Like most other writers, I rely on the keyboard to tell me what I am supposed to type. If it is not there, I don’t use it. Out of sight, out of mind, right? But there are instances where the “rules” of punctuation are not clear and it behooves us, as writers, to do a little digging in order to better understand those rules before we release out work.
I realize that most readers would not know the difference in uses between
and en dash and an em dash. And most readers would not be able to distinguish the difference between and en dash and a hyphen. And many readers would never know the rules about when to use each of them in the course of writing. However, we as writers, are a little more discerning. We certainly want to make sure that our book “baby” is perfect before sending it out into the big, bad world.
Connects two things that are related. Example: toll-free call
It is a little wider than the hyphen and is primarily used to indicate a range. Example: Psalms 119:1–3, 1921–1935, Pages 14–17.
There are several uses for the em dash and they are the width of the capital M.
They are used to set off a series of items within a sentence that is already using a comma.
Ex.: My children—Tom, James and Claire—all get along, most of the time.
They are used to express a break in thought.
Ex.: I want—I need—to take a vacation to relax.
They are used to introduce a summarizing thought.
Ex.: To get my book written—that was my objective.
They are used to give emphasis to elements within a sentence.
Ex.: Key ingredients—baking soda, vanilla, and salt—were left out of the recipe, causing it to be a flop.
They are used to fill in for missing letters.
Ex.: The famous Mr. K—y was not present for the gala.
They are even used to indicate a missing word.
Ex.: Dear Diary, I ran into — at the grocery store today and I was afraid he would recognize me so I ran to the bathroom.
So, some of you might be wondering, “That is all well and good, but how do I get them ‘written?'” Well, there are some ways to do it in Word, but I have found that the easiest way, for me, is to use the Alt key.
En dash: Alt + 0150
Em dash: Alt + 0151
You must use the keypad and not the numbers above the letters.
I hope this basic tutorial has helped just a little. I have learned so much in my short time taking the class and I intend to share as much as I can with you in the coming weeks and months.
Stay tuned for my next installment where I plan on discussing another editing tip/trick.
A few days ago I posted a blog about monthlies – setting up a calendar. Today I want to get a little more specific and hone in on the week.
As in previous examples of the monthly calendar, there are several ways of laying out a weekly spread. There are some who, again, are very minimalistic, and others who prefer to dress it up in a fancy dress and shoes before they are done. Some like to include tasks and goals, and others like to include weather forecasts and trackers. As I have stated before, you will learn what is important to you and it might take a few tries before you are able to fall in to a routine.
Here are a few examples I have found on Pinterest:
And here is one final one – mine. Please remember that I have a large notebook so I can fit so much more on my layout that fits in the smaller ones.
As you can see, I have the days of the week and a small water bottle so I can track how much water I should be drinking each day. I have TONS of space to make notes, write Bible verses, collect quotes, etc. I found that if I put the weather forecast on the next day, it would inevitably be wrong, so I scrapped it. I didn’t really care about that one aspect anyway. Weather can be so unpredictable.
Also, just a quick note – that was last week’s spread. I have changed it already and I will probably tweak it again the week after. I will post my new spread later in the week.
So, there you have it.
What did you think of these spreads. Did you find something that inspired you?
Post your pictures to share with me in the comments below. I would LOVE to see your progression!
Today I would like to take just a few minutes to address another component in your Bullet Journal – the monthly calendar. In the Bullet Journal community, these are called monthlies.
So, again, as with everything that I have stated before, the calendar is done to what works for you. It might take a few different tries, but you will eventually find your niche.
So here are a few examples that I pulled off of Pinterest. You can see that there are different styles and degrees of complexity. There are grid calendars as well as list ones. It will depend on your preference, which one you use.
Some are basic and others will include a goals list or a task lists. Some have also included a “tracker.” More on that later.
You can see that some have used lots of color, yet others have decided to keep it simple. The goal of the bullet journal is to make your life simple, not complicate it.
