Monday, November 30, 2009

Saint's Roost by Terry Burns - REVIEWED

I read a LOT of books! When I received my copy of Saint’s Roost I knew only that it was set in the late 1800’s. I came to its pages not realizing what was in store. This precious book was like reading an old timey cowboy movie with a strong Christian theme. Janie Benedict provides an honest, down-to-earth and very direct lead role in the story, and proves to be one of the strongest most resilient characters I’ve encountered in a very long while. Frank and Reuben are the plainest ‘ole cowpokes to grace the pages of a novel, and their dry wit and fearless approach to the wild, wild west was engaging and even humorous at times. The action was easy-going until the very last few chapters, and even then the characters never strayed from their roles, and the story played out in a way that was both suspenseful and satisfying.

Janie Benedict seems to lose everything at the very outset of this story, and while it seems to me she might have been a bit more fearful when Frank and Reuben came upon her in her time of need, I guess she figured at that point she had nothing left to lose anyway. She is very direct and open with her faith throughout the story, and yet her heart remains tender toward God’s direction in her life no matter how foreign the circumstances might become. I wish I could display that same boldness and confidence in my own faith! In short, I really got a kick out of this book. It’s not fancy, edgy, modern or anything else. Saint’s Roost is just a good old-fashioned cowboy tale with God’s grace beautifully woven throughout the story. This was a lovely change of pace and a lot of fun! I am happy to recommend this to my readers!

And if you enjoy old-fashioned cowboy tales, please visit Terry Burns' website. He has a lot to offer!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:(from the author's website)

Terry Burns likes to say he's a fifth generation Irish storyteller that happens to be a fourth generation Texas Teller of Tall Tales. Telling stories comes as natural as breathing. His faith is strong, and often this unique combination produces Christian fiction set against a western canvas. Even when trying to be serious, he finds it hard to keep his subtle West Texas humor out of his writing.

He's loved things western since the days when his Saturdays meant helping his all-time hero, Roy Rogers, rid the world of bad guys. He's plowed and fixed fence and worked cows, and has eaten dirt one minute and been rained on the next. For many years he was the manager for the West of the Pecos Rodeo, billed as the "World's Oldest Rodeo," and said he's thrown his leg over things that didn't want him on their back.

Asked if he's a cowboy, he said, "I don't have a ranch or work regular on one, but being a cowboy is more than wearing boots or a big hat. It has to do with standing good on your word. It's having something down deep in your gut that makes you keep on after others have quit because that's what you're out there for. It's working hard and playing hard and holding up your end no matter what. It's about doing what's right, not because of what some law says or because you're told to, but just because it's what's right."

Terry just can't buy the notion that all Christian fiction is written for female readers and his simple, fast moving writing appeals to male readers, though he admits he has more readers among the ladies. "I don't have a problem with that," he says. "I love to interest one of those pretty ladies in a book, then watch them talk hubby into reading it. You'd be surprised how often that happens."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Touching Wonder by John Blase

You are invited to visit to listen to this new Christmas audio special!

uReadBooks presents:

Touching Wonder -
A Christmas Radio Special

Does it seem like you have heard the Christmas story a few too many times for it to still hold the wonder that it once had? With his instant classic, Touching Wonder, author John Blase breathes new life into the story of the Nativity. Just in time for the holiday season, presents a half hour Christmas special featuring excerpts from this new book.

About the book:

Little children understand how amazing the Nativity story is. But, sometimes, as we become men and women, we put away the childlike with the childish. The result? We lose something vital—the wonder of it all. When author John Blase went looking for the lost wonder of Christmas, he went back to the place he’d last seen it—the stories from Luke 1-2. What he found fills the pages of his new book, Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas (David C Cook, September 2009), with flesh and bone and dust and night and a baby’s cry; the intimate union of human and divine—the Incarnation.

By boldly imagining the first two chapters of the gospel of Luke, writer, editor, and former pastor John Blase has created an instant classic for Christmastime. In a tale that reads like a novel parallel parked by the record of Scripture, Blase beckons those who could use a little wonder in their lives to step onto the stage of history and witness the long awaited coming of the Messiah. With Eugene Peterson’s The Message Bible translation as his backdrop, Blase adds his own voice and commentary to the historic events, exploring the renowned drama from an array of viewpoints.

In Touching Wonder, readers will meet a cast of unruly unlikelies—a frightened teenaged girl, a worried carpenter, a collection of senior citizens, a disillusioned young shepherd, even an angel or two—moving toward the realization that the little one just born is the One. This imaginative retelling of the grand miracle will leave readers wide-eyed, slack-jawed, and heart-full. The Lord is come!

In this lovely and distinctive book to be read…and re-read…and pondered in the heart, young and old will recapture the wonder of the Christmas story by seeing through the eyes of those who lived it. The book’s graceful design and Amanda Jolman’s beautiful line drawings combine to make this a thoughtful Christmas gift as well as a wonder that families will treasure for years to come.

Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas

by John Blase

David C Cook/September 2009

To listen to or download the program, visit

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A View from Graham Garrison's Window - Hero's Tribute

Graham Garrison's debut novel, Hero's Tribute, is an amazing tale of courage and grace. Please welcome Graham to my Window as he discusses his novel and the exciting things that God is doing in his life!

Welcome, Graham Garrison!!

Have you ever played football? Served in the military? Where did you gain your inspiration for Michael Gavin’s character?

Never played football or served in the military, but my father was in the military and I was a beat writer for a college football team, so I guess it was experiences on the periphery. Gavin is a combination of stories collected from covering college and high school football, and some family and close friends who served in the military.

You have lived a lot of your life in the southeastern United States . What do you think makes football heroes so legendary in this part of the country? How is it possible that grown men will sit around bragging about football they played thirty years ago?

Football in the South is unique. High school football games are like the epicenter of communities on Friday nights, and college football is almost like mini-nationalism. I think the passion involved is what makes it so vibrant and how heroes and accomplishments can live on for so long.

Next to football, military service is another highly lauded life experience. What drew you to feature the Gulf War? Why did Michael struggle so with not keeping a promise, when it was never his to keep in the first place?

