Friday, April 18, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature-Marianne Evans



Today I welcome an author who aspires to show God's love in every one of her stories: 
Marianne Evans


Enter to win 
Marianne's book
Devotion

Two winners will be chosen!

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.



While scrolling through FB one day, I happened to read about Marianne winning the ACRA trophy (Ancient City Romance Author's). I wrote to her and found out she had released several new books last year. And when I found she lived right here in my home state, I instantly knew she and I needed to connect. She has proven to be a godly, spirited, fun friend. I asked her if she could share with us how God had led her on her writing journey. After reading her words, so focused on glorifying God, I had to share with you what she said:



God's Plan Came to Fruition


My writing journey began in the lined pages of a black-and-white spotted composition book. I was in the fifth grade, and each time I handed it in for English, I received such wonderful words of encouragement: You show depth of feeling, so you drew me into your story. You utilize the senses very well. Readers love that. Your word-use is fantastic.

My love affair with words continued into the 8th grade, when I delivered hand-written stories to my friends in a chapter-by-chapter progression. These were sweet little romances, because even then, I was taken in by the notion of a butterflies-in-the-tummy explosion of happiness when people found their way to one another. Added benefit? My friends read, my friends enjoyed, my friends asked for more.

Given hindsight, I suppose those prompts should have tripped a few wires about what I was meant to do, but I never thought much about being ‘A Writer.’ I simply enjoyed observation. Word-crafting. Some of my most productive creative moments are spent watching the world around me, absorbing people and snips of conversation, and asking myself the all-important question: ‘What if?’ I translate those scenes into the written word because they come alive in my mind and refuse me peace until I’ve somehow captured on paper what I see in my mind. I enjoy the process of taking seconds in time and inking them into something that lasts (adding my own interpretation, of course…)

Back then, though, the art of story creation was no big deal. Believe me—if I could do it, anyone could do it. I didn’t recognize the gift, and God’s purpose through it. At least, not yet.

Let’s fast-forward a decade or so. My love of romance, along with the voices in my head and heart, led me to publication in the traditional, mainstream romance market. Following three releases with Kensington Publishing, an explosion in e-book publication led me to The Wild Rose Press. I loved it, but I’ll be honest. I wasn’t fulfilled.

Oh, Kensington and Wild Rose were wonderful. That wasn’t the issue. God kept tapping my shoulder, urging me toward a different path. I longed to write Christian inspirational romance and fiction but couldn’t quite come up with the right story to tell. Besides, I thought, who was I to write stories from a Christian world view. I’m a sinner. I’m not a theologian. I’m not worthy… (Ah…hello, Satan, you snake in the grass)

Fortunately, God is relentless. When He puts forth a mission, there’s nothing that stops it. It was His will that I move forward as a writer of Faith-Affirming Fiction, and an opportunity presented itself. Pelican Book Group, an independent, up-and-coming publisher of Christian romance and fiction, sponsored a contest called Heart’s Crossing. A bare-bones story idea was given, and it was up to the author/contestant to fill in the blanks. The victor would be awarded a publishing contract.

I found out, just days before Christmas of 2009, that I won the contest. Want to read it? Heart’s Crossing is free, and located at Amazon, right here: http://amzn.to/12BCHuM.

This novella led to nothing less than a writing explosion in my life. God called, I did my best to follow, dedicating each word, each character, each story to His glory. After Hearts Crossing came the Woodland Series, the Sal’s Place Series among several others. Then, there was Devotion, my “big book” as I like to say, which formed my Christian fiction debt. My latest release, Jodie’s Song, part of four very special novellas being released to celebrate the Easter season at Heart’s Haven, an apartment complex in southeast Texas governed by loving angels and God’s miracles. In creating these stories (this is the third set of Heart’s Haven stories) God also graced me with the friendship and sisterhood of three precious writing partners, Delia Latham, Mary Manners and Tanya Stowe.


God’s Plan came to fruition. I never could have dreamed of contracting over twenty titles in a span of four years. I never could have dreamed of sharing my stories with others in such a big way. God, however, is faithful to His promises, and He exceeded my every prayer. Piecing stories together, mixing words and emotion into the world of human experience comes to me as a grace from Him, and I’m forever grateful!


