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Spatzle Speaks: Standby For God (Book Review)

I have a distinct privelege of knowing the author of this book and the young man who was adopted. See, a few years back my mom needed to make a trip and the younger kids would be gone and she understood that I, her favorite and only dog at the time, needed someone to stay with me. Ionut was that person and we became best buds.

Barbara Kuhls, author of Standby for God is someone who clearly believes that when God speaks (and He does if only we’d listen) then we must obey. Her book is the story of how Barbara and her husband came to adopt a special needs child, even though their own children were grown and out of the house. Instead of enjoying the empty nest, God called them to open their hearts and homes to a young man few people would ever want to take the chance of adopting.

Adoption is pricey but adopting a child with special needs makes adjusting more challenging. Making those needs emotional as well as physical can make it doubly difficult. Barb tells the story step by step and it is fun now to see the young man, still charming and sociable, making his way in the world enjoying a life no one could have ever hoped for, simply because two people heard God’s voice and prayerfully and fearfully obeyed that call.

Adoption isn’t for everyone (although my mom adopted me, but then I’m a dog), but whether you are interetsted in adopting or not, this book will encourage you to do whatever God calls you to do, because the risks and cost are worth it in the end.

This is a shorter read. The chapters are not long and the story unfolds at a good pace. I highly recommend it and if you ever question whether a life is valuable, in spite of any perceived deficienies, this story proves that God can and will use any and all for His purposes and glory.

Of course, I’m giving this five bones because Ionut is my buddy, although now that he flies off around the world he hasn’t been to visit in a long time (hint, hint).

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.
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Spatzle Speaks: The Christmas Mission (Book Review)

Karen Malley wrote this sweet story of love, forgiveness, and being careful about judging people before you have all the facts. The Christmas Mission will warm your heart.

Nicole is the main character who has experienced some of the hardships of life at a young age but has her life on track with a job and going to college. Working at smoothie shop is a sweet gig when that is where you meet the man of your dreams.

Or so Nicole thought. After meeting Michael and his family things seems great–until she learns the truth about who he really is. When her father re-emerges in her life word gets back to Michael about Nicole not being as pure and honest as he suspected. Could two people ever be so confused?

Christmas is a time for love and forgiveness and Karen Malley weaves a beautifully crafted story that will warm your heart and give you a deeper appreciation for the many gifts you’ve been given. No dogs. Again. But what can I say? I’m a sucker for romance.

I’m giving this book five bones. Read it and enjoy every moment!

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Lessons Learned While Writing: I’m Not As Good As I Think I Am (aka Humility)

I had started writing in a way many in that genre write, from an omniscient narrator perspective which meant I’d hop from one character’s thoughts and experiences to another without pause. Well, if older writers could do it, why not me?

Oh, how wonderful I thought my first book was, until I began to get the critiques back. What was head-hopping? What do you mean I have too may points of view? What is a point of view anyway?

Because that was then and this is now. I read, and got feedback and I rewrote the book taking out one character as it was too long. Then I rewrote it again with only two points of view. I revised it another time sparsely adding the point of view a villain who appears in subsequent books to give it a darker, more suspenseful tone. Instead of writing a lighthearted Regency-era romance, my novels were more Gothic!

Every time I write a story there is a mixture of pride and fear mixed into the process. Will it be good enough? Will the story resonate with readers?

Sometimes I wonder if big sales have eluded me because I’m poor at marketing or because God is protecting me from pride—that erroneous belief that I wrote those books and I’m wonderful.

I did write them—with God’s help and that of others. And I am wonderful, as a child of God which means I’m also a flawed human being.

Every round of edits can bring up fears of not being good enough. But in reality, I’ll never be good enough. I can only hope to grow to be better than the last book I wrote.

My daughter told me not to worry: “You’ll be famous when you’re dead.” I laughed. Guess I’m not in a hurry to be famous then because I have a lot more living to do should the Lord allow me to remain here.

Sometimes I wonder when it will end. Writers don’t really “retire,” so as long as I have the ability and the imagination, I suppose I’ll keep writing, and leave fame in the hands of God.