Soldiers, veterans, these folks sacrifice more than we’ll ever know, and even when they return they end up carrying things like guilt and suffering for those who didn’t make it back. Michael’s story includes that.

What/who was your inspiration for Wes’ character? Was a view from a stranger the only way that Talking Creek would ever take an honest look at Michael Gavin’s life?

Wes is a little bit of me, and a little bit of “careerist.” That is, someone who is so intent on getting out of their present situation and “moving up” that they miss relationships and experiences that could have enriched their lives. There are some situations where I’ve regretted that type of mentality, wanting to move on without really investing in where I was, and I thought it matched with a reporter looking at a story in the way Wes did – to advance his career – when it turned out to be something totally different.

Grace - why oh why is this such a difficult concept to grasp? To display in our lives?

It’s a word that used to make my eyes glaze over in church because I heard it so often but didn’t hear many stories that visualized it for me. I think that is what makes it difficult. We hear of God’s grace, but when we’re able to see every day examples of it, that’s when it may resonate a little better. Acts of grace are so powerful that once you experience one it’s hard to ignore or get over.

What is your next writing project? Will we see any more of the characters from Talking Creek?

I do have a sequel mapped out for Hero’s Tribute and a handful of the characters will be involved. I’ve also got the first draft of a supernatural fiction book done that I want to see if there is an audience for. It’s set during the Civil War and incorporates some of the stories of the prophets and puts them in an American history setting.

What exciting things is God doing in your life right now? Any words of encouragement you’d like to share with your readers?

2009 has been a trying year – we’ve lost some loved ones, we’ve had to deal with a hit-and-run and identity theft, my father was diagnosed with cancer – and yet, through it all, God’s love is shining through. We’re expecting our second child in December, and along with my father’s recovery and the release of the book, there is a lot to be grateful for.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Hero's Tribute by Graham Garrison - REVIEWED

“I’m not going to be thumping my chest about what I did when I could be praising God for what He did with me despite myself.” (p. 206)

Michael Gavin’s selfless attitude of praise was one born out of heartache, pain and great loss. Yet it was his attitude of service and forgiveness, hard work and devotion to family and country that made him a hero in the eyes of his small, north-west Georgia town of Talking Creek. A decorated veteran of the Gulf-War and Medal of Honor recipient, Michael was unable to leave the battle-field of cancer victorious. His final request before he died was something that baffled the entire community. Requesting a young sports-beat reporter for the local paper to deliver the eulogy for his funeral proved to be one of the most heroic acts of Michael’s life.

Hero’s Tale is an honest and heart-wrenching story of one small town’s loss and their attempt to rally around a grieving widow and her family. However, like many small south-eastern towns, sometimes there is a blatant unwillingness to take a close look at the whole person after they have left this world – especially if they did a lot of good things while they lived. Sometimes, efforts to hide what is not-so-desirable about a person robs the world of realizing some of God’s richest and most precious blessings.

Michael Gavin’s choice of Wes Watkins to deliver his eulogy proves to be one of Talking Creek’s most amazing and unexpected source of blessing. Wes has an all-out battle on his hands just to uncover the information Michael has left behind for him to share, but he persists despite the opposition. At one point, he thinks that perhaps this small-town hero isn’t at all who he was proclaimed to be. However, as Wes continues to search for truth, he finds far more than he ever dreamed possible.

Hero’s Tribute is a beautiful portrait of God’s grace, and it is certain to cause you to pause and examine your own heart for treasures that may lie buried beneath hurt feelings or unforgiving attitudes. Don’t miss this inspiring story and the opportunity to recognize some of the hero’s in your own life!

Purchase your copy HERE today!


Graham Garrison is the author of two published books – “Hero’s Tribute” and “Groomed: From Proposal To Vows, Wedding Planning And An Engagement From A Groom’s Point of View.” He is currently the managing editor for three magazines published by a healthcare communications company and is also a writer/editor for two other publications. He’s written for almost a half dozen newspapers and two dozen magazines, including America’s Civil War, Boating World, Georgia Physician and Repertoire.

Graham has lived in almost a dozen towns, five states (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina and Washington) and one army base (Fort Bragg, N.C.). He’s grown roots in Johns Creek, Ga., with his wife Katie, son Nicholas and Baxter the Beagle. He and his family worship at Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church. He is a Florida Gator by birth, but a Georgia Bulldog by the grace of God.

Visit Graham's website to learn more about this amazing story!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I have a week ahead of me filled with family gatherings! Actually, they began this past Saturday! When family gathers in on Thursday, we begin three full days of fun! Last year, we all went on a hayride to visit the homeplace of my precious Grandmother. I wrote about that experience, and want to share it here with you. God has blessed me with precious, precious family, and I DO NOT take that lightly! May your Thanksgiving be filled with praise!!


Light drizzle and cool breezes didn’t dampen our spirits as we climbed onto the hay wagon. Grandmother was taking us on a visit – a visit back in time to the place of her childhood. Her daughters eagerly looked forward to once again visiting the beloved home site of their own grandparents. It was, in a very real sense, a trip back in time.

It only took a moment to release the locked gate and enter the drive that took us to the doorstep of the old home place. Wild bamboo, a myriad of trees and a host of weeds now covered much of the building, but the house was there, the open doorway and stone steps beckoning each of us to enter a time and place long ago dear to our precious Grandmother. It only took one full look into Grandmother’s face and into her eyes to know that in her heart, she had come home for a visit.

