Friday, September 30, 2016

Platform Killing/Better Goal/Homeschool/Devo/Thrifting



1.         Are you killing your social media presence? Check out this article by Karen Ball, at Literary Agent Steve Laube's website.

2.         A lot of writers have a goal: Get a publishing contract. Chad Allen gives us a better goal in his recent blog post.

3.         Homeschool parents have long faced opposition. Some in California recently received a letter, saying homeschool was not a legal alternative to public education. Read the story here.

4.         I read a devotional at ibelieve.com on What The Power of Praise Can Do. I thought you might enjoy it as well. We're faced with so many difficulties in our personal lives and in the world. It's good to re-focus on God.

5.         Some of my readers love going to thrift stores and yard sales. Like you, I share the passion of the hunt and the unexpected bargains. Check out this blog post by One Little Momma, who gives tips on finding great deals.

Writers:  How do you handle promotion on social media?

Readers:  What was your favorite link today?

Photo Credit:  Trevor Kirpaul

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

On My Nightstand - The Courier of Caswell Hall by Melanie Dobson



This book attracted me because it takes place during the Revolutionary War in Williamsburg, Virginia. In addition to a sometimes heart-breaking romance, I enjoyed history coming alive through the characters' eyes. Other than Betsey Ross sewing our first flag, I never gave much thought to the role of women in the war effort.

Like the Civil War, families, neighbors and friends were divided between the Patriots and the Loyalists. Each feared reprisals from the other side.

The one thing I'd suggest to readers is skip the prologue until after you've finished the story. I felt it gave away too much and diluted the tension. It nearly ruined the book for me. I'm glad I stuck with it though as the second half of the story picked up the pace.

Well written, great characters, awesome historical details, and a great plot make this a satisfying story. If not for the prologue, I'd give it five stars. As it stands, I'm giving it four stars.


Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher requested a favorable review. I didn't receive any payment, and all opinions are mine and mine alone.


Writers:  While I've used a prologue in one of my books (The Moses Conspiracy), I avoided getting too specific. Do you use prologues/epilogues? Please share.

 Readers: What is your opinion of prologues/epilogues? Yay or nay?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Guest Blog - When You Are Worried by Jeanette Levellie


Worry dogs us all. The famous and obscure; the wealthy and the indigent; youth and the elderly—few have mastered the secret of casting all their cares on the Lord and leaving them in his hands. Yet it can be done.
            With the Holy Spirit’s help and the prayers of a good friend, we can learn to rest in the Lord during fearful times. I hope you’ll consider me that friend today as you read the words of this prayer. I hope it will encourage you on your journey to touch God.

When You Are Worried
Lord, my friend is not only worried; she’s also mad at herself for worrying. She knows You’ve promised never to leave her or forsake her. Yet she frets and agonizes over everything, from what she imagines people think of her to the threat of cancer.
Her worries torment her, slithering at her feet and perching on her shoulders, hissing dark thoughts and cackling what-ifs. Very real what-ifs, Lord, or she would dismiss them as foolish.
Yet they are not more real than Your love for her, Your care for her. For You are her Good Shepherd.
Please reassure her that, should she entangle herself in the thorn bush of troubles or sickness, You will remove every thorn, pull her free, and carry her on Your shoulders to safety.
Convince her that if someone else should trick her into wandering from the path You’ve planned for her, if she should get lost and be unable to hear You call, You would search for her until You found her and brought her home.
Should a star fall from the sky and burn her, You would heal her. Should she jump to catch a star and fall down, You would bandage her bruises, pick her up, and help her stand.
Let her know that she is never far from Your help. Every beat of Your heart is for her; Your every breath is to see her prosper and be protected. You never abandon Your sheep. Never. Even when it seems You have walked away, You are still right there beside her, cherishing her, holding her close to Your heart.
Encourage my friend to doubt her worries and to believe Your love instead. Let her hear Your sweetest song that sings to her troubled soul, “I love you always, even to the end. I will never stop loving you. You are Mine, and I am yours. All will be well.”
In Jesus’ name, so be it.
References to Scripture: Hebrews 13:5; 1 Peter 5:7, John 10; Luke 15:3–7;
1 John 4:18
The above prayer is an excerpt from Jeanette Levellie’s newest book Touchable God: Finding the Lord’s Friendship Through Prayer.
“Every Christian longs for an intimate walk with the Lord, talking openly with their Heavenly Father and hearing from Him. Touchable God addresses this longing, helping you find a joy-filled relationship with the Lord instead of a joyless religion. In Section I Jeanette shares stories from her own journey in prayer. Written in her warm and casual style, these candid glimpses into Jeanette's tests and trials will help you believe the Lord's willingness to be involved in every area of your life. Section II consists of Jeanette's bold, often poetic prayers for friends in crisis. You need answers, and the Scripturally-based prayers will help you approach God's throne to find them. Touchable God gives caring friends, family members, and ministry leaders specific prayers for others' needs and guides you in praying for yourself during crises.”
  


