This morning my publisher contacted me to tell me Lifeway's Rachel McRae included some wonderful books on her best reads list for 2011. Please have a peek and see if you've read these or would like to:)
I feel I've been given a wonderful early Christmas gift and want to thank Lifeway and Rachel for all that they do to support Christian fiction and wonderful books! My dream is to go to Nashville and meet them in person someday.
Christmas Eve was a night of song that wrapped about you like a shawl. But it warmed more than your body. It warmed your heart...filled it, too, with melody that would last forever. ~Bess Streeter Aldrich The rooms were very still while the pages were softly turned and the winter sunshine crept in to touch the bright heads and serious faces with a Christmas greeting. ~Louisa May Alcott Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant pouring into a sick world the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost 2,000 years...underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart. ~George Matthew Adams
Lately I've been wishing I could send readers a Christmas gift, snow dusted and berry sprinkled just like these packages. You've certainly given me a gift by being faithful readers here and in the pages of my books, sending me email, snail mail, Facebooking, and leaving blog comments! And that means more than I can say.
I think oftentimes we forget just how precious and powerful encouragement is and how the right word at the right time is, as Proverbs says, "like apples of gold in settings of silver." (25:11)
The past few months have been crazy busy and I keep waiting for things to settle down. But guess what? They never do. Those deadlines keep coming and then there's family and church life, too. Each of us have multiple things to juggle. Sometimes we just need to remember the best gift of all is taking time for each other. So, with that in mind, I've decided to close comments here and do some blog visiting the next 2 weeks, trying to catch up on what 's going on in your world. If you're a reader and have a blog I don't know about, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll come visit. If you'd like to connect on Facebook instead, just look up Laura Feagan Frantz. See you soon:)
I thought it would be fun to see who could spy my next cover first rather than posting it here when I get the green light. Book covers are a bit tricky. There's no formal announcement its on its way, at least for this author. Someone at Revell just quietly posts it on the web and people stumble across it. Even the author!
Granted, I'm given a final image several weeks beforehand but have to wait to share till it appears on the net. But I really don't know when that magic happens. No matter what - or when - it's always a wonderful surprise when it's finally out there:)
Here are 2 covers from the colonial era, that I'm wild about:) The new Love Finds You in Annapolis by Roseanna White is out as of this month and is a great historical. Siri Mitchell's The Messenger follows in March.
Every house does cover art a bit differently. The cover for Love's Reckoning is in process. A search is on for a model in her 20's. Recently I met the photographer/designer for this project and he's nearly in my backyard - Seattle! His work is exquisite. He's done historicals for both the CBA and ABA. He and the costume company had some questions this time round about the dress. He even sent a portfolio of several dresses and hats to choose from this past week. I was asked to pick my favorites and these were sent on to editorial and marketing for review.
I'd love to have someone here spy the cover for Love's Reckoning first, even before me! First one who finds it on the web will win an Amazon gift card ($25). Some of you are very savvy cover-spotters...
Have you seen any covers for 2012 either in the CBA or ABA that "pop" for you? Maybe you have your own new cover to show us (waving at Carla and Keli!). If so, please do! If you're dreaming about your first cover, feel free to share that, too. Once upon a time I did that, too...
Do not think as you grow in grace your path will become smoother and the sky calmer and calmer. Quite the contrary. As God gives you greater skill as a soldier of the cross, He will send you on more difficult missions. As He more fully equips your ship to sail in stormy seas, He will send you on longer voyages to more boisterous seas, so that you may honor Him, and increase in holy confidence.
These gowns at left are straight out of the 18th-century. One of my author friends, Carla Gade, saw this amazing exhibit on a research trip not long ago and shared the photo. It's so inspiring I thought I'd do a related post.
Today I'm playing dress-up over at Colonial Quills where I'm posting about my own search for elegance. I've decided we're never too grown-up to fuss about fashion and admire lovely things! I'll close comments here in hopes you'll join me over there.
This is what I'm writing to this week. I've been singing this hymn all my life but love the instrumental version. The words were penned by an 18th-century Londoner who was notorious for drinking and gambling. One evening he and his friends heard George Whitefield preach. He was so haunted by his powerful words that he wrote this beautiful hymn. And we're still singing it today.
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.
Several of us are giving thanks over at Rachel's great blog this week and it's a wonderful reminder of our blessings, author or no. If you haven't visited this site before please do! It has fresh content nearly every day and gives you a peek at all the wonderful book out there. Heartfelt thanks to Rachel and Lifeway! And to you dear readers! Here's the link...Lifeway blog.
Is it just me or do you think planning the holiday menu is half the fun? Well, aside from eating it, that is:) I'm always a bit amazed that it takes so long to cook a big dinner which is then demolished in mere minutes! Good thing I love to cook!
A couple of weeks ago my mom and I sat down together, got out my granny's old recipes as well as our favorites, and made a wish list:) We live pretty simply here in the woods but this year we're cooking for a crowd and I'm a bit staggered by our menu. But we'll have plenty of leftovers for everyone which is always a treat.
I'll admit I struggle with the excess of the holidays oftentimes. Having a brother who's worked among the very poor is a reminder of the many who do without. I remember, too, that the holidays are often difficult for those who are missing loved ones or wish they could rewrite the past. It's a bittersweet time.
The photograph at left is unique, I think, because of the old photographs on the Thanksgiving table. If I could I'd love to sit down with my ancestors this week and share a meal. They'd probably be right at home with some of the dishes that are a family tradition but might turn up their noses at the strawberry pretzel salad;)
I'm thankful Mom and I are both cooking this year. Fortunately, she's bringing the ham, sweet potato casserole, lima bean casserole, crunchy green pea salad, bacon and cauliflower salad, and praline pumpkin pie.
I'm in charge of the turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, apple bacon cornbread stuffing, strawberry pretzel salad, green beans, deviled eggs, rolls, cranberry sauce, and chocolate cream and cherry pies. It's also Wyatt's 15th birthday so we're celebrating that, too!
I'd love to hear how you'll be celebrating this year. Have a special dish? A tradition? If you could invite one of your ancestors for dinner, who would it be?
Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild the house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you know that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to?
The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of - throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards you thought were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.
I'm so excited to share my newest title with you this chilly Monday! The first book in The Ballantyne Legacy series, which will release September of 2012, is...
I'd love to know your first impressions. Aye? Nay? Dramatic? A bit dark? Romantic? Intriguing. Or not?!
Believe it or not, these were the working titles I'd chosen. I was a bit surprised that Revell kept both. That doesn't often happen. Below are the working titles and the actual published titles for my previous books:
Dogwood Winter...The Frontiersman's Daughter Red River Daughter...Courting Morrow Little The Colonel's Lady...The Colonel's Lady
Cover coming! If you have any cover ideas I'd love to hear those, too...
Today's winner of a signed copy of To Die For by Sandra Byrd is...
Congratulations and happy reading! If you could email me at email@example.com and provide your snail mail address I'll mail the signed book to you - with bookmarks:) Next giveaway will be Tamera Alexander's A Lasting Impression.
Hope everyone has a blessed weekend, curled up by the fire with a good book, planning that Thanksgiving menu, or something autumnal. I'll be back Monday to share my next book title. Yep, it's official! I just received word from Revell. Can't wait to tell you here...
We often want to be called of God, then ushered painlessly into a position of service and honor, miraculously possessing the character our callings require. God doesn't work that way. Our appointments are not about glamour. They're about glory. God's glory.
The tricky thing about God's preparation is how He prepares us - even through trials. We find ourselves saying, "I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I never would have expected this."
Painless of painful, enjoyable or distasteful, God always works to prepare us to serve Him, but He rarely prepares us in ways we expect. Why must we experience such preparation? Because any work we've grown accustomed to is usually a work completed. As soon as we've learned one lesson, He brings another. He will continue to work in us until we see His face. because that, beloved, is the ultimate moment for which we're being prepared.
