What’s Your Texas Ranger Nickname?

Last week, I had the chance to be part of a super fun Release Party for Seven Brides for Seven Texans. We had over a hundred guests at our party, along with games and prizes. It was such a fun way to kick off this book!

Seven Brides for Seven Texans is beginning to appear on the bookstore shelves and at big box stores. If you see it, snap a photo and post it on Facebook. It’s fun for me to see where it’s showing up.

For my segment of the party, I made up a little game called “What’s Your Texas Ranger Nickame?” My hero, Chisholm Hart, is a dimpled Texas Ranger with wit, grit, and charm. In the words of my friend Shannon Vannatter, “Y’all might like to piddle around with the game, too.”

Oh, by the way, I described Chisholm with “dimples as deep as canyons.”

 

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get down to business. Y’all need Ranger nicknames.

tx-ranger-nickname

 

And here’s the bookmark that we ended up choosing, mostly because the one with the seven riders ended up being a screen shot from the Magnificent Seven. Ooops.

bookmark-final

So what’s your Texas Ranger nickname? Do dimples make you swoon? Oh, I sure hope so. And if you’d like some book marks to share with friends or place in your local library, leave me a note below. I’d love some help from my “posse” in spreading the word about this fun novella collection.

When the writing stops – a RE-introduction

When the writing stops . . . I didn’t plan to write a book.  Fifteen years ago – no TEN years ago – I would have laughed at the prospect. I mean, maybe a little devotional or a sweet little encouraging gift book?

In The Beginning . . .

. . . I found fanfiction – I started reading stories and found some incredibly well-written pieces, and some not-so-well-written. After reading some of the not-so-good, and running out of the excellent, I decided that if I wanted to read good stories, then maybe I should think about writing some. So I did. I found somewhat of a following, and the instant gratification was AMAZING.

That’s when I met author Lorna Seilstad. She and a few other writers on the site were trying to make the transition from fanfiction to published original fiction. I joined their group, and I started writing in earnest.

Serious Writer? Me?

I joined ACFW, and started networking on email loops and blogs, started writing on Inkspirational Messages, and before my first ACFW conference, I already had friends “in the biz.” The first author who reached out to me outside of our beloved Inkspers was Kaye Dacus. I interacted on her blog, and when we met, she said, “you’ve got to meet Kathy Cretsinger.”

Sometime after that, I did, and joined the Ken-Ten (Kentucky/Tennessee) Writers’ Group. I was in the group a little over a year when I really started looking for someone to publish my book. Since it’s Christian Fiction of the “romantical” sort, I thought maybe Love Inspired. They asked for a full manuscript, but when all was said and done, they didn’t want it. I entered contests. Got the same scores no matter WHAT I did to it.

So I gave up. Kinda.

After the last rejection, I took a break from writing, my writing group, and this blessed blog. But it wouldn’t go away. I tried starting other books. I kept going back to Carolina Dream, the book of my heart. I don’t know what it was about that story.

So, after a year of upheaval, minor health issues, and a busy life in general, I felt the urge to go back to my writing group, and writing. In corresponding with Kathy, who is the unofficial leader of our group, she indicated that she was interested in my book. She had read it, she liked it, and, by the way, she had a publishing company, Mantle Rock Publishing.

I wasn’t sure. I mean, was I ready? Had I missed my opportunity? It’s kind of like the guy who drowned in a flood. He got to the Pearly Gates and asked God why He didn’t rescue him? God said, “Man, I sent you a raft, a boat, and a helicopter!”

I felt like this opportunity, and Kathy, was my helicopter. I still do.

Publishing Contract Signing with Mantle Rock Publishing, Kathy Cretsinger
Publishing Contract Signing with Mantle Rock Publishing, Kathy Cretsinger

What Next?

Currently, my book, still titled Carolina Dream, is in the hands of an editor who is doing wonderful things with it. A graphic artist is working on a cover. One of these days I’ll reveal that both here and on my author website.

In April, after I get up from keeling over at the sight of my new book, I’ll invite all of YOU to the launch party.

God didn’t want me to quit writing indefinitely, but he had things to show me in the interim. Things like watching two girls grow up into young women, go to college, suffer heartbreak, move away, etc. Things like helping a husband get ready for retirement somewhere down the road. Things like accepting some things as they are, and changing things that need to be changed. Just little things like that.

It all came down to this – when I decided to get back in the writing game, I re-read the story of my heart. Guess what? I still liked it. I still LIKE it.

