No Dumb Questions by Julie Arduini

Each Easter season I’m fascinated to watch our daughter process Christ’s love for us as she watches it through our church’s Passion  Play. She has mild special needs that include comprehension issues, so often things her peers can figure out without a lot of cues, she needs some explanation. This year she wasn’t just the townsgirl/robe carrier, she made her way to the crucifixion scene. (I’m not certain she was allowed, but that’s another post for another day.)

Once the play ended, she asked if she could watch the Bible series on the History Channel. She compared the two performances and tried in her ten year old way to compare it to what she knew of the Bible. Of course, she had questions.

PassionPlay2014

Jesus inviting the children to come forward. Our daughter is in the light blue.

  • Why is Jesus looking at Peter funny when he’s talking?

(Because Jesus knows in a matter of hours Peter will deny Him three times.)

 

  • Where do you think Satan was when Jesus was on the cross?

(I’m guessing close by, enjoying every second, thinking he had won.)

 

  • Why did you say I’m more blessed than Thomas?

(Because she believes without needing to see.)

 

  • I don’t understand how Saul and Paul are the same person.

(That’s a tough one to explain. But in the end, she grasped that Saul was someone who lived to see Christians die. He was on his way to catch Christians when Jesus blinded him. Saul’s life changed so much he became Paul, one of the greatest evangelists the world could ever know. And what faith on the Christians part, because they allowed Paul in, not sure if his transformation was true.)

 

  • Why is it such a big deal John is listed last and it says he died of old age?

(At the end of our Passion Play it lists each disciple and how they died. John the Revelator is the protagonist and he jokes how they’ve tried to burn him, poison him, beat him…and nothing worked, so they exiled him. For him to die of old age gives me the goose bumps. He took care of Mary. He was a true friend. And how he loved the Lord.)

 

She had a lot of questions but I loved her understanding, the best we can, the depth of Christ’s love to sacrifice as He did. That she saw flawed men who goofed up and goofed up bad turn things around so much they were among the first to take the gospel and run with it. She understood when evil is the core of intentions, it will not end well.

Her excitement fanned my flames of adoration.

I kept thinking back to Peter. So confident and sure to full of shame. And because of Christ, stronger than ever and remembered through the ages because we can relate. Paul. He thought he was right, and to know he had a hand in so many murders, how could he go on? But go on Paul did. I’ve always been inspired by Him.

And of course, John. Talk about passionate for Christ. The attempts to kill him were such failures they sent him away to exile. I’m sure no one wanted to see his anointed face as a reminder he couldn’t be silenced, not by their hand. That gives me courage to be bolder.

But none of these questions exist, there’s no reason to explore the personal histories without Jesus.

And I praise God our kids know Him. They treat participating in the Passion Play as a small gift to Him, their way of saying thank you for eternal life. For our daughter, thanks we don’t have to kill animals and use their blood to get forgiveness. She gets that Jesus did that for us.

If you weren’t able to take opportunity to watch the life, death and resurrection of Jesus played out, it’s not too late. Find a copy of Passion of the Christ. Check out the History Channel.

Or, best of all, take time apart and spend some quiet time in prayer.

You’re welcome to ask questions.

 

Photo by Julie Arduini/dream special effect used

1 Person Can Touch Millions by Vicki Hinze

 

vicki hinze, Christians Read, 1 can touch millions, canstockphoto.comHoly Week has come and Easter has passed. Like for many others, for me, it’s an emotional time. A time of deep reflection on spiritual priorities, on all things spiritual, really.

 

 

 

This year has been a difficult one for a lot of people. Our prayer lists attest to just how difficult. And yet during Lent especially, our troubles, no matter how huge, seem small because we’re viewing them through the prism of Christ and His challenges. Through God’s prism, and His challenges. Though Mary’s prism and her challenges, and when we see the scope and impact of that on all of humanity, it is overwhelming. It’s humbling. Gratitude and the magnitude of the gift fills us.

I received a link to a Godtube video just before Good Friday. Two women—one singing, one directing a choir of children—were in it. The singer, at the request of her pastor, had rewritten the words of Hallelujah into the Easter story. It touched over 4,000,000 people in four days.  This morning, it’s up to over 6,000,000.

The singer had rewritten the lyrics and wrote to the publisher of the original and asked permission to record her version of it. Two years and one day later, she got that permission.   She sang the song and in days, it created a firestorm.

Comments on her rendition were that it gave the listener chills. That it brought the listener to tears. What’s significant is the sheer volume of people touched and their reactions—they were moved by her lyrics.

I’m sure as certain that when writing the lyrics, the singer didn’t set out to have such an impact. Her pastor asked her to sing Hallelujah, and she agreed, then thought she should rewrite the lyrics for Easter.  So she did.  She had no idea what would happen.  But it did happen, and her effort serves to remind us that, when called to serve, we have no idea of the potential of our service.  We all could impact many others. One doesn’t always know just how far the ripples of an effort will extend.

This, too, is humbling. And it reminds us that in service we bear an enormous responsibility to give our best.  For many years, I’ve been asked regarding my books about sales.  I don’t worry about them.  I do what I can and trust that those who are supposed to read the books will.  Yet I hadn’t thought in terms of impact.  It encourages me to try harder to make sure the books are readily available.  That is part of my best effort.

The point is, regardless of what we do, we all have the potential to impact others, and we never know how many or how deeply.  That, to me, is worth remembering.

If you’d like to view the video, you can at: http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=0E02FMNU

Of all those people, how many, do you think, gained some new knowledge or insight of the Easter story?  Considering the number of times I saw it Tweeted and on Facebook, I’d say a lot.

We can’t measure that, of course, but I do love thinking about the potential.  I do love that so many had the opportunity to hear the Easter story–perhaps for the first time.

That too is humbling.

 

The Book Lady

BoxesDo you ever get the feeling you have too many books?
I’m packing up for a big move this week. With only three days to pack, I don’t know what I would have done without my teenage boys. They have each done an amazing job packing boxes and boxes of books!
Where did all the books come from? I have given away what seems like a library of books to my church and local library, and friends and neighbors. Over the years, I’ve done this many times. Believe me, I’ve shared the books. And still, the boxes filled with books far outweigh and are more numerous than the rest of the packed stuff in the house. How can that be?  Ha!
Just when I thought we were done packing books, I started on my bedroom and noticed I have stacks of books next to my bed piled high on the nightstand and on the floor. Not one or two boxes, but three boxes worth of books. These books are the most important because I’ve put them next to my bed with the intention of actually reading them. I’m usually reading more than one book at a time. One for research, another on writing craft, the Bible, and something for pleasure.
All the books on my Kindle are not included in this count—but imagine if they were physical books. Oy vey!
I’ve tried to cull because it feels like some wicked kind of insanity to pack and move so many books, but when I try to decide which ones to give up, I realize the books that are with me now are all the keepers that have survived the culling of previous years.
Some people love birds, some love cats or dogs—not saying that I don’t—but one of these decades when I’m very old and gray—say in my nineties—they will call me the book lady.

 

Blessings!

Elizabeth Goddard

http://elizabethgoddard.com

 

The Sound of Musical Writing

Gclef_A1_1-4The other day I happened to be reminded of an old memory of my husband listening to the radio as he painted the walls along our basement stairs. The host was reading a school lunch menu . . . in French. Suddenly chicken or macaroni and cheese sounded sooo much more appetizing!

That reminded me of another memory of an old friend of mine, a fellow writer who also happened to have been an actress and TV journalist at various times in her life. She’s lovely, for one thing, but beside that possesses a voice that certainly added to her value in front of an audience, live or on the air. When she was writing, she would bring her manuscript to our critique group and read it aloud. Instantly, we would be swept up in the world she created with words and sound.

Finally, recently I listed to the audio version of Susanna Kearsley’s The Firebird. The story was well researched, the characters sympathetic and appealing, the plot with romantic elements well structured. But I think what I appreciated every bit as much as the writing was the performance of the narrator. She was completely convincing in each of the accents—British, Scot, Russian, even an American thrown in for good measure. I was right there in the world she created for me, even when she read the parts of the male characters.

I say all of this because sometimes the sound of words can so enhance the words themselves that it’s fun to read them aloud from time to time! Granted, the performance might make a difference, or the rhythm of the words themselves. I’m imagining how nice my work-in-progress might sound if I heard it in French or if someone with a rich voice and no fear of emoting did the reading. But as I recall another detail from my voice-talented friend, I didn’t want her to read my manuscript at our writer’s group because I knew she would make it sound better than it was, and I wouldn’t get the constructive criticism I was looking for. So there is definitely a right time, at least for a writer, to have our work performed.

But as readers, I think it’s a fun exercise to read a scene or two aloud from whatever book we’re enjoying, if only to let our ears enjoy the sound of musically written words.

Perfect Season for a Book by Tara Randel

Spring is here in Florida. The temperatures are warming up to make for very comfortable days. Everything is blooming. The azalea’s are gorgeous and the grass is starting to turn back to a healthy shade of green. It’s a beautiful time of year. Just ask the tourists!

These are the azaleas blooming in my yard.

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As an author, one of the things I must decide as I start plotting a book is, what time of year will I set my story? Christmas is always a popular holiday, especially if you love snow and the fun details of holiday decorating. But then I think, who can resist a book set during a summer vacation? The beach. Or maybe a cruise? And what about the mountains in autumn when the leaves are changing color? With so many traditions scheduled at different times of the year, picking that particular season to plan the story gives authors plenty to work with.

So how do I chose? First, it depends on what is going on in the story line. If I start out knowing the book will be a Christmas story, then I can jump right in. I might decide on the season because of my character’s jobs. For added conflict, I might factor in the worst time of the year to travel to visit family or help a friend in need, due to bad weather or my character’s messy personal circumstances. It’s all about the dynamics.

Rival Hearts (Quilts of Love, #19)

 

When I wrote Rival Hearts, my June 2014 Quilts of Love book, I settled on the springtime. Set in Tampa, the warm weather best suited my heroine’s kayaking adventures. Unlike my heroine, who is an indoor kind of girl, I love to be outdoors. The spring temperatures in Florida are perfect for bicycling or hiking.

For Magnolia Bride, my July 2014 Harlequin Heartwarming release, I set the story in June, with warming temperatures beginning to rise in anticipation of summer. So of course I had my characters walk along beach, because you have to hit the beach in warm weather or admire a star-lit night.

I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of winter, but I can get into the spirit of writing a snowstorm scene since I won’t have to deal with actual snow banks in Florida.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love,
and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Leave a comment and let me know your favorite season for a book.

What Would You Put in Your Locket? By Julie Arduini

origami owl photo: Origami Owl Living Lockets 3.jpg

Each Christmas vacation I visit my dear friends from my school years. Last December we met at the mall and as soon as I saw Julie, I was drawn to her necklace. It was a locket with charms inside. She told me it was a gift from her husband, an Origami Owl necklace.

I looked it up when I got home and became intrigued with them. The idea is you buy a necklace and fill it with charms that summarize your life and interests.

The charm choices are limitless.

  • Mom
  • USA/Military
  • Children (blue/pink)
  • Dog
  • Cat
  • Cheerleading
  • Golf
  • Cross
  • Words like faith and family
  • Flip flops

and more.

I gifted myself a cheaper brand for my birthday and I was surprised by how long it took me to figure out what charms I wanted. There’s only so much room in the locket, so you want to get it right.

I represent a lot of things to people: wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend. Ohio person, Upstate NY born and bred. Writer. Reader. Dog lover. Coffee drinker. Choco-holic. And of course,  Jesus-girl.

So, what did I end up with?

  • A set of wedding rings to represent marriage
  • A boy charm to represent our oldest son
  • A girl charm to represent our daughter
  • A pink cross to show the world I’m a Jesus-girl.
  • A stack of books because I’m a writer and a reader.

I think those sum me up well.

But I wondered, what charms would people pick?

If you were given a locket and 5 charms to choose from, what ones would most signify you?

I’d love to hear what you would choose, and why.

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Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt

 

Starts on  April 4th. Oh wait, that’s tomorrow! I thought my Christiansread family of readers would want to know. You don’t want to miss this one.  If you don’t win the Kindle Fire HDX plus $100 in Kindle credit, you could win one of two prize packs including ALL OF THESE BOOKS!
The Scavenger Hunt begins at Robin Lee Hatcher’s blog. There you’ll find all the official details about the hunt which starts at noon April 4th. Her post will be Stop #1. Go there and you’re off to follow the links to each of the other sites where you will gather the clue on each one, and submitting the answer at the end. The trail will lead you right back to Robin’s site.
Even more fun—there will be mini-contests and prizes along the way. The hunt is open internationally. If a reader outside the USA wins the Kindle and $100 credit, they will receive the equivalent in USD$.

HAVE FUN!!!

 

Blessings!

