Tuesday, March 31, 2015

April Fools' - All in Fun


Mary Vee and friend Pepper Basham
Ready for some fun?

Tomorrow is April Fools' Day. This is not a national holiday but is celebrated in Canada, Australia, Brazil, and the United States.

My dad loved April Fools' Day. Actually, he pretty much let any day be a joking day. He had so many creative ideas. Each night at supper time, he'd tell us stories from work. Usually all centered around jokes he had spearheaded. The other stories? Well, the ones someone successfully pulled off on my dad, of course!

My dad didn't like birthday cakes. Usually we ordered pizza for his birthday cake. He loved it. One year, Mom brought out a traditional cake with tons of lit candles dotting the top. We sang happy birthday and he made a sour face. "Now, Bill," Mom said. "Let the kids celebrate your birthday."
Mary Vee's photo

He reeled in his disappointment and blew out the candles. Mom handed him the cake cutting knife and grabbed plates. He pressed the tip into the center of the yummy looking cake. The knife didn't sink at all. He took both hands and pushed harder. Dad worked up a sweat and never plunged the knife into the cake more than an inch. He pulled the knife out of the cake and with it--toilet paper. 

Yes, Mom made Dad a toilet paper birthday cake. It was his favorite birthday cake ever!!

Dad taught us to always be honored when someone pulled a joke on us. "It means they thought of you and knew you could take it."

Of course there is a difference between a joke and destruction. 

My hubby is a practical jokester, too. One day, friends of his broke into our van and filled it with wet leaves. Needless to say I was not a happy camper. The van stank for months after we cleaned it out. I knew they didn't mean to cause a stench, but it was a joke I didn't appreciate.

I did find a lot of humor in the candy my students shared with me. I had never eaten a Warhead. They had. They crowded around me as I popped the treat in my mouth. I could tell something would happen and hoped I could surprise the kids by not letting it effect me. Not so. The sour punch whacked my tastebuds like a nuclear bomb. The kids laughed for a good five minutes!


Have fun on April Fools' Day. Be safe.

And if someone pulls a joke on you...remember, they thought of you and knew you could take it. Laugh. 

I am convinced God has a sense of humor. We know he laughs, sings, and joys over us. Good grief, we must bring him plenty of material to laugh at, right?


This post has been brought to you by the one-word JokesRFun


Friday, March 27, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature- Hannah Conway-He Dared Me to Ask




Today we welcome author: 
Hannah Conway

To win a copy
of Hannah's release:
The Wounded Warrior's Wife


Scroll to the end of the post 
to see how to get your copy.



Mary Vee here. Hanna and I wrote back and forth a few times before we settled on this visit. In this time I saw what a devoted person she is to God's calling.   

I asked Hannah to join us and share how God has led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said:



He Dared Me to Ask


The Young Author award. Anyone remember those from elementary school? I’m not sure what stories I wrote during my formative years, but they put three young-author-genie lamp-trophies on my shelf, and for an eight year old, it didn’t get much better than that.

Since I can remember, I’ve written stories, and imagined countless more. It’s something I love. I see stories everywhere bubbling up from history books, a biography, random artifacts at an antique store, or a conversation with a cashier. Some have never made it to paper, but play in my mind like a movie, perhaps waiting to debut in print. My own life can be a story. Confession:  I mentally narrate real-life events as they happen.

“Hannah reached for the pantry handle. Her stomach grumbled. Grr. Snack-time, but the children played close by. She sighed, shoulders sinking. If only a way existed for her to eat that sugary sweet without being spotted—caught in the clutches of little toddler fingers begging for a bite.”


That is funny, Hannah!

Ha. Yes, I, for real, narrate things in my head. Odd? I admit it’s strange, but true. 

God put this love of writing, and stories inside me. They have to come out, because to keep them in would be to tell Him no, and telling God, no, never pans out well. Anyone else have to learn the hard way?

I never intended to become an author. I mean, that would be awesome, but who can make a living at it? Why pray for a career so improbable anyway? Besides, I’m no Karen Kingsbury. Teaching was a safe bet. Telling stories to my two children, friends, and students in the classroom suited me fine, but I still had a desire—a dream.

