Dream a Little Christmas Dream ~ celebrate

Xmas Orn 2013 (2)
My late husband Joseph and I picked this up in Key Largo and It’s hung on the tree since.

I start to dream just a tad more during the Christmas holiday season. For me it starts the day after Thanksgiving. To me, that day has never been Black Friday. It’s always been more of a Christmas Fantasy Friday. Although I love all the lights and tinsel (especially the lights), I don’t want to get caught up in it. I have to always remember the One who is the divine dream giver. He has a purpose and a plan for me and for you.

 

V Xmas Cookies 2 Go
My daughter Vicky’s Christmas cookie to go.

So, while I’m firmly aware of Who is the author of my dreams, I find myself leafing through pages of ladies magazines, looking for holiday food and Christmas decorating ideas. Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Journal is terrific for gathering ideas. I also surf the web for delish Christmas recipes. I started on my own low cal/carb style of eating (not a diet) and lost a substantial amount of weight over the last five years. And I’ve kept it off. So, I will indulge (somewhat) in holiday desserts and other high cal treats, but won’t overdo it. It takes some intentionality, but that’s my new buzz word: intentionality! That’s why I’m so thrilled at how easy it is to find truly healthy Christmas recipes that look and taste marvelous.

I also love Christmas decorating shows on the various cable networks. I love to watch instructions on how to make Christmas crafts. Love the old classical and the new innovative ways to deck the halls. I’m afraid I’ve become an HGTV and a DIY Network addict. I’ll have to go to 12-Step meetings in January. “Hello, my name is Nike, and I’m addicted to home improvement cable channels.”

It seems this year there is much less of a war against Christmas. Oh, there are still Scrooges and Grinches out there, and they take great pleasure at bringing all Christmas celebrants down a notch or two. Don’t let them. Pity them and pray for them. And then get on with Christmas cheer. Celebrate ground retaken.

I’m happy to revel in the Christmas spirit, you see because over two thousand years ago in the city of Bethlehem an angel burst forth with great joy announcing the Good News, “Peace on earth. Good will toward men.” [Luke 2:14] Jesus was born. He has decked the halls of my heart ever since the day I first invited Him in.

 

Jake and Me by Boo Riley ~ a spotlight

Children’s Books, Growing Up, Boys and Men

Me and Jake

I met Boo Riley (as David Arp) when he joined the American Christian Fiction Writers [ACFW] critique group I head. It seems as if that was six years ago, or so. Boo Riley is his Children’s Fiction/youth pen-name. I loved this novel and I love Boo Riley’s unique voice.

 

Question The Author:  Why did you write this novel?

Boo:  I met Anthony Turner on a drilling rig twelve years ago. Over the course of a few weeks as we became acquainted, I heard hints that caused me to wonder about his childhood. I finally asked and the truth shocked me. Forced labor, starvation, and physical and mental abuse … all at the hands of his father.

I wrote his story as it happened and couldn’t find a buyer. I rewrote it in a present-past present/past format that started with his wedding, long after he escaped. No takers. Then I thought about fiction with a hint at the abuse and redemption. Lots of redemption.  ME AND JAKE.

ME AND JAKE in a nutshell…

TY told his twin brother, Cameron, he felt like something would happen to change their lives. Little did he know how prophetic the statement would be and how soon it would come to pass. What seems like a series of coincidences are anything but, and what’s more amazing, Ty’s coon dog, Jake, might not be a dog at all.

Dave Arp 2011

 

Author Bio:

Boo (a/k/a David) was born in Arizona and raised in Texas where he began a career in the oil and gas drilling industry soon after graduating high school. Since then, he’s traveled the world to places like Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Malaysia, India, China, Mauritius, and Namibia.

He discovered his love for writing while working for Saudi Aramco, drilling wells throughout Saudi Arabia. He even learned to speak decent, albeit Texas accent-laced, Arabic.

Today, David splits his life evenly between home in Colorado with his wife of 30 years, Karen, and a deep-water drilling rig on the Gulf of Mexico.

Purchase ME AND JAKE on Amazon

Boo Riley/David Arp’s Blog

Boo Riley/David Arp on Facebook

 

COURTING DANGER ~ cover reveal

CD Cover

I’m SUPER excited to be bringing a crime wave to Florida…in fiction, of course. My beloved Florida. Here is the cover of COURTING DANGER!!!

A Katerina “Kat” Andruko/Dimitri Garmonin Novel             ~~~ Book One

COURTING DANGER in a nut shell…

~~Taut and compelling.g detective story, with a national security twist. Dry humor. Sweet, romance. Uplifting~~

Newly installed Pelican Beach, Florida detective Katerina “Kat” Andruko fears the prime suspect will get off in the murder of a teen with the help of the department’s forensics psychologist, a man she’s just started to trust.

