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41iyrgl-shl-_sx322_bo1204203200_The Reluctant Caregiver is a realistic but inspiring non-fiction book by Canadian author, Bobbi Junior.

In the midst of work, family, and church and community involvement, Bobbi tells of her journey with her mother through the onset of dementia. This is difficult enough, but since theirs has never been a close relationship, the tension and stress can be exhausting. How do you help someone who doesn’t want your help?

This book is easy to read because it’s a story. But more than that, it is a chronicle of Bobbi’s determination to let go of her own agenda for her mom, and turn it all over to the Lord Jesus. Her recorded prayers and thoughts offer gentle encouragement to the weary soul.

At times, the story of Bobbi’s journey with her mom is very sad. When her mother becomes confused, she is difficult to understand. What does she mean when she says, “I just don’t know. Anyway, here too. I just don’t.” Or when she declares that there are people living in her house at night. Or when “the people” are going to come for the rent. She has forgotten that she owns her home.

The hardest parts for me to read were the mother’s outbursts, suspicions and accusations flung at Bobbi and her brother, when they were sacrificing time, energy and money to help her.

I found this book moving in its honesty about life. Sometimes we face obstacles that keep piling up, seemingly insurmountable. However, I also found it immensely encouraging that Jesus knows every step, and His timing is impeccable. If we allow Him to lead in our lives, He will work everything out for the best.

I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling to help a parent or elder who suffers with dementia or Alzheimers, and especially to those of the sandwich generation who already have more than enough challenges with children and jobs.

If only for Bobbi’s heartfelt prayers and talks with God, this book is a blessing. Add the story of her relationship with her mother and it’s also an invaluable resource.

Take a look at Bobbi’s website for more.

Bobbi Junior

Bobbi Junior

 

Why Before What

The old and sometimes annoying question rises again: Why do I write?

I can’t say, as some writers do, that I can’t not write. I’d probably survive if I didn’t, but I would be much less of a person because I’d be denying the creative spirit within me. The one that comes from God. After all, our gifts are from the Father, and we ought not ignore them. I am so thankful that God has chosen me to use words to tell others about Him.

Why do I write?

When I think back to my first book, a historical novel set in pre-WWI Russia, I saw my story as:

1) a way of preserving my family history (“Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation” Joel 1:3.)

2) a way of passing on the story of God’s faithfulness in the past

So I had an idea of the why. As my books were published and I had the opportunity to present readings, I met people who shared my history and my faith story. It was then I realized that my readers were part of the “why.” They had invested in my books, so I wanted to share truthfully and faithfully. I wanted to influence them to see the God I had met through my stories.

I often find myself working through issues, beliefs, values or personal decisions as I create my stories. As writers, we become very vulnerable to those who read what we write. And it’s only in this way that we can engage readers, through our characters, and introduce them to the Father’s love.

As Kristy Cambron wrote recently in her Novel Rocket blog, Called to Story, we need to know the “why” before we attack the “how.” My favorite quote from this post is: [The why is] “a reminder of our eternal motivation when earthly setbacks threaten to derail.”

 

So let’s keep in mind why we write as a prerequisite to the “how” and the “what.”

On that note: why do you write?

I read something on Facebook this morning that resonated with me:

Discussion is always better than argument because argument is to find

“who is right” and discussion is to find “what is right.”

(origin unknown)

As writers who work from a Christian worldview, we need to know what we believe, and to communicate those truths clearly. It’s a huge responsibility. We must be accurate and insightful, led by God’s Spirit.

However, I see a trend coming in. Again. I know it’s as old as time but it concerns me nonetheless. We are being distracted from the main truths of our faith by those who incite arguments about the details. The small things. The insidious whispers that interrupt and infiltrate our lives and our work.

I have experienced some of this distraction in my own life, and it is always about “who is right.” By wasting time and energy, and creating alienation, we can be led away from communicating the important tenets of faith.

 

 

 

I suggest we need to focus on the basics, the core of Scripture, the heart of the Gospel. One concise statement of faith is the Apostles’ Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

 If we enjoy discussion on details beyond this succinct statement, that’s fine. But let’s not be distracted from the work God has given us to do by those who prefer arguments.

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” II Timothy 2:23.

“But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless” Titus 3:9.

And, let’s pray for a heart of love, which helps us to understand others, withstand temptation, and stand strong in every area of our lives.

