Monday, July 18, 2011

Make-A-New-Friend Monday with Lillian Duncan

*Sigh* I am way out of whack! It's a good thing . . . I think. I'm really busy with The Heart's Lullaby and planning a 5K walk/run in my hometown for my best friend who passed away from ovarian cancer. Still, I wish I could stick with a schedule for this blog. Please bear with me as you always have and I'm continue to do the best I can.

Today I'm tickled to bring you a new friend . . . Lillian Duncan! Here's a little about her:

My journey as a writer began long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away. Okay, maybe it wasn’t in a galaxy that far away, but it was long, long ago.
I remember learning to read the Dick and Jane books and from that time on books grabbed hold of my imagination and transported me around the world. Where ever I went my book went.
I went on to wander about Africa, thanks to Curious George and then there was Pippi Longstocking. And Heidi and the Swiss Alps. Anyway, you get the idea.
So, loving books and loving to read were the first steps in me becoming a writer. For me, I always had stories in my head. Most little girls play house with dolls and rock them and put them to bed....but my dolls didn’t have it quite that easy. They had extensive story plots to act out.
I’m old enough to remember when Mr. Potato Head was just plastic parts that you put on a real potato. And then there was his wife, Mrs. Potato Head and a bevy of children. Well, in Potato World, I was the queen and I would make up all kinds of problems for the Potatoes and their friends. And that was just the beginning of my stories.
I can’t remember not having stories in my head. Unfortunately, that’s where the characters and stories stayed—in my head.
Fast forward a few years and now, I’m 40, restless and unhappy. And a couple different things happened at around the same time. First, I was watching a TV show, probably Oprah. And a guest suggested you write you own obituary to give you guidance as to what you want to do in your life.
I felt silly but I did it. One of the things in my obituary was that I was the author of numerous bestselling novels. But how could that be? I hadn’t ever written anything except some poetry.
And then another Oprah suggestion—I was reading this little pink book called Simple Abundance. And a major theme of the book was finding your creativity and using it.
And that’s when the light bulb went off.
These stories in my head were the stories I was supposed to be writing down for everyone to enjoy—not just something for me to pass the time with while I was driving back and forth to work.
So, I started writing that day and I haven’t stopped yet.

And we are so glad you haven't! Welcome, Lillian! Thank you for coming on our blog and letting us all get to know you better. Now, time for a little Q & A.

We kind of already know the answer to this, but when did you first discover that you were a writer?

I was a late bloomer. I was 40 when I realized all those stories rumbling around in my head were the stories I was supposed to be writing down for others to enjoy.

What other books/short stories/articles/poems have you written, whether published or not?

I have 3 other books published. They are SHATTERED, SERENITY SPRINGS, OHIO, and IN A CORNER OF HER HEART.

Do you have an all time favorite book? Which genre do you prefer to read and why?

That’s a hard one. I love Gone With The Wind, but who doesn’t? I prefer mystery and suspense with a little romance thrown in.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I walk! I’m a low key type of person and when I feel I’m getting out of balance it’s easy for me to just take a few steps back and relax.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Hard question. I hate to brag but certainly working and retiring from a large metropolitan school district is right up there at the top.

What was your greatest roadblock in writing this book and others, and how did you overcome it?

ME! I am my own worst critic. I often feel like I’m not good enough, smart enough to do this thing called writing. But God gifted me with a spirit of tenacity so I keep writing.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

READ! READ! READ! Not just in your genre but in all genres. Classic and contemporary. WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! Until you start writing, you don’t know whether you can do it or not. The more you write the better you’ll get.

Now, tell us about the featured book - back cover blurb plus what this story means to you.

BLURB: Reggie Meyers has spent her life pursing the American Dream, but now she’s the one being pursued— by an unknown killer. Putting her trust in Dylan Monroe, a man she barely knows, will either be the best decision she ever made or the last.

Reggie’s a big city lawyer and Dylan’s a country farmer. In the normal course of events, their lives would never intersect but some accidents just aren't meant to be avoided. When Reggie crashes into Dylan, it makes a bad day even worse or so she thinks. Dylan, on the other hand, is intrigued by the feisty lady lawyer and wrangles a way to spend a bit more time with her by offering to drive her home after the accident. And so the journey that will change both their lives begins…

WHAT THIS STORY MEANS TO ME? PURSUED is a story near and dear to my heart. I wanted to write a story that showed some of the differences between "big-city" and "small-town" living, but in the end those differences are only superficial. The important thing is a person’s character not where they live or what they do for a job.

Check out her trailer! It's awesome!

How can readers find the book and where can they find you on the Internet?

It’s at all the major online bookstores along with being at

Bonus question: Tell us one interesting fact about you that your readers would find interesting, and maybe even surprising.

I was a group home mother many years ago for a Jewish organization. One of the things we had to do was run a Kosher house. It was a very interesting experience, especially keeping the dairy and the meat separated.

Wow! That IS interesting! Thank you again for stopping by, Lillian! If you, my friends, have questions or comments for Lillian, please leave them here and I'll make sure she gets them! Blessings to all!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Make-A-New-Friend Monday with Michele Clark

 Good Monday morning, my friends! And since it's Monday, I have a new friend to introduce to you. But first, quick update: I found out this past week that the release date to The Heart's Lullaby has been pushed back to March. :o( This was very disappointing news, but all things happen for a reason and maybe part of that reason was to focus immediately on the "5K for Patty" to benefit Ovarian Cancer Cancer Alliance. It's is moving along at a decent pace - even though I have NO IDEA what I'm doing - with the help and encouragement of some wonderful friends and I'm believing the Lord will bless our efforts. I have to believe this or I'll quit. Honestly. It's a big load on one's already full plate and I really would quit if I didn't believe with every fiber of my being that it will be a success. Please, PLEASE, pray this for me. I'll be posting a link for you to register (or donate) soon. But for now . . . meet Michele Clark!

Michele is a wonderful person who has been through a lot, but has sought the Lord through it all. What I will always remember most about Michele is one day when my Patty was in the hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, and I was stuck in Nashville, TN, going out of my mind that I couldn't get to my best friend, Michele selflessly went to the hospital for me to visit my Patty - someone she'd never met! She took Patty a little "Footprints" plaque, I think. It meant the world to Patty that someone would care so much and it meant the world to me. She's committed to being involved in my 5K for Patty and I love her so much for her willing spirit. You can learn more about her by following her blog: Now here's a word from Michele:

I thought coming up with a post for your own blog was difficult. Trying to decide what the right thing to write about for someone else’s blog is so hard. I mean – you guys don’t know me. You don’t know my crazy journey or my quirky personality. I’m not only showing you a little bit of myself (and I’m used to embarrassing myself) but I’m representing Jen and she’s a pretty special lady.

That being said, I guess I should give you a quick summary of my background. I became a single mom just over a year ago. It was a very difficult decision but in the end the right one. Setting out on my own after almost two decades was intimidating enough, but to move halfway across the country with three children could have been a disaster. I decided to move back home to be closer to my family. I quit my job of seventeen years and left my support system behind. Thus how I met Jen. My author friend Teresa from church sent me a copy of Jen’s first book. You know – the one about the single mom from Tennessee who moves to Ohio and finds true love? Guess where my adventure started and ended up?

(That’s me on the right. I was doing laundry right before going out. My friends didn’t believe me so I sent them a picture lol!) (This is Jen now. UNFORTUNATELY, when I copied and pasted the beautiful presentation that Michele put together for me, the pics didn't come so I ripped a pic of her FB page that I think she looks absolutely stunning in. Hope that's okay, Michele. We'll all believe you did the laundry! ;o) )

Right as this journey was beginning, the kids and I went to church camp. It was here that I got some pretty great advice: “Put it in God’s hands.” I have to admit I didn’t really grasp the true meaning of this. But I started to do it anyways. I prayed about my job search. I was going for the perfect job – the one that I would love and was exactly what they were looking for. But I had a feeling the morning of the interview. I got down on my knees and told God “I know this is the perfect job for me, but if it’s not the right one for my family please show me the one that is.” When they described more of the day to day details they mentioned that there would be a lot of 12-14 hour days. I knew right then I wasn’t going to get the job. It was down to me and another girl and she ended up with it. Two days after that I got called for an interview for my current job. The first thing my potential boss said was “family comes first.” Well, there ya go. No contest. I love my job and am grateful for the flexibility it provides. I put my family in God’s hands. What could have been a year of turmoil turned out great. The kids made friends right away. They loved their teachers. The school is awesome. We found a great church. My son asked me the first day we went if he could go there every day. I knew we were home.

