Sunday, November 23, 2014

Grateful?

Grateful? Mom and Dad think I should be since I am a spoiled little cat—they say! I, on the other hand think I need just a little bit more. A little bit more time to sleep undisturbed, a little more food in my dish, colder water and more treats. That last one really bugs me, because ever since I started having tummy troubles I don’t receive nearly the amount of treats I deserve or enough food off my human’s plate. I think they should share, but they keep listening to the vet instead of me! Though Mom says my whining isn’t too attractive. Also, I think Mom needs to spend all day at home to cater to my every whim. After all, I give her a purpose to exist.

What’s that? Mom is trying to tell me something . . . hold on . . . Ahem, she mentioned something about how cold and wet out it is outside. Yes, I know, Mom, I don’t have to worry too much, I mean, at all, about where my next meal is coming from. Tell them I’m fed three times a day right now? Well, okay . . . I’m thinking.

Pause. Silence. (Mom told me to count my blessings.)

Perhaps I should me more grateful for what I have. Mom made me my very own pink blanket for the shelf underneath the foyer table. It’s right by the heat vent. It’s very nice to nap there in the winter when I don’t have a lap to park on. And my special wet food is very yummy. And the kibble is always good, especially when she opens a fresh bag. I have lots of cat toys and two humans to chase me and play with me. Nobody yells at me when I lick their face in the middle of the night, though I do get the distinct impression they’re a little annoyed. How my cuteness can be considered so annoying I don’t understand. Okay, Mom, you’re right I have l lots to be thankful for.

What about you? Do you sometimes forget about what you’ve been given, because you are focusing on what you don’t have, rather than on the Giver of all good gifts? Even Mom admits she sometimes does!


Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. (James 1:17, ESV)




Thursday, November 20, 2014

New Favorite Character Interviews to Enjoy!

Time for some pre-holiday Christmas fun! Two of my co-authors of the Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories,  Karen Wingate and Donna Hubbard Scofield, are introducing to us their favorite characters in their short stories, and I had the privilege of interviewing Jen Huckabee and Mary Ann Hopkins Hubbard this week.




The Christmas Gift by Karen Wingate    

Favorite character: Jen Huckabee
Karen Wingate, author

Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are: Jen is a frazzled pastor’s wife and mother of two preschool girls

 Tell us about your favorite Christmas, Jen. Why was it your favorite?

My favorite Christmas was the time my husband traveled out to Arizona to meet my entire family the year after we were married. All of us were there at my mom and dad’s house. The gifts were small but the family fun was wonderful and Mom had never cooked such a huge spread. Oh, we were more stuffed than the turkey. My family opened their arms wide to Keith and made him feel right at home – even when Uncle Jim tried to plant a fake tarantula in his hair. My heart aches – I wish I had family around now.

Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?


Well, now that we are so far away from family – my husband is a minister you know – and our family is so young, we’re trying to establish new traditions, or at least borrow some from our childhood. I want to fix big lavish meals – just like my mom did. Keith says we’ll be eating turkey leftovers for weeks; after all, how much can two small preschool girls eat? My husband and I have already started one tradition – reading the Christmas story at the breakfast table Christmas morning.  What a wonderful way to set the tone for the rest of the day. And you should hear my husband read! Oh, what a deep rich voice. I never tire of hearing him speak.





Mary Ann's Gift by Donna Hubbard Scofield

 Favorite character: Mary Ann Hopkins Hubbard

Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are: 
Mary Ann Hopkins - a plain, shy girl who already knows she'll be the one left at home to care for the old folks, and help out when her sisters-in-law have babies. Because she wants a home and family of her own, she says yes when Henry proposes. She becomes the instant mama to the two children.

Please tell us about your favorite Christmas, Mary Ann. Why was it your favorite?

My favorite Christmas: Oh, for sure it would have to be that first Christmas I was Henry's wife and mama to the two little ones. The big smile on Angeline's little face, usually so serious, when she spied those dolly dresses I'd sewed to match her own, was precious. When Tommy ran to me and grabbed me around the legs and said, "Up, mama! Up, mama!" I thought my heart was going to burst with happiness. The knowledge that Henry was beginning to love me, and return to God, made me happier than I had ever been in my life.

