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Archive for May, 2016

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BOOK REVIEW – LOVE’S RECKONING by LAURA FRANTZ

 

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In a Cinderella-esque twist, Eden Lee is the reserved, quiet sister, doing what she is told and bearing more than her share. The elder sister, Elpeth, however, is brash and bold, and will get her way. And she doesn’t care who she has to step on to get it.

When the handsome apprentice arrives, he is unaware of the clause in his contract that the girls’ father, Liege Lee, insists on—that the younger man marry the eldest daughter.

But Silas Ballantyne has his own plans, to go west and stake his claim. Without a bride.

 

Written brilliantly, Love’s Reckoning draws the reader into the intrigue of the Lee household, Liege’s outbursts of rage, his wife’s distant countenance. What are the secrets this family hides? What are the secrets Silas carries with him? And how can a young couple in love overcome the seeming insurmountable obstacles that come their way?

 

Ms. Frantz has won a new fan in this reviewer. Her skill and mastery of the verbiage of the day lends credence and authenticity to the story. The twists in the story, the deception, the agony pull the reader in and keeps you there. In a 21st century world, it’s hard to imagine a time when women had no say in their lives, their futures; my heart longed for Eden to be free of her father’s tirades and her sister’s taunts. I felt the yearning as the west pulled Silas ever nearer his dream, and the conflict at leaving love behind. My heart broke, as time and again, young love was thwarted. Does Silas build his dream? Will Eden ever be free her self-imposed prison? Will Elspeth be snared in her own webs of deceit?

 

I will surely read the others in this series.

 

 

386794_428963163807406_2021638227_nAward-winning author Laura Frantz is passionate about all things historical, particularly the 18th-century, and writes her manuscripts in longhand first. Her stories often incorporate Scottish themes that reflect her family heritage. She is a direct descendant of George Hume, Wedderburn Castle, Berwickshire, Scotland, who was exiled to the American colonies for his role in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, settled in Virginia, and is credited with teaching George Washington surveying in the years 1748-1750. Frantz lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky.

According to Publishers Weekly, “Frantz has done her historical homework.” With her signature attention to historical detail and emotional depth, she is represented by Janet Kobobel Grant, Literary Agent & Founder, Books & Such Literary Agency of Santa Rosa, California.

Readers can find Laura Frantz at www.laurafrantz.net

 

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Laura Frantz, Love’s Reckoning, Love’s Awakening, Love’s Fortune, The Mistress of Tall Acre

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 The dog’s growl woke her. Sharee lay still a moment, waiting, unsure. The low rumbling in the black lab’s throat sent a chill throughout her body. His bed was in the living area, and the sound came from that direction.

She slipped from under the covers and padded in silence to the door. Just as she reached it, the dog surged forward in a scrambling rush and threw himself against the living room’s sliding glass doors. The vertical blinds flew apart under his assault, and his vicious yapping jolted her.

Someone was out there.

 

The above is a snippet from my upcoming book, Splashdown.  Although it’s fiction, in real life this is what dogs do. Their voices and bodies are used to protect us. Actually they do much more, they love and play and protect.

 

In putting animals into my stories, I’ve come to appreciate the qualities God has given them. Dogs have a unique ability to communicate with us—they wiggle, wag their tails, push against our legs, and lick our faces if we let them. Their voices, however, are used sparingly. Barking is reserved for important needs—like telling you danger is near or telling someone else to back away.

 

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The Bible has much to say about our words and our voices. We can use them to explain things, to discuss what is funny or essential, to tell of our love or disappointment, to yell at football games, or to hurt and wound.

 

James tells us that the tongue is an unruly evil. I have to watch my tongue and my words so that I do not injure others. You see, I say things quickly, sometimes without thinking. I’ve hurt those I love without meaning to, and apologies don’t always help or take away the sting.

 

Maybe that’s why God is so emphatic when he says life and death are in the power of the tongue. Do you know children that think they never can do anything right because they’ve been told they can’t? They often grow up to be injured and insecure adults. (rem: exactly what Father has redeemed me from!)

 

Getting back to the dogs, their voices are used so often to warn us of danger—or occasionally just to tell us about the squirrel across the street. It’s nice to think that we could use of voices in much the same way—for things that are needed, that don’t hurt but actually help others.

