Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On My Nightstand - From Russia With Love by Susan May Warren

I've seen this author on social media, but I'd never read her books. From Russia With Love was part of a romance collection that I picked up on a whim, and I'm so glad I did.

Ekaterina (Kat) Hope Moore travels to Russia with a key and a picture on a quest to find her family. From the moment she goes through customs until the end of the story, we're taken on one wild ride.

Vadeem Spasanov, a tough FSB Officer (think KGB), believes Kat is in league with an international smuggler and trails her. He can't figure out what it is about the feisty, escape-artist American that gets under his skin.

When I have to stop reading and I'm frustrated, I always know it's a keeper. Wow, I love romance with a strong element of suspense.  I'll be looking for more of Susan May Warren's books. 5 Stars for this one.

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

Writers and Readers:  Do you like romances with suspense/mystery? What is your preference: historical or contemporary?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Small Steps, Life Lessons

Someone posted a review on a friend's book and made a snide comment about how he probably prays to find his keys. It was meant to be a put down, but he has no clue how practical and how concerned God is when it comes to His kids.

Faith put into action on the small things prepares us for when big situations come our way - and they do show up. It's like working a muscle. When I was in Occupational Therapy, they started easy exercises and progressed to harder ones as I regained function in my wrist and hand.

As a writer, the same principle holds true. I learned to celebrate and be thankful for each victory no matter how insignificant it might seem to others. Some examples:

1.  An acceptance by an online publication.
2.  Recognizing a mistake with point of view without someone telling me.
3.  Having an "ah ha moment" while mastering a difficult scene.
4.  Praying for the next step in a story and waking up with the answer.
5.  Having an agent at a writers conference tell me that I write well (even though what I was writing wasn't something she wanted).

These are only a few of the encouragements that kept me on the path to publication. While I'm now multi-published, each day brings new and bigger challenges. Yet, I can move forward in faith because a foundation of trust in God upholds me.

Writers:  What are some of the small steps you've celebrated in your journey to publication?

Readers:  What are you grateful for as we enjoy Thanksgiving and Christmas?

Photo Credit:  Brian Zerangue

Friday, November 25, 2016


1.  Molly Jo Realy guest posts at The Write Conversation. Do photo social media sites like Instagram help a writer? She explores that question and gives suggestions on how to take advantage of their popularity.

2.  Here's Part II of Donna L.H. Smith's series on Creating Suspense. She defines the terms "mystery" and "suspense."

3.  Christian Headlines reports on Tim Tebow praying for a man having a seizure. This athlete knows what's important and isn't afraid to act out his faith in public. We need more Tim Tebows in sports.

4.  Dr. MaryAnn Diorio talks about How to Drive Out the Darkness.

5.  Did you enjoy Thanksgiving? If your refrigerators are bulging like turkey just out of the oven, here is a recipe you might want to try. (Aren't we blessed with such bounty?)

Writers:  Have you experimented with photo social media sites? Please share.

Readers:  What do you make with your leftovers? We always enjoyed a second (and third) turkey dinner, as well as snacking on cold leftovers.

Photo Credit:  Adriaan de man

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

The First Thanksgiving

I found this well-made video on YouTube about the first Thanksgiving. We're almost at the end of another year, and I'm thankful for God's protection and grace. He brought me through five months of recovering from a broken wrist, provided help through that time, and met our every need.

It's easy to focus on the difficulties of life. Yet, when we count our blessings, we realize that the good far outweighs the bad. 

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May He cause His face to shine upon you and give you peace.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Women of the Mayflower

While researching Thanksgiving for this post, my interest was piqued by a note on Wikipedia that four women were present, Eleanor Billington, Elizabeth Hopkins, Mary Brewster, and Susanna White.

What were these women and the others who came over on the Mayflower like? I decided to focus my exploration on learning more about them. I found an excellent website by Caleb Johnson.

Some fascinating facts:

1.  18 women came over on the Mayflower, three of them in their third trimester of pregnancy.

2.  All of them were married.

3.  Of the 18 onboard, only the four named above survived through the first Thanksgiving celebration.

4.  Susanna White came over with her husband, John, and son, Resolved. She was pregnant and gave birth to a son, Peregrine, while the Mayflower was anchored outside of Cape Cod. John died that winter, and she remarried Edward Winslow, a fellow passenger whose wife also died. They were the first couple married at Plymouth.