Stories kept coming. Life got real. Ever experienced an event that rocked your world? Yeah, me too. My husband, an infantry soldier at the time, struggled with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Our marriage and faith was tested and stretched beyond anything I ever imagined. The need to write, pursue a dream to be an author cried louder during this time of personal turmoil.

“Not now, God.” I’d soak in the bath tub and talk to Him. “Life’s a mess.”

God won, and I wrote. What a therapeutic experience. Out of much effort, groaning, and coffee, a story came forth. I wasn’t sure what to do with it. 

God said, “Ask me.”

"To be an author? For publication? What are the odds of that ever happening?” My stomach turned. Flipped. He dared me to ask. “What if I get rejection letters? What if no one reads it, or what if they read it and then hate it?” Oh the horror!

He asked me to ask for the impossible. Isn’t that what He wants us to do –ask for the things that only He can do?

Oh, the rejection letters came. Some nicer than others. All said, “Great story. Learn to write.” Nice. Thanks. So, I took their advice. I read books in my genre, other genres, countless books on writing fiction, joined ACFW, a critique group, and doors began to open. 

During this time of learning to write, God gave me (and my husband, when available), a speaking ministry on Marriage, Military, and PTSD. We’d been speaking for about a year, when in the spring of 2014, through a chance meeting online, I bumped into Hallee Bridgeman of Olivia Kimbrell Press. After spending time with Hallee, and sharing my story, I was asked to submit my novel to their press. 

Not long after, I signed with Olivia Kimbrell Press, and in September of 2014, The Wounded Warrior’s Wife, a novel, came to life. It attended every single speaking event with me, and has since resulted in numerous message from readers across the nation relating to the marital struggle of the lead characters, Whitleigh and Collier Cromwell. Wedding a Warrior, the novella prequel and free eBook, released in January of this year. 

Wow. Talk about God’s timing.

When God opens a door, sometimes we fly through it. And I’m flying on this new, fast-paced, nothing short of an answered prayer and exciting journey—still a young author. I’m learning as I go, but one lesson I pray sticks, is to continue to ask God for the impossible. I encourage you to do the same.

Ask Him. I dare you.


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Hannah Conway, a Kentucky native, Army Wife, Stay at Home Mother of two, Author and Speaker, lives in Clarksville, TN near Fort Campbell, KY with her family. Hannah holds a BA in History from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and is an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers.




Contact Hannah through
Twitter                 

She loves to hear from her readers!

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Click Here to Buy or see
the "Wounded Warrior's Wife
"

The Wounded Warrior’s Wife

Battles Raging Within Are The Ones You Must Fight To Win


Army wife, Whitleigh Cromwell, struggles after an unexpected deployment during the height of the Iraqi war sends her husband, Collier Cromwell, away for another year. Their lives tumble down a path marked with strife, and fatalities, crippling their faith when Collier brings home a war of another kind leaving Whitleigh wondering if some wounds are beyond God’s ability to restore.

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You can Download a free copy of Wedding a Warrior

Whitleigh Haynes wrestles with the boundaries of her limited faith after an unexpected marriage proposal leaves her wondering what to say to longtime boyfriend, Collier Cromwell, now Army soldier, who’s asking her to leave everything she’s ever known, loved, and planned.


Download a Free eBook of Wedding a Warrior or Purchase a Paperback Here: http://amzn.to/1EErpIQ






To enter the contest for a copy of 
Hannah's  new release: 
"The Wounded Warrior's Wife"
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this blog, 
OR sign up to receive posts by email
if you aren't already.


The winner will be announced on my facebook page.


Thank you, Hannah, for Joining us This Weekend!


We love chatting with you, reader, and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, hey, or ...

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Did You Know God Wants People to Thank You?


Photo Courtesy



I approached a person and thanked them for their work. The person, who did not know me, immediately became defensive. He said, "I would rather the people didn't clap or say Amen. The praise is all to go to God."

Well, he had a point. And what he said was true. 

The problem is, I wasn't praising him. I was thanking him.






So when is it okay to say or receive a thank you?

1. Sometimes thank you means: I appreciate you. I am glad you are here. The person hasn't really done anything other than be present, listened, maybe enjoyed an evening together, etc. This form of thank you is a form of kindness and encouragement to the individual and spurs them to repeat the act, which God would want us to do. 

2. Sometimes thank you means: I accept what you are giving whether it is a gift, time, labor, etc. This is said before the receiver actually knows what all is involved. Like: a wrapped gift, kids appearing at the door with yard tools in hand, a child offering a song or act, a husband driving to a yet to be named restaurant in celebration, a friend offering to pray for a need. God would want us to encourage the person's willingness to offer what they had.

3. Sometimes thank you means: I love/like/appreciate you. We should say thank you to our children for good things they do, thank you to spouses for helping and acts of kindness, thank you to business persons for jobs well done, etc. Actually, I would even think God would want us to thank ourselves for listening and obeying God. We need to encourage ourselves to keep going.

There is a huge gap between pride and accepting thanks. 

Pride is wrong. Pride is stealing honor and glory from God. 

Accepting thanks is like letting your kids/family/friends/co-workers celebrate a landmark birthday that you are really sad has arrived. When you accept the thanks you are:

1. encouraging those involved to do kind deeds for others
2. you are honoring their efforts
3. you are actually honoring God because He put the idea in the minds of those who thought to do the deed.

Go ahead and say thank you to them.
Let others say thank you to you.

God is showing His love for you through the Thank You words and actions of others.

So, don't discount the good actions of others when they come to you and thank you. When you do, you're teaching them not to thank others and do kind deeds for others. 

It's okay to say...you're welcome. And if you want, tag on...I'm thankful God has given me you.

I AM thankful God has given me you.


Have a sunny day filled with blessings from God, sometimes delivered by the people around you.

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


Friday, March 20, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Varina Denman. God Leads Me Whether I'm Following or Not



Today we welcome author: 
Varina Denman

To win a copy
of Varina's release:
Jaded


Scroll to the end of the post 
to see how to get your copy.
International Readers May Participate!

Mary Vee here. Doesn't Varina have an absolutely lovely name? I wonder if it has a special meaning, don't you? Varina said her name is Russian and her mother picked it because she liked it. So do I. I stopped by the Writer's Alley, where I am a contributing writer, to read the monthly announcements. That is when I met Varina and was quite intrigued with her release, Jaded   

I asked Varina to join us and share how God has led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said:



God Manages to Lead Me Whether I'm Following Him Or Not


I’m not one of those people who knew she wanted to be a writer at a young age. In fact, when I was in school, writing was nothing more than an assignment, and frankly, I had better things to do. I never dreamed I would write a book, but little did I know God was preparing me.

While I focused on college then marriage then children, God introduced me to lots of people, and I heard their stories of pain and growth. He exposed me to a few ugly things in the world, and He shined His light on many beautiful things. He shoved me into difficult life problems and helped me live through them. He gave. And he took away. And through it all, I learned to lean on Him.

When I finally slowed down and considered writing, I mistakenly thought it was my idea. I decided to write a Christian romance that would be a light, humorous, care-free read. The kind of book I enjoyed reading to get away from the stresses of life. But God had other plans.

Often as I sat in worship, He would give me character motivations, and I would scribble them on the back of the worship handout before I forgot them. He would place issues on my heart and gently nudge me to include them in the manuscript. As I went about my daily routine, my path would randomly cross with people who, in some way, added depth to the plot. God was pretty sneaky.

As I worked on my story, the plot became deeper, the characters developed problems, and I soon realized I wasn’t writing the light romance I had planned. Even though I enjoyed reading romantic comedy, it definitely wasn’t my calling. As it turned out, I was more of a Romantic Women’s Fiction kind of writer, and God taught me to listen to His voice and not ignore His gentle nudges.

I’ve noticed I have the same tendency in many areas of my life. The tendency to do things on my own, to jump into things without consulting God first, to take credit for ideas He places on my heart. Thank goodness He’s patient with me. Not only in writing, but in life, God continues to teach me to lean on him, to accept his counsel, to trust Him.

He’s pretty cool that way.

Mary, thank you for inviting me to your beautiful blog. It’s so good to be here!
You're welcome Varina. :)

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Fun holiday Shopping with the Denman family
Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. She has five children, teaches creative writing and literature, volunteers in her local homeschool cooperative, and boasts sixteen years as a home educator. She resides with her family in North Texas. Her first novel, Jaded, won the 2013 ACFW Genesis Award.