This case has national security implications that gives former US Army Ranger, Dr. Dimitri Garmonin a chance to work with the FBI. The case could give him the chance to obtain the funds needed to expand his small Behavior Analysis Unit. He’s unmoved by the chic FBI agent sent to assist but is intrigued by Kat with whom he shares a Slavic heritage.

Kat and her partner detain two wrong suspects, giving the department negative press. The predator turns his anger on Kat, targeting her. Can Dimitri use his profiler skills to catch this killer before he hurts the woman he’s growing to love?

Purchase COURTING DANGER on Amazon

 

Reno On My New Condo ~ life surging forward!

I moved to Jacksonville from Brooklyn (NYC) over two years ago and have been looking (on and off) for a new home…and soon realized I was in need of a condo. I am through with yard work and hiring handymen to do outdoor upkeep on the house. Through, I say! Through! I finally found the perfect spot for me in the Old Mandarin neighborhood.

Hebrews 3:4 [New American Standard Bible] ~ For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.

IMG_2756

 

I decided on this condo in large part because of the beautiful tiled floors and fireplace. Of course the existing ceiling fan had to be swapped out for a new one, same thing with the small chandelier in the dining room area of the open living space.

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Ray, a friend of Christian author Dalyn Woods, is doing my reno. Here he’s working on the electric outlet in my daughter Victoria’s room.

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Another shot of Victoria’s room.

 

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The master bedroom after the first coat of paint. The bar stools for the counter off the kitchen were given a dark stain. We got them through Offer Up at $5 each.

When I take a breath after painting a door, or trim (Victoria has slathered white over the walls), I realized I’m a further step away from Brooklyn and my late-husband,, both physically and metaphorically. After two years, the bad days come much, much less frequently. Life does go on. The move is fun and exciting, but I can’t wait for the work to be done so we can settle in.

 

American Exceptionalism ~ a unique idea

Live Your DreamAmerica isn’t just a country with borders, it’s an idea. Not just a democratic republic and a political construct, but a philosophical ideal. America was born for the rights of the individual. In 1776 that was unheard of. In 2018, throughout most of the world that idea is verboten and the individuals who dare to think they should be freed are persecuted, even killed.

And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts. ~ Psalm 119:45 [New American Standard Bible, NASB]

America is on the forefront of individualism. Americans believe in the individual pursuit of happiness. We walk in that concept. And that idea actually has biblical roots. That life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are rights given by God. Furthermore, that no government has the right to take these rights away.

Culturally, Americans step out with boldness and reach for their dreams, they reach to find their purpose in life. In America, we ask young people what they would love doing in life. We ask them to imagine that and reach for it. That doesn’t happen in most countries on the globe, not even in 2018.

Traditionally, in Europe middle class and working class young people went into the profession their parents held. A baker’s son most always became a baker. Traditionally, the upper classes in Europe were college educated.

car, couple

As more and more young Europeans would pursue college careers they found it difficult to find a higher level job that utilized the degrees they’d earned. American middle class and working class college grads would hop into their second-hand car and boldly drive across the country to get the job they wanted. This is an example of American individualism we in the states often have taken for granted [but is not intended to minimize the difficulty American college grads have finding jobs]. In Europe, even today, working class youth tend to stay in the town or county in which their parents/family has lived for generations.

Beauty 2011-2
Beauty, my senior kittie and the biggest “mouth” of them all.

When I retired, I did my research, and found my place to live in my golden years. I drove by myself from Brooklyn to stay with friends in Jacksonville. I had every space in my SUV packed with large plastic bins which I put into storage. I made that trip (with the SUV stuffed) one more time. My husband and I rented a tiny place, but he passed away and I made the final trip down myself…with the SUB cargo space stuffed and the back seat with one small dog and three unhappy cats in carriers.

I am not unique. American retirees have moved in droves from the northern states to the warmer, southern states. In 2018 that trend is changing just a bit, many bold retirees are moving to Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota, Iowa, Virginia, Wyoming. Still, Florida remains numero uno and Arizona is high on the list. My point is that Americans get up and go at any age. That is part of the spirit of Americanism.

food truck

Local start-up companies are part of the spirit of American individualism. That’s not a put down of large box stores. In fact, I’m married to Walmart. Many retirees are. But my heart leaps for joy when I see an adventurous food truck with a new twist on finger-food. I eat at chain restaurants, like so many. But, I love the local hole-in-the-wall places. Love to talk to the woman who owns Bill’s Diner on the west side of Jacksonville. One day when her waitress had an emergency, she waited tables and cooked in the back. I’m addicted to Sonny’s BBQ. Can’t beat the home style cookin’ at Grammy’s. Clearing tables and working your way up to standing over a stove doesn’t require a pedigree. If you can cook, you’ll rise to chef. This to me is the real American dream…ordinary people just doing it.

