I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about how blessed I am by the people in my life. My readers and online friends, my neighbors, my friends at church, my family... the list goes on. Life is tough - some days more than others - but I am forever thankful for the people God has surrounded me by. They're what it's all about.
That train of thought led me to my sisters. I don't know how people navigate life without sisters. I'd be lost without mine. When I'm hopeless, they seem to sense it and my phone rings. Without fail, it's one of my sisters, calling to lend an ear. I kid you not, one particularly terrible day I thought I'd give anything for a pizza and my sister showed up an hour later with two pizzas. We live two hours apart, and I hadn't said a word to her. Yeah, they're both pretty amazing like that.
Beyond what they do for me, my sisters are the kind of women who change the world, who make it a better place. Both are teachers - one in an affluent district and one in a rural district where many students are not affluent. Though each in their own way, they are both that teacher who fearlessly makes a difference in the lives of the teenagers they interact with each day. (You know that one teacher you still remember with a smile? Yep, that's them.) They go so far above and beyond to do the right thing, to show they genuinely care about the people they come into contact with.
From Angie, the mother hen, I learned my sense of justice. By example, she taught me that when a task seems too big, just put your head down and get to work. She has this amazing sense of right and wrong, and I struggle to picture her ever making a bad decision. And yet, somehow, she never judges me for mine. She listens, counsels and cheers me on, but she never judges.
From Karen, who sparkles from the inside out, I learned how to be generous and how to laugh through the worst life has to offer. Growing up, I hated being in Karen's shadow. She was both funny and brilliant. I hated her for it. But now I realize that in trying to keep up with her, I discovered me. She'd give you her last dollar if she thought you needed it, and she'd do it without begrudging you or even thinking twice.
As jealous as I was of Karen, I don't think she'd ever understand why. She doesn't see who she is; neither of my sisters do. They're beautiful - stunning even - on the inside and out, though neither views themselves that way. Whether they see it or not, I thank God for them. Someday, I hope my sons have what I do with my sisters. They've held me as I've cried, laughed with me, and shaped me into who I am.
They're the best part of me.
We need the rain. We do. The crops need the rain; the rivers and creeks need the rain. My rain barrels need the rain. Do I sound convinced yet?
As happy as I am to see my rain barrels and creek being replenished, I'm tired of being cold and wet. As we prepare to move from our temporary cabin to our forever home, I stupidly packed away 99.9% of our winter clothes, leaving us each with one or two long-sleeve shirts and a lightweight jacket. In my defense, it was 95+ degrees when I did this. It's currently hovering around 40 degrees.
The weather has all building projects on hold. My goats huddle in their little shelters, looking at me like they expect me to turn the faucet off. I feel bad that one isn't in my control and I console myself with the knowledge that when I finish their big, solar-heated barn, it won't matter so much.
In the meantime, I try not to lose my mind over being in limbo for a few more weeks. I'm ready for a real house with a real kitchen. My admiration for the pioneers and the homeless has skyrocketed. My view of my own patience and faith has been humbled. A few more weeks...
I'm always excited to release a new book. Launch day usually finds me glued to my computer screen, smiling like a fool over each new comment and eagerly checking to see if anything new is happening. My books are my babies and I love sending them out into the world. (Even if it is a little nerve-racking!)
But there's something about this one that has me especially bubbly today. I can't say enough how happy I am to be announcing the release of Waiting for You. Karise and Aidan's story has become one of my favorites. Like Charlie and Neena from Jailbird, thinking about these two just makes me smile. I hope they make you smile, too.
So please go out and snag your copy now - then tell everyone you know to do the same! I'll be forever grateful. Maybe, if we can manage to climb high enough on the charts, I'll even let one of my boys get some video of me happy-dancing so you have something to giggle about. But it would have to be pretty darn high on the charts...
Here's the link to buy the book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble & iTunes. Happy reading!
It's been a rough few weeks in my world - things have gotten a little topsy-turvy, leaving me to wonder if I'm really on the right path or if I'm just chasing down a dream instead of facing reality. And then I got a note in my inbox that both brightened my day and reminded me why I'm on this particular road. It was from Saundra of Project Liberty, and she asked that I share a piece of that note with you. I do so now, gladly. I hope it reminds you, like it did me, that we can all make a difference in this world. We have the ability to make it a better place if we only try.
I want to tell you about one of your readers who read "Throwaway". She saw the info in the back of the book about PL and was so excited that we were so close to her in Grand Rapids, MI. She called me and set up a fundraiser Mother/daughter TEA at her church! It was great! I spoke at the church one week on a Sunday and then at the TEA. They raised almost $900 for us! Amazing for a small group!
When my friend and fellow author Becki Brannen asked if I would participate in a blog hop, I jumped at the chance, figuring it would be just the thing to pull me out of my recent radio silence. (Things have been hopping on the ole' homestead!) I've known for a while that Becki is an amazing friend, but I didn't realize until I read her answers to last week's post just how similar she and I are in our writing styles! So, without further ado, let me introduce you to her:
Becki Brannen was born and raised in the South. She married her high school sweetheart and they have two daughters and a poodle, Sophie. She enjoys writing 'chick lit' with a Christian twist. Becki hopes that you enjoy reading her books in the Breathless series. While Peregrine is a definite departure, she still explores the characters' relationships with God. As for future books, there will be more to come soon!
Becki is one of my favorite people, so I encourage you to visit her online!
Amazon Author Page
For my portion of the hop, I was asked to answer four questions. So here goes...
What are you working on?
I'm currently working on a series of short stories to fill in the missing years from recurring character and fan favorite Vance Davis. I'm super excited about releasing these, and even more excited to start on Vance's novel.
How does your work differ from others in its genre?
I don't shy away from dark topics, but my books are mostly warm and funny reads that move along quickly. That makes them hard to place in a specific genre. I might talk about human trafficking or the gaps in the foster system in a particular novel, but I'd still say that themes of love, hope and second chances predominate. Anyone looking for something dark and gritty would be sorely disappointed in my books!
I'm also different in that I don't shy away from passion, but I try to keep the books clean enough that I could look my teenage son in the eye should he read them. I love love, and I love the sparks and chemistry of new love. But I don't want to read the intimate bedroom details of someone else's life, so I don't write about them.
Why do I write what I do?
I guess, on some level, I write what I like to read. Mostly, I write the stories bouncing around in my brain. Usually those stories shed light on a particular injustice. Sometimes, they're just a happy romp through new love (like my new release, Waiting for You).
How does your writing process work?
Depends on what day it is and the mood I'm in. Lately, my life has been too chaotic for much of a writing process and that's really bothering me. So much so that I'm trying to decide what needs to change so I can make the words a priority again...
Finally, I want to pass the blog-hop baton on to one of Booktrope's newest authors. I'm eagerly looking forward to reading her debut novel, which is now available! I'm thrilled to introduce you to Brandi Jellum:
Brandy's passion for writing began long before she actually sat down to write. As a child, she has had an obsession with reading, everything from the classic stories by Jane Austen to YA Fiction by Richelle Mead. Finally, in 2012, she decided to create her own stories for people to fall in love with. Brandy bounces back and forth writing both Romance and Young Adult Fiction (which is mainly just for fun).
At the beginning of 2014, Brandy signed a contract with publishing company Booktrope. She is very excited about the next chapter of her life and cannot wait to share her books and passion with readers.
When she isn't writing, she can be found chasing after her husband, her four children and her black lab, Diesel. Or curled up on her favorite corner of the couch with her newest book.
Facebook Author Page
If I Say Yes on Amazon