Maybe you like to have a larger grid-style and want to use the entire two-page spread for that. Then you can use the next pages for your tasks and goals.
So, what do you think? It is your turn now. Show me what you are working on! Oh, and don’t forget to continue to number your pages and include this in your index.
And if you don’t mind, if you are enjoying this blog, please let me know. I would like to know if you would like to continue learning about bullet journaling.
Jillian Matthews is a widowed mom and owner of a dance studio in a small farming community. When her husband died nine years ago in the desert of the Middle East, a piece of her died as well and she lost all joy in the day to day blessings. Tiny dancers and her daughter, Katie, are her main focus until an old flame, Michael Emerson, waltzes back into her life, awakening things she thought dead and gone.
Dr. Michael Emerson told himself he was happy with his bachelorhood after a messy divorce. He thought his life as an ER doctor and yearly missions work left no room for a wife and family. When tragedy strikes and he is left with an unforeseen situation, he must evaluate his life and make some major changes.
Michael is a true gentleman and his naivete when dealing with children and women is sweet. The fact that his feelings toward Jill had remained throughout the years was romantic. And the fact that neither one of them dwelt on their past relationship but only used it as a springboard to renew their friendship was inspirational. Jill was a complex character, and seeing how her faith was restored through dance was beautiful. Anyone who has a heart for creativity in any form could understand the need for expression in worship.
One of the things that I particularly liked about the story was the setting. I was drawn to the area in the north and that there were positive as well as negative aspects of the scenery and climate. The descriptions the author gave made it seem as if one was right there and felt the cold during the winter and the snow on the face.
Melissa Wardwell does a terrific job in drawing the reader in immediately and getting them emotionally invested in each character. I LOVE the way the chapters leave you hanging and you just have to read the next one.
I thoroughly loved this story and I found myself drawn in and totally immersed in the covers. I look forward to reading more by this very talented author.
About the Author
I am an independently published author of Christian romance.
I wear many hats from one day to the next. I am a devoted wife, basketball and dance mother, teacher, taxi service, friend, caregiver, daughter, sister, and now, published author. Seeing all that is enough to make my head spin. But more importantly, I am the Daughter of the Most High King.
I was raised in and still reside in a little farm town in Mid- Michigan called Corunna. It’s quiet and simple, just the way I like it. If I can’t live out in the country among the corn fields and trees then living in this small town works for me. My husband and I have been together since high school and have 3 children, all of whom we homeschool. It has been quite the journey, but I couldn’t ask for a better life.
I decided to give writing a try because I needed something to occupy my down time, but after reading my first draft of my first book, What God Brings Together, I then understood that God had a much bigger plan. God does not give His children a desire just so that it can go to waste. I never anticipated the journey God would put me on through writing, but I am excited to see what He has in mind for the future.
I have always felt a call to reach out to women and mothers, to encourage them in their lives. So naturally, all my stories revolve around women who are mothers: single mothers, widowed mothers, young mothers, married mothers, and even women who have a mother’s heart but no children of her own.
My greatest hope is that each story touches your heart, gives you hope, or just gives you a moment away from the chaos of life. Lord, knows we have earned it.
Guest Post from Melissa Wardwell
When I wrote the first book in this series, “What God Brings Together”, it wasn’t supposed to become a series. It has seemed to have a mind of its own and is spiraling into other books.
You met Dr. Michael Emerson in the first book as the third wheel to Emma and Ryan’s crazy triangle. As soon as I finished it and read through it one last time, Mike’s character begged to have his own story. I felt bad giving such a nice guy a sad ending. So an idea formed for a story focused on him but it took me a while to decide on who his other half would be. I was sitting in front of the dance studio two of my kids attend, and it hit me. A Dance teacher and studio owner. From there the story went out of control- in a good way. The dance studio is the actual studio my kids dance at, and much of the descriptions of the location are the same as the space. The town is even the real town this studio is in. It is such a quiet place and I love it.
