Tuesday, December 25, 2012


It was a special treat having Laura Frantz on my blog last week.

Thank you, Laura for your insights and your transparency.  I hope you'll come back again.

we have a winner for a copy of one of Laura's books! Marissa you've won. Congratulations. Laura will contact you soon.

Grace and peace to you.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Books & Writing -- Meet Laura Frantz

Laura is a lover of history and the author of The Frontiersman's Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, and The Colonel's Lady, and currently lives in the misty woods of Washington with her husband and two sons.

I had the pleasure of joining Laura in Oregon and Washington last summer for two booksignings. What a gracious lady. I'm thrilled to include her here on Books & Writing. 

Laura, you've recently had a new book release, Love's Reckoning, which is the first in a new series. What a gorgeous cover! Can you tell us how you came up with the idea for the story and why this place and time period?

1.      I've always had a love for the 18th century, so it was a good place to begin. My editor actually suggested I write a generational family series set in Pennsylvania. At the time this sounded too daunting as I'd only written standalones, but after much prayer and thought, I moved ahead. I'd come across a bit of research about the old tradition of an apprentice marrying into the master's family. I thought there might be some historical fireworks if the apprentice had to choose between two daughters. The beautiful cover was the icing on the cake. J

           It sounds fascinating. If it's anything like your 
previous books, I know I'm going to love it. 
I can't wait to dive into the story. 

     What do you hope readers will take away with them when they read the final page and put down the book?

      My hope is that readers, through the story, will experience for themselves the depths of the Lord's forgiveness and restoration power. He not only heals our hurting hearts and wrong turns but restores those lost years in ways we cannot imagine. No sin or circumstance is beyond His power.

What a powerful message.

Can you tell us what your writing day/week looks like?

Usually I get up early, about 5 am or so, go to the pool and then come home and enjoy reader mail or blog comments, visit Facebook and Pinterest. I like to write in the mornings best and then take a quick lunch and finish up by the time my boys come home from school around 3 pm. Then it's time to cook supper, do laundry, etc. I try not to work in the evenings but sometimes I can't stand to be away from the story. Thankfully, I write my manuscripts by longhand so don't have my head stuck in a laptop all the time. J 

I'm envious of your disciplined schedule.

I've only met one other writer who creates their 
first drafts longhand. I can't imagine. But I do understand about 
all the time writers spend on their laptops. 
Sometimes I don't even want to look at my computer.

Do you have a favorite scene in Love's Reckoning? Can you share some of it with us and tell us why it's your favorite?

Oh my! That's a little like asking for a favorite Bible verse. But I'll try. In Love's Reckoning, it would be the scene when Silas and Eden meet up again in that very heated, July ballroom eight years after parting company. neither expect the other to be there and voila!

What do you like most about writing and what do you like the least? Do you have any advice for your fellow authors?

I love the first draft best, even unpolished. it's akin to falling in love for the first time, at least for me. I'm always amazed at where the story takes me. I get giddy just thinking about it!

To be honest, I detest social networking and marketing. Once I had a job as a telemarketer and lasted two days. Promoting myself and my books is very painful to me. I'd much rather talk about what you're doing. Maybe it's the southern girl in  me. I was raised in a culture of humility and graciousness. Anything else is way beyond my comfort zone.

I have to laugh about your telemarketing experience. 
I did that once years ago and I actually
 enjoyed it. What does that say about me?

Do you have anything you'd like to share with readers? And how can they find you on the web?

I love hearing from readers at lauran@tfon.com or my website laurafrantz.net. 

I don't read reviews of my books but I do read reader mail and answer them. I even keep a scrapbook of every email and letter. My readers are very dear to me and I pray for them and covet their prayers as I really need them. I love meeting new readers online. Please stop by and say, "Hi!"

Thank you, Laura for taking the time to chat with me today. I look forward to reading Love's Reckoning. 

Readers, Laura has graciously agreed to give away a copy of one of her books, readers choice, to those who leave a comment, along with their email address. We'll draw for the winner one week from today.

Grace and peace to you from God.





Friday, December 14, 2012

Thoughts For Today -- Feeling Lost in a World Gone Mad?

This morning, when I sat down with my morning coffee to watch the news my heart groaned. Another school shooting. This one in an elementary school in Connecticut. An elementary school? I could hardly believe what I was watching. How could it be? Innocent children. Teachers. Dead and injured.

My mind went to the terrified children, the parents and families. Lives devastated. I weep for them all.

The world has gone mad. Just two days ago, innocents were shot down in a shopping mall in Portland, Oregon. Today's shooting is just one more tragedy in a long, long list of  brutal and senseless murders of the innocent. What has happened to the soul of America? How can we change the sickening and terrifying path we travel? Where do we begin?

I dropped into my comfy chair, in my toasty warm home, which is closed off from the world, hidden in a quiet place on this planet . . . but I didn't feel safe. My thoughts went to those who might break into my "safe" haven. I thought about my children and grandchildren who step out into the world every day. How can I keep them safe?

Jesus, my spirit whispered. Jesus.

Heavy-hearted, I picked up a devotional that I read every day. The first line said this, "REST IN ME, MY CHILD, forgetting about the worries of the world." And this. "Hold My hand in deliberate dependence on Me, and I will smooth out the path before you."

God met me, reminding me that He's always with me. He reached out, speaking to my heart. But my mind continued to ask, "How do we find rest in the midst of a mindless, brutal world that pounds on the door of our sanctuaries of safety?"

The devotional continued, "Focus on Me--Emmanuel--and let My living Presence envelop you in Peace. Tune in to my eternal security, for I am the same yesterday, today, and forever."

I was reminded that no matter how unruly and frightening the world may become God is the same, now and forever. His promises have not changed. He has not changed. We can rely on Him to remain with us, to offer His arms of love, His feet to guide, His strength to help us stand. He will never desert us.

His Word is a love letter to His people. Read it. And know that He is God. "Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take." We will never be lost when God leads.

Ezra, the priest wrote, "Your Word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path." 

Only God knows the way, through this mine field called life. Let Him lead you.

My prayers go out to the families whose lives were so horribly changed today.

May you find grace and peace in God,


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Books and Writing -- BOOK WINNER!

It was such fun to interview Ann Shorey here on Books & Writing. Thank you all for stopping in and leaving comments.

Stop by often. There will be lots of interesting authors dropping by in the months to come. And more book giveaways!

Our winner this week is Jean Ann Williams. Congratulations, Jean! I'll be sending your email address on to Ann. She'll contact you soon.

Grace and peace to you.


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

BOOKS & WRITING -- A Visit With Ann Shorey

Ann Shorey and I go way back. We met many years ago at an Oregon Christian Writers Conference and some time later we became critique partners. We still work together and I'm thrilled to have my dear friend and writing cohort as a guest here on My Books and Writing blog.

Welcome, Ann.

  • In the early years, it was frustrating for me to watch you write and wait, write and wait. It was frustrating because you are such a terrific writer. I didn't understand why someone hand't snatched up your work. It took you quite some time before you were picked up by an agent and then got your first book published. How long had you been working at publishing before the big event took place? Can you tell us a little bit about it?

I spent about seven years working on fiction before being signed by a publisher. During that time I wrote three novels, one of which I'm thankful will  never see the light of day! The third novel I wrote is the one that was accepted as part of a proposed series of three. That series became the At Home in Beldon Grove series for Revell.

I loved that series. What a great beginning!

  • What do you think finally did it? Do you have advice for fledgling authors?
The first novel wasn’t ready for publication. I didn’t know then how much I didn’t know about writing fiction! For fledgling authors, I’d say NEVER GIVE UP. But at the same time, don’t keep writing the same things in the same way. I went to many writers conferences, took classes, subscribed to writers magazines (and had great critique partners J)—in general, never stopped learning and trying to improve. Also for fledgling authors, be prepared to take to heart the helpful critiques you receive. Your first words are seldom as golden as you think they are. Check your ego at the door. J

Spoken like a true writer, Ann. Listen up, writers--wisdom and experience speaking here.

  • I've always admired your writing and I know what I think really shines, but what do you see as your writing strengths and weaknesses?

I’ve been complimented on my dialogue, which for me is the most fun to write. Also, as an author of historical fiction, I love using great details to plant my readers in the middle of my stories. One of the nicest compliments I received on Where Wildflowers Bloom was from a reader who said she thought she could be plunked down in Noble Springs (the fictional community where my Sisters at Heart series takes place) and find her way anywhere around town.

During the writing process, my greatest weakness is transitions—getting my characters from one scene to the next. I remember in the first novel I wrote (the one in the drawer!). I had a great opening scene with two characters on a covered porch. At the conclusion of the scene I thought, “Now, how do I get them off the porch?” I still ask myself that question from time to time.

What a wonderful  compliment. I agree with your reader. You always transport me inside your stories.

  • I know you to be a disciplined writer. Can you give us a glimpse of your daily schedule?

I’m not a morning person. So mornings my dog and I walk for three miles or so, then I do my online correspondence, and once that’s out of the way I get to work on whatever I’m writing at the time. Ideally, I write from around 1:00 in the afternoon until 5:30. When I’m pressing a deadline, I’ll start earlier and go back to work after dinner.

Your schedule looks a lot like mine. However, I'm guessing you're a lot more disciplined than me.

  • So, when does your next book release? Can you tell us a little about it? And what do you have waiting in the wings?

My next book, When the Heart Heals, is scheduled to release on February 1, 2013. Normally, that date is a bit flexible, so I expect the book will be available by the last week in January.
When the Heart Heals is the second book in my Sisters at Heart series for Revell. For those who have read Where Wildflowers Bloom, When the Heart Heals is Rosemary Saxon’s story. Here’s a look at the back cover copy:

In a country healing from war, can a young woman find healing for her heart?

Courageous and unconventional, Rosemary Saxon served as a nurse during the Civil War, a service that has caused most women in town to regard her as unfeminine and even downright vulgar. Although she would like to put that part of her life behind her, she needs to support herself. She takes a nursing position with Dr. Elijah Stewart, but whenever they are together they always seem to do or say the wrong things. When someone threatens Rosemary, will she find the courage to stand or will she leave town—and Elijah—forever?

I can't wait to read it!

My next project is the third book in the series, working title Love’s Sweet Beginning. This novel features Cassie Haddon, who has a small part in Where Wildflowers Bloom, a larger part in When the Heart Heals¸ and gets to have her own story in Love’s Sweet Beginning. The release date on this one is sometime in 2014.

Also in 2014, I’m looking forward to the release of my first novella as part of a collection with Laurie Alice Eakes, Amanda Cabot, and Jane Kirkpatrick. The title has yet to be decided. It’s been so much fun working with these three talented authors!

Great questions, Bonnie. Thank you for inviting me to visit your blog!

Thank you for joining us, Ann. What a privilege to have you here. 

Ann has offered to give away a copy of her book, Where Wild Flowers Bloom. To win, just leave a comment and make sure to include your email address. We will draw for the winner one week from today.

ANN SHOREY has been a full-time writer for over twenty years. Her writing has appeared in Chicken Soup for the Grandma’s Soul, and in the Adams Media Cup of Comfort series. She made her fiction debut with The Edge of Light, Book One in the At Home in Beldon Grove series for Revell, followed by Books Two and Three, The Promise of Morning and The Dawn of a Dream. The Sisters at Heart series, beginning with Where Wildflowers Bloom, is her latest offering.
             She may be contacted through her website, www.annshorey.com, which also contains her blog, http://annshorey.blogspot.com/ or find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AnnShorey.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Quiet Moments With God -- A Quiet Place?

Are you busy, maybe too busy? This is the time of year for busyness, isn't it. I'm thinking, it should be a time of Holiness. 

In my reading this morning I came across these beautiful words and thought they might be just what you need to hear. They quieted me.

From Streams in the Desert:

It is good to live in the valley sweet,
Where the work of the world is done,
Where the reapers sing in the fields of wheat,
And work until the setting of the sun.
But beyond the meadows, the hills I see
Where the noises of traffic cease,
And I follow a Voice who calls out to me
From the hilltop regions of peace.

Yes, to live is sweet in the valley fair,
And work till the setting of the sun;
But my spirit yearns for the hilltop's air
When the day and its work are done.
For a presence breathes o'er the silent hills, 
And its sweetness is living yet;
The same deep calm all the hillside fills,
As breathed over Olivet.

          Every life that desires to be strong must have its "Most Holy Place" 
(Ex. 26:33) into which only God enters.

Praying that in the midst of this busy time of year you will find time to spend with the Lord in the Most Holy Place.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Friday, November 30, 2012

Thoughts For Today -- Twenty-Twenty Vision

Sometimes, I'm like this little pooch. I need powerful glasses. And sometimes even though I've got my glasses on, I don't see what I should. Instead, I see through a personal distorted prism. Have you been there? Done that?

Yesterday I scored 20/20 on a vision test! Not the kind a doctor gives, though.

When I left home and headed into town, it was raining, pouring in fact, and the winds were so strong they pushed my car around. When I headed down our hill there were small mud slides, and once on the highway it was like driving through a big puddle--absolutely dangerous. And yet, I loved it. The brutality of the weather invigorated me. I found myself smiling and singing instead of complaining about making the trip in the midst of a storm. All I could see was beauty and I felt the thrill of adventure.

That morning, I'd spent time with God. And when I set out I took Him with me. My mind and heart were on Him and His wonders, a good place for a mind to be.

Once in town, I had several errands to run and then I went to my mother's to begin her Christmas shopping and wrapping. We had so much fun! And both of us are so excited for Christmas morning. It's going to be special.

All through the day, my usual pain went with me and I was gimpy with a bad knee. In fact, because of the weather my pain levels were higher than usual, but I didn't mind. I had better things to think about, and I hadn't forgotten that God was with me. Happiness and contentment had infused my spirit, and I refused to spend time contemplating the negatives. Oh, they did press in, but I just flicked them away.

That's where the 20/20 vision comes in. I was able to SEE the enemy coming in and trying to ruin my day. Because of God's presence and power the enemy had no power. All right!

In the coming days, I intend to put on my spiritual glasses so that I can see how blessed I am. See the beauty around me. And enjoy the  many gifts given to me. If I can do that, every day will be a beautiful day.

I need your prayers. The enemy won't give up his attempts to bring me down and the battle will wage on. And I'd like to pray for you. How about if we pray for one another?

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Quiet Moments With God -- This is the day the Lord has made.

Over the past few weeks, I've watched posts of thankfulness pop up on Face Book. They've been interesting, poignant and even inspiring. Some are just plain fun. They got me thinking about thankfulness. Have I given enough thought recently to all I have to be thankful for? Or has my mind strayed to the things that keep me distracted or weighted down?

We've just passed through a season that is supposed to be all about being thankful. I admit to having had difficulty focusing on what that truly means, but the world has quieted a bit and this morning when I found time to spend with my Lord I felt Him tugging me toward thoughts of what it means to have a thankful heart. And I asked, "What does it really mean?"

I went to my devotional and received a glimmer of an answer. God's timing is impeccable.

A portion of the devotional said this. "To protect your thankfulness, you must remember that you reside in a fallen world, where blessings and sorrows intermingle freely. A constant focus on adversity defeats many Christians. They walk through a day that is brimming with beauty and brightness, seeing only the grayness of their thoughts."

I felt a prick of conviction from the Holy Spirit and continued reading, moving on to scripture and then prayer. As I prayed I sought the answer -- what is thankfulness, really? I was barraged with thoughts of all the things I have to be thankful for--a beautiful home, the sunshine streaming through my window, a loving family. It is good to be reminded of  these things. But I couldn't help but think it has to be more. My heart went to God. I am His. He created me. He loves me. He stands by me even though I am SO imperfect. I am His child, always and forever, saved  by His grace.

"How great is the goodness
you have stored up for those who fear you.
You lavish it on those who come to you for protection,
blessing them before the watching world."
Psalm 31: 19

And then I got it--

I am grateful for God and ALL His wonders.

Thankfulness is being amazed about big things like the stars in the sky, the earth that rotates on its axis and God Himself. It is cherishing the little things, like a warm heating pad, a comfy chair and the laughter of children.

Tonight as I drove home from town, the sun was setting and mists rested upon the hills. The moon was already big and round in the sky, and I was flooded with the realization that I live an extraordinary life. My home is in one of the most beautiful places on this planet. I have been married to the same man for forty-one years and we still love each other. My children love one another and they love me. AND they love God. I get to hug my grandchildren every day. My mother is still part of my life--and we love each other too. My life overflows with love.

I remembered how I became a writer. The way was filled with pain. But God made a way and opened every door. I love to write! Thank you, Lord, for making it part of me and part of my life. I've met the most dedicated and gifted people through writing. Many of them I call friends. I cherish these extraordinary people.

If our vision becomes narrow and focuses only on what we see in the darkness of our minds we will miss out on the beauty and uniqueness that is us. Life is beautiful, precious and to be cherished. 

I thank God for making a place for me in this world and then planting me in just the right place at exactly the right time. For every day is the day the Lord has made.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Friday, November 16, 2012

Thoughts For Today -- Acupuncture Anyone?

Sometimes in order to take a risk, we have to be backed into a corner. For me that corner was my feet. I have peripheral neuropathy, and all that comes with it pushed me out of one of my comfort zones.

I couldn't take it anymore--the pain, burning, cramping and feet that felt like blocks of wood attached to the end of my legs made me wonder if amputation might be an option. Drastic, I know. But I was desperate.

There was no clearly defined cause for my condition and traditional methods were of no help. I needed to try something unconventional. I turned to acupuncture. I figured I'd give it a try. What did I have to lose?

That was a couple of years ago and I'm still seeing an acupuncturist two - three times a month. It has been a great help to me. I'm not "healed", but I'm still sane, or so I'm told.

Yesterday was my bi-weekly appointment with my acupuncturist, Heather. And believe it or not, I look forward to my visits, even though it means there will be a bunch of needles stuck into my body. Most of them don't hurt, but occasionally I get an ouchy one.

Seeing my acupuncturist is not just about needling. She does so much more. She listens. When I go in, we spend the first few minutes just talking. She gets a feel for what I'm dealing with in my life and what my pain levels are. She takes my pulses--each wrist. But these are not the "normal" pulse-takings we're used to. She's looking for much more than my heart rate. She understands a great deal about what's going on in my body from my pulse. It's an art, really. And I always have to show her my tongue. She can pretty much tell me all about my life just from my pulses and my tongue. I don't get it, but I can't hide anything from her. She gets so much information from these simple observations that I am often flabbergasted. Weird, I know. And then there are the needles. And they make my feet happier.

After a short visit, pulse-taking and tongue check, then come the needles. I get to lay on a cushioned table with a heating pad beneath me and I listen to melodic music with eye pads on and I rest. Sometimes I sleep. And I let the needles work.

I don't claim to understand the science of acupuncture, but I do know that it gives me a better quality of life. Those needles can quiet anxiety, stomach aches, headaches, hot flashes--in a matter of minutes. And then of course there are things like my neuropathy, back pain and fibromyalgia that feel sooo much better because of my acupuncturist's skills.

I've learned a lot from my sessions with Heather--simple things like really breathing and listening to my body and being sensible about what I can and cannot do. I face personal issues with more courage and I'm learning not to dodge the hard stuff.

I guess you'd say, I'm sold on acupuncture as a truly beneficial form of health care. It may not be right for everyone. I get that. As I said, I don't understand the science behind it, at least not enough to offer a lesson on it. But I'm thankful that I put aside my fear and skepticism and made that first appointment.

Have you tried acupuncture or some other form of health care that is not main stream? I'd love to hear more about it. And whether or not it was helpful.

Modern medicine doesn't have the only key to wellness. There's a lot we don't understand in this world. I think there are doors to health care with unusual keys, some of which are outside our comfort zone. But then, who really believes that living only within our comfort zones is good for us?

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Quiet Moments With God -- The Climb

Recently . . . or perhaps not just recently, but for years, life has felt like a mountain that must be climbed. Sometimes I've climbed well, but other times I've lost site of the summit and returned to base camp, feeling defeated.

The past few months I've been attempting another climb and I haven't done exactly well. There has been so much to contend with, but isn't that
life . . . really. We all have our joys and jubilations, but much of life is about the daily grind and hardship. While we're in the midst of the grind, we sometimes lose sight of the summit. We lose sight of the Father.

The light that illuminates our path comes from the Lord. If we will seek him, He will show us the way. The hitch comes when God's call isn't what we had imagined it would be. When we find ourselves in such a place, and take our eyes off our Lord, we may find ourselves slogging through the mire of uncertainty and despair, and believing life is too hard.

It's hard, all right. But it can be done. And done well. One day at a time. Perhaps one minute at a time. The One who loves us more than we can even think or imagine will not let us down. He'll reach for our hand and help us make our ascent.

We owe Him our lives. When I read from my devotional this morning the words lifted me out of the grind and set me in a higher place where I could see beauty and know there is hope, always hope. I was reminded of my calling, which is much more than what can be seen by human eyes.

From Streams in the Desert.

Is there some desert, or some boundless sea,
Where you, great God of angels, will send me?
Some oak for me to rend,
Some sod for me to break,
Some handful of your corn to take,
And scatter far afield,
Till it in turn will yield
Its hundredfold
Of grains of gold
To feed the happy children of my God?
Show me the desert, Father, or the sea;
Is it your enterprise? Great God send me!
And though this body lies where ocean rolls,
Father, count me among all faithful souls.

Can you see it? Your hand lifted in jubilation and your shout, SEND ME! 

Grace and peace to you from God,


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Thoughts For Today -- What Now?

A day has passed since the election and I've had a little time to digest the outcome and feel ready to share my thoughts.

I admit to being shaken when the results came in. I was stunned and deeply saddened. I couldn't stop the tears as I grieved what I viewed as a terrible loss for our country. I pondered what would happen now?  What would become of my beloved country and its people?

I admit that I blasted out some of my sorrow on Facebook. And Wednesday I bopped around the site reading a number of comments and adding some of my own. There were expressions of despair, fear and confusion. Some people were angry while others cheered what they saw as a victory. What I felt most was a sensation of walking through a graveyard of hopes and dreams. Facebook had become a place to grieve, but ultimately a place where people comforted and uplifted one another.

I know that many saw it as a place full of anger and hatred. And though I saw that, there was a gradual transition into what I feel was a healthy linking of arms as people prayed for one another and helped people see that life is not over and that there is hope.

I also read a few columns. Some tried to explain the why of the election results. Others shared the writer's own journey of emotions and resolutions. And some were there to encourage readers. I identify with them all.

So . . . where do we go from here? I heard one news commentator say, "We pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get to work." That sounds good to me. It's not over. My country is not lost. God is not absent. He knows it all and He has a plan.

This great unknown that faces our country has triggered good discussions between myself and some of my family. We are taking a closer look at our lives and how we spend our time. And whether or not we need more time with our Lord. We've also come to the conclusion that we need to make better use of the gifts and talents we've been given and of the time we have. God has the answers. He will reveal what we are to do to prepare for what is coming and He will make sure we know what He's called us to do.

While I pray and wait, I will continue my present work and step through open doors. Just what is in store for me I do not know, but I will keep on praying and I know God hears my prayers and will answer them.

I begin with thanksgiving. I am so thankful to be a child of God and to be assured that I am never alone. I know that even when the world feels wobbly, God has things under control. The future is a bit frightening, but I feel a stirring of excitement about what is to come.

God holds us in the palm of His hand. He will not let us go. Pray. Seek Him. And when He speaks, for He surely will, do whatever He asks of you. And then above that tell others how deeply they are loved. There are many hurting souls who don't know, and they are waiting for someone to tell them.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, November 05, 2012

Thoughts For Today -- Letting Go

It is only one day until the national and state elections. I am something of a political junkie. I take being informed and voting seriously. And I admit to sometimes having strong opinions and carrying around too much anxiety about voting outcomes. I worry about my local district, my state and my country.


I believe in the sovereignty of God. He is in control. However, I know that he did not fashion puppets when he created human-beings and that throughout history mankind has gone astray, standing willfully against their Creator. So, I know we can get "it" wrong.

However, even when we make mistakes God is with us. He does not abandon us. And he can bring goodness even from what was intended for evil.

And so I am doing my best to release my angst to him. The outcome of this election is not up to me. I've done all that I feel I've been asked to do. And though in speaking out I've tried to remain respectful, I have been unfriended by some. That makes me kind of sad. But God never said, obedience would be easy or even pleasant.

Whomever wins the presidential election, I look forward to moving beyond these days and serving God wherever and however he directs me.

Please pray for one another. Pray for the candidates. And pray for our country.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Quiet Moments With God -- In The Palm Of His Hand

The past several weeks have been hectic. My husband has been driving up and down Interstate 5 to complete work on my mother's homes. We've moved from one house to another. Our daughter moved into a new place. And my husband is now making repairs on a rental home so it will be ready for new renters. In the middle of all this the regular pulse of family life continues--illness, time with Mom, an election, football games for one grandson and wrestling practice for another, financial concerns and on it goes.

I've felt a bit frazzled, but God knows what's going on in my life. And as He so often does He gently reminds me that He has me and those I love in the palm of His hand.

This morning when I sat down to read a devotion from Streams in the Desert this is what I found.

"It is not necessary to be continually speaking to God, or always hearing from God, in order to have communion or fellowship with Him, for there is an unspeakable fellowship that is sweeter than words. A little child can sit all day long beside his mother, totally engrossed in his playing, while his mother is consumed by her work, and although both are busy and few words are spoken by either, they are in perfect fellowship. The child knows his mother is there, and she knows that he is all right."

What a beautiful picture of what our fellowship with God is supposed to look like. Knowing He is always beside me and watching over me, offers peace. I can rely on Him. All I need to do is remember His presence. When I get frazzled it's a clear indication that I've forgotten God is caring for me.

What a blessed God we have. Even when we get "it" wrong, He remains steadfast and faithful, holding us in the palm of His hand.

Is there something that has you frazzled or afraid? If so, I'd love to pray for you. We can pray for one another.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Thoughts For Today: Feeling Overwhelmed

I'm sitting in my office, with boxes of books and other office "stuff" piled around me. We're moving . . . again.

I'm kind of stunned, actually. The last few years we've moved from one of our houses to another several times. It feels like we've been playing musical houses. And I don't really like the game. But family circumstances make it necessary and it's not a big sacrifice, but it is a lot of work.

I like the other house (the main house). It's the place where I raised my kids. It's bigger and it feels cozy.

This morning I'm feeling a bit undone. There's so much to do and everyone in my family is busy, including me. I've got a book that needs editing along with a whole list of other responsibilities. And it all feels like too much.

Yesterday I read a note on Facebook meant for a friend of mine who is undergoing cancer treatment. The comment said, "In order to eat an elephant you have to do it one bite at a time." I've heard this before, but the reminder is a good one. I feel like I'm standing before that elephant.

I've discovered that as I get older little things tend to throw me off balance (figuratively and in reality). I get to feeling overwhelmed easily. I'm sure part of it has to do with my physical disabilities. I get frustrated. I used to be the roll up your sleeves and get to work type of person. I was in "charge" of my life, and these days I have to relinquish that role and abdicate to others.  I'm dependent on other people and in all honesty it sometimes makes me feel kind of useless.

When I think on that I wonder if maybe that's exactly where God wants for me right now. I need to learn to place my life in His hands.

God is clear. He tells me without hesitation that He has a plan for my life and it is a plan to bless me and not harm me. And He tells me that I can do all things through Him. I believe Him. And it is my heart's desire to live according to that belief. However, I  must admit that it is easier said than done. Sheesh, sometimes I wonder if I'll ever grow up in my faith.

I'm going to give it a try and do my best to put aside my frustration and rest in the Lord. But I could really use your prayers.  Thanks so much. I'll be in touch again, from my new office next door.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Quiet Moments With God -- Half Empty or Half Full?

Today is my husband's 63rd birthday. We sat on the sofa together this morning and I said sarcastically, "Aren't you thrilled to be sixty-three?"

"Yeah. Thrilled," he said.

Would someone do a happy dance for us? We missed the opportunity.

I'm a "the cup is half empty" type of person. And this morning, as I read in my devotional Streams in the Desert it was made clear to me that I should be a "the cup is half full" type of person. I'd like to write the entire devotional here for you, but I'll just cut to the heart of what I saw. "Cheerfulness in our faith causes any act of service to be performed with delight. Sadness, however, clips those wings.

I've been going around with my wings clipped, not all the time but way to much of the time. Greg and I should be rejoicing over how he's lived sixty-three years. He's had a good life and is still strong and healthy. His life is full of blessings, which spill over onto me.

God is awesome. And He loves me enough to continue to teach me. Yesterday, He provided me with a perfect picture of myself--not a pretty one I might add. I went shopping at our local Walmart and I was in too much pain to walk the entire time so I had to use one of their scooters. The only one left was well past its prime. It barely ran. And when I turned it on a growling noise emanated from it's little engine. When I tried to go forward, it wouldn't move, but it growled more loudly. Finally my daughter gave it a push and off we went, thumping and bumping along. Every so often Sarah would have to give it another push to convince it to continue moving.

Some days, I'm just like that scooter--grumping and growling along.

It's okay to have bad days. We all do. And with life's mishaps and aging bodies we can become like that poor old scooter. I have more and more days when my body just doesn't want to work, but that needn't lead to hopelessness or sadness. I'm still valuable . . . like that scooter. It was broken down, but it carried me through the store, making it possible to get my shopping done. I am grateful for that scooter. And like it, I still have work to do, a calling to fulfill. I can still be a friend to others. And I'm still able to serve my Lord. Praise Him!

I'm lifting my glass in agreement to this line from Streams in the Desert. "My plan is to shun sadness just as I would shun satan."

I'm going to begin to see the cup half full. How about you? Do you see your cup as being half full or half empty?

Grace and peace to you from God,


Friday, October 12, 2012

Thoughts For Today -- A New Day

The morning is young. It's a new day. As I sit here, considering what the Lord has for me on this day my heart fills with gratitude.

When I got out of bed this morning, my husband was already finishing up the dishes left from last night and he made coffee, just for me. He's such a good man!

I poured myself a cup of coffee and wandered over to my daughter's house. I shared time with her and two of my grandchildren. What a blessed way to begin the day!

I returned home--showered and dressed and then spent quiet time in God's Word where he assures me that "His promises are pure, like silver refined in a furnace, purified seven times over." What an awesome God we have!

I'm ready to go to work on my present book, where the  true-life story of an extraordinary woman continues to surprise and uplift me.

It's only ten o'clock AM and already I've received more blessings than I deserve. I don't know what the rest of the day will hold, but I know God will be with me.

I hope you've had a good morning. What are your plans for the day? Can you share any special blessings in your life?

Grace and peace to you from God,


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Quiet Moments With God -- Listen

Yesterday morning I sat down to write a devotional for Quiet Moments With God, and I was in a hurry. I'd slept later than usual and my to-do list was long. I had an idea about something that had been rattling around in my mind and heart, but as I started to write I heard this quiet voice say, "Slow Down. How can you have any quiet time with me when you're rushing ahead?"

How ironic. I was writing about moments with God while my heart was hurrying right past Him. I was writing before I'd even taken the time to seek a word from the Lord or listen to what He had to say.

My thoughts went to the story of Mary and Martha in Luke chapter 10 where Martha complains to the Lord about how unfair it is that Mary is sitting at His feet soaking in everything He has to say while she has been working. Jesus tells her, "My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it and it will not be taken away from her."

Once again, I was behaving like Martha. I love the Lord, but I miss so much because I have tasks to complete. Work is good, but the best of life can only be found in Him. I stopped writing, quieted my heart and listened. Again, I heard, "Be still. I am with you. Think upon me."

We cannot hear what God has to say if we're not listening. And so, I encourage you to seek the Lord above all other things. He will meet with you.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Thursday, October 04, 2012

Thoughts For Today -- Be A Blessing

Last weekend, my daughter and I drove my mother to Washington State. She wanted to see her home one last time. It has been remodeled and is for sale. She needed to say good-bye. And she needed to spend time with friends and family.

Months ago, when Mom left Washington she was very ill and grieving the death of her husband. She wasn't able to say a proper farewell. This trip was important to her.

I'm not so young these days and with my mother's health issues I was unable to make the trip without help. Both of my daughters stepped up. Sarah traveled with us and with unselfish love she helped her grandmother. Kristi stayed home and watched all the kids (hers and Sarah's).

It was a blessed journey home--filled with treasured memories, though bittersweet. Mom loved her "new" home and we had lots of special time with the important people in her life.

Mom was able to say good-bye.

None of this could have happened without the help of my daughters. I'm grateful for their sacrifice and for their tender hearts.

While reading a post from a dear friend who is suffering through the loss of her health and her home I got to thinking about the value of true friends and loving families. This gal's friends have been with her through every step of her journey and they continue to stand with her, offering love and support.

We need to be those kinds of friends, sisters, mothers, brothers . . . family. The kind who reach out to offer a helping hand and who remind those we love that they matter. And we need to give lots of hugs. Hugs definitely help.

Is there someone in your life who might need a tender word, a helping hand or a hug? Be there for them. It can make all the difference in the quality of their lives . . . and yours.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Books & Writing -- Creating Characters

We've spent several weeks on the topic of creating characters readers believe in and care about. Today some final thoughts.

Character's Voice
Listen to the voices of your characters. Every character’s voice needs to be distinctive. You don't want them all to sound the same. If you’re not careful they may sound like you. People have various ways of filtering the world’s input—some are auditory, others visual, or kinesthetic. These differences affect how a character perceives their surroundings and how they speak. 

What is voice?
• It’s what a character says and how they say it.
• It’s what they talk about, their interests and who they are.

Characters are the story.
If you give your characters freedom, they’ll write your story. The movie As Good as it Gets with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt is a great example of a character driven story. Jack Nicholson plays the role of an obsessive/compulsive author. His neighbor Greg Kinnear is an ultra sensitive homosexual who drives Jack Nicholson's character crazy. The love interest is Helen Hunt. Her character helps put Jack Nicholson’s character back together. These characters drive the story. If you want to study a well done character driven story this is worth every minute of your time.

As a writer, I love it when characters take over and carry me along for the ride.

You want to:
• Listen to your characters.
• Feel how the characters feel. Interview them if you must.
• Look at your characters from another character’s point of view.
• Be sensitive to a character's feelings.
• Don’t hold characters in a vise. Let them breathe, grow and run with their own stories.

You want your characters to change and to grow as the story moves along. After all, what fun is it to read a book where nothing happens to the characters on the inside? They've got to discover something or someone, grow, give up, accept . . . in their gut they've got to change.

Dialogue is part of your character.

What does dialogue accomplish?
  • Dialogue needs a reason to be on the page. You don’t want to simply fill up space.
  • It advances the plot action.
  • It pushes a viewpoint character forward to solve a problem or a wrong decision.
  • Makes characters real.
  • Reveals who your character is on the surface and on the inside. It should reveal basics of class, education and personality.

 Examples of two very different characters:

“I shall have a cup of tea, black, and a small salad. No tomatoes, as tomatoes upset my digestion.”

“Gimme pie and coffee, sweetie. Got any apple?”

It's amazing how much you can know about a character simply by what they say and how they say it.

  • Through dialogue you discover facts by the questions asked and answers given.
  • Dialogue sets a mood and reflects the character's mood.
  • It intensifies the conflict. Readers love the give and take between two characters who verbally punch and counter punch.
  • Dialogue conveys information to readers and helps a writer avoid long passages of narrative.
  • Dialogue brings immediacy to the story so readers feel like they are part of the action.
  • It provides a change of pace and can move a story ahead more quickly.
  • It should create suspense or tension.
  • You can use it to tie up loose ends.

Dialogue is more than just a conversation.

  • Combine dialogue with movements and gestures to create pacing.
  • Interject thoughts. Hidden responses often reveal more about a person than what they might have said.
  • Good dialogue is artificially concise. It's a balancing act, concise but not so concise that it sounds unnatural. READ DIALOGUE ALOUD SO YOU CAN HEAR IT.
  • Good dialogue is emotional. You want the choice of words to engage readers and convey emotion.
  • Bare dialogue speeds up a scene and adds tension. Bare dialogue is speaking only, without tags or pacing. There is no narrative. It is used for a brief exchange. Capture the character's speech patterns so readers will know who is speaking.

Common Mistakes Using Dialogue:
  • Using too many direct connections, such as names to identify the speaker or using tags such as he said or she said. Leave these off whenever possible.
  • Describing dialogue--examples--he said angrily. He extrapolated. Rather use a character's actions to convey the mood or the pacing of the dialogue, "I said stop. Stop now!" We know how this character feels without describing it. If he's really mad you might want to add an action to he says, such as, he brought his fist down on the desk.
  • Use of unnecessary dialogue. Remember that dialogue should move the action forward. Don't write it down if you don't need it.

Helps for learning realistic dialogue.
  • Listen to the way people talk. You can sit in a restaurant or bus station, or any place where people gather, and observe and take notes.
  • Listen for emotions. What do people sound like when they're angry, bitter, content, cynical or . . .
  • Read and study lots of dialogue.

 Quote by Dwight V. Swain.
“Always strive for the provocative line. Hunt for at least occasional new, fresh, original ways for your characters to say whatever it is they have to say. In their proper places, slang, colorful analogies, personification, and the like can prove very effective.

How do you find the provocative line? Write whatever dull cliches come handy, then go back and rework. Complex may then become as tangled up as a meatball in a can of spaghetti. Jumpy is reworked to jerking like a crawdad on a hook or wriggling like a barefoot boy on hot cement”.

I hope these sessions on creating characters have been helpful. It's time for you create the people who will tell  your next story. Have fun!

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

TODAY'S THOUGHTS -- Talking Politics?

In case you didn't know, we have an election coming up. Hah! Yeah, I figured you'd heard something about it. I'm not here to tell you what you should do, though I've been known to do that. I want to talk about our attitudes and our sometimes careless need to be right.

I know a lot about this. I'm a passionate person. I know what I believe and why I believe it. However, that doesn't mean I'm always right--even though I'd like to think so.

During this election season, I've decided to speak out about what I believe because I'm concerned that we may be losing the country I love. I've been convicted about my need to pray and to speak out as a conservative. However, in my passion and certainty of what's "right" I sometimes speak carelessly. For that, I am sorry. And believe me, I've received some flak for my statements.

I do believe that God would like us to stand up for truth and for righteousness, but I think he shakes his head and weeps for His children when they tear one another apart over something like politics. Well . . . about anything at all. I don't think we're ever supposed to tear each other up. We are supposed to love one another.

So, my word today is to speak with care and in love. It's okay to be passionate about a topic (Jesus was), but let's remember that we're family and we're in this together. So, let's pull together and love one another.

May God's will be done.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Books & Writing -- Creating Characters

I've been absent from my blog recently, but I promise we'll soon complete this series on creating characters. Today, I'd like to look at a tool that we can go back to again and again while creating and working with our characters. This will help define a character and remain true to who they are.

Archetypal Roles
An archetypal role is simply a model of a character (it can also be used to help define a story). If you begin with an archetypal role, constructing a character or even a story plot will be easier.

I've listed some examples below. There are many more. You may want to create your own list. For instance if you find a character in a movie you're watching or book you're reading and you think that character might be someone you'd like to use in a story add them to your list. I found one just the other night and she was so perfect for my next book that I changed the one I'd previously chosen. You may want to watch the movie several times to help you pin down the character.


• Cinderella—The movie Pretty Woman follows this archetypal role for the Cinderella story, right down to the white limousine at the end. Julia Roberts creates a perfectly spunky Cinderella in this rags to riches story.

• Coming of Age. Luke Skywalker is a good example of this type of character. 

Hero Quest—Jesus Christ is the most famous archetypal role for this type of character. He is the savior, who gives his life for others. A more recent and creative version is the hero in the movie the Matrix. He is THE ONE who came to save mankind.

• Come to Realize—This is most clearly seen in the prodigal son. In the Biblical account the young man leaves home and quickly spends his inheritance on wine, women, and easy living and then seeing the error of his way returns home to the open arms of his father. There are lots of creative ways to use this type of character.

• Romance—There are a number of architypal roles—tragic love (Romeo and Juliet), forbidden love (The Thornbirds and a more recent example is Avatar). Unattainable love is poignantly demonstrated in the movie (Anna and the King of Siam, written by Margaret Landon).

• Monster slayer—The hero or the heroine is in peril and the monster slayer destroys the enemy. (James Bond). Another type of monster slayer is portrayed in a movie called Extraordinary Measures where the father of two very sick little girls fights the system to save his daughters' lives.

• Fugitive—This is the character who is unjustly accused. In the 1960’s
there was a television program called “The Fugitive. Harrison Ford played the character in a more recent movie taken from the weekly TV show. The character and the tale was based on a true story, about an innocent man running from the law.

• Beauty and the Beast—This is the story of a repulsive character who is transformed or redeemed by love (The sin eater in The Last Sin Eater)

I hope these will be helpful as you continue to romp through your story. Remember, have fun.

Grace and peace to you from God,