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First…even though there weren’t 10 comments from readers on my last blog I drew a name for a copy of Matthew’s Choice. And the winner is….Elaine Stock!

Now for my big news! Drum roll, please…..

A Promise to Protect, the 2nd book in the Logan Point series, released this week!!!

A Promise to ProtectHere’s the back cover copy:
In a steamy small town riddled with broken promises, one woman’s secret could change everything.

Acting Sheriff Ben Logan hasn’t heard from Leigh Somerall in a very long time, but it doesn’t mean he can get her—or their whirlwind romance of ten years ago—out of his head. When she calls out of the blue, it is with a strange request to protect her brother, Tony. But all too soon, Ben is charged with a different task—protecting Leigh from the people after her brother. With Leigh doing everything in her power to avoid Ben, it’s no easy task. And the secret she is keeping just may change their lives forever.
 

You can purchase A Promise to Protect at 

B&N; CBD; Amazon; Kobo

 

I’m a little early on my Strictly Southern blog, but I’ve been sick and the idea of doing an update post on the Sole Tree post sounded like a great idea–the first one was for the MBT Ponderers way back in 2011.The Shoe Tree Since that time a LOT of shoes have been added. It still amazes me how the little oak can grow out of that rocky soil!

Sometimes, even I’m surprised at what I find on the roads in the South! This tree is on Highway 72 in Northwest Alabama about a mile from the Natchez Trace Parkway. It’s about 35 miles from me on the side of Highway 72. 

Two Sunday’s ago as I returned from the Writer’s Police Academy in North Carolina–and I’ll do a post on that as soon as I get over whatever bug I picked up there–anyway I passed by the Sole Tree, as I’ve named it and discovered even more shoes than on the photo below taken in 2012.  And can you believe how the little tree has grown! Those shoes must fertilize it.

Oh, wait a minute. You may be wondering what a Shoe Tree is. Click on the link and it will take you to a website that explains how and where they got started. And you may be wonder like me, why in the world would anyone throw a perfectly good pair of shoes up in a tree.

 I don’t know. I do know there are shoe trees all over the world, and at least 75+ here in the United States. There are also rules for throwing the shoes, like they must be tied together–I guess so if someone is brave enough to climb the tree they would get a pair. I’ve also heard that the tree was started as a way to let teenagers know it was a place marijuana could be bought..but I don’t believe that. There is no way anyone would stop on that busy highway for that type of transaction.


I suspect this tree, was started by bored high school students. When I first saw it, there were about 50 pairs of shoes on it. Now there are well over a hundred. If you look closely, you’ll see a pair of purple heels. By the way, they are not mine, but I’ve actually thought about…no. bad idea. I really don’t need a pair of purple heels that badly.

The first time I saw the tree, I had to turn around and go back to make sure I wasn’t seeing things. I’ve since learned that some people actually take vacations  for the sole purpose of throwing a pair of shoes up in one of these trees.


If you’re so inclined, come on down. There’s still plenty of room on the tree. So far I haven’t succumbed to the temptation of joining the shoe throwers. But I might the next time I travel Highway 72 on my way to Chattanooga. You see, I have this pair of pink tennis shoes that I hate to throw away, so…


Would you leave a pair of shoes on a tree? Leave a comment and let me know. If ten people leave a comment, I will gift one of the commentors with an e-copy of Matthew’s Choice from Harlequin Heartwarming. Drawing to be held Tuesday night September 23. Matthew's Choice

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Rel Mollet who lives in Australia and who has a great blog–Relzreviewz.com–tagged anyone reading her blog today to answer these “twenty things you might not know about me.”  And since I read her blog…here goes.

Question 1: How tall are you? I’m 5’8″ and one quarter. That one quarter is important, especially when you get to be my age.

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what? I know my hidden talent isn’t singing. Anyone who’s ever heard me can tell you the same thing. No, most of my talents are obvious.

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve? I’m with Rel on this one. Rants. I hate it when someone rants about a subject, especially when that subject is probably better left alone.
Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve? People who text and drive.

Question 5: What’s your favorite song? Shout to the Lord…or Amazing Grace…oh, wait, maybe High on the Mountain…

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours? I don’t do Etsy. I sometimes take my pottery to craft fairs, but so far haven’t put any of it online.

