Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween at the Blare House




“Trick or treat?” A miniature version of Batman stands on the porch with a small plastic pumpkin in his hand. My husband tosses a couple of miniature candy bars his way, and he gallops down the steps. He nods eagerly at his mom waiting at the sidewalk as they scamper off to the next house. The next visitor arrives a few moments later, but instead of the “customary” greeting, I hear a squeal and bunch of laughter…yep, my hubby’s playing his tricks again.

You may be thinking, “But I thought she was a Christian author…” Or “Not Halloween! That’s such an evil holiday!”

First, let me say, yes, I’m a Christian and so is my husband and son and mother and father…shall I go on? I take my faith in Christ very seriously as does my husband and son and— and, oh yes, I’m an author. I believe in spreading the message of the Lord in all forms with one being, of course, through my writing.

Back to the topic at hand, Halloween. I don’t know how many times I heard these words this month: “This has got to be my least favorite holiday.” I heard it at work, at the grocery store, at church. At work, they placed Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations on the shelves before the first day of October. At the grocery store, nobody wanted to deal with it, and for some people at church? Well, the day may as well have been designed by Satan himself. Complaints galore…but not one was out of the mouth of a child.

For those Christians out there who don’t like Halloween, maybe this will help a little bit. Believe it or not, the origin of Halloween is not American. It actually came to America with the colonists but originated before then and is celebrated in several countries even today. The holiday begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide. We use this time on the Christian calendar not only to honor the saints such as Peter and Paul (or for St. Peter for y’all Catholics out there), and martyrs, but to also remember our fellow lost believers.

Some scholars believe a few pagan rituals were woven into the origins of this Christian observance, mainly the Celtic festival of Samhain. Others disagree. I prefer to believe that All Hallows Eve or Halloween began as a Christian day of prayer and observance but due to cultural reasons, both then and now, morphed into a secular holiday. It still has powerful connotations if used for its original purpose, both spiritually and morally.

This past week, my job sent me to my local elementary school. I set aside my “adult” eyes for a bit, and in the process, was reminded why my husband enjoys this holiday so much. Oh, I don’t like the evil interpretations which has become so much a part of the day in these times. As a parent, I wouldn’t promote that to my son if he was still young. (In fact, he wasn’t one for costumes at all when he was a child.) But camaraderie and joy in the midst of creativity and fun? Now THAT I do encourage.


For me, it’s a time for fellowship and sharing how Christ is with us ALL even in the mire of this world. He is our hero, our Savior. Carve a pumpkin and show the world how much you love Him. Wear a costume and stand out in the crowd. And when people ask you what makes you so different? Answer!

Food, or should I say, Candy for Thought:

How have you imparted God’s vision to others this year? Do you offer His hope to a world of ghouls and goblins? And when the witches and zombies come calling, will you show them His light or close your door?





Sunday, October 25, 2015

Faithful Reviews: Reviving Jules by Peggy Trotter

Reviving Jules by Peggy Trotter




The Book, Reviving Jules:


Jules Summers, a proverbial Jonah, runs from family, career, and neighborhood. Where’s she going? To find a place of healing for wounds so deep, she shuts the door against the very One who restores. But God never abandons and a kindergarten angel arrives, towing her father, Rhett Carsen.

Rhett Carsen vows never to marry again. He redoubles his efforts to raise his motherless daughter alone, but runs into trouble when work sends him traveling. His daughter instantly bonds with the newcomer, Jules Summers, who in turn, assists him in caring for his daughter. She seems like the answer to his prayers—an instant live-in nanny. Yet, why does she captivate his every thought?

They work together as a team to care for Rhett’s child. But is, “practicality” the only thing God has planned for these two? Or could there be a whole lot more?


* * * * * The Review by Renee Blare:


Have you ever wondered how your life can shatter into a million pieces…only to discover it didn’t belong to you in the first place? Peggy Trotter explores this very question in RevivingJules and weaves a dynamic romance of struggle, hope and amazing grace.

When Jules Summers finds herself alone after her marriage falls apart, she retreats into a self-imposed exile, shunning the world and God. Far from family, friends, and vicious memories, she endures one day at a time and struggles to piece her life back together. And just when she thinks she can’t go on, God sends her an illustration of His love in the form of her neighbor’s little girl.
Rhett Carsen’s as broken as she is…for different reasons. When he asks Jules for help, she can’t refuse, especially when it involves his adorable daughter. But before long, more than the sweet love of a child works its way through the crevices of her broken heart. Can she set aside the agony and bitterness of her past and embrace her future?

Peggy Trotter shows the agonizing journey back from a broken marriage and its effect on a Christian life with amazing skill and compassion for reality. This book's sprinkled with truth and above all, the grace of God. I give this book five stars. Well done, Ms.Trotter, well done.


About the Author, PeggyTrotter:


She's a small town Hoosier native who teaches 1st and 2nd grade at a small Christian School and writes Christian Romance in her spare time. God blessed her with a wonderful husband who cooks and helps clean while supporting her crazy dreams. She has two incredible grown kids, one fabulous son-in-law, and two rays of sunshine, commonly called grandchildren.

The empty-nest syndrome set her to groping for a new direction, and wow, did God answer! Year of Jubilee, a Christian Historical Romance set in southern Indiana, debuted on April 10th of 2015 through Prism Book Group. A second, a Contemporary Romance entitled, Reviving Jules, will follow on Oct. 9th, 2015 as well. She loves to reveal God's miracles through the world's underdogs and mix in a little love and happy endings.


She finaled in the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest in 2013 in the Inspirational Category, and is a 2014 ACFW Genesis Winner in the Novella Category. Seldom does she stand still, but when she does, it's to praise her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Creator of all gifts and Bestower of all blessings!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Amazing Julie Cosgrove's on the Coffee Corner (with Giveaway)

The Amazing Julie Cosgrove’s on the Coffee Corner

(with Giveaway)


Julie Cosgrove

The Coffee Corner has a great guest this month…Julie Cosgrove!
Do you want to read an amazing story? Pick up one of her books…better yet, wait a week, and buy Freed to Forgive.
She’s giving away an Amazon gift card this week...gobble it up if you win.
(Details after the interview.)

For now, let’s jump right into the interview!

Renee: Hi, Julie, about your upcoming release, Freed to Forgive, what’s special or unique about it?

Freed to Forgive
Julie: Oh, dear. Start off with the tough one. I guess the fact that it is faith-based and yet deals with human trafficking makes it unique. Not that I am the first Christian author to do so.  Even so, describing the atrocities in veiled descriptions to be as inoffensive as possible while still taking the reader through my character’s journey in order to show God’s healing work is a challenge. But I truly felt the call to write Marisol’s story and did a great deal of research and teleconferencing with immigration attorneys, post sex slavery counselors and missionaries to make sure I told it accurately.

Please do not let that scare you. There is a lot more to her story than sexual violence. It is ultimately the story of anyone who has been abused – be it physically, emotionally or spiritually. I think all of us have probably been deeply hurt by another human being at one point in our lives.  The question is, do we let that define us? The key to healing and accepting God’s miraculous love to transform us is to start the process towards being able to forgive.


Renee: Marisol…what an interesting name. How do you pick your character names?

Julie: I picked Marisol because it is a combination of Maria and Soledad. In Spanish they mean sad and isolated—this describes her before she finds God and the ability to trust and love a man. The other names just came to me. I try not to use similar names for characters because that confuses the reader. I guess it is like naming your baby. You visualize them and the name either fits or it doesn’t.

Renee: Good idea! The last thing you want is a confused reader, that’s for sure. I can’t stand it when I get confused especially if I’m trying to relax with a good book. What other advice do you have for any new writers out there?

Julie: Write until you reach the end. Don’t edit as you write. You will never finish. Then put it away for three to six weeks before you go back over it. Next, attach yourself to a great critique group—in person or online— with people who are further along in their writing career so you can learn from them. Take their advice to heart and do not let your emotions get in the way. All of us are improving and though God has called us to write, we can hone our skills to His glory. Every writer gets get wrapped up in his or her stories and characters. That is why it is good to have other’s looking in from a different perspective. Remember, so will your readers.

Finally, never, ever fall into the jealousy pit by comparing your success to other writers. It will stifle you. Instead, graciously reach out and help others along. Applaud their successes and in turn you will find inner joy as well as reciprocal support.

Renee: Oh, Julie, thank you! I don’t know how many times I’ve been tempted to fall into the jealousy pit. This is a hard road to hoe. But that’s why I’m determined to spread the message of Christ and that means all voices of Christian fiction. For God speaks through more writing than just my own. Speaking of writing, how long have you been writing and why did you start?

Julie: I have been seriously writing since 2008. I began freelance writing because during the last ten years of our lives together, my late husband had a knack of landing jobs with companies that would go bankrupt within a year or so of hiring him. I needed an income that I could continue no matter where we lived. I took a quick course and immediately received clients. Knowing this was a God thing, I tithed my writing to Him each morning before I wrote for my clients. Even into my widowhood after he died in the shower getting ready for work, God kept me afloat through finding me clients. I also landed jobs, by His grace, writing for seven different Christian publications and websites on a regular basis. Fast forward to today and six non-fiction books and six fiction works later, with two more yet to be written but under contract, I write only for God now.

