December 9, 2019

VANQUISHING THE CHRISTMAS BLUES

BY LINDA WOOD RONDEAU

MY TURN
A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS EDITION
HAVING THE PRIME OF MY LIFE

“I think we should cancel Christmas this year,” I told my husband.
That was when we still lived in Florida and spent many holidays sans children or grandchildren. We got smart and moved a lot closer. Now we enjoy many more activities with the grands.

However, family get-togethers still pose a significant problem. With busy schedules, some family tensions, and a son still living farther away then an hour drive to G & Gs, getting everyone in the same place at the same time is getting increasingly problematic.

I long for those crazy, busy, times when the kids were young, and Christmas was a rip-roaring adventure.  

With my full-time writing career, Hubs now handles most of the shopping and Christmas cards. Though I appreciate his help, I miss the insanity of gingerbread houses, Christmas cookies, and seven-course meals. I miss the sleepless nights wrapping presents and waiting for the kids to go to sleep to fill their stockings.

Many years in the past, when we lived so far away, Cash was the gift of choice. I am grateful now that we are close enough to “deliver” actual gifts to our family, even though the times we see them during the holidays is fragmented.

It doesn’t seem like Christmas unless I’m frazzled.

Although, this year is getting closer to that goal. A very full schedule of concerts, church activities, and connections and writing deadlines. For that I’m grateful.

Christmas used to be my favorite holiday because I planned for it all year. I loved being awakened in the early morn by exuberant gift seekers anxious to open presents. I’d laugh as I hurdled my way through the living room over mounds of torn wrapping and strewn treasures to get another cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Unfortunately, the seasons of our lives are never stagnant. Change inevitably creeps and twines its way, strangling cherished traditions. Though I still love Christmas, I sometimes feel sad as I drag out the decorations … fewer and fewer every year as we have downsized our living space.

I notice I have kept a lot of my angel ornaments. They comfort me as I hang them on our three-foot artificial tree. I can almost hear their herald announcing Christ’s birth.

I have kept one Nativity Set, a gift from our son years ago. As I assemble it, I see a small tiny baby born in a cold barn, His bed made from a feeding bin and filled with prickly straw. His layette was a burial cloth, a symbol of the very reason why he came.

I see shepherds kneeling to a Baby King born into poverty. 

A strange way to send the Messiah.

As I empty myself of disappointments threatening to choke my joy, I focus on the child and my spirit springs to new life. I thank God for the gift of himself—Emmanuel—God With Us. Unencumbered by my changing life.


MY CHRISTMAS BOOKS:
A description of my books can be found on my website: www.lindarondeau.com, as well as on amazon.com.











December 6, 2019

RESTORING CHRISTMAS



PLEASE WELCOME
JULIE ARDUINI
TO
FLASH FICTION FRIDAY

EXCERPT FROM RESTORING CHRISTMAS

If Holly Christmas’ heart was in charge, returning to Geneseo Valley never would have happened. She slowed her Subaru Forester and blinked away fresh tears. The car shook as Holly wavered between the brake and accelerator. If memories alone could steer, the car would be parked in the lot she had played in since she could walk.

With her uncle expecting her, she cruised into the parking area adjacent to the family business. Holly found a space to stop thanks to faded yellow lines. Dabbing her eyes and cheeks with a tissue, she grabbed her planner, slung her purse over her shoulder, and got out. With a deep breath, she faced the historic mansion ahead of her.

The crunch of late September leaves marked her tentative steps toward the main entrance. Glancing ahead, she noted the overgrown weeds and bushes out front in desperate need of pruning. The once red and white striped pole showed rust spots and the red faded to pink. The sign that once proudly displayed the tourist destination was now a rotted piece of splinter. The engraving was more of a petri dish for moss and algae, making it barely readable.

Welcome to Christmas Mansion.

Holly stopped, a shudder zigzagged from head to toe. Re-gaining her balance, she kept her focus on the cement steps as she sidestepped a jagged chunk in the path. The porch still featured the wooden soldier she stood next to every year to mark how much she’d grown. The stiff greeter was a shell of his former holiday glory, nearly as faded as everything else. She opened the almost pink colored door and sighed at the sound of a sinister squeak. This isn’t the Christmas Mansion. It’s a Halloween spook house.

Fighting the urge to run back to her car and her life in Ohio, Holly cleared her throat. “Uncle Nick? It’s Holly. Are you here?”

She glanced around the lobby, the same register with a bell sound she pushed as a teen after a customer purchase. Dusty shelves housed a potpourri of holiday items—candles, snow globes, and ornaments thrown together in complete chaos.

Before she could investigate further, a shuffle echoed from the hallway and her uncle entered. “Holly? I can’t believe it, right here in Upstate New York. What an answer to prayer.” The cobalt blue glint in his eyes reminded her of her father.

She stepped into her uncle’s hug, surprised by his emotion as he held onto her arms and gazed into her eyes. “I don’t know about answer to prayer, but things changed with my job, and I thought it was a good time to help out.” She waved her hands with animation. “Here I am!”

