Friday, May 29, 2009
The novel Spring Rain by Gayle Roper would be a great way to wrap up the spring season. If you are the type who likes a little of everything in your novels, Gayle Roper is the writer for you. She incorporates romance, suspense, faith and controversy, all in one book. She doesn't shy away from dealing with difficult topics and this is no syrupy sweet religious novel. The characters deal with real-world issues of homosexuality, pre-marital sex, death, forgiveness and difficult family relationships.
In Spring Rain, Roper tells the story of single mother Leigh Spenser, seeking to raise her son amidst the swirling rumours and memories that surround her past. When Clay Wharton arrives home to make peace with his estranged twin -- Leigh's best friend Ted who is dying from AIDS -- her past comes back to haunt her anew.
I loved reading Spring Rain and am excited to be part way through book two of the Seaside Seasons. series, Summer Shadows. I am already enjoying it immensely. I can't wait to dig into the rest of the series.
Have a great weekend everyone and get reading!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
This was unusual for me, so I didn't rush to my husband and make demands. I knew this was probably just a reaction to events and not a true desire. So, I prayed about it.
I was out walking one morning (enjoying the freedom that comes with having the youngest child in kindergarten) and God showed me what was really happening in my heart. I was in mourning. I was mourning the loss of a life stage.
We go through many stages or seasons in our lives. Each stage demands change. With change comes loss. The old season dies away and the new season takes its place. It's often full of great new opportunities, but it can still be frightening to let go of the past.
I remember feeling this same sadness when I started graduate school. In college I had been "guitar-playing-chapel-going" Karen. In grad school, no one knew me in this way. I was suddenly "geography-class-teaching-and-non-beer-drinking-Karen." I mourned the loss of who I had been until I came to appreciate the person I was becoming.
So, this longing for another child was just fear of losing what I had been? The Mom of tiny babies was now the Mom of school-age children. What would that look like? What would that mean? Did God have something new in store for me?
Over a year later, I am delighted with where I am. I am making steps toward a new career as a writer. I am enjoying watching my children become more independent. I'm feeling great about life.
I still get that sickening fear sometimes. Last week on my youngest child's seventh birthday I started doing the math. She is a third of the way until 21. Halfway to being 14. That's scary stuff. What will it be like when they leave the nest?
Just as there are life stages now behind me, there are even more ahead. Each time I enter a new one, I will need to force my eyes back on Him. I do not need to mourn. I do not need to fear. I need to trust in the plans that He has set out for me.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." [Jeremiah 29:11 NIV]
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Here are some of my picks:
For teens and advanced readers:
Dragons in Our Midst Series by Bryan Davis. Fantasy is super-hot with teenagers right now and Bryan Davis is one of the best Christian fantasy writers in the market. I am reading the first book in this series, Raising Dragons to my nine-year-old, but I'd say it's written more for teens. A teenage boy discovers a deep family secret -- he is the son of a dragon. His heritage, and what he is becoming, puts him in danger from those who wish to wipe the world of dragons, forever. It will take faith and courage to overcome the evil that threatens to overwhelm him. This is a four book series: Raising Dragons, The Candlestone, Circles of Seven and Tears of a Dragon. I have not read all four, but I have purchased the set and can't wait to finish them.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Please, pick me, pick me, pick me!
Monday, May 18, 2009
It wasn't beautiful. But it was delicious.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Okay, I'm officially re-naming my Friday posts. In reality, I don't review books, I recommend books. But "Recommendation" is such a long word and I get tired of typing it! So, I'm going to call it "Book Pick Friday." Short and sweet!
So, looking for a good weekend read? This weekend I want to recommend (ugh, that word again) suspense author Brandilyn Collins to you. If you like spine-tingling excitement that will keep you turning pages until the wee hours of the morning and then leave you nervous to turn out the lights, she is your writer.
Brandilyn has written at least 15 books (I think the number may be higher, but that's what's listed on her website). Today, I'm recommending the Kanner Lake Series: Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, Crimson Eve and Amber Morn. (Click on each title to learn more). This four book series is set in a quiet Idaho town -- a seemingly unlikely location for murder and mayhem. Various characters weave in and out of these books, often congregating (and blogging!) at the local coffee shop. This author is such a master of character development that by the end of one book, you feel like these characters are your friends. You can't wait to pick up the next one so you can hang out with them some more. I did not read them in order, but that didn't seem to detract from the stories.
