Posted in About the Author

Birthday Cake 2016

In celebration of my birthday this week, we’re going to look at birthday cakes! I’m also going to share one of my favorite dessert recipes with you.
Before the Lord led me to write full time, I had dreamed of owning a bakery. Now I only decorate wedding cakes and birthday cakes for my children. In last year’s birthday post I had shared some of my favorite cakes that I made for the kids over the years. I also shared one of my favorite cake recipes. It’s perfect for a potluck dinner…or really any dinner. Lol You can view it here.
Here are last years creations:

We had a Frozen summer when my youngest two requested a Queen Elsa and Olaf cake.

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My oldest two challenged me to a Nerf Gun cake and TMNT’s Shreddar cake. For the Shreddar cake, I blended it with a Minion and created a Shreddar Minion and made the birthday boy extremely happy. ūüôā¬†

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As a cake decorator, I’m often plotting and planning their next birthday cake immediately after their birthday. Interested to know what’s on the cake calendar this year?
My daughter is getting a Barbie and Ken cake. My youngest son is getting cupcakes in the shape of Mario. I’m not sure yet about the oldest two, but I’m looking at some sort of Dinosaur cake for Boy #2. We’re still brain storming cakes for my oldest son’s birthday.

This year’s birthday recipe is super easy! I originally planned to share one of my favorite cheesecake recipes, but when I pulled out my recipe book I ran across my Fruit Pizza recipe. I decided to share this one AND make one for myself this week. ūüôā I forget where the recipe came from. Kraft or Pillsbury most likely.

Fruit Pizza:
1 pkg. 20 oz. Sugar Cookie roll
1 8oz pkg cream cheese (soft)
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Fresh fruit

Spread cookie dough out evenly on a small/medium cookie sheet. Bake until lightly brown.
I always use a rectangle sheet but you could make it round on a pizza pan (as long as it doesn’t have holes) or bake individual cookies, but rectangle is the easiest.

Combine cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until blended. Spread over cooled cookie and top with fruit. Cut into squares or wedges pending on your shape.
Use whatever fruit you desire. We normally stick with strawberry and pineapple. The flavors are beautiful together.
Keep in the fridge if you’re not eating it right away.

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Posted in About the Author

Get to Know Me at a Glance

You can tell a lot about a person by the things they’re attracted to. One of the techniques authors often use in character development is creating a pin board for their character, so they can better understand the mind and personality of their character. The beauty of a pin board is that you can connect with the character in a single glance.

I browsed Pinterest and put together a pin board with the random things that caught my eye. So who I am? ūüôā What personality traits do you see based on my board?

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I’m romantic, vintage, and bubbly. I’m attracted to light and bright rooms, flowers, ruffles, and all things pink.

I want to learn more about you! What sort of things would make up your pin board?

 

Posted in About the Author

My Favorite Movie/TV Characters

I was challenged by a fellow blogger to list my 10 favorite characters from the endless supply of hit movies and tv shows. This challenge was much harder than I expected. It seems that simply choosing 10 favorite movies was much easier than choosing favorite characters. Choosing a character is somehow deeper. When my list outgrew 10, I decided to change the rules. As an author, I’m used to bending the rules when I see fit. ūüėČ So I’m simply sharing some of my all time favorite characters with you!

Do we share any favorites? I’d love to see a list of your favorite characters next. ūüôā

THE GOOD:

Baymax
If you’re one of those people wondering through life without having seen Big Hero 6, then I urge you to get this mattered settled as soon as possible. Lol Not only is this a fun, warm family movie, it also contains one of my favorite characters. Slide over, Olaf! There’s another cutie in the building! I was smitten with Baymax the moment I saw the first preview. There’s just something about his simplistic robotic style that makes him irresistible.

Princess Anna
I know the country seems to be under Queen Elsa’s spell, but I’m a Princess Anna fan. I love her bubbly personality. She’s so much fun and, like me, she’s prone to daydreaming.

Dorothy
Dorothy Gale is such a classic sweetheart. This was my favorite movie growing up and Dorothy, along with her cast of misfits, remain some of my favorite characters.

Samwise Gamgee
When it comes to good characters, there’s few quite as noble as Sam. And everyone knows that Frodo wouldn’t have gone far without Sam.

Austen’s Elinor and Anne
When it comes to good characters, one cannot leave out Austen’s good girls Elinor Dashwood and Anne Elliot. Both suffer great heartache with poise and dignity. With their patience and the ability to stay in control of their emotions, they are wonderful role models.

Ok, so, the video I picked for Elinor happens to be the moment when she’s the least in control of her emotions, but who could blame her?! Lol

THE BAD:

It’s been said that a good ¬†character is only as good as the villain is evil. The truth is, it’s the darkness that shows off the light. And sometimes a great movie can pull out a villain that just has it all together.

Wicked Witch of the West
If you’re gonna go bad, ¬†you might as well be cool about it and let’s face it, The Wicked Witch of the West is the coolest. She has the best lines in the entire movie. ūüôā

Rumpelstiltskin
But if you can’t be cool, then it’s best to be quirky. Shrek’s Rumpelstiltskin is the strangest villain I’ve seen yet.