God doesn’t give you a story that’s a dud. EVER.

 

Thanks for reading, and for having me back!

Regina

Regina Merrick

Summer Reading

I am having “Christmas in July” and trying to read all of the Christmas themed books in TBR pile. I have two down and two to go so I’m making progress! I know, I know, it’s summer and in August, I’ll get back to seasonal reading. Here are the books on my summer TBR list (excluding my own shameless plug).

 

 

Rodeo ReunionShannon Vannatter had a June 2015 release, Rodeo Reunion. Who doesn’t love a good rodeo story? Since Shannon never disappoints, I’m really looking forward to reading her latest release.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 12 Brides of Summer #4 is another book I’m anxious to read. Especially, Davalynn Spencer’s contribution12 Brides of Summer to this anthology, The Columbine Bride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Love BloomsOf course my list wouldn’t be complete without our own Lorna Seilstad’s book, As Love Blooms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now to my own shameless plug! Reclaiming the Cowboy’s Heart was an April release, but the story takes place at the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo which is going on right now as you read this post! Print and ebook versions of this book are still available.Reclaiming the Cowboy's Heart 1

Do you read seasonal books out of season like my Christmas in July reading list? I hope you leave a message, but I want everyone to know, I won’t be stopping by to comment back. I will flying to NYC for the RWA conference today and once I get there I have a full schedule!

 

 

 

 

As Love Blooms at Como Park Conservatory

As Love Blooms Giveaway ends tomorrow!
~*~ See contest rules below ~*~


When I saw the cover of Lorna Seilstad‘s newest release, As Love Blooms, I got so excited. There, in the background, is the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park, one of the prettiest indoor gardens in Minnesota. I haven’t visited the Conservatory very often, but I knew I’d be going again, this time with book in hand.

Como is more than just a Conservatory, it also has a small zoo and amusement park. Back a few years ago when I was in grade school, taking a field trip to the Como amusement park was the highlight of the year. Como Park Zoo and Conservatory offers a great family experience for people of all ages. The Conservatory is also a popular place for weddings and receptions.

My trek there this time was all about the Conservatory. On Wednesday, my daughter and I took a field trip to Como and took a few shots with As Love Blooms. This visit had an extra special surprise. As this year is the 100th Anniversary of the Como Park Conservatory, they had a display set up with clothes and a table setting from the era, along with other vintage items. I think you’ll agree that Tessa Gregory looks fabulous in the setting.

The day was overcast, and my little camera doesn’t do the park justice, so you’ll just have to come to Minnesota to experience the Conservatory yourself.

DSCN5918 (450 x 600)Can’t you see Tessa Gregory in that dress?
As Love BloomsOr seated at this table?
As Love Blooms - Como ConservatoryOr working in this garden?

As Love Blooms among calla lilies

As Love BloomsAnd here you get to see Tessa *alongside* the St. Paul Superintendent of Parks, Fred Nussbaumer
As Love BloomsI can imagine Tessa seated on this bench beside Reese.
As Love BloomsOr walking this path with Reese, holding hands.

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As Love BloomsGIVEAWAY 

Every time you leave a comment on Inkspirational Messages blog posts dated April 27, 2015 to May 8, 2015, you will be entered to win a copy of As Love Blooms. The name will be drawn by Random.org on Saturday, May 9, 2015 at midnight CST and the winner’s name will then be posted on our blog on Sunday, May 10, 2015. (Continental U.S. residents only)

First Book of the New Year

There is something magical about the New Year. Perhaps its the thought of 365 days of blank pages on which we can write the story of our lives. For most of us here, it’s the thought of 365 days where we can read.

The Inkspers want to take this opportunity to point out some of the books they are most looking forward to in the new year. Along with that, I’d like to know what you chose to read as your first book of the new year. If you haven’t chosen one, maybe you’ll find some inspiration here over the next two weeks.

Here are a few that have already caught my eye:

Tagg-StartThis cover just screams fun. It looks like a movie poster to me. Melissa Tagg’s From the Start releases in mid April according to Christianbook.com. You can pre-order it here.

Here’s the back cover blurb.

Kate Walker used to believe in true love and happily-ever-after before a short-lived engagement left her brokenhearted. At least her disillusionment with romance hasn’t kept her from churning out made-for-TV screenplays and fluffy novels. That is, until a major career slump sends her running home to her father and the town of Maple Valley. Her plan to help her dad write his memoir while she figures out where to go next takes a surprising turn when she finds new inspiration in the most unexpected person.

After an injury permanently sidelines NFL player Colton Greene, he is temporarily hiding out in a friend’s small town to avoid the media and reminders of the betrayal that led to his career’s end. Maple Valley is conveniently also the perfect place to prove to his former girlfriend that he’s ready to settle down and lead a normal life. The only trouble is that he’s never really done normal before and has no idea where to start.

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Tammy-CullenHow can anyone resist a beautiful horse on the cover of a book? And guess what the heroe’s name in in Tamera Alexander’s To Win Her Favor? It’s Cullen McGrath. Isn’t that a great name?

Here’s a little more about Cullen and Maggie’s story.

An Irish-born son far from home, Cullen McGrath left a once prosperous life in England because of a horse racing scandal that nearly ruined him. He’s come to Nashville for a fresh start, hoping to buy land and start a farm, all while determined to stay as far away from thoroughbred racing as possible. But starting over proves harder than he’d wagered, especially when Maggie Linden’s father makes him an offer he shouldn’t accept yet cannot possibly refuse.

Maggie is certain that her mare, Bourbon Belle, can take the top purse in the annual Drayton Stakes at Nashville’s racetrack–the richest race run in America. Maggie only needs the chance to prove it. To give her that chance, and to save Linden Downs from being sold to the highest bidder, Maggie’s father–aging, yet wily as ever–makes a barter. His agreement includes one tiny, troublesome detail–Maggie must marry a man she’s never met. A man she never would have chosen for herself.

Cullen and Maggie need each other in order to achieve their dreams. But their stubborn, wounded hearts–and the escalating violence from a “secret society” responsible for lynchings and midnight raids–may prove too much for even two determined souls.

You can pre-order To Win her Favor here.

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BloomsAnd I have to be honest about the book I’m most looking forward to in 2015. It’s the last book in the Gregory Sisters Series, As Love Blooms. It’s Tessa’s story. I’ve been reading the final page proofs the last few days and enjoying somethings about the story that even I had forgotten.

I think you’ll really enjoy Tessa’s “life is an adventure” attitude, and I can’t wait to share Tessa’s story with the world.

Here’s the back cover copy for the May release.

Tessa Gregory is nothing if not tenacious. Denied a position as a horticulturalist at prestigious Como Park in Saint Paul, she is not above a little benevolent deception in order to get the park superintendent to change his mind and hire her. She plans to infiltrate the world of wealthy and influential people in hopes of drumming up financial support for a world-class conservatory. But before she can put those plans into action, she meets Reese King, a handsome gardener at Como Park–and a major distraction. Still, Reese might be the key to achieving her dream. But is his goal to help her . . . or to capture her heart?

Against a lush backdrop of early twentieth century Saint Paul, Minnesota, Lorna Seilstad weaves a sweet and sassy story that is sure to please. Tessa’s young romance opens like a rose, stealing readers’ hearts and filling their senses with the intoxicating fragrance of dreams come true.

You can pre-order As Love Blooms here.

So what’s the first book of 2015 for you? Is your wish list already growing? Don’t worry. You have 360 days left in the year to read!

 

 

Only Child and I’m Passing It On

Only child checking in. I know the birth order traits aren’t set in stone and that no one will have all the traits. But I kind of took a birth order test when Lorna talked about it on Seekerville and it was fun. So, here goes.

*Create imaginary companions

I did have imaginary companions. But mine weren’t the typical imaginary friend. And they never came to life until my tween years. I created stories to act out in my head. Since I watched a lot of detective shows, I was always the damsel in distress and my imaginary companion was my hero. I also included whoever my best friend was at the time and her hero as side characters in my stories.

One story stayed with me for a while. It got longer and more complicated. For years, I’d tweak it and add twists. I thought it was a movie, but I didn’t want to go to Hollywood. When I finally met my real-life hero, I put the story away and lived my own.

When I was in my thirties, I finally realized that long ago story could be a book. It was the first book I wrote, got fifty-two rejections, but eventually became my 8th published book.

*Struggle with frustration

Nope. I’m pretty optimistic and generally happy. If I have something to worry about or that frustrates me, I usually forget to worry or be frustrated.

*Want freedom

Nope. I wish I was independent. But I’m so not. I’m totally happy right where I am.

*Spiritually want to settle issues of right and wrong

Yes. Oh yes. There is no gray with me. It’s black or white. If the Bible says it’s wrong, it’s wrong. Period.

*Strengths—demonstrative, organized, clarity of purpose, stable, academically successful, self-confident

I’m physically demonstrative to the point that my son often begs me to stop kissing him when I tuck him in at night. Don’t tell anybody I still do that. He’d be so embarrassed. And I beg him to sit in my lap. Even though he’s twelve and smashes the life out of me when he occasionally gives in.

My husband and I hug a lot. There’s just nothing like a good hug. Stress reliever, love, and comfort rolled up in one gesture. Love it.

I’m so unorganized, it’s not even funny. In my opinion, it takes too long to organize stuff. I just dig through ‘til I find what I need and do it.

I’m stable. If I say I’ll do something, I do it. Period. Even if I don’t want to.

I have clarity of purpose. Once I set a goal, I never give up. I’m like a snapping turtle. I. Don’t. Let. Go. That helped a lot during the nine and a half years, I tried to get published.

I always had good grades. Even though every subject in school bored me to tears. Bad grades embarrassed me. And even though my parents didn’t stress good grades, I didn’t want to face them with bad ones.

Self-confident? Sometimes. Depends on if I feel like I’m in my zone. Writing and church – yes. In a room full of strangers not based around either topic – no.

I was painfully shy all through school and years later I learned others thought I was stuck up because I never talked. Cosmetology school snapped me out of my shyness. I realized it was more uncomfortable to spend 30 minutes cutting someone’s hair and not talking than to make conversation during a haircut. But I still crawl inside myself if I’m around people I don’t know.

Booksignings are a wonderful kind of torture for me. I love talking to readers, but I have to force myself to crawl out of my shell and talk to people I don’t know.

*Weaknesses—sullen, reluctant to share, not street smart

I’m not sullen. I’d much rather talk it out if something’s bothering me.

I’m not reluctant to share. My feelings, my opinion, or my stuff. My mom was so determined I wouldn’t be selfish, she really worked at teaching me to share. To the point that I gave my toys away.

I’m so not street smart. I’d never make it in a big city. I don’t even drive in big cities. I’m way too trusting. I look for good in people and I’m very naive. God knew what He was doing when He paved the way for my parents to move from a suburb of Atlanta, GA back to their hometown in rural Arkansas when I was twelve.

*Gets mad when being intruded on

I don’t get mad when intruded on. But I don’t mind being alone. I can totally entertain myself and sometimes, I just need some down time. If we’ve had a busy week of go, go, go—I need a night or two to just be home. If hubby and son want to keep going, I’m fine with that. I let them go and stay home alone.

*Qualities—prefer to work alone, extremely responsible or very helpless, stubborn, comfortable being the center of attention, stays on the beaten path

I do prefer to work alone. When I worked in an office setting, I loved my little cubicle. I wished everyone would stay out of it, so I could just do my job. Later, I graduated to an office. I really loved that.

I love brainstorming sessions with other writers, but I can’t imagine co-authoring with someone else. I think that would drive me nuts. A novella collection with other authors would work. But I want to write my own story. By. Myself.

I’m extremely responsible. If I say I’ll do it, I will. And if I mess up, I’ll take responsibility for my mess up. I’m not helpless. Dependent, but not helpless.

I’m stubborn. I really, really want my way. And I don’t understand why everybody else can’t see that I’m right and just let me have my way. Being stubborn helped in my pursuit of publication helped too. I. Don’t. Give. Up.

I’m so uncomfortable being the center of attention. It makes me want to melt through the floor.

I do stay on the beaten path. I’m definitely a follower, not a leader.

I went a little more in depth here and it was fun. On a final note, I liked being an only child. My parents didn’t go overboard or spoil me, but if anybody got anything, it was me. I had my own room and plenty of privacy. As an adult, sometimes I think a sibling would be nice. Like when I planned and paid for my parent’s fiftieth anniversary by myself. As my parents age, a sibling would probably come in handy. They’re still in great health, but someday, it’ll just be me taking care of them.

When I was a hairdresser, I noticed a few things about families with several children. Either the older ones took care of the younger ones and had to grow up. Or the baby got all the attention and the older children were neglected. Not in every family, but these observations helped me to decide that I I’d pass the only child thing on to my child.

So, I’m raising an only child. He got to be the baby as long as he wanted to be and he’s the center of attention. We don’t go overboard or spoil him. But my parent’s work hard at compensating for us since he’s the only grandchild ever.

Chime in only children. Did you like it? Or were you lonely? Did you long for a sibling? Or were you glad to go it alone?

While Love Stirs PromotionLeave a comment for a chance to win the prize package. It includes a copy While Love Stirs, a Fannie Farmer cookbook (Charlotte goes to Fannie Farmer’s School of Cookery), and a Recipe for an Amazing Woman cutting board. 

Giveaway ends at midnight  on Friday, May 23, and is open to those in the continental U.S. only. Winner will be chosen by Random.org. The more comments you leave in the next two weeks, the more chances you’ll have to win.

Along for the Ride

Pella meetingOn a rainy April day back in 2008 I sat beside Lorna Seilstad on our way out to Pella, Iowa. Lorna had learned of a meeting of Iowa writers and although excited about the prospect of meeting other writers, was a little intimidated to go by herself. I, being the great supporting character that I am, offered to go with her. It was just a fun trip to get out of town and have some girl time.

Little did I know that day would change Lorna and my paths forever. The meeting did start out a little rocky, we were waiting in the loft for the women to come—they were waiting below for us to get there—it ended up to be fortuitous since that is where we met Judith Miller.

It never fails to amaze me how God moved us at the right time and the right place to meet the right person for our future.

I was still along for the ride. Judy encouraged Lorna to join the ACFW. Not to be left out, I joined also, even though I really wasn’t seriously writing. But, I had recently been able to quit working which gave me time to work on my writing, even if it was just for fun.

In the meantime Lorna submitted her manuscript to the Genesis contest, received an offer to publish it, and off we went together to the First ACFW conferenceACFW conference that fall. I can honestly say both our minds exploded just a bit at that experience.

I went to one agent meeting that year, and looking back I had no clue what I was doing. And it didn’t go so well, but I did get bitten by the bug. After that conference, I knew what I wanted to do.

I don’t know that Lorna ever saw any real promise in my writing. Looking back, as most of us do, I realize how much I had to learn. But it was only because Lorna had the courage first, to take that initial step out of her comfort zone, that I got to go along for the ride. It was, after all, in God’s plan all along. I know that now.

So, the author that influenced me the most is none other than our very own Lorna Seilstad. Because she never once laughed at my efforts (although she did chuckle—and still does—at some of my crazy ideas) and she continues to encourage me every time we talk. She’s relentless in her support, always willing to listen, and read, and every once in a while chastise me when I need it.

I’m blessed to have a best friend who has cut the path ahead of me because God knew if I had to do it myself, I never would. He sent me along for the ride, first.

Spring Reads – The Final Four

*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:

WISHING ON WILLOWS by Katie Ganshert

Description:

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.

Reading Now:

WHEN THE MORNING GLORY BLOOMS by Cynthia Ruchti

Description:

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:

UNDENIABLY YOURS by Becky Wade

Description:

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.

ORDINARY GRACE by William Kent Krueger

Description:

“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.

***Contest Reminder***

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.

D.E.A.R. Day Dilemma

Dear Drop Everything And Read Day,

You have placed me in quite the dilemma. As you know, I love to read, and dropping everything to pick up a book is never a difficult task.

But …

The question is, on this very special day What should I read? Oh my, the plethora of good books out there puts me in quite the quandry.

First of all there are new books out by our very own Inkspirational Messages authors! (Congratulations Lorna & Shannon!!) So, do I read Lorna Seilstad’s fun new release, The Ride of Her Life? (For amusement park fanatics like me, note that sweet roller coaster.)

The only man pragmatic Lilly Hart needs in her life is a six year old. Widowed two years ago, Lilly leaves the shelter of her intrusive in-laws’ home to stand on her own and provide for her young son by working for the summer as a cook at Lake Manawa. However, her in-laws find that life utterly unsuitable for their grandson, and when a row ensues, a handsome stranger–who designs roller coasters, of all things–intercedes on her behalf. Still, Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, especially this cocky (though charismatic) gentleman. Little does she know she is about to begin the ride of her life.

Or do I pick up Shannon Vannatter’s heart-stopping release, Rodeo Hero? (Seriously, who can resist a cowboy?)

Kendra Maddox is a new Christian trying to live her new beliefs. Stetson Wright is a youth director/rodeo clown who believes true love waits. Can they overcome her promiscuous past and claim a future together?

And then there are the three books I just picked up from my local library. DiAnn Mills’ (one of The Best romantic suspense authors out there) The Chase sounds riveting.

