Thursday, June 21, 2018

School’s out, school’s out, teacher let the monkeys out!


Our school is officially out now, and, in fact, it has been since mid-May. (I could whisper to you that we’re starting up, just a little, again soon during those 90-degree too-hot-to-go-outside days, but I won’t. 😊 )

There’s something about summer that feels like freedom. But I think it’s just a holdover from my childhood when my mom worked and I could stay home and read all day. As I think of our family’s list of activities this summer, I start to feel a little stretched for time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I remember days spent with sleeping babies, wondering what I was going to do with all my time.

There’s a balance there somewhere that depends on the person and family. This is what we have going on this summer ~

We have a Taekwondo tournament this month. My six children just started TKD last August as part of a homeschool co-op. Quite frankly, my two initial reasons were simply to get the PE credit for the high school students and for my children (in particular, my beautiful girls) to know how to defend themselves. But their interest has abounded, so five are competing in a tournament. It’s their first time, and they are equal parts nervous and excited. All five will compete in forms and board-breaking, and three are sparring. It’s been an adventure just to purchase the protective gear.

Bible Bee study for the test in August has begun in earnest. We’ve amped up our time memorizing Scripture, and this summer is a study of the book of James. My 9yo is learning to use (and wanting to use) Blue Letter Bible! I am blessed.


The 18yo is taking the ACT. We’re a bit behind on getting it done, according to the public school schedule, but in the big scheme of life, it doesn’t really matter. She’ll be taking transferable classes from the community college this next school year anyway.

My husband has returned to doctoral classes. Does this make us officially insane? 😊 It’s very much part-time, but he’s about halfway through the degree (an Ed.D.) and eager to get it done.

I’ve signed a contract for another Amish suspense with Love Inspired Suspense. It’s tentatively scheduled to release July 2019, so I’m in the thick of writing. I love these characters!

My youngest lost both of his front teeth within a week, so we’re trying to absorb all that cuteness before the adult teeth come in.

My oldest, with the help of her sister, is illustrating a children’s book. I hope to have this out this fall. It was the first book I ever wrote, and I wrote it because I wanted to provide a good, wholesome story for my children. It is near and dear to my heart, and I’ve been trying to figure out how to get it illustrated and in the hands of readers. I think we finally figured it out. Would you like a sneak peek? 



In between all that, we’ll find time for the playground and the splash pad, for games and Vacation Bible School, for reading and trips to the library for programs and more books. That’s our summer. What are your plans?











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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

A Spring Surprise ~ Do You Like Amish Suspense? {Cover Reveal!}

{Affiliate links ahead. Thanks!}

I have been reading Amish fiction for well over a decade, and I love it. They are people with the joys and problems of all of us, except their conservative-by-choice lifestyle adds another dimension to fiction. I'll admit, there are a lot of choices they make that I admire. {I'm planning a blog series about that for this summer.} 

This September, my first Amish suspense releases. Fifteen years ago, when I was curled up on the couch reading Beverly Lewis, I never dreamed I would write Amish fiction.

Sarah's story was one that brought me to both tears and smiles, and she's a strong woman who's endured life's trials with faith. I'm eager for you to meet her! 


From the back cover ~

His past is a mystery to everyone…
except for the men trying to kill him.
When a snowmobile accident leaves a man injured and with no memory, Amish widow Sarah Burkholder and her young daughter rescue him. Even as Sarah’s feelings for him grow, they discover unknown assailants are after him—and Sarah and her little girl for helping him.
But if he can remember who he is, he might just save all their lives.


Amish Country Amnesia (Love Inspired Suspense) is now available for pre-order on Amazon HERE. Pre-orders really do help an author. Excellent sales numbers indicate to a publisher that readers like a particular author's books thus helping the author sell future books.

Thank you to my faithful readers, and thank you to the new readers! I am grateful for each of you.








Do you read Amish suspense? What do you think of the cover? Does she look apprehensive enough? :)


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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

A Mid-Month Check-Up

Sometimes, it’s good just to sit back and take stock of where you are and/or where your family is.
Businesses do it. Why not individuals and families?

So, it’s Monday when I write this, and it’s snowing. (Something that seems pretty unusual for where I live in the Midwest, especially considering it’s mid-April.) I love the snow, so I sat and stared at it for quite a while, absorbing the blessed silence and peace of it. And that silence, naturally, led to some reflection.


We have four weeks of homeschool left. This means that my oldest is graduating high school and will no longer, officially, be under my tutelage.

My takeaway: Don’t overschedule so I can savor the last few days. (She’ll still be around, attending a local university next year and living with us, but it’ll still be different.)

We just came through several days of revival services, and I’m refreshed but tired. Our church had a special preacher and special services for half of last week, and we attended every night. It was wonderful preaching, and I took six and one-half pages of notes that contain so many nuggets of wisdom. But I’m tired. Our schedule was rearranged, clothing was a special effort, and there was lots of socializing (which is good but tiring for an introvert).

My takeaway: After that intense time, I need a few days of downtime to recoup and think/pray through what I learned.

My reading goals are being met, but I need to stay vigilant. I’m in the middle of my third book this month, which thrills me. Life has a tendency to get in the way, especially with a large family, but I’ve made a conscious effort to read in small snatches of time. Those bits of time add up. I’ve also started reading more on my phone with the kindle app or the overdrive app. At first, I was reluctant. I don’t want to look like I’m just fiddling away on my phone all the time, especially to the children. But I explained to my children that I was actually reading a book or my Bible, and they look at the screen whenever they want. I also shoved away my worry of what others will think.

My takeaway: I’m not thrilled with reading on my phone, but it’s better than not reading at all.

I’m finding it difficult to remain patient for my next book cover. Amish Country Amnesia is coming this September, and I’ve seen a preview of the cover, but I don’t have a final version to share yet. I check my email inbox at least ten times each day, looking for it. {Spoiler alert: It’s different than my other covers, but it’s incredible! 😊 } I loved writing Amish suspense, and I’m currently working on another.

The takeaway: Sign up now for my author newsletter, and you’ll be the first to see the cover as well as be entered to win a copy. Here's a quick link ~ http://eepurl.com/cxcrL5.

It’s time for a nap. Sometimes, the most spiritual thing a person can do is sleep. Rest.

The takeaway: Don’t feel guilty for getting enough sleep.




How is the month of April going for you?



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Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Dangers of Writing Suspense

{I have another Love Inspired Suspense coming in September, and I'm eagerly awaiting the cover. If you'd like to be the first to see it and have the opportunity to win an advance copy, sign up for my author newsletter. Thanks!}

I’m starting a new story. I love this phase of brainstorming and creating characters and figuring out the villain and watching them all interact.

To fit in writing with six children at home, I usually tuck the younger ones away in a bedroom to play quietly or read (since they’re beyond the age of napping now). This is what I did a couple of days ago to get some time to start my new story. I had settled at my desk with a huge glass of iced tea (half sweet – half unsweet J ) and was beginning to set the opening scene. My oldest teen daughter was working quietly on homework at a desk next to mine, and my other two teenagers were on the couch behind me reading. My husband had come home from work a little early, and he was finishing up a work project on another laptop behind me.

It was a dark and stormy afternoon. A gray gloominess filled the room, despite the little globe lights that hung from the desk hutch. Rain pounded a steady beat on the roof.


Taking advantage of the circumstances around me, I amplified the weather and wrote it into my opening scene ~ my heroine on a bicycle in that eerie yellow haze that appears before a summer storm, the crackle of lightning behind her, the hair on the back of her neck standing at attention as she feels like someone is watching her.

I was in that scene, picturing it, feeling it, living it. Everything around me had disappeared. Only the pounding of the rain remained in my consciousness.

And then a chanting of mingled voices filtered into my hearing. An ominous rhythmic monotone that drummed into my mind.

Pedal faster, Heroine! My heart and fingers raced as I urged her on. I didn’t know how the villain had appeared so quickly, but he seemed to be there. Get away, Heroine!

I stopped typing and clutched my shirt, my brain struggling to understand where this chant was coming from in the story.

And then the chant mingled with laughter. I forced myself to focus on the room around me and found my teen daughter watching me with an amused smile stretched across her face. I turned to see my husband laughing at my fright. My two little boys stood in the doorway, chanting their rhythm. “We’ve read the book. May we come out?”

I could only smile at myself as I inhaled deeply, willing my heart to stop racing.







Does your heart race when you read suspense? How much do you immerse yourself in a story?




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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Happy Easter!

"Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb. Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments. Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”


"And they remembered His words. Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles. And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them. But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened."
~ Luke 24:1-12

What say you? Are these "idle tales" or do you marvel to yourself at what has happened?










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Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Homeschool Convention? Oh, yeah! 😊

This past Friday and Saturday, our family was incredibly blessed by attending our statewide homeschool convention.

These times of refreshing have become a vital part of our homeschool year, not just in terms of instruction but also encouragement that we don’t find elsewhere. And when some of these presenters get going, it turns into some excellent preaching!

Here are some thoughts and images from the two days ~

This was our drive in on Saturday. Wowza! I think this was the most snow we've had all winter!
 
 “We have the capacity to make our brains grow larger through study and use…. Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect.” ~ Frederic Gray

Rick Green on the main stage.

“The longer children are homeschooled, the more curiosity and love of learning they have.” ~ Debra Bell, Ph.D.

This is just a tiny portion of one-half of the exhibit hall.

“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves, throughout their lives.” Robert Maynard Hutchins, Educator

Late afternoon view from the front doors to the exhibit hall.

“Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principal above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree next to the river of truth and tell the whole world, ‘No, YOU move.’” ~ Captain America (I haven't seen the movie, but I discovered that the original quote is attributed to Mark Twain.) (quoted by Rick Green)


This is just a small portion of our purchases.
A homeschool convention is a great place to shop for birthday and Christmas gifts!

“How can we have a victim mentality when the Bible says we are more than conquerors? This is a bad testimony for Christianity.” ~ Frederic Gray

And everybody said..."Amen!"







Do you attend homeschool conventions? What's been your favorite moment?


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Saturday, March 17, 2018




Happy Saint Patrick's Day!











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