Speaking of Americans getting up and doing it…what about all those ordinary folks who are renovating old, dilapidated houses with character and good bones, and then flipping them. They’re hauling refuse out of those old houses and knocking down walls. That is so exciting. The energy there is so American and it restores the history of neighborhoods as beautiful houses are restored.

There are so many possibilities for Americans. Just get out and do it!

 

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Sutter’s Landing by Betty Thomason Owens ~ the inspired pen

Sutters Landing

I write detective stories. Mostly that’s what I read and showcase. But every-once-in-awhile I come across a general fiction novel that’s so good, I have to promote it. SUTTER’S LANDING by Betty Thomason Owens is such a novel. Although it does have a measure of suspense, too.

 

Literature, Biblical Allegory

Still reeling from tragic losses, Connie and Annabelle Cross face life with their signature humor and grace, until fresh hope arrives on their doorstep.

In early spring of 1955, Annabelle Cross and her daughter-in-law, Connie have nearly made it through the first winter on their own. Then the skies open up as West Tennessee and much of the south endures one of the worst floods in history. As many of their neighbors endure losses due to the flooding, Annabelle and Connie sit tight on dry ground.

As spring gives way to summer, Annabelle begins to dread Connie’s upcoming marriage and removal to Sutter’s Landing. Though she’s happy to note the growing affection between Alton Wade and her daughter-in-law, their marriage means Annabelle will be on her own for the first time in her life.

Connie’s doubts increase when Alton’s bigoted brother Jensen uses every opportunity to drive a wedge between them. Is she doing the right thing? Did she move too quickly? Unexpected summer visitors and anticipation of a new neighbor provide diversion and open possibilities for both Annabelle and Connie.

EXCERPT:  Chapter One

Connie Cross sat straight up in bed. What was that sound? Slowly, her vision adjusted to the semidarkness of her room. Outside, but close—too close. A gunshot? She slipped out of bed, donned her robe and tiptoed through the next room where her mother-in-law Annabelle lay. A soft snore told her the woman still slept.

Quiet as possible, Connie opened the back door and stood looking through the screen. Chilled air curled around her ankles and sent a shiver up her spine. She pushed the screen door open. Outside, on the small back porch, she stood for a moment to get her bearings. A thick, white fog enveloped the surrounding area. She wrapped her arms around herself for warmth and peered into the mist.

One of the hens broke into a loud cackle, which wasn’t unusual, though a bit early in the morning for such a racket. Connie was just about to retreat to the warmth of her bed when she caught a movement out of the corner of her eye. She squinted in that direction, listening. Was someone approaching the house? An odd noise, like an animal snuffling, was the only sound. Her scalp prickled. She trembled, though not because of the cold. The sound moved closer.

Gradually, a shape emerged, advancing through the mist. Before she could make out what it was, there came a sharp whistle. Her back straightened as her nerves uncoiled. She recognized that whistle. The thing halted. Connie stepped forward. “Samson, is that you?”

The dog whined, and gave a soft yip. He trotted closer, nose to the ground, tail at attention.

A smile warming her insides, Connie peered into the mist. “Alton?” Their nearest neighbor, Alton Wade, was also her fiancé, though they hadn’t publicly announced it yet. A moment later, she made out his lanky frame, moving toward her.

“Samson, sit,” he said.

The dog sat.

Alton stopped below the porch, too far away for her to make out the face beneath the brim of his hat. Dressed in a loose jacket, he held a disjointed shotgun in the crook of his arm. “Did I wake you?” His voice was low, as though he was not yet fully awake.

Keenly aware of her state of undress, Connie kept both arms crossed over the front of her blue chenille robe as she crept closer to the edge of the porch. “You did. Was that a shot I heard?”

“Yes, it was. A fox was about to have herself a morning snack on Miss Annabelle’s chickens.”

Connie caught her breath. “Did you kill it?”

“Of course I did.”

Connie could hear the prideful grin on his face. She gave him an answering one. “Of course you did.”

 

Author Bio:

Betty T Owens

Betty Thomason Owens has been writing for almost thirty years. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group, and serves as vice-president/secretary of the Louisville area group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers. She also serves on the planning committee of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference. Her writing credits include the Legacy Series, and the southern historical Kinsman Redeemer Series (Book 1, Annabelle’s Ruth, is a 2016 Grace Award winner, and has recently been translated into Spanish). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM. When she’s not writing, Owens is a part-time bookkeeper, who loves to travel and spend time with her family.

Betty would like to invite you to her Facebook author page, Twitter, GoodReads, Pinterest, Instagram, Amazon Author Page.

And she posts weekly on her blog, Hello, Thursday Morning, found at LOVE IS THE LEGACY ~ BETTY THOMASON OWENS.

SUTTER’S LANDING @ AMAZON