22 December 2010

What Kind of Christmas Light Would You Be?


My choices:

  • Teardrop-shaped mini LED lights that my DH purchased for the tree. My father's 92nd birthday was December 13th, had he lived. My mom passed away last summer. Those lights were an accidental purchase, but they seem right for this year. The new LED lights use less power but you can keep them on all the time and not waste energy kind of like my BIC time has been recently.
  • An old line of electrical lights that keep sputtering but then sometimes are blazing bright.



Some other choices from friends:


Laurie Alice Eakes--Lady in the Mist from Revell Books, February, 2011. Read an Excerpt at:


When I was really small we had those awful, dangerous, but oh, so beautiful Christmas lights that were fairly large, got rather hot, and had the silver reflectors behind them. They were different colors, too. If one died, you unscrewed the bulb and put in a new one.

I think that's my heroine in my second midwife book-multi-faceted, burning hot to the point of being a bit dangerous, as in she could start a fire with too much kindling. Not a literal fire, of course, but she is bold in what she says and does, and not everyone appreciates it.


Second choice: blinking lights that blink on and off in waves around the tree.


Deb Kinnard

Bubble lights – they have to be plugged in properly to work right and bubble, like being connected with the Holy Spirit. I loved them on Grandma's tree when I was little. We kids used to plug the tree lights on and then sit (quietly, for once!) waiting for the first bubble.
If they're not wired in, or don't connect properly, you don't get a single bubble. So am I when I walk away from the one true Source of power. Once I'm connected, though, I bubble along quite brightly in all sorts of colors. Absent the Power? Nothing.


Gina Wellborn


Love the mini LED lights. Tree in living room has 6 or 8 strands of lights. Sadly we're down to only 2 or 3 working. Been calling it our zebra tree. So hubby went and bought 3 more sets. Yay him! Unfortunately to put them on the tree, we have to take all the ornaments off. *sigh*

Christine Lindsay


I'd have to chose an old-fashioned candle. I'm literally a lump of useless wax unless I'm lit by God. And if I stay close to Him, and let him trim my wick, I burn brightly. If left to myself, I wallow in melted goo.



Kim Taylor – Also identifies with the old-fashioned kind like Laurie Alice mentioned.


Narielle Living – the blinking kind, on-off-on-off.


Angie Gaspar – bubble lights.


Rachel Smith – twinkle lights with different settings.


David Williams - luminescent concrete bulb. (What do you expect from a Psychology professor?!)



How about you? What kind of Christmas tree light would you be?!


Followers – Post a comment and email your snail mail address to so I can send you a Christian fiction book!



19 December 2010

Maid to Match – Book Review

Written by Deanne Gist

Audiobook narrated by Suzy Jackson



Set at Biltmore mansion in Ashville, North Carolina, Deanne Gist once again delivers a wonderful story to the reader/listener. Characterization, as usual, is spot-on, and the story line richly complex. She delivers a satisfying ending and wraps up the many threads of the story. I particularly loved all the elements that brought authenticity to the people who live in the southeastern mountains, e.g., whittling little figures for the children (my Kentucky-born grandfather did that for us).

Maid to Match was a very satisfying historical romance and Ms. Gist an excellent storyteller as well as reliable in delivering the goods. I love to find a reliable author, one who won't disappoint me, and Deanne Gist is on my short list!

30 November 2010

Simple Elegance Cookbook

Book Review

Author: Angela Breidenbach

Westbow Press, A Division of Thomas Nelson Publishing



Creative Cooking for Simple Elegance: How to Create Simple, Elegant, & Inexpensive Meals


This is Angie Breidenbach's second cookbook. I have not read the first, but she indicated in the introduction that she wrote Simple Elegance in response to readers' requests for an easy way to make wonderful meals for their families in a reasonable amount of time. That sounds like everyone's wish to me! Not only did Ms. Breidenbach deliver on that front, but she also includes what I find to be the most important feature of this book – suggestions and management for people with inflammatory conditions such as celiac disease or irritable bowel syndrome. There are many people with other autoimmune conditions, such as arthritis, who suffer periodic issues with their digestive systems, e.g., during a flare up, and they would do well to pick up a copy of this book, also.

What makes this book different is the "Angie factor". Ms. Breidenbach has the ability to distill complex information down into digestible chunks that are easily understood. This is not an easy feat. Psychologists look at this as the ability to both analyze and synthesize information. Some people are gifted in one area but it is rare to see both abilities be so strong. But I digress. Why is that important in this book? She includes information in the front and back of the book that is worth the cost of it ($20.95, per the cover) even if there were no recipes included!


Summarized in the front are five pages of tips on simple, elegant cooking. Prior to any holiday baking, it would be a great idea to whip this book out and review those. Every recipe is also coded for IBS, gluten intolerance/celiac, and weight loss. In the back of the book there are seven pages/twenty five tips for managing inflammatory bowel conditions, and a page of "difficult" foods to avoid, as well as a section citing helpful websites.


Summary: Strongly recommend for people with inflammatory conditions (of all types) that, either periodically or regularly, affect their digestive systems.




Disclosure: I received this cookbook as part of a wonderful gift package I won through a Facebook online Simple Elegance party I "attended" last month. Psst! I also have one in my Amazon cart, though!

23 November 2010

My Characters' Thanksgiving Dinner

My Story World characters, who live on the frontier of Virginia in the 18th century might have a pretty good Thanksgiving feast.

Sarah and Suzanne would likely serve up:

-Root vegetables, possibly roasted, seasoned with salt and rosemary
-Squash/pumpkin with molasses, ginger and cloves, baked like a casserole with some milk and eggs beat into it

-Roasted venison, smoked and baked ham with honey

-Journey cake baked with cornmeal

-Suzanne, who is French, would make an apple pastry with a flaky crust

-Johan, German, would ask for sausages

-William, Indian/French/English wants succotash

Sarah, who has very poor vision and has mostly lived on the frontier, just wants her ten brothers to do all the carrying and cleaning up and could care less what will be served as long as she can sit down and enjoy it! Hmm, I guess I relate most to her!