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone? Sitting on my deck, listening to the birds sing while I’m having my quiet time.

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food? Fritos.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names? I have one cat–Suzy. And sometimes, she keeps me from working.IMG_1242 (480x640)

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books? Nonfiction would have to be the Bible. And NOWAY would I say what my favorite fiction book is. There are too many to choose from!

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product? An EYEBROW PENCIL

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened? That happens so often I’m not sure I can pick just one time. Just this week after I returned from the Writer’s Police Academy in N. Carolina I was looking for an email. When I couldn’t find it, I sent an email to the loop, saying “Did I see where someone was looking for me?” Received an email from a friend. Her exact words: ROFLOL! I thought you were going to say you saw your name on the wall at the Post Office.

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be? I’m sorry…it would have to be water…or maybe sweet tea.

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie? I just saw Thelma and Louise for the first time…but that’s not my favorite. Probably Gone with the Wind.

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep? You know, I don’t really fit in any of these categories…certainly not prom queen or nerd or cheerleader or…rats. I was just plain average–made good grades, but nothing special.

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Believe it or not, right were I am in Mississippi. I have lots of friends I would not want to leave.

Question 17: PC or Mac? I have a PC for now, but I.WILL.NOT.LEARN.WINDOWS.8. If I have to learn a new program, it’ll be on a Mac.

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse? The wonderful guy I’m dating had my ceiling fan put on the deck while I was gone to N. Carolina!

Question 19: Favorite celebrity? Probably Nathan Fillion.

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with? Rel!

 

I’m going to name Johnnie Alexander and Jennie Atkins to play and would love for anyone else who wants to participate to do so! Here are the rules!

  1. Copy and paste the questions below and then answer and turn them into a blog post. Or, record a video answering these questions and upload it to your blog post.
  2. At the bottom of your post, tag anywhere from 2-10 bloggers you want to see answer these questions. (I also suggest hitting up your tagged people via social media just to let them know you tagged them to do this tag challenge.)
  3. Use the title: 20 Things You Might Not Know About Me Blog Tag. Once you’ve hit publish, leave a comment with the link to your post.
  4. Use the hashtag #20ThingsBlogTag when sharing on social media so we can all find your awesome posts!

**This blog post is a part of the ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag started by April from Blacksburg Belle. She began this blog tag experiment to build community among creatives, help us bloggers to connect more and get to know each other better. This month’s topic is all about sharing just a little too much information about yourself. If you’d like to participate or want more info, check out the beginning post right here.**

Question 1: How tall are you?

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?
Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?
Question 5: What’s your favorite song?
Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?
Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?
Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?
Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?
Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?
Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?
Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
Question 17: PC or Mac?
Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?
Question 19: Favorite celebrity?
Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?

**This blog post is a part of the ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag started by April from Blacksburg Belle. She began this blog tag experiment to build community among creatives, help us bloggers to connect more and get to know each other better. This month’s topic is all about sharing just a little too much information about yourself. If you’d like to participate or want more info, check out the beginning post right here.**

 And the winner of Matthew’s Choice: Geri Moore and Cindy!

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Matthew's ChoiceMatthew’s Choice released!

I am so excited that my sweet romance, Matthew’s Choice,  is finally available. I never thought I would write a romance, that I was strictly a romantic suspense type of gal, but God laid the idea of this book on my heart, and I knew I had to write it.  Not to give any secrets away, but here’s the back cover blurb:

He left it all behind. Until now. 

It’s New Year’s Eve, and for Matt Jefferies, life is perfect. The penthouse, the career—even the perfect soon-to-be-fiancée. But then Matt’s troubled past knocks on his door. And once Allie Carson says hello, everything changes.

Allie broke up with Matt years ago, when he turned “that kid from Beaker Street” into a cold, corporate city slicker. It went against what she loved about him—and the small-town life she could never leave. Now, with Matt’s estranged family facing desperate times, it’s time for him to come home. And to choose between the man Matt’s become…and the woman who never stopped loving him.

You can purchase Matthew’s Choice at Harlequin in paperback or e-book format. Harlequin is the only one that has the book as a paperback.  I think you can get your local bookstore to order a copy, though. A Kindle version can be purchased at Amazon or a Nook version at Barnes and Noble or in e-format at Kobo.

But to celebrate the release I’m going to give away two copies of Matthew’s Choice.

All you have to do is leave a comment and tell me your favorite romance…or favorite any book.  Must be 18 years or older and have a US post office box. I will randomly draw a name next Tuesday night.  And Cheryl Meints won the gift card last week!

 

Cheryl Mients is the winner of last week’s drawing!

Muscadine vinesI can’t believe another month has come and gone! I had so many plans for August. *Sigh* Oh well, let’s move on. Today I want to discuss a few Strictly Southern foods. One is the Muscadine–or muskydine as us kids used to say. It looks like a grape, and when I was a kid, you could only find them in the woods. And they grew high in the trees.  Now you can find them in my backyard. A bunch of us kids would traipse out to the nearby woods and the bravest one would climb the tree to the top (cause that’s where the vines were) and then he would shake the vines until muscadines rained down. While we were sent to gather the muscadines for jelly and preserves, quite a few of them never made it home. They were so good, well worth the 4 seeds that are usually in each grape. It’s sort of hard to describe how muscadines taste. They’re sweet with a unique musky taste,  and the hulls are tough, with a tangy flavor that contrasts with the sweetness of the pulp. Some people squeeze the pulp from the hulls to make a clear jelly, but I like the dark jams made with the hulls. And muscadine cobbler is awesome!   muscadines in my backyardphoto (29)   Here is the bowl I picked from the vines in my back yard. If I wasn’t on a diet, I would have baked a cobbler so you could see how delicious it looks. Muscadine cobbler is usually eaten after a meal of cornbread, and I don’t mean that sweet, cake-like version I found in Washington D. C., but the real kind made with buttermilk, fried pork chops or chicken, (take your pick), peas, fried corn (or on the cob), greens, (again take your pick over turnip or mustard. I won’t mention collard greens because that’s something even I don’t eat. :-) And Sweet Tea. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings on Muscadines. Next month I’ll write about Slugburgers. I would have written about them this month, but I didn’t have a photo of one. And it would be too hard to describe, so I’ll just let you wonder for the next 30 days what in the world a Slugburger is. Leave me a comment if there is a Southern food you’ve heard of and wondered what it is, or there is a food you’d like me to discuss.

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OuthouseA while ago, I was asked in an author interview what made me smile and what made me laugh out loud. What made me smile was instant–a baby’s laughter, a kitten, a beautiful sunset…the list could go on. But as I thought, I couldn’t remember anything that made me laugh out loud. I don’t like what passes for comedy on TV, except for some of the Christian comedians, but then I remembered something I had read in our local paper, and thought I’d pass it on.

The Toilet Facilities in the camp ground

A lady who was rather old fashioned, always quite delicate and elegant, especially in her language. She and her husband were planning a vacation Florida, so she wrote to a particular camp ground asking for a reservation.

She wanted to make sure the camp ground was fully equipped, but didn’t quite know how to ask about the toilet facilities. She just couldn’t bring herself to write the word “toilet” in her letter. After much deliberation, she finally came up with the old fashioned term BATHROOM COMMODE, but when she wrote that down, she thought she was being too forward. So she started all over again, rewrote the entire letter and referred to the bathroom commode merely as the “BC”. “Does the campground have its own BC?” is what she actually wrote.

Well, the campground owner wasn’t old-fashioned at all and when he got the letter he just couldn’t figure out what the woman was talking about. That “BC” business really stumped him. After worrying about it for awhile he showed the letter to several campers, but they couldn’t figure out what the lady meant either. So, the campground owner finally coming to the conclusion that the lady must be asking about the local Baptist Church, sat down and wrote the lady.

Upon reading his letter, and with great shock, the lady quickly decided not to got to that campground…. The letter is as follows…

“Dear Madam, I regret very much the delay in answering your letter, but I now take great pleasure in informing you that a BC is located nine miles north of the campground and is capable of seating 250 people at one time. I admit it is quite a distance away, if you are in the habit of going regularly, but no doubt you will be pleased to know that a great number of people take their lunches along and make a day of it. They usually arrive early and stay late.

