Thursday, October 23, 2014
Anne: Please help me welcome Sherri Wilson Johnson,
Sherri: As a little girl, I dreamed of being a wife and mother. I was born in 1966, and there wasn't much else for a little girl to aspire to be. I loved my Legos and built houses all the time, complete with a room for all the babies I'd have one day. I played with Barbies and pretended to be Ken's wife. Of course, when I got my Barbie airplane, I have to admit, pretending to be the flight attendant (or stewardess, as they were called then) was a guilty pleasure of mine. My dad didn't let my mom work even after we were grown and it was pretty clear that he thought I'd start an occupation after graduating while waiting for my prince charming to come and sweep me off my feet. Although I wanted to be the next big nightly news anchorwoman, I let my mind settle on "just" being a wife and mom.
Along came my prince charming a few years later, and I couldn't wait to be his wife. I wasn't sure if I wanted to jump right in and start having babies, but I could definitely see what our future was going to look like. We owned a company and worked side-by-side every evening cleaning office buildings. We spent late nights at Dunkin' Donuts, came home, and snuggled until the morning light. In less than a year, I became pregnant (surprise) and the lazy days of hanging out together and the carefree nights of working alongside one another until 2:00 a.m. came to a grinding halt.
Totally unprepared for motherhood, I kind of freaked out. I felt alone and wanted to go back to being a couple. But being a strong-willed, second-born child, I sucked it up, put on my big girl pants, and gave it my all. The only problem: I didn't know how to divide my attention between my husband and my daughter, and I didn't know how to ask him for help without looking like a wimp of a mother. Life was not turning out to be as fun and footloose as I'd dreamed it'd be when I was a little girl.
In my latest novel, To Laugh Once More, a Victorian Romance set in the South, Lydia, the heroine, suffers from this same kind of disillusionment. She thought marriage would be one big happy whirlwind of romance, complete with travels around the world and a houseful of children, all of which a governess would tend to. But three years in, she realizes that she feels no different than she did when she was a young debutante on her father's plantation waiting for a beau to sweep her off her feet. Married to the man of her dreams, she's still childless and is often left at home for days at a time while he travels on business and "lives the life." She pitches quite a few hissy-fits trying to get her way and life doesn't do her any favors.
What do I have in common with Lydia? Well, we both suffered from a heavy (not healthy) dose of selfishness in our early years. We also didn't take into account the plans God had for our lives. Instead, we had an idea of how it was supposed to go; and when it didn't go that way, well, let's just say it wasn't pretty. While I'm not one to act outwardly in a dramatic fashion, pitching fits and screaming and letting everyone know how I feel about a situation that didn't go my way, I'm still guilty of getting my point across. I just often do it with silent treatments or huffing and puffing for a day or two.
Throughout my twenty-six years of marriage, I've learned to ride the tide a little more. Take everything in stride. Stay calm when the raging waters wash over me. I've learned to hold my breath and to keep my eyes focused upward because every storm passes. Once the storms pass, it's easier to see the blessings that have been placed in my life. I'm able to see the treasure it is to be "just" a wife and mother.
How has it turned out for me so far? Well, my daughter is now twenty-three. Her brother is twenty. My husband is still with me, and that makes me happy. We're back to being the carefree couple we were years ago, although we don't work alongside each other in our own company. Maybe one day. I'm not an anchorwoman, but I am a published author, which was truly my dream all along.
Do I have the picket fence? Sure. But it doesn’t look like what I thought it would forty years ago. There's splinters. There's a few nails poking out that might stick you if you're not careful. It needs to be repaired and sprayed with a fresh coat of paint every now and then. But the One who built the house and who built the fence that keeps us safely tucked in each other's arms keeps us set on a firm foundation with a solid roof over our heads. I'm thankful that we let God build our marriage from the ground up. I'm thankful that He stood in the gap on the days I didn't much feel like being a wife and mother. When you build your marriage on the Solid Rock of Jesus, you can endure and even flourish throughout all of life's storms.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Do you remember the book To Dance Once More? This sweet story is a sequel to that. We take up the life of Lydia Barrington Scarbrough and her husband Hamilton once more.
Lydia wants to be a good wife to Hamilton, but her desire to be a socialite queen, a woman of worth, a teacher, and a mother are outstripping that desire. She butts heads with her husband over moving from Florida to Atlanta--but there really isn't a choice. His source of income evaporates in Florida, and he's been offered a lucrative position in Atlanta.
She wants people to let her fit into society there, but she is shunned over and over. He wants of fit in He loses his job in Atlanta when he refuses to have a liaison with the boss's niece, so they move to Marietta.
At first they are accepted and invited everywhere, but when Lydia makes friends with a black woman, that all changes. Will their marriage survive the notoriety?
Only you can determine that. The book is very reasonably priced at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble, so it won't take you much to find out.
Monday, October 20, 2014
And he strengthened himself, built up all the wall that was broken, raised it up to the towers, and built another wall outside; also he repaired the Millo in the City of David, and made weapons and shields in abundance. (2 Chronicles 32:5, NKJV)
A bunch of years back, some people hurt my feelings pretty bad--people that I trusted. Not just once--a few times. The details aren't important, but the wall I built because of getting my feelers hurt is. Never mind that I earned much of their scorn Walls can be a good thing to keep out bad influences, but in my case I built it to keep even good things out. Including God.
I slid down behind my wall, making sure nobody could get close enough to hurt me again. Whenever I found another brick, I'd build the wall a little higher. At first there were windows so I could see out--but other people could also see in and observe how dirty I'd become. More bricks.
But I was lonely and thirsty behind my wall. I wanted someone to talk to--but who could I trust? My wall became a prison.
Outside my wall was a well, deep and pure and cool. On the edge of the well, Jesus sat, dipper in His hand, just waiting. I would have to leave the safety of my wall to get that drink of water.
Jesus always invited, never demanded. He waited for me to come to Him.
It's taken time to make a hole big enough to come out. I had to sneak out when no one but Jesus was looking because of the dirt all over me. Once I got to Him, it all changed, because the water He gave me made me clean.
But I still dashed back behind the wall--even though I was clean, I didn't want anyone but Jesus close to me.
Then I told my family how dirty I'd been--they forgave me and I felt a little cleaner. While they were around, I would come out. And I met Jack, but I told him how dirty I was so he could save himself from me. Instead, he came inside my wall and held me tight. A few more bricks fell off the wall, and I married him.
I can't say all of the wall is gone. A few bricks still hide me when I'm afraid people might see the old dirt--then they might not like me any more. When will the last of the wall disappear? Maybe never. But maybe I won't ever lock out the ones who love me again.
Lord, Please help me. I need to know that You will protect me when a wall won't. I need to learn how and who to trust. Help me to step outside my wall and drink from Your water. Help me remember I can always trust You, above all. Amen.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
I'm saying this is a "sorta new" release because all of the eight short stories have already been released individually in ebook format (and are still available in that format). Now all the stories have been combined into one delightful book.
Each of the stories have common threads: They are all Christian-based, they are all set in a small fictional town called Sweetland, and some of the characters meander from one story to the next. We (the authors) tried very hard to coordinate scenes, places, and events. It has been challenging, but oh so much fun! These ladies put their hearts into the stories. Some are romances, some suspense, and some heart-warming--okay, they're all heartwarming, but you know what I mean. And some are a combination thereof.
The book is still pretty economical--Amazon has the e-version for $5.99 and the paperback for $14.24; My Helping Hands Press has paperback copies for $14.99 less sale discount (until Nov. 6) of twenty percent = $2.99: Total $12.00! The code word to enter for this sale is "Dragon." By the way--their 20 percent discount applies to everything in the store--so buy lots of all my books there. :)
Saturday, October 18, 2014
To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to love, and a time to hate; A time of war, and a time of peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:8, NKJV)
This will be the last of this series, and I'm going to miss this great section of the book of Ecclesiates.
Friday, October 17, 2014
Norma Gail, author of Land of My Dreams
Who doesn’t love a Scottish accent?
When my husband and I took an anniversary trip to Scotland in 2006, I fell in love with a country which has fascinated me since I discovered my great grandmother was Scottish. I love bagpipes, tartans, and yes, I have eaten haggis. Right before our trip, I dreamed of a man in a kilt with his bagpipes, high on a misty mountainside surrounded by sheep. I didn’t know at the time, but Land of My Dreams had been conceived.
I have wanted to be an author since I read Little Women as a child, and filled notebooks with stories and poems all through school. A nursing career and raising two children distracted me from writing for over 20 years, however, the dream stayed alive. In 2009, sidelined by a broken foot, I began to put my story on paper.
Land of My Dreams begged to be told. Once I began, it never let me rest. The conviction that God had a message for me to convey grew. Christians struggle in relationships like everyone else, and Scripture sets some very specific guidelines. The characters in Land of My Dreams are a little older than in most romances. They have been hurt by life and grapple with their faith. Their mistakes are big and so are their dreams. My favorite quote is on the front cover: “Sometimes the greatest blessings come when we leave the familiar behind and take a step of faith.” When we follow God’s plan, He will give us the desires of our hearts.
In 2011 I took a big step of faith and attended my first writer’s conference. While I may have been swept off my feet by an accent and a kilt, the agents and editors I pitched my story to had not. Why did the main character move to Scotland, couldn’t she be Scottish and move to America? Was time travel involved? Could I make it historical? I received very positive critiques, but no one wanted it. Still believing this was a story God wanted to be told, I discovered smaller publishers were more willing to look outside the box, and following my second writer’s conference, Eddie Jones, of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, offered me a contract. My dream came true.
It has been difficult to be so far from the setting of the book that a visit for more research is not practical. A screensaver of over 400 photos of the area, immersing myself in Scottish music, history, websites, books, and movies was priceless. Having an editor who lived in and has friends in Scotland provided the insight I needed in certain scenes.
The most exciting thing is when readers tell me the story ministered to them as well as entertained. As a Bible study leader, that means a lot. The two most frequent comments I get are readers who say they cannot put it down, and requests for a sequel. At an age when most people begin talking retirement, I am serious about finishing my second book.
“God never says the safe and familiar are His best.” Dream your dreams and follow them. Mine came true, all because once upon a time, I was swept off my feet by an accent and a kilt.
Land of My Dreams is available through Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Land-My-Dreams-Norma-Gail/dp/1941103170/ or Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/land-of-my-dreams-norma-gail/1119606864
Readers can connect with me at:
Wednesday, October 15, 2014
If you love a good mystery, you'll love this one. Anslee Urban has crafted one that could keep you awake all night!
Kylie Harper returns to her hometown for her ten-year class reunion only to get to relive the most horrible experience that might happen to teenage sweethearts. The other half of that couple (Nick Bently) flies into town at the same time she does, although the he came to help out his brother, in the hospital with severe injuries due to an accident.
Neither of them thought to contact each other. That one night's gruesome experience ten years before was one that drove a wedge between them. Now they are called on to help local law enforcement solve that cold case, and more bodies begin to show up. The killer torments Kylie with cell phone calls.
Nick is the one who reaches out to console her--or is he instead the one who plans to kill her?
This is another one you just have to get. It's on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Bodies pile up, and Kylee