~ ~


Marianne Evans is a multi-award-winning author of Christian romance and fiction. Her hope is to spread the faith-affirming message of God’s love through the stories He prompts her to create. Readers laud her work as: ‘Riveting.’ ‘Realistic and true to heart.’ ‘Compelling.’

Marianne’s Christian fiction debut, Devotion, earned the prestigious Bookseller’s Best Award from Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America as well as Best Novel with Strong Romantic Elements from the Ancient City Romance Authors (ACRA), also a chapter of RWA. Hearts Communion earned Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year honors as well as Best Inspirational Romance from ACRA. Her novella Finding Home earned the Selah Award for excellence in Christian fiction and Evans has also earned acclaim in such RWA contests as The International Digital Awards, the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence where she has been a finalist three times, and the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence contest. 

Happily married and the mother of two, Marianne is a lifelong resident of Michigan who is active in a number of a number of Romance Writers of America chapters, most notably the Greater Detroit Chapter where she served two terms as President. She’s also active in American Christian Fiction Writers and the Michigan Literary Network

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Blessings, friends, and please join me at the following sites—I love connecting with readers!!

~ ~

HEART'S CROSSING  

“How do you feel about God, Collin?”
“I don’t.”

Collin Edwards, a former parishioner at Woodland Church of Christ, has renounced God without apology, his faith drained away in the face of a tragic loss.

Daveny Montgomery cares deeply about her relationship with God and the community of Woodland. But lately she's been in a rut, longing for something to reignite her spiritual enthusiasm.

A beautification project at Woodland seems the answer for them both. Daveny spearheads the effort and Collin assists—but only with the renovations, and only because he wants to know Daveny better.

Despite his deepening feelings for her, even stepping into the common areas of the church stirs tension and anger.

Can Daveny trust in Collin’s fledgling return to faith? And can Collin ever accept the fact that while he turned his back on God, God never turned his back on him?

Heart’s Crossing is free, and located at Amazon, right here: http://amzn.to/12BCHuM.

Devotion

From This Day Forward

Christian Music agent Kellen Rossiter has everything he ever wanted: A-list clients from coast to coast, a loving wife who honors and respects him, and a faith life that’s never wavered—until now.

Juliet Rossiter has the perfect life: a rewarding schedule serving the underprivileged, a husband who loves her as Christ loved the church, and a blessed future as a mother—at least that's what she thinks.

For Better or Worse

But what happens when their rock-solid marriage begins to crumble under the weight of an unexpected and powerful temptation? How does love survive when its foundation is shaken?

'Til Death Do Us Part

When human frailty and the allure of sin deal a harsh blow to their relationship, it will take more than love to mend the shattered trust and heartbreak. It will take a lifetime of devotion.


To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Marianne Evan's book: "Devotion":
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this site, 
if you aren't already.

TWO WINNERS WILL BE CHOSEN!

Sorry  US  only

Winner announced on my facebook page.


Thank you, Marianne, for Joining us This Weekend!
.

Sure sounds like Marianne is bursting with her good news. God is so very good!

How has God blessed you recently? Let's share what He has done for us.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Important Are You?

There are many people and objects that have great importance to us. We share our concerns about a family member or friend who are physically hurting. We also share the times when we can rejoice that a family member or friend is feeling better or has had an accomplishment. These are good things.

We value our homes, our family, memorable objects and experiences. There is nothing wrong with this. God gave them to us to make you happy. He loves to see us happy.



Photo Courtesy


But sometimes we wonder just how important we, as an individual, are.

We question our value, what we've done with our lives. Sometimes we focus on the things we've done wrong and spiral into a sadness, assuming we are worthless.








Psalm 139 says:

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.


God knew there would be moments when we would question our importance. He gave us many verses in the Bible to serve as word hugs from Him.

Today is the Wednesday during the celebrated Passover week. The Bible tells us Jesus had looked at the city of Jerusalem and wept. He prayed in the garden, knowing the great sacrifice needed to be given to save us from a terrible punishment. He knew all the sins of the world would be placed on His shoulders.

