The MacGregor Legacy - From Scotland to the Carolinas

(Book 1 - For Love or Loyalty) (Book 2 - For Love or Country) (Book 3 - For Love or Liberty)

Path of Freedom, Quilts of Love series

1858 North Carolina - When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple..

Highland Sanctuary, (Highland series - Book 2)

1477 Scotland - A chieftain heir is hired to restore Briagh Castle and discovers a hidden village of outcasts who have created their own private sanctuary from the world.

Highland Blessings, (Book 1 - Highland series)

1473 Scotland - The story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise to his dying father.

Awakened Redemption (Inspirational Regency)

1815 England - A story that pierces the heart and captures the Regency era.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New Inspiration Is Coming

Hosting Several Guest Bloggers in the Fall!
I wanted to tell you about some great things coming up in the works of this blog. With the release of my new novel, Highland Sanctuary, my blog will be hosting several guest bloggers. All of these bloggers have one thing in common--including me--we all have special needs children and one has experienced the grief and loss of her child. 

If you or a friend needs uplifting inspiration, to know you're not alone in your struggles, to fellowship and converse with other parents who understand, please share this news with them. We are not alone as we fight for our children's rights and seek help and resources for them. Yes, our children may be different, but that is what makes them unique and beautiful. Consider joining this blog so you don't miss this opportunity to hear and share with other parents like you or your friends. We'll start posting these guest blog stories in October and throughout November.

New Spiritual E-Book Coming!
With much prayer and waiting upon the Lord, I've finally decided to release my first spiritual non-fiction book, God's Word is Sovereign. This book is meant to help people understand and dispel some questionable concepts in the Bible, why Christians believe what they believe, how to help one better debate nonbelievers, gain confidence in their faith in what they believe, and how to use the Bible as a guide for everyday life. 

It's concept is similar to the book The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel, but the writing is more simplistic so that it will not only appeal to adults, but to teens as well. It is truly spirit born. I'm not a pastor, a Sunday school teacher, a theologian, a college graduate with a Christian or biblical degree. Like Lee Strobel, I have a journalism degree from a liberal arts program. Yet, I felt that I was being obedient in writing it.

It is my hope that the Holy Spirit will speak to you as you read this book and that He will fill you with understanding and renewed inspiration in your walk with Him. 

While the exact release date is not yet set, God's Sovereign Word will release sometime in 2012. I'll provide several excerpts from it on my blog before it releases to give you an idea and feel for what this book is REALLY about. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour - "Wolves Among Us" by Ginger Garrett


#christianfiction
The
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
 
Wolves Among Us
David C. Cook; New edition (April 1, 2011)
by
 
Ginger Garrett



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ginger Garrett is the author of the Chronicles of the Scribes series (In the Shadow of Lions, In the Arms of Immortals, In the Eyes of Eternity), Dark Hour, and Beauty Secrets of the Bible. Chosen: The Lost Diaries of Queen Esther was recognized as one of the top five novels of 2006 by the ECPA.

Focusing on ancient women's history, Ginger creates novels and nonfiction resources that explore the lives of historical women. A frequent media guest and television host, Ginger has been interviewed by Fox News, Billy Graham's The Hour of Decision, The Harvest Show, 104.7 The Fish Atlanta, and many other outlets.

A graduate of Southern Methodist University with a degree in Theater, she is passionate about creating art from history. Ginger resides in Georgia with her husband and three children.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

This richly imagined tale takes readers to a tiny German town in the time of “the burnings,” when pious and heretic alike became victims of witch-hunting zealots. When a double murder stirs up festering fears, the village priest sends for help. But the charismatic Inquisitor who answers the call brings a deadly mix of spiritual fervor and self-deceptive evil. Under his influence, village fear, guilt, and suspicion of women take a deadly turn. In the midst of this nightmare, a doubting priest and an unloved wife—a secret friend of the recently martyred William Tyndale—somehow manage to hear another Voice…and discover the power of love over fear.

Dinfoil, Germany, 1538. In a little town on the edge of the Black Forest, a double murder stirs up festering fears. A lonely woman despairs of pleasing her husband and wonders why other women shun her. An overworked sheriff struggles to hold the town—and himself—together. A priest begins to doubt the power of the words he shares daily with his flock. And the charismatic Inquisitor who arrives to help—with a filthy witch in a cage as an object lesson—brings his own mix of lofty ideals and treacherous evil. Under his influence, ordinary village fears and resentments take a deadly turn. Terror mounts. Dark deeds come to light. And men and women alike discover not only what they are capable of, but who they are…and what it means to grapple for grace.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Wolves Among Us, go HERE.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

CFBA Blog Tour - "Hearts Aglow" by Tracie Peterson

#christianfiction
 
The
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
 
Hearts Aglow
Bethany House (March 1, 2011)
by
 
Tracie Peterson


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tracie Peterson is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 85 novels. She received her first book contract in November, 1992 and saw A Place To Belong published in February 1993 with Barbour Publishings' Heartsong Presents. She wrote exclusively with Heartsong for the next two years, receiving their readership's vote for Favorite Author of the Year for three years in a row.

