When Life Takes a Detour

DetourWe brought our youngest to college this past Sunday. Yes, college. Not kindergarten or middle school or even high school, but college. I have no clue how he got so old so fast!

By Saturday morning he was all packed with one important exception: he didn’t have his trombone. Have no fear, he’d just brought it in for a tune-up, which was scheduled to be completed Saturday morning. My son called the repair shop that Saturday morning, and was told it would be done in 20 minutes. Terrific! Since we were going to be in that area later in the afternoon, we decided to pick it up then.

Trombone

What we didn’t know was that the repair shop (which is inside an instrument retailer) was not officially part of the retailer, therefore it kept different hours. So, when we arrived at 2:30, that repair shop was locked up tight. Until Monday. And the employees of the retailer couldn’t access it. Being our son was heading to college a week early specifically for marching band camp, having his trombone was a pretty big deal.

So, on Sunday we made the 3-1/2 hour trek to Fargo, ND, without his horn. We got him settled, treated him to a meal, then said our good-byes. We took a deep breath and made the long drive home.

Then, come Monday morning, I was at that repair shop bright and early to pick up his trombone so I could make that 7-hour round-trip trek all by my lonesome. I got a total of two minutes of face time with my son before he scurried back to camp, and I faced the long drive alone. Again.

Lemon Meringue PieYeah, it was a pain in the tookus, but I had a choice to make: I could grumble the entire way, or I could make lemon meringue pie out of lemons. (I prefer lemon the pie to lemonade.)

For a week, I’d been struggling with a few scenes in my novel, Memory Box Secrets (to be released in 2015). I liked them, but they slowed the beginning of the story down, so they had to go. But how do you squeeze all the important info from two long scenes into one smaller scene and make it interesting? I eeked out 700 words last week–words that were boring, sentences and paragraphs that leaped from one plot element to another, and a scene that had no cohesion. It was bleh and had to go.

I had no clue how to write this important scene, and include all the elements needed for the story, while making it riveting. No clue until this 7-hour trip. By the time I arrived home, I had the scene plotted, the pertinent info included, and just the right amount of conflict and tension to keep the reader engaged.

Could I have achieved this without the little detour? Sure, it would have come to me eventually, with a lot more wasted hours than the seven it took me to drive. Maybe the next time I’m struggling with a scene, I’ll just have to give my son a call and let him know I’m coming on up!

Now, to get that scene down on paper …

What’s Up Next?

What's Up Next?First, I want to thank all my readers for supporting me on this writing journey. Your encouragement and prayers make this writing road trip much easier to navigate. (Sorry, couldn’t help the road trip analogy–I’ve just spent the last two days in the car!)

Anyway, a number of people have been asking me What’s Up Next? When does your next book release? So here’s the scoop:

PIECES OF GRANITE is scheduled for release on October 14, 2014. Now, the fun of working with a small publisher means that the book could potentially release earlier, or a few weeks later, but it should release around that time.

That leads to the next question people ask: What’s Pieces of Granite (PoG) about?

PoG is the 2nd book to release in the Coming Home Series, and it’s a prequel to Chain of Mercy. Debbie Verhoeven, Richard Brooks’ (Chain of Mercy hero) little sister, is the heroine. So, yes, you will get glimpses of Richard in his previous life, but this is Debbie’s story. If you’re looking for something light, I’m afraid you won’t find it here, but I’m certain that doesn’t surprise you. :)

Here’s the back cover blurb:

A distressing diagnosis
A retreating husband
A prodigal brother

Couple ArgueFormer counselor Debbie Verhoeven is not your typical stay-at-home mom:

  • She sacrificed a counseling career to be a full-time mother
  • She’d rather pound a nail than round steak
  • Oprah? No way! Give her ESPN any day
  • Nothing could be more stressful than scrapbooking

Nothing, except …

a distressing diagnosis,
a husband who is pulling away,
and two older brothers who refuse to get along

When the counselor is caught in the middle, when she needs to be strong for those around her, who is left to be strong for her?

I’m also beginning the process of looking for a few additional influencers. If you’re interested, email me at Brenda (at) Brenda Anderson Books (dot) com and I’ll get you the info.

Lessons From Our Cat – Just Be Yourself

Book CatI love watching our cat, Kisses. She’s totally got a *catitude*. One minute she’s jumping on your lap and swabbing your face in kisses, then suddenly she’s nipping at your fingers.

During the day, she sleeps and sleeps and sleeps and looks adorable doing so, curled up in a ball on my office chair or stretched out on our bed. But when she wakes up, it’s play time. My husband, Marvin, is her favorite toy. He may complain about the pain she inflicts, but then he’s the one who scratches the couch to get her to chase his hand. I don’t feel sorry for him. Nope, not one little bit.

Sleepy KittyCome evening, she begs for her daily cuddle. Usually with our youngest. She reaches up to him to get picked up, then she drapes herself over his shoulder, all four legs and paws stretched out in absolute contentment.

Kisses on FridgeAnd, of course, there’s the cat curiosity. Is that a new piece of paper on the floor? I better go lay on it! Oh, the cupboard door’s open! Finally, I have permission to explore! Cool, you got me a new box! I better jump in it and check it out! You get the picture …

Kitty playing with Pooh

Playing with Pooh! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. :)

They say a cat has nine lives? Not only that, it’s got nine personalities for each of those nine lives. And I love every one of those personalities. (Well, maybe not the “I want to eat you.” personality.)

The thing is, all those personalities are typical for a cat. Am I right? Kisses isn’t doing anything–she isn’t being anything other than what God created her to be. She doesn’t try to be a dog or a mouse or a bird or a human. She is herself, and that’s all she ever will be, and we love her just the way she is!

Why can’t people be like that?

Why can’t I be like that?

All too often I’ll look at someone else and say, “I wish I had their charisma” or “Why can’t I write like Charles Martin?” or “What I’d give to sing like Sandi Patty!”

I wonder what God thinks when we’re not happy with how He created us? What does He think when we don’t appreciate and use the gifts and talents He gave us? Why can’t we be content just being ourselves?

Just imagine how God can use us when we love who God created us to be! I’m not there yet, and maybe I’ll never be there this side of eternity, but I’ll always keep striving to just be me.

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.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139: 13 – 16

 

Chatting with Rose Ross Zediker

Rose Ross ZedikerI’ve had the great pleasure of getting to know Rose Ross Zediker through Inkspirational Messages. 2014 has been a pretty good year for Rose with two novels releasing, THE WIDOW’S SUITOR in February, and now SWEET ON THE COWGIRL this month, and, as you’ll see below, 2015 promises to be even busier!

Rose graciously took a few minutes out of her schedule to chat with me, and she’s also generously offered to give away one copy of Sweet on the Cowgirl! (Details below) Please welcome her!

Hi Rose – thanks for stopping by today! Could you tell my readers a little about yourself?

My husband and I have been married thirty-two years. We have a son, daughter-in-law and two very precious granddaughters. 

Sweet on the CowgirlCongratulations on your newest release, Sweet on the Cowgirl! I’m so excited for you and can’t wait to get my copy! Can you tell us about the story?

Laura Barnes Wants to Be a Cowgirl - 
Laura has always dreamed of being a trick rider in her family’s Wild West show. But her father will only allow her to perform if she disguises herself as Mr. Buckskin Jones. When soda-pop king Guy Roberts shows up to do business with her family, Laura is torn between keeping her identity under wraps and revealing her growing feelings for Guy. Guy is drawn to Laura’s poise and beauty, but he, too, guards a secret. As their affection for each other grows, Guy begins to think about a future that includes Laura. When both their secrets suddenly come to light, their romance will face the ultimate showdown.

What inspired this novel?

I was visiting the Casey Tibb’s Rodeo Center Pierre, SD where there is a wing for Mattie Newcombe, a South Dakota trick rider.

Sounds like a fun place to visit!

Could you tell us about your journey to publication?

I started writing in 1991 and found success in the Christian children’s magazine markets before turning my attention to inspirational romances in 2010.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on a four book contemporary rodeo series. The first book has characters in the forties and will release in April 2015. I’ve also been contracted to write a historical novella for Barbour Publishing to be included in a collection, also releasing next year.

Wow! You are going to be very busy! I LOVE that you’re writing about characters in their 40′s–that’s so different from what we usually find, and that demographic has a completely different set of challenges.

Which authors do you enjoy reading?

I’m a very eclectic reader. I do enjoy Melody Carlson and like how varied her writing is. I’m a huge fan of E. J. Copperman’s Haunted Guest House cozy mysteries.

Have any influenced your writing?

I think all good writers influence other writers. We are always studying how someone handles description or turns a phase, whether conscious or sub-conscious.

So true! What’s on your reading list right now?

Chain of Mercy, A Bride for All Seasons, Redeeming Love, and many, many more!

That is an eclectic list, and, may I say, I’m slightly partial toward Chain of Mercy. ;-)

When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?

I love to sew, make quilt tops and embroidery. And, of course, spoil my granddaughters.

Sounds wonderful!

And the most important question: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, or no chocolate? :)

Dark chocolate

About Rose~

Rose Ross Zediker lives in rural south eastern South Dakota and works full time for at The University of South Dakota. Rose uses her evenings and weekends to write. Besides writing inspirational romance novels, Rose has many publishing credits in the Christian children’s genre. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and SCBWI.

Where to reach Rose~

Where to purchase Sweet on the Cowgirl~

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD

More books by Rose~

Sweet on the Cowgirl>>>Book Giveaway<<<

Rose has graciously offered to give away one copy of Sweet on the Cowgirl! To enter, in the comments below, please tell us what your favorite flavor of pop / soda is.

This contest ends Sunday, August 17, 2014 at 11:59 pm CST. I will post the winner on Monday, August 18, 2014. Winner will be chosen via Random.org.

What True Love Is …

WeddingToday I celebrate 27 years together with my husband, Marvin. It’s been a fast 27 years, filled with a lot of ups and downs (mostly ups!) and a whole bunch of everyday moments. It’s living and loving through those everyday moments–doing dishes, mowing the lawn, changing diapers, etc.–when the euphoria of love has quieted, that shows what true love really is.

I’ve been blessed by this man who is my proudest cheerleader, a man who has selflessly provided for the family while I stayed home with the children, a man who loves Star Trek and books and roller coasters and baseball and Marvel movies as much as I do! Now that’s true love!

Henry Fonda says it perfectly in this scene from the 1968 version of Yours, Mine and Ours

Kym McNabney and Christian PenPals Ministry

Kym McNabneyWhen I put out the call for influencers this past spring, one of the responders was author Kym McNabney. I’d seen her name before through ACFW, but didn’t know her. Since then I’ve learned she loves stories and loves to write, just like I do, but what impresses me most is where she spends her volunteer time: as a coordinator for a pen pal prison and jail ministry. I’m in awe of people who see others through God’s eyes, who can treat the broken with love, and show what it really means to be Jesus’ hands and feet.

Kym graciously took time to tell me about this important ministry and her writing career, and I’m excited to share it with you!

Kym, when did you first become involved in the prison and jail ministry?

Wanting to do something from home, I started writing to my first pen pal back in 2004. After a few months, I added a couple more. In 2006 I visited Angola State Penitentiary, in Louisiana, where I stayed on the grounds for eight days. Upon doing cell visits, I was asked to find several of the inmates a pen pal, and added a few more to my list. Today I’m still writing several of the inmates I first started corresponding with back in early 2005.

Wow! How can others get involved with this ministry?

There are many ways to get involved in the prisons and jails, from doing Bible studies, to onetime serves during the holidays, to writing to those behind bars. I’m often told what I do is a wonderful thing, but what they don’t understand is the blessings I receive by serving far out way the blessings I’m providing. All the glory goes to God.

If you have the gift of mentoring, counseling, and love to write, you may want to consider writing to the least of these. Sadly, there is over a two-year wait for inmates to be connected to volunteers. You can contact Christian Pen Pals direct, http://christian-penpals.com/.

Stories of Faith and Courage from PrisonI understand you have stories published in STORIES OF FAITH AND COURAGE FROM PRISON (by Connie Cameron and Jeff Peck). How did that come about?

I’m the Coordinator for the adult pen pal program through my church, Willow Creek. We go through Christian Pen Pals to connect our volunteers with inmates. The woman who heads up CPP knows I’m a writer and gave my information to one of the authors of the devotional. Connie Cameron contacted me and asked if I was interested in contributing a story. One story turned into two, and by the time we were finished I had submitted thirteen stories under several pen names.

That’s awesome! Congratulations!

When did you first discover you wanted to write?

For a long time I was interested in drawing. In my teens, I thought about illustrating children’s books. One day I had an idea. Why not write the book as well. After all, how hard could it be? Several years passed, marriage and kids, and soon I was thinking once again of my childhood dream. I didn’t know anything about writing a story. It was then I decided to enroll in Institute for Children’s Literature. While enrolled in the at-home course, I had an article published for the first time in a boy’s Christian magazine, about owning a pet rat. Yep, that right. Owning a pet rat. After submitting a variety of short stories to no avail, I decided what I really wanted to do was write novels. After reading Stephen King’s book, On Writing, clueless I took a chance and dove in. In-between writing fiction, I wrote articles for Willow Creek Community Church’s Compassion and Justice blog. Several of the stories were on the prison and jail ministry.

What’s it like having your work published for the first time?

It’s surreal. Though I had an article published in a small press magazine years ago, this is a bigger scale. I felt honored to have just one story published in a book, but to have thirteen is just amazing. My name may not be on the cover, but that’s not what’s important. What matters is having the chance to share what God is doing, and the purpose he has for me in this amazing ministry.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently finishing the final edits of my novel, tentatively titled, NAYA AND THE COWBOY. I will always be open to writing about what God is doing behind bars, whether in non-fiction or fiction.

