My Favorite Blog of 2018

I truly wish I had more time to read all the wonderfully instructive and entertaining blogs that are available on the Internet.

I subscribe to about a dozen blogs because I know from experience their content never disappoints. And thought I don’t subscribe, I also read several other blogs each day from my favorites list.

Given all the blogs I read, there’s one that consistently stands out as the one and only, hands-down, “Must Read” blog that I never miss.

My favorite blog of the year is author Davalynn Spencer’s blog, which you can visit by clicking on the image above. Here’s why I like it so much:

  1. Her posts are short in length but long on message. No matter the topic she writes about, she always touches my heart with truth and conviction.
  2. Her posts are entertaining. I love the little insights she gives about the rodeo way of life.
  3. She’s a natural and gifted story-teller, who effortlessly weaves stories from her own life experiences into a mini-lesson that ties nicely with a Bible truth.
  4. Some of her posts have meant so much to me that I’ve gone back to read them over and over again in the ensuring days and weeks.

Davalynn Spencer’s blog is the one blog I truly look forward to reading every week, and I doubt that’s going to change anytime soon.

If you haven’t yet read her blog, I hope you’ll give it a try and let me know your thoughts about it.

And if you have a favorite, can’t-miss blog, please share it!

 

My Movie Count-down to Christmas

Christmas is now less than a week away and I’m happily in the full spirit of Christmas. Like many, many (many!) people, Christmas is my favorite time of the year.

My house is decorated, the weather has taken on a nice nip of cold air, and I just finished the last of my holiday shopping.

I’ve deposited toys, cash, and canned goods in the appropriate donation bins and red kettles around town.

My Christmas tree is glowing with ornaments and lights, my gifts to others are wrapped and arranged under said tree, and my crèche is lovingly positioned in a place of honor in the living room.

Everything’s in order for Christmas day. There’s just one more task left . . . and it’s one of my family’s favorite traditions.

In the last days before Christmas, we gather every evening to make popcorn, arrange bowls of chips and dips, brew tea, and pour hot cocoa, all in preparation for watching our favorite Christmas movies together as a family.

And not just any Christmas movies. In my house, it’s all about tradition, and there’s an order to it all.

So here’s the countdown of Christmas movies my family and I will be watching for the next few nights:

Die HardDecember 20: Die Hard

Oh, yes, Die Hard is a Christmas movie, a gift for the guys in your family. It has plenty of alpha-male shoot-em-up action, a healthy dose of humor, and a few ho-ho-ho’s.

An added bonus: it puts my guys in the right mood to handle the sentimentality of the remaining movies we’ll be watching.

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Meet Me in St LouisDecember 21: Meet Me in St. Louis

Now we’re heading down the more traditional Christmas movie track. Meet Me in St. Louis stars Judy Garland as a young woman growing up at the turn of the 20th Century. It’s a beautiful movie, from sets to costumes to characters, and the singing . . . well, I did use the magic words, “Judy Garland.” I tear up every year watching her sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to her little sister, played by Margaret O’Brien.

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June Allyson_Little WomenDecember 22: Little Women

I’ve read this beloved book many times since I first read it as a child. From the opening line—“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents”—the story chronicles the lives and loves of the four March sisters, and their devotion to each other through hardship and joy.

This year we’re watching the 1949 version starring June Allyson as Jo March, which is one of my favorites. The other version I love is the 1994 movie starring Winona Ryder in the same role. We’ll watch that version next year (we alternate each year between the two) and I’ll have a big box of Kleenex by my side.

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Holiday InnDecember 23: Holiday Inn

This 1942 holiday classic used to run on television every year on Christmas Eve. My entire family sat down to watch it because it was just so much fun. It was my first introduction at a young age to the magic of a Fred Astaire’s dancing . The firecracker scene is one of his best and most entertaining dance sequences ever.

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Miracle on 34th StreetDecember 24: Miracle on 34th Street

Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about some fancy-shmancy color version. I’m talking about the classic, black-and-white version of Miracle on 34th Street that originally hit theaters in 1947. This movie doesn’t need to be updated or colorized; it’s perfect just as it is.