The one part of my life I really resisted placing in God’s hands was dating. I figured I could handle it. Truth be told, I wasn’t exactly going about the search the way I knew God would want me to. Every so often I had a nagging sensation telling me I should really just hand over control. But I fought Him for another nine months. My conscience was really starting to bug me but still I ignored it. One day at work, one of my co-workers said “I really think you should put this search in God’s hands. I know He has the right man hand-picked for you and He’s waiting for you to let him have the reigns.” I was shocked. There was no way he could have known what was weighing on my heart. But God did. He knew I wasn’t quite getting the message. Apparently the string of really bad dates didn’t give me a clue or I was just too stubborn to listen.

Well, I figured that it was time. I’m always waiting for the big yellow flashing sign saying “Michele – this is what you are supposed to do.” This was close enough. I finally gave God control.

Less than two weeks later I met Wayne. He’s amazing! We are sooo right for each other. He told me he put the quest for love in God’s hands and He sent him an angel. How do you argue with logic like that? It’s mind-boggling that he did the same thing I did and let God take control. Wayne is from Ohio but was living in Michigan. He had lost his job in September. He truly believes that God made him lose the job so he would finally move back home. And then he found me. Or better yet, followed God’s direction and walked right into my life. By the way, the picture of me with the towel was taken the night I met Wayne :)

So, a year later, I’m sitting at church camp again. Typing this in the few minutes of peace and quiet I have as the kids take a hike. Reminiscing on all that God has done for me and my family in just a year. Excited for what he has in store for all of us in the future. Needless to say I’m putting it ALL in God’s hands from now on. He has blessed me so much. I am able to give my testimony for others because what He did for me.

I challenge you to figure out what parts of your life you haven’t given God control over yet. Pray on them. My hope for you is that you have just as incredible a year as I have. God bless!

Thank you, Michele! What a blessing that was and a reminder that God truly does have our best interest at heart even through the yucky parts! Readers, feel free to leave comments for Michele or connect with her on her blog or on FB:!/manchesterclark.

Next Monday I'll be hosting author Lillian Duncan so make sure to stop back! Have a great week!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Make-A-New-Friend Monday Introduces . . .

 I missed last Monday as I was on vacation in Colonial Williamsburg and Virginia Beach with my family. As you can see, we had a blast and it was a much needed break but now I'm once again behind the 8-ball.

So for today's Make-A-New-Friend Monday and in honor of the birthday of our country, I'd like to introduce you to AMY BEAUREGARD, a new face in Harvest Bay.

Welcome, Amy! Tell us a little about yourself.
Okay. Well, what do you want to know?

Let's start with where you're from. I mentioned that you're new to Harvest Bay. So where do you call "home" and why did you come to Harvest Bay?

I grew up on an orange farm in Southwestern Florida, but it hasn't been my "home" since my dad died when I was twelve. My mother left when I was really little so all I had left was my grandparents. They did the best they could but I left as soon as I turned eighteen.
Is that when you came to Harvest Bay?

No. I spent a year and a half basically being a beach bum. Then I got pregnant and realized that a great tan and surfing all day wouldn't support my kid so I became a medic in the United States Army. After serving for 10 years, including 2 tours in Iraq, I got out for good and came to Harvest Bay so my son, Dominick, could meet and develop a relationship with his father.

Are you going to tell us who Dominick's father is?

I'm sorry. That's confidential . . . for now.

Okay, then, tell us about Dominick. (Great name, by the way.)

Dominick is an amazing kid. He was born early and there were some complications which resulted in him becoming deaf. He’s really smart though and he loves any game with a ball.

So does that mean you know sign language?

Unfortunately, no. I was gone too much to learn it, but I'm slowly picking it up. My grandma, who was Dominick's guardian while I was stationed in other states and over seas, learned it with him. And his new stepmom is fluent in sign language. What else do you want to know?

Uh, well, since you are a veteran, tell us what the 4th of July means to you. 

I thought you might ask this. *Sigh* Since I've just recently left the military I'm presently recovering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and according to my psychiatrist I'm doing really well, but at this point fireworks are really bad. The noise and the sudden flashes of light -- they take me back to places I don't want to be. That said, I love this country. I've been stationed in other countries so I know first hand there are none better than the United States of America. I hate that so many, including my closest friend, have paid the ultimate price for our freedom, but I'm proud. Period.

I think I speak for all my readers when I say thank you for your service and I'm really sorry you experienced such loss.  


Moving on . . . so, Amy, what do you think the future holds for you and Dominick in Harvest Bay?

Hmm. I'm not sure. I've really felt "at home" here and made some really great friends . . .

Like who???

I'm sorry. That's confidential.

Right. Sorry. Please continue.

I've been advised by one of my, ahem, "friends" to open my heart to the possibilities and I'm just trying to do that. Your guess is as good as mine as to what the future holds.

