I had been dating Roy for a while, and he decided the time had come for me to meet his children, Jill and James. Very apprehensive but knowing this was the essential next step, I flew down from New Jersey to Atlanta with him.

You wouldn’t think a six-year-old girl and a three-year-old boy could terrify a thirty-plus-year-old woman, would you? I’d never been around children much, other than an occasional babysitting job while I was in high school. And having the approval of these two kids meant everything.

We went to Chuckie Cheese for the afternoon and for dinner. Even though the place was warm, Jill wouldn’t take off her furry, plush coat. Roy went off with James and left me alone with Jill. Oh, boy, what to do? She shook her head “no” at everything I suggested until skee ball.

We played skee ball for what seemed like an eternity, but when Roy and James came back, Jill had more winning tickets than anyone and had warmed up enough to the room (and to me) to take off her coat.

Their tradition at Chuckie Cheese was to have pizza (cut into kid-sized squares) and Cokes. After we’d devoured most of the pizza, Roy and Jill started a food fight with each other with the leftover pieces.

I was horrified! While scooting over to distance myself from the two of them, my sleeve caught on my Coke. The Coke tipped over, right into my lap. Now who was misbehaving! Laughing at myself and my clumsiness, I finally relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

This family was one I could certainly fit into with my penchant for mishaps and love of funny situations. I’ll never forget my introduction to Jill and James, skee ball, pizza fights, and fun.

 

DebHaggertyphoto

Deb Haggerty

Deb Haggerty is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Elk Lake Publishing Inc., a traditional, royalty-paying Christian company that “Publishes the Positive.”

She’s a Christ follower, wife, mom, and “Nana.” Deb is the author of These Are the Days of My Life and co-author of Experiencing God in a Broken World.

 

Deb Haggerty Days of Our Lives cover

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By Donna Schlachter

When I think about books from my childhood, I recall books like Black Beauty and Call of the Wild. What really sticks with me is both told stories of heartbreak and joy, of separation and reunion, or defeat and victory. Throughout these two books in particular, bad things happened for no good reason. People got sick. Died. Animals were mistreated. Lives were shattered.

But then. . .

In the end, all was set right with their world.

When I sit down to write a book, I ask myself, “How bad can things get?” And then I put my characters into more and more danger physically, while also straining their moral judgment, their emotional well-being, and their spiritual journey. Sometimes the journey seems to impair them more than make things right. But that’s life.

In Double Jeopardy, I took a city girl completely out of her element. Or did I? Becky Campbell didn’t really fit into society life in New York, either. She was much more like her father, who she adored. Zeke Graumann believes that his family’s ranch is worth everything, until he meets a girl who shows him that home is where the love is.

Other characters are changed, too. Matilda Campbell, the controlling matriarch of the family, figures out she can’t always direct every situation. Even the land title clerk has a change of heart (think of the tax collector’s in the temple during Jesus’ day).

The theme of this book is that we are never truly alone, if we’re willing to give God room in our lives. But it won’t happen by osmosis. It can’t be forced. We must choose, not because we have nowhere else to turn, but because we do and we choose God anyway. It took me a lot of years to figure that out, and our second—and third—and fourth-chance God patiently waited for me.

So next time you don’t know what to do or where to go next, remember: The God who pursues is still there.

 

Donna Schlachter:aka Leeann Betts

Donna Schlachter

Donna writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas and full-length novels. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, SinC, and CAN; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests

New Release: Double Jeopardy January 7th, 2020.  Join our FB event

Writing Courses

Please visit www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com | www.LeeannBetts.com

@DonnaSchlachter | @LeeannBett

double jeopardy

double jeopardy

 

 

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Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

Happy Friday CAN Members!

Catherine Finger here with the great privilege of interviewing CAN Member Donn Taylor. Donn is a prayer warrior and serves our CAN members through his tireless prayers and encouragement. His faithful organization of the weekly online CAN prayer group blesses us all. When he’s not praying, Donn can be found inspiring others in person and via his daily Facebook posts. His wisdom, warmth and good humor is revealed in a new way today.

Thank you for joining us today, Donn! And thank you for your tireless service of prayer over the members of CAN and encouragement. We are looking forward to learning a little more about you. Let’s start with what drives you, Donn. What are your personal passions?

Donn Taylor

Donn Taylor

Donn: First is a vision of Western Civilization as one aspect of God’s calling his people out of the popular culture of their day. (That process began as far back as Abraham, but let’s begin with the early Christian church.) The world of Christ’s time was incredibly cruel, even savage. Through Christianity, the West (primarily Europe) gradually emerged from that savagery into what we now think of as civilization, though the process is far from complete. But as of today, only Christendom has that quality, while the rest of the world remains as savage and cruel as it was in the time of Christ. Only Christendom has the answer. The great exceptions within Christendom were Communism and National Socialism, both of which were specifically anti-Christian. In short, Christianity is the civilizing force that has made this progress possible.

