Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Visit With Trish Perry


SHARON: Thank you for joining us again today Trish. I've got a few more questions for you. Can you tell us when and how you got interested in writing?

TRISH: I wrote a little here and there when I was younger—horrible, melodramatic stuff. But I also painted a little here and there. And danced. And sang. Also rather horribly, relative to what professionals do. Clearly, though, my right hemisphere was constantly seeking expression. It wasn’t until college that I had lived enough life to have something to write about. By then I had read a lot of novels and experienced people and hardships and plenty of wonderful life changes. My college professors liked what I wrote and encouraged me to write more. I prayed like the dickens about that, because I found I loved the writing, but it was a different direction than what I had envisioned. Still, I wanted to do what God meant for me to do. His guidance was awesome. So I took a lot of writing classes and joined a local writers’ group and read everything I could about the craft. I wrote for about ten years before getting my first book contract.

SHARON: Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?

TRISH: You bet. But that gets better with each published book, to some degree. Not only do you learn more with each book, you develop a better sense of having answered God’s call. I would like to publish books until the moment God calls me home. But I also know that He might have something else in mind for me at some point. Certainly that’s happened to me before. So I just keep leaning on His guidance about the writing. When I do that, I have a sense of peace about my work.

SHARON: Where do you write? Do you have a dedicated office or a corner or nook in a room?

TRISH: Yes, I have my computer desk and filing cabinets set up in a room just off the kitchen. It’s the brightest room in the house, with the most windows, and I love hanging out here. When I first moved into this home, I imagined setting up my office in one of the bedrooms upstairs. But this spot is in the center of everything. I would have felt sorry for myself eventually, being shut up in a little room upstairs. The only drawback with my current set up is the proximity of food . . .

SHARON: What is a typical writing day for you?

TRISH: This changes over time, but right now I try to hit the treadmill before I do anything else. After I shower, I have my coffee and a little breakfast while I answer emails. Then I write (on ideal writing days) until I break for lunch. I do my Bible study during lunch. Then back to work until it’s time for me to make dinner. I try to reserve my evenings for family time, unless my deadline demands otherwise. And I bunch my outside errands together whenever possible.

SHARON: What gave you the inspiration for Beach Dreams? How was this story placed on your heart?

TRISH: I was dying to write this story. It was the third book I had in mind involving the characters in my first two novels (The Guy I’m Not Dating and Too Good to Be True). When Harvest House asked me to write the third book in The Beach House series, my editor was the one who thought about combining the two series ideas. I was thrilled to get the chance to write Jeremy and Tiffany’s story. Jeremy was such a charming, sweet man, and readers kept asking me about a story for him. They also asked about Tiffany, who had accepted the Lord near the end of Too Good to Be True. She was the bad girl, so naturally, curiosity was aroused about how she might change. I had so much fun writing Beach Dreams.

SHARON: How much research and plotting do you do before you're ready to write a book?

TRISH: Every book is different, and the required research changes, too. Sometimes I need to research a geographic area, sometimes a profession, sometimes things as diverse as psychological issues, west coast colleges, Russian orphanages, types of jewelry, or hot restaurants. Much of the research needs to be done before I can begin writing, but most of it comes along in the midst of the writing. With regard to plotting, I typically start with my basic beginning and end. Then I do a lot of character development before I decide how to get from Once upon a time to The End. The characters help me a lot in seeing each step of the plot. I write chapter summaries that are only a sentence or two long, and I often find the need for additional chapters as I move along my loose outline. So I’m a plotter, but there’s an element of seat-of-the-pants about my method, too.

SHARON: In Beach Dreams, what was your favorite scene to write?

TRISH: This is such a hard one to answer. I enjoyed different scenes for different reasons. One of my favorite scenes in Beach Dreams was one that involved Tiffany and her father having a very emotional conversation near the end. For that one, I put on my acting hat and got so into Tiffany’s head and heart that her emotions, thoughts, and words were mine (assuming my circumstances were as hers were in that scene). I loved that scene.

SHARON: How has being published changed your life?

TRISH: Being published has been one of my life’s greatest joys. Certainly getting my books published isn’t as important as raising children or leading someone to Christ. But this has been one of the few things about which I’ve been certain of God’s calling. Don’t we all want to honor Him as best we can? When I received His guidance about writing, I felt this was something I could do to serve Him. And when I hear from a reader that one of my books was an answer to prayer at that point in her life, my life changes. It becomes even more blessed than before.

