Quote of the Weekend

“. . . I need fire and earth and wind and waves as much as I need food. I’d go mad living in this wired-up, bricked-up, fenced-in concrete street if I didn’t dose myself with fire and weather and earth and sea. My soul would get pale and thin. I don’t want a pale, thin soul.” – The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock

(This line has stuck with me for weeks and weeks. It so perfectly describes why I love water, dirt, grass, trees, and why I always have candles lit in my house. I love the elements. I love how windy Texas is. I love storms and rain. I love snow and leaves. I don’t want a pale, thin soul.)

#JanuaryWIPjoy (Part 1)

novel inspiration from Bethany

Bethany Jennings  helped me put this “inspirational poster” together of art that inspires my writing. 🙂

Author Bethany Jennings created a fun hashtag challenge for writers, with a different prompt about your WIP (work-in-progress) every day for the month of January.

A Gathering Fire posted her responses on her blog, and I thought that was a great idea! So I stole it! 🙂 (With her permission of course!)

If you want to join in visit Bethany’s Twitter profile (@simmeringmind) to see the pinned list of daily prompts!

So, here are the first thirteen days of my #JanuaryWIPjoy.

  1. “Describe your story as ___ meets ___.”

My story is a warrior story meets fairy tale meets semi-dystopian steampunk.

  1. “Why you love your protagonist.”

I love my protagonist because he experienced an undeserved rescue and is seeking to live in light of that even while he’s suffering.

  1. “A side character you love and why.”

My favorite side character is Presto the Mushroom. He is best friends with Gus the mouse and talks in third person, like the Queen. He is sarcastic and loving.

  1. “Why you love your antagonist.”

            I don’t really love anything about my antagonist. I specifically design villains that are pretty evil. Now, I do love Adele who makes choices that hurt my MC, and I love Christopher who is violent. He may get shown mercy.

  1. “You hope someday your book gets a review that says…”

            . . .this was encouraging to my faith. And I love Jonah. And I cried. For some reason, I always feel more fulfilled as a writer if I made my readers cry. I’m a horrible person. 😉

  1. “A character you’d be best friends with and why.”

            I’d be best friends with Bree. She’s a mother who has lost her husband and sons, but found someone to help. We both enjoy serving others and building them up. Plus, I share her love of trees.

  1. “The first idea or inspiration you had for this WIP.”

            The very first idea I had for this world was wanting a place where kids lost through abortion had a chance at life.

  1. “A favorite line from your WIP about a character.”

I love when Presto calls Bree a floozy:

“No, but they needed it. Their own heart had been broken, so I gave them a new one. I gave them mine.”

“Can you tell us even one little thing about who has your heart?” Presto said through a clamped jaw getting irritated. Gus grunted a warning at him.

“You know, sir,” the mouse turned to Oak. “It might be a good idea to know a little bit about this person.” Gus paused and took a deep breath. “Your heart belongs to them now and that brings responsibilities and obligations.”

“I know that they’re kind,” Oak said. He leaned forward, listening not with the ears he no longer had, or seeing with eyes no longer his own, or thinking with a mind no longer there, but remembering what he had given away. “I know they needed hope. I know great sorrow and loss marked them. She lost everything she cared about, and that loss broke her free.”

“Did you say she?” Gus said, leaning forward.

“We’ve already established Oak gave his heart to a woman,” Presto said throwing up his hands.

“Just let him keep going,” Gus hissed at him.

“Yes. I gave my heart to a woman. She loved eight men and when the last one was safe or dead, or both, she left.”

“Sounds like a bit of a floozy if you ask me,” Presto muttered, getting another pointed glare from Gus.

“No. No. Not grown men. There was only one grown man. The rest were growing men, her growing men. Her boys.”

Gus gulped. “She had seven sons. You gave your heart to the mother of seven sons?”

“No. I gave my heart to a woman with a glint in her eye and a heart for trees. I gave it to Bree.”

  1. “A favorite piece of description from your WIP.”

White flakes fell thick and fast from the flat, steel-gray sky. Brittle branches tingled stiffly in the wind. Gray sky above the gray naked branches, and white below, white falling, all lined and encased in silver ice—the world gone monochromatic.

  1. “A favorite line of dialogue from your WIP.”

“I didn’t come to earn my salvage. I came because of my salvage.” Soul’s words from yesterday morning echoed in his mind. “It’s grace. And grace gives confidence.”

  1. “A favorite line about emotion from your WIP.”

Axe pounded the punching bag. He drove his fist faster and faster into the rough canvas. Sweat soaked through his shirt. It dripped off the end of his nose and turned his light-red beard rusty. It ran over the mark Fear had put on his face—a child dead in the streets, alone—years ago as an unborn freshly harvested, a new body to hold a gun once his time as salvager had been done. Axe punched the bag again, again, again. His muscles throbbed. Each time his fist flew past his face, his eye caught the scar. Again. Again. Again. He didn’t want to think about the scar. He didn’t want to think at all. Pound. Pound. Pound. If he stopped before he washed the emotions from his mind he might lash out at someone. Bree had brought it all back up: recent events and old dusty ones.

  1. “A scene you deleted but love anyway.”

The crowded street parted. A laugh tinkled in the night like a million happy chimes. Oak cocked his head. Something amazing sat just on the edge of his vision.

“Who is that?” Presto whistled.

“That,” said someone at Oak’s elbow, “is the Lady Olive who lives in the Material World and is Guardian of all four seasons. She is the most powerful Guardian in the history of Guardians.”

Presto leaned around Oak to look at their informant. It was a pale, cream colored fawn with soft orange spots. Three horns carved up out of his head and a little beard decorated his chin. He held a lantern in one hand and an umbrella in the other.

“She smells like spring,” Oak said. “And fall.”

“And winter and summer, I presumed,” Presto grunted.

“Yes,” Oak said.

“May be we should talk to her and see if she’ll help us?” Gus said.

The fawn grunted. “Cause Guardians are well known for mixing in other creatures issues.”

“What about fellow Guardians?” Presto said.

“Even less likely,” the fawn said.

Gus look to Oak for affirmation. Oak nodded.

“Besides,” the fawn said. “You see that grumpy looking man next to her, and that wolf next to the pale man?”

“Yes,” Presto said. “Are you sure that’s a wolf? It’s huge.”

“In this world it’s a wolf. I don’t know what he is in the Material World, though rumor has it that it’s Olive’s adopted son. Regardless,” he shook his head. “That is not her entourage. That’s her husband, her wolf-son, and her husband’s best friend. Getting close to her—”

  1. A piece of feedback that made you smile.

“You are giving us a diamond with many facets. A beautiful, beautiful chapter with a fascinating conversation and lyrical description.

Work of this lyrical and literary quality will be difficult for those of us used to reading in genres to judge. I am so interested in the work, I’m willing to wait as I piece together clues, but I wonder if the typical reader will be able to handle the complexity of your prose. I like work that does not beat me over the head with obvious meaning, and I hope I’m up to the challenge of deriving meaning from this. This is the kind of book that should earn a lot of prizes.”

“Ok, now I hate you.

I was pretty sure the book was going to end with (no spoilers) dying but still hoped I could wish it away.”



More to come! Follow the discussion on Twitter and Facebook with #JanuaryWIPjoy.




Quote of the Weekend

“Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might have found more suitable mates. But the ‘real soul-mate’ is the one you are actually married to.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

(Such a happy thought and such wise words.)

Cora and the Nurse Dragon by H. L. Burke



(Click on the link to pre-order this book for $0.99. The book comes out January 31st!)

(I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

I love this story. I read it about a month ago and I’m still delighted with it. I think the main reason for my enjoyment is the connection I felt to the main character, Cora. If you put her in a modern setting and gave her a love for horses instead of dragons, she’d be me.

This book had a special kind of magic. From the opening paragraph on, I loved every minute of it. Cora loves dragons and dreams of being a dragon jockey when she grows up. She saves her money up to hatch eggs but generally just gets short-lived mayflies . . . until one day! And her adventures begin.

The other reason I thought this story was super fun was the ‘80/’90’s save-the-animal feeling. You know those movies where a kid finds a wild animal, raises it, falls in love with it, and then tearfully has to . . . well I don’t want to spoil it, but there were tears! Like those fun kid movies, this book wasn’t too heavy handed or preachy about animal rights. It was more about treating animals kindly than denouncing evil humanity. (Sarcasm.)

This makes the book a perfect opening to talk to your kids about how we treat animals, and what is right and wrong about that. Another talking point this book provides is business. Cora and her best friend start their own company and there is some great moments of them trying to figure out how to cover their costs and still make a profit and what to do with that profit.

In summary, this book is a clean, fun adventure that has a few dark moments, but ends well with the added bonus of providing some great opportunities for conversation between readers.

I can’t wait to share this book with my two twelve-year-old nieces!

Rated: PG: I only say this because there are mistreated animals and the kids get tangled up with some bad people. There is no language, sex, or gratuitous violence. Again, think Dumbo Drop or something like that.


Courtesy of Google.

Quote of the Weekend

” “…Oh, Mother, you haven’t said. What do you think a friend is?”

Mother frowned thoughtfully and carried on nipping the little stalks off her gooseberries without replying. She said eventually, “Well . . . I’ve had friends who’ve disappointed me. Sometimes, even the ones who loved me have let me down, and not understood, and betrayed my trust. That’s only human nature, isn’t it? I daresay I’ve done as much to them. No, I would say . . . I learned it from a story great-grandmother Melissa told me . . . I would say that because we all have our failings and weaknesses, because each of us is only human, a friend–a good friend–is someone who helps you to persevere.”

“What?” said Therese.

“A friend is someone who helps you to persevere. When the going gets tough and you’re on the point of jacking it all in; by the time you reach my age, Therese, you will be able to look back at lots of times when you nearly gave up and walked away from a difficult situation; and the people you will remember with thanks and love are the ones who helped you, in those moments, to persevere.” ”

– The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock

(The older I get the more true this becomes especially in a local church environment. I’m so thankful for so many dear friends who have helped me persevere.) (Are you sick of quotes from this book yet?)