Grinch
And if you can pull off being both quirky and cool at the same time, then you need your own theme song! The Grinch has a way of making my heart grow two sizes too big.

THE CLASSIC:

Cinderella
Not only is the Disney’s Cinderella my all time favorite princess, but this classic character has been redone more times than I can count and I’ve yet to find a version that I didn’t love. There’s just something about the humble underdog that pulls at my heartstrings.

Scrooge
Scrooge, like Cinderella, has been remade time and time again and yet they always seem to get it right. I love his crusty character, but more than that, I love to see him evolve.

THE UNDERDOG:

Aladdin and Gus Pike
We’ve already mentioned the underdog once so let’s look at that category again. Aladdin and Gus Pike from Disney’s Avonlea have a great deal in common and both have stolen my heart from the very beginning. Both are orphaned young men. While their background hints to a rough start, these men are noble and carrying.

THE HILARIOUS:

Barney Fife and Ernest T Bass
Lol Need I say more.

Festus Haggen
Again, no words are necessary. When you’re good, you’re good. Lol

THE COOL:

Stephanie Zinone
I know that most of the country has embraced Grease while rejecting Grease 2, but for those of us that are awesome enough to see the value in Grease 2 we know that it doesn’t get any cooler than Stephanie Zinone.

Ben Matlock
What’s cooler than on old southern man in a gray suit solving mysteries and eating hotdogs? Nothing.

Charlie Pace
Lost was a goldmine for cool characters, but my favorite from the very beginning was Charlie. Maybe it was because he was a former hobbit. Or maybe it was the catchy tune. Or the imaginary peanut butter. Whatever it was, Charlie was the coolest in my book.

THE REPENTANT:

Edward and Eustice from the Chronicles¬†of Narnia. At the beginning of their tales, both of these characters are among the most hated. Edward was a traitor and Eustice was self-absorbed. But in the end both have a complete turnaround. They even go on to be the types of characters that show the greatest faith and you’d have to imagine it’s because they’ve come the farthest.

Posted in About the Author, Christian

My Testimony

2050_1231spring20140059I want to share my personal testimony with you today. If you’re willing to share your testimony with me, I’d love to hear it. You can email it or post it publically. If you have any questions, I’d love to talk with you. Again, feel free to email me!

I attended a church program when I was seventeen. At the end of that program, I believed that God was dealing with my heart so I walked down the aisle, spoke with someone, and prayed a prayer.

But that’s it.

I left there feeling excited over the choice I had made that night, but that excitement never carried over into the rest of my life. Over the next five years, I would continue living life my way. I made no efforts to attend church after that night and felt no need to be baptized. I continued life with my filthy mouth, wicked thoughts, and sexual sins. I knew these actions were wrong, but it didn’t bother me enough to quit. I can remember my aunt trying to talk some sense into me. She tried to tell me that a Christian couldn’t continue in their sin like I was doing, but I believed that I knew better. “You don’t know my heart,” is what I would tell her. And it’s true, she couldn’t see my heart, but she could see my fruit…or lack thereof.

Better still, God could see my heart and He knew all too well that I was continuing in a life of rebellion, all while claiming that I was saved.

Five years later, I noticed a great stirring in my heart. I longed for the things of God and in time, He would lead me to a church. I began faithfully attending this church, all while trying to hold tightly to my sins. I would attend almost every Sunday, but my life had yet to change.

My pastor was preaching through Romans during this time and it seemed like every single sermon held the same theme, “No Change = No Salvation.” I’m near positive that he said those same words in every sermon at some point, or at least that’s what the Holy Spirit was bringing to my attention.

During this time, I began to doubt my salvation. I remembered the feeling that I had that night when I was seventeen and I walked down the aisle and when I prayed. I remember the excitement. I remember the jitters. But I never remembered forsaking my sin and myself. I don’t recall a day after that when I would purposely choose God’s ways over my own. No change = no salvation. These words echoed through my mind so often. And it would be these words that would be the theme of my testimony. One night, while listening to the latest sermon from Romans, I finally admitted the truth: I had never changed, therefore I’m not saved and will go to hell. I had finally come to grips with the truth and would finally turn my whole life over to Him.

After this moment in my life, I could see a serious change taking place. It didn’t happen all at once, although there were some things that did fall off at the moment of conversion. ¬†For the most part, I would be growing in stages. This is something the Bible calls, sanctification. Sanctification is a life long process. The thing about being saved is that you WILL go through sanctification. After only a few months, I could see a change taking place. ¬†A few months later, even more change. ¬†Every so often when I would stop and look back over my life, it wasn’t hard to find evidence of the changes that were taking place.

