Monday, November 30, 2009

with Shirley Kiger Connolly

Patterings


After spending over 25 years in the ministry with her husband, Shirley Kiger Connolly, a teacher, speaker, wife, and mom all rolled into one wears two more hats as a writer. If she isn’t penning historical fiction romances laced with nuggets of inspiration for the growing believer and searching nonbeliever, she’s creating nonfiction lighthearted devotionals filled with reflection aimed for women of all ages. At other times she enjoys interviewing new and established authors over at her blog, A Penny for your Thoughts.

Shirley is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, FHL and Hearts through History-RWA, and lives with her husband on the Southern Coast of Oregon with their devoted dogs, cats, and chickens.

I See God in the Thorns n Thistles
When your heart is burdened and you're experiencing times of trial, where do you turn? When you're challenged by the complexities of life, the afflictions, the tests, and the tragedies, do you run to or from God? If you run toward Him, do you try to see what He's teaching you? God remains with you not only in the simple circumstances but also during the toughest times of your life. You're never alone, and I See God in the Thorns~n~Thistles offers you, in independent devotions, a way to make the most out of the troubles, a way to draw closer to God because, and oftentimes in spite of, your pain. Life-changing lessons like these not only help us on our personal journeys, they teach us to have compassion for others who we learn need it more. Isn't that what life's all about for the believer?

Welcome back to Patterings, Shirley!
Tell us a little about your family.

I have an awesome family. Not only do I enjoy the company of my husband, I cherish the moments I can spend with my three children (all grown now) and my grandchildren. (You have to realize I got married really really young…so, of course, that makes ME REALLY YOUNG too. ( I love to try to convince myself of that). My oldest son is a software designer and program and works at his house. I don’t know where he got the brains! My daughter in the middle is a teacher, and my youngest son, after graduating from West Point, became an officer in the US Army.

What is the hardest part of being in ministry and how do you deal with it?
We spent fourteen years in full time ministry in Northern California where my husband was a head pastor and I directed women’s ministries. The only thing difficult at the time might have been our Spartan lifestyle while trying to raise three kids and make ends meet, and the occasional (thankfully, not often) disgruntled comments that anyone in ministry understands occur in any church. Those years of ministry continued even after our children grew up and left for college, but by that time we moved to the east coast where my husband served as a chaplain to officers and cadets. There, I was more of a “mom” figure rather than being involved in women’s ministry. That was hard. I missed what I had been doing before tremendously. The only way I could deal with it? WRITE. After New York we settled into a support ministry role. There, I still teach and speak to women (it’s my passion to see them grow in the Lord) and Tom still teaches Bible Studies and subs for the pastor when he leaves the area. Serving in this capacity to both of us is nothing but joy. So I don’t know how to speak to “hard.”

Because you're such a good sport, and because you suggested this question back in September, why don't you tell us about the most normal thing you've done.
Probably eat too many chips and too much dip and put on a pound or two and then be sorry I blew it later. That sounds fairly common, don’t you think?

Where would you go for a dream vacation and what would you do?
We went on a dream vacation just last year to Ireland. What we learned there was that even though the countryside was beautiful and the people were extremely kind, the roads were terrible and we had to drive on the left and sure enough Tom and I got in a fender bender the VERY FIRST DAY! The grass is never greener on the other side, I guarantee it.

What part of writing do you enjoy the most?
If my creative juices are flowing.
What I hate the least, though I haven’t been asked, is finding all my grammatical errors TOO late to fix. Line editors are wonderful to have around.

Is there a certain food that you just love? And while we're on food, is there something that you hate?
I have a problem with food. I like it ALL! But I’m learning to eat smartly which helps. I do love shell fish. I also love Caesar Salad. Oh, yes, medium rare steak, tender with A-1 Sauce. Um… Any green veggies. (Oh, I could go on)
Hate? Grizzly onions in baked beans that are too sweet. Don’t tell my mom.

What verse is special to you right now?
I have a number of them. Isaiah 41:10 which comforts me in times of fear; Isaiah 43:1-3 which ministered to me through my bout with cancer; Psalm 139 which confirms to me just how much God knows about me…inside out.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I mentioned I See God in the Thorns n Thistles which comes out in November in our last interview together and how it deals with trials we go through, but how the Lord ministers and teaches us through each one so He can more greatly use us. I probably should have talked the last time more about I See God in the Simple Things which came out earlier this year and which, in a lighthearted way, showed the reader how we can see the Lord in every single aspect of our lives…our animals, our dust, when tripping over a table, whatever. So often we make life so difficult, when God is trying to show us He is ordering our every step if we belong to Him.

The third devotional in this series I See God on That Narrow Road is due out in 2010. The title gives the clue. There is only one way to heaven. Sometimes we forget the road we are traveling on because we begin doing things OUR way instead of HIS.

Here's an excerpt of I See God in the Thorns ~n~ Thistles:

Loving Too Closely?

I don’t remember telling you about the sad experience we had when we lost Hannah, our Border Collie-Australian Shepherd cross and all her puppies. Tom and I both still feel sick inside over how it happened even though it’s been well over a year since it all happened.

It takes a good while to get over the loss of one of our animals.

Sometimes, we want to ask why; but we don’t, because deep down, we know there’s a reason for all that happen in our lives. Don’t you agree?

Anyway, our sweet Hannah, (one of the gentlest dogs in the world) was a few days from delivering her pups. We were as excited as she probably was.

If you have ever had the experience of moving step-by-step with your little girl before she’s had her little ones, you would understand the joy we felt.

The little fellow we bred Hannah too was a purebred Red Merle Aussie named Cowboy. He lived with his family down in Crescent City, California--one of the most beautiful dogs you ever saw.

I’m glad he wasn’t around to see what happened to his wife.

Tom has this big red truck, an ’84 Ford four-wheel-drive thing that has big tires that make the cab higher off the ground than a normal little truck. He was turning into the driveway while coming home from work one day, and all our dogs, who show great excitement when they hear the sound of dear old dad coming home, ran to meet the side of Tom’s big pickup so they could greet him. Hannah, carrying her heavy load of whelps, was much slower in movement and response than usual.

She suddenly looked up at that front grill of that giant red truck and without thinking decided to run across to the other side of the driveway the moment Tom turned up and in.

I was at the front door waiting (it’s kind of what I do at the end of a day) but Tom sitting high up in the cab, I’m sure, couldn’t see low in front of him or well along the front drive. It was clear, he also had no idea what was happening, because it happened so quickly.

Much too fast.

The hit was swift…over for Hannah in a second.

Her neck broke instantly—probably a blessing in disguise.

Still, we rushed sweet little Hannah off to the vet anyway, and the doctor even tried to save her, but it was too late. The whelps on the other hand, the vet successfully removed from her tummy-dog womb. Even though they were four or five days early each were kept alive one-by-one.

Born with no hair, the preemies kind of looked like giant, but cute, rats, but at this point to us they were beautiful. We also knew the rest was up to us in keeping them alive.

The feelings that went through my heart and soul right then over our Hannah and her pups, and through Tom’s mind, I’m sure, and probably through the thoughts of our Heidi, Hannah’s mom, who is another dog of ours and who saw it all happen. Even our big old Silas dog, as he watched looked heartbroken.

We’ve often wondered over time why we had to go through this particular trial, knowing of the deepness of our love for our animals especially for Hannah in a class all by herself.

Lots of people go through the loss of an animal. If you ever have you know it hurts. It took weeks for Tom to get over and I have to tell you the evidence was clear.

He and I had both looked forward to the raising of those puppies after nursing Hannah throughout her entire pregnancy.

Have you ever gone through that type of experience with your dog or with a horse or goat—where you watched them grow in pregnancy then waited for them to give birth? It can be trying toward the end, as you wait for the day of birthing. In Hannah’s case, it became much more.

And God apparently had other ideas in mind.

For 23 days we nursed Hannah’s puppies with love and care, and still we lost all six of them…one after the other even after staying up night after night taking shifts to try to keep them alive. The experience was grueling.

I took notes at every feeding, whenever they went potty, whenever I got one to drink from the little syringe of water. I still have those notes.

I wondered for a long time after it was all over what could have been the lesson for in all this. I asked Tom what he thought God had taught him.

He replied there’d been times when he even thought he showed love to his animals more than he showed love to humans. I understood why he said that, too.

Ever notice how animals, for the most part, do not let people down but we, as humans do?

Tom shared how animals tend to be loyal to their masters making it easier to forgive them for doing animal-like things.

Ever notice how humans sometimes have a tendency to be more stubborn and prove it to you time and again during times of rebellion?

Whenever Tom needed to scold one of our animals, they appeared to respond as if they hoped to do better the next time--only wanting to please.

How many humans do you know like to be criticized? I don’t. How many make the same ones again, only the next time maybe worse than before? I have.

God showed me something else during the whole ordeal with Hannah and her puppies. That’s that sometimes I place too much importance on a pet or a dog over other things.

When Hannah died, all we could think of was her pups and how they had to live. We forgot about everything else going on around us. For someone like me, who has problems keeping her head on straight when I am awake, this was not a wise thing to do. So I neglected myself.

The truth was both Tom and I made ourselves physically miserable trying to keep those babies alive.

Soon after Hannah and her pups died we lost our oldest loving Siamese cat, Amos, who’d been with us for thirteen years.

God was obviously trying to speak to our hearts.

I could hear Him clearly, even though, at the time, I was very ill.

“Tom and Shirley, where are you, focusing your love these days?”

I had to look at the entire picture and tell Him the truth. So did Tom.

Thankfully, God understood.

I know He did.

I know because He always does.

I had to ask myself if I would stay up 24/7 just to show others how much I love Him. I wonder.

I had to ask myself would I ever be found guilty for loving Him too closely.

I hope so.

How about you? “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” Lamentations 3:22


You can purchase I See God in the Thorns n Thistles from Amazon:


Shirley is giving away a copy of I See God in the Thorns n Thistles. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, December 6th 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.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Fa La La La La

One of the ministries I love, Love, LOVE being a part of is Exemplify. It's a fabulous place to go for encouragement, edification and exhortation. This holiday season they have some wonderful plans.

In celebration of Christmas, Exemplify is hosting multiple community opportunities for their readers! Every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday in December up until Christmas they will be hosting link up events for you to share your Christmas traditions, recipes, favorite Christmas music, gift buying ideas and more. They will be offering a giveaway for each event and I can’t wait for the fun to begin.



Be sure to join the fun at Exemplify!

Don't forget the TWO book giveaway going on this week...
The House is Quiet, Now What? by Janice Thompson
Christmas Miracles with Tracy Ruckman.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

with Tracy Ruckman

Patterings


Welcome to Patterings, Tracy! It's a treat having you here. =)
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

About 20 years ago, I joined a young women’s club at a church. One of the benefits of membership included a subscription to a monthly magazine. After the first issue or two, and a couple of months participating with this special group of ladies, I fired off a letter to the editor of that magazine, sharing my enjoyment of the magazine and of the group. Then I promptly forgot about it.

The following year, I attended a community-wide Thanksgiving service where we were encouraged to give out of our hearts to help the needy.

We were pretty needy ourselves that year – we had no money to give, and truly had no idea where our next meal was coming from. The Lord nudged me and said, “Take the coins from the bottom of your purse.” I paused, and then questioned, “Lord, surely not. You’re worth more than pennies.” And of course He said, “Just give.”

I dug the coins out of the bottom of my purse as quietly as I could, and just peeked at the small handful – not much silver at all. But I obeyed, and when the offering plate was passed, I gently placed the coins on top of bills, praying everyone wouldn’t hear that I was only putting in a few cents, humiliation heating my face. I was so embarrassed.

The very next morning, I walked to the mailbox and found a letter from the editor of that magazine I mentioned earlier. He apologized for the year-long delay, explained that my letter had been lost, but recently found again, and they wished to purchase it as an article, instead of running it as a letter. A check would be sent within a few days. Then he asked if I would be interested in writing book reviews on a monthly basis for them.

I knew without a doubt that the timing was God’s, and that He blessed my obedience to Him. That very week, I began studying the writing field as a career, but pursued it only part-time until 2005, when I took the leap and went full-time.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Finding the time and concentration to write is my biggest obstacle to writing novels, especially since we depend on my income. I began editing almost full-time in 2008 – when we were struggling to sell a house that stayed on the market three years. (Thank God, it finally sold!) So I’ve put novel writing on the back burner, and now I write shorter pieces. I’ve had great success with my nonfiction shorter pieces, and am always churning nonfiction book ideas. I hope to someday return to my novels (they continue to brew in my head – the characters just won’t leave me alone!) but I just take things one day at a time to see where He leads.

What is your strangest habit?
Well, I hate to admit this, but I’m a casual “sweeper.” In 2001, I won a contest/sweepstakes and received an awesome trip to Venice, Italy. Then, in 2006, I won a huge Super Bowl prize package - not a trip, but lots of goodies that included a large HDTV and a recliner. So now, usually one evening a week, I spend a couple of hours entering contests and sweepstakes. Silly, I know, but it’s something to help me wind down from work, and if I win, woo-hoo!

Oh, I love that, Tracy! That would be a good way to wind down! I hope you win something fun really soon!
Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

I procrastinate anything to do with housework as long as I can possibly manage – I just don’t like that stuff! Most everything else, I just do it as it comes along, because if I postpone it, it may not get done. (Yeah, I know the same rule could be applied to housework, but it’s HOUSEWORK.)

What would a perfect day for you look like?
This may seem like a strange answer, but right now, many of my days are “perfect” because I love the life God has given me, right here, right now. I have a precious, loving, God-fearing husband and sweet, spoiled-rotten dog; my grown sons are succeeding in life. My home – a little cabin in the woods - fits me perfectly and my friends are the rarest and most beautiful of jewels. Daily, God sends amazing critters (lizards, birds, bugs, funny-looking squirrels, even a fox and armadillo) into my view, and I have the freedom and the inclination to praise, worship, and thank Him whenever I want. My work is an incredible, ever-changing, creative journey filled with remarkable clients and unique stories. Any day that includes all of the above is one perfect day – and it’s truly a gift from God that I appreciate deeply.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read widely – fiction, nonfiction, CBA, ABA. It’s probably easier to tell you what I don’t like, than what I do, although I’ve found my tastes have changed a bit over the years. I don’t like books that have a hidden agenda – I usually spot it pretty quickly. I don’t like books without a plot – and unfortunately, there are some published that don’t have one. I also don’t like books filled with filthy language or sex for the shock value. Really, there’s no point. Recently, I had a conversation with another writer. I told her I refused to read books that used filthy language. She said she understood, but that she could handle those kinds of books because she grew up with brothers. I told her it wasn’t because I hadn’t been exposed to the language, but because I HAD been, and now I was CHOOSING not to fill my head with garbage. There is a difference, I think.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
My husband Tim’s answer to this question would be ice cream – for him, ice cream keeps the world going ‘round. But no, for me, there’s no certain food to keep the words flowing. However, I do like to cook and I like to eat, so if I get stuck, or need to ponder a scene, I’ll go to the kitchen and cook something. I cook just about anything – gourmet, country, Italian, Mexican, Chinese, French, American, bbq, Southern – although I don’t do much baking.

My favorite cake these days is the 5-Minute Chocolate Mug Cake, so it meets all our baked good needs.

You like to cook?! You are welcome to visit and cook here ANY time you'd like! I wish we were neighbors--I'd clean for you if you'd cook some for us! LoL
Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?

Looking back over published articles, it seems like the one theme that seems to run throughout is God’s provision. God has and does provide for us – in many creative ways. We just need to learn to recognize it as His provision, instead of taking credit for it ourselves. It all belongs to Him anyway.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
This summer, I completed Jennifer Rothschild’s Me, Myself, & Lies Bible study. Learning that our past and our circumstances and our lifestyles can fill our “thought closets” full of awful lies from the enemy, and crowd out God’s Truths – that was a powerful lesson to learn. Even simple things like calling myself an “idiot” or a “doofus” when I make a mistake – those are things I shouldn’t do. Instead, we learned a list of truths straight from the Bible about who we are, and Whose we are.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
As I answer these questions, I don’t have an answer for this one. But by the time this interview is published, that may have changed, so check my Pix-N-Pens blog, or my web site for the latest information.


Patty – thanks so much for a GREAT interview, and for inviting me to visit. Merry Christmas, y’all!

And thank YOU for being with us, Tracy! =)

You can purchase Christmas Miracles from Amazon:

Tracy is giving away a copy of Christmas Miracles. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, November 29th 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, November 24, 2009

meet Tracy Ruckman

Today I'm so pleased to introduce you to Tracy Ruckman. Tracy is one of the first people I met along my journey outside of Faithwriters and she's been a tremendous encouragement. For those of you that write, be sure to check out and subscribe to Pix-N-Pens!

Patterings


Tracy Ruckman is a freelance editor, writer, and photographer. She owns Write Integrity Editorial Services and WIES Workshops, which offers online writing courses year-round.

She hosts the popular Pix-N-Pens blog for writers, editors, and photographers, and she is the National Christian Writing Examiner for TheExaminer.com.

She promotes her writing and photography through her Tracy Ruckman Web site, where she also shares about her faith.

Tracy is the blessed wife of an incredible husband and the proud mom of two grown sons and one spoiled rotten dog. She loves to travel, fish, garden, and read - and usually has her camera with her at all times.

Christmas Miracles
Many ordinary people experience Christmas miracles—those special moments during the season of giving and receiving when Christmas becomes more than just a holiday. Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson share the stories of those who have recognized the special moments that transcend daily experience and transform their lives. In these stories, people overcome desperate situations through a miraculous twist of fate—all during the most wonderful time of the year. A young boy sits down to read a Christmas book and discovers that his learning disability has vanished. A woman stranded in a blizzard is rescued by a mysterious stranger who she suspects is an angel. And a woman living far from home gets an answer to her prayer in the form of an unexpected gift.

In these challenging times, we all long for comfort and inspiration; and Murphey and Gibson deliver both in this charming holiday read. Christmas Miracles also offers a foreword by Don Piper, author of the blockbuster bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven, about real-life miracles and the moments of grace that touch our lives.

Tracy’s story, “Miracle of the Nativity” reminds us all that God is still very much with us today, even in the hardest of times.

You can purchase Christmas Miracles from Amazon:


Tracy is giving away a copy of Christmas Miracles. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, November 29th 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.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Empty Your Cup

This weekend we watched The Forbidden Kingdom with Jackie Chan and Jet Li and a couple of lines spoken by Jackie Chan jumped out at me...

“How can you fill your cup if it's already full?
Empty your cup!”


I've been mulling this over for a day or two now and it still makes me stop. Is my cup so full of me and my thoughts and my plans that God cannot, no, will not fill me with Himself and His thoughts and His plans for me?

If I want more of God I need to empty my cup of myself.

He must increase but I must decrease.
~John 3:30

There are 40 days left in this year. How are you doing toward reaching this year's goals? Have you begun thinking about next year yet?

So tell me, how full is your cup? What is it full of?

Oh! And the winner of Vickie McDonough's Wild West Christmas is Terra H. Congratulations, Tera! And thank you for being with us, Vickie!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

40 Days 'til 2010

In my birthday post I told you about the 'results' I had seen in my life since last year's 40 Day Celebration, where I spent the 40 days before my birthday preparing for the upcoming year. I also challenged you to think about what you could do to prepare for the upcoming year.

Tomorrow, Sunday, November 22nd, starts the 40 day countdown to 2010. Here's a couple of ideas for how you can make those days special...

The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
to the person who seeks Him.
It is good that that he waits silently
for the salvation of the
LORD.
~Lamentations 3:25-26

Let's look at this...
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him...

The first thing we need to do is to wait. To be still. Jesus reminded Martha that only one thing is really necessary, and Mary had chosen it. (Luke 10:41-42) What did Mary do that Martha didn't? She sat at Jesus' feet.

Think about it.
How often do we see Mary at the feet of Jesus? Not running around, but listening to Jesus.

Wait means to linger for, expect and to bind together. We're to wait on God.
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for Him;
~Psalm 37:5

When we expectantly linger at the feet of Jesus we are bound to Him. When we wait on God He renews our strength (Isaiah 41:10).

...to the person who seeks Him.

Have your priorities right. When we seek for God with all our heart He lets us find Him! He loves for us to seek and pursue Him.

Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me,
and I will listen to you.
You will seek me and find me
when you seek me with all your heart.
~Jeremiah 29:12-13


Seek means to tread or to frequent, to worship.
Do you frequent the path of worship? Do you frequently sit at His feet?

It is good that that he waits silently...

Look at Job (Job 40:1-4), Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5) and John (Revelation 1:17). Those who were in the very presence of God were silent before Him. Too often we barge into the throne room with words when we should be silent. Listening. At His feet.

I encourage you to take time in these next 40 days to silently be still before God, seeking Him. I am still amazed at the difference 40 days has made in my life.

So tell me, are you up to preparing for 40 days for 2010?



Don't forget the books in the spotlight this week! We have Wild West Christmas by Vickie McDonough and The House is Quiet, Now What? by Janice Thompson. Leave a comment on those posts to be entered in the book drawings!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

with Janice Thompson

Patterings


Award-winning author Janice Thompson also writes under the pseudonym Janice Hanna. She got her start in the industry writing screenplays and musical comedies for the stage. Janice has published over fifty books for the Christian market, crossing genre lines to write cozy mysteries, historicals, romances, nonfiction books, devotionals, children's books and more. In addition, she enjoys editing, ghost-writing, public speaking, and mentoring young writers. Janice currently serves as Vice-President of CAN (Christian Authors Network) and was named the 2008 Mentor of the year for ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). She is active in her local writing group, where she regularly teaches on the craft of writing. Janice is passionate about her faith and does all she can to share the joy of the Lord with others, which is why she particularly enjoys writing. She lives in Spring, Texas, where she leads a rich life with her family, a host of writing friends, and two mischievous dachshunds. She does her best to keep the Lord at the center of it all. You can find Janice online at her website www.janiceathompson.com as well as at Double Booked where she does book reviews and Weddings by Bella

The House is Quiet,
Now What?

Recovering Life & Adventure
as an Empty Nester

Wondering what to do now that the kids have flown the coop? Look no further than Turning Points for Empty Nesters, wherein answers to the questions and challenges now facing you reside. Fuel-for-the-journey chapters address issues such as redefining and rediscovering yourself, deliberate downsizing, dealing with depression, balancing new responsibilities, becoming part of the sandwich generation, living with a renewed purpose, and so much more. Filled with sage advice and practical, biblically-based guidance, this unique volume will help you devise a new flight pattern as you navigate your way through the rest of your fabulous life.

Here's an excerpt of The House is Quiet, Now What?:

INTRODUCTION

A child enters your home and for the next twenty years makes so much noise you can hardly stand it.  The child departs, leaving the house so silent you think you are going mad. 
~John Andrew Holmes


Ah, the empty nest mom! She is the ultimate picture of contradiction. For years she pushed, she prodded, she worked around the clock to mold and shape her little darlings into real people. . .people she could be proud of. Then, just about the time she had them looking, acting and smelling like adults. . .they flew the coop!

Now she’s free! Free to redecorate the nest, to nudge herself over the edge, to do a little flying of her own. She’s finally in a place where she can rediscover her likes and dislikes, her dreams and abilities. Best of all, she is in the perfect situation to fully develop her relationship with the Lord.

Why then, does she struggle?

Becoming an empty nester is tricky. It’s an awesome, amazing, freeing, terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad time. . .filled with ups and downs, ins and outs. You’re struggling to balance those delicious feelings of freedom with the grief of watching your children make their way into the world. . .without you! Talk about a conundrum!

Think about the mama bird and her young. She works tirelessly to nudge her babes from the nest, pushing them beyond their limits. She’s thrilled when they succeed. But the moment those little darlings take to flight, she has second thoughts. “Wait a minute!” she cries out. “Hold on! I wanted you to fly, but I didn’t mean for you to fly away!”

Poor mama bird. She sits in the nest, bemoaning the fact that her task—for the most part, anyway—is complete. She’s worked herself out of a job. And now she is faced with the lingering question: “What have I done?” She mothered so well that she’s left to suffer the consequences, whether she’s psychologically prepared or not.

Chances are pretty good you can relate to that mama bird. As a mother, your world has been wrapped up in caring for the children God gave you. You sewed costumes for their ballet recitals, paid for guitar lessons, helped with homework, drove the carpool, spent countless hours at ballgames and other sporting events. You chose a van over a convertible and wore the team colors even when they clashed horribly with your complexion. In short, you gave up your very life for them.

And now they’re gone. The ever-present sound of video games echoes in your mind, but the house is silent. There are no tennis shoes to trip over, no stinky laundry to toss into the washer, and no arguments to squelch. The sound of your daughter’s voice chattering on the phone is only a distant memory and you find yourself missing the hum of text messages coming through. Gone are the emergency poster-board runs on Sunday night and the leftovers in the fridge are stacking up. You’ve washed that cheerleader outfit for the last time and packed your last school lunch. Your fall schedule includes Friday nights free and there are no more pep rallies to attend. Worst of all, you’re having to learn to cook for two again—or one, if you’re single.

Yep. Watching those children fly away can be tough.

But it can also be freeing!

Suddenly you have your time back! You can set your own schedule, something that was impossible with a house full of kids. Those dreams you pressed to the back burner? You can pull them out again, dust them off and look for the possibilities. You can travel! Take dance lessons! Join a bowling league. You can begin to focus once again on nurturing yourself—physically, spiritually and emotionally. In short, you can take care of you for a change! And above all, you now have the time to pursue the most intimate relationship with the Lord you’ve ever known.