“It is such a beautiful facility and the acoustics are marvelous, even the normal delivery sounds can be heard. The last time my wife and I went was six years ago, and it was so crowded we had to stand up the whole time we were there. It may interest you to know that right now there is a supper planned to raise money to buy more seats. They are going to hold it in the basement of the BC.

I would like to say it pains me very much not being able to go more regularly, but it is surely no lack of desire on my part. As we grow older it seems to be more of an effort, particularly in cold weather.

If you decide to come down to our campground, perhaps I could go with you the first time you go, sit with you, and introduce you to all the other folks (remember, this is a friendly community).”

And that’s what makes me laugh. Now, to be entered into a random drawing for a $10 iTunes gift card, leave a comment telling me what makes you laugh out loud by Tuesday night. To be entered in the giveaway, you must be 18 years old.

 

Coming in September:

Matthew's Choice

Coming in October: A Promise to Protect

A Promise to Protect

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photo (9)It’s been my belief all my life that growing up Southern is different from growing up anywhere else in the world. Then I got to wondering if that was true. So, I thought I’d mention a few Southern activities from my youth and see if people in the other parts did something similar.

Like catfish grabbling. You have to go to the river and look for an old log, or a rock ledge under the water where catfish can hole up. Often people grabble in the spring when catfish spawn. The female lays the egg and the male hangs around to keep the eggs aerated and to protect them from predators. But I’ve known people who grabble all year…although I don’t understand why anyone would want to wade out in the river in December or January and stick their hand under the water and feel around for a 50 pound catfish. Now, this isn’t anything I’ve ever done, but I’ve known a few people who loved to do this. I admire their courage, but question their sanity. And that’s okay in the South.

Another game we played was hunting for snipe. It was played around midnight, usually by kids at camp. Several older kids would get up a snipe hunt and reluctantly agree to take along some of the younger ones. The younger ones were given a bag (usually a tow sack) and a stick and led out into the woods where they were instructed to beat the ground and whistle for the snipe and they would run into the bag. While the younger kids were beating the ground and whistling or calling the snipe, the older kids would disappear, leaving the others to find their way back to camp.  Yeah, I know. That was just plain mean.

Of course there is also food of the South. If you order Iced Tea (and yes it’s capitalized) in the South, it will come sweetened. You have to ask for unsweet tea and endure the raised eyebrow of your waitress. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it is. Then there are grits. There is no such thing as a grit–it’s grits and always swimming in butter. It is a corn product and was not a staple of my diet until I was grown. My mother hated grits and therefore we never tasted the delicacy until after we left home. I don’t know why my mother hated grits. She just did.

I don’t know what you call soft drinks where you live, but in the South any soft drink is a Coke initially…as in, “Y’all want a Coke?” “Yeah, gimme a Dr. Pepper.”

And the language. I will save the language for another blog post, but there is one word that seems to really bother the Yankees who move south. Directly. I’m not sure what that word means to you, but to me, it means something will happen later, as in “I’ll get to cleaning the barn stalls directly, maybe tomorrow.” I really don’t understand why there should be any confusion about the meaning of the word directly.

So, that’s my first post on Strictly Southern. Are these things I’ve described strictly Southern or am I just a little delusional? Leave a comment with things peculiar to your region of the world.

 

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Finding Beth Cover (2)

Beth Gallagher

Heroine of “Finding Beth” by Linnette R. Mullin


Welcome Beth! Tell us a little about yourself.

 

~ My name is Elizabeth Anne Gallagher and I grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. I’m home-schooled, a college graduate, and I have one brother, Joshua Caleb, who is now in heaven. My parents grew up in a tiny south-eastern Missouri town called Logan Creek where I spent many childhood summer days visiting with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and lots of cousins. Now, I spend my days working in a bank as a teller or customer service representative, eating sushi with my boss and best friend – Tiffany Nash, and planning for my future.

 

 

Speaking of your best friend, how did you and Tiffany meet, and what do you love most about her?

 

~ Tiffany hired me the summer before my Senior year in college to work at the bank branch where she’s the teller or CSR manager. What I love about Tiffany is there’s nothing put on about her. She’s a straight shooter – she tells it like she sees it, yet underneath her tough exterior is a tender, loving, fiercely loyal heart.

