When Dawn Breaks by Jennifer Slattery

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Today, one of my good friends, Jennifer Slattery, joins us to talk about her newest release, When Dawn Breaks. Let’s start at the beginning. Have you always wanted to be an author?

Jennifer: Actually, no. In fact, I think, before answering the call to write, I wanted to be anything BUT! Anything that would earn a paycheck and retirement. *wink* Although I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I often wrote to further ministry goals and such. But I didn’t consider it as a career and calling until God made it clear that was what He wanted me to do. And even then, I fought Him for a bit. Oh, I was more than happy to write for Him, so long as I could also pursue a career with a definite paycheck. But He made it clear, He wanted me to surrender… without putting a safety net in place or forming a back-up plan. That was the hard part!

Surrender. That’s always the tough part. Now that you are writing, what’s your schedule like? Do you write every day?

Jennifer: Every day except Sunday, yes, usually. That doesn’t mean I work on a story every day. Some days I’ve got articles to write, blog posts and interviews to get out, etc. Although I do try to keep my head in whatever story I’m working on every day. I say try because, well, life happens.

Boy, does it! I must say your stories are always wonderful, all the way through. What’s your favorite method for keeping a story’s middle from sagging?

Jennifer: Hm… I’m not sure if I have an answer to this question. I hope this won’t get me stoned or kicked out of the writers’ club, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a sagging middle. The reason being, I’m a plotter, so if I don’t have enough to carry a story when I’m plotting, I keep brainstorming and researching. So I suppose that would be my answer to your question, though I know that declaration puts me at an even greater risk for stoning. *chuckle*

I don’t throw stones…only tomatoes. 🙂 When Dawn Breaks is now on the shelves. I’ve just started reading my copy. How are you marketing this book?

Jennifer: You know, I’ve been thinking about this. I have some speaking engagements and signings lined up, and I’ve done radio interviews, blog tours, and such. But I’d like to learn more about marketing; to try some new things. … As soon as I discover some new things to try! I have a book on my to-be-read pile called Grassroots Marketing. I’ve read it before but it’s been a while. I’ll let you know if I discover any nuggets.

Please do! One last question: Have you ever had a funny experience connected with being an author?

Jennifer: Not hugely, though I’ve been told my head bobs excessively when I write, which can be a tad embarrassing when I’m working in public. 🙂

Thanks so much, Jennifer, for being our guest on the Writing Prompts blog today!

When Dawn Breaks:WhenDawnBreaks_N154102_300dpiRGB

As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution motivate her to head north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. Dealing with his own issues, Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. And then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here

You can buy a copy here:

On Amazon

On Barnes and Noble

On CBD

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her teenage daughter and coffee dates with her handsome railroader husband.
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.

A Healthy New Year means…Exercise!

Age-Appropriate Exercise for a Writer by Holly Michael

10477885_2449505157705_5786971314081009657_n“Can you find my old rollerblades?” Jake, my twenty-five year old son asked, during a recent visit home with fiancé, Emma. (Jake is a professional athlete, an NFL player. Emma is a coach/personal trainer/fitness blogger-that’s Jake and Emma in the photo)

I retreated to the basement and dug out Jake’s size fourteen rollerblades that I had special ordered when he was in the fifth grade. (Yeah, he was a big boy then, too).

I also found my old rollerblades and wondered…if I could sell them on eBay. Hey, at my age, my rollerblading days were long over. But, back in the day, I’d slip on those wheels nearly every day and race the kids on their bikes and scooters around the neighborhood.

Hanging out with my athletic cutie-pies over the holidays, including daughter Betsy (grad student) and son Nick (tight end with the Ragin Cajuns) inspired me to exercise more in the new year. (Not rollerblading).

IMG_7740But, as a full-time writer, excuses ran through my head. I must write books! No time to exercise!

The scale argued back.

So…starting out in the new year, I settled on age-appropriate exercise that would fit with my busy schedule.

This is what works: I set my timer for one hour and do nothing but write. No Facebook. No Twitter. No Pinterest. Then when the timer goes off, I leave my writing and spend five to ten minutes at some form of cardio exercise—treadmill, fast walk around the block, run up and down stairs. Then, repeat.

It works for me! If you would like more intense exercise and fitness tips from Emma, in the picture at the top, check out her fitness blog.

I’m certainly not as fit as my kids, but I’m determined to write more and be healthy in 2015.

Writing Prompt:

Complete the prompt below for an extra entry in our quarterly drawings! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments

file0001574547398In a dim corner of the basement, Katy spied her rollerblades under branches of an old fake Christmas tree and tangled non-working lights. She tugged the blades, then fell backwards landing on her bottom.

