Posted in Christian

The Silent Servant

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There are two things I want to do in this blog today. I want to talk to you about the overlooked areas of service. And then I want to open up and share something from my personal writing journey that most readers wouldn’t know about. I hope you’ll walk away feeling encouraged about your own place of service and enlightened about the life of a common author.

Let’s start by establishing the fact that each individual is gifted, crafted, and designed to perform a different task. Are some jobs worth more than others? Is a doctor’s efforts worth more than a janitor’s? Is the teacher’s job more important than the factory worker’s? Is the police officer’s service more meaningful than the mailman’s?

That all depends on who it is you’re working for.

The Bible tells us that we are to work not unto man but unto God. Everything we do, we’re to do it for Him. For His glory. For His purposes. For His kingdom.
You see, it’s not our work or society’s ideals that determine the value of our labor. It’s unto Who we’re doing it for. Anything done for the Lord is important and of GREAT value.

I love the book of Nehemiah and the image of service God offers through it. The people were rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. This was no small task! Worse than that, they were threatened by their enemies. So much so that half of the men worked while the other half stood guard. What an image! We need people working with us and also people standing behind us, covering our backs with prayers.
But there’s more. The people were assigned a specific section of the wall to rebuild. I hope you noted that word, specific. They didn’t rebuild their favorite sections. They didn’t get bored with their section and work on someone else’s. They worked on the section assigned to them. AND their work was recorded. NONE of it went unnoticed. Not only do we have a record of it preserved in our Bible but God, Himself, has noted everything done in His name and is waiting to reward His faithful servants.

So I come to you today to remind you to do your work cheerfully, not despising the small stuff, because when it’s done for Christ it has great value.

And now I want to tear down that wall between author and reader and allow you to peek inside and take notice of something that you may not have known.

As an author, I’m expected to do one thing: Publish books. And yet I wasn’t able to publish anything in 2016. It wasn’t from a lack of wanting to, or from a lack of story, or any other such thing. I didn’t publish anything in 2016 because the Lord wouldn’t allow it. For reasons only known to Him I was delayed, sick, overwhelmed, and just unable to do all that my little heart desired to do. And yet…I’ve been busy. Much busier than even I knew. While I continued to work on my own manuscript, God enabled me to keep up with a different sort of work on the side. The work of a silent servant. Publication is one of those rare moments when you’re ushered into the limelight. But this work kept me hidden away, which was perfectly fine with me. Despite what this may sound like, I’m not sharing this with you so I can step back into the limelight. I really think it’ll bless your heart to know that there’s so much more going on behind the scenes of your favorite books.

While I didn’t publish anything in 2016, I spent countless hours with other authors. I spent time encouraging them, fellowshipping with them in ways that only another author can do, and even helping them.
My fans are wondering where my next book is, but did you know that I’ve had my hands in FIVE different publications in 2016 alone? I joined critique teams for other authors and offered them sound advice and loving encouragement for their work. While their stories are uniquely their own and their writing styles differ from mine, the same me-ness that marks my pages reached out and touched a few others.
I love to help another author strengthen their work. I love to come along side them as they sweat through the writing process and offer them a cool drink of water and a pat on the back.

As I reflected on my writing year, I was surprised to see that while I didn’t put out anything with my name on it in 2016, the fruit of my labors had gone out. These books are challenging and encouraging readers as we speak. I’m grateful to the Lord and the beloved authors for allowing me to take part in it. And may my experience remind you that the small things we do behind the scenes really do count. You may not be the doctor who saved a life today, but he’s grateful to the one who fixed his breakfast and helped him to get his day started. You may not be the general, but a general is nothing without a regiment of privates. You may not be the pastor, but your prayers are working in his life.

So while you’re waiting for my next release, may I encourage you to pick up something else that I’ve had my hands in? 🙂
Journey of a Letter and Befriending the Beast by Amanda Tero
Hello, Forever and Until Then by Krista Noorman (You’ll want to read this series in order, so start with Goodbye, Magnolia. I was a part of the critique team for that one too. 😉 )
A Love to Come Home to by Alicia Ruggieri (This is another series that you’ll want to read in order. I had the pleasure of helping with books 2 and 3).

