Monday, October 31, 2016

Monday's Devo: The Things We Do

This weekend I took a rest.
I booted my to-do list.
Somehow it made me feel guilty a little.
And that made me rethink "rest"--it's not laziness!
It's actively refueling.
It's recommended at least once a week. Resting.

So, in effort to refuel and rest. I'm reposting this devo from last year that fits my refueling...
Enjoy....
And refuel.


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

Friday, October 28, 2016

#Interview & #Giveaway with Mesu Andrews

Super happy to have Mesu Andrews on our blog today! A biblical fiction author, she's brought smiles to our faces in person and on the page!

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Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?

Miriam is the story of Moses’s sister, the first prophetess mentioned in Scripture. She was eighty-six years old when Moses returned from exile in Midian and declared Israel’s God had a new name—Yahweh—the God she’d served faithfully her whole life. How did Miriam feel as all of Israel experienced the devastation of the first three plagues—the Nile turned to blood, masses of frogs, and biting flies—alongside the ruthless Egyptians?

Miriam’s story was especially meaningful to me since my own spunky mama is also eighty-six. I tried to imagine my God-lovin’, change-hatin’ mom enduring all that upheaval, and my heart broke for Moses’s older sister. I admired her strength, her faith, and the fire that drove her to submit to her younger brothers’ leadership and yet lead the women in a dance after crossing the Red Sea. I love Miriam more now than I did when I began my research. She is a true biblical heroine.

Of all your characters in this story, which one did you enjoy writing the most and why?

I actually love Eleazar, the lead male character, Aaron’s third-born son. Later in Israel’s history, he became the nation’s high priest, but in this story (fiction) he’s embittered against God at the inhumanities as a soldier slave in Egypt’s wars. Eleazar is a crusty old bachelor, who adores his grandparents and Aunt Miriam and faithfully shares his rations with them. His hard shell is tested by a beautiful Hebrew harem girl who is exiled into Goshen’s slave village. She frustrates him to the point of exasperation—and then infatuation—making him even grouchier. Their relationship was so complex and especially fun to write!

Can you tell us about a scene that you wrote and eventually deleted? It’s always fun to know of the little details that didn’t make the cut :)

I have a fantastic editor. That being said…she cuts LOTS of scenes, chapters, and in Miriam she even cut two full characters out of the book. This meant I needed to rewrite the whole manuscript, taking out these characters from each scene in which they appeared.

Why did she ask me to take them out? Because they really weren’t necessary. I can say with absolute certainty—readers didn’t miss a thing when I cut Abigail and Caleb. Abigail was the grand-daughter of a character from The Pharaoh’s Daughter, my first book in The Treasure of the Nile series. Though Abigail was interesting, she wasn’t essential to telling Miriam’s story. The second character, Caleb, was Joshua’s side-kick during the Wilderness Wandering. But this book ends at the parting of the Red Sea, so no one really cares about Caleb at this point, right?

Everyone needs a good editor! And I’m thankful for mine.

How did you decide on the setting/location for this novel?

The location of the land of “Goshen” is debated by scholars, but it is widely accepted that the Israelites were concentrated in Egypt’s northern Delta. Exodus 1:11 tells us that the Hebrews built store cities in Ramesses and Pithom, making it fairly simple to mark where the Exodus began. I kept the path of the Exodus rather vague since few resources agree on the exact journey the Israelites took to the Red (Reed) Sea. I try to make the reader feel their surroundings but, due to the controversial locations surrounding the Exodus, I kept most of the physical descriptions rather general.

What made you pick these specific names of your main two characters?

Both Miriam and Eleazar were biblical characters whose names were given. I chose the secondary woman character’s name—Taliah—because it was somewhat familiar to our culture but had Hebrew roots and meant “dew,” which would become significant during the wilderness wandering if I were to write future books in the series. (The miraculous bread from heaven—called “manna”—came as dew on the ground.) My next book is about Isaiah the prophet, but if I ever come back to the wilderness wandering, I’ve got a great cast of characters to begin the story!

Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What’s your least favorite household chore and why?

I hate cleaning! I don’t mind cleaning toilets or doing the laundry, but sweeping, dusting, windows, kitchen, etc.—ICK!

What are your hobbies outside of writing?

