Tuesday, January 31, 2012

a little bit of this, a little bit of that....

that- is my creative and personal life,
summed up

so here i am,
now sitting on a manuscript i need a break from
while researching for two other ideas
and thinking of my WIP i'd like to continue

one of my ideas is "steampunk"
now, i'm not into the genre in its entirety, however....

i love the vintage feel of it
the ability to delve into a victorian realm
think Sherlock Holmes, Jules Vern, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
i'd like the male character to be somewhat
a student of math or science, and practiced in chivalry

on the other hand,
i'd like the heroine to be a bit outlandish
but sweet...
active, but not over anxious
adventurous, but not foolhardy

i'd like to write about
hot air balloons
1940s fashion
camera devices
newsboy caps

and with steampunk you can write about:
flying machines
rayguns (not that i would! lol)
clockwork systems
and a whole lot more

it's an exciting genre, untapped a bit in the Christian market
but i have some ideas ;-)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Blessed Day

(here's an image from the Graphics Fairy, in honor of my horse-loving Ella)

So, today was Monday, a day that normally is...
not a restful day.

God truly blessed my day today, though, with
an abnormal Monday.
It was a restful day, but very productive.
I'm off of facebook for awhile now,
not writing for a few days,
not stressing out about writing for a few days...but I am:
ridding up around the house a bit,
writing a song,
making dinners,
organizing homeschooling...

accomplished today?
more than half our plastics are gone (whew..they were piling up, you know..
those containers and lids!),
song completed and written out for Sunday's trio,
productive homeschool day,
stovetop rid off,
living room dusted.

tomorrow...I will slow down a bit and let my body rest from
all the physical activity today of cleaning.
and maybe brainstorm/research more writing ideas.

my first draft of my first completed manuscript is overwhelming me.
so i need a break from it, at least a few days.
i made a major error in something with it and need to find my focus again.

i have another WIP that needs attention, and
some ideas for books that i'd like to research further...
and research, for me, is super fun!
so that is a relaxing, exciting part of my day!

Thank you, Lord, again, for such a pleasant day..I needed one of these...
it was urgent.
what a gift!

Summer of Promise, a review

Though she had planned to spend the summer in Vermont, Abigail Harding cannot dismiss her concerns over her older sister. Charlotte's letters have been uncharacteristically melancholy, and her claims that nothing is wrong ring false, so Abigail heads west to Fort Laramie, Wyoming. When her stagecoach is attacked, Wyoming promises to be anything but boring. Luckily, the heroics of another passenger, Lieutenant Ethan Bowles, save the day.

Abigail plans to marry when she returns to Vermont, just as soon as she attends to her sister. As the summer passes, she finds herself drawn to this rugged land and to a certain soldier determined to persuade her to stay. When summer ends, will she go back East, or will she find her heart's true home?

Amanda Cabot has penned a stellar romantic adventure in Summer of Promise. I fell in love with character, Abigail, from the beginning. Cabot brought alive her personality in just the first chapter, and continued to do so throughout the novel. I love how Cabot brought Abigail and Ethan together, from their first interaction which maintained an important part of the story. Secondary characters were exciting having been set up in the first couple chapters. I found the mystery surrounding the robberies, as well as Abigail's sister's marriage, wonderful plots, and very attention holding. I am looking forward to Charlotte's story- this writing was superb!

Available now from Baker Publishing Group. Thank you to Revell for the complimentary copy in return for an original review.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Where Wildflowers Bloom

How far will she go to follow her dreams?

The Civil War stole a father and brother from Faith Lindberg--as well as Royal Baxter, the man she wanted to marry. With only her grandfather left, she dreams of leaving Noble Springs, Missouri, and traveling west to Oregon to start a new life, away from the memories that haunt her. But first she must convince her grandfather to sell the family's mercantile and leave a town their family has called home for generations.

When Royal Baxter suddenly returns, Faith allows herself to hope that she and Royal will finally wed. But does he truly love her? Or will another man claim her heart?

When a novel carries a lilting voice, it refreshes this soul. This is exactly my thoughts on Ann Shorey's first book in the Sisters at Heart series. Both main characters were possibly two of my favorites. You see Faith growing in the Lord from the beginning, with her challenges of choosing beaus and dealing with her family's store. Then, there's Curt, someone who is full of integrity, more than meets the eye, and has more than memories to overcome. Shorey's writing is full of treasures...I'm looking forward to the next in the series!

Available now at your local Bookstore, from Baker Publishing group! This review was of my own opinion. Thanks to Revell for my complimentary review copy!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

inspiring verse

for a book I'm writing....
one that hadn't caught my eye before...

what are your thoughts?


