Thursday, July 31, 2014

Inspired By Nature

Nature is another thing that encourages and inspires me to write. I can watch a child run through a field and all of a sudden I have a new idea for a story.

The scenery in Belonging is not from my imagination; rather, it was from my childhood. I loved growing up out in the country. The world seemed so big and so small at the same time. The wide open farmland surrounding my house made it seem big. Knowing absolutely everyone who lived around me made it seem small.

So, in honor of my childhood home, please enjoy the scenery below.









Share a pic of your childhood home. Share it anywhere you please, just be sure to tag me in it so I can see it. You never know, it might give me inspiration for a new story!

Click on the book cover to go to Amazon to purchase the book. Don't forget to leave your review to be entered in the Kindle giveaway contest.

Quote from Belonging:

The weather took a turn and Shelly could not resist the sunshine that beckoned her to come out and enjoy. A walk would be just the thing to clear her mind.

While she walked she took note of her surroundings. She smiled when she saw the old apple tree he had fallen out of one time. Then, unannounced, tears began to flow uncontrollably. The thoughts of her dad were almost too much.

“Where did all this come from?” she wondered as she wiped her nose. Most days she was able to think of her father and all the good memories they shared without shedding one single tear. Apparently today was not one of those days.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Music is Good for the Soul...and the Writer!

Me in "You're a Good Man,
Charlie Brown"
I love music! I was taught how to play the recorder, the piano, and the guitar, although I haven’t played any one of them in quite some time. I used to sing in chorus at school and took part in the musical, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown my senior year in high school.

I enjoy listening to music when I’m hanging around the house cooking, cleaning, or sewing. I always have the radio on in the car when I’m driving.

Music moves me. Songs give me ideas for writing. Because of that, it seemed natural to make a soundtrack for Belonging.

Follow this link to hear the songs that put me in the mood for writing this book.

Click on the book cover to go to Amazon to purchase the book. Don't forget to leave your review to be entered in the Kindle giveaway contest.

Quote from Belonging:

Shelly put in a CD and turned the volume up loud. Classical music came blaring out of the speakers. Shelly had always loved how one piece of classical music could hold a whole range of emotions. That’s how Shelly felt at this moment. Several different emotions all vied for her undivided attention. The physical act of painting would help her release some of those emotions.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

God At Work

No matter how long I live, seeing God at work in my life will never cease to amaze me.
Years ago, (I’m not quite sure how many, but it’s been a lot!) I met this sweet, young woman at work. After Katie and I got to know each other we realized we had a lot in common – except for our taste in baseball teams. I like the Yankees, she prefers the Red Sox (Bummer! This is her only flaw as far as I know.) We both grew up in “the north.” We enjoyed walking and would often go walking after work.
Eventually, Katie went back home to Maine and we lost touch – that was before the days of Facebook.)

Then, several years later, my husband started talking about a new lady at his work, whose name was also Katie. Only when I met “his” Katie at the company Christmas party, did I realize who she was. Yes, she had gotten married (after she began working for the same company as my husband) so her last name changed. But, she had been to our house for dinner when she and I worked together. My husband’s response, “I thought she looked familiar.”

Fast forward a couple more years. Katie and I are forever (hopefully) in touch with the wonders of the Internet. Now, she’s a photographer and guess what I needed…

Behold – my book cover – thanks to Katie and her talent!



Be sure to go over and “like” her Facebook page. While you’re there, take a look at some of her photos and book a session with her. Her sweet smile will make your day, I promise.

Back to where I began this blog post. God put Katie in my life long before I ever realized our talents could work together to create something beautiful and God-honoring.

I love it when I can look back over my life and connect those God-dots!

Click on the book cover to go to Amazon to purchase the book. Don't forget to leave your review to be entered in the Kindle giveaway contest.

Quote from Belonging:

Shelly tried to protest by pulling away, but Professor Yates wouldn't let her. "Take as much time as you need, but make sure you allow God room to work. And don't worry. Your move doesn't mean the end to our relationship. I'll always be here for you whenever you need me for anything."

Monday, July 28, 2014

"Belonging" Has Arrived!



Hey, Everyone! It’s that time again. My newest book Belonging is finally coming out, just as an ebook for now. In honor of the ebook launch, I’ll be having a contest to win…wait for it…a Kindle!

There is only one way that you can earn an entry into the contest. You must post a review of the book on Amazon.

“How can I read it if I don’t own a Kindle?” you ask. Download the free Kindle App for your PC, phone, IPad, etc. Simply go to Amazon to download your free reader. For the next two weeks the ebook will be on sale for only $1.99! You have until September 29th to post your review. Purchase and download your copy by clicking on the cover at the top of the post.

Once you have read the book, post your review. After you post your review, I will print it out and put it in the “bucket.” When I draw the winner, I will post his/her name right here on my blog on September 30th, which gives everyone plenty of time to read it.

If you already own a Kindle and you win the prize, you can give someone, who doesn't own a Kindle, the best gift of their life.

Please feel free to forward this to anyone you know who likes to read and might be interested in participating in the contest.

Follow this link to read the first chapter.

Come back tomorrow to read about how God was at work long before I even knew it.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Releases Today!! Deadly Communications

Deadly Communications
 By Lillian Duncan


Please welcome Lillian Duncan to the blog today. She is here to tell us about her new release Deadly Communications.

Tell us about DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS.
Deadly Communications features Maven Morris, a speech-language pathologist (SLP) who gets a little too involved with her clients. Okay, a lot too involved. When a client she’s working with leaves abruptly, Maven is suspicious and she won’t rest until she finds her.

What’s the setting for DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS?
It takes place in the city of Wooster, Ohio. Coincidentally, it’s a city I’ve lived near most of my life. But, of course, the story is fictional and not based on reality!

How did you come up with the title for DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS?
How could that not be the title? When a speech-language pathologist (SLP) gets involved in a murder mystery, what else could you name it?

Is DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS the first book you published?
No, I’ve been blessed to have several books published in the past few years. My last release was BETRAYED in January of this year. It was the second in my Sisters By Choice series. The third, REDEMPTION, will be released in September.

Why did you write DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS? 
Three things happened within a few days of each other to inspire DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS.
First, my brother asked why I didn’t write a story featuring a speech-language pathologist. To which my answer was that it would be difficult to come up with a suspense story and an SLP.

Secondly, a few days later I was talking with someone whose daughter had been involved in an accident and was now experiencing communication difficulties.

Thirdly, as writers are prone to do, I was sitting daydreaming and had a vision of a young woman running through the woods and into ongoing traffic.

That’s all it took! My writer mind took over from there and DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS was born.

So, then it sounds as if you were a speech-language pathologist. Tell us a little about that job.
I retired as an SLP from a large city school district in Ohio, then spent several more years working part-time in smaller, rural districts near where I live. Between the two jobs, I don’t think there is any type of child I haven’t worked with at least once.

I loved my job and still miss it. Mostly I miss the children, not the paper work involved. If it weren’t for serious health issues, I would still be working.

What do you want readers to take away from DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS?
Before the story starts Maven has experienced a series of life-changing events that have led to depression. Maven chooses to get out of bed and keep moving. It’s not easy when life throws us a curve ball or two. It may not seem fair, but how we react to those things will determine the quality of our future.

As the story moves forward we see Maven struggle with her spirituality as she faces some difficult circumstances in her life. I want readers to know they can do the same.

Was it difficult to write a character with communication problems?
Not at all. In fact, that was part of the fun of writing DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS. In the scenes where Maven is working with her client, all I had to do was close my eyes, imagine the interaction, then open my eyes, and write it.

What is your writing process?
I am not an outliner. I wish I were—it seems easier to me. But my mind doesn’t work that way. I never know what is going to happen in my story on any given writing day. It’s as if my mind is a movie screen and I watch that day’s events and then I write it.

When I start a new story I usually have a clear picture of the main character in mind and what obstacle he/she will face, but anything goes after that. If I’m writing and start to feel bored—then I kill someone or blow something up. And that way it’s a surprise to me and to my readers.

Do you know who the bad guy is when you begin your story?
Not usually. Most of the time I have several characters who it might be and as the story comes to a conclusion, I’m surprised right along with my readers. DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS was no exception. I wasn’t sure who the culprit was until the very end. Maven and I suspected one person, but we were wrong!

Most people don’t think of murder mysteries and suspense novels as Christian Fiction. What do you say to them?
I can certainly understand their point of view. And for some readers my stories might be a bit too graphic or edgy and that’s okay, I would say my readers are those who like traditional suspense and mystery novels but are tired of all the explicit language and sex scenes that aren’t necessary to a good story.

I don’t promote or glorify violence in my stories and show characters experiencing the natural consequences of their bad choices and bad actions. My characters are usually on a spiritual journey as well—but some are further along than others.

Then what makes your stories Christian Fiction?
My stories always have an element of faith in them. How that plays out depends on the individual plots of each specific story. 

One more word about Christian Fiction, it has changed dramatically over the past ten years. There are Christian Fiction books out there for every book lover—historical; romance; regency; science fiction; even horror novels.

What are you working on now?
I have a devotional blog POWER UP WITH GOD’S WORD: Secrets For a Better Life at: www.PowerUpWithGod.com. I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors two years ago and so many of the devotions focus help others who are facing a crisis—physical or spiritual.

The third book in The Sisters By Choice series (REDEMPTION) will be released in September. Along with that that I’m working on the second in the Deadly Communications series. As of now, its title is Nowhere to Belong.


About Deadly Communications:

Improving communication skills is never easy. In this case, it could be murder!

Maven Morris is a speech-language pathologist on medical leave–or as she likes to put it: out to pasture.
When she’s offered a lucrative position by one of the community’s most powerful men to help his traumatic-brain-injured daughter improve her communication skills, Maven discovers deadly secrets behind the iron gates of the mansion.

Now, she must find the courage to seek justice no matter who gets hurt–even if it’swith murder & mayhem.

About Lillian:

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband, two parrots, one Jack Russell, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel she’s thinking of renaming Clifford since he keeps growing and growing and….

As a speech pathologist in the public schools for over thirty years, she worked with students of all ages with a wide variety of conditions, but especially with deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives. especially God’s Word.

Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced mystery and suspense with a touch of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us. To learn more about Lillian and her books, you may visit her at www.lillianduncan.net or www.lillian-duncan.com. She also has a devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com. She is also on Twitter as @LillianDuncan and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lillian.k.duncan


Friday, July 4, 2014

Faith, Hope, Love and Deployment review

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:

Heather Gray

and the book:

Leafwood Publishers (June 10, 2014)

***Special thanks to Ryan Self at Leafwood Publishers for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

HEATHER GRAY is the founder of Finish Strong Ministries. She was happily married to Major David Gray for eleven years until he was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2012. Heather served as a Key Spouse in the Air Force for six years. She continues to serve military families as a Key Spouse Mentor. David and Heather had three beautiful children together who frequently travel with her as she shares a message of hope and resiliency to audiences across the globe.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:



During her husband David’s last deployment, Heather and he realized the need for a devotional that would not only draw them closer to the Lord, but also to each other while separated, specifically using the lost art of letter writing. Discovering there was no book that fit all of their desires, they began writing Faith, Hope, Love, & Deployment. Sadly, shortly after beginning the project, David was killed in action.

Faith, Hope, Love, & Deployment is broken down into forty devotions, each one with four components. Faith: Scripture memory verses for him and her. Hope: first-person narrative and insight from eleven years as a Christian military couple along with conversation starters and reflection questions that can be done all at once or daily. Love: a guided letter-writing assignment. Deployment: practical tips, resources, and encouragement for making the best of this time of separation.

Product Details:
Kindle: $9.99
Paperback:$12.95
Publisher: Leafwood Publishers
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0891126120
ISBN-13: 978-0891126126


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Faith, Hope, Love, & Deployment was born from what my husband and I considered necessity. We wanted something to keep communication open, draw us closer to the Lord and each other, and challenge us to dig into the Word . . . all while he was deployed. And I personally felt that handwritten letters were a lost art. I wanted the stack of letters from abroad, tied together with a ribbon like the treasure troves of past generations. Sadly, my husband was killed in action halfway through writing this book. I was left with few—but precious—letters, one of which I received on the day of his funeral. It was in response to a question posed on the topic of patriotism. He was asked to write a letter explaining why he was willing to lay his life on the line for his country. At a time when that very question swirled in my head, it was a balm to my aching heart to have it answered in his own handwriting. I knew then the value of what we had endeavored and vowed by the grace of God to finish what we had started.
It is my prayer that many military couples will benefit from Faith, Hope, Love, & Deployment. The book is broken down into forty devotions. Each one stands alone so couples won’t feel overwhelmed by trying to keep up with homework from week to week.
Each devotion has four components. Faith: Scripture memory verses for him and her (all verses are from the 2011 NIV translation unless otherwise noted). Hope: first-person narrative and insight from eleven years as a Christian military couple along with conversation starters and reflection questions that can be done all at once or daily. Love: a guided letter-writing assignment. Deployment: practical tips, resources, and encouragement for making the best of this time of separation.
One thing which helped me tremendously during my husband’s deployment was journal writing and I recommend other military couples do the same. In my book I also ask military couples to make lists, be intentionally observant, and record their findings, and to keep these notes together in one place. My hope is that when the deployment is over, the journal will provide couples with tangible evidence of how God worked in their lives and marriage during a difficult time. I guarantee couples will refer back to it as a reminder of his faithfulness.
My prayer is that couples will be as blessed in doing this together as my husband and I were in writing it. The most important thing is that couples keep communication open and be honest with one another throughout the process. This is likely to open doors to conversations they’ve wanted to have but perhaps never felt comfortable with or have not found the time to initiate. My prayer is that couples will embrace the opportunity to take their marriage and relationship with the Lord to a deeper level by engaging in all areas covered in the book.
And remember, “These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13).

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Afternoons

“Summer afternoon – summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” – Henry James

The thoughts of a summer afternoon bring about a lot of memories for me. When I was a child summer afternoons were filled with fun activities; and those activities didn’t involve any sort of electronics!

One camping weekend
when it was exceptionally hot.
Even the adults weren't too proud
to get in a wading pool.
That's sister Sarah waving a greeting.
One of our camping weekends
where we got a "little rain" overnight.
Our family spent a lot of weekends camping. Many of those weekends we would see the same families over and over again, allowing us to make friends who didn't really live anywhere near us. There were always campfires, campfire pizzas and pies, smores, staying up late and running around with friends until our parents came to hunt us down and send us to bed. 





Sister Martha, playing badminton
at Grandma's camp in PA
One of the things my sisters and I liked to do was play badminton. We were the badminton Queens, at least that’s what we thought (and maybe we still do!). We spent hours in the road hitting that birdie back and forth. Yes, we really did play in the road. We were each responsible for watching for cars coming behind the other, which wasn't many where we lived.

Many summer afternoons at home were spent riding our bikes. We would make trails in the dirt along the side of the road or in the woods next to our house. We would make up our own traffic laws and obey them. We would sing, pretending our voices were the radios.

Swimming around the house
I think the one thing we spent the most time doing was swimming. My mom happily paid for the family pass to our community pool - getting us out of the house for a good part of the summer. That paid for swimming lessons and we could spend as much time at the pool as we wanted. The pool opened at 12:30. My siblings and I would bike the 4 to 5 miles there and then swim with friends until we had to be home at four. I think the only thing that kept us from the pool was thunder. Oftentimes we would stop by the library on our way to the pool and get new books to read while we lounged in the summer sun. Maybe that's why I still enjoy a good book by the pool!

Me and my mom at the Grandparents' camp in PA
with Pine "Crick" and the train trestle in the background.
Another one of my favorite summer activities was going to my grandparents' summer home. Grandma always called it P-A, saying each letter, since it was in Pennsylvania. Badminton was always one of our activities there, along with playing in Pine “Crick” (you have to say it like my grandma did), going out in the canoe, watching trains as they sped through the yard (literally), and playing drive-through restaurant through the sliding screen in the kitchen window.






How I long for the days of a childhood summer! We were truly carefree. 

This is what a carefree childhood summer looks like!

 So, what memories does “Summer afternoon” bring for you? I’d love to hear them.