Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Land of Easter

The morning sun greets the mountains as it rises to meet the day, and blue sky stretches as far as the eye can see.
It's springtime in Wyoming...the land of Easter.

Warmer days combine with heavy moisture-laden storms to offer God’s country a much-needed pardon from the harshness of winter. Spring soon takes hold and winter completely disappears. The mountains tower over meadows carpeted with wildflowers of purple, red, and yellow as streams race through the valleys where the deer and the antelope play.

Yes, it’s truly a sight to behold, but not exclusive to Wyoming…or any place for that matter. How can a lifeless land turn into a paradise in a matter of months? Luck? Nature? Or is it something more? Or is Someone else at work?

Well…personally, I don’t believe in luck. I’ve walked under ladders, picked up pennies—tails up—and I’m still alive. I can’t win the lottery to save my hide…or the jackpot at the casino. Luck is a farce. And nature? I hate to break it to the “scientific gurus” out there, but it’s “scientifically” impossible for something to come from nothing. Try to recreate that in your laboratory and see how far you get. So…I’ll stick with the logical alternative that something or Someone bigger is at work and that is God. That’s why I’m a Christian.

Transformation defines my life. I experience it in my heart, my soul. It shows in the way I walk, run, move, write, give, serve, even cry—in anything and everything I do. And as I watch the renewal of the Wyoming spring, I know it's a mere reflection of what's already occurred within me.

You see, I love this time of year, but not merely for the warmer weather and budding plants. My favorite holiday is in the springtime…Easter. The time of rebirth and growth matches this weekend perfectly because it rolls around as the land awakens as if from a long sleep.

While I lift my voice in celebration for the enormous gift of my Lord and Savior, the morning sun greets the mountains as it rises to meet the day. The blue sky stretches as far as the eye can see, and the animals and plants join my praise! Birds chirp in the trees, fish jump in the lakes, and grasses sway in the breeze. It’s a symphony of joyful noise by God’s amazing creation. What an awesome way to worship the Lord for all He’s given!

Join me. Jesus can transform your life as profoundly as spring in Wyoming . . . the land of Easter.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Glimpse into Ryan Jo Summers on the Coffee Corner (Giveaway)

Welcome to the Coffee Corner, folks. I’d like to introduce you to a special lady today. She’s a great author. Her writing graces us with captivating Christian fiction. In fact, if you comment on this blog, you may even win her latest work. Please welcome Ryan Jo Summers!

Renee: Hello there, Ryan! Welcome to the Coffee Corner. I’m so glad you could join us. I’m excited you’re here! If you don’t mind, let’s jump right in. I want to know more about you and I’m sure everyone else does too. J So….how long have you been writing and why did you start?

Ryan: I’m excited to be here too! Nothing like cutting to the chase, eh? Okay…well, I started writing at age ten, but it wasn’t until I was in my teens I figured out people did this for a living. Up till then I was just fulfilling the urge to write, quieting the voices inside me. Then I learned how blasted hard it is to write for a living. My first novel sold in 2012. I am still at my day job. However, my fiction and non-fiction portfolio is growing, and that is what it is all about.

Renee: I’ve never heard it put quite that way before, but I agree. It takes a bit of time to find your feet, doesn’t it? Thank you for that slice of wisdom. I hope someone heard it! For those writers just getting their toes wet, what would you tell them?

Ryan: Hang in there, believe in yourself and grow a thick skin. Develop a business plan or at least think of this as a business or career and not just a hobby. Think professionally and write recreationally.

Renee: We approached this calling much the same way, Ryan. I’ve never treated my writing as a hobby, even if it’s been called that by many, many people. And the day it becomes a chore is the day I need to re-evaluate my motivation. It should never be grueling to do something we love even if it can be a challenge. Speaking of easy or hard aspects of writing, what’s easiest about writing for you?

Ryan: Believe it or not, the writing of conversation. That’s usually where I begin. Get them to talking. I go back later and add descriptive details. I can hear and see them conversing so well in my head.

Renee: That’s cool! I usually start with the descriptive details of the scene, but sometimes I get wrapped up in the convo too. I guess it depends on what’s driving the scene for me. It never fails I have to go back and add a bunch of stuff as well. I guess that’s what editing is for. LOL But where do you get your ideas for your books? And how do you do your research? Do you travel or is the almighty Inter-web your gateway to the world…for now?

Ryan: A thought, observation or prompt can all get the creative juices flowing. Soon characters are born, a setting is found, scenes are mentally painted. Now I have the rough beginnings of a story. Depending on what it is and length, I flesh it out with scenes and research as I go along. Thank goodness for Google. Some need tons of research and some require very little. Glimpse Eternity, because it is so personal, did not need much at all. I want to write a pirate story and that one is needing reams of paper worth of research.

Renee: Glimpse Eternity…what an amazing title. Tell us more about this book!

Ryan: Glimpse Eternity began as therapy, with no intention of publication. I’d been handed some medical issues that had me struggling to cope. A friend suggested I write it out. So I created the heroine Kasey Griffin and gave her similar symptoms. She became someone I could dump my problems on. Then I gave her a love interest, to further complicate her life. True story: driving home one Valentine’s evening, I discovered a rose bouquet lying in the middle of the road. When I wrote Glimpse Eternity, the memory of the roses came back.

Renee: Wow. It makes you wonder…who were the roses for? Writing (and reading) is such a journey of discovery, isn’t it? It sounds like an amazing story, Ryan. It already has an awesome title! By the way, how did you come up with it? Do you have a special way you pick your titles?

Ryan: I like nature themed titles. Something to do with the outdoors. Glimpse Eternity came about differently. I was in Ireland, listening to the most beautiful, emotional song by a group called Secret Garden called “You Raise me Up”. The song had a line in it, saying “Sometimes I think I glimpse eternity.” That really hit me. It painted such a picture in my mind, along with the entire song, and summed it up fantastically.

Renee: That is a powerful song. I love it. I can see how it would inspire you. Can you tell us a little bit more about your book? Like how you chose a setting for it?
Ryan: Absolutely. I always lived near the water until I moved South. I miss it greatly and try to set my stories along the water whenever possible so I can ‘go back home’. It helps make the descriptions sharper.

Renee: I can relate to that, Ryan. I wrote To Soar on Eagle’s Wings when I lived in Texas. It definitely brought God’s country home to me. I could walk along the mountain streams and experience a Wyoming winter once again. It was awesome. I know…that sounds crazy! But it’s fun! Do you have any hobbies or fun things you like to do when you aren’t writing?

Ryan: I love to go to the national forest and hang out by the river. I enjoy the quiet and journal sometimes, reflect, pray and restore myself. The beginning of Glimpse Eternity was written there and ultimately during edits that beginning moved toward the end of the book. Which, interestingly, had to do with the rose bouquet I spotted that Valentine’s evening on the road. Hobbies include tending my 50 plus houseplants and seven animals. I like to paint mostly ceramics and acrylic on canvas. I love word find puzzles. On occasion I like needlecrafts. Baking and cooking are fun, therapeutic and relaxing. Poetry is good too.

Renee: 50 houseplants?! Wowzers! I wish I could grow something. I have a black thumb. I can’t even grow a plastic one. Of course, water helps, huh?

Thanks for the great time, Ryan!

Folks, Ryan Jo Summers is giving away one PDF copy of her book, Glimpse Eternity this week. Simply sign up for her annual/bi-annual newsletter to be entered in the giveaway. Drawing will be on 3/27/2016.






About the Book, Glimpse Eternity:

Kasey Griffin is determined to prove a diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis isn't going to ruin her life or define her expectations. She is dedicated to her pregnant sister, her pets and operating her bookstore, 'The Next Chapter'. She has everything she needs to have a full and satisfying life--the daily challenges of her condition notwithstanding.

Then hunky musician Ben Salem rolls into town. Ben's subtle charm quickly reminds Kasey she is more than a woman with a disease, she is also a woman with a heart. And Ben wants it.

Will Ben still desire her once he learns the terrible details of he condition?


    Silence hung between them. She shifted from foot to foot. Should she offer coffee, cook breakfast, or ask what happened that he spent the night? Self-consciously, she tugged at her hair again. Muttonchop whined at the tension slowly filling the room.

    “So, does that happen often?” he asked slowly, cautiously, reaching out to pat Muttonchop. “Last night?”

