Marriages Up in Smoke

No one gets married with the intent of getting divorced…I take that back. Leanna and Garrison, the characters in my latest novel, “Up in Smoke” do. And actually, I’ve heard stories of other couples that have done the same thing. Crazy, right?

But, for the most part, I’d say it’s safe to say that MOST couples never intend to divorce. However, nearly 50% of couples will divorce.

Ugh.

It breaks my heart.

It seems everywhere I turn, marriages are falling a part…even the couples in our church are being struck down. Why? Why is this happening? I get that things happen, people make choices, and sometimes choices are made for us against our will.

I’m tapping my pencil, clicking my tongue, wracking my brain trying to grasp why so many marriages are going up in smoke…here’s what I’ve come up with…

1: Transparency

As a society we tend to act like we’re okay when we’re not. Marriage is hard, and it’s okay to admit that, and it’s okay to get help, and glean from the wisdom of others.

2: Sanctity

Perhaps as a society we don’t understand the sanctity of marriage…it’s holiness. It’s a God ordained institution…a ’til death do us part deal. It’s worth our attention, our devotion, our time, energy, and our priority.

3: Purpose

Maybe we don’t understand the purpose of marriage. There’s an end goal, a goal that reaches past our life and into the generations to come. Marriage is a reflection of God’s love for us, and it also serves a safe, strong environment to raise up children. Our actions, good and bad, will be seen for years to come…we are a product of our ancestors, and we have a job to raise up the next generation teaching them about God, and showing them what relationships are meant to be.

I can analyze why marriages are struggling, but that doesn’t help us know HOW to stay together. HOW do we do ’til death do us part and not do it in misery?

1: Be transparent: plug in to a church or solid group of friends; share and care for each other

2: Realize the sanctity of marriage; care for your marriage; protect it; go on dates; make each other a priority

3: Realize marriage has a purpose; it’s worth the ups and downs; it means something that we can’t even really begin to grasp; it’s purpose reaches into the generations…we shape the future with our marriages.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, advice on this topic. 🙂 Any ways you have made your marriage stronger? Need us to pray for your marriage? Let us know. 🙂

 

Save

Building a Strong Marriage: Happiness Isn’t the Goal in Marriage


When the wedding is over, and the guests go home, married-life starts.

Many of my friends, including myself, are or were military wives. We know homecomings, military balls, ceremonies, and mandatory fun events are not the whole of our marriage. These happy times are mixed in with the, well, the not so happy.  
At times it’s easy to love our spouse, and even a wonderful experience to do so, but other times…after kids, juggling schedules, dinner fails, a 60+ hour work week, pay cuts, hurtful words spoken intentional or unintentional, conflict of interests…well, sometimes things like that can make marriage a challenge. 
But that’s ok. We want to build and strengthen something worth fighting for, something worth our time and energy, even if it’s a challenge. Marriage is worth that challenge. Anything God ordains is worth that challenge.
One of the ways we begin to strengthen our marriage is by shifting the focus off of our happiness. Yes, happiness is great and all, but if it’s at the expense of someone else’s happiness, is it even true happiness? Wow, that just got philosophical! 
I argue that a self-seeking pursuit of happiness is not happiness at all, but selfishness. Yes, we have needs, even wants, but by transferring our focus to our spouse and their happiness…well, something close to magic happens…we find happiness—actually, contentment, which is FAR GREATER than happiness. It’s deeper, heartier, full of substance and value, whereas happiness changes on a whim, based on our current situation.
If happiness isn’t the goal of marriage, what is?

That’s a whole other blogpost my friends, but to sum it up, a purpose, but most definitely not the sole purpose of marriage, is to make us into better people as we serve each other in love, putting the other before ourselves. 

How do we do this? How do we stop focusing on happiness as our sole goal in marriage?
   
         1) Think about your spouse. Write down the things they enjoy. What are their goals? What makes them feel loved? Perhaps ask them these things in order to find out, or observe them more often.
Keep this list, and work to meet those goals and do those things that make your spouse feel loved. I HIGHLY recommend learning your spouse’s love language. Check out The 5 Love Languages, and The 5 Love Language: Military Edition.
    
