CONGRATULATIONS!

Congratulations to Alison (agboss) who won Susanne Dietze's The Reluctant Guardian!


Congratulations to Elise Jehan who won a copy of The Secret Admirer Romance Collection!

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Grammar Nazi



Maybe you’ve seen the merchandize that says, “I’m silently correctly your grammar.” (Here’s one place to start if you’d like to purchase any.) Or maybe you’re one of the types who already purchased some. Yes, I must confess. Grammar nazi is one of my vices. I’m a stickler for accuracy in anything I read. I recently heard about a man who sneaks around England at night correcting error’s errors on signs. It’s not something to which I aspire, but I understand his motivations.

Grammar. Punctuation. Spelling. Word usage. Years ago, I worked as a technical editor, and I still can’t turn off that side of me. Indeed, one thing I learned early in my writing career was to never read my work after publication, so I wouldn’t see the errors that made it into print. To this day, I silently wince when I see errors in books, on signs, in news stories, or on the projector screens at church (when I’m supposed to be concentrating on using the words of the song to praise God, and all I can think about is the punctuation error on the wall).

One of the songs that gets me every time is “Amazing Grace.”



When we've been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise,
Than when we first begun.

Do you see the phrase that annoys me? A common word usage mistake many people make is to misuse fewer/less. Use fewer for things you can count: I have fewer M&Ms than you (so hand some over). Use less for things you can’t count: I put less butter on my toast this morning because I’ve decided I need to cut back. (That’s what happens when I eat too many M&Ms.)

So why would the writer say “We’ve no less days”? Days can be counted, so fewer is the grammatically correct word choice…except the topic is eternity, and in eternity, the days can’t be counted.

Is this a usage error to keep the phrase to four syllables? Or is it a brilliant use of the English language to make a point? I haven’t decided, but I must admit, it certainly focuses my mind on the meaning of the words every time.


(Oh, and if you find a typo in this post? Please don't tell me. Its all ready published, so there's nothing I can due.)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Love in Store Love Notes

by Anita Mae Draper

Last summer I took a bold step with my fictional writing when I gave my heroine the gift of poetry as one of her traits, and then included short verses in my novella proposal for Love In Store. The theme for the novella collection was secret admirer, and my submission included a page with the verses that would be scattered throughout the story in the form of love notes.

I say it was a bold step to include the verses because poetry is not my strength. I write rhyming, metered verses as the mood hits me. For instance, I wrote a poem after visiting the Oregon Trail ruts in Guernsey, Wyoming because the experience touched me deeply. As I stood there imagining the pioneer scene, I could hear the cracks from the whips, the babies' cries, and the mix of emotion-filled voices. Driving away, the poem fell into place, and now when I read, You Were By My Side, I'm taken back to that memory of memories.

I'm adding other poetry to my website as my courage dictates so I can't tell you how I had the nerve to include it in my novella submission, but to me it fit. And I was blessed abundantly when Barbour Publishing chose to include my story as one of 9 novellas in The Secret Admirer Romance Collection.


On the right is the bookmark I created as a visual reference of the love notes in Love in Store since they are an integral part of the story. Each love note contains a verse with two lines of poetry which the heroine, Janet, hides among the items and shelves of hero Adam's store.

At one time I had thought to write all the notes based on verses from Song of Solomon, but . . . well, have you read that book of the Bible? Suffice to say I chose one reference to it and the rest are my own words.

My goal was to start with a casual reference, and then say something more -  emotionally and physically deeper - with each verse. Over time Janet allows her true feelings to play out on the floral paper until she bares everything to Adam . . . except her identify.

Adam's goal is to be left alone because he has problems that he doesn't want to share. When Janet's final love note is revealed, Adam responds with a short poem of his own, but you'll have to read the book to discover his answer, hence it's not included on the bookmark.

For those of you who can't read the tiny words on my bookmark, here's one of the pins on my Novella: Love in Store Pinterest board.



The bookmark and matching postcard (shown below) are being sent as a thank you gift to my newsletter subscribers who gave a postal address when they signed up or since then. If you're not on my mailing list and don't wish to receive my newsletter, but still want either the bookmark, postcard, or both, let me know through my website contact page.

The Secret Admirer Romance Collection will release May 1st and is available for pre-order at 46% off regular price through amazon.com (not .ca). If you'd like to take a chance on winning a copy, I have several blog appearances starting in about 10 days where I'll be giving away print copies. I also have some goodies lined up in a special Secret Admirer Prize Pack. Keep informed through my Contests & Giveaways page.