The younger Christmas brother nodded. “I’ve tried to keep things going after your father passed, but I can’t even fit into his Santa suit.”

Holly smiled as she glanced at his thin frame. “A few cookies from Mrs. Olson will take care of that.” The volunteer greeter was a Geneseo Valley legend for her sugar cookies.

His smile disappeared. “You didn’t hear? Mrs. Olson passed in July. That’s one of the many things I need to do—find a new greeter. Then there’s a landscaping team. I know it’s September, but it won’t be long until school kids visit.” He scratched his balding head. “I did take care of one thing. I arranged for a group from a local school to get the gift shop back in order. Your father was so beloved as Chris Christmas that everyone seemed to overlook the haphazard way he organized the shop.”

Holly attempted to tame the rolling waves in her stomach. Mrs. Olson was a Christmas Mansion staple as much as her father was all about dressing up as Santa and entertaining. Her grin didn’t last long. She didn’t need to tour the mansion to know the entire place was a mess. The financial state most likely wasn’t much better. “Great. The students will have their work cut out for them. I still have unpacking to do at the house, but the place still opens at eight on weekdays, right?”

Uncle Nick hesitated. “Yes, but…”

She fished the keys out of her purse. “Great. I’ll be ready to start tomorrow.” Before she could find her sunglasses, the front door burst open and a choir of adolescent chatter filled the lobby. Kids who looked to be around junior high age swarmed the area, pointing at the shelves and leaning on the glass case that housed the register. “Uncle Nick?”

Before he could speak, among the chaos emerged a man with a red and black plaid flannel shirt. His wavy black locks bobbed as he whistled. All the students froze and focused on him with the same intensity Holly gave. The mesmerizing stranger pulled out his phone, opened a screen, and traced his finger down the screen before looking up. “Hi. I’m supposed to meet with a Nick Christmas?”

ABOUT JULIE ARDUINI

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to find freedom in Christ by surrendering the good, the bad, and ---maybe one day---the chocolate. She’s the author of the contemporary romance series SURRENDERING TIME, (Entrusted, Entangled, Engaged,) as well as the stand-alone novellas, MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN and RESTORING CHRISTMAS. She also shares her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. Her other latest release, YOU’RE AMAZING, is a book for girls ages 10-100, written with her teenaged daughter, Hannah, and is book 2 in their SURRENDERING STINKIN’ THINKIN’ series. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read, as well as monthly with Inspy Romance. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at http://juliearduini.com, where she invites readers to opt in to her content full of resources and giveaway opportunities.
Facebook: http://facebook.com/JulieArduini
Twitter: http://twitter.com/JulieArduini
G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JulieArduini/posts
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/JulieArduini
Instagram: http://instagram.com/JulieArduini
Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/JulieArduini
Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/JulieArduini
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Arduini/e/B00PBKDRSQ/
Monthly Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dCFG

ABOUT RESTORING CHRISTMAS

Filled with grief and regret, Holly Christmas returns to Geneseo Valley and the family business, The Christmas Mansion. Can Kevin Holt restore her love for the season and the memories she left behind?
***
Holly Christmas left Geneseo Valley and her family’s holiday tourist attraction, The Christmas Mansion, as soon as she graduated.  Now both her parents have passed, and Holly returns when her uncle needs her help running the mansion. On Holly’s first day back, a blunt middle-schooler proclaims Holly hates Christmas. His comment forces her to reconcile the past while planning for the mansion’s future.
Kevin Holt is invested in offering hope to students with challenges. His best friend’s son is in Kevin’s class, and Nathan needs guidance. Their community project placement at The Christmas Mansion is an opportunity to make a positive difference. When Nathan blurts out his thoughts to the beautiful co-owner, Kevin wonders if he has what it takes to help restore the mansion to its former glory, mentor Nathan, and convince Holly Christmas she’s exactly where she needs to be.

Purchase Restoring Christmas eBook:
https://www.amazon.com/Restoring-Christmas-Novella-Julie-Arduini-ebook/dp/B07ZDHX954
Purchase Restoring Christmas Softcover:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/1733687629

December 4, 2019

SARA'S SURPRISE


PLEASE WELCOME
SUSAN G. MATHIS
TO
FLASH FICTION
SPECIAL EDITION

BACKGROUND ABOUT SARA’S SURPRISE

ISara’s Surprise, Sara works in the kitchens of the famous Alex Bay Crossmon House Hotel. After working in the Pullman Island kitchens during President Grant’s 1872 visit she’s learned quite a lot. (You can read more about this in Katelyn’s Choice, book one of The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series.)

When Sara becomes the assistant pastry chef, her boss abuses her in lots of ways, as was all too common in 1873. Women had no recourse and often feared they’d be blamed and dismissed from their jobs, so they kept silent. Back then, women were often devalued and unappreciated, underpaid and treated poorly. And men took advantage of the cultural norms of the day.