      2) Pray for your spouse. Make a list of things to pray about for them. Here are some suggestions to get started:

  • Pray for their relationship with God to continue to grow.
  • Pray that love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control overflow in and out of their lives. 
  •  Pray for wisdom in the decisions they have to make at work and in the family.
  • Pray for them to get the rest they need at night so they are able to get through the work week.
  • Pray for their self-image—that they would see themselves the way God sees them.
  • Pray for their spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical protection.

Remember, happiness is great, but there’s so much more to marriage that’s worth our time in pursuing–like each other. 

Helping Kids Cope with Deployment

September 11th means many things to Americans–many things we aren’t even able to put into words.

It’s been 14 years.

Doesn’t seem like it.

I’ve often thought it strange that my children cannot remember a time when our country hasn’t been at war, nor do they quite grasp why their Daddy has had to be gone for long periods of time to fight the bad guys.  So today, Dear Readers, we have a special Guest Blogger & Army Wife who is going to talk with us about helping our kids cope with deployment. We want to honor our brave men and women who keep our country safe, and support their families with all the love and encouragement we can muster.
 
Welcome, Julie Provost!
 
~   ~   ~
Helping Kids Cope with Deployment
 
My oldest son was only about 2 years old when his Dad deployed for the first time. By the time my husband deployed for the 2nd time he was 4 and his little brother was 2. By our 3rd deployment my boys were 6, 4 and 2.5 months old. Then the 4th they were 8, 6 and 2.
As I look back over the years I can see how each time they handled the deployment a little differently. This is normal because different kids in different ages tend to do that. Some kids can handle deployments better than others. Sometimes it is because of their personality, but sometimes it is because of their age and how much they can understand.

There is a lot you can do as the Military spouse to help your children cope during a deployment. If you have a small baby, one who can’t even talk yet, you might just keep sharing photos with them. Some people will laminate them and put them up in the nursery. Just so your baby sees their Dad and gets used to his face.

For a toddler or preschoolers it might get a little more difficult. They might not be able to explain to you how they are feeling about the issue but they might act out a little more because they are missing their other parent. It is best to keep that in mind as you go through your day. Try to set up Skype chats if you can and just be there to help them through it.
When your kids get a little older and can understand what the word “war” and “Army” means you can sit down with them and have conversations about it. You can check in with them about how they are doing and what they might be worried about. Have them help you with care packages and have them talk to their Dad as often as possible. Just let them know that you understand how hard it is for them.
 
You can do some fun activities around the house that might help them through it. Have a chain of deployment days. Put up pictures of your spouse. Have them help make the homecoming posters. Get them excited when you know it is coming to an end.

Remember to pray with your kids for Daddy every night. Pray for his safety and the safety of his Company, Unit and the whole Army. It can be a good way for kids to get used to praying for others too.
 
There isn’t a lot you can do to change the fact that your spouse will be deployed when they are in the Military. It happens and could happen more often than you would like. But, you can be there for your kids and get them through the separations. You can be the person that they can always go to when they are feeling too sad about it. You can help them cope.

Tweet: “There is a lot you can do as the #MilitarySpouse to help your children cope during a #deployment.” http://ctt.ec/4Uc1o+


Julie is a blogger & social media addict living in Tennessee. She has been married for 13 years to her National Guard Soldier and has three boys, 10, 8 & 4. You can find her at Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life and on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram.

The Journal & the Journey: The One Who Knows the Way

Not too long ago, I stumbled on an old diary at a flea market. The journal year? 1888.

Wow!

What a treasure for a history lover like myself. Of course I bought it, then struggled whether or not to read it. I wouldn’t want a stranger snooping through my journal! Friends assured me no moral dilemma existed considering the age of the document, and we were all curious, so…well, we read it. 🙂

To our amusement and utter awe, Sierra Hunt, the writer, described her life, and it’s simple, often mundane tasks. With her words, this young teen, transported us back in time. Glorious experience!

Not much changed from Sierra’s day to day routine. School, fetching water, helping Ma in the kitchen. On Sunday she walked to church. She made mention of the weather, social gatherings, a family friend getting ill, and visitors. At times, she seemed frustrated by her simple life, and skipped several days in the journal –a sad thing for all of us reading.