I live in the area this series takes place. The county has a funny name as it is a Native American name – Shiawassee. It is nothing but small towns and farm land. New Lothrop, the main location for this story, has a population of approx. 600. I spend many hours there because of dance and I have grown to love the quiet little farm town.
I like to bring light to actual business in some of my work, so when I chose to write in Infinity Dance Company I had to include the location. There is also a neat little coffee shop that I talk about in this book that is also an actual coffee shop.
I am all about promoting local business, so if I can plug a cool business in my books, I will.
You will see a bit more of another character from the first book, Tiffany, and you’ll get some insight into her story as well but you won’t get the full picture until the release of “I Know the Plans” which is set to come out no later than next spring – hopefully. I also introduce a new character in “Dance and Be Glad” whose story is heartbreaking but you won’t know much more until book four “Redeemed Through Grace” comes out in 2018.
“Dance and Be Glad” is about finding joy in the middle of uncertainty and the scary moments in life. We can let the sudden changes bring us down or we can look at them as an opportunity to learn something new. I have witnessed a lot of tragedy and sudden losses in my personal life to learn that God still has me in His hands even when I feel like my world is crumbling. My prayer is that each reader can have a similar revelation.
This past week I started an online class in editing. My desire and call is to become a freelance editor, but the fact that I do not have the slightest bit of education in this area is more than a little daunting. So, when the Lord showed me this class, I knew I needed to take it in order to gain the knowledge I needed in order to be prepared for this new venture.
I am a bit philosophical and I overthink so many things in my life. Recently I have been re-examining the choices I have made up until this point. How is the Lord using each choice, each circumstance, each relationship, to bring me to this very moment in time? How has He opened my eyes to this particular opportunity and said “no” to the others that I was so sure He had called me to? These things cause me to scratch my head.
Then I began to think of the whole idea of editing. An editor takes something created by another person or himself/herself and “tweaks” it here and there in order to make it better. Maybe it will never be perfect, but that is what I want to examine today.
Life. The Lord created me and lovingly formed me before the foundation of the world. He knew my beginning and my end and He knew each experience and characteristic of my life that needed to be present in order for me to become everything that He designed me to be. Sometimes He even allowed others to be used in this process.
OK. This might be too general. Let me show you a few specifics.
As a child and teenager, I read furiously. I love words – well, the written word, anyway. This is a trait the Lord instilled in me as a child. But it could have been squelched, right? Well it wasn’t. Mom and Dad always made sure I had books or access to a library. Thought: The Lord “added” my parents to my life to bring opportunities. Is this not something an editor would do?
As an adult I had children and read to them constantly. I homeschooled them and taught them how to read. I would grade their papers and help them understand grammar and taught them new vocabulary words. The Lord allowed my children to add to my life’s tapestry and bring me to this place. Is that not something an editor does? Add a phrase or word that would help give clarity?
I started writing stories, but for some reason they were never finished. I just couldn’t muster the creative juices to get them done. I would get frustrated and cry out to the Lord asking, “Why did You give me this “gift” that everyone says I have and not let me use it?” I think the Lord “tweaked” this and said something like, “How about looking at the structure here? Why don’t you do a little more research on this before We are finished writing your story?” Isn’t that the job of an editor? To point out areas that are just a bit weak and need adjusting?
Occasionally there are those who somehow harm me or will eventually harm me. I cling to those friendships, hoping that somehow the Lord will intervene and change the situation. But my omniscient Lord either moves them, or me, along. Is He not the great Editor Who deletes certain things because they detract from the story?
And oftentimes, He brings others into your life to point out small mistakes that need adjusting before we can continue. Just like an editor would do in pointing out spelling errors.
This may all sound a little simplistic, but sometimes I need simplicity to bring me back to my roots – my base. You see, editing is difficult. I am BY NO MEANS comparing myself to the Lord, but merely drawing some parallels. You see, it is hard being on either end, isn’t it? For those of you who are writers, you spend so much time crafting your beautiful story. And to have someone come along and “tweak” it might cause you a little pain. Right? And for those of you who are not writers, it sometimes hurts when others come along and point out little things in your life that need to be changed. They might even be sins. But it is never fun when someone sees our mistakes, is it?