My recommendation: don’t watch this movie on television with commercial breaks; they cut too much of the movie out to fit the broadcast time slot. Find a digitized, black-and-white version on DVD, pop it in your player, sit back with a cup of hot cocoa, and enjoy this story about believing in the magic of Christmas and the hopefulness of the human spirit.

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White Christmas 1954December 25: White Christmas

For me White Christmas is the best of the best Christmas movies, so it’s no wonder our family gives it the place of honor: a viewing on Christmas night. Since its release in 1954, four generations of my family have viewed and enjoyed this fun, inspiring, and charming movie. After a busy day of attending church services, opening presents, and visiting friends and family, it’s nice to gather in the evening, wearing the new jammies Santa brought, and cuddling under the comfy new throws we received as gifts, to watch White Christmas. Every year we look forward to seeing the “Sisters” routine—we know it by heart, of course, but we laugh each year as if we were seeing it for the first time. I’m sure this year will be no exception.

So there you have it. Now you know how my family and I will be spending the remaining evenings leading up to Christmas.

What about you? Do you have Christmas traditions you and your family enjoy in the days leading up to Christmas? Leave a comment below to share!

 

A Christmas Duet and a Giveaway!

Authors Rebekah Morris and Faith Blum have teamed up for a fun Christmas Duet Blog Tour!

Why Christmas Duet? Because the titles of both books have to do with a Christmas song!

Rebekah and Faith are giving away copies of their books, so be sure to read to the bottom of this post to see how you can win!

First, let’s talk about Rebekah’s book:

His Law is Love

Book Description:

Will hate and fear drown the song of Christmas love?

Amelia is eagerly anticipating her first Christmas in the west, but she soon finds that her brother-in-law’s worry and her sister’s exhaustion reach far deeper than the cares of a ranch and a family. A rash of fires and cattle thefts is plaguing the area, and the three young orphans they’ve sheltered are under suspicion from their prejudiced neighbors.

As hostilities mount, Amelia seizes every opportunity to help and encourage, but how much can one girl do? Will Reverend Brown win the community over to the true spirit of love? And will help arrive before everything they hold dear is destroyed?

Excerpt:

Here’s an excerpt from His Law is Love, by Rebekah A. Morris:

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Miss Ware,” Matt said, bowing slightly. “I hope we will be seeing more of you. There aren’t many young ladies around here and very few as lovely as you are.”

Amelia felt her cheeks grow hot but hoped it wouldn’t be noticed. “I don’t know if I’ll be in town much, I’m afraid,” she replied, glancing down the street.

“That’s a pity,” Nick said. “Where does your sister live?”

“At the Macy ranch.”

A sudden silence filled the street. Had she said something wrong or strange?

“Have you been to the ranch yet?” Matt asked at last.

“No, I’ve only just arrived.”

The young men seemed visibly relieved. “Then perhaps you can talk some sense into your brother-in-law and sister.”

Amelia raised her eyebrows. Sense? What were these men talking about?

“They’ve taken in some half-breeds, but everyone knows they can’t keep them.”

“Why not?”

“The whole town is against it. All Indians do is cause trouble, and there’s been talk,” Matt took a step closer and lowered his voice, “that the half-breeds have connections with some other Indians who are burning barns and stealing cattle.”

“Indians can’t be trusted, Miss Ware,” Nick put in. “It’s sad to say it, but it’s the truth.”

Want to read more? You can read a preview here; just click on the left or right arrows to navigate:

About the Author:

Rebekah A. Morris is a homeschool graduate, an enthusiastic freelance author and a passionate writing teacher. Her books include, among others, Home Fires of the Great War, The Unexpected Request, Gift from the Storm, the Christmas Collection series, and her best selling Triple Creek Ranch series.

Some of her favorite pastimes, when she isn’t writing, include reading, playing with her seven nieces and nephews, and coming up with dramatic and original things to do (sometimes with the nieces and nephews!) The Show-Me state is where she calls home.

My Two Cents:

I couldn’t wait to read this book! I read it through in one sitting and enjoyed it so much. You can read my 5-star review on GoodReads by clicking here. 

