Today author Brette Petway is here to share why she wrote her new book, Prayer is Good: A Path from Grief to Peace.
Q. Can you share with us why you wrote the book?
A. I started journaling at twenty-eight years old. My writing began on a wilderness trip – I had decided I needed to spend a month in the Canyonlands in Utah. The trip became a therapeutic journey that changed my life and how I handled my feelings and emotions.
Earlier that same year my younger sister, Mandi, passed away. She was only 25. I remember my sister being sweet, sensitive, and spiritual. She had brown hair, green eyes, and a slender build. Over time, her appearance on the outside changed because of her cancer treatments, but her outlook remained positive and strong. She was a junior in high school when she was diagnosed with a form of cancer called Hodgkin’s disease.
I was frozen with grief, pain, sadness, anger, abandon, and depression. My family never really talked about what her illness meant to each of us, or to us as a family unit. We had to deal with the emotions surrounding her illness or death on our own. If my family talked about issues, we didn’t really communicate any feelings. Our feelings stayed bottled up inside. The message was feel it, but keep it to yourself (mostly because no one knew how to process the grief). My family was like a lot of others; sharing love, life, and all that we endure with it, including grief, the best we could.
Q. How did journaling and painting help you deal with your grief?
A. After the untimely loss of my sister, I found myself expressing the pain by writing in my journal and drawing my feelings. One day, I realized that all of these were really prayers on paper and helped me overcome my emotional pain. Using the senses to express emotion can be a powerful way to work through anguish on a path toward peace. In our digital driven society --- journaling, writing and tactile arts are more important than ever. Studies show that writing with a pen and paper activates regions of the brain that are associated with processing and remembering, two important elements to the grieving process. Writing electronically simply doesn’t fire up these same regions of the brain.
As a spiritual artist I have experienced the benefits of a full body approach to learning, grieving, and life in general. In fact, I moved to Boulder, Colorado so my children could attend a Waldorf School, which supports an art-based curriculum that fosters a head, heART, hands education that focuses on creating a connection throughout the body. The emotions passed through me and manifested in my paintings and art creations.
I’ve written a bit about my own grief journey. How do you feel your grief journey has changed you?
Through my loss, I learned that life is full of many opportunities to love, learn, grow and really show gratitude for the path the God has shown me. Initially my grief journey was about losing my sister, however, since that revelation, the journey became more about nurturing self-awareness and creating a closer relationship to God. Day in and day out I had God, my journal, and art. My creative approach to prayer is what I call “Active Prayer.”
What thoughts would you like to share with readers who are going through their own grieving period?
While we all process sadness in different ways, journaling, art and prayer can be healing tools to rid the body of the grief that weighs you down. Start with an “Active Prayer” by writing a journal entry. If you feel inspired you can also color a graphic image of words in your prayer. Be inspired and encouraged to tune into your own stories, experiences, and inspirations during this time. Do not be attached to what you write or how you color the words. This prayerful journey is about you processing your feelings and expressing your personal prayer and conversation with God.
Creating a quiet and dedicated journaling space is helpful so that you can express your innermost feelings and connect to God. The dedicated space in the corner of your bedroom or living room where you there is a cozy pillow, a pen and paper, a candle, some relaxing tea, incense, or aromatherapy. Using the senses to express emotion can be a powerful way to work through anguish on a path toward peace.
Here’s 4 simple ways that Prayer is Good is interactive – Read Bible Scripture, journal your prayer, color inspirational words and tips for creating a dedicated prayer space.
Q. Brette, Your team-mates refer to you as a Prayer-Pioneer. What does this mean to you?
A. That I inspire people to make prayer a part of every moment and “prayer it forward”. I am asking folks to take an interactive prayer journey, ----color, draw and journal in my brand new book and bring your prayers to life and life to your prayers.
More About Brette Petway
Brette Petway is a spiritual artist and author, as well as the founder and creator of Prayer is Good, LLC. Prayer is Good creates products which bring prayers to life and life to prayers through art, coloring and journaling.
For further information, visit www.prayerisgood.com. You can also follow Prayer is Good on Facebook/Prayerisgood.co and on Instagram at @PrayerisGood_.
Prayer is Good: A Path from Grief to Peace can be purchased in paperback from Amazon.com or prayerisgood.com.
New Duet Back by Cindy Ervin Huff
Isabella Melinda Wilson has been squeezed into the music ministry model of her controlling husband’s making. Before she can leave him, he leaves her a guilt-ridden widow. Her mother-in-law is no comfort and presses the guilt button at every turn. Isabella flees to her sister’s home in search of her own identity and a new beginning.
Dan Sweeney has one goal. Be as normal as possible. After losing a leg, some fingers and his self-worth, he needs his service dog Brutus to help keep his PTSD at bay. Career-less and clueless about the future, he struggles to put his life back together.
Isabella isn’t looking for a new relationship and Dan feels unworthy of one. Can these two broken people heal into one whole love?
About Cindy Ervin Huff
Cindy Ervin Huff received the Editor’s Choice Award for her debut novel Secrets and Charades, published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Secrets & Charades placed third in the Maxwell Awards.
Over the past forty years her by-line has appeared in numerous publications. Her latest release a Contemporary Romance New Duet is set in Aurora, Illinois. Healing Hearts, part of The Cowboys novella collection is slated for release in August 2019.
Cindy is the founding member of the Aurora Illinois chapter of Word Weavers and a member of ACFW. Her blog Jubilee Writer offers writing encouragement to all newbies, especially those starting later in life. www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com
Visit Cindy on her Facebook www.facebook.com/cindyehuff or follow her on twitter @CindyErvinHuff.
Author Josephine Rascoe Keenan joins us today to share about her YA book series. We met last year at the Ohioana Book Festival and became fast friends, so I asked her if she wanted to share a table at this year's festival. Check out her interview below. I know you'll love her books!
How did the idea for your series come about?
The Days of Elvis series, YA historical fiction, began as a stand-alone book entitled, IN THOSE FIRST BRIGHT DAYS OF ELVIS. After submitting to the “big five” and some not so big, I read a blog that suggested trying a small press. Pen-L Publishing was the first small press to receive the manuscript. To my great joy, it was accepted, but on the condition that I write two more books within the next two years and turn the original into a series. A three-book contract! How lucky can you get? My publisher asked if I could do it, and I said, “Piece of cake.” The truth was I didn’t have a clue how to write a series. However, I got busy and studied everything I could lay my hands on about series writing, and soon book two, IN THOSE DAZZLING DAYS OF ELVIS was underway. It just so happened that book one lent itself nicely to the idea that came to me for the two follow-up books. I did extensive research and found the story falling into place as if it had been intended all along.
Tell us about how the cover came to be.
The covers for all three of my books are my own art work. The medium was oil on canvas. I chose the cover scenes to reflect aspects of the story line. I typically paint only for relaxation, but I was passionately inspired to paint the cover for IN THOSE FIRST BRIGHT DAYS OF ELVIS before I knew it was going to be part of a series. One of the key scenes in the book takes place in the oil fields outside the town where the book is set. I wanted to depict that scene and the leading male character’s car. It was not easy for me to paint a car, but I searched the Internet for the make and model I wanted for the character and followed the picture of it to create the painting. The covers for IN THOSE DAZZLING DAYS OF ELVIS and IN THOSE GLORY DAYS OF ELVIS (coming soon) are a Dairyette and a Drive-In, respectively, symbolic hangouts for kids all over the country in the mid-fifties. The leading man’s car is featured in both of those paintings as well, and the pink and white Cadillac Elvis Presley was driving at that time is on the cover of book two.
Talk about the character, Julie. Was she based on your own experiences or completely fictional?
I don’t know how anyone can write and not rely on their life experiences. Although the character of Julie is a creation of my imagination, and my life story is not her story, I did call on feelings I’d had growing up with regard to acceptance or rejection by other kids, interaction with parental figures and teachers, and those first stirrings of love we all feel as we stand on the brink of adulthood. To create the character of Julie, I began with a biography of her life—when she was born, her hair and eye color, and most important, major conflicts I needed to make the book(s) compelling. When I set out to write IN THOSE FIRST BRIGHT DAYS OF ELVIS, I wanted to bring to life for kids today a story of historical importance set in the time when the world seemed brighter and more innocent than it does today. I wanted to bring kids of today into a world of fun and good times such as existed when Rock ‘n’ Roll came on the scene. I soon discovered, however, that no one would be interested in just the good times. To create a powerful plot, I had to conjure up trouble and more trouble for the leading character. The biography of Julie expanded into biographies of her fictional mother and father, and many of her relatives and friends. Since kids from small towns in those days cruised around in glitzy American cars, Julie and each of her friends had to have access to a car that would suit the characters. Very few kids in small southern towns owned their own cars, so parents and their economic situation had to be also considered when choosing an automobile for each kid to drive. Selecting the car models was one of the most fun things about writing the series. The character of Bubba John Younger stepped into Book two completely unplanned for and demanded a red and white convertible. Needless to say, I accommodated him. This may be the place to add that almost everyone I know thinks they are in my books, and the ironic thing is, Elvis Presley is the only actual person I allowed into this imaginary world.
How did Elvis influence your writing?
Elvis Presley came on the scene when rock ‘n’ roll was in its infancy and he went on to become known as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. I love his music and decided to use him as an iconic figure that would help illustrate to kids today how their music got its start. Although all concerts, recordings, movies and television appearances have been researched for accuracy as to when they occurred, the dialogue of the Elvis character in the books is completely fictional.
If you could be any fictional character, who would you pick?
This is a difficult question for me to answer, having spent most of my adult life playing other characters in theatre and film. I came to value being myself more than being someone else and acting various roles during those years, and when the time came for me to retire and write, (which I had always intended to do), I had fulfilled the need for recognition through creating a character in performance. However, fictional characters I admire fall primarily under the heading of historical fiction. I got interested in writing historical fiction by reading it. If you haven’t read Anya Seton’s Katherine, set in 14th century England, you have a treat coming, for this was a real person who went from obscurity to become the Duchess of Lancaster, and whose offspring became British royalty. Another of my favorite historical characters is Bernadine Eugenie Desiree Clary, who was the first love of Napoleon Bonaparte and who became Queen of Sweden. I might add that her progeny still sits on the Swedish throne. The book is called Desiree, by Annemarie Selinko. Classroom history books were typically dry and served as a sleep aid more often than not, but by reading novels about historical characters, I developed an interest in history and followed up the fictional accounts in novels with accurate historical information about the individuals’ lives.
What is your favorite book?
I love so many books it is hard to narrow it down to one favorite. I find Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books to be a great comfort in my life, and whenever I am sick or feeling out of sorts, or looking for comfort, reading one of hers can soothe my spirits and restore me to a happy state. Of course, Gone with the Wind is an all-time favorite of mine, and believe it or not, I read that book over fifty times hoping each read would unveil some miniscule detail I’d missed that would reveal to me whether Scarlett got Rhett back. In fact, I became a writer because of Gone with the Wind.
The same is true of singers. I adore so many that it is hard to pick just one. Included in my list are: the Bee Gees, the Beatles, Arlo Guthrie, the Moody Blues, Procol Harum, the Carpenters, Patsy Cline, Ella Fitzgerald, among many, but of course Elvis Presley is at the top of the list.
Find her books here:
In Bloom: Trading Restless Insecurity for Abiding Confidence
by Kayla Aimee
I got this book to review and it made me smile, laugh, and nod during each chapter. Kayla Aimee writes about the insecurities women face during the different stages of life. She shares the awkward moments we all face as kids, then in middle school (which was the worst time in my life), high school, college/new adulthood, and adulthood. She uses examples from her own life and how God helps us find our purpose and helps us to feel accepted during times when we feel isolated.
The author is very real and shares her difficult moments to showcase what she’s trying to share with her readers. Some of the stories will make you cringe as you see yourself dealing with the same feelings of inadequacy that often chase women.
At times I felt like Kayla Aimee was someone I grew up with as our experiences felt so similar. Her humor is quite similar to mine, so if you like the humor I use in my books, you should check out hers as she talks about the same cringe-y moments I write about in my novels.
In Bloom is a great way to find help for dealing with the moments of insecurity that can plague anyone. This would make a great graduation gift.
Find it here: a.co/5RlT5lE
*I received this Bible from BH Publishing and Lifeway in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*
Welcome author C. Hope Clark to the blog with a great guest post and some info about her new book!
Crime Fighters Have Family, Too
By C. Hope Clark
When I began writing crime fiction, I studied the successful mystery and suspense authors who’d gone before me. After all, writers learn by reading, and most writers read a lot! I had a story in mind, semi-based upon an experience I had in my life, and I wanted to make it as realistic as possible.
I was offered a bribe once upon a time when I worked for the federal government. Out of the blue a client approached me, offering money if I could lie and forge papers so he could snare a piece of land. As required, I phoned the Inspector General that sent in one agent, then two, in order to attempt a sting and nail the guy.
In preparation for writing that story, I read Sue Grafton, Lee Child, Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, James Scott Bell, and so on. There is no end to the list of mystery and suspense authors. So much to learn from. But when it came to one aspect of my tale, I fell short finding anything written that involved the angle I needed to pursue.
My character had a family.
Everyone has a family, you might say. Sure. But they aren’t part of solving the crime, so what do they matter? I felt they mattered greatly, adding to a character’s already heavy burden.
Sue Grafton stated in a presentation I was lucky enough to witness in person, “My character couldn’t have children. They’d just get in the way of crime solving.”
In reality, Sue Grafton grew up with alcoholic parents, and she pretty much raised herself from the age of five, growing up way too fast, maybe a little embittered with life. Her main character, Kinsey Millhone, in all the alphabet mysteries, was a loner, serious and focused. Her family died early on in a car crash, and she held no feelings for distant family, some she never met until she was in her 30s.
I sort of wished she’d given her character Grafton’s own childhood and dysfunctional family, giving her stories even more of an edge.
But Grafton, Kinsey’s creator, began writing in the 80s, when men ruled crime fiction, which means no family. The sleuths were divorced, alcoholic, and driven to spend 24 hours a day solving cases. So in order to break in, Grafton created a character that was basically a female gumshoe with pants, not much different than her male counterparts. I, however, began my stories 20 years later, when family dynamics took on a whole new meaning. I preferred breaking out of the stereotype.
When I endured my own bribery investigation, I had two small sons at home. After a day of hidden recorders, scripted lines designed to lead the bad guy into saying the right things, and eventually being stalked, I had to come home, praise crayon pictures, create a dinner that didn’t come out of a box, give baths, and read bedtime stories. A game face in the day and a mommy face at night. The required flip-flop in behaviors built up a stress all its own.
Having endured that stress, I wanted it in my stories. Not all crime fighters are single, divorced, or widowed. They all started younger, during child-bearing years, and if they are female, they were pregnant during those early years. It was time to see those facts in crime fiction, in my opinion.
So my heroine, Carolina Slade, opens in her first book Lowcountry Bribe (told you it was similar to my life) with a six-year-old son and an eleven-year-old daughter. Slade adores those children, but after the sudden bribe, she has to juggle an agent coming into her home, then leaving home pre-dawn so that her office can be wired for a clandestine meeting, and getting injured when the bad guy catches on to what she’s doing with agents. Then to top it all off, her family is threatened.
Nothing spurs a person to a new level of drive than to insert family in the mix. The odds change, the gloves come off, and the rules go out the window. That earnest fire-in-the-belly to protect one’s own is what I wanted in my character’s being. A loner has little at stake. A mother would tackle the world.
After succeeding at her first case, Slade graduated into a troubleshooter for her agency, facing crime solving alongside the federal agent she met in Lowcountry Bribe. And the children are still there. They might be secondary characters, but they matter to Slade, and therefore, her fans. And they aren’t just silent in the background either. Like in any family, there’re issues, and when Slade is in the thick of a case, those issues seem the most interfering.
Newberry Sin is Slade’s most recent escapade, and the issue of teenage sex comes into play atop her investigation into a blackmail/sex scheme. In the midst of checking out victims and suspects, Slade’s texted by her sister who’s concerned about the daughter’s new boyfriend, and the son’s vengeance against him hiding dead fish under the front seat of his car. Oh, and the discovery of a pregnancy kit.
Yes, crime solving is the key, and Carolina Slade is good at what she does, but throw her family into the fray and her focus at home competes with serious issues at work. She juggles, dances, and frets over how to split her time between criminals and children, even her boss and a best friend or two.
Being pulled in all directions. That is indeed how the real world functions.
And oh yeah, let’s not forget the federal agent, um, boyfriend?
BIO: C. Hope Clark’s newest release is Newberry Sin, set in an idyllic small Southern town where blackmail and sex are hush-hush until they become murder. The fourth in the Carolina Slade Mysteries. Hope speaks to conferences, libraries, and book clubs across the country, is a regular podcaster for Writer’s Digest, and adores connecting with others. She is also founder of FundsforWriters.com, an award-winning site and newsletter service for writers. She lives on the banks of Lake Murray in central South Carolina with her federal agent husband where they spin mysteries just for fun. www.chopeclark.com
Beneath an idyllic veneer of Southern country charm, the town of Newberry hides secrets that may have led to murder.
When a local landowner’s body, with pants down, is found near Tarleton’s Tea Table Rock—a notorious rendezvous spot, federal investigator Carolina Slade senses a chance to get back into the field again. Just as she discovers what might be a nasty pattern of fraud and blackmail, her petty boss reassigns her fledgling case to her close friend and least qualified person in their office.
Forced to coach an investigation from the sidelines, Slade struggles with the twin demons of professional jealousy and unplanned pregnancy. Something is rotten in Newberry. Her personal life is spiraling out of control. She can’t protect her co-worker. And Wayne Largo complicates everything when the feds step in after it becomes clear that Slade is right.
One wrong move, and Slade may lose everything. Yet it’s practically out of her hands . . . unless she finds a way to take this case back without getting killed.
Book trailer: animoto.com/play/xiGEHQRZLWWcrpPgHQgP4w
Amazon link https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BYD5T4P/
Kobo link https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/newberry-sin
B&N link https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/newberry-sin-c-hope-clark/1128369562
Google link https://play.google.com/store/books/details/C_Hope_Clark_Newberry_Sin
Apple link https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/newberry-sin/
Review Link (Amazon) https://www.amazon.com/review/create-review/ref=?ie=UTF8&asin=B07BYD5T4P#
Author of the Landry's True Colors Series, the Cecily Taylor Series, the Star Series, and Dating the It Guy.