    Her eyes widened, breath caught. She felt like a deer in the headlights. So this was where he was going to walk out, she decided. Thomas padded into the room and sat, watching them. She wanted to scoop the big cat up, to hold him as a shield from what was to come. He was going to ask just enough questions to find out what was wrong with her and then decide it wasn't for him. Who would want her once he knew? She took a breath, steeling herself for the inevitable.


    He considered that, tilting his head. “Have you seen a doctor? It seems kind of out of character for you.” He cracked a quick grin. “Please don’t look like I’m scaring you because it’s starting to scare me.”

    He was scared? She was terrified. She pulled in a hard breath. “I have seen a doctor. It's complicated.”

About the Author, Ryan Jo Summers:

Ryan Jo Summers is a North Carolina writer who likes to pen romances with a twist. Love stories blended as inspirational, with paranormal, suspense or time travel--or several at once. She also writes non-fiction for regional periodicals. Her dad is a songwriter and his aunt wrote poetry, so Ryan came by the writing gene honestly.

Her hobbies include poetry, bird watching, houseplants and gardening, gathering with friends, hiking in the forest, painting canvas and ceramics, and working wiggly word find puzzles, mah johngg or chess.  She lives in a 1920 cottage with a menagerie of pets. She often daydreams of the shore and frequently uses water as settings in her stories.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Love Is...Evidence Not Seen by Carlene Havel (with Amazon Giveaway!)

Is it true love keeps no record of past wrongs?

Although attorney Jeff Galloway’s career is in high gear, his personal life is a mess.  Just before his father returns home from a 27-year stretch in prison, his girlfriend dumps him. When a chance encounter begins to blossom into new romance, soft-hearted Melanie Clark encourages Jeff to find a way to forgive his father’s long absence.

“Melanie!” The urge to sweep her into his arms was so strong he didn’t trust himself to move. “I brought you flowers,” he said at last. He half expected a smart aleck response.
Instead, her brilliant smile made his knees feel weak. This can’t be happening, he thought. Is this what it feels like to fall in love?

Release Date: 7/15/2016


$10 Giftcard Giveaway!

What is your definition of love?
Leave your comment below for your chance to win!


Carlene Havel writes Christian-themed romances and historical novels. She has lived in Turkey, Republic of the Philippines, and numerous US states. After a career in human resources and software development, she began writing in 2005. The Havels live in Texas, surrounded by their extended family.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Growing Pains

“I want what you have.”

Have you heard these words before? Maybe from a friend or coworker? They’re powerful words, but can be destructive. For both parties.

Have I lost you? Don’t worry. Keep reading. I’ll explain.

I remember the day I heard these words from my son. One day, we were discussing love and marriage, and he looked me square in the eyes and said, “I want what you and Dad have.”

I have to say, I was speechless. Don’t get me wrong. I would love my son to “find” true love, but (yes, there’s always a but) what I have with my husband didn’t happen overnight. It’s taken twenty-six years and continues to grow each day.

Now, let’s take a step back for a second. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to admit…to anyone. As much as I love my son, in reality, I don’t want my son to have our life. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my husband and wouldn’t trade one day of my life with him. And he knows it.

But the last thing I want is my son to watch the woman he loves suffer unbearable agony on a daily basis. Or experience inexplicable seizures and migraines. Or wake up to a broken body at the bottom of the stairs. Or nurse her through pregnancy and wonder if she or their unborn child will make it through a long, wrenching labor. Or sit through surgery after surgery only to discover another looms in the near future.

You see…on the surface, someone else’s (even your parent’s) life seems great, their love indestructible. But it doesn’t begin that way. The day I married my husband, I was a young, nineteen year old, na├»ve and ignorant of the world. He was twenty-five, an apprentice struggling to make ends meet. We were in love and thought God would save us from anything. Instead, He taught us to trust Him and each other. The hard way.

I don’t want that for my son or any friend. It would break my heart. I pray no one, especially my son, walks our path for love. Yes, our love is strong, but it came at a price. All relationships have them. And all require sacrifice.

What do I want for you (and him)? For the Lord to work in your life as He will. For you to open your entire life to Him and not needlessly covet others. The Lord has great plans for each and every one of us. Stay in His Word and pray. He'll reveal His will for you. Don't sacrifice Him for anyone else. Pursue your dreams and let God lead you in the path of righteousness. Never give up and never give in, even when it hurts. And above all, instead of "I want what you have," I want to hear,

“I want God.”

James 4:2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.