Friday, June 27, 2014

Books 'n' Blurbs

Over the next few weeks, I hope to introduce some
recent and upcoming releases--more to think about
for your summer reading pleasure! Happy reading!

Annie's Stories 
by Cindy Thomson
July, 2014

The year is 1901, the literary sensation The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is taking New York City by storm, and everyone wonders where the next great book will come from. But to Annie Gallagher, stories are more than entertainment—they’re a sweet reminder of her storyteller father. After his death, Annie fled Ireland for the land of dreams, finding work at Hawkins House.

But when a fellow boarder with something to hide is accused of misconduct and authorities threaten to shut down the boardinghouse, Annie fears she may lose her new friends, her housekeeping job . . . and her means of funding her dream: a memorial library to honor her father. Furthermore, the friendly postman shows a little too much interest in Annie—and in her father’s unpublished stories. In fact, he suspects these tales may hold a grand secret.

Though the postman’s intentions seem pure, Annie wants to share her father’s stories on her own terms. Determined to prove herself, Annie must forge her own path to aid her friend and create the future she’s always envisioned . . . where dreams really do come true.

by Jill Eileen Smith 
February, 2014

Beautiful Rachel wants nothing more than for her older half sister Leah to wed and move out of their household. Maybe then she would not feel so scrutinized, so managed, so judged. Plain Leah wishes her father Laban would find a good man for her, someone who would love her alone and make her his only bride. Unbeknownst to either of them, Jacob is making his way to their home, trying to escape a past laced with deceit and find the future God has promised him.

But the past comes back to haunt Jacob when he finds himself on the receiving end of treachery and the victim of a cruel bait and switch. The man who wanted only one woman will end up with sisters who have never gotten along and now must spend the rest of their lives sharing a husband. In the power struggles that follow, only one woman will triumph . . . or will she?

Someone Always Loved You
by Brooke Williams
November, 2013 (Paperback) 

It is Jay Bartlett's first day as an ambulance driver. Instead of simply delivering his patient to the hospital safely, he hits a pedestrian as they arrive. The victim, Jordan James, is just arriving at the hospital to tend to her husband, who has had a heart attack. Instead of keeping vigil by his side, she is thrown into a coma and her own medical emergency. In his guilt, Jay drops his own life and stays with Jordan. Their lives soon become intertwined both in the present as well as in the past as a story of love over time unfolds.

An intricate drama including adoption, love, suspense, and plenty of questions,
Someone Always Loved You is a novel that keeps the mind churning and the soul alive.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Weekly Writing Prompt

Everyday Miracles

My weekend devotional post was about seeing the miraculous in how God’s greatness is manifested in creation. I used for example a time when I was rather down and I believed the Lord had put a rainbow in my path, so to speak, to remind me of His faithfulness and closeness to me, which cheered me up.

Is their some way the Lord has spoken to you through His creation? Take a few minutes to think about how He has or what you see, hear or touch in nature that causes you to want to give God praise. Take five to ten minutes to write about one of those experiences in all the detail you can remember. Let the joy of the Lord flow through you as you write!

If you'd like, please feel free to share something in the comment section too!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Worthy of Praise . . . and Trust!

Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness . . . I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor, and your wonderful miracles. (Psalms 145:3,5)

I remember when I was in my 20s and driving down the road after a storm. I was a young mother and feeling rather overwhelmed, so I was a bit down. It was one of those days you could smell the rain and the wet earth meeting together in the cool breeze. A beautiful rainbow appeared, arcing across the gray sky in well-defined, vibrant bands of color.

And I remembered the promise God made to Noah, telling him that the rainbow in the sky was a sign for all mankind that He wouldn’t destroy them again with a flood. I love the book of Genesis and seeing the rainbow made me feel closer to the Lord at that moment. I felt like the Lord knew I needed some encouragement and perhaps put that rainbow there just for me. At the time it seemed like a miracle.

Miracle is actually defined as “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause,” according to The Lord may not have moved a mountain or healed anyone in my presence that day I saw the rainbow, but the cheer it brought my heart felt like a miracle, like the Lord was speaking directly to me.

Little finite me can see the wonder, the beauty, the splendor in creation, knowing that it takes an awesome God, bigger than anything He made, to put a rainbow in the sky or a majestic sunset. He’s omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent! Jesus is the Word who created the heavens and the earth, everything was created through Him and he gave life to everything living! In other words, everything God has done is doing or will do is beyond my comprehension. What is an every day thing for the Lord seems like a miracle to me.

