Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas Giveaway!

Merry Christmas ~ a few days early!

As my last Christmas present for 2014 for you readers, I thought it would be nice to giveaway an autographed copy of The Regency Adventures of Jemima Sudbury - Book One: The Mystery of the Missing Cufflinks! :-) Even if you already have your own copy, feel free to enter, and - if you win - you can always give the book away! Don't hesitate, though... This giveaway lasts just until midnight on Christmas Eve! (Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.)

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Passion: Wasting Talent {Part 1 of 2}

There was quite a bit of "buzz" in the Christian sphere a few years ago about the importance of having a "passion." At the time, I attended high school and college, and I remember expecting {and receiving} this question multiple times by a number of very well-meaning people: "Have you found something you're passionate about?" Or, the variation when I explained what I {thought} my career would be: "As long as God has given you a passion for it, that's great!"

I admit, I've caught myself saying something similar at times to others... and suffering from the guilty conscience that resulted.

I think this idea of a "passion" is usually well-meant: We mean that if God puts a desire in your heart for a goal or work, that's probably His stamp of approval on it. We mean that if God gives a particular talent, "dream," or ability to us, we should spend all of our energy on doing everything possible to make that God-given "passion" flare into life.

It makes sense, doesn't it? After all, why would God permit us to have a gift, a vision, a goal... and not want us to exploit it to the fullest of our abilities? Especially if we are doing it "for Him?"

But that puts the focus where it shouldn't be - on us and on that desire - and makes us miss the true point of our lives: to be a living sacrifice in whatever area God places us in, regardless of whether we "feel" a passion for it.

At one time, I felt deep regret that I was not doing what I was "passionate" about... what I had been told by accomplished  professionals that I was "gifted" in... what I built altars to in my heart and worshiped. That dissatisfaction poisoned the joy that I had in serving God where He had chosen to place me at that time.

I regret that regret, that discontent, that feeling that "my" talent was being wasted.

For it wasn't wasted. It was no more wasted than Jesus' probable skill in carpentry was "wasted"
when He set aside his hammer and awl, took up the staff of a wanderer with no place to lay His head, and became a theological teacher, an occupation for which the men of His day declared Him dismally unqualified {John 8:41}. It was no more wasted than Jesus' Kingship in heaven was wasted when He took on human flesh and became filled with the holy zeal of redemption.

No more wasted than Oswald Chamber's distinct artistic talent was "wasted" when he refused a European art scholarship and instead went to teach at an insignificant seminary... for years.

No more wasted than Amy Carmichael's gift of teaching was "wasted" when she decided to go as a missionary to India instead of staying to further her significant ministry to the slum-girls in Ireland.

No more wasted than Adoniram Judson's first wife Ann, who poured out her life in Burma for a few short years before slipping into an early grave. I wonder, what gifts - what talents - what passions did Ann Judson have? What "good things" did she plunge the knife into and kill on the altar of her heart?

For God will have no rivals for our affections, for our life's purpose. For our passion.

He - He alone - must become our life's Purpose - our Affection - "our Exceedingly Great Reward." {Genesis 15:1}

The point of our lives is, so very simply, Christ, isn't it?  As Paul says, "That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death." {Philippians 3:10}

And the Psalmist: "One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple." {Psalm 27:4}

A broken ALTAR, Lord, thy servant rears,
Made of a heart and cemented with tears;
Whose parts are as thy hand did frame;
No workman's tool hath touch'd the same.
A HEART alone
Is such a stone,
As nothing but
Thy pow'r doth cut.
Wherefore each part
Of my hard heart
Meets in this frame
To praise thy name.
That if I chance to hold my peace,
These stones to praise thee may not cease.
Oh, let thy blessed SACRIFICE be mine,
And sanctify this ALTAR to be thine.

- George Herbert {emphasis his}

Food for Thought: How does this play out in your life, dear reader? Do you have a "passion" you have allowed to become the focus of your life?

Next Week: Part 2 of Passion - When God Gives the Desire and Other Thoughts

I might share this post with these blogs: Strangers and Pilgrims, The Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, Yes They Are All Ours, Missional Call, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, So Much at Home, Raising Homemakers, Hope in Every SeasonA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, A Soft Gentle Voice, My Daily Walk in His Grace, Messy Marriage, My Teacher's Name is Mama, The Charm of Home, Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Mittenstate Sheep and Wool, Imparting Grace, Homestead Lady, Deborah Jean's Dandelion House, Preparedness Mama, A Look at the Book, Essential Thing Devotions, Count My Blessings, Beauty Observed, Christian Mommy Blogger, Serenity You, Renewed Daily, Sunday Stillness, The Beauty in His Grip, Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Behind the Scenes: The Cover Shoot for Jemima

{My apologies to those of you who have been waiting for this post... I got a bit behind this weekend and couldn't post before now!}

The cover shoot for The Regency Adventures of Jemima Sudbury: Book One - The Mystery of the Missing Cufflinks

My sweet {and most patient!} eldest niece, Betsy

Various public parks, streets, backyards, and stables {yes, more than one!} in Rhode Island.

We knew the feeling we wanted for the cover - one of mystery, suspense, but not too scary! And we also wanted a few other pictures for back-of-the-book and publicity options. So, with a little mapping out of our route, we went...

Trying many different poses...

We dubbed this "Mosquito Glen"... Even though it was still late afternoon, they ate us alive. Welcome to RI. ;-)

A Margaret-Dashwood-inspired pose. 

We found this GIGANTIC tree in an obliging backyard!  

After several hours, Betsy is still smiling!

The next day, we headed off to some local stables, where we found a very gentle...

Very large...

horse! :-) And some beautiful roses...

planted right next to the stable. What blessing the Lord brings unexpectedly into our paths!

We next moved onto a different stable with a very old {around 100 years}, but in very good repair, barn.

It was absolutely perfect, and the employee who helped us there in the enormous hay loft was fantastic, especially considering that it was one of the hottest days of the summer!

Speaking of heat, Betsy was certainly a trooper... She's wearing thick white sweater tights for the sake of authenticity!

And here's the finished cover:

I hope you enjoyed a peek behind the scenes!

Grace and peace,

Find Book One of The Regency Adventures of Jemima Sudbury: The Mystery of the Missing Cufflinks on Amazon:

I might share this post with these blogs: Strangers and Pilgrims, The Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, Yes They Are All Ours, Missional Call, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, So Much at Home, Raising Homemakers, Hope in Every SeasonA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, A Soft Gentle Voice, My Daily Walk in His Grace, Messy Marriage, My Teacher's Name is Mama, The Charm of Home, Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Mittenstate Sheep and Wool, Imparting Grace, Homestead Lady, Deborah Jean's Dandelion House, Preparedness Mama, A Look at the Book, Essential Thing Devotions, Count My Blessings, Beauty Observed, Christian Mommy Blogger, Serenity You, Renewed Daily, Sunday Stillness, The Beauty in His Grip, Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Announcing the Winner of the Giveaway for The Fragrance of Geraniums!


 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 136:1 kjv

And we have the winner of a copy of 

The Regency Adventure of Jemima Sudbury: Book One - The Mystery of the Missing Cufflinks officially releases TODAY! :-)

Click here to find it on Amazon in both KINDLE and PAPERBACK:


For those of you who were hoping to win a copy of THE FRAGRANCE OF GERANIUMS, but didn't...
the KINDLE version is a Thanksgiving Thursday/Black Friday special on Amazon (saving you 66% off its usual $2.99 price).
Click here for the direct link:
(check the price before purchasing)

Have a wonderfully blessed day in our Saviour and Lord!

Grace and peace,

*Winner has been contacted.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Another Book?! Surprise!!!

Some of you who follow me on Facebook have been wondering what I've been working on this past week -- I've been dropping hints, teasing away, and just plain having fun with you as I prepared for this announcement! :-)

You might recall a few posts last spring/summer about how I was working on a Regency (think early 19th century/Jane Austen) book for middle-grade {9-12-year-old} girls. Well, it's ready to be revealed!

This holiday season, I am so excited to have you meet JEMIMA SUDBURY, an eleven-year-old spunky girl from the fictional town of Brooksford.

My goals in writing the series "The Regency Adventures of Jemima Sudbury" are:
1. To introduce middle-grade girls to how life really might have been for historical children their own age through age-appropriate literature. All efforts have been made to ensure historical authenticity.
2. To affirm the Christian values of their families
3. To inspire wholesome imagination and creativity.

AND HERE IS THE COVER - featuring my favorite eldest niece! :-) {More on its creation to come soon!}



I'm so excited to share yet another tale with you - and this time, with your children, too!

{If you're too excited to wait, here's the Kindle pre-order link: http://amzn.com/B00PXB7X60}

Grace and peace,

{I might share this post with these blogs: Strangers and Pilgrims, The Modest MomWhat Joy is Mine, Yes They Are All Ours, Missional Call, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, So Much at Home, Raising Homemakers, Hope in Every SeasonA Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, A Soft Gentle Voice, My Daily Walk in His Grace, Messy Marriage, My Teacher's Name is Mama, The Charm of Home, Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Mittenstate Sheep and Wool, Imparting Grace, Homestead Lady, Deborah Jean's Dandelion House, Preparedness Mama, A Look at the Book, Essential Thing Devotions, Count My Blessings, Beauty Observed, Christian Mommy Blogger, Serenity You, Renewed Daily, Sunday Stillness, The Beauty in His Grip, Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom.}

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Release Day! THE FRAGRANCE OF GERANIUMS Hits the {Virtual} Shelves!

Here it is, in all its God-given glory! Today is the official RELEASE DAY for The Fragrance of Geraniums!
May you enjoy it, be edified, and may our Lord be loved and worshipped more fully through this novel.

This book is available on Kindle and in paperback on Amazon.
There's a Giveaway!
Feel free to SHARE the news!
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Friday, November 7, 2014

To Whet Your Appetite: An Excerpt from The Fragrance of Geraniums

The Fragrance of Geraniums releases on Kindle and in paperback in precisely one week, folks! Thanks for all the encouragement many of you send my way via e-mail and messages - Your words are truly refreshing as I persevere through the work necessary to turn this story into a book. :-)

I thought you might enjoy a taste-test today... I'm posting an excerpt to whet your appetite. Enjoy, and I'll be back in a few days with news of a giveaway! :-)

------------------------------------------------------------------------beginning of excerpt
...Midnight had come and gone before Grace heard the kitchen door open and shut. The elderly doorknob squeaked in weak protest as it locked.


Grace propped herself up on her elbows, listening for his footfalls on the stair. Her bedroom – well, hers and Lou’s and Nancy’s and Evelyn’s – lay just to the top of the curving staircase, and Grace had made sure to leave the door open just a crack before she’d turned out the light.

The heavy scuff of his boots sounded on the wood. Grace slid her legs from under the covers and felt the chill of the September night settle over her. But no matter. She needed to talk to Ben, needed to know the truth… if he’d discovered it.

A glance at Lou and Nancy’s bed told her that the twins slept soundly, tired out, no doubt, from their soda-fountain dates. Lou had taken the time before bed to put her hair up in rags; tonight, she might look like a sheepdog, but in the morning, Grace knew her older sister would have an enviable head of glossy curls – her consolation for not being born a true blonde.

And Evelyn. She curled up like a flower on the other half of Grace’s narrow bed, the petals of her white nightgown billowed around her. The twelve-year-old’s pink mouth hung open in the sweet rest of childhood, her face a mask of peace. Fleetingly, jealousy stabbed at Grace. She couldn’t remember when she’d felt so tranquil. Biting her lip, Grace turned to the door and eased it open.

No light shone in the hallway except for Ben’s flashlight. He must have heard something, carefully quiet though Grace had been. The flashlight’s beam turned toward her, blinding her momentarily with its brilliance. As her eyes adjusted, she saw Ben’s face relax.

“Grace,” he whispered. “What are you doing up? It’s past midnight, don’t you know.” He stood, broad shoulders bowed a little, arms hanging by his sides. His voice held the weariness of an old dog, too arthritic to chase another squirrel, wanting only a soft square of bedding upon which to lay his gray muzzle.

Grace stepped out gingerly into the hallway, chillier than her bedroom. “You went to Uncle Jack’s,” she stated softly, shivering. Her eyes went to his, open and pleading with him to tell her, to do no more lying than had already been done, was done each day, in their home.

He met her gaze honestly, albeit reluctantly. “Yep. I did,” he said and turned his face away. The harsh scent of brandy bit at Grace’s senses, bringing with it a breath of fear.

There was silence for a moment. Then Grace compelled herself to speak again. “You been there all this time, Ben?”

He drew in a breath through his nostrils, tightening the corners of his mouth. “No, Grace. I went for a drink afterward. Had to cool off, ya know.”

He’d gotten into a fight with Papa, then. She’d known that he would, and Mama had, too. Ben must have found what was going on with their father, what Mama and Aunt Mary Evelyn whispered about on the telephone every morning, Mama’s voice a fluttering, torn-winged moth.

She laid a hand, small and quivering, on Ben’s brawny forearm. “Ben,” she whispered, “what is it? What’s going on?”

He turned his face back toward her, and she could see the hurt ringed by bitterness in the crinkles of his eyes. “Oh, little canary-bird,” he murmured, “what is going on?” He let out his breath in a booze-tinged puff. “God help us, I wish I knew.”

Grace started back. “But… Uncle Jack’s… Papa…” She couldn’t finish the sentences.

Ben’s lips curled up. “Oh, yeah, I know the facts. You want those?”

She nodded, desperate.

He studied her a moment, then said, “You always were ahead of the game, kid. Why not here, too?” He motioned with his grizzled jaw toward the stairway. “Grab your sweater. I’ll meet you out at the barn. Can’t risk Mama hearing us.”

Relief flooded through Grace’s limbs. “I’ll be right there,” she promised, almost happy to finally have some answers, terrible though they might be.

“Alright.” Ben handed her the flashlight. “Here, take this. You’ll need it. It’s dark out tonight.” He turned and disappeared down the stair without another word.

Grace clicked the flashlight off to save the battery and set it down outside the doorway while she entered the bedroom to retrieve her thickest sweater. Having done that, she picked up the flashlight again but didn’t turn it on. Her bare feet picked their way down the pitch-black stair, guided by many nights’ experience.

Turning on the flashlight, Grace threaded her way around the dining room table and past the looming grandfather clock, ticking the minutes of her life away on its impassive ivory face. When she was just a child, Grace had shuddered to pass the towering clock in the evening, sure that he – it, rather – would reach forward with concealed arms and grab her. He – it – would open its long front and pull her inside, consuming her in the darkness. Now, however, Grace was fifteen, nearly sixteen. Certainly no child, regardless of what Lou and Nancy said. So, she raised her chin and passed the clock without a shudder.


The dirt path gleamed clearly beneath the full moon’s gaze as Grace dashed from the back door to the barn. She caught sight of an owl swooping down in the meadow beyond the out-buildings; it caught hold of its helpless prey. A shiver ran through her body, adding more speed to her already-flying bare feet.

When she eased open the barn door, its hinge squeaked so slightly but sounded awfully loud in the silent night.

Ben sat on a hay bale, smoking a cigarette.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------end of excerpt
Do you have friends who would like/benefit from my work? You can invited them to like my author page here so that they can receive updates: Alicia's Facebook Page
Thanks for reading today!
Grace and peace,

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Cover Reveal for The Fragrance of Geraniums

And it's here!

Sharing with you all today the beautiful, oh-so-fitting cover for The Fragrance of Geraniums... My thanks to Rachel Rossano of Rossano Designs for her lovely, meticulous work.


You may also wish to head over to my author Facebook page today... I'm giving away a paperback or Kindle copy (your choice!) to one randomly-selected person who shares my cover reveal Facebook post today! :-) Click here: Alicia's Author Page



Friday, October 31, 2014

Release Date, New Pinnables, and Lots of Thanksgiving!

Well, friends, I have been busy as a proverbial beaver this week, plugging away steadily to get this book out to you this fall.

This past week, I've formatted, proofed, re-formatted, re-proofed, re-formatted, and... I can safely let you in on the RELEASE DATE for THE FRAGRANCE OF GERANIUMS! I'm so thankful to the Lord for giving me a tremendous family who encourage and enable my writing... So thankful to the Lord God that He gives me the wisdom to know how to best revise and that He makes all thing beautiful in His time. :-)

So, without further ado, the release date for THE FRAGRANCE OF GERANIUMS, roughly categorized as historical women's fiction, is:


Please tell your friends - Spread the word - And PIN AWAY :-) all these beautiful PINNABLES that announce the release date AND showcase a quote from the novel:


Friday, October 24, 2014

How the Novel Found its Name, Part 2

As I related in my last post, the phrase, "scent of geraniums," has long held a place in my mind... and I was pretty certain that someday I would write a book with just that title: The Scent of Geraniums.

Images usually come first for me when I'm thinking of a new story to write, and this time was no exception:

Geraniums, hanging on a white-beamed porch in the autumn sunlight.

Geraniums, nestled closely together on card-tables in an upstairs room - dark with books and dust.

A piano found its way into that room, as well.

And a dark-haired woman whose fingers danced across the keys as she played hymns.

Another woman, too, but this one entered the story via an old photograph from the 1930s - a bob-haired middle-aged woman, standing between two of her sons - poor, oh-so-very-poor... She could no longer remember a time of real happiness, though she had a worn-out smile pasted on her lips.

And a girl... a teenager wearing a tattered cardigan and flopping shoes... mesmerized by the geraniums on that dark-haired woman's porch.

So the images came together... The plot formed... And three-quarters of the way through, I wasn't quite sure that "The Scent of Geraniums" was the perfect title anymore.

The book had become about so much more, and I wanted the title to convey that, somehow.

So, I played around with words, writing down everything-everything-everything that had anything remotely to do with the book's story, theme, characters, etc.  I ended up with about two dozen real possibilities for a title. Yes, that's right: Two dozen.

After a couple of weeks of tossing the titles over and over, I gave the list to five people and asked them to circle the top three titles that captured their interest - without knowing what anyone else chose. I would pick whatever title rose to the top.

So I thought.

Turns out, when you give a list of two dozen titles to five people, you get very little agreement!

And the choice reverted to me again. I considered The Scent of Geraniums again as the title. But then two people told me it reminded them immediately of a strange movie by a similar name with a different object-of-the-preposition. :-)

Time for a synonym search: And there popped up "fragrance."

Hmm... And that reminded me so strongly of the passage in the Gospels in which the woman pours a jar of expensive perfume over Jesus' feet and wipes them with her hair. And it says, "The fragrance filled the room." {John 12}

And that's what The Fragrance of Geraniums is about: the grace of emptiness before a Lord who suffered in our stead... and the real hope with which He fills us.

So, "The Scent of Geraniums" became The Fragrance of Geraniums.

And I thank the Lord for providing such a fitting name for this story, in just the right time.

If you'd like to see more pictures that have guided/inspired my storytelling journey this time around, I invite you to check out my Pinterest board for The Fragrance of Geraniums... I'm still adding to it, so feel free to follow the board to keep up-to-date. :) Just click on the widget below, and you'll be taken there:

Grace and peace,

Friday, October 17, 2014

How the Novel Found its Name

My stories usually have titles before they possess a fully-fleshed-out plot. That certainly was the case for this latest one: The Fragrance of Geraniums, releasing in mid-November, Lord willing! :-) Yet that title has evolved since the story's inception...

Do you know what geraniums smell like?

When I was a very little girl, my mother worked part-time as a nurse's assistant for a very elderly man with Parkinson's disease. The man's wife {and primary caregiver} didn't mind at all if my mother brought me along, so I spent a few afternoons each week in their living room, reading The Boxcar Children, or sometimes played on their large property.

The patient's wife - Alana was her name - gave me one of the strongest impressions of my childhood, without meaning to do it, I'm sure. And this is whence the upcoming novel's title comes:

During one winter, Alana asked if I would like to come upstairs to help her with something - I don't remember now what it was. So I traipsed up the steep, ancient staircase behind that spry, white-haired woman. At the top of the stair, we entered a dark but not gloomy hallway, and then Alana led the way into one of the rooms.

That is where I first experienced the scent of geraniums: spicy, unique... as my mother puts it, "not a pretty smell, really."

But an unforgettable one. And I never forgot the smell of that room - the darkened library-room where Alana "wintered" her geraniums - for, in New England, we can't keep our geraniums out year-round. I remember the stubby stalks of all those potted plants, lined up on card-tables, little patches of soil dusting their surfaces. I recall the surprise of realizing that the plants still lived - though Alana had pruned their scarlet blooms and dead bits.

The fragrance of geraniums - more emitting from the plant-part than from the flowers! - filled Alana's library-room, mingling with the musty scent of old books lining the shelves.

And, as a five-or-six-year-old, I felt that I'd been let into a mystery: There was a secret meaning to the scent of geraniums... though I didn't know yet what it was. And that is what the original title of this soon-to-be-released novel was: The Scent of Geraniums... which eventually became The Fragrance of Geraniums. More on that process next time. :-)

Update on The Fragrance of Geraniums' release: I have been editing-editing-editing to get this story to you all with its message of grace clear and lovely. Next is formatting. My Launch Team members should be receiving their review copies shortly - hurrah! :-) -  and then, dear readers - dear patient readers - The Fragrance of Geraniums should release in mid-November!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Title Reveal! And the Name is...

And the name of the new novel is...

Please feel free to SHARE and PIN so that more readers will have this novel to look forward to this harvest season. Thank you!

Coming up on this blog in the weeks ahead: How the novel found its title; a sneak-peek at the characters you'll meet in its pages; a giveaway; more pinnables... :-) This is a blessed and exciting, full-of-work time as this novel is born; I appreciate your prayers for me so very much.

Grace and peace,

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pitying the Villain | For Other Writers | And for Interested Readers, Too!

An early reader (one of those Beta readers you hear me talk about from time-to-time) talked to me about her impressions of "The Geranium Story." I asked her how she liked "the villain" ... whether he was a good one or not. She hesitated, then said, "I kind of pitied him."

Smiling, I knew I had succeeded in creating the right sort of "bad guy." :-) For my own stories, I've found that my best bad guys would be great guys... if only they weren't bad. They're not any worse than other human beings; but they let sin devour them {see Genesis 4:7}, the same sin that lies at the door of each of us. They refuse to "rule over it," preferring the bowl of stew to the birthright {see Genesis 25:29-34}.

And I think that's where the power of pity arrives on the scene. An utterly-evil character cannot excite any emotion except fear... and maybe disgust.

On one hand, these emotions are desirable to effect; we end up sympathizing with our hero/heroine's plight and condemning the "villain."

On the other hand, I think the better villain produces a more complicated relationship with the reader... For we must never forget that good stories should cause the reader to identify with the characters - to see something of himself/herself in them. So "complicated" is good... This is one of the reasons I like to cut away to my villain's point-of-view at various points in the story. We have to understand where they're coming from... and where they're coming from? It's usually not a motive of just accomplishing devastation. At its root, a villain's motive could have once been good - or at least neutral. It's always human.

A little secret? Most of my "bad guys" have something of me in them, otherwise I couldn't write them truly. They also, often, have something of someone I know or know of - usually a good trait that has been twisted and contorted into something evil.

We pity a good villain because we know - deep in our hearts - that we need that pity - that grace - should we ever become the villain in our own tale.

For, as C.S. Lewis points out, there's never anything that is utterly evil in the same sense that God is utterly good. Evil is never creative, in the sense of something-out-of-nothing; it always takes materials once used for good and distorts them.

Isn't that the horror in The Lord of the Rings when we find that the race of Orcs derives from that of the Elves - captured, tortured, and mutilated into evil creatures? {click here for more info}

And for me at least, that's the horror in multi-dimensional villains: I could be just like them.

You could be just like them.

The hero/heroine could be just like them.

But for grace received.

For the grace to do differently is given to all.

But the reception of that grace is what draws the major line between my hero/heroine and our villains.

What about you? Do you have a favorite literary "villain"? I'd love to know why! :-)

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Geranium Story: What's it all about, anyway?

So what's this "Geranium Story" all about, anyway?


It's about Lillian Picoletti...

At fifteen, she's become adept at hiding her wretched home-life - at not getting too close to anyone outside her family - at bearing up under the tremendous emotional strain her papa puts on their family. She desperately presses to finish high school and escape the gutter in which she was born.


It's about her mother, Sarah...

Trapped by religious and social constraints in an abusive, loveless marriage, she can't understand why her daughter Lillian won't submit to the lot in which she's placed. Yet Sarah, too, yearns for the peace and rest of which the radio preacher speaks.


It's about their neighbor, Emmeline...

And of how the loss of her own deepest desire opens verdant pathways into the lives of those around her.
Told from multiple perspectives, this 1930s-era coming-of-age novel tells the story of heart-wrenching sorrows alchemized by the Heavenly Father's redeeming grace.


Does it sound interesting? I'm so excited to share it with you - hopefully in mid-November {final release date to be determined}!


If you would like to join my Launch Team for this novel, I still have a couple of spaces open! Check out the link for more info: CLICK HERE.

Prospective readers, take note: This novel contains realistic {though not graphic} depictions of natural childbirth. It also contains {but does not condone} non-graphic depictions of physical abuse, adulterous relationships, and gambling. Intended for ages 15+.  This novel is written from a Christian worldview.

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Strangers and Pilgrims, The Modest Mom, What Joy is Mine, Yes They Are All Ours, Missional Call, A Mama's Story, Mom's the Word, Rich Faith Rising, Time Warp Wife, Cornerstone Confessions, Mom's Morning Coffee, So Much at Home, Raising Homemakers, Hope in Every Season, A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Woman to Woman Ministries, Whole-Hearted Home, A Soft Gentle Voice, My Daily Walk in His Grace, Messy Marriage, My Teacher's Name is Mama, The Charm of Home, Graced Simplicity, Children Are A Blessing, Mittenstate Sheep and Wool, Imparting Grace, Homestead Lady, Deborah Jean's Dandelion House, Preparedness Mama, A Look at the Book, Essential Thing Devotions, Count My Blessings, Beauty Observed, Christian Mommy Blogger, Serenity You, Renewed Daily, Sunday Stillness, The Beauty in His Grip, Tales of a Kansas Farm Mom

Friday, September 19, 2014

I Love You More Than...

"Many waters cannot quench love,
Nor can the floods drown it.
If a man would give for love
All the wealth of his house,
It would be utterly despised."
Song of Solomon 8:7 {nkjv}

It really comes down to love in the end.
This week, I swept, swept, swept up the stray wisps of pug fur and tracked-in dirt and thought about it -
Thought about the particular area of my life in which I feel the Holy Spirit giving the gentle nudge to change - to do differently than I have always done.
Which will cause me to be differently {yes, I'm using that as an adverb}.
I've felt His nudge in this area before - heard His voice tell me that, as Corrie Ten Boom says, He will walk with me over the fearful, unknown bridge of obedience in this thing.
I believe obeying is right - that God speaks Truth when He tells us that He rewards obedience.
But I love my disobedience and its perceived benefits.
I rationalize it: It isn't sin.
"Just" disobedience to the Holy Spirit.
So I hesitate - hesitate - hesitate... putting one foot on the bridge, then taking it off again.
And I think, "Why is it so hard for me to obey in this area?"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I'm Looking for a Few Good Women {or Men} - Launch Team!

Would you like to receive my latest book - the "Geranium story" I've been talking about - for FREE... BEFORE it's released?

Does it sound too good to be true?

It's not!

Read on to find out how YOU can be a part of my "LAUNCH TEAM."


Here's What I Do:
  • Several weeks before I release my new book, I'll send you a digital copy via e-mail for free. You can choose between mobi {Kindle} or PDF format. These are called "advanced reader copies," or "ARCs."
Here's What You Do:
  • You read the book before its official release date and post your honest review of the book {or a link to that review} on Amazon.com, as well as on any other social media and/or review sites you enjoy: Goodreads, Twitter, your blog, Pinterest, etc. I'll give you more details how you do this when I send you the book. Don't worry if you've never done it before; it's very easy!
That's it!

Why Do I Want to Give Away Books?

Why do I want to give away books, you might ask? Well, reviews help other readers make a decision about whether or not they should purchase a book, and it's a big help to have some in place before or on the official "launch day!"


Who Should Join the Launch Team?

Anyone who enjoys reading realistic, God-centered fiction written from a Christian world-view AND who enjoy sharing that experience with others through blogging, pinning, reviewing, sharing, etc. If you've read The House of Mercy, you know that I strive to write real-to-life, multi-perspective fiction that doesn't shy away from sensitive topics and that looks to Scripture as the final Word.


How Many People Can Join the Team?

Right now, I have room for a few more good folk on the Launch Team for "the Geranium story"!  {I'm so excited to share this story with you, by the way!}


How Should You Go About Joining?

If you'd like to be a part of my Launch Team, please use the CONTACT FORM on the right side of the home page of this blog. I'll get back to you promptly, letting you know if I have any spaces left on my team.

Friday, September 5, 2014

"Almost Glad that I Had Sinned:" A Reason for Regret and a Reason for Cheer

On a popular {food} blog I sometimes read, the writer mentioned that she had made many {non-food-related} "mistakes" in her life ... and that she was sorry for none of them. They made her, she claimed, into the person she has become, a person of whom she is very proud.

I blinked at the screen a few times and re-read the paragraph, wanting to ascertain that I'd read that correctly. She was proud of her mistakes? She regretted none of them?


Well, I'll speak for myself only - I regret my "mistakes."

Yes, unfortunately, they have left their stamp on my life and person. And I'm not proud of them. I regret them. I regret my faithlessness when I haven't trusted God's perfect will for me, when I have believed the lie that He is not sufficient, when I have turned to my own paths and means, giving reason for those outside the fold to jeer and think less of the God whom I serve.

And yet...

Yet I am glad for the means of mercy which my errors have been. A stream through which our Heavenly Father could pour His redeeming love, a canvas upon which He could paint a picture of His unconditional faithfulness.

I am sorry for my mistakes - for my sins. I look at them and sigh.

And then I look at Christ. At His perfect beauty. At His supreme goodness. At His great love for sinners. At His passion to make them holy.

Sinners such as I am. "Mistakers" such as I. "Regreters" such as I.

It is the kind of mercy that, as George MacDonald says in Phantastes, "makes me almost glad that I had sinned," that I might be forgiven.

My musically-inclined husband has tattoos on his shoulders: treble clefs indelibly printed on his skin. He isn't proud of them; they remind him of his days of darkness, before he met his Savior. People have tried to be helpful and mentioned to me that tattoos can be removed... yet I prefer that my husband keeps them. They're a continual visual reminder of God's grace to my husband and to me, in giving me a godly man who has turned his face away from his past sins.

And perhaps, perhaps, perhaps... I wonder is that how we - how I - must come to regard all those things we regret ...?

Not as badges of honor because they've "made us into the people we are..."

But humbly, with gratitude that He works all things together for good... as evidence of His very magnificent grace?

"Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham, which You have sworn to our fathers from days of old."

Micah 7:18-20 {nkjv}

Cornerstone Confessions

Friday, August 29, 2014

Onward Ho!

With The House of Mercy, I didn't set out with any goal, other than to write a story - a good story, the sort of story that I want to read. "The How" of The House of Mercy is a blog-post for another time, but let it suffice for me to say that I wrote the first sort-of-kind-of draft (though should I even call it that, as it was so different - practically unrecognizable - from the final draft?) about ten or twelve years before the Lord led me to publish the novel. Until a few years ago, I had no end goal in sight ... I just picked away at the storyline, adding here and there, changing this bit and that. Eventually, by God's grace, it was finished, in almost-final-draft form, without me really needing to set daily or weekly or monthly goals for myself in order to do it.

That's not so much the case with my writing at present. For years, I've kept a file on my computer with story and character ideas, like a gardener storing away seed packets for her spring garden. When I look forward to these ideas blossoming within my writing, I'm filled with joy and delight. Yet the hard work of tilling the soil, dropping the seeds in just the right places, watering and feeding the tender plants lies before me yet - oh, so long it seems! - before I see the full or results of much hard labor.

Yet now, as August turns into September, my story-garden ripens. And grows...

The story I've been telling you about - "the Geranium story" - I thought I would be finished with the rough draft last week; I also thought it would be a "short novel," running about 70,000 words. {My "rough drafts" aren't that rough. I take a little more time with them and then have less revisions to do.}

Then, around last Wednesday, I passed 70,000 words and knew the story hadn't finished. {I actually have the ending basically done. It's the middle that needs some filling... rather like a donut, stories taste better with jelly or frosting stuffed inside them. :-)}

So I reset my goal: Finish the story this week. I write between 2,000 and 3,500 words a day, depriving myself of all forms of carrot cake unless I do so {just kidding}. So I figured, "the geranium story" can't have more than 10,000 words left, can it? I have the rest plotted out already...

Guess what? Yesterday, I hit 78,000 words. And the story isn't finished. Not yet.

But soon. Very soon indeed.

Thank you, friends, for covering my writing {and me} in your prayers.

Onward ho! I see the camp in the near distance...