CONGRATULATIONS!

Congratulations to Jenny LM who won Susanne Dietze's My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho Prize pack!



Monday, November 30, 2009

Life Lessons from Scarlett O'Hara


(Yes, another Scarlett Post. Really, I wrote this one before fellow devotee Julie Lessman's, so come on in out of that hot Georgia sun and let's talk.)

Scarlett O’Hara is a name people recognize whether they’ve read the book or seen the movie. How often does that happen? She exemplifies the very description of a strong, unforgettable character.

And if you don’t know, Scarlett wasn’t even likable.


I was a pre-teen bookworm when my mother suggested I read Gone With the Wind. It was the size of the dictionary, and although I did like history, I didn’t have much confidence in a book about the civil war. I mean 'the war of Northern Aggression.'

"Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” I was instantly hooked. I shared it with a friend and probably read it two times in a row. Months later, GWTW was re-released in the theatre and we saw it three times. Wikipedia says it was 1967, so perhaps I was only a toddler at the time? I can quote it (Southern dialect included) as well as my adult children quote Field of Dreams or, sadly, Anchorman.

So, as a big fan of Gone with the Wind, let me suggest two things to chew on during that intermission. (Yes, you need an intermission in a four hour movie.)

Scarlett’s draw is tenacity. She stepped over and on those around her to get what she wanted and we forgive her for it. Why? Maybe because her mother, her mammy and her Melanie all loved her and secretly, we want to be just that gutsy. Gutsy has its place, doesn’t it?

Once our Katie Scarlett set her mind to something, she did it. When life handed her lemons she threw them and made sweet tea instead, know what I mean?

How many opportunities have we lost because we backed down, gave up or put our goals on hold and then forgot to retrieve them? How true this is for writers! A heavily “red inked” critique, a miserable contest score, the release of a new book with the same plot and setting as your five year old manuscript, another rejection letter, a negative review. You just know what Scarlett would have said.

“Fiddle dee dee!”

Scarlett had no problem believing in herself and it propelled her to succeed. We all knew she’d get Rhett back, didn’t we?
As a writer now, I am so impressed with Margaret Mitchell. What glorious characters! What glorious dialogue. I am just pea green with envy. We can’t separate Scarlett and Rhett from Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable anymore, but don’t think they one-upped Mrs. Mitchell’s original work.

So think about this today--or maybe think about it tomorrow (wink wink):

Have you let your obstacles hold you back or have you used them as stepping stones? I don’t advocate Scarlett’s methods but I do respect her gumption. I don’t want to sit out another round of the ‘Virginny Reel’, do you?

If you're a writer, are your characters compelling? Is there any way you can make them unforgettable? Flawed and fascinating? Are you still excited about meeting them on the page each day?

Tell me, what's your opinion of Ms. O'Hara? Did you establish that opinion based on the book, the movie or just general perception? Here's a little reminder:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mM8iNarcRc

Don't Give Up!
1 Peter 5:10
 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast

Gather up your hoops and run like Scarlett down that red clay driveway to leave a comment with your e-mail address SAFELY included. This Yankee will put your name in my carpetbag for today's giveaways--Barbour Publishing's 199 Promises of God and an all expense paid trip to Tara and all the Wilkes Barbeque you can eat. Okay. Kidding on the trip part.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's All in the Answer


"The kingdom of heaven is like..." Matthew 13


One of the privileges of parenting teenagers is the endless hours I spend in the car driving to and from sporting events. On a recent road trip back from Volleyball Provincials (similar to state finals) I had three fifteen year-old boys in the back seat who were not only defeated, but victims of a cruel hoax--no one had brought a video game or a selection of DVDs to distract them from the long journey.

Rather than complain, I was impressed when they turned to car games. First came the road sign game, quickly followed by a few rounds of animal twenty questions. When they'd exhausted that game they turned to riddles. My son stumped us with the following:

A man pushes his car up to a hotel and a short time later declares bankruptcy. What happened?

We were encouraged to ask "yes" or "no" questions.

Did his car run out of gas? "No." Was he married? "Irrelevant." Did he own the hotel? "Yes." Did it burn to the ground? "No." And on it went. We asked dozens of questions and still were no closer to the answer.

What happened?

We finally cried uncle and the simple answer was revealed. Figured it out yet?

The man was playing Monopoly.





Ohhh. We all groan.

And for the rest of the car ride sans movie to listen to or video game chatter, I pondered the riddle.

The answer is so simple when we have all the information. Something that is seemingly impossible to puzzle through makes perfect sense in light of the answer.

And isn't the kingdom of heaven like that? The problem makes no sense without the answer.

In our limited knowledge and understanding of God and his kingdom, we spend our lives asking all sorts of questions that have little or nothing to do with the problem, because fundamentally in our fallen and flawed state, we have so little comprehension of the real matter.

Jesus understood that about us. Matthew 13 gathers together Jesus' seven kingdom parables. His parables describe the kingdom in the language of the day and in metaphors his audience would understand. He opens each one saying, "The kingdom of heaven is like..." and goes on to describe an attribute of the kingdom of heaven to people who have absolutely no comprehension of who he is and why these stories matter. He is presenting riddles that have no answer--yet.

How does the kingdom of heaven make sense without Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection? How does the riddle of God and his relationship to humanity make sense without Jesus' life and death and ascension? It doesn't. Which is why people, even Christians, who strive towards understanding God and their world around them separate from the blood of Christ ask questions that have little or no bearing on the riddle itself.

Open your Bible to Matthew 13 and read the seven kingdom parables. Then read them again. And again.

In doing so, stop asking the questions, and meditate on the answer.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Coming Next Week: Inky Life Lessons






We Inkies have so much to be
thankful for...
and our readers top the list!
 In your honor, a little
post-Thanksgiving
haiku:
 
What good is a blog
If no one reads the stories?
You make it complete.
 
 

Join us next week
for more fun, prizes, and posts


Sunday
Putting an Ink on Scripture
Wenda

Monday - Friday
Life Lessons:
What fictional characters have taught us
Monday - Debra - Scarlett O'Hara
Tuesday - Susanne - Spiderman
Wednesday - Special guest Laurie Alice Eakes
Thursday - Dina
Friday - Anita Mae

Saturday
An Inkalicious Review
Jennifer
 
The latest individual prize winners are

Deborah M.
for commenting on Patti's November 7th post
Prize: Scared by Tom Davis
 
Narelle
for commenting on Suzie's November 21st post
Prize: Be Still... and Let Your Nail Polish Dry
by Andrea Boeshaar, Sandra Bricker,
Loree Lough & Debby Mayne
 

Hope to see you all around the Inkwell!

Legacy of the King's Pirates Series



Legacy of the King’s Pirates
by M.L. Tyndall


I first saw the cover for MaryLu Tyndall’s pirate book The Redemption in 2006. My initial thought was disbelief. It intrigued me but really, a swashbuckler book with a pirate hero isn’t your average Christian literature.

Months later, I saw another Pirate book by MaryLu with a slightly different cover, followed by a 3rd book in 2007. By this time, the name MaryLu Tyndall was quite common to me but I didn’t know anything about her or her writing.

In the fall of 2008, I stopped off in a Christian bookstore in Winnipeg, Manitoba on my way back from the American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) conference in Minneapolis, MN and there on a sale table lay MaryLu’s 3 book series, Legacy of the King’s Pirates. I’ve always been a sucker for tall ships and these book covers caught my eye with their aura of danger and excitement. And at the price offered, I grabbed them. Once home, I put the books on my To Be Read (TBR) pile which is around 400 strong and got down to the business of writing. The pirates languished and I forgot about them.

By this time I’d read a few hundred inspirational books and although there were some I raved about in my book reviews, for the most part I thought them to be okay. Yes, they told good stories of faith and perseverance but they tended to ignore the physical side of their relationships. Now I’m not saying I want to read explicit material—I’m just saying I want to know the two main characters feel a real passion for each other before they take that huge matrimonial step.

Then one day I was watching the ACFW loop go by and a member mentioned this same thing. I was so pleased when another member posted a list of inspirational authors who wrote more ‘realistic’ or ‘edgy’ books. One of the authors on that list was MaryLu Tyndall. Really? I swooped down on my TBR pile and pulled out her Legacy of the King’s Pirates series and left them on my end table to read next.

And I’ll tell you, they are more than I ever imagined a Christian romance could be. I didn’t put them down until forced to by the dictates of family life. They fulfilled my quest for adventure, increased my heart rate, made me cry, and proved that Christian fiction came be just as entertaining as anything else on the market today. In fact, I flipped the pages to re-check the publisher’s insignia on the spine so many times and yet still I couldn’t believe it. Here’s a quick rundown on the books in the Legacy of the King’s Pirate series:

Book 1 – The Redemption – Lady Charlisse Bristol is on a personal mission to find the father who abandoned her as a child. She finds herself dependent on Edmund Merrick, a pirate leader. Running on an unlimited supply of faith, Charlisse struggles with her attraction to Edmund. The pirate leader is torn between his baser instincts and his respect for the beautiful Charlisse who seems to call upon God to do her bidding at will. But who will be the man beside her when she realizes her father is the most terrible pirate of the time.

Book 2 – The Reliance – I was very skeptical of this book because it contains the same main characters as Book 1. I mean I read their story of finding love and faith—what more could there be in a romance? But at that point, I hadn’t realized what a master storyteller MaryLu is. In this book, she didn’t just bring back Charlisse and Edmund, she also brought back the villain who’s extra angry at being bested in Book 1. So, he creates an incident where he’s able to steal a pregnant Charlisse away but leave Edmund thinking she and their unborn child is dead. So here you have a pirate with a shaky newfound faith drowing in misery. What does he do? What do you think he does? He certainly didn’t do what I thought would be printed in a Christian book, that’s for sure. Yet it could have happened so easily in real life.

Book 3 – The Restitution – Now this book was a stunner! Again, the characters are familiar because the hero is none other than the villain in the first 2 books and the heroine is the woman he ravishes in Book 2. This book starts with Lady Isabel Ashton and her 7 month old son who is the result of that fateful day on board Captain Kent Carlton’s pirate ship. As an unwed mother, Isabel’s life is a daily struggle of humiliation but she won’t give up her son for anything. When he’s kidnapped, she does the unthinkable and enlists the help of the baby’s father and his ship to search the Caribbean for him. Can Kent put aside his own agenda of becoming the new pirate king to become the man Isabel and their baby needs?


This series teems with the awesome power of God who stands beside those who serve Him. It resounds with the words from that gut wrenching hymn Amazing Grace in that the heroes are sinners on a path of destruction until faced with the infinite mercy of a Father who forgives everything and wipes the slate clean. MaryLu’s character arcs show the progression of villain to man of faith and made me wonder why I ever doubted a pirate could be saved.

Although this series is a couple years old, it’s still available online at http://www.amazon.com/ and possibly even bookstores, new or used. MaryLu is still writing strong exciting inspirational historicals of the same location and era. In fact, she was a guest here at the Inkwell in October and I believe she’ll be back in a month or two. For more information on MaryLu and her books check out her website.

So? What do you think? Do you have a favorite swashbuckler book or movie? Do you like edgy inspirationals or do you prefer the more sedate variety? Or even, what do you think about a romance that contains further adventures of the same characters?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friends: The Wind Beneath My Wings


Hi, Connie here. Please, come walk with me, come talk with me. . .


When poetry day and my name collided, the screeching and wailing could be heard throughout Inktropolis and beyond. A poet I’m not, and I know it.


But before the sounds faded into the distant hills and died, my fellow Inkies and other friends lifted me above the muddle of my fear and bathed me with encouragement. Even the Lord seemed to be on their side, urging me to spread my wings and soar to new heights.


Friends began the Christmas season of giving early, lending me poems and haikus to share with you. Stewart, from Alaska, sent an entire poem in French – Paul Verlaine’s L’automne. The first verse goes:

Les sanglots longs
Des violins
De l’automne
Blessent mon Coeur
D’une langeur
Montotone.


Doesn’t that sound beautiful? It does, if you don’t speak French. My romantic mood fled when I looked up the English translation:


The sobbing calls
From the fall’s
Fiddles’ moan
Through my breast
Languidest
Monodrone.


Stewart characterized it as “mostly long, sad vowels of a suffering soul; the drawn out sobs of the violins of autumn wound his heart with a monotonous lassitude.”


While poetry like this certainly has its place, this was not the uplifting message I wanted to impart today. But I included it because Stewart, in his beautiful spiritual wisdom, also passed on an inspirational message, one we should all hold close to our hearts for those moments we feel so undeserving:


In thinking of the reality of Verlaine’s sadness, Stewart wrote, “He knew that his disgusting life with his Decadents had earned his way to hell, and he knew it was too late to earn his way to heaven. Did he know about Jesus’ words in Mark 10:27? ‘For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.’ Would Verlaine know that when he received the last rites he had only to accept God’s grace? Would his life of deep sin prevent him from accepting it? Would the church in 1896 emphasize his decadence and blasphemy? Would the priest withhold a death-bed blessing?”



Thank you, Stewart, for reminding us that with God, all things are possible, including forgiveness. We are ever only as far from our Father as we travel ourselves.


The haikus I received from my fellow Inkies were far less maudlin. In fact, they caught the spirit of the thanksgiving holiday better than I could have myself.


First, from Dina:


Cranberries of red
Yellow squash and beans of green
Colors sing their praise


And a second from Dina:


Corn and turkey grace
The table full of wonders
A portrait of thanks


And then from Deb:


Cold and crispy day
Eat too much and play some games
Gather loved ones near


And a second one from Deb:


Fragrant kitchen warmth
Filling with family noise
Blessed holiday


Portraits of my yesterday.


Are those not beautiful in and probably because of their simplicity? Did they sing of the colors of your table yesterday? Of your home and the autumn weather outside? Did they bring back memories of family and friends and call to mind just a fraction of the blessings we have to give thanks for? I hope so.


Thank you, my friends, for your unselfishness. I sing your praises each day.


I was blessed to be offered these beautiful poems to share with you, but God wasn’t about to let me (or perhaps that should be 'let YOU') off the hook so easily. So, below is my first and probably my last poem. It wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be to write. I pray it’s not too painful to read.


An Ode to Black Friday
By Connie Marquise


Now, poetry’s just not my style
I read it just once in a while
For, as you can see,
At it, I’m lousy.
No, poetry’s just not my style.


Neither is shopping my style
Please, save me from that over-crowded aisle
All the pushin’ and shovin’
Maulin’ and muggin’
In my face, a fist shakin’
“Let go, or you’re bacon!”
No, shopping’s just not my style.


Now, football. Ah, THAT’S my style
Those taut, honed bodies all in one pile
The cheers and the moans,
The tears and the groans,
Hut one and hut two,
Will he make it through?
Oh, yeah, football. THAT’S my style.

So, while you, beat to the bone,
Drag your half-priced treasures home,
On the couch, there I’ll be, turkey sandwich in hand
Watching my team make their goal-line stand
No. No Black Friday for me
Just football and turkey
Oh, yeah, that’s my style.


Okay, so I’ve probably revealed a little more about myself than I should have. Maybe that’s what composing poems does to you. Regardless, I wish you all a blessed weekend.


Thinking of shopping and advertising, I wonder how many of you can complete these sayings and/or tell me what they’re advertising. Answers below. No cheatin', now.


1. Rice-a-Roni, the _____ _________ treat.
2. Sometimes you feel like a ____, sometimes you don’t.
3 . Drivers Wanted.
4. Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, __________________________
5. Don’t leave home without it.
6. The Few, The Proud, The __________________
7. You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with __________
8. Just do it
9. Tastes as good as it smells
10. Our repairmen are the loneliest guys in town.
11. Melts in your mouth, not in your hand
12. Diamonds are forever

Answers:
1. San Francisco
2. Nut – Planters Peanuts
3. Volkswagen
4. Oh, what a relief it is – Alka Seltzer
5. American Express
6. Marines
7. Pepsodent
8. Nike
9. Maxwell House Coffee
10. Maytag
11. M & Ms
12. De Beer Consolidated Diamond Mines


Thanks for checking in with us today. I’d love to hear about your favorite poems and lyrics. What was your all time favorite ad? Mine has to be the Budweiser Clydesdales kicking the extra point in the snowy field as those two hunky cowboys observe and one says, "Nah, they usually go for two."


But then, Football, now that’s my style!

I think I've soared high enough for one day. After all, I am afraid of heigh. . . Oops, half-time's over. Gotta run!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!


Happy Thanksgiving to all. As a group we Inkies have a lot to be thankful for. God has been beyond gracious in bringing us together, and we believe that we have been rounded up for a purpose.

So today we are thankful for one another. And we are thankful for all of you who have made the Inkwell an exciting place to be.

Two questions to you:

1. How can we serve you better? Are there any topics you'd love us to cover?
2. What are you most thankful for today?

Hmm, maybe one more question. I love the Macy's parade in New York. Watching it is one of those traditions that make it Thanksgiving rather than just any day.

Will you be watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Well aren't you a regular Nancy Drew?


Hours. I spent hours curled up with Nancy Drew mysteries as a young girl. She was everything I wanted to be. Smart, brave, loyal and let’s not forget pretty and popular. Yep, Nancy has left her mark on generations of young women.

She was the brainchild of Edward Stratemeyer, owner and founder of the Stratemeyer Syndicate. He was a genius at coming up with premises for children’s books. Some of his most popular were The Hardy Boys, The Bobbsey Twins, The Dana Girls, The Rover Boys, Tom Swift and of course, Nancy Drew. He came up with the overarching premise of each series, and then developed detailed outlines for individual stories. These he sent to contract authors for the actual writing. Multiple authors often worked on a single series, but Stratemeyer created pen names for each series before they were published. That’s right. There never was a Carolyn Keene sitting somewhere and dreaming up thrilling plot devices and shady characters for Nancy to puzzle out.
That was Edward, and later, his daughter Harriet's job. They developed detailed outlines for each of the stories in their many series. The outlines were then sent to a ghostwriters to flesh out and write the actual story. A young journalism major from out the midwest, named Mildred Benson was contracted to write the first three stories for the syndicate.
The first Nancy Drew was published in 1930 at what would seem like the worst possible moment. The Great Depression had just begun and would hold America in its terrible grip for years. On top of that, her creator, Edward Stratemeyer died weeks before her first release. Many heroines would have swirled down into the slough of despond when faced with such challenges, but nothing could hold back plucky Nancy Drew and her sporty blue roadster. Despite the money crunch and the loss of her mastermind, Nancy’s spunk and heroism prevailed. She was an instant hit with the younger set.
Over the years her popularity has exploded. Beyond the 56 original stories there have been spin-off series, board games, a cookbook, collaborations with The Hardy Boys, a television show, and even movies and computer games.
She has touched lives around the world. From bright-eyed little girls in suburbia, to European refugees fleeing from the Nazis, to young Muslim women hunched over bootleg copies of her stories, she has taught girls by example that they too can be courageous and intelligent and stand up for right.
She’s expanded our vision of what we can be and what we can do. Her adventures presented new possibilities. She’s taken on a life of her own, beyond ink on a page, beyond mere words.

Thank you Nancy. We want to seek truth as diligently as you do. We want to see justice prevail, and we want to step out when we can do something about a problem, rather than leaving it up to someone else. Just as she overcame difficult initial circumstances to become a reigning queen in children’s and YA literature, we too can forge ahead and pursue our dreams even through challenged by tightening belts on every side. Difficult does not mean impossible.
So what about you? Do you have a dream you are fighting for?
Do you have a favorite Nancy Drew mystery?
Are your more like Nancy, Bess or George?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dame Christie





Influential Woman—It’s a Mystery to Me

I was an ugly duckling girl who yearly packed boxes and endured the ritual of another first-day-at-school. I found solace in best friends who trained horses, hijacked trains … solved crimes. Though I certainly didn’t take it in at age thirteen, these friends taught me right from wrong. These friends intertwined love and hate like two-strand embroidery thread. One particular friend dashed about London society circles, digesting story snippets as well as gallons of tea and crumpets. Undaunted by a messy divorce, this friend rebounded with a marriage that granted passage to Middle Eastern archeological digs.



Dear friends, meet Dame Agatha Christie (1890-1976), writer of eighty detective novels, short stories and plays. Only the Bible is believed to have sold more than the four billion volumes of Christie works rung up at international registers. Christie garnered the first Grand Master Award of the American Mystery Writers Association in 1955 and in 1971 achieved Britain’s highest honor, Dame of the British Empire.


Pretty amazing stuff for a Dame. But I knew nothing about Agatha’s accolades, only her characters. Hercule Poirot taught me how to hold a teacup, how to greet guests, had me swooning over snippets of the lovely French language (though he indignantly informed me that he was Belgian.) You see, mon ami, besides solving crimes, Hercule dispensed advice, oozed charm. Gave me a calling card into upper-crust society. Obviously others adored the man, who to date is the only fictional character honored with an obituary in the New York Times!



When I tired of the little man’s egg-shaped head, overwhelming pomade, and endless cocked glances, a dash to the bookshelf brought out Miss Marple, who hid a sharp eye and sharper mind behind piles of knitting and her sweets stash. Christie created an old lady who didn’t just sit by the fire and dream of yesteryear. Christie created characters to live by. Plots to live with. Books for a reader.



Dame Christie also penned books for a writer. Decades before God led me to capture stories on paper, Christie primed the inkwell with tantalizing plots (Murder on the Orient Express), great characters (Lady Edgware, Captain Hastings), KILLER dialogue. Lovers of mysteries still analyze, categorize, theorize on Agatha’s techniques. Did I mention the dialogue?


“So that is Lady Edgware? Yes, I remember—I have seen her act. She is belle femme.”
“And a fine actress too.”
“Possibly.”
“You don’t seem convinced.”
“I think it would depend on the setting, my friend. If she is the centre of the play, if all revolves round her—yes, then she could play her part…” Poirot paused and then added, rather unexpectedly, “Such people go through life in great danger.”
“Danger?” I said, surprised.
“I have used a word that surprises you, I see, mon ami. Yes, danger. A woman like that sees only one thing—herself. Such women see nothing of the dangers that surround them—the million conflicting interests and relationships of life. No, they see only their own forward path. And —sooner or later—disaster.” (excerpted from Lord Edgware Dies.)


As writer and postmenopausal wife, mother, teacher, friend, Agatha Christie’s work evokes emotion, lends instruction, and establishes The Moral Premise so key, as Williams declares, to successful literature.

Over forty years after Monsieur Poirot and Miss Marple and I made acquaintance, these old friends call, especially when my world has tilted askew and I need a comfortable, safe old reread from the chapters of ones who know just what to say, just what to do. If you haven’t met my English friends, I urge you to seek them out. Their appointment books are more open than you would suspect!


What’s your favorite Christie mystery? Oh, how I love them all. Still, my hands-down favorite is Curtain. Au revoir, Poirot. Au revoir, dear friends. “They were good days. Yes, they have been good days…”

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Curtain, just leave a comment on this blog. Please leave an email address so we can contact you if you're the winner (include spaces or brackets around the "@" sign so Net spiders, etc, can't phish your address). Post by December 15th, please. We'll pick a winner at random and be in contact shortly after that!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Last Monarch of Hawaii


Aloha. Connie, here. There are orchids for our hair and coconut milk and pineapple juice for refreshment. Come, stroll across the warm sand and hang loose with me for a moment . . .

I live in Pair-a-dice. Queen Lili`uokalani lived in Paradise.

At least, my personal concept of paradise.

Hawaii is a place I’d travel to time and time again. There aren’t many places I can say that about. It’s like an old favorite movie or book, one I’d watch or read over and over. Which is extremely rare. I very seldom watch a rerun and most books I read and pass on. The Bible, Mrs. Mike, and Redeeming Love are exceptions.

Most destinations I visit and check off my Bucket List.

But, ah, Hawaii. I’ll never tire of visiting the lush islands and its people. So different from my desert home, yet I see God's hand in each.

Queen Lili`uokalani is a woman I’ve admired for years, since my first visit to her islands as a young teen when I heard her story and saw the statue of her on the grounds of the State Capital in Honolulu.

But before I introduce you to my fascinating Inky persona, let me set the stage.

Before 1778, the Hawaiian Islands were unknown to the west. The native people accepted nudity and lived very simple, happy lives. It’s estimated there was a total of 800,000 native-born Hawaiians in 1778. By 1828, just fifty years later, 80% of the native population had perished, largely as a result of the ‘diseases of foreign contact’. 80%! Unbelievable.

The first Congregationalist missionaries landed on the islands between 1818 and 1820. By 1838, the year Queen Lili`uokalani was born, nudity was prohibited and the native religious dance, the Hula, was outlawed. She never knew her heritage. The missionaries devised the first alphabet for the Hawaiian language and taught the natives how to read and write. Convinced that the future of the islands lay with lands outside their islands, the chiefs of the seven principal royal families turned their princely children over to a missionary couple to educate.

This was Lili`u’s fate. Born in Honolulu on September 2, 1838 to high-ranking chief Kapaakea and the chiefess Keohokalole, she became the hanai, the adopted child, of chiefs Laura Konia and Abner Paki and was given the name Lydia Lili`u Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamaka`eha-a Kapa`akea.

Her name was longer than her reign.

Her adoptive parents enrolled her in the Royal School where she became fluent in English and was influenced by the Congregational missionaries, who were using their influence to usurp political control and westernize the traditional society of Hawaii. She grew up and matured in a changing society, one that slowly and silently took away the rights and lands of the native people. Laws not fully understood by the reining monarchy were passed that not only confiscated their land, but made it illegal for the native people to own the land.

At age 24, she married a ha`ole, John Owen Dominis, who eventually served the monarchy as Governor of O`ahu and Maui. According to her private papers and diaries, her marriage was not fulfilling. They had no children of their own, though they raised three hanai children.

In 1874, Lili`u’s brother David Kalakaua, an intensely nationalistic prince known as The Merry Monarch, became king. He was successful in returning the Hula dance to the Hawaiians and was intent on limiting the powers of the missionaries. He negotiated the treaty that opened the US market to Hawaiian sugar.

In 1881, while the king was on a world tour, Crown Princess Lili`u closed the port of Honolulu to a ship loaded with 4,000 Chinese infected with the deadly smallpox. This infuriated the “Missionary Boys,” the white plantation owners who needed cheap labor to work in their fields. They characterized her lifesaving measure as a ‘tyrannical act’ because it interfered with their financial interests. The grumblings and struggle for power that had been slowly simmering underground began to pick up steam.

Lili`u headed a delegation that attended the Golden Jubilee of their valued ally, England’s Queen Victoria in 1887. But tidings of trouble at home brought the royal party back early. At gunpoint, King Kalakaua had signed what came to be known as the Bayonet Constitution. With this, the monarchy lost all authority and the Hawaiian people lost the right to vote in their own native land! This weighed heavy on Kalakaua’s heart and eventually killed him.

On January 29, 1891, the day the queen ascended the throne, hope once again filled the disenfranchised and disposed Hawaiian people. On that day, there were only 40,000 native Hawaiians left on the islands. She was determined to strengthen the political power of the monarchy and to limit suffrage to subjects of the kingdom.

Believing she had the support of her cabinet, Queen Lili`u drafted a new constitution restoring veto power to the monarchy and voting right to Native Hawaiians and Asians. But already an overthrow was in the process. American and European businessmen asserted the queen had “virtually abdicated” by refusing to support the 1887 constitution. Annexation to the United States was actively sought.

On January 17, 1893, aided by the American minister in Hawaii who ordered troops from the U.S.S. Boston ashore, the queen, to avoid bloodshed, yielded her authority:

“…Now to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do this under protest and impelled by said force yield my authority until such time as the Government of the United States shall, upon facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representatives and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the Constitutional Sovereign of the Hawaiian Islands.” [Queen Lili`uokalani to Sanford B. Dole, January 17, 1893.]

Does that name Dole sound familiar?

A year and a half later, on July 4, 1894, the Republic of Hawaii was proclaimed and Dole became it’s first president and later the territorial governor.

In 1895, an abortive attempt by Hawaiian royalists to restore the queen to power resulted in her arrest. On January 16th, she was forced to sign a document of abdication relinquishing all future claims to the throne. Following this, she endured a humiliating public trial before a military tribunal in her formal throne room.

Though she denied knowledge of the royalist plot, she was sentenced to five years of hard labor and fined $5000. The sentence was commuted to imprisonment in an upstairs bedroom of Iolani Palace, during which time she was denied any visitors other than one lady-in-waiting.

After eight months, she abdicated her throne in return for the release of her jailed supporters and lived out her days as a private citizen with an annual pension of $4000 until her death in 1917. Upon her death, Lili`uokalani dictated that all her possessions and properties be sold to raise money for the Queen Lili`uokalani Children’s Trust to help orphaned and indigent children. The Trust Fund is still in existence today.

I admire Lili`u’s passion for her people and the Hawaiian tradition. It’s heartbreaking that while the Hawaiian people were open to change and betterment, those who came in under the guise of missionaries and friends took such advantage of them. She held her head high and thought only of the safety of her people as she made the tough decisions. A mom to her nation.

In 1897, Lili`uokalani wrote Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen, in which she gives her account of Hawaiian history, including the overthrow of the monarchy.

She was also a talented musician and an accomplished composer. She wrote over 160 poetic melodies and chants, including Ike Aloha O Ka Haku, the Queen’s Prayer, written during her imprisonment, and He Mele Lahui Hawaii, one of the four Hawaiian National Anthems, commissioned by King Kamehameha V in 1868. Through her music and lyrics, she expressed her love for Hawaii and it’s people.

Aloha Oe, her best known composition, (of Elvis and Blue Hawaii fame) was written in 1878 after she witnessed a particularly affectionate farewell between a colonel in her party and a lovely young girl from Maunawili. The opening lines translate literally to: The proud rain clinging to the cliffs and passing into the forest, seeking the bud of the lehua flower. The literal translations are important because of the Hawaiian tradition of kaona, or hidden meanings to words and phrases, which Lili`u placed in her songs.

The kaona recounts the origin of the Hawaiian people, of Wakea, the sky father, seeking Papa, the earth mother. It’s from Kumulipo, the story of the origin of their cosmos, all in the first line of Aloha Oe. It’s a stunning example of how the queen incorporated pre-Western traditions of thought and expression in what at the time was modern Hawaiian music. For more information about this recording, visit the Wanui Records web site.

A few facts:
The color of her reign was yellow.
Her motto was “E onipa`a…I ka `imi na`auao” (Be steadfast in the seeking of knowledge)
The royal standard of the Kalakaua family was the Burning Torch
She was the translator of the Hawaiian Creation Chant, Kumulipo.

In 1993, 100 years after the overthrow, President Clinton signed a Congressional resolution (Public Law 103-150) in which the United Stated Government formally apologized to the Native Hawaiian people.

And so, with the Christmas season right around the corner, let me close by saying, Mele Kalikimaka, which is Hawaii’s way to say Merry Christmas to you.

Do you have a special paradise, some place you'd revisit time and again? I'd love to hear about it, to see if it's on my Bucket List or already crossed off.

Have a blessed day.


My thanks and acknowledgement to:
www.iolanipalace.org/history/queen.html
www.workersforjesus.com/hawaiian/htm
www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Queen_Liliuokalani
http://en.wikipedia/org.wiki/liliuokalani
www.uic.edu/depts/owa/history/liliuokalani.html

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Finding Your Balance on the Narrow Road


by Dina Sleiman

Matthew 7:13-14
13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

I love Jesus’s parables. They can mean different things to different people. Or multiple things at the same time. God is gracious that way. One day I was thinking about the parable of the narrow road. It had never been a favorite of mine. I pictured it kind of covered with trees and scrunchy, and I have these issues with feeling trapped.

Then, being the gracious sort of fellow that he is, God gave me a new picture. The narrow road could be thought of as thin straight line down the center of a broad expanse. Sort of like a tight rope or a balance beam. Now I haven’t been a circus performer, but I have been a gymnast. When you walk on a balance beam you have to feel with your toes and look straight ahead. You have to keep yourself centered by holding your abdomen tight.

In this picture of the narrow road, I saw Jesus straight ahead, and I locked my eyes to His. Those ever-accepting, ever-radiating eyes. How easy it would have been to wander off that road. To change my trajectory ever so slightly, a few degrees towards freedom or order, towards judgment or grace, towards justice or mercy. A few degrees now could leave me miles off course somewhere down the path.

No, I had to keep my eyes glued to him. I needed to stay centered. To keep my balance from deep within. I couldn’t afford to hold on to any weighty encumbering burdens that might tip my scales. I tossed them into his arms, and I was free. I wasn’t crouched low on some scrunchy path. I stood tall, flung my arms wide. I breathed deep. All the air of the world was mine.

And I danced through the center of a vast paradox.

So many aspects of scripture and God’s character can seem contradictory to our limited human minds, and yet these paradoxes coexist in perfect harmony within our wondrous and mysterious God. Sadly, entire religions, denominations, and schisms are formed fighting over such coexisting truths.

In light of this month's focus, perhaps we should consider how to find balance in our role as women. Applying this principle to a women’s place in the family and the home, we must balance the truth that the husband is the head of the home with coexisting truths such as submitting one to another, coming into agreement and unity, and husbands preferring their wives in love. While nurturing our children and releasing them into their gifts, we must remember that God desires to minister to their mothers and release us into our gifts as well.

When considering a woman’s place in the church and the workplace we must balance certain Biblical traditions with amazing women of God like Deborah, Lydia, and Priscilla who surpassed those traditions. Also, we must keep in mind scriptures like, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

We as believers must stop fighting about such amazing coexisting truths and learn to accept them with the wonder they deserve. We must lock our eyes to Christ and refuse to lose our balance while moving directly towards Him.

Be blessed this week as you dance through the center of a vast paradox.

Question of the day: what is your favorite parable and why?

Leave a comment and your email in the next five days to be entered into a drawing for one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors. Story: Recapture the Mystery by Steven James retells the drama of the Biblical story in new and unexpected ways, much like today's post. Be sure to leave your email with spaces or brackets for your own protection.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

What's Up This Week






Last week was awesome!
We had two special guests
and read about more extraordinary women.

Join us next week
for more fun, prizes, and posts


Sunday
Putting an Ink on Scripture
Dina

Monday - Friday
Wrapping up our
Female Inkspots through History
Monday - Connie - Queen Lili'uokalani, the last monarch of Hawaii
Tuesday - Patti - Dame Agatha Christie
Wednesday - Lisa - Nancy Drew
Thursday - Gwen - Happy Thanksgiving!
Friday - Friends: The Wind Beneath my Wings - by Connie

Saturday
An Inkalicious Book Review
Anita Mae
 
The latest individual prize winners are

Karen K.
for commenting on Jen's review
Prize: Leaving Yesterday by Kathryn Cushman
 
Edwina C.
for commenting on Shawn Grady's post
Prize: Through the Fire by Shawn Grady



Hope to see you all around the Inkwell!

Be Still…and Let Your Nail Polish Dry

~~Suzie's note: this post is longer than usual because we have not just one, but four special guests~~

Writing can be a lonely business, but when four Christian writers came together to write a book of devotions, they became much more than on-line friends.

Though they hadn’t each met, these ladies were well acquainted before they set out to write this book. Andrea Boeshaar was once a literary agent who represented Sandra D. Bricker and Loree Lough. Andrea and Debby Mayne co-authored a Christmas novella. Sandy and Debby were writer buddies. But friendship doesn’t necessarily lead to writing a book together. At least not for most writers.

Ladies, welcome. I'm so glad you're here today. Tell us how the idea for this book came about?

ANDREA: I was at the nail salon getting a manicure, and had to wait a pesky 6 minutes for my fingernails to dry. I felt so impatient. SIX WHOLE MINUTES I had to wait! Then I recalled the Bible passage in which God tells us, "Be still and know that I am God." And I thought, I need to be still...and let my nail polish dry. So I guess you might say it was a God-thing!

SANDIE: When Andrea called and told me the idea she’d had, I didn’t realize she was thinking about inviting me to join her. I just bubbled up and said, “You’ve got to write that! What a killer idea!”

DEBBY: One morning I woke up, put on a pot of coffee, checked my e-mail, saw Andrea's message about her fabulous devotional idea. By the time the coffee finished brewing, I'd agreed to join Andrea and Sandie in the proposal. Her enthusiasm for the project was infectious. I didn't expect anything to come of it because it sounded like too much fun. The fun factor was what kicked me into gear to work on the proposal. I wanted to do this, even if it didn't sell.

LOREE: I’ve contributed to a couple dozen devotionals, and found myself uplifted by the spiritual themes. This one, however, is wonderfully unique because it’s written especially for busy Christian women who are struggling to juggle faith, family and work in a world that sorely needs more God in it, not less!

So, Andrea, what made you decide to make this a multi-author project?

ANDREA: I contacted Sandie with the idea because I love her comedic, sassy writing voice, and I knew if Sandie liked the idea it was probably a good one. She did, and we asked Debby to join us, and then Sandie recruited Loree. We've all worked together in one capacity or another, and we thought teaming up for this project would make it just perfect!

I know co-authoring a book can sometimes be difficult. What was it like for four people writing together?

ANDREA: Actually, I was a bit miffed at first because the other 3 women stormed ahead and handed in their devotions while I was still in the middle of writing mine. I had hoped we would work more closely together on each one. But after I had handed in my 23 devotions, the copy editor said she couldn't believe how well they fit together! Another God-thing.

SANDIE: It was a little intimidating for me at first, but I’m a pretty organized person. HEY! No comments from the peanut gallery! So I made up an Excel spreadsheet and listed the verses I was planning to use. Then I passed it around to the other ladies, and we worked together to make sure everyone had their choices without overlaps. That was really the hardest part, as it turned out.

DEBBY: After we chose our verses, we did our thing – each of us with a different process. My daughter and her husband needed me to come help them since they were about to have their first child. Due to complications after the birth, all three of them went back to the hospital, while I had the pleasure of staying in their house with their lonely dog and cat. With Cody the yellow lab at my feet and Haley the cat in the windowsill watching the first snow of the year, I sat at the kitchen table and wrote about half of my devotions over the next week and a half.

LOREE: With every keystroke, I felt intense pressure to create something extra-special, something not only uplifting, but enjoyable. Partly, because we promised our readers short, prayerful essays that would improve their walk with the Lord. And partly, because we’re donating part of the proceeds to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF). We hope sales will help them stop that silent killer before it takes the life of even one more mother, sister, daughter, or friend!

I understand that since writing this book, the four of you were finally able to meet face-to-face. I can only imagine what a joy that must have been.

SANDIE: After all these years, we met for the first time at the ACFW conference in Denver this September. I was such a dork, and I cried like a girl.

ANDREA: It was like being reunited with your best high school friends ever! We laughed. We talked. We shared our hearts on different subjects.

LOREE: Hearing their voices on the phone has been wonderful. Reading their articles and novels, well that’s been terrific, too. E-mailing back and forth? I’ve loved it! But nothing can compare to being in the same place at the same time, where we could look into one another’s eyes.

DEBBY: There wasn't a moment of silence as we instantly fell into a comfortable camaraderie, like high school kids who hung out every day. Based on the looks we got from others, I'm sure we were quite a spectacle, but that's okay. We had a blast.

There’s a wide variety of devotionals in the book, and I’ve picked favorites from each one of you. They range from the simple pleasure of eating chocolate, to the ability to trust God in the face of cancer. Do you have a favorite devotional from the book?

ANDREA: I do. My devotional called Awesome God was really special to write. It's written in first person, present tense, and it tells the story of how God rode alongside me in my van during a horrible snowstorm. I was on my way home from work and I really panicked when I realized that I might not make it home safely.

DEBBY: By nature, I'm a worrier, so of all my devotions, I like Chicken Little because it reminds me to trust God to be in control of my life. I'm working hard at not thinking the sky is falling and accepting that what seems to be a disaster just might be an acorn plunking me on the head to get my attention.

SANDIE: I think my favorite is The Character of True Love. It was the first time I’d ever written about my cancer experience. I wrote about how my very best friend at that time just couldn’t handle the idea of going through cancer with me, and she walked right out of my life. It was so devastating, but at the same time the Lord brought Loree Lough deeper into my life to counsel me, encourage me, let me cry and vent. We really grew closer during that period, didn’t we, Loree?


LOREE: We certainly did! I came terrifyingly close to losing one of my dearest and most beloved friends when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The Almighty performed a glorious miracle and saved Sandie, and we should probably say that it’s in her honor that I and my co-authors are happy to contribute a generous portion of our personal proceeds to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.

Friendship is a great thing, isn’t it? I know the four of you were close before, especially after you went through cancer, Sandie. Did working on this book together draw you closer to one another?

SANDIE: The friendships I have in my life are everything to me. I don't really have much family left, and none in the immediate vicinity, so the Lord has done what His word says He will do: He has "set the solitary into families." He's created a family for me, so I think I'm far more grateful because of that. These three women are each so special and unique, and each of them plays such an important part in my life. But yes, doing this book together solidified our relationships in a really profound way. There was always a sort of spiritual "touch" on the book, and I think bringing us together the way it did was a big part of that.

What did you learn about yourself, God, or each other while writing this book?

ANDREA: I learned that Sandie, Loree, and Debby are true friends of mine. We work exceptionally well together and because we genuinely love the Lord and want to please Him, we can all be very pleased with our Be Still... devotional because He's in it!

SANDIE: For me, it was a double blessing. … Hey, isn’t that the name of one of Debby’s books? … Anyway, it was a great writing experience, but it also allowed me to thrive in this community of women. I mean my co-authors, of course, but also the many women who have come to the Be Still... blog and told about their own cancer stories, or encouraged and thanked me for telling my own.

DEBBY: I learned a lot. First, I learned that I can write devotions. Second, I got to know my co-authors really well and discovered some things about them that will make us friends for life. I dug deep to come up with ideas other women can relate to, and when I looked in the Bible for relatable verses, I realized He has given us answers to everything we ever need to know.

LOREE: I learned that our Father loves us deeply and completely, and that He wants to be intimately involved in our lives, from the daily minutia like errand-running to life-altering things like cancer…and that He roundly approves of fellowship—the official in church kind and the type that made this warm and spirit-filled devotional possible.

From the cover art to the pages inside, this book is beautifully written. Summerside Press did a fantastic job of designing this book. Did you have any idea it would be so well done?

SANDIE: We had a very special editor on this project named Connie Troyer. Connie played a huge part in the design of the book, and she shared it with us as it went along. We were all so excited when we saw the layout, but you know what, Suzie? There's just NOTHING like holding it in your hands and seeing it in person. If you could have seen the phone lines buzzing between the four of us the day we received our authors' copies! We were like little kids on Christmas morning.

I love the way each devotional starts with a scripture and ends with a heart-felt prayer. As I was reading this book, one notion struck me repeatedly. Each of these women let down their guard and revealed a level of vulnerability I don’t often see in devotionals. There’s so much truth in this book. And, as an added bonus, they’re no longer just names on the cover of a book. I feel like I know each one of them. Not only is this book a must-read, it would make a perfect Christmas gift.

I’ll be giving away a copy of Be Still, so if you’d like to be entered in the drawing, leave a comment or question for our guests, along with your e-mail address by 6 pm PST tomorrow (Sunday) night.

For a review and giveaway of Sandie’s newest fiction release, Love Finds You in Holiday, Florida, visit my personal blog at
http://suzieswritingplace.blogspot.com.

Be sure and visit the Be Still group blog at
http://bestilldevos.blogspot.com, and the authors’ websites: www.AndreaBoeshaar.com; www.SandraDBricker.com; www.LoreeLough.com; www.DebbyMayne.com.
Pictured from top to bottom: Andrea Boeshaar; Loree Lough; Debby Mayne; and Sandra D. Bricker.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cleopatra and the Christian Woman


Prior to writing this blog, my knowledge of Cleopatra was pretty limited. Besides the fact that Shakespeare wrote a play about her and that she liked to sit on a barge, really, what else did I need to know?

That's a rhetorical question.

Tons have been written and said about the Egyptian Queen. Philosopher Blaise Pascal wrote, "Cleopatra's nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed."

As I did my research, I learned a sad truth: Cleopatra VII Thea Philopator broke the Ten Commandments more times than any of us have probably contemplated. See how many you can find in these facts:

~She became the Pharaoh of the Ptolemaic Dynasty after succeeded Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos (Auletes). As the last Queen and last Pharoah of Egypt, she reigned for 21 years, from 51 BC to 30 BC, during which time she had her sister killed. Following Cleopatra's death, Egypt became a Roman province.

~She died in 30 BC, when she was only 39 years old. She committed suicide and used an asp (an Egyptian cobra snake) for the purpose.

~As mistress of Julius Caesar, she gave birth to one son. While Mark Antony was married to another woman, he married Cleopatra. They had three children. During her marriages to her brothers, she had no children.

~Contrary to the popular belief, she was perhaps not very beautiful. Coins dating back to her time depict a woman with a hooked nose and masculine features. Yet she was a very intelligent woman, with oodles of charisma and amazing powers of persuasion.

~Cleopatra was not an Egyptian. Rather, she was a Macedonian Greek who descended from Ptolemy I, a Greek general of Alexander the Great. Ptolemy I became the king of Egypt following the death of Alexander.

~In the entire 300-year old Ptolemaic dynasty, Cleopatra was the only Pharaoh who could speak Egyptian. In fact, she was the master of nine languages.

While I like the idea of sitting on a barge, drinking lattes while my servants take turns fanning me and bringing me grapes and other luscious fruits, the grim reality is I don't have much in common with Cleopatra other than she died when she was 39 and I am currently 39. Her suicide, apparently, resulted from her grief in learning of Marc Antony's death.

Hello.

I love my husband, yet were he to die, I'm not about to hug a snake.

So that makes me think that Cleopatra must had a self-absorbed life. That can only explain to me why she'd walk out on her four children by committing suicide, although maybe she had no idea how to be a mother. Maybe she spent so much time seducing men and climbing the ruling ladder that she never realized her children needed a mother. Maybe she had no idea how to be a mother because she never really had a mother to mother her.

Earlier this week I was talking to my 10th grade son about dating. See, we have a family policy of "no dating until you're out of high school." Even my 1st grader heards the rule. Now I'm sure some readers are thinking, "Gina, you are wacky. What's wrong with letting your children date? After all, they need to learn how to date because dating is good for their social developement."

Hmm. I don't think I spelled development correctly. Yep. The second spelling is right.

As my son once wrote in his English journal, "Dating in high school is a waste of time, emotions, and money."

Anyhoo, in the conversation with my son earlier this week, I told him about my friend Kari and how she'd ignore us while she had a boyfriend, only to hang out with us when the relationship ended. For weeks all we'd hear is complains about her ex. Until she discovered a new love. They'd hook up and we'd be dumped again. My friend Katrina once said, "I feel like she uses us to keep her company until she finds a new boyfriend."

One of the difficulties in being a parent is helping our children understand we have rules for their protection, not just to make their lives miserable.

From what I've read about Cleopatra, she lived in a culture where she had no rules, no boundaries, no moral code. No right and wrong. Her life was a case study of "do whatever makes you happy."

Why is it that folks who always do what makes them happy don't seem to stay happy?

Gotta get that next fix.
Gotta climb that mountain.
Gotta lose five more pounds.

Ever wonder what we're teaching our daughters when we moan, "Uggh, I need to lose some weight, I'm so fat"?

Just a month ago, a lady from church was sharing about the Weight Watchers program she recently started. 99/100 people would look at the woman and say, "She's a size 8. She doesn't need to be doing Weight Watchers."

While I wisely kept my mouth shut, I couldn't help wondering what she was teaching her daughters about physical acceptance. If my 5'5" mom who weighs 135 is on a diet because she's "fat," then I'd better go on a diet too.

Funny thing (or maybe sad) is that of the women I talk to/hang with, the ones who focus most on weight AREN'T the overweight ones. Why is that? If you can't be happy at the weight you weigh now or with the face/body you have now, what makes you think weighing 10 lbs less or having a bit of plastic surgery is going to make you happy? There will ALWAYS be another 5 lbs you can lose. There will ALWAYS be another woman skinnier, prettier, sexier than you. And if you're concerned about that woman, odds are your daughter is going to learn from you that she needs to be concerned about that woman too.

Despite all the grand love affairs Cleopatra had, the renown she gained, the mark in history she made, in the end, some other woman raised her three youngest children.

That to me, makes Cleopatra a failure.


Non-Serious Question of the Day: What children's tv show/cartoon should be permanently banished from all airwaves/internet/world existance?

Serious Question of the Day: What did you hear one of your children say (or see written) that made you realize you'd give yourself a Good Housekeeping star for teaching him/her?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Award-winning, best-selling author Julie Lessman


My name is Julie Lessman … and I am a romance addict.

However, I might add, Margaret Mitchell bears the blame. The moment Scarlett seared Rhett with a look on the winding staircase of Twelve Oaks, I was a goner, my brain irrevocably branded with the burning desire for romance. God help me, I was only twelve at the time when some innocent, unsuspecting person put a copy of Gone With the Wind in my hand. I swear to this day that the binding not only burned my fingers, but it seared my life forever.

You see, when I read that novel at the age of twelve, I was swept away into the world of romance for the very first time. It captured me like no other book had done, and I immediately set out to write (along with thousands of other love-struck young girls, I’m sure), what I hoped would be “the great American novel.” Obviously my dreams of grandeur didn’t go anywhere, but I did write 150 single-spaced pages of a story that became the basis (some forty years later!) for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Today, I like to think that not only are Margaret Mitchell’s fingerprints are all over me in my religious devotion to passion, but God’s as well—merging my passion for romance with my passion for Him.

And speaking of religiously devoted, I may well be one of the few GWTW fans whose obsession became a habit—a religious habit, that is, of the “nun” variety. Although I had read the book at the age of twelve (and reread it a gazillion times since then), I never saw the movie until I turned sixteen. Way back then (we won’t go into how far back that was), Gone With the Wind was only re-released every seven years. So when I found out that a theatre in my city was sponsoring a free premiere to all the local religious and clergy, I actually dressed up as a nun to go. One of my friends had a sister in the convent who loaned us novice habits, and off we went! I sat there mesmerized, shoving free popcorn into my mouth as I watched the emotional tug-o-war between Rhett and Scarlett. It was one of the most thrilling times of my teens … until we ran into the nuns from our high school! I must have looked pretty convincing in the novice garb, though, because one of our nuns started talking to me about a vocation. Are you kidding? A nun who writes romance? Uh, no!

Why would a book like Gone With the Wind impact me so? Romance, pure and simple. Yes, Scarlett was selfish, but what drew me was the pull she had over Rhett—a man who wanted her but couldn’t have her. To me, seeing a strong, male type like Rhett Butler “who wasn’t the marrying kind” give in and marry her because he loved her and wanted to cherish her, spoke volumes to me. Even as a little girl, I sensed that was what romance was all about—finding a man who couldn’t do without you and to whom you were the most important woman in the world. It wasn’t until I became a born-again Christian at the age of 23 that I learned it was a foreshadow of how God sees romance in Ephesians 5:25: "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her."

Now I am not saying that Rhett Butler typified the kind of love Christ had in mind, but he wanted Scarlett so badly, he was willing to give of himself to get her. No other woman alive could do that to him, only her. Now to me, that’s romance in the most heart-pounding sense of the word—to be cherished, loved and desired by a man who would sacrifice himself to claim you as his own.

Sound familiar? Think about it—the romantic love between a man and a woman is a mere shadow of the love, passion and desire that God has for each of us. And if you don’t believe me, take a stroll through the “Song of Solomon” sometime—a love letter to Israel and mankind from a God who wanted each of us so badly, He was willing to sacrifice His Son. When it comes to romance, there’s no question that God wrote the book—and for me, it’s a true bestseller that always guarantees a happy ending.

Feel free to leave a comment to be entered into a Daughters of Boston giveaway where you can win a signed copy of your choice of one of the three books in the series, A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed or A Passion Denied. Good luck!

Hugs,

Julie

Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her white-hot passion for both God and romance. Winner of the 2009 ACFW Debut Author of the Year, Julie is also the recipient of 13 Romance Writers of America awards and resides in Missouri with her husband and their golden retriever. She is the author of The Daughters of Boston series, which includes A Passion Most Pure, A Passion Redeemed, and A Passion Denied. You can contact Julie through her website at http://www.julielessman.com/.


Book 3, A Passion Denied, is the story of Faith and Charity’s little sister, Lizzie, a shy bookworm who dreams of a fairy-tale romance. It unfolds a man’s dark past and a young girl’s shattered dreams … and the God who redeems it all.

Elizabeth O’Connor is the little sister John always longed for. With a fire for God in his belly, he has been her spiritual mentor since she was thirteen, sharing her love of literature and her thirst for God. But when his gangly protégé blossoms into a beautiful young woman bent on loving him, he refuses to act on the attraction he feels. His past won’t let him go there. Unfortunately, “Lizzie” won’t let him go anywhere else … until his dark and shocking secrets push her away.