Or, an alternate title could be "A blog post proving I'm *that* tired." My youngest son and I left on Thursday for Portland, Maine. We drove through a snowstorm, and we got home late last night. I am extremely overtired. Basically, everything is funny. Earlier today, which should be spelt "tah-day", sorry...spleeled...oops. SPELLED....my friend and fellow Bookie Amanda Dykes wrote a post on her Facebook author page and hashtagged it #MondayBrain. I was all, "Brian? Who is BRIAN?" Amanda has a lovely blog. Visit her here:amandadykes.com Anyway, I was tipping over in my hciar, laughing at my hilarity...whoops....CHair...and it rememinded me that I was sorta over tired from a weekend spent in Portland, Maine, for my (okay, and my husbandès too) youngest sonès...oops...French keyborad...key BOARD... in play...hold on...there we go...the kid's hockey... Here's a few things I learned: -driving in a snowstorm is rough. Scary rough. So its good to have chocolate hidden in your purse that there's NO WAY you're sharing with your 12 year old. -a 5 hour trip took 7 -finding the STUPID hotel in the STUPID snowstorm is really nerve wracking and AHHHH! We finally found it. Right up the hill from.... -CHIPOTLE!!! -I love Chipotle ...and no, it's NOT "chip-ottle", it's "chip-ohh-tlay" -I cannot stand the traffic patterns in and around Maine Mall Road in south Portland. -Marden's had prom dresses on sale for 60$, I pondered buying one, because, heck, everyone needs a prom dress with giant, fake rhinestones on the, umm, "front". And yes, I did ask myself "Just how stupid will you look in this? Because you need to think about your assets and how freaky-bad that many rhinsetones will look across your upper hemisphere." -sound that out, I said "rinse-tones" -hahahahaha! -ahem... -"If You're 51? Just Say No To Prom Dresses" -when a lovely Acadienne friend says "...to 95" she actually meant "295". I take the full blame for the trip on the I-95 to a sweet little town called "Falmouth". And noooooooooo, NOT "Fall-mith" like we'd say up in my neck of the woods, but "FAHL-MOWTH" like the toll booth attendant practically spit at me whilst yelling those words in my face from 2 feet away. -Monique Levert (Leh-Verrrrre) and I HOWLED with laughter at that...then I got us lost in FAHLMOWTH...which resulted in more laughter and then the recitation of the alphabet , in French. At least let's pretend that's what she was muttering as she looked out her window. - *WE* did not give the opposing team's moms the evil eye during the final games, so that blond chick should have taken a moment and un-tangled her poor eyebrows and set them free. I love it when 5 foot tall fake blondes (or any fake colour) try to look intimidating. Umm, really? Glaring the stink eyes at the other team's parents? A team of 12 year olds, by the way. Children. So WHAT would possess a person to try to make the other mothers nervous? Like, what? Are YOU the team goon??? You gonna come at me? I dare you, I have a heavy purse and I know how to swing it! Besides, you just looked BEYOND lame, chickie. -that game was NOT the Olympics, but we won anyway -the drive home was fine, nary a snowflake anywhere...just the lovely moon and starts, instead.
I think I'm ready for bed...because my laptop is tilting over...or is it me?
I'll know in a second if I smack my nose on the floor.