Here is the lesson for today – something that I learned in my second lesson for my online class. The job of the editor is not to change the work. It is the author’s work. The editor is merely there to show the author a few changes that could be made in order to make the story read better. It is up to the author to accept or decline those suggestions.
So when we allow ourselves to really be more objective, we will recognize that the Lord is the Author of our lives. He is also the Divine Editor, isn’t He? He merely makes suggestions and gives us opportunities to change to show off the work of the Author. We have the choice to accept or decline His direction. But do we not ultimately WANT to make sure His creation is everything that He created it to be?
OK – some of you might be wondering why I chose this graphic to start this post. Well, first of all, any time I can find something Italian I gravitate towards that. Second of all, for those that don’t know what this is, it is the creation of man painted on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. I cried when I saw it in person.
So, anyway….This is where we are going to start – at the beginning. The creation. The creation of your very own bullet journal. Something only YOU can do. I hope you have your supplies. But even if you don’t, not to worry. keep reading and maybe you will get some more ideas and it will buy you a little time,
Let’s start here. This is a quick overview of how the idea of bullet journaling got its start. A man named Ryder Carroll put ideas together. What did you think of that video? Is it something that you think might be interested in?
One of the bigger names in the bullet journaling community is a woman by the name of Kara Benz. She has a company called BoHo Berry and has a blog and YouTube channel. She is the first one I started watching and reading about, so many of my ideas I got were from her. But…..
….since then I have watched dozens of YouTube videos and have seem so many great ideas that I am so excited to share with you. I also have pictures from my own bullet journal and I am hoping you all will share with me what you have learned and discovered.
How many of you have one of these tucked away in your purse? Is it big enough?
Do you have a calendar hanging in your kitchen somewhere, maybe on your refrigerator? Do you have another one at your desk? And what about all of those post-it notes of things that you need to remember to do? Are they scattered all over – like the video showed? Do you have a journal? Is it hard to keep track of everything because you are constantly duplicating everything to each calendar?
THERE IS HOPE!
That is what bullet journaling is all about – keeping everything paper-related in one place where is make sense to YOU.
If you want to make sure that your information is in your notebook is safe and will not be lost, I suggest you put your name and contact information on the first page. Some people even offer a reward if it is found. I supposed that would be a good idea if you have valuable information in it.
So, let’s get started. The first thing you are going to want to do is have an index. So, on the first sheet of your notebook, after your name page, write “Index” at the top. Now some notebooks might already have that. If so, that is great! Less work for you. Do not number down the left side just yet. That will come in a bit.
Here is what mine looks like after I messed it up and then covered it with another page.
Next you are going to want to have some kind of “calendar” with the days. Start with this month. Don’t wait until the beginning of the year to start your journal. Have fun now. The video did NOT show this being done, but I find it helpful in the long run.
Here is how I did it, but you might watch some videos and come up with your own way, or you might find a small calendar in the store you can cut out and tape in.
See? I started in July. Depending on how big your journal is, yours might take up less space. I happen to have a large Leuchtturm 1917. (Just because I like it.) Remember, each of us is at a different place, so don’t be concerned about not have what someone else has.
Now, we need to do a future log. The purpose of this is just so we can get a better view of each month and specific things we need to remember. This is how I did mine, but remember, you might want to do it another way. Maybe you want to have more room to write stuff for each month and so you will have more pages dedicated to this.
Now the last thing for today is that you are going to start numbering your pages. Go back to your calendar and start there. Then add them to your index.
OK – now you can go back and add things to your pages if you want to. Color? stickers? quotes? Or nothing at all. It is totally up to you. Don’t forget to spend some time adding your things to remember to each month. Post pictures in the comments and let’s see! Nobody is judging – let’s see how different each of us is. This will be fun!
For those of you that have decided to follow along with me on the new “Bullet Journal” venture, I thought I would dedicate this particular post to supplies.
Keep in mind that this will be a place to keep all of your planning and lists. You can record everything during your day that you either want to remember to do, or those things that you did. You are able to make this whatever you need and want it to be. Nobody can tell you what is the right or wrong way. Okay?
There is something that I would like to mention here that I have rarely seen on any of the videos or blogs that I have looked at – and there are TONS. The whole idea of a bullet journal should not be stressful, and it shouldn’t put you in debt. I know that might sound silly, but I have seen supplies that might cost some a month’s wages. Please do NOT let others tell you what you should or should not do. This post is going to be informative only and you will need to decide for yourself what you are able to do. Remember, this is a tool to help you become more organized. It should not turn out to be one more thing that will take up so much of your precious time that you can no longer do what you need to get done. Make sense?
Let’s get started. Choose your supplies and in the next post we will get started putting things together.
Here are basic supplies:
Notebook – of any kind
Writing utensils – pens, pencils (probably not markers at this point)
some kind of straight edge
Simple, right? So look through your cabinets and drawers and see if you have these items laying around. It might be good to start here and play around with what you like and don’t like. That way if you think you mess up, you won’t feel guilty, right?
Step up: These supplies are for those that maybe have already been journaling and have a few extra supplies already laying around the house. Purchasing these will add to the cost, obviously.
Notebook with thicker paper (you can find this at department stores or Barnes and Noble usually has some in their discount aisle) Think about size here. Will you be carrying it with you all the time, or will it stay at home)
Writing utensils – fine sharpies, gel pens, Micron markers
Next step up: This is for those that have the money to invest and want to spend it.
Notebook – there are so many to list, but you can start by researching Amazon for Moleskine, Leuchtturm 1917, or Midori. Or while you are at Barnes and Noble, browse the notebook section. They have some wonderful designs. Just make sure you are getting thick, quality paper and that you get the style you like, whether lined, blank, grid or dotted.
Writing utensils – Now you can use Fountain pens, Farber-Castell markers, and Staedtler markers – both color and black. Depending on the paper quality, you might even be able to get away with watercolor paints.
I wanted to give you a quick peek at the different kinds of paper to which I was referring. There are typically four different kinds of paper – ruled, blank, grid and dotted. You will want to think of how you want to use your bullet journal. If you love art and creating, you might prefer the blank or dotted paper. If you are basically going to be writing in it, as in journaling or making lists, you might prefer the lined or grid. Everyone has their preferences. Look at the size of the space in between the lines as well. Do you tend to write larger? Get something that will accommodate that. Do you like writing on the diagonal, not necessarily left to right? Then get the blank pages. See where I am going with this? Here are a few samples of the kinds of pages:
Also, consider the size. You might like the small sizes, but you might need the larger one because you have many tasks and activities to keep up with. If you plan on keeping it in your already bulging handbag, the smaller sizes might work better for you.Will you be taking it to church to record sermon notes and write down the announcements? Keep that in mind as well
There you have it.
I will be back in a few days to talk about our first entries and what we are planning to do with this new Bullet Journal of ours. In the meantime, in the comments below, tell me what your plans are with your bullet journal. How are you going to use yours? What size did you decide to get? What supplies did you find? Post your pics! I want this to be our journey together. And if you already have one going, tell me how it is working out for you.
If you haven’t already done so, go back and read my previous post about how I got started. Maybe it will give you a little inspiration or insight.
Did that title make you think of a wedding? Well, that isn’t EXACTLY what I want to discuss with you today. What I do want to share with you is my “marriage” with my bullet journal.
Okay, that probably sounded very strange to some of you, didn’t it? Well, I did try to go for a “wow” factor here to get your attention. Have you heard of this new phenomenon of bullet journaling? If you have, then you are already ahead of the game. For those of you that have NOT heard of it, then you might be amazed. Or maybe you will just yawn and move on. Either way, I wanted to share something with you, that I believe will change the way you see planning and organizing. Well, it did for me, anyway.