 

 

Posted in About the Author

What your favorite Indie Author REALLY wants to write in place of the blurb

15After spending so much time perfecting the novel, the indie author must then perfect the most important sales pitch: the blurb. Readers have little clue, if any, as to how difficult and stressful this stage really is. Here’s what your favorite–weary–author secretly wants to write in place of the blurb:

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“Something exciting happens in this book. Read it to find out what it is!”

“I have spent the last nine months perfecting 130,845 words and I don’t have the patience to fuss over 75 more words.”

“Just read the book. It’s good, I promise. I’ve read it over 9 times myself so I should know.”

“This is book three of a continuous series. I have purposely crafted books 1 and 2 so that you would be DYING to read this one, so it needs no introduction. And if it DOES need an introduction it’s because you haven’t read the first two books of the series. Don’t be a dolt! Start at the beginning. FYI The first book has a real blurb.”

“This book is as good as the cover makes it look.”

Leave the back blank with the instructions:
“After reading this book, please fill in the section below with your own personal summary of the story.”
And at the bottom of the blank section write:
“It’s not so easy now is it?”

“If you’re one of those people who will read the backs of lotion bottles while sitting in the bathroom, pick up this book. I guarantee it’ll be more exciting and you clearly aren’t the picky sort, so why should you care what the story is about?”

For Romance novels:
“If it looks like the two people on the cover fall in love, it’s because they do. Read the book to find out how and what their names are.”

“I bet you don’t read the labels on your food as much as you read the blurbs for a book. Shouldn’t you be more concerned about what you’re putting in your mouth than what you’re reading?”

“The celebrities that were talked into saying nice things about my book have all agreed that it’s the greatest I’ve ever written. Who cares what it’s about? Trust a celebrity and buy a copy today!”

“You’re one of those who peeks at their Christmas presents, aren’t you? Shame on you!!”

Lol I hope you enjoyed this look inside an author’s brain.
And authors, I’d love to hear from you! Which of these examples are you tempted to put on your next release? I’ll be honest and say that the one about Book 3 of a series not needing an introduction was what my tired little heart wanted to put on my upcoming release. 😉 But don’t worry. I’ll grab myself a cup of tea and write something awesome…eventually.
And please, feel free to add to my list in the comments below!!

Posted in History

Historical Book Review: The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette by Florence Hartley

52This is a special book review especially for history fans or historical authors. And the best part is, this book is a freebie on Amazon!!

The full title is, The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness A Complete Hand Book for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society.
Now if that isn’t a mouth full, I’m not sure what is! Lol

I picked up this book with the intentions of getting a better understanding of the customs and social manners of the 1800s. And, boy, was it a gold mine!! Along with the do’s and don’t’s, The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette also gave me a lesson on the common, day to day things like paying and accepting house calls. You can’t get a better source on Victorian customs than a book written in 1860.
I highly recommend this to anyone wanting to study more about the time period. I had picked up another freebie but I enjoyed the flow of thought and the overall writing style better in Florence’s version. I’ll share both links at the bottom of this page and you can give both books a try if you wish.

Here’s a list of categories found in the book:
Conversation
Dress (A MAJOR bonus in this book! She offers a fantastic breakdown on the type of dresses and when/why they were worn as well as what style was acceptable for each.)
Traveling
How to behave in a hotel
Evening Parties as the hostess
Evening parties as the guest
Visiting as the hostess
Visiting as the guest
Morning receptions or calls as the hostess
Morning receptions or calls as the guest
Dinner company as the hostess
Dinner company as the guest
Table etiquette
Conduct in the street
Letter writing
Polite deportment and good habits
Conduct in church
Ballroom etiquette for the hostess
Ballroom etiquette for the guest
Places of amusement
Accomplishments
Servants
On a young lady’s conduct when contemplating marriage
Bridal etiquette
Hints on health
Miscellaneous
For the complexion

I haven’t finished reading this gem yet, but I’ve seen more than enough to pass it along to my fellow historian junkies.
You’ll find a free ebook version on Amazon here:
The Ladies’ Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness A Complete Hand Book for the Use of the Lady in Polite Society

As mentioned, there is another book similar to this one. I didn’t read very far into it before switching books. But feel free to check them both out. This one is also free on Amazon.
Martine’s Hand-book of Etiquette, and Guide to True Politeness

And lastly, I ran across a gentleman’s book and thought to pick up a copy for myself as well as passing it along to you. I haven’t opened this one yet so it’ll be a surprise to us all. 😉
The Gentlemen’s Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness Being a Complete Guide for a Gentleman’s Conduct in all his Relations Towards Society

Posted in About the Book

In Progress: Book Chat on Facebook

117While I buckle down and finish writing the first draft of If Only it were Yesterday, I thought it’d be fun to gather and talk about this new novel I’m working on.
Don’t worry, Harper fans! I’m still working on Out of the Ashes. We’re editing as I type this, but I have some time on my hands to focus on what I expect to be my next release (after Ashes, of course!).

If Only it were Yesterday is the start of a special series. Each book in this series can be read as a stand alone. And each book is loosely inspired by one of my favorite Disney movies. Our first adventure is inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

In If Only it were Yesterday, Liz Cooke dreams she time travels to 1885. So the story takes place in both 2016 and 1885. On my author’s page on Facebook, we’ll be chatting this week about the new book, time travel, and the differences between the two settings in the novel.

I’ll post 1 question Mon-Fri this week (March 6th-10th). Feel free to drop by anytime and join in the discussion. You can join the chat here. I hope to see you there!!

Posted in About the Book

Writing Update

I just wanted to bring you a quick writing update. I currently have two books in progress, both on opposite ends of the spectrum. So here’s the latest about what’s happening on my desktop.

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Out of the Ashes is FINALLY in the hands of my critique team again. They had looked it over, shot holes all through it, and had sent it back to me back in April. Due to a long-term bout of mono, four kids, and about 25 pages worth of revision notes it took me a while to tear the novel apart and put it back together again. Lol I now know how poor Humpty Dumpty felt! I was beginning to wonder if Ashes would ever become a complete story again.

I did a complete overhaul on Ashes. New layout. New scenes. New chapters. But still with the same solid message: All healing comes through Christ. I can’t wait for you to get your hands on a copy. If you haven’t started the Ancient Words Series yet, you’ll want to read them in order so go grab a copy of my first two novels and enjoy them while we finish up Ashes. For those that are caught up…well, we’ll learn how to be patient together. 😉

We’d really covet your prayers as my team looks over the revised copy. They need a blessing on their time and discernment. I want to bring you a story that you can’t put down or stop talking about when it was over. And I can’t do that without my critique team and the efforts they put into pointing out my flaws. 😉 And if I sound bitter towards them, I’m not. I LOVE my team. They have a difficult job and they do it with grace. And I really do appreciate them.

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In other news, I had announced a brand new series to you a month ago. I’m still in the early stages of the newest manuscript. I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this month. Lord willing, If Only it were Yesterday will grow and swell. Already this month, I’ve added 4,835 words, bringing Liz’s story to 12,625 words so far.

You can catch up on the details of my new series by clicking here. You’re going to love it. There’s time travel, tidbits of Alice in Wonderland sprinkled throughout, and it’s all wrapped up in a BEAUTIFUL message about God’s purpose for our lives.

You can catch all the daily/weekly updates by following me on Facebook.

Posted in History

Welcome to 1885

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From the Civil War to the present day to 1885. We’re on quite a journey together! 🙂

Those that follow my blog are already familiar with my debut Civil War series and are already anticipating my next project. If you’re new to the blog, you might have missed some of the great Civil War history that I’ve shared with my readers over the last 22 months. If history is your thing, and Civil War history in particular, then I know you would enjoy the various Civil War letters and other tidbits that I’ve posted. Feel free to indulge yourself.

The 4th Monday of every month is history week here and now we have a new era to explore! I’ll continue to bring you Civil War facts and letters but I’ll also start sharing some of the interesting points of my research as I delve into 1885. This is a new setting for me and I don’t know very much at the start so we’ll learn as we go. But here are a couple of points that I do know!

