Saturday, October 31, 2009

Field Trip

One of the highlights of our year is going to

Fort Massac's Encampment
every October. Encampment is a reenactment of the French and Indian War days here in Southern Illinois and the reenactors do a fabulous job.

They rebuilt the fort a few years back so we have a replica of how it looked back in 1802. Lewis and Clark stopped at Ft. Massac on their way West since it's right on the banks of the Ohio River.

This is our seventh year going and we still enjoy it. It's not every day you see 17th Century up close and personal like that.








The vendors and tradesmen dress in period clothing and many of them demonstrate how goods were made and they love telling you about what they're doing and how life was in the 1700's.



The reenactors set up camps that they live in over the weekend. Each army has its own camp and it's interesting to walk through them. I'm always amazed at how difficult life must have been for them. We have things soooo good now!


The big event each day is the battle. Since the camps are on the opposite side of the park the armies, and their camp followers parade through the grounds, and if you see them heading toward to battle grounds, you know you're too late to get the 'best seats' along the gorge they use. It makes they perfect battleground because the spectator can sit on the banks of the gorge and see the battle unfold.


Each year it's fun to watch the Indians. They add so much because you never know what they're going to do and when they'll strike. One year the battle started because they kidnapped a girl that was gathering herbs and nuts in the gorge--we still laugh at how those Indians kept her subdued during the battle--it was its own little show.

This year there was something new. One of the reenactors had a small Cricket field roped off and he taught anyone who wanted to learn how to play Cricket like they did during the French and Indian Wars. Two of my boys participated and had fun--this is my middle son batting while my oldest was on the other end of the field and my youngest helped keep score. They really enjoyed it.

But our favorite part of the Encampment is still the music tent. Over the seven years we've been attending we've gotten to know the group called the Peacocks and we love hearing them play. Each year we check for new CDs (there's not been any for a 2-3 years. *rats*) and try to visit with them a little. Our favorite song of theirs is "Whiskey Before Breakfast" which cracks them up because they know us well enough to know we do NOT do whiskey before breakfast or any other time of day! =]

So there you have it--a homeschool field trip with my family to one of our favorite events of the year.

What's one of your favorite events?

Friday, October 30, 2009

From These Ashes

This is a story that is near and dear to my heart because the setting is where I consider home--Ecuador. This is fiction, but things like this happen.
~*~*~*~*~*~


From These Ashes
They're too weak to bear this, Lord. Jared slumped against the mud courtyard wall and looked at the church. Pieces of jagged glass clung to charred window frames, bearing testimony of the destruction within the cinder block walls. Tendrils of smoke curled out from the smoldering heap that was once a pulpit and simple wooden pews.

Jared raised his eyes to the roof of the building. Even the cross Marco made, Lord, it's gone. And the new Bibles and hymnbooks. Oh, Lord, I wish I hadn't brought them over last night. His eyes slid closed as his chin dropped onto his chest.

At the squeal of the gate Jared looked up. Marco stepped in and stood surveying the damage the vandals had done. Looking up at the roof, his eyes narrowed and his jaw set, but he said nothing. He turned and looked around the courtyard at the garbage that had been dumped and strewn around. Shaking his head, he walked back out the gate without looking back.

Jared's head fell back against the wall and his eyes burned from more than just smoke. Lord, Marco is leaving--the man I thought could someday be the pastor here.

Jared heard the gate clanking, but didn't open his eyes. He didn't want to see any one else turn away. After a moment, a scraping noise grated on his ears and he raised his head.

“Marco. What are you doing?” he asked.

Marco leaned on the handle of his shovel. “We have a service here in 30 minutes and I thought it'd be more pleasant if we didn't have to stand amidst the garbage.”

“I don't know that it will make a difference.”

Marco looked down, scraping the sole of his worn shoe on the shovel. Scratching his trimmed, black beard he looked at Jared. “That's just a building, Pastor,” he said. “The people, the true church, will still be here in 30 minutes.”

Will they come, though?

The gate squealed again and a group of women entered, each carrying a broom. Their hushed talk ceased as they stood in the courtyard.

Tears rolled down Carmen's face as she looked at the destruction. “Those men who did this are fighting against God. They think that burning the church will put an end to God pursuing them, but they're wrong. We need to pray even harder for them now.”

Jared rose to his feet, emotion filling his throat as he reached for the extra shovel Marco had brought. Here I was, thinking they weren't strong enough to handle this, Lord, and they're praying for the ones who did it. Forgive me, Father, and help me learn from them. Give me the wisdom to handle this correctly. Please, use this for Your glory.

Garbage quickly gave way to people as they trickled in, each whispering about the men who they suspected of destroying the church. Each week two or three men had been across the street, scoffing as people came and went from church. They were the star players of the towns' soccer team and were influential with the men of the town. Many church people had been praying specifically for their salvation. This morning they were nowhere to be found.

Jared wiped his hands on a rag as he looked around at the group gathered in the courtyard. Father, they're all here. Not one is missing.

Marco stood beside him, grinning. “This is the church, Pastor.”

Jared smiled, struggling to find his voice. “How did you become so wise, my friend?”

“You taught me that, just as you taught me that good can come from these ashes.”

Lord, bring beauty from these ashes...

Jared raised his hands, and in a clear, strong voice he led his flock. “Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow...”

When the last notes faded away Jared raised his voice again. “Jesus asked Peter an important question one time. He asked, 'Who do you say that I am?' and Peter answered, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus' response was, 'and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.'*” Jared turned and reached for his Bible.

Pray for the men who did this, Jared.

Now, Lord?

Now.


Jared turned back to the group without his Bible. “Pray with me. Dear Heavenly Father, I pray for those that did this. Let them see that burning a church will not put an end to You pursuing them. Don't let go of them until they stop fighting against You and completely surrender to You. Open their hearts to Your love and forgiveness. Please, Lord, do not let go of them; draw them to Yourself and make them one of Your beloved children. In the name of Jesus, Your resurrected Son, I pray, amen.”