The big kerfuffle right now in the mainstream media is about NBC anchor Brian Williams and his SLIGHT lack of accuracy in his personal experiences covering the war in Iraq. Ever so slight. By now, we all know the details. RPG's. Helicopter crews. Enemy fire. Sand. Wind. Oh, and... Lies. Years and YEARS of lies. Yes, he lied through his teeth, and by all accounts, he did so willingly. But you know what? I even joined in, and for a few minutes, took humour in the memes going around, until S. left a comment on M's Facebook page about the Holy Spirit. Wow. BAM! That smacked me hard, right between my self-importance and my sense of perfection. It brought back memories of the times when I screwed up, and royally so. But for Brian Williams, well, how many MILLION people know what he did? I cannot imagine the pain that his wife and kids have to endure. In case you didn't know it, shame is a physically exhausting experience, and sadly, a shared experience. And it makes the ripples in a pond look like nothing. The ripples of shame are like the aftershocks of an earthquake. Only, they blast harder, dig deeper and hurt for years after the actual event. Shame shares its power. Even people with the same last name are going to get the "Hey, Williams, are you liar too?" treatment. So, where do we come in? As S. said, we pray for the man, and for his family. And we extend grace. Christ-followers NEED to be the ones who buy the guy a cup of coffee and ask him about the weather, and do so in love, because he knows what he did, and frankly, so does everyone else. EVERYONE else. God knows. And thankfully, God's grace covers all sin. Yes, ALL sin. Including lying, cheating and embarrassing your family. But before you say "Oohhh, come ON, the guy is a LIAR!", just be thankful WE don't have to suffer our own levels of judgement. Just imagine the Father's heart when we fail. Does He put our sins on Twitter and give us a hashtag like #mykidsarelosers ? No. And believe me, I am soooooooo thankful I am not measured for salvation by my actions!! Be thankful that God tosses our sins as far as the East is from the West. As Mark Twain said "If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything." So, pray for Brian Williams and his family. The man is hurting, his wife is hurting, his kids are hurting, all because of a "misremembrance".
In the summer of 1990, I discovered a new author. Actually, it was a team of a husband and wife who blew the walls down when it came to Christian fiction, which was a teeny genre back then.
Brock and Bodie Theone (Tay-nee) changed the way people perceived Christian fiction. They wrote hard hitting, emotional, deeply researched and 'full of guts' novels that had people chewing them up, but the books had a Christian world view. Literally millions in print and fans all over the world.
They wrote a series set in Europe at the beginning of World War Two and thank goodness our church librarian was a visionary and stocked multiple copies of each book. The books were so good, I'd plow through them in a day or two. And SO GOOD, my husband read them, too!
But, he'd say to me, "You know, YOU could write this good, I know it."
I just sorta looked at him like someone had dropped a piano on his head.
I finally started writing in 2011. And of course, my husband is my biggest supporter, I'd be nowhere near where I am now if it wasn't for his constant encouragement and support.
All along the road, as I embarked on research trip to the Navajo Nation, and grew to love a culture I'd only heard about growing up, one of my guiding principles was to be as thorough in my research as the Theones were. Have that research flow as seemlessly as possible so that my work didn't have the feel of a bored historian speaking in a nasally drone.
Nor do I want my work to read like a badly done religious tract.
One thing I learned that from the Theones, and some of my favourite writers, including Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Cathy West, Amber Perry, Tamara Leigh, Ronie Kendig, Joanne Bischof, and many others...is to write like you're sitting around a campfire...telling a story to your friends and you and only you can set the moment, the tone, the excitement level, and the need for the reader to turn the page and maybe just read one more chapter because it's 3am.
One of the things many professionals use to expand their platform is Facebook. Love it or hate it, Facebook is here to stay.
I noticed yesterday that I had 699 Facebook friends and laughed, because in high school, I think I had 6 friends, tops. But, really, who cares?
Ahem, I did, but anywaaaaaaaaaay...
I was looking at Facebook last night, and I saw a comment on a friend's wall from THE ONE AND ONLY Bodie Theone.
You know that move, the one where you move closer to the screen to make sure you saw something right? Followed by a very mature "whaaat?".
And then you click on the name, and fix your hair, because she could be watching.
Hey, I read sci-fi...
So, I boldly went Bodie Theone's Facebook page and click on "add friend". Then wheezed like a tween at a One Direction concert.
Then those really mature "I had 6 friends in high school" thoughts went through my head.
You know the ones..."What if she checks me out and thinks I'm nothing but a needy Klingon? Or she finds out the truth?? Which is that I'm a needy Klingon?"
I woke up this morning to find something interesting on my Facebook feed.
Bodie Theone and *I*, me, moi...are "friends".
So, what do you do when you have that "This cannot be real!!" moment and God hands you flowers and a wave from the past?
You squeal...and blog about it.
