Posted in Blog

Get Your Tickets!

It's been a week!

It’s been a week! A good week, but definitely a busy one! So busy, I actually forgot Wedding Wednesday!! How terrible of me! I hang my head in shame.

So while I don’t have a Wedding Wednesday for you this week, I do want to draw attention to an event that will be happening in August! You may have seen some talk on Facebook about a Christian fiction readers retreat…or you may not have. If you live in a hole. 😉

A few extremely dedicated women, including my dear Wonder Twin, Carrie, have organized this event. There are more than thirty authors taking part!!! Go HERE to read more about it.

While the early bird pricing is over, registration is still open! Make sure you check it out and if you’re within driving distance (or want a quick getaway, hop a plane) of Nashville, make sure you attend this event! It’ll be spectacular!!!

One more for the road: Check out the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat!

Christian Fiction Readers Retreat

Posted in For Fun

Forever Friday…On Sunday…and Not Forever

Sooooo…yeah. I missed Forever Friday last week. But I promise I had a great reason!

This past Thursday, one of my super-sweet critique partners, Teresa Tysinger, flew into my city to attend the Wordsowers Christian Writers Conference. It was the first time we got to meet in person, and it was phenomenal! As Teresa kept saying, “You’re not two-dimensional!” Bahaha!! I love her to pieces.

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I got the opportunity to make her one of my favorite lattes eeeever, a Kit Kat latte.

It was like we’d known each other our whole lives. Pretty fab, if you ask me. The next day, our other two critique partners, Holly Michael and Shawna Robinson Young, drove in (well, Shawna flew to Holly’s city and together they drove to my house). It was the first time the four of us had met, and just as when Teresa and I met, it was like we’d all known one another our whole lives. God is pretty amazing.

Aren’t they beautiful???? I’m totally stealing a line from Teresa: “My critique partners are cuter than yours!”

When Holly and Shawna arrived, the four of us drove downtown and had lunch at Twisted Fork with the sweetest, most beautiful Jennifer Slattery and her incredible husband. And speaking of Jennifer’s husband…I’m sorry, S., for all you had to endure during our conversation. 😉 And thank you for lunch. ❤

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Apparently I need my roots done. Whoops.

After Jennifer and her husband left, the four of us sat there for another hour-and-a-half just talking. (It was suggested Holly pick up a new pen name and write in a different genre, but I’ll let her make that decision.) Then we headed over a block to Aromas for some coffee and went to the first night of the writer’s conference. It was a great intro section. But the party animals the four of us are, we went for dinner–at Arby’s–and shut the place down. Awwww yeeeeaaaaah. You know you’re jealous.

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The next morning, we woke up bright and early–oh-so-early–and went back to the church where the conference was held and spent a great day learning from published authors, like the ever-so-funny Mary Connealy.

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She is so much fun!

And can I totally brag for a moment?? Along with Jennifer, I have two other friends I meet with once a month to brainstorm, and I adore all three ladies!! Sara, Stephanie, Jennifer, and I have a great time together, and they’ve helped me immensely!

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Another fun part of the conference? Meeting another new friend! Chaka Heinze is pretty hilarious. I adore her already, and I’m so happy she lives here so I can get together with her!

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Her smile is SO contagious!

And at the end of the conference, an announcement for next year’s conference was made. You wanna know who the keynote speaker will be??? New York Times bestselling author, Tosca Lee!!!!!!!! (You have no idea how excited I am!) I’ve had the honor of meeting her once and taking a workshop she taught, and she is so incredibly kind and fun, and such a phenomenal author!

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Keep an eye on the Wordsowers site. And attend the monthly meetings if you’re local!

It was such a fantastic weekend, seriously. So fantastic, I ran myself down and am sitting on my couch as I write this with no voice left. Literally.

I should get some ice cream to soothe that.

But first, a couple more selfies with Teresa. 🙂

 

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Posted in Wedding Wednesday

Wedding Wednesday: Belle

Wedding Wednesday (1)

Hello. My name is Mikal and I’m a fairy tale addict.

Yes. It’s true.

Yeah, I’m a nerd. So anyway, Belle, that little book-lovin’ lady, was always my favorite. Who wouldn’t want a Belle-inspired wedding? Right? Right???

The dress:

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From Belle The Magazine

Okay, so this may look more like a Cinderella dress, but I could totally see a Belle-lover wearing this, too. 🙂

The shoes:

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From VintageRomance2015 (Etsy)

Okay, so I’m not really looking at the shoes here. I mean yes, these are the shoes, but the design on the back of the shoes are actually vinyl decals. Go figure! Pretty ingenious, if you ask me. I can’t help but love these just a little.

The table centerpieces:

These. I love these. Probably my favorite part of this post. 🙂

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From Wedding Chicks
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From Wedding Stuff Ideas

The cake:

So, this isn’t really a cake. However, the trend this year is moving away from cakes. And really, Belle is more about the tea (poor girl…coffee is way better), and what goes best with tea? Cookies, of course! Macaron cookies. Isn’t this so fun??

 

 

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From Glamour

What do you think? Would you do a fairy tale-inspired wedding? If so, what fairy tale would you be inspired by?

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Posted in Forever Friday

Forever Friday: Joy

 

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Keeping up with the Fruits of the Spirit in marriage today. 🙂 Next up: Joy.

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When I was younger, I used to think that joy was all about feeling happy, having fun, and laughing a lot. It is that, but it’s more than that when we invite God into things.

The world’s definition of joy is: “1. the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation. 2. a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated. 3. the expression or display of glad feeling; festive gaiety. 4. a state of happiness or felicity” (Dictionary.com).

The Bible, however, says a couple of things about joy. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4, English Standard Version). And “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4, ESV).

Have you ever known someone who has gone through something terrible–a death in the family, cancer, abuse, etc.–but has still somehow maintained joy? I’ve been so fortunate to know such people. Honestly, on my side of things, I don’t know how they do it. But I know what they would say: it’s all God, not them. It’s a supernatural thing, something that, until you go through it, you probably won’t understand.

Joy is something that lasts. It endures, even through painful times. It’s different than happy. Happy is a feeling that comes and goes–joy sticks with us. I have joy because of God, but I’m not always a happy camper. Ask my husband and kids. (…Actually, don’t ask them. I don’t want your perception of me ruined. HA!!) The best explanation on the difference between happiness and joy that I’ve read can be found at GotQuestions.org.

So how does this relate to marriage? I believe when both people in the marriage have joy–the enduring kind of joy–their marriage is stronger. They may not always be happy, but they’re not as tempted to find that joy outside the marriage. Their love deepens and endures They can forgive more easily (note I’m not saying they can forgive easily, just more easily, in my experience). They rely on God first for their worth and are more complete, not looking to their spouse to make them complete or happy or to give them joy.

Does that make sense? (And oh, please know I’m talking to myself here, too!)

How do we get joy? The only time I’ve truly experienced joy is when I’ve given up my self: my desires, my ambitions, my goals, my dreams, my own fulfillment, and I’ve sought God: His desires for me, His ambitions for me, His goals for me, His dreams for me, His fulfillment in me. When I seek Him and find Him, I find joy.

For more verses on joy (and what it means and entails), visit Faith Gateway.

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Posted in Wedding Wednesday

Wedding Wednesday: Boho

Wedding Wednesday (1)

Don’t you love weddings? I do. Oh-so much. I might even be a little…obsessive. But only a little.

One of my friends tagged me in a photo today of the most beautiful boho wedding cake and said that’s what she wants for her wedding! (I wonder if she knows she’s already married??) So I thought I would take that and run with it! (Thanks, B!)

So let’s start with the cake, since that’s what I’m basing this wedding around!

The cake:

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From Incredible Edibles

Uh, yeah. That. Is. A. Cake. Isn’t it completely stunning??? What incredible craftsmanship!

The dress:

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From Bridal Musings: Lihi Hod
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From Bridal Musings: Lihi Hod

Bohemian chic, people!

The reception:

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From Funny Wedding Media

The flowers:

With a bonus headpiece!

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From DustJacket Attic

And because I adore jewelry:

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From One to Wed

The set is so unique, but isn’t it G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S??? I die.

So what do you think? Is boho your style?

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Posted in Forever Friday

Forever Friday: Love

FOREVER FRIDAY (1)

I’ve been thinking long and hard about marriage and what it all entails. Can I just tell you? It entails a lot. There are so many characteristics and traits we need to bring to our marriages to make them work and balance one another out. I think the best list, however, outside of 1 Corinthians 13 (which I wrote about here), is Galatians 5:22-23. The Fruits of the Spirit.

I hope you all know that I don’t write from a place of expertise. I write from a place of learning. When I sit down to read things and study for these posts, it’s because they’re things I need to learn, not just for my marriage’s benefit, but for my own growth.

