I knew that C.S. Lewis and I had more in common than our Christianity when he said, "You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me." Welcome to a celebration of faith, tea, and the written word. I'm always engaged in a book, and whether it's one I'm reading or one of the inspirational historical romances I write, there's always a cup of tea close by. Join me in a cup as we chat about faith, our favorite books and the exciting places our reading and writing adventures take us.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Patti Lacy's The Rhythm of Secrets

Everyone has secrets, parts of themselves they keep hidden from the world. In Patti Lacy’s latest release, The Rhythm of Secrets, pastor’s wife Sheila Franklin has not even told her husband about the time she spent as Sheba Alexander and Sylvia Allen, girls whose shameful identities have been carefully tucked away. Then the phone rings, and the pain of the past demands answers.

Sweeping from the jazz-infused New Orleans of the 1940’s to 1960’s Chicago, Minnesota, and Thailand, The Rhythm of Secrets is a story of lies, fear, and ultimately, the redemption and forgiveness of God and His power to redeem and restore both souls and relationships.

Sheba Alexander is a loved child, comforted by the jazz that fills her home in New Orleans. When tragedy strikes, she loses her parents and her name when she is forced to live with her cold grandmother and go by Sheila. Yearning for acceptance and affection, she finds herself pregnant and unwed, sent north to bear her baby in secret under the pseudonym Sylvia Allen. Twenty years later, Sheila’s husband is a prominent pastor who doesn’t know about her past…but the rhythms of jazz still flow through her blood, as does her love for the son she gave up so long ago.

Reading Sheila’s story, I was moved by her endurance, faith, and ultimate strength as she takes action to help her son and the woman he loves. Her growth as a character is poignant and realistic, as the issues she encounters – racism, prostitution, prejudice, and teenage pregnancy – aren’t neat or tidy. Likewise, Sheila and her husband, Edward, are flawed characters who struggle with fear, pride, and concern for what others may think. Their struggle to work through these issues and flaws as God would have them do is not simple, and I appreciate the journeys the characters take to obey His will.

It bears stating that Lacy does an incredible job weaving historical and sensory details into the story. From the music of New Orleans to the tastes of Thailand, the scenes are richly faceted, giving a deep sense of time and place. The writing is top-notch and I thoroughly lost myself in Sheila's captivating tale, which is based on a true story. I’m also grateful for Lacy's commitment to bring difficult themes to light, showing that God’s love trumps hypocrisy, judgment, and sin every time.

I heartily recommend The Rhythm of Secrets to any reader of inspirational fiction. In fact, I’m going to read it again with a friend so we can discuss it, using the group discussion questions at the end of the book.

Copies can be found at your favorite retailer, CBD.com, or Amazon. Also, it's well worth a visit to Patti's website, http://www.pattilacy.com/, to check out the links to the music selections which inspired each chapter heading.

I received a copy of this book from Kregel Publications for the purposes of review.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shamrock Shakes and Getting it Right

O Grunacery promotional bevearge cup design.
The good old days at Mc Donald's...
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Today I've got a post on the Inkwell blending St. Patrick (of course), 80's anthem "We Are the World," and moving on from childhood knowledge of the Bible. With a little bit of Shamrock Shake thrown in there (mainly, me lamenting that my McDonald's doesn't have one anymore), it's a bit of a green frenzy.

Hope you can check it out! (click here.) And if you're a Regency fan, stay tuned... soon I'll be showcasing two-hundred year old costumes similar to what Mr. Darcy or Elizabeth Bennett might have worn.
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Monday, March 14, 2011

Playing with Ken Dolls

Ken, c. 1961Image via WikipediaGuess who turned 50 this past weekend?

The ever-dashing, true-blue Ken doll, that's who. Ken Carson, to be more precise, the fashionista beau of Barbie (Roberts, if you were wondering). Ken has accomplished a lot in the last 50 years, holding down countless jobs, attending untold number of proms and weddings, and wearing some groovy outfits and hairdos.

I owned two Ken dolls in my time. Both looked far handsomer than the one in the picture (who, frankly, looks a bit ill to me. Maybe he's bothered by his huge buttons.). One was a Superstar Ken, who wore a royal blue velveteen jumpsuit complete with red belt and ascot. He made a fine date to my Barbies' more glamorous events. My second Ken had some sort of "sport 'n shave" name, and you could color his jawline with a brown marker and then "shave" the "beard" with a foam "razor." Jock that he was, he came attired in 80's style athletic shorts and looked macho on the Barbies' camping trips.

I have a certain fondness for Barbie and Ken dolls. Not that I play with them anymore...but the truth of the matter is that as a writer, I do sorta play with dolls. Except now they're called characters. In my head and on the page, they get named, posed, made over, dressed up, cast aside, broken and fixed. I decide what they'll do for a living, what they'll say to each other, how they'll feel, who they'll love, and whether or not they like brussel sprouts or have a relationship with God. I try very hard to make them multi-faceted, disappointed, hopeful, angry, and determined, just like real people.

I have a vivid memory from childhood. I was pretending at something, and I thought, "this is too much fun. I don't know why grown-ups don't pretend more. But not me. I will never stop pretending."

And I haven't. The scenes I invent for my imaginary friends may be a little more involved than proms or camping trips, but they're no less fun.

Here's to pretending. And Happy Birthday, Ken. Thanks for the memories.

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