Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Memories

We're having our ninth Geary family get-together in Colorado. We've been meeting every other year since 1992. My sister, Kathy, surprised us with a DVD of pictures from the previous eight Christmases. Lots of laughter at the big hair of the early nineties, outdoor wear, and memories. And a few tears since this is our first Christmas where we're all together without Mom.

Bittersweet. But thankfully we continue to make more memories . . . and adding pictures to the ones we already have. We have great times when we're together.

Please share any Christmas memories you have in the comments.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas week

Another busy week. *smile* I do love Christmas, and I love celebrating our Savior's birth with my family. Every other year my siblings and their families join us in Colorado for Christmas. This year is another Geary family year. My brother, Richard, and his family are already here. And we are enjoying good times and good conversations, waiting for my sister, Kathy, and her family to join us later today. They will all leave next Monday, but we have five jam-packed days planned.

Tomorrow is tubing on the tube hill at Camp Eden, the annual candlelight Christmas Eve service at our church at 5:00, and a soup supper here. Thursday, of course, is Christmas when we open presents and have a big dinner. We'll have thirteen people here (at last count!). We never know, but we always have plenty of food!

Friday, the ladies have a tea party planned. We're not sure what the guys are doing yet, but I'm sure they'll come up with something! Then Saturday we are taking the Ski Train to Winter Park for a big family day of skiing and snowshoeing. We did this two years ago and decided it would become a tradition for whenever we get together.

Sunday is church and dinner out with our stepfather. So it is a busy week. This is also our first Christmas all together without our mom. I've already had a few "bad" moments, and we will have some as a family, but Mom is celebrating her second Christmas in heaven, and we really don't wish her back.

Today, I'm including all the Bible readings for the rest of the year with this post. I do plan to be back before then, though. *smile*

Daily Bible reading: Tuesday, December 23—Nehemiah 12–13; Luke 21:1–19
Wednesday, December 24—Micah 1–3; Luke 21:20–38
Thursday, December 25—Micah 4–5; Luke 22:1–20
Friday, December 26—Micah 6–7; Luke 22:21–46
Saturday, December 27—Zechariah 1–4; Luke 22:47–71
Sunday, December 28—Zechariah 5–8; Luke 23:1–25
Monday, December 29—Zechariah 9–12; Luke 23:26–56

Tuesday, December 30—Zechariah 13–14; Luke 24:1–35
Wednesday, December 31—Malachi; Luke 24:36–53

Friday, December 19, 2008

Where Do I Go? by Neta Jackson

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Where Do I Go?

Thomas Nelson (December 9, 2008)


Neta Jackson

As a husband/wife writing team, Dave and Neta Jackson are enthusiastic about books, kids, walking with God, gospel music, and each other! Together they are the authors or coauthors of over 100 books. In addition to writing several books about Christian community, the Jacksons have coauthored numerous books with expert resource people on a variety of topics from racial reconciliation to medical ethics to ministry to kids in gangs.

Dave and Neta live in Evanston, Illinois, where for twenty-seven years they were part of Reba Place Church, a Christian church community. They are now members of a multiracial congregation in the Chicago area.

They're trying something new! Not just new for them, but something completely new in Christian fiction: “Parallel novels,” two stories taking place in the same time frame, same neighborhood, involving some of the same characters living through their own dramas and crises but interacting with and affecting one another . . . just the way it happens in real life.

It’s something that only a husband and wife writing team could pull off. While Neta has Where Do I Go?, her husband Dave has written Harry Bentley's Second Chance.


A story of seeking-and finding-God's will in unlikely places.

Gabrielle Fairbanks has nearly lost touch with the carefree, spirited young woman she was when she married her husband fifteen years ago. But when the couple moves to Chicago to accommodate Philip's business ambitions, Gabby finds the chance to make herself useful. It's there she meets the women of Manna House Women's Shelter; they need a Program Director—and she has a degree in social work. She's in her element, feeling God's call on her life at last, even though Philip doesn't like the changes he sees in her. But things get rough when Philip gives Gabby an ultimatum: quit her job at the shelter or risk divorce and losing custody of their sons. Gabby must take refuge, as in the song they sing at Sunday night worship: "Where do I go when there's no one else to turn to? . . . I go to the Rock I know that's able, I go to the Rock."

Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “Exquisite characters coupled with God's mercy and love emanate from each page.”

Publisher's Weekly adds, “Jackson's Yada Yada series has sold half a million copies, and this new offshoot series ... promises the same.... The book's dramatic ending ... leav[es] readers eager for the next installment in the series.”

To read the Prologue and first chapter of Where Do I Go?, go HERE

Margie's review: While I am aware of Neta Jackson's YaYa series and characters, I've never read one of her books until I was asked to proofread Where Do I Go? for Thomas Nelson. I fell in love with Gabrielle and her boys . . . Philip, Gabrielle's husband, not so much. And I can certainly identify with Gabrielle's feelings about moving, being in a new area without knowing anyone, needing to establish her own identity in this new place. (With Roger's job taking him out of state, needing to set up an apartment in those places, I battle with these issues. Especially when trying to maintain two homes. Tough.) Gabrielle's journey in this new place, torn in different directions by the new home, her husband and children, and an aging mother, is authentic and at times gut-wrenching. But slowly she makes new friends, finds a job, and starts to establish her own identity, no longer satisfied with her role as only "Philip's wife." The ending was rough for me, since I'm one who likes to have everything neatly tied up at the end but still leave room for sequels. Not that life is that way, and the ending truly depicts life, but probably because it left me frustrated I could not go on to read the sequel immediately. Finding God's will for your life and then realizing that when you do it won't always be perfect is something I'm still growing in my own life. The author does an excellent job of handling this theme biblically. Overall an excellent read that I recommend highly. I look forward to the next book in this series.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Busy Times

Last week's Teamway weekend was great! We had a wonderful time. Since we are all believers, it makes the time together that much more special. We're so grateful to work with such a wonderful group of people.

