Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I Wish You Love

February - the month for lovers. Twenty-eight days filled with hearts and flowers, chocolates and roses. Cupids fly overhead in nearly every retail venue. Jewelry store sales boom. Wedding chapels see a steady stream of brides and grooms.

It's the stuff of fairy tales. We'll talk about a few of those in this edition of The Bookshelf... In fact, I'll scoot right on out of the way here, because my talented contributors have some
really good pieces for you this month. I know you’re going to enjoy them.

This month’s spotlight author, Shirley Kiger Connolly, delivered valuable writing tips in January – ideas on keeping our writing seasoned, illuminated, and spiritually significant. You will enjoy our chat with Shirley. Amy Deardon brings the advice for writers this month, in “A Fairy Tale.” It’s good, sound advice – be sure to take a look.

Pamela James (aka Pammer) brings this month’s devotion - "Finding Prince Charming." I always enjoy Pammer’s words. You will, too – especially if, as a married woman, you’re th
inking this elusive male icon simply does not exist.

Want a good, romantic book to curl up with in front of the fireplace? Check out my review of Miralee Ferrell’s new release, Love Finds You in Last Chance, California. This could be what you're looking for.

I want to offer a sincere thank you for stopping by The Bookshelf. Without you, all of the late nights spent putting it together would be in vain. I hope you enjoy this month’s edition – and if you do, why not send a friend over too?

I wish you all a fairy-tale Valentine's Day with your very own Prince Charming!

Notes of Devotion - Pamela James

Finding Prince Charming
by Pamela James

“Lord, please change him!”

Come on ladies, how many times have you prayed this or some cleverly disguised variation concerning your husband, fiancé, or boyfriend?

I prayed that particular prayer on more occasions than I care to admit. And many variations thereof, trying to fool myself that it was anything but a selfish prayer.

Have you awakened and suddenly wondered what happened to all the Prince Charmings? I’m a romantic soul and I love fairy tales. Happy endings are a must for me. After the honeymoon is over and the kids come, finances are tight and you are pulled in so many different directions you no longer know which end is up. You wonder where all the heroes went.

I pondered this early this year. God had been working on my outlook of family relationships and friendships. I looked at my husband and listed several of his nice qualities. Qualities I hadn’t taken time to notice in a long, long time. I made a few changes so that I could spend more time with him, and the most amazing thing happened.

See, the Bible tells us to respect our husbands. I think that is one of the hardest things the Lord asks us to do. Submission to Christ is one thing, submission to your husband is quite another. But the Bible is clear:

Ephesians 5:33 - . .and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

Do you see any qualifiers there? Does it say if he deserves it? Does it say “when he brings home a five-figure paycheck”? No. Just respect him.

I believe you have to start it. You can’t be married for very long before you get hurt. Your husband says something insensitive, he does something wrong, something happens and you fight and retreat to your respective corners. The mistake is staying in that corner. Forgive him. Whether he asks for it or not. Show him the respect God told you to show. He may still be angry for a while longer, but don’t give up.

Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

My husband had a temper problem. I made the first step and showed him respect (men tend to see respect and love as the same thing). I affirmed his wise counsel. He hasn’t even raised his voice in over a month. When we have a disagreement, we work it out in civil tones. All those things I wished he was, that I thought I married him for? They had gotten put on the back burner, just like his wants and needs had in my mind.

When I became the proper kind of wife, I suddenly realized that my Prince Charming had been there all along. He just needed a little attention to shine like the day we met.

Is your Prince Charming still there? I dare you to find out.

Visit Pamela's Website

Visit Pamela's Blog

Author of Note - Shirley Kiger Connolly

Shirley Kiger Connolly
February Author of Note

Welcome back to The Bookshelf, Shirley! Before I start asking a lot of off-the-cuff questions, let’s find out who you are. Tell us about Shirley Connolly, the lady next door.

I don’t remember if I told you I was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, but it was back when I was a little girl in Oregon that I took hold of my love and desire to write. Even through many years of concentrating on other things like the raising of children, and finding hobbies to occupy my time when I wasn’t working at a school, I would always go somewhere to be by myself so I could put something down on paper about something. That is truly me and always has been. When I am not writing I am with my animals, learning things from them, or reading, or watching a good old movie with my husband, and in the cold weather, I often do stitchery of some kind. Many know I have this thing about moving my furniture around in one of my rooms, and it is really a thing with me to be creative that way with my decorating. The ladies who come over for Bible Study at my home laugh every time they come around because of the changes around my house. I’ve been a Christian since I was quite young, and it was through my relationship with the Lord that I developed a passion for women’s ministry and teaching, where before I had concentrated more on youth. This (passion) blossomed when my husband became a pastor. After several years of teaching women of the love of the Lord and how to grow in their walk, I began writing not only my fiction books but devotional reflections about the Lord which turned into the publishing of my newest book, I See God in the Simple Things.

What an interesting and diverse lady next door! Now we can talk about your books. How many do you have published?

Consider me still a newbie if you like. At this date, I have published three books thus far. One devotional book, and two fiction novels. The one released in April of 2008 was my most recent, an historical, Flame from Within.

Tell us about I See God in the Simple Things, since it will be the next one available.

I am really looking forward to the release of Simple Things, Delia. This light hearted devotional was first published in 2005, but my publisher at that time charged an awful lot for a person to purchase it, which was discouraging. My present editor asked me if she could read it, so I sent it to her. She loved it and offered to publish it again. After stopping the first print, I decided to make a few changes…just a few, and now I am anxious to see this now-much- more-affordable edition out on the market. I See God in the Simple Things is a compiling of a number of reflections I have shared lately with other women. They all reflect on the trueness of life whether it is through the eyes of an animal, for example your pet chicken, or your dog or your cat…maybe your goat. I tried to marry up the experiences of life with simple things like what animals go through or broken plumbing or dirty dishes, you name it, and I found out so simply how God can teach us the most amazing things about our own lives by looking at life in that way and seeing how He pulls you through (or your chicken through) whatever tough time you might have found yourself in. I don’t know if that makes sense, but it works! It really works. And God is so good, the way He draws these things to mind. In the book, each reader takes the same journey by getting an opportunity to share about an experience he or she has been through that might relate and how God ministered.

I See God in the Simple Things releases in a couple of weeks. I pray people will check it out when it does.

Just an added note: My Simple Things book is the first in a three-part series! Readers can also be watching for I See God in the Thorns ‘n Thistles and I See God on that Narrow Road.

Sounds like some wonderful books for us to look forward to, Shirley. How long have you been writing? Was there an “aha” moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

I think I probably explained that at the beginning. It started when I was eight to be specific. I absolutely knew then, Delia.

How much time do you devote to your craft?

I start my day at around 8 a.m. and usually go until around 3 p.m. with only a break to take a walk with my husband and eat some lunch. I stay with it six days a week.

Any advice for new and aspiring writers?

It’s been said before, “Never give up.” If you believe you are called to write just keep at it. You will be blessed for your efforts in some way. You’ll see.

Now for that off-the-cuff stuff I mentioned.

If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question – what question would you ask of whom?

For a Christian, “What is the Lord doing in your life right now to make you want to continue to serve Him?” For someone else, I think rather than asking them a question (I am often quiet around the masses), I might start off by being a good listener. Then I would find a way to ask them if they have ever had an encounter with the Lord at any time. Those two questions are real important, and we get only so many opportunities, you know.

What crayon in the box describes you best on a good day? Bad day?

On a good day, Burnt Sienna. On a bad day, I don’t open that crayon box, because my brain isn’t working well enough to read the crayons.

You’re going on a very long trip. Which of the following will you take with you?
Book: Bible and my favorite light read
: Fernando Ortega or some Irish Music
son: My husband, Tom
: Used to be Mexican food. No more (I’m on Weight Watchers). Now, I think it would be a really busy salad with bleu cheese dressing on the side.

What would you do today if you knew you had only a week to live?

I would want to see the people I love dearly, even if I haven’t seen them for a long, long time, and I would want to write a poem about my entire life to pass down to those who will be here after I’m gone. I know my poem would include the awesomeness of God and what He will do for any person if they will only give Him that opportunity, just like He did me.

What word annoys you more than any other?

Any swear word or to hear a Christian say the phrase, “Oh my G....,” when we are never to use the Lord’s name in vain. It just grates at me terribly, and it is used so often, even by children.

What “super power” would you like to borrow for awhile?

To be able to tell my disorder to never bother me again. (I live with a seizure disorder (SD)…my thorn in the flesh.)

What’s your favorite chore? Least favorite?

Oh, Delia!

My favorite: cleaning up my Victorian parlor and my Victorian bathroom (my favorite rooms in the house).

My worst: Putting the clothes away that I just folded from the laundry.

Anything you’d like to do but don’t because of some underlying fear?

I don’t think I could consider it a fear. But I quit driving back in 1998 because of blacking out while driving. That day, I hit two parked cars and a tree. After that I told the doctor I didn’t think I should drive anymore even though I knew my SD was regulated right. I have to partly consider that a fear, but not only that, a sense of knowing myself too well. I don’t trust my fuzzy brain sometimes.

Share a grammatical pet peeve…go ahead, sound off.

People writing or saying, “You know,” and the words “And, uh,” would be a couple of things that grate me wrong. Now that I have POV (point of view) down, it is funny how that bothers me too, when someone gets it messed up. I’m usually pretty forgiving with the grammatical stuff when it comes to writing, since I’m not the best myself.

Share a societal pet peeve…here’s your chance to blast ‘em.

People that put things and people down before they really understand that issue or that person. The judgments of people on others. Christians are guilty of this too. It does bother me sometime.

Thank you for hanging out at The Bookshelf for awhile, Shirley! We can’t wait to read I See God in the Simple Things! When and where can we get it?

Simple Things (as I call it for short) will be releasing this month (February). A person can first pick it up at Amazon or Barnes and Noble, and of course, through my publisher, VR Publishing. I really hope your readers will check it out. It’s a fun read for the Christian and even for someone who knows nothing about Christianity. It really opens the eyes in a simple, fun way.

I hope my readers run right out and find that book, Shirley – I intend to! Thanks again, and we hope you sell a million.

Shirley has published several books and lives on the Southern coast of Oregon with her husband, Tom. A fiction and nonfiction writer, and teacher to women, Shirley also spends time with her animals, incorporating their experiences with how the Lord teaches people about life. She and her husband have served in the ministry since 1980. Shirley’s life passion is working with women and helping them grow in their faith. You can visit Shirley Kiger Connolly anytime at her website at http://apenforyourthoughts.blogspot.com/ or http://shirleykoinonia.tripod.com/.

Notes on Writing - Amy Deardon

A Fairy Tale
by Amy Deardon

Once upon a time, there was a king riding in the woods. In the distance he saw a peasant maiden. She wasn't beautiful, but even so he fell in love with her and decided he wanted to marry her. He rode away, thinking about how he might be able to do this.

He was a good and wise king. The king was so wise that he knew love – true love, sacrificial love – was more valuable than anything else. If he came to the maiden, majestic in his kingly robes and surrounded by servants, then of course she would go with him, but he didn't want this. He wanted her to go with him without being overwhelmed, because she wanted to. He wanted her to love him.

After long thought, he decided he might be able to have her fall in love with him if he came to her door dressed as a peasant, and humbly wooed her. However, this posed a tremendous risk for him: He might be rejected. As king, he was used to having his slightest wish obeyed instantly. Dare he risk rejection?

He dressed himself in rags and knocked at her door. The maiden almost shut the door in the king's face, but he smiled at her and she decided to take a walk with him...


This is the fragment of a fairy tale that I don't know where I heard it from. It's all I remember, and I've never run across it again. Possibly when I was very little my babysitter just made it up for me. I've always loved it. I've kicked around the idea of adapting this into a premise for a modern novel, so if I do this you'll know where it came from.

Story is a powerful medium, I believe, because it can resonate. At its best, story touches something deep within our hearts and therefore allows messages to penetrate into the mind. While writing my first novel, I became fascinated with the structure of story, and in my typical obsessive-compulsive manner tore apart more than twenty films and novels to see how they were put together. I timed or word-counted each scene, calculated percentages etc., then laid different stories side by side to understand the patterns that might be present.

Recognizing the pattern in story is not a formula. I liken it to sketching a face. An artist will tell you that a person's eyes are about halfway down the head, and are separated by another eye width. The tips of the ears land at an imaginary horizontal line about eyebrow height. The bottom of the nose lands an eye-width below the bottom of the eyes, and so forth. Faces are infinitely varied, yet if the artist ignores these rough proportions, no matter how beautifully drawn the face will always look "wrong."

As I analyzed story after story, I was struck with how there was only one pattern. It is as if we humans have an innate sense of story that is detailed, yet unvarying. The closer the novel or film conforms to this innate pattern, the more it resonates within us. I am currently developing an algorithm for step-wise story development, and writing up my findings that I hope to publish next year.

Interestingly, the story of the last week of Jesus' life before crucifixion as recorded in the Bible completely follows the story pattern. Jesus is an itinerant preacher (ordinary world) who decides to enter Jerusalem for the Passover by riding in on a donkey (inciting incident). He antagonizes the Jewish authorities who don't know how they can get rid of him. Then, Judas approaches the authorities and offers to betray Jesus (door). In the meantime, Jesus preaches, visits friends, then prepares with his disciples for the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Last Supper). Judas runs off to tell the authorities where Jesus is (midpoint). After dinner Jesus leads disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane and prays for strength (solving hidden need). The authorities arrest Jesus (antagonists get stronger) and at trial find him guilty and worthy of death. In the morning Jesus appears in front of Pontius Pilate so that Pilate can ratify the verdict (slide; Snyder's whiff of death; nature of climax is now clearly seen). Jesus is crucified and dies (darkest moment). Two days later Peter and John go to the tomb and find it opened (help from outside). Jesus appears as a conqueror of death that demonstrates his death was sufficient payment for sin (climax), then stays on Earth 40 more days before ascending into Heaven (resolution).