Yet, because you and I are so very important to Him….He chose to do all that was required to save us. He really wants to see us and spend time with us in Heaven.

How important are you?

You are a treasure worth paying a great price. You are loved by the one who created you.


This post has been brought to you by the one word: Significance

Monday, April 14, 2014

Easter Island



Photo Courtesy

Easter is the time many of us get together with family and friends. Some of us participate in community activities for children and others invite those without a place to go. The day can take a lot of preparation but the fellowship is worth the investment.

When our children were very young, we lived on a rural island located in Lake Huron off the Upper Peninsula in Michigan. There was one blinking traffic light, one small credit union branch, and a few other typical small town businesses.

Wild animals like bear, moose, coyote, bobcat, etc found their way over when ice connected the island to Canada each winter.

Like most very small towns, Drummond Island had no shortage of adventures for small children. They roamed as free as Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer climbing trees that towered over our house.

The Congregation Church bells called island worshippers every Sunday morning. The head deacon had been born and raised there. He had a rough yet kind way about him.

On Easter Sunday, he approached us and invited our family to his place for the egg hunt and dinner. “You don’t have family nearby, eh?” No we didn’t. But not many people invite a family with a five and seven year old to a get together the same day. I wondered what his wife would think.

My husband’s job paid just enough for the bills, keep the heat at fifty-five degrees in the winter, and give the kids powdered milk. No extras. We learned to buy groceries in bulk once a month and shop the catalogs for clothes and other needs.

We didn’t have the money to buy a ham for a family dinner and probably would have colored one or two eggs at the most for the kids.

The deacon raised his eyebrows and clapped his hands together. “Well now, can you come or not?”

We smiled and said yes, even though we felt like we were imposing. I had the kids keep their Easter clothes on until it was time to go to the deacon’s house. It seemed the right thing to do.

Photo Courtesy


The deacon’s dining table had been expanded to full capacity to accommodate his sons and their families along with ours. Chairs had been scrunched close together. It didn’t take long before the tentative spirit left, allowing us to enjoy this giving family. 

After dinner and lively conversation, our children muddied their Easter clothes and giggled with the other kids searching for Easter eggs hidden outside.

That evening we went home, stuffed with home cooked food and blessed with fellowship.







Is there someone you know that you can bless by welcoming them into your family for a meal? It doesn't have to be for Easter. It can be anytime. 

Can you share your experience if you have invited someone in need to your table, or if you were the guest, like my family was?


Friday, April 11, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature: Beth White


Today I welcome an author who weaves her music and love for the coastal regions into her stories: 
Beth White


Enter to win Beth's 
March 2014 release,
The Pelican Bride

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.



I met Beth White at the last ACFW conference I attended. I saw the same lovely smile you see in the photo. She is cheerful and now a delightful friend of mine. I asked Beth to share how God has led her on her journey. What a roller coaster tale. Here is what she said:



The Long and Winding Road


My writing journey has been anything but straightforward, which is usually how God works, isn’t it? 

I had completed two young adult novels (which went nowhere toward publication) when an idea for a historical romance set in Civil War-era Mobile, Alabama came to me. About halfway through writing this book, I realized my Southern-belle heroine’s abolitionist activities might be fueled by Christian beliefs. I wondered if heavy spiritual elements might distract from the power of the romance story.

Around this time I happened to read Francine Rivers’s novel Redeeming Love and her wonderful “Mark of the Lion” series. Her masterful storytelling showed me the power of Christian fiction. One day as I was taking a long prayer walk around my neighborhood, the Holy Spirit impressed on me to not be afraid of threading faith elements into my work--and that publishing “stardom” should not be my goal. Instead, I was to write what came from my heart, work hard to polish my craft, and let God determine who reads my work. 

Not long after, I attended a local writers’ conference where I met an editor from Francine Rivers’s publisher, Tyndale House. He took an interest in my work and eventually contracted one of my other manuscripts, Miracle on Beale Street. (the Civil War story eventually sold to Steeple Hill).

