Wednesday, August 4, 2010

My review of Donna Carick's "The First Excellence"

I must admit, with all of the great books out on the shelves, I have a list of 'to be reads' a mile or two long.

The First Excellence by Donna Carrick was about ten or twelve on my list, only because I stack them as I get them and work my way down.  

And then I heard Donna read an excerpt of her new novel on Lori Osterman's blogtalk radio show. 

It quickly made it's way to the top of my list.......... and ..........I began..........reading.

From the first utterance of words by Good Mother to the decision Min-xi was forced to make, I was hooked. There was no going back. 

The carefully thought out plot meld with real life controversies, such as, international adoption, child abuse, the politics of communist China and the reality of life for those affected by all of the above. 

Donna's own personal experience with the adoption of a Chinese little girl ( a very adorable little girl, I might add) and her acquaintance with the real life Li Fa-ling, is what sparked the idea of The First Excellence. 

She has an exciting creative ability that made her characters come alive and take me with them to the streets of China.

Her detailed descriptions of Fa-ling and Yong-qi are so real that I would swear I know them or at least, met them somewhere, along the way.  

Fa-ling is very perceptive and is genuine as she interacts with fellow characters. You can't help but follow her lead, as she takes you with her from Shanghai to the farmlands of Zhuang and back again. You will feel the emotions of her heart and be with her every step of the way. 

There are so many layers of mystery, romance and intrigue to The First Excellence and when the final pages leave me (I mean Fa-ling) in Beijing, I don't want it to end. 

Neither will you! 

I will be, patiently, waiting for the sequel, Donna! 

Click on Donna's website to view other books she has written.

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Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Writer's Plight

GA writer barnstar in

I dig deep within myself 
                 to write feelings that emerge.
I shout out words with my pen 
                 and hit paper with a surge.
Random times and days, 
                 I can not pick and choose.
It's, as if, someone takes my words, my thoughts.....and decides, 
                 in which way, they will be used.
Have you ever felt this way? Having no control?
                  Have you ever looked ahead....but, only seen the old?
I'm sure I'm not the only one who suffers from this plight.
                 As a writer, I admit, I only want to write.
Then what holds my hand away.....could it just be life? 

I know we all have times where we need to get things done, but just can't seem to accomplish what we set out to do. I have been beating myself up because I have let other parts of life come between me and my writing. The more I beat myself up the less I write. How do I stop the cycle?

Any comments or suggestions will be appreciated, friends :-)

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Once and Forever

The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi, 1919 EDWARD EGGLESTONImage by Sheepback.Cabin via Flickr

I loved you in the long ago,

My heart was yours forever.

We shared life as sated as we might,

Tho, it really did not matter.

For, it ran away with the wind

             Leaving my heart soaring.

                  The freedom of my soul,

                       Spun like a disc, out of control.

                            When will we intertwine?

                                  Will we share this space again?

                                         Will it happen?

                                               Am I dreaming?

                                                      Can I just pretend?






Friday, June 18, 2010

A Poem For My Dad

     This is a poem I'd posted a while back and thought it an appropriate tribute to my Dad. I'd written it the day of his funeral and though, it has been six years, I still miss him everyday.

Just a Teardrop Away
I knew no man with a warmer heart
A giving nature was just one part
With sadness in his eyes
And a smile on his face
With a pain in his heart
That years could not erase
At times we were close
Never too far away
He gave comfort with a hug
And hope for a new day
I pray that he knew of my love for him
From a daughter to a Dad
And from deep within
The time that we shared
Brought us laughter and tears
Always appropriate through the years
Life still goes on Dad
Though you're not here
But, I'll never forget your love
Not for a minute, a day or a year

I have a 'Special' Father's Day wish for my son, who is raising two boys of his own.

~ My wish for him is that it will not pass too quickly and he will feel the love and cherish every moment of fatherhood. ~ Happy Father's Day!
I love you, Kory!

And to my son-in-laws and my brothers and all of the men who have the honor of 'Fatherhood' bestowed upon them. It is one of the most important, if not the most important task, you will be given to do.

I wish you all a very Happy Father's Day!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Beautiful Blogger Award

I have met wonderful friends on my internet travels. We comment on each others blogs, chat on facebook and tweet on twitter. And there are a few that aren't very talkative, but you know they are there and when you don't see their name pop up, after a day or two, you begin to wonder and worry about them. Rebecca Emin or better known in the twitter world as @Boolawoola is just that type of friend.  I miss her when she isn't around. I look for her name in anticipation to see what she has to say. She is entertaining, has a great perspective on life and she is funny. The name of her blog is Ramblings of a Rusty Writer.

     Recently, I received a total surprise from her. Rebecca awarded me a Beautiful Blogger Award and included me with a great group of bloggers, whom I also enjoy and respect. 

                  Rebecca, I am honored and I accept. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  ~

       Now, I must give you seven random facts about myself and nominate seven other bloggers, as well. So, here we go!

1. I enjoy rainy days, as much as sunny days.
2. I look forward to waking up early, before the world  comes to life.
3. I don't mind being alone. I enjoy my own company.
4. I have bouts of depression, but I'm pretty good at talking myself out of them, most of the time.
5. I am a pushover when it comes to children, especially my grandchildren.
6. I prefer the countryside to the city.
7. I don't believe that everything is black or white.

There are so many beautiful blogs and bloggers and I appreciate all of them. However my task is to choose only seven.

These Beautiful Bloggers will fill you with heart, inspiration and knowledge! 

I'm sure you can name many more. Why don't you take a moment to introduce them here, in the comment section, so they can be noted as well?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

In My Daughter's Eyes

 Happy Mothers Day

     To all of my family and friends 

            Who have had the pleasure

                  Of bringing a life into this world.
                                  There is no greater purpose ! 

 A tribute to my daughters. 

                    The most perfect Mothers I know. 

                              I love you, girls!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Soft Whispers Entry takes 1st Place

As a contributor of Soft Whispers, I have the opportunity to get creative with my writing.  Pic 1k is a little game we play. We are assigned a picture each month and asked to write a story of 1000 words or less. My story, titled "A Bridge of Dreams and Choices" was one of two chosen for print this month., along with a very creative and talented writer, P.J. Kaiser (known as Doublelattemama on twitter).

To enjoy our stories, go to page 17 of  Soft Whispers - Issue Four

While there, enjoy the many faceted works of other talented authors, as well.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Sister, Where Are You?

She cared for her
                        With a mother’s heart
                                                      Though they were only
                                                                                       A decade apart
They hugged as they slept
                       On one small cot
                                                Sharing a pillow and a tear
                                                                              Cringing at the noise
Covering their ears
                          Pretending to sleep
                                                     The words were loud
                                                                                      And cut so deep
An abusive time
                      With each others love
                                                        They grew close
                                                                                   Then life changed
New lives began
                      Their paths were severed
                                               Moving toward a better day
                                                                            Lives changed forever
She laid her head upon
                       The soft mound of fluff
                                                        That is solely hers
                                                                      And her heart beats alone.

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thicker Than Blood by C.J. Darlington

C. J. began writing the story that would become her first novel Thicker than Blood when she was a fifteen-year-old homeschool student. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over a decade, scouting for stores similar to the one described in Thicker than Blood before cofounding her own online bookstore. Thicker than Blood was the winner of the 2008 Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel. In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction through book reviews and author interviews. She makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs and cats. When she's not writing, she's reading. Her hobbies include book and art collecting, fly fishing, painting and drawing.

Thicker Than Blood has two very distinct settings and C.J.'s  ability to go back and forth between the two, while keeping it relevant and believable, won me over as a fan. I am, anxiously awaiting her next project.  

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Monday, March 15, 2010


Poetry inspired by a picture

A secret is meant

To be shared by two

So how long must we wait

To make it true

I would give a lifetime

To share with the world

My feelings for you

But who's to know

If our secret

Is hidden away

If we cannot tell

Of our love

Then what can it mean

To either of us

Exposed originally published on Soft Whispers blog
Photo courtesy of J. Wisneski

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Passing the Torch (kind of)

A friend and all around wonderful person, Anne Tyler Lord is a talented writer, who entertains with her very creative and colorful imagination. Her #writerlbsoff program has provided a place for us to talk about our success each week, whether it be with our weight loss, exercise program or writing projects. Anne presented me with not one, but two awards :-) And I am honored.

In acceptance of these prestigious awards, I must post ten truths about myself that may not be known by many. So. without further ado:

1. My marriage ended amicably, at the age of twenty-eight, after being married for ten years.
2. My three wonderful children, two daughters and a son, have first names that begin with 'K'. (My special 'K's)
3. I did have a fourth child, a son who died during the delivery of boy/girl twins.
4. Now, I have two granddaughters and three grandsons, who are the light of my life.
5. I was twelve, when I knew I wanted to write, but life got in the way.:-)
6. I managed a health spa in the late 70's early 80's for about eight years.
7. I was a caregiver for both of my parents, who passed away from stroke complications, three years apart, within the past seven years.
8. I worked for a major pharmaceutical company, as a clinical research specialist. (Soon realized that corporate politics were not my cup of tea.)
9. I am friends with my ex-husband's wife. (you can exhale, now) :-)
10. I have learned to accept the good AND bad moments of life, because if you don't experience the bad, you can never appreciate the good.

Well, there you have it. And now, I want to bestow the Silver Lining Award and The Honest Scrap Award upon these very special folk.


Please accept these awards and I look forward to learning more about each one of you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

When We Listen: When Your Heart Breaks

Beautifully written prose ~ by Lori Newman

I felt the need to share this poem with you. It touched my heart and has a true sense of honesty as to the fear of putting yourself out there. Whether in love or your writing, or your love of writing, it is so worth taking the risk. Enjoy!

When We Listen: When Your Heart Breaks

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Positive Attitude Award

I was honored when Jim Wisneski included ME to receive this award. In turn, I must pass it on to 3 (only 3, while there are many:-)) others, who deserve it.

After much deliberation, here goes:

Amy K. Sorrels for spreading sunshine in the darkness
Lori Newman for knowing what to do with life's lemons
Donna Carrick who brings a smile to everyone in her path

Sunday, February 14, 2010

An Evening with Ray Bradbury

Cover of "Now and Forever: Somewhere a Ba...Cover via Amazon

"Don't ruin your life with thinking, think your life with feeling...loving...passion" ~ Ray Bradbury

An award winning author, who's simplistic view of writing has brought him success. He once said, "You must decide what is more important to or writing? If you are writing to make money, do something else." His words, not mine.:-)

Ray Bradbury has written and published over 500 stories, over 30 books, of which two of my favorites are Dandelion Wine and it's sequel, Farewell Summer, which was actually written prior to the first book. He also made time to throw in a few screenplays. He never locked himself into a specific genre. His writing was all over the market. He didn't believe in positioning himself in the race to be published. He believed in reaching deep inside himself and creating a masterpiece.

Born in Waukegan, Illinois, (about twenty five miles from where I live now, sigh) and unable to go to college or acquire any formal education in writing, he spent four days a week or so in the public library, while growing up. He will tell you, that after ten years, he graduated from the public library. His unique sense of humor is priceless.

Read an excerpt of his latest work of art, Now and Forever

And then pour yourself a glass of wine or whatever your pleasure and spend an evening with Ray Bradbury.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

My Thin Place

     As my car headed straight for the trunk of a tree, I saw Him. He said, “No! No! Not yet. You are not done.” His palm facing toward me, like a traffic cop at a school bus stop, I took my foot from the brake, but not soon enough to divert an impact. But no, He wasn’t letting me go that easily. God intervened, on my behalf, to save my life and my soul. I believe that I have known many thin places.

