Friday, April 29, 2011

Something Old, Something New, and a Royal Wedding Prayer or Two

by Susanne Dietze

Today’s the Big Day, Royal watchers! By the time you read this, Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton will be united in marriage—and I bet the ceremony was lovely. I haven’t seen it yet: I promised Kid #1 I wouldn’t watch it on the DVR until she gets home from school.

It’s taking all of my self-control to wait. Seriously! I’m an Anglophile, I’m a romantic, and I loved Princess Diana. As a kid, I used my own money to buy this book of Princess Diana paper dolls.

When Diana married Prince Charles, I was in elementary school and lacked a VCR. My mother, bless her heart, set her alarm clock for 2 AM so we could view the wedding. It was like watching Cinderella get married, but better, because the bride was a real person. The twenty-five foot train of Diana’s meringue-sweet gown swept the aisle of St. Paul’s and stirred my dreams of future romance.

When I planned my own wedding, I no longer desired a poufy gown like Diana’s, but I did want to follow all of the traditions. White gown. Pretty flowers. Bridesmaids dressed in the cheapest matching frocks my friends could stomach.

None of those traditions are Biblical, of course, but I honestly had no idea where they originated. Many of our customs—carrying flowers, bridesmaids wearing matching gowns, throwing rice—derive from acts which once served specific functions or represented something to pagan cultures.

For instance, European brides of centuries past went to great lengths to ensure that their weddings were not hindered by evil spirits. Bridal bouquets were composed of herbs and flowers which were thought to keep evil spirits at bay. Much like the concept behind carving pumpkins on Halloween, bridesmaids also attempted to confuse the spiritual realm by wearing matching clothes or dresses similar to the bride’s. If demons wanted to bother the bride, they’d have a harder time identifying her if she had lookalikes.

Most brides today wear white, a Biblical and modern symbol of purity. But it’s hardly an old custom. Queen Victoria set the fashion in motion, although nineteenth century brides often wore their best dresses, regardless of hue. The Victorian era was also the birth of the "something old, something new" rhyme as well as other good luck/bad luck customs, like not marrying a man whose surname starts with the same letter as your own.

Throwing rice and eating wedding cake are far older traditions. While weddings have long been celebrated with feasts (Jesus performed His first miracle at the wedding in Cana), wedding cake seems to have been an Ancient Roman fertility custom. Guests supposedly gathered the crumbs as good luck charms.

Another Roman custom? Sealing the wedding ceremony with a kiss, which they believed allowed a couple’s souls to mingle. We hold to other early traditions, too. Ancient Egyptians symbolize the eternity of love with wedding rings. They believed that a “vein of love” ran from the fourth finger directly to the heart, which is why we call that finger a “ring finger.”

During a Christian wedding, it’s customary—and appropriate—to pray for the happy couple. We pray for blessing, for children if it’s God’s will, and for unity. All too often, however, our prayers stop at the end of the service, lasting no longer than the shower of rice (or birdseed) that rains down on them as they hop into the limo.

Our prayers for the couple shouldn’t be a tradition that stops at the end of the ceremony.

The wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana reminds me of that. For all of the expense and pomp of their wedding, the marriage did not last. I’m not judging them; I was not in their marriage. Dealing with infidelity and heartbreak under a public microscope cannot have been easy to endure. I do not know what I would have done in Diana's place.

But I can’t help wondering if marriages, unglamorous workhorses, sometimes receive less investment and dreaming than weddings.

My husband is my best friend. He deserves a wife who invests in her relationship with him. Talking. Praying. Respecting. Reading books and attending retreats to help us nurture our relationship. Arguing and then hugging it out, because neither of us is going anywhere.

So today, I wish Will and Kate well. I may even order their paper dolls. And while I snuggle down with my daughter this afternoon to watch the recording of their (sure to be spectacular) wedding, I’ll enjoy the hats and hoopla, but I’ll also say a prayer that they enjoy a fruitful marriage, with God at its center. I don’t know if God was invited to their wedding as their Guest and Lord, but praying for them can’t hurt. And it serves as a reminder to me, too.

Prayer—for our spouse, and for one another—is a marriage tradition worth preserving.

Did you watch the wedding this morning? If so, what was your favorite part--the hats, the people watching, the dresses?

Susanne Dietze has written love stories set in the nineteenth century since she was in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others to the glory of God. Married to a pastor and the mom of two, Susanne loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and spending time with family and friends. Her work has finaled in the 2010 Genesis Contest, the 2009 Gotcha! Contest, and the Touched By Love Contest, 2008 and 2009. You can visit her on her personal blog, Tea and a Good Book,

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Here Comes the Bride

By Lisa Karon Richardson

One of the most rewarding payoffs for romance readers is to read about the hero and heroine’s wedding. And since this week is all weddings all the time what better time to highlight some of the best weddings in fiction.

1. Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe-LM Montgomery built the romantic tension between those two for four entire books. The wedding scene in The House of Dreams isn’t terribly long, but it is incredibly sweet and just perfect.

2. Irene Adler and Godfrey Norton-Who you say? Irene Adler was “the” woman, according to Sherlock Holmes. He is following Irene on behalf of the king of Bohemia when she sneaks into a church. In full disguise, Sherlock follows her only to be pressed into service as a witness at her marriage to a lawyer, named Godfrey. Love the irony, and through Caroline Nelson Douglas’s novels I got to see exactly what Irene saw in Godfrey.

3. Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester-The wedding that wasn’t. I know it’s a trope now to have someone prevent the wedding at the last second, but think how shocking it was when the story first came out. You can’t stop turning pages after that for sure. How were they ever going to get together after that?

What about you? What books had your favorite weddings? What did you like about them? Weddings in books seem to be harder to come by than weddings in movies, so do you have a favorite movie wedding?

Influenced by books like The Secret Garden and The Little Princess Lisa Karon Richardson’s early books were heavy on boarding schools and creepy houses. It took her awhile to figure out why grandma thought it was unrealistic for boys and girls to share a room. Now that she’s (mostly) all grown-up she still loves a healthy dash of adventure and excitement in any story she creates, even her real-life story. She’s been a missionary to the Seychelles and Gabon and now that she and her husband are back in America, they are tackling a brand new adventure, starting a daughter-work church in a new city. Her first novella, entitled Impressed by Love, part of the Colonial Courtships collection, is coming in May, 2012.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fairy Tale Weddings

by Suzie Johnson

Readers and writers of romance are always searching for that next great love story. But what about real life?

Today I'd like to talk about love stories. Specifically my own, as well as one seemingly magical love story that captured my heart and imagination thirty years ago.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a Royal Watcher, you probably know Prince William is about to marry Kate. If you don’t, consider this your official notice. It's this Friday. I don’t consider myself a Royal Watcher, but at one time I did.

I was just a couple of years out of high school, and working at an electronics plant that played a Canadian radio station all day long. It was there that I first heard the rumors that Prince Charles may finally be getting married. My girlish and romantic heart soared at the very thought of some lucky girl walking down the aisle to say I Do to her prince.

Later, I watched as the prince introduced his shy fiancé to the world on television. As Diana showed her beautiful sapphire ring to the cameras, it felt like I witnessed the beginnings of a fairy tale.

Like millions of others, I became caught up in the anticipation of the Royal Wedding. It also seemed in some ways, that my life was paralleling that of the fairy tale princess.

Obviously, I wasn’t part of the British aristocracy, and the man I was planning to marry wasn’t a prince; at least not by blood. In my eyes, though, he was indeed a prince. And while the cameras were busy capturing shots of Diana wearing her sapphire and diamond engagement ring, I was picking out my ruby and diamond engagement ring. While Diana was seeking a designer for her wedding gown, I was day-dreaming about what mine would look like.

Even my dentist got into the act. Looking back, it sounds so silly, but as I sat in the dentist chair with the silly blue drool bib fastened around my neck and his shiny, sharp instruments poking my mouth, Dr. Higgins would study my face intently, and say in a low dramatic voice, “Shades of Di.” Now I, in no way thought then, nor do I think now, that I looked anything like the beautiful princess-to-be. The only similarities I could even point to were my hair color, age, and nose. And though I may not have resembled Diana, on some level I took delight in the comparison.

Diana’s big day came about four months before mine. And just like 750 million other people, I tuned in to watch what appeared to be the fairy tale princess’s dreams come true. It should come as no surprise that when I walked down the aisle a few months later, I reveled in the fact that the train on my ivory wedding dress flowed behind me in waves.

Just over a year later, four months after Prince William was born, my precious son was also born. And that was where the parallels stopped.

While Diana was featured on the cover of magazines every week, and appeared to be living the fairy tale life, my marriage was going through the typical ups and downs. One of my dearest friends, who shall remain nameless (DL, you know who you are!), bemoaned the fact that Diana was on the cover of every subscription that came to her mailbox, and on every magazine in the grocery store. I, on the other hand, never confessed to my friend that I enjoyed seeing Diana’s pictures and secretly read every article on her that I could.

Late one night, my husband, son and I were on our way home from seeing the second Jurassic Park movie at the local drive-in when the terrible news of Diana’s car crash came over the radio. I was devastated, heartsick, and prayerfully hopeful that she would survive. Of course, you all know the rest of the story. The beautiful princess, whose fairy tale wedding ended in divorce, would never get her happy ending. Not in the earthly sense of the word, anyway.