Sierra had grown used to her life, and it’s routine. I found myself able to relate well this young lady of the past. For years I’ve stayed at home with my children, raising them, and moving from state to state with the military. At times the life set before me seemed so rote, and blah. Even as a 21st century grown woman, I understand Sierra’s century old teenage rant.

So we continued to flipped through the journal, thoroughly enjoying each entry, until it stopped mid sentence.

She wrote on July 6, 1888: “Warm & Pleasant. I worked for Mrs. Struthers this forenoon. Sewed some. Scottie [her brother] and I went up and got the “

And that’s it. Nothing more. We’re left wondering where she and Scottie went, what they were doing, and what ever happened to Sierra. Did she finish school? Get married? So many unknowns!

If our lives were a journal, how many unknowns would we have?

For me, plenty.

We don’t know what tomorrow brings, or what our future holds when our paths in life change. We’re on this journey, and our journals are filled with unknowns.

But God knows. He knows what happened to Sierra, and I intend to ask him one day. He knows the paths our lives will take, and we can trust Him with all our unknowns. All of them — the career choices, parenting tips, finances, the good & the bad of it all. I’m learning this day by day as I transition into a new phase of life with my hubby retired from the Army, and my youngest starting school.

A new path doesn’t have to equal uncertainties when we are certain of The One guiding us.


“And whenever you turn to the right or two the left, your ears will hear this command behind you — this is the way, walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

Many blessings, and a journey full of joy for all of you.

Click to Tweet: “A new path doesn’t have to equal uncertainties when we are certain of The One guiding us.” ~Author @hannahrconway http://ctt.ec/6IC6h+

3 Steps to Finding the Grace to Chase a Dream by Cara Putman

http://www.amazon.com/Stars-Night-Cara-C-Putman-ebook/dp/B00EV56C4S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1440123709&sr=8-1&keywords=stars+in+the+nightHello Dear Readers! Today we welcome Award Winning Author Cara Putman! Cara has some great advice to share with us today & will be giving away a copy of her novel, Stars in the Night. Enter to win below!


Without further ado, let’s give Cara a warm welcome!



 

~    ~    ~
ONCE there was a 14-year-old who quickly realized her favorite authors simply could not write books fast enough. Because she was young, she decided she could write books, too. Her mother smiled and allowed her to write as part of her English. Slowly two novels grew on an old computer, paragraph by paragraph, page by page. She loved creating ideas, research, writing. The process delighted her soul, and she wondered if she’d found what she was created to do.
        Then life got busy. College, a career. A husband and a family. Writing was pressed to the perimeter of her life by the busyness of a full life.
                Most days it was enough.
                But some days, the whisper to write became a roaring ache to try. When this occurred, this girl grown into a woman would take the dream to God, hold it in open hands, and ask Him if this was His dream for her. If not, show her so she could kill the dream and focus on His will for her life.
                In due time, He announced it was time to follow her dream. Nine years later she’s awaiting the publication of her 18th and 19th books later this year.
                You may have already guessed: I am that girl. I know what it’s like to have a dream burning inside me and wonder if anything would ever come of it. I want to encourage you. If this is you. If you’re convinced your dreams have disappeared under a pile of laundry, dirty diapers, and grocery lists, that there are ways to live with grace until the appointed time for the dream to burst to life.
                Here’s what I learned on the journey:
1)      Hold the dream loosely. Pry your tight grip from the dream and offer it to God. Ask Him for wisdom to know if this is the time or the dream. Seek Him first. A dream without Him at the center is simply not as fulfilling.
 
2)      Prepare when you can as you can. For me that meant continuing to read voraciously. Through that I had a core understanding of what made a story and characters work. I might not have known all the lingo, but I intuitively gained an education. It also meant I read how-to write novel books. Each time the itch would resurface, you’d find me in the stacks looking for another book, so I could get structural understanding.
3)      Be prepared to run when God gives you the go-ahead. The years since God told me it was time to test the dream have been a whirlwind of work. It has required immense discipline and stick-to-it-iveness. I’ve had to let go of things to make room for the dream. Are you willing to do the same?

Waiting for a dream is hard. But with God’s grace, the waiting can be a time of preparation and drawing closer to Him.

