Posted on May 23, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
Woo hoo! It’s Lucky Penny Day! Betcha didn’t know that, did ya? Well, I didn’t know this auspicious day existed until a few days ago, but now, thanks to Lorna, we can celebrate!
And to celebrate, I’d love to share some fun penny facts with you:
- The Lincoln penny was designed in 1909 in honor of President Lincoln’s birthday. This was the first time a president appeared on a coin.
- The back originally had a wreath of wheat. It was redesigned in 1959 with the Lincoln Memorial in honor of Lincoln’s 150th birthday.
- “In God We Trust” was first printed on the Lincoln Penny.
And if you’re someone who has jars of pennies sitting around the house, here are several uses for them:
- Straighten curtains: Cut open the hem on a curtain, slide in a few pennies, then sew the curtain back up. The weight will pull the curtain straight.
- Tread checker: Great way to check the tread on your tiers. Insert a penny into the groove with Lincoln’s head pointing into the tire. If his head is partially covered, your tread is still good.
- Screwdriver: No screwdriver handy? Grab a penny!
- Birdbath Cleaner: Throw a few pre-1982 pennies into your birdbath. The high copper content wards off the growth of algae.
- Potty Training: Yes, I bribed my children to go potty! It was better than giving M&M’s, right?
- Create penny floors, countertops, & tabletops. Check out this website for fun pictures and instructions: http://thepennyfloor.com/. Also, Google “penny floors” and you’ll find pages of amazing images! You can also create stunning tabletops, counter tops, and back splashes. Just use your imagination!
What other uses can you think of? Please share your two cents about Lucky Penny Day!
Posted on May 15, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
How many of you have ever watched the TLC show, What Not to Wear? I’m a little embarrassed to admit I thoroughly enjoy the show. What the co-hosts, Stacy and Clinton, do is surprise someone who has no fashion / make-up sense with a $5000 shopping spree and a make-over. (Someone like me who can’t fill a pinhead with her fashion and makeup knowledge. Seriously. Now if you want to talk baseball … Well, I digress.)
The catch is, their *victim* must turn over all the clothes in their closet. Now, while this show can be a bit humiliating for the person being targeted, it’s also often an eye-opener for them. It seems that that many of the people spotlighted share a singular issue: low self-esteem or poor body image. And they hide behind their clothes in one way or another.
They don’t see themselves as beautiful. The don’t see themselves as “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Part of the problem is, we live in an image-driven society where exterior “beauty” is lauded. The CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch is on record saying that his clothing line intentionally excludes the not-good-looking, the uncool people: Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Explains Why He Hates Fat Chicks. It’s a disturbing article. I can proudly say I’ve never purchased a single item from A&F, and I never will.
Here’s another perspective from a Christian woman on body image: http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/my-wedding-night/. Can anyone else relate?
1 Samuel 16:7b says,
“The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
Are you seeing what God is seeing?
Recently, Dove released an emotional and very telling video that demonstrated women’s self-image issues. I encourage you to take three minutes to watch this:
How many of you see yourself in that video? I’m slowly raising my hand.
Psalm 139: 13-14 says,
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.”
Do you know that full well?
From what or whom do you derive your value? Who do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you truly believe that you are fearfully and wonderfully made? Do you see a beautiful child of God? Are you seeing yourself through God’s eyes or the worlds’?
Personally, I’m working on it.
If you struggle with self-image, if you have trouble seeing yourself through the eyes of God, here are a couple of reading suggestions:
MOM IN THE MIRROR: BODY IMAGE, BEAUTY, & LIFE AFTER PREGNANCY by Dena Cabrera, Emily T. Wierenga, with a foreward by Emme.
Other encouraging music:
HOW CAN YOU WIN A COPY OF WEDDING ON THE ROCKS?
Rose is generously offering not one but TWO copies of Wedding on the Rocks and TWO copies of her previous release Rose of Sharon to readers who comment during the next two weeks and let us know about their most unusual job or a beauty secret and/or mishap. That’s four chances to win a book every time you post here at Inkspirational Messages in the next two weeks.
Contest closes Friday, May 17 at midnight (central time). It is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada only.
Posted on May 1, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
Sisters. Sisters. There were never such devoted sisters! (Singing yet?)
Admittedly, that’s an easy song for me to sing. You see, I am richly blessed with sisters. Not only do I have two sisters by birth, I also have seven sisters-in-law!
