Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Postscript

A couple of news bites surfaced since I wrote the Friday Round-Up.

On the home front, the November 2008 issue of "The TopNotch Writer" is online. My article, "Who Moved the Finish Line?" appears in this issue. I hope you'll take a hop, skip, and a jump over there.

Many Christians are wrestling with this election. A friend sent me a link to Randy Alcorn's blog. He deals with some of these issues. Randy is a well-respected author and teacher in the Christian community and addresses questions and comments from his readers.

Friday Round-Up - #21

I received an email with information on how women won the right to vote. Many of these details are in the HBO movie, "Iron Jawed Angels."

You may know that women were granted the right to vote in 1920. However, did you know what it cost our grandmothers and great-grandmothers? On November 15, 1917, thirty-three women peacefully picketed the White House, asking for the vote. Instead, they were almost beaten to death.

Lucy Burns was beaten, her hands chained to the cell bars above her head, and left hanging all night. One woman thinking a friend had died, suffered a heart attack. This treatment did not last for one night, but continued for weeks. Finally, the press got wind of what was occurring.

So, my friends, when you're tempted to sit out an election, please think of these courageous women. When you're too tired, too wrapped up in your own life, or don't believe you can make a difference, think of your children's future.

Exercise your right to vote.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Since we're on the subject of voting, we all know Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4th. How do I make my decision on who gets my vote?

The process I go through involves finding out as much as I can about each candidate's character, voting record, and position on various issues. I don't vote based on liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican, race, or what other people tell me. Neither do I allow rhetoric, charisma, or slogans to sway my thinking.

I gather the facts from many sources, and then compare the two candidates. Since I am accountable to God for my actions (yes, even voting), I ask him who he wants me to select. How would I know the answer? By going to his Word, I can see what God considers good and what he considers evil. His Word reveals his will. It's up to me to come into line with his way of thinking and acting.

God does not come down and pull that lever. I have a responsibility to first of all participate in the process. My next responsibility is to vote in a way that is consistent with his precepts.

Yes, I will be voting on November 4th for the person I think will most closely reflect the values God cherishes. No candidate will perfectly match up to God's standards. Only Jesus accomplished that feat. However, he will be someone trustworthy, honorable, transparent about his life and associations, as well as someone who upholds the foundational document of our country - The Constitution.

I hope every Christian reading this message will take this election seriously and vote first and foremost as Christians.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On My Nightstand - The Last Jihad by Joel Rosenberg

Hang onto your hats, folks. This book will take you for a ride you won't forget. Intrigue, spies, double-agents, and helicopters blowing up keep the action going non-stop. The anguish of leaders trying to anticipate the enemy's next move and making decisions affecting millions of people is palpable.

The characterization is rich, deep, and varied. A touch of romance lightens the mood as people somehow function in the midst of a chaotic world.

Almost as fascinating as the book is the story of how it was written. Mr. Rosenberg was penning his chapters as planes slammed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Yes, there is violence and ugliness in this book, but it also contains redemption, courage, and justice. Joel Rosenberg's other books are near the top of my to-be-read list.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Examining All Facets

At our writers' group on October 18th, we studied the intricacies of writing dialogue. During the discussion, we talked about authors, and how they handled dialogue and character development.

I brought up Mary DeMuth and Lisa Samson. Mary is expert at showing the inner motivations of her characters. Her dialogue is true to each one. Nine-year-old Maranatha sounds like a nine-year-old child. A villain is chilling without being a caricature.

Lisa bares the soul of her characters as they journey from hopelessness to joy. There are no pat or unrealistic answers. The struggles are authentic and often heart-wrenching.

As other books and authors were discussed and dissected (doesn't that sound like a biology experiment - ewww), I realized the richness of reading many authors and genres. Each one has a distinct storytelling style, voice, and talent.

While I'll always have my favorite authors, I'm determined to examine and enjoy the writing of as many writers as possible. Why be satisfied with one brilliant flash when other facets hold a variety of colors, experiences, and nuances that make up human beings?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Jury Duty

Yep, I got called for Jury Duty. I have to report bright and early tomorrow morning. Sooo, if I don't immediately respond to your comments, you'll know why.