What projects do you struggle with to find humility? What works for you to keep you from wallowing in self-pity or puffing yourself up too much?

Polarization Pollution

Black and white. North Pole vs South Pole. Both examples of polar opposites in our world. We can accept these as valid and real. Interesting how no one wants everything all black or all white – the lack of color is limiting. Grey however is a good neutral ground and acceptable, but even then, it is often, in clothing and decorating added to with pops of color. Grey days are usually gloomy, although some people love them while others prefer the sun. Sun all the time without the darkness of night can be wearying too.

No one lives comfortably at the North or South Poles, or even close to them—they are too cold. And living along the equator is too hot for others so people often live in between either, and even then weather patterns can make life challenging. There is no one “ideal” place to live since the Garden of Eden.

I was pondering all this because of how polarized our culture has become, especially in the United States. Cries of racism and a growing segregation of people of color vs those with less melanin in their skin. But what about those in the grey area? Those of mixed heritage and culture? We are all essentially one race and this is not a “race” issue but a cultural one. What else could we pick on? Are people with blue eyes perceived as superior to those with brown? Or are people with curly hair more frivolous than those with straight? Are people with a higher BMI less valuable than those with less? We can all make judgements based on visual cues that have nothing to do with the reality of our value as image bearers in God’s eyes. I can forget this too sometimes.

I’ve been guessed as Hispanic or Italian based on my appearance, but in reality, I’m in the grey area. My heritage genetically is from a variety of other places but those two aren’t in the mix. I’m a mutt as it were. But I’m also exactly who God created me to be.

Modern medicine has us polarized as well. It has also given us unrealistic expectations, and some have made it their hill to die on. Vaccine or Non-vaccine. That’s it. No colors in between, or are there? Individual choices are questioned and condemned without understanding the other side’s perspective. And it may not even be based on what you think. Cursing someone’s choice however closes the door to understanding.

Or have we made a different judgement? Who controls the power over life and death? Is it Dr.  Fauchi with his ever-changing flip-flopping on things? Or the World health Organization with its own political agenda? Or is it the Centers for Disease Control which also might have underlying precepts that some might disagree with? All led by fallible human beings with their own way of looking at things which, sadly enough, can skew data or the way it is shared to accomplish a particular goal. Trust the numbers, it’s science. Maybe so, but statistics can be flawed if one isn’t careful to see the bigger picture of how the numbers are arrived at. But what do I know? Maybe my professors misled me when they taught me about that kind of thing? They taught me to be critical and discerning…numbers can lie. There is a history of science being skewed…and even wrong.

There are a few other things that concern me…and even I struggle with these. Have we expected too much of modern medicine? Have we made it our idol? Some have made alternative medicine their idol as well. I live in the grey, seeing benefits of both. And neither one can save your life when the LORD of the Universe determines your expiration date.

But something worse happens than physical death in our American society at this present time. It is relational death. The division of people based on superficial constructs—skin color, medical position on vaccines, or political party. (gasp!)

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. (James 3:17, HCSB)

Maybe right now some of you are perceiving me as that awful pillow or comforter a relative made for you, with clashing colors that make you wince. Maybe so. Muddy waters aren’t pretty either and I’ve stirred the pot a little more.

What I’m really urging is for us to relax. Take a deep breath. Try to understand the perspective of the other side even if you disagree with it. Politics and Covid aside, the reality is we are human beings created for community. Fight against evil! Always. But be careful what you determine as evil. Is it someone who disagrees with your well-researched opinion? Instead of throwing mud at the other person, perhaps sit down, face to face, to find out how the other person came to their perspective, without judgement, argument, or debate. Ask questions, and even if you don’t agree…love them right where they are at.

Kindness and love are better than black and white or even grey on any day.

Spatzle Speaks: A Second Chance for Grace (book review)

Romance novel, A Second Chance for Grace, by Karen Malley is a great follow up to her debut book Following the Sparrows. Both take place in the town of Pine Springs so you get a peek at previous characters. I especially liked the first book because there was a dog. This book doesn’t have a dog as a main part of the story. I’m a dog. I’ll survive.