Grandkids!!!! Two grand babies now live with us (for a short time), and the rest only a few hours away, so I plan my days around those sweet little faces. And movies. I love movies—all kinds. My favorites are the epic historicals: Gladiator, Braveheart, The Patriot, and Regency period films. But I also like Forrest Gump, The Princess Bride, and just about any chick flick you put in front of me.

Summer is upon us, and full of events. Are you doing anything special this summer season?

Moving across the country…it was a gorgeous drive!

We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?

My books tackle some difficult life and faith questions that my characters meet head-on. Guess who gets to write that dialogue? Yep, as my characters wrestle, my heart is wrestling with them, and I read and study to find answers. Then I ask a team of godly folks to read the first draft to be sure the concepts are biblically sound. It’s both a personal quest and a team effort. I believe God’s Word must affect my heart before it can have an effect on my readers.

Tell us a little about a day in the life of you? Wake up time? Lounging in your jammies all day, drinking coffee, living the luxurious life of a writer ;)

My life has been a little crazy since I’ve been speed-writing since May (a full rough draft in 5 months is speed-writing for me). In August, we moved from Vancouver, WA to Boone, NC, and my first draft was due October 1st. On writing days, I get up, brush my teeth, make a pot of coffee, and begin writing by 7-8am. I live on coffee, protein bars, and yogurt, and write until my brain is mush—usually around 10-11pm.
Since I made my deadline (woohoo!!!), I haven’t actually found a great schedule. I’ve been sleeping later (7-7:30am) and having a leisurely breakfast with my hubby, daughter, son-in-love, and grandkids (the kids and grands now live in our basement). I work in the morning and unpack boxes in the afternoon. Life is grand!
…Until edits come back sometime after the holidays. **Grin**

We have a bit of a war going on here at the CCC blog. Anne and Jaime LOVE coffee and Erica and Gabriella enjoy a joyful cup of tea. What is your preference? Help us break this tie…

Coffee, coffee, and more coffee. A pot a day—all decaf—mostly because I love the taste of hazelnut creamer.

And a few fun and quirky questions always reveal of lot from our authors who visit. So, first, if you were to take a boat down the Amazon river, what would you be most interested in seeing?

Pink dolphin. Yep, I Googled it, and of the ten coolest animals living on or in the Amazon, the pink dolphin gets my vote!

If you had a choice of living in any era other than the present, what would you choose and why?

EASY!!! I want to SEE Jesus! But I would want to go back in time to do it (not just have been born during that time)…because I’m afraid I might have been one of those who didn’t get it. Would I have believed He was the Messiah and Son of God? I’m not a risk taker. I’m sort of suspicious of anything out of the norm. Jesus of Nazareth would have definitely stretched my faith if I’d been alive during His earthly ministry. What am I saying? Jesus stretches my faith NOW even though I know He’s the Messiah and Son of God! I like the era I’m born in…

We’d love you have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us! :) Please share something below:

Prologue
“When there is a prophet among you, I
, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
I speak to them in dreams.”
~ Numbers 12:6 ~
I am Miriam, old but of use. I am a slave, a midwife, a healer with herbs. This is what I do, but El Shaddai makes me who I am.
The Hebrews call me prophetess, the Egyptians a seer. But I am neither. I am simply a watcher of Israel and the messenger of El Shaddai. When He speaks to me in dreams, I interpret. When He whispers a melody, I sing.
During my eighty-six Inundations, His presence has swelled within me like the Nile’s waters, quenching my thirst, meeting every need. No relationship imprisons me. No task consumes me. No despair conquers me. I’m His alone, free to love others as He loves me.
But as I dab my parents’ brows, creeping dread crawls up my arm like a living thing. Last night’s dreams have shaken our divine union. El Shaddai, Your messages have always been so clear. Why not give the meaning with the dreams?
 I know they portend death. But whose? Fear coils around my heart like a serpent. Please don’t take my parents, Shaddai. A ridiculous request, I know. Abba Amram has seen 137 Inundations and Ima Jochebed 109. They are the wonder of the tribe of Levi, and even the Egyptians whisper rumors of a slave couple favored by the gods.
 Abba’s chest rises and falls with shallow breaths. Ima snores quietly. My heart will break when I must say goodbye.
A flash of light, and my mind grows dark . . . until Shaddai shows me a single soldier walking toward me. It’s Eleazar. Last night’s dream-creatures dance around him, taunting, but he can’t see them. My nephew walks quickly, calling my name. As suddenly as it came, the vision is gone.
Abba and Ima sleep peacefully while I lean into the constant presence of my Shaddai. Eleazar will arrive soon with our morning rations, but now I know last night’s dreams have something to do with him. Thank You, my Shaddai, for your tender consolation. For though the evil creatures tested and taunted, they could not destroy him. But I know there’s more to the dreams than that. Show me, Shaddai. Show me more.
A warm breeze stirs the stifling air within our mud brick house, and I know it’s El Shaddai. All right, I’ll try to be patient. New-found peace grapples with niggling angst. I’ll sing. Singing always soothes me, lifts me, transports me deeper into His presence.
The tune is the same. Haunting, groaning, yearning. But something changes. The breeze dies. A strange chill races up my spine. I hum a familiar melody, waiting for new words of praise that never come—like the dream without a message.
Heart racing, eyes burning, my soul cries out, El Shaddai, are you there?
Silence.
I look out our window. The sun still shines. The birds still sing. But a chill breeze stirs in the hot sun, and I know. Change is coming. Change is here.