5.  Mary Brewster was born about 1569 because she stated she was 40 years old in an affidavit filed in Leiden, Holland on 25 June 1609. She and her husband, William, had six children, one of which died right after birth. She lived to about age 60. Her husband lived another 17 years before he passed on.

I hope this tiny sample will encourage you to visit this website. Whether you're interested in history or a homeschooling parent, it's a great resource.

May you not only enjoy food and fellowship this Thanksgiving, but also give thanks to God for His many blessings in your life.


Writers and Readers:  What are you thankful for this year?

Photo Credit:  Nat Arnett

Friday, November 18, 2016

Better Writing/Writing Pace/Russia/Devo/Collecting

1.  Do you want to become a better writer? Zoe M. McCarthy gives 7 Tips Besides "Write, Write, Write" To Become a Better Writer.

2.  It's rare to see blog posts on writing pace. At Writer Unboxed, Donald Maas discusses Four Kinds of Pace. (The pace of a novel refers to how fast or slow the story moves.) There's a lot to digest here.

3.  Christian Headlines reports on an American missionary being prosecuted under Russia's new anti-evangelism law. When the old Soviet Socialist Republic fell, the Gospel was welcomed and people were free to worship. Even then, I had a strong sense this window of opportunity would be temporary. Let's pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

4.  Lynn Simpson shares Psalm 46 interspersed with her photography. I read it several times, allowing the Scripture to sink into my heart.

5.  Susan, at Writing Straight From The Heart, adores dolls. I can relate. In this post, she introduces us to her latest find: a lovely Asian girl.

Writers:  What steps are you taking to become a better writer?

Readers:  Do you find it difficult to pass up a bargain on one of your collectibles? Please share. If you haven't figured out what tempts me, it's dolls. :)

Photo Credit:  Idigital

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Book Spotlight - Susanne Dietze

Journey the Transcontinental Railroad along with nine unlikely couples who encounter all the dangers and disappointments of traveling the rails in the late 1800s. From sight-seeing excursions to transports toward new lives, from orphan trains to circus trains, can romances develop into blazing love in a world of cold, hard steel?

The Honeymoon Express: Can a jilted bride and a mysterious frontiersman thrown together on a trip meant for honeymooners solve a crime--and find love--before the end of the line?

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she's the award-winning author of a dozen new and upcoming historical romances who's seen her work on the ECPA and Publisher's Weekly Bestseller Lists for Inspirational Fiction. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne lives in California and enjoys fancy-schmancy tea parties, the beach, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos.  You can visit her online at and subscribe to her newsletters at

Writers: What are your thoughts about participating in a collection of stories? 

Readers:  Do you read short story collections? Please share.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Time Compressed

Way back on October 14th, I stopped in at Home Depot for some 9V smoke alarm batteries. I walked into a winter wonderland. They were in full Christmas mode. The next day, I repeated the experience at Costco.

Growing up, we didn't see Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was the official kick-off of the season with Santa Claus riding on the last float. Perhaps time goes slower for children than adults.

Perhaps time is indeed going forward faster with each passing day. I'm reminded of the scripture: "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt." Amos 9:13 (KJV)

As I go through my daily routines and try to squeeze in the many tasks on my to-do list, may I remember to put what's truly important at the top: 1) My relationship with the Lord - praying, worshiping, getting into the Word, 2) My family and friends, and 3) The calling of God on my life to write.

This year, as we approach the Christmas season, I want to slow down and savor what is precious.

Writers:  How do you keep November and December from becoming a pressure cooker ready to blow?

Readers:  What are some of the important Christmas traditions you want to revive for your family?

Photo Credit:  Marek Bernat

Friday, November 11, 2016

Revisions/Suspense/3 Parents/ Devo/Fall Decor

1.  At one time or another, a novelist will face a stubborn revision. Janice Hardy guest posts at Writers in the Storm. She give five reasons why your revision isn't working.

2.  Donna H. L. Smith is doing a series on her blog about suspense in novels. It's beginner friendly for all the newbies out there. :)

3.  Christian Headlines reports on the first baby born with the DNA of three parents. They have no idea what long-term effects will occur. This child and others born in this manner will have to be followed, as well as their offspring. Scientists experimenting with our DNA brings to mind the whole Nazi eugenics disaster.

4.  Ceil Ryan, at Surrounded by the Spirit, talks about God's grace in her latest post.

5.  HGTV gives fall decorating ideas. The slideshow may help jumpstart your creativity as Thanksgiving approaches.

Writers:  What steps do you take when a manuscript is giving you problems? Please share.