Yes, empty nester. . .tears will be shed. No doubt you will go through a bit of grieving, especially those of you who’ve been through a really traumatic experience (such as the death of a child or a sudden, unexpected tearing away). But don’t let those tears fall because you’re thinking you’re nothing without the children underfoot. Let it be because you miss them, plain and simple.

Mama bird. . .it’s time to fly!

Little one, little one, why must you grow?
So quickly it seems, the time must go,
But you grow sweeter with time.
Just let me hold you a little while longer,
To capture the moments God gives us each day.
And maybe someday, when I’m just a bit stronger,
I’ll be prepared to watch you fly away.
Then you’ll fly, little one, fly,
And be what God wants you to be.
He gave you to me to keep for a while,
To show us that His love will be
Sweeter. . .sweeter with time

Sweeter with Time (by Janice Hanna-Thompson)


Thank you for being with us, Janice!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.

In 1997, while walking past the television, I heard Pat Robertson say these words: “If we’re not careful, this so-called “right” to die could become the “duty” to die. (I was watching the 700 Club, obviously.) His words stopped me in my tracks. As an avid pro-lifer, I knew that he was right. The idea for my first novel “Duty to Die” came as a direct result of those words from Pat. I spent several years trying to sell the book idea to a publisher. It was picked up by Barbour in 1999 and came out in 2000. Praise the Lord, it sold quite well and all of my subsequent books came as a result of that first one.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
Oh, goodness. . .what a question. I’ve enjoyed so many. I loved writing the “Weddings by Bella” series (my most recent fiction series from Revell). The characters and the overall story are quirky/funny. . .very suited to my personality. Also, the story is set in Galveston, near my home in Houston. I love that area and have always enjoyed setting stories there. I particularly like the first book in the series “Fools Rush In” because it’s about a wacky Italian family that runs a wedding facility. (For those who don’t know, I’m a mother-of-the-bride four times over. Four daughters. Four weddings. . .in four and a half years!) Writing about weddings is pure joy.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Yikes. As far as writing challenges go. . .I dislike those “mushy middles.” For those non-writers out there, the “mushy middle” is the mid-section of the book where writers often get bogged down. I always try to add some humor to the mid-section of a book to keep the plot moving along! As far as personal challenges go. . .I’ve been struggling with some physical problems (specifically, an autoimmune disease) so writing through the pain has been quite a challenge.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
If we’re referring to “Fools Rush In,” my favorite character is Aunt Rosa! She’s the wacky Italian aunt who does all of the cooking in the Rossi family. If we’re referring to the empty nest book, there are a host of stories that women turned in and they all touched my heart. It would be hard to choose just one. (I’d like to pause to thank the many, many women who responded to our call for stories. We kept them anonymous, but each story in the book is based on a real life story and/or a compilation of several stories.)

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Yikes. Do I really have to confess this? Let me start by saying I did NOT do this on purpose. I bake wedding cakes and baby shower cakes. Not professionally, mind you. I baked them for three of my four daughters and for other friends/family members. A former student of mine recently asked me to bake her wedding cake. I was happy to oblige. . .my gift to her. On the day of the wedding, I went to the reception hall early and assembled the cake. It looked lovely. Well, maybe not lovely, but close. An hour and a half later, I came back to the reception hall (after the wedding) to find the cake table empty. EMPTY! Completely, totally empty. The cake had fallen. Apparently one of two things had happened. . .either I didn’t brace the cake properly OR I’d added too much strawberry filling between the layers, making it slippery. At any rate, there was very little salvageable. I managed to keep two layers, which I pieced together. The rest was sliced and served. The bride (praise the Lord) was easy going and still laughs about it to this day. Thank goodness, right?!

Oh-my-goodness! What a relief the bride had a sense of humor!
Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Dishes. Laundry. Basically, I put off housework. It’s more of a temptation now that I’m living alone. (Well, to be honest, I don’t completely live alone. I live with two miniature dachshunds, but they don’t seem to care if I do the dishes or not.)

What would a perfect day for you look like?
Oh wow. Well, it would start by waking up in Italy and go from there. There would be a handsome tour guide (hey, a girl can dream) and a great place to sit and look out over the Mediterranean while writing. (Now look what you’ve done! You’ve got me dreaming!)

Aw, Janice, dreaming like that is good every now and then! LoL Isn't it?
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I love non-fiction books. I always find myself drawn to them. I recently read a couple of great non-fiction books (“The Heavenly Man” – about the underground church in China AND “Do Something” by Miles McPherson). Both really resonated with me. I also enjoy most types of fiction. Really, anything except Amish, westerns or sci-fi. Here are a couple of my favorite novels: “The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper” (by my non-fiction co-author, Kathleen Y’Barbo) and “Love Finds You in Snowball, Arkansas” (by Sandra Bricker)

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
Yep. I once told someone that I could go for weeks on Diet Dr. Pepper alone. That’s not completely true, but it’s close. I also love Earl Grey tea. Yummy!

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I always seem to write about people who get ahead of God. Maybe that’s a theme in my own life!

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
Oh my. I have been going through a rough season physically. (I have an autoimmune disease which causes significant joint pain/fever, etc.) My insurance ended in August and I’m unable to get insurance at this time, due to pre-existing conditions. So, I’m learning to lean on the Lord as never before for my health. He is faithful. . .and He knows my every need. KNOWING that and LIVING it are two different things, though. Sometimes I get scared, but then I remember He’s my healer. . not the doctors.

Wow. What a lesson for us to hear, and now we can be praying for you.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

My second “Weddings by Bella” book (titled “Swinging on a Star”) comes out at Christmas-time. I’m SO excited! People who loved the first book should enjoy the comedic elements in this one too. Here’s the back cover copy:
Bella Rossi's life is nearing perfection. She's got the perfect guy, she's running a successful business, and she's about to plan her most ambitious wedding yet, a Renaissance-themed fairy tale come true, complete with period costumes and foods, horse-drawn carriages, and even a castle. There's just one hitch. The best man just happens to be Brock Benson, Hollywood's hottest and most eligible bachelor. Oh, and did we mention he's staying at the Rossi house to avoid the paparazzi? With all the pressure surrounding this wedding, Bella's not sure she's going to make it through. Add her starstruck sister, her feuding aunt and uncle, and a trio of large, sequined church ladies with even bigger personalities, and you've got a recipe for disaster--and a lot of laughs. This hilarious romantic comedy is sure to delight both fans and new readers alike.

You can purchase from CBD and Amazon:


Janice is giving away a copy of The House is Quiet, Now What?. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, November 29th 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. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar and purchasing I will receive a small percentage of the sale.

