Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How to have a GLEEFUL Summer by Sue Badeau

Sue Badeau has had a lot of experience with children (read her bio, below!), and she has lots of wisdom to offer not just about parenting, but also about embracing life with joy. I love this super summer UPGRADE!

“As a child, I couldn’t wait for summer,” Sue writes. “What’s not to love? Fireflies. Popsicles. Campfires. Books. Barbeques. Beaches.

“As an adult I dreaded summer. What’s not to hate? Ants and Mosquitos. Oppressive humidity. Sunburns. Poison Ivy. And this body in a bathing suit? NOOOOOOO!”

HA! That’s the best description of summer—pros and cons—I (Dawn) have ever read!

Sue continues …

Memorial Day 1985. Only May and temperatures were already blistering. It was our first summer with multiple foster children—three teen boys— along with our “littles” (five kids under the age of five!). The prospect of a hot, miserable summer drained the life right out of me. Like the Psalmist said,

“My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer” (Psalm 32:4).

And then I looked around at the gleeful faces on my beautiful children as they ran back and forth under the sprinkler their awesome dad had set up on the lawn.

I decided that I was going to find a way to change my own attitude from “grumpy” to “gleeful” and take summer back!

I developed a seven-step plan for upgrading my summer from grumpy to gleeful. Perhaps my plan will help you upgrade your own summer as well!

The underlying principle is to become like a child.

Summer was made for children and childlike wonder. “Children are the kingdom’s pride and joy. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in” (Luke 18:15-17, The Message).

You can do all of these things on your own, even as a fifty-something “empty-nester,” but they are better when shared with a child—so grab your children, grandchildren or neighbor’s children and get your glee on!

1. GROW something: Get your hands dirty. Experience the thrill of eating a tomato from the vine, letting the juices run down your chin. Bring new life to the lesson of the sower and seeds.

2. LEARN something: Read. Check out that museum in town you’ve never visited. Add a new word to your vocabulary every day. Practice sign language.

3. ELIMINATE something: Put the song “Let it Go!” on. Sing it loudly—off-key is okay!—and get rid of stuff. Donate. Recycle. Toss. It’s freeing.

4. EXPLORE & Experiment: Try something new. That first “gleeful” summer we boldly took eight kids on a cross-country camping trip. We explored and took risks. We experimented with the idea that we could live as frugally on the road as we could at home. And we did!

5. FLIP over something: Somersault on the lawn. Jump on the trampoline. Cannonball into the pool. Be silly and find what excites you. Catch fireflies. Watch fireworks. Be present, in the moment, completely head-over-heals enjoying the activity at hand.

6. UPLIFT someone: One year, our kids held weekly lemonade stands to raise money for earthquake victims in Haiti. Find your passion and make a difference.

7. LEAVE a lasting LEGACY: More than anything money can buy, children crave your time and presence. Sleep under the stars. Tell ghost stories by candlelight during a thunderstorm.

To this day, the memories our now-grown children talk about the most are from the lazy, hazy, crazy and gleeful days of summer. Don’t sit it out being grumpy.

Upgrade to a GLEEFUL summer—what’s not to love? Fireflies. Popsicles. Campfires. Books. Barbeques. Beaches. And always, amazing memories!

Which of these “get your glee on” ideas inspired you? How can you “become like a child” today?

Sue Badeau is a nationally known speaker, author, and child welfare and trauma expert. Sue and her husband Hector are lifetime parents of twenty-two children—two by birth and twenty adopted. They wrote the book Are We There Yet: The Ultimate Road Trip Adopting and Raising 22 Kids. Sue’s new Kindle book is Volume 3, “Never Too Old” in the Summer in Sweetland series. Learn more about Sue at suebadeau.com and badeaufamily.com.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cheat Sheet or Quick Reference Guide? Part II by Susan J. Reinhardt

Cheat Sheet or Quick Reference Guide? Part II

Last week, we talked about Cheat Sheets and how they keep you from putting forth your best writing efforts.

When I read a craft book, blog post, or take an online course, I often think, "how am I ever going to remember all this material?" Well, the plain fact is I won't recall everything. Unlike a Cheat Sheet, a Quick Reference Guide is designed to summarize the important stuff without explaining every nuance related to the topic. It's a memory jogger not a way to cut corners.

