Monday, November 12, 2018

On My Kindle - Stones for Bread by Christa Parrish

Unlike most of the Christian Fiction I read, this story is character driven rather than story driven. Christa Parrish does a fabulous job exploring the internal struggles of Liesl McNamara, an expert bread maker.

Liesl's entire identity is wrapped up in her love for the craft. It's her way of avoiding the deeper issues of life and connecting with the people around her. When Seamus and his six-year-old daughter, Cecelia, enter her life, she senses the stirrings of true caring.

Just when her life seems to be taking a positive turn, a revelation concerning her past nearly destroys her. Will she move forward or be forever stuck in the past?

The author's insightful dialogue, both external and internal, made me think about how we process our life experiences. There are strong spiritual threads throughout the book as the character searches for her purpose in life.

In addition, Christa gave a delightful view of running a bakery and the art versus the business of food. Readers drawn to the foodie world will find delight in the many intricate recipes for bread.

If you're looking for a change of pace from romantic suspense, this story will provide some different views on life and love.

5 Stars for an excellent, well-written story.

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

Writers: Have you every considered writing a character-driven novel, short story, or article? Please share.

Readers: This book has other characters, but everything is seen through Liesl's eyes. Do you enjoy this type of story or prefer more action/adventure with multiple character point of views? Please share.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Unmet Need/Settling In To Write/Program for Kids/Coffee and Faith/Recipe


1.  Here's an excellent post by Angela Ackerman at Writers in The Storm. "What's Stronger Than Your Character's Fear? Their Unmet Need."

2.  Kristi Holl writes about her experiences of Settling in to Write. This is dear to my heart since I'm breaking out of the doldrums and writing my next book.

3.  Breaking Christian News reports that Samaritan's Purse (Franklin Graham's ministry) has a special program for kids in warn-torn Iraq. Many of them have seen their parents and their playmates murdered. I hope you'll take a few minutes to read this story to learn more about the ministry.

4.  Rhonda Rhea posts at The Write Conversation about Coffee and Faith - Sweet and Strong.

5.  There's nothing quite like the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking on a chilly, Fall day. Averie Cooks has a recipe for cookies made with cake mix. Two things attracted me to this recipe: 1) It's easy. 2) I can make it lactose free.

Writers:  Do you set aside time to write? How do you remain consistent?

Readers: How do you set your priorities in life?

Photo Credit:  se hui Kim

Monday, November 5, 2018

Kitchen and Blogging Adventures

Picture - Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Over the past year, I've taken on preparing the main dish for Sweetie Mom and me. It's not that I dislike cooking, but the kitchen isn't my natural habitat. Some of the things that present a challenge are:

1.  A less than functional kitchen. Small appliances are the name of the game around here, i.e., microwave, George Foreman Grill, toaster oven, electric frypan, and slow cooker. (I've got my eye on one of those Instapots.)

2.  Time. Cooking takes way too long in my opinion, and don't even get me started on the clean up.

3.  Special diets. Sweetie Mom needs low-fat, low-sodium food, while I need lactose free.

Thankfully, the internet provides an easy way to get recipes. I'm enjoying the journey these days. We've tried new foods (Roasted Red Pepper soup, coconut muffins to name a couple) and explored new stores for ingredients.

To deal with the time factor, I cook in bulk for the week. Neither of us mind leftovers, so it works for us. If your family doesn't like eating this way, setting aside one day a month to do a massive cooking can reduce your daily/weekly cooking tasks. 

Years ago when I was commuting two hours each way to work, I followed this plan. A big pot of sauce, a pot roast, chicken cutlets, and a couple of other meat dishes were cooked, put in separate containers, and frozen for weeknight meals.

Blogging is a lot like cooking. What am I going to write for tomorrow's post? Since the whole food thing is taking up a considerable amount of thought, why not use that as an analogy? Daily life is great fodder for the blogger.

Like so many life events, new responsibilities (and old ones) move me to pray. I've been sitting here in front of the computer, asking the Lord to give me ideas for this blog. This subject is one that popped up.

I've discovered my life goes a lot smoother when I stay in close touch with The Greatest Creative Genius of all, my Lord. Whether cooking, working, blogging, writing, etc., He's my constant source of inspiration.

With the holidays fast approaching, make time for Him, and He'll show you how to remain at peace and experience joy whether or not the tasks are easy for you. Dive in and give it all you've got, praising Him and loving your family.

Writers and Readers: What are some of your greatest stress points during the holidays? How do you cope with them?

Photo: Roasted Red Pepper Soup - Copyright@Susan J. Reinhardt

Friday, November 2, 2018

Editing Tips/What It Takes/Christians in China/Devo/Vintage Doilies


1.  I'm always looking for ways to improve my writing. Julie Glover, at Writers in The Storm, give some easy edits to make your story flow better.

2. Are you a wanna-be-writer or newbie writer? You'll want to read this honest and blunt post by Edie Melson, at The Write Conversation, on what it takes to reach your publication goals.

3.  Christian Headlines shares the latest news on what's happening with Christians in China. I never want to take for granted the freedom to worship. We are truly blessed and need to protect that right vigorously.

4. MaryAnn Diorio posts on, "Is Fear Quenching Your Faith."

5. Susan, at Writing Straight From The Heart, shares the beautiful vintage doilies she found at a recent sale. These made me so nostalgic. I still have some my Mom crocheted years ago. A friend made one for a wedding gift, which I have on one of my nightstands. They're so pretty, and I appreciate all the hard work that goes into them.

Writers:  Which editing tip helped you the most (either in this article or elsewhere)?

Readers:  Do you have any vintage pieces from your family? Please share.

Photo Credit: Zsuzsa N.K.

Monday, October 29, 2018

ON MY KINDLE - The Lacemaker by Laura Frantz

Lady Elizabeth Stirling's life seems idyllic to those on the outside, but her dictatorial father makes it miserable. With growing unrest in the colonies, their loyalty to England's king puts them in danger.

Noble Rynallt is one of the fiery Independence Men. When Elizabeth's fiancé and his cousin presses him into escorting her to a ball, he agrees. Perhaps he could glean some information about the Tories and their plans.

Neither expect their lives to take a drastic turn. When Elizabeth's father and his Tory friends flee, she finds herself alone with nowhere to turn. Her fiancé has abandoned her because her dowry was no longer available. The only one who cares what happens to her is the kindhearted Independence Man.

I've read several of Laura Frantz's books set in the early days of Kentucky and enjoyed them. The Colonial/Revolutionary War setting provided a pleasant change.

Apart from the love story, the enormity of what our forefathers endeavored with God's help came through in living color. The odds of beating the most powerful nation on earth seemed insurmountable. The author created characters and did a masterful job of inserting them into the historical events.

I'm giving this book five stars. If you love American History, you'll find this covers a much-neglected area in fiction.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a positive review. As always, all opinions are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Have you ever considered writing a historical novel in this time period? Please share.

Readers:  Would you like to see more Christian Fiction set during this time period? Why/why not?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Manuscript Cleaning/How Long?/Archaeology/Devo/Recipe


1. After the dizzying joy of writing, "The End," to a manuscript comes the dreaded task of editing and revising it. Zoe M. McCarthy gives tips for cleaning up your manuscript prior to sending it to a paid editor (which is highly recommended).

2.  Have you ever wondered how long it should take to write a book? Merilyn Simonds tackles this question on Jane Friedman's blog.

3. Breaking Christian News reports on archaeological evidence confirming the location of Biblical Sodom. It's where the Bible says it was.

4. I chuckled over Rhonda Rhea's devotional on The Write Conversation. She talks about God's Spiritual Routine.

5.  OK, so how can I skip into November without a Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread recipe? The answer is, "I can't." Averie Cooks has a yummy version, which she calls, "Accidentally Vegan." For me, it's great because there's no butter and I can use a non-dairy milk. I've printed this one out and hope to make it soon.

Writers:  How long does it take you to write a book (or article)? Please share.

Readers:  What did you take away from Rhonda Rhea's devotional?

Photo Credit:  Justine FG

Monday, October 22, 2018

On My Kindle - Chasing the Music by Mark Alan Leslie

Chasing the Music by [Leslie, Mark Alan]

Dr. Katherine "Kat"  Cardova, a world-renowned archaeologist, vows to continue the work of a colleague almost killed by a terrorist group. She's desperate to get to the dig where he made a startling discovery, but doesn't have the necessary transportation.

Max Braxton arrives in Israel, hoping to write a book and decide what he wants to do in the future. When Kat approaches him, he agrees to get her to the site. He's intrigued by this stunning redhead and her thirst for adventure.

Neither could imagine the dangers facing them as a terror network targets anyone trying to find the ancient artifact critical to the building of the Third Temple. With the expertise they both possess, their contacts in the Israeli government and military, and God's hand on their search, they weather the most frightening weeks of their lives.

I had to chuckle that I picked up a novel with an archaeological theme. I'd  forgotten what this book was about since I bought it quite a while ago.

The pace of this story was blistering from the get-go. The strong spiritual thread, the budding romance, and the mystery hit all my favorite elements. I'll be looking for more of Mr. Mark Alan  Leslie's books.

I'm giving Chasing the Music five stars.

Disclaimer:  Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a review (favorable or otherwise). As always, the opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Writers: When writing suspense, do you jump right into the action or let it build?

Readers:  When reading suspense, do you like non-stop action or do you want a breather in between?

Friday, October 19, 2018

Writing Tips/Character Interviews/Faith Problem/Devo/Fall Activities

Autumn in New York 3

1.  Laurie Schnebly Campbell guest posts at Writers in The Storm on the subject of plot,  character and genre. This is a must-read for both aspiring and more experienced novelists.

2.  Zoe M. McCarthy talks about Writing Character Interviews for Promotions. This can be a valuable tool in your marketing plan.

3. Christian Headlines reports that a Jacksonville, FL City Councilman said after a mass shooting that America has a "faith problem."

This reminds me of Pastor/Author/Teacher Jonathan Cahn's assertion that America is on borrowed time. We don't need a revival. We need another great awakening. I'm glad more people are talking about the root problem in our country.

4.  Sarah van Diest posts at The Write Conversation on, "Created for Truth." One of the areas I've been dealing with head on is fear and worry. They are both tools of the enemy of our souls. We've been given the ability to overcome both of them.

5.  Colin, at Hip2Save, shares some fun activities for the family during the Fall season. The best part? Most of them are FREE!

Writers:  Have you ever done a character interview? Did it help you promote your book? Please share.

Readers:  What fun activities have you done with your family this Fall?

Photo Credit:  Piotr Bizlor

Monday, October 15, 2018

On My Kindle - Beyond All Dreams by Elizabeth Camden

Beyond All Dreams by [Camden, Elizabeth]

Anna O'Brien loves her job as a map librarian at the Library of Congress. In the course of her work, she comes upon a mystery. Her attempts to get answers brings the wrath of the Navy Department down on her, and she's ordered to cease and desist her investigation.

Luke Callahan rises to prominence as a Congressman from Maine, but his career takes a severe hit when a scandal surrounds him. He enlists Anna's help with some research and soon can't get her out of his mind.

Dating a Congressman got one of Anna's co-workers fired, and she's terrified of the risks. With each passing day, her feelings for the fiery Luke Callahan grow stronger. His willingness to help her get answers only strengthens them. Will the two of them succeed in their quest or will they both go down in flames?

Elizabeth Camden did a great job with her historical research, as well as her character arcs. Both Luke and Anna managed to gain my sympathy and alternately my annoyance as they traveled down the road to romance. An author who can elicit that type of emotional response has done their job well.

I'm giving this book four stars only because the pacing got bogged down in spots. Still, it was an enjoyable read. If you like historical romance, I think you'll find it entertaining.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a favorable review (or any review). All opinions, as always, are mine and mine alone.

Writers: Have you tried your hand at historical romance? Please share.

Readers: What kind of careers would you like to see represented in fiction?

Friday, October 12, 2018

Writer Voice/Discouragement/Possible Cure/Inspiring Post/Recipe

Man with a megaphone 2
1.  For all you newbie writers and for those still confused about writer voice, Lisa Hall-Wilson clarifies its meaning.

2.  Janet Sketchley posts at the Seriously Write blog about discouragement and thoughts of quitting her writing.

3. Cancer is a horrible scourge, so any news pointing to a possible cure produces great hope. Breaking Christian News reports on development of a drug for acute myeloid leukemia.

My husband died from the acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a different form of the disease. Please pass this information along to anyone who is suffering or has a loved one battling leukemia.

4. Dena Netherton volunteers at a crisis pregnancy center. In this post, she gives a glimpse of her activities. She may never know the full impact of her work, but she knows God is weaving the threads into a bigger tapestry.

5. I don't know about you, but I love pasta salads. Unfortunately, most of them require mayonnaise or creamy dressings, which I can't eat. Averie Cooks came up with a Skinny Italian Pasta Salad recipe that I just printed out. If you try it, please let me know if it's as tasty as it looks.

Writers:  Have you ever been confused about "writer voice?" What is your definition?

Readers:  Which topics in the Friday posts speak to you? I'd be interested in your feedback. :)

Photo Credit:  Bartek Ambrozik

Monday, October 8, 2018

On My Nightstand - Elisha's Bones by Don Hoesel


Mr. Hoesel is a new-to-me author, and I was quite taken with his storytelling. The book promised a lot of action, but started off slowly. Once it got started, though, it was hang-onto-your-hat time. It reminded me of that slow ascent on a roller coaster before the huge drop, twists, and turns.

Elisha's Bones is a Jack Hawthorne mystery. The archaeologist is hired to find the bones of the prophet, Elisha, due to their ability to raise people from the dead. Jack never figured his life would be in danger on such an assignment. He and his former girlfriend, Esperanza, embark on a multi-continent search.

One thing is crystal clear: There's no going back to his normal life as a college professor until the mystery is solved and those trying to kill him are brought to justice.

I'm giving this book 5 Stars for its action and suspense. An Amazon search is in order for his other books (to add to my already long TBR list!).

Disclaimer: I did not receive any payment for a favorable review. All opinions expressed, as always, are mine and mine alone.

Writers and Readers: How long do you stay with a book that doesn't seem to be going anywhere in the first couple of chapters?

Friday, October 5, 2018

Writing How-To/Reader Take-Away/Avoiding Compromise/Devo/Recipe


1. I don't often find quality blog posts for the non-fiction writer, but this one caught my attention. If you're interested in writing How-To books, Betsy Graziani Fasbinder, at Jane Friedman's blog, gives 5 Steps to Writing Better How-To.

2. When I was writing non-fiction, a key principle involved giving the reader a take-away. Katy Kauffman posts at The Write Conversation and gives tips on how of  accomplish this.

3. Pamela Christian wrote a blog post called, "Reformation Without Compromise." We've all seen the slugfests on Facebook and other social media. Pamela points to the Word and shows us the alternative way to express our viewpoints. This was well worth the read.

4. Emme Gannon, at The Write Conversation, talks about, "The Radiance of the Humble Writer." While directed toward writers, the principles can apply to anyone.

5.  It's fall, and everything is about pumpkin: pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and even (gasp!)) pumpkin cereal. Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to the deluge of pumpkin recipes. In fact, I found an easy one for pumpkin bread that I'm going to try. Check out the details on Food Network.

Writers:  Take-aways are important in non-fiction. What was your favorite tip from items 1 and 2?

Readers:  What's your favorite pumpkin recipe? If you have a link, feel free to include it in your comment.

Photo Credit:  Jacqueline Schacht

Monday, October 1, 2018

On My Nightstand - A Name Unknown by Roseanna M. White

A Name Unknown (Shadows Over England Book #1) by [White, Roseanna M.]

