Wednesday, March 6, 2019

I Will Not Write Children's Books

Years and years ago I worked for a bookstore, Book Warehouse. I loved this place in Batesville, Mississippi. Even though I was a part-time employee, it was a coveted haven for me. Who could not be happy to be surrounded by books? I found so many new authors, enticing stories, beautiful gardening ideas, delicious recipes, weird biographies, super-weird beliefs, and the list goes on.

On slow days we spent time rearranging the tables to make them more presentable...or alluring to the customers. Shelves were switched around so that multiple titles would be forward facing. I loved the fiction, gardening, classics, and science section. But I avoid the children's section.

One reason was because it was always a mess. It had to be divided by age, by content, and shelved alphabetically and the section was huge! Another reason was that I didn't want to spend all day back there in the corner with the children's books. I would browse it with my son, but I didn't want to be the employee who had to work in it.

I had vowed then that if I ever became an author, I would not write a children's book.

Oh, the young and foolish always think they know the future.

It would be a surprise to my younger self that I now have two children's books published and am in the process of writing even more. I have two more stories sitting on the sidelines because they haven't found a home yet.

Even though I love writing my fiction novels, which one has been published (Mississippi Nights) and the other is in the editing process (Alabama Days), and even though I have a devotional on the market (30 Days: A Devotional Memoir) and I'm writing another nonfiction book, I have found a love in writing for kids.

To tell tales that would bring a smile and a laugh to a young child is something I can't describe. Imagine that, an author who is speechless, wordless.

I might have thought back when I was in my twenties that I would never write a children's book because that seemed too beneath me. But the young is always foolish. Now I see the wonderful results of writing for children. It were the books I read as a child that prompted me to dream of being an author. Those writers seeded a dream. My parents and teachers nourished that dream. And through God's timing that dream became a reality.

Now it's my time and my turn to give back to the children. Maybe my book will seed a dream within a child, too. It's a good thing that I didn't listen to my younger self. God knew then that I would need to be more mature to understand my gift He gave me.

And I'm am happy and dare I say, proud, to be able to write for children! By the way, they are the harshest of critics so I must make sure I write the best I can for them.

Here are some of the top books I remember as a child and that I loved:

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

When You Write for One

As a Christian author you are more than just an author who is a Christian, you are a Christian who writes. And as a Christian our number one goal is to honor Christ in all things.

By all things I mean: words, language, scenes, message, and tone. The world has a way of encroaching into ours lives and we must be ever diligent.

One way that the world sinks its talons into us is by making money the number one goal. Yes, making money is a plus. Money must be made to ensure a successful business and to build a profitable future; but when we make money our goal, we lose.

There are authors who rake in the royalties and hit the bestsellers list--and that's quite nice--but that's a rarity. Being an author is not always profitable, but you can make it rewarding.

Write for Christ. Give in love. Choose to help others.

What I mean by "give in love" and "choose to help others" is this: choose a charity--one that will honor Christ--and vow to donate a percentage to that charity.

Here are two examples:
Chad Pettit, author of Fate of the Watchman and upcoming book Fate of the Redeemed, has vowed to give fifty percent (50%) of his royalties from Fate of the Watchman to Voice of the Martyrs. VoM is a Christian organization who helps the persecuted and shares the Gospel worldwide, no matter how dangerous.

It's done for God's Glory.

Daphne Self (me), author of The Adventures of Wilhelmina: The Case of the Missing Firehouse Dog, has vowed to donate thirty percent (30%) of her royalties from The Adventures of Wilhelmina series to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and other various children's hospitals. St. Jude is a hospital that helps children worldwide battle and treat cancer--no matter race, social status, religion, or ethnicity. Even if the parents cannot pay, they are there to help in many ways.

It's done for God's Glory. 

When an author decides to put God first and chooses to help, then he/she is successful. Success isn't measured in money--it's measured by love. Your book will be the one to reach those who needed to hear and read that message. Your book has a purpose.

So I challenge you:

  • Write for Christ, your Audience of One
  • Choose a charity to support (just make sure that charity aligns with God's word)

Trust me, when you put Jesus first in all things, amazing things will happen.

Here are some links to some charities and Christian organizations:
Voice of the Martyrs
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Samaritan's Purse
Love Worth Finding
In Touch Ministries
Gideons International
American Family Association
Air1 Radio
KLove Radio
Pure Flix

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

A Book Review

by Renee Blare
(Prism Book Group 2015)

A true romance written with overtones of Beauty and the Beast.

When I say 'true romance', I am meaning that this book is reminiscent of the older stories from the 80's and 90's. The love story of the Harlequin romances, but the cleanliness of the Love Inspired line combined with Renee Blare's unique writing style gives a pure, romantical tale that also portrays an accurate insight into PTSD.

Fast-paced, and heart thumping, the action flows from one scene to another.

If I had to find one flaw that stood out, it is that the book could be longer, have a little more description and scenes added, and the transitions from one action to another smoothed into narrative that's less jarring at some points within the story.

Otherwise, when a reader opens the book they fall immediately into the story and action. As they read, the story unfolds bit by bit. There are no unnecessary backstories thrown in. There are no long, descriptive narratives that bog down the reading. What the reader experiences is an escape into a love story and a reading adventure.

Aimee is portrayed as a strong and yet godly woman. Miles, who cannot love a man like him?, is the tortured soul who finds a breath of new life because of Aimee. I loved their interaction.

Beast of Stratton is a modern day Beauty and the Beast story with a suspenseful twist and one that will delight true romance readers.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Revamping & Rededicating

This blog has sat for many a moons being ignored and forgotten. It had not been my intention to do so, but time was not forgiving and life demanded other things from me.

2019 is a year to begin anew. And to do that, I plan to set a schedule that will hopefully appeal to authors and readers alike.

For the next 3 months (as a trial basis), I will schedule A Book Review, The Writing Post, and Tidbit Talks. Three post per month on Wednesdays.

Hope you enjoy the upcoming posts starting next week.

Monday, August 6, 2018

John 16:33

John 16:33 is a verse that many people turn to for comfort and to fortify their soul.
Just recently though, I found a newer meaning to this verse. It wasn't a verse I sought; it wasn't a verse that I was led to; it wasn't a verse that was sent to me.

It was only after what happened that I found this verse and a new meaning came to me. Read the last part: "I have overcome the world." The world.... not a country, not the sea, not even people. But the World. And the world isn't just the planet. It is everything within it. The World.

How is that possible? It is possible because of who Jesus is. I didn't say "who Jesus was". I said "who Jesus is". He is alive!

Back to the verse and its new meaning. It started when I came across a band I used to listen to. I enjoyed this band. Not all of the songs, because being a hard rock, secular band there were some with explicit lyrics. Then there were the ones that I listened to and this was during a time of extreme emotional distress. I was alone. Not physically, but emotionally and spiritually (in my belief, that is).

I was a 31-year-old widow. Lost my husband in the line-of-duty and then two months later my father died in my arms from a massive heart attack. I had failed to save him. During this time, my mother and I grew apart. Grief will do that when there are no mentors or others there to help someone through the grief. We were alone. Our church wasn't there with us. Our extended family left us. And I struggled to balance work, raising two young sons, and dealing with all that was spiraling around me. I could not allow myself to break or fall.

Looking back it came to no surprise that I was attracted to the songs by Godsmack. They were angry. They were hard. But they were poetic and lyrical. The raspy smoothness of the lead singer caused me to gravitate to their music. I felt soothed. And it drove me down a path that led to more heartache, more helplessness, and destitution. It took years to pull myself away from all that. To pull myself away from that music.

Fast forward to last week, I came across their YouTube channel. One of those flukes in advertising while watching another video. New song? Really? New album? Interesting. Out of curiosity I clicked on it. Two songs in and I was captivated, again. But the song that spoke to me was "When Legends Rise".

For days that song played in my head. No other song could drown it out. No other song could erase the melody and words from my mind. I would wake up and in my head that song played. I would read the Bible and in my head that song played.

I could not travel that dark road again. And Godsmack would lead me down it. That is the dark part of me that is drawn to that style of music. And I wanted it. But I didn't desire it!

Even after asking people for something that was like Godsmack, there wasn't anything out there remotely similar that would erase them from my mind....until one sponsored Facebook post did. And I followed the link and watched the video. And now I have a new song in my head. And relief has been found.

So how does this tie in with the verse? The power of Jesus. He overcame the world. And all we have to do is seek Him. All we have to do is cry out, "Just give me Jesus!".

And that is what the song by Unspoken has done. Their song "Just Give Me Jesus" shows the power in Jesus' name. He erased a song from my head and replaced it with something that glorifies Him. He took a temptation and gave me freedom. He took the darkness and the anger and gave me light and happiness.

He has overcame the world, even if that world is inside someone's head. We matter to Him. And nothing is too small for Him and nothing is too large. We just need to cry out and say, "Just give me Jesus".

Just Give Me Jesus

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Infallible God vs. fallible me

Are you like me?
Do you have financial difficulties that leave you stressed to the point of breaking?
People say they pray for you and send Bible verses to help you. Do any of these seem familiar? 

Matthew 6:25 Therefore I say unto you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? (NJKV)

Matthew 11:28 "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (NKJV)

1 Peter 5:7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. (NKJV)

Are you like me?
Do you fight against illness and depression?
People say they pray for you and send Bible verses to help you. Do any of these look familiar?

Deuteronomy 31:8 "And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed." (NKJV)

Psalm 34:17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of their troubles. (NKJV)

Psalm 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. (NKJV)

Are you like me?
Do you find yourself in the midst of loneliness? Do you long for friendship and fellowship?
People say they pray for you and send you Bible verses to help you. Do any of these seem familiar?

Psalm 16:8 I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. (NKJV)

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. (NKJV)

Matthew 28:20b "...and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (NKJV)

Are you like me?
Are you a fallible human trusting in the Infallible God?
Proverbs 3:5 says "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding". (NKJV)
Psalm 73:26 reminds us that our flesh and our hearts fail, but God is the strength of our hearts, and is with us forever.

It is hard to trust and to keep going when we cannot see the end of our troubles. But God, in His infinite wisdom, has a plan for our victories and trials. We do not see or understand them, but they will be used to glorify His name and bring others to Christ.

We must remain steadfast in our faith.
Hebrews 10:23 "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."

Things may look bleak, but we are not alone.
Our Perfect God loves His imperfect children.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Tuesday Teaser

Each month I will bring to you a Tuesday Teaser of a work-in-progress. 

This month is an excerpt from a novel that I have been working on for the past few months. If you have read Mississippi Nights then you will recognize these characters. Hope you enjoy this teaser and please leave a comment and tell me what you think.

David pulled his Fastback into the clearing near the river. The one spot that he claimed since his teenage years had seen a lot of action. From impromptu parties to stargazing nights alone, the quiet spot offered its solitude and solace whenever needed.

The headlights lit up a patrol car that was partially hidden by the waist tall grass. The reflective number forty-nine flashed a moment before he turned off the lights and pushed open the door. It squeaked, desperately needing oil, mocking his own joints as they popped and seemed to need oiling themselves.

Getting old was the one part of this program that he truly hated. Couldn’t do half of what he used to do years ago.

A brief flame flared near the river’s edge.

“Better not be a cigarette, Jer.” David parted the grass and stepped into the miniature crop circle.

Jeremy looked up from the citronella bucket on the ground. Dirty, stained golf balls surrounded the bucket in an uneven pattern. “I’ll admit that I had one yesterday. Thought my lungs were going to fly out of my body I hacked so hard.”

David’s brother plopped down on an upturned five-gallon bucket. David picked up one that laid on its side and upended it. The bottom was slightly cracked. Hopefully it wouldn’t pinch his bottom like it did the last time.

“What made you smoke one?”

Jeremy shrugged. “Hard day. Been thinking a lot lately.” He ran a hand over his head and scratched at his dark hair. White strands peppered the short haircut. David frowned. His brother had let his hair grow longer than usual.

“About what?” He reached down and picked up a golf ball, rotating it in his fingers. Jasper Country Club was stamped on its surface. Jeremy must have collected them along the road. Guess those guys were too good at the splices and hooks.



Jeremy picked up a worn-out golf club and poked at the white balls. One rolled toward David, and he stopped it with his foot. A quick tap sent it toward his other foot and the game began as he sent it rolling back while Jeremy composed his thoughts.

“I decided it was time. Shot three times. A broken arm. Four times I busted my right ankle. All in the last five years.” Jeremy stood and pulled a golf ball to him. “I thought about taking the detective position that the Chief offered, but I think it’s time to stop. The kids are grown. Dennis has his own life in Tupelo now. Sophie is heading to school come fall. Sarah and I talked of traveling a bit, see a little more of the state, maybe even travel the coast.”

He took his stance, pulled back, and swung. The ball soared across the water and plopped into the rushing current near the far side.

David grabbed his own club from the ground, stood, and took a swing at a dirt encrusted ball. It hit the far bank with a dull thud before disappearing into the dark water.

Jeremy huffed and used the club to corral another toward him. “What do you think?”

David shrugged. “You’ve been through a lot these last five years, man. I think if you feel as though it’s time, then retire. You’ve been on the force for twenty-five years.” He swung at the same time as Jeremy and they watched the balls fly across the river and sink into the water side by side.

“I’ll give it more thought. Sarah says not to rush into the decision.” He rolled two balls his way. “Thad got a promotion.”

Two quick swings. Two separate plops disappearing into the darkening night.

“What is he now? Lieutenant?”

David pulled three balls to him.

