Saturday, May 28, 2016

Memorial Day: Why We Remember

What is Memorial Day?




A federal holiday? A day off? Time to fish, camp, have fun? For many, Memorial Day's a time to relax and enjoy the sun. To spend time with family and friends in the place they call home, and that's just fine.
In fact, believe it or not, that's what the people honored on Memorial Day sacrificed their lives for. They died so we could fly to Las Vegas or fish in the mountains. Or simply stay at home and eat hamburgers.
One day each year this nation pays tribute to the cost for its freedom...your freedom. Each life lost is unique and should not taken for granted. It is cherished. And as the price tag continues to climb, never forget.

Freedom is not free.

Just as lives are sacrificed for your freedom on this earth, Jesus paid with His life for your eternal soul on Calvary. Don't miss your chance to spend eternity with Him. He's waiting for you today.

Their sacrifice may have been the price but our freedom is the reward.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Faithful Reviews: The Dragon Roars by Sara Davison




About the Book, The Dragon Roars:

Their Secrets Protect Them ...
But Secrets are Hard to Keep

No one in the army can find out that Captain Jesse Christensen has become a believer. He and bookstore owner Meryn O’Reilly are forced to meet in secret, facing imprisonment or worse if they are found together. Their relationship deepens, but so does Lieutenant Gallagher’s hatred for the Christians in their city. As Gallagher’s power grows, it becomes clear that his connections go much further up the chain of command than anyone realized, putting all believers, especially Jesse, in extreme danger.

Meryn wants to give her heart to Jesse fully, but her past holds her back. Although circumstances conspire to keep her silent, she needs to tell him her secret. When he finds out what she has been keeping from him, nothing will stand between them anymore.
Or nothing will ever be the same.




About the Author, Sara Davison:


Sara Davison holds a degree in English Literature from Queen’s University. She has written a monthly column for a major newspaper in her city, and is a copy-editor for an on-line publishing company. Her first novel, The Watcher, was the winner in the Word Alive Publishing contest in 2010, and will be released in April 2011. Davison has been a finalist for two national writing awards through The Word Guild; in 2008, for The Best New Canadian Christian Author, and in 2010, for Best Column – Single.

Davison lives in Orillia, Ontario, with her husband Michael and their three children.









A Faithful Review of The Dragon Roars by Renee:


Captivating. If you want a book that gets your attention and keeps it, pick this one up.

Book Two, The Dragon Roars picks up where The End Begins left off. Jesse is more than a soldier, he’s a Christian. His position is a blessing but also a curse. His relationship with the rebellious Meryn blooms, and he uses his role to help her but the dominating army is not to be trifled with. Meryn knows her future is in peril, but so is Jesse’s. How long will they be able to survive? That is the question nobody knows.

Sara Davison creates an amazing world where the world’s turned upside down. Christians are the enemy and life’s a guessing game. She weaves biblical truths with magnificent story-telling and paints a gripping picture for the reader in her Seven Trilogy Series


I give this book five-stars. I recommend this series to all who love end-time stories and series. It’s well worth it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Love...a Four Letter Word

What is Love?




In today's world, love's a four letter word. What do I mean by that? People toss it around like paper...or daggers.

It means nothing to some; everything to others. It's defined by politics and used as a weapon to wound family and friends. All in order to promote some new cause or agenda.

That may be the purpose of love to the world, but that's not what love means to me. It means something else entirely...to me. It isn't a means to an end or shaped by what someone says or does. In fact, love isn't conditional on...well, anything. Word, or deed...done or undone.

In other words, you don't have to do or don't do something in order for me to love you. I love you...period.

I know, what a concept, but it's true.

You may say that you don't deserve love. Or you don't know me. Or don't want my love because you don't like me. You can even toss it back in my face. That's perfectly fine. Accept it or not, you're loved anyway.

What does my love entail? It means I love you with no expectations. I don't want you to change or pretend. I love you exactly as you are, skin, bones, and all. And if needed, I'll lay down my life for you. Why? Because you're worth it.

