Wednesday, November 30, 2011

On My Nightstand - Reclaiming Lily by Patti Lacy

Gloria Powell's life comes to a standstill when what she's feared comes to pass. Someone wants to reclaim her precious adoptive daughter. Will she be able to keep the rebellious teenager from abandoning her and gravitating to her biological sister?

Dr. Kai Chang crossed the ocean to America, got her degree, and citizenship all for the purpose of finding the child her parents gave up during China's Cultural Revolution. She's racing the clock because a hereditary disease stalks their bloodline. Will she find Lily in time to save her life?

Wow! Even when I couldn't pick up this book because I was work or engaged in one of life's many activities, it engaged my mind. Patti Lacy's storytelling gets better with every book.

The author went to China as part of her research and came back with a clear understanding of how people think and their motivations. Kai's personality is painted with masterful brushstrokes, while Joy/Lily is the epitome of a confused, rebellious teenager.

Let's not forget the story. The development of life events flowed as naturally as a mountain stream. I never saw the ending coming, and it delighted me. Have those tissues ready for both sad and happy tears throughout this stellar book. I hope Patti gets an award for this one.

Disclaimer: Neither the publisher or author furnished this book or requested a review. I purchased it, and the opinions expressed are mine.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Do You Really Want to Know?

Thanks to Susan Panzica, at Eternity Cafe, for the, "Tell Me About Yourself Award." I hope you'll pop over to see her and say, "Hi."

Here are the rules. I need to share 7 things about me, and then pass the award along to 5 other bloggers, who will do the same. No pressure! If you're swamped, we understand. :)

The challenge (courtesy of my buddy, Jen Levellie, at Audience of One) is to share the "messy" and not just the "cutesy" tidbits.

1.  I love to shop. Seriously. Since I also have a super-responsible streak, hunting for bargains scratches that itch.

2.  Up until my twenties, I was a nail biter. Twice I underwent minor surgery to drain an infection from one of my fingers. I'm happy to report, I've overcome in this area.

3.  The kitchen is not my natural habitat. Since my husband now resides in heaven (where I'm sure they must have many fine chefs), I can avoid cooking as much as my little heart desires.

4.  Waiting for people is a major test of my patience, especially if I don't know why they're late. I'm always early. If something delays me, I call and let the other person know what happened.

5.   I get overwhelmed if too much is dumped on me at once. Such an occurrence requires much prayer, list making, and prioritizing.

6.  Driving in an unfamiliar area makes me tense. If I have to go somewhere new, I'll sometimes do a "dry run." When I was interviewing for jobs, this reduced the stress on the day of my meeting.

7.  Routine is my friend. I get out of sorts when my schedule goes out the window. Flexibility. I must learn flexibility.

I'm passing this award on to:

Jessica Nelson, of Booking It

Lynn J. Simpson, at Connecting Stories

Nancy, at Boomers, Scribblers, and Saints

Jan Cline

Terri Tiffany

Check out these blogs and get to know their authors. :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #183

Wouldn't it be nice if we could use little happy/sad faces in our writing? Ah, but that's not how it is in life. It's fun in an email or comment, but doesn't work in a book.

Nisa, at Wordplay, Swordplay: The Magic of Writing, gives a neat tip on how to identify emotional reactions. It draws upon how actors learn to express a character's feelings.

Writers: What are some ways you communicate/identify a fictional friend's emotions?
Readers: What causes you to connect with a character?

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Many thoughts run through my head at this moment. Perhaps I can catch them like an elusive firefly. Instead of forming neat sentences, I decided a list would best suit my purposes.

1. We talk about Thanksgiving, but do we remember Who we are thanking? Like Christmas with Christ x'd out, I've heard it referred to as, "Turkey Day." I will give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 107:1)

2. I'm thankful I can write these words, a freedom people in some countries do not possess.

3. My heart swells with gratitude when I think of what it cost God to reconcile with me. Such love makes thanksgiving flow from my lips each day.

4. When I sit down with my family to share a meal or I reach out to hug one of them, I'm overwhelmed by the blessings He's given me.

5. I'm awed by the way believers have stood by me in times of great distress, discouragement, and sorrow. We are family.

What are you thanking God for this Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Blogging Preparation

While I'm not wild about cooking, I do like to eat. Short cooking videos and TV chefs inspire me to copy recipes, so I can "someday" try them. What they neglect to show you is all the preparation that went into making the food. In fact, there's a whole class of chefs known as "sous chefs." They chop, cut, dice, and get all the ingredients ready for the chef, who pulls it all together.

Today, I'm giving everyone an inside look at what it takes to write these posts. Behind the short paragraphs and graphics, time and energy are expended to gather what I'll need for my blog meal.

1) Prayer. I know. I say that a lot, but it's essential for all aspects of my life and writing. I don't hang around waiting for an answer to drop from the sky or a booming voice. I pray and then go about my business. God responds in many ways. (See #2.)

2) The idea. This one came from watching food videos on Swagbucks. Others come from reading blogs and mulling over different points. My journaling time and Bible reading are a constant source of inspiration.

3) The Takeaway. Why would anyone want to read my post? Is there something that will challenge them, help them with a task, or encourage them?

4) The Graphic. When I'm looking at the Blogger feed, it's often a graphic that gets me to stop and check out a post. Choosing the picture takes almost as much time as writing an entry.

5) The Writing. Once I've prayed, jotted down my ideas, know the takeaway (application), and have the graphic in My Pictures, I'm ready to write. Sometimes the post flows in a different direction than I'd anticipated, but I go with it. After all, I am a SOTP writer! Yet, my preparation makes puts the basics at my fingertips.

Writers: How do you construct a blog post? Do you wing it the night before, outline, plan, or a combination?

Readers: What keeps you coming back to a blog?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #182

Lynn, at Connecting Stories, deals with the call on our lives. Is this writing adventure part of God's plan for us?

Her post helped solidify some things in my own mind. I particularly related to item #2 on her list.

How about you? Do you believe God called you to write?

Photo ba1969

Have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On My Nightstand - Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin

Lt. Raymond Novak is the eldest of the Novak brothers. He'd much rather occupy a pulpit than fight in a war. When the Army Air Force decides that hero pilots should be training recruits, Ray gets re-assigned to a paper-pushing job. Is he a coward? Could he handle the rigors of combat?

Helen Carlisle, a widow with a young son, carries a dreadful secret. She's allowed others to call the shots in her life since her marriage to hero, Jim Carlisle. Can she escape the twisted logic that holds her captive and prevents her from accepting the love of a Godly man?

This is the final book in the Wings of Glory series. Although it's a stand-alone novel, you'll get more out of it if you read the previous books.

Sarah Sundin has once again captured the essence of her characters' struggles. She knows how to ramp up the tension and get my pulse racing. I loved the story, the setting details, and the people. At times, I related so much to them that it was difficult to separate my feelings from theirs.

If you haven't read any of Sarah's books, you're missing some wonderful writing and heart-stopping action. While the romance element is strong, there's enough war action to satisfy the males in our audience. This would also be a great gift for the older generation, who lived through this time period.

Great job, Sarah!

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor the publisher provided this book. I purchased it, read it, and wrote this recommendation. The opinions expressed are mine.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Free Samples

They're one of the reasons I'm drawn to stores like Costco. The management knows if they can get you to sample a product, you might put it in your shopping cart. It occasionally works with me.

Blogging, book excerpts, and details about our writing journey can act like a free sample. The reader gets familiar with your writing voice, your genre, and you as a person. There have been many posts about whether or not blogging is worthwhile. When we reach out to others and give them something that will help them, they'll keep coming back for more. Whether or not they buy anything, the friendships we make enrich our lives.

What are some of your favorite writing "free samples?"

Photo: dcandea

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Round-Up - #181

Heather Sunseri, at Balance With Purpose, deals with the question of blogging and the fiction writer. She talks about our audience, should we blog about writing or the theme of our book, and other fascinating details.

Even if you aren't a novelist, there's enough food for thought on the whole subject of why and how we blog. Check out the post, and let's discuss our views on the subject.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Series Books - Love 'Em, Hate 'Em?

From Karen Kingsbury's tales of the Baxter clan, to the Left Behind Series, to Yada Yada, I love series books. My only caveat is: I like to start at the beginning and blast my way through the entire set. Nothing frustrates me more than waiting for the next book to come out.

