Wednesday, September 29, 2010

with Lena Nelson Dooley

Patterings

Welcome back to Patterings, Lena!

What would a perfect day for you look like?

My perfect day would be spent doing what God had planned for me that day. So I have a lot of perfect days. My husband is usually a large part of that day. Often my children or grandchildren are involved.

I really like to travel, so when we’re traveling, I’m very happy. And when I get to spend time with other authors, it’s a real plus.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
My husband used to be a truck driver. About 25 years ago, he was gone for a couple of days. At that time, I used a pressure cooker fairly often. I had cooked Swiss steak for the family dinner. After the pressure went down, I couldn’t get the pan open. After trying for quite a while, I called the police station and asked if a policeman could come by the house and open my pressure saucepan. They sent one out right away, and my family had dinner that night.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
When people ask me things like that, I always say the book I’m working on right now is my favorite. I haven’t written a book I didn’t like. And I love the characters God gives me to write about.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
In Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, I loved all the characters, but since Jeremiah was the one who had the most spiritual growth, I found him very interesting.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I have very eclectic reading tastes—historical, contemporary, romance, suspense, some speculative fiction. However, I’m not really interested in reading horror or dark spirits.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
Chocolate, especially dark. Or M&Ms.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I write about redemption, trusting God, forgiveness. Things like that

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
To completely trust Him for everything in my life. This is an ongoing lesson.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I just signed a contract for a 3-book historical series set in 1885 about triplets born on the last wagon train west that were separated at birth.

Thank you for being with us today, Lena!
Lena is giving away a copy of Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, October 11th and check back on Tuesday, October 12th to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once on this post and once on yesterday's spotlight with Lena. 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 open only to U.S. addresses. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar, and purchasing, I will receive a very small percentage of the sale.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

meet Lena Nelson Dooley

Patterings

Lena Nelson Dooley is a multi-published, award-winning author who loves to mentor other authors. With her 25th book release, she has close to 650,000 books in print. Her latest is Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico.

Lena has spoken at conferences and writers’ meetings in four states. She also speaks at women's retreats and event of all kinds. She lives in Hurst, Texas with her husband of over 45 years.

Lena’s door and heart are always open to those God places in her path. She seriously considers her ministry as a mentor, prayer warrior, even a champion of the downtrodden, her life’s work.

You can find Lena online at:
http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com
www.lenanelsondooley.com
www.facebook.com/lena.nelson.dooley
www.twitter.com/lenandooley
www.shoutlife.com/lenanelsondooley
www.bustlesandspurs.com


Love Finds You in 
Golden, New Mexico

All that glitters is not gold.

It’s 1890, and Golden, New Mexico, is a booming mining town where men far outnumber women. So when an old wealthy miner named Philip Smith finds himself in need of a nursemaid, he places an ad for a mail-order bride—despite the protests of his friend Jeremiah. Hoping to escape a perilous situation back East, young Madeleine Mercer answers the ad and arrives in town under a cloud of suspicion. But just as she begins to win over Philip—and Jeremiah himself—the secrets she left behind threaten to follow her to Golden...and tarnish her reputation beyond redemption.


Here's an excerpt of Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico:

Chapter One
Early spring, 1890
Golden, New Mexico

“Are you plumb crazy?” Jeremiah Dennison’s loud retort bounced around the main room of the adobe house and returned to mock him. “Where did you get such a harebrained idea?”

Trying to control his anger, he shoved his clenched fists into his denim trousers’ pockets, paced to the window, and stared out, pay­ing scant attention to the piñon trees bending in the wind. He loved Philip Smith like a father, but the man could vex the weather. And this latest idea was the most farfetched yet.
Philip gave a snort. “Harebrained?” He put his rocking chair into motion that sent out a rhythmic squeaking. “Why’d ya say that? It’s worked fer other men.”

Jeremiah tried to calm down. He wanted to measure his words, season them with wisdom that would awaken his elderly friend to all the pitfalls he would face. “What would you do with a mail-order bride?”

The old miner stilled the chair and stared at Jeremiah, obsidian eyes piercing under his bushy white brows. “Somethin’ ”—he smoth­ered a hacking cough with his fist, then swiped a clean handkerchief across his face—“has a deadly grip on me.”

“I know you’re sick. I take care of you, don’t I?” Jeremiah resented the fact that what he’d done wasn’t enough. Otherwise, Philip wouldn’t even consider such a preposterous proposition.
His old friend reached up to scratch the scraggly beard he’d worn all the years he was a miner, but it no longer covered his clean-shaven chin. Old habits died hard. “Jerry, I don’t wanna be a burden on ya.”

“You’d rather be a burden to a woman you don’t even know?” Jeremiah regretted his cynical tone the moment the words flew from his lips. He softened his tone. “I’ve never considered you a burden any more than you thought I was a burden when I came to the gold fields as a greenhorn.”
Philip clutched the arms of the rocking chair and slowly rose. He took a moment to steady himself before he ambled toward Jeremiah. “I ain’t come to this decision easy.” He squinted up into Jeremiah’s face. “I done studied on it fer a while.”

Jeremiah straightened the fingers he’d gripped into fists and relaxed his stiff spine. “What do you mean, ‘studied’?”

“Well, I figure a woman who’d answer them ads in the news­paper must be purty needy, maybe even desperate to get out of a particular bad situation.” He gave a vigorous nod that riffled his snowy hair. “Made me a fortune when I sold my mine. More money than any man can spend in his lifetime. What good is a fortune to an old-timer like me? Won’t never have a family of my own. Maybe I’ll git me a woman with children. She can take care a me, and my money can take care a her.” Another nod punctuated his last state­ment. “And her young’uns, if she has any.”

How could Jeremiah deny his mentor’s request? Philip never asked for much. If he didn’t do this, the stubborn old man would look for help from someone else. A lesser friend might have a wagging tongue and spread the story all around Golden. Philip didn’t need people gossiping about him sending for a bride. And other miners might try to nab her for themselves when she arrived. If Jeremiah had his way, it would be fine with him if they did, but his friend would be too disappointed. He didn’t want to break Philip’s heart, just talk him out of making this mistake.



You can purchase Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico from CBD and Amazon:


Lena is giving away a copy of Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, October 11th and check back on Tuesday, October 12th to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once on this post and once on tomorrow's interview with Lena. 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 open only to U.S. addresses. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar, and purchasing, I will receive a very small percentage of the sale.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Esther 2 - A Beauty's Beauty

Bible study: The Book of Esther

Recap of Week 2 in Esther: It's Tough Being A Woman.
Did you do the workbook? Wow, but it's good stuff! Be sure you do, if you haven't! Yesterday I posted two short video clips about beauty that helps put it in perspective and ties in so well with our study of Esther. Never Beautiful Enough?

Esther 2 introduces us to two of the main characters: Mordecai and Esther. Last Friday we chatted about them some here, so let's press on. =]

Let's start by stopping and thinking about all Esther has already gone through in her life. She was an orphan and when the king's stewards took her to the citadel for her beauty treatments, she once again lost all she knew. And think about how Mordecai felt. His actions show us a father who deeply loves his (adopted) daughter and misses her and is worried about her.