I am a writer. I write. I write everything! I am a list-maker. I journal. I take notes in my Bible. I have a notebook for Bible studies. I have a notebook for extraneous notes. I have a notebook with contacts. I have a notebook for each of my stories.
I have always wanted to be more organized in my planning and I have always loved to make lists – ask anyone that knows me. So the end of last year I got fed up with calendars and planners that weren’t big enough for me to put everything in them that I wanted. I did some browsing online and ran across a company that was charging, what I thought, was an exorbitant amount for a planner. There were sheets that could be downloaded and I took some of those ideas and made my own. I went to Walmart and bought a grid composition notebook and a roll of duct tape in my favorite color. I figured that I would be using the notebook all of the time and that duct tape would make it virtually indestructible. So I meticulously cut the tape and covered the entire cover, inside and out. I thought it was beautiful. Then I made a pen loop with duct tape and a paper clamp. It was a little tedious but in the end I was entirely satisfied!
OK – so I used this notebook and loved it. I did have some “issues” with it, but I figured that it cost me all of a few dollars to put it together, so I wan’t really out anything.
I think my biggest problem was that I was thinking too long-range. I filled out the whole notebook for the whole year. Then I got a brilliant idea and got tabs for the edges so I could find the right month. I was really loving this! Then I added some more tabs for the rear pages that held all of my contacts, blog post ideas, wish lists, etc. This was REALLY going to work for me.
But here was one of my problems….I had already written on many of the pages and couldn’t use them any longer. And I found I either didn’t like or need what I had already written. There was no turning back.
I kept thinking, “I just have to get through the rest of the year and I can start over.” For the most part I loved my ingenious idea. I loved the size. I loved the grids and the spacing. I love that I could use my coloring pencils and stickers and washi tape to make it colorful. I loved it because I could wipe it down if something accidentally spilled on it. It was the perfect concept and I was so proud that I had thought of it all on my own! Or did I?
OK….I think I might need to add something in here….
I type fairly fast, but I prefer to write longhand. I love the feel of the pen in my hand and the way the thought flows from my brain, through my arm, to my fingers and out on to the paper. It is as much a part of me as, well, my fingers. I realize that many would not agree with me, but I guess that is one of the things that makes me unique.
So let me wrap this up for today. I have old ideas of a calendar, address book, notebooks, etc. (“something old”) and I was finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with it all. And then one day someone mentioned the words “Bullet Journal” to me and it sent my mind to reeling and my Pinterest page to flying! I was enthralled – even maybe a little obsessed. But I had found my “Something New” and now this marriage of those old and new ideas, running rampant in my brain, is taking over and forming something beautiful. Something I will discuss…next time….
And by the way, I know I mentioned a few terms that might be unfamiliar to some of you. Please be patient. I will post pictures as well as descriptions of some of the items in the next post. In the meanwhile, in the comments section, let me know if you want to learn some new ways to better organize your time or if you have been journaling.
Do you have a problem fitting in? Have you ever been uncomfortable in your own skin? Do you ever wonder if you were born at the wrong time? Or have you ever done something for so long because others told you that you were good at it, but you just didn’t feel fulfilled?Does it irritate you that you just don’t “get” what the Lord might be doing in your life? I liken these situations to the visual concept of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
My thoughts today have been niggling in my brain for a while, trying to come together in words that are understandable. You know how it gets sometimes when your thoughts are all jumbled in your brain and you just can’t seem to find the right words?
Well, for a while now I have been struggling. Struggling inwardly and outwardly. You see, I am the one who is bringing the struggle upon myself because I have been trying to fit in.
I have been thinking for the longest time that I was “meant to be” a novelist. I enjoy writing and I have kept a journal for as long as I can remember. I wasn’t always faithful in keeping up with it at times, but I always returned to that smooth surface and faithful ink pen. I had started writing several stories (uh, maybe 20 plus?) but they each are stacked in a cupboard above my desk, unfinished. Why? Because I get to a point where I just get so frustrated trying to make things up. It stresses me out to the point where I quit in tears. It is upsetting to think that the very thing I feel “called” to is causing me so much angst. It shouldn’t be that way, should it?