How could I change? Because Christ now lived in me, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and be careful to keep My laws.” It’s the strangest thing, but the things that I used to love, I was growing to hate, and the things that I had once hated, I was growing to love. It was impossible for me to hate my sin while I lived in darkness, just like it was impossible for me to have the Spirit of God living inside of me and not change into His image. Although I have come a long way in my walk, I feel that I must clarify that I do and can still sin. But when I do, I no longer love it. When I sin, it literally grieves the Spirit within me. To put it plainly, it feels dirty; it feels wrong. Remember, sanctification is a life-long process. No one will reach the end until they reach Heaven.

A few years later, the devil would attack my assurance. He would begin to plant doubts in my mind. You see, most Christians can tell you exactly when they were saved. Many know the date, time, place, and some can even remember what they wore. But I knew none of these things. There were several moments of brokenness and sincere prayer, so ¬†I’m not sure which one was the “one.” For about two years, I would struggle and doubt. And I can tell you honestly that it was the most miserable time in my life.

One Sunday during the altar call, a member of our church came forward and announced that she needed to be saved. She had believed herself a Christian all this time but knew something was off. At that moment, I had the courage I needed to come forward and announce that I had doubts and I was ready to get this settled. I came forward and was counseled by two ladies from our church. They both did a wonderful job trying to help me see, but it was something that I would have to continue to wrestle with on my own. For the next 36 hours, there was a great battle raging inside of me.

I began by searching my life for fruit. What proof did I have of being saved? I searched long and hard. I knew that the most common ideas of Spiritual fruit were actually works. Things like church attendance, tithing, and service. I could claim all of those things and I believe the scriptures teach that each Christian should be growing in these areas, but I also knew that these works could be faked, so I didn’t dwell there. I searched deeper, looking at things like¬†repentance, conviction, and growth in the areas that other people could not see.
When I had a sinful thought, did I feel conviction?
Was I willing to repent of the tough stuff, even when no one else would know that I was involved in such sins?
Did I grow in the deeper, more hidden areas of my life?
I walked away confused, because I had such strong doubts and yet as far as I could tell, I passed the test. I knew that if I were to plead my case to any person, I would be able to convince them that I was in fact saved. But I didn’t want to convince someone else, and I didn’t need another person to confirm me. I wanted God Himself to confirm once and for all that I was His. My prayer at the end of the night was simply this: Lord confirm me. I felt like Jacob in that hour, clinging to His robe crying out, “Either confirm that I’m Yours or save me! But I’m not leaving until You do one of them!” Jacob, too, refused to let go until God blessed him.

The next morning, I felt led to pick up a book that my pastor wrote titled, Genuine Conversion. In this simple booklet he breaks down what it means, or rather what it looks like, to be saved. He compares what the Scriptures actually teach with what common belief says. It’s a simple read which lists what conversion DOES NOT look like compared to what it DOES look like based on the Bible. ¬†In the end, he included a quiz to help the reader understand what kinds of fruit are growing on the limbs of their trees. I went through this same book that morning and there were two things that seemed to be repeated on every page.

1: Matthew 7:17-20 A bad tree can not produce good fruit

2:1 John 2:3-6¬†I can KNOW once and for all that I’m saved and never doubt again.

First, the verse Matthew 7:17-20: “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.¬†A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor¬†can¬†a bad tree bear good fruit.¬†Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.¬†Therefore by their fruits you will know them”¬†This verse appeared so often in the short book that it became all the more clear. Not only can you know if you are saved by the fruit on your tree, but a bad tree (which I assumed that I was, till proven saved) cannot produce good fruit, just like a good tree can not produce bad fruit. I searched and searched. I took the quiz. ¬†I begged God to show me my own heart and I was finding ample proof from all around that I was saved.

Second, First John 2:3-6: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.¬†He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.¬†But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.¬†He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”¬†This verse came in and helped me to see that I can know the truth about my salvation. That God actually wants me to know. It’s not His way for believers to doubt. I walked away that morning understanding that I was saved. But this would not be the end of Satan’s attack. He had one last ploy.

Now that I was certain of my salvation, Satan then tried to keep me quiet about it. By twisting Scripture, he reminded me that “pride goes before a fall” and it would be best for me to enjoy my salvation, but just don’t tell anyone else about it. His reasoning was that if I stood up and announced that I had security, what if these doubts resurfaced further down the road and I was proven wrong next time? How embarrassing would that be?! I had to admit, he had a point. And being my enemy, he knew my weakness was my pride. I didn’t want to tell everyone what I had discovered, only to be wrong and have to renounce it. I stood in my bathroom and prayed, “What if these doubts come back? What will prove me next time?” I felt the Spirit speaking to my heart saying, “The same thing that proved you today will prove you tomorrow.” And at that moment Satan’s hold on me was finally shattered.

I cannot tell you the amount of peace that flooded my heart from this moment on. I know I’m saved, not because I can remember the moment I prayed a prayer, but because I have ample proof of being sanctified every day since then. I don’t remember the day I was justified, but I have intimate memories of being sanctified, and, therefore, I can KNOW that I will one day be glorified. The devil doesn’t sanctify and God doesn’t change a person before He saves them.¬†God proved my relationship with Him was real by reminding me of all the changes He had made in my life. ¬†He doesn’t¬†work out of order. ¬†First he justifies, then He sanctifies, and later He will¬†glorify!¬†Satan’s attempts to keep me quiet about my testimony only showed me how powerful my testimony really was. I love to share it now!

