Monday, June 29, 2009

The Last Day of School


The boys are heading off to their last day of school this morning.

This is how the little guy came home from school last week. Used to be just the girls wore paint on their face. Heh.

On Thursday, I picked up Jessie after her final exam and drove her out to the Circle Square Ranch where she's counselling for most of the summer.

And so today is my last day of quiet until July 26th when they all head off on different adventures. That's a month away!

If I want quiet there's always the RV out there under the apple trees. It's just that we've been having problems with our riding lawn mower and the grass is high between the house and the RV. Not over the knee high, but anything higher than the ankles could be hiding ticks. And if you've read my earlier posts, you know ticks freak me out.

But this year, I can go into our converted garage . . . er . . . Rec Centre and get away from all the electronic noise in the house. I tried it out last night when Nelson and the boys were watching a movie and I had homework to do. The Rec Centre was dark but Nelson had set up the old computer desk near the west window and with the sun setting, I had plenty of light streaming in through the trees. With just one window open to catch a breeze, the room was cool instead of stifling. And it was quiet if I didn't count the birds chattering away. I was out there for the length of the movie and was able to complete my homework assignment from the Roses Plotting Bootcamp I'm taking this month.

So today, when the boys get off the bus for the last time until Sept, after a reasonable social interlude - say 30 mins tops - I'm going out to the Rec Centre to continue working and the boys can make all the noise they want in the house.

Hmmm . . . this'll be a good time for Nick to learn how to cook, eh. Heh.

And how about you . . . is there a major change in your house at this time of year? How do you or will you cope?

Book Review: The Prodigal's Return


The Prodigal’s Return by Lynn Bulock Love Inspired #144, July 01

This is a great book. I like the fact it explores the relationship between a father and his daughter, God and His people, and cops and their kids. There are so many levels to this story and it all works well together.

Laurel Harrison has been living in California but she wants an excuse to return home to Missouri. She finds the perfect opportunity when her father, the local sheriff, falls ill. No sooner does she get to town when she starts getting tickets from her father’s deputy who seems to be missing tact when it comes to certain citizens in town – like the sheriff’s daughter.

Deputy Tripp Jordan doesn’t believe in playing favorites to anyone. If you’re illegally parked, you get a ticket. If you speed, you get a ticket. It doesn’t matter if you’re the mayor or the sheriff’s daughter. Tripp has a rule book and he abides by it. Of course the problems start when his teenage daughter comes to live with him because that’s a whole new set of rules. And it’s hard giving tickets to someone as attractive as Laurel who offers a helping hand at every turn.

As her father heals, Laurel must make the agonizing decision whether to go back to California for good, or take a chance with her work and heart in Missouri.

Heat level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great (A keeper)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Book Review: A Soldier's Reunion


A Soldier’s Reunion (Wings of Refuge Book 4) by Cheryl Wyatt Love Inspired #496, Jun 09

This is an excellent book by an author who knows all the ins and outs of military life. Cheryl Wyatt easily weaves the jobs of pararescue jumpers with civilian life and gives us a glimpse of the hardships these brave men face when it seems they must choose between love and career. The book starts with a heart-stopping rescue attempt by the civilian heroine after a major bridge collapse and delves into the world of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which many believe only soldiers suffer. The author, a former RN, shows otherwise. This book is rife with romantic tension.

Mandy Manchester’s world centers around her chosen career in the medical field after being dumped by the man she’d hinged all her dreams on 10 yrs earlier. She puts her skills to good use when the bridge she’s driving on collapses and she watches in terror as numerous cars slide off the broken bridge and plunge into the dark river. Her car is the next to go but miraculously stops at the edge. Her training kicks in and she starts checking injured motorists including a school bus full of little kids. But with the broken bridge blocking one exit and a burning tanker on the other, how will they get to safety?

Nolan Briggs can’t believe his eyes when he sees his Manda Panda awaiting rescue on the crippled bridge. It’s been a long time since he left his teenage sweetheart with promises of writing to her but for whatever reason, she never wrote him back. When he realizes she’s holding a major grudge, it begins to dawn on Nolan that she still feels abandoned. But that would mean her feelings were still involved, right?

Mandy doesn’t want anything to do with Nolan although the guy is persistant and slowly breaking down the wall around her heart. But is he hanging around because he wants her or because he wants her to seek treatment after exhibiting signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after watching all those people die in the river?