Posts are ready to fly for this week and part of next week in case I get stuck on a case. I'll look forward to jumping in the conversation when I return.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #20

Have you ever attended a book signing? Last Saturday, Mom and I took a ride to Master's Mercantile, at 204 Shoemaker Rd., Pottstown, PA., (610) 705-0130. The bookstore employees greeted us and asked if we'd like to sign up for drawings, which would be held every half hour. They provided tasty snacks to enjoy during our visit. If you live in the Pottstown, PA area, stop in and explore their aisles.

Six authors from a variety of genres showed us their books, gave out free pens, bookmarks, and candy. When they heard I was also a writer, they gave me lots of tips, including a blogging lesson. I now know how to schedule a post for a later publication date. Yay! (Thanks Dionne.)

Meeting fellow blogger and friend, Mike Dellosso and his wife, Jen, was a treat. Mike writes suspense/thriller novels. His debut book is, "The Hunted." At thirty-five with a wife and three daughters, Mike discovered he had cancer. He's chronicled his journey at his blog. He looks great, but still needs our prayers.

Carrie Turansky is an inspirational romance writer. Multi-published, her titles include: "Wedded Bliss," "Along Came Love," and "Kiss the (Cook) Bride."

Gayle Roper is also multi-published and the author of The Amherst Mysteries. In addition, she writes non-fiction titles. Her latest release is, "A Woman and Her Emotions."

S. Dionne Moore has one book out entitled, "Murder On The Ol' Bunions," with "Polly Dent Loses Her Grip," scheduled for release by Barbour Publishing in April 2009. She's also the Tuesday contributor to the famous Novel Journey blog.

Cathy Gohlke is a Young Adult author and winner of the Christy Award for her book, "William Henry is a Fine Name." Her novel is set during the Civil War period. She also has a sequel on the bookshelves.

Terri L. Gillespie has a devotional book entitled, "Making Eye Contact With God: A Weekly Devotional for Women." Don't you love that title?

By the way, Mom won a book in the drawing. I purchased Mike's book, and received another book free of charge.

As usual, my book budget fell short of my Wish List. I've checked out all these websites and can't wait to order more books. Between shop talk with the authors and discussing books with store personnel, they "wowed" us with their graciousness. We went there to meet and be a blessing to these authors. Instead, they blessed us. I hope they sold a ton of books.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I'm not ignoring your comments, friends. Once again, technical difficulties need my attention. Blogger embedded a new comment form. Unfortunately, everyone is able to comment except me. It will not publish my comments, and declares there's an error on the page. Be assured, I read and enjoy each of your comments.

If anyone has any insight what's causing this glitch, I'd be grateful for your help.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On My Nightstand - The Chocolate Connoisseur by Chloe Doutre-Roussel

I know all my blog readers can't wait for this review. While this is not a Christian book and I don't agree with the underlying philosophy, it gives insight into the world of chocolate. Never in my wildest imagination did I think chocolate's history involved so many twists and turns or such total obsession with the taste most of us enjoy.

According to, a connoisseur is, "a discerning judge in any field." The author certainly qualifies as a connoisseur. As chocolate buyer for the prestigious London store, "Fortnum and Mason," she travels the world in a quest for the best varieties. Indeed, she consumes a pound of chocolate per day. Talk about a dream job.

Some chocolate trivia:

Chocolate arrived in the American colonies in 1765. The first chocolate factory opened in Dorchester, Massachusetts.

Some of our favorites, like the Mars Bars and KitKat, were invented in the 1930's.

Most cocoa beans are grown in the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, Equador, Madagascar, and Jamaica.

Whether you want to become a connoisseur, an expert in chocolate trivia, or swoon at the taste, you'll find everything you ever wanted to know about chocolate in this compact volume. This would be a great gift for a culinary student or someone involved in the food industry. It's available at Amazon.