One last question for today: the books in this series that you have become a part of are of strong Christian values and themes. Can you tell us where you are on your faith walk?

Well, as you can imagine, after losing my dad the way I did . . . 

Which is how???

I'm sorry. That's confidential. 

Right. Sorry. Please continue.

And then experiencing the, for lack of a better word, ugliness of war, I'm not at a very good place right now. But, as I said before, I'm trying to open my heart to the possibilities. And another friend told me to try seeing with my heart instead of my eyes. That one's a little trickier, but I'm working on it.  

Well, Amy, thank you for stopping by today and giving my readers a little peek into your life. I want to wish you a happy 4th of July and, again, thank you for serving our country.

Yep. Now, if you'll excuse me, Angel's waiting.

And who exactly is Angel?

*Calling over shoulder* Sorry. It's . . .

I know. Confidential. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Make-A-New-Friend Monday with K. Dawn Byrd

Most of you probably didn't notice but I missed my last Writing Wednesday. I'll make up for it this Wednesday and explain, but trust me. It was a good thing! ;o)

Today, I'm so thrilled to introduce you to another of my friends! Please, grab a cup of coffee, get comfy, and welcome K.Dawn Byrd!

Thanks for being here with us today, K. Dawn. Tell me, when did you first discover that you were a writer?

I've always been an avid reader and decided about three years ago to try my hand at writing. It's was so much fun that I haven't looked back. I can't imagine NOT writing.

What other books/short stories/articles/poems have you written, whether published or not?

Killing Time (inspirational romantic suspense) and Queen of Hearts (inspirational WWII romantic suspense), published in 2010 by Desert Breeze Publishing, available now. My first young adult novel, Mistaken Identity will release June 15. A contemporary romance will release October 15. For 2012, a new young adult mystery series will release through Desert Breeze, the first book in January.

Do you have an all time favorite book? Which genre do you prefer to read and why?

I don’t really have one all time favorite. I prefer to read romantic suspense because I like a fast moving plot. The romance adds tension and sweetens the plot.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Writing is like therapy for me. After working what can be an emotionally charged job during the day, it's nice to come home and unwind by writing. Having a full-time job that pays the bills keeps writing from being work, allows me to set my own pace, and makes it fun.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

One of my greatest accomplishments is marrying into a wonderful Christian family. My in-laws are very special people who have always lived Godly lives before us. My husband is my best friend and I thank God for allowing me to share my life with him. My stepdaughter is the light of my life and such a beautiful Christian young woman. I'm very proud of her.

What was your greatest roadblock in writing this book and others, and how did you overcome it?

The greatest roadblock is finding the time to write. I work a full-time job and am on call several weekends a month. I've overcome it by using my time wisely.

Ah, yes! I GOT to learn to do that! :o) So tell me, what advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Learn everything you can about the craft and if you truly love to write, don't quit.

That's great advice, K. Dawn! Working towards getting something published can be disheartening, wouldn't you say? And for me personally, with everything else I have going on, it was tempting to just throw in the towel, but you just can't. Thank you for that. Now, tell us about the featured book - back cover blurb plus what this story means to you.

Book Blurb:

Eden Morgan longs for a boyfriend of her own, an impossible goal when her best friend, Lexi Branson, gets all the attention and all the guys. When they fall in love with the same guy, Eden believes she doesn't have a chance. She can only hope that sometimes the good girl gets the guy.

The Passion Behind the Story:

I admire Christian teenagers who take a stand for God so much. Life isn't easy for them in today's world. The idea for Mistaken Identity novel came to me when I wondered what would happen if a Christian girl and her non-Christian best friend fell in love with the same guy. This book is dedicated to Christian young women who strive to live for Christ and wonder at times if it's worth it all. Temptation seems to come from all sides and sometimes it's hard to make the right decision. May God bless you richly as you carry on...

That sounds amazing! So, how can readers find the book and where can they find you on the Internet?


Bonus question: Tell us one interesting fact about you that your readers would find interesting, and maybe even surprising.

I used to ride a Harley Davidson, but gave it up in order to have more time to write. My husband still rides, but I don't ride behind him.

