Tuesday, December 31, 2013

“How do you manage to do both?”

I hear this question all the time! 

You see, I am an author.  I am also a marketing professional.  I have two careers – both of which I enjoy very much, but both of which take a great deal of time and attention!

So back to the question:  “How do you manage to do both?”

I know that I am not the only author who works outside of writing, and I have developed a short list of “rules” I follow so I don’t get overwhelmed. 

1.  Keep everything separate.  I try to never write where I work, and I try not to work where I write!  Additionally, I keep all paperwork separate. I even listen to different types of music for each task to help me get in the zone!
2.  Set a schedule.  I work the same hours every day, and I have set writing hours.  I keep to this as much as I can. 
3.  Be flexible.  If I can’t stick to my schedule, or if something comes up when I have to move my schedule around, I don’t beat myself up about it.  I just do my best to get back on track.   
4. Plan ahead.  If I know I am going to have a big writing deadline at the end of the month, I try to make sure my marketing responsibilities are as buttoned up as possible so I can spend my mental energy on writing.  And if I know I have a big marketing event or project coming up, I try to clear my writing calendar to make sure I can focus on those tasks. 
5.  Most importantly, decide what is non-negotiable.   What are the things you are not willing to give up?  For example, for me, I hold my family time sacred.

Working a job while writing a novel can be difficult, but it can be done!  And here is the good news:  It gets easier with practice!  Set goals.  Make mini-deadlines.  Become a stickler with managing your calendar. These are the methods I employed while writing my Regency romance series, Whispers on the Moors.  The second book in the series, The Headmistress of Rosemere, releases at the end of December 2013, and I could not be more excited!

Sarah E. Ladd received the 2011 Genesis Award in historical romance for The Heiress of Winterwood. She is a graduate of Ball State University and has more than ten years of marketing experience. Sarah lives in Indiana with her amazing husband, sweet daughter, and spunky Golden Retriever. 

Connect with her online!  Visit her website, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter

Monday, December 30, 2013

About the Book

"Does a second chance at life and love always involve surrender?

A three-year old son, a struggling café, and fading memories are all Robin Price has left of her late husband. As the proud owner of Willow Tree Café in small town Peaks, Iowa, she pours her heart into every muffin she bakes and espresso she pulls, thankful for the sense of purpose and community the work provides.

So when developer Ian McKay shows up in Peaks with plans to build condos where her café and a vital town ministry are located, she isn’t about to let go without a fight.

As stubborn as he is handsome, Ian won’t give up easily. His family’s business depends on his success in Peaks. But as Ian pushes to seal the deal, he wonders if he has met his match. Robin’s gracious spirit threatens to undo his resolve, especially when he discovers the beautiful widow harbors a grief that resonates with his own.

With polarized opinions forming all over town, business becomes unavoidably personal and Robin and Ian must decide whether to cling to the familiar or surrender their plans to the God of Second Chances."

Amber's Review 

Wishing on Willows is another heartfelt story from Katie Ganshert. The writing is simply gorgeous - poignant themes gently whispering through the pages like the breeze through a weeping willow. It was a delight to discover each new lesson and reminder shared in touching and creative ways.

The story develops at a slower pace as Robin, Ian, and Amanda (Robin's sister-in-law and roommate) face varying emotional hardships while dealing with a few emergencies along the way. I confess that Amanda often frustrated me, even while her dealings with love resonated with me. And as for Robin and Ian, the decisions they have to make as they continually grow closer together certainly escalate the tension. But the sweet moments along the way, and the way it all ends... So beautiful. The conclusion is stellar!

I really enjoyed experiencing the lovely writing, seeing what became of the hero and heroine from Wildflowers from Winter, and visiting Robin's small town (full of intriguing inhabitants and interesting dilemmas). For a story about letting go and embracing life, Wishing on Willows is a wonderful read.

*With thanks to Waterbrook Multnomah for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

  • You can purchase the book now on Amazon!
  • This review was also posted at Seasons of Humility. Feel free to head on over there if you're interested in ranking the review!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

1.  In 1962, the first Christmas postage stamp was issued in the United States.

2.  Christmas trees have been sold in the U.S. since 1850.

3.  Christmas wasn’t declared an official holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870.

4.  President Teddy Roosevelt, an environmentalist, banned Christmas trees from the White House in 1912.

5.  The first printed reference to a Christmas tree was in 1531 in Germany.

6.  "Angels We Have Heard on High" is a Christmas carol in the public domain. The words of the song are based on a traditional French carol known as Les Anges dans nos campagnes (literally, "Angels in our countryside") composed by an unknown author in Languedoc, France.