If you have any questions or comments, you can email me privately or chat with me below.
If you are interested in getting a copy of the Genuine Conversion book that I read through (which I highly recommend), please don’t hesitate to ask. I would love to send you a copy free of charge!

Posted in About the Book

Walk the Streets of Maple Grove

For those that don’t know, Maple Grove, the fictional town from my Ancient Words Series, is based on a real town — my hometown: Wartrace, Tennessee.

Wartrace, like so many other quaint towns, have a history all its own that is unique and special to those that call it home.

Borrowed from the Chamber of Commerce page:
Wartrace has been described as the “little town where time stands still”. That’s probably because our small village, nestled in the gently¬†rolling hills of south central Tennessee, hasn’t changed much since¬†our Grandparents were kids. It’s hidden away from the hustle and¬†bustle of the city and suburbs, amid scenic Walking Horse farms,¬†and yet is only an hour’s drive from Nashville, Chattanooga and¬†Huntsville.
Yes, we may be off the beaten path but Wartrace is the¬†home of internationally renowned hand-crafted guitars, a world-class live music venue and destination hotel, a 32-year-old ultra-¬†marathon that attracts runners from around the world, the oldest¬†one-night horse show in Tennessee and the popular Wartrace¬†MusicFest, held the first weekend in June.¬†We’re proud of our collection of stately historic homes and¬†commercial buildings, some built before the civil war. Our entire¬†downtown and most of the residential district is on the National¬†Register of Historic Places.
Since it’s founding in 1853 Wartrace has been host to the oldest¬†¬†railroad line in the state, lived through the skirmishes and¬†encampments of the Tullahoma Campaign, and is still proud to be¬†the birthplace of the world famous Tennessee Walking Horse.

But I want to share some areas of the town that inspired the story that you’re reading. A friend of mine, after reading Where Can I Flee, asked me where Maple Grove was. She wanted to walk down Vine Street. She wanted to experience this special place. For those that have walked through Wartrace and for those that never will, allow me to take you there today. These are the places that I saw in my mind as I wrote key scenes in the town of Maple Grove.


2015_0725Endures0739I’ve learned that it’s much easier to pretend to be knowledgeable about a subject if you are, in fact, knowledgeable in it. Early in my writing, I deemed it best to map out the fictional town. Because my feeble brain couldn’t think of how to create a map outside of a grid method, I decided to pull up the real map of Wartrace and sketch out a likeness of it. I cut a few curves or left off a road where I saw fit, but it gave me the groundwork that I needed to envision the fictional town that would carry an entire series. And then I changed the names of all the roads. All except one: Vine Street. I left Vine Street’s name intact to give myself an anchor or a home base, if you will. All the other names are fictional. For those that are curious, I placed the Harper home on Yell Drive East (fictionally named, Woodland Hills). I gave a nod to our town’s history by renaming the road in front of the Walking Horse Hotel to Horseshoe Lane.


2015_0725Endures0743The Walking Horse Hotel is the large brick building in the background. But look, the railroad is still in use here.


2015_0725Endures0745¬†I’m not sure who owns this building now, or whether those charming gas pumps actually work, but I have a host of childhood memories here and it’s a vital location in the series. This is the location of the Chandler’s General Store. I altered much of the building to suit mine, or rather the Chandlers’ needs, but I also kept some key characteristics the same. The Chandler’s store is a three-story white-washed building¬†while this one is only one story. But I kept the L-shaped ¬†feature in the story. I imagined this portion of the building that is jutting out toward the road to be the storage room. There’s a lower level storage room in this area as well as a winding staircase leading to the apartment.
When I was a child, this was Bob’s Hardware and it was owned by Bob and Anna Keele whose entire family were close friends with mine. My mom worked with Bob and Anna’s three children up the road a bit. After school, my brother and I often road the bus here with Anna’s grandchildren. She ran the store and watched us until our parents got off from work. We often played behind the building in the grass yard and creek. I kept the creek in the novel and named it Lower Creek.


2015_0725Endures0746This is where I imagined the hotel in Maple Grove. The hotel isn’t mentioned often, but it’s most recognized in the “Carrot” scene. Claire crosses the street from the blacksmith’s shop to the general store when a group of cavalrymen circle around the hotel on their way back from washing in the creek. I imagine the blacksmith’s shop to be directly across from the general store, where, in fact, a yellow brick building sits with no real blacksmith charms to it at all. ūüėČ But at least now you know where I positioned it.


2015_0725Endures0747Another often mentioned location in the series: Hilltop Lane. Hilltop Ln is described as a steep hill, and while this picture doesn’t do it justice, my imagination did purposely give this real location an even steeper incline. The sign on your left¬†is the same Vine St. sign that I shared with you earlier. The yellow brick to our left is the ¬†location of the blacksmith, and the Chandler’s General store sits to the right, although it’s not pictured here. But at the top of this hill, right before you get to that sharp curve is where I positioned the church that their families attend, rightly named Hilltop Baptist Church. The top of this hill is also the location where Claire was almost trampled by a band of cavalrymen riding around the corner there. Most readers will remember this very well. Several scenes mention the families walking or riding from the church to the Chandler’s store for a meal on Sundays.


I hope you enjoyed taking a look at the real town that inspired Maple Grove. You can learn more about the history behind my series in the following blog posts:  Humble Beginnings,  When God Intervenes, Happy Birthday, Ancient Words Series, and Local Inspiration. 

Posted in About the Author, Christian

Bible Chat!

2050_1231spring20140583¬†Pull out your Bible and let’s chat!¬†

I’m going to answer a few simple questions this morning about my personal Bible and I hope you’ll do the same. I have a feeling we’ll learn a lot about one another just by comparing Bibles. ūüôā¬†

What translation do you study from the most?

My aunt bought me a NIV Study Bible after I was saved, so it’s my go-to translation. I’ve recently began studying multiple translations side by side. My four favorites to parallel are the NKJV, Holman, NIV, and Amplified.

What is your all time favorite Bible verse?

Proverbs 4:14, 15, 27 “Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way…Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

Close your Bible and look at the pages. You’re likely to see a dirty ring somewhere along the edge of the paper. What book does the dirt ring circle? FYI, that’s your most read book in that Bible. ūüėČ

I have a dirt ring around Matthew since we’ve studied it for so long in church and another ring around the Psalms and Proverbs.

The dirt ring is pretty telling, but just in case you’ve read more on your Kindle lately, what are your favorite books of the Bible?

Proverbs tops the list for me, but I also really love to study Jeremiah, Romans, and James.

Pen, Pencil, or Highlighter? Do you mark up your Bible? If so, what do you use, and what methods do you have for marking in your Bible?

I’m a simple gal. I only use a pink highlighter to mark my favorite verses. I don’t take any notes in my Bible, but I do keep a study journal.

Posted in About the Book

Cover Search: His Love Endures Forever

It’s finally time to select the cover for His Love Endures Forever!! This is a special cover search for me since it was the original novel, and the one that I’ve envisioned for 3 whole years now. The photo shoot was a bigger success than I had imagined. I spent the morning on Valley Home Farm in Wartrace, Tennessee with this lovely red-head, Tiffany Hutchings. We had a few laughs, enjoyed the hospitality of a warm family, and snapped over 200 photos.

As before, I have a selection of amazing photos to choose from, but I’m asking for your help. Here’s how this works:
Simply, comment either here on the blog or on the Facebook link with your top 3 picks. Please let me know WHY you are choosing them. It helps me to see things differently when I know why you were drawn to a specific photo. But the fun doesn’t end there!
Once I’m comfortable narrowing down the options, I’ll pull together the photos with the most potential and add the cover art. I’ll then share the new set of photos for your votes. Cover searches tend to move quickly so you’ll want to stay tuned. I don’t have a set time frame that I work in. I’ll share the official cover here on the blog on August 3rd.
Please remember, that at the end of the day, I will have to make the final decision. While your votes weigh heavily on my decision, I DO NOT choose a cover based on popular vote alone.

*Note, you’ll find an ADS sign in several of these pictures. Don’t let that little sign throw you off. We’ll crop it out if the picture is chosen. ūüėČ

**All images are under copyright. No stealing!!

Standing 1, 2, and 3

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Reading 1, 2, and 3

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Looking Up 1, 2, and 3

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Allie 1, 2, and 3

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Tree 1, 2, and 3

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Tree 4 and 5

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Posted in About the Author, About the Book

Happy 3rd Birthday, Ancient Words Series!!

166I’m celebrating the birthday of a beloved series this week with a giveaway! I hope you’ll join me!¬†

First, I want to clue you in on something you may have never known before. Bringing a book to publication and childbirth have a lot in common. After giving birth to 4 children and 1 1/2 novels, I can speak with experience. Let me explain:

In the beginning, there’s the excitement of the story to come. The thrill of making plans and dreaming of what it’ll look like in the end. The baby name books come back out, and you’re on the search for the perfect name. Only this time, you don’t have to get your husband to agree with it! ūüėČ Then you move on to the long wait. Carrying a child for 9 months is no easy task, and neither is walking around with an entire novel in your brain…and your heart! And just when you think the baby will never come, your labor pains begin! Labor pains…as in editing!! But eventually these too must come to an end, and you’re left to hold your sweet baby in your arms. Is there any prouder moment? I remember the first time I printed WCIF off and was able to touch it for the first time. It’s a sweet moment, but as with any birth, the private moment will come to an end, and you’re ready to show your baby with the whole world. The excitement, anticipation, sweat, tears, and joy. Bringing a novel through to publication is a lot like giving birth.

The birth date of the Ancient Words Series is July 3rd, 2012. So this year, I celebrate 3 years since my world turned upside down. I’ve shared several behind the scenes moments with you in a few blog posts in the past. A quick recap: Ancient Words started out as a stand alone novel. You can read about the difficulties I faced when God changed my best-laid plans in the previous posts: Humble Beginnings and When God Intervenes.

Random Facts About the Series:

* The earliest ideas for the series was birthed from the hypothetical question: What story would I write if I wrote something for the series, Love Finds You In..?

* The story line was in development for about a year before the pieces fell into place.

* I was driving from Unionville to Normandy for a July 4th celebration when the idea was conceived.

*I spent the evening eating dinner and watching fireworks with my family on the Arrowhead Ranch while the story burned and festered inside of me.

* The picture for Where Can I Flee was taken on Arrowhead Ranch.

* Ancient Words Series was named after the song, Ancient Words. The meaning of the song was a perfect fit for the series.

* The original novel, Ancient Words, now titled His Love Endures Forever, is about a teenage girl that finds a stack of letters written during the Civil War. But these letters contain more than history, they contain the gospel. In His Love Endures Forever, we’ll see how God uses the message penned by Claire Harper in Allie’s life 150 years later.

* His Love Endures Forever was almost a complete draft when sweet Allie took a step back so the Harpers could first tell their story in not one, but THREE novels: Where Can I Flee, In the Shadow of Thy Wings, and Out of the Ashes.

* “Ancient Words Series” is printed in red to symbolize the red printed words of Jesus in the gospels.

* Cover models for Where Can I Flee and Katherine’s Good News are husband and wife.

* Never Once became my theme song while I worked on the series. When I started this venture, I understood that I wasn’t capable of the task before me. God has amazed me over the last 3 years as He showed off His amazing power while using someone so feeble. I plan to share personal details about this area sometime in the future.

Here’s a look at the lineup as it stands today. *The covers are still missing for books 3 and 4, Out of the Ashes and His Love Endures Forever. You can read more about my summer plans concerning those covers here. :

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Giveaway Details:

It’s exciting to see this small idea spring to life and grow into a five book series. Three years later and I still remember the series that sparked the idea. Ancient Words not only was inspired by one of my favorite Christian Fiction Series, but it’s also inspired by local history. ¬†You can read more about the inspiration behind my series here.
To celebrate the moment, I want to share one of my favorite books from the Love Finds You In Series!

I recommend that you add all of these books to your reading list, but I’ll give away 1 book to 1 lucky winner this week!

And it’s Winner’s Choice! 1 lucky winner will choose between the 6 books listed below in their favorite format: Kindle Ebook or Paperback (Paperback is gently used).

Here’s How to Enter:¬†

1 Entry for Following my Facebook Page
2 Entries for Following my Weekly Blog
1 Entry Every Time you Share the Giveaway Link

To gain entries: simply like, follow, and/or share THEN let me know about it. You can reply to this blog post OR my Facebook link.
*Please make sure you follow through and confirm the blog follow when they email you. Your entry will NOT count if your email isn’t on my follower’s list.
**Once I reply or like your comment, you can rest assured that your entries are in my bowl.
***You can share the giveaway link on as many social media sites as you desire. You can also share it daily. Every share counts as a separate entry.

GIVEAWAY CLOSES JULY 3RD AT MIDNIGHT. WINNER TO BE ANNOUNCED HERE ON THE BLOG SATURDAY MORNING.

Prize Options:

*The links below will take you to the Amazon page where you can read a full book description.

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Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland by Roseanna White

Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana by Melanie Dobson

Love Finds You in Bethleham, New Hampshire by Lauralee Bliss

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Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon by Miralee Ferrell

Love Finds You in Wildrose, North Dakota by Tracey Bateman

Love Finds  You in Tombstone, Arizona by Miralee Ferrell

And last but not least, some randomly useless facts…or memories that I have with this series:

Bridal Veil, Oregon was one of the first, if not the first, book that I read from this series, and it remains one of my favorites to this day.

Through this series, I met and became fans of Miralee Ferrell and Melanie Dobson, among others. However, these authors stand out because they both have multiple books in this series alone, and I’ve yet to read one that I didn’t LOVE. Seriously, this list is a very small sample of the great books this series has to offer.

Wildrose, North Dakota was the first book I read on my Kindle.

I read Bethlehem, New Hampshire three years ago while I was recovering from a tonsillectomy.

There was a very small, yet specific, detail in Liberty, Indiana that actually inspired part of the story line for my second novel, In the Shadow of Thy Wings.

Posted in About the Author, About the Book, Christian

When God Intervenes

64Last week I shared the story behind my novel, Where Can I Flee. If you missed it, you can catch the full story here. For the sake of a quick recap, I’ll tell you simply that I hadn’t planned to write the story at all. And when I did decide to write it, WCIF was meant to be a short story.

But God clearly had other plans for me. I don’t want to go into the details behind the story line, but I do want to show you more of what went on internally as I struggled to determine and follow God’s plan. Before you can understand the struggle, you have to understand “The Plan.”