To the FBI it’s a cold case. To Kariss Walker it’s a hot idea that could either reshape or ruin her writing career. And it’s a burning mission to revisit an event she can never forget. Five years ago, an unidentified little girl was found starved to death in the woods behind a Houston apartment complex. A TV news anchor at the time, Kariss reported on the terrifying case. Today, as a New York Times bestselling author, Kariss intends to turn the unsolved mystery into a suspense novel. Enlisting the help of FBI Special Agent Tigo Harris, Kariss succeeds in getting the case reopened. But the search for the dead girl’s missing mother yields a discovery that plunges the the partners into a witch’s brew of danger. The old crime lives on in more ways than either of them could ever imagine. Will Kariss’s pursuit of her dream as a writer carry a deadly price tag?

Tom Pawlik’s Beckon will likely make me sleep with one eye open.

Some things weren’t meant to be discovered. Three people are each drawn to the small town of Beckon, Wyoming. A young anthropologist researches a Native American legend and makes a terrifying discovery. An ex-cop investigating her cousin’s disappearance finds herself in grave peril. And an aging businessman is lured by the promise of a miracle. One by one they discover the town’s ghastly secret. The only question is . . . will any of them make it out alive?

And if I feel like reading a tear-jerker, Legacy Road by Graham Garrison will encourage me to keep tissues handy.

Journalist Wes Watkins is on a roll. His career is taking off, he’s going back to school, and he’s about to propose to the love of his life, Emmy Stewart. When his stagey proposal flops, Wes’s world tilts. Emmy, a National Guard medic, is about to be deployed to Afghanistan. Wes’s mentor, Paul Gavin, persuades Wes to involve his estranged father, Ron, in a class Wes is taking on the Civil War; Ron, who had abandoned his family in favor of alcohol, has Civil War–era letters from a family ancestor. Wes naturally distrusts his father; Emmy has a secret in her past. When Wes finally reads a cache of letters Ron sent him as the younger man was growing up, other secrets emerge.

So many good books!

Oh, D.E.A.R. Day, how do I choose?

Well, I guess there’s only one good answer: Make every day Drop Everything and Read day! I’m in. How about you?

Sincerely,

Voracious Reader

Brenda Anderson

 

 

He Makes Me Lie Down in Green Pastures

In our rush-rush-rush world, I’m one of the queens. In the morning, I prioritize what has to be done and organize my day accordingly.

Hubby needs clean clothes for a trip. Done.

Kids need healthy stuff for lunches. Done.

Editors need edits back today. Done.

Blog needs written. Done.

The show choir teacher needs a mom to come at 7 a.m. to measure kids for their costumes. Done.

And I know I’m not alone. All of us sheep tend to fill our days to the brim, often out of necessity. Two jobs. A family who needs help. A class that needs taught. A task that must be done. A child who needs a story.

If there was ever a group of people who needed to lie down in the cool grass of green pastures, it’s us modern day, wooly headed, stubborn sheep.

But David, the shepherd? He didn’t have to deal with PTA or publishing deadlines. He didn’t worry about how he’d pay his rent or how much partially hydrogenated vegetable oil his children were consuming.

Good grief. He didn’t even have children or a wife for that matter. Why did God have to make him lie down?

And notice David said “makes” and not “made.” It was an ongoing thing. It happened more than once. God knew David needed to stop.

In studying Psalm 23, I find “He makes me lie down in green pastures” to be a fascinating verse. Sheep don’t lie down easily because they are afraid. There is a lot of tension in a flock. There’s friction among the sheep, rivalry, competition, and an ever present fear of the unknown.

Sound familiar? And when you think about when you need a break most, when does it stem from? The actual tasks on your list or your weariness in dealing with the people? The constant push of the world or the push that comes from within to succeed? The fear of not measuring up or the fear or the fear of failure?

I think there’s a secret in this verse we often rush past. God WILL make you lie down. It’s for your own good, but He will make sure you step away for times of rest.

When my kids were little, I occasionally suffered from migraine headaches. One day, my husband said he wasn’t surprised when I got one. He said he’d noticed they came when I hadn’t had any time to myself. He started, jokingly, calling them ME-graines.

Amazingly, when I went to my bedroom and would lie down for several hours, the headaches would disappear. Hmmm. My green pasture was a king size bed.

Since then, I’ve learned to make sure I had that time away so I could avoid the ME-graine pain. However, God always has a unique way of “making me lie down” when I need the time away from the world and I’ve learned to thank him for the flu, for blizzards and snowdays, and even electrical outages. His creativity is never-ending.

What about you? When is the last time God “made you lie down in green pastures”? Were you surprised by the pasture He chose, His timing, or that He had to make you lie down in the first place?