Audra Krell

On Purpose

Archive for the category “Books”

The Stranger in Your House

Finally a book that addresses the very issues I face with 3 teen boys. I highly recommend this book. My favorite quote is this: “Blame is something bestowed upon you by other people; responsibility is something you take upon yourself.” The author goes on to say that when you take something on, you have a better chance of improving, blame is a dead end. Oh that more parents would heed the charge. While it’s important we teach our teens the difference between blame and responsibility, it has to begin with the parents. We must understand that our actions have an equal and usually opposite reaction in our teenagers. When we react poorly, we make them solely responsible for their difficulties. Every relationship is two ways and we must take more responsibility as parents, so we can model and define what responsibility looks like for our children. If you want to make healthy changes in your family by the weekend, get this book ASAP.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

 

and the book:

 

(When Your Teenager Becomes…) The Stranger in Your House

David C. Cook; New edition (October 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Dr. Gregg Jantz is the best-selling author of numerous books, including Hope, Help, and Healing for Eating Disorders. He is the founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, a leading healthcare facility near Seattle that specializes in whole-person care. Jantz has appeared on numerous shows, including CNN’s Headline News and the 700 Club. He has been interviewed for CNN.com, as well as the New York Post, the Associated Press, Family Circle, Women’s Day, Yahoo.com and MSNBC.com.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

He’s in his room for days at a time and barely responds when I talk to him. She’s teary every day, one minute demanding I tend to her needs and the next minute demanding I leave her alone. What’s going on with your teenager? Is it just the ups and downs of adolescence, or is it something more? In Dr. Gregg Jantz’s new book, The Stranger in Your House, parents will learn to distinguish between normal adolescent behavior and clinical depression.

Few things strike fear into the hearts of parents more than the approaching adolescence of their children. They have heard horror stories from family and friends about what it was like with their kids and dread the unknown. Will their happy-go-lucky child turn into some sort of a sullen monster? Will the childhood skirmishes of yesterday turn into open teenage warfare?

The roller coaster of adolescence is so prevalent, so stereotypical in some ways, that it has developed into a sort of cultural shorthand. Just say the words “teen angst” to a group of parents of adolescents and heads will nod. It’s a universal catch-phrase for anything from explosive anger to all-is-lost despair. Even kids who weather their teenage years with relative calm still undergo their seasons of adolescent squalls. With all of that swirling around in our heads, how can we know if our teen’s season of discontent is just that or something more?

Depression has the ability to derail a teenager’s progress toward healthy adulthood while confusing and frustrating parents. With years of experience, Dr. Jantz will answer the hard questions about the most critical season of your child’s life:

Is this “just a phase,” or is it clinical depression?
How do hormones affect my teen’s behavior—and what can I do about it?
How can I get help when I see the warning signs of suicidal thoughts?
Why does my teenager seem to need me some days and hate me other days?
How can I be a source of peace in my child’s life, especially when I feel stormy too?

The Stranger in Your House will help parents to push beyond the closed door that is adolescence and open the door to hope.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1434766225
ISBN-13: 978-1434766229

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Who Are You, and What Have You Done with My Child?

He’s in his room for what seems like days, emerging periodically and answering questions with sullen, monosyllabic responses.

She’s moody, teary, and irritable, one minute demanding you drop everything to tend to her needs and the next minute demanding you just leave her alone!
He’s not going out for tennis this year, even though he did well last year. When you ask him why, he can’t really give you an answer, other than he’s not interested anymore. As you think about it, there are a lot of

things he just doesn’t seem that interested in anymore. He seems to fill up his time somehow, but you’re not sure with what. When he was younger, his life was an open book; now, he’s closed the cover and locked you out.
She’s constantly negative—about everything. Nothing ever goes right; she never looks right; you never act right. She used to be a fairly happy kid, but now she’s just difficult to be around, which kind of works

out because you hardly ever see her anyway.

He complains about headaches and not feeling well. It’s hard to get him up in the morning to go to school. If he could sleep until noon every day, you think he would, and suspect he does when you need to leave early for work.
She’s rarely at the dinner table anymore. Instead, she says she’s already eaten, grabs a bag of chips and a soda, and goes to her room. When you ask her about it, she says she’s too busy to spend time with the family and prefers to work in her room, but you’re not exactly sure what she’s doing in there.

He used to spend hours chattering away about all sorts of things; you used to spend time together. Now, having a root canal seems higher on his priority list than spending any time with you.

As sure as she is that she’d really rather not spend time with the family anymore, that seems to be all she’s sure about. It takes her what seems like hours to get dressed in the morning, her chair piled high with discarded outfits. She doesn’t know what she wants to do or what she wants to eat, and getting her to sit down to do her homework is almost unbearable.
You know he’s got clean clothes because you do the laundry, but he seems to constantly wear the same clothes you could swear he went to bed in. His hair is never combed, and you’re worried about how often he’s doing things like brushing his teeth and wearing deodorant. He never seems to stand still long enough for you to really tell. Instead, you see more of his backside leaving than anything else about him.
You’re living on pins and needles, wanting to maintain family rules and responsibilities for the sake of the younger kids, but it’s sheer torture to get any sort of commitment from her to do her chores. She always

promises to do them later, but, somehow, that later never seems to happen. It’s often more tiring to keep asking her to do her chores, so you end up just doing them yourself.

Sunday mornings are even worse than weekday mornings. Getting him up and ready for church hardly seems worth it. He used to go willingly, but now there’s always a reason why not. Just getting him in the car is a thirty-minute argument.
All of this wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t get that sense in your gut that your teen is unhappy. It’s as if he or she walks around in a swirling cloud of discontent, frustration, and irritation. Sometimes it’s so thick you have trouble making out the person inside. It hurts because that person is still your child, no matter the age.
Rough Ride
Few things strike fear into the heart of parents more than the approaching adolescence of their children. They’ve heard horror stories from family and friends, and they dread the fear of the unknown and how

it’s going to go with their own kids. Will that happy-go-lucky child turn into some sort of a sullen monster? Will the childhood skirmishes of yesterday turn into open warfare? Will the days of having

their friends over all the time turn into years of going out to be with friends somewhere else?
Most of us can remember feeling awkward, unattractive, anxious, and overwhelmed as teenagers. We remember living under our own swirling cloud of discontent, especially with our parents and with our own bodies. Sometimes it seemed like we lived in a box, with all four sides pressing inward, squeezing us. Other times, we just wanted to explode out of that box. For several years, our lives were a roller coaster: It was a wild ride, terrifying and exhilarating. As parents, it’s not something we necessarily look forward to repeating with our own kids.

The roller coaster of adolescence is so prevalent, so stereotypical in some ways, it’s developed into a sort of cultural shorthand. Just say the words teen angst to a group of parents of adolescents, and heads will nod. It’s a universal catchphrase for anything from explosive anger to all-is-lost despair. Even kids who weather their teenage years with relative calm still undergo times of double loops with gut-wrenching climbs and terrifying falls because no one is totally immune to adolescence—or life, for that matter.
You knew this ride was coming. Most of you willingly got in line years ago, when you took that sweet, beautiful baby home from the hospital. It’s been years in the making, but now you’re once again in the midst of that tumultuous phase of life known as adolescence. But this time it’s not you in the driver’s seat; you’re along for the ride, but how high you climb and how far you fall are no longer merely

dependent upon you. Just when you thought you were supposed to be carefully “letting go,” your child’s behavior does nothing but make you want to hang on tighter—or sometimes it makes you seriously

consider letting go altogether from sheer exasperation. It was hard enough, frankly, to survive your own teenage years; how are you supposed to help your child survive his or hers?

It’s a weird time of life for a parent. You’re still responsible for your teenager physically, morally, and certainly financially; but your teen is taking on, trying on, and experimenting with more and more of his or her own responsibility. How far should that experimentation go? How far is far enough, and when it is too far?

But what if your teen is experiencing more than just the normal ups and downs of adolescence? How can you tell? More than likely, all you’ve got to go on is what you experienced yourself as a teen, but is that really the baseline you should use with your own teen? What if there are fewer and fewer ups and more and more downs? Is your teenager in a “phase,” or has that “phase” spiraled into something more serious? As a parent, you’re expected to know the difference—without any training and while you’re in the midst of the moment yourself. You’re supposed to be able to diagnose a teenager who makes it his or her life mission to give you as little personal information as possible. This doesn’t appear to be a recipe for success.

None of us want our kids to be miserable as they’re transitioning from child to adult. And none of us, frankly, want to be miserable ourselves, weathering an incessant barrage of teenage moods and behaviors. Navigating this time of life can be complicated, and it’s perfectly reasonable to reach out for some answers and some help. That’s what this book is designed to do. It’s written to provide you with information so you can better understand
• what your teenager’s behavior means;

• when to relax and ride the wave of a teenage phase without pushing the panic button yourself;
• how teenagers get off track and how to help them get back on the right track;
• how to know if behavior reflects “just being a teen” or if it’s something more serious like clinical

depression;
• what behaviors you can work with and which ones you can’t;

• how to help your teen understand the Goddesigned future and promise waiting at his or her cusp of adulthood;

• when it’s time to get your teen professional help and how to choose the option best for your family

and situation.
As a professional counselor for well over twenty-five years, I’ve devoted a good portion of my practice to working with teenagers. I’ve found them to be amazingly forthright and courageous, while at the same time vulnerable and confused. Often, they are doing what seems best to them to address their situation. Unfortunately, they often turn to risky and destructive behaviors as coping strategies through this turbulent time. When these coping behaviors end up taking on an ugly life of their own, the roller-coaster ride turns very dangerous. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Teenagers are on the cusp of their future. They’re still grounded in childhood but can easily see adulthood just off in the distance. They’re chomping at the bit to grow up and dragging their feet at the same time. Teenagers are on a mission toward that adulthood in the distance; they just need help navigating the path. You can’t take the steps for them, but you can help make the way clearer. It’s important to their development that they navigate this journey well and on their own, supported by you.
Detours at this age have long-range consequences. Closing the bedroom door—either as the teen or as the parent—on the problem isn’t going to make it go away. As a parent, you need to be ready to assist, even if your teen insists he or she absolutely does not want your help. This isn’t meddling; it’s parenting.

Because teenagers see themselves differently and consequently see parents differently, your commitment to your teen’s future is more complicated. When he stubbed his toe on the sidewalk curb at four and a half, a kiss, a hug, and a cartoon Band-Aid did the trick. When he stubs his heart on his first romantic rejection, it’s a little more complicated. When she refused to like the outfit you picked out for her at five, you had others to choose from. When she refuses to like herself at thirteen, it’s a little more complicated.

When it became a contest of wills with him at eight, you could win and still get a hug at the end of the evening. When it’s a contest of wills at fifteen and there’s no way he’s prepared to give in to you at

all, it’s a little more complicated. When she was ten and you wanted to spend time together, there was nothing she wanted to do more. When she’s sixteen and you want to spend time together and she just

looks at you with shocked disbelief and adopts a when-hell-freezesover expression, it’s a little more complicated.

Each phase of life has its own challenges. Parenting has never been for the weak-stomached (especially during the early years), the fainthearted, or the halfway committed. It can be tempting to take a backseat when your kid hits the teen years, figuring you’ve done the bulk of your work and you can just coast into his or her adulthood on all your previous parenting momentum. You’re older, more tired, and your less-than-active participation in their lives pretty much seems what teenagers want anyway. It’s tempting, yes, but don’t give in. You’re still the parent; you’re still the adult, and you still have work to do. Even if it doesn’t seem that way, your teenager desperately longs to be connected to you. He or she needs (notice I didn’t say wants) your acceptance, acknowledgment, and approval. No matter how much they argue to the contrary, teenagers—including yours—do not have life figured out yet. They don’t need you to live their lives for them, but they do need your guidance and your support, even when that’s the furthest thing from their minds and hearts.
And when that roller coaster goes off track, teenagers need someone to notice and take immediate steps to get things on the right path. Partnering together with your teenager to successfully navigate adolescence is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It also has the outrageous potential to be the most rewarding.

Bringing It Home
When you think about your child becoming or being a teenager, what three words or phrases come mostly quickly to mind?

1.
2.
3.

For each one, identify a specific incident or event that gives this feeling such validity in your mind. Please keep in mind that this could be something from your own adolescence that you’re

projecting onto your teenager.

If the attitude of parents of teenagers could be culled down to a single word, it could be concerned. Do any of the three words you’ve written above fall into a concerned or fear category? If they do, what are you concerned or fearful about?

In order to help remind you that all of this work and effort is worth it, I’d like you to create a photomontage of the teen in question, using at least five photographs of your child, ranging from infancy to the present. How you create the montage and where you put it is up to you, as long as it’s easily accessible. Here are some ideas, or you can come up with your own: a framed collection on your nightstand, a rotating screen saver on your computer, downloads on your cell phone, or simply individual photos in your purse or wallet. How you access them isn’t as important as looking at them regularly. You need to remember and remind yourself that all of this is worth it and that you love your adolescent, even when his or her behavior seems specifically designed to call that love into serious question.

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Money Secrets of the Amish

Money Secrets of the Amish

I thoroughly enjoyed Lorilee Craker’s Money Secrets of the Amish. The subtitle aptly describes the content: Finding true abundance in simplicity, sharing and saving.
The older I get, the more interested I become in downsizing, simplifying and giving. Or maybe it’s the older my sons get, as the oldest went to college this year.
The money saving tips in this book are presented clearly and are simple and practical. The book shows how to recycle and gave new ideas for repurposing.

My favorite idea from the book is to save pieces of your children’s clothes to have made into a quilt, which you present at graduation or other special milestones in their life.

I will of course, be giving this book to some dear friends, who I know will pass it on to others. This is a great read for everyone, no matter what their bank account shows.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Book Review: 40 Days to Better Living

Another great book from the 40 Days to Better Living folks, this time on Hypertension. Such a great series and an active, helpful way to help people manage hypertension.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

 

Today’s Wild Card author is:

 

 

and the book:

 

40 Days to Better Living: Hypertension

Barbour Books (September 1, 2011)

***Special thanks to Audra Jennings, Senior Media Specialist, The B&B Media Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

From the time Scott Morris was just a teenager, he knew he would do two things with his future—serve God and work with people. Growing up in Atlanta, he felt drawn to the Church and at the same time drawn to help others, even from a very young age. It was naturally intrinsic, then, that after completing his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia he went on to receive his M.Div. from Yale University and finally his M.D. at Emory University in 1983.

After completing his residency in family practice, Morris arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1986 without knowing a soul, but determined to begin a health care ministry for the working poor. He promptly knocked on the doors of St. John’s Methodist Church and Methodist Hospital in Memphis inviting them to help, and then found an old house to refurbish and renovate. By the next year, the Church Health Center opened with one doctor—Dr. Scott Morris—and one nurse. They saw twelve patients the first day and Morris began living his mission to reclaim the Church’s biblical commitment to care for our bodies and spirits.

From the beginning, Morris saw each and every patient as a whole person, knowing that without giving careful attention to both the body and soul the person would not be truly well. So nine years after opening the Church Health Center, he opened its Hope & Healing Wellness Center. Today the Church Health Center has grown to become the largest faith-based clinic in the country of its type having cared for 60,000 patients of record without relying on government funding. The clinic handles more than 36,000 patient visits a year while the wellness center, which moved to its current 80,000-square-foot location on Union Avenue in 2000, serves more than 120,000 member visits each year. Fees are charged on a sliding scale based on income.

Visit the author’s website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

Millions experience high blood pressure—and 40 Days to Better Living: Hypertension provides clear, manageable steps for you to manage it, through life-changing attitudes and actions. If you’re ready to really live better, select one or more elements of the 7-step Model for Healthy Living—Faith, Medical, Movement, Work, Emotional, Family and Friends, and Nutrition—and follow the 40-day plan to improve your life, just a bit, day by day. With plenty of practical advice, biblical encouragement, and stories of real people who’ve taken the same journey, this book—from the Church Health Center in Memphis, the largest faith-based clinic of its type in the U.S.—may be the most important book you read this year!

The 40 Days to Better Living series offers clear, manageable steps to life-changing attitudes and actions in a context of understanding and grace for all people at all points on the journey to optimal health. With plenty of practical advice, spiritual encouragement, and real stories of those who have found a better life, this simple and skillfully crafted book inspires readers to customize their own path to wellness by using the 7-Step Model for Healthy Living as a guide:

    • Nutrition: pursuing smarter food choices and eating habits

 

  • Friends and family: giving and receiving support through relationships

 

 

  • Emotional life: understanding feelings and managing stress to better care for yourself

 

 

  • Work: appreciating your skills, talents, and gifts

 

 

  • Movement: discovering ways to enjoy physical activity

 

 

  • Medical care: partnering with health care providers to optimize medical care

 

 

  • Faith life: building a relationship with God, neighbors, and self

 

Along with tips from the Model for Healthy Living, the easy-to-read format features a Morning Reflection and an Evening Wrap-Up as well as a place for documenting plans, progress, and perspectives. Targeted scriptures and prayers that undergird the focus of each day’s message make this compact book an excellent choice for a daily devotional.

Subsequent titles in the Better Living series will be released bi-monthly and address key health topics including hypertension, diabetes, depression, weight management, stress management, aging, and addiction. All promise substantial support to those who are ready for a newer, better way of living—body and spirit.

Product Details:

List Price: $7.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (September 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1616262656
ISBN-13: 978-1616262655

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Not Bulletproof…Yet

So I’m querying agents and publishers like crazy with my new novel, Abandoned Ship. How exciting, you might think. And it is.

Every house or agent wants something different. One wants the first 3 chapters pasted in the email and will delete if you attach. Other agencies say that pasting “ruins the formatting and there couldn’t be a worse first impression”. Others want a biography, some want a long synopsis and still others want a one page query which covers your life story. Some don’t accept snail mail, others won’t accept email.

Where’s the exciting part you ask? It’s in the work. It takes hours of due diligence to query just 2 or 3 agents. The satisfaction of hitting send or packaging up a proposal and dropping it in the mail is glorious. But with all the nets thrown, come the rejections.

And they sting.

Because you want to know, I’ll tell you. I’m on my 25th rejection between my first and second book. So it’s really an anniversary of sorts. Woo Hoo! That’s me celebrating with a mini fist pump.

After 25, it might get a little easier. I thought. Truth is, I didn’t think there’d be a number 25. Somebody was going to beg me for my exclusive work. Maybe even two somebody’s. Alas, they became number 24 and 25 respectively and within 15 minutes of each other.

So while my thick skin is growing, it certainly is far from bulletproof. And while we’re talking about being far from things, I’m far from giving up.

If you have a range of 0-100, 100 being I’ve done everything I can to make my baby fly, I’m at about an 8.

Loving the journey and the grace afforded me along the way. There are some very nice agents and publishers out there, even in the midst of delivering news I don’t want to hear.

I’m just grateful for the chance.

Question:

What about you? On a scale of 0-100, where do fall with your dream? What can you do to put yourself closer to 100?

Johnny Castle On Writing

This past Wednesday, marked  two years since Patrick Swayze passed away. I thought of him and back to my 17th summer, the year Dirty Dancing came out. I saw it with my boyfriend’s family and was embarrassed by the sensuality, so I loudly announced I didn’t like it afterwards. Those very people are now my in-laws and we laugh because Dirty Dancing is one of my favorite movies of all time.

If you don’t know, shame on you  Patrick Swayze plays a character named Johnny Castle. He is a dance instructor at an affluent resort in the Catskills in the 60’s. Dirty Dancing is a coming of age movie where a teen girl played by Jennifer Grey, rebels by falling in love with Johnny, a working class entertainer. DD was the first film to sell over one million copies on VHS.

Everything you need to know, can be learned from Dirty Dancing and not from Kindergarten. But that’s for another series.

Today I give you 3 things from Johnny Castle which writers will do well to remember.

  1. Nobody puts baby in a corner.  You can write in obscurity and wait for an agent or publisher to invite you on stage and ask you to dance. Or you can stand up, pursue the writing life and never look back.
  2. You’ll hurt me if you don’t trust me,all right? Once  you find an agent, trust them and let them lead. Agreeably make the changes they request. Drop scenes, characters and 4000 words like the bad habits they are.
  3. It’s not on the one, it’s not the mambo. It’s a feeling, a heartbeat. Be original. Dance your own dance. Look deep inside and feel it, breath it. Let writing beat your heart.

And it just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t say:

Have the time of your life.

The Boxing Writer

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I box to be a better writer.

For most, writing is very emotional. Sometimes I have so much feeling, that it prohibits good writing. 

When we were young, we were taught to punch a pillow when we got angry. I thought that sounded stupid. Now I wish I'd tried it.

Kicking and punching the heavy bag brings out emotions I didn't know I had. After burning 600 calories in 30 minutes, you feel depleted on every level, everything is stripped away.

When I'm down to the bare bones, it's time to write. I still have the emotions fresh on my mind, but because I have dealt with them, my craftsmanship can come through. I use my experiences to carefully construct meaningful dialogue with a powerful takeaway. 

Boxing allows me to get out of myself, which puts my focus where it should be.

On you, the reader.

Teachable aside: if you want to laugh your you-know-what off and need humorous material for your column, drop by the gym and you'll see a spaz trying not to bite someone's ear off. 

I never said it was pretty.

Passport Through Darkness

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Don't know if you've noticed, but I've cooled it lately on the book reviews. This one though, is a must.

Kimberly Smith has been doing God's work for years, trying to stop human trafficking. 

Her writing it powerful and keeps the reader coming back. Not because you can stomach the content, but because you are changed from the first chapter. I was with Kimberly, watching alongside as she tended to every need of our brothers and sisters in Sudan, and prayed for her as she battled her own demons all the while.

I've never considered myself a mission type servant, but I don't know how I couldn't not go after reading this book. Even if you don't think you would ever serve in this way, Kimberly's authentic account changes the way you'll pray. 

From a writer's standpoint, this book has too many stories going on at one time. I hope for more books from Kimberly, that will delve deeper into each experience. At the same time, I'd rather have her servant heart in the field, than in a chair writing. Her work is life-changing for countless people.

Get your copy today. Go over to my Amazon box on the right, type in Passport to Darkness and your book will arrive by early next week.

Many thanks to Audra Jennings and the B&B Media Group for providing me with this review copy.

Agenda of an Artist

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Photo courtesy @iStockphoto

 

Every time I start writing a book, I dread telling people about it. Inevitably, someone asks, "where are you going with this story?" And I usually don't have a good answer. 

I squirm and flail, mumbling something about a direction the story might go, or offering an apology for not knowing or being clear. Then they think I don't want to spoil the book for them. But that's not the case either. I simply don't know. 

When I start a novel, I don't have an agenda. I have a dirty black canvas, where anything could happen.  A medium to explore and discover. I chip away at the darkness, fashioning a moving, breathing story until just enough light is let in.

Other artists understand this. They don't ask what your agenda is, instead they wonder what you are currently exploring. 

Artists may not have an agenda or know where they're going, but we know how we're getting there.

 

Editing in Vegas

“There’s just no quiet in Vegas.” – Barry Manilow

I noticed Copyblogger uses this same quote today, but their post is the opposite of mine, it's about Internet noise.

Steve and I get up to Vegas at least 4 times a year. Ironically, the City of Sin is a haven for us. 

Vegas isn't the first destination the average person thinks of when they need some serious R & R. 

Our trips our refreshing though. We sleep late, eat incredible food, relax at the pool and go to two or three shows.

Not this time though. We are leaving this weekend; booked a great one bedroom suite high above the strip and will be…..editing.  Yep, a working vacation to edit the novel I wrote in November. 

Somewhere in the city billed as having "no quiet," we will be in lovely, complete silence. Where the only sounds are the clicking of a computer keyboard and the occasional popping of a cork.

I can't wait.

Where do you like to write and/or edit?

Review: Catching Moondrops

This is Jennifer Valent's third book in the trilogy. She won the Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest in 2007 and I was there to see her win it live. It was such a thrill, because Jennifer is a wonderful writer.

She's done it again with the final book in the trilogy,Catching Moondrops. Every page drips with historical accuracy and engages readers to the point of not being able to put the book down. I loved all the action leading up the climax, but what Jennifer is best at, is gently sowing the power and truth of God into the characters as well as the heart of the reader. Catching Moondrops will stay with you, long after you've read the last word.

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour  book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

 

 

and the book:

 

Catching Moondrops

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 20, 2010)

***Special thanks to Maggie Rowe of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jennifer Erin Valent is the 2007 winner of the Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest. A lifelong resident of the South, her surroundings help to color the scenes and characters she writes. In fact, the childhood memory of a dilapidated Ku Klux Klan billboard inspired her portrayal of Depression-era racial prejudice in Fireflies in December. She has spent the past 15 years working as a nanny and has dabbled in freelance, writing articles for various Christian women's magazines. She still resides in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (September 20, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414333277
ISBN-13: 978-1414333274

AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:

There’s nothing in this whole world like the sight of a man swinging by his neck.

Folks in my parts liked to call it “lynching,” as if by calling it another word they could keep from feeling like murderers. Sometimes when they string a man up, they gather around like vultures looking for the next meal, staring at the cockeyed neck, the sagging limbs, their lips turning up at the corners when they should be turning down. For some people, time has a way of blurring the good and the bad, spitting out that thing called conscience and replacing it with a twisted sort of logic that makes right out of wrong.

Our small town of Calloway, Virginia, had that sort of logic in spades, and after the trouble it had caused my family over the years, I knew that better than most. But the violence had long since faded away, and my best friend Gemma would often tell me that made it okay—her being kept separate from white folks. “Long as my bein’ with your family don’t bring danger down on your heads, I’ll keep my peace and be thankful,” she’d say.