Elizabeth Goddard

Recommended Read: The Singing Quilt by Kathi Macias

The Singing Quilt, Kathi Macias

The Singing Quilt
Inspirational Fiction
Social Issues
Kathi Macias

 

Christians Read, Recommended Read

    Recommended Read: Inspirational Fiction, Social Issues

     The Singing Quilt By Kathi Macias

 

Jolissa Montoya believes God is calling her to work with the disadvantaged children in her inner-city neighborhood. There’s only one problem: The children wouldn’t be able to understand her. Jolissa suffers from a speech impediment and has a thick accent because Spanish is her first language. Ridiculed through much of her youth, she is quite shy and reticent to speak. She is convinced that what God has spoken to her heart is impossible. Impossible, that is, until one day when her confidante shows her a quilt—a quilt that depicts the life of a courageous woman. Can another woman’s courage move her to try the impossible and step out and follow God wherever He leads her?

 

The Singing Quilt is set against the backdrop of the life of Fanny Crosby, who in addition to writing hundreds of songs was also a well-known public speaker and active in Christian rescue missions despite her disability. Readers will be inspired not to let fear or a disability prevent them from answering what they think is God’s impossible call.

 

The Singing Quilt is the third book in the contemporary fiction “Quilt” series (The Doctor’s Christmas Quilt, The Moses Quilt) written by award-winning author Kathi Macias.

 

NOTE: The Singing Quilt completes the series, which focuses on various social issues, including racial and pro-life issues.

 

BONUS: Supplemental online book club materials will be available at NewHopeDigital.com.

 

Reviews:

“This book was God kissed!” ~M.Fields

__________

“I love the way that Ms. Macias does her research in order to not only write this Quilt series but all of her books. I have learned many things from her books. Her story and inclusion of facts about these famous and courageous woman in this series is eye opening. I cannot wait for the next story!” ~Calliegh (via Amazon.com)

 

A Word With the Author…

When we asked Kathi Macias why she wrote The Singing Quilt and what she hoped Readers would gain from reading it, she said . . .

“I wrote this book because I so admire Fanny Crosby, and I wanted readers who may struggle with insecurities that keep them from pursuing all God has purposed for them (much like Jolissa in the book) to realize that with God NOTHING is impossible!”    

 

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers in these formats:

Digital

Trade

__________________________________________

Don’t Miss This!

I’m giving away five copies of The Singing Quilt in exchange for honest reviews.  The first five who respond win.

Email me from my website contact page:  http://vickihinze.com/contact

 

__________________________________________

Readers and Authors: If you deem a book, novel or short story suitable for feature on our “Recommended Reads,” please check our guidelines, and complete the form entered on our sister site, Clean Read Books, to enter it for a Feature consideration

Blessings,

Christians Read

 

A Trouble Antidote posted by Maureen Lang

512px-Candle_or_SorrowEven Jesus acknowledged in Matthew Chapter 6 that troubles are part of life, and I have yet to meet anyone who hasn’t faced some kind of challenge.

 

There are many ways to deal with our troubles.

 

We can ignore them. This is, after all, a blog for readers and reading is one of the best escapes I can think of. While we all benefit from the refreshing elements of temporary escapism, a wise billboard outside a local dentist office once taught me: Your teeth are the only things that will go away if you ignore them.

 

We can wallow in our troubles. This includes regular pity parties, a face more accustomed to frowning than smiling, eventual isolation and perhaps bitterness. Isolation because who wants to spend time with a sour puss and bitterness when we realize no one wants to spend time with a sour puss.

 

Spend endless hours and countless dollars in therapy about our troubles, trying to fix it on our own. This could reap some benefits but might also bankrupt us and does run the risk of too much self-absorbtion after a while. I’m not suggesting therapy isn’t a good idea, but it’s not the answer to every form of disappointment in life. Sometimes it’s just hard to find a good therapist we can afford, especially since many of our troubles have a spiritual element.

 

We can give our troubles to someone else. This antidote sounds nice, doesn’t? Just hand over our problems and let someone else do the wrestling. The problem with this, if we can find such a hero or heroine to accept the burden, is that no one else likely cares quite the way we do, and the answer they come up with may not be best for us.

 

Or we can hand them over to God. Like so many Christian platitudes this is something we hear but the meaning is lost. Surrendering our trouble to God takes a combination of faith, trust, and conscious effort. It’s easy to go through the steps. Pray about something, telling God we’re handing over the issue, and will wait on His answer. But a little while later we take up the worry again. So we start the process over, only this time we add a little guilt to the mix because we obviously didn’t do it right the first time, or at least didn’t have enough faith to wait.

 

For me, the best way to get through a tough issue is to remember that this isn’t a faith issue. I may not have the faith of an apostle, but all that’s needed is a mustard seed size and I’m pretty sure I have at least that much.