Because sometimes, I’m a lousy person.

So why don’t we sit on these two verses for the next number of weeks? And first, look at love.

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First, I think the best definition of love is actually not found in the dictionary, but in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Do you notice something when you read those Bible verses? Every description of love in there is a verb. An action.

My husband is a good example of love in action. He doesn’t just think of me and maybe buy me something when he’s out of the country. When he’s home, he’ll pick up the broomplate-629970_640 and sweep. He’ll put the dishes away (it’s my chore) to give me a break. He’ll take the kids out to give me a quiet house so I can write. He’s patient with me when I’m irritable. He’s kind to me when I’m not kind to myself. And so.much.more.

He’s showing me love in action.

I think it’s normal to be selfish and want someone to love you in action but not giving too much thought to how you can love them in action. At least, it can be normal for me. Sadly. (I’m trying to change, I promise!)

Christ is the perfect example–way better than my husband (don’t worry, the hubs would cross-1149878_640agree). He died on the cross (Matthew 27:32-56). Went through unfathomable agony. Then He defeated death and walked out of that grave (Luke 24:1-12). He showed Himself to people for 40 days (Acts 1:3) before He ascended to heaven (Acts 1:6-11) where He sits at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19), waiting for the day when we each face God. Jesus will either intercede and say, “I knew him/her, and s/he knew Me,” or He’ll say, “I never knew him/her” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Talk about action! Talk about love. Unimaginable love. Each day in our marriages, we need to lay down our lives. Maybe give up that five minutes of extra sleep socoffee-983955_640 you can get up and make a cup of coffee for your spouse. Or do something you find yucky to relax your spouse: rub their feet. (Uugghh…I shudder.) The list can go on and on.

So spend some time today thinking on how you can show love better to those around you, whether you’re married or not. And share your ideas in the comments, because I. Need. Help. 🙂

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Posted in Wedding Wednesday

Wedding Wednesday: Vintage Glam

It’s that time again!

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Hm. What kind of wedding are we thinking this week? I have a whole list of ideas, but I just saw a cake on Pinterest, so I’m breaking my norm of building a wedding around a dress: I’m building it around the cake instead!

Ready?

A Vintage Glam Wedding

First, the cake:

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From AmyCakes

Isn’t it devine??

The stunning dress:

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From AislePerfect. The Anna Campbell Gossamer Collection.
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From AislePerfect. The Anna Campbell Gossamer Collection.

I love, love, love how the shoulder and back draping echoes the draping on the cake. How perfect?!

Because wearing a veil over that back would be a shame–in my humble opinion, of course–I present the hairpiece:

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From Jules Bridal Jewelry

Again, the draping. Because apparently that’s what I need to see today.

The outdoor room:

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From lover.ly

This outdoor room is absolutely perfect for photo set-ups, like this one, as well as a quiet spot for the newlyweds to rest–and smooch!–during the reception. I think this is so perfect!

The table setting:

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From Ruffled

Every vintage glam wedding needs some gold!

The bouquet:

(Oh, I’m excited about this one!)

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From ElegantWeddingDesign (Etsy)

I. Adore. This.

Brooch bouquets are so exquisitely beautiful when paired with the right style of wedding. And dress. Okay, so this may be too much to go with the dress I chose, but I don’t care. 😉

So there’s the Vintage Glam Wedding for today! What do you think? What would you keep? Change? What’s your idea of the perfect wedding style?

 

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Thorn Keeper

Oh friends. If you go to my Check It Out page, you’ll see a list of authors I think you should, well, check out. On that page is one Pepper D. Basham. And have I got a fabulous book review for you today. Read it, then go buy and read Pepper’s books. Yes. I’m being bossy.

The Thorn Keeper

First, isn’t that cover devine?

Release date: February 28, 2016

Publisher: Vinspire Publishing (http://www.vinspirepublishing.com/#!the-thorn-keeper/ccst)

Author’s Web Site: http://pepperdbasham.com/

Where to Buy: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

From the publisher:

With her newfound faith, Catherine Dougall hopes to take the remnants of her threadbare life and make something beautiful, even if society shuns every choice she makes.

Dr. David Ross must save his war hospital from ruin, but when his notorious aunt makes an offer he can’t refuse, he must choose between his surprising affection for a reformed flirt or his dreams.

From the beautiful Derbyshire countryside to the trenches of World War One, Catherine and David must learn to trust in a God who never forgets his children and fashions beauty out of the most broken things.

