See “Jane” Drive. See Jess Scream. See “Jane” and Jess Fight.

It wouldn’t be a road trip if “Jane” and I didn’t have some kind of ordeal. We’ve been lost. We’ve nearly ran down a serial killer (he had to have been!), and we just got back from our last trip. It went a like this:

Oh, side note real quick, if you haven’t visited my Writer Page on facebook, would you mind stopping by and “liking” me? (Shameless plug at self-promotion. I apologize, but still…will you?)

Jane and I took our last summer road trip, well our first road trip this summer. We spent the weekend at my mom’s, visiting my great niece–she loves me most, and buying dented cans and cheap hair care products at a Mennonite store.

On Sunday, I gassed up–the van, not me–and we loaded up. We stopped halfway, went to the bathroom and grabbed some lunch, then hit the road.

The Script blared from the speakers and Jane and I talked. As she lulled on about finding a teaching position this fall, I drifted off to sleep. I don’t know how long I’d been snoozing when I felt a soft hand tap my arm.

“Jess,” she said in her soprano drawl, “I know you’re resting, but…your gas light is on.”

I popped my eyes open beneath my mirrored Aviators and looked around. Bean field. “Where are we?”

“I don’t know,” she sing-songed.

“What do you mean…you don’t know?” I watched as irrigation lines watered the fields. No indication of where I was. “We have to be in Arkansas. Somewhere.” I looked at the ticking, orange line set right on the “E.”

My stomach knotted. I never let my tank get this low. “Jane, how long has that light been on?”

She tapped the steering wheel, obviously not concerned. “Oh, a bit.”

“A bit. A bit? Jane, there’s nothing for miles. Miles!” I sat up straight in my seat, glanced at the temperature sign thingy. 99 degrees. Lord, we can’t run out of gas in this heat. It’s too hot to walk. It’s too hot to stay in this van!

Jane looked at me. “I saw a sign for Tyronza back a ways.”


“We’re screwed.” I began plotting how we would make this thing work when, not if, we ended up stranded. I’d sprint across the field, no Jane would, to one of the farm houses off in the distance, and ask for a can of gasoline. They run farms. They have to have their own gas tanks. Right? I’d stay in the van with a weapon.

A semi blew past us. Jane followed. “Maybe he can pull us in his draft.”

This is the one time, I didn’t poke fun of Jane and her knowledge of NASCAR.  “Yeah, do that.” I picked up my cell to call hubby. Maybe he knew of a town coming up soon. We were only an hour from home.

“Jane…no service.”

She gripped the wheel and I watched her mouth move. I saw Hannah from the Bible in that moment. No wonder Eli thought she was drunk. I started acting drunk too. Pray. Pray. Pray.

God, get us to a gas station. Please, Lord. Keep us safe. We have pre-teeens! Girls. We can’t be out on the road alone with them!

The book I had just read popped into my head and I was pretty sure vomit was about to explode all over the van. There are so many evil things that can happen to stranded women. To women in general. Why did I read that stupid book!?

I glanced at Jane. “You picked a fine day to wear a flimsy tank top!”

“Don’t yell at me! I wanted to be comfortable.”

“Well, when some strange man walks up to the van, that’s the first thing he’s gonna see! What will it say?” I was frustrated, terrified.

“It’ll say, ‘it’s hot outside’.” She pursed her lips and kept behind the semi. I checked my phone again. Signal.

I called hubby. “Hey,” I said in a syrupy voice. “Just curious. Is there a gas station past the Tyronza exit?”

A pause. “Why?” he asked warily.

No getting around it. “Well, I sorta didn’t get gas at Marston, but I filled it almost up back at my mom’s and you said if I filled up I could make it.” That’s right, blame him!

“I did say that. But almost filled up, gets you almost home.”

My heart sank.

“Why didn’t you get gas halfway?” I heard the slight irritation in his voice. Maybe panic. I don’t know. Line were blurring.

“I…forgot?” Well, I never drive. And why didn’t Jane look? She was driving. This wasn’t my fault!

“Who forgets to get gas?” he bellowed.

“I guess me!” I said, fired up. No valid reason for it. “What am I going to do if we run out?”

“I guess sit stranded and I’ll have to come find you!”

Jane sniffed and whispered. “Is he mad?”

I pulled off my mirrored sunglasses and gave her the what-do-you-think? look. I hung up. We went back to praying.

My daughter perked up in the very back. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing!” we both shouted together. They didn’t need to freak out, too.

“How many miles have we been?”

Jane shook her head. “I don’t know.”

And then…up ahead…I see it.

A sign! A symbol of hope! No, not the superman sign or the bat signal.

“Jane! There’s a station up ahead.” We dared not shout in victory, though. We had another mile to go. We gulped and tensed.


We made it. I’ve never been so escstatic to spend almost $5 a gallon for gas. We spent the next hour laughing at ourselves, and talking through scenarios of what we’d do if we were threatened. It’s easy to talk big when you know you’re safe.

I texted hubby to let him know it was all good, wishing I’d have waited five more minutes to initially call him. Typical.

We pulled into my driveway as hubby stood at the edge of it with a sign that read, “GAS STATION NEXT EXIT.”

I guess he thinks he’s funny. He’s not. Okay, maybe he is a little.

Question: Have you ever ran out of gas? What did you do?

Not Just Summer Blues

Good morning everyone! It’s Wednesday. Profound observation, I know. Before I jump in the waters of the Word, I have taken the plunge into the facebook currents and created a Writer Page. I’d love for you to take a second and click HERE, to “like” my page.

This has been a crazy two weeks for me. Inside. I’ve noticed relationships falling away and no way to stop it. I have those days where I barely like my husband, my feelings for my kids are on the fence.

I keep wondering, what is going on? Am I hormonal? I cry at most everything. You should have seen me at Potter as I blubbered, “Snape! Poor Snape!” Ridiculous.

And deep within me, I know what’s really wrong.

I ignore it. I pass it off as lazy summer days. I should be relaxing and sleeping in, which is 7 ish for me.

I crack open my Bible. I read a devotion from the Word for you Today. I try to ignore what it says. I stare at a Psalm. My mind wanders. I hear my Twitter chime go off. I check it. Laugh. Send a response. My son wakes up and I fix him a pancake, or toss him a bag of cookies. What? I said it was one of those weeks, didn’t I?

The day moves on.

And during that moving day, God uses more words.  He uses them to add to what I already know.

I get to work, before 8, so I read the MBT Ponderers blog. Different Levels, Different Devils.

“Have you ever wondered why things seem to get harder the closer you get to success?” Ginger Takamiya writes.

She begins to give examples, and some of them are as if she’s been stalking my life. A lightbulb goes off. It’s more than what I already know deep inside.


Not just in my writing ministry/career, but I’m about to launch a new life group at church. I’m excited about the limitless possibities of it. A bookclub may sound silly to some, but I know fiction can be used as a powerful tool to open blinded eyes, be used as a tool by God to rub balm on festering wounds, and encourage a reader. Who knows what book will be the one to help free someone from a lie they tell themselves every day!

I read my devotional and God speaks through the pages.

“People will leave you. It may be that you’ve outgrown them, or to fulfill their own vision, or because they don’t want to go where God is taking you. People left Jesus.”

“Satan will attack you…it lets you know you’re valuable to God. It also dictates the level of blessing that awaits you beyond the attack. Satan will attack when God is about to birth something in your life. It may be the birth of a relationship, a career, a ministry…”

Here is what I already know deep within.

1. I have not been giving God quality time in the last couple weeks (and I know better). Reading a devotion, even when it speaks to  me isn’t enough. For me. I need to steep in His presence, study until I find a treasure, worship. I need more than 30 minutes. I don’t need a shower, I need a long, warm bath.

I’ve been in a rotten funk, the lack of daily renewal has made me stagnant. I’m dirty flesh. I see it in my attitude, hear it in my impatient tones, taste it on my biting tongue.

I know I need to dig in, but I just don’t want to.

Then yesterday, I read Jaime Wright’s blog. I love Jaime and her blog. She talks about having a horrible week, feeling blah. Same as me, yet we didn’t share that as we bantered sarcastically on twitter one morning.

As I read what God said to her, He said the same thing to me. I didn’t get offended. He was right. Read her blog if you want to know what He said!

Things are changing. Friendships are taking on a different shape, and yes it’s sad. God is preparing me to get ready for that. To get ready for this new life group, gear up for  my husband’s mission trip to Thailand, my daughter has to go back to public school, where she shares her faith openly, and maybe my writing is about to move forward. I’m not sure.

God prepares us without always giving us the detailed 411.


Maybe this is you, too. Maybe you need to take the enemy by the horns and give him a good shaking. I know I do. And that means putting on my garments of praise, and spending more than a few seconds with God. It means pressing in, even when you don’t feel like it.

Refuse to let him win. Refuse to be complacent. “Be sober and vigilant, knowing your enemy prowls around like a roaming lion, seeking who he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

We’ll do it together.

Question for you: What’s your last hoo-rah before summer ends?

Wacky Florists and Diana Prusik: Delivery!

Fun, Hilarious, tear-jerking. Those are a few words that come to mind when thinking about Diana Prusik’s, Delivery. I met Diana at the 2010 Writing for the Soul Conference. She and her husband are wonderful, God-loving people! 

Note: I had to retype everything Diana said due to funky glitches. If there are any errors, they are all mine, sadly. 🙂

Everyone, meet Diana! Diana, meet everyone!

Diana Prusik holds a bachelor’s degree in English, graduating summa cum laude as an honors scholar in English, and a master’s degree in secondary education. She served as a Parents as First Teachers parent educator and an English instructor on the middle school, high school, and community college levels. In 2005, she departed from her education career in order to create art, photography, and fiction. A happily married mother of four, she lives in her native Sullivan Missouri, where she draws and paints in her in-home studio, searches for God’s beauty with her camera lens, and writes with every opportunity the Lord grants her. She is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and American Christian Fiction Writers.

Her debut novel Delivery placed three times in the Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest: 2008 finalist, 2009 semifinalist, and 2010 finalist. Diana’s first place of employment, a small-town floristry rich with story ideas, inspired Delivery. She is blessed to still work there part-time as a floral designer, a position she has held since 1981.

Tell us about your road to publication.

I began writing Delivery with no idea how I would find a publisher. I studied literature and taught English for years, but I knew nothing about the publishing industry. Then in the summer of 2008, I read Tom Morrisey’s, In High Places. In the novel’s back matter, I learned about the Christian Writers Guild. Upon visiting the Guild’s website, I discovered the annual Operation First Novel contest.