Suddenly hearts and minds were flooded with memories and Grandmother, Granddaddy and each of their daughters began sharing the sights and sounds of yesteryear…

Over there is the tree that my brother and I used to climb in. A barn used to be there, and I remember when Daddy used to…Here is the syrup mill. Daddy used to plant…. Over here is the branch. We used to dam up the water and go swimming…Mother loved the fireplace, it was so big and warm. We had a cookstove too, and mother would stand on the steps and call us to supper. We could hear her voice no matter where we were. I remember feeding toads with my brother on those steps right there…

On and on the memories poured forth. Four generations of family walked over the property, snapped pictures and shared stories, creating their own precious memories of a time and place that will remain dear to them as the years pass by. And yet…

Grandmother’s eyes filled with unshed tears. No doubt she was remembering all those dear to her heart who were now gone from her life. Perhaps, in those moments of memory heaven seemed a bit dearer. Yet as she looked about her, surrounded by those of us who love and cherish her presence, her laughter and her unending stories she uttered a prayer…

A prayer that somehow, in the heart of each of us, we too have somehow absorbed this place into our own memories and will pass it on to those yet to become a part of her family in generations she will never know. And perhaps, when time has ended and this earth has passed away, we will once again gather as family at Jesus’ feet and remember this precious time of Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Novel Idea by Various Best-Selling Authors (includes contributions from Jerry Jenkins, Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury and more!)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

Various Best-Selling Authors
(contributions from best-selling authors including Jerry B. Jenkins, Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, Randy Alcorn, Terri Blackstock, Robin Jones Gunn, Angela Hunt and more)

and the book:

A Novel Idea

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (November 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Vicky Lynch of Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***


Best-selling Christian fiction writers have teamed together to contribute articles on the craft of writing. A Novel Idea contains tips on brainstorming ideas and crafting and marketing a novel. It explains what makes a Christian novel “Christian” and offers tips on how to approach tough topics. Contributors include Jerry B. Jenkins, Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers, Angela Hunt, and many other beloved authors. All proceeds will benefit MAI, an organization that teaches writing internationally to help provide literature that is culturally relevant.

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (November 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1414329946
ISBN-13: 978-1414329949

This book is a gift of knowledge to me! To read it is like attending a great writer's conference in the comfort of my own home! Every aspect of fiction writing, ranging from plot and characters to marketing and networking is covered in detail, and everything is set in the context of God's direction in your life and with your talent. There are some really sweet testimonies from a lot of your favorite authors to encourage you along the way!

So, if you love to write, and you feel God is directing your path to write a great story, pick up a copy of Novel Ideas today!


Chapter 1: Plot

The Plot Skeleton

Angela Hunt

Imagine, if you will, that you and I are sitting in a room with one hundred other authors. If you were to ask each person present to describe their plotting process, you’d probably get a hundred different answers. Writers’ methods vary according to their personalities, and we are all different. Mentally. Emotionally. Physically.

If, however, those one hundred novelists were to pass behind an X-ray machine, you’d discover that we all possess remarkably similar skeletons. Beneath our disguising skin, hair, and clothing, our skeletons are pretty much identical.

In the same way, though writers vary in their methods, good stories are composed of remarkably comparable skeletons. Stories with “good bones” can be found in picture books and novels, plays and films.

Many fine writers tend to carefully outline their plots before they begin the first chapter. On the other hand, some novelists describe themselves as “seat-of-the-pants” writers. But when the story is finished, a seat-of-the-pants novel will (or should!) contain the same elements as a carefully plotted book. Why? Because whether you plan it from the beginning or find it at the end, novels need structure beneath the story.

After mulling several plot designs and boiling them down to their basic elements, I developed what I call the “plot skeleton.” It combines the spontaneity of seat-of-the-pants writing with the discipline of an outline. It requires a writer to know where he’s going, but it leaves room for lots of discovery on the journey.

When I sit down to plan a new book, the first thing I do is sketch my smiling little skeleton.

To illustrate the plot skeleton in this article, I’m going to refer frequently to The Wizard of Oz and a lovely foreign film you may never have seen, Mostly Martha.

The Skull: A Central Character
The skull represents the main character, the protagonist. A lot of beginning novelists have a hard time deciding who the main character is, so settle that question right away. Even in an ensemble cast, one character should be featured more than the others. Your readers want to place themselves into your story world, and it’s helpful if you can give them a sympathetic character to whom they can relate. Ask yourself, “Whose story is this?” That is your protagonist.

This main character should have two needs or problems—one obvious, one hidden—which I represent by two yawning eye sockets.

Here’s a tip: Hidden needs, which usually involve basic human emotions, are often solved or met by the end of the story. They are at the center of the protagonist’s “inner journey,” or character change, while the “outer journey” is concerned with the main events of the plot. Hidden needs often arise from wounds in a character’s past.

Consider The Wizard of Oz. At the beginning of the film, Dorothy needs to save her dog from Miss Gulch, who has arrived to take Toto because he bit her scrawny leg—a very straightforward and obvious problem. Dorothy’s hidden need is depicted but not directly emphasized when she stands by the pigpen and sings “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Do children live with Uncle Henry and Aunt Em if all is fine with Mom and Dad? No. Though we are not told what happened to Dorothy’s parents, it’s clear that something has splintered her family and Dorothy’s unhappy. Her hidden need, the object of her inner journey, is to find a place to call home.

Mostly Martha opens with the title character lying on her therapist’s couch and talking about all that is required to cook the perfect pigeon. Since she’s in a therapist’s office, we assume she has a problem, and the therapist addresses this directly: “Martha, why are you here?”

“Because,” she answers, “my boss will fire me if I don’t go to therapy.” Ah—obvious problem at work with the boss. Immediately we also know that Martha is high-strung. She is precise and politely controlling in her kitchen. This woman lives for food, but though she assures us in a voice-over that all a cook needs for a perfectly lovely dinner is “fish and sauce,” we see her venture downstairs to ask her new neighbor if he’d like to join her for dinner. He can’t, but we become aware that Martha needs company. She needs love in her life.

Connect the Skull to the Body: Inciting Action
Usually the first few chapters of a novel are involved with the business of establishing the protagonist in a specific time and place, his world, his needs, and his personality. The story doesn’t kick into gear, though, until you move from the skull to the spine, a connection known as the inciting incident.

Writers are often told to begin the story in medias res, or in the middle of the action. This is not the same as the Big Incident. Save the big event for a few chapters in, after you’ve given us some time to know and understand your character’s needs. Begin your story with an obvious problem—some action that shows how your character copes. In the first fifth of the story we learn that Dorothy loves Toto passionately and that Martha is a perfectionist chef. Yes, start in the middle of something active, but hold off on the big event for a while. Let us get to know your character first . . . because we won’t gasp about their dilemma until we know them.

In a picture book, the inciting incident is often signaled by two words: One day . . . Those two words are a natural way to move from setting the stage to the action. As you plot your novel, ask yourself, “One day, what happens to move my main character into the action of the story?” Your answer will be your inciting incident, the key that turns your story engine.

After Dorothy ran away, if she’d made it home to Uncle Henry and Aunt Em without incident, there would have been no story. The inciting incident? When the tornado picks Dorothy up and drops her, with her house, in the land of Oz.

The inciting incident in Mostly Martha is signaled by a ringing telephone. When Martha takes the call, she learns that her sister, who was a single mother to an eight-year-old girl, has been killed in an auto accident.

Think of your favorite stories—how many feature a hero who’s reluctant to enter the special world? Often—but not always—your protagonist doesn’t want to go where the inciting incident is pushing him or her. Obviously, Martha doesn’t want to hear that her sister is dead, and she certainly doesn’t want to be a mother. She takes Lina, her niece, and offers to cook for her (her way of showing love), but Lina wants her mother, not gourmet food.

Even if your protagonist has actively pursued a change, he or she may have moments of doubt as the entrance to the special world looms ahead. When your character retreats or doubts or refuses to leave the ordinary world, another character should step in to provide encouragement, advice, information, or a special tool. This will help your main character overcome those last-minute doubts and establish the next part of the skeleton: the goal.

The End of the Spine: The Goal
At some point after the inciting incident, your character will establish and state a goal. Shortly after stepping out of her transplanted house, Dorothy looks around Oz and wails, “I want to go back to Kansas!” She’s been transported over the rainbow, but she prefers the tried and true to the unfamiliar and strange. In order to go home, she’ll have to visit the wizard in the Emerald City. As she tries to meet an ever-shifting set of subordinate goals (follow the yellow brick road; overcome the poppies; get in to see the wizard; bring back a broomstick), her main goal keeps viewers glued to the screen.

This overriding concern—will she or won’t she make it home?—is known as the dramatic question. The dramatic question in every murder mystery is, Who committed the crime? The dramatic question in nearly every thriller is, Who will win the inevitable showdown between the hero and the villain? Along the way readers will worry about the subgoals (Will the villain kill his hostage? Will the hero figure out the clues?), but the dramatic question keeps them reading until the last page.

Tip: To keep the reader involved, the dramatic question should be directly related to the character’s ultimate goal. Martha finds herself trying to care for a grieving eight-year-old who doesn’t want another mother. So Martha promises to track down the girl’s father, who lives in Italy. She knows only that his name is Giuseppe, but she’s determined to find him.

The Rib Cage: Complications
Even my youngest students understand that a protagonist who accomplishes everything he or she attempts is a colorless character. As another friend of mine is fond of pointing out, as we tackle the mountain of life, it’s the bumps we climb on! If you’re diagramming, sketch at least three curving ribs over your spine. These represent the complications that must arise to prevent your protagonist from reaching his goal.

Why at least three ribs? Because even in the shortest of stories—in a picture book, for instance—three complications work better than two or four. I don’t know why three gives us such a feeling of completion, but it does. Maybe it’s because God is a Trinity and we’re hardwired to appreciate that number.

While a short story will have only three complications, a movie or novel may have hundreds. Complications can range from the mundane—John can’t find a pencil to write down Sarah’s number—to life-shattering. As you write down possible complications that could stand between your character and his ultimate goal, place the more serious problems at the bottom of the list.

The stakes—what your protagonist is risking—should increase in significance as the story progresses. In Mostly Martha, the complications center on this uptight woman’s ability to care for a child. Lina hates her babysitter, so Martha has to take Lina to work with her. But the late hours take their toll, and Lina is often late for school. Furthermore, Lina keeps refusing to eat anything Martha cooks for her.

I asked you to make the ribs curve because any character that runs into complication after complication without any breathing space is going to be a weary character . . . and you’ll weary your reader with this frenetic pace. One of the keys to good pacing is to alternate your plot complications with rewards. Like a pendulum that swings on an arc, let your character relax, if only briefly, between disasters.

Along the spiraling yellow brick road, Dorothy soon reaches an intersection (a complication). Fortunately, a friendly scarecrow is willing to help (a reward). They haven’t gone far before Dorothy becomes hungry (a complication). The scarecrow spots an apple orchard ahead (a reward). These apple trees, however, resent being picked (a complication), but the clever scarecrow taunts them until they begin to throw fruit at the hungry travelers (a reward).

See how it works? Every problem is followed by a reward that matches the seriousness of the complication. Let’s fast-forward to the scene where the balloon takes off without Dorothy. This is a severe complication—so severe it deserves a title of its own: the bleakest moment. This is the final rib in the rib cage, the moment when all hope is lost for your protagonist.

The Thighbone: Send in the Cavalry
At the bleakest moment, your character needs help, but be careful how you deliver it. The ancient Greek playwrights had actors representing the Greek gods literally descend from the structure above to bring their complicated plot knots to a satisfying conclusion. This sort of resolution is frowned upon in modern literature. Called deus ex machina (literally “god from the machine”), this device employs some unexpected and improbable incident to bring victory or success. If you find yourself whipping up a coincidence or a miracle after the bleakest moment, chances are you’ve employed deus ex machina. Back up and try again, please.

Avoid using deus ex machina by sending two types of help: external and internal. Your character obviously needs help from outside; if he could solve the problem alone, he would have done it long before the bleakest moment. Having him conveniently remember something or stumble across a hidden resource smacks of coincidence and will leave your reader feeling resentful and cheated.

So send in the cavalry, but remember that they can’t solve the protagonist’s problem. They can give the protagonist a push in the right direction; they can nudge; they can remind; they can inspire. But they shouldn’t wave a magic wand and make everything all right.

For Dorothy, help comes in the form of Glenda the Good Witch, who reveals a secret: The ruby slippers have the power to carry her back to Kansas. All Dorothy has to do is say, “There’s no place like home”—with feeling, mind you—and she’ll be back on the farm with Uncle Henry and Auntie Em. Dorothy’s problem isn’t resolved, however, until she applies this information internally. At the beginning of the story, she wanted to be anywhere but on the farm. Now she has to affirm that the farm is where she wants to be. Her hidden need—to find a place to call home—has been met.