My thoughts:

I don’t even know where to start. Captivating. Sweeping. Swoon-worthy.

Pepper Basham writes historical with such beautiful, poetic prose, you can’t help but be caught up in her sweeping romances. And when I say it’s a romance, I don’t mean it’s just a romance between a man and a woman. It’s a romance between a man, a woman, and God. Pepper weaves faith so naturally into her stories, and The Thorn Keeper is no exception.

From Catherine’s spiritual journey closer to the end of The Thorn Bearer to her continued journey and growth in this book, you’ll experience her transformation from a pretty not-so-great character to a woman who loves and lives passionately, both for the Lord and for her dreams.

Dr. David Ross is a man who loves quietly—albeit also passionately—and not only supports and encourages Catherine in her dreams, but deeply cares for what happens to her. He is there to help her not just overcome, but flourish. A man who truly loves God, people, and, well…Catherine.

I can’t say enough about Pepper’s writing. It’s solid, endearing, and again, so poetic. I seriously can’t do her justice in this review. The only thing I can do is tell you that I loved this book and you need to read this. Start out with The Thorn Bearer if you haven’t already read it, then continue with this one.

And just for your info, there will be a third book later this year, if I’m not mistaken. (WAHOO!!)

*Note: I was actually not asked to post a review on this blog, but I loved this book so much, I had to. And I didn’t receive it free; I bought it. And yes. You should, too.

Posted in Forever Friday

Forever Friday: Submission (Don’t be afraid!)

FOREVER FRIDAY (1)

67a2ba26408228ee07e597e14c1836d0Submission. Oh, that nasty, hard-to-swallow word. But…

“I do not think it means what you think it means.”
~Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

I’ve been thinking on this subject for a while now, as it’s a topic that keeps popping up online and among my friends. But I’m not nearly as eloquent (or, since she would smack me for saying that, I’m not nearly as experienced and/or wise on this subject) as one of my dear friends, author Jennifer Slattery.

So today, I’m doing something a little different for Forever Friday. I’m sending you all over to read Jennifer’s posts on her blog. Please. Go and read. Because seriously, submission isn’t the four-letter word we all think it is.

Read part one here.

Read part two here.

Read part three here.

Jennifer has published four novels, all focusing on marriages. Trust me when I say, she breakingfree_n1664109knows her stuff. Find her books on New Hope Publishers, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook.com, and Amazon. Her latest is Breaking Free, and promises to be her best yet.

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers and devotions for Internet Café Devotions, the group blog, Faith-filled Friends, and her personal blog. She also does content editing for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas’ Firefly imprint, and loves working with authors who are serious about pursuing their calling. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte.

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Review: On the Wings of a Whisper

On the Wings of a Whisper

Release date: March 15, 2016

Publisher: Serene Lake Publishing

Author’s Web Site: http://www.lynnettebonner.com/

Order it: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble

From the publisher:

RyAnne Hunter is determined to stop her father from leaving for the continent of Africa, where he plans to start a mission station. And she only has until morning. Tonight at the Harcourts’ Annual Ball will be her last chance to change his mind. She must succeed! Papa’s health, and her future, depend on her success. But, as if her task isn’t difficult enough, now the insufferable Captain Dawson has agreed to guide Papa’s expedition!

After spending six months at sea, Captain Trent Dawson only wants to think about rest and relaxation. However, when he’s recruited by a British naval officer to help put an end to a slave smuggling ring, the perfect opportunity presents itself in Dr. Hunter, who needs a guide to the Interior. Now if he can just help the doctor without spending too much time with the man’s troublesome and flighty youngest daughter.

A thrilling historical romance from the time of missionary explorer David Livingstone.

My thoughts:

This was such a great start to a serialized series!! Lynnette Bonner has crafted characters that grab you immediately. RyAnne is a determined firecracker of a character, and Trent is the perfect balance for her. Both are lovable. They’ll bring you back again and again for the following installments in this series.

Lynnette has also done a masterful job of description in this story! It truly felt like I was there, and is obvious she has a love for Africa that will be hard for any other author to match. The setting of this story—Zanzibar in 1866—brings in some historical elements that are very hard to read, especially at the very end of the book when RyAnne witnesses something first-hand. Though the scene was reality, the author does a beautiful job of balancing it with hope.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. It’ll be a hard wait for the second installment, though!

*I was given this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own and not influenced in any way.