3 Questions Wednesday with Maria I. Morgan

Maria headshot LLBDToday we welcome inspirational writer and speaker Maria I. Morgan  to Writing Prompts.

Hi Maria! So glad you dropped by today.

Which author would you never get tired of, and why?

Maria: Oh this is a challenging question! If it were a fiction book, I’d have to say Jody Hedlund (author of The Preacher’s Bride, Unending Devotion, Beacons of Hope series, etc.). She crafts her stories with research into the history of the time period and places she writes about while developing fictional characters with plenty of depth. Her storylines often include relevant issues of the day that give me pause to think about what it would have been like to grow up in that particular era.

I tend to gravitate toward Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Mary Kassian if I’m reading a non-fiction book. These women are phenomenal at sharing the truths of God’s Word in ways that make it meaningful and memorable. Some of my favorites include: Lies Women Believe: and the Truth that Sets Them Free, True Woman 101: Divine Design, True Woman 201: Interior Design.

Sounds like some great authors. Now let’s talk about the antagonist.

Who is your favorite fictional villain?

Maria: I hope it’s okay to borrow a villain from a fictional movie – because I thought of Vizzini from The Princess Bride. He’s a comical character with a speech impediment who thinks he’s a genius. He has a difficult time keeping the upper hand with his henchmen (who end up defecting to the hero’s side) and his “dizzying intellect” ends up getting him into BIG trouble!

Hey, some of the best villains make their appearance in movies. 🙂 Now a little more about you…

What project are you currently working on?

Maria: Thanks for asking! You could say I’m a glutton for punishment. I’m in the middle of releasing two books for two different audiences.

On October 6th, my second  children’s book, Louie & the Leaf Pile, will officially be released on Amazon! You can find both print and Kindle versions here.

This is the second volume in the Louie the Lawnmower series. Louie wants to be a hero and comes up with a plan to tackle a mountain of autumn leaves. Join Louie and the gang for their all new adventure.

2015 Outrageously Fruitful Cover Design for Createspace 3In mid-November, I’ll be releasing my Bible study, Outrageously Fruitful. It’s a 10-week study on the fruit of the Spirit – designed with the busy female in mind. More on this one soon!

Wow. You are busy but I’m sure its a blessing to be multi-published. Thanks again, Maria, for stopping in!

If you’d like to win a copy of Louie and the Leaf Pile, please leave a comment. One blessed winner will be drawn.

Louie & the Leaf PileV4 - Louie and the Leafpile cover3

Louie the Lawnmower and his friends are back! Louie wants to be a hero and comes up with a plan to tackle a mountain of autumn leaves. Will he succeed or will he forget an important component? Join Louie and the gang in their all-new adventure: Louie & the Leaf Pile.

 

Maria I. Morgan is an inspirational writer and speaker. She is the award-winning author of Louie’s BIG day! Regardless of the age of her audience, her goal is the same: to share God’s truth and make an eternal difference. She lives in the muggy South with her husband, two retrievers, and two Maine coon kitties ~ the perfect mix to fuel her creativity for years to come!

 

First Things First: Football Tailgating Parties

brats

What would football season be without the good food? My wonderful friend and sorority sister, Joan Hallford, suggested I refer to her magazine’s expertise for tailgating menus. The following article can be found at www.tasteofhome.com, or you can click on the links for more delicious recipes. There are also helpful suggestions included for organizing parties, both pre and post-game. Try some new ideas and let us know how you liked them. Enjoy!

Great Tailgate Party Menu

Take time out to tailgate with these fan-favorite recipes.

Grilled Honey-Mustard Brats Recipe

Is it up to you to tackle the task of cooking a meal that you can take to the big game? There’s no need to fumble around the kitchen if you turn to this menu!

Tailgaters love to munch, so this crunchy Smackin’ Good Snack Mix is perfect for a pre-game spread.

taste of home snack mix

Jumbo Greek Sub is just the sandwich for satisfying hearty appetites. Pass the platter and watch slices disappear!

taste of home jumbo Greek Sub

For a side dish that’s teeming with colorful produce and winning flavor, you can’t go wrong with a cool Dressed-Up Vegetable Salad.

Tailgaters and grill-masters are sure to love this Grilled Honey-Mustard Brats recipe and ask for more.

