, British ranchers who transplanted to New Mexico Territory in the 1890's, and scrappy females who drink Arbuckles coffee and run circles around the inexperienced.


But first I want to celebrate! I already celebrated with Erica way back in January when she took pics of my signing the contract. Now I want to celebrate WITH YOU!!


Today, I'm giving away coffee and Dove chocolates. And tomorrow, we here at Coffee Cups and Camisoles have TWO amazing surprises plus another giveaway for you. AND WEDNESDAY, I'll take you into the process of writing this novella of mine, the pictures, the story, the characters, and Thursday ... well, you'll just have to wait and see!!

So enter to win, don't be shy.

And enjoy the pics of my signing of my very first contract, taken by none other than Erica, who joined me on the momentous day at our favorite coffee joint. And she was soooooo sick too. THAT is the sign of a GREAT friend!!







Let's read this and make sure it's good






Oh what the heck! Let's sign it!!






EEEE!!!! I'm gonna be published!!!





Enter to win a POUND of coffee and a bag of Dove chocolates!!







a Rafflecopter giveaway


_________________________________


Jaime Wright -

Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :) - Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency


Find me Online

Find me on Twitter

Find me on Facebook

Find me on Pinterest





Friday, March 20, 2015

Interview & #Giveaway with Varina Denman

I don't know if Varina Denman remembers me. Probably not. People get lost in the cybersphere if you don't become a stalker or seriously connect. But anyway, she was one of my FIRST blogger friends. Or was it Facebook? I don't recall. See how close V and I are? ;) But I am SO happy to reconnect with her over her debut novel! A novel that is SURE to strike a chord with anyone who has ever attended church, been hurt, or needed healing. Take a peek into our little interview and get to know Varina, and don't forget to follow the links back to her web site for a chance to win!

Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. She has five children, teaches creative writing and literature, volunteers in her local homeschool cooperative, and boasts sixteen years as a home educator. She resides with her family in North Texas. Her first novel, Jaded, won the 2013 ACFW Genesis Award.

________________________________

Jaime, thank you for hosting me on your beautiful blog. It’s so good to be here with you and Anne and Erica!
1.       So tell us what first inspired you to write your current book?
It was sort of an accident. Jaded is about church hurt, but in the beginning, I didn’t set out to write
about that. I was just writing a Christian romance, but when my characters went to church ... things happened. The inspiration for the painful scenes came from things I’ve witnessed or heard about over the years. I can’t stand to see people hurting, so I made up for those real life scenarios by writing a story that ends with hope and healing.
2.       Who is your most favorite character (and yes, you HAVE to pick one :)

This is easy, but you’d never guess. It’s not my spunky heroine, Ruthie Turner, or the hunky preacher or the likeable cousin or the bitter church leader. They’re all main characters who ought to grab me, but my favorite is a secondary character named Ansel Picket. He’s Ruthie’s seventy-year-old uncle who reminds me of my grandfather. He walks and talks slowly and chews on toothpicks. My grandfather died years ago, but when I wrote Ansel Pickett, I felt like I was spending time with Granddaddy.

3.       Is there a spiritual element or thread you hope your readers to catch as they read?

The story revolves around forgiveness. The main arc is Ruthie Turner as she learns to forgive the church who shunned her family years before. But throughout the story, almost every character experiences something that touches on forgiveness, or the character’s lack of forgiveness. I hope readers finish the book with a sense of hope in their hearts, knowing that forgiveness is possible, even in the worst situations. And that God’s love is big enough to make up for our mistakes.

4.       Where are you at in your writing career? Published, not published, searching, unsure?

My first novel, Jaded, released this month, and the second, Justified, will release June 1. I’m currently working on the third, Jilted, which is scheduled for 2016.

5.       Favorite color and why?

Red. It’s bold and bright. It’s a focal point of any room. It’s the color of roses and nail polish and buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken. It’s the name of a really funny movie. And besides all that, red shirts look good with my dark hair. 

(Jaime inserts happy cheering here because red is her favorite color too)

6.       Favorite restaurant?
Five kids on a teacher’s salary means we NEVER go out to eat (other than the dollar menu at the closest burger joint), but sometimes, our family and friends have pity and give us gift cards. When that happens, my favorite restaurant is On The Border. Quesadillas and guacamole ... need I say more?
7.       On our blog, Erica constantly tries to introduce the concept of tea drinking. So, are you in her camp, or do you side with Anne and I as bonafide coffee drinkers?

I’m the weirdo with food sensitivities. Caffeine doesn’t work for me. Or sugar. But when I go wild, I’m in the camp of iced decaf with some kind of sugar free chocolate added, and maybe a touch of almond milk. On the other hand, I enjoy me some iced green tea every now and then. But as for hot drinks in cute mugs ... neither really. Oh, how I wish I could be like the cool kids at Starbucks!

 8.       Tell us about the last thing that scared you to pieces

Ugh. I had my first author interview last week over the phone. It was horrible. I rambled. I probably offended any person who lives in a small town. Or attends a church of any size. Or believes in a loving and merciful God. Other than that, it went well. But the fear-induced diarrhea lasted for two days.

9.       Your favorite all-time cartoon as a kid and what was it about it that you liked so much?

Felix the Cat! Because of the theme song! https://youtu.be/h2YJduDyFA4

10.   They call me the Selfie Queen which sounds terribly self-absorbed. So can you save my reputation and share the honor by posting a selfie here? :)


11.   How do our readers connect with you, buy your books, or follow your writing journey?
I spend a lot of time on Facebook and Pinterest. And sometimes I land on Twitter, Instagram, and GoodReads. Jaded can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook. And it’s in bookstores, but that’s sort of hit or miss since I’m a new author. Follow my writing journey on my blog, varinadenman.com, and please sign-up for my quarterly newsletter.

12.   Last but not least, what’s one story idea you’ve had that ventures out of your typical genre?


Every time I read a dystopian novel, I wish I could write like that. I loved Hunger Games and Divergent. But I should probably stick to reading that genre instead of writing it, because I don’t know enough about politics, history, or current events. Good grief, I don’t even watch the news. 

And readers can find Varina here:

Twitter: @varinadenman
Instagram: varinadenman

Enter a giveaway for a copy of Varina's new book Jaded by using the rafflecopter below!


_________________________________

Jaime Wright - 

Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :) - Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Birthday Book Giveaway! (& Coffee!)

It's my birthday!  Well, in two days, but since today is my day to post here at CC&C, I'm celebrating a little bit early. :)

To celebrate, I'm giving away a signed copy of The Homestead Brides Collection...not just signed by me, but signed by all NINE authors! :) 



I'm also giving away a $15.00 Starbucks gift card!! 

I am blessed to share my birthday with three amazing famous people.

The Incredible Big Bird!
Mr. Fred Rogers, the best neighbor anybody could ask for.

Mary Connealy, friend, partner in crime, mentor, all around wonderful human.


So, enter the raffle by "liking" my facebook page, signing up for my newsletter, and/or leaving me a comment to tell me who shares YOUR birthday!


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Executive Assistant
Earl Grey Aficionado 
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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

My Muse

She dances with the inexperience of a dreamer, her arms reaching into the whispers of the breeze as if she will fly.

Her inhibitions are ghosts that wait to come alive as she ages, but for now, sleep beneath the spell of a princess's smile.

Laughter rises from her heart and its music waltzes through the forest, alighting on the sunset, and reminding the world that joy is only a pirouette away.

With innocence, she twirls and spins, jumps and bows. She is awkward, she is untrained. She moves with the grace of a novice but the heart of a graceful ballerina.

She doesn't recognize failure. In her eyes, there is only music, and movement. In her mind, she is beautiful, she is a princess, she has conquered.

She is my daughter. She is my inspiration. She is my muse.

_________________________________

Jaime Wright - 

Spirited and gritty turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Youth leader. Professional Coffee Drinker. Works in HR and specializes in sarcasm :) - Represented by: Books & Such Literary Agency

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday's Devo: The Things We Do.....

...to find beauty....
Beauty in the extraordinary. In the ordinary.

What have you done to look for beauty?

Last month my friend, Sarah Varland, moved to Alaska. Last night she was bummed no one wanted to accompany her to drive around in the dark looking for a show of Northern Lights. I would have gone in a heartbeat! That little conversation triggered wonderful memories of my Dad and Mom waking me in the middle of the night, wrapping me up in my p.j.'s and a huge blanket. I was carried outdoors in the dead of night to watch amazing shimmering red-orange lights dance across the sky. It was a holy family moment. Me in Dad's arms. Mom beside him, holding my brother. In silence we gazed at God's handiwork.

Sarah's quest for beauty made me think of other things I've done to find beauty.

God's beauty in the extraordinary...

...seeing the Rocky Mountains for the first time, rising up from the horizon of the prairie as we rode in Dad's red '76 Chevy truck, pulling an old '67 Starcraft pop up camper.
...driving into a pitch dark wheat field in Kansas to see Halley's Comet in 1986.
...laying on the warm hood of my then fiancé's '76 yellow Chevette counting shooting stars.
...dragging blankets out to the back yard in October, laying on our backs, waiting for a meteor shower with Ted and Emily.
...sitting at the top of Cascade Mountain range on a clear day. Getting alone with God there, seeing Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams.
...riding on a four wheeler with Ted, down an old two-track logging road in the UP, Michigan, into the cedar swamp to find a lovely blooming Lady Slipper.
...standing on a tree stump, at the top of a hill, with my 1985 Sony Walkman cranking out Amy Grant, in the middle of the dense Black Forest of Germany.
...parking in the middle of a country road with Ted, at the top of a hill to watch a fantastical lightning show. We clapped and cheered for the best displays.


God's beauty in the ordinary...

...slicing open a juicy red garden tomato, taking time to stand in awe.
...watching my children sleep.
...pulling into my driveway after a long day.
...hearing my children sing together when they didn't know I was listening.
...cranking music up in the van and singing at the top or my lungs, alone, or with my kids.
...laughing with Dad, listening to his stories.
...coffee and homemade jam toast with Mom.
...picking wild huckleberries with Grandma Emma.
...riding in Grandpa John's truck to get a piece of pie.
...standing in a prayer circle with dear friends from Sunday School Class.
...watching Ted working over his bee hives in the back yard amidst all the flowers he's planted.
...the call of the Red-Winged Black Bird in springtime.
...dancing in the kitchen.

Holy moments.
Let me count them.

He delights in me. In you. In us.
He not only contends and disciplines us, 
He delights to share Holy Moments with us.
Don't miss the moments.

Zephaniah 3:17New International Version (NIV)

17 The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
    but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Lady Slipper
Readers:
What holy moments stand out in your memory?
When have you most experienced God's delight?
What visions of grandeur have you been graced with?
Please share. Let's make the list longer!


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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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Represented by Sarah Freese, WordServe Literary