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?

Crafty Kindle Cover

Chain of Mercy Kindle CoverThose of you who know me, know that I’m not crafty. Honestly, doing crafts induces rather reduces stress, so I actively avoid crafting. Yet, every once in a while I get the itch to try something, and I’m thrilled when it turns out.

Now to be completely honest, I have attempted this craft before (go >here<), but I’ve modified this project a wee bit because I wanted a Kindle cover created from Chain of Mercy. CoM doesn’t come out in a hard cover edition, so I had to invent a way to spotlight my cover.

I purchased a hard cover book from our local Goodwill store, cut out the pages, added felt-backed material to the inside, and spray-painted inside and out.

Kindle Cover Interior

Then I decoupaged my cover onto the painted book and voilà! I have a Chain of Mercy Kindle cover.

Chain of Mercy Kindle Cover

Now, it’s not quite finished–I want to trim out the inside with some ribbon or colored duct tape or something–I’ll know when I see it. Also, this time I had my cover printed on photograph paper which turned out so-so. Next time, I’ll get a copy printed on regular paper which will adhere better, or maybe I’ll just take the cover off of one of my mistake-filled ARCs (advanced reader copy).

Still, for a first attempt, I don’t think it’s too shabby. :)

Now, if you don’t have your e-book copy of Chain of Mercy, you can purchase one for just $4.99 from one of these retailers!:

Amazon | Barnes and Noble

The Significance of the Veil

VeilToday, I’m a click away, posting at Inkspirational Messages. We’ve spent the last couple of weeks talking about objects in the Bible (i.e. the alabaster jar, the widow’s offering, Light, and more), and the role they play in our lives. I’m sharing a brief history about the veil that was torn in the temple when Jesus died, and its significance for us today. Hope you stop by!

http://inkspirationalmessages.com/the-veil-was-torn/

Midsummer Already???

SummerIf you’re like me, you can’t believe it’s midsummer already, especially if you live in Minnesota where our long-for-us winter seemed to last till mid-May.

Spring made a very brief appearance, but I was too busy to notice. And finally this week, I have a breather. That’s when I noticed that summer’s already half gone! And our baby goes off to college in mid-August, so that leaves us with one month to squeeze in these important family activities.

  • Over half of my family is at Sonshine Festival right now. It’s so much fun seeing the kids excited about a festival that my husband and I attended when we first married.
  • On Tuesday, our son goes in for jaw surgery. :( It’s a necessary surgery, but nothing life-threatening. Still prayers are coveted. He’s not thrilled about the liquid diet he’ll be on for six weeks. I told him we could purée pizza and spaghetti. For some reason, he vetoed that idea.
  • Guardians of the GalaxyWe just purchased our opening night tickets for the next Marvel movie, Guardians of the Galaxy. Can not wait to see that! (Anyone else have Hooked on a Feeling stuck in their heads?) And we’ve yet to venture to the Mall of America for Star Trek: The Exhibition. (Can you tell we’re geeks?)
  • Our college-grad daughter is auditioning for a show in Branson, so she and I will be making a quick trip down there, if you can call a 12-hour drive, one way, quick. I’m hoping to stop in the Omaha / Council Bluffs area on the way home to see numerous friends.
  • Also, in this next month, I’d like to drive up to Minot, ND (only a 10 hour drive one way!). My sister’s talked with a bookstore owner in the city who said she’d be glad to welcome me. :)
  • We’d also love to squeeze in field trips to Minnehaha Falls, Annie’s Parlour, the Stone Arch Bridge, Lion’s Tap, another Twins game… Oh my! It looks like our plans are far bigger than our calendar has days. Well, at least we won’t be bored!

What plans do you have for the remainder of the summer?

Ground-Cooked Turkey

Ground-cooked turkeyYes, it is book-talk Tuesday, and yes I will be talking turkey, and yes, the two do go together! If you give me a moment, I’ll explain.

First off, on Sunday, my family celebrated my mom’s birthday. We’re talking 37 people counting my folks, siblings, siblings-in-law, nieces and nephews, and a couple of in-laws’ parents. A nice cozy gathering, very typical for my family. :)

The day began at my parents’ church where the majority of us “kids” (31 of us!) formed the Bryant Family choir (singing Beautiful Savior and What a Friend We Have in Jesus) while Mom & Dad (and the congregation) listened. Following church, we gathered at my parents’ home where home-fed ham and ground-cooked turkey awaited us. Yum!

Besides enjoying delectable food, we all had to trek out to my dad’s shed where six recently-born kitties awaited us. We do love our cats! Then that afternoon, God blessed us with perfect outdoor weather, so we spent much of the day having a bean bag toss competition. I’m happy to report, that my team didn’t lose in the first round. ;-)

Now, what does this have to do with books? Well, in one of the scenes in Chain of Mercy, the family is making a ground-cooked turkey, so naturally, I had to take a pic of my book along with the turkey oven. See, I said I could connect the two!

Chain of Mercy & Ground-cooked turkey

Novel Recommendation: UNRAVELED by Heidi McCahan

Unraveled 2One of the great blessings of working with Winslet Press is meeting new, gifted authors. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know author Heidi McCahan, and couldn’t wait to read her debut novel, UNRAVELED. It didn’t disappoint.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Blind-sided by her questionable fiance, Lauren Carter returns to the one place she’s been avoiding, the place she used to call home. As she’s forced to look into the eyes of her past and even worse, her unraveling future she discovers that running only leaves you out of breath on a dead end street. Will she choose to unveil the secrets that haunt her? Or will she bury them once and for all and embrace a new life so different from the one she once held dear?

Blake Tully, wildly successful and breathtakingly winsome owner of a new rafting business, finds Lauren’s unexpected reappearance confusing. As he torments himself with what if’s and what should’ve been’s, he can’t mistake the feeling that crawls down his spine every time he looks at her. Although she broke his heart once, he longs to give his childhood sweetheart another chance, but can he convince her to stop running away when life gets tough? And can he forgive her when he discovers the reason she’s been hiding?

Follow the story of these two shattered hearts as they discover the beauty of grace and forgiveness.

My take:

Unraveled has an engaging story line, one you’re swept into on page one and can’t put down from there. The Alaska town is beautifully painted. I could easily envision the area, and would love to visit … in the summer, that is. ;)

I love characters who are three-dimensional, ones who are depicted flaws and all. All of Unraveled‘s characters are flawed, from Lauren and Blake, and on through Lauren’s family. They lead wonderfully messy lives, and come across as relatable and real.

If you’re looking for another book to add to your summer reading list, I highly recommend UNRAVELED!

Purchase UNRAVELED:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books A Million

God Bless America!

Declaration of IndepenceWe are so blessed to live in a country that’s free, a country where opinions can be shared without fear of governmental repercussions, a country whose beauty is seen in its diverse landscapes, a country where we can openly worship God. I will be forever grateful to our wise founding fathers and to all those who’ve fought to keep this great country free!

Happy Independence Day!

God Bless America by Sandi Patty

Novel Anticipation – July 2014

July brings a long list of new releases in the Christian market, but three stand out to me. Two are written by authors that I regularly read (DiAnn Mills and Sally John) and a third I’ve yet to read (Shannon Ethridge).

What are you looking forward to reading this July?

Firewall by DiAnn MillsFIREWALL
(FBI: Houston Series #1)
by DiAnn Mills
Tyndale

After a whirlwind romance, Taryn Young is preparing to board a plane at Houston International Airport, bound for a dream honeymoon, when a bomb decimates the terminal. Injured but still alive, she awakens to discover her husband is missing and they’re both considered prime suspects in the attack. Further, the FBI is convinced her husband isn’t who he appears to be.

Veil of SecretsVEIL OF SECRETS
by Shannon Ethridge and Kathryn Mackel
Thomas Nelson

Will and Melanie Connors seem like the perfect couple—but their marriage is withering from a lack of intimacy. As Melanie struggles to sort through her past, she sees her 16-year-old making the same mistakes she did. Can Melanie find the voice to guide her daughter—and possibly find the joy that God intended for her marriage?

Between Us GirlsBETWEEN US GIRLS
(Family of the Heart Series #1)
by Sally John
Harvest House

Welcome to Casa de Vida–eleven quaint bungalows located three blocks from the Pacific Ocean in tiny Seaside Village, California. Owner Liv McAlister never advertises vacancies beyond a small hand-lettered sign out front, preferring to trust that God will send the right tenant at just the right time. And He always does.

Meet Jasmyn Albright–she’s had more than her share of bad breaks lately, beginning with the tornado that demolished her farmhouse. Emotionally fragile and feeling utterly alone, Jasmyn heads west, hoping to outrun her heartbreak. And she doesn’t stop until she notices a small sign that reads “Vacancy.” Before she’s quite aware of how it all happened, Jasmyn finds herself the newest tenant at Casa de Vida. She hardly dares to hope that her fortunes might be about to change…but of course when God is at work, anything can happen, and new beginnings are one of His specialties.

Sometimes among strangers, family happens. And sometimes, when we least expect it, romance is a welcome guest.