Hiding in the shadows of the alley, a man who reeked of whiskey, wood smoke and garbage wrapped his arms around himself as his head dropped and his shoulders shook.


* Matthew 16:15-18 (NASB)
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


I'm so excited! This is the first time I've been able to participate in Fiction Friday for months. And the first time I've participated since passing on the baton. I meant to announce to everyone that Fiction Friday is now hosted by Karlene, a wonderful Faithwriters friend I got to meet in August at the conference. Karlene is a doll. Sweet, fun to be with and a servant's heart. I was thrilled when she said she would take over Fiction Friday for us. Thank you, Karlene! I'm so thankful for you!!

For links to more fun fiction stop by this week's host, Stina at With Pen in Hand.

Missions and missionaries are much on my mind these days, especially with Heidi's Candle in the Corner missions spotlights going on. Be sure to stop by and check it out and participate!

You'll also find this story at Journey Ezine, a wonderful mission outreach ezine. Check them out!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sitting Forward

My friend and partner in crime over at Adding Zest is hosting the coolest spotlights these next two weeks. Heidi, of Moms, Ministry and More, is a missionary in Asia and she's spotlighting fellow missionaries in her 'Candle in the Corner' Giveaway. Be sure to stop by her place and say hi and meet these awesome people that are serving God overseas.


~*~*~*~*~*~


I often get to sit in the back of the van when the whole family is going somewhere, like church. The other day I was sitting back there beside my youngest and he was leaning forward, anxious to see all he could. His eyes darted everywhere and he missed very little. In contrast, I was comfortably leaning back in my seat, as relaxed as I could be with a student driver at the wheel, and I just kind of zoned out.

As I watched him, I was struck by how he and I represented Christian living. Sometimes we're leaning forward in anticipation, anxious to see and experience all we can, and other times we're lounging back, oblivious to much of what's going on around us, relaxing and zoning out.

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
so my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God;
when shall I come and appear before God?
~Psalm 42:1-2

It made me stop and think about how I'm sitting before God. Am I leaning forward, anxious to see more of Him, or am I zoning out as I relax? I want that eager anticipation of a child. I want to lean forward and be watchful. I want my soul to thirst for God, for the living God and I want to be eager to enter into His presence.

How about you? How are you sitting in your spiritual life?



Don't forget this week's book giveaway is still going on and there's time to enter the drawing for Jenness Walker's new book, Double Take. Just leave a comment or two on her spotlight posts here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

with Jenness Walker

Patterings


Welcome to Patterings, Jenness!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

I don’t think I ever really had an epiphany. I just always knew I was going to be a novelist. But I was a senior in college before I finally decided to buckle down and see if I could actually finish a book, which is kind of important if you’re going to be a novelist. I don’t know why I picked that particular time—I’d just gotten married, I was finishing up a few classes and doing my student teaching, and I had two cleaning jobs and one office job. Crazy. But I did it. Still don’t know how.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
I think my first book was my favorite. It’s not published yet, but I still have hopes.  Just the fact that it was the book I learned on makes it special. But the plot has some pretty good action, plus some quirky elderly characters, a wounded hero, a heroine who reminds me of my best friend, and a serial killer. Oh, and my favorite car, too. Yeah, it was fun. The hero was probably my favorite, but his name—Jake—created a problem since my husband’s name is Jay. So after writing or brainstorming for a while…Yeah. I did it. I called my husband Jake. More than once. We’re still together, though. :-)

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Major rewrites are very hard for me. Once I finally get up the guts to tackle the job, I make a list of what I’m supposed to change, print out the manuscript and go through it with sticky notes, then go through it on the computer, making the easiest changes first :-)

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
I think I’d have to say Cole was my favorite. I’m apparently a sucker for the wounded hero type.

What is your strangest habit?
I have a lot of strange habits. One is that I can’t throw away plastic bags. It feels wrong. But I always forget to take them to the store so they can be recycled, so I end up with a mass of bags stuffed under my kitchen sink or in the closet. Drives my husband crazy.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Um…yeah. You talking about writing stuff? Like major revisions? Or things in general? Like…cleaning. And actually putting all those photos into albums. And cleaning the car. And making doctors’ appointments… :-)

What would a perfect day for you look like?
Sleep in. Get up and crank the music. Eat a brownie for breakfast. Shower and change into fresh pajamas. Read by the water as the breeze softly blows. Cuddle with a puppy that someone else has to take out. Eat a sandwich. Drink a root beer. Write at my laptop (with the battery actually working) and have the words flow freely and the story come together in ways I hadn’t seen before. Browse a store with fun antiques or unique home d├ęcor. Split dessert at Cheesecake Factory with my sweet husband. Go to sleep with the rain pattering on my roof.

I’m fairly easy to please, I think.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I tend to lean more toward romantic suspense type books, but I do read a bit of about everything: Suspense, romance, chick lit, more literary stuff, mysteries, etc. Charles Martin, Dean Koontz, Susan May Warren, Erynn Mangum, Tosca Lee, Christy Barritt, Jenny B. Jones...The list goes on and on. I’m not into the Amish books, though, or prairie romance.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
These days I crave drinks more than food while I’m writing. A Frosty Float. A Sobe. A root beer (has to be a fountain drink). Maybe a cold Mountain Dew (has to be in a can). Ice tea so sweet it’s nearly syrup.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I seem to keep coming back to the message of God’s grace. We can’t earn it. He just gives it out of His love and mercy. No matter what we’ve done, He’s standing by, offering His forgiveness. His grace truly is amazing.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
God has a plan. It may not be the one I think I want. It may not seem as glamorous as my friends. But it’s the very best one for me.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I don’t have a second contract yet, but I’m just starting to rework my very first novel—the one with Jake and the rest of the gang. :-) I’m getting excited to visit them again. A lot will have to change, though, so I don’t have a one-liner of the plot for you yet. Stay tuned!