 

I pray with the psalmist, “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”  PSALMS 19:14

 

Another use of our mouths, one which dogs cannot emulate, is to praise God, to thank him for his goodness. We can, like David, declare his name to others; we can worship him in the midst of the congregation.

 

In the story above, the dog, Cooper, runs off an intruder, later he chases away a snake that’s sunning on Sharee’s deck. When things calm down, Sharee kneels and puts her arms around the dog and says, “You’re a good dog, Cooper.”

 

Wouldn’t it be nice to have our Lord do something like that when we finally make it to heaven? “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

 

It’s what I’m striving for—but I need to work harder on my mouth, and the words that come from it before that time gets here.  Maybe if I keep my eyes on the dogs I’ll learn a little more how it’s done.

 

 

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Linda was born and raised in Florida. She and her husband live on the west coast of Florida.  They have two grown sons. Her mother was a missionary to Israel and Indonesia, and her younger son has followed in those footsteps. He and his family are missionaries in Botswana, Africa. Her other son is a Physician’s Assistant at the National Institutes of Health.

Linda worked with as a Center Director for the Pregnancy Center of Pinellas County, and since, 2008, has been a speaker with the Tampa Bay area’s Community Campaign Against Human Trafficking (now called FREE). Her blog Writing for God, Fighting Human Trafficking can be found at https://lindarodante.wordpress.com/. Her author blog is at http://lindarodante.com/

 

Linda’s books have won finalist and semifinalist awards with the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis and First Impressions Contests. Her romantic suspense series can be found on Amazon. http://amzn.to/1Uo6I0a

 

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#lindarodante, ##newweeknewface, #NWNF, #lifeanddeath, #powerofourwords, #splashdown

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On the death of a friend.  *note: this post is a repeat, originally shared 25 april 2014.

 

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Not at all what I had thought I’d write about.   I had thought more along the lines of getting acquainted with me, your blogger.  By way of introduction, quasi-bio, to develop and establish our blogosphere friendship.

 

The death of a cherished friend this week decided for me. It’s not easy to quantify any friendship, sometimes there’s just a connection, and this friend was that to me.  And, I pray, I to him.  We shared some deep commonalities, writing among them.

 

Death, whether sudden or anticipated, is never an easy companion.  Aged grandparents who go in their sleep or after long-term health issues is a painful loss, and no matter how we “prepare” we are never ready.  Sudden and wretched tragedies we certainly are unprepared for, and perhaps it’s more difficult to process, accept.  Traffic accidents, war, suicide, physical violence, abuse, both physical and substance – how do we justify?  How do we cope?  I know I have a Savior Who holds me in the palm of His hand, Who gives peace when there is none.  I have that peace, as I write, I am at peace.

And yet I struggle, did I convey adequately my love, my friendship?  Did my friend die with at least the knowledge of my devotion?  In his final moments, probably he would not think of me – how selfish am I???  In his final moments, I pray he was thinking of Jesus, ready for His embrace.  There is my peace, there is my hope, for the day I will see my friend again.

 

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I woke up yesterday, and again today, and couldn’t believe my friend was gone.  I can’t call him, can’t instant message him, can’t pop into his office to playfully harass him anymore.  And I can’t process.  Not yet.  We, all who knew him, there’s a hole in our collective hearts.   We are numb.  While we struggle through the days ahead, and the months to come, with our friend gone, we also have something the rest of the world doesn’t.  We knew him, we counted him as a friend, brother, father.  We had the privilege of knowing him.  That is now an elite privilege.

 

What I can do is dedicate this blog to him.  What I can do, as his friend, is honor his memory, to continue to live as his friend.  A part of me died with my friend – and a part of my friend lives on in me.  In all who were friend and family to him.  In friendship’s take and give, like dye in water, we take on part of one another.  Sam colored my life with kindness, an enigmatic (and very cute) smile, gentleness, with intellect, encouragement, laughter.  These I keep, these I treasure, and for these I am truly blessed to be counted as his friend.  And that’s forever.

