Friday, December 19, 2014

My Week of Delusional Thinking

I had big plans for this week. I love when I get in delusional mode! I get all this energy.

On Sunday, I really believed that all week I would overhaul my website and finish shopping and start baking. Easy-peasy!



Well, everything that could go wrong with my website did, causing me to spend hours trying to fix the bugs. (I learned a lot about webhosts, Wordpress, plug-in problems and a slew of other website glitches! There will be a blog post about it in the future.) I'm now estimating a month before it's finished. But I'm excited because all the wrong turns led me to make a firm decision about what I wanted. 

And the shopping? I spent hours at the indoor mall, then a strip mall, a few superstores, and an outdoor mall. It took about three times as long as I allotted, but I am done! 

The baking didn't happen as planned either, but we do have a batch of peanut blossoms, and I'm pretty happy about that. 

To offset the craziness, I went to a cute restaurant for snacks and cocktails with friends last night. There's something therapeutic about chatting with people in similar life patterns. We all have children the same ages, and we're all working moms. Plus it gave me an excuse to wear my sparkly shirt and wear lipstick. I had a great time!

Seven years ago I lived in a strange state and often drove to the supermarket disoriented. I would think, am I really here? That Christmas season was difficult. I went through the motions, and I have good memories of the holiday, but I also remember not really feeling much.

This year I'm feeling everything, and it's good!

I'm all over the place--frustrated to tears because I had to download Wordpress four times, my theme refusing to work. Or standing in front of a display for thirty minutes trying to pick the best color of a gift, worrying it won't be loved, only to return it two hours later. And then taking a break to hum Christmas carols as I rolled cookie dough into balls and unwrapped Hershey kisses at the speed of light.

Yes, I might be delusional, but I'm excited, and that's the best feeling! 

Today I'll cram in way more than I can chew, and at the end of the day I'll laugh because none of my efforts came close to what I hoped. That's how life is. And to me, that's part of faith. Embracing the fact I'm not perfect--not even close--and laughing because God wouldn't love me more if I was! 

If you're beating yourself up about the Christmas rush, take a deep breath and smile. Just smile. It feels good, doesn't it?

What do you get delusional about this time of year?

Have a wonderful weekend!!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to Stay Sane During the Holiday Season: Guest Alexis A. Goring

I'm excited to be hosting special guests for the next several Wednesdays! Please join me in welcoming Alexis A. Goring!

***

The holiday season is upon us and Christmas Day is less than two weeks away.

It’s known to be the “most wonderful time of the year”, but if you’re anything like most Americans during this time of year—especially Americans who are hosting their entire family in their house for Christmas dinner—you are stressed. You’re running around from store to store, hoping to be done with Christmas shopping only to find out you need more: More gifts, more food, more greeting cards, more money and more time! Your life around this time of year may look more like a tailspin than  It’s A Wonderful Life (classic Christmas movie) and maybe, just maybe you’re hoping to be through with it all so that life can be a little less hectic and you can breathe again.

I am here today to gently encourage you with this Bible-based wisdom which is, “Be still and know that God is God” (Psalm 46:10). Based on Scripture, this timeless truth which is also a song by Christian contemporary artist Steven Curtis Chapman, can give you quiet and lasting relief from the hectic holiday season.

What does it mean to “be still and know”? I believe to every person, it may mean something different but to me, it means that in the middle of the crazy, God’s love, majesty and promises to protect, keep and deliver us are still good and true. Ultimately, it means that spending time with God every day is important for me because He is my Rock and to spend time in prayer and study of His Word (The Holy Bible) is priceless because it is in those devotional moments that I find my peace in the midst of the crazy. It’s where my soul is soothed and my mind is calmed as God gives me a peace that as the Bible says, “passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). Try it and see what I mean—people will be completely amazed at how you can keep it all together and be so calm this holiday season, especially if you’re married with kids and hosting your entire family for dinner on Christmas Day.

If you take my advice to “be still” and “know” that God is God every day this holiday season, I’d like to know how it turns out for you! I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to survive this hectic time of year if you start your day with God in sincere devotional time with Him. Perhaps you can revisit Jill’s blog after New Year’s Day and leave a few comments on my guest post here to let me know how it went! I’d love to hear your stories of how God kept you sane, happy and blessed this holiday season all because you took time to “be still” and “know” that He is God.