How do I construct a Quick Reference Guide?

1. If a nugget jumps out while I'm reading a craft book or other educational tool, I jot it down. It's helpful to have more than one document with each focusing on a specific topic.

For example: I have a mental block with techy stuff. "Now, how do I do an em dash?" I have the simple instructions printed out for quick reference. This way, I'm not searching the Internet every time I need an em dash.

2. A short statement that gives me a fast definition of a term.

Jill Elizabeth Nelson's book, Rivet Your Reader With Deep Point of View,* drove a particular point home: Don't name your character's emotion. That simple statement keeps me on track when writing my novels.

I read this book while writing my second book, The Scent of Fear. One reader commented: "I don't know what you did in this book, but it's even better than the last one." I employed the principles in Jill's book to my writing.

3. Writers Conferences

If you want to talk about cramming tons of information into your head, this is the place it happens. Many workshop presenters hand out notes to help you retain the material, but I rarely had time to go over them more than once.

I try to isolate the principles they're teaching and write them down. This helps me remember the highlights and apply them to my writing.

For example: Tim Shoemaker taught a workshop on Show, Don't Tell. He gave out a small tube and a lightweight ball. The lesson is embedded in my brain forever. I look through the tube at the ball. This represents what the Point of View Character sees, hears, and knows. This character cannot refer to what another character is thinking. He's not a mind reader.

These are the types of items that go on my Quick Reference Guides. Most of the time, they're not formal lists. They can be notes in a file that I can grab when I need them.

*I was unable to get the Amazon link to work in this post. This book is available on Kindle.

Writers: What Quick Reference Tips do you have for me?

Readers: Do you ever save household/DIY/craft or other tips to jog your memory about a subject? Please share.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Answering a Call by Karen Gass

When the call came for writers who were interested in being part of the Sweetland book project, I jumped at the chance. When they accepted me, I was honored beyond belief!

What a project - nine authors, each writing a chapter of the book. Each chapter is uniquely created by the author, with her own cast of characters. Although, it’s a good possibility one author’s characters could show up in another author’s chapter. Every story leads to the Labor Day Picnic in Sweetland.

Sweetland is a small town, where everybody knows everybody else. Before we could start writing our chapters, we had to create the town of Sweetland. We made a map to keep track of the characters homes, workplaces, restaurants, community buildings and the most important place of all - the ice cream shop. We had to decide on weather conditions, geographical aspects - it was like playing house!

I’m looking forward to the completion of the book, and finding out what happens at the end!
Tina Harper has lost her husband, and now her job. Desperate to find another one, she is offered what seems like the perfect job and but has to turn it down. A new friend from church, Amanda Casey, takes Tina under her wing, and they pray together for God’s provision. The gates of Heaven open and the blessings pour down as God begins to provide for Tina’s every need; even a need she didn’t realize she had.

Karen Gass is the author and Indie publisher of Morningshine and Morning Glory, the first two books in a 3-book series titled The Spring Street Quilters. She is also the author of Log Cabin Quilts: A Brand New Story by Karen Murphy, published by Martingale and Co. This was the first quilt design book ever printed with a fictional story to go along with each quilt design. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and The Christian Pen. Karen is currently enrolled in Southern New Hampshire University working towards her BA in Creative Writing with a minor in Graphic Design. At this time Karen is working on the third and final book in The Spring Street Quilters series.

The Amazon Kindle link for “Not Forgotten” is: http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Sweetland-6-Not-Forgotten-ebook/dp/B00M33UXQI/ref=sr_1_5?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1406381801&sr=1-5&keywords=summer+in+sweetland

Grab a FREE AUDIO BOOK from Alan Lester!