When I first developed the novel, Ancient Words, I was so on fire about the project that I seriously thought I could finish writing the entire novel in 2 months. It seems laughable now as I look back now.

There’s something amazing that happens in the mind of an author. I could see the ending as clearly as I could see the beginning. I could hear the characters’ voices as they played out the last chapters just as well as I could hear them in their opening lines¬†and several scenes in between. At that point, the ending seemed so close.

Boy, was I in for a surprise! When I started writing the novel word by word, line by line, chapter by chapter, I learned that the ending was anything but close. The more I wrote, ¬†the more I realized I didn’t know what I was writing about, so I researched more. Pulling double duty for months, I wrote and researched side by side. Along the way, I picked up three short stories and was working all four story lines at the same time. Then the most unexpected thing happened.

When I was nine months into the story, my novel was about ¬†2/3 ¬†completed, the short story Where Can I Flee was a complete draft, the short story Katherine’s Good News was a complete draft, and the short story In the Shadow of ¬†Thy Wings was only a couple scenes away from completion. The ending was finally in sight…that is, until God intervened.

I’ll never forget the moment I was sitting at the kitchen table of one of my closest friends discussing my book. I was growing concerned because In the Shadow of Thy Wings was quickly outgrowing itself and it may not fit so nicely after a full sized novel. She suggested separating them, but that hadn’t been my plan. I wasn’t too fond of changing things now when I was so close to having a finished draft. After all, I was already seven months behind my own expectations. As I mulled over these ideas, she worked on loading the dishwasher. Then she paused to asked, “I wonder if there isn’t enough story there to make a novel out of it instead of a short story?”

I’ll be honest, I didn’t jump out of my seat, clapping my hands. I didn’t reach for paper and frantically start plotting out my new idea. And I, CERTAINLY, didn’t hug her neck and tell her she was a genius. Lol Although, I would do it now. But I couldn’t that day. I couldn’t even breath that day. I stared at her with wide eyes and if I moved at all, it was only to shake my head. Didn’t she understand what my plans were? Ancient Words was a stand-alone novel….aside from the growing short stories that now trailed it. I had other books that I longed to write. I couldn’t do what she was suggesting. It wasn’t part of the plan. I liked my plan. I could possibly publish by the end of the year with my plan. I didn’t want a new plan. I suddenly didn’t feel very good.

Once the idea was planted, I couldn’t toss it aside. Oh, I wanted to. But I couldn’t. When God stands behind a plan, you can’t set it aside so easily. The unrest that followed was extreme as I wrestled with the idea of starting over. There’s something amazing about giving into God’s plans for you. Even with the large amounts of uncertainties, insecurities, and anxieties there’s a strange peace that begins to take over. It’s hard to explain. At that moment, I literally signed on to face my fears, my doubts, my discomfort, the crashing of my well laid plans, and countless months…better yet, YEARS, of work, and yet there was a peace that trumped it all. Even when my world was tilting, I knew I was safe. Even with the odds stacked against me, I knew I had chosen right.

In April of 2013, I committed to following God’s plan for my life and I set aside an almost complete draft to start over. I signed on to over two more years of work before I would pick up the original draft. But God had even more surprises in store for me.

While I was setting aside the original Ancient Words and focusing on Where Can I Flee as a novel, I decided to release Katherine’s Good News as a novella first. This short story was already written and would be the perfect way to begin gathering a fan base while I worked on the new novel. I had my heart set on publishing that year and with the novella, I would be able to. This sounded like a great plan to everyone I share it with, but God had something greater in mind.

Over the next eight or nine months, Katherine’s Good News would bounce back and forth from editor to editor, from reviewer to reviewer. I would receive their feedback, improve the story and send it back out. But every time it came back with the comment, “Give me more.” I kept pouring more and more into the story until finally someone kindly suggested, “If you wanted to make this story a novel instead, I think you have the groundwork for it, and I think you would be able to develop the story the way it really needs to be.”

Again? Doesn’t anyone understand the plan? I didn’t want another novel. After another internal struggle, I recognized God’s hand in this plan and gave in a little quicker. Katherine’s Good News is now in line as a novel. So now my Ancient Words Series has four novels, two during the civil war and two in a modern generation.

Now that In the Shadow of Thy Wings is bouncing back and forth between myself and a group of reviewers, I have a little time on my hands to begin working on book three. FINALLY, I can pick up the original story and finish it off. Or so I thought.

One of the first reviewers to respond to In the Shadow of Thy Wings left me this comment, “I think you should really pray about writing one more civil war novel before moving on. I just don’t think you’re done here.” Lol I can laugh now, but I promise I wasn’t laughing then. Hyperventilating was more like it. I can’t add another book to this already large series. I have plans! Good plans! I don’t want to change my plans!

