Monday, March 12, 2018

Eliminating Distance by Cutting Out the Filters

I recently read about eliminating distance in writing by cutting out filter words and was able to create an analogy to answer a spiritual question.
Try to follow me.

Filter words create distance between the reader and the story and pull the reader out of a deep emotional experience. By cutting filter words, the reader is drawn into the story and holds on to a meaningful connection with the character.

So, jumping back to the spiritual. Here’s the question. How can we repair the breach between God and us?

How did I use eliminating distance by cutting out filter words as an example to answer this question?

I’ll start by saying, “Don’t put distance between yourself and God. Cut out all the filters.”
How do we do that?

In literature, I often see writers use modals. For instance.

I could hear God.

Usually, the sentence is written this way when a character is in a hazy state or is about to pass out. They can hear but can’t see, and writers like to make sure the readers know it.
But the modal can or could is not necessary.
Let’s go a step farther.

I heard God.

You still might not be able to see God, but you definitely hear Him. But why use the filter word? Heard is passive, creating distance once again between the reader and the story.
So what’s next?
Try writing it this way.

God speaks to me.

The writer has cut out the filter word. The sentence is active. God speaking to the character is a sure thing. It’s written in a powerful way.

So we go from hazily hearing God to hearing Him to acknowledging that He speaks to us.

Let’s pretend the filter words are a metaphor for something in our lives that creates distance between God and us. What can we cut out to restore or strengthen the relationship? What in our lives bogs us down, only letting us vaguely hear promptings? What blocks the connection between Deity and us? What keeps us from drawing closer to God and having a deep abiding trust in Him? How can we have an active relationship with God?

The first step is acknowledging the things we need to do to repair the breach, whatever it may be. And then act. If we do these things and ponder the above questions, we can have a greater relationship with our Father in Heaven.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Exceptional Series Reviews: The Watchmen Saga

So this year, I’m doing something different with my reading. Usually, ever since I’ve had my handy kindle app, I’ve downloaded free novels from indie authors. I’d read the novel and leave a review, to help out an indie author. But this year, I’m going to tackle whole series. If the first novel merits five stars, in my opinion, then I’ll buy the next. I decided to start with the oldest novels on my kindle, books I’ve downloaded as long as three years ago. My goal is also to clean the books off my kindle app as I go. I give every novel 10 pages or so to hook me. If it doesn’t, goodbye. Right now I have 282 books on my kindle app. Let’s see how well I do this year.

I’m also going to review the series I read that I think other readers would enjoy.

So without further ado, here’s the first series that took me most of February to finish.

The Watchmen Saga by Kathleen C. Perrin. The Keys of the Watchmen, The Sword of the Maiden, and The Secret of the Abbey. I’d have to say this series could be described as a history of the Mont Saint Michel and it’s abbey, along with some pivotal moments in French history, plus, deep historic Christian religious controversy disguised as an epic time travel adventure with two heroes who are willing to put their love on hold to save the world. Each novel covers an epic moment in the mount’s/French history. The first novel thwarts a siege on the mount, the second novel involves Joan of Arc (which was pretty cool), and the third novel dives into the history surrounding Catherine de' Medici and the protestant and catholic conflicts. It is all really cool.

Now here’s the clincher. The author dives into long passages of history. But this didn’t make me put the novel down. Why? Because I was so into the fictional story of the two characters, Katelyn Michaels and Nicolas le Breton. I have not read a more awesome time travel adventure.
So what to do about the deep history? It depends on the type of reader you are. I knew what parts to skim and what parts were pertinent to the story. Unfortunately, each novel does become longer on the history. Just skim it. That’s my best advice. Truly, what I would like to see is an abridged version of all the novels. But like I said—this is an excellent story. Check out my reviews below.

And just a note. Check out the Look Inside on Amazon to see if these novels are truly for you. Reading the sample will give you an idea of the author’s writing style. And don’t be thrown by the prologue of book one. That’s just a cool POV from Eve’s perspective. Keep reading all of the sample to be sure you’re hooked.

This novel is exceptional!

I have never read such an amazing novel. The way the author wove in history with fiction was simply outstanding. The story was gripping. The characters, amazing. As the action unfolded, the story just kept getting better and better.

While this is a Christian read, with quoted scripture and reference to things that happen in the Bible, the details only added to the story. I was fully immersed. Katelyn did some unbelievable things, but the author wove it so that she was guided by the archangel Michael himself. So if you can believe the power of spiritual promptings, then you can believe the unbelievable in this story.

A few parts of the story were repetitive in that something would happen in one point of view and then it would be recounted in another point of view. A lot of history is laid down in the beginning. If you can get through it, the story is well worth the read. I would rate this novel 4.5 stars because of the slow parts, but I rounded up to5 because it means I plan to read more in the series.

Note. A few grammar and proofreading issues, even some formatting that’s wonky.

Reader Rated for ages 14+ for mild violence and language.

This is an exceptional novel!

Like with the first novel, this one does not disappoint. I can’t express how much I enjoyed this story. Just know, it left me with a deep ache because I had been so immersed in the story. Once it was over, I was left empty. I will most definitely need to read the next one for more Katelyn and Nicolas.

As with the first story, and even more so in this one, the reader is immersed in deep history. Many passages are so long and heavy, I did skim over them. But whenever action happened, I was sure not to miss it. The last quarter of the novel was intense. I was moved extremely by Katelyn’s plight. And poor Nicolas! It’s amazing how the author invented the fictional story to go along with the real adventures of Joan of Arc. And I was intrigued by the author’s descriptions of Katelyn’s technology use in the past and how she made everything work while keeping her secret of being from the future.

Reader Rated for ages 14+ for mild torture and mild violence.

You’ll still want to read this one...

I cannot tell you how much I love and hate this series at the same time! The fictional story is artful and emotional. Truly brilliant. But the historical information is just too much. I did enjoy this period of history in that I recognized many of the names, such as Catherine de' Medici, from the hit TV show Reign. That certainly helped a lot and pulled me into the story. But alas, I did skim most of the historical info. I would LOVE to see an abridged version of this novel and the two prior ones, with just the fictional story and an abbreviated history. Pull together every scene with Katelyn and Nicolas and all the ACTION—then this would be an unstoppable series. But, I must say, history buffs will love this and those wanting to learn about the history of the mount will love this regardless.

And just when you think the story is too bogged down by historical information, the action starts again and it is brilliant. Hang in there, especially past the lengthy beginning scenes of Katelyn’s actually getting to France. The story is a ride and is so worth it.

BUT, I love Katelyn’s love story and her adventures. All of it. From the very beginning novel to this one. I love her character. I love Nicolas. I always want more, more, more of them. Their interactions will always surprise you. That is what I felt—surprise around every turn.

Katelyn is masterful at deception. And the way she holds herself calm and is able to think through a crisis is commendable. Her poise with a minor character Paul! Oh, wow!

Unfortunately the ending drags when you just want to get to the happily ever after. The author chooses to dump all the untied ends into an hour of reading. But rest assured. No stone is left unturned and the novel comes full circle.

Reader Rated for ages 14+ for mild violence.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Succoring Us in Our Afflictions

By Lisa Rector

Part of Christ succoring us is not only giving us strength or patience to endure out infirmities, but also allowing a moment when the Spirit confirms a comforting truth that heals us emotionally and spiritually. “This is the power the Savior extends to us to succor us in our trials.” (Darren Wilcox, October 2017 Ensign) This is the power that comes to us through His atonement.

For example, we know that when our loved ones die, we don’t really lose them. They are waiting for us on the other side of the veil. But in the midst of our grief and affliction, we are often so weighed down by our sorrows that, until we receive again the confirming witness of the Spirit, re-declaring to us what we already know, our darkness won’t lift and turn to light. But as long as we put forth effort—studying and praying to God and trusting in His son, eventually that confirmation will come and bring us relief. It may come in a light-bulb moment, when darkness turns to light, after we go through our own personal Gethsemane and experience the darkness and bitterness.

I have felt the darkness turned to light. I have had my own light-bulb moment when the Spirit confirmed a spiritual truth to my soul that healed me from depression. I know there is power in the atonement to heal us. The Savior truly does succor us in our afflictions.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Student and the Slave: an Adventure Novel with a Giveaway

Take a look at this exciting new young adult action and adventure novel, The Student and the Slave, now available for purchase! This is the third book in the Krillonian Chronicles, after The Collar and the Cavvarach and The Gladiator and the Guard

The series is set in an alternate world that is very much like our own, with just a few major differences.  One is that slavery is legal there.  Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone. Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil.  It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with "have a rack"), a weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge.  Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades.  You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.

The Collar and the Cavvarach by Annie Douglass Lima
First, a Little Information about Books 1 and 2: 

Book 1: The Collar and the Cavvarach

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire's most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie's escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?

Click here to read chapter 1 of The Collar and the Cavvarach.
Click here to read about life in the Krillonian Empire, where the series is set.

The Gladiator and the Guard by Annie Douglass LimaBook 2: The Gladiator and the Guard

Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is just one victory away from freedom. But after he is accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he is condemned to the violent life and early death of a gladiator. While his loved ones seek desperately for a way to rescue him, Bensin struggles to stay alive and forge an identity in an environment designed to strip it from him. When he infuriates the authorities with his choices, he knows he is running out of time. Can he stand against the cruelty of the arena system and seize his freedom before that system crushes him?

Click here to read about life in the arena where Bensin and other gladiators are forced to live and train.

And now, The Student and the Slave, with another awesome cover by the talented Jack Lin!

Book 3: The Student and the Slave

Is this what freedom is supposed to be like? Desperate to provide for himself and his sister Ellie, Bensin searches fruitlessly for work like all the other former slaves in Tarnestra. He needs the money for an even more important purpose, though: to rescue Coach Steene, who sacrificed himself for Bensin’s freedom. When members of two rival street gangs express interest in Bensin’s martial arts skills, he realizes he may have a chance to save his father figure after all … at a cost.

Meanwhile, Steene struggles with his new life of slavery in far-away Neliria. Raymond, his young owner, seizes any opportunity to make his life miserable. But while Steene longs to escape and rejoin Bensin and Ellie, he starts to realize that Raymond needs him too. His choices will affect not only his own future, but that of everyone he cares about. Can he make the right ones … and live with the consequences?

Check out this except!

Excerpt 19
In this excerpt, Steene discovers that just being a slave is enough to place a person under suspicion.

“In a hurry to get away?” said a voice behind him. Steene turned. The two Watch officers had followed him out onto the platform. 
“I’m looking for my next train.”
“Really?” One of them gestured to the empty tracks beside them. “Unfortunately, there isn’t one handy to get you out of here at the moment. Thought you could get away from us?”
Steene stared at them, puzzled. “I didn’t even realize you were behind me. I have somewhere to go.”
“Do you?” said the other man. “You wouldn’t happen to have a pass that says you’re actually allowed to go there, would you?” Judging by his tone of voice, he was certain Steene didn’t.
“As a matter of fact.” Steene pulled it out and handed it over, irritated that they assumed he must be doing something underhanded just because he was a slave. Or perhaps because he was a slave who hadn’t been submissive enough to give up his seat the moment some free arrogant jerk demanded it.

Of course, I am doing something underhanded. I’m on my way to mail a letter talking about plans for my escape. But that wasn’t the point.

Click here to order The Student and the Slave from Amazon for $2.99 a discounted price of just 99 cents through November 31st!

About the Author:
Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published fifteen books (three YA action and adventure novels, four fantasies, a puppet script, six anthologies of her students’ poetry, and a Bible verse coloring and activity book). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.

Connect with the Author Online:
Amazon Author Page:

Now, enter to win an Amazon gift card or a free digital copy of the first two books in the series!

Books by Annie Douglass Lima:
Student poetry anthologies edited by Annie Douglass Lima:

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Music of Her Heart Blog Tour with a Giveaway!

Sophie Dawson is back with a new book! Just published on November 16th! It's all about music and a marriage forced on them by circumstances. Can Red and Gema make things work?

About the Book

 Red Dickerson is shocked to see a young woman running through the woods in the freezing rain. He’d gone to the far end of Hawk’s Wing Ranch to think after his engagement was broken by the woman he planned to marry. Recognizing her as Gema Volkovichna, one of the women from Sanctuary House, he spurs his horse to go after her. Finding she’s escaped after being kidnapped by the infamous King Gang, he vows to keep her safe. 

Gema Volkovichna is one of the newest women to come to Sanctuary House in Stones Creek, Colorado. She came to find work and possibly a husband. When a spring blizzard forces them to spend three days alone in a line shack, there’s only one conclusion. She and Red must marry to salvage her reputation.

Can Gema and Red learn to be husband and wife? Will love grow from this forced marriage? Will the King Gang return to reclaim what they lost? Can Red and Gema learn to dance together to the MUSIC of HER HEART?

About the Author

Sophie Dawson has made up stories in her head all her life. It wasn’t until 2011 that she began writing typing them out.

