Friday, January 20, 2017

Symbolism/Prevent Burnout/Genetic Engineering/No Limits/Recipe

1.  Jonathan Vars guest posts at The Procrastiwriter on the subject of symbolism placeholders and how to use them in your writing.

2.  Jennifer Louden guest posts at Writers In The Storm. She talks about the ever-present demands of writing and how to keep from burning out.

3.  We've seen an increasing number of articles on bio-engineering. WND reports on "Genetic Engineering - Who Cleans Up the Mess?"

4.  Beth K. Vogt guest posts at The Write Conversation on the subject of No Limits. I'd like more people with this attitude around me. :)

5.  Okay, so I'm on a recipe kick. This is a main dish - One-Pot Cheesy-Italian-Pasta-Chicken. Yeah, I thought you'd be interested. :)

Writers:  How do you keep from getting writer burnout?

Readers:  What did you think of the devotional, "No Limits?"

Photo Credit:  Robert Owen-Wahl

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

On My Kindle - Londonderry Dreaming by Christine Lindsay

Keith Wilson's grandma left instructions that he was to clean out her house after her death. A music therapist, he leaves for Northern Ireland to attend the funeral and fulfill her wishes.

Naomi Boyd, renowned artist, travels to the Emerald Isle at the request of Keith's grandmother. Ruth Wilson has a gift for her and answers that might solve a long-standing mystery.

When she arrives, Ruth has already passed on. Naomi never expected to come face-to-face with the love she abandoned five years before. As they sift through Ruth's belongings, they discover more than answers to old secrets. Will they give each other a second chance or walk away.

I purchased this book way back in 2014 but forgot about it. The author writes wonderful stories set in exotic locales like India and Ireland. I've enjoyed her work for years. Londonderry Dreaming was no exception. She wove a compelling story with multi-layered emotions.

5 Stars for this novella.

Disclaimer: I didn't receive any payment for this review. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Have you considered writing books in unusual settings? Please share.

Readers: What is your preference - books set in your home country or in other countries? Why?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Three Pistachio Promises

I'm sitting here eating pistachio nuts. Next to cashews, they're a favorite. So, who cares, right?

It occurred to me that pistachios make us a promise. I had this bag sitting around for a couple of weeks before deciding to open it.

Promise 1:  Until you open the bag, we won't get to taste their delicious flavor. As writers, we won't discover the amazing joys of a story until we open that document and begin the process.

Eating pistachios requires a certain amount of work. While some pop out of the shell with no problem, others require strong teeth or a nutcracker to pry them open.

Promise 2:   There are days when ideas flow and writing is almost effortless. The other days - let's say they're enough to make an author quit ten times over.

While pulling a shell from the bag, I discovered it was empty. Remember the old, "Where's the Beef," commercial? Yeah, this was, "Where's the pistachio?" Here I'm looking forward to another yummy morsel only to be disappointed. (I wonder if that's how Jesus felt when the tree had no figs.)

Promise 3:  A new story or article idea can set our imaginations on fire. We open a blank page and...nothing. Nada. Zilch. We're left with an empty promise.

A bag of pistachios promise a party for your taste buds, but you've got to open the bag, get them out of the shell, and sometimes you come up empty. It's a whole lot like writing and life in general.

Writers:  The strangest things can trigger an idea for a story or blog post. What was the most unusual experience/visual that inspired you?

Readers:  What lessons have you learned from day-to-day happenings in your life?

Photo Credit: Pawel Zawistowski

Friday, January 13, 2017

Colorful Writing/Two Plots/Assisted Suicide/Answered Prayer/Recipe

1.  Diann Mills, at The Write Conversation, talks about adding depth to your writing through color. You don't have to be a writer to benefit from this article. See why it's probably not a good idea to paint Junior's nursery yellow.

2.  Dave King writes about Your Two Plots at Writer Unboxed. Paying attention to your characters' inner life as well as the outward action can give readers a much-needed break but keep the action going.

3.  Babies are not the only ones at risk these days. Breaking Christian News reports on assisted suicide. The elderly are being put in jeopardy.

4.  Jodie Wolfe is featured on Elaine Stock's blog. She talks about Prayers Answered.

5.  This recipe for cracker candy looks delicious. Okay, it has chocolate. Need I say more? Check it out on Afternoon Baking With Grandma.

Writers:  How do you incorporate color into your writing?

Readers:  Did you try any new recipes during the holidays? Please share. (I tried the Almond Joy Cookies found on Facebook. They received mixed reviews.)

Photo Credit:  Karen Barefoot

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In My Kindle - Give the Lady A Ride by Linda Yezak

Patricia Talbert, socialite and daughter of a U.S. Senator, inherits her uncle's ranch. She planned to check it out and sell it as quickly as possible, but didn't take into account the handsome cowboy running the show.

Talon Carlson's strong faith faces its greatest test. Will he trust God after the disappointing news that his adopted dad left the ranch to a blood relative?