But now that I'm home, I have less than a week to get my house ready for company. Yikes! My brother and his family arrive on Sunday. . . . My sister and her family arrive on Tuesday. Can't wait for us to all be together again. *smile* We always have a great time.

In this week, I have a lot to do! Including starting to work on revisions for the book I completed last month. This morning I'm working on the first chapter for my face-to-face critique group (JOY Writers) this afternoon. I'll also send it on to my online Crit14 group so I can get their first impressions, too.

Here's the Bible reading for this week:
Tuesday, December 16—Joshua 16–18; Luke 17:20–37
Wednesday, December 17—Joshua 19–21; Luke 18:1–23
Thursday, December 18—Joshua 22–24; Luke 18:24–43
Friday, December 19—Nehemiah 1–3; Luke 19:1–27
Saturday, December 20—Nehemiah 4–6; Luke 19:28–48
Sunday, December 21—Nehemiah 7–9; Luke 20:1–26
Monday, December 22—Nehemiah 10–11; Luke 20:27–47

Have a great week! I'll be checking in periodically with updates on my revisions/rewriting and other work and reviews.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Engaging Father Christmas

FaithWords (October 30, 2008)


Robin Jones Gunn

Robin grew up in Orange County, California, and has lived in all kinds of interesting places, including Reno and Hawai’i.

She and her husband currently live near Portland, Oregon, and have been married for 30 years. They spent their first 22 years of marriage working together in youth ministry and enjoying life with their son and daughter who are now both grown.

As a frequent speaker at local and international events, one of Robin’s favorite topics is how God is the Relentless Lover and we are His first love. She delights in telling stories of how God uses fiction to change lives.

Robin is the recipient of the Christy Award, the Mt. Hermon Pacesetter Award, the Sherwood E. Wirt Award and is a Gold Medallion Finalist. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and the Board of Directors for Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers’ Guild.


Miranda Carson can't wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation.

But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda's mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.

And yet . . . maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Engaging Father Christmas, go HERE

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Hawks and Airplanes

Yesterday I hopped on yet another airplane for our annual trip to Greenville, SC, for my husband's company Christmas weekend with the other construction managers and their wives. It's always a great time, and I look forward to it each year.

As always I prayed for protection for our flights (Roger was flying to Atlanta from Phoenix; I was heading for the same destination from Denver). Roger called me as he boarded his plane to tell me all was well there. And an hour later, after spending some time with Kathy in the food court on Concourse A at DIA (she was on her way to Phoenix for some training), I boarded my flight. It wasn't a full flight, so everyone was boarded early. And the pilot assured us we would be in Atlanta on time, if not early.

We taxied out to the runway, chatting to the flight attendant sitting across from me. I was in an exit row and on Delta planes that's right at the door, nineteen rows back from the cockpit. When it was our turn for takeoff, we sped up down the runway. Just before we lifted off, I felt a huge thump (thought we ran over something!) and an immediate slow down.

Never had that happen before!

The pilot came on the intercom and said he'd chosen to abort takeoff (no kidding!) because a hawk-like bird had decided to take the same flight pattern as our plane . . . unfortunately for the bird! I don't think my heart was the only racing at that point, but everyone was amazingly calm. Of course we were still on the ground. *smile*

Don't even want to think what it would have been like if we'd taken off.

We taxied back to the gate to get checked out. Being seated where I was, I got to hear some information from the pilot, maintenance workers, and gate agent that I normally wouldn't have. Everything checked out. No damage (except to the bird, of course), but they did find one feather. One. They also determined it was a hawk, but whether from the feather or ground crews finding the bird on the runway, I don't know.

We sat at the gate for another hour allowing the brakes to cool off, then we headed back out to the runway to try again. By the time we took off (this time without incident), it was nearly two hours past our time to leave.

God's protection? You bet! All the time. Though not always as evident as it was yesterday, at least not to me. I'm afraid I usually take it for granted.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Quills and Promises by Amber Miller

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Quills And Promises

Barbour Publishing, Inc (May 28, 2008)Link


Amber Miller


Hi, I'm Amber, but my friends call me Tiff, short for Tiffany, my first name. I am in my 30s, married the love of my life in July 2007, and live in beautiful Colorado just east of the Front Range of the Rockies, but I love to travel and visit new places. Ultimately, my dream is to own horses and live in a one-level rancher or log cabin nestled in the foothills of the mountains. For now, I will remain where I am and do what I love—design web sites and write.

Amber's very first book, Promises, Promises, released in February 2008. It's a historical fiction set in Delaware during the Colonial period and the Great Awakening. The other 2 books in the series are this current one, Quills And Promises (July 2008) and Deceptive Promises (December 2008). In 2009, they will be repackaged for a state set entitled Delaware Brides. She has also sold another series set in historical Michigan during the Industrial Revolution. The 3 books in that series will begin releasing in May 2009 and will be repackaged in 2010 as Michigan Brides.


-- Separated from Madison when he leaves to fight the French and Indians, Elanna Hanssen must choose between her heart and her head, especially when Madison's integrity is questioned. --

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths." ~Proverbs 3:5-6

Innocence paired with wisdom beyond her years. With these traits, Elanna Hanssen unwittingly captures the attentions of Major Madison Scott. Her honest desire to understand the war fascinates him, and he resolves to get to know this perspicacious young lady better. When his military duty separates them, they begin a correspondence, cautiously baring their hearts to each other. Elanna has never known emotions like this before, but she is drawn to the integrity she sees in her major. When a local news reporter questions the major's credentials and activities, however, will she allow her heart or her head to rule? Can true love grow over such distance and around such obstacles?

