Starting With a Blank Canvas

At Wine and Canvas–I interrupt Book Talk Tuesday to talk painting–although, if you think about it, painting and writing novels are very similar. Both start with a blank canvas and end up telling a unique story!–

Last Friday my lovely daughter and I had a fantastic evening out at Wine and Canvas. It’s a brilliant business that makes artists out of EVERYONE, along with offering a varied selection of food and drink for sale. This concept has become popular across our nation as several similar businesses have popped up. In the Twin Cities area alone, I’ve discovered five similar companies.

For one price, each attendee is provided with an apron, a blank canvas, a plate of paints, and several paintbrushes.

Blank canvasThen an instructor leads the students through a step-by-step process, much of which makes no sense at the time, but if you’re smart, you follow their lead. Our first step was to paint the background with blue and green. As you can see, each individual artist already has their own interpretation of the instruction. My daughter blended her colors in a smooth flow while I created crisscross patterns. (Oh, and that plate in between the canvases? That was filled with Honeycrisp apple slices and a creamy brown sugar apple dip. Oh my! it was die for!)

Painting Background

Once the background dried, then we got to work on the Eiffel Tower. The instructor led us line by line until we came up with this skeleton:

Eiffel Tower Skeleton

After the basic structure was built, all we had to do was fill it in, and ta da! we had completed our masterpieces! Out of 50+ attendees, no two pictures were alike, but they were all fabulous! (No, the bugs weren’t part of the process, I’m just hiding the innocent :) )

Completed Eiffel Tower Painting (600 x 547)


It’s great fun, and I can’t wait to do it again!

Question: Have you ever participated in a similar class?


Lessons from Lord of the Rings

LOTR BooksFor the past two weeks at Inkspirational Messages we’ve been sharing lessons we’ve learned from Lord of the Rings and other popular fantasy series. Today I’m talking about perseverance, how Frodo pressed on through impossible circumstances.

I’d would love to hear if you have any favorite lessons learned from the LOTR series.

Another Easter Music Favorite

In my opinion, David Phelps has one of the most amazing voices ever. It has unmatched power, and he sings with such passion that he moves even the most stoic of listeners. “End of the Beginning” was the song that initially brought Phelps gift to my attention. This song, which gives a synopsis of Jesus’ life, is a great testimony–if you want to know who Jesus is, just listen to the words in the video below.

“End of the Beginning” by David Phelps

Meet Tori & Brant from Shannon Taylor Vannatter’s RODEO FAMILY

Rodeo Family*** BOOK GIVEAWAY ***
See contest rules below


I’m thrilled to welcome guest blogger Shannon Taylor Vannatter to my blog today! Shannon and I go back quite a few years, having met when we were assigned to the same critique group with author Lorna Seilstad. Back then we were all unpublished, and now a both Shannon and Lorna are multi-published.

I love giving shout-outs for my friends when their books release, and Shannon’s RODEO FAMILY recently hit the markets, so I had to invite Shannon to my blog.

Here’s the back cover blurb for Rodeo Family:


She’s beginning a new chapter in Aubrey, Texas, away from her abusive ex-boyfriend. As she picks up the pieces of her broken life, Tori’s surprised at the helping hand the church’s new song director, Brant McConnell, offers her, and at the warm emotions he inspires.

Brant is drawn to Tori. And as their friendship grows, so do his feelings for her. But Tori is still hounded by her past, and the walls she’s built around her heart are high. Can he convince the wounded beauty that he’s exactly the kind of man she needs—and deserves?

Intrigued? I knew you would be! And to pique your interest even more, Shannon sat down and *talked* with Tori and Brant, the heroine and hero from Rodeo Family, so now I’ll turn the page over to Shannon, Tori, and Brant.

Tori, what’s the most romantic thing Brant ever did for you?

He brought me a Filet-O-Fish, fries, and a shake.

I told him that my dad used to beat my mom and as soon as she was up to it, she’d always take me to McDonald’s to cheer me up. After that, he brought me my favorite comfort food any time I was upset.

What’s the most romantic present Brant ever got you?

A Bible. He bought it for me right after I turned my life over to Jesus.

What is the most caring thing Brant ever did for you?

He risked his life to protect my daughter and me from my abusive ex-boyfriend.

What simple gesture does Brant do that melts you every time?

He loves my daughter as if she were his own.

And now let’s turn the conversation over to Brant. Brant, what’s the most romantic thing Tori ever did for you?

She trusted me. Tori hasn’t met very many trustworthy men in her life and it took her a while to let her guard down. Seeing the trust growing in her eyes when she looks at me turns me into a puddle of butter.

Do y’all have a favorite romantic restaurant?

It’s not really a romantic setting, but the first restaurant we shared a meal at was Moms on Main in Aubrey where we both live. Tori had gotten baptized that morning and she was worried about her wet hair, but I only saw the new creature she’d become after she accepted Christ.

Do y’all have a favorite song?

The Old Rugged Cross. It was the first hymn Tori played on the piano for me when I was trying to convince her to fill the position as our church pianist.

If y’all end up married, where will you go on you honeymoon?

If I can convince Tori to marry me, I’ll take her to Cancun. She’s had such a difficult year, she deserves a getaway.

Thank you, Shannon, for introducing us to Tori and Brant, and now I know my readers are all going to want to rush out and purchase Rodeo Family, so here are the links:

CBD | Amazon | B&N

Shannon Taylor Vannatter (475 x 600)About Shannon Taylor Vannatter~

Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. She lives in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows, and she once climbed a mountain wearing gold wedge-heeled sandals which became known as her hiking boots. Vannatter won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category, The 18th Annual Heartsong Awards 3rd Favorite New Author and #1 Contemporary Award.

She has ten published titles and is contracted for five more. Her books are available at,,,, and Learn more about Shannon and her books at and check out her real life romance blog at

Connect with Shannon~

Website | Inkslinker BlogFacebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Twitter

Rodeo Family>>>Book Giveaway<<<

Shannon has graciously offered to give away one copy of Rodeo Family! To enter, leave a question for Tori or Brant in the comments.

This contest ends Sunday, March 29, 2015 at 11:59 pm CST. I will post the winner on Monday, March 30, 2015. Winner will be chosen via

Favorite Easter Hymns

OrganI grew up in a very traditional church, in terms of worship. We followed the liturgy from the hymnal and sang three to four hymns every Sunday. To many, I know that sounds very boring, and yes there were plenty of times when the service was a yawner (to be fair, contemporary worship services have plenty of snooze-moments too, but that’s a topic for another day …).

The Easter service at my church, though, was never stale. I remember walking into service with the choir singing “Jesus Christ is Risen Today”, accompanied with the pipe organ. Many an Easter Sunday, I found it difficult to get through the piece, as God’s presence was so tangible.

There’s a reverence and majesty in those old hymns I just don’t feel with the repetitive pop music now used. The church we now attend has a very contemporary worship service, which is … nice … but for me it lacks the awe inspired by hymns, soprano descants, organ music, and brass that makes even this stoic Scandihoovian tear up.

The other day I was thinking about those old hymns we’d sing every Easter Sunday and the Sundays following Easter, and I had to look them up on YouTube. It’s nice to see that churches and choirs are still singing them. I’ve linked several below. Also, on my Facebook Brenda S. Anderson Author page, I’m going to start posting an Easter song of the day. Yes, I’ll include some of these old favorites, and I’ll also include several newer pieces. Should be fun!

Do you have any favorite Easter music?


I Know That My Redeemer Lives by Sam Medley

Lift High the Cross by George W. Kitchin

Thine Be The Glory by Edmund Budry, music by Handel


CIR March Madness Blog Hop!

CIR March Madness Blog HopWelcome to Brenda Anderson Books and the Clean Indie Reads March Madness Blog Hop! What a fun opportunity for readers to discover new favorite authors, with around 40 participants in this hop! Plus, you have a chance to win the March Madness Book Bundle Grand Prize (see book prizes >here<) with each participating blogger giving away an ebook! Please check out all the participants below and enter to win on each site.

To sweeten the pot a bit, I’m having a separate giveaway on my blog. One lucky commenter will win the first three books (e-books) in my Coming Home Series: Pieces of Granite (prequel), Chain of Mercy (book #1), and Memory Box Secrets (book #2 – coming out April 21, 2015). Giveaway details are below.

Now a little about me:

I write what I call contemporary family drama. If you’re enjoy gritty, authentic reads, then you’ll enjoy my Coming Home series.

Coming Home Series

Pieces of Granite (prequel) is about a couple who learns their unborn child has Down syndrome, and that causes a rift in their marriage.

Pieces of Granite available at Amazon | B&N | BAM

Chain of Mercy (book 1) is about a Manhattan executive who kills a teen in an auto accident so he runs from his successful life and hides as a janitor in Minnesota. But a beautiful and curious sales executive won’t let him remain hidden.

Chain of Mercy available at Amazon | B&N | iTunes

Memory Box Secrets (book 2) is about a Minneapolis executive who was abandoned by her parents years before, but then out of the blue her father wants to be back in her life.

Memory Box Secrets coming April 21, 2015!

Finding Home, the finale in the Coming Home series. After a woman is mugged by a homeless teen, she and her husband take the teen into their home.

Coming September 2015!

The Clean Indie Reads authors have teamed up to give away a huge assortment of books! To enter to win the March Madness Book Bundle Grand Prize, which includes one e-book from each author participating in the blog hop, just fill out the secure Google form below. To increase your chances, visit more of the blogs on this hop (see all their links below) and fill out the same form on each of their blog sites. One random visitor will be selected at the end of the blog hop! Many of these authors have their own giveaways, so be sure to check them out.

I’d also like to encourage you to visit the Clean Indie Reads Book Sale going on March 16 – 20, 2015! Lots of great clean reading is offered there, and most of them are at discount prices.  

*** Coming Home Series Three e-Book Giveaway ***Coming Home SeriesTo enter to win the first three books (ebooks) in the Coming Home Series by Brenda S. Anderson, in the comments section below, tell me who your favorite author is. Contest closes Sunday, March 22, 2015 at 11:59 pm. Winner will be announced on Monday, March 23, 2015.


Celebrating 5 Years With the Inkspers

Happy Anniversary Inkspers!I’m over at Inkspirational Messages today as we’re celebrating our Five Year Anniversary! Wow, it’s hard to believe that the Inkspers have been together that long!

We’re also offering a giveaway–an Inksper mug plus a surprise bundle of books–but the contest ends today, Friday, March 13, 2015! So, hurry on over to Inkspirational Messages to enter!