Rosemary Gresham, orphaned as a child and a "street rat," joined with 11 other homeless kids and found a way to survive. When a mysterious stranger offers her a huge amount of money to discover proof an individual was a traitor to Great Britain, she jumps at the opportunity.

Peter Holstein, a man who befriended King George, is looked upon with suspicion due to an impending war and his German heritage. He must find documents attesting to his British citizenship and loyalty to the crown. When Rosemary shows up at his door and applies for the job of librarian, he senses she is God's answer to his prayers.

He's also a renowned novelist, writing under a pen name. How will these two people, working against each other, ultimately discover common ground and a future in a world torn apart by war?

I have to say that Ms. White comes up with some amazing storylines. She highlights the  horrible conditions orphans suffered through in England during the Edwardian period. Although her character is a master thief, she has a heart that wants to provide for her younger charges.

Peter, as a strong Christian, provides the spiritual thread and answers many of Rosemary's questions. While he is supposed to be only several years older than her, I had to keep reminding myself that he wasn't an old man. Perhaps his wisdom contributed to that impression.

As a writer myself, I'm fascinated when a character is an author. His methods for crafting a story resonated with me. I chuckled at how he took observances from real life and incorporated them into his manuscript.

Roseanna M. White has produced another winner. This is the first book of her Shadows Over England  Series. I can't wait to read the other books.

5 Stars all the way!

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a favorable review. I purchased this book, and all opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

Writers:  Do you observe the various characteristics of people and use that knowledge to craft your characters? Please share.

Readers:  Do you like stories that question the status quo and make you think? Please share your thoughts.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Social Media/Writer Encouragement/Socialism/Devo/Declutter

Free image for you seo or web marketing blog or site!

1. Social Media is a necessity for authors and Write Conversation writers, but how can you determine which ones work for you. Edie Melson, at  The Write Conversation, talks about "Finding Your Social Media Easy Button."

2. Not everyone will love your articles/books. Julie Glover, at Writers in the Storm, shares some facts and surprising reviews of well-known stories.

3. Many Americans are flirting with socialism these days. Yahoo News reports on socialism in Venezuela. It's not pretty.

4. Do you sometimes wonder if your words matter? Whether you're a professional writer or not, they do. Sarah Van Diest posts at The Write Conversation and urges us to go, write, and love.

5.  'Tis the season to declutter! Hip2Save and its readers have some great advice for curating your stuff. I particularly liked the suggestion to clear one room at a time. This way I don't feel like the entire house is a wreck.

Writers:  Have you found your social media, "easy button?" Please share.

Readers:  Which link was your favorite this week? I'd be interested in your thoughts.

Photo Credit:  Luissosorio

Monday, September 24, 2018

Does What I Do Matter?

letters 1 (YES)

Now there's a question many have asked themselves. Somehow it isn't enough to engage in an activity, whether it's writing or something else, unless it has a positive impact on the world around us.

Think about it:

1.  Medical students want to help people get well.
2.  Researchers want to find a cure for a deadly disease.
3.  Volunteers want to aid the less fortunate.
4.  Others want to stop human trafficking.
5.  And writers, ah, yes, writers want to raise awareness of social ills, share the Gospel, and a whole host of other topics.

Writing for publication can take a long time. Learning the craft, practicing, receiving critiques, finding out the intricacies of the business side, platform building, and other aspects can be daunting.

How many times have I asked:

"Why am I putting myself through this?"
"Is it worthwhile?"
"Are my words impacting lives?"

Then, I recall the day I asked the Lord if He truly wanted me on this path. I'd married and moved to another state. No matter what I did, I couldn't seem to connect with the Christian writing community in my area. Being a newbie, I had no idea how to proceed.

Within a half hour - A HALF HOUR - I received a call from a local writer inviting me to a writers group. It's not often that answers come that fast, and it made me sit up and take notice.

Throughout the years, I've seen the Lord level writing mountains. My part is to be faithful to the call, and let Him move in the hearts of readers.

Writers and Readers:  When preparation for a ministry or career seems endless, how do you stay motivated?

Photo Credit:  Stephen Tainton