Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday Spiritual Uplift - The Bishop of Myra

The Bishop of Myra
Now that Thanksgiving is over our thoughts inevitably turn to celebrating the birth of the wonderful gift of Jesus, our Savior, who the Father sent to us. As a young mother, I wanted my sons to experience the spiritual richness that is often missing from the holidays. I had a book called Celebrating the Christian Year, by Martha Zimmerman, which offered different ways of focusing on Christian holidays.

Something often lost in the focus on Santa Claus is how his legend came about. He was based on the 4th century Bishop of Myra, who was known for his generosity. He’d been brought up by wealthy parents who died when Nicholas was quite young and left him well off. They had been devoted Christians and Nicholas learned about Christ’s teachings from them. He wanted to share what he’d been given, as Jesus taught.

We attempted to curb the greediness of Christmas morning by celebrating St. Nicholas Day on Dec. 6th. We read Santa Are You for Real?  by Harold Myra, each year as a family and put out the stockings that night. In this short biographical sketch, the book includes how young Nicholas provides dowries for each of three daughters of a poor man, so that they could marry and wouldn’t have to be sold into slavery. As the legend goes, Nicholas tossed a bag of gold coins through their window and they landed in shoes or a sock, drying by the fire, which brought about the custom of hanging stockings by the fireplace.

In the children’s stockings we tried to include the customary wooden toy to symbolize St. Nicholas’ love for children, an orange to remember how he cared for the poor, and gold-foil covered chocolate coins to represent his generosity. We tried to focus on the example of a man who devoted his life to Christ.

Many other stories and some miracles are attributed to the life of St. Nicholas, the Bishop of Myra, from resurrection of the dead to prayers that rescued a ship full of sailors. He was persecuted and thrown into prison for his faith. We can assume that he was a man who considered his relationship with Jesus more important than his wealth, who cared about the children and the poor, who heeded the words such as those from the book of James:

Believers who are poor have something to boast about, for God has honored them. And those who are rich should boast that God has humbled them. They will fade away like a little flower in the field. (James 1:9-10)
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. (James1:27)
Russian Orthodox statue of St. Nicholas
(picture in public domain)

Of course, Jesus is our best example of all in showing love and concern for others, but we can be inspired and teach future generations about people, empowered by the Holy Spirit, who lived Godly lives despite the odds. We can remember these people and endeavor to learn from them, knowing that a new life of faith in Christ is truly a gift as we also remember the birth of the Savior. With His help, may we truly keep Christ in Christmas this year!

If you’re interested in learning more about St. Nicholas or how to incorporate more about him in your family traditions, here is a link: St. Nicholas Center/Celebrate at Home.

What family traditions do you have that help make Jesus the Reason for the Season?
Please share or just leave a comment. What do you think of celebrating St. Nicholas
It’s a Holly Jolly Blog HopEve/Day?  

Today is the last chance to comment and be entered into the drawing for a print version of Brave New Century
and a package of assorted Lindt Lindor Truffles!
Thanks for visiting my blog today!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday Whimsy--Meet Wild Cat and Writer, Elaine Stock

Interview with a Cat: Meet Wild Cat and human companion, writer, Elaine Stock

Elaine Stock is one of Mom’s writer friends who has been an encouragement to her. Today I am interviewing her feline friend, Wild Cat, to find out the real story on Elaine. As usual, I think it’s important to give the cat’s eye view.

Hi, Wild Cat, thanks for joining me today on Wednesday Whimsy. How long have you owned your human? What’s the best way to train your human?

My human companion and I go back eighteen and a half years. Despite all the jokes about cats owning humans, Elaine and I are more dear friends than slave master and slave. I used to be the bottom rung of a 3-cat household, but after my adopted siblings went to a far better place than I can imagine right now (I mean, life here with Elaine and Wally is beyond purr-fect) I became rightly the center of attention. So much that my humans promised no more furry additions for as long as I rule the home turf. That’s way okay with me. I hate to admit it, but in human terms I’m really about a 100 years old and I hear my humans say to others that I’m “frail and wobbly.” Ah, the joys of aging! I try my best not to let the arthritis in my legs bother me… I won’t go on about my other ailments.

Although I’m not in this photo (my past step-siblings are),
this is a purr-fect example of how we cuddled in the laundry basket
The best way to train humans is to be cute as anything. In my youth I used to jump onto the washing machine and hop into the laundry basket with my siblings—we’d curl up in twists and turns and look downright adorable. Since my she-human is glued to her computer when not abandoning me for hours during the day (something about working for a living to make cat food money, but I can’t grasp this concept) I’ve been curling up beside her. Every time she bounces up to retrieve something, answer the phone, or any lame thing that takes her away from me, I sit right up and make sure I look pathetically longing upon her return. I just don’t get why she can’t get off the computer and curl up with me for a 3-hour nap… something about making up pretend stories and trying to get others to see them. She might have used the phrase “vying for publication” a few times. I have better stuff to think about—like dreaming of steak dinners served to me by mice—than to pay that much attention to her human goals.

What does Elaine write?
If you look all over my house-nest, it’s loaded with Bibles, crosses, religious pictures, and these Christian-themed books, both fiction and non-fiction. After many years of trying to write stories for just anyone, she’s now knuckling down to write these stories that offer hope, with the strong message that God’s love for us—even for dogs!—is so incredibly powerful that it can help humans out of hard-pressed situations or relationships. My human, Elaine, is really attuned (not bad vocabulary for a cat, huh?) to how people interact with each other, especially families.
Wild Cat helping Elaine

How do you help her with her writing?
Again, it’s the adorable-factor. I give her my best cute and cuddly look while beside her. This makes it difficult to not only jump up and walk away from the computer but makes her realize that she doesn’t want to keep leaving the house to go to this thing called a “day job.”

Also, I must say I’m a bit computer savvy. Back in my youth Elaine used to have this funny looking Mac computer that looked like a weird dome from a bad sci-fi movie. I used to hop on top and sleep—you know, just to make sure the computer wouldn’t move on her. And, before she bought her recent laptop, the old laptop was so bad that she was using it with her old desktop keyboard hooked into it. My self-appointed job then was to rub my chin against the keyboard and help her to open files and pages. Despite her saying she didn’t need those things opened just then, I knew better! Cats are always right.

Absolutely, Wild Cat, keep up the good work! 

Any advice to budding feline muses? How can we best help our writing humans?
This was me in my younger days (my he-human restores pianos for
a living and I’m making sure this piano doesn’t walk away).

    1. Always remember that your needs come first before your human author’s needs. A well fed, warm, and happy cat improves the concentration of the human writer.
    2. If you see your human becoming frustrated while she clicks away on the computer keyboard, create a distraction. Sure, a hairball attack is the old standby, but first try running throughout the house bellowing like the place is on fire when all you want is that steak those silly mice failed to carry in on gold platters.

    3. I know it’s difficult to let the human sleep throughout the night. (What’s up with that? Why they don’t want to play all night is beyond obscene.) But believe me, a happy and well-rested human tends to create much better and abundantly. If they’re happy, that means we get more cuddling. Remember, the object is to be perpetually satisfied and whatever it takes to get the human to make us happy is worth doing!

 Thank you, for letting me interview you today, Wild Cat. Cats everywhere will appreciate your advice to remember it’s most important to meet the cat’s needs first. I can see wisdom has come with your age, indeed!

Elaine Stock never expected that a college major in psychology and sociology would walk her through the see-saw industries of food service and the weight-loss business; co-ownership with her husband in piano restoration; and ten years in community leadership. All great fodder for creating fiction. She writes contemporary fiction, exploring the dynamics of family and other relationships. Her first short story was published on Christian Fiction Online Magazine and in the spring of 2011 she shouted with joy that she'd placed in the Semi-finals category in the ACFW Genesis Contest for her novel WALK WITH ME. In 2013 she received the honor of My Book Therapy's Frasier Bronze Medalist award for her novel NO GOING BACK.

Elaine Stock's fabulous blog, Everyone's Story, is a place where she 
encourages writers, readers and well--everyone. Visit Everyone's 
Story to learn more about Elaine and her writing life.

Please leave a comment. Wild Cat and Elaine would love to hear
from you! Leave a comment or follow to be entered in this week's
drawing for a paperback edition of Brave New Century and assorted
Lindt Lindor Truffles!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The winner for last week's drawing is . . .

Susan Phillips! Congratulations! You've won an ebook copy
of Brave New Century and a $10 Amazon gift card!

Thanks for participating and happy reading to you!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Motivation - Think about what you see . . .

Monday Motivation - Think about what you see . . .

Well, I told you I would reveal the secret location of last week’s writing prompt photo this Monday. I took the picture next to the historic site of Tom Walker’s Grist Mill, now known as the Parshallville Cider Mill, at the millpond. Parshallville is a little town tucked between Hartland and Fenton, Michigan. If you blink, you might miss it! Here’s another photo I took, looking in the other direction the same day. 

Stories can spring from what may seem the most mundane things. I picked up a catalog I’d received from L.L. Bean the other day. On the cover, a couple sat on the back end of a pick up truck in an idyllic autumn scene. With a lake and evergreen trees in the background, as well as crisp brown leaves around their feet, they looked like the perfect couple to star in a contemporary romance novel. I started to think what conflict could come into play to start things out right.

What if they were being watched and an SUV speeds into view. The intruders kidnap the guy at gunpoint and knock the woman out. But why? What had he been involved in? What did he know? Was he in the witness protection program? And how would she ever find him again? Voila! My imagination was off and running with the beginning of a romantic suspense novel. (Either that, or  I've been watching too many Castle episodes lately.) I’m going to keep that catalog cover with a few lines about my ideas, tucked away for possible future use. Sparking the imagination is always good
exercise for the creative side of the brain!

Writers: Your challenge this week is to keep an eye out for pictures that inspire your creativity. Write down your ideas. Save the pictures.

Has a picture ever inspired you to write a story? Please share your thoughts about this week’s post or about creative inspiration in general. Or follow to be entered in this week’s drawing for a chance to win a paperback edition of Brave New Century, which includes my debut novella, The Pocket Watch, and a package of assorted Lindt Lindor Truffles.

Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Saturday Spiritual Uplift - More than Just a Turkey Day

More than Just a Turkey Day

It’s a Holly Jolly Blog Hop

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever.
(Psalm 107:1, NLT)

As much as I loved celebrating Christmas and Easter with my children while they were growing up, I always felt as though it was hard to get all the fun in and focus on the real meaning the way I would like. Thanksgiving, on the other hand, seemed a much simpler holiday. Family and friends get together to prepare and share a meal. Parades and football sometimes blares from the television. It’s the holiday I enjoyed hosting the most.

Image in public domain from Wikimedia Commons
There were a couple of traditions I tried to implement in our family. When the Pilgrims were going through their toughest winter they were said to have subsisted on a ration of five kernels of corn a day. Later, to remember how the Lord preserved them through that harsh time, a tradition of placing five kernels of corn on each plate, before the feast, was observed. Since we didn’t usually have corn on Thanksgiving, I instead put five candy corns on each plate and we talked about what they symbolized. For a couple of years, we placed a construction paper tree on the door to the kitchen and taped colorful fall paper leaves to the branches, each leaf having something we were thankful for written on them.

As the boys grew older and our feast moved elsewhere, these two traditions have been lost. I am glad that we can at least remember that first Thanksgiving in 1621, when the Pilgrims, grateful for their autumn harvest, feasted with the Wampanoag, by celebrating each November. And I try to remember that every day should be one of giving thanks.

The First Thanksgiving by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris {{PD-US-not renewed |1= }}
We are blessed daily with the Lord’s mercy and grace. He is ever present with His children and His help is only a prayer away. In our country, our tables overflow with abundance. We have shelter and clothing. Salvation is preached freely and available to each of us through Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection. We are free to worship and read our Bibles. There are so many things I often take for granted, including God’s love and the wonderful people He has put in my life.

Thanksgiving traditions can help families grow closer together and assist us in keeping our perspective. It’s a day for us to pause and be truly appreciative for what we’ve been given. I need to remember to make every day a mini-Thanksgiving. What about you?

Don't forget to leave a comment by tomorrow or follow for
a chance to win an ebook version of Brave New Century
and a $10 Amazon gift card.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday Whimsy - The Kitten Chronicles

Lilybits - Not large, but in charge.