Thank you so much for visiting today! It was a blast! 

Please visit http://www.mesuandrews.com/books/miriam-a-treasures-of-the-nile-novel/ to download a sample chapter or buy Miriam.


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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Do you Always Write from a Good Place?

Gabrielle Here:

Last week I was with a friend and she said she was reading an advanced copy of my upcoming release, A Family Arrangement. She told me all the things she's enjoying about the story and she said she's amazed that the plot and the characters were made up in my imagination. She marveled that she could get a peek into my mind and heart while she read the story and she asked me a great question. She said: "Do you always write from a good place? Or do you ever write when you're going through tough situations?" Because, to her, it appeared that I was in a really great place when I wrote that story.
The moment my books arrived on my doorstep!
My answer is no, I don't always write from a good place. I can't speak for every author, but I can say this: if an author is under contract to finish a book by a deadline, nothing short of a family emergency will stop her from meeting that deadline. She can't wait until she's in a good place mentally, physical or spiritually. She has to write, regardless.

But here's the beautiful part. I might be under a lot of stress while writing a story, but often it's within the story that I am able to find my rest. I write because it's the creative expression God has given me to commune with Him. When I sit down to write a story, it's as if He comes alongside me and fills in all the gaps. Sometimes, there are things I put down on paper that I do not see coming. They take me by surprise and overwhelm me with their beauty. Sometimes a character will say exactly what I need to hear, even if I don't realize it at first. It's during times like that where I'm in awe of God's hand in my life and in my story. Those moments refresh me and give me the strength I need to manage all the other areas of my life that need tending.

For some people, they find rest and relaxation in gardening, scrapbooking, fishing, decorating, painting, singing, playing an instrument, exercising, helping friends and neighbors...the list goes on an on. You don't have to be in a good place to do those things well. Often, you go to those places to bring everything back into perspective and to rejuvenate.

For me, and many others, we use our writing.

No, I don't always write from a good place, but while I'm writing, God brings me to where I need to be.

How do you refresh and reenergize? What activity makes you feel closer to God? Are you ever required to do something, even if you don't feel like doing it?

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Love Languages in Fiction

Erica Here:

This last weekend, I had the fun of hosting a couple of writer friends, Dawn Ford and Lorna Seilstad, at my house, and driving them to the Twin Cities for the ACFW MN NICE meeting where Lorna was the special speaker.

Lorna Seilstad!


Lorna spoke about how to make your readers fall in love with your hero by having him demonstrate all five of the Love Languages as outlined by author Gary Chapman in his book called "The Five Love Languages."


According to Chapman, there are five love languages, with most people having two that are fairly strong. These love languages are:

1. Words of Affirmation - Using words to say I love you, I value you, I appreciate you.

2. Quality Time - One on one time with meaningful conversation and eye contact. Making time out of a busy schedule to be with the one you love.

3. Physical Touch and Closeness - This one is pretty obvious.

4. Gift Giving - Thoughtful gifts, surprises, sacrificing something to give a gift.

5. Acts of Service - Doing something nice without being asked, shouldering someone's burden a bit.


According to Lorna (And I believe her!) because readers all have different love languages, if you want to 'hit' every reader's sweet spot, your hero must exhibit traits of all the love languages. He should say something heartfelt to the heroine, spend time with her, share physical touches, give her gifts, and do nice things for her.

She also posits that he can mess up and fail to speak the heroine's love language in order to raise the conflict in the story. Or they can have a failure to communicate...such as, when the hero comes and fixes the front steps on the heroine's house--and act of service and/or a gift--which she can misinterpret as him saying she can't take care of herself, that she needs a man about the place.

It was an excellent workshop, and I plan to be more deliberate about incorporating the love languages into my stories.

It wasn't all learning and lecturing though. There was a lot of laughter, too! A group of us met before the meeting for some good chow and fellowship, and it was a great time!

From L-R Stacy Monson, Dawn Ford, Lorna Seilstad, Brenda Anderson,
Beth Bentrud, Gabrielle Meyer, Erica Vetsch, and Julie Klassen.

My top two are Words of Affirmation and Quality Time. My husband is excellent at speaking my love languages, even though they are not his top two. He gifts me with date night every Friday where we spend time together, just the two of us, and we talk and talk and talk. :) My husband's top one is Acts of Service, and once I figured that out, it was so much easier to see all the little things he did around the house as being ways of him telling me he loves me! I've learned how much he values clean laundry or his favorite dinner. I joke that his second love language is coupons...he loves it when I remember to use coupons. :) 

So, I'm curious...what are your top two love languages?


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Most Romantic Character - Guest Post, by Teresa Tysinger


Hi all! Jaime here . . . I am crunching words to make a deadline, so this week, I invited my coffee cohort and super-de-duper good friend Teresa Tysinger to fill in for me here on the blog. Enjoy! I sure did :)

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The Most Romantic Character - Teresa Tysinger

I’m here to make a bold case for the most romantic character in the English language. Yes, language – not literature. (That’s a whole other blog post that I’ll happily leave to one of the CCC gals). 

The most romantic character is unequivocally the ampersand (&). That’s right. The curly Q, rolling R, and sometimes Y have nothing on the most visually unique and interesting &.

If you’ll humor this nerdy double English major for a second, let’s chat about the &’s etymology (that is, it’s history and origin). The E and T of the Latin word et, meaning “and,” were often written together to form a ligature—a character consisting of two or more joined letters. Some experts say the & was found in its earliest form way back in Pompeii, preserved by the infamous Mount Vesuvius eruption and later uncovered by archeologists. Despite it being such an ancient symbol, the word ampersand was first seen in the late 18th century. It is an alteration of and per se and, literally “and (&) by itself makes the word and,” which was once recited by children to help learn the sign.  So, and per se and became ampersand.* Neat, huh?

Perhaps, you don’t need me to tell you why the & is so romantic. What is more romantic than a symbol that joins two things. For an author of love stories, it doesn’t get any better. Its graceful curves wrap the hand of our heroine through the arm of our hero. They become one.

Maybe it’s a stretch. A cheesy, starry-eyed way of looking at a practical, utilitarian character meant simply for efficiency of writing.

But, it’s our job as writers and readers to romanticize. Well, if not our job, certainly our prerogative. I guess that’s why I collect &s. I have them on my shelves, walls, stationary, and even coffee cups. One of my favorite gifts from my husband is a beautiful You & Me print framed and hanging above our bed. It is a reminder that I’m not alone. A reminder of my own love story.

Keeping with cheesy, I think the & is why I write romance. I can’t help but create stories that bring two people together. When I see one of the many &s I’ve collected, I’m inspired to write someone else’s You & Me.
 
My latest endeavor at writing the & of two characters is After All These Years. Meet Maggie, an author distracted by a crush years in the making. This short story releases November 1 exclusively to my newsletter subscribers, followed by a new short story every month set on the cozy campus of Blue Ridge University, a fictional school in the mountains of North Carolina. These short, inspirational romances about the professors, faculty, students, and townspeople will leave you rooting for true love and sighing with satisfaction. If you’re interested, subscribe for free at http://teresatysinger.com/newsletter.

Thanks again to the ladies of CCC for hosting me today. Do you have a You & Me story? An example of how exciting and important “and” is in your life? I’d love to hear about it!


*Thanks to OxfordDictionaries.com for reminding me of some of the specifics.

Teresa Tysinger is an author of charming Southern romance inspired by grace, graphic designer, communications specialist, and lover of happy endings. She lives in Texas with her hero-inspiring theater professional husband, spunky and hysterical daughter, and precious pup. 

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Fall: On My Dirt Road...

...is one of my favorite things...



...there's something about the brilliance...


...and the harvest...


...that makes the soul grateful...


...for times of abundance...


...and growth...and rest...


...and of course... other great things like snuggly flannels...


...and fires...


...and warm winter foods...


...and of course...some coffee...


Maybe I should have blogged about the Cubs heading to the World Series being the most culturally reassuring thing during this American election season. But I just wanted to feel the goodness of seasons this week, and spread a little of that goodness. 

Readers: What has the changing season brought to your front door?
What brings reassurance in your seasons?


Winner of last week's newsletter sign-up give away: Sylvia!! Watch for an email!
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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 at: www.anneloveauthor.com
Find me on:Facebook
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Friday, October 21, 2016

#Interview & #Giveaway with Author @KaraIsaac

 Because Kara Isaac is only one of MY FAVORITE PEOPLE EVER! (Jaime here writing this), I'm super stoked to bring her to our blog today!! I had the super joy of reading this novel in first draft form and it was great then, and is now even better!! I want you all to get to know Kara and have a chance to win a copy of Can't Help Falling. So here we go!

Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?

My latest release is called Can’t Help Falling set in Oxford, England and is the story of two Narnia fans, Peter and Emelia. My debut novel, Close To You, had a Lord of the Rings theme and I knew from my research for Close To You that C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien had been friends, taught at Oxford University during the same time period, and both belonged to a literary group known as the Inklings. I’ve always been a huge Narnia fan and so when my editor asked me if I had an idea for a second book that could somehow be linked to Close To You that was what I pitched her. Thankfully she loved it!
  
What was the most difficult scene for you to write?

To be honest, this book was filled with scenes that were difficult to write! But the toughest scenes for me are always the ones that contain a significant spiritual or faith element. These are always the ones that I pray over the most trying to find that right balance between whatever my characters struggles are that are creating barriers between them and God, making those conversations or experiences feel authentic, but at the same time written in such a way that if a person who isn’t a believer is reading it they don’t feel preached at.

I generally hold the view that if I get some reviews saying it wasn’t Christian “enough” and then others saying to was “too” Christian then the balance is probably about right :)


How did you choose the location for this novel, and why did you pick this particular place?

Oxford was a natural choice once the Tolkien/Lewis connection had been decided on between the two books. Oxford University was where the men met as young professors (at an otherwise ordinary faculty meeting!), their friendship flourished there and, some say, without that neither Middle-earth or Narnia would have ever existed. Also, in what can only be described as a God happening, Close To You, actually wraps up in Oxford which provided another link between the two books. Even though, when I wrote that, it never occurred to me that it could be the location of my next story!  

Tell us about your favorite secondary-character, and why you love them?

My favorite secondary character in Can’t Help Falling is Emelia’s cousin, Lacey. Emelia is a very private person and Lacey is really her only close friend who knows her past and all of her secrets. Lacey was a great character to write because even though she understands why Emelia is the way she is, she doesn’t hold back from telling her the truth and challenging her on some of the choices she is making. She was also just one of those characters where you put them in a scene and they just take on a life of their own!


If you could have your readers pick out one critical scene, truth, or story line from your novel, what would it be and why?

A common theme running through my stories is the one of second chances. I wish I could pick a critical scene but the most critical ones would also give important parts of the story away! Peter and Emelia are both burdened by regret about decisions they have made and struggle with feeling like their lives will always be defined by them. I would love it if readers took away that there is no mistake that they have made that God sees them as being defined by.

Time to learn some more about you! Here at the CCC Blog we’ve had a running war for some
time between coffee and tea drinkers J. To shake things up a bit, if you had to choose between a cup of hot cider or pumpkin spice latte, which would you pick to warm up to this Autumn?

Definitely hot cider! Mmmmmmm

The holidays will be upon us soon enough. Tell us a favorite holiday memory:

My family is very spread out with both my parents and sister and her family living in different countries. Alas, trying to split holidays between ourselves and our spouses families isn’t as easy as lunch at one side and dinner at the other so we only get every second Christmas together. One of my favorite holiday memories was last Christmas. It was held at our place, with four generations, including six cousins aged 4, 3, 1, 1, 1 and five weeks, lots and lots of great food and the weather (summer in New Zealand!) was just incredible. Getting to spend time together as an extended family and see the wonder of Christmas through the eyes of so many “little people” was pretty much the most fun ever.

 We know you love to write (obviously!) and read, but what other hobbies do you find yourself gravitating toward?

I love cooking and baking when not under the pressure of needing to quickly feed small hungry mouths before an apocalyptic meltdown erupts! I also started taking barre classes just over a year ago and while I certainly cannot claim a dancer-like physique (especially in my current heavily pregnant state!) I’ve found myself enjoying it much more than I was expecting to!
  
Tell us about one odd item you can find in the bottom of your purse, book bag, or computer bag?
An odd assortment of fruit flavored tea bags. I don’t drink coffee or “real” tea so occasionally I’m that visitor who asks for a hot water and then whips out her own “special” tea bag. Luckily my friends are used to it!


What’s your favorite app on your smartphone and why? J

I’m not sure if it counts as an app but if my calendar ever disappeared off my phone or stopped working our whole family would be in serious trouble. It co-ordinates all of our lives!

 Now’s your chance to brag on your pet, if you have one! And include a picture! We love pets around here. Erica and Jaime are cat lovers, Anne too! And Gabe recently got a dog! So what furry, reptilian, or amphibious character lives in your house?

Zero pets in Casa de Isaac (or even indoor plants for that matter!) With a five year old, a two year old and a baby on the way I’ve got my hands full just keeping them alive :)


What three books grace the top of your To-Be-Read pile? (because we know you HAVE to have more than one book on that stack)

Usually I have a huge stack of fiction but at the moment two of the three at the top of my TBR are non-fiction; Made Well by Jenny Simmons and Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. Rounding them out is My Hope Next Door by Tammy L. Gray.


To close, will you share with us a favorite snippet from your upcoming novel to whet our appetite? And be sure to include the links where we can buy a copy!

So many choices but most of them would probably be spoilers so this one is a snippet from Chapter 2, just before Peter and Emelia meet :)

Lifting her left hand, Emelia brushed the wood with her fingertips, then placed her palm flat against the cool surface.
Looking over her shoulder, she scanned the space. No one. The only sound was the low, muffled voice of the guy on the phone in the other room.
Biting her bottom lip, she let her fingers run along the side of the door. The wardrobe tugged at her, the way all wardrobes like this had since she was a little girl.
Wherever you are, Emmy, you will always find safety in here. And one day, one day, you and me? We'll find the wardrobe.
The words her mom had whispered to her tiptoed through her mind. Whispers of the past that haunted her every step.
The door swung open without even a squeak. Smoothly, on hinges that felt like they'd been oiled seconds ago, even though the cobwebs in the top corner told a different story.
She stuck her head in. Darkness met her like a warm embrace. For all the unfulfilled promises her mother had made, for some reason the one about always feeling safe in wardrobes had stuck. Along with the compulsion to continue her mother's lifelong mission to find the one.
There were rules, of course. No feeling for the back until you were inside. No playing it safe, keeping your feet on the outside and reaching out. You had to commit. Narnia would never be found by those who were uncertain or ambivalent.


___________________

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

New Cover Art Reveal!!

Erica Here:

I am thrilled to share the cover art for my February 2017 release The Bounty Hunter's Baby! (If you are subscribed to my newsletter, you get this information FIRST! Subscribe HERE.)



Brought Together by a Baby 
Bounty hunter Thomas Beaufort has no problem handling outlaws, but when he's left with a criminal's baby to care for, he's in over his head. And the only person he can think of to ask for help is Esther Jensen, the woman whose heart he broke when he left town. But can he convince her to put aside the past until he tracks down the baby's outlaw father? 
Esther is ready to run Thomas off her Texas ranch—until she spies the abandoned newborn in his arms. Soon, working together to care for the precious babe stirs old hopes of a family. With trouble heading to their door, they could overcome it together—if she'll entrust her wary heart to this sweet, second-chance family…

You can Pre-Order the book HERE



Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A Book, A Writer, A Publisher

I have a story to tell you all.

Many years ago -- many, cause I'm 40 now -- a 13 year old girl closed the pages on a Nancy Drew novel and decided one day she would write mysteries. Not long after, she closed the pages on a Janette Oke novel and decided one day she would write historical romance. Later, she closed the pages on a Tracie Peterson novel and decided she would write historical romance with a mysterious plot. She also studied every Christian Book Distributor catalog and found every Bethany House Publisher novel and studied the covers, the authors, the words. Bethany House was, after all, the epitome of publishers, wasn't it?

