Looking forward to a bright New Year! May the Lord bless you and keep you.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Friday, December 4, 2020
"My Vocation is Love"
...so said St. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-1897), French Catholic Discalced Carmelite nun who is also known as "The Little Flower."
Years ago when I learned about her, my life changed. Her existence on earth was short and small, in that she was not famous or revered. She was devoted to Jesus and lived out that love in a fellowship of fellow nuns that was not necessarily as harmonious or life-giving as it sounds. Living in a fellowship with other human beings isn't without conflict, of course.
She was often cold and hungry. She suffered terribly before dying.
But God used her writings and her love for Him and others to inspire, comfort, and bless millions around the world.
In these difficult days of Covid-19, which for me have included high anxiety and at times even anger, the Lord has been drawing me back to Thérèse. To her reminder that "the world's thy ship, not thy home."
To the call for my vocation to love. Not to judge or be righteously upset at others' judgment, not to be vexed or resent others' vexations, but to love.
I haven't been doing very well with that, I confess. This season of Covid has revealed ugliness in our society, in our hearts, in our world. People say things from behind the safety of a keyboard or a phone screen that they wouldn't say to another person's face. I'm not saying that sometimes lines shouldn't be drawn in the sand: the Lord shows us that it is sometimes necessary to cut off, cast away, tear down and rebuild.
But I've seen lines drawn that do nothing but drive others away from the Gospel, and I confess I've been saddened and angry.
These are strange days indeed, but God's call hasn't changed. To follow His commandments. To serve Him and others. To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with Him. To love.
I'm thankful for the example of Thérèse, and for the Lord using her to give me the gentle nudge to seek Him and live in His love first and foremost.
Draw me, we will run...To ask to be drawn is to will intimate union with the object which holds the heart captive. If fire and iron were gifted with reason, and that the latter said to the fire: "Draw me," would not this prove that it desired to become identified with the fire even so far as to share its substance? Well, that is exactly my prayer. I beg of Jesus to draw me into the flames of His Love, to unite me so closely to Himself that He may live and act in me. I feel that the more the fire of love inflames my heart, the more I shall say: "Draw me," the more also will the souls who draw near to mine run swiftly in the fragrant odors of the Well-Beloved.
Story of A Soul, Chapter XI
Thursday, October 1, 2020
For Writers: Get to Know Your Characters
Today's post is for writers, rather than readers.
Lately, I've received a lot of questions about how I sketch out characters. Online, you can find a lot of character questionnaires to help get to know the imaginary friends who live in our heads. My version is below.
Before you start, though, I suggest you answer three essential questions about your main character(s): what does he or she want? Why do they want it? What is stopping them?Right there, you've answered your character's primary GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. Each main character should start the story wanting something, for a particular reason that is rooted in the core of their being (perhaps related to their core wound), but has a problem getting it. And in a romance, the hero and heroine's goals often clash.
Friday, September 4, 2020
Love's Pure Light Giveaway
To celebrate the release of Love's Pure Light: A Christmas Novella Collection, we're giving away a prize basket to one lucky reader! The winner will receive a Willow Tree 6-piece Nativity, a $30 Amazon gift card, and a paperback copy of Love's Pure Light--a total value of $135!
To enter: click here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/3b7783451/?
This giveaway is not affiliated with Amazon, Facebook, or Instagram. We're sorry, but due to high shipping costs, this giveaway is only open to U.S. residents.
About Love's Pure Light:
Four stories follow a treasured family nativity set through four generations of the Shepherd family.
While Shepherds Watch Are Keeping by Susanne Dietze
This Christmas, Pastor Seth Shepherd has little to offer his flock of congregants in their time of need until Jessalyn Grant, a mysterious newcomer, comes to his aid.
The Wise Guy and the Star by Shannon McNear
Charleston, South Carolina, to Kansas City, Missouri, 1919
While journeying by train, Stella Shepherd befriends war veteran Nat Wise. She helps him find renewed faith in God, but could he also be the answer to the wanderings of her own heart?
On Angel Wings by Janine Rosche
Kansas City, Missouri, 1945
Elodie Wise plans a fundraising ball with the help of her friend Benjamin Gabriel. But can she look past the swanky Hollywood headliner to see the man who truly loves her?
Making Room at the Inn by Deborah Raney
Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Present Day
Benjie Gabriel thinks the chef’s position she’s just taken at an award-winning bed and breakfast is temporary—just a stepping stone. The B&B’s owner, Trevor Keye, thinks the same. Will five months be long enough for them to figure out that what they’ve each been longing for, praying for, is right beneath their noses?
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
A Short Word of Encouragement
Saturday, July 11, 2020
99 Cent Sale!
Hurry! Limited time only on Kindle! Just eleven cents per story. Click here!
Includes my story In for a Penny
1894 – Philadelphia, PA
Banking heiress Penelope Beale is pushed by her status-conscious parents to marry a lofty English lord, but she’s drawn instead to a lowly art historian who shares her passion for service—Emmett Retford, the lord’s younger brother.
Friday, June 12, 2020
What are you Reading During Quarantine?
I'm like Cookie Monster, but with books.
Then again, maybe I'm like that with cookies, too. But I digress.
Here's what I'm reading right now:
What are you reading this week?
Sunday, April 19, 2020
Am I Wasting Quarantine?
In other words, I'd decided not to waste my quarantine.
It's now been a full month since my kids came home, and almost that long since my state went into "Stay at home" mode. I have prayed, I have written a few letters, I have cooked weird meals using what I have in the cupboard, and I have written a book proposal which was turned in on time. A few times, I've sat in the sun to read and absorb Vitamin D. I've cleaned some things, but--
My home office and closet are still cluttered messes.
I haven't done all that much self-care. Or a single craft project (unless you count trying to make no-sew masks).
And most of all, I have not spent the amount of time with the Lord I've wanted to. Needed to.
The reason for this is as simple as it is complicated: life is messy. Quarantine has created a host of new activities, sources of stress, and distractions that have altered the way we function around here.
Maybe you can relate to one or more of these changes/challenges:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Adjustment/clutter due to four people working at home
- Kids experiencing stress, grief, and struggle. Graduation and the celebrations surrounding it? Not happening. Job interviews, plans with friends, rites of passage, expectations, relationships? Truncated abruptly. Each of my kids handles these things differently. How do we help our kids right now? This is not a simple, one-paragraph answer. It takes a lot of prayer, time, hope, and support.
- Increased planning, creativity, and energy when it comes to food shopping for our family as well as for extended family
- Rationing certain foods
- A cycle of discouragement, since I feel like there's a very big shoe about to drop. I'm not sure what that shoe looks like: is it my family getting sick? Is it someone I know dying? And then I sometimes go through guilt/self-condemnation for my fears: I should be trusting God more.
- Our neighbor's newborn baby. We visited with him--keeping proper social distance--on the porch yesterday! Little hiccups, little toes, little fingers, big wide eyes.
- Zoom. It's not the same as being together in person but it's better than nothing! I'm proud of my parents for learning how to do it and getting together with a group of friends once a week!
- Everyone sewing masks for strangers! Every act of kindness and love I hear of! Every word of encouragement I hear on the radio, TV, or in a song!
- Time with my kids.
- Birdsong, flowers blooming, blue sky. God's creation is beautiful.
- The resources we have to engage with the Lord. Books! Internet! Other's words of encouragement!
Friday, March 20, 2020
Hidden in the Shadow of His Wings
I'm sheltering with our kids at home now--as sheltered as we can be, anyway. Today I'm praying for the world, for those close to my heart, and for love to grow and diminish the spread of fear and the virus.
God bless and keep you, dear ones. He loves you and He hears you. Sending you virtual hugs (the only kind allowed in these days of social distancing!).
Monday, March 16, 2020
Ten Things to do While Stuck at Home
I haven't shared a list of Ten Things in a while, but as we face the upcoming days of working from home/isolation/quarantine due to the global spread of COVID-19, I thought I'd challenge myself to come up with ten things I would be doing, other than writing, while I'm at home.
Will you try any of these? What are your plans for non-working time spent at home?
- Clean up the home office office. After writing three novellas and a novel in somewhat-rapid succession, I have neglected a lot of housework. The office has become a family dumping ground for bills, crafts, and things we don't know what to do with, not to mention all of my writing-related stuff. And by stuff, I mean STUFF. This room needs help!
- Journal about my experiences during these unprecedented times. I've asked my kids to do this, too. Journaling helps us process our feelings as we record our experiences. These records may also be of benefit to future generations. My son is a budding historian, so he knows how valuable these types of documents can be. Someday he'll be telling his students about what life was like during this period of history!
- READ. Of course! I have a huge TBR pile. I can't wait to dive in!
- Make a craft. I never have as much time as I wish to do little creative projects. Right now I want to make ribbon angel ornaments for Christmas. Please be aware my angels are not very good. This is not an exaggeration. I am not being humble. But they're fun to make.
- Play a board game, do a puzzle--something fun and engaging with the people who are homebound with you!
- Check in with neighbors, especially elderly/vulnerable ones. Do they need food? Toilet paper? Is there anything I can give them or do for them?
- Write letters. I owe my real, snail mail letters to my aunt, my penpal, and a few others. I should probably write notes to others. I love getting real snail mail, and my mailbox gets lonely!
- Binge Watch a show I've been wanting to see, but haven't yet had time.
- Exercise--by walking around my neighborhood (or house, if weather is inclement, as it's looking to be today. I just took a 20 minute walk through the house while I talked to my mom on the phone.).
- Cook using what I find in my cupboards. Our last trip to the market didn't end up with us getting everything on my list. I still have food in the pantry, though, so it's time to get creative. I just found a half cup of quinoa. I cooked it, added parsley, chives, and basil from my yard, as well as tomatoes, oil and vinegar. I wish I had feta cheese to go into it, but oh well. It'll be a nice lunch!
- I know this list says Ten Things, but how can I leave off prayer? I am going to curl into a cozy chair, read Scripture, meditate on the Lord, and pray. The list of requests is huge, relating to coronavirus alone. There are so many ramifications, and like most everyone else, I am worried about my kids, my parents, our families, the people I know who are sick but haven't been tested for coronavirus, the economic hardships this is causing, etc etc etc. Thanks be to God that He is in control and He is with us!
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Not sure how long the sale will last, but it's currently less than fifty cents per story on Kindle!
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
ACFW New Releases, January 2020