Cara Shares Some of her Faves!

Favorite Dessert:                           Apple pie
Favorite Restaurant:                     Runza   
Favorite Branch of the Military (I won’t judge you if say anything other than Army, lol J): ARMY – My dad flew Heweys in Vietnam and Desert Storm
Favorite Genre of Music:              Praise and worship
Favorite Subject in School:           history


Author Bio:

Cara C. Putman, the award-winning author of 20 books, graduated high school at 16, college at 20, and completed her law degree at 27. FIRST for Women magazine called Shadowed by Grace “captivating” and a “novel with ‘the works.’” It received the Christian Retailing BEST award for Historical Fiction and the HOLT Award of Distinction. Cara is active at her church and a lecturer on business and employment law to graduate students at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management. Putman also practices law and is a second-generation homeschooling mom. Putman recently received her Master’s in Business Administration at Krannert. She serves on the executive board of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), an organization she has served in various roles since 2007. She lives with her husband and four children in Indiana.

Shadowed by Grace:
http://www.amazon.com/Shadowed-Grace-Story-Monuments-Men/dp/1433681781/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1440123649&sr=8-1&keywords=shadowed+by+graceShadowed by Grace is a dramatic story inspired by the Monuments Men of World War II by acclaimed author Cara C. Putman. Desperate to save her dying mother, Rachel accepts her newspaper’s assignment to travel to Italy to capture images dangerously close to the front lines of WWII. Her real motive – to find the father she never knew — an artist she hopes can offer the comfort and support both she and her mother need to survive. It’s an unlikely situation for love and faith to flourish, but soon Rachel not only finds herself, but also her long-lost earthly father, and ultimately, the man her Heavenly father created to cherish and provide for her

Connect with Cara:

 

Enter Below to Win a Copy of  Stars in the Night: 

4 Reasons to Host A Backyard Bible Club


Hi! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

My name is Hannah Conway, Army wife for more than a decade, and the author of The Wounded Warrior’s Wife, and Wedding a Warrior from Olivia Kimbrell Press.
This summer, our family hosted our very first Backyard Bible Club! We want to share the experience, and encourage military and civilian families to host your very own Backyard Bible Club for several reasons:
 
1: We’re promoting community, and that’s always a good thing!
 
2:  We’re cultivating relationships when we invite your neighbors over, and living in a military community it’s so vital to make connections with others we can trust, learn from and grow together. So to my military families out there, I challenge you to host a club.
 
3: The third and most important reason to host a backyard bible club is, we get to share Jesus with kids! How often do we sit in our homes and ever really get to know our neighbors, let alone work up enough nerve to tell them about Jesus or even let them know we’re a follower. A backyard Bible club helps to bridge that gap.
 
4: The 4th reason to host a club…well, that’s pretty easy! We get to have a lot of fun…a lot of messy fun…or not so messy, but our family likes messy games…really messy games! We’ve got the pics to prove it!

Thinking of starting your own Backyard Bible Club? Check out Lifeway.com for easy-to-use curriculum or use any of our ideas, lessons/agendas, crafts, games etc.
 

Feel free to comment below with suggestions for next year’s club, or suggestions/advice for anyone interested in hosting their own club.  

Scripture Blocks Made From Scrap Wood, Paint, Construction
Paper, and Modge Podge.

A Few of My Favorite Things! Giveaway!!

Say what you want about Oprah, but that lady knew how to do a giveaway! Each year, one lucky audience went home with all of Oprah’s favorite things! While I have no intentions of competing with her, haha :), I do want to give away a few of my own favorite things to you!!!!!!

How fun is this!?? It’s okay to giggle! Or even jump up and down! I’m giving away 10, YES 10, of my favorite things toward the end of our summer break.

10 things, 10 winners!!



My list of favorite things includes…

1) $10 Starbucks Gift Card!!
2) $10 Amazon Gift Card!!!
3) Vera Bradley Pencils!!!
4) Audio Devotionals from Beth Moore!!
5) 2 Love Inspired books!
6) My favorite Yogi Green Teas!
7) A CD Copy of The Wounded Warrior’s Wife ‘playlist soundtrack’ that I made!! Love that thing!
8) A very Crafty Memo/Picture board!
9) A bag of my favorite gluten free crackers! You’ll love them too!! 🙂
10) A 24 oz glass Mason Jar water jug!!

Enter to win below! No, you don’t have to join my mailing list, but please feel free to subscribe for updates and more giveaways! I have not the time nor the energy to flood your inbox, lol, so you don’t have to worry about that.

YES, YES, you can share this post with your friends and family! The more the merrier, right? 🙂

Winner will be announced on Monday, August 17th by 5pm CT. The Winner will be notified by email and or facebook. If the winner has not responded within 72 hours, another winner will be chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Worth the Sacrifice: Lessons from Memorial Day Weekend

“But King David replied to Araunah, “No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.” (2 Chronicles 21:24 NLT)

King David wanted to build an altar to God. Araunah owned the perfect place for an altar located on the summit of Mt. Moriah. Nice view I’m sure!

When David approached Araunah about purchasing this “threshing floor” (a flat, hard surface), Araunah offered it to David at no cost. Awesome! A prime piece of property for free! What a bargain, right?! But, David refused to take the property without it costing him something. Instead of saying, “Hey God, I’m building this great altar for you, AND I got it at no cost,” David says, “I want to pay, and I want to pay A LOT for this place.”

Sounds a bit backward in our ‘something for nothing’ culture, but David understood what we’ve seemed to have lost: the definition and value of sacrifice.

David understood that a sacrifice costs something. It hurts, but worth the pain, whether physical or emotional. We feel a sacrifice, and if we don’t, it’s not a sacrifice…it’s something much different.

David was telling God, “I wanna pay. You’re worth it.”

What’s worth it for us?

What do we know of sacrifice? In a culture of abundance, credit cards, and self-indulging tendencies, what do we know of sacrifice? To give up something we value, perhaps even need, in order to benefit or honor someone else?

While we may be in short supply of sacrifice, it’s still there, and worth every penny, every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears that we willingly pour out.

I can think of several people, and groups that are accustomed to sacrifice, but this Memorial Day weekend I want to acknowledge those who have served and sacrificed their lives for this country. They saw a need, heard a call, counted up the cost, and served anyway. They deemed us worth their lives. Humbling.

I am thankful for the Military families that sacrificed alongside their soldier, willingly setting their soldier free to serve, knowing the dangers at hand. You too are valued, and appreciated. A hug, and kind words do not begin to scratch the surface of our gratitude.

We learn several things about sacrifice from the example of our fallen Military men and women, as well as David.

1: We learn a sacrifice is not a sacrifice if it doesn’t cost us something.
2: We learn a sacrifice is worth what we’ve given up.
3: We learn sacrifice is something we should do more of…setting ourselves aside for the benefit and honor of others whether with our time, money, or perhaps one day, our life.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

Suggested Reading:
5 Ways to Be Blessed in the Stress: A Military Wife’s Perspective
Loving My Soldier: The Hindsights and Insights of PTSD and TBI
Army Wife Tips

Author Spotlight: Renee Blare & Latest Novel GIVEAWAY!!

Today on our Author Spotlight we are lucky to have Renee Blare! Renee will be hanging out with us, talking about her latest novel, AND giving away a paperback or digital copy (winner’s) choice!

Meet Renee!

http://www.reneeblare.com/Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, Renee started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to Laramie and she’s been counting pills ever since. While writing’s her first love, well, after the Lord and her husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.

Nestled against the Black Hills with her husband, crazy old dog and ornery cat, she serves the community of northeastern Wyoming as a pharmacist and pens her Christian stories, keeping them interesting with action and intrigue, of course. She loves to interact with readers and invites you check out her website, blog, and social media


Renee, thank you for joining us today! PLEASE Tell us about your latest novel, Beast of Stratton, and any personal inspiration behind it.

http://www.amazon.com/Beast-Stratton-Renee-Blare/dp/1508606021/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1426816896&sr=8-1&keywords=renee+blareBeast of Stratton’s a contemporary suspense novel I wrote at the prodding of my crit group, Rough Diamond Writers. Each of us picked a fairy tale and penned a story. Historical, contemporary, romance, suspense…you name it, we did it. It was a ton of fun!
My story took on quite a suspenseful quality, of course. After all, that is what I write, but it’s also quite mysterious. It was quite the puzzle. I didn’t figure it out until the end myself!