Thank you, Kym, for sharing this ministry with me and my readers. I’m so impressed with how you are being Jesus to so many who have been forgotten. Bless you!

~~~~

About Kym

I’m an aspiring Contemporary Romance writer. A wife, mother of four, and an animal lover. I’m the treasurer for the ACFW Chicago Northwest Chapter. I’ve been fostering Collies for Collie Rescue of Greater IL since 2005. I’m the Adult Pen Pal Coordinator for Willow Creek Community Church, as well as involved in other areas of the prison and jail ministry. I love to write, read, listen to music, and watch movies. But in ALL things I do, I do for the glory of God.

Where to find Kym

Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Pinterest

Purchase Stories of Faith and Courage From Prison

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | BAM

Novel Anticipation – August 2014

August is a very light month for new releases that interest me. No contemporaries, which are always my favorite, but there are a couple of historicals by seasoned authors, that I would recommend.

Sweet on the CowgirlSWEET ON THE COWGIRL
by Rose Ross Zediker
Heartsong Presents

Rose is a fellow contributor at Inkspirational Messages. This is her second release this year! Way to go, Rose!

About the story:

Laura Barnes Wants to Be a Cowgirl

Laura has always dreamed of being a trick rider in her family’s Wild West show. But her father will only allow her to perform if she disguises herself as Mr. Buckskin Jones. When soda-pop king Guy Roberts shows up to do business with her family, Laura is torn between keeping her identity under wraps and revealing her growing feelings for Guy.

Guy is drawn to Laura’s poise and beauty, but he, too, guards a secret. As their affection for each other grows, Guy begins to think about a future that includes Laura. When both their secrets suddenly come to light, their romance will face the ultimate showdown.

Thief of GloryTHIEF OF GLORY
by Sigmund Brouwer
WaterBrook Press

A prolific author, Brouwer seems to write everything. He’s written Biblical, spec, contemporary, western, YA, youth, and more. I’m not a big fan of WWII fiction, but this story intrigues me.

About the story:

A boy coming of age in a time of war…
the love that inspires him to survive.

For ten year-old Jeremiah Prins, the life of privilege as the son of a school headmaster in the Dutch East Indies comes crashing to a halt in 1942 after the Japanese Imperialist invasion of the Southeast Pacific. Jeremiah takes on the responsibility of caring for his younger siblings when his father and older stepbrothers are separated from the rest of the family, and he is surprised by what life in the camp reveals about a woman he barely knows—his frail, troubled mother.

Amidst starvation, brutality, sacrifice and generosity, Jeremiah draws on all of his courage and cunning to fill in the gap for his mother. Life in the camps is made more tolerable as Jeremiah’s boyhood infatuation with his close friend Laura deepens into a friendship from which they both draw strength.

When the darkest sides of humanity threaten to overwhelm Jeremiah and Laura, they reach for God’s light and grace, shining through his people. Time and war will test their fortitude and the only thing that will bring them safely to the other side is the most enduring bond of all.

The Soul-Reaching Power of Music

break | violin snail on music sheet | iolin,instrument,music,rehershal,break,violin maker,string instrument,string,wood,brown,sound,old,craft,art,play,enjoy,concert,musician,orchestra,solo,soloist,listen,work,classic,classical,snail,strings,loud,music sheI’m not a cryer–my closest friends and family will confirm this. Friend Nicole Petrino-Salter even referenced me in a blog post this week, and I couldn’t help but chuckle. Apparently, I’ve previously mentioned my “ice queen” status when it comes to emotions.

No, I don’t cry at sappy movies. Not even during Marley & Me. Not even when >spoiler alert< Éponine dies in Les Misérables >end alert<. Of course my daughter and husband, who book ended me during that movie, were both sniffling. I, well, I chuckled. Not that I thought it was funny; that just is my natural, if backwards, reaction.

I don’t tear up reading books either, no matter how angst ridden they are, though I’ve been told that my book has spawned a few tears from its readers.

Blame it on the little bit of Scandihoovian blood in me.

But I will confess that there is something that will make me tear up, something that touches that deep, deep part of my soul that nothing else can reach.

Music

And usually when I’m singing. Not every song has this effect. Handel’s Messiah, particularly the Hallelujah Chorus, will touch me, as will traditional Easter music, Jesus Christ is Risen Today or Crown Him With Many Crowns. Give me big organ, big choir, and loads of brass and the Holy Spirit’s presence becomes beautifully overwhelming.

Then there are the modern day worship songs that compel me to stop whatever I’m doing and focus on Christ. Phillips, Craig and Dean‘s Revelation Song, Great I Am, and Saved the Day all give me goosebumps, as does Kutless‘ Amazed (see video below) and Kari Jobe‘s Forever and David PhelpsNo More Night. There are more, but these are the songs that immediately come to mind. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the majority of these songs are Easter music.

Hearing my daughter sing or my son play trombone also touch the deepest part of me.

And going back to Les Misérables. I can’t possibly listen to Alfie Boe‘s interpretation of Bring Him Home without being changed. Just wow!

Why music resonates with me, why it awakens my emotions when nothing else does is a mystery. What I do know is that this beautiful music we hear on earth is just a whisper of what we’ll hear in Jesus’ presence, and I can’t wait to hear that heavenly chorus!

What touches you deep down that nothing else reaches?

Amazed
by Kutless

 

Field Trip Time!

MN NICE Members

MN NICE Members (Photo courtesy of Heather Edwards)

I’m fortunate to be part of a fantastic local writers group, MN NICE (Novelists Inspiring Christian Excellence), the Minnesota chapter of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). We’re scheduled to meet once per month–usually we invite a speaker or teacher to share with us, but about once a year we escape the meeting room and take a field trip. (Is that what they’re called when adults take them?)

Folsom HouseAnyway, as someone who absorbs more when learned outside of the classroom, I was thrilled to be able to make the trek up to Taylors Falls, MN to tour the Folsom House.

This house on Angel Hill was completed in 1855 by lumber baron William Folson, who came all the way from Maine. Folson’s interests stretched far beyond lumber as he invested in many local enterprises and was even involved in politics. He really was a jack-of-all-trades.

Piano

My daughter playing the piano. And yes, that is me in the mirror.
(Photo courtesy of Heather Edwards)

Our tour guide was not only knowledgeable about the home and the Folsom family history, but he was clearly passionate about it, excitedly pointing out Folsom artifacts and sharing family anecdotes.

So, if you ever find yourself in Minnesota, it’s worth a drive to beautiful Taylors Falls to check out this home. (Oh, and I’d highly recommend grabbing some hard ice cream from Schoony’s Malt Shop while you’re there!)

What sites do you love to explore in your area?