Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Best Christmas Songs You've Never Heard - Part 5

There are classics and standards that we're all familiar with when it comes to Christmas songs. But what about those new little gems that we may not be as familiar with? This month I'm highlighting a few of my favorites, even if it is a couple of days after Christmas.

SONG #9 - The Last Christmas Without You, Sixpence None the Richer

The first time I heard this song I was nine months pregnant and waiting to go into labor at any moment. It made this song very special to me.

SONG #10-23 - The entire SheDaisy Christmas album, Brand New Year

Okay, so it's not a single song, it's a whole album. Some of the songs are classic carols but they all have a brand new twist. This album is just fun. It's also not as hidden a gem as some of the others, especially if you're a country music fan, but this is a fabulous album. A mix of reinvented traditionals and totally brand new songs, it's as festive as the season itself. I like the album so much it was hard to decide which song to highlight off of it. I decided to go with The Secret of Christmas. (As a side note, I was going to use Twist of the Magi, a hilarious duet with Rascal Flatts, but there wasn't really a good YouTube video with it.)

I hope you've enjoyed discovering some new Christmas music with me. Be sure to share some of your own favorites in the comments!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Best Christmas Songs You've Never Heard - Part 4

There are classics and standards that we're all familiar with when it comes to Christmas songs. But what about those new little gems that we may not be as familiar with? This month I'm highlighting a few of my favorites.

SONG #8 - Are My Ears On Straight, Gayla Peevey

This is an old one, but a good one. My mom had this one on a tape from when she was a kid and I have always thought it was such a fun song for Christmas. One of my favorite Christmas presents ever was a stuffed animal. I always wanted to believe that he loved me as much as I loved him. The popularity of the Toy Story movies proves that everyone wants to think of their toys loving their owners. This is that same little girl that sang the song we all know about hippopotamuses. I haven't met anyone else who knows this song, though.

Since it's Christmas Day, I thought I'd throw a couple of surprise presents in as Honorable Mentions. These two are songs you've heard of, but maybe not quite like this. They make me smile.

HONORABLE MENTION #1 - Blue Christmas, Porky Pig

I have no idea if this is actually done by the guy who did the voice of Porky Pig or not, but I have trouble caring. It's just funny.

HONORABLE MENTION #2 - The Christmas Shoes, FM Static

I've never been a huge fan of this song, although many people are. This is a different version that made me smile.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Best Christmas Songs You've Never Heard - Part 3

There are classics and standards that we're all familiar with when it comes to Christmas songs. But what about those new little gems that we may not be as familiar with? This month I'm highlighting a few of my favorites.

SONG #6 - Not That Far From Bethlehem, Point of Grace

Do you ever wonder what it was like for Mary and Joseph making that trip? I've had three kids and let me tell you - I didn't even want to walk across the room much less across the country during my ninth month. I can just imagine Joseph reassuring Mary, "We're almost there, I'll help you make it." And then such discouragement at not finding lodging but such joy at a healthy baby boy. Beautiful. And to think, we're never far from that same Savior.

SONG #7 - Strange Way to Save the World, 4Him

We think a lot about Mary. After all, she was the one lugging a pregnant belly around. But lately I've been hearing more songs about Joseph and I think that's great. The task of fathering the Savior of the World had to be daunting. As this song points out, it's really hard to imagine that helpless little bundle that you instantly love so much being the conduit God would use to save the people of the world.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Free Fiction Friday - Installment 1.8

It’s time for Fiction Friday! How does Fiction Friday work? Well, kind of like those old Choose Your Own Adventure stories, but with a lot more room. Read the installment of the story below. At the end, you’ll find a question. You the reader will get to determine what happens next. Leave a comment. I’ll pick one at random.  You get to determine where the plot goes. So read, enjoy, and tell me what you want to happen next.  

Past Segments:  1234567


After a leisurely ride through the country, the party had stopped at the home or Lord Bromley, Baron of Gimbleshire. He and Lord Clampton had several business dealings together and the stopover would serve the dual purpose of allowing them to spend the night in comfort and letting Lord Clampton deliver some papers.
None of them expected to find the house bustling with dinner party preparations.
 Lady Bromley, it appeared, was not going to let the opportunity to entertain such a high ranking man as Lord Clampton pass her by.
“It’s just a small dinner party, I assure you. I simply couldn’t fathom asking Lord Clampton to sit down to a simple family meal.”  Lady Bromley gave a whole new meaning to the words gushing and fawning.
“Not a problem for me,” Mrs. Ruggiford said. “Give him the party and the rest of us will take the simple family meal.”
Lady Bromley blinked. “I beg your pardon?”
Minnie rushed forward to grab her aunt’s arm. “What she means is that she’s quite tired from the trip. Would it be all right if we just send a tray up to her room? The rest of us will be happy to attend your gathering.”
Olivia smiled. The girl was learning.
Trunks were brought in, dresses were readied, and hair was repaired in record time. Guests began arriving before the ladies had even made it to their rooms.
Olivia decided to peek in on Lord Clampton’s aunt before going down to the drawing room.
Mrs. Ruggiford settled onto a chaise lounge, wrapped in a green velvet dressing robe. She waved her book in the air. “Dinner party with the bard tonight. Don’t miss me.”
Olivia chuckled as she headed down the stairs. With such a successful example of irreverence as a guide, it would be a miracle if Minnie developed any social graces at all. The proof of this was staring her in the face when she joined the already mingling guests.
Minnie stood in one corner of the room, chatting merrily with a small group of three other guests. The conversation appeared to be flowing nicely and Minnie was holding herself as a proper young lady should when conversing with a group of gentlemen. There was one problem though.
She was wearing her hat.
Olivia was the last to arrive in the drawing room. Their hostess began the processional to the dining room as soon as she spotted her final guest. Olivia never made it across the room to her new friend. She was forced to watch the mismatched ribbons and plumes dance above Minnie’s head a few feet down the table.
When the ladies finally retired, Olivia wondered if it would be best to let the hat remain. Minnie appeared to be holding her own with the group. Removing her hat now could undermine her confidence enough the make her hide in the corner. Olivia decided not to risk it and prayed she wasn’t also telling the pig story.
The gentlemen joined them much sooner than Olivia expected. She was quite grateful since she assumed this meant to party would dissolve soon and she would be able to retire for the night. Even leisurely travel could be quite tiring.
She had not counted on Lady Bromley.
“I have a special treat for everyone!” The hostess clapped her hands like a delighted little schoolgirl. “Miss Elizabeth Stratford has agree to play the pianoforte for us tonight so that we might enjoy a little impromptu exercise and entertainment with a little dance or two.”
Olivia groaned. She knew ladies shouldn’t groan in public, but she just couldn’t help herself. Dancing. There was going to be dancing. Dancing could go on for hours.
“May I have this dance, Miss Bedford?”
Olivia turned to find Lord Clampton standing behind her, hand extended in invitation.
“Of course, my lord.”
“Please, call me John. The trip will be much more enjoyable if we don’t stand on formalities.”
Olivia smiled. “John, then. Please call me Olivia.”
The two took their places for the dance. It was a fairly quick moving one that would not allow for much conversation between partners. This didn’t concern Olivia overmuch since she wasn’t trying to further her relationship with any of the men on the dance floor that evening. John apparently had other ideas.
“I have something to confess,” he whispered as they passed each other.
“What?” Olivia asked when they had once again met in the middle to skip their way down the train of dancers.
“Minnie isn’t the real reason I asked you to come on this trip.”
Olivia looked up at John in surprise. The man didn’t acknowledge it, staring straight ahead, a blank look on his face. “I – I –“
Olivia’s shock and inability to articulate a sentence didn’t matter for the moment since they reached the end of the line and took their place among those forming the walls of the dancing pathway. It was a solid minute before they were once again side by side.
“I had another reason,” John said.
Olivia nearly growled in frustration as she pranced around in a circle with all the ladies.
“What was it?” she asked as she took his arm one more time.
“I’m afraid it is rather personal,” he said before he handed her off to another gentleman.
Personal? It was personal? Olivia tugged harder at her current partner’s arm, trying to hurry the dance around to the next formation.
“What was it?” she asked again, desperation settling into her belly.
“I –“
The music ended. John bowed while Olivia curtsied. She was still rising to her feet when Lady Bromley swooped by and drug John off to meet some of the ladies that were present.
Olivia stamped her foot as she watched John disappear into the small crowd of people.