Unwrapping strands of lights from around her arms and neck, she sighed. “I’m too old and too clutzy to rollerblade.” It’d been almost two decades since she jammed to “I Like to Move it” at Hot Wheel Skating Rink.

Katy stood, unhurt. While the extra pounds she’d gained over the holidays had provided extra cushion, they had to go. She dusted herself off and carried the blades upstairs.

In the living room, Frank looked up from the football game. His eyebrows formed a deep V. “Honey, are you sure you want to put those one? It’s been awhile.”

“Yes, I’m sure.” Katy huffed and ventured out the front door. She sat on the porch and strapped on her blades. She pushed off, then looked up and… 

(photo of rollerblades courtesy of morgue file)

3 Questions Wednesday with Jennifer Slattery

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Today we welcome author and blogger, Jennifer Slattery, to 3 Questions Wednesday.

Let’s get right to the questions, Jennifer. Which author would you never get tired of, and why?

Jennifer: I’d probably have to say Mary Connealy, because she can write with depth and humor, and she doesn’t shy away from real life issues. I love inspirational romance novels, but I like those that have more meat to them. I also enjoy Jenny B. Jones. That girl is hilarious! And she’s written about some important stuff, too, like foster kids and such.

I like humor in a book myself. Also a “good” bad guy or gal. Who is your favorite fictional villain?

Jennifer: I wonder if this would give too much away…. I’ll have to say this is a bit vaguely. *wink* I’m reading A Bride in Store by Melissa Jagears, and I love her villain because, well, we don’t know he’s a villain until we’re 147 pages in. How’s that for a plot twist? I’d say more but then I’d spoil it.

I love the idea for a late twist. Let’s talk about you for a moment.What project are you currently working on?

Jennifer: While waiting for big-picture edits for my third novel, releasing in October, I’m finishing up a sequel to Beyond I Do that I really hope my publisher will contract! This one follows the story of Angela Meadows, the heroine’s mother in Beyond I Do.

Angela Meadows is ready for a clean slate, to launch a career, and to embrace her new life in Christ. But self-loathing and remorse for a life forever lost hold her back. When she encounters a single mom married to an incarcerated felon and her children, Angela’s shame becomes swallowed by something greater—compassion. Her past draws her to them, but will it drive away the only man she’s truly loved?

Thanks, Jennifer, for joining us on 3 Questions Wednesday.

When Dawn BreaksWhenDawnBreaks_N154102_300dpiRGB

As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution motivate her to head north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. Dealing with his own issues, Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. And then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here

You can buy a copy:

On Amazon

On Barnes and Noble

On CBD

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her teenage daughter and coffee dates with her handsome railroader husband.
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.

One Must-Make Resolution for the New Year (& Ramen Noodles)

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By Anne Garboczi Evans

Healthy for a New Year, didn’t we all make some kind of resolution about that? You’d think we’d all be the healthiest people that ever lived with all the resolutions we make. But we’re not . . . Why?

My husband and I are finishing up our certification as foster parents. (I’m actually releasing a picture book about Foster Care in May, if you want to check it out.) As foster parents, you meet a lot of very unhealthy people. Moms addicted to drugs, dads murdering other gang members. Women who have had a dozen protection orders put out against their sex offender baby daddy, but still are “in love,” so choose the man over keeping their kids (from three different baby daddies) safe. Physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, any way you look at it, these people just aren’t healthy.

I used to counsel incarcerated teen parents from similar backgrounds of drugs, domestic violence, and gang activity. I couldn’t help but like the kids. They were smart, funny, charming even, and they had big dreams. They wanted to become a professional singer, get an internship as a welder, go to school for engineering. I’d think, “You can get out of this jail and poverty cycle. You can do it. You’re so close.”

Then I’d turn my back and, boom they’re back on meth, robbed a drugstore for a gang, started dating a gangbanger with murder on his rap sheet, and gave birth to baby #3.

There was a part of the kids I counseled that really wanted to be healthy. But the immediate lure of self-destructive behavior overpowered that urge.

And at night as I pondered all the stories the kids had told me in counseling that day, I saw a scary amount of myself in those kids. I don’t do drugs, or break the law, or date gangbangers. But I think we all have some self-destructive tendencies. You see that part of your life that’s not healthy, and you want it to be healthy. But somehow, year after year, things don’t change. And while it may be because the world’s out to get you, it may not.

