Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

There ought’a be a hall of fame for mamas;
Creation’s most unique and precious pearls;
And Heaven help us always to remember
That the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
(Written by Ted Harris, performed by
Glenn Campbell and Steve Wariner, 1987)

I’ve always loved that song, and I believe mothers truly do rule the world—at least, they have a hand in it...probably the very hand that rocked the cradle.

A good mother (or not, unfortunately…) is her children’s first source of guidance. She is primarily responsible for teaching them the ins and outs of life on this big planet. What’s safe...what’s dangerous? Why truth over lies? Why kindness instead of cruelty? What’s good? What’s evil?

After she’s instilled in them all the things she thinks they need to know, she’s forced to let them go alone into this crazy, mixed-up world. Some of those children become doctors and lawyers. Some are clerks in the neighborhood grocery store. Others are housewives...writers...singers...dancers.

Governors, senators, presidents. Part of the power behind a well-organized city, or state, or country.

Ruling the world.

Motherhood is an unbelievable honor that comes with staggering responsibility. It can be crushingly disappointing and wonderfully fulfilling. It’s one of God’s greatest gifts—to mother as well as to child.

My own mother is no longer with us. God decided to take her to Himself long before the eight of us kids were ready to let her go. But she left a treasure trove of precious memories and a lifetime of unequaled teaching—the kind of leadership that’s done by example. I’m so grateful to have had such a wonderful, loving little mother. My prayer is that my children will find even a small measure of that same type of motherliness in me.

Take this as a gentle reminder...if your mother is still with you, find time to tell her how much you love her. Let her know what a good mother she is. If she’s with the Lord, well...tell her anyway and trust God to carry the message. I’m going to.

Now go spend some time with your kids. Maybe they’re toddlers, or perhaps they stand head and shoulders taller than you. Doesn’t really matter, does it? Yours is the hand that rocked their cradles. You’ll always be their mother. Enjoy the honor.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Notes of Devotion

The following testimony/devotional is shared by Margaret Garrett Irwin, an Oakhurst, California writer. Maggie’s book, The Journal of Anne Reading: From Florence Nightingale to Dorothea Dix and Beyond, was published in 2006 by Trafford Publishing.

I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes

Psalm 121:1-2 – I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121 has been very meaningful to me since I was a child in England, but never more so than when I had to spend time in Stanford University Hospital, California, with a mysterious illness, later diagnosed as Vasculitis/Bechet’s Syndrome, a very rare form of arthritis which affects one person in three hundred thousand people in the United States. I was paralyzed and had painful ulcers over all my extremities, especially my legs. I was temporarily blind in my right eye. For many months I could not write or drive without using hand splints.

Today, with God’s help, I am able to do everything I did before. My illness is in remission.

Two days after Christmas, 1990, I had a streaming cold. The following day, a blister came on my ankle and I had a sensation of my foot going to sleep. By that night, I could barely walk and was in terrible pain. My immune system had broken down but I didn’t know this until I was hospitalized at Stanford two weeks later. Several months later, I was told that stress and genetics were the probable causes. We blame stress on many things but a lot of it, I brought on myself.

I have been a Christian all my life and I truly gave my life to the Lord when I was twenty-two. However, I came to California two years later and I married a man who I soon found out was an alcoholic and also had a cruel streak. I had done just what the Bible tells us not to do—I had become unequally yoked with an unbeliever. I kept trying for many years because I had been brought up to believe that divorce was a sin.

My self image had never been high but in this situation it became extremely low. When I finally did break away and divorce, I was left with two teenagers who have both suffered from the situation. A wonderful Christian woman named Betty Swinehart, who visited patients in Stanford, likened my problems to those of Job. I really could not agree because I had abused myself with heavy drinking and I had disobeyed many of God’s commandments.

Now I will always have outward scars to remind me and keep me humble.

After my initial release from the hospital, I lived in nearby Redwood City with my dear friend, Betty Librizzo. She was 82 but lovingly cared for me and drove me seven days a week to hydrotherapy sessions. Lying on a board in swirling water was wonderful but the treatments to my skin afterwards were an endurance course.

People were constantly surprised by my “good attitude” and lack of depression. I recalled how Psalm 121 first became meaningful to me. When I was twelve years old, I had to miss most of one school term because I had an operation on my left eye to repair damage caused by a fall when I was only two. I was in low spirits over my poor results from the term’s work. The next term one of the assignments in the religious knowledge class was to write out from memory the whole of Psalm 121. I did and got good results in all subjects. I really felt my help had come from the Lord.
As I took my daily required walks in hilly Redwood City, I lifted my eyes to the hills and “turned my eyes on Jesus and looked full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth did grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace.” This quotation from The Heavenly Vision by H.H. Lemmel sums up the joy I felt on realizing I was and am alive and well in the spirit and now in the body as well—praise the Lord!

In 1994, I met and married the love of my life, Johnston Irwin. I was born in London, England and Johnston was born about 35 miles from Belfast, Northern Ireland. We met in Fresno, California, U.S.A.

Author of Note: Cindy Bauer

Our Author of Note this month is Cindy Bauer. I so appreciate Cindy stopping by The Bookshelf.

Q. Welcome, Cindy! I know my readers want to know all about you as a writer, and we’re going to get to that right away. But first, we’d like to know who you are outside your office. Tell us about Cindy Bauer, the lady next door.

A. First I want to thank you for having me. I’m honored to be here.
I’ve been married almost 32 years to a wonderful man who makes me laugh. We don’t have any children, though we did try. I lost seven and we finally gave up. We decided it was not in the Lord’s plan for us.

We both grew up in Davenport, Iowa. In fact, we were born at the same hospital. I’m 15 months older than hubby. We’ve lived in five states and have moved many times, but we planted roots here in Missouri in 1986, when called upon to help my dad with my terminally ill mother. She passed in 1988.

I have one brother and sister, both older than me. They’re actually my half-siblings, but since they were “in place” when I was born, I’ve never considered them as anything but my brother and sister.

I work at our local daily newspaper. We publish five days a week. It had been my dream for years to become an author. My sister, a former journalism teacher, hounded me to begin writing the book(s) I had long ago dreamed of, but pushed aside once I got married. So my journey began. And what a ride it has been!

I enjoy spending time with hubby, the dog and meeting challenges. I enjoy helping others and have a close relationship with the Lord.

Q. That said…you recently “fired” your publisher and are now trying to place your trilogy elsewhere. I wish you great success with that! Tell us about your books.

A. Yes, I did sever ties with PublishAmerica. If you are a serious writer, POD publishing or self-publishing is not the way to go.

My books are an Inspirational Fiction series. I began with Chasing Memories, which I based around my own “memory box.” The story developed itself as I wrote. In order to complete the whole picture for my readers, a trilogy was inevitable.

Chasing Memories is about a young widowed mother. While helping her elderly neighbor, she’s hit by a careening car on an icy street. She wakes up in the hospital with amnesia (hubby’s idea by the way). The story is her struggle with learning to live with virtual strangers and strengthening her faith in God by trusting Him to guide her along her journey in recovering her memories. The ending actually has two surprises, which of course I can’t tell you about.

Shades of Blue picks up where Chasing Memories left off. In Chasing Memories, Laura’s closest friend Susan Barnes becomes the main character. At the end of Chasing Memories, she had moved to Kansas City, got a new job, new apartment and become engaged! The book begins with her wedding.

Susan thought she had married an upcoming attorney with a promising future. Turns out he’s a drug dealer, has an alcohol problem, and becomes abusive as well. The story is based on “could-really-happen” life events and how Susan deals with them, drawing her closer to the Lord.

The final book, Crystal Clear, is about Annie, the daughter. It picks up where Shades of Blue left off. I’m still in the process of getting down the rough draft, after rewrites on the first two for submission as a series to more reputable publishers.

The series is intended to be enjoyed by anyone, from young adults and up. I hope the stories show that though life may throw some difficult obstacles, you can take the experience and knowledge from those events and use them to your benefit and possibly the benefit of others. In other words, don’t dwell on what went wrong in the past, but use the knowledge gained to better your future instead.

Q. What was your inspiration for this series?

A. After mom’s untimely death, our immediate family basically fell apart. She was the glue that held us together. I began to feel the need to tie up those gaps in our family communication. I started saving everything, from greeting cards, to photos, to letters and put them in a container (very large mind you), now kept on the floor of my bedroom closet. I call it my “memory box,” with mementos to reflect on later in life. I wanted to pass that on to others, thus the beginning of Chasing Memories, which is based around a memory box. Family is so precious and we need to treasure them now, and hold them close in our hearts after their passing. Though they are gone in sight, their love and their souls are still very much here with us! Don’t go through life with regrets. Sometimes there is no tomorrow. So tell them every day that you love them.

Q. How long does it take you (on average) to write a book, from first word to being ready to place in a publisher’s hands?

A. Interesting question. I work full time, plus I’m a housewife. With hubby’s physical limitations, there is more work now than there used to be. So, approximately nine months. Much longer than I would like, but I just don’t have the time I need to spend on them to complete them sooner.

Q. What do you enjoy most about writing? Least?

A. The reaction I get from my readers and learning what they took with them by reading my
books. I was recently delighted to learn my sister-in-law’s daughter-in-law, who recently lost her job, decided to go back to college after reading my first book Chasing Memories. And after reading Shades of Blue, she said she has bonded with the characters and doesn’t want me to move forward with my mystery-suspense series, but write more in this series, instead.
Least? Getting that rough draft down. Fine tuning it is the easy part. It’s getting that rough draft down that I get wrapped around

Q. What books are on your nightstand right now?

A. I recently became a book reviewer for Bookpleasures.com. I’m getting a chance to read others’ works, which I am learning a lot from, plus it’s an opportunity to express my abilities as a writer and reviewer. Right now I am reading Angels of Maradona by Glen Carter. Next I have a new one from author Kelly Moran, called When the Leaves Stop Falling. I just read Hard Evidence by best-selling author Roxanne Rustand, and still have her other two to cover. Plus, I have one by a new author, Donetta Garman, (whom I actually know), called Growing Up Ugly.

Q. I know that interviewers often don’t ask the questions an author would really like to talk about. Is there anything you’d like to say that I haven’t touched on?

A. Yes, I do. Since I enjoy helping others, I have several features available on my website, other than my own books. There are over 200 books by other authors, some best-selling authors. I also do a detailed monthly newsletter where I promote other authors and their books. There are interviews and reviews, recipes and an electronic version of the Bible for your spiritual needs. Visit my site at www.cindybauerbooks.com.

I would also like to tell others to never, ever, give up on your dreams. Don’t sit back and say “I wonder if...”. Don’t leave this world with regrets. Do what your heart tells you to do. Go with your instincts. You have those for a reason and God has you in His plans! Just do what comes natural and leave the details to Him!

Again, thank you for this opportunity, Delia.

Cindy Bauer was born in Davenport, Iowa, where she grew up the youngest of three children. Always an avid reader, she dreamed of becoming a writer. She graduated from Assumption High School in 1975 and married her husband, Robert, in 1976. The couple moved to Missouri in 1986.

Cindy's dream to write resurfaced in 2003, and with encouragement from her husband and her sister, she wrote Chasing Memories (2006). Shades of Blue followed in 2007. Currently Cindy is working on the third and final novel in this series, Crystal Clear.
She loves spending time with her husband and also enjoys cooking, reading, writing and gardening.

Notes in Review

Beloved Castaway
by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Publisher: Barbour Publishing, Inc (November 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1597895938

New Orleans, 1814: A not-so-respectable man makes a hasty decision. From that fateful night until spring of 1834, a young slave girl suffers the consequences.

Determined to reach the abolitionists in England, Isabelle Gayarre makes a deal with a disreputable sea captain for passage aboard his not-quite-seaworthy vessel, the Jude. She’s desperate to find freedom, and willing to give everything she owns to obtain it. Josiah Carter and the Jude are her only hope—aside from her strong faith in a loving heavenly Father.

Captain Carter doesn’t quite trust the beautiful woman, but his desperate need of the money she offers him to spirit her away from New Orleans forces his hand. The deal is made, sealing them both into a dangerous and possibly deadly voyage through tumultuous waters.

More than one soul seeks redemption. More than one secret crouches within the ship. More than one cruel and heartless man rushes in hot pursuit of the Jude. And more than one heart is held captive by an unexpected and seemingly impossible love.

Beloved Castaway offers heart-tugging romance, intricate historical detail, and a tightly woven storyline. It’s a gripping tale of suspense and intrigue, with a shining thread of romance woven ever-so-expertly throughout. The characters live and breathe, and make their way unerringly into the reader’s heart.

Kathleen Y’Barbo weaves a beautiful, expertly written tale of love on the run, and paints a heart-warming picture of God’s amazing grace and redemption. This one’s for the keeper shelf!

C * O * N * T * E * S * T

Congratulations to our April winner…

of Morris, Oklahoma

won a free Goldeneyes T-shirt!

May prize: Beloved Castaway by Kathleen Y’Barbo

Here’s how to enter: Leave a comment on this post. In 50 words or less, tell me what is most special about your mother (grandmother, mother-in-law, aunt - whoever fills/filled the primary "mother" role in your life). Be sure to leave an e-mail address, so I can contact you if you win.

Bookshelf subscribers only, please! If you haven’t subscribed, that's okay...it’s easy, you can do it right now. Subscribe to the Bookshelf

Note: Contests with less than three entrants will be considered invalid and no prize will be awarded.

Writing Notes: Rebecca Livermore

Writing Fillers for Fun and Profit

After many years of squelching the gift of writing within me, I decided to give it a try. I figured a good place to start was a Christian magazine I read regularly. As I picked it up, flipped through it, and read the bios of the various authors, I became disheartened. It seemed that in order to write for that magazine you had to lead some big ministry, be the author of numerous books, and have some type advanced theological training. Unfortunately, the only thing I possessed was the ability to write and a heart for ministry. Apparently that wasn't enough.

I was about to give up in despair when close to the end of the magazine I found a section of short articles. In the middle of that section were the words all writers long to hear: "GET PUBLISHED!" They were looking for short, practical articles on a variety of subjects. Since the articles were short (less than 400 words), no query letter was required. Good thing, since all good query letters include the writer's qualifications to write the article, and I was decidedly unqualified in a traditional sense.

I immediately sat down, wrote an article, said a quick prayer, and promptly dropped the article in the mail, along with the required SASE. Then, not knowing what else to do, I waited.

About six weeks later, with trembling hands, I opened that familiar-looking SASE, only to find that my article had been rejected. Thankfully, before I could become too depressed, I read words that only fueled my desire to write. The letter stated, "Due to the fact that we recently purchased an article on the same subject, we cannot accept your article. However, you certainly have the right feel for our magazine. Please let us hear from you again!" They didn’t have to tell me twice! I immediately sat down, wrote another article, and mailed it.

Again, I waited. Four weeks later, I once again found an SASE in my mail, this time, with a publication contract rather than a reject letter! And so began my love affair with writing short articles, bits of advice, quizzes, etc. known as "fillers."

In almost any magazine you pick up, you’ll find fillers. They may be short articles, practical bits of advice, jokes, quizzes, recipes, or cartoons. One thing they all have in common is that they are short. Although fillers may not be the most prestigious thing to write, they are worth considering for the following reasons.

1. Publication opportunities abound for filler writers.

2. The odds of acceptance, especially for newer writers, are much higher than they are for full-length articles.

3. They seldom require time-consuming research, and since they are so short, often result in high payment for the comparatively short amount of time they take to write.

4. They help you learn how to write tight, since you have no room to waste words. Writing tight is a skill that is usefully in other types of writing as well. You may as well develop that skill by writing fillers!

5. They open the door to "bigger and better" things. Writing fillers helped build up my list of publishing credits, connected me with other writers and editors, and got my foot in the door with more than one magazine.

6. They can provide consistent income while you are working on longer pieces.

Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you successfully write fillers.

1. Find as many magazines as you can that accept fillers. The best way to be consistently published is to submit as many fillers as possible. You can only submit so many fillers to one magazine, so diversify as much as possible.

2. Study the fillers in the magazines you want to submit to. Notice the style, common themes, etc. Slant your fillers to the magazine you plan to submit to.

3. Read the writer's guidelines if available, and follow them to the letter. For instance, if they say the word limit is 250 words, don't think you can get away with writing 350 words.

4. As soon as you submit one filler, start working on another one. This helps pass the time while you’re waiting to hear back on the first one, and helps soften the blow if your first one is rejected.

5. If a filler you write is rejected by one magazine, look through your list of magazines that accept fillers to see if perhaps you can submit it somewhere else. You may need to tweak it a bit to get it to work well for a different magazine, but that can be easier than starting from scratch.

6. Don’t limit yourself to Christian magazines. Other interests such as parenting, gardening, household management, or any number of hobbies provide good experience and material for fillers that aren't specifically Christian.

Below is a partial list of magazines that accept fillers. Some of the magazines listed below do not have writer's guidelines on the website. Those magazines may require a bit of digging for you to find information on how to write for them.

Have fun as you delve into the fun and profitable world of filler writing!

(I did not see writer’s guidelines on this site.)
Types of fillers: Anecdotes, word puzzles, cartoons, quizzes, short humor.
Pay: $2-$25

(There is a link for writers at the top of the homepage.)
Types of fillers: Short articles, 300 – 500 words.
Pay: $50 and up

(A link for writer’s guidelines is on the homepage, on the bottom left.)
Types of fillers: Anecdotes, 50 – 250 words.
Pay: $50 - $100

(A link for writer’s guidelines is on the homepage.)
Types of fillers: Poetry, facts, prose, quotes.
Pay: $20

(I did not see a link for writer’s guidelines on the website.)Types of fillers: 75-200 words with a pro life slant.
Pay: $10

(I did not see a link for writer’s guidelines on the website.)
Types of fillers: Book and music reviews, 200 words.
Pay: $25 - $35

(I did not see a link for writer’s guidelines on the website.)
Types of fillers: Parenting ideas, 100 – 250 words.
Pay -- $25 - $40

(I did not see a link for writer’s guidelines on the website.)
Types of fillers: Anecdotes, facts, quotes, 150 words.
Pay: $5 - $20

(Click on “Contact” to find info for writers.)
Types of fillers: Anecdotes, cartoons, jokes, short humor, newsbreaks.
Pay: $30 - $50

(There is a link for writer’s guidelines on the homepage. There are two separate sets of guidelines. Choose the DJ Plus option for the short articles.)
Types of fillers: DJ Plus articles on missions, evangelism, serving, discipling, teaching, and small groups, up to 400 words.
Pay: .25 per word

(There is a link for writer’s guidelines on the homepage.)
Types of fillers: Anecdotes, short humor, quotes, cartoons, up to 200 words
Pay: $10 - $50

(I didn’t see writers guidelines on this site, but under the contact link, there is a specific contact for articles.)
Types of fillers: Various columns and departments, all 350 words.
Pay: $35

(Click on the “Magazines” link for guidelines.)
Types of fillers: Recipes, quotes, games, jokes, cartoons, 50 words.
Pay: $25

(Click on the “Communications” link for guidelines.)
Types of fillers: Various types, 25 – 100 words.
Pay: $5 - $15

(I did not see writer’s guidelines on the website.)
Types of fillers: Quotes and short humor, 50 – 200 words.
Pay: $10 – 25

(I did not see a link for writer’s guidelines on the website.)
Types of fillers: Ideas That Work, To Illustrate (sermon illustrations), short humor, cartoons, up to 150 words.
Pay: $25 - 50

(I did not see a link for writer’s guidelines on the website.)
Types of fillers: Anecdotes, prose (200 – 700 words).
Pay: .10 per word, or .07 per word for reprints

(There is a link for writer’s guidelines on home page.)
Types of fillers: Anecdotes and short humor, 100 – 200 words.
Pay: $20 - $25

(Guidelines available by email.)
Types of fillers: Anecdotes, cartoons, word puzzles, up to 50 words.
Pay: $15 – 40.

matureyears@umpublishing.org (Guidelines available by email.)
Types of fillers: Anecdotes up to 300 words, cartoons, jokes, prayers and word puzzles, up to 30 words.
Pay: $5 – 25

(The website has a link for writers, but the only info is for full-length stories. A contact email is available.)
Types of fillers: Quotes, prose, anecdotes, facts, 50 – 100 words.
Pay: $20

(There is a link for writer’s guidelines on the homepage.)
Types of fillers: Ideas on prayer, 150 – 500 words.
Pay: $25

Types of fillers: Anecdotes, short humor, cartoons, 300 – 600 words.
Pay: up to .05 per word

(Click on “Information Desk” on the homepage for writer’s guidelines.)
Types of fillers: Short humor, jokes, and ideas.
Pay: $15

Types of fillers: Word puzzles.
Pay: $20

(There is a link for writer’s guidelines at the bottom of the homepage.)
Types of fillers: Devotions, seasonal, current issues, Christian living, how-to articles, 50 – 200 words.
Pay: $20

(There is a link for writer’s guidelines at the top of the homepage.)
Types of fillers: Facts and quizzes, 50 – 500 words.
Pay: $25 – 100

Types of fillers: Inspirational anecdotes, 200 – 500 words.
Pay: .15 - .20 per word

Types of fillers: Prayers, prose, anecdotes, facts, cartoons, up to 100 words.
Pay: $25 – 50

Copyright by Rebecca Livermore, a Christian speaker and writer from Denver, Colorado. Her passion is helping people grow spiritually. To read more of her articles, visit

Rebecca’s website or her AC page.
Article Source:

An Extra Little Note

A Song in the Night
Short Fiction
by Delia Latham

She lay atop the covers, wrapped in a blanket of smothering darkness.

Tears moistened her cheeks, and her heart weighed like a stone inside her chest. Outside the open window, an army of crickets played a maddening symphony of joy. Why would God give a million insects such happiness, yet leave her alone in her sorrow?

Sighing, Sarah swung her legs over the edge of the bed and sat up. Fumbling in the darkness, she found a match and, with a quick flick of her wrist, created a tiny blaze in the dark room. The flame burned halfway down the stem before she finally touched it to the wick in her mother’s old oil lamp, bringing shadowy light into the small room.

Turning her head wearily, she stared at the smooth pillow next to her own. Jake’s unruly mop of black waves would never again rumple its cushiony surface.

Rising from the bed, she crossed the room to stand under a beautiful quilt displayed on the wall. It had been a wedding present from Jake’s mother ten years ago, and Sarah never wanted to risk its crisp perfection by actually sleeping under it. Now the colors in the intricate pattern mocked her with their cheerfulness.

Beneath the quilt, a framed photo rested atop an elegant table with graceful, curved legs and clawed feet. Jake’s somber visage stared back at her, his clear eyes eerily light in the black and white tintype. She wrapped trembling fingers around the frame, bringing it closer to her gaze. A tear plopped onto the glass even as a bitter smile curved her lips slightly upward.
Jake Michaels without a smile looked every bit as unnatural as a fish trying to swim in a sand dune. Why did photographers insist that their subjects wear such stern, sober expressions? Especially people like Jake, whose smiles transformed them, made them almost too beautiful to look upon.

“How will I ever go on without you, my love?” Her broken whisper blew a mist of breath onto the glass, making her husband’s handsome face appear ghostly for a brief few seconds. She shuddered, though no hint of chill touched the room.

Her only answer was the incessant chirping of the crickets. A hoarse sob tore past her throat. The photo slipped from her trembling fingers and hit the floor with a sound like a pistol shot.

Sarah blew out the lamp, dropped back onto the bed, and gave vent to the hopelessness that overwhelmed her.

An old bonnet shielded her eyes from the worst of the sun’s glare. Kneeling beside a mound of grassy earth under a huge oak tree near the cabin, she buried various seeds which she pulled from her apron pockets. Within a few weeks, they would turn the spot in which Jake had rested for nigh onto three years now into a gorgeous display of bright blooms.


Sarah rocked back on her heels and turned toward the house. Her heart swelled with a love so strong it pained her. After ten years of heartbreaking failure to conceive, Jake had left her with this final gift—a perfect little piece of himself.

A tousled disarray of dark curls covered little Jakey’s head, and tiny fists dug at his eyes. He yawned, then grinned, seeing her eyes on him.

“Jakey awake!” He ran to her and wrapped his tiny arms around her neck. “Ya makin’ mud pies, Mommy?”

Sarah laughed. “I’m planting flowers, little one.”

“Fowers for Papa?”

“Yes, darling.”