 

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Sam Howie has published fiction and nonfiction in such periodicals as Shenandoah, The Writer’s Chronicle, Fiction International, Potomac Review, and Southern Humanities Review. His work has been anthologized by the Hub city Writers Project and Main Street Rag. Sam received his MFA in 2002 from Vermont College. He [lived] … in Spartanburg, south Carolina, where he [taught] at Convers College. Rapture Practice [was] his first book.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Rapture-Practice-Sam-Howie/dp/1599481944?ie=UTF8&keywords=Sam%20Howie&qid=1461856890&ref_=sr_1_7&sr=8-7

 

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4 May 2916 – I read Sam’s book and I very much enjoyed the stories But they are dark and gritty, delving into ugly and uncomfortable topics. “In the opening story…a man falls into a well that he comes to see as a metaphor for his own life…” David Jauss, back cover copy. Each of Sam’s stories goes beyond the surface, beyond the boundaries of comfortable questions and pretty boundaries.

One story has stuck with me more than the others since I read it a few years ago, Leper’s Lament. The character has scars that no one can see, but they plagued his perception of himself, his identity. When I discussed this with Sam, I’ll never forget his excitement that I “got” the point he was making—that we all have scars, some physical, some not, and our journey, our battle is to discover who we are apart from those scars.

Thank you, Sam, for pouring your heart out onto the page. It is one of the many things I have to remember you by.

~ rem

 

#firstfridayfeature, #repeatpost, #samhowie, #deathofafriend, #tribute, #remembering, #rapturepractice

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I’d like to give a big welcome to HANNA SANDVIG to my blog.  Hanna, thank you for joining me today.

 

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rem:  Hullo, Hanna! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

HANNA:  I was raised in the Kootenays, in the mountains of Southern BC, Canada. After a few years in Alberta, I came back here to raise a family. It’s pretty much the best place on earth.

rem:  I’ve been as close as Colorado, does that count? Tell us three things about yourself.

HANNA: 1) I have a pure white streak in my hair. No exciting story, it’s just how I’m going grey. 2) I spent ten years as a lifeguard before I had kids and retired. 3) I collect (some might say hoard) vintage pyrex.

rem:  How interesting! I love collecting vintage items! What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? What’s your favorite cookie?

HANNA:  I am currently not eating any dairy or wheat, so it’s a bit tricky, but Coconut Bliss makes these amazing chocolate covered salted caramel ice cream bars. Cookies? Probably chocolate crinkle cookies.

rem:  They both have chocolate, so they’re fine by me. Which Muppet do you most resemble? Why?

HANNA:  I don’t know so I asked my daughters. The six year old said Miss Piggy, and the four year old said Kermit. Neither gave me a reason.

rem:  Of course, go to the experts. Smart thinking. Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

HANNA:  Tea with honey J

rem:  Of course, like your mom’s book! Superman or Batman?

HANNA:  Batman. Always Batman.

rem:  Good choice. It’s a “robin” thing, you understand. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

HANNA:  The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

rem:  Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

HANNA:  Liadan from Juliette Marillier’s Son of Shadows. I love all her heroines, they have such a quiet strength.

rem:  I’ll have to check both of them out. Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

HANNA:  I hop around a lot. My favourite genre might be YA fantasy, but I reread my favourite chick-lit and contemporary romances every few months. There’s some Sci-fi, historical romance, and epic fantasy all on my shelf.  Currently I’m loving Brandon Sanderson, Jenny B Jones, Rainbow Rowell and Cassandra Clare. I read a lot.

rem:  What would you do if you weren’t drawing and painting and taking pictures?

HANNA:  Go insane, it wouldn’t be pretty.

rem:  Same for me with writing. You’re an artist and a photographer. Tell us a little about your artistic journey.

HANNA:  Well, I’ve been drawing my whole life. I discovered digital art in high school and fell in love with it. I’m not sure how to condense my journey down. My art has grown and matured as I have. (rem: as the work of any good artist should) I’ve been doing client work for quite a while, off and on, but settled into book cover illustration in the past couple years which I really love.

 

Now I’m writing and illustrating my own books, (a series of YA novels about a sarcastic mermaid who is also a lifeguard) and it’s so fun to have a big project to illustrate that’s so close to my heart.

 

My photography journey is fairly typical. I had children, and I took a lot of photos of them! Eventually, I got pretty good and people started asking me to take photos for them. Six years later, I have a nice little photography business.

 

I sometimes feel that photography allows me to share the things I find beautiful in my life, whereas illustration (and writing) are much more about what’s going on in my head. External vs internal.

rem:  I love the “external vs internal” imagery. I know you’ve done book covers for your mom, Valerie Comer—lovely covers by the way! Tell us about your process.

HANNA:  Oh thanks J. I start my illustrated covers by having a conversation with the author, and when I work with my mom it’s very collaborative. We come up with a plan for the cover and I do a photoshoot. I like to have a reference that’s exactly what I have in mind before I start drawing. Then I illustrate the front cover and deliver it so that the author can have it ready for advertising and pre-orders. When the author is completely finished the book I receive the page count and back cover copy and finish up the print cover. You can see some more detailed examples of my process on my website: http://bcb.hannasandvig.com/process/

 

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rem:  Do you illustrate interiors as well? How does that differ from cover art?

HANNA:  I haven’t done a lot of interiors yet, but I’m working some for my own books which I’m illustrating. It’s a fun new challenge to work in black and white with a more story-telling focus.

rem:  Your illustrations are so vibrant, with or without colour. What is Project 365 and how did you get started on that?

HANNA:  Project 365 is a photography challenge where you take a photo a day for a year. I’ve done it twice, you can find the photos on Honey and Huckleberries, my photography blog: http://www.honeyandhuckleberries.com/p/the-daily-diptych.html. A cousin who was also an amateur photographer convinced me to do it with her in 2013. It was hard, but I didn’t miss a day all year. I swore I would never do it again. Then ten months later I did it again. That daily practice took me from a beginner photographer to a pro level photographer.

 

If you are wanting to improve your photography skills, I highly recommend a project 365. Really, if you want to master any skill, you can’t go wrong with daily practice.

rem:  So true. The single biggest mantra I hear / see for authors is to write something every day. What is your favorite medium to work with when illustrating?

HANNA:  I do all my artwork digitally, with the exception of the occasional hand lettering experiment. I use Photoshop and a Wacom tablet.

rem:  Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations?

HANNA:  Well at least half of my artwork is created for client’s book covers or my own upcoming books, but the remaining half is a mix of fantasy, geeky fanart, and vintage fashion.

rem:  I notice you have a post about transitioning from traditional publishing to Indie. Tell us about that.

HANNA: It just breaks my heart when I see authors I love get the rights back to their previously traditionally published books and slap a cheap amateur cover on them. It’s so damaging to the great brand they’ve built up. It’s such a great opportunity to rebrand with fresh new covers that can give their career a boost instead.

rem: I know what you mean; I’ve seen some pretty cheesy covers and it makes me second guess reading the story. I like your post about chopping heads off, too. What is that about?

HANNA:  People say they hate covers with headless people. I say that they can look great if you crop above the lips or below the shoulder. Don’t crop at the neck, it looks like a decapitation 😉 This goes for all joints, actually, and I have a great little guide to help pick the best spot to crop in the post.

rem:  I saw your guide, and it makes lots of sense. Do you have a favorite cover or work that you’ve created? If so, why?

HANNA:  The one I’m working on now, just wait till you see it! (There’s a baby goat!)

rem:  I have a feeling I know to which book you refer… hee hee What is your favorite book cover (not your own) of all time?

HANNA:  Anything that Dan Dos Santos has painted. Maybe Jay Lake’s Green. I didn’t actually like the book much though. http://www.tor.com/2008/07/21/dan-dos-santos-and-green/

rem:  Hanna, thank you so much for joining us today!  It has been my pleasure to have you here!

 

 

http://bookcoverbakery.com/

https://www.instagram.com/hannasandvig/

https://twitter.com/hannasandvig

https://www.facebook.com/HannaSandvigIllustration/

https://www.pinterest.com/hanasu/

 

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#hannasandvig, #artist, #illustrator, #photographer, #coverdesigner, #dandelionsfordinner

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Living with Expectancy, not Expectations

 

 

 

“Shhh! This is the good part!”

Ever noticed how, when we’re watching a movie, the point where the man’s about to lose the love of his life, the bad guy’s about to prevail, or the meteor’s about to crash into earth, we lean in?

Ever noticed how, when that same kind of thing happens in our own lives—when we’re the ones who lost the love or were defeated by a bad guy or found ourselves in the path of a (metaphorical, I hope) meteor, we do just the opposite? We shrink away.

Interesting how much more fun drama is when it’s happening to somebody else.

I had the immense pleasure of attending a local conference recently where Allen Arnold spoke on creating with God. He made the point that when life starts to get really interesting (difficult, dramatic, frustrating—fill in the blank) we ought to lean in. He had some great suggestions on how to do that, but one I remember very well had to do with the concept of expectations vs. expectancy.

Expectations arise when we look forward to an event and presume to know how that event will unfold. For instance, a parent can have expectations about a coming vacation with toddlers—and will probably be disappointed. A salesman can have expectations about a sales pitch and will often be crushed. A writer can have expectations about book sales, and often reality will look very different.

I recently suffered a reality that was far from what I’d expected. I sent my book off to my agent and waited eagerly for his response, knowing it would be something like: “I love it!” or “It’s perfect!” When instead he responded with some suggestions to make the story better, some gentle comments about my books in general, it sent me into a tailspin. What am I doing? I can’t write. I should just get a job at the 7-Eleven. (I’ve been threatening that for years. I’m sure the manager at the local 7-Eleven, if he knew, would start praying for success in my writing.) It took me a few hours to get past that reaction. Okay, it took me a few days. Maybe two weeks—but I’ll admit to no more. But now, I look at that book, and I feel differently. Now, I’m focusing not on the problem, but on God. Now my prayer is, Lord, what are you going to do with this?

I still don’t have a solution. But I remember that I do have this awesome, wonderful God who can and will guide me as I work through it.

If we as believers will focus on having an attitude of expectancy instead of rigid expectations, we will be so much happier. Expectancy allows the parent to think, “I don’t know what this vacation is going to look like, but we’ll be together, so we’ll make it fun.” Expectancy encourages the salesman to think, “I don’t know how this presentation will go, but I believe God will provide for me and my family this month.” Expectancy enables a writer to think, “I have no idea how my book will sell, but I believe God led me to write it for a reason, and I can’t wait to see what he does with it.”

Let’s face it, most of the time when we’re leaning in during a movie, it’s because we don’t know how the movie’s going to end. When we can’t put the book down, no matter how sleepy and scratchy our eyes are, it’s because we have no idea what’s going to happen, but we trust the author to make it good. It’s a spirit of expectancy.

Yet, in our own lives, when those frightening moments come, we want to avoid them all together. Why? Because we planned for X, and we got purple. We knew what to do with X. Purple—not so much.

But what if, instead of shrinking away from those moments, we faced them with expectancy. What if, instead of railing against God in frustration, demanding X—as if he’d owed us X, we looked up and said, “Wow. Purple. I didn’t see that coming. I can’t wait to see how you’re going to get us out of this one.”

It’s the difference between hanging onto solid, unattainable, yet completely anticipated results and hanging onto the attitude that, whatever happens, God’s got it.

If you can trust the author of a novel or the screenwriter of a movie to give you a satisfying ending to a fictional tale, how much more can you trust the Author of all the world’s stories to work out yours? To work it out for your good and the good of those you love.

He can do that. He’s that good.

 

 

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Robin Patchen lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, with her husband and three teenagers. Her third book, Finding Amanda, released in April, and its prequel, Chasing Amanda, released in July. When Robin isn’t writing or caring for her family, she works as a freelance editor at Robin’s Red Pen, where she specializes in Christian fiction. Read excerpts and find out more at her website, robinpatchen.com.

 

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Finding Amanda

 

Chef and popular blogger Amanda Johnson hopes publishing her memoir will provide healing and justice. Her estranged husband, contractor and veteran soldier Mark Johnson, tries to talk her out of it, fearing the psychiatrist who seduced her when she was a teen might return to silence her.

 

But Amanda doesn’t need advice, certainly not from her judgmental soon-to-be ex-husband. Her overconfidence makes her vulnerable when she travels out of town and runs into the abuser from her past. A kind stranger comes to her rescue and offers her protection.

 

Now Mark must safeguard his wife both from the fiend who threatens her life and from the stranger who threatens their marriage.

 

 

#robinpatchen, #newweeknewface, #NWNF, #expectation, #expectancy, #findingamanda, #chasingamanda

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