Donna Hubbard Scofield, author
Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?

A Christmas Tradition:  Every year I make honey cakes and gingerbread. I have to put them on top of the cupboard, because Tommy would eat enough of them to get a belly-ache. His pa would, too!

Henry always cuts a little cedar tree from our woods, and we put it on the kitchen table and decorate it with holly berries, feathers, yarn, tin-foil, and anything else we can find.

Most importantly, we always go to church on Christmas morning and listen to those precious words... together.

Leave a comment for a chance to win Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories. We love your comments!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

And the winners are . . .

We have two winners from last week's book drawings!

The winner of Lynn Lovegreen's ebook, Golden Days, is Carlene Havel!


The winner of Dawn Crandall's ebook, The Bound Heart, is Anne! 

Congratulations to both of you on winning your prizes! Please contact me through the
comment section by leaving your email address in the form of name[at]domain[dot]com,
so that I may put you in touch with the authors. Thank you and happy reading!


Monday, November 17, 2014

Two More Favorite Characters from Christmas Treasures!



Time for some pre-holiday Christmas fun! Two of my co-authors of the Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories, Elaine Stock and April Strauch, are introducing to us their favorite characters in their short stories, and I had the privilege of interviewing Russell and Miss Ava this week.


The Forever Christmas Gift by Elaine Stock 

Favorite character: Russell

Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are: Russell is about 70, is a loner but not lonely because he has the spirit of Christ within his heart, yet he can use a good dosage of Christmas cheer . . . which comes from an unexpected someone.


Tell us about your favorite Christmas, Russell. Why was it your favorite?

Author, Elaine Stock 
I enjoyed all my holiday celebrations with my family. My folks adopted me and loved me so much. Before my niece and nephew took off on their own adult paths we had a merry Christmas in my tiny apartment, filled with hymn singing, sweets, gifts, and more Christmas tree than space allowed. It hasn’t really been the same since. It’s just me now. I attend church and have friends there, but somehow don’t feel right accepting their invitations into their homes for Christmas dinner.

Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?


I miss watching the faces of those who I gave gifts to—miss seeing their wide-eyed look of joy. I very much would like to share my Christmas again with someone, perhaps someone who needs to as much as I do. Meanwhile, I trust in God. He will provide.


Love is the Key by April Strauch

Favorite character:  Miss Ava


Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are:
She is an 88 year old woman who lives in a nursing home, Hampton’s Home for the Elderly. She’s a widow and mother to her grown son, Franklin.
Questions for your character:


     Tell us about your favorite Christmas. Why was it your favorite?

My favorite Christmas was the year I became engaged to Richard. He came to my parent’s house while I was still sleeping. Unbeknownst  to me, he was hiding under the tree in his classic black and red flannel shirt. (Laughs) With a red bow tied around himself. (Coughs) He’s always been my best gift. (Wipes a tear.)

      Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?

Drinking a cup of hot cider and reading the Christmas story by candlelight. Some of my best memories are when Frankie was little and he’d sit on my knee. Then, after he was grown and moved away, Richard and I carried on the tradition by sitting by the Christmas tree and reading aloud together….

Do you have a favorite tradition you'd like to share?
Leave a comment this week for a chance to win a paperback
copy of Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short
Stories. (Entrants outside the U.S. eligible for ebook copy.) 



Friday, November 14, 2014

Interview with Dawn Crandall - Writing Gilded Age Romance

Dawn Crandall didn't begin writing until her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming traditionally published, he encouraged her to quit her job in 2010 in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn's first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW's prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.


Thank you for joining me on my blog today, Dawn. Please tell us about your latest book:

One accidental kiss. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt's world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn't have the time or the desire to fall for her friend Lawry Hampton. However, with Vance out of the country and Lawry constantly at her side, Meredyth can’t help but wonder if what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from their unfortunate past.

When Vance comes home to stake his claim on Meredyth, will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves? Or will she find the strength to accept that God’s plan for her life could include redemption... and quite possibly the love of her best-friend?

What led you to write this story?

When I was in the middle of writing my first book in 2010 I kind of got to the point that I didn’t know how to get to the end. Nanowrimo (national novel writing month, every November) came up, and I decided I needed to get into someone else's head for a change. So I took Meredyth's character from The Hesitant Heiress and started figuring out what exactly was going on between her and Lawry (and Vance)—as evidenced in how they were behaving towards one another in THH. I also wanted to prove to myself that I could write another character from first person POV and have her not sound like Amaryllis Brigham in book one. By the following November I had an agent and my first book finished—so that’s when I dug out my 50,000 words from my 2010 Nanowrimo jaunt and started forming it into the novel The Bound Heart is now.

How do you schedule or find time for your writing? What does your average day look like?

Now that I have a baby, I write whenever I have the chance—which doesn’t seem that often compared to how I used to be able to write all day long! My average day is very baby-focused.

As a Christian author, what do you feel is the best way to weave God’s truth into your story?

With writing the character arc of my heroine, I also include a very strong spiritual journey arc as well. The main reasons anyone (my characters included) do anything is influenced by their personality, their past experiences and how they view God and His love for them. I love figuring this out for my characters. 

What is your favorite book of the Bible? Would you care to share why?

Romans is my favorite book—although it is incredibly deep and theological, I took a class on the entire book in college from a most amazing Bible scholar, and ever since then, it has been my favorite.

How has the Lord led you to become a writer? (What is your writing testimony?)

Ever since I was in 4th grade, the idea of writing a book has appealed to me. I remember my teacher had us choose some contact paper for the "cover" and then bound papers together for us—I thought that was so cool!! And I couldn't wait to fill it with a story!! Don't ask me what I ever wrote in that little book, but I do know that from then on my favorite time in school was when we were supposed to write something. :) I never thought of "being a writer" until I was in high school and (finally!) came across the kinds of books that thrilled me to read—Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott... and then later in college, books by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters.


I'd made up some stories for my friends at the time and wrote out synopsis-like drafts, but nothing beyond that. At that time it was still just a dream of mine that I didn't know when I'd ever get around to actually being serious about. It wasn't until I married my husband in my late twenties and he found out the hidden secret of my heart... and believed in me 110% more than I'd ever believed in myself. He eventually had me quit working to focus on writing, and in 2010 I began writing The Hesitant Heiress (Book 1 of The Everstone Chronicles). It was pretty clear to me that I was on the right track when I had two offers of agent representation after attending my first ACFW conference in 2011 and then continued to either semi-final or final in the Genesis Contest with all three of my manuscripts in 2012 and 2013.  

Thank you for sharing about your writing journey with us, Dawn! 
Also find Dawn at: Facebook, her book review page, Pinterest, and Twitter.




Leave a comment for a chance to win an ebook copy of Dawn Crandall's latest novel, Book Two in The Everstone Chronicles, The Bound Heart.



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Two Favorite Characters from Christmas Treasures

From Imagebase.net 
Time for some pre-holiday Christmas fun! Two of my co-authors of the Christmas Treasures: A Collection of Christmas Short Stories, Anne Garboczi Evans and Karla Akins, are introducing to us their favorite
characters in their short stories, and I had the privilege of interviewing Raquel and Santa this week. 

"I Hate Christmas" by Anne Garboczi Evans

Favorite character: Raquel

Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are: Raquel is a 20-something romantic with a sense of humor. She has a way of getting herself into mishaps, but ends up landing on her feet all the same.
Anne with husband, Gabe, and son, Joe-joe.

Tell us about your favorite Christmas, Raquel. Why was it your favorite?

Favorite Christmas? No way! I hate Christmas! 

That sounds wonderful! Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?

My favorite Christmas tradition? Seriously? What's to like about ten pounds of weight gain and hundreds of dollars wasted on presents?

"Banking on Christmas" by Karla Akins

Favorite character:  Santa

Please introduce us to your character with a little description of who they are:

Santa comes to the bank on Christmas Eve.



       Tell us about your favorite Christmas, Santa. Why was it your favorite?

I think my favorite one was in 2009—it was the one where my wife and I were robbed.

Santa got robbed? That's awful!

       Do you have a Christmas tradition you look forward to every year?
       
       Oh definitely. But I can’t tell you what it is or it would give the story away.  Mainly, I like being with my wife doing what we do together. There’s nothing more fun than spending Christmas with your best friend, is there? I will say that her Macadamia nut cookies are fantastic. She makes them for me every year but only on Christmas Eve. I have to wait 364 days a year to enjoy them. They’re worth the wait!
Karla Akins 




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

F is for Fudge, Flylady and Friends - A to Z Meme

Fudge, Flylady and Friends

Mom is taking over the column this week. I do not like fudge, don’t know who Flylady is and my only friends are the ones that haven’t invaded my territory, like Toby the monkey, Sissy and Jakearoo, who are dogs; Spook and Janelle, who are cats, along with my Minnesota cousins, the Galoot, Tasha and Harley (in his pink non-motorized power basket). I think she came up with this column to get back at me for trying to exfoliate her forehead at four in the morning with my tongue. You try to give your people love and that's the
thanks you get!

All right, Mom, your turn!

Now that Lily has handily high-jacked my introduction, you may ask what fudge, FlyLady and friends have to do with each other?

My answer: The holidays!

Fudge:
One of my favorite and easiest recipes for a treat during the holidays—Thanksgiving through St. Valentine’s Day, is fudge made with sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, and vanilla. The original recipe is delicious on its own, but variations are only limited by your imagination! You can add chopped nuts, candied cherries, mint flavoring and crushed peppermint, the list goes on . . . While we sometimes think that easy recipes are cheating, there are times when we need to make a tasty treat quickly. This recipe fills that need.

You can find the recipe here.



While it would be hard to make low carb fudge, there is a healthier homemade Paleo dark chocolate made with raw cacao, honey and coconut oil at Delighted Momma's web site. Paleo chocolate has to be refrigerated, but it has a deliciously different taste.

FlyLady:

Marla Cilley, aka the FlyLady, has been an inspiration to me. While I don’t always follow all of her methods, she has helped set me back on the right track several times.

Flylady.net provides emails you can sign up for, which help you develop habits to clean and organize your home, one step at a time. You start by cleaning your kitchen sink! If you’re feeling the stress of upcoming holidays encroaching upon your life, check out some of FlyLady’s strategies for almost painlessly setting goals, getting back on track and preparing for the holidays ahead of time. She not only has a shop, with helpful books and products offered, but some free online resources too, such
as a downloadable holiday planning guide.

Friends:

Thanksgiving was instituted, so that we would take a day to remember how God has provided for us. Christmas is a day when we remember the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, sent to save us from our sins. These are days in which we rejoice and what better way to enjoy these times than with family and friends?


I find it so easy to run and do all the things I think are important at the moment, without purposely planning quality time with friends and family. They often get the exhausted, crabby Kathy, who has pasted a smile on her face after staying up way too late, fueled by caffeine and sugar. I’m praying that I can do things differently this year and plan more time of reflection on what God has done for me. it would also be nice to have time to truly relax with family and friends. How about you? Since we’ll have our homes ready for visitors due to Flylady’s help, and some easy fudge made, perhaps we’ll find time to invite our friends over to enjoy this precious time!

Ideas for fun things to do with friends over the holidays:

Have a Christmas cookie exchange with a few other families.


Have a Thanksgiving/Christmas book exchange. Share some of your old favorites and gain new ones.

Have another family over for coffee and dessert (even store bought dessert).

Even easier—meet friends for pumpkin spice lattes or peppermint mochas at your local mom and pop cafĂ©.

Babysit each other’s children during Christmas shopping. End the day with cookies and hot chocolate together.

These are just a few ideas. What about you—what do you like to do with family and friends during the holidays? Do you have any ideas for holiday organization? Or easy recipes to recommend? 

We love your comments!