I'm such a fan of British history and when a new book popped up about Ann Boleyn - with a beautiful cover - I was an instant fan before I'd even read a word. And then the author and I bumped into each other online and she invited me to lunch:) We happen to live within a few hours of each other so off I zipped in my old red Jeep around Puget Sound to Port Orchard.We met at author Debbie Macomber's tea room for "high tea." And talked nonstop for three hours about books!
The tea room and gift shop were already decorated for Christmas and across the way is Debbie's knitting shop - a beautiful building that made me want to start clacking my needles.
Now back to Sandra's book...
The cover is stunning. I felt an instant kinship since I have a headless heroine myself;) And the prose... Oh my! Here's one lush line...
She loved him to the point of anguish.
Now that's to die for in my opinion! I won't tell you who's anguishing for whom. You'll just have to read the book! And you have a chance of doing so right here. I have a signed copy for one of you. Just leave a comment if you'd like to enter the drawing.
I love what Liz Curtis Higgs said about this book:
"Sandra Byrd's first venture into historical fiction is nothing short of brilliant. All the Tudor details are perfectly placed, like gemstones in a royal crown...giving readers a wider glimpse of history, a greater measure of hope, and an ending that satisfies at the deepest level. Simply put, To Die For is the best historical novel I've read in many a season, a masterpiece of history and heart."
You can visit Sandra at her beautifully done blog and see other books she's written and check out her mentoring and editing. Thanks, Sandra, for a wonderful tea! And a to-die-for book:) Winner announced this Friday, November 11th.
If something I'm asked to do for another feels burdensome; If, yielding to an inward unwillingness, I avoid doing it, Then I know nothing of Calvary love. If the praise of man elates me and his blame depresses me; If I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself; If I love to be loved more than to love, Then I know nothing of Calvary love. If the burden my Lord asks me to bear be not the burden of my heart's choice, And I fret inwardly and do not welcome His will, Then I know nothing of Calvary love. If I covet anyplace on earth but the dust at the foot of the cross, Then I know nothing of Calvary love.
After a 3 week break, I've decided to come back as I've missed you:) Lots can happen in 3 weeks! Here are a few highlights...
Edits...They were blessedly brief. Editorial said some very interesting things about this book which I wish I could share here. But no spoilers! I was walking on air afterwards and hope you enjoy the story, too. Release date is September, 2012. I should have a new title for you any day now - and then another lovely cover, or so I hope...
Travel...Randy and I took a road trip to Eastern Washington, specifically Lake Chelan and then up in the mountains to a little western town called Winthrop - a perfect place to set a story! Lots of fall color and apple cider and nights sleeping by a peaceful lake and then a rushing river...
Bible study...My mom and I are attending a Beth Moore revised study on the life of David. I thought it was more for her than me as she suggested it. NOT! This amazing study has my name written all over it. I think every woman in the audience must feel the same. I've been so humbled and convicted with what I'm learning and plan to share some in devotional posts to come...
Boys...We're heavy into basketball and fiddling here, schoolwork, and getting ready for the holidays. My brother is coming from Spain for Thanksgiving and I'm so excited. It will be the first time in many years that our whole family has sat down for a holiday meal together...
Next book...Would you believe I'm already at work on my next book?
Enough about me. I'd love to hear how October has been for you. Bane or blessing. I've had a bit of both. I haven't forgotten your prayer requests and they've stayed with me the past few weeks. I'd love to hear about any answers to prayer. Mainly, I just want to hear from YOU!
Time to savor autumn. I'm expecting edits on this next book any minute and have a road trip planned, among other things. This is the month my new book cover happens, too, so am anxious to share that with you as soon as I can. I'll be away for a little while but thought I'd leave you with a quote I love...
The best things in life are nearest: breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your right hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life.
Several things are happening this week and I hope you'll jump in:) First, one of my favorite historical authors, Liz Curtis Higgs, is interviewing at Overcoming Through Time and they're giving away a book of your choice by Liz. Any book! After being asked to do a review there, I can honestly say writing a book review is harder than writing a book! If you've not read any of Liz's books, it's like missing dessert! Please stop by if you can and comment. The spotlight on Liz lasts all week.
Next is my new friend, Amanda, who is giving away a copy of The Colonel's Lady starting today. Would you believe Amanda is only sixteen and has completed four novels?! Recently I met her at ACFW in St. Louis and we were able to chat a bit. She has a beautiful, generous spirit and offered to give away a copy of TCL that she recently bought just for the occasion. I hope you'll stop by and visit. I have a feeling we'll be holding one of of Amanda's books in hand someday.
Last but not least, the winner of One Thousand Gifts right hereis...
If you can email your snail mail addy to firstname.lastname@example.org, I'll mail that right out. Bless you all!
Here's a peek at my 18th-century dress:) I'll actually be wearing it at a couple of book venues in future, if I can still stuff myself into that corset after all the feasting in St. Lou! It's just the gown Roxanna Rowan would have worn, perhaps one of Bella's creations, straight out of the pages of The Colonel's Lady. Readers have been commenting that they're happy I made Roxie a kitchen diva - and glad Bella was a bit obsessed with her dresses;)
It's a quiet, rainy Friday here but there's still a bit of book buzz going on at Overcoming Through Time with a fun review of TCL and a giveaway by my dear friends Debra and Carrie. I'll close comments here in hopes you can join us over there. Just click on the highlighted link above to get there. If you've already read the book but would like to win for a friend or relative, please leave your name. We'd love to see you!
Few delights can equal the presence of One whom we trust utterly. Forgiveness is the giving, and so the receiving, of life. How strange this fear of death is! We are never frightened at a sunset. I find that doing of the will of God leaves me no time for disputing about His plans. If instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give. It is not the cares of today, but the cares of tomorrow, that weigh a man down.
"I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him (George MacDonald) as my master; indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him." C.S.Lewis
Here's a bouquet of bittersweet for you, one of my favorite fall things. Love how the light is slanting across the table through those big windows and into the woods beyond.
It was a restful weekend and I'm so thankful after the busyness of St. Lou. I wrote a bit on my next novel, went out to dinner with family, and caught up on household chores. We also built our first fire of the season which means autumn is officially here. After church Sunday, Randy and I pressed several gallons of apple cider which is always fun and very Lael-like;) If you've read The Frontiersman's Daughter you'll know what I mean.
In the rush of last week I forgot to mention I'd brought home a book to give one of you. It's Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. I usually read a book before giving it away but haven't this one. Has anyone else read this and want to say something about it? If you'd like to be included in the drawing, please leave a comment below. I'll draw the winner next Monday, October 10th.
I also wanted to mention two sites I've just discovered. This past Saturday I spent some time soaking up the joy and color over at A Little Loveliness blogspot. It eased my homesickness for southern things just a bit and reminded me of the beauty of home and family and all the little celebrations in life. Thanks so much, Melissa, for your creative heart and for taking time for beloved books! If you'd like a little (a lot!) of southern hospitality, recipes, devotional thoughts and more, please spend some time at A Little Loveliness.
I've also discovered an inspiring, uplifting, writing site that is just a gem ~ Allen Arnold Writes. For the past 3 years I've attended workshops taught by Allen and he is has so much to say about writing and living a Christlike life and more.
So here's a Monday question for you... If you were to share a book or blog today, what would they be? If you've read One Thousand Gifts, what did you like best?
Some of you watched the prequel to this a couple of weeks ago. I must admit "Love's Everlasting Courage" looks interesting, maybe even more dramatic and romantic:) I promised to post when it was time to watch so here 'tis.
I had an epiphany about prayer while in St. Louis. Rather I felt the need to focus more on prayer here on the blog and privately. My prayer time is usually in the morning. I've learned from experience that if I don't begin the day that way things usually unravel.
The prayer room at ACFW in St. Louis was a busy place. I doubt it was ever empty. Someone was always on hand to pray with you, if needed. I often saw people praying in the hallways and other places. Very open and heartfelt. I have an author friend who is a master at this. Her prayers are really big bear hugs. She grabs you and doesn't let go till the praying is through:) You feel throughly covered!
Some of you who read this blog are going through heart-wrenching situations that are testing your head and heart to the limits. Many at conference were there despite overwhelming trials and physical problems. I've felt the prayer support of you readers when I needed it most - through edits and illness and family emergencies. It's sometimes hard to blog transparently about needs but I feel the Lord calls us to openness. No request is too small. Sometimes even small things distract and worry us so!