Heat Level: Affectionate

My Rating: Excellent - 5 stars (one to re-read; Top 10 list)

The Wings of Refuge Series:
Book 1 - Jan 08 – A Soldier’s Promise Love Inspired #430
Book 2 - Mar 08 – A Soldier’s Family Love Inspired #438
Book 3 - Apr 09 – Ready-Made Family Love Inspired #490
Book 4 - Jun 09 – A Soldier’s Reunion Love Inspired #496
Book 5 - Oct 09 – Soldier Daddy Love Inspired #520
Book 6 - Jan 10 – A Soldier’s Devotion
Book 7 - Spring 2010 – Home Sweet Hero (tentative title)
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Book Review: Ready-Made Family


Ready-Made Family (Wings of Refuge Book 3) by Cheryl Wyatt Love Inspired #490, Apr 09

This was another great book about the pararescue jumpers of Refuge, Illinois. I’m enjoying the series by Cheryl Wyatt who integrates racial differences in her stories as easily as personalities and careers. In this book, she not only introduced the bigotry that can occur between whites and Asians due to the Vietnam war, but also racism between so-called average and handicapped people, in this case, Mosaic Down’s Syndrome.

Pararescue jumper Ben Dillinger is in a parking lot minding his own business when a little girl begs him to help rescue her mother from their crashed vehicle. As the mother recuperates in the hospital, Ben learns she is ‘between jobs and homes’ and finds himself falling for her. He wants to help her get a job so she and her daughter will stay in Refuge and he can get to know them better. As he sees it, his biggest problem is his inability to admit he has a brother with special needs who will soon move in with him. He loves his brother and has grown out of his childhood embarrassment about his brother’s special needs – at least he’s sure has – it’s just that he wants a bit more time before springing the news.

Amelia North is enroute a new job when she faints while driving and crashes. In the hospital, she’s amazed when her normally introvert daughter acts like she’s known Ben Dillinger forever. Although drawn to the tall Asian, he’s too bossy for Amelia’s liking. But as Ben shows himself to be a friend she can depend on and hints at becoming more, a heavy foreboding comes over her. She’s trying to make peace with her estranged parents but if there’s one thing her dad always said, it was not to hook up with an Asian or don’t bother going back home.

Prejudice is an ugly thing and cannot be tolerated but if it came to choosing between Ben and her father, whom would she pick?

Heat Level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great (A Keeper)

The Wings of Refuge Series:
Book 1 - Jan 08 – A Soldier’s Promise Love Inspired #430
Book 2 - Mar 08 – A Soldier’s Family Love Inspired #438
Book 3 - Apr 09 – Ready-Made Family Love Inspired #490
Book 4 - Jun 09 – A Soldier’s Reunion Love Inspired #496
Book 5 - Oct 09 – Soldier Daddy Love Inspired #520
Book 6 - Jan 10 – A Soldier’s Devotion
Book 7 - Spring 2010 – Home Sweet Hero (tentative title)

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Book Review: The Preacher's Wife

The Preacher’s Wife by Cheryl St John Love Inspired Historical June 09

Cheryl St John has written a great book for her first Love Inspired novel. After writing many Harlequin Historicals which have a higher level of sensuality, the author still conveyed the emotions and conflict necessary to an entertaining book. She picked her characters and their traits well and I really enjoyed reading this book.

Badgered by her late husband’s mother, Josie Randolph makes the weekly trek to his graveyard although she longs to put the past behind and start a new life. Josie is a nurturer. With inherited wealth, she doesn’t need a job to maintain her lifestyle so she volunteers at the parsonage, keeping house and taking care of the injured pastor. A widower, the lonely pastor proposes to Josie. A marriage based on friendship seems to be what they both need. Yet, Josie hesitates.

Enroute his new post, Samuel Hart has just faced an unbearable hardship. He lost his wife and his daughters lost their mother. Sadness and guilt hangs over the quartet like a soggy blanket. Sam has no idea how he’ll cope with the girls and his work, but he’s a preacher and has faith it’ll work out. He sees the lonely widow working at the parsonage where he stops for awhile as interim pastor. After watching her offer empathy and wisdom to his daughters, Samuel feels led to offer marriage. She’ll be a suitable caregiver as well as a preacher’s wife but that’s as far as his intentions go.

Suddenly faced with 2 proposals, Josie picks Samuel. She already feels an affinity for his daughters and she’s half way in love with him. When it’s time for Samuel to leave the parsonage behind, Josie, as his new wife, goes with him. But being a wife and feeling like a wife are two different things when the husband’s heart isn’t involved.

Heat Level: Affectionate

My Rating: Great - 4 stars (a keeper)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Family Reunion 2009

My long anticipated Family Reunion weekend is over. Everyone left. The house is quiet. Time to reflect…

Friday afternoon, soon after the kids came home from school, a strange car came down the driveway with Ontario license plates. My dad, whom I hadn’t seen in about 15 yrs, and his new wife had arrived. Strong, emotional hugs. Good hugs. Hubby led the way to our partially renovated garage, now christened the Rec Centre, which he’d cleaned and furnished. Fabric covered the windows, a radio sat on a small dinette table. Even a rug beside the bed. I was quite impressed. Grandpa and Grandma (G&G) deemed it suitable and moved right in. Since they are avid golfers, we enjoyed a round of Golf later on that evening as we introduced them to the Wii game system.

Saturday dawned hot and muggy. Two more vehicles arrived in time for lunch: my sister and her hubby in the one with Manitoba plates, and their daughter from 2 hrs west of us, in the other. Everyone was now here. The kids went to work putting up the dome tent and filling it with sleeping bags and their electronic games. Meanwhile, the adults were bowling in the living room.

After supper, we all moved into the Rec Centre for a game of Pictionary. Two teams with 5 people each, 1 white board, lots of colored markers. Perfect. Thirty minutes into the game, a thunderstorm moved in but we were cozy so we played on. Not long after, the power went out and plunged us into darkness. Within minutes, with an oil lamp shining on the game board, and a flashlight aimed at the white board, we pressed on. Someone noticed the tent had collapsed so it was carried into the sunroom away from the elements. Lightening flashed through the windows, thunder reverberated through the building, the little guy trembled in fright and still we played on. And it was fun! More noise than substance, the storm ended before our game did. As we laughed our way back to the house, 2 of the kids decided to sleep in the tent after all, so it was dragged back out and set up with their stuff still inside.

Another storm with lots of rain passed over the farm during the night. Sunday morning, the little guy awoke at 0530 and ran to see if the tent was still there. I found out later, when he saw the collapsed tent, he ran back in for his camera and took photos of it before rescuing the occupants who were soaking wet but still asleep.

When we all got back from church, we took family photos in the yard – in a light drizzle. Since everyone wanted to play the Wii, we did. Bowling, tennis, baseball and even boxing. I couldn’t decide if I had more fun playing or watching others play, but it sure was fun. During this time, my niece made home-made whole wheat pitas for supper but as another storm system rolled in, she said her goodbyes and left before eating with us. Good thing because it poured soon after and that gravel road to the highway was mucky enough. After supper, the Wii games continued.

Early this morning, hubby drove older son to school where his class was heading out on a 3 day camping trip. Shortly after, the school bus came along and picked up the little guy. (Jessie stayed home to study for afternoon exams.) Within a couple hours, G&G were headed east to Ontario/Michigan followed by my sister and her hubby going back to Northern Manitoba. Hubby, on his last day off, and I waved at the departing cars. A cool breeze blew through the quiet, empty house. The 2009 Family Reunion was over.

I'm so thankful I had this chance to see my dad again after all these years, and it was truly a blessing to meet his gracious wife. It will take them 4 days to get back home and I'm praying they arrive safely. I miss them already…

And how was your weekend?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's Saturday!

It's a gorgeous day here in SE Saskatchewan 20C/70F already at 8:15 am with a forecast high of 30C/86F.

My dad and stepmom have settled in to the semi-converted garage and seem to like it. Nelson set up a nice bedroom area including kitchen table and chairs, radio, and even the PS2 gaming system. Looks more like a room under renovations rather than a coverted garage.

I'm hosting Christine Rimmer, a favourite author of mine, over at the Prairie Chicks. She's talking about Plot Groups and giving away a free book so pop over and leave a comment.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book Review: A Passion Denied

A Passion Denied (The Daughters of Boston Book 3) by Julie Lessman 2009 Revell Books

How does she do it? Every time I read a book by Julie Lessman, I think there’s no way she can top it—and then she does it with the next one and it goes straight to my Top 10 list, again. I am a fan for life and will buy anything this author writes.

Just like the title states, this book delves into the life of denied passion. Denied on the part of the heroine because the man she loves treats her like a child. Denied on the part of the hero because he refuses to acknowledge his love for the heroine. Denied in the lives of 3 other couples we’ve met in previous books as they face the challenging life called matrimony.

Elizabeth O’Connor, previously known as Beth, is the younger sister to Faith in Book 1 and Charity in Book 2. Beth was the quiet sister. Unimposing, well-mannered, serene.

She’s now an adult and in an effort to seem more modern and vivacious, she’s changed her name to Lizzie. She’s also sporting a trendy new bob in the hopes John Brady will shed his ‘little girl’ opinion of her as fast as she shed her locks. He’s been her spiritual mentor for years and over that time they’ve shared many confidences. Her love for him isn’t that of a school girl but of a young woman ready to marry the man of her dreams and stand by him during adversity. She’s got one tough road ahead of her, though because Brady is a self-professed loner.

Brady harbors a secret which is hinted at yet not fully disclosed until the book is near it’s end. This secret is so sinister, it not only keeps him awake at night, it stops him getting close to anyone. Sure, he admits his love for Beth – for he refuses to call her Lizzie – but only as a sister. He won’t allow himself to go beyond that.

As Lizzie grows into the lovely woman God intended, Brady is forced to watch her blossom. He’s tempted. She knows it. But he resists. How long will she wait? Give and take. Who will win?

And while Lizzie and Brady dance around each other, we have a chance to revisit Faith and Collin who’ve been married a couple years and have a very modern problem. Faith loves her career. Collin wants her to stay home and raise a family. Do you think their passion for each other is affected during this time? You betcha.

And we have a chance to revisit the lives of Charity and Mitch who are expecting their first child. Apparently, Mitch has terrorizing memories of his mother in childbirth. Do you think their passion for each other is affected during this time? You betcha.

We also revisit the marriage of Marcy and Patrick who’ve been steadfast in their faith and love for each other for over 2 decades. When an old friend shows up and unleashes secrets Marcy hoped Patrick would never discover, do you think their passion for each other is affected? You betcha.

This book doesn’t just skim along the surface of people’s lives. It gets down to an emotional and physical level you rarely see in inspirational books today, but is so much a part of our real lives.

Heat Level: Sensual (There is nothing in this book that today’s teen couldn’t read.)

My Rating: Excellent - 5 stars (one to re-read; definitely a keeper)

The Daughters of Boston:
Book 1 – A Passion Most Pure (Faith and Collin)
Book 2 – A Passion Redeemed (Charity and Mitch)
Book 3 – A Passion Denied (Elizabeth and John Brady) In Stores Now
Book 4 – Refuge From the Storm (Katie and Cluny)


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book Review: A Passion Redeemed

A Passion Redeemed (The Daughters of Boston Book 2) by Julie Lessman 2008 Revell Books

Wow! Julie Lessman has written another emotional gut-wrenching story that brings fictional people explosively to life. This is not a book about a ‘goody-two-shoes’ waiting for the man God has promised her. No, in this book, Charity O’Connor decides who she wants and goes after him. And if she has to use all her feminine charms and tell some lies in the process, well so be it because she’s determined to get what she wants.

We first met Charity in the first Daughters of Boston series when she interfered between her sister and the love of her life. Due to circumstances in her childhood with her sister and father, Charity wears this ‘nobody loves me’ persona. She’s grown to take what she can get because she thinks she won’t get anything otherwise. This mentality rules her life. She seems so selfish when she’s not as can be seen with her relationship with her grandmother and great-grandma.

It’s just that she has this tunnel vision where Mitch is concerned. We also met Mitch in Book 1 because he was engaged to Charity’s sister for awhile – before Charity broke up that liaison, too.

Mitch is such a nice guy. He really only has one downfall – he can’t see anything but Charity when she’s around. She has the ability to tie him in knots and turn him into a blathering idiot. She’s like a drug he can’t quit. But he tries oh, so hard to resist her.

This book travels from Boston to Ireland and back to Boston again as Charity chases Mitch and almost loses herself in the journey. And It takes us from the genteel society to the darkness of disillusionment where people aren’t who they appear to be.

This is a story of faith and redemption regardless of your past and the assurance God loves you regardless.

Heat Level: Sensual (My teen has never dated but I want her to read this book)

My Rating: Excellent - 5 stars (one to re-read; definitely a keeper) My Top 10 list

The Daughters of Boston:
Book 1 – A Passion Most Pure (Faith and Collin)
Book 2 – A Passion Redeemed (Charity and Mitch)
Book 3 – A Passion Denied (Elizabeth and John Brady)
Book 4 – Refuge from the Storm (Katie and Cluny)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sample My Writing

Do you want to see a sample of my writing?

I was chosen to write chapter 7 in eharlequin's Pass the Plot with Harlequin Historical author Joanne Rock. We were given certain words and phrases to use and the writer who used them the most wins the Pass the Plot title.

So, I've been busy writing and my Chap 7 went online last night at http://community.eharlequin.com/forums/write-stuff/pass-plot-joanne-rock

You don't need to be a member to read it. Just click over and read.