If you haven't already, feel free to follow me on my author page here:
It's December 23rd, and there's a short lived lull in my house right now. Sigh...hello cuppa Earl Grey!
And instead of writing some pithy Christmas post, into which I totally would have poured my heart, I want to share with you my favourite blog post of 2014.
I wrote it in April, after a very quiet season in my life.
Enjoy...and Merry Christmas!
What does Ray Charles have to do with it?
Remember how I said I'd lost my voice? I fell in January and landed on my chin, and snapped my head back. And from that moment on, I couldn't sing. At first, it was I could barely open my mouth. It took a month or more for the swelling in my jaw to go down enough to speak properly. Even my teeth hurt. I'm amazed they didn't crack into pieces. So, about a month ago, I was singing in church, but very few of my "I can do this in my sleep" notes were there. Well, I did have a wicked head cold. Huh. But wasn't I over that? So, one day, when I was out doing my momming, I tried doing what I ALWAYS do when I'm alone in my van. I sing. Well, I couldn't. I couldn't hit a single note with ANY amount of control or volume. I was devastated. I've been singing since I was a kid. I've sung in choirs, in small groups, I've done solos, you name it. And yeah, I might sound a bit vain, but the ONE thing I knew I could do sort of okay? I could hit those ridiculously high notes that only one other person at our church could hit. Almost every choir I've been in, I was the go-to girl for the ultra high notes. And yes, I knew it, too. But one is always humbled when one blows one of those notes in rehearsal. Because when you sing that high and you blow it? You fall really far. But... Suffice it to say, I grieved the loss of my voice. It broke my heart to be completely unable to sing. I couldn't even stand to be IN church when they were singing. I actually walked out yesterday because it was so heartbreaking to be in a place where hundreds of voices were raised in song and praise, and I couldn't do it. Yesterday at church, we had a guest. Her name is Sheila Charles.
Sheila Raye Charles. And this is her daddy.
Her mike was barely on. She didn't even need it!! WHAT a VOICE!! Serious POWER!!!!
And after church, I NEEDED to speak with her. I needed to tell her how deeply she blessed me.
So I waited, and waited, and finally did the unCanadian thing of interrupting someone because John and the kids were waiting...
I told her she'd blessed me and I'd lost my voice and hers blew me away. She hugged me and said "D'you mind if I touch you?"
I am Canadian. A Baptist by birth. A Wesleyan by membership.
The next thing I knew, she gently pulled away my scarf and had her hand ON MY THROAT.
She prayed for healing, and that my doubt would disappear.
And Redheads? That girl is NOT shy.
So, after she was done bringing down the sky with her prayers, I thanked her, hugged her and walked out to the van and poof, back into mom mode.
Last night, I went to a "Bolivian coffeehouse" at a neighbouring church to hear a team speak about their recent trip to Bolivia. I told a few friends about my loss, but as I was doing so? I felt a leading to shut up.
On the drive home, I thought, "Okay Lord...did You?"
I just wrote, posted, shared, and then deleted, a silly and very fake Christmas letter. Why do all that? Because. Because I'm tired. This last six months has been wonderful, exciting, fantastic and LONG. And I am zonked. How zonked? Too tired to talk on the phone. THAT is how tired I am. But it's a good tired. Just so's ya know. Very good. But now, it's a week before Christmas and I have to do a few things. Like bake and decorate and anticipate and all the festive stuff that needs doing. And what else? Oh, yeah, SLOW DOWN. Slow down. Intentionally do not work on my book. Turn off Facebook. Ignore Twitter ( I do most of the time anyway), the news, email and just about anything that isn't tangible. Instead? Watch cheesy movies and play Christmas music. Bake again, because the kids ate the "I'm going to get ahead of things and bake 3 weeks before Christmas" baking. Oh, and count my blessings. Why? Because, like the old song says ....
Today is "We Went Shopping Last Night and are Still Speaking To Each Other " Day.
(c) Getty Images
Is so not us.
So, here's the thing, our eldest son is graduating next Monday. It is a HUGE deal.