A spunky pastor’s wife of forty plus years, Jeanette Levellie has published four books and hundreds of articles, greeting card verses, stories and calendar poems. She authors a weekly humor/inspirational column in her local newspaper, and enjoys speaking to church and civic groups, offering hope and humor in every message. She is the mother of two, grandmother of three, and waitress to several cats. Find her blog, Hope Splashes, at http://jeanettelevellie.blogspot.com

Disclaimer:  I endorsed this book but didn't receive any payment for the recommendation or this post. 

Writers and Readers: How do you deal with worry?


Friday, September 23, 2016

Freelance/Writing Opportunities/Global Police/Devo/Purple!



1.         Are you a freelance writer or want to earn a living as a freelancer? Jennifer Brown Banks guest posts at Beyond Your Blog about how to break the Freelance Feast or Famine Cycle.

2.         Beyond Your Blog as a list of 20 Christian websites accepting writing from women.

3.         The Daily Coin reported that Obama and the U.N. announced a global police force to fight extremism in America. This also appeared in The Drudge Report. I remember how an acquaintance scoffed at the idea of U.N. forces in America when he read The Moses Conspiracy. It's not as farfetched as he thought.

4.         Alisa Hope Wagner, at Faith Imagined, gives a verse meditation on Ephesians 5:8.

5.  Susan, at Writing Straight From The Heart, caught my eye with her photos of Breckenridge, Colorado. As a lover of all things purple (well, maybe not black and blues), these gorgeous hanging baskets made me want to run out and buy one.

Writers:  Have you thought about becoming a freelancer? Please share.

Readers:  Which link was your favorite this week? Why?

Photo Credit:  Simon S.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

On My Nightstand - Flee From Evil by Connie Almony



This is a multi-layered story about two people, whose paths cross again. They've both changed after becoming Christians, but Cassandra has a hard time believing Vince has truly turned his life around. With two kids, one autistic, her protective instincts are at high alert.

Author Connie Almony did a good job with the characters. I thought the story benefited from the addition of the autistic child. Autism has become more common, and I learned quite a bit about the subject.

I did get a bit annoyed with the heroine's intense grudge but found it more understandable as past incidents were revealed. The element of suspense ramped up the tension for me and lifted it from a simple romance to a riveting story.

This book gets five stars. I'm looking forward to the next story in this series.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher requested a favorable review. I didn't receive any payment, and all opinions are mine and mine alone.


Writers:  Have you thought about including characters with disabilities in your stories? Please share.

Readers:  Have you read stories that educated you about some aspect of life (not only illnesses)? Do they appeal to you? Please share.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Guest Post - The Wish List by Karen E. Lange


Have you ever made a wish list? As a kid, mine included toys. As an adult, it includes a new Jeep Grand Cherokee. Dark red, please. :)

What about a wish list of a different sort, the kind that includes goals and dreams?

When I worked as a homeschool consultant for a New Jersey homeschool network, we had a curriculum counseling program for parents and students. The high school program's customized educational plan encouraged teens to make up a wish list. We asked teens a series of questions, which included the following:

Who inspires you? Why?

What careers interest you?

What types of books do you like to read?

What period of history interests you most? Why?

If money were no object, what activities would you like to do? Where would you travel? We found that wish lists often contained cues or patterns - things or areas that students might pursue via study, hobby, recreation, etc. This could offer clues for careers, goals, and dreams. We encouraged students to add to and reassess the lists through their high school years.

I wondered recently how this idea related to the writer’s life. What might we learn through a wish list? Could it help focus a dream? Urge us to reach for a lofty goal? Clear mental confusion and clutter? Light a fire in a discouraged heart?

I wonder if a wish list should be a requirement for writers, to encourage us, to help us dream big, clarify a niche, reveal strengths, interests, and potential writing opportunities. What do you think?

While writing this post, I stumbled across this quote by Les Brown, and thought it rather fitting.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars.”

Swinging among the stars doesn’t sound like a bad idea, does it?

Where do your writing dreams take you?

Happy writing, Karen :)

Karen Lange is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, an online writing instructor at the coffeehouseforwriters.com, and the author of two books for homeschool parents. Her articles have been featured in numerous print and online publications. She's a big fan of dark chocolate, historical fiction, and ice hockey. Visit Karen at her blog, karenelange.blogspot.com

Friday, September 16, 2016

Writing Tips/Negative to Positive/Supreme Court/Recipe/Devo



1.         Have you ever wondered if it's okay to use trademarked names in your writing? Check out this article on Daily Writing Tips.

2.         A bad review - sooner or later we all get one. Molly Jo Realy guest posts at The Write Conversation and shares how she turned a negative into a positive.

3.         Our religious freedom is in danger. See this article on Christian pharmacy case being refused by the Supreme Court.

4.         I saw this yummy-looking recipe and thought you might like it - Parmesan Garlic Vegetables.

5.         Blogger Buddy, Rhonda Schrock, delivers a powerful devotional on handling envy.

Writers:  Have you used brand names in your writing? Please share.

Readers:  How do you handle the green-eyed monster?

Photo Credit:  Ashley Wilkinson

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

On My Nightstand - The Isaac Project by Sarah Monzon




This is Author Sarah Monzon's debut novel, and she did a really good job. Some might consider the hero, Luke Masterson, too perfect, but my own Prince Charming was a lot like him. :) Becky Sawyer, the heroine, is well portrayed. Her emotional pain and thought processes ring true.

The story premise fascinated me - a modern-day Isaac and Rebecca. Becky's friend, Lisa, acted as the go-between and took her role seriously.

As an action/suspense fan, the mystery element added to the tension. The author put together an appealing story with characters I could care about.

I'm giving this one five stars and looking forward to more from this author.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher requested a favorable review. I didn't receive any payment, and all opinions are mine and mine alone.


Writers:   Numerous authors have taken Biblical stories and given them a modern or historical twist. Have you considered writing this type of fiction? Why or why not?

Readers:  Do unusual plots pique your interest or do you favor the tried and true? Please share.



Monday, September 12, 2016

Making Lemonade










 

 

Yeah, I know summer is galloping into the sunset, but I'm talking about a different kind of beverage. You know - when life hands you lemons kind of lemonade.

 

This is my first post since the end of July. As most of you know, I went on a blog break to recover from a broken wrist and a gash in my scalp. Typing with one paw in a cast isn't easy.

 

Here were some of the lemons:

 

1.         It hurt!

2.         Being right handed, writing was almost impossible.

3.         Common tasks like doing my hair, putting on socks, opening a cereal box, cutting a piece of meat, and many other things didn't happen.

4.         Driving - not allowed. This hit hard since I'm the official Sweetie Mom chaueffeur. 

5.         Dealing with doctors and insurance companies.

6.         Having four staples removed - serious ouch. They finally had to give me a local anesthetic.

7.         Feeling like a zombie for the first two weeks.

 

Ah, but lest you think it was all lemons, I sprinkled in some sugar, water and stirred.

 

1.         Most of my clothes accommodated the purple cast with no problem and color coordinated.

2.         I'm thankful for walking shoes with velcro closures. Only one hand needed!

3.         Catching up on five years worth of sleep.

4.         I'm grateful to Sweetie Mom for jumping into the driver's seat and getting us around town. It gave us both a measure of independence.

5.         I learned that putting my laundry in lightweight duffle bags is easier than lugging it in clunky baskets. I'll probably use this method from now on.

6.         Riding to church and doctor appointments with friends and getting to know them better.

7.         Awesome neighbors - food, doctor appointment ride, moving my car when necessary.

8.         Did I mention sleep?

9.         As I recovered and pain no longer shot up my arm at the slightest effort to use my fingers, I was able to read, do some editing with my left hand, reconcile my checkbook, and other small tasks.

10.       I'm thankful for my wonderful bosses and co-workers who kept everything humming while I was out. Special thanks to my friend in HR, who advised me on finding my way through the insurance maze.

11.       Jessica, in my doctor's office, helped me a great deal with the insurance issues.

12.       Most of all, I had more time to reflect, get into the Word, and discuss situations with the Lord.

 

As you can see, the lemons meant to ruin my summer instead made me appreciate family, friends, and remind me of those lazy school vacations.

 

Writers and Readers:  Did you have times when you chose to make lemonade out of lemons? Please share.


Photo Credit: ilker

Friday, July 29, 2016

Blogging Break (Pun Intended)



As most of you know, I broke my right wrist on June 25th. I'm grateful for answered prayer - I didn't need surgery.

With two weeks left in the royal purple cast and an unknown amount of physical therapy, I've decided to take a blogging break until Monday, September 12th. Hopefully, this will give me enough time to recover the strength in my hand/arm.

Prayer Requests:  1) Fully healed bone on last doctor visit. 2) Strength and no pain in wrist. 3) A smooth re-entry into my job, which requires heavy writing and computer use.

Thanks! See you in September. :)



Friday, July 22, 2016

Faces/Edit/Inspire/Distraction/Write Faster





1.  Bryn Donovan gives a list of facial expressions writers can use. I'm bookmarking this one.

2.  Diana Urban gives a list of words you should cut from your writing immediately.

3. This is a truly inspirational story of a deaf young man. https://youtu.be/CNCPgrm8Gu4

4.  Lynn Simpson talks about how she tried to fight distraction with more distraction. It didn't work. Check out her thoughtful post.

