Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Getting Rid of Televsion -- Making More Time

My mantra has always been that television DOES NOT take up a lot of my time. I mean, I wrote my last manuscript on ad breaks between NCIS, NCIS LA, Hawaii 5-0, and The Voice. It was finished in four months. Stellar. I also have two kids under the age of three, so who said you can't have toddlers and watch TV too? Dummies. I feel lonely without the background noise. What would I do without HGTV to show me all the projects I'll do someday? Like that marble backdrop in my shower, or the chalkboard painted wall in the kid's room?

My husband said we need better time management. So last week we sat down and figured out our lives.

Mondays: Work (both of us), kids with Nanny, Monday evening-housework & laundry (egad!)
Tuesdays: Work for me, work from home for Nate, kids running around, Tuesday nights-housework & more laundry
Wednesdays, Work for me, Nate work from home prepping for Wed youth group, kids dividing Daddy's time, Wednesday nights - Daddy to youth group with Kokomo Jo in tow and Peter Pan with Mommy to pick up the house, clean, write, watch TV, etc.
Thursdays ... k, you get the point? You live this life, don't you?

Nate pulled out a Ace card. "We need more time."
Me: "Duh."
Nate: "Where are we going to find it--daycare?"
Me: "NO!"
Nate: "People do it"
Me: "I'm not people"
Nate: "TV?"
Me: "Whaddya mean?"
Nate: "Well if we nix TV we gain 12 hours."
Me: "Huh? How?"
Nate: "Think about it."

He listed all the shows we "watch". But we don't LITERALLY watch them. We do other things WHILE we watch them. So it's not REALLY 12 hours.

Let's do a test run.

We test ran life without TV last week. Here are the results:

-- In one week I have edited 1/3 of my manuscript and added about 10,000 words, deepened my main character and now I actually like me speed-written book
--I read an entire novel, IN ONE NIGHT
--Kids are smiling (shock)
--We had family BREAKFAST this morning (hashbrowns, eggs, sausage, toast cooked by Daddy -- be jealous, very jealous)
--We read books before bed time, every night
--Daddy and Kokomo Jo went fishing
--Peter Pan and Mommy played cars
--Laundry is put away in one night
--the bathrooms are clean (WOW!)
--Kids toys are organized
--had a cookout at Gramma and Grampas
--Sunday school prepared for church early!
--Nate and I talked. Really talked. About...life. Us. Family. Fishing. Climbing. FUN STUFF

Test run complete.
Point made.
Mantra revisted.
TV... gone.

Here's your challenge... can you go ONE WEEK without TV and what changes?


Jaime Wright -

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

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Book Report: Forsaken Dreams by MaryLu Tyndall

Complex and interesting plot.
Layered characters.
Fateful, triumphant romance.
Book cover: A+ wow-factor.

Setting: In the wake of post Civil War, thousands of disillusioned Southerners chose to immigrate to Brazil to start a new life rather than face the Reconstruction of their devastated homeland. Tyndall's story begins at Charleston harbor and ends at the voyage's destination of Rio De Janeiro. It had been advertised that in Brazil, there was plenty of cheap farmland for sugercane and cotton, as well as continued tolerance for slavery.

Plot: The first in her series, Escape to Paradise, Tyndall sets the stage with a cast of characters chosen for their skills to form a new Brazilian colony, who much reminded me of the varied and suspicious characters in a game of Clue, or a classic Who-Done-It stage play. Along the voyage, this cast of would-be colonists are rife with post war sins, mistakes, and wounds that both pit them against one another and bind them together. Stuck together on a vessel of survival, they face many trials that test them and teases the reader's curiosity about how they will overcome such odds.

Romance: Eliza Crawford and Colonel Blake Wallace have seen enough death to last a life time--she as a Civil War nurse for the South, and he as a Confederate Colonel. The attraction between the two sparks the moment the voyage begins, but secrets and post war emotional wounds threaten to drive the two apart. Eliza can't help but wonder how different her life might have been had she not married her late husband, Stanton Watts, a general in the Northern army. Seen as a traitor for marrying a Northerner, after the war she is rejected in the North and the South and seeks the shores of Brazil to start a new life where her marriage can remain secret and her loyalties aren't questioned. As the voyage traverses the globe, Eliza and Blake's wounds and pasts fatefully intersect, entangling them in a web of love and bitterness. Tyndall's story of their triumph is adventurous and sweet that weaves a spiritual theme of forgiveness deep into the very heart of this romance.

Bio: A Christy Award finalist and best-selling author, MaryLu Tyndall dreamt of tall ships and swashbuckling pirates during her childhood years on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. She holds a degree in Math and worked as a software engineer for fifteen years before testing the waters as a writer. Now, with over a dozen novels published, she continues to pen her romantic tales while managing a home, husband, six adult kids, and three cats who have decided that her keyboard is the best place to sleep!  She believes that without popcorn and chocolate, life would not be worth living, and her sole motivation in life is to bring others closer to God. For more information on MaryLu and her books, please visit her website at http://www.marylutyndall.com or her blog at http://crossandcutlass.blogspot.com/ or you can find her on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/MaryLu-Tyndall-Swashbuckling-Romance/175344859169475

For a chance to win a free copy (continental U.S. & Canada only), leave a comment here or on Facebook:
I'm happy to introduce you to MaryLu. This is the first time I've read her work.
If you've read her works before, please list your favorites in the comments.
If you've never read her works before, do ship stories intrigue and hook your interest?
Do you like Civil War stories?