Susan Montgomery is a handy woman, managing her apartment building. When her niece finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, Susan steps in to be a mom to the teenage girl. A mysterious briefcase is discovered in an empty apartment with a unique challenge for Susan to secretly carry out. To top it off, she meets two men who are interested in her. Mac seems just her type and understands her completely, and the other? Well, it’s a mystery as to how well he gets her, but there’s no chemistry

Christopher “Mac” MacAllister was kind of the bad guy in the first book but a near-death experience brought him to God. Now he’s in new territory trying to understand how to be a Christian. Meeting the enchanting Susan makes him doubly glad he chose his new path in life. Except she’s giving him mixed messages. His son is also facing challenges and somehow those interact with Susan as well. And what’s with this new guy?

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

This book is multi-layered and filled with new twists and turns that kept my mom reading. I highly recommend it because I prefer her reading nearby rather than going somewhere or working in her office. I give this book five bones, because I’m a dog, and that’s how I roll.

Spatzle Speaks: Following the Sparrows (Book Review)

My mom met a new author, Karen Malley, last year and discovered she has a fabulous skill for story-telling. She was late posting this because we adopted another old dog (I’m not THAT old). Benji’s been keeping us busier than usual! So here is Following the Sparrows by Karen Malley!

Kathryn Baker has a secret. Not even her husband knows but it’s been a struggle for them both. When her husband is killed in a tragic accident she works even harder hoping to make up for the sins of her past. A handsome stranger challenges everything she thought was true.

Adam Harrison has his own past to overcome but he’s clinging to Jesus and waiting for Him to reveal Adam’s purpose. Maybe it’s to help Katheryn to know God? But what if he falls in love with her? When will she share her dark secret?

Adam and Kathryn grow closer. A puppy dog, an accident, and a crisis of faith all complicate things and makes this a book you’ll want to keep reading. The great news is it is the first in a series of three books!

You won’t want to miss this one! I give it five bones, because I’m a dog and that’s how I roll!

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Writer Wednesday: Kristen Joy Wilks

I’m so pleased to introduce you to Kristen Joy Wilks on this Writer Wednesday! I hope you enjoy meeting her!

When did you decide you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to…?
In 2001 I was in Canada with my husband while he went to seminary. I took some Bible College classes but he knew that I loved to write and dreamed of doing so professionally. Every time we walked into Safeway, I would see a flyer for an online writer’s course …and ignore it. I didn’t want to take the risk. One day, he saw the flyer. He grabbed it, handed it to me, and said, “You should do this!” I took one less Bible class and enrolled in the writing class that quarter. I have been working on my craft and writing almost every day since then!

What’s your pet peeve?
When someone says or writes that they “felt nauseous” instead of “felt nauseated.” Because if they are feeling nauseous, it means that they are making others ill rather than feeling ill themselves!

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?
At a writer’s conference, I was sharing a room with three other ladies. I sleepwalk and I did warn them ahead of time. But I was quite embarrassed to find out that in the middle of the night I sat up in bed. I then said, “You promised!” in an outraged voice and punched one of the other ladies in the arm! Thankfully she was not hurt and I would never have found out about it (I was asleep) if she hadn’t been laughing about it with her husband who immediately told my husband who then proceeded to tease me about it.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?
It is really hard to find a way to help readers discover my stories.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?
Some wild weeping, a bit of chocolate, and a sweet kiss from my handsome man! Yeah, they are not fun. But when I think about quitting, I’ll pause a moment and try to think of something else that I would rather spend my creative energy on. I never come up with anything as challenging and fulfilling as writing and so I keep plugging away.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?
In 2018 my romantic comedy, Athens Ambuscade, won first in its category in the International Digital Awards and also won best contemporary fiction in the Oregon Christian Writer’s Cascade Contest. One of the OCW judges not only gave me a fabulous score, but pulled me aside and told me personally how my crazy story encouraged her and gave her a moment of laughter on a really hard day. That was a high point for sure!