May God bless you, keep you and protect you today, tomorrow and forever.

***

I needed this message today, Alexis! Monday morning was hectic with a capital H, but when I took ten minutes to pray, the day got a lot better! I love the Bible references you used. My "one word" this year was PEACE, and I find I'm needing it more than ever as the holidays approach. Thank you so much for being my guest today!

***


About Alexis ~

Alexis A. Goring is a college graduate with a degree in print journalism from Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Maryland. Writing is her passion. She hopes that her stories will touch hearts, bring smiles to faces, and inspire minds to seek God whose love for humanity is unfailing.
Alexis loves connecting with her readers! Follow Alexis on Twitter @pennedbyalex, “Like” her Author page on Facebook, visit her official website, http://www.alexisagoring.com/ and read her blog, “God is Love.”

***

“Be Still” as performed by Steven Curtis Chapman, 



*Lyrics to “Be Still” song, http://www.metrolyrics.com/be-still-know-lyrics-steven-curtis-chapman.html.


***

How do YOU stay sane during the holiday season?

Have a terrific day!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Jody Hedlund's Lighthouse Research

I'm bursting at the seams to share this post today! First of all, I adore lighthouses! Secondly, I'm a huge fan of Jody Hedlund's inspirational historical romances. And thirdly, Jody shared EXCLUSIVE pictures AND is giving away a copy of her new book, Love Unexpected!! I loved this book. My review is below!

Let's get to it!!

1. Jody, you took a research trip to Presque Isle Lighthouse this summer. Did anything surprise you about lighthouses and their keepers?

During that particular research trip, I visited 3 lighthouses including the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse (which is the one that I used in the book). I learned a LOT about lighthouses from visiting them, and a few things did take me by surprise, especially regarding the physical aspects of lighthouses: the steepness and narrowness of the spiral stairway, the small space of the lantern room, the simplicity of the tower, and the stunning view from the top.

When I began to learn more about the keepers, I think the thing that surprised me most was how isolated they were. They had to work long, hard hours and could go days, even weeks without having contact with other people.

A few pictures of the Old Presque Isle Lighthouse:




2. What was your favorite thing about the trip?

I love nature and hiking. And so because lighthouses tend to be in remote places, I've always enjoyed hiking out to the lighthouse, walking along the beaches, and taking lots of pictures. My mom has come along with me on all of my lighthouse trips, and I've had lots of fun being able to do this with her and creating some special memories.


A memorial to the real Patrick Garrity.
Jody's daughter with a statue of Patrick Garrity!

Jody's adorable daughter hugging the lantern inside the lantern room!

The narrow staircase of the lighthouse!




3. Where will your next lighthouse books take place?

My second lighthouse book, Hearts Made Whole, is set at Windmill Point which is in Grosse Point, Michigan. At the time of the story, Windmill Point Lighthouse was in a remote marshy area on Lake St. Clair, a rural area that was about six miles north of Detroit (which at that time wasn't the sprawling metropolis that it is today). The original Windmill Point Lighthouse is no longer there and has instead been replaced by a smaller memorial version in the midst of park. And of course, the area now is very urban and developed.

My third lighthouse book takes place at the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse in the far northern part of Michigan on Lake Superior. I had the privilege of staying in the assistant keeper's cottage there at the lighthouse for a week this past summer. It was divine, but also gave me a taste for the cooler weather of the north!


The shores of Lake Huron! *swoon*


***

When I read Love Unexpected, I enjoyed the historical details as much as the story. They really fascinated me, and I could picture the scenes so vividly! Your research trips sound amazing, especially the Eagle Harbor one. A week on Lake Michigan? Yes! I'm excited to read the rest of the series. Thanks so much for being my guest today!

***



1859
Presque Isle, Michigan
What Is the Secret That Could Shipwreck Both of Their Lives?

All Emma Chambers ever wanted was a home, but when her steamboat sinks just outside Presque Isle, she’s left destitute and with no place to stay.
An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper arrives in town. He’s just lost his wife and is having a difficult time caring for his child. So a traveling preacher gets the idea that the keeper and Emma might be the answer to each other’s dilemma. After a hasty marriage, she finds herself heading to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger. Nothing in her aimless life, though, has prepared her for parenting a rambunctious toddler, as well as managing a household.
Emma soon suspects Patrick may be hiding something from her, and then she hears a disturbing rumor about the circumstances surrounding his late wife’s death. It seems as if her wish for a home and family of her own could end up leading her once more into turbulent waters.


