First Line Friday – Technical Difficulties

Sorry folks. My laptop had an unfortunate encounter with a large volume of liquid this week, so I am forced to take a short break from blogging this week (all my necessary files and software programs are on that laptop – note the lack of a photo for this boring post). If all goes well, I will be back to the usual schedule by the following week. I hope you have a lovely weekend!

The Sunshine Blogger Award

Sunshine Blogger Award

I am so touched to have been nominated for this Sunshine Blogger Award by Becca of The Becca Files.

The Sunshine Blogger Award is a peer recognition for bloggers across all genres who inspire “positivity and joy.” While there is no formal evaluation or vetting process, and no tangible prize, it is so sweet to receive this award because it is special when it comes from fellow bloggers who view my blog as “inspiring positivity and joy.”

Sunshine Blogger Award rules:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

My answers to the 11 questions from Becca:

  1. What is a favorite book from your childhood? This one is tricky because I loved so many books as a child. However, the one that I think most inspired my imagination has to be, Lily of the Forest by Brian McConnachie, illustrated by Jack Ziegler. I actually still have the copy from my childhood and it turns out that is a good thing because when I checked today, I discovered it is no longer in print. 😦 Lily of the Forest
  2. If you could have lunch with any author who would it be? Well, that is a tough question! I have met so many wonderful authors while at the various writers conferences I have attended. I can’t imagine picking just one. So, if I take it a step further and add the “living or dead” clause, I would have to say that I would love to have lunch with Jane Austen. While I admittedly haven’t studied much on her biography, her writing makes me imagine sitting on the edge of a gathering somewhere, listening to her quietly make witty observations about the people around us. Not in a gossipy sort of way, but in the unique and humorous way she has of seeing beyond people’s social masks.
  3. If you could travel to anywhere in the world where would you go? Another tough one. I’ve done quite a lot of travel, actually, but there are still many places I’d love to see. The three that spring to mind are Ireland, England, and Australia. Although, I’ve also always dreamed of seeing the setting for Anne of Green Gables. So Prince Edward Island would definitely be near the top of that list.
  4. What is your favorite genre to read? Finally, an easy one:  Historical Christian Romance. I enjoy delving into what life may have been like for our ancestors–the nitty-gritty things like how they did their laundry–and I love reading about God working in people’s lives to bring joy from tragedy and trial.
  5. Is there a genre you refuse to read? Erotica. Point blank.
  6. What is your favorite part of blogging? Helping to connect readers and authors of wonderful books. I have always wanted to shout the news to the world whenever I have finished a particularly enjoyable book. As an author, I now appreciate the hard work and perseverance that goes into bringing those stories to the world. Blogging gives me a chance to reward their diligent efforts and to bless a fellow reader with another fascinating story. Because I review Christian romance, I also have the pleasure of knowing that God often uses these stories to bring His children closer to Him.
  7. If you could give one piece of advice to new bloggers what would that be? Don’t over commit yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers. Do figure out what makes you different. Always keep close to mind the reason you are putting in this effort. Oops. I guess that’s four pieces of advice. 😉
  8. What’s a real-life fact you learned in a fictional book? From Karen Barnett’s Where the Fire Falls, I learned that for nearly one hundred years, the workers at Yosemite National park would push hot embers over the edge of Glacier Point, creating the illusion of a “fire fall” for the spectators watching from Camp Curry. The spectacle was a nightly tradition which drew many visitors.

    Book Quote - Where the Fire Falls - Waterfall Surrender
    See my review HERE.
  9. What is your favorite book, character, or story in the Bible? I don’t think I could pick a favorite, but recently I’ve been studying the book of Matthew again and was struck by the story of the disciples and how they still questioned Jesus’s instructions after all the miracles He’d performed. In particular, I found it both amusing and reassuring that even after he feeds 5000 men PLUS women and children with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, leaving 12 baskets of leftovers, they still question him when he tells them to feed another crowd even though that crowd held fewer people (4000 men plus women and children) and the disciples had more food (seven loaves and a few small fish}. The disciples still ask, in essence, “How are we going to accomplish this seemingly impossible task you have asked us to do?” It makes me laugh because it sounds so foolish given what happened the last time, yet it also is far too familiar. There are so many times in my life when God has proven Himself capable of the impossible, yet every single time I am presented with another impossible task that I feel He has given me I ask the same thing, “But how?”