You can purchase from your local department store, CBD, and Amazon:


Jenness is giving away a copy of Double Take. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, November 1st, to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once on each post in this spotlight. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is void where prohibited; open only to U.S. addresses, odds of winning depend on number of entrants. No purchase necessary. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar and purchasing I will receive a small percentage of the sale.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

meet Jenness Walker

Patterings





Jenness Walker has always loved a good story. She grew up scouting around her grandparents’ basement to find something to read. Today she doesn’t feel complete without a book nearby. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys hanging out with her husband, playing with her part-time dog, and planning trips to explore small-town America. Check out her website at www.jennesswalker.com.





Double Take

Cole Leighton can barely believe his eyes. A woman on his bus has just been abducted-in an exact reflection of a scene from the bestselling novel he's reading. Someone is bringing the book to life.and isn't above forcing an innocent woman to follow the story to its tragic end. Using the novel as his playbook, Cole catches up with the beautiful victim-but rescuing Kenzie Jacobs doesn't keep her safe for long. The killer is writing his own ending, and none of the twists and turns lead to happily ever after.

Here's an excerpt of Double Take:

If her car hadn't died that morning, Monique might not have, either. But the car died. Monique boarded a bus. And the fight for her life began.

Cole Leighton shifted on the bench and closed Obsession to study the cover. Surely the author hadn't given away the ending already. He'd never read a Warren Flint thriller, but this one caught his attention for some reason. Maybe because of the high praise or the blurb on the back. More likely because of the cover model. He glanced at her one more time: back pressed against a wall, delicate fingers splayed against the concrete block, slim figure silhouetted by a streetlight. But it was her face that held him. The wide eyes, the fear-laced expression partially hidden by dark hair blowing in a slight breeze. She drew him in.

Heels clicked against the sidewalk. A woman advanced toward the bus stop, gesturing with one hand while holding a phone to her ear.

"Mom, I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do about it…" Exaggerated patience sounded in her tone. "Yes, I know this is your last day in town, but my car just gave up the ghost. I'll be there, but I'm running late. Okay?"

So much for some quiet reading time. Cole gazed at the road, watching for the bus as she snapped her phone closed and sat down beside him.

She broke an awkward pause with a polite "How are you?"

He was in the middle of Atlanta. Smelling diesel fumes, fighting crowds and wishing for the hot Texas air. But he nodded and said, "Fine."

Her cell phone rang again. She groaned and silenced the ring. "Ever had one of those days where everything goes wrong?" she asked.

A wry smile tugged at Cole's lips, and he nodded. He finally turned to look her full in the face, then blinked. She looked hauntingly familiar. Where…?

She gave him a small smile.

Sucking in a breath, he tilted his head and studied her. Dark hair fell in shiny waves past her shoulders. A pale face with wide, sad eyes—

Those eyes narrowed. "Something wrong?"

Heat swept his face. Cole shook his head and looked away, down at Obsession's cover again. She could be the model's twin.

Weird.

"Oh, good. Here it comes."

His bench partner pointed to a bus with orange stripes and a turquoise MARTA sign as it rounded the corner. Cole gathered his things and walked to the curb as the bus arrived. But hesitated before following her up the bus steps.

She chose a seat near the front, but, face still burning, Cole strode down the aisle. About halfway back, he dropped into an empty seat beside a James Earl Jones look-alike. His chest abnormally tight, Cole reached for the novel again.

She sat near the front and crossed her legs. One of her shoelaces dangled in the aisle, swinging like a slow pendulum as other passengers walked by. She studied the pedestrians outside the window, the way sunlight played off the apartment windows, the angle of the bus driver's hat, the warm leather of a passenger's jacket. She thought she should take a picture to help her remember this day for the rest of her life, every part of it.

She didn't.

But she would remember anyway.

The bus lurched forward, and Monique braced her hand against the seat in front of her. The gray fabric itched, but she held on, leaning into a curve. When the tree-lined road wound out of the commercial area—

Cole looked up from the page and stared at the gray fabric on the seat in front of him. Maybe he shouldn't be reading this. Not right here, right now, on a bus with the heroine's twin sitting in the second-row aisle seat. It was kind of like watching an in-flight movie with a plane crash somewhere in its plotline.

When Cole didn't settle back into the book, his seatmate took that as a cue to talk. "Beautiful day, ain't it, son? Makes me glad to be alive."

Cole followed the man's gaze to the window as the bus rounded a corner. Rays of sunlight spread through thick tree-cover, dancing over the grass of an undeveloped area.

The hair on the back of his neck prickled.

"Reminds me of home." A soft smile transformed the old man's face. "Back when my wife was alive, we used to—"

The bus swerved off the main road and ground to a halt. Out of the corner of his eye, Cole caught a flash of light— the sun glinting off metal.

This could not be happening.

But it was.

"Put your hands on the seat in front of you," a man's voice grated out. "Everyone! Hands on the seat where I can see them."

Cole spotted a second masked gunman just as a bullet tore through the roof of the bus. Someone screamed.

"I said now!"

"Do it, son." His seatmate sounded calm, but his withered hands trembled as he placed them on the top of the seat.

Cole obeyed, hot anger competing with cold chills.

"This is a holdup," the second man said, walking to the rear of the bus. "We don't want to hurt anyone. We just want your valuables."

Someone whimpered as a bag's contents hit the floor. A cheap pen rolled by, stopping near Cole's feet. He stared at the label and narrowed his eyes.

Why would someone hold up a bus? And why did he feel almost as if he'd known something like this was coming?

