Monday, July 30, 2012

The Last Times


Monday Musings on This ‘N That

I read an article in Reader’s Digest several years ago titled “The Last Times.” Pretty catchy title and it hooked me to read the article. In summary, the article was about doing things for the last time without knowing it would be the last time.

Reading about the last times one might think it would be a morbid article, like someone was going to die after they did something “for the last time.” No, the article was not that at all. Not morbid, but super sentimental. Brought a tear or two.


You didn’t know when you taught your child to tie his shoestrings that was the last time your child needed your help to tie his shoes. You didn’t know it would be the last time you’d do that.


As your child grows you do many, many things to help him learn necessary skills. When we put training wheels on the child’s bicycle, he takes off on the driveway, you walking along beside. Then one day he didn’t need you or the training wheels. You had helped your child the last time to learn to ride his bike.


When you little girl learns to swim, that skill is not programmed into her. She needs help. That’s where we parents come in. We show her how to swim—by example or by holding her afloat in the water as she moves her arms and legs. Then one day she simply gets into the water and swims. The last time we helped her in the water was literally the last time in our teaching her how to swim.

We could go on and on with examples from our years of raising our children. But we do those last time things in all areas of our lives—fun times, young times, old times, family times, friend times, and work times. We never take the time to realize that when we do things it just might be the last time.

When I think on this article, it helps me to appreciate my life and all that is in it. 


“Look at everything as though you were
seeing it either for the first or last time.
–Betty Smith, 1896-1972,
American author of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.


Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Know Who You Are


Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing


Our guest blogger today is Tiffany Colter, a writer, speaker, and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. Welcome, Tiffany and thank you for sharing your vast knowledge with us. You may subscribe to Tiffany's own blog posts here. She can be reached through her website here.


Do you know who you are? As fiction writers we live in a world of our own imaginations so much that sometimes it is easy to get lost in that world we create. Add to that the fact that as writers we MUST wear multiple hats in order to write, edit, pitch and sell our books.

And then there is our personal life. Writing is one of those careers like firefighting, nursing, or teaching. They are jobs that go beyond a paycheck; they become part of our identity.

That is why I ask again, do you know who you are?

Before I began to sell books I had to get comfortable in my identity outside of writing. Outside of mothering. Outside of being a wife.

I had to find out who Tiff was.

Now, this isn’t some feel good kind of thing. I really had to recognize the value I had as a person even without ever contributing. That is because I have a tendency to want to please people. I want to help everyone. I want to make all people happy. That is exhausting.

Writing is a very long process. There are the years of learning craft. Then writing the actual book. Revising. Realizing that book will never sell, and starting the next one.

All with the hope that someone will like it.

Then come mean spirited reviews.

The marketing.

Book signings.

Sophomore Slump.

But this isn’t all bad because I come back to the title of this blog, KNOW WHO YOU ARE!

If you can first find out who you are in Christ. Find out who you are as a real person. Recognize that you have value outside of anything you’ll ever do, then the process becomes a fun adventure. It will become the excited anticipation of a roller coaster ride instead of the dreaded ticking of a clock in a hospital waiting room.

The writing process can all be fun. Challenging. Exploring. Growth.

Or it can be grueling. Agonizing. Long-suffering.

When your self-esteem is tied to the end result we long to get to the end. We feel like we’ve done nothing until we’ve finished and been accepted or approved of. When your self-esteem is tied to who you are in Christ we can enjoy the journey.

Christ heard, “This is my Beloved Son,” when he walked out of the baptismal water…before he’d begun his ministry.

The disciples heard, “This is my son in whom I’m well pleased” on the mount of transfiguration, before he’d fulfilled his purpose on the cross.

God loved His son for who He was, not what He did.

Who are you?

This week on my own blog I talked about my 9 year old daughter and her dream. I talked about how people will join you in your dream when they see your passion. I hope you’ll go over here and read the blog “What does Editing have to do with Space Camp?” 


Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Olympic Spirit or Political Gain?