Using my poetry in a story isn't something I planned and prepared for, but I'm so very grateful that God gave me the gift, and then put the idea into my head to use it to enhance Love in Store. I'm especially honored that Barbour Publishing chose my story with its simple verses for this collection.

And do you know what else? I really like my story. I hope you do too.

Question: Do you write poetry, either verse or prose? What about haiku? Or . . . you tell me.

Giveaway: I haven't received my author copies yet, but since I advertised it on my website, I'm giving away a copy of The SECRET ADMIRER Romance Collection in conjunction with today's post. If you want a chance to win it, leave a comment before Sunday midnight April 23. I'll pick a winner on Monday morning and send the winner a print copy when I receive them.

P.S. The postcard looks dinky here but really is a regular postcard size.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anita Mae Draper writes her historical romances under the western skies of the Saskatchewan prairie where her love of research and genealogy yield fascinating truths that layer her stories with rich historical details. Her Christian faith is reflected in her stories of forgiveness and redemption as her characters struggle to find their way to that place we call home. Anita loves to correspond with her readers through any of the social media links found at www.anitamaedraper.com
Readers can enrich their reading experience by checking out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her published stories at www.pinterest.com/anitamaedraper.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Inspirational Historical Romance Giveaway!



Today's the last day to enter to win a Kindle Fire and 45+ Inspy Historical Romance titles, including My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho!

Click link to enter!


Look at all those amazing books!

If you don't win, it's available on pre-order sale on Amazon for a few more days.

Picture
Click photo for link!
Journey now to Ruby City, Idaho of 1866 where...

A Marriage Mishap Creates an Awkward Love Triangle in this Silver Mining Town
 
Looking forward to a quiet life and a full stomach, mail-order bride Rebecca Rice is pleased to marry her shopkeeper intended, Mr. Fordham, until the justice of the peace calls him Thaddeus, not Theodore—proceeded by the title Deputy.

Is it possible to marry the wrong man?

When the newlyweds realize they’ve married the wrong partners with similar names, an annulment seems in order—and fast, since Rebecca’s true intended is impatient to claim her as his own, not to mention Rebecca would never marry a lawman like her father. But when the legalities take longer than expected, Rebecca wonders if Tad wasn’t the right husband for her all along. . . .


***


Susanne Dietze is the author of a dozen inspy historical romances set in America and Britain. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Refreshing Surprise - Dear. Mr. Knightley

by Dina Sleiman

True confession time. For about the last two years, I’ve been so burnt out on writing and editing, that I’ve done very little pleasure reading. Finally, I see a glimpse of light on my reading horizon, and this week I discovered an amazing book that catapulted me on my way toward a renewed love of reading. But I almost missed out on it. Why? Because I had some preconceived notions against the conventions of the book.

 Lots of readers have them. “I don’t like first person,” “I hate present tense,” “I only want the hero and heroines point of view.” And the list goes on. For the most part, I’m pretty eclectic with my reading. I like the new and surprising. I get tired of a single genre and adore writing that’s experimental and takes risks, but I have my limits too, and one of those limits was that I don’t like novels written as letters.

When I saw that Dear Mr. Knightley and two other books by Katherine Reay were on sale as a collection for $2.99, my interest was immediately piqued, because I’ve wanted to give these books a try for a while. But as I read the sample on kindle and saw that it was written in letters, my enthusiasm waned. Nonetheless, I kept reading, and at some point it caught my interest enough to go ahead and purchase the books.

What ensued was not just a book, not just pleasure reading, but a powerful and moving literary experience. It haunted me as I read it; characters visited me in my dreams. The letters slowly pull you closer and closer into the world of a young woman seeking her Master’s in Journalism who grew up in an abusive home and then a series of foster homes. Not surprisingly, she has some serious wounds and attachment issues, yet the book isn’t dark. It’s delightful, full of literary allusions and insightful comments on human nature. As it progresses, the romance element blossoms skillfully as well, and the ending is surprising and wonderful, bringing the story full circle. I love a good surprise in a book, which is probably why I quickly become bored with category fiction.

I don’t want to say much more. Instead I want you to experience this wonderful book for yourself. Do you have preconceptions against any given convention in fiction? I propose that you just haven’t found the right book yet. I mean, who can imagine Divergent or Hunger Games without the immediacy of the first person present tense narrator? Different stories call for different conventions. Give a try to something new in your reading, and see what you might discover.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Cozy Mystery Giveaway Plus a Kindle Fire!



I'm so excited to let you all know that Booksweeps is including my new release, Murder on the Moor in their current giveaway!

For a limited time, you can enter to win my book plus more than 55 fantastic Cozy Mystery novels from an amazing collection of authors, PLUS A KINDLE FIRE! 

