Monday, May 26, 2014

Traditions

by Guest Author Mary Manners

Mary Manners_72

How wonderful it must be to speak the language of the angels, with no words for hate and a million words for love! ~Quoted in The Angels' Little Instruction Book by Eileen Elias Freeman, 1994

 Traditions are the vines that connect family memories and lives. The older I get, the more I reflect on the traditions of my childhood, joyfully instilled with the love of my parents. I’m not talking so much about the big events but more about those little things that lay nestled in my heart like bountiful spoonfuls of warm chicken noodle soup.

For example, on each of my birthdays Mom always spent the better part of the morning elbow-deep in sifted flour and eggs as she lovingly prepared a double-chocolate cake layered with vanilla pudding and chocolate chips, drizzled in dark fudge frosting—a virtual and delectable chocolate overload. And Dad, well…at the heart of every summer this hard-working veteran’s ode to the Fourth of July consisted of a walk in the town parade followed by a backyard barbecue. As dusk fell, Dad carefully staked a flare in the lawn of our tiny front yard. Its light shimmered in a waterfall of colorful sparkles that elicited a delighted round of squeals coupled with a flurry of applause from my siblings and me. To a bunch of kids, the resulting fanfare from this single flare was more alluring than the grand finale on the town square.

Warm spring nights were filled with anticipation as I sat on the front steps with a scuffed and tattered baseball clutched in my hands while I waited for Dad to come home from a long day of work. It was his tradition to toss a few pitches to me before heading into the house to greet Mom and then wash up for dinner. Sometimes we got caught up in the moment and those few pitches stretched blissfully past twilight—and the dinner hour. In contrast, on snowy Chicago winter days Dad made it a tradition to help me run my paper route with his beat-up Chevy station wagon. He’d navigate through snow trenches while I bundled the papers and tossed them onto flake-dusted front porches. It was during those excursions that I soaked in Dad’s most valuable kernels of wisdom—words that have remained with me over the decades since I first heard them, “If you’re going to do a job, do it right.”

I’ve carried on some of the traditions of my childhood with my daughter and sons. For example, when Danni turned seven I purchased her first two-wheel bike and spent the afternoon pounding the pavement of our cul-de-sac as I taught her to ride in the same manner my parents employed for each of my siblings and me on our seventh birthdays. Her brothers soon followed. I also prepared sack lunches for school every day, same as my mom did each and every morning for thirteen years. Boloney and cheese with a side of raw veggies remains a favorite at our house, and sometimes I even managed to tuck witty inspirational quotes, scrawled on plain white paper napkins, inside before I closed each bag.

Dollarphotoclub_60222182 Post it on MugMy husband and I have also begun a few of our own family traditions. We love leaving little notes for each other and for our children—taped to the car’s steering wheel, tucked beneath a bed pillow, at a place-setting on the dinner table, slipped with care into a pocket or shoe. The favorite Danni and I share is notes scrawled on a sheet torn from a sticky pad and slapped onto the bathroom mirror. When she started to drive, I began to leave messages for her each morning before I left for work and while she still lay soundly in her bed. “Have a great day. I love you. Be safe.” As the number of messages mounted, she framed the mirror with them. Then one day, as the time for her leave for college approached, I noticed the notes had disappeared. I thought she’d thrown them away while packing, but later wept when I found she’d tucked each one carefully into a shoebox that she carried away with her to campus. Now the messages frame a bulletin board in her dorm room and I pray they remind her daily of the importance…and fun…of traditions.

Traditions…they remain one of the ties that bind my family together and will surely also prove to be a legacy as my children, and now grandchildren as well, carry on many of the nuggets of day-to-day nuances that have over the years blossomed to be special—and cherished—memories.

 

About Mary:

Mary Manners is an award-winning romance writer who lives in the beautiful foothills of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and the cherished cats they've rescued from local animal shelters...Lucky and Gus.

She writes romances of all lengths, from short stories to novels—something for everyone.

Learn more about Mary Manners at her website: www.MaryMannersRomance.com and at her author pages at http://www.pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/ and www.Amazon.com.

 

Freesia & Faith
(Wildflowers & Wishes, Book 2)
Releasing FRIDAY (May 30th)


Freesia_and_Faith_LJPGReese Cutler loves the feel of damp, rich soil and the scent of anything that blooms. A strong faith navigates him through the roughest waters, and nothing makes him happier than watching the family business grow–until Peyton Langley visits the nursery, presenting a partnership venture with her fledgling floral boutique.

Peyton Langley has transplanted from Kentucky to Clover Cove where she's determined to grow her own floral shop. Work keeps her busy, and she has no desire to learn more about God–or ever set foot inside a church, save for the weddings that showcase her impeccable designs.

Until she meets Reese Cutler, and his faith and gentleness steal her heart. At odds over business, Reese and Peyton can't deny an attraction in all other areas–including the desires of their hearts. But will conflicting goals–and Peyton's lack of belief–destroy them, or will faith find a way to knit them together...forever?

 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Pause to Honor

I’ve never been to war. Not the official kind declared by Congress and waged between countries, that is.  But a war has landed in my lap, nonetheless.

In an odd stroke of fortune, a family member’s private treasury of World War II era snapshots came into my possession.  Dozens of photographs, seen by only a handful of people during all these years, show soldiers with artillery, in training fields, at bombing zones, and more.

None of the faces are familiar to me, yet when I browse through the photo collection, as I do from time to time, I hear these soldiers speak.

A1Young men in uniform, called to exhibit a level of courage far greater than their years should allow, tell their tales in tones of black and white, sepia.

Across the decades, they chant, “I am willing.” Willing to cross oceans and foreign terrain to protect my homeland. Willing to defend the freedom I too often take for granted. Willing to risk their lives and limbs--for me, for us.

As I study images of what many call “The Greatest Generation,” the story of war in general takes shape, and details draw me deeper.

A2Tiny hints, like the wedding band this bandaged soldier wears, add layer upon layer to the tale. What about this soldier’s wife, for example? Did she pine for him as she washed laundry and dishes, wishing his items were among the soiled because that would mean, at least, that he was home? Did she keep his portrait on the mantel, her heart wavering between pride and heartbreak each time she passed through the room?

A3Did she pray for him night after endless night as she, resisting fitful sleep, feared her worst nightmares might come true? Did she wait daily upon the front stoop with bated breath for the postman to deliver the latest news that all is well, if life on the battlefield can ever be so?

Did that good news arrive?

Silence washes over me as I sift through these rare snapshots of war’s destruction.

Bombed villages.A4

 

Demolished homes.A6

Crumbling churches.A5

All representing lives shattered, forever changed.

And too many lives cut short.A8

What will I do with these amazing pieces of history? Store them away, as I’ve done since the day I received them? Perhaps. Draw upon the stories they reveal to pen a future novel? I hope.

[caption id="attachment_465" align="alignleft" width="125"] Diana Prusik, Photographer[/caption]

But today, I share a few of them with you in hopes that together, we will be mindful of our service men and women, past and present, and remember that freedom comes with a price too many have paid in full.

This Memorial Day, between lighting our backyard grills, diving into our swimming pools, and slicing our season's first watermelon, let us pause to honor those who have fought and died to protect our little patch of America. Let us answer their unspoken battle cry, “I am willing,” with a heartfelt, “THANK YOU!”

And most of all, let our lives be worthy of their sacrifices so they will not have served and died in vain.

Novel Writing--How Do We Do It????

Many of you have shared your dreams of one day becoming a novelist. Others have shared writinghow they sense God's nudge to begin stepping toward that dream. Still others of you have shared how you've been walking for some time but are hungry to learn more, to see how others do this storytelling thing. Of course, we're all different, and as such, God will lead us each down a different path in this journey to publication. But even so, we can learn from one another, taking what we find helpful, storing away the rest.

caroleWith this in mind, Carole Towriss, Tanya Eavenson, and I have agreed to participate in a writing-revealing blog-hop tour. We were invited by Mary Hamilton who shared her writing process here.

So now, with no further ado (don't I sound Shakespearian? lol) Here are the questions posed to us along with our answers. :)

 1. What are you working on?

Jennifer: Um... A lot. Always. ;) I just turned in my substantive edits for my debut novel, BeyondIDocoverBeyond I Do, (currently available for preorder here at a discounted price). I'm very pleased with how the story has grown, thanks to help from the gracious, encouraging and insightful editors at New Hope Publishers. I'm  waiting for edits for my sophomore novel, When Dawn Breaks, also releasing from New Hope in 2015. I'm conducting research for my next Crosswalk article as well as for a nonfiction proposal and a sequel (#3 in the proposed series) for my debut. As I said, A LOT, which necessitates a fair amount of prayer asking for God's wisdom on what to work on when and for clarity and guidance as I write. And for a healthy dose of self-control to stay off Facebook! ;)

Carole: I am plotting out a book about one of the first judges. I just finished my third, and I’ll be looking for a home for it soon.

bythewatersofkadesh(As a fun aside, Carole's sophomore novel, By the Waters of Kadesh, is currently available for free! Get it here! It's a great book. One of the better ones I--Jennifer--have read this year!)

Tanya: I’m currently working on the first novel in my "All Roads Lead to Texas" series. It’s called The Rescue and it features a Boston woman, Rosalind, who is betrothed to an abusive man she doesn’t love when Trent, her childhood sweetheart returns. Although he is no longer a boy, he is the same person she remembered … almost. Never would she have thought to be in love with a cowboy from Texas.

2. How do your novels different from others in the same genre?

Jennifer: Often romance novels are equated with brain candy or fluff reading. Not that there's anything wrong with stories written purely for entertainment purposes, but I've never been a "fluff" kind of writer. My passion is to see readers grow in freedom as they surrender fully to their Creator and grab hold of His perfect plan for them. Therefore, my novels always have a strong missional slant--a call to the characters which in turn, I hope, translates as a call to my readers, because I believe true and lasting joy comes from resting firmly in the palms of our Savior's hands.

Carole: Unlike some other Biblical fiction authors, I don’t like to write about the big names—David, Esther, Abraham. I like to write about little-known characters in the well-known stories.

Tanya: One of the differences is that I write for two different genres, Contemporary and Tanya CoverHistorical Romance. I find when I write both genres, it quenches my thirst for creating stories that deal with issues that pull at the reader’s heart. Since I’m dealing with issues such as infidelity, loss of a child, physical and emotional abuse, PTSD, depression, or cancer, I walk a fine line. My stories give readers hope and an assurance that the Lord is near at all times and He is working behinds the scenes to give them a hope and a future like my characters. Also, I love romance and cowboys, so except for Unconditional, my novels include cowboys in the military or in the Wild West.

3) Why do you write what you do?

Jennifer: Because God is awesome, and I believe His power is most awesomely displayed in lives transformed. :) Also, because I was--and at times, still am--a mess before I surrendered my life to Christ. I remember the pain, fear, deep, deep loneliness that comes from living life outside of His will, and I've experienced the intense, healing freedom that comes from surrender. I long to see others experience this. So I guess you could say, it's personal. It's also what I was created to do. :)

Carole: Because I have to! Because it’s fun!

Tanya: For me it’s simple. I write so people may know the unstoppable love of God, and the length He will go to offer grace and mercy to all of us. Regardless of how unworthy we feel about ourselves, what we’ve gone through in this life, or what we’ve done, nothing can separate us from the love of God.

4) How does your writing process work?

Jennifer: I'm a visual person, so often, a story will begin with a visual, sort of like a movie clip. A scene will run through my brain. Sometimes many scenes, and often, one character will rise to the forefront of my mind. Soon, others will join her, and a beautiful story of grace and redemption will unfold. As the images grow more vivid and the characters more real to me, an almost uncontrollable urge wells within me. This urge can only be satisfied by one thing: writing!

Carole: The basic story is in the Bible, but the characters are usually mentioned only a few times, so I get to create a whole life for them. The big names are secondary characters. My books take a lot of research, and I usually write and research at the same time.

Tanya: First, I set a word count goal for the week. As a writer, I heard time and time again that I needed to write every day to be successful. I used to beat myself up when I couldn’t meet that goal. It took two years fighting with this idea when I finally gave up. I decided to do something different, I set a word count goal each week, and it’s worked. Some weeks I write 2,000 words and others 5,000 depending on

Thanks, Mary Hamilton, for the invite, and thanks to you all for giving us an opportunity to share one of our greatest passions with you.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What Do Disciples, Writers, and Faith Have In Common?

Before I tell you, I want to announce the winner of our May gift basket! Mary E. Hanks, congrats! You won all the books listed on our May Gift Basket page. Jennifer Slattery will be contacting you soon to chat about how best to get your books to you.


Now, back to the question in this post's title: What do disciples, writers, and faith have in common?