Monday Musings on This ‘N That























Olympic USA Team uniforms are raising a lot of debate and a lot of eyebrows. The USA Team uniforms for the Olympic opening ceremony were designed by Ralph Lauren but inside the clothing a label reads “Made in China.” Made in China? Hmmmm.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) responded unfavorably to this discovery. “They should take all the outfits, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over,” Mr. Reid said, apparently angry that Ralph Lauren had chosen not to throw the business at the U.S.’s struggling textile industry. “If they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says USA on it, painted by hand, that’s what they should wear.”

China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency retaliated by condemning the “narrow nationalism and ignorance” displayed by U.S. politicians who oppose the Chinese-made uniforms. That agency cited the importance of “the Olympic Spirit, which has nothing to do with politics” but is instead about “mutual understanding and fair play.”
One issue is, of course, money. Other countries receive government funding. The USA Olympic Committee does not receive government funding, but relies on private contributions and corporate sponsorships. The expense of producing the uniforms in the U.S. would likely have doubled their cost.
Another issue is this discussion is politics. U.S. unemployment is an issue for American politicians in this election year. Both Republicans and Democrats readily point fingers at China as the bad guy in the disappearance of American factory workers.
Last week, Ralph Lauren bowed to the pressure, releasing a statement promising that all future Team USA uniforms will be made in the U.S.
Were Mr. Reid and other critics correct to demand that patriotism trump cost considerations? Or are they guilty of trampling on the Olympic spirit for political gain?
What do you think?... Burn them or wear them?


The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of A Promise for Miriam by Vannetta Chapman is Kay. I'll email you to get your mailing address and get the book out to you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Win a Book!


Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, July 22, 2012 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book I review below. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. (You can read details about my book giveaways here.)    


A Promise for Miriam by Vannetta Chapman



Vannetta Chapman has published more than 100 articles in Christian family magazines. Her current novel, A Promise for Miriam, lands a spot  in Christian Retailing's Top 10 Fiction best-sellers list. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather's birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. Vannetta is a multi-award-winning member of Romance Writers of America. She was a teacher for 15 years and currently resides in the Texas Hill Country.

From the book’s back cover:

When she thought her future would never know love…she saw him. When he thought his future would forever be empty…he saw her.

Amish schoolteacher Miriam King loves her students. At twenty-six, most women has age are married with children of their own, but she hasn’t met anyone who can persuade her to give up the Plain school that sits along the banks of Pebble Creek. Then newcomer Gabriel Miller steps into her life, bringing his daughter, an air of mystery, and challenges Miriam has never faced before.

At first Gabe just wants to be left alone with a past that haunts him, but the loving and warm Wisconsin community he and his daughter have moved to has other plans for him. After a near tragedy, he hesitantly returns offers of help and friendship and discovers he can make a difference to the people of Pebble Creek—and maybe to the Amish schoolteacher.

From Jo:
A widower, Gabriel Miller, and his daughter Grace move in next door to Amish schoolteacher Miriam King. When she goes bearing food to welcome them she finds him as a man who wants to be left alone. Gabriel has a past he doesn’t want to talk about and is astonished at the community turning out to help him restore his barn and house. Can he trust his secret and his heart to love again? A well written book that will pull you into reading one more chapter … and another chapter. A well told story of the Amish. Memorable characters.



Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, July 22, 2012 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of A Promise for Miriam by Vanetta Chapman. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address.


Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Any Good Movies Around?


Monday Musings on This ‘N That

Sites probably abound that review movies, good and bad ones. After so long I have to walk away from my computer, stretch my legs, and turn to something that doesn’t require my brain to work. E.g., the TV.  Infrequently does a movie catch and keep my attention. (What’s described below is adapted from a true happening.)

As I scanned the TV stations recently I found a beach scene from a movie. You know how I love the beach and I stayed on that channel to check it out. The scene was quiet, peaceful. A lone man cast his fishing line out into the ocean, secured his pole and sat in a folding chair. Then he did what I love to do at the beach—look around and take it all in.

When he looked to his left he spotted something at the water line and went to see what it was. He discovered a dolphin with rope around his nose, also much more rope around his tail, and a wire cage attached to the end of the rope. No doubt the dolphin had encountered a fishing boat’s trap in the sea. It was obvious the dolphin had lost his fight in trying to free himself and now he was beached.


A rescue truck responded to the fisherman’s phone call, took the injured dolphin to a clinic where he would get care. Long story short, they had to amputate the dolphin’s tail where the rope had been. After the amputation, the dolphin survived but no longer had a flat, horizontal tail that he moved up and down to propel himself in the water. All he could do with the stump of his tail was move it back and forth, not up and down.

The young boy in the movie had a cousin who had lost a leg in the military. After the boy saw the veteran fitted with a prosthetic limb he rushed to the clinic and suggested the same for the dolphin. The first and second time a device was tried on the dolphin he thrashed around, breaking the artificial tail. The clinic had no more money for this project and was going to put the dolphin down.

The same young boy, with adult help, set about to spread the word about the need for the dolphin. They had a fair with a swimming champion race, booths, and took donations to help the dolphin research. I’ll leave your imagination to come up with the end of the movie.


The title of the movie is Dolphin Tale (2011) starring Morgan Freeman, Harry Connick, Jr., and Ashley Judd. It is definitely a family movie. I loved this statement the young boy said: “Family is forever.” Wow. I got goose bumps and shed a tear or two during the movie.

This blog is not for movie reviews, but couldn’t resist telling you about this one. I highly recommend it.


The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of Nothing to Hide by J. Mark Bertrand is karenk. I'll email you to get your mailing address and get the book out to you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.


Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Win a Book!

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing


When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, July 15, 2012 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book I review below. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where  prohibited. (You can read details about my book giveaways here.)


Nothing To Hide, a Roland March Mystery by J. Mark Bertrand

J. Mark Bertrand is the author of the crime novels BACK ON MURDER (2010), PATTERN OF WOUNDS (2011) and NOTHING TO HIDE (2012), featuring Houston homicide detective Roland March. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston and lives with his wife Laurie in South Dakota.







From the book's back cover:
A grisly homicide. An international threat. The stakes have never been higher for Roland March.

The victim's head is missing, but what intrigues Detective Roland March is the hand. The pointing finger must be a clue--but to what? According to the FBI, the dead man was an undercover asset tracking the flow of illegal arms to the Mexican cartels. To protect the operation, they want March to play along with the cover story. With a little digging, though, he discovers the Feds are lying. And they're not the only ones.

In an upside-down world of paranoia and conspiracy. March finds himself dogged by injury and haunted by a tragic failure. Forced to take justice into his own hands, his twisting investigation leads him into the very heart of darkness, leaving March with nothing to lose--and nothing to hide.


From Jo:
Detective Roland March follows his hunches even in the face of probably losing his job. Twists and turns dominate as March follows lead after lead. Until he realizes he can trust no one. When he takes things into his own hands he finds himself so deep into the chain of command of the villains he can’t turn back. His plan will either make him the hero or the dumbest cop in town. Memorable characters, great mystery plot and descriptions, a fast-paced page-turner.



Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, July 15, 2012 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Nothing to Hide by J. Mark Bertrand. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address.


Till next time ... keep on smiling.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Ever Discouraged?

Are you ever discouraged? Disappointed? Tempted to ask, "Why me?". I can hear you answering in the affirmative--yes! Do you ever complain about things that happen to you? Again, I hear you--yes! It's difficult to work through things in our lives when it appears those around us are having it much easier. I say appears because we can never truly know about others' lives unless we've "walked in their shoes."


"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."--Plato

I'd like to give you some inspiration to help you get out of the discouraged and disappointed dump you may find yourself in. I'm subscribed to several blogs by writers I've never met but whose books I've read or whose blog subjects are important to me. Sometimes I get behind in my reading and finally I have to skim over the subject line of the blogs and decide which ones I really want to spend time reading.

Janet Perez Eckles
Finally, I decided I needed to unsubscribe to some of the things coming into my email inbox and stay with my favorites. I opened a blog post by Janet Perez Eckles and scrolled toward the bottom to find the unsubscribe button. Half way down the page a headline about a book review caught my attention. Writers love reviews of their books unless it's a bad one. A reviewer of one of my books wrote that, "All in all, I think this book has helped make me a better person." Eckles was sharing a review her latest book had received. The review had the word, "caution," in it. Okay, caution? Was it a bad review? I had to read it. I quote the review here:

"Caution: at first glance, the title of this book appears misleading. Simply Salsa sounds like the author, Janet Perez Eckles, is sharing tips and recipes for hosting a Cinco de Mayo party. Then you move on to the subtitle; Dancing and God's Fiesta take these hints to a cosmic level. But wait a minute; what about the phrase, without Fear? That changes the tone completely. So you go back and read the title in its entirety. "Simply Salsa: Dancing without Fear at God's Fiesta." By now, you're intrigued and maybe a little defensive. She's never faced what I've faced, you think, yet she's encouraging people to dance without fear? Really? What have you [Janet] faced?

"A challenging childhood? Janet Perez Eckles was born in Bolivia and immigrated to the United States when she was a young child. Without knowing a person in this country and not one word of English, her family had to begin again with nothing.

"Financial? The company her husband worked for went under, leaving him and two other men financially responsible for hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

"Physical challenges? At 31, Eckles went blind.

"Relational problems? Shortly after going blind, her husband announced he wanted to leave her for another woman.

"Tragedies? When her son was 19 years old, he was murdered and the man who killed him would later be acquitted.

"Any one of these would be a mountainous burden to bear; but all of them? Now, maybe you're facing other situations, but it's obvious that Janet Perez Eckles is in a position to speak on overcoming life's challenges?...The author encourages women not to stay in the trap of their own circumstances; but grasp the hand of God, stand up, let go of the past and learn not only to live, but to live joyfully."

I did not unsubscribe to Janet's blog.

Since I read the above review and then been tempted to complain, if only to myself, about anything, I remember Janet Perez Eckles. In the scheme of all things, what do I have to complain about? What about you?

"Be hospitable to one another without complaint." --1 Peter 4:9 (NAS)

You can meet Janet at her website here. While there you can subscribe for her free newsletter and her free blog.




The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of Proof by Jordyn Redwood is lorlyn. I'll email you to get your mailing address and get the book out to you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.


Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Win a Book!

When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. Sunday, July 8, 2012 you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of the book I review below. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. (You can read further details about my book giveaways here.)




Proof by Jordyn Redwood


Jordyn Redwood has specialized in critical care and emergency nursing for nearly two decades.
She is a member of both American Association of Critical Care Nurses and the American Christian Fiction Writers association. This is her first novel.













From the book's back cover:
After DNA evidence clears a suspected serial rapist of grisly crimes, ER physician Dr.  Lilly Reeves takes matters into her own hands. Police detectives think she's a danger to the case, and her colleagues worry that her obsession will be detrimental to her health. But Lilly can't stop, even if it means digging into a dark mystery that science cannot comprehend. Alone and on the run, Lilly wonders: is there any proof that will bring a monster to justice?


Acclaimed as a "rollercoaster of a story," Proof debuts the twists and turns that make the Bloodline Trilogy an undeniable adventure for all fiction fans.


From Jo:
If you enjoy fast-paced suspense, Proof by Jordyn Redwood is a must-read. This amazing debut novel reads as if written by a seasoned author who has already published twenty novels. Redwood gives the reader believable and memorable characters, settings you feel you're there in the moment, and a strong plot that moves the entire novel. Proof is a powerful novel that you will not soon forget.




Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday July 8, 2012 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Proof. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address  so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fireworks and Wedding Cakes

The Fourth of July is upon us this week. I love fireworks, marching bands, and American flags. I hope I can watch the Washington DC July 4th TV show this year.


Every American citizen knows the significance of July 4th but for those reading who do not live in America here is an explanation of the day: "Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games,family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Independence_Day_United_States






That's my kind of celebration day. I do hope this tent of heat that smothers the South will be gone or at least lessened by Wednesday. I remember several years ago I went to our city's fireworks display. I wanted to be close to see everything well. I parked on the street that runs alongside the high school football stadium where the display would take place. Well, I was close enough. A slight breeze carried debris of cinders from the fireworks exploding overhead and several landed on the hood of my car. I went again after that but didn't park as near.


Oh...and I have another day this week to celebrate: my wedding anniversary. At least they're not on the same day.




Till next time ... keep on smiling.