Grandmotherly Advice

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, it’s Thursday morning! What an eventful week it’s been since last I wrote to you. We’ve endured a wintry onslaught, and lots more rain. It’s still raining, but at least the weather has warmed to a more spring-like temperature.

The approach of Easter has me thinking deeply about the grace of God.

I’m studying the book of 1 Samuel in the Bible, and as I read the final verses of chapter 12, I was reminded of one of my grandmothers.

“And neither will I walk off and leave you. That would be a sin against God! I’m staying right here at my post praying for you and teaching you the good and right way to live.”

My granny, Belle Thomason, prayed over her family. Kind of like counting sheep, she repeated the names of her children and grandchildren, as many as she could remember. Every night, she prayed over all of us, because she considered it a sin not to pray.

Granny’s in the middle!

She felt a call of God on her life to pray for those God had given her. The ones she’d given birth to, those who married into the family, and the ones birthed by her children, then her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She lived to the age of 96. That’s a lot of days, and so many prayers going up.

Did they work? Did God answer? I can remember a lot of tragedies, illnesses, losses. Does that mean God didn’t hear her prayers?

Well, I also remember a lot of good and wonderful things. Years later, generations gone by, if you lined us all up, you’d find a great number of Granny’s children who serve the Lord, and not only serve, but love the Lord with all their hearts.

Don’t give up. Though it seems your prayers are fruitless, and God doesn’t listen. Keep on. Never stop. Begin and end each day with a prayer, and see if it doesn’t make a difference in the long run. You see, Granny was a marathon runner, rather than a sprinter. She’d giggle at that analogy, but it’s true, all the same.

She never gave up on any of her babies, even when they seemed to be headed in the wrong direction.

Dad said Granny was “holiness.” Where they were from, deep in the Bible belt, that meant she went to the Church of God. Full gospel believers. Holy rollers. All I knew, is she wore long-sleeved dresses, mid-calf in length, and never cut her hair. She never wore makeup, either. But she had a deep joy inside that wasn’t troubled by what she saw happening around her.

She pieced and quilted until she couldn’t see anymore, and even then, she still made stitches, though they might not line up perfectly. Many of the family slept under quilts she’d sewn and each one knew, Granny had prayed all the while she worked. Those were prayer quilts.

She wasn’t super spiritual or dour, though. Granny could laugh and tell the occasional joke. She’d lived a life threaded with troubles, but stayed the course.

Her husband was an alcoholic, and he’d been known to sleep around. I’m not sure of the story, because it was never talked about, but they divorced. One of her sons died at an early age when his appendix burst. Another of her sons (my grandfather) died at the hand of his brother-in-law. My grandfather had followed in his daddy’s footsteps. He was an alcoholic. My uncle shot him to stop him from trying to kill my grandma. But that’s another story for another time.

So, you see, Granny’s life was often fraught with troubles. But the prayers never stopped. She didn’t give up. She lived to see most of her family living good lives. The alcoholism that ran deep in their veins lost its hold in my dad’s generation. All four of the children in dad’s family fought a battle with the drink and won. All four died knowing salvation, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

What I’ve learned from all this and hope to pass on to you—my grandmotherly advice—is to never give up. Even when the outlook is bleak. Even when it seems there’s no way out. A prayer whispered into the darkness all those years ago, tugs at my heartstrings now.

Granny loved Jesus, and she passed that love forward to several generations. It’s time for me to take it up and carry it forward. Maybe it’s time for you, too.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV]

How to Write a Book

coffee, cup, laptop, memeIt begins with sitting down. You’re looking at a blank, white space. Empty. Daunting? For me, not so much. I love to fill empty spaces with words, as much as some of my friends like to fill empty air with words. They can’t sit quietly. It’s impossible.

Hello, Thursday morning friends. This week, I’m still processing some of the excellent insight I received at the Mid South Christian Writers conference in Collierville, Tennessee. The conference I almost missed. But that’s another story for another day.

Conferences are like continuing education for the writer. You go, you meet other writers, you hear others’ stories, you’re encouraged to struggle on. Pursue the craft. Keep writing.

writing-1209121_1280If you’re a writer, especially if you’re in the beginning process, I highly recommend a good writers conference. Now, on to the task at hand–

This is how I start: I have an idea. I develop the idea. I hope it works. I hope it’s not another dead end.