SHARON: What advice can you give new authors seeking publication?

TRISH: Give your writing efforts to God every day. Place the results in His hands. Then do all you can to write an excellent book. That includes reading, learning, getting connected with other writers (through groups such as American Christian Fiction Writers), attending conferences whenever possible, and writing. Don’t be one of those “authors” who would like to have written a novel. Be a real author who is writing a novel, even if you’re only able to write a paragraph here and there between all of your other responsibilities. And once you’ve had your manuscript critiqued to death by fellow writers, seek the representation of a good agent. (Conferences are excellent venues for meeting agents.) Be aware that rejection is part of the business. Rejection is not God’s way of telling you to give up. If you’re giving your efforts to God every day, He’s going to guide you deeper into the writing or gently toward something else you can do for Him. He won’t destroy your heartfelt efforts at writing for Him. If He doesn’t want you writing anymore, He’s going to make something else more attractive to you.

SHARON: Have you received a particularly memorable reader response?

TRISH: Quite a few. One that comes to mind was from a reader who was particularly troubled about a relationship in her life. She went to the bookstore and prayed that God would show her what book to read. She turned around and saw one of my books. It happened to deal with the very relationship issue she faced, and she felt that God used my book to give her guidance. Isn’t that amazing? I couldn’t ask for a greater blessing as an author.


SHARON: Let's thank Trish for joining us today and giving us another peek into her writing life.

NOTE: We will have a drawing at the end of the week. All you have to do is leave a comment on my blog. Trish will send one blessed person a copy of Beach Dreams.

Monday, July 27, 2009

BEACH DREAMS

By Trish Perry

Why Trish wrote this book:

By the time I finished Too Good to Be True, I had developed a strong fondness for Jeremy and a sense of intrigue about Tiffany. I didn't want to leave them hanging, "unfinished" in the fictional world. I was pleased to discover many readers felt the same way. So I began a novel about them, set in Northern Virginia, as were The Guy I'm Not Dating and Too Good to Be True. Shortly thereafter, Harvest House asked me to set the novel in San Diego, so they could release it as the third book in the San-Diego-based Beach House series. The change in setting put an entirely new twist on Jeremy and Tiffany's story, and I'm thrilled with the results! I hope readers will be, too.

The Blurb:

Tiffany LeBoeuf seriously needs to get away. She has just lost her mother to cancer, and she returns home to find herself fired for devoting the past three months to her mother's care. Grieving and stressed, Tiffany seeks rest for her body and soul at a cozy beach house in San Diego.

A scheduling mix-up causes a double booking, and Tiffany ends up sharing the house with a woman named Eve. When Eve's boyfriend, Jeremy Beckett, arrives to surprise Eve, he surprises Tiffany as well. Jeremy and Tiffany share a brief history, and it's not a pretty one. They also share a mutual attraction, and it's not a comfortable one.

Jeremy settles in at the beach house next door, intent on making his love life right. What happens after that surprises them all.

What Others Say:

"This novel is a romantic comedy with enough humour to keep me laughing between the poignant parts. Miss Perry introduces wonderfully real characters from the hero and heroine to the friends and family who surround them.

It's the story of new believer, Tiffany LeBoueuf, who is trying to outrun her old reputation of a spoiled brat. She used to be a party girl but now, as she struggles to find herself on the narrow path, she hasn't got a social life. Nothing. Zip. And then, she meets a good looking guy who buzzes her attraction meter. Too bad he already has a girlfriend. It shows how much she's changed when she doesn't go after Jeremy knowing he has a girlfriend - a fact that wouldn't have stopped her before...

Jeremy is the kind of guy with staying power. He's loyal. It doesn't matter what happens with his girlfriend, he's going to stick with her because he's a loyal guy. When he meets Tiffany, he remembers her as a person who belittled a friend of his a year or so ago. To him, she's a shallow, rude person and he doesn't understand why his toes curl when she's near him. But, he's sticking with his girlfriend because that's what he does.

The story takes us to a beach house in San Diego where Tiffany and her father go for a vacation. Due to a mix-up, Jeremy's girlfriend is staying in the same house. Jeremy shows up. Is there anyone left to join them? Yes, the more the merrier. But, why is Jeremy's girlfriend never home? That leaves him more time to get to know Tiffany.

The book is flooded with secrets, emotions and epiphanies.

It's Book 3 in the Beach House series." ~~Anita Draper

My Take:
The setting, the Beach House becomes a character in this story. It first repels and then draws in the guests who visit there.

The owner Julian and his unlikely friend Zeke are a wonderful addition to the Beach House Series. I didn't read the first two in the series by Sally John yet, so each of these stories can stand alone. That is always good to know when reading a series.

The "Message" I got from this story is although it is hard to live down your "pre-salvation" reputation, God can heal relationships and friendships can grow between unlikely people. God can make our differences seem small after all.

If you want a spiritual lift, I recommend Beach Dreams.

NOTE: We will have a drawing at the end of the week. All you have to do is leave a comment on my blog. Trish will send one blessed person a copy of Beach Dreams.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Christians

By Maya Angelou


'A woman's heart should be so hidden in Christ


That a man should have to seek Him first to find her.'


When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not shouting 'I'm clean livin''


I'm whispering 'I was lost, Now I'm found and forgiven.'


When I say... 'I am a Christian' I don't speak of this with pride.


I'm confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.


When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not trying to be strong.


I'm professing that I'm weak and need His strength to carry on.


When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not bragging of success.


I'm admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.


When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not claiming to be perfect,


My flaws are far too visible but, God believes I am worth it.


When I say... 'I am a Christian' I still feel the sting of pain..


I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.


When I say... 'I am a Christian' I'm not holier than thou,


I'm just a simple sinner Who received God's good grace, somehow!

Monday, July 20, 2009

EXPOSURE

by Brandilyn Collins

About the author:

Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling novelist known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense®. These harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline "Don't forget to b r e a t h e . . ."® Brandilyn's first book, A Question of Innocence, was a true crime published by Avon in 1995.
Its promotion landed her on local and national TV and radio, including the Phil Donahue and Leeza talk shows. Brandilyn's awards for her novels include the ACFW Book of the Year (three times), Inspirational Readers' Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice.

Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive book on fiction-writing techniques, Getting Into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn From Actors (John Wiley & Sons). The Writer magazine named Getting into Character one of the best books on writing published in 2002.

When she's not writing, Brandilyn can be found teaching the craft of fiction at writers' conferences. She and her family divide their time between homes in the California Bay Area and northern Idaho.

The Blurb:

When your worst fear comes true.

Someone is watching Kaycee Raye. But who will believe her? Everyone
knows she’s a little crazy. Kaycee’s popular syndicated newspaper
column pokes fun at her own paranoia and multiple fears. The police in
her small town are well aware she makes money writing of her
experiences. Worse yet, she has no proof of the threats. Pictures of a
dead man mysteriously appear in her home—then vanish before police
arrive. Multisensory images flood Kaycee’s mind. Where is all this
coming from?

Maybe she is going over the edge.

High action and psychological suspense collide in this story of terror,
twists, and desperate faith. The startling questions surrounding Kaycee
pile high. Her descent to answers may prove more than she can survive.

What Others Say:

"Kaycee Raye is scared of...well...everything. All of her life she has struggled with paranoia and irrational fears, something she believes was passed down from her troubled mother. Kaycee has found a way to deal with the fear by writing a column that has taken on a life of its own and has turned Kaycee into a household name. Up until now the column has been both fun and therapeutic as she has found a way to connect with readers who share many of the same fears and experiences. Unfortunately for Kaycee, someone out there is watching her and waiting for just the right moment to unleash the greatest fear she has ever known.

To say that Brandilyn Collins is prolific would be an understatement. You would think that a writer who cranks out a novel every few months would sooner or later hit the wall and lose their edge. It's bound to happen right? Guess again. If Collins has proven anything to me it's that she is not only a master of her craft, but there literally seems to be no end to the depth of her talent.

Exposure has many of the elements that we have come to expect from Collins: intensity, tension, high-caliber suspense, and engaging mystery. It's all there and once again works well. We are also treated to a unique story telling device that really propels the narrative along. While I figured out the twist early on, never did the story lose steam in my mind. Collins knows how to grab readers early on and she never gives us a moment to even consider letting go.

Where Brandilyn Collins always excels is her ability to bring us strong spiritual insight through what her characters experience. Many fans will be able to relate and sympathize with Kaycee's struggles in this story and will be moved by her journey to overcome. Collins once again delivers a pulse pounding story that will have you on the edge of your seat and will leave you desperate for more. "~~Jake Chism "www.FictionAddict.com"

My Take:

Kaycee's paranoia and fear should make her hard to sympathize with. Brandilyn's writing skill kicks in right away and the reader is rooting for Kaycee to overcome her fears. We care.

Brandilyn has a BHCC club. Big Honkin' Chickens Club for her friends who are too chicken to read her suspense novels. I have read several of her books. Piece of cake. Who would be afraid to read them? Well 3/4 of the way through Exposure I was afraid I would be joining the BHCCs. Sigh.

I mean what was with Lorraine? Right there on page 209 I wanted to shake her. Get with the program! Get out of there! Don't you know you are in danger? As I write this review my heart is still pounding. As Brandilyn says: Don't forget to breath . . .

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Special Artist At Work

The Child And A Friendly Artist
Well, He Seemed Friendly At First . . .
Why Is He Drawing On My Face?
And Playing With Modeling Clay?
Looking Interesting.
Kind Of.
But That Needle Looks Scary.
Holding Still
For A Few Final Touches

WOW! Isn't She Beautiful?
And Greatful!

Reminder: Book Contest: I am offering a contest to send one of Sara Mills books to one person chosen from comments left on any of my blog pages this week. Miss Fortune this week, and Miss Match next month. So be sure to stop back. =)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

MAGNOLIAS


..........By Edna Ellison

I spent the week before my daughter's June wedding running last-minute trips to the caterer, florist, tuxedo shop, and the church about forty miles away.

As happy as I was that Patsy was marrying a good Christian young man, I felt laden with responsibilities as I watched my budget dwindle . .


So many details, so many bills, and so little time. My son Jack was away at college, but he said he would be there to walk his younger sister down the aisle, taking the place of his dad who had died a few years before. He teased Patsy, saying he'd wanted to give her away since she was about three years old!


To save money, I gathered blossoms from several friends who had large magnolia trees. Their luscious, creamy-white blooms and slick green leaves would make beautiful arrangements against the rich dark wood inside the church.


After the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, we banked the podium area and choir loft with magnolias. As we left just before midnight, I felt tired but satisfied this would be the best wedding any bride had ever had! The music, the ceremony, the reception - and especially the flowers - would be remembered for years.


The big day arrived - the busiest day of my life - and while her bridesmaids helped Patsy to dress, her fiance Tim walked with me to the sanctuary to do a final check. When we opened the door and felt a rush of hot air, I almost fainted; and then I saw them - all the beautifu l white flowers were black. Funeral black. An electrical storm during the night had knocked out the air conditioning system, and on that hot summer day, the flowers had wilted and died.


I panicked, knowing I didn't have time to drive back to our hometown, gather more flowers, and return in time for the wedding.


Tim turned to me. 'Edna, can you get more flowers? I'll throw away these dead ones and put fresh flowers in these arrangements.'


I mumbled, 'Sure,' as he be-bopped down the hall to put on his cuff links.


Alone in the large sanctuary, I looked up at the dark wooden beams in the arched ceiling. 'Lord,' I prayed, 'please help me. I don't know anyone in this town. Help me find someone willing to give me flowers - in a hurry!' I scurried out praying for four things: the blessing of white magnolias, courage to find them in an unfamiliar yard, safety from any dog that may bite my leg, and a nice person who would not get out a shotgun when I asked to cut his tree to shreds.


As I left the church, I saw magnolia trees in the distance. I approached a house...No dog in sight. I knocked on the door and an older man answered. So far so good . .No shotgun.. When I stated my plea the man beamed, 'I'd be happy to!'


He climbed a stepladder and cut large boughs and handed them down to me. Minutes later, as I lifted the last armload into my car trunk, I said, 'Sir, you've made the mother of a bride happy today.'


'No, Ma'am,' he said. 'You don't understand what's happening here.'


'What?' I asked.


'You see, my wife of sixty-seven years died on Monday.. On Tuesday I received friends at the funeral home, and on Wednesday . . . He paused. I saw tears welling up in his eyes. 'On Wednesday I buried her.' He looked away. 'On Thursday most of my out-of-town relatives went back home, and on Friday - yesterday - my children left.'


I nodded.


'This morning,' he continued, 'I was sitting in my den crying out loud. I miss her so much. For the last sixteen years, as her health got worse, she needed me. But now nobody needs me. This morning I cried, 'Who needs an eighty-six-year-old wore-out man? Nobody!' I began to cry louder. 'Nobody needs me!' About that time, you knocked, and said, 'Sir, I need you.'


I stood with my mouth open.


He asked, 'Are you an angel? The way the light shone around your head into my dark living room...'


I assured him I was no angel.


He smiled. 'Do you know what I was thinking when I handed you those magnolias?'


'No.'


'I decided I'm needed. My flowers are needed. Why, I might have a flower ministry! I could give them to everyone! Some caskets at the funeral home have no flowers. People need flowers at times like that and I have lots of them. They're all over the backyard! I can give them to hospitals, churches - all sorts of places. You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to serve the Lord until the day He calls me home!'


I drove back to the church, filled with wonder. On Patsy's wedding day, if anyone had asked me to encourage someone who was hurting, I would have said, 'Forget it! It's my only daughter's wedding, for goodness' sake! There is no way I can minister to anyone today.'


But God found a way. Through dead flowers.


'Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.'


If you have missed knowing me, you have missed nothing.
But, if you have missed knowing my LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, you have missed everything in the world.


May God's blessings be upon you.


THIS IS SO TRUE, BEING NEEDED IS SO UPLIFTING TO EACH OF US..

Monday, July 13, 2009

MISS FORTUNE

by Sara Mills

About the author:

Sara Mills is an author, mother, freelance editor and motorcycle racing enthusiast. She loves animals, raises Golden Retrievers, has a house full of hamsters, guinea pigs, turtles, puppies and any other stray that makes its way to her door.

Sara has been writing since 1999 but decided to seriously pursue publication after a life-threatening accident in 2002. Sara, motorcycle lunatic that she is, was taking a quick ride on a Suzuki TL1000s (a bike that made the top-five-most-dangerous-bikes-ever-produced list) and lost control on a patch of gravel coming around a corner. To make a long story less painful to retell, she hit the side of a tree going sixty miles per hour. She couldn’t walk (think, stand or do much of anything else except watch T.V.) for four months and she discovered two things. She loathes T.V., and she finally figured out what she wanted to do with the rest of her life. Be a writer.

It may seem like an extreme way to go about discovering her life’s purpose, but she’s never looked back since. Except that one time she decided to quit writing and go back to school to get her MBA. But that didn’t last long and it was just one little slip, so it doesn’t really count.

The Blurb:

They call her the P.I. Princess.
Allie Fortune is the only female private investigator in New York City and she’s one of the best.

When there’s a knock on her office door at four in the morning, Allie’s first inclination is to ignore it. Someone out on the streets in the middle of the night is usually trouble, either causing it, or being chased by it, and Mary Gordon is no exception.

Despite the fact that someone’s following her, that her apartment has been ransacked and that she’s been shot at, Mary Gordon claims to have no idea who’s after her or what’s going on.

Allie takes her case, but something seems off. Going with what she knows best, Allie unravels the threads of Mary Gordon’s story, and in the process she discovers an international mystery that places her own life in danger.

What Others Say:

"A knock on the door at four in the morning always spells trouble to a PI. The only female investigator in New York in 1947, Allie Fortune has learned to trust her instincts--and her instincts say that there's more to Mary Gordon than the woman lets on when she barges in that morning. Allie agrees to help her, but as an international mystery comes to light, she soon realizes there are more people on this case than just her. And maybe if she agrees to pool her resources with the FBI, handsome agent Jack O'Connor can help her with a problem of her own: finding the man she loves, who went missing in the war.

Miss Fortune is a fast-paced, gripping story of mystery, treasure, and the search for lost love. I adored the nostalgic feel of the story--Sara Mills did a fantastic job of sucking me back in time and plopping me down on the sweltering sidewalk beside our intrepid PI Princess. The plot was detailed, developed, and daring. The characters were deep, complex, and involving. It made for a book I never wanted to put down.

The story takes you from the current mystery to Allie's past, when she met and fell for David, the missing love. Stunning in its shape and development, this trip into Allie's memory was every bit as exciting to me as her current escapades, and figuring out more about both her past and present provided yet more impetus to turn those pages.

I often sigh when I pick up a books that claims to be "A So-And-So Mystery"--mystery isn't usually my favorite genre, and I never seem to get my hands on a whole series, so I'm often left dissatisfied by a character's progress. Not so with this book. Though a few questions remain unanswered at the end--in fact, a whole new set is delivered on the final page--it only left me eager for more. I love Allie, I love Jack, and I love the long-lost David--I can't wait to see what comes next in Allie's life!

The spiritual thread is another point of praise for me. Throughout most of the story, issues of faith are understated, simply because they're of little concern to Allie. But when someone makes an impression on her, she gives it attention and is believable and moving as she encounters God.

Don't miss Miss Fortune! This is one book you'll want to snatch up like the treasure it is. But beware: you might share Allie's sleepless nights as you search with her for answers, too eager to turn the next page to remember to go to bed. " ~~ www.christianreviewofbooks.com

My Take:

I love to read suspense. Not Horror mind you, but I love to solve mysteries and in suspense, wondering how it will all come out right. To really be happy, I must have a happy ending.

I like PI's - loved Paul Drake in the Perry Mason series, read every book I could get my hands on. So a friend told me I needed to read this book by Sara Mills. I did.

I loved the cover. I was three years old in 1947. It almost seems I can remember seeing ladies who looked like Allie Fortune. I lived through the cold war. And reading about the race to keep ahead of the FBI and the Russians keep me glued to the page.

If you want a good read, you can't go wrong with Miss Fortune by Sara Mills.

A Message from a friend:

Many of you have probably heard that Sara Mill's husband died of a heart attack on Tuesday, April 7, 2009 -- he was 40 and leaves this young woman alone with 3 children. I hope many of you have had the opprotunity to meet Sara or read her delightful books -- Miss Fortune and Miss Match -- they are about a female PI in NYC in 1947 -- I love them -- honestly, wish I'd had the idea first LOL

Several of us have tried to think of ways to provide a tangible support to Sara -- and have decided to try a blog tour of sorts. Miss Match just released in March -- and now Sara will be unable to focus on promoting her book. Miss Fortune released at the end of September, she was so excited at the ACFW conference.

Thanks for your time -- this sudden, very unexpected death caught alot of us not only by surprise, but with the fresh reality that our days are numbered by our heavenly Father and only He knows the sum of them. ~~ Cara Putman

Book Contest: When I got this message from my friend Cara I ordered the books and will be offering a contest to send them on to one person chosen from comments left on any of my blog pages this week. Miss Fortune this week, and Miss Match next month. So be sure to stop back. =)

Friday, July 10, 2009

THE ROOM

author unknown

17-year-old Brian Moore had only a short time to write something for a class. The subject was what Heaven was like. "I wowed 'em," he later told his father, Bruce. "It's a killer. It's the bomb. It's the best thing I ever wrote." It also was the last.

Brian's parents had forgotten about the essay when a cousin found it while cleaning out the teenager's locker at Teary Valley High School . Brian had been dead only hours, but his parents desperately wanted every piece of his life near them-notes from classmates and teachers, his homework.

Only two months before, he had handwritten the essay about encountering Jesus in a file room full of cards detailing every moment of the teen's life. But it was only after Brian's death that Beth and Bruce Moore realized that their son had described his view of heaven. "It makes such an impact that people want to share it. You feel like you are there." Mr. Moore said
...


Brian Moore died May 27, 1997, the day after Memorial Day. He was driving home from a friend's house when his car went off Bulen-Pierce Road in Pickaway County and struck a utility pole. He emerged from the wreck unharmed but stepped on a downed power line and was electrocuted.

The Moores framed a copy of Brian's essay and hung it among the family portraits in the living room. "I think God used him to make a point. I think we were meant to find it and make something out of it," Mrs. Moore said of the essay. She and her husband want to share their son's vision of life after death. "I'm happy for Brian. I know he's in heaven. I knowI'll see him."

Brian's Essay: The Room...

In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I have liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was.

This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I have betrayed." The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I have Given," "Jokes I Have Laughed at." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've yelled at my brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger", "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents.

Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to fill each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

When I pulled out the file marked "TV Shows I have watched", I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so m uch by the quality of shows but more by the vast time I knew that file represented.

When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content.

I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me. One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In insane frenzy I yanked the file out. Its size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the
floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it.

Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh. And then I saw it.. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With."

The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the
tears, I saw Him.

No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own.

He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxe s. Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes But this was a pity that didn't anger me.

I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me.

Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard H im close the last file and walk back to my side.

He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished." I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"-Phil. 4:13
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Sharon here: After I read Brian's essay I thought about my file cabinet. More than anything I want Christ to help me clean it up.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

CHANGE YOUR THINKING


author unknown.

It will take just 37 seconds to read this and change your thinking.


Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room.

One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs.


His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back.


The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation..

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window.

The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside.


The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance.


As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene.


One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by.

Although the other man could not hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words.

Days, weeks and months passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep.


She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away.

As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone.


Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window beside the bed.

It faced a blank wall.

The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window.

The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall.


She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'


Epilogue:


There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations.

Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled.

If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy.


'Today is a gift, that is why it is called

The Present.'


Monday, July 6, 2009

WHEN LOVE BLOOMS

By Robin Lee Hatcher

About the author:

Robin Lee Hatcher is the best-selling author of over sixty books. Her well-drawn characters and heartwarming stories of faith, courage, and love have earned her both critical acclaim and the devotion of readers. Her numerous awards including the 2000 Christy Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction, the 1999 and 2001 RITA Awards for Best Inspirational Romance, Romantic Times Career Achievement Awards for Americana Romance and for Inspirational Fiction, and the 2001 RWA Lifetime Achievement Award. Catching Katie was named one of the Best Books of 2004 by the Library Journal.

Robin began her writing career in the general market, writing mass market romances for Leisure Books, HarperPaperbacks, Avon Books, and Silhouette. In 1997, after several years of heart preparation, Robin accepted God's call to write stories of faith and hasn't looked back since. She has written both contemporary women's fiction and historical romances for CBA publishers, and in 2009 her 60th book, A Vote of Confidence, was released, launching a new series (The Sisters of Bethlehem Springs) that looks at the question, "Who says a woman can't do a man's job?" The setting is Idaho during the WWI era.

Robin enjoys being with her family, spending time in the beautiful Idaho outdoors, reading books that make her cry, and watching romantic movies. She is passionate about the theater, and several nights every summer, she can be found at the outdoor amphitheater of the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, enjoying Shakespeare under the stars. She makes her home on the outskirts of Boise, sharing it with Poppet the high-maintenance Papillon.

The Blurb:

She could say what she wanted. Emily Harris didn't belong in the hard life of the Blakes. She would wilt there like a rose without water. He'd be sending her back to Boise before the first snows. He'd be willing to bet on it.

From the moment Gavin Blake set eyes on Emily Harris, he knew she would never make it in the rugged high country where backbreaking work and constant hardship were commonplace. Beautiful and refined, she was accustomed to the best life had to offer. Heaven only knew why she wanted to leave Boise to teach two young girls on a ranch miles from nowhere. He'd wager it had to do with a man. It always did when a beautiful woman was involved.

Emily wanted to make some sort of mark on the world before marriage. She wanted to be more than just a society wife. Though she had plenty of opportunities back East, she had come to the Idaho high country looking to make a difference. Gavin’s resistance to her presence made her even more determined to prove herself. Perhaps changing the heart of just one man may make the greatest difference of all.

What Others Say:

"I loved this story! It is set in the late 1800's in a remote area of Idaho. Robin makes you care about the characters and live vicariously through them.

Dru's main objective is not only to find a suitable governess for her two children but someone her husband, Gavin would fall in love with. Why? Because Dru is dying and their marriage was one of convenience. Dru's previous husband passed away in a tragic accident and Gavin took on the role to take care of Dru and her children.

Due to past experiences, Gavin is none too happy about his wife's decision to hire a governess. After all, he can take care of the two girls on his own. He doesn't need a high and mighty woman who doesn't like to get her hands dirty to take over. Gavin doesn't leave Emily any doubt that she is not wanted at the ranch. Emily and Gavin fight against their attraction toward one another. Emily loves the Lord with all her heart but Gavin keeps his distance with God.

Patrick, a rich landowner falls for Emily. He can give her anything her heart's desire. He lavishes Emily with compliments and makes her feel worthwhile and special.

Emily does fall in love with the children but the question remains, "Does Dru get her wish fulfilled?"

This is a wonderful story of hope of love in the midst of sorrow and pain." ~~Mara Kim

My Take:

I must confess I have a fondness for Irish characters. With the character names Maggie, Sharidan, Gavin, and Patrick, Ms. Hatcher drew me right into the story.

I prefer to read books with a deeper thread in addition to the romance. No man is an island and I want to see relationships built and restored between friends and family alike. I like to see romance thrive in the midst of healed and loving families. When I finish a book I want to be glad I read it.