And then if you wish, come on back and tell me what you really think. Since it's been posted, I've picked up a couple things I'd change. (Like using the word anguish twice and close together.) *sigh*

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I'm at 3 Places at Once Today

Yes, for the first time ever, I'm at 3 places at once! Yay!

First, it's my regular day to post at http://www.prairiechickswriteromance.blogspot.com/ . We're discussing genres, sub-genres and even chick/hen lit too and want to know what's the current situation with it. If you know, please respond either here or there. The questions I'm asking there are:
Have I listed them all? Is the genre of your work in progress (wip) or manuscript (ms) listed here? Do you believe you can change genres half way through and add in the missing element without starting from the beginning?

Second, I have a post online at http://cherylstjohn.blogspot.com/2009/06/anita-mae-draper-on-idb-datamaster.html . So, if you have a few mins, (yeah, right, eh) maybe meander over there for a look-see.

Thanks. Have a great day!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Jessie's Graduation

Last Saturday, my 2nd child graduated from high school. This was her special night.



Here she is in our van as she waits for her escort to meet us.










Jessie and her friend and escort, Nick Yoner enjoying their meal.






From left to right: Nick Draper, Jessica Draper, Nick Yoner, Grandma Draper, Anita Mae Draper with JJ in front, Nelson Draper.








Jessie dancing with her Dad











Noelle Bonk took this photo at Tim Horton's where they all went in the wee hours of the morning. That's a long way for coffee!
My poor baby had such a long day.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Jessie's Grad is Today

Today is my daughter's graduation. Jessica is wearing a princess dress only a doting father would buy for his daughter. I'll post pictures when I have them.

And I'd love to tell you more but I have a very big day starting with going into the city to pick my mother-in-law.

So have a good weekend and I'll talk to you soon.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Prairie Chicks - Retreat Aftermath

You know, I loved going on the writing retreat last week and I'd like to go next year, but if you want to know what it was like when I got home after being away, check out my post at Prairie Chicks Write Romance.

The mail 'Rules' feature I'm talking about is one of those things I've seen in Outlook, but didn't have time to check out. I mean, who wants to read up on rules, eh? Really.

Anyway, on top of all the stuff I need to do before my daughter's graduation this Sat, now I have homework. It's okay though, even as a kid, I liked homework. :)

Do you/have you ever liked homework?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

May is Over - Already?

It’s already June the 2nd! Do you realize in 3 wks the days are going to start getting shorter again? Yikes!

Writing-wise:

May has been a month of decisions. I wanted to register for the American Christian Fiction Writers conference to be held in Sept in Denver this year. Before I could do that, I needed to choose the workshops I wanted to attend. I also needed to pick the editors and agents I wanted to pitch my manuscript to but I need something new to show them. Alternately, I could pitch my old stuff to new editors but I’d rather pitch to those who’ve asked me to show them something else.

So, I’m back to working on Translucent Trust, the suspense I started during Book in a Week this past January. And, to make sure I get it right, I’ve signed up at http://rosescoloredglasses.com/ for an online Plotting Bootcamp course. Yes, I’ll get to my homework as soon as I post this to my blog.

I spent the last few days of May at a writing retreat where I worked on revisions to Marry Me, Ma’am, my contemporary western which is under consideration at The Wild Rose Press. The retreat featured good food, comfy beds and a peaceful atmosphere conducive to writing.

I submitted a 1000 word suspense entry, Strong as Silk in the end of May eHarlequin's Writer's Challenge. These short, bi-weekly challenges of defined topic and length give me practice to keep my writing tight.

Reading-wise:

The mail brought a copy of Cheryl St John’s first ever Love Inspired Historical, The Preacher’s Wife which is a June 09 release. I love the cover. It emanates home and comfort, love and warmth. I actually won it on the Petticoats and Pistols blog one day. Cheryl will be at Prairie Chicks Write Romance on June 13th as part of her blog tour and I’ll have to ask about her unique address label.

This month I also received in the mail a copy of Janice Lynn’s Medical Romance, Surgeon Boss, Surprise Dad. I won this book when Anna Sudgen hosted Janice at Writers at Play and am very anxious to read it because I love secret baby stories.

The 3rd book I received in the mail was Julie Lessman’s, A Passion Denied. This is Book 3 in the Daughters of Boston series and I’d been hanging on to Book 2, A Passion Redeemed, until I had them both. Julie will be at Prairie Chicks Write Romance on June 27th as part of her blog tour and I want to send a big Woo Hoo out to her because A Passion Redeemed is a finalist in the Inspirational Reader's Choice contest.

Okay, now that you know what I’ve been doing, what have you been up to?
What do you want to get done in June?