Friday, August 30, 2013

15 Day Blogger Challange - Day 3

Who Are Your Blogging BFF's?

I have to admit I'm not that great about keeping up with my own blog let alone anyone else's. It's too easy to get sucked into reading the many good blogs out there and before I know it half the day is gone and I've accomplished nothing - except to read some excellent blogs.

However, there are a few blogs I do try to keep up with. I have listed their links below in hopes that you will visit and enjoy them as much as I do.

I "met" Jenny several years ago when she reviewed a book my mom wrote. Jenny is just a personable lady to me. I enjoy perusing her blog and getting ideas of books to read next. We also share a love of history. While she lives on the other side of the globe, I do hope that maybe someday in our travels we will meet up. I think we could spend an entire weekend talking and not run out of things to say.

Jan is an acquaintance of mine that I wish I knew better. I like Jan's posts because she is all the things I'm not. Her ideas and recipes would be all the things I would post on Pinterest, if I had a Pinterest account, and would never actually do. Go check out her blog for some truly unique and interesting ideas.

I have known Kate the longest. In fact, I have a hard time typing Kate as opposed to Katie, which is how I first knew her. She is like family to me. Her blog is a recent creation of hers and I love it! I love her writing style. Her stories always suck me in and make me stay until the end. Kate takes stories from the Bible and makes them understandable and more personal to everyone. You can find her new blog at:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

15 Day Blogger Challenge - Day 2

What's Your Bedtime Reading Ritual?

I do often read before I go to bed. There isn't usually much on TV worth watching or my husband may want to watch something I don't care about. There are times when I do want to watch something, but my husband is tired and wants to sleep. Since my hearing isn't what it used to be I have to have the volume up loud enough that it disturbs him. When I'm not ready to go to sleep, it's a book to the rescue.

Reading a book is quiet so he isn't disturbed. It is relaxing so it makes me want to fall asleep. Unless, of course, it's one of those page-turners that I keep saying to myself, "Ill put it away at the end of this chapter." But then I get to the end of the chapter and there's no way I'm putting the book down yet. You know exactly what I mean. You know you've been there, too.

The days following those late nights of reading are a little long, but when it comes time to go to bed that night, the book-reading ritual starts all over again.

How about you? Do you read before you go to bed at night? Do you have a ritual?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

15 Day Blogger Challenge - Day 1

Someone recently asked me about doing a 15 Day Blogger Challenge. During this challenge I will be answering questions set up for me. Hopefully this will accomplish two things. I hope it will help you get to know me a little better, and I also hope it will help me be a little more consistent with blog entries.

So, here we are on Day 1.

Make 15 Book Related Confessions

1. I love the way a new book smells.

2. I am a book hoarder.

3. I can never have too many books.

4. Books are a girl's best friend.

5. I don't usually read books more than once. Why would I when there's so many more to choose from?

6. I am never without a book nearby. Reading is the best activity to do while waiting in line or waiting for kids.

7. More often than not, I read 2-3 books at a time.

8. I started writing book reviews just so I could get more books.

9. Reading a book while soaking up the sun is my summer guilty pleasure - even if I have work to do.

10. I don't like every book I read. Some I hate.

11. I find mistakes in many (if not all) of the books I read.

12. I have books in my library that I've owned since I was a very small child. (The hoarding started young apparently.)

13. It's extremely hard to pick a favorite book. My favorite might change with the next book I read.

14. I much prefer print books over digital copies. There's no paper to smell with a digital book.

15. I get excited every time a new book comes in the mail.

How about you? Do you have a book confession? Leave it in the comments.

Come back tomorrow for the answer to another question.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Guest Post with Author Deborah Heal


Writing Christian fiction is not for the faint of heart. As my friend Tom Jones (the pastor not the pop star) recently told me, if you’re going to be a writer you have to grow a thick skin because people will criticize.

A few weeks ago, I received a criticism of my young adult trilogy from a friend of mine who is a deacon in the Episcopal Church. She said that teenagers are going to roll their eyes at my characters Abby and John for their commitment to sexual abstinence. She assured me that mainline denominations believe that concept is misogynous and outdated, and that as long as the couple is mature enough and respect each other enough, sexual activity is suitable and even assumed—especially if they are engaged.* See more below.

A recent (3-star) review of Every Hill and Mountain by SKJAM! REVIEWS closely mirrors her view.
“This book is aimed at the Christian young adult market, so there is quite a bit of God-talk …The sexual prudishness of the protagonists will probably have older teens, particularly ones not raised in more conservative Christian communities, rolling their eyes. Conservative Christian parents, on the other hand, are likely to approve of Abby and John’s chaste relationship.…”
This same reviewer jumps to the conclusion that the reason my characters are so “prudish” is because they’ve been the victims of an abstinence-only sex-ed program. He continues:
“And [Ryan’s] reasoning for having sex with Kate shows the perils of abstinence-only sex-ed and purity culture–a more streetwise woman than Kate would have noticed how bogus the logic was.”