Let me give you a hint with the word, “disciple.” Jesus called twelve men to follow Him. It was a call for them to be trained and to learn. As writers, we are much like these men with different backgrounds, temperaments, occupations, special gifts and talents. With those talents, we are continually learning the craft and the trade of the business. We submit to publishers and agents, enter contests, and attend conferences. All of these are important but we miss something of greater importance if our only focus is that all illusive contract. The disciples also looked toward the future, not their present time of training when they asked Jesus, who would be the greatest.


One of the places Jesus taught them was at the Sea of Galilee. This is where Jesus called four of his followers, where the raging storm brought fear to the disciples while Jesus slept in the boat, and where Peter walked on water. All of these occurrences displayed Jesus’s glory, power, and His provision. But it also showed His concern for them and a desire for His disciples to trust when they felt overwhelmed.

[caption id="attachment_417" align="alignright" width="221"]Sea Of Galilee Sea Of Galilee[/caption]

Matthew 14:25-32 says, “25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.

26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.

27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” 29 “Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”

32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

How many times have we as writers been discouraged, passed over for a book contract, received a rejection letter or fought writer’s block? What did we do?

Peter gives us a great example of what we should do. His faith inspires us to step out of our comfort zone and meet Jesus. But we can all relate to what happened next. Peter turned his attention to the storm. In a similar way, we take our eyes off Jesus. We begin to look at our inadequacies, our past, or an approaching storm, and if we focus too long on the waves, they will surely topple us over. When that happens, we miss Jesus’ teaching to take courage, to remember He is with us, to stop doubting and have faith.

Everyone who is a disciple will find themselves in training. If we allow God to have His way in our lives—through our experiences and the things we learn—He will use us to touch others in ways unique to us. But that kind of life is a journey, following the Author who fulfills His purpose in us, so whatever we do, in word or deed, He will be glorified.

 




DSC_0904Tanya Eavenson enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers International, and writes for Christ to the World Ministries.

http://www.tanyaeavenson.com 


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He will fight for her at any cost... Tanya Cover


Elizabeth Roberts can't remember her past, and the present is too painful. She turns to nightclubs and drinking to forget her infant daughter's death, her husband's affair. When his wife's coma wiped out the memory of their marriage, Chris Roberts found comfort elsewhere. He can't erase his betrayal, but with God's help he’s determined to fight for Elizabeth at any cost.

She wants to forget. He wants to save his marriage. Can they trust God with their future and find a love that’s unconditional?

 

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Dream: Letting Go by Eileen Rife

Hannah3A few months before my oldest daughter, Rachel, left for India as a single missionary gal in 2004, I had a dream. My little red-headed toddler was running across the lawn straight for the busy road. Cars were zooming this way and that. I ran after her, arms stretched out, reaching, grabbing desperately, but as is often the case in a dream, I could never quite get to her. At last, she plunged into the street. I knew for sure my precious baby would be hit and killed, but when the traffic cleared, I saw a lovely Indian woman clad in colorful sari on the other side of the road, stooping and holding my little Rachel. She was safe.

As God would have it, there have been many Indian "mamas" over the last few years who have taken Rachel under their wings. In addition, the Lord provided my girl with a godly husband only two months after arriving in India. Nathan, a third generation missionary kid who had returned to the States, sensed God leading him back to India to serve. While there, he met Rachel and they were married in June, 2005. Their love story inspired Book One, Journey to Judah, in my Born for India trilogy.Christmas 092

Through this account, God has affirmed Psalm 84:11 in my heart: "The Lord God is a sun and a shield; the Lord God gives grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly."

Yet often, it is a daily challenge to embrace those words and live by them. One moment at a time, that's all He asks as the journey continues . . .

What are you struggling to let go of right now? A child? A dream? Share with our readers so that we can all be encouraged to trust God, one step, one day at a time with our cherished children, hopes, and dreams.
~~
EileenRifeEileen Rife is the author of the Born for India trilogy inspired by her oldest daughter’s missionary call to India. She and her husband, Chuck, conduct marriage seminars in the states and overseas. One of Eileen's chief delights is encouraging women to discover who they are in Christ and what part they play in His amazing story! www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com, www.amazon.com/author/eileenrife


One woman. One God. One passion. In a exotic culture of 7.5 million people and over 3 million gods, one woman's resolve to make the journey results in an amazing story of the Lord's protection and provision. Could love await her, even in India?




[caption id="attachment_401" align="aligncenter" width="158"]The novel that launched my fiction writing career. Based on my daughter's passion for India. The novel that launched my fiction writing career. Based on my daughter's passion for India.[/caption]