01 November 2010

Historical Fiction Review

Product DetailsLaurie Alice Eakes' book, The Glassblower, was an ACFW Carol finalist this year. This is a delightful book and despite its small size, the characters are wonderfully and fully developed. Collin Grassick, a master glassblower from Scotland, is sure to steal your heart away before you are done reading! Laurie and I discussed my observation that she showed the gift of beautiful parsimony in this book. We aren't sure if that is the correct terminology, in fact I am pretty sure it isn't. Let me try it this way - Laurie Alice has the ability to distill down to the best elements and deliver a wonderful elixir that the reader can savor.
Heartsongs Presents – Historical, through Barbour, published in 2009. This is a historical romance distributed through mass market but available for purchase at It is 176 pages but I have to say that Laurie Alice is excellent at including wonderful historical tidbits that you will want to take your time reading it to enjoy all the details. Don't be deceived into thinking this is a little late night read. Right now, you can purchase this book for under $2.50 at CBD and it was up against a number of other books for the Carol competition that were twice as long and probably five times the cost. Do yourself a favor and order it today for Author's Day!

04 October 2010

The Wolf of Tebron - Book Review

The Wolf of Tebron, Book One in The Gates of Heaven series, By C.S. Lakin

Publisher: AMG Publishers/Living Ink Books

August 2010, Pages: 288

Category: Youth Fantasy Fiction


Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher to review. A thank you goes out to Shelby Sledge, with Phenix and Phenix Literary Publicists for background information. The Wolf of Tebron is described as a modern fairy tale with components of fantasy and myth, also. A blacksmith must go on a quest to seven places on Earth that heaven has designated to protect the hearts of men from evil.

Susanne Lakin also has another book just released, her mystery novel, Someone to Blame, which won the Zondervan first novel contest. She is a member of ACFW, which is where I “met” her in one of the online groups and was fortunate to get to talk with her in person at the recent ACFW conference. She is also a member of Christian Authors Network and Christian Filmmakers.

This is a fairly fast paced novel but Susanne’s writing is so beautiful that I found myself reading extremely slowly just to savor the choices she made in every sentence. The cover is gorgeous, and is one reason why two of my author friends ended up taking home (from the ACFW conference) one of my (purchased) signed copies of this book and an advance copy I received! So my giveaway book had up and gone.

This is definitely a literary novel. It is one that deserves a place in Christian high school curriculums. I see this as a modern classic such as Hind’s Feet on High Places.

Personal note: I was interested in reading this book because I have a fantasy book that I have put aside as I work on a series of historical novels. I had also seen some of Susanne’s comments and writing online and was really impressed with how lovely her words are. Meeting her in person, she is casually elegant, extremely intelligent, and is wonderfully expressive and considerate. She’s a joy – just like her book.

09 September 2010

Interview With Rita Gerlach – Author of Surrender the Wind

Surrender the Wind, Published by Abingdon Press Fiction, 2009


Rita just celebrated the first anniversary publication of Surrender the Wind. As a fan/writer of colonial fiction, last year I started searching out books/authors of recent publications. Rita's book has romance, history, and suspense and takes an American Revolutionary patriot back to England.

In this book, Seth Braxton returns to England to reunite with the sister her left there as a child. He arrives to find her grieving the loss of her son then meets Juleah who steals his heart. However, this enrages the man who had wished to marry her and who was also trying to take Seth's ancestral home from him. Will their love survive of murder, abduction and betrayal?



What inspired this story?[Rita Gerlach] What sparked my imagination to write Surrender the Wind was a single thought. What would happen if an American patriot of the Revolutionary War inherited his grandfather's estate in England. It was like tossing a stone in a pond and it causing a ripple effect. Everything followed suit after that, the characters, the setting, and the plot line. 

You have a love of history, particularly colonial era.  What influenced this interest?[Rita Gerlach] The town I live in is rife with history. The old buildings, the historical sites, all echo of the past and are treasured places. Not long ago, I visited Antietam Battlefield. I stood there, on the grass looking down Bloody Lane, with only the sound of the wind whispering across the fields, trying to imagine what it must have been like for those men. It is a sad, hallowed place. It is of a different time period, but history is history no matter the century. Whenever I visit such a place my imagination comes alive. My love for the colonial period is not just about dates and facts, but about the people and how they lived.


You are known among writers as being a very kind, generous, and thoughtful person and hostess.  Is this one of your spiritual gifts?  If you are too embarrassed by this question, I will just write my own little comment on how super you are![Rita Gerlach] Not embarrassed. Just a bit shy to answer this. But I do love helping others.


Do you find male or female characters more challenging, and why?[Rita Gerlach] Whether male or female charactization is challenging. Women are said to be more emotionally complicated then men, but I don't think that's completely true. It depends on the character's personality, what made them the person they are, what influenced them to be either the protagonist or antagonist. For example, I find Darcy more complex than Elizabeth in Pride & Prejudice. Jane is more complicated than Rochester in Jane Eyre. In Surrender the Wind, I found Seth more challenging than Juleah. He had been through a war, and experienced things Juleah had not. He was wounded inwardly. She was more open having lived a more sheltered life.


Your ability to pull the reader right into the setting is phenomenal.  Can you comment on the trend in writing toward minimalism and the tendency away from narrative writing.  [Rita Gerlach] It is a very complex trend, to say the least. I sometimes wonder if it is due to changes in our culture. My parents' generation read the classics in school. Not so today. So not to offend anyone that leans one way or the other, I'll say this. Good writing strikes a balance between dialogue and narrative writing. I began to read a particular novel that was nothing but dialogue for pages and pages, with an occasional break with narrative. I got lost not knowing which character was speaking. I could not finish that book. I was unable to visualize them or the setting in my mind. On the other hand, a book that is all narrative will put a reader to sleep. If you want to hook me, the story must have a rhythm to it, meat, substance, discription, action. Tend away from narrative and you'll lose me.


Do you have a favorite scripture and what is it?[Rita Gerlach] 
My favorite scripture is Revelation 21:4.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

Thanks, Rita!

Thank you Rita!

Book Contest
For a chance to win a copy of Surrender the Wind, leave a comment on this blog!