Now let’s take a look at the second book in the Duet:

O Come, All Ye Faithful

Book Description:

This collection of short stories is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit:

O Come All Ye Faithful
Edwin wanted to be home, but instead he crouched in a trench. The English on one side of No Man’s Land and Germans on the other. What a way to spend Christmas. Could anything make it better?

Peace on Earth
Emmie and Elana are estranged sisters, torn apart by an old boyfriend five years earlier. Will they survive a night in the same hotel room after a blizzard forces them together or will peace on earth go out the window?

Silent Night
Christmas decorating had never gone this wrong. Jenna had just started when a crazy, gun-waving woman, walks right in the front door and ties her up in her own Christmas lights. Will Jenna even see her family this Christmas?

The Gift Goes On
Four friends and a year to reflect on. The year had been good for Carlotta, but Priscilla, Remus, and Newton all had at least one trial through the year. A mysterious giver the previous year had helped them all out, though. What would this year’s gifts bring?

O Christmas Tree
Gareth loves Christmas. But more than that, he loves Christmas tree hunting. As the family prepares for their annual trip, Gareth can barely contain his excitement. But what are all the spray bottles for?

Excerpt:

The Christmas lights corded tightly around Jenna’s ankles and wrists. The crazy woman had even plugged them in, giving her body an absurd prettiness considering the situation.

The gun-waving woman gave a slow, self-satisfied smile. “Oh, I must have been good this year. Santa has given me a lovely gift. Many of them, actually.”

Jenna closed her eyes. “Santa isn’t real.”

The woman glared at Jenna. “Of course he is. He’s always brought me either presents or coal. Every year, even when I have no one else around in the house. I was told by all the kids about those fairy tales of Santa not being real, but how does that explain how I always got a present even when neither of my parents had been in the house with me for weeks? Or as I got older and moved away and had no one living with me, I always ended up with presents under my tree. Why are you decorating so late in the season, anyway?”

Jenna’s eyes flew open at the question that came directly into her ear. “I… I recently moved out of my parents’ house and didn’t want to get anything unnecessary like decorations. I also thought Christmas would be at their house, but they decided to come here, so now I need to decorate.”

“When are they arriving?”

Was it a sin to lie under duress?

Want to read more? You can read a preview here:

My Two Cents:

I’ve selected this book to read this weekend, and I’m looking forward to it! The Christmas stories in this collection sound charming, and since they’re each set in different places and time periods, this book is certain to appeal to all readers!

About the Author:

Faith Blum is a small-town Wisconsin girl. She’s lived in, or outside of, small towns her whole life. The thought of living in a city with more than 60,000 people in it scares her, especially after some interesting adventures driving through big cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.

Faith currently resides in the middle of the state of Wisconsin with her husband and their cat, Smokey. She is blessed to be able to have writing as her full-time career with household work and cooking to do on the side. She loves to paint walls as long as she doesn’t have to do hallways or ceilings.

When not writing, you can find her cooking food from scratch due to food allergies (fun), doing dishes (meh), knitting, crocheting, sewing, reading, or spending time with her husband (yay!). She is also a Community Assistant for the Young Writers Workshop and loves her work there. She loves to hear from her readers, so feel free to contact her on her website.

And now for that giveaway I promised you!

Just like Rebekah and Faith teamed up for this tour, they have also teamed up on the giveaway!

Grand Prize: Paperback of each (US only)
1st Prize: eBook of each (International and US)
2nd Prize: eBook of choice (International and US)

Click Here to Enter the Giveaway!

And be sure to join Rebekah and Faith on the rest of their tour, for interviews, reviews, and to see if you won one of the giveaway prizes:

November 29
Frances Hoelsema’s Blog – Two Book Spotlights
Rebekah Ashleigh – Review of His Law is Love and Book Spotlights
Novels, Dragons, and Wardrobe Doors – Book Review and Spotlight
Salsa And Tea – Author Interviews

November 30
Purely by Faith Reviews – Two Book Reviews
Once Upon An Ordinary – Author Interview and Book Spotlights
In the Bookcase – Excerpts

December 1
Books, Life, and Christ – Two Book Reviews
Maidens for Modesty – Two Book Reviews
Chosen Vessels – Two Book Reviews
Harvest Lane Cottage – Two Book Reviews
Jessica Greyson – Book Spotlights
Twin Thoughts – Book Spotlights
Heart of the Rose – Two Book Reviews
Read Another Page – Book Spotlight and Review

December 3
Bookish Orchestrations – Giveaway winner

Good luck in the drawing, and enjoy the books!

My First Christmas Read and a Giveaway!

Now that Thanksgiving has passed, I’m ready to concentrate on making my house sparkly and my season bright by reading some great Christmas-themed books.

On Friday I chose the first book to read to get me in the holiday mood:

His Law is Love by Rebekah A. Morris.

I read the book in one sitting (couldn’t put it down!), and I’m glad to say that it was the perfect story to kick off my Christmas season reading list.

This story of faith, loving others as Christ taught us, and standing by your principles no matter the cost, really kept me on the edge of my seat.

I enjoyed the book so much, and I’m happy to tell you that I’ll be hosting a stop on the author’s blog tour later this week.

Please join me here on Wednesday for . . .

Excerpts of His Law is Love and a chance to win your own copy of this delightful book!

In the meantime, you can read my review of His Law is Love by Rebekah A. Morris. Just click here to read the review on Goodreads!

See you Wednesday!

Stock Up on Clean Reads!

It’s kick-off day for the clean reads book sale I mentioned earlier this week! There are over 150 titles to choose from and . . .

All e-books are FREE or only 99 cents!

You’ll also find paperbacks at deeply discounted prices.

I’ve already picked out several books that look like wonderful reads for the Christmas season. You can click on the graphic to start shopping.

What books will you purchase?

 

Woot! It’s a Book Sale!

I’m a die-hard traditionalist when it comes to Christmas.

That means I observe the house rule of no Christmas decorations, movies or books before Thanksgiving. (Take that, Hallmark Channel!)

But once I wake up on Friday, November 23, I plan to dive whole-heartedly into decorating, baking, and shopping for Christmas.

I’ll also start watching movies and reading books with Christmas-themed plots; and this year,  I’m especially excited about that, because there’s . . .

A Big Book Sale Beginning Friday, November 23!

I’ve joined with a group of wonderful Indie authors to bring you a great selection of print and e-books at Black Friday prices that can’t be beat!

All books are free or just 99 cents!

Pick your favorite genre… mystery, romance, SciFi, or fantasy, or try them all. At these prices, you can’t go wrong!

Please join me on Friday! www.PerryKirkpatrick.com/sale

Sometimes, Life Is . . .

Thank goodness it’s Wednesday!

I don’t say that often, but it’s been a crazy week so far; and knowing it’s Wednesday means I’m that much closer to the weekend.

The pace at work always picks up at this time of year; there’s a crunch of projects and tasks that must be done before the end of the year. Add to that the fact that a lot of my coworkers plan to take time off next week for Thanksgiving, and I have a recipe for long days and a lot of work.

There are a lot of things I planned to get done this week, but because of my work schedule, they’re now on hold.

Sometimes, life just isn’t one of these:

But the good thing is, I’m working through it! And as I come up for air from the pile of work that’s on my desk, I’m reminded that there’s still much to be thankful for:

I have a job I love, and coworkers I truly like and admire.

And I’m especially grateful that it’s Wednesday, and a quiet, restful weekend is only two days away!

My Nostalgia: Grace Livingston Hill Books

When I was a teenager, Linda, a friend in my Sunday-school class, handed me a novel by Grace Livingston Hill and said, “You’ve got to read this.”

I had never heard of the author, but Linda had never steered me wrong before, so I took the book home and dove right in.

I was glad I did. After reading one book, I wanted more. Soon Grace Livingston Hill became one of my favorite authors and I began seeking out her books in second-hand stores. It wasn’t long before I had a pretty good collection of my own.

I enjoyed the plots and the characters, of course; but I discovered that I also loved the way Mrs. Hill made the time period of her stories come to life.

I was fascinated by her descriptions of American life in the 1920s and 1930s.

At the Seaside, by Paul Gustave Fischer.

I loved reading about easy chairs on the veranda and gardens that always yielded beautiful blooms; train travel and jaunty cars that never seemed to run out of gasoline.