Okay, readers, it’s your turn? What is John’s REAL reason for inviting Olivia on the trip? Does it have to do with his feelings? His sister? Something else? Throw you ideas in the comments below.

Comments are now closed for this segment. Please look for the next segment of the story. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Best Christmas Songs You've Never Heard - Part 2

There are classics and standards that we're all familiar with when it comes to Christmas songs. But what about those new little gems that we may not be as familiar with? This month I'm highlighting a few of my favorites.

SONG #3 - I Celebrate the Day, Relient K

This song embodies the reason I absolutely love Christmas. I do not want to imagine what life would be like if Jesus had not been born (and by extension died and rose again). And yes, I know, no one really knows what day Jesus was born, but I like celebrating it at Christmas.

SONG #4 - Welcome to Our World, Chris Rice

There are a lot of Christmas songs about Jesus, but like the Relient K song above, this song is sung to Jesus. It's a wonderful telling of the sentiment the world should have had when the Savior came to earth. While it would have been nice for Jesus to get a proper welcome when he was born, at least we can express it today.

SONG #5 - While You Were Sleeping, Casting Crowns

This song starts with looking at how Jesus slipped into the world, unknown and unexpected. IT ends with a call for us to realize that the same thing could happen in America when Jesus comes back. Very powerful. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

More Opportunities for You!

As of noon yesterday, Olivia's and John's fates were floating in the cyberwind, waiting for some gentle reader to give them direction. No one has.

So, considering that I have some major Christmas busyness this weekend, I'm giving y'all one more week to direct the next installment of the story.

Go here to read last week's installment and leave your suggestions.

In other news, keep a close eye on this blog because some big things are coming soon. I have a big giveaway planned for next week and am in the process of making some design changes that I plan to unleash in January.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Organizing Your Closet Door

I'm not at home today - I'm guest posting over on I Dream of Clean.

I will pause here while my friends and family laugh themselves silly. They have, after all, seen my house. I think it's pretty apt. I often dream of it being clean.

Anyway, I am guest posting on I Dream of Clean. Come over and check out the many uses for over the door shoe racks that you might not have thought of before!

No matter how many cabinets and closets exist in your house, you are probably looking for more
storage. We all either need more places to cram our abundance of stuff, or – and this is really
more ideal – we are looking for more space to make ourselves a little more organized. If you have
ever begun looking for wasted space in your closets, it has probably been suggested that you look up and add another shelf.
That’s a great idea. For Yo Ming...

Read the rest of it here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Best Christmas Songs You've Never Heard - Part 1

Christmas is my absolute favorite time of year. I LOVE Christmas even more than chocolate, and that, my friends, is saying something. I particularly love Christmas music. It's been playing at my house since November 1. There are standards we all know that have been made into 1500 different versions. There are classics that get played over and over, whether we like it or not. (Side note: I once heard a radio station play Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer every fifteen minutes until they raised a certain amount of money for a local charity. Funny!)

Then there are songs. Wonderful little nuggets that might get lost amongst the old standbys. For the month of December I'll be highlighting a few of those. These have become some of my favorite Christmas songs, though they fly under a lot of people's radar.

SONG #1 - The Night Before Christmas, Brandon Heath

I love this song because it captures the real meaning of the gift of Jesus. We were disconnected from God, lost without hope, and floundering in sin, but then Jesus came and everything changed. What a fabulous reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.

SONG #2 - Born in Bethlehem, Third Day

These two songs go well together as The Night Before Christmas tells of the need for Christmas, this song pulls together the story and glory of Christmas.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Free Fiction Friday - Installment 1.7

It’s time for Fiction Friday! How does Fiction Friday work? Well, kind of like those old Choose Your Own Adventure stories, but with a lot more room. Read the installment of the story below. At the end, you’ll find a question. You the reader will get to determine what happens next. Leave a comment. I’ll pick one at random.  You get to determine where the plot goes. So read, enjoy, and tell me what you want to happen next.  

Past Segments:  123456


                The carriage rolled along at a steady pace. The occupants were in no hurry to get anywhere in particular and enjoyed the sights flowing by outside the window. Two of them did, anyway. Mrs. Ruggiford had grunted something about it being way too early in the morning, leaned her head back against the seat, and snored. Once the carriage was rolling steadily along the newly paved roads outside of London, Lord Clampton produced a small satchel of papers and had not looked up since.
                “Look!” Minnie pointed at a roadside peddler as they passed through a small village. “I haven’t seen one of those since coming to London! Oh, Olivia, he has feathers!”
                Olivia smiled at Minnie’s exuberance. Minnie’s life must have been sheltered indeed for her to maintain such a childlike demeanor at times. She was completely unprepared for Minnie’s next move, however.
                Minnie lurched across the carriage to bang on the wall. She stayed pressed against the window, watching the peddler and presumably keeping an eye on the tempting feathers. Olivia found herself knocked off balance and landed hard against Lord Clampton’s shoulder. His head jerked upright. His eyes met hers, growing slightly wider as their gazes connected.
                “I beg your pardon,” Olivia whispered. She attempted to right herself, but Minnie was still in the way. Olivia was effectively pinned against the man’s side. She had never touched him except for when they danced, and she found it very disconcerting.
                “And how are you enjoying the trip, Miss Bedford?”
                Olivia could hear the smile in his deep baritone and found herself smiling in return, even as she looked in the other direction.
                “Quite well, thank you.”
                Minnie half sat on the seat, waiting for the carriage to come to a complete stop. “They look perfect from here! What town are we in?”
                Olivia tried to shift once more, but found herself having to lean sideways because of Minnie’s new position. She was practically resting her head on Lord Clampton’s shoulder. She could feel him craning his neck to look out the window without dislodging her precarious balance.
                “I must confess, I am not sure. I haven’t been paying attention. Why are we stopping?”
                “Feathers,” Olivia said.
                “For my hat,” Minnie added.
                The footman opened the door and Minnie all but jumped from the carriage, giving Olivia some desperately needed space. She straightened her skirts and then followed her new friend out of the conveyance and over to the peddler’s cart.
                “Oooo, look at them, Livvy. You don’t mind if I call you Livvy do you? How did they manage to get this particular shade of green, do you think?” Minnie fingered the long, green feather.
Olivia opened her mouth to answer but she never got a chance.
“I like the green, but I already have two different shades of green on the hat. Of course, they aren’t feathers. I have a ribbon and a flower. Maybe the blue one would be better? I think this shade would go well with red and purple. ”
Olivia looked back over her shoulder at the carriage. Somewhere in there was apparently a monstrously colorful hat. She was starting to think that preparing Minnie for a successful season was going to be harder than she originally thought.
Eventually Minnie settled on selecting the green one that originally caught her eye. She trotted back to the carriage holding the feather like a trophy.
She stepped gracefully up into the carriage, showing a glimmer of the potential lady she could turn into. Olivia shook her head as she followed more slowly.
She reached the carriage and found Lord Clampton’s eyes watching her closely from behind his papers. Her palms began to sweat under the scrutiny. She focused all of her attention on making it into her seat without stumbling. She situated her skirts and looked up intending to say something about the green feather.
She froze, mouth gaping open, eyes widening to a size she would have thought impossible.
                In the seat across from her, Olivia was busy securing her new feather treasure to the most atrocious, ridiculous, and appalling hat ever created.
                The wide brimmed bonnet was trimmed in white lace. The light green ribbons trailed to the floor of the carriage. A cluster of mismatched flowers, including the infamous green one, clustered along the crown. Minnie was industriously working the end of the feather into the trimming so that it would dance in the air behind the wearer’s head.
                “Guh…” Olivia darted a glance at Lord Clampton, only to find him staring at her from behind his raised papers. One eyebrow slowly climbed towards his hairline.
                Olivia jerked back towards Minnie. “That’s an interesting hat.”
                Minnie turned the bonnet this way and that, admiring her handiwork. “I know. It’s my travel hat. I started it when I left Cornwall. I picked up this ribbon on my first real London shopping trip.”
                Carefully Minnie sat the hat back in the black box at her feet. She closed the lid with an affectionate pat. “I think it’s beautiful.”
                Olivia wasn’t sure what to do. The idea of Minnie actually wearing that ridiculous headpiece anywhere was appalling, but how to tell her that without demeaning her special keepsake? She cleared her throat to stall having to say something.
                “It is so important to remember the journeys in our life,” Olivia began. “Just think how much fun it would be to display it on a statue in your bedroom when this trip is over. You could see it every morning and smile.”
                “Oh, what a fabulous idea. Thank you so much, Olivia.”
                Olivia looked at Lord Clampton out of the corner of her eye. It was amazing how important his opinion had become to her in just a matter of days. He smiled and looked back at his papers.
                Minnie turned back to the window, exclaiming over a grazing herd of sheep.
                Olivia’s gaze kept returning to Lord Clampton. It was obvious that his family, particularly his sister, was extremely important to him. She was beginning to believe that his asking her to accompany Minnie on this trip was about much more than companionship. The responsibility felt heavy indeed.
                Mrs. Ruggiford snorted, drawing Olivia’s attention. The older woman’s eyes were only half open, but it was still enough for Olivia to distinguish the wink that came in her direction. Apparently the others saw the hat as some sort of test and Olivia had passed. It made her feel like she had done something truly worthwhile.
                With a feeling of purpose that had been missing in her life for a long while, she joined Minnie in her perusal of the countryside.