But I didn’t feel so calm about it all as Gemma did. Part of that was my stubborn temperament, but most of it was my intuition. I’d been eyeball to eyeball with pure hate more than once in my eighteen years, and I could smell it, like rotting flesh. Hate is a type of blindness that divides a man from his good sense. I’d seen it in the eyes of a Klansman the day he tried to choke the life out of me and in the eyes of the men who hunted down a dear friend who’d been wrongly accused of murder.

And, at times, I’d caught glimpses of it in my own heart.

The passage of time had done nothing to lessen its stench. And despite the relative peace, I knew full well that hearts poisoned by hateful thinking can only simmer for so long before boiling over.

In May of that year, 1938, that pot started bubbling.

I was on the front porch shucking corn when I saw three colored men turn up our walk, all linked up in a row like the Three Musketeers. I stood up, let the corn silk slip from my apron, and called over my shoulder. “Gemma! Come on out here.”

She must have been nearby because the screen door squealed open almost two seconds after my last words drifted in through the screen. “What is it?”

“Company. Only don’t look too good.” I walked to the top of the steps and shielded my eyes from the sun. “Malachi Jarvis! You got yourself into trouble again?”

The man in the middle, propped up like a scarecrow, lifted his chin wearily but managed to flash a smile that revealed bloodied teeth. “Depends on how you define trouble.”

Gemma gasped at the sight of him and flew down the steps, letting the door slam so loud the porch boards shook. “What in the name of all goodness have you been up to? You got some sort of death wish?”

A man I’d never seen before had his arm wound tightly beneath Malachi’s arms, blood smeared across his shirt front. Malachi’s younger brother, Noah, was on his other side, struggling against the weight, and Gemma came in between them to help.

“He ain’t got the good sense to keep his mouth shut, is all,” Noah said breathlessly.

I went inside to grab Momma’s first aid box, and by the time I got back out, Gemma had Malachi seated in the rocker.

Gemma gave him the once-over and shook her head so hard I thought it might fly off. “I swear, if you ain’t a one to push a body into an early grave. Your poor momma’s gonna lose her ever-lovin’ mind.”

Along with his younger brother and sister, Malachi lived down by the tracks with his widowed momma—as the man of the house, so to speak. He’d taken up being friends with Luke Talley some two years back when they’d both worked for the tobacco plant, and they’d remained close even though Luke had struck out on his own building furniture. Malachi was never one to keep his peace, a fact Gemma had no patience for, and she made it good and clear many a time. Today would be no exception.

“Goin’ around stirrin’ up trouble every which way,” she murmured as she pulled fixings out of the first aid box. “It’s one thing to pick fights with your own kind. Can’t say as though you wouldn’t benefit by a poundin’ or two every now and again. But this foolin’ around with white folks’ll get you into more’n you’re bargainin’ for.”

The man who’d helped Noah shoulder the burden of Malachi reached out to take the gauze from Gemma. “Why don’t you let me get that?”

Gemma didn’t much like being told what to do, and she glared at him. “I can clean up cuts and scrapes. I worked for a doctor past two years.”

Malachi nodded towards the man. “This here man is a doctor.”

I was putting iodine on a piece of cotton, and I near about dropped it on the floor when I heard that. Never in all my born days had I seen a colored man claiming to be a doctor. Neither had Gemma by the looks of her.

“A doctor?” she murmured. “You sure?”

He laughed and extended his hand to her. “Last I checked. Tal Pritchett. Just got into town yesterday. Gonna set up shop down by the tracks.”

Gemma handed the gauze over to him, still dumbfounded.

“What d’you think about that?” Malachi grinned and then grimaced the minute his split lip made its presence known. “A colored doc in Calloway. Shoo-whee. There’s gonna be talkin’ about this!”

The doctor went to work cleaning up Malachi’s wounds. “I ain’t here to start no revolution. I’m just aimin’ to help the colored folks get the help they deserve.”

“Well, you’re goin’ to start a revolution whether you want to or not.” Malachi shut his eyes and gritted his teeth the minute the iodine set to burning. “Folks in these parts don’t much like colored folk settin’ themselves up as smart or nothin’.”

Gemma watched Tal Pritchett like she was analyzing his every move, finding out for herself if he was a doctor or not. I stood by and let her assist him as she’d been accustomed to doing for Doc Mabley until he passed on two months ago. After he’d bandaged up Malachi’s right hand, she seemed satisfied that he was who he said.

Noah slumped down into the other rocker and watched. “It’s one thing to get yourself an education and stand for your right to make somethin’ of yourself. It’s another to go stirrin’ up trouble for the sake of stirrin’ up trouble.”

“I ain’t doin’ it for the sake of stirrin’ up trouble. I done told you that!” Malachi flexed his left hand to test how well his swollen fingers moved. Ain’t no colored man ever goin’ to be free in this here county . . . in this here state . . . in this here world unless somebody starts fightin’ for freedom.”

“Slaves was freed decades ago,” Noah said sharply. “We ain’t in shackles no more.”

“But we ain’t free to live our lives as we choose, neither. You think colored people are ever gonna be more’n house help and field help so long as we let ourselves be treated like less than white people? No sir. We’re less than human to them white folks. They don’t think nothin’ about killin’ so long as who they’re killin’ is colored.”

“Don’t you go bunchin’ all white people together, Malachi Jarvis,” I argued. “Ain’t all white folk got bad feelin’s about coloreds.”

Malachi waved me off in exasperation. “You know I ain’t talkin’ about you, Jessilyn.”

Noah had his hands tightly knotted in his lap and was staring at them like they held all the answers to the world’s problems. “All’s you’re doin’ is gettin’ yourself kicked around.” He looked up at me pleadingly. “This here’s the second time in a week he’s come home banged up.”

I put a hand on Noah’s shoulder and set my eyes on Malachi. “Who did it?”

He put his bandaged right hand into the air, palm up. “Who knows? Some white boys. You get surrounded by enough of ‘em, they all just blend in together like a vanilla milkshake.”

“How’s it you didn’t see them? They jump you or somethin’?”

“Don’t ask me, Jessie. I was just mindin’ my own business in town and then on my way home, they start hasslin’ me.”

“What he was doin’,” Noah corrected, “was tryin’ to get into the whites-only bar.”

Gemma sniffed in disgust. “Shouldn’t have been in no bar in the first place. There’s your first mistake.”

“Whites-only, too.” Noah kicked his foot against the porch rail and then looked up at me quickly. “Sorry.”

I smiled at him and turned my attention back to Malachi. “It’s a good thing Luke ain’t here to see this. He don’t like you drinkin’ and you know it.”

His eyeballs rolled between swollen lids. “I don’t know why he gets his trousers in a knot over it anyhow. Ain’t like there’s prohibition no more. And he’s been known to take a swig or two himself.”

“Luke says you’re a nasty drunk.”

“He is.” Noah knotted his hands back in his lap. “And he’s been at the bottle more often than not of late.”

“Quit tellin’ tales!” his brother barked.

“I ain’t tellin’ tales; I’m tellin’ truth. They can ask anybody at home how late you come in, and how you come in all topsy turvy. He comes home in the middle of the mornin’ and sleeps in till all hours the next day.”

“What about your job at the plant?” Gemma asked.

Malachi closed his eyes and waved her off, but his brother provided the answer for him. “Lost it!” He loosened his grip on his hands and snapped his fingers. “Like that. There’s goes his income.”

“I said I’ll get another job.”

“Oh, like there’s jobs aplenty around these parts for colored folk. And anyways, if you find one, how you gonna’ keep that one?”

Gemma had her hands on her hips, and I knew what that meant. I leaned back against the house and waited for the lecture to commence.

“You talk a fine talk about colored folks needin’ to stand up for equality, but you ain’t doin’ it in any way that’s right and good. You’re goin’ about town gettin’ people’s goat, and tryin’ to get in where you ain’t wanted, and gettin’ yourself all liquored up and useless. Now your family ain’t got the money they depend on you for, and why? Because you walk around livin’ like you ain’t got to do nothin’ for nobody but yourself.”

“I’m standin’ up for the rights of colored folks everywhere.” Malachi was angry now, pink patches spreading on his busted-up cheeks. “You see anyone else in this town willin’ to go toe to toe with the white boys in this county?”

“Don’t put a noble face on bein’ an upstart.”

Malachi pushed Tal’s hand away and sat up tall. “You call standin’ up to white folks bein’ an upstart?”

Doc Pritchett tried to dress the wound on Malachi’s temple, but Malachi pushed his hand away again. That was when the doctor had enough, and he smacked his hands on his thighs and stood up tall and determined in front of Malachi. “I ain’t Abraham Lincoln. I’m just Doc Pritchett tryin’ to fix up an ornery patient, and I ain’t got all day to do it. So I’m goin’ to settle this argument once and for all.” He pointed at Gemma. “She’s right. There ain’t no fightin’ nonsense with more nonsense, and all’s you’re doin’ by gettin’ in the faces of white folks with your smart attitude is bein’ as bad as they’re bein’.” Then he pointed at Malachi. “And he’s right, too. There ain’t never a change brought about that should be brought about without people standin’ up for such change. And sometimes that means bein’ willin’ to fight for what’s right.”

Gemma swallowed hard and didn’t even try to argue. My eyes must have bugged out of my head at the sight of her being tamed so easily.

“Now, I’m all for civil uprisin’,” Tal continued. “I don’t see nothin’ wrong with colored folk sayin’ they won’t be walked on no more. I don’t see nothin’ wrong with wantin’ to use the same bathroom as white folks or sit in the same chairs as white folks. Way I see it, none of that’s goin’ to change unless someone says it has to.” He squatted down in front of Malachi again and stared him down nose to nose. “But all this hot-shottin’ and show-boatin’ ain’t goin’ to do nothin’ but get your rear end kicked. Or worse. You aim to stand tall for somethin’? Fine. Stand tall for it. But don’t you go around thinkin’ these battle scars say somethin’ for you. You ain’t got them by bein’ noble; you got them by bein’ stupid. All’s these scars say is you’re an idiot.”

It was one of the best speeches I’d heard from anyone outside my daddy, and if I’d ever thought for two seconds put together to see a colored man run for governor, I figured Tal Pritchett would be the man for the job. As it was, I knew he was the best man for the job he had now. Sure enough, being a colored doc in Calloway would be a challenge. But I figured he was up for it.

Regardless, he shut Malachi up, and for the next five minutes we all watched him finish his job with skill and finesse. When he’d fixed the last of Malachi’s face, he stood up and clapped his hands. “Suppose that should do it. Don’t see need for any stitchin’ up today. Let’s hope there’s no cause for it in future.” Then he looked at me. “You got someplace out here where I can wash up?”

I held my hand out toward the front door. “Bathroom’s upstairs.”

He hesitated. “I’d just as soon wash up out here.”

I caught the reason for his hesitation but didn’t know what to say. As usual, Gemma did.

“I done lived in this here house for six years now, and I’m just as brown as you. You can feel free to go on up to the bathroom, you hear?”

He looked from Gemma to me, then back to Gemma before nodding. “Yes’m.” And then he disappeared inside.

“Ma’am,” Gemma muttered under her breath. “Ain’t old enough to be called ma’am, least of all by a man no more’n a few years older’n me.”

“You know what happens once you start gettin’ them crows feet . . .”

Gemma whirled about and gave Malachi the evil eye. “Don’t go thinkin’ I won’t hurt you just because you’re all bandaged up.”

Noah got up and paced the porch until Tal came back outside. “Doc, you have any problem gettin’ your schoolin’?”

Tal shrugged and leaned against the porch rail. “No more’n most, I guess. There’s a lot to learn. Why? You thinkin’ about goin’ to college?”

You could have heard a pin drop on that front porch. Never, and I mean never, in all the days Calloway had been on the map, had there ever been a single person, white or black, to step foot at a college. The very idea of that mark being made by a colored boy was a surefire way to start war.

And Noah knew it.

He looked at his feet and kicked the heel of one shoe against the toe of another. “Ain’t possible. I was just wonderin’ aloud, is all.”

“What do you mean it ain’t possible? All’s you’ve got to do is work hard. You can get scholarships and things.”

But Noah took a look at his brother, whose face was hard and tight-lipped, and nodded off toward the road. “Nah, there ain’t no use talkin’ over it. We’d best get home anyhow.”

Tal didn’t push the subject. He just picked his hat up off the porch swing and plopped it on his
head. “Miss Jessie. Miss Gemma. It was a fine pleasure to meet you, and a kindness for you to give us a hand.”

“You should stop by sometime and meet my parents,” I said. “They’re off visitin’, but I’m sure they’d be right happy to know you.”

“I’m sure I’d be right happy to know them, too.” He turned his attention to Gemma. “You said you worked for a doctor?”

“I worked for Doc Mabley. He was a white doctor. Died some two months ago.”

“He let you assist?”

“Only with the colored patients. Doc Mabley was kind enough to help some of them out when they needed it. Otherwise I kept his records, kept up his stock.”

“Well, I’ll tell you, Miss Gemma, I could sure use some help if you’d be obliged. An assistant would be a good set of extra hands, and I could use someone known around here to make my introductions.”

Gemma eyed him up before slowly nodding her head. “Reckon I could.”

“Wouldn’t be much pay, now, you know. Ain’t likely to get much in the way of fees from the patients I’ll be treatin’.”

“Don’t matter so long as I have good work to put my hands to.”

“That it would be. My office is right across the street from the Jarvis house.”

Malachi snorted. “Shack’s more like it.”

“Room enough for me,” Tal said. Then to Gemma, “You think you could stop in sometime this week to talk it over?”

“I can come day after tomorrow if that suits.”

“Nine o’clock too early?”

“No, sir! I’ve kept farm hours all my life.”

He grinned at her. “Nine o’clock then?”

“Nine o’clock.”

Malachi watched the two of them with his swollen eyes, a look of disgust growing more evident on his face. He’d made no secret over the past year about his admiration for Gemma, and the unmistakable attraction that was growing between her and Tal was clearly turning his stomach.

“Mind if we go home?” he muttered. “Before I fall down dead or somethin’?”

Gemma tore her eyes away from Tal to roll them at Malachi. “Would serve you right if you did.”

“And on that cheery note . . .” Malachi groaned on his way down the steps. “I’ll bid you ladies a fine evenin’.”

I gave Noah a playful whack to the head, but he ducked so it only clipped the top. “Luke will be back home tomorrow evenin’. He’ll be itchin’ to see you, I’m sure.”

“I’m itchin’ to see him.” He took the steps in one leap, tossing dust up when he landed. “You tell him to come on by and see us real soon.”

“And tell him to bring his cards,” Malachi added. “He owes me a poker rematch.”

I squinted at him suspiciously. “Only if you play for beans.”

“I hate beans.”

Malachi leaned on Tal for support and Noah scurried to catch up and help. I watched them go, but I wasn’t thinking much about them. I was thinking about Luke. It had been two months since he’d left to collect customers for his furniture-making business, and every day had seemed like an eternity.

The very thought of him got my stomach butterflies to fluttering, but one look at Gemma told me it was another man who had stolen her attention. “That

Doc Pritchett’s a fine man.” I looked at her sideways with a smirk. “Looks about twenty-five or so.”

“So?”

“Good marryin’ age.”

She crossed her arms defiantly. “Jessilyn Lassiter, what’s that got to do with anythin’?”

“Only what I said. I’m only statin’ fact.”

“Mm-hm. I hear ya. You’d be better off keepin’ your facts to yourself.”

She grabbed the first aid box and headed inside, but the sound of that door slamming told me I’d got to her.

It told me Tal Pritchett had got to her, too.

 

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