By the Book

where a love of God and good books meet

Month: October 2019

NaNoWriMo or NO

Writers, both experienced and beginners, are gearing up for the start of NaNoWriMo in just two days. I’ve never participated in the event, but I know several who have taken part faithfully every November. Even my sister authors from the Once Upon A Page YouTube channel participate. They gave our viewers and me some great information about how to complete NaNoWriMo successfully in our video that posted last Saturday. I’ll add the link below.

While the event gets splashed all over people’s social media pages from the end of October to the beginning of December, it’s important to remember it’s okay to NOT participate. You can be a successful author without ever taking that challenge. You don’t have to feel guilty if last year wasn’t good for you to join in and this year doesn’t look any better. Just as there are plotters, pantsers, and those who are somewhere in between, there are writers who thrive on challenges like this and others who find it creates more anxiety than they want to add to their lives.

So if you’re participating, feel free to friend me. I may make you feel really good about yourself. I’ve not been known to have the self-discipline to get those rigid word counts in. I may surprise myself, but I doubt it.

If you’re not, I’d still like to encourage you in your writing. Add a comment about what you’re working on and your goals for it. We aren’t in competition here. There’s room for everyone at the author table, and we need to build each other up.

And if you’re a reader and NaNoWriMo means nothing to you, I get that too. I’m glad you stopped by and read this post anyway. National Reading Month is supposed to be in March. Maybe someone will develop the reading version of NaNoWriMo. It could be called NaNoReaMo, and we could challenge one another to read and review a certain number of novels during that month. Some novel loving person might want to look into that. I know I’d get behind it.

And here’s the link I promised.

What I’m Reading: Under Moonlit Skies

Sometimes God asks us to do the hard thing. I’ve experienced times when God wanted me to say something to someone I knew they wouldn’t like. Confrontation makes me sick to my stomach. Doing what God put in my heart to do was difficult during those times.

People I love have made poor choices that could have led to permanent, disastrous results. I wanted to help fix things for them, but God led me to give them to Him instead. Taking my hands off the situation and limiting myself to being there to listen and to pray for them was incredibly difficult.

I’ve experienced numerous occasions where God has nudged me from my comfort zone. He’s grown me as a person, a Christian, and a writer during those times. Knowing that’s how He works doesn’t make it any easier to choose to immediately listen to His prodding.

Doing the hard thing is, well, hard. It can lead us into situations where the outcome is not guaranteed. Stepping out in obedience to the nudge of the Holy Spirit has worked that way in my life, and it works that way for Esther Stanton in Under Moonlit Skies by Cynthia Roemer.

Esther grew up on the prairie until her father’s death. Being the younger of two sisters, she follows her mother to Cincinnati, Ohio. Life is good there. Her mother remarries, and though they are not close, Esther’s stepfather provides a good, comfortable life for them. Esther has a life-style that doesn’t exist on the prairie. But in her heart, Esther longs for the kind of life she knew growing up.

The flame of this desire is fanned when Esther returns to her hometown to care for her sister’s family while her sister recovers from giving birth to her second child. Time on the prairie brings back to life a vitality Esther has lost since moving to the city.  And time with Stew, a ranch hand working for her brother-in-law, only makes living on the prairie that much more attractive.

Esther and Stew’s attraction grows to friendship and continues on the path to love as they spend time together each day. What Esther feels for him and the life they could share together makes the prospect of returning to a man she doesn’t love in Cincinnati seem like a prison sentence. She knows a return to the city and the man who can give her everything financially is exactly what her mother expects, but Esther’s heart longs for more.

The nudge of the Holy Spirit for Esther to honor her mother’s wishes creates conflict in her spirit. She goes, leaving her hopes for a life of love on the prairie in limbo. Her return sets her on a path she doesn’t want but feels she must accept. Only time reveals if Esther’s obedience will lead her back to the life she dreams of or if she will be forced to find contentment in the life her mother wants for her.

There are no guarantees in how the circumstances will work out for Esther as she steps out in obedience, and it’s often the same with us. We have a limited view of our circumstances, but God sees how our picture intersects with the pictures of every other person in our lives. We see many possible outcomes, but He can see infinitely more. We think we know what’s best for us, but God knows what’s going to be best for all involved and bring Him the most glory in the end.

No matter what’s going on, no matter the possible outcomes, there are certain scriptural promises we can cling to. Philippians chapter four tells us we can know peace that goes beyond our circumstances. Jeremiah twenty-nine assures us God has plans for our good, and Psalm one hundred thirty-nine tells us God knows all our days before we’re even born. Romans eight promises that no matter what happens, God can bring good things into our lives through it.

