Friday, October 31, 2014

Eastern State Penitentiary

Many year ago, hubby and I visited the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. The prison started out as a great idea for the Quakers assumed people were inherently good. Therefore, the penitentiary was built so that those incarcerated would have time to reflect on the bad things they did and return to good behavior.

Each inmate had a private cell. The only book with each prisoner was a Bible. They did not talk to anyone. They each had a private yard to walk in for exercise.

It was, in truth, solitary confinement. Evidently, a lot of inmates went crazy and the system changed.

Al Capone stayed there briefly. He had a rather nicely appointed cell--with a radio, lamp, rug, armchair, and desk.

We were told that the prison holds reunions every year.

The audio tour is great and part of the price of admission. It is an interesting place to see. I hear they have some awesome Halloween tours. :^)

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Inspirational Medieval Romance, The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia

Today I would like to introduce you to Rachel James. She grew fascinated with the medieval time period as a child. Dubbed a bookworm from a young age, Rachel found herself surrounded by places steeped in history and adventure. She enjoyed trips with her family to visit nearby derelict castles and Roman ruins, and that coupled with a zealous imagination and love for stories, sparked her interest in knights, fortresses and ancient kingdoms.

Born and bred in England, Rachel writes adventure driven historical romance, she is also a pastor’s wife, and has three beautiful little princesses. She minored in creative writing at university and strives to entertain, inspire and encourage others in their own spiritual journey. She’s also captivated by romantic tales… combine it with a little history and a hot cup of tea, and she’s smitten! Find her at

Rachel has written an Inspirational Medieval Romance, The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia.

The story is set in 616AD, when one fatal night the ancient Kingdom of Elmetia falls. Saxons kill the Elmetian King, and capture Princess Teagen. Teagen poses as a slave girl and works for the Saxons in the Kingdom of Deira, until she discovers her brother is alive. She finds a way to escape, and her path crosses with Ryce the Warrior.

Struggling with his past, and angry against the tyrant Saxon king, Ryce helps the princess in pursuit of her brother. But just as the connection between them intensifies, obstacles get in their way. The Saxon king now wants vengeance, and will stop at nothing to get it.


616 AD, The Kingdom of Elmetia

Teagen scrambled under the table as the first fire-drenched arrow shot through the sky. Within seconds, thatched rooftops blazed and smoke bellowed throughout the palace. Frantic screams replaced the joyful music playing moments before.

“Princess,” Teagen’s nurse hissed from behind a wooden bench. “Are ye injured?”

“Nay.” She cast a wary glance as the battle unfolded before her. “What’s happening? Is it Saxons?”

Her nurse stretched her arm over and stroked her hair. “Aye, princess. Seems to be. Now stay put here while I find yer brother.”

Teagen flinched. “Don’t leave me Dera, please—Niall will be with Papa, they’ll be safe.”

Dera’s face paled. “I hope not, lassie, for yer brother’s sake, I pray he’s not.”

What could she mean? Was Papa in trouble?

She jumped out from her hiding place. “Then I’ll come with ye—”

Dera pushed her down firmly. “Nay, ‘tis not safe. Whatever ye do, do not let them capture ye, understand?”

She nodded, dumbfounded as Dera disappeared.

Grabbing the bottom of her long silk dress, she covered her face in an attempt to subdue the nausea that welled within. She wouldn’t look. She couldn’t. Where was Papa? She needed him right now, to hold her, and keep her safe.


A wave of relief washed over her. “Papa!” Teagen ran toward him, tears threatening her eyes.

“Shhh, lassie.” Her father scooped her up and headed for the kitchen just off the Great Hall. He opened a small stone cupboard and placed her inside.

“Stay in here, do ye understand? Do not come out until yer brother gets ye.”

“Please don’t leave me, Papa. Everyone keeps leaving me.” She tasted the salty tears that streamed her face.

Her father stroked her cheek. “Oh, lassie, I love ye so much. Ye know this, don’t ye?”

She nodded.

“Now be a brave girl and stay put.”

She gave her father a lingering hug and breathed in his comforting musky scent, her eyes averting his blood stained tunic. As he shut the cupboard door, the sound of the latch closing sent shivers through her body. The darkness did not mask the coldness of the damp stone walls, or the stale air which stifled her breathing. A sob lodged in her throat. I need to be brave for Papa.

Muffled sounds from outside grew louder—the clash of iron on iron, the collapse of buildings, and cries for help.

“King Ceretic is dead!”

Teagen stopped breathing. It could not be true.

“And what of the rest of the family?”

“Not yet found.”

“We do not leave until they are dead. Burn everything, and gather the survivors—we’ll take them to the slave market.”

