Category Archives: Uncategorized

IMPERFECT BONDS – A 2016 Grace Awards Winner!

Grace Awards 2016 Winners ~ in Faith Based Fiction

Category: Action-Adventure/Western/Historic Epic Fiction: exploits, quest, expansive 

Grace Awards – All 2016 Category Winners

 

IMPERFECT BONDS by Elizabeth Noyes
(Write Integrity Press)

Judges’ Review:

This novel  struck us as having well-formed, even complicated characters. They could be moody, funny, full of snap and wit, and sometimes just confused, like most people. The set up was immediate, and the sense of danger quickly drew us into the story. There were plenty of twists that kept us entertained and easily turning the pages. Likewise, good rising and falling action kept the plot moving forward, and the romance was smoldering without actually going anywhere beyond a kiss. The book was written from a clean and Christian world view without becoming preachy, and we liked that the main characters were on both spiritual and personal journeys. The theme of fighting human trafficking and the hunt for the bad guys made for an engaging, modern day western read.

Available on Amazon.com

The Ups and Downs of a Writer’s Life

When one emoji just doesn’t cut it!

I wanted to write a Facebook post to share my news, but FB limits you to just one of their “feeling” emojis, I needed a whole mess of smiley/frowny faces to convey  my emotions today, so I made my own:

Why all these contradictory feelings? Because Book 4 of The Imperfect Series – IMPERFECT LIES –  has been sent to the publisher! Because I’m relieved, thrilled, excited, worried, and depressed. Because instead of basking in the present, I’m worrying about what’s next.

Now, begins what I call the Cycle of Endless Emotional Extremes.

Relief is the first emotion an author feels after writing, “The End.”  It floods in and overwhelms. There’s nothing like having a weight lifted from your shoulders … unless it’s the feeling of accomplishment. Satisfaction is a rich pleasure. None of it lasts, though. It’s only a respite. There’s always the dreaded, what’s next? So human.

Mental fatigue is a very real thing. It’s debilitating and draining, every bit as much as physical fatigue. Sometimes authors are their own worst enemies with how we push ourselves. Remember that old saying, “I’m so tired I can’t think straight?” It’s true.

Euphoria waits for your brain to recover, and it’s a glorious feeling.  You ride the wave, let it take you all the way to the crest – happiness, joy, feeling so blessed and grateful. And then you crash.

Worry arrives. Guilt. “Did I miss a typo? Leave something out? Is it good enough? Did I do my best?” And the worst, “What if my readers don’t like it?”

Yikes! Self esteem takes a nose dive. Guilt. Inadequacy. Second guessing. Of them all, I hate  self doubt the most. Only authors and those closest to them understand the impact of this cycle.

The vast majority of books written are not autobiographies, but I’m here to testify that every writer invests a huge chunk of their inner self in the pages they pen. We put ourselves out there; expose our beliefs, hopes, thoughts, fears, likes, dislikes, and vulnerabilities. We bare our souls to perfect strangers. Normal people don’t do that when they walk in the world.

My point is, be gentle with us.  Be kind. Even if you “don’t like my book.” <smiling here>

Imperfect Lies made me delve deeper inside myself than I wanted. It made me think about things that are uncomfortable, about what I *hoped* I would do in a difficult situation vs. what I probably would do. How can anyone know with any degree of certainty what they would or wouldn’t do in a terrible, unforeseen, heretofore unknown situation?

Imperfect Lies made me think about a current school of thought that promotes role-play in response to an active shooter scenario – a practiced “what to do” response in the event an armed terrorist decided to shoot up the theater you’re in. The idea being that if your mind and body already know what to do before the incident, your decision-making process won’t get in the way when an instant response may mean the difference between life, injury, or even death. In other words, decisions take time –  time you may not have.

I can’t help but wonder, if we dwelled more on ALL of life’s ‘what would I do‘ scenarios and made our decisions beforehand, would we make better choices when confronted with those difficult and unexpected situations?

The title of this series is Imperfect for a reason. I wanted to provide an entertaining read with characters who reflect the way real people act and think and talk, who face real situations that challenge preconceived ideas of right and wrong; who look at the truth of who they are. And, of course, I want you to enjoy this journey that has brought me so many laughs and smiles and tears and heartache!