And because I can't resist, here's a little about Janice's other new release that she mentioned several times in her interview,
Fools Rush In

Bella Rossi may be nearing thirty, but her life is just starting to get interesting. When her Italian-turned-Texan parents hand over the family wedding planning business, Bella is determined not to let them down. She quickly books a "Boot Scoot'n" wedding that would make any Texan proud. There's only one catch--she's a country music numbskull because her family only listens to Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Where will she find a DJ on such short notice who knows his Alan Jackson from his Keith Urban? When a misunderstanding leads her to the DJ (and man) of her dreams, things start falling into place. But with a family like hers, nothing is guaranteed. Can the perfect Texan wedding survive a pizza-making uncle with mob ties, an aunt who is a lawsuit waiting to happen, and a massive delivery of 80 cowboy boots? And will Bella ever get to plan her own wedding? Book one in the Weddings by Bella series, Fools Rush In is fun, fresh, and full of surprises. Readers will love the flavorful combination of Italian and Tex-Mex, and the hilarity that ensues when cultures clash.

You can purchase Fools Rush In at CBD and Amazon:


Doesn't that sound great?!
Today's giveaway is for The House is Quiet, Now What? I just wanted to tell you about Fools Rush In because it sounds like a such a winner! =) And because I like to make you drool. hehe

Don't forget the other book giveaway going on right now with Vickie McDonough!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

with Vickie McDonough

Patterings


Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.
A story idea started running through my head like a movie, and it wouldn’t go away. I was getting about five hours sleep at night because of it and decided to write it down in hopes it would go away and leave me alone. It did, but another story came right on its heal. I finally realized that God must be trying to get my attention. I never dreamed I’d be a published author. I just wanted to write the stories God gave me, but then realized that He wanted me to share them, and I started submitting to publishers.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
I really enjoyed writing my North Dakota trilogy. Why? My husband and I got to visit the area where my books are set. There’s some wonderful history there about a French Marquis who settled in the area, which I was able to weave into my stories. Lots of exciting things happen in those three books: Wild At Heart, Outlaw Heart, and Straight for the Heart.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Believe it or not, the writing is the hardest for me. I love creating something from nothing, but sitting down and writing is hard work. I love, though, when you get in the groove and everything fades away except the story.

Which character most interested you while you wrote?
Evan Parker is the hero of A Wagonload of Trouble. He’s a bonafide computer geek who has to take his niece on a wagon train tour even though he’s under a tight deadline at work. Why? I like him because he’s a combination of my husband and one of my sons, both who are computer guys. My husband enjoyed recognizing himself in the story. :-)

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I don’t know if you could call this quirky or not, but six months after my husband and I married, we went with a group from our church to live on a kibbutz in Israel for a year.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
I tend to put off new things—unfamiliar things. Cleaning the garage is another thing I dread.

What would a perfect day for you look like?
The perfect day, hmm. Eating out breakfast, coming home to read for a few hours. Eating out lunch and then going to a movie. Eating out dinner and back home to read some more. Get the idea that I don’t care much for cooking?

LoL--I'm on the same page as you about cooking! ugh. It's no fun!
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

My range is fairly narrow. I love historicals set in the 17—1800s mostly. I especially like ones with a western flair. I do read contemporary romance and suspense some, but historical romance is my favorite.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
No. I try not to snack too much.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I write about forgiveness, trusting God when your future seems dismal, love, faith.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
To trust Him with the future and my career.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
A Wagonload of Trouble is a contemporary romance set in Wyoming that released this summer. I have novellas in two historical collections that released in September: Wild West Christmas and A Blue and Gray Christmas. Next April, my first long fiction book will be released called The Anonymous Bride.

Thank you for being with us this week, Vickie! Wild West Christmas sounds great and I'm looking forward to The Anonymous Bride.

You can purchase Wild West Christmas from CBD and Amazon:

Vickie is giving away a copy of Wild West Christmas. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, November 20th 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.

On deck for tomorrow is an interview and book giveaway with Janice Thompson. Be sure to stop by!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

meet Vickie McDonough

Today I'm posting at Exemplify with a devotional called, Spin Brushes, Activate! I'd love to have you join me there!

Patterings


Vickie McDonough is an award-winning inspirational romance author. She’s had 16 novels and novellas published. Her Heartsong books, The Bounty Hunter and the Bride and Wild At Heart both placed third in the Top Ten Favorite Historical Romance category in Heartsong Present’s annual readers’ contests. Her stories frequently place in national contests, such as the ACFW Book of the Year contest and the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest. She has also written books reviews for over eight years. Vickie is a wife of thirty-three years, mother of four grown sons and grandma to a feisty three-year-old girl. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, gardening, watching movies, and traveling. To learn more about Vickie’s books, visit her website: www.vickiemcdonough.com



Wild West Christmas

Romance takes root in the lives of a Texas rancher's four daughters. Charlsey Ames loves being a cowhand until a dandy tenderfoot from the city begins opening her eyes to unexplored territory. Sharpshooter Lucy Ames takes a shot at love while traveling with a Wild West show. Horse-trainer Sarah Ames finds herself falling for a suspicious drifter with a gentle hand. Tracker Bessie Mae Ames is being trailed by a handsome yet guarded Texas Ranger. Will love corral these Lone Star ladies hearts this Christmas?

A Breed Apart
Carson smiled at Sarah’s enthusiasm. He’d never met a woman quite like her. The man who married her could well starve to death, but he’d sure have a capable partner to help him with his livestock.

“What are you grinning at?”

Carson schooled his expression and climbed onto Lobo Rojo. “It sure is a nice day.”

The gelding pranced in a circle as if excited about the chore ahead. Sarah scowled at Carson, making him want to laugh out loud. She sure was a touchy thing, but he admired her gumption and skill.

They rode side-by-side through the ranch yard. A door slammed behind them, and Sarah jumped. Carson looked over his shoulder to see Bess stomping toward them. “Just hold on there, Sarah. You’re supposed to be helping me make pies this morning.”

Sarah shrugged. “Carson needed my help.” She kicked the gelding, and he lurched into a run as if he’d just burst out of a rodeo chute.

“Sa—rahh!” Bess shoved her fists to her waist. “I declare that girl should have been a boy.”

