What I’m Reading: My Stubborn Heart

You know THOSE moments. You can’t tell me you don’t. They’re the moments when the guy, like Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You, have opened themselves up to loving only to have the girl turn away because they did something stupid. You feel it deep in your being when he stands on the balcony, crushed as she runs away from him. It’s when the characters in your favorite Hallmark movies look at each other with longing, finally admitting to themselves that something bigger than friendship is going on, but they can’t admit it to each other yet. Your chest tightens with the tension of love that won’t be admitted. It’s that desperation that rises to the surface as you watch Jack walk away from Lucy in While You Were Sleeping because Lucy is in love with his brother.

With those feelings, in those moments, you react as if those characters are real, as if those characters were you. You can feel what they’re feeling. It’s scenes that evoke these kinds of feelings that Becky Wade peppers throughout her book, My Stubborn Heart.

The prologue sets the reader up for what is going to happen in the story. To those who would say she gives away the ending, I’d remind them the journey is half the fun. Everyone knows from the first five minutes who is going to end up together in a Hallmark movie, but it makes the movie no less enjoyable. Besides, the prologue reads like the beginning of a fantastic fairy tale. It reminded me of the opening scenes of the movie Ever After, not because of the content but because of the feeling it gives.

While the prologue drew me in, those special feeling moments in the story kept me engaged. There were moments of attraction, loss, and jealousy that rivaled any from the movies. I ached with the characters and felt the excitement of their growing attraction.

Kate is a caring and spirited woman who wants to heal the hurts of the world. Matt is a man with enough hurts for the entire world. As Matt works to renovate the home of Kate’s grandmother, friendship is slow to grow between them. It’s one step forward two steps back, but Kate is determined.

Even as friendship gives way to unwanted attraction, the path refuses to become easy. These two have a lot to work through, and it’s these challenges that provide the moments that reach deep into the heart of the reader. It’s these moments that keep the reader engaged from prologue until the end.

Write Stuff Wednesday: Books and Blessings

“And one day the girl with the books became the woman writing them.”

I don’t know where this quote comes from. A quick internet search gives several different possibilities. A common one is Kristen Costello, but I don’t know if it’s true. Whoever it was, thank you. It’s a great quote, and it’s exactly how I feel right now.

I haven’t blogged in about a week. I have been busy, really busy. Besides my 8-5 job as a receptionist, I spent the last couple of weeks getting everything ready for the Grasping Hope book launch party. Saturday was the event, and I couldn’t make myself open my laptop to blog after cleaning up and getting home. I was beyond exhausted.

I was also very blessed. The party decorations and food turned out just like I wanted. A lot of familiar faces came to celebrate the release of Grasping Hope with me, and I got to meet some new friends. That’s always exciting for an author.

I even attempted using Facebook live during the event. There were some bumps with that, but it went well enough for a first attempt. I did a reading and took questions. The sound is low. That was one of the bumps. You live and learn. I’m not overly comfortable being photographed or being in videos. However, if you want to check it out you can find it on my author Facebook page. Search @AuthorHeatherGreer to find me if you want to watch it.

I’m waiting on the majority of my pictures from the event. When I get them, I’ll share a few. For now, one picture collage will have to do.

book launch

 

Write Stuff Wednesday – Erin Howard

Author PictureToday’s guest on Write Stuff Wednesday is Erin Howard. Her favorite quote is a great reminder for those on the journey of writing. But it’s wisdom can be applied to a lot of endeavors. Whatever you seek to do, keep these words in mind for those times you want to give up or think about quitting before you ever start.

I love Jodi Picoult’s quote, “You can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.” It’s a great reminder that my writing doesn’t have to be perfect at first. It just has to exist. There’s something very freeing about that statement. For me, a blank page can be intimidating. It can stop me from writing at times if I let it. I had to make myself stop editing as I write the first draft of my novel and wait until I’m completely finished. If I don’t, I will keep editing and perfecting and never get anywhere.

I love being creative, I’m always doing something crafty, but even with crafts, I want it to be as perfect as I can make it. I think creative people already have the tendency to never think what they create is perfect. They aren’t fully satisfied, so they keep learning. They keep practicing and creating new things. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, it’s good to continually learn and grow, but we shouldn’t let those perfectionist tenancies keep us from writing.

Don’t let excuses stop you from writing. Just write!

Let’s meet Erin and find out a bit more about her writing.

New Release: The Soul Searcher (The Kalila Chronicles, #2)

Release Date: 2/19/19

Publisher: Mantle Rock Publishing

Back cover blurb:

Elnora’s parents gave her one rule:soul searcher

Stay hidden away at all costs.

Elnora Scott is used to her survival depending on the decisions of others. Locked away in her safe house, it is easy to follow her parents’ dying wishes until an angel, demon, and seer show up on her doorstep. Now, waking up in a dirty cell, she wishes she would have gone with them when she had the chance, because the very ones who unknowingly ushered the kidnapper to her location may be the only ones who can save her.

When Thea learns that Elnora may be in danger, she doesn’t hesitate to go find her. Thea thought stepping through the portal would be her greatest obstacle, but it only reveals a more sinister threat.

Bio:

Erin R. Howard is a developmental editor, fantasy author of The Kalila Chronicles, and has earned a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing/English from Southern New Hampshire University. When she’s not writing, Erin enjoys spending time with her family, fueling her craft addictions, and teaching writing workshops. Erin is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the KenTen Writers Group. She resides in Western Kentucky with her husband and three children.

 

Social Media:

 

Website: https://erinrhoward.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/E.R.H.Fiction/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ErinRHoward

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/erinrhoward/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/erinrhoward/

 

Blog/Wordpress:  https://erinrhoward.wordpress.com/

 

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/c386-H

 

Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Searcher-Kalila-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B07MLXTYJT

 

Write Stuff Wednesday: Max and the Prodigal

wild“’Now stop!’ Max said and sent the wild things off to bed without their supper. And Max the king of all wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.” – Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

My husband and daughter love this book. He read it to her when she was little. Surprisingly, I never read it as a child. We didn’t own it when our sons were small, and they never had the chance to read it as children. I couldn’t tell you if they’ve read it now or not. I kind of hope they have.

As I read this quote tonight, it made me think about the story in a new way. I’m sure Mr. Sendak didn’t mean it as such, but I see a lot of the prodigal in Max. Stick with me for a moment.

Max is a spirited young boy. He has a good home and a loving parent. But sometimes his strong will gets him into a little bit of trouble. He doesn’t always like his mother’s rules fails to exercise good judgement. This tendency lands him in his room without his supper.

But Max is an imaginative little boy. He’s not going to let a little thing like his parent’s rules stop him from having the life of fun and adventure he wants.  Not a chance. Max decides to run away, if only in his imagination. He leaves his parent’s home and sails for a faraway land full of creatures that should be scary to a small boy. These are creatures with wild ways that love to party. They are capable of ending Max’s life with a single swat of their giant claws. But they don’t. They make him their king. He leads them in their rumpus.

Eventually, the rumpus comes to an end. The monsters sleep, and Max is left to consider what he’s really accomplished by running away. He has the monsters. They may fear him, but they don’t have the one thing he wants more than playmates and freedom to do only what he desires. They don’t have unconditional love for Max. Knowing this leaves Max feeling completely alone. He always had love at his parent’s home. His mother always loved him, even when he was wild and rude. She loved him when he was unlovable. She loved him even when she had to give him consequences for his choices.

Realizing this, Max is left with one choice. He boards his boat and heads home with the wild things begging him to stay. That isn’t the life he wants. He wants a life of love. He wants a life with his mother. But will she have him? Yes. Max knows even after all he’s done, his mother loves him still. He knows because she left his dinner for him.

What an awesome picture of the biblical story of the prodigal son. What a great reminder for each of us. Sometimes we are Max. Sometimes we are the prodigal. We fight to go our own way.  We tire of God’s expectations and grow frustrated with situations that don’t work out the way we believe they should. We fool ourselves into thinking we can do better on our own. We storm off in our boats and join the wild things. But soon, reality hits and we realize we are alone. The things that we gained by joining the rumpus are empty. We are alone in our tent while the wild things sleep around us. Or if you prefer, we are in the pen with the pigs.

The joys we experienced with God come back to us. We’re reminded of the peace, strength, and direction He provided. Most of all, we remember His love. It draws us into the boat and across the waves. It brings us with a repentant heart back to Him. And we find He has already prepared for our return. His arms are open wide to receive us, and our supper is waiting.

By the Book: If you aren’t familiar with it (and even if you are) take a moment to read the story of the prodigal son. You can find it in Luke 15.

Be Like . . .

We’ve all seen them. They flash across our Facebook and Instagram feeds trying to lure us in with their cleverness. Their goal is making a sale based on our nostalgia for a particular television series. Love like this character. Be brave like that character. Remember to laugh like this character. On through the cast the list goes until each of the show’s characters is given a trait we remember them for most. It’s a way to announce our show loyalty to the rest of the television viewing world. Tonight I’m taking a page from their playbook.

While I could easily make a list of favorite movies or television characters, I’m a reader. Instead, I’m going to give you a list of the characters I love from my favorite author. Why? Because more than any television show or movie I’ve ever watched, these characters impacted me. They showed me parts of myself or things I wish were part of myself. I learned lessons beside them. I grew in my understanding of faith right with them. They have challenged me and encouraged me through the years, and I want to thank them (and Kristen Heitzmann, the author who created them) in this small way.

I want to . . .

be RESILIENT like Abbie Ferrel (Rocky Mountain Legacy series)

be PASSIONATE like Carina Maria DiGratia (Diamond of the Rockies series)

learn to “WANT THE WAY (THINGS) WORK OUT” even when it hurts like Morgan Spencer (A Rush of Wings series)

be a completely WILLING vessel God can use like Lance Michelli (Michelli Family series)

and finally,

be REAL like Grace Evangeline who messed up big time but owned it, repented, and kept letting God use her despite the fall-out. (Told You series)

What about you? Is there a character who has touched you in a major way? How do they inspire you?

 

What I’m Reading – A Bound Heart

Ever read a book that’s so well written you come away from it thinking it was a simply beautiful story to read? That’s what I experienced reading A Bound Heart by Laura Frantz.

The cover caught my attention first. It has a very Scottish or Irish look to it. If that wasn’t enough to tempt me into buying the book, (and really why wouldn’t it be? I’m fascinated with anything Irish or Scottish) I realized the author was Laura Frantz. I’ve only read one other book by this author, but A Moonbow Night was a wonderful book.  The author’s style was impressive. I hoped it would be the same with A Bound Heart.

I was not disappointed. The story, which takes place in Scotland in the 1700s, drew me in immediately. Lark’s life on the Isle of Kerrera is simple and sweet. Raised with Magnus, the laird of Kerrera, Lark has known privileges others of her station did not. Her friendship with him changed when he married, but Lark still serves faithfully raising and preparing the herbs for the castles medicinal and culinary needs.

Rory is a ship’s captain, smuggler, and friend. Though questioning how it fits with her Christian beliefs, Lark helps him avoid capture when he brings his ship to the island. Can it be all bad when he’s taking from those who have much in order to feed those who would otherwise have little? This struggle is one issue holding Lark back from giving him her heart, though she believes it would be easy to do so.

When circumstances land all three in legal troubles, they find themselves indentured and sailing for the colonies and Jamaica. Each struggle to adapt to new surroundings and ways of life while fighting homesickness for the land and people they love.  It’s especially hard for Lark as one of the men she cares about seems bent on choices that could lead to his end and the other is in an unknown land with a reputation for putting the indentured servants in an early grave due to illness.

Lark’s faith remains throughout these trials. She turns to God for answers and strength. She trusts He has a plan for her future, but what will that future look like?

Write Stuff Wednesday with Hope Toler Dougherty

Today’s Write Stuff Wednesday guest is Hope Toler Dougherty. I ask each guest to share a favorite writing quote. I love Hope’s response and the quotes she shares. I hope you do too!

I’m sorry, Heather. I couldn’t choose just one quotation about writing, so I’ve highlighted a few of my favorites along with some reading ones, too.

“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.” Chinese proverb

I think this is a beautiful quotation. It always makes me smile.

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Sir Richard Steele

If this quotation is true, then my mind is much more toned than my body is!

“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?” Henry Ward Beecher

Isn’t it interesting that Beecher, a prominent clergyman in the nineteenth century, felt so strongly about books? Here’s a true story: I love bookstores. I was in my favorite bookstore in Pittsburgh last summer. One of the beautiful displays was a whole table devoted to bees. I come from a long line of bee keepers and love bees. I bought two books from that display without even reading the back. If I had, I may not have bought one of them which turned out to be part science fiction/part dystopian novel—not my favorite genres! But it’s a gorgeous book, and I was in my happy place…

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” Mark Twain

I have a t-shirt with this in-your-face quotation on it. I’ve had people want to debate the thought when I wore the shirt.

“To me, nothing is more important than giving children books.” Fran Lebowitz

I can think of a few things that are more important, but I get the spirit of this quotation. Children need to be read to. Children need books around them, on the floor, in their beds, sticky and chewed on and used. Just this week, xxx said no screen time for under two-year-olds. I couldn’t believe this made news. I couldn’t believe people needed to be told.

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Richard Bach

This quotation is a great reminder to all of us writers. Keep going. Keep writing. Keep trying.

I’ll close out this post with a thought from someone who always makes me laugh out loud.

“I think I did pretty well considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.” Steve Martin

Now I’d like to give you the opportunity to get to know Hope a little better. Keep reading for her bio and information on her books.

irishIrish Encounter: After almost three years of living under a fog of grief, Ellen Shepherd is ready for the next chapter in her life. Perhaps she’ll find adventure during a visit to Galway. Her idea of excitement consists of exploring Ireland for yarn to feature in her shop back home, but the adventure awaiting her includes an edgy stranger who disrupts her tea time, challenges her belief system, and stirs up feelings she thought she’d buried with her husband. 

 

After years of ignoring God, nursing anger, and stifling his grief, Payne Anderson isn’t ready for the feelings a chance encounter with an enchanting stranger evokes. Though avoiding women and small talk has been his pattern, something about Ellen makes him want to seek her—and God again. 

 

Can Ellen accept a new life different than the one she planned? Can Payne release his guilt and accept the peace he’s longed for? Can they surrender their past pain and embrace healing together, or will fear and doubt ruin their second chance at happiness?

 

Hope’s Bio:

10479746_918926531455910_6824469307174309015_nHope holds a Master’s degree and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Her novels include Irish Encounter and Mars…With Venus Rising. A member of ACFW, RWA, SinC, she writes for SeriousWriter.com. Residing in North Carolina, she and her husband enjoy visits with their daughters and twin sons.

Here are Hope’s social media links:

http://hopetolerdougherty.com/

https://www.facebook.com/AUTHORHOPETOLERDOUGHERTY/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13941031.Hope_Dougherty

https://www.pinterest.com/hopetdougherty/

https://twitter.com/HopeTDougherty

https://www.instagram.com/hopetolerdougherty/

Pick and Choose

I’ll admit it. I only bought Thorn in My Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs because of the setting. Ireland and Scotland have always been areas of interest to me. So, I bought the book. I bought the rest in the series because of the story in the first.

I bought The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson because someone at the book store recommended it. I bought more of her books because I enjoyed the stories.

It was the cover of Carolina Dream by Regina Rudd Merrick that first drew my attention. It’s beautiful and inviting. The images on the front made me want to visit the world within. I’ve visited twice more since then as the next two books in the series were published.

I’ll buy anything with Kristen Heitzmann’s name on it. I’ve yet to find something she’s written that I don’t enjoy. In fact, she is re-doing one of her earliest sets, and I will get those when they become available. It doesn’t matter that I have the originals. Her skill has earned her books a place on my shelves every time.

Whether it’s the setting, a recommendation, a cover, or a name there is always something that draws a reader to a particular book. Occasionally we stumble onto a new writer by accident. I found Morgan Busse when I won a copy of Tainted. The book is not in my preferred genre, and I would not have purchased it for myself. It would have been my loss. I couldn’t put the book down, and I bought book two immediately. But happy accidents like this aside, most of the time some element lures us in and inspires us to choose a particular book.

In a similar way, we tend to gravitate toward certain scriptures or books of the Bible. I love a good story. Genesis, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles overflow with stories. The four gospels in the New Testament all tell the story of Jesus’ life.

I don’t like cliff-hangers. That’s why Jonah tends to frustrate me. It just sort of ends. I’m also not a fan of having to decipher between literal and figurative. I like it when things are clear and easy to follow. Though I have read it, Revelation isn’t usually my first choice because of this.

I will always have my favorites and the reasons I love them. I think most people do. But I don’t want that to stop me from seeking out God’s truth and wisdom from the entirety of scripture. The Bible, while separated into individual books, is meant to be taken as a whole as well. Each part backs up and enhances the message in the rest. It’s when the parts are put together that we get the clearest picture of who God is and what His plan for us is.

Besides, sometimes the most impactful lessons come from the place we least expect them.  Much like I was surprised by Tainted when I read it, I’ve been surprised by scripture. Doing an inductive Bible study of Romans was not something I looked forward to. Our group finished Kings and Chronicles which I loved. There was story after story to learn from and enjoy in those books. The idea of going to Romans was not as appealing. But I joined the study and gave it my best, and I came out with a new appreciation of the book. The lessons I took from that Romans study have had a big impact on my faith. Years later, truths I learned come flooding back with clarity when I need them most. I would have missed these if I’d decided not to take part.

How do you choose the books you read? Have any surprised you?

Which books of the Bible are your favorite and why? Have you ever been surprised by scripture?