Life Should Come With A Crash Helmet

Life can be hard. Difficult. We think we have it all under control and around the next corner…bam! we run into a rhinoceros. Illness. Job loss. Death of a loved one. A relationship that suddenly crashes on the rocks. We don’t even know how to pray.

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Picture above and below; my granddaughters

God is there, around the next corner, along with the rhinoceros and the lions. The alligators in the swamp. I don’t know about you, but for some reason, even though I know better, I always try to fix things myself, without asking God for help. That in itself is a falling down. I fall down in my ability or willingness to turn to God, to trust him. Which turns my crash into a double whammy. When my daughter was about 2 or 3 I would try to help her with, say, her buttons, or zipper, or shoes. “No!” she said. “Self.” Meaning I want to do it by myself. My son was the same.

Sometimes this self-reliance had disastrous consequences, like, for instance, when my son wanted to go down the tall slide [in those days they were straight, polished metal, very fast, with sand at the bottom]. He chose to go down on his belly, despite my attempt to discourage it. He streaked down the slide and shot off the end and face-first into the sand. Sand up his nose, in his mouth, between his teeth. in his eyes. He screamed and cried which helped to wash all the sand out but it was all a mess for a while.

Kids 10 10 28 025

Even though my son seemed to be on his own, I was right there. I tried to catch him but he avoided me. But despite his insisting he didn’t need me I was right there. I picked him up and wiped his face, kissed him better, did all that was needed to set him on his feet again.

Not all our crashes are because we resisted God. Sometimes it’s just how life plays out. Life on Earth is imperfect. If it wasn’t, if it was perfect, there would be no need of heaven. Even if our crashes are because someone else or something else crashed into our lives, God/Jesus is still here with us, picking us up, dusting us off, fixing things, walking with us through the valleys of death and trouble.

Psalm 118:13-14; I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. 

I’d love to hear your comments. How has God helped you, or walked with you when you have stumbled and fallen?

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The Making of Book Covers

Now that my novel Love In The Storm is with an agent I’ve been thinking about book covers. [Although my book is a long way from that stage yet…if it is even accepted].

Image by Griffinstorm

Image by Griffinstorm

image by Griffinstorm

I confess I first look at a book based on a cover. I have tried not to do this but I am a very visual person and I respond to things emotionally before my intellect kicks in. So a book cover either grabs me, or it doesn’t.

When your book is on a book shelf at a big book store like Chapters Indigo along with a few hundred other books, it’s virtually impossible for a browsing shopper to pick your book based on something other than how the cover grabs them. A person just doesn’t have time to read every back cover blurb.

If you’re browsing through I guess you may browse by subject and then pick from a bunch of books listed but that doesn’t narrow the field enough, [more than 100 pages for “Christian Romance”; everything from Amish to Cowboy to Suspense and more] so again, you’re not going to have time or the inclination to read every blurb so you’re going to stop and take a second glance at a book that appeals visually and emotionally. Or you might avoid a book because of its cover. I don’t usually go for the kind of romance that features a half naked man on the front because it implies there will be explicit sex in the story [unless there is a historical reason for the man to be half naked.]

Reading Steve Laube’s  blog post this morning [The Work of A Cover Designer; see link below] led me to check out some videos on You Tube about creating book covers. The first place I looked at was DogEaredDesign [link below]. I was interested to note that this cover design company has created a lot of covers I really like. For me the use of light in the cover really influences me. By that I mean having a light focal point in the picture. Other influences are; softness and/or drama. I don’t want over the top drama but I like to see something happening on a cover, the suggestion of action. Some things just push a certain button, for instance, babies, puppies, children. I love covers that feature an interesting setting in the background.


SmokeClears 2.jpg


FYI, all three of these books are Christian

Below are some links to videos of creating covers, and/or photo shoots for covers

Cover photo shoot for

Christian romance



Steve Laube’s  blog post The Work of A Cover Designer


How about you. What influences your choice of a book?

