Saturday, August 29, 2015

Saturday Sharing Links...

Motivating Daily makes a good point:

Patricia Johns shared an amusing reminder:

Chris McMullen shared blog links to those who like math. I don't, but the world does not revolve around me.

Armand Rosamilia, in charge of Authors Supporting Our Troops, shares his writing method (I may give this one a try):

God bless.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Holiday USA Anthology 2014

The Anthology is only available in paperback and contains Happy New Year?, Chocolate Cake for Two, Valentine Delivery, and Tough Luck. The 2014 holidays include New Year's Eve, Chocolate Cake Day, Valentine's Day, and St. Patrick's Day.

As I write Just Friends, book 6 in the Holiday, USA series, I've been thinking about why I started this series. I love the holidays. I enjoy the decorations and the traditions. I've learned about so many from reading books.

Growing up, I planned to celebrate as many holidays as possible with my children. I haven't married, and so there are no children. Unfortunately, I allowed that to keep me from celebrating. Not anymore.

I came up with the idea of writing novellas for holidays a few years ago. I allowed the idea to percolate in the back of my head. Back when I had no idea how to schedule my writing time... I didn't have a schedule and had no clue about how much time I needed for any given project. I allowed grandiose dreams to convince me I could write a novella a month AND maintain my contracted stories schedule.


The reality check bounced to the moon. Last year, I finished four novellas and combined them into an anthology. The novellas are available for free on Kindle Unlimited. They're listed to the left side of the blog. You can click on the book cover, and it will take you straight to Amazon. I purchase each book to make sure it downloads properly.

Sometimes the characters dictate which holiday they celebrate. Sometimes the holiday beckons particular characters. I like to think every day should be celebrated. A holiday offers a theme.

This year's anthology currently only has Faith's Labor published, Labor Day. I do have two more planned for this year. If you enjoy holidays or a good novella, I hope you'll give my stories a read.

God bless.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New Likes on FB...

To celebrate, an extra long sneak peek at the current manuscript, "Just Friends," Book 6 in the Holiday, USA series. The opening page (unedited) :

"If you don't want to do this, we can turn around and head home, right now. We'll figure out something else."

Mindy Harper blinked and turned her gaze from the truck's side window to study Jim Harper, the only father she'd ever known and her hero from the first day they'd met. Tall, dark, and handsome, a prince by anyone's definition, in every possible way, and she'd always dreamed of marrying someone like him, until her dreams burned to ashes.

The truck idled at the gate blocking the graded road. All he needed to do was power down the window and punch in the code. The gate would swing open. They would drive through, and the gate would close behind them. The last leg of the journey awaited her decision.

"I can't go back." In too many ways to count.

"I'm sorry, baby."

"I know." He'd used the endearment from the first day. During her teen years, she'd decided she'd grown out of it, until the accident. The night everything changed. Her parents' words of love and their prayers, for her, were the first things she remembered hearing. The unfaltering love of her family saw her through operations and physical therapy. "It's all right."

"No, it isn't. I would do anything..." She knew he usually withheld stating his own grief regarding her loss, not wanting her to feel the need to comfort him, but sometimes the weight was too heavy to bear alone.

"I know." She didn't want to be the one comforting others. She wanted to be comforted, but what could anyone say? Nothing.

"Would you like to pray?"

"Would you, please?"

Her dad's prayers always brought her comfort, though not because she believed anything would change. So many prayers had been offered and gone unanswered in any appreciable way. Her dad's prayers weren't elaborate or grandiose. He asked for things she didn't think about asking for but desperately needed, like asking God to help her remember she wasn't a burden. He also asked God to help her find a place where she would feel like she was a blessing.

The gate swung open, and they drove through. Jim focused on the road snaking through meadows and stands of evergreens, birch, and other deciduous trees. His jaw set and his hands firm on the steering wheel, Mindy didn't doubt for a moment he would do whatever she asked of him if it was within his power.

Words she never wanted to utter bubbled up her throat and out her mouth. "I know it isn't a pity job, but a part of me feels like it is. I shouldn't. It's ungrateful. I don't want to be in the way. I want to be useful. I don't want to be dependent..."

"I know this wasn't what you had in mind for a career."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Struggling with God...

I remember watching a movie, years ago, on TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network). A  young wife was in the hospital. Her husband was visiting her, along with their priest, and she was struggling in her relationship with God.

Her parents were emotionally distant and judgmental.

I've forgotten the exact words, but not the message. The priest (writer) said something I've never forgotten: "Don't attribute character traits to God that belong to your parents. God is not hateful or unforgiving."

As an abuse survivor, it's a struggle to remember God loves me.

Yesterday, I landed in the past.

When I was a little girl, my father thought it would be funny to throw a grasshopper in the tub with me. It landed on my belly. I failed to see the humor. I was terrified. It wasn't small; it was large and bright green. I've had grasshoppers attempt to catch a ride on my clothes on other occasions, so I was already afraid. This shot my fear rocketing through the roof. Almost 50 years later, and I'm still afraid of hoppy things, grasshoppers and crickets. That old terror is almost as fresh as the day it happened.

Fast forward to yesterday. I noticed a grasshopper in my shoe. The shoe I was about slide onto my foot. It hopped to the other shoe. I intended to slide the shoe out the door. The stupid critter jumped onto a box by my shoes. I attempted to smack it with my shoe. I don't know if I hit it or not. I only know I didn't see it anymore. I vacuumed, hoping the miserable beastie disappeared into the machine.

No, I don't believe my dad put the grasshopper in my shoe.

Here was the struggle: God could have removed that grasshopper from my shoes without me ever knowing it was there. A part of me felt like God had played the same dirty trick my father had.

I was given a choice: Trust God loves me or not. Believe God isn't mindful of me or He is.

My belief in God and His plan for me has been a saving grace throughout my life.

Was I questioning that belief? Could something so small sway me from my faith? What kind of faith is so easily destroyed? If it's cast aside with such ease, is it true faith?

I still don't know what happened to the grasshopper.

My faith was renewed.

God is mindful of me.

The grasshopper didn't actually jump on me. In fact, it jumped away. However, it had trespassed into my room. It violated a healthy boundary. It refused to go on its own, so I took the only avenue open.

I didn't have to see it squished. Something else I don't like.

God is aware of me.

Life is full of creepy crawlies. It is also full of roses and chocolate. On which am I going to focus my attention?

The grasshopper did not ruin the rest of my day, only the moments when I was endeavoring to rid myself of it.

Isn't life kind of like that?

Unpleasant things happen. We can let them ruin our whole day, or we can face them in the moment and move on to enjoy what comes next.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Pie Crust...

...using butter. Last Thursday, I shared making butter.

*If you'd like more blogs like this, let me know. I love sharing recipes. Cooking is a hobby I've enjoyed for years. There's something about the creative process of turning a bunch of ingredients into something delicious that inspires me.

I've used a number of different recipes. I replace the shortening with butter. I've never used my homemade butter. I save that for bread.

For the record: Making butter from heavy cream or heavy whipping cream is more expensive than buying butter in sticks.

I always use unsalted butter. Several baking shows taught me that the salted butter makes it impossible to have consistent results. Sometimes, it doesn't matter, but in baking it usually does.

Some recipes call for salt, and some don't. I haven't noticed much of a difference there.

I cut up the butter into small chunks, put it in a bowl, and let it sit in the fridge to keep cold.

I use a food processor to make the dough, which keeps me from handling it too much.

Flour into the food process. Yes, I pulse it right away, aerating the flour.

Add the butter and pulse until it resembles a crumble.

Add cold water a tablespoon at a time. I refrigerated the water before using. Only add enough water for the dough to collect into a ball.

Wrap the ball in plastic wrap and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate, again. This can also be frozen.

After about 15 minutes, place the disk between two pieces of wax paper. Plastic wrap is usable but more apt to be caught into the dough.

Roll out. The nice thing about using wax paper is that you don't add more flour and it's easier to flip from side to side. Use as directed by the recipe, either pre-baking or preparing the pie.

Butter provides a flaky crust with a yummy buttery flavor. The key is not overworking so the dough becomes tough. Also, use high-quality ingredients, especially in recipes that have few ingredients, because the flavor comes through.

Sort of like life: Don't cheat yourself by scrimping when you need to give your best. Sometimes, it doesn't matter; part of life is learning when it does and making the most of it.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sharing Links Saturday...

Ryan Lanz, over at A Writer's Path, shared Five Ways to Know You're a Writer:

Chris McMullen shared some information regarding Kindle Scout. I'm not familiar with the program myself, but I know more about it now:

Melissa Finnegan reviews books on her blog, but on Fridays, she shares an inspiring post on her blog Genesis 5020:

Patricia Johns shared a sweet story she stumbled across:

God bless.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

A bit of butter...

Everything's better with butter. ~ Julia Childs

I've watched her programs for years. I was in my teens when I banished margarine from my diet and determined to only use butter. One of my cooking classes or one of the shows I watched (I don't remember which) taught me that ingredients make a huge difference in flavor. Some you can cheat on, but many you can't. I practiced and experimented. I did have a short period of time when I dabbled in spreads, but it was only because I wanted something easily spread. However, it's been two or three decades since I've used anything besides butter. Even when I make pie, the crust is made with butter. First and only time I've seen people eat the whole pie, not a leftover crust in sight. I'll share my pie recipe later if anyone's interested. Today is about butter.

For years, I've purchased butter whenever it was on sale and kept it in the freezer. It keeps well. Really. I won't confess how many pounds of butter sit in my freezer right now.

Several months ago, I was playing on Pinterest and discovered in my exploring a recipe for making your own butter. Wait... What? Really? Really.

On one of my shopping trips, a quart of heavy whipping cream, which also works, was cheaper than a half pint or pint of heavy cream. I bought it.

Sorry about the blurry pictures. Since I wasn't dividing it between two jars, I added more cream to the jar. Otherwise, the cream would only fill half the jar, so you know what to expect.

I shook it for about 20 minutes. The first time I did it, I shook the bottle for an hour. I'm improving. It's a good workout. For the first 19 or so minutes, the cream thickens and thickens until I wonder if it's moving at all. Between one shake and the next you can feel the weight shift from one end to the other. Keep shaking. Again, between one shake and the next, you can hear liquid sloshing with the constant weight moving back and forth, from one end to the other.

Keep shaking, another few minutes. This is what it looks like when you're done:

Drain the fluid off. My dad was raised on a farm and remembers his mother making butter and giving him the leftover liquid, buttermilk. Not the stuff you buy in the store. I usually simply use the tip of my finger to keep the butter in the jar while I pour the liquid into a cup I promptly give my dad.

For the record: This is the first time I've ended up with butterballs. Usually, it's a smooth, single clump of creamy butter. Once I drain off the buttermilk, I dump it in a dish. This time, I did shake the jar a little longer, and yes, ended up with butterballs. Cool looking and still yummy.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sharing Links Saturday...

Ryan Lanz shares quotes on Tuesday. This was one that caught me: “If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn’t expecting it.” -H.G. Wells
For more:
Advice for writers on what not to do when submitting a manuscript:

Writers In The Storm's guest blogger, Kathryn Craft, shared a good reminder and an interesting perspective on Backstory:

Patricia Johns shares a bit of inspiration for her writing though "Certainly Not a Hero."

Ginger Kolbaba gave me a fresh and funny look at Jonah:

God bless.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sneak peek shared on FB...

Another Like was added to my author page on FB. Woohoo! As a thank you, I shared a sneak peek.

With Reluctant Knight turned in, I shared a snippet from the next Holiday, USA series, Just Friends:

"Uncle Dusty, why does Cowboy always wear a shirt?"

"I don't know." Dusty gave her a wry glance. "You want him to take it off?"

She blushed to her hairline. "No. I appreciate his thoughtfulness. With the other guys, I feel like they're saying, 'look at me but you can't have it' or 'you can have it, at the right price.'"

Dusty studied the men working. "Sometimes, it's to show off, but a lot of times it's plain hot."

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

God is Good...

Reluctant Knight's deadline was last Saturday. It's been a real struggle to write this one. I made some changes in my style. The rough draft was really, really rough. Sometimes only a thought of what the chapter should entail. The chapters are much longer, but I used some breaks that I usually rarely use. I also allowed my faith to be more prominent.

It wasn't bad enough that I need to finish a book I've been struggling with for months, but storms were promised those last few days, the worst on the 31st. Yes, I felt like forces were combining against me. If there's thunder and lightning, I turn off the computer, not conducive to finishing a book.

I've been working to learn how to be more faithful and more trusting and more grateful.

Test time.

Wednesday, the storms never materialized. Thursday, the storms dissipated before reaching me.

Friday, a storm rolled in from the east. I turned on the local weather station and would glance at it, from time to time. It also happens to be a good way to help reduce eyestrain. I watched the bank of yellow, red, and green, with lightning flashes, roll across the state. I watched it creep up to about where I live, break apart, and reform on the other side going west.

A little after five, another storm rolled up from the south. Lightning and thunder and buckets of rain. I'd reached the end of the second to last chapter, a good stopping place, for a break. I turned off the computer, ate dinner, did my physical therapy, fed the feral cats, and generally caught up on everything that needed to be done. I realized I needed to make some changes to what I'd written. The lightning and thunder moved further north and vanished by 6:30 p.m.

Another storm was scheduled to roll through round 10:00 p.m. It never showed.

I turned on the computer and wrote, with occasional breaks, finishing at 11:45 p.m., in time to report my word count at the online writing camp I joined this month, for this project. Final 7502 words added.


Thanks God. I could not do it without You.