The Waiting is Difficult

Photo by Christian Chen on Unsplash

If you are like me, you feel like you’re sitting on pins and needles or waiting for the ball to drop as we wait to see what will happen in our country tomorrow on inauguration day. Our country is divided and many are still looking for something to happen that would keep President Trump in the White House while others think Joe Biden will make everything better.

And, of course, the question remains–will there be riots and violence on Wednesday because of those who will be unhappy, frustrated, and angry at the results. We thought 2020 was tumultuous and hoped things would go back to “normal” by the end of the year. Then the election was a farce and a fiasco. Then President Trump spoke outside the Capital on January 6th and a group of people broke into the White House, and once again, emotions are running high and divisions have been driven deeper.

I try not to post anything political here or anywhere on social media for the most part, but whatever happens on Wednesday will affect every single person in this country, and we are wondering if the United States will remain a free and great country or if it will fall and become a Communist country. People are angry, worried, frightened, and many other emotions are running rampant.

I, too, have my concerns and fears of what Wednesday’s inauguration will bring, and I sincerely hope our country will somehow rise from the ashes like a phoenix and become reunited and healed stronger than ever. However, I believe the only way this can or will happen is in the hands of Almighty God. This country was founded on the principles of people who believed in God and wanted to live in the freedoms granted by God.

Over the years, the United States has turned its back on God and sinful behaviors have become accepted behaviors–many have even become accepted in churches. So, dare we hope and pray that God will renew our nation to the Christian free nation that it used to be? Many no longer want to hear the word “Christian” in this nation, and there are those who want to end Christianity in this country.

As a believer, I have been praying and continue praying for this nation — praying for God’s forgiveness and mercy–for another chance. For I believe that God is in control and every leader this country has ever had or will have has been allowed to lead by Almighty God.

Despite my prayers, and the prayers of others like me, God may decide to let our country fall to teach us a lesson, for in the midst of a pandemic, many continue to turn a blind eye to the Lord. Many mock God and mock anyone who claims to be a believer and tries to live obediently to Him, just like the people in the days of Noah.

I don’t doubt some will read this post and scoff at it, mock it, ignore it, or want to argue with me, and I’m okay with that. I’m not trying to tell anyone what they should think or believe. I am simply sharing my thoughts and hoping this post might help someone, or cause someone to pick up a Bible and begin reading, or just think about where their hope comes from. We all need hope, but placing our hope in the wrong thing can eventually lead us to hopelessness, and hopelessness is a dangerous and lonely place to be.

As I wait with both concern and anticipation, I will continue to pray for God’s forgiveness and mercy. But, whether or not, He chooses to grant forgiveness and mercy, I will continue to put my faith and trust in Him above all men, for I have seen and experienced God’s power at work many times in my life.

Unfettered Journey by Gary Bengier

Unfettered Journey by [Gary F. Bengier]

As a Book Reviewer, I received an ebook copy of Unfettered Journey by Gary Bengier free for my honest review.

Unfettered Journey by Gary Bengier is declared a speculative fiction story. However, I would consider it more of a literary fiction story.

In all honesty, I found the Unfettered Journey to be a very long book, and I didn’t really become engaged with the story until the final third, where the author wrote the bulk of the action and where my emotions also became engaged.

In the first two thirds of the book, the reader and Joe, the main character, spend a lot of time in Joe’s thoughts. Joe works with robots and spends a lot of time wondering if it’s possible to make AI more human-like. He talks with a lot of other techie people and the reader is fully immersed in technology, science, and philosophy. Eventually Joe meets Evie, a rebel, whom he becomes very involved with.

When Joe and Evie are banished from the world they know, they face new challenges. In their new environment, with their new challenges, I found the story more engaging, but still lacking in action.

Unfettered Journey is very well written, and, though it isn’t the type of story I usually read, I was interested in the characters enough to keep me reading, though not like “I couldn’t put it down”. Even the writing about technology was interesting to me. I was invested in Joe, and eventually Evie, enough to want to read the entire book. I highly recommend this book to those who really enjoy literary stories and technology, and I give Unfettered Journey four stars.

Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing

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It has come to my attention that I have not addressed script writing for movies or theater (plays). I really don’t know anything about script writing. I have never attempted to write a script for a movie or play, though years ago I wrote a script for a puppet show that was never used.

However, a young lady I mentioned yesterday, Anna, is very interested in script writing and she and her mom found an article online that they felt was helpful to those interested in script writing, and Anna was hoping I would be willing to share it here.

Yes, I am always willing to share anything that may help other writers. So, here is the link to the article that Anna and her mom found helpful: https://www.theaterseatstore.com/blog/writing-for-theater-film. We hope that some of you will find it helpful too.

