Friday, September 28, 2012

Unending Devotion by Jody Hedlund & Jody's Secret #18.

Picture it . . . It's the 1880's and you find yourself near Michigan or Wisconsin.

You're in the middle of an awe-inspiring forest. You know the kind where you stare up at a mighty pine tree and it seems those evergreen branches spiral through the sky, touching heaven.

Here you feel and sense the hand of our maker, for no man could make a forest so green, lush, and beautiful.

You continue to walk down a path and all at once you leave the forest line and find you've come upon hill after hill where the forest has been chopped down and harvested for lumber.

How would that make you feel?

Remember, it's the 1880s. The forests aren't protected. Our nation has been through a lot having been through the Civil War only years ago. People are moving West. Homes need to be built. But still you feel it just doesn't seem right to waste a land by stripping its beauty.

 This is exactly the situation the protagonist of Jody Hedlund's new novel, Unending Devotion, finds herself in. Lily Young is a woman on a quest to right the wrongs she comes upon.

The first one being, finding her sister, Daisy. Since they were young, the sisters have been orphaned and Lily has always felt responsible for her younger sister. She did the best she could, but when she finally couldn't see a way of surviving together, she placed her sister in foster care. However, at the time the novel starts many years have passed and Lily has learned that her sister ran away and is working in one of the many a bordellos located near lumber camps.

Connell McCormick is the manger of not one, not two, but three different lumber camps. He's determined to prove himself to his lumber-baron father and will move heaven and earth to do it . . . even turn a blind eye to bordellos where his men go to let off steam. However, when he meets Lily and learns her story, he takes a second look at his father's business and the dealings around the lumber camps. 

This is a love story that has action, intrigue and unending devotion. (Yes, I know it's the title. I just couldn't resist.) :) If you want to curl up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book, this is the novel for you.

I received a copy of this book to review from the publisher.

Now for some more fun . . . Jody is doing a blog tour for her new release, but it's something different. Instead of just having reviews of her book, she is also revealing fun secrets about herself. Check it out here. And she has a fun contest on Pinterest right now. Check it out here.

So as part of her tour, here is . . .

Secret #18:


My greatest dreams and aspirations as a writer. Every writer has great aspirations and dreams. And I'd be completely lying if I didn't admit that I have my own special dreams.

Of course, I'd love to build a wider readership. I'd love to increase my sales so that I can eventually make a living with my writing career. And I'd love to win more awards. And of course, I'd absolutely love to see one of my books turned into a movie. What writer wouldn't?! In particular, I'd love to see either The Preacher's Bride or The Doctor's Lady on the big screen. Since both books are based on the lives of real people, I would love to be able to share their stories with the world and bring the characters to life for our modern generation.

I also have the dream of being able to travel and do more speaking and teaching. But I also know that at this busy stage in my life with my children all still at home, that I'm wise to limit how many commitments I make per year.

Yes, I have big dreams. In fact, I encourage all writers (and everyone!) to dream big, to even write out those top five dreams, to nurture a passion for them. Our heads will usually follow what's in our hearts. So we need to make definite plans. Then we have to roll up our sleeves and get to work.

As I often say: Believe in yourself. But expect much from yourself. Dream big. But work fiercely. However, as good as all of the above dreams are, I don't want them to be my greatest aspiration. I want to keep them in the proper priority in my life. Because they won't last.

When I die, I won't be able to take any of my books, awards, or money with me. Instead, I want my greatest aspiration to be that I use my talents to the best of my ability. I echo what Erma Bombeck said: When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'.

What about you? What's your biggest dream?

---------------------------------------------

 Publisher's Weekly calls Unending Devotion "A meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end."

To celebrate the release of Unending Devotion, Jody is giving away a signed copy. Leave a comment (along with your email address) to enter the drawing. Valid only with US or Canadian addresses. Giveaway ends September 30th at midnight.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

September 27th - 40 Days of Prayers

As you may know the election for the United States President is coming up November 6th. That's not very far away. Writers are advised to not generally take sides in politics. So I'm not going to tell you if I lean towards the Republican or Democrat candidate.

BUT . . .

I believe this election is crucial. And because I'm a person of faith, I was very interested to learn that people of faith from many denominations are going to do 40 days of prayers leading up to the election.

As I've thought about this, I remembered reading about Benjamin Franklin when he requested prayer at the Constitutional Convention. This is what he wrote:

 Mr. President:
 The small progress we have made . . . is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the human understanding. . . . In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection.- Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & they were graciously answered.  . . . I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that "except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better, than the builders of Babel . . .  I therefore beg leave to move-that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that Service-
--Benjamin Franklin July 28, 1787

I believe our nation could use a lot of prayers, and especially from now until the election. I hope you do as well and will join in praying for divine help in selecting our next president.

***

I usually post on Thursdays, but this week I'm posting on Friday. I have something very special and different in mind for you!!!

On FRIDAY September 28th  I'll post not only my review of Jody Hedlund's new novel, Unending Devotion, but also Jody's Secret #18 where she tells us her greatest dreams and aspirations of being a writer.