WHEN LOVE BLOOMS does not disappoint. With Ms. Hatcher's skillful writing, we can accept the unselfish nature that Gavin has cultivated. And we can relate when Emily wants to prove she is no piece of fluff— Even when she is hit with the realization that she has lived an easier life than she wants to admit.

It is a pleasure to see Emily rise to the challenge. We want things to turn out well for her. And we don't know until the very end if and how they will.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Why I Love My In-Laws And Why You Can, Too


Guest Blogger: Alyice Edrich


Over the years, I have watched many talk shows on the subject of in-laws and it has always amazed me at how horrific some experiences can be. I’ve often found myself scratching my head in disbelief and asking, “Is that for real? Or is that sensationalized for the show?”

I’ve been blessed, I suppose because I actually like my in-laws and when my mom was alive, she thought of my husband as “the son she never had”. That’s not to say that we haven’t had days where we disagreed with our in-laws or found ourselves not liking something about them and vice versa—because truth-be-told, you cannot get along with everyone all of the time. It’s simply impossible. We’re human beings who are selfish by nature and who tend to like things “our way” and sometimes that gets in the way of relationships—no matter how much you respect the person.

I still remember the day my mother informed me that she didn’t think my then “date” would make great marriage material. She prefaced the whole speech with how much she adored my husband, then broke out into the “but” speech. She swore my husband wouldn’t amount to much and that while he would make a great friend, he just wasn’t reliable enough. I disagreed. I saw so many wonderful things in my husband-to-be that I just ignored her warning—justifying it as ignorance. And sure enough, my husband put my mom’s fears to rest. And for years, I often told everyone that my mom liked my husband more than me! She’d address her gifts and cards to “the son I never had” or simply “to my son” and she’d tell anyone that would listen that he has been a true blessing to our family and in her life.

When my husband told his mother that we were getting married, she told him that he didn’t have to marry me. That took me off guard, even stung. Until I realized that my husband was her baby boy and she was only trying to “protect” him and give him a “safe out”. Today, she loves me just like I were one of her daughters. In fact, she often writes or calls by introducing herself as, “Alyice, this is mom.”

I think part of the reason we get along with each other so well is that we are honest and upfront with each other. We don’t hold grudges, and if something is bothering us, we talk it out. As my mother-in-law says, “If I don’t know what the problem is, I can’t fix it.”

From the moment I met my in-laws (19 years ago) I took the time to get to know them—which included finding out their likes and dislikes. Knowing certain things about them has allowed me to feel close and connected to them. 

For instance, I know that my father-in-law loves unsweetened ice tea in which he puts a single pack of pink sweetener in; therefore I make sure to have that very item on hand for every visit. It’s a minor thing, but it makes an impact. I remember one time when my in-laws showed up for a “surprise” visit and I didn’t have any ice tea made. He teased me all day, “Alyice where’s my ice tea?” And I’d just laugh and say, “I didn’t know you were coming. I am making some now.”

My mother-in-law, on the other hand, loves to show her love through her cooking—and man can she cook! At first I felt awkward letting her buy groceries for the house and take over the kitchen, after all, she was supposed to be my guest and I never bought groceries when we visited her. But I soon realized that she wasn’t taking over but reaching out. It was her way of letting us know that she was (and is) proud of us and let’s face it, she cooks better than me—way better than me. 

So while I try to buy the foods they can eat, such as fish for Fridays, eggs for breakfast, and fresh fruit for snacks, I have no problem going to the grocery store and letting her stock up the refrigerator with whatever will make her visit more comfortable and more like home.

My husband and I have also learned to allow my mother to clean our house when she came for visits. At first, I thought it was just her way of “avoiding” some one-on-one time or perhaps, telling me that I’m not doing a good enough job but after a few talks with my mom we learned that cleaning our home, doing the laundry, and even cooking for us wasn’t about avoiding us, taking charge, or saying our way of doing things was wrong. She spoke through her actions, not her words and these were gestures of her love; these acts of kindness where her way of letting us know that she felt blessed that we were part of her life and family.

So the next time you find your in-laws taking over, take a step back and ask yourself, “Does it really matter who does the cooking and the cleaning? And can I use a break?” Then take advantage of feeling like you are at a bed and breakfast, in your own home. And when they go home, drop them a postcard thanking them for their gestures of love.


Byline
Alyice Edrich is a freelance writer for hire (http://alyiceedrich.net) who enjoys helping parents earn extra cash from home so they can spend more time with their children. To get three free e-books or buy one of her best sellers, visit http