In December, 1995 she signed a contract with Bethany House Publishers to co-write a series with author Judith Pella. Tracie now writes exclusively for Bethany House Publishers.

She teaches writing workshops at a variety of conferences on subjects such as inspirational romance and historical research.

Tracie was awarded the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award for 2007 Inspirational Fiction and her books have won numerous awards for favorite books in a variety of contests.

Making her home in Montana, this Kansas native enjoys spending time with family--especially her three grandchildren--Rainy, Fox and Max. She's active in her church as the Director of Women's Ministries, coordinates a yearly writer's retreat for published authors, and travels, as time permits, to research her books


ABOUT THE BOOK:

The future should be bright for Deborah Vandermark, who is now pursuing her interest in medicine alongside Dr. Christopher Clayton, who is courting her. But the lumber town is resistant to the idea of a woman physician, and she feels thwarted at every turn.

A more devastating blow occurs, however, when Christopher breaks off their relationship to return home to his troubled family. Despite her own love life going awry, Deborah is still intent to be a matchmaker for both her widowed mother and her brother, who has caught the eye of the spit-fire daughter of the local pastor.

But what will Deborah do when faced with the truth about Christopher's family? Is there hope for the two of them...or will Jake Wyeth's attentions finally catch Deborah's eye instead?

If you would like to read the first chapter of Hearts Aglow, go HERE.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Truth of a World Christian View

This week God has shown me more than I really want to know, and yet, I can't keep hiding from the truth, and yes, it affects ALL of us us--me--YOU--my child--YOUR children.

First, I started feeling a stirring in my spirit about a new focus in my life and some things that God is revealing. Then I saw a moving video on Facebook. After that, I attended a writing conference  where a morning devotion was given by Author & Columnist Dr. Dennis Hensley. His speech finally pulled it all into perspective. Dr. Hensley spoke on what is A Christian World View? Think about that. What does it REALLY mean? I'll do the best I can with the notes I took in paraphrasing his speech and adding my thoughts. (Photo on left is of my editor, Ramona Richards, and me at the Carolina Christian Writers Conference in Anderson, SC.)

For a while I've been feeling displaced, overwhelmed, and out of sorts with the BIG picture of what is happening in our world, our country, our society, our upcoming generations, and my roll in it. Afterall, what can we as individuals do? We have our jobs, our families, our personal relationship to keep alive with Christ--all that takes energy and focus--we can't get bogged down with the worries of the world and what we have no control over. Too much bad news is depressing and it keeps us down. We need to think positively--look at the bright side.

True--all of this is true--but with everything there is a level of balance--and risk. Nor can we continue to sink our heads in the sand, pretend that our world is all right as long as these things don't personally affect us and our family. We think, oh that's so sad. I'll pray for them and off we go back to our regularly scheduled life. It reminds me of Matthew West's song, My Own Little World.


Difference Between Where We've Come & Where We Are
We've entered into an Age of Enlightenment where humanism and relativism collide.

Pluralism - Truth is now a matter of cultural and indivdual expression.
  • Positive Impact - Acceptance of man's diversity. It's a rejection of the previous generations' belief that our society and culture are superior to others.
  • Negative Impact - No universal truth. Everyone's truth is based on what they believe.

Holism - Personal happiness and fulfillment is based upon integration with the world around us, particularly nature and Eucology.
  • Positive Impact - Awareness of taking better care of earth and creation such as animals, plants, the environment, and recycling.
  • Negative Impact - People go too far in worshiping the earth and creation. A perfect and seemingly innocent example is Disney's Pocahontas. How many people focus more on animal rights than those of unborn babies?

The Enlightenment Mind-Set Rejection - This is the first generation where people don't believe their children will have it better than their children. The American Dream is gone. 
  • Positive Impact - People are finally accepting responsibility for their actions - poor fiscal management, starting to live within their means. Greed has caused the housing market to collapse. Greed is causing the health care system to collapse for the poor and middle-class.
  • Negative Impact - People don't believe they can rise beyond their situation in their lifetime. Example: Students graduating college with a lifetime of debt before they can even get started on their lives, making it impossible for 20 and 30-somethings to buy homes as their parents did at their age.

Divergence - Variety and Multiplicity
  • Positive Impact - More acceptance of other cultures.
  • Negative Impact - People lack a standard to measure values and morals - anything goes. 

Power of Enlightenment
  • Positive Impact - Created new avenues of communication through so many different technologies (iphones, ipad, e-readers, social media, etc.)
  • Negative Impact - Because new generations don't accept divine law nor universal truth as previous generations, new generations accept a celluloid reflection as its true world and as its reality.

Imbalance comes into play when the negative begins to out-weigh the positives on every level. That is where we are. Secular authors and Hollywood are now producing stories mixed with bits of historical records, some that authors know to be incorrect, but write them as if they are real. Young generations are so impressionable that it becomes their ideal reality. This produces dangerous results:  
  1. Truth and fiction start to blur. People don't want to believe harsh realities, only what feels good 
  2. Pessimism is the reality of the future so decisions don't matter--live for the moment 
  3. Problems can't be solved, because people are looking for temporary solutions to their immediate symptoms and not getting to the root of what is causing the problems. 
"Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved." (Matthew 24:11-13)

Writers are like heroes that need to stand up and say what is right and tell how it is supposed to be. Show them a better way of life--the truth. Great writing is: 
  1. Multi-generational (think of the timeless classics) 
  2. Great deeds extend a challenge 
  3. Heroes show there is real hope 
  4. Heroes establish a standard and sets it in motion
You may think, but if I don't write wild things I may not get published or make the sales I want. True.

Remember the risk part? Jesus was killed for giving his message, but they couldn't kill the message! The same could be said of his disciples, and other great leaders--who are real heroes. 

Heroes RISK it all, to GAIN it all.

Christian World View
  1. Re-ignites the candles of hope
  2. Prompts people to take risks for the right reasons
  3. Encourages others to break free of negative bondage
  4. Shows today's ways are not set in stone--there is a BETTER way
"For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11:29)

Have YOU been called to write for God? If so, take up your mantle and WRITE!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wild Card Book Tour - "A Trail of Ink" by Mel Starr

#christianfiction, read the 1st chapter!
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Monarch Books (February 28, 2011)

***Special thanks to Cat Hoort, Trade Marketing Manager, Kregel Publications and Noelle Pedersen, Manager, Lion Hudson Distribution, Kregel Publications for sending me a review copy.***
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Mel Starr was born and grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan. After graduating with a MA in history from Western Michigan University in 1970, he taught history in Michigan public schools for thirty-nine years, thirty-five of those in Portage, MI, where he retired in 2003 as chairman of the social studies department of Portage Northern High School. Mel and his wife, Susan, have two daughters and seven grandchildren.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Some valuable books have been stolen from Master John Wyclif, the well known scholar and Bible translator. He calls upon his friend and former pupil, Hugh de Singleton, to investigate. Hugh's investigation leads him to Oxford where he again encounters Kate, the only woman who has tempted him to leave bachelor life behind, but Kate has another serious suitor. As Hugh's pursuit of Kate becomes more successful, mysterious accidents begin to occur. Are these accidents tied to the missing books, or to his pursuit of Kate?

One of the stolen books turns up alongside the drowned body of a poor Oxford scholar. Another accident? Hugh certainly doesn’t think so, but it will take all of his surgeon’s skills to prove.

So begins another delightful and intriguing tale from the life of Hugh de Singleton, surgeon in the medieval village of Bampton. Masterfully researched by medieval scholar Mel Starr, the setting of the novel can be visited and recognized in modern-day England. Enjoy more of Hugh’s dry wit, romantic interests, evolving faith, and dogged determination as he pursues his third case as bailiff of Bampton.


Product Details:
List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Monarch Books (February 28, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1854249746
ISBN-13: 978-1854249746 
  AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

I had never seen Master John Wyclif so afflicted. He was rarely found at such a loss when in disputation with other masters. He told me later, when I had returned them to him, that it was as onerous to plunder a bachelor scholar’s books as it would be to steal another man’s wife. I had, at the time, no way to assess the accuracy of that opinion, for I had no wife and few books.


But I had come to Oxford on that October day, Monday, the twentieth, in the year of our Lord 1365, to see what progress I might make to remedy my solitary estate. I left my horse at the stable behind the Stag and Hounds and went straightaway to Robert Caxton’s shop, where the stationer’s comely daughter, Kate, helped attract business from the bachelor scholars, masters, clerks, and lawyers who infest Oxford like fleas on a hound.


My pretended reason to visit Caxton’s shop was to purchase a gathering of parchment and a fresh pot of ink. I needed these to conclude my record of the deaths of Alan the beadle and of Henry atte Bridge. Alan’s corpse was found, three days before Good Friday, near to St Andrew’s Chapel, to the east of Bampton. And Henry, who it was who slew Alan, was found in a wood to the north of the town. As bailiff of Bampton Castle it was my business to sort out these murders, which I did, but not before I was attacked on the road returning from Witney and twice clubbed about the head in nocturnal churchyards. Had I known such assaults lay in my future, I might have rejected Lord Gilbert Talbot’s offer to serve as his bailiff at Bampton Castle and remained but Hugh the surgeon, of Oxford High Street.


Kate promised to prepare a fresh pot of ink, which I might have next day, and when she quit the shop to continue her duties in the workroom I spoke to her father. Robert Caxton surely knew the effect Kate had upon young men. He displayed no surprise when I asked leave to court his daughter.


I had feared raised eyebrows at best, and perhaps a refusal. I am but a surgeon and a bailiff. Surgeons own little prestige in Oxford, full of physicians as it is, and few honest men wish to see a daughter wed to a bailiff. There were surely sons of wealthy Oxford burghers, and young masters of the law, set on a path to wealth, who had eyes for the comely Kate. But Caxton nodded agreement when I requested his permission to pay court to his daughter. Perhaps my earlier service to mend his wounded back helped my suit.


