Archive for June, 2017

BLOGWORDS – 30 June 2017 – NEWSLETTER – a little birdie told me

3o June 2017

Edition IV


Newsletter Sign Up

Yeah, ‘bout that… Among other things, the mail list tutorial is languishing. So for now, Little Birdie is a special edition blog post. Hopefully by next edition (30 September) I’ll have that pesky little tutorial mastered, and sigh up button properly displayed on the blog.

Roll Call

Tell me who you are and where you’re at!


The Bird House Book Club


What I am / have been reading!

Understory by Lisa Lickel

Bellanok by Ralene Burke

Walking on Sea Glass by Julie Carobini

The Scarlet Coat by Angela Couch

Brigid of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

Pages of Ireland by Cindy Thomson

That’s When I Knew by Laurie Tomlinson

Falling for the Beast by Victorine Lieske

Deep Extraction by DiAnn Mills

Just the Way You Are by Pepper “Swoony” Basham

Above Rubies by Keely Brooke Keith

The Patriot and the Loyalist by Angela Couch

Behind the Scenes by Jen Turano

Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette

Memory of You by Catherine West

Promise of Peppermint by Valerie Comer

Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar

Stronger than Mountains by Lynn Dean

Someplace Familiar by Teresa Tysinger

Summer of Deception by Elva Martin

Looking Glass Lies by Varina Denman


What are you reading?


Friends of Authors Society

Okay, so it’s not an actual society—although maybe it should be. You know, with levels of support.

Who knows the best way to show your love for your favorite authors? (I’m one, right? Your favorite?) Besides the obvious of buying and reading my books, leaving a review on Amazon tickles their calculations and formulas and moves my books up in their ranks, which in turn means more peeps see my books, which means more peeps are likely to buy them.

There are other things you can do, as well. Suggest my books to your library or book club. Tell your friends, buy gift copies to give to your friends.


The Deferred New Series

I’m 100% Pantzer, well okay, maybe 95-5 split. That said and guesstimating from my unsavory stories which came in between 120K and 130K words each, I figured (with no rhyme or reason) the Seasons books would be closer to 100K even. The Long Shadows of Summer has come in at 110, 808.




Leave a comment or email me at robinemason212@gmail.com for a sample chapter.


Coming in 2017

The saving grace with this series is that it’s ONE | GIANT | STORY, told by four main characters, each with their own contribution and perspective to the story. One set of characters, one fictional setting, one timeframe to research (1912 – 1913.)


The Tilting Leaves of Autumn


Leave a comment with your email for a copy of the first chapter. If you don’t want your email public, send it to me privately at robinemason212@gmail.com.



Robin E. Mason, Stories by Design

Poor website is still languishing. Ranking low on the totem pole of priorities, it sits neglected for all intents and purposes. I have much I want to do with the site, features and gidgets and gadgets and such. Stay tuned…



The short version is,



 All in the Family


My oldest grand girl reached a landmark this year—she is no longer in elementary school. She is a bit nervous about starting middle school and having seven different teachers every day. But she’s a star and I know she’ll do well—and make lots of new friends—she always does.  ❤






Making plans for this adorable little pixie to come spend a few days with Granny Bird—that’s me. #1 girl lives across the street so I see her most every day. But this cutie lives 50 miles away and it’s harder to spend time with her. This Granny Bird is so excited! PS, SHHHH, #1 doesn’t know yet, I’mma surprise her!







After nearly three years, I have my driver’s license back! AND I have the use of a friend’s car, for a few weeks at least. And no, it’s not what it sounds like. Three years ago I was driving an older car and I revved the engine to keep it from shutting off. And hit 52 in a 35 zone. And caught the attention of blue lights. The ticket was $185, which I did not have. The fine at DMV was $100, which I also did not have. Earlier this year, a friend suggested I start a GoFundMe campaign to get my license and a car. She donated the first $$. Next up—a car of my own again.

I feel like Pinocchio—I’m a real girl again!

To read more of my story, or to help a gal out (donate and/or share) here’s the link:




Chatcha’ll next time.

Got questions? Email me at robinemason212@gmail.com.

Here endeth Edition IV of


Thank you for subscribing!









A Little Birdie Told Me, #newsletter, Stories by Design, Roll Call, The Bird House Book Club, Friends of Authors Society, Cover Reveal, Manifesto







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Reading is My SuperPower

http://cafinatedreads.com  |   Singing Librarian   |   Bookworm Mama

Faithfully Bookish   |   Radiant Light   |   Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

All the Book Blog Names Are Taken   |   Fiction Aficionado   |   Bibliophile Reviews

Kathleen Denly   |   Lauraine’s Notes   |   https://joyofreadingweb.wordpress.com/

https://abakersperspective.wordpress.com   |   With a Joyful Noise   |  

http://momentsdippedinink.com   |   http://cjaneread.blogspot.ca



 If you’d like to join us on your blog for First Line Fridays, shoot Carrie @ Reading is My Superpower an email and let her know!





