Thoughts on Writing

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”

[The Guardian, 25 February 2010]” 
― Hilary Mantel

Each morning, I start my day by grading eggs. Jumbos, Extra Large, and Large… all cleaned, sorted, and nestled into their boxes. Typically while I work, I listen to classical music. It’s a pleasant way to start the day. I’m entirely focused on a task that can be accomplished. I love to leave the egg room with the empty baskets stacked and egg cartons full. Lately, instead of listening to my favorite string masterpieces, I hear only the annoying buzz-like static from the radio. Change was needed. I remembered my Audible  library. All the books had a theme. Words to inspire writers. The quote above was mentioned in the audiobook titled “The Successful Author Mindset” by Joanna Penn.

Now I’m listening not just in the egg room, but also back at home. During meal prep, it’s on. At clean-up, still listening. It’s peppered with many great quotes from successful writers and sound advise.

January taught me many lessons about patience and the nuances of managing  your work life as a creative. I had set a goal to go all in as a freelance writer. I’m fully aware of the sea change in publishing since I last earned a living as a writer.  Print was still king back then. I decided if I could do it before, I could do it again.  I was especially counting on freelancing to carry me through January.  One long, cold month.

As it so often happens, my plans took surprise twists and turns. One interview failed to get scheduled when I hoped, so the entire process was delayed two weeks. It tried my patience to wait. A significant hiccup happened in another larger project, that caused me to fret that the contract might not get approved at all. Another article submitted for a “fuzzy” deadline is still sitting in an editor’s inbox, waiting for feedback and acceptance.

I realized I can’t just decide on a goal and then make it so. The creative life rarely tracks on strict timetables. I can live with this for now since I’m still building and getting some momentum around my writing projects. I have found each chapter in “The Author’s Mindset” to be so refreshing.  You can learn more about this book and the author Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn or by listening to her podcast.  Whether you’re blogging, self-publishing, or just trying to expand your portfolio in the writing world, this is a great resource.


Thrive in Retirement

291829: Thrive in Retirement: Simple Secrets for Being Happy for the Rest of Your Life Thrive in Retirement: Simple Secrets for Being Happy for the Rest of Your Life

By Eric Thurman / WaterBrook

Pre-Order at until 2/16/2019

Mind your Three P’s in retirement, and you’ll thrive. That’s the message from Eric Thurman, author of the new release Thrive in Retirement. The three P’s are Purpose, Pleasure, and Peace. Thurman gives us a book that is excellent in both content and style. This is not a stuffy book, weighted down with statistics, charts, and graphs. From first to last, it’s studded with high interest anecdotes and quotes. The research referenced in Thurman’s book is current and well matched to his claims.

Thrive in Retirement is agreeable to read even though the subject matter might be hard for some people to think about. We would all love to hold back time if we could, but no such luck. As Thurman points out, this third season of life is new territory. A stage that can last decades. There’s no reason the years after full-time employment need to be viewed as a time of “slow decline”. Thurman maps out a route to success that will help people maintain a positive outlook, discover a good sense of purpose, and find peace.

His writing on maintaining good mental health is stand out content. Thurman points out that despite changing work conditions, individuals should stay connected in communities to enjoy good mental health.

When people think of retirement, financial considerations first come to mind. Thurman addresses this aspect of retirement and then goes so much further. Money is just one part of retirement. He encourages people to consider their status in five vital categories. These categories are mind, body, relationships, soul, and finances. Proactive effort in these five areas will yield positive outcomes and increase well being.

Thurman’s book is a self-help book with many take-away messages. Ironically one of the most memorable has to do with avoiding selfish thoughts and putting others first. He writes, “When we think of others,and give of our time and talents, we receive more than we give.” Altruism spares a mature adult from a host of evils like as isolation and feelings of being irrelevant.

I received a complimentary ARC of this book from Waterbrook in exchange for my honest review.

Heart of Alaska Series Book 3

219252: Under the Midnight Sun #3 Under the Midnight Sun #3

By Tracie Peterson & Kimberley Woodhouse / Bethany House

I read the first and last book in the Heart of Alaska trilogy.

Now I’m compelled to find Book 2 and read the series in its entirety. The setting grabbed me first. The characters enjoy the majestic Alaskan outdoors with plenty of hikes and riverside walks. Then there’s the bustling activity level at the Curry Hotel. The cast of characters wins you over immediately. You’ll just want to keep reading to find out how things turn out for them.

Just this week, I was reading the devotional publication titled Our Daily Bread. The verse at 1 Thessalonians 5:15 was featured: Here it is: “Always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.” NIV When I read that I thought, “Wow…. this describes how the main characters in “Under the Midnight Sun” behaved exactly. They rallied around each other and offered words of encouragement when needed. When more than a listening ear was needed, they met that need. Sometimes babysitting was needed. At other points, characters tied on aprons and helped prep meals for the Curry Hotel’s many guests. At the story’s close, we see Thomas and Allan go above and beyond to protect Tayler, and allow her to keep working in a job she loves. The generous characters who thought of others thrived. While the unsavory types who were selfish and driven by unworthy ambitions fared miserably.

The authors, Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse, state at the opening, that this last installment is dedicated to telling Thomas’ story. What a story! We first met Thomas when he was an awkward, young orphan taken in by the Curry Hotel Staff. His mix-up’s and bungled attempts at completing tasks caused eyes to roll and many snickers. In Book 3, Thomas is a mature and caring man. You’ll love how his story ends. Tayler is a smart sophisticated young woman who is blazing her own trail. She is a protagonist to hold in high regard; one that is most deserving of a happy ending!  At the conclusion, some story threads come together as expected. More than a few resolve in a manner that will catch you by surprise.

I read an advanced reader’s copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.

We Hope for Better Things

734913: We Hope for Better Things We Hope for Better Things
By Erin Bartels / Revell

Wow! Outstanding! A must read…. I am recommending this book with five stars. It’s a split-time novel with three (that’s right 3 !!!) different settings. It’s the goal oriented, determined women who tie all plot lines together. These ladies dare to trust and follow their heart. Each demonstrates courage and does not shy away from making tough choices. They make some decisions that are charged with emotion and bring on hard times. But they face their circumstances with bravery.

The first character we meet is present day Elizabeth Balsam, a journalist who calls Detroit home. A quest sends her to the country home of her great-aunt, who is now elderly and living alone in a Civil War era home. During the 1860’s, individuals seeking freedom on the Underground Railroad found their way to this house. As the story progresses, more and more details from this early tumultuous time period are revealed.

The plot stirs your heart and lays bare all the emotional hurts caused by racism. First during the Civil War Era, then in the streets of Detroit in 1960’s. As you read, you will call to mind the title and realize how well suited it is for the plot. Truly…. “We Hope for Better Things!” At the conclusion, it’s likely you will be thinking… “We hope people will demonstrate a greater capacity to love one another and show kindness. We hope people will speak out against bullying and racism. We hope people will seek out ways to build communities and encourage others. We hope not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

This is Erin Bartels’ debut novel. You’ll find yourself so engrossed in the storyline you keep reading “just one more chapter” long into the night.

I received a copy of this book from Revell – a division of Baker House Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Cities of Refuge: Shelter of the Most High

By Connilyn Cossette

This sequel to A Light on the Hill delivers intrigue and is entirely satisfying. I especially want to comment on how remarkable the characters are in this series. The main characters are faithful and mending from brokenness and the consequences of bad choices. But throughout the story, each of the main characters seem to exemplify Philippians 2:3-7. Darek, Moriyah, and Eitan are not guided by selfish ambition, but instead put others first. Over and over, they act in a manner that shows their high regard for the welfare of others.

The plot twists were a delightful surprise. The intrigue was multilayered and crafted in such a way that it made total sense to readers. I have to admit, in many cases, I never saw story threads resolving as they did. I also met some characters and plot lines that I hope to read more about in future books in the series.

The transformation at work in the lives of Prezi and Sofea allowed readers to walk along with them and see through their non-believing eyes, the wonder of God’s promise of protection and unconditional love. Their journey is inspirational and would draw others to a greater understanding of Christianity.

The time period of the book is also fascinating. Shelter of the Most High takes place after the Battle of Jericho and the Conquest of Canaan. The characters are expanding their claim to the Promised Land, while simultaneously fortifying and pushing back on the Canaanites and other populations inhabiting the land. I am looking forward to Book 3 in the Cities of Refuge series that is anticipated in July.

I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

New Author to Me; New Favorite

light on a hillI was captivated by Connilyn Cossette’s book titled A Light on the Hill. For some reason, I just had not read any previous books by this author. This is book one in the Cities of Refuge series. I thought the concept of the Cities of Refuge was so fascinating. I was not sure I would care for it, but the characters and plot are very engaging. I’m looking forward to Book #2 in this series. The Cities of Refuge are described in detail in the Old Testament Book of Joshua 20:1-9. The symbolism wrapped up in the Cities of Refuge left an impression. The idea is that all who come seeking are accepted at this place of refuge. The author describes the road to the City of Refuge as straight and smooth, and free of obstacles for the sojourner.

It is always a pleasure to discover a new author. In addition, to the novel crafted by Connilyn Cossette, I have also finished a book by Melanie Dobson titled Catching the Wind. Both of these books, I have recommended to friends and family with enthusiasm.


Good News for a Change

51KmY9him4L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_The title caught my eye, “Good News for a Change – How to talk to Anyone about Jesus”. The author delivers on your expectations. This non-fiction book appeals to Christians who have a heart for witnessing and hope to encourage non-believers to welcome Jesus into their hearts.

It’s clear from the outset, that author, Matt Mikalatos, has experience in this area. He offers many first hand accounts of various ways he has invited people to join him in spiritual conversations.

I heard a Pastor say once, “In the Christian faith, some people are planters, some waterers, and others are harvesters, and all are important.” This book lays out some sensible steps for waterers to stretch a little and be a ‘planter”, or a “harvester.” Yet the author points out this work is a team effort, between the individual and the Holy Spirit to tell people about God. Where individuals may fail, God will pick up the slack.

This book will nudge readers out of their comfort zone. In addition to practical witnessing advice, the pages are packed with solid Biblical truths. Jesus seeks to have a relationship with all people. There’s no need to fix yourself up first and then accept your adoption into the Christian faith. Just come as you are, and your faith will help you with the rest. Scripture indeed points to sharing the message with both words and deeds.

The author is realistic and devotes some time to obstinate people who harbor negative attitudes toward spiritual conversations and Christians. He offers some suggestions for staying on track and finding a way to share the good news message despite any roadblocks. As an evangelist, Mikalatos has introduced many people to God who is able to heal the brokenness that individuals and communities experience today. Mikalatos takes the fear out of witnessing and encourages Christians to just listen, show a caring heart, and above all be sincere. I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book from NAVPRESS in exchange for my honest review.