Next week our traveling party will be stopping at the house of Lord and Lady Bromley to spend the night. They are going to be surprised by the fact that they are holding a large dinner party. What’s going to happen to out soon-to-be happy couple? Will some other man ask Olivia to dance and make John wildly jealous? Will they all get food poisoning? Toss out your ideas in the comments below.

Comments are now closed. Please check for the next section of the story.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Life Lessons From European Chocolate

I am a chocoholic. Seriously. I love it. I crave it. I get really cranky without it. But over time here is what I have discovered: one small piece of really nice European chocolate will satisfy that craving as well if not better than an entire candy bar.
(Photo by hozinja from Flickr)

Our spiritual life is like that. Communication with God is essential to the healthy Christian life. Our spirit craves that Word from God. Sometimes we stuff ourselves with sermons, devotionals, inspirational tweets, and even Christian fiction when what we really need is a small piece of the real Word. All of that other stuff is great and can really enrich your life, but never substitute the good stuff for the really good stuff. Get in the Bible. You'll be so much more satisfied.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope all of you are having a fabulous day filled with whatever makes you and your family special and happy. I experimented with making cinnamon swirl pancakes for my family's brunch this morning. The results didn't look a thing like the picture I found on the internet, but they sure were yummy!

Because of the holiday, I won't be putting up a new installment for Fiction Friday this week. We'll have to wait until next week to discover what's in the box! So instead of leaving a comment about Olivia's story, throw in what you're thankful for.

I am thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and my loving, supportive family. What about you?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Traditional Smaditional

Thanksgiving is only two days away. I hope you are planning a wonderful long weekend doing whatever you need the most. For some of you, it's visiting family that you haven't seen in a while. For others, it's opening up your home to share your blessings with friends. Then there are others, like me and mine, who really need a weekend to do nothing.

December is crazy hectic for us, like it is for a lot of families. This weekend, no one expects us to be anywhere, do anything, or talk to anyone. It's a fabulous opportunity to retreat and recharge in preparation for the frenzy that is December.

photo by scubadive67 on Flickr
I am fortunate enough to have family that is somewhat local and we'll be meeting up with them to stuff ourselves with turkey and dressing. Lots and lots of dressing. In my family, the dressing takes center stage. At times over the years the turkey has been switched out for ham or even barbecue, but the dressing... All out mutiny would occur if my mother did not make dressing. She makes the equivalent of a full size sheet pan every year. There are no leftovers.

So this year, forget traditional. I have never in my life seen a whole, cooked turkey carved at the Thanksgiving table, and I am just fine with that. Your family traditions don't have to be traditional. They are the things that bond and define your family and friends and make the holidays truly special. This year, throw traditional out the window and make some of your own unique traditions.

What are some of your unique family traditions?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Free Fiction Friday - Installment 1.6

It’s time for Fiction Friday! How does Fiction Friday work? Well, kind of like those old Choose Your Own Adventure stories, but with a lot more room. Read the installment of the story below. At the end, you’ll find a question. You the reader will get to determine what happens next. Leave a comment. I’ll pick one at random.  You get to determine where the plot goes. So read, enjoy, and tell me what you want to happen next.  

A note of consistency – I made a mistake in last week’s segment and referred to Olivia as Lady Olivia. This is inaccurate as her father is a Viscount. She would be Miss Bedford. Sorry about that!

Past Segments:  12345


                Olivia raised her hand, attempting in vain to hide a yawn that was anything but delicate. The sun was just starting to peak into the front drawing room as she waited for Lord Clampton and his sister and aunt to arrive. It was an unspeakably early hour by city standards. On a normal day she would still be ensconced within her covers, either deep in slumber or lazily stretching in preparation to rise for the day.
                Today, however, was not a normal day. She had no idea how punctual Lord Clampton expected her to be, but until she got to know him better she figured she should err on the side of caution. His note the day before said they would be leaving his house at half past seven. Olivia figured this meant they would be arriving at her house to pick her up around eight o’clock at the earliest.
                Even her father had shaken his head at the ridiculousness of the hour. Olivia smiled as she remembered him kissing her on the cheek and telling her to have a nice trip. He intended to sleep until a more civilized hour.
                The morning chill dampened her cheek as she rested her head against the window pane and allowed her eyes to drift close. She probably had time to take a short nap. There was little chance he had actually left his house at half past seven, given there were two women in his party that would not be as hesitant to make him upset or tell him to wait. A strong knock on the door startled her into complete wakefulness.
                Lord Clampton was standing in the doorway as she rushed into the front hall.
                “Ah, good. I was worried you would be one of those women who did not value time and punctuality.”
                “You’re here.”
                Lord Clampton’s eyebrows climbed. “Of course. We are heading out of London today.”
                “But it’s just now eight o’clock.” Olivia gestured at the elaborate clock hanging on the wall.
                Lord Clampton turned to the butler, obviously seeking sanity from the only other person in the room. The loyal servant simply turned away and called for a footman to come carry her trunk out to the carriage.
                Lord Clampton cleared his throat. “I believe the note said we would be leaving my house at half past seven.  I had thought we would have been here a quarter of an hour ago.”
Olivia paled. “Of course,” was the only thing she could think of to say.
The footman came and carried her trunk out to be added to the pile of luggage already secured to the back of the vehicle. Lord Clampton stepped aside and offered Olivia his arm. Bemused, she placed her hand on his elbow. As they made their way to the carriage, she couldn’t help but think that this trip was going to be far more important than just an escape from London.
Minnie was all but bouncing in her seat as Olivia climbed into the carriage. “Good morning!”
Mrs. Ruggiford, sitting in the seat next to her, grunted and rolled her head back against the plush squabs. “Not morning. Middle of the night.”
Olivia bit her lip. She was awkwardly poised halfway into the carriage, unsure what to do. Minnie and her aunt were seated in the forward facing seat. Riding backward never bothered Olivia, but sitting in the other seat would mean sitting next to Lord Clampton, which really wasn’t a proper thing to do.
“Is there a problem, Miss Bedford?”
Olivia winced at the testy voice behind her. “No problem,” she called loudly. She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Minnie, I’m afraid you’re going to need to switch seats.”
“Oh!” The young girl’s eyes grew wide and she began to gather her skirts.
Mrs. Ruggiford’s hand shot out and grabbed her niece, her head still relaxed against the back of the seat. “Gets sick on the road. Can’t sit backward.”
Minnie looked sharply at her aunt before relaxing back into the seat with a chagrined shrug. “I’m afraid that is true.”
“Oh.” Olivia turned to the aunt. It went totally against the grain to ask an older woman to inconvenience herself at all, but in this case, she didn’t see the alternative. “Mrs. Ruggiford, I’m afraid I have to request –“
“I’m comfortable. And I’m old. I promise not to tell anyone where you sat.”
“Oh. Well…” Olivia supposed there wasn’t anything for it. She moved on into the carriage and began arranging her skirts in the backward seat.
Lord Clampton climbed in behind her. The seating arrangement gave him a moment of pause as well. Without a word, he sat next to Olivia, angling to lean against the side of the carriage to leave as much empty seat as possible between them.
The carriage rolled through the quiet streets of London. The occupants of the carriage were just as quiet until all they could see through the large windows was a constant line of trees.
Minnie was, of course, the one to finally break the silence. “This is so exciting. I’ve never even left Cornwall before.”
Olivia smiled at the girl’s exuberance. It was hard to remember sometimes that they were very close in age. “I suppose you’ll have to get used to it. After this trip you’ll be preparing for your London season.”
“That’s true. Mother was originally going to bring me this year but she said I need to practice talking more first and suggested this trip through the countryside. What do you suppose she meant by that? She’s always told me that I talk to much.”
Olivia took a moment to gather her thoughts. “I suppose she wants you to learn to converse on polite society topics. Have you been to any of the local society?”
“Yes, I’ve been to the assembly rooms and several card parties in Cornwall. My story of the pigs getting into the garden gathered everyone’s attention at Mrs. Coleson’s dinner party.”
Olivia’s heart went out to Minnie. “I think, perhaps, your mother is telling you that stories about pigs aren’t the best thing for London ballrooms.”
“I didn’t think of that.” Minnie’s eyes were wide enough to see white clear around the blue centers.
“Don’t you worry. Next year, we shall take London by storm. We’ll have lots of time on this trip to go over the proper things to talk about.”
Minnie clapped with glee.
Olivia turned her head to look out the window. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Lord Clampton staring at her. His lips were turned in a small smile and his eyes were kinder than she ever remembered.  With a blush she turned back towards Minnie. Her attention was caught by a black box on the floor, half hidden by the girl’s skirts.

Well, readers, we have a small friendship growing between our soon-to-be lovebirds. Both want to see Minnie have a successful season in London next year. That will continue to progress. In the meantime, what do you think is going to be in the box? Is it exciting? Boring? Edible? 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Just For Fun - Best Book Trailer Ever

I got this from Ane Mulligan who got it from Steve Laube. Don't you just love the internet?

This video is a great giggle, even aside from the fact that it's a book trailer. This is the type of book trailer that is actually effective.