Pencil Dancing Chapter 3


This man! He’s all wrapped up in my “most important” list!

Pencil Dancing Chapter 1

Pencil Dancing Chapter 2


It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. Poo. Since the holidays are over, I’m itching to do some projects I’ve had to postpone for over a year now. Time to dive back into housekeeping without, obviously, over doing it. I keep repeating this to you and to myself because I’m in grave danger of doing too much the minute I feel even slightly better. Take it slow…

Which leads right into this chapter of the book: Time . . .and time, Again.

This chapter is all about Hurry Sickness. Before last year, I hardly ever took time to just sit and do nothing. Even the idea of quietly letting your thoughts rumble around without being productive seemed, well, sacraligious or something.

Now, after a year of battling this virus, I can say that down time is vital to housekeeping and life in general.

The first question at the end of this chapter is all about doing nothing for 30 minutes. I’ve done plenty of that for a long time, so I think question 2 is a better use of my time.

Make a list of five of the most important things you give your time to. What’s the most meaningful one? Why? Is anything missing from your list that could further your creative growth or add pleasure and dimension to your life? Write your thoughts.

My five most important things I give my time to:

  1. My Church: under this heading, I’m including my husband since he is a fellow church member and my closest neighbor. He is my first field of service.
  2. My Family: I’m fortunate enough to be able to include my family in with my church! But, family day is hardly serving, generally, so that’s why my family is second on the list.
  3. My Home: this sums up the actual brick and mortar location. It includes the yard, trees, cars, and house—both interior and exterior.
  4. Encouraging Others: there is nothing I love more than being encouraging to those around me. Whether this means a smile for the bank teller, a birthday wish on FaceBook, a text to a friend, or a not sent in the mail, I enjoy lifting others up. This often also ties into my family.
  5. Stories: I love stories in any form. From music, movies, books, audio books, my own writing, other people’s writing, I love stories. I don’t know if this should be a most important, but it takes up a lot of my time thus it’s included.

These people are some of my most favorites!



The most meaningful one on here is serving my Church. All the other important things flow from it and often tie back into it. Some of them are specific out-workings of that service. As a Christian, based on the merits of Christ, why would I want to do anything other than pour myself out for the church? He died for us, we should live for him.

I don’t think I really see anything missing that could add more creative dimensions to my life. The Stories alone feed my creativity and bleed into the other areas, while they all interrelate and interlock with one another.

It is interesting to note that 3 out of the 5 important things are people related. See why those little online quizzes are never sure if I’m an introvert or an extrovert?

Before I got sick, I spent lots of my time going and going. I tried to keep up with all the projects and was constantly on the go between church and family. Now, my view has narrowed. I’ve had to learn to do many of these things more quietly and less often. I’ve had to learn to send more text messages, FB posts, and Notes in place of my physical presence.

This had not been an easy transition for me. I think that in some ways I was so used to/addicted to the adrenaline from pushing myself all the time that I didn’t know how to quite. God sure did. Thank you EBV.

Life has slowed down, but my priorities remain the same and I’m thankful for the creativity God allows me to express in my service to my church, my love of my family, my home, encouraging others, and through stories.

He is a generous God!

The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock

untitled (5)

Courtesy of Google.


This book sat on my book shelf for several months. A friend, who I should have trusted, loaned it to me, but the cover looked like a Christian romance novel. The blurb on the back made it sound like a Christian romance novel. I put of reading it for a long time.

One day, bored with my book selection and with out the energy to work on my own story, I picked up this book. It grabbed me from the opening sentence. And it is not a Christian romance novel. Not at all.

It’s hard to write a review for this book.

It’s so studded with beautiful hidden gems. I won’t say it’s theologically sound. There were moments when I wanted to yell about the simplicity of God and such, but there was a great human beauty and some deep theological truths shown through suffering.

The first two books were written with the current Melissa being told the stories passed from Melissa to Melissa generation after generation. Several reviewers didn’t seem to enjoy that element of the story, but oral storytelling is an impressive art and it was enjoyable to see it showcased. The third book dropped Melissa and her mother completely. While the story lost none of it’s power, I missed that element.

As I neared the end of this book, I stopped reading it. Not because I wasn’t enjoying it. Quite the opposite. It was because I knew it would be painful to compete it. I wasn’t wrong. Lots of tears.

The only book I can think of to compare this one to is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. They both have a beautiful way with words, description, and capture the human spirit.

The monastic setting of the story was far more enjoyable than I suspected lending the book an otherworldly feel without becoming a fantasy novel. The friendship, heartache, longing, sufferings, and failings of these men drives the story forward in a soft poetic beauty that is both rending and calming.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Ignore the cover and the synopsis. They have almost nothing to do with the actual story.

Read this book and in many ways your soul will be blessed and fed.

(If you click on the link it will take you to amazon. If you purchase the book from there I get a small kick-back. So thanks!)

Quote of the Weekend

“It was one of those brief spells of complete happiness that come once in a rare while,  an unlooked-for gift of God,  when the forces of darkness,  of sorrow and temptation seem miraculously held back,  a breathing- space in the battle.” – The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock

What beauty!