 

 

What do you value most in your friends?

 

~ Loyalty. A friend isn’t a true friend unless they stick by you through the dark moments of life.

 

 

Speaking of dark moments, what’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life and what did you learn from it?

 

~ That’s a loaded question. I will say it has to do with my brother’s death, my ex-fiancé, and facing the aftermath of that relationship. If you want to learn more, you can read about it in Linnette R. Mullin’s debut novel, “Finding Beth” where she tells my story.

 

 

I know from reading the book that you have a lot of good moments, too. What do you consider to be the best moment of your life?

 

~ There are many wonderful moments, but the best one was when God finally broke through all my pain and began healing my heart.

 

 

Obviously, you believe in God. What would you like to say about him?

 

~ He’s alive and real. He’s my life. Growing up, I always took God for granted. My parents and my brother, Josh, were always such strong Christians and I let them just carry me along. It’s not that I didn’t believe in Jesus for myself, or trust him as my savior, but my faith wasn’t very deep. It was so easy to depend on my family and just kind of float along in my Christian walk. They took care of me and protected me from the really bad things in life. Josh even protected me from Kyle until the accident. As hard as Josh’s death was, God used it and the following events in my life to show me that he’s not just my parent’s God or my brother’s God, but he’s my God. My savior. My strength and my fortress. He is a loving God who pours his grace and mercy out on his children every day – even his weak wavering ones. Through everything, he holds on to me even when I let go of him. Jesus is my everything.finding beth

 

 

I suppose it’s safe to say, then, the answer to my next question is that God is the most important thing in your life. What you value most?

 

~ Absolutely! My relationship with Jesus is more important than anything else in life. Without him, there is nothing worth living for.

 

 

So how do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you change?

 

~ I’m very happy and at peace. If I could take away the fears and nightmares that tend to creep in from time to time when I least expect them, I’d make them go away and never return.

 

 

Is that what you are most afraid of? The nightmares?

 

~ No. I think what I fear most is knowing there are men just like my ex walking around free. They should all be locked away!

 

 

It sounds like you are fairly honest with yourself. Is there anything you lie to yourself about? If so, what is it?

 

~ Somewhere deep inside, I think I still believe I caused Josh’s death and that I deserved all the bad things that happened to me afterward. That’s a lie I’m still trying to overcome.

 

 

Let’s move on to what I hope are some lighter questions. If you could spend the day with someone you admire, living or dead, who would it be?

 

~ My big brother, Josh! No doubt about it!

 

 

I’m sure that would be a very happy day for you! Now what about romance? All of Linnette’s readers want to know, do you see any hope for romance in your future? If so, how would you describe your ideal mate.

 

~ I do hope to marry and have a family someday. My ideal mate would be a man who loves God first and most, one who is gentle physically and emotionally, and one who puts others before himself.

 

 

That’s no small order! I’m curious. You seem to have formed a rather quick attachment to Adam Blythe. Was it love at first sight? Do you believe in love at first sight?

 

~ Adam and I did become friends rather quickly and I don’t know what I’d do without him. As to your question, I don’t believe in love at first sight, but I do believe God can cause you to be drawn to an individual at first sight. Love itself needs time to take root and grow.

 

 

What first impression do you think people tend to have of you? What about after they get to know you?

 

~ I think most people see me as a very nice pushover. Once they get to know me, they come to realize there’s unexpected steel in my spine and they seem to like me better for it.

 

 

You are a strong woman, Beth. Don’t ever let anybody convince you otherwise! I’m a little curious about your bucket list. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t?

 

~ There are lots of things! One of them would be to travel across country by train.

 

 

That would be cool! It would take several days, though. If you only had one free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

 

~ Hmm… I think I’d go on a day long photo shoot in the SmokyMountains, have dinner with someone special that evening, and then end the day by either relaxing in a bubble bath or curling up in front of the fireplace with a good book and a cup of hot tea.

 

 

Sounds nice! What book is next in your to-be-read pile?

 

~ “Loving Tiffany” of course! Well, as soon as Linnette gets it written, anyway. Until then, I’d love to read Cathy Bryant’s book, “A Bridge Unbroken”.

 

 

Just for fun, what makes you laugh out loud?

 

~ Watching squirrels play. They are the funniest little critters when they’re playing chase and barking at each other.

 

 

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

 

~ I’m too gullible. I’d change that in a heartbeat!

 

 

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

 

~ Charisma. Charm. It’s deceitful. Too many people hide behind it to use and abuse others.

 

 

Where would you like to live?

 

~ The beautiful, enchanting SmokyMountains!

 

 

Which talent would you most like to have?

 

~ I love music and art! If I could paint what I see instead of just take photos… or if I could sit at a piano and play the music I hear in my head… I’d love to be able to do either of those things!

 

 

What is your motto?

 

~ Don’t waste pain.

 

 

Don’t waste pain? What do you mean by that?

 

~ This is something I remind myself of frequently – especially in the hard moments. God would never allow me to go through such painful things without a purpose. He is never cruel. He is always good. If he has me go through something hard, he will use it to grow me and strengthen me and make me more like Jesus. Through my trials, I’m better able to share in Christ’s sufferings and to sympathize with others who experience what I’ve experienced. So I remind myself to not waste my pain, but to strive to use it to help others and bring glory to God.

 

 

Wow! That’s something we should all remember. Thank you, Beth, for being with us on “Character Chats” today. I’ve enjoyed our visit.

 

~ Thank you for having me!

 

 

If you’d like to learn more about Beth and her story, grab a copy of “Finding Beth” by Linnette R. Mullin. Thank you for stopping by “Character Chat’s” and if you have any further questions for Beth, leave them in the comments. She’d love to chat with you!

 

 

“Finding Beth”

 

A run-away-bride-to-be and a southern-boy-next-door…

 

Trapped by the reality of past choices… lost in confusion and pain, Beth Gallagher must fight her way back to God. Just when she makes a new friend in Adam Blythe and finds peace with God, tragedy strikes. She faces new demons that steal her new-found peace and threaten to steal her future. Could she possibly find true love with Adam? Or will this crisis tear them apart? Will she ever find her way amidst such an emotional mine-field?

 

 

Purchase links:

LinnetteRMullin.com (autographed copies)

CrossRiverMedia.com (specials for book clubs/women’s groups)

Amazon.com

 

 

LinnetteMullin-5x7LINNETTE R. MULLIN is an author of life-changing romance. She married her hubby, Johnathan, over twenty years ago and they’ve been blessed with four sons. Some of her writing credits include Charles Stanley’s “In Touch” magazine, “101 Facets of Faith”, Guidepost’s “Extraordinary Answers to Prayer”, and “Public Health Alert” – a nationally distributed newspaper for the chronically ill. A member of ACFW and HACWN, she is also the founder and coordinator of Palmetto Christian Writer’s Network in Lexington, South Carolina, and she runs the “We Are Writers” group on Facebook. Her favorite things in life are her family, her church, reading and writing, and her Savior most of all. For more information including her social media links, visit LinnetteRMullin.com.

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The Amish culture is fascinating to me. Also fascinating are those who have left the order. When fellow Seymour Agency sibling offered to write a post on this subject, I jumped at the opportunity. I hope you find it as interesting and fascinating as I have. And for more information check out Brenda’s blog post on Amish teens.

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Brenda and two of her former Amish ‘boys’

By Brenda Nixon

Through my home and heart come many who’ve left the Amish. Most are from the uber strict Swartzentruber Order but, some are from OOA (Old Order Amish). I learn about their struggles to assimilate into the “forbidden” English world, and of the life they left.

Some come for a meal or only during the holidays. God led one – Mosie – to “adopt” my husband and me as his English parents. What a privilege and responsibility. Parenting an adolescent from another culture is like riding the high wave in Hawaii. So thankful God has given me many small waves to this huge learning curve.

As you’re reading, my home is again “home” to another Amish runaway. He’s tall, slender, blue-eyed, blond, and 18-years-young. Inexperienced. Hard working. Eager to please. Naïve about life on the outside. An absolute delight to “parent.” His name is Monroe.

One morning, I walked into my kitchen just in time to see Monroe . . . removing my new metal skillet . . . from the microwave!

