The lovely Rae Eckman, manager of the blog A New Look On Books invited me to share a guest post the other day. I wanted to make sure you saw it! I randomly do guest posts but this one in particular came straight from my passionate little heart. Here's a little introduction, and a link to the blog. I hope you'll read it, especially if you're feeling down, frustrated, or stuck.
Happy reading, friends!
Fiction shows us how to handle our non-fiction. We enjoy these characters’ stories, see their pain, feel their journey, and tremble as their spirits quake. We get invited into their space and see the world with its conflicts, heartache, and power. Fiction’s miraculous. Fiction offers a gift of escape, of courage, of grit, of shuddering through temptation with the hero. Are you facing some serious shadows? Are you hearing the grinding of bones in the distance? Just like the heroes in our favorite stories, every person meets a point of deciding who to be and what to do.
Where are the heroes? A friend of mine recently said she wondered where the heroes were. The current trend for stories is that they often feature a strong heroine—and while I am all about a strong heroine, and inspiring girls to believe in themselves—I also believe we need to encourage everyone to protect, to serve, to lead humbly, to explore, to create, and to forget stereotypes. The time has arrived for all of us to rise up as heroes to wrestle the shadows.
Read the rest here, with a fabulous acronym to remind you how to get the job done: https://anewlookonbooks.com/2018/06/18/guest-post-kadee-carder-talks-fiction/
Feel free to share it if it lifted your spirits. Now go be a hero! <3
Did you know that sprints are the number one exercise to fight belly fat? About two years ago I began sprinting. I began with a ten-minute timer and have worked my way up to twenty minutes. I set the timer for twenty minutes and run as fast as I can from thirty seconds down to zero, walk for thirty seconds, and hit it again on the following thirty. Most of the days I've shot across the pavement with my jogging stroller, baby in tow, throughout sun, slushy puddles, and wintry clouds overhead. Last weekend was a first -- I went out on my own, the four-year old preferring to stay inside and watch cartoons. So my soles rammed against the concrete, amid potholes, leaves, and burning sun. While salty drips dribbled down my temples, my brain got to whirling.
Why do we commit? Why do we give up? How do we keep going? What do we do when we want to cave, want to decline, want to bow out? Do you call in sick, or do you buck up and slam the toes against the cold ground?
Here are my thoughts from my run last weekend. Hope the encourage you and inspire you to persevere, even when the winter clouds tumble down.
5 Tips for Committing (Life Lessons I Learned From Sprinting)
ONE: Do it for you and no one else. Make it your business to fully follow through your commitments.
You agreed to do the thing. Own your choice and dive into enjoying the work, offering your best capabilities, and hanging in until you no longer need to do the work. You control your action and attitude. Build your own excitement and fulfillment in the work. If you look at a job or task and tell yourself you are doing it because someone asked it of you, or you are “out” of something if you don’t do it, then that takes you out of your business and out of your power. Take hold of your capability to do the work you chose to do. You could be doing something else; you will eventually be doing something else. While you do this job, do it because you know you can do it and better the lives of others in the process. Look at your task as an act of service, for others and yourself.
Find something to be grateful for in the work and look for the opportunity to learn and engage your inner warrior. Consider this a time to build your tool box.
TWO: Employ grace for your season.
When I first began running, I pushed my forty-pound daughter in the jogging stroller. I’ve grown accustomed to shoving the burden ahead of me, with a slot for my water bottle and my phone to blast the tunes. But you know what? You can run so much faster without a stroller.
What baggage do you have? What season are you in? Have grace with yourself for whatever season you’re in. Do your best right now and keep working toward the coming season while celebrating the current one. Avoid comparing your story to someone else’s. One day you may be sprinting clear and free, no stroller, no handbag, no accompanying soundtrack. That may be relieving or intimidating. Regardless, employ grace for your season.
Whatever season you are in, whatever baggage you are dealing with in your commitments, allow some wiggle room. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. As Jess Glynne sings, don’t be so hard on yourself. Run your race. Dig in to your sprints. And allow time and space for the extra weight you’re pushing along the track. If you insist on running full force and physically cannot do it, then don’t commit to doing more than you can handle. Be honest to the people with whom you’ve committed and allow space for the stroller. In the long run (especially the long run!) everyone will thank you for the honesty and grace you employed. That’s wisdom.
THREE: Set time limits.
Committing to something for an endless amount of time overwhelms most people. Deep in the trenches of life and stress and sinks full of dishes, even the heartiest soul considers giving up. So prepare to invest in your activities by committing for a certain time. Maybe it is a twenty-minute workout, three times a week, for six months. Can you do that? Maybe it’s to do something for thirty days. Can you do that? Maybe it’s to say, “I will do this every Monday for one year.” Can you do that? Specify your time limits and purpose your expectations.
Now, let’s level up. Extend the time. Extend what you think you can do. Add five seconds. Add a day. Add a couple inches. Many runners slow down at the end of the race. Expect the race to last longer. Place your mental finish line farther than you think you can go.
In my research into training and military exercises, I came across some videos instructing how to punch. Set your feet, own your placement on the mat, and punch through the punching bag. The strongest punch doesn’t aim for the front of the bag; the strongest punch aims for the back of the bag. Use this same strategy for your commitments. If you know that you can commit for six months, allow for seven, mentally. If you need to run a race, train by running farther. Don’t just end where everybody else is ending. Punch through to the other side of the punching bag.
Set yourself up to win by setting your expectations and accountability limits. Own your limits, and then blast through them. Intentionally focus on specific boundaries, and then go one step further. The only limits you have are the one you set for yourself. Detail them and raise the bar for yourself, for you are stronger than you know.
FOUR: The smoother the ground underfoot, the easier it is to stay upright.
How much do you believe in yourself? Do you have a solid foundation, confidence in your competence to do the task?
My neighborhood is apparently packed with crumbly streets, leaves, potholes, and rocks. And I’ve trekked over them for years. One street recently got the nice treatment and it’s smooth, black, and freshly tarred. The difference between running over the potholes and on this one fresh slab of smoothness suddenly illuminated a truth: you can run faster when the road’s clear, when there are no rocks in your shoes or on your path. While you can’t take the obstacles out of your path, you can believe in your abilities, your path, and your journey. What kind of foundation are you treading upon? Doubt in yourself serves as a pothole. Doubt in your capabilities, letting the fear creep in? That’s like running with a spike in your shoe.
Avoid comparing your road to anyone else’s. Your journey has a twisty, windy path with obstacles built just for you. The obstacles will help you get faster and stronger – are you moving ahead, one step at a time?
Get the rocks out of the way. Take the grime out of your shoes. The road will have obstacles and twists and hills, but you’ve got to trust your feet and find your own smooth track.
FIVE: Decide what story to tell.
What’s the story? When the plot has a great story, readers stick around to the end. This step consists of basically finding your “why” but maybe you haven’t personalized it enough or been intentional with it. What’s depending on this seven years from now? Twenty-seven years from now? What brought you here from seven years ago?
How do you know when to end a commitment you’ve made? Think about the ending of the story. Many times I’ve thought about giving up on my sprints before the time expires, shutting down my writing career, or just not going to the gym because I’m not “feeling it” that day. But then I think about the story I want to tell about it. How do I want the story to end, and what will make a satisfying ending for this task I’ve committed to doing? When I’m happy with the ending, that’s when the task has been completed. Not all stories have happy endings, but I’m determined to serve the character I will be in seven years. She needs me to follow through right now. I’m not sure why; but in seven years I’ll get back to you and we can chat about it. What story will you be telling in seven years about your commitments? And how will that story end?
Take a step back and consider the lives at stake, the risks involved, and what kind of story you want to tell about following through with the commitments. Maybe you just need a change in perspective to see how important this ability to persevere and commit will forge you into the hero you are. Go, hero, go!
Sprinting along the streets in my neighborhood, wobbling along with my jogging stroller, gasping in the sizzling Texas air, has offered me a wealth of knowledge. I’ve released some stress, some sweat, and gained some inspiration. Now it’s time to level up.
Run as fast as your dirty silver sneakers will carry you.
The timer’s running.
How will you commit to your promises? What story will you design? Are you running for yourself or in the name of something greater? Are you excited about the pavement? The gritty pathway awaits. I’m right here too.
Do you remember the moment you met someone who changed your life? The first time I was invited to go hear Krista Johnson speak about nutrition and health, I didn’t want to go. All of my friends were talking about her fat loss program, how they were suddenly losing all this weight, and how I *just had to* hear her story. At the time, I was a new mom, had just recently lost my job, and possessed little motivation for trying new things.
But I sure am glad that my friends didn’t give up. There in that white-walled church meeting room, as Krista introduced her story of releasing one hundred pounds from her body, going from being a tired mother of four, into a business owner who taught Tae Bo classes and had trained in person with Billy Blanks, I could almost feel the sands shifting under my feet. A fresh, soft breeze began to blow within my spirit. It started out with a plate. Now I’ve changed from that weary new mom who lived on coffee and bagels and struggled to get out of bed without crying, to someone who races to the gym every day to see if I can beat yesterday’s weight bracket. Now I understand that every day I get this great gift, this new opportunity, to speak life into others, and I think my friends understood that. I’m so glad they insisted I go to that meeting seven years ago.
