Positive conversations with old and new friends. I'd love for you to join me on my back porch.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

I've been intrigued by lighthouses for years. They are beacons of light and hope. The first lighthouse in the united States was the Boston Light, and it was built in 1716.

The first lighthouse I toured was the Tybee Island Lighthouse, and whenever I'm in the vicinity of a lighthouse we try to take time to tour it.

This year during spring break we visited Hilton Head Island to watch Asbury University Men's Tennis Team spend the week playing tennis. While there we were able to visit Harbour Town Lighthouse. The 114 step climb to the top was a slow and easy trip. The inside was a museum with information on different periods of South Carolina's history. Enjoy the pictures and historical relics and you'll forget you're climbing stairs. There is a gift shop on the main floor and at the top of the lighthouse. You can also venture outside and walk on the wrap-around balcony. From there you'll be able to see the harbor, shops, boats and a golf course.

Lighthouses stir my imagination. I wonder how many sailors over the years have avoided danger because of these beacons of light? And then I think of Jesus, the light of the world. That may be why lighthouses remind me of hope, because my hope is in Jesus.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dianna T. Benson visits

I'm so happy to introduce you to my friend, Dianna T. Benson. She has taken a few minutes to join us and share about her new book.

Dianna is the award-winning and international bestselling author of The Hidden Son and Final Trimester. Persephone’s Fugitive is her third release. An EMT and a HazMat and FEMA Operative since 2005, Dianna authentically implements her medical and rescue experience and knowledge into all her suspense novels. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and their three children. www.diannatbenson.com

1) Have you always lived in NC?
My husband and I have lived in North Carolina since 1999 so it’s definitely home now, especially after raising our three children here.

2) Have you always wanted to write?
The day President Reagan was shot I was in fifth grade. From that real event that day I developed fictional scenes and dialogue in my head, something I did on a daily basis throughout each day. When I asked friends, classmates and teachers what scenes and stories they created because of the attempted assassination, none of them had a clue what I was talking about. I realized I’m the only person I knew who did this sort of thing every day. As time passed I recognized my passion to write suspense novels, and like breathing, it’s something I do automatically. Being an EMT, being a mom, and being blessed with this writer brain, the stories never stop flowing.

3) Deep down I always wanted to write, but I chose the practical career where I could bring home a steady pay check. I enjoy being a pharmacist, so it's all good. What about your work as an EMT? How do you balance that with your writing career and family?
I started my professional life as a travel agent and loved it. After the birth of my first child, I worked from home as a travel agent while writing my first book. After my third child was born, I entered medic school. EMS has always been a part-time career for me (too intense for full time). When the kids were little, I wrote when they napped or while they were in school. I work EMS shifts around my children’s schedules and my writing deadlines. Now that my youngest is in high school, I have the time to devote to my writing career and all that it entails to be multi-published with a traditional print publisher.

4) Tell us about your books. You've got a new one coming out.
Persephone’s Fugitive released March 16, 2015. It’s Book Two in the Cayman Islands Trilogy. Spoiler Alert: Reading this book (including the book blurb) before The Hidden Son (Book One in the trilogy) will ruin the ending of The Hidden Son. However, both books are standalones.
When a routine 911 call turns deadly, Paramedic Sara Dyer finds herself held at gunpoint by Jason Keegan, an injured psych-ward patient charged with murder. The situation spirals out of Sara’s control when the confrontation becomes a tense standoff between Keegan and the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service.
As Keegan’s hostage, Sara fights to save them both before he blows them up. She realizes his warning to the Cayman police is no empty threat since he’d rather die than spend the rest of his life in a prison cell. Sara soon discovers Keegan is just as determined to survive as she is - provided he can escape Grand Cayman and disappear forever. As she struggles to trust in God’s protection, help from an atheist turns her struggle into a lure away from her faith.
5) Are you interested in sports?
Sports are a huge part of my daily life and have been since I was a toddler and my dad (who was a tri-athlete before he died in a bicycle accident when I was a junior in high school) taught me how to play tennis, ski, and climb Colorado 14ers (mountains over 14,000 feet in elevation). In my younger years, I played tennis at the National level, and I was an equestrian who competed in three-day eventing (dressage, cross-country, and stadium jumping). Nowadays I’m an active runner, cyclist, climber and scuba diver with my husband. Our oldest daughter swam for Virginia Tech under a full scholarship and is an ACC Champion and competed at NCAA Championships and US Olympic Swim Team Trials. Scoliosis surgery seven weeks prior to the 2012 Trials prevented her from doing anywhere near her best at trials and then ended her swim career due to nerve damage. Our son was a Jr. Hurricanes goalie at the AAA level and was drafted into Junior Hockey but post-concussion syndrome ended his career before it had the chance to begin. Our youngest daughter plays soccer and strives to play in college at the D1 level.

Thank you, Jackie, for featuring me and my newest release on your blog. I enjoyed our time together.

You're welcome. It's been great getting to know you better.

Dianna sent me a copy of Persephone Fugitive. It's a great story that draws you in from page one. The actions starts, and there's never a dull moment. You'll find yourself quickly flipping through the pages to discover what happens next. Your heart will race and you'll be on the edge of your seat as you continue on Sara's journey.

Here are some links where you can find Dianna. Hyperlinks for Persephone’s Fugitive



Barnes and Noble


Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Story of Courage

Whenever any of our friends heard we were going to Hilton Head Island, they told us to eat at the Salty Dog Cafe. We decided to try it, and it was good. Very good. But it turns out there's a story behind the Satly Dog. The manager shared that he couldn't give us an exact date of the event, but there is a legend behind the restaurant.

One Friday morning, Captain John Braddocks headed out to sea on his thirty-six foot fishing boat, The Salty Dog. Jake, his faithful dog, joined him. Captain Braddocks had built his wooden boat by hand and had made this fishing run many times to the Snapper Banks. He was having a good fishing day by catching several black grouper and an eight pound red snapper. The sky began to get dark, and he kept an eye on the weather but didn't expect much to happen.

Before he knew it, a twenty foot wave hit the boat and lightning filled the sky. Jake growled at the storm, and the captain pulled in his lines raised the anchor. He needed to get moving. Fast.

Before they could get away, another twenty foot wave pummeled them. This time the boat capsized, and John and Jake hit the water. He feared they'd die. Jake was a dog who loved the water and swam with dolphins. He swam to John who grabbed his collar and prayed.Jake fought hard for the next three days to save himself and John.

They reached Sea Pines Beach early in the morning and were spotted by a person who gave them fresh water and got them help.

One interesting twist to this story...this was not just any beach. This was their home port.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

No two snowflakes are alike

William Christian Lutz was my grandfather. His passing was the first time death really touched my life. I didn't get to know him as long as my other grandparents, but I still loved him. He was a quiet man who worked hard and loved his family. He worked for the Jenner Company in Louisville, Kentucky. He was a practical man who would cook hot dogs and tomato soup in the same pot so he wouldn't dirty two pots. And he had a sweet and gentle spirit.

One time he brought me a beautiful sheet of paper that was kinda of opaque and full of snowflakes. Granddaddy was the one who taught me that there are not two snowflakes just alike. And no two people are just alike.

It's hard to imagine a God that is so creative that no two snowflakes are alike. I live in Kentucky, which I've always believe was in the South because we're part of the South Eastern Conference. Some winters we've only gotten a dusting of snow, but this year we were slammed more than once.

In Lexington Winter Storm Thor set an all-time two-day snowstorm record, which had stood since January 1943. Parts of Kentucky picked up over 20 inches of snow from Thor.

Here are the Weather Channel Stats for Thor in Kentucky:

- 25 inches near Radcliff
- 23 inches in Baizetown
- 18.5 inches in Frankfort
- 17.1 inches in Lexington (record two-day snowstorm; breaking previous record of 13.5 inches from Jan. 26-27, 1943 and Jan. 13-14, 1917)
- 12 inches in Paducah
- 11.9 inches at Louisville International Airport (second heaviest March snowstorm)
- 7.2 inches in Bowling Green
- Notable ice reports: Wingo 0.25 inches; Eddy Bay 0.10 inches
- Notable sleet reports: Oak Grove 1.5 inches; near Calvert City 0.8 inches
- Reports of road flooding and road closures in the following counties: Powell, Estill, Magoffin, Knott, Rockcastle, Bourbon, Calloway, Montgomery, Ohio, Fayette, Pike, Jefferson, Bullitt, Hopkins, Daviess, Harlan, McCracken, Ballard and Marshall
- Mudslides near the communities of Elk Creek and Grethel
- Three homes, one business and multiple vehicles flooded in Ravenna

We received around twenty inches in Wilmore. Twenty inches of snow in just one snowstorm in Kentucky. No two snowflakes alike. There's a beautiful and awesome quality watching snowflakes fall to the ground.