 

Happy reading!

 

 

Seasons

A great deal of prose has been written about the four seasons, but I recently experienced my own epiphany. It came to me while touring the north Georgia mountains by bus, a day trip I took with the Senior Adults of our church on the last day of October. The sole purpose—to revel in the changing colors of the glorious fall foliage. (Oh, and buy apples.)

I’ll admit my expectations weren’t high given the long drought this year and the unseasonably warm temperatures. It’s not Vermont or Maine, after all. Despite my reservations, I set out with every intention of enjoying our time together.

The day dawned with a crispness that encouraged a light jacket, and a brightness that made me squint behind dark sunglasses. A few puffy, white clouds paraded across a sky of Robin’s Egg blue. And then we reached the foothills.

Stunning! Magnificent! Spectacular! Words are not sufficient to describe the beauty set before us, and this only a tiny sample of God’s artistic genius. We traveled along winding roads and hairpin turns, up inclines that made the bus’s engine growl, and slow descents into pastoral valleys where each turn brought new marvels. The colors boggled my imagination. Hunter Green, Fiery Orange, Blazing Red, and all those delicate, in-between shades that beg for exotic names like crimson, ocher, cerise, chartreuse, terra cotta, burnt sienna, primrose, vermillion. And when the sun set them ablaze like a hint of God’s Shekinah glory.

“Ooh” and “Ahh” became the watchwords of the day. At one point, I feared for the safety of my fellow passengers as everyone clambered from side-to-side, eager to snap yet another remarkable picture, all while the bus driver wound his way through the twisty curves.
Somewhere in the middle of all this grandeur, a profound thought took root in my mind. Autumn is the season when life wanes and death draws near … and here we sat celebrating the life and death of a dying thing.

Mankind is also a dying thing, but instead of joy we experience sadness and loss when a loved one leaves this world ahead of us. Grief, you see, is for the living.

Christians mourn the same as everyone, but with one difference: We rejoice over a fellow believer’s homegoing. We celebrate their life because of the promise and hope of our faith. For Christian’s, winter is not the end but a new beginning, a new spring, a new life. Eternity realized.

The Christmas holiday falls at the end of the year, in the dead of winter, but we remember it for God’s gift to us. He sent His only Son as a baby, a boy child who would save a dark world. Jesus is the reason for our hope. He is the promise of Christmas.

RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY. COME AGAIN SOME OTHER DAY

Why do we always complain about the weather?

[Present Day: Georgia. November 2015]   Rain. Gray skies. Cold. Wet yards. Oil-slicked roads. Household pets refuse to go outside. People stay in. Retail sales fall. Church attendance falls. Charitable giving falls.

[Rewind: Georgia. October 2007]   No rain. No clouds in sight. So hot. Rivers and reservoirs drop to record lows. Lakes close. Lawns die. Water rationing/conservation measures are implemented. Retail sales fall. Church attendance falls. Charitable giving falls.

In both of these real scenarios, life goes on in this country. Americans continue to work, to eat, to live. Are there hardships? Undoubtedly, but that’s nothing new. There are always hardships in life. I’m sure some have it worse than others, but we survive and go on. And eventually we find something else to complain about.

I’m reminded of a Bible story when God rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. There, their lives were a misery, each day filled with hard labor and physical abuse. They belonged to slave masters who viewed them as assets, work animals, and who held a slave’s very life in their hands. The Israelites cried out in misery for 430 years as each generation sank deeper into despair.

And GOD answered their prayers. He raised up a leader to free them from oppression and guide them into a new life without bondage. He gave them value again, love, and hope. Imagine if you were there, one of the Israelites and a firsthand Water to bloodwitness to all the miracles as Moses tried to convince Pharaoh to “Let my people go.”

Water turned to blood. Swarms of frogs and locusts. Fish dying. Biting insects. Boils and diseases. Livestock dying. Fiery hail storms. Darkness blinding the sun. Any of these events alone wouldn’t astound, but to occur one right after another? And then to see the firstborn Egyptian children die as predicted? Only those, while you and your people remained safe?