I’m no longer a Royal Watcher. I haven’t been since the day I watched Diana’s heartbroken sons accompany her casket to the church. Though she didn’t have her fairy tale ending, I sincerely hope her son finds his Happily Ever After with his bride-to-be.

Life is not perfect. No marriage or romance is ever perfect. It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of prayer, and a lot of trust in God. This year, my husband and I are fortunate enough to celebrate our 30th anniversary.

Do you plan to watch the royal wedding? Do you have your own love story you’d like to share with us today?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Royal Coach & Carriage

by Anita Mae Draper

It's the royal wedding week and my excitement is mounting daily. It's not every day... or year... or even decade... that a future king weds his true love. Let the banners fly!

Although Prince William and Kate Middleton will marry in stately style, Kate has decided not to follow tradition and travel to the ceremony at Westminster Abbey in the Glass Coach as William's mother, the late Princess Diana, and William's grandmother, Queen Elizabeth did for their weddings. Instead, she will arrive with her father in a Rolls Royce.

This photo from 1947 shows a happy Princess Elizabeth with her new husband, the Duke of Edinburgh as they leave Westminster Abbey after exchanging vows. Five years and 2 children later, the young Elizabeth would ascend the British throne.

Kate and Prince William will follow tradition when they leave the ceremony in the 1902 State Landau which is what William's father, Prince Charles, rode in to his wedding to Princess Di.

Prince William is familiar with this carriage and rode in it with his brother, Prince Harry during the Queen's Golden Jubilee procession in 2002. Can you see the boys?

Speculation has arisen that Prince William and Kate will use the new State Coach Britannia, however that hasn't been confirmed. It's the newest carriage in the fleet manufactured by an Australian master within the past couple years. Artifacts and materials from historic buildings, ships, etc have been incorporated into the carriage so that it's a mobile history presentation. This coach may look like a conveyance from the past, but its modern conveniences include electric windows, heating and hydraulic stabilizers.

Then there's the Gold State Coach shown here during the 2002 Golden Jubilee procession. This heavy gold coach is displayed in detail in the video, Fit for a Queen.

Fit for a Queen is a fascinating video showing the history of Britain's Gold State Coach along with photos of other coaches and carriages of the Royal Mews.

If you're planning a wedding several options are available to ensure you receive the wedding of your dreams. In my research, I discovered many businesses which rent coaches and carriages for your special day. One to dream about is the Cinderella Coach. DisneyWorld offers a wedding package which includes a Cinderella Coach ride to the chapel and back. Several other places across the US, UK and Europe offer the same service.

For example, you can rent this Cindella Coach from Honolulu Carriage for a price starting at US $550.

If you'd rather buy instead of rent, G and F Carriages in California sells this model starting at $9,000:

If you're worried about inclement weather, you could choose a closed coach such as this one:

If you're interested in the many different styles of coaches and carriages, check out and then come back and answer this question...

If you were planning a wedding with an unlimited budget, would you choose a horse-drawn coach or carriage and if so, which one?



Anita Mae Draper is retired from the Canadian Armed Forces and lives on the prairie of southeast Saskatchewan, Canada with her hubby of 30 plus years and 2 of their 4 kids. In 2005, Anita Mae decided to return to writing and make it a priority in her life. She writes old west stories set on the prairies of Saskatchewan, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. Her characters are strong because the land demands it. Anita Mae likes to write characters who sit up and notice when that special person God’s chosen just for them walks by. The story is all about the courtship between the two main characters. But it won’t be an easy path. And if they don’t know about God at the beginning of the book, they will by the end. Anita Mae has finaled in the 2009 Linda Howard Award of Excellence contest in the Inspirational category, the 2008 Gateway to the Best in the Contemporary Series category, and the 2008 Golden Gateway in the Long Contemporary category. She’s currently waiting to hear the phone ring and have someone say they want to buy Emma’s Outlaw. Meanwhile, she’s working on another story and trying to keep her imagination in check. A pathological picture taker, she usually has a photo or two of the quirky world she lives in on her blog at

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Missing Disciple - The Story of Magdalene

 by Dina Sleiman

Twelve, they recorded, although I never actually saw him sit down and count; one, two…five…seven, eight…ten, eleven, twelve. “Yes,” it would seem he said with infinite finality, “twelve will do just fine.” After all, that little replacement stunt with Matthias hardly met their magical expectations.

All I can say with certainty is this, to the tune of faint whispers—Judas’s disgruntled “the holy whore,” Timothy’s tamer “inappropriate,” “misguided,” “appearances you know,”—I sat at Christ’s feet nursing light like mother’s milk.

Muscled from the trough of prostitution, I never looked back, but focused fully on his eyes, those ever-accepting, ever-radiating eyes. I saw in them the gleam of Genesis revisited.

