Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Five Fast and Easy Ways to Help an Author

I came across this meme quite a while ago, and quite frankly, I can’t remember where. (I’m glad it has the url on the bottom. At least amarketingexpert.com can get some credit. 😊 )

It summarizes perfectly several fast and super-easy ways a reader can help an author. In this day of social media and online shopping, it isn’t just a matter of writing anymore.

As the image says, reviews really do matter. This past Sunday, a woman at church told me how much she had enjoyed Amish Country Amnesia and that she had stayed up way too late to finish it. (By the way, that’s one of the best compliments you can give an author. We love keeping you up late! 😊 ) But then we talked about reviews, and she stated quite emphatically that she always reads the reviews for anything that she is thinking of purchasing.

That started me thinking about all the reviews I read as I browse online. If I’m looking at a jacket online and reviewers say that the zipper doesn’t work well, I’m much less likely to follow through with the purchase. On the other hand, if several buyers rave about the soft fabric of a knit top I’m looking at, then that will, most likely, seal the deal. Truly, though, I find reviews as simple as "I love it!" helpful.

Thank you for reading books! I appreciate you!

Q4U: How much do reviews influence your purchases?

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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Amish Words of Wisdom + A Giveaway!

One of the most loved books of the Bible is Proverbs. It’s full of little gold nuggets of wisdom ~ wisdom that could fill many, many books but is condensed into a handful of easy-to-remember pithy sayings.

The beauty of proverbs, or sayings, is that they tell us more about the values of those people who value those particular sayings. 

The language of the Amish is Pennsylvania German, an oral language. It does not have written words. It seems to me that this makes their cherished proverbs even more valuable since they are handed down through the generations as part of an oral tradition. This oral tradition then helps to maintain the cohesiveness of the community.

In my research on the Amish, I found a wonderful little book by Suzanne Woods Fisher ~ Amish Proverbs: Words of Wisdom from the Simple Life.  

The chapters are organized by virtues and include Time, Money, Faith, In Word & Deed, Work Ethic, Handling Adversity, Education, Community, Character, and Just for Fun.

Here’s a sampling ~~~

“To stay youthful, stay useful.” (p. 20)
“One thing you can learn by watching the clock is that it passes time by keeping its hands busy.” (p. 21)
“Things that steal our time are usually the easiest to do.” (p. 25)
“The debt that is paid is best.” (p. 31)
“An industrious wife is the best savings account.” (p. 32)
“Walk softly, speak tenderly, and pray fervently.” (p. 44)
“Do not ask the Lord to guide your footsteps if you are not willing to move your feet.” (p. 47)
“The right temperature at home is maintained by warm hearts, not hot heads.” (p. 60)
“An unkind remark is like a killing frost—no matter how much it warms up, the damage is already done.” (p. 67)
“The soundness of your ideas is more important than the sound of your words.” (p. 81)
“The trouble with doing nothing is it’s too hard to tell when you’re finished.” (p. 85)
“You’re never too old to learn.” (p. 108)
“If you won’t admit you’ve been wrong, you love yourself more than truth.” (p. 121)
“Apple butter, just like relationships, takes time to boil, time to cool, and time to turn out wonderfully.” (p. 122)
“Good character like good soup is usually homemade.” (p. 125)

“An honest cook serves her food with the burnt side up.” (p. 135)

There is so much wisdom in these sayings that I’ll be thinking on them for quite some time.

Let’s end today’s post with a giveaway ~ one signed copy of my September release, Amish Country Amnesia!

Leave a comment to be entered. US winners only. A winner will be chosen Friday night.

Best wishes and many blessings!

Which is your favorite proverb?

{This post is also appearing on the Love Inspired: A Story for Every Reader blog.}

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

No Worries!

It only took a couple of days in Vancouver, British Columbia, to notice the difference. 

In May, our family had the opportunity to fly to Seattle and then drive back home to the Midwest. We saw some sights we had seen before (the Space Needle, Elliot Bay, and Pike Place Market), and we saw lots of places that were new. (Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, is the most beautiful place on the face of the planet! Does anyone have any leads on job openings for computer science professors? 😊)

Vancouver was a completely new city for us, and we were amazed at its beauty. (We were also amazed at the lack of children, but that’s another post.) We met several locals who were quite friendly and helpful.

But by the end of our second day, as we were departing the Aquabus at our stop on False Creek and we said “Thank you” to the pilot, we noticed that the Canadian response to our expression of thanks was different than what we hear in the Midwest.

“No worries.”

My American smartphone, when someone texts or messages a thanks, provides an automatic reply I can choose of “no problem.” (No proper punctuation, but that’s another post. 😊) That’s what we say in the USA.

But there’s a huge difference between no problem and no worries. I have plenty of problems. But do I have worries? I shouldn’t.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” ~ Matthew 6:33-34

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7

We acknowledge that we shouldn’t worry, like on my beautiful new prayer journal. Worry tears us up, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. It separates us from God. It doesn’t accomplish anything and can negatively affect our witness.

I will confess that I’m a worrier.

But my family has adopted the “No worries!” refrain, opting to use that phrase rather than “No problem.”

Those two words provide an instant change of mindset, and it has made a world of difference.

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Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Our Family’s Favorite Board Games

{Affiliate links ahead.}

When it’s rainy or ridiculously hot and muggy outside, we like to pull out a game.

Well, truth be told, there’s usually a game going on somewhere, almost all of the time.

Sometimes, a couple of the children will play, and sometimes it’s all of us.

It’s only early July, but it feels, where I live, like the dog-days of late August already. That kind of heat and humidity gives me a headache and an upset stomach, so it’s time for some of our family’s favorite games. 

The 18yo –
Settlers of Catan

"I love this game because it's different every time and so deliciously complicated." The 18yo is too humble to say so, but she wins more than any other person in the family. So much so, in fact, that she keeps a log of the date of the game, the points each player scored, the winner, whether and which expansions were played, and a short note about how the game was played (how close it was, something unique to that game, etc.).

The 16yo –

"I like trying to solve the mystery, even though I don't always succeed. I especially like the story that goes along with it. Sometimes, we make up stories about our characters as we play."

The 14yo –
Memoir 44

"This is a complicated World War II game with a thick instruction manual. Units of the Axis and Allied powers move around the board, hiding in the woods or crossing rivers, trying to take over towns or eliminate enemy units with the end goal of collecting a certain amount of medals to win the game. I like it because it requires a lot of strategy."

The 12yo – 

"In your turns through the game, you adopt princesses. When all the princesses have been adopted, then whoever has the most money and the most princesses wins. I love this game because it's so girly. One of the princesses has a dress that's glittery gold and some have jewels on them. Usually, I have to barter with my little brothers -- I'll play legos with them if they play Princess-opoly."

The 9yo –
The 9yo's favorite game was also Catan. 😊 His second favorite game is Monopoly.
"Monopoly is kind of like Catan except you have to pay for everything. My favorite part is buying Boardwalk and Park Place and then making a ton of money on them."

The 7yo –

"I like popping the dice. And I like putting the game pieces on my fingers to look like long claws."

Honestly, I had to prod them from all saying the same game as the favorite. There isn't usually much contention because they all know that if they play Catan tonight, they'll probably play Clue the next time. 

What's your favorite game?

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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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