It felt like some crazy Western movie gone awry. Kenzie Jacobs gripped the seat in front of her and wished she could disappear. Her life seemed to be a series of bad days. Just when she didn't think things could get any worse…

She winced as the first gunman—the one with the leather jacket, the one who had been sitting right in front of her— shoved his weapon into the bus driver's face again.

"Get away from the radio!"

"Yes, sir," the driver said, holding his hands high.

The gunman jerked the driver to his feet, then marched him up the aisle with a gun pressed to the back of the man's head. Kenzie didn't watch. She couldn't. She closed her eyes and prayed that she wouldn't hear more gunfire, more screams, the sound of the driver's body hitting the floor.

"Keep your hands on the seats!" the second man yelled from the rear. "Heads down. No looking around. The faster we get your valuables, the faster you can get off this bus."

No shots. The driver would live another few minutes, at least.

Kenzie wished she could pull a Hollywood stunt and save the world… or at least this bus full of people. But she was never any good at saving people. So she lowered her head and closed her eyes and tried to keep the tears from pushing past her eyelids.

She didn't have anything of value with her. No jewelry. Little cash. One credit card. Even her shoes were inexpensive.

Something bumped her foot. Her eyes cracked open and she saw a gloved hand snatch her purse from the floor. The gunman breathed heavily near her ear. She could feel the heat radiating from him as he dumped her belongings. Her pocket knife hit the floor with a clatter. Lip gloss rolled to the front and thunked down the steps. A package of tissues landed near her shoes. She was glad they hadn't been open. She might need them today, if she ever made it to lunch with her mom.

When cold metal pressed against her temple, she was pretty sure she wouldn't.

The second gunman stood just in front of Cole. He could kick the thug's knees and throw his backpack over the man's face, if someone else could just go for the gun.

But the gun would go off before anyone could get it. Someone would die. And the bad guys would have to be together, or he'd have to take out the second man when the first one's back was turned. But how could he know, when he had to keep his head down? Peeking into the aisle gave him a full-on view of the man's camouflage jacket, Wolverine work boots and nothing else.

Maybe it would be all right. If everyone just relaxed, they could take the money and go, and everyone would be okay. Maybe heroics would be the wrong thing to do—would hurt people more than help.

He winced. Yeah, he was good at doing that. His gaze fell on Obsession—still open on his lap—and he skimmed down to where he'd left off. Where two gunmen told the bus passengers to put their heads down, their hands up, and robbed them.

No…

Where they put a gun to Monique's head. Where the bad guys jerked her to her feet, marched her down the steps. His eyes jumped to the first line again.

If her car hadn't died that morning, Monique might not have, either.

Someone was going to die.

No. It was just a crazy book. One he didn't want to read anymore. He moved his leg, jostling the book closed.

Then he was the one with the business end of a pistol pointing at his head.

Cole settled his foot flat on the floor again and tried to slow his breathing, but his heart raced faster. He could feel the blood pulsing in his neck as he tried to remain motionless, to fight the urge to jerk away from the weapon, to not give the gunman the wrong idea.

"Thank you for your cooperation," the man in the front finally shouted.

The gun shifted, but remained inches away from Cole's ear. With it so close, he could grab the gun first, if he got lucky. Duck and grab, then drop the guy while the seat still protected him from the first man's gaze… and weapon.

The one he could use to fire at Cole anyway. Hitting the kid in front of him, or the man next to him. His seatmate met his eyes, blinked, mouthed, "No, son."

"Don't move! Keep your hands on the seats, your heads down."

Something rustled near the front. Cole's eyes settled on the book cover, with Monique gazing up at him. Frightened. Haunted.

"We're taking one of you with us."

The whimpers grew louder.

"If you move before five minutes, if someone calls the cops, if we don't get away clean, she's dead. But if you cooperate as well as you have so far, she'll be deposited somewhere, unharmed, for the police to find."

Monique's face merged with the girl from the bench, and Cole's heart lurched.

Kenzie stood in the aisle after being jerked to her feet. Numb, she looked toward the back of the bus. The man from the bus stop met her gaze for a split second as the guy in the camo jacket held a gun to his head. Then, nothing but a sea of hands. No faces except the two men leering at her with their eyes. No one to come to her rescue.

"Come on," said the man with the leather jacket, tugging on her arm. The other guy moved toward her and pointed his weapon at a nearby child. The message was clear: Struggle, and she'd take more down with her.

She walked with leaden feet, slowly descending the stairs. Her shoe touched the tube of lip gloss, and she watched dully as it fell to the ground beside the front tire. It was her favorite kind—discontinued. Her purse lay on the dusty floorboard. Maybe when it was all over she could pick up her things. Maybe the bus driver would hold them for her.

Maybe she'd no longer need them.

Her breath hitched as she was led to the road. Her captor gripped her arm, keeping a watchful eye on the bus. The other man disappeared from view. Moments later, a black van skidded to a halt, and the side door popped open.

"Your chariot, pet."

Just before they shoved her inside, she glanced back at the bus. Something crashed against her head.

Then everything went black.

* * *

Cole strained his ears but couldn't hear over the rumbling engine and crying passengers. Had the gunmen left on foot or in a getaway car?

The crying grew louder. One man raised his voice, shaky with fear. "Don't move. Don't want nobody hurt. They said five minutes. Still got four left."

Cole ignored the timekeeper, inching his head up high enough so he could see out the window. The street appeared empty except for a black van. It disappeared around the corner before he could get the license number. He felt under the seat for his belongings. The book was there. His cell phone, gone. They needed to get help fast, get the Atlanta PD looking for that vehicle before Moni—no, the girl from the bench— wound up dead.

Cole half stood, then jerked his gaze to the side as the old man gasped. His hands clutched his chest, and his mouth hung open as sweat trickled down the side of his face.

"Anyone still have a phone?" Cole yelled, leaping to his feet. "This man's having a heart attack!"