 

Faith is the foundation to this antidote, even tiny, itsy-bitsy faith, but that’s not where it ends. We can find comfort in the Bible even with wobbling faith, reminding ourselves of the promises God has made for our future and our hope (Jer 29:11, Prov 3:5-6, Rom 8:28). Make time to collect a list of God’s promises.

 

The next thing to do while waiting for Him to answer, in action or direction, is to remember what God has done in the past—in the big areas, of course, like creating a world as extensively, amazingly, astonishingly gorgeous and complex as the one we live in. Dive into the proof of God’s love that’s right at our doorstep.

 

And then we should look at the smaller stuff. For me, God proved His love a long time ago when I first realized there was more to life than just my own plans. We have a Savior who was willing to die for us so we can look forward to heaven. He’s loved me through my own rebellions, fears, and mistakes. He’s provided practical gifts too, like a roof and clothing and enough food to eat. And He’s given me ample opportunities to rejoice with other kinds of gifts: beautiful birds to admire when I look out my window; books to read and to write; friends to love; people and other resources to experience the joy of learning and growing. Best of all, I have a wonderful husband, a precious family who needs me and a church I love.

 

I guess what it boils down to is a song from one of my favorite Christmas movies. I know April is hardly the time to be thinking about a season that comes with cold weather and snow when we just finished one of the worst winters in recent memory, but do you remember the song Bing Crosby sang to Rosemary Clooney in the movie White Christmas? Some of the lyrics went something like this: When you’re troubled and you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep.

 

So that’s my advice for getting through tough times: Remember God’s love by counting your specific blessings, entrust the outcome based on what the Bible promises and remember the positive things He’s done for you in your own, personal past.

Acclaim the Lord! by Tara Randel

Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord. Ps 89:15 NIV

I read this scripture the other day and thought, have I learned to acclaim you Lord? To acclaim means to cry out, to greet or announce with loud approval or applause. In the KJV, it says, Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance. I had to stop and think, do I know the joyful sound? Do I make the joyful sound in daily living in order to walk in His light?

One of the reasons I love reading the book of Psalms is that no matter what verse I study, I always end up taking stock of my life. More times than not, questions pop into my mind and I find myself really pondering the answers. Not that I always get answers mind you, but by spending time contemplating the verses, I at least come away feeling like I have walked in the presence of God.

Being an author is mostly a solitary job. I sit for hours before a computer scene, creating a world for my characters to live and work in or I read, reread and read yet again, my work in progress. Not exactly a noisy endeavor. There’s not a lot of loud commotion around me, certainly no applause. Yet I can find ways to greet my Lord by being mindful of his promise that I walk in the light of His presence.

On Sundays, I sing on the worship team. Through years of being involved with music, I have come to understand how our praise and worship draw the spirit of God. There are instruments, sound systems, and a congregation crying out in loud approval and applause. It’s a time of celebration and reflecting on our almighty God.

And then Monday morning rolls around and I’m back in my quiet house, typing away. So how do I acclaim Him? By understanding that God is always present. Even as I work, I know He is with me. And if that isn’t enough to get excited about, I don’t know what else is! Each morning I take the time to acknowledge His mighty presence. I may have a full day planned, but I’ve learned to make special time to acclaim the Lord. To speak words of admiration. To bask in His light. I can’t think of any better way to start my work day. Or any day.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the business of life. No matter what type of job you have, at home or in the workplace, be blessed by taking the time to acknowledge Him before starting your day. I can certainly sing out to God from before my computer screen or while driving if I have an appointment. As God’s people, let’s acclaim Him in a loud voice and please, pass on this scripture verse to others. As you share with others, you never know just how He’ll bless you.

Do Writers Owe their Audience by Julie Arduini

(This post contains spoiler alerts if you haven’t yet watched The Good Wife on DVR.)

I love to discuss writing when it comes to television. When I find a well-written show, I’m a fan. I still talk about the episode of LA Law when Roz walked into the elevator while talking, not seeing it was out of order. She fell to her death, a move I never saw coming. She was a regular character with a solid storyline.

Or so I thought.

It was the same when on 30-Something they teased a major death. Well, one character had cancer. They led you to believe she was going to be the one, and it made sense. Imagine my surprise when it was another character, the beloved Gary, who died in a bicycle accident no one saw coming.

