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

Friday, December 2, 2016

Platform/Characters/Christians Attacked/Perfectionism/Country Christmas

1.  Every writer has heard that word:  platform. What if yours is small? Katy Kaufman posts at The Write Conversation about pressing on.

2.  Creating characters can be mind boggling. Dave King, at Writer Unboxed, gives some guidance on how do develop their personalities and avoid having them all sound like you.

3.  Christian Headlines reports on Christians being attacked in refugee camps. While we are to pray for and love people, we cannot ignore or deny the facts.

4.  Dr. MaryAnn Diorio had another great post, dealing with perfectionism. She takes the wraps off this torment and reveals the causes.

5.  Although Christmas decorations have been out since early October, we're now in the season for real. :)  Country Living has 88 ideas for decorating your home with a country theme.

Writers:  How do you craft your characters?

Readers:  What kind of decorations do you use for Christmas? Homemade? Traditional? Special colors/themes? 

Photo Credit:  V. Flores