Growing up, my grandfather and dad were keen for westerns. Bonanza and other shows marched across the TV screen when I'd rather be watching a sitcom. Give the Lady a Ride by Linda Yezak is not a book I would have chosen, but it was part of a contemporary romance collection.

And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I'm giving this book a solid four stars. Anyone who can make me like a western deserves kudos.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a favorable review. All opinions expressed are, as usual, mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Have you considered writing articles, short stories, or books about unusual occupations? Please share.

Readers:  What books have you read that surprised you? I didn't like westerns, but this one captured my interest.

Monday, January 9, 2017

So, I Took A Blog Break....

and also a writing break. Does that sound strange for an author? For me, it came down to survival. After completing my last book, I was dealing with a broken wrist and numerous other challenges. All my energies were focused on getting well and regaining my strength.

Of course, I'm not suggesting the blog/writing break should last a year. That's not a break. It's a sabbatical. Most of the time, my mind is exploring different scenarios as I encounter everyday situations. You know, what if those two guys carrying a rug have a dead body wrapped inside of it? My brain needs a rest from all that mental activity.

I've always felt a little guilty about doing this, but a recent Book Marketing Buzz Blog post eased my mind. The simple act of taking a break during high-stress times like Christmas can rejuvenate you. It takes the pressure off. Rest is important for both the body and the mind.

This is my first Monday post since my blog break ended. I'm hunkering down and working on my blog and novel.  2017 - Let's get started on the New Year.

Writers and Readers:  How do you deal with stress overload? Do you have any tips on prevention?

Photo Credit:  SS

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas!

May you be blessed this Christmas Season. Here's a YouTube video with David Phelps singing, "O Holy Night."

BLOG BREAK:  Monday, 12/26/16 - Monday, 1/9/17 (Two full weeks)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

On My Nightstand - Share with Me by Janet Thompson

Brinley Brooks, wealthy heiress and all around sweetheart, swoons when her sister's brother-in-law plays Air on the violin. Ivan, a graduate of Julliard and a world-class violinist, also happens to be dirt poor.

This unlikely pair seem like a perfect match - except for their economic status. Can their relationship get off the ground when they come from different worlds?

I enjoyed this book immensely. There's a strong spiritual thread with supporting characters providing wise counsel. 5 Stars.

Now, I must find a copy of Air played on the violin, so I can hear Brinley and Ivan's song. :) P.S. Here it is on Youtube:

Writers and Readers:  When a book captures your imagination, does it give you a push to explore some of the characters' passions like music? Please share.

Disclaimer:  I didn't receive any remuneration for a review - favorable or otherwise. As always, all opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Monday, December 19, 2016

I'm So Glad He Did!

Christmas is less than a week away. The focus is often on what it means to us. Sure, that's important, but what did it mean to the Savior?

His obedience to the Father's plan cost Him everything, but He didn't look at the short-term loss. Instead, He saw the end result - the reconciliation of fallen man to the Father.

He left heaven's splendor for the ugliness of a world polluted by sin.

He shed the light of truth concerning God's character and dispelled the lies of the enemy by healing the sick and setting the captives free.

He experienced our pain, hunger, and weariness. He knew the betrayal of a friend and the censure of family members. Rejection and persecution were an almost daily occurrence.

The path of obedience wasn't any easier for Him than it is for us, but He despised the present circumstances for the glory that would follow the completion of His mission. I don't know why He made that sacrifice, but as the song says, "I'm so glad He did."

If you've never asked Jesus to forgive your sins and be the Lord of your life, I invite you to say this prayer:

Thank You, Jesus, that You came to this earth to live a perfect, sinless life, took the punishment we deserved on the cross, and arose from the dead. Forgive my sins, come into my heart, and make me like You. Thank You.

John 3:16-19
Romans 3:23
Romans 6:23
Ephesians 2:8,9

May this Christmas be the year of your rebirth in Him.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Likeable/Slush Pile/Cliff Barrows/Finished?/Christmas Gifts

1.  Lisa Cron, the author of Wired for Story and Story Genius, joins the Writers in The Storm contributors. In her first article, she deals with the question, "What Does Likeable Really Mean?" Fiction writers hear this term tossed around all the time. Wouldn't you like to know what it means?"

2.  Here's one for all the Indie authors out there. Tracie Tyne Hilton, at The Write Conversation, discusses why an Indie Author Needs a Slush Pile. Yeah, catchy title. It's worth checking out.

3.  Christian Headlines reports that Cliff Barrows, friend and associate of Billy Graham, has passed away at age 93. I have fond memories of this great choirmaster. Way back in the sixties, Sweetie Mom and I sang in the choir at the New York Billy Graham Crusade. It was amazing how this kind man took hundreds of singers and transformed them into a choir.

4.  You don't have to be a writer to receive this encouraging message from Dena Netherton. :)

5.  Christmas preparations are in full swing around here. I love planning gift giving and try to find something special for each person on my list. Real Simple gives 6 Clever Items to Simplify Your Life. There are a couple of items on the list I wouldn't mind getting for Christmas. :)

Writers:  How does the term, "Likeable," translate in your stories? How do you keep readers from wanting to smack your characters?

Readers:  Do you search online for unique gifts for family and friends? Maybe you could pass along some of your tips. :)

Photo Credit:  John Siebert

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

On My Nightstand - Tide Will Tell by Lesley Ann McDaniel

Kate Jennings is running for her life when she meets a wealthy businessman. A whirlwind courtship follows, and they become engaged. When she moves to his home a week before their nuptials, everything begins to unravel. Has she traded one desperate situation for another?

Josh Collins, a budding film producer, visits a classmate's home for a brief holiday. He's put off by the excessive partying and wild lifestyle. When Kate shows up, he's attracted but soon discovers she's engaged to his friend's father.

The author serves up a romance with a healthy dose of suspense. This one had me hyperventilating. Like several of the stories I've read recently, this one is part of a contemporary romance collection.

5 Stars. :)

Writers and Readers:  What was the last novel you read and in what genre? Please share why you selected it.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Paperwhites and Procrastination

For years, I've been wanting to buy the paperwhites that show up in stores this time of the year. The thought of having flowers in winter has a certain appeal. Maybe that's why I'm a fan of African Violets and Orchids.

You know something? I never got around to actually purchasing them until a few weeks ago. Planting them was simple - the pot, bulbs, and growing medium were included in the package. They're growing fast even though they haven't bloomed as of this writing. Why on earth did I wait so long? How many other adventures have I missed because of procrastination?

I'm gradually changing my ways. Fourteen years ago, I quit a good job and went to Bible School at the Lord's prompting. This act of obedience was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but it led to meeting my late husband. My writing journey began in earnest after we married. His encouragement and support helped me shush all the negative stuff in my head.

Paperwhites may not seem like a big deal, but they represent the person God has called me to be - one willing to try something new. What is He whispering to your heart? Write that book? Volunteer in the church nursery? Visit those in prison? In Mary's words to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."

Writers and Readers: Do you procrastinate or do you dive in with both feet?

Friday, December 9, 2016

Change/Article Basics/Prayer/Miracles/Unhappy Clutter

1.  Elaine Stock hosts Lisa Lickel on her blog. Lisa talks about how tough change is on us humans. It resonated with me as I was transplanted from one state to another 13 years ago. Her final conclusion made me smile.

2.  If you're into writing novels, have you considered working on some articles? I started out in the non-fiction arena, so this caught my eye. Check out Linda Gilden's tips, at The Write Conversation, on article writing basics.

3.  The United States recently went through one of the most contentious Presidential elections in its history. As a believer, I'm convinced prayer was a key factor. What about now? Can we sit back and relax? This article on Christian Headlines by the late Chuck Colson gives us much to ponder.

4.  I loved this story of a modern-day miracle and thought you might as well.

5.  Unhappy clutter/decor is the subject of a House Beautiful article. You might be surprised at the emotional impact it has on you.

Writers:  Have you considered writing articles in addition to your Great American Novel?
Please share.

Readers:  Do you read books purely for entertainment/escape from reality or have novels made an impact on your life? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Brian Lary

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

On My Nightstand - Beyond the Waves by Lynnette Bonner

Taysia Green hopes dating her new beau, Blaine, will bring her the happiness she's sought. When Kylen Sumner accepts a position on the local police force and shows up at her gym, the shock sends her reeling. Nothing good can come of his reappearance in her life.

As a teen, Kylen played fast and loose with Taysia's heart. After accepting Christ, he's a new man. Can he convince her of that fact?

Lynnette Bonner is a new-to-me author. I thoroughly enjoyed her storytelling and got wrapped up in the lives of her characters.

This is definitely an engaging read for a cold winter night. 5 Stars.

Writers and Readers:  Do you like stories where either the hero or heroine have tried to make up for past mistakes? Please share your thoughts.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Saying Goodbye to Christmas Blues

Since my husband passed away nine years ago, it's been hard to get excited about Christmas. Oh, I've gone through the motions for the sake of those I love, but couldn't muster a whole lot of enthusiasm on a heart level.

A funny thing happened this year. I was in Walmart when the first Christmas decorations appeared, and something inside me woke up. I thought about how bare the outside of my house looked while twinkling lights and wreaths adorned my neighbors' homes. A red bell caught my eye. There wasn't anything special about it, but I picked it up and put it into my cart.

It was way too soon to put it on my front door, but I could hardly wait. As weeks passed, my anticipation heightened. Finally, after Thanksgiving, I decorated. It might not seem like much, but it was a big deal for me.

Christmas joy is back.

Writers and Readers: Was there a time when everyone around you was celebrating but you were doing the "bah humbug" thing? How did you get past the Christmas Blues?

Photo Credit:  Radim Pechan