You see, I believe love can encompass more than you and me or any particular definition or political agenda this world assigns it to be at the moment.

In closing, I have only one question to leave you with: if I can love you like this...how much more do you think God does?

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Coffee Corner Explores Cozy Mystery with Julie Cosgrove

It’s Coffee Corner time and guess who’s here? Julie Cosgrove from Prism Book Group!


She’s chattin’ it up about her new cozy mystery Dumpster Dicing. Join us as we talk about her book and writing. Oh…and check out the giveaway at the end of it all.

Let’s get started!

Hi Julie, welcome to Inspirational Moments and the Coffee Corner. I’m so excited about your upcoming release. I know it’s a cozy mystery and part of a series…can you tell us how you came up with the idea?

My sister knows how much of a mystery buff I am and challenged me to write one. I mulled over it for some time and came up with a plot about a group of retirees in a Plus 55 Community. Being in the early stages of that age group myself, I wanted to honor them. They’re not “out to pasture” but life-wise, fun-loving and creative folk. Sixty is the new “forty.” People are living longer and those in their last decades still have a lot to contribute. I write about their common trepidations about aging and diminishing, but also to show they are still vital members of society.

I queried an editor at a conference and she confirmed I had the basic formula for a cozy mystery—an untrained sleuth solves the murder through observation and common sense.  I knew I wanted to make it light-hearted…yes, murder can be just that, in a quirky sort of way. It is not the act of murder that draws the reader in because that has already occurred. It is the interaction of the loveable characters as they slowly unravel the reason why it happened. That’s why they are fun to write, and read.

Oh, boy, I can’t wait to read it. I love mysteries too. Do you have a favorite part?

Janie, one of the Bunco Biddies, is a widow of an Austin Police Detective. Now her daughter is married to the Chief Detective Blake Johnson of Alamoville, which is a booming bedroom town nearby. Janie sees him overworked and unable to spend quality time with his family. His marriage is suffering for it, so she rallies the Bunco players in her retirement community to help her solve the crime for him, without his permission of course. My favorite scene is between her and Blake when he begins to realize she truly has a knack for crime solving.

I love it! “Without his permission…” I bet they have him chasing his tail. These characters sound absolutely amazing. Do you have a favorite?

I love all the main Bunco Biddies—Janie, Ethel and Betsy Ann. Janie is smart, a natural born leader and determined to do things her way, thank you very much. Ethel is the quieter book worm but has some great insights. Betsy Ann is a bit ditzy but “has a heart as big as Dallas”, as they say in my neck of the woods. Together, they each bring their talents to the table.

With these awesome Biddies, how on earth did you pick a setting?

Texas has a good many retirement communities which cover acres and acres of land. They are like small towns. They have graduated living from independent to full nursing care. Many have amenities such as golf courses, tennis courts, hike trails and even their own libraries, beauty parlors and recreation centers. Sunset Acres is fictional, but it is based on one of these communities where I did a book signing a few years back.


Dumpster Dicing Book Trailer 

Well then, that’s that...you’re so smart! One more question about formulating the book before we move on…how did you come up with such a cool title?

I wanted to make it “punny”, to show the light-humored aspect of the book. So I chose a play on words. Dumpster because that is where the body is discovered and Dicing because he was chopped up, but also because Bunco is a dice game.

What special story can you share with us about writing this particular book? Did you learn something in particular? 

My previous publisher, Prism Book Group, has never produced a mystery series before, even though some of their authors write them.  I assumed they wouldn’t be interested. I wrote out the synopses and the first three chapters of the first book, Dumpster Dicing, and then spent months querying other publishers. I got “nibbles” but nothing solid. I almost chucked the idea for the three books in the trash. I began to think I was shooting beyond the moon. Why did I think I could write a cozy mystery? I slunk into a pouty pity party. Then I prayed on it and got the message—query your editor at Prism. What can she say? No?

Okay, God, but…to my surprise, my editor loved the synopses of each and within two days I had a three book contract. Then with trepidation, I sent the manuscript to four renowned mystery writers and they all gave me glowing endorsements, including Mary Daheim, my personal favorite cozy mystery writer. Wow.

It just goes to show you have to be bold enough to pray and then act on the message you receive. Don’t let negative thinking shackle you.  

That’s quite the story, Julie. And you’re so right. We are our own worst enemies in this business. I don’t know how often I’ve written something and if it wasn’t for my critique group, I’d toss it in the trashcan. Instead, with hard work and the right perspective, “garbage” turns into a book. Do you have any advice for the new writer?

Three things:

1.      Write it. If God is calling you to do so, then you should obey.

2.      Master the craft. Join a supportive critique group with published authors and listen to their advice, even though they may hurt your feelings in the process. If there isn’t one in your community, go online. Attend what conferences you can afford and read books on the art of crafting a good story. DiAn Mills’ The Dance of Character and Plot is good, as is Richard Maas’ Writing the Breakout Novel. Talent has to be developed.

3.      The third thing is to realize that writing the novel is just the beginning. I liken it to the honeymoon and conception. Prepare for at least nine months of development before it is “born” or it may be immature and not thrive in the marketplace. Land a traditional publisher or hire a great editor who will work with you.

What’s your biggest challenge as an author?


Social media marketing—the necessary evil. It can suck your time away from writing. The world is inundated with novels nowadays due to the ease of indy-pubbing. Amazon produces more books in one day than it did in a year two decades ago with almost solely traditional publishing methods. However, fewer people are reading as a hobby. So it is harder and harder to get your works noticed. That is why I am thankful for fellow authors like you, Renee, who help get the word out.


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MAGNIFICENT MYSTERY GIVEAWAY




Two eBooks of Dumpster Dicing are up for grabs! Comment below for a chance to win!

Awarded before the public launch date of June 3, 2016, two winners will be chosen from the blog comments by random draw one week from original blogpost date.

(Special note: selected winners are eligible for a free eBook of Baby Bunco, the next release in the series if he (she) posts a review on Amazon.com and on Goodreads by September 2016.)

Minimum of 5 comments required to validate contest.

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About the Book:
                      
As Janie and Betsy Ann go for their morning jog, the city sanitation vehicle follows its normal five-mile Tuesday morning route through their retirement community of Sunset Acres. The two Bunco-playing biddies spot a leg dangling out of the dumpster when the truck lifts the trash container high in the air. Someone diced up one of their newest residents—a grouchy loner named Edwin Newman. Did he unpack too much of his dicey past when he moved in last weekend?


About the Author:

Freelance writer, author and speaker Julie B Cosgrove leads retreats, workshops, and Bible studies. She writes regularly for several Christian websites and publications.
Besides freelance writing and helping newbie writers on their path to publishing, Julie has personally published three Bible studies,two inspirational works, a devotional and a novel - Focused (2012), as well as the following through Prism Book Group: Hush in the Storm (2014) and Legitimate Lies (2015- Best 2016 Religious Fiction Award), Freed to Forgive (2015 - Grace Award Finalist) with Greener Grasses, Navy Blues, Hill Country Homecoming and a three book cozy mysteries series, The Bunco Biddies coming in 2016-2017.
She is a member of North Texas Christian Writers, Texas Association of Authors, Advanced Writers and Speakers, American Christian Fiction Writers, Toastmasters International, Daughters of the Holy Cross and several web-based author groups Julie has one grown son and lives in Fort Worth, TX with two cats.


Visit her website at www.juliebcosgrove.com

Books published -
P.R.A.Y.I.N.G.- Bringing Power and Purpose to Your Prayers (2009)
Song Notes - Devotionals from Verses in the Psalms (2010)
What Can She Tell Us? (2011)
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Happiness (2011)
Focused-A Novel (2012)
Between the Window and the Door (2012)
Squeeze More God-time Into Your Day (2013)
Hush in the Storm (August 2014)
Legitimate Lies (Jan 2015)
Freed to Forgive (October 2015)
Experiencing the Present of God's Presence (2015)
Navy Blues (May 2016)
Greener Grasses (Feb 2016)
Dumpster Dicing (June 2016)
Hill Country Homecoming (Nov 2016)
Baby Bunco (Jan 2017)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Mother's Day Post from Jo Huddleston with Giveaway

Raising Children Like Gardening




My green thumb talents are limited to growing weeds in the springtime. Last fall, longing for some color in my yard to brighten winter days ahead, I bought a flat of pansies. A plastic tag stuck into their dirt promised red blooms from every little sprout.

With the excitement of a first-time gardener, I carefully moved the tiny pansy plants with their clumps of dark earth to prominent places around my home. Some went into flower pots to adorn the deck, some occupied a large planter on the front porch, and a few came to rest in the ground as a border near my backdoor.

The same sun shone on them all; rain that fell in the front yard also watered the backyard. Not one plant died! But, while some pansies bloomed a deep, velvety red, others have yet to produce even a hint of color.

I wondered what I’d done wrong. Even though I’d given the same kind and amount of care to each tiny plant, some fulfilled my expectations while others did not.

As I reflect on my half-successful flower gardening, I’ve decided that raising children is much like my green thumb experience. Some children will meet expectations of them; some will not. Children raised by the same parents have a good chance of being different from their siblings. Some will have patient, even-tempered personalities; others will perhaps embrace a more scheming attitude. While some children from the same family become responsive and loving individuals, others remain introverted, spearing insecure.

Investing care and time in our children reminds me of the farmer in Jesus’ parable who sows seed, some of it producing a good crop, but some of the seed falling where desired growth was difficult (Matthew 13:3-9, NIV).

Children are God’s miraculous gifts. In children He gives us gold mines. Refined ore from gold mines ultimately become different things—watches, rings, necklaces—but, in whatever form, these things are still gold. When we tend our child-gold-mines, they, too, become different things. But they’re still our children.

Although my two children grew up in the same family, they’re as different as baked 
potatoes and French fries.

My older child was as open as the books I read to her, sharing her hopes, dreams, tears, and fears. The few times she hurt too badly to share, I’d wait patiently until she’d approach me with her burden. Our talks were more her talking and me listening, giving her a sounding board for her frustrations and problems.

We didn’t always find solutions, but the time spent together searching for them served its good purpose for us both. She shared everything with me; well, not everything, I know, but she gave enough of herself so that I might be her friend.

On the other hand, my second child took his first steps pulling against the helping hand I offered. He wrapped himself with unconcern; whether read or pretended, I can only guess. He stayed on the outer rim of family togetherness, allowing me only an occasional glimpse of himself.

As my son burst into his teenage years, family traditions paled in the glow of the independence his driver’s license afforded him. I watched him rush to become a free spirit, straining at every restriction. He considered any advice as interference. When he had frustrations, he never told me: he didn’t reveal his thoughts. If his high school had burned, I would’ve had to learn about it from the newspaper!

I continue hoping for blooms in the border near my backdoor…or well, I’ll try my luck with pansies again in the fall.


You know, we can keep on trying with our children, too; maybe work some on ourselves as well. After all, aren’t we all children? Some of us just grow up and bloom.

Jo Huddleston


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Happy Mother's Day!

We'd love for you to win Jo's book this week! Enter by answering the question below (or leave a comment about the blog). Don't forget your email address!

Which unique trait makes you different from your siblings (if you have them)?



One winner will be chosen by random draw one week (7 days) from postdate. Prize: (1) Kindle copy of Promise Me by Jo Huddleston. Minimum of 5 comments required to validate contest.

To discover more about Promise Me, read on!

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About the Book: 

In 1960, civil discord in Vietnam fills the news. After his college graduation, Patrick Fitzgerald plans to join his daddy’s South Carolina accounting firm. But Uncle Sam may have another position in mind for Patrick—in the U.S. Army. His family’s affluence would be no match for the persuasion of the military draft.