So, what warms your heart his cold, winter's day?

Here is my list....

chai tea
the gift of song

What can you give to warm another's heart?

Here is my list...

a story being read aloud to my children
donuts for tomorrow
ears to listen to a friend
encouraging written words to my husband

Friday, January 20, 2012

Chasing Mona Lisa, a review

August 1944. Paris is on the cusp of liberation. As the soldiers of the Third Reich flee the Allied advance, they ravage the country and steal countless pieces of irreplaceable art. In fact, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable one of all—the Mona Lisa—as a postwar bargaining chip.

But the woman with the mysterious smile has some very determined protectors. Can Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler rescue Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece before it falls into German hands?

Having read the first book about Gabi and Eric, I was definitely hooked in to read this addition. I love the writing Goyer and Yorkey have accomplished together. This time in history is one that stirs my heart, and they are a great team to present such an exciting story, unique drama and plot. It is intriguing, suspenseful, and even a bit romantic. I can't imagine all the research that went into this story, really- as a reader, it all fit well together and as you read start to finish you will run in this tightly-fitting maze wondering about each step. I love a book that has twists, and Chasing Mona Lisa fits the bill. Five stars!

Available now from Baker Publishing at your local Christian bookstore. I received a free copy in return for my original review.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sea Turtle Summer

Two young girls, Britt and Bella, are a sea turtle's heroes!

Living on the beach gives them opportunity to make a difference when they find creatures in harm's way. In this book, they discover a sea turtle has laid her eggs- right where a volleyball tournament is to take place. They need to protect the eggs, but will they succeed?

This book is just perfect for my children's ages- 8, 6, and 3. They loved the pictures and the story was exciting! As a homeschooling mom, I appreciated the education they received about the environment and sea turtles. With the information included in the back about nesting of turtles, this book is a wonderful stepping stone to even more topics to discuss with your children regarding choices and more!

Thank you to the author, Nancy Stewart, and Pump Up Your Book/ Virtual Book Publicity Tours for the review copy! To purchase this book, you may visit here: Sea Turtle Summer.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Writing With Focus

Today, I am not referring to focus "within" your writing.
I'm talking about all those distractions around you.
I have NOT figured out how to accomplish writing
with SILENCE in my home, at least,
not in its entirety.

I have to think on this.....

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Philippians 4:13

The homeschooling day....two kids to teach, instruct, schedule.

The three-year-old day...adjusting to his little needs around the kids.

The fibromyalgia day...dealing with pain and fatigue, now beyond what is merely "manageable."

The writers day...amidst all the rest!

I struggle with how to accomplish my creative goals. And, if I don't create, I find that my "happiness" tank remains low. I see the Lord working through my mind via my writing...and I only wish...I only pray....

I cannot do this on my own. The Lord is with me and to accomplish just BEING throughout the day, I need to lean on Him, for all strength, and direction. It is not easy right now. I find myself challenged so much. Even making dinner. Most weeks, I make a "real" dinner only ONCE. ONCE, for crying out loud! However, my husband is so sweet and just understands. Simply put, he's the best for that. We rely on throwing things together right now, or pizza, or KFC, or my mom's chili a few times. I made a GREAT dinner Monday, but haven't made another since, and that was the first REAL dinner in weeks. YIKES! I haven't figured out how to balance everything with all we have to do...especially after adding writing in each day. And having such fibromyalgia flare ups as I do now.

I am thankful for a "little" house, for goodness gracious, could I even keep up with one bigger than this? Probably not! I am thankful for the Nintendo DS, Curious George, and the iPad for it helps me in the afternoon to have a break. And yes, I let my kids play those things a little bit each day!

I wonder, too, if I have the energy to continue to homeschool. It's a daily thought, a daily pursuit, a daily challenge. I will continue for now..and pray all the way!

I thank the Lord for the words that have finally come from my mind to paper. It has taken YEARS for this to happen with writing those imaginative stories! From going to mere thoughts to a words to form an actual written story...what a miracle He has given to me! I am praying He uses whatever I write here on this blog, or in my books, for His glory alone!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

writing with confidence

Man cannot discover new oceans
unless he has the courage
to lose sight of the shore.

~ Andre Gide ~

Courage is not simply one of the virtues,
but the form of every virtue at the testing point.

C.S. Lewis

A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.

~ English Proverb ~

A ship in the harbor is safe
...but that’s not what ships were made for.

~ Anonymous ~

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

As I go on to the next step on my writing journey, I come to a crossroads. Do I share what my pen has revealed on paper, or do I rip the sheet out of my own hand and discard it where no other may view it.

Why does the thought plague me- I am too scared to have someone say they see no point in my writing.

Should this be of any concern, truly? Should it? REALLY? How does one individual give to another so much power as if to say, yea or nay?

So goes the question in all of art. It's the essence of its nature.

As an artistic soul, I have shown others my heritage gathering side in scrapbooking, and have always been commended for the skill in which I wrap a page carefully up with all sorts of pretty things. Granted, I have not been "out there" for all to see. I am not a "scrap celebrity" or even been published with a layout in a magazine. No, I have plugged away at my own, self satisfying artistic goal of creating a framework for my photographs to be seen in. There was a time when, after producing kits for a certain store, my work was redisplayed under the name of another. My own work barely adjusted to look like the new work. It was a matter of God's timing for me to discover this, this flattery of sorts. Oh, it caused strife in my heart because I could not believe someone would take my work and seem to claim it as their own with no regard for what I did in the beginning. Yes, a compliment of sorts, but it really did nothing to boost my confidence. As I have progressed with so much other things to do with my children, this has become a back burner job. No longer something I truly enjoy, except to ponder. Yes, I enjoy thinking of scrapbooking, and thinking of different things I'd use. But to pull the projects out and work on them, that is not on the table.

Moving on, the subjective way of photography is something I've felt as well. I've had first hand knowledge of some who do not care for my style. It can hurt, a simple prick of a little needle on the finger that snaps the shots. You move on, and I decide that anyways, too much is too much, the public aspect and business aspect of the photography thing is just not my cup of tea. I enjoy it so much, but to be too diligent with it is to remove the joy instantly. I want not to do that. Take a picture without enjoying the process? No. Thank. You. I simply make sure the person knows who they are dealing with. This photographer is not a "portrait" photographer. I have a different way of doing things, and will. NOT. CHANGE. it. because it works for me. It's what God enabled me to do.

As I prepare to extend my writing to someone, via queries or what have you, who could perhaps send its on its merry way to a publisher someday, I find myself more nervous than ever before. The confidence I need has waned since I last strapped it to my armor. It did not stay adhered very well, in fact. It fragmented itself to little pieces, and as I worried here and there, it fell bit by bit, until I no longer recognized that confidence and faith but saw the same old me.

Yesterday's post still rings true today. There is comfort in confidence. Without confidence, this certain lady has no comfort. Without comfort, this girl finds herself mentally taxed, worries, stressed needlessly, hopes in despair, thoughts unorganized even more. It's a tried and true way to unwrap all the hopes and dreams of a writer. Isn't it?

How do I maintain that confidence once the Lord has revealed it to me? How do I let that light shine? How does one GO ON with what God is calling them to do and receive WELL the proper things needed to carry on His purpose in my life.

To me, it is a never-ending process. I have no recipe. I do not have a thing to tell myself to remind myself to just stop it and stare down the challenge with the right to win.

Confidence would gleam so brightly in my world if I just could have it for once. Being a quiet girl does not help. It shares a "stay back" and "forget it" kind of treat with its friend. It's yummy and both hang out, not revealing their true purposes. Not sharing with others what they can do, what they have to offer.

And why, oh why, does confidence elude me in the face of accomplishing one of the MOST EXCITING THINGS I have EVER done?! To this mentally, fibro-fogged lady, writing a novel was the last thing I thought I could ever do, although I dreamt forever to do so. And I mean For. EVER. Since I was in elementary school.

In college, professors pleaded I switch over to their particular major because of my writing. I have always been told it is exceptional. As I come to this place in my life, however, having three children and staying at home has seemed to replace some of those brain writing cells I use to have.

Do I really have what it takes to stand up against the rest of the world with my writing? Can I advocate it, send it out there to be received as it will? How does my heart and emotions deal with the positive and negative? It seems to me, to be too much. That's the honest, hard to hear truth. It seems TOO MUCH.

So all I can do is pray. Trust God. pray. Trust God. and so on.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

an ode to comfort....

My friend, Laura Frantz, posted a devotional which spoke to my soul this very day. My thoughts have been ones of pain and discord, confusion and self-doubt, fear and loss. Mostly of my own doing have these thoughts sprung up, or, rather, continued their rooting in my heart. I'd rather keep on digging my own little hole so I can bury my head in it. It's safer than putting myself out there. Sorting through my passions to see what should I do now? Trying to answer "what does God want for my life" all while homeschooling, feeling more pain and fatigue than usual, and feeling separated from people or things at the same time. Yes, wish for that comfort-filled mind, the comforting thoughts of the Lord, the comfort-filled verses from the Word. As I mindlessly try to grasp these things on my own, I see myself getting ahead of myself but further behind. Climbing up when I'm clearly falling down. My thoughts continue to drive me to other shadowy places, allowing no solace.

When I read Laura's post, my heart groaned with that lack of comfort to feed it. Where could I have that grace filled peace of mind again? How do I stop myself from spinning in this cycle? What does one do to fill those holes? It feels most certainly like a test. A long-time in training. And just when I had so many more faith-filled moments in my life, studying and meditating on the word.

Isn't that always the timing?

We place our hearts in God's hands. He molds us. This "ministry" seems to be "too lofty" to me! It IS worth a lot. It is DIFFICULT.

But I can answer how often I have been able to help someone.

Many times....

I can say that humbly...not to gain worthiness in anyone's eyes. It seems I can empathize quite a bit, in a variety of ways.

Not that I really want to. I'd rather feel that comfort all the time. But when I CAN enjoy that comfort, oh, what a sweet tender embrace it is. There's nothing like it. It is not only comfort- it's grace. It is love. It is a blossoming of faith. It is being real.

I want to gather those moments, place them on my wall, in my heart, on the faces of my children. I want to see them EVERYDAY. I want to hear them loud and clear, softly and tenderly.

I pray for comfort despite the storm that fills my mind. And when it comes, I will give freely to others all the more.

This photograph is a niche in my sister in law's home...my brother's guitar in the back of their comfy chair. I imagine it as a place I'd be sitting, taking in refreshing breaths of air. I wonder how many "niches" God has in the mansion He prepares for me. I wonder how delightful it will be to not have to LOOK for such a place. It would be JUST THERE. FOR ME. for me. for you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Barefoot Church

I'm a chapter in, and find myself grateful for the opportunity to read this book.

It's a call to let go of your conceived notions of who to serve, where to serve, when to serve. Look at the Word, and see how Jesus served. Who. Where. And when.
Are you part of a "socially active" church that proclaims as well?

Are you aiding the process that "keeps the church from withdrawing from the world?" Or, feeding the drive of the world to withdraw from the church?

Are you committed to your own "field of dreams" or God's?

Questions to ponder.....

Monday, January 9, 2012

what an opportunity SHE has

my Ella and her horse riding
i'm so thankful God has brought this riding ability and desire to her heart!

sister and brother
are enjoying the "horses" together these days

a little bit of riding for Buddy in the stable.

a bit of grooming.

i'm thankful he gets to learn the responsibilities right along with Ella.

and while Ella has horses on her heart,
God has entered her mind as well, more often, to soften it and challenge it.
I am THANKFUL for what delight He has brought her with the magnificent creatures
HE has made!

and all along, this mother prays for safety with each ride, happiness as well.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

a new nephew...

William Truett Snyder, born January 2, 2012. Isn't he a beauty?!

The Keeper, book review

Julia Lapp has planned on marrying Paul Fisher since she was a girl. Now twenty-one, she looks forward to their wedding with giddy anticipation. When Paul tells her he wants to postpone the wedding--again--she knows who is to blame. Perpetual bachelor and spreader of cold feet, Roman Troyer, the Bee Man.

Roamin' Roman travels through the Amish communities of Ohio and Pennsylvania with his hives full of bees, renting them out to farmers in need of pollinators. He relishes his nomadic life, which keeps him from thinking about all he has lost. He especially enjoys bringing his bees to Stoney Ridge each year. But with Julia on a mission to punish him for inspiring Paul's cold feet, the Lapp farm is looking decidedly less pleasant.

Can Julia secure the future she's always dreamed of? Or does God have something else in mind?

Full of the plot twists and surprises her fans love, The Keeper is the first in a new series by bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher. Through touching family relationships and trials of the heart, Fisher's vivid characters grapple with yielding to God's will when it doesn't match their own.

The world of the Amish MUST come so easily to Ms. Fisher, as shown in her skillful words and patient story-telling. I absolutely love her work, and The Keeper is no exception. As I ponder the title, and the plot of the story, I wonder how much knowledge one can gain, how much truth in that short collection of two words can be revealed. As Julia reckons with the beekeeper, you will be breathless with the richness of characters, setting, and challenges of faith. As a girl who had to wait for timing in her own courtship, I understood the pain Julia went through. I see this book as one perfect for young single adults, especially, because of the lessons learned when one is patient for love with God's perfect timing. Particularly touching was the way Julia's brother held his own part of the story in a haunting yet positive way. I was completely moved by this book, and will KEEP it close to my heart to ponder for a long time!

Available January 2012 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I was provided a free review copy in return for my original review.