Fast forward. This same girl was 15 years old and finally completed her first novel. Excited and anticipating, she mailed it to Bethany House Publishers with a SASE in case of rejection. Sure enough, not long after, it was returned with a lovely letter from the editor telling me they felt I had talent for a young teenager, and to keep writing. Best rejection letter an editor could send to a sensitive, not-yet-used-to-criticism, kid.

Fast forward. From ages 15-26 she had written three novels. None of which garnered any interest from editors, and most definitely not from Bethany House. And then came the awful day when publishing houses closed down to unsolicited manuscripts and a writer needed an agent to represent them. It was as if a massive hurdle was placed before this girl. So she quit writing.

Fast forward. This girl began writing fan emails to her favorite author. Just emails to encourage her, not to be a stalker. She was 30 now, and life had moved far beyond being a writer, although occasionally she dabbled in it just because ... it was in her blood. Said author emailed her back! A relationship via email was birthed and what this girl meant to be an encouragement for the author became an encouragement for her. She picked up her pen (or computer) and began to write again. Seriously.

Fast forward. This girl had meanwhile been married to a pirate who stole her heart with an "argh!" and noticed occasionally she'd work on stories as she had for many years. This pirate sent her to a writer's conference two years in a row where finally, she panicked -- give me a break, she left a six month old Tinkerbell at home -- and raced to the prayer room. A man sat there on his cell phone and when he hung up he profusely apologized.
"I'm so sorry. I'm here to pray with people, but this call came in. It's my baby girl. She needed me."
Release the tears! She started sobbing and said, "that's why I'm here. I miss my baby girl!"
So they prayed. Then he introduced himself.
Oh no big deal. He was just TRACIE STINKIN' PETERSON'S HUSBAND!

Fast forward two more years. (By now you've figured out this girl was me, right?) I drug my six month pregnant self home from work early on a January day. I was fed up with people -- it'd been a hard day, don't judge -- so I crawled into bed for an afternoon nap. Before drifting off to sleep, I checked my email on my phone. A suspicious looking email popped into the inbox. "Raela Schoenherr". No clue who that was. But I opened it. She stated "this may seem weird", but I "saw you on Twitter", I'm from "Bethany House Publishers", and wondered "if you had a book proposal you'd like to send me".

Yeah. Sure. I'll send you my book proposal, Twitter Creeper, so you can plagiarize my work. (Cause we all know my writing was so amazing in 2012 that people were LINING up to steal it).

I forwarded the email to my writing mentor and said, "seriously, is this lady legit?" A few minutes later, I received an email back "yeah, I never heard of her. Let me check into it". A few minutes late, "JAIME! She's legit! She's a new acquisitions editor at Bethany House Publishers!"

Fast forward. 1 book, 1 very kind acquisitions editor, 1 very kind rejection letter. 2nd book. Same very kind acquisitions editor, 1 super nice rejection letter. We met in 2012 and 2013, over coffee, at the writer's conference. But my books were either not quite ready, or not quite right. Regardless, this "Twitter Creeper" was anything but, and became a wonderful encourager in my writing journey. SO much so, that in 2013 I had the courage to pitch one of those novels to an agent, Mary Keeley. Within three months, she offered to represent me. YAY! I had an agent! That massive hurdle? We jumped it.

2014, 1 more novel, same editor, but this time no answer. No rejection, but no offer of contract. My agent said, that might be a good sign. My writing was improving, the stories becoming more intriguing.

Fast forward. 2015 my mentor (remember that super nice author I fangirled ages before?), she emailed me and said "You should write a split-story. Half historical, half contemporary. Tie them together with a suspense and see if editors are interested". When my mentor suggests, I typically act. I mean, she's published well over a million books so she must know her stuff. I emailed my agent who heartily agreed. I wrote the book. Same editor. This time? An affirmative rejection.

BUT.

This time the rejection came with a page of suggestions. Change this, edit that, spruce up this, cut out this character. So, I did. Because it only made sense and the story came alive to me in ways it hadn't before. My agent resubmitted it to Raela, my friend, this editor, this champion of my cause. And we waited ...