She spins a wild web of murder, mystery and clues that keep you guessing until the last page. As a Christian writer, she does a superb job of weaving her faith into her books. I can't wait to pick up her newest releases: another suspense novel titled Exposure and a young adult novel titled Always Watching.
Have a great weekend and a a great read!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Last year I was reading the last of the Narnia books to my son (then 8), I had to pause to explain something to him. One of the main characters is a donkey. Okay, Lewis doesn't use the term "donkey." He uses an older term which is no longer considered polite. I'm sure you can figure it out. My son wasn't familiar with the term, so I was a little concerned that he would start using the word in conversation, unknowingly.
"Um, by the way, don't ever use this word."
"Well, in Lewis' time it meant 'donkey,' but today it's considered a naughty word."
Of course an eight-year-old boy needs further clarification on what the word means exactly. I decided that knowledge was power, so I told him. He thought it was hysterical and was rolling on the floor with laughter. Now, knowing how silly eight-year-olds can be, I grew even more concerned that he would use the word to shock someone.
"Kiddo, I'm serious. This isn't just naughty. It's 'get sent to the Principal's office' kind of bad."
His eyes grew as big as saucers and his cheeks lost their rosy color. "That's NOT why I was sent to the Principal's office!"
My chin just about hit the floor. "What??? When were YOU in the Principal's office?" How come nobody told me about this?
To my relief, my son was perfectly innocent. After a scuffle on the playground, the principal had crammed every third-grade boy into his office for a lecture on behavior. My kid was not involved (or so he and everyone else assured me) other than being included for the lecture.
But I will always treasure that moment. The deer-in-the-headlights look in his eyes was so precious. If it hadn't of been for that conversation, I doubt I ever would have heard about the incident. It was almost as if he were admitting to having his hand in the cookie jar, even though he hadn't taken the cookie! He must have felt some guilt about not telling us about being sent to the office.
We still love to needle him sometimes. "So kiddo, what did you get sent to the Principal's office for today?" Thankfully, he hasn't been back...
At least, not that he's admitted.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
These are two of my other goals:
To write stories that evoke a strong emotional response. I don't mean they have to make you cry or laugh so hard that your diet pepsi comes out your nose. But, I do want the reader to care about the characters and feel changed in some way after they close the cover.
I want to write books that make people wrestle with questions. The song "Jesus Loves Me" says that I know this because the Bible "tells me so." No to try to upstage this famous song or the Bible, but I want my stories to entice people to question their beliefs and then come to "own" their faith.
So here's my question for you. If you are a writer, what are your writing goals? If you are a reader... what books have been "flashlight-worthy" for you?
Monday, May 11, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
It's called Wordle and you can find it at http://www.wordle.net. You type in a list of words and it uses them to design a "word cloud." You can jumble them up, change colors and fonts, etc. It's great fun. I've been playing with some elements from Shaken. Click on the images below to see them full-size.
wordle." I'd love to see your results!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
[I apologize to the historical society's that may have copyright on these. I've lost track of where I found which photos. I do not plan on using any photos in the book itself, it's purely for research purposes at present.]
The photo above shows people gathering shortly after the first quake. They are looking downhill toward the fires that are burning in the areas south of Market and the financial district. You've got to wonder what they are thinking as they look at the rising plumes of smoke. Do they have any idea that those flames will soon be consuming the neighborhood in which they are standing? Is it idle curiosity at that moment or do they have an inkling of what is ahead? Over the next three days those fires consumed 490 city blocks.
This woman is sitting just outside the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The exhaustion and pressure of the day is evident in her demeanor as she perches on the edge of a steamer trunk. Many refugees hauled what they could down to the ferry building and fled across the bay to safety. I love the man standing down-photo from her. He looks like a cowboy getting ready for a shoot-out. Do you think he knows her? What is he thinking as he observes her grief?
In the photo above, author Henry Lafler types away in Portsmouth square. His typewriter is sitting on a trunk, probably abandoned by someone in attempt to flee the oncoming flames. Take a close look at the bare ground in front of him. Do you see the shovel? The square had been used as an overflow area for the city morgue. Now the fires were pressing in, officials quickly ordered a temporary burial. Only a reporter could calmly sit there typing up a story with fresh graves directly in front of him and smoke from the oncoming flames rolling down the street. Then again, today, how many of us would be out there with our blackberry, digital camera or laptop computer? Maybe we are all casual observers of the events around us.
Another thing I've been researching this week is the history of women's fashions, particularly underwear. Whatever you do, don't try this on the Internet. You can get some pretty creepy information. Trust me, I'll spare you THOSE photos!