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<<August 2014>>
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1. Serials

Things to consider if you're planning on writing a series. 


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2. I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE! #IcebucketChallenge

Ok. Fine. I didn't volunteer. In fact, I may have gone kicking and screaming, and a little bit crying. I was nominated by Katie @ Mundie Moms. I unfriend you. I nominate Hannah, The Irish Banana, Martina Boone (Compulsion), Veronica Rossi (Under the Never Sky), Marie Rutkoski (The Winner's Curse), and Elisa Johnston (my part-time reviewer, full-time friend). And here is the dreaded event . . .

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3. Writing a Cumulative Picture Book: The Lake Where Loon Lives by Brenda Reeves Sturgis (plus a giveaway!)

Before we talk cumulative tales with guest author Brenda Reeves Sturgis, it’s time for a little blog business. The winner of EXTRAORDINARY WARREN is: 


Congratulations…and be on the lookout for an email from me.

Now let’s get to a LOON-y interview with Brenda…


Your newest book, THE LAKE WHERE LOON LIVES, is a cumulative tale (like The Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly), where each new scene builds upon the previous ones, all repeated in the text. What inspired you to write a cumulative picture book…and what special considerations does a writer have when writing such a story?

I didn’t set out to write a cumulative tale, but just set out to write what I heard in my head and in my heart.

I live on a lovely little lake in Maine and I am always elated when the loons come back to the lake in the spring. Their haunting hoots and wicked wails always leave me breathless wanting to hear more, and so when the story came to me as a gift in the middle of the night (which is my usual writing time). I just began writing, and writing and writing and what appeared was THE LAKE WHERE LOON LIVES.

In a cumulative story, each line builds and stacks on the previous sentence, and loon is written in rhyme so that made it even more challenging because every time I changed a word, the story would start to crumble and I would have to rewrite not only the sentence that I was revising but also all of the sentences before it, so that I would keep the right rhythm and meter.

I wanted to depict what a day in the life of a loon might be like, so I put in chicks, a fly, a fish that would snap at the fly, a boy on a dock that would give fishing a try, a cast, a struggle, and a splash and a swish, and then after a HUGE RUCKUS, the story starts to unwind where Mama Loon finds the SPOT on the lake that she loves best. She tucks her chicks in tight, and just like all loving Mama’s do, she reads her babies a goodnight story before she settles in with a nice cup of tea by her campfire.


Little did I know when I wrote it that the illustrator would illustrate LOON so totally different than I had pictured, and I am so very glad that she did. Because in this loon story mama loon LOVES to waterski, she is daubed white and black because her chicks used her as a canvas with Loon White waterproof paint. I think the illustrator, Brooke Carton did a fabulous job with her loose illustrations which compliment the tight text very nicely.

INNISFREE BOOK STORE, MEREDITH NEW HAMPSHIREI hope your readers will enjoy reading THE LAKE WHERE LOON LIVES as much as I enjoyed writing it. Islandport Press has been wonderful to work with, and they had a book launch for LOON at The Maine Audubon Society in May, and I’ve been busy with signings and events almost every weekend since.

Why are cumulative tales beneficial for young children?

Cumulative stories teach word repetition and children therefore know what to expect in the story, which then helps them learn languague and pick out familiar words. This enhances their reading abilities, making for a stronger student and a more confident learner. A cumulative story is a perfect tool to teach a reluctant reader.

Tell us about Islandport Press. How did you find them and why was this story such a good fit for their list?

I’d heard about Islandport for years, and when I started researching their books I saw that they were Maine-and-New-England-themed, so on a whim, I submitted to them on my own, then sent an e-mail to my agent Karen Grencik saying, “By the way, I submitted to Islandport!” She answered back, “GREAT, fingers crossed!”

I got the acceptance e-mail while sitting in the Biddeford Library. I went outside, sat on the curb and cried, because up until that point, I didn’t know if I got published on a fluke, or if I had any kind of talent or chance at another book at all. It was a wonderful process, and I am so grateful to Dean Lunt the publisher, and Melissa Kim my editor. They have an amazing marketing staff, they are kind and thoughtful and amazing to their authors!

Also, on the back of LOON, something I am most proud of is a nice blurb by author Chris VanDusen.

What’s next for you, Brenda?

TOUCHDOWN, after 7 years, after winning Smart Writers, after being rejected 50 times (not once because of the writing but because of the marketing “hook”) has become a finalist for the MeeGenius Author Challenge, and whoever wins will be awarded $1500.00.

Good luck, Brenda! And thanks for giving away a copy of LOON to our blog readers. 

Comment below by August 29th or a chance to win! And feel free to ask Brenda questions about cumulative stories or her work.

10 Comments on Writing a Cumulative Picture Book: The Lake Where Loon Lives by Brenda Reeves Sturgis (plus a giveaway!), last added: 8/22/2014
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4. In a Blink of the Eye

About a year ago I was driving down Rt. 58 to take my nephew for a check up at the doctor's. It had been snowing earlier in the week, but the roads were clear, except for some salt they'd placed in preparation for the next snow storm. I was hurrying along because I didn't want to be late for his appointment, and had decided not to take any of the girls with me because I didn't want to take the chance of running into bad weather with a car full of youngsters.

My mind raced with all sorts of thoughts, including the sadness of circumstances which seemed to have taken over my existence.

I kept telling the Lord that I gave Him permission to be in complete control of my life, was thanking Him for all He does. I heard Him say He was in control, and I kept talking to Him about how good it was to realize that I was NOT the one in charge. I made a bold statement of faith that day, and I suppose by what happened next, was expected to back it up with action.

I looked away from the road for but a moment. The blink of an eye: and in that blink my car began to fish-tail on DRY PAVEMENT... at forty-five miles per hour.

The car spun to the right, and I was almost over a cliff. Then to the left, and I nearly hit twenty feet of rock on the side of the mountain. It spun back and forth, doing several three-sixties, and half a dozen near misses with the cliff and the rocks.


One second I was frantically scanning east (checking for traffic no less), and the next second I was facing west, absolutely amazed that no cars were coming from either way. All the while I screamed for the Lord to help me.

It was as if a tornado had come and was sucking me up into its eye.

My foot stomped the brakes so tight that I burnt rubber on the road in horrible swerving spirals, could smell the char-broiled tires... thinking at the same time that I couldn't be responsible for allowing harm to come to my nephew.

And just like that it was over.

The car came to a screeching HALT in the proper lane, facing the direction of the doctor's office.


I had a death grip on that steering wheel. My knuckles were white as the threatening snow. And my heart was pounding so violently I was sure I could hear it. My knees were knocking and my teeth were chattering.

"I told you I am still in control.", the Lord said.

"You didn't have to spin me in circles down the highway to prove it to me LORD."

The crazy thing is, not one single human being saw what had just happened. And even crazier than that, my nephew had been sound asleep and never WOKE UP until the car came to a complete stop.

"Aunt Jae?" I heard his little voice from the backseat.

I saw him rub his eyes in the rear view mirror. How could a kid so full of energy and opinion SLEEP through an ordeal so serious, unless there were angels in the backseat holding him?

I pulled over at the next open lot until I could gather up strength and then drove on to the appointment, the car acting kind of funny, and still smelling of burnt tire.

When I drove back toward home I searched and searched for tire marks. Not a single trace on the road. No evidence that it had ever happened, except that my brakes began to make a funny noise.

For days afterward, I was dizzy and had visions of being inside a whirlwind. It sounded like a train ripping through the side of a bridge... loud metal tearing in half... as if a tornado had literally torn my life apart. I couldn't think straight. Some would say I was suffering from post traumatic stress, but I say it was a spiritual awakening.

It took about three days for me to realize spinning around on top of a dangerous mountain, and not a scratch on us...was one of the wildest, coolest things that ever happened to me.

I hadn't thought about that scene until today when something threw me back into the eye of that same tornado. I found something that all but broke my heart.

What I saw shocked my husband, me and my three youngest children half to death. It frightened me. And when I returned home after ranting and crying and absolutely asking


I saw that whirlwind whipping in circles.

It was layers deep around me, and I heard that same screeching metal sound like the side of a steel barn being split down the middle. I stood inside the storm with my hands thrown up in the air just feeling so stupid. As if everything I have done to protect and raise this family has been for nothing. That storm left me helpless and alone.

But inside the eye of the storm God's hand reached out to me. He scooped me up out of my storm and held me. He didn't just gently touch me from above in the Spirit...he reached down and grabbed me up out of my hurt.

I was not the only one He took out of that earth-shaking twister.

He also plucked up my daughter, my son, my husband, and my other children.

Then my brother, and his wife and their three children.

My sister and her family.

My mom, my step-dad and my uncle...

My daughter-in-law, my "adopted" child, and then even my sister's neighbor.

He REMOVED US from harm's way and set us safely down on the outside of the storm.

And as I observed the storm from the outside, instead of it going on all around me, I heard a puff of His breath..and it blew away just like a dandelion's seeds on a windy day.

Absolutely amazing.

The trials I have faced over the last few years have been so empowering. They have given me great strength and insight. And they have made me appreciate the Lord all the more. I have drawn near unto Him due to the obstacles I am constantly sprinting over.

The most wonderful part about all the horrifying events which take place ALL AROUND ME is that it isn't ME... it is just ALL AROUND me. Thank You Lord for the faith to stand in the eye of the tornado so regularly and not try to fight my own way out. You come and rescue me every time, and make another story for me to tell.

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5. Exclusive Marvel Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Photo You Will Be Astounded By...well, not really...

Crusher Creel to Menace Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Get your first look at Brian Patrick Wade as Creel with an exclusive new image form Season 2!


  Image From Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  

Carl "Crusher" Creel, known to Marvel fans as the Absorbing Man in the comics, will bring his unique power set to "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." with the season premiere Tuesday, September 23 at 9:00 p.m. ET on ABC!

With the news we've also got your EXCLUSIVE first look at Brian Patrick Wade ("Generation Kill," "Teen Wolf") as Creel directly below! With his ability to absorb the properties of anything he touches, Creel will put Coulson and his team through their paces when their second season kicks off...but you'll have to wait until then to see how their battle turns out!

Yep, folks, that was the panty-wetting exclusive. A bald guy. But you get the reminder:

 Wade joins a number of new characters and guest stars on the series' second season, including the previously announced Adrianne Palicki (Bobbi Morse, a.k.a. Mockingbird), Lucy Lawless (Agent Isabelle Hartley), Reed Diamond (Daniel Whitehall), Nick Blood (Lance Hunter), Henry Simmons (Alphonso "Mack" Mackenzie), and Kyle MacLachlan (Skye's father), alongside the returning cast of Clark Gregg (Director Coulson), Ming-Na Wen (Agent May), Brett Dalton (Grant Ward), Elizabeth Henstridge (Agent Simmons), Iain De Caestecker (Agent Fitz), and Chloe Bennet (Agent Skye).

I bet you are looking at that photo in awe, right?  Cannot believe your eyes?  Well, it is true: bald man with knee pads (under trousers) strikes a pose.  And Marvel just casually throws this at us!!

Okay, its a TV series and they don't want to give too much away but, really?  That's it?


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6. Amazon’s eBook Collection Gets a New Book Every 5 Minutes

Feel like your novel is getting lost in a sea of other titles in Amazon’s Kindle store? It’s not surprising, as the store’s inventory is growing at an incredibly  rapid pace.

Just how fast? Author Claude Nougat has pegged it at 12 books an hour or about one new book every five minutes. He watched the collection grow from 3,376,174 results to 3,376,186 in an hour, in order to come to this conclusion. Here is more from his blog:

In 24 hours, the number had climbed to 3,378,960, that’s 2786 more books – let’s say, 2,800 a day, that’s over one million books per year – and probably growing at an exponential rate that I cannot calculate for the moment; I haven’t got the data though Amazon does (I wonder whether they are as scared as I am).

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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7. 5 Quick Tips for Writing in Multiple Perspectives

Let's Get Lost coverWriting a novel from one unique perspective can be challenging enough for many writers, but writing a character’s story through multiple perspectives will multiply the challenges, but also the rewards. Adi Alsaid’s new novel, Let’s Get Lost (Harlequin Teen, 2014), is an excellent example of using multiple perspectives to effectively tell the story of one character’s road trip while also keeping the reader enticed and invested for the entire ride. Here, Alsaid offers five quick tips for authors who hope to do the same in their stories.

* * * * *

I’ve always been drawn to multiple perspectives, both as a reader and as a writer. And as a person! I like getting into people’s heads. That’s what I love about fiction, the ease with which we can slip into someone else’s thoughts. So when I write, I like telling a story from as many perspectives as the narrative will allow. With Let’s Get Lost, I thought it would be really interesting to tell a road-trip tale through the eyes of characters who are stationary, who are going through their own issues, their own lives, when a mysterious girl comes crashing in. Here are my tips for writing in multiple perspectives.

  • Differentiate the voices. The easiest way to fail at multiple perspective is to not actually have any. Don’t give characters the same sense of humor, the same vocabulary, the same sense of right and wrong. When in doubt, read the different perspectives aloud.
  • Start small. Instead of trying to encompass an entire character’s persona, zoom in on a detail. A simple desire, one thought, a bite of pasta, even. It’s a lot less intimidating to start with a bite of pasta than with an entire backstory in mind. The rest will build from there, and will probably feel more authentic for it.
  • Explore. If you’re writing from different perspectives, at least one of them is probably wholly different to your own. That’s not a challenge, it’s a chance to explore what it means to be someone else. A parking lot, for example, looks different to a woman walking alone in her twenties than to a woman trying to keep two toddlers from running out into traffic before she reaches the target. What would it be like to be a teenager living in a war-torn region? You probably don’t know for sure, but you have a chance to find out if you start with a small detail and then explore from there.
  • Keep it personal. Just because the characters are not like you doesn’t mean they can’t have pieces of you in them. In some way, they should care about what you care about. Or maybe they have the exact opposite beliefs, or they have courage that you don’t. Whatever it is, consider the personal connection the character has with you as you move forward. If you don’t connect with the characters on a personal level, your readers probably won’t either.
  • Connection. This one may not be for everybody. What I love most about books—reading or writing them—is the chance to connect to others, the idea that people have similar thoughts and experiences, even though they may not know it. Do this in your stories too. Make connections, subtle or otherwise. Make them pass by each other a minute or two apart. Have someone in common in their backstory without them being aware of it. It’s the beauty of multiple perspectives, you can explore human connection in ways that we may miss in real life.

Adi Alsaid was born and raised in Mexico City. He attended college at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in class, he mostly read fiction and continuously failed to fill out crossword puzzles, so it’s no surprise that after graduating he packed up his car and escaped to the California coastline to become a writer. He’s now back in his hometown, where he writes, coaches high school and elementary basketball, and has perfected the art of making every dish he eats or cooks as spicy as possible. In addition to Mexico, he has lived in Tel Aviv, Las Vegas and Monterey, California. A tingly feeling in his feet tells him that more places will eventually be added to the list. For more, visit www.somewhereoverthesun.com.

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8. New Book Review!

My publisher, Immedium send this new book review of TreeHouse Heros and Forgotten Beast ^______^
"The magical artwork will draw readers in to this lusciously illustrated tale. The story focuses on possibly the last Zez, a magical creature from a far-east land, that is near extinction as forests have fallen, rivers dried up, and humans multiplied. Looking for a new unspoiled home she discovers the Treehouse Heroes—five children, each with different gifts (invisibility, shape changing, wind blowing, speed and strength) and their wise teacher. The Zez learns that General Moon, once a man but changed by his enchanted armor, has conquered all of the villages and driven out all of the Zez, leaving the towns in ruins. The Zez’s magic can help nature bloom again, but that’s only part of the solution. When the Zez is captured by General Moon’s men, the Treehouse Heroes track her to a tower in a rusted out town. Using their different powers, they rescue her and release the general from his armor causing him to disappear into smoke. The Zez, given back her freedom, continues her search leaving the village to do their part to resurrect their town. Children may enjoy this adventure and magical creature, but also get the point of personal responsibility for the environment."
- Puget Sound Council for Reviewing Children’s Literature

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9. Sketch Dailies Princess Leia

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10. They Will Know Me by My Love

I have made many mistakes in my walk with Christ. Especially with my own teenagers. Sometimes patience eludes me. Sometimes I forget where I came from. And I forget that my teens are facing the same troubles, the same pressures, on a much higher level than I did growing up. I am sorry guys. Forgive me. Please help me to be a better mother to you. I don't want you going down that same path of destruction I was on. Sometimes I forget to show you the same mercy and grace the Lord shows me. I am forever sorry for those times.

Parents have a hard time reaching their children these days. Children are shutting down from the real world, and living within a screen. It breaks my heart. Please children, hear the voice of someone who has been there. Done that.

Wearing those razor blades around your necks will not make a fashion statement. It will show the true pain behind your mask of, "Everything is okay with me."

Cutting yourself will not make the pain go away. I promise you that. I know, because it never helped me. All the pain I caused myself and others. It just made more guilt.

I did so many things, in the name of wanting to help people, that only made things so much worse in their lives. But God has given me a second chance. I am grateful. And that second chance (His name is Jesus) that He gave to me, He can give to anyone who wants to feel loved by a true father, parent, friend, Savior. I just had to say that today. He changed my life.

I LIVED at the bottom of the pit for so many years, looking up, feeling like every time it rained I was going to drown. Every time the leaves fell off the tree, I was frightened because the season of death was coming. Where life ceased, went to sleep, and so did my emotions. All I knew for so many years was pain and agony. All I knew was darkness and no hope of escape.

But Jesus took me away from that. He lifted me out of that hole I lived in and moved me to a much better place in my life. Where I could realize my parents DID love me. That my FATHER did love me. That I didn't need a man to prove I was worthy of love. I found myself in abusive situations over and again because I just wanted love so freaking bad. Jesus gave me that love I hungered for.

He gave me the courage to find my way out.

To chase my dreams of becoming a published writer. I may not have made a million dollars on my first book, but its IN PRINT! Not a failure...just STEP ONE.

I am not doing this anymore to see my name on books. I am doing it to see less names under suicide on the obituaries. Less untimely names on tombstones. And to see MORE NAMES in the Lamb's Book of Life.

Jesus helped me to realize that I am worthy. I am good enough. And now that my children are older, they are going through the same struggles I had.

Not sure if their father loves them.

Not sure if Mom loves them.

Not sure if they are okay, good enough.

I need to be there for them. And I intend to.

I am putting a stop right now to Satan's trap. In the name of Jesus Christ. I am taking back what the devil stole from my kids. From the children of others. You can't have these kids devil. They belong to someone much stronger than you. And if you try to take them away, HE will just show up at EXACTLY THE RIGHT TIME and snatch them back from you. So eat my dust devil. I am going out in the streets again, starting with the houses which hold MY OWN... AND I AM TAKING THEM BACK FOR THE KING.

I am starting by participating in an event I found on facebook.

It is an event where we can write LOVE on our arms between Friday November 12 @ midnight and November 13th 11:30 p.m. Join me in my efforts, for ourselves, and for the love of others. I love kids, teens, youth, young adults. I want to be there. I want to show my support. And I am going to. Because I know what it is to feel alone. To not belong. To feel unloved.


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11. Pop Goes the Page - stories

Over at Princeton University, at the Cotsen Children's Library, Dr. Dana Sheridan posts several times a week about the programs she does.   Her blog is Pop Goes the Page and it is truly worth a look.

Today's post is about kamishibai, a Japanese form of storytelling with colorful picture cards.  Check out this link to read her post.

She mentions Allan Say's touching book, Kimishibai Man, about an aging storyteller whose livelihood is lost to television.  At the end of the book, he decides to take his bicycle and his little stage and look for an audience.  He finds one.  Happy ending.

Kamishibai Man 

  Live storytelling thrives today, whether it is tellers with microphones,or story hours with books.  One person using her voice to tell a story, read, recited or woven from memory is so much more evocative than people acting out a scene.  A spoken story - even with pictures as aids - leads the listeners into their own imaginations where they can depth and detail.  Television and movies, and even theater to a smaller extent, leave little to the imagination.  Well, we can still imagine what the scene smells like.  We can imagine how it feels to hold that little piglet.  But not much else.

I will introduce storytelling to a group of youngsters and their parents on Sept. 6th at Cops'n'Kids in South Bethlehem.  Stop by!  and we can talk about the importance of sharing stories in person.

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I feel like falling on my knees and crying
until the rain stops.
Till the butterfly lands on your cheek
and whispers sweet words to tell you
that everything is going to be alright.
When you stand there in silence
and think no one hears you.
When you look up at the stars
and God's hand reaches out
and touches you
and close your eyes for a split second...
and you're dancing with Him
underneath your favorite tree
until the last leaf falls.
All these troubles
All the temptation in your life
tries to shield you
from really seeing God's plan for you.
He wraps His arms around you
and wipes every sad tear from your eyes.
When you feel you have no strength left,
but you keep pushing and pushing...
I sometimes feel as if
I am losing the people I care about the most.
Then I go back to that quiet place
under the tree
with every beautiful shade of fall color.
And He stands there with His hand stretched out,
"You are still a Princess to Me."

Stephanie R. Rankin

Stephanie is a 2010 graduate of East Davidson High School in Thomasville, NC. She is nineteen years old, and is an aspiring photographer. She has had her share of struggles, but continues to seek the face of God. She loves hiking, swimming, going to church, dancing, singing and ministering. She plans to pursue the career of veterinary medicine, but right now is enjoying the freedom of exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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13. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e August 22nd, 2014

Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last week:

Who Can Effectively Challenge Amazon in the Book Business? (Jane Friedman)

The Perfect Title (Mary Keeley)

Narrowing the Gap (Terry Odell)

In obscurity, butterflies (Jennifer R. Hubbard aka writerjenn)

How Technology Affects the Way We Write (Dean Fetzer)

Dealing with Reader Expectations (Stina Lindenblatt)

You’ve Got the Power (Rachelle Gardner)

Finding Your Voice (Clare Langley-Hawthorne)

Kill Your Darlings? (Elle Carter Neal)

The Six Archetypes Every Novel Needs (Bill Ferris)

Back It Up (Joe Hartlaub)

If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2013, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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14. Yes, But How Are You?

It has been a stressful summer.

Sold a house--very emotional and grief-filled.

Lived with friends--fabulously wonderful! (More on that.)

Bought a house--also very emotional, and a decision that was--and continues to be--faith-stretching.

Trying to get settled in new house--hasn't been easy. We keep getting distracted by house projects--floors, plumbing, kitchen, have to do something about the chimney and the tin roof/balcony--and can't seem to get unpacked. Plus some rooms don't exist yet--where do we put those belongings now?

So how am I doing, really?

And the answer is...

I feel quite well, considering everything. Though I am easily overwhelmed with all there is to do, I can only do what I can do in a day, and the rest can wait till tomorrow. We have the whole church coming over for a house blessing on Sunday afternoon. We still have boxes everywhere, and piles of stuff that I don't know where to put or haven't had time to sort, but it's okay. The house can be blessed, friends can visit and rejoice with us, and I'm not hiding the fact that this is my life right now!

Although the summer's events have been emotionally draining and I am mentally and physically very tired, I am buoyed up by a strong sense of rightness about it all. So many little confirmations make me believe that God is leading us down this path. It's been a rocky, uneven path, with overgrowth that we have to stop and clear away at points, but He keeps beckoning us to keep following, even with the occasional smiling reminder that He never promised it would be an easy path, but that it would be worth it in the end. He's used so many people to confirm and encourage us.

Here's one example--the friends who invited us to live with them while we didn't have a house. It ended up to be about 7 weeks total, and those weeks exactly coincided with the wife's recovery period from a sudden and serious abdominal surgery. She wasn't allowed to drive or go to work, and as a strong extrovert, it would have been a very difficult time for her. In her own words:

Your family's presence saved me from the loneliness and false sense of uselessness that would have hit me hard during my convalescence had it just been [my husband] and me.  You also saved him from being overwhelmed by having to meet all of his wife's needs for socializing.  Although he has never complained of being overwhelmed by me, I think I could have approached the limit.  When I was home on maternity leave with [her son], I became a garrulous maniac that made store clerks run the other way - really!  God was definitely providing for everyone.

For our family, staying with this couple felt like several weeks in a vacation condo with them! They have a beautiful, large, restful home. Our kids loved their dog, their neighborhood, their jokes and their food. They both love to cook, so every day we'd make meal plans early enough for someone to pick up groceries, and then we'd all help chop, prep, bake and/or grill. The husband is a massage therapist, so we took advantage of his conveniently located office (in the next room over from our bedroom), and the wife is a psychologist, which made our mealtime conversations extra-stimulating. The two husbands began most days with morning prayer together, and the wife and I have one of those friendships where we never, ever, run out of things to talk about, so it was fabulous for us both to have so much free time at the same time. Our time there was such a gift, and the timing was a strong confirmation that we had done the right thing to sell our old house when we did.

Another huge stressor this summer has been a situation at church. It has paralleled our move in some ways--emotionally draining, filled with grief, and faith-stretching. It's been the same kind of rocky, uneven, obstacle-ridden path, but God has been continually sending us the encouragements to hang in there. People we've been praying for have started coming to church, have started asking the right questions about their relationship with God, are being transformed in huge ways! Visitors have come--and come back! There has been a new freedom in our worship and in individual expression and gifting. This Sunday, one of our disabled youths is giving the sermon!, in partnership with an elder. There have been so many encouraging things alongside the challenges.

So I am well. Exhausted, but well. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 comes to mind:  "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed."

The previous verse also applies:  "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

It is the Lord who is sustaining me, empowering me, working through me and encouraging me!

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15. Flowering Fan


A flowering vine is always an fun subject. I think about balance and rhythm in constructing the drawing. I started with a random line on the page and just let the drawing happen.

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16. Remove Your Shoes Home Sign - The Seacats: Rainy

Take Shoes Off Sign
Remove Your Shoes Door Sign 

New The Seacats: Rainy Remove Your Shoes signs! Bright and cheerful and perfect for your front door! You can purchase them here.


As a reminder, you can always view our sales and DAILY DEAL and reach our site through these other websites as well:

WashYourHandsSigns.comPremieSigns.comCHDSigns.com and CarSeatSigns.com!

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17. Pick of the Week for JOURNEY and This Week’s Topic



Happy Friday!

We’re excited to announce this week’s topic, but first please enjoy the illustration above by Daniel Guidera, our Pick of the Week for last week’s topic of ‘JOURNEY’. You can also see a gallery of all the other inspiring entries here.

And of course, you can now participate in this week’s topic:


Here’s how:

Step 1: Illustrate your interpretation of the current week’s topic (always viewable on the homepage).

Step 2: Post your image onto your blog / flickr / facebook, etc.

Step 3: Come back to Illustration Friday and submit your illustration (see big “Submit your illustration” button on the homepage).

Step 4: Your illustration will then be added to the participant gallery where it will be viewable along with everyone else’s from the IF community!

Also be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and subscribe to our weekly email newsletter to keep up with our exciting community updates!


The post Pick of the Week for JOURNEY and This Week’s Topic appeared first on Illustration Friday.

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18. Lonely robot in window

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19. Tod and Copper for Sketch Dailies

The ice bucket challenge for ALS was easy for Tod and Copper... fur helps.

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20. Calvin, Look Out!

Calvin, Look Out!
Author: Jennifer Berne
Illustrator: Keigh Bendis
Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books
Genre: Children
ISBN: 978-1-4549-0910-1
Pages: 32
Price: $14.95

Author’s website
Buy it at Amazon

Calvin the starling is having trouble reading, and when he trips over a chair in the library, he asks Mrs. Readalot what’s going on. She suggests he might need glasses. A quick visit to the eye doctor confirms her diagnosis, and Calvin has a new pair of spectacles.

Calvin is surprised that the other starlings make fun of him for wearing them. He brushes off their comments and heads into the woods, now able to see all the interesting things he’s been missing. After finding himself in unexpected trouble, Calvin comes up with a brilliant solution that has all his friends and family wishing they had a pair of glasses just like his!

Calvin, Look Out! features Calvin the bookworm birdie who first appeared in Calvin Can’t Fly. This adorable starling will have kids wishing they all had such nifty spectacles – or at least a pair of cool sunglasses.

Reviewer: Alice Berger

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21. Today is the Day

Okay Princesses, today is "the" day. Get out your markers, if you haven't already, and Get to writing that love on your arms!

I know it might seem awkward to some, but it is a statement of love and encouragement...and this girl is in.

I just have to say, after writing that last post, I have not only had the privilege of being involved (tonight) in a box event to raise money for homeless at the church where I am youth pastor, but the other day I got to speak to a wonderful group of early college students.

We talked about not lying down and taking the crap the world has to offer anymore. About standing up and fighting back (in the biblical sense). About being who God intended us to be, fighters, evangelists, witnesses, missionaries in many fields (you don't always have to leave America by the way, every town needs Jesus).

Man, I just gotta say I loved every stinking second of it. I was so nervous, as I haven't done public speaking in a while, but wow. What a wonderful bunch of Christian youth. Just like the ones in our youth group.

I will try and post some pics of tonight's events online soon.

Everyone have a great day in the Lord Jesus Christ...and Behave for crying out loud.


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22. Mystery Photo Competition

First woman to identify that its me under the hood gets a date....in Bristol of course.

No clues.

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23. YALSAblog Tweets of the Week: August 22, 2014

A short list of tweets from the past week of interest to teens and the library staff that work with them.

Do you have a favorite Tweet from the past week? If so add it in the comments for this post. Or, if you read a Twitter post between August 22 and August 28 that you think is a must for the next Tweets of the Week send a direct or @ message to lbraun2000 on Twitter.

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24. New

A new work in progress....more to come.

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25. Maine Mountains

Sorry for the slow updates. It's been busy here at the moment with work and I'm also trying my darndest to soak up every last bit of Summer. Here's a pattern I drew a few weeks back, inspired by childhood's spent camping up in Northern Maine. I miss listening to loon cries and campfires more than you can possibly imagine.

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