Book Review All My Belongings by Cynthia Ruchti

I belong to a book club called Book Bub that offers me free or very reduced books every day. These kinds of offers are controversial I know because some writers feel all authors should be paid for all their work since it is, well work…hard work…to produce a book.

I feel it is a good way for a reader to sample a writer’s work. I realize many books offer a sample of, say, the first chapter, before you buy it, and I take advantage of these offers too. But often a first chapter is not enough to tell me what kind of books an author writes. For instance I’ve bought a book only to find that the next two chapters were weighed down and slowed almost to a stop in the action by a lot of back story, or suddenly introducing a lot of secondary characters and their subplots, etc, which is not to my taste It takes a whole book to really get to know an author’s work.

Through Book Bub I find and try many new authors I would not otherwise try, and then I often go on to buy more regular priced books by those authors.

One such author I recently discovered was Cynthia Ruchti and the book, while not a new book, was new to me. All My Belongings while not recently released, is certainly not “old” news. It copyrighted in 2014.

The story is about Jayne/Becca, a star witness in the trial that sent her father to jail for performing many “mercy-killings” Dr Krevorkian-style. This sucks Jayne into a huge scandal and so she legally changes her name to Becca and moves away…far away. She reinvents herself and her life. But she is at a disadvantage in that she can’t use her social insurance number or any credit cards since her father has contacts who are looking for her. She is also deeply shamed by her father’s actions and well aware that people will assume “like-father-like-daughter.”

Jayne’s friend has a nephew who needs help with his aging mother. So Jayne leaves her old life, and all her belongings, behind.

Isaac only knows Jayne as Becca, and he is strongly attracted to her. But Becca has trouble keeping her back story straight, and she finds guilt and shame are hard to slough off.

Isaac has issues of his own; his own questions about belonging.

Isaac and Becca begin to find love and belonging with each other and there is hope for a good future…only to have it shattered when Isaac’s mother dies and Becca is suspect number one. How will Becca prove her innocence? And is there any hope for Becca and Isaac to find love and belonging in a harsh world?

Cynthia Ruchti has a lyrical prose style that I like and a dry wit that often takes the reader by surprise.

This is an inspirational story with a surprise ending and a message of hope. I enjoyed this story very much and I really like Cynthia’s author voice, her almost poetic prose.

Comments are welcome

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So Kiss Me

Song of Solomon 1:1-4

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine,
your anointing oils are fragrant,
your name is perfume poured out;
therefore the maidens love you.

Draw me after you, let us make haste.
The king has brought me into his chambers.
We will exult and rejoice in you;
we will extol your love more than wine;
rightly do they love you

This is not an edgy romance novel. This is the Bible.

S and J Romance

What kind of God invents and creates sexual reproduction. Genesis said God created man and woman and they were created in His own image, and it was good. I infer that God has both male and female within his identity. I also have to infer, from scripture as well as creation, that the Creator has a special place in all our lives for…lets say it…sex.

But not just sex. Not sexual intercourse by itself. God created us to experience a powerful feeling of connection during and after making love. We come together, a man and wife, and I believe God’s will is that we have two focuses; 1. The pleasure of our partner, and 2. Our own pleasure.

Now this may fall under the heading of too much information but I’m not afraid to say my husband and I have beautiful lovemaking even though we are in our sixties and no longer perfectly beautiful to look at. When I make love to my hubby I am just swamped, immersed in feelings of love for him. And the feelings last for about three to four days afterwards. Not that I don’t feel love for Hubby when we have not made love, but that making love turns up the volume like nothing else does. I notice he also is more affectionate for a while after.

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I believe God has created sexual intercourse [to put it clinically] and all the activities around it…foreplay, pleasuring one another, after-glow and affection, to not only show love for one another, but to blow on the embers of our love and feed the fire.

Okay, you’re likely thinking, I can see how it shows love to give your partner pleasure but how does it show love to seek pleasure?

I believe seeking one’s own pleasure [as long as it’s not at the expense of our partner] during lovemaking is helping your partner to feel those waves of love, to feel like he/she is giving you something precious. I’ve asked hubby about it and he says giving me pleasure makes him feel really good. And I know when I give him pleasure it really fills my love tank, so to speak.

And it’s not just about sexual intercourse, it’s about all affection, although I do believe sexual relations, making love, is really important in a marriage. It’s about all the little and big ways we show the other person we love them and ways we give to them in love. My Hubby shows love by doing things for me. Sometimes just little things, but they add up. He likes getting me bottles of water when we are going to bed [I need to keep several bottles beside my bed for through the night]. He is also my willing chauffeur [I can’t drive myself due to quite significant vertigo] and going on errands to get things for me. He likes to do it. And it makes me feel loved. I like giving affection, touches, hugs, etc. I also like to give gifts, even just little ones, like a bag of licorice, or a new shirt. We learn to read each other’s love language.