5. Bloggers - want to write content faster? Check out Zoe McCarthy's post.

Writer's: What are some of your favorite words to cut from your writing? One of mine is, "that."

Readers: I'm reading a book where the author uses some unique terminology to describe setting, emotions, etc. They make me smile, but sometimes distract me from the story. Do these type of devices add to your reading pleasure or annoy you? Please share.

P.S. Sorry there's no graphic. I had this post almost done when I broke my wrist a few weeks ago. It's a challenge typing much less searching for graphics.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Picture Books/Characters/Acquitted/Close to Home/Book Decor




1.  People think writing for kids is easy. Once you read 6 Essentials in Writing Picture Books, you'll have a different perspective. Joanne Sher guest posts at Zoe M. McCarthy's blog.

2.  Kathleen McCleary, at Writer Unboxed, talks about developing characters organically. She attended her 35th college reunion and asked questions. They always brought responses that were the beginnings of a story - loss, success, etc. Some of her methods appeal to my Seat-of-the-Pants writing style. Check it out.

3.  ChristianHeadlines.com reports that David Daleiden was acquitted of trying to sell baby body parts. The investigative reporter, whose videos sparked an outcry against Planned Parenthood, became the target of their supporters. Get the details here.

4.  Author, Blogger, and Facebook friend, Wendy Paine Miller, reflects on tragedy no longer seeming far away.

5.  When I came across the blog, Thrifty Style at 67, I parked there for quite a long time. This post on book decor begged entrance to a Friday Potpourri post. Enjoy!

Writers:  How do you create your characters? Do you do character charts or allow them to reveal their lives to you naturally? Please share.

Readers: What did you think of the book decor blog post? Do you use books as part of your decor? Please share.

Photo Credit:  

Friday, July 8, 2016

Non-Disclosure/Public Speaking/China/Writing Output/Planters



1.  Susan Spann, at Writers In The Storm, gives important advice on non-disclosure clauses in publishing contracts. She urges writers to consult an attorney if they see one in their contract. This is a must read for authors.

2.  Whether you're a non-fiction or fiction writer, marketing is part of the package. Zoe M. McCarthy gives tips on building confidence for public speaking.

3.  Many Christians experience persecution throughout the world. China Christians were forbidden to hold a prayer meeting recently. Please check out the post on how China is cracking down on believers.

4.  Jody Hedlund gives 3 Tips to Help Increase Writing Output. I'm going to try #3. :)

5.  Susan, at Writing Straight From the Heart, shares her experience with the hazards of using breakable containers outdoors.

Writers:  Do you have speaking engagements? How do you handle the jitters?

Readers:  Do you garden? What types of unusual planters have you used outdoors?

Photo Credit:  Brad Harrison

Friday, July 1, 2016

Controversy/Inner Dialogue/Genocide/Legal/Freelance



1.  There's a lot of controversy in the Christian publishing community over how far writers can push the boundaries when it comes to profanity, sexual content, and violence. Bruce Brady, at The Write Conversation, tackles this subject head-on.

2.  Zoe M. McCarthy talks about writing inner dialogue that speaks to the reader. As always, her posts are mini-workshops.

3.  Christian Headlines reports that few Christian Syrians are obtaining refugee status despite the declaration that ISIS is committing genocide.

4.  Jennifer, at Pen and Prosper, points out 3 legal issues that can enhance your blogging.

5.  Jean Fischer always writes informative posts. Here she does a Q&A on 11 Questions You Shouldn't Ask A Freelance Writer.

Writers:  What's your opinion on pushing the boundaries in Christian Fiction?

Readers:  Do you read only Christian Fiction? How do you feel about authors wanting to add more realism to their stories?

Photo Credit:  Simon Gurney

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Decorating With Books



I'm a big Pinterest fan. Visuals often inspire blog posts, and this one illustrates that fact. I've been seeing pins about decorating with books - everything from traditional libraries to Christmas trees made from books.

Here are a few pictures of my book nook. I love the way the volumes express my interests. :)


This room is decorated in soft yellows with varying shades of blue. The books add a pop of color to keep the room from looking too matchy-matchy.
 
                                                                                                                                                                             

I found the needlepoint footstool in an Amish Country antique shop. The colors were perfect for the space.










The sunny location partially inspired the color scheme. I also saw a bedroom in Better Homes and Gardens with blue and yellow and thought it would be perfect for my home.

Writers and Readers:  Do you have a writing/reading nook? Do you use books to decorate in unusual ways? Please share. 

P.S. I'm not a photographer, so please excuse the amateurish pictures.