Monday, October 20, 2014

The Next Adventure

As I type this, it is Sunday afternoon, around two o'clock. It's cold and windy out, and my friend swears he saw a few snowflakes.  I don't mind this melancholy moment because the leaves are brightly lit up against the fading gray skies.
I am on an adventure.
The only problem is that there isn't an end in sight.
In exactly 7 1/2 days; 162 hours, the large moving truck will park alongside our house, the doors will roll open, and large, capable firefighter friends will move us.
I am packing with fervor and anticipation and angst.
Our little home has been our home for the longest time...7 1/2 years.  That's the longest I've been in one place since I was little.
I'm trying not to let the memories cloud my vision but they come so fast and fall so heavily.
The board we ripped out of the kitchen wall to preserve, because our son's growing height is marked in fading pen.
The dent in the wall when we brought up the beautiful wooden antique desk I found.
The circle out front where my son learned to run, to ride his bike with training wheels and without.  Where he learned to catch a sponge ball, a rubber ball, a softball, a football.  Where he took his first fishing rod and practiced casting onto the pavement in shorts are bare feet.  Where every winter we would beg the city plowman to push all the snow onto our lawn so we'd have our own mountain to build tunnels and forts and dips to sled down.  Where I threw the ball, three times a day for our aging lab and she'd carry it faithfully back to get her cookie.
The backyard that held a decrepit deck, then patio stones, then a tree fort with its own rope bridge and zip line, then a bigger inflatable pool with noodles to spit water at each other.  With the growing number of bird feeders because I love to watch my cheerful chickadees, my flirting golden finches and my curious nuthatches.
The sunroom that was so cold to be in until my husband installed a heated floor, and then my son would pull off his socks and lie down.  Every spring we stuffed more tables into it so I could grow even more tomatoes, sunflowers, echinacea and peppers.
My son's room where he graduated from a crib, to a toddler bed, to a bunkbed.
Our room that we've painted three times, with its gigantic snuggly bed, perfect for watching movies with popcorn on a Friday night.
The countless bubble baths with spray bottles, crayons and lego toys.
The kitchen that we redid twice, with its hundreds of meals, and perhaps as many guests.

I'm not normally a nostalgic person. Sure, I'll find the old photo album, or a box labelled 'memories' and I'm gone for hours.  But I usually press on, looking for the next thing, the next adventure, where are we going next?

And I think nostalgia has crept on me because perhaps I am to be grateful for everything I had, and everything I have now.
Because in 7 1/2 days, 162 hours, we are filling a moving van and we do not have a destination. We know that we are going to a friend's farm house, a house with many rooms and we will only be there for a few days. But we don't know where after that.
It's been a long and trying process of trying to buy a house.  I shake my head in disbelief when I realize that we are trying to buy house number 10.  Something always happened. This time, we lost house #9 two weeks after we sold ours, giving us only 3 weeks to find a new one. The owner changed his mind.  And we found another great house but.. banks aren't as fast as they should be when it comes to buying a farm. So what do we do?  Do we wait?  Do we set something up to rent? But then they'll want a year's lease, and we don't want to do that. Do we? I mean, we could go anywhere, but we have a dog, and an idiot cat.

I have no idea.

I know God has us. How could He not?  And while He is allowing it to be very difficult to pack (what goes to storage? Where are the winter clothes? Which kitchen supplies do we need?), I am filled with peace and nostalgia.  This was a good home.  A very good home.  It was loved.

And it loved us back.






Jenn Kelly is an adventure-seeker who will one day, write another book.  


Sunday, October 19, 2014

SUNDAY EDITION


Coming Up This Week

Monday

Jenn Kelly

Tuesday

Sara Goff

Wednesday

Ufuoma Daniella Ojo

Thursday

Paula Vince

Friday Devotion

Shirley Corder: Daily Word Limit

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Book Releases


Christine Lindsay's historical romance set in India, Veiled at Midnight, Book 3 of Twilight of the British Raj series, is an October 2014 release from WhiteFire Publishing.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Upcoming Book Releases

Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, Her Tycoon Hero, will be a November 2014 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents.

Sandra Orchard’s romantic suspense set in Washington State, USA, Identity Withheld, will be a November 2014 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Sweetened with Honey, Book 3 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in November 2014.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Georgia, USA, Hidden Agenda, Book 3 in her Southern Crimes series, will be a January 2015 release from Revell.

Donna Fletcher Crow's murder mystery set in England, A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary, book 4 the Monastery Murders series, ebook only available now, print coming in January 2015.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Paris, France, Taken, will be a February 2015 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, Winning Over the Heiress, will be a February 2015 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Dandelions for Dinner, Book 4 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in spring 2015.

Sandra Orchard’s romantic mystery set in Niagara, Canada, title TBA, Book 3 in her Port Aster’s Secrets series, will be a June 2015 release from Revell.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2015 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Friday, October 17, 2014

DEVOTION: Teaching in Parables ~ by Judith Robl


Matthew 13:1-23

Jesus frequently taught in parables. He uses the parables as concrete illustrations of intangible principles. Those who hear the parable and can make the connection between the tangible and the intangible are the ones to whom He is actually speaking.

That sounds exclusive or elitist, like He was speaking in code simply for self-aggrandizement. That is not really the case.

God wants our hearts softened towards Him and towards the people around us. When Jesus quotes the passage from Isaiah, he is quoting from the Tanakh version. These are the scriptures many of Jesus’ hearers would have known.

From the beginning of His teaching ministry, Jesus quoted the Old Testament scriptures that the Jews of that day would have been familiar with. He did this, not because He needed the bolstering of that authority, but because it was the authority His hearers knew. They needed that assurance that His teaching came from the correct source.

When He taught in parables, some people “got it” the first time around. Others had to think about it before they could come to the proper conclusion. Others simply dismissed it as a cute story.

Hmmm… How many times do we come away from church, remembering the preacher’s illustration as simply a cute story, forgetting the principle contained therein?

Father, God,

Help us to tune our ears to Your words. Open our eyes to see Your instructions clearly. Soften our hearts toward You that we might turn and repent and be healed.
In Jesus’ most precious name.
Amen.


JUDITH ROBL is the founder of Reflected Light Ministries and speaks to women’s groups about prayer, forgiveness, and drawing closer to God. Trained as a secondary level English teacher, Judith has a heart for mentoring. She and her husband, Martin, have been married fifty years and have four children who have presented them with nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Her book, As Grandma Says, is a devotional gift book, incorporating her grandmother's adages with an appropriate scripture, a pertinent life lesson, and a word of prayer. Visit her at her website or on Facebook.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Vegas Vacation (& eBook Giveaway)



Lies and deceit, murder and mayhem…what else can you expect in Sin City?

Former protective services officer, Sgt. Martin Ames, is five weeks short of medical retirement from the Vegas PD when he lands one last case: spoiled English heiress, Lady Tamlyn Bradshaw, whose bodyguard is hospitalized with suspected food poisoning.

Tamlyn is on holiday, her first without her father and his ever present bodyguards. She wants to have fun, not spend the time stuck in a hotel room with a disabled cop, even if he is tall, dark and disturbingly handsome.

When food poisoning becomes murder, passions and tempers flare as Martin attempts to keep Tamlyn safe from the assailant who gains everything on her death.


Clare Revell, it’s my pleasure to welcome you to International Christian Fiction Writers today.

CLARE: Thank you. It’s lovely to be here on yet another side of a different pond :)

Please tell us how long you’ve been writing.

CLARE: Since I was five. I used to rewrite fairy stories – usually Red Riding Hood, so my penchant with real villains began a long time ago. Then I turned to fanfic, Blake’s Seven, Star Trek, Stargate SG1. Then I added my own characters to those stories and from there launched into my own plots.

You have an amazing publishing career with Pelican Book Group. How many books have you published with them?

CLARE: My first book was published in 2010. Since then I have 20 published with another 18 contracted and 3 with them in hope (wow… I hadn’t actually added them up until now…)

That is a huge accomplishment! Well done!

Now, you’ve been known to work on more than one manuscript at a time. How do you manage that and not get your characters muddled?

CLARE: I cast each book and print off a photo of hero and heroine. So it’s really like watching several different TV shows and not getting them muddled up. EG Eastenders, The Bill, Casualty, Star Trek. 

Earlier this year, you published the final book in a seven book series of the Monday to Sunday’s Child offering readers a romantic suspense for every day of the week. Currently you’re writing on a twelve book contract for 2015. You are one ‘series’ of a lady :)

Please tell us a briefly about these series, and any others you are working on.

CLARE: The Monday’s Child series is summed up in the poem I wrote, with help. Each line is the tag line for that particular book. They cover witness protection, serial killers, and several exciting rescues with the RNLI. The latter I had a blast researching. Saturday’s Child is based on real life events and was incredibly difficult to write.


Monday’s Child must hide for protection,
Tuesday’s Child tenders direction
Wednesday’s Child grieves for his soul
Thursday’s Child chases the whole
Friday's Child is a man obsessed
Saturday’s Child might be possessed
And Sunday’s Child on life’s seas is tossed
Awaiting the Lifeboat that rescues the lost.


The new series also has a poem that sums up each one:


Carnations in January shake the foundations
Violets in February are an aid to salvation
Daffodils in March bring betrayal and loss
Sweet peas in April consume all the dross
Lily of the Valley in May brings danger untold
Roses in June show hope in a heart filled with gold
Water lilies in July a town will submerge
Gladioli in August love from the ash will emerge
Forget-me-nots in September are on the front line of fear
Marigolds in October will test her career 
Chrysanthemums in November show the burden of choice
Holly in December lets a broken family rejoice

These I’m having fun with. Not all villains are men with guns as my tsunami and erupting volcano show. Nicola did an amazing job with the covers – and used my cast list to perfection.


It all sounds very exciting and a lot of hard work. But there’s another series from Pelican Book Group that has me, and readers, excited—that’s the Passport to Romance series released earlier this year from White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint. Your book, Vegas Vacation, releases tomorrow. Having just released Helsinki Sunrise myself, I know how excited you must be.

What inspired Martin and Tamlyn’s story and the location of Las Vegas?

CLARE: My visit to Vegas to stay with a friend in 2005 had a lot to do with it. We did the trip around the Vegas monopoly board that Tamlyn wants to do. We went to Mount Charleston, the Bellagio. It’s an amazing city. It just got me thinking it’d be fun to base a story there and this was the result. It sat on my hard drive for several years after completion and was rewritten several times. I told Lisa, my editor, about a sword fighting scene I’d written set in Vegas and sent it to her. She suggested a passport to romance submission but there wasn’t a prompt for it. She gave me three prompts – funnily enough all in the book anyway. That sword fight ended up being edited out but it’s been saved for another story.



Before we say goodbye, do you have any plans to take your readers to more exotic locations with Passport to Romance?

CLARE: I submitted one set in Wales back in August, so we’ll just have to see what happens.

Clare, thank you so much for being my guest today. It has been really interesting getting to know more about you and your new release.


Vegas Vacation can be purchased from tomorrow at Pelican Book Group (half price release day special), Amazon, Christianbook.com, and Barnes & Noble.

View the Passport to Romance Book Trailer.

For one lucky reader, Clare is giving away a copy of Vegas Vacation (in eBook format only). All you have to do to be eligible for the draw is leave a comment with your email address before October 24. Winners will be announced in the Sunday Edition of October 26.

And just to tempt you to purchase Vegas Vacation, here’s a small extract:

“Martin, you’re the only person in the department with the security clearances and the experience to do this.”

“I haven’t worked protective services for over three years and for good reason. I’m five weeks from early retirement, and I don’t want to spend them running around after a spoiled heiress.”

“Did I ask what you wanted? This woman’s father is royalty and I just got off the phone with him—”

Tamlyn cringed in her seat, her cheeks burning. This was a bad idea. She’d go back to the hotel and trust God to protect her. No one knew who she was; she was just one more tourist in a city of thousands.

The angry voice continued its tirade in the office. “Royalty? In that case, I’m sure she can afford a replacement bodyguard. Even better…ask the British Embassy to provide one. My days of babysitting people are over.”

“Unless you want to be fired five weeks before your retirement date, your assignment for the next three weeks is to be Lady Bradshaw’s bodyguard. There’s the door. She’s by your desk waiting for you.”

The door flung open, and Tamlyn glanced down. She focused her gaze on her fingernails. Maybe she could just pretend she hadn’t heard.

Heavy steps crossed the room as muted conversations started up again. They stopped by the desk. “Lady Bradshaw, I presume?”


She looked up into the most intense, glittering pair of blue eyes she’d ever seen. His hair was pulled back in a long black ponytail, and he leaned on a cane. They had to be kidding. A disabled cop? His navy blue shirt and tie at least gave an appearance of professionalism. Although the gun holster on his shoulder made her shiver.

She stood, grateful he couldn’t read her mind, because she was already regretting that first thought about his gorgeous eyes. She held out a hand. “I am. You must be Sgt. Ames.”


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Clare writes inspirational romance, usually of a suspenseful nature. Her books are available through her publisher Pelican Book Group and Amazon. She is married with three kids and lives in the UK. She loves watching sci-fi, crime drama, cross stitching, reading and baking.




Connect with Clare:
Website
Blog
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Marion Ueckermann’s passion for writing was sparked in 2001 when she moved to Ireland with her husband and two sons. Since then she has published devotional articles and stories in Winners, The One Year Devotional of Joy and Laughter (Tyndale House Publishers), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miraculous Messages from Heaven, and her debut novelette, Helsinki Sunrise (White Rose Publishing, a Pelican Book Group imprint, Passport to Romance series). Her second Passport to Romance, Oslo Overtures, will be published in 2015.

Marion blogs for International Christian Fiction Writers and Beauty for Ashes. She belongs to Christian Writers of South Africa and American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Pretoria East, South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

Connect with Marion Ueckermann:
Watch the Helsinki Sunrise book trailer on YouTube

* Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

Permission to use images obtained.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Stories from the Beach

My sister-in-law, Sandy, is very creative and loves to craft presents for her family and friends.
A few weeks ago she and my brother visited us en route to Ireland. Much to my delight, she gifted me with this picture.


Her materials? Things most of us would throw away—debris from the beach near her home, an old magazine, a scrap from a dry palm frond and a length of old skirting board.

As first I looked at the picture and enjoyed its intrinsic beauty. But after a few days I found myself comparing it to a favourite novel—you know, one of those books which you cannot put down because you just have to read one more page to see what happens, then one more chapter, then another, then another . . .

The two characters sitting on their wooden bench intrigued me. Sure they were just four little pebbles, but those pebbles had been tumbled and buffeted in the sea, then sand-blasted until they were smooth and rounded. Life with all its ups and downs had probably smoothed the couple's rough edges and shaped their personalities. Backstory!

Who were they? Undercover cops? A couple watching their dog play in the surf? Colleagues on a lunch break? Friends taking a vacation together?  Smugglers waiting to pick up contraband? The possibilities were endless.

What ifs sprang to mind. What if a helicopter crashed in front of them? What if a diver emerged from the sea? What if a diamond necklace washed up at their feet? What if a beached jellyfish stung their dog and it had a severe allergic reaction and couldn't breathe? What if that dog was a guide dog? What if . . .

And then there was the heart. Perhaps this was the start of a new romance and the book ended with "and they lived happily ever after". Or maybe not. 

What were those people feeling? Were they grieving? Were they excited about a new project? Were they jealous of someone's success? Were they anxious? Were they . . . 

I want to care about the characters when I read. I want to bite my nails when the protagonist is making a serious mistake, hold my breath when she is in danger and sigh with satisfaction when she overcomes obstacles to fulfil a lifelong ambition.

The single word "faith" stood out. I love reading inspirational books which deepen my faith in God and help me to have a closer relationship with Him. After all, Jesus used stories to teach His followers. Would these characters follow God's way or chase after their own desires. What could I learn from their lives?

The picture captured a lovely setting. I could smell the salt laden air, feel the hot sand between my toes and lose myself in the constant swirl of the water on the beach. 

My sister-in-law sanded patches of white paint off the skirting board to reveal the blue undercoat, which added depth to the sea so that it looked real. Aha, there's the subtext lurking beneath the story, adding an extra dimension to the novel.

Thank you for my seascape, Sandy, it's a picture to treasure.

Note to blog readers:

These are a few of my thoughts. Now it's your turn? What do you see in Sandy's picture? 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

People You Meet and Places You See


One of the advantages of living in Australia is the diversity of scenery. Living near the coast I spend a lot of time these days snapping shots of our beautiful beaches.
 
Since so many of those live in other countries I thought I’d treat you to a sample of the beauty and diversity of our land, so this will be more a pictorial blog than a word blog.

On a recent visit to Melbourne for a few days I snapped some of the interesting buildings and features of that city.

 



 
Over my time in ICFW I have met a number of writers from different countries. It has been interesting to see shots of those other countries or of places visited by the writers on this blog. It’s a way of broadening our experience and knowledge without having to leave the house. That is one of things I love about reading too, getting the chance to experience another country without having all the hassles of plane trips and long hours getting there.

A recent trip to Bowral while it was the Tulip festival time, here are some photos of the tulips.
 
Though members in this group live in different countries there are some things we have in common. That has been one of the joys since being here on International Christian Fiction Writers. We all have a faith in our Lord and conveying that hope to others. For many of us that has been through Christian fiction or at least fiction with a world view. For others it is through poetry or devotionals. One of the other joys of belonging to a group like this has been being able to support each other in prayer. It’s lovely when someone shares a prayer need and we are able to play about it with them and for them.


It’s interesting too to pick up on other people’s interests whether that is geo-caching, photography, history or whatever else it might be.  In this blog you’ve picked up a little in my very amateur photography. I hope you have enjoyed seeing a little more of Australia.
Over time, Dale has written fiction, poetry, children’s fiction, bible studies and Sunday school lessons. More information about Dale can be found at www.daleharcombe.com or on her Write and Read with Dale blog http://www.livejournal.com/users/orangedale/
 
 

 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Thanksgiving in Canada


 Today is Thanksgiving Day in Canada.  A time to celebrate the harvest, walk among crisp fallen leaves, and admire the late blooms still brightening the garden. This weekend is the last hurrah of summer, before we settle in for a long, Canadian winter.
    Thanksgiving is one of my favourite holidays.  No presents to buy.  No cards to write.  No concerts to prepare.   The garden supplies most of the food.  The decorations are easy and simple, a potted flower, a couple of pumpkins, a basket of home-made jam.  
   And turkey leftovers to last the rest of the week.  What's not to like?

   This year, with our streak of incredible weather, a surprise second crop in the strawberry patch and an autumn coloured maple tree outside my back door, the holiday is even better.

   Living so close to the USA, I'm aware that our thanksgiving comes more than a month before theirs, so I decided to look into the origins of our festivity.  Turns out Canada can trace thanksgiving back to the 1587 voyage of Martin Frobisher, an English explorer searching for the Northwest Passage.  On his third voyage into what is present day Nunavut, the expedition suffered from ice and storms and the loss of one of their ships along with much of the building materials they had brought with them.  The fleet was scattered and didn't meet up again until they drew anchor in Frobisher Bay.  At that time, a preacher who had sailed with the expedition, preached a sermon exhorting his fellow seamen to be "thankful to God for their strange and miraculous deliverance in those so dangerous places. . ."
    Thus, the first thanksgiving in Canada was held 43 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock.
    In 1604, French settlers with Samuel de Champlain  in New France, now the Province of Quebec, held huge feasts of thanksgiving, sharing their bounty with local First Nations.  Years later, following the Seven Years War, New France was ceded to England and Halifax, a British outpost, celebrated with a Thanksgiving day.
    While Canadian customs are similar to European harvest festivals, it was United Empire Loyalists fleeing the American revolution who brought the tradition of turkey and pumpkin pie to their new homes.
    The date of Canadian thanksgiving has shifted about over time, occurring anywhere between April and November and often coinciding with the end of hostilities of some form or other.  The first Thanksgiving Day after Confederation in 1867 was on April 5, 1872 to celebrate the recovery of the Prince of Wales from a serious illness.   It wasn't until 1879 that Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday and even then the date wasn't fixed, although it usually occurred in late October or early November.  Finally, in 1957, Parliament declared the second Monday in October the official date of Thanksgiving.  
     Since I love to set my thanksgiving table with the fruits of my own garden, the date works perfectly for me.  At church too, we celebrate our blessings by loading the communion table with samples of the harvest.  We sing hymns like "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come," and "We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land."
    


  In the USA, shopping has become a major part of the thanksgiving celebrations and I notice merchants here are attempting to lure us into the malls over the long weekend, but our holiday is farther away from Christmas so the impulse to begin the Christmas shopping spree is not as great.
   
     In writing this post, I was amazed to discover how a holiday I believed was a simple celebration of the harvest, had so many political overtones. Huh!  
    
     So, what about the rest of the world?  Do you celebrate the harvest?  Do you call it Thanksgiving?  Is it a religious occasion?  Are there special foods or activities associated with the day?  Do Aussie's celebrate Thanksgiving in the spring?  


visit me at www.alicevaldal.com  where I talk about writing and gardening and singing and cats.

If you'd like to read my books, they're here.