***



About Jody ~

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning and bestselling author of inspirational historical romances for both adults and teens.
As a busy mama-writer, she has the wonderful privilege of teaching her crew of 5 children at home. In between grading math papers and giving spelling tests, she occasionally does a load of laundry and washes dishes. When she’s not busy being a mama, you can find her in front of her laptop working on another of her page-turning stories.
She loves reading almost as much as she loves writing, especially when it also involves chocolate and coffee.
***

Jody has graciously offered to give away one copy of Love Unexpected to one of my readers! Just enter your email address in a comment below for a chance to win!

Contest is open to U.S. residents 18 and older. Winner will be randomly selected from the comments on Monday, December 15 and  notified via email the following week.

Have you ever toured a lighthouse? If you could, would you stay in a lighthouse keeper's home for a week?

Have a wonderful weekend!! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Keep It Sincerely Simple: Guest Davalynn Spencer

I'm excited to be hosting special guests for the next several Wednesdays! Please join me in welcoming Davalynn Spencer!

***

Do you ever wish you could banish the blitz of Christmas? The gotta-have-it, get-it-here marketing onslaught is enough to make a Scrooge of nearly anyone. What happened to the Christmas KISS?

Keep It Sincerely Simple 


Families today have come so far from more humble times when Christmas giving might have meant an orange and peppermint candy in a youngster’s stocking, a special dinner with roasted game, or songs led by a brave soul with a fiddle and the Christmas story read by candle light.

Sometimes I think I’d like to pool all our money earmarked for presents and spend it on a mountain hide-away in the luxury of simplicity. Another option could be giving it all to a local charity—as I was privileged to witness one year at our church. A family with four grown children brought in bulging envelopes stuffed with money they’d saved and gave it to the church’s water-well project. Their faces reflected a wealth of return from their giving.

Over the last several years, our eight-member family (not counting kiddos) has put a price limit on gifts and exchanged names. Rather than buying gifts for everyone, we each buy one. It has become quite a tradition, and as the official name exchanger, I receive phone calls and texts from family members starting in November asking whose name they have! Guess you know what I’m busy doing while stuffing turkey and baking pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving dinner.

When I recall my best Christmas memories, they never involve the gifts I received, though I garnered just as many as most children. The treasures I hold in my heart include the year my mother nailed our tree to the floor because she couldn’t get it to stand up straight. Or the year our Jack Russell terrier “anointed” the tree before we brought it inside. The smell of clove-studded oranges and the way cloud-like divinity candy melted on my tongue. My husband reading the second chapter of Luke to our children, and the year I gave a secret gift to a needy family.

As an author who loves Christmas stories, I took literary license and dispensed with all but the essentials of the season in my upcoming Christmas novella.

My heroine faces the holiday with no money to buy presents for the very important people in her life. No malls, internet, or last minute shopping in 1885 on a snowbound ranch in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. But oh, how I loved the feel of a home-made Christmas that wrapped around me while I wrote the story.

Options for Christmas giving are endless, and more meaningful, I believe, if we can avoid modern commercialism. After all, God nestled His gift in a feed trough, not a palace garden or courtyard.

This year as you give, open your heart to hear from the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Maybe He has a surprise in store, a lovely Christmas kiss He’d like you to help Him deliver.

***
What a beautiful post, Davalynn! I grew up reading the Little House books and The Bobbsey Twins. Both series featured homespun Christmases, and they had a big effect on my attitude. Simpler Christmases are special! Thank you so much for sharing the joy of Christmas with us today!

***




About Davalyn ~

Davalynn Spencer writes cowboy romance, a skill she’s honed since marrying a professional rodeo bullfighter and raising another. Her most recent title is “The Snowbound Bride,” one of twelve historical novellas in Barbour’s collection, The 12 Brides of Christmas. She is represented by Linda S. Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency and makes her home on Colorado’s Front Range with her handsome cowboy and their Queensland heeler named Blue. Connect with Davalynn on her website, Facebook page, Goodreads, and Twitter.

***


The Snowbound Bride ~

On the run from a heartless uncle, Arabella Taube hides in Nate Horne’s buckboard just as a blizzard sweeps into Colorado. Can she find her way out of the storm—physically and emotionally—or will the handsome mountain horseman steal her heart?

Purchase The Snowbound Bride from Amazon, Christianbooks, or Barnes & Noble!

***
Do you keep Christmas simple? What is your favorite tradition?

Have a wonderful day!!




Friday, December 5, 2014

Writer's Life: Candice Sue Patterson

Welcome to another edition of Writer's Life, my interview series with authors of inspirational romance. Today I have the pleasure of hosting Candice Sue Patterson! Candice and I met online through ACFW, and I'm so happy to have her here! She has two beautiful Christmas novellas published through White Rose Press (Pelican Book Group), and she's graciously giving away a copy of her Christmas novella, Silver White Winters. Enter the contest below!



Let's get to it!

1. What about writing makes your heart sing?

Writing is therapeutic for me. I’m an emotional person, I feel deeply, and writing is an outlet for all that craziness. I love creating three-dimensional characters who face real issues and learn lasting lessons. One thing about writing that surprises me the most is that I learn something through the story, whether it’s realizing that I’m struggling with the same hurdle as the characters or discovering something about myself I never knew before. God truly speaks to me through my writing.

2.  What is the biggest hurdle you’re facing right now as a writer?

Knowing what direction to take next. Do I continue to stay at home and write full-time, or work a part-time job now that our youngest is reaching school age? Things like that. I’m also seeking an agent right now, which takes patience. Something I’m not great at.  

3. What do you do to fill your creative well?

I read! Inspirational romance is my favorite genre, but I also read historical fiction and non-fiction, biographies, and non-fiction on subjects I’ve always wanted to learn about. This sparks ideas for new stories and causes me to reflect on my own life.

4. What are you working on now?

I’m currently seeking a publisher for a novel I’ve been writing over the last two years set in coastal Maine. In the meantime, I’m working on the first draft of the next novel in the series.


***
Thank you so much for being my guest today, Candice! I completely understand about not knowing which direction to take. I reviewed all my options several times over the years. I hope you find your path soon! And I love that you grow with your stories. I do too. I'm often surprised by the spiritual applications that pop up!

***


About Candace ~

Candice Sue Patterson studied at the Institute of Children’s Literature and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons in a restored farmhouse overtaken by books. When she’s not tending to her chickens, splitting wood, or decorating cakes, she’s working on a new story. Candice writes contemporary romance with threads of nostalgia. Her debut novella Bright Copper Kettles is available now. Connect with Candice on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

***

Click on the book above to purchase through Pelican Book Group! Other merchants linked below.

Silver White Winters ~

She thought she had it all. Until she discovered the treasures in the snow. 

          Country music singer/songwriter Raelynn Rivers is a has-been. According to the latest gossip magazines, that is. Her last number-one hit was six years ago, and her songwriting ability has vanished. Her foundering career is all she has left, and she’s determined to once again hold the title of “Country Music Queen.” But Raelynn’s dreams are derailed when a coal mine collapses in her home town of Eve Hollow, West Virginia, trapping her daddy and brother inside.

            The man in charge of the mine rescue is Lane Ryan, her childhood best friend and the former fiancĂ© she abandoned twelve years ago for her career. In the snow-covered mountains of Appalachia, Raelynn reconnects with family and rediscovers her musical abilities—and her faith. And no one has inspired her more than Lane. She’s finally ready for a relationship, but the secret Lane carries around is as big as Coal Mountain.

            Will Raelynn sacrifice her title, or say goodbye to Lane forever? 


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Have you read any Christmas books or watched any movies yet?

Have a wonderful day!! 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Two Fun Announcements!

So much has happened since I last posted! I'll catch you up...

We spent Thanksgiving with family, and I ate too much, as usual. Then we decorated our house for Christmas, watched the Michigan Wolverines lose (*sob*) and did some online Christmas shopping. Hooray!

And guess what? I sold another book to Harlequin Love Inspired! It's working title is A Family for Macy, and it will be released in September 2015!! I couldn't be happier!

The good stuff doesn't stop there. On Monday, A Recipe for Romance, released! Twenty-two Love Inspired authors contributed short stories and recipes for this collection, and the best part? All the royalties go to children's charities (Big Brothers Big Sisters of America)! I am SO honored to be part of this wonderful project!

Special thanks goes to Lacy Williams and Dana Corbit for putting so much time and effort into the book. Thanks, ladies!!


Interested in purchasing A Recipe for Romance? Click on the links below!


My story, A Saturday of Surprises, features Chicken Enchilada Soup and a splash of romance with an unlikely couple. I hope you'll consider purchasing the book!

It's a busy, busy time of year. Please take a minute to fix yourself a warm beverage and just relax. I'll even send a plate of virtual chocolate chip cookies. :)

How do you relax this time of year?

Have a wonderful day!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Tomorrow Is Thanksgiving: Guest Elizabeth Maddrey

I'm excited to be hosting special guests for the next several Wednesdays! Please join me in welcoming Elizabeth Perry Maddrey!



***

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment, because if you’re like me, that totally snuck up on you. Every year, I have these great plans about how I’m going to plan my menu at the start of the month and I’m going to shop early so I’m not stuck deciding between a thirty-four pound turkey or two six-pound turkeys to feed the twelve people that generally make up our family Thanksgiving dinner. Every year…I fail. Miserably.

And so, it’s good that Jill asked me to write this ahead of time, because chances are, right now? I’m standing in the grocery store along with nineteen million men (it’s always men. I guess most of the women had their act together and just had to send their hubby out for one or two items.) trying to pick through the emaciated sweet potatoes that no one wanted, hoping to find one or two that are actually worth eating. You’ll know it’s me because I have the two screaming children in the cart, both incredibly unhappy about being at the grocery store when they should be at home eating dinner. And I’d have happily left them there, except my own husband is stuck in the insane traffic that plagues the DC area on any kind of day ending in ‘y’, but especially on holiday weekends.

This has become my Thanksgiving tradition. I’m not sure it’s a good one to have, but I’ll admit that, to me at least, it still kind of beats the one my mom tried so hard to instill when we were kids (everyone got kernels of corn at their dinner seat, then we had to say one thankful thing for each kernel. Nice idea. Crazy cheesy to the two sarcastic teens that she birthed.)

But even with the craziness that has come to define my shopping (and it usually trickles into the cooking and serving portion of the meal, if we’re honest), I have to say I love Thanksgiving. I love that there’s a whole day set aside to encourage us to be thankful – and the older I get, I begin to understand Mom and her corn kernels a bit better. Because in addition to reminding myself to be thankful (something that’s so easy to forget to do when you’re wrapped up in the day-to-day of life), I love hearing other people talk about the things they’re thankful for. Inevitably, that reminds me of even more that I appreciate. And so on, and so forth.

And then, let’s be honest, there’s pie. I’m very thankful that someone invented pie.

So tomorrow, I’ll be sitting down with my husband and our kids, my parents, my sister and her husband, my husband’s parents, and his two sisters. And we’ll have lots of (hopefully) delicious food that I’ve made and, more likely than not, we’ll spend a few minutes talking about the last year and the specific things we’re thankful for. For me, that will include gratitude for my second year as a published author with two more full-length novels and a novella already released and my third novel for the year coming out next week. I still have to stop and pinch myself when I think about the fact that I have seven—almost eight—books out there in the world for other people to read. (And I’m even more grateful that people do read them and, beyond that, enjoy them!)

I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow, full of turkey and pie and family and, above all, thankfulness. And if, like me, you’re facing down a trip to the store today…I hope you find everything you need so you don’t have to try and substitute parsnips for potatoes.

***

About Elizabeth Maddrey ~

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com, or on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+





Releasing December 2, 2014 – Love Defined, Book 3 in the Remnants Series

Dreams Change. Plans Fail.

July and Gareth have reached the end of their infertility treatment options.  With conflicting feelings on adoption, they struggle to discover common ground in their marriage.

Meanwhile, July's twin sister, June, and her husband, Toby, are navigating the uncertainties of adoption and the challenges of new parenthood.

How much stretching can their relationships endure before they snap?

***

Elizabeth, I can completely relate to the last minute store runs. I'm lucky to stay on top of the kids' homework. Forget the turkeys and potatoes! And I'm giggling at the corn kernel concept. It's such a "mom" thing to do. I hope you enjoy today and avoid those stores!! Thank you so much for sharing with us.

***

Okay, what's your most embarrassing moment when it comes to cooking?

When I was a newlywed, I knew nothing about cooking. I once made a stew with Kielbasa sausage and A1 sauce. Yeah, we ordered pizza that night!

Have a wonderful and very blessed Thanksgiving!!