Even better, we all get along. How many extended families do you know can spend the day after Thanksgiving shopping together? It’s a years’ old tradition that started with my mom, my sisters, and me that now includes sisters-in-law and our daughters. The picture you see below doesn’t include everyone–we’d have to extend our table three times to fit the rest of the women and girls in my family alone.
Yeah, we’re blessed!
We have a built-in support system for the bad times, a vocal cheering section for the good times, and we’d do anything to help each other out.
But, best of all, I count my sisters as friends, perhaps the greatest blessing of all.
Now its your turn. Every time you share one of your sister stories in the next two weeks, you’ll be entered in the drawing for a copy of When Love Calls by Lorna Seilstad for yourself and a matching copy for a sister. Contest closes at midnight, central time on Friday, May 3, 2013 and is open to those in the U.S. and Canada. Name chosen by Random.org.
Posted on April 17, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
*Book Giveaway – See below*
Oh, my favorite topic again! Books! It’s so much fun reading all the other posts these past couple of weeks, seeing what everyone’s reading, adding titles to my overfull list. The problem for me is, deciding which book(s) to talk about.
It goes without saying that I’m very excited for my fellow bloggers who have new releases or coming releases (WHEN LOVE CALLS by Lorna Seilstad, WEDDING ON THE ROCKS by Rose Ross Zediker, and RODEO REGRETS by Shannon Taylor Vannatter), but we’ll hear more about them later.
So, I had to make a decision and whittle my To Be Read list (37 books on my wish list at Christianbook.com) down to a nice square number like 4. Just because.
Just finished reading:
Does a second chance at life and love always involve surrender?
A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa, she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides.
So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.
As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own.
With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances.
The sophomore work from Katie Ganshert is even better than her brilliant debut last year, WILDFLOWERS FROM WINTER. (Read my review of Wishing on Willows here: ) If you’re looking for a romance that’s redemptive, unpredictable, and heart-tugging, pick up this one.
Becky rocks a baby that rocked her world. Sixty years earlier, with her fiancé Drew in the middle of the Korean Conflict, Ivy throws herself into her work at a nursing home to keep her sanity and provide for the child Drew doesn’t know is coming. Ivy cares for Anna, an elderly patient who taxes Ivy’s listening ear until the day she suspects Anna’s tall tales are not the ramblings of dementia. They’re fragments of Anna’s disjointed memories of a remarkable life. Finding a faint thread of hope she can’t resist tugging, Ivy records Anna’s memoir, scribbling furiously after hours to keep up with the woman’s emotion-packed, grace-hemmed stories. Is Ivy’s answer buried in Anna’s past? Becky, Ivy, Anna–three women fight a tangled vine of deception in search of the blossoming simplicity of truth.
I just started this book, and can’t put it down! Once again Cynthia Ruchti has created a page-turning story woven together with beautiful prose.
Next On My List:
Winsome and Romantic–the Perfect Summer Read!
When Meg Cole’s father dies unexpectedly, she becomes the majority shareholder of his oil company and the single inheritor of his fortune. Though Meg is soft-spoken and tenderhearted–more interested in art than in oil–she’s forced to return home to Texas and to Whispering Creek Ranch to take up the reins of her father’s empire.
The last thing she has the patience or the sanity to deal with? Her father’s thoroughbred racehorse farm. She gives its manager, Bo Porter, six months to close the place down.
Bo’s determined to resent the woman who’s decided to rob him of his dream. But instead of anger, Meg evokes within him a profound desire to protect. The more time he spends with her, the more he longs to overcome every obstacle that separates them–her wealth, his unworthiness, her family’s outrage–and earn the right to love her.
But just when Meg begins to realize that Bo might be the one thing on the ranch worth keeping, their fragile bond is viciously broken by a force from Meg’s past. Can their love–and their belief that God can work through every circumstance–survive?
Becky Wade’s CBA debut last year, My Stubborn Heart, was a Favorite of mine in 2012. I have little doubt that Undeniably Yours will make my Favorites list for 2013.
“That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary there was no reason at all to remember it. Yet I have never across the forty years since it was spoken forgotten a single word.”
New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson’s Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder.
Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family— which includes his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother— he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity and gumption beyond his years.
Told from Frank’s perspective forty years after that fateful summer, Ordinary Grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the door of his young manhood, trying to understand a world that seems to be falling apart around him. It is an unforgettable novel about discovering the terrible price of wisdom and the enduring grace of God.
William Kent Krueger is known for his Corcoran O’Connor series about a half Irish, half Ojibwe Sheriff in northern Minnesota. While those novels are not Christian, Krueger has always had an element of faith to them, so I’m very curious how he’ll deal with grace here.
Every time you leave a comment on posts dated April 8, 2013 through April 19, 2013, you’ll be entered for a chance to win an autographed copy of When Love Calls plus a $10 Starbucks card! Contest ends Friday, April 19, 2013 at midnight. Winner will be posted on Saturday, April 20, 2013.
Also, be sure to hop over to Lorna’s Facebook Fan Page and *like* it. She’s having a Likefest. After she reaches 800 Likes, her publisher (Revell) will have a giveaway for a complete set of her Lake Manawa Series! Drawing will be held April 30.
Posted on April 3, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
Yes, even writers can get a little silly now and then. Want proof? Just check out Michelle Griep‘s vlog, Shakin’ It Writerly Style, from her Writer Off The Leash blog. I know you’ll smile–you might even want to join in!
Posted on March 20, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
I admit I haven’t had difficulty with writer’s block so far, that’ll likely come once I have looming deadlines. But for those days when the creative juices aren’t flowing quite as good as they should, I put my WIP away, choose ten random words, then create a story using those words. The story is often nonsensical, usually hilarious, and almost always reinvigorates the right side of my brain.
So, for the fun of it, I’m going to pluck ten random words from a book that’s sitting on my desk and write a quick story. I don’t think about it, stress about it, worry about plotting. I just have fun writing.
If you’re feeling brave, take these words, create your own story, and share it in the comments below.
One day, while eating rice mixed with peaches, I discovered a broken tooth. A human tooth. Shocked, I gasped in a deep breath and covered my mouth. Was it one of mine? My tongue made a random inventory and discovered all was fine, so I exhaled in relief.
But where had it come from? And how did it get in my rice?
I saw my cat’s tail sticking out from beneath the table. Could it be hers? Right. <face palm> Like a cat’s tooth resembled a human’s.
So, whose could it be? Did it come in the box of rice? Ewww. Just the thought made me shudder. I grabbed the box of rice, poured the remaining eight cups of rice onto a cookie sheet, and sifted through it creating diagonal rows. Nothing. Good thing, too. I didn’t want to put the rice company out of business.
If I didn’t discover the answer pretty soon, I’d need an intervention!
“Mommy! Mommy!” My youngest came running into the kitchen holding up a tube of toothpaste. “I wost a toof when I eated peaches.” He opened his mouth up wide. Sure enough, there was a big gap in the front of his mouth.
I held up the found tooth and smiled. The mystery was solved.
Now, it’s your turn! See how creative you can get.
Posted on March 6, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
In January of 1997 my husband and I were living in Moorhead, Minnesota (the city right across the Red River from Fargo, North Dakota). We had three small children (4, 2, and almost 1), and were three and a half hours away from the Twin Cities area where our families lived. It’s not a bad drive, but it’s not fun with three small children. In addition, all the friends I had made in the seven years of living in the FM area had moved away.
Then my husband received news we’d been hoping and praying for: he was offered a new and better position in Brooklyn Park, MN, a northern suburb of Minneapolis. Obviously, we were thrilled.
The job location was perfect, only minutes from Marv’s parents’ home. He could stay there until our house sold. Keeping our home toy clutter-free wouldn’t be so bad as long as the house sold quickly.
And that became my daily prayer, that our house would sell.
There were a few problems with that. First of all, that winter was a doozy. We had eight freeway-closing, school-closing (a rarity) blizzards that dropped a total of 117 inches of snow. Who’s looking to buy a home in that? Four of those blizzards occurred after my husband moved to the Twin Cities. Still, he made it home every weekend.
Then, along with that record snowfall, came the threat of flooding. A 100-year flood was forecast. Again, people weren’t exactly in the moving mood. That threat became reality as water not only spilled over the banks of the Red River that April, but also crept inland across the flat farmlands. Homes miles away from the river were swamped. (See photos <here>)
We lived a mere block and a half away from the river. A new daily prayer was added, that our home would survive.
I remember listening to the radio nightly as the announcers would plead for more sandbaggers to dam a broken levy or to build taller levies where water climbed higher than expected. At one point the announcers warned the entire area that if we heard sirens, we were to evacuate immediately.
All this was happening with my husband 220 miles away. I called him that night of the warning and begged him to come home. That drive took him down I-94 where, for miles, ditch water was licking at the freeway.
The waters eventually receded, and our home was spared, but now it was May, and our home had been on the market for three months. A definite negative for home buyers. But I continued to pray that our house would sell, that God would bring our family back together.
Well, summer came then said goodbye, then fall swept in, and then another winter. We were beginning to believe our prayers would never be answered.
The stress of keeping a house immaculate with three toddlers was overwhelming, especially without local friend support, so that December of 1997 we took the house off the market. I wanted to enjoy Christmas. I wanted the kids to be able to play and make a mess. I wanted them to be able to be kids.
Shortly after Christmas, we listed the house again and our prayers were more fervent than ever. Finally, weeks later, we received one contingency offer, then another non-contingency.
14 months of keeping toys picked up–14 months apart from my husband, of him driving back and forth amid rain, snow, ice–14 months of being alone with three small children. After 14 months of praying, we finally put out that Sold sign.
Why we had to wait that long, I doubt I’ll ever know, but I did learn from the experience.
* Knowing *why* you have to wait isn’t a given. Sure, God has His reasons, but we’re not owed an answer. But, God does know what’s best for you, and He’ll walk you through this season.
* Don’t give up. Over 3000 years ago, the Israelites fled from Egypt, aimed for the promised land–their new home. A trip that should have taken days turned into 40 years of wandering–and then, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, only the children and grandchildren reached the new home. The point is, they never stopped. They didn’t give up. The 23rd Psalm says, “Yeah, though I walk through the valley …” They were in the valley, but kept on moving and eventually came through it. When you are ensconced in that season of waiting, keep moving. During our wait, we were discouraged, but that didn’t stop us from living life, and life certainly didn’t stop around us.
* Expect a roller coaster ride. The Israelites desert wandering offered moments of hope and times of despair. While you’re waiting, expect it to be a roller coaster ride. Expect to see those glimmers of hope that are snatched away by defeat. Expect daylight and tunnels of darkness before eventually arriving at your destination.
* The answer may look far different than you anticipated. Those same Israelites awaited the Messiah for centuries, but when He did come, they didn’t recognize him. Jesus wasn’t the majestic, warrior king they expected, and they rejected Him. Your waiting season will end, but keep listening, and be prepared for the unexpected answer. While we eventually received the hoped-for answer, that wasn’t a guarantee.
I’m in another waiting season right now, waiting for an answer from an agent, but I refuse to sit still. I had high hopes at one point, but then they were snatched away. So I wait. And I keep writing and editing. I plan to enter contests and query more agents. When this wait is finally over, I pray I will recognize God’s answer.
Are you in a waiting season? Have you previously experienced a tough waiting period? I’d love to hear about it.
Posted on February 20, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
I tend to be an eclectic reader. I’ll read contemporaries, romance, historical, thriller, fantasy, etc. I’m willing to give anything a try, as a well-written novel will transcend genre. So, when I was considering my theme for this Heroes topic , I perused my bookshelves to see which authors I read regularly.
Here are a few names that stuck out: Charles Martin, Vince Flynn, J. Mark Bertrand, William Kent Krueger, Tim Downs, Steven James, Travis Thrasher, Michael Connelly … Well, I think you get the idea. For some reason, I gravitate toward the male voice.
Part of that could be because I grew up with four bruiser-type brothers and much preferred tackle football to cooking (or most any other typical female pursuit). I’m certain those years laid the foundation for my current reading interests.
While I do have several favorite female authors sprinkled among the guys, it’s books by the authors listed above I won’t miss, perhaps because they obviously know how to write a male protagonist. No gushy stuff from them. Oftentimes the heroes are pure testosterone (Check out Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp). Other times, heroes display a quiet, reflective, raw strength (Charles Martins’ protagonists).
Male authors don’t seem to have a problem in writing flawed characters. Check out William Kent Krueger’s Corcorn O’Connor, Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, or J. Mark Bertrand’s Roland March (all cops, interestingly enough). Bosch and March are especially flawed, almost to the point of being unlikable, yet they have some charisma or personality trait that makes you root for them. And then there’s Tim Downs’ bug man Nick Polchak who has an affinity for all things bugs. <shiver> But Nick Polchak is one of the most unique and endearing heroes in today’s fiction.
These authors aren’t afraid of romance either. You won’t find much in their books that’s touchy-feely. You won’t see a lot of batting eyelashes or flushing cheeks, or experience pitter-pattering hearts, and that’s just fine with me. Their romances seem more straight-forward–they get to the point rather than playing the flower-petal game of “She loves me. She loves me not…” Steven James Patrick Bowers is always struggling in the romance department. I’m hoping by the end of the Bowers’ series, he’ll have it figured out.
Perhaps my love for writing from a male perspective stems from my enjoyment of the male author’s voice. Perhaps that’s why my men are typically more fully developed than the female characters. And, according to my male beta-readers, my guys happen to be right-on (okay, so I had one dude saying burgundy three times in a scene–that’s gone now, all right?)
Yeah, sometimes their heroes are a mixture of Adonis, Hercules, and Einstein, and I’ll roll my eyes at that, but I’ll forgive them that little flaw. Wouldn’t you?
Are there any male authors you regularly enjoy reading?
Posted on February 10, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
Hey everyone, come join our celebration! Our newest Inksper, Rose Ross Zediker, has fabulous news!
Rose’s editor accepted her latest proposal! Yeah!!!
… and …
Her editor accepted Rose’s second book on a blind proposal! Way to go, Rose!
Read more about it on her blog, Don’t Quit the Day Job:
So come on over and congratulate Rose. We’ve got lots of virtual cake and bars and hot cocoa to share with all of you.
Posted on February 6, 2013 - by Brenda Anderson
Scenes are one of the basic building blocks of a novel. Each scene is a micro-story with a beginning, middle, and end that has its own goals, story arc, and purpose. It should advance the story and change the characters, propelling the reader toward the novel’s resolution and conclusion.
One way to clean up your novel is by taking it apart scene by scene. Analyze them by asking yourself the following questions. In the end you should have a deeper, more purposeful scene. Or perhaps you’ll decide it can be deleted–that can be painful, but eliminating unnecessary scenes does create a tighter story.
- Is this scene necessary for the story? Before you dive into perfecting the scene, perhaps this is the most important question to ask. Does the novel as a whole survive without that scene? If the action doesn’t move the story forward to its resolution, if the reader doesn’t learn something new and pertinent, consider eliminating the scene. I know, ouch. As writers, most of us have written that scene we absolutely love. The narrative flows, the dialogue is witty, and the descriptions draw us right into the setting, but … It’s not necessary. Some of my favorite scenes have ended up in the *deleted* file.
- Have I grounded the setting? Does the reader know where and when this scene is taking place? The setting needs to be grounded in the first paragraph or your reader will be adrift.
- Have I made use of SHIFTS, aka the six senses? (yes, six–I talked about them <here>). While it’s not necessary to employ all the senses in every scene, the more you use, the deeper you involve the reader. A good rule of thumb is to appeal to at least three senses per scene. A writer typically uses hearing and seeing; see how many additional sensory images you can add. Often it just takes a single word to deepen the story.
- Have I stayed in one person’s POV? Sorry, no head-hopping allowed!
- Is the POV character the one most impacted by the scene? If not, consider changing the POV. Then the reader will intimately feel the tension.
- Does the POV character have an established goal? What does your character want to accomplish or prevent happening? Do they have a strategy to achieve that goal? By establishing a specific goal, you’ve created a question in the reader’s mind of “Will So-and-so achieve their goal?” and they’ll keep reading to find the answer.
- Does this scene have conflict? Is there something standing in the way of your POV character from reaching their scene goal? If not, add a few stumbling blocks.
- Do my characters experience tension? Is there any inner turmoil going on, pulling your character in two or more directions?
- Is there a climax? A high point where emotions are escalated?
- Are my characters changed by what’s occurred in the scene?
- Does the resolution hook the reader and make them want to turn the page? If you’ve ended with a *happily-ever-after* resolution, it’s easy for the reader to put the book down. Make certain you’ve planted some question in your reader’s mind that will force them to read on.
Admittedly, I’m guilty of not asking all these questions when I edit or critique, but I plan to keep these questions beside the computer from now on.