     When I woke up in the hospital three hours later, I was told that I had flat-lined. The doctors were trying to revive me and they were just about ready to give up when my vitals began to register again. Apparently, they heard me say the word, why?  

     My ‘thin place’ wasn’t about my living or dying. It was clearly the vision of God shaking his head, no. It was when I felt His spirit, right there in my heart and in my whole being. I couldn’t help wondering, why me? Why would He acknowledge me? Why would He choose me to communicate with? Why would he save me?

     I knew from that point on, I needed to be an example of Him to others. I don’t have the answers to all of the why’s, but I’m sure He would want me to be caring, supportive and inspiring to others, even in small ways. In whatever way I can. I look for Him everyday in everything I do. I love my life with Him in it.  

Monday, February 8, 2010

Thin Places a Memoir

"It’s a story of God’s nearness when I thought I’d nearly lose my mind and will to live. How grateful I am for the beautiful love of Jesus, how dearly He chose frail me to shame the wise. It’s really His story after all." Mary E. DeMuth

When I was asked to be an endorser for Thin Places by Mary E. DeMuth, I was honored. I waited for the book to come, checking the mailbox everyday. I have read Mary's previous writings and knew that I was in for a wonderful treat.

And then, here it was. I tore open the padded envelope and held the book in my hand. As I waited for the tea kettle to howl, oh yes, this was going to require a cup of tea, my softest throw and a comfy chair, because I knew once I started reading, I wouldn't stop until I've been through all 224 pages.

As I read the first paragraph It came to me that this wasn't a work of fiction. This wasn't a made up story of a make believe character. This was real ~ Mary's real life story ~  And then I began to cry. The thought of an innocent little girl enduring this life was unacceptable. However, that didn't stop it from happening.

The cover of Thin Places is an actual photo of Mary DeMuth taken by her father at age five.

Click link below to view the trailer

About the Author:

Mary DeMuth
Author and speaker Mary DeMuth helps people turn their trials to triumph. Her books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God; Building the Christian Family You Never Had; Watching the Tree Limbs; Wishing on Dandelions; Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture and the first two books in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy: Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn.
National media regularly seek Mary’s candid ability to connect with their listeners. Her radio appearances include FamilyLife Today, Moody Midday Connection, Point of View and U.S.A. Radio Network and is frequently featured on Chuck Colson’s BreakPoint. She has published articles in In Touch, HomeLife, Writer’s Digest and The Writer.
Mary lives with her husband Patrick and their three children in Texas.

In the interview that follows, you will understand why it was in her heart to write Thin Places.

What trials did you face as a child?

• Childhood sexual abuse at five
• Parents with addictions
• Feelings of being unwanted
• An unsafe home
• Neglect
• Death of a parent
• Loneliness
• Suicidal thoughts
• Three divorces

It’s hard to write all that out and not feel bad for little me. But even in the recounting, I’ve been able to see the thin places in my life, those snatches of moments where God came near. That’s the message and hope of Thin Places, being able to see the nearness of God amidst heartache.

What compelled you to write Thin Places?

I felt sufficiently healed from my past, which had been a long, long journey. And in that healing, I knew I had the perspective I needed to be able to communicate my story with hope. In the past, I’d vomit my story of sexual abuse and neglect on any poor soul who’d listen, not with the intention to help her grow through her story, but to gain empathy.

But now I marvel at the path God’s brought me on, how gently He’s led me to this place of wholeness. From that abundance, I share my story. Why? Because I believe sharing the truth about our stories helps others see their own stories.

While I recorded the audio book for Thin Places, the producer asked me why I’d splay my life out this way.

“Because I don’t want folks to feel alone,” I told him.

“You’ve given a gift,” he said.

I sure hope so.

In this memoir you give readers a candid glimpse into your upbringing. Was it hard to share particular parts of your story?

In some ways, it was easy. I’ve shared my story over a decade now. What was hard was giving myself permission to say it all, to not hold back, to explore the emotions I experienced during the rapes, the drug parties, the feelings of loneliness.

Oddly, though, it was harder for me to share what I’m dealing with now as a result of my upbringing than the actual initial trauma. It’s hard to admit that I’m still so needy, so insecure. After reading the book aloud, I saw I still had areas of growth, particularly in being so hard on myself.

What do you hope readers gain from reading your memoir?

I hope they see hope.

I hope they realize how profound and surprising and radical God’s redemption is.

I hope they’ll see the irresistibility of Jesus.

Some folks wait until grandparents and parents are deceased until they write a memoir, but you wrote yours with some still alive. Was that difficult?

Extremely. In many ways, agonizing. You can be assured that I prayed through every word. I’m thankful for my critique group who walked me through the writing and my stellar editor who helped shape the manuscript into a redemptive story. My goal was not to impugn or point the finger at what went wrong way back when, but to shout about God’s ability to transform a needy, incomplete girl.

It’s never easy to tell the truth, and I know my words may hurt some. But, thankfully, I’ve sought God’s heart in this and I can rest peacefully in knowing that.

Anne Lamott says, “Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you're a writer, you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive."

Thin Places is my answer to her quote.

But why go there? Why examine the past? Hasn’t the old passed away?

Yes, of course we must move forward. We must move beyond our pasts. But in order to do that, we must mourn the reality of what happened, not bury it under a rug. I love what Sam says in The Two Towers movie about the importance of telling our stories, no matter how dark: “It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad has happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you.”
It’s my sincere hope that my story will stay with readers, not because of its sordidness, but because the Light of Jesus has shined so brightly upon it.

What encouragement or cautions do you have for those wanting to write their story?

First, prayerfully consider if this is something you need to do for therapy rather than publication. It’s very exposing to write a memoir. And sometimes we mistake the compelling feeling we have with publication. God sometimes calls us to write unpublished words, to get everything out on the page for the sake of our own personal healing.

Many of you have read memoirs that are self-indulgent or a poor-me fest. You need to evaluate whether you’re at a good place of healing before you embark on writing your story for everyone to read.

Do you worry that writing a memoir makes you out to be narcissistic?

Of course. Because I’m the main character! As I’ve edited, read and re-read the book, I’ve agonized over that. Now that the book’s released, I am resting. What’s done is done. And I honestly believe that the story isn’t about me. It’s about a rejuvenating God who stooped to rescue a needy, frail girl.

What fears have you battled as this book released?

Because this is such a personal book, I’ve worried about negative reviews. In some ways that’s good because it will force me to find my security and love from the One who made me, rather than the opinions of others. I’ve received some great endorsements, but also some harsh reviews. And those are the ones that knife me! Because the book’s about me!

I worry that I’ll be misunderstood. Or that telling the truth will hurt others. I’ve made a point to disguise nearly everyone and everything in the book, but of course the potential for hurt feelings is high.

I fear opposition by the father of lies. Since this is a truth-filled book, displaying authentic struggle, I have a feeling he won’t like it. I’m thankful for a specific, targeted prayer team around me to pray for protection regarding the release of this book. It’s humbling, actually, to see how God brought those pray-ers together.

Thin Places can be purchased at

Thin Places
Release: February 2010
Soft cover, 224 pp., $14.99
ISBN: 031028418X

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Find Susan Powell

It has been over a month now that Susan Powell, a 28 year old mother of two sweet boys, ages 5 and 3, has been missing. Her children don't know where their mommy is and that is not OK. I am fearful that the outcome, after all of this time, will not be a good one for those children or the rest of the family. Still, we must stay positive, easier said than done, for those who love her and miss her and want her back home with them.

Every time I see a post or a news article about Susan Powell, I wonder what I would do if it were one of my daughters who went missing. As much as it hurts to think about and the agony I imagine feeling, it is nothing compared to what Susan's family, friends and loved ones are going through, because my daughters are still with me.

Please keep Susan Powell and her family in your prayers, for more information about Susan Powell.
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