Grab a FREE audio book from Alan Lester!
From Alan:
"Thank you my friends, for enduring my 10-day countdown. Thank you for caring and sharing my posts! For those who have enjoyed my blogs, I have written another one for today. Hurting in Hope e-book is now available at Amazon, but also, the audio book is available for free download on my website. The paperback is due for release on Thursday 31 July :-) If you get to read or listen to this book, you should know that I have been praying big things for you for months! I trust He will answer those prayers. http://www.facebook.com/l/wAQF6zqsAAQHTjQYCzLcJHK6MbkdFogTObC3C5O9zUHfsgQ/www.sermonaudio.com/new_details3.asp?ID=78220 "

Here is more information on “Hurting in Hope: Mom Has Died” :
Amazon Kindle link: http://www.amazon.com/Hurting-Hope-Mom-Has-Died-ebook/dp/B00M34WEGY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1406312770&sr=1-1&keywords=alan+lester

Kathi Macias (Award-winning author of more than 40 books http://kathimacias.com/about-kathi-macias)
“From the depths of agony and loss, Pastor Alan Lester has penned a message of hope and healing to a hurting world. Because he has recently walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death with his beloved wife and helped his children do the same, he is now able to speak both personally and practically with a passion born of grief and sorrow. Hurting in Hope: Mom Has Died is a book of ever-deepening faith, which will both bless and challenge you—and one you will not soon forget.”

Shoved into an inescapable disaster, ALAN LESTER is forced to make a phone call to his sixteen-year-old daughter, CHYREECE; mom has died. After uttering those words, he remains on the line with her, driving numbly along a muddy farm road, through a violent South African thunderstorm.
He briefly recalls other terrible moments when his recently deceased wife CHARLEEN had faced similar news. Even her elder brother, her last remaining relative, had died very suddenly just over two weeks previously, and now the time of her own death had come.
The author skims over nineteen years of beautiful married love, culminating in a final encapsulating thought; he and his wife had not parted with untidy loose ends because they had learned to live their goodbye. At the time of her death, there had been nothing left unsaid. This tranquillity extended even into the very moment of his wife's heartbreaking moment of death.
Instead of wandering alone in a morbid wasteland after his wife's death, the author describes the beautiful ways in which family gave him a new place to call home. This compassionate family life was not limited to biological family members, but extended even to the household of God—the church. He gives testimony of genuine loving relationships that bore the brunt of the author's weakness.

Dr. Josh Mack (Pastor of Living Hope Church, Pretoria, South Africa www.livinghopechurch.co.za http://joshnmarda.wordpress.com)
“I am so glad God has given us examples of how to honor Him in the most difficult moments. For me, Alan Lester has been one of those. As I have watched him grieve and as I have listened to him pray and as I have heard him sing and as I have seen him continue to live for Christ in the midst of intense pain, I have often wished others would have the opportunity to learn from him as well. I am thankful he's written this book because I believe it gives a real life glimpse into the way God's grace can change the way we as Christians live, love, suffer and comfort those in pain.”

Friday, July 25, 2014

Love ,Acceptance,Connection,The Dark Side...Mark Carver's "Indelible"

Mark Carver just released “Indelible” on paperback yesterday!
It is an interesting novel to say the least.
Check out this one review, take right from Amazon:
I really loved this book! The story of an artist, struggling with his darker sides, wanting to be noticed, but also looking for love and acceptance and connection.

You can have them both, right?

Well, when trouble falls upon the dog early on in this story, you know things aren't going to go as planned. This was a very cool book, an interesting character study, and I read it with eagerness during each sitting. It is the kind of read that both writers and readers alike would connect to. The prose is inviting, easily digested in large morsels and never gets in the way of the story. It largely is told from the POV of one character, and the author expertly has the reader stuck in the middle of this character's dillemas. On one side is the allure of recognition of his art, status with the fans, facebook likes and retweets and adoration at conventions. On the other side is something that seems deeper: an opportunity at a relationship that can provide a more meaningful happiness but without all the artistic recognition.

You can have both, right?

Well, characters we like acting against their own best interest makes for some great fiction. I found myself wanting the main character to speak up more, to express his feelings, to offer a kiss, to stop taking that pill, to do this and that and otherwise, but that's not what us humans always do. The author seemed to enjoy having the character participate in mini self-sabatoge while the reader thinks... "no, don't do it.. don't do it." I love how the author did the ending, although I am sure some will want something different. Either way, the character here is someone you will invest in, and the book is an excellent achievement.