If you’ve never met someone who helped you understand freedom, let me introduce you to my friend Krista.
1. Tell us a little bit about your background and how you came to own and operate Fit By Faith. When did you establish it?
When I was in the middle of my weight loss journey, down 20 pounds from 242 pounds, I was going for a run. Well, if you want to call it a run. I was tip toeing up a hill, crying in pain, feeling humiliation trying to get my body to move. I made a choice to keep pushing on and I literally heard in my head, FIT BY FAITH. I prayed and God showed me a vision for Fit By Faith and I laughed. How could someone as out of shape as me ever be able to help others get fit? As I began to lose and become fitter, God gave me guidance and equipped me mind, body, and spirit, to start preparing Fit By Faith. About two years later, I taught my first Tae Bo class out of another gym. One month later we opened up Fit By Faith, on September 30, 2006.
2. What does your typical day look like now?
Each day is a bit different. It involves keeping my household running, being available for my family and my famous dogs :) It is a mix of personal training, teaching fitness classes, running nutrition groups online, organizing all the other services we offer that are taught by my Husband, running two Network Marketing businesses and volunteering at my church running the media and working on the protection detail team. It sounds like a lot, but God truly equips me to handle it all. When I become overwhelmed and feel like it is too much, I stop trying to do it myself and get back on track letting God lead me!
3. What kept you going through your fitness/wellness journey when you felt like you were at a plateau? What did you do?
I like how you call it a journey, because it is. I am still on it and will be on it forever. There were times I had no changes, but I think the reason people quit when results stop or give up is because their motivation was a weak one. If it is to be a certain weight by a certain date, to look good in a swim suit, etc, then those are weak motivations that will not last a lifetime. For me it was realizing I had the responsibility to break this cycle and keep it from trickling down into my children. It was realizing I did not want to be this overweight, sick burden to my family. I want to be an example and a blessing to my children and family. So whether I am having results or not, they see me walking in faith, making good choices, being joyful in all situations and then they learn to do the same.
4. Do you have a favorite quote or Bible verse which encourages you?
Yes. There are about 354 to be exact! Ha! But the one that stays with me through all situations is Acts 1:8. I believe we are equipped to do whatever God leads us to do. I may have had no clue about fitness, but when I allowed him to use me 100%, he has equipped me. If he told me tomorrow he wanted me to be a hair dresser, I may have no idea today about how to be one in that moment, but you can bet I would become the best one in the nation because He would equip me to do it :) You shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be His witness to the ends of the earth. Acts 1:8
5. Do you have a favorite and a least favorite fitness move? What are they?
I have an equal amount of both, but if I had to pick one, I like burpees. It is funny because when I first did one, I thought they were straight from the pit of hell and hated them with all my being. Now I love them. I love that I can do them and do them well. I love to get creative with them too. Least favorite would be pull-ups. Enough said. Ha!
6. What is one change anybody can make today in order to begin a fitness journey? What about a faith journey?
I believe the absolute first change has to be what comes out of your mouth for both your fitness journey and your faith journey. Our words are life and death. What you speak is what you will become. Change your words, change your life. When I finally fixed the inside, the outside was no longer a battle. It just fixed itself. Until you can speak truth to your body, to your mind and spirit, and only work on the outside, it will be like a dog chasing its tail in circles.
7. Do/did you have a particular struggle in regard to changing your lifestyle? What do you do when you find that weakness creeping back in? Do you have a particular strength or preference that keeps you in the fat loss lifestyle?
I did and still do face struggles all the time, but through them I grow and learn. I see struggles as great teachable moments. You have to be a teachable person and be willing to have not so good days and learn from them. I think what has kept me on this journey is just loving myself through the process. Understanding that my best will be different each day and embracing every victory no matter how small. I think love is the answer to everything, honestly. It is the strength that everyone possesses, you just have to do it :) Honestly the power is always in our hands. You just have to flip the switch on!
8. What’s one thing you would tell your teenage self?
When your flesh wants to handle something, stop before you speak or act and remember this: Be in love, walk in faith, be led by the spirit.
9. What do you hope to leave as your legacy?
John and I have four of the absolutely most amazing children. Each one of them truly is if you know anything about them. They are my legacy and as far as I am concerned, that job is already done!
10. What do you offer at Fit By Faith? Do you offer personal training? Do you have a particular program to help me on my wellness journey? How do I find you online?
We offer personal training, fitness classes, nutrition classes, CPR & Lifeguard Certification, Reflexology, Nutritional products and a lot of love. You can find out about all of it at www.fitbyfaith.net .
It doesn't matter if you're burned out, broken down, or just plain tired. You've got this one moment to make a change and act. Can a mom of four lose one hundred pounds and keep it off? Yes. Can an ordinary chica break a board with a swift kick? Yes. Can even the clumsiest of fumblers learn how to deadlift her weight? Oh, my, yes. Can one decision change a life? You know it.
Flip on that switch, readers! Welcome to this beautiful new day of life, creation, and wild adventure. If you struggle with your weight or nutrition choices, need mental clarity, lack motivation, or just want to feel better overall, I encourage you to check out fitbyfaith.net and see all that Krista has to offer. She’ll get you the tools you need and equip you with courage, hope, and love, to not just be fit, but fit by faith.
What's your perseverance level? I want to know how well you consider yourself someone who perseveres and what it would take to get you up a level.
Clickety click HERE to answer this three question quiz. And please share! It's anonymous and I think we can all take a few minutes to inventory our skillset. Hope you'll join in the fun! I'll post tips and tricks so we can all work together on this crucial tool of the hero toolbox.
I accepted the document, two sweaty palms reaching, tentative, unprepared. I scanned the words, reading them aloud. “I've got this deep wrestling within my dark soul. A hunger for the oppressed. An almighty beckoning for the broken and bent, a writhing which cannot be tamed by silence. No; the silence, the hush, the hustle cannot squelch the fire to share light for those trembling in the depths. I cannot stop giving of myself for my mission, for to stop is to suffocate. To quit, impossible. To surrender, unattainable. My wrestling therefore occurs not in the loss, but the gain. Loss no longer exists. All movement, all attempts, fulfill the mission. My mission.
For I have been redeemed, and I defeat the darkness within me by each lent hand and rescued soul whom I reach. I am Alliance. I defend freedom, defy injustice, and deepen creative productivity to enhance mankind’s survival. In living victory, I bear my burden, a warrior for my objective: Be powerful. Be consistent. Never quit. Finish the mission.”
My eyes glanced up from the words to my father, then back down, reading, re-reading. Recoiling. Rerouting. “I guess with this kind of mission statement, there’s no room for fear.”
“There’s no need for fear. It’s not part of the mission.”
“I am Alliance. I like it.”
“I am Alliance.”
That was an excerpt from EARTHSHINE, the fifth and final book recounting the tales of my Alliance buddies. In the past four years I’ve put in a lot of work, not only writing, researching, and editing, but in learning marketing, networking strategies, and social media communications. You know what I’ve learned? I’m one person. Just as I thought before I signed any book contracts with Clean Reads, I knew I wanted a publisher who would help me market my books. You know what else I’ve learned? My publisher doesn’t do any of that, and I’m still one lil’ ol' person with a big dream of encouraging the broken-hearted.
I recently received the royalty statement from last quarter’s books. I sold 44 copies of HERE BE DRAGONS and earned $.08.
Eight. Cents. Eight digital pennies. Woo! Super exciting. I’ve also decided I want my words to be used for good, no matter what. Regardless of what it takes to get these books to readers, I’m doing my best to follow my heart’s calling. My heart’s hunger.
So, I’m planning a party.
I’m putting together a team of people who like to encourage and who need encouragement, and I’m inviting you to the team. #TeamMessyBun. Oh, yes. Regardless of your reading any of my past writing, I’m inviting you onto Team Messy Bun because I saw potential in you. You are someone who cares about others and who invests in them. You are an encourager, a lifter, a beacon of hope to those around you. And I want you on my team.
In the world of publishing, they recommend small press authors use a “street team,” (I cannot stand the term!) to help market your books. I have hesitated doing this, because I don’t want to obligate anyone to my passions. So I do not consider this a “street team.” However, I DO want to celebrate with my friends. The journey of writing these INSURRECTION books has been years in the making, and it’s finally at fruition. I’ve celebrated the past releases somewhat alone, and I’m over it. Five books and almost five years of work deserves a party, yo! I’m no longer looking at stats or rankings or ratings or royalty statements. I’ve learned a lot, both about practical application and about digging in when the ground’s quaking. I’m simply encouraging others to pursue their passions and giving them helpful tools to do so. And I’d love for you to join me.
It’s time to employ OPERATION MESSY BUN.
In fact, I’m so pumped that I’ve begun work on this even before the book’s in the final stages of being ready. Team Messy Bun truly is a passion project of mine, more than a group of people posting about a book release. I want to equip and empower you do to great things. Let’s get to it. From here on out, you here in this group are my Alliance.
So what are the expectations of “being on Team Messy Bun”?
There’s a give and take, and hopefully, you wouldn’t mind passing along a few posts on social media or in real life to help spread the word about the EARTHSHINE release in October. In return for your sharing, I’m all about rewarding and making it totally fun in the process.
My requests for anyone on Team Messy Bun would be:
1) Join the Facebook group – it’s closed and ONLY to be used for posting encouraging thoughts to help you achieve your goals and providing you with tools to spur you on to doing the amazing things you’re passionate about. It will be our main communication tool. [Check it out: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1863146427281089/ ]
2) During Release Week (sometime in October. Waiting on release dates.) you would do a total of five challenges on social media or in real life. All would pertain to EARTHSHINE’s release, as well as bringing light and life to the world. These challenges will be something like sharing a Kadee Carder Ink post or two, taking a picture of yourself reading the free copy I provide to you, posting a review, and other fun things like that. With each of these “challenges” you will be put in a drawing to win free things like gift certificates, coffee, movies, gift paraphernalia, and a grand prize drawing at the end of the week.
3) Basically, join the party and play along. And win stuff. Be my party guest. Let’s celebrate doing hard things.
What do you get in return for being on Team Messy Bun?
Throughout the summer and until October, you will receive:
1) A free ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of EARTHSHINE in PDF form.
2) A free ALLIANCE MILITARY GUARD TRAINING GUIDE – containing 10 free metabolic workouts from Fit By Faith. All workouts can be done in about 20 minutes, at home or in the gym.
3) A free FUEL YOUR LIFE cookbook containing 12 recipes pertaining to the INSURRECTION series. Most will be paleo, keto, or fat-loss friendly to get those boots on the ground and pumping.
4) A free digital copy of THE LEGACY PYRAMID, a brief non-fiction guide to building your purpose and creating your unique legacy.
5) A free digital copy of IGNITE, a 60-page guide to dealing with challenges and encouragement for the weary. Find your sparkle. Keep walking.
6) Each day that you participate in the EARTHSHINE release week party, you’ll be entered into a daily drawing for gift certificates to coffee, movies, online retailers, and more. There will be a grand prize drawing at the end of the party that will include merchandise and most likely a PHYSICAL COPY of EARTHSHINE. Probably a Team Messy Bun t-shirt!
7) Encouragement here in the Facebook group to build your purpose, live courageously, and to build your own Alliance. Hoo-rah!
If you aren’t interested in posting about a book release, I totally get that. If you aren’t interested in joining ANOTHER GROUP on Facebook, I totally get that, too. If you aren’t interested in posting about a book release, I totally get that. Zero spam. Zero pressure. Zero obligation. I will not be posting any "buy my awesome book" posts. This group will be 100% enthusiasm and support. 100% dream-weaving. 100% applicable tools. Yes, that’s 300%. Go big or go home. We roll hard. Especially if there’s coffee involved.
Oh, yeah, here’s the blurb for EARTHSHINE, in case you’re interested, before making up your mind:
Saylor spent two years recovering after she single-handedly saved the world from a devastating solar flare...and it killed her. Now her father's Alliance Military Guard must track down pirated tech, missing ships, and a rogue member of the board. And Alliance needs her help.
Tucker spent a year training the rookie recruits with Alliance. They call themselves Dragons. He calls them hot-headed. Dispatched across the ocean on a mission to go unearth Alliance's bootlegged tech, he rallies Saylor to overcome her fears and return to the field by his side.
Determined to change their destinies, the two wrangle missing ghosts, brunt force betrayal, and the swagger of power--utilizing awesome tech, of course, inundated with sizzling romance along the way.
EARTHSHINE is the final book following the McConnell clan and Alliance Military Guard, a standalone for the seeker of YA Sci Fi Action Adventures.
No need to comment or respond if you aren’t interested. Again, I’m not here to pressure you to do allthethings.
However, if you feel stuck, if you feel discouraged, if you feel frustrated or left out, or alone, or unsure of what your purpose is on this blue sphere….I hope you’ll sweep that hair up on top of your head and shift gears with me. If you’re pumped about life and confident in the direction you’re going, then yes, please, come on in! Go Team Messy Bun. I’m available for any and all questions if you got ‘em.
If you’re interested on any level, especially regarding the EARTHSHINE project, just add yo-self to the FB group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1863146427281089/
Then reply to this/comment with some kind of “Yes, I want to be Team Messy Bun!” and please email at email@example.com so I can get you the free documents as they become available.
Sparkle on, seekers. #teammessybun
Kristin Hernandez may be considered a first-year teacher, but she’s spent years preparing for such a time as this. Nominated for the 2018 Texas Teacher of the Year award by her superiors, this teacher has a colorful story of hope and courage. She not only instructs her students in using their numbers and letters, she lives as an example of defying the odds and overcoming obstacles with some elbow grease and a hearty spirit. Kids need more than numbers and letters; they need examples of grit.
Hernandez attended Howard Payne University as a full-time student while working multiple jobs to pay her own way, and support herself through four years of fees, tuition, bills, groceries, and rent. Crushing tunes in the music labs and studying within the education department’s paneled walls by day, she spent her nights cleaning with a janitorial company, volunteering at church, studying, and other miscellaneous tasks to earn the occasional dollar here or there. Nights were short, days were long, but her intrepid nature commanded the years. In 2015, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies with a Music Minor.
Immediately after graduation she applied to East Elementary, where she was hired as a Computer Lab Aid. While the position offered the opportunity to connect with teachers and students inside the walls of the school, the full-time hours provided part-time salary. Regardless of the restrictions this placed on her, Hernandez maintained a positive environment within her computer lab, assisting in multiple tasks and projects in addition to her required duties, all with colorful posters on the lab walls reminding her students of all their possibilities. She began the process of testing for state mandated certifications. The following year she moved into the classroom as a Third Grade Teacher’s Assistant, where she worked one-on-one with students, particularly when the teacher required maternity leave in the second half of the year. In her third year at East Elementary, in a buzz of gumption and gusto, Hernandez finally finished the state-mandated certifications and was hired for the shiny position of Third Grade Teacher. Ever since, she’s been filling the role like a champion.
Anybody who stumbles across Hernandez receives an authentic, heartfelt hello, and focused attention. “I teach for them,” Hernandez said. “I teach because I get to watch them discover things and grow. Some of them need all the love I have, some of them need the knowledge, and some of them just need the structure.” Students, current and previous, run up to her whenever and wherever, and offer a genuine hug. “They make me feel alive, and I end up loving every single one of them as they walk into my room.”
She not only offers honest, straight-forward instruction but unique, applicable tools for her students. “It’s so satisfying to see them years later, to see them grow into their own talents, and still remember I was a huge part of their lives for that one year. I get to receive the love back that has been poured into them. I get to see some special moments parents don’t, and that is so valuable to me. I get to see them overcome their biggest struggles, to watch them choose to be kind instead of mean, to watch them laugh, to watch them gather new perspectives on life, to decide who they want to be that day. I teach so they know all of those things they may or may not get at home, and enjoy it with them. The group of people I love grows every year, and it’s more rewarding than anything else.”
Even amidst the required mounds of roll calls, testing, paperwork and form-filing, she finds time to encourage her students. She shows them to pursue their education and how to tenaciously tackle life’s challenges. She lives it every day right before their eyes. And that’s some of the best education possible.
Want to make a difference in someone’s day? Vote right now for the 2018 Texas Teacher of the Year. One simple click provides a vote. Here’s your opportunity to support a hard-working teacher who truly deserves this award. Simply click here and select the dot beside Kristin Hernandez – Brownwood East Elementary.
"Who invited the mom that runs?" She said it partially in jest, but the hint of insecurity and chastisement were what I heard. Did she really disapprove of the parents who chose to join their kids on the track of the running club? Wasn't the point to get people moving?
No, I think she had a moment where she felt inadequate or jealous and let that win. There's space for every mom. Some moms stand on the sidelines cheering on their kids, some moms drop off the kids and drive to work, and some moms get on the track. I'm glad this mom said her piece, because it inspired me.
The first day of running club, I wasn't sure whether to join my daughter on the track. It was technically FOR the kids, so could parents run too? I stood on the sidelines that first morning, unsure if I could use that twenty minutes to get my own blood pumping.
Then The Mom Who Runs showed up with her kids and took the track with them. She was the only one. The second day? I wore my running shoes and joined the fun.
Don't be afraid or insecure if you want to get on the track. Maybe there's a place for helicopter parenting but I'd also venture there's a place for being an example. I want my kids to see that they can be physically fit at any age, and I want them to be encouraged in their striving. I want them to know they are capable of doing more than they imagine, that it's okay to be courageous, and it's okay to be different.
Time to toss the fear, the insecurities, the jealousy, the inability. You are needed on the field. You're wanted on the field. You're capable of filling the space that needs to be filled. Lace up those running shoes. Take that first step and get on the track. The children are watching. So are the other moms.
I have some fabulous conversations with my college besties. Here's a transcript from a conversation we had the other day about accomplishing goals and realizing dreams. Hope you'll read through and be encouraged.
Part of me sometimes wishes I hadn’t started the journey of my book writing, because I feel like I can’t get anywhere near the level that I want to be, which is just having the book in my hand. It’s so far away. Most people around here don’t even understand that they’re published. They ask me, “When are you going to get those books published?” And I say, “They are published.” But then they say, “No, but when are they going to be published?” They don’t know what an ebook is, or they don’t read ebooks.
If I had not done all this book stuff, if I had not gone forward in pursuing what I really wanted to do—and I honestly cannot say “I felt God calling me to do it,”—it was just something I really wanted to do. It was this NEED, like this need to eat, I had this need to write this story out.
Truthfully? I wouldn’t ever go back, honestly. The biggest frustration is that I can’t get them in print, and that’s my biggest frustration, internally. But getting to where I am now, that has changed me completely from inside to outside. I’ve had to face some of my darkest demons, and I’m not even on the other side of it, but I’m in there. It’s given me such empathy and sympathy for the people who are in the trenches of doing hard things, and even just struggling to be alive. It’s opened my eyes to crushing heartbreak. And I had known it before in high school, when my cousin was murdered, I mean it’s not like I’ve been completely sheltered all my life. I’ve seen really hard things. So even going through this has been this whole new eye-opening experience.
Explore the things you are most afraid of. Explore what you really want to do.
What if God did not have one thing in particular for you to do? What if he had a whole bunch of things open for you? And what if he says, “Pick any of them.” And many of them may not lead to success, but they’ll make you better in your pursuit of them. Usually you will find those jobs in the things you are afraid of. So where you hesitate, I say pursue it.
What other people think about you should not influence the things you do. If you have a passion and a desire, then you follow that. Because God has given you that. He allows you to have fears so you will come alive once you embrace them. Now I’m not saying go crazy and do anything illegal or dangerous, but even if it is dangerous, it could be something life-changing. Like sky diving. Wear that parachute though.
What I have found in exploring all-of-the-things with my books, the fears that I used to have, the fear of failure, of being laughed at, of being a joke, it never looks like you think it’s gonna look in the middle of it and on the other side of it. And you truly can do more than you imagine. And it will always look different than you think.
Branch out. Try something new, something hard. It’s super uncomfortable, and totally worth it.
Cecily has always had a huge crush on singer Andrew Holiday and she wants to be an actress, so she tags along when her friend auditions for his new video. However, the director isn’t looking for an actress, but rather the girl next door—and so is Andrew. Cecily gets a part in the video and all of Andrew’s attention on the set. Her friend begins to see red and Cecily’s boyfriend is seeing green—as in major jealousy. A misunderstanding leaves Cecily and her boyfriend on the outs and Andrew hopes to pick up the pieces as he’s looking for someone more stable in his life than the models he’s dated. Soon Cecily begins to realize Andrew understands her more than her small-town boyfriend—but can her perfect love match really be her favorite rock star?
Clean Reads Author Krysten Lindsay Hager's latest YA Contemporary Romance released this week, and you should definitely check it out. To celebrate the release, she let me ask her some fun questions about the book and life as an artist.
1. Where did you get the idea for this book?
It was basically one of those daydreams I had been having since grade school! I used my own celebrity crushes to create a “what if” moment and to see what the mindset would be for a girl who was suddenly given the opportunity to date her ultimate crush while she’s a regular high school student.
2. Who was your teenage rock star crush?
I started my main lifelong crush way before my teen years. I fell for George Michael when I was a kid and that lasted until he passed away in 2016. I liked Enrique Iglesias a lot, Johnny Gill, and probably a Backstreet Boy or two—haha. And I had a lot of basketball player crushes, too.
3. How long has this book been in the works?
I’ve been planning on writing it for years, but I never quite got the story quite how I wanted it. It was one of those stories that doesn’t go onto the paper/screen the way you imagined in your mind. So I had a lot of false starts. I think this version of the story started out officially around 2015.
4. How many books do you have published total?
This is my seventh book. I have three middle grade books and four young adult novels.
5. If you could live vicariously through an actor/singer/artist, who would it be and why?
Ooh, good question. Jennifer Lopez, but just for a day because I’d get tired out with her schedule!
(Girl, yes. Those celebrities have to be exhausted.)
6. What is one piece of advice you'd tell your teen self?
To stop worrying what people think of me. There was a lot of stuff I did and a lot of stuff I didn’t do simply because I worried about judgement. That went away in high school somewhat though. It was really bad in my middle school years because a couple times I did put myself out there and really got made fun of, but eventually it helped me because I realized those people weren’t nice, so why did I care what they thought anyway? I didn’t see it that way at the time though.
7. What's one thing you'd like to leave as a legacy?
That people found solace, escape, and encouragement from what I wrote or said.
Enjoy An Excerpt From
CAN DREAMS COME TRUE?
I started to feel anxious after lunch. After all, I had been an Andrew fan for a long time, and even though I had seen him in person, this was a huge deal to get to meet him. What if he wasn’t what I had imagined? I didn’t expect him to fawn over me or anything, but what if he was rude or ignored me? It would kill my fantasy of him as being this sweet, quiet, sensitive songwriter who wore his heart on his sleeve while also being kind of a loner/rebel with just a touch of bad boy in him. Oh man, I would be crushed if he didn’t notice me or worse—if he ended up flirting with Harlow.
In all his magazine interviews Andrew always said looks weren’t important to him, and what he noticed in a girl was if she was true to herself. He said he went for “bright girls who were sweet and easy to be with.” Now that I thought about it, that was the kind of fake crap magazines put out about all the teen celebrities. It was like when I saw Lawrence Claibourne, my favorite actor who claimed to be Mr. I’m-just-looking-for-a-sweet-girl-to-read-poetry-to on a red carpet with a model whose boobs were falling out of her dress and had overdone the lip fillers—I mean, you just knew he wasn’t into her for her personality. But Andrew wasn’t like Lawrence. Andrew seemed so sincere and deep. Lawrence had a smirk and you could tell he was a player, but Andrew seemed like he had been hurt and needed to find the right girl who he could open up to and learn to trust again. . .or at least that’s what he said in his last interview.
The final bell rang and my heart shot up to my throat. This was it. I was on my way to meet my crush. From now on, any dreams of him would be marred by the reality I was about to face.
Was it better to keep wondering what if and keep the fantasy alive or to go and actually meet him?
Now available on Kindle Unlimited or in Paperback!
PURCHASE ON AMAZON TODAY!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Krysten Lindsay Hager writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends...Forever?, Next Door to a Star, Landry in Like, Competing with the Star, Dating the It Guy, and Can Dreams Come True? True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book and the Dayton Book Expo Bestseller Award for childen/teens. Competing with the Star is a Readers' Favorite Book Award Finalist.
Krysten's work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times, Springfield News-Sun, Grand Blanc View, Dayton Daily News,and on the talk show Living Dayton.
Connect with Krysten on social media! (She's got a lot of fun, encouraging content and will make you laugh. Go check her out!)
AMAZON BIO: https://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1518310668&sr=8-1
The black and silver sequins on her shirt reflected the stage lights. A sparkly bracelet on her ankle flashed a jaunty twinkle, a hint of what was to come. The recorded piano thrummed alive in the background and Christian Faith began to sing the Martina McBride country hit song Anyway. Christian balanced in the wheelchair, buckled in snugly, never once flinching or holding back a breath. Her confident smile allowed only one message to be relayed that evening at the Texans Got Talent contest:
You can pour your soul out singing
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang.
Sing it anyway.
Yeah, sing it anyway
(Martina McBride, Anyway)
You know what’s pretty amazing about miracles? They often happen right in front of your eyes and you might not even realize they’re happening. You know what’s important about recognizing miracles? They remind of all the good, all the light, in this life.
A small water bubble welled up in the corner of my eye. Her words continued to echo around the auditorium. Christian’s heart and talent brought down the house.
She has an amazing story to tell and allowed me to send her a few questions to share with you.
Read along and meet one amazing spirit who reminds us that no matter the outcome, no matter the challenge, no matter what if… do it anyway.
Do you have a particular name for what makes you physically so unique? Have you been able to find a community of others who offer support?
The medical term for my condition is called Amelia. Basically I was born without all of my limbs not including my small leg. I do have a friend who happens to be quite similar to me but with little difference. Her name is Niki Browder. She’s 36, and we have a lot in common.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day I guess you could say is just like anyone else’s except for the simple fact that I might need to work a little harder to achieve daily activities like primping and others like feeding myself. I do everything with my foot. Just like others I’ve adapted to life in my way. I’ve created a unique lifestyle.
What has been one of the biggest challenges you've faced?
You would think that I’ve come against some huge challenges in my life, but honestly I don’t think that I could ever tell you of a time where I’ve absolutely dealt with something huge that I couldn’t handle it. Everything I’ve ever desired to do in life I’ve accomplished with Faith and a strong mindset. My family has always been so supportive as well, and they’ve helped me accomplish so much in my 22 years.
How long have you been training vocally?
I’ve been singing since I was 2 years old. When I was younger I used to watch my grandfather sing. My whole family is musically proficient, so it wasn’t that hard to pick up on. I did however take vocal lessons from the ages 6 to 11, so I guess you could say I’ve had some experience.
Are you doing anything currently to pursue singing or another career?
I am pursuing a career in the music industry. I’ve taken some online courses with Berklee College of Music, but unfortunately I wasn’t financially capable to finish my studies with the school due to my grandfather becoming ill. My family has to pay for occasional medical bills, and other sorts of needs he has. I do however look forward to furthering my career in any way that I can.
Have you written any of your own songs or are you more of a cover artist?
I’m a Singer/Songwriter, so I have written some of my own songs. A few of my originals are called Forever Reign, Oh Holy King, Stop Sign, Can’t Change Me, Falling in Love, Daddy Owns a 12 Gauge, The Middle, Mama’s Little Girl, Daddy Hold Me, Mama Said, Done Deal, and so many more.
Have you participated in many talent competitions? What type of musical gigs are you currently finding?
I hope this doesn’t appear too boastful, but I have won so many talent competitions in my life that I have lost count. The biggest competition I have ever won was at 17 years old in Stamford, Connecticut. It was called Talent America, and I was competing with people from all over the U.S. and parts of Africa. I brought home the 1st place win, and it was one of the greatest thrills in my life. I was scouted by all kinds of agencies at that time, but felt as if I was still a little young to start my career officially. I had offers to move to Nashville and New York, but felt that I wasn’t fully matured enough at that specific time to take on a huge task in my life such as the one I’m pursuing although now I feel that I’m highly capable of doing so. I do get paying gigs at weddings, restaurants, charity events, etc.
Do you have a favorite song or artist?
I love music so much that I would have to say I don’t have a favorite song or artist, because I’m open to each song I’m exposed to as an artist. I like all kinds of music, but my favorite genres would have to be Christian, Country, Bluegrass, Pop, and R&B.
Why is singing so important to you?
Singing is so important to me, because from the time I was a little girl it has been the easiest way to express myself, and I think it has become an essential part of who I am as a person. I’ve been singing all of my life.
What is the hardest thing about singing/performing?
The hardest part about performing is knowing at first that everyone is not always gonna be open to me, because I’m different, but once I open my mouth and sing then everyone becomes enlightened to me as a person.
Do you have a verse or quote serving as a reminder for what you hope to accomplish?
I look to all of God’s word to find hope, but Luke 1:45 is one of my personal favorites. It says “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!” I know that God has a purpose for my life, and I’m trusting in Him to continue molding me into who I’m supposed to be.
If you could say that you have one thing in particular you'd like to leave as a legacy, what would it be?
I want my known legacy to be the woman who served as proof that with Faith you can do absolutely anything you set your mind to, and I hope everyone will know me as the woman who set the perfect example of how EVERYONE is special in their own way. We are all masterpieces of The Most High God!
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?
If I could go back in time and give one piece of advice to the younger me it would be, “Never doubt yourself, because you are so strong!”
Listen to some of Christian's performance at Texans Got Talent 2018:
Fabulous clean romance? Yes, please! Check out these steamy, sweet, delectable romantic reads now available from Clean Reads.
Better Than This
by Tia Souders
What can keep a dream alive?
Before the car accident that changed everything, Samantha Becker was a happy and loved little girl. Ten years later, Sam, now 18, lives under a dark cloud—largely ignored by an alcoholic mother who never recovered from her loss and ruled by an overbearing father who blames Samantha for the family tragedy. And yet, the troubled teenager has a dream that keeps her going, and an extraordinary musical talent that could take her all the way to Julliard…and far beyond.
Following her heart, however, means defying her father, who has his own plans for his daughter’s future. Then, in the wake of another devastating personal catastrophe, her dream is irreparably shattered, and in her pain and anger, Samantha acts out recklessly. But her salvation could come from a most unlikely trio: a handsome college student, a hopeful little boy…and an older neighbor woman whose caring and secrets will change Sam’s world forever.
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by Dana Louise Provo
Orphaned at an early age, now twenty-four-year-old Camryn Lucks is ready to commit to find that special someone, and so accepts a date from a charming, gallant, handsome stranger.
The last thing she imagines after accepting that first date with Carson would actually be the
beginning of her worst nightmare. Red roses, a reminder of her parents' killer, soon become an emblem of horror for Cami as one by one, those closest to her fall victim to a serial killer. Cami becomes an obsession for Carson, the man she had finally allowed herself to love. Not only is he vying for her heart, but also her
Finding herself in a whirlwind of torments shadowed by the blood-colored bloom, Cami finds
solace in Isaac, a neighboring police officer. She’s desperate to escape the haunting memories,
but she must revisit them in order to catch her would-be killer. Living life in constant fear has
driven Cami to second-guess every choice she makes. Will the police catch the illusive murderer,
or will Cami be forced to face him once again?
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by Shea McIntosh Ford
As a freshman at New York University, looking for love is the last thing on Sarah McKenna’s mind. She is too preoccupied with being homesick for her North Carolina home and finding a peaceful place to play her harp amid the noise of the city. And yet, she also dreams of Ireland and is always thinking about Grandma Maggie’s stories from that idyllic country. So who better to grab her attention than a handsome, young Irishman, especially one who shares her passion for Irish music? But Cal O’Keefe has dark secrets. Can Sarah learn to see past the superficial and cope with the secrets to be with the one she loves?
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To Dance One More Day
by Rachel Jones
A medical diagnosis takes away Jillian Russell’s opportunity to become a prima ballerina. Knowing a part of her will die if she walks away from ballet, she changes her focus and builds a dance company. This endeavor takes all her resources and leaves no time to develop new relationships outside the world of ballet.
A supporter of the arts, Dr. Alan Armstrong finds himself on the board of the North Carolina Ballet Company. He has always had a penchant for fixing things and is eager to help solve the company’s loss of funding.
Romance blooms between Jillian and Alan. The doctor discovers her misdiagnosis and tells the ballerina she must decide between their love and a performance career.
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Happily Ever Afters
by Rachel Magee
Lainey Stratton does not fall in love with strangers she meets on vacation. It simply doesn’t make logical sense. So when Lainey meets Carter Thompson on the first day of her Caribbean vacation, she knows it could never amount to anything more than a crush. At the end of the vacation she will return to Dallas and he will return to DC, and that will be the end of it. Well, unless he wants to join her at a friend’s destination wedding, which would be considered vacation too, right?
But when an unexpected tragedy sends Lainey’s logical world spiraling out of control, she realizes her vacation crush might be the only one who can help her pick up the pieces of her shattered life. That is, as long as she can get out of the way of her own happiness. And as long as Carter’s past doesn’t catch up with him before she gets a chance.
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by Danielle Doolittle
Prince Henry Fitzgerald's life has taken a drastic turn. The once high flying playboy finds himself grounded and forced into rehab after one too many wild nights. Changing his ways wasn't in the cards, a fact he makes loud and clear during treatment. But when he faces off with feisty horse trainer, Carleigh Philips, Henry starts thinking he's not as far gone as everyone-including himself-thought.
Carleigh Philips has had her fill of arrogant, too good looking to be true men. Since discovering her ex in bed with another woman she's contented herself with training the horses on her family's ranch turned rehabilitation center. But when Prince Henry comes storming into her life she can't ignore him, even if half the time he makes her want to scream, she learns that some men are worth taking a risk on.
When a series of accidents add up to foul play, Henry must set aside his fear of failure and act quickly to save the woman who made him believe he could be a better man.
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Not Every Girl
by Jane McGarry
In her small kingdom of Stewartsland, sixteen-year-old Olivia trains with the squires and harbors a secret dream. She longs to become a knight under the command of the Master-of–Arms, who just happens to be her father. Dismayed by the constant discouragement of her ambitions, Olivia’s makes an impetuous decision to disguise herself in order to sneak on a mission and the consequences are not at all what she anticipated.
When her deception is revealed, she is sent home in disgrace. And that is when things get interesting. An unexpected turn of events puts her at the center of a dangerous plot against the King. The ensuing adventure finds her grappling with mercenaries and outlaws, but these pale in comparison to her newly awakened emotions. She finds not only her life at risk, but also her heart, when the aloof Prince Liam begins to affect her in ways she never thought possible. In the end, it is her courage and unique spirit which must guide her through the challenges she encounters both physical and emotional.
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The Duchess of Earl
by J.L. Salter
This is not a Regency… but SHE thinks it is.
A young woman suddenly awakens after a terrible vehicle accident convinced she’s betrothed to a lesser British baron 200 years ago. But instead of a baron, she encounters a man named Earl… and this low-key, 2013 Tennessee farm isn’t anywhere near Regency England.
Is her name really Georgette Heyer? Is she truly betrothed to Baron Hertford? It’s up to Dusty to find out.
Dusty Earl thinks the beautiful accident victim (temporarily staying in his house) is close enough to kiss, but she believes there are 200 years between them. She’s also expecting a gallant gentleman to transport her to her betrothed baron.
An affectionate tweak of Regency novels.
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by Jordan Elizabeth
Serena Cole can kick serious butt thanks to young women only she can see. School bullies aren’t a problem, but Serena’s mental health might be. To shield Serena from a dark secret, her family tries to convince her that her friends are imaginary.
Fleeing her distrustful aunt, Serena joins her mother on an archeological dig at Kistishi Island. There, Serena discovers an ancient scroll and realizes her invisible friends are goddesses native to the island, and they are in danger of enslavement for their abilities. Only Serena can save her friends if she can discover the past her family has hidden her entire life – the reason why only she can see the goddesses.
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Gray's Good Samaritan
by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
On an ordinary Saturday morning, Robin Cavanaugh’s life takes a wild turn. A wounded man leaps into her car at a traffic light. He refuses to go to the hospital and after he reveals his real name, she realizes she knows him from church. When he swears he’s one of the good guys, Robin abandons common sense to help him. As his condition worsens, she soon learns he’s not really Spike McGee, a criminal but an undercover agent whose life is in danger. His brother, Jack, a doctor, pulls Gray through and soon, Robin is part of the action too. Their love grows under the unlikely conditions and when Gray heads home to visit his mother, Robin comes too. While there, Gray proposes and she accepts but a family tragedy brings them back to Tulsa. Everything hangs in the balance as Gray goes undercover as Spike one last time…if he survives, can find their happily ever after?