Peter stood back in the crowd, the hood over his head reverberating the echo of that piercing crow, while I wailed with abandon at Christ’s spike-pinned feet. The soft tresses of my hair matted with blood, and crusty brown streaked my gown, until the soldiers couldn’t take it anymore.

They shoved me backwards into a puddle of mud, but I was clean.

And as Timothy sat pouting, as Peter pulled his battered boat off of the blocks in his backyard, gathering and mending his nets, I found the tomb expectantly empty, had the joy of announcing his transcendence.

Then, on Christ’s way to the Father he took a detour—having yet one last unshed layer of humanity. He was drawn to me—knowing I would fall, clutching his ankles, not searching for gaping holes, but anointing his scars with tears.

May you know the joy of an intimate and personal relationship with Christ on this Resurrection Day!

Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her first novel, Dance of the Dandelion, will release with Whitefire Publishing in 2011. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at

Saturday, April 23, 2011

YA fantasy fiction by Christian author Kathryn Henley

by Niki Turner

The worst thing about Karyn Henley's upcoming Waterbrook Press release, "Breath of Angel," is that it's only the first book in the Angeleon Circle series, which means you'll be left hungry for more when you're finished.

Melaia, a chantress and high priestess-to-be, finds herself yanked into the world of myths and stories she has only sung about before. Not only are angels, and their malevolent counterparts, real, Melaia discovers she has a part to play in the tales she has heretofore considered the fanciful world of entertainment. With the knowledge of her new, weighty responsibility, Melaia has to figure out who she can and can't trust.

Her attraction to Trevin, who first seems to be an ally, and then an enemy, complicates matters as Melaia and the angels who come alongside to help her, seek to restore the "stairway to heaven" that will allow the stranded angels, and possibly the spirits of the dead, to escape the earthly realm in which they have been trapped. But as she learns more about the histories she had thought to be nothing more than stories and legends, Melaia realizes restoring the stairway may require more of her than she is willing to give.

If you're looking for a line upon line scriptural framework in your reading, you might struggle with this story. But the reader who is willing to look for the hidden analogies, and can relate to the heroine's struggles between her earthly relationships and her supernatural destiny, this is a tale you'll enjoy. Well-written, with a touch of romance and plenty of action and unexpected plot twists, Henley's tale is a pleasurable read.

Readers who enjoyed Ted Dekker's Circle series, "Red," "Green," "White," and "Black," will certainly enjoy the mythology and mystery of Henley's story.

"Breath of Angel" goes on sale June 21, 2011. You'll want to put it on your TBR list.

(* I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Spring Cleaning Guide for the Motivationally Challenged

by Barbara Early

I hate spring cleaning. With. A. Passion.Unfortunately, I also have an aversion to squalor, so I thought I’d share my tips—not cleaning tips really, but motivational tips that have helped me get to work. (Now, if you’re the type of get-up-and-go person who is now sitting in a sparkling clean house, feel free to jump to the comments and leave your favorite cleaning tips.)

But if you’ve been putting off some of those seasonal chores, consider whether there’s a reason. Winter blahs can be hard to shake. Part of that may be a deficiency of vitamin D. Recent studies concluded that anywhere from 59 to 85 percent of the population has some level of vitamin D deficiency. And since our bodies synthesize vitamin D using sunlight, those of us in northern climates will feel the most profound effects—especially after a long winter indoors.

Those deficiencies may cause lethargy and depression that hinder the drive to get up and get things done. Over time, it can also lead to osteoporosis and increased likelihood of dementia in the elderly, so consider getting tested. And if you’re deficient like me, a supplement can help. I recently started taking a fish oil supplement with D3 (Vitamin D is fat soluble), and finally feel like I’m waking up. Of course, that trip to Palm Beach didn’t hurt either.

Vitamin D deficiency isn’t the only thing that can zap your energy. Low iron and/or B-12 can lead to anemia. Thyroid dysfunction and sleep disorders can leave you with little energy and motivation. So before you decide you’re just a couch potato, see if there’s a medical reason for the lethargy.

The next obstacle that can defeat my cleaning impulse is the feeling of being overwhelmed. After a winter of hibernation, I can barely recognize parts of my house. The bonus room that leads to the garage looks like a hoarder moved in when I wasn’t looking. It would be really easy for me to pop my vitamin D, turn on my favorite cleaning music, take one look at that clutter, and then bolt the door and dive into my favorite book. It’s too much.Those deficiencies may cause lethargy and depression that hinder the drive to get up and get things done. Over time, it can also lead to osteoporosis and increased likelihood of dementia in the elderly, so consider getting tested. And if you’re deficient like me, a supplement can help. I recently started taking a fish oil supplement with D3 (Vitamin D is fat soluble), and finally feel like I’m waking up. Of course, that trip to Palm Beach didn’t hurt either.