I left the stationer’s shop with both joy and apprehension. The joy you will understand, or would had you seen Kate and spent time in her presence. I was apprehensive because next day I must begin a thing for which I had no training and in which I had little experience. While at Balliol College I was too much absorbed in my set books to concern myself with the proper way to impress a lass, and none of those volumes dealt with the subject. Certainly the study of logic avoided the topic. Since then my duties as surgeon and bailiff allowed small opportunity to practice discourse with a maiden. And there are few females of my age and station in Bampton.


I made my way from Caxton’s shop on Holywell Street to Catte Street and thence to the gate of Canterbury Hall, on Schidyard Street. As I walked I composed speeches in my mind with which I might impress Kate Caxton. I had forgotten most of these inventions by next day. This was just as well.


Master John Wyclif, former Master of Balliol College and my teacher there, was newly appointed Warden of Canterbury Hall. Several months earlier, frustrated at my inability to discover who had slain Alan the beadle and Henry atte Bridge, I had called upon Master John to lament my ignorance and seek his wisdom. He provided encouragement, and an empty chamber in the Hall where I might stay the night, safe from the snores and vermin at the Stag and Hounds.


When I left him those months earlier he enjoined me to call when I was next in Oxford and tell him of the resolution of these mysteries. At the time of his request I was not sure there ever would be a resolution to the business.


But there was, and so I sought Master John to tell him of it, and seek again his charity and an empty cell for the night. The porter recognized me, and sent me to Master John’s chamber. I expected to find him bent over a book, as was his usual posture when I called. But not so. He opened the door to my knock, recognized me, and blurted, “Master Hugh… they’ve stolen my books.”


The greeting startled me. I peered over the scholar’s shoulder as if I expected to see the miscreants and the plundered volumes. I saw Master John’s table, and a cupboard where his books were kept. Both were bare. He turned to follow my gaze.


“Gone,” he whispered. “All of them.”


“Who?” I asked stupidly. Had Master John known that, he would have set after the thieves and recovered the books. Or sent the sheriff to do so.


“I know not,” Wyclif replied. “I went to my supper three days past. When I returned the books were gone… even the volume I left open on my table.”


Master John is not a wealthy man. He has the living of Fillingham, and the prebend of Aust, but these provide a thin subsistence for an Oxford master of arts at work on a degree in theology. The loss of books accumulated in a life of study would be a blow to any scholar, rich or poor.


“The porter saw no stranger enter or leave the Hall while we supped,” Wyclif continued. “I went next day to the sheriff, but Sir John has other matters to mind.”


“Sir John?”


“Aye. Roger de Cottesford is replaced. The new high sheriff is Sir John Trillowe.”


“He offered no aid?”


“He sent a sergeant ’round to the stationers in the town, to see did any man come to them with books he offered to sell. Two I borrowed from Nicholas de Redyng. He will grieve to learn they are lost.”


“And the stationers… they have been offered no books?”


“None of mine missing. And Sir John has no interest, I think, in pursuing my loss further.”


The colleges have always wished to rule themselves, free of interference from the town and its government. No doubt the sheriff was minded to allow Canterbury Hall the freedom to apprehend its own thief, without his aid or interference.


“How many?”


“My books? Twenty… and the two borrowed.”


I performed some mental arithmetic. Master John read my thoughts.


“The books I borrowed from Master Nicholas… one was Bede’s Historia Ecclesiastica, worth near thirty shillings. One of mine was of paper, a cheap-set book, but the others were of parchment and well bound.”


“Your loss is great, then. Twenty pounds or more.”


“Aye,” Wyclif sighed. “Four were of my own devising. Some might say they were worth little. But the others… Aristotle, Grossteste, Boethius, all gone.”


Master John sighed again, and gazed about his chamber as if the stolen books were but misplaced, and with closer inspection of dark corners might yet be discovered.


“I am pleased to see you,” Master John continued. “I had thought to send for you.”


“For me?”


“Aye. I have hope that you will seek my stolen books and see them returned to me.”


“Me? Surely the sheriff…”


“Sir John is not interested in any crime for which the solution will not bring him a handsome fine. Rumor is he paid King Edward sixty pounds for the office. He will be about recouping his investment, not seeking stolen books.


“And you are skilled at solving mysteries,” Wyclif continued. “You found who ’twas in Lord Gilbert’s cesspit, and unless I mistake me, you know by now who killed your beadle and the fellow found slain in the forest. Well, do you not?”


“Aye. It was as I thought. Henry atte Bridge, found dead in the wood, slew Alan the beadle. Alan had followed him during the night as Henry took a haunch of venison poached from Lord Gilbert’s forest, to the curate at St Andrew’s Chapel.”


“Venison? To a priest?”


“Aye… a long story.”


“I have nothing but time, and no books with which to fill it. Tell me.”


So I told Master John of the scandal of the betrayed confessional of the priest at St Andrew’s Chapel. And of the blackmail he plotted with Henry atte Bridge – and Henry’s brother, Thomas – of those who confessed to poaching, adultery, and cheating at their business.