I see people befriend the same horrible type of person over and over again, and then wonder why all their friendships fail. I see people overtax themselves year after year, and then wonder why they keep having mental breakdowns. I see people be rude and mean, and then wonder why nobody likes them. I see people fill an emotional need with an addiction to all sorts of things, and then wonder why they aren’t able to break the addiction.

The more years I counsel, the more I’m convinced people are creatures of habit. No matter how much we want to be healthy, we go and make the exact same mistakes this year that we made last year. Old mistakes feel familiar, and kind of “right.” Health, on the other hand, can feel like an elusive goal too far on the horizon to realistically grasp.

So like the incarcerated kids I counseled, it’s always next time. Next time, my kids said, they wouldn’t use that heroin needle. Next time, they’d say no when the gang asked them to steal. Next time, they’d date a nice guy, not someone they met in jail with a rap sheet ten pages long.

But life isn’t lived in next times. Life is lived today. Our choices today define who we are “next time.”

Which reminds me of a funny story about a pack of Ramen noodles I opened at age 24. I loved eating Ramen noodles throughout college. I didn’t really approve of Ramen noodles nutrition wise, but I was a college student. So hey, rite of passage.

At 24, as I peeled open the wrapper to a pack of Ramen noodles, I suddenly realized I could no longer say I just ate Ramen noodles in college. If I kept eating Ramen noodles, then I would be a Ramen-noodle-eater person who thinks Ramen noodles are an appropriately nutritious lunch. Ramen noodles would define my idea of nutrition. Did I want to be a Ramen-noodle-eating person for my whole life?

Don’t be a Ramen-noodle-eater person this year just because it’s comfortable. Look at the life choices that haven’t been working for you the last two years, five years, ten years and change something. After all, even my juvenile delinquent teen parents could say, “I want to be healthy.” The proof that you’re pursuing health is in the changes you make.

blog picAnne Garboczi Evans is a mental health counselor, military spouse, and mama to a 3 year old little boy, “Joe-Joe.” Find out more about her on her Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/annegarboczievans

What’s for Dinner? Fine Dining in the Regency Era

Michelle Griep HeadshotGuest post by Michelle Griep

Frozen pizza is a great go-to meal when you’ve endured a frazzled day of work, errands and carpooling—but not if you lived in early nineteenth century England. Dinner wasn’t just a meal. It was an event, especially when combined with a ball.

The punch table would sustain you for a while as you swirled through dance after dance, but eventually everyone’s tummy would start growling. It wasn’t uncommon for “dinner” to be served around midnight, when you’d enter a sparkling dining room, candlelight glinting off silver and crystal. But your contemporary appetite might be a little squelched when you find out what might be served . . .

Meat Pies

Who doesn’t like a good chicken potpie? That depends upon your definition of good. Meat pies served in the 1800’s didn’t just have a crust slapped on top. They had an entire bird head and wings sticking out.

Baby Eel Gelatin

What kind of cartoon bubble does that bring up in your mind? If it makes you go, “Eew!” then you’re right on track. Baby eels look like big worms, and you’d see their little eyes staring at you because I’m not talking cherry Jell-O—they’d be served in a clear gelatin. Add a little jiggle to that when the dish was spooned out and you might not be as hungry as you thought.

Golden Sweetmeats

No actual meat involved in this one, but as for the gold, 24 karat baby. Picture a delicious, chocolaty truffle, just the right size to pop into your mouth. Now add in a golden coating—of real gold. I don’t know about you, but personally, I like to wear my jewelry, not eat it.

Oysters on the Half Shell

Okay, so this one isn’t so strange, and is still considered somewhat of a delicacy even today. But it wasn’t for the hero in my new release, BRENTWOOD’S WARD. When Nicholas Brentwood, a street-wise lawman, is faced with a plate of raw oysters in a dining room, surrounded by those who are used to such fare, he’s forced to man-up and let them slide down his throat. It’s a dinner scene he—and the reader—is not likely to forget.

And that’s only one of his adventures . . .Brentwood's Ward Cover Peek

There’s none better than NICHOLAS BRENTWOOD at catching the felons who ravage London’s streets, and there’s nothing he loves more than seeing justice carried out—but this time he’s met his match. Beautiful and beguiling EMILY PAYNE is more treacherous than a city full of miscreants and thugs, for she’s a thief of the highest order…she’s stolen his heart.

As for me, I’m pretty thankful that some of yesteryear’s dishes are no longer in vogue, because I’d much rather sit down to a meal that doesn’t include feathers, heads, or precious metals.

About the Author

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager.

She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones.

Follow her adventures at her blog WRITER OFF THE LEASH or visit michellegriep.com, and don’t forget the usual haunts of Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter.