Monday, December 24, 2018

Jesus - The Reason For The Season


As a child, I enjoyed everything about Christmas and the preparations for it. Lights were put around our living room window, wreaths were hung, cards written, and the biggest thrill of all - putting up the tree.

My mother's stories of how my grandfather made little scenes for under the tree inspired my own efforts. I'd cut people, houses, and winter scenes from old cards and prop them up on the snowy skirt surrounding its base. We also purchased miniature skaters, skiers, and a mirror that became a pond. One year, we found a cardboard village in the Sears catalog and added that to the collection.

There were some things that took center stage. The Nativity Scene which held my interest for hours, bringing to mind the true reason for the season. My mother always had records playing of beloved Christmas Carols. I knew every one of them by heart and probably drove everyone crazy as I belted them out non-stop.

Those early years and non-verbal lessons helped prepare my heart for the experience of knowing Jesus as my Savior. At the tender age of nine, I went to the altar and gave Him my heart and life.

I'll be taking a blog break until Monday, January 7, 2019. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Writers and Readers: I've never forgotten those precious times. How do you bring Jesus into your Christmas celebrations? Please share.

Here's one of my favorite Christmas songs:

Photo Credit:  Debbie Schiel

Friday, December 21, 2018

Non-Verbal/Cool Cat/Inspiring Child/Devo/Conversation Starters

Christmas kitten

1.  Margie Lawson posts at Writers in the Storm on subtext in your writing. Now, don't run for the hills, writers and readers. There's a fun quiz to see how much you know about non-verbal communication.

2.  Both non-fiction and fiction writers often get speaking gigs. Cathy Lamb, at Writers in the Storm, teaches us about "Being a Cool Cat While Making Presentations." I loved her ideas and think you will find them valuable as well.

3.  Faithwire shares the story of a young girl who lost everything in the  California fire. She held a toy drive for needy kids. Don't miss this heartwarming story.

4.  Christian Headlines shares an Instagram post by Joanna Gaines. It's a reminder from her daughter to have childlike faith.

5.  I found this post before Thanksgiving, but thought, "Hey, these questions would work well for Christmas dinners. Chad Allen gives 5 questions that are fun conversation starters.

Writers: Are you also a speaker? If so, how do you keep an audience's attention?

Readers:  Can you think of some dinner conversation starters that won't start a war? Please share.

Photo Credit:  Rachel Kirk

Monday, December 17, 2018

On My Kindle - To The Moon and Back by Kathi Macias

To the Moon and Back by [Macias, Kathi]

Rachel Beckwith cares for her disabled husband, but has a harder and harder time with the simple tasks of life. She becomes more reclusive with every passing day, afraid to venture outside for fear of becoming lost.

Her husband, Pete, blames Rachel for his condition. Bitterness and resentment mark his every interaction with her. He can't understand why she's become so inept at keeping house or taking care of him.

Author Kathi Macias does a masterful job at portraying this family and the challenges they go through dealing with Alzheimer's Disease. Her tender treatment of the relationship dynamics and the hope infused through relationship with the Lord and the community make this especially heart warming.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. Alzheimer's and dementia are  a growing problem in this country as the population ages. The story promotes both understanding and encouragement for those who act as caregivers.

Five Stars!

Disclaimer: I picked up this book on a free promotional day. Neither the author nor the publisher paid me for a favorable review. All opinions expressed, as always, are mine and  mine alone.

Writers:  Have you ever considered/used a character in your stories with a disability? Please share.

Readers: How do you feel about books that deal with real-life i

Friday, December 14, 2018

Writers Block/Editing/Heartbeat Bill/Devo/Reader Gifts

Spiral Bound Notebook 1

1. Tammy Karasek posts at The Write Conversation. Are you having trouble putting words on paper? She has some great suggestions on how to break through it.

2. Barbara Linn Probst gives us an excellent tutorial on how to eliminate unnecessary words from our manuscripts. She also gives examples of when to keep words that show up often. Check out her post at Writer Unboxed.

3. The Ohio House has voted to ban abortions once there is a detectable fetal heartbeat. There are enough votes in the Senate to pass the bill. However, Governor John Kasich has opposed the bill and will not sign it. The President of the Senate is considering holding the vote until the new governor, Mike Dewine, takes office. He has pledged to sign the bill. Check out the article at Breaking Christian News.

4.  Dena Netherton posts about healthy habits, which includes her daily quiet time. I'm always interested in how people like to study the Word.

5.  We've seen a lot of posts on gifts for writers, but what about readers? Besides the obvious gift of books, here are some suggestions at Best Products. (Note: I don't endorse all the products, but 98% are okay.)

Writers and Readers:  What is on your writer or reader Wish List for this Christmas?

Photo Credit: Doctor-a

Monday, December 10, 2018

On My Kindle - Roswell's Secret by Vannetta Chapman

I recently reviewed the first book in this series, Coyote's Revenge. Both of these books come under the heading of, "Thriller." The second book, "Roswell's Secret," follows Agent Dean Dreiser.

He's more than a little perturbed when his boss assigns Dr. Lucinda Brown to work with him on a case of biological attack. He sees her as a newbie agent with zero experience in the field. How is she ever going to help him without getting them both killed? He also didn't figure on her being an attractive Latina, brilliant scientist.

Lucinda Brown is on a mission to prevent a biologic attack. She'd seen close up what it could do to a person. When she's paired with Dean, she views him as the exact kind of person she didn't want to love.

The research that went into this book had to be staggering. Vannetta Chapman sure did her homework, and the results are apparent in the vivid details.

I would have liked to see a stronger spiritual thread. Lucinda had what the author called, "second sight." She would see things before they happened. Other than that and some references to the characters praying (even though they weren't sure they believed), the story was skinny when it came to God being involved. It is a clean read, but did have one mild expletive.

If you're into heart-stopping suspense, this series is a winner. I'm giving it five stars for technical excellence and four stars for story content.

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

Writers:  How involved is God in the life of your characters? How do you strike a balance between making them realistic in their struggles yet strong in their faith?

Readers:  When reading Christian fiction, does it bother you when there's minimal spiritual content? Please share your thoughts.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Tips for Pantsers/Blog Ideas/Archaeological Find/Devo/Peanut Butter Cookies

Keyboard 3

1.  Donna L. H. Smith gives some great tips for non-plotters (or pantsers). If you keep these basic story elements in mind, you can write a novel that will capture the interest of readers.

2.  After blogging for over 10 years, it's sometimes hard to come up with new ideas. Katy Kauffman posts at The Write Conversation about 30 Ideas for a Blog Series.

3.  I'm fascinated by archaeological finds that support the Biblical record. Breaking Israel News reports on an inscription with the full name of Jerusalem.

4.  Sometimes we take this gift of the written word for granted, whether we're writers or readers. Audrey Frank posts at The Write Conversation. My heart melted reading this encouraging devotion. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

5.  Wow, Christmas is right around the corner. Are you ready? I'm getting there. Tomorrow, my friend and I plan to bake cookies. Here's a video recipe for gluten-free, dairy-free peanut butter cookies from Allrecipes.

Writers:  I think Donna L. H. Smith's tips for non-plotters are excellent even if you are a plotter. She goes over basic story elements that are valuable for every writer. Which tip was your favorite and why?

Readers:  Do you have a favorite cookie recipe that you make every year? Please share. (We'd be grateful for a link if it's available on the internet.)

Photo Credit:  Michael Faes

Monday, December 3, 2018

My Writing Process: Looking Through The Eyes of a Pantser

computer keyboard

I'm working on the second book in my newest series. As I wrote the first book, I saw the possibilities for the continuing story. An interesting character and situation grabbed my attention. Ideas began forming and taking shape. As I started, everything seemed fuzzy and I wasn't sure how they'd work out.

I'm still not sure!

You see, I'm what is called, "a pantser." I don't have elaborate outlines, character sheets, or plot points. Instead the story plays out as I write and ask myself:

1.  What if my character's greatest desire is out of his/her reach?
2.  How does he/she overcome the obstacles thrown at them?
3.  And, of course, "God, where do I go from here?"

While I may not have the whole story embedded in my brain, I do have more than an inkling of what I want to communicate. The blurb for the first book is:

"A runaway preacher and a runaway boy discover there's no place like home."

As a writer, there are several things I keep in mind:

1.  No backstory for the first 30 pages or so.
2.  Raise story questions in the reader's mind.
3.  What is the character's goal and what is trying to stop him/her from achieving it?
4.  When is the "big reveal - the story climax?"
5.  What is the takeaway for the reader?

Whether you plot every line or fly by the seat of your pants, writing a novel is:

1.  Exciting
2.  Exhilerating
3.  Exhausting.

Writers:  Whether fiction or non-fiction, what does your writing process look like?

Readers:  What do you consider is the most important element in a story?

Photo Credit:  Shamseer Sureash Kermar