Friday, April 30, 2010

waving goodbye to April

I've decided all work and no blogging makes me a very dull girl. I really miss you all! And I'd be remiss if I didn't post something regarding Kentucky's premier event this weekend - the Kentucky Derby. The photos here sum up what I love about this May event - the big house, all that yummy southern food, fancy hats, fresh flowers, mint juleps in ice cold silver cups, sunny weather (actually rain is forecast), and horses. My mom holds a derby party every year which is far more humble than the affair shown here. I've judged who has the most fetching hat on more than one occasion. It's always a fun, festive event. By the way, those thoroughbred horses live better than I do in those air-conditioned barns and exercise/swimming pools:) Their stables are a sight to behold!

I'm taking a brief break from writing. I so appreciate any prayers or kind thoughts on my behalf. I've entered the stage where writing is work. Since I never equated it with anything other than bliss, this comes as a surprise. God delights in causing us to exercise our faith, I know. This is one such exercise. I can't wait to tell you about upcoming books once the ink is dry. If the project doesn't fly, maybe I can share about that, too. It's all in His hands. What a relief that is!

What I'd like to be reading right now if I had the time:
Ransome's Honor by Kaye Dacus
She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell
Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs

I'd love to know what you've been doing, reading, or writing since we last connected here. Any reading treasures in hand or on order? Any travel plans for summer?


  1. Oh, I love the Derby - horse racing in general, actually.

  2. I bet they have some good Tennessee races, Ruth - or should! Hope you have a wonderful Derby weekend:)

  3. I love the Derby! One of the great things about living in Lexington is there will be all day coverage tomorrow. I'm planning to do my errands early tomorrow, and then just sit back and watch it.

    The picture of the mint julep made me smile. When I was a senior in high school, we had a Derby Party in my Kentucky history class. We made mint juleps, non-alcoholic of course, and I remember saying the bourbon has to make them taste better.

    My mother used to always be able to pick the winner of the Derby. She would look at the list of horses in the Herald-Leader, and say this one will win. She'd not picked a winning horse since my stepdad talked her into placing a bet in 1995.

    I've been in a Victorian mood this week. I finally watched The Young Victoria last night, and it was great! Reading wise, I've been reading mysteries. I've read And Only to Deceive and A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander. They're both set in the Victorian period, and there's two more in the series.

    You shall certainly be in my prayers.

  4. I missed your blog, Laura, and am happy to see you back again. Being from the north, I've never known much about the Kentucky Derby so I enjoyed your posting about it. The festivities sound like fun.

    It's so good to know our lives, and our writing, is in God's hands. I pray that you have peace during your break from writing and find ways to rejuvenate. Writing is such a lifestyle and can become all consuming. But even if life we need vacations now and again, don't we? So I hope you come back refreshed and renewed, with new vision for how the Lord wants to use your writing ministry and keep the joy in your spirit.

    I'm honored to pray for you! {{{hugs!}}}

  5. So glad to have you back to blogging, Laura!

    Dare I say it? I never been much of a "horsey" type person. I know all little girls are supposed to be wild about horses but I never was. We are in horse territory here, too, but I've never been to one of the races.

    I'm so glad you are taking care of yourself and resting when you need it. We do not want you to get burned out! Please take time to read, walk, nap, and do some things just for fun that are not associated with writing. (Except don't stop blogging---that *is* a fun type of writing that is not stressful, right?) :-)

    Both the Mitchell and Higgs books are on my to-be-read list. Have you read Francine Rivers' newest one yet? It is a pure joy to read.
    Right now I'm branching out to find some good secular fiction, which isn't always easy. I've found lately that it's not easy to find anything good, no matter what genre it is!

    Blessings to you!

  6. Yay, you're back! Missed you here. I'm about halfway through Here Burns My Candle. It was slow starting for me, but now I'm having trouble putting it down to work on my own novel!

    Here is a wonderful verse from 2 Cor. with a promise I pray for you: "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work." Paul is talking about money here, but this is a promise I pray for writers in regard to passion, inspiration, story ideas, and all the myriad issues and challenges authors face in the course of writing a book.