“I came to Oxford this day to buy more ink and parchment so I may write of these felonies while details remain fresh in my memory.”


“And what stationer receives your custom?”


“Robert Caxton. It was you who sent me first to Caxton’s shop. You knew I would find more there than books, ink, and parchment.”


“I did? Yes, I remember now telling you of the new stationer, come from Cambridge with his daughter… ah, that is your meaning. I am slow of wit these days. I think of nothing but my books.”


“You did not guess I might be interested in the stationer’s daughter?”


“Nay,” Wyclif grimaced. “I surprise myself for my lack of perception. You are a young man with two good eyes. The stationer’s daughter…”


“Kate,” I said.


“Aye, Kate is a winsome lass.”


“She is. And this day I have gained her father’s permission to seek her as my wife.”


Master John’s doleful expression brightened. The corners of his mouth and eyes lifted into a grin. “I congratulate you, Hugh.”


“Do not be too quick to do so. I must woo and win her, and I fear for my ability.”


“I have no competency in such matters. You are on your own. ’Tis your competency solving puzzles I seek.”


“But I am already employed.”


Master John’s countenance fell. “I had not considered that,” he admitted. “Lord Gilbert requires your service… and pays well for it, I imagine.”


“Aye. I am well able to afford a wife.”


“But could not the town spare you for a week or two, until my books are found? Surely a surgeon… never mind. You see how little I heed other men’s troubles when I meet my own.”


“All men think first of themselves. Why should you be different?” I asked.


“Why? Because my misplaced esteem tells me I must. Do you not wish the same, Hugh? To be unlike the commons? They scratch when and where they itch and belch when and where they will and the letters on a page are as foreign to them as Malta.”


“But… I remember a lecture…”


Wyclif grimaced.


“… when you spoke of all men being the same when standing before God. No gentlemen, no villeins, all sinners.”


“Hah; run through by my own pike. ’Tis true. I recite the same sermon each year, but though we be all sinners, and all equally in need of God’s grace, all sins are not, on earth, equal, as they may be in God’s eyes. Else all punishments would be the same, regardless of the crime.”


“And what would be a fitting penalty for one who stole twenty books?”


Wyclif scowled again. “Twenty-two,”  he muttered. “My thoughts change daily,” he continued. “When I first discovered the offense I raged about the Hall threatening the thief with a noose.”


“And now?”


Master John smiled grimly. “I have thought much on that. Was the thief a poor man needing to keep his children from starvation, I might ask no penalty at all, so long as my books be returned. But if the miscreant be another scholar, with means to purchase his own books, I would see him fined heavily and driven from Oxford, and never permitted to study here again, or teach, be he a master.


“Both holy and secular wisdom,” Wyclif mused, “teach that we must not do to another what we find objectionable when done to us. No man should hold a place at Oxford who denies both God and Aristotle.”


“You think an Oxford man has done this?”


Wyclif chewed upon a fingernail, then spoke. “Who else would want my books, or know their worth?”


“That, it seems to me, is the crux of the matter,” I replied. “Some scholar wished to add to his library, or needed money, and saw your books as a way to raise funds.”


As it happened, there was a third reason a man might wish to rob Master John of his books, but that explanation for the theft did not occur to me until later.


“I am lost,” Wyclif sighed. “I am a master with no books, and I see no way to retrieve them.”


I felt guilty that, for all his aid given to me, I could offer no assistance to the scholar. I could but commiserate, cluck my tongue, and sit in his presence with a long face.


The autumn sun set behind the old Oxford Castle keep while we talked. Wyclif was about to speak again when a small bell sounded from across the courtyard.


“Supper,” he explained, and invited me to follow him to the refectory.


Scholars at Canterbury Hall are fed well, but simply. For this supper there were loaves of maslin –  wheat and barley – cheese, a pease pottage flavored with bits of pork, and tankards of watered ale. I wondered at the pork, for some of the scholars were Benedictines. Students peered up from under lowered brows as we entered. They all knew of the theft, and, I considered later, suspected each other of complicity in the deed.


A watery autumn sun struggled to rise above the forest and water meadow east of Oxford when I awoke next morning. Wyclif bid me farewell with stooped shoulders and eyes dark from lack of sleep. I wished the scholar well, and expressed my prayer that his books be speedily recovered. Master John believes in prayer, but my promise to petition our Lord Christ on his behalf seemed to bring him small comfort. I think he would rather have my time and effort than my prayers. Or would have both. Prayers may be offered cheaply. They require small effort from men, and much from God. The Lord Christ has told us we may ask of Him what we will, but I suspect He would be pleased to see men set to their work, and call upon Him only when tasks be beyond them.


I thought on this as I walked through the awakening lanes of Oxford to Holywell Street and Robert Caxton’s shop. Was it really my duty to Lord Gilbert which prevented me from seeking Wyclif’s stolen books, or was I too slothful to do aught but pray for their return? I did not like the answer which came to me.