27 August 2010

Historical/Bibliotherapy Review



Courting Morrow Little

By Laura Frantz, Revell, 2010


This is Ms. Frantz's second book, her debut being the spectacular "The Frontiersman's Daughter". Laura did an interview about CML on this blog in early June. Laura says maybe this books needs to be called the hospital book, because so many of us have read it during very difficult times, sometimes toting it to the hospital.


The best review out there is Michelle Sutton's posted at:


I am going to admit that I read this book during one of the most difficult times in my life. My mother had just returned to Michigan and was to begin chemotherapy, after having a horrendous surgery (whipple) in early winter. She died within 19 days of returning home. So, unfortunately, I will always associate this lovely book with that time. However, a bibliotherapy factor in this book was helpful to me:

SPOILER ALERT There were several deaths, one being very significant but was hinted at early on and throughout so that it was expected. And Laura was kind enough to warn me about the deaths since I had just finished another book where the bibliotherapy factor was grief/mourning issues (wonderful book by fellow Virginian Gina Holmes, reviewed here last week). The main loss was handled very well and in a meaningful and realistic manner.


My own WIP is frontier colonial set in Virginia and Kentucky but my characters are patriots whereas CML presents a lesser-explored side of the American Revolution – those people who were more sympathetic to the British and to those native Americans who chose to side with them. It takes one talented writer to make this 18th century story world patriot feel sympathetic to the characters' plights in CML, but Laura Frantz accomplished that!


This had an extremely satisfying ending – probably the best I have read over the past year since The Frontiersman's Daughter came out. All the loose ends were tied up in a way that made sense. Ms. Frantz kept this story moving through the middle all the way to the end. There was no sagging middle here yet she did give breaks from the action, also.


I expect this book will be nominated for awards as The Frontiersman's Daughter was, also. Congrats Laura!



Leave a comment on this blog or on any of my blogs since I posted the interview with Laura and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of both Courting Morrow Long and also Rita Gerlach's Surrender the Wind, which I will be reviewing in September. A late happy birthday to Rita (yesterday was her birthday)!!








14 August 2010

Under General Washington’s Canopy

Little did I know that right here in Yorktown, Virginia, one can stand right under General George Washington's dining canopy (albeit under glass)! My husband and I did that this afternoon at the National Parks Yorktown Battlefield museum. They also have a sleeping canopy that was his and had been kept the step-grandson George and Martha Washington helped raise (George Washington Parke Custis) after his father died from camp fever contracted during the Yorktown siege.

We have lived here over a decade and I could not believe that I did not know about this! We have been to the Battlefield a number of times, but only twice inside and then briefly. They have a museum that showcases the Washington canopies and also a replica of the interior of a French ship, which was also really cool. The Fifes and Drums of Yorktown entertain here and the annual celebration of the Victory at Yorktown is celebrated at the Battlefield in October. We were treated to a guided tour by a very entertaining park ranger and learned a number of things that surprised us. For the first time in British history, Cornwallis and his army were forced to depart without the honors of war (apparently they had to normally play a song chosen by the victors and also got to carry their flag as they marched out). Cornwallis had visited this humiliation on Charleston previously and then took hostage 5000 soldiers who were treated as civilians and imprisoned on boats (only 400 or so survived this to the end of the war). Benjamin Lincoln, taken hostage and exchanged, had pledged to not take up arms against the British again. He was with Washington at the surrender and it was he who was given Cornwallis' sword after Washington indicated that he did not wish to accept it. Given all the various and sundry things that happened to bring the victory about, it seems only providential that the Americans were victorious at Yorktown.

I wonder how many other people who live in Yorktown don't know about the treasures we have at the Battlefield?

13 August 2010

Contemporary Book Review – Bibliotherapy (Cancer)

Crossing Oceans

By Gina Holmes

Published 2010 by Tyndale


This book is going to be a classic not only for use in bibliotherapy with cancer patients' families but because of the literary quality of Ms. Holmes' writing. The book is written in first person, which is extremely effective. Jenny is a young woman with terminal cancer who must come home to North Carolina and begin the transition for her daughter to a life after she is gone. Jenny has more than a few significant issues to resolve. For those who scoff at the idea of someone not knowing he had a child, I actually had a psychotherapy case like this where the father had never met his young daughter and I had the privilege of helping them start the process of getting to know each other. You will be laughing out loud at the very funny Jenny even as you are sad to know she is dying and will be getting much worse very soon. My own mother had cancer when I was twelve, but survived. She contracted cancer again last year and passed away, rather suddenly as we were told she was to begin chemotherapy, and died in June. I am so glad I read this book prior to my mom getting so very ill so fast at the end. Although I thought I had dealt with what cancer means, I really had not because my mother recovered the first time. Ms. Holmes takes you through the nitty gritty of end stage cancer for which I am grateful. This is an excellent bibliotherapy book for those dealing with cancer in their family, particularly terminal cancer. There is one group I would caution against reading this until they are stable – persons who are diagnosed with major depression. While this is an excellent read, well written, and witty, it is dealing with a very serious subject and SPOILER ALERT while it may not surprise most readers, there is no miraculous cure at the end and thus is not going to give a feel good ending and could trigger further depressed mood. For most other clients, this would be a good read to help process grief.

05 August 2010

Book Review - Suspense

Protector's Honor by Kit Wilkinson, Love Inspired Suspense, Steeple Hill, 2009.


I met Kit when she got our local Tidewater writers group started up. She is the ACFW Mid-Atlantic Coordinator and is based in Richmond. There is a lot more to Kit than meets the eye just like the female protagonist in her story.

Kit got both her main characters "just right". Rory is a wonderful balance of military and police know-how combined with an appropriate amount of tenderness. Tabitha, an attorney, is blessedly consistent throughout the story although she does have her story and spiritual arcs going on. Don't you just hate it when you read a book through and the heroine seems to flip-flop and change around so much that you just don't "get" her? That will not happen with this book. Protector's Honor has a great story line with lots of twists and turns without being mind-boggling. I stopped most reading suspense and mystery books a while back because I could not stand the convoluted plots. Most of us are so busy managing our lives and our families that we don't want to have to totally concentrate on a book just to understand what the heck is happening. A mother of school-age kids could read this book during kiddy wait time. I finished mine off at Tae Kwan Do last week. The Love Inspired Book line has stories that fit into even a medium sized purse, which is nice for an on-the-go read.


Bibliotherapy factor SPOILER ALERT:

Tabitha was traumatized by a very close family friend. Why I love this as a bibliotherapy factor: Many times it is not a stranger who sexually assaults but someone who is well known to the survivor. There are nuances that Kit skillfully weaves (forgive my cliché, but it is appropriate here!) into the characterization and plot. We have a professional woman, in law, who has to get on with her life after this. Kit Wilkinson did a wonderful job of showing a character doing that without trivializing or patronizing those who have survived such an ordeal. Kudos Kit!

04 August 2010

ACFW Conference

I will be a first-timer at the mid-September conference for the American Christian Fiction Writers. I am so excited!! ACFW has been offering an online course to all the newbies, which has been interesting. This conference is highly recommended for anyone serious about seeking publication in Christian fiction. This year the event is being held in Indianapolis at the Hyatt, downtown. The Early Bird session is being done by James Scott Bell, who has also been the darling of Writers Digest online courses. His book, Plot and Structure (Write Great Fiction series), is a "must read" for fiction writers.

It is not too late to register! Check it out at:

29 July 2010

Trip from 200 Grafton District Rd, Yorktown, VA 23692-4045 to Cracker Barrel Old Country Str, 1625 Jim Johnson Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28312

Looking forward to seeing my cousin and part of her family and taking my little man with me. Enroute to Mytle Beach where my sister and nephew will meet us. I think we will be spending a lot of time talking about our mom and working through our grief. Travel prayers requested!

Trip from 200 Grafton District Rd, Yorktown, VA 23692-4045 to Cracker Barrel Old Country Str, 1625 Jim Johnson Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28312

25 July 2010

For My Mother

Birthday in Heaven


This would have been my mother's 80th birthday, but God brought her up there for a bigger and better bash than I could ever have thrown. Streets of gold, gates of pearls, angels singing, the incense of the saints wafting up, and the very presence of our Lord and God. Wow! Much sweeter than the birthday cake would have been. My Palm Pilot had me leaving earlier this week to get up to Michigan for her party. When my brother got my mom home to Michigan in early June, she was in the hospital within two days. Friends and relatives began dropping by daily, sometimes so many that some had to leave and come back (even for a large private room). I know she loved that they came despite how bad she felt. I am so grateful she was able to see so many loved ones. It wasn't long after that when instead of some minor problems they found that there were spots on her liver. An oncologist, who was supposed to have begun her chemo after she got to the Upper Peninsula, was expected to look at her scan and meet with her and my brother the following week. She had already slipped into a form of coma by the time he arrived, and left this earth only days later. Shocking, but what a kind God to not let her suffer any further. She always said she wanted to go quickly, in her sleep, which is like most of us would wish, I believe. What a trooper she was to have gone through that horrible whipple procedure (which she since shared she would recommend that no one ever have to go through), hospitalized for far longer than was expected, then rallied enough after our nine day visit to California to get to a nursing home and then back with my brother in my sister's guest house in California, then to suffer months of repeated trips to the hospital and doctors when things kept going wrong. Whew! So glad she got home and is now home forever with our mighty God. One day I will join her and I, too, will get to know the joy and beauty of heaven.


Dear Lord, there are many today who grieve the loss of loved ones. Help us in our sadness. We trust in you and your sovereign wisdom to take us when is best and right. Give those of us left behind the peace and comfort that only comes from you. In Jesus' name, Amen.

13 July 2010

Listen and/or Read

Summertime Reading – A Motley Crew

I was inspired by Kristen Johnson, on ShoutLife, to post my summer reading. I am finishing one of Lauraine Snelling's audiobooks, Opal, borrowed from my local library. I am reading three books, with my eyes, at the same time - Courting Morrow Little, by Laura Frantz, The Wolf of Tebron, by Susanne Lakin, and Protector's Honor by Kit Wilkinson. Three different genres even! There are a dozen "eye" books, as I like to call them, in my Amazon basket and I am only a few clicks away from finishing that order. Most are written by authors in a historical writers group that I was blessed to join a couple of months ago. My TBR list also includes TBL (to be listened to) as I just joined an audiobook download club and just finished listening to a Deanne Gist audio download. Barnes and Noble is also sending me six books on CD (they had a wonderful sale recently and I couldn't resist).

How about you? What is your favorite read (or listen!) so far this summer?

04 June 2010

Interview with Laura Frantz

Courting Morrow Little, Laura's new book, has just come out. It is her much-awaited second novel and is published through Revell. Please see her website, for more information about Laura and her writing! When Laura's book The Frontiersman's Daughter came out last year, it became my current favorite novel and remains at the top of my list.

Laura, what will readers of The Frontiersman's Daughter be surprised by in Courting Morrow Little?
Probably that Morrow is so very different than Lael, my protagonist in The Frontiersman's Daughter. While writing Morrow's story I was struck by the thought that if these two women were to meet I don't even know if they'd like each other! Also, while Lael goes east to Virginia, Morrow goes west in the story. Though both novels are set in Kentucky, the stories are very different. Lael starts the story with a strong character that must be softened and sweetened by novel's end. Morrow starts by being needy and weak and must grow strong. That said, I think they would like each other at the end of their stories rather than the beginning.

How would you contrast the two books?
The Frontiersman's Daughter is really a "coming of age" story told over a span of eight years or so while Courting Morrow Little is confined to three years and has darker themes. Both deal with issues of forgiveness and faith and finding God's best in a life partner. They have the requisite happy ending but it comes at a great cost. For Morrow, especially.

Do you have a favorite character in your new book?
I love Morrow because she is so needy and has so much growing to do in the novel. Based on her past trauma, she seems fragile and unable to cope with frontier life. But if I had to pick a favorite character it would be Red Shirt. He was something of an enigma to me, perhaps because I was writing solely from Morrow's perspective. Even though I created him, I never felt like I knew him completely – he doesn't even have a real name. While writing, he was always surprising meJ. I admire him because he is so resilient and steadfast and makes things happen.

You are finishing your third book. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
The Colonel's Lady (tentatively titled) will be released next summer. It involves a Revolutionary War hero and a spinster who are thrown together at a remote Kentucky fort in 1779. I expanded my POV for this book, writing from both Colonel McLinn's and Roxanna Rowan's perspective. It was enjoyable writing about a mature woman as Lael and Morrow are so young.

Will there be any familiar characters from TFD or CML in your next book?
I make mention of Ezekial Click but this book has all new characters.

How old is Morrow Little, where does she live, and is there a frontier fort involved?
Morrow turns 18 when the story begins. She and her father live on Kentucky's Red River – a spectacularly wild and beautiful place that is remote even today. Because the book was originally 500 pages or so, I had to trim major descriptive portions but you still get a hint of what the area is like. I know not all readers enjoy narrative so this was one of the reasons I condensed. Red River Station is the frontier fort in Morrow's story – in frontier times there was a difference between a fort and a station. Red River Station has a military presence which is quite menacing in the story and causes Morrow a great deal of angst. But I'd best not issue any spoilers hereJ.

What is your favorite thing about writing for Revell?
I have the most amazing editor. She was editor in chief of Crossings (a large Christian book club) for years and has such a passion for solid, edifying stories. Her heart is really for the reader. She also has tremendous respect for an author's voice and ideas. She is so gracious and easy to work with. The Lord really knew what he was doing when he brought us together and I'm so thankful for her.

Thanks so much, Carrie! I love your questions and hope readers will enjoy my books!

Leave a comment with your email address, to be entered to win a copy of Laura's wonderful debut book, The Frontiersman's Daughter. If you are already the proud owner of TFD, let us know and you will instead receive a copy of her new book, Courting Morrow Little. Winner will be notified on June 14th via email.

01 June 2010

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer

Bethany House, 2010


Book Review

I purchased my copy through CBD and it arrived about ten days ago. This recently released book was Karen's debut publication but I never would have guessed it; in fact I was pretty shocked to learn that fact. A Tailor-Made Bride read so smoothly that I assumed Karen was multi-published and that I had just not read one of her books before. Ms. Witemeyer's premise is unique: a dressmaker (Hannah Richards) arrives in a Texas town and needs help from a liveryman (Jericho "J.T." Taylor), who despises vanity, particularly in choice of clothing and appearance. The characters are well-developed and believable as well as memorable. She threads the hope of God's love throughout the chapters. I like that she included minor characters who were fleshed out and just really added to the story. One favorite character was an elderly man, Ezra, who had lost his wife and had decompensated so much that none of his former friends were coming near him. The heroine, a newbie in town, forms a special friendship with this fragile man. This is a well-populated story yet the minor characters don't overwhelm the story or the main characters, but rather support both characterization and the plot line. The book is set in Texas in the early 1880's, both popular in Christian fiction. I expect this book will please a wide audience.

I particularly recommend this book for someone looking for not only a good read but a "feel good" read. I had just finished reading a critically acclaimed book that had a bummer ending and was so glad that A Tailor-Made Bride came in the mail that day. I dove right into it and it helped me shake the "bad book ending" depression off in no time flat!


Watch for a future review by Kim Taylor of A Tailor-Made Bride.

29 May 2010

In Flanders Field

I love poppies. My mother grew them in our yard in Michigan while I was growing up. My artist sister recently gifted me with a gorgeous painting of an orange poppy in full bloom. But my most vivid memory of poppies as a child was this:

My father, a WWII veteran, came home from town and he had a red paper poppy pinned to his lapel, which he removed and set on his dresser. I wanted to see it. When I asked him what it was he got a little upset. First he said someone running for political office handed them out (I did see a name on a white label attached to the flower.) Persistent child that I was, I asked "why?" My father took a deep breath and told me – "It is to remind us of Flanders Field." "What was Flanders Field?" Another deep breath. "There's a famous poem about that, what happened during WW I" (my father's favorite uncle served as a medic in that war). "What does that have to do with poppies?" Finally he blurted out – it reminds us of all the blood that was spilled to keep us free, to remember all those young men who died.

For all those who gave their lives that we might live in freedom, let us remember them to our Creator and give thanks for their sacrifices for us.

24 May 2010

Camy Tang’s Street Team

Look through the majority of writer's blogs or websites to see their links to favorite blogs/sites and you will see one person's sites listed repeatedly – Camy Tang's. There is a reason for that! Her Story Sensei ( and Camy's Loft ( sites are among the top Christian Fiction sites on the web. They are my favorites, too. Camy's first three books are described as Asian chick lit or something silly like that, contemporary women's fiction if being more generic, but truly should be considered some of the best character-driven contemporaries out there. BTW, Camy Tang is a very humble person and may be mortified by what I wrote so if you are Camy Tang, STOP READING THIS! When I first read a sample of her writing on the Genesis (a contest) site through American C hristian Fiction Writers, I was floored by her characterization and writing ability. I thought if her writing is an example of what they were looking for then why am I bothering? I have persevered, however. Ms. Tang not only writes books, and blogs about the writing life, serves as coordinator of the Genesis contest, offers phone consultations, and also teaches some awesome classes (you can register via her websites).

Camy recently started a "Street Team" who are supporters, to distribute her lovely bookmarks. There is a contest, too, for the group. If you are one of those persons who utilizes her websites and have not read her books – you need to! Also, consider signing up for her street team, through the following link. See you on the street!

13 May 2010

Fragile + Toxic =

One outcome of that equation is disaster, possibly death. The statistics show that disabled children are much more likely to be abused by caretakers. It has been my observation in therapy with mood disordered children and their families that the abuse and neglect that occurs is more emotional than physical (but that is likely because these are people actually seeking help). The best outcome for a fragile person is to have an extremely loving and supportive parent/caregiver/partner. The perfect pairing would be with someone who is committed to and is actually walking with Christ each day, every hour. In those cases, the fragile person may bloom or at the least be able to function in a fairly normal appearing manner. Paired with a toxic person, symptoms worsen, meds increase, functioning decreases and the behavior associated with the disorder escalates to the point where there is danger to self and/or others. This is not to say that someone with a disorder that is not well-managed could not have this same outcome in a loving stable relationship with someone. It is more like having a low fire going, one that is managed but still glowing, and someone deliberately pours gasoline on it. In some cases, the toxic person may find themselves getting injured.

Have you noticed that toxic people often pick out a fragile person to attach themselves to? Sometimes this is subtle, such as a sexually abuse survivor who has someone in a position of authority over them who is just inappropriate enough to make them uncomfortable, e.g., mildly suggestive comments that no one else overhears. Sometimes it is much more tragic – such as in abusive marriages where a partner kills the other.

Do you make snide remarks, laugh at the foibles of others, take glee when someone you dislike gets their comeuppance, feel justified in ranting at people who don't do exactly what you want, and in general are a demanding intolerant person? Watch yourself – you are going down the slippery slope to the toxic pit. God can pull you out, but you will find a lot of company down there in that pit who will find you quite hilarious and justified. Please don't believe them. You cannot walk in peace and love and behave in that manner. But then, maybe you are a fragile person who has become toxic and need your own help (watch for a future posting).


06 May 2010

Toxic People

Toxic usually means something that can severely sicken you or kill you. Toxic people usually have no clue that they have a problem – YOU have the problem, other people are the issue, surely not them. They tend to be heavily "defended" and have little to no insight into their own issues. When they do get an idea about their own weaknesses, they quickly cover them up, gloss them over, or run from them.

Yesterday I had another glass object break and it reminded me of toxic people and situations. I chose the glass because it was quite heavy; substantial I thought. It did not seem fragile, despite being made of glass. The tumbler was a lovely dark cobalt blue and the bottom was weighted. I am not sure if the outside of the glass became slick and wet from "sweating", as it was hot here, or if my hands were damp, or both. I went to move it and it slipped, with a large shard cutting my finger. Pieces of glass had flown everywhere. My husband bandaged my hand and helped clean up the remains of the once-beautiful glass.

Toxic people are often deceptively competent on the surface. They certainly will not admit to their own defects, so others will assume that this must be someone who really knows what they are doing. The toxic person uses a lot of double talk so that the listener may stop and say, "I can't believe she just said that!" The sly comments and insults are built into the conversation to have whatever effect the toxic person wants – to embarrass, to show their own knowledge, etc.

The toxic person may have rages which seem out of the blue but to them there is something quite specific that you have attacked, in some way. Like the glass slipping and the resulting cut I had, you might never see the explosion coming but if you really understood the inner world of the person, you might have been able to anticipate it. Living with them is often like walking on glass (vs. the bipolar person whose swings are uncontrolled - it is like walking on eggshells).

If you have no choice but to live with a toxic person (or more than one, heaven forbid!) you now live in a toxic environment. Unfortunately, it would normally be the weakest persons who would be stuck in such a place. Sickness/death of various aspects of self will ensue, short of a miracle from God.


Next post: Fragile + Toxic = Disaster


04 May 2010


The next thing we think of is – handle with care. But do we? I had wanted to post about fragile mental health this week and I got a reminder. This morning I broke a lovely unusual vase that my daughter bought for me at an art show. It wasn't on purpose, but it still shattered into a million pieces on the hardwood floor. Often that is what happens with our treatment of loved ones who have what is clinically described as having "fragile mental health", which can include a number of conditions that are severe and barely under control.

Examples include:

Severe depression that has only recently responded to medications and therapies and which requires both ongoing treatment and a very supportive home/work situation (if the person is able to work).

Bipolar disorder (same as depression) but with the additional caveat of controlling the triggers for manic episodes.

Schizophrenia or other psychotic conditions, while more controllable with the newer medications, can have break-through episodes or be more intractable or not as responsive to even the most effective drugs.

    Persons with Autism spectrum disorder can be considered more fragile if they have rages or tantrums or if their ASD behaviors, e.g., self-stimulating noises, hand flapping, etc., have increased and cannot be managed with behavioral intervention and certain medications that can be helpful.

Drugs and therapy alone are not sufficient to maintain balance for a person with fragile mental health. The people in their lives need to be mindful of their condition and to do what they can to support the person. That also means taking care of their own needs so that they can handle the additional stresses the loved one brings to the relationship.

I wasn't careful this morning and the consequence was the loss of a beautiful gift. Aren't our family members and friends with special issues a gift, too? They challenge us to be the best people we can be, with God's help.


Next post: Toxic people, toxic environments

25 April 2010

One Little Bookcase!

Our local Christian Fiction writers group met at the Barnes and Noble in Chesapeake VA this Saturday. While there I checked out the titles. In this huge bookstore they had only one TINY narrow bookshelf of Christian fiction! ONE!!! I could not believe only one little bookcase of Christian fiction, most of it Amish. A local published writer, Christy Barritt, from Chesapeake, was there with us. They were able to get two copies of Kit Wilkinson's newest book and Laura Frantz's, but not Christy's (which is in my CBD basket right now). The unbelievable thing is that Regent University is just up the road from this place, one of the biggest Christian universities in the region. Only about two dozen authors were represented, total. This just reaffirms why I normally stick with CBD. Their catalogs come and they do such a great job of describing the books and also have author interviews online.

25 March 2010

Pediatric Bipolar Disorder – DSM Revision Omits

The revision of the DSM-IV does not, again, include a diagnostic category for Pediatric Bipolar Disorder. Instead, it has been proposed that a Temper Dysregulation Disorder with Dysphoria (TDD) be added, which will bring a number of young people out from the Bipolar Disorder umbrella. TDD is being mocked in the media by people who believe that children throwing temper tantrums will now have their own DSM diagnosis! (I am sure that is not the intention of those who offered this diagnostic category – what I take exception with is that there are still no pediatric BPD guidelines). This means that for likely another decade, until the next revision of the DSM, psychiatrists and psychologists working with, and diagnosing, children and adolescents with bipolar disorder will be left with no adequate guidelines. Current guidelines are for adult onset Bipolar Disorder and do not meet the specific characteristics seen with children and teens. Many practitioners end up using the diagnostic category of Mood Disorder.

For a radio interview that highlights what is happening with the DSM revisions and pediatric BPD: Scroll down to the MP3 download for the DSM revision.


Dr. and Mrs. Demetri Papolos are the premier couple addressing pediatric Bipolar Disorder. Their book, The Bipolar Child, clearly outlines the types of behaviors and emotions manifested by children who are on their way to a diagnosis of BPD. The Papolos' website is:





16 March 2010

Why Do You?

If you have ever been seriously ill or spent any kind of prolonged time in bed, you surely spent some time thinking about what you would do once you got well. Those things that are focused on probably ought to be what you do once you are on your feet (after being filtered through our God-ordained activities). I bet you weren't thinking about going to a committee meeting, volunteering for more activities, baking up a boatload of unneeded calories, or running all over creation shopping! Maybe being flat on your back even helped you, once well, to answer a resounding "No, thanks!", when asked if you would like to do something that God has not called you to do. If you're like me, you can easily create your own distractions from the goals God has given you to complete. The advantage to having had repeat episodes in the bed this past winter is that it is much easier to ask myself, "Why do you…" want to do that thing, start that project, do stuff that conflicts with what you know you need to do. How about you today? Why do you?


Dear God, May we all submit our goals and our wills to Yours. May we put You first and set up our lives so that we can minister to our spouse and our children today and to all those you have ordained for us to help. Bless our prayer life and make us fruitful for You. Amen.

15 March 2010

What Has God Called You To Do Today?

Are you so busy you forgot the first thing?


God gets the first fruits and that means our time. When we spend time in study and prayer, the rest of the day seems to go on track. In most areas of the country we can switch on a preaching show to listen to or we can go online, e.g.,, and listen to podcasts. In this day and age we can also download a bible to MP3, or purchase dramatized CDs or cassette, to listen to while making breakfast or driving to work or school.

The Word tells us that our spouses are to receive plenty of our time and attention (and that does not mean plenty of criticism or arguing!). After God, they get the fruits of our labors and our attention. That means we need to save some energy for them during the time that they are away from us. That relationship has to be nurtured and respected. If we are running all over creation doing stuff God may have never called us to do then there will be little left for our husbands and wives.

My prayer for today:

God help me to put you first in my life today and every day. Let me not neglect your Word and time spent with you in prayer and in listening. Make me the spouse you intended me to be and to walk the path you put before me in peace and joy. Amen.



06 March 2010

Itty Bitty Seats

Jets are fine, but the smaller flights going into and out of Norfolk can't even accommodate a standard size, or some even smaller, carry on pieces of luggage in the overhead bins. Consequently, the airline attendants pull them and they have to go in with the luggage underneath, hence no access to them if you need anything from the carryon. Furthermore, the single seats on one side have two arm rests on either side of the narrow seats that do not accommodate today's larger Americans and certainly not very comfy for my 6'3" football player-sized husband. Even my little eight-year-old could not comfortably lie down across the double seats when the arm rest was lifted. We had an evening flight that did not get in until around midnight. Bless his heart, Clark wiggled around, but could not accommodate his 4'7" frame on the two seats at least not for very long. And just try to walk down the aisle to the bathroom without bumping into about half of the people who are sitting on the aisle!

My colonial characters would certainly be astonished to be able to even fly across the country in one day and I am certain they would not be whining like me. That is one of the great things about writing historical fiction – it really readjusts my lack of gratitude when I ponder their situation vs. ours!

Today, thanking God for even itty bitty seats on planes that can take us through the air in relative comfort. What will our great-great-grandchildren travel in?

28 February 2010

Obedience and Special Helpers

Isn't it great when God gives us special helpers to fulfill a mission he has assigned to us to complete? Sometimes, it is clear who these people are. Perhaps there is something He has told you to do and it requires abilities that you do not possess or other characteristics you lack that are mandatory for the job. Then it is so awesome when He puts those people in our paths and they become willing and involved in the task. Our earthly angels sure keep us going when the Evil One seeks to destroy God's plan. I have always loved reading in the bible about Barnabus, who was one of those great encouragers and helpers. God knows when we require someone alongside of us in order to do His will.

Is there a special family member or friend who has helped in God's work today? If so, give them thanks today even if no one has acknowledged your work.

Or are you the one called to serve alongside? Have you ever been put on a special assignment with someone who you knew was doing the work God had called them to do? Isn't it both an awesome AND a humbling experience? There is a special affirmation God gives you when you partner with someone who is on an extra special mission from the Lord. Be SURE you understand that the Hater will come after you, too, when he sees how God is using you. Put on the full armor of God – you will need it!

09 February 2010

Colonial Dress on the Frontier

My protagonist buys a dress like this for his wife when he comes to Williamsburg. Most women on the frontier did not dress in such fancy attire. Simple dresses suitable for the many demands of frontier living were more appropriate. Homespun fabric, rather than expensive imported English cloth, was used with plant-based dyes to impart color. My hero decides his lovely wife must have a beautiful dress like this and follows several women around until he ascertains where they have purchased their finery. This is a lovely gown, don't you agree?


Hope these work!

My Favorite Frontier Blog


Check out author Laura's website and blog and sign up for her frontier newsletter!


Laura's book, The Frontiersman's Daughter, is my favorite historical book in a very long time. It is available through Amazon (see my review posted there) and through Christianbook Distributors ( The CBD reviewers must have loved her book as much as I did because they put a coffee cup next to her book listing in the current mailing that I received!



06 February 2010

Rhapsody in Red by Donn Taylor

This is a "Preston Barclay Mystery" published by Moody in 2009.

Donn Taylor nails the politics of small universities, particularly those that are in transition. Having worked in faculty positions in a medical school and a small and a medium sized regional college and university I found myself laughing out loud at the antics of his characters. I enjoy a good mystery about three times a year or so and normally I turn to the Higgins Clarks, mother and daughter. However, some of the stories in these secular books have been so creepy that I have been watching for a Christian mystery writer for these forays out of the historical fiction realm.

Dr. Preston Barclay finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation, along with a younger Wiccan faculty member. Characterization is definitely unique, with Professor Barclay having musical hallucinations. His cast of characters all have a distinct voice and are all well-developed without being distracting. Taylor does an excellent job of fitting the music to the characters and scenes. The plot took a lot of great twists and turns and Taylor definitely knows how to pull the reader along with him. I was planning to go to sleep at ten last night but HAD to finish the book. A little after one, I closed the book, satisfied with an ending that nicely tied off all the plot strings. This would be a great book for: Christian mystery readers, faculty members of universities (who will shout "someone really understands!!"), and those looking for a well-written Christian book with a delightful male character as well as a strong female protagonist.

05 February 2010



People who hoard usually have a combination of an anxiety disorder combined with some traumatic life event that has triggered this need. This typically involves a significant financial setback of some type. Persons with extreme hoarding and/or bizarre hoarding (think of some disgusting things that no one would "collect" and you get my drift) often have thought disorders as well. The deterioration in mental health makes the hoarding more prevalent and also odder.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can range from the milder forms to more extreme and debilitating, such as the hoarder of weird artifacts. Someone who has an obsessive compulsive personality vs. disorder is not, themselves, affected by their disorder. Nope – rather they bug the heck out of you! Someone who has OCD is impacted by the disorder themselves and is distressed by their OCD behaviors. Someone with OC personality may only be annoyed that you are asking them to change their behavior, which to THEM is not a problem. Hoarders tend to fall in the personality disordered group. Most are not troubled by their "collecting" problem.

Compulsive hoarders have difficulty discarding items and what might be trash to someone else may be something that they think they might "need" later. As with other forms of OC, there is a component of perfectionism in many with this disorder.

Animal hoarders are their own breed (pun intended!). They seem to draw strength from the animals. Frequently interpersonal skills are poor and the animal hoarder feels more comfortable with their menagerie than with people.

It is my professional opinion that brain mapping would be very useful in further delineating brain functions affected by hoarding and its subtypes. Since decision making is one area that is a problem, it would seem that executive functions would be diminished. Thus, ADHDers should have a higher incidence of this disorder. Also, since executive functions are impacted first in many neurodegenerative disorders, including conditions such as Parkinson's, one may see some of this behavior displayed in the early stages of brain impact and this behavior would be atypical (rather than an increase in this type of behavior) for the individual.



03 February 2010

Questions for the Psychologist

Q: How might the health department get called in when there are strong odors coming from someone's house?

A: Children: My experience has been that the first question would be whether there are children in the house. If there are then social services can be called. They would then notify the public health department. Typically, a plan would be developed and a timeline set for the owner to clear the house. If the health hazards constitute a significant threat for the children, they will be removed to foster care. I have only seen this happen once in over twenty years of practice. If they remain in the home and a plan is developed, and if it is not followed, the social worker may then need to get a judge to issue an order and a consequence. Social workers may come once a week to assess progress. I have had a client who would schedule appointments on a day she knew the social worker was coming and then would tell her that she was at the therapist's office with the children. It might be another week before the social worker got back out again. In some cases, a team of helpers may come in to assist the parent in getting the home safe and clean again, but this would be rare, in my experience. Noncompliance with a judge's time lines would result in removal of the children.

Adults: If the state has elder laws and it is an elderly person, again social services may intervene. However, let's say it isn't and there is a stench coming from a home. Normally, there would need to be someone with mandated reporter status for this to be taken seriously. That would include, but not be limited to: social workers, psychologists, ministers, or health care providers. Social services would not be involved in this scenario but public health and law enforcement.


Later this week: Hoarders

25 January 2010

New E-Zine

The first edition of the My Book Therapy Voices ezine is hot off the clouds! Lisa Jordan is the editor. Check it out at I was happy to be able to contribute a little (check out the column "Journey with the Voices"!) Susan May Warren created the Mybooktherapy website as a forum for writers. Log into and go to the Writers Blog and then the Forum to join this dynamic network. Susan and Rachel Hauck offer many different services and support through the website, including Monday night chats, critique groups, editorial services, and much more. Check it out!

17 January 2010

Whipple for bile duct cancer

Whipple Procedure (Pancreaticoduodenectomy)

The Whipple procedure, also known as a pancreaticoduodenectomy, involves removing the gallbladder, head of the pancreas, part of the duodenum (part of the small intestine), part of the stomach and the common bile duct. Once those organs are removed, the pancreatic duct, bile duct and stomach are connected to the jejunum (another part of the small intestine) in order for pancreatic juices, bile and food to be drained into the small bowel. This procedure can be performed for a variety of reasons, most commonly cancer of the pancreas, common bile duct or duodenum.

This information is from the UC Irvine Healthcare website.


Please pray for my mother who is having this procedure done tomorrow morning at UC Irvine, and for Dr. Imagawa, her surgeon, and the team. Thank you!

11 January 2010

Only Colonial Fort in Ohio

It seems hard to believe that there was only one fort in the back country of Ohio during the American revolution. On the hand, since settlers were not "supposed to" be going beyond the boundaries specified at the end of the French-Indian war, any colonial presence there would be a threat both to the native Americans. Colonial Virginia militia went up through Ohio to get to northern British forts.


05 January 2010

Finding Poliana

I think I may have found a child we sponsored fifteen years ago. We agreed to do so until she was an adult, after attending a Sandi Patty concert in Buffalo for World Vision. For several years we faithfully exchanged letters and sent our sponsorship money in. Then the ministry rather abruptly (as far as my awareness of goals) stopped their sponsorship of Poliana's village. I was heartsick as there was no way to keep in touch with her. I contacted them and asked if I could sponsor her through school, but was told she was too young to be sent from the village in Brazil. Tonight I found Poliana Dos Reis De Deus of Brazil listed as a student at a school there. I am praying it is our Poliana and that she is doing find. Praying we will some day be in contact with her again. Her birthdate (June 28, 1987) was two years earlier than our daughter's. The internet has made this a smaller world, and I am thankful for that!

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