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Right Time for Love
by Jannette Spann
Brandy Wyne’s future includes an old house with plumbing problems, a new job, and caring for her mother who has suffered a stroke.
Gavin Wilkin has increased his Grandpa’s plumbing business to twice its original worth, but the old man’s got a hot lady friend with greedy hands. How can he convince his grandpa of what she’s after without hurting him? Added to his problems is the responsibility of caring for his seven-year-old niece for the summer.
Brandy can’t afford the plumbing repairs she needs, and Gavin can’t find a sitter for his niece. Ever heard of the barter system?
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by Iris Blobel
Becoming a parent can be daunting at the best of times, but for Flynn, a business lawyer in Melbourne, it almost pulls the feet from right underneath him. He’s become a father to six-year-old Nadine literally overnight! He had no idea about her existence, and the news throws him into chaos, even more so when he is asked to take over custody.
With the help of Emma, an employee at the hotel where Nadine and her grandparents are staying, and his parents, Flynn tries to do the right thing. Yet, the right thing in his eyes differs from his parents’, and Emma is voicing her opinion as well. And right in the middle is little Nadine, still grieving the loss of her mother and finding a wonderful friend in Emma. There’s no doubt she’s afraid where and with whom she will settle.
But in the end, it’s a letter Flynn receives that helps him figuring out what to do.
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by E.A. West
Lacey Daniels wants a normal life where she can go to dinner or the mall without constantly looking over her shoulder. Unfortunately, her abusive father is out of prison and more dangerous than ever. The Hawthorne Guardians, a local motorcycle club that protected her as a child, is her only hope for normalcy. Some of the faces have changed, but the credo is the same: protect the innocent. One Guardian, Ratchet, takes an interest in more than her safety. He wants her heart.
Despite her growing feelings for Ratchet, Lacey can’t escape the threat her father poses. With him free and seeking revenge, she will never be safe. Her only chance for a normal life — and maybe true love — lies with Ratchet, a man who is willing to do whatever it takes to keep her father from hurting her again… even if it means risking his life to save her.
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Queen Mary's Daughter
by Emily-Jane Hills Orford
There are so many possibilities that affect the course of history. One change, one small item overlooked, can make a world of difference, not only in a person's life, but in the history and well-being of an entire nation. And then there are those multiple scenarios of what if? What if King James VI of Scotland didn't succeed in amalgamating Scotland with England? What if there had been another heir to the throne of Scotland? One who would secure its independence? Would Scotland have remained free and independent and a nation of its own well into the twenty-first century? And would Scotland, this independent version, make its own decision to join the European Union when its southern neighbor was choosing to pull away?
"Queen Mary's Daughter" presents another plausible timeline, one that incorporates both historical fact and fiction with the endless possibilities of time travel.
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Dating the It Guy
by Krysten Lindsay Hager
Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator's son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon's world and it doesn't help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren, seems determined to get back into his life, along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you're dating the it guy.
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A Chaotic Courtship
by Bethany Swafford
Twenty-year-old Diana Forester, a country-bred young woman fears that her inexperience and uncertainties have driven Mr. John Richfield away. On arriving back home from London, she learns that he is already there, ready to continue their acquaintance. If Diana thought that it was difficult in London, courting takes on a whole new aspect when Diana's younger siblings become involved. She finds herself dealing with her own feelings, her sister, her younger brother, jealous members of a house party, a jilted suitor, and a highwayman as she falls in love with the charming Mr. Richfield.
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by Melody Delgado
When her family’s cider business is ruined and other local businesses are vandalized, Anika Pembrie wonders if the recent bout of unrest is merely a result of rivalry between local merchants and noblemen or if something more sinister is at the root of the recent crimes. Along her journey Anika befriends Prince Valdemar, future king of Brevalia but their relationship hits many twists and turns along the way. Lady Winifred Paxel Flemming pursues the prince relentlessly. His grandmother, Queen Marguerite, expects him to wed whoever she thinks is suitable, even if it means marrying a foreign princess he’s never met. Anika’s mother, Lady Sarah, wants Anika to help ease the family’s financial burdens by marrying Erland Riccats, National Chairman of the Merchants’ Guild. Lady Sarah also harbors secrets regarding Prince Valdemar’s mother, Princess Karin, who met an untimely death years before. In the end, will both Anika and Prince Valdemar be forced into loveless marriages, or will they be able to outwit their enemies?
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by SM Ford
Ready for adventure in the snowy Colorado mountains, Cecelia Gage is thrilled to be employed as the live-in housekeeper for her favorite bestselling author. The twenty-five-year-old doesn't count on Mark Andrews being so prickly, nor becoming part of the small town gossip centering on the celebrity. Neither does she expect to become involved in Andrews family drama and a relationship with Simon Lindley, Mark's oh so good-looking best friend. And certainly, Cecelia has no idea she'll be mixed up in a murder investigation because of this job.
Will Cecelia's faith in God get her through all the trouble that lies ahead?
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Season of Hope
by Sara Jane Jacobs
Amanda Jarvis and Tyler Armstrong have shared life together as best friends for ten years. But as Tyler prepares to pursue his dream of becoming a Navy SEAL, while Amanda plans for a future at Barnard College, he's awakened to the greatest challenge he has ever faced in the history of their friendship: he’s seeing Amanda as much more than just his best friend. Convinced the timing is all wrong, he pushes his feelings aside as he leaves for boot camp and Amanda heads to Manhattan for a summer job at her aunt's advertising agency.
When Amanda’s plans for Barnard fall through, her new job catapults her into a modeling career. She readily accepts the much-needed distraction, filling her days with as much work as she can find. Tyler’s impending deployment is turning her world upside down. That, and the fact that she’s falling for her best friend. And, for the first time in her relationship with Tyler, she’s keeping a secret from him.
Phoebe Garrison, Amanda’s controlling aunt, is thrilled when she is given the opportunity to manage her niece's new career. Bored with her Fortune 500 advertising agency, becoming Amanda’s manager is just what she's been looking for to rekindle her aspirations. But as Tyler becomes aware of Phoebe’s obsession to push Amanda into supermodel status, tensions rise and this perfect friendship will meet obstacles that Tyler and Amanda could have never imagined. As the three of them become entangled in a mass of concealed ambition and desire, each will make decisions that could change everything between Tyler and Amanda. Will the truth be revealed before Tyler is deployed?
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The Pirate Princess
by K.R. Martin
Sometimes, to become a princess…
Raised to marry a king, Renee’s greatest desire is to be a true queen. So, while other girls learned the art of embroidery, Renee perfected her skills with a sword. She was prepared to earn the respect of her future husband, but a chance encounter with a handsome stranger awakens her heart to the possibility of love.
… a girl must become a pirate.
When tragedy strikes, Renee flees, right onto a pirate ship! Surprising herself, she offers to join their crew. Happy to finally put her swordsmanship to use, she fights injustice on the seas, but when her kingdom is threatened, can she give up the safety and happiness for an uncertain future? Or can she finally become the leader, the princess, her people need?
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Diamonds or Donuts
by Lucie Ulrich
Sarah Alexander’s marriage to millionaire Logan Montgomery is put on hold when Logan is offered the opportunity to go on an extended archeological dig in Egypt. Though not happy with his decision, Sarah supports her fiancé, despite the fact she’s already given up her apartment and teaching position.
When Sarah’s best friend, Pippa, suggests Sarah move to Sunset Cove, she figures a new town, new job, and new friends are just what she needs to help her through the separation. If she’d known one of those friends would turn out to be kind-hearted, good-looking, and well-built, Officer Kevin Jenkins, she might have figured a little harder.
Though Sarah goes out of her way to keep her relationship with Kevin on a friends-only basis, it’s clear their feelings for one another are teetering toward something more. Now Sarah must make the most important decision of her life. Will she go for diamonds or donuts?
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by Dana Romanin
For years, Jane’s mom told her horror stories about her time spent in foster care. Now she’s determined to keep her little sister from suffering the same fate.
Seventeen-year-old Jane Sanders has had to take care of her alcoholic mother and little sister, Abby, since her dad died seven years ago. And now Mom had to go and die too. Authorities determine it was a homeless transient who died in the fire of the old manufacturing plant, but Jane knows the truth.
There is no way she’s going to let Abby go into foster care which leaves her with one option—fake her mom’s life. As far as Abby knows, their mom is in rehab. And Jane wants to keep it that way. She’d be eighteen in a few months then she could become legal guardian to her sister. With the help of her best friend, Clark, it should be easy, right?
Juggling nosy neighbors, a concerned school counselor, and an oblivious new boyfriend turns out to be harder than Jane thought. But the real problem begins when Abby starts writing letters to Mom. Through Abby’s letters, Jane sees a different side to their mom—a side she could have loved. And loving Mom is something she didn’t plan on. Because loving somebody makes it harder to ignore their death.