    It's always been work for me. The very hardest work I've ever attempted. But when it's there on the page and it feels right, and I know it's the best I can do at this moment with what skill I've mastered... there is no other feeling like it!

  7. Keepin' pushing through, Laura! God is right there with you!

    I just finished reading Susan May Warren's Nothing But Trouble- what a great book! I really want to read She Walks in Beauty too. :) It's coming from the publisher soon.

    I am going to start writing my new novel soon. My first just isn't flying and so after a class with Susan May Warren and Chip MacGregor, I am plotting my first contemporary novel! I am actually excited about this one. :)

    I know you can do it! I will keep you in my prayers. :)

  8. You always have such a lovely blog with those great pictures and so many great comments. I need you to teach me how to download/upload those from the net. I have only figured out how to do my own photos.

    Let me know about that drying ink.

  9. Michelle, So glad we Kentuckians are celebrating Derby Day together! I will be thinking of you tomorrow as you watch. Wish I could just blink myself there:)

    That's neat/funny about your mom and her winners and your Ky history class - I think I would love mint part but I hate the taste of bourbon, even bourbon balls! It really is a very exciting race. I always have a favorite and am so sorry when they are injured or lose or the jockey has some trouble.

    I'm glad you liked The Young Victoria. I can't wait to watch it again. It's my carrot when I finish my work, hopefully next week. You've given me a good author - Tasha - to look up. I bet you've read Silent in the Grave and Deeanna Raybourne's novels. I may be misspelling her name but she is so popular. My Kentucky cousin sent me some of her books or I might have missed her.

    Anyway, happy derby day to you, dear Michelle!

  10. Carla, It's a privilege to pray for you, too:) I did this morning and am thinking of your dad, especially.

    You said some very important words - consuming, refreshed, renewed, JOY. It is so easy to let the little things curb our JOY (my favorite word this week). I had to pray that the Lord would restore my JOY as I was out of balance for awhile. But I truly believe prayers of faithful friends like you make all the difference.

    I'm trying to memorize this verse for Bible study and you reminded me of it:
    Therefore, repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 3:19

    Love the "refreshing" part! Abundant hugs right back to you! May your weekend be blessed. So happy to hear from everyone today.

  11. Goodness Laura, I have a list of at least 10 books (and the list keeps growing) I’m dying to get my hands on this year! They’re all inspirational-historical-romance-fiction of course, the only kind I read- because in my opinion, God should ALWAYS be the most important Character in a book, weaved throughout every scene and sprinkled on every page, and there is just something about history that makes things extra romantic and has me questioning if I was born in the wrong century ;)
    New author Cara Lynn James (she’s on the Seekerville blog) has a book called “Love on a Dime” that just became available on Amazon and it should be in my hands no later than Wednesday! I’m so excited about this book because it’s set in 1899 Newport, Rhode Island, and I’m from RI!!! It’s not every day a book is set in the smallest state :) I got to read an excerpt from her book too and it sounds wonderful! Another new author whose first book (two actually) is coming out this year is Karen Witemeyer. Her first book is coming out in June and is called “A Tailor-Made Bride” you can read an excerpt of it on her website, and her other book “Head in the Clouds” is coming out in October. If these excerpts are anything to go by, we can expect some amazing stuff from these two lovely ladies! And of course at the TOP of my list is “Courting Morrow Little” by this brilliant, crazy talented author named Laura Frantz, you may have heard of her? ;)
    Oh, Laura, you are so right- it IS such a relief to know everything (including ourselves) is safely tucked away in the very capable hands of our Father! May Jesus Christ mount you up on wings as eagles, may you run and not grow weary, walk and not faint. May the Lord grant you peace in your sufferings, joy in your circumstances, faith in your trials, wisdom in your testing’s, patience in all your situations, and discernment to know what to receive and what to rebuke. Two of my favorite scriptures are (Psalm 61:2) “When my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” and (Isaiah 26:3) “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee.” I love the KJV because it just sounds so much more beautiful and poetic, again my love of history :) I have NO idea the stress a writer must go through. I write and put together my church newsletter every month and I feel overwhelmed, and it’s only being read by the people in my church. I can’t imagine what writing a book feels like, but God is faithful, Amen?! When God calls us to something, He also equips us for the task. Whenever I can’t think of what to write I say, “God, this is Your newsletter for Your church, and it’s only You that can write it. Please use me to glorify You and edify others.” I go from having not a single thing to having to shorten it because I ran out of space :) When God is doing the pouring our cup overfloweth! Laura, may the ultimate Author of romance continue to guide you as you script your beautiful masterpieces for His glory! God bless you friend!!!

    Amanda Stanley

  12. Mary, I've missed you! And I will cough up the confession that I am not a horsey type either, having been bucked off a pony at age 12 which nearly left me scalped by a big tree as I came down:) Time might have embellished the tale in my overactive imagination but that is certainly the way I remember it. And I haven't been on a horse since!

    I'm not supposed to agree but it is very hard to find a satisfying book, be it in the secular or CBA markets. I wish it was otherwise but you state the truth. Am so glad you liked Francine River's latest. I've seen that one at Walmart and wish I had time for it. Lori here loved it, too. Time for me to go back and read Redeeming Love as it's been years.

    This weekend I hope to put your plan of relaxation in action and plant some flowers - lavender and lobelia and alyssum, my personal favorites. Now if the sun would cooperate...

    Be blessed, dear Mary!

  13. Lori, You better just put your WIP in a drawer as I've heard the last half of Higg's HBMC is unstoppable:)I wonder why beginnings are so hard to write? They are always so for me. I have a prologue in CML (a no-no) and then a fat first chapter with more no-nos:) Maybe Liz does the same!?

    Thanks for such a rousing welcome back! You are one of the reasons I blog at all. And your verse here is just beautiful and applies to writing so very well.

    Writing IS work but like you said, when it works well, it is so gratifying. And you have such a gift with words!!

  14. Casey, I'm so excited to hear about your new WIP! I think it would be really neat to write a contemporary. Your excitement really comes through and I think that's so key. A book must be infused with JOY and enthusiasm and you have that. I promise to pray for you as you begin. Please keep me updated. There's nothing quite like book talk!

    I really enjoy hearing about the ACFW loop and classes and wish I was more involved that way. You have 2 fine teachers in Susan and Chip. Susan taught a class I took in Denver last year which was terrific (with Rachel Hauck). And I conned Chip McG. into posing with me at the banquet as he reminded me of Ian in his kilt. Of course Ian never wore a kilt in TFD, though I always liked to think he had one waiting in Scotland:)

    Thanks so much for your encouragement and enthusiasm. It sure blesses me!

  15. Dear Ann, I always love when you show up:) I've had a couple people here tell me how much they've enjoyed your books or have them on their reading list - Michelle and Diane to name just two.

    And you'd laugh if you knew how much time it took me to learn to download photos - about 2 months, trial and error:) But I'd be thrilled to show you long distance anytime you're ready. Though I think your personal blog photos are just fine!

    As for that ink, it might take a long time to dry:) Bu you are top of my list to tell. After all, without your proposal help, I think I'd still be staring at blank pages. You are such an inspiration to me! You were my first writing friend!

  16. Amanda, I so love your enthusiasm and all those exclamation points!! I am an exclamation point kind of gal myself but make myself take them all out when I email my editor - lol:) You remind me of the wonderful quote, "Exuberance is beauty." I need your exuberance today!! Bless you for every word.

    LOVE your reading list! The Love on a Dime cover is so very pretty. It caught my eye right away. And I didn't know it takes place in our state. I think you are the first RI reader I've heard from!

    I've been in touch with Karen W. a couple of times and think her covers are great, too, especially this second one for fall. She may very well be another Dee Gist with her funny romances. She's such a nice person and has a lot of talent like you said.

    And thank you so much for your wonderful Scriptures here. We can take each one as a promise for it is as good as accomplished! I wrote for my church newsletter, too, and found the same thing happened. More recently, working on this new book idea, your prayer is exactly what I've been praying as I came to a blank screen with a blank mind, remembering He has all sorts of ideas at His disposal and these books are His, after all. I don't have to tell you the peace it brings as you've experienced it for yourself. When we rely on Him we can just let go and live in expectation with open hands, accepting whatever He brings (or withholds). Sorry to launch into a mini-sermon but I've been learning a lot this past week.

    Bless you right back, Amanda. We need more Amandas in the world, I'm thinking! Your JOY shines through every word you write!

  17. Gosh, a world with more Amanda’s??? Don’t let my parents here you ;) Thank you so very much for the compliment and the quote, never heard that one before but I LOVE it! But the only good inside of me is Jesus and any JOY that shines through me comes from the fact that I once was lost and now I’m found!!
    And, how cute, you’re from Little Rhody??!! I love it! And I think you’re the first author from RI I’ve heard from! I now Cara is from New England but I don’t know from where? Were you born in RI? Do you still the accent (LOL)? I wish I could say I live in Newport, goodness it’s beautiful!
    I totally agree with you about the book covers too! That’s what originally draws my eye to a book, which I know sounds kinda shallow (and I think Samuel was warned against looking at the “outward appearance” of things in 1st Samuel somewhere), but it’s the truth. Though I have to say, I have never read a book that had a beautiful cover that wasn’t also beautiful on the inside :)
    Laura, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have found you, your books, and your blog!! You’re truly a treasure! And your “wicked awesome” ;)

    Amanda Stanley

  18. You will write again when the time is write..I know there is such a thing as "writers block" and I have many blocks quite often.
    I havn't been reading much except for gardening magazines when I go to bed since reading helps me fall asleep.
    I know it is a long time until the craft show in Nov and even though I am not looking forward to cold weather I am looking forward to being able to make it this year and sell some of the items that I enjoy making..can't keep it all and can't afford to give it all away.
    I have someone working right now making some really pretty soap labels and can't wait to start using them but there is a lot of work to do in the garden everyday and will be a lot more work when it is time to start canning and freezing.
    Hope you have a wonderful and peacefull week end :)

  19. Laura, I feel for you. Reaching the point where writing feels like work can be tough. But it's true. Writing isn't always fun. Then again, few things are. Those creative endeavors that force us to dig deep and mine the best we have in us can be mighty challenging at times.

    A keynote speaker at one of my early writers conferences said, and I'm paraphrasing, we're writers, so we write--whether we feel like it or not. Just like any professional, we have to show up for work and produce. She asked us what we'd think if we had a dental appointment, arrived at the office, and had the receptionist tell us that the dentist wasn't working that day because he didn't feel like it.

    Three different literary agents had posts this month that dealt with the fact that writing can be difficult at times. Since each post includes wonderful encouragement, I'll share them with you.

    Nathan Bransford said in his April 13 post, "If writing is always fun you may be doing it wrong." Link:

    Chip MacGregor said in his April 18 post, "Don't think you can create a good book without hard work -- you can't." Link:

    My agent, Rachelle Gardner, said in her April 19 post, "But if you decide you really want to go for it, then you’ll be ready to accept and deal with the truth: Writing a novel is hard work." Link:

    Since God put the desire to write in your heart, Laura, and gave you a wonderful gift, as evidenced in your debut novel, I trust Him to uphold you during the days when words don't come as easily as you'd like. My prayer for you today is that you'll feel a sense of peace as you work through this challenge and that days of writing bliss will once again be yours.

  20. Your Mom's party sounds fun...especially the hat contest! :)
    Thanks for posting your reading list, right now I have a few on my nightstand.
    One is entitled "Eliza's Daughter" by Joan Aiken (it is written as a sequel to Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility"). I'm always a little leery of those types of novels, but so far I'm enjoying it.
    I will be praying for you during your "respite" and will be looking forward to hearing about any future dried ink projects. :) Have a wonderful wet? weekend...we are here in Boise!

  21. Nancy, Good to hear from you. It makes me smile to think of you doing your crafts way down there and already preparing for your craft show. That is great! Hope your dogs are doing well, too. I know you've had a real round with them. I hope to order more of your wonderful creations for the holidays this year. They always roll around sooner than we think. Bless you today!

  22. Keli, You are such a wonderful resource and encouragement. I'm so very thankful we are friends! I look forward to reading those links today. Thank you for posting each one as I know it's time consuming and will help others, too. I do keep up with Rachelle via her blog pretty regularly though don't comment. She is just amazing and I know you have a great relationship with her. Her personal involvement and commitment are really exemplary.
    Chip is great, too, and the title of Nathan's post really grabs me as that is where I am right now.

    I'm ashamed to say that I used to shake my head in amazement when writers said writing is work and they had to make themselves sit in their chair to get it done. But then I'd never experienced a major rewrite or had to do the tedious work of marketing and proposals, etc. Now, when I have to miss out on something my family is doing or simply can't sit on the deck in the sun like I used to because I have work to do, I remember my former foolish thoughts and feelings. Right now I have tremendous respect for those writers and authors who keep going year after year, come what may.

    I'm finding there is always a thread of joy and purpose in the writing though no matter what. I love that I have to lean harder on Him to get things done. Lately it's been an amazing lesson in just giving Him my ineptitude and watching Him work!!

    Love your dentist analogy:) Wish my dentist did that! I have dental phobia!

    I can't thank you enough for your gracious, gracious words and just knowing you are out there in your own writing corner wishing me well. The prayers you say for me are the same ones I'm saying for you.

  23. Hi Amanda, Great to hear from you again:) No, I'm not from RI but am a Kentucky girl through and through. I haven't even been to RI - just Maine and MA and NY and thereabouts. Yesterday a book popped into my mailbox set in Rhode Island and I thought of you! It's Ann Rinaldi's latest, The Family Greene, and takes place on Block Island, 12 miles off the Rhode Island coast. I didn't even know RI had islands!

    Anyway, I hope this is a great reading and writing day for you!

  24. Suzanne, Love all this book talk. It always fascinates me to learn what people are currently reading. My TBR stack is exceeded only by my wish list of books. I was lamenting last night, while looking at my pile, that I will die before getting to read all that I want. Hopefully heaven will be full of books. Hope you have some quiet time to read today.

    Boise sounds wonderful. We went through Idaho on the train a couple of years ago on the way to Montana and we were so entranced by the beauty there. Wild horses even!

  25. Sorry Laura, I’m such a goose! You said you didn’t know Cara’s book takes place in “our state” and I just assumed you meant you’re from RI. That means you probably didn’t understand the “wicked awesome” comment – it’s a good thing, we use the word "wicked" a lot when we want to emphasize something :) I would definitely recommend visiting us if you ever get the chance! Even if it’s just to tour the Newport Mansions, they’re gorgeous!! And thanks for the heads up on Ann Rinaldi. I'll need to check that book out :)

    Amanda Stanley

  26. No, dear Amanda, I'm the goose! Sometimes my fingers fly on here and I don't complete a rational thought:) My boys make fun of me as I often stop in the middle of a sentence and just say, "...ummmm," which drives them crazy. Always thinking about that next plot point or character, I guess:)

    Yes, if you haven't read Ann Rinaldi, please check her out. And please check back in here to keep me updated on what you're up to:)

  27. My mom's pick for today is Backtalk, we'll see how it goes. My pick is Line of David, what can I say, I like that name. ;)

    No mint julep today, but I did have a slice of Derby pie. First I've had in years.

    I have read Deanna Raybourn's books. I found the Tasha Alexander books because I was looking for similar ones.

  28. Hey Michelle, Love that derby update! Or maybe I should say love that derby pie:) My mom called early this morning to ask about a crab dip she was making last minute. She'd also made some bourbon custard with fresh strawberries. Like the custard part but would skip the bourbon.

    Line of David sounds really neat. Will be fun to see if your mom's horse wins:)

  29. Hey there Laura!~ I've been gone and looks like I've missed some posts! Sorry to hear you've reached a stalling point with writing, but I know it will pass. It always does with things you love, but we all need to take a break and refill our well--- that well that feeds our creativity and imagination and drive. Take this time to relax and breath and know that the joy of it will return!

  30. Hi Heather, I've missed you:) Good to be back in the blogosphere again - never thought I'd say that! Yes, refilling our wells are so important. You understand that very well, being an artist, I know. Thanks so much for the encouragement and kind words. Now over to your blog to catch up!