Friday, March 30, 2012

The Best Book

The Best Book

A few months ago I was given a huge box of magazines. Most were only a few months old, so I diligently filed them away, by title, in the same box, determined to read them "some day".

The problem with having books, however, at least for me, is that they scream to be read. I love to read, and read several hundred books a year. However, magazines don't seem to catch my attention. When I read, I like to get drawn into a plot or a topic, and to delve into that plot or topic, until it is exhausted. Magazines don't do that for me.

Magazines tend to be more surface than depth. They tend to tease with a few facts, and then leave a lot of unanswered questions. Or, they try to tell you a lot about things you don't really care about.

Still, this box was calling out to me. I moved it twice, reorganized it once, and even put it in a different container, in hopes that it would be satisfied to stay quiet for a while longer.

But it didn't. So I made a resolution, if you want to call it that, to read, or at least peruse, three issues per day. I started with a business publication, and worked through about 15 of them. A few interesting stories, like the one about the guy who is trying to market personal jet propulsion packs as an alternative to driving your car to work. Great idea, so long as you live less than nine minutes from work, since that's all the fuel you can carry at a time. My question is: how does he get home? Does someone have to drive fuel to his office for the return trip? Kind of negates the flying to work thing, don't you think?

Then I moved on to magazines about cooking. Out of about 25 magazines, I got maybe 5 recipes and 1 craft idea. Made me glad to not have paid for these subscriptions.

Now I'm in the middle of about 10 books on birds and flowers. A little more interesting, since we are going to be doing some landscaping this year on our property. Still, most of the ideas are not set for our climate and soil, and most definitely not for our budget.

And what does all this have to do with quiet moments alone with God, you might be asking? In reading all these magazines, I realized that I already had one book that gave me all the business ideas I could ever hope to implement -- treat others the way you want to be treated. Don't lie. Don't steal. Don't covet.

I have one book that gives me the true food I need – the Word of God. I have book that tells me what to grow in my life – fruits of the spirit. And it tells me that I will be judged by what I grow, so I must be careful to plant what I want to harvest. I must also be diligent to prune out the dead wood, to plant the seed in fertile ground, and to be watchful for pestilence.

God already gave me everything I need to know in the Bible. And when I spend more time there than in magazines, I will come away with a depth of character that the best book couldn't produce, with a full pantry, a full bank account, and a full heart that no magazine could equal.

God is so good!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Goal, Motivation, Conflict

Hello Readers,

Goal, motivation, conflict are common terms in novel writing. Today's featured blog post lists some practical suggestions on how to use those three items to make a novel manuscript more interesting.

Click here to read more about it.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Resources for the Writer

Good Evening Readers,

I enjoy looking on the Internet for writing resources. I recently found a helpful article that I would like to pass on to you.

The focus of this blog post is to point the writer to writing craft helps.

Click here to view the post.

I hope you find it helpful.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Daily Writing Tips

Good morning readers,

I have found this writing site to be helpful when it comes to those pesky words like farther/further, lay/lie, and general grammar helps. It also includes categories for fiction writing, business writing, and general writing tips.

The nice thing about Daily Writing Tips--they put up a post every day. There is a wealth of information on this site.

Click here to check it out.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Cec Murphy

Good Evening Readers,

I would like to feature a writing blog that I enjoy reading. I listened to Cec Murphy speak at our writer's retreat a year ago. He is very inspirational.

His blog has many writing tips. He has been running a series on grammar and punctuation. It is very helpful.

Click here to read Cec's blog.



Saturday, March 24, 2012

New Life

Galatians 3:2-3 The Message

New Life

It can seem like a simple and sensible thing to make a list of New Year's resolutions – those things you want to change in your life. And for whatever reason, we feel like we have to wait until January 1 to start them.

Unfortunately, if we fail to meet our own expectations, most of us tend to chuck the whole idea and wait until another January 1st rolls around to try it again. Or maybe you don't wait for January 1. Maybe you wait for the first of the month to follow your budget, or Monday to follow your diet, or tomorrow to try to quit smoking.

While there is nothing wrong in taking a serious look at where we've been and where we're going, there is something a little out of whack when our success or failure is determined by the date on the calendar, the day of the week, or the time of day.

Following a budget doesn't have to wait until the first of the month. You can start small by not buying that designer coffee today. Instead, put that money into a container somewhere, and watch it grow every day you don't buy the coffee. Soon, your goal won't be following the budget or not buying the coffee – your goal will be to see the money in that jar grow.

Following a diet doesn't have to wait until Monday. You can start today, right now, even if you just ate half a chocolate cake. Drink a glass of water. Walk around the block. Do something positive instead of focusing on a bad choice you made and followed through on and can't do one thing about.

Quitting smoking begins with not smoking as much as you want. You can start by delaying your next cigarette just five minutes past when you first want it. The next time you can start by delaying your smoke ten minutes. Before you know it, you will be able to delay your next cigarette all day.

The important thing about making changes is to realize that you didn't get to this point all at once, and so the change is probably not going to come all at once. Set a goal. Pray. Ask God for the strength and the wisdom to apply to each tempting situation that will come your way today. And do what He tells you to do. You can't get through this by yourself – accept the fact and get on with it.

You love and serve a God Who wants to be a part of all of your life. He wants to be involved in your victories, and He wants to be there when you need a hand up. You can do everything through Him, but first you have to include Him in your plans. Stop now, confess that you haven't always done that, and ask to be able to start anew with Him. His mercies are not new just in the mornings – they are new every day, all day long.

Holy Father, thank you for speaking to me in this matter. I confess I've tried to do it on my own, and on my own I have failed. Please forgive me, and join forces with me, as together You and I make a better me, one that looks more like Your Son, Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Writing a Mystery Set in the Fifties by Alan Cook

Dear Readers,

It is with great pleasure that I introduce today's guest blogger. Alan Cook wrote The Hayloft, a novel set in the 1950's.

Writing a Mystery Set in the Fifties
by Alan Cook

It wasn’t difficult to visualize writing The Hayloft, my high school mystery set in the 1950s, because, you see, I grew up in the fifties. I know your next question: is it autobiographical? All fiction is supposed to be autobiographical to some extent.

The quick answer is no. The book takes place in the fall of 1954 when I was a senior in high school. The protagonist, Gary Blanchard, is a senior in high school. Sheer coincidence. He has just changed schools because he got kicked out of the first one. That never happened to me. Well, I did get disciplined for doing something like what he did. I got kicked out of the National Honor Society and was given what seemed like infinite detention, but at least I wasn’t kicked out of the school. In addition, Gary’s a better basketball player than I was and better with girls. Maybe Gary is the person I wish I had been.

While writing The Hayloft, I had to think back and remember what those years were like.

Students then were not so different from students now. They strived for grades, laughed, had crushes, gossiped, played sports, drank, did stupid things. Just like today. In New York we even had to take standardized tests—the dreaded state Regents exams. However, the teachers geared the class work toward those exams and passed out booklets with previous exams in them. If you paid attention, they weren’t so bad.

Some of the teachers were good and some were terrible. Some were highly educated and had a superb grasp of the subject matter. Others took the easy way out and used the same homework assignments and tests year after year. They could run off copies in September and their work for the year was done. Lesson plans? Who needed them?

World events played in the background and affected everyone. The Korean War, so soon after World War II. Our boys were dying abroad—again. WW II cast a long shadow. When it ended, Americans took their hoarded savings and went on a spending spree. Real estate prices skyrocketed. During the war, rationing had left the stores bare. And ration coupons were doled out for necessities in miserly fashion.

But the cold war settled in and was to last for many years. The fears it engendered allowed for excesses. In the early fifties, Senator Joseph McCarthy was still looking everywhere for Communists. For most people this was just part of the daily news, but if somebody you knew was targeted, the consequences hit home.

Another product of the cold war was bomb shelters. A place you could retreat to when the nuclear war started, filled with all the necessities you needed to survive. Well, almost all. Thank goodness nobody actually had to live in them.