A Spark of Light

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For those of you who follow this blog, you may have read my last post, in which stated I would be taking this blog in another direction for awhile instead of posting about writing. However, I received a wonderful spark of light in an email that has given me encouragement for this blog and for continuing to focus on writing here on this blog.

I still haven’t been able to settle into a regular writing schedule to post as often as I did before, but for now, I will do my very best to continue posting book reviews as I have many requests for those, and I will also do my very best to continue posting my “Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing” posts, and I want to take the rest of this post to explain why I have been inspired to keep writing the Thursdays’ posts.

Last night I found an email in my inbox that was dated December 10th. I am sorry that I didn’t see this email sooner and sorry that I disappointed a little girl named Anna. I hope Anna will still be happy to find that not only will her suggested writing resource be posted here on my blog, but to find that she has been mentioned here because she and her writing teacher have offered me encouragement in a time where I have been struggling with the things that are happening in our world and with the loss of my father, as well as struggling to find my desire to write anything.

The email was from a woman named Carol, who, at the time of the email, was teaching a fun writing class for students ages 12-15. She wrote to me to let me know that she used things I posted on my “Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing” posts for the class. She also told me about Anna and how Anna wanted to share an article she and her mom had found about writing for film and theater. Carol told me that Anna thought I might like to share the article on one of my Thursday posts to help young writers, who may come across the information on my blog, who might want to become a script or screenwriter someday, like Anna.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much that email means to me — first, because it has inspired me and encouraged me to begin writing again, not just here on my blog, but to finish my current novel and begin the next one; second, because I never dreamed that anyone would use what I share to teach others, and I have been teaching writing to students from first through twelfth grades, in the homeschool community, for sixteen years because I love teaching and encouraging young people who love stories and want to write stories, to do so and to do it well; and finally, because it touched my heart to know that a young girl wanted to share something with me that she thought I might want to share here on my blog.

So, thank you Carol, for the email, and thank you Anna for liking my blog and wanting to share something with me. Anna, I wish you the best on your writing and know that if you work hard and continue to learn how to write well, you will be a great script or screenwriter one day! And Anna, be sure to check tomorrow’s “Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing” post.

Let’s Get Real as we say, “Goodbye” to 2020.

Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

I hope those of you who have been reading my blog have missed seeing my posts as much as I have missed writing them, but as I’m sure you all know, 2020 was an unusual year, and a difficult year for just about everyone.

I took a break from writing here – first, because I wanted to finish the revisions on what I still hope will be my upcoming first novel; and second, to dig into The Creative Way, a writing course designed and taught by Ted Dekker.

However, those reasons for a blog writing break soon turned into something much more pressing as my dad spent a week in the hospital for something that didn’t seem like a big deal but soon had us preparing to say goodbye to him. With very little warning, he was diagnosed with cancer, which none of us ever suspected or expected, and we were told he only had weeks to live.

My heart was burdened because my dad had not yet given his heart to Jesus. I had been praying for years and now time was running out. I began to pray more fervently that the Lord wouldn’t let my dad die until he asked Jesus into his heart.

The Lord answered my prayer in the way I hoped He would, and Dad had an opportunity to ask Jesus into his heart, and he did, just two days before he was released from the hospital and returned home by ambulance, placed under the care of Hospice and my mother, my sister, and I.

Dad died just one day short of being home two weeks and just five days after Thanksgiving. We shed tears for our loss, and, of course we will miss him, but we have peace in the knowledge that he is with Jesus and we will see him again someday.

Because of the difficulties, challenges, and tensions of 2020, I have decided to begin posting differently here on my blog. It will be a slow process of building back up to the number of posts I was posting before, and for a while, I will also be taking a break from all of my writing related posts. I will still post book reviews as I am still reading, though I have slowed that down for right now as well. I will be posting a Book Review this coming Monday, January 11th. However, my other posts will be of a more personal nature. I will share whatever the Lord lays on my heart as I continue to walk through these troubling times. It is my hope that these posts may be of encouragement to you—maybe, showing you that someone else is experiencing some of the same things you have or are experiencing; that someone feels the same way you do or thinks some of the same thoughts you do. More importantly, I will do my best to point you to hope because even in these troubling times, hope is still alive and can still be found if you’re willing to be open and maybe consider something you’ve chosen not to consider before.

I hope you will still enjoy visiting my blog and that you will find encouragement and hope here.

Against Blood by Jack King

Against Blood (A Detective Cliff Husto Thriller Book 2) by [Jack King]

About the Book:

Against Blood by Jack King is the second of his mystery series that has Detective Cliff Husto on the case. This time, Detective Husto is faced with a web of conspiracies and vendettas entangling Desert Storm veterans suffering from PTSD, a group of Islamic college students on the path to radicalization, and hard-line racist American nationalists.

My Review:

Just like Beyond Blood, Jack King’s first Detective Cliff Husto novel, Against Blood’s first few chapters introduce a lot of characters in a lot of settings, so Detective Husto readers need to be alert. However, after the first few chapters, it becomes clear that all of these characters in all of these settings are connected, and in this case, are all set in Houston, Texas.

As much as I enjoyed Jack’s first book, Beyond Blood, I was delighted to see improvements in Jack’s writing in Against Blood. Where I struggled to care about the characters in his first novel, there were certain characters in this story that I understood, cared for and rooted for right from the start. Of course, there were also a couple characters that I wanted to see get what was coming to them.

Just as in Jack King’s first Detective Husto novel, Against Blood kept me turning pages and held me in suspense as I tried to determine who the murderer was before reaching the end of the book.

One of my favorite things about Jack’s Detective Husto novels is that they have short chapters that are fast paced, and each one leaves the reader wanting more. Each lures the reader to keep reading. I’d reach the end of a chapter and think, “aw, the chapters are short. I have time for one more,” which then became one more and one more and one more.

I have to admit, there were times where I caught myself holding my breath as I read and waited to see what was going to happen in the suspenseful scene I was fully engaged in. Jack kept me guessing as to who the killer was almost to the very end. I changed my mind a couple times as new evidence seemed to point to someone else – exactly the kind of mystery I enjoy most.

I will caution readers that there is some profanity sprinkled in parts of the book, and of course, there is violence. However, the violence isn’t graphic or overdone. It is tastefully done.

If you enjoy a good, fast-paced, suspenseful mystery and a likeable, intelligent detective on the case, you will enjoy Jack King’s Detective Husto stories. Either story can be read alone and it doesn’t really matter which one you read first.

I give Against Blood 5 stars, and I look forward to more Detective Husto mysteries from Jack King.

Lander’s Choice by C. S. Wachter

As a reviewer, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Lander’s Choice, the sequel to Lander’s Legacy by C. S. Wachter is a great read! C. S. Wachter stories improve with each book she writes.

About the Book:

Lander’s Legacy was a great read, but Lander’s Choice is even better. Lander, Castor, Desma, Becky, and Michael remain in the Core under the control of the men who partnered with Aurelius Hunt sixteen years ago and have risen to power over the people of the core. As they are taken on a kind of tour of the Core, Lander notices that the people have been segregated into communities of “gifted”, those with special powers who get to rule and keep order over the communities of the “ungifted”, those with no special powers who are treated as slaves. Soon, Lander is separated from all of his friends because he is “gifted” and they are not. Lander is torn between his mother’s words about him helping to bring peace to the Core and his loyalty to his friends.

My Review:

C. S. Wachter does a great job of showing Lander’s internal struggle between his feelings for Becky and his loyalty to her and Michael along with the promise to get them back to the Surface, and his desire to learn more about this beautiful and unusual place that he came from and his mother’s words that he would play a part in bringing peace back to the Core.

The story is filled with adventure, struggle, and suspense as Lander and his friends are often in danger and Lander is forced to “play along” with the “gifted” until he can come up with a plan to try to make everything right. There are battles and lost lives. There are emotional struggles. There are twists and surprises.

C. S. Wachter grabbed my attention on page one and held it in a tight grip until the end of the very last page. I couldn’t stop reading until I knew if Lander would succeed in making difficult choices and succeeding in the things he most wanted to accomplish. And, in the end, would he choose to remain in the Core or return to the Surface? And what would happen between him and Becky?

The characters C. S. Wachter created in this two book set were well developed and endeared themselves to my heart. Even the bad guys had some redeeming qualities, which was a refreshing change from the norm.

So far, I have read every book that C. S. Wachter has written and I have not been disappointed, but I have to say that Lander’s Choice is my favorite, and I can’t wait to see what she writes next because this two book series, though still fantasy, is very different from her first longer series, “The Seven Words Series”. It will be fun to see how different her next story will be.

Lander’s Legacy and Lander’s Choice are appropriate for middle grade, YA, and Adult readers who enjoy fantasy adventure stories.

I give this book 5 stars.

No Place to Hide by Opa Hysea Wise

No Place to Hide Book Cover.png

As a reviewer, I received a request for an honest review and an ebook copy of No Place to Hide by Opa Hysea Wise.

About the Book:

This book is advertised as a riveting page-turner, a suspenseful page-turner, and a thrilling fast-paced new mystery. It also mentions that Smythe, the main character, seeks to find meaning in the events that threaten her life, and that she uses her past experience to find meaning in her present, and she begins to see beauty in the midst of chaos.

My Review:

This was not a riveting, fast-past, thrilling page-turner. There were a few moments of suspense, but the action was not well written or descriptive enough to create substantial suspense. Yet there were in depth detailed descriptions of rooms. The majority of the book covers Smythe’s internal struggles and includes mostly narrative and dialogue.

The mystery begins the story, then is left out, for the most part, until the last third of the book. However, the mystery is never resolved to my satisfaction.

I found the majority of the story repetitive and slow-paced. It was also filled with a lot of New Age and Eastern Mysticism ideas. It mentions Christianity in a critical light and pretty much dismisses it.

A lesbian relationship begins to develop between Smythe and her hired protector. Thankfully, the author didn’t make this a main point or present it in detail.

There were several places where the author changed character point-of-view without any warning and I found myself having to go back and reread one to three paragraphs to figure out whose point-of-view I was reading.

Therefore, in conclusion, I was mostly disappointed with this story, and I give it three stars.

Best Foot Forward by Bea Stevens

Best Foot Forward by Bea Stevens

About the Book:

Best Foot Forward is the first book in the “Liberty Lawrence” series by Bea Stevens. Liberty, or “Libby” as most of her friends call her, is the main character of this series of books. In Best Foot Forward, Libby lives and works in a large hotel. The story is told in her point of view in first person. Libby experiences many mishaps in the story and finds herself in the middle of a mystery. She is also obsessed with shoes, especially designer shoes.

My Review:

I’m not a fan of books written in first person. However, for Best Foot Forward by Bea Stevens, the first person point of view works well, both for Ms. Stevens’ writing style, and Liberty Lawrence’s personality and the story itself, as it adds to the quirkiness of the character.

Best Foot Forward is a unique mystery story, as it is a combination of a romantic comedy and cozy mystery. In the beginning of the story, I found Libby to be a bit self-absorbed and prone to self-pity. However, as the story moved along and Libby’s character developed, she became quite endearing as she suffered embarrassing mishaps, and showed a sensitivity and empathy toward other characters who were going through personal difficulties.

The story was believable and it was easy to relate to Libby’s feelings in regard to her love life. I found myself smiling at some of Libby’s mishaps and thoughts. She also warmed my heart in the care, concern, and help she offered to others. I also enjoyed the relationship that has begun between Libby and Police Sergeant James Harper.

The one thing I think was a bit overboard was the profanity. I’m not a fan of books with profanity, and often, the author wrote Libby’s thoughts and ended them with an exclaimed profane word, which I didn’t feel was necessary or added anything to the story. However, I am thankful that the author tended to stick to mild profane words, but still would have preferred fewer of them.

This book was a fun, entertaining read.

I give this book 4 stars.

Bell Hammers: The True Folk Tale of Little Egypt by Lancelot Schaubert

Bell Hammers: The True Folk Tale of Little Egypt, Illinois by [Lancelot Schaubert]

Bell Hammers: The True Folk Tale of Little Egypt

by Lancelot Schaubert

About the Book:

Remmy and Beth grow up in Bellhammer, Illinois during the time that oil and coal companies rob the land, stripping if of everything that made it paradise.

Remmy’s Grandad teaches him how to pull outrageous pranks on his neighbors, friends, and foes. Under his Daddy’s guidance he starts a construction company, which depends on contracts from the Texarco Oil Company.

Remmy has a fascination with “Robin Hood”, castles, and a round table. He builds his on band of “merry men” carpenters.

Then a faulty Texarco Oil derrick falls down on their house and poisons their neighborhood’s well.

When Texarco refuses to take responsibility for the poisoned well, Remmy hatches a plan that results in one prank after another, until he and his merry men pull the “world’s greatest prank”.

My Review:

Remmy is an endearing character, whom I cared about and rooted for from the very beginning of the story. His quirky personality was often humorous.

Lancelot Schaubert’s writing took the reader into the past and spanned the life of Remmy in Bellhammer, Illinois from 1941 through 2012. His writing brought clear feelings of nostalgia to the reader. Remmy and Beth took the reader back to simpler times that showed no times were without their troubles. The author did an excellent job capturing the dialogue of the time and area as well.

Remmy also often spoke to the “Good Lord” in ways that sometimes seemed to mock God. He also heard the “Good Lord” speak to him, and he didn’t always listen to or properly interpret what the “Good Lord” told him to do, just like any flawed, sinful human being. Remmy learned many lessons throughout the book and his life.

Lancelot Schaubert did an excellent job portraying a neighborhood’s struggle with big companies in another place and time. He made it relatable and entertaining. His sharing of true events, and maybe some familial myths, stir feelings of nostalgia, comradery, sympathy, and empathy, even as they occasionally make the reader laugh out loud.

This story does include profanity and crude humor as well. However, if you are a history buff or a person who enjoys cheering for the underdog, I recommend you read Bell Hammers.

I give this story 4 stars.