"Are you crazy?" the shaky voice yelled again. "Sit down before you get us all killed!"

A woman rose from the last seat and strode forward as the old man's head slumped against the window. "I'm an LPN."

"Good." Cole shoved her into his seat. "Someone help her." He ran up the aisle, but another man beat him to the driver's radio. Cole stared out the windshield. The van was long gone.

"The radio's busted," the man said. "And they took the keys."

"All right. Let's go."

The timekeeper raised his voice from halfway back. "Still got two minutes left, man. You go, you kill that girl."

Cole stiffened, trying to block the image of the girl's face—her sad eyes, her lips white with fear. If her car hadn't died that morning… "I stay, and this man dies."

Sirens blared. First a patrol car, then a fire truck, with an ambulance not far behind. Cole blew out a breath, glanced down the aisle where the nurse still hovered. It was out of his hands now. He could tell his story and go. The Atlanta Police Department and emergency response teams would take care of everything.

When the first policeman stepped from the car, the subdued silence on the bus gave way to controlled chaos. In a blur of movement, paramedics whisked the heart attack victim away, the bus was emptied and roped off and a staging area was set up farther down the blocked-off section of street.

Cole sat on the curb and mulled over his statement as emergency personnel began weaving through the crowd, treating injuries and checking those with medical conditions. He played the scene in his head, his pen flying over the paper as he jotted down what had happened, filling in as many details as he could remember.

Two men with black ski masks—he hadn't noticed their faces before the masks went on. Probably should have, because one had been seated right behind him. He should have known, somehow. Should have been able to—

Clenching the pencil tighter, he continued to write. The gun. The boots. Their clothes. The black van. James's heart attack. The search for a phone…


You can purchase from your local department store, CBD, and Amazon:


Jenness is giving away a copy of Double Take. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, November 1st, to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once on each post in this spotlight. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is void where prohibited; open only to U.S. addresses, odds of winning depend on number of entrants. No purchase necessary. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar and purchasing I will receive a small percentage of the sale.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Who Needs Windows?

Ay yi yi! What a weekend it was and today was the crowning jewel. Oh. my. goodness. This weekend snowballed on me, like weekends do to all of us occasionally—not a big deal, just more going on than I anticipated, with a twist thrown in there for fun. *eye roll*

But before something else comes up in my day, the winner of Erica Vetsch's book, The Bartered Bride, which is an EXCELLENT book (I'm reading in every spare moment I have, which hasn't been much this weekend!! *rats*) is Karen K. You're gonna love it, Karen! I know I sure am! =]

And our winner for Maggie Woychik's book, I Run to the Hills is Jean Fischer. Use the Email Me button in the side bar and send me your addresses ladies. =]

Then this morning started with this...

This is almost 5 gallons of broken glass from the window beside my computer area. The seal on the thermal pane broke and my dear hubster changed the window out...which meant taking in out (thank God for storm windows!) and breaking the glass to get it out of the frame.

He was also trying to repair the window on his work van, which refused to go up and down. So his van door is disassembled and we learned we need to take it in for the part to be installed--which is unusual because normally my hub can repair almost everything. So that was two windows in the works first thing this morning.

This weekend, when we could, we worked on doing those last few things before the weather turns nasty again and stays that way for the winter, and the result of that was this:

This is the side window of my 15 passenger van as it looked this morning. Of course we didn't discover it until my daughter closed the back doors this morning and the window sagged out of the van. (Quite startling for her! LoL) It was completely shattered.

Yup, that's me reflected in the window, and if you check out just under my fingers on the right side of the picture, you'll see the root of our shattered window: a little bitty spot where a stone hit...a half an inch from the very edge of the window. We figure it happened while the guys were weed-eating yesterday. Gotta love it.

You know, even with a snowballed weekend and a day that has gone NOTHING like I planned, and even 'needed' it to go, God is still in control. He's still good! As I stood looking at my van and adding up the cost of that big side window and my hubster's window and the other window in my dining room that needs fixing, I happened to look at the glass around the tire of my van.

The sun was glinting off the shattered safety glass making it look like jewels. That's what God does with the broken and shattered pieces of our lives. He makes them glitter like precious jewels when He shines on them.

Our brokenness glitters for His glory if we just let Him shine on the shattered pieces.

That's been my day...How's your day been?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

with Erica Vetsch

Patterings


Welcome to Patterings, Erica and congratulations on your debut novel!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

I started writing for pleasure in the spring of 2004, after a lifetime of daydreaming, writing stories in my head. When I started putting words onto the page, it was like a part of my brain that had lain dormant for a long time woke up. I knew then that I wanted to be a writer, to pursue publication.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
This is such a hard question, because when I’m writing, I’m totally immersed in THAT book and in THOSE characters. They are all special to me, but if forced to choose, I’d have to say The Bartered Bride will always hold a special place in my heart, because it was my first published novel. But from what I’ve heard, I’ll feel just the same about each one as it comes out.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Writer’s Doubt. I second-guess myself, think I’m writing drivel, worry that no one will like it, etc. Overcoming it? I have to preach truth to myself. I have to trust that God will help me tell the story He’s laid on my heart. It also helps that I have some fantastic (And WAY picky ;) editors who fine-comb the manuscript before the world sees them. They don’t let me get away with anything, and I always feel more confident after they’ve gone over a story and approved it.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Abraham Kennebrae, a manipulating, scheming, driven old devil who always tries to maneuver things to his benefit. And yet, I felt for him, a titan of business now confined to a wheelchair. Probably the most interesting thing about Abraham was that he feared losing his grandsons, but his manipulation of them very nearly brings about the thing he fears the most. And don’t you find that to be true? We bumble about and actually contribute to causing our own downfall quite often.