I've been reading Neta Jackson's House of Hope Series, which follows the Yada Yada Prayer Group books. They're all written in first person, which puts you in the character's shoes. Both my mother and I adore these books. All of them are rich in detail, have spiritual themes, and feature a multi-cultural cast of characters.

Neta is still writing the House of Hope books, but she has four of them on the market. I've picked up each one for Mom as they've been published, but my first taste of this delectable series was last week. I broke my own rule because they were calling my name the way chocolate does. :)

I'm totally hooked! I'm not going to review them in detail because I don't want to spoil the reading experience for anyone.

Writers: How do you feel about writing 5-7 books in a series? I'm writing a trilogy. I can't imagine writing more than 3 books.

Readers: Do you prefer stand-alone novels or a true series that keeps you panting for more?

Monday, November 7, 2011

You May Have Noticed...

There's a new addition to my sidebar! A few weeks ago, I received my contributor copy of Love is a Verb. I searched through the book, and located my devotional. Keep My Heart Soft is printed on May 2nd.

My friend, Jeanette Levellie, is also featured in this book. Jen's devotional, The Sacrifice of Silence, is found on May 26th. What fun that we're both in the same volume!

Do you submit to devotional books or anthologies? Please share with us.

Readers: Do you enjoy daily readings?

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

I'm doing a switcheroo today from my usual Friday Round-Up. Sit back and have some chocolate. :)

Speaking of chocolate...

No, it isn't my birthday, but the picture is chocolate!

I discovered something startling at a recent doctor visit. The nurse went through the usual litany of do you smoke, drink, etc. Then, she asked about caffeine consumption.  "Coffee, tea, soft drinks, CHOCOLATE." Chocolate??? How did that get in there?

I hung my head and whispered, "Yes, I eat chocolate every day...but only a little."

I glanced up in time to see her eyes narrow. "Would you say one or two ounces?" I shrugged. Her pen poised over the chart. "I'll put down two ounces."

Have you experienced this line of questioning?

What is with Blogger these days? Or my computer for that matter.

Argh! I visit many blogs, and my comments go "pouf!" Gone. Disappeared into cyberspace. I was doing okay with the Name/URL thingy. Now, it's decided to eliminate my comments.

Please know that I do visit even if your blog won't allow me to add to the conversation.

Is anyone else out there having difficulties commenting?

One of the greatest joys I've experienced over the last couple of months is connecting or re-connecting with friends. Jeanette Levellie, of Audience of One, stayed with me during the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference where we met up with Elaine W. Miller, Susan Panzica, Kathi Macias, and a bunch of other writer friends.
People I haven't seen in 10-20 years are now emailing me. (I'm liking August, October, and November A LOT!)

Do you notice you're meeting folks from the past more often?

Have a blessed and safe weekend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

On My Nightstand - The Doctor's Lady by Jody Hedlund

Priscilla White harbors a devastating secret. Marriage and family are out of the question for her. She decides to devote her life to missions in India. Her plans suffer a major setback when the Mission Board announces they won't accept the applications of single women.

Dr. Eli Ernest has a passion for the Nez Perce indians in the Oregon Territory. He's already been there and wants to return. He runs into the same problem as Priscilla.

Neither of them want marriage, but it's the only way to fulfill the call on their lives. She's honest about her condition, but he's more worried about her surviving the dangerous trip. No woman had ever attempted the journey.

Three cheers for author Jody Hedlund! She hooked me right away, and I finished this book within a few days. Anyone disturbing my reading time discovered I was still on a covered wagon headed west.

This book is based on the true story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to cross into Oregon. Jody used her diaries as the primary source of information. It gave me a new perspective about keeping a journal, although I doubt mine would rate biography status.

Writers: If you're a historical writer, would you consider writing a fictional account of a real person? Why or why not?

Readers: Do you like books based on someone's life or do you prefer straight fiction?

Everyone: Would you want someone to tell the story of your life in a fictionalized account? Why or why not?

Disclaimer: I won this book in a giveaway on Carol Garvin's blog. Neither the publisher nor the author paid for this review. All opinion, as always, are mine.