You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Saturday, December 28, 2013

What if the British had won
the American Revolutionary War?

You have until noon next Friday, January 3 to answer the question "What if the British had won the American Revolutionary War?"
Your answer can be serious, clever, or funny. The top three best answers each will win a copy of my novel, The Chamomile, a Revolutionary War romantic suspense set in Charleston, SC, during the two years the British occupied the city.

I’ll start you off.

For instance, here’s a serious answer – there wouldn’t have been a Civil War because the British abolished the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807 and the practice of slavery in 1833.

Funny answers – the Indianapolis 500 would be the Indianapolis 805 (500 miles = 805 kilometers) or, we wouldn't be driving on "the wrong side of the road."

A clever answer – My novel, The Chamomile, might have been written from the perspective of a Loyalist woman who spies for the British, not a woman who spies for the Patriots, and it certainly would have ended differently.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

History of Nativity Scenes

Nativity scene on my home mantel.
        St. Francis of Assisi created the first nativity scene in 1223 in Greccio, Italy. A live nativity scene staged in a cave, it had humans and animals cast in the Biblical roles and was an effort on his part to emphasize the worship of Christ rather than upon gift giving. Some say he created the manger scene as an alternative for pilgrims wanting to go to Bethlehem, which was then occupied by the Turks.
        Nativity scenes, or crèches (the French word for manger), became so popular that within a hundred years almost every church in Italy had one, though eventually statues replaced the human and animal participants.         
Nativity scene by St. Francis at Greccio,
painting by Giotto

        During early colonial times in New England, the Puritans didn’t approve of celebrating Christmas and outlawed it in Boston from 1659 to 1681. (Presbyterians weren't keen on celebrating Christmas either, as it was considered an Anglican tradition.)
        During that time, an English tradition of baking a mince pie in the shape of a manger to hold the Christ child was also banned by specific legislation. The outlaw pies were referred to as “Idolaterie in crust.” The ban was revoked by Governor Edmund Andros.
        Also in America, the tradition of decorative Christmas villages was rooted in the holiday traditions of the Pennsylvania Dutch. The construction of a nativity scene, also called a putz, were made at the base of a tree. These scenes, sometimes inspired by the story of Noah’s Ark, could include several hundred carved animals on their way to the ark.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Finding Beth by author Linnette R. Mullin

LINNETTE R. MULLIN is an author of life-changing romance. She has been married to her sweetheart – Johnathan, for more than twenty-one years. They've been blessed with four amazing sons: Christopher, Andrew, Matthew, and Garrison. Some of her writing credits include Charles Stanley's “In Touch” magazine, “101 Facets of Faith” devotional book, Guidepost's “Extraordinary Answers to Prayer”, and “Public Health Alert” - a nationally distributed newspaper for the chronically ill. She is the founder and coordinator of Palmetto Christian Writer's Network in Lexington, SC; she runs the “We Are Writers” group on Facebook; and she is an advocate for sufferers of Lyme's Disease. Her favorite things in life are her family, her church, reading and writing, and her Savior most of all.
Is Finding Beth your first novel or have there been others?
Finding Beth is not my first novel. My first woven works to find its way to the page started with what was familiar to me. I renamed my hometown and created a story of struggling families and individuals who find their way home – not in spite of their circumstances, but because of them. Coming Home is safely tucked away until I have the time and fortitude to pull it out and rewrite it.

What is Finding Beth about?
A run-away-bride-to-be and a southern-boy-next-door. Trapped by the reality of past choices... lost in confusion and pain, Beth Gallagher must fight her way back to God. Just when she makes a new friend in Adam Blythe and finds peace with God, tragedy strikes. Beth faces new demons that steal her new-found peace and threaten to steal her future. Could she possibly find true love with Adam Blythe? Or will this crisis tear them apart? Will she ever find her way home amidst the emotional mine-field? Read Finding Beth to find out!
What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
The hardest thing in regards to the process or the story itself? If you mean the writing process, I would have to say it was learning to have a tough skin and actually learn to enjoy the editing and rewriting process – learning what it means to write well. If you’re referring to the story itself, I would have to say the hardest thing has been allowing myself to delve deep into my characters’ POVs. Delving deep means allowing myself to be sucked in emotionally, to feel what my characters feel. It means opening up and pouring my raw, bleeding heart onto the page - being vulnerable on the page. I attended a Ted Dekker writer’s symposium two years ago in which he encouraged us to be vulnerable, to bleed on the page. When I told him I struggle with letting go, that when the pain comes I automatically pull back, he looked me in the eye with compassion and told me I could do it. He said to just go for it. Don’t hold back. Force myself to dive in deep and allow the words to flow through the pain. If I need to cry, then cry, but don’t hold back.
What led to writing Finding Beth?
In November 2007, I attended the annual HACWN writer’s conference in Kansas City, MO and my first classes on blogging. My husband was going through a lay-off and I had to start working outside the home for the first time ever in our marriage. I didn’t want to lose everything I’d learned at the conference, and I’d been encouraged to write, write, write in order to continue honing my skills. I’d also been convinced that blogs were the latest and greatest thing, and every writer should have one. So I started “An Odyssey in Prose” in January 2008 and posted a short chapter once or twice a month. The purpose was to keep myself accountable to readers who wanted to know what happened next. It would force me to post consistently and learn to self-edit all at the same time. It was an experiment intended to be a short story. I didn’t worry overly much with the dream weaving. To keep me going, I asked “what if” questions as I wrote. After a year or so, I realized that Beth’s story wasn’t a short, but a full-fledged novel. And my readers let me know they expected me to finish the book as well as write the story of Beth’s best friend, Tiffany.
How did you become interested in writing?
Most writers will tell you they began writing at a very young age. I did not. At least not on paper. My friend, Kelsey Keating, calls me a Dreamweaver. Characters, scenes, plots, locations… they take shape in my imagination – my daydreams. Scenes play in my head like movies with sound and color and movement and emotion. In fact, one particular scene in my novel lived in my imagination for years before it found its home with Beth. Following the birth of my third son in 1997, I became confined to my bed with a chronic illness. It was then I started putting stories on paper, allowing the intangible to become tangible. Writing kept me sane.
How do you get into creative mode? How do you begin the writing process?
Let me answer those one at a time. First, creative mode: For me, it varies depending on what’s going on in my busy mom schedule, as well as in my spiritual life. If I’m running on empty, I have to fill up. Attending my church every Sunday and many Wednesdays gives me the shot in the arm I need. I’m always reminded that my life is to be Gospel centered, that my relationship with Jesus is a personal one and I need to daily, moment by moment, work on that relationship. This also helps my creative process, along with reading, dream weaving, decluttering my house, fellowshipping with other writers, and listening to music. A lot of writers listen to music while they write. I’m a musician, so I can’t do that. It distracts me and becomes my focus. Other things that help fill me or keep me from stagnating are critique sessions, writer’s workshops, and conferences. Second, the writing process: Dream weaving usually comes first. Sometimes for a writing exercise I'll use a word prompt. That's how my short story “Green Beans and Puppy Love” came about. Other than that, I sit at the computer, open my document, shut out all noise and activity around me, and type. I just do it. There’s no better way to get it done.
You mentioned Tiffany’s story earlier. Are you working on her book next?
Yes. Loving Tiffany is another heart rending, heart bleeding, heart mending story. Probably more so than Beth’s. It clenches my gut and puts me on my knees. Only God’s grace will get me through to the end, but I will get to the end.
When will these books release?
Finding Beth is scheduled to release December 20th. Loving Tiffany is not yet under contract, but I’m hoping for a release one year from Beth’s release.
Where will we be able to find your books?
CrossRiver Media website, Amazon, and we're working toward getting it into Books-A-Million for my launch. Eventually, you will be able to find my books where ever books are sold. There will be a print version and an e-version.
What are some of the most helpful tips you’ve received along the path to publication?
That’s a loaded question! There are so many, but here are the ones that have stuck with me and carried me through.
  • Write, write, write.
  • Develop a tough skin.
  • Be active - show, don’t tell.
  • Jump in late, get out early.
  • Avoid purple prose.
  • Write so your reader is reaching for more rather than being pulled along.
  • Learn to hack my baby up with edits and self-edits. It’ll only make it better.
  • If you don’t like it and don’t feel it, neither will your reader.
  • Scream on the page so your reader can hear you whisper.
When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing?
What do I enjoy doing or what do I do? LOL We’ll go with what I enjoy doing. I love to read and fellowship with fellow writers. I love to play piano. I dream of the day I’ll have time to scrapbook again. I also love spending time with my hubby and mothering my four boys. They're my heart.
Share one thing you want us to know about you.
I love hearing from and getting to know my readers. As a bonus - I also love sweet drinks more than chocolate. What’s your favorite treat? ONE of my favorite treats is a spot of British Breakfast tea and shortbread cookies.
How to get in touch with Linnette: