Friday, April 18, 2014

True Heroes A to Z: Paul

True heroes are all around us, in our every day lives, but some people stand out. During this A-Z Challenge I hope to share several of my real life heroes, and invite you to share yours in the comments.

aul, as in break out your bible. One of the better chronicled members of the church established under Christ in the New Testament, Paul was a missionary to the end. When I think of his account, I see a fiery-eyed man who believes in his cause with all his heart and fights like a hornet.

You have to keep in mind, before he joined the cause of the Christians, he was their greatest opponent, seeking their total annihilation among the Jews. He moved political powers to obtain relocation and extermination orders, and was hugely successful...until he had a vision on the road wherein he saw the Christ and was struck immobile for three days after.

La conversion de Saint Paul by Luca Giordano
Museum of Fine Arts of Nancy.
From that point on, Paul went to war for the opposite cause. He defended the faith and spread the gospel until cost his very life. His final words get me every time. "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith (2 Timothy, 4:7)."

My mom used to call me stubborn when I was young, I always insisted I was determined. I want to be like Paul--in whatever I do. I want to fight the good fight, stay my course, and leave a legacy of determination to those who follow after me.

I love it when characters battle their native circumstances, looking for something better. Alexia is a little bit like me.


“Why not send an invitation for your father’s ball?”

Alexia blanched. Ask him here?

Maurine lifted an elegant invitation, not yet addressed. “I can scribe your father’s hand. Even he can’t tell the difference.”

Alexia dropped her book and stepped to the bureau. She slid his card from the drawer, her fingers caressing the faded ink. She must either surrender to Father’s match and accept that she would be the wife of a stranger, commit herself to a loveless marriage with a friend, or open herself to the truth and fight for an alternative.

She wanted to fight. She would not be forced into a match like Sarah’s or steal away what future happiness Rupert might know. But mostly, she needed to see him again.

Disgusted with herself, she offered the card to Maurine. “Make it a good counterfeit.”

MOONLESS is on sale now for $1.99, but only for another couple days.

Quick heads up, if you'd like to know what a completely unbiased third party thought of the book, check out Bruce Gargoyle's review, posted today.

Do you have any heroes you love for their determination? Have you read the New Testament? Do you have any heroes from scripture?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

True Heroes: O for Osm (Sound that Out)

True heroes are all around us, in our every day lives, but some people stand out. During this A-Z Challenge I hope to share several of my real life heroes, and invite you to share yours in the comments.

lson family, Jeffery and Julie Olson. I met these amazing people shortly after moving to NYC, but they were so important in our lives--more than they may ever know.

In 2006 my husband got a job in New York, on the border of NYC. It was one of those crazy moments where he got in the car, drove cross country, and found work. While searching for housing, he attended church. He had no idea where he was going to stay that night, and we'd mostly dried up the financial reserves. Suddenly, this lovely young lady at church asked if he needed a place to stay. Her father, Jeffery, was the District President and they often invited people to stay in their basement.

That was the beginning.

Over the next year and a half we got to know more about this amazing family, and I have to say, I've never met anyone more inspiring. Nine kids. Living on Long Island. He worked for a Catholic university, even though he was Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), and frequently took trips to Rome. Julie home schooled ALL OF THOSE KIDS, was involved in the community, and you couldn't help but feel her love instantly. I wanted to be exactly like her. She remembered all the little details about our conversations and was instantly invested in EVERYONE she met. Just WOW.

I remember clearly a year after we moved out of the city when she and I ran into one another. There was a big hug, some giddy jumping up and down, and excited chatter about everything that had changed in the last year. Even after we left, she continued to love us. They were the same way with everyone, and I suppose that's what impressed me the most.

I'm sure we didn't make that huge an impression on them, but in a time that was beyond turbulent for me, I was embraced by angels.

This is my week of excerpts, so I hope you like this one:

Kiren extended a hand to help her up, and she took it. Her feet were instantly below her—so quickly that she stumbled and landed against his solid form. An arm rounded her back tenderly, her legs threatening to give at the elation of his touch.

He turned in the direction of the house, pulling her forward with him, moving out of the garden and up to solid brick walls. They halted at a window, the study window. Father sat within, gazing at the portrait of Dana, fingers tracing the details.

“He gave her up.” Her attention snapped back to her breathtaking captor, inhaling his oaken tang. “He could have kept her for his own, and he gave her up.”

His eyes met hers. The azure depths broke in a myriad of lighter flecks, like stars reflected in an ocean tide. They consumed her, igniting a fire within her breast—an irrational hunger for the tremor in his arm against her back, the heat of his side against hers, the feel of his hand vacillating ever so slightly...

He released her and took a few steps back. “You need to go now.”

MOONLESS is on sale now for $1.99, but only for another couple days.

Have you met anyone who instantly loved and helped you? Who is it you most aspire to be like? Do you have alternate parent figures?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kick-Trash Writerly Wednesday, and True Heroes: N

True heroes are all around us, in our every day lives, but some people stand out. During this A-Z Challenge I hope to share several of my real life heroes, and invite you to share yours in the comments.

ikola Tesla. Yes, I'm a total fan of all things geek...except for maybe Darwinism, so it probably shouldn't come as any wonder I look up to Tesla, who was arguably one of the brightest minds to ever walk the earth. I mean, what I wouldn't give for his wireless electricity! How did we NOT patent that one into existence?

From Serbia, Tesla never graduated college. How's that for ironic? He slept rarely, as in 2 hour stints here and there, and ran 10 miles a day to keep his brain active. He claimed a photographic memory and definitely dealt with OCD.

He found himself working in electronics and migrated to the USA where he worked for Thomas Edison, until he got his own backers. And failed. He eventually secured another backer and went on to create car motors, and such things as X-rays, radio/remote control, transatlantic radio signals, and of course, the Tesla Coil. Heck, he even was working on a "death ray," or directed-energy weapon for the military.

I admire this man for his tenacity, for his pursuit of passion, even when funds were hard to come by. I admire his mind, and the dedication he gave to his work. Really, I'm in love with his brain.

Are you ready to meet a new author and enter to win an awesome book? 

Last week, Tara Tyler shared Pop Travel with us, along with two truths and one lie. Those who guessed the lie correctly were entered into a random drawing for the chance to win one of three amazing prizes.

Tara's game:

1. Tara was a singing camel in a school musical.

2. She was a singing rebel in a school musical.

3. She was a singing penguin in a school musical.

And the lie is: 

#3. Tara was also a tree and a farmer and once had to turn down a part in Hello Dolly because the rehearsals were too far away. She's been in a lot of musicals. She loves to sing and has always had a big mouth that projects well =) She may try out for community theater some day.

Way to guess those of you who got it right! You are officially human lie detectors. And the winners are:


Jennifer Hawes
Misha Gericke

Congrats ladies!

And now to today's feature, a book I can't wait to read that promises non-stop action and pure awesomeness (and whose author's name starts with an N! How cools is that?):

At the age of twenty, Kanze Zenjiro's bloody footprints mark the bodies of those who stood in his way to protect the throne of his beloved nation of Nihon. Now, the tyrannical Iberian Empire is bent on destroying his kingdom, and they are sure to send their steam-powered giants and iron spiders against him.

Zen embarks on a quest that takes him on the most dangerous journey of his life. To succeed, Zen must live up to his nickname, the Dragonfly Warrior, and kill all his enemies with only a sword and a pair of six-guns and somehow survive a test of faith and loyalty in a world so cruel and merciless, it borders on madness.

Pick up your copy HERE.

And now, let me introduce you to the amazing author: 

Jay Noel was born in New York but lives in St. Louis with his family. He received a degree in English, and despite what people say, an English degree isn't a big waste of time. Jay's been blogging since 2005, and he's a regular contributor to and

Right now, Jay is on a Farmer's Cheese kick. No artificial anything, and it's got enough flavor without overwhelming you. It's awesome when you shred it and put it on a salad, or you can just cut a chunk off and eat it plain. 

Jay gave me two truths and one lie to test your "lie detector" skills. Those who figure out the lie will go into my magic hat for a chance to win one of these cool steampunk bookmarks. You have until Tuesday, April 22, at 1 p.m. EDT to guess--and be sure to come back for the answer on April 23.


1. In 2002, Jay had a near death experience. His heart stopped while in the hospital, and that's why he never takes anything for granted.
2. Jay's a big time extrovert, and spent a lot of time on stage. He participated in musicals, plays, speech and debate. He even got to the National Championships in humorous interpretation.
3. Jay had a strange encounter with a ghost when he was 13 years old and it radically changed him forever. He's been infatuated with the paranormal ever since.

Okay friendlies, which is the lieDo you look up to any intellectuals? Who is your favorite inventor? Favorite modern invention?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

True Heroes A to Z: Few Men will Ever Measure up...

to this one.

Quickly, Michael Di Gesu is kindly featuring MOONLESS today on his blog. Check it out!

True heroes are all around us, in our every day lives, but some people stand out. During this A-Z Challenge I hope to share several of my real life heroes, and invite you to share yours in the comments.

onson, Thomas. Okay, so if you don't know who this is, you really need to get to know him. Here's a man whose life has been consumed by service to others since the age of 22 when he was called as a bishop (lay service--non paid) in the Mormon church (officially called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). Among the many tasks he was to carry out, 85 widows fell he under his care. He visited every single one regularly, and ended up speaking at each one's funeral over the ensuing 40 years.

He is a people person, one filled with stories who recites classics and thrives on beautiful poetry. He gives constant attention to "the one," spending many an hour at the sickbed or with downhearted families while leading a world-wide church of 15 million.

He's one of my personal heroes.

MOONLESS is only on sale at $1.99 for a short while longer. Have a taste of the awesomeness, eh?

Kiren unlatched the balcony door with a thin metal hook and slipped inside. He refastened the catch, gut twisting at the moonless sky beyond the glass. How long would his luck hold?

Alexia lay on her back, one arm lost in her dark hair, the other tucked across her chest. A foot dangled off the edge of the mattress, tempting him to slip it back beneath her blanket.

He grinned, envying her carefree abandon. Her latest read lay on the bed beside an extinguished candle. He lifted it. Fanciful words danced back at him. They too made him smile. She wanted adventure. He could supply that.

His eyes landed on the card he’d given her father and his smirk died. It had been shredded and reconstructed. His chest tightened. “Oh Alexia . . .”

Have you known anyone who inspired you to want to be better? Who is the most selfless person you know? Have you done any good in the world today?

Monday, April 14, 2014

True Heroes A to Z: L is for Forgiveness?

True heroes are all around us, in our every day lives, but some people stand out. During this A-Z Challenge I hope to share several of my real life heroes, and invite you to share yours in the comments.

owe, Alva Johnson. This is a quiet, elderly woman most people might pass in a grocery store and think nothing of, but she is so much more. She married her husband at the age of 17, and became the wife of a very successful cattle rancher. Even during the depression, they had enough and were generous with others. She raised strong children and taught them each a stiff moral backbone.

Because of a childhood sickness, she battled deafness all her life. She served as an experimental patient in multiple procedures--many painful. She was proud that she'd be able to help pioneer hearing technology for those who would come after her, and despite her difficulties, I never heard her complain.

She could have.

God had taken her hearing.

She never complained.

When her husband was 65, she lost him to a heart attack because of medical malpractice.

She didn't sue.

She forgave.

She never complained.

When she was 78, she was hit by garbage truck while walking, and doctors didn't think she'd walk again. She proved them wrong.

Again, she didn't sue.

She forgave.

She never complained.

Feelings of anger can eat us up inside. They urge us to blame our lack of happiness on what we don't have, what was taken from us. Alva, "Grandma," has taught me that forgiveness is a choice. Happiness is a choice. She just keeps pressing forward, leaving behind the bad to make room for the good. She's my hero.

Time is running out. MOONLESS is on sale now for $1.99, but only for another couple weeks.


“There’s an old legend ‘bout these parts.” Their host sat his tired body down on a stool. “Dangers in the moonless night what’d make you shake in your skin.” He indicated the empty chairs across from himself and they took them willingly. “It’s said a hundred years back a wil-o’-the-wisp passed this way.”

“Like a faerie?” Alexia suggested.

“Oh sure,” he nodded, “only stronger. It liked our little town and settled down here. It aided people’s harvest, blessed our children with health, kept the cattle, stayed the plague.” He shifted. “A doctor on the hill housed the creature, fed it, took care of it and did its bidding on our behalf. Then one day he disappeared—he and his whole family.” He looked Alexia right in the eye. “A plague started upon us, things what appear on moonless nights and stealed away our children. There weren’t no more helps of a miraculous nature. Ones like this,” he pointed to the youth who’d saved them, “started popping up instead of the healthy pretty ones. No offense, lad.” The young man smiled a toothy grin. “It’s said the old man insulted the creature and earned its wrath. We been dealin’ with it ever since. Bein’ left to wander outdoors on a night such as this is as much a death sentence as hangin’.”

Have you been inspired by someone who was able to forgive? Do you have a grandparent you look up to? Have you dealt with deafness or other disabilities?