I love to hear writers say that. Stories take us on a journey even as we write them! Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’m working on a novella right now for Prism Books called Racing Hearts. It’s about a couple of newlyweds who, after discovering they’re expecting a child, move across the state in search of work. Here’s the a little bit about it:
Full of hope for the future, a young couple sets off on a new adventure. They welcome their home with open arms. The mountains glisten, the lakes sparkle, and a new life grows. But challenges soon arise and their fresh love faces a trial of almost insurmountable odds.
For the two Christians, placing the fate of their unborn child in the hands of God seems rather easy, but trusting each other? That may prove to be the challenge of a lifetime…as hearts race in the Rocky Mountains.

This sounds pretty suspenseful!! Of course it has to be! 🙂 The dilemma(s) this couple face could benefit from God’s Word, which brings me to my next question. What is your favorite scripture and why?
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
I used to worry…a lot. A “dilemma” turned into a nightmare before I could blink. And then, with the help of the Father, I discovered what it meant to trust. He taught me not to worry about what tomorrow may bring. To rest in His arms no matter what was looming around the corner. It’s amazing to experience heaven’s peace amidst the sting of life.

 I can relate well! Life does sting at times, and there are definitely things I avoid to try to prevent that sting! Are there things you put off doing because you dread them? (ie I can’t stand to fold socks. Torture!)

Clean…period. I know. I’m terrible, but I hate to clean. The kitchen, the bathroom, you name it. I would blame my mom for making me do it as a kid, but that’s not fair. It’s not her fault. I just dread the task. So I put it off until I can’t anymore. Or my husband complains so loudly about having to do it time after time, I get the message. (If you get my meaning…) As far as laundry goes, I usually start it. Does that count? LOL Can I stop now? Please!
YUP! You can stop! Ha! Even talking about it is causing dread! 🙂 Sorry. 🙁 SO! Let’s have a little fun with these next questions!

I’m an Army Wife, and all Military Wives have to be flexible. Plans change at the drop of a hat. So, pretend you’re a Military Wife. Ok. Ready?!

Your spouse came down on orders to relocate and you’ve got 30 days to move. What are the first three things you do to prepare? GO!

I’m not a military wife, but I can relate to the “relocation” issue…a lot. I’ve been married for almost twenty-six years and according to my husband, we’re on move number twenty-two. Let’s see…
Number one: Garage sale! Lighten the load. I’d sell anything and everything I don’t need or want to move. That means for pennies if I have to. After all, I’m trying to get rid of it, not make a fortune. LOL
Number two: Go out to dinner. Treat those friends who’ve stood by my side through thick and thin to a local restaurant’s fine meal and say thank you.
Number three: Donate anything I don’t need or can’t sell: If I can’t sell it, can’t wear it, don’t need it, it goes to Goodwill, Salvation Army, a local church or any other place I can find that may have use for it. That include clothes, books, tools, equipment…anything. If they don’t take it, a sign in the front yard’s always an option!

That’s some seriously great advice! Hope my military wife friends are reading this!!
Ok, one last question!! I’m a bit of a History Buff and Sci-Fi Geek. Oh how I’d love to time travel! If you could time travel, where would you go and why?
It’s a toss-up between the past and the future. Both seem rather intimidating. The past? The highlands of Scotland before the time of England’s takeover. Although harsh and rough, it seems like an amazing time. When clans ruled their own territory and the land was as wild as the men. I’d like to see that. The future? Oh the prospects…living, working, playing in space? Traveling to other planets for the day and coming home to wake up the next day and do it all over again? Yeah, that be cool.
Yes it would! I think you could come up with a pretty good plot for another novel thinking about these thing!

Renee, I can’t thank you enough for joining us today!

Readers, thank you for stopping by as well!! Renee will be giving away a copy of Beast of Stratton’s away! Leave a comment, along with your email address, to enter to win a paperback or digital copy of this novel (winner’s choice!). A winner will be selected and announced on Monday, March 23rd.

Contact Renee:

Summer Reading List: What’s On Yours?

