Friday, November 29, 2013

Author Event and Pictures!

Here's a photo of my first author event at a local craft show (October 2013). I had a great time seeing old friends and meeting some new readers.

Here's my display table. Yeah, it needs improvement. Any suggestions? At least the kids enjoyed the candy. :)

Writers and Readers: What are your favorite aspects of author events? 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Guest Post by Author David Stearman

God’s Original*

Psalm 33:25--He fashions their hearts individually.

I got to thinking about our individuality today. Snowflakes, leaves, human voices. It started when a friend of mine, an intelligent, multi-talented model whose image graces the covers of several of my books, texted me about passing her GED. She’d never been able to graduate from high school due to extenuating family challenges, though you’d never know this, since she’s so well-read, self-educated, and accomplished.

Our texts went like this:

Her: I passed my GED with flying colors!

Me: Of course you did. You’re smart.

Her: I am an overachiever with low self esteem. So I surprised myself! Lol

Me: You have no reason, on any level, for having low self esteem. You’re gifted and exceptional. But it’s often the people like that who have low self-esteem, simply because they’re different. Normal people don’t do special things.

Me: Wow. That was good. I should blog it.

Her: Thank you!

Her: Blog it!

So here I am, blogging it. ‘Cause face it; you’re abnormal, right? Don’t look at me in that tone of voice. Of course you are, because you’re an original creation of God.

Snowflakes. Leaves. Human voices…

You were born with your own unique face, personality, and set of talents. Yet you feel inadequate when you compare your own unique characteristics with others’. “She’s taller than me, more petite; better at math, better at English, skinnier, more shapely,” whatever.

…but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise (2 Corinthians 10:12)

It’s impossible to compare the quality of two original paintings created by the same artist. Though Monet painted both Water Lilies and Sunrise, they can never be measured against each other for superlatives. One’s not better than the other; they’re just different. Like you and me.

God, the master Artist, created each of us individually.

For you formed my inward parts; you covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed, and in your book they all were written; the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139: 13-16)

But God not only created us individually, He also created us as individuals. So you’re not normal, and neither am I. There is no normal, there’s only you, me, and all those other weirdos, each of us with his or her own special beauty, significance and purpose. So be yourself and be proud of it. You’re God’s original.

Today’s prayer: God, today I’m gonna be me. I won’t try to imitate anyone else, for you gave me my own, beautiful individuality. I’ll walk tall in it and be proud of who I am: a unique creation of God.

*The above post is an excerpt from David’s 90-day devotional “Encouragement Explosion--90 Days of Uplift,” available from Amazon here:, as well as from Barnes, Noble, KoboBooks, and other fine online retailers.       

Monday, November 25, 2013

We Interrupt Our Regularly-Scheduled Blog...

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog for an announcement:  The second book in my trilogy, The Scent of Fear, released on Thursday, November 21, 2013!

Here's the backcover blurb:

The Zimmermans enjoy the tenuous peace in the wake of their hair-raising year battling the New Patriots. Unexpected visitors once again throw them into turmoil.

Jim Kenneman, Director of National Security, masterminded the plan to break up a hate group ravaging the Christian community. Now, his enemies are out to eliminate him. Should he make a run for it or stick by his tried-and-true negotiating skills?

Monty Addison, a topnotch operative, carried out his assignment in Bird-in-Hand. A plot to destroy his boss sends him on a mission. Without agency sanction, it may cost him everything - his career, his family, and maybe his life.

Dr. Abby Weaver strives to save infants and toddlers in Holmes County, Ohio. When she meets two strangers, she can't get the tall, handsome one out of her mind. Will their paths intersect again or will dangerous times keep them apart?

Available on Amazon.

Friday, November 22, 2013

On My Nightstand - Shadowed in Silk by Christine Lindsay

Abby Fraser travels to India with her young son, Cam, to join her husband. Strong and determined, she's ready to make a life with the man she knew for a few weeks before he went off to war.

Major Geoffrey Richards comes to Abby's rescue when her husband fails to meet her ship. He's back from a devastating war and has the emotional scars to prove it. He's torn between his faith and the brutality of his countrymen.

Plots by a Russian spy and those wanting freedom for India ramp up the intrigue and danger. A horrible event, a kidnapping, and betrayal bring the story to a gripping climax.

Christine Lindsay takes us to exotic India during the days of the British Raj. The sights, noises, and smells are shown in vivid detail. As I read, my mind was in her story world 100%.

The characters are as diverse and colorful as the setting. Even the peripheral characters are given special attention.

I'm always excited when I discover a new-to-me author, whose book transports me to another era. I can't wait to read Christine's other books and novellas.

Disclaimer: I won this book in a blog giveaway and have not received any payment for a review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Writers and Readers:  What new authors have you discovered lately? What made their work "sing?"

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Making Peace With Christmas - Guest Post by Sheila Seiler Lagrand

Sheila Lagrand is a fellow Helping Hands Press author. Welcome, Sheila! Thanks for guest posting here today. 

In my strident youth I was a Christmas militant. I railed against the displays of candy canes and chocolate snowmen lurking about the bags of Halloween candy. I fumed as tinsel mingled with the harvest cornucopia in some kind of mall marketing miscegenation. I averted my eyes when neighbors’ Christmas lights brightened the street before we had celebrated Thanksgiving.

Not this year. Maybe it’s because I’m not as young as I used to be. Maybe it’s because the grandchild count has risen to nine—which means more gifts, more wrapping, more time to dream up selections that say I love you. Maybe it’s because I’m traveling across an ocean to spend Christmas with my daughter, her Navy-Chief husband, and their children on Guam. For all these reasons, I have overcome my Christmas-season-snobbery. Never again, Lord help me, will I judge the mom scooping up the latest Legos in October.

And never again will I jam all the gift-choosing, making, ordering, or buying into the precious few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a legalistic maneuver all along, I see now, not a decision born of grace and joy. And what is more important at Christmastime than grace and joy? As I consider it today, I can’t even remember why I thought it was such an achievement to exhaust myself by squeezing every bit of preparation into a few short weeks.

After all these hard-line years, it’s been deliciously daring to choose gifts in October, to be laying in stores of red-and-green tissue during the first crisp days of autumn.  Once I committed to changing my approach, and my attitude, about the Christmas schedule, I reaped an unexpected bonus: The rejoicing heart, the sense of blessedness as I reflect on the priceless gift of our Savior, the real key elements to the Christmas season, they kicked in early, too. Instead of three or four weeks of an overflowing heart, I’ve enjoyed the jubilation since late October.

I understand better now the friend who sings carols in March, the heart-sister who displays a Christmas tree all year long. I’ve been cheating myself out of a heap of exultation. So if we cross paths at the beach next summer, please don’t be surprised if I greet you with a hearty “Merry Christmas!” 

You can meet Sheila at 

Writers and Readers: When do you start looking for special gifts for Christmas?
Photo Credit: greenolive

Monday, November 18, 2013

A New Perspective

Not long ago, my best friend passed away. It seems that grief takes on a different meaning with each loved one I lose, as well as my age when it occurs.

As a pre-teen, my grandfather died of a heart attack. Pain struck, swift and sure. Yet, I was able to bounce back in a fairly short time. Years later, my father went to be with the Lord. His death was sudden, and his absence was hard to accept. For a long time, I kept looking at his favorite chair expecting to see him.

My husband's death broke all previous records for hurt. Although he was sick for 14 months, the intensity stunned me. The vision of a paperdoll ripped in two embedded in my mind. For a time, all I wanted was for the Lord to take me as well. As more people I loved departed this life, my homesickness for heaven grew.

This recent loss was so unexpected that it took on a surreal quality. I'd talked to her a few days before. How could she be gone? The messages she left on my answering machine were full of life. Yet, I could no longer email her with a funny story or make plans for a visit. A gaping hole was left where she prayed for me, gave advice, and shared life events.

As the Lord began healing my broken heart, I thought about how I could incorporate the different stages of mourning into my writing. It's one thing to look at the panorama of loss with the naked eye and quite another to see things under the magnification of personal experience. Here are a few things I learned:

1.  The variety of emotions and thoughts that went through my head defied all logic. Although I knew each of them were with the Lord and the separation was temporary, it changed my way of life.

2.  We'd built relationships, lived life together, created memories. After they departed, those things brought pain because that chapter closed. Only as the Lord brought new connections and new memories did those times once again bring joy and laughter.

3.  I understood how someone losing a mate ran the risk of dying within a few years. Grief left unchecked can sap the will to live. Indeed, I almost joined him within the first year.

I came to terms with these losses, each so individual and affecting me on various levels. God had me here for a purpose. My life belonged to Him, and I would move forward until my earthly sojourn completed its course.

Writers and Readers: How have fictional stories affected your view of death and dying? Have you found comfort in the midst of pain? Please share.

Photo credit: Vincitrice

Friday, November 15, 2013

Flighty Friday

As I've flown from one blog to another, I've discovered some interesting posts.

1.  Hilary Melton-Butcher, at Positive Letters, did a fascinating post of glass books. Yes, I said, "glass!"

2. Sarah Martin Byrd talks about marketing your writing at festivals. 

3. Zoe McCarthy gives us tips on how to find the "sweet spot" with readers.

Writers: What are some writing techniques you use to connect with your audience?

Readers: Books come in all shapes, sizes, and mediums these days. What's your favorite - print, e-book, coffee table books, paperbacks, hardcover, or some other type?

Photo Credit: luisrock62

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

An Announcement From My Publisher

My publisher requested I post this announcement.



We would like to thank all of the wonderful readers that have purchased, read, and reviewed Book I and Book II of the #1 Best–Selling Trilogy “The Divine Sisterhood of The Whoopee Pie Sisters” by Amazon Top 100 authors Sarah Price and Whoopie Pie Pam Jarrell.

Good news about the Trilogy!
The price of Book II was originally $1.99 but has just been lowered to $.99.
Here is the Amazon Kindle link:

Anyone that has purchased Book II at the $1.99 price is welcome to come to the Helping Hands Press Facebook page, message us there, and we will be happy to send you some amazing stories to compensate you for the price reduction. 

Remember: there is only one dynamic author duo named Sarah Price and Whoopie Pie Pam Jarrell, and there is only one original series named, “The Divine Sisterhood of The Whoopie Pie Sisters.” Accept no imitations!

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Cat's Out of the Bag

At my late friend's Celebration of Life service, I shared a few brief thoughts. Part of it involved a little-known nickname she used for me. Afterward, the pastor who officiated, came up to me. "I'll never think of you as Susan again. You'll always be Suze in my mind."

Several others commented on the moniker, and I had to chuckle in spite of the sad occasion. The cat was out of the bag. Now others knew the nickname used by my uncle and a few close friends.

Any time you share something on social media, in a blog post (like this one), or in a public setting, be prepared. "The cat's out of the bag." And, guess what? There's no way to get it back into the bag. So, if you don't want it out there, don't say it.

Now you know. One of my nicknames (my favorite because my uncle gave it to me) is Suze (pronounced Sooz).

Writers and Readers: Have you ever "let the cat out of the bag" in an interview or blog post? Please share.

Friday, November 8, 2013

HC 101 Blog Tour - Karen Lange

Thinking about joining or starting a homeschool co-op? Not sure if a co-op is a good fit? Homeschool Co-ops 101 weighs the pros, cons, and creative options available for today’s homeschool family.
  • Section 1 includes essential, digestible info on co-op ingredients such as planning and organization, schedules, teaching, finances, and addressing conflict and burnout.
  • Section 2 shares a sampling of co-op games and activities, and
  • Section 3 contains five hands-on unit studies. These ready to use studies include lessons on Leonardo da Vinci, Birds of Prey, Public Speaking, Tall Tales, and Creative Writing, and are suitable for co-op or home use. This section also includes unit study guidelines that are easily customized to suit any topic.
  • Section 4 offers suggested books, curriculum, and other resources.
Karen Lange has gathered insight from years of co-oping and now shares her own and others’ experiences in this valuable and encouraging handbook.
Homeschool Co-ops 101 is available at:
karen langeAbout the Author

Karen Lange, her husband, and three children were active in co-ops during their sixteen-year homeschool journey. Her experience includes serving as a local homeschool support group coordinator and consultant for a state homeschool network in New Jersey. Karen’s children have since graduated, and she is now a freelance writer and online writing instructor for homeschooled teens.

You can connect with Karen at her Blog, on Twitter, and Facebook.

homeschool co-ops 101

Blog Tour Schedule
November 4
~Ruth Schiffman,
~Robyn Campbell,
November 5
~Carol Alexander,
~Diane Estrella,
November 6
~Gena Mayo,
~Marja Meijers,
November 7
~Sandie Crozek,
~Melissa Brander,
~Cecelia Lester,
November 8
~Susan Reinhardt,
~Cecelia Lester,
November 10
~Laura V. Hilton,
~Melissa & Tiffany,
~Janette Dolores,
November 11
~Susan Sundwall,
~Michelle Isenhoff,
November 12
~Carol Alexander,
~Jeanette Levellie,
November 13
~Susanne Dietze,
~Sherryl Wilson,
~Anne Payne,
November 14
~Rhonda Schrock,
~Abi Buening,
~Amber Schamel,
November 15
~Crystal King,
~Barb Winters,
~Tyrean Martinson,
November 16
November 17
~Amada Chavez,
~Cindi Clubbs,
~Rebecca Boerner,
November 18
~Carlene Havel,
November 19
~Karen Loethen,
~Amy Smith,
November 20
~Darlene Arroyo-Lozada,
November 22
~Sarah Bailey,
~Thumb Updown,
December 2
~Jennifer Shirk,
~Ticia M.,

The Giveaway

Open to US addresses only. One person will receive a $25 Amazon GC and a copy of Homeschool Co-ops 101. Please use the Rafflecopter below to be entered:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be chosen from those entries and announced December 5, 2013. Good luck!
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as e-mailed, and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Diane at That’s What I’m Here For… and sponsored by the author, Karen Lange. The author provided me with a free copy of Homeschool Co-ops 101 to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a giveaway in return for the free book.VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Homeschool Co-ops 101 Blog Tour Questions (Q&A)

What prompted you to write this book?

Thanks so much for inviting me over to your blog! I’m looking forward to visiting with you and your followers.

About ten years ago, I was encouraged by a good friend in the homeschool community to write a booklet about co-ops. She was the director of a statewide homeschool support network, and she knew people often asked me about how a co-op works. The booklet seemed like a good way to share the info, so I self published it. In May of 2013, Helping Hands Press offered me a contract to expand it, so here we are!

What can readers expect to find in the book?

The book offers info on how to start a co-op and weighs the pros, cons, and creative options available for homeschool families. One thing I emphasize is that parents have options when it comes to co-oping. Co-ops come in all sizes and sometimes an existing one is not a good fit for a family. Parents shouldn’t feel bad or be intimidated if this is the case; they need to know that it’s okay to either not participate and even start their own co-op if they wish.
Another thing to note is that HC 101's usefulness is not limited to just homeschoolers. The how to section offers helpful setup and structure tips for other K-12 student groups. The activity segment has lessons, games, and hands on projects that suit these groups as well.

Here is a breakdown of each section of the book:

Section 1 includes info on co-op ingredients such as planning and organization, schedules, teaching, finances, and addressing conflict and burnout. Section 2 has a sampling of co-op games and activities, and Section 3 contains five hands-on unit studies. The topics include lessons on Leonardo da Vinci, Birds of Prey, Public Speaking, Tall Tales, and Creative Writing, and are suitable for co-op or individual home use. Section 3 also includes unit study guidelines that are easily customized to suit any topic. Section 4 offers suggested books, curriculum, and other resources.

Tell us a little about your homeschool experience.

My husband and I homeschooled our three children (two sons and a daughter) in grades K-12. We chose to homeschool because, among other things, we wanted to personalize our children’s education and felt home was the best place to do that. During this time, we were active with our local homeschool support group’s events such as field trips and science and art fairs. Co-ops played an important role too. These activities helped supplement our studies, provided balanced socialization, fellowship, and fun. They also offered a broader worldview as our children interacted with not just homeschool families, but the surrounding community.

If you happen to be interested in more info about the ups and downs of homeschooling, socialization, higher education, and other related topics, visit this link:

What would you like readers to take away from the book?

No one plan fits everyone, so I encourage families, whether they decide to co-op or not, to find the right balance and fit for them. My hope is that they would find ideas and encouragement for their children’s educational journey.

Thanks again for sharing your space with me today. It’s been a pleasure!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Facebook Foibles

One of my favorite games as a youngster was monopoly, but I didn't like landing on the "Go to Jail" squares. Who would have thought that we'd encounter a virtual, "Go to Jail" square on Facebook?

Yeah, I've done several stints in the Facebook version of jail. Those innocent questions that pop up when you accept a friend can get someone into big trouble. You know the one I mean: Do you know this person outside of Facebook? Yes or No? Answering "No" can send someone straight to the slammer with no "Get Out of Jail Free" card available.

As authors and writers, we desire to connect with each other and our readers. Facebook puts up all sorts of suggestions for friends and then punishes you if you send a friend request to them.

I recently tried to send a message to an existing friend because she's doing an interview with me. I was banned because I was in Facebook prison and supposedly didn't know her outside of the site. If she's emailing me and on my blog, I know her outside of Facebook. We know many people on other social media sites.

I say, "It's time for Facebook to stop penalizing users for making friends." What do you say about the matter?

Photo Credit:  nicobec

Friday, November 1, 2013

The Formatting Wars

In theory at least, what you see on your computer screen should be what prints out on paper. NOT. There are all kinds of gremlins in that Word program to make your prose skedaddle to another line or make your double-spaced manuscript show up with monster-sized breaks.

When I wrote The Moses Conspiracy and The Scent of Fear, it was before I had some important lessons on the art of formatting a manuscript. Moses gave everyone a headache, but Fear - sigh - was pronounced beyond help. I had to properly format a new document and re-type the ENTIRE manuscript.

The strange/wonderful thing about this adventure is how God used it to make the book better than it was before. During an earlier edit, I'd prayed that I wouldn't miss problem areas. As the re-typing progressed, I discovered little things here and there that I needed/wanted to change.

While I wouldn't recommend re-typing a manuscript as an editing tool, it worked to my benefit this time around. You can be sure I heeded my formatting  lessons when I wrote my Christmas novella, The Christmas Wish.

Writers: Have you had any disasters that ended up working out for your good?

Readers: Do you get frustrated with computer programs, and how do you get answers?

Photo Credit: miljan