7.  The early American Puritans of Massachusetts enacted a law in 1659 that made it illegal to celebrate Christmas since Puritans didn't believe it to be the true date of their savior's birth. The law carried a punishment of five shillings.

8.  The man who wrote the melody for "O Holy Night" was Jewish.

9.  Astronomers believe the Star Of Bethlehem, which guided the wisemen to Jesus, may have been a comet or the planet Uranus.

10.  Many parts of the Christmas tree can actually be eaten, and the needles are a good source of Vitamin C.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Borrowed Book would like to wish our friends, followers and family a very Merry Christmas!

We will return next week with a new author interview, along with the popular Did You Know? post by Candace Speare-Prentice, Monday reviews from Amber Stokes, Friday giveaway with Elizabeth Ludwig and our Sunday devotional with Shannon McNear. Until then, friends, be safe! 

If you'd like to review some of this months most popular posts, here are a few to keep you busy:

Did You Know? The Candy Cane http://theborrowedbook.blogspot.com/2012/12/did-you-knowthe-candy-cane.html

5 Keys to Hosting a Successful Book Launch  

For Writers: Know Where You Are Going Before You Get There by Author William Sirls

Sunday, December 22, 2013

I hate Christmas. Terrible of me, but ... there it is.

As with everything else in my life lately, I’ve been wondering why. This can’t be right—normal, maybe, in the sense of understandable in the logical progression of what has seemed sometimes to be a most illogical life—but is this where God wants me to be?

I seriously doubt it. How can He be pleased with my impatience over the countdown to the holiday, my annoyance at the anticipation of gifts and food and gathering with family? Seriously—I’m just revealing the depths of my emotional poverty here, aren’t I?

And isn’t that just a fancy term for selfishness?

Christmas, after all, is about the laying down of a life so that others may live.

Whether or not December 25 is the actual date of Jesus’ birth is immaterial. (I think it’s more likely that this time of year is when He was conceived—coinciding with Hanukkah—but, that’s another discussion, and it still lends significance to the season.) Certain things are still true—the birth of one small babe to a newly wedded couple who, despite what I’m sure had to be the opinion of all their family and neighbors, hadn’t yet consummated their marriage. The rush and commotion and sheer stress of their journey to Bethlehem to obey the edict of a pagan emperor. The humility of the birth itself—in a cave, where the animals were kept. Were Mary and Joseph alone for the birth? Did other travelers share their space? Did God provide a midwife, or did Joseph “catch”?

I think of Mary, facing the birth of her first baby in a strange place. Of Joseph, and the terror of watching his wife labor with a baby that was not “his.” (And had that really been an angel in his dreams, telling him the baby was conceived of the Holy Spirit?)

I think of God, clothing Himself with flesh, submitting Himself to the humiliation of becoming a growing fetus, of the birth process, of being a naked and crying infant. He took on poverty ... so that He could meet us, in ours.

Christmas isn’t really about the gifts, when God already presented us with the greatest one there is. Neither is it about the wonderful food, or even the enjoyment of others’ company. It is, however, about wonder—of a Creator who stooped to rescue His creation in the midst of all its messy need. Who continues to meet me in mine, when I’m stressed and tired and sure I can’t bear even one more of the many demands on my time and energy from those I love.

When I think about that, I find that I don’t hate Christmas, after all. What I hate is my own need and weakness, luring me into the trap of thinking the holiday is somehow about me, when—it is not.

Or is it? The glorious God of the universe, after all, became a child, to grow into a man and to die, as a sacrifice—for me.

And for you.

10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2, NKJV)
Good morning, BB fans! Thanks to everyone who participated in our "puzzling" Friday giveaway! Keep all those facebook and Twitter notifications, coming!

This week's winner is: 

Elaine K (
elaineking1 at hotmail dot com )  - The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls.

Congratulations, Elaine! Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book.

Friday, December 20, 2013

It's Fun Friday at The Borrowed Book!

To enter:

Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzles in the comments section as well as your email address for notifying you if you've won. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.

Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!

Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall and...you guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. Enter all weekend long! Winners will be announced Sunday night at midnight.

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by William Sirls and his newest release, The Sinners' Garden.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Today we speak with William Sirls, a writer who truly has a story to tell. But don't take my word on it -- read on!

1) Have you always wanted to be an author? If not, what made you decide to write, and how long have you been at it?

I never had any intention of being an author but was inspired to write the original version of The Reason way back in 2004, which was the roughest year of my life, including each of the three years I spent in federal prison. At the time, I had just gone through a divorce and was in the middle of some illegal activities that were hurting a lot of good people. I specifically remember walking down a hallway at a hospital up in Detroit to visit my oldest daughter who had just been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and I guess you could say I was pretty much drowning in my own pity party when I came across a young couple that was pulling their son in a little red wagon.  The little boy was around three years old, he had lost his hair, was very thin and frail, and he had that gray and ashen look that clearly suggested the end was near.  For me, it was one of those rare moments in life where you realize that your problems aren’t as bad as you think, and while I was trying to fathom the amount of stress that family was going through, the little boy looked up and smiled at his parents and they smiled back.  To me it was one of the most beautiful exchanges I had ever seen, and something inside of me wanted to find a way to make those smiles last, because in so many cases, particularly in cases like that, they don’t. After a bit of soul searching, the only way I could think of to keep those smiles going was to write about it.

2) Have you ever had a funny experience connected with being an author? For instance, has someone ever overheard you discussing the merits of one murder weapon over another or caught you shooting at a can of gasoline to see if you could make it explode?

I was at an airport earlier in the year and sat down next to a woman that was reading The Reason. I told her what a huge fan of the author I was and she was looking at me as if I was the strangest person on earth until I had her look at my pic in the back of the book.  It was a lot of fun and we ended up having a great conversation.

3) What do you love about being a writer, and what do you like the least?

What I love most about being an author is sharing personal lessons I’ve learned in terms of patience, forgiveness, and grace by sprinkling them amongst characters in my stories. I also love reading emails and letters from people about how my stories have helped strengthen their faith and left them feeling closer to God. What I like least is my inability to write more than one story at once, but I’m always thankful for the one I’m currently working on.

4) Are you a plotter, a pantser, or a combination?

I would say I’m a combination of the two. Patience is a problem for me when I write, so when I’m putting a story together, I usually write the ending first, that way I have a target to hit. But sometimes I get so anxious to get to certain scenes, I find myself in too much of a hurry to get there. So instead of forcing the story, I’m learning to really slow down … and when I do that, the characters end up telling me what to do instead of the other way around.

5) Do you write full time, or do you work it in alongside a full-time job?

I’m currently fortunate to be in a position to write full time and I couldn’t be more thankful.

6) What do your kids think about your being a writer?

They think it’s pretty cool, particularly when they know someone or run into somebody that’s reading one of my books.

7) How do you get your best ideas?

From things that have happened to me. I enjoy putting together fictional versions of real life events.

8) What do you do to get past writer’s block?

A friend of mine told me that if I ever get writer’s block, I should open a new document and write about my writer’s block.  After about two sentence of that torture, I’m usually motivated to go back to my project and work on a different scene.

9) What’s your favorite method for keeping a story’s middle from sagging?

I write the ending first and the beginning second. If any scene in between those two points doesn’t introduce three new concepts and keep the story moving forward, it gets cut.

10) Do you write every day? What does your typical writing day look like?

Even if it is straight gibberish, and I can’t get in the groove, there has to be 2,000 words a day, because 2,000 poorly written words that keep the story moving are better than no words at all.

11) Do you like to listen to music when you write?

No, because I’m too easily distracted. In order for me to get into a story, I have to turn my phone off and close the door to my office to create the quietest environment possible.

12) Do you have any rituals you like to go through before you start writing, such as make yourself a cup of coffee or tea? Do calisthenics to get the blood flowing? Lock yourself in a room and warn your family not to disturb you upon pain of death? Read something inspiring? Pray?

I have coffee at 6 o’clock every morning with friends before returning home to write. Then I normally like to read something from one of my favorite authors for about forty-five minutes to grease the writing wheels before I begin.

13) Writing is a sedentary occupation. What do you do for exercise?

Walk a few miles with my ear buds in or play basketball.

14) Do you have any pets? Do you own them, or they you?

I’m a lifelong dog owner but my last one passed away while I was in federal prison. I’m currently feeling the need for a new four-legged friend and will probably be puppy hunting in the very near future.

15) What fun fact would you like your readers to know about you?

I’m a former senior vice president at a large investment firm-turned money launderer-turned federal prisoner-turned author of Christian Fiction. You could definitely say that I’m an unfortunate example of what can happen when you use the gifts God has given you for your own good instead of for His glory, but thankfully, I’m also living and breathing proof of His grace and forgiveness.

Thank you, William, for visiting us at The Borrowed Book!

Over the course of his life, William Sirls has experienced both great highs and tremendous lows—some born of chance, some born of choice. Once a senior vice president at a major
investment firm, he was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering, where he learned a great deal more than he ever bargained for. Life lessons involving faith, grace, and forgiveness are evident in his writing. His first novel, The Reason, was published in 2012. The Sinners’ Garden (available December 2013) is his second novel. He is the father of two and makes his home in southern Michigan.

Learn more about William Sirls and The Sinners’ Garden at www.williamsirls.com, Facebook, or Twitter.  

Don't forget to come back tomorrow when you can enter to win a free copy of William's latest release, The Sinner's Garden!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

That green tape is  holding the book together
I recently acquired a book called, The Circle of Useful Knowledge: For the use of Farmers, Mechanics, Merchants, Manufacturers, Surveyors, Housekeepers, Professional Men, Etc., Etc., Etc. (Yes, that’s really the title.) It was written and published in 1877 by Charles Kinsley. Over the next few weeks, I’d like to share some of the more interesting things contained therein. 

To begin, here is a cure for lockjaw.  (I wrote an article about lockjaw in 2012.)

To cure locked jaw.

Wash or bathe the wound with the tincture of myrrh or a decoction of Lobelia, which will have a powerful tendency to promote healthy action, and thus remove the cause of irritation. In extreme cases, the wound may be washed with the most powerful stimulants, such as tincture of lobelia or cayenne. Bathing the wounded part in white lye, as hot as can be borne, and afterwards apply the common slippery elm poultice, has been found of great benefit in this complaint. If the jaws are set and the teeth closed, the best way of getting medicine down is to hold the cheek, at the corner of the mouth loose from the teeth, and then pour the medicine from a spoon, between the teeth and cheek, and it will immediately find its way to the throat, and afford relief.

I had some questions about some of the ingredients listed in this cure, especially white lye, so I did some research. I couldn’t find white lye, but I found the other ingredients, including lobelia. Then I found the following information on a page about Lobelia (also called pukeweed and Indian tobacco) on a fascinating herbal site:

Externally . . .the tincture [of lobelia] can be used as a local application for sprains, bruises, or skin diseases, alone, or in powder combined with an equal part of slippery elm bark and weak lye-water in a poultice. The oil of Lobelia is valuable in tetanus. 

Sounds awfully similar to the cure above, doesn't it? 

More next week!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I love being an author and writing The Sinners’ Garden was a lot of fun. It also presented quite a few challenges for me from the first couple drafts to what became the final version of the story, not because of the normal bumps in the road we authors frequently hit, but by my accidental deletion of the story’s original
ending along with around 19,000 other words, which was roughly the last twenty percent of the book. As miffed as I was when it happened, it was a relatively easy fix for me because the ending is what I worked on first. Though I made a few tweaks, it was a simple rewrite because when we begin with the end in mind, our target is set and we have an uninterrupted view of our final destination, that last stop that tells us who and where are characters really are without the full benefit of knowing how they got there.

Let’s say you’ve got a week off work, your vacation has just begun, and there’s a knock on your door. You open it and there’s a man outside that hands you the keys to a brand new car and tells you to get in and start driving. Though you hadn’t planned on it, it sounds like a great time, so you jump in and put the pedal to the metal. You are enjoying that new car smell, the ride is smooth, you’ve got the radio going, and it’s a lot of fun because you’re seeing plenty of new things.  

But then something begins to happen …

You start slowing down and then you begin to wonder where you are going. Before long, you pull over to the side of the road and stop to mull things over. Just for the fun of it, let’s call this “driver’s block.”

Writing a good book shouldn’t be all that different than planning for a good vacation, because at the end of the day, both are journeys and each should begin with a clear destination in sight. 