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by Kadee Carder
Power within her. War without. Between the lines of flirtation and justice, Saylor must clench the missing pieces of her fate. While harnessing her ability to communicate with deadly weapons of mass destruction, attending the annual gala, and fighting her growing feelings for the hunky Australian soldier, Saylor’s instincts become increasingly distressed. Tempted by greed and in-dependence, she must determine what she stands for and on whose side she belongs.
Purchase on Amazon
“I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter said to them.
“We’re coming with you,” they told him. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
When daybreak came, Jesus stood on the shore. However, the disciples did not know it was Jesus. “Men,” Jesus called to them, “you don’t have any fish, do you?”
“No,” they answered.
“Cast the net on the right side of the boat,” He told them, “and you’ll find some.”
So they did, and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish.
The disciple, the one Jesus loved, said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
We discussed this story in my LIFE group yesterday morning at church. One guy said, “These guys were professional fishermen. Jesus died, they didn’t know what to do, so they went back to what they knew: fishing. And they didn’t catch a single fish. Can you imagine how tired they were? Can you imagine how hard they had been working, and how frustrated? Or were they even working hard at all, since they hadn’t caught anything?”
At that point I busted in and added my two cents. We don’t know how hard they were working, but you can’t just a fisherman by how many fish he’s caught. Especially if Jesus wants to make an example out of him. Especially if Jesus needs him to learn a lesson. These friends of Jesus needed to see more of Jesus’ provision, his presence, and to realize their calling. They’d been following Jesus, but when he died, they didn’t know what to do. They knew he’d risen again…but did they know what to do with that? I guess not. They went back to fishing. They went to the work they knew. They got in the boat.
The twelve disciples of Jesus had different lives after he came and left. We know that Judas was out of the picture at this point. Seven of them worked in that boat.
Another guy asked a great question, “Where were the other four?”
I don’t know about you. But I’ve been working hard. I’ve been pushing and charging and lifting and doing and going and cleaning and scrubbing and continuing. I’m tired. I’ve been working all night, but it feels like I haven’t caught anything. I guess I’m in the boat, waiting on Jesus. At least I’m not on the sidelines, or just not in the picture. I’m ready to go. I just need to cast my net in a new direction.
Chill out. You’re waiting on Jesus.
Maybe you’ve been working, busting it, and are tired. Maybe you’re worn out and weary. Take heart. Jesus is there. Maybe you’re sitting on the sidelines, disappeared in the crowd, shivering under a blanket, terrified. Don’t be one of the four missing the meeting. Come on. Jesus awaits. He’s got this great job for you to do. He will bring the strength to accomplish it.
Being unsure of the next step doesn’t mean you stop in your tracks. Jesus is walking on the beach, waiting just for the right time, to cook you a fish breakfast. Yum-o! Maybe those disciples needed a night in the boat, busting it, to appreciate the light streaming across Jesus’ face. They needed the empty nets to appreciate how many fish he brought to them. They needed to wait on Jesus to understand HE was providing their fish, their fulfillment, their fruition. At just the right time.
FRIENDS, put on your lovely Aussie accents, and welcome my fabulous Clean Reads author friend Tamar Sloan! She's recently released a fantastic non-fiction book titled GRIT FOR WRITERS which encourages, well, grit for writers. She's incorporated solid advice, helpful tips, and insight from other authors on this twisty adventure. *Possibly you might recognize some of those other authors!*
I wanted to interview Ms. Sloan about her books and her latest release. So let's sit down for a great cuppa and chat for a few moments!
KADEE: What's your favorite quote from the book? (Or a favorite)?
TAMAR: My favourite quote in the book isn’t my own, but I love it because it sums up what grit is all about: Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it's a small price to pay for living a dream.
- Peter McWilliams
Although I do have quite a nice one from a fabulous fellow Clean Reads author who contributed to the book: Find your why, unleash your ardour for the art, and yank it along the journey with you.
(Yes peoples, a Kadee Carder gem of wisdom!)
KADEE: Aw! Love that, Tamar! <blushes> What made you decide to write Grit for Writers?
TAMAR: I would say the impetus for Grit for Writers was a two-step process. I have a close friend who I met early in my writing journey. She’d been writing (on and off) for almost 20 years. She had persevered through rejection after rejection, and continued to chase her dream of being traditionally published. I truly admired that level of dedication, because I’m not sure I would have been able to do the same. As time went on I discovered what a roller coaster the publishing ride is. Full of exhilarating highs, stomach-dropping lows, and twists and turns you never see coming. I realised writing is a grit demanding profession. It got me thinking—what are the qualities that a person needs to keep following their dream, despite all the hurdles? As I started reading, I could see how valuable this information would be to my fellow writers. After much research and even more writing, Grit for Writers was born! Oh, and Heidi Catherine--my amazing friend’s— book is set to be published early this year.
KADEE: How long have you been a psychologist/working with students? What made you want to be in that field?
TAMAR: I was born with a strong sense of social-justice and a powerful desire to make a difference. It’s culminated in a career dedicated to working with adolescents and their families. 20 years ago I started out as a youth-worker with at-risk youth, discovering that working with marginalised and disadvantaged young people was challenging, but deeply rewarding. Knowing I’d found my niche, I studied and became a secondary teacher and worked exclusively in educational setting for these young people. Often there were days where I learned more than I taught from these young but wise, broken but unbroken, keepers of our future. I soon discovered that connecting with these kids was where my talent lay as an educator. So I returned to university and became a psychologist. I’ve been a psychologist for five years now, and it’s truly a privilege to walk alongside young people and their families every day.
KADEE: What are your favorite and least favorite things about where you live? Would you want to live anywhere else?
TAMAR: I’m pretty lucky in that I live in a small slice of the Australian bush, which is 20 minutes away from a major city—meaning I get the best of both worlds. I love the flexibility that having acreage allows me (I’ve owned milking goats, cows, sheep, horses, bees and even had an aquaponics system with trout!) but all the advantages of city life just a short drive away. Our boys love the opportunities our lifestyle has afforded them. If I had to identify my least favourite aspect of where I live, it would have to be winter, and it’s not even cold enough to snow most years! But I think I may be partially cold-blooded—I have permanently cold feet and hands during those months. On those days, Hawaii sounds pretty good…
KADEE: What's your favorite book you've written OR character you've created AND why?
TAMAR: Saved the hardest question for last, huh? I suspect the answer to this question will continually change—probably to reflect the book I’m writing at the time! Purely because that’s the magical character I’m watching, discovering, and falling in love with currently. Right now I’m working on Make it Yours, book 2 in the Touched by Love series. The main character is Emellia, a tough, persistent, lover of science (yep, fancy term for nerd). She’s witty and smart and desperately trying to save her father. It’s such a privilege to bear witness to her her highs and her lows whilst she determinedly tries to avoid the unavoidable love coming her way. I’m looking forward to sharing this special story of love and acceptance with readers.
Late last year I would have said Casey, my protagonist from Make it Count, the girl who with a single touch, sees how many days a person has to live. Casey is fun and spontaneous and possesses an irrepressible spirit. I loved exploring the chemistry between her and PJ and writing her story of self-discovery.
Before that it was shy, wounded Eden, the heroine of the Prime Prophecy series. Hers is a story of an epic love and the power of believing in ourselves…I think you get the idea…
KADEE: Thank you so much for sharing these fabulous gems, Tamar! Now let's see what GRIT FOR WRITERS has in store for us!
Writing is challenging. It involves creating something deeply personal, then offering it up for public consumption. The rejection from agents and publishers, the slow sales, the negative reviews, and the most insidious under-miner, self-doubt, are all hurdles every writer will face. In a flooded, competitive market, how do you live your passion and keep reaching for your dream?
Grit is the ability to stick with things that are important to you, through thick and thin, through the thousands of words and hundreds of pages. The good news is this very key to your success can be cultivated and grown. With Grit for Writers you'll learn how to recalibrate your mindset and how to motivate your actions with proven psychological strategies. Before you realise it, you'll be the writer you're proud of, the one others look up to, the one that lives their passion.
Don't be the writer that never finishes their novel. Don't be the writer that defines themselves by the 'no thanks' replies to submissions. Be the writer that experiences criticism and rejection and overwhelming self-doubt...and succeeds! Packed with personal stories of inspiration and proven strategies, Grit for Writers will have you on your way to writing success.
Grab YOUR COPY of GRIT FOR WRITERS today!
Before Josiah left the apartment, he glanced one last time out the living room window. There were two sparks of light a few miles in the distance. Trails of smoke followed the flashes through the early morning skyline.
The tablet in his hand spoke in a calm male voice. "Warning. Incoming rockets.”
John Theo's latest novel released yesterday with Clean Reads! I thought my readers would like to see about his newest release and get the latest intel on John's work.
MISSION TRIP, GENESIS AND EXODUS is the sequel to John Theo's MISSION TRIP. In 2077, doctor Kyle Faison remains trapped on the west coast of New America with a group of villagers he came to help. His father, Landon, races from their hidden underwater city to rescue his son. When Kyle goes missing, Landon tracks him to the city of New Sacramento, where a charismatic leader holds him captive. Landon must find a way past an army of soldiers to reach Kyle before the onset of another nuclear war.
