Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Review of Lanterns and Lace


The second book in DiAnn Mills Texas Legacy series is even better than the first one, if that’s possible. Once again, DiAnn drew me in right from the beginning, with her well developed characters, to the town of Kahlerville, where drama, action, and adventure enmesh with her unique descriptive style.

Jenny Martin has traveled to Kahlerville, determined to bring her niece back home with her to Cleveland. Her sister, Jessica, a fallen dove who died in childbirth, persuaded the town’s doctor to adopt her infant daughter. But Jenny soon realizes that Grant Andrews adores the two year old Rebecca, and has no intention of allowing Jenny to take her from him. Jenny is pursued by a mysterious Aubrey Turner, claiming to have been in love with her sister. Aubrey endeavors to win her affections, knowing that he is competing with Grant. Aubrey will stop at nothing to get close to Jenny, who feels very uneasy about his intentions. Grant senses that Aubrey is a dangerous man, and is concerned for Jenny’s safety.

Jenny comes to love Grant’s family and the residents of the town. Even though she was raised by strict parents with their belief that science was the only thing that mattered, she slowly comes to faith in God, and finds that she must trust Him in every situation. The conversion of Jenny’s faith is told in a completely believable way without preaching. Jenny and Grant fall in love, but when perilous events occur that could keep them apart, Jenny chooses to leave town in order for Grant and Rebecca to continue their happy lives without the interference that her arrival has caused them, and the town of Kahlerville.

In true historic form, DiAnn has written a wonderful story of romance, trust and faith amidst evil, and brings the Texas setting of 1895 in vibrant detail.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Review of Hart's Truth

My beautiful writing budd, Kelly Long! See my reivew of her book below.

Fresh out of medical school, Hart Pagett, arrives in the small railroad town of Renew, Pa., thinking that God is cruel and life is unfair. He will become the apprentice to the town’s Doctor McGuire, who is slowly going blind. He is being cared for by his assistant who happens to be his beautiful red-haired daughter, Abby. He is put-off by Dr. McGuire’s gruffness and seeming indifference. While tending to the ailing and sick of this poor town of hardworking people, Hart is drawn to, not only the needs of the townsfolk, but the old doctor and his daughter as well. Through a series of events and a near tragedy, Hart discovers his deep need for God and his love for Abby.

Step back in time to a place where life was simpler and sweeter. Let the rugged railroad town of Renew draw you into this wonderful story of life-altering events that gently build Hart’s love for life, but most of all his deep need for God through transforming love.

Kelly is currently working on the second book in the Renew the Heart Series. She is a part of my writing group and is the dearest of friends.
Visit her website.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Three Brunettes

I'm finally getting around to posting a picture of me with my two sweet writer friends, Colleen Coble and Diane Hunt. I'm the one in the middle and incidentally, not published yet, but that did not keep them from accepting me as their equal. You can read about them in one of my earlier posts, and be directed to their fabulous webites to find out the titles of their latest books. Aren't I lucky?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Leather and Lace Review

DiAnn Mills lives up to her slogan, “Expect an Adventure” with her first in the Texas Legacy Series, Leather and Lace. From the very first page when outlaw Casey O’Hare decides to stop running from the law, until the surprise in the last chapter, her story will keep you turning pages way into the night. Casey exemplifies the term leather and lace in her struggle to become a respected member of society, but her rough and rowdy past haunts her. With a bounty on her head from riding with the notorious Jenkins gang, she meets up with Morgan Andrews, who has his own score to settle with Jenkins, intending to use her as his pawn. Romance is soon intertwined in this fast paced adventure with twists and turns that makes this a delightful read.

Strengthened by recommitment of faith and forgiveness, along with the support of great secondary characters, Casey and Morgan strive to rectify the wrongs and put the past behind them. The characters are believable and faith is told in true life fashion. It’s great tale of the Old West, trust and God’s grace. This story will take you on the ride of your life.