Whether you’re in the stadium parking lot or on your patio, these Southwestern Backyard Burgers are great on the grill.

southwestern backyard burgers

If your gang likes corn chips, they’ll love the sweet and salty blend in these fast-fixing Salty Peanut Squares. They also make great take-along treats for picnics or tailgate parties.

taste of home salty peanut aquares

Sloppy Joe Nachos make a great quick meal, tailgate food or “pig out” dish.

taste of home sloppy joe nachos

These saucy Pigskin Barbecue sandwiches are simple to make for potlucks or tailgate parties and always draw rave reviews.

taste of home pigskin barbeque

Score extra points by packing a big batch of Chocolate Mint Delights.

taste of home chicolate mint delights

With the season full of exciting football action, why not surprise your favorite fan with a Football Cake? Think what a hit it would be at a Super Bowl party…taken along for tailgating at a game…or at a bake sale to raise funds for the local school football squad, cheerleaders or pep band!

taste of home football cake

Great Tips for Tailgating

You’re guaranteed a successful tailgate party with these winning helpful hints:

  • Keep the menu simple. Guests aren’t expecting a seven-course meal at this kind of casual get-together. Three to four homemade dishes should be the maximum. Fill in with purchased items like chips and dip if necessary.
  • When selecting foods, look for ones that are easy to eat while standing up or sitting in a lawn chair. Also, dishes made without perishable ingredients (such as mayonnaise) travel best. Rely on foods that can be made ahead and brought to the event or that can be cooked there on the grill. When transporting, remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • If you’re feeling ambitious, handle all the food yourself and divide the cost among the group. Or assign a food item to each person attending.
  • To get an early start in the morning, pack the car the night before with nonperishable food, chairs and tables. Don’t forget supplies like a blanket or tablecloth to spread over the tailgate and a variety of paper products (plates, napkins, utensils, paper towels, trash bags, resealable plastic bags, etc.).
  • True tailgaters proudly show their support of the team, so dress in team colors or jerseys!
  • Just before heading out, pack the food and beverage coolers. Covered plastic containers work great for all kinds of food because they prevent leaks and won’t break during transport.
  • When you get to the parking lot, fly a team banner so other tailgaters in your group can find you. Or keep in contact with cell phones.
  • Plan on eating at least 45 minutes before the game starts. This gives you time to clean up and pack things away.
  • Before heading into the game, make note of your parking location so you’re not lost in a sea of cars afterward.
  • Instead of fighting traffic jams when the game is over, linger in the parking lot for an hour or so. Rehash the highlights of the game over a snack or dessert.

Tailgating Recipes >

Article and photos courtesy of Taste of Home Magazine. http://www.tasteofhome.com

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

What is your favorite tailgating menu? Please share a recipe (or two) with us.

High School Football and the Age of Innocence

by Harriet Michael

On a late August night, the temperature still sweltering and people still sweating even as the sun went down, I stood on the field with my fellow cheerleaders. A harvest moon rose over our heads and our hearts filled with hope as we eagerly awaited the opening game of what should be a great season. We had most of our starting players returning. I was the co-captain of the cheerleaders. The outlook for this season, my senior year, was promising.

BHS football #2

It was the fall of 1975–many years ago. Much has happened since that warm August night. Karen, the captain of the cheerleaders, and my close friend, died just three years later in a double murder which is still unsolved. Her death shattered the innocence of the sleepy little mountain town in southern West Virginia where I lived. Other members of that team have passed away as well, but we have a few success stories. Donnie, the offensive captain, played football at Wake Forest University. He is now the CFO of an Atlanta-based business. Wayne, a junior that year, also played football at Wake Forest, setting some Atlantic Coast Conference receiving records while there. Joey, the quarterback, is a tenured professor now. I married, moved to Louisville, raised four children, and eventually became a writer. Those of my classmates who remain see each other once in a while at class reunions.

Reunion weekend always starts with tickets to the Beaver-Graham game. It is tradition for my high school, the Bluefield Beavers, to start their season playing cross-town rivals, the Graham G-Men. This annual match up in the same stadium we used in 1975 has much the same feel as it did back then. There is still the cracking of helmets, enthusiastic cheerleaders on the sidelines, excited fans, and the hot August night sky still boasts a harvest moon.

Young Again

As I sat in the stands on such an August evening a few years ago, my mind could not help but wander to bygone days and I was once again on the field next to my friend Karen cheering our team on. We lost only one game that year. Hopes faded as our team dropped into fifth place in the statewide poll. Back then, only the top four teams in the state earned the privilege of moving on to post season play-offs.

But in the middle of the last game of the season, our luck changed. Over the public address system, the announcer loudly proclaimed that George Washington High School was beating Charleston in their season’s last game. A cheer rang out, first in a low rumble then building to a frenzy as the impact of the news sank in. If George Washington could pull out a win against #4 Charleston, it would change the ratings. Charleston would fall to fifth and we would move up into that much coveted fourth place position, gaining a right to post-season action.

As the second half of both games progressed, forgetting our own game which we were handily winning, we waited with bated breath for each update on the other game, several hours away. Finally, the last announcement came–Charleston lost! Our own win a few moments later was rather anticlimactic. We were flying high just the same because we knew we were headed to the state football play-offs!

Play-offs, Here We Come!

The semi-final game pitted my high school, fourth-ranked Bluefield, against first-ranked and unbeaten Buchannan–Upshur. The Buck–Ups had a player named Tinker Jackson, reputed to be the top running back in the state. Our lead scorer’s name was Donnie Jackson. Someone in our fan club had made a huge sign that read, “Our Jackson is better than your Jackson.” The game ended with Bluefield routing Buchannan–Upshur 42-0! Donnie scored three touchdowns in that game. I guess our sign was right.

November 22, 1975 was the coldest ball game I have ever participated in. It would have been bad enough if I was sitting in the stands under a blanket, warming my hands around a cup of hot cocoa; but I was on the field in a cheerleader skirt which barely covered my bloomer clad butt. The layers of shirts under my thick white sweater and the gloves I wore did nothing for my exposed legs that had only a pair of sheer panty hose between them and the frigid air! I think that’s the coldest I have ever been in my life. But it was worth it. We came from behind at the half to claim the title with a 20-7 victory.

That was many years ago and much has happened since. But hidden away in my heart will always be the treasured experience of cheering for the 1975 West Virginia AAA High School Football Champions. Every fall when the leaves look festive, the air feels crisp, and harvest moons hang in the sky like giant pumpkins; America turns attention to its favorite pastime and my mind remembers days gone by, dear friends I have lost, and the glories of high school football in the age of innocence.

Showcase of Photos for Beaver-Graham Games


 

HarrietMichaelBorn in Nigeria, West Africa, as the daughter of missionaries, Harriet Michael is a writer, gardener, wife of over 35 years, mother of four, and grandmother of one.

She holds a BS in nursing from West Virginia University but has discovered her passion for writing. Since her first published article in 2010, she now has over a hundred and fifty published articles and devotions.

Harriet is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Louisville Christian Writers. Her book, Prayer: It’s Not About You, a finalist in the 2011 Women of Faith book contest, is set for release in September, 2015 by Pix-N-Pens Publishing Company.

HUDDLE!

This months theme on Writing Prompts is Football. Great topic for a football mom–Nick (tight end) is playing for the Ragin’ Cajuns at the University of Louisiana – Lafayette and my older son Jake (tight-end) played for the Wisconsin Badgers and also in the NFL. We are definitely a football family.

Nick, sister Betsy, and Jake

Nick, sister Betsy, and Jake

Instead of my thoughts about football, what better than thoughts from the guy who played in the NFL. Here’s an excerpt from my son Jake’s A-Z devotional book – First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up. Jake is a type one diabetic who never gave up his dreams. Harvest House Publishers released his book on August 1, 2015 just in time for football season.

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HuddleA large circle formation taken by the players on the field prior to the start of the play. In the huddle, the quarterback (offense) or linebacker (defense) informs the players which play will be run, along with words of encouragement.

“I can’t go,” Phil Supernaw said. “I’ll just be a burden.”

“Huddle!” I said to my teammates. Phil, a tight end for the Texans, had suffered a football injury–a broken foot–and couldn’t walk. My buddies and I wanted to get out of Houston and attend a concert in Austin, but we couldn’t leave Phil behind.

“We’ll find a wheelchair.” Ben Jones grabbed his smart phone and started searching.

“No player should be left behind.” Cody White pumped a fist in the air. “You’re coming with us.”

I clapped my hands and then pointed. “You two. Interlock arms and make a chair. Carry him. I’ll get my pickup.”

We hefted Phil out to my truck and drove around town in search of the medical supply store. Finally, with the wheelchair in back and my buddies in the truck, I parked at the concert. We lifted Phil into the chair and wheeled him to Will Call, where our tickets were being held.

IMG_0979

Jake pushing NFL player, Phil Supernaw

A smiling young woman behind the counter glanced at the tickets. Her smile faded and she shook her head. “These are for the general public. There’s no wheelchair access.”
“If one of us can’t get in, none of us will go.” I crossed my arms. The others nodded.

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25).

The girl looked at Phil and sighed. “Y’all are so sweet to care for your friend.” She smiled. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

A few minutes later she returned with special tickets to the VIP area close to the stage and back stage passes too!

Huddles are used in sports to bring everyone together, discuss strategies, and encourage individuals. On offense, the quarterback relays the plays in the huddle. On defense, the captain relays the coach’s instructions for the proper alignment and how to defend the expected play. Words of encouragement are passed in the huddle to keep each other motivated and to keep the game plan in sight.

In our huddle, we had decided we couldn’t attend a concert and leave a teammate behind, especially one who was injured and downhearted. In the end, our commitment toward each other gained us VIP passes and we all had a great time, a night we’ll never forget.

Vince Lombardi once said, “Individual commitment to a group effort–that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”

Got a player on your team who is weak? Downhearted? Are you? Gather your team, discuss strategy, and encourage one another. If the plan benefits the entire team, a successful outcome will follow.

***

Excerpt from my son’s book, First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up. Available in Christian Book Stores, Barnes and Noble and online books sellers. Link to the Amazon site. A great gift for anyone with obstacles to overcome.

Writing Prompt: When did you have to huddle and work as a team to get a job done?  Have you had to carry someone in prayer to get them through a rough spot?