Sometimes it begins with a character. I create a character, give that character positive or negative traits, then build their appearance around those traits. Next, I tell their story.

sneakpeekLet’s dissect one of my characters: Amy Julianna Emerson is the daughter of Robert and Nancy Emerson in “Amelia’s Legacy,” book one of the Legacy Series. She’ll make her debut in book three, “Rebecca’s Legacy” (releasing later this summer). She’s named after her maternal great grandmother, Amelia, and her paternal grandmother, Julianna, but her disposition and character are all her own.

Physical traits: Her eyes are a stunning sapphire blue, her hair the color of chestnuts. She’s five-foot-five, and slender. She loves to wear sundresses, hats, and sunglasses. And other outfits her father disapproves, like “rompers” (it’s the late 1940s).

Amy is a beauty, and much like her mother before her, she desires freedom, and intends to achieve that goal. But her road is temporarily blocked, both by her own past mistakes, and by the evil intent of others. She tries to work around these roadblocks, with little success.

So, I’ve developed a character and given her specific traits. Now, I begin to write and let her character develop. Her story begins to unfurl. The words flow. Sometimes. I enjoy the journey when the words flow. Other times, it’s just hard work.

writer-1421099_1280Writing begins with sitting down. Open a brand new file on the computer, insert a sheet of bright, white paper in a typewriter, or pick up a pen. Whether we’re working with pen and ink, a typewriter, or a computer, the challenge is the same: tell the story.

My next challenge is to create a character arc. Changes happen. Lives progress from beginning to end. I hope Amy will grow, learn, and become a better person. I hope she’ll touch lives and inspire my readers.

Writing is my calling. It’s my way to speak to others around me, to challenge and inspire. To leave them with a message of hope. Dare them to believe. I hope to leave my own legacy—belief in the gift of God’s grace. For Amelia, Carlotta, and now, Rebecca—their Legacy is Love.

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. [1 John 4:11]

[Click to Tweet] For the writer, whether we’re working with pen and ink, a typewriter, or a computer, the challenge is the same: tell the story.

Another regional conference:

Kentucky Christian Writers Conference – June 21 -23, 2018

Road Trip Dreams

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday morning friends! I hope you’re enjoying a lovely morning. You’ve almost made it through the week by now, and we’re well on our way toward Spring. In the northern hemisphere, anyway.

I was scrolling through my posts when I happened upon one that I love—Midwinter Daydreams—filled with “not my shoes, not my feet” photos. It was a popular post. I thought I’d do another one and call it…well, you already know what I called it. 🙂 I hope you enjoy this latest version.

Pour another cup and enjoy!

These are not my shoes, and these are not my feet, but this is the perfect photo for spring. Any day now, we’ll see beautiful blooms in the landscape. This is definitely something I would love to do. Biking on a warm spring day, and I would not be alone.

These are not my shoes, and not my feet, but don’t you love those quirky boots! This is definitely something I would do. Take off the shoes and enjoy the feel of grass and blooms on my bare feet!

These are not my shoes, not my feet! But I love hiking through forests and fields, climbing mountains, finding new paths. One with nature. Observing nature, listening to the sounds, breathing the fresh air. I’m ready to go.

These are not my shoes, or my feet, but this is my summertime uniform. I LIVE in sandals. I’ve never really been a flip-flop girl. I buy walking sandals, because I go everywhere in them. I respect the health of my feet. 🙂

And red is one of my favorite colors! I could walk a lot of miles in these and look great in the process.

[Click to Tweet] Too often, we spend the winter months sitting somewhere. We may be hard at work, but our body suffers from lack of exercise.

We need to get out there and walk, run, bike, hike, and play. Spring sunshine draws me outside.

Where can we go this summer?

These are not my shoes, not my feet, but it looks like fun, doesn’t it? Wherever our plans take us, adventure awaits.

Ahhh…yes. Definitely my kind of spot to leave “not my shoes”. I hope you’ve enjoyed our little excursion. If you’ve managed to stay with me this far, I’d like to issue a little challenge, or maybe just a request. As you go out and about this spring and summer, snap a photo of your feet and/or shoes.

Share them with me on my Facebook page, or at Instagram. You’ll find the links below. Who knows, maybe I’ll feature them on another post. Hmm…what should the title be?


Instagram: batowens

History Mystery Fun

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, and happy Thursday morning!

Did I catch your attention with the title of this post?

I love a good mystery, don’t you? And, as a writer of historical novels, I’m a fan of historical stories, novels, and movies.

So, can you believe I am just now watching Miss Marple? I’ve read the Agatha Christie novels (some of them, anyway), but I’ve never taken the time to watch the series. Until recently. What fun!

I’d just finished watching the latest season of Victoria (PBS), and I was in the mood for more British fare. I enjoyed a bit of history in Victoria, though it may have stretched a few facts a little thin. I love the attention to detail, costumes, locations, and settings.

I found Miss Marple quirky and bright, rather than dark and foreboding—definitely my preference. Cozy mystery, a laugh or two, and lots of beautiful English gardens.  A feast for the eyes.

Back in Kentucky, we’re recovering from a flood. The unseasonably warm weather took a plunge and snowflakes are falling. Just a dusting here and there, enough to remind us it’s still winter.

I’ve finished writing a novel, turned it in to my publisher, and now I’m waiting for the inevitable round of edits. It’s a lot of hard work to turn an idea into a story. A little like mixing ingredients in a bowl. Sometimes, in its raw state, that recipe doesn’t look so palatable. But the finished product is delectable in every way. I hope this one turns out well.

Next up on my plate is the third book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. I’ve just started on it, and already, I’m feeling the warm and welcoming presence of my characters. Annabelle is more comfortable in her lonely state of being. Though she misses what used to be, and mourns what could have been, she loves her new family.

But something is “messing with” her peace—someone, actually—a very handsome someone who refuses to give up on her. But she’s not sure she deserves happiness with another. What if he dies, too? How would she survive that?

I know I’ve rambled a bit this morning. Sometimes, conversations do that. I tried, but couldn’t seem to find a good segue back to cozy mysteries. And then I found it. A perfectly-timed quote from the queen of cozies herself—

I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow; but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.—Agatha Christie

It goes perfectly with my character Annabelle’s situation in life, don’t you think?

Are you a fan of cozy mysteries? Who is your favorite author of cozies? I hope you’ll leave a comment and let me know. As always, thanks so much for stopping by.

Click to Tweet: History Mystery Fun! At Hello, Thursday Morning.

Who Are You?

(I started to title this post, “Who Am I?” —but I already know the answer.)

coffee, cup, laptop, memeHello, Thursday morning readers, and Happy March! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week so far. Will you join me in a cup of your favorite morning beverage? Mine, of course, is coffee, lightened with a small amount of organic half-and-half.

Who you are may depend on the following facts:

  • Who your parents are/were.
  • Where you’re from.
  • Where you’ve been.
  • Education.
  • Vocation.
  • Attitude.

Yes, that last one is important. No matter what the answer to all the other points are, attitude is a game-changer.

One of the gold-medalists in this year’s winter Olympics, an American woman skier, has a tattoo on her wrist that reads, “I am.” My first impression when I saw it: Wait, that’s blasphemous. That’s the name God gave Himself when He spoke to Moses. “I AM that I AM.”

But when she told about the tattoo, I realized what it meant to her. The small gesture had helped her push through a difficult season and continue to pursue her dreams. Yes, for me, it would border on blasphemy, but for her, it meant something entirely different.

Her attitude has to be one of great self-worth. She has to remember who she is, where she’s come from, what she is able to do (because she has worked hard at it), and where she wants to go in order to succeed. If that looks egotistical, so be it. This is the attitude that sets many athletes apart and pushes them onward to victory.

So, I ask again, Who are You? Who do you think you are? Where have you been, and where are you headed? Have you worked at something to improve yourself?

Sometimes I take my eyes off the horizon, the place I want to end up, and I get lost. I’m confused. I lose focus, which results in loss of hope. So, I need to refocus. Reflect. Reorder. Redirect. Whatever it takes to get myself back on track.

The problem with this is, I’ve lost valuable time in the process. Let’s go back to that skier. She has to stay the course. She has to keep the finish in mind from the beginning of her race. She has to stay focused, so she doesn’t miss a gate, or overshoot a curve. Any one of those things can slow her down, break her concentration, and  cost her valuable time.

The same can be said for any of us in our walk through life. An unfocused moment, a missed turn, an untimely response—any of these can cost you—and push you off course. Given these circumstances, how does anyone ever succeed?

Sometimes we have to face “monsters,” or “giants” of discouragement, fear, anxiety, and remorse. Daunting.

When I need reassurance, I turn to one of the oldest books in the world—the Bible. It contains verse after verse that helps reinforce who I am and helps me keep my mind centered on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • I’m a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • I am God’s workmanship. Ephesians 2:10
  • I have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16
  • I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
  • I am more than a conqueror. Romans 8:37
  • I have peace that transcends all understanding. Philippians 4:7 (NIV)

Click to go to Bible Gateway

Reading through these, I can’t help feeling that I’m part of something greater. So, maybe it’s not so much who I am, but who He is.