"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." - Walt Disney

Saturday, July 28, 2018

July Reads

This month has been so uncontrollably busy for me. I've been attending some rigorous training to become an adjunct professor for the University of Texas. Career changes, schedule changes, lifestyle changes...it's all been fairly overwhelming.

However, I refused to give up my reading time. I was lucky enough to collect some great reads this month and wanted to share a few.

First, un-afraid by Carey Scott - I absolutely loved her previous book - un-common - and couldn't wait to devour this one.

As women, we struggle to feel like we’re good enough because we are bombarded daily with messages that whisper, “Who you are is not okay.”
We live in a world that tells us we have to look a certain way, live a certain lifestyle, have husbands who fit a certain mold, and have children that excel in every area of their lives. And rather than thrive in the life we have, we strive to create an existence that impresses others. This impossible treadmill leaves us with deep discontentment and a joyless existence.

God doesn’t apologize for how He created us. And while we’re always being molded by our Creator, it’s only to shape us for the calling on our life—not so we can fit into a world we were never meant to: “Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete. Love others well, and don’t hide behind a mask; love authentically” (Romans 12:2, 9).

What if we had the confidence to shed our fears and be who God created us to be—stumbles, fumbles, and all—relishing who we are rather than conforming to the world? Using an acrostic for the word AUTHENTIC, author Carey Scott unpacks 9 ways we can find the confidence we need to shine with fearless authenticity:

1. Accept Your Awesomeness
2. Unearth the Untruths
3. Try Loving Everyone
4. Hold on to Hope
5. Extend Forgiveness
6. Never Shrink Back
7. Trample the Negatives
8. Invest in Community
9. Camp in the Word of God

Let’s link arms and commit to living authentic lives. . .together. Are you ready?

Secondly, I previously enjoyed another book in the "My Heart Belongs" series and since this one is set so near to my current home, I was highly intrigued by it's description.

Journey now to Galveston, Texas, of 1880...
Where is Mrs. Smith’s granddaughter?  Who is the mysterious Mrs. Smith?
Pinkerton agent Jonah Cahill is hired by the mysterious widow to find her lost granddaughter, rumored to be living in Galveston, Texas. Though Jonah prefers to travel alone, Mrs. Smith insists that she and her companion accompany him. Madeline Latour, investigative reporter, has been acting as Mrs. Smith’s assistant for several months, and Madeline will not allow anyone—even a Pinkerton agent—to ruin the story of a lifetime. The pair forges an uneasy truce as the investigation grows dangerous.

Is there a bigger story beyond a missing girl to be revealed?

When the third and fourth books of the "Daughters of the Mayflower" series came out, I scooped them up. I enjoyed the second installment by Y'Barbo, and I've also liked two of Michelle Griep's previous books. So I knew I had to try this third book in the series.

Mercy Lytton, a scout with keen eyesight raised among the Mohawks, and Elias Dubois, a condemned traitor working both sides of the conflict, must join together to get a shipment of gold safely into British hands.

A War-Torn Countryside Is No Place for a Lady
Mercy Lytton is a lady like none other. Raised amongst the Mohawks, she straddles two cultures, yet each are united in one cause. . .to defeat the French. Born with a rare gift of unusually keen eyesight, she is chosen as a scout to accompany a team of men on a dangerous mission. Yet it is not her life that is threatened. It is her heart.  Condemned as a traitor, Elias Dubois faces the gallows. At the last minute, he is offered his freedom if he consents to accompany a stolen shipment of French gold to a nearby fort—but he is the one they stole it from in the first place. It turns out that the real thief is the beguiling woman, Mercy Lytton, for she steals his every waking thought.   Can love survive divided loyalties in a backcountry wilderness?

And the fourth in the series is written by Kimberley Woodhouse. I was extremely excited about this one as I have a soft spot for patriotic plots.

Faith Jackson and Matthew Weber are both working covertly to aid the Patriot cause. But will they be willing to sacrifice all for their fledgling country?
A brand new series for fans of all things related to history, romance, adventure, faith, and family trees.

Spies Work Together for the Patriot Cause
Faith Jackson is a wealthy widow, friend of George Washington, and staunch supporter of the Patriot cause. Matthew Weber is friends with both Ben Franklin and his son William, who increasingly differ in their political views; and Matthew finds himself privy to information on both sides of the conflict. When a message needs to get to a spy among the Loyalists, Faith bravely steps up and in turn meets Matthew Weber. Suddenly she believes she could love again. But someone else has his eye on the Faith she portrays in elite social circles. What will Matthew and Faith have to sacrifice for the sake of their fledgling country?

I received a complimentary copy of each of these books from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Have you read any of these books, or others, by these authors? What did you think of them? Do you have any great reading recommendations?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Presidential Library Visit

Confession time: I totally geeked out today. Working on a college campus in the state capital has a lot of drawbacks, but it also has a lot of advantages.

I absolutely immersed myself in one of those advantages today. I visited the Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum. It's just one block from the University of Texas stadium in Austin. You can visit the website here.

I spent the morning and part of the afternoon pouring through archives. I had the opportunity to review letters written to the Presidential cabinet, and see the responses sent back. When I say I reviewed them, please remember this was the 60's - before computers. These are the ACTUAL physical letters and studies hand written or typed by citizens and staff. I could have spent days here!

The last part of the afternoon, before the library closed at 5, I spent perusing the museum. So many beautiful, and disturbing, relics of that part of our history. I saw everything from the President's (Oval) and First Lady's offices to memorabilia from the Civil Rights and Gender Equality  movements. I absolutely want to go back when I have more time!

I'm ashamed to say this is the first Presidential Library I have ever visited. I think everyone should visit one. Regardless of how you feel about a particular party, issue, or individual, it's so very interesting and moving to review the struggles we have gone through as a nation.

Have you visited a Presidential Library? If so, which one, and what was your favorite part?

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Writing Games

It's hard to believe we are already a week into July. This whole year is flying by so fast! 

Since Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, we've had so many living, career, and lifestyle milestones and changes that some things are a blur. I feel so blessed to have a family I adore, and career options that keep me happy and excited - most of the time.

July also marks the publication of an article I wrote several months ago for Southern Writer's magazine. "Writing Games" is the result of a visit to an escape game complex, and interviews with creators. The highly detailed story lines created for some of these games can rival many mystery, scifi, and historical books on the market. Thanks to the expanding market of the escape craze, a whole new genre of writing possibilities is now open to writers. For more information, or to read the article, check out the 7th Anniversary issue of  Southern Writers Magazine

How is your summer progressing? Are you writing happily? Any good reads you suggest?

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy 4th of July!

Today the United States of America celebrates our Independence Day.

This is my dad at 18. We have a family full of men who have served in various branches of the military.

Thank you to all of the men and women who have served our country in ANY way. You are appreciated more than you think.

I'm spending some time being lazy and celebrating with family and friends. I hope you are all able to do the same.

Are you reading any great books this week?

Monday, July 2, 2018

IWSG: Writing Goals

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs. You can also join us on twitter using the hashtag #IWSG, or on the Facebook page.

Now, IWSG hosts have changed up the format in an effort to make it more fun and interactive.Every month, they will announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say. 

Don’t forget to visit others that day to see their answers. Want to join, or learn more? Visit our - Sign-up List.

JULY QUESTION: What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

MY ANSWER: Once upon a time I wanted to be a world traveling journalist. Then I worked with several newspapers and decided that was not the full-time job for me. Then, I wanted to write the great American Nonfiction book, but quickly realized I enjoy fiction writing just as much. Now, I enjoy sharing my love of reading and writing with others - as a teacher of both high school and college classes. I also enjoy writing shorter works such as articles, poetry, and short stories while encouraging my students with their own writing goals.

What are your goals, and how have they changed over time?