In Mostly Martha, the bleakest moment arrives with Lina’s father, Giuseppe. He is a good man, and Lina seems to accept him. But after waving good-bye, Martha goes home to an empty apartment and realizes that she is not happy with her controlled, childless life. She goes to Marlo, the Italian chef she has also begun to love, and asks for his help.

The Kneecap and Lower Leg: Make a Decision, Learn a Lesson
Martha realizes that her old life was empty—she needs Lina in her life, and she needs Marlo. So she and Marlo drive from Germany to Italy to fetch Lina and bring her home.

You may be hard-pressed to cite the lesson you learned from the last novel you read, but your protagonist needs to learn something. This lesson is the epiphany, a sudden insight that speaks volumes to your character and brings them to the conclusion of their inner journey.

James Joyce popularized the word epiphany, literally the manifestation of a divine being. (Churches celebrate the festival of Epiphany on January 6 to commemorate the meeting of the Magi and the Christ child.) After receiving help from an outside source, your character should see something—a person, a situation, or an object—in a new light.

When the scarecrow asks why Glinda waited to explain the ruby slippers, the good witch smiles and says, “Because she wouldn’t have believed me. She had to learn it for herself.” The scarecrow then asks, “What’d you learn, Dorothy?” Without hesitation, Dorothy announces that she’s learned a lesson: “The next time I go looking for my heart’s desire, I won’t look any farther than my own backyard.” She has learned to appreciate her home, so even though she is surrounded by loving friends and an emerald city, Dorothy chooses to return to colorless Kansas. She hugs her friends once more, then grips Toto and clicks her heels.

The Foot: The Resolution
Every story needs the fairy-tale equivalent of “and they lived happily ever after.” Not every story ends happily, of course, though happy endings are undoubtedly popular. Some protagonists are sadder and wiser after the course of their adventure. But a novel should at least leave the reader with hope.

The resolution to Mostly Martha is portrayed during the closing of the film. As the credits roll, we see Marlo and Martha meeting Lina in Italy; we see Martha in a wedding gown (with her hair down!) and Marlo in a tuxedo; we see a wedding feast with Giuseppe, his family, and Martha’s German friends; we see Martha and Marlo and Lina exploring an abandoned restaurant—clearly, they are going to settle in Italy so Lina can be a part of both families. In the delightful final scene, we see Martha with her therapist again, but this time he has cooked for her and she is advising him.

Many movies end with a simple visual image—we see a couple walking away hand in hand, a mother cradling her long-lost son. That’s all we need to realize that our main character has struggled, learned, and come away a better (or wiser) person. As a writer, you’ll have to use words, but you can paint the same sort of reassuring picture without resorting to “and they lived happily ever after.”

Your story should end with a changed protagonist—he or she has gone through a profound experience and is different for it, hopefully for the better. Your protagonist has completed an outer journey (experienced the major plot events) and an inner journey that address some hurt from the past and result in a changed character.

What Next?
Now that we’ve reached the foot of our story skeleton, we’re finished outlining the basic structure. Take those major points and write them up in paragraph form. Once you’ve outlined your plot and written your synopsis, you’re ready to begin writing scenes. Take a deep breath, glance over your skeleton, and jump in.

Taken from A Novel Idea by ChiLibras. Copyright ©2009 by ChiLibras. Used with permission from Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An Amish Christmas - REVIEWED

An Amish Christmas is a collection of three novellas that is sure to delight anyone who enjoys exploring the Amish lifestyle and the concepts of grace, forgiveness and reaching out to others. Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller and Barbara Cameron each contribute a story to this collection, and each story builds upon the other to create a memorable cast of characters and experiences that will enrich the reader’s heart no matter what season of the year it is enjoyed!

A Miracle for Miriam begins the collection and tells the story of a very homely Amish girl who has allowed hurts from her childhood to harden her heart toward anyone who expresses a desire to get to know her. When Seth returns to the Amish community seeking forgiveness and restoration for wrong choices, and almost losing his life in a serious accident, Miriam’s world is turned topsy-turvy. Even though Seth has asked her forgiveness, fear and pride hold Miriam captive, just as they held Seth captive for many years. Will they learn what true forgiveness and grace really means before it’s too late?

A Choice to Forgive follows Miriam’s story, and takes an in-depth look at Miriam’s widowed sister Lydia. Two years alter losing her husband to a sudden heart-attack, her brother-in-law makes a sudden reappearance. Eighteen years separate Daniel from the Amish community, and a long-held secret holds him hostage from his true feelings. When he finally confronts Lydia and her children with the truth, it may just be more than their broken hearts can bear.

One Child is the final installment in this collection, and brings unexpected Christmas visitors to the home of Sarah and David in the midst of a terrible winter storm. These two unlikely couples find themselves together, exploring their life choices and their beliefs in ways neither of them expected. The miracle that binds their hearts together is one that will change all of their lives forever.

An Amish Christmas is a beautiful hardcover collection that will provide readers with many memorable and touching moments. Each story shines with God’s mercy and grace and showcases the simple but stalwart faith of the Amish people.

Purchase your copy HERE today!

An Amish Christmas by Beth Wiseman, Kathleen Fuller and Barbara Cameron


Follow the lives of three Amish families through the Christmas season.

A Miracle for Miriam: Miriam fell for Seth, but he broke her heart. Years later, after he’s nearly killed in an accident, Miriam sees him at a Christmas party and notices something is different about him—not just how he looks, but how he acts. When Seth pursues her, she must decide whether to guard her heart or accept his love.

A Choice to Forgive: Lydia has loved two men in her life. Daniel disappeared one Christmas Eve long ago, leaving only a note saying he wanted to live in the Englisch world. And Elam, Daniel's brother, to whom she has been happily married for 15 years. When Elam dies, Lydia gives up on ever loving again. But she is shocked when Daniel wants to return to the Order and her life.

One Child: The birth of one child forever changed the world two thousand years ago. On this snowy Lancaster Christmas Eve, another child will change the world of two couples.

You can find out more about this great book and how to purchase your own copy HERE.

I have not yet received my copy of this book, but look forward to reading and reviewing it for you very soon! This is going to be an amazing book to add to your Christmas collection!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pearl Girls by Margaret McSweeney

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

Pearl Girls

Moody Publishers (July 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Amy Lathrop of the Litfuse Publicity Group for sending me a review copy.***


Margaret lives with her husband and two daughters in a Chicago suburb. Her book, A Mother’s Heart Knows was published by Thomas Nelson in 2005. Go Back and Be Happy, a co-authored book will be published by Lion Hudson in July 2008. Margaret has been featured on Greg Wheatly’s “Prime Time America,” TLN’s “Aspiring Women,” and LeSea’s “The Harvest Show.” Margaret writes freelance articles for The Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. Notable interviews include Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Kinkade, Susan Branch and Dr. John Gottman. Margaret also wrote a feature article for With a master’s degree in international business, Margaret became a vice president in the corporate finance division of a New York City bank and worked there from 1986-1993. Supporting charitable causes is important to Margaret. For the past five years, she has served on the board of directors for WINGS, an organization that helps abused women and their children get a new start in life. Margaret would love to meet you too.

Visit the author's website.

Pearl Girls from Michael J Garvey on Vimeo.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 192 pages
Publisher: Moody Publishers (July 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0802458629
ISBN-13: 978-0802458629



By Susan May Warren

Ephesians 4:32: (ESV): Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Angels of Forgiveness

I felt as if I had been slapped. I gaped in horror as I stared at the empty storage room and tried to comprehend my mother-in-law’s words, “ . . . and we even made $200!” She had sold all my worldly possessions without my permission. She was trying to be kind, but in doing so, she plowed a cavernous furrow through the garden of our friendship. I knew it would never bloom again.

Our family had just returned home after serving as missionaries for four years in Russia. We still hadn’t found a place to live, and my mother-in-law wanted to help by clearing out room for us in her unfinished basement—in the space our hundred boxes of lifetime treasures once occupied. She’d sold everything from hand-knit sweaters to homemade

quilts. Only a forlorn crate of John Denver records and a bag of used mittens remained.

The money she handed me from the proceeds of the sale felt like blood money. I had waited for four years to unwrap my wedding china, greet my books and knick-knacks, and slip back into my fine dresses. I couldn’t believe I had put so much value on possessions, but I had, and now I was stripped.

Then I discovered she’d sold my Christmas ornaments. Every year since childhood my mother had given me a special gift at Christmas, a new and unique tree decoration that symbolized my life for that year, as well as her love for me. The box of heirloom ornaments I had so carefully packed had been sold for a dollar; my memories traded for the price of two cheeseburgers.

A ball of anger swelled in my heart. As I curled in my bed, sobbing out my grief, the ball gained momentum and became an avalanche, burying any tendril of love I had left for the mother of my husband.

Christmas loomed close and everywhere I saw beautiful, glittering Christmas trees. My tree was naked, its arms bare against the white lights. Where was the golden star with my name etched on it, or my tiny porcelain piano? How could she have done this? I felt entombed by my anger.

Sometime in January I realized I had missed the joy that came with the advent season. It couldn’t penetrate my icy heart. I could barely look at my mother-in-law, despite the fact she begged my forgiveness. “I didn’t know how much this would hurt you,” she said, weeping. “I was just trying to help.” I turned a stone heart to her plea. Frost laced the edges of our conversations and although I said the words, “I forgive you,” my soul

was an iceberg and I knew I had not.

In the past, my mother-in-law had been my greatest supporter, encouraging me, helping me pack, babysitting, and stuffing thousands of newsletters. She had cried with me, prayed for me, and tolerated me living in her home. I missed her and knew that if I wanted warmth to reenter my heart, I had to forgive her. But nothing could ease the ache of losing my memories. I avoided her and resolved to live with the pain.

When we moved away in February, I slammed the door on our relationship and didn’t talk to her again. Three days before the following Christmas, a parcel arrived at our

front door, my name etched on the front. Mystified, I opened it. Then, surrounded by my family’s astonished gasps, I unwrapped, one by one, a collection of angel ornaments.

From bears with wings and halos to gilded crystal angels holding trumpets, I hung a choir of heavenly hosts on my tree. Finally, I sank into the sofa as my children examined the

decorations, oohing and aahing.

“Who’s it from?” my husband asked. I retrieved the box, dug through the tissue, and unearthed a small card. Merry Christmas—Love, Mom was scrawled out in my mother-in-law’s script. Tears burned my eyes and, as I let them free, my icy tomb of anger began to melt. My mother-in-law was not able to retrieve the past she had so carelessly discarded, but she was hoping to build a future, our future. And it would start with these angels, proclaiming the love and forgiveness that entered our world. If God could forgive me, who stole His Son’s life, certainly I could forgive my mother-in-law for stealing my . . . stuff.

Easter arrived and with it forgiveness finally flowered in my heart. We descended upon the in-laws for a visit and I wrapped my husband’s mother in a teary embrace. I had lost the little stuffed bunnies my grandmother had knit for me, but I had gained something better—the fragrance of forgiveness, and the everlasting hope that love can warm the coldest heart.

Loss of Carrier by Russ White - REVIEWED

Loss of Carrier is a self-published book by Russ White. It is obvious that Russ White loves his job in computer networking as well as a good mystery, because it is reflected in his writing. Jess Worth is a character not unlike what I imagine the author to be like, a person who works in the computer industry and who sees more excitement off the job than sitting in his cubicle. When he discovers that one of his co-workers has been murdered, his life takes a dramatic and very dangerous turn.

The discovery of a body in the basement of the computer networking company is just the beginning of chaos for the rather understated Jess. The body count grows as does the suspicion that perhaps Jess isn’t as innocent as he seems. However, there are a lot of duel identities involved in this story, so don’t begin to solve the mystery too early! The bad guy may be right in front of you, but he remains pretty well hidden. By the time the story ends, Jess has established an ally/possible girlfriend combination, and he has solved his first mystery. With his appetite for adventure well-whetted, it seems Jess and his new sidekick will be looking for other crimes to solve.