Locusts - CopyI try to imagine what my reaction would have been. Astonished at first. Amazed. Wary as the devastation increased. Apprehensive. Shocked. Fearful. Terrified even. And hopeful. Yeah, I want to be on Moses’s side.

But the wonders didn’t stop after Pharaoh freed the Israelites. Now they had to follow by faith. We don’t know the actual numbers of the Jewish exodus, but it’s estimated to be at least three million people who departed from Egypt on foot, herding animals, pulling wagons, and carrying what they could.

Talk about blind faith! To follow a man who’d been born a Jew but raised as an Egyptian, who murdered one of the slave drivers forty years before, who subsequently ran away and hid in the desert. That took faith to leave your home and every familiar thing you know to follow a stranger through the desert. And then to see – to actually SEE a raging Red Sea parting - Copyriver part for them  – and close behind them. To watch the water flood over the Egyptian army giving chase and then watch the soldiers drown. Yeah, Jehovah’s got this. It’s not difficult to have faith when you experience miracles up close and personal. I can almost see Moses smirk. “My GOD is bigger than all your little gods combined.”

Three days later, after all the hoopla calmed down, the Israelites forgot about the miracles.

“The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Exodus 16 (NIV)

“I’m tired of walking.”  “I’m hungry.”  “We’re lost.”  “Where are we going?” “We’re gonna starve. It would be better if we’d stayed in Egypt. At least there we wouldn’t die hungry.”

So GOD provided manna from heaven to sustain them.

“There’s no water.”

So GOD provided a rock and told Moses to strike it, and water poured forth.

“But we want meat.”

So GOD provided quail.

“We’re tired of quail.”

Really guys? God freed you from slavery, provided everything you needed, performed miracle after miracle  … but it wasn’t enough.

Instead of rejoicing in their newfound freedom, instead of being thankful for the wondrous things Jehovah had done on their behalf, instead of looking forward with hope and excitement to what this same God might have in store for them – they complained.

Now here we are in America, almost four thousand years later, still complaining. Other nations starve while we have the largest garbage concession in the Starving childrenworld. People in third-world countries labor in the fields from daylight to dark just to survive while Americans pay to go exercise in a gym. They fall sick because they don’t have enough to eat while most of our illnesses stem from overeating . Villages exist with no clean water, yet we spent more money than they’ll see in a lifetime for Starbucks coffee. They hoard candles to see by while we spend fortunes on the latest electronic gizmos.

And we complain about the rain.

Ponder these Christian truths:

God created you.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14

God has a plan for you.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 19:11

Stop complaining.
“Do everything without grumbling or arguing.” Phillipians 2:14

Believers have the promise of eternity with God.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Make it a point to rejoice.
“For our heart rejoices in Him, Because we trust in His holy name.” Psalm 33:21

Give thanks..
“For everything created by GOD is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.” 1 Timothy 4:4

I leave you with one of the Apostle Paul’s blessings. “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Corinthians 1:3

E-books make great gifts!

The holidays are upon us again. There are shopping lists to make and gifts to buy.

One of the drawbacks of electronic reading devices is that it’s not easy and sometimes not even possible to loan an e-book to a friend. The flip side of that restriction is that e-books are significantly less expensive than hardback and paperback books. You can buy two, three, maybe even four e-books for what you pay for a single physical book — unless the e-book author is James Patterson, George R.R. Martin, or Karen Kingsbury!

Send an e-book as a gift!

How?  First, go to Amazon.com. If you don’t already have an Amazon account, set one up. It’s easy.

Next, search for the book you want to give to a friend and click on the title to reach that book’s shopping page. On the right side of the screen are the payment options. Scroll down and click on the Gift as a Gift icon.

Amazon Gift

This will take you to a new screen where you’ll be prompted to log in if you haven’t already done so, or it will bring up the fields where you provide your recipient’s information.Amazon Gift 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for the fun part!

Amazon offers the option of sending the e-book from Amazon directly to the recipient — all you have to provide is their email address and the date you want it delivered — OR you can have them send the book to you to forward on at your convenience. Oh, and there’s also a personalized message box!

Easy-peasy, so keep your favorite authors in mind when you start your Christmas shopping list!

P.S. Remember to leave a review for your favorite books. Authors love reviews!

Eldercare: Coming Full Circle

How will you face the demands of aging parents?

Today, my heart is burdened over the storm several dear friends are going through. Their aged parents have reached a crisis point. Decisions are necessary. Painful decisions.

In Old Testament days, a man’s life spanned hundreds of years. But God grew weary of the wickedness introduced through Adam in the Garden of Eden.

Life spans of the Bible patriarchs

Life spans grew shorter. And shorter still. The centuries rolled by and sin’s infection spread. Diseases took root. Wars proliferated. And man’s time on earth dropped to well below the century mark.

120 years

Today, with the marvels of science, we strive to regain our former longevity. At the turn of the twentieth century, a man’s life expectancy in the United States was 46.3 years (from Berkeley University’s Demographics survey). In 1998, the average age man lived to 73.8 years.

Today, In 2015, we have reached a new high of 76.4 years.

Man's lifespan - 70-80 years

Just as every dark cloud has a silver lining, so too does every bright spot have a downside. We’ve extended our quantity of life, but with little consideration for its quality. You see, while we can’t know when our last day will be, we do know that as the years pass, our demise draws closer. For the Christian, this is a welcome event. For others, not so much. Either way, it brings a plethora of health issues as our earthly bodies decline.

Mist

Unfortunately, our society has not prepared us for the problems of advanced age and its inherent problems. Baby Boomers especially are not prepared for the unique difficulties that come with Golden Agers. To put it bluntly, we are simply not equipped—physically, financially, mentally, or emotionally.

Having gone through this experience with my own mother I can offer a few hard facts I learned along the way:

  1. With age, our bodies begin to fail. This happens sooner for some, later for others. It is a natural process and while you might slow the inevitable down with medical intervention, death will eventually come.
  2. Financial, physical, and emotional burdens are part of increasing age, for both the senior and the caregiver-child. Start early in life planning for your own financial needs that will come in your later years. Dependence on the government is a weak straw. Dependence on your children is a burden.
  3. Just as an automobile wears out over time, so too does the human body. I once had a 15-year old Miata that started spluttering as I drove on the highway. I prayed it along, all the way to the repair shop where they diagnosed a worn out, eroded electrical system. They replaced the rusted wires and it was good as new. Too bad we can’t do the same with the human brain. You see, with advanced years comes faulty wiring. Eyesight fails. Hearing fails. Memory fails. Sometimes, things just get skewed in our brain’s wiring. It happens. Anger doesn’t help. Impatience exacerbates everyone’s anxiety. Patience and understanding are imperative. Revere what you can and forgive what you can’t. Then move forward.
  4. With faulty wiring, you often see mood swings or personality changes. One day you wake up and realize the man or woman accusing you of wrongdoing, who flies into uncalled for rages–they aren’t the same person who raised you. It’s not your fault, but it’s not theirs either. Patience, understanding, forgiveness (for you and them), and more patience.
  5. When their decision-making becomes compromised (and it will), you have to be prepared to take action. Yes, I advocate letting the elderly live an independent life, but only so long as they are mentally and physically capable. But don’t let them become a risk to themselves or to others. Be watchful of their legal, financial, medical, and social well-being.
  6. At some point, your aging loved one may become unable to care for themselves. Will you bring them into your home or place them in a professional nursing facility? This is a tough decision that demands much prayerful thought.
  7. Eldercare comes at a price, be it the cost of professional care or a professional care facility, or the emotional impact if you decide to take on the responsibility yourself. Before you decide, weigh carefully your ability to provide the time and quality of care your aging loved one requires. Weigh also the toll such a commitment will take on you and your family.
  8. Finally, be prepared for the burden of guilt. You will know in your mind that your decisions are meant for your loved one’s good, but your heart will still question your motives. You will weep buckets of tears. Prepare yourself ahead of time by making what decisions you can while emotions aren’t involved.

Life passes on. We grieve when loved ones leave us, but as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 3:11 — He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot know what God has done from the beginning to the end.

For those of us who have hope in Jesus Christ, know that one day …

No more sorrow