So why not start your next book by writing the ending first? 

Think about it. It’s a lot easier to hit a target you can see.

When we write the ending first, our target outcome is right in front of us and we have a better view of how to get there. Naturally, all of us author types go into our stories with an amazing roster of characters and a handful of scenes we know will make unforgettable movie moments, but do we really know what we are trying to accomplish when we begin or have we perhaps plugged into Google maps without knowing where we are going? 

By beginning with the end in mind, we get a sneak peek at where our characters have gone, what they have or have not conquered, and most importantly, we get a glimpse at how different they are compared to where we introduce them to our readers. This is a huge advantage for us because we know if our characters aren’t significantly different at the beginning than they are at the end … we know in advance that we can’t invite them along for the ride and must put them to sleep now before our editors do.

Once we have established the difference in our characters at both ends of the story, we are then better prepared for those saggy middle scenes that drag and don’t keep the story moving forward. Each scene must introduce three new concepts or ideas that take us toward that golden ending, and when we experience that phenomenon known as “writer’s block,” it will be short-lived, because our characters will jump up off the pages and tell us what to do instead of vice-versa.  Why? Because they (like us) already know the ending and understand that they have to make changes to get there. So when you hit a bump in the road, that’s our cue as writers to put our characters in situations where they have a decision to make. And that decision … that choice … if done correctly … will be both the catalyst for change and a key turning point in the book, which are both crucial for any good story.

Happy writing.
Over the course of his life, William Sirls has experienced both great highs and tremendous

lows—some born of chance, some born of choice. Once a senior vice president at a major investment firm, he was incarcerated in 2007 for wire fraud and money laundering, where he learned a great deal more than he ever bargained for. Life lessons involving faith, grace, and forgiveness are evident in his writing. His first novel, The Reason, was published in 2012. The Sinners’ Garden (available December 2013) is his second novel. He is the father of two and makes his home in southern Michigan. 

Learn more about William Sirls and The Sinners’ Garden at www.williamsirls.com, Facebook, or Twitter.  

The Sinners' Garden by William Sirls, Reviewed by S. Black

The Sinners’ Garden, written by William Sirls, is a unique story depicting God’s love and mercy to the sinners’ hearts.  An angry unhappy teenager, Andy Kemp, whose face was disfigured at an early age, hides behind his books and long hair. His mother, Judi Kemp, lives her life guilt ridden for not protecting her son from an abusive father.  Andy’s Uncle, Gerald Rip Ripley, recently released from prison, who found Jesus as his savior while he was in jail, comes home to help his sister, Judi, and nephew, Andy.  Heather Gerisch, a police officer who followed in her father’s footsteps on the police force, haunted by her father’s mysterious murder years before, investigates the mysterious break-ins of the elusive “Summer Santa”. The “Summer Santa”, dressed all in black, enters homes and delivers to several of the towns’ people various expensive items (food gift cards, bags of money, etc.). Oddly these items match the items mentioned on the prayer request cards at church.  
Strange happenings begin in Benning after Rip gives his nephew an iPod. Although the IPod becomes broken, Andy hears music from the iPod and in a trance-like state speaks to specific individuals revealing hidden messages from God. In addition, while Rip and Andy are on a motorcycle ride, they find a beautifully landscaped wildflower garden, divided into four sections. This garden mysteriously grew up overnight in a remote area behind the abandoned steel mill. What is the meaning behind the garden and the revealing messages? Are they related? Who is this black clad individual known as the “Summer Santa,” and how does he continue to elude police capture?  
“The Sinners’ Garden” was a good read even though the story starts with an event that causes much sadness and heartache, the story ends with a happy conclusion.  I would recommend this book to my friends. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Good morning, BB fans! Thanks to everyone who participated in our "puzzling" Friday giveaway! Keep all those facebook and Twitter notifications, coming!

This week's winner is: 

Paula O(kyflo130@yahoo.com)  - Carolina Gold by Dorothy Love.

Congratulations, Paula! Thank you all so much for stopping by The Borrowed Book.
About the Book

"In a colony named New Hope, while their friends are seeking a Southern utopia. . . .

Hayden is seeking revenge. Relentlessly.

After years of all but selling his soul to track down his scoundrel of a father, Hayden Gale discovers his search must continue in South America, where his father is reported to be helping colonize Brazil. Hayden has nothing more to lose, certainly not a good reputation, and vows to keep pursuing--at any cost--the vile man who he believes killed his mother.

 Magnolia is seeking a way out. Desperately.

She’s in the jungles of Brazil against her will, but what choice does Magnolia Scott have? Her father insisted on uprooting their family to escape the uncertainty of Southern life after the Civil War. But how will she survive without all she holds dear—wealthy suitors, beautiful clothes, summer balls, and slaves waiting on her every whim? She vows to find a way to get back home—and attaches herself to handsome Hayden Gale.

 As they journey toward Rio de Janeiro, they both seek to use the other for their own purposes. Deceptively. Falling in love was never part of their plans. . . ."
Amber's Review

In this second installment of the "Escape to Paradise" series, the main setting has moved from the sea to the jungles of Brazil, with colorful and exotic descriptions. One thing I love about MaryLu Tyndall's writing is how engaging her imagery is, whether she's describing the U.S. capitol during the War of 1812 or a tropical paradise in South America.

Elusive Hope flowed better than book 1 (Forsaken Dreams), and I enjoyed reading about Hayden and Magnolia's journey. Tyndall knows how to write great romantic tension between two struggling hearts, for sure! The revelations the hero and heroine experience are timeless and also timely - lessons in true beauty, forgiveness vs. revenge, and the seriousness of spiritual matters.

I do confess, though, that so far this series isn't shaping up to be my favorite of Tyndall's series. I loved the more subtle messages/takeaways and epic adventures of her previous books. However, this series is still enjoyable, and book 3 (Abandoned Memories) promises to be even more exciting with the conclusion of all that the first two books have been leading up to. I'm certainly curious to see what will happen to the colony of New Hope - and James and Angeline's relationship!

All in all, Elusive Hope is a strong middle book in a series that encompasses both interesting history and intriguing spiritual battles.
*With thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for my honest opinion.*

Book Trailer

  • You can buy the book now on Amazon!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The holidays are so steeped in commercialism that I hesitate to even write something Christmas themed. Do we really need one more devotional about the birth of Jesus?

We’ve heard the old familiar stories so often that our ears can become dull and our hearts hard. The eyes, however, are still capable of being pierced by lights, and when other things fail to move me, often my attention is captured by all things glowing, glittering, and flashing.

Could it be that Christmas is really all about the lights?

There’s an interesting connection to the Jewish holiday Hanukkah—also known as the Festival of Lights, which concluded just a couple of weeks ago. Based on an event that took place between the Old and New Testaments, it’s mentioned in John 10:22 as the Feast of Dedication. The story goes that after defeating the Greeks who had come in and desecrated the Temple, the Maccabees cleaned and rededicated the place, but found only enough pure oil for one day—and the process for making more took eight days. They relit the lamps anyway, and miraculously, the oil lasted for all eight days, until the new oil was ready. Hence the eight days of Hanukkah, with one candle for each days.

But it’s just a legend, right? And why would Scripture bother to mention a holiday based upon mere story?

Because it isn’t just about the oil and the light that burned for eight days—it’s about the greatest light of all, the Light who shines in the darkness of this world and is not overcome by it. The Sun of Righteousness who has risen with healing in His wings. The one who came originally, not as the conquering king that Herod feared, but a tiny baby kindled inside the humble vessel of a woman, made to come first as a servant—a shammas, ironically the same term as the candle used to light all the others during Hanukkah.

He truly is the One who sets our fragile lives aflame, and so we become beacons of truth, of hope. Enough light only for one step at a time on the path before us, perhaps, but we have no idea what effect the flame in our hearts, however tiny, might have. Could it be that our lives are the real lights of Christmas?

It could be, indeed. And if He is our light, then the darkness, however threatening, cannot swallow us up.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5, NKJV)

In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men.
And the Light shines on in the darkness, for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it]. (John 1, Amplified Bible)

Friday, December 13, 2013

It's Fun Friday at The Borrowed Book!

To enter:

Leave the time it took you to complete the puzzles in the comments section as well as your email address for notifying you if you've won. Winners will be drawn from ALL of the times, so the person with the fastest time may not be the actual winner, but by leaving your time, you double your chances.

Want another entry? Tweet your puzzle time and mention The Borrowed Book, get another entry. RETWEET our Tweet, get two entries!

