Almost the end of April

This month has gone so fast. We’re enjoying the sunshine and warmer temperatures, and have planted our potatoes. Yes, the day before Easter, just one day after the Old Farmer’s Almanac says those spuds ought to be in the earth, producing more of their kind. 

Yesterday Lance spotted an eagle–he thinks maybe it’s a young one “kicked out of the nest,” and in this shot, it does look a bit quizzical. Just what am I to do with this great big world around me?

We enjoyed watching our granddaughter’s determined races yesterday…talk about concentration–she knows what to do–her very best!

Makes me think of a WWII heroine…a young woman who surveyed her world like the young eagle Lance spotted, saw everyone making their contribution to the war effort, and longed to do the same. She only needed a little guidance…and it arrived in good time. 

Then she was off, doing her VERY BEST to support the troops “over there.” 

If you’d like to read her story and can post a review on my Amazon.com page, I would be happy to forward you an e-copy. Please contact me at my e-mail: gkittleson@myomnitel.com

The Heart Changer 💗

Jarm DelBoccio, welcome! Congratulations on the release of your 

debut middle grade historical fiction The Heart Changer 💗 releasing April 26th. 
Readers, please leave a comment if you’d like a chance to win this mobi or e-book.

            As long as I can remember, I’ve been drawn to historical and biblical fiction. I’m a realist, and it shows in my choice of reading material. I’m also a visionary at heart, and at times, I wonder how the childhood of historical characters would play out. If there is little information known about them, my curiosity takes over!

            I have a soft spot for kids in the Bible who have no name and backstory, but made a huge impact on the people around them, like Naaman’s wife’s servant girl from 2 Kings 5. So, I gave Miriam a name AND a feasible backstory! I try to stay as close to the historical account as possible. Since my passion is to ‘breathe new life into the pages of history’ I delight in the ‘what-ifs’ and bring the story to life so children can relate to the Bible characters in a fresh way.

            Since Naaman’s army would have conquered the northern part of Israel, it made sense to choose Shunem for Miriam’s home town, which is also close to Elisha’s the

town near Jezreel.  Then my wheels began to turn, thinking of the little roof lodging the prophet occupied when he visited the widow and her son, whom he provided for with the miracle of the oil and flour.

Elisha also brought the boy back to life when he fell ill in his early teens. Why not include him (Jonas) as a good friend of Miriam’s and another connection to Elisha? Miriam (nameless in Scripture) would have known Elisha due to his fame in all of Israel, but he could have lived in the next village.

            Lots of research goes into writing a book. As I was finishing the final edits with my publisher, Ambassador International, one of my endorsers questioned how my MC would know the Syrian language, since I had her conversing easily with foreigners. I discovered in those days, the Syrians would have spoken Aramaic (presently it’s Arabic) while the Israelites’ native tongue was Hebrew.

            The “ah-ha” moment came when I understood the two languages derived from the same root, so they would have been able to understand each other, just as an Italian could understand a Spanish-speaking person. Then, remembering that Jesus spoke Aramaic in the first century AD, it made sense he could communicate with so many Gentiles. I love those connections!

            I was blessed with input on the setting from a missionary mom and her three daughters who live close to the Syrian border. Being close to Miriam’s age, they could give a fuller picture of life in that part of the world. This month, Spring has sprung in the desert, so my friends have been posting images of the stunning flowers across that dry land.

            The contrast reflects Miriam’s dry soul before she gave it to the Heart Changer. By the end of the story, her heart was blooming with joy!

            Also, a friend married to a messianic Jewish man vetted my references to Jewish culture and expressions from thisOld Testament account. I didn’t want to offend the Jewish population in using the word ‘Jehovah’. The Israelites considered God’s name as sacred. They would pronounce it ‘YHWH’ or YaHWaH’, removing the vowels so they wouldn’t offend.

               Of course, I’m most grateful for inspiration and direction from The Heart Changer Himself. He and I have more stories to tell! My heart’s desireis to impact lives, leading my readers discover there’s always hope when they allow God to write their story.

 

Jarm (‘J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) Del Boccio finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on lives of characters from the past, Jarm is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history.

Jarm has a background in elementary and high school education, and served for seven years as a school librarian. Grateful for the opportunity, she taught three missionary kids in an isolated area of Papua New Guinea. She is part of SCBWI and American Christian Fiction Writers, and has published articles in “The Old Schoolhouse” magazine.

“The Heart Changer,” her debut MG historical/biblical fiction, releases with Ambassador International April 26th 2019. Jarm is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home) in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago.

Find The Heart Changer herehttps://amzn.to/2SCcPnx
Jarm’s website ✍🏻: https://www.jarmdelboccio.com/

“My Passion is to Breathe New Life into the Pages of History: Illuminating the Past. Making Sense of the Present. Offering Hope for the Future.”

Joy After Noon

I’m welcoming Debra Coleman Jeter by sharing some advance praise for her novel, JOY AFTER NOON

Advance Praise for Joy After Noon

Jeter’s characters and scenery are so vivid and real that I felt I was right there sharing all their hope and fears. So looking forward to the next installment!—Jana Little

Debra Jeter does a beautiful job creating realistic characters whose lives intertwine in an honest and  purposeful way. I found myself still thinking about their stories once the book ended—Katy Owen

Joy After Noondrew me in and my heart ached along with hers as I followed her struggles. I found myself relating to many characters in the novel–cringing sometimes and laughing at others—Tracy Wilbanks

I was instantly drawn into Joy’s story. A beautiful story full of inescapably good characters – you get so pulled into their world that you miss them just as soon as the book is closed.—Paige Boggs

Debra is offering a choice of an e-book or a signed paperback of JOY AFTER NOON to a commenter. With that, take it away, Debra! Oh…

Joy After Noon is the first published novel in my new Sugar Sands series, set in the fictional beach town of Sugar Sands, Alabama. Initially, the idea behind my title, Joy After Noon, was that Joy’s life has been lonely (and joy has been elusive) since her parents died when she was sixteen. She has about given up on finding love when she meets Ray. She comes into his ready-made family and, for a time, this seems like a mistake. However, in the afternoon of her life, she finds love and joy.

When does the afternoon of life begin? Joy is much younger than I am, but she’s never been in a serious romantic relationship before, and she no longer expects one when she meets Ray. She does not consider herself particularly desirable or even attractive, and she’s thrilled that Ray finds her beautiful. Doubts emerge, though, after the honeymoon, and soon she begins to question his real motives in marrying her.

Yet, I think the concept goes deeper than this, and the afternoon of life does not begin at a particular age, or even stage of life. In the novel, Ray has been pursuing career success and material acquisitions, and experiences a significant change of direction. Some fairly disastrous events in his workplace precipitate the change—events that threaten not only his financial stability but the core of who he is.

Carl Jung says: “The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different.” Jung goes on to describe life’s afternoon as the time when we begin to shift away from the ego being the dominant force in our life and move toward a journey that has real meaning.

I also like the following quote: In the afternoon of your life, you don’t do life. You do what resonates with the callings of your soul.

Communication and Missed Communication

In We Bought a Zoo, Benjamin Mee (played by Matt Damon) is grieving the death of his wife. At one point he remarks that a love like his for his first wife only comes along once in a lifetime. So we ask,  What would it be like to be the second wife to someone who had loved that deeply?

On the one hand, you might think he’s capable of great love and would make a wonderful husband. On the other, you might fear trying to live up to his expectations. How can you compete with a ghost?

My heroine Joy lacks self-confidence, especially in the domestic realm. Much of the plot hinges on her failure to express her fears and Ray’s failure to articulate his feelings. Like many men, he assumes Joy knows how he feels, and she’s not secure enough to tell him that she needs to hear it from his lips.

Another complication that often arises in second or third marriages lies in the step-parent’s relationship with their spouse’s children. Ray’s stepdaughters resolve to bring Joy down, and for a time their plan seems to be working—until it backfires with dire, unforeseen consequences.

My Process

I usually create an outline of key points in a story—and often even write the key scenes—before commencing to write from the beginning. I departed from this in Joy After Noon, where I started with an idea and some character work, then let the characters take me on their journey. I look forward to hearing from my readers to see if they cheered Joy on along the way.

Purchase Link for JOY AFTER NOON:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07P7S5Y7Z/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

Contact Debra at:

A DEBT OF GRATITUDE

              After my last post, Janet Estridge wrote to tell me that about ten year ago, she and her husband toured the USS Alabama. In the gift shop, they met Colonel Glenn Frazier, a soldier on the Bataan Death March back in 1942.
              He was signing books, and Janet had her picture taken with him. Here’s a link to Colonel Frazier’s book Hell’s Guest: https://www.amazon.com/Hells-Guest-Col-Glenn-Frazier/dp/193655416X
              On the cover with his fellow soldiers, he’s the only man wearing black trousers. He told Janet that when they rousted them out of bed he grabbed the trousers closest to him–everybody else wore brown.
             Janet wrote, “When I saw your article I just had to tell you what happened to me.” I’m really grateful she took the time–it’s great to learn another tidbit about the war.
 
             Colonel Frazier died in 2017–what an honor to meet someone taken captive in Bataan in April of 1942. Survivors of the enemy camps were liberated in January of 1945, and came home to recuperate. Some lived “normal” lives, but surely their terrible ordeal never left their minds.
 
             We owe them such a debt of gratitude.  My father-in-law was eighteen during the liberation, and like most WWII veterans, he rarely spoke about his role in the Raid on Cabanatuan prison camp until later in life. I’m glad his story surfaced during the last years of his life, and that he was able to hear “Thank you for your service.”
             If you know a World War II veteran, I hope you make the most of the opportunity to chat with them. My desire is that readers of All For the Cause will experience deepening respect and appreciation for all who sacrificed.

 

 

Amazon:

Barnes & Noble
Apple iTunes
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Note: ebooks available from all retailers. paperback available now from Amazon, available for pre-order from BN.com. Hardback available for pre-order at all retailers.

All For The Cause

Seventy-seven years ago today, what occurred in the World War II timeline?  April 9, 1942…am I referring to something in Europe or possibly North Africa? 

No, this day marks the fall of Bataan to the Imperial Japanese forces in the South Pacific. In general, we seem to know far less about the surrender of the Philippines than about other dire situations in World War II history.

But my new novel ALL FOR THE CAUSE will hopefully increase understanding of this war theater. Why? Because the fall of Bataan–and of Corregidor about a month later–affected so many Americans.

Tens of thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses stationed in the Philippines left worried families back home. And when the news of the Allied loss hit the airwaves, those families’ worst fears increased.

Had their loved ones survived the horrific bombing that led to this surrender? Would the troops now be taken to prison camps? What would become of them…and when could the families hope for word? 

ALL FOR THE CAUSE introduces Private Stan Ford, a Wisconsin native who signed up with the National Guard and arrived in the Philippines before the Pearl Harbor attack that ignited the U.S. declaration of war on Japan. Because of the press surrounded that horrific attack, what occurred in the Philippines might be lost in the shadows. 

But our troops stranded on the island of Corregidor endured intense deprivation and trauma. Those who survived the battle may or may not have lived through the terrible march up the mountains to a Japanese prison camp–the Bataan Death March. 

At the encouragement of his Captain, Stan chose to flee to the mountains to join guerrillas fighting the enemy until General MacArthur returned to liberate the islands. But what he observed on the way–captured American prisoners on the impossible trek to a remote POW camp–imprinted in his mind forever. 

Back in the States, Twila Brunner seeks to contribute to the war effort and discovers a possibility reported in the local newspaper. Who would ever have imagined a prisoner of war camp built in the middle of an Iowa cornfield to house Nazi captives? In accepting a position at the camp, Twila finds far more than she ever could have dreamed.

When Stan is forced to return to the States, his journey intersects with Twila’s. All he wants is to return to liberate his comrades on Bataan, and he puts every effort into making this happen. But sometimes, unexpected joys lie along the path of duty.

Here’s the new cover!

 

And here’s the purchase link:

Amazon:

Barnes & Noble
Apple iTunes

Available in e-book, paperback, and hardback from WordCrafts Press.

 I hope you enjoy this story and hold dear the men and women who gave their ALL FOR THE CAUSE – and please leave a review on Amazon if you do.

 

 

 

Kay Di Bianca – RUN TO WRITE

Kay DiBianca, a former software developer and IT manager. has run four marathons, fifteen or so half-marathons, and lots of shorter races. OK, YOU GOT OUR ATTENTION!!! Kay is retired and lives in Tennessee with her husband, Frank. Now, she’s writing fiction, and she shares with us the connection between her new vocation and her running.  AND she’s giving away a signed paperback of her novel,

 

If I could give you one simple thing to enhance your creativity and improve your writing, would you be interested? Good. I thought so. I’ll get to that in a minute.

But first, let me introduce myself. I’m a runner, but not a fast one. I’ve spent decades jogging on trails, at the track, or on my treadmill, and I usually listen to podcasts or audio books when I’m running outside.

A few years ago, I found myself making up stories of my own as I was exercising. One of those stories was so persistent in occupying my running time that I decided to write it down just so it would stop bothering me. That story turned out to be my first novel, The Watch on the Fencepost, recently released by CrossLink Publishing.

As I was busy working on the book, I began to wonder if the very act of running was somehow related to my desire to write a novel. We’ve all heard of the benefits of aerobic exercise to strengthen our bodies and reduce stress, but could it do more?

Recent studies reveal some surprising results.According to a 2016 online article in Quartzby neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki, exercise encourages the growth of cells in the hippocampus area of the brain. And research has shown the hippocampus is important in enhancing long term memory and even possibly – listen to this, writers – creativity. Dr. Suzuki writes that “… this discovery suggests that exercise might be able to improve the imaginative functions of the hippocampus …”

But there’s more. An article in the August 2018 issue of Runner’s World magazine states, “Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and a host of other unpleasant conditions. What’s more, scientists have shown that running also vastly improves the quality of your emotional and mental life. It even helps you live longer.”

Physical exercise isn’t always fun, and we should definitely seek our doctor’s advice before starting a new exercise regime, but the benefits are so enormous, we can’t afford to ignore them. We can live longer, happier, healthier lives and be more creative if we do just one simple thing: Run — or jog — or walk — or do some kind of exercise to get our brains moving along with our bodies.

Be strong and write well!

Visit Kay at kaydibianca.com.

 

GRACE AND LAVENDER

I’m pleased to welcome debut author Heather Smith, who will describe her first novel for us. As you read on, you’ll see she’s offering a giveaway to a commenter, with a little twist. And I have to say, Heather, I love the sight and scent of lavender, so your cover is beautiful!

My debut novel Grace & Lavender has many themes, and I’m excited for readers to see how they all fit together. I’d love to know which ones appeal to you!

Cooking

My main character is an excellent cook. She’s even written a cookbook, which makes her a bit of a celebrity in her small town. It’s the love of cooking that helps Colleen first connect with a teenage orphan named Grace.

I’m not much of a cook, but I do okay keeping my husband and three children fed. I enjoyed coming up with the dishes that Colleen and Grace make together in the story.

Foster care/adoption

This is one of the most important “take-away” themes of my book. Through my characters’ stories, I want to encourage readers to consider making foster care and adoption part of their stories, too.

My family was licensed as a foster family in October 2018, and we are currently waiting on our first placement.  I look forward to seeing how God grows our family through foster care, and possibly adoption, in the future.

Soap making

The art of making soap plays a big role in my story. It was so fun to research the craft. There were lots of methods to learn about—hot process, cold process, melt and pour, glycerin—and I’ve considered trying it, if I ever take a break from writing.

The meaning of names

Throughout Grace & Lavender, we see that Colleen Hill places a lot of value on having a good name—a name that has meaning. That makes her the perfect person to explain to Grace what her name really means. But it’s both Colleen and her daughter Melody who are eventually able to demonstrate that meaning for her.

Purpose and possibilities

Colleen and Melody both seek to live out God’s purpose for their lives, though they go about it in very different ways. But they both discover unexpected possibilities through faith in these verses:

  • In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:6
  • And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

As I think about the themes of Grace & Lavender, I think about my life. When all is said and done, may this be my theme: “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2

What’s your life’s theme?

 Thanks so much Heather – readers, please include your life’s theme in your comment, which qualifies you to win the free copy of Grace and Lavender Heather is giving away this week. .

 
Here are my contact links:

Can You See It?

I’ve learned about something new. My Iowa friend Jill came over to help dig out my water pipe after we had 36 inches of snow, and pointed out the BLUE SNOW she saw everywhere. At first I couldn’t share her excitement, because I didn’t know where to look.

But then, viola! Between the crevasses and cracks, it’s everywhere. With all the melting going on, there’s not so much now, but this morning I took some photos. Can you see it here?

Or here, even though these are just cell phone photos?

 

For me, this is a new phenomenon, and of course, scientists have an explanation:

As with water, this color is caused by the absorption of both red and yellow light, which leaves light at the blue end of the visible spectrum. When this light travels into snow or ice, the ice grains scatter a large amount of light.

Cool! Even in the midst of a massive snowfall, we can find something intriguing and (for me, anyway) exciting. Having lived in snow country my whole life, I have to wonder why I never saw this before. Maybe it’s because of the altitude here?

Whatever the reason, there it is. And like my friend asked me the other day, CAN YOU SEE IT? becomes the big question.

This question figures in many of the novels we read. The reader sees something the characters don’t, or vice-versa. In a mystery, we seldom see the whole picture until the end.

In the process of publication, things sometimes change. I should let you know that the release date for All For The Cause, in which the heroine and hero navigate many World War II questions, has been changed. You can now expect it to surface into the big, wide world in late March or early April.

In the meantime, keep your eye out for blue snow and the like!

And since few of my blogs are complete without a photo from Lance, here you go…see the blue?

LIV AND BREATHE

Misty Simon is our guest…a mystery writer for a change! She’s introducing her new novel, LIV AND BREATHE, and offering one free copy to a commenter.

Hello, blog readers!

When I think of things I’m thankful for, I can honestly say that the number is huge and I don’t really know where to start. But I’ll try…

I’m so thankful for the community of readers and authors I am a part of. The boosting, the love, the support and the friendships I have formed are such a huge part of my every day world. I adore the people I have met through writing and the chance to celebrate other people’s successes with them. To be on this journey with such amazing men and women makes the ride so much more than I thought it could be. There are tears of joy and sadness, laughing at the small things and in the face of the scary ones. Coming together to make the world a better place one page at a time, one reader at a time.

Life can knock you down but in the end it’s up to you what you do with that setback. Sometimes you just have to find the right perspective and make it into a positive.

Here’s my philosophy:

There will be a silver lining, even if you have to draw it with your own crayon!

Misty Simon…Knows Whodunnit

www.mistysimon.com

On that note I was very keen to write Liv and Breathe. It’s a story I started about sixteen years ago when my then two year old was taking a bath. I wanted to write a woman who had nothing when she was little and ended up with everything she wanted but with some strings attached that she couldn’t avoid. And when those strings got pulled what would she do to save her dream, her oasis, and the life she’d created from the ashes of the past?

And so Liv came to life. She’s feisty and smart and driven. But I had to put her up against someone who had those same qualities to challenge her and make her think and perhaps see that compromise or even just embracing what has happened instead of trying to force what you want to happen can make all the difference. I think Alex is up to the challenge and hope you will enjoy the journey they take together to make a life together out of the broken pieces they’ve been handed.

www.mistysimon.com

https://www.facebook.com/misty.simon.18

Buy Link: https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/paperback-books/6488-liv-and-breathe-paperback.html

 

Mothers In Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms

Usually we welcome fiction authors, but non-fiction authors Crystal and Meghann Bowman offer so much to many women in this new publication. I can attest to the beauty of these heartfelt stories and the hope they offer. The authors have agreed  give away one copy of this book, published by Harvest House, so please leave a comment.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 percent of women in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. That’s about 6.1 million women whose bodies work a little differently when it comes to having a baby. When infertility rules a woman’s life, the downward spiral begins.

Everyday experiences become painful reminders. She stays home from church on Mother’s Day, and she cringes when she receives another baby shower invitation. It also takes a toll on her marriage as making loves turns into making babies.

This is how my daughter-in-law Meghann felt for more than 5 long years. Besides wondering what was wrong with her body–and why she couldn’t do the one thing that a woman’s body is supposed to do—she felt alone. Surrounded by pregnant friends and happy baby announcements, she struggled with feelings of inferiority and sadness.

After several exhausting years, Meghann finally became pregnant and is currently the mother of two healthy little ones. Her desire is to offer hope and encouragement to other women who are walking that lonely path. She wanted to write a book and came to me for help.

Since her story is only one woman’s story, I had an idea: what if we collected stories from 30 women so we could have a wide variety of stories? Meghann said “Yes!” and the project began.

I thought it would be difficult to find 30 women to share their stories, but God brought them to me one after the other. It seemed no matter where I went, I met women who wanted to share their stories. Women of all ages, all ethnicities, and all walks of life offered their stories of infertility, surgeries, miscarriage, adoption, IVF failures and successes, as well as finding peace in being childless.

The result is a beautiful new book titled Mothers In Waiting–Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms.

 

Each story follows the same format: My Story; My Struggle, My Strength, and My Scripture. Each story is told through the voice of the contributor—honest, real, and heartfelt. There are no easy answers or simple solutions offered. But readers with aching hearts will find hope and encouragement from women who want to walk beside them, identify with their pain, and point them to God.

You can find this encouraging book here: https://www.harvesthousepublishers.com/books/mothers-in-waiting-9780736975360