I’m probably not the average television observer because I do look at it from a writing perspective. When I turned on the TV Sunday, I settled on The Good Wife because it was supposed to be The Mentalist. I was writing and although The Good Wife isn’t a show I watch often, between commercials and the little I’ve watched, I was familiar with the storyline. About 2/3 way though, I looked up and realized something unexpected was taking place. There was no foreshadowing that I was aware of, minus the minute before the shooting.

When the credits rolled I couldn’t believe it. The show eliminated the hero.

As I read online about it, killing off Will Gardner (played by Josh Charles) was a surprise to the audience, but not to anyone connected to the show. In fact, they had known for a year Josh Charles was leaving.

Audience reaction was mixed. Some, like me, found it a bold move that allows for new storylines to jump off the page.

But a lot of fans felt betrayed. They’ve been watching in anticipation of an official pairing between the hero and heroine. Will and Alicia. They’ve tuned in week in and week out, waiting. And now all hope of that romance returning and lasting is gone. And fans are angry.

That got me thinking. How many times as a reader have I been disappointed because the ending didn’t go “my way?” Who was the writer creating for? The reader and guessing what they might want, or for them and their own plot?

The Good Wife producers knew there would be a backlash, so they even had a letter for fans. Josh Charles even admitted they talked about the ways to say goodbye to his character. The actress who played the heroine, Julianna Margulies, went through this once before when her romantic pairing on ER, George Clooney, left the series. Back then they opted for his character to move to Seattle, and when the series ended, the two characters reunited and fans were delighted. The Good Wife cast and crew even tossed out the “move to Seattle” idea, one that would have ultimately given fans hope for Will Gardner’s return and possible romance with Alicia.

But with his violent death, Will Gardner’s dead and any hope of him and Alicia is gone.

These characters won't have a chance at love thanks to writers. The Good Wife, courtesy CBS

These characters won’t have a chance at love thanks to writers.
The Good Wife, courtesy CBS

And that’s real life, and the ultimate reasoning behind why the writers went the way they did. Life is messy. Sometimes the loose ends aren’t tied into a pretty bow. There are days you wake up with no indication you have hours left to live. The writers felt exploring the reality of life was a better direction to take the show than give into fan loyalty to two characters.

That makes me ask, what about you? As a reader and/or television viewer, what do you expect from writers? For them to follow their gut and plotting, or create with your happiness in mind?

Like I confessed, I come from a writer’s angle. I want to be surprised. I want that shocking moment that I don’t see coming, as long as it makes sense. I know it creates new challenges, but I find those storylines exciting and full of opportunity. When fans get their way, I think ultimately they end up disappointed and writers stifled. My example? Moonlighting, the 80′s show that paired Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd’s characters, and the show died a fast death.

I’d rather see a major character experience the death.

What are your thoughts?

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On Writing

There are few joys like that of writing, to use what we take in, what we experience, what we long for, what we rage against to make something lasting and worthwhile. To draw from our imaginations the filaments that spin a web and snare winged glimpses of something more.

This is beauty. This is joy. An irresistible spring of a creative elixir we cannot help but drink. We are drunk with it, this act of writing that demands our participation. We are immersed and at its mercy.

But this beautiful world is fraught and perilous and not for the weak of spirit or faint of heart. According to Virginia Woolf:

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”

And still we write. We write because there’s a purpose and pleasure in telling tales, true or imaginary—and permit me to say the imaginary are also true, as true or more so than real life. Stories have souls made of words that transform and inform—perhaps the writer most of all.

It’s a journey of discovery, a peeling by Aslan’s claw of all our defenses until we step out and stand before him naked.

Flannery O’Connor says, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.”

The act of writing reveals the writer as creation reveals the Creator. We become known even to ourselves through the words on our pages. And if we’re willing, if we have no fight left in us, we become known to the One who put that spark inside us.

We must be willing to enflesh the seed and let it grow until with great pains it comes forth. And when we look into the face of our beloved, we must be strong enough to accept it might be ugly, weak, barely formed and in drastic need of surgery.

Only then can we claim to be writers.

Iodine: A Break From the Usual by Hannah Alexander

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This is a break in our regularly scheduled post on romance to make a special report on your health, my health, the health of a majority of people in the world, and I think I can get away with it because, not only do I write about romance, but I write about medicine. Please bear with me, because this is something that might very well affect you.