You can purchase Wild West Christmas from CBD and Amazon:

Vickie is giving away a copy of Wild West Christmas. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, November 20th 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.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Another Surprising Twist

My birthday was quite a day. An amazing day. First thing in the morning I went to one of my favorite sites, The Seekers, to make sure I didn't miss the fun they had planned for the day. They had Tina James, senior editor from Steeple Hill Love Inspired—my target publisher and a book giveaway every hour. That adds up to a must read early status! =]

As I read the interview I came to a sentence that I had to read about 4 times before I was sure I wasn't seeing things. Here's what it said: “We are also interested in stories featuring missionaries abroad in exotic locations during various historical periods.” Now, for those of you that know me really well, know that I went on high alert right then. But I pressed on with the article, determined to read it all and leave my comment to get my name in the hat for the book drawings. (Yanno, important things first. *eye roll*)

When I left my comment, I copied and pasted that sentence and mentioned how it had caught my attention because I'm an MK who happens to love history. And writing. But then I sat and stared at the computer screen as my brain went into overdrive with ideas, possibilities and what I would need to do so I could write a historical missionary novel.

Since then I've begun some preliminary research online and I have plans for contacting people I know who might be able to point me in the right direction for more information, as well as contacting mission agencies that I know were in Ecuador in the early days. I'm centering my research on missionary life between the years of 1900-1960, with an emphasis on prior to 1950. I'm also focusing my research on missions in South America, especially Ecuador, but I'll be researching and studying much more than just Ecuador and South America because I'd like to write more than one missionary novel.

I have reasons for doing this. It's not just a whim.
~God has called me to write.

~Missions has had a huge influence on my life. I am who I am today because of missions and missionaries who invested in me.

~That sentence that caught my attention has been sitting on the Love Inspired Historical website for who knows how long and I never saw it until my birthday.

~For 40 days before my birthday I celebrated and prepared for the upcoming year. I was seeking (and still am) God's will for my year. I want His best and I want to follow Him. God is a God of infinite detail and I believe His hand was in the timing of me seeing that sentence.

~For 20 years I've been wanting to do something to increase missions awareness so more will pray for them and be involved in their outreach. Last year, part of my 40 day birthday celebration was a missions spotlight for that purpose. (It's archived under the Missions Matter tab above.) Writing missionary novels—fictional missionary stories—will get missions and missionaries in front of readers.

~I want to help people see and understand that missionaries are real people. They aren't super-spiritual people who speak in thee's and thou's and have no fun! Missionaries are approachable and need prayer and support, but so often we seldom hear about them as we sit here in the States. They're off our radar screens—to our detriment.

In the few days since that sentence wrapped itself around my neck, I've thought of nothing else. I've been doing preliminary research and a lot of thinking and soul searching. When I shared this with some of my friends, they didn't laugh. They encouraged me and started praying. My family and those that know me best (warts and all) see this as a good fit. I'll be diving into research, knowing it will be more than just research—it will be challenging on every level, especially spiritually. I'm looking forward to it. I love reading missionary stories. I find them interesting and I always grow as I read them. The other research I was looking at having to do was a drudgery. This is a joy.

You'll be in on the highlights of my research. As I come across thoughts and quotes that challenge me I'll post about them here. I've already found one and I'm anxious to share it with you.

I wanted to share all this with you here because I truly believe this is one of the results of my 40 day celebration and preparation. Have you been thinking about what you can do in the last 40 days of this year to help prepare you for the upcoming year? The 40 day countdown starts on Sunday, November 22 –a week from today.

Winner!




This week in the author spotlight we've had Lauralee Bliss with Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. The winner of her book giveaway is joann4us --which is really cool since she grew up in New Hampshire!

Thank you, Lauralee!


Coming up later this week we have a double header with Vickie McDonough and Janice Thompson. Don't miss out! =)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wowzers! What a Year!

What a year this has been for me!
As I look back over the year I'm amazed at all God has done in my life. There's been twists and turns that I never, ever would have guessed. Last year around this time my heart's cry was 'Pick me, Lord! Pick me!' I wanted to be used by God so I spent 40 days before my birthday 'celebrating' and preparing for the year, and I'm astounded by God's answer to my prayer. Totally blown away by it!

Here's a quick recap of this past year:
250 posts here at Patterings (!!)
30+ devotionals at Exemplify and At the Well
25 posts at Adding Zest
(and I've been whining to God that I haven't been doing much writing. What was I thinking?? That adds up to a lot of writing, even if it wasn't in the area that I planned. LoL)

I entered 4 fiction writing contests and received confirmation that my writing is in the ball park and some great feedback from the judges!

I did preliminary edits on my husband's book and learned so much through the process.

God dropped a huge blessing on me in the form of the Author Spotlights and the Book Bonanza. Interacting with all these great people has been a tremendous learning experience and blessing for me!

This summer I ran from God's leading, wised up, turned around, and teamed up with Heidi to start Adding Zest where we've seen God working in soooo many ways. What an awesome God we serve! This one is a huge thing for me. H.U.G.E. I wish I had journaled more throughout those weeks before, and as Zest was formed. God showed Himself in countless minute details, details that would've hung me up and stalled me out. He took care of those things in ways that left no question in my mind Who was working them out.

Another blessing came in the form of my tagline, which I'm carrying with me into this coming year, confident it will provide clarity and guidance as I write.

This is just what's been going on in one area of my life—an area that's easily measured. The other areas, well, even though I can't really measure what's been going on and the changes that have come about, I know they're there. I can feel them and I can feel the result of them all through my life. God's goodness and grace has been overflowing in every area of my life.

I have to tell you,though, there have been days during this celebration that were bleak. Days when all I wanted to do was to crawl into my cave and hide. But God didn't let me. I've struggled with doubt and fear and worthlessness even as I continually turned back to Scripture and read about grace and boldness and courage and persistence. If I had not been celebrating as I were, by focusing on God's Word, I'd be up to my earlobes in quicksand and sinking fast.

My birthday celebration this year was to spend more time in God's Word and finish my cover-to-cover read through of the Bible, and I did. I finished Revelation yesterday and started Genesis today. I am awed by God's power, holiness, grace and mercy. These things have jumped out at me time and time again over the last 46 weeks, which is how long it took me to do my read through. And now as I look forward to my next year, I honestly have no idea what to expect. I'm excited even as I tremble, because after all, I'm a scaredy cat. But what I do know is that I want to be used by God. I want my life to glorify Him.

What about you?
What do you want for the next year?


Sunday, November 22, is the 40 day mark to New Year's and I'd like to challenge you to take those 40 days and spend them preparing and celebrating. Like Moses did when he spent 40 days on Mt. Sinai. Like the spies did when they spent 40 days spying out the Land of Promise. Like Jesus did before starting His public ministry. Think through and decide on something you can do during those 40 days to prepare your heart for next year.