If you'd like to read the first chapter of Quills And Promises, go HERE.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bible Reading

Tuesday, December 9—Esther 9–10; Luke 13:23–35
Wednesday, December 10—Haggai; Luke 14:1–24
Thursday, December 11—Joshua 1–3; Luke 14:25–35
Friday, December 12—Joshua 4–6; Luke 15:1–10
Saturday, December 13—Joshua 7–9; Luke 15:11–32
Sunday, December 14—Joshua 10–12; Luke 16
Monday, December 15—Joshua 13–15; Luke 17:1–19

Friday, December 5, 2008

Dark Pursuit by Brandilyn Collins

Boy, I wish I'd gotten my list in for December. *smile* I've looked forward to today's book coming out for several months. Brandilyn is one of my must-read suspense author friends. You can be sure I'll be getting my hands on this book . . . soon!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Dark Pursuit

Zondervan (December 1, 2008)


Brandilyn Collins


Brandilyn Collins is known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. She is currently working on her 20th book. For chances to win free copies of her work, join her Fan Club on Facebook. Here’s what Brandilyn has to say about why she wrote Dark Pursuit:

In John Milton’s Paradise Lost Satan’s followers, kicked out of heaven, boast about storming the gates and reclaiming their territory. Beelzebub scoffs at their boasting as merely “hatching vain empires” and suggests a different revengeful scheme: seduce mankind away from God. So Satan visits the Garden of Eden to teach humans the very thing he and his cohorts have learned to be futile—the dark pursuit of hatching their own vain empires instead of following God. He presented man with this “gift” of death, disguised as life. And man fell for it.

Upon this theme of man’s fall and spiritual blindness, I created the characters and events in Dark Pursuit. The story clips along at a fast pace, with much symbolism running underneath.


Dark Pursuit—A twisting story of murder, betrayal, and eternal choices

Novelist Darell Brooke lived for his title as King of Suspense—until an auto accident left him unable to concentrate. Two years later, reclusive and bitter, he wants one thing: to plot a new novel and regain his reputation.

Kaitlan Sering, his twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, once lived for drugs. After she stole from Darell, he cut her off. Now she’s rebuilding her life. But in Kaitlan’s town two women have been murdered, and she’s about to discover a third. She’s even more shocked to realize the culprit—her boyfriend, Craig, the police chief’s son.

Desperate, Kaitlan flees to her estranged grandfather. For over forty years, Darell Brooke has lived suspense. Surely he’ll devise a plan to trap the cunning Craig.

But can Darell’s muddled mind do it? And—if he tries—with what motivation? For Kaitlan’s plight may be the stunning answer to the elusive plot he seeks . . .

Read the first chapter of Dark Pursuit, HERE.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

When Life Is Less Than Perfect

I’ve been putting off writing this for a while. Partly because I really didn’t want to dwell on it; partly because I needed to dwell on it, meditate. Plus my life continues to be less than perfect, less than what I expect when walking with the Lord. That’s not to say there aren’t wonderful blessings, even surprises, along the way. But somehow I think the health, wealth, and prosperity “gospel” that is preached by many today still is appealing to my flesh, even when I know it’s not biblical.

Nor am I blind to the fact that others feel the same way about their lives. In fact, no one lives a perfect life. Impossible in this imperfect, sin-controlled world. But that’s the point, I think.

While pondering on these thoughts over the last two or three weeks, I ran across this quote in one of my daily e-devotionals:

Facing an impossibility gives us the opportunity to trust God.

That’s the point. When life isn’t perfect, when my expectations aren’t met, when conditions in the work place aren’t what I was led to believe they might be, when people (especially those in customer service anywhere *smile*) don’t respond to me the way I think they should, when I wonder if I’ve missed hearing God’s will, or have misinterpreted it—in short, when life isn’t perfect, that’s my opportunity to trust God in every circumstance and detail of life.

But how do I do that, especially when I thought I was doing that already? Much as I hate to admit it, I find I still want my way over God’s way. If I don’t think things are working as they should be, I jump in to “fix” it, to “help” God out.

As if God needs my help! In fact, it’s just the opposite—I need God’s help.

I’ve been studying the book of James again, preparing to teach it to my Sunday school class, so I’ve been reading almost daily the verse in James 1 that says that if we lack wisdom, we can ask God for it, who gives it out liberally and without reserve to those who truly believe Him.

That goes with a verse I came across in my Daily Light (November 20).

When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me. Micah 7:8 ESV

Much of my life the last two plus years has been a walk in darkness. The Lord purposely has not revealed to me much beyond what I need to know for today. As I’ve said earlier, my word for this year is guidance, using the verse in Isaiah 58:11 where God promises to guide me continually. And He’s teaching me to take each step totally dependent on Him.

For one who loves to plan well in advance in detail, I struggle with this. Though it’s coming somewhat easier, I still have times when the initial struggle comes back. And I have it to do all over again. But . . . I do see progress.

November 20th’s reading goes on to these verses:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:2–3 ESV

"I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16 ESV

More assurances that God is leading me on the best pathway for my life (Psalm 32:8 NLT). I can trust Him. He cannot go against His nature and do other than the best for His children. It reminds me of Romans 8:28 where Paul says that God works all thing for good for those who love Him. What is good in God’s eyes doesn’t necessarily fit our definition of good, but if the end result leads to conformity to Christ in my life, then it is good.

Since we’ve come back from my dream vacation in England and Scotland, we’ve felt the pinch of finances, the pain of a body trying to crash from fibro and chronic fatigue, and we’ve experienced the time crunch of seemingly too many things to accomplish in too short a time. In my quiet time, I was reading through 1 Chronicles, and David’s charge to Solomon about building the Temple spoke to me.