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Amish Brides by Jennifer Beckstrand, Molly Jebber, Amy Lillard — Under bright blue skies, wedding bells ring–fulfilling sweet dreams, impossible wishes, and joyous new beginnings among these three new stories. (Contemporary Romance from Kensington Publishers)


Sprouts of Love by Valerie Comer — An overzealous community garden manager delivers more than the food bank manager can handle. Can love sprout amid the tsunami of vegetables? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Summer Dreams by Delia Latham — God’s love…reflected in the waters of the Pacific, and in the eyes of a young couple who walk its moonstone shores. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])


Right Where We Belong by Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg, Courtney Walsh — Three sweet stories of small-town romance by three tried-and-true authors. Whether in a quaint home bakery in Langhorne, Missouri, a cozy boho coffee shop in Maple Valley, Iowa, or a charming lakeside cottage in Sweethaven, Michigan, love grows best in small towns just like this! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

A Spring of Weddings by Toni Shiloh and Melissa Wardwell — Two Spring wedding novellas, “A Proxy Wedding,” and “Hope Beyond Savannah.” (Contemporary Romance from Celebrate Lit Publishing)


True to You by Becky Wade — Former Navy SEAL John Lawson hires genealogist Nora Bradford to help him to uncover the identity of his birth mother. As they work side-by-side, this pair of opposites begins to suspect that they just might be a perfect match. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Cozy Mystery:

What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman — A fire blazes out of control in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, leaving an elderly, Amish bachelor dead. Bishop Henry Lapp rushes to the scene, and he learns the fire was no accident. When the police point the finger at a suspect Henry knows is innocent, the bishop must decide whether or not to use his mysterious, God-given gift—one he’s tried desperately to ignore all these years—to try and set the record straight. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House Publishers)

General Contemporary:
A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal — The heart wrenching love story of a small town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York, of the two men who love her and of the forbidden kiss that changed everything. (General Contemporary from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Looking Glass Lies by Varina Denman — A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations. (General Contemporary from Waterfall Press)

Historical:


Blind Ambition by Carol Ashby — What began as a bored man’s decision to try a different road turns into an emotional and spiritual quest that changes the direction of his entire life. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette — A broken and bitter Canaanite woman dresses as a man to fight against the invading Hebrews, never expecting that she would live to be captured and married to one of her enemies, and certainly not to find love and healing among the very people who killed her family. (Biblical/Historical from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)

Historical Romance:


The Secret Admirer Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Lorraine Beatty, Molly Noble Bull, Anita Mae Draper, CJ Dunham, Jennifer Uhlarik, Becca Whitham, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Penny Zeller — Shy expressions of love lead to nine historical romances. Declaring one’s love can be hard–even risky–especially when faced with some of life’s greatest challenges. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson — She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)


My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca’s Plight by Susanne Dietze — It’s a mail-order disorder when newlyweds realize they’ve married the wrong partners with similar names. An annulment seems in order–and fast. But when the legalities take longer than expected, Rebecca Rice wonders if Tad Fordham wasn’t the right husband for her all along. . . . (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Love So True by Melissa Jagears — They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David’s dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)


Road to Harmony by Sherry Kyle — When Jonas returns to Harmony, Elena’s heart is torn between her secret love, and the storeowner her parents hope she marries. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Hills of Nevermore by Janalyn Voigt — Can a young widow hide her secret shame from the Irish preacher bent on helping her survive? (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Romantic Suspense:
Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman — Each day could be her last…but not if he can help it. An FBI agent must protect the woman who can identify a terrorist bomber in bestselling author Susan Sleeman’s riveting romantic suspense novel. (Romantic Suspense from Faith Words [Hachette])

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I love rural living. I was born and raised on a farm, and later married a farmer. It’s the best life. I love the peace and solitude, the privacy, the space to live away from the gawking eyes of others.

But there is one thing in particular that detracts from this utopic life. It’s the problem of mail / courier service.

I don’t mind driving to pick up my mail, and I’m thankful we still have service in our little hamlet. But international companies often refuse to send items through Canada Post. A PO Box does not, in their estimation, constitute an official address. I’ve offered my land description (including the color of my house), but they don’t think that’s funny.

I realize in cities, people can choose mailboxes in order to remain anonymous. But where I live, my box number is my address. 

Example: I ordered two boxes of my books from amazon. I pleaded with them to send by mail, but they cannot do that, especially to a foreign country like Canada. I contacted Canada Customs, and they told me all my out-of-country packages go to Winnipeg, so if I can pick them up there, it’s all good. Only an eight-hour drive.

If, however, I want my order to come nearer to my home, I have to use UPS, for a small fee. UPS takes it as far as Saskatoon, and then offloads to a truck delivery service. Since I don’t have a street address, I have asked the community center (which houses the municipal office) to accept my parcels, where I pick them up once I’ve been notified. BUT, if I don’t know when the truck arrives, I’m not there to pick up the parcels and pay the fee, so the trucker—in this case, Mario— takes them back to Saskatoon, and the circus begins.

This time I managed to pay the fee over the phone, so the truck will drop off my books tomorrow, paid. I hope.

I still wouldn’t trade my rural life for regular courier service, but I would love to receive my orders through the mail.

Have you experienced something similar? What have you done about it?

 

I’m pleased to welcome Alberta author, Eleanor Bertin, to my site today.Eleanor Bertin, author

JANICE: Eleanor, how long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

ELEANOR: My sister was the first to plant in my head the idea that I could write. In a Grade 3 school assignment, she marveled that I had used the phrase, “Mother’s voice trailed away.” What can I say? I was an avid reader with a particular giftedness in plagiarism. Fear of unoriginality still plagues me.

JANICE: Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

ELEANOR: My high school English teachers offered encouraging comments on my writing. For example, one essay was returned with a good grade and the comment, “Is this your own work?” (By that time, it truly was.) My college profs were a little more positive in their appraisals.

JANICE: That kind of early encouragement can make such a difference in our confidence. What’s your preferred genre?

ELEANOR: A quick survey of my work forces me to answer “fiction.” My first novel, Lifelines, came out last April and I am at work on two others. But I recently completed a non-fiction book, Pall of Silence, and sent it off to a contest. It’s a memoir about our late son Paul who was killed four years ago in a hit-and-run incident at the age of eighteen.Lifelines, by Eleanor Bertin

JANICE: I’m so sorry for your loss. That is traumatic. It partially answers my next question—why do you write?

ELEANOR: 1) I write to untangle my thought threads, making them coherent and cohesive. 2) I write to forthtell truth.

JANICE: How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

ELEANOR: I’ve evolved to the point of composing on a keyboard. Much of my first novel was written longhand as I waited at the swimming pool or shared a guest room with my special needs son while visiting my daughter in Texas. I used to find the blinking of the cursor on a blank white screen as stressful as my husband tapping his foot while I browsed in a fabric store. But I’m getting over that.

I am growing to become more of a plotter. I see the value of organizing the flow of a fictional narrative from the outset, rather than doing all the re-arranging of chapters that I did with my first. I expect it to eliminate the problem of missing information or repetition.

JANICE: I agree that it’s an evolving process. Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

ELEANOR: I find people and their stories endlessly fascinating. Truth, indeed, is stranger than fiction! But I write fiction to protect the guilty (or innocent, as the case may be). It’s been a special satisfaction to me when readers say they like my characters.

JANICE: How do you research and how do you know you can trust your sources?

ELEANOR: I can’t get over how wonderful it is to have the biggest library in the world – the Internet—at my fingertips! In college, my recurring nightmare was having a tight deadline and the libraries all being closed. The issue of trust is a concern for everyone, not just writers. In fact, there’s a clash in my book between a scientist and a conspiracy theorist. The best I can say is, read a variety of sources, from differing points of view, and pray for discernment.

JANICE: What do you like most / least about writing?

ELEANOR: I get a surge of adrenaline when I finish a scene or chapter and just know that I’ve nailed it. The dialogue rings true, the tension or conflict is right, the word choice works, the characterization is spot on. The thing I least like is planning and researching. But it is worth it! I’m also not keen on writing from a point of view that is foreign to me. When I began Lifelines I planned for the main character to not only be a man but also to be a rabid proponent of a worldview hostile to Christianity. But it was too hard to write him that way. Not far into it, I transferred the hostility to a lesser character and made my professor more uncertain and conflicted.

JANICE: We definitely learn by doing. Let’s switch from writing to promotion. What are some of the best methods of promoting your work?

ELEANOR: I wish I knew! 🙂 So far, I’d have to say: Rhonda! Every writer should have a sister-in-law who is a church librarian, town librarian and has a broad base of acquaintances that fit my target audience. I did learn that small town libraries are very willing to host author talks, but the turnout is small. But I did get one review through that avenue.

JANICE: That’s a great suggestion. What are your favorite / most effective social media?

ELEANOR: I enjoy blogging and I’m always surprised at who might read it. I’m only learning twitter, trying to expand my use of my author page on Facebook, and I gained a wonderful friend and super-helpful critique partner, Janell Butler Wojtowicz, through LinkedIn. In fact, her book, Embracing Hope, just came out last fall.

JANICE: I believe that writers must also be readers. What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

ELEANOR: Books on my nightstand:

Handling the Truth; on the writing of memoir by Beth Kephart

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien (Giller prize)

What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an by James White

The Great Exchange by Jerry Bridges

— and just finished The Eye of the Storm by Janice Dick (loved it, by the way)

— Margaret’s Peace by Linda Hall

I prefer an actual book, but sure do love the convenience and light weight of my Kindle for travel.

JANICE: (Thanks for the plug!) Tell us a bit about yourself. What are some of your favourite things? What makes you unique?

ELEANOR: My favourite things are people! My husband Mike, our five sons and their wives, our daughter, her husband and our four (soon five!) grandchildren, my mother, my sister (who is an invaluable sounding board for my writing) and many other family and friends.

I also like pretty things, flowers, fabric, sewing, quilts, home decorating, books, Jane Austen movies, thinking deep thoughts.

JANICE: Wish we lived closer. Would be nice to watch Jane Austen and talk about our deep thoughts! (But I’d skip the quilting.) What keeps you going in your writing career?

ELEANOR: Moments of discouragement or tasks that seem insurmountable instantly dissolve when I see a new favourable review, or someone tells me they were helped, encouraged or changed in some way by something I’ve written.

JANICE: How is your faith reflected in your writing?

ELEANOR: While my faith is scrawny and limp, beset by doubts and fears, the One I trust is powerful and sure. I would have no words to offer if it weren’t for The Word, both the Person and the written scripture. But what’s important to me to convey is the intersect between a character’s day-to-day life and their relationship with the living God. Which is why, in my novel, there are no scenes taking place in a church service – the main character is an irreligious man but God is at work on him.                                                                                                        

JANICE: Beautifully said. What are some things you learned from your own writing?

ELEANOR: It’s odd that a writer would learn from her own writing, isn’t it? But that’s exactly what happened with my recently completed memoir. By the time I finished, I realized I’d found healing because it changed the way I viewed our late son. Writing about him allowed me to take a panoramic view of his life, ridding me of bitterness and shame and freeing me to enjoy who he was.

JANICE: I’m so glad it proved therapeutic for you. What is your ultimate writing goal?

ELEANOR: The Heidelberg catechism defines Providence, in part, as all things coming to us, not by chance, but from God’s fatherly hand. My goal is to embed a biblical worldview into stories of ordinary people so that readers will see that Providence in their own lives.

JANICE: Do you have any advice for a beginning writer?

ELEANOR: Start! Set goals! Finish something! Be humble about people’s critiques. Don’t be afraid to submit something for critique, and be willing to make changes. Your first piece (article, poem, book) will not be your best — you will grow! Take advantage of all the wonderful websites and blogs that offer writer advice. There’s a huge readership out there that is voracious for the written word and there’s room for an infinite variety of writers.

JANICE: Thanks again, Eleanor, for spending time with us this morning. May you receive God’s rich blessings on your writing as you reach out to your readers.

For more information about Eleanor Bertin, see her website. Her book, Lifelines, is available in Kindle and paperback formats. You can also see Eleanor on her LinkedIn page.

 

51yrkeijldlThe Reluctant Duchess is the second book in the Ladies of the Manor series by Roseanna M. White. I thought the first one — The Lost Heiress — was a great read, and wondered if the sequel would be as good. It did not disappoint.

In this second story, we meet Rowena Kinnaird, the daughter of the proud and harsh Earl of Lochaber, also chief of the Scottish clan Kinnaird. In order to retain both titles, he offers Rowena, his heir, to Malcolm Kinnaird, who is heir to the chiefdom of the clan. However, when Malcolm treats Rowena shamefully, she tries to disappear inside herself.

Rowena’s maid, Lilias Cowan, a distant relative and loyal friend, conspires with Rowena’s father to protect Rowena from Malcolm.

Rowena is terrified of men, including her new husband. He, however, is committed to the Lord Jesus, and does his upmost to calm her fears and give her time to come out of her shell. It’s a long and bumpy journey, fraught by intrigue, pride, jealousy and greed from several quarters.

This novel is written in a manner fitting the time and place: Scotland and England in 1912. Rowena’s speech, clothing and manners are contrasted with that of the proper English aristocracy, in which she finds herself.

The reader is treated to a strong sense of place, whether in the wild wind and slashing rain of the Scottish Highlands or the staid English gardens and homes.

I enjoyed these contrasts, as well as the intensity of the plot as it progressed with several unexpected twists. But most of all, I was drawn into the beautiful love story between two strangers: the fear and anger on one side, the patience and unconditional love on the other.

Book Three, A Lady Unrivaled is now also available on Amazon.

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