Have you ever been harassed by an employer? I have, and it’s pretty traumatizing. In this “Me Too” movement, lots of women are speaking up about their trials and tribulations in the workplace, so I decided to explore the topic. 

As a single mom in the early 1990s, I was treated poorly too, and I regret that I was afraid to speak up and expose the nasty man who threatened, teased, and tormented me. As a leader in the organization, that should never have occurred, but it did. Thankfully, today’s climate is more open to reporting such abuse.

Sara’s Surprise explores this problem from several angles. But in the midst of Sara’s trials, she falls in love and learns a lot about the art of baking French pastries. 

In researching how to make pastries that’ll delight your palate, I learned way more than I’d ever dreamed. Like how to properly break an egg and how to cream sugar and eggs the right way. And did you know that you laminate Pain au chocolat? There’s much to learn about French baking, to be sure. 

EXCERPT FROM SARA’S SURPRISE (TO GIVE YOU A LITTLE “FLAVOR”
Sara hurried to grab the tray of petite, white, fluted ramekins she’d already readied. Bringing them to the pastry station, she set them down, waiting for further instructions. 

 “I will teach you to separate eggs the proper way. I noticed you drew them from shell to shell. That is incorrect. You pour them onto your palm like this.” Chef broke an egg with one hand and let the egg white run through his fingers in one fluid motion. He plopped the yolk in a bowl. “Now you try.”

Sara cracked an egg with one hand. But before she adjusted the shell and got her hand under the egg, the white fell to the table in a gooey mess. She panicked, and the yolk broke too. 

“Imbecile! Non! You don’t even know how to break an egg.” He slapped her hand and showed her again, making the process look simple. Effortless. 

“I’m sorry, monsieur. I will learn.” Sara blinked back tears and tried again, this time accomplishing the feat, albeit rather awkwardly. 

Chef took her through the next steps of heating the cream to “temper the eggs and prevent them from scrambling.” At his instruction, she gently mixed in the remaining ingredients, simmered it, and poured the custard into the dishes.

Chef LaFleur handed her a tea towel. “You must put a towel in the bottom of the pan and fill it halfway with water before baking.” 

Sara did as he commanded her, baked them, cooled and chilled them, and grinned with pride at her accomplishment. Just before teatime, Chef pulled her away from preparing the teapots to show her the final step. 

He took her hand and led her back to the “magnifique.” He put his fingers together and touched his lips to the tips, fanning out his hand as if to send some magical kiss to the heavens. 

Sara wished he’d wash his hands instead. Thankfully, the crème brûlée was picture perfect, and after he placed a sprig of mint and three blackberries on top of each one, they were a work of art. Chef LaFleur may be persnickety, but he sure was talented.

ABOUT SARA’S SURPRISE
Sara O’Neill works as an assistant pastry chef at the magnificent Thousand Islands Crossmon Hotel where she meets precocious, lovable, seven-year-old Madison and her charming father and hotel manager, Sean Graham. But Jacque LaFleur, the pastry chef Sara works under, makes her dream job a nightmare.

Sean Graham has trouble keeping his mind off Sara and Madison out of mischief. Though he finds Sara captivating, he despises LaFleur and misreads Sara’s desire to learn from the pastry chef as affection. Can Sean learn to trust Sara and can she trust herself to be an instant mother?

I hope you’ll pick up a copy and give some for Christmas gifts as it’s a lovely Christmas story as well. And if you ever get harassed, please speak up. You’ll be glad you did.

ABOUT SUSAN G. MATHIS 

Susan G Mathis is a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.

Susan is also a published author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale, two children's picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her wonderful husband, Dale, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters. 

December 2, 2019

GRANDMAS THEN VS GRANDMAS NOW



PLEASE WELCOME
GAIL SATTLER
TO
HAVING THE PRIME OF MY LIFE

What is a senior? Depending on where you shop, (Michaels!!!) it can be 60. In that case, I'm a senior. I am a grandmother, so why not?

Now that I'm a grandmother, I spend a lot of time thinking back to my own grandmothers. How times have changed.

Will there be this many changes when my kids are grandparents? I don't know how, but I think of so many things that would make my grandmother's eyes glaze over that are normal to me.

As modern grandmothers, think back to what our grandmothers lived with on a normal day.No electricity - ice delivery for the "icebox". Few people had cars. The normal mode of transportation - bicycle/

Telephone - my grandfather had a phone in the house. He was the section foreman for the railroad and had a call once a day. The phone was only connected to other section foremen along the rail line. They talked about track maintenance ... end of the call.

My grandmother never touched the phone.

Clothing - women did not wear pants. Ever.

Job - housewife and mother and housekeeper. No other options.

School - husband did the math to pay the bills, not every girl in those days completed high school.

More school - rural community - one-room schoolhouse.

Now, all you grammas. What is life like now?

I did most of my Christmas shopping online - on Amazon.
I have 2 gigs with my jazz band to bring holiday cheer to the community.
Playing my electric bass and electric piano.
Nuff said.

ABOUT THE OTHER NEIGHBOR

Back cover blurb - Cheryl Richardson doesn’t know that her landlord who owns the other half of the duplex where she lives is plotting to build a bomb—but the FBI does. In order to discover what her landlord is planning to blow up, agent Steve Gableman moves next door to get closer to Cheryl to learn what she knows, namely the target and motive, so they can stop it. But when Steve involves himself in every area of her life, including her dog, will Cheryl be the one to explode?
Buy Link: Link to The Other Neighbor at Amazon.com - https://www.amazon.com/Other-Neighbor-Gail-Sattler-ebook/dp/B07J6RD2W5/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1546971401&sr=8-1&keywords=sattler+neighbor

ABOUT GAIL SATTLER

Gail Sattler lives in Vancouver BC Canada, where you don't have to shovel rain. When she's not madly writing (Gail Sattler has over 40 published novels and novellas, plus a few works of non-fiction) she plays bass for an Elton John tribute band as well as a community jazz band, plus she plays piano for a smaller private jazz band. When she's not writing or making music (or at her day job) Gail likes to sit back and read a book written by someone else, along with a good cup of hot coffee.

Visit Gail's website at www.gailsattler.com
Gail Sattler's blog - What Goes On In The Mind Of A Writer - http://www.gailsattler.com/category/new/
Facebook  - https://www.facebook.com/gail.sattler.3
Gail Sattler's Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/Gail-Sattler-author-568988573496833/?modal=admin_todo_tou

November 29, 2019

MY GOOD SON



PLEASE WELCOME
DONNA DeLORETTO BRENNAN
TO
FLASH FICTION FRIDAY

EXCERPT FROM: “My Good Son”, the first of six stories in Forget the Mess—It’s time for a story!
 “We’re home, Ma.”

I look out the car window but don’t see any houses I recognize. The man who was driving the car—the same one who just called me, “Ma,”—gets out, walks to the passenger side, and opens my door.

“Come on, Ma. I’ll show you where you’ll be staying.”

He doesn’t look threatening; just tired. I get out of the car and let him help me up the front walk, even though I’m perfectly capable of walking by myself. The house in front of us is nothing special—blue and big. It doesn’t even have a porch—just a front stoop. If this were my house it would have a porch.

A woman steps out the front door and waves. She’s wearing a smile that’s way too tight to be sincere. “Hi, Mom. We have your room ready for you.”
How can they have my room ready when I don’t live here? At least, I don’t think I do.

I let the man help me up the front stoop and into the house. The woman follows behind and shuts the door.

We walk through a large living room and down a short hallway toward the back of the house.

“Here we go, Ma.” The man opens a door. “This will be your room until your place is fixed up.”

There’s a large bed against one wall, and two dressers. I don’t know what else to do, so I smile and nod my head. The woman leads me into a connected bathroom and points out the tub-and-shower combo. As if this would be reason enough for me to want to stay.

We exit the bathroom; a teenage girl stands glowering next to the bed. The woman rushes over to her and they talk in hushed tones. I try to ignore them, but some of their comments are so loud that even smiling at the man and nodding my head doesn’t shut out their conversation.

The girl hisses some words, but I only make out “. . . how long?” and “my room.”
The woman says something about a fire and glances at me. She turns back to the girl. “We talked about this.”

The girl crosses her arms and stomps out of the room, almost bumping into a teenage boy on his way in. He wears an expression of mild disinterest. “Hi, Gram.”

I have no idea whom he’s talking to, though he does look vaguely familiar. I study his face and frame. That stance of superiority, that glaze of perpetual boredom. He reminds me of someone. But whom? He comes over and gives me an awkward hug while the woman and man nod approvingly. They remind me of those bobbing head dolls some folks used to stick in the back window of their cars.

“How was practice?” the man asks the boy.

“Rough. Coach says we lost our last game because we’re too soft, so he’s trying to toughen us up.”

This conversation doesn’t pertain to me at all. I wander over to the closet and look inside. These clothes would never fit me. And even if they did, I wouldn’t wear them.

The woman follows me and shuts the closet door. “Corrine still has to get the rest of her things out of the closet, but the dressers are empty. You can put your stuff in there.”

I don’t know what stuff she’s talking about; I didn’t bring any stuff.

She’s wearing that fake smile again. “Joey will stop by your place tomorrow, when the contractor is there, and pick up some of your clothes. In the meantime . . .” she grabs a Target bag from next to the bed, “. . .there are a few things in here you might like.”

She holds out the bag. I don’t know what else to do so I take it. It’s big but not that heavy. I walk over to the bed and lay it down on the blue, black, and white bedspread.

I study the pattern. “Are those skulls?”

The man glances at the bedcover then turns to the woman. His voice is sharp.

 “Dina, I thought you were going to change that.”

“I didn’t have time. I couldn’t leave work before two—”

“You were supposed to leave at noon.”

“Yeah, well my boss didn’t like that idea.”

I tune them out and leave the bedroom to explore the rest of the house. I’m not sure why they brought me here. They’ll probably tell me when they get around to it. Maybe after they finish fighting.

The living room is adorned with two matching sofas—one big, one small—in a warm brown hue. They look inviting, but I need to check out the rest of this place. The giant flat TV on the wall holds no interest for me right now—maybe later when my shows are on.

The dining room table is filled with clutter—piles of papers, books, and a few boxes. Two desks, a sewing machine, and several large bins line the wall, crowding out a sideboard and china closet. This must be their junk room.

The next room, the kitchen, is huge. Six wooden chairs surround the matching table. A microwave, coffeemaker, and toaster oven are the sole occupants of the spacious blue-green speckled granite counter tops. In fact, the only thing that looks out of place in this room—besides me—is a large red and black duffel bag on the floor near the side door.

I run my hand across the smooth glass panel of the stovetop. I’ve seen stoves like this, but I’ve never used one before. At least I don’t think I have. Instead of burners, there are white circles on an otherwise black stovetop.

“Mom! Get away from the stove.”

I jump and turn to see the woman rushing toward me. “I wasn’t going to break it.”
She takes hold of my arm and slowly pulls me toward the table. “I know.” Her voice is only slightly calmer than a moment ago. “But we agreed that if you were going to stay here you wouldn’t do any cooking. If you need something, you let me or somebody else know.”

ABOUT FORGET THE MESS-IT’S TIME FOR A STORY!

A collection of six stories intended to entertain and encourage.
My Good Son – The son she remembers is missing; and who is this man calling her “Ma”?
Pretense – Sister-relationships can be complicated, especially if you’re afraid to tell the truth.
Another Day – Clara looks for a way—and a reason—to keep going.
Spectator – When watching other people’s lives is more interesting than living your own, maybe you need to take some action.
Taking Care of His Wife – Brad promised to take care of Megan forever—but he never said exactly how he would do that.
Love Your Frenemies – When Jesus said to love your neighbor, he couldn’t have meant Gina’s neighbor, Anna.

Forget the Mess—It’s Time for a Story is available in paperback form at Amazon. A kindle version will be available soon.

ABOUT DONNA DeLORETTO BRENNAN
 
Donna DeLoretto Brennan was a technical writer for over ten years before becoming a computer programmer. Since leaving the corporate world after her twins were born, she’s had short stories, interviews, and nonfiction articles published online and in print magazines. She’s spoken at writing conferences and other events.
She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group (GLVWG). She’s served in various capacities on the GLVWG board, including several terms as Conference Chair. She’s always looking for opportunities to encourage others and to share what she’s learned.
Donna’s website is www.DegunkingLife.com.

November 27, 2019

STAYING FOCUSED

 


PLEASE WELCOME
MARTIN WILES
TO
DEVOTIONAL WEDNESDAY

Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?” Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” John 21:21-22 NLT
Although he tries his best, maintaining it tests him.

Focusing is challenging for our oldest grandson. He’s high strung and carries a Type A personality. A combination that opposes his concentration. As I taught him phonics in preparation for his first year at school, he struggled.

Several things had to happen for him to focus.

I had to eliminate all distractions. His brother couldn’t be nearby, the television had to be off, other electronics couldn’t be playing, and I had to promise him a reward. The reward involved playing a word game on my computer.

So we established a daily routine. I’d write the new words on paper, he would learn to sound them out and then sound them together, and then he’d write them. As a reward, we’d use a game on the computer that made flashcards, sounds, typing exercises, and matching with the words he’d learned.

Knowing this was coming at the end of our session helped him focus on the parts of our session he didn’t particularly care for.

Staying focused isn’t always only a childhood challenge. Peter was an adult, and he had trouble focusing … on what God wanted him to do. He wanted to focus on what Jesus had in mind for John. Jesus in so many words told him to mind his own business. Stay focused. He eventually did, and God used him in miraculous ways as an early leader of the church.

God gifts all of His children and matches our gifts to the unique personalities He implants in us. How He will use my grandson’s, I have no clue, but if my grandson chooses to follow God we’ll find out soon enough. Even those with the same personalities God uses in various ways.

God matches our personality to His plan for us. And He has a plan. He has something in mind for each of us to do. That’s where we should direct our focus. Others may make suggestions—and we may have our own ideas—but finding God’s plan is most important.
When we stay focused on God’s plan for us—as Jesus told Peter to do—we’ll experience joy and peace as we never have before. Focusing on what the Creator created us to do always makes life enjoyable.

Discover God’s plan for you, and enjoy life to its fullest.

ABOUT MARTIN WILES

Martin Wiles lives in Greenwood and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, minister, and author who serves as Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as a proof-editor for Courier Publishing. He is the author of six books and has been published in numerous publications. His most recent book, A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapades in a Busy World, released in December 2019.

ABOUT A WHISPER IN THE WOODS

A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Noisy World takes the reader out of the noise that often accompanies living in this world and into the quiet escapades of wooded areas where the voice of God is more clearly heard. A Whisper in the Woods was birthed from the author’s numerous treks with his two children and his middle brother in mountainous areas on the eastern coast of the United States. Through these hiking and camping experiences, God taught the author valuable lessons that have seen him through many difficult life experiences. As you walk with him through the mountain valleys and over the high summits, you too will hear God whisper words of comfort to you
Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Whisper-Woods-Quiet-Escapes-Noisy/dp/1620208652

November 25, 2019

TECHNO BLUES

  BY LINDA WOOD RONDEAU


I surrendered many years ago.
But I still don’t have to like the technological age.
What is a techno klutz like me supposed to do to survive?
I asked Google assist. It’s answer, albeit in a polite voice, “My apologies. I don’t know how to help with that.”
If I don’t word my questions precisely, I confuse a robot.
And it’s hard to argue with a robot.
At least Google is good at finding my phone for me.
Hubs and I have gone the way of many. We got rid of our landline and now use only our cell phones. I must admit, texting is better than emailing at times. Though … bad eyes and fat fingers make my texts look like a foreign language.
I do keep my phone powered on all the time while at home. And I’ve set up the recommended notifications. But, unfortunately, remembering to bring the phone with me from room to room is a challenge. I warn folks that it’s better to email me if they want a fast answer since I’m on my computer most of the day.
I wonder if these new devices are truly objects for convenience. Not with an addled brain that can’t remember my code for the house alarm.
Or my brother’s.
Once, when I babysat their cats while they were away. I tripped their house alarm. After about five minutes, I figured out something was wrong and turned off the device with the remote. The alarm company called, as I expected, but the password was in the car. “Can you call me back in two minutes? I’m the cat sitter and I have to go find the password.” Talk about sounding suspicious.
They called back, I gave them the password, and they were content.
Or so I thought.
Apparently, my brother’s sophisticated alarm system notifies two people. And while I was on the phone talking to one person, another person was calling my brother; and the two of them never communicated with one another.
An hour or so later, there was an urgent email from my brother.
Where are you? The alarm went off and I couldn’t get hold of you. I left two messages on your phone. I called the police.  
Since I go hours without looking for my phone … it’s almost always in another room … I didn’t get the message on a timely basis.
In times like this, I want to go back to using a landline.
But, no one would call me on it. So why bother?

ABOUT LINDA WOOD RONDEAU

Multi-published and award-winning author, Linda Wood Rondeau is a veteran social worker whose books examine the complexities of human relationships. Previously residing in Northern New York, the author now resides in Hagerstown, Maryland with her best friend in life, her spouse of over forty years. Though the author primarily writes fiction, her book, I Prayed for Patience/God Gave Me Children is a critically acclaimed adventure in parenting. Watch for her next nonfiction book, Who Put the Vinegar in the Salt/Called to a Higher Standard to be released later in 2020. A recent fiction work, Hosea’s Heart, explores the complexities of the mandate to forgive as God has forgiven us. Watch for her next fiction work, second Helpings, to be released in Spring, 2020. Her blog, Snark and Sensibility, hosts writers of various genres. Also, the author manages a Facebook page, Having the Prime of My Life, a positive look at aging issues. Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com. Contact the author on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Linda’s Christmas Books buy Links: A Christmas Prayer (print), A Christmas Prayer (ebook) It Really IS a Wonderful Life, Miracle on Maple Street, and Snow on Bald Mountain


                                


          



November 22, 2019

FOREVER LATELY




PLEASE WELCOME
LINORE BURKARD
TO
FICTION FRIDAY

WHY I WROTE A REGENCY TIME-TRAVEL ROMANCE

I wanted to write a Regency time travel for years. When I saw the movie “Kate and Leopold” with Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman I thought, Oh no! Someone used my idea! But I needn’t have worried. Leopold was a Victorian gentleman, not from the Regency, first of all, and secondly, though I enjoyed the flick, I kept thinking it missed so many opportunities for humor. (Having written a screenplay since then, I realize now why it missed so many; tight scripts just don’t have room for all the scenes that could be fun.) When I wrote my story, however, not only was it fundamentally different and unique, but I was able to include the humorous scenes that had been floating around in my head for eons. This makes the book a lot of fun—particularly when the Regency hero shows up in the present day. On a side note, I started the book years ago and then dropped it, mostly because I wanted to write it as a Christian romance like my other Regencies. But I kept running into roadblocks. And Christian publishers weren’t interested in time travel. Finally, I realized I had to let God out of MY box and write the story He was giving me, not the one I thought He should give me. After that, it came together remarkably easily, and I think in a very fun way.

Due to reader interest in a sequel, I’m now brainstorming that book

ABOUT FOREVER LATELY

1816, England
Julian St. John needs a wife. An oath to a deceased guardian must be kept. Miss Clarissa Andrews, a
vexatious beauty has dangled after him all season, but he has no intention of choosing such a she-devil.

Maine, Present Day
Author Claire Channing is desperate to write a bestseller to save her failing career. She moves into her grandmother's abandoned cottage to write the book, but a local resort baron wants to raze the place. Without the deed, the clock is ticking on how long she can stay. She thinks she’s writing St. John's story. But when she discovers an old prayer shawl and finds herself in his Regency world, she falls in love with
him, a man she thought she invented! Miss Andrews, however, is also real—and she’d rather see Julian dead than in another woman's arms!
Claire must beat the clock to prevent a deadly tragedy, but can Love beat the limits of time itself?
Purchase links
Purchase link: ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WXB3F4C/
Purchase link: Print: https://www.amzn.to/2MDOTwn
B&N purchase link: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/1133341716?ean=9781733311106

ABOUT LINORE BURKARD

Linore Rose Burkard is a serious watcher of period films, a Janeite, and hopeless romantic. An award-winning author best known for Inspirational Regency Romance, her first book opened the genre for the CBA. Besides historical romance, Linore writes contemporary suspense (The Pulse Effex Series, as L.R. Burkard), contemporary romance
(Falling In), and romantic short stories. Linore has a magna cum laude English Lit. degree from CUNY which she earned while taking herself far too seriously. She now resides in Ohio with her husband and family, where she turns her youthful angst into character or humor-driven plots.

Linore is Vice President of the Dayton Scribes, and a Regional Director of CAN, Christian Authors Network. She founded Lilliput Press, a vehicle for Indie Publishing, where “little dreams become books.”

Sign up for Linore's newsletter to be automatically entered into monthly book drawings. You'll also receive a free novella, Coach and Four: Allisandra's Tale, set in the days of King Charles II!
Enter your

November 20, 2019

GOD'S DO-OVERS

  

PLEASE WELCOME
LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT
TO
DEVOTIONAL WEDNESDAY

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I watched City Slickers for the umpteenth time. For those of you not familiar with the movie, Billy Crystal stars as a man who is approaching his fortieth birthday with dread. His friends also seem to be having mid-life crises. In an attempt to find happiness and contentment, the men visit a dude ranch where they learn a lot more than how to be a cowboy. By the end of the movie, the trio decides life can be a do-over, and each man vows to start fresh.

I enjoy the film and its many laugh-out-loud moments, but this latest viewing got me thinking about my own life. I cogitated over regrets and missed opportunities. Memories washed through my mind of times I’d failed to live up to God’s standard. It wasn’t long before I was wallowing in low self-esteem, quickly forgetting that life is indeed a do-over.

Fortunately, God met me where I was and reminded me that in fact, each moment can be a do-over.
Think about it. We’re sinful, fallen people, so we’re going to mess up (some days more often than others!). The good news…no, the great news…is that God made provisions for us. He sent His Son to take our place, and all we have to do is accept His substitution on our behalf. There is a laundry list of men and women in the Bible who failed, many of them in whopping-over-the-top ways. But God forgave them every time, blessed them, and used them to further his kingdom. Despite their shortcomings. Or perhaps because of them.

After all, He is strong in our weakness.
Are you living with remorse? Anger? God can take all of that away for you. He can give you the gift of a “do-over.” All you have to do is ask, then rest in His promise to forgive and forget.

“Lo, for my own welfare I had great bitterness;
it is You who has kept my soul from the pit of nothingness,
for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.” Isaiah 38:17

ABOUT LOVE’S ALLEGIANCE

With most U.S. boys fighting for Uncle Sam in far off countries, Rochelle Addams has given up hope for a wedding in her future. Then she receives an intriguing offer from a distant relative to consider a marriage of convenience.
Conscientious objector Irwin Terrell is looking forward to his assignment at Shady Hills Mental hospital to minister to the less fortunate in lieu of bearing arms. At the arrival of the potential bride his father has selected for him, Irwin’s well-ordered life is turned upside down. And after being left at the altar two years ago, he has no interest in risking romance again.
Despite his best efforts to remain aloof to Rochelle, Irwin is drawn to the enigmatic and beautiful young woman, but will time run out before his wounded heart can find room for her?
Inspired by the biblical love story of Rebekkah and Isaac, Love’s Allegiance explores the struggles and sacrifices of those whose beliefs were at odds with a world at war. Available alone or as part of the Wartime Brides Collection.
Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/2NIAbEC

ABOUT LINDA SHENTON MATCHETT

Linda Shenton Matchett writes about ordinary people who did extraordinary things in days gone by. She is a volunteer docent and archivist for the Wright Museum of WWII and is a trustee for her local public library. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Linda was born a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry and has lived in historic places all her life. Now located in central New Hampshire, her favorite activities include exploring historic sites and immersing herself in the imaginary worlds created by other authors.
Social Media Links:
Website/blog: http://www.LindaShentonMatchett.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LindaShentonMatchettAuthor
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lindasmatchett
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lindasmatchett
Bookbub: http://bookbub.com/authors/linda-shenton-matchett
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author_linda_matchett
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Shenton-Matchett/e/B01DNB54S0
Newsletter signup: https://mailchi.mp/74bb7b34c9c2/lindashentonmatchettnewsletter

November 18, 2019

ADAPT OR DIE

  by LINDA WOOD RONDEAU

Photo by Ramiro Mendes on Unsplash
 
 I have been retired from the work-a-day world for nineteen years. Yikes. I just grew ten more gray hairs in admitting how much time has passed since I left the human services field to pursue a writing career.