Speaking of bogus logic. Modern sex-ed programs do everything but assist teens into bed with so-called “safe sex” instructions. It is the abstinence-only programs that teach girls (and boys) to be “street smart,” to warn them of the perils of listening to their hormones talking.

Of course, I was quite conscious as I wrote the trilogy that our culture has taken the position that abstinence is passé, uncool, unnecessary, and an impossibility. (And possibly even dangerous to the health of its practitioners.) No one could watch contemporary TV or movies or read secular novels without realizing that “dating” (if the word is used at all) equates with a sexual relationship. Actually, “relationship” itself equates with sexual activity.

And I knew that many contemporary mainline denominations are silent about what the Bible says about sexual purity. My deacon friend actually asserts the Bible doesn’t even teach this.

But I have to admit I’m more than a little shocked that this reviewer and especially my deacon friend would find Abby and John’s commitment to abstinence a negative. After all, even if you believe that it is impossible to live a sexually pure life wouldn’t you still want novels to present this ideal to teenagers? I would say that although it is impossible to fully live up to any of the Bible’s commands we still need to hear what they are. (And turn to Christ as the law’s fulfillment.)

I once read an article in which young people had been interviewed about teen novels that adults write for them. More than one complained that adults seemed only to write about teens having sex and using alcohol and drugs. “We think about more than that,” one girl said. “We think about lots of other things, important things.”

I respect that and try to offer teens substance in my books. I believe they are looking for heroes and role models such as my fictional characters, Abby and John. I disagree that my characters are sexually repressed prudes. Here is the passage from Every Hill and Mountain that apparently offended my critics. Abby and Kate’s boyfriends are stuck at Abby’s house and spend the night downstairs in the living room. During the night, an emergency comes up and Abby must find her boyfriend John quickly.

The tricky part would be finding John. Pat had brought a sleeping bag from the hall closet for him, but Abby had no idea where he put it. Other than the soft snores coming from the vicinity of the couch, the room was completely quiet.

She discovered the answer to her question when a hand came out of the darkness and grabbed her ankle. She stumbled and landed on a warm chest. A bare warm chest, from which came a soft whoosh of air. Right after the whoosh, a large hand covered her mouth. The precaution was unnecessary. She had recognized John’s cologne and knew in an instant that it was no nightmare monster attacking her.

He put his mouth to her ear and whispered, “What are you doing here? I thought [Ryan] Turner was the one planning on nighttime shenanigans.”

Abby pulled his hand away from her mouth and tried for indignant, which was difficult when whispering. “Don’t be ridiculous, Mr. Roberts. If I was inclined to get into your bed, and I’m not, it wouldn’t be with Ryan in the room.”

“Well, you are in fact in my bed, and you’d better get out of it quick. I know the Bible says God will never give us any temptation stronger than what we can handle, but…”

“Just to be clear, you are the one who dragged me into your bed, and—”

“Abby. Please. Have pity. What is it you want?”

If felt wonderful being in John’s arms, but she had promised him and God that she wouldn’t intentionally tempt him to break his commitment—their commitment—to abstinence.

“Come up to the computer room,” she whispered. “There’s something you have to see.” And then she rose less than gracefully and stood looking down at him. “And don’t wake Ryan.” 

I think they’re being heroic, not prudish. After all, they certainly think sex together would be pretty wonderful. Consider another passage that exemplifies the thinking more typical of our culture today. Here, Abby’s friend Kate tries to convince her that premarital sex is okay.
“Ryan said virginity is like a tamper-proof seal on a bottle of aspirin. It’s meant for the man you’re going to marry. And now that we know we’re getting married, what’s the point of waiting. You’ll see when you’re engaged, Abby.” Kate turned on her side away from her. “Let’s get some sleep.”
Abby lay staring up at the blinking red smoke detector light on the dark ceiling, wondering if she even really knew her roommate any more.
How sad that Kate has fallen for that line. It’s not that she lacks “street smarts.” She just forgot to run away from temptation, something that John becomes quite adept at in Unclaimed Legacy.

It would be wonderful if everyone who read my books loved them (and posted glowing reviews for them.) But as they say, you can’t please all the people all the time. However, I really listen to every comment I receive about my books, whether positive or negative. Sometimes I learn some pretty good stuff that will help me to be a better writer.

But not this time. I pray that I will remain firm in my commitment to please God rather than reviewers.

*But back to mainline denominations. Is my deaconess friend even right about their teachings on sex? Do you have experience with such churches? I sincerely would like to know their various positions on sex. Wait! that came out wrong. I mean, I would like to understand what churches are teaching about sex today. You may leave your answer in the comment section of my blog. Click here to go to the article. 