Since that first novella, God has continued to open and shut doors in the world of publication for me even as the industry has undergone seismic shifts in technology, economics, and readership. The Christian publishing market has exploded, offering amazing opportunities in my chosen genre. I’ve been blessed to have the same agent from the beginning (except for a short time when he was a publisher at one of the major houses). I definitely feel this was a work of God’s hand!

The rights to those early novellas have since been returned to me and I've started re-publishing them myself. After a five-year sabbatical from writing, God provided a three-book contract with Revell. The Pelican Bride, the first book of “The Gulf Coast Chronicles,” is releasing this month. 

This writing journey has led me through some strange and scary and exhilarating places, but there’s been deep joy and satisfaction in knowing God is with me. And I wouldn’t have it any other way!


~ ~


Beth's choir students at
LeFlore Magnet High School in Mobile
Beth White is a native Southerner, born on the Gulf Coast and reared in northwest Mississippi. With undergraduate degrees in music and English education, plus a Masters in Creative Writing, she has spent the last thirty years teaching fine arts to preschoolers through college students. Besides performing professionally as a singer and flutist, in the last thirteen years she has published (as Elizabeth White) four novellas and ten full-length novels with such publishers as Tyndale House, Zondervan, and Steeple Hill.

Beth’s current and most ambitious writing project to date is the culmination of a decade’s research into the development of the American Gulf Coast.. The Pelican Bride launches The Gulf Coast Chronicles with the adventures of a ship full of French mail order brides.

Beth and her husband Scott have two married adult children and one grandchild. Beth teaches piano and chorus at an urban high school in Mobile, Alabama, an occupation, which will undoubtedly one day become a story thread in a novel.

To learn more about Beth White, visit:
Her website www.bethwhite.net. Go to the “Contact” page. 
Twitter: @bethsquill

~ ~

The Pelican Bride  (released April 2014)

She’s come to the New World to escape a perilous past. But has it followed her to these far shores?

It is 1704 when Frenchwoman Geneviève Gaillain and her sister board the frigate Pélican bound for the distant Louisiana colony. Both have promised to marry one of the rough men toiling in this strange new world in order to escape suffering in the old. Geneviève knows life won’t be easy, but at least here she can establish a home and a family without fear of persecution for her outlawed religious beliefs.


When she falls in love with Tristan Lanier, an expatriate cartographer-turned-farmer whose checkered past is shrouded in mystery, Geneviève realizes that even in this land of liberty one is not guaranteed peace. Trouble is brewing outside the fort between the French colonists and the native people surrounding them. And an even more sinister enemy may lurk within. Could the secret Geneviève harbors mean the undoing of the colony itself?





Miracle on Beale Street

Christian Contemporary Romantic Comedy

Miranda Gonzales and Tony Mullins have been tricked! Knowing that the two had clashed over a mysterious event years earlier, their spunky grandmothers plot to reunite them during a dream vacation in Memphis. Reluctantly surrendering to the wiles of their beloved mentors, Miranda and Tony must face the dark shadows of the past and conquer them once and for all.








To enter the contest for an autographed copy of 
Beth White's book: "The Pelican Bride":
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this site, 
if you aren't already.

Sorry  US  only

Winner announced on my facebook page.


Thank you, Beth, for Joining us This Weekend!
.

Beth talked about her research and the desire to share her work by writing a book. In the middle of the project she realized what a testimony the story could have.

We've all helped others if for no other reason than"just because". But has one of those moments also turned into an opportunity to share your faith? Feel free to just say yes in the comment section or share your moment with us.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

No Shows


Photo Courtesy

We'd said we'd be there.

I knew what it felt like to be the one waiting. Assuredly the person/people didn't show because they didn't want to come in the first place.

Hours had been spent in preparation cleaning the house, cooking the meal, prepping the class material and still the person/people didn't show. 

I stood at the doorway or window watching, waiting for them to come--arching my neck to look farther at the least sound. Hoping. Anticipating. Ready to welcome.

And they didn't show. 

I plopped on the sofa and didn't feel like watching TV or playing on my computer. The house was clean--I had nothing to do except feel disappointed.

The glass sure looked half empty instead of half full.