Saturday, October 28, 2006


I can’t resist stepping out into the brilliant fall sunshine for my walk and quiet time. With a nearly cloudless azure blue sky, the air is crisp and clean--fresh, like sheets that have hung outdoors on a clothesline. The only sound I hear is the wind stirring the fallen leaves, and a distant bark of a dog.
It’s a brisk 56 degrees and I zip up my jacket to ward off the October chill. The landscapers have groomed and tidied flower beds with smiling purple pansies, surrounding them with a fresh blanket of straw along the main boulevard. Leaves on the Bradford pear trees are just beginning to turn orange and brown, framing the backdrop for tall, pungent pine and yellow sweetgum. A furry, busy little chipmunk scurries across the wildlife meadow in front of me, searching for food or perhaps getting his exercise, like me. I pause long enough to admire him sporting his stripped fur coat of brown and tan.
It’s so beautiful and peaceful, you could almost close your eyes and imagine hiking in the mountains far away from the suburban sprawl. As the sunlight kisses my brow, I turn my face upward to soak in the warm rays and gaze at a lone hawk soaring across the sky, gliding along the updraft of the morning breeze. A golden butterfly dips down to drink nectar from purple blossom of the butterfly bush.
It’s a wonderful time to be alive and I feel invigorated and restored, soaking in the peace from nature’s very powerful presence. The sun feel’s good and I begin to finally warm up.
Near the nature trail, I stop, lean over the rail, and look down at the creek, not much more than a trickle, gurgling over the stones. The sunlight dances in merrily, touching the towering trees and rooftops with radiance, as the leaves shimmer in its light. The limbs of a weeping willow stir in answer to the wind’s sighs, and I think with delight about things to come.
God placed the nature around us so we could understand His presence and magnificence, and be reminded of Him. Only a divine creator could produce the fragile balance of life throughout spring, summer, fall and winter, each with its unique splendor and design.
How many people living behind the windows of these superb homes, have taken time to notice such splendid surroundings, or thought of life’s delicate blueprint or even each other? Most families are so busy working and raising children and planning their agenda that they often forget what nature has to reveal.
Just last year I was in Montana with its unlimited sky and mountains and was drawn close to God’s presence. No matter where you are, He is there, pursuing and wooing us like a lover. No wonder we are called the Bride of Christ* even in our imperfections, because of His perfection, we are made worthy.
Turning toward to home, I see fragrant pink roses tumble over stack stone, and bright orange pumpkins flanking a cheerful scarecrow on a park bench. Color bursts of fall are everywhere, hinting at the glory to come. Then autumn will put on winter’s mantle of chill, pulling our thoughts inward as we reflect on God’s goodness at Thanksgiving.
Take time today to be still, look and listen, or you will miss out on the call, as He gently draws you to Him by the very beautiful canvas painted by His hand.
*Revelation 21:9b-“Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” NASB

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Review of Waiting For Summer's Return

Summer Steadman faces one of life’s most difficult challenges when her husband and 4 children succumb to the deadly typhoid fever while traveling to Oklahoma. Stranded in a Mennonite Community in Kansas where her family is buried, she feels cold and empty, believing that God has deserted her. Grieving, Summer has little desire for existence or hope for the future. She decides to stay in Gaeddert, KS to be near the graves of her four children and secures a job for widower Peter Ollenberger as a tutor for his little boy. Peter is a gentle giant of a man and, having experienced grief first hand, is patient and tender with Summer. She quickly becomes attached to his son, Thomas, who returns the sentiment, hoping she will become his father’s wife. The Mennonites are a tight community and do not receive Summer favorably because she is living under the same roof of her employer. Throughout the fall and winter, she learns the Mennonite customs and traditions which Kim Sawyer portrays in a vivid but believable way through her writing. Summer and Peter mutually respect each other, and they grow very close while shielding their own grieving hearts. Peter, patient and sensitive in his own quiet way, points out the many ways God helped him recover from his own loss. Hope blossoms in Summer’s heart, and she slowly begins to live again. Sawyer tenderly describes Summer’s visit to her family’s grave with such intensity that I felt Summer’s grief, and I cried. Excellent writing can bring out real emotions and Sawyer has done that in her debut novel. Without being preachy, she has shown us how God can sift us and refine us as silver, and restore us amidst life’s tragic circumstances. I can hardly wait for the second book in this series. Way to go Kim!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I know I said that I would post a review of my friend’s book, and I will soon. But I feel compelled to relate what happen to me on my Saturday walk a week ago. I think the writing of it will pale in comparison to actually being there, but I will try to convey it the way it unfolded.

