Saturday, November 30, 2013

Leftover Thanks

by Tamera Lynn Kraft
I’m still enjoying leftovers from Thanksgiving. They’re stacked in containers in my refrigerator ready to warm up after a day of putting up the Christmas tree, shopping for presents, or addressing my Christmas cards. Thanksgiving leftovers are wonderful during this busy holiday season.
Many times, though, there’s something else leftover from Thanksgiving Day. We spend so much time emphasizing how thankful we should be to God for the many blessings He has given us. And we should. But after Thanksgiving, the hustle and bustle of getting ready for Christmas rushes in, and we forget about thanking God. Or we give Him leftover thanks after an exhausting day of errands. We forget that it was because of His greatest blessing, sending Jesus to Earth to die on the cross so that we could be saved that we celebrate this time of the year.
While I’m busy with my preparations, I never want to get so caught up in everything that God gets only my leftover thanks. Thanksgiving should take place throughout the year, not just on Thanksgiving Day.

A Christmas Promise
By Tamera Lynn Kraft
A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day. 

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

Available at these online stores:

TAMERA LYNN KRAFT has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio.
Tamera is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She has curriculum published and is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.
You can contact Tamera online at these sites:
Word Sharpeners Blog:
Revival Fire For Kids Blog:
Adventures in American History:
Will you be home for Christmas, or is that only in your dreams? Naomi Musch (that's me!) is talking about life's uncertainties and Coming Home on Word Sharpeners today. Hop over for some words of encouragement!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving, Venison, and Writing

Thank you, Lord, for White Tail Deer! Thanksgiving celebrations may vary from home to home, but here in Wisconsin, the holiday lands smack dab in the middle of deer hunting season. That means many of us don't spend the day lounging and dining, but bundled to the hilt, stalking through the forest in pursuit of the elusive monarch of the forest, the white-tailed deer.

One of my hunters, son Beau

In our household, like so many others around the state, besides family and friends filling the house, and mountains of pies crowding the counter tops, there are also piles of blaze orange strewn everywhere! Dinner isn’t served until an hour and a half past dark, giving time for all the hunters to come in from the cold and tell their tales as they gather around the wood fire to thaw out. We LOVE it!

This is how I grew up. I couldn't imagine spending Thanksgiving any other way. Then throughout the year to follow, we thank the Lord for the good meat filling our freezer and canning jars if we are so blessed.

Hunting sometimes works its way into my books. It's one of the ways in which the writerly adage of "writing what you know" eeks out of me. I love to write about the outdoors and to help readers experience the smell of fauna or the sound of a deer crunching with delicate steps through the frozen leaf floor of the forest. I love to thrill them with the sound of soft wings as a grouse flushes and arcs through the tree tops. I love the way a chickadee will land on a branch near your head and converse, or even the pestering of a noisy squirrel chattering warnings in the woods.

There's a short, romantic hunting scene near the end of this story. YES, hunting can be very romantic! My proof is one of those writing-what-I-know incidences *eyebrow-wiggle*.

I don't like how cold I get sitting in a deer stand some mornings, but it's always a challenge and a chance to get alone with God and to let my imagination take flight.

How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving? With football and board games, or are you a family of hunters too? Whatever you do, I hope you have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving!

Write on!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wounded Writing

So you want to be a writer? Be careful what you wish for. The best writing often comes from wounded places. 
C.S Lewis said, "If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity." 
Was he really suggesting people shouldn't come to faith in Christ? No, he was pointing out that God would not act as a fairy godfather, but he would refine them if they gave themselves to him. If you want to be a writer, expect more of the same discomfort, because God will ask you to use your pen to minister grace through the experience of your own struggles.

I don't believe God is the author of pain, death, sorrow, heartache, fear, rejection, illness, or loss... Those things came from Satan when he introduced us to sin way back in Eden. 
Because we live in this fallen world, we experience them. I do believe God allows his children to experience them in a different way, a way that will glorify Him if we surrender our wills and let him use those things that come our way to build our personal "character arc".

So what does this have to do with being a writer? As writers we spend a lot of our time learning to "live" in our characters' skins. We feel for them and speak for them. How much better do we understand them if we have been through what they're going through or something like it. It's one thing to write about the death of a child. It's another to have experienced the bone-aching agony of losing a loved one, and then eventually writing those feelings into the hearts of characters. Writing about infidelity, abandonment, cancer, rebellion -- and their counterparts -- faithfulness, loyalty, recovery, humility -- are better understood if we have stood on one end and walked to the other of those things. God allows us to feel the deep, wrenching level of pain those things bring so that we can write with greater understanding and empathy for those who experience them. He brings us through them so that we can write truthfully about faith and hope. Even if we are writing about fictional lives, understanding agony at that gut level can help even "characters" bring a path of healing to someone who reads their story.

Writing is another way of acting out 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

I've been comforted through the expertise of other fiction writers. Have you? What must they have experienced to help me so connect to their words?

Another C.S. Lewis quote if you don't mind:
"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." 

If God allows you to walk the path of grief, you understand what that feeling he describes -- a feeling you can show in your stories. You can imbue your writing with a truer understanding.

Grief, pain, and heartache have a magnetic power to suck us into very dark places which seem to hold no escape. Why let those experiences exist solely as painful memories? If we desire to write, we have an obligation to use the character arc of our lives to tell stories that resonate, that have the power to supply healing and grace to the glory of God.

Write on.

Monday, November 4, 2013

What?! There are Novel-Writing Rules?

I'm enjoying NaNoWrito even though  I'm having a tough time staying on task. But today I saw a thread discussion on rule breaking. What? There are rules?

I've learned though, that with NaNo, most rules are self-imposed. In the rest of the novel-writing world, however, there are real rules, but even when it comes to those, I'm reminded of a sentence my dad helped me construct during a third grade spelling homework assignment: Rules are made to be broken. Not original, but I liked it in third grade. It resonated with me even though my teacher put a big red question mark next to it -- or was it a frowny face? Hmm...

We study our craft to learn the art form and the rules. Publishers have rules. Good communication follows rules. Story form follows rules. We don't start to bend or break those rules until we have conquered story and voice and form. That might take years. For some of us, rule-breaking might never become acceptable. So if you're going to be a rebel, you'd better check yourself and decide if you're ready for the backlash. Breaking rules is an art form in itself.

On the other hand, self imposed rules such as don't edit or cut anything until your first draft is finished or don't write fully fleshed scenes out of order are self-imposed rules specific to individual writers' styles. You don't have to be constrained by such orders. The way one person writes can vary greatly from the way another writes. Just jump into the age-old debate of whether Plotting or Pantsing is better (following an outline or writing by the seat of your pants). Some writers go back and edit the previous day's writing before starting on the new day's. Others only go back to check a few details before moving on.

Experimental writing, on the other hand, is by definition rule-breaking. Take those books where no quote marks are used in dialogue for instance, or those stories that use run on sentences in a first person, sort of in-your-face-rushing-past fashion. Now we have people telling us they rue the oxford comma. Oh, the shock!

There are some who can break rules, and some who shouldn't. Even good writers shouldn't always try to break out quite that way. Anyway, have fun with it. That's what I say. (And you know what an authority I -- haha!)

Get your novel written, one way or another. Fix it or don't as you go along. One way or another tie up the loose ends. Make it clean. No -- make it shine.

Write on!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Dress Up the Holidays in Your Written World

What are you doing to dress up the holidays in your written world? Are you working on a special Christmas book release? Hopping along on a holiday blog tour? Are you entering a few contests to try and win some swag that will fill your own tank of inspiration? Are you joining or starting a holiday book club? Will you be writing letters to family and friends or putting out a special holiday newsletter?
What about articles? Do you write for regular periodicals, and if so, will you be sharing something special to help readers think about the true meaning and blessings of Thanksgiving or Christmas? Are you going to re-design your blog? Are you unwrapping ideas for a new novel?

Okay... enough of the questions. The point here is the approaching holidays are a great time to think about our writing in new ways. I'm not talking big changes or resolutions like we might focus on as we bring in the New Year, though we could include those, but just a way to keep ourselves inspired and fresh, and at the same time encourage one another. Let's brighten each others' holidays with a little bit of written cheer, shall we?
I might simply change up the wallpaper on my blog for starters. What are some of your ideas?

Write on!

Monday, October 14, 2013

To NaNo, or Not to Nano? Thoughts on Accountability and National Novel Writing Month

To NaNo, or not to NaNo, that is the question. To be honest, I have deep, personal issues with accountability. I try to hold myself accountable a lot, but without outside assistance. Yes, my way is ripe for failure, or at least a lot of self-incrimination, but I consider myself fairly self-disciplined in most areas. (Just don't let's talk about dieting.) Inviting others to be aware of my accountability is something I just rather dread.

I have done the "NaNo thing" without signing up. I have used it as a guide to starting or completing projects. In fact, my latest book Paint Me Althena which just released last August, is the result of a busy November 2011. But to log in, sign on, tell the world, "I'm going to do this!" sends shivers up my noncommittal spine.

So, back to my question. To NaNo or not to Nano? Well, I did it. I braced myself, logged into the site, and filed my name among the scads of others out there to do the work. I even joined two Facebook groups to sink myself into committal a little deeper.

Now comes the decision on the project I'll write. I have two in mind. You know, you're supposed to start NaNo from scratch. I admit cheating a little here. Both novels I'm dipping into will be well over 50,000 words at their conclusions, so my goal is to log in those 50,000. This will still require a lot of further plotting and fleshing on my part, so I don't feel like it's much of a cheat. My biggest problem now is to decide which one to focus on.

November is
National Novel Writing Month.
In 30 days, 50,000 words is a novel.
Can you do it?


How about you? Are you "committing" this year? Have you done NaNoWriMo in the past? What do you think of National Novel Writing Month? I'd love to hear of your successes, failures, and future plans.

Write on!
Desert Breeze Publishing has lowered all their ebook prices, even on new releases.
Paint Me Althena is now only $3.99.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Grace Awards Showcase (& Book Drawing) ~ Celtic Knot by Tammy Doherty

Here's a book on my to-be-read list, a suspenseful, romantic, western historical by Tammy Doherty set around the time of the Civil War. Celtic Knot is the third and final book in her series. Please enjoy the following excerpt and character interview, and if you hop on over to Tammy's own blog (link at the bottom) and leave a comment there, you'll be entered in a drawing for a free copy of the book!

About CELTIC KNOT by Tammy Doherty

When widow Abby Finnegan meets ranch hand Kyle Lachapelle, she figures he’s as deceitful as her family. But Kyle is a Secret Service operative working undercover, and Abby has a disturbing connection to his counterfeiting case. Abby’s protecting her heart while Kyle can’t afford the feelings stirring in his. Love is out of the question…or is it the answer? 


“Look, mister,” Boone stood toe to toe with Kyle, their eyes level with one another. “I’m the law in these here parts an’ it’s my job to know about newcomers to town. An’ I ain’t partial to your wiseacre answers.”

“Well, I guess that makes us even, ‘cause I’m not partial to your lewd, nosy attitude.” Kyle held Boone’s gaze, as if daring the other man to make something of his answer.

Boone stared back, unblinking. He wouldn't back down from a stare-off. Most cowpunchers either worked for Raymond Bigelow or were just passing through Prophecy. Bigelow hands generally knew their place when it came to Boone Warren. Rambling men were naturally intimidated by Boone’s large size and the way he carried himself. This man was quite obviously not intimidated or impressed.
Tension thickened the air as each man waited for the other to back down. Abby noticed that while Boone’s gun rested in its customary place at his hip, the stranger was unarmed. If Lachapelle noted this fact he made no sign that it mattered. And though she well knew how apt Boone was with his fists, she began to wonder if perhaps this newcomer might be able to best him in a fight. She wasn’t willing to find out the answers to any of these questions.

“That’s enough,” she scolded sharply. “I’ll not have such a show of childish violence in front of my daughter.”

Even the sharpness in her voice did not break the staring match. Abby frowned and forced herself between the two men, shoving Boone backwards. He broke eye contact with Lachapelle and turned his gaze to her.

“I’m ashamed of you, Boone Warren.” Her voice was quiet, yet forceful. “You really must learn your manners.”

He dipped his head as if apologizing, but only to Abby and only for a moment. His anger was barely veiled as he looked again at Lachapelle. “Make sure you're on your best behavior when in my town. I don’t tolerate any hooliganism. Understood?”

Character Interview

Today I have the pleasure of chatting with Millie Finnigan. Millie's mother, Abby Finnigan, is the heroine of CELTIC KNOT.

Welcome, Millie. Have a cookie and tell us a little about yourself.
Millie grabs a cookie but waits to eat it. 
Hi, I'm excited to be here today. Let's see, I'm seven years old and I live with my mother in Prophecy, Colorado." She takes a bite of cookie, not talking again until she's finished chewing. "My real name is Millicent but Momma only calls me that when she's cross. I try not to make her angry 'cause she works real hard and hardly ever smiles. Momma has a pretty smile but sometimes her eyes seem to look far away and her face gets sad.

Why do you think she's sad?

It's as if she's looking at a photograph in her memory." Millie fidgets with her dress, dropping her gaze a moment before continuing. "Remembering Daddy, I think. He died when I was four. That's when we moved back to Prophecy. Momma says that Daddy called me his little blessing. I don't hardly remember him. Sometimes that makes me sad.

What makes you happy?

A smile brightens Millie's countenance. 
Playing with my best friend, Jennifer Stanton. Her pa is the town preacher an' her folks are real nice. They always treat me like family. Pastor and Mrs. Stanton worry about Momma an' me, 'cause we don't always have money for nice things. But Momma takes real good care of me.

Doesn't your grandfather own the largest ranch around Prophecy? In fact, he owns most of the town. Why doesn't your mother ask him for help?

Millie shrugs. 
Momma's family isn't very nice. I've never even met my grandfather. Once, I heard someone say that Raymond Bigelow, that's Momma's father, is so mean an d contrary he makes Satan look angelic. All's I know is my uncle Clayton is scary. He says things like teaching the whelp proper respect. That's what he calls me, the whelp
Millie shudders. 
I don't like him.

I'm sure your mother stays away from Clayton, then.

We try but Momma works at the Silver Streak Saloon, as a maid. Uncle Clayton goes there a lot and he looks for Momma. He likes being mean, an' not just to her. I can't understand why Boone is friends with him.

Who is Boone?

He's our sheriff. Boone's real nice. He always wants to buy me stuff but Momma won't let him. She says she don't want to be beholden to him." Millie scrunches her nose. "Not sure what that means. I do know Boone wants to marry Momma. He might be a nice daddy. Still, I want Momma to be happy. She never smiles for Boone, least ways, not the kind of smile she gets when Mr. Lachapelle is around.

Kyle Lachapelle? When did you meet him?

He came into the mercantile one morning when Momma was buying supplies an' things." Millie leans forward to whisper, "He likes lemon candies just like me." She sits back in the chair, speaking in her normal voice once more. "An' he stood up to Boone, didn't let anyone push him around. Later, he walked with Momma and me and he was a real gentleman. I hope he comes around more, 'cept Momma told him she don't want to be his friend. I hope she changes her mind.

I sure hope so, too. Millie, it's been a joy having you here today. Do take one of those lemon candies from the jar for later. Yes, you may take one for Jennifer as well. Thank you for visiting.

~ Purchase Links: Amazon 

About the Author

Tammy Doherty lives on a small farm in central Massachusetts with her husband and two children. A veterinary technician by training, she works for a veterinary supply distributor as well as working on the family perennial farm. Tammy is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a Grace Awards board member. Her three historical Christian romance novels, Celtic Cross, Claddaugh and Celtic Knot, are available in print and as eBooks. Currently she is working on contemporary romantic suspense. Visit Tammy on Facebook at, or  on her blog The Mystique of Naultag 

Don't forget to drop by Tammy's blog at the link right above
to enter the drawing for a free book!