This time, though, I was the one who said I'd be there. My friends didn't know what'd kept me. A family issue steeped in trials stole my attention. 

That night as we stepped out of the car I could only think of how I'd disappointed my friends. Sure, I texted them and said how sorry I was--but I didn't hear back from them.

~

One night in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told His disciples to sit and wait. He asked Peter and the two sons of Zebedee to walk farther in the garden with Him. His heart weighed grievously heavy with the burden He carried. "Stay here and watch with Me," He said.

Jesus walked farther on His own. He fell to His knees and prayed. After some time, Jesus returned to His disciples and sighed. They didn't watch, they didn't wait. "Peter, couldn't you watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray."

Jesus walked back to the deeper place to pray and returned a while later to find Peter and the others asleep again. He went a third time back to His place of prayer. Jesus spoke with the Father and wept. Not long after, He returned to Peter and asked "Are you still sleeping. …Rise. Let us be going."

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No matter what we've done, even if we haven't show as He expected or asked, Jesus promises to forgive. He will always welcome and invite us to go with HIm.

At times our feelings can be hurt by our friends. We look at the situation from only our point of view instead of reaching a hand out to invite the person back into our lives.

Is there someone you need to forgive, reach out to, and invited to come back into fellowship with you?


Monday, April 7, 2014

Lost and Found




This story started the day I took my son's cat to the vet.


The doctor was amazed at how fast the cat had healed. I told him the cat had been ill for sometime since living in an inner city apartment. The cat caught a mouse that had eaten poison.

Now, don't frown, the cat is doing amazing well--this is only the start of this story :)



The vet turned to me and said, "Yes, having pets around us brings out the stories..why this winter I took my wife on a trip to Cancun. There was a conference going on at the time. I figured it would get her away from this long spell of freezing temperatures and snow. 

"She laid in sun for eight days and felt quite good. We packed for our trip back to our winter home and climbed into the taxi. When I took my seat on the airplane I realized I couldn't find my ipad. I had stored all my notes from the conference there. I felt bad about it, but knew I would survive. 

"We arrived at our house, cranked up the heat, and unpacked our bags. Before sitting down to reconstruct information I'd remembered from the conference, I checked FB and found a message. Someone had found my ipad wedged between the seats in the taxi. They gave it to the taxi driver to hold for me.

"I hit replay to type a message but was interrupted by my wife. She'd checked the answering machine. My boss had called and asked me to attend a special training session in Cancun. I needed to leave in three days, all my flight and hotel arrangements had been made. 

"Unbelievable timing. I FB messaged the person who found my ipad and thanked them. I then contacted the taxi company and requested the same driver to pick me up at the Cancun airport. 

"Who would have expected such events to happen in the needed order and timing to get my ipad back to me?"

I must admit I was very excited to listen to him tell this story, but kinda wondered where the pet part would enter. It didn't. He just wanted to share this amazing story of what God had done because he was happy about how my son's cat had improved.

The Bible tells the story of a woman who lost a coin. She cleaned her house from ceiling to floor, every inch. She cleaned it again, searching in every corner, every cupboard, every drawer, and under every piece of furniture. At long last she found the coin. Her excitement caused her to leave her broom in the middle of the floor as she ran out of her house to tell her neighbors. "Guess what!" she said. She retold the story several times giving God the glory at each retelling.

Your turn: Tell something that gives God the glory.


This post has been brought to you by the one word: Found

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fabulous Friday Feature: Ginger Solomon



Today I welcome 
author, Ginger Solomon
a debut author with a fabulous gift for writing.  

Enter to win Ginger's new release,
One Choice

Scroll to the end of the post to see how to enter.



I met Ginger through my ACFW crit group. Her latest manuscript that our group is currently editing is absolutely amazing! Destined to become a movie, I'm convinced.  I asked Ginger to share how God has led her writing journey. Here is what she said:



Living the Dream



Long before I began writing novel-length fiction, I wrote my thoughts in a journal – sometimes on paper, sometimes on the computer. I would pour out my soul in writing – a prayer to God, most times, but sometimes it was just random happenings.