Readers:  Do you put up decorations for the changing seasons? Please share some of your favorites with us.

Photo Credit:  Michael &Christa Richert

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

On My Nightstand - In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar

I've had this book on my To Be Read pile for a long time. Somehow it got buried. When I finally picked it up last week, it took me on a journey that every reader's heart desires.

From the first few words, I was captivated. The author tells the story of Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz in a way that makes them come alive. If you've ever been to Sight and Sound theaters and seen one their productions, this story is given similar treatment. It shows what living in those days was like, as well as the possible emotions experienced by each person.

Ruth and Naomi were real women, who faced incredible hardships. Losing their loved ones in Moab, traveling dangerous paths to Bethlehem, and arriving there with little but the clothes on their backs, they trusted God to take care of them.

They experienced horrific grief and came through it. Some of the things they learned resonated with me and others gave me new insight. For anyone battered by life situations, there's great comfort in this book.

I've plodded through many genealogies in the Bible, but by the time I got to the one in this book, I was weeping. The realization of what it took to bring the Savior into the world overwhelmed me. I'm so grateful the author touched on this aspect of the story.

On a scale of one to five, this book is off the charts. Other than the Bible, I'm not one to reread books. This one has so much wisdom and heart that I will go back to savor it again.

Writers and Readers:  What novels have inspired you and encouraged you in your Christian walk?

Disclaimer: I received this book on a blog giveaway a couple of years ago. I wasn't paid anything for a favorable review. All opinions expressed, as always, are completely mine. 

Monday, November 7, 2016

Don't Stay Home!

Tomorrow is Election Day in the United States. This season, it's made the wild, wild West look tame.

As we've watched debates, read social media posts, and gagged at the revelations, I kept thinking how close we are to living the scenario in my first book, The Moses Conspiracy. When I started writing it way back in 2005, I never meant for it to be prophetic. Some of my readers are telling me the book was ahead of its time. Am I happy about it? I want to weep because I deeply love my country.

I pray the American people will rise up and say, "Enough." It's time to straighten this mess out and get back on track with the help of God. I believe He will restore if His people stand for righteousness.

Please don't let personalities keep you home. Vote the issues. We owe it to future generations.

Writers and Readers: This is not an invitation to debate. If you want to comment, please keep it civil.

Photo Credit:  Patwise

Friday, November 4, 2016


1.  Years ago, I read a book that was supposed to be Sci-Fi/suspense. Instead, the characters came off as unrealistic and melodramatic, giving them a cartoonish appearance. Zoe M. McCarthy deals with the subject of melodrama.

2.  Dave King, at Writer Unboxed, talks about giving your characters roots. This resonated with me since I'm a transplant from New York City to Pennsylvania. Check out this fascinating way to give your story some punch.

3. This news item made me want to wail and mourn. Christian Headlines reports on NY city's plans to go forward building the arch of Baal. In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel brought the judgment of God down on their heads by worshipping the Baals.

4. Alisa Hope Wagner, at Faith Imagined, does a verse meditation on 2 Timothy 2:8-9. Though the writer was in chains, the Word of God is never chained.

5.  There's a chill in the air, and baking cookies is on my mind. I saw this recipe for Almond Joy Cookies on Facebook. There's only four ingredients. Here's the original link to the recipe.

Writers:  What are some ways you can inject conflict/interest in your story by focusing on regional differences? Are there some instances in your own life that might prove useful? Please share.

Readers:  Do you enjoy reading books with an outsider coming into an area and causing conflict/misunderstanding? Please share an example.

Photo Credit:  Francisco Ramos

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

On My Nightstand - A Husband's Christmas Prayer by Kathi Macias

Pastor Paul his wife, Diana, and their two small children move to Desert Sands. They'd always felt called to pioneer a church, but Diana has misgivings.

Torn between his love for the small congregation and his family, Pastor Paul doesn't know how to heal the rift in his marriage. Will his efforts produce results in time for a joyous Christmas celebration or will it be marred by their growing difficulties?

Kathi Macias beautifully crafts a story, highlighting the challenges and rewards of ministry. This sweet family struggles in their own Christian walk even as they reach out to others. It shows the desire on the part of both husband and wife to work through their problems with the help of God.

I'm giving this heartwarming Christmas story five stars.

Disclaimer:  I received this book from the author for an honest review. As always, all opinions expressed are mine, and I did not receive any payment.

Writers:  Have you written any Christmas novels/stories? Please share.

Readers:  Do you enjoy reading Christmas novels/stories? Why?