Vitamin D deficiency isn’t the only thing that can zap your energy. Low iron and/or B-12 can lead to anemia. Thyroid dysfunction and sleep disorders can leave you with little energy and motivation. So before you decide you’re just a couch potato, see if there’s a medical reason for the lethargy.

So I take a 3x5 card and write down ten things I most want to accomplish. I try to make the tasks manageable. Cleaning the garage may be too large a task, but cleaning one wall of the garage might not be. Or one shelf—it really depends on your age, health, and energy level. Since clutter is an issue, I try to throw away, recycle (or set aside for donation) twenty things—and do that every day. It might take a little longer to get to a clean house, but I’m told hunting season for dust bunnies lasts well beyond spring. Of course, if hubby should spot my to-do list on the counter and tackle a few tasks, I certainly won’t begrudge him the opportunity.

Deciding what to keep and what to toss can be difficult. Some questions to ask myself are, “Do I love it? Do I need it? Does it make my life better? Would I even miss it if it disappeared?” And while that may help me decide what to do with that adapter for my old cell phone or the beverage containers my daughter used to take to kindergarten (she’s 20), similar questions can help eliminate those things which clutter up my spiritual life.

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1)

That activity, that habit, that attitude. Does it make my life better? Does it slow me down? Does it really please God? And out should go anger and bitterness, and anything else that clutters up my life.

Question of the day: Do you have any cleaning or motivational tips to share?

Barbara Early grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and facebook scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set. She taught secondary English and science for several years in a Christian school before home schooling her daughter successfully through high school. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy, and was a double finalist in the 2010 ACFW Genesis competition. When not reading or writing, she enjoys cooking, crafts, home-improvement projects, and spending time with her husband and daughter.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Welcome Author Deanna Klingel!

 by Deanna Klingel

I was so surprised to learn about Christian Writers. Since I was Christian who read and wrote, how had I missed this? Following other Christian writers and their works inspired more questions. What makes a Christian novel? How does a Romance novel become a Christian Romance novel? Westerns and fantasy can be Christian?

I researched the web and think I began to understand they aren’t intended to “teach” Scripture or dogma. They are carefully designed to show the faith—lack of-- in the character, and show how that affects what happens—or doesn’t—in the story.

I put the cart before the horse.

I had already written my Avery and Gunner stories, a middle grade series based on 14 year-old Avery, in Virginia, 1861-1865. Avery was homeschooled by two well-educated Boston Quakers who moved to western Virginia to farm. Faith in God, moral values, and good ethics, are already a part of who Avery is before age 14 when he began his journey across his state. His ability to deal with adversity, forgive others, understand death, and be charitable come from his faith. It’s who he is.

What do you know? I wrote a Christian novel.

Since you’re reading this blog that probably doesn’t surprise you. What is surprising is that it took five years for me to realize this. During that time Avery visited the Children’s Bologna Book Fair two years, and was peddled to major publishers, one of whom wanted film rights, and the other wanted to bid. Then they both pulled out, and the agents, who loved Avery and Gunner, decided they’d done all they could.

Here’s the rub. I had done whatever the editors asked. I learned a lot from them, and did it all quickly and completely. I appreciate that experience. But in the end, they said Avery wasn’t believeable. Today’s kids wouldn’t “get” his faith. He needed to be “bad.” Their suggestion was that the other character, Claire, should be introduced at an earlier age  and should provide “sexual tension.” They could do “things.” They made some specific suggestions. They said that’s what it takes to sell books, this is the “edginess” today’s young people want.

Really? I guess we won’t sell it then. I can do what they ask for editing and revision, but I can’t compromise Avery. I know him.

I said, “I have faith that if this book is intended to be read, God will deal with it. I’ll just wait and see.”

The first editor of the first Christian publisher who saw it, embraced it. They have faith there is a need for these kinds of books. Avery is an admirable model, though he never quotes scripture, but he remembers what his father told him. He’s comfortable in his meeting house in the Kanawha Valley, but he’s just as comfortable in George Washington’s church in Alexandria, and is mesmerized by the stained glass in St. Mary’s historical church. Praying beside Claire is a comfort. Avery’s faith shines through the pages of Avery’s Battlefield.

He has a Christian world vision, which is what I now understand, is what Christian literature is all about.

And how did it happen that the Christian publisher saw it? After deciding Avery and Gunner would live in the desk drawer forever, I had a sit down with God. “Look, I said, 'If writing isn’t what you want me to do, that’s okay, I’ll do what you want, but you need to let me know. I thought you were with me and Avery for these five years of writing. Tell me what to do now.” I was closing down the computer when I happen to see a peculiar logo on the screen, someone had sent to me. I’d never seen it before, very colorful. I hit print and shut it down. In the morning it was lying on the printer. An invitation to a Christian Writers’ Conference.