Recently I picked up a book that spoke of finding your calling. It was at that same time that I mentioned to my mother that I was getting frustrated with the actual writing process and was too much of a perfectionist. That I spent more time fixing my mistakes than actually writing. (My mom is one of my biggest cheerleaders and lovingly supports me in my ventures.) She told me she would pray about the situation. THEN, not even a day later, I was chatting with a dear friend, expressing to her my frustrations as well. After putting me through a series of 20-questions, she exclaimed, “You are an editor! This is your calling!”
That evening I cried again, but this time, tears of peace flooded my eyes. I was so relieved to know that I didn’t have to try and fit this square peg of “me” into the round hole I had cut for myself years ago.
I have spent so long trying to fit in to an image that I convinced myself it should look like. It became liberating to know that the Lord was calling me. It was freeing to know that all of the gifts and traits I had been blessed with were being used by God to make something unique and completely different. Something I alone could accomplish.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10, NLT)
I have been on a cloud for more than two weeks now because I am seeing how the Lord has been working, slowly molding me into a creation to be used for a specific purpose. I didn’t see it before because I was so busy focusing on what I “thought” the Lord wanted for me.
You see, I am not the creative person that so many in my past and present have made me out to be. I am not as right-brained, filled with overwhelming desire to make something. I had believed, incorrectly, that the Lord made everyone with that ability, but that just isn’t true. I can be different. I can be unique. I can express my perfectionism and alpha-female personality in a way that is glorifying to the Lord. I just need to keep my eyes on HIM and He will fit all those puzzle pieces together and make perfect sense.
In the meantime, I have registered for an online class to sharpen my skills. I have put away my “novel” idea of writing fiction. I have been spending more time in prayer and acknowledging the Lord’s sovereignty in this area of my life. I have had my eyes opened to others who also are square pegs trying to find their niche. And most importantly, I have been at peace, for the most part, with the knowledge that all of the previous decades of my life were not really in vain. They were merely getting me to the point where the Lord could use it ALL for His glory.
Marriage has been good to Aggie. After a few years and a baby under her belt, she’s confident that she can take on anything–including adding child number ten to the home! Blessings aren’t always easy, and Aggie is about to discover that in a whole new way!
When their near-idyllic life was turned upside down by senseless vandalism, Aggie and gang spent a week on “Aunt” Willow’s farm. Luke worked day and night to get them back home for Thanksgiving. But when things, once more, seem to pile up, Aggie flounders. Her pregnancy grows precarious, and her husband doesn’t recognize her anymore.
Only the Lord can soothe her rumpled spirit, but will she allow Him to comfort her as only He can?
Aggie’s sure that she just needs to “knuckle down” and “ante up” to keep from losing ALL her marbles.
I don’t know how she did it, but Chautona Havig was able to tic every box on my list of great aspects of writing. I did not have a chance to read the first three books in the series, but reading the synopses was enough to get me caught up and get me right into the story line.
The characters we so unique and well-developed. I enjoyed reading how each had their moments of growth, of self evaluation, of maturity.I loved getting in the mind of the teenagers and maybe getting a glimpse of what they might be thinking, and finding myself wondering if my own felt that way. I know that the main character, Aggie, went through a major crisis of faith and I found it very genuine. Her falling in to her thoughts and allowing them to overtake her when she knew it wasn’t the godly thing – I have seen that in myself at times. The feelings Luke had as he watched the love of his life struggling to keep it together and feeling hopeless – I have been there as well. The children and their antics were so….childlike! I mean, who wouldn’t LOVE to have a huge family, right?
I don’t want to give anything away about the way the story ends, but suffice it to say that by the time you get to the last sentence you will be hoping that this author is not through telling us about the Stuart-Sullivan clan.