Here’s David’s advice for those of us struggling to find God’s will in less than perfect circumstances:

“Get to know the God of your ancestors. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and with a willing mind. For the LORD sees every heart and understands and knows every plan and thought. If you seek him, you will find him. But if you forsake him, he will reject you forever. So take this seriously. The LORD has chosen you. . . . Be strong, and do the work.” . . . Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work . . . is finished correctly.” 1 Chronicles 28:9–10, 20 NLT

God is faithful. And He is good. I’m claiming these promises for today.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


“I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause.”

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?”—Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.—Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.—Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord.

“Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.”—The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

Job 5:8; Gen. 18:14; Ps. 37:5; Phil. 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:7; Isa. 37:14, 15; Isa. 65:24; Jas. 5:16; Ps. 116:1, 2

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

One Perfect Day by Lauraine Snelling

Today we are focusing on one of my favorite authors, Lauraine Snelling. She's a versatile writer, with both historical and contemporary novels, written for adults and children. Since we were in London when the December review list came out, I failed to get my choices for December in. Sigh. So I have not read this book—don't even have a copy . . . yet. But I look forward to another great read somewhere down the road. Enjoy!

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

One Perfect Day

FaithWords (October 22, 2008)


Lauraine Snelling


Today, Lauraine Snelling is a member of the more than Two Million Books in Print club, but when she first began, she was a mother of three teenagers with a simple dream to write “horse books for kids.”

All told, she has over 50 books published. She thinks. She’s not sure. She’d rather write them than count them. Lauraine’s work has been translated into Norwegian, Danish and German as well as produced as books on tape.

Awards have followed her dedication to “telling a good story”: the Silver Angel Award for An Untamed Land and a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart for Song of Laughter.

Helping others reach their writing dream is the reason Lauraine teaches at writer’s conferences across the country. She mentors others through book doctoring and with her humorous and playful Writing Great Fiction tape set. Lauraine also produces material on query letters and other aspects of the writing process.

Her readers clamor for more books more often and Lauraine would like to comply, if only her ever-growing flower gardens didn’t call quite so loudly over the soothing rush of the water fountains in her backyard and if the hummingbirds weren’t quite so entertaining. Lauraine and husband Wayne have two grown sons and a cockatiel named Bidley, who loves to tease their basset hound named Chewy.


Two mothers end up more closely connected that they could dream . . . and yet they are strangers to one another.

The first has two children--twins, a boy and girl, who are seniors in high school. She wants their last Christmas as a family living in the same home to be perfect, but her husband is delayed returning from a business trip abroad. And then there's an accident—a fatal one involving a drunk driver.

Meanwhile, the other mother has a daughter who needs a new heart, and so the loss of one woman becomes the miracle the other has desperately prayed for. While one mother grieves, and pulls away from her family, the other finds that even miracles aren't always easy to receive.

If you would like to read the first chapter of One Perfect Day, go HERE

Monday, December 1, 2008

Bible Reading

Tuesday, December 2—2 Chronicles 28–29; Luke 10:1–24
Wednesday, December 3—2 Chronicles 30–31; Luke 10:25–42
Thursday, December 4—2 Chronicles 32–33; Luke 11:1–28
Friday, December 5—2 Chronicles 34–36; Luke 11:29–54
Saturday, December 6—Esther 1–2; Luke 12:1–31
Sunday, December 7—Esther 3–5; Luke 12:32–59
Monday, December 8—Esther 6–8; Luke 13:1–22

Friday, November 28, 2008

Beloved Captive by Kathleen Y'Barbo

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Beloved Captive

Barbour Publishing, Inc (November 1, 2008)


Kathleen Y’Barbo


There’s never a dull moment in the Y’Barbo household! From hockey and cheer mom to publicist to bestselling author, Kathleen Y’Barbo somehow manages to do it all - and well. While wearing her publicist’s hat, Kathleen has secured interviews with radio, television, and print media for clients at NavPress, Hatchette, Integrity, Barbour Publishing, and Broadman & Holman, to name a few. She also brings her own unique blend of Southern charm and witty prose to the more than 350,000 award-winning novels and novellas currently in print. Her novels have been nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006; and 2007 will see the release of her 25th book.

Kathleen is a tenth-generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of the Author’s Guild, Inspirational Writers Alive, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Fellowship of Christian Authors. In addition, she is a sought-after speaker, and her kids think she’s a pretty cool mom, too…most of the time, anyway.

The first book in this series is Beloved Castaway.


In this sequel to Beloved Castaway, Emilie Gayarre is learning to accept her mixed race heritage while finding fulfillment in teaching children of the key. There is no denying the attraction between Emilie and the handsome young naval commander, Caleb Spencer, who is shadowed by his own flock of secrets. But if her heritage is found out, even greater things than his career are at risk. Enjoy this historical romance full of risk and redemption.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Beloved Captive, go HERE.

Review: I've long been a fan of Kathleen Y'Barbo's writing. Her stories are more than fluff; I can always count on a well-told story with substance when I pick up one of her books. And Beloved Captive is more of the same. I first became aware of Kathleen when Barbour sent me a Heartsong Presents! book she'd written. And I fell in love with the South all over again. (Growing up in the Rio Grande Valley in the tip of Texas, though I'm not a native Texan, did that for me. *smile*) Then I got to work with her more closely when I was asked to copy edit a couple of her novella collections. So when I was asked last year to proofread the first book in this series, Beloved Captive, her first full-length novel, I fell in love with her characters. Kathleen tells wonderful love stories, and Beloved Captive is a prime example of Kathleen's writing. The themes of redemption and forgiveness and acceptance run strong throughout this book. I couldn't put this book down. Thank you, Kathleen, for yet another excellent read.

If you'd like a free copy of this book, please leave a comment. We'll have a drawing of a name next Friday, and I'll announce it here then.

It's Official

Rejoice and praise God with me. I'm a winner in the 2008 NaNoWriMo challenge. My final word count came in at 50,350 words. Whew!

The glory goes to God, because without Him I wouldn't have had the impetus to keep my rear end in the chair and my AlphaSmart on my lap.

This month has been a real learning experience for me. Now I know that it can be done (this is my third completed novel, but my first completed in a month), I'm hoping I won't drag my feet on future projects.

Now on to editing! Here's where I can let my perfectionist come back, sort of. With a reduced role, but she is needed. As much as I also need my crit partners! They have cheered me on through this month. And I appreciate them so much. You know who you are!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Grateful Heart

Thanksgiving is this week. Not that I had to tell anyone of that. *smile* Much has happened since last year when I posted about the Lord's promise to bring me out of the desert that was my life. I still have moments, but this year is evidence that God is faithful to keep His promises.

This morning in my quiet time I read the words (and yes, sang them—in my head because my cat doesn't appreciate my singing and she sits on my lap during my quiet time) to "Now Thank We All Our God."

Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom His world rejoices;
Who, from our mothers' arms
Hath blessed us on ouw way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And bless peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns
With them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God,
Whom earth and heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore. Amen.

Martin Rinkart (1586–1649)

The history behind the words gave new insight to these words: "Like so many other great hymns, it was forged in the crucible of the Thirty Years' War. Martin Rinkart was the only pastor in the walled city of Eilenberg [Germany]. Many refugees fled there, hoping the walls would protect them, only to see the city overrun by Swedes, Austrians, and Swedes again. In the crowded condition, hunger and plague were chronic problems. In 1637 Rinkart conducted funerals for five thousand residents—including his wife. So when he prays, "Guide us when perplexed," he is not talking about minor inconveniences."

This year for me has been a year of rejoicing in God's abundant blessings, but they haven't come without trials. The Lord gave me the word guidance for this year (maybe into next year) and He's given me all sorts of opportunities to learn to trust Him and His leadership. His ways are strange to me, and I've fought His leading way too many times to say I'm passing these tests with flying colors—I'm not. But through it all I'm learning that His way is perfect.

If I allow myself to dwell on the downside to this year's Thanksgiving holiday, I'd be missing the point of a having a grateful heart. I would have liked to make the trip to Illinois to be with Roger's brothers and sister. I wish my mother could be here; this is the first Thanksgiving where we've stayed in Colorado that Mom won't be here (I avoided this milestone last year by going to Illinois, where Roger's mom was missing in the family circle). This also is the first Thanksgiving since she was born that we won't be spending with Kathy, either here or in Illinois.

But I'm thankful for God's provision and comfort. Both our moms are in heaven with the Lord. Kathy is where I believe God has placed her at this time. As Roger, Randy, and I are. I'm extremely grateful for my family, including all the extended family on both sides. I'm thankful for the salvation God provided for me through Jesus Christ. And I'm thankful for the opportunities He gives me each day to praise Him and thank Him. Those are the things I can hang onto for eternity.

God is good.

Monday, November 24, 2008

NaNoWriMo Update

Last week was not a good week for finding writing time, even with my two-week old "new" schedule of getting up at 5:30 and sitting down by 7:45 to write for two hours. By Thursday evening I'd only added less than 2500 words to the total word count. Not good. I was going to write after Randy went to work Thursday evening, but I was so tired, I couldn't even think straight. So I felt the Lord's urging me to set aside Friday to write—all day.

With frequent breaks on Friday—to do laundry, bake bread that was soy-free (sigh, fighting yet another rash), and eat—I wrote a total of nine hours with a word count just shy of 11,000 words. Didn't know it could be done! God is good and gracious. It was all Him, believe me.

So with today's two-hour writing session done, I've now completed 41,935 words toward my goal of 50,000 words by Sunday. Only 8,000 words to go. And the story is definitely on the downward slope. Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement! Keep it up through this week . . . please. *smile*

Daily Bible Reading: Tuesday, November 25—2 Chronicles 13–14; Luke 7:1–30
Wednesday, November 26—2 Chronicles 15–16; Luke 7:31–50
Thursday, November 27—2 Chronicles 17–18; Luke 8:1–25
Friday, November 28—2 Chronicles 19–20; Luke 8:26–56
Saturday, November 29—2 Chronicles 21–22; Luke 9:1–17
Sunday, November 30—2 Chronicles 23–24; Luke 9:18–36
Monday, December 1—2 Chronicles 25–27; Luke 9:37–62

Friday, November 21, 2008

Vacation in the UK-9

Several times when we were near the Tower tube station, we saw portions of the original wall built by the Romans. Amazing.

Wednesday we decided to do the London Walk of the Tower of London. So we were back to Tower tube station to meet our guide, Tom. We'd met him before as he was one of the guides on our walk through Westminster Abbey.

Since we did the tour of the Tower with London Walks we didn't actually get inside any of the buildings within the walls until after lunch. But the walk was full of good information about what was inside as we went by the various places.
The moat was filled in and is used for demonstrations of medieval war machines.
Entry to the Tower grounds.

Tom definitely likes to involve his audience and makes a point of asking direct questions. He told us quite a few stories about the Tower (one about the ravens that live within the walls—if the ravens leave, the Tower of London will fall), included a lot of history (the Tower is the site of many executions since the time of William the Conqueror),
(Traitor's Gate)

and ended with Richard III and the deaths of his nephews in the Bloody Tower, another mystery that has never been solved conclusively as to whether he was or wasn’t responsible for their deaths. Probably something else I’ll never write about, but it’s always interesting to speculate. And who knows? One day, I may work the story into one of my books.
Execution site for the men, actually outside the walls of the Tower and across the street near the tube station.
The women's execution site (Anne Boleyn) inside the Tower walls.