As I approached the stationer’s shop I saw a tall young man standing before it, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. The fellow was no scholar. He wore a deep red cotehardie, cut short to show a good leg. His chauces were parti-colored, grey and black, and his cap ended in a long yellow liripipe coiled stylishly about his head. The color of his cap surprised me. All who visit London know that the whores of that city are required by law to wear yellow caps so respectable maidens and wives be left unmolested on the street. He was shod in fine leather, and the pointed toes of his shoes curled up in ungainly fashion.


The fellow seemed impatient; while I watched he strode purposefully past Caxton’s shop, then reversed his steps and walked past in the opposite direction, toward my approach. I drew closer to the shop, so that at each turn I could see his face more clearly. His countenance and beard were dark, as were his eyes. The beard was neatly trimmed, and his eyes peered at my approach from above an impressive nose – although, unlike mine, his nose pointed straight out at the world, whereas mine turns to the dexter side. He seemed about my own age – twenty-five years or so. He was broad of shoulder and yet slender, but good living was beginning to produce a paunch.


I slowed my pace as I approached the shuttered shop. Caxton would open his business soon, and I assumed this dandy needed parchment, ink, or a book, although he did not seem the type to be much interested in words on a page.


I stood in the street, keeping the impatient coxcomb company, until Robert Caxton opened his shop door and pushed up his shutters to begin business for the day. The stationer looked from me to his other customer and I thought his eyes widened. I bowed to the other client and motioned him to precede me into the shop. He was there before me.


The morning sun was low in the southeast, and did not penetrate far into the shop. But dark as the place was, I could see that Kate was not within. He of the red cotehardie saw the same, and spoke before I could.


“Is Mistress Kate at leisure?” he asked.


Caxton glanced at me, then answered, “Near so. Preparing a pot of ink in the workroom. Be done shortly.”


“I’ll wait,” the fellow said with a smile. “’Tis a pleasant morning. And if Kate has no other concerns, I’d have her walk with me along the water meadow.”


He might as well have swatted me over my skull with a ridge pole. My jaw went slack and I fear both Caxton and this unknown suitor got a fine view of my tonsils.


Robert Caxton was not so discomfited that he forgot his manners. He introduced me to Sir Simon Trillowe. A knight. And of some relation to the new sheriff of Oxford, I guessed.


When he learned that I was but a surgeon and bailiff to Lord Gilbert Talbot, Sir Simon nodded briefly and turned away, his actions speaking what polite words could not: I was beneath his rank and unworthy of his consideration.


“We heard naught of you for many months, Master Hugh,” Caxton remarked.


This was true. I had neglected pursuit of Kate Caxton while about Lord Gilbert’s business in Bampton. And, to be true, I feared Kate might dismiss my suit should I press it. A man cannot be disappointed in love who does not seek it.


“No doubt a bailiff has much to occupy his time,” the stationer continued.


Sir Simon doubtless thought that I was but a customer, not that I was in competition with him for the fair Kate. He would learn that soon enough.


The door to Caxton’s workroom was open. Kate surely heard this exchange, which was a good thing. It gave her opportunity to compose herself. A moment later she entered the shop, carrying my pot of promised ink, and bestowed a tranquil smile upon both me and Sir Simon. I smiled in return, Trillowe did not. Perhaps he had guessed already that it was not ink I most wished to take from Caxton’s shop.


“Mistress Kate,” Sir Simon stepped toward her as she passed through the door. “’Tis a pleasant autumn morn… there will be few more before winter. Perhaps we might walk the path along the Cherwell… if your father can spare you for the morning.”


With these words Trillowe turned to the stationer. Caxton shrugged a reply.


“Good.” Sir Simon offered his arm and, with a brief smile and raised brows in my direction, Kate set the pot of ink on her father’s table and took Trillowe’s arm. They departed the shop wordlessly.


Caxton apparently thought some explanation in order. “You didn’t call through the summer. Kate thought you’d no interest. I told her last night you’d asked to pay court. But Sir Simon’s been by a dozen times since Lammas Day… others, too.”


“Others?”


“Aye. My Kate does draw lads to the shop. None has asked me might they pay court, though. But for you.”


“Not Sir Simon?”


“Nay. Second son of the sheriff, and a knight. He’ll not ask leave of one like me to do aught.”


“And Kate returns his interest?”


Caxton shrugged. “She’s walked out with him three times now. A knight, mind you. And son of the sheriff. Can’t blame a lass for that.”


“No,” I agreed.


“Can’t think how his father’d be pleased, though. A stationer’s daughter! A scandal in Oxford Castle when word gets out, as it surely has, by now,” Caxton mused.


“Aye. What lands his father may hold will pass to his brother. The sheriff will want Sir Simon seeking a wife with lands of her own.”


I hoped that was so. But if a second or third son acts to displease his father, it is difficult to correct him. How can a man disinherit a son who is due to receive little or nothing anyway? So if a son courting Kate Caxton displeased the sheriff of Oxford, such offense might escape retribution. This thought did not bring me joy.


Monday, March 14, 2011

New Contest with Inspirational Category

The Volusia County Romance Writers (VCRW), a chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA), is opening a new category for published inspirational writers in their Laurel Wreath contest. The contest is judged by booksellers and librarians, and it's a great opportunity to get your work in front of them. Please keep in mind that you must be a member of RWA before entering.

Books published in 2010 are eligible. You may enter as many books as you like, but three copies of each title must be mailed to the category coordinator and they will not be returned. The entry fee is $20 per title. A Laurel Wreath pendant and certificates will be awarded to winners in each category. The entry deadline is Aug 31, 2011.

For more information, including eligibility on e-books, please visit VCRW.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

CFBA Book Tour - "When All My Dreams Come True" by Janelle Mowery

The
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
 
is introducing
When All My Dreams Come True
 
Harvest House Publishers (February 1, 2011)
by
Janelle Mowery



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Beginning in 1998, Janelle Mowery coordinated and wrote for the Children’s Ministry of a Christian website called The Invisible Connection. When the holder of that site discontinued the ministry and website in the year 2000, she began writing inspirational fiction romance novels.

Janelle became a member of American Christian Fiction Writers in the year 2002 and is an active member and leader in one of their critique groups, which has provided many opportunities for growth and development. In 2003, she entered her first novel in the Noble Theme contest and was named one of the top ten finalists in the historical category. In 2004, she had a short story titled ‘A Fair Chance’ published in the e-magazine, Romancing the Christian Heart. In 2005, her third novel, entered in the San Gabriel Writers’ League ‘Writing Smarter’ Contest, won first place. Also, Janelle’s fifth novel made it to the top ten finalists in the Noble Theme contest.

In 2006, she signed her first contract with Barbour Publishing in their Heartsong Presents Mysteries line. The novel, Where the Truth Lies, which she co-authored with Elizabeth Ludwig, released in spring of 2008. The second and third mysteries of the series, Died in the Wool and A Black Die Affair, is set for release in 2011.

Janelle has signed with Harvest House for a historical series set in Colorado. Release of the first book is set for early 2011. She has also signed with Summerside Press. Her novel, Love Finds You in Silver City, Idaho, released in October 2010.

Janelle has been married twenty-one years and is the mother of two sons. She is a member of Sandy Point Bible Church and serves as Treasurer. She also assists in the church’s teen program.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Bobbie McIntyre dreams of running a ranch of her own. Raised without a mother and having spent most of her time around men, she knows more about wrangling than acting like a lady. The friendship of her new employer awakens a desire to learn more about presenting her feminine side, but ranch life keeps getting in the way.

Ranch owner Jace Kincaid figures the Lord is testing his faith when a female wrangler shows up looking for work. Bobbie has an uncanny way of getting under his skin, though, and he’s surprised when she finds a home next to his heart. But when his cattle begin to go missing and his wranglers are in danger from some low-down cattle thief, can Jace trust God, even if it may mean giving up on his dreams?

An adventurous novel of faith, hope, and love in the Wild West.

If you would like to read the first chapter of When All My Dreams Come True, go HERE..

Monday, March 07, 2011

Is the Internet a Distraction to Your Writing?

I've heard lots of people complaining how email, blogging, Facebook, and other necessary evils are keeping them from getting their writing done. This isn't about the Internet. It's about your self-discipline.

If checking your email and Facebook page first thing in the morning is a habit you've gotten into, you need to break this habit. It makes you feel obligated to answer people and respond to them right then and there. Before you know it, a couple of hours have gone by and no writing has been accomplished. Instead, use these things as a reward after you've reached a small writing milestone. 

Put Yourself on a Schedule
Discipline yourself to write 1,000 or 2,000 words in the morning before you allow yourself to check email or Facebook. Once you reach this writing goal, don't stop just because you've reached it--especially if you're on a roll with your story. 

Don't use the excuse that you need to do research on the Internet before you go on with your story. Throw in a sentence or word as a place holder. Highlight it in a different color, make a notation of the page number and move on. Research is a necessity, but it can also be another excuse to play on the Internet.

Allow one hour for Facebook and email--no more. Do you really need to answer every email? Some emails definitely require a response because people are asking for information or your input on something. Say what needs to be said. Writing a novel in an email isn't necessary. Read over it, make necessary changes and corrections, and move on. If you feel the need to acknowledge an email because you may have had issues with spam filters in the past, type something simple and quick such as "I appreciate it. Thanks." Move on. 

Block Facebook games. They are time wasters. If you enjoy them, limit yourself to only play them on weekends or late at night after you've finished your work and too tired to work. Respond to comments and posts on your page first. Then scroll through the newswire and hit the "like" button more than leaving comments, except for the ones you really want to comment on. Take similar action steps for Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Shelfari, and Shoutlife. You can also link these accounts and do things from one place to save time, but that is another blog post.

Shut off noise distractions. You know, the little nifty sounds that your iphone or Droid might use to alert you that you've just received a new email, or FB or Twitter comment. Same thing with your computer. Turn off the sound alerts. They only serve as distractions while you're trying to write. 

Research on the Internet
Make yourself write another 1,000 to 2,000 words before you begin your Internet Research. Once you complete this goal, write down several search terms before you begin your search. This will help you remember what terms you've already used and you can scratch them off. It keeps you from wasting more time and typing in phrases you've already used. 

These are just a few discipline techniques that will help you not waste time. What other ideas have you used or what other suggestions do you have?

Sunday, March 06, 2011

ACFW Seeking Librarians & Booksellers for Carol Awards

ACFW's 2011 Carol Awards are actively recruiting librarians and booksellers who are interested in judging the best in Christian fiction for the year 2010. If you are, or know of, a bookseller or librarian, who would be interested, please contact Mindy Obenhaus at carolawards@acfw.com.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Book Review - "Love on a Dime" by Cara Lynn James

About the Book

Newport, Rhode Island, 1899, is a place of shimmering waves, sleek yachts, and ladies of leisure. Of opulent mansions that serve as summer cottages for the rich and famous. Home of railroad magnates and banking tycoons--dashing young men and the women who aspire to marry them.

But it's not the place for lady novelists. Especially not those who pen disreputable dime novels. This poses a problem for Lilly Westbrook, because that's exactly what she does.

No one in Lilly's social set knows she pens fiction under the nom de plume Fannie Cole. Not her family or the wealthy young man about to propose to her. And especially not Jackson Grail, the long-lost beau who just bought her publishing company...and who stirs her heart more than she cares to admit.

But Lilly must put aside her feelings and follow the path that will maintain her family's social stature and provide the financial security that everyone is depending on.

Now Lilly faces a double dilemma. Can she continue to protect her secret identity? And will she have the courage to choose the man who will risk it all just to win her heart?

My Review
This is a charming and elegant novel with an air of romance and intrigue on the brink of secrets about to be revealed. Lily Westbrook turned to writing dime novels when Jackson Grail broke her heart six years ago, so it's understandable why she wouldn't want to turn to him for help when she's being blackmailed--even if he is her new publisher and the one person who could help. While the rest of her family seems to be playing Christian to the tune of Society's standards, Lily is really living out her biblical beliefs with the one exception of deceiving her family of her writing. This one spiritual flaw helped her character be more believable and real. 

As a young man, Jackson Grail knew her parents wouldn't approve of him as a poor boy, so he left Lily to go to college, build a business, and make himself worthy of her. Six years later he returns to find her practically engaged to a wealthy college chum he never much liked. His goal is to win her back and build his business, but Lily fears that she can't trust him after what happened. In her eyes, he puts money and success above people and love. 

The characters' actions, background, and goals are believable. The conflict is appropriate and faith plays an integral part of the storyline. This is the kind of story where the plot builds and builds to one climatic point toward the end. There isn't much mystery as the reader knows where everyone stands on the issues, but there is the anticipation of how it will all play out. As a reader I was satisfied with the ending and would definitely recommend this book.

Learn more about the author, Cara Lynn James

Buy the book on Amazon.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Pendulum of Mood Swings

I'll be honest, I try my best to be good, but it's those wretched mood swings that get me. My moods can swing from one end of the pendulum to the other in a matter of seconds. 

Anyone else ever have to deal with mood swings? 

If I catch my behavior, I can excuse myself to visit the restroom, go to my bedroom, or somewhere that affords a bit of privacy so I can pray for help, refocus my thoughts, and adjust my attitude before going back out and trying again. I may have to swallow my pride and apologize to others if I've allowed my mood to affect others.

While we may not be able to control other people's behavior, we can affect their moods. How often have you tried to say something positive to encourage a friend who may be depressed, sad or grieving. You are trying to influence their mood. How many times have you been in a great mood, whistling or singing, enjoying the sunrise, and someone with a rotten mood say something sarcastic or rude to you? You try not to let it bother you, but they manage to dampen your spirits just the same. They've affected your mood. 

People's mood swings whether good or bad influence others. Ever had someone ask, "How are you this morning?" Were you tempted to tell them the truth? I have. But we hold back because deep down we know they don't want to hear the details, they're just trying to be polite and make small talk. 

Sometimes it's tempting to try and justify our behavior if we've had to deal with a difficult person. Perhaps we've let their snide comments go for days and one day they just happen to catch us in the wrong mood and we explode. It would be so easy to move on telling ourselves that they deserved it--brought it on themselves. But if we are trying to live a Godly life and walk in the commandments that Jesus gives us, does it make it right to resort to the same level of behavior?

Jesus would tell us, "No". 

Satan loves to attack us where and when we're weak. It seems as soon as we wake up on the wrong side of the bed with a headache or some other body ache, or we've just received bad news, or an allergy attack hits, or we've had a bad circumstance occur, the devil brings along someone he has access to--and BAAM we're being harassed and annoyed by some idiot who wants to be difficult. 

Um, go ahead and wave your hand with me. I think we've all been there. 

Now let's share some scripture or advice that helps us get out of those mood swings or gives us an attitude adjustment. What has worked for you in the past?