I left my seat as if it was on fire and put the tea kettle on the stove. While I stood over the stove waiting for that infamous whistle, I recognized something. I was beginning to understand what it felt like when God stood behind the idea. This time, I didn’t hesitate, but snatched a piece of paper and started frantically plotting the next novel. The same dear friend that God used to throw the wrench in my plans was ready to talk it over with me on the phone. In a matter of hours, a new novel was added to the Ancient Words Series. And what I once thought was the destruction of my plans turned out to be the greatest plan of all.

To this day, Where Can I Flee endears itself to those that read it. This story is my heart in so many ways, I couldn’t imagine debuting with any other novel. So it is with great excitement that I bring to my readers a third book, one that will wrap things up for our friends in Maple Grove in a really special way.

Where Can I Flee covers the first two years of the Civil War with its sister novel, In the Shadow of Thy Wings, covering the last two years of war. This summer I begin writing the novel that will immediately follow the war and will show our friends picking up the pieces after a four-year-long war. I’ve titled it, OUT OF THE ASHES.

I had already begun sharing details about His Love Endures Forever before God changed my course. I plan, Lord willing, to release the original novel in a couple years as book four of the series. Since I was already working on the photo shoot for the novel, I intend to take pictures for both the 2016 and 2017 release this summer.

Stay tuned for more details on 2016’s release, Out of the Ashes.

Posted in About the Book

Humble Beginnings

3Would it shock you to know that Where Can I Flee was an afterthought? More than an afterthought, it was meant to play second fiddle.

On July 3, 2012 a story was born. It always amazes me at how random those moments are. I wasn’t expecting anything special to happen that day. I’ve tinkered with this particular story line for nearly a year, and I certainly didn’t expect to suddenly have all the pieces fall into place. But that’s what happened…or so I thought.

On July 5th, I laid aside a series I had been tinkering with and began something completely different. The transition was a difficult one for me, but that’s a story for another day. Jumping in with both feet, I began researching and writing a novel that I titled, Ancient Words.

Ancient Words is about seventeen-year-old Allie Redman who moves into an old home and finds a stack of letters written during the Civil War. As she reads the letters, her own story unfolds.

I began to fall in love with the Harper family as I told their story through letters. But that was the problem, their story was only told through the letters. Small snatches and snippets of their lives were revealed, but the greater part was held back. It had to be. There’s only so much you can say in a letter, after all.

In my personal reading time, I was reading through a collection of short stories written by Lucy Maud Montgomery when an author’s favorite question, “What if?” began to pull at me. What if I tried my hand at short stories? What could I write about?

I kept pushing the thought away. I was knee deep in my new novel and didn’t have time for distractions. Besides, I honestly couldn’t think outside the novel at the time.

I’ll never forget the morning I was cooking oatmeal at the stove when the “What if’s” began pulling at me again. What if I didn’t need a new story¬†but told the same story in a new way? Immediately, my mind zoomed in on one of the lines I wrote for Claire’s letter. The original line is no longer in the novel, but it spoke of Olen’s bitterness toward God and his recent surrender to this same God. Such a simple line told a story all its own. And a powerful one too. What if I zoomed in and wrote a short story centered on Olen’s conversion?

Immediately following that idea, came another. Inspired by a second glance, came a love story of redemption featuring Allie’s best friend, Katherine.

And just like that, Where Can I Flee and Katherine’s Good News was born. As I sat down with my oatmeal, story possibilities and plot lines began to roll around in my mind. In time, it would become apparent that Sally Chandler would need a feature story all her own, and In the Shadow of Thy Wings would grow from that idea.

I now had 1 novel and 3 short stories. The plan, at that time, was to publish the novel but tack on the short stories for bonus reading material. It would be a way to give the readers what they always want at the end of a good book: a way to keep the story going.

Then the unexpected happened. The short stories outgrew themselves. Nine months after I began the Ancient Words novel, the story took a drastic change. After a very stressful 24 hours, I put a halt on the original novel and started over. This time with Where Can I Flee as the first novel of the Ancient Words Series. Overnight, both Where Can I Flee and In the Shadow of Thy Wings were upgraded to novels, and Katherine’s Good News would follow their example a year later.

The opening scene of Where Can I Flee is 100% original to the short story. Several of the early scenes featuring Olen’s conversion are also, in part, original to the short story. Several scenes from the upcoming release, In the Shadow of Thy Wings, are also original to the short story version.

Allie’s story is now titled His Love Endures Forever¬†since I decided to use Ancient Words as the series title. The other novels kept their short story titles.

I pulled up the original files to compare.

Where Can I Flee short story: 7,647 words and 14 computer pages long

The novel sits at: 118,269 words and 215 computer pages long

In the Shadow of Thy Wings was never a very short story. Originally it had: 42,619 words and 65 computer pages

The novel is still growing in its editing process, but today is sitting at: 152,114 words and 272 computer pages.

Talk about humble beginnings!!

However, this would not be the last time that God changed my plans. Just recently, He intervened again, and the Ancient Words Series added a new novel to its lineup. Out of the Ashes now sits as book three and concludes the Civil War generation.

If you’re still looking for your copy of¬†Where Can I Flee, you’ll find it on Amazon.¬†