Together New York City surgeon Paul Branson and his wife, Nicki, had a dream: to help the people of the African bush. After Nicki’s untimely death, Paul decides to honor her memory and carry on alone. In South Sudan, he channels grief into hope, caring for villagers and working to save Leza, a little girl with leukemia who has captured his heart.

Meanwhile, Jason Quinn, terrorist leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, has deadly plans for the people of South Sudan. But he needs information to carry out his plot—information from research Paul did for the US government years ago. Quinn will stop at nothing to obtain this secret intelligence, even kidnap a dying child. Now, in order to save the ailing Leza and stop a genocide, Paul must go beyond his medical training to journey into a world of brutal terrorism and global intrigue. With only instinct and his faith as guides, how far will he go to save the lives of thousands?



Twelve men lay motionless on their beds in the makeshift barrack.



I have recently developed an affection for African, for the wild and for missions there. The cover of this book intrigues me, as does the title. And after reading some of the author’s work there, it is high on my reading list.



Christian Mystery and Suspense






#Blogwords, First Line Friday, #FLF, The Ghost of Africa, Don Brobst

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This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says: “Write in a book all the words I have spoken to you.  – Jeremiah 30:2”


“I’m Terri and while my regular life is really pretty mundane, I’ll refrain from calling it dull. I live with my family in Oklahoma. I have two adorable Westies – or they have me, I’m never sure which.”



rem:  Hello, Terri, welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

TERRI: I’ve lived my entire life in the same town in Oklahoma. Obviously, I must like it!

rem:  Wowzers! I have no idea what that’s even like! Tell us three things about yourself.

TERRI:  Hmm, only three? LOL! I’m the librarian at my church. It is a job I absolutely love. Being the librarian affords me the opportunity to introduce readers to Christian fiction. I have two West Highland White Terriers – Crosby and Nolly Grace. They’ll both be ten soon and if I may say so myself, they are adorable and fun. This last tidbit I probably shouldn’t admit to. I love shoes! I have way too many pairs, but they draw me in every time I’m at the store. Guess that means I should stay away from the store.


rem:  Oooohhh, I love little quirks like that—shoes, huh?? Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

TERRI:  Tea – sweetened with Sweet’n Low. And I enjoy flavored teas. Peach is my favorite.

rem:  Hello, my name is robin, and my blood type is… A-tea-positive… What do you do as a hobby?

TERRI:  I garden. Being outdoors and working in the garden is a great stress reliever. I love to go out every day after work and see what is blooming. Daylilies are my favorite flowers. I also love to travel – anywhere – anytime.

rem:  I love being outdoors! And love gardening. What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

TERRI:  Oh, that’s an easy one. Pillow Talk with Doris Day and Rock Hudson. I’ve loved that movie since I was a child. The chemistry between the two is perfect.

rem:  Love me some good ol’ Doris Day movies! Your movie snack of choice?

TERRI:  Popcorn and anything chocolate. I’m a bit of a chocoholic.

rem:  Chocolate you say? Sharesies? If you could go back in time, what era would you choose and why?

TERRI:  Prohibition Era in the United States. Odd one I know, but I love the fashions, dances, and reading about “gangsters”. I wouldn’t really have wanted to live then, but it’s fun to dream about. I’ve been tempted to write about the era.

rem:  Oh, yes, I love those gorgeous gorgeous dresses! And the hats / headpieces! If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

TERRI:  Okay, this will sound corny, but it is true. My sis. We spend a ton of time together and I love every minute of it. We’re the best of friends.


rem:  What a blessing for you! What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

TERRI:  Christian fiction is a chance to show the world- both Christian and non-Christian – that God is there in every moment of our lives. Done correctly it can be a teaching tool to help people; to remind them to reach for Jesus no matter what the situation. Hopefully, I’ve learned the same thing I want to show readers, that Jesus is always with me and that He uniquely created me the way He wants me to be.

rem:  YESSS!!! Just this morning, Father whispered that’s pretty much my writing manifesto, for believers and non-believers to see that thread in my stories! (methinks this is confirmation!) When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

TERRI:  I read a lot of suspense. So keeping me on the edge of my seat with heart pounding, page turning intrigue makes a story for me.

rem:  Ya, kind of important in thrillers! Which is more important: plot or characters?

TERRI:  Characters! If I can’t fall in love with the characters then it doesn’t matter how good the plot is.

rem:  Very good point. What would you do if you weren’t writing?