What is your current work in process?

I am writing a RomCom about a young woman who gets talked into moving a trailer full of chickens over the mountains when a little boy’s uncle leaves them behind. Of course, just as she tops the mountain pass, she swerves to miss a bear and crashes, sending chickens everywhere. She must team up with the boy’s annoying uncle to search every forest trail and chicken coop in the remote mountain area until every beloved chicken is found. The problem, chickens of the same kind tend to look alike. It is easy to mistake one for the other and she comes upon a chicken coop with 20 hens that all look like the little boy’s very favorite pet chicken. What’s a girl to do?

Bio:
Kristen Joy Wilks lives in the beautiful Cascade Mountains with her camp director husband, three fierce sons, and a large and slobbery Newfoundland dog. She has blow-dried a chicken, fought epic Nerf battles instead of washing dishes, transported a gallon bag of cooked bacon inside her purse, and discovered a smuggled gardener snake in her sons’ bubble bath. Her stories, devotionals, and articles have appeared in Nature Friend, Clubhouse, Thriving Family, Keys for Kids, The Christian Journal, Splickety, Spark, and Havok. She writes romantic comedies for Pelican Book Group, including Copenhagen Cozenage, The Volk Advent, Athens Ambuscade, Spider Gap, and Yellowstone Yondering. Kristen loves to write about the humor and Grace that can be found amidst the detritus of life. Much like the shiny quarter one member of their household swallowed and then found in the pot four days later. If God is good enough to grant us these gems, she figures that someone should be putting them to the page. Kristen can be found tucked under a tattered quilt in an overstuffed chair at 4:00am writing a wide variety of implausible tales, or at  http://www.kristenjoywilks.com . If you would rather enjoy photos of charging bison, Newfoundland dogs, and attacking squid then, by all means, visit her “What I’m Writing About” board on Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/kristenjwilks7/what-im-writing-about/
Website: http://www.kristenjoywilks.com/
Newsletter: http://www.kristenjoywilks.com/quarterly-newsletter/
Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/booksdogskissesandfrogs/
Pinterest:    https://www.pinterest.com/kristenjwilks7
Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kristen-Joy-Wilks/e/B016FREUPM?ref

Latest book release:
Yellowstone Yondering
When a free-spirited wildlife photographer loses her Scottish terrier in a herd of bison, she sets out to rescue her furbaby before he is devoured. But will she succeed when Yellowstone National Park is chock full of boiling, bubbling, and rampaging hazards (both mammalian and geographical) — not to mention a rule-obsessed park ranger whose many rescues thwart her efforts to find her poor pup?

Writer Wednesday: Lillian Duncan

Please welcome author Lillian Duncan to Writer Wednesday! Let’s hear about her journey in writing.

When did you decide that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?

I was forty and just like many other forty-year-olds, I felt something was missing from my life. One day I was watching a TV talk show and the guest said we should each write our own obituary. So I did. One of the things I put in the obituary that I was an author. That came as quite a surprise to me. But when I read those words something sparked on the inside of me, and I haven’t stopped writing since.

What’s your pet peeve?

It depends on whether you’re talking about books or “real life.” If you’re talking about books and writing, my pet peeve is when writers use really obscure vocabulary just to show how smart they are.

If you’re talking about “real life,” I guess it would be people who talk softly. Because of brain tumors, I’ve lost all my hearing in one ear and a significant amount in the other. So it’s really hard for me to have a conversation with people who won’t talk up.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

As much as I love writing, I hate book marketing, especially promoting myself. It may be necessary, but it’s still something I struggle with.

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Like all authors, I have speaking engagements. Like lots of authors, I don’t like public speaking. I realized that public speaking was part of my “job” and that I would either have to get over it or stop being a writer.

I decided to get over it. One of the ways I did that was to think of public speaking not as a speech but rather as a teaching opportunity. Having been a teacher (actually a speech pathologist but close enough) for many years, that made me more comfortable with the whole situation.