Second is a vision that one becomes an educated person by asking three questions. The seeker’s first question is, “Who am I?” The obvious answer is that he is a member of mankind, and that leads to the psalmist’s question, “What is man?” Seeking an answer leads us to considering “the best that has been thought or said” in all ages. (Matthew Arnold’s words.) The third question is, “What kind of world do we live in?” That is where the sciences come in. Today there is an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). My point is that STEM cannot address the first two questions, and the answers to those questions define what STEM is about.

These thematic elements keep showing up one way or another in my novels and poetry.

Thanks, Donn. Talk about deep calling unto deep! You’re reminding me of C.S. Lewis, or Watchman Nee. Outside of your daily prayer and reflection, how do you spend your time? What activities do you engage in giving you a more rounded life?

At age 89 I’m not as “rounded” as I was in past years. Today I’m just doing church and what I can do electronically. I got on Facebook to sell my books, but I’ve ended up doing more counseling and praying than anything else. In past years I served as deacon in several churches, mentored students at the colleges where I taught and a few writers since then, coached a basketball team of 12-year-olds. I participated in church-league basketball and in 10K runs until at age 64 the wheels came off. I still maintain membership in the National Association of Scholars and the Military Officers’ Association of America.

Bless you for that, Brother! I appreciate your passion for prayer, coaching, and service to others. How do you use this experience in your writing?

Tennyson’s Ulysses said, “I am a part of all that I have met,” but in my case it’s more like all I have met is a part of me. And there’s no telling which part will show up at any particular time. My first career was Army, the second as professor at two liberal arts colleges, and only after those did I take up creative writing professionally. My suspense novels reflected my Army experience, my mysteries set on college campuses reflect my teaching days, and my and Mildred’s lives as Christians governed my historical novel. The two passions mentioned above keep appearing in different parts of these and in my poetry.

I’d love to hear about a time when things didn’t turn out as you’d planned. Got a story for us?

Things often don’t turn out the way I planned. I began with two dead-serious intentions:  To write suspense fiction reflecting real-world problems as I knew them and to write poetry I wouldn’t be ashamed to see in a collection of American poetry. I think I achieved a little bit of both, but the unexpected happened. Some of my better poetry is comic, and comic passages kept popping up in my serious fiction. People like to laugh, so in my recent work I’ve emphasized the comic elements while maintaining the serious subjects in the background. (My Professor Preston Barclay can’t resist making a pun or smart remark even if it costs him his job.)

I look forward to reading your work. I love a little humor thrown in at every opportunity. Speaking of humor, do you have a funny story relating to your writing or an event you’d like to share with us?

In my first year to teach poetry writing at the Blue Ridge Conference I wanted to prove that serious poetry could be successfully presented to a general audience. So I volunteered to read a poem on the faculty talent show. But the fellow before me on the program had the audience in stitches with comedy of the absurd. So how was I going to get the audience from that to a serious poem? On the spur of the moment I began telling jokes about my age. (“There is no truth to the rumor that I was a critique partner for Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address . . . It was actually the Declaration of Independence.”) That let me step things down to reading a serious poem. But it also branded me, and I’ve had to keep doing it ever since.

Ha! I’d love to hear about your source materials for those must-have humorous openers someday! What’s one of your fascinating facts that cropped up while doing research for a book?

For the drug-smuggling flights in “The Lazarus File,” I needed to learn all I could about the Douglas DC-3 aircraft. (I had never flown one.) I remembered that James Stewart flew one in a movie and looked out of the pilot’s window to be sure the landing gear was down. When I located an actual DC-3 and sat in the plot’s seat, I found that the pilot could not see the landing gear. Moral: Never base your research on anything you see in a movie.

Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your world, Donn! And thank you for your commitment to praying for and serving others.

Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterward, he earned a PhD in Renaissance literature and taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His publications include several suspense and mystery novels, one historical novel, and one book of poetry. Two of his novels have been finalists in the Selah Awards. He lives in the woods near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.

Two of Donn’s books were finalists for the Selah Awards and you can enjoy his daily Facebook interactions here: www.facebook.com/donntaylor His marriage to Mildred lasted 61 years, seven months, and four days until the Lord promoted her. For a great holiday romance, check out their love story on line at https://tinyurl.com/te4k8kn 

 

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Linda Rondeau

Linda Rondeau

But where’s the fun in that?

“She’s going to kill him!” my writer friend said, in a loud of enough voice and with convincing enthusiasm to be heard across the lobby while we waited for the elevator in my apartment building.

We had just returned from a brisk, evening walk while we  brainstormed her newest Christian suspense.

A neighbor entered the area just as my friend finished illuminating her plot and announced the crux of her heroine’s dilemma. The poor man’s eyes bugged. I can only imagine the thoughts going through his mind. “What have I just overheard?”

We reassured him we were not grandmotherly-type terrorists, nor were we plotting a horrendous murder … well  … we were plotting a killing … a literary one. We gave him our business cards and did our best to explain that writers are insane, but we are normally harmless.

A writer needs to be  careful where they verbalize their story ideas or add explanations to their contrivances. Fortunately, our neighbor did believe us and didn’t report us to local law enforcement.

While on a group trip to a Christian women’s event, I gave an explanation to a devotional I wrote that expounded my extreme dislike of Lima beans. I did so dramatically, miming my explanation … “They stick in my throat and make me choke.” An illustration to point out the negative impact of crammed religiosity in our children.

A few minutes later, we stopped to eat at a Cracker Barrel. The waitress efficiently and politely informed our group the vegetable of the day was Lima beans. We burst out laughing.

I gave the girl an extra tip with my explanation for our rudeness.

Yes, a writer’s life is never dull. A funny thing always happens on the way to and from our manuscripts.

 

Rondeau-Prayed-for-Patience-Book-Cover-Dec-2019

I Prayed for Patience Book Cover

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Happy Friday CAN Members!

Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

This is Catherine Finger bringing you an interview with today’s featured author: Dr. MaryAnn Diorio.  In addition to to being an award-winning author, speaker, leader, coach, and beloved family matriarch, MaryAnn finds time to graciously leads our CAN reviewers—a great service to our authors. Thank you for joining us today, MaryAnn!

Catherine: What are your passions?

MaryAnn: Worshipping God, loving my family, sharing the Gospel, writing fiction. painting—especially in oils.

Catherine: Where do you volunteer your spare time giving you a more rounded life?

MaryAnn: I spend my spare time discipling women and ministering to my six adopted grandchildren.

Catherine: How do you use this experience in your writing?
MaryAnn: Ministering to women has made me more aware of the many challenges women face in an increasingly stressful world. I draw on these challenges as I create the heroines of my stories.

Catherine: What humorous thing would your readers want to know about you or your writing life?
MaryAnn: The first sale I made was to The Saturday Evening Post for a humorous poem about an argument between my then small children. This sale was humorous in that I am not a funny person by nature, and I had no clue what I was doing when I submitted to this major magazine. I was like the bumblebee who does not know that, aerodynamically, it cannot fly but flies anyway. The Lord used this sale to confirm His call on my life to write for Him.

Catherine: Do you have a funny story relating to your writing or an event?
MaryAnn: Yes. My husband and I met through a newspaper article I’d submitted (at my mother’s request) to my local paper about my earning my Master’s degree. My husband will tell you that my article was really a want-ad for a husband. We just celebrated our 50thwedding anniversary.

Catherine: Did you find a fascinating fact/story while doing research for your book?
MaryAnn: Yes. While researching my latest novel, In Black and White, I was quite surprised and chagrined to discover that the seven suburban communities named “Levittown” and built during the late 1940s and 1950s were racially segregated communities, as stipulated in their sales agreements. This sad fact gave me a backdrop for a portion of my story

Catherine: What are you currently working on and what attracted you to this project?

MaryAnn: I am currently working on two projects. The first is a compilation of the poems I have written over the last 40 years. The book will be called Poems for All Seasons, as the poetry deals not only with every chronological season of life, but also with the spiritual seasons of our lives.

The second project is a historical novel titled The Urchin of Naples and based on a story my late mother told me when I was a child. My mother was born and raised in Naples, and I have visited the city several times.

Catherine: What’s one thing you want our readers to hear from you today?
MaryAnn: I would like our readers to know that Jesus loves them just as they are and just where they are, and that He is the answer to their every need.

   

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is an award-winning author who writes riveting fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. Her latest novel, IN BLACK AND WHITE, a love story about racism, released in November 2019.

MaryAnn has also written THE ITALIAN CHRONICLES trilogy, a page-turning, family saga revolving around the life of Maria Landro, a woman torn between two worlds, and who must choose between them. MaryAnn’s books for children include five picture books: WHO IS JESUS?, TOBY TOO SMALL, CANDLE LOVE, THE DANDELION PATCH, and POEMS FOR WEE ONES and one chapter book: DO ANGELS RIDE PONIES?

MaryAnn lives in New Jersey with her husband Dom. They’ve been married 50 years and are the blessed parents of two wonderful daughters, a very smart son-in-law, and six rambunctious grandchildren. When not writing, MaryAnn loves to paint, play the piano, and make up silly songs with her grandchildren. You can learn more about MaryAnn at maryanndiorio.com.

MaryAnnDiorioInBlackandWhiteBookCover

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