Her first books were all historical fiction romance. They’ve won multiple awards and garnered rave reviews. Now, Sophie has branched out into contemporary romance though she plans to continue writing historical and hopes to add more books in her popular Cottonwood and Stones Creek series.

Sophie lives with her husband and very old cat on a farm in western Illinois. She’s an avid seamstress and was a professional quilter for a number of years before the writing bug bit. She’s just thankful it’s not fatal.


Red suggests bundling

They'd finished the stew and Gema was working on the tangles in her hair. Red could tell she was still very cold. Her hands trembled as she brushed. Every so often her entire body shook, her shivering trying to warm itself.
Red was standing behind her, leaning against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest. He’d placed the bowls in a bucket of water. They could be washed in the morning.
How was he going to suggest what he knew needed to be done? He’d been in a similar circumstance before when he and several other cowboys got caught out in a blizzard. It was awkward enough with men. But with a man and a woman— That just made their situation and its outcome even more inevitable.
He was still chilly but nowhere near how cold to the very core he knew she’d gotten. That was so very hard to relieve.
Red stood and rubbed his face with his hands. No point in putting it off. Gema needed to be warmed so she didn’t succumb to lung fever. It was a real possibility. It looked as if her hair was dry. That was good. Having a wet head, everyone knew, could lead to lung fever. He moved in front of her and squatted down.
“Miss Gema? Are you any warmer now that you’re all dry?” A violent shudder jerked through her. Red took the small hand that still had the bluish cast to it in his. “Miss Gema— Gema. There’s a way to get you warm. I haven’t suggested it before because— well, you’re a woman, a single woman trapped here with me, a single man.”
She lifted her eyelids, and the pool of her deep blue eyes studied his face warily.
“It’s bundling. We share the warmth of the bed. Our body heat trapped beneath the blankets creates sort of a cocoon. My body heat will warm you.”
Gema’s eyes got wide. Shock was written on her face.
“No, Honey. We’ll both be fully clothed. You can even put on some of my trousers if you want.” He pointed to the tan canvas pants folded on a corner of the table. “And socks. I have a pair you can wear. That will help you too.” Red got up and retrieved the items.
Another shudder wracked her body as he set the garments in her lap. She needed to agree soon, or he was afraid she’d become ill.
“I—I need to— before.” Gema’s face turned bright red.
He figured out what her problem was. “Oh, yeah. I’ll just go check the animals. There’s the chamber pot.” He pointed to the corner. Grabbing his coat and hat, Red donned them and fled out the door. He’d give her plenty of time to finish her business before he returned. He’d take care of his needs too.


In honor of the Music of Her Heart Blog Tour, Sophie is giving away one print copy of Music of Her Heart along with an autographed tote bag. Also, two Kindle copies will be awarded. Winners will be notified by email – keep your eyes open for an email from Sophie Dawson. You can enter here:

Tour Schedule

November 16
Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory Post
Perpetual Indie Perspective – Book Spotlight

November 17
Reveries Reviews – Review
God's Peculiar Treasure Rae – Book Spotlight

November 18
Peggy's Hope 4 U – Author Interview
Little Bits Blog – Excerpt

November 19

November 20
Shout out – Book Spotlight
Bookish Orchestrations – Winner Announcement

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Christmas Comes Early: An 8 Book Blog Tour

Christmas tour

Christmas time is here! Okay, so not quite yet. It's still over a month away, but that doesn't mean we can't start celebrating early, right? So today, we're celebrating the release of not one, not four, but eight new Christmas books! All written by Rebekah A. Morris. I'll be spotlighting two of her books today and you can find out more about the others as you follow the tour.

About the Books

The Christmas She Wanted

She gave a sigh. “You know, I wish we could have a real Christmas for a change.

Christmas had lost its charm and wonder. Mrs. Rush hated the feeling but was powerless to fix things. Traveling to visit relatives for the holidays, the Rush children pass the time with their eyes glued to the screens of their devices. That is, until the flashing lights of a State Highway Patrol car bring their trip to a sudden and unplanned-for stop.

A Christmas Disaster

“Whew!” Derek sighed. “There’s no way I want to be an actor now! It’s hard enough running backstage.”

As the students of Coolidge High School prepare for their annual Christmas play, excitement mounts. Performed at the local theater, the play, with the students in complete charge of, the performances has become a tradition in town. Everything is going well until the morning of the final performance when calamity hits. Should the students cancel the final performance or try to turn the disaster into something good?

About the Author

Rebekah A. Morris is a homeschool graduate, an enthusiastic freelance author and a passionate writing teacher. Her books include, among others, Home Fires of the Great War, The Unexpected Request, Gift from the Storm, and her bestselling Triple Creek Ranch series. Some of her favorite pastimes, when she isn't’ writing, include reading and coming up with dramatic and original things to do. The Show-Me state is where she calls home.

Tour Schedule

November 13
Bookish Orchestrations – Introductory Post
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Kaylee's Kind of Writes – Book Spotlight
Resting Life – Review and Excerpt
Perry Elisabeth – Excerpt
Rachel Rossano's Words – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 14
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Odelia's Blog – Author Interview and Book spotlight
Bryce’s Creative Writing Corner – Author Interview, Review, and Excerpt
Counting Your Blessings One by One – Review and Excerpt
Perpetual Indie Perspective – Book Spotlight

November 15
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Whimsical Writings for His Glory – Author, Review, and Excerpt
Maidens for Modesty – Author Interview and Review
The Destiny of One – Book Spotlight
Rebekah Ashleigh – Book Spotlight
Stephany's BLOG Snippets – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 16
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Laurel's Leaves – Author Interview
Stories by Firefly – Review
Claire Banschbach – Author Interview
Kelsey's Notebook – Review and Excerpt
Jaye L. Knight – Book Spotlight and Excerpt

November 17
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight from the author
Ruffles and Grace – Book Spotlight
With a Joyful Noise – Book Spotlight
Bookish Orchestrations – Closing Post

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Canary: Artificial Fragrances and Environmental Toxins: Are They Making You Sick?

Canaries are vulnerable and highly sensitive to toxins, making them useful as early detectors of toxic gases. Because of this, miners would take them underground. If a canary became sick or died in the mine, the miners knew to put on protective respirators or to get out of there.

I know you've seen this in movies.

The reality is toxic gases aren’t just underground.

You may have heard of fragrance allergies or sensitivities. You may have friends who declare they get headaches from smells. That’s because something in the environment is toxic and is reacting with their system.

Don’t just ignore them or brush their symptoms off. They are one of the unlucky few that are cueing the rest of the world to how toxic it really is. They are real life canaries.

Are we listening to the canaries?

Take it from a real life canary who is highly sensitive. Every synthetic fragrance makes me sick. This canary is ill on a regular basis and is “sick” of it.

I had a recent exposure to some sort of fragrance. The following is a simple timeline after exposure. At the time, I didn’t connect my symptoms with the cause. Only when I was standing right next to the source and my symptoms dramatically became worse did I realize what the cause was.

My first clue should have been the ringing in my ears.

Within five minutes after entering the area, while waiting for guests to arrive, I said, “Whoa, my ears are ringing. That’s weird.”

Within fifteen to twenty minutes, I had a blotchy circular rainbow-colored patch in my vision.

Five minutes later, the blotchy circle shifted to a wavy rainbow of color diagonally across one-third of my vision. Reading because difficult. Concentration was impossible. I couldn’t focus on anything anyone was saying.

At this point I was worried I was having a stroke. I was prepared to interrupt the goings-on and have someone call 911. But my speech wasn’t garbled. So instead I sat there and prayed quietly to myself.

A few seconds after I finished my prayer, a fan came on, creating airflow. This is when the wavy rainbow lifted upward until it left my field of vision. Feeling shaky and disoriented still.

As event concludes, vision is clear, but flulike symptoms begin to increase. Disorientation. Headache. General feeling of malaise.

Make it home. Awake for most of the night because of extreme side effects. Mostly pounding head. Body aches. Brain fog. Edgy.

As I am writing this, I am still having side effects. Typing is really hard. I have to correct every other word because my fingers keep hitting the wrong keys.

Toxins are in our environment. They are everywhere. They are making people sick, causing things from ADHD and behavior issues to migraines to dementia and Alzheimer’s to Parkinson’s. Even headaches, flulike symptoms, malaise, and disorientation. Who knows what else. If you’re chronically sick, consider getting rid of the toxins in your environment.

Here is a list of some of the things that affect me and should be avoided. Baby wipes, plugins, Febreeze and other sprays, dryer sheets, hand sanitizer, perfumes, household cleaners, cigarette smoke, and scented candles, diffusers, and warmers using artificial fragrances.

I am the canary. You may not be feeling the effects, but the toxins are getting into your system. Do you really want to expose your children to this stuff?

Think about it.