Since I believe that everything is related to everything else, sometimes I wonder why it might be that the story is shaped like this. I've previously mentioned that I came to faith in the Christian God under protest through study of the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus -- there is good objective evidence for the resurrection; check out my website at http://www.amydeardon.com/ I like to think that maybe God Himself placed this story structure within us as yet one more way that humans may respond to His call.

Hmm. It's nice to think about, anyway. Have a wonderful day, my dear friends.

© Amy Deardon

About Amy:

I'm married and fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with our two children who both earned their black belts in tae kwon do last summer.

Besides tapping on the computer keyboard, periodically I play the flute. The most moving performance (for me) was playing for a crowded memorial service for a serviceman killed in the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001. I took over a year on a personal quest to investigate the claims of Jesus' resurrection with the goal of destroying them. To do this I studied Biblical accounts of Jesus and numerous commentaries by believers and skeptics alike, listed the facts agreed upon, and began to explore scenarios that could explain what was known. To my surprise and considerable dismay, the evidence kept pointing away from naturalistic explanations and eventually formed a virtually certain case for the resurrection of Jesus. Finally I admitted defeat and became a Christian.

My first novel, A Lever Long Enough (released in January 2009), combines my loves of technology and derring-do with the universal longing for transcendent truth. I believe there is a rational basis for this longing.

Review - Love Finds You in Last Chance, California

Alexia Travers’ world takes a decided downward spiral when her beloved father dies unexpectedly. In the aftermath of his death, the devastated young woman is dealt a number of shocking revelations: The horse ranch she and her father ran together is heavily mortgaged; gold has been found on their property, but only her father knew where; he was keeping something from her just prior to his death; and hidden among her friends, acquaintances and hired hands is someone who does not have her best interests at heart.

It’s 1877, and the world isn’t ready for take-charge women, but that doesn’t deter Alex. Dressed in the men’s pants which have long made her an object of derision among Last Chance’s female population, she takes her father’s place riding the range – fiercely independent, stubbornly proud, and set on paying off the unwelcome debt by making the ranch a success on her own. Her father taught her everything she needed to know to manage the spread, and she’ll move heaven and earth, if necessary, to make it work.

Enter Justin Phillips, a widower with a three-year-old son in tow. He’s a talented wrangler looking for a job - and he’s willing to work for a woman. Having already lost a few ranch hands for no better reason than her gender, Alex needs someone like Justin. But can she trust him? He’s mannerly, not afraid to work, and knows how to handle a horse – but the man obviously has more than one secret. He also has a pair of brown eyes that play havoc with her emotions, and an adorable little boy who captures her heart right from the get-go. Dare Alex allow this handsome stranger into her world?

Dare she not?

More importantly, in her struggle to maintain independence…in the effort to show herself strong and capable in her father’s stead…will Alex ever learn to lean on the only One who can solve all her problems and insure a happy outcome?

Love Finds You in Last Chance, California has something for everyone. It’s a story of faith forgotten, renewed, and under fire; a poignant portrait of sweet romance blooming against all odds; a captivating story of hope, inspiration, and unquenchable love. It’s an overall good book with moments of heart-pounding suspense, enough mystery to keep the pages turning, and a carefully doled dosage of tender romance.

I thoroughly enjoyed this peek into the historical town of Last Chance. Miralee Ferrell “brings it on” in this one – a well-written, entertaining and inspiring tale.

MIRALEE FERRELL is a Christian author who lives in rural Washington with Allen, her husband of 35 years. Together they have two grown children. She serves on staff at her local church and is actively involved in ministry to women. Read more at www.miraleeferrell.com.

Contest Notes - February

The January winner of Leaving November by Deborah Raney is Cat S. Congratulations, Cat – you’re gonna love this book!

The February drawing will be for a copy of Gone with the Groom by Janice A. Thompson. As a Valentine’s Day extra, the February winner will also receive an 8.4 oz. bottle of Avon Naturals Body Spray in the refreshing Mandarin & Jasmine fragrance AND an Avon Footworks 3-head foot file.

You don’t need to “do” anything to enter the newsletter drawing each month. If you are subscribed to The Bookshelf, you will be automatically entered. Here’s how to subscribe: Use the icon on my website’s Home page, or the link in the Navbar (top of page) on that site, which will put you on my e-mailing list. If you want Bookshelf articles to come right to your inbox each month instead of receiving just a link, use the FeedBlitz link in the top left corner of this page in addition to the manual icon on my website.)