I'm keeping this one on my bookshelf for future reference. Who knows? Maybe someday I'll write an international thriller about a plot to eliminate chocolate from the planet.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Baking Burnout

"Now, Susie, roll out the dough a little bit thinner so we get lots of cookies."

My grandma added more flour to the rolling pin and demonstrated her technique. Once the dough reached the appropriate thickness, I chose cookie cutters shaped like a star, a tree, an angel, and a gingerbread man, and cut them out. The smell of butter, sugar, vanilla, almond, and cookies baking in the oven tickled my nose and made my mouth water.

The tradition continued long after grandma died. Mom and I tried new recipes. The numbers grew from 100 to over 1,000 cookies each Christmas. Days were set aside for baking. Somewhere along the line, we forgot why we baked. The joy of working together and making a few special treats turned into an exhausting chore.

Yes, I had it: the dreaded BAKING BURNOUT. It took years before I'd even consider digging my cookie sheets, cutters, and rolling pin out of the cabinet where they'd gathered dust.

When publication becomes the driving force in our lives, the exhileration of writing can get lost in the shuffle. The time we spent writing a note to a sick friend, putting together a skit for the youth group, or encouraging someone going through a problem turns into a treadmill of write, re-write, and submit.

How do we maintain our creativity and joy while traveling toward publication? What's the secret ingredient? I went back to baking not as an obligation, but as an act of love. Seeing my family gobble up hunks of pumpkin pie or dunking homemade cookies in a tall glass of milk made a difference in my attitude. I slowed down, released the have-to-do-this thinking, and started remembering my purpose.

The same principle applies to writing. When we write as an act of worship to the Lord and love toward others, joy peeks around the corner and sits down next to our computer. Instead of being self-focused, our efforts are geared to bless. The striving, stress, and frustration give way to love, joy, and peace.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #19

Kaye Dacus has an excellent article on writing dialogue. Unlike real life, conversation is condensed to the important stuff. I could elaborate, but I'll let you read the article.

Thanks to Inspire for giving me the, "I Love This Blog Award." As soon as I can figure out how to get the logo on my blog, I'll pass the "love" along. (All of you know how technologically challenged I am by now!)

My friend, Crystal Laine Miller, has a cool blog called, "When I Was Just a Kid." She conducts in-depth interviews with authors, complete with pictures from their childhood. Book drawings are sometimes part of the features.

Chocolate. Okay, now that I have your attention, I'm reading a book on the subject. Last Saturday, I poked through an outlet bookstore and discovered this little gem. Down the road, I'll be doing a book review, and sharing some of the things I learned about our favorite food.

Let's add some words to those WIP's this weekend!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

On My Nightstand - The Living End by Lisa Samson

Rather than draw you into the story, Lisa Samson's characters jump off the page and come live in your house. They sit at your table, have a cup of coffee, and allow you into their hearts.

Pearly Laurel's whole life revolved around her husband for thirty-two years. When he suddenly dies, she cannot cope. Her beloved's list of "Things To Do Before I Die" provides a temporary reason to live. The reader is entranced as Pearly discovers new friends, and nurtures old, but neglected, relationships. Yet, will it be enough to restore her will to live?

In my book, Lisa Samson's name on a cover means I'm in for a great reading experience. Way to go, Lisa!

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's ONLY Fiction - Defining, Discussing & Setting a Personal Standard - Part V

When discussing a book, I've often heard people say, "What's the big deal? After all, it's ONLY fiction." At times, I've said the same thing. Hmm, this assumes fiction is meaningless and has no impact on the way we think, see our world, or live. Is this true?

Alice in Wonderland was a political statement written in fictional form. Charles Dickens' works pointed out the evils of his day without confronting the establishment. Uncle Tom's Cabin decried slavery and fueled the anti-slavery movement. Only fiction?

Christian authors freely admit to promoting a relationship with the Lord, family values, and handling problems in a way pleasing to God. Only fiction?

When a book comes along undermining and questioning Biblical truth, perhaps it's prudent to guard our hearts. Is he or she acting like the serpent in the Garden questioning God's motives. Is the author planting seeds of destruction in our minds? Only fiction?

