Musical Memories …

As a musician, I’ve completely enjoyed the Inksper topic these past two weeks, hearing everyone’s music preferences and favorites. And through the comments, I’ve already shared I’m definitely a rock ‘n roll fan, and not at all a country fan. Beyond that, my tastes are rather eclectic. I love orchestras and Skillet and Donny Osmond and Steve Green, and much in between. So, since you know that already, I’m taking a different angle toward music: from my character’s perspective.

Memory Box Secrets

In my new release, Memory Box Secrets, the heroine, Sheila Peterson-Brooks, has a musical past, one that she’s suppressed as music conjures up painful memories for her. Yet it’s music that helps her see her past in a different light, eventually bringing healing.

To answer the Inksper topic question: Is Sheila a little bit country, or a little bit rock ‘n roll? The answer is a definitive rock ‘n roll. She and her husband, Richard, are not country fans at all. Her preferred listening choices are rock and classical music.

One of her favorite songs growing up was “Open Arms” by Journey. All she ever wanted from her parents was to be welcomed–loved–with open arms, something that never happened, so now the song invokes bittersweet memories.

Sheila is also a big piano fan, loving the piano versions of “Fur Elise” “Canon in D” and “Beethoven’s Ninth.” But like “Open Arms”, “Fur Elise” stirs up memories she’d like to keep buried. Yet music has a way of bringing buried memories to the surface, and with that, comes healing.

Question: Are there any songs that stir up memories for you?

Memory Box Secrets (Coming Home Series #2)
Available at Amazon | B&N | BAM

Music Memories

My earliest recollection of really listening and loving music were when I was around four or five years old. The farm house my parents rented had a jukebox in the upper bedrooms, and I remember my brothers and I punching the buttons and listening to the records play on lazy summer afternoons. One of the main songs we listened to on that old juke was Flying Purple People Eaters. The photo to the right was taken by Otto Phokus on Flickr.

During this time I also remember one particular perfect summer evening where the fireflies came out in abundance. I danced around the yard to Rockin’ Robin and Loves Me Like a Rock. Then there was Your Momma Don’t Dance and Alone Again, Naturally, Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me, and Song Sung Blue. However, my favorite by far was Sammy Davis Jr. singing Candy Man. These songs always bring me back to a happy place.

Photo by Michael Sauers
Photo by Michael Sauers

During my teenage years I spent more time listening to Led Zepplin and Aerosmith. My first boyfriend made me cassette tape of love songs (I still have it somewhere in my many containers of memorabilia in my garage). On that tape were Sunshine of Your Love by Cream, Tuesday Afternoon by The Moody Blues, and Crazy on You by Heart, and many more. These songs bring me back to a bittersweet place since we only dated a short while, but the songs stayed in my heart ever since.

If I had to name my all-time favorite artist or group, Led Zepplin and Journey tie for first place. Aerosmith would come in a close second after those two groups. But to be fair I also love the Eagles, Kansas and The Little River Band. Now I find myself listening to more adult contemporary songs.

So in the battle of rock vs. country, as you can see, rock wins hands down. Just for fun, here’s an entertaining video of a young group of musicians  playing Led Zepplin’s Kashmir. What an awesome teacher and some really talented students keeping the music alive. And can you believe they aren’t even looking at the music? Crazy good!!

Rock On!!!!!

Lessons from The Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings 03-25-15

The Lord of the Rings is a classic. So many life lessons can be learned from examining just one of the many characters in these novels.

The greatest lesson I have learned is that through Jesus, I’m capable of more than I thought. Just like Frodo, God calls us to take many journeys. Journeys full of danger, pain, sorrow, and maybe even death. Most often we don’t feel qualified or capable. Like Frodo, parts of the journey become too hard to bear and we contemplate bailing.

The sacrifice is too much and sorrow surrounds us immobilizing our efforts. We cry, we ask God why He chose us for such a task. We ask Him to pass this cup from us because we can’t possibly see the outcome as favorable. We realize we may not survive. But He speaks across our hearts whispering to do His will and go with Him. He promises to be with us and carry our burden when it’s too much to bear.

He is our Samwise Gamgee.

And though we cannot see it, this journey will create hope and healing for the great many people. Many will come to Christ through Jesus if we accept the journey from Him. So don’t be afraid to be used. Be honored and know that whatever journey God calls you take, He will make you capable through Jesus.

Question: Has God sent you on a journey you’ve been reluctant to accept?

Five Years and Counting


Five years. Wow. 2010 seems like a lifetime ago. I had just gained control of my chronic illness and sent my baby to Kindergarten. Looking back, a change of season took me down a road I never anticipated. At that time, God whispered across my heart an enormous task I thought impossible to accomplish. Write a book. What? Me? Write? You’ve got the wrong person.

But I entertained the idea and dreamed. What if I did write a book? What kind of book would I write? Definitely a romance, definitely a page turner. But how in the world does one write a book? I prayed and began to write. Four months later I finished my first novel.

It. Was. Awful. I often apologize to the people who faithfully read that first draft as I’m surprised it didn’t kill them.

I encountered a reversal of destiny. Growing up I hated to read, let alone write. But God called me to do something I never dreamed capable. That’s how I knew He worked through me. I could not do this on my own.

I soon realized I needed training. I took continuing education courses and found a local writing group. As I learned more about the craft, I edited that first manuscript and entered it into contests. It received an honorable mention at its first contest (that’s how I met our dear Shannon Vannatter).

After finding ACFW and entering it in The Genesis, the feedback received told me it had potential, but wasn’t ready for publication. I worked on two sequels and soon realized I had been in the same story world for three years. Unsure of putting that project down, I prayed and decided to start anew.

Back to the drawing board I went. God kept pushing upon me the idea of non-fiction. Really Lord? But I LOVE fiction! I ignored Him and pressed on to my next fiction project. I gained insight and understanding of the concepts needed in the fiction world, but I soon lost interest as the need to help people consumed me. I finally waved my white flag to God and said, “Yes, I’ll write non-fiction.”

He gave me concepts of spiritual transformation from my own journey and how to show the love of Christ in actuality. What loving like Christ looks like in real life, not just in theory. So as I journey through this process of letting God lead, I’m confident I’ll be published within the next five years. I’m not sure how or when, but I know God has a plan and a purpose. I’m just following His lead.

I have many random facts unique to me that others would not know.

  1. I’m a military brat, so I’m pretty well rounded and cultured as I’ve been part of many different places and congregations across and outside of the United States.
  2. I was born in the Philippines. My husband often tells people he married a Philippino.
  3. I almost died at birth and as a result have no belly button.
  4. I received Jesus in my heart and was baptized into Christ at the age of ten. In July, spiritually speaking, I will be 28 years old.
  5. Believe it or not, I am a half cup empty kind of gal. I struggle to find that silver lining each and every day. But if I can do it, so can you!


Question: How has God used your weaknesses to do great things?

Leave a comment today and the rest of the week and you’ll be entered in a drawing for an Inkspirational Messages mug and a surprise collection of books. The winning name will be drawn by The deadline to leave a comment is Friday, March 13.

Forever yours, Faithfully

There are few voices that really strike me and make my knees go all weak. Josh Groban is certainly one of them. However, as a teenager there was one singer that crooned about small town girls living in a lonely world and a highway that runs into the midnight sun. I never stopped believing, even after the lights went down in the city. I fell stoned in love right along with their lyrics on a dusty road which led to a river, running slow. The author of these songs had to have looked into my soul when they were penned, because it felt as if they were written just for me.
Journey funSteve Perry of Journey was my first real big rock ‘n roll crush. His is a voice that you know as soon as he begins to sing, and his melancholy notes take you along on an emotional, musical ride. The songs always seem to be longing for something, which tugged at the heart strings of thousands of teenagers across the land. Songs like Faithfully, and Separate Ways/Worlds Apart with their ballad style drove them to the top ten time after time in the 80’s. Every time I hear their songs, it takes me right back to those days.
A couple of years ago a girlfriend and I went to see Journey play. Steve Perry was no longer the lead singer, but Arnel Pineda, the new singer, did Steve proud. In fact I think he was better. That man could sing to me any day! It was a magical night spent belting out (along with hundreds of other concert-goers) the songs I knew and loved from my teenage years. I swooned more than once! What a great night.
All of Journey’s songs have a special place in my memories and heart. I couldn’t give you a favorite even if I tried. I will always be Journey in concert forever, faithfully one of Journey’s biggest fans. In fact, all the pictures on the post today are from that concert my girlfriend and I went to.

If liked Journey, which of their songs was your favorite? For a trip down memory lane, here’s a link to Journey’s video splicing parts of both Arnel Pineda and Steve Perry singing Faithfully.


Shannon will be sending a copy of Rodeo Song to one lucky commenter. Every time you leave a comment in the next two weeks, your chances of getting your hands on it will increase. The giveaway ends on Friday, June 20 at midnight, central time, and is open to continental U.S. residents only.

Don't Stop Believing

My first actual finished writing project was a women’s study I put together to help women begin to believe in themselves and live a fuller life. It goes step by step in the process of breaking bad habits while putting better ones in their place, learning to listen beyond the spoken word, and recognizing the labels we put on ourselves or others place on us does not make us who we are but that we can become that which we aspire to be.

What makes me such an expert? Who do I think I am that I can tell others how to live a better life, when clearly I have no degree, no pedigree for which to show? If others only knew the personal struggles I had, they would see me as the hypocrite that I am and never listen to a word I had to say.

These, among others, are the words that play through my head whenever I even think about the study I put together. I used it with a women’s group once, to some degree of success, and has since gathered dust in my basement. I’m just a bit insecure when it comes to this study. Why? Because I know how imperfect I am and how deep inside me I know I am not a completely shining example for others to go by.

But, I do believe completely in the words I put together for that study. I’ve watched people live in a cycle of misery desiring a way to move beyond that into a prosperous life. Often times it’s just that we don’t see the forest because of the trees. We can’t see beyond our day because we are living just to survive. It starts first with a change of mind and attitude and works its way into a changed life. You just have to believe you can do it.

What does this have to do with writing advice? Everything. When I first put words together it was a jumbled up mess. I had stories in my heart that wanted to work their way out, but I had a lifetime of trouble and sorrow that I had to work through to get to the good stuff. I’m still working my way through some of my past demons.

But I believe. Probably stronger about this than I have anything else I have done in my life, I believe. I believe in me.

To many of you this may seem like a given thing. But it’s not for me. You see it took several years to stop seeing myself as more than a victim of circumstance. Daughter of alcoholic parents-victim. Didn’t go to college-victim. Troubled marriage-victim. But I’ve always felt there was something bigger, something more I was destined to do.

That’s where the writing comes in. I believe I am meant to write and reach out to other women through the written word. It’s been one of the strongest feelings I have ever had and it comes from a place deeper than the heart. It comes from my soul.

So the best advice I ever got was from a Journey’s song. Don’t stop believing. I didn’t realize when I put together the study but the theme was the same thing. Don’t stop believing in yourself. Even if that’s all we have is the belief in ourselves and the God who put that belief there. We don’t stop believing. We know some day that belief will be realized.