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    See more of my bible journaling on Instagram.
  10. Who is your favorite historical figure? Oh, come on! I only get one?! Well, fine. I’m going for the obvious:  Jesus. 😉 Not satisfied? I guess, my next favorite might be . . . well, they are all so complicated, just like the people of today. It’s difficult to call someone “my favorite” because there will always be some things I admire about them and other things I don’t. Two that come immediately to mind are Helen Keller–because of her incredible contributions to the deaf/blind community–and George Horatio Derby–because he is connected to local San Diego history and makes me laugh. He stands out as a man unlike many of his contemporaries, a true character. Which is, of course, why I gave him a cameo in my first novel.
  11. If you were stuck on a deserted island and could have 1 personal item and 1 survival item what would you pick to have? The Bible. No contest. As for the survival item . . . Assuming there is a source of fresh water somewhere, I would pick a book of survival skills because there are very few things that can’t be made from found objects but you can’t find the objects or turn them into useful tools without the knowledge of how to do so. Since no one can memorize how to do or make everything, written instructions sound pretty good to me. My second choice would be a knife to make just about everything I needed to do easier.

My 11 nominees are:

Reading Is My Superpower

Bookworm Mama

Faithfully Bookish

Joy of Reading

The Christian Fiction Girl

Christian Shelf Esteem

The Engrafted Word

A Baker’s Perspective

Molly at Cover to Cover Cafe

C Jane Read

Just Commonly

 

The questions for my nominees:

  1. What is one lesson you had to learn the hard way?
  2. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
  3. Why did you start blogging and is the reason you continue to blog different?
  4. What are you reading right now and which book is next on your TBR?
  5. What is your favorite comfort food?
  6. When you aren’t reading or blogging, what are you most likely to be doing?
  7. Who inspired your love of reading?
  8. Of all the pieces of clothing you own, which is your favorite and why?
  9. What is the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome as a blogger?
  10. What is your favorite genre to read?
  11. Of all the blog posts you’ve written, which is your favorite? Please post the link.

 

Merry Monday – Christmas Crafting

Merry Monday - Christmas Crafting

Hi everyone! I hope you are all enjoying this time leading up to Christmas. I know my family has been in full holiday swing. In fact, we spent several hours this weekend creating new Christmas ornaments — several for our own home and a few to give as gifts. I thought it would be fun to share our creations with you today. I hope you enjoy seeing what we made and maybe even feel inspired to do a little crafting of your own.

Each of the ornaments below was created using clear plastic ornaments, acrylic paints, and various other additions as noted.

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This first trio was painted by me.  Every year we create or purchase one new ornament per family member. We write the date somewhere discrete and add it to our tree. The two landscape scenes will be the ornaments added for myself and my husband this year. The snowman will be hung from white paper chains which we drape around our great room. 
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These snowmen were all created by my children.  They also stuffed the “snowballs” in the back. Stuffing materials vary from clear tinsel to “tiny fake snowballs” to that clear plastic confetti they sell as “fake snow.” The tiny fake snowballs were found at our local Dollar Tree and were the easiest to stuff into the ornaments, but the other two stuffing items were my personal favorites (despite their staticky resistance to being crammed into a small hole) due to their reflective qualities which gave them an ice-like appearance.  All of these ornaments will be hung from the white paper chains in our great room this year and will be brought out for similar purposes year after year from now on. I’ve added their names and the year to the bottom of each. 
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My children chose the faces from a photo I found on Pinterest and they chose the sock hats from an assortment I picked up at our local Dollar Tree. The rest I did myself. These four will be their contributions to our tree for this year. 
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These three snowmen (shown before and after candy stuffing)  were painted by me and will be given away at a children’s gift exchange. 
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Lest the previous pictures have you thinking I some sort of crafting genius, let me assure you, I am not! Exhibit A:  My complete failure to create what so many have touted as the world’s easiest DIY ornament – inside-out espsom salt ornaments. I used Mod Podge and epsom salts inside these 8 ornaments hoping for beautiful snowball-like results and wound up with snowballs that looked like we’d made them from that snow parents warn their kids not to eat. (They look even more yellow in person.) I made myself feel better about this by sticking digital stickers all over them to express my feelings on the matter. LOL Eventually I am thinking to salvage them with a combination of white paint and clear glitter on the exterior, but I have yet to work up the nerve energy. We’ll see. 