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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Friday, April 26, 2013

Winner of Jody Hedlund's "A Noble Groom"

Congrats Pegg! I'll email you privately for a shipping address then head on over to Amazon and order you a copy.

A new book report will post TOMORROW!! Anne is deeply immersed in her read of Mary Lu Tyndall's latest. So hang tight -- another great book review coming your way :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What's Your Coffee?

It's Thursday ... it's coffee time! This morning I'm sucking it down. My baby boy is sick with a bad sinus infection.. Nothing sweeter than a little guy snuggling into your neck and gripping your shirt with his little hands while blowing green bubbles out his nose. *cough-er-year*.

I'm using a new creamer-- White Chocolate Caramel. It's good. I'm not a huge white chocolate fan but in a nutty flavored coffee, it does its job well.

Left on my list to do this week: 

  1. Finish Monday's laundry :P
  2. Work on revisions
  3. Photo shoot for a friend's two kiddos 
  4. Help DH lead a middle school climbing excursion
  5. Nurse my little Peter Pan back to good health
  6. Clean bathrooms
Somehow I have a feeling something will fall through the cracks (laundry). What's left on your plate before some R&R on Sunday?


Jaime Wright -

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

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Location, Location, Location

It's funny when you have a trip that gets into your blood. Every year at this time I started smelling, sensing, tasting Europe. I went there in 2007 with my sister-in-law and backpacked for three weeks. It was everything you dream of. The Austrian pastries, the thick smell of Venice canals, the dark gloom of Dachau, and the chaotic spirt of the Colloseum. Today I'm longing to return to Innsbruck. It's the mountain town of my heart. Nestled in the Austrian Alps. Mmmm. Their coffee? To die for. The streets? Old. Worn. Travelled by hundreds of people centuries before I ever did. It's wealthy in history, culture, and the fine balance between city and wilderness.

Location is truly everything. Ever have that vacation to a place you never want to return? I have. Think Arkansas, cockroaches, and a moth eaten sheet at a hotel. Sigh. Never going back there. But a great scene for a crime novel!

What is it about a location that makes a NOVEL intrigue us? When I met with an editor a few years ago one of her big questions was ... location? I discover, believe it or not, overseas locations for novels are not high in demand -- too unrelatable. Montana, Texas, California...common in historicals and been done, but still doing. East coast? Common in Revolutionary War novels. Maine or Nantucket sneaks into Contemporaries. Midwest? Somewhat boring. Sorry.

So I've been keeping track of locations in the novels I've been reading. Trying to find the uniquest settings for a book.

Here's my top five:
  1. Appalachian Mountains -- as seen in CHRISTY AWARD WINNER Joanne Bischof's book "Be Still My Heart"
  2. Boston -- as seen in Elizabeth Camden's book "Against the Tide"
  3. Michigan -- as seen in Jody Hedlund's book "Unending Devotion"
  4. Alaska - as seen in Dani Pettrey's book "Shattered"
  5. Illinois - as seen in Krista Phillips book "Sandwich, with a Side of Romance
I think they're my top five simply because you don't see those locations frequently in a novel. I loved the way the authors immersed the reader in those locations. So critical to a good book, don't you think?

So as I sit and reminisce about my European wanderings and wish for the hot espresso at the cafe just off the beaten path ... I want to know, what are some of YOUR favorite locations that gripped you in a novel you read?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Historical Romance...Starts with Research?!

Where do I look for primary source information to research my historical works of fiction?

A primary what? A primary source. It's considered an actual document from someone who lived in the time period you are researching. Most genealogical research centers in your local library will have compiled histories obtained from primary sources for that locale. Other examples include the family Bible, the U.S. Federal Census, personal letters, wills, and probate records, which are court documents for things like guardianships, birth, death, and marriage records.

used w/ permission: www.freedigitialphotos.net

I love to research family history and have had a lot of practice doing it since I was thirteen and helped my mom with genealogy. But how do I find out about the more tedious details of daily living to help flesh out your understanding of historical time periods? How do I find more accurate details to help make your historical fiction more interesting and reflective of the time?

used w/ permission: www.freedigitalphotos.net

I stumbled upon a fantastic primary resource in an antique mall two years ago. I had read about pioneer homes of the 19th century having a volume of works for the purpose of having access to common medical treatments of the time. Much of frontier and rural America did not have ready access to a local physician, so this volume was heavily used by families and written in an easily understandable manner for common folk. I had only dreamed of finding one of these! 

I had already combed the internet but didn't know a title or author's name to use for the search. While antique shopping in Shipshewana, Indiana, I stumbled on a copy of Dr. Chase's Last Complete Work.  Aha! I found it! Tingling with excitement, I purchased my $35 copy copyrighted in 1903. It is a 3rd edition, a Memorial Edition compiling all the former works he'd ever published which date back to pre-Civil War.