I recently read that in the last century, an erroneous report was given by some so-called scientists who stated that iodine was bad for our health. Because of this error, the iodine that was used as an agent in commercially baked bread was switched to bromide. Gradually our cars, our clothing, our households were mixed with bromide as a fire retardant. Did you know that in 1994 Canada banned bromide from the country? In 1990, England had already done so. But us? The FDA didn’t see a problem, so we are still being inundated with bromide, which is a poison to our systems. We’re eating it, living in it, sleeping in it, breathing it every day. Thanks, FDA.

I, however, have recently discovered what to do about that. For the past 17 years I’ve struggled mightily against various physical problems that mystified me. First I had food allergies, then I developed fibromyalgia, in which the pain and fatigue were so great I was unable to function without narcotic pain killers–something I hope to soon stop taking. You must surely know someone who is struggling with some kind of weird illness that has come out of nowhere, and has changed their lives. Maybe that person is you or a loved one.

My husband can tell you I’m always willing to be a human guinea pig for him, for our patients at the clinic, for my own healing. My friend, Colleen Coble, who is always researching new ways to treat her own symptoms and sharing them with others–what a wonderful friend–shared her new treatment plan to several of us. This plan is the addition of iodine to our diets–but it takes more than just iodine alone. You see, when bromide replaced iodine in our bread, and when bromide was used as a fire retardant, our bodies were purged of the necessary iodine we need. The bromide became so powerful in our bodies that the iodine was forced out. When this happened incidents of breast cancer increased, prostate cancer, in fact, many kinds of cancers increased, and we were left desperately seeking an answer. No one realized, in the 70s, that bromide flushed our much-needed iodine from our bodies and set us up for a myriad of thyroid related illnesses.

Every cell in our bodies needs iodine, and we weren’t getting it. Oh, sure, a tiny fraction of iodine was added to our salt, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Millions of people developed symptoms, particularly hypothyroidism, which meant our thyroids didn’t have enough iodine to keep them working properly, and our bodies began losing the ability to control weight. Notice our overweight people? Maybe you shouldn’t blame them. All this weight increase began after iodine was yanked from our bodies.

Since Colleen convinced me to start an iodine protocol–I desperately want OFF my narcotics–I had only been taking the supplement Iodoral for two days when I found my energy again. A week later, my pain–which was constant until then–just didn’t return one morning. Unfortunately, I didn’t even think about it, I stopped taking the majority of my narcs all at once. Bad idea. I ended up with some good research about what a drug addict goes through in withdrawal.

Because the addition of iodine in the form of Iodoral (easier on the stomach than regular iodine) begins to force bromides from the system, our bodies begin a toxin dump, which will make us feel worse for a while. Of course, I was dealing not only with that, but with nasty withdrawal symptoms from stopping my narcotics so suddenly. I got so sick I couldn’t take my iodine or the supplements needed to go with it, and my fatigue eventually came back, my pain returned, and I had to restart the narcotics–a personal failure for me.

I asked Colleen what I was doing wrong, and she lovingly kicked my butt for trying to go cold turkey off my narcs. She also explained that sea salt water and extra water is vital to detox the system of bromide, heavy metals and other toxins, so that was what I needed to do first. I now take up to a couple of teaspoons of sea salt (must be sea salt, unrefined) in water throughout the day, followed by more fresh water. I take Iodoral in the morning (my dose is 12.5 mg, but others are much higher, depending on how much one needs to get healthy) along with 200 mcg of selenium, as much vitamin C as my body can handle without upsetting my digestion (2,000 to 4,000 mg) and others take zinc and B vitamins, vitamin A, etc. I take a vitamin/mineral supplemental powder from Life Extension to ensure I have the support I need without getting confused about the supplements. At first I couldn’t take that because I was so sick, but now I can. I have a lot of detoxing to go, but this is working.

If you do this, I highly advise going to yahoogroups and finding an iodine support group that will walk you through this. There aren’t any iodine educated docs in our area, but Mel, my husband, the hunk on the picture, is learning now. He’s traditionally trained as a Doctor of Osteopathy, worked as an ER doc for 22 years, and now runs our clinic here in town. He, too, is doing the iodine protocol, and is mentioning it to his patients, as well.

If you’re interested, look up Dr. David Brownstein online. He’s one of the docs helping pioneer the iodine march, and he has a lot to say.

Please take my words into consideration. Please think about it. Iodine is vital to our bodies, and we simply don’t get enough. It’s an epidemic all over the world. We could be much healthier than we are, and I, for one, am desperate to get off my narcotics and other supportive meds and get on with life. How about you?

The Wearin’ of the Green by Kathi Macias

I must confess to not being a big follower or celebrant of St. Patrick’s Day, mostly because I forget about it until someone reminds me that I’m not wearing green. (When you work at home, as I do, that seldom becomes an issue.)

            At the same time, as one whose mother’s grandparents came to America from Ireland to escape the potato famine, I suppose I should at least acknowledge the holiday. And as a writer, I need to do so with some basic research under my belt.

            St. Patrick’s Day is, as the name denotes, a day to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint, Patrick. The date is set on what is commemorated as the day of his death. The day became an official feast day in the seventeenth century, and it is formally celebrated by several denominations: the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, and
Anglican Communion. The day is meant not only to honor Ireland’s patron saint but also the arrival of Christianity to Ireland. With that in mind, I decided I should become more proactive in celebrating this holiday. I started researching the roots and meaning of this day, and quickly discovered it was more than getting pinched on the playground because you forgot to wear green.

            Here’s a fascinating point: The color originally associated with St. Patrick’s Day was blue, but that changed over the years. Before long celebrants began wearing a green shamrock to honor the day and to signify good luck—or “the luck of the Irish.” It is believed that St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity to the pagans, who otherwise struggled with its concept. As a matter of fact, I remember a Lutheran pastor using that very example to explain it when I was a child, and I admit that it greatly simplified the concept, even to my young mind. In what is known as the “1798 Rebellion,” Irish soldiers dressed completely in green on March 17; from that point on, the phrase “the wearing of the green” began to spread until most everyone was familiar with it.

            March 17 became an official holiday in Ireland in 1903, and I imagine the Irish are celebrating it there with gusto today, though I wonder how many—in Ireland and elsewhere—observe the true roots of St. Patrick’s Day. Not only is it more than a day to wear green to avoid being pinched or to down a bunch of beer at a local pub, it is a day to honor a man who used something as simple as a shamrock to explain the mystery of the Trinity to unbelievers. Maybe today, as we observe this century-old holiday, we too can find a way to use “the wearin’ of the green” to introduce others to the Christ that St. Patrick followed.

Writer at Work by Tara Randel

If you’ve ever been in a public place, watching people and coming up with characteristics from the people you observe that are a perfect fit for future characters in a book…you might be a writer.

As an author, I’ve found an interesting aspect of creating characters is to watch people. Where ever I go, I observe what people do, how they do it, what they say and how they say it. I can be at the mall, at a sporting event, even in church, and pick up tidbits that help shape my characters or story to some degree.

Creating characters in not easy. With each character, I must determine their inner struggles and how those struggles impact the story line. I go so far as using a character check list, not only to flesh out the inner conflict, but to detail physical attributes. Names sometimes pop into my head as I create a character, or the name comes to me and from there I draw the character sketch. Kind of a which came first scenario, the chicken or the egg? And depending on the type of book I may be writing, I search for names for their specific meaning to the story line.

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Once I have the characters and story established, I gather nuances from life around me. For example, I plotted my 2013 Harlequin Heartwarming release, Orange Blossom Brides, while attending a bridal fashion show. As I wrote the book, I remembered the conversation going on around me, room decorations, what the models wore and the time of year. Little bits of this added creative touches to my story. Also, remembering the details gave my imagination a jumping off point. From there, anything is possible.

Inspiration comes to writers in a myriad of places. I once named a character Ruby Sue after the cool name of a friend’s cat. I watched a Civil War reenactment and listened to the crowd for color commentary in a scene I later used in a book. Even when my writer friends and I meet for coffee, and ultimately start discussing our works in process, people wonder if our characters are real live people. And please, don’t discuss how to commit a literary crime because that raises a few eyebrows.

I bring a notebook with me everywhere I go so I can jot down impressions or take notes. Just recently, I went for a helicopter ride. I had to take notes because, hey, I may have a character who travels in a helicopter. My husband humors this behavior because he’s grown used to my note taking. Anywhere I go I can find something that will enrich my story.

There is a big world out there and so much of it can be used in conjunction with my imagination. That is the fun part of writing. Not only does life imitate art, but every day experiences create a treasure trove for writers. Even if you aren’t an author, who hasn’t sat on a park bench and watched the world around them? God made humans to be very diverse, interesting and multifaceted. Observing human nature is very compelling, and I get to do it in the name of research.

Kind of makes you want to take up writing just to be a student of human nature. Or read a book and see the world as your favorite author sees it. Either way, people watching is lots of fun.

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