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Book Review; Shadow of a Butterfly by J A Menzies

Third in the Ryan and Manziuk series by J A Menzies, Shadow of a Butterfly; The Case of a Harmless Old Woman, (see links below) is a great mystery read that will keep you turning the pages. This novel combines elements of both cozy mystery and police procedural. Menzies’  quirky characters and the ever present question of who-dunnit kept me reading.

Shadow of a Butterfly: The Case of the Harmless Old Woman (The Manziuk and Ryan Mysteries Book 3) by [Menzies, J. A.]

The setting is a retirement community in Toronto for wealthy seniors, including one octogenarian who recently married a handsome “boy-toy” in his early 40s. The story weaves characters’ quirks, problems and past secrets, some dark as well as astonishing, for a very enjoyable read. I especially related to it because I am a retired registered nurse who worked in both a retirement home and nursing homes. There is a difference between a retirement community and a nursing home but  some aspects are very similar. Nurses often get caught in the middle and Menzies portrays that well in Butterfly.

The series, which includes Shaded Light; The Case of the Tactless Trophy Wife, and Glitter of Diamonds; The Case of the Reckless Radio Host, features Detective Inspector Paul Manziuk who is older with lots of experience, and Constable Detective Jacqueline Ryan, a younger black woman (and the tension between the two). Manzuik has some old-school thinking he struggles to overcome, and Ryan expects to go halves in everything form actively interviewing suspects to driving their car. Both characters actually have an arc, character growth, which often isn’t the case in a series.

The characters and plots of all three books are complex (but not necessarily hard to follow) and interesting, but I think Butterfly is my favourite. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like the other two. It just means I’d give Shaded Light maybe 4 stars, Glitter maybe 4 1/2 stars, and Butterfly 5 stars. For us romance lovers, there is even some romance in each book.

J A Menzies is a Canadian Writer Who Is Christian [the styling of The Word Guild, which she co-founded (as NJ Lindquist) in 2002 together with Wendy Elaine Nelles]

So grab a copy of Shadow of a Butterfly and start reading…but not too late at night or you’ll be reading all night. :)

I welcome comments.

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Back To School Memories

So all the kids are getting ready to go back to school. (Some may already have gone back to school) I thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane regarding our own experiences with Back-to-School

Image result for pencil and paper

image courtesy of Google Images

  1. Getting new clothes and shoes. That was always the fun part. My mom made most of my dresses until I was about twelve. She also knitted almost all my sweaters and cardigans. And in those days my sweaters were real wool. No hoodies back then.  I loved the clothes Mom made. It was like wearing love. In the winter we girls wore stockings held up by garter belts [utilitarian white ones, not the kind you see in Love shops]. The invention of pantyhose was a great step for womankind.
  2. Can any of us forget the smell of new pencils and erasers? Crayons? And we frequently go fresh new coloured pencils made by Laurentian.
  3. Brand new exercise books, lined paper, binders, etc. Virgin paper. Pencils not yet chewed with nice fresh erasers on them. It always made me feel like I was (as Mom so often said) turning over a new leaf. It was a fresh start, a new chance to do better. When I was in elementary school [in Canada] we went to Kresge’s for whatever was not supplied by the school [the elementary schools back then supplied exercise books, usually thin books about 8 inches by 8 inches, yellow HB pencils with an eraser on the end. We had to buy our own rulers, math sets, slide rules [remember slide rules folks?] ballpoint pens, and binders and paper] In high school we had to buy all our supplies.
  4. Dress codes. No jeans. No shorts or sandals. Girls wore only dresses and skirts. In the winter if it was really cold (in the older grades when we no longer wore snow pants) we girls wore slacks under our dresses and took them off in the washroom.  Those were the days of knee socks and plain canvas sneakers. Boys wore black canvas high-tops. No high tech running shoes then.
  5. Gym class [in elementary school]. We girls had ridiculous one-piece navy rompers we had to wear. Ugh. We played a modified game of “bowling.” The pins were empty bleach (usually Javex) bottles and we used basketballs. We lined up in teams on one side of the gym and the pins were set up on the opposite side. We had to bowl the basketball and hopefully knock over all the pins.
  6. In the warm months teachers found any reason to take us outside. We’d have story and oral reading hour out on the grass under a tree. We had gym outdoors…eg rounders softball aka “One-Up.” We’d take walks up to a park or a local creek for field-trips to study the flora and fauna.
  7. Walking to school. We had to hoof it. Parents seldom gave kids rides. At age five I had to walk about a mile and a quarter to school. An older neighbour kid was supposed to accompany me but she ran off as soon as we were out of sight of the house. I trudged on by myself.
  8. Fountain pens. In about grade three we learned cursive writing with pencils. When we became proficient enough we could use a ballpoint pen [but not before about grade four]. Then in about grade six, we got to use fountain pens if we could do so without making blots and if we could keep our writing legible. Writing with a fountain pen is more difficult than a ballpoint. I could seldom do it nicely enough. Oh and of course we had blotting paper.
  9. Mimeographs. We didn’t have photocopiers. Xerox had not invented them yet. And even after businesses were using Xerox machines schools still used the old technology. One wrote or drew on a special paper that had a duplicate underneath. Coloured ink was transferred to the back of the page being written on. When finished you then detached the written-on sheet and placed it on the drum of the mimeograph machine [my memory of exactly how we did this is fuzzy.] Then the drum was rotated through a solution and ink was transferred to x-number of fresh pages. Presto, copies. But the number of copies was pretty limited. However one could transfer hand-drawings in several colours. There was red, blue, green and I think purple. The mimeographs had a distinct chemical smell. [I liked the smell]
  10. Real wooden desks. You could carve your initials in it but if you got caught you were severely punished.
  11. Mental arithmetic. We had to put away all our books, pens, pencils, paper. The teacher would call out an arithmetic equation or problem and we had to do all our computing in our heads. And no counting on fingers. There was a limited time to answer the problem out loud [after putting your hand up] I was never good at this. [It made me mental]
  12. Parsing and diagramming sentences on the blackboard. I was good at this and actually liked it which made me a freak to most of the other pupils [there’s an old word for you. Pupils].
  13. Prayers and Bible readings and classes. At the beginning of each day we sang the national anthem [the old version] and then said the Lord’s Prayer together. On two days a week we had a Bible teacher [a woman] come in and teach us about a Bible event for an hour. We got to colour and or draw pictures relevant to the story. I was not a Christian in those days but I loved Bible stories. This was in mainstream public school, not Catholic school.
  14. Recess. Playing on the monkey bars, etc. All monkey bars and slides, etc were metal. We girls tucked our dresses into the elastic legs of our panties so we could hang upside down and still be modest. When I was small the swings were metal chains and wooden seats. Later we had swings with the canvas and rubber seats. We dared each other to go so high the swings would hit the point where the chains went slack, then after a brief drop snapped taut again. Crazy fun. Also we competed to see how high the swing would be when we jumped off. And at recess there was no such thing as “no contact.” We played tag, wrestled, dumped snow down each other’s backs [usually boys against girls], stole each other’s hats and played “monkey-in-the-middle” with them. Not always fun. Great fun was had on the huge pile of snow created by the snowplow. The teachers were there only to pick up the pieces, wipe away blood, or break up particularly bad fights.
  15. Typing Class [high school]. There were about 30 or 35 large, noisy, clunky electric typewriters in the class. When we were all typing it was like listening to a cavalry charge [with the zip-ding! of all the carriage returns adding to the din]. We had to type to music, an exercise disliked by almost all the class. I could not keep up and dropped out. I have always regretted not persevering.
  16. Current Events. We had to find a news article in the paper and cut it out and bring it to school and say a few words about it. When I was in grade 8 Pierre Trudeau ran for leadership of the Liberal party in Canada [when then Prime Minister John B Pearson stepped down]. As a class we followed the campaigning and the voting, etc. We had to write about it, debate about it, and defend why we thought Pierre Trudeau or John Turner, Paul Hellyer or others might win or not win. Pierre Trudeau was considered too young [he was the youngest Prime Minister to date] and too radical. Nevertheless he had charisma and appealed to younger generation.


There are other memories but that’s enough for now. What memories do you have of going back to school. Please drop a line [or several] in the comments.

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What Am I Reading?

Many authors and writers post about what they are currently reading. I have decided to do that here, partly just to reveal a little more of myself to all of my fans [lol], and partly because I just got back from a week’s vacation with my daughter and her large family and, because of my Fibromyalgia, I am wiped out and will take a few days to recover.

I am re-reading Cathy Marie Hake’s Fancy Pants. I enjoy Cathy Marie’s novels and this is one of my favorites. [for links, see end of post]

Fancy Pants (Only In Gooding Book #1) by [Hake, Cathy Marie]

It’s just a fun story, but it also shows me, really well, a male and female protagonist struggling to overcome their own inner and outer obstacles. Like any good romance it has the Cute Meet…and this one is very cute. It has them immediately at odds with each other, yet there are hints of the attraction to come. I can relate to both the male protagonist [Tim] and the female [Sydney]. It’s also a great story to study from a writer’s point of view. This is a well paced, slightly edgy Inspirational [Christian] Romance

I also just finished reading Runaway Heart, by Amity Lassiter.

Runaway Heart: The Baylors #1 (Hearts of Three Rivers) by [Lassiter, Amity]

This is a Romance, but not Inspirational or Christian. I read secular romances fairly regularly because it helps me to understand who part of my [hopefully] audience will be. I don’t want to just “preach to the choir.'” I’d love to have non-Christians read my books and my blog and learn about God and godly romance. So, in order to understand their world and their thinking and values, I read the books. There is swearing and sexual content in this story. I take it in stride, aware that this is who people are. God loves us all, even if He does not love all that we do. Another reason I read secular romance is that it’s frequently free on Book Bub. That doesn’t mean I read all of the offerings. If there is casual sex without any commitment and/or if there is a lot of swearing, especially taking the Lord’s Name in vain, I pass. I enjoyed Runaway Heart. It has a good plot and characters I can relate to and love.

The Texan's Second Chance

Just finished The Texan’s Second Chance by Allie Pleiter. This is one of Harlequin’s Love Inspired’s August 2016 offerings. Allie Pleiter is one of my favorite authors. In this Romance Witt Buckton is starting up a foodtruck business featuring the great bison-burgers from Blue Thorn Ranch. Witt has a number of personal obstacles to get over as well as the competition…literally…for best foodtruck business. He teams up with, and locks horns with, Jana Powers the chef he hires to put his foodtruck business on the cutting edge. There is a bad guy in this story and he throws a wrench into Witt’s and Jana’s business. Allie Pleiter has great pacing with sweet moments intermingled with action.

Another Harlequin Inspired for August 2016 is Jean C. Gordon’s The Bachelor’s Sweetheart. 

The Bachelor's Sweetheart

Here is another Harlequin author who gets the pacing right, characterization and world-creating right. Jean has been writing stories based in Hazardtown and Paradox Lake for quite a while now. And she’s still getting it right.

I love returning to a well-known and loved community in books.

Tessa Hamilton is attempting to make the old movie theater in town a success. She needs Josh Donnelly, at first for his engineering know-how and his friendship, than as their story unfolds, she needs him in a deeper way. But Josh is a committed bachelor and wants to leave Paradox Lake.

Jean always pulls me into her stories and the hearts of her characters.

Just a sampling of my reading this week. What are you reading, or have just read? I’d love to hear comments.

Cathy Marie Hake Fancy Pants, Amity Lassiter Runaway Heart, Allie Pleiter, The Texan’s Second ChanceJean C. Gordon The Bachelor’s Sweetheart

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