This book contains everything! The contents page lists not only medical helps but also food for the sick, cooking recipes, and other information for the "departments" of toilet, dairy, domestic animals, agriculture, mechanical, and bee-keeping. For instance, on page 161, it lists the English Remedy for seasickness as noted in the British Medical Journal. It was basically the internet of the 19th century--it was the place you looked to find an answer to your questions. Eureka!

Now if you think that publishing is changing now, just think, this article states that Dr. Chase's publications were second in sales only to the Bible in 1864. The building pictured above is the publishing house in Ann Arbor, MI, that Dr. Chase built to publish his own works. Here is a link to an interesting article.http://www.aadl.org/gallery/buildings/hhaa084.gif.html

Though his original work was only a 16 page pamphlet, the Memorial edition I purchased is 865 pages long including a wonderful index. In my current manuscript, my heroine is a physician. I've had a great time using this source for my story! 

Can you imagine living in a time when the extent of your medical services was a 865 page book?
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Being Still Never Suited Me

"You can't mess up God's plan for you". It was posted on my Facebook last night as I moaned and groaned about the horrific choice I had before me. Picking Agent appointments. Ugh. As the registration for only the BIGGEST CHRISTIAN WRITER'S event slaps me in the face today by opening WAY earlier than I was ready ... I sat and quivered, quaked, and finally curled into a ball and rocked back and forth.

What agent? An editor? Should I meet with an editor? No. An agent. I need an agent. Wait. But what if--no. I like this agent. She's cool. But approachable. I could probably just give her a huge hug in the hallway and she'd smile back and not think I was odd. I like this agent. He's ... scary. Tall too. Scary tall. There's censor in his eyes. I wonder if he eat rocks for breakfast?

"You can't mess up God's plan for you." Huh? Really? Did He calculate in me NOT picking the agent HE wanted me to pick? Sigh. What IS God's plan? AND WHY DOESN'T HE SHARE IT WITH ME?

When I finished hyperventilating like a little girl, I decided to search out Scripture. Of course, I'm led to the one verse that drives me nuts. "Be still and know that I am God."

Being still. It's not me. C'mon. I practically bleed coffee. Do you really think I can sit still? I'm not A.D.D. I have a long attention span actually, but I'm impatient, I need to have a plan, I need to keep thinking, striving. Being still. Dumb idea. SLAP! I sorta like it when God back slaps my head. It stuns me into silence. I can almost hear Him. "Jaime. Shut. Up."
KNOW that I AM ... it's what He called Himself to Moses at the burning bush and to Pharoah who was encompassed by gods. I AM. Top of the pyramid, so to speak. I AM the ONLY God. None other exist.

God's got this. The same God who parted the Red Sea, crushed the walls of Jericho, and rose from the dead ... he tells ME to "Be still" ... He's attentive to me, loves me, cherishes me, and knows me. "Know that I am God."

The end. Nothing more to say.  So I enter today with a registration complete, agent requests sent, and a heart knowing that God will do amazing things...I just need to be still and watch Him work in ways I never imagined.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Book Report: A Noble Groom, by Jody Hedlund

Well, Jody ... you did it again. You wrote another winner. Gosh I love Jody's books -- and they just keep getting better and better! If you haven't read Jody's books yet, you're missing out.
She envelopes you in German heritage in A Noble Groom. But as is Jody's fashion, you're not overwhelmed with historical facts, nor are you underwhelmed by story. It's a perfect blend of culture, history, life in the 19th Century, and romance.
Setting: Jody stays in her state of Michigan, in the German farmlands and the culture of immigrant German miners. I had no idea of the stress these immigrants were under just to maintain ownership of their land. At the mercy of weather and landlords, America's dream of "free land" didn't necessarily apply in the MidWest.
Characters: Rich. Literally. Carl Richards is a nobleman from Germany in disguise. Announcing his noble birth wouldn't sit well with the settlement of oppressed Germans who left living under noblemen's thumbs in the Homeland. I really appreciated how Jody showed Carl's weakness without making him lack manliness. That's a trick in itself when you're a writer. His passion to care for the heroine didn't jump him to hero status as he cursed the plow, the farm, and everything he didn't love about this new land. Annalisa is a sweet heroine. Her background of oppression carried into a tradition of marriage and accustomed to dominating fathers and husbands, she is the proverbial German wife. Speak when spoken to, care for the children, be strong, don't expect grace or love or tenderness.
Romance: Carl is a fairy tale to Annalisa. An engima. His gentleness, his care, his tenderness seems more like a cruel trick and she expects it to dissolve. The chemistry between Carl and Annalisa is poignant and strong. Love it. Lots of romance, purity, and hope in their relationship, even when the odds are against them.
Plot: The main thrust of this novel is survival and finding grace in a land where very little abounds. Of course, there's an antagonist, but in the end, he's not the primary focus. However, even without a suspense plot or high tension, Jody keeps this book moving. There are NO slow points. I never once wished it would speed up. She keeps this story pacing and you'll stay up til the wee hours to finish it. :)
I loved it. You will too!! So enter to win your own copy--not my copy, but one I'll ship to you via Amazon 'cause this one goes on my 'keeper' shelf :)
What's your favorite Hedlund novel and why?
Winner of LAST WEEK'S Book giveaway Heiress of Winterwood is: VICKI MARNEY!!

Jaime Wright -

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

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

What's Your Tea?

I know it's Thursday, and the routine is that we chat about coffee today.

Except I'm feeling somber, and couldn't think about a fun bubbly coffee post this week when I heard about the Boston Bombing. I kept thinking about tea because the only other violence I recall in Boston is the Boston Tea Party and the Massacre. I'm not an expert historian, but in case you don't recall the Massacre happened when a group of rebels attacked British soldiers. It was the focal point of the events that led up to growing public resistance and finally to the Revolution.

This week's bombing happened during the celebration of Patriot's Day, the day we celebrate the first battles of the American Revolution at Lexington and Concord.

I raise my teacup to remember the freedom that was bought for me with a heavy price of sacrifice. I bend my knee in prayer for those who lost loved ones this week in Boston, and the wounded who are recovering from their wounds.

Some of my ancestors came to this country in 1710 to find freedom of religion and freedom from persecution. Some of my husband's ancestors fought in the Revolution to give them that freedom. While the rest of us wait to learn who might be responsible, we wonder about the future of our freedom.

Let us not forget the freedom we have.  John 8:36: "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." There is no law or action of mankind that can defeat this kind of freedom.

I challenge you all to make a cup of tea. Say prayers for Boston and for those you know as you drink your tea.

Feel free to add a prayer here for those affected.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Vote on My Pinterest Board--"Old Homesteads"

Help me decide about the backstory for the hero in my book by clicking on the link to my Pinterest page (link below, keep reading) and clicking the "like" button.

I finished my first draft of my Historical Romance in February. I shelved it for a little hiatus and a some professional stretching of my aching neck and shoulders after hours sitting at the computer this winter, birthing this story.

Jaime also finished her first draft. We celebrated with a great writer's weekend in March, highlighted on this blogpost: Liquid Sunshine at the Blue Spoon. Now we are diving into the first round of edits to fix the big things. This involves cutting dead parts and deepening characters, motivation and goals.
The great thing about being critique partners with Jaime is that we compliment each other. We are brutally honest. We laugh a lot--and vent, and cry, and pray for each other. Knuckle bump, girl--you are awesome.

After the read through of each other's manuscripts and a review of the overall pace and structure, we've been brainstorming about the need for the bigger edits.
Jaime is deepening her characters. 
I'm fixing some plot & structure. 

So, in my morning ritual this week, inspiration struck: I need to fix my hero's backstory. My hero left the Northern woods of Wisconsin years ago to "go west, young man."  Now, he's been-there-done-that, and has come up empty-handed, disillusioned, and widowed. He's spent the last ten years trying to numb the pain of his loss and finally it's time to come back home to the North woods of Wisconsin.

In my first draft, my hero needed a reason to come back home. I had him sort of coming back home for no real reason other than to "be there" when his late best friend's son comes of age and needs a father figure.

But Jaime was right: it's weak!

My new inspiration: he must come home to either invest in serious repairs to his abandoned family homestead and find a way to fill it with a family of his own, or sell it and admit his dream for a family of his own--is dead. He's taken a position as head security detail at the local ice harvest yards, hoping he won't see the violence he'd experienced as a sheriff out West--the kind of action that killed his best friend.

I envision this abandoned homestead in the rural woods, not falling down, but in need of some TLC. This homestead is where he grew up, but his parents have died and his brother let it fall into disrepair before unloading it on him.

This homestead will come to represent the condition of his soul--in need of repair.

VOTE HERE: I've posted some ideas on my Pinterest boards on "Old Homesteads"--Come by and vote on your favorite picture--the one you envision for my hero. Just click on the "like" button of your favorite homestead picture.

I love to use Pinterest to pin some of my research and find some inspiration. I'm excited this week to have hit 1,000 followers, and hope you join me there. The other pins I have for my manuscript are under the board titled "Current WIP".

Do you use Pinterest?
If yes, what do you use it for the most?
Do you like having a picture in mind, or leaving it to the imagination?

Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. Nurse Practitioner by day. Wife, mother, writer by night. Coffee drinker--any time.
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Open up - And Eat the Cheesecake

I'm thinking more and more about registration opening for the upcoming writer's conference Anne and I will attend in September. It had me perusing old blog posts from my first conference. When I saw this one, I had to laugh. So, I'm caving and posting it (written in 2009 when I was six months pregnant with Kokomo Jo and the year ANNE AND I FIRST MET!)... does any one relate to my social faux pas -- in ANY arena? :)*** 
 Ok, so we all have our social faux pas that we tend to make at social events with social people where you're supposed to be social and not faux-pas-ing. Enter Jaime's first year at the ACFW Conference. I was more than confident in my ability to wander into a hotel alone, knowing no one, and find my way to my room ... ahem.
Faux Pas #1: Never ASSUME anything. After searching the Marriot Tech Center for roughly - oh - 10 min - I still couldn't find my room. I could find an elevator, yes, but for this seasoned traveller (not kidding) it didn't occur to me that Room #314 might just possibly be on the 3rd floor. However, in my defense, there was more than one elevator, more than one "tower" of rooms, and goodness knows pregnant women lose 8% of brain function, so cut me a break. I finally had to get an escort from the front desk to take me to my room. She was rather patronizing. She even inserted the key card into the lock for me. Sheesh. Do I have "Stupid" written on my forehead? DON'T! answer that.
Faux Pas #2: Never greet a fellow blogger that you've not met in person with a - "I knew it was you because you were so tall!"   One, consider the effect that may have on a fellow blogger who believes you've never seen them in person. How would a virtual "friend" know you were tall? Creepy. I'm suprised Jessica didn't whack me over the head and scream, "Stalker!" Secondly, who wants to be identified by a physical feature - even if it is one of their best. That's like someone saying to, "JAIME!! I knew it was you because of your rather large posterior!" - and for the record, that's NOT one of my best features.

Faux Pas #3: When trying to "reach out" and touch someone. Know who you're talking to. I saw a woman standing alone. Awww. I bet she feels like I do. I reached out --she was nice, although looked at me a tad odd.

What? You're lonely. I'm trying to welcome you. Are you a writer? Oh. You're an author. Ok. Have you been here before? No. Oh. Neither have I. What's your name? So nice to meet you.

Great conversation, until you Google the author and find out she's a primary, major speaker at Women of Faith conferences, uber famous, and ridiculously well versed in socializing. Yeah. She didn't need me to reach out -- she was probably seeking a desperate moment of solace and I busted in. BUT, my lovely, wonderful, sweet Kim Cash Tate! You've become a great friend and I so love your encouragment to me and your friendship.

Faux Pas #4: When trying to make a good impression on an agent, do not - may I repeat - do not steal their chair and and eat their cheesecake. A contract will most likely not ensue from that conversation. However, may I just ask, how was I supposed to know the "universal" sign for saving a chair for an agent is a black napkin tossed over the back of a chair? Who does that anyway? Tip the chair over, put a purse in it, a plate of butter ... anything! A whoopee cushion would've made the point better than a black napkin. AND, may I also add, that having a published author point out I was in the agent's chair and then stare at me down their nose as though I was a delinquent, rebellious child was rather ... demeaning. So I puffed out my pregnant belly and stood, graciously picking up my plate of food and saying, "I'm so sorry. I had no idea. I'll find another place to sit." AND THEN!! It hit me. There was a dessert plate of pre-designated cheesecake. How much did I really like Chip MacGregor? Considering I hadn't yet totally abandoned his chair, was consuming his food and was now staring at his cheesecake? Not much. I reached for the cheesecake - contract schmontract, this is cheesecake people!!

For the record, it was a great conference ... the cheesecake was simply delicious! :)

What social faux pas have you committed? :) Regale us on this Super Tuesday! :)
Jaime Wright -

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

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sometimes It Just Ain't Pretty...

Daughters of today are told they can be anything. Do anything. Go anywhere. 

They are told to dream and dream big-- you can do it all.

But the truth is, we can't do it all.

I'm not a super woman, (no secret to many I'll admit). I cannot work 45 hours a week, do all the dusting, vacuuming, laundry, shopping, bill paying, kid toting, church meetings, exercise, proper diet, good sleep, gardening, canning, freezing, daily devotions, and of course--still be "the good wife"--the one who doesn't need too much, whine too much, spend too much, or say too much. And my kids didn't even participate in sports! <inhale sharply>

Something's got to give! There just aren't enough hours in the day.
Face it, there just isn't enough coffee for all that.

Stop the madness. I'm here to say: it's okay. Let go. Get off the merry-go-round before you throw up!

Don't forget: You are enough.

Believe it: You are beautiful, even when you pulled on sweats and your unwashed hair into a pony-tail to run to the store to get milk and pop tarts on Saturday morning--and saw three perfectly beautiful people you know well despite ducking beneath the cover of your hoodie!

And: even though you've just prayed to become invisible--you aren't invisible. You are quite necessary. You are the only one who can be the heroine in your story. You are irreplaceable.

And: if your prince charming fell off his steed just before he reached you <ahem,cough>--take heart. Brush him off, and wait for him to get back up there and come for you <oh, and he probably needs more prayer>

So, when you've overbooked, overcommitted, overstretched your brain, your spirit, soul, and aging body---and it just ain't feelin' so pretty......

Don't forget, somethings got to give.

Kneel at His cross. Lay your heart wide. 
And Let Him breath on you while you wait for Him.....

Isaiah 30:41: "Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary." NAS

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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Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Report: The Heiress of Winterwood by Sarah Ladd

Delightfully enjoyable.
Compelling characters.
Magnetic hook.
Romantic believability.
Stunning cover.

Huzzah to debut author Sarah E. Ladd!
This is what I love to see in a new author. She has worked hard to hand us a well crafted story that pulls you within pages and keeps you up past bedtime! Such quality promises great things to come from Sarah.

Setting: Darbury, England, 1814. I was swept once again to memories of the moors and manors of Austen's Jane Eyre--Thornfield Hall, and the wondrous stone manors of George MacDonald's works. In a time where women's wealth existed not for their independence or power, Ladd's heroine is caught between complying with the wishes of others or remaining true to her word. Her promise to a friend.

Romance: I love a great period film. By page 24, I could see this story as a movie unfolding before me. Sweet as a Jane Austen film with veiled tension filling every word of dialogue. Swoon factor to the max with Graham Sterling. From the very first two chapters, I was rooting for Graham and Amelia Barrett.

Plot & Characters: When Amelia Barrett promises to raise her dying friend's daughter, she cannot bare to abandon the child to a life of motherlessness. She defies family expectations to risk her heart and wealth in order to keep her word.

She concocts a bold plan to propose to the child's father--a sea captain she's never laid eyes on!

Graham Sterling has loved the surety his captaincy has given him, but a new daughter and her beautiful caretaker weave their way into his wake, and to a marriage arrangement that redefines his idea of a comfortable future.

Theme: The expected path, the obvious easy road ahead, or the predictable routine of our past life--may not be the path we should take as we look to the future. But so often, we are afraid to make a drastic diversion from the expected. What blessings might we forego when we are too afraid to step out and grasp a hold a the path God has set for us--one of dependence on His will, and a surrender of our own? What is gained is by far richer than what is lost.

Overall, I loved the pace and balance of plot, description, dialogue, suspense, and romance.
So, HUZZAH Sarah! I can't wait to read your coming releases in the future.

Questions: leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy, add yourself to our blog followers for another chance to win, or leave a Facebook comment for another chance. Winner announcement April 19th.
Do you love regency? or Jane Austen?
What is your favorite period film and why?
Have you ever chose a path against all that was expected of  you in order to follow your conscience? or what you believe to be God's will?

Sarah's Bio:

In addition to a lifetime of writing and exploring fiction, Sarah has more than ten years of strategic marketing and brand management experience. She lives in Indiana and is blessed to share her life with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and very lovable Golden Retriever.


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

Thursday, April 11, 2013

What's your coffee?

Its April 11th and we're having an ice storm. I'm writing this post on my phone and hoping I can get to work...this is Peter Pan last night. Its been a heavy yesterday into today. BUT! we have Jazzy Java flavor at work today. Dumb name, great taste!

But I could use a size of spring...

What's up in your Thursday?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pieces of History--What Inspires My Fiction

I've been thinking a lot about what inspires me to even dream of fiction writing.

I think it's pieces of history that spark my curiosity and make me imagine the truth behind the history. For instance, I recently bought an antique soapstone foot warmer.

I love to set it on our wood stove until it's toasty warm, then I take it to my office and rest my feet on it while I write. What about this piece of history? How old is it? Who used it? Did a young lady use it in her carriage or sleigh in the cold midwestern winters? Is soapstone native around here? Was it handcrafted from local natural resources or ordered from afar? What 19th century gowns draped the chilly legs of the fair maidens who rested their patten leather shoes upon it?

And that's only the beginning. With a little push from the reality of history, it doesn't take much for the imagination to go wild! And that's why I love historical fiction.

Recently my mother was sent this family heirloom, a quilt that is 100 years old. The relative who sent it knew that my mother has researched our family history and wanted it to go to someone who would cherish it.

I researched on the internet what kind of pattern: "King's Crown". It was hand pieced of cotton with cotton batting between the layers. The stitches are exquisitely tiny. My Grandma Emma would have smiled quietly, bent over, and proudly run her fingers over these tiny stitches, admiring the fine craft of the woman's hands who'd spent hours over this quilt.

So why didn't this quilt just stay locked up in some granddaughter's hope chest? 

To find the answer, my daughter, my mother, and I packed it up, and took a road trip to see some cousins, Rufus and Thelma Martin. Thelma has a whole room of her home for her genealogy library. Rufus is my mother's second cousin. This trip reminds me not only of the time I stepped into yesteryear at my Great Aunt Mattie's, it is treasured because I got to tell Rufus a treasured memory of his brother, Jason Martin, who prayed over me when I was 14 years old that the Holy Spirit would enter my heart and annoint my life. As I watched him tell my daughter how he handcrafted this hutch, I recalled the same gentle spirit of love and conviction that could reach to the younger generation without seeming stuffy or too old fashioned.

As we looked through the genealogy we found that the woman who made the quilt, married my great great grandfather, John W. Martin--but she had no children of her own. So the quilt was handed down to her step children, and the siblings of the woman who made it lived far away from her. So she wouldn't have given it to her nieces or nephews. We see her in the 1900 Indiana Census, with eight children still living at home, now ages 8 to 20. I wonder who slept beneath this quilt?

I wonder about the woman who quilted it, and how it would have been to not have children of her own, yet become the step mother to John's nine children, ages 1 to 15. They married in 1893--the same year his first wife, Susannah, died. And though it's wonderful to have this piece of history, it's more wonderful to remember this gentle loving spirit that I see in Rufus, I knew in Jason and in my Grandpa John. If my Great Great Grandfather John W. Martin was anything like them, I can see why Catherine L. Weaver married him and became the mother of his nine children. And I can imagine that the love they shared beneath this quilt was one that God Himself breathed His grace upon. Certainly she found a way to let God's love and grace flow to these motherless children, or I'm certain the generations that followed would have held bitterness closer than love, and brokenness closer than healing.

I labor over my fiction, much like Catherine labored over the tiny stitches of her quilt. I don't want my stories to be locked in a hope chest somewhere, never pulled out or cherished, or passed on. I want to find the truth behind the history, the story behind the symbols left behind--that show us how God works in the lives of those He loves.

I wonder how she would have told her true story?
What symbols of God's faithfulness will you leave behind for the coming generations?
Will they know your story?
Will they know the Truth behind it?

Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Motivation

How do you feel about Mondays? Coupled with a good cup of early morning coffee, I find them somewhat palateable, but many Mondays I'm with the polar bear to the left ... and don't look much better.

What motivates you? What inspires you to live--wholeheartedly, energetic and inspired?

I spoke to our local youth group about a month ago and the Scripture verse from James 5 leapt off the page:

"Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand." - James 5:8

Establish your heart -- I love the words the Lord chooses to emphasize His point. Establish. Webster's describes it as "to insitute permanently", to "make firm or stable". Your heart, first and foremost must be established in Jesus. Permanent, unshakeable, steadfast.

The coming of the Lord is at hand -- this doesn't indicate sitting in our lawn chair staring up at the sky waiting for the clouds to part and Jesus to descend on a white horse. While His return is inevitable, this verse encourages us to be ESTABLISHED and live like today is our last. Like Jesus is returning. That brings so many implications with it... what do I want to be found doing when Jesus returns? Cursing under my breath when my voicemail at work is full on my entry Monday morning? Yelling at the kids 'cause they missed the bus? Scowling at my daughter because she forgot to potty--in the potty and not her pants? Irrated at the husband because he left dirty dishes on the coffee table?

What is my motivation on a Monday? To start refreshed, rejuvinated. Today is my last. Jesus is coming. Am I established in Him? Can I greet the day, my co-workers, my kids, my spouse, my in-laws, with love and a desire to communicate Jesus?

May we start this week rooted and founded in our Lord. Motivated to serve. Living like it's our last. So instead of "Monday-sometimes you just can't handle them", it becomes, "Monday--sometimes you just have to live them--with anticipation".

Let your Monday be blessed!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

The Moses Conspiracy -- Author Interview with Susan Reinhardt

A special Saturday interview bonus for you, from my good friend Susan Reinhardt and her new book, The Moses Conspiracy!

1. What inspired you to write The Moses Conspiracy?

 My late husband and I visited Gettysburg prior to Christmas in 2004. While standing in the old town square, surrounded by history, I could "hear" the forefathers' voices. However, they were like fading echoes.

After several failed attempts to write non-fiction pieces, I put it on the back burner and prayed for direction. In August 2005, my husband and I were talking about "the Gettysburg experience," and he said, "That's it!  That's your book! And you'll write it in 4 months and call it Ghosts of the Past."

I thought he was crazy, but caught the vision. The name changed to Echoes of the Past and later to The Moses Conspiracy. When I sat down at the computer, I had no clue what I was going to write. By Christmas 2005, I had 55,000 words.

2. How long did it take you to write the book? Was it an easy journey?

The first draft took 4 months, but then I had to learn how to write fiction. I cut my writing teeth on this book. There were multiple re-writes while I shopped it around. It took 8 years to write, get a contract, and an agent.
The journey was far from easy. From 2006-2007, I wrote very little due to my husband's battle with leukemia, death, and subsequent challenges. When I came through the grief process, I knew I had to finish the book both in his memory and because I felt the Lord had directed me to write it.

3. What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

 There are several messages, including the faithfulness of God during difficult times, the importance of protecting our freedoms, and building strong family relationships.

 4. What genre is your book?

 I loosely define The Moses Conspiracy as Christian Speculative Fiction because it takes place in 2025. Although it takes place in the near future, I've avoided a lot of techno-babble. One take-away I wanted for the reader was the possibility this or something similar could happen.

5.  Please give us a thumbnail sketch of The Moses Conspiracy.

A trip to post-terrorized Washington, D.C. in 2025 and an unusual buggy accident in Bird-in-Hand, PA set in motion events that expose a diabolical plan to destroy the Christian community. Ellie and John Zimmerman find themselves embroiled in a life-threatening investigation, fighting a shadowy enemy.

6.  What are you working on now?

The Moses Conspiracy is the first book in a trilogy. Book 2, with a working title of, "The Scent of Fear," takes place 3 years after the initial story. The rough draft is written and is now in the editing stage. The third book, "Lost and Found," is still in its infancy. Each book is a stand-alone novel, but builds upon the previous plotline.

7.  Tell us a little about your writing background.

I've written for many years, but only started my publishing journey 10 years ago. Non-fiction is my first love, and I'd still like to produce a devotional or other non-fiction book down the road. I digress. I've had numerous devotions, short pieces, and a few compilation stories published along the way.

Fiction has always interested me, but I never pursued it until a visit to Gettysburg in 2004 stuck in my mind.

8.  What advice would you give others on the writing path?

Each journey is different, but the main thing I'd advise is to stay true to the vision God has given you. That said, publication may come in non-traditional forms such as self-publishing, print-on-demand, or ebooks.

I considered all these options when shopping The Moses Conspiracy around the usual channels, but never felt a peace about them. Helping Hands Press, a small, independent, royalty publisher, and I connected with each other through a mutual friend, author Kathi Macias.

9.  Tell us about "the call."

LOL, it wasn't a call. It was actually a series of email communications. My eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw the subject line, "We want to work for you. Can we talk on the phone?"

 10.  How did you react?

I did the ol' Snoopy dance and then near-panic set in. This was the moment I'd waited for, but could I really do this? After a pep talk from my critique partners and good friends, I settled down and started checking off items on my to-do list. Yes, I have a list for everything!

11.  Where can readers get The Moses Conspiracy?

on Amazon! :)


Friday, April 5, 2013

Book Report: Love Finds You In Lake Geneva, by Pamela S. Meyers

Last week's winner: Sally tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net!!!
What a fun read by a new author! Love Finds You In Lake Geneva is a pleasant romance filled with Depression Era sentiment. Of course, Lake Geneva is an actual location in Wisconsin and I've been there -- since I live in Wisconsin. So it's fun to read a book from my home state!

Characters: Jack stole Meg's job at the newspaper. Well, not really. It never was truly hers. In a world that still embraces the male-only mentality, Meg has a hard time getting more than a newsy around-the-town column written. World War II is in the vague distance and women have yet to rise to the forefront of the working world. So, when Jack Wallace, son of a newspaper baron waltzes in and takes the one reporter position Meg had high dreams would be hers ... tension abounds.

Pamela does a great job of building the attraction between the two and she also captures Meg's reticence to even be attracted to Jack considering the death of her dream.

Setting: It's Lake Geneva. Lakefront mansion, a ballroom, newspaper, small town gossip, beauty shop and more. You can smell the hair chemicals from the early days of perms, the clop clop of the ladies' heels, taste the roast beef of Sunday dinner ... sigh ... even the Depression can't steal away the sentiment.

Plot: This is a romance. The plot is the romance. And while Meg struggles with deception, a pending move, and more, you're not going to be swept into an intense thriller. Meg and Jack's story is heartwarming amidst their struggles. This is the PERFECT book for a spring evening in a lawn chair with a cup of tea (hot or cold, sweet or straight), a light quilt, and a warm heart.

SO! To celebrate the coming of spring, my home state of Wisconsin and a great author ... I'm giving away a copy of Love Finds You In Lake Geneva! Enter to win by commenting below. Get a new friend to subscribe to our blog by becoming a follower (sidebar to the right) and receive an extra entry! (let us know in your comments).

Better yet-- I WILL ship this book out of the USA as long as shipping doesn't exceed $12 so you're good to go to enter 'cause I shipped one a few months ago to NZ and it was only $10 :)

Winner will be announced Wednesday, April 10th


Jaime Wright -

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

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Coffee At My House....

Announcing: New Group for anyone needing to belong....
or just needing a boost in your believing....
Meet: At my house. My name is Anne Love, and I have a problem....
Time: Caffeine allowed anytime up to 4p.m. (this can be fudged because it's always 4p.m. somewhere!)
Who: Anyone who feels...... overworked, underpaid, stressed out, low-down, two steps behind, overwhelmed, imperfect, drug through a knot-hole backwards, a day late, a dollar short, short on grace, in need of mercy, forgotten, run over, used up, wrung out, left out, carried away, swept up, worn out.
Why: Because life is too short to stay clamped up, cramped up, or hiding out. Everyone needs a reason to believe and a place to belong. 
What: Need you ask? (Caffeine of course!) But seriously, we joke about caffeine--because it represents our need. Our imperfection. Our desire to be enough, to have enough, to find enough, to feel enough. So, whether you drink it, love it, hate it--you're still invited--because we really just want to have a connection. A moment to feel that God is in His heaven, that all is well with the world, that everything will be okay. 
Bring: Just an honest dose of authenticity, a cup to fill up--and overflow. A willingness to surrender all the should-do's, the ought-to's, and will-do's, the someday's, the if-I-could's. To leave all that we are, and that we aren't at the feet of Jesus. Some giggles. Some laughter. Some joy.
Take Home: A cup full and overflowing. A lighter step. An upturned smile. An ah-ha. A twinkle in your eye. A satisfaction. Enough-ness.
Please R.S.V.P. if you need a club like this one......

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

What's on Your Coffee Table?

The birds are finally singing, and this Lenten Rose bloomed in time for Easter. 

I got to enjoy some sunshine this weekend too. It made me feel I'd come out of hibernation.

Gone are to long winter nights with a cup of tea in front of the fire.

Jaime and I have completed each of our manuscripts and have been working on preparing our revisions. Once the bulk of the work is completed, often it's time to put in on the shelf for a season.

Sometimes my fiction reading needs a similar break. I happen to believe it's healthy to read an assortment of book genres including fiction and nonfiction.

So what's on your coffee table?

My nonfiction reads on the coffee table include: 
--One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and
--Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge

What draws you out of hibernation?
What's your latest nonfiction read?
What signs of spring are in your neck of the woods?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What is Truth?

"Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”  Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
 -- John 18:37-38

I found this passage especially poignant this Easter. Poignant and ironic. Here is Jesus and here is Pilate. Pilate voices the age long question, "What is truth?" to the Truth.

How often have you sought after truth? The basis of life, the reason we exist, the answer to a conundrum you cannot rise above. What is truth? Where is truth? How does it guide you when don't know what/who it is?

Jesus said, "I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life." He is the centerpoint from which life comes. Eternal life. And Pilate --- you --- me --- looks at Jesus and asks "What is truth?". Asking Truth Himself to define Himself. ... and so He did. He picked up our cross and carried it.

Is He your Truth today? Or do you still seek for truth from the One who wrote it?


Jaime Wright -

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