Fast forward. September 2016. An email popped into my inbox. "Are you sitting down?" My agent asked. Yes. I was also eating a burrito at a Mexican restaurant. I read and re-read the email. Then my phone rang. Mary. My agent.

WE DID IT.

So last week, I sat down in my Administrative Assistant's office, 27 years after the day I decided to be a writer of mystery with history and twists and turns. 27 years after I prayed that someday, maybe the Lord would bless me with Bethany House. 4 years after a Bethany House "creeper" :) stumbled into my Twitter profile and held out a hand of welcome. My admin snapped pictures as I picked up my pen and for a moment, I paused. I breathed deep.





None of this was an accident, a coincidence, and certainly not of my doing. It was orchestrated, designed, and offered as a gift. A gift I pray I never take for granted. Because sometimes, God does grant your dreams, down to the most minute details, but rarely does he do it in your timing.

Soli Deo Gloria.




Jaime Jo Wright
Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher's Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.

Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures atjaimejowright.com.

Web site: www.jaimejowright.com 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jaimejowright
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaimejowright 
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/jaimejowright 
Instagram: www.Instagram.com/jaimejowright 
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/13916081.Jaime_Jo_Wright
Periscope: @jaimejowright

Monday, October 17, 2016

If This House Could Talk...Generational Homes

Anne here.

Has your family passed down a home or farm through the generations? Or do you wish they had?

This summer I was able to visit the homestead of my 2x's great grandfather in northern Michigan. It's been in our family for five generations. While my direct family line hasn't lived on the farm in the last two generations, I'm glad that it's still in the family. Yet, I'm sure that passing on the family farm, or the family home, isn't the easiest task when there are scores of cousins and multi-generations.


Gregory Farm on Maple River, Michigan

Somehow, traversing those complexities of passing on homes, is more about legacy, nostalgia, and many memories that hold special meaning. Jaime's parents sold their family farm last year and I recall the heart-wrenching that went into letting it go.

There's something in all of us that likes to hang on to things or institutions that represent celebrating the best of times and surviving the worst of things together. We don't want the importance of what we've learned along the way to be forgotten.

Don't you just wonder sometimes if old houses could talk, what story would they tell?

I was raised in a remodeled one room school house where my parents still live. I wonder what conversations occurred there since 1888.

Old Brown Schoolhouse, built 1888

We found that my grandfather's family barn is still standing when we visited Michigan this summer. I wonder what conversations he had with his father before the farmhouse burned while they were at church, and before the flu epidemic of 1919 took my great grandfather. What conversation did my grandfather have with his mother when she decided to take the younger children and move back to Pennsylvania, yet he chose to stay in Michigan? Is that when they sold the family farm to a stranger who didn't know their stories?

Grandpa Newswanger's Fram

While doing the story research I talked about on last week's blog:   Research Road Trip: Up North                  I came across references to similar attachments to family summer cottages of Bay View Association. There was a common thread that ran between our family farm and those family cottages. Many of these cottages have been in their families for four generations or more. Face it, by the time a home is in a family that many generations--there are tons of cousins, and more to come.

It can become a challenge to maintain the stories and the meaning of a place after so long. Who keeps the stories alive?


Bay View, Michigan cottages

Once in a while, I just want to know--if this house could talk--what stories would it tell?

Would it tell of a child's skinned knee? A toddler's illness? A grieved widow's heartache? The whispered prayers of the lonely? The laughter of celebration and love? The faith that reached across the woodgrain of the family table? The warmth of belonging?

Even Anne Shirley's Green Gables still lives in all our hearts, right?!

Anne of Green Gables

Sure, we know that old things pass away to make way for new things, and we can't hang on forever.
What then shall we hang onto?

We all know intuitively, it's not the place, the institutions, or the things that actually hold the meaning for us.

It's the souls. The faith. Their love. The overcoming of trials and hardship. The community.
It's the sacredness of the places where grace touched us.
Where mercy prevailed. Where God's Spirit came down.
Where heaven touched earth.

Readers: 
I've met my word goal for the Rags and Riches Novella scheduled for publication July of 2017!



Please visit me at  www.anneloveauthor.com and sign up for my newsletter this week for a chance to win.

Every new reader who signs up for the newsletter this week will have a chance to win a free copy of Kara Isaac's new book Close To You, and Joanne Bishchof's latest release: The Lady and the Lion Heart. Winner will be announced next week.