Loving our spouse includes learning to live with the little things that make crazy, wild lovemaking either a thing of the past, or difficult to do. eg Arthritis. Fibromyalgia. Learning to be down to earth and say, “I can’t do that anymore, honey.” Or, “I’m too stiff and painful, we need to try another way.”  Learning to laugh at ourselves. But most of all realizing God wants us to make love. [He created the clitoris which has one purpose…intense pleasure.]

Song of Solomon 1:12

While the king was on his couch,
my nard gave forth its fragrance.
13 My beloved is to me a bag of myrrh
that lies between my breasts.

We might not use the same words and metaphors to describe our love, but Song of Solomon gives us a picture of passionate love. Yes, it’s referring, in metaphorical language, to our relationship with Jesus, but if we don’t have the literal stuff going on in our lives it’s hard to understand the extravagant love, the passion Jesus feels for us.

Song of Solomon 4:1-5

How beautiful you are, my love,
how very beautiful!
Your eyes are doves
behind your veil.
Your hair is like a flock of goats,
moving down the slopes of Gilead.
Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes
that have come up from the washing,
all of which bear twins,
and not one among them is bereaved.
Your lips are like a crimson thread,
and your mouth is lovely.
Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate
behind your veil.
Your neck is like the tower of David,
built in courses;
on it hang a thousand bucklers,
all of them shields of warriors.
Your two breasts are like two fawns,
twins of a gazelle,
that feed among the lilies.

God blesses Hubby and me through our physical lovemaking, he blesses us not just with intense physical pleasure, but with waves of love and joy in the other person, and for God who created such love and joy.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject. leave a comment, please.

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Runner Up For Contest

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Several months ago I entered the contest below. It is part of the Write Canada 2016 Conference. I had almost forgotten I’d entered the first three chapters of my romance novel [working title] Love In The Storm, so imagine my delight to open my email and discover the notification posted below.

The In The Beginning contest is designed for unpublished writers.

The Grand Prize winner receives a choice of mentoring sessions with a professional or free registration to Write Canada, a prize worth more than $500. This national event sponsored by The Word Guild is Canada’s largest Christian writers’ conference.
Runners up will receive a complimentary 1 year membership for The Word Guild.
The Grand Prize winner and the runners up of these contests will be recognized at the 2016 Word Awards gala. The gala dinner will be held at the end of Write Canada’s 26th annual conference, June 23-25 at Holiday Inn at Yorkdale. Conference keynote speaker is Davis Bunn internationally-acclaimed author, teacher and screenwriter.
Fresh Ink Winners
University Category
Grand Prize Winner: Carolyn Felker of Brantford, Ont. for The Desert’s Secrets (first three chapters)

First Three Chapters Runner up:

Heather Shore of Milton, Ont. for Sands of Kemet

First 15 pages of a Short Script Runner up:

Nicole Arnt of St. Catharines, Ont. for How About L for Love

Poem Runner up:
Mike Boninkowsky of Melancthon, Ont. for Daughter Songs

Short Story Runner up:
Anna-Marina Giurin of Chatham, Ont. for The Music of Life

High School Category
Grand Prize Winner:
Lindsay Evans from Trenton, Ont. for Forever Love (poem)
In The Beginning Winners
Grand Prize Winner:

Ellen Hooge of Calgary, Alta for Ruth (first three chapters)

First Three Chapters runner up:

Diana Holvik of Guelph, Ont. for Love in the Storm

Non-fiction short piece runner up:

Beckie Evans of Abbotsford, B.C. for I did learn something

Short story runner up:
Annie Carpenter of London, Ont. for Livvy & the Queen Be

I feel both on top of the world yet strangely humbled. I feel I have been given my writing talent by God [not that that means I don’t have to work my aspidistra off…I did, and do, and still have to do]

I am going to be attending both the Write Canada 2016 conference and the Awards dinner. I am so looking forward to the whole event which starts the evening of Thursday, June 23 and ends Saturday evening. This year it’s in Yorkdale at the Holiday Inn, which happens to be the same hotel Hubby and I spent our wedding night [in 1975]

I have been to Write Canada in previous years. I always learn tons and make new friends and connections [there’s the connections factor again]

Photo from Pinterest

Photo from Pinterest

If you are planning to attend this year I look forward to seeing you…if not, I’ll miss seeing you. Please comment here, join or start the conversation.

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Romance. Relationships. Community.

Romance. In my world Romance is about connections. Relationships.

When I read romance I look for stories that are about relationships, connections on all levels.

Family Reunion

Family Reunion

I love romance stories that are not just about a couple finding their HEA [Happy Ever After] but about all the relationships and connections in the protagonists’ lives. So it’s about Jack meeting Jane, feeling the sparks, and feeling the desire to pursue something with her. But it’s also about Jane’s mother fighting cancer. And Jack’s struggles with the pain he experienced when his previous girlfriend suddenly dumped him on the day Jack was going to propose.

It’s about how Jane was abused by her stepfather and how now she feels anxiety and fear when a man touches her. And at the thought of getting married and having sex. Yet, Jane wants that. She wants to be in Jack’s arms, to feel the thrill of his love. She is pulled in two different directions.

And Jack’s family are there, in the picture. His mother, wanting him to get married, give her some grandbabies. He wants that too. But at the thought of being vulnerable his heart pulls back, closes up, like certain flowers do at dusk.

Jane has a male friend whom she can and does trust, so she knows not all men are nasty like her stepfather. But getting head and heart on the same page seems impossible. When Jack touches her she feels a thrill, but almost immediately there is aversion. How is she ever going to overcome it?

Jack has sisters that he knows would never betray their men, so he knows in his head that not all women are as hard as his ex. [And maybe he’ll come to find out that his ex wasn’t hard, she just saw their relationship in a different light.]

Through prayer perhaps, if this is an inspirational [Christian] romance, Jack and Jane find inner healing. I even find prayer and trusting God in a lot of secular romances.

In the romances I like to read [and write] it’s not just about Jack and Jane but about their families, their communities. Both Jack and Jane have needs and parts of themselves that can’t be met by a romantic partner, but they each need others to fill some of their needs, otherwise their romance has too much pressure on it.

And although I’m the first to say the sexual aspect of romance is very important, it’s only part of their relationship. Family and friends are vitally important.

I will blog more about romance and relationship down the road.

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Ruthless Trust by Brennan Manning

A few days ago I began reading “Ruthless Trust” by Brennan Manning. Years ago I read The Ragamuffin Gospel.

Brennan Manning is a fantastic wordsmith. His lyrical prose reaches in and reveals my deep pains, desires, foolishness, fears. And though his writing pierces to my deeper issues he encourages me.

About two weeks ago God began “speaking” to me in my heart [Christian jargon for feelings and thoughts that seem to be directed by God], about my fears and trust. I have a tendency to have a great prayer life for a few days, weeks, sometimes a couple of months, but then invariably I drift away from Him. My days get busy, or too filled with pain and fatigue [Fibromyalgia] and my prayers gradually become rote and superficial. I get to the point where I come to God in my prayer time and find myself…blank. Brain frozen. I stumble… “Lord, uh, what do I pray?”

I repent of my drifting and superficiality and start again. I feel guilty that I do this, not once, but over and over. I ask God to “fix” me, “crucify” the part of me that does this. And he does but the “fix-up” doesn’t seem to last. Lord what is wrong with me? I am like Paul in Romans 7, doing the things I don’t want to do, and not doing the things I want to do. Paul says in Romans 7:24, “What a wretched person I am…”

And I do feel wretched…guilty, stupid, weak, sinful…you name it. I beat myself up. I repent and, as my mother used to say, turn over a new leaf. I know when I confess my sins to God He is faithful and forgives me and cleanses me from all unrighteousness. [1 John 1:9]. So I start afresh, again. But underneath there is the constant fear that I will drift again. Once again I become caught up in my own busyness and pain, etc. Self-centered instead of God-centered.

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I feel that God “said” to me about two weeks ago, “Your fear of yourself is tripping you up. You want to worship Me, pray with a clear conscience and a pure heart, but underneath there is always this anxiety and fear that you will trip and fall again. And that means you are being performance-oriented.” You can’t be God-centered and performance-oriented at the same time. Because performance is about yourself. Your performance. And it is also a form of Law, and in Romans 8, right after Paul says, “What a wretched person I am,” he goes on the say, “…there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because the law of the [Holy] Spirit who gives life has set you free.” Romans 8:1-2 [Not free to be uncaring, “sinful,” but free to dance and sing and make mistakes while trying to be God-centered.]

I felt as if the Holy Spirit said to me; “Trust in Me for everything you do, including praying, and even loving Me and other people.” I want to love God with all my heart, ie without getting distracted or discouraged. But it seems beyond my ability. Partly because i want to see measurable results. And how do you measure love?

So God led me to Brennan Manning’s book. Brennan Manning speaks of outrageous trust. No matter what is going on in our lives and bodies. Much easier said than done. So then I have to ask God to help me to completely trust Him. And HallaeluYah, He does.

I am in Chapter Three of Ruthless Trust. I will blog more about it later

Do you struggle with trust? Performance anxieties? I’d love to hear from you. Please comment below.

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