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By British standards, we’re still in the Victorian Era, which is good news for me since I’ve grown rather comfortable here. 😉 But here in America, we also like to call this era the Gilded Age. You can read about how each of these eras break down in my previous post, A Quick Guide to Common Eras in Historical Fiction.

And another major note is the style of dresses. I’ll be switching from the full belled skirts to the infamous bustle. I’ve forever been smitten with the full skirts, but what about you? Which is your favorite look between these two styles?

And lastly, as I study into the social issues of this time in history, I would love to take in as much as I can by reading fiction novels that also deal the era that I’m studying. Can you recommend any non fiction or Christian fiction novels that focus on the social issues of the 1880s?

 

Posted in About the Book

A New Adventure!

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Nothing sums it up quite like the image above. It is time to start a new adventure!! Don’t worry, I’m still working on the old adventure. 😉 But the Lord has trumped my plans and has led me to start a new series while still working on the Ancient Words Series. You can read more about the story behind this decision here.

After working in total secrecy for about two months, I’m prepared to give you all those yummy details your heart desires. There’s a giveaway also in progress and you’ll find those details on the bottom of this page. But first, let’s talk about that title…

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Book One of the brand new series is titled, If Only it were Yesterday. This story is loosely inspired by Alice in Wonderland. *The above graphic is NOT the official book cover.

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It’s funny how fast things can change. When I officially began If Only it were Yesterday, it was, believe it or not, a stand alone story. I was brainstorming for an idea for a new Christmas short story when I was inspired by a plot that became the second novel in the series. Twelve hours later, I had two more stories to add to the collection, creating A Season Passed.
Each story in A Season Passed carries four distinct connections.
One: Each story is set in one of the seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer. If Only it were Yesterday starts us off in the Fall.
Two: The plot of each story takes place in two different periods of time. Each plot is crafted with both the character’s present and past intertwined together.
Three: For the first time, I’ll be writing this series using only ONE point of view character per book!! If you’ve been following the Ancient Words Series you’ll know that this is big news.
Four: Each story is a loose retelling of one of my favorite Disney movies. As mentioned, If Only it were Yesterday is inspired by Alice in Wonderland but I’m not ready to reveal the other three just yet.
Are you excited yet? Now let’s talk plot!

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In If Only it were Yesterday, Liz Cooke has a problem with reality. Several problems, actually. Disheartened with the condition of society, she daydreams about a simpler time when things made sense and problems were easily erased. But when Liz falls asleep and dreams she has traveled back in time, will she find things to be as easy as she had imagined?

Now for the details…

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While the other stories in the series will flash back to a real time in the character’s history, Liz’s story is a little more unique in that her flashback takes place in a dream. She dreams she time travels to 1885.

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Here’s a quick look at Liz Cooke. I’m still working on the official model but you’ll find her likeness in the picture above that I snagged from Pinterest. I don’t own the picture or know the lovely lady, but her long brown hair, loose curls, and pretty smile help inspire the image I have in mind for Liz.

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Liz and I both agree that one of the perks of “living” in two different eras is having two different suitors to choose from. 😉 Again, I don’t own these fellas but they do inspire my characters. Although, I picture Scott with lighter hair, that easy-going smile of his is spot on.

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I wanted to increase the Alice in Wonderland connection by naming my new fictional town after the story’s author. As it turns out Carroll is a pen name so I allowed readers attending the FB party to vote between Carroll, TN and Dodgson, TN (the author’s real last name).

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And last but not least, the official tagline of If Only it were Yesterday. I hope you’re as excited as I am about the new project. You’ll be hearing news about my progress as well as the progress on my upcoming release, Out of the Ashes.

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Giveaway:
I’m giving away paperback copies of my first two novels, Where Can I Flee and In the Shadow of Thy Wings, a $5 Christian Book gift card, and some of my favorite tea in celebration of this new adventure. You can enter the giveaway through one or more of the options below. *Giveaway is open to continental U.S. residents only and closes on October 6 at midnight. Thanks SO much for stopping by!

How to enter the giveaway:
1  Comment below. I’d love to hear your excitement about the new series.
2  Share this blog post. Grab an entry for sharing on different social media platforms. Just comment below and let me know how many times to add your name in the bowl.
3  Follow me on Facebook. Don’t forget to tell me about it.
4  Follow this blog page and tell me about it in the comments.
*Don’t forget to add your email address so I know how to contact you if you’re the winner.

 

Posted in About the Author, Christian

Standing Before the Burning Bush

Who are you trusting? Yourself or God?

How about when you’re challenged with a difficult task and you’re way in over your head? Are you trusting yourself or Christ?

Sometimes even the most dedicated Christians stumble here. Moses did. Let’s go back to the moment in history in Exodus and examine the scene:
Moses was minding his own business when he walked upon a bush that while on fire wasn’t consumed or being burnt. The angel of the Lord spoke to him from inside this bush. It was here, that Moses learned of his assignment: Go back to Egypt and bring the Israelites out. Out of bondage. Out of Egypt. Out to worship the One True God in a way they had never known before. This was no small task. The Pharaoh was powerful. The people were stubborn. It would have been risky enough to slip back into Egypt and rescue just one person in the cloak of night, but to rescue ALL right in front of the entire Egyptian army and the mighty Pharaoh? Who would dare to do such a thing?

A man called by God.

But in spite of this calling, in spite of the awesome signs God had shown him right there on the spot, in spite of the fact that the Lord, Himself, spoke to him through a burning bush, Moses made a list of reasons why he wasn’t qualified.

In that moment, he stopped seeing how great and mighty God was and could only see himself. He saw his own shortcomings. His failures. His inabilities. And Moses had them. These were not pretend ailments but real issues that anyone could see. In fact, God didn’t deny them. But what did He say?
“Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

God told Moses that He would fill him with Himself. He would teach him. Sadly Moses continued to argue and God was angry. But He had mercy on Moses sent his brother Aaron to help him. But what about you? What about me? Have we ever stood before a burning bush and argued with God about how He intended to use us?

I have.

Four years ago, God laid it on my heart in a way that couldn’t be ignored to start writing for the public. I had already been writing privately but now I would allow others to read and criticize my work. And to make matters worse, the story on my heart included Civil War letters. I would actually be in charge of writing letters as if they came off the battlefield! How in the world a meek little woman, who had never so much as been in the army for an hour, write with authority? How would I make it sound real? I wasn’t capable of this task. And I knew it. Much like Moses, I made my list of reasons why I wasn’t qualified. I’m not smart enough. I don’t have the commanding personality to be in the public eye. I don’t know enough. I’m not talented enough. I wasn’t there in history’s past.

And like with Moses, God never denied my list. I never felt the Holy Spirit comfort my heart and remind me that I am good enough. That I am talented. That I am smarter than those around me. The God who created me knew He made me with some shortcomings. He also knew He was able to fill them.

He reminded me that He is the I Am. Everything I lacked would come from Him. He would teach me, guide me, and fill me. He would take my weaknesses and show off His strengths. Alone, Moses could do nothing. With Christ, Moses would storm Egypt and turn the world upside down. The showdown was so powerful and so mighty that we still talk about it today. My task would be much smaller, but I would still make the impact that God had ordained.

But what does this filling look like?

God didn’t fill me outside of my own efforts. That means that He didn’t zap me with His God-gun or insert powers into my body like the spider did when he bit Peter Parker. He didn’t come over me in a cloud. I didn’t fall into a trance at the computer and write a 400-page novel.

No. I sweated every word out. One word at a time. One line at a time.  And, yet, He was there.

Every time I studied, He was opening my mind. Every time I researched, He was bringing me closer to history. Every time I corrected my writing, He was giving me understanding. He brought others along side of me. He opened doors for me that had previously been closed.
I never worked alone. But I did work. And the same is said for repentance. God doesn’t zap us with a do-better ray. Instead, He changes us from the inside as we turn away from our old sinful behaviors. The more we turn from sin, the more we detest it. God is always working with us. But we’re always required to show up and do the work.