With fewer than twenty chapters written, I set to work, completing the first draft in time to meet the contest’s October 1 deadline by overnight mail. Amazingly, Delivery became one of four 2008 finalists. At the 2009 Writing for the Soul conference, I received manuscript feedback from experts like Jerry B. Jenkins, Brandilyn Collins, and Tyndale editor Jan Stob. Through attending the 2009 and 2011 Writing for the Soul Conferences and networking via email and Facebook, I built relationships with wrter friends like C.J. Darlington and Jennifer Slattery, who also offered valuable feedback. I scoured writing blogs, followed author/agent/editor Facebook posts and links, and devoured novel after novel. With the editorial assistance of teaching colleague and and dear friend Carol Lueken and other early readers, I revised, revised, revised—and prayed. Twice more, I submitted to Operation First Novel, all the while striving to improve my manuscript. Delivery placed two more times: 2009 semifinalist and 2010 finalist.

Through entering those contests, attending conferences, and lifting countless prayers, I gained Tyndale’s interest. As a result, I learned in April 2011 that Tyndale selected Delivery as one of four fiction titles to be released as part of its Digital First initiative. Amazon launched the e-book in late June, and other e-tailers soon followed. I wake up every morning needing to remind myself this isn’t a dream. If it is, please let me sleep!

You aren’t dreaming! That’s amazing. So tell us how Delivery was born. Pardon the pun…or not!

Personal crises like my mother’s battle with cancer, on son’s brain surgery, and another sons’ car accident taught me that God does some of His most amazing work during some of our toughest times. He works through our social circles.  He works through our professional circles. And yes, He works through flower shops, which often act as community hubs. From birth to death and everything in between, flower shops see it all, including the one I’ve worked at for over thirty years. When my growing understanding of God melded with my decades of florist experience, Delivery begged to be told.

God does do some amazing things in tough times. I’m glad He’s allowed you to bring glory to Him, through them. Delivery was a perfect title. How did you come up with it?

Delivery has been the title since Day One. The idea literally popped into my head (divine intervention?) before I had the storyline worked out. My protagonist works in a flower shop. She yearns for deliverance from guilt, grief, etc. She stumbles upon key scripture that contains the word. The title fits the story on multiple levels.

I agree! There’s lots of humor in your book. I love Greta’s antics and the banter between sisters. Are you as funny outside your book?

I’m usually the one laughing, not causing the laughter. While I may not be very funny in my daily life, I’m blessed to have one of the zaniest friends on earth. Her antics remind me how therapeutic laughter can be, convincing me that a novel with issues as serious as Delivery’s requires a few good doses of humor. When times are hard, who doesn’t feel better after a good chuckle?

Your blend of perfectly times comedic relief was exactly what I needed in between tears. If you could cast your characters on-screen. Who would play Livi and her sister Gretta (as adults)?
Livi requires an actress who can let her character’s inward struggle seep through her façade, hardened yet vulnerable. Helen Hunt gets my vote. Or maybe Reese Witherspoon.
Gretta demands an actress who can handle heavy scenes but who doesn’t take herself too seriously. She needs to be comfortable performing wacky antics and providing comic relief. Nia Vardalos, Sandra Bullock, or Anne Hathaway could fill the roll—after adding a few extra pounds.

I can see Helen and Sandra for sure! Especially  Sandra at City Hall at Christmas!

Before you go, tell us 3 random fun facts about yourself.
I I have such a knack for stopping hiccups that other teachers often sent hiccupping students to my classroom to be cured.
2.      I LOVE the mountains, but I’m so terrified of heights that I have hiked mountain trails in tears. During one such sob fest at Glacier National Park, fear so paralyzed me that I could neither continue climbing nor descend. After much coaxing (and a few sighs and eye rolls!), my husband convinced me to bury my face in the back of his shirt and clench his belt while he led the way, inch by inch, to lower ground. Even after this, I can’t wait for my next trip to snow-covered peaks!
3.      I play Pokeno once a month with eleven girlfriends. The game, when we stop chatting long enough to play it, requires using poker-style chips (We rebels use flat marbles—they’re prettier!) to cover thumbnailed images of playing cards arranged in a Bingo-like grid on game cards. The goal? To be the first player to cover the row—like Bingo. My problem? Numbers intimidate me, and unless they are face cards or aces, playing cards are numbered. My solutions? I turn my game card sideways. In my math-challenged brain, this makes numbers less noticeable, allowing me to concentrate on my marked rows. There’s a reason I taught English instead of math, folks!

I’m with you on the whole math thing. No. Can. Do. Thanks for being with us today, Diana! It’s been fun. I thoroughly enjoyed Delivery. Congratulations.
Here’s a peek at Delivery:

Livi finds new purpose in her troubled life when she joins her family’s small-town florist shop.  There, the strong and wacky Wilson’s Florist gang monitors the pulse of Mount Helicon, where customers carry stories even the local newspaper does not contain. Tales of birth and death, sickness and sorrow, love and betrayal, and even forgiveness—Livi hears them all. Privy to some of the community’s deepest secrets, she sometimes wishes she didn’t know so much, especially when news arrives that a dear family friend is dead. Faced with servicing his funeral, she is blasted with painful memories she’s struggled for decades to ignore. Soon, guilt and grief over childhood and adult tragedies close in. Instead of turning to loved ones or God for comfort, she leans on alcohol, her long-time clandestine companion—but secrets rarely escape the close-knit flower shop crew, who makes Livi’s business its own. Fumbling through life’s challenges together, the Wilson gang often delivers more than flowers, yet when Livi needs delivery, can the bonds of faith and friendship dissolve her defenses? 

You can connect with Diana on Facebook, Facebook author page, twitter, her blog, and her website.

Question for you: What’s your favorite flower and why?
*Thanks to Tyndale for the complimentary book, via Netgalley. All opinions are mine.

Top 5 Reasons I Do Not Belong at the Country Club

Well, I was going to blog about me and the magnolias getting down and dirty at a birthday party, but one of them lost her cord to her computer and has to get a new one, thus not able to email me pictures. 

Why didn’t I take pictures? 

I did. 

But another magnolia got sick of having pictures taken and snapped at me when I told her to lean in for one, so I have none with her in it! Thus, I will not blog without her in the  pictures, mostly because I plan to brag on how beautiful she is, but I can’t. Because she’s snarky when she’s had her fill of something!


5 Top Reasons I do not belong at the Country Club

but I am a member

5. I have to drive 20 minutes to get there and gas prices are ridiculous.

4. I do not like peeing in the public bathroom. I don’t want to sit on wet, funky toilet seats and if I squat over it, my feet slip (because rubber flip flops have no traction) and I slip, hurting myself as I fall against the side of the stall. Also, pulling up wet bathing suit bottoms is entirely too hard and I have not mastered the pull-it-to-the-side thing. 

3. We can bring food and drinks in, which means I have to bring a rolling cooler and I hate buying ice. It’s heavy and cold, and I’m paranoid I’ll get mugged or pushed inside the cavernous machine. What? It could happen! And do you trust the gas station security?

2. I don’t wear big, gaudy earrings to the pool like the Hernando Hills Housewives. I save those for the poolhall. 

1. I do not count off sweetly to my children to behave, then threaten them with no ice-cream or TV when that doesn’t work.  I holler, “If you wont iice-cream get a job and bie some, and so help me if you ain’t outa this here pewl by the tiiime I pull myself up off this louwngin chare, you’ll regret it!” And they will!

*Counting at your kids is like saying, “Okay you don’t have to mind me the first time, or the second, or the third…” Heck yes they do! (The little girl yesterday even counted the next number for her mother) My apologies if you’re a counter. Just don’t do it in front of me, because I will snicker and giggle behind your back. 🙂

So that ladies and gents, is why I do not belong at the country club, but I still go because those ladies need someone to whisper about!

Question: Where do you NOT belong?

Oh No You Didn’t, Lord!

What does it mean to sacrifice? says:

 verb (used with object)
  • to make a sacrifice or offering of.
  • to surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else. 
  • to dispose of (goods, property, etc.) regardless of profit
As I think about people who have made big sacrifices, my grandmother comes to mind. Grandma Smith. Giving up things she wanted to take care of her family and help her mother keep food on the table. You can read about one of her sacrifices HERE.
I think about missionaries who risk their lives every day to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of them give up a life like we live in the US to live in huts with dirt floors in temperatures that would make our measely 90 degrees look like winter. I’ve been to Thailand, I know. Yet I still whine about the heat index.
Last weekend, I was in one of those sterilize the kitchen moods. You ever get in those? I bleached my counters and sink. Pulled the eyes off the stove and scrubbed. I opened my oven…and closed it. I wasn’t going that far.
I could hear my son laughing at super hero shows or Mad TV, whatever it was had him in stitches in his bedroom. My daughter was packing for her summer trip to Mimi’s and my husband was in the bedroom with his guitar. I love to hear him play, to sing…to worship. It’s what he’s called to do. One day he’ll get his opportunity full time.
When he shuts the bedroom door and begins to play, something happens. His soft voice gets louder, and louder, until the whole house rings with a tenor melody. I know at that moment, God is speaking to him. I know they’re in a private moment, not even I can get in on. The atmosphere in the house changes like a tide. Peace settles over our home. Even the children quiet down.
On this Saturday, after an hour, maybe two, hubby came out of the room. I always expect his face to shine like Moses’s after he came down from the mountain. It never does, but his eyes sparkle. I swear they do. But this day, his eyes seemed hesitant. He leaned against the counter and watched me scrub a crockpot. I didn’t say anything.  A whisper in my heart told me to be still.
“Jess, I feel like I’m supposed to go back to Thailand.”

We’d briefly chatted about this before. We had an amazing experience a few years ago, but I hadn’t been feeling the urge for myself. There’ s a difference in wanting to do something and just saying, “I’m going!” and having the Lord impress on you to go.  Not that I don’t want to go back again. I do.

My husband had been mentioning over the last few months how it would be nice to return. He missed the kids. Now for him to say these things, I knew it was God–even if hubby knew it or not. He’s not one to go gung-ho on something. He considers it, analyzes it, waits. Leans toward no.
Before he could even utter the next sentence, the Lord spoke to me so clearly, I thought if I looked to my right, he’d be visible. “Jessica, when have you ever sacrificed for him?”
I didn’t need any further instructions. I knew exactly what He was saying. My heart squeezed inside my chest.
“Tell me again how much the–“
“I don’t need to go to the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference this year.”
“You didn’t let me finish.”
“I know. Because I know you’re trying to drum up a way for us both to go.”

Because that’s what he does. He sacrifices for me and the kids all the time. He does it because he loves us. He gives his birthday money to my daughter to buy a pair of TOMS, when truth is, she doesn’t even need them. He never asks for anything. Buying him gifts is like being pulled behind a truck through gravel, naked.
But he loves buying us gifts. Bends over backwards to do so. I open my door to the van and in my seat…a kindle! Why? Because he loves to give good gifts and he doesn’t mind going without so we can have.
I didn’t need to let him finish. I looked him in the eye, talking to God in my heart–“God, I really want to go to this conference. I’ve already signed up to help with registration. I’ve booked my room. I’m so excited to meet my blogging buddies and favorite authors. Yet I knew that going across the world to touch lives for Jesus was more important at this moment.

I won’t lie. It hurt a little.  I also know God loves a cheerful giver. I put the crockpot down. “I know what you’re going to say. Go to Thailand. I don’t want the added stress of you trying to figure out how to send us both. I mean it.” And I did.

A few days after this conversation, my husband found out that they’re putting on a sports camp this year! Isn’t that just like God? Send in a 12 year long little league coach and sports fanatic to help teach the Thai children athletics. I know he’s in the heart of God’s will. 
And so am I. 
It feels good to give back. I’ll miss everyone of course. 
As wonderful as my hub is, the greatest sacrifice came from a King in heaven.  When he laid down his brilliant royal robes and replaced them with flesh. When he came as a baby, crying in a lowly manger. A King who had to be taught to talk, walk, work a common job. He hurt when a hammer missed it’s mark and pounded his thumb. He wasn’t loved by many. His brothers didn’t understand him and thought he was crazy. His followers betrayed him, doubted him, and scattered from him.
He knew his death would gruesome. Worse than any other before. Worse than any other to come. But it was his joy, to sacrifice so that we could have good things.
He died a criminal’s death. An unfair death.

And then he folded the linens of death and placed them neatly in the tomb to signify the work was done. He took his place, back into royal courts. I wonder if he folded his robes as neatly as he did his linen garments at burial, or if they were still flung on the floor where he threw them off to get to us, to make us his bride.

I suppose giving up a conference compared to that seems trivial. I also know God cares about even small things. Anything we care about, he cares too. He really does.
Question for you: Who’s the last person to make a sacrifice for you? (on earth–no Jesus on earth isn’t a loop hole)

Must Meet AND Read Monday: April W. Gardner

April W. Gardner

Morning, everyone! Today I am pleased to introduce you to, April Gardner.

April resides in Georgia with her USAF husband and two sweet kiddos. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.
Librarian, reviewer, and avid reader, April adores anything books. She writes a regular column for the joint blog, Reflections in Hindsight, and is the founder and senior editor of the website, Clash of the Titles. She is the author of the best-selling novel, Wounded Spirits.

I met April through a mutual friend, Michelle Massaro, and through COTT (Clash of the Titles). If you haven’t checked it out, you should. It’s a literary website where authors compete and readers judge! Tons of fun!

Everyone, meet April. April, meet everyone! Tell us about your first novel?       

My first published novel is Wounded Spirits, which is set in 1813 during the Creek Indian War in what is now Alabama.

I had the pleasure of reading Wounded Spirits when I won a drawing on a blog! I loved the book, felt like I was right there with them as they experienced war…and love! Sigh. 🙂 How did you come up with the idea for this book?

I grew up hearing that my many times great-grandfather was Chief Red Eagle/William Weatherford. Turns out, he’s probably not, but I still cherish as my own the stories of his bravery in the face of Jackson’s overpowering army. It was the story of his extraordinary leap from the bluff that made me wish to read the account in novel-form.

I’d never written more than a high school paper, but I figured that if this particular story was ever going to be written, why not do it myself? Eight years later, I held the book in my hands.

I loved that this book was set to real events. Which character was the toughest to write?                                                                                                       

Zachariah was probably the toughest. I have nothing in common with him, and he’s been through some pretty horrific stuff. Stuff I could only take a stab at imagining. How a person might respond emotionally, physically, and spiritually wasn’t the easiest to create. I pray I did it justice!

You did! My heart broke with him and cheered with him. Even though you haven’t been through some of the things Zachariah went through, would you say a little piece of yourself is in one or all the characters or not?                              

I actually try to steer clear of putting myself into my characters. It probably comes down to the fact that I’m a very private person, and even if no one ever knew that that particular part of my heroine was a look into myself, it still makes me uncomfortable. Yeah, I’m weird.

That makes sense. Now when we read we’ll always get the mystery of wondering if a little piece is you or not. At least the stalker in me will! What do you find most rewarding about writing and most challenging?                        

Most rewarding? Creating worlds and people to fill them. Most challenging? Returning to my own! I love every bit of my real life, but there’s something addicting about stepping into my pretend world. Once there, I get sucked in. Kinda like Facebook. Lol!

As they say in MS, “You ain’t just whistlin Dixie!” Or at least I think they say that here, I’ve never actually heard anyone but myself. I think all writers would have to agree. Stepping into storyworld is like crack.  Don’t even get me started on fb!

Tell us 3 random fun facts about yourself!                                                                           

  • I can solve a Rubik’s cube. It takes me about ten minutes, but I can do it!
  • I’ve visited 24 different countries on three different continents. Lived in five of them.    
  •  I frequently choke while drinking or swallowing my own spit, and, yes, it’s embarrassing.

 ROFL!! We’re going to have to Skype so I can experience the choking. 🙂 I couldn’t solve a Rubik’s cube if a gun was pointed to my head. 

If you could live off one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?    

Rice. Love all forms of rice. Maybe because I was born in Asia?

That’s the only reason I would think , lol!
 What have you learned about the craft that you would like to pass on to other writers? 

I’ve learned that there is never an end to learning! Just when you think you’re arriving, bam! You realize how much further you have to go. Recently, I discovered author K.M. Weiland’s website. She’s a talented author who has boat loads of great tips for writers.

Thanks for sharing the tips and the website! Great advice. April, it’s been so much fun and I know everyone has had a blast getting to know you. What are some other ways they can connect with you?                                                         

I love to hear from my readers! You can reach me on Facebook, at my site  or at Clash of the Titles

Awesome! Just my own little plug here, Clash of the Titles has unpubbed weeks and it’s great exposure! I won my round and semi-finaled in the final clash. It was through semi-finals that I met my dear friend, and clash buddy, Jodie Bailey!

Here’s a sneak peek of Wounded Spirits and April has a question for you!

“On the frontier, Adela McGirth’s life is simple, rugged, and exactly to her liking. Her greatest concern is whether to marry the settlement’s most eligible young officer. When a distant war among the Natives spills over into a nearby skirmish, life takes a perilous turn. Deep in enemy territory Adela must choose between the man she loves and a baby that has yet to be born.
A peace-loving yet loyal Creek warrior, Totka is forced to align with the extremist Red Stick faction whose purpose is to eradicate the Whites from Creek soil. In the midst of battle, Totka is assigned to protect those he is expected to hate–and kill. Life was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a quiet strength and dignity he cannot resist.
Having lived a life plagued with death and loss, Zachariah McGirth is a man on a mission – he’ll have his revenge or die trying. Blinded by grief, he can’t see his way clear of yet another tragedy. Why has God taken everything from him…or has He?”


How old were you when you discovered the love of reading, and which novel was it that first impacted you?

Frivolous Friday: I WON Awards!

Okay, so it isn’t the Christy’s, but still…I’m honored to get them!

On Monday, my twitter buddy, Stacy Green at Turning the Page, awarded this to me. She just finished her psychological thriller and is in the revision stages! Woot!  She’s a sassy and talented writer as well as an awesome researcher. You need to read her blog about the tunnels in Vegas! She also writes flash fiction.

Wish I’d have known that word as a kid, flash fiction.
“Jessica Renee, are you lying to me?”
“Uh, no…that was flash fiction.”

On Wednesday, Stacy Henrie awarded me with the same thing! Stacy & Stacy! Love it! Love them! Stacy has a fabulous blog, Live, Laugh, Love and I am so glad I found it and her. She’s precious and funny!

Stacy Henrie didn’t do the random facts, but talked about her cool vacation. Stacy Green answered some fun questions and I’m going to do the same! Why? Because they had vampires in one of them…and I love vampires! Even the pointy-eared ones.

The questions were newly-created by Lyn Midnight. What a cool name.

If you were a vampire, which celebrity would you first sink your teeth into?
Hmmm….Ian Somerhalder (Damon from Vampire Diaries) The fact he plays a vampire might have something to do with it. Maybe not.

What’s your middle name? Not your REAL middle name. Your middle name.
Indiana, because I want to be the female version of Indiana Jones! (as long as I can stay out of tight spaces)

You’re stranded on an island. There’s a monkey with you there, but he’s not too chatty. You also have a ball at your disposal. A ship passes by, but it’s daylight. How will you attract their attention?

Tie the monkey around the ball using his arms and legs, jab a shell into his lower back to get him to screech and launch it with a tree branch toward the ship. I wanna go home!!! (My apologies to animal humane people, but I’m desperate. We can all sing the Sarah Mclachlan Angel song, later.)

What are you secretly afraid of? And what are you REALLY afraid of?
Getting Alzhemiers, guess it’s not a secret anymore. Something bad happening to my kids.

Describe your best friend in five words.
Silly, shy, generous, bright, child-like (in a good wide-eyed wonder kinda way)

What’s the last movie you watched? Was it good? Sanctum on DVD. It was really good, but about a quarter way through I wanted a Xanax. Tight spaces, in pitch dark, alone. Okay, I want another Xanax. Oh and I saw, Morning Glory with Harrison Ford and Rachel McAdams. Loved it and I didn’t need drugs to finish it.
Thanks, Stacy & Stacy, for giving me the awards! I love you guys! 🙂 Happy Friday, all!

Question: Who’s seeing Harry Potter this weekend? Besides me.

Must Meet Monday: Crimson Danielle Hale-Browning

FOREWARNING: There will be many ! points in this post.
I was going to review Walking on Broken Glass today, but real life precedes fiction! But I will get to it!

Crimson Danielle Hale-Browning. Ain’t that a mouthful of names! And a mouthful of lungs. Takes after her GREAT aunt!

I’m overjoyed about this baby. Can I be honest? I don’t normally get all gooey over newborns. I mean I like babies. I’ve had 2. But I’m not over-the-top-crying-like-one-of them, kind of people.  (I will cry over miracle babies, though.)

My niece, Chelsey, is super special to me. I was 15 when she was born. I remember when my sister (5 years older than me, acts 5 years younger–it’s my blog, I’ll say what I want!) was pregnant with her. We had to pull over on the side of the road and I remember watching her puke Twizzlers out of her nose. Then I had to drive the rest of the way home. I was barely 15. (But, I’d been stealing cars (my parents’ and friends’ parents) since I was 13 so…) By the way, can you do a double parentheses like I just did? Somebody look that up!

My sister, Celeste and her husband,

When Chelsey was born, she stayed at our house a lot or I stayed over there, but point is, I was with her every day of her life, practically, until I left for college at 17.  Grace of God I landed at Bible college and not jail. (If my sister is reading this…ssshh…don’t say what I know you want to.)

She drove me up a dang wall. I’d come home and find her in my make-up,  my dresser, my desk, my shoes…

Chelsey is opinionated, brilliant, and beautiful. She’s had to overcome a lot in her life. She always asks me to write a book based on her. Most people run if they think you’re going to write about them.

Today was her day. To experience motherhood. To see what kind of crap her mom had to endure to bring her ADHD self into the world.

Chels had a scheduled c-section for medical reasons. We all stood outside for the whole 15 minutes it took to take Crimson. And then they brought her to the nursery (Crimson not Chelsey.)

Proud Papa, Taylor
I swear he’s older than 14!

 Wow. It was amazing. Then Taylor came out in his scrubs. Everyone oohed and aaahed, but I watched him as he gazed at his baby daughter. I watched tears fill his eyes, and then him quickly blink them back.

I wonder what he was thinking. Did he realize the huge responsibility of being a dad? Not just a guy who fathers a kid, but a real dad.

Will he model himself after God the Father? Does he know enough to do that?

My mind raced. But I know one thing, I saw love all over his face and it was beautiful.

When we rushed in to congratulate and smooch all over Chelsey, she was in horrible pain. No one brought her any meds yet and the epideral was wearing off. Shudders took over her body and we told her that was normal, but she hurt. Terribly.

Taylor and Chelsey
I’d have
more pics of Chelsey but she was
in a lot of pain

 But she smiled, a little, through the pain. She was a trooper. Really. They finally brought her a morphine drip and she started to fall asleep. She’s a mom now.

Does she realize how hard it’s going to be? Does she know how many tears, happy, sad, frustrated, she’ll shed over her precious one?

I don’t know. But I know she’ll be like a mama bear protecting her cubs.

I’m proud of them.

I also made dang sure I got my first 10 seconds of cuddle time in. Ain’t nobody taking that from me!

Me lovin on CD (Seetie) See
those determined eyes. I also
wore glittery eyeliner–to attract her.
She opened her eyes like once. Heifer.

Today has been a good day for us all. We’re thrilled. We’re anticipating the fun and tender journey of this baby. This special, sweet bundle of love to expand our family.

Oh yeah, we’ll warp her, no doubt. Isn’t that what crazy families do? Warp their kids. But it’ll be fun none the less!

My hubby, Tim, loves babies. I couldn’t believe how patient he was. I finally said, “Would you like your turn?”

My man holding Crimsom.

 He grinned, then snatched her from me.  My kids came inside, in total awe. Myles, my 7 year old, was amazed, and thank God he didn’t ask questions like, “How did that baby come out?” or “How’d that baby get in there?” Phew!

My daughter, Bailey, and my
son, Myles, with Crimson

And of course, my mother was there. Crying and trying not to streak her mascara. Yeah, I watched her carefully wiping tears when she thought no one could see her. She was especially careful around the lash line! Busted.

My mom holding CD

I wish my grandmother was here to hold her. Chelsey named her “Great” since she was “Great grandma.” Maybe I’ll adopt that name as aunt. “Aunt Great” cause, I am and all. 😉

I wish Chelsey’s dad could have been here. But I know that he and my grandma are rejoicing and watching from heaven.

My grandma would have said (because she’s too honest) “That baby is F-A-T. And those toes, why my goodness, Jessica, did you see those?”

And I would have laughed and said, “Yeah, I saw them. Not nearly as horrible as your mismatched polyester pants and pink floral shirt.”

Then Chelsey’s dad, Ron, would have said, “I wonder what prank I’ll play on her first.” And thought how he could put something in her bottle, like lemon juice because he always played pranks. Ugh. I hated those.

This is a joyous time. Whether from Heaven or here on Earth.

Welcome, Crimson Danielle Hale-Browning. We love  you and plan to spend the rest of your life showing you! xoxoxoxo

To Be Announced! It’s Almost Time!

This is my great niece’s bedroom. So cute.

Well, we rolled into IL last night, hopped in the car with my OLDER sister and her hubby and took off to St. Louis to buy a pack-n-play and eat dinner.

Dinner was not good.

Dessert was fabulous. I think we all had a moment of silence.

I snapped a few pics of the nursery yesterday. So I want to show them to you and later this morning, when the little rascal is born, I’ll introduce her to you!

The amount of spoiling already happening for this child…ridiculous. But hey! She’s the first granchild! And I’ll tell you guys later why this is all so special, other than it being a baby and all babies are special!

This is her closet! OMG! Ha! I didn’t even
take pictures of her drawers. It was too overwhelming.
Okay, so it wasn’t, but I was ready to go. I needed FOOD!
And the smell of fingernail polish remover was grossing me out. She’s
having a scheduled C-section due to medical issues, so NO polish!

How cute is this? My sister’s husband’s
sister, just go with it, did all the painting.
She also makes cakes. I hope she makes one
for the birth. I hear they’re wonderful.
And…I like cake.

Seriously? You’re just gonna…sit there….

I’m letting you know it’s a little longer than blog style, but it’s Wednesday! I can’t help it! Stick with me, you’ll survive.

Have you ever seen someone do something so odd it made you do a double take?

During a crisis, cousin Joe is on his smart phone playing Angry Birds while you run frantically, or Aunt Sadie is knitting socks during a tornado.

Or maybe during a trip to the E.R. Granny Lou is sitting quietly, hands neatly folded in her lap, a tiny smirk, dare I say, on her face.

Two out of three might be morons, but Granny Lou isn’t. Granny Lou has something we all want. We all desire. We all seek.


Gideon’s story in the Old Testament is rather humorous to me. Let’s take a look at was going on around him and then we’ll see how odd someone behaved.

“Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD delivered them into the hand of Midian for seven years, and the hand of Midian prevailed against Israel.” Judges 6:1-2

God sounds pretty mean, huh?

What exactly were they doing that was so evil?  Well, for starters, they were having orgies on mountains in front of anyone who would watch to please false gods in hopes they would make it rain. They served their first born up to some of these false gods. I wish I had time to go into how they did this in detail, but I don’t. They ignored God. Exalted themselves. And forced the wonderful things He’d done for them out of their minds, homes, and hearts.

So God would send in an army–foreigners–in this case the Midianites, to discipline them. It wasn’t like it didn’t come without warning.

In Deuteronomy 28, He tells them IF you’ll be obedient and IF you’ll follow after Me, then I will bless…but if they do not, then He forewarns them of the consequences.

“The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth.” Deuteronomy 28:25

So here we are. With the Israelites at one of their times of discipline. 

“Because of the Midianites, the children of Israel made for themselves the dens, the caves, and the strongholds which are in the mountains. 3 So it was, whenever Israel had sown, Midianites would come up; also Amalekites and the people of the East would come up against them. 4 Then they would encamp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance for Israel, neither sheep nor ox nor donkey. 5 For they would come up with their livestock and their tents, coming in as numerous as locusts; both they and their camels were without number; and they would enter the land to destroy it. 6 So Israel was greatly impoverished because of the Midianites, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.” Judges 6:1-6

Now at this time in the story, Gideon is threshing wheat, in a winepress. A wine press is a concrete circular contraption for stomping grapes.

A threshing floor, was open on both ends so the breeze would blow the chaff away and leave the grain. Threshing wheat in a winepress would be difficult and grueling at best, but that’s what Gideon was doing.

Imagine the sweat on his brow from the work in the heat, the buds of perspiration on his upper lip from trembling fear that any moment, the Midianites would approach him, catch him secretly threshing, and probably kill him and his family.

Every few moments, he would glance this way and that. I bet his stomach was in knots like the practice laces in my six-year old son’s shoes. I’ll never get those out.

On one of his glances, he notices someone.

I can see him look, take a second glance and then stare. Seriously? Do you see me here killin myself? You’re just gonna sit there…under that tree…like no one is trying to slaughter us? Really, man?

I wonder if the man under the tree smirked, if only a tad. A tiny twitch of an eyebrow as he read Gideon’s thoughts. Private thoughts.

At this point, I think he flat out grinned.“The LORD is with you, you mighty man of valor!” 

I bet this got Gideon’s dander up, but I don’t know because I’m not sure what dander is, just that it isn’t supposed to be up.

A mighty man of valor? That means bravery. Courage. Helloooo, I’m in a winepress, man. Do you have any idea what it’s like to thresh wheat in a winepress? No, no you do not…because you’re sitting under a tree. Relaxed. At ease. At…peace.  Man, I wish I had peace.

Gideon was living in fear. Uncertain of the future and angry about his current circumstances. Check out this dialogue.

13 Then Gideon said, “Sir, if the Lord is with us, why are we having so much trouble? Where are the miracles our ancestors told us he did when the Lord brought them out of Egypt? But now he has left us and has handed us over to the Midianites.”
 14 The Lord turned to Gideon and said, “Go with your strength and save Israel from the Midianites. I am the one who is sending you.”
 15 But Gideon answered, “Lord, how can I save Israel? My family group is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least important member of my family.”
 16 The Lord answered him, “I will be with you. It will seem as if the Midianites you are fighting are only one man.”
 17 Then Gideon said to the Lord, “If you are pleased with me, give me proof that it is really you talking with me.18 Please wait here until I come back to you. Let me bring my offering and set it in front of you.”
   And the Lord said, “I will wait until you return.” (NCV)

Gideon acts like he has no idea why everything is falling apart around him, but he does. In verse 7 -9, God sent a prophet to tell them exactly why they were being opressed and the Angel of the Lord (Pre-Incarnate Jesus Christ) knows it! It’s why he ignores the whining question. Did you see that? Gideon whines in verse 13, and Jesus says in verse 14, “Go…I am sending you.”

Jesus doesn’t dance around our attempts to distract him. Not by our countdowns of all the reasons why we shoudn’t do something or the droning questions that imply unfairness in our circumstances. He gets to the point. Period.

My favorite line is verse 18 when Gideon goes to make an offering to him and he says, “I will wait until you return.” I love that Jesus is always waiting on us. He doesn’t disappear or leave us. Ever.

Gideon comes back, offers the meat on the rock and the Angel sends a fire to consume it and disappears. How awesome is that! Gideon goes after he writes the song, Calling All Angels “I need a sign, to let me know you’re here…” Oh wait, that was Train. Nevermind. But Gideon does ask for about half a dozen of them. And God is faithful.

What’s the point of this story I’m telling you today?

When you’re scared of uncertainty, when the enemy is shoving you in a winepress when you should be at the threshing floor, there is Peace. He’s sitting under a tree wondering why you’re spinning your wheels, when He has an answer.

Even if the answer makes you nervous–scares you, even. Or when what He asks you seems greater than what you’re able to do.

He sees you very differently than you see yourself.

When you say, “I can’t.” He says, “You can.”

When you insist, “I’m nobody.” He reassures, “I’m somebody.”

When you cry, “I’ll never make it.” He croons, “I’ll carry you.”

When you sob, “I won’t finish.” He shouts in victory, “I already have.”

When you scream, “I’m a afraid!” He lulls, “I am Peace.”

You have nothing to fear. In fact, go and sit with Him. Under the shade tree. In Peace.

Lovin you guys!! Happy Wednesday.

Question: Have you ever climbed a tree? I never have.