What is your strangest habit?
Strangest Habit: If you asked my husband and kids, they’d say I have a few. :-)

1.I can’t sleep with my feet covered.
2.I don’t walk on grates or manhole covers.
3.I love to watch cooking shows, but I don’t like to cook.
There are so many more...

LoL--I'm with you on the manhole covers! In Ecuador there weren't any manhole covers because people stole them, so you always had to be careful not step IN them! Scary.
Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Absolutely. I hate conflict, and I put off anything that smacks off it. Eventually, I have to force myself to deal with a situation, and then, I feel like road-kill for a good long time afterwards.

Oh man, I don't like conflict either!
What would a perfect day for you look like?

Wake up early and have the luxury of reading in bed for awhile. Check blogs and email, hang with my kids, then head to my local Caribou Coffee to write for awhile. Spend the evening with my family, doing jigsaw puzzles, watching movies, etc.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I have such wide tastes when it comes to reading. I love historical romance (obviously) but I read mysteries, a little horror, thrillers, contemporary romance, lits, it really depends on the story and the author. I’ll read any good story.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
Caribou Coffee, Earl Grey Tea and Orange Cranberry Scones.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
The sovereignty and forgiveness of God seem to pop up a lot in my work and in my life.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
That my most teachable moments come when my expectations are not being fulfilled.

Oh ouch! I can relate to that one!
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

The Bartered Bride officially releases Nov. 1st. Several other books are also on the schedule:
The Kennebrae Brides Series:
The Bartered Bride – November 2009
The Marriage Masquerade – January 2010
The Engineered Engagement – June 2010

The Brides of Money Creek (Idaho Brides):
Clara and the Cowboy – April 2010
Lily and the Lawman – August 2010
Maggie and the Maverick – November 2010

Thank you again, Patty, for having me here over the past two days. And for the US readers, I’m giving away a copy of The Bartered Bride to one commenter. :-)

Wow! What a list, Erica! Especially on the heels of your debut! That's fantastic! Thanks so much for being here at Patterings with us! What an encouragement to those of us still unpubbed. =]

You can purchase The Bartered Bride: from Heartsong Presents and CBD.

Erica is giving away a copy of The Bartered Bride. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, October 25th to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on (yesterday's and today's). If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is void where prohibited; open only to U.S. addresses, odds of winning depend on number of entrants. No purchase necessary.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

meet Erica Vetsch

Patterings





Erica Vetsch is married to Peter and keeps the company books for the family lumber business. A home-school mom to Heather and James, Erica loves history, romance, and storytelling. Her ideal vacation is taking her family to out-of-the-way history museums and chatting to curators about local history. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Calvary Bible College in Secondary Education: Social Studies. You can find her on the web at On the Write Path





The Bartered Bride
Jonathan Kennebrae is furious when his grandfather informs him that his future has been decided. He will marry Melissa Brooke or lose his inheritance. Melissa, too, is devastated when her parents make their announcement. As little more than a bargaining chip in her father's business maneuvers, she feels her secure world slipping away. Can Jonathan and Melissa find a way out of this loveless marriage, or must they find a way forward together?






Here's a snippet from inside the cover of The Bartered Bride:

Melissa's grip tightened on Jonathan's arm.

He looked down at her, her face pale to the lips, her eyes wide. "Oh no," she moaned.

“My wife and I,” Almina had joined Lawrence Brooke, tucking her arm into his elbow and beaming on the crowd, her gaze lingering longest on Jonathan and Melissa. “Are pleased to announce the engagement of our daughter, Melissa, to Mr. Jonathan Kennebrae. Please join us in congratulating the happy couple.” He lifted the glass in their direction. A polite wave of applause welled up.

Melissa stood, knocking her chair over onto the grass. She put her hand to her mouth, turning her head wildly from Jonathan to her parents, then back again. Jonathan rose slowly, easing up on numb legs.

“Kennebrae?” She whispered so low he had to stoop to hear her. “Your name is Kennebrae?”

“Of course it is. What else would it be?”

She blinked, staring at him. “But, I thought—” Her throat spasmed as she tried to swallow. “I thought…”

He caught her just before she hit the grass in a dead faint.

~*~*~*~*~*~


You can purchase The Bartered Bride: from Heartsong Presents and CBD.

Erica is giving away a copy of The Bartered Bride. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, October 25th to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on (today's and tomorrow's interview). If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is void where prohibited; open only to U.S. addresses, odds of winning depend on number of entrants. No purchase necessary.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Diligence in Sounding Out

Whooo-ey! What a weekend! We were out of the house all day on Saturday (I'll post some pictures of what we were doing this Saturday *g*) and Sunday I GOT to work through extreme tiredness and a brain that was AWOL to meet a deadline--which I met, and had the right attitude about! =] Today started with a bang and now we're finally hunkered down to school work. Finally.

Now that my brain has returned I realize I didn't get a winner posted yesterday. The winner of Leann Harris' book Guarded Secrets is Sunny!

Don't forget that Maggie Woychik's book giveaway is still going on and will be open until late Saturday night. Leave a comment to be entered in her drawing! =]

On deck for tomorrow: an Author Spotlight with Erica Vetsch and her debut novel.

These days my mind is full of school work, and much of my time is spent at the table doing school--so here's a post from last year that centers on school and looking for God's will. Two things I'm doing a lot of even now. =]

~*~*~*~*~*~

My youngest has been reading to me lately, and it's been a learning experience. Many times I've had to tap the word and even remind him to look at the word he was sounding out. I asked him, “How can you know what the word is unless you look at it?”

God's special neon 'Duh' sign flashed at me.

It was as if He was asking me how I planned on knowing what His will for me was unless I kept my eye focused on Him and sought it out. Just like my son can't sound out a word he isn't looking at, I can't sound out or decipher a plan I don't have my eyes on. I'm as bad as my little boy. I'll look at the word, then at the picture, then fiddle with the corner of the page and wonder what's on the next page, then scratch my ear and rub my nose, all before I even realize that my attention has wandered from the direction from God that I'm trying to seek out. I need to constantly refocus and remind myself to seek God in this matter, not just be content with my wandering thoughts and wandering life.

For if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord, and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. ~Proverbs 2:3-6

Lord, help me to focus on You and seek diligently what it is You want me to be doing. I want to do Your will, please help me to fix my eyes on You and seek it. I love You, Father, in Your name I pray, amen.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hot dogs n Hayrides

I love the fall--always have. But this year our fall has been cold and damp. Getting anything done outside has been a trick because of all the rain we've had. Here's the road to my house--about two weeks ago. Some of the beans are now harvested and the corn looks even more raggedy, but hey, the road home always looks good to me. I live just on the other side of the hill. Stop by sometime! =)


Last weekend we hosted our church youth group for a hot dog roast and hayride. What a good time we had! There were 60+ kids here (at least that's how many I counted in the three pictures I took of the kids around the fire) and they were great.



I'm convinced that a big reason they were so well behaved and fun to be with is because we have the best youth pastor and leaders in the country. Yup, I'm prejudiced, but I just know they're some of the greatest! The ladies that were serving the food to the kids were jamming to music, which just happened to be 'oldies' so the songs were all from our high school days. LoL Once the kids were served they roasted their own dogs and used them as microphones. =] Man, I love those girls! They really know how to have fun!!

Some of the other youth leaders provided the hayride, saving us a whole lotta time trying to outfit our trailer for a hayride. Three of these kids were some of my Wednesday night girls but are now the newbies in the youth group. I miss them on Wednesday nights, but I know they're having a blast with the big kids.

The junior high kids were the first ones to go out on a hayride, and just before they took off the boys threw some straw in my younger daughter's face (that's her in the red & black check flannel)--just having fun as kids do. In her haste to get the straw out of her face she accidentally caught her glasses and flipped them into the straw...and they were gone. We hunted for 30 minutes with flashlights but we couldn't find them. So the kids went on the hayride, then the high school kids went out (there were twice as many of them as junior high kids!) and finally the college kids went out (our youth group is so good the college kids stick around just as long as they can!). Right after the college kids came back Mike went home, taking the wagon with him. We figured we'd go over the next day and ask to sift through the straw in the hopes of salvaging her lenses. But we didn't have to! Mike came back around midnight with her glasses all in one piece!! She put them on and they weren't even bent out of shape! I haven't seen Mike yet to ask if he had to bend the glasses back into shape or not. It still amazes us!! Thank you, Mike! =] Thank You, Lord!!

That was the highlight of my week.
What was the highlight of your week?


Don't forget the two book giveaways going on right now here at Patterings! Leann Harris is giving away her new release Guarded Secrets and Maggie Woychik is giving away a copy of I Run to the Hills. Leave a comment to be entered in their book drawings! Today is the last day for Leann's, so be sure to catch that if you haven't already.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

meet Maggie Woychik

Patterings


Chila “Maggie” Woychik has had over 75 published articles, poems, and book reviews in magazines such as Young Salvationist, Christian Home and School, Woman’s Touch (Leadership Edition), Purpose, Christian Women Today e-zine, Seek, Women Alive!, Evangel, Cross & Quill, Wesleyan Life, War Cry and others. She has been a staff writer for GotQuestions.org, one of the most visited Christian sites on the internet with well over a million hits a month; written dozens of teen and adult Bible studies; led a Christian writers' group; and won a Roaring Lambs Award from the Amy Foundation.

Also, her first book, “I Run to the Hills: Reflections on the Christian Journey” has just been published by Port Yonder Press.

You can visit Maggie at her website and her blog, Encouraging Emerging Authors.

I Run to the Hills is a relaxed, thoughtful, journey from the Plains of Humanity, through the Forest of Deep Shadows, with stops at Liberty, License, Tradition, and others, on the way to the Mount of the Lord, with the Master as our guide. It’s a collection of 39 essays, poems and allegory loosely draped in traveling garb.

Here's a short snippet from I Run to the Hills...

The thought, the muse, invades the mental process, imposing and confident. One, dull of heart and slow of mind, acknowledges the flash but credits it to nature’s course, a sort of cerebral lightning, an electrical storm in the passage of life. He is amused, albeit, bored. Or, maybe, distracted by the touchability of “real” life surrounding him.

Across the way, or pew, or book, another realizes he has just privileged a glimpse through the curtain of status quo into the arena of Truth. Scrawled across the dividing shroud are the words:
ONLY THE BRAVE, ONLY THE BOLD, ENTER HERE.

And he does.
And he is never the same.



Welcome to Patterings, Maggie!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing.

It was 1993. I had just undergone the first of two back surgeries. At the same time, a friend was struggling with a life-dominating sin and asked for my help. As I prayed and labored over how to assist them, I was compelled to not only write out my thoughts but send them off for publication with the earnest prayer that others could be helped, as well. “To Be Pure” and “Pure Like Jesus” (same article) were the result. It was published in at least four different periodicals within a couple of years and led me to realize the need for non-fiction pieces calling Christians to serious commitment and discipleship.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

I sometimes have trouble balancing life and writing. I have to push myself away from the computer and remind myself how important it is to live so I can write about life.

What would a perfect day for you look like?
Sitting on a sunny shoreline in Bar Harbor, Maine, or maybe PEI (or some such friendly seaport), and writing.

Oh my. Those are definitely beautiful spots! It relaxes me just thinking about them and my years on Maine's coast. :]
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

Literary non-fiction (Annie Dillard is my favorite), gentle fiction (Lucy Maud Montgomery), author biographies (Brontes, Montgomery, Dickinson, etc.). Emily Dickinson’s poetry. I also love the old Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series!

Are there certain foods or snacks that keep the words flowing for you?

A cup of tea and good healthy food, at least until nightfall when I finally allow myself some small delectable treat such as a piece of good chocolate. In this way I keep a clear mind.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
He is sovereign. He is ultimately in control of what I can’t control. I might as well get used to that fact.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

“A Mingling of Sand & Sea: Collected Poems and Tales” may be released next year. It’s a mix of poems and short stories, some of a sea-faring nature, some for children, some inspirational. The book contains something for everyone and would be especially beneficial for home educators.

Thank you, Patty, for hosting me on your blog! I’ve enjoyed it immensely.

And thank you, Maggie for being here with us!!




Maggie is giving away a copy of I Run to the Hills. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, October 25th to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
**Annoying little disclaimer: This giveaway is void where prohibited; open only to U.S. addresses, odds of winning depend on number of entrants. No purchase necessary.

Don't forget Leann Harris' book giveaway that's going on right now, too! Be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for Guarded Secrets by Leann!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

with Leann Harris

Patterings



Welcome to Patterings, Barbara!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

I started to write when my youngest went to kindergarten. I’ve always had stories running around in my head, so I decided to write a story about a deaf girl in Colorado in 1876. I taught deaf kids and grew up in Denver, so I wrote what I knew. It took 7 books for me to get published. I started with historicals, then went on to write a futuristic, and finally wrote contemporaries. The historicals have never seen the light of day, but I did get the futuristic published.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
Oh, that’s like asking me which child do I love more? Each book has a character that I like. The book that’s been the most fun hasn’t found a home yet. My heroine is a livestock photographer and all sorts of shenanigans happen at the livestock show where she’s taking pictures--a murder, a stolen pig, and a good looking sheriff. And of course, the sheriff is the hero.

If I had to pick a favorite character it would be the heroine of my first published book. J.D. Anderson. Her full name was Juliet Desire Anderson. She first appeared in a book that didn’t get published, but she came to me whole. I knew her backstory, her family, her life. She was the son her father never had (or knew about). This Texas oilman had three daughters and a son he never knew about until the son was 30. Growing up, JD tried to make her father proud of his eldest. JD is a lawyer, warrior, and a woman who fights for justice and has a big weakness for chocolate.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
While I was teaching, time was the biggest obstacle. After I finished a day of teaching, I came home, ate, watch a little TV, then between 9-10 every night I write. Most of the time I didn’t feel like writing, but it’s a matter of discipline. You ignore your feelings and sit down and write. Some people might wonder how could I write without inspiration? I had it when the book was born. It’s the daily work that demands discipline. Once I sit down to write the words come and all sorts of wonderful things happen.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
I’d pick Jonathan Littledeer, the hero in my up-coming book. Both of his daughters died of a genetic disease. His wife couldn’t handle the grief and committed suicide. When he was in that black pit, not caring about anything, and drinking himself to unconsciousness a little four-year-old girl (one his partner’s twin daughters) told him that Jesus could help him. It was the moment Jon knew the truth. When he met Lilly and her daughter, Penny, his heart came back to life.

What is your strangest habit?
I have tried to cut down on the number of diet Cokes I drink. I allow myself one 20 oz Coke each day. I drink about half of it, then freeze the remaining Coke into the consistence of slurpee. I then drink it before I go to bed. I am an ice ‘chewer.’

LoL I'll have to tell my husband about that one! He's an ice chewer, too. re there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Cooking. If I could have a cook, I’d be in heaven. My husband is a great cook, but I can’t convince him to do it all the time. I am amazed that my children have fond memories of me cooking and have their childhood favorite meals. Who knew?

hehe. I'm with you on cooking and wanting a cook!
What would a perfect day for you look like?

It would be an Autumn day up in the mountains of Colorado. (Hey, a girl can hope.) I’d get up, take my tea outside and drink it, read my Bible and enjoy the cool morning. Then go in and write for 3 hours. During that time, have my editor call and tell me she wants to buy my next book. Go out to lunch with other author friends. Come back home and write again for a couple of hours. Talk to my grown kids and enjoy dinner with my husband which he’d cooked.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I enjoy reading both historical and contemporary books. I do like romances or romantic suspense best of all. I also enjoy reading books on deafness, deaf culture, and new ways to teach the deaf.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
I always have tea by the computer. Apricot tea.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
The themes come from the characters in each story. Forgiveness, allowing God to turn your mourning into dancing. Also, teaching Christians how to deal with the bad things that happen in life.

What I find exciting is when I go to church, the Lord always has something for me to put into my books. The amazing thing is what my pastor says fits so perfectly into the book. All I can do is marvel at how good God is.

I'm always amazed at how tailored the sermons are to me personally. LoL--It's not always a comfortable feeling.
What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?

To wait. Abraham had to wait for the promise of his son. When Sarah tried to help along the promise, it caused all sorts of problems. I know what the Lord told me. This summer, I’ve debated whether to teach next year, but I know I need to stay at home and write. Things are coming together and I need to wait.

Also, the neat thing I’ve found writing inspirational romantic suspense is sometimes God drops in a lesson and I can only marvel as He tells me about it and I write it.

Thanks so much for being with us this week, Barbara! It's been wonderful getting to know you!

One of the things I loved about Guarded Secrets was how well Barbara captured the little girls in the story. They were real and they added funny little things. But not just that. Those little girls could pack a punch that caught me off guard several times. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Guarded Secrets!

Barbara is giving away a copy of Guarded Secrets. To be entered in the book giveaway, you must be have as US address. Leave a comment and check back on Sunday, October 18th to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin

Fonts from:

Fan of kevinandamanda.com! Free Fonts. Recipes. Scrapbooking. Photography. Blog Design. Tutorials. Giveaway. Everything you're into!

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009. Design expanded and personalized by PattyWysong.com 2011.

Back to TOP