If God cares this much about a single flake of snow, how much more must he love us? I hope we won't see snow again for a while, but I usually think of my grandfather when it snows. I remember his comments and realized how much I'm loved.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Ode to Joy

Ludwig van Beethoven composed "Ode to Joy," possibly his greatest symphony, at one of the most difficult times in his life. I bet many of you can hear this symphony in your mind right now. It is the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth and last Symphony.

Beethoven's health was declining, and he was completely deaf when he started this seven year journey to write this symphony.

He took a risk by using a chorus and solo voices in a symphony. He had several misgivings about using words with his music, but for some reason chanced it working. Maybe it was hope in a spectacular outcome.

The words came from a poem written by Friedrich Schiller in 1785 and revised in 1803. Beethoven even made some additions himself, and the Ninth symphony premiered on May 7, 1824.

I imagine Beethoven clung to hope from the moment he began this journey until the day he first conducted this masterpiece. Because he was completely deaf, he had no idea how the audience felt until Caroline Unger, the contralto, turned him around to witness the audience's ecstatic reaction. I get goosebumps imagining the look on his face.

One of my favorite scriptures on hope comes from Joshua 10:25.

"Joshua said to them, "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight."

There are many things I'm hoping for this year, and when I become discouraged I turn to God to renew my hope in Him.

Monday, March 2, 2015

So happy to visit with my good friend Bethany Macmanus

I met Bethany Macmanus a few years ago in a critique group. We became online friends, and then we met at an ACFW conference. Bethany is fun and full of life and has a heart for God. Bethany lives in Houston with her husband, daughter, and son. After practicing as an RN for five years, Bethany left the nursing field to pursue a writing passion the Lord planted in her heart when she was a child. Nancy Drew mysteries were her guilty pleasure during those early years, so she naturally gravitates her pen toward the things that go bump in the night, and most of her plots have a psychological spin.

She’s allergic to cheese, Sulfa drugs, and people who stop in the middle of intersections while driving.

Bethany's new book, Nerve, released on Valentine's Day. Bethany's pretty busy, but one of her character's stopped by for an interview.

1. Please state your full name, and what you do for a living.
Hi, I'm Lauren Masterson, but most people call me Wren. It's a nickname my daddy gave me when I was very young. I am an environmental photographer for Tundra and Savanna magazine. I also work weekends at Petri's grill, but I've given my two weeks notice there because my boss is very inappropriate with all the waitresses.

2.If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?
I'd print photos and make scrapbooks for every person who's made a big impression on my life. Then I'd take a long walk on the beach and enjoy a gelato as the sun sets.

3.What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they've known you for a while?
I wonder if people get the feeling I'm analyzing them when we first meet. I tend to think artistically, so I'm actually just imagining them with different backgrounds and lighting, and how I'd shoot them in a photograph. Different details come at me when I first shake hands with someone. However, I'm often surprised how my impression changes after I've known someone for a while. Take for instance, my proclivity for dresses and heels. Most people think I'm a diva. I hope they are sufficiently surprised when they find out I spend most of my time analyzing algae and saltwater. That's one thing I do enjoy: shocking people!

4.What's your idea of a good marriage? Do you think that'll happen in your life?
I hope so. I certainly want to do better than my parents, at the marriage thing. My idea of a good marriage? One with mutual respect. If one person doesn't participate at all in what the other person does in their free time, I think they miss a lot of opportunities to grow together. It's the respect of that hobby that really cultivates admiration. Take that as you will...

5. Do you think you've turned out the way your parents expected?
I think I've turned out as independent as my daddy thought I would. Mama? Well, I've probably surprised her. She expected me to marry right out of high school, and never go to college. I'm making a name for myself in photography, though. That takes time, and though I'd like to settle down, some flexibility is also nice.

6.What do you suppose God thinks of you?
I caught a glimpse of what He thinks of me, two years ago on the retreat with Justin Breck. I remember being floored by how accepting He is of my imperfections, my frailties, when it comes to men. I thought He'd be much more judgmental, you know? All I sensed was love. I have a feeling God likes to shock people as much as I do.

7.What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
Here lies Wren Masterson. She helped remind people what is important in life. She will never be forgotten.

I can't wait to read your story, Wren. Thanks for stopping by.

If you'd like to learn more about Bethany, you can find her at any of these places:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bethanymacmanusauthor
Twitter: @bgmacmanus
Blog: http://bethanymacmanus.com/blog
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7106646.Bethany_Macmanus


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