The Kitten Chronicles – Part 1
This Wednesday I am interviewing my distant cousin, Tasha. I’m going to find out what her life is like for a kitten in Minnesota.

Tasha, how old are you, and what kind of cat are you?

My name is actually Natasha, or Tasha for short, although my goofy human servants often refer to me by other annoying names such as Poozy. I was born on March 27 of this year in Mankato, Minnesota to my Russian-born parents who immigrated there. I am a Siberian cat, and am descended from nobility.

(Aren't we all?) I’ve been in captivity for over 1700 days. It’s been fairly tolerable, since I have my humans well trained. How is your human training going?

My Siberian cousin, Natasha
I am only about 245 days old, and was forcibly transferred to my current penitentiary in Lakeville, Minnesota, where I have now been for about 145 days. At present, I have two human servants; a husband and wife by the name of Tom and Betsi. They are very foolish, and slow to learn, though I have been patiently trying to train them in the proper methods of serving me. 

The other two cats I now live with obviously did not do a very good job in training them prior to my arrival, and I have been endeavoring to correct their many deficiencies. I would particularly like to curtail their most annoying habits, such as continually bothering me when I am napping or studying the outdoors through the window, or not presenting me with enough food of sufficient variety.

You sound like quite the intelligent female kitten! I hear you have big stepbrother cats. Please do tell me something about them.

Tasha warming up by the fire

Indeed, I live with two older cats; one is a fourteen-year-old Himalayan named Harley and the other an eight-year-old Persian named Elliott. I really enjoy my cat-mates, especially Elliot, who has been nicknamed “the Galoot” because he is such an oaf. He has a lot of really long hair, and I love to wrestle with him and swim in all that marvelous hair; he is such a push over. I generally take a great deal of pleasure in bugging both of them while they are sleeping, and I especially like to employ my strategy of licking them, which they detest. They will move to get away from me, and then I get to chase them around the house or otherwise lay claim to their resting spot.

I like being an only cat. I’m quite the diva! Do you like having other cats in your house? If so, why?

I am very fast and love to leap across the room and over the furniture. Oddly enough, my human servants get nervous when I do this, which gives me even more pleasure.  Though it is annoying to be held captive, this house has many advantages, and there are a lot of fun places to explore especially among the antique china and glass candlesticks.  One of my favorite pass times is relaxing upside down in front of the fireplace to warm my sensitive underside.

I definitely rule here, and claim most of the servants’ attention, and the food, for myself.  I have taught the older males to show proper deference to my person, and have claimed all the best toys, sleeping places, sunny spots and so forth for myself. I do enjoy the other cats, however, since they are a source of much entertainment for me.

Tasha and the Galoot 

Thank you, Miss Tasha, for being my guest today. We will check back with you on a
later date about how your captivity is progressing.

Readers, please leave a comment or follow the blog to be entered in the drawing for
a $10 Amazon gift card and an ebook version of Brave New Century.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Motivation - What's a Picture Worth?

What’s a Picture Worth?
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Yes, it is cliché, but photographs can make great writing prompts.

Most of the trees have lost their leaves by now, but I captured this peaceful autumn
scene last year. While the image is limited to the camera lens, what you write about the picture is only limited by your imagination. The photo I’ve included could have been taken in many different locations and lead to various stories. It can evoke a river in an old-fashioned American village or across the ocean on property at an estate in England. The water could be a meeting place for WWII Resistance spies who must cross a border to escape their enemies. Or perhaps, it’s the setting of a romantic rendezvous. What does it make you think about? Write about it for five to ten minutes. Next week I’ll tell you where the photo was taken!

Please share your thoughts in a comment below for a chance to be in this week’s drawing for an ebook copy of Brave New Century and a $10 gift Amazon gift card!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

And the winners are . . .

Jodi and Karla! Thank you for leaving comments this past week at Writing, Whimsy
and Devotion. Happy reading!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Saturday Spiritual Uplift--God's GPS

God's GPS
Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
The last place I want to be on a rainy night is a strange road—without streetlights. A couple of weeks ago I was driving east from Chicago back to Michigan on I-94. I waited until I was well out of the city to stop off the highway, thinking it would be easier to find my way back to the expressway.