Everything went into the journal – pain, joy, frustrations, prayer requests, and anything and everything in between. It helped me stay sane surrounded by many young children. My oldest was thirteen when my seventh was born. Yes, I had seven children in thirteen years. No, none of them are multiples.

Many days I was at my wits end trying to keep everyone happy and schooled, but at naptime/reading time, I could sit in my room, or at the computer, and write out everything that was happening. It helped relieve stress. It also brought me closer to God. I could feel his comfort as I shed tears over some of those pages.

Over the years, the yearning to write intensified. I would sit with pen in hand over a blank journal page or stare at an empty word document and wonder what it was I should write. Nothing came to mind, so I kept journaling.

Many times, over a period of two or three years starting around 2007, I sat staring at a blank page/screen. The desire to write bubbled up inside me, but I didn’t have a story to tell.

One day I woke with the most amazing dream stuck in my head. I went about the day’s business – breakfast, quiet time, school, etc. When afternoon quiet time rolled around, I found I had to write the dream down. That dream turned into my first novel.

I didn’t know ANYTHING about writing a novel, had never really considered doing such a thing. I wrote it and even had the nerve to send it to agents, who subsequently rejected it. It hurt, but I vowed to myself each time a rejection letter arrived that I would LEARN how to write, and I would write a novel that would glorify God. So I joined the American Christian Fiction Writers group, and I read and listened. I went to their annual conference, and I listened. I soaked it in day after day.

Meanwhile I was writing my second novel, One Choice. I applied everything I had learned up to that point. I took it to conference and pitched it. It was then that I learned large, traditional publishers did not like for the hero or heroine to be non-American. I sighed.

I loved the story, but I put it aside and began another novel – a Scottish historical romance. I pitched it and sent it to editors and agents. One editor was VERY kind in her rejection and gave me some great pointers. But it was still a rejection.

While that one had been out there in the hands of editors and agents, I began another novel - a second Scottish historical romance. I’m still in edits on this one, but it has been requested, and I am planning to send it in a few weeks.

Sometime last year, I went back to One Choice. I still loved the story, so I decided that starting smaller was not a bad thing. I had heard good things from friends about Astraea Press. I submitted my story and held my breath (figuratively, of course). Then it came – not a rejection, but an acceptance.

I was finally going to become a published writer. And it all started with a desire to write, and a dream.

In One Choice, my heroine, Cahri, also journals her thoughts. It became her substitute for prayer when she felt God had betrayed her trust. However, I would say that she was still praying, albeit in a different way and not consciously.


I still like to journal, though now that my kids are much older, I don’t do it as often as I used to. My prayers have changed as my children have grown. Today many of my prayers revolve around their safety and their future. I also pray that One Choice and any future book I write will bring glory to my Heavenly Father.


Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer — in that order (mostly). When not homeschooling her youngest five, doing laundry or fixing dinner, she writes or reads romance of any genre, some sci-fi/fantasy, and some suspense. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and writes regularly for three blogs. In addition to all that, she loves animals, horses especially, likes to do needlework (knitting, crocheting, and sometimes cross-stitch), and loves to sing in the choir at church.

Please visit her links:


One Choice, Ginger's new release

Cahri Michaels is American by birth, but Belikarian by choice. Being selected to participate in the Bridal March forces her to give up the independent life she’s created for herself. She’s not ready to be anyone’s wife, much less to a man she doesn’t know.

Prince Josiah Vallis despises the centuries old tradition—the Bridal March—that is forcing him to choose a wife from fifty women. Why does it matter that he’s twenty-five and still single?


When Cahri and Josiah meet, sparks fly. Will it ignite a godly love that can see them through or will they be burned, never to be the same?


Choose a link for more information about One Choice:


To enter the contest for a PDF copy of 
Ginger's book: "One Choice":
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this site, if you aren't already.


Open to US and International! 

Winner announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Ginger, for Joining us This Weekend!
.

Journaling has been used by many men and women for many different reasons. It is a way to record our thoughts. Sometimes those journals, like Diary of Anne Frank, became a historical treasure for future generations.

Do you journal? Why type of things do you journal?