Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Obsessed With Autumn

I welcome this season every year like a long lost best friend. She doesn't stay long in West Texas, but while she's here we party! I'm trying to restrain myself from putting up the decorations because it's only September, but since we have unusually cool temperatures this weekend, I may not be able to resist. 
I wonder what's at the end of the road? (Goodgle Free Images)
























I have a dear friend who totally gets my passion for autumn. She sends me a box of Fall presents every year! Decorations, candles, themed dishtowels. This year she included a beautiful framed print with a note about hoping the image "takes me somewhere else." It does, dear Janice, thanks so much. 

Fall is also the beginning of what we southerners call "eatin' season". I'm determined to enjoy my Autumn with healthy choices so I don't sabotage all the good I've done so far this year. I tried this "candy corn" fruit cup and it really was nice. 
Google Free Images
 So what is your favorite season? What do you like best about it?

I'd love for you to share anything Fall related. Did I mention that I love Fall? 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Probably My Most Nerdy Post To Date

Google Free Images
So I'm convinced there's just way too much negative environment in this world. I'm not talking about what's going on the WORLD, although that's very concerning and a matter of grave attention and prayer. I'm talking about in the lives of individuals. Seriously, can we talk?

I hear of people around me all the time whose dreams are being shot down every day. I have a pretty good support system in my family, church, and friends. It always surprises me when I see someone who has NO ONE telling them "You can do it!" More often than not they get, "What do you think you're doing? That won't work. Who do you think you are? You think you're better than us? Why do you even want to do that? and the list goes on and on, ad nauseum.

I've learned in my advanced years that you can't please some people. Ever. Boy do I know it. Yes, there's a story there, but since I'm past it, not gonna share it. The point is, we have to get over that. More importantly, we must surround ourselves with people who believe in us, and believe with us that the dreams God placed in our hearts are important, doable, and worthwhile. Those folks are hard to find sometimes, I know.

I was talking to some young friends recently about this. I listened to them talk about their dreams, and in the same conversation they talked about the obstacles. People. Made me want to start a Dream Team Club or something. It would go something like this:

"The meeting of the Dream Team Achievers Club come to order. Could I have a report from the World Traveler Dreamers? What? You did not apply for your passport yet? Get on the stick, folks, you can do it! Can't go to Ireland without a passport. Go over to the computer and print it out right now. Fill it out right now. Did you start the Trip Savings Account yet? Great!" (whoops and cheers all around the room).

"Now, let's hear from the Published Authors Dreamers. How many pages did you write this week? Did you research agents and publishers in your genre? Did you go to your critique group?" We'd celebrate every step taken, no matter how small.

Same for those wanting to go to college, learn a new language, etc. Just 'get on the stick' encouragement and praise. I don't know, whatever people need. Sort of sounds like the definition of 'friend', doesn't it? Anyway, just spilling from my heart.

By the way, all you dreamers, I highly recommend Bro. Duane Sheriff's message called Dreamrunners: Putting Legs to God's Dream for You. It's a free download, or you can order a free cd.

What is standing in the way of accomplishing your dreams?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Mockingbird Next Door

Generations of readers love Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. The movie is one of my all time favorites. I loved Scout in the ham costume, because I was a grape in a play in the fourth grade in Pineland Texas. I felt connected with Scout for the kind of fun, kind of humiliating thrill of it. I didn't get assaulted on the way home that night, but I did fall during my little dance. I ruined my green hose and got a splinter in my knee from the wooden gym floor.

I love the movie because like Jem and Scout, I played all over town in Pineland with no fear of any danger. I'd take off on my bike and be told "Be home before dark." Oh to be skipping among trees as the sun goes down, the wind in my pixie hair, the cool dirt under my bare feet. Of course, those days are gone.

A new book released in July called The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee. Marja Mills, a  former reporter and feature writer for the Chicago Tribune, headed out for Monroeville, Alabama, like so many before her, hoping to get a story, any story, about Harper Lee. Miss Lee chose to separate herself from the notoriety garnered by her Pulizer Prize winning novel in the sixties. To Marja Mills' great astonishment, she was taken into the confidence, friendship, and inner circle of Harper (Nelle) Lee and her sister, Alice. It seems the sisters were ready to set the record straight. They felt that many lies had been told. Nelle particularly had a disdain for journalists, who just made things up when they couldn't get at the truth. Imagine that.

The journalist ended up renting a house right next door to the Lees. Over the course of about two years, Miss Mills learned much about the Lee family, and about Monroeville, the setting called Maycomb where the novel takes place.

I found it very satisfying to hear why Nelle chose to distance herself from the public, what she really thought of Truman Capote, Gregory Peck, and the different movie versions that have been released over the years. I hoped, and thought surely there'd be more about her relationship with Mary Badham (Scout), but maybe there wasn't one. Especially since Scout is on the cover. Regardless, the book was a joy and a delight.

The heartbreaker is that I had to go Google after I read the last page. I wanted to know if Alice still lived, and to see how the book is doing. Unfortunately, it seems that Harper Lee released a statement that she never authorized Marja Mills to write a book about her. Alice has released a counter statement saying that her sister suffered a stroke in 2007,  "can't see and can't hear" and would never have said such a thing. It hurt my heart for everyone involved. Still, I highly recommend the book. I'm glad I read it. The experience with the Lee sisters as outlined by Marja Mills is almost idealic. I want to be friends with Nelle, Alice, Julia, Tom, and all the others in Nelle's circle of friends. Still, so hard not to feel sad for the author of one of the most important and well-loved American novels.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lest We Forget

I saw a friend today in Walmart. She mentioned that her mother's birthday was coming up and that it would be a hard day. Her sweet mother went to heaven. 