Renee: God is so good. He does provide, doesn’t He? So when you began writing your fiction and non-fiction works, how did your pick your titles?

Julie: I am blessed that my publisher, Prism Book Group accepted each of my novels’ titles “as is.” The titles come to me as I write. I do research on Amazon to see if any other novel has a similar title before I decide for sure.

Renee: I really like the title of your next release, Freed to Forgive. What an amazing title you picked for this one. What’s the favorite part of this novel and why?

Julie: I enjoyed interweaving three people’s lives into the story as the reader witnesses how God is moving in the background to bring all of them together in the end. So there are many scenes and snippets I really like. Personally, I think my favorite part may actually not be about Marisol, my main character, but Pastor Jake when he is suddenly saddled with a congregation he feels inadequate to handle. But I like the barn scene when Marisol has had enough and fights for her and her friend’s lives.

Renee: Was there something about your book you struggled with?
Julie: Some of the book is written into the near future by eight years, so I had to brainstorm with professionals who deal with rescued trafficked victims under Federal protection about what they felt is coming down the pike legislatively and socially. Also, my late hubby was a Sci-Fi freak. During the last few years of his life as I wrote, he had those shows on in the background. I believe this fact vicariously helped me dream up the gadgets that may be reality in eight or nine years. Of course, I had my techie-by-profession son and his friends to brainstorm with me as well.

Renee: On a more personal note, what would you do if you couldn’t write anymore?

Julie: Is blubbering uncontrollably an option? Seriously, if God decides He has other plans for me I trust He will instill a new passion for whatever it is. Right now, I feel so very blessed He is using me this way and has given me a talent I thoroughly love doing. It was a hidden-under-a-bushel thing for decades. I received accolades for my writing in high school and college, then life, marriage, raising a special needs child and economics got in the way. Oh, do I detect a few nods out there?

Renee: Yes, you do! LOL I love to relax next to a high mountains lake or next to the beach. What’s your favorite “spot” and why?

Julie: I am blessed to share a few acres along the Guadalupe River in the Texas HillCountry with my extended family. That river calls to me. I find a deep peace there. I always feel a touch closer to Christ as I walk along the banks. Others who have visited feel the same. It is a five-six hour drive from where I live so I cannot visit there often, but when I do, it is renewing. I would love to move up there for a few months and just write…maybe in a few years.



Renee: What a beautiful spot! I’d love to see it. I could relax there too. Do you have any pets? If so, share a little story or anecdote.

Julie: I have two cats. I call them my Beastie Boys. Buster is sixteen and we have been through so much, he is embedded in my heart. Blak Kat is only five. Both were strays. I work part-time as a church secretary, come home mid-afternoon and then write, edit, review, or do social media for about four hours.

Every night, I stop writing or working about nine and veg out with a little TV or a few hours of pleasure reading. The boys curl up on the couch next to me and softly purr-snore. It is my favorite time of the day.



Now...drum roll please...

Here’s what y’all have been waiting for…

JULIE’S GIVEAWAY INFORMATION.


*******************
GIVEAWAY
*******************

A $10.00 AMAZON GIFTCARD



HOW TO ENTER GIVEAWAY

OPTIONS:

1.      “Like”
Julie’s Facebook Page at
AND
PM (private message) Julie
to enter drawing.


2.      For fans of Julie:
 TWEET this interview or
 SHARE it on YOUR Facebook page or wall
AND
PM (private message) Julie on her Facebook page at
to enter drawing.



About the Book, Freed to Forgive:





Shackled by her past, can she be freed to forgive?

Abused in her Mexican village, Marisol’s anger is her ticket to freedom in America or so she thinks. But her temper lands her in worse and worse situations. Trafficked and pregnant, she gives up the baby so it can have a better life.
Now, ten years later, her past returns to haunt her, just when she has caught the eye of Jesse, the one man who wants to know her…and not just her body. Marisol has struggled hard to disguise her past, but will the unforgiving spirit she harbors prevent her from embracing her future?
Though delicately worded with veiled descriptions, this faith-based novel does depict some disturbing, yet unfortunately all too common, sex trafficking scenes necessary for the plot.

Launches October 23, 2015

Links:
Amazon pre-order http://amzn.to/1GCoEKe


About the Author, Julie Cosgrove:

Freelance writer, author and professional speaker Julie B. Cosgrove leads retreats, workshops, and Bible studies. She writes regularly for several Christian websites and devotional publications and has been published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul, Upper Room's Devozine and Alive Now, The Secret Place, Light from the Word, Faith-filled Family Magazine, Daily Thoughts About God, Good News Daily, and The Journey. In 2013, an international relief and development fund commissioned Julie to write a mission-based Bible study. Julie has published three other Bible studies, a devotional, two inspirational guides, and has nine fiction novels published or contracted to be published by 2017. One of her short stories won second place in a state wide Texas author’s contest in 2015.

She is a member of Texas Association of Authors, American Christian Fiction Writers, Toastmasters International - Advanced Communicator Gold achiever,  North Texas Christian Writers, Mystery and Suspense Writers,  and the Christian Writers Network. She's a spokesperson for Women at Risk International, a Christian missionary effort to rescue women from sex slavery in 30 countries. Julie is widowed and lives in Fort Worth, Texas where she is a church secretary and servant to two house cats. She is a mystery aficionado— especially British ones—and loves word games.

Pinterest, Twitter and Linked In as Julie B Cosgrove

Friday, October 9, 2015

Powerful Emotion and Amazing Grace...by Peggy Trotter (GIVEAWAY included!)

Powerful Emotion and Amazing Grace

by Peggy Trotter

(with Giveaway - see details after post!)




1. I don’t like to drink water.
2. Working hard doesn’t bring you happiness.
How that for two random thoughts? Perhaps you think they have nothing to do with each other, yet ahhh, they do.
I’ll confess. I have an obsession. Work. I’m determined to get that fuzzy, “I’ve accomplished so much today!” feeling. Only it generally ends with the, “good gravy, I didn’t get enough done, feeling.”
And then there’s this kind of person. (They annoy me a tad. Shhh. Don’t tell.) “I’m bored. I have nothing to do.” Are you kidding me? Seriously~are you without brain, scarecrow?  There is ALWAYS something to do. The real problem is that we are not bored. We are too lazy to put up the energy to get up and do one of the million things there are to do. So really, they should say, “I’m lazy. I can’t work up the inclination to rise and do one of the gazillion things I should be doing.”
There that’s better and more accurate, wouldn’t you think? Because face it. There’s always something to do. And I work hard doing it, every day, all day long. Like right now there is a dishful of dirty dishes and a laundry room full of clothes to wash, plus the long list of “to-do’s” for my day job. And here I sit pecking at the computer.
And the harder and longer I work the more exhausted I get. Run down, drained. Devoid of water. Oh, yeah. I’m slipping in that water. Because at two p.m. just when my body wants to say, “I give!” I take a sip of water, well, a chug really since I haven’t had any water since breakfast, and almost instantly, I feel better!
Now why did I resist the water? Not sure. Know what else I resist? God’s scripture. And it does the same exact thing for my life. It revives me, reminds me why I’m alive. Gives me purpose and hope.
Why do I resist it, you ask? I’m working, of course! I’m that doing kind of person. Wake up early. Get it done. Like yesterday. And hurry. Ahead of schedule so you can squeeze in two more projects. That’s me.
I’ll tell you a secret. Sometimes I wish I were that kind of person who says, “I’m bored. I have nothing to do.” I know I’ve confused you.  Go ahead. Ask why.
They know how to stop.
How magical is that?

It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones. Psalm 127:2

Yep. There’s even a Scripture for that. Yet another one I need to take to heart. Little Miss Busy feel uncomfortable just . . . resting. It feels wrong. Except on Sunday, I can usually do that, but it’s a chore. Why? Not sure. Pride? Well, that’s a whole ‘nother post. Yeesh. Don’t open that barrel!
Shhh. Rest. Take a deep breath and read God’s word. Relax into it. Breathe it. Eat it. Become it. Yes, I’m preaching to myself. You can pull up a chair if ya want. Or. . . we could BUILD a chair. Yeah! No, let’s make it a bench. It will seat way more people. Cool! From two by fours, slat style, and stain it, no, pickle it, no, paint it—ahem. Sorry. Let me start again.

1. I don’t like to drink water . . . .



Reviving Jules by Peggy Trotter


Have you ever wondered why your life's a shambles only to discover it wasn't your life to begin with? Peggy Trotter weaves a powerful tale of struggle, hope and amazing grace in Reviving Jules. Available NOW from Prism Book Group. Pick up your copy on Amazon and select online retailers!



Jules Summers, a proverbial Jonah, runs from family, career, and neighborhood. Where’s she going? To find a place of healing for wounds so deep, she shuts the door against the very One who restores. But God never abandons and a kindergarten angel arrives, towing her father, Rhett Carsen.

Rhett Carsen vows never to marry again. He redoubles his efforts to raise his motherless daughter alone, but runs into trouble when work sends him traveling. His daughter instantly bonds with the newcomer, Jules Summers, who in turn, assists him in caring for his daughter. She seems like the answer to his prayers—an instant live-in nanny. Yet, why does she captivate his every thought?

They work together as a team to care for Rhett’s child. But is, “practicality” the only thing God has planned for these two? Or could there be a whole lot more?


The Author, Peggy Trotter




Peggy Trotter has been writing something for over 30 years. The empty-nest syndrome set her to groping for a new direction, and wow, did God answer! Year of Jubilee, a Christian Historical Romance set in southern Indiana, debuted in April of 2015 through Prism Book Group. A second, a Contemporary Romance entitled, Reviving Jules, is set to follow on Oct. 9th, 2015 as well. She loves to reveal God’s miracles through the world’s underdogs and mix in a little love, a dash of romantic heat, and of course, a happy ending. 

She took third place in the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest in 2013 in the Inspirational Category, and won the coveted Genesis Award in 2014 from the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in the Novella Category with her entry, Spun, a Historical Romance. 

God blessed her with a wonderful husband who cooks and helps clean while supporting her crazy dreams. She has two incredible grown kids plus two fabulous in-law kids, and two rays of sunshine, commonly called grandchildren. Seldom does she stand still, but when she does, it’s to praise her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Creator of all gifts and Bestower of all blessings!

***GIVEAWAY INFORMATION***



Peggy's giving away ONE e-copy of her new release,
Reviving Jules to ONE commenter!
Do you have a question or a comment?
Go for it! You'll be entered into the drawing!

(Minimum of 5 comments to validate the giveaway. Winner will be selected by random drawing on 10/17/2015 and notified by email.)

*******************************
PLEASE LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS
WITH YOUR COMMENT!
WINNER CAN NOT BE SELECTED OR
CONTACTED WITHOUT IT!
*******************************





Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fly over to Facebook and CELEBRATE with Renee!

FLY OVER TO FACEBOOK AND CELEBRATE WITH RENEE 

DURING HER BLAST OFF FACEBOOK PARTY ON

FRIDAY, 10/9/2015 12:00PM-5:00PM (MST)!




Friday's the day! Bring your friends to the Blast Off Facebook party. The more, the 

Renee's celebrating the launch of her new series, the Snowy Range Chronicles with the release of the first book, To Soar on Eagle's Wings (Prism Book Group) and the signing of the second book, Through the Raging Waters.

Find out more about the romantic suspense series set in the Snowy Range of Wyoming! Discover a little bit about the Fitzgerald family, this fun-loving author, Prism Book Group, and take home some awesome prizes while you're at it.

She's giving away custom made Native American earrings by Millie Sully. (https://www.facebook.com/Lakota-Quilts-by-Miss-Millie-274018012617790/)


And pottery by Granny Goodfish. (http://www.grannygoodfish.com/)

(sample)

In addition, she'll be giving away an Amazon giftcard and e-copies of her books, To Soar on Eagle's Wings and Beast of Stratton!



Don't miss this fabulous party. OH, I almost forgot to mention. INVITE and BRING your friends! 









The person who has the MOST people they invite show up to the party will receive a special SURPRISE GIFT! MAKE SURE IT'S YOU! https://www.facebook.com/events/159771647699801/



Saturday, October 3, 2015

A Black Hills Autumn in Pictures

Autumn in the Black Hills


The Change of a Season...in pictures.


Autumn is upon us.


God paints the forest with vibrant hues of yellow, orange, and red.
 


And offers the Black Hills a regal crown of gold.


As wildlife peek from their hiding places,


flowers cling to their last breath in the autumn air.


Behold His beauty.


Don't blink!


The Wyoming and South Dakota Black Hills.




About Renee Blare:


Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, Renee started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming and she's been counting pills ever since. While writing's her first love, well, after the Lord and her husband, she also likes to fish, hunt, and pick away on her classical guitar.
Nestled against the Black Hills with her husband, crazy old dog, and ornery cat, she serves the community of northeastern Wyoming as a pharmacist and pens her Christian stories, keeping them interesting with action and intrigue, of course. She loves to interact with readers and invites you to check out her website, blogs and social media.


All pictures remain the property of Renee's Scribbles and Scratches, Newcastle, WY 82701