Do you ever feel like God asks too much from you?

Yet through it all, Esther did not become withdrawn or bitter. One phrase we see 3 times in Esther 2 is that she “found favor” with those around her. That it's mentioned 3 times tells us that it's important. But what does it mean? Beth Moore said this: The Hebrew conveys that Esther pleased Hegai and “gained” or “took” kindness. … Esther neither curled up in a corner and passively received the favor of Hegai nor blended in so thoroughly that his favor would have gotten lost trying to find her. Something actively and openly exuding from her won his favor.

Hegai was the eunuch in charge of all the beautiful young girls before their night with the kings. Her physical beauty would've meant little to him, but her inner beauty captured him, enough that he went out of his way to care for her needs. When Esther went in for her night, Hegai advised her, and she listened to his advice—something we see her doing many times. Something that I think added to her inner beauty and made her stand apart from all the other beautiful girls there with her.

The other person Esther found favor with was King Xerxes. Of all the girls he had access to and could have chosen, he chose her. By the time Esther's night with the king rolls around, 4 years have passed since that initial banquet Xerxes threw to impress and win the princes' and officers' support. During those 4 years he was badly defeated in a few battles with Greece and those defeats seem to have knocked him down quite a bit.

So Esther found favor with the king and was crowned queen. Not only was Xerxes pleased with her, but she found kindness with him, more than all the other girls. The Hebrew word for kindness expresses the kind of graciousness and blessing prompted by close kinship. Even though she was beautiful, her inner beauty shone brightly—even brighter than her physical appearance.

Our culture has strangely confused significance with independence and subservience with weakness.
Esther 2 closes with telling us of how Mordecai saved the king's life and that the king forgot to reward him, as was usually done. If the king had not forgotten, we might not have the book of Esther in the Bible! One of the rewards that was customarily given was an exemption from taxes and from bowing down in homage to others.
Sometimes providence can be defined as times when God trumps your perfectly good plan with one of His own...then seems to disappear from it. Take heart, Beloved! He's right there and He's there right!

This week we're on to chapter 3 and our scenario is “It's tough being a woman in a mean world.”
If you have the audios or the videos of this study, listen to or watch Session 3: A Raging Passion for Honor. If you don't have them, you can download this week's audio here for $3.99 and the video here for $4.99. These are optional. If you do not have the audio or the video, you can find the Viewer Guide answers here. This week's viewer guide is on pages 58 & 59 in the workbook.

Let's think back through Israelite history for a moment...
The Amalekites were the ones King Saul (a relative of Mordecai's!) was supposed to utterly destroy, but he didn't (1 Samuel 15:10-23, 30). They were the ones who raided Israel in Gideon's time. They'd wait until the Israelites had done all the work and the crops were ripe then swoop in and steal them (Judges 6:3-5). AND they were the ones who attacked Israel from behind, where the weak stragglers were after they had been freed from Egypt (Deut. 25:17-19). The Amalekites were their wilderness enemies. And Haman was an Amalekite.

We have Amalekites in our lives today. Wilderness enemies waiting to attack us in our weak times.
The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation. ~Exodus 17:6 NIV
God will fight the Amalekites (and the Hamans) in our lives. Leave it to Him! Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is ine, I will repay,” says the Lord. ~Romans 12:19 NAS

But it's not only the world that's mean. Sometimes that meanness is right here inside ourselves! Meanness raises its ugly head when we feel threatened. So when that mean girl inside you starts shrieking, stop and look around to see what's making you feel threatened, and why. Once we're aware of it, we can deal with it more effectively. Meanness comes from insecurity and insecurity comes from pride. And pride needs to be confessed because pride is sin and pride is the root of meanness.

As we tackle Week 3 in Esther: It's Tough Being A Woman, keep this week's scenario in mind: “It's tough being a woman in a MEAN world.”

So tell me...
**What were some of the things you noticed about Esther as you studied her?
**What impact do you think Xerxes hunt for a queen had on the kingdom?
**How can we, as modern women, find favor with those around us?
**What can we learn about true beauty from Esther?

Don't forget to check out Never Beautiful Enough?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Never Beautiful Enough?

Our society is based on beauty, but yanno, it's not just our society. It's human nature. And it affects all of us in some way, at some point in our lives.

We've been studying Esther: It's Tough Being A Woman and this week was chapter 2, where Esther is brought to the citadel and given a year's worth of beauty treatments. In her day, just like in ours, beauty is a treatment--something you do. Therefore, beauty is never enough. There's always more.

I know some of you have seen these video clips, but others haven't (waving to the wonderful Tuesday night ladies) so I'm posting these. Photoshop is a great tool, but we don't realize just how much it's infiltrated our lives... and we NEED to know!



I'll be back tomorrow, Friday, with our weekly post on Esther.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

with DeAnna Julie Dodson

Patterings


Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.
I actually started writing when I was extremely bored in my college accounting class. I wrote just to amuse myself and because I wasn’t seeing the kinds of books I wanted to read on the shelves. I started off with just some loosely related scenes and would write whatever interested me at the moment. With great fear and trembling, I finally let a friend of mine read one of those scenes. She was impressed enough to encourage me to try to get published. Miraculously, the third query I sent out got a request for the full manuscript, and a three-book deal followed. I’m still a little bit astonished by that.

Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
I’d definitely have to say that my most fun book is my current work in progress, Civil as an Orange. It’s a sequel to Rules of Murder, the first book in my 1930s mystery series, which was my most fun book until I started on Civil. My favorite character, of course, is Drew Farthering, my amateur sleuth hero. He’s stylish and witty and, of course, devastatingly handsome. And for some reason, through no fault of his own, he seems to always be running across dead bodies.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I’d have to say plain old inertia is my biggest obstacle. More and more it seems like the hardest part of every day is just getting started. The only way I’ve found to get past that is to just write something. Anything. Being at home most of every day, it’s easy to let little things eat up my time. Just one half-hour TV show. Just a quick look at my new quilting magazine. Oh, look how cute the cats are being right now . . . And there goes the day. But if I can get started somewhere, even if it’s just an insignificant paragraph that links one scene to another, I can usually keep going from there.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
My new book, Letters in the Attic, is the fourth book in the Annie’s Attic Mysteries series, so most of the characters were already created before I started writing. But I ended up having the most fun with a character I created, Officer Roy Hamilton. He was supposed to have a very minor role in the story, but he demanded more. In fact, as it turned out, he gave me a great opportunity to increase the suspense in the story, and that’s always a winner.

What would a perfect day for you look like?
Hmmmm, a perfect day would consist of sleeping until I felt like waking up and then reading in bed for a while. After a nice breakfast, perhaps French toast, I would do a little quilting or cross-stitching. Then, with my creative juices bubbling, I would write (brilliantly, of course) for a while. Once my brain was tired, I would go out to dinner with my family/friends and then curl up with a classic movie on DVD or DVR or, best of all, watch some Dallas Stars hockey. Ahhhhhh.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Oh, I love all kinds of books. I do tend to like historicals more than contemporaries, mostly because contemporary life is around me all the time. Historicals take me to someplace different and wonderful, a place with beautiful clothes and houses and oh-so-elegant manners. I love the classics, and I especially love classic mysteries: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Margery Allingham. – I can’t get enough!