“Will Papa see ’em? Huh?”

She smiled, imagining Jake’s teasing laughter at the idea of her bringing him flowers. “I think he will, Jakey dear. I really think Papa will see them."

“Jakey pant a fower too, Mommy?”

She showed him how to dig a little hole in the soft earth and drop in a few seeds. As he patted the soil back over them, a small black insect landed on the ground not two inches from his pudgy fingers.

“Oh!” The tot jumped backward, both short little legs churning.

Sarah soothed him with a hand in his curls. “It’s okay, Jakey. It’s just a cricket.”


“An insect. A friendly little bug that makes beautiful, happy music.”

Jake’s eyes widened. “Kwicket sing?”

“When his heart is happy, he dances,” she told him, smiling and opening her own eyes wide. “His legs move very fast, and they make a happy song. Perhaps it’s a song of praise for God, little one. What do you think?”

Jakey’s clear blue eyes—so like the father he had never known—gazed in awe at the little creature, which chose that moment to spring away. The child’s face shadowed, and his bottom lip trembled. “Jakey want him legs sing to God.”

Sarah smiled a little. “Well, they sing best when the world is dark, darling.”

Her hands moved deftly among the seeds and weeds as she remembered the dark night three years ago, when the crickets tried so hard to tell her she would feel joy again. In the utter darkness of her sorrow, their music had filled her world. How she had resented their sweet melody! The depth of her pain overwhelmed her, burying the message behind the crickets' song. But they continued to sing, night after dark, lonely night.

And little by little, their song worked its magic on her heart.

Then she discovered the gift Jake had left her, and before long, she could sing too, and her broken heart began to heal. Losing him hurt, and she missed him with every fiber of her being. Still, the little life within her brought some magic back into her heart, and little glimmers of light began to shine once more in a world she thought had gone permanently dark. For the first time since Jake’s death, Sarah believed that morning might come, after all.

She pulled Jakey into her arms and kissed his pouting lips.

“Tonight, son, when the world is very dark, Mommy will wrap you in Grammy's pretty quilt and we'll come outside for awhile. You'll like that, won't you?" Jakey's eyes lit up and he nodded vigorously, setting his soft curls to bouncing. Smiling, Sarah brought her fingertip to her own lips, then touched it to the tip of her son’s little turned-up nose. “The crickets’ will sing, and you, my sweet boy...you will hear their song!”

(Copyright 2008 by Delia Latham)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

An Extra Little Note

I’m thinking about including a brief original piece in this spot in future editions. Some articles will be mine; some will be provided by other authors...if I can talk them into it! :) Let me know what you think about this. Too much content for one newsletter, or a nice break from the norm?

I'll start the ball rolling with an article I wrote for a guest blog spot at
Simply Romance Reviews. I hope you enjoy it.


When I was a little girl, I had a diary. Several, actually. I could never resist purchasing them if the price was small enough to fit my mostly empty pocketbook—especially if I found one a different color from those I already owned.
All those blank pages…they called to me like a siren’s song! It was such fun to fill them with my little girl thoughts and the small, unimportant events in my life. Even better, after every entry, I could close the cover and lock my secrets inside with a tiny key I kept hidden in a special place. In my innocent mind, only I had access to the words I scrawled inside those little books.

I don’t know what ever became of those colorful treasures. And looking back now, I have to smile at the flimsy security provided by the cheaply made locks. (Anyone who really wanted to could have gained entry to the world of my mind.) Still, those diaries served to make me want to write something—anything—even if I were just filling pages with nonsense, and had nothing of any real importance to say.

Perhaps those early journal entries sparked the love of writing that carried through into my adulthood. Who knows? I only wish I had kept them, and could look back on them now.
This type of writing can serve a number of purposes, from therapeutic to informational to biographical.

In my novel,
Goldeneyes, three journals play a part. The mothers of both main characters kept them (yes, there are two main characters…), and their heartfelt entries were a source of vital information for their families in later years. A small town newspaper publisher kept his journalistic notes in a set of matching notebooks. When an unbelievable story landed in his lap and he found himself unable to print it for personal and moral reasons, his journals provided a way of documenting the facts. Intended only for his own eyes, they provided an important piece of a puzzle in later years.

It’s hard to imagine when we’re full of life and relatively healthy, but there will come a time when the memories we share with our friends and loved ones will be all that remain of us. Unfortunately, memories are imperfect, don’t really last forever, and vary from one person to another. (I’m forever telling my brother he remembers things that did not happen!)

But words are concrete. Once written, they don’t change or fade away. Committing our thoughts to a diary—even if not on a daily basis and if only in bite-sized morsels—could provide our children and grandchildren with tangible pieces of our hearts, even after we’re gone.

Case in point: My Uncle Leon was a quiet, unobtrusive gentleman. A real homebody, he didn’t visit extended family a lot, but all of us knew we were welcome in his home any time. He was a kind, gentle man, and very much loved.

After he passed away, I learned that this unassuming man had kept a journal for years. He wrote in it every day. Sometimes he penned lengthy entries, sometimes just a line or two, but he did it consistently. My aunt once laughingly told me that if I ever needed to know what the weather was on any given day within the past 15-20 years, I only needed to find that date in Uncle Leon’s journals. He faithfully documented the local weather every day. Why? Who knows, and does it matter? Apparently it was of some importance to Leon Hankins.

When he died, those books became valued possessions for his two children. They are filled with the thoughts and feelings of their father, written in his own hand, in his own words, in his own way. What could possibly be more him?

People shy away from journaling for different reasons. Let’s talk about them.

I don’t write well. Who cares? They’re your thoughts; you can write them any way you choose. No editor or publisher will pick your words apart or check them for spelling errors. You won’t be graded on your input. The journal belongs to you and you alone. Write it in code if you wish! (Just be sure to create a code key for future generations.)

I will forget to make entries. Probably so, but again...what does it matter? It’s yours. You can decide how frequently you input. But like any other habit, if you make a point of writing consistently—whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly—you’ll find that you start to remember when it’s time to dig out your diary and do your thing.

I don’t have time. Sorry, but…balderdash! If you have time to watch a movie, play a game, work a crossword puzzle—you have time to journal. And what’s more important—watching another rerun of I Love Lucy, or penning your thoughts for posterity?

I have nothing to write about. Yes, you do. You have opinions on various subjects. Share them. (This might be the only venue in which you can discuss religion and politics without starting a debate!) Talk about how your garden grows. Discuss your hopes and dreams, the ones that have fallen by the wayside and the ones you still harbor within your heart. Write about your childhood, what you learned from your mother, what you admired about your dad. Paint a word picture of your favorite (or least favorite) school teacher. Share your favorite verses of scripture. You have plenty to talk about, and it’s all uniquely you.

I’m sure there are other excuses, but that’s all any of them are. Just excuses.

Journaling is a special gift you can give your children, a piece of yourself you can pass on to your grandkids. It’s a little jolt of joy you can bequeath your loved ones.

And that’s priceless.

Isaiah 30:8 (New Life Version) Now go and write it down in front of them. And write it in a book, that it may be seen for all time to come.

In my trembling hands...

Goldeneyes is finally here!

It officially released March 30. Hopefully it’s now available in your local bookstores (if not, ask them to order it for you!). You can also find it online at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com. It’s been such a long wait, and I am undeniably excited to finally hold this book in my ever-so-slightly trembling hands.

For those of you within driving distance of Bakersfield, I have some book signing events set up, starting April 5. Take a look at the event schedule on my website, then check back often—I’ll be updating it as I arrange more signings, speeches, etc.

My blog tour is still ongoing, and I hope you’ve been following it. If not, take a look at the schedule, and go ahead and check out the stops I’ve already made. It’s not too late to leave comments and be entered into the drawing for a free copy of Goldeneyes.

On to other things. My friend Teresa Slack provided the devotion for April. Teresa’s love for the Lord shines through in her writing, and I know you’ll enjoy what she has to say.

Our spotlight author is Denise F. Buckley. Don’t miss the interview with this Squaw Valley, California author on Page 2.

Shirley Kiger Connolly’s new novel, Flame from Within, releases this month. I’m posting a few blurbs from reviews of the book. It sounds fascinating—let’s all go get a copy! I’ve also posted my own review of Courting Emma, by Sharlene MacLaren.

I pray you all had a blessed Easter, and that you took time to remember the meaning behind the holiday. May God shower you with blessings in April. Don’t forget to give thanks every day for each one of them.

Notes of Devotion

Setting Priorities
by Teresa Slack

(Read Haggai 1:2-11)

“You have shown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, earns wages to put them into a bag with holes. Thus says the Lord of Hosts, ‘Consider your ways!’” Haggai 1:6-7

While captive in Babylon, the Israelites cried out to God to let them go home to Jerusalem to worship. Once there, they seemed to forget what God wanted: the rebuilding of the temple. They weren’t doing anything wrong. They were sowing, eating, drinking, and earning wages—things we all must do to survive. Somehow the Israelites were missing God.
Like the Israelites, I sometimes feel unproductive. It seems the more I do, the farther behind I get. Along with what needs done everyday to run my household, I desire to spend more time praying and meditating on God’s Word. I also want to write more, spend more time with my grandchildren, volunteer at a local animal shelter, become more organized and efficient in my business, and even carve out some time for recreational activities.

None of these things are negative, much less sinful. Nevertheless if I allow the pursuit of good things to keep me from pursuing the one, true relationship with my Heavenly Father, I merely “earn wages to put them into a bag with holes."

Balancing our busy schedules without forgetting God is our challenge as children of God. It is up to us to make sure nothing else—regardless of how important—gets in the way of that relationship.

Is there a good thing in your life taking up so much time, you are neglecting your spiritual relationship? Maybe it’s time for each of us reevaluate our priorities. Maybe all we need to do is exercise a little discipline and time management so the things in our lives that need doing do not interfere with our walk with God.
Teresa Slack still lives near the small Ohio town where she once dreamed of writing books. Her first novel, Streams of Mercy, won the 2005 Bay Area Independent Publishers Association’s award for “Best First Novel”. Her fifth novel, Evidence of Grace, the third in the popular Jenna’s Creek Series debuted nationwide at #18 according to Christian Retail Magazine.

She is currently working on Book 4 of her series. To learn more about Teresa and her books, visit her online at http://www.teresaslack.com/.

Author of Note: Denise F. Buckley

Our Author of Note this month is Denise F. Buckley. I’m thrilled to have her here on The Bookshelf.

Q. Welcome to The Bookshelf, Denise! I know my readers want to know all about you as a writer, and we’re going to get to that right away. But first, we’d like to know who you are outside your office. Tell us about Denise Buckley, the lady next door.
A. I am a lover of nature and the outdoors. Living in the foothills of California, I am given the opportunity to experience a great abundance of nature. A typical Saturday is getting up at 4:00 a.m. to feed the horses, cockatoo and dogs, then going for a mid-morning ride. It is not out of the norm for me to be napping on a grassy bed some time in the afternoon, listening to the birds and watching the Turkey Vultures hunting overhead. Paradise!

Q. Sounds like you’re living the dream! That said…I remember creating a bookmark last year for your novel, The Burial of Emily Waters. I loved the cover, and if the synopsis is any indication, it’s an exciting book. Tell us about it.
A. The Burial of Emily Waters is a fast-moving, detailed story about a young woman forced to come to terms with a dark past through the investigation of a grave site located on her newly-purchased property. It is action packed and takes the reader through some unexpected turns. The story has a deep, meaning, however. It is meant to make the reader think about what is truly important in life and to not waste time looking outside for answers that are only found inside us. I call it “the little book about putting things to rest…”

Q. What inspired you to write this book?
A. Writing a novel was always a dream of mine. After some career changes left me feeling unfulfilled I decided it was time. The story ended very differently than it began. Thank God for an overactive imagination.

Q. I believe Emily Waters is your debut novel. How long did it take you (on average) to write the book, from first word to putting it in the publisher’s hands?
A. From first word to the publisher’s hands it took approximately 10 months. Fast for a novel! I tend to be a little obsessive and when I am struck with an idea I can write for hours at a time (with a little help from Starbucks).

Q. Starbucks—ahhh, yes! :) So what’s next, Denise? Can you talk about what you’re working on now?
A. I’d love to! My next novel is very different from the first and focuses on a topic I feel very strongly about: prejudice. My main character is a present-day Assistant D.A. and great granddaughter of the executioner that worked in the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in the early 1930’s. She receives information that her great grandfather may have been in the center of a conspiracy to stop the first white execution in the penitentiary. All she knows is that it should have been Paul Cole, convicted murderer and white man, executed that July day in 1931. The newly found information, however, says otherwise. She is persuaded to travel to Oklahoma and find the truth, no matter how strongly her family begs her not to. Who was really executed that night in 1931? Hang on for the ride!

Q. It sounds truly dynamic. What do you enjoy most about writing? Least?
A. I enjoy that moment when the last word hits the page and you know you have just created a masterpiece! I hate deadlines!

Q. And because inquiring minds still want to know...where do you get your ideas?
A. Every author adds some element of personal experience into their writing. I am no different. My novels are a mixture of true life experiences and a wonderfully overactive imagination. And I will never admit which parts are true and which parts are fiction...however, I am the great-granddaughter of the executioner at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in 1931!

Q. How has your life changed since becoming a published author?
A. I could never have imagined the overwhelming sense of excitement and fear I felt when I found out my novel was being published. I was very humbled and very thankful for the experience. My father passed away a few years prior and I remember lifting my chin to the clouds and smiling, knowing full well he was smiling back down at me. It still takes a little getting used to when someone asks if they can have their photo taken with me!

Q. Take us through a day in the life of Denise Buckley. What kind of schedule do you keep?
A. I am up at 4:00 a.m. to feed the horses. My husband and I just bought a new “fixer-upper” so we are dabbling in “do-it-yourself” home improvements on the weekends. I grow my own vegetables so that also takes up a large amount of my time. I have a regular 8-5 in the city so I spend a lot of commuting time. My husband and I carpool together, which gives us 2-3 hours of quality time a day, for which I am grateful. With chores completed I am in bed by 8:00 p.m. It is a wonderful life!

Q. What books are on your nightstand right now?
A. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet and Charles Dickens The Pickwick Papers.

Q. I know that interviewers often don’t ask the questions an author would really like to talk about. What would you like to say that I haven’t touched on?
A. I guess it would be my love of books and the written word. It doesn’t so much matter to me if you love my novels. What I want to know is that they somehow made the reader think about things they normally wouldn’t have thought about or feel things otherwise unfelt; and that they inspired people to keep reading!

Denise F. Buckley was born on a small farm in Fresno, California. Under the watchful and loving eye of her father, she was introduced to animals of all sorts and cultivated a strong love for horses. Denise has dedicated most of her life to the enjoyment and care of animals and has had the pleasure of working as a veterinary technician and zookeeper. Denise F. Buckley currently resides in Squaw Valley, California, with her husband Greg, four horses, two dogs, four chickens, and three cockatoos. An avid conservationist, Denise enjoys her mountain home and all that nature has to offer. Her favorite pastime is riding horses with her husband through Kings Canyon National Park.

C * O * N * T * E * S * T

to our March winner…

won a free copy of Goldeneyes!

The April prize is a Goldeneyes T-shirt
(Use my website icon to enter)

Only Bookshelf subscribers are eligible for the drawing.
If you haven’t subscribed to receive The Bookshelf each month, do it now—it’s easy! (If the link below doesn’t work for you, just zip on over to my website and click the icon on the home page).

Subscribe to the Bookshelf

My Review: Courting Emma by Sharlene MacLaren

Emma Browning runs the boardinghouse in Little Hickman, Kentucky. At twenty-eight years old, she’s hard as nails, bitter as a green persimmon…and all-in-all quite lovely.

Raised by a drunken, abusive father, Emma’s bitterness is understandable. “Forgiveness” is not a word she even considers adding to her vocabulary. But then the handsome, charming preacher takes up residence in her boardinghouse, his very presence prompting self-examination of the soul. To say nothing of the strange letters she receives from a mysterious Chicago woman who seems bent on effecting both forgiveness and salvation within Emma’s heart.

She’s forced to re-examine her feelings when the annoyingly convincing preacher talks her into taking her ailing parent into her home. Emma—along with the rest of the town—watches the once hard-nosed and harder-drinking old codger become a new creature in Christ. Much against her own will, she discovers how much she still loves her father. But will he live long enough for her to be able to say so?

Courting Emma is an enchanting inspirational romance, one that will not be easily forgotten. Sharlene MacLaren has a real handle on developing well-rounded, believable characters who walk right into readers’ hearts. They in turn are drawn so inexorably into the realistic community that they’ll hesitate to leave when they reach the last page.
The first two books in the Little Hickman Creek Series introduced us to Little Hickman and its friendly (as well as not-so-friendly), funny, courtly and captivating residents. We fell in love with the people, the place, and the writer’s masterful storytelling.

Book # 3 continues the excellent standards already set in the first two books. Once again, the author delivers moments of laugh-out-loud humor and others of bring-on-the-tissue pathos. She paints a vivid picture of life at the turn of the century. And once again, a straight-forward message of truth and salvation is woven so intricately into the storyline that one hardly knows they’ve heard it … except for those gentle stirrings within the heart and mind.
Christian fiction at its unforgettable best!

Additional Review Notes


Here’s what reviewers are saying about Shirley Kiger Connolly’s new release, Flame from Within.

Set in Vicksburg, Mississippi in 1864, Shirley Kiger Connolly's novel, Flame from Within, traces the grief of Amethyst Rose at the tragic loss of her family. Southern bitterness "runs as deep and wide as the Mississippi," and the sight of the blue Yankee uniform stirs anger, hatred and horrid memories.

With nothing left of her home, Amethyst, or Aimee, and her former slave, now loyal companion, Lulu, set out in search of her sister, to break the news of their loss. Less than welcomed by "Florette," Aimee is put to work and intended as a commodity in a brothel.

A series of events takes Amethyst from one location to another, her path unwillingly crossing that of the blue-uniformed Yankee.

A story of bitterness, healing, forgiveness and romance, Flame from Within provides a glimpse of Civil War life in the south, while offering hope in the face of loss and hurt. Worth the read, Connolly's novel is entertaining and encouraging.
—Author's Choice Reviews

... A larger-than-life novel by a woman who truly knows how to develop a plot. This epic work of fiction is an unbelievable tale of the Civil War story of a young woman named Amethyst Rose (Aimee) Lebrun who, as the story expands, has not one, but four possibilities as her love interest.

Flame from Within is an incredibly well-written, easy to read, impossible to put down, chronicle of one young lady's journey through the years of the Civil War. Kudos to the author, Ms. Connolly!

—The Romance Studio

... Engaging, well written and entertaining.

—Coffee Time Romance

An exclusive message from the author regarding The Flame from Within.

Sometimes it is important to read between the lines. Such as learning Flame From Within speaks to more than simply the outer manifestation of a war going on between states. You saw the war going on in Aimée’s heart.

To some readers she may have appeared rather callous, self-centered, perhaps too spoiled. There is a reason for that.

It is a fact many who have come from dysfunctional or troubled homes where there has been abuse spoken or unspoken often vent out in various ways. Sometimes they mask the traits of their true character. Eventually even, they no longer know who they are. The pain and suffering they feel within has grown too deep. Perhaps you know someone like that.

Although we do not read the specifics of what happened to Aimée who was physically abused as a child by her sister Florette, the undercurrent of her earlier trauma continues to thread its way throughout the story revealing itself, by her own fear of men drawing too close, and showing in her difficulty to forgive and to love others. The emotional sufferings of her abusive past grows deeper and builds into bitterness when she loses her home, especially her father who knew about her sister. By then she could blame her feelings on the war.

Life is so often like that. Those who live in darkness quickly become, filled with hidden emotions just waiting to come alive.

Aimée Lebrún finally found her way out. She was able to learn to love and forgive again. Thankfully, her sister whose brother abused her as well was able to also.

It is my desire others who have had troubled pasts can read this story and like Aimée and Florette learn the way out of their own inner darkness by opening their hearts and allowing God to come in and spark that Flame From Within them too.

Shirley Kiger Connolly

Speaking with Spark by Dr. Chuck Wall

This is the final segment
of a special multi-part series
by Dr. Chuck Wall—president
and founder of Random Acts
of Kindness.


Thinking about a 20-minute speech can be a bit intimidating and cause considerable heartburn as you try to prepare it. I have found an easy way to get started that takes much of the stress out of speech preparation.

Don’t think of a 20-minute speech, but of three smaller speeches. One is a 2½-minute speech called “The “Introduction.” The second is a 15-minute speech called “The Body of the Speech,” and the third is a 2½ minute speech called “The Conclusion.”

In brief, the Introduction tells the audience what you plan to tell them. The Body of the Speech tells them. The Conclusion tells them what you told them.

Be careful not to introduce material in the Introduction that you do not plan to discuss in the Body of your speech. You might say, “For centuries, pottery has been a common gift from those who possess such skills. In my presentation today I will describe some of the types and shapes of pottery that I make and give as gifts to friends and family. My pottery is based upon centuries old designs which I would like to share with you today.”

You have now vocalized what you plan to discuss, and you’d better do just that or once again you have deceived your audience. I make a point of this because I have heard many speakers tell their audience what they plan to speak about in their introduction and then never mention the topic again. If you carefully craft your introduction, the rest of the speech becomes quite easy as you are now merely following through with what you said you want to talk about.

I like to use the “Three Points” rule when preparing a speech. The audience can usually stay with you if you present three distinct issues during your 15-minute Body segment. Try to introduce too many topics, and your audience will become confused and lost in the details.
You probably have a good idea what specific information you want your audience to carry away with them. But have you organized your ideas in such a way that you will stay on track with the information you wish to share? This brings up the issue of speech notes.


Do not use standard writing paper, which is prone to rattle, wrinkle and slide away just as you are trying to figure out what you meant to say next. A better idea is to invest in 5 x 7 index cards with no lines at least on one side and preferably no lines at all. You will be writing across the 5-inch width rather than following lines across the 7-inch width of the card. Why? Because if you write on the 7-inch width, you are tempted to write sentences or write down far more information than is necessary for a 20-minute speech.

Why is that a problem? Where there are sentences, there is also a tendency to want to read those sentences. No one can read a speech and make it sound natural. Ronald Reagan came close, but still didn’t quite succeed.

When preparing your notes, bear in mind the three parts to your speech: the Introduction, the Body of the Speech and the Conclusion. Therefore, use three note cards. On the first card use green ink. On the second card, use blue ink and red for the third card. Yes, rest assured there is a method to what sounds like arbitrary madness. These colors are a code. With the green card, you are just starting; blue has you in the body of your talk; and the red card is your conclusion – time to wind things up.

Print your notes, making the words large enough so you do not have to squint or look down and lose eye contact with your audience. Notes should be just that – notes, not complete thoughts. Leave out words that will not trigger thoughts.

For instance, the words, “Now let me describe for you…” have no place on a note card. Instead use key words that are central to your point. Words such as “ancient wheels” and “electric wheels” will do fine if you are describing how potters’ wheels have changed over the centuries. Other key words (keeping our theme in mind) might be “candle holders,” “fruit bowls,” and “coffee mugs.” Each of these thought joggers would be on a separate line, and would remind you of the various pottery items you like to give as holiday gifts.

On the blue ink card which describes the body of your talk, number your points to be made in the left hand column. This keeps you on track with the sequence you wish to follow. Write on only one side of your note cards, so you won’t get lost turning them over and lose your place. As soon as you have completed one card, remove it from the podium. Put the card on the shelf below or on the table next to the podium. This will keep you focused on the specific points you want to emphasize, without being distracted by cards you’re no longer using.

Now it is time to do the one thing many speakers think they do not need to do, and that is PRACTICE.
That’s all, folks! Dr. Wall has some great suggestions on rehearsing your speech. He also talks about presentation, using your voice to best effect, details to think about, and providing contact information for your audience. But if you want to take advantage of his vast experience, you’ll have to purchase Speaking with Spark. It’s only $5.95, and worth every penny. Follow this link to get your copy.

Dr. Chuck Wall is a published author, lecturer and motivational speaker in the fields of communications, stress management, employee motivation, leadership and "random acts of kindness."

Even though he is blind, Dr. Wall does not consider himself disabled, but merely must spend extra time dealing with one of life’s little nuisances.

Learn more about Random Acts of Kindness and/or purchase Speaking with Spark—a 53-page spiral bound booklet jam-packed with speaking hints.