Oh Summer.

Pause for affectionate sigh.

Pools. Water balloons. Late nights catching lightening bugs, grilling out, and movies at the park.

Just feeling the sun against my face makes summer quite glorious, but reading–books on my beloved summer reading list–is like the cherry on top of this season.

This year I have some lofty reading goals, but hey, shoot high, right? The kids are even chiming in to create their own list–I’ll share it too!

Not only am I aiming high, I’m shooting wide and seeking to read a variety of genres, and topics. This writer’s got to be well rounded.

So without further ado, meet my new poolside friends….

1: Smart Money, Smart Kids by Dave Ramsey & Rachel Cruze /Nonfiction/Instructional
2: The Hesitant Heiress by Dawn Crandall (Releasing in August! Stay tuned for a Review!)/Historical Fiction
3: Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson /Nonfiction/Instructional
4: Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green/ Historical Fiction
5: Promise to Return by Elizabeth Byler Younts/ Historical Fiction

6: The Jewel Series Anthology by Hallee Bridgeman /Romance

7: Divergent by Veronica Roth /Young Adult/Scifi/Fantasy

8: Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling /Young Adult/Fantasy (I have to re-peruse this book nearly every summer!!!)
9: Iscariot by Tosca Lee / Historical Fiction/Biblical Times

10:  Sisterchicks on the Loose by Robin Jones Gunn /Women’s Fiction/Comedy/Friendship

11: Home Maintenance for Dummies by James Carey & Morris Carey Jr. (Yeah, if this book doesn’t help me fix things, then it’s back to youtube instructional videos, lol).

WHEW…but wait, there’s more J….

Books I will be diving into to continue to sharpen my writing skills:

1: Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

3: Plot Versus Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction by Jeff Gerke

Now For the Kids:

The kiddo’s reading list is a bit different, more interactive, and filled with variety. It’s more like a Creative Story Kids Summer Camp, lol. It includes books to read, movies to watch, book reports to write/draw/create, and stories to create.

Goal: Choose and complete 10 of the 15 items on the list before school starts.
1: Watch the Lion King & create a book report–drawn or written.
2: Research an animal or historical event of your topic & create a fact sheet from what you learned.
3: Cut out pictures from a magazine. Glue them on a sheet a paper, and make up a story using the images on your paper.
4: Read a book, magazine, or comic book of your choice
5: Pick a writing prompt from our 642 Things to Write About and fill a page with what you have to say.
6: Read a book, magazine, or comic book your choice
7: Watch: Honey I shrunk the Kids, because I LOVED that movie as a kid!
8: Watch Mary Poppins, just because it’s fun.
9: Find a recipe for your favorite food. Plan a time to create this food. Eat it and discuss how it turned out…good? or bad? What could you have done differently?
10: Read: A book, magazine, or comic book of your choice
11: Watch Ratatouille, and spend time reading through recipes from around the world using the internet. Make a few if you’re feeling up to it! 😉
12: Compare & Contrast two movies on this list. This can be done in written form, or diagram.
13: Read a book, magazine, or comic book of your choice
14: Watch the Parent Trap (the original with Haley Mills), and create a list of all the other tricks the twins could’ve done to the fiancé.
15: Read a book, magazine, or comic book of your choice

When creating a summer reading list for yourself or you kiddos, include both fiction and nonfiction books, movies & documentaries. Make it FUN, and give incentives along the way as they mark off their Summer Reading List, like popsicles, a crazy game they’ve been asking to play or stickers. Be creative! 😉

Asking yourself a couple of questions can help you create that perfect summer reading list. Questions like these:

1: What interests you/them?
Do you like mystery? Romance? Both? Do your kids like a certain cartoon character?
Letting kids pick books/magazines/comic books that interests them helps foster a love for reading. Being forced to read things is never fun. Ugh. Anyone remember how awful some of those books were in High School?
2: What would they/you like to know or what places would they/you like to go?
Often times picking up nonfiction books on how things are made, travel destinations, or a specific historical event can be a lot of fun for you and your kids. Remember, kids really do love to learn, especially when you’re excited about it.

Hopefully, these tips help you create a list that’s just right for you and your family, but if not, feel free to copy ours.