“Yup. He and Sandy just bought a house last week.”

Muscles pulled at his shoulders and back as he sent two balls soaring into the air with one swing while the third rolled toward the riverbank. He would pay for that in the morning. “That’s great. Heard from Marty Junior?”

Jeremy sat down on his bucket and leaned against his knees. “No, not me. Darlene told Mom that he would finish the academy soon. Looking at a job down in Biloxi.”

“Boy always did like the ocean.” David sent a ball flying. No plop in the water came. “Think it landed on the other side?”

Jeremy smiled and stood for his own swing. “Let me see if I can do that.”

Three swings and three plops later, Jeremy threw the club on the ground. “Ach. Forget it.”

David laughed and toed the last three balls on the ground by the bucket. He used the club to rearrange them.

Jeremy plopped back down onto his bucket. “So, tell me, what has you all worked up tonight? I thought you said you were good when you left the hospital.”

“I lied.” He swung at a ball. It hooked into the water. Oh well, golf really wasn’t his game anyway.

“Yeah. I thought so. You’re an opened page to me, little brother.”

“Opened book. It’s ‘you’re an opened book’. You always mix up your sayings.”

Jeremy scoffed. He plucked a long foxtail grass and stuck it between his teeth. “So?”

David swung at the next golf ball. His frustration seemed to ride down his arm, through the club, and deposit into the ball. The dull thwack of metal hitting composite echoed on the water. A slight plop to his right signaled the ball’s new home.

“How do you answer questions when you don’t know the answers?” He pulled the last ball to him. “Poppy asked a question that I had no answer for. What could I say? How can I know why this keeps happening to us? We begin to dream, begin to plan, and then we just crash. Boom!”

The club slammed against the last ball. Its path was lost in darkness.

David cast the club onto the ground and shoved his fists into his pockets. “For weeks I prayed. Maggie was pregnant, and I was so scared it would happen again. I prayed and prayed, begged and begged, and yet once again, she miscarried. I don’t even know if I want to try again.”

Jeremy’s sigh hissed across the air. Silence reigned for moments. The small flame crackled and spat in the bucket. David imagined little mosquitos spiraling to their deaths from the citronella fumes.

“I think we will never know the mind of God.” Jeremy took the grass stalk and twisted it in his fingers. “Who knows why it happened. Maybe Maggie was sick. Maybe the baby was sick. Maybe something didn’t take well. Maybe God deemed it wasn’t time yet.”

David growled. “None of that helps.”

“Yeah, I know.” Jeremy held the end of the foxtail in the flame. It shriveled in the heat. “Have you talked to Bro. Johnny?”

David shook his head. His father-in-law would understand and would know just what to say. But right now, he didn’t want to face a man who suffered the loss of his grandchild. “Maybe later.”

“How’s the cravings?” Jeremy’s blue stare pierced him.

“Somedays are better. Today is not that day though.” David plunked down on the bucket. A crack shattered the silence as the plastic gave a bit. “I really wanted a drink tonight. Anything to go numb. To be able to sleep.”

Jeremy threw the grass to the ground and checked his watch. “I have to head back, little brother. I have a drink in the car.”

David nodded. “Think it’ll help?”

“It kind of helps with my cravings. Although I don’t think it’s as healthy as they say.”

“I don’t think they were meant to be drunk as much as you do, Jer.” David licked his fingertips, leaned down, and snuffed out the flame before following his brother to the squad car.

Jeremy opened the door and slid into the seat. He reached into the passenger seat and then handed David a gleaming white can. “Well, it takes an energy drink to get me through the night. Try it. See if it’ll take the edge off.”

David popped the top and took a long swig from the tall can. Fizz and a tanginess flooded his mouth. He swallowed and licked his lips. A slight citrusy taste remained on his tongue, and another feel. A smooth aftertaste that reminded him of his favorite drink. “Not bad.”

“You’ll probably be up for a little more, but you’ll definitely crash into a really nice sleep.” Jeremy pulled the door shut, started the vehicle, and rolled down the window. “It works for me. Give me a text later, David. I need to head back.”

His radio squawked. Jeremy turned down the volume.

“I will.” David thumped the top of the car. “Thanks for coming, Jer.”

“Anytime, little brother. Anytime.”

David fist bumped his brother’s hand and stood back as Jeremy pulled away in the newest Jasper City police car. He swallowed another dose of the mellow drink. The stuff wasn’t half bad. Already the craving had died to just an ember.

And now it was time to head back home to his wife and daughter.

As the story progresses, we will see the ups and downs of this small Southern family. Their faith and their love will be stretched to the breaking point, and the ultimate question is: will they survive?