We broke up about 12:45 then, and the first building we went through houses the crown jewels. Our guide, Tom, had said that the British in the group would probably tear up when they saw the film of the Elizabeth II’s coronation. Well, I did, too. *smile* The crown jewels are impressive, including the two largest diamonds in the world.

After seeing the crown jewels, we headed for the café inside the walls for lunch. Over lunch we discussed the other buildings in the Tower walls that we wanted to visit.

Then we headed for the White Tower, which is the oldest building within the walls, and the original tower built by William the Conqueror and the living quarters for him and several of his descendants. Today it is a museum of the armoury, with a big display of armour, weapons, even horse armour. We went to the very top of the building. Interesting features included the indoor bathrooms, garderobes, that William installed on the main living level, which is actually about three stories up. He built a set of wooden steps leading up to that level. The idea was that if the Tower was ever under seige, they could burn the stairs, making it almost impossible for anyone to scale the walls to get inside. William I also put in the first fireplaces in England along the walls rather than in the center of the room.

After the White Tower, we went to see the display of torture instruments in the basement of the Bloody Tower where young Edward and Richard were held and evidently killed by their uncle, Richard the III. We visited Edward II’s living quarters on the South wall and finished up with a walk along the top of the outer wall through another couple of towers and ended up on the east wall.

It was 3:00 by the time we finished seeing everything we wanted to see.
(Tower Bridge)

So we descended into the tube station once more and took a fairly long ride with a connection to another long ride to get to Harrod’s, our final touristy thing on our to-do list. When we came up out of the tube station at Knightsbridge, we were about three blocks away from the store. Once inside the store, we toured a couple of perfume and cosmetic salons before finding the food halls. Oh my! Tons of food of everything edible imaginable. And some things not so edible to me. *smile* Some of it was downright tempting . . . but expensive.

We soon made our way downstairs to the gift shop. And what a shop! Goodness, there was everything imaginable. We bought some gifts and souvenirs. Then we went through the Egyptian lobby to find the escalator back up to the ground floor, then tried to find the exit. Well, we found one, but we were all turned around and ended up walking the entire perimeter of the huge building in order to find the underground station again.

When we got to the Old Street tube station, we called Kathy for instructions of the bus stop we were supposed to go to and the bus number and destination that would place us right across the street from her flat. We didn’t realize until later that we were right across the street from John Wesley’s house and a museum that chronicles the rise of Methodism in England. We had a brochure about it, but it was the one thing we just couldn’t squeeze in today. Next time. *smile*

After an early supper with Kathy, we went back to the hotel to get packed and ready to leave the hotel at 5:30 a.m. We had a taxi coming to take us to Heathrow.

The trip fulfilled a lot of my dreams, and much of the time it felt a little surreal—I couldn't quite grasp that I really was seeing the things I'd only heard and read about for so long. I've asked the Lord to allow me at least one trip to Britain for every year Kathy is there. He provided in amazing ways for this year's trip. We'll see what He works out for next year. *smile*

This week, one of my proofreading projects was Stephen Lawhead's latest book, Tuck, the third in his King Raven series, a retelling of the Robin Hood legend. (Excellent series. I've gotten to work on all three books in this series.) These books are set just before 1100, during the time of William II, William the Conqueror's son. This time I noticed several allusions to places we visited, the main one being the White Tower, now known as the Tower of London. Made the whole story come alive in a new way. Definitely another benefit derived from our adventures in Great Britain.

God is good!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vacation in the UK-8

I'm hoping to finish this tonight. I've had a couple of really busy weeks. Not really done with all the deadlines, and I'm terribly far behind on NaNoWriMo, but I plan to write most of the day tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll get caught up on that. So tonight I'm going to try to get through the last two posts on our time in the UK.

Tuesday was a very long day. And by the time I checked my pedometer at the end of the day, we'd walked just over eight miles!

We started early, this time going to Waterloo to catch the train to Windsor. We got there about 10:00 and by the time we found the castle entrance, we were surrounded by school groups. But they had a different gate they went through. After buying our tickets we had to go through a security check. Really the only place we had to do that in all our tours. Other than the airports, of course. We then picked up our audio tours where the man handing them out seemed very glad to hear we wanted English. There was also quite a crowd of Asian people.

After getting through the entrance, the crowds of school kids thinned out. We knew there was a changing of the guard at Windsor that day, so we asked one of the docents when it was and where when we came to a place where we had to decide what to do next. He told us it would be in the area in front of the guardhouse at the bottom of the hill . . . in front of the church. So instead of starting the palace tour, we decided to go into the church for a while before getting a spot for the changing of the guard.

Windsor is not only the Queen's official home, it is also home to the Order of the Garter, the knights. The church, St. George's, is where they go through their commissioning service when they are admitted into the Order. Very interesting. The church is a beautiful building with lots of history, as is the case for the entire castle.

We only saw a little of the church before going outside again. Not knowing how many people would be coming to see the ceremony, we were out there in plenty of time. So again we were up against the barriers. But this time we weren't looking through a tall fence. And when the ceremony began, we were standing right behind the new guard as they came on duty. We could hear the commands much more clearly, and I actually felt that I understood much more of what went on. Of course, the ceremony was much smaller, involving less people. But again, it made it easier to follow what was going on. Still had all the ceremony and pageantry of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

After the ceremony was over, Roger took a picture of me with the new guard. Felt a little strange. *smile* Kind of like standing next to a breathing statue.