Contact Varina through

She loves to hear from her readers!

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As a child, Ruthie Turner was shunned by the local congregation. Now, thirteen years later, Ruthie’s heart begins to stir when an attractive single preacher arrives. But their relationship is bitterly opposed, and a string of secrets are unearthed that threaten to turn the church, the town, and her world upside down.

Jaded is the rare novel that is a love story between both a woman and a man ... and God and His church. Plunging deep into the waters of shame, forgiveness, and restoration, this book will resonate with every woman who’s experienced a loss of heart ... and a thirst for hope.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Click HERE to buy 
or see Justified

Justified, available June 1 
In a small Texas town ruled by gossip, Fawn Blaylock believes others are justified in condemning her untimely pregnancy. Stifled by guilt, she yearns for grace while the local football coach treats her with gentle respect.


Justified perfectly captures the rhythm and romance of life in a small town, telling the unforgettable story of a woman searching for renewal, a man looking beyond what others see, and a community torn between judgment and love. It is the unforgettable story of broken dreams second chances, and relentless hope.









To enter the contest for a copy of 
Varina's  new release: 
"Jaded"
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this blog, 
OR sign up to receive posts by email
if you aren't already.

International Readers Welcomed to Participate for eBook if chosen,
US may choose paperback

The winner will be announced on my facebook page.


Thank you, Varina, for Joining us This Weekend!


We love chatting with you, reader, and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, hey, or ...

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

How Can A Book Connect an Incarcerated Parent With Their Child?

Happy Saint Patricks Day to you!

Did you know that Saint Patrick was kidnapped and made a slave at age sixteen? While he was a slave, He had an opportunity to learn about God. He later returned to his homeland and told the people about God. I didn't know this until I researched his background for today's post. 

How timely, because I had planned to share with you a related topic.

Photo Courtesy



Recently I read about a program designed to help incarcerated moms and dads connect with their children. Granted the men and women committed some crime to put them in their situation, but their children still have needs. This program gives these parents an opportunity to participate in their children's lives. To have a purpose for their own life. To do something good for others.






In an article written for the American Libraries Magazine,  http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2014/12/08/reading-on-the-inside/ A Minnesota librarian, Marcou designed a program called: Read to Me. Incarcerated parents interested in participation in the program were taught how to read a children's book out loud. When ready, the men and women were helped to make an audio recording of their voice reading the book. The recording and the book were then taken to their child/ren.

The Read to Me program won the Marshall Cavendish Excellence in Library Programming award in 2004. I can see why. What an amazing opportunity for parents and children who wouldn't normally have a chance to connect.

"The number of kids with incarcerated parents has increased nearly 80% in the last 20 years, according to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. More than 2.7 million children have a parent who is incarcerated, and parents of another 10 million children have been incarcerated at some point. The experience can be profoundly difficult for children, increasing their risk of living in poverty and housing instability, as well as causing emotional trauma, pain, and social stigma. But librarian Sarah Ball, who runs the Daddy and Me program for the New York Public Library and the city’s corrections system, says she sees some of that stress melt away when kids are able to come to visit their parent and read their special book together."

As you can see, different locations have different names for the same program idea.

This article (see the link above) also gives tips how to start a program like this in your area. Maybe all that is needed is a voice, like yours, to spark the idea in the mind of someone who could start the program.

This is a program in Iowa:








If you'd like to participate by donating books to an already established project here is a FB link for the Picture Book Pass it On Project: https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO









These parents won't see their children's faces when the audio is played, but their the boys and girls will be able to know their parents want to still be a part of their lives. 

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


Friday, March 13, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Lacy Williams



Today we welcome author: 
Lacy Williams

To win a copy
of Lacy's new release:
Secondhand Cowboy


Scroll to the end of the post 
to see how to get your copy.

Great news! International may participated AND more than one copy will be given away!


Mary Vee here. It didn't take long for me to see Lacy has a sparky personality. She's energetic and so excited to be with people. I asked her to come visit us here on Let's Talk. I think a whole nano second passed before she responded. She is definitely a fun person to get to know. We're going to have a great time this weekend.

I asked Lacy, to join us and share how God has led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said:



Open Doors


Mary asked me to share about God’s leading in my writing career. I’ll tell you I can see His hand mostly through the open doors He has provided.

In my childhood, my parents bought me a typewriter one Christmas (I was about ten). Their belief and support of me as a writer built my faith that I was a writer. About this time, I submitted a short poem to an anthology and had it published. There was no payment for publication, but I still have a copy of the hardback anthology. Back then, I thought I had arrived! This early recognition was definitely God nurturing the tiny seed of my desire to be a novelist “someday.”

I joined American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) in December of 2006 and God really started throwing open doors my way.

First, I was personally invited to visit the Tulsa chapter, Writers of Inspirational Novels. Those women were so encouraging, and I met my first writing mentor, Margaret Daley. Margaret has encouraged me many times along my publishing journey and I’m so thankful that God put her in my life.

Another door opened when I was part of founding the Oklahoma City chapter of ACFW in 2008 with a group of local writers. Through this chapter, I found support, encouragement, and people to share the journey with, including the two editors I now work with at Redbud Press.

A huge door opened for me in 2009 when I finaled and won in ACFW’s Genesis contest for unpublished writers. Through this contest, my (then) future editor at Harlequin requested the full manuscript, and she bought that book (Marrying Miss Marshal). That first publishing contract turned into ten books and one novella with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical line.

And in 2012, I attended the ACFW national conference and heard Michael Hyatt speak. His keynote addresses really opened a door for me and my indie publishing career. Basically, he freed me with the realization that it was okay to take another path than the one I was one.

In late 2013, God opened doors for me to form Inspy Kisses with several published inspirational romance authors. Through this endeavor, we published three inspirational romance anthologies during 2014, and one of those anthologies hit the USA Today bestseller list. Talk about a wide-open door.

Also in 2014, God started opening doors for a new publishing company, Redbud Press. Formed with two other authors, we are publishing thirteen inspirational romance books during 2015. God has opened many doors here, including bringing awesome authors to us, as well as providing industry connections we never could have expected.

For me, one of the most important things I’ve had to learn is sorting through opportunities to find the true door that God wants to lead me to. In a world full of noise, I have to slow down, pray a lot, and even get advice from my trusted mentors (and husband!) before making a decision.

Thanks for hosting me, Mary. It’s been a pleasure to think back about these times that God has blessed my writing career.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Isn't this one of the most awesome selfies??
Love it. What a fun family, Lacy.

USA Today bestselling author Lacy Williams works in a hostile environment (read: three kids age 5 and under). In spite of this, she has somehow managed to be a hybrid author since 2011, publishing 17 books & novellas. She is also the Managing Editor for Redbud Press, an inspirational romance publisher. Lacy has a passion for helping authors get their stories out to readers and is almost always glued to her computer working on story structure edits, SEO, graphic design, cover art, and spreadsheets. Lots and lots of spreadsheets.

Contact Lacy through:
Twitter:          @lacy_williams



She loves to hear from her readers!

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Iris Tatum hasn’t seen her high school sweetheart Callum Stewart since he left years ago without a single word. Then she witnesses a horrific hit-and-run accident, and comes face to face with her past–and Cal’s triplets. A volunteer paramedic, Iris can’t walk away. No matter how much she wants to.

Bull rider Callum Stewart was run out of town at age twenty and vowed never to return. Only one thing could bring him back: building a future for his sons. Now, thanks to the accident that left him with a broken leg—he needs help to care for his boys. He has no choice but to accept Iris’s grudging help.

As they rediscover a friendship–and the sparks that never faded between them–Callum’s secrets are brought back with a vengeance. How can they keep the past from destroying their future?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



To enter the contest for a copy of 
Lacy's  new release: 
"Secondhand Cowboy"
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this blog, 
OR sign up to receive posts by email
if you aren't already.

INTERNATIONAL READERS INVITED TO ENTER!!
2 ebooks and 2 paper books all be awarded

The winners will be announced on my facebook page.


Thank you, Lacy, for Joining us This Weekend!


We love chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, hey, or ...

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!