“Okay,” I said to God. “Did you know about this?” I stepped out on faith into the unknown, just as Avery and Gunner in my story, uncompromised. Faith may be tested, but it doesn’t have to be compromised.

Deanna Klingel lives in Sapphire, NC, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she and her husband are active in the community and their parish. Deanna is a therapy dog handler and visits weekly to nursing homes, hospitals, and other facilities with her therapy dog. She's the author of Just for the Moment: The Remarkable Gift of the Therapy Dog, and two ebooks, Rebecca & Heart, and Beth's Backyard Friends, both on Deanna's short stories, Marsha Blue (1st place, DreamQuest), The Mayor of Ingles' Parking Lot (2nd place, Scinti), and The Old Bicycle ( Milestones Literary Journal) can all be read on her website, Deanna and husband Dave have 7 grown children, and 11 grandchildren.

The story of a boy, his dog, and their search for peace in the first years of the Civil War.
Avery and his dog Gunner have a good life in Kanawha Valley. But when the long unrest between the North and the South ignites into war, Avery and Gunner begin a dangerous journey that will take them across the paths of people on both sides of the struggle. Avery discovers that his battlefield is in the clinics and hospitals, where the anger and pain continue long after the fighting ends.

Get your copy now at
or call 800.845.5731

 AVERY'S BATTLEFIELD can be purchased at BJU Press and Amazon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What is a Historical?

By Lisa Karon Richardson

There seems to be a good deal of confusion over just what constitutes a historical these days. To be fair it is a bit of a moving target. After all, what is historical to me, (I was born in 1978) is like yesterday to a lot of the Inkies.) And yes, yes I did have to rub that in a little.)

Publishing houses define historicals differently as well. It all seemed a bit random to me, until I realized that they were likely basing this off their understanding of their typical market. In other words, if they generally appeal to an older audience, then what they consider to be “historical” is likely to be earlier than a line that appeals to younger readers.

In general I’ve found that most houses consider historicals to be World War II and earlier. A few consider historicals to Vietnam Era and earlier. Of course this will likely change as we get further and further from the events in question.

So what do you call a novel set in the “twilight area” between contemporary and what the house calls historical? I heard a suggestion that these gems should be referred to as Vintage, which I personally love, but isn’t necessarily a term in popular usage yet.

It can be a quandary.

In my opinion the best way to handle it for now is to use the underlying genre rather than worrying about the setting. In other words, if the story is a romance just call it a romance, if it has a mystery at heart, just call it a mystery. If it’s a story about relationships between women it’s women’s fiction right on down the line.

Do you like novels set in the twilight zone between contemporary and historical? What do you think they ought to be called?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Weeds of History

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
    Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
    And fired the shot heard round the world.
                          From "Concord Hymn" by Ralph Waldo Emerson

On April 19, 1775, the colonial period of American history drew to a close at the battles of Lexington and Concord. And thus, began a revolution that changed the course of history. Have you ever wondered what those colonists would think of America today? Would they recognize it? No, I'm not thinking of politics or technology or culture or religion.

I'm talking plants.

Hey, it's spring, and I just spent my morning planting tomatoes. Now there is a quintessentially American plant, used by the Aztecs for centuries before Europeans arrived. But the people of Europe feared the tomato might be poisonous, so it did not become a common food source, even in America, until the mid-1800's.

There is a comfort in the familiar--just try offering a new food to a young child. Or maybe a middle-aged one for that matter. And so it was with those early colonists who brought many of their own preferred foods with them.

Some years ago, I was trying to discover what colonial America would have looked like. I live in a wooded, semi-rural part of Southeastern Virginia not far from Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. You would think the view from my window would be similar to what John Smith saw in 1607. It isn't.

Old World diseases, such as the chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease, have permanently changed the landscape of North America, wiping out entire forests. They have been replaced by introduced plants. My azaleas, currently blooming in lovely shades of purple, trace their ancestry to Asia. So, too, my camellias, crepe myrtles, and Japanese cherries. And then there are the fruits. Did you know the orange, lemon, cherry, apple, pear, and peach (to name just a few!) are all non-native to North America? So much for the all-American apple pie.

Some introduced plants fared so well in their new home they have become pests--like the mulberry, mimosa, Japanese honeysuckle, multiflora rose, and common dandelion. Yep, the dandelion, the scourge of suburban lawns everywhere, didn't arrive in North America until the mid-1600's when the Puritans brought the plant to New England.


Those Puritans were more concerned with survival than nice lawns. Pick dandelion leaves early in the spring and mix with other greens for a salad. Or cook and serve them with a bacon dressing. Or use the leaves in place of spinach in dishes such as lasagna. You can coat the flowers in cornmeal batter and fry them in oil to make dandelion fritters or use them into make dandelion wine. If you are a teetotaler, roast the roots to make a nutritious coffee substitute. But be sure to save some of the root for your vegetable soup. Best of all, that dandelion dinner will keep you healthy--the leaves have more beta carotene than carrots and more iron than spinach.

Not feeling well? A dandelion tea supposedly helps kidney function, including the treatment and prevention of kidney stones. Keep looking your best with a dandelion lotion to treat dry or sallow skin. And the savvy fashionista can create her own red fabric dye from dandelion roots.

With no way of foreseeing how pervasive dandelions would become, it is understandable why the Puritans brought such a versatile plant with them. And yet, most of us see the dandelion as an annoying, nearly-impossible-to-kill weed.

It strikes me that we frequently treat people the same way, seeing only how they inconvenience us. Have you ever had a disagreeable neighbor? An irritating relative? A demanding child? (Why can children play quietly for hours--until Mom gets on the phone?) How dare they interrupt our plans, embarrass us in public, and disturb our quiet! It's rather like that beautiful green carpet of grass being blemished by those splotches of dandelion yellow.

The same Ralph Waldo Emerson who wrote "Concord Hymn" also said, "What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered." Or in the case of a dandelion, a plant whose virtues have been forgotten.

Too often, however, we see the weed. We fail to see people as God does, intricate flowers of fallible humans whom He loves. Jesus told us that "God so loved the world" (John 3:16). Even those we perceive as unloveable, God sees as His creations, made in His image.

Have you tried dandelion? And have you ever consciously looked "beyond the weed" and been surprised by what you found?

C.J. Chase writes for Love Inspired Historicals. Her debut novel, the winner of RWA's 2010 Golden Heart award for best inspirational romance, will be available in August under the title Redeeming the Rogue. C.J. lives in the swamps of Southeastern Virginia with her handsome husband, active sons, one kinetic sheltie, and an ever-increasing number of chickens. When she is not writing, you will find her gardening, watching old movies, playing classical piano (badly) or teaching a special needs Sunday School class. You can read an excerpt of her book at:

Monday, April 18, 2011

The End is Near! Or is It?

by Jennifer AlLee

Do you ever wonder what's going on with the world? There's certainly no lack of devastation, gloom and doom being reported every night on the news. Earthquakes, tsunamis, global warming, threat of nuclear reactor melt-downs, wars, famine, terrorism, Charlie Sheen... disasters abound.

I can almost guarantee that you or someone you know has recently said something like this: "Jesus must be coming soon. How much worse can it get?"

It seems like a sensible question, but in reality, people have been asking it since the beginning of Christendom. The apostles were sure Jesus was returning soon. Things were so bad for them, they were being killed for their faith. Certainly that meant Jesus was coming for his bride pronto.

But he didn't.

Think back over the decades... earthquakes, wars, and catastrophic events are nothing new. (Charlie Sheen, on the other hand, is a phenomenon of the media saturated age we live in. We all should pray for Charlie.) Also not new are the "profits" who claim to know when Jesus is coming back. Some of these folks are charlatans who pray on people's fears. Some are well-meaning Christians who believe that God has given them insight to the second coming. But whenever I hear someone quoting a date for Christ's return, I always think, "Okay, I know for sure that's NOT when Jesus will come back." Why? Because of this:

But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.

Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.

(Mark 13:24-33 - NKJV)

No one knows the day and hour. Not the angels. Not even Jesus. Only the Father. (I don't pretend to understand how one person of our triune God can be the only one to know something. I just believe what it says.)

That's not to say there's anything wrong with studying Bible prophecy, end-times, the Book of Revelation, and so forth. In fact, I'm fairly certain we're going to see a slew of end-time books coming out in the next few years. The Left Behind series is already being repackaged and marketed through a new campaign. Fiction and non-fiction books on this topic will abound.

So, when is Jesus coming? I have no clue. What I do know is that he wants us to be ready, but not fearful.
It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
(Mark 13:34-37 - NKJV)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
(2 Timothy 1:7 - NKJV)
The next time the news gets to be too much, turn off the TV, throw away the newspaper, and say a prayer. A prayer of thanks for God's goodness, and a prayer of mercy, grace, and peace for those who still haven't surrendered to him. Then live your life with power, with love, and with a sound mind.

What about you? How do you handle the dismal news that bombards us on a daily basis?

JENNIFER ALLEE believes the most important thing a woman can do is find her identity in God – a theme that carries throughout her novels. A professional writer for over twenty years, she's done extensive freelance work for Concordia Publishing House, including skits, Bible activity pages, and over 100 contributions to their popular My Devotions series. Her first novel, The Love of His Brother, was released by Five Star Publishers in November 2007. Her latest novel, The Pastor’s Wife, was released by Abingdon Press in February 2010. Her upcoming novel, The Mother Road, will be released by Abingdon Press in April 2012. She's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America, Christian Authors Network, and the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance. - Jennifer's website - A safe haven for women living on the front lines of ministry.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

When Bad Things Happen to Bad People

by Barbara Early

The road I live on follows the curves of a meandering creek. The speed limit is a reasonable 45 mph. Driving it so frequently, my steering wheel almost knows the pattern of the turns by heart, and I’ll admit I drive the speed limit—or a little above.

One day, travelling this road at a fair clip, I spotted a tailgater in my rear view mirror. That was how he earned his nickname. “Idiot,” I said, as he started veering over the double yellow to see past me, “you’re going to get us both killed.”
On a short straight section, Idiot decided the double yellow was only a suggestion and swung into the opposing lane. My pulse quickened. I hit my brakes. He jerked his pickup into the lane in front of me, just missing me and the car that came around the blind curve ahead.

And I said to myself, “Where are the police when you need them?”

I shook my head, took a deep breath, and continued driving, thankful that at least I’d averted an accident and that “Idiot” was no longer in sight. And then, rounding a curve, I saw him: the red pickup—and the police car—pulled onto the shoulder of the road.

YES! I did a little happy dance in my seat. I considered pulling over and telling the officer, “And guess what else he did…” My husband suggested, had he been there, he would have pointed his finger shouting, “You, you, you!” I guess that’s a basketball thing.

Something about seeing the guilty duly punished is exhilarating.Victims of crime often like to be present, or even speak, at the sentencing of those who have harmed them. Mystery writers know they need to bring the villain to a satisfying end as one of the expectations of that particular genre. (Early in my writing endeavors, I tried to write a short story where, at the final conflict, the detective died and the killer got away. Surprise! It didn’t go over so well.)

One of the favorite Bible stories we teach our children is the story of Jonah. Parents love the message of obedience. Kids like the image of the disobedient prophet in the belly of the great fish, tangled in seaweed with his hair burned off by digestive juices. But another important message in the book of Jonah is often overlooked. Why did Jonah head in the opposite direction? And what happened after he finally obeyed and went to Nineveh?

Nineveh was the capital city of Assyria, long hated by the Jews and others in that region for their brutality and torture. Yet, Jonah did not run the other way out of fear. And while he sparked a revival unrivaled in history, he was singularly unhappy about it. His prayer:

Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Therefore now, O LORD, take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live. Jonah 4:2b-3

Jonah left the repentant throng and slunk outside the city, still hoping to maybe see some good old-fashioned fire and brimstone. God’s mercy on this brutal enemy—seeing them repent and receive this undeserved grace and mercy—was so galling to the prophet he just wanted to die.

Occasionally news stories report the conversion of a heinous death-row inmate. And as Christians we wrestle with how some pedophile/mass murderer could now be deserving of heaven. Our very nature screams out that he should be punished. And often, on a more day-to-day basis, we look at those who, while not criminals in the sense of law, have hurt us or someone we love. While I have learned it’s not our job to retaliate, some part of me seems to cry out, “You saw that, God, right?”
And like Jonah, I’m tempted to sit and wait for divine retribution to fall.

Only, that’s not the right attitude—not for Jonah and not for me. While it is necessary for criminals go to jail, (I’m not suggesting the suspension of law and justice) the meting out of divine judgment is not an occasion that should trigger rejoicing. God’s heart is revealed in Ezekiel 33:11 when he says, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live:”

God’s desire is not retribution, but reconciliation. And as we align our will with his, that should become our desire as well.

Consider the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15), actually, his elder brother. When the repentant son returned, begging only to be made a servant in his father house, the elder brother was not all that happy with the father’s warm welcome. I’m sure he found the fatted calf a little hard to swallow. The father’s response:

Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found. Luke 15:31-32

Consider the blessings of this verse: We will ever be with the Father, and everything He has—all the indescribable riches of heaven—is ours as an inheritance, imparted upon us without merit. Why should we be upset when God, who has pardoned our sins and clothed us in his own righteousness, does the same with another poor sinner? And how can we resent mercy shown to an offending brother, when God has lavished it so freely upon us?

When we consider all that God has given us, and the price He paid to do it, bitterness and resentment toward others can only fade away.

Question of the day: What blessings of God are you rejoicing in today?

Barbara Early grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and facebook scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set. She taught secondary English and science for several years in a Christian school before home schooling her daughter successfully through high school. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy, and was a double finalist in the 2010 ACFW Genesis competition. When not reading or writing, she enjoys cooking, crafts, home-improvement projects, and spending time with her husband and daughter.

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