When we went back into the church to pick up our tour where we left off, it was packed with all those who had watched the changing of the guard. So we worked our way through most of the people to where we'd left off. However, it was never as peaceful as before. So we walked through the rest of the building rather quickly. Then we headed up to the tower and took the tour there. Since this is the official residence of the Queen, we were only allowed in the "public" parts of the castle. But that was still a lot of ground to cover. It was interesting to see how the work on the portions of the castle that were burned several years ago had maintained the flavor of the original rooms.

Lots of armor and weapons in the rooms we went through. Randy would have loved it. One of the rooms, a long gallery, had coats of arms from every knight who had been in the Order of the Garter placed on the ceiling. Some were blank white, meaning that in some way that person had disgraced his position, with criminal activity or some other way, and therefore had been removed. (Think King Arthur and the Round Table.)

After a late lunch at a teahouse, we walked through several shops, buying some souvenirs and books for research on our way back to the train station. Eton is also at Windsor, but while we looked for it a little, we decided not to pursue it when we didn't find it. We knew we were still up for lots of walking later in the day. We caught the 3:20 train back to London, and I got in a nap.

We were meeting Kathy for dinner before our walk that evening, but she couldn’t meet us until at least 5:45, so we decided to check out the Metropolitan Tabernacle where Spurgeon preached and was pastor for many years. It’s still a Baptist church, but Kathy warned us it wasn’t a very good part of town. Not sure how long it would take us to find it, we went to the tube station (Elephant and Castle—love the name!) near there, and came out of the station right across the street from the church. It definitely wasn’t one of the nicer spots in town, and there were tons of people milling around. We took the subway (pedestrian walkway) under the street to get to the other side. Roger took some pictures and we checked to see if the bookshop was still open. It wasn’t, so we headed back to the station and to the hotel to drop a bunch of stuff we’d bought in Windsor before heading back out to meet Kathy at 6:15 at the Tower Hill tube station.

We found a nearby pub where we could grab a quick supper before meeting our London Walks group back at the tube station at 7:15. Wow! We never expected so many people to be interested in Jack the Ripper! We broke into still large groups. Then we were off on our walk through the east end of London where the murders took place in 1888. We stood at the places where each woman was found and the guide included all the gruesome details. J Not that I ever really want to write about anything connected with Jack the Ripper, but I may write something in that time period, and it’s good to know. As we walked we also received quite a few theories of who might have committed the murders, but to this day no one knows. It was quite a walk, probably covered over two miles.

It was a good end to the day. *smile* One more day in London before heading home.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

White Christmas Pie by Wanda Brunstetter

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

White Christmas Pie

Barbour Publishing, Inc (September 1, 2008)


Wanda E. Brunstetter


Fascinated by the Amish people during the years of visiting her husband's family in Pennsylvania, WANDA E. BRUNSTETTER combined her interest with her writing and now has eleven novels about the Amish in print, along with numerous other stories and ministry booklets. She lives in Washington State, where her husband is a pastor, but takes every opportunity to visit Amish settlements throughout the states.

This year Wanda also published A Sister's Hope.


Step into Amish country for this bittersweet holiday romance. Here you'll meet Will Henderson, a young man tortured by his past, and Karen Yoder, a young woman looking for answers. Add a desperate father searching for his son, and you have all the ingredients for a first-class romance that will inspire and enthrall.

Abandoned by his father, Will Henderson was raised by an Amish couple. Now he's about to marry Karen Yoder but is having second thoughts. Can Will overcome the bitterness of his past in order to secure his future? Karen cannot break through the barrier her fiance has suddenly constructed around his heart. When she seeks the advice of an old boyfriend, Will begins to see green. Has he already lost his chance for happiness?

When an accident threatens Will's life, the strength of blood ties is tested. Will a recipe for White Christmas pie contain the ingredients for a happily-ever-after?

If you would like to read the first chapter of White Christmas Pie, go HERE

Watch the book trailer:

Margie's comments: I love Wanda's Amish books. Whenever I'm asked to proofread one of them for Barbour Publishing, or I pick one up I haven't read yet, I know I'm going to get a good story. Wanda's style of writing lends itself well to the types of stories she writes. For a breath of fresh air in your reading, I highly recommend any of Wanda's books. I'm looking forward to reading this one . . . later. *smile*

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekly Bible Reading Schedule

Tuesday, November 18—1 Chronicles 22–24; Luke 3
Wednesday, November 19—1 Chronicles 25–27; Luke 4:1–30
Thursday, November 20—1 Chronicles 28–29; Luke 4:31–44
Friday, November 21—2 Chronicles 1–3; Luke 5:1–16
Saturday, November 22—2 Chronicles 4–6; Luke 5:17–39
Sunday, November 23—2 Chronicles 7–9; Luke 6:1–26
Monday, November 24—2 Chronicles 10–12; Luke 6:27–49

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

One Holy Night by J. M. Hochstetler

This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

One Holy Night

Sheaf House (April 1, 2008)


J. M. Hochstetler


J. M. Hochstetler writes stories that always involve some element of the past and of finding home. Born in central Indiana, the daughter of Mennonite farmers, she graduated from Indiana University with a degree in Germanic languages. She was an editor with Abingdon Press for twelve years and has published three novels.

One Holy Night, a contemporary miracle story for all seasons, released in April 2008. Daughter of Liberty (2004) and Native Son (2005), books 1 and 2 of the American Patriot Series are set during the American Revolution. Book 3, Wind of the Spirit, is scheduled for release in March 2009. Hochstetler is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Christian Authors Network, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers, and Historical Novels Society.


In 1967 the military build-up in Viet Nam is undergoing a dramatic surge. The resulting explosion of anti-war sentiment tears the country apart, slicing through generations and shattering families. In the quiet bedroom community of Shepherdsville, Minnesota, the war comes home to Frank and Maggie McRae, whose only son, Mike, is serving as a grunt in Viet Nam.

Frank despises all Asians because of what he witnessed as a young soldier fighting the Japanese in the south Pacific during WWII. The news that his son has fallen in love with and married Thi Nhuong, a young Vietnamese woman, shocks him. To Frank all Asians are enemies of his country, his family, and himself. A Buddhist, Thi Nhuong represents everything he despises. So he cuts Mike out of his life despite the pleas of his wife, Maggie; daughter, Julie; and Julie s husband, Dan, the pastor of a growing congregation.

Maggie is fighting her own battle--against cancer. Convinced that God is going to heal her, Frank plays the part of a model Christian. Her death on Thanksgiving Day devastates him. Worse, as they arrive home from the gravesite, the family receives news of Mike s death in battle. Embittered, Frank stops attending church and cuts off family and friends.

By the time a very pregnant Thi Nhuong arrives on his doorstep on a stormy Christmas Eve, Frank is so filled with hate that he slams the door in her face, shutting her out in the bitter cold. Finally, overcome by guilt, he tries to go after her, but driving wind and snow force him back inside. With the storm rising to blizzard strength, he confronts the wrenching truth that what hate has driven him to do is as evil as what the Japanese did all those years earlier, and that he needs forgiveness as desperately as they did . . .

Frank doesn't know that what God has in mind this night is a miracle. As on that holy night so many years ago, a baby will be born and laid in a manger—a baby who will bring forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing to a family that has suffered heart-wrenching loss.

If you would like to read the first chapter of One Holy Night, go HERE.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bible Reading

Tuesday, November 11—1 Chronicles 1–3; Jude
Wednesday, November 12—1 Chronicles 4–6; Luke 1:1–20
Thursday, November 13—1 Chronicles 7–9; Luke 1:21–38
Friday, November 14—1 Chronicles 10–12; Luke 1:39–56
Saturday, November 15—1 Chronicles 13–15; Luke 1:57–80
Sunday, November 16—1 Chronicles 16–18; Luke 2:1–24
Monday, November 17—1 Chronicles 19–21; Luke 2:25–52

Vacation in the UK-7

I'm going to try to finish up this saga in the next couple of days. But proofreading job and NaNoWriMo is taking up huge chunks of time right now. *smile* So we'll see.

The Sunday we left Scotland and arrived back in London, we had a late lunch invitation with friends of Kathy's—Sarah and Sam Wilde. So we cleaned up from our travels and headed over to their place. Sarah and Sam are the ones who introduced Kathy to St. Helen's Bishopsgate, and they met through a mutual friend, Jessica Barnes, who studied for six months over in Britain. Sarah and Sam made us feel right at home, and we had the added pleasure of meeting one of the vicars from St. Helen's, Andrew Sach. He's cowritten a couple of books that son, Randy, and I are reading. Right now, I'm using his Dig Deeper! in my ladies Sunday school class.

Sarah is also an excellent cook, we were treated to a three-course, very delicious meal. Then just before leaving for church we had tea with another dessert. Yum. *smile*

We were blessed with another wonderful service at St. Helen's. God does answer prayer . . . my prayer for Kathy to find a good church He answered the first full Sunday she was in London. He is so good.

Monday we decided we needed to backtrack to some places we'd already seen and do them a little more in-depth. But first, we went to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. We got there more than an hour early, but there were already lots of people milling around. I found a spot open right at the fence and told Roger to wander around and get his pictures. He also stopped by the Mews shop and bought me a guidebook for Buckingham (they only do tours inside a few weeks in the summer) and a book on the succession of kings and queens in England. It didn't take long for the spots on the fence on either side of me to fill up. Each time Roger checked in with me, he had to push himself through more and more layers of people. It was neat to see and hear the bands, the guards, the pageantry. But I wished I could have understood the commands better.

After the ceremony was over, we took a walk through St. James Park to near #10 Downing Street. Near being the operative word. Because of the heightened security, it's difficult to get very close, but it was a nice walk through the park. We'd planned to have lunch with Kathy, but she was unable to meet us, so we decided to go ahead with our plans for the afternoon.

We found the tube station and headed off toward the Globe Theatre, to cash in our discount coupon on the tour. We planned to cross the Millennium Bridge, but it was closed for maintenance. So we walked down to the river and walked along it to the Southwark Bridge that had a pedestrian walkway across it, stopping for lunch on the other side of the Thames.

We arrived at the Globe just in time for their tour. Neat place. Fairly new, but an excellent replica of the old Globe. It's off season right now and they were doing some work on the thatched roof, so we had to look around some scaffolding. But actually being inside the theatre,

sitting in the stalls, and walking through the extensive exhibit on Shakespeare, his plays and his times, almost made me wish I was still teaching high school English. What a treasure trove that made the plays come alive for me.

After the time at the Globe, we walked back across the Thames (the Millennium Bridge was still closed) and went by the College of Arms building. But it was too near closing time to make it worthwhile stopping in. We wandered down Fleet Street, noticing there were a lot less people than when we'd walked down it the first day we were in London. About the time we got to the Twinings tea shop, it started raining. The shop is very narrow, very long. And that day it was almost empty, making it much easier to find the gifts and tea I wanted to take home.

From there we walked to the tube station in pretty steady rain and made our way back to the hotel, ready to call it a day. Still raining when we got off the tube near the hotel, I pulled out our umbrellas for the first time since we'd arrived in London. (We really had excellent weather the whole time we were there! So we didn't complain about the rain.)

We rested for a bit at the hotel, talked to Kathy on the phone, and then decided to head out again to find a restaurant for dinner. We went to bed early, knowing we'd be up early to catch a train to Windsor Castle.