If you’re looking for snowman face inspiration, you can try this photo and this photo.

If you want more details on how to make the sock-hatted snowmen (& other fun ornaments), this is a good video to watch.

Pro tip:  Make sure to use paints specially designed for plastic and consider adding a clear coat on top to protect your artwork.

I hope you enjoyed this little peek into our holiday preparations. Being creative always reminds me of our Creator and how He has blessed us with the fruits of His creation. Spending the time listening to Christmas music and crafting with my children is a blessing I cherish.

To see more of my holiday craftivities, follow me on Instagram @KathleenDenly!

If you’re not already subscribed to this blog and want to be, CLICK HERE.

Also, don’t forget I’ll be releasing a free short story exclusively for my KRC Members this week! So if you’re not already a member, sign up today!

Promo - Runaway Wedding

Let’s Chat!

Do you enjoy holiday crafting? I’d love to know if there is a craft you do every year or if you’ve recently discovered a new craft that you’re excited about!

With All My … Mind

Blog Header - With All My

In today’s world of technology and accessibility, there is no shortage of ways people are forever trying to claim our time and attention. Whether it is through the ringing of our smartphones, the ping of an app notification, the reminder announced by the artificial intelligence devices we install in our homes, commercials between our favorite television shows, or the pounding of another delivery person at our door, the demand for our attention seems constant.

When I first bought a cell phone it stayed in the living room overnight to charge. Then my husband started traveling more and it made sense to keep the phone next to my bed in case of emergency. It wasn’t long before my nightstand became the usual place my phone charged at night.

Did you know your cell phone screen lights up every time it gets a notification? Mine does, anyway. In a dark room this can seem like a very bright light.

It wasn’t too long before curiosity would have me picking up my phone in the middle of the night to see what had caused the flash. The next thing I knew, I’d be checking my email for that reply I’ve been waiting for, responding to a Facebook post I had missed earlier, and … what in the world? How have I been awake for thirty minutes?

I learned to turn my phone face down on the nightstand.

But it was still on my nightstand.

So when the alarm went off every morning, rather than yank myself from the warm covers into the cold morning air, it became my routine to snag my phone and start my day by scrolling through my various social media feeds and email inboxes. This got me started thinking of my to-do list and everything I needed to accomplish that day.  I’d get out of bed, brush my teeth, dress, and eat breakfast – all with my phone in my hand.

In the back of my mind was this idea that I needed to read God’s Word and spend time in prayer. But that was something I had plenty of time to do. There was no deadline for speaking to God. No one would know or care if I didn’t squeeze in those verses I meant to read today. I could catch up tomorrow. God didn’t have a closing time. He was always there and always would be. But I had things that needed to be accomplished NOW or there would be consequences.

God could wait.

Until one day, I realized I couldn’t remember the last time I’d spent more than five minutes studying God’s Word. For too long, I’d let Him get squeezed into the spare moments left after everything else — everything more urgent — had been taken care of. God was getting those moments when I was so worn down and worn out I couldn’t think well enough to “be productive.” I was giving God the crumbs of my leftovers.

And I was starving.

I was worn out, stretched thin, weak, and breaking. I was overwhelmed and wanting to give up on everything. I couldn’t do it. What was the point?

Well, the point was that I was never meant to do any of this alone. The point was that I had my perception and my priorities completely backward.

If God is my source of strength and I haven’t spent time with Him, where is my energy coming from?

If God is my source of truth and I haven’t spent time with Him, from where am I getting my wisdom?

If God is my source of purpose and I haven’t spent time with Him, on what am I basing my plans?

If God is my source of hope and I haven’t spent time with Him, how do I expect to find peace in life’s trials?

It was like a light bulb suddenly shining bright on all the corners of my mind — one that had once shown brightly but grown dim from dust and neglect.

God can’t wait.

God MUST come first in our lives. He is THE reason we are alive. Without Him it doesn’t matter what else we accomplish or fail to achieve. It will all mean nothing if He isn’t at the heart of it.

Bible on Laptop

So I’m trying something new. I’ve moved my phone across the room — close enough for emergencies, but far enough to discourage temptation —  and I’ve begun the habit of setting my bible ON TOP OF MY LAPTOP every night before I go to bed. That way I am forced to physically move it each and every morning. It has become a tangible reminder that I need to pay attention to God before I pay attention to anyone or anything else.