Food for thought: How has Christian fiction impacted your life? Are there books in the ABA, which have had a negative effect on you or someone you know?

Friday, October 10, 2008


I'm sure many of you are confused. My posting schedule is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Unfortunately, Blogger is using the date created instead of the date published on my posts.

Does anyone out there know how to remedy this situation? It's easier for me to write posts the night before and publish them in the morning. How do I get Blogger to use the date published?


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #18

Did your childhood reading include Nancy Drew or Cherry Ames books? If these characters inspire nostalgia, check out The Vermont Country Store. Another place to find older books are antique stores, flea markets, and used book stores.

I discovered a fun item over at InSpire's blog - a book purse. Yup, it's a purse crafted from an old or unwanted book. The ready-made versions are pricey at $155.00, but one link brings you to a site with directions. Wouldn't it be cool to make a purse out of someone's favorite book and then put the real deal inside?

Christian Fiction Online Magazine's October issue is now available. Randy Ingermanson is his usual funny self, asking advice from Sam, the Plumber. Brandilyn Collins, Susan May Warren, Mary DeMuth, and others serve up delicious writing meals. To further whet your appetite, the magazine has a contest for a box of books.

Enjoy the weekend!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Defining, Discussing, and Setting a Personal Standard - Part IV

I'd like to touch on an area I haven't heard discussed in Christian writer/reader circles. How is the subject of the occult being handled in Christian fiction?

Recently, I purchased a highly-acclaimed Christian book. I'd heard many good things about this author's work. The writing drew me in immediately, promising a suspenseful tale. As I read, I became increasingly uncomfortable. An occult practice was the centerpiece of the story. I brushed off my misgivings, rationalizing the writer would somehow discredit this and bring out the truth. While a mild attempt was made toward the end, it left the impression this practice eventually drew the characters to faith in God.

My purpose is not to give a negative review of a particular book, nor will I name the book. In an effort to write a heart-stopping thriller, have some authors ignored the Biblical command to avoid all occult contact? I've read many books where such involvement was present, but clearly shown as a counterfeit of God's gifts. When that line is blurred in any way, we're on dangerous territory.

From now on, I'll no longer reason away those alarm bells that something is amiss. I don't care if a book is labeled Christian fiction. If it gets into an area of condoning or promoting the occult, that author has lost me as a reader forever.

Have any of you run into this problem? Our final installment of this series will cover a phrase I hear repeatedly and have actually used on occasion myself: "It's Only Fiction."

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Defining, Discussing, and Setting a Personal Standard - Part III

Several years ago, I attended a Christian Conference. A friend and I were directed downstairs when we asked where we could powder our noses. What a sight to behold! We entered a world of Trekkies. Yup, these folks were in full costume.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy places like Disney World with people dressed like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the rest. I also know this is fantasy and not real life. For me, the problem comes when people get wrapped up in a make-believe existence and allow it to damage their relationships.

Fantasy and Sci-Fi can be a lot of fun as long as we keep it in that realm. I've watched my share of Star Trek, Disney, and similar programs. In recent years, my interest in this genre has waned.

What's your take on the whole fantasy, Sci-Fi area? Love it, hate it, don't care? I'm interested in your opinions.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Friday Round-Up - #17

Yippee! My copies of The Secret Place devotional arrived on Tuesday. The thrill of seeing my work in print never gets old. I've said it before: the small victories keep me moving forward on the larger projects.

I heard from Churchmouse Publications. They didn't think my submission was a good fit for their company. I might send them a devotional or two and see if there's any interest. Rejection is a painful part of the writing life. Yet, if writers don't take risks, they never get published.

James Stuart Bell is calling for submissions. He's doing an anthology for Howard Publishing, a division of Simon & Schuster. For more information, email Jeannette Littleton at

In case you missed my post on Wednesday, congratulations to the winners of the free book contest: Amy L., Sarah H., and Rose M. Down the road, we'll be doing more drawings.

My friend, Dr. Mary Ann Diorio, has a new blog: Check out her latest newsletter at

Let's rack up some words on our writing projects this weekend.