Adriana Montagna’s papá ekes out a living as a coal miner in the mountains of West Virginia. Can a lasting relationship form with Patrick, or will his wealth become a barrier between them?

Meanwhile, the fiber of America’s unity stands on the precipice, while its youth fight a no-win battle on foreign soil. What good can a young couple hope for at such a time as this?


Excerpt:

Chapter 1

August 1960 - Morgantown, West Virginia
“Good night, Chet. Good night, David. And good night for NBC News.” The program signed off with the Texaco Gasoline red star logo across the screen.
In Dean Loreen Fletcher’s apartment, Patrick Fitzgerald sat closest to the television when NBC’s Huntley-Brinkley Report ended. He stepped to the floor-standing console and turned off the television. He took his time returning to sit on the sofa beside Adriana Montagna. A somber silence settled over the living room and its six occupants, interrupted only by the humming window air conditioner.
Patrick scooted to the front edge of the sofa cushion and rested his forearms on his legs. “I don’t want my first job after graduation to be in Vietnam.”
No one remarked and he continued. “The situation over there worries me. Now Washington announces we’re sending 3,500 soldiers to South Vietnam to help them fight against the communist North Vietnamese. When I graduate from college in December, I hope their mess over there has cooled down some.”
Adriana laid her hand on his back. “Patrick, hush. We don’t want to think about you going overseas.”



About the Author:

Jo Huddleston is an Amazon Bestselling author of books, articles, and short stories. Novels in her West Virginia Mountains series and her Caney Creek series are sweet Southern historical romances. Her novels are endorsed by Amanda Cabot, Debra Lynn Collins, Cara Lynn James, Sharlene MacLaren, and Ann Tatlock. The redeeming story of God’s pursuing love is the foundation of her novels, and in them you will find inspiration, hope, and gentle stories that are intriguing and entertaining. Jo is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN).


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Beauty in the Badlands

God's Hand at Work


Have you wondered if God can make something good out of bad? Been down on your luck? In the doldrums with no hope...convinced God has abandoned you?

You don't have to be alone.

Should I say that again? You don't have to be alone.

badlands-national-park-beauty-blare
Badlands National Park

Even in the desert, when there's not another soul in sight, God's handiwork is visible. His sculptures are a testament to His power and majesty and what we have waiting on the other side.

life-badlands-beauty-blare
Life in the Badlands

Why do we linger in a dry, parched land? 

We struggle to make it...day to day...digging in the dirt for satisfaction, hope, and joy. Only to cry out in anger when they crumble into dust.

Why struggle alone in this life when He's eager to help? Why push Him to the side and force Him to watch as we scrape in the sand, bloody and wounded?

We are never alone...even in the wilderness. God provides hope and direction in the darkest of nights. He's always listening. He's always waiting.

And He wants to help.


beauty-badlands-blare
Beauty in the Badlands
This world isn't easy. After all, it is a fallen one. There's pain and destruction everywhere, but God didn't abandon us to the wolves. He still wants to help.

And how can He do that? If you let Him! You're not perfect. Accept that, confess it and accept His Son, Jesus into your heart. Let Him take control of all the things you can't handle. That means your life. Let Him restore your hope.

Walk with Him and, like the Badlands, your life will be a testament of God's handiwork on this earth.

And you'll never be alone again.


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renee-blare-badlands
Renee with her husband, James in the Badlands

Brief testimony:
I recently visited Badlands National Park with my husband, James. The beauty of the park, although rugged, reminded me of God's handiwork and power.
I always look for Him in everything around me. I try to see the beauty in all as well...yes, even the dry prairie!
It gives me hope that the Lord is with me and His hand is upon this land.
May the Lord bless you and keep you in the palm of His hand.
In Christ,
Renee Blare


Badlands National Park: https://www.nps.gov/badl/index.htm
Pictures taken by Renee Blare: please do not reuse without permission.