And, it's a NO jeans affair. And since Hubs has a really nice weird kind of houndstooth/tweed patterned jacket that looks awesome, and awesome on him, "we" decided to go with new shirts, a tie and some pants that did not have pleats.
"NO, YOU WILL NOT WEAR THE PLEATED KHAKIS FROM 1991!!!!"
"Why not? They're fine!"
"No. See? They're on fire."
So we went to a NICE men's store, as opposed to the clothing racks at Bass Pro Shops, and found him some clothes that...
ARE IN STYLE.
I'll post photos next week, but for now, just imagine Mr. I Live In Jeans in a jacket and tie, with his wife walking around in shock, and their son begging to know who that complete stranger is standing next to her.
I have wall to wall obligations for the next couple of weeks. I MUST finish 2 antique pieces for a charity auction, and the pieces are due on November 27th. I will be full out working on them each and every day until then. Therefore, until they are done, I leave you with a taste of my trip.
My week in Vancouver was great, other than the 3 days I was sick with a nasty cold.
Now, I present, "4 minutes with Kevin".
Featuring a snippet of activity during which my dad makes a sandwich and several other loved ones lose it, behind the camera, and Kevin and I try to keep going. Then, my dad casually walks over to the coach and sits down.
A writer friend asked me a while back to read her book and help in the promotion of it. It's a hard thing to ask another writer to add one more book to their reading list. Trust me, I know this. As busy as I was, I still said yes, because I know how hard it is to ask. Please understand, it is hard to step outside one's comfort zone as a writer and become a salesperson, even if it's our own work. Especially if it's our own work. Why is it easier to plug a friend's work? I don't know, but...as busy as we are, we also make time for each other, because we know the struggle. And can I confess that I was humbled that Sally asked me. Now, take a leap with me, will you? And hang on. I grew up in Vancouver, a big beautiful city...with a very very seedy underbelly. There are people who only come out at night, because the light of day is a frightening place. There are all kinds of broken people, and very few, listen to me, very very few women willingly engage in prostitution. Well, that wasn't something you thought was coming, did you? I bet you wouldn't expect me to say that, but there is pain in this world that many people choose to ignore. Remember the woman who poured perfume on Jesus' feet? Or the Samaritan woman at the well? Jesus, the King of Heaven, loved these woman. He allowed them to be part of His work, of His story, because He had a point to make. When I was growing up, I went to First Baptist Church, which sits at the corner of Nelson and Burrard, in downtown Vancouver's West End. There's all kinds of corners in downtown Vancouver. And on some of those corners stand women who earn money by selling themselves for the pleasures of men. And do not think for one minute that all of those women want nothing more to do with their lives than to sell their bodies. There was a small group of women at my church who'd arrive a few minutes late for church, every Sunday, and sit up in the balcony and listen with rapt attention. But whoa, their clothes!! All kinds of NOT churchy looking clothes! Over the months, they'd wear less and less make-up, and then they started to arrive on time, in very casual attire. And then they started to argue, audibly, during the sermons. Sermons about the unconditional love of God. I remember one weeping, saying "No, that is not possible!" It was. It is. She, and all her friends, eventually trusted God enough to let Him work and soon, the joy on their faces was evident. The glow of God's love. Watching them each Sunday just about broke my "happy white girl with privileges" heart. Who were they? Some would call them hookers, tramps, prostitutes. God called them His children, His daughters. He knew their names and their deepest secrets. I will NEVER forget that woman. Ever. Seeing her face when she finally accepted that she was worthy of God???
But...perhaps in a high rise, sits a woman who is surrounded by elegance. A woman who wants the good life and sells herself to keep her pretty things. For her, night time is just the part of the day after the sun goes down. But what if someone sells her body, or his, let's be real, because they don't have a healthy example of love and family? Enter Sally Bradley, and a story that blew me away. Like, BAM! I was stunned at the vivid and fresh voice, the character development, and the absolute grit it took to tell this story. Now I'll turn it over to Sally....
Why Miska? Why a promiscuous, kept woman?