You'll want to stop by and leave a comment BECAUSE one of the commentors on my blog will be eligible to win a copy of her new book. 

Please stop by Friday and leave a comment. :)
 
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Faith, Hope and Gravity by Merrill Osmond and Shirley Bahlmann

This is a book about a young man named, Liam, who has a very unusual gift, that of seeing the future through his dreams. In fact, the book opens with a dream.

Here's the first line.

 It didn't make sense for Liam to want to get closer to the lightning when every survival instinct told him to run. 

Opening a book with a dream is pretty risky. The author needs to have a very good reason to do it. Rest assured, in this case, there is a very good reason which is revealed as you keep reading to find out exactly why he was dreaming about lightning and what happens to him.

Liam is a flawed protagonist, which is a good thing because the reader is pulling for  him. This novel is very plot driven as Liam travels from one country to another learning valuable lessons not only about his special gift, but about people and life in general. Along the way he learns to forgive and trust others but not without great costs.

Here's part of the back cover blurb:

"Faith, Hope and Gravity" is the spiritual, magical adventure of teenage Liam Kane as he discovers some of the same lessons Merrill Osmond learned as the world-traveling lead singer of the Osmond Brothers.

Like Merrill, Liam is often misunderstood as he helps those seeking for purpose in their extraordinary talents. Liam's visionary abilities gain him international notoriety as "The Prophecy Boy" who swims with dolphins, dreams of a mysterious red door, and champions those who are often misjudged for their uncommon gifts. 

Surviving kidnapping, near-drowning, and imprisonment leads to the discovery that despite differences, when people respect each other and their variety of abilities, the thread of commonality that runs through mankind grows ever stronger. 

About the authors:
Merrill Osmond is a world-class entertainer, producer, author, motivational speaker and renowned  lead singer of the Osmonds. Merrill and his siblings have produced 47 platinum and gold records and Merrill has written the lyrics of five #1 hit records. Merrill is a co-founder of the Osmond Foundation, which orginially produced "The Children's Miracle Network" Telethon. He has produced presidential inaugural events for both Reagan and Bush. Merrill is excited to release his first novel.

Shirley Bahlmann has written a wide variety of genres, including historical fiction, novels, biographies, how-to, and how-not-to books. One of her favorites is a children's book titled "When the Chicken Crossed the Road" which comes with instructions and a chicken-colored washcloth so you can roll your own chicken! Shirley finds the most annoying thing about being a prolific writer is sleep, because she'd rather be writing.

You can learn more about the authors and the blog tour for this novel at several sites.

http://shirleybahlmann.blogspot.com/
http://www.merrillosmond.com/

I was given a copy of this book by the authors to review.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Elephant (Refrigerator) in the Room

Last week I told you about our dilemma with the new fridge that wouldn't fit in our kitchen space so we had to buy a different one that cost more.

Well, it arrived Saturday as promised, but guess what?

You're not going to believe it.

This fridge didn't fit either.

This time it was too tall. We had given the salesman at the store the measurements we needed and he assured us that this one would fit, that it wouldn't be too tall and that the manufacturer measured the height from the doors and not the back.

 Here's a tip: always check yourself and don't take the word of someone else.

Since we didn't want to refuse yet another fridge, Hubby said he'd saw off the bottom of the cupboard so it would fit. Neither one of us thought it would be a big deal.

 Oh brother, were we wrong. It took two saws (skill and jig) a file, and a few under-your-breath cuss words, but after four hours we were able to push our elephant of a refrigerator into it's spot.

HOWEVER, it sticks out about three inches. Who didn't measure for depth? Good grief.

So, what ever you do if you're buying a refrigerator measure depth, width, and height or you might have an elephant in your kitchen like I do.

BUT it's my elephant and it's so shiny and pretty and gives cubed or crushed ice and has a ton of room.

I'm very grateful to have it. Have you made a major purchase that became a trying experience, yet you were very grateful in the end when the dust settled that you had it? Please share. I'd like to think I'm not the only graduate of the school of hard knocks (and cliches ;))

Please stop by Thursday. I will have a review of Merrill Osmond's new book, Faith, Hope and Gravity.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

3 Lessons Learned from Disappointment

You may wonder what a refrigerator has to do with disappointment. Well, here's the deal . . .

We've had our fridge for around 25 years. Yes, it's been a good appliance and still runs, but Hubby and I wanted to get a new one. You know, the kind where you can get crushed ice and water in the door. How cool would that be? So during Labor Day we took advantage of the sales and bought one. However, it couldn't be delivered until last Tuesday.

We'd cleaned out the freezer and fridge so when they delivered the new appliance all that they would need to do would be pulled out the old and insert the new. 

The delivery truck arrived. The man came in, pulled out the old fridge and . . .  got out his tape measure. We'd already measured so we were pretty certain all would be well.

This is where disappointment enters the story. We didn't take into account the lip of our counter top nor the baseboards of our walls. Sadly our new fridge would not fit unless we modified our counter tops and baseboards. Yikes! We had to refuse delivery of our brand new, shiny refrigerator.

However, we went back to the store and picked out another fridge with the measurements the delivery man gave us. The replacement is a better brand and has more room inside, but, to say the least, we were majorly disappointed that we didn't get the fridge we'd originally wanted and that we had to pay more money for the one that will be delivered this Saturday.

Disappointment can really wreck your day in major ways if you let it. I'm sure you've heard the saying, "make lemonade out of lemons," well, that's what a person needs to do and especially a writer.

We writers tend to deal with disappointment a lot: from bad reviews to stinging critiques to rejections. But also writers are some of the most resilient people I know because we keep picking ourselves up, dusting off our manuscripts, and starting over. Here's three things that have helped me with disappointment.

1.  Consider the source of criticism. Is it someone whose opinion you respect and trust? If so, see what you can do to fix the problem. Otherwise accept that you have a differing opinion from the critique and move on. In the case of the fridge, the criticism was spot on. :(

2. Don't keep going over and over a problem without taking a step back and reassessing. Whenever I've suffered with writers block and can't seem to resolve the problem no matter how many times I've looked at it, it generally means the true issue happened near the beginning. Go back and read your manuscript to see where you started going off the rails. Or as with the problem with our fridge, we had to return to the store and buy a fridge that would fit. Now that's going back to the beginning. :)

3. Be grateful. I know you're scratching your head over this one, but seriously be grateful. A critique that makes your manuscript stronger is priceless. A different brand of refrigerator that is better than the first one we chose is something I'm grateful for. The extra expense, not so much, but the lesson learned of measuring baseboards and counter tops will never be forgotten.

So thanks to my old fridge and the new one yet to be delivered, I've learned more lessons in handling disappointment.

How about you? How do you deal with disappointment?   

 
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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 Remembered


Today is a sacred day in the US. The events of 9/11 will long live in the hearts of all Americans and most especially those who lost loved ones. America will never be the same.

 I found this very touching clip that I wanted to share with you.



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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Make Setting Part of the Action

My writing tip today has to do with setting.

Years ago it used to be the norm for writers to use several pages to describe setting. Some, I swear, went back to the beginning of dirt and soil erosion. And that was okay at the time. Readers were more patient.

But today it's different.

Your writing competes for attention not only with TV and movies, but with video games and the Internet. Readers want to get on with the story. As a writer you need to invest the reader in the world you've created not only with descriptions of the landscape, but with interesting characters as they move through the setting.

In other words, you need your setting to become part of the action of your characters.

Let me show you what I mean. Here's the opening of the novel I just wrote.

Angry lightning cut through dark, heavy clouds banked on the Targhee Mountains. Straddling the wood-splintered rodeo gate to chute number five, Josephine Powers glanced up at the turbulent sky. A deep rumble of thunder echoed through Swan Valley and reverberated over the ground.

 Did something similar to this picture come to mind? I hope so. In one paragraph you knew where you were and that a storm was about to break. Plus, you met one of the main characters. The storm also mirrors turbulence that will happen in the rest of the scene.

So my writing tip today is weave setting in with the action of your characters.

What novels have you read lately that do a good job of making the setting more than a chunk of description, but actually part of the action?




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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

What My Yorkie Taught Me . . .

As I tried to think what I'd blog about today, I couldn't help but think of my Yorkie, Lizzie.

Why, you may ask?

Well, let me tell you what she's been through.

Lizzie came down with a back case of ringworm in the spring of 2010. Once a week for six weeks she had to be lime-dipped, and she had to take this horrible medicine. We were so glad when that was done. We thought she was healed.

But about two weeks after the vet said she was fine, I found a couple of more spots, so I took her to a different vet. He ran some tests. They came back positive for ringworm, so we started again with the lime-dips, but this time she was shaved and had a different medication. The dips went on for 8 long weeks. By October she seemed to be home free. Her fur grew back. And she was looking like her old self again.

However, in January my groomer found a little spot on her back paw. Off we went to the veterinarian. Again more tests found she had ringworm. We started treating it with a topical ointment. During this time we decided to have Lizzie's teeth cleaned. She had a back infection, so bad that her throat was swollen. By the time she healed from her teeth, the ringworm had spread.

Once again, the poor little thing had to be shaved and lime-dipped, but this time every five days. Plus, she was on an even stronger medication. About a month into this, she developed a skin irritation and the fur on her ears started falling out. The vet thought the lime-dips were too much for her, so he stopped doing them. He tested her for ringworm, and she was fine. That was the beginning of June.

And for three months we've been ringworm free!!!

I believe the infection in her teeth dropped her immunities and that's why the ringworm kept coming back.

Lizzie's bout with ringworm taught me several lessons: don't bite when someone is trying to help you, spitting out your pill doesn't mean you don't have to take it, and never give up.

I took some pictures of her this morning. She's a little camera shy, but she was a sport about it. I had to hold her in one place.

Lizzie look at the camera . . .
Not over there . . .
Okay, you've been through enough. That will do!

 
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