Perhaps I didn’t think about how fast the world was changing when I worked for a paycheck. Then change was part of my everyday existence.

Not so in retirement life. So much easier to resist.

When I fight change, I look back to a retirement job I took on shortly after moving to Florida in 2011 .. a cashier’s job at a Kohl’s store. When the man said, “Life goes in circles,” I thought he meant incontinence, not working for minimum wage again.

My first part-time job was at W.T. Grants. When I interviewed for the Kohl’s job, the twenty-something assistant manager said, “Never heard of it.” Not surprising since the chain went out of business in 1975 (circa), long before some of my co-workers were born.

Resources say that W.T. Grant went out of business because they couldn’t adapt to the changing retail industry. I guess, even businesses must adapt or die. Perhaps why online shopping has exploded. The retail industry must cater to the consumer appetite for ease and low prices or become obsolete.

As I trained for my new employment, I worried I would become as obsolete as that ill-fated department store. The computerized system with its bleeps and burps and sassafras messages on its screen wore on my nerves. Within the first hour of the first day on the job, I was ready to turn on my heels, go to the manager and say, “Thank you for hiring me. It was a fun hour. Goodbye.”

“I’m out of here,” I said and started to leave.

A woman my age, my trainer, calmly scolded me. “No. You’re not. You can do this. It took me a month to learn. Just read the top of the register.”

Encouraged, I made the conscious decision to adapt.

When I did, I actually started to enjoy the work.

Just as the manner of doing business has evolved in my lifetime, I am different too. Perhaps the great circle of life is letting go of the old and embracing the new. There is a sense of satisfaction when something hard to learn becomes a part of you. I think of the seasons of my life where that has been true. Once I could only print. Then I learned to write. Once I had no children, then I had three.
No matter where we are on life’s journey, survival depends upon our ability to adapt—whether learning to use a computerized cash register or tipping wait staff at twenty percent. (Back in the Day it was only ten percent—that’s another column for another day).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

Multi-published and award-winning author, Linda Wood Rondeau is a veteran social worker whose books examine the complexities of human relationships. Previously residing in Northern New York, the author now resides in Hagerstown, Maryland with her best friend in life, her spouse of over forty years. Though the author primarily writes fiction, her book, I Prayed for Patience/God Gave Me Children is a critically acclaimed adventure in parenting. Watch for her next nonfiction book, Who Put the Vinegar in the Salt/Called to a Higher Standard to be released later in 2020. Her most recent fiction work, Hosea’s Heart, explores the complexities of the mandate to forgive as God has forgiven us. Watch for her next fiction work, Second Helpings, to be released in Spring, 2020.  Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com. Contact the author on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or Instagram.

JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS


(Revised edition) It Really IS a Wonderful Life (AKA A Wonderful Love)
An Iraq War widow finds new purpose in her adopted home of Midville when she joins a Community Theater’s production of the play, It’s a Wonderful Life.

“This is a story you can read at any time of the year, not just Christmas time. Sweet romance with believable characters, settings, dialogue, and storyline.”
Buy Link:https://www.amazon.com/Really-Wonderful-Life-Linda-Rondeau-ebook-dp-B07YYNNNQS/dp/B07YYNNNQS/ref=mt_kindle?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=1574039535


(revised edition) A Christmas Prayer (AKA A Father’s Prayer)
A year after learning of a son’s existence, Country music legend, Ethan Jacobs returns to Jasper Falls, a place of bitter memories, to help his twelve-year-old autistic child, given up for adoption at birth. Orphaned after the death of his adoptive parents, the boy is at risk of institutionalization due to probation violations and alleged inadequate guardianship of his current caregiver, an older, adoptive sister. Given his son’s delicate emotional state, the court advises Ethan to keep his relationship to Gib secret for now. As far as Jasper Falls knows, Ethan is in town to perform a Christmas benefit, although he longs to tell the world his current hit single, A Christmas Prayer, was inspired by a son he has yet to meet. Ethan’s intent was to rescue Gib. Instead, his presence seems to complicate the child’s life even more.
Buy Link for ebook: https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Prayer-Linda-Wood-Rondeau-ebook/dp/B081CJLS8C/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=a+christmas+prayer&qid=1574039969&s=digital-text&sr=1-3
Buy Link print edition: https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Prayer-Linda-Wood-Rondeau/dp/1951080890/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=linda+wood+rondeau&qid=1574040439&sr=8-3

VANQUISHING THE CHRISTMAS BLUES

BY LINDA WOOD RONDEAU MY TURN A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS EDITION HAVING THE PRIME OF MY LIFE “I think we should cancel Christmas th...