Not long ago I came across some examples of the art of Paul Gustave Fischer, which are featured in this post. His works immediately made me think of Grace Livingston Hill’s novels.

In the Garden, by Paul Gustave Fischer.

The artist captured in his paintings the same thing Mrs. Hill captured in her books: Movement. Grace Livingston Hill’s heroines were always on the move; they were going somewhere, and they had purpose in their fictional lives.

I wish I could remember which Grace Livingston Hill novel I read first. It was a long time ago, but I think it was Job’s Niece or Bright Arrows.

At the Tram Stop, by Paul Gustave Fischer.

Either way, that book is gone now, along with the original dust jacket, because I followed Linda’s example one day and lent it to another friend with the same words Linda said to me: “You’ve got to read this.”

I never got the book back, but that’s okay. I hope my friend enjoyed the book as much as I did and decided to keep it, so she could read it again.

In the Train Compartment, by Paul Gustave Fischer.

Because that’s exactly what I do with my collection of Grace Livingston Hill books: I re-read them again and again.

How about you? Have you ever read a book by Grace Livingston Hill? What author’s books have a guaranteed place on your keeper-shelf?

Does Every Treat Have a Trick?

I’m going to tell you a true-life story. I hope you can relate to it.

About ten years ago, Prince Charming and I took a long-anticipated trip. We were both in high-stress jobs at the time, so this getaway was very important to us.

We planned every detail in advance, because we wanted to start our vacation stress-free, with no last-minute rushing about. We had a list of items to pack, which we dutifully checked off, one by one, as we put things in our suitcases.

We had a list of things to do, like holding our mail with the post office, and notifying our home security company of our trip, so they’d make extra rounds while we were away.

We even had a time table for the morning of our departure, starting with the time we wanted our alarm to go off, all the way up to the moment we checked our bags and entered the lines at airport security.

We had everything planned out, anticipated every problem, accounted for every contingency.

The big day arrived. When the alarm went off, we got up, dressed, and headed to the airport, right on time. We were happy. We were stress-free.

And we were proud of ourselves because all that pre-planning was paying off.

Then it happened. We were in the car, on the freeway, almost at the airport for our early-morning flight, when Prince turned to me and asked, “Did you remember to turn the coffee pot off before we left the house?”

So much for stress-free travel.

No, of course I could not remember turning it off, and my stress level immediately went from 2 on the scale to Red Alert level.

In those days, our coffee maker didn’t have an automatic turn-off mechanism. And since I couldn’t remember turning off the burner under the pot—and, incidentally, neither could Prince Charming, which was kind-a why he asked the question—I had an immediate vision in my head of the coffee maker melting down from its own heat and catching the house on fire. Prince had the same vision.

We immediately abandoned our beautifully orchestrated timetable and returned to the house. Prince kept the motor running, while I ran in, only to find one of us had turned the burner off under the pot, after all. So, it turned out, there was no need to rush; there was no reason to panic; there was no cause for worry.

We just had to get back on track and finish what we set out to do, and get that vacation started.

Why am I telling you this story?

Because I had a coffee pot moment not long ago; but this time, the thing that got off track wasn’t a vacation. It was a book.

Back in January I set a goal for myself to finish a novel I’d been working on. And guess what?

I did it!

I finished the novel and sent it off to a couple of beta readers and a proofreader.

Confident, I had a cover designed, wrote a book blurb, and set a date to publish my book in print and e-book formats.

And then I heard back from my readers. They all liked the overall story, loved the hero, and Miss Proofreader spotted only a couple of typos.

But they all agreed there was a problem with one of the subplots. And I had to admit, once they brought it to my attention, I saw the problem, too. But why had I not seen it before?

I was so busy concentrating on writing “The End” on the last page of my manuscript, and reveling in the feeling of having accomplished a major goal, that I didn’t see a hole in my plot.

And now I have to do some revisions throughout the story so that plot hole can be fixed.

So, the good news is, I did achieve one of my goals for the year. I finished writing my book. But the bad news (if you can call it that) is I still have some more work to do to on it.

So I’ve re-calibrated my timetable, and I’m now busy with rewrites.

And while I do that, I want to give a shout out to beta readers and proofreaders all over world.

Thank you! You help make dreams come true.

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