If you have a young Christian woman in your life, don't pass up the chance to get her a copy of this amazing book by K. Dawn Byrd! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Testament Tuesday

I picked a Psalm that I love for Testament Tuesday because it's summer and often people vacation at the beach. I made a note of this on my personal facebook page so maybe you've already seen it, but I'll bold and cap what I want you to pay specific attention to (and I wouldn't be me if I didn't throw my $.02 in a time or two . . . or three . . . )

Psalms 139

O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
 2 You know my sitting down and my rising up;
         You understand my thought afar off.
 3 You comprehend my path and my lying down,
         And are acquainted with all my ways.
 4 For there is not a word on my tongue,
         But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
 5 You have hedged me behind and before,
         And laid Your hand upon me.
 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
         It is high, I cannot attain it.

(LOVE this section!)
 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?
         Or where can I flee from Your presence?
 8 If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
         If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
 9 If I take the wings of the morning,
         And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
 10 Even there Your hand shall lead me,
         And Your right hand shall hold me.
 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,”
         Even the night shall be light about me;
 12 Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You,
         But the night shines as the day; 
         The darkness and the light are both alike to You.

(Isn't that reassuring??? Nothing you go through - good or bad times - is without the presence of God. Nothing.)
 13 For You formed my inward parts;
         You covered me in my mother’s womb. (Is that not beautiful??? Have you ever stopped to think how amazing the human body is? How much of a miracle it is that we can just breath, let alone everything else we can do?)
 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; (Can I get an AMEN???)
         Marvelous are Your works, 
         And that my soul knows very well.
 15 My frame was not hidden from You,
         When I was made in secret, 
         And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
 16 Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
         And in Your book they all were written, 
         The days fashioned for me, 
         When as yet there were none of them.


 19 Oh, that You would slay the wicked, O God!
         Depart from me, therefore, you bloodthirsty men.
 20 For they speak against You wickedly;
         Your enemies take Your name in vain.
 21 Do I not hate them, O LORD, who hate You?
         And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
 22 I hate them with perfect hatred;
         I count them my enemies.

(Obviously this was pre-Jesus. David hadn't yet been taught to love your enemies as yourself.)
 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
         Try me, and know my anxieties;
 24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
         And lead me in the way everlasting.

So when you go to the beach, whether in Florida or California or the Carolinas, where ever, look at all the sand and know God loves you. Try to count the grains in just a handful. Impossible for us! But that is how much He thinks about you! Wow!

If you still have trouble believing how much He loves you, I leave you with our New Testament verse for the day: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." ~John 3:16-17

Have a blessed day, my friends, knowing you are well loved and thought about no matter where you go or what you do. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Make-A-New-Friend Monday with Raquel Dunn

Yea! I love Make A New Friend Monday because I get to introduce you to some of my very wonderful friends. Today I have guest blogger, Raquel Dunn.

Raquel and I met when her husband taught at the school where I still teach third grade. Her little girl was 2 or 3 at the time and sometimes Raquel would come in to pick her up. She was always super friendly, but always "put together" and I so admired that about her. As time went on, they moved, but I continued to communicate with her periodically through facebook and I began to admire her beautiful heart even more. That is exactly what she's going to share with you in her post today. First, a little background . . .

A small town girl, with big city dreams, Raquel Dunn’s love for writing propelled her to leave her hometown of Coeburn, Virginia, to pursue a career in television news. After spending five years in various newsrooms, Raquel realized her true passion lie elsewhere and and set out to find a more creative outlet in television. In September 2006 she became a producer for The 700 Club, a truly fulfilling and rewarding career move. After two wonderful years there, her husband was called to be a pastor and she stepped down to follow God's direction for their family.

Raquel now resides in Knoxville, Tennessee where she stays at home with her two children and has now taken on the role of homeschooling her daughter. Since writing has always been a job for her, Raquel is excited to see where God will lead her as she allows Him to use her talent to share some of the amazing ways God has worked in her life. You can check out her blog to read more of her story.

Fill My Cup Lord's a simple word really with many definitions, but the first thing that come to mind is an object you pour a beverage into. Webster's defines a cup as, “a small vessel of capacity, used commonly to drink out of.” The phrase, “a small vessel of capacity” is a striking statement really because as we look at our own lives, that's exactly what we are...small vessel's of capacity. We are God's cups.

Jesus told told the Pharisees in Matthew 23:25,and 26, “Woe unto you...for you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.” David, the great king of Israel, who beautifully orchestrated so many of the Psalms, knew what it meant to be the Lord's cup. Three times in the Psalms, he alludes to the portion of a cup. In Psalm 11:6, “Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and a horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.” Then in Psalm 16:5, “The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup:”and finally the most famous Psalm of all...Psalm 23:5, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies: thou anointest my head with oil: my cup runneth over.” Each and everyone of us is a small vessel, or cup, in which God wants to pour into, but that can only happen when we allow Him to do so. All too often, we choose to fill our own cups, never realizing what God is waiting to fill us with.

Examine what you fill your cup with and then think about what God wants to fill you with. Perhaps you find yourself in one of these categories.

• You worry, while God wants to fill you with peace.
• You choose resentment, but God wants to teach you how to love.

• You allow yourself to be overcome with greed as you try to keep up with “The Jones” but easily forget that God has supplied all your needs.

• Sometimes you allow anger to reign when God is asking you to forgive...because He first forgave you.

• Frustration boils over and you damage important relationships, but God wants to instill patience in you to endure those hardships.

• You busy yourself with work to avoid anymore heartaches, when God says rest and be still. It is then that you can know He is God.

• So many areas of your life are affected as bitterness spreads like a cancer within you, when if you just stopped focusing on your pain, you could see God's blessings as you walk with Him.

• There are days your cup is overrun with hopelessness, but God says He will give you hope and an expected end.

• Trials of life can bring so much sadness, but God is there asking you to let Him to restore the joy of His salvation.

None of us can ever be a completely empty vessel. We must be filled with something. It's our nature. It's how we function. Just like a car needs gas, oil and so many other parts to run...we need something to fill our hearts, minds and souls with. Think about it. Have you ever really been able to stop feeling or thinking or just being? Of course not!! God did not create us to be that way. He created us to be filled with His greatness.

So, How do we keep from filling our cups ourself? How do we allow God to pour His majesty into us? It's simple really. Where we allow our cups to be filled depends on where we go when life overwhelms us. Are we turning to the world? Finding our answers in magazines or horoscopes. Perhaps you look to Oprah or Dr. Phil, when the first place you should turn to is the Word. God breathed His Word into the pens of men so that you might find a way to fill your cup with something better than the world has to offer. He's there waiting to mold you and shape you. He is the potter and you are the clay...but what goes into your cup is up to you.

Just take a moment...maybe it's time to empty your cup with whatever you've allowed in and be filled with what God desires for you. Maybe your cup is like David's and overflowing. Wherever you find yourself today, let's just be still and know He is God.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Writing Wednesday

So I'm a day late on Writing Wednesday. It's because I was . . . WRITING!!! :o) Actually, struggling to write more like it as I wasn't feeling too good yesterday. I had a bad headache. Not good when a deadline is looming. :o(

The Heart's Lullaby is coming along, still slower than I'd like but, hey, I'm a mama first. I watch two kids a couple days a week over the summer and today when they get picked up their aunt is taking my two girls with them to watch Kung Fu Panda 2 so I'll write a lot then! Well, the little boy wanted to know what I was going to do at home all by myself! (He just graduated Kindergarten, thus life revolves around kids in his eyes.) I told them that I have to work on my book because I can't get anything done on it while the girls are home! He said, "Yeah, but you'd rather have them then your story." AMEN TO THAT!!!

I got my new author pic yesterday. What do you think??? My friend that shoots my covers took it and took several of my family. I've got them up on facebook. So things are coming slowly but surely. I'd appreciate just a few prayers for continued inspiration these next few weeks. And may my fingers fly!   

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Testament Tuesday

Confession moment: I am not as knowledgable about the Bible as I should be. I can't pull verses to mind when I need them and I admit it's because I don't spend the time I know I should studying the Scripture. It makes me feel really inadequate, but I have a feeling I'm not alone. It's why I've felt led to start Testament Tuesdays where I'll post a verse from the Old and New Testaments for us to meditate on throughout the week. Maybe it'll speak to your heart. Hopefully it'll make us more familiar with the Bible which should be our goal, right?
This week's verses are two of my favorites: Isaiah 40:31 and Romans 5:3-4.

Isaiah 40:31 says, "But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." This verse has been a comfort to me when I feel I'm pursuing an unattainable goal. It means different things to different people but to me it means that if we keep our sights on the Lord, in His time, we WILL achieve HIS WILL which is more important than our goals. He will never disappoint.

Romans 5:3-4 says, "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." Kinda makes you feel good about the trials we go through, doesn't it? It does for me. It reminds me of the story of the silversmith. When a silversmith makes silver he has to hold the piece over the fire. He can't take his eye off of it and he knows the piece is ready when he sees his own reflection in it. Through every fire we're held over, we develop the drive to make it through. As we make it through, we learn more about ourselves and our place in God's world. We develop our character and we develop a deeper desire for our Lord to see Himself when He looks at us. That's the hope. That's what I get out of this verse.

What do these verses mean to you? How do they speak to your heart?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Make-A-New-Friend Monday with Kaye Dacus

Some authors can blog every day of the week. Most have some sort of schedule. I can't ever reach a good balance between blogging and writing and besides that I can't believe I have anything to say that others would be interested in. But consistency is key, so I came up with a mon-wed schedule that I think I can maintain and anything above and beyond that is bonus.

So, introducing . . . MAKE-A-NEW-FRIEND MONDAYS! On Mondays I'll introduce you to my writer friends (both published and prepublished because there are a lot of talented prepublished writers out there!), other friends with important missions, and maybe even some of my characters! I thought today it'd only be right to start this new blogging schedule with an interview from a talented author who I'm blessed to be able to call one of my mentors, Kaye Dacus.

Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters! Kaye Dacus is the author of humorous, hope-filled contemporary and historical romances with Barbour Publishing and Harvest House Publishers. She holds a Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, is a former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers, and currently serves as President of Middle Tennessee Christian Writers. Kaye lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and even though she writes romance novels, she is not afraid to admit that she’s never been kissed.

Welcome, Kaye! Thank you for joining us today and being my first "new friend". Also, on a personal note, thank you for all the advice and help you've given me with The Heart's Lullaby (update on that coming up on Writing Wednesday). When one pursues writing for more than a hobby (in addition to having a "real" job, and kids, and a husband, and a house to take care of . . . Need I go on???) it's so important to have a network of writers that truly supports and encourages and you have. So thank you! :o) Now I know my readers would like to get to know more about you, so on to the interview!

Q. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Even though I started writing when I was a young teen (because I wanted to be able to continue the next day the story I’d been playing out with my Barbies—until one day, I forgot to pick up the dolls and just went straight to the pencil and paper), it wasn’t until I was sixteen or seventeen when I really felt like writing was what I really wanted to do with my life. I just didn’t have anyone around me who knew how to direct me. My parents encouraged me, but they weren’t sure how to give me guidance. I had a wonderful Creative Writing teacher in high school and that was when I knew for sure that I wanted to be like him—I wanted to be able to teach others how to do what it was I loved doing so much. But it wasn’t until much later in my life, at the age of thirty, that I truly thinking about and pursuing publication.

Q. What other books/short stories/articles/poems have you written, whether published or not? 
Having started writing when I was young, I have a bunch of “stuff”—lots of first chapters and story ideas which never got finished (and never will), along with a more than 200,000-word tome that I wrote for almost ten years, based on the imaginary/fantasy lives of my college friends and me—more of a long series of slice-of-life vignettes than a true novel with a single driving plot line. It wasn’t until after I attended my first writers’ conference in 2001 that I stopped playing and got serious about crafting a novel. From 2001 to 2003, I wrote three complete manuscripts. In 2003, I came up with an idea that would, several years later, become my first published novel, Stand-In Groom, which was published in December 2008. Since then, I’ve written eight additional novels, which means that by the end of 2011, I’ll have nine published novels out:

The Brides of Bonneterre
Stand-In Groom
Menu for Romance
A Case for Love
(All three are now available in a one-volume Brides of Bonneterre omnibus)

The Ransome Trilogy
Ransome’s Honor
Ransome’s Crossing
Ransome’s Quest (August 2011)

The Matchmakers
Love Remains
The Art of Romance
Turnabout’s Fair Play (November 2011)

Q. Do you have an all time favorite book? Which genre do you prefer to read and why?
I’ve been such an avid reader since childhood that it’s hard to choose just one book as a favorite. The book that had the greatest impact on my life was one of a series of historical YA romances from the 1980s—Victoria by Willo Davis Roberts. Even more than wanting to remember the stories I’d been playing out with my dolls, this book is what drove me to write, as I couldn’t let go of the characters after their happy ending, so I began writing a sequel. I never finished it—because too many of my own story ideas started taking precedence.

My favorite genre to read is historical romance, especially British and Scottish medievals, probably because those are some of the first historical romances I ever read. 

Q. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
You’re implying that I’m sane? ;-)

My friends and family keep me as grounded as I ever get—I know I can call my mom or closest friends at any time and they’ll talk me off the ledge. It’s also one of the reasons why I spend so much time online between Facebook, Twitter, and my blog, communicating with family, friends, colleagues, and readers—sometimes, those online interactions are the only communication I have with others for days at a time. 

Q. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
After dropping out of college at age twenty-one, my proudest moment came at age thirty-five when I walked across the stage at Seton Hill University to be “hooded” and accept my Master of Arts degree. Although I know it made my family proud, the greatest sense of accomplishment came from completing what God called me to start in the first place.

Q. What was your greatest roadblock in writing this book and others, and how did you overcome it?  
I had two pretty big roadblocks with this book—the first was a very short turnaround time—only two and a half months from the time I finished writing another book (Ransome’s Quest) and the due date for The Art of Romance. And then, two weeks after the book was due—and with me only about two-thirds of the way finished, I fell and really messed up my ankle—breaking both bones and dislocating the foot, causing a lot of soft-tissue damage. Because I live alone—and in a house with steps to get in and out—I ended up relocating to Arkansas to stay with my parents while I went through surgery and recovery. And while it would seem logical that being laid-up with a broken ankle would be the perfect time to concentrate on writing, it actually made writing harder. Because I’d spent the previous two years constantly on writing deadlines and not being able to take a break from it, my creative well was already dry, so the stress and turmoil of surgery and doctor appointments and everything that went along with the injury, as well as being away from home for so long just compounded that lack of creativity. But what a blessing my parents were (and are)—taking care of me, chauffeuring me around, and giving me the room/time I needed to get my work done. The book was due October 15, and I finally got it finished and turned in on January 3.

Q. What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
The best writing tip I ever received was from Davis Bunn at the 2001 Blue Ridge conference: “Above all else, FINISH YOUR FIRST DRAFT!”

We learn more about writing by actually completing novels than we do by obsessively polishing and editing our first three chapters. So set the beginning aside and get that manuscript finished! And then finish another one. And another one. And another one.
If I hadn’t learned how to write a manuscript all the way through from beginning to end without getting caught up in that revision loop, I never would have been able to publish nine novels in less than three years.

Q. Tell us about the featured book, Art of Romance, - back cover blurb plus what this story means to you.
It was fun to dig into the psyche of an artist for Dylan Bradley’s character—especially since both of my grandfathers were hobbyists (one was an oil painter the other a sketch artist). And then having a heroine who’s a romance novelist. . .let’s just say a lot of me went into Caylor Evans’s character!

This book gave me a chance to write a different kind of hero—a creative-type who’s more in touch with his emotions and who’s more sensitive than most of the male characters I write. . .even more than me in some instances. I know this has created difficulty for some readers who expect the “alpha male” type of hero in a romance novel. But it was nice for me to be able to write a story which turns those stereotypical hero/heroine roles on their head. She’s older, she’s stronger, she’s settled, she’s successful; he’s younger, he’s just come out of an emotionally abusive relationship, he has no job, he’s trying to figure out who he is and what he wants to do with his life.

Here’s the official blurb:
Sassy Evans and Perty Bradley are determined to get their older grandchildren married off, but when twenty-eight-year-old Dylan comes home after being fired from his teaching position because of the betrayal of his ex-girlfriend, Perty knows her grandson has more important issues to deal with first.

Sassy understands her friend’s reservations about timing, but she also sees so many ways in which Dylan would be the perfect match for her thirty-four-year-old granddaughter Caylor. With his record of acclaimed paintings and Caylor’s bestselling novels, they could complement each other’s talents and provide each other support and encouragement. And there’s no denying the spark of attraction between the English professor with the untamed red hair and the painter with the unusual tattoos.

But neither grandmother realizes the secrets both Caylor and Dylan are keeping from each other. Will pain and embarrassment from the past keep Caylor and Dylan apart, or will they develop the courage to be truthful with each other and discover the true art of romance?

Q. How can readers find the book and where can they find you on the Internet? 
You can find out more about my books (with links to all the different buying options) here: 

I blog five days a week at I also love connecting with readers on my Facebook page ( and on Twitter (!/kayedacus).

Bonus question: Tell us one interesting fact about you that your readers would find interesting, and maybe even surprising. 
It’s usually most surprising when people find out that, even though I’m a forty-year-old romance-novel author, I’ve never been kissed—never even had a boyfriend!

Wow! That is interesting. All I can say to that is the fellas don't know what they're missing! And there's so much to be said for your character that you're waiting for your special hero and not settling for a secondary character in the meantime. I hope and pray my two little girls have the same integrity.

I haven't been able to read this book but it's first on my list after I meet my deadline so my review will be coming. In the meantime, my friends, go grab you a copy and let us know what you think! 'Tis pool reading season after all and I'm confident you WON'T be disappointed!