Seven years ago on ESPN’s SportsCenter, I
watched an interview with a silhouetted woman who made her living by being
available to a professional athlete when his team came to town. During the
interview, the woman—features completely hidden except for the shape of a very
distinct, short hairdo—talked about how all the athletes did that. All of them.
I remember shaking my head, thinking how sad that she’d fallen for that line.
Just because everyone she knew lived
that way, didn’t mean everyone did. Like attracts like, you know?
Then she dropped her bomb—not only did she
do this for one athlete, but for two. And each man thought they were the only
one. I immediately thought, Honey, I hope
you’re wearing a wig. Or they know now.
She haunted me. What on earth would make a
woman live that way? And what would it take for her to see—and want—the truth?
In the ten years prior, I’d come across a
recurring theme—women who’d been saved out of our world’s messed-up lifestyle.
So cool, right? These women, multiple women, might have seemed far gone back in
their partying days. But God had done a huge work in them. Had saved them,
sanctified them, had given them new hope and life in Him.
But quite often these women struggled with
guilt and regret about things they’d done. Some of them struggled a lot. Others
feared that they couldn’t talk things over with a Christian friend because
they’d be looked down on.
This combined with the SportsCenter
interview to result in Miska Tomlinson, my heroine, and Mark Scheider, the
married professional baseball player she’s in love with. I saw them almost
immediately and knew Miska would have a dark, exotic beauty to her. This was
not the sweet, cute, innocent girl next door but a woman molded by our
image-driven, sex-crazed society.
But I still didn’t know why she lived the way she did. What
makes a woman traffic herself this way?
After some thought, I came up with two
options, one of which I didn’t want to explore because, first, it was a topic being explored a lot at the
time and, second, because it was a place I didn’t want to go to. A writer
really has to get inside her characters’ heads, and this option was one I
didn’t want to have to face.
Which left me with one other option—that
she’d grown up completely unchurched, had never had a father, and had completely
followed society’s twist on love and relationships.
This scenario was also something I was also
starting to see more and more of.
The fiction I long for is fiction that
deals with life as it really is—but always from a Christian viewpoint. Sometimes
we get so used to being in our church families and with Christian friends that
we lose sight of how far our country has fallen from God. We have become a
completely twisted, depraved society, and to keep on pretending that Christians
have no pasts or struggle only with accidentally taking a pen home from work
is, to me, not being honest and sticking our heads in the sand.
My goal in writing Miska’s story was to
offer hope to women who’ve been where she is, to show them that they are
incredible trophies of God’s grace and that their past no longer defines them.
What I didn’t expect was to hear from numerous reader that Kept served up a strong reminder that no one is beyond God’s grace
and that we, as Christians, need to always be offering others the hope He’s
I cannot encourage you all to buy this book and read it. It is one of the most relevant, daring and beautiful stories I've read in ages.
Thank you for visiting us today, Sally. It's been an honour.
But...I never leave my Redheads hanging! Just leave a comment and I'll enter your name into a draw for an e-copy of Kept. I'll draw the winner on Monday, and you'll also hear what new adventure is up next for this Redhead.
Let's just get something outta the way here, shall we?
~~~~~I AM A SERIOUS LAURA FRANTZ FAN~~~~~
So much so that I named my teddy bear Red Shirt and umm...maybe I should NOT have said that...
Anyhoooo, Laura's latest literary feast is the 'can't put it down-didn't even try' wonder known as 'Love's Fortune'. The sweeping story of Rowena Ballantyne's transformation from simple, country luthier's daughter, to an heiress of the Ballantyne Empire.
Now, say that with a hoity-toity British accent..."Em-PIE-YAH".
Poor sweet Wren.
Girl, ya just gonna havta suffer for a while til Laura digs you out and dusts you off.
I had the chance to ask Laura a few questions, so join our chat, will you? And do marvel how intelligent I sounded...and yes, I'm the one asking the hard questions.
1) Ansel was very good at keeping his physical and emotional distance from his family, yet when he came home, he did the same thing to Wren. What was the character framework for him? Did you intend for him to be so aloof, or did he decide to be that way?
Ansel is a complex character, neither at home with those Ballantynes when he is at home, and a grieving widower and father, to boot. Can you imagine returning to the family you’d cut ties with and finding Andra and Bennett awaiting? I mean, the east coast and business is looking pretty good at that point.
2) Wren is a sweet, clueless angel. Was it hard feeding her to the lions known as Andra and Bennett?
My hubby almost threw the book across the room, more over Andra than Bennett. It was fun having naïve Wren enter their den and learn to defend herself. Having James alongside didn’t hurt. And in the end, when she’d had enough, she had a blessed escape. I’m sure some of us have longed to do that given the angst of familial relations, past and present!
3) Did you ponder a different end for Silas? Or did you have a little voice in your head whispering, "Jennifer knows where you live!" ?
I did listen to that little threatening voice in my head, yes. And I did ponder burying Silas in this book. But that would have meant curtains on Wren’s debut and all the social whirl – as well as any heroic advances, thus bringing the plot to a screeching halt!
4) It was sweet seeing that, umm, Jack and Ellie, still, umm, get along well. Do you feel guilty giving that poor woman twelve children? I mean, can't Jack and Ellie just make goo-goo eyes at each other instead of having an army? Or was that one of those "historically accurate" thingies writers do?
As for all that fertility, yes, that comes from my equally fertile imagination and actually knowing a family of 12 who has 10 boys and 1 girl (I rounded it up with girl #2 in the novel) and from reading many census rolls of equally loving couples during that very fruitful time period...
5) Wren gets brow beaten by Andra the Awful, and decides to take one for the team and do the social season thing. How much of a hunt was it for women of her day to marry money? Do you thing the poorer folks had it better, marrying for love and a roof and maybe some food?
Downtown Abbey immediately springs to mind because I think the American mother was sent to woo and wed an English title? Just backtrack from Edwardian times to 1850 and there was indeed a big push to marry well and beget well for the gentry even in Pittsburgh, all for the sake of business and finance. Personally, I find it much more palatable and romantic to marry for love and little else. Some of these highbrow couples were quite miserable – and those drafty mansions quite cold! I will say Wren’s distaste for excess and the social whirl was my own. Though I did find all those rules and extravagances fascinating!
6) Both Malachi and Jamie are written as (totally not) hideous and repulsive, drooling, one eyed beasts. Did you toy with her final choice, or was it set in stone before you put pen to paper/font to screen?
This may have missed many readers but James actually made an appearance in book 2, Love’s Awakening, when he announced Jack’s demise on the river to Ansel. He was just a boy, and an apprentice, but he had his eye on Wren even then. Malachi came out of the blue though and begged to be half-Scots. He does look quite fine in a kilt!
7) Why isn't Red Shirt in this book? Not sure, but that sorta screams 'epic fail' to me. Moving along...
Can you hear me laughing clear over here?! Red Shirt is back in the woods where he belongs. And it may well be in your neck of the woods...
8) Saying farewell to Silas (and yeah, everyone else, whatever...) is hard enough for us readers. How has it been for you? Or is it true that they live out behind your house in a big estate? Come on, I have satellite photos, I know you're hiding them!
I was actually horrified not long ago when I googled my own address and our place popped right up, even buried in the woods as it is! But try as I might, I could not see even a brick of New Hope in the trees anywhere. Actually, 3 books is plenty for a series. I found that while writing the Ballantynes taught me many things such as crossing centuries and generations, my heart remains in standalones. Or in Red Shirt’s case, a very latent sequel...
9) What's on the horizon for you now? I heard you're writing something 18th Century? Care to leave us with a teaser?
No, I cannot, thank you. I’ll just say I’m set for more books through 2019 as of this summer, thankfully. THE END, my friend.
Thank you , Laura!!
And look! A peak at one of Laura's adventures at the cover shoot for Love's Fortune.
OKAY kids!! Leave your name, and a comment and someone will win a copy of Love's Fortune AND a 10$ Amazon gift card.