~Mark Matthews, author of On the Lips of Children

Here is the synopsis, link for novel and a little bit on Mark Carver:
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Indelible-Mark-Carver/dp/1622084128/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1406310692&sr=8-4&keywords=mark+carver
Most people would say that Cameron McConnell has a pretty sweet life - living in sunny California, designing fantasy weapons for big-name clients, and enjoying his bachelorhood with his loyal dog Conan.
But it's not enough. Cameron knows that deep inside him is a barbarian that wants to break free. The only problem is that no one else knows it.
So he makes a drastic choice: a savage tattoo on the left side of his face.
From that moment on, everything changes. His family is horrified. Women are intrigued. Friends are in awe. And the fantasy weapons world goes nuts. Cameron becomes an instantly-recognizable celebrity, and he thinks that this could be what he was missing all along.
But what happens when the mask we show the world becomes a permanent part of us? And what happens when we start to believe the myth we have created?
Mark Carver is the author of The Age of Apollyon Trilogy, the short story series The Jerusalem Chronicles, and Indelible. His next book, Cyn, will be released soon and he is currently working on his sixth novel, Beast. Besides writing, he is passionate about art, tattoos, heavy metal, and medieval architecture.

After living in China for more than eight years, he now lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife and two children.

Please visit Mark's homepage for news and info: http://www.markcarverbooks.com

Contests, Giveaways,Free Sample Chapters to Read & much more! Melanie M. Jeschke's "Expectations"

Melanie M. Jeschke was on The G-ZONE recently discussing “Inklings”, “Intentions”, and her soon, August 7th, to be released novel “Expectations”.

Right now she is at Oxford University guest lecturing and guiding tours. She will be back on The G-ZONE in early Aug. to discuss her experience.

You can take part in some fun while she is gone. Click on the link below and go to a Tab Helping Hands Press has set up for her. On that tab you will find our last interview on blogtalk on the sidebar, a sample of “Expectations” to read, and on Monday there will be contests and giveaways.

Here is the link and more:

The Oxford Chronicles
Melanie M. Jeschke

An unforgettable tale of dreams pursued
in Tolkien’s Oxford and romantic Paris

From the humble Oxford home of Edith and J.R.R. Tolkien to the sophisticated culture of Paris, this inspiring sequel to Inklings and Intentions follows a complex journey through loss and recovery.

In the autumn of 1965, four members of the Oxford University Inklings Society face different challenges as they hurry to their agreed-upon rendezvous at the Eastgate Hotel. Newlywed Kate MacKenzie has just learned that her constant nausea is due to an unplanned pregnancy. Her husband David is bursting with the good news that he has been invited to spend a semester as a visiting lecturer at the American College in Paris. Yvette Goodman, though a successful scholar, is struggling with her disappointment in her single status as her twenty-ninth birthday looms ahead. Oxford don Austen Holmes makes a detour to the St. Cross cemetery, where he pays a brief visit to the grave of his young wife.

They all believe they have a glimpse into what their futures hold. They all have dreams and longings, as well as disappointments and sorrows. Will God provide for Kate, David, Yvette, and Austen as they hope He will, or is His plan for each of them something far beyond their expectations?

“The wonder of C.S. Lewis's and J.R.R. Tolkien's Oxford, the joy of romance, and the challenge of faithful commitment in a fallen world—in Melanie Jeschke's gifted hands, these are the ingredients for a great love story and, more importantly, a renewed and renewing celebration of God's grace and mercy.”

Dr. Bruce Edwards, C.S. Lewis Scholar and editor of Further Up & Further In: Understanding C.S. Lewis’s the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Patti J. Smith - New Release - "Behind The Smile: Overcoming Depression through Scripture and Prayer"

Behind our smiles are tears. We are the victims of depression. We are the ones who are fighting a war within ourselves – a war that consists of many battles on many fronts. Of those won, the losses always seem to eclipse the triumphs.

This book addresses the spiritual side of the battle by utilizing personalized scripture, to bring the reader into God's word with the goal of providing serenity and hope.

We can be victorious … through treatment, scripture and prayer.

The Amazon Kindle link for “Behind The Smile” is: http://www.amazon.com/Behind-Smile-Overcoming-Depression-Scripture-ebook/dp/B00LWKJ61Q/ref=la_B00FGT9ODY_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1406205400&sr=1-4

Patti J. Smith was born in Wimpole Park, England. She lived in England and Morocco as well as several state-side Air Force Bases and considers her father's last assignment, Moses Lake, Washington, her hometown. She audited for the Dept. of Labor and Veteran's Administration Offices of Inspector General, served in the U.S. Army Reserve (Transit Control Unit and Criminal Investigation Division) and recently retired as a background investigator.