“What’d you just do?” I asked, fearing the answer. With wild bed-hair and wrinkled pj’s I probably looked frightful to him.

“Warmed up my sandwich,” he innocently replied looking at me with those crystal blue eyes. His Deutch accent familiar to my ears.

“Can’t put metal in a microwave.”

“Why?”  He was proud that he’d independently made a breakfast sandwich and wanted to melt the cheese.

“You’ll ruin it.”

I’d learned that Amish are visual learners – they watch, learn, and copy behaviors. Watching me, Monroe probably thought it was acceptable to put anything in the microwave, push buttons, and hit “start.”

I promptly learned that I can’t assume he knows how to revere and properly use this piece of kitchen equipment by observation alone. So, like any mom, I demonstrated what is safe to use and what to avoid when warming foods in a microwave.

“But why?” he inquired.

Well, it’s problematic explaining physics and heat conduction to an ESL (English as Second Language) student with an eighth-grade Amish education. Their school system does not teach science, history, or social studies.

I breathed a deep sigh of relief that no sparks flew and nothing exploded or caught fire. Sweet Monroe ate his warm breakfast and left for his new English job.

Days later, I plugged in my flat iron, turned it on high, propped it on the bathroom counter, and left the room. I probably had bed-hair that needed tamed.

Monroe went in the bathroom to take a shower. Several minutes later he stormed out waving his hand. “That thing is hot!” he exclaimed wide-eyed.

“What’d you do?”

“Your thing fell over so I picked it up.”

“At what end?”

“The long shiny end. I didn’t know it was hot.”

Oops, my bad. Guess he learned. Sorry it took natural consequences to teach the lad that plugged-in flat irons burn. As Amish he wasn’t allowed electricity and none of his sisters used any fangled things to beautify their hair.

I continue to learn and so does my gentle, handsome Monroe. My husband and I have taught Monroe about wearing underwear – Swartzentruber men don’t! He’s learned to use sunscreen, especially on his burned ears after he cut off his long Amish hair. Dentists. Insurance, Taxes. Budgeting. Avoiding fast girls. He now calls us his English parents, making him our second “son” from the Amish.Dad teaching about ties (2) (800x760)Amish Monroe

If you want information and education about the Amish and former-Amish visit my blog Beyond Buggies and Bonnets: True Amish Stories www.BrendaNixonOnAmish.blogspot.com

And if you have questions, leave a comment and Brenda will try and answer them!

(c)Copyright 2014, Brenda Nixon.

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Patricia: I noticed you wear a lot of different hats. You’re in the food service and weight loss business, you co-own a piano restoration company with your husband, and you are a leader in your community and active in your church. How do you balance it all and still have time to write?

Elaine: Patricia, thanks for hosting me and giving me extra exposure in getting my name out in the social media world.

I do a lot of juggling! However, allow me to clarify. Although I still work in the restaurant business (provides decent benefits, considering my husband is self-employed) I’m no longer in the weight loss business, which interestingly I’d ventured into many moons ago after a stint of managing at a fast-food eatery. As for community service, that happened back when I was in my 30s… also many moons ago. Actually, that was a major detour in my writing journey but I believed I didn’t have a choice. A mining company wanted to blow up and cart away two significant hills about a thousand feet from my front door, and this over a 100-year time plan. It would have had major impacts to daily living, as well as our piano business that requires quiet and clean air. When I first became active in the citizens group that fought the mining company, the town that clearly wanted to invite them in, and the state that had never said no to a mining company before, I rolled up my sleeves and started to attend meetings. When I was offered the position of Vice President of the citizens group I found it difficult to pass, unaware of the ten years (not exaggerating!) it would take out of my life and remove me from accomplishing my dreams. As I see it now, in hindsight, God planted me where He wanted me when He wanted me. It took all of us together to stop this company. It taught me much about life and people and made me grow in ways I probably would have not otherwise.

And, as far as working in the piano business, when the economy hit that sour note a couple of handful of years ago it was necessary for me to leave the cozy work-at-home environment that I enjoyed with my husband for 13 years. I grabbed the first job that grabbed me. Yet, I still work on his quarterly taxes and withholding.

So, to finally answer your question, I admit, I’m maxed. I get up at 2:30 AM to start work at 4:30 AM (but fortunately last year I cut back to 4 days a week instead of 5 because I really believe it was starting to kill me). I am working very hard on my writing and for the past 3 years actively blog, hosting weekly guests. How do I do it? I basically try to ignore my inner whines and more than ever have been placing my focus on God and trusting Him. I try not to get overwhelmed by things, especially important biggies like what-will-happen-to-me-in-the-future by letting God handle those issues. Well, at least I’m trying. Ha. I don’t have a busy social life, but that’s okay since both my husband and I are homebodies. He has his he-cave and I have my writing-cave, aka, the couch with my laptop.

 

 

How did you come to start Everyone’s Story?

A few years ago I felt a growing and gnawing pressure as a pre-published writer to circulate my name and grow that all-important social platform. Time wise I knew I couldn’t commit to blogging about my thoughts 3 or 4 times a week and truthfully did not think anyone would be that psyched to read my ponderings. So I came up with a venue, something that as a blog viewer I enjoyed, and that was hosting guests, whether published authors, pre-pubs like myself, or occasionally a guest representing a great cause. On Everyone’s Story I strive to provide “uplifting stories for readers, writers, and all those in-between.”

Patricia, the unexpected blessing of my blog is the daily gift it gives me: meeting and connecting with so many people from all over the world. I can only hope that they are lifted in spirit as much as they lift me and bless me with joy and encouragement.

 I know I am always encouraged and lifted up when I read your blog. About your writing…do you have an agent? How did you meet her?

Yes, I’ve been blessed last spring when Linda S. Glaz of the Hartline Literary Agency took me on as a client. It took me a long time to find this strong woman who **gets** my writing and is willing to work hard at selling it. As I’ve mentioned, not only do I blog but I enjoy viewing other blogs—have learned so much from others. One day I stumbled onto Linda’s blog and she was offering a contest to see if an elevator-pitch grabbed her attention, the prize being a review of the first 5 pages of a manuscript. Well, she liked my pitch and 5 pages for my then WIP, but when she wanted to see more I told her honestly that it wasn’t available but that I happened to have another manuscript completed. She read this mss. over one weekend. One! She took me on as a client, we worked out some editorial kinks, and she is now circulating this novel. But… I almost didn’t enter Linda’s contest until a little unrelenting voice badgered me with the words “Why not?” Lesson learnt: chase away your inner doubtful demons!

 

Absolutely! What keeps you writing, and what advice would you give unpublished writers?

What keeps me writing and what advice can I offer to unpublished writers is one and the same. But first, let me ask a question to your viewers: Do you want to publish a novel? It’s either yes or no. No in-between. My advice and self-motivation is something I humanly struggle with on a daily basis: am I trusting God with my writing? A few weeks ago I was blessed with my second adult baptismal and, to use a cliché, have since woken up and smelled the coffee: I need to trust that God has indeed planted within my heart this desire to write and as through my baptismal when I’ve become born again in faith, I now realize that I need to stop looking and fretting about my age and realize that being born again means I have the rest of my life to go forth and do what He wants me to. In extreme shorthand: stop worrying about what and when others are accomplishing but focus only on Him and what He wants you to do. You know how others in the beginning of each New Year come up with a one-word goal to focus on during the year? Well, I haven’t, but instead I’m focusing on God. I admit, as a human being, this is not easy, nor does it come with the snap of my fingers. I’m working on it!

 

Time for a little fun. Two quick questions: 1. Where would you rather vacation, Alaska or Hawaii? And why.  2. If you could choose to go on a picnic with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

1—Hawaii. Sure, I’m saying that right now as someone living in the Northeast who is grumbling about the snow and cold, but I’d love to experience a slice of paradise in this world!

2—Oh, a bunch, an eclectic bunch. In no particular order, after Christ, of course: John the Baptist; Paul; John; my paternal grandfather who died two months before my father was born; my paternal great uncle Louis because I’ve always been curious about him; those whom I lost such as my mother, paternal grandmother, paternal aunt, and dear childhood friend Diane; and call me nutso, Bob Fosse (for his creativity and, too, I think I’d get his darkness).

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