How Sermons Work from HeadHeartHand Media on Vimeo.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Free Fiction Friday - Installment 1.5

It’s time for Fiction Friday! How does Fiction Friday work? Well, kind of like those old Choose Your Own Adventure stories, but with a lot more room. Read the installment of the story below. At the end, you’ll find a question. You the reader will get to determine what happens next. Leave a comment. I’ll pick one at random.  You get to determine where the plot goes. So read, enjoy, and tell me what you want to happen next.  

Past Segments:  1234


                Awkward silence reigned as everyone entered the dining room. Servants were still hastily rearranging table settings to accommodate the larger than expected party.  Olivia winced in sympathy for her mother. When the numbers were only one off - three ladies and two gentlemen - they would have been able to situate themselves without being too obvious of the disparity. Now there were two extra ladies. No one could help but notice.
                "Bit of a bungle," Mrs. Ruggiford said with a sniff.
                Lady Bedford opened her mouth to defend herself. She gave a small sigh and let it close without saying anything. There really wasn't anything to say. Lord Clampton's aunt had said it all.
                Everyone stood in a huddle just inside the doorway, ready to eat but unsure of where to sit. Finally Lord Bedford stepped forward and offered his arm to Mrs. Ruggiford. "Madam, I would be honored if you would sit next to me."
                "Be glad to. Minnie, you talk well enough. You can sit on my other side." Mrs. Ruggiford took Lord Bedford's arm and made her way to the table, towing a willing Minnie in her wake.
                Lady Bedford scooted past Lord Clampton and settled in at the head of the table. Lord Clampton sat across from his sister with Olivia to his right. Another awkward pause filled the room as they discovered that with this seating arrangement, even if the gentlemen were to offer the food to the ladies on either side of them, Minnie would be left without.
                "She's got two hands that work perfectly well," Mrs. Ruggiford stated. To emphasize her  point she grabbed up a platter of turkey and offered it to her niece. As Minnie helped herself and giggled uncontrollably, Mrs. Ruggiford passed a sweeping glance around the table at her other companions. "One day we'll all laugh about this."
                Her forthright attitude seemed to put everyone at ease, and Olivia realized what made her such a popular person, despite her uncommon behavior. She had an ease about her that made you comfortable, even with her blunt, shortened phrases. She realized she had seen Mrs. Ruggiford around town before, but never realized her connection to Lord Clampton. Mrs. Ruggiford was one of the matrons that everyone liked but nobody talked about.
                "I'm so excited about our trip." Minnie giggled some more as she speared a potato with her fork. "John says we're going to meander our way up to Birmingham. After a nice long visit with Lady Mulligan, we can either take the long way back to London or come straight back. Aunt Lillian says there is the most amazing jeweler there who can make absolutely anything. I'm going to dream up the most intricate piece I can think of and commission it. Then I can wear it around town next year and amaze everyone."
                Lady Beford smiled, then covered it with a cough. "I did not realize this trip was going to be so long. You'll miss most of the season, Olivia. I'm not sure how I feel about you missing that many opportunities. Are you sure you want to take this trip without having your future settled?"
                Olivia felt her face heat. This dinner was such a farce already, would anyone notice if she crawled under the table? Her mother's very pointed look in Lord Clampton's direction told everyone what she was thinking, if they didn't catch her veiled meaning in the first place.
                "Speak up, lad." Mrs. Ruggiford grinned at her nephew. "Are you going to save her daughter's reputation?"
                "Her reputation is not in danger, aunt. You are going to be in attendance the entire time." Lord Clampton's neck began to redden.Perhaps he wanted to join her under the table, Olivia thought. Immediately she decided that was a bad idea. Her mother would take that as an excuse to instantly send an announcement to the Times.
                "She can keep him in line, Lady Bedford. You have nothing to worry about." Minnie reached a reassuring hand over to her hostess. "When we were younger, Aunt Lillian always found out when John was getting into mischief. Once he and his friend William were playing Rounders out behind the stable."
                "Minnie," Lord Clampton growled.
                Minnie ignored him. "They wouldn't let me play, because I was a girl and so much smaller than they were