Post your puzzle time on BB's Facebook wall and...you guessed it...get another entry!

Post it on your OWN Facebook wall and you could get as many as FIVE entries.

It's all a way to spread the word about the great giveaways on BB. So c'mon! Help us spread the word, and have a little fun at the same time. Enter all weekend long! Winners will be announced Sunday night at midnight.

This week's puzzle feature is brought to you by Dorothy Love and her newest release, Carolina Gold.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

“When you write your books, do you make them up all by yourself or do you use a kit?”

This question from a third grader during my years of writing for young readers still makes me smile.  If only there were a kit!  Writing is the hardest job I’ve ever had. Harder than newspapering and working retail during my undergrad days, harder than being a public school administrator, harder than being a college professor.  And despite the lack of a kit to make it easier, it’s the one I love the most.  For the past twenty years I’ve been lucky enough to get to do it full time, first as an author of novels for preteens and young adults at Simon and Schuster and Random House, and more recently as an author of historical fiction for adult readers. 

“What do you do all day?” wondered the third grader’s freckled faced pal.  That question is one I got almost every time I visited a school.

My answer is that no two days are exactly the same, which is why this job is so much fun.

This was my schedule on October 22nd, a typical day:

Alarm goes off. I get up, throw on some clothes, take Jake outside, bring him in and feed him, start the coffee.  While my husband is in the shower, I make breakfast and pack his lunch.

Breakfast, coffee and the newspaper.

Husband leaves for office. I shower, dress and pour my second cup of coffee. Up the stairs to my office. Fire up the computer.       

Answer e-mail. Carolina Gold, my new novel, is launching in two months, and today there are a couple of e-mails from my publisher and one from my publicist, personal e-mails from friends and family, letters from readers (I love that part!) and the daily poem from The Writers Almanac. Garrison Keillor, a most talented writer and radio personality, chooses a poem to share with subscribers every day.  Sometimes it’s an old classic, sometimes it’s work by a poet who is new to me, sometimes it’s a poem by one of my favorites such as Robert Frost, Donald Hall or Mary Oliver.  I take a few minutes to savor the poet’s words, to ponder their meaning, to revel in the language.

9:00am-12 noon
I have just turned in the manuscript for my next book due out in 2014 so today I am doing background reading and researching the next book I will begin writing in a few weeks, preparing a story summary to share with my publishing team at meetings in Nashville next month. 

Break for lunch. The weather is nice so I take Jake for a short walk around the neighborhood. We’ve had a lot of rain lately. The back yard is too wet for his usual game of Frisbee, so the walk is his consolation prize. Sightings: Cats 3, squirrels 2, other dogs 1. He is supremely happy.

I’m writing a series of blog posts like this one to be posted when Carolina Gold releases in early December. I finish a couple of those and then return to a magazine article I am writing due next month for December publication.

Phone call with my publisher, Daisy Hutton. We discuss  a couple of new projects that recently went to contract, titling options for the book I’ve just turned in, endorsement opportunities for the new book, and possible approaches to the book I must start writing soon for publication in 2015.

Return to the magazine article. Finish the draft and start looking through my photo files to choose pictures to accompany the article. Remember that I failed to take something out of the freezer for dinner. E-mail hubby that we will be eating out tonight.

We head for Sushihaha, our favorite Japanese restaurant. The food is fabulous, but I love going there as much for the excellent service and the tranquil atmosphere as for the food. Inside the restaurant is a soothing little waterfall and outside are dozens of potted plants we can admire from our favorite table by the windows.  We share an order of California rolls, and then order dinner, saving room for a few bites of gingered ice cream over chocolate fudge for dessert.

Home.  Let Jake outside, bring him in and settle in to watch Turner Classic Movies or read a book.

Watch the evening news, let Jake out again before bed.  Sweet dreams!

Dorothy Love is the author of numerous books for adults, preteens and young adults. Her popular
Hickory Ridge series, set in her native Tennessee, marked her return to her writing roots in historical fiction and introduced readers to her trademark blend of history, mystery and romance. She lives in Texas with her husband and their golden retriever and welcomes readers at www.DorothyLovebooks.com and at www.facebook.com/dorothylovebooks.  

Don't forget to stop by tomorrow for a chance to win a free copy of Dorothy's latest release, Carolina Gold!

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