Archive for March, 2015

“I’ve been thrown in the deep end. Of a deep ocean. In a tidal wave. …

Since the release of Tessa, I have sought to broaden my writer’s presence. I have joined writer’s pages and groups, I have subscribed to other author’s pages. I started a blog and revived another one, and this robin bird finally decided to tweet.”   [blog post “Drowning” 041114]


When I wrote Tessa I didn’t know for Author page – Facebook or Amazon – hadn’t even heard of Goodreads, avoided Twitter, and wasn’t blogging at all, at all. I wrote. That was it. Only AFTER she was released into the wild did I plug myself into the unique community of writers. A year ago, I was “ … learning to swim. And I think my feet are touching some sand in the murky waters, and I’m starting to wade through this media panoply.” [blog post “Drowning” 041114]


That was media. The other, and perhaps more enriching, branch of this tree I’ve climbed, is writer’s groups [and yes, I’ve attended] and conferences. And this is the more troublesome branch for me, because… it involves money. [‘nother story, ‘nother blog post, ‘nother time – think testimony] Money: I haven’t had it. Not to spare, barely enough to meet living expenses. Ergo, definitely not there to pay for a conference, let alone travel to and from, or accommodations whilst there. I longed to go, to attend, to rub shoulders with the who’s who of writing. I viewed pics posted on Facebook wistfully, hoping – praying – for my turn.


MY TURN CAME!! Weekend with The Writers [WWTW] was right here in Greenville, SC!!! I could walk it I had to…. [so glad I didn’t have to]





Let me take a moment and share how this came about – and the utter and incomparable value of networking. I was part of a thread in one of my writer groups, talking about memes. I do a decent meme, and promised to create a meme tutorial on my process. [haven’t forgotten that, ya’ll!!] One of the participants and I were later having a private IM conversation about it, and she asked me where I live. Because she was coming to a conference in Greenville, SC. That was the first I heard of it! I clicked on the link, Father God made a way for me to pay for it, my new friend offered to let me room with her, AND they picked me up. [oh yeah, I’m not driving right now – long story, also money related… ] And I only heard of the conference on 25 February – THREE WEEKS before the conference!! I shared with a friend how it all came together, and me watching it happen; she said, “Favor looks good on you.” To which I replied, “It feels kinda good too.”


So I got there, and it was amazing. I was at a conference!!! On the one hand, it felt as natural as if I did this every day. On the other hand, I felt like a five-year-old at Disney for the first time. [I kinda was!!]


Headlining our event were Kristen Heitzmann, DiAnn Mills, Edie Melson, and Lynette Eason, all names I’d seen and at least read blog posts. Only one, Kristen, had I heard of before I dove into my own writing career, having read Freefall, a few years ago, declaring her to be one of my new favorite authors. All of them personable and approachable, willing to interact – not sure what I expected, not divas with body guards, I’m sure! I felt as an associate, if at entry level, with their stellar multi-published careers. Quite heady for this former invisiblet!!


Gotta give a SHOUT OUT to the WWTW staff, who were amazing, catering to the needs of each of us in the room – even providing chocolate for us at the mid-afternoon doze-off on Saturday – and making us all feel welcome.


My take-aways from the event – and I benefitted from each one:

  • DiAnn Mills and Characterization [possibly my weakest area] – let’s see, she covered a good gamut – body language, color symbolism, sensory perception. The stand-out statement for me, “Transfer my emotion to my character point of view.” [altho, I think my tendency is more that I pick up the emotion of my characters.]
  • Kristen Heitzmann and Writing a Compelling Story – “A compelling story compels me to write it.” There’s more but I don’t want to give the whole conference away for future attendees!! *wink wink And yes, when I’m writing, I’m compelled to do so.
  • Lynette Eason and Queries and Proposals – For me, more of a review. Bottom line, be professional about it.
  • Edie Melson and Social Media – Hot topic for this writer! Remember the “Drowning” references above? Edie also covered a good gamut in her topic, and made me feel good that I’m doing the right things, media-wise. Mostly. I need to up my “presence” on Twitter, with #hashtags [yeeps! they’re missing from this post!!] and some great suggestions for tweeting on the regular.


And the biggest take-away: no two authors’ path is identical. Every article written, every conference workshop, offers something of value; and every author gleans from this tidal wave of information the splashes and puddles that best fit his or her career. I was very happy to hear a consensus that if you are an edit-as-you go writer, which I am, then OWN IT. Yes, thank you.


I take that back. The best take-away from this conference are the friends and connections I made. Now if I could just get my pics to upload from my phone…..



#WeekendwithTheWriters, #writersconference, #kristenheitzmann, lynetteeason, ediemelson, diannmills, #FORWARD





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Interview & Giveaway with Keely Brooke Keith, Author of The Uncharted Series.

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The Problem with Pain


The problem with pain is that it

hurts. That’s just what the prob

lem is. And it’s subversive, it sneaks up on you and calls itself something else and always overstays its welc ome. It says it’s ok, you’ll get

used to it. You won’t mind after a

while, and you don’t. You treat

pain like a welcome guest in

your home only this is

your body.

And it hurts and you don’t even know

it’s there anymore. It just trolls through you and strikes out

at you and you catch your breath. And take a pill or

a shot. And we wrap our wounds in gauze

like a mummy. And part of us dies. And pain, it

laughs at you because we said it was ok for it to

stay. It slows us down and says we hurt too

bad to do that. But we really wa

nted to do that. And now we’re sad too. Cause Sad an

d Pain are friends. And we realize that life has slipped by and all the things we wanted and all the drea

ms we dreamed and all the goals we set have vanished. And we can never get them back. And Pain know

s this. And laughs because this was th

e plan. To keep

me, to hold

me back

from what I was

meant to do. From wh

at I was created

to do.

What I was put here

to do.

But guess what?

Guess what Pain?

I say go away.

I say you can’t stay.



And Pain, it knows that it must listen to me. Because

I speak with authority.

But it doesn’t go quietly.

It doesn’t go peaceably.

It goes kicking and screaming and clawing. Even i

ts exit hurts.

But it goes.

It leaves my body and my life.

And now my dreams and goals and all the things I ever wanted in my life can be.

I can do the things I could not do before.

I can be who I could not be with this demon attached to me.

For I am free. I can be me. I can be who I was created to be.


© Robin E. Mason

18 April 2009



In case you haven’t noticed or figured it out, I am a Christian. A Christian who believes in Divine healing. I’ve taken my share of aspirin and naproxen sodium [can’t take ibuprophen] and I’ve taken my share of heavy duty Rx meds, including an injection every two weeks. And an antidepressant for two years. I needed it, I availed myself of the miracle of medical science. And yes, I said miracle. A hundred years ago, things we take for granted now would have been considered a miracle. If I’m not mistaken, penicillin was called a miracle drug when it was first invented. Let me be clear, I am not averse to taking medication when needed.


I also believe in the Healing Balm of Gilead, a Biblical reference to the healing Blood of Jesus. [that’s my understanding of it anyway] I’ve experienced Divine healing before. Healing that had no natural explanation. Migraines. I used to get them. Then, suddenly, I didn’t. I was diagnosed with a certain disease, and while on the phone with the doctor’s office confirming the lab reports, Holy Spirit spoke in my other ear [the image of this memory is vivid to me to this day] asking me, “Whose report do you believe.” I did not have that disease after all. I know because I never suffered the symptoms of it.


Not all Divine healing is so instantaneous, however. To wit, I was born with misaligned knees. I’m now 56 years old. I have literally lived with this problem with every step I’ve ever taken. When I was an adolescent, the issue began to be evident. I had surgery at age 17. [with the proviso that further surgery would be necessary.] And then, the whole shebang on the other knee. Life happened. To date, I’ve not had another surgery on either knee. Rather, I learned to compensate. Bad strategy. Now my whole body is out of alignment. Add to this, a couple of tumbles down the stairs, and a couple of [minor-ish] wrecks.


Yeah, I’m a wreck. Physically speaking.


Now, throw in a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. And that’s where I’m at today. And THAT is what is “kicking and screaming and clawing” as it leaves. Because it IS leaving my body.


And OH! When that day comes, and it will come, that I no longer host this disease in my body, that day when my knees are perfectly aligned and no longer in pain, what a GLORIOUS day that will be.


Why must it take so long? I can’t answer that; indeed, I ask Father the same darn thing! In tears some days. But I know what His Word says. And I believe His Word above all else. So this is my “pre” testimony of my healing. I’ve put myself in the proverbial hot seat. What if it doesn’t happen? It will. You watch and see.



#painandhealing, #Divinehealing, #badknees, #arthritis, #hopedeferred, #balmofgilead, #miracle, #FORWARD




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Feisty. Impetuous. Sassy. And more than a little bit spoiled. The youngest of five siblings, including her twin brother, Lydia Barrington never wanted to conform to the life that awaited her: that of a genteel Southern lady. With a husband. And children. Tethered to the plantation and the homestead.


No, Lydia had dreams and aspirations. She wanted to travel, to have great adventures. She resisted the expectation that she would follow in her mother’s footsteps. As she struggles with coming of age, love throws a knot in the works: she had definitely not planned of falling for a beau. And that feeling leaves her more confused than ever.


I was a bit confused with the timeline in places. There were a few times that passage of time didn’t add up, but not so much that it took away from the flow of the story. Dialogue, however, seemed artificial and forced, in this reviewer’s opinion. I came across a few instances of malapropisms which grates this reviewer’s OCD, but otherwise did not take away from the story; in each occurrence, the meaning was clear if less than crystal. Lydia’s angst seemed belabored and perhaps overdone, but still, not to such an extreme to take away from the twists and unexpected turns within the story. Like the conversation Lydia overhears, or the trip to visit her aunt – and her sister tags along – or the tragedy that strikes.


Lydia struggles through her uncertain world, whorling emotions, and confusion to find her anchor and her peace. And latches on to her faith which will guide her through tough decisions.


Lydia reminded me more than once of how a young and impetuous Scarlett O’Hara might have been. Strong-willed, outspoken, and determined to get what she wants. Unlike Scarlett, however, Lydia yields to grace in the end.





I was given a copy of this book in return for my honest review.



#sherriwilsonjohnson, #todanceoncemore, #tolaughoncemore, #scarlettohara

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I’d like to give a big welcome to JANE LEBAK to my blog.



rem: Thank you for joining us today, Jane. You have a most delightful quote on your website, “Sometimes sarcasm is the only sane response.” What can you tell us about that?

JANE: When I first started a blog, I had to pick a tagline, so I chose “Sarcasm served up daily.” After a couple of years, one of my frequent readers told me I wasn’t actually sarcastic enough. My readers and I batted around definitions and eventually decided my new tagline should be “Sometimes life is its own satire.” One of the chief aspects of my blog was to look at the ways in which our lives were only barely under control and we were only just minimally competent to be doing the things we were doing (such as raising children, cooking, etc.) When I moved the blog over to my new home, I decided to revert to sarcasm again.

rem: I speak fluent Snark, Satire, Tongue-in-Cheek, and Sarcasm. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

JANE: I’m a native New Yorker, but my goal for the first twenty years of my life was to get out of New York. I’ve moved to progressively smaller and smaller places, and now I live in what I affectionately call The Swamp, a town so small you actually recognize people when you go to the grocery store.
rem: Never been to New York, but I want to visit! So much to see! At what age did you realize your fascination with books? When did you start writing?

JANE: I wrote my first book at age three with a magenta crayon on green-bar computer paper. I know this because my mother saved it. This masterpiece is called The Creechur, in which a magenta monster went around terrorizing a town until someone came in and sent it away.
rem: LOVE IT!! My first story was Pinky the Pink Elephant, written I believe, in first grade. And yes, I still have it. Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

JANE: Favorite author is Diana Wynne Jones. The woman was a master at weaving details together so everything gelled right at the end in such a way that you never saw it coming, but once it happened it couldn’t have been any other way. Her books are little works of art. If you’ve never read her before, start with Howl’s Moving Castle and next read all the rest of them.

Right now I’m dividing my reading time between SFF and contemporary fiction. In nonfiction, I tend to read either religion or psych/self-help.

rem: Love reading stories like that! I’ll be sure to get my hands on her books and report back to ya! Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
JANE: If you watch the sales, you can stock up once or twice a year at Target.


rem: Good to know; there’s a Target not far from my house! What is your Writing Routine?


JANE: My writing routine is that I fit my writing into the little spaces left vacant by my family’s needs. I’ve gotten good at writing with noise, distraction, and in five-minute bursts. Because I’m fitting the writing in around all these other things, I try to be flexible, but I also try to keep goals in mind such as writing 1200 words a day or “I will enter in all my handwritten notes by Tuesday.”
rem: Ah! The “non-routine” routine! How well I know that! What are your Top Writing Tips?


JANE: Take the time to see the story from every character’s perspective. Even the villain is going to be the hero of his own story, so figure out why this character is doing what s/he is doing and really immerse yourself in that character’s world view. No one wakes up and thinks, “I’m going to be bad today.” Instead your villain is probably operating out of what were initially good goals that have gotten twisted around. Every character is. Figure out how they’re picturing themselves so you can provide well-rounded, non-cliched characters.


rem: Great advice! In fact, that’s what my series is doing, telling the stories of my less likeable characters! Tell us a little about your writing journey.


JANE: It involves several hundred hours on the New York subway system and a frenzied attempt at escaping the world around me.


rem: I’m amazed at people who can be productive on a subway – or car or bus! I get too caught up in what’s around me. LOL What do you enjoy most about being a writer? What is the hardest aspect of being a writer?


JANE: In “The Forest For The Trees,” Betsy Lerner says a writer is the kind of person who isn’t exactly living her own life. Instead she’s watching herself live her own life, and rather than feeling her emotions, she’s feeling herself feel her emotions. She describes a certain introspection that is at once freeing but at the same time isolating. I think that’s both the most enjoyable and the hardest aspects of being a writer — that insulation from yourself because you’re analysing what’s happening to you even as it’s happening. In some ways it’s helpful because you get insight into your own pain, and you’re able to shield from the worst of it. But sometimes I think I’m touching the world through latex gloves.

rem: Interesting about the introspection. I’ve done that for years, long before I acknowledged myself as a writer! You have several books out. Is this a series? And if so, will there be more in the series? What can you tell us about angels?

JANE: The four angel books all work together in the same universe, but they’re designed to stand independently. The Seven Archangels series follows the seven Archangels of the Presence at various points of salvation history (through the Old Testament, through the Gospels) and Annihilation takes up the story again in the modern age. I’m probably going to write more stories in between, as well.

The Wrong Enemy is a separate story, although the characters do interact with some of the Seven Archangels team. In The Wrong Enemy, Tabris is a guardian angel who killed the child he’d vowed to protect. But instead of condemning him, God inexplicably gives Tabris a second chance. Stranger still, it’s a second guardianship. But now Tabris needs to figure out why he failed so badly the first time, otherwise he’s going to hurt another child and end up falling forever.

As for angels…they’re fun and awesome, and I love piecing things together about them in the Bible. People like to say angels would all be in harmony and all effortlessly carrying out God’s will, but when you actually break open the text, you find Gabriel talks in the book of Daniel about fighting with the guardian angel of Persia, and in Job you hear God saying He doesn’t even put faith in His angels. There’s a lot of room to theorize around the parts we’ve been revealed, and I enjoy that a lot.

rem: Biblical fiction is my favorite genre of all time, but I don’t recall too many involving angels. Of course, now my interest is now piqued and I need to read all of your stories! Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

JANE: Right now I’m working on a pair of contemporary novels about a New York woman who acts like a kid, juggles multiple boyfriends, can see her guardian angel…and is also a compulsive liar. But only about one thing. She’s an auto mechanic, and she doesn’t want to tell anyone. The lies keep romance at bay, but when she finally falls for someone, he thinks she’s someone she’s not.

These books could be described as “Chick Lit With An Angel,” and they’re so much fun. The angel and the human trade snark, trade puns, and are just such a good team.

            Abruptly Bucky appears, dressed in white and holding a lily. “For behold,” he intones, “I bring you tidings of hot coffee, for unto you this morning in the kitchen is brewed Green Mountain Coffee Roasters cinnamon hazelnut.”

            I can only stare at his expectant smile that says I’ll look cute so you won’t hit me.

My groggy brain can’t come up with a good retort. The best I can manage is to make a face. “You’re still bummed that you didn’t get picked for that job?”

            His resolve cracks. While he laughs, I add, “I hope your audition was better than that.”

            “Hey!” He whaps me on the head with the lily. “This will be a sign to you: you will find a bagel wrapped in a paper bag and lying on the counter.”

            “Well then.” I edge my legs out of bed. “Let’s go into the kitchen and see this thing that has happened, which Bucky has told me about.”

rem: Cinnamon hazelnut! That’s my flavor! Ya got me for sure now! LOL Oh, and I love the snarkiness! What do you do as a hobby? I had to ask! How did you get started ? Tell us a little about it.

JANE: I started knitting and crocheting as a hobby back in 2007, and since then my yarn stash has grown to several miles of yarn and I’ve started a knitting ministry in my church, making hats and scarves for the homeless.

rem: Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?

JANE: Cats, totally. Although I’m also getting a fish tank for my next birthday.
rem: I totally agree, cats all the way! [I’ve five kitty babies!]


 jane lebak books


rem: Jane, on your website, you have a link to Emily Rose’s Story. I can’t imagine the nightmare this must have been for you. What can you share with us today about your experience?


JANE: Looking back, I don’t think of Emily’s life as a nightmare. At the time of course losing our baby was nightmarish, but it was also a time of…I don’t know how to explain it. Intensity. Intense wanting. Intense learning. Intense prayer. Intense listening and paying-attention to the movements of a baby who would only live as long as the pregnancy. I learned to bond with someone I couldn’t see. And one day, a few weeks before her birth, I was sitting in the sun and I just had this strength flood through me: it was enough. I had done everything I was supposed to do, and now Emily’s life would accomplish what it should.

I put together Emily’s website to have a memorial for her but also to help other parents who were going through the same thing. And in that way, Emily’s life really did touch so many others. I spent the pregnancy leaning on those who had gone before me and had not only survived but were these amazing women. Strong, perceptive, helpful. Maybe I could survive too. She changed me, and in that way, she lives on.


A few years later after Communion I was praying for a woman who was also pregnant with a baby with anencephaly, and I said to God, “She’s pregnant with a dying baby!” and I And I felt this impulse come to me, that Jesus in a way is also “pregnant” with a dying baby–because there are souls on Earth that will end up in Hell eventually, but they’re still contained in Jesus now, and Jesus loves those souls and is nurturing them, even knowing that at the end, they’re not going to be with Him in Heaven. How often does God give us the privilege of doing something like what He does? How often in our lives will be have the experience of unconditional love from the giving side?


rem: Again, Jane, I am speechless, and my eyes are watering. I am overwhelmed, with pain, but also with the beauty of what you’ve just shared. No words, just no words.


How old is your son now? And how old is Emily Rose? I admire and honor that you kept him in the loop, and allowed him to hold his sister. How does he deal with her absence?


JANE: My oldest is now seventeen. Emily would have been fifteen this year. My younger ones are thirteen, ten and six. They’re aware of her, and we do talk about her. When we do family pictures, we always include a stuffed bunny a relative gave us for her and which I slept with for years.


rem: Again, nothing but respect and admiration for honoring Emily’s memory, and her purpose in this earth.



 family with emily rose



Jane Lebak talks to angels, cats, and her kids. Only the angels listen to her, but the kids talk back. She lives in the Swamp, writing books and knitting socks, with the occasional foray into violin-playing. You’ll also find her blogging at QueryTracker.net, a resource for writers seeking agents and small publishers. Philangelus Press is the multimedia empire of Jane Lebak, Incorporated. Multimedia because I have an audiobook. And it’s not just any kind of multimedia empire: it’s an international multimedia empire because I’ve sold books in Canada and the UK, and I’ve gotten fan mail from both the Philippines and New Zealand (Hi, Nanette and Chantelle!)

I started Philangelus Press once I realized I could do just about all the things a major publisher can do, only I can do them to my own personal control-freak specifications. It’s a lot of fun, and I’m having a blast. Plus, I get to talk to my readers every so often, and that’s really amazing.


#janelebak, #authorinterview, #EmilyRose, #anencephaly, #bulletproofvestments, #angels

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 4 dandelions for dinner


This is my second happy venture into the delightful fictional world of Valerie Comer. While her stories incorporate some not-so-happy life circumstances and events, her telling of them is cozy and light.


Ms. Comer has created a tightly knit world with very real and personable characters. As a romance series, the reader is acquainted with a new couple in each charming story. This reviewer has not – yet – read the first two in the series; I assure you, I will. I first met the couples in the third in the series, Sweetened with Honey, and felt as though among old friends reading Dandelions for Dinner.


With this newest in the series, Allison Hart is new on the scene at Green Acres Farm, and set to teach classes as soon as her home and the school are completed. A lone wolf, Allison is faced with some big adjustments with communal living, and can’t wait for her house to be finished and her solitude restored. Construction is delayed, however, and the tension between her and the job site foreman escalates.


With the construction delay, and then the arrival of her young nephew, Allison’s attention is focused on caring for the child. And with her attention of the child, her heart, long tucked away for safe keeping, is awakened and barriers long constructed begin to erode away.


Once again, Ms. Comer has taken life circumstances and woven them into a credible story. I felt Allison’s angst and conflict as her heart was pulled from the safety of its cocoon. I felt the ache and longing for her nephew, and I felt her inability to reach out to him.


I felt the shame of Brent Callahan’s past, too, and his sense of failure that haunted him. And I sensed his dread as that standard began to crumble underneath him.


Ms. Comer has an enchanting and delicious style of writing, as if telling the story over a cup of coffee, er, dandelion tea. Her humor and craft with words shines on every page, and keeps the reader turning page after page. Her sensitivity to the life issues is not diminished, however, in her lighthearted manner. Indeed, the trauma is made more dramatic for the whimsical telling of it.


Oh! I also learned that dandelions make for good eating!


 valerie books - 030315


I was given a copy of this book in return for my honest review.






Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her award-winning Farm Fresh Romance stories.



#valeriecomer, #dandelionsfordinner, #farmfreshromance, #sweetenedwithhoney, #raspberriesandvinegar, #wildminttea, #plumupsidedown

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