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
I think the overwhelming scientific evidence proves that one cannot write without chocolate.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Looking back at all the books I’ve written, I think the overarching theme is that, no matter how badly we mess up, God loves us and wants us, that He holds us in the palm of His hand and will never let us go, and that He seeks us no matter where we are. It’s something that still amazes me after a whole lifetime of being a Christian.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
I think it must be patience. My first three books came out in the late 1990s, so it’s be quite a while since I’ve had something new out. It’s really exciting, too, to finally hold that new “baby” in my hands. But it’s been a struggle to get things going on my mystery series, too. As my wonderful agent reminds me, though, my career is in God’s hands, not the market’s. In His hands is a wonderful place to be.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I don’t have any information about when my series of Drew Farthering Mysteries will be published, but I hope it’s soon. I adore Drew and want everyone else to have the opportunity to meet him. In the meantime, I have descriptions and excerpts for both books in the series on my website:
www.deannajuliedodson.com/drew
www.deannajuliedodson.com/civilasanorange

DeAnna is giving away a copy of Letters in the Attic. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, October 4th and check back on Tuesday, October 5th to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once on this post and once on yesterday's spotlight with DeAnna. 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 open only to U.S. addresses. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar, and purchasing, I will receive a very small percentage of the sale.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

meet DeAnna Julie Dodson

The winner of Lorna Seilstad's book, Making Waves, which I'm loving, is Anne Payne.

Don't forget to enter Trish Perry's giveaway of The Perfect Blend.

Patterings


DeAnna Julie Dodson is the author of In Honor Bound, By Love Redeemed and To Grace Surrendered, a trilogy of historical romance novels set in medieval times, and Letters in the Attic, an Annie’s Attic Mystery. She has always been a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage, and has a keen interest in history from the Middle Ages to the present.

She graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas and lives quite happily with her four cats in North Texas. She loves to quilt, cross stitch and watch hockey.

You can find DeAnna online at her website www.deannajuliedodson.com and her blog.




Letters in the Attic

Up in her grandmother’s attic in Stony Point, Maine, Annie Dawson finds a stack of old letters from her childhood friend Susan Morris. Annie remembers Susan fondly and would like to get back in touch, but nobody seems to know what’s become of her. Her friends at The Hook and Needle Club aren’t much help either. All they remember is that Susan left town more than twenty years ago to marry a very wealthy man, but none of them is quite sure who he was. And Annie can find no record of any marriage.

The more Annie searches, the more she begins to wonder if something has happened to Susan. Something bad.



Here's an excerpt of Letters in the Attic:

Annie stepped out of the library door, took a deep breath and then scurried across Oak Lane to The Cup and Saucer. The lunch crowd was gone, and Annie was glad to see that her favorite corner table was empty.

Peggy looked up from the counter where she was refilling salt shakers. “Hi, Annie. What’ll it be?”

“Coffee to start with. I don’t know what I want to eat yet, but I’m starved.”

It took just a minute for Peggy to bring her a steaming cup and a little pitcher of cream. “Everything okay?”

“Yeah. It is.” Annie sighed. “Some people just have it rough, you know.”

“Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug.”

Peggy gave her a menu and a wry grin, and Annie answered with one of her own.

“I know, but some people get a lot of trouble all at once.”
“Anybody I know?”

“Susan Morris, the one we were talking about at the club meeting. I’ve been over at the library doing some research. Mary Beth was right about her parents being killed in a car wreck, and I found out that the aunt she was living with in New York died not very long before that.”

“That’s too bad.” Peggy leaned against the other side of the booth. “And she was just out of college then? What a shame. What about that rich guy? Did you find out anything about him?”

“I haven’t found any marriage records for Susan yet. So far, Prince Charming is still a complete mystery.”

“Did somebody say Prince Charming?” A lanky guy in a policeman’s uniform got up from his stool at the lunch counter and sauntered over to Annie’s table. “Are you looking for me, ma’am?”

Peggy pursed her lips. “Oh, go sit down and drink your coffee, Roy, and let the adults talk.”

“Now, that’s no way to treat your elders, Peg. Why don’t you introduce me to your friend here? Not that everybody in Stony Point hasn’t heard of pretty Annie Dawson.”

Annie didn’t know whether to be flattered or annoyed. She settled for skeptical. “Have they?”

“Yes, indeed.”

Peggy snorted. “This is Roy Hamilton. Obviously one of Stony Point’s finest.”

“I haven’t seen you around town,” Annie admitted, shaking the hand he offered. “Are you new here?”

“Just hired on. Chief Edwards was down a man when Callahan retired. I was working in Newcastle until a little while ago, but I heard Stony Point was a pretty attractive place to hire on.” He grinned at Annie. “Very attractive, if you ask me.”

Annie refrained from rolling her eyes. “Do you live here in town?”

“I’m renting a beach house on Ocean, just north of Elm.” His grin widened. “I guess that makes us neighbors.”

“You must be at Mr. Cruz’s. The little house with white trim and a porch swing?”

“That’s the one. And, of course, everybody knows about Grey Gables. That’s a big place for one little lady by herself.”

“I don’t live alone.” Annie pretended not to notice the smirk on Peggy’s face.

“You don’t?” Roy’s sandy eyebrows met in the middle of his forehead. “I heard you were a widow.”

Annie smiled sweetly. “I am.”

“And all your family lives back in Texas, right?”

“They do.”

Roy chuckled. “You’ve got a dog.”

“A cat,” Annie admitted. “But she’s the jealous type.”

“Hmmm. Maybe I’ll have to try to win her over with some fresh salmon. We lawmen aren’t allowed to accept bribes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t offer a few.”

She couldn’t help laughing. “I’ll leave that between you and Boots.”

“Of course, if you’d like to–” A beep from the cell phone hooked to his belt drew his attention. “Excuse me a second.”

He walked back over to the counter to take his call, and Peggy shook her head.

“Sorry about that, Annie. He’s just not one to take a hint.”

“Poor guy’s probably just lonely. It’s hard when you’re new in town. I know.”

“I beg your pardon, ladies.” Roy came back to Annie’s table. “I’ve got business to see to, Annie, but I hope, now that we’ve been properly introduced, that I’ll see you again.”

“Stony Point’s a small place.” Annie kept her voice light and impersonal. “So that’s probably pretty likely.”

“Us being neighbors and all.” Roy took his mirrored sunglasses from his shirt pocket. “If you ever need anything, you come see me. Thanks for the coffee, Peg.”

He handed Peggy a folded bill and went out the front door. Annie watched as he took long strides across Main Street towards the Town Hall.

“Well, he’s not shy.”

“Just a nuisance more than anything else.” Peggy made a sour face. “He’s always asking for his ‘Police Discount.’ Hardy-har-har.” Peggy unfolded the bill, brightening when she saw it was a five. “But he does tip well.”

Annie chuckled, and Peggy pocketed the money.

“Anyway, back to what we were talking about earlier, I’ve been asking just about everybody I’ve seen if they know anything about Susan Morris, but nobody seems to remember much about her. Sorry. I really would have thought you’d find something about her marriage.”

Annie sighed. “That’s where I hit a brick wall. Nothing on any Susan Morris getting married to anyone anywhere in the State of Maine anytime between nineteen-eighty-five and two-thousand-five. Absolutely nothing.”

“Hmmmm. I guess it’s possible she was married somewhere out of state.”

“I guess so.” Annie took a sip of coffee. “That proverbial haystack just got a lot bigger. Are you sure you never heard anything about this man she was supposed to be married to?”

“Me? I was way too young to pay any attention to that kind of thing back then. Maybe Mary Beth will have thought of his name by the time you see her next.”

“Or that shoe company he had. It was shoes, right?”

“That’s what she said.”

Annie bit her lip. “I guess I could search for Maine shoe manufacturers and see what I come up with.”

“But if she wasn’t married in the state, maybe he didn’t live here either. His company could have been in Virginia or New York or Timbuktu.”

Annie propped her chin on her hand. “Yeah, I know.”

“Hey, I forgot.” Peggy tapped the tabletop with one bright pink nail. “I have some good news for you. I asked Wally about the other guy, the handyman. His name is Tom Maxwell and Wally says he’d do you a good job if you’re in a hurry to start on your bathroom.”

“Actually, I’d really rather have Wally do it. I know the kind of work he does, and that way it helps you out, too. But Mary Beth sounds like she doesn’t want to wait much longer to get her basement organized. I’m sure she’d like the referral.”

“I appreciate you wanting to hire Wally. I would like to see us get a little ahead for once.”

“It’s pure selfishness on my part. He did such a nice job on my kitchen, I don’t want to use anyone else.” Smiling, Annie handed the menu back to Peggy. “I hope you still have that shrimp chowder you had on your special today. I need something to warm me up.”

“Coming right up.”

***

The chowder was delicious, a hearty cream base packed with shrimp, bacon and potatoes, and things looked a little bit brighter by the time Annie pulled up in front of Grey Gables.

Alice waived from the front porch of the carriage house and then scurried over to the car. “Find out anything?”

“You’re just as bad as Peggy. Come in out of the cold and I’ll tell you about it.” Annie unlocked her front door and picked up the stack of mail lying just inside. “I have some chicken and veggies in the crock pot if you want to eat later on.”

“That sounds a lot better than the leftover pasta I was going to have. Don’t mind if I do.”

There was a patter of paws on the stairs and then Boots hurried into the room, rubbing against Annie’s legs to make her demands plainly known.

“All right. All right. You first.” Annie handed Alice the obituary about Susan’s aunt. “That’s all I found out. Pretty much the end of the story as far as tracking Susan through her. Be right back.”

When she returned from feeding the cat, Alice returned the article to her.

“End of story all right. I’m sorry.”

“Now I just have to figure out how to track Susan down through her marriage in forty-nine other states.”

“Don’t forget the territories, the District of Columbia and all the foreign countries in the world.”

“Great. Thanks.” Annie sat on the couch beside Alice and started shuffling through the mail. “Bills, bills and bills, it looks like. What did you decide about the harvest banquet?”

“It’s the pumpkin bread again.” Alice sighed dramatically. “My public demands it.”

“You know you could always–” Annie frowned at the envelope she held. “I wonder what this is. It couldn’t have come in the mail. There isn’t an address.”

Alice shrugged. “Maybe somebody brought it by. What’s in it?”

“Let’s see.”

Annie slit open the envelope and took out the single sheet of paper, half smiling as she looked at it. The letters were cut from the newspaper the way they did in old gangster movies. It had to be a joke, right?

There was concern in Alice’s eyes. “What is it?”

Annie let her read the message for herself.

FORGET ABOUT SUSAN AND MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

You can purchase Letters in the Attic from Amazon:


DeAnna is giving away a copy of Letters in the Attic. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, October 4th and check back on Tuesday, October 5th to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once on this post and once on tomorrow's interview with DeAnna. 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 open only to U.S. addresses. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar, and purchasing, I will receive a very small percentage of the sale.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Esther 1 - Setting the Stage

Bible study: The Book of Esther

Recap of Week 1 in Esther--It's Tough Being a Woman the Bible study by Beth Moore. We'd love to have you join us! For more information see this post.

Esther chapter 1 sets an impressive stage. The opulence of King Xerxes' palace and gardens and the extravagant banquet he hosts are impressive. The king himself is impressive too—one of the most handsome men in the kingdom, married to a royal wife who also happens to be a gorgeous trophy wife on top of it all. This guy has it all, and it was handed to him on a golden platter that probably had a matching golden goblet to go with it. He also sounds like a spoiled playboy, hung-up on his own greatness.

In 483 BC, the year that the book of Esther opens, King Xerxes held a great war council in preparation for his war with Greece, his rival. This war council was to rally supporters for the king's cause, and historically the dates and events line up for this to be the banquet in Esther 1. As the banquet comes to a close, Xerxes had one more thing to show off so he sends for his wife, Queen Vashti. He didn't just quietly send a messenger for her, he sent seven eunuchs for her. It sounds like he was planning an impressive, royal entrance, meant to wow the people at the banquet.

But it blew up in his face.

Have you ever had that happen? A big, ugly, public explosion. It's not pretty. And Xerxes didn't handle it too well. Remember, chances are he didn't hear “no” too many times in his life, and when he heard it from Vashti at that banquet it seems to have pushed him off the deep end. Xerxes took his personal problem with his wife and made it into a kingdom affair by asking the seven princes who sat in first place in the kingdom what he should do with his wife, the queen.

Memucan, one of the princes, spoke up with his opinion and rather than helping put out the fire, he fans the flames. His reply shows us that he saw Vashti's action as contempt and lack of respect for her husband and he feared her attitude and action would be contagious so he made a recommendation that affected every woman in the kingdom.

Xerxes, in his probable drunkenness, liked the advice and decreed that each man was to be the master in his own household. How ironic that he decreed others were to do what he could not. Can you imagine the impact that had on all the women? Oh my goodness! For some reason I just don't think Vashti was very popular among them after that.

One of the Principal Questions Beth gave us this week is How might he thought that “it's tough being a woman in another woman's shadow” have proved especially true for wives all over Persia?

Let's think about Vashti for a moment. She refused her husband's call, the king's summons, ultimately because she didn't want to be in his presence. If she had wanted to she would have found a way. She didn't want to for whatever reason.

And she got her wish! For some reason, though, I don't think Vashti ever planned on it being so permanent. She was brought up in royalty. She was accustomed to being in a high position, if not the highest position, and she lost all that. Sure, she got her wish, but look at the price she paid!
When we get hung-up on our rights, the consequences are often higher than we want to pay. Be careful what you want an push to get. You might want it only temporarily but end up with it permanently.
"Oddly, the most freeing thing we can ever do is to abdicate the throne of our own miniature kingdoms. Our status is infinitely higher as a servant in God's kingdom than a ruler in ours."

Beth Moore makes a great point this week in the homework. “Turning the Book of Esther into a gender war would miss the entire point.” Esther isn't about women submitting and man's authority, it's about God's providence in our lives. Even when--especially when--we cannot see His hand working we can know that He is.

This week we're on to Esther 2 where we meet Mordecai and Esther. If you have the audios or the videos of this study, listen to or watch Session 1: A Royal Mess. If you don't have them, you can download this week's audio here for $3.99 and the video here for $4.99. These are optional. If you do not have the audio or the video, you can find the Viewer Guide answers here. This week's viewer guide is on pages 32 & 33 in the workbook.

This is the first time Esther and Mordecai appear in Scripture so be sure to study and learn all you can about them since they have much to tell us and show us.

Something to think about as you study Mordecai: He was one of the captives--one carried away into captivity. I would guess that each of us has been carried away into captivity at some point in our lives. While Mordecai's captivity was physical, ours may be emotional or spiritual. It's still captivity. But just like God was working "behind the scenes" in Mordecai's life, God is working in ours, even when we think He isn't.

So often we don't really stop and think about what it meant for Esther to be an orphan. Her life could not have been easy. An orphan in captivity...

In this week's audio Beth Moore said:
You cannot amputate your history from your destiny. If you do, you will never fulfill your destiny! God wants to use your history--it is part of who you will become. You may want to forget it but wants to use it. You can't become the person God is going to make you without your history. Your destiny is tied to your history!

'For I know the plans that I have you,' declares the Lord, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.' ~Jeremiah 29:11 NAS

Nothing will make us feel more like orphans than not knowing if God is even there. He IS with us! "He is working to bring out the hidden person of incorruptible beauty in you. Trust Him. He will show up!"

So tell me...
**Why do you think Vashti refused Xerxes summons?

**How can we avoid being like Memucan?

**Think about the three main characters we met in Esther 1: Xerxes, Vashti and Memucan.
Do you see yourself in any of these people? Which one and why? What changes do you want to make after this week's study?


*Quotes from Beth Moore.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

with Trish Perry

Patterings


Welcome back to Patterins, Trish!
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.
It really was an epiphany, Patty. I was about to complete my Psychology degree and needed to align myself with a professor for my grad study work. I had started my first novel on the side, and suddenly wasn’t sure whether to seriously pursue the writing or go on toward my doctorate in Psychology. I was making the bed one morning, praying somewhat petulantly about the fact that God had always given me such peace about my degree pursuit. “Why aren’t you giving me guidance, Lord? I always knew I was in Your will while working on my degree, but now I’m not feeling it. Where’s the guidance?” And as if He spoke the words right into my head, I realized He was no longer guiding me toward Psychology. The moment I “thought” those words, I felt utter peace about pursuing the writing. I figured I’d give it a couple of years to decide for sure. I’ve never gone back to the grad work, and the writing has definitely worked out!

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I struggle to remain disciplined with my writing. It’s very easy to get distracted and to procrastinate when you know the alternative is sitting at the computer and filling that empty screen with something you’ve pulled out of nowhere. That’s why editing and rewriting are so much easier—the creation is done; now you get to refine it.

The most effective deterrent to a lack of discipline for me is the beloved deadline. Honestly, deadlines are our friends! Another way to develop discipline is to just sit at the computer there and start. Just have a basic idea of what you want to accomplish in a given chapter and then let it pour out, without giving too much thought to whether or not you’re writing something you’re going to keep. I’m finding I’m more likely to do that when I’m forced to write in longhand and transcribe it later, but I’m not keen on writing by hand, so I seldom utilize that approach. But when I do, my right hemisphere really kicks in—my censor runs off to grab a cup of coffee or something.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Of course that would have to be my heroine, Steph. She’s young and sweet, but she lacks direction and self-awareness. She’s very capable—she just doesn’t realize it yet. I enjoyed watching her grow through her various mishaps and experiences in her new hometown. And I loved watching her relationship with the hero develop and watching her come to the realization of why she made some of the bad decisions she did in the past.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I’m not a terribly quirky gal. But in answering another question below, I thought of something kind of strange I’ve done in the past. Because I earned my college degree as an adult, I attended as a part-time student. So the studying was spread out for several years, and between my college work and raising a family, I didn’t have much time for pleasure reading (as in, novels). So once I finished my degree, I started buying novels for myself. Lots of them. I took advantage of local book fairs and online discount sites. I stopped shopping like that about five years ago. Regardless, I have about 775 unread novels in my library, and that doesn’t include those that come along for me to read for endorsement or to influence or for my local book club or the CD books I listen to while I drive. I still get joy just looking at my bookshelves—all of those adventures my mind has yet to experience. I guess that’s pretty weird, huh?

LoL—it may be weird, but I sure understand it! ;-)
What would a perfect day for you look like?

On perfect days I manage to get to my Bible study first, my writing quota second, and still have time to get together with friends or family members. I enjoy beautiful weather, but I’m not all that much of an outdoorsy girl, so my day doesn’t have to be glorious outside to be perfect (but it does help). On a perfect day we have a nice lunch/dinner/evening out, with plenty of conversation, capped off by a fun film or show and more conversation.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read both Christian and mainstream novels (I always prefer novels to nonfiction), and I read in just about any genre. I’ll deliberately mix it up, so if I read a historical Christian novel about a woman in 1890s New Mexico, the next one might be a mainstream experimental novel in which everything occurs backwards in time. Then a light, romantic comedy, followed by a heavy literary masterpiece. Ooo, just writing this paragraph makes me want to go pick up a book!

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
I used to be a slave to Lays Potato Chips and Fritos. Now I don’t eat that kind of thing anymore (or not very often, anyway), because I lost weight and love being thinner. My new “chips” are cashews or almonds. Crunchy stuff definitely does it for me. I can’t imagine sitting here with a cup of tapioca or a block of cheese. There’s something squishy and dense about that kind of snack, and I don’t want to be squishy or dense. I want to be crunchy!

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
I never set out to write a book with a specific theme in mind. Rather, I design the characters and their setting and figure out what their conflicts are. But as a result of their having to work through those conflicts, a theme eventually emerges. Since I write Christian fiction, the theme always involves God. A few years ago Robin Jones Gunn pointed out that for most of us, if we looked at what we’ve written over time, we would see a particular facet of our relationship with God that He put on our hearts to express. I realized I was attached to the idea of His guidance and our need to keep turning to it. That theme certainly flavors all of my stories in a broad fashion.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
He’s been teaching me to lean on Him about the future. I’m in a position where I will probably need to supplement my writing income sometime soon, unless He has other writing-related things in mind for me. I’ve taken steps toward supplementing my income, but He has blessed me with so many writing opportunities, I’ve had to push my other efforts aside several times now. So I’m leaning on Him mightily for day-to-day guidance about His will. See? My “guidance” theme raises its ever-present head again!

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I have three books coming out in the first half of 2011. I’m uncertain on the release dates for two of them. Those two are Unforgettable (Summerside Press), a 1950s romantic comedy about a ballroom dance instructor, a brash newspaper reporter, and the adventure and romance they encounter between Arlington and Manhattan; and a totally fun, touching devotional, Delight Yourself in the Lord . . . Even on Bad Hair Days, (Summerside Press, maybe in March), which I wrote with the fabulous Kristin Billerbeck, Sandra D. Bricker, Diane Hunt, and Debby Mayne.

The third release date I do know about, and that’s the April release of Tea for Two (Harvest House Publishers), the second book in The Tea Shop Series. I loved writing this book. Here’s the blurb for it:

Zack Cooper tries his best to raise his children, but he's losing his grip on them in their teen years. They've both had scrapes with the local law.

Tea Shop owner Milly Jewel has the perfect woman in mind to help Zack. Counselor Tina Milano meets weekly at the tea shop with her women's group. Milly encourages Zack and Tina to work together to draw the teens back before they get in even hotter water. Milly never thought things might heat up between Zack and Tina. Or did she?

Tina's connections with the Middleburg police department prove a mixed blessing for Zack and his kids. Both her best friend and old boyfriend are officers on the force.

And when Tina's women's group gets wind of her personal pursuits and clashes, they want to help. The group's meetings at the tea shop take on a slightly different flavor. Tina wonders who, exactly, is counseling whom.


Thanks, Patty, for the interview! It’s been a pleasure visiting.

Thank you for stopping by, Trish! I really enjoyed this interview with you!


Trish is giving away a copy of The Perfect Blend. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, Sept. 27th and check back on Tuesday, Sept. 28th to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once on this post and once on tomorrow's interview with Trish. 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 open only to U.S. addresses. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar, and purchasing, I will receive a very small percentage of the sale.

If you haven't already, be sure to enter Lorna Seilstad's book giveaway for Making Waves by leaving comments on her spotlight and interview.





Tuesday, September 14, 2010

meet Trish Perry

We have a winner of Sarah Sundin's book A Memory Between Us! Merry!
Congratulations, Merry, and thank you, Sarah!


Patterings

Award-winning novelist Trish Perry has written The Perfect Blend (2010), Sunset Beach (2009), Beach Dreams (2008), Too Good to Be True (2007), and The Guy I’m Not Dating (2006), all for Harvest House Publishers. Her monthly column, “Real Life is Stranger,” appeared in Christian Fiction Online Magazine during its inaugural year. She was editor of Ink and the Spirit, the newsletter of Washington D.C.’s Capital Christian Writers organization (CCW), for seven years.

Perry holds a B.A. in Psychology, was a 1980s stockbroker (a pretty awful one), and she held positions at the Securities and Exchange Commission and in several Washington law firms. She serves on the Board of Directors of CCW and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.

You can find Trish online at www.trishperry.com

The Perfect Blend

Steph Vandergrift left everything to elope with Middleburg attorney Rick Manfred, who then stood her up at the altar. Too embarrassed to return home, Steph hopes to earn enough to get by until she can decide what to do next. Tea Shop owner Milly Jewel hires her and appreciates the extra help at the tea shop.

Also appreciative of Steph is Kendall James, one of the kindest, most eligible bachelors in the area. But by the time Steph feels able to consider dating again, her run-away fiancé returns and tries to win her back. Steph is wary, but she and Rick always blended so well.

Christie Burnham, the frank-talking equestrian from whom Steph rents a room, and her frillier sister Liz become fast friends and confidantes to Steph. Between the two sisters, there isn't much any man is going to pull over on Middleburg's newest bachelorette and tea shop employee.

Here's an excerpt of The Perfect Blend:

From Chapter Three:
Several hours later Steph glanced at her watch. The time had passed quickly, and before this moment she hadn’t thought of Rick once. Milly and her tea shop were obviously God’s answer to her brief prayer this morning. The distraction was a blessing.

But her feet were sore, thanks to her impractical heels. Waiting tables had been the furthest thing from her mind when she dressed this morning. As the last of the lunchtime customers walked out the door, she sank onto one of the chairs to rest for a moment.

The shop door opened, and in walked Mr. Distraction himself, the handsome blond from this morning. He was reading something in his hand as he entered, so he didn’t immediately notice Steph. Like a flash she pictured what he would see when he looked up. She hadn’t really repaired her appearance since this morning. Rather, she had rushed about, delivering trays of tea and food and doing dishes without a thought to her appearance. She hadn’t even combed her hair. And because it was layered, she knew it could look pretty wild when she neglected it for too long.

She wiped under her eyes for the fiftieth time today, hoping to erase any mascara she might have cried off. Then she remembered doing that earlier and spreading raspberry preserves under one eye. Did she just do something similar? Yeesh, serving food and fussing with one’s appearance really didn’t mix. For hygienic reasons alone, she must have washed her hands and cheeks more times than an obsessive compulsive germaphobe since she saw this guy last.

His opinion about her appearance didn’t matter, of course. Except…well, to be honest, it did. She got like this around stunning men, and she knew she’d act stupid if she didn’t have a bit more confidence than she felt at the moment. He was striking enough when he looked down. She stood abruptly. She needed to make a quick dash to the bathroom to freshen up before he looked up at her with those dark eyes of his—

And that’s just what he did. A smile of recognition lit his expression. “Weren’t you here when I dropped by this morning?”

She panicked and blurted out her most recent thought. “I need to go to the bathroom.”

His smile wavered for the briefest of moments.

Had she actually told him she—

His genuine smile came right back, all the way to his eyes. “And you’ve been waiting here for permission all this time?” He tsked and looked toward the kitchen, as if Milly were standing right there. “That Milly can be awfully proprietary about her facilities.” He headed toward the kitchen and spoke over his shoulder just before he walked through the swinging door. “You hang in there. I’ll put in a good word for you.”

She stumbled over all kinds of thoughts, seeking something clever—or at least less humiliating—to say in response. But nothing came together fast enough for her to speak before he was gone.

She heaved a huge sigh. “I need to go to the bathroom?” She tried to find a silver lining, other than the fact that the guy obviously had a good sense of humor. She had to settle for this: Things could only look up from here.





You can purchase The Perfect Blend from CBD and Amazon:




Trish is giving away a copy of The Perfect Blend. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Monday, Sept. 27th and check back on Tuesday, Sept. 28th to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once on this post and once on tomorrow's interview with Trish. 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 open only to U.S. addresses. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar, and purchasing, I will receive a very small percentage of the sale.

If you haven't already, be sure to enter Lorna Seilstad's book giveaway for Making Waves by leaving comments on her spotlight and interview.



Monday, September 13, 2010

Feeding Frenzy

I love this time of year, but it's a bitter-sweet. See, hummingbirds fascinate me. Each year I put out my feeders and watch for the first hummer to appear and write down the date on the card I have my hummer feed recipie on. (A recipie card for hummer feed—something so simple to make? Yes! Because every winter I forget how much sugar to use.) Then I enjoy watching the hummers all summer. They delight and amaze me!

Once September slips in, I know I have to keep a close eye on my feeders because the feeding frenzy starts as the hummers tank up for the migration south. Our resident hummers grow plump and those already migrating stop for a layover at our feeders and things get busy out there.

You know, we always have a few hummers that like to horde the feeder and keep the whole thing for themselves. They'll sit on top of the feeder and scare off any others that come for feeding. Don't they realize I won't let the feeder run dry? That there's plenty for everyone? I wonder if they whine about how lonely they are or how they never seem to really connect with anyone on a close personal level...

It reminds me of some Christians at the wonderful, never-gonna-run-out feeder of God's grace and salvation. Some of us try to horde it, keeping it all to ourselves. Some seem to chase off others as they come to feed. And some simply settle in to eat with the others, peacefully, even enjoying the fellowship and inviting others to join them.

It's made me stop and think about how I want to be and evaluate how I am. It's also made me think about whether or not I'm hitting the feeder of God's Word enough to enable me to complete my journey well. Those hummers don't just take a sip and expect it to carry them through. They keep coming back and coming back and coming back. They tank up. Am I tanking up? Repeatedly?

So how about you? Are you hogging the feeder or inviting others to join you? And are you hitting the feeder of God's Word enough to carry you across the miles you have to go?


Friday, September 10, 2010

Bible Study of Esther - Intro

Bible study: The Book of Esther

I am SO excited about this study of Esther!

Esther is the only book in the Bible that does not mention the name of God even once.
Not. even. once.
Not only that, but no where else in the Bible do we see a quote from the book of Esther, nor are any of the characters in Esther mentioned elsewhere.

So why on earth are we going to study Esther?

Because Esther is in God's Word and Romans 15:4 says “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
God's not appearing on the pages of Esther on purpose because He has lessons to teach us about when we cannot find Him with our eyes and have to look into the Word and see the things through eyes of faith.

Because Esther demonstrates the providence of God. God's name is not in Esther but that doesn't mean He isn't there. My friends can often tell if I wrote something or if I chose the colors for something because it looks or sounds like me. I don't have to put my name on everything for them to know it's me—they can see my fingerprints all over it. Well, that's how the book of Esther is. God's name might not be mentioned even once, but His fingerprints are all over it.

There's as much to learn about God from Esther as there is the other books of the Bible. Just because He isn't obvious doesn't mean He's not there! He's there, behind the scenes, working things for His purposes.
Studying Esther is studying what might be going on behind the scenes when we don't know where to find God. Esther tells us of the character of the unseen God who manifests Himself in ordinary events. Human flesh and blood may be at work, but the bottom line is that God is at work, and that is providence.
There are times God works through miracles and other times the miracle is simply God working naturally through a person. That is the miracle. That's what Esther is about—God working through the natural events of Esther's life.

Let's take a quick look at the historical background of Esther.

During the days of the kings, the kingdom of Israel divided and eventually they were taken captive by the Babylonians who scattered them throughout the Babylonian territory. It was then that Daniel ended up in Nebuchadnezzars's court with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The Babylonians were later conquered by the Persians and Cyrus the Great issued a decree that the Israelites could return to their homes in Israel. Some returned as we see in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, but some chose to remain where they were and they almost disappeared into the Persian culture. Esther and Mordecai were among those who stayed even when they could've returned to the Promised Land, and, it doesn't even appear they longed to return.

They were far from God, yet God was still working in their lives for His purpose. That offers us so much hope in our lives and in our times! How many times have we not been living where or how God wanted us to? (Are we now?) But that does not stop God now just like it didn't in Esther's day!

Later, the Persians were conquered by the Greeks with Alexander the Great at the helm, and that's a name most of us are familiar with. Esther takes place about 483 BC and covers about 10 years. Chronologically, it's wedged between Ezra 6 and Ezra 7, when some of the Jews have returned to Israel and have rebuilt the temple, but not the walls of Jerusalem.

Sometimes God simply does what He wants done, without any human involvement, like when He parted the Red Sea. Other times He requires that people act responsibly and trust God. God did not fulfill Esther's destiny for her. She had to act and obey. In the same way, there's something God is calling you and me to and we need to act and obey, just as Esther did. God is not going to fulfill your destiny without you!

This week, as we do Week 1 in our workbooks, watch for ways that
It's tough being a woman in another woman's shadow.

If you don't have a workbook yet, you can download the first week's lessons here and purchase the book at the Lifeway Christian Bookstores, through the Lifeway site, or through Amazon or CBD.


If you have the audios or the videos of this study, please listen to or watch the Introductory Session. If you don't have them, you can download this week's audio here for $3.99 and the video here for $4.99. These are optional.

If you do not have the audio or the video, you can find the Viewer Guide answers here. This week's viewer guide is on pages 8 & 9 in the workbook.

The book of Esther is full of banquets and beauty. So, to kick off the study and to get to know each other a little, tell me about the best banquet OR the most interesting banquet you've ever attended. I know some of you have some interesting stories and I'd LOVE to hear to them!

For those of you interested in joining the study, but don't know how to leave comments, it's real easy. Between my signature and the bar of flowers, there's a line that says: Written by Patty Wysong. In purple you'll see a number and the word Comments. Click the word Comments and it will bring up a little pop up screen where you can type in your comment. Select Anonymous if you don't have an account and leave your name in the comment.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

with Lorna Seilstad

Patterings

Welcome to Patterings, Lorna! I've started Making Waves, and I love it! (But at the moment, my daughter has it and she keeps laughing. You're keeping her totally engrossed and loving it!)
Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing and eventually publication.
About three years ago, I realized that God wanted me to take the passion He’d placed within me for writing onto a new level. I’d been writing fan fiction on a wonderful site for several years, but I felt a tug that it was time to work toward publication.

My prayers mirrored Moses’. “What if I can’t do this? What if no one wants to read it? What if I fail?” and I felt God’s answers just as surely. He even sent me dear friends as backup. Finally, I had to come to a point where I said I didn’t care if I never became a published author, I was going to write because that was what God wanted me to do. I developed a new mantra of “God’s words. God’s will. God’s timing.”

I love that mantra, Lorna! Which of your books (published or upcoming) has been the most fun for you to write and which character is your favorite?
I like something about each of them. They are like my kids. I can’t pick a favorite, but since I just finished book 2 in the series, A Great Catch, it is fresh in my mind. It was a lot of fun to write. The heroine, Emily from book 1, is a klutz, and she has these two aunts that are just a hoot.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
My most difficult obstacle is probably doing the immediate and not the important. With three kids, there are a lot of immediate concerns like doctor’s visits, school things, etc. Sometimes I push my writing aside because I still have time to do that later. I try to schedule those things in the morning, but I have to admit it’s a good thing that I work well under pressure.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
Although I love Marguerite’s spirit and Trip’s dimples, I think the character that surprised me most was Lilly, Marguerite’s personal maid. Her dry wit was just delightful and I’m so glad she gets her own book. She’s the star of the yet unnamed book 3. She will meet potential love interest, Nick Perrin, a roller coaster designer/engineer, and they will be in for the ride of their lives.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I don’t know if this was the quirkiest, but this is at least unusual. I went to a small Christian college in a small town. There wasn’t a lot to do, so we’d go “ghosting.” In other words, we went to abandoned houses and scared one another. One of our favorite haunts was a huge empty mansion, formerly an I.O.O.F. home (International Order of Oddfellows). This place was straight out of a horror movie with a tree lined sidewalk over a block long leading to the front door. That night, one of our group insisted on walking around the whole mansion. When we got up close, a group of people ran at us from the trees and grabbed us. Of course, we’d been set up. It was one of the best scares of my life.

LoL, that's good! That would've been funny to see! ;-) Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Oh yes! I dread phone calls for business purposes (not writing ones), and I dread taking things back to a store. I always feel guilty like I’m messing up their sales or something. And I dread housework sometimes. It’s so never-ending.

What would a perfect day for you look like?
My husband would wake me up with a kiss (after he’d brushed his teeth of course) and present me with a breakfast tray. Then, the kids would get ready for school without me having to address any issues whatsoever. The maid would arrive by 9:00 and just smile at the dishes in the sink, and my son would call from college and say, “Guess what? They gave me a full tuition scholarship!”

You did say a perfect day, right? In reality, the best I could hope for is an uninterrupted day of writing, followed by dinner with my family –preferably out so I wouldn’t have to do dishes.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read everything—science fiction, Shakespeare, non-fiction, and of course, a lot of inspirational in every genre. For me, the key is not the genre, it’s the story. If the plot is well done and the main character is someone I can root for, I can enjoy the work. Right now, I’m reading Sarah Sundin’s A Memory Between Us and W.Dale Cramer’s Levi’s Will. I always have one book in my bedroom and one in my van.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
There shouldn’t be. I tried making a rule for myself about not eating at the computer, but I sometimes fail. I love chocolate, so I usually keep it some form in my desk drawer. Dark chocolate M&M’s are the candy of choice right now.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Faith is a big part of my books. I feel like my audience is mostly made of believers, and my goal is to minister to them. Even though my books are historical, that doesn’t mean the basic nature of people has changed over the years. Women back then struggled with lying for their own gain, with lives that are too busy, and with trusting God in all things. I hope my books show characters growing through these spiritual struggles in a real way.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
Right now, I think He’s teaching me that He is the source of all things—including any creativity He has blessed me with—and putting my time first with Him is vital. I remember hearing that a good Bible teacher teaches from the overflow of her cup. I think the same goes for Christian writers. I need to make sure my cup is full.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
A Great Catch will be released in June. Here’s what I submitted as potential back cover copy.
If a never-grow-up baseball player strikes out with a spunky suffragette,
Independence Day may take on a whole new meaning.

When twenty-two year old Emily Graham’s meddlesome aunts and grandmother take it
upon themselves to find her a husband among the Lake Manawa resort guests, the
spunky, slightly clumsy suffragette is determined to politely decline each and every suitor.
Busy working in the suffrage movement, she has neither the time nor the need for a man in
her life. The “cause” God has called her to is much too important.

Carter Stockton, a recent college graduate and a pitcher for the Manawa Owls, intends to
enjoy every minute of the summer at Lake Manawa before he is forced into the straight-
laced, dawn-to-dusk business world of his stern father.  He has no plans for romance until
Emily crashes into his life at a roller skating rink.

When subterfuge and distrust interfere with their budding romance, will the pitcher strike
out completely? Or will the suffragette find strength in her faith and cast her vote for a love
that might costs her dreams?

Lorna is giving away a copy of Making Waves. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Sept. 20th and check back on Tuesday, Sept. 21st to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once on this post and once on tomorrow's interview with Lorna. 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 open only to U.S. addresses. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar, and purchasing, I will receive a very small percentage of the sale.

Lorna is also giving away a special Making Waves Gift Basket in a drawing to one person who is signed up for her newsletter before Sept.30th. You can sign up on her website at www.lornaseilstad.com.

Don't forget the other giveaway still going on with Sarah Sundin. Here's Sarah's spotlight and her interview.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

meet Lorna Seilstad

Patterings




Lorna Seilstad has called Iowa home her whole life. She received her B.S. in education from Lubbock Christian University. After her first child was born, she quit teaching and became a professional wiper. "I wiped noses, tears, skinned knees, baby's bottoms, and countertops every day. But at naptime, I wrote." Today, she writes historical fiction with a generous dash of humor, and lives in Iowa with her husband and three children--ages 18, 16, and 11.

You can find Lorna online at www.LornaSeilstad.com.

Making Waves

Sun, summer, and a scrumptious sailing instructor. What more could a girl want?

When spunky Marguerite Westing discovers that her family will spend the summer of 1895 at Lake Manawa, Iowa, she couldn't be more thrilled. It's the perfect way to escape her agonizingly boring suitor, Roger Gordon. It's also where she stumbles upon two new loves: sailing, and sailing instructor Trip Andrews.

But this summer of fun turns to turmoil as her father's secrets threaten to ruin the family forever. Will free-spirited Marguerite marry Roger to save her father's name and fortune? Or will she follow her heart--even if it means hurting the family she loves?
Full of sharp wit and blossoming romance, Making Waves will whisk you away to a breezy lakeside summer holiday.


First page of Making Waves by Lorna Seilstad

Council Bluffs, Iowa 1895

If forced to endure Roger Gordon for five more minutes, Marguerite Westing would die. Dead. Gone. Buried. Six feet under Greenlawn Cemetery.

Her parents would need to purchase a large headstone to fit all the words of the epitaph, but they could do it. Money wasn’t an issue, and after bearing this unbelievable torture, she deserved an enormous marble marker complete with a plethora of flowery engravings. She could see the words now:

Here lies Marguerite Westing.
Only nineteen, but now she’s resting.
Strolling through the park with Roger Gordon,
Once full of life, she died of boredom.

Marguerite giggled.

Roger stopped on the cobblestone path of the park and frowned at her. “I don’t see anything funny about my uncle Myron’s carbuncle, Marguerite.”

“I’m sorry. My mind wandered for a minute.”

“You do seem prone to that. Perhaps you should work on your self-control.” He patted her hand, lodged in the crook of his arm, like a parent would an errant child.

And perhaps you should work on making yourself more interesting than milk toast. She bit her lip hard to keep the words from escaping. Good grief. What did he expect when he was talking to her about a boil?

“Now, as I was saying, Uncle Myron . . .” He droned on, his dark mustache twitching like a wriggling fuzzy caterpillar on his upper lip. “Marguerite, are you listening?”

She forced a smile. “Of course I am. How terrible for your dear uncle.”

This whole ordeal was her mother’s fault. If her mother hadn’t insisted she accept Roger’s attentions, she could be home enjoying her newest book about the stars.


You can purchase Making Waves from CBD and Amazon:


Lorna is giving away a copy of Making Waves. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment by Sept. 20th and check back on Tuesday, Sept. 21st to see if you've won. You can enter twice--once on this post and once on tomorrow's interview with Lorna. 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 open only to U.S. addresses. By clicking on the Amazon link above or in the sidebar, and purchasing, I will receive a very small percentage of the sale.

Lorna is also giving away a special Making Waves Gift Basket in a drawing to one person who is signed up for her newsletter before Sept.30th. You can sign up on her website at www.lornaseilstad.com.

Don't forget the other giveaway still going on with Sarah Sundin. Here's Sarah's spotlight and her interview.

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