Patti lives in Vista, CA with her husband and has three granddaughters. She serves as a Regional Coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, Co-leads Rachel's Hope After-Abortion Healing Retreats and sings in her parish choir.

Her writing includes devotionals, light romance and suspense, and her strong faith is reflected in each genre.

She is a prolific blogger and reader, and proudly admits to being a diehard Seattle Seahawks fan and Fantasy Football fanatic. Her travel adventures include Spain, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Fiji, South Korea and almost all states - including Hawaii and Alaska.

Follow her blog: http://www.gridirongrannyfootballfanatic.blogspot.com/
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/7306825.Patti_J_Smith
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gridirongranny5
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/giridirongranny
Pinterest: http://wwwpinterest.com/gridirongranny

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Lester Ray Tibbett, one of the characters in Tracy Krauss' fun filled romance series "Neighbors"!

Here is a fun interview with one of the characters from my series NEIGHBORS:

What is your full name?
Lester Ray Tibbett. My parents were country people - old fashioned, and they named their kids accordingly. My sister's name is Patsi Mae. She hates it and goes by Pat, but I don't mind so much. You can call me Lester, or Lester Ray - just don't call me late for supper.

Very funny. I take it you and your sister are close?
Yes. I've been her guardian for the last nine years since our parents died. She was only nine at the time. I took over both the farm and the responsibility of looking after her. I suppose you could say I'm more of a father figure than a brother.

That was quite a responsibility. Are you quite a bit older than she is?
I was twenty-three when my folks passed. You do the math.

So what brought a thirty-two year old boy from the country to the city of Calgary? (I did the math, as you can see...)
A combination of things. Bad debts (which I hate to admit) and old equipment, combined with several years of drought. Plus, Patsi finished school and it seemed like it was a good time to move so she could go to college.

What are you doing now that you've moved?
I got a job with a big construction company called 'Titan'. They're in the process of building a high rise downtown. It's new work for me, but I've always been pretty handy, and I learn fast. And you don't grow up on a farm without knowing how to work hard.

Speaking of growing up on a farm, I hear you are also quite the rodeo cowboy. Is that true?
I've done my share. I used to ride broncs, but after an injury I gave it up. There wasn't really any money in it for me and let's be honest - it's a dangerous sport. I still love watching, though, and I don't mind getting back in the saddle just for fun.

Where is your favourite place to hang out in Calgary?
I go to this pub downtown called the 'Urban Cowboy' a lot with my friend Jed Malloy. I don't drink much, but I like to play pool and it also has one of those old school mechanical bulls, which is a hoot.

Is there anyone special in your life?
You mean besides Jesus?

Is that a joke?
No. I'm a Christian and not ashamed to say it. If you mean a special woman, maybe, but that might be privileged information.
I see. If you did have a girlfriend, what kind of woman would she be?
Down to earth, I guess. I'm a pretty down to earth kind of guy myself. Not too pretentious and not too needy. And obviously she'd have to share my values.

Doesn't sound too difficult, but then again you are over thirty and still haven't found her. Do you think you're being too choosy?
Absolutely not. I've been busy looking after the farm and raising my sister. I just haven't had time for a serious relationship. Now that Patsi is grown, I'm starting to think more about my own needs for companionship. A life partner.
More than anything else, what do you want in life?
To be happy. To see my sister settled. That's about it. Like I said, I'm not a very complicated sort of guy.

Anything else you'd like to tell us about yourself?
That's about it, I guess. I'm not that comfortable talking about myself. I don't like being in the limelight. I just like to mind my own business and live a quiet life.

Thanks for this interview, Lester.
In fact, living a quiet life isn't really part of the equation for Lester. See how he deals with a rebellious sister, nosy neighbours, danger on the job site, and his attraction to a woman that probably wouldn't have made his 'must have' list... All in the continuing series NEIGHBORS.

The Amazon Kindle link for “Neighbors” is: http://www.amazon.com/Neighbors-New-Neighborhood-Tracy-Krauss-ebook/dp/B00IK6799Q/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1406150954&sr=1-4&keywords=tracy+krauss+neighbors