She squeezed her eyes together, shutting out the fuzzy sensation that threatened to overtake her. Please, God. Nay. There surely must be some mistake.

Teagen could wait no longer. Despite her father’s strict instructions, she pushed open the door and fell on the kitchen floor. She gasped in a huge breath of air and scrambled to the doorway. Soldiers littered the outside, and in the centre, stood the Saxon King—Edwin the Tyrant. Her stomach lurched as she saw the remains of her father’s body.

Oh, Heavenly Father.

She collapsed to the ground. If her father was dead, it meant her brother Niall would likely be too. She studied the hem of her fine tunic and caressed the intricate beading Dera had sewn on the day before.

She stiffened. If they discovered her true identity as the king’s daughter, she too would be slain. She had to get out of these clothes. Her eyes rested on the dead bodies piled up outside the kitchen entrance and her heart broke as she spotted one of her friends lying on the ground. She kept low, reached out and pulled her friend further inside the kitchen.

“I’m sorry, Hilda,” she whispered to the girl, “but I’m going to need yer clothes. Ye won’t have use for them anymore.” She closed the girl’s eyelids, said a quick prayer, and removed the simple tunic and redressed her young friend in her own grand attire.

She ran out of the kitchen and toward the oak tree at the top of the hill, knowing she would be seen. She perched under a sloping branch and gazed out—her entire world ablaze. Soldiers rummaged through the dead bodies looking for valuables to keep for themselves. Teagen covered her ears as cries penetrated the night. Curling herself into a ball, she cradled her arms around her knees and rocked herself back and forth watching her kingdom fall. They were coming for her, it was simply a matter of time. To survive this night, her identity would have to be forgotten.

Watch the book trailer!

Connect with Rachel: 

Buy on  Amazon

Friday, October 17, 2014

Looking for a Sign

My mother had red hair when she was young. Later on in life, she let her hair go gray. But sometimes, my father would still call her "Red" instead of her name. I believe he was quite taken with the fact that he had captured the heart of a beautiful redheaded woman.

Just after they celebrated their sixty-second anniversary, my mother died. However, my father continues to believe she is watching out for him.

Actually, I think so, too.

On Monday, my father suffered a stroke, which affected his right side. I sat beside him in the ER all day while he underwent numerous tests.

Directly opposite him, in a direct line of sight, a woman with red hair waited on a gurney for treatment. She was probably in her late fifties. She calmly read a book while the hustle and bustle of a very crowded ER went on about her.

Dad stared at her for a while. "Is that a sign?" he asked.

I knew exactly what he meant, but I shrugged it off.

A little while later, he asked, "Is her hair color real?"

I smiled at that question, but again I shrugged. However, I went searching for the nurse a little while later and passed right by the woman on the gurney. The roots of her hair were not red.

I returned to my father and whispered in his ear. "Her hair is not really red. She uses hair color."

He nodded and smiled. Nevertheless, he still believes it was a sign.

Maybe it was. Just a little bit of hope in the ER is good medicine.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Gay N. Lewis and Sarah, Heaven’s Little Love Angel

Today I am pleased to present Gay N. Lewis, a native Texan, who lives in a small town west of Houston. She has always been involved with creative and artistic ventures. Two videos she produced—The Canadian Rockies, in English and Japanese translations, and Psalms from the Mountains, were sold in Canada, America, as well as all international markets.

Her real love is writing. As a pastor’s wife, she has written, produced, and photographed many programs. Her Faith Features have been published in various church periodicals.

Teaching an adult Bible study every Sunday morning is Gay’s joy, and she is often called upon for speaking engagements. When needed, she plays the piano or organ and serves as worship leader in her husband’s church.

Currently, she has been writing a series about Sarah, a dyslexia angel, for the Prism Book Group. You can read excerpts at

In fact, Sarah has her own Facebook page. You can follow Sarah @Sarah Wingspand.

Gay shared a candid moment with me which illustrates her hope for everyone to be accepted and appreciated.
In an early church my hubby pastored, a stately gentleman came to the parsonage to express his concern. A lady wanted to become a member, but she had a well-known, scandalous background. My husband agreed to chat with the woman and did so. She assured him she’d changed her lifestyle and had no plans to return to it. Paul stood before the congregation, told the group this dear lady had asked God to forgive her, and God had done so. He went on to say that it wasn’t our place to judge anyone.  The congregation accepted this sweet lady, and no word was ever spoken against her.  She became a popular person in our midst and was able to use her many talents for the Lord and His church. 
Years later, my husband was senior pastor of a sizeable church, and I taught Bible study to women who were twenty something. I usually had a large number each Sunday morning, but one particular Sunday, there were two of us—one other plus me.  I asked a teacher in an adjoining class if we could visit for the lesson.  She immediately said, “No, you can’t come in here.” She later apologized and said she’d responded that way because I intimidated her. 
Rejection hurts people and shouldn’t take place in church. As a pastor’s wife, I’ve seen it happen.   Felt it too. Everyone needs a place of worship where they feel comfortable, accepted and appreciated.  
When I wrote Sarah and a Dad for Mandy, I had a few of these situations in mind. Galena, Mandy’s mother, didn’t know who fathered her child. Matt, the minister, realized his church would not receive Galena in a cordial fashion. This story is written from Sarah, the angel’s point of view. Sarah wants to defend Galena and wishes to bring inconveniences to all the people who give Galena the cold shoulder. Of course, that’s a problem in itself and leads to hilarious results. 
Many authors write from their own experiences. I think that’s what makes a book poignant. As I wrote about Galena and Mandy, my heart went out to them, but I also laughed at Sarah’s antics. 
Sarah and a Dad for Mandy is the third novella in a trilogy that began with Sarah and the Internet Dating Service. The second in the trilogy is Sarah and the Scary Ferris Wheel. The reader becomes acquainted with all the characters in the first book.Each book stands alone, but when all three are read together, they become a complete novel. The eBooks are .99 each, and the print bundle of all three will soon be available.

Sarah and a Dad for Mandy will be released tomorrow. Here's the book blurb:

The Superiors left Sarah, “Heaven’s Little Love Angel," on Earth to complete the third consecutive and inter-related mission. With instructions to find a mate for Galena Maddox and a dad for six year old Mandy, Sarah should have no problem, right? Well except that dyslexic Sarah, known for bungles and goof ups, creates more mayhem than she ever imagined possible. Pesky human disguises cause her trouble--again. In mortal form, she either injures people or embarrasses herself. At this undertaking, the earthlings think she’s a fugitive from a mental hospital. Sarah wonders about the challenges of the new assignment. With her shady past, will Matt Austin, a minister, consider Galena as a wife? If Sarah can bring them together, will Matt’s hoity-toity church accept Galena?Angels shouldn’t worry, but this task is daunting.

Maybe if Sarah doesn’t attempt to wear those red stilettos she loves, she’ll stay upright and succeed, but foregoing those shoes for Sarah might be impossible.

For more information, please go to
Gay would love to have you see her video trailers and become a follower of her blog.
You can find all her books at:
She's on Twitter  @GayNLewis2
Visit her Facebook page:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Playing With Photos

I subscribe to Penny Sansevievi's newsletter, which offers great marketing tips for authors. Yesterday, she mentioned three photo imaging sites. Of the three, I had not heard of Canva, but after playing with it for a while, I was hooked. Oh yes, I spent too much of my writing time having fun with photos yesterday. At Canva, there are a variety of templates--including Facebook covers and Kindle covers. I take photos constantly--the image above is one of my own. However, Canva has images available for purchase at the terrific price of $1. There are free backgrounds, but the fancier ones are priced at $1, too.

So check it out. I sure hope I get some more time to play with it today. :-)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Grist for the Mill

Old Mill, Oil Painting by Irene S. Kierce
Many years ago, I attended a talk given by Mary Higgins Clark at the Monmouth County Eastern Branch Library. I hung on every word for that was very early in my quest to become a published author. One thing she said--over and over--remains ingrained in my memory. She claimed everything in life is "grist for the mill." In other words, all the various situations we experience in life, whether good or bad, can be used in our fiction.

That does not mean a writer can jumble together a series of episodes and expect it to be a book. A novel has to make sense. It has to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Most of the time, life doesn't make ANY sense, but fiction should lend the impression of reality. It is more real than real life.

When a writer has gone through a particular life experience, he or she can detail that time with such truth that it will resonate with readers. Writers are often told to write what they know. However, a writer doesn't have to break a leg to write about that type of pain. If the writer's sister broke her leg, the author would have a very good frame of reference to include that situation into his or her own story.

I don't have to get a divorce to understand the trial of that separation. I have friends and relatives who needed to vent when they were enduring the terrible dissolution of their marriage. I was a sympathetic listener. Really, that's all it takes.

Being a good listener is one of the best things an author can do to improve their writing. Everyone has stories to tell. If you want to put a mountain climber in your story, but you haven't climbed a mountain, find someone who has and would enjoy telling you about it.

Everyone's life experience can be your "grist for the mill." Keep your ears open. You could become a better writer.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Fleamarket Photo

This is one of my favorite photos of hubby taken not long after we were married. It makes me laugh--but he is still going to fleamarkets and antique stores and looking through junk to find gems. He used to collect old records--truly ancient stuff. However, he gave that up and now runs around the fleamarkets looking for old accordions. Sometimes, he finds them.