By the way, I am a prudish and happy member of a “radical, extremist, and conservative” denomination that still believes premarital sex is sin. I live with my husband in Waterloo, Illinois, where I enjoy reading (of course), gardening, and learning about regional history. We have three children, four grandchildren, and two canine buddies Scout and Digger.

I love to interact with my readers, who may learn more about the history behind the books at my website my Facebook author page. My books may be purchased in paper and ebook formats at Click on the books below to go directly to Amazon.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Song I Knew by Heart

Book Club Wednesday

This past month our book club read A Song I Knew by Heart by Bret Lott. I have to admit – this was not my favorite book. It intrigued me because it was a modern day retelling of the story of the biblical Naomi and Ruth. Not too far into the book I had to separate this story from the real thing. I thought that might make the story a little better, but not so much!
I know the writing style is subjective, but I didn’t really like this particular author’s style. I understand he was trying to make her sound southern and use that vernacular, but this Yankee girl had trouble reading it. I found Naomi’s conversation somewhere between Yoda and Jacob Two-Two. Some sentences were worded backwards and many more were repetitive.
However, there were some nice moments in the book where the relationship between Naomi and Ruth was obvious.

At Book Club - I have discovered, after years of reading books together, that the ladies in Book Club are pretty united when it comes to liking or not liking a book. This was definitely a favorite of the group. But reading sometimes forces you to open your eyes and really think about what you believe and why you believe it. This book brought on some good discussion among us.

If this is a book you might like to read, here is a link to it on Amazon.

Next month’s book is Same Kind of Different as Me

Remember, you can find direct links to many of the books I review on my Book Links page. No searching for you; I've already done all the work!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sisterly Love

Flashback Friday

Today’s flashback is all about sisters. There is something about the bond between sisters that is truly special. Sometimes sisters may not like each other, but there is always love. No one is allowed to pick on your little sister except you. Big sisters have a strong defense mechanism when it comes to little sisters, I know. I tell my daughters that they will one day be best friends. I'm not sure they believe me right now, but I have faith the day will come.

Here are a few stories about the Doner sisters.
Disclaimer – Some stories have had names removed so I can remain in their good graces.

Sisterly Love
They call Philadelphia the city of brotherly love. I think Jordan was the town of sisterly love. Sisters give each other certain annoyances and I had two sisters so that was two times the annoyances. One of my pet peeves was that when it was one sister in particular’s turn to do the dishes, she always left some, especially if it was her last day (we had dish duty for a week at a time). That way she wouldn’t have to do everything and the next sister would have to finish up her undone chores.

Where's my underwear?

One sister got on another sister’s nerves by taking her clothes and wearing them even the undies!

You Want One of These?
There was one time Martha and Sarah were fighting about something. It was probably nothing really important in the grand scheme of life. As soon as Sarah left the room, Martha opened her big mouth and said something else to upset her. Sarah came sliding across the carpet back into the room with her fists up to Martha’s face and asked, “Do you want one of these?” Of course, she was probably about six at that time so she wasn’t very threatening, not that she's threatening now, either. Martha and I both burst out laughing and laughed till our sides hurt. Sarah just had to walk away madder and more annoyed than before. We still laugh about it to this day, at least Martha and I do.

Another annoying, not to mention disgusting habits of one of my sisters, was biting her toenails. Every once in a while, we would be watching TV and look over and there she would be chomping away and spitting them out just like someone would chomp at their fingernails. Fortunately she grew out of that habit.

Food Fights

Then there was the dinner table. After mom and dad excused themselves to go and watch the news, we would have food fights. That is how we disposed of the food we didn’t want to eat. We were always eager to sweep the floor after dinner to sweep up all the peas that either rolled down towards mom end of the table or the ones that were quietly thrown when mom and dad couldn’t see. We swept carefully to get rid of the evidence.
One night we had tuna noodle casserole. One sister had been getting on my nerves all day. She pushed me far enough for me to push her face right into her dinner. She came up dripping with noodles and a pea rolling out one of her nostrils. She didn’t bother me for the rest of the night.

Best Friends

I’m sure everyone who has sisters has similar stories. While my little sisters may have annoyed me from time to time when we were kids, today these women are my best friends. I don’t get to spend nearly as much time with them as I would like, but they are always close to me in heart.

I'm not really THAT old; Civil War events where we dressed up was just one of the things my parents subjected us to. I blame them for my love of history.

                                Christmas around 1980

Obviously this sister and I don't have a "no pics on the Internet pact" as I do with my other sister. I'm not too worried; this sister never gets online to see it! And really, what's she going to do about it? Beat me up???
Here is a better picture of me and my "pactless" sister. See, I can be nice. 

My sisters and our mom on my wedding day, April 13, 1991. This is our last picture all together.