Spring Floods and Unexpected Visitors

It won’t be long now. Just weeks, and Sutter’s Landing, the sequel to Annabelle’s Ruth, will be available for purchase. We’re getting ready. Working through final edits, choosing the cover, preparing the marketing aspects. A lot of work goes into the release of a novel.

As Book 2 of the Kinsman Redeemer Series opens, Annabelle and Connie have settled into their little home on the old Sterling Place. Alton Wade, Annabelle’s young cousin, continues to court Connie. As her attachment to him grows, Connie struggles with her emotions.

Momma held the door for her (Connie). “You best get in here before you catch your death.”

Death. As she turned toward the door, Connie glanced over her shoulder to the place where Alton had disappeared into the mist . . . Would death steal him away from her, too? She sucked in a jagged breath as the screen door eased shut behind her. She sincerely hoped not. But thoughts like these were a daily struggle. When did one overcome such a fear?

It’s 1955, and the usual spring rains are a bit heavier than normal. In fact, they just don’t want to stop. Days of rain leave the surrounding lowlands completely under water.

How long will the rains continue, and even then, how long before the cotton fields are dry enough to plant?

One of the nicest things about small town living is having neighbors who care. In the fifties, folks often stopped by to “set a spell,” and visit. Imagine that. Surprising, at times, who stops by for a visit. Especially when the visitor is looking for Annabelle.

And then another man shows up on their doorstep. One Connie would never have expected. Not in a million years.

I’d like to invite you back to Trenton, Tennessee, as the story continues. The release date is tentatively set for June 20.

Samson and I will keep you posted.

 

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Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Who was Robert Robinson? A hymnast–he penned one of my favorite old hymns, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. He was also a preacher, pastor, writer, and avid reader.

Born into poverty in Swaffham, Norfolk (England), in 1735, Robinson had a rough start. His mother was said to be a godly woman, who longed to see him become a clergyman. But in those days, a calling took money and position. His father died when Robinson was quite young, so the boy was indentured to a barber and hairdresser in Crutched Friars, London. He loved to read and read as much as he was able. After hearing a sermon preached by George Whitefield, he found “peace by believing” — after about three years of struggle (wandering–according to Robinson).

During a time of many great preachers like Whitefield, Gill, and Wesley, Robinson read, studied, and eventually agreed to speak in a Methodist church. His sermon well accepted, he was invited to fill the position. He would eventually move from the Methodist persuasion to the Baptist. He’d eventually pen some well-known sermons, poems, and hymns.

To me, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing is not only a hymn — it’s poetry. I love reading the lyrics. Some hymns are very simplistic, but this one seems to reach deeper and is well based in scripture.

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
mount of God’s redeeming love.

Here I find my greatest treasure*;
hither by thy help I’ve come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
bought me with his precious blood.

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
daily I’m constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee:
prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here’s my heart, O take and seal it;
seal it for thy courts above.

[The Psalter Hymnal, 1987]

A fourth verse not included in some hymnals:

Hallelujah! I have found it,
The full cleansing I had craved,
And to all the world I’ll sound it:
They too may be wholly saved.
I am sealed by Thy sweet Spirit,
Prone no longer now to roam;
And Thy voice, I’ll humbly hear it,
For Thy presence is my home.

*Interesting, the original text for the second stanza begins, “Here I raise my Ebenezer,” (which is how I remembered it being sung in the movie, Little Women.) –What in the world did the author mean by that?

You’ll find the answer in 1 Samuel 7:12 — “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’” (NIV)

During this Easter season, many congregations will get out some of the old hymns and sing them. What’s your favorite?


May God bless your Easter celebration!

I hope you’ll enjoy listening to Chris Tomlin’s version of the song, via You Tube:

[Some information for this article from Hymnary.org]

Featuring: Virginia Smith, Author

My featured author this month is another native Kentuckian, though she spends part of her time in Utah. Virginia “Ginny” Smith was my first real writer friend. We met at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference when I “happened into” one of her classes. Though there by mistake, I was so entertained I decided to stay, then returned for the repeat of the class. I wrote pages of notes. I not only learned a great deal that day, but also gained one of the most important things you can receive at a writer’s conference–friendship.

I think a good story begins in the author’s heart. It grows and matures there, nourished by love and imagination, until it is strong enough to emerge into the world through a skillful pen. When others read the story, it seeps into their hearts and settles for a while. That’s what I strive to do – tell stories that connect us heart to heart. Stories that slip from my heart to yours. The styles of my books vary, just like my tastes as a reader – some are funny, some thoughtful, some suspenseful, some deeply moving. In every one you will meet new friends so real you’ll miss them when they’re gone.–from her website here.

She has certainly succeeded in doing that. Her characters are well-grounded and real, and her stories are varied. Whatever your preferred genre, you’re likely to find it among the books she’s authored.

Her newest release is The Amish Widower, (The Men of Lancaster County, Book 4).

Is It Time for This Widower to Give Love One More Chance?

After the devastating loss of his second wife, Seth Hostetler believes a lasting love is beyond all hope. A year has passed, and his mamm and sister are determined to see him happily married once again. But how can he open his heart to another woman when their relationship could end in tragedy?

On an outing with his family, Seth comes across an Amish potter hard at work and jumps at the chance to take a seat at the wheel. He takes quickly to this creative outlet, pouring his long-buried emotions into each piece he shapes. Unfortunately, the fancy nature of his art draws the disapproval of his district’s leadership.

His work puts him in the path of Leah, an Englisch woman employed by the Amish to sell their wares to tourists. Despite her aloofness, something about her speaks to Seth’s wounded soul. But what is he to do when the things he wants most threaten to pull him away from the life he’s committed to live?

A compelling novel of second chances and the power of God to redeem hearts and dreams, set in the inviting Amish community of Lancaster County.

One reviewer said about The Amish Widower–“Master storyteller, Virginia Smith, weaves a painful and poignant tale of twice-widowed Seth. On a whim, Seth takes a free pottery lesson from a local Amish artisan and discovers a measure of peace–and finds he has a talent for the craft. I appreciate an author who does her research–in this case, in the art of throwing pottery–and guides us through the eyes, make that the hands, of her characters. So tactile are Smith’s descriptions, my own fingers twitched to feel the clay…”


Ginny and me at the 2016 ACFW Conference

VIRGINIA SMITH is the bestselling author of thirty-one novels (and counting!), an illustrated children’s book, and over fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Her books have been finalists in many prestigious awards, and two of her novels received the Holt Medallion Award of Merit. Learn more about Ginny and her books at www.VirginiaSmith.org.

Click here to check out her Amazon author page for more information and a complete offering of her books!

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Spring Busy-ness

Near the end of March, things get really busy around here. I’m busy judging various writing contests and acting like I know something. I’m an officer of a couple of organizations, one of which requires several hours of work per month.

My house is in dire need of a good Spring cleaning, and my yard…don’t even get me started. I need to schedule my schedule. So my blog posts have been a little skimpy lately. I doubt anyone really noticed, because everyone is so very busy. After all, it’s Spring.

So, since I really need to be cleaning and reading and writing, etc., this post will end with a couple of announcements and a meme. Well, maybe not a meme, because I forgot to make one. Anyway, I hope you’ll bear with me through all this busy-ness, because in a short few weeks, I have another book coming out. I’m so excited! And…there will giveaways! So watch this space.

Short, short stories!

Do you like to write really, really, really short stories? Like, for instance, six-word stories? Quite a challenge, I know.

During the month of April, at Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My! we’re having a little fun with six-word story prompts. Each of our Monday and Friday posts will offer a 3-word prompt for you to finish as a six-word story. That means you only have to come up with three words to finish the story. The best of those entered will be publicized on Facebook and Twitter on a weekly, or even bi-weekly basis (if we have enough entries). Then the Writing Prompts crew will vote on their favorite. The winner will receive a gift card and even more publicity!

Sounds like fun, huh? You might want to click on over there now (here’s another link) and follow the blog so you’ll get an email when we post. This month, we’re talking about our favorite modern authors. Next month, it’s tips on cleaning (Ugh–just in time for spring cleaning).

One other really cool thing about the Writing Prompts blog–every Wednesday–we feature a different writer in a post called “3 Questions Wednesday.” Those writers almost always give away a book to one reader. All you have to do is leave a comment on their 3 Questions Wednesday post. But pay attention to the interview date. If they’re giving a book, it’s usually the next week after their post runs.

So that’s all my important news for now. I have to get back to my work-in-progress. I left my protagonist in a mess!

The Winter That Almost Wasn’t

This is my usual stance in Winter, waiting for that first glimpse of Spring!

But this year, the first glimpse of Spring happened in … December! When we should’ve been shoveling snow, we were worrying over sprouts.

 

Here we are in mid-March with buttercups, crocuses, and forsythias blooming.

We’ve already had high seventies and sunshine.

And then, today … snow flurries and twenties … but we know it won’t last. You can’t hold back the Spring.

Forty years ago, we had two of the coldest winters on record. In 1978, the Ohio River froze over. I’d never seen anything like that. And now, the 2016-2017 winter almost wasn’t. Not complaining.

I’m even looking forward to these guys. ⇒⇒

I’m planning new ways to outsmart them.

What’s the weather been like in your area?

Coming up: Exciting News!

See you back here next week.

A Bowl of Lemons

lemons-368914_1280What comes to mind as you look at this photo?

Most of us think of the saying, “When life hands you a bowl of lemons…”

What does that mean? Sometimes life is tough, bitter, sour to the taste. So what do you prefer to do with a bowl of lemons? beverage-1030150_1280

Many of us will do this⇒⇒⇒

Be sure you have plenty of sugar on hand, (honey, or other sweetener). You’re going to need it.

When I was in first grade, we lived in San Diego. A lemon tree grew in our back yard. I’ll never forget sitting in the car on the street, the day we arrived at this rental home. The song on the radio–Lemon tree, very pretty…

It was a small, but very pretty tree. The blossoms smelled amazing. The lemons were large and beautiful. But you can’t really bite into them, unless you’re one of those who really love the sour taste. Is your mouth reacting to a memory right now? Mine is!Funny man Discharged

So, back to life and its situations. Sometimes things don’t go well. Sometimes it really does seem that you’ve been handed a bowlful of lemons. Less than perfect. What you do with what you’ve been given says a lot about your character. If you smile and make the best of it, you’re adding the sweetener to the bitter, sour taste and making it more palatable. (That’s my dad in the photo–being very silly–but looks like he might’ve taken a bite out of a lemon.)

They say it’s good for you to drink a cup of warm water with lemon every morning. Adds a bit of zest to your life, energizes you, and keeps you regular. It could even help keep your weight down. Now that’s making the best of it, isn’t it?

I prefer to make lemon cream pie with all those lemons, which doesn’t help keep the weight down, but it puts a definite smile on my face. I am one who will take an occasional bite of a lemon. I love the sour taste.

tea-with-lemon-783352_1280Whatever your preference, make the best of what you’ve been given. Put on a smile when you don’t feel like it. People will marvel at your strength and be encouraged by your attitude. It’s like mixing up a big pitcher of lemonade and sharing it with your friends. You’ll feel better, too.

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When I Am Afraid

girl-1246525_1280“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
     In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?”–Psalm 56:3-4 NIV

cat-393294_1280If you struggle with feelings of fear, you are not alone. Most of us do, at one time or another. The words of this psalm, penned by David after he’d been captured by the Philistines –wait–isn’t this the same bunch whose champion, a nine-foot-tall giant–fell to the shepherd boy, David?

Yes.

He’s down, but not out. He’ll be back. He knows they can’t harm him–at least, he’s pretty sure–because he’s the Lord’s anointed. But that doesn’t stop the temporary feeling of fear.

Notice I said temporary.

dog-708376_1280Before the actual physical circumstances change, David will talk and sing and praise his way out of the stronghold of fear in his life. Breakthrough. This is an important key. Sometimes you have to take a stand. Sometimes you have to talk your way out of a bad spot, if only in your own mind or spirit–convince yourself–remind yourself of who you are and Who’s you are.

There’s a great example of this type of praise tactic in Psalm 31:

“Praise be to the Lord,
    for he showed me the wonders of his love
    when I was in a city under siege.
22 In my alarm I said,
    “I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
    when I called to you for help.

23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people!
    The Lord preserves those who are true to him,
    but the proud he pays back in full.
24 Be strong and take heart,
    all you who hope in the Lord.”

In the beginning of that Psalm (verse 1-5), David gave himself and his circumstances to the will of his Father in Heaven. He was hoping to live, and not die, as the rest of this Psalm shows.

From the cross, Jesus quoted part of verse 5: “Into your hands I commit my spirit;” –He didn’t finish the quote, perhaps because He knew His fate was different. Jesus gave himself up to the will of His Father in Heaven, trusting in His ultimate deliverance. He had a greater outcome in his sights.

But David prayed, “Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.”

Ultimately, we have to trust that God will deliver us, one  way or the other. Sometimes, it’s the only answer.dontdarequit

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