I had seen a sign for a MacDonald’s, which was usually a decent place to stop. The problem was that once I turned off at that exit, it turned out the fast food place was a couple of miles down the road, so I opted for a little gas station nearby, so I could get back on the highway more quickly. I chose some licorice to munch on thinking the sugar and the chewing would keep me awake until I arrived at a friend’s house for the night.

My GPS was all ready to continue guiding me when I got back in the car. I put it back on the dashboard. There was only one problem. I decided to follow my instincts when it was showing me to take the second ramp onto the highway. After all, the sign for the first turn out proclaimed I-94 going east and I was afraid to miss my turn, so I jumped on. To my dismay, I had turned onto a surface highway, which paralleled the road I wanted. The GPS showed I would connect with I-94 again after several miles, so I thought it best to stay on that road until it did. The thought of turning around and going back and possibly losing my way again seemed like more trouble than it was worth.

The cloud cover blocked the moonlight. I was on a strange road, in the dark and it seemed nearly pitch black! Not only that, but the road was wet and a little slick from the cool evening air. Rain pelted the windshield, making it more difficult to see. I almost hit a curb on a boulevard as a curve in the road seemed to jump at me from nowhere! The exchange that would get me back onto the right wasn’t getting close fast enough. Then I realized, perhaps my high beam headlights would help, so I turned them on. Why hadn’t I thought of that sooner? Eventually I made my way back to the expressway and made it to my destination. But I had to follow the word of my GPS and make sure I was shining enough light on the road.

The writer of Psalm 119 shares that scripture is a lamp to his feet and a light to his path. If I had followed the GPS when first trying to get back onto I-94, I would have not gotten lost. If I’d had more light on the road to begin with I would not have felt so stressed. Often life is like that. When I get off track and don’t look to God’s word, His roadmap for guidance, there are consequences. It doesn’t mean the way will be easy, but if I have the Lord’s wisdom to shine the light on the problem I can rest assure I am going the right way and He’s with me through it. 

Lord, please help us today and every day to cling to your word to guide us
in the right direction. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Announcing . . .

Well, after all of these years endured as Mom's muse--the frustration, the tears, the waiting, the hard work—and I suppose Mom suffered for our art a little, too, I am pleased to announce the release of her (our) debut novella in the anthology, Brave New Century!
Brave New Century

Inspirational historical romance from Prism Book Group
Stories of four young women who are braving challenges at the dawn of the 20th century in the big city. Will they overcome their hardships and find love?

Three Rings for Alice by Lisa Lickel
Love and respect in 1899 Milwaukee is as close as a phone call.

Forgiven by Paula Mowery
When Henry and Jessie meet it seems to be classic love at first sight until a shocking revelation tears them apart.

The Pocket Watch by Kathleen Rouser
Searching for the past an orphan and a young doctor find love for  the future.

                          Flames of Hope by Teena Stewart
Love ignites in the midst of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.

More about Three Rings for Alice:

Our opening story, Three Rings For Alice, shows Alice Smith’s struggles to be a modern woman at the turn of the twentieth century in America. Orphaned, she must make her own way in an age when women are just coming into the workforce. Despite a proposal of marriage from a long time friend, she determines to marry for nothing less than love, even if her love is a voice over the telephone.

About the author: Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. A muti-published, best-selling and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio-theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and magazine editor. Visit

More about Forgiven:
Henry Smith has little interest in the plans his parents have for him when it comes to his career and who he will marry. His world is turned upside-down when a shoot-out ends in fatalities.

Jessie Lee Capelle and her sister strike out from the orphanage their father mysteriously abandoned them at to make a life for themselves. Shamed by her background, Jessie struggles with Henry's attention. 

Just as Henry and Jessie decide on a life together a shocking revelation could force them apart unless true forgiveness can be found. 

About the author: Paula Mowery is a published author, speaker, and acquisitions editor for Prism Book Group. Her articles have appeared in Woman's World, The Christian Online Magazine, and the multi-author devotional blog, Full Flavored Living. She reviews Christian fiction for several authors. She is a member of ACFW and on their author interview team. Paula is a pastor's wife who lives with her husband and daughter in East Tennessee.  Find her at or connect with her through her author page on Facebook. 

More about The Pocket Watch:
Isabel Jones, an orphan, receives a ruby ring from the mother she never knew and wants more than ever to find her roots. When a young physician, Daniel Harper, rescues her from an oncoming automobile and she finds his pocket watch in a puddle, her circumstances take a turn. She begins to consider what life outside the orphanage could be like. Daniel’s heart has been broken before and the attractive young lady who finds his treasured timepiece wouldn’t be deemed suitable by his social climbing parents.
When Isabel and Daniel work side by side, caring for the orphanage children during an influenza epidemic, she becomes gravely ill. Compelled to redeem the time by helping her find the past, Daniel finds a buried truth that creates an unbridgeable chasm between them. Where will they find hope in a hopeless situation?

About the Author: Kathleen Rouser has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. Kathleen’s debut novella, The Pocket Watch, as part of the anthology, Brave New Century, will be published by Prism Book Group and released on November 13, 2013.

She studied communications and English during her first college years. Kathleen has been published in Homeschool Digest and An Encouraging Word magazines and the Oakland Press. She currently enjoys writing devotional articles for a local women’s ministry newsletter and interviewing authors for the Novel PASTimes historical fiction blog. Her desire is to bring to life endearing characters, who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives. Along with her sassy tail-less cat, she lives in southeast Michigan with her hero and husband of nearly 32 years, Jack, who not only listens to her stories, but also cooks for her. You can also find her at: and

More about Flames of Hope:
Young San Francisco police officer Gideon Light is smitten the moment he sees Lily McMinn rolling down the awnings on her father’s mercantile. Lovely, petite, and spunky, Lily had to grow up quickly after her mother passed away. She not only oversees the welfare of two younger siblings, she also helps run her father’s business.

Gideon and Lily are immediately attracted to each other and soon become good friends. It doesn’t take long before Lily realizes her feelings for Gideon have changed to something far deeper. He secretly harbors dreams of advancing in the force to earn a substantial enough income to make Lily his wife.
Before either has a chance to pursue each other, however, an earthquake of unthinkable magnitude shatters their world. With a raging fire fast in its wake, tragedy and triumph await as Gideon, Lily, and her family flee for their lives with little more than the clothes on their backs.

Set during the time of the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, this tale of great loss, incredible human courage, and sweet romance, will inspire and warm your heart.

About the author: Teena Stewart is a published author, an accomplished artist, and a ministry leader. In addition to Brave New Century, her recent published books include Mothers and Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship and The Treasure Seeker: Finding Love and Value in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father. Brave New Century represents Teena’s first fiction inclusion in a book. She and her husband Jeff are involved in “out-of-the-box” organic church ministry in Hickory, NC. For more info on Teena visit

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Motivation - On the Write Path to Success

On the Write Path: Success
Success doesn’t always look like we think it should. The appearance of success may not be up in lights, surrounded by fame and fortune or appear on the New York Times bestseller list. You’ll know you’ve accomplished something when a turn of phrase makes a critique partner write “nice” or your friends tell you they can’t wait to read your next story.

But true success is in the obedience to the calling. If you were born to write, to share the little gift God gave you with the rest of the world, then you put pen to page or keyboard to blank screen one letter, one word, one sentence at a time. The time you take to scribe out your words into an article or story may be the stress relief you need or your words offered to the Lord. You work so hard, building on each skill you’ve learned, the craft you’ve honed. You search for the glimmer of hope. Who doesn’t want to get published? For some of you it may take longer than others.

One day you find yourself having coffee with another writer in a cafĂ© and you’re talking about wips and building worlds and what the characters in your head are telling you about themselves, how one of them just might have to go. The person across the aisle from you looks nervous, their thumbs poised to text something, but then they catch a police officer’s eye and wave frantically. When the officer comes over and the other customer accuses you of a plot to take over the world, or at very least, murder, you smile.

Your friend lifts up a copy of her manuscript. You take a swallow of lukewarm latte before you show them your manuscript and a dog-eared copy of Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. And shrug. The police officer chuckles and walks away. Congratulations! You’re definitely a writer! You’ve succeeded by learning from your rejections, by starting anew each day—taking the next step on the write path and plugging away. You know the language and the tools are no longer strange to you. Keep your eye on where you're going and on the One who will take you there.

What makes a writer real? What’s your definition of success?
Leave a comment or follow for a chance in this week’s drawing for a chance to win an ebook or paperback version of Brave New Century, coming out this Wednesday, November 13!

To all our U.S. military veterans out there, thank you for serving!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

And the winner is . . .

And the winner of this past week's drawing for the $15 Amazon gift card is
Karla and her Jake-a-roo dog!

Congratulations! Happy shopping and reading! Thanks for commenting
at Writing, Whimsy and Devotion. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Saturday Spiritual Uplift - Faith in the Unseen

Faith in the Unseen
Garlic bulbs aren’t very pretty. They have lined papery skin covering their awkward shape. Much the same can be said for various flower bulbs. They’re dull in color and there’s nothing remarkable about them. Wait for spring, though, and their stems burst through the thawed soil and announce their presence with a colorful bud.

At the house I grew up in, a white wooden fence stood across the driveway as a backdrop to a row of my mom’s tulips. I don’t know how many years they continued to come back, but I remember those pink, yellow and red blossoms announcing that spring was indeed in full swing for decades.

When a bulb is buried in the dirt, deeply enough not to be dug up and eaten by deer or rodent, we can’t see how its roots sprout, entwining in the soil below. All winter long, there’s no sign of life visible to our eyes, but still we hope and wait for the snow to melt, the ground to thaw, so that the bulbs can send forth shoots of green with sprouting buds. First we see the crocus, then daffodil, then hyacinth and tulip in their lovely array.

(by Anna Paulowna, from Wikimedia Commons)
In Chapter Four of Romans, I read how Abraham’s faith was counted to him as righteousness, that his salvation wasn’t one of works, but of God’s grace. In verses 16 and 17 it says: So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham’s. For Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told him, “I have made you the father of many nations.” This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing.

Abraham didn’t have the scriptures to read yet or the example of Jesus being raised from the dead, yet still he believed that God could raise the dead and create something from nothing. How much more I should believe Him and trust Him for each day! When we confront the impossible situations in life, we have a Lord and Savior with whom all things are possible. We can trust Him to do something better than we ever imagined, even when we can’t always see how He is working.

How has the Lord encouraged you in your faith walk this week?

This is a month of celebration and thanksgiving! I am celebrating the release of Brave New Century, containing my debut novella, The Pocket Watch, with more give-aways. This week, leave a comment and/or follow, for a chance (each time you enter) to win a $15 Amazon gift card. The drawing for the week will be tomorrow, Nov. 10, so please leave a comment before tomorrow evening! 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Wednesday Whimsy - Dear Miss Lilybits . . .

The Advice Column . . . again!
Dear Miss Lilybits,
When I sit by the back door wall, a chipmunk likes to jump up on the step and taunt me relentlessly. He makes chirruping sounds and dances. I know he’s laughing at me. Or he just sits there pretending I don’t exist. It doesn’t matter how much I whine or take the attack stance. The chipmunk knows he’s safe with that glass between us! My image of feline ferociousness is being challenged every day. What can I do?  Signed, Frustrated Feline(not real name)

Dear Frustrated Feline (not real name),
Short of making a dash between your human’s legs when they open the door and going after the pill, you’re stuck. Make the best of things. First, casually lick your front paws and turn sideways, so it doesn’t look like you care, then show your dominance and take out your frustration on your humans. This is what I call anger projection therapy.

You must go about this slyly. First, beg for a treat by pacing or sitting near the treat cupboard. Whine when your human goes by. There’s nothing like a little comfort food. You do this first, because they won’t want to give you a treat later. Next, you slash the couch in an inconspicuous spot, but do it loudly, so your human is sufficiently annoyed. Walking across the keyboard and standing in front of the monitor when they’re on the computer can also be aggravating. If all else fails, cough up a hairball on an expensive rug or favorite chair.

Once your human is upset, you can go take a nap knowing your job is done. You’re back in control and the chipmunk can fuss all he wants . . . he’s being ignored, well, maybe. Signed, Lilybits, the tail-less wonder

Does your pet have any advice to share with Frustrated Feline? Please share or just comment or follow for this week’s drawing for a $15 Amazon gift card. We’re celebrating the release of Mom’s debut novella, The Pocket Watch in the anthology, Brave New Century, with a new give away every week this month.