About the Author
Chautona lives in a small, remote town in California’s Mojave Desert with her husband and six of her nine children. When not writing, she enjoys paper crafting, sewing, and looking forward to retirement from home education. Chautona writes stories of fictional people who have real problems, weaknesses, and triumphs. Through their stories, she tries to share the Hope that is within her.
Guest Post from Chautona Havig
“You have eight kids? How do you do it? I can barely manage with the one (or two or three) that I have! I could never do eight.”
How many times had I heard those words? Ten? Fifty? A thousand? I suspect it was between fifty and a thousand. I guarantee it felt like a million. And the reason wasn’t that people were rude or unkind about it. It was simply because they assumed things that weren’t reasonable. They acted as if I’d woken up one day with eight kids and never had a problem with adapting to it.
The cold, hard truth? I never planned to have children—ever—much less the eight I had then or the nine I have now. I didn’t like children, and even now, I really just prefer mine and others’ in very small doses. I’m naturally a very selfish person. So the comments that made me sound excessively patient and maternal were, in a word, ridiculous.
I had one answer I always gave—just one. “I didn’t get them all at once. I got them one at a time, the old fashioned way. And with a minimum of about eighteen to twenty-two months of getting used to having two, three, six, seven before I got the next.
But that thought haunted me for weeks. What would happen if someone did get eight at once? How would she handle that? Not like the women with multiples—five, seven, eight at a time. No, I was thinking of what it would be like for someone to have my kids just dumped on someone all at once with all those different ages to deal with. I think I should have known at that moment that my childhood dream of being a writer would come true, because my next thought was, “And what if she was single?” From there, I added more. A grandmother-in-law to rival any horror stories of mothers-in-law, home renovations with kids (every mother’s nightmare), grieving, and accident prone kids who can’t stop calling 9-1-1 and you had all the worst things I could think of without becoming ridiculous.
I had originally decided that Aggie would remain single. Yeah, that didn’t happen. So, I gave her personal convictions to follow. I added to that her sister’s convictions, just to keep things interesting. I wanted to show that people have convictions for a myriad of reasons, and just because they hold one, doesn’t mean they look down on those who don’t. That original story grew from a sixty-thousand word single book into a trilogy—each book being over one hundred twenty thousand words! I was sure people would hate the length, hate the story, and ride me out of the country on the proverbial rail. I just hoped I landed in the southern Atlantic—nice and warm.
Instead, Ready or Not has been my best selling book—an Amazon bestseller. The first promotion we did resulted in the book being downloaded every 3.6 seconds in a twenty-four hour period. I was flabbergasted. I did the math a dozen times to make sure. When the last book came out, fans bemoaned the loss of their favorite character. I added more of her to another series, Past Forward. That helped—a little.
Eventually, I agreed to write a fourth book. I waited, and I’m so glad I did. Nearly five years have passed since Aggie inherited her eight nieces and nephews, and nearly four have passed since she married and began a new journey with him. She’s a mother now, not “just” an aunt. She’s a wife. Her life is rich and full of the craziness readers have come to love. So in this book, I decided to explore what happens when life throws just one too many curve balls. I decided to show the children growing up and facing new trials and temptations. And, I wanted to give just a little bit of joy in the extended family front after three books of trials there. I thought it was about time.
My goal for these books has always been to point my readers to the Lord. I did that through one character’s wisdom, another’s steadfastness, and of course, through Aggie’s songs and bite-sized prayers (p-mails). In this book, I wanted to point readers to the Lord through Aggie again, but in a different way. I hope it is as encouraging to them as it was to me. I learned so much in the writing of this book. It laid open my heart before the Lord and I saw things in myself I didn’t want to see but needed to. The Lord is so good to us.
Don’t forget—for those who purchase before July 7, 2016, we’re giving away a FREE bonus devotional,Tune My Heart: 25 Hymn-Filled Moments with the Lord. Each chapter corresponds to the book and examines some of the themes of the book, so you don’t want to read it before you’ve read the book! To get your free copy, just forward your Amazon receipt to THIS EMAIL.