TERRI:  Create a Christian Fiction Reader’s Group at my church where we could discuss a book once a month.

rem:  Can’t you do that anyway? You are the librarian after all… 😉  What are you reading right now?

TERRI:  Lancaster County Reckoning by Kit Wilkinson. I’ve been on an Amish Suspense kick. I just finished Amish Refuge by Debby Giusti.

rem:  Love a good suspense, Amish not so much… What do you munch on while you write?

TERRI:  I try not to munch while writing, because if I do I catch myself reaching for the chocolates. Did I mention I’m a chocoholic?


rem:  Give me the chocolate and no one gets hurt… Tell us a little about your writing journey.

TERRI:  My writing journey has been going on for so long I don’t even know where to start! The first book I penned was a sweet romance. Not long after that I began writing Christian fiction. That’s what I’ve written ever since. That’s been a lot of years and every time I’d be ready to throw in the towel God would do something that stopped me from quitting and got be back on track. I’m so thankful!

rem:  Tenacious. Yup, I know that one well. (He wouldn’t let me quit if I tried.) How long have you been a member of the Seriously Write team?

TERRI:  Good question. I actually had to check. This is my second year as part of the Seriously Write Team.

rem:  I think every one of ya’ll have had to check! LOL What do you like best about Seriously Write blog?

TERRI:  I love the fact that it is geared toward helping writers. rem: me too! But for me the best part is Angie, Annette, Dawn, and Sandie. Those gals rock. I’m so blessed to be part of their team and to count them as friends.

rem:  I love the networking and new friends I’m made in writing! You’re one of them, ya know. How often do you post on the blog?

TERRI:  Thursday is my day at Seriously Write. I either host someone (rem: ahem) or write a post. I try to find lots of guests. I’m blessed to have Susan Tuttle as a regular contributor the first Thursday of every month.

rem:  Your tagline has quite an impact, “Faith filled fiction because life without Jesus is no life at all.”  Tell us how you came up with it.

TERRI:  Thanks! I wish I could tell you exactly how I came up with it, but the truth is I don’t know. I just know Jesus is what gives my life meaning.

rem:  He does drop some nuggets in us sometimes, doesn’t He? You volunteer at your church library, and you “have the great joy of introducing people to Christian fiction.” Tell us the most memorable sharing experience, what book was it and what was the response?

TERRI:  The Bible. I run a Read the Bible in a Year program and I love it when people who thought they would never read the entire Bible make it in a year.

rem:  I’ve done different read the Bible programs. I am now doing what I call camping out, hovering in a single verse or passage for several days.

The shoe collection. We want to know about the shoe collection. hee hee

TERRI:  Well, the shoe collection has a life of its own! I plead the 5th on the number of pairs I own. What can I say? I love shoes; every color and style. I recently added an adorable pair of blue and white checked ones to my collection. The minute I walked into the store they caught my eye. Now I need a cute top to go with them. I won’t mention the two other pairs I bought at the same time. They were on sale so that makes it okay. Right?

rem:  Caught sight of my daughter’s shoes the other day, lots of ‘em! I suggested she purge some since she never wears them and got the puppy dog eyes and mock wailing about never parting with her shoes! (ps, she’s grown) What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

TERRI: I wish I had a routine! Right now I have a demanding day job so I write at various times in a multitude of places. That will all change in a little over a year and then I hope to hole up in my office and write for a couple of hours every morning.

rem:  I didn’t think I had a routine, but seems I was wrong… What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

TERRI: The day job definitely makes me struggle. Usually a deadline of some type forces me to overcome it.

rem:  Ya, drat the day job! LOL Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

TERRI:  I definitely prefer creating. Developing new characters is such fun! I love seeing the mess they can make while “trying” to get things right. Although I no longer consider editing the enemy I used to. Now I realize how much better it makes my story.

rem:  What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

TERRI:  Storytelling. It is just plain fun.

rem:  It so much is! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

TERRI:  Getting published and I’m not joking. The easiest, I haven’t found that out yet. J

rem:  LOL What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

TERRI:  Definitely join ACFW, find a local chapter if there is one in your area and attend, and attend conference at least once. Don’t be easily offended when your work is critiqued. Every new author needs help. Don’t worry so much about publication that you lose the joy in writing. Pray about what God wants you to write.

rem:  I’m planning to be there this year—gonna take supernatural means to do it, but I’m counting one it! How do you choose your characters’ names?

TERRI:  Sometimes their names come to me right along with the story idea. I love it when that happens. Other times I just sit around and make up names until I stumble upon one I like.

rem:  Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

TERRI:  No, but I do develop a loose outline. Without something to guide me I end up with a huge mess that drives a ton of editing.

rem:  Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

TERRI:  Currently I’m revising a romantic suspense entitled Deadly Assets. It is about a freelance forensic accountant who is vacationing in Yosemite. She’s been followed by a hitman to keep her from being able to complete the job she was just hired to do.

rem:  Hate when those pesky hitmen follow you around like that! What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

TERRI:  I love all the danger I was able to put her in by having the book set in a national park. Yosemite is huge and this is her first time at the park and her first time to try rock climbing.

rem:  Danger and adventure! Tell us about why you wrote this book.

TERRI:  Because I love suspense and this sounded like a good way to get my heroine involved in a mess.

rem:  We are just awful to our characters sometimes, aren’t we? Please give us the first page of the book.


            Hailey Carlisle swung her body sideways and grasped for the rock above her. Damp fingers struggled to hold on to the hard granite. Fear kept her from looking down and the glare from the afternoon sun kept her from looking up.

            This is nothing like climbing the man-made wall at the gym. The errant thought forced its way into her mind. She leaned her forehead against the cool stone while she waited for her legs to stop shaking.

            “A climate controlled environment and a thirty foot wall didn’t prepare me for the real deal.” Hailey muttered, breathing hard. She glanced down, past her feet to the hard ground below, then focused on the gray rock in front of her. At least whoever had threatened her wouldn’t be able to find her in Yosemite.

            As she thought of her latest job with a police department in Oregon the sun slid behind a cloud. Hailey shivered at the loss of warmth. She needed a short break, a chance to catch her breath. A large flat boulder fifteen feet to her right looked like the perfect place to rest.

            Hailey focused on the gray oval rock with hints of white veins running through it. Her muscles quivered as she struggled to pull herself onto the ledge, lungs burning from the exertion. The urge to sprawl out and rest a few minutes beckoned. She scooted back, stretched out her legs, and shut her eyes. The rocks, the height, the possibility of falling – none of these things scared her like what awaited her in Oregon. She’d received at least a dozen threats on her life. Maybe that kind of thing was normal for people in dangerous professions, but Hailey was an accountant.


rem:  “… but Hailey was an accountant.” WOW! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

TERRI:  God created us each uniquely. In my novella The Christmas Bride Wore Boots my heroine has to reach the place where she realizes it doesn’t matter what others think about her as long as she is true to how God created her. I’d like my readers to realize that about themselves.

rem:  Oh boy, that girl and I could talk!! Where can we find you online? (provide links)








rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

TERRI:  Thanks for inviting me! I’ve had a great time visiting with you.

rem:  Terri, thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!




“Why Christian fiction? Because to me, life without Jesus is no life at all. My characters feel the same way, so you’ll find a message of faith in all my books.”



#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Seriously Write Interview Blitz, Terri Weldon, Misteltoe Magic, The Christmas Bride Word Boots, A Match Made in Sheffield



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Source: Wednesday Wisdom – DEPTHS

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BLOGWORDS – Wednesday 28 June 2017 – SPECIAL EDITION – LOOKING GLASS LIES and SHAMING – PART II – the great clean up… continues





It’s a work in progress, and here’s the latest.


If it looks like a “spot the difference” puzzle, maybe it is. Blankets and sheets got folded from first pic to second. Box on the left in top pic was sorted through, the majority of which went in the trash, a few to the shredable, and the remaining in the smaller box in the second pic. The detritus on the floor is paper scraps from said large box, some by aging, some from cats who love to claw the corrugated box. (another reason i’m getting rid of all corrugation!)


The piles of boxes have come from the spare / guest room, the smaller ones of which are for shipping copies of my books. (anyone wanna copy???) the laundry basket was sorted and moved back in the bedroom. (that’s kinda perpetual) Oh, and the string n stuff??  Kitty toys of course!!


From this:


to this:

forgot to get the pic earlier…


The green and yellow trays will get a coat of ModPodge and find a home in my office-nest.


I also got some sorting done in the kitchen. I have four 16” wooden cubes that I use as my microwave stand, and food cupboard. I rearranged and organized that and now it’s much easier access (cans were on the bottom, very hard to get to.)

Not sure why I have so many cake mixes…  One, though, is brownie mix—might need to make those as my reward!!!  nom nom nommy nom  #chocolate




#Blogwords, Special Edition, Looking Glass Lies and Shaming, The Great Clean Up, #vulnerable, #4Nina, #ShameonShanty, #BEYOUChallenge, #IMATTER, #IAMWORTHIT, #dreamhouse, #ONLYGOD, A Work in Progress




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Taking a position as nanny got her to Charleston. But it didn’t give her any answers to her brother’s reported death. Instead, Rachel York uncovered more mystery and intrigue. And she discovered love in the most wrong place with the most wrong man.


Luke Barrett had no clue of the offer his uncle had made to Ms. York. With no small degree of hesitation and misgiving—and a generous degree of investigation—he offers her the position.

Curious activities rouse suspicion; Rachel doesn’t know whether to suspect Luke, and Luke doesn’t know whether to suspect Rachel. And their love may not survive.



Ms. Martin has created a compelling story with intrigue on nearly every page. The characters juggle with emotions and wounds of the past, trying to maintain even ground. I felt some of the dialogue and descriptions were stilted, but the story line had me hooked, and the ending did not disappoint.



I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.



Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (2014-2017). Her first two inspirational novels, a romantic suspense, Summer of Deception, and an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt, released by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, have both spent time on Amazon’s 100 Best Sellers List for Women’s Religious Fiction. Elva is represented by Jim Hart, of Hartline Literary.

She is the author of a mini-book, Power Over Satan:How to Discern and Defeat the Enemy’s Plans Against You, available on Amazon and has contributed articles to two books. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have published her articles. She is a graduate of Anderson University and Erskine College. A mother and grandmother, Elva Martin lives with her husband Dwayne and a mini-dachshund in upstate South Carolina, USA. She would love for you to sign up for her newsletter on her blog or web site.










#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, Book Review, Summer of Deception, Elva Cobb Martin

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Does Shanty’s BE YOU Challenge Really Make a Difference?


I suffer from depression, but fortunately, it only hits me every few years. And usually it’s triggered by something that happens in my real world: the birth of each of my babies, a move to a new town, marriage troubles, etc. I don’t typically spiral into the dark places unless I have something that triggers the initial rotating vortex. But then? Wow, do I go into an out of control tornado!


It’s been more than ten years since I was in my worst “episode.” But I remember the feels like it was yesterday. Overwhelmed. Hopeless. Desperate. And oh, so negative. I felt like I was worthless, and because of that, I developed a horrible habit of negative self-talk. Let me tell you, a bad case of depression doesn’t need negativity on top of it. Whatever miracle cure I tried was thwarted by my internal thoughts. Eventually, I was able to overcome, but it took much longer than was necessary because my brain was adding fuel to the problem.


Of course, there is no miracle cure for depression. It just takes a LOT of work and possibly some medication. In my case, I was in therapy, I was reading lots of self-help books, I was talking to friends who had been there, and I was medicated. The combination worked, but it took a long time. Years, in fact.


And to tell you the truth, each of the tiny parts of my recovery seemed miniscule when I was doing them. I wanted a quick fix to make it all go away, so I would be back to my normal self. My therapist would give me assignments to do at home, but they seemed incredibly shallow, like a Band-Aid on a gaping wound. Little did I know that even Band-Aids will eventually staunch the flow of blood if you use enough of them.


One assignment was for me to write down all the things I’m thankful for. When I received this assignment, I’m sure I thought it was pointless. What difference could it possible make? But I did the exercise regardless. I’m a rule follower and a good student, so there’s no way I could leave a task incomplete.


I grudgingly snatched my spiral notebook and scribbled down each of my children’s names. So there. Assignment done. But even in my shadowy state, I knew my therapist wouldn’t want me to stop there. I added my husband, my parents, and in-laws. Then I added numerous other family members and friends. But still. Probably not what he had in mind. I looked around the room and jotted down my soft bed and pillows, then the antique furniture that had been a gift from my parents, then the kids’ artwork on the walls. I looked out the window, and realized I was appreciative, not only of the sunshine and blue skies, but also the rain the day before.


Next, I wrote down our back yard where the kids were playing on their playfort, and I jotted down our house which—even though it had its problems—was spectacularly snug and comfortable. We struggled with finances, but our refrigerator and pantry were always full, and we had two cars in the driveway.


But those were just things and stuff.


My family loved me. A lot. So did my friends. So I wrote down love. And once I started thinking about intangible things, I got on a roll. Forgiveness. Tolerance. Grace. Mercy. Kindness. Health (even though my mental health was in question, my and my family’s physical health was good). Spirituality. I had God in my life. I was leaning on Him … no, clinging to Him like a lifeline, and even though I couldn’t always feel His presence, I knew without a doubt, that He was there with me, holding me, and leading me back to safety.


I glanced down at the now full page in my spiral. The first few items had been written with a hard hand, denting the paper. Not that I was angry at my children, but I was angry at the assignment, and the depression, at the need for writing things down when I just wanted my quick fix. But after the first few items, my hand had lightened, and the writing was softer, hesitant, almost questioning whether or not the list could be real. And by the time I had reached the bottom of the page, the words were messy and scribbled, because I had been writing so quickly. There were so many things for which I could be thankful.


I leaned back and inhaled deeply. That’s what my therapist had been planning all along. To show me that my world was larger than my current problems, and that I would eventually dig my way out of the hole I was in, and find myself back in the sunshine. And my world of happy blessings would be waiting there for me.


It’s been over ten years since I wrote that list. Probably I still have it in the bottom of a closet somewhere. I’m not sure, but no matter. I remember it. Even now while I’m walking in sunshine, I think back to that exercise and many others. All the lists I made, all the miniscule exercises I completed, all the Band-Aids I stuck on my wound … they all made a difference in my recovery, and each of them healed a tiny part of me, and helped me to be less critical of myself, less negative, and far more gracious to myself and to others. And I thank God for those little assignments.


Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. Her award-winning Mended Hearts series, which revolves around church hurt, is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. Her latest novel, Looking Glass Lies, released in May. A native Texan, Varina lives near Fort Worth with her husband and five mostly grown children. Connect with Varina on her website or one of the social media hangouts.


LGL book trailer: https://youtu.be/L4K-bolCE2k











#Blogwords, Special Feature, New Week New Fact, #NWNF, Guest Post, Varina Denman, Looking Glass Lies, #forNina, Shanty’s BE YOU Challenge

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I’ve been doing a week long feature on the topic of shaming—and overcoming that shame. Varina Denman’s novel, Looking Glass Lies, is a profound look at shaming, specifically body image. This book impacted me more than perhaps any other work I’ve ever read.


And today, I go to the Source of our image, our identity, and our recovery from all the world’s affliction—the Word of God.



Let that sink in. We are created in the image of God Almighty. He made us like Himself. I am not God, we are not gods, but we are like Him.



That’s a line from my new novel, The Long Shadows of Summer. God sees us as royalty. The world tells us otherwise.


I remember vividly a counseling session with a pastor friend. The lies were so embedded in my mind, in every fiber of my being. Lies spoken through my mother’s voice. Mother. The one who is supposed to nurture us. The one voice we instinctively trust.



I posted that last week. Lies embedded in me for years, decades. But God. His Word, and only His Word uprooted and unseeded those lies.


And have replaced them with Truth.



I.am.wonderfully.made. Father didn’t just throw some old scraps together and say, “Yeah, that’s good enough. It’s just Robin. It doesn’t really matter…”

No, He made me with excellence and consideration, intention and purpose.



I am the work of Father’s hand, his handiwork, His masterpiece. Or as a tagline from years past, God don’t make no junk. Everything He creates is a masterpiece, done in excellence and perfection.


I can walk tall and proud because that’s who He made me to be. That’s who He created each one of us to be. The enemy will never quit trying to pull us away from Father, out of His hands. But the good news is, neither with our heavenly Father quit holding tight to us, even when we turn away from him. Even—perhaps especially—when we believe the lies.


Truth prevails. God’s Word prevails and triumphs. It always has, and it always will.


I leave you with this, which is part of my daily devotions and confessions.




#Blogwords, Front Porch Fellowship, #FPF, Sunday Devotion, Special Edition, In His Image, Looking Glass Lies, Varina Denman, #4Nina, #vulnerable, Genesis 1:26-28, Psalm 139:14, Ephesians 2:10

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1 – Make a list of things you like about yourself. Name at least five.

1 – My (warped) sense of humour. I love to bring a smile to someone when they’re having a rough day. Or when they’re not. Any time, basically.

2 – Piggy-backed on that is encouragement. I spent so many years depressed and in despair I can’t stand to see someone else there, even for a moment. I offer a kind word or a smile, or God’s Word when the opportunity is there. (by the way, bashing someone with Scripture is not encouragement.)

3 – I am tenacious and resilient. Watching a movie years ago, I thought if I found myself in the situation the character was in I’d give up. Even then, Holy Spirit whispered to me, “No you wouldn’t.” Okay then!

4 – I am kind and generous. I share what I have when I can. Funny thing about that, though. Father always gives more back to me.

5 – I am an empath. I’ve known this longer than I even knew what empath means—a person with the paranormal (I prefer supernatural as in Holy Spirit) ability to comprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual. I’ve said for years I can “read” other people, I “get” what others feel and why they think or feel as they do.

6 – I am talented. Wasn’t long ago I couldn’t have said that publicly. Of course I’m biased, but I love my writing. My design projects in college received recognition and accolades. (one is on the college website still) I’m a hella actress, and have the accents to prove it. (also the empath bit) I’m aces with the memes.

7 – Maybe my favourite—I am confident. I didn’t used to be. I didn’t used to like me, but I can say without conceit, I’m pretty cool.




2 – Write and tell yourself you are beautiful and amazing. Then tell yourself why.



3 – Write about a mistake you made and how it impacted your life in a positive way.

There is a plethora I could choose from but I’ll take the biggest and most notable: I got married. That in itself was not the mistake; the mistake was (at least) two-fold: I was too young and I married the wrong person. If that sounds simplistic, it’s not.

It wasn’t my age so much as my need to be liked—I thought it was love but didn’t have a clue what love truly is. And if I thought my self-esteem was low… let’s just say I married down, meaning my husband’s self-esteem was lower than mine. However veiled my vision, I did have faith and I did have some knowledge of God’s Word in my head if not my heart.

I ended my marriage after six and a half short years. But not before Father gave me the three most precious and priceless gifts I could ever have—my kids.


Do you remember the show, Fantasy Island? Visitors to the island were granted a visit to an alternate reality and at the end of the show, they had the option to keep the life they had, or step into the alternate. Of all the episodes, only one stuck with me. A young woman had married one of her two best guy friends, and was now a widow. Her fantasy was to see what life would have been like if she had chosen the other guy. (it had not been a love triangle, the three had all been friends) At the end, she was walking through the jungle from her cottage to tell Mr. Roarke she wanted to have the alternate life, in which her husband didn’t die, in which they had an exciting and exotic life together. As she walked along the path, she reached to idly fidget with the locket she always wore. But it wasn’t there. It wasn’t there because it held a photo of her daughter. A child she didn’t have, wouldn’t have had, if she had married the “other” guy. Her decision took on a new weight, and she chose to live with her grief as a widow because to do otherwise meant choosing not to have her daughter. (I’m weeping as I write this)

I have felt much the same way. For all the times I’ve wished I had been wiser, had waited—had been more mature, had been a different person entirely, not to mention my husband—all those wishes wished away my children. (and now my two beautiful granddaughters.) For all the hell I’ve lived with and been through, nothing—nothing—could make me wish my kids away. Nothing could make me regret being their mother. And nothing will make me give up fighting for them. (and no I don’t mean custody, they’re grown. I mean spiritually)

See, the insecurities I dealt with (or failed to deal with) transferred to my kids. I didn’t know communication, therefore I couldn’t teach communication. I didn’t have healthy self-image, therefore I couldn’t teach them to have a healthy self-image. I had no confidence, therefore I could not pass long any degree of confidence. Nor did I have the confidence to talk to them about things that matters: sex, drugs, faith, God. I didn’t have confidence to face conflict.

But God. He is and has always been by my side. And as I have come into identity in Him, not only has faith taken off to soaring heights, but so has confidence. And so, too, is my family being restored. Broken foundations beget broken, well, everything. For all the years I “patched” the brokenness, the dam finally broke and my family fell apart.

But God. Again. I am witnessing restoration, things I could never manufacture. Things that aren’t my job to manipulate. But God. He can and will and does. And I know that what He is knitting together, the patches and broken pieces renewed, is more beautiful than what I tried so hard to preserve under the guise and pretense of “I’m okay.”

See, now I am okay. And now I can let go and let God. And now, I know without a trace of doubt that the three most precious and priceless gifts I could ever have, are still mine. And nothing can take them away from me.




4 – Make a list of people who have committed offenses against you. Then forgive them.

NOTE: The first Scripture that spoke to me way back when I was 12 years old was Matthew 5:43-48, You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so?  Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

That’s kind of the epitome of forgiveness, and I have chosen to forgive each of these. Guess which one is the hardest?


My mother

My father

My ex husband



the guy who raped me


My second grade art teacher (see below)





5 – Write about a time in your childhood when you didn’t feel good about yourself.

A time in my childhood? How ‘bout all the time in my childhood? The first episode I remember was in second grade art class. It must have been December because we were making snowflakes, you know where you fold the paper then fold it again, and snip out bits. I was so excited I jumped up (raised my left hand) and told the teacher I knew how to make them. Her response cut me deeply and left a scar that took years to mend—she said, “Fine, do you want to come teach the class?” And it wasn’t an invitation. It was a “Sit down and be quiet, you’re bothering me.” So I sat, and be’d quiet… for years. I felt no one wanted to hear what I had to say. I felt that nothing I had to say was of value to anyone else.

Holy Spirit has healed that wound, and as I mentioned above, I now have confidence in who I am and what I do.


There’s this Cinderella moment—I was about 12 years old and it was my job to wash dishes after supper. Not so unusual, I was the oldest. And I’m a girl. But while I was in the kitchen up to my elbows in dishwater, my brother and sister were in the living room being silly with our parents. By the time the dishes were done it was time for our TV shows (in the days before cable) and then it was time to get ready for bed. One night, I had a hang nail and I deliberately cut my finger with a knife to get out of doing [the rest of] the dishes. Funny thing, now I like myself I’m okay doing the dishes!




6 – Close your eyes and think about self-esteem for a while. Write whatever comes to mind.

Confidence. It’s the first thing that comes to mind. Knowing my own worth sounds like a clinical definition, but it’s true. And for me that is wrapped up in knowing my identity which is only found in Christ. I can only explain self-esteem by sharing how I have come to love myself and that is in learning who He created me to be (a writer by the way.) As I grew in my identity as a writer, I have grown in confidence. And that goes beyond “just” my writing. I am not intimidated to speak to a stranger when I need to, I’m good to offer random words of kindness to people I don’t know. And I’m astoundingly comfortable talking about my stories—to complete strangers!

You see, as I grow in my spirit, my soul and flesh follow suit.

As Holy Spirit pours into me, all trace of self-doubt, self-recrimination, self-hatred dissipates and vanishes. It’s like the dark—it can’t exist in the Light.




7 – List things for which you are thankful. Keep going until you can’t think of any more.

My kids.

My grandgirls.

My friends

My kitties

Seafood, ‘specially scallops

Pasta, rice, bread, potatoes – my four basic food groups


My health, even with the RA and struggles

My new knee (February 2016)

My writing

My faith and my journey

My church

Irises, Shasta daisies, poppies

Trees and rivers and mountains

My dream house (that I designed)

The promises of God

The Word of God (which is basically the same thing)



Indoor plumbing!


Rain #amapluviophile



Also green



Basically all modern conveniences and technology

Long hot soaky baths

Grab bars so I can take long hot soaky baths (technically so I can get out of a long hot soaky bath… )

Essential oils and bath salts for the long hot soaky baths

Chocolate, did I mention chocolate

This list is infinitesimal…

8 – Jot down the names of three people who could use a hug today.

Maggie (my daughter)


Donna (BFF)


9 – Draw a picture of YOU, being as kind to yourself as you would to your best friend. (although I am an artist, words are my best “brush” and I chose to draw a word picture, like describing a character in one of my stories)

Joy radiates from her, and her smile lights up a room. It’s the first thing you see when you see Robin. Unless it’s her crazy purple-red hair. She says her hair is psycho, has a mind of its own, but it’s so cute. Short little bob that curls one way then the next, maybe it is a little psycho. She’s tall and while not skinny, she is not a cow as she sometimes claims. She has curves that are well earned with years and childbirth and no small bit of hell thrown at her. Her hands are crooked and bent (she says they’re ugly) but she doesn’t let that stop her from doing what she wants to do. She finds or makes a way—or something entirely new to Robin, she asks for help. Time was, she couldn’t do that. She stands tall and walks tall because she had learned, is learning, who she is; she walks with confidence. Also because she has a new knee—total knee replacement last year—and she can walk tall and not hunched over. (or in pain)

Confidence looks good on her, best dress ever!

10 – Write about something that made you happy in the past year.

Another from a long list—Father has just opened up those windows of heaven. But the most precious moment in the past year was when my son came to see me. As I mentioned above, my family has been broken; my sons have not spoken to me in over three years. #1 big guy has conceded some via Facebook, and primarily significant events, like when he moved and his new job. He doesn’t live far from me, maybe 20, 25 miles. So when he was out my way with a friend several weeks ago and #1 son mentioned how close they were to my house, said friend asked how to get here. I didn’t know until I saw the truck pull up outside. They didn’t stay long, but it was IS one of the most precious, priceless moments of my life.

Oh, and yes, I got a great bear hug from the man child.


I challenge each of you to take Shanty’s BE YOU Challenge. Share with me if you’d like, let me know you did it, and share any part of it you feel comfortable sharing.


My friend, Amber, gets pretty transparent over on her blog as well. Stop by and give her a shout out.




#Blogwords, Special Edition, Looking Glass Lies and Shaming, #BEYOUChallenge, #vulnerable, #4Nina, #ShameonShanty





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Reading is My SuperPower

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All the Book Blog Names Are Taken   |   Fiction Aficionado   |   Bibliophile Reviews

Kathleen Denly   |   Lauraine’s Notes   |   https://joyofreadingweb.wordpress.com/

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 If you’d like to join us on your blog for First Line Fridays, shoot Carrie @ Reading is My Superpower an email and let her know!





For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.

But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.

The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last.



I woke up in the middle of the night in our cavernous walk in closet. Again.



Few books have impacted me as deeply and personally as this one. Shame, whether body image or otherwise, cuts deep and leaves scars. I have devoted this whole week to this book and its topic, and tomorrow, I post my answers to Shanty’s BE YOU Challenge.



Christian Fiction / Women’s Fiction / Romance





#Blogwords, First Line Friday, #FLF, Looking Glass Lies, Varina Denman, #4Nina, #ShameonShanty, #BEYOUChallenge



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