Saturday, November 30, 2013

Life Lessons from Patti J. Smith

Please join me for a special weekend post with fellow Helping Hands Press author Patti J. Smith!  Welcome Patti! :)

In case you haven't had the pleasure of meeting her yet, Patti's specialty is devotions. Hop over to her Amazon author page to check them out.


When I tell people I was raised in the military, many say, “That must have been
hard”. In some respects it was with constant moves, leaving family and friends and
being the new kid at school; however, in contrast to those hardships, there was an
atmosphere of excitement and adventure whenever my dad got his orders. One
such assignment was Nouasseur Air Force Base, Morocco – right outside of

The military was integral part of the local economy by hiring domestic and
landscape services. We had a maid, Fatna Omar (who we called Nanna), and a
gardener, Bashir. Nanna not only kept our home impeccable, she taught my sister
and I French and Arabic. There would be days assigned where she would only speak
French or Arabic, which made learning the language easy. In fact, when we returned
stateside, we could both speak French with ease and retained quite a bit of Arabic.
She also shared local recipes with my mom, my favorite being Couscous, durum
wheat (rice-like) served with chicken and vegetables. Our yard was absolutely
beautiful as Bashir took great pride in his handiwork. They were warm, loving
people who quickly integrated into our family.

What I'll always remember is the joy they brought into our lives. Never did we see a
frown or words of anger. They were sincerely happy people. They not only showered
us with as much love as they did their own families, but always brought my sister
and I home-made trinkets that became instant treasures. Although they saw how we
lived with all the modern conveniences, they were satisfied with what they had.
They lived in shacks, with dirt floors, no running water or electricity yet were
content with their meager surroundings...and always proudly welcomed us into their

While we were there the base closed which proved disastrous for the economy. My
mom and dad were so worried about Nanna and Bashir they gave them a year's
salary as severance to keep them going until they could find something else. They
both tried to refuse but with much prodding, they finally accepted the gift with great
humility. Leaving them was very hard because we knew we would never see them
again, but the life lesson they shared with us will be held in our hearts forever:

“True happiness is not having what you want but wanting what you have.”

Thank you, Patti, for sharing with us today. Wish you all the best with your 

You can find out more about Patti and her books on her blog, Gridiron Granny, on
Pinterest, or on Amazon. 

How was your Thanksgiving? What are you up to this weekend?

Happy writing,


P.S. I'm visiting Patti's blog today. If you have a moment,
hop over!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! 

For His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 106:1

A thankful heart, no matter what time of year, is a good thing, don't you think? 

Friends, family, a gracious heavenly Father - these top my list.

How about you?

What are you thankful for?

I wish you a wonderful season filled 

with pleasant times with those dear to you.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanks for your support and friendship,

Karen  :)

Photo credit: Stock Exchange

Monday, November 25, 2013

Do You Have a Theme?

Congrats to author Susan J. Reinhardt! She's celebrating the release of her second book, The Scent of Fear

We'll share more about this book soon when Susan stops by on her blog tour. In the meantime, Susan offers her thoughts on themes and lessons learned in fiction versus non fiction in this guest post. 

Entertainment, Enlightenment, Enrichment 

I've written both non-fiction and fiction. A recent conversation with a reader had me scratching my head. The person dismissed my novel saying, "I just can't get past the fact it's something someone made up."


Most authors have a theme in mind. Their stories illustrate principles such as forgiveness, mercy, the consequences of bad behavior, the blessings of wisdom, and many others. Fiction, whether meant for entertainment, enlightenment, or enrichment, will put forth the author's views about life.

We're in good company.

When the prophet came to David and told him a story about a man with a cherished lamb and how someone stole it, the king was enraged. The prophet used a fictional story to drive home his point that David had sinned with Bathsheba.

Jesus illustrated many of His sermons with parables. They were stories with a message. Hmm, it seems to me that fiction is a vehicle to promote truth and ideas just as non-fiction is. It's a different method but a valid one nonetheless.

Writers and Readers: What's your opinion on the subject? Agree or disagree and why?

Thanks, Susan, for sharing with us! To learn more about Susan and her books, visit her blog. Find The Scent of Fear on Amazon.

I'll be back on Wednesday with a special Thanksgiving post. See you then!

Happy reading and writing,


Monday, November 18, 2013

Spotlight on Author Ann Gabhart

Ann Gabhart is back!  This sweet and busy writer has three titles out this fall.  In case you haven't met Ann yet, she is the author of several bestselling novels, and has been called a storyteller, which is not a bad thing for somebody who never wanted to do anything but write down stories. :) She’s published twenty-five novels with more stories on the way. 