It’s easy to throw these promises out without thought. But they aren’t magic words that make our hurts disappear. While they’re simple to say, living them during our hardest moments is never easy. We can’t pick and choose when to live out scripture and which verses we want to claim. The promises come alive in our lives when we live in active relationship with our heavenly Father in both the good times and the bad. If we’re drawing close to Him, He will draw close to us in our hard times. It’s a promise.

Exciting New Endeavor

It has been a busy week. Last Saturday, I made the trip to Kentucky to meet with two authors I met at a conference over the summer. We spent the afternoon recording for a new YouTube channel called Once Upon A Page. We will post weekly Author Talks. This week’s video introduces us and what we write. Next week, we will discuss NaNoWriMo. I’m including the link, and we’d love for you to check it out. Subscribe if you like what you see.

Anyway, back to my hectic week. My husband’s grandmother passed away at 103 years old over the weekend, and the funeral was Tuesday. She lived over an hour away, so the whole day was taken up with those family obligations.

I do have a book to review, but in addition to the funeral and the daily care I provide for my own grandmother with dementia, I spent my week trying to find the right video editing program, develop intro videos to add to each weekly video, edit this week’s video, and post it today. I also had the Friday post on my publisher’s blog. Oh, and did I forget to mention I signed up for two craft/gift fairs in November and spent half an hour trying to figure out how to tie a good bow to make gift sets out of my books? I’m a crafty person, but ribbon and I don’t get along at all. Hopefully the remaining sets go a little faster since I’ve now successfully tied one bow.

Now that I’ve sort of figured out the bow thing and the video editing thing, I intend to get back to my regular posting schedule. Monday, I’ll post a “What I’m Reading” review for the final book in an historical fiction series I’ve enjoyed. I’ll see you back here on Monday. Until then, check out Once Upon A Page.

What I’m Reading: Great River Romance Series

Don’t judge a book by its cover. We’ve heard it a million times. We get the deeper meaning. What is on the outside can be misleading. We need to dig deeper to what’s inside. Often we find ourselves surprised at what we find. It’s an awesome message to remind us to give others a chance when an unpleasant demeanor might otherwise turn us off to a person.

I have a feeling, the origins of the phrase really did have something to do with judging literal books as worthless simply because their covers were less appealing. I get that. I’ve walked past many books without a second glance because I’m not drawn to their covers. What’s inside may be the most amazing story ever written, but it will take a name I recognize or someone else giving a great review for me to look beyond the unattractive cover and pick it from the shelf. Authors and publishers understand this. To draw people back to a good story, they occasionally update covers to keep them fresh and relatable for the current generation.

A well-done cover can wield more power than a title, drawing the eye and creating an immediate emotional connection with a reader. A great cover paired with an equally catchy title is a match made in book sales heaven. If the words between the covers spark as much interest in the reader, you’ve just created a repeat reader. That’s what happened when I first saw the Great River Romance series by Kari Trumbo.

I began with Whole Latte Love. It was on sale, and I loved the cover. I’m also a sucker for titles with cute plays on words. With the cover, title, and sale price working in its favor, I took a chance. I’m glad I did. My days are filled with the stress and frustrations of being a caregiver to my elderly grandmother who has dementia. I needed a story I could enjoy while staying away from heavy subjects that would weigh down my mind.

Whole Latte Love was the perfect choice. It was easy enough and interesting enough to read it straight through.  I stayed up later than I should have the night I read it, but I’m not complaining. The story left me with a positive, rested feeling. And I was ready for more.

Want Ad Wonder, Check out Crush, and Central Park Paradise were added to my online cart the next morning. All four books have coordinating covers, but Want Ad Wonder is my favorite. It is the cover that first brought Kari Trumbo and the Great River Romance series to my attention.  I love the colors, and there is something about the guy on the cover that I found more interesting than the ones on the other three. Maybe it’s because you see more of his face, get a little more of his character from the picture.

I didn’t take time analyze the whys. I had three more stories to read. Building off characters introduced in the previous books, each one focused on a specific couple or possible couple with former lead characters making reappearances in each book. The threads of friendship tie each of these books together making their stories more enticing for the readers.

The last three books in the series were as enjoyable as the first, from front cover to last page. I found these books when I needed a light escape from the daily grind, and they were the perfect choice. I judged these books by the covers, and I’m glad I did. The covers are a perfect match for the stories told inside.

By the Book: We encourage each other to look beyond the rough exteriors to what lies inside, but in our own lives we should strive to be better. Scripture tells us what we hold in our hearts is what comes out in our lives. When the Holy Spirit has control, it’s His fruit we should see in the way we live each day. What does your outer life say about what you truly value? Does what you say you believe show in your daily life? Every day in every way we want others to be able to judge our book by its cover.

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