Two winners will each receive the bundle of 55+ books. One of them will also win the Kindle Fire.

Enter the contest by clicking here: bit.ly/cozy-mystery

When you’re done, leave a comment to let me know you’ve entered!




PLEASE NOTE:  The 55+ books offered in this giveaway were not chosen or endorsed by me or by Bethany House Publishers. I believe there is a mixture of secular and inspirational books included. You can investigate the books being offered on the contest site through the above link. 

Entry is free. Contest ends on April 10, 2017

Monday, April 3, 2017

Top ten things I learned watching a pregnant giraffe...

by Barbara Early

1. Giraffes have long blue tongues.

2. Giraffes, like five percent of humans, can stick their tongues up their nostrils.

3. There's always a compelling back story. I found this USA Today article about the family that started the animal park. It begins, "At the start, he dreamed of the giraffe."


4. Giraffes chew their cud (regurgitated food) like cows do.

5. Some of you tried number 2, didn't you--April Fools!

6. Giraffes form emotional bonds with each other and with their keepers. Their interaction was heartwarming at times.



7. As hard as I remember labor being, I can be thankful I didn't give birth to a 150 pound baby with hooves.

8. Unlimited cell data isn't truly unlimited. They slow you down after a certain threshold is reached.

9. Some might question the sanity of staring at the back end of a giraffe for hours on end, but think nothing of watching sweaty guys in shorts run back and forth dribbling a basketball.

10. After all the pain and restlessness April went through, I was ready to start a GoFundMe page for spaying and neutering giraffes.

But then...

<insert cute baby giraffe picture here>

Rats! Still waiting...

Friday, March 24, 2017

Release Party and Virtual Ice Cream Social for Saguaro Sunset



Available now.  Buy Saguaro Sunset ebook from Amazon  99cents or free on Kindle Unlimited

Hola!
Saguaro Sunset was a successful test for me. This is my first contemporary novella and a quick break from my upcoming mystery novel due out this summer. It worked. I plotted and wrote it in record time. And--yay!--I love this story, and so have readers!


~~No ice cream sandwich is as sweet as a long-delayed sunset kiss~~

Friday night’s first phone call was the answer to Teresa Scott’s career dreams. Before she can celebrate, a second call informs her of her sister’s accident and puts Teresa in ‘the driver’s seat’ of Frosty Fingers Food Truck during the Tucson Festival of Books. Determined to keep her sister’s business out of the red, Teresa hides the painful disappointment of giving up her dream.

Fellow accountant Alan Davis sticks his do-gooder nose in, hanging around to help Teresa, the woman he’s adored since forever, not knowing the coveted board position he's just accepted is the one she had to give up. 

Nice Guy Alan isn’t really Teresa’s type, but she’s won over by his humor, adorable smile, and ice cream scooping skills. As his presence become irreplaceable, she sheds the hardened layers of her heart. Just when it’s clear she needs him in her life, Alan has to face his biggest regret and honor an old promise. Will losing this chivalrous knight in a snowman costume break Teresa’s vulnerable heart?



So, welcome to Tucson!  And visit Saguaro Sunset's Pinterest Page

Arizona, if you haven't noticed, is one of those places I talk about so much, I should receive recognition from the tourism board. Desert Duet, Starlight Serenade and Why Not--my last three novellas--are all set in this remarkable state.

Saguaro Sunset is part of the STATE FLOWER collection from Forget Me Not Romances, and takes place in Tucson during the Tucson Festival of Books and highlights Saguaro National Park. We just missed the book festival last weekend, but there's ice cream left over, so choose a flavor. Dish or waffle cone?

Minty Chip--our signature flavor. 

Wildcat Country--sugary, salty kettle-corn-flavor ice cream. Really.

Mountain Man--peanut butter crunch with white chocolate chunks

Old Pueblo Pistachio--we're nuts about this flavor

Cactus Crunch--strawberry with dark chocolate and walnuts

Arizona Gold--French vanilla only better

Cowboy Kisses--coffee flavored ice cream with swirls of chocolate wafer and coffee bean crunch

'Zona Zombie--dead right, our cappuccino and fudge combo is to die for

Desert Delight--toffee ice cream with brickle bits and prairie dog wishes

What's your favorite?

grab some ice cream, because here comes all those social media links I have to lug around with me...
Amazon Author Page -- a good way to keep up with new releases

Twitter --  entertaining you in 140 characters...but mostly retweeting...

Pinterest -- basically my quilting obsession and all the things I'll do when I retire...

Honest to Goodness. This is Me at the Saguaro National Park Risking My Backside for My Work
(no, I'm not really a redhead, this is the color of Sunset!)


And now for the giveaways -
For new subscribers to my emailed newsletter - I currently have a promotion (1 in  50)  for an Amazon Gift Card $25.00. Sign Up Here!



And of course, I'm giving away copies of Saguaro Sunset to readers with Kindle app or Kindle. Please note in the comments if you'd like to be in the drawing which ends April 10

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring has Sprung! Five Ways to Celebrate the First Day of Spring



Happy first day of Spring!
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16:
It's SMILING!!!!
Is it warm at your house yet? Here, my daffodils are blooming and the blossoms are already gone from my stone fruit trees. It's felt like spring for a few weeks already.

Today, however, marks the vernal equinox. On this day, day and night are equal in length because our planet reaches a turning point in its orbit, and neither the North or South poles are tilted toward the sun. Earth hits the turning point in its orbit where neither the North or the South poles are tilted towards the sun.

So let's celebrate!
Spring Baby Animals - baby animal photos - Woman And Home:
Because who doesn't love baby animals?
Here are some ways the first day of Spring is celebrated around the world.

  1. Plant seeds to honor someone. In ancient Rome, women planted seeds in the gardens of Adonis. The custom persists in Sicily today, but not in honor of Adonis. Instead, women plant flowers in baskets. When they sprout, the flowers are placed on graves of loved ones on Good Friday as a symbol of life triumphing over death. I like the idea of sharing flowers with friends and neighbors who have recently lost a loved one.
  2. Eat some eggs. Eggs represent new life and rebirth, after all (one of they reasons they are symbolic at Easter time). A Chinese tradition says you can balance an egg on the equinox. Is it true? I don't know, but if it breaks, no worries. You can scramble the egg, just like people in Bosnia do for the "Festival of Scrambled Eggs" where eggs are cooked in massive pans and distributed for free. I love the idea of feeding people. Maybe there's someone I can treat to a meal, or I can volunteer at my local shelter.
  3. Let go of old resentments. In India, a Hindu tradition welcomes spring with people gathering in the street and throwing colored powder at one another (sort of like the "Color Runs" we do in the US where you toss colored powder at joggers--and the joggers pay for it!). It's also a time to forgive, which is a great idea no matter where you are.
  4. Read, Write, and Encourage Reading and Writing. Did you know the vernal equinox is World Storytelling Day? Me neither! But what a fun idea! Celebrate literacy, read to a child, and thank God for His Word!
  5. Spring Clean. This isn't a vernal equinox tradition, like visiting Stonehenge or Chichén Itzá in Mexico, both of which were built thousands of years ago to map the movement of the sun. But it's a spring tradition, one I intend to tackle. My house desperately needs a good cleaning, but so does my heart. Why not use this time--which happens to be Lent, by the way--to take a good look at our hearts and pray for ways to better serve God?
<3:
AWWWWW!!!!
Easter is coming soon. Let's use the time to prepare our hearts, homes, and thoughts for the celebration of Jesus' Resurrection!

***

Susanne Dietze is the author of a dozen historical romances, including The Reluctant Guardian and My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho. You can learn more on her website, www.susannedietze.com.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Watching Waiting Wondering

by Anita Mae Draper

Raise your hand if you're waiting for April. 

Now wave if you know I'm NOT talking about a calendar month.

Good. I'm not the only one. 

For those of you who aren't one of the 134,203 people (as of this writing) who are tuned to the live cam feed at April the Giraffe's YouTube Channel, we are awaiting the birth of April's calf. 

I want to see the live birth of a baby giraffe. I tried to tell my mom about the live cam feed and she kept saying she saw a panda give birth to twins on the news. I told her it wasn't the same...that I was watching a live camera feed into the giraffe's pen. She repeated about seeing the panda birth. When I said it wasn't the same thing she said she thought I liked pandas. She reminded me that my teddy bear had been a panda. Didn't I remember him? I gave up. 

Granted, if I want to see any number of birds and animals giving birth, feeding their young, hatching, etc, I can take my pick of live camera feeds from the explore.org site. 

But April is a giraffe and this is a new experience for me, yet one that brings good memories.



April the Giraffe, taken from the Animal Adventure Park live cam feed

Just look at those huge doe-like eyes. 

I first heard about April on a Feb 24th newscast that said a New York giraffe would be giving birth soon. March crept in and when April didn't deliver, her handlers at Animal Adventure Park (AAP) explained that they may have missed a cycle. He said giraffe cycles are 17 days apart and so my quick figuring meant there was no rush. I settled in for the long haul.

Animal Adventure Park is not a non-profit organization. They run it to make money and they've taken full advantage of the social media publicity that April's pregnancy has given them by selling 2017 Giraffe Watch apparel, etc and even giraffe emojis to brighten up your social media posts. I can't fault them for that. 

Neither can I fault them for the care they take with their two giraffes which comprise of April and her mate, Oliver. I leave the cam feed on a low resolution so it doesn't take much internet usage and with a 4 hr window I can look back to see if I missed anything - like when April kicked the vet and everyone was talking about it on the live chat.



April the Giraffe, taken from the Animal Adventure Park live cam feed

Why do I watch? Because it reminds me of the time when the kids were at school and my day consisted of sitting in a lawn chair in a cold barn with a cup of hot coffee and waiting for our goats to deliver their kids. I never knew when I would be needed to jump into the stall and give a helping hand. Invariably, some of the goats would wait until I went up to the house for a refill and when I got back, they were already licking off their baby, or babies. But others needed help if it was a breech birth, or the kid had one leg forward and one back, etc. And during some blizzards, the does would get stressed and walk away leaving their newborns lying in their amniotic sacks on the straw. So I'd wait and be there if needed.

I enjoyed the bonding period of being a mother waiting with another mother for a miracle to happen.

I know some of the signs to watch for, like the tail flagging and raising, and the stargazing where they stop chewing their cud and stare into space for awhile. I've seen April do these. Oft times she'll stand beside the far wall motionless. I know she's having a contraction when she leans one way while her back foot comes off the floor and quivers. Or it taps the floor in quick succession.

From what the AAP staff say, giraffes have to hide their labor in the wild to keep predators from knowing until it's too late. So AAP won't announce that April is in active labor until they "see hooves". I respect them for that. They've already got us all on tenterhooks without giving us undue anxiety due to false contractions. As it stands, April has already sent everyone in a flurry a couple times, the latest being Sunday night when the vet stayed overnight due to the baby dropping and the blizzard oncoming. And it's been seventeen days since the news first hit social media.

For giraffes, lying down is labor-intensive. It's almost painful to watch their indecisive movements as they bend a knee, shuffle their back feet, bend again, and make the drop to the floor on both front knees, spreading their back legs out, rocking frontwards and backwards as they settle. 

Last night, April changed her mind after her first attempt at lying down although I could feel the exhaustion straining from her. Apparently giraffes only sleep a couple hours a day and supplement with catnaps. April needed rest. A couple minutes later, she tried again and oh, the way she protected her belly as she sunk to the floor, almost tipping head over knees in her attempt to protect her calf.

In this next image, April is lying on her knees and her back left leg stretched out toward the bottom left of the image. Her head is resting on her left hip and her eye(s) is closed.


April the Giraffe sleeping, taken from the Animal Adventure Park live cam feed

What you don't see in the above image is April bonding with her calf. Just minutes before I took the screenshot, I saw her calf kick out as it often does. This time, April turned to rest her head on her large belly. She then stroked her head back and forth several times, moving her head from side to side so that tender area of her throat rubbed against her skin. She stopped and rested her head as you see above. A tender moment of nurturing.

A couple of days ago a soul-searching moment came to mind as I thought of all the people watching April. We are all waiting for a momentous occasion. Sure, we can watch it on YouTube if we miss it, but it won't be the same as watching it live. It's like being there. We've been invited to witness the birth and only God can say what will happen when the time comes. 

Yet the thought that God is watching me watch April makes me wonder why I am not waiting with the same expectation for His son to return. I believe He will return, but I'm not filled with the same sense of eager anticipation that I have for April's calf to be born. 

I'm very much looking forward to both events. Both are cause for joyous celebrations. And they both have an element of danger because when Christ comes to take His believers home, confusion, regret, and violence will be left behind with the unbelievers and those too stubborn to have accepted him when they had their chance. 

I wonder if it's because I know April will deliver one of these days. After all, pregnancies do end.

Or is it because although I don't know when Christ will return, I feel safe because I have a personal relationship with him and I know I'm ready? Yet, have I used my time wisely while waiting? I've already admitted that I continue to work at my writing projects while glancing at April every once in awhile. Is my writing for Him the best I can do? 

A final thought... how will others know the urgency of Christ's return if I'm not showing it? 

Have you been watching April? 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Anita Mae Draper's historical romances are woven under the western skies of the Saskatchewan prairie where her love of research and genealogy yield fascinating truths that layer her stories with rich historical details. Her Christian faith is reflected in her stories of forgiveness and redemption as her characters struggle to find their way to that place we call home. Anita loves to correspond with her readers through any of the social media links found at

Readers can enrich their reading experience by checking out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her stories at www.pinterest.com/anitamaedraper.