It was 5:40 pm and I started my walk singing, When I Call on Jesus. Not very loud, because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. Soon, I quit singing and was talking out loud to God.
I was anguished about something deeply personal, tired of waiting to hear back from editors, and struggling to know if my passion for writing was a huge waste of time. Besides, who wanted to read my stuff anyway? What have I accomplished? I asked Him if He really cared that I was unhappy and confused today. Why didn’t He just answer me somehow? I begged for answers to my heartfelt questions. I entered a small park, watching the children playing with their parents, their shrieks of laughter and giggles, floating across the playground. That brought a smile to my face, and lifted my heavy heart. Of course, it also brought to mind when my children were little, and I had a momentary pang of loneliness for them.

On my way back home, I was thinking about all the chores I still had to do before the day’s end. For some reason my foot starting hurting, so I walked to a bench near the tennis court. I took off my shoe and rubbed my toes. Feeling the sun over my right shoulder, I turned to look as it started to slowly go down. Then I looked ahead, then up at the sky, which is normally for me. The half-moon was rising, right above a few puffy clouds. But what I saw in the center, made me draw my breath in sharply, and hold it in disbelief. A perfect cross was formed. Not jagged, or filmy, but with clearly defined lines. I couldn’t believe it! I started to cry. It didn’t move away quickly like the other clouds, but stayed there, hanging perfectly still for at least 8 or 10 minutes. God had just communicated his love to me, an ordinary person. One who never walked on water, or calmed the sea, but just plain ole me. No one special or accomplished, but nonetheless, special to Him because He heard my cry. He knows my heart more fully than anyone else. The symbol in the sky spoke to me of His forgiveness, and what price He paid for me. I was overwhelmed! Several times in my life God has shown me His infinite grace, although I will never be worthy of this kind of unconditional love. None of us really can. Bottom line is He loves me, warts and all!

Isn’t it funny that the words I sang earlier were this: When I call on Jesus, all things are possible, mountains are gonna fall. He’ll use heaven and earth to come rescue me when I call. Call him in the morning, in the afternoon time, late in the evening, He’ll be there. When you feel discouraged and your heart is broken, you can just remember that He cares. I can mount on wings like eagles and soar…Brenda

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How Great Is Our God!

On my way to work this morning, I sang along with my practice CD for our sanctuary choir the song, How Great Is Our God. Traveling down the crowded roadways, people were either talking on their cell phones, or becoming impatient with the speed limit, and constantly changing lanes, in hopes to get to work just a little bit faster. I try to use this brief time to see the world through different eyes.
Bright autumn sun bounces off the Bradford Pear trees lining the median, with gold tinged leaves, boasting that cooler weather was on its way. The clear blue sky held no clouds today. Does anyone see what I see? The promise? The hope? I stop at the traffic light and thank God for his beautiful creation all around and I spot a hawk gliding through the morning chill to perch atop a power pole, as though surmising the traffic below with disdain.
I love it when God gives me a glimpse of his glory. It happens around us all the time. Last night my 7 yr. old granddaughter, Maggie, sang a solo at the school’s PTA program. We live in different cities, but I was told that she sang in her sweet little voice in perfect pitch. I hate that I wasn't there, but I will watch the video later. That is one of His gifts to me and I cherish it.
Another incredible gift is the soon to be arrival of my son, Jared and daughter-in-law, Amy’s first baby in February. They found out the baby is going to be a girl. Such wonderful news after losing a baby last Thanksgiving Day, is hard to contain!
I’m reminded that God is good as I constantly battle every day life issues. I am trying to live in the present, and let tomorrow take care of itself, while I wait to hear back from a publisher about my novel, and a producer about my screenplay. Add to that, personal issues that I’m battling as well. Patience is hard for me personally, so I allow myself to slow down, take a deep breath, and reflect on the words to this song. It fills my heart with morning joy to begin yet another new day, another gift. Time is in His hands, beginning and the end.
Here’s a couple of verses:

The splendor of a King, clothed in majesty,
Let all the world rejoice.
He wraps himself in light.
And darkness tries to hide
and trembles at his voice.

Age to age he stands,
And time is in his hand,
Beginning and the end.

The God Head three in one,
Father, Spirit, Son,
The Lion and the Lamb,

How Great is Our God,
Sing with me how great is our God.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Hanging Out with Colleen & Diann

After several emails flying back and forth and schedule changes, I was finally able to catch up with Colleen Coble and Diann Hunt on their RV tour of the southeast, this past Saturday night at Lifeway bookstores. My two critique partners couldn’t go, so my husband, Bruce went along with me. Colleen told me that they were attending the Atlanta Women of Faith Conference and would swing by the bookstore near my home about 6 pm on their way to Nashville. I figured that I had missed them so I asked the store manager. Nope, they hadn’t seen them. So we left and went to the Borders close by. They weren’t there either.
Wishing now that I had emailed my cell phone number to her, we drove back to Lifeway and sat in the car waiting. It was now 6:40 and I was convinced that they had just kept on trucking to Nashville. But, we went back inside to buy a fish symbol for my car that I had seen earlier. A minute later, Bruce said that he saw a rented RV turn into the parking lot. I got so excited that I think I yelled “It’s Colleen!” I ran and stood by the front door. (I can’t help it—I’m a big fan). When she walked through the door, we gave each other a big hug, while her surprised hubby and Diann and her husband stood nearby. She quickly introduced us to them and Westbow’s associate editor, Natalie. I can’t tell you how excited I was. Colleen asked if we’d like to have dinner with them. What a question! Of course, I felt honored to be included. They signed a few of their books then we all went to Borders.
Colleen is absolutely the most down to earth and friendliest writer that I know in the ACFW. Colleen was my first pick of author interviews at my Denver Conference a few years back and is so encouraging to everyone she meets. She told me how her writing journey started when her brother was killed by lightning, after I had told her that my brother, a writer also, had died suddenly months before the conference. She said “you will go to MT and find healing in your heart and get an idea for your second book.” I actually did get my idea the last evening I was at Glacier Park! She probably has no idea what an influence she has been to me and I’m sure many others.
Bruce led the way across the busy and congested six lane Barrett Pky by Town Center Mall and they followed in the big RV. I can tell you that her husband David really knew how to handle that thing and Diann’s husband was the navigator for their entire tour. We had a wonderful meal at Outback’s and I tried to soak up everything they said. Natalie’s love as an editor was apparent and she seem to genuinely love Colleen and Diann. Soon they were on their way again to finish up the tour. It would be late by the time they got to Nashville. Colleen writes romantic suspense and Diann writes humor. I’m currently reading Diann’s book, Hot Flashes and Cold Cream and love it. Diann is a lovely lady with a great sense of humor. Colleen has two great suspense series, Rock Harbor and Aloha Reef. You can read all about these 2 fabulous women. Colleen’s website is and Diann’s is Their blog can be found at

Monday, May 15, 2006

Writing RULES!

This past Mother's Day weekend was a busy one for me. On Saturaday I attended a writer's workshop in Canton, GA with 4 of my writing buds. Our speaker was producer, actor, screenwriter, Sean Gaffney, who came from CA to oversee the production of a school muscial that he and Jennifer Schuchmann had written for American Heritage Academy. Lucky for us! He packed in as much info as he possibly could into one Saturday. He was an excellent speaker besides being a talented writer. The two do not always go hand in hand. He had our rapt attention as he walked us through the basics of Structure in Screenwriting and Writing Dialogue that Sounds Right. He used clips from movies to illustrate structure & dialogue. So effective was his excitement at teaching that the day flew by and we hated the class to end. We left better equipped and encouraged that writers write. Published or not. To find our more about Sean Jaffney, visit his website,

My Mother's Day was blessed as well. My sweet daughter, Sheri was over the weekend before and had given me a beautiful card and a very beautiful amethyst ring, knowing my love of purple. No, it's not my birthstone. I felt very special and very loved. My 3 yr. old grandson could hardly wait for me to open the cards and gift. Such fun! On Sunday, my son, Jared, took me and his dad out to lunch with the zillion other people who pressed in line for their place at the table. His gift to me was a collection of CD's that he'd personally recorded of my favorite music selections. He is the music guru in the family, but we all love music. He knew exactly which songs to record, and which would make me cry! I think he and his sister are in competition ever since she made a scrapbook of me when I was pregnant with her, until she became a mom herself. That's when he said there was no way he could compete with that! So it's like a joke between them now, I think. I really do feel honored by them and honored to be their mother.

I really missed my mom this week. She died 7 yrs. ago, but the memory of her is still sweet on my mind and heart. I gave my mother a journal when she was 70 to keep for me. I believe she inspired me and my brother to write, with her own storytelling through the years. I like to think she was looking through the porthole of heaven wishing me a Happy Mother's Day, too!

Monday, May 08, 2006

How Time Flies

Does time seem to get away from you? I haven't blogged in a while because much has changed for me in a short time. I started working full-time at a realtor's office last week. Partly for the extra money, but also to be around other adults and to have interaction with people. I love meeting new and interesting people. I needed somthing new and fresh. A writer's mind can go to mush, locked away from the world at a desk with imaginary people for company. I have been known to talk to them...hence, you can see my problem.

I know this will probably create utter chaos at home and to my husband, who up till now didn't know what a toilet brush was for! Well, maybe he did, but choose not to. I was working part-time, but this will be a challege for both of us, mainly because I'm a neat freak and don't like things out of order. There's a whole lot to running a home. All of you, especially the women, will know what I'm talking about. Then add to the pile, hosting a writer's group, sanctuary choir rehearsal, writer's workshops, and keeping up with my two grown children and 3 grandchildren, who are the delight of my life.

I think this will get me out of my rut and pour fresh ideas into this dull brain of mine. Carving out time for exercise will have to move to the top of my list. No more long morning walks at my leisure with devotional ideas popping through. Life is so brief, and I want to live it to the fullest, so I'll see what this new venture brings into my life. How are you using every day to it's potential? Hope you are not one of the individuls that spend hours in front of the TV. Get out there and pursue whatever you have been dreaming about or venture out into something new and fresh, if you are stuck in a rut...
Tomorrow, I'll tell you about a few of my reviews.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Staying on Target

Since I haven't been consistent since I started this blog, I'm looking back over the last couple of days to see what I have been doing. I have been walking my 2 miles, indoors this week because of thunderstorms. I have submitted to a writer's contest. I have signed up for a writer's workshop in May. I did renew my dues for ACFW. I did host my writer's critique group this past Thursday and critiqued their work. I did start chapter six of my second novel. I did write a proposal for Multnomah that I will proof and send this weekend. I read my new Christian Communicator and Writer's Digest. I did read through a cazillion emails on the writers loop. I did all the countless and endless chores of taking care of a home, chatted with my daughter and my friends on the phone and rejoiced with my sister on the birth of her first granddaughter!
All in all not a bad week when I look back. But one of the best movtivators for me has been my critique group. I was in MT for a couple of weeks, so when we met this week, I was happy. We really draw strength from each other, and the support for ideas and brainstorming is awesome. You know the saying, two or three heads are better than one! All of them expressed this same sentiment, realizing how valuable we are to one another. Besides, they are just wonderful and fun gals to be with, and I thank God for them! about you? What are your goals? Are you staying on target?
Sure hope so.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Rembering Easter

Today I packed away the ceramic Easter bunnies and eggs adorning our foyer, next to a huge cross with a purple ribbon holding a small crown of thorns. However, I left the flag with it's gold cross and white lilies, flapping in the gentle southern breeze, in rememberence of my Lord's resurrection.
Although not at my home church this Easter Sunday, my husband and I attended a wonderful service in a church in Augusta. The choir sang with such conviction and enthusiam that it was infectious, and the excitement flowed out into the crowded sanctuary. It was as if the whole congregation was filled with anticipation of Christ's prophecy of his imminent return. I felt a such a burst of great power and love fill my heart, that my tears flowed. Hoping that my mascara wasn't running, I pulled out a handkerchief given to me by a missionary to China when my father died and wiped my eyes. I thought--what wonderous love is this--that God the Father would send his unblemished son to bear my sin and the world's with unconditional love and scarifice. This was one of those "holy moments" when I truly experienced the presence of the Lord afresh. In Him I find grace and forgiveness. I'm so grateful.for praise and worship and how it stirs my soul!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Can't Believe This

I am doing exactly what I said I wouldn't do and don't have time to do...blogging. Am I crazy? Maybe so....and tonight we have to submit our taxes, so this will be the shortest blog on history. But I will be back when I have more time to bore you with my thoughts on writing, life, and people.