Let’s chat!

What distractions have kept you from spending time in God’s Word? What methods have you found to help keep you accountable to maintaining your relationship with the Lord?

TWEETABLE:

Pay attention to God before you pay attention to anyone or anything else.

God is more important than my to-do list.

If God is my source of strength and I haven’t spent time with Him, where is my energy coming from?

 

 

 

Reading Challenges – Love ‘Em & Hate ‘Em

Blog Header - Reading Challenges

I confess:  I am a perpetual reading challenge loser.

I have started no less than a dozen (probably way more) reading challenges and I can only think of one I’ve successfully completed. One. Yet I keep signing up for them. Why? Well, I love books. I love checklists. It makes sense that having a list of books I need to read should be something I enjoy and rock at. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case.

So recently I’ve been wondering why I can’t seem to ever complete the reading challenges I sign up for.

Then it struck me:  I’m fickle.

I never thought I would say that about myself. In general, I am one of the most loyal people you’ll ever meet. Seriously, when people are asked to describe me, “loyal” is nearly always on the list.

It turns out there is an exception to my loyalty, and that exception is books.

What?! I know. But hear me out. My loyalty to books in general has never wavered. My loyalty to what I’ve said I’m going to read next … weeeellll.

Unless someone is counting on me to write a review in a specific amount of time, what I read is entirely dependent on the mood I’m in. That’s just the truth of it.

Right now, today, I might think reading that particular historical romantic suspense novel next week sounds like a fantastic plan and I am sincerely looking forward to next week so I can read that book. Then next week arrives and it turns out to be just a little more stressful than I expected, or I get my fill of suspense through the television series I watched Monday night and you know what? Now I’m not really in the mood for a historical romantic suspense novel. Now I’m in the mood for a contemporary romantic comedy. So I read that instead, telling myself I’ll read the historical romantic suspense novel next week. And so on and so on until next thing I know, months have gone by and that book I was supposed to read as part of that reading challenge is still sitting on my TBR list loooong past the deadline for the reading challenge.  *sigh*

I know this about myself. This always happens. So can somebody please tell me why I just spent the last twenty minutes picking out which books I want to read as part of the Author of the Month 2018 Challenge hosted by the Christian Fiction Devourers group on Goodreads?

Well, whatever the reason, here I am again, making a list of the books I want to read and giving myself rough deadlines for when I want to have finished reading them.

To further complicate matters (and make my chances of success that much less likely) I already have a very long list of books from my TBR pile that I plan to read this year. I’m hoping that by assigning each book a month, I’ll actually follow through on reading it and clear out some of these books from my backlog. (That makes it sound very negative, but let’s be clear:  these are books I’ve been dying to read and just haven’t found the time to get to them.)

Below is what I have so far on my list of books to read this year. Everything is listed by author name first, then title.

Christian Fiction Novels To Be Read in 2018

January

February

March 

April

May 

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Release date unknown:  Pepper D. Basham Next Door and Forevermore 

So as I was typing this and mentally mocking my undying optimism, I figured:

“Why fail quietly and alone in the privacy of my own home when I can fail publicly and, hopefully, drag some of you along to fail with me?”

What do you think? Anyone interested in joining me? You don’t have to read the same books or even aim for as many books. Just share your progress with me.

I’ve set up a special page here on my website just for this purpose.

By the way, that list up there? Yeah, that’ll change. I know I’m forgetting books I’ve been meaning to read and I’m always learning about new books I want to read so this list will probably grow. I’m going to try really hard to limit myself to only listing 5 per month, though, because these are only the Christian fiction books I am planning to read. (You can see I’ve already failed in March – just too many exciting new releases!) I also read general market and nonfiction books, but since that is not the intended audience for this blog, I won’t list those here (although I am listing some of those on my TBR page). I will keep my TBR page updated with changes so you can follow along with me to see which months I hit my goals and which I fail at miserably.

Please, leave me a comment!

Speaking of growing the list:  If there are any books you think I should add to my list, please let me know! Also, since there is just no way I can review all of these books and continue working on my own writing, I’d love to know which of these books you would be most interested in reading reviews about. 