Loss of Carrier is a good read, especially for a self-published first novel. However, I must be honest and tell you that there is a LOT of detail in this story about everything! At first I thought it was just going to be lots of computer details, but I quickly realized that every thought, idea, sound, sight and motion was going to be described to me in some way. I don’t mind details, but White sort of overdoes it. I found myself skimming parts of the story and still able to fully understand where I would pick up for a more serious read. It’s a good story idea, and I think it has great possibilities, but it needs a good line-edit.

Decide for yourself. If you’re looking for a good murder mystery centered around computer networking, you might be fully engaged!

Back Cover Copy:

Bright yellow cables against a blue shirt? Carl never would have approved of that color combination. Why was his face so white? His eyes should be closed, not open. Why hadn’t one of the security guards seen this and reported it to the police? The lights were off, the cameras were useless in the dark.

Of course, the cables wrapped around Carl’s neck explained why the server wasn’t working. Loss of carrier.

When Jess Wirth discovers his co-worker Carl’s dead body hanging from a tangle of cables in their office, his previously mundane life takes a dramatic turn. The police rule the death a suicide, but Jess isn’t convinced. He begins searching for clues to suggest Carl might have been depressed…or in the know about something worth killing for. When another co-worker turns up dead and Jess narrowly escapes an attempt on his own life, he realizes he’s onto something very real and very dangerous. Complicating things further is the appearance of an enigmatic woman named Leah, who presses him to entrust her with the information he’s collected about the murders. Wary of her motives yet drawn to her nonetheless, Jess struggles to figure out just who he should trust. When Leah’s life is threatened, the pair realizes they are on the trail of a clever, cold-blooded thief who won’t hesitate to kill to protect his prize!


Russ White is an internationally recognized internet-work engineer. He has co-authored eight books in the field of network design and routing protocols and is a regular speaker at international networking conferences. In addition to working on several expert and senior-level network engineering certifications, he is a certified firearms instructor. Russ, his wife, and their two children live in the Raleigh area of North Carolina, where they enjoy spending time on Jordan Lake and attending Colonial Baptist Church. Loss of Carrier is his first novel.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Love Finds You In Lonesome Prairie, Montana by Tricia Goyer and Ocieanna Fleiss - REVIEWED

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card authors are:

and the book:

Love Finds You In Lonesome Prairie, Montana

Summerside Press (December 1, 2009)

***Special thanks to Amy Lathrop of LitFUSE Publicity Group for sending me a review copy.***


Tricia Goyer was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference "Writer of the Year" in 2003. Her book Night Song won Book of the Year from ACFW in the Long Historical Fiction category. Her book Life Interrupted: The Scoop On Being a Young Mom was a Gold Medallion Finalist. Tricia has written hundreds of articles, Bible Study notes, and both fiction and non-fiction books.

Visit the author's website.

Ocieanna Fleissis a published writer and has edited six of Tricia Goyer's historical novels. She lives with her husband and their four children in the Seattle area. Connect with Ocieanna on Facebook!

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Summerside Press (December 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1935416294
ISBN-13: 978-1935416296


“Forgive me for treating my fears as a vow of service to You.” (p.246)

Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie Montana is a precious story of discovery and romance. Julia Cavanaugh, a caretaker in a New York orphanage, suddenly finds herself on an orphan train escorting her young charges to her new home. By the time she reaches the end of the line, her heart is a empty and lonesome as the barren Montana landscape before her. Left in a very awkward and unusual situation, Julia begins an unexpected time of discovery in her heart and soul that teaches her some eternal truths.

Parson Isaac Shepherd, the itinerant pastor of Lonesome Prairie, is busy trying to fill the needs of his many parishioners, and winds up rescuing Julia Cavanaugh from becoming an accidental gold-miner! In the process, he learns that even pastors need to live each moment in the freedom of selfless love and service to the Savior rather than getting caught up in the many expectations of his flock and his own personal dreams. His spiritual growth is aided by the most unlikely character of all, and in the end he becomes much more than he ever dreamed possible.

Lonesome Prairie Montana is a place that will hold a tender place in your heart, and if you love a tender romance with a precious spiritual truth woven within its pages, then Love Finds You in Lonesome Prairie Montana is the book for you!


The sound of little girls’ voices and the sight of the sun streaming through the tall, second-story window of the Open Door Home for Destitute Girls, a privately owned orphanage on upper Manhattan, told nineteen-year-old Julia Cavanaugh that the day had started without her. Julia, an orphan herself, now running the place for the owner, brushed a strand of dark hair from her eyes. She submitted to a second yawn as a twelve-year-old girl hopped onto her bed.

“He’s gonna ask her to marry him, don’t you think, Miss Cavanaugh?”

“Oh, Shelby.” Julia wiped the sleep from her eyes and smiled into the freckled face staring eagerly at her. “Give me a moment to wake before you go asking such things.” Julia stroked the girl’s cheek, her heart seeming to double within her chest with love for the youngster.

The embroidery sampler she’d fallen asleep working on still lay at the end of her bed. She picked it up and eyed the image of a small house she’d copied from Godey’s Lady’s Book. Above the house, she’d stitched the words Home Sweet Home in fancy script. Gazing around the broad room lined with small metal cots and bustling with little-girl chatter, Julia noted the embroidered pillowslips, carefully pressed—albeit dingy—curtains, and dandelions smiling from scavenged jam-jar vases. She’d done her best to make the room pleasant for the girls—and herself. She glanced at their faces and smiled, gladly embracing her role as caretaker.

A less-than-subtle “ahem” from Shelby reminded Julia she’d been asked a question. She glanced at her young charge, still perched on the end of her bed. “What did you ask?”

“Finally.” Shelby eyed her with mock frustration. “I said, do you think they will get married—Mrs. Hamlin and Mr. Gaffin? Haven’t you noticed the way they look at each other?” Shelby’s cheeks hinted of red. Her golden hair was already fixed in a proper bun, her hands and face washed, and her simple dress clean and pressed despite its patches and stray threads.

“Shelby Bruce.” Julia shook her head, as Shelby’s two-year-old sister Beatrice wiggled onto Julia’s lap with a squeal. Julia planted a firm kiss on the top of Bea’s head.

“Married? I don’t think so,” Julia continued. “Mrs. Hamlin would’ve told us—told me—if she was being courted. Mr. Gaffin’s just an old family friend.” Julia wondered where on earth the girl got the notion that their headmistress wished to marry.

Although they have been spending a lot of time together. Julia pushed the thought out of her mind as little Bea shuffled to a stand, planting her pint-sized feet on Julia’s thighs. “Fammy fend!” She pointed a chubby finger at her older sister, Shelby.

“All right, Bea.” Julia plopped the toddler on the floor and swiveled her toward the small bed she shared with Shelby. “Time to straighten your bed.” Then Julia eyed the twins. “Charity, Grace, would you two virtuous girls fetch fresh water for the basin?”

Shelby pushed away from the bed, wrinkled her brow, and thrust her hand behind her as if to support her back—a perfect imitation of their middle-aged headmistress. “Now where did I put my spectacles?” Shelby clucked her tongue as she waddled forward.

Laughter spilled from the lips of the girls around the room. Encouraged, Shelby scratched her head. She plopped down on her bed then hopped up again as if surprised, pulling imaginary spectacles from under her rump. “Oh!” she squealed. “There they are.”

The laughter grew louder, and Julia pursed her lips together to smother the impulse to laugh along with them. She planted her fists on her hips. “That’s enough. All of you know what must be done before breakfast.” The girls’ laughter quieted to soft giggles hidden behind cupped palms as they scattered to do their chores.

Shelby lingered behind, her form now straight and her eyes pensive. “Maybe she forgot to tell you, Miss Cavanaugh.” The young girl gazed up at her. “The way they look at each other—it’s like my ma and pa used to, that’s all.”

Julia folded a stray sandy blond curl behind the girl’s ear. “Don’t worry, my sweet. If Mrs. Hamlin was getting married, we’d be the first to know.”

Julia hoped her own gaze didn’t reflect the sinking disquiet that draped her. Mr. Gaffin was a rich world traveler. If there was any truth to Shelby’s suspicion, Julia couldn’t imagine he’d let Mrs. Hamlin continue to work with orphans. Perhaps they’d get a new headmistress.

Or maybe the girls would be separated, moved to new homes…

If Mrs. Hamlin got married, all their lives would be radically changed. And if Julia had to leave the orphanage, she had no idea what she would do. Julia swept that painful thought away and steadied her gaze at Shelby. She couldn’t hide her true feelings from this girl. Julia took Shelby’s hand and answered as honestly as she could.

“I don’t think she’ll get married, but if she does, God will take care of us, like He always has.” Julia lifted her chin in a smile. “And really, Mrs. Hamlin may be forgetful, but no one could forget that. I sure wouldn’t.”

Ardy, a shy Swedish girl, removed her dirty sheets from a small bed and then approached, taking Julia’s hand. “Don’t ya think you’ll ever be gettin’ married?”

“Actually, there is something I’ve been wanting to tell you all….” Julia leaned forward, resting her hands on her knees.

The two girls eyed each other in surprise, and Shelby’s brow furrowed.

“Come closer.” Julia curled a finger, bidding them.

“What is it?” Shelby asked, her eyes glued to Julia.

The girls leaned in. “I’d like to tell you…that there’s a wonderful man who’s asked me to marry him!”

The squeals of two girls erupted, followed by the cheers of nearly three dozen others who’d been quietly listening from the stairwell.

“There is?” Shelby reached forward and squeezed Julia’s hand.

Julia let out a hefty sigh and giggled. “No, you sillies. Well, at least not yet. Someday. Maybe.”

Shelby pouted “But you said… ”

“I said I’d like to tell you I had a man. I’d sure like to, but of course since I don’t, I’m happy to stay here with all of you.”

The girls moaned.

The squeak of the front door down on the first floor of the Revolutionary War–era home-turned-orphanage drew their attention. They waited as Mrs. Hamlin’s familiar chortle filled the air, along with a bash and clang of items—hopefully food and supplies that she’d picked up.

“Julia!” Mrs. Hamlin yelped. “Julia, dear, where are you?”

“Coming.” Julia hurried down the stairs to help the older woman.

Julia neared the bottom of the steps and paused, trying to stifle a laugh at the sight of the twinkly-eyed woman sprawled flat on her back. Scattered boxes and bags covered the donated rug.

“Mrs. Hamlin! What on earth? Why didn’t you get a steward to help you?”

“Oh, I didn’t want to be a bother.” She cheerfully picked herself up. “I was in such a hurry to show you all what I’d bought. And to tell you my surprise. Such a wonderful surprise.” Julia eyed the boxes and noted they were from R.H. Macy & Co. More than a dozen boxes waited to be opened, and she couldn’t imagine the cost.

“I found just what the girls need, and on sale!” the headmistress exclaimed.

What they need is more food—vitamin drops, too—and maybe a few new schoolbooks. But Julia didn’t dare say it. And somehow God’s hand of providence always provided.

“New clothes, I gather. That is a surprise.”

“But only half of it, dear.” Mrs. Hamlin rubbed her palms expectantly. “I also must tell you my news. The best news an old widow could hope for.”

Julia followed Mrs. Hamlin’s gaze toward the idle youngsters who’d gathered on the staircase to watch. Her eyes locked with Shelby’s, then she quickly looked away. “News?” The muscles in Julia’s stomach tightened.

“Girls,” Julia shooed them away with a wave of her hand, “you know better than to eavesdrop. Off to chores with you. We’ll have breakfast soon.”

The girls started to scurry off, but Mrs. Hamlin halted them with her words.

“No, no,” her high-pitched voice hailed. “Come back. This news is for all of you.” They circled around her, and she tenderly patted their bobbing heads.

“What is it?” Julia wasn’t sure she’d ever seen Mrs. Hamlin’s cheeks so rosy or her eyes so bright.

“I’m getting married!”