I realize we're entering one of the busiest seasons of the year with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's, but dedicating some time every day to celebrating and preparing for the upcoming year is an investment you'll never regret. I really believe it's an investment that will change your life.

So how 'bout it?
Are you up to 40 days of investing and preparing?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

with Lauralee Bliss

Patterings


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

One day I awoke from a dream with the idea to write an allegory based on the book of Esther. I wrote it and then proceeded to write another, on Gideon. I tried to get them published, and it proved to be an interesting experience, especially receiving my first form rejection letters. I then wrote contemporary romance and it was my second novel in that genre that eventually found publication through Heartsong Presents, a division of Barbour Publishing, back in 1997.


Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
Actually I love all my books. :-) They each take on their unique set of characteristics. But I’ll have to say the book that was probably the most ”fun” to write was a novella in the collection, “Puppy Love” (which you can still pick up at CBD). The story, “Ark of Love” is about a pet store owner having difficulties in his life but told in a lighthearted style.



Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
I like the hero, Tom Haskins. He brings to life the beauty of the White Mountains in his paintings (and since I love photographs, paintings of this area from the 19th century do capture my eye) but also, he is not a typical hero with everything together in his life. He struggles with God’s will but ultimately discovers what he must do.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Most would say that taking six months out of the comforts of life to hike and live in the woods would be rather quirky. Which is what I did – hiking the whole Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine, back in 2007.

That's when I first 'met' you, Lauralee, over at Pix n Pens. I was totally wowed that you hiked the Appalachian Trail--and still am! I've been on parts of that trail up in New England. Wow indeed!
Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?

Yes. Writing a chapter by chapter synopsis, especially if the book is not complete, can be extremely challenging. But it makes for a good book later on when you sit down to write it. So I must take a deep breath and just…do it!

What would a perfect day for you look like?
Accomplishing my goals for the day makes for a good day – my writing goals, getting a nice run in, and cooking a dinner that hubby “hums” about.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I am enjoying all types of Christian fiction these days. From contemporary to historical to suspense, my pile is growing as I delve into new and interesting authors. And I learn a great deal as a writer when I see what other books are being published. You can see the books I have enjoyed on “Goodreads” along with some of my reviews. I have a link to it on my website www.lauraleebliss.com

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
A good cup of hazelnut coffee, black of course, usually does the trick.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Each book is different in regards to a theme. I like to write an entertaining book that ministers to the heart. In each of my books I write a spiritual lesson that Christian readers can take away – from forgiveness, to being a servant, to finding hope and purpose in time of greatest need.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
To trust Him in all things, big and small, even when we don’t understand.

Oh, that's a biggie. One that I learn and relearn over and over again.
When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?

I have a three book contemporary romance series set in the beautiful state of Utah coming in 2010 by Heartsong Presents, Barbour Publishing. The first book, “Love’s Winding Path” is based on the biblical story of the Prodigal Son and takes place in Moab, Utah, including rafting on the Colorado River. Sign up for my newsletter via my web site to find out the release date. You won't want to miss this, especially if you have known a prodigal in your life.

Thanks so much for being with us, Lauralee!
You can purchase Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire from CBD and Amazon:

Lauralee is giving away a copy of Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, November 15th 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.

Tomorrow is a special day! =) Hope to see yo then!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

meet Lauralee Bliss

I was thrilled when I saw the title of this week's spotlight, and I asked if we could schedule for this week. When I was a little girl we loved visiting an old family in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I thought it'd be neat to have a book set so close to my childhood while I celebrate my birthday. =] I'm a big fan of the Love Finds You book, so I'm very happy to introduce you to Lauralee Bliss.

Patterings


Lauralee Bliss has always liked to dream big dreams. Part of that dream was writing, and her career began with small creative works as a teen just for fun. After several years of hard work, the dream of publishing was realized in 1997 with the publication of her first romance novel, Mountaintop, through Barbour Publishing. Since then, she's had over a dozen books published, both historical and contemporary. Lauralee’s desire is that readers will come away with both an entertaining story and a lesson that ministers to the heart.

Along with the dream of writing and publishing, Lauralee has recognized another dream in her life, completing a hike of the entire Appalachian Trail, all 2,175 miles. Lauralee is a wife of 20 years to husband Steve and mother to son Joshua, whom she homeschooled. Her other interests include traveling (of which she has been to 49 of the 50 states), gardening, and perusing a yard sale or two. Lauralee makes her home in Virginia in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Come visit her website at www.lauraleebliss.com to learn more about her books and writing, along with her other interests.
And her blog Blissful Writing Thoughts.


Love Finds You in
Bethlehem, New Hampshire:

Sara McGee is not what Tom Haskins expected. The artist knew he was taking a risk when he reluctantly agreed to advertise for a mail-order bride but Tom assumed the woman who answered his ad would be more refined than the penniless and uneducated Sara McGee. Tom takes Sara under his wing but he knows he can never marry her especially now that hes suddenly receiving attention from accomplished pianist Annabelle Loving. While Toms sister is bent on transforming Sara into a lady, Sara knows she can never compete with Annabelle. Nonetheless, she finds herself drawn to the lovely mountain town of Bethlehem and to the artist who brought her here. But without a marriage to Tom, Sara knows she cannot stay. As preparations for Christmas transform the tiny town, will Tom come to understand the message of the first Bethlehemthat the most precious gifts dont always come as theyre expected?


Here's the first page of Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire:

“I don’t know if I can make it!” cried a young voice.

The paintbrush shook in his hand, creating a zigzag of azure across the canvas. Tom Haskins tried to set the brush on the easel but it fell, coloring the blades of grass a murky blue. Nearby, a young couple stumbled out of the woods. The man supported a finely dressed lady who limped along, wincing in pain.

“What happened?” Tom called, hurrying to assist them.

“It was silly of me,” the young woman moaned. “You know the many rocks here. I was looking at a flower and didn’t see where I was going. I tripped.”

“My wife hurt her ankle,” the man continued. “I don’t think it’s broken. It’s all right, my love,” he now said to her in a soothing voice. “We’ll take you right away to the doctor and have it examined. I’m sure in a day or two you’ll be fine.”

“Oh, I hope so. I’d hate to ruin our holiday over such a foolish thing as this. You deserve it after all the hard work you put into the company.”

“Never fear, my dear. My carriage is there,” he said to Tom, pointing to the coach Tom had seen when he arrived to this fine wooded setting, not far from the town of Bethlehem.


You can purchase Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire from CBD and Amazon:

Lauralee is giving away a copy of Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, November 15th 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.

I also have a post up at Adding Zest today for your married ladies. =]
We'll see you tomorrow with an interview with Lauralee!

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