I May Kill You

Blog Post - I may kill you

Like today’s title? Well, it’s true. I may kill you. Or at least part of you. In the very least, if I know you well enough to know your flaws, there is a very good chance I may steal them, magnify them, mix them in with someone else’s struggles, and make you part of my next antagonist (or any character, really, since they all have flaws). Whom I may or may not kill off in my next book. Consider yourself warned.

If you think that truth is frightening, you should probably stop reading now, because the even scarier truth is that all of my villains contain at least a small part of me. In order to write any character well, I have to be able to relate to them on some level. I have to understand their psyche, what motivates them, and why they feel and do what they do. This means that some part of who I am now or who I once was at some point in my life is very likely to be reflected in some part of each of my characters . . . including the philanderers, thieves, con-artists, and murderers.

So… who still wants to be my friend?

Please do not annoy the writer Mug photo
Today’s blog post was inspired by this photo of Elena Dillon’s mug which she shared on Twitter. (used here with permission) Elena writes teenage romance full of sass, suspense and swoon. For those interested: there is infrequent mild cursing in a couple of her books, but they are otherwise clean. Elena is a Christian and says her books have a faith basis but don’t meet CBA standards. You can learn more about Elena and her books HERE.

 

2017 – A Blog in Review

A Blog in Review 2017

At the beginning of this new year, I think it only appropriate to take a look back at what the past year has produced.

THE STATS

I wrote and shared exactly 100 blog posts (not including this one).

I wrote 30 book reviews, including 3 shared exclusively with my KRC members.

I shared 4 Author Interviews.

I wrote 4 posts on American History – including 1 shared exclusively with my KRC members.

I posted my first ever vlog.

I posted my first Mama’s Storytime video with my review of two children’s books.

I shared 10 giveaways. Of those 10, I personally provided the prize for 8 of them and of those 8 giveaways, 4 were open exclusively to my KRC members.

Through those 10 giveaways, I was blessed to giveaway 16 books (7 exclusively to KRC members) along with other prizes.

MOST POPULAR

My top ten most popular blog posts of this year were:

Top Ten MUST READ Historical Romance Novels for 2017

My Review & GIVEAWAY! – The Patriot & the Loyalist

Name That Book! – Win a Prize!

Summer Reading Roundup 2017 +GIVEAWAY!

My Review – A Lady In Disguise +GIVEAWAY!

First Line Friday – 11.17.17

My top ten most popular book reviews of this year were:

My Review & GIVEAWAY! – The Patriot & the Loyalist

My Review – A Lady In Disguise +GIVEAWAY!

My Review – Love at First Laugh

My Review – Such A Hope

My Review – The Thorn Healer

Rave Review! – Turtles in the Road

My Review – Heart on the Line

Mama’s Storytime – Made For A Purpose

My Review – The Scarlet Coat

My Review – Long Time Gone

MY GOALS AND GRATITUDE

I started this year with the goal of being more consistent with my blog posts and finding new ways to connect to both my readers and fellow bloggers. I am blessed to say that I have accomplished these goals.

I think most blog readers underestimate the impact their comments and likes have on the blog author.  I know I smile each and every time I see a “like” added to one of my posts and it just makes my day when someone leaves a comment. Honestly. It lets me know I’m not just writing to stroke my own ego, but actually providing something you find value in. That is, after all, the goal of all my writing:  to encourage, entertain, and inspire my readers.

Blogging can be a lonely, somewhat confusing activity, in which I put words out into the world on the hope and prayer that someone benefits from them in some way. It’s a bit like the cliche of throwing spaghetti at a wall and waiting to see which bits stick. Your likes and comments are the only concrete encouragement I have to tell me I am on the right track. So I want to take this moment to thank each and every one of you who has ever “liked” or commented on any of my posts. You are truly appreciated. 

I’d like to take this moment to invite you to join my Kathleen’s Readers’ Club, if you haven’t already. Through my quarterly KRC emails I share the highlights of my writing journey, exclusive content, book deals, exclusive giveaways, and more. Click HERE for more information.

Whether you are a KRC member, a regular visitor to my blog, or this is your very first time here, thank you for reading and Happy New Year!

Happy New Year - Numbers Scripture Image

I’d love to read about the goals you accomplished and the milestones you crossed this past year! Please share them with me in the comments below or by emailing me at writeKathleenDenly @ gmail .com.