But back to the students. A Time Magazine article of the period told us that we had nothing to lose but our conformity. It’s true we all looked pretty much alike. The girls with their long skirts, short hair, blouses or sweaters, saddle shoes and bobby sox. No pants or shorts in school. And definitely no minis. Even cheerleader skirts fell below the knees. The boys with their khaki or corduroy pants and sport shirts. Neatly cut hair. Brush cuts in summer. Only the hoods or hood wannabes wore their hair longer, with DAs.

The girls wore ugly bloomers for gym class. It’s no wonder a clothing revolution was on the way. The boys wore neat shorts and T-shirts, but they took swimming classes naked. Naked? In the fifties? Surely you jest. I’ll bet they don’t do that now.

On the conformity issue, it’s true there weren’t a lot of revolutions going on. If a student decided to break out of the box and, say, publish a magazine imitating the then popular Confidential Magazine—you know, the kind of magazine you buy at the supermarket checkout counter containing salacious gossip about celebrities—he was in deep doodoo. Perhaps he wouldn’t actually get kicked out of school as my protagonist, Gary Blanchard, does in The Hayloft, but the consequences would not be pleasant.

But then, this was the era where, when the powers that be adapted the musical South Pacific for the big screen, they changed the words of the song, “There is Nothing Like a Dame,” from “What don’t we get? You know damn well.” to “What don’t we get? We don’t get well.” And speaking of “damn,” the director almost closed down a play at our high school because one of the student actors said “damn” instead of “darn,” as he was instructed.

And where does murder fit into all this? I have to admit there weren’t any murders at my high school. But there could have been. Our high school did have a balcony in its auditorium. Somebody could have been pushed off.

I had much fun writing The Hayloft because it took me back to my school days, although they are perhaps best remembered from a great distance. I attended the 50th anniversary reunion of the graduation of my high school class sometime during the course of writing the book and that helped put me in the mood.

I’m not planning to write any more books set in the fifties, but I do have two set in the sixties: Honeymoon for Three, a sequel to The Hayloft (but set ten years later) and Run into Trouble, a standalone set in 1969. Short stories are another matter. My story, Moon Over Murder (free to read on is set in the fifties. Is it autobiographical? Well, I washed dishes like the protagonist, Tom, does, but I didn’t have the adventures he had. Perhaps that’s the need fiction fulfills.

You can visit Alan's website and view his other titles. Click here.

The Hayloft is on sale now. The price can't be beat. Click here for a Kindle download.

Thank you so much Alan for sharing with my readers a little bit about your book, The Hayloft, and your writing experience. I really enjoyed it.


Friday, March 16, 2012

I Can Do All Things

Hello readers,

Read: Phil 4:13 (NKJ) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

My cat Nikki hates to have water sprayed or sprinkled on him. We use a spray bottle of water to discipline him when he does something wrong, like scratch at the carpet, or meowing too much when he wants to be fed.
Sometimes, however, he gets sprinkled by mistake. He just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And he still reacts the same way. He runs as fast as he can from the water.
Just the other day this happened, and after he calmed down and came back to me, I asked him "Aren't you bigger than that one drop of water? Aren't you smart enough to know that one drop can't hurt you?'
God showed me that I react in the same way to little troubles that come along. Little distractions. Little bumps in the road. They consume me, dictate my reactions, cause me to take my eyes off God. I must learn the difference between being washed in the Living Water, and being splashed by a tiny drop that cannot harm me, if Christ is in me.

Lord, show me that You are bigger than all the drops of water in the oceans, and that with you I cannot fail to walk on the water.



Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Friend in Need

Hello readers,

I recently wrote a post that was published on The Inkwell. You can click here to read it.

It is an article that will encourage the reader to think good thoughts and to stay focused on what the Lord has called her to do.

Be blessed,


Monday, March 12, 2012

Denver Woolworth Store in the 1950's

Good evening readers,

The original store was at 1st and Broadway, and was a popular store in the Woolworth tradition. Originally the store was not self-serve, but a major renovation in the early 60's increased the square footage, introduced departments with self-serve shopping, and enlarged the restaurant to over 500 seating capacity.

The link below describes the history of the downtown Denver Woolworth Store. Click here to read more.

Happy reading,


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Hunger and Thirst No More

Hunger and Thirst No More

We have evidence in Scripture that God will use an animal to get a person's attention, if need be. The donkey talked to Balaam, (Numbers 22:28), and prevented him from being killed by an angel of the Lord. I believe God uses animals to speak to us today, too, although not necessarily in word, but in action.
My cat, Nikki, gets fed royally. His food dish is always topped up, and he gets treats several times a day. I have never given him any bad food, although I will admit to giving him some foods that he didn't particularly like, at least not at first.
Each time I give him food, he walks slowly up to the dish, sniffing and looking. To watch him, you'd think it was a trap, ready to spring up and grab him. The way he sniffs all of it before deciding to eat any, a person would think maybe I've fed him rotten food on a few occasions. And the really funny thing is, sometimes he walks away from it, leaving it untouched for hours. I begin to think maybe he really doesn't like it, or maybe the can has gone bad since yesterday. But when I get up the next morning, the plate is invariably licked clean.
One funny habit he has is that if he decides he doesn't like something, he shakes his right front paw as he walks away from it, as if trying to shake it off.
I watched him do this recently, and I said (yes, I admit it, I talk to my cat.) "Nikki, why do you do that? Don't I always give you good food? Have I ever tried to poison you? Have I ever tried to put something in your food that jumped out and bit you?"
God spoke to my spirit, and said, "Don't you act that way with Me sometimes, too?"
I was convicted. God was right, as usual. I have prayed for a thing, and when I got it, because it looked just a little different than I expected, I doubted it was from God. At other times, I claimed a thing to be a blessing from God, but when things didn't look so great, I recanted on my testimony, saying perhaps I was wrong, and it wasn't from God.
God always gives good things. Scripture says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17 NIV)" God only knows how to give good gifts, because He has only good in Him. When we look at a blessing, particularly one that we claimed was from God, and begin to doubt it, isn't that like throwing the gift back at Him?
When I trust completely in God's goodness, I know, because His Word says so, that I need never hunger or thirst again, because He will fill my spirit so completely with His presence.

God, show me how to trust You completely, to trust that You have only good for me, and that You know exactly what I need.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fashions in the 1950;s


The fashions in the mid-1950's were fun. The skirts, suits, and hats for gals were glamorous. The fellas were debonair in their suits and hats.

Click here for more pictures.

I love the handbags. Retro fashions have made a comeback recently.

For my research , the fashion element was a blast. I could picture my characters in the clothing of the day.

Enjoy the eye candy.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Railroad in Denver in the 1950's

Good day,

The railroad has played a huge part in the growth of the Denver area. Crops,manufactured goods, and people were transported to and through Denver by the railroad.

If you click on this link, you can see a passenger train used in the mid-1950's in Denver. It is at the bottom right hand side of the page.

Happy reading,


Saturday, March 3, 2012


God is Like an Evergreen

I love to walk in the woods in the fall, kicking the fallen leaves this way and that. The tree started out bare in the spring. As the seasons progress, leaves fill out the bareness, blossoms attract insects, and, finally, the fruit appears, a wonder of creation. By winter, the fruit is gone, the leaves are dead, and the tree hibernates for another year. This reminds me so much of the world, striving for glamor and beauty. Always reaching for the top, never quite getting there. And if, they do get there, for most people, the only thing waiting for them at the end of this season of their life, is death.
In contrast stands the evergreen tree. Quiet, solid, not shouting the changing of the seasons, but merely whispering. Evergreens live much longer lives, and tend to withstand storms, drought, even forest fires, better than leaf trees. They are deeply rooted, and even when cut down or burnt, can spring new life from the old root. Green all year long, they bear fruit in all seasons.
Living a life with God is like that. The storms of life don't destroy us, because we have our feet on a solid Rock, Jesus. We are called to bear good fruit at all times. We are destined for more than a mere season on this earth. We have been promised eternal life with the Father.

Thank You, Lord, that You are faithful, stable, and eternal. And that through You, I am all of those as well. Cause me to show You to a dying world. Amen