I once stood before a burning bush (figuratively, of course) and I argued my merits. I somehow thought that in spite of the great miracles I had read about in the Bible and in spite of the proof I had witnessed in my own life, God wouldn’t be able to use someone who had so little to offer and use them in such a powerful way.

And I was proven wrong.

God delights in using the simple and the weak. It’s not an ego boost to know it. But it is a comfort.

I stood before another burning bush two months ago. I made my list of failings but this time, I smiled and handed them over. God will use them. And I will get a front row seat. I can honestly say that I’m looking forward to seeing what’s in store. Are you curious to know what the new assignment is?

It’s a new adventure. A new series!

In spite of the fact that I’m in the middle of 5 books series. In spite of the fact that I’ve had mono for over 200 days now and counting. In spite of the fact that I’m also struggling with a Vitamin D deficiency. In spite of the fact that I’ve had to set aside the revisions of my third novel, falling months behind my personal schedule. In spite of everything, God pressed on my heart in a clear way that it was time to start a brand new series. I have begun writing the new novel and I intend to work on both series, side by side.
It’s true, I don’t have enough time or enough energy. Some days, I don’t get any writing done at all because my strength is zapped and my body is drained. But Jesus is the I Am. What I am not, He is. Where I lack, He fills. As I work, He’s working in me.
From where I stand, my progress looks like a snail’s crawl, but I trust my Master. My weakness will show off His strength and I’m looking forward to it.

Now, I might have sparked your curiosity. What is this new series? Fans of Christian Fiction, Christian Historical Fiction, and especially fans of Multi-generational series will love to learn more about my new series. I invite you to the Facebook party that I’ll be hosting where I reveal all the secrets concerning this new series. There’ll be games, giveaways, and good, clean fellowship. Set the date for Oct 1 at 10 am, central. I hope to see you there! But if you’re not able to make it, look for the blog post later that night where I reveal all the details for those that missed the party.

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Posted in Uncategorized

An Invitation to the Author Olympics

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I might have mentioned my love for the Olympics last week. 🙂 Well, I wasn’t joking. Lol With the Olympics playing all night in my home and me sitting at the computer slaving away on the next great novel during the day, I was inspired to create a fun little game for us authors. We’re calling it the Author Olympics.

The idea is simple. At the start of your writing day, set your personal goals and divide them up between bronze, silver, and gold medals. For example, a gold medal would be the highest possible goal, silver would fall in the middle, and the bronze award would be the lowest amount that you would accept from yourself.
You don’t have to be in the writing phase to play along. You’re in charge of your goals so feel free to make them whatever you need. If you’re editing, you might want to count scenes or chapters. You could count topics or pages read if you’re researching this week.

We’re playing the Author Olympics on Facebook all week long. I encourage anyone who wants to participate to snag the meme on this page and post about your game and your medal count throughout the week on your Facebook page. Twitter fans, feel free to tweet. We’re using the hashtag, #authorolympics and encouraging each other along.

Have fun and happy writing!!

Posted in About the Book

Writing Update and Ebook Sale

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For those that follow me on Facebook, you may have already heard of how I’ve been spending my summer. For those that haven’t heard, here’s a quick rundown:
After much prayer, I had decided to take the summer off. I was told back in February that I had mono and I discovered in June that I STILL have mono and also a Vitamin D deficiency. What all this means is that I’m a little too tired a little too often. Sitting at the computer doesn’t sound like much work…unless you’re so tired you don’t even want to lift your hands out of your lap. :/ Sad story, I know.
I also have four happy, hyper children at home so concentration wasn’t working very well to start with. You’ll also notice that I haven’t blogged much this summer. I’m planning to get back to my usual schedule but first things first. REST!
My children are heading back to school this week so I’m getting back in the chair. I’m excited and ready to go!! At least I think I am. 😉

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I’m still in the middle of revisions for Out of the Ashes. I would appreciate your prayers as I work. There’s so much to do before we can move to line editing and I still tire easily.

The upside to mono is the bonus reading time it has afforded me. And to spread the wealth – the reading, not the mono – I’m hosting a summer sale! Prices will go back up in September so take advantage while you can and pass the word along to your friends.
Where Can I Flee
In the Shadow of Thy Wings

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