Here's what she's been up to:

Small Town Girl - In the autumn of 1941, rumors of war whisper through Rosey Corner. The town practically vibrates in anticipation, as if it is holding its breath. But for Kate Merritt, it seems life is letting out a prolonged sigh. As Kate watches her sister marry the man Kate has loved since she was fifteen, her heart is silently breaking. And even the attentions of Jay Tanner, the handsome best man, can't draw her interest.

Then suddenly, Pearl Harbor changes everything. Kate's friends are rushing to get married before the boys go off to war. The newspapers talk of women making airplanes and bombs. Everyone in town begins rolling bandages, planting victory gardens, collecting scrap metal. Kate finds herself drawn to Jay in surprising ways, and when he enlists she can hardly breathe worrying about him getting killed. Could she truly be in love with him? And if she is, will she ever see him again?


Orchard of Hope, is Book Two in the Heart of Hollyhill series - Nothing will be the same after the summer of 1964. Drought has gripped the quiet Kentucky town of Hollyhill, and the town seems as if it is holding its breath--waiting. Jocie Brooke is nervous about starting high school. Her sister Tabitha is experiencing the weariness of waiting for a new baby. Her father David is feeling the timidity of those first steps toward true love. All of these pivotal steps in life are awaiting the Brooke family. Into this cloud of tense anticipation, the Hearndons move their family from Chicago to plant an orchard outside of town. Fresh off the Freedom Train, Myra Hearndon is sensitive to what the color of her skin may mean in a Southern town. Her family will have to contend with more than the dry ground and blazing sun as they try to create their orchard of hope. In this close-knit community, everything is about to change. Let this riveting novel take you along to experience unexpected love, new life, and renewed faith amid life's trials.

Ann shared a little background on writing the third title, Christmas at Harmony Hill.
Her agent suggested writing a sweet, gentle "Hallmark Channel-like" story. Ann said,
"My research into how the Shakers celebrated Christmas in the 1860’s opened up story ideas. Every year shortly before Christmas, the Shakers observed a day of atonement they called Sacrifice Day. On this day, they were to leave behind any grudges, hard feelings and disaffection toward their brothers or sisters. They were to ask forgiveness from those they had wronged and from the Lord. Anything that was settled on Sacrifice Day could never again be brought forward against anyone in their family of believers. They were also to offer forgiveness fully and completely to those they felt had done harm against them. All this fit in with my story’s theme of forgiveness.

But somewhere along the way as I was writing, I must have mislaid my agent’s advice. I doubt readers would classify Christmas at Harmony Hill as sweet or gentle. I’d be pleased if they found the love story touching. Still, Christmas at Harmony Hill is more historical novel than the usual Christmas novella. The story’s set in December 1864 with the Civil War drawing to a close. Gideon is still fighting for the Union Army while Heather returns home to have their baby. When she finds no welcome at her father’s house, she seeks shelter in the Shaker village where her Aunt Sophrena, the Shaker journalist in The Gifted, has lived for many years. Sister Sophrena is ready to help Heather even as she is beginning to doubt her own Shaker walk. And so Christmas comes to Harmony Hill."

Wishing Ann all the best with these and future releases. Looking forward to reading them!

To find out more about Ann or her books visit Feel free also to check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

Have you read any of Ann's books? What's on your to be read pile these days?

Happy reading and writing,


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Do You Love to Write?

Did you know? 

November 15 is I Love to Write Day

Author John Riddle is the creator of this little known celebration, which is recognized by the governors of nine states. If you are a resident of Delaware, New Jersey, Kentucky, Maryland, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, or Florida you will be pleased to know that this day has been officially noted in your state.

Mr. Riddle started ILTWD in 2002, thinking that it would be a good way to celebrate the art of writing and to hold the “world’s largest party for writers.”

He goes on to say, "My goal for I Love to Write Day is simple; people of all ages are encouraged to write something. A poem, a letter, an essay, start a novel, finish a novel...the possibilities are endless!" 

Visit the I Love to Write Day site for more info. 

Don't you love Mr. Riddle's idea? Even for writers, it offers an extra measure of enthusiasm and thankfulness for what we do. 

How will you celebrate this special day? 

Writing for NaNoWriMo, blog posts, an article, a journal, or flash fiction? 

Please share your writing adventures, big or small, with us. :)

Have a great weekend!

Happy writing,


Photo credit: Stock Exchange