It reminded me that those who have lost a loved one continue to hurt long after their friends go on with their lives.

Say a prayer today for someone who has lost a loved one. The Father said, "Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." (Phil. 2:4). 

It's sometimes hard to know what to say, but I'm reminded today that we should continue to lift the bereaved up in prayer.

What else can we do to show that we remember?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Dawn Crandall Interview

The Hesitant Heiress is your debut novel. Tell us about your publishing journey.  "Actually, I never wrote a thing until January of 2010. I'd been thinking up my plot and figuring out what kinds of scenes I wanted, but I could not decide whether to write the story in first person POV or third person. I'd heard it was difficult to write first person well—and that kept me from doing it, although it was always how the words seemed to come to mind. Finally, I decided I just needed to do it--and because I was ultimately writing it for myself more than anyone else--I just dove into writing it from first person, because that was how it needed to be told. However, about a year later I was stuck on trying to figure out exactly how to get to the ending I had planned! Considering I'd basically figured out how to write a book from studying how my favorite books were constructed, I realized I needed to find a critique partner and join some kind of writing organization. So I joined ACFW, met my beloved friend/crit-partner Susan Tuttle, figured out my ending and went to the 2011 conference (upon my husband's urging). I met with two agents there, had two partial proposal requests... and then a month later, I had two agent contracts in my email box! Pretty crazy for not even knowing what a proposal was until after they'd been requested. After I chose my wonderful agent, Joyce Hart, I still had to finish revising the ending of my book! So my one and only proposal went out into the hands of editors during the summer of 2012... and then I waited, and waited and waited. Basically two years to the day that I'd been offered my agent contract, I received official word that Whitaker House wanted to publish my series (which I'd been working on finishing while waiting), first as eBooks, and then later, hopefully as paperbacks. 

Are you a plotter or a pantser when it comes to writing? I do outline pretty extensively concerning chapters, character development, motivations and goals and especially the ending, but there are ALWAYS surprises along the way!! Sometimes I'm totally surprised by some of the things the characters end up doing!!  

How do you find time to write with a newborn baby? Um, before I got pregnant last year I used to start writing at 8-10am on my writing days, and I would get lost in my story world until my husband came home, most times forgetting to even eat lunch. On those days, I could sit there for up to ten hours, a few days a week. I'm not a very fast writer because it takes so long for me to get back into the story after days away—I would usually pre-write, write and edit one chapter per week... My baby is only a few months old right now, so I'm still trying to figure out how exactly I'm going to keep writing as efficiently as I had before I was pregnant. Prayers appreciated!!! 

When is your next book due out and what can you tell us about it? The second book in the series, The Bound Heart, comes out this November. It's about one of the minor characters, Meredyth Summercourt as she deals with her own issues a few months after the first book concludes. The prologue to this second book is previewed at the end of The Hesitant Heiress. 
 (www.goodreads.com/book/show/21490844-the-bound-heart). 

Comment below for a chance at weekly and grand prizes!

 Where can readers find out more about you and your writing?
 twitter - @dawnwritesfirst



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Daily Faithfulness

Google Free Images
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

What in the world did Jesus do for thirty years before he started his ministry? Fully 10/11ths of His life on earth was spent in Nazareth. Possibly Joseph died when Jesus was young. He was not mentioned in the accounts of Jesus’ ministry or crucifixion. First-born Jews took care of their families. Jesus had a mother and siblings to look after and he was a carpenter. He knew the daily details of business, of working with customers, of supporting his family. When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and God said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”, Jesus had not yet done the first miracle. He had simply been faithful to his family and to God – for thirty years! What a tremendous motivation for us to persevere in our daily duties; to carry out with faithfulness and love those invisible tasks that make a life for those under our care.

We look forward to the day when He says to us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Father, when I don’t want to go to work or do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and bills, help me to remember the Lord Jesus laboring over a piece of wood, or seeing to the needs of his mother and siblings. Give me grace to work faithfully, diligently, and with love and grace. In the Name of the One who is Faithful and True, Amen.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Hesitant Heiress

 The Hesitant Heiress, a brand new historical romance,  releases today from Whitaker House. I am pleased to post a review of the book here. Next Monday we have the treat of an interview with Dawn.

"After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy in her hometown of Seattle, Washington, disappearing before her very eyes. Now, the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: Marry within the year to inherit the immense fortune of her estranged grandmother. Amaryllis reluctantly moves in to her aunt's Boston home and rubs shoulders with fashionable society. Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself quickly falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, the envy of every eligible female, whose father has haunted her dreams for the decade following her mother's tragic death. However, Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems...and everything she never knew she wanted. But can she ever really trust an Everstone man?"

From the very beginning, the conflict tugged at my heart and kept me turning pages. Amaryllis Brigham meets her troubles head on with an inspiring faith. But this girl doesn't know how beautiful she is, nor what's in store for her in the person of Nathan Everstone. The characters are richly drawn and engaging. Dawn Crandall's historical research is impeccable, but so expertly woven in that you don't even notice, you're just there. Each chapter is headed with a spot on quote from classic literature.

Her dream of a establishing a music conservatory is attached to her having to marry, something she'd never really considered. A mysterious event in Amaryllis past, one that she doesn't understand and has plagued her much of her youth, threatens to thwart her growing romantic interest. The truth is revealed after much conflict and soul searching. The satisfying ending left me wanting more of these fascinating characters and the storytelling of Dawn Crandall.

I highly recommend this new book. Congratulations, Dawn!