If I look at my problems compared to the vastness and greatness of God, I realize that He can handle them much better than I can. Those thoughts don’t necessarily take away the pain or make things seem easier, but it may help me with the eternal perspective. Later in Psalms 145 it talks of God’s mercy and compassion, His unfailing love, the same love Paul talks about in Romans 8:38-39: And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NLT)

A God of such holiness, greatness, glory, splendor and love has the power to forgive sins, to heal, to perform miracles, even if the miracle is the grace to endure the problem one day at a time, just as He showed me the rainbow when I needed it the most.

Father, thank You for the every day miracles and for loving us unconditionally. Help us to take our problems to You and depend on You for healing grace and mercy. Help us to have an eternal perspective.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Brave New Century on Sale Now!

Instead of our usually scheduled writing prompt, Lily and I would like to make an announcement!

Brave New Century has a beautiful new cover! And the ebook is on sale right now at Amazon and for $0.99!

Inspirational Historical Romance from Prism Book Group:
Stories of four young women who are each 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 my novella, The Pocket Watch:

Isabel Jones, an orphan, receives a ruby ring left by 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? 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Wednesday Whimsy - Sick and Tired!

I'm baack! Not large, but in charge!
A couple of weeks ago I had to make an emergency visit to the regular animal hospital. It was too late to go to the exclusive Country Cat Hospital. Sigh. It was kind of a big place and there were dogs there. Okay, I only saw one at a time, but it was scary. Mom wrapped me in a towel and had me in a harness with a leash, like she usually does when she takes me to the vet. You’d think I should be kept in a maximum-security facility of some kind!

There was a raw fish tank in the middle of the waiting room--I mean a live fish tank. I’m not sure what good a fish is if you can’t can it and eat it, but Mom said something about them being pretty and the clown fish tasting funny anyway. (Mom made me write that. Isn’t it an awful joke?)

Anyway, the veterinary assistant took my temperature in the exam room. It was not a very nice thing to do. I hissed—loudly! Then came the doctor and all that prodding and poking. I couldn’t believe Mom and Dad let them take blood and x-ray me all to find out that I had lots of gas. I could have told them that! Well, and that I might have some kind of infection like pancreatitis or IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). Mom just refers to it as BKT—barfy kitty tummy. That doesn’t sound quite as important, but it still sounds sufficiently yucky, don’t you think?

After that they gave Mom and Dad some medicine for me to take two times a day. It tasted awful! I tried writhing out of Mom’s grasp and foaming at the mouth, but they were onto me. Again, she wrapped me in the towel and tried to wipe the drool from my chin. A few times I got away. Ha ha! But then I had to clean the medicine off my fur. Blecch!

Lilybits sleeping in the sunshine.

For several days I did my best to ignore Mom. I was going to show her and not be lured by food into her trap! I finally decided to lick Momma awake on her nose this morning to make sure she got up to feed me. And I got bored sitting by the back door, so I condescended to sit on her lap for awhile.  She should be thankful. Her writing was much more productive today. No doubt thanks to me. I just hope she doesn’t get too used to it. And by the way, I am feeling better. In fact, I’m sure I would have felt better without an intervention, but at least I know my humans care. Now they have to buy me special food. I kind of like that idea, since I am a special cat. Purr!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekly Writing Prompt - Sounds!

Sitting here by an open window as spring blossoms into summer, I am enjoying the
symphony of crickets chirping outside. I hear traffic passing on a near by road, too.
It spreads out as the evening goes on. What are the sounds of summer where you are?

Take a few minutes, close your eyes and enjoy the rich mix of sounds of the season.
Can you go for a walk near a pond and listen to the funny noises frogs make? Or do
you hear the pounding of an Amtrak train on a track in Chicago. When I hear the distant
whistle of a train, it takes me back to childhood since there were train tracks only a half
mile away from our home. There's something comforting about the high-pitched noise. 

Describe the sounds you hear. Are they comforting or stressing? Do they make you think
of the past or look to the future? Try to relax and enjoy the cacophony of sounds around
you. Feel free to share some of your favorites in the comment section below. Happy writing!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Spotlight on Debut Author: Shelba Shelton Nivens

Today we’re introducing an author to you who understands the concept of perseverance. Shelba Nivens, author of The Mistaken Heiress which released April 1, 2014.

Shelba, tell us about your journey to publication.

I’ve always loved words—the way A,B,Cs are used to make words; the way words that sound alike make rhymes; the way words make stories.…  But it wasn’t until second grade that the writing “bug” bit me.

“I want you to write a play pretending you are some object,” Our teacher Mrs. Lucas told the class
I thought about  reading in our science book that liquid expands when it freezes, and I remembered hearing my city-aunt talk about a “milk man” delivering milk to her door in glass bottles. Putting these two intriguing bits of information together, I pretended I was a glass bottle full of milk left on a porch, on a cold wintery morning, where I froze, burst and ran all over the place. 

When my play was chosen for the class to act out, I knew I was going to be a writer some day.

Throughout my school years, I wrote stories, plays, song lyrics, poems, edited the school newspaper, and dreamed of one day settling down in the country with a wonderful country boy to raise kids and write books—like Jo March in Little Women and Jo’s Boys.

My books, like Jo’s, would be good, clean stories about families, and men and women God brought together to love each other forever.

My “wonderful country boy” and I were married a few months after I finished high school.  He joined the army to get his obligation to Uncle Sam behind him, and I went to work for the Birmingham News. I was writing paychecks for writers instead of writing for the paper. But I thought, If I get my foot in the door I’ll go to school at night, study journalism and move over to Editorial.

Before I could implement my plan, Ken was sent to Japan for two years and I learned I was pregnant.  While Ken was away, my writing consisted mostly of a letter every night—and occasional love poems. After he came home, we rented an apartment in the city for a year then bought a mobile home and moved to the country, where Ken and I became youth leaders in the church where he grew up.

We loved working with the young people. But writing things for youth programs stirred up that old writing bug and I began to sense God speaking to me about a writing ministry.

“But, Lord, I already have a ministry to people I can see,” I argued. “If I just sit home and write how do I know anybody will ever even see it?”

When I became ill and put to bed where I was no longer able to work with the youth, I stopped arguing.  If God wanted me to write, I didn’t have to know if anybody read it. God would do with it whatever He wanted to do.  So, after I was able, I kept a pad and pen under my pillow and wrote all hours of the day and night. When I was allowed to be up, I borrowed an old mechanical typewriter, typed up things I wrote in bed and sent them to editors whose names I found in magazines.

Right away, my work began appearing in family and religious periodicals, and for several years I free-lanced regularly for these.  I also worked for several years as a writer/photographer for our county newspaper, and am a community columnist today.  Although I no longer worked regularly with the youth after my illness, I was asked to write a play for them—which started almost forty years as leaders of a church drama ministry for Ken and me.

Meanwhile, I also worked on novels.  A lot of editors had good things to say about them, but nobody accepted them for publication—until last summer.

Now, at the age of 76, my first romance novel has just been published,

What kept you writing after all this time, never giving up on your dream?

Encouragement from editors and readers, but most of all the assurance from God that this is what He wanted me to do. And that old writing “bug” that would not leave me alone.

Please tell us something about Kate, your heroine in The Mistaken Heiress.

I think Kate’s greatest pain came from the mistaken idea that her grandfather did not love her as much as she thought he did. She thought he had broken his problem to her, and that her family did not treat her right.  I used the land because the land, and passing on family land from generation to generation is so important to Southerners.

Would you like to share what you're working on now, Shelba?

I have a series of historical romances with early settlers to the Alabama area that I want to finish up. And I’m working on a contemporary inspirational romance set at the beach on the Florida Panhandle where we enjoy spending time.

Thank you for taking the time to encourage us with your story of
perseverance and your passion for writing. You are truly an inspiration!

Thank you for allowing me to talk about my favorite subject besides my grandchildren.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Book Review: For Such a Time

Some wounds cannot be seen outwardly. Rescued from certain death by SS Kommandant Aric VonSchmidt, Hadassah Benjamin, who hides her Jewish identity with the name of Stella Muller, is apprehensive about becoming his secretary. Aric, weary of war, must manage the transit camp of Thereseinstadt in Czechoslovakia since he is no longer fit for combat.

Hadassah finds a strange mix of compassion and duty in the Kommandant. She appeals to his kindness on behalf of her people in the camp. Yet since she was forced into her position, her influence has limitations. She must stand by and watch many of them become destined for Auschwitz.

While there are some inmates who believe that Hadassah is there “for such a time” and will somehow be their rescuer, all hope seems lost and she must choose whether to turn to the God who made her and placed her there for help, sacrificing her own safety.

For Such a Time is an unlikely, tender love story, but more than that, it is an unique retelling of the story of Esther. Kate Breslin does an amazing job setting the story in the 20th century. Much like Haman, Adolf Hitler and his followers singled out the Jews for ultimate destruction, forgetting the God of Israel is a force to be reckoned with. This World War II setting in a detainment camp is a fitting, parallel backdrop.

Breslin’s characters live on the pages, touching heart and soul. We can watch Hadassah having to make choices we’re thankful we're not faced with and feel for her in her circumstances. Though an SS Kommandant, Aric has deep hurts and is disillusioned about the glory of war, yet he is trapped. Both of them must face the truth, the lies and the consequences of choices made.

More than a wonderful debut novel, For Such a Time, is a beautiful tale of love and heartache during a desperate time in our world. You won’t want to put this one down.

My kitty, Lilybits, who often helps with the book reviews, is under the weather this week. She’ll tell you more about that next week. She did want me to share that she is glad there were no kitties in this book, since it was set in such a dreadful, dangerous place, but said it's an important story to tell. She gives For Such a Time four paws up!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Weekly Writing Prompt: Going Home?

They say you can’t go home again and I’m not sure why! We bought my childhood home from my parents and lived there with our family for eleven years. I stopped there last week when I was in the neighborhood to look for cuttings from a lilac bush. Unfortunately the bushes had been torn out, but it was fun to visit the premises and meet the latest owner.

Why do you think there’s a saying, “You can’t go home again”? Is it because you’re not the same person you were growing up there? Bad memories? Needing to put the past behind you? Hmm . . .

This week’s writing prompt: He stood on the sidewalk facing his past, the home he’d grown up in. The wind stung his cheeks, even as the windows glistened in the sunshine. Walking up the path to the house he  decided . . .

My childhood home, but the beautiful canyon stone and brick were
painted over by the next owner. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

June's Monday Motivation - Deep in the Mind's Eye

Watch anybody these days. They’re in the moment, whether they’re texting, playing video games or listening to their iPod while on the computer and using any number of additional electronics. Eventually they’ll be able to wear a computer on their face and complete even more of these tasks while walking. (Check out this Google Glass demo.) After all, why waste time just walking and enjoying the outdoors when you could be multitasking? Sometimes walking and chewing gum seem like a challenge. I’m not sure how I feel about practically never disengaging from media and electronics!

However, readers who’ve been immersed in electronic media all their lives are impatient. One way writers keep them in the moment is through deep point of view (POV).  Today’s reader doesn’t want to be slowed down by she said or he thought. No more long rambling pages of narrative one might find when reading Ann of Green Gables or Pride and Prejudice. While these classics live on with loving followings, today’s editor wouldn’t likely take a second look at such historically lovely prose if written these days.

Even readers of the previous generation are used to being somewhat immersed in the life of the character through media. In television and movies, they see the character’s world up close and personal. However, they aren’t always right in the character’s head.  Deep POV allows the reader to “see” with the character’s eyes and experience with their senses.
Here are some examples:

Before deep POV: Moira watched as Tad terrorized Nathan in the cafeteria at lunch time. She thought about what a jerk Tad was when he tripped her brother and stomped on his lunch bag.

She suddenly didn’t feel so hungry any more and put her sandwich down. Anger rose within Moira and she . . .

After deep POV: Moira couldn’t believe it. Didn’t Tad ever get tired of bullying others? Nathan slammed face first into the cafeteria floor. But tripping her little brother wasn’t enough for Tad. He had to squash his victim’s lunch bag under his clodhopper feet too. What a jerk!

The last bite of Moira’s sandwich sat like cement in her throat. She stood, running toward the commotion with clenched fists. Tad’s going down!

In the second example the reader gets more of a feel of what’s going on inside Moira’s head. While it’s still written in third person, deep POV gives the reader a front row seat rather than a removed passive view of things. Once you know your character’s story arc, who they are as a character and how they react, deep POV is one of the innermost layers of character development. It takes practice, but is a very rewarding way for the reader and writer to get even better acquainted with the character. While it is a partly a narrative method, interspersed with creative dialogue, it’s a very helpful method of deepening characterization.

For more in depth information on deep POV, here’s a great article on The Editor's Blog. Enjoy!

This is a writers’ and readers’ week at Writing, Whimsy and Devotion. What's on the blog this week?

Tuesday – Weekly writing prompt.
Wednesday – Review of Kate Breslin’s debut novel, For Such a Time.
Friday – Interview with debut novelist, Shelba Shelton Nivens.

See you tomorrow!