The origin of the underwater city known as the Atoll is revealed in a prequel flashback woven throughout the story. In 2040, technocrat Josiah Saunders has wealth and power and invests much of his resources into life extension technology. He ruins countless lives trying to reach this goal. The combination of a hostile takeover by his competitor, and a failed assassination attempt, send Josiah fleeing into the subway system of New York where he is attacked and left for dead. The narcissistic man soon realizes God has other plans for him, but first he must be broken and rebuilt as a new creature.
John Theo, Jr. has published numerous articles in New England based newspapers and magazines, and has taught screenwriting at the college level. MISSION TRIP, GENESIS AND EXODUS is his fifth fiction novel and the sequel to 2016’s MISSION TRIP (Clean Reads Press). John holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, MA.
I asked John a few questions about this release and his writing. He had some great answers and I'm rooting for Josh or Hugh too!
2) What's a favorite line or paragraph from the novel?
The line at the end when Landon realizes God performed miracles to save his (Landon’s) son but did not spare His own son. At this point Landon’s “arc” is complete and he has healed from his past trauma.
“He had not spared His only son, but made a point to spare Landon’s. It was as if Landon fully understood the cross of Christ for the first time.”
3) How many books have you written? When did you begin writing?
I started writing back in high school for fun, but did not take it seriously until my mid twenties. I’ve written five books and one novella that cover a broad range: I have a young adult fantasy, a nautical murder mystery, a Tom Clancy-esque conspiracy thriller, the two Mission Trip stories as well as a prequel novella. All of which are available online or www.johntheo.com.
4) What inspired you to write MISSION TRIP?
I wanted to write a sci fi story for a long time. I grew up a complete nerd reading comic books and watching every sci fi show, and movie, imaginable. I wanted to tell a sci fi story that had not been told yet, which is hard to do. If nothing else, Mission Trip is a unique tale because it is a futuristic re-telling of the Pilgrims story. At the time I wrote MT (2015) the world was in a bad place. Christians were (and still are) being persecuted all over the world. According to PEW research, Christians are the most persecuted group on the planet. They were also (to a lesser extent) being persecuted here in the US legally. This got me thinking about the future as well as the past. What prompted the pilgrims to flee Europe and what would it take for Christians to flee the US, and where would they go?
5) Do you currently teach screenwriting? Have you written any scripts recently? If you could turn MISSION TRIP into a movie, who would you cast as the lead?
I’ve written multiple screenplays, but currently I’m marketing only two of them with my agent Pierre Rumpf.
Nicky and the Saint, A Christmas Story is a screenplay about the historic Saint Nicholas and a modern day boy named Nicky, and how their symbiotic “hero’s journey’s” overlap. The trailer (or sizzle reel) is here:
Christmas by The Sea is a straight up Hallmark Channel-esque romance set in a quaint New England seaside town. Unlike other made-for-television Christmas movies I instilled some comedy, and even a little action to broaden the audience base. The sizzle reel is here:
Christmas seems to be a theme in a lot of my writing. I guess it’s the kid in me.
As for teaching: I taught screenwriting off and on for five years at Endicott College in Beverly, MA. Prior to that I was a movie critic for a local paper and even acted a little on TV. I recently left my teaching job to move my family south. My wife and I punched out of the “rat race” and purchased a small business allowing us to be together more as a family. In the future I may create an online screenwriting class on Udemy.
As for the MISSION TRIP books as a movie: I’ve often thought of who could play the lead. I think Hugh Jackman is the size and age of the main protagonist. He would make a great Landon. With that said, I love underdogs and going against the grain. I think an actor like Josh Duhamel is an underrated actor who (for some reason) was never given the opportunity to take-off as an A lister. This is all fun stuff to think about.
For more information on John check out www.johntheo.com.
You can get MISSION TRIP, GENESIS AND EXODUS for only $3.99 on Kindle Unlimited by clicking here!
Connect with him in other places on social media:
BOOK TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1LBjsWLBbY
“Here be dragons to be slain, here be rich rewards to gain;
If we perish in the seeking, why, how small a thing is death!”
It’s release day for HERE BE DRAGONS! My heart’s roaringly thunderous inside my chest. The pressure, the epitome, the culmination of months of work—no, years of work—leading up to THIS one moment…it’s finally here. Are you ready?
Breathing life into her awoke my own resolution to restore others. Saylor didn’t know I’d revived her. She didn’t know for months, and during that time I traveled across our blue sphere and back to her recovering form at Fort Story, Virginia. Little blonde firecracker. Changed my life.
Sergeant Merritt Steele sat beside me on the cargo plane carrying us to Camp Kissinger, located deep in the heart of Australia’s Outback. “Sorry to see them go,” my co-commander noted, a slight tremor in his blue eyes. I knew he meant more than he said. He’d connected with Saylor, her sister Micah, and the McConnell family during our three-week leave.
Neither of us knew when or if we’d see them again. But that was life as Echo Company of the Alliance Military Guard, and we held that knowledge closer than our body armor. Never quit. We defeat. Let the enemy fall, come what may. That’s what we did, that’s what we were, and not a single one of us doubted it.
Not even when we landed in a war zone.
(HERE BE DRAGONS, Chapter One Excerpt)
Are you living in a war zone?
Fiction shows us how to deal with our non-fiction. We can read these characters’ stories, see their pain, feel their journey, and tremble as their spirits quake. We get invited into their space and see the world with its crumbles, heartache, and power. Fiction’s miraculous. Fiction offers a gift of escape, of courage, of grit, of shuddering through temptation with the hero. Are you facing some serious shadows? Are you hearing the grinding of bones in the distance? Follow Tucker into the heart of the Outback.
Where are the heroes?
A friend of mine recently said she wondered where the heroes were. The current trend for stories is that they often feature a strong heroine—and while I am ALL about a strong heroine, and inspiring girls to believe in themselves—I also believe we need to encourage boys to protect, to serve, to lead humbly, to explore, to create, and to forget stereotypes. Be inspired. Be fearless. Be wise. Be the hero.
Temptation leads us down paths where we consider retreating or cheating, or complaining or blaming. Well let me ask you, can fiction teach us to face the shadows? Can fiction show us the glory in the fight for life?
The amazing thing about HERE BE DRAGONS is it’s only $4.99 on Kindle Unlimited AND if you’ve got Kindle Unlimited, you can read it for FREE! I’ve had several readers who’ve provided feedback, and what they’ve all said is how much they enjoyed the ending--do you need a great ending? HERE BE DRAGONS is currently only available as an ebook, until I sell 100 per my publisher’s contract. Help both of us hold that book in our hands. We need to grip this, to flip through these pages. Connect with a free trial of Kindle Unlimited and download your copy of HERE BE DRAGONS and soar through those Australian skies with Tucker and his rag-tag crew of Guardsmen.
What is HERE BE DRAGONS about?
Alliance Military Guard sent the order. Sergeant Tucker Thompson acquiesced. Hopping on a plane to his long-lost Australian birthplace, he's been charged with his toughest mission yet. Thompson must rally his company of soldiers to prevent a new generation of weaponry from breaching the world's borders.
Readers love HERE BE DRAGONS! One reviewer stated:
“On the surface, this novel is a good dose of sci-fi and futuristic drama. Deep down, the realistic characters, with their daily struggle, not only for survival but also for understanding their sense of purpose in life, meets the need of young adult readers who, similarly, are seeking a meaning of life. The message is clear: work hard, stay the course, and look for the good in everyone and everything. Life can be good.” (Emily-Jane Hills Orford)
Are you wanting to add a great book to your reading list for 2018?
Grab HERE BE DRAGONS today. I’ve seen those dark days, those dark nights. I’ve felt the gripping fingers of desperation slipping around my neck in the trenches of writing, amid crying children, tight finances, broken down cars, endless mounds of papers to grade. I’ve scraped by on my knees and had to carry heavier weights than I thought possible. But you know what you find in the darkness? You find the light. You find the people who help, the people who stride through your front door with chocolate and coffee, and the people who truly believe all of which you’re capable.
You need to believe it, too.
The stories you tell yourself in the dark, those are the ones that stick with you.
You have the opportunity to build upon the bricks of shattered dreams and mortar of confusion, and turn it into an empire. What do you do, what do you tell yourself, when the lights go out?
Some may beg for light. Others may beg for relief, beg for some give in the take. Others may bury their faces further into the miry pool.
Something I’ve learned in the dark places: there’s always someone around to bring in the light. There’s always someone around to absorb the spilled tears, to carry the weight, and to offer a square of chocolate. Death brought confusion. But, ultimately, life wins.
You see, people are intrepid. People do seek life and life fully. There may be a lot of dark, but the warriors for light rage on. They cannot, they will not rest, until the light shines over the horizon. You see it among the darkness: a sparkle, a spark, a crack of hope against all odds.
The people who feed the darkness, they are confused. They are trapped. They are prisoners enchained by lies. They are enveloped by the monsters who devour them.
Another lesson? The hardest battle may be around the corner, trapped in the tunnels, snarling against the bright light you carry. Be prepared. Be prepared for anguish, be prepared for a cold chill to grasp for the warm light. Be prepared to fight with courage, with kindness, with tenacity, and grit. Expect among the war cry a song of hope to emerge. Be the singer. Be the strong arms carrying the weak into the night. Be the grammar joke, when death is on the line.
Bang the war drums.
Rattle the cages.
Here be Dragons.
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