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

I don’t put a lot of stock in reviews, positive or negative. As a long-time reader, I know that reading is very subjective. What one person loves another will hate. So when I read negative reviews, I don’t take it personally. Every person is allowed to have their own opinion.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

My book, Puzzle House, was a finalist in the 2018 Carol Awards. It didn’t win but it was a fun experience that definitely boosted my confidence as a writer. I’ve also had several bestsellers on Amazon as well.

What is your current work in progress?

At the moment, I’m stretching my writing muscles. I’m “trying” to write a YA novel that’s set in a future America where religion is banned. Notice, I said trying. Whether I’ll ever submit the book to be published remains to be seen.

Bio:

Lillian Duncan…stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem.

Lillian lives in Ohio Amish country with her husband. In 2012, she was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors as a result of a rare genetic condition, Neurofibromatosis Type 2. Life ain’t necessarily easy with brain tumors, but God continues to bless her in all sorts of ways, including being able to write.

Even though her books cross genres, they have one thing in common, faith-based stories that show God’s love—and lots of action. OK—that’s two things. She believes in the power of words to change lives, especially God’s Word.

Website: www.lillian-duncan.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lillianduncan

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?q=lillian+duncan

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/lillianduncan/

AMAZON:  https://www.amazon.com/Lillian-Duncan/e/B007NFPAE6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1489582766&sr=1-2-ent

Latest book release:

All I Want for Christmas is Johnny Rocker Dead!

Johnny Rocker believes he’s doesn’t need anyone or anything—especially God because after all he is a rock & roll god. When the floor beneath his feet crumbles—literally—he hurtles toward a different truth.

Since the death of Maddie’s family, she’s run from life and love and become the best bodyguard she can be. But, with God’s help, she’s ready to step out of her comfort zone and into a different life. When her boss asks—no begs—her to take on one last job, she finds it hard to refuse. Someone is trying to kill mega-star Johnny Rocker. It’s Maddie Cotton’s job to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Even under Maddie’s protection, the threats continue. As Christmas approaches the danger escalates—someone doesn’t want Johnny Rocker to see the new year, and they are willing to kill Maddie as well. Johnny and Maddie will have to set aside their differences and learn to lean on each other and God if they want to see Christmas day.

 

Writer Wednesday: Brooke Williams

IMG_8272PCPVBrooke Williams writes whimsical romantic comedies. Read to find out her journey as a writer!

When did you decided that you would be an author? Was it something you fell into, felt called to… ?

I should have known from birth that I was meant to write. Okay, maybe not birth, but soon after. When I was in grade school, I used to cut pictures from magazines and glue them to blank pieces of paper. I would then write new stories to go with the pictures and sell the “newspapers” to my parents for a dime. They had to buy them if they wanted to see what their missing picture was! And as I grew up, I was the kid in school who was EXCITED about paper assignments and essay tests. I didn’t write my first full novel until after I graduated from college and while I was working full-time in radio. But it wasn’t until a full decade after that I actually gave it another go. When my first daughter was born in 2009, I quit my job in radio to stay home with her. I needed something that was JUST mine. Being a mom, you give so much to the kids, it’s hard to keep anything to yourself. Writing became that thing I needed. I feel like now I need it almost as much as the air I breathe. I started a freelance writing business and write blogs, web content and anything else clients need. That stirred the fiction bug again and I branched out into more novels. Now, it’s a serious addiction and I have no plans to stop!

AcceptThisDandelionWhat’s your pet peeve?

Unfinished projects. My husband vacuums often (which is awesome!) but when he’s done, he leaves the vacuum cleaner wherever he stopped vacuuming. That drives me nuts! I don’t like not finishing what I start. That is probably partly why I write as fast as I do. Stories bother me until they’re done! I hate leaving them partially finished.

What was your most embarrassing moment as a writer?

I don’t know about embarrassing, but definitely humbling! When I wrote my first novel, “Someone Always Loved You,” I sent query letters to agents all over. Back then, you had to send self-addressed stamped envelopes to get a reply. One time, I got one of those SASE back from an agent and written on the back was: No. That was it. No form letter inside. Nothing! Just no! Ouch!!

What has been your most difficult challenge as an author?

Finding the time to implement all of the ideas I have. My head is full of stories, but I have only 1-2 hours a day with which to work. I have to fit my paying freelance jobs in first because, let’s face it, they pay! After that, there’s not always much time for fiction. But if the story bothers me enough, I fit it in! And the reality is that in two more years, both of my daughters will be in school and I will have all the time I could ever want. I dread that era. J

How do you process rejections and/or negative reviews?

I used to take it very personally, like with the “no” envelope. But now I realize that not everyone likes every book. There’s absolutely nothing I could write that would please everyone. Someone doesn’t like what I wrote, it’s not their taste. I don’t like every best-selling novel on the market. It’s very subjective. While sometimes it stings for a minute, I brush it off. I write because I love it and when others love it too, that’s a bonus, but not the ultimate goal.

What do you feel is the best success so far in your writing career?

So far? Because I hope there are more hurdles to come! At this point it would probably be when I got my very first contract from a publisher. I had decided to give writing one more try and I submitted a romantic comedy I’d written to a few publishers. When I got an email/acceptance from one of them, I thought it was a joke or a scam. I looked into it very carefully and asked a lot of questions. When I realized it was the real thing, it was pure bliss. I enjoy what I do. That’s why I do it. The idea that someone in the industry thought readers might also enjoy it blew me away.

What would be your top three pieces of advice to newer, up and coming authors?

  1. First and foremost, write because you love it and you can’t NOT write
  2. Realize the industry is subjective and not everyone will appreciate what you do
  3. If you want to publish and are searching for a publisher or agent, do NOT let yourself give up. It can feel like a needle in a haystack scenario, but I guarantee if you stop looking, you’ll NEVER find what you’re looking for.

As a Christian author, what would you like your legacy to be?

My books are very light-hearted and humorous. They do have deeper messages, but they aren’t outright and overt. I concentrate on things like, be who you are and don’t be ashamed of it. When I write, I get a break from everyday life. I’m not being torn in two different directions by two little girls. I don’t have to meet anyone’s needs for a little while. It’s a break from what I usually do all day. If someone were to talk about one of my books, I’d hope they would say, that was just what I needed! Or it really made me laugh! I aim to give people an escape from the daily stresses life brings along with it. Let’s take a deep breath, read a strange story, and have a laugh together! If I can give people even a little bit of joy, I’m happy with that!

What is your current work in process?

I’m writing for a new client that requires short stories so that’s a new angle for me. But it’s a good way to get several storylines out in short order! I also recently put out a new children’s book called “Baby Sheep Gets a Haircut.” A fun little story I used to tell my daughter at bedtime. My next romantic comedy is coming out in June 2017. It’s currently titled “The Leftover.” We’ll see if that sticks. It revolves around a local Survivor-based reality show and is a lot of fun.

Links to social media:

You can get details and links to all of my releases, new and old, on my website: www.authorbrookewilliams.com

https://www.facebook.com/authorbrookewilliams

Twitter: @AuthorBrookeW

 

Stephanie’s Story (Salsa & Speed Bumps)

How do I come to write a story? My friend Lisa Lickel teaches about using the “what if?” question. So I did that with my character Stephanie. What if a nice Christian gal is dating a guy and raped within that relationship. She doesn’t report (most don’t) and finds out later that because of that one event, she’s now pregnant?

And “what if?” she meets the man of her dreams while she’s debating whether to keep or give the baby up for adoption.

Just how complicated could that relationship be?

Let’s just say: VERY. (Yeah, a word an author is not supposed to use).

Salsa & Speedbumps has released and there is so much packed within those pages, I hope readers will enjoy taking the journey with Stephanie and Roberto. And for fans of Renata and Tony from Pesto & Potholes, you’ll get a glimpse into their lives too! So fun!

This is more than a romance. Far more.

If I were to come up with a song for Stephanie it would be:

If I were to come up with a song that represented Roberto it would be this old classic becuase “I would give it all, I would sacrifice” fits Roberto so well: