Thursday Quotes

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I skimmed through many quotes before I found the following. Wow, if that doesn’t describe a writer’s work in progress, I don’t know what does? I could be way out to left field in my interpretation, but I thought it would be fun to break it down, and tell you what I picture when reading it. Keep in mind this is just my opinion.

All our progress is an unfolding, like a vegetable bud. You have first an instinct, then an opinion, then a knowledge as the plant has root, bud, and fruit. Trust the instinct to the end, though you can render no reason. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

As I read it again, I thought how amazing it would be to have an artist either draw or paint the pages of a book instead of a vegetable coming up from the ground. Wouldn’t it be amazing?  Can you picture it?

Emerson starts with:

All our progress is an unfolding, like a vegetable bud. That could be your story, as it takes shape, starting to develop as you write it out. 

You have first an instinct–that could be your idea, what you want to write about, the plot dancing in your head, just dying to come out, and be set free.

Then you have an opinion–perhaps that’s the research you’ve done to get better acquainted with the subject (part of Disraeli’s quote from last week) before you put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard.

And then a knowledge as the plant has root, bud, and fruit. I see that as your novel slowly moving forward with a firm foundation, its bud’s are coming out (those are your scenes). Soon ripe fruit burst forth (your chapters).

Trust the instinct to the end. I would call that the impulse propelling your forward. You’ve done great so far, you can’t stop now. You have to run with it, keep going… yes until the end.  

Though you can render no reason. Of course not. After all that hard work, why would you stop now? 

Sometimes, though, your progress may be slow. Try as you may, words won’t come. Other times, it’s like it has stopped completely. You’re unable to move forward. You’re stuck. It happens to most everyone. I’d be surprised if any writer said “I never had writer’s block.”

It’s okay. Think about it…isn’t it the same with your garden? You don’t expect to sow the seeds and reap the harvest the next day, do you? Isn’t writing a novel the same thing? It takes time. You need to feed and water it. You have to make sure it gets the heat and light it needs. When the stem starts to lean, you need to give it support. 

Isn’t that how it is with your stories? You feed it by writing all those ideas. Sometimes, it may not make a whole lot of sense, but that’s all right, it’s your first draft. There’ll be plenty of time to pull the weeds out later. Just write!

 

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Greatest influencers in my writing

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I’d make a lousy police investigator. When I watch a suspense on TV with my husband, he always figures out who did what before I do. Here’s what bugs me the most. We’re sitting there, both lost in the story. I’m on the edge of my seat, and ready to dig my fingernails into his arm as the momentum builds. Out of the blue, and as matter-of-fact as can be, hubby says “Bang!” The word’s barely out of his mouth, the bad guy gets shot. How in the world did my husband know that was going to happen when neither of those guys had a gun?  Someway, somehow, he’d figured out someone else was going to show up and shoot the bad guy. It used to drive me batty to the point that I didn’t want to watch those movies with him anymore. He’s good at predicting what happens next–I’m not. That’s the reason I sometimes call him my muse and often go to him for help when I write.

I’ve always loved suspense movies. Let me ask you, though, is there anything better than a good whodunit novel? I like that no one can tell me what’s going to happen before it does.

Back in the late 1980s, I came across one of Mary Higgins Clark’s early novels. I wasn’t an avid reader back then, and had never heard of her. The back blurb of the book sounded  quite suspenseful so I bought it. It had me hooked from the start and kept me reading until the end. The moment I closed the paperback, I had to get another one of hers. And then, another. Next thing I knew, I was buying her books left, right, and centre. Clark’s stories held me spellbound. I loved her writing style, how she hooked her readers and kept them turning the pages, and personally, the fact that I couldn’t figure out whodunit until the end. Her books inspired me to read more. Oh the many nights I stayed up until the wee hours. 

Fast forward to 2009. I picked up a book by T. Davis Bunn, but didn’t notice it was part of a series. I must admit, he too hooked me from the start with his Marcus Glenwood 3-book series and once I was done, I had to read the other two. Bunn’s writing is much different from Clark’s but still a suspense/thriller style I absolutely love reading. I have acquired more of his books and he’s actually one of the few authors whose books I still collect. Reading Bunn’s books, more specifically his Marcus Glenwood series, inspired me to write again. It was something I’d done for many years but had never taken seriously. I decided it was time I did. 

Since then, I’ve read tons of books by great novelists. Some have left a footprint on my heart. If you were to ask me who has been the most influential writer when I decided to pen my first novel, there’d be no hesitation. I’d have to name both Mary Higgins Clark, and T. Davis Bunn. Hands down!

Who were your influencers?  

Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference – The Experience of a Lifetime

As writers, it’s vital that we deepen our knowledge of the craft. What better way to do so than to attend a writers’ conference and learn from well-established authors. There are so many great conferences out there.

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Those who’ve been to Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in Felton, CA will agree it’s a great place to start. Someone recommended it to me, and now I’m paying it forward. It is more than a conference. It’s in investment no writer can afford to miss.

Mt Hermon has something for everyone: fiction, non-fiction, historical, speculative, mystery/suspense, Bible studies, devotionals, children’s literature, short stories/magazine articles.  There also offer workshops on marketing, social media, blogging, web pages, technology.

  • Accommodations: The cabins are clean, comfortable, and roomy. Not to mention they set you up with wonderful roommates. (below, Frieda Yang, April James, myself).

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  • Meals: Buffet style. Every morning, noon and night, they offer a wide variety of healthy foods, fresh fruit and salad, meat and vegetables, pasta, and so much more.
  • Prayer time: Every morning at 7:15.
  • Worship time: Around 7:30 each evening there’s a general session in the auditorium (some like to sit outside, thanks to the screen and sound) where we sing praise/worship. Then the MC makes a few announcements, and introduces the keynote speaker who, this year, was Glenna Salsbury. What a treat!

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  • Walking trails: This place is open year round and hosts several events from kids’ camps, to teens and young adult groups. For more information visit their website at: www.mounthermon.org/writers

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  • Gift shop: The Mount Hermon Book Shop has a wide variety of books, CDs and DVDs for the whole family, Bibles, and souvenirs ranging from tees and sweat shirts, to mugs, pens, and more.
  • Teaching: I saved the best for last: Mount Hermon has two days of mentoring clinic before the conference begins for those who need help with a manuscript in progress. I learned a great deal in the classes and workshops I attended. They had so much to offer, I had a hard time deciding which class to attend. Most classes and workshops are available on audio at a very low price if we miss them. (sorry it’s a tad blurry! Janet Collins, Lisa Bogart, Marci Seither, Sue Peppers, Cheryl Ricker. Lisa and Marci taught this morning class). WIN_20140414_143154

FRIENDS! Yes, you will meet many wonderful people from everywhere.  Aside from learning, the best part of this conference is the people you meet. You will connect and developed a deep bond of friendship with amazing people who, just like you, have a passion for writing. I met Iola Reneau on my first day and we ‘clicked’ right away, with so many things in common, it was almost scary.

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We heard from the pros in the field, such as authors, editors, agents, publicists, and awesome speakers. And of course, everyone had a chance to book 15-minutes interview with editors and/or agents. In a nutshell, it was an amazing conference and I can’t wait for God to re-open the door.

I have to admit, this trip didn’t go without “glitches.” Going to CA, I nearly missed my flight connection in Toronto (no fault of my own). On the way back, again in Toronto, they bumped me at 9:10 a.m. I waited until 3:05 pm to catch the next flight. I arrived home at 6 pm instead of 12 noon, totally exhausted, but that’s okay. I received $400 in compensation from Air Canada and these glitches gave me something to write about. I’m not going to bore you with the details but I will say this:

Mount Hermon was an incredible experience. The staff was welcoming, the wonderful kitchen crew made sure your tea/coffee cup/water pitcher/belly) were always full. The atmosphere was relaxing, the  food was delicious, and everyone so friendly. I felt a strong connection with several people who I now follow on Facebook and/or Twitter.

The setting couldn’t have been any better. I went to sleep looking at the sky and trees through the skylight in the cabin I shared with April and Frieda, two other writers. I awoke to the sound of the dove, singing merrily as the sun came up. What a quiet, peaceful place.

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It’s my turn to recommend this conference to you. Whether you’re already published, soon to be, or simply have an idea you want to pitch to an agent or editor, this conference is for you. If you ever considered this conference, stop wondering and go for it. If this is the first time you hear about it, take my word. You’ll want to go back the next year.

I’ve been home for over a week now, and I’m still on a high. I’ve learned so much more than I anticipated, and met wonderful people whose friendship I will cherish forever. And I’ll always be thankful to God for opening this door. Now you don’t have to take my word for this, but if the pictures and description didn’t entice you to attend this or other writers conferences, Kathy Ide‘s blog, talks about 7 major reasons to attend a conference.

Blessings!

Renee-Ann <><

Prayers for Writers? Of course! We need them too.

Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1Thessalonians 5:17-18

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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This is going to be a short post (less than 400 words). I sincerely hope when you’re done reading it, you’ll read THIS ONE as well.

Recently, I blogged about Janet Sketchley’s post, “What’s in the heart,” which inspired me to write on a similar subject. It happened again this past week, and I must share.

I belong to several Facebook and Twitter writing groups, and have read a lot of prayer requests in the threads of comments. Some want prayers for ill-health, some for their writing journeys, while others ask us to pray for their loved ones. None of these are no less important than others. No matter the request, we, as Christians, are called to lift each other up in prayer. The best part is in what Jesus tells us in Matthew 18: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Saturday, I really enjoyed Bobbi Junior’s post and hope you’ll join her – as I do in her movement. Writers, like everybody else, have needs too. As you read their books, we ask you to keep them in prayers.

I like to think of myself as a prayer warrior. When I find myself doing nothing (which isn’t very often), I talk to God. Working in a call centre where it’s not very busy, I like to follow God’s command as told by the Apostle Paul, and I pray continually. I pray for whoever He lays on my heart, I thank him for the things He’s done in my life, and that of others. I like to pray first thing in the morning (my day just isn’t the same when I don’t), last thing at night as I lay my head down, and anywhere in between when He nudges me. I love talking to Him every chance I get.

Some think prayer are only required when we’re in desperate need. I do ask for His provisions in those times, but also praise and thank Him in the good times.

So as you read the words of the authors you enjoy so much, will you please take a moment and pray for them today? Let’s all join Bobbi’s movement and pray for writers.

Blessings, everyone.

Renee-Ann <><

photo credit: amorph via photopin cc
photo credit: Curt Fleenor Photography via photopin cc

 

Share the Book Part VII, with Guest Paula Rose Michelson, author of Casa de Naomi

Happy Friday everyone. Have I got a treat for you today. Over the past few months, I joined several writing groups and met many authors on Facebook, Twitter and other social medias. Actually, I featured many in this blog over the past several weeks. Today is no exception. It was in one of those groups that I met Paula Rose Michelson, a wonderful Christian author. I liked how, despite the fact that I’d never met her, nor had I yet heard of her, and without even knowing what kind of books she wrote, I knew she was a Christian. So I checked out her book Casa de Naomi, and sent her a message. And as most Christians do, we clicked right away. 🙂 So for those of you out there who love a good Christian novel, you’ll want to check out this book. Here’s what Paula had to say when I asked her to tell her readers about the writer behind Casa de Naomi. Paula Rose Michelson 1. Can you tell your readers a little about yourself?

I am the wife of Lutheran Pastor and Chosen People Ministry Field Missionary, Ron Michelson. The mother for two married daughters, grandmother of seven, I am a dyslexic artist who Messiah (Christ) called to write for Him.

2. How did you get into writing?

I started writing for Messiah while Coordinating Missionary Church Visitation Calendars while on staff with Chosen People Ministries. I wrote five of the six Naomi Books before God called me to write full-time for Him.

3. What genres do you write? And why? Casa de Naomi Book One - Jacket SM I write both fiction and nonfiction now. Had you asked me before Naomi began telling me her story, I would have said that I write nonfiction, because as a teenager I wrote a weekly ‘Teen Scene’ column for the San Diego Register, and poetry because I love the cadence of various poetic work. Now as the author of Books 1&2 of Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, and with a new fiction, The Naomi Chronicles, Book One, Beginning Anew, which continues Naomi and Chaz’s story, and a nonfiction, How Did We Become Angry, which is the first book of seven in my LAMB Ministries 7X7 Biblical Recovery for Women Suffering from Trauma and Abuse due to release in 2014, I can tell you that all Messiah has taught and shown me has been a blessing that I share in my work.

4. How did you come up with the idea for Casa de Naomi?

I met with a friend who was a small Messianic publisher. She had collected several of my writings, and wanted to publish my work. We discussed a book I wanted to write. She loved the idea and promised to publish my work. During the ensuing months, I did the research for the book. I got delightfully bogged down while reading primary source material about what the Jews who were baptized into the Catholic faith to survive the Inquisition had gone through so I could write Naomi’s character sketch that the publisher asked for my dailies to see what I was doing. After reading them, she let me know that I had begun writing a different and much better book! This is how The Naomi Books began.

5. Are you working on a novel now? And can you tell us anything about it? Naomi Cover 1-e I am editing “The Naomi Chronicles, Book One, Beginning Anew,” due to release in February of 2014. Here’s what readers will see when they open the book:

On Choosing to Begin

Joshua 24:15 “…then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.   The process of choosing, which many call beginning, can be difficult, challenging, and affirming. Beginning is a foundational step in become an individual, and it occurs within a loving family as children become teens and their parents encourage them to begin their exploration of appropriate possibilities, see which ones they will chose, and try to assist them along the way. Although all grow from childhood to adult for some this process does not occur. Whether that is due to the environment, generationally taught fear, or the individual’s own fear is not important. What is important is that God holds each of us accountable for our choices.

We are the sum total of all we have chosen to think, do and say.

Casa de Naomi, Book One

A Woman from an Unknown People

An Illegal Emigrant

Bound by Secrets

Trapped by Choices

An Arranged Marriage

A Forbidden Love

Casa de Naomi, Book Two

A Never Intended Journey

Believing What She Feared

Becoming

Returning to…

Marriage & at Long Last, Love

6. When asked “Where do you get your inspiration,” what do you say?

I love writing about people making choices and what happens to them thus showing that choices can trap and define, or set us free. As Messiah’s scribe, it is my joy to show those who believe a Jewish Christ, and those who do not yet believe the one who redeemed them.

Thank you so much Paula for being here, and talking to your readers. It’s been an honour having you here.  Paula has agreed to do a book a giveaway. So I do each week, I’ll ask you to leave a comment and on Wednesday October 30, we’ll select a random winner. And don’t forget to connect with Paula on Facebook. She has a beautiful and inspiring page you won’t want to miss. https://www.facebook.com/paula.michelson

Until next time, blessings to all.  Renee-Ann <><

Share The Book, Part V: With Guest Author Eva Marie Everson

Welcome back, everyone. This week, I’m delighted to have as a guest, Eva Marie Everson, author of the Cedar Key series. I met Eva Marie when I attended Write to Publish Writers’ Conference in Wheaton, Illinois. I read one of her earlier books, This Fine Life, which I reviewed in this blog. And of course, I was hooked and knew I’d have to get whatever she wrote. And I did.

It’s always nice to learn about the authors we read, to get to know them a little more. So now, I’ll let her tell you–and me–about herself.

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va at BRMCWC

 

 

I came to Cedar Key because of the 2004 hurricane season, which hit Florida like … well, a hurricane. Four of them. Most of the places I went to “getaway” along the east coast had been destroyed or badly damaged. When I lamented to my hairdresser about it, she mentioned that another of her clients raved about Cedar Key, Florida, which is located on the west coast of Florida.

I called a writer-friend, award-winning author Janice Elsheimer, and asked if she would like to go with me to “check it out.” She said she would. And so we set out …

Along the way we stopped at antique shops and thrift stores and little cafes for coffee. But when we turned down the long stretch that calls itself Highway 24, we realized we were leaving all “civilization” behind. And happily.

The road is bordered on both sides by foliage. Miles and miles of it. Then, marshland that stretches to the open water of the Gulf of Mexico and on to the horizon where the sun either rises or sets. Because of its location, Cedar Key boasts the morning sun easing itself out of the water and, at night, that same sun exploding in color as it sets on the other side of the island. Early birds often gather at the docks to watch it ascent, but it seems that nearly the whole island–locals and visitors–gather on the west side to watch it set.

So, I fell in love with Cedar Key. On our third trip, I opened a magazine for a little afternoon reading and came across an ad for Liz Claiborne Spring Whites that showed five women dressed in white and sitting in a beach house. A complete story line flash across my mind, seriously, just like that. I held up the magazine and said to Janice, “Do you see the story here?” And then I shared it with her. These were the Claybourne (yep, I sorta stole that!) sisters … all but one. They live in Orlando, vacation in Cedar Key in a home owned by their father that rises along the marshes.

I took the story to my editor at Baker Publishing Group (Revell imprint) and three books later, we have not only the Cedar Key, but the multiple-award winning Cedar Key Series–Chasing Sunsets; Waiting for Sunrise (which finaled for a Christy); and Slow Moon Rising.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Writing the novels was, for me, almost cathartic. I’ve been writing professionally since 1997 when I started writing for a children’s ministry. At the same time I started penning my first novel (the third book I had published), which took most of 1997 into 1998. In 1999, with a little nonfiction book idea, I ventured into what was then called “CBA” (Christian Booksellers Association Convention), where I met with Susan Schlabaugh of Barbour Publishing. We hit if off immediately and, 9 days later, she called and offered me a book contract.

In 1997 I also went to the very first meeting of what would become Word Weavers International, Inc., of which I am now the president. WWI, which started with only five wannabe writers meeting around a dining room table, is now 35 face-to-face chapters, about 3 Online Chapters (and constantly growing), in both the United States and Canada. In about 1999, as our little group of 5 which had become 25 floundered, I formed “Word Weavers,” served as their president for six years, then in leadership as it became more than just an Orlando-based group, then continuing in leadership when it was acquired by Jerry B. Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild, then took the presidency again when Jerry turned the organization back over to us.

In 2013 Word Weavers acquired Florida Christian Writers Conference and I became the director along with Mark Hancock (who will be very happy if I mention his brilliance here … LOL). Mark also serves as WWI, Inc. Vice President.

My writing life has blessed me. I have always written. Always wanted to be a writer. For various reasons I went into another field after high school. Married. Had kids. But the writing was always there. It was something I always did.

I’ve learned, more than any other lesson, that God’s timing is beyond perfect. Had I done things “my way,” I would have gone to college and studied creative writing or something like it. I would have moved to NYC and become an editor … or something like it. But God said, “Just wait. Just wait and you can do not something like it. You can do it.

And so I have.

 

Slow Moon Rising over Cedar Key

Slow Moon Rising over Cedar Key

 

Thank you so much Eva Marie for sharing your story. It’s been a blessing having you here today and I trust many will also be blessed by your story.

Until next week, be blessed.

Renee-Ann  <><

Father Knows Best: Good Quality is Always Better!

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Dad used to say it’s cheaper to buy good quality items because even though the initial cost is more, they last longer. You may have to buy two or three of the cheaper ones, thus spending more than if you’d bought the more expensive item. I couldn’t argue this point with Dad. Here’s proof he’s right. And this truly happened to me.

When I turned sixteen in the late 1970’s, my [then] boyfriend bought me an unusual present. I was almost embarrassed to tell others, but when my cousin (also sixteen) asked me about it, I told her: an umbrella. Her initial reaction was to laugh. An umbrella? To many people, including myself, it sounded like the most ridiculous present for a girl my age. How many sixteen-year olds do you know who received an umbrella for their birthday? I mean, it was nice and everything. It was a light pink (my favourite colour), and it had brown and darker pink patterns. It even had a zippered case for storage. Quite fancy, I must say. But an umbrella?

Regardless how ridiculous, or even strange, it seemed at the time, I had no idea how much I’d appreciate that gift later on. It was of very good quality and lasted me thirty-two years. I’m not exaggerating nor making this up. Then one day, the wind flipped it beyond repair. And when it finally broke, part of me wanted to go back to my cousin and ask her how many umbrellas she’d bought since we were sixteen. And of course, Dad’s words echoed in my ears: Good Quality is Always Best.

Yesterday, while walking home from work, the strong wind flipped my umbrella several times in less than ten minutes. By the way, this is my 3rd or 4th umbrella since the quality one broke 5 years ago. Can you guess how much I paid for them? Not very much, obviously.

I couldn’t help but compare this with my writing. It may seem like a strange comparison, but think about it. Do we take the time to produce good quality books for others to read and enjoy? Do we even take the time to write, edit, and rewrite? Or are we too busy hurrying to finish the second, third and fourth novels, that we sacrifice and substitute quality for quantity? I’ve read books where the authors fill pages upon pages with unnecessary words; backstory that shouldn’t be there; descriptive scenes that gives more than the reader wants or even needs to know. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been there and done that. I wanted to ‘show, don’t tell’ but went about it the wrong way, when I wrote my first novel. I thank God for my proofreaders, fellow writers, and most of all, Nancy, my editor, for pointing these out to me, and helping me learn the craft.

Does this mean my novel is perfect? No. After a working on a story for months on end, we get so used to reading the same paragraphs over and over, we finally know it by heart. We’re no longer reading the words on the pages, because we’ve memorized them and now recount them from memories. And doing that, we missed a few typos, which, when pointed out, I went back and corrected.

So what can we do to produce good quality writing? First, write your first draft. Then edit it. Personally, I strongly suggest you ask someone to proofread your work. Someone who won’t lie to you or be afraid to tell you it needs work. And right now, after this first draft, it probably does. It’s far from perfect, and nowhere near being fit to publish. But go ahead and ask them anyway. A new “set of eyes” is awesome to pick up some of things you missed. Then go over their suggestions, correct the typos and grammatical errors, and rewrite whatever needs your attention. Then ask them to proofread it again. Keep in mind that these new eyes may not have picked up everything first time around and they might still miss some the second time.

I had at least four different people read my work before I handed it over to Nancy, my editor. Two of them are writers, the other two are friends. Then Nancy worked at it for months with me.

Good quality books, like any good quality item, will make a lasting impression on those who read it. Probably longer than the thirty-two years I had the umbrella. But whatever you do, do not substitute quality over quantity. Because good quality is always better.


My life as a Christian! My life as a Writer!

If someone asked me “What do you do”, I’d be hard press to answer. Let’s see, I am a Christian, wife, mother, grandmother, writer, baker/chef, scrapbooker, and part-time genealogist. Oh, and did I mention I work fulltime 40-hour-weeks outside the home as well?

I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine who’s not a Christian.  Joe knows I’m a social butterfly, but he also knows I prefer to be a homebody. I always did. He says I live a sheltered life. That like a hermit, I’m closed in all the time and I don’t do anything. Part of me wanted to laugh because honestly, there are not enough hours in the run of a day to do everything I want to do, let alone do the things I need to do.

So I decided to take a walk down memory lane and look back on my life. Then, I’ll ask you to answer the following question: is this what you would consider a sheltered life? Am I missing something ?

I was 16 years old when, in 1977, my dad and I watched the new movie Roots: Saga of an American Family. I couldn’t believe what I saw, heard, and how they treated these people. I don’t think there’s a strong enough adjective to describe how I felt. At the end of the movie, I vowed that one day I’d go to Africa. I even said I’d marry an African. God had someone else in mind for me and He blessed me with a wonderful husband. He and I joke about that sometimes. He knows I’ve always had an immense love for these people.

In 1984, my great-uncle, who was involved in genealogy for many years, passed the “genealogy bug” down to me. Years later, when he passed away, my great-aunt gave me all his work. Wow… I love digging, and looking for a link between families. It’s a lot of fun.

In 1989, I opened my heart to Jesus. I’ve never looked back. This is not to say life is always rosy. Where in the Bible does it say that Christians don’t go through trials? It doesn’t. But, I loved my life as a follower of Christ. He’s always been there to help me through the trials, and when wall was too high for me to climb, He led me to walk around it. And when the load was too heavy for me to bear, He carried me… Load and all.

I’ve done many things as a Christian I more than likely wouldn’t have even thought of had it not been for Him. When we joined a church, I joined the choir, met awesome people, learned sign language, and got involved with the church’s Deaf ministry. Twenty four years later, I’m still there, “interpreting” on Sunday mornings for our deaf congregants. My first calling? Perhaps.

It took me 21 years before I realized my African dream, but with God, I did it… and not only once but twice. In 1998, God honoured the desire of my heart by opening a door.  I joined a team of World Vision volunteers for a short-term mission “trip of a lifetime” to the beautiful land of Zimbabwe, Africa. I spent the entire month of July there. But it wasn’t long enough, so He opened it again in Nov/Dec 1999. This time I spent six weeks there.

It was around 2003 that I started scrapbooking. Of course, one of the first albums I did was my 1998 African journey. Then, I moved on to our family heritage album, created an album for each of my boys. Now, we have a grandson. Is there anything more satisfying than mounting pages for his album? I forget how many albums I have for him now. I take so many pictures of him.

In 2010, we wanted to buy a house. We looked at many but each one had something one of us didn’t like. So we looked at the possibility of building instead. We made a list of the things we both wanted in preparation to meet with a contractor. Just a few days before we were to meet with him, our Realtor showed us this house. God has a true sense of humor. EVERYTHING from our list is in this house. And more!

In 2012, I attended Write to Publish in Chicago. I published my first book. I’ve written for many years, ‘just for fun’ but never took my writing seriously until the past few years. I entered a challenge, met the 50K in 30 days, entered the story in a publishing contest twice, shortlisted, worked with an editor and finally published it on Amazon. Now, I’m working on another story which I hope to pitch to an agent next year at another writers’ conference. God willing, of course!

These are but a few of the things I’ve done. I traveled across Canada twice, to the USA on different occasions. I’ve always been a go-getter and when I put my heart to doing something, I normally do it.

Sadly, poor Joe walked away from God many years ago and he no longer knows Christ as the personal Saviour of his life. That breaks my heart. I’ve talked to him about God on several occasions, but he doesn’t believe in what I believe. To be honest, he doesn’t seem to know what he himself believes. I wish there were a way I could convince him. But he doesn’t want to talk about it.

Ideally, it would be nice if he met a Christian who could lead him to Christ.  Will you please pray for Joe? Please pray, since he won’t listen to me, that God will put someone in his path.

Prides’s Run – Cat Kalen

In my last 2 posts, I talked about reading a certain genre for the first time. While I’m used to Christian “whodunit” types of books, I’ve read of the importance of expanding our reading, so that’s what I did. Within limits, of course. Yes, there are some books I just won’t read but that’s another post.

I started with a paranormal. I liked it so much, I decided to read another. Same genre, different author. However, inadvertently, I downloaded the wrong book, thus setting myself up for, let’s just say, something a little spicier than what I’m used to. It was a romantic suspense. Both these books had a very good story line and had me from the get go. Needless to say, I wanted to know what would happen, “whodunnit” and that sort of thing, so I pressed on. Yes, with the spicy one too. You can read past two blogs for more on these two books.

I ended up finding and reading the paranormal I was originally supposed to download. It is called Pride’s Run, by Cat Kalen. This story is very different from the first paranormal I read. Same genre but totally different approach, style, etc.

Let me tell you about this wonderful book.

Pride is a 17-yr-old tracker/shape-shifter who was raised to kill for her master, a drug lord. Her chance to run came when she was sent to capture Logan, another shape-shifter. At first, one can only wonder if she’ll ever trust him. Thankfully, Logan is patient and he gives her the space and time she needs. For now! But can Pride ever let her guards down? Will Logan get tired of waiting and/or run in the opposite direction? Will her crush on him help or hinder her?  Two other reviews put it this way:

“…once I looked past the paranormal aspects of the story, I was really reading about man’s ability to justify inhumane acts against his fellow creatures whether human or animal…”  (very good description).

and

“…Ms Kalen’s story delves into the minds and hearts of an enslaved people. Using a paranormal element she shows the horror of slavery and brings home the truth that no matter a person’s race, no man has the right to own another…”  (very well said).

I have to say I enjoyed Pride’s Run very much and was not disappointed. In fact, I loved the ending, so much I wanted more. (sorry, no spoiler here, you’ll have to read it for yourself). Okay, let me put it this way:

Vanilla ice cream is good but at times, boring on its own. Add chocolate syrup and you’ve got yourself a tasty treat so good, you’ll want more.

Pride’s Run is more than just plain vanilla ice cream. It’s got chocolate syrup to liven it up and even a cherry to top it off. Hey, isn’t that what they call “Show Don’t Tell” principle?

Anyone who likes YA Paranormal will not be disappointed with Pride’s Run. Personally, I look forward to reading other novels by this talented writer. Way to go Cat Kalen.

Next time, I’ll be blogging my trip to Chicago for the Write To Publish Conference, which is this week, May 30 to June 2. Just two more sleeps. But who’s counting?

Until then,  take care and God bless.

Renee-Ann
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Ashlyn’s Radio

I recently read a blog which talked about the importance for writers to read genres they don’t write about. Shortly afterward, I had a brief conversation with Me and Myself. You know the kind?

“There are so many genres out there,” I said to Myself. “I wouldn’t know where to start. Besides, I am sometimes quite picky about what I read. Suspense is – always has been – at the top of my list and that’s never going to change. That’s what I read and write. Romance, humour, and true stories are next on the list. but now, Paranormal? Vampires? Sci-Fi? Forget it, I never read them.”

“Why not?” Myself asked.

“I don’t know. I’m just not into that kind of stuff. It’s not my thing, I guess,” I replied.

“Oh?” Me Chimed in.  “But if you don’t read these genres, how in the world would you know that you’re not into that kind of stuff?” Me chimed in, eyebrows raised, and fingers drumming on the arm of the chair.

“Touché!” I said, defeated.

As an aspiring Christian suspense author, I belong to a writers’ group/forum where several of them are published. This gives me a lot of genres to choose from. So, I decided to try something new. Coincidentally, the week the above conversation took place, I read about a YA paranormal, co-written by one of the writers in the group.

Ashlyn’s Radio by Wilson Doherty (Norah Wilson and Heather Doherty). Here’s a blurb about it.

When her mother is institutionalized after a mental breakdown, Ashlyn Caverhill is forced to abandon Toronto, and the only life she’s ever known, to go live in Maine with the only relative she has: her grandmother.  At first, she finds it Prescott Junction… boring, except for the ghost train that goes through at night to claim lost souls; a rumour Ashlyn dismisses quickly. While Ashlyn refuses to believe in a train that comes to claim lost souls, several unexplained deaths near the tracks seem to suggest otherwise. When the antique radio in her grandmother’s basement comes to life and she’s told that the radio is a Caverhill curse, Ashlyn is forced to face reality and needs her two new friends’ help to ensure that her soul remains unclaimed.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this book but I liked what I read. Once I started, it was hard to put down. Though I know the difference between fact and fiction, it still had me intrigued until the end, because there were several questions for which I wanted answers… answers that came in due time and not a moment before. I don’t want to give anything away, but will say that it had me shed a few tears – happy ones and sad ones – and the ending had me choked up.

So what else can I say about this book? Ashlyn’s Radio is light, yet ghostly, happy and sad, interesting, and delightful. For my first paranormal, I’d say I wasn’t disappointed.