Are you in need of prayer today? Can you share a bit in a comment here or simply leave your name? God doesn't need specifics as He knows every need to the tiniest detail. Whatever you're comfortable with works. As we close out September and enter into an unknown autumn, I promise to pray for you daily. Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire? ~Corrie Ten Boom
You may pray for an hour and still not pray. You may meet God for a moment and then be in touch with Him all day. ~Fredrik Wisloff
I arrived home last night after 3 flights from St. Louis and am so glad to be on solid ground! These are just a few of the pictures from our time there. I'm sure you see some friends and authors you know or love:) I'll provide more commentary when you comment. For now I've some unpacking to do and more!
I'm off to St. Louis this week to attend the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Missouri. Interestingly, the new book I'm writing has some St. Lou connections so it will be fun spending time there. I promise to take lots of pictures and share them when I return.
Prayers appreciated for safe travel, health, and open doors. My heart is with those who are coming to interest publishers in their work - it's thrilling and frightening and overwhelming at the same time. But I'm living proof it can happen - and sometimes in the way you least expect it!
See you next week!
May the Lord watch between you and me when we are absent one from another. ~Genesis 31:49
Our 17th anniversary is Saturday and we're celebrating by going out to dinner and watching this movie, Love Begins. Randy will probably fall asleep on me as it's a romantic one but it looks quite good, don't you think? Anyway, here's hoping for 17 more wonderful years. And more movies like these:)
Left alone! What different emotions these words bring to mind for each of us! To some they mean loneliness and grief, but to others they may mean rest and quiet. To be left alone without God would be too horrible for words, while being left alone with him is a taste of heaven! And if His followers spent more time alone with Him, we would have spiritual giants again.
Our Master set an example for us. Remember how often He went to be alone with God? And there was a powerful purpose behind His command, "When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray." (Matt. 6:6).
Earnestly desire to get alone with God. If we neglect to do so, we not only rob ourselves of a blessing but rob others as well, since we will have no blessing to pass on to them. It may mean that we do less outward, visible work, but the work we do will have more depth and power. Another wonderful result will be that people will see "no one except Jesus" (Matt. 17:8) in our lives.
Recently readers have been asking me what's next. So I thought I'd give you a little update on writing...
On September 1st I submitted the first book in my new series, The Ballantyne Legacy, to my editor. She'll read it and see if there are any changes to be made. Yes, it's a skittish wait. I've had 2 books that didn't have edits/editorial letters and one that required several weeks of rewrites. I'll leave you to guess which was which;)
Right now Revell is deciding on a title for this new book and the art team is considering the cover. I've been asked for my preferences regarding both and I was able to give some suggestions. I think this next one will look very different than the previous three. I should have both title and cover for you this fall. Then next year you'll see it on shelves. Stay tuned for some historical fireworks with this new series! Am hoping it gives you a sleepless night or two...
I've also begun book 2 in the series. This time I've had to leave my beloved 18th-century behind and make the leap into the 19th. The story begins in 1822 and I'm finding it oh so...civilized. Am just a few chapters in and already the characters are taking me places I had no intention of going... And not a fort or soldier or settler in sight!
Recently I've been blessed with two more reader pics. Roxanna looks right at home by the bust of George Washington and the miniature Liberty Bell. This is from the Providence Forum offices in Pennsylvania, home/host of the tour I took of historic Philadelphia this summer. If you're looking for an amazing, educational, Spirit-led tour, please visit their website as another tour is in the making for next summer. Bless you, Lori, for the pic!
And last but not least is my dear friend, Patti, in Kentucky. Love the shirt! I've met so many people through my books and Patti is one of the dearest. She's a voracious reader and writer herself. And has the cutest grandkids on the planet!
And now, just when you thought there couldn't possibly be another giveaway, there is! Buzz on over to Mary's at her winsome site and join in the fun. If you'd like to enter for a friend or relative, please do! I'll close comments here in hopes to see you there!