The pain I’ve been dealing with is coming from the sciatic nerve. I’m going through physical therapy now and hope to be back to normal activities soon.
Tuesday, November 29
This morning started out with a sluggish weight and depression setting in. I’m not used to being home with nothing to do all day except think. I’m actually going this morning to talk to my mental health counselor and get a handle on my mood before it sinks into a full depressive episode.
I’m waiting to hear from both my doctor and my boss to see what the next few weeks will bring. I worked 4 days total in November, so this is going on a second month of sitting at home in pain and thinking too much.
Tuesday, November 29, later in the day:
My counselor was able to help me get back on track with a few statements we’ve talked about before. A) acknowledge that I am thinking negatively about myself; B) believe what is true about myself and God; and C) change the default. A) yes, I am in pain and am missing time from work; B) it isn’t easy, but God has never let me down and will help me through this challenge; and C) to try to stop the negative thoughts from taking root. Changing the way I think takes time and practice. I’ve done pretty well over the past few months but I needed some reminders. Thankfully I didn’t slide back into that pit of depression. God is awesome and His Word is true and powerful.
Wednesday, November 30
One of the steps to gaining back my mood balance is to “Change the Default.” That is something my counselor came up one day when something she was printing went to the default printer, and not to the one in her office. She told me that is like what I go through. Every time I struggle, I default my thoughts to blaming myself, self-judging, worrying about what people think about me. She said I needed to change the default thinking.
As I began to grasp that understanding, this is something I wrote down. A prayer of sorts, to read to myself when I need to remember that I am okay just the way I am.
I wrote this several years ago but it’s always good to refresh my way of thinking.
My guest today is Katy Eeten, author of Christian romance. She is here today to tell us about two of her Christmas novellas.
Before we talk about your books, Katy, tell us a little bit about yourself:
I live in southeast Wisconsin with my husband and our two sons, ages 14 and 11, where I work full time in the business world crunching numbers and analyzing data. I love to write, read, bake, take walks, play board games, and spend time with my family. My publications include two contemporary Christian romance novels and three Christmas novellas, two of which I’m sharing about today.
What are your Christmas novellas about?
Christmas in Meadow Creek is about a fourth-grade teacher named Sarah who moves to the small Wisconsin town of Meadow Creek, where she meets firefighter Lincoln. They hit it off right away, but when they discover that Sarah’s troublemaking student is none other than Lincoln’s beloved nephew, their newfound relationship is put to the test. Can they navigate through the complexities of family dynamics to find a love that will last?
In Wrong Turn Christmas, April’s family is facing insurmountable debt from her dad’s cancer treatments. While seeking legal assistance to help her parents, she ends up at the wrong house. Even after he realizes her mistake, Jake can’t get April off his mind. But with the financial situation she’s facing, he believes he has nothing of real value to offer her. Or does he? One wrong turn might just end up turning a Christmas crisis into a Christmas miracle.
Reading Christmas novellas is a fun way to get into the spirit of the holiday. It’s fun to write them, too.
Here are some questions that readers want to know the answers to:
As an author, what book do you wish you would have written?
I’m a big fan of the Hunger Games series. I think the story is really engaging and well written. I wish I had the ability to write action-packed scenes like that, and make the adventure come to life in people’s minds!
How did you come up with the names of your hero and/or heroine?
For Christmas in Meadow Creek, Lincoln is the name of my firstborn son. For Wrong Turn Christmas, I just pulled the names out of thin air. I try to change up the first initial of my main characters when I’m writing so I don’t accidentally mix up who’s who. Sometimes they mean something, but often they are just random names I like or that I think sound good together.
What does your family think of your writing?
My family is super supportive. My husband is not much of a reader, and romance is not his genre of choice. Yet I’m humbled to say that he has read every one of my published books! My mom and siblings also read my work and spread the word to their friends. Even my kids understand that writing and editing can take up a lot of time, but I try not to let it consume me. I am blessed to have such a great family!
If you didn’t write books, what would you do for a living?
It’s not practical, but I think it would be so cool to work for a game show. I love watching game shows and think it would be so fun to create the Wheel of Fortune puzzles or Pyramid clues, or to come up with new rules and fun twists on the traditional games.
Thank you for being my guest today. What plans do you have next for you as an author?
I have a completed manuscript that’s written from the viewpoints of six former college friends. It has primarily romantic elements, but entails other plotlines as well, so it doesn’t fit into the traditional “romance” genre. That makes it challenging to find the right publisher, but I’m hopeful I will. It’s a beautiful story that weaves together multiple relationships and showcases the way their faith and friendships impact all that they do.
Today I welcome Laurie Wood back to my blog. Laurie is author of the romantic suspense series, Heroes of the Tundra, set in Canada’s northern wilderness.
As we begin our interview today, Laurie, there is snow on the ground here in Michigan. A perfect setting for talking about your Christmas novella.
Let’s start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a military spouse and the proud mom of two special needs adults. I’m the author of the Heroes of the Tundra series with Anaiah Press, and my fourth book in the series, NORTHERN REDEMPTION, will come out in 2023. When I’m not writing, I’m usually spinning my yarn, knitting, or hanging out with my two dogs.
What is your novella, Northern Hearts, about?
NORTHERN HEARTS is my Christmas book in the series. The heroine inherits a hotel/restaurant in a small town in Canada’s northern wilderness. She and the chef have 30 days to work together to decide who stays, or who goes, or can they work together to continue her aunt’s legacy? It’s set in the real-life town of Churchill, Manitoba, which is the Polar Bear Capitol of the world. And yes, there’s a polar bear in the story!
My publisher, Anaiah Press, rebranded the series this year and designed new covers to feature my handsome heroes for each book. I’m excited to share the new cover for NORTHERN HEARTS below:
That’s a great cover. Very intriguing and what a handsome hero!
Let’s talk about your writing. Do you have a day job? If so, how do you find time in your day to write?
I’m lucky to be “retired” so that my primary focus is my writing. However, I’ve struggled with several significant health issues these past two years and am still getting a handle on them. I carve out writing time first thing in the morning when I’m fresh after breakfast. I’m not one of those people who can get up at 5 a.m. and be productive! I need my two cups of coffee and a good meal in me before the creative Muse hits.
Who was your favorite character to create?
This heroine, Kali McIntyre, was so much fun to create! I made her a rich girl but gave her enough spunk and nerve that she wasn’t spoiled or a stereotype. She has her own dreams and makes her own decisions, even if they’re not welcomed by everyone else in the story. She learns from her mistakes. And she wasn’t looking for love, which I think a lot of twenty-something’s worry about too much, so when she found it, it was that much sweeter.
Are you a plotter or a panster?
I’ve learned over the past five years to become a plotter. I come up with my characters first, and then figure out what their basic story is going to be, in broad strokes. Plotting out a simple outline and hitting the main turning points gives me a guideline to write towards on those days when my health problems are holding me back.
Also, even my publisher (who knows me) likes to get a synopsis of the book before offering a contract, so learning how to write a good synopsis is a wonderful skill to have in your toolbox. That means plotting your story out from beginning to end.
With NORTHERN HEARTS, I knew they had 30 days to figure out what they were going to do in regard to keeping or splitting the business between them, and I had 30 days to get them to fall in love. It was a fun problem to solve and I enjoyed writing it even though it didn’t have the danger elements my usual books entail.
Please share with us yourfavourite excerpt from NORTHERN HEARTS:
“He stopped himself from knocking on the closed office door, and entered, letting the door bang on the wall. Just enough to get Kali’s attention. Tripod settled into his corduroy dog bed under his desk.
Kali, however, was chattering away on the phone, her right hand bouncing up and down on the desk blotter, her entire body vibrating with excitement. When she hung up, she leaned back in the swivel chair and crowed out loud.
“Woot! I just made an order for one hundred pounds of veal and pork for Friday, November 30th!”
“Veal and pork? From where? And why?” Jake walked to the coffeemaker by the window and put in a dark roast pod, slamming down the lid. “Those are two of the most expensive meats you can buy, especially this time of year.”
Visions of their red balance sheet for December’s year end danced in front of his eyes.
“I know,” Kali smiled up at the ceiling, swiveling her chair side to side. “We’re going to make old-fashioned French tourtières – I have a fantastic Québécoise recipe – and if it’s too expensive, we’ll just cut the boar sausages from the menu. And the elk meatloaf.” She tapped her pen on her teeth. “I think we’ll add some Beef Wellington, too. Or, what do you think about using salmon instead?”
“You’re actually asking me for input?” He knew he sounded beyond irritated, but he’d never see her so wound up. Okay, she looked pretty this morning, like a cross between a princess and a New York power executive, with her dazzling blue eyes, blonde hair, and the new icy-blue fleece top she’d bought from Ruby’s. For the life of him, he’d never seen such a small woman with so much kinetic energy.
“I want to add avocados to the salade du l’hiver, as well.” She scribbled on a piece of paper.
“Avocados? We can’t afford avocados…Listen, first we need to talk about the Nativity sets.”
Her head bent over her work, she said, “What about them?”
He muttered a prayer under his breath and took a swig of scalding coffee. He noted the can of diet pop beside her computer. Huh. She’d given in to her caffeine addiction and coughed up the twenty-six dollars for a case of pop.
“Those Nativity sets are a Great Northern Lodge Christmas tradition. We have to put them out.”
“Why?” She kept writing, head down.
“Because, that’s what Cora did every year for the past forty-odd years, and people expect to see them. They were special to her. Little kids love coming to see them and touch them – some of them, anyway – and the staff is upset.”
“The staff is upset? Whatever for?” Now, her head was up, those dazzling blue eyes staring at him.
“I believe you used some fighting words, such as old-fashioned, and tacky, and too religious.” He took another sip of hot coffee. Those eyes were killers. He wondered if she knew how attractive she was, or if someone with all her resources had known it since she was ten.”
Thank you for being my guest today, Laurie. What’s next for you as an author?
This is Book 2 of my Heroes of the Tundra series. NORTHERN PROTECTOR, Book 3, came out last year.
Readers can keep their eyes out for NORTHERN REDEMPTION, Book 4, which will be out some time in 2023. It’s the story of Rory Gallagher, the brother of heroine Joy Gallagher from NORTHERN PROTECTOR. He owns a helicopter touring company in Churchill, Manitoba, and ends up trying to survive a crash with Lise Dumont, a Conservation Officer. They crash, get kidnapped, learn to do wilderness surgery, and have all kinds of fun!
I have a couple of other projects under way, and we’ll see where they land.
It’s Wednesday, November 9 and Thanksgiving is just around the corner. With Christmas only a few weeks away, it’s a great time to pick up a Christmas-themed book to read.
Today I’m interviewing author Laura Thomas about her newly released novella, The Christmas Cabin.
Laura, thank you for joining me today. Let’s start with you telling us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a published Christian author, and I write heartwarming encouragement for your soul—especially in my romantic suspense, teen fiction, marriage, and children’s books. I’m a certified hope*writers writing coach, and a chocoholic mom and lala, married to my high school sweetheart. Originally from the UK, we live in Kelowna, British Columbia, as audacious empty-nesters.
What is your book about?
The Christmas Cabin is a Christmas novella. It’s a stand-alone spin-off from my Christian romantic suspense “Flight to Freedom” series, published by Anaiah Press.
“When Carla James flies home for the holidays at her family’s cozy Canadian cabin, she has no idea what—or who—awaits. But after five years serving at her beloved Mexican orphanage, it’s time to work through forgiveness, face her fears, and reclaim Christmas. Up-and-coming chef, Rhys Templeton, still regrets leaving a heartbroken Carla in the past and is desperate to confess his truth and make amends. But her own shocking revelation has the potential to either send him spiraling back to his destructive lifestyle or into Carla’s arms.
However, someone else is privy to Carla’s chilling secret and they’re out there watching. Waiting. Wanting. Time is running out like melting snowflakes. And now, if Carla ever wants to see another Christmas, she needs all the grace and grit she can muster to trust the one who deserted her and the One who promised never to leave.”
What was the inspiration behind The Christmas Cabin?
When I wrote The Orphan Beach, the last book in the Flight to Freedom series, I knew there were opportunities for the story to continue—and quite honestly, I missed spending time with the characters! I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas novella, especially one set in my home province of British Columbia—after all, there is nothing quite like a Canadian white Christmas. In the last book, we briefly met Carla James as she worked at the Mexican orphanage. It just so happened that she was Canadian, and the perfect character to grow into a protagonist for The Christmas Cabin, so I flew her home for the holidays. Snow shoeing is one of my favorite winter activities, and my imagination often runs wild with suspenseful possibilities when my husband and I are out on the secluded mountain trails. Maybe not so much fun for him, but fantastic fodder for my storylines!
Were there any surprises that came up as you wrote your story?
Yes. Without giving anything away, I was surprised by something Rhys told Carla. Didn’t see that coming! Yet it added a whole other layer to the complexity of his situation and works wonderfully well. I also had no idea the solution to a specific problem would involve certain characters form a previous book. This is a stand-alone novella, but I think readers of my Flight to Freedom series will especially enjoy the ending!
The next question is one I always like to know the answers to. How did you come up with the names of your hero and/or heroine?
Carla was a secondary character in the previous book, and I chose to add the surname “James” after one of my sons. And then Rhys is named after one of my Welsh nephews—he absolutely loves Christmas and I decided it would be perfect to use his name for this book!
Let’s talk about your writing process.
Are you a night owl or morning person?
How I wish I were one or the other… but I am neither! I’ve never been able to burn the midnight oil as I enjoy my sleep too much, and I really do try to be a morning person, as much as I loathe the alarm. Weekdays, it wakes me at 6:30AM, which feels late when my “morning lark” husband has already been up all cheery and full of life for an hour, at least! Resuscitation by way of a cappuccino, time reading, and a shower help me on my way—although my best creative writing happens in the afternoon. We all have our quirks, right?
Are you a plotter or a panster?
I’m a plotter—but I always leave plenty of wriggle room. So, before I begin writing my manuscript, I like to have a question or theme in mind, and a decent plotline with broad strokes on where I see each chapter heading. I need the ending to be secured and I like to do a pretty deep dive with my main characters. However, I am always open to hearing from my characters as we go, and the storyline will definitely take some unexpected twists and turns… that’s when writing is so much fun!
If you didn’t write books, what would you do for a living?
This is such a good question—I have been stewing over it for a couple of days. I cannot imagine not writing. I started later in life and it’s become such a vital part of who I am. I’ve always adored books and I love story. Perhaps in another life, I would have gone the dancing or acting route to tell stories in other forms… but I am truly grateful to be doing what I was made to do: writing, coaching other writers, and reading a plethora of books!
Your novella, The Christmas Cabin, sounds like a wonderful read! Romance, suspense and Christmas, a great combination.
What’s next for you as an author?
Other than several on-going writing projects, I currently have my literary agent working to place my latest Christian romantic suspense novel, Captured in Frame. It’s a brand-new series set in the English countryside, so I’m going back to my roots!
Where can readers find you online?
My books, blog, writing coaching, monthly newsletter, and all my social media links can be found on my website:
Anytime I fight against the darkness in my life, God moves in with the light.
It was no different this week.
On Thursday night I struggled with sliding towards the pit of depression.
By the Grace of God, He reminded me to Feed the Light that is in me through salvation.
Through praise and worship, that lightness overtook the darkness and I was again set free from falling into the pit.
God is good. All the time. Even when our circumstances are not.
Plans for future lessons for children’s church have been rattling around in my brain the past couple of days. More so since I woke up at 3:00 a.m. which is the time I usually like to get up. I go to bed early at night so I can rise early and start my day while the world is silent.
A couple of cups of coffee, some social media until I wake up enough to work on my writing or children’s curriculum.
The Passport to the Promised Land curriculum that I created and others assisted with turned out successfully. We’re learning to work with flannelgraphs. If you’re not familiar with them, they are felt pieces of characters and items in the Bible that are presented on a large board as a story is told
We’ve also used videos, games and crafts to present unique lessons. We’ve stamped our passports and traveled through the Old Testament with Abraham, Joseph and Moses. We’ll cross the Jordan River in another week and then celebrate along with the Israelites who returned to the land God promised Abraham. We’ll learn that God keeps His promises. He promised to never leave or forsake us. He always keeps His Word.
Now that the holidays are nearly upon us, the focus of our children’s church lessons will be on the events surrounding birth of Jesus and how He brought hope and joy and love into our hearts.
Since those lessons are outlined already, I’m looking ahead to what the Year 2023 will bring.
Our church has saved Vacation Bible School curriculum for many years. I’m coming up with the lesson plans and creating my own curriculum, well, me and the Lord that is. And I brought home the director’s manuals for most of the previous VBS programs.
Last night I started searching through them. Today I did some more indepth searching and also looking up the stories that correspond with the lessons from our Betty Lukens Bible story book that came with the awesome set of flannelgraphs our church ordered last spring. We’ve used the flannelgraphs, which are bright and colorful, along with the stories in several of our lessons, successfully.
Last winter and spring, I taught the Bible in chronological sequence beginning with Jesus growing up as a boy and getting lost at the temple. Well, He wasn’t lost. He knew exactly where He was, in His Father’s House. His parents lost track of Him.
After that story we followed Jesus’ teaching and miracles, his death and resurrection and ascension (Return to heaven). Then we continued with Pentecost and the Acts of the disciples in May.
For 2023, I intend to do something similar but with all new stories and lessons. We’ll have the opportunity to put the flannelgraphs to good use..
I spent time last night and this morning organizing most of the lessons into an outline with specific dates and stories we’ll be learning. I’ve marked pages of the VBS directors’ manuals to search more thoroughly and gather ideas from.
I see some exciting things in our future!
God is on the Move!
I’m excited about the possibilities for the future, both for my local church and one day when I publish these lesson plans and make them available to other churches.
Sometimes we have only one child. Usually three or four. A couple of times we’ve had 9 children, and that is exciting when that happens. But we still do the lesson and work the program as much as possible for one or two children as we do eight or nine. Or 12, or 20.
Each child deserves our best effort and the full impact of the lessons.
You see, I grew up in a little country church. We didn’t even have indoor plumbing. The congregation faded away, until it was just our family and a couple of other people before the church closed.
Yet we always had Sunday School. We sang choruses in the opening and had class time. Our teachers prepared the lessons for us even though we were the only ones in the class.
The foundation of my faith began in that little church with those dedicated teachers.
I hope that the lessons we teach will be the foundation on which our children in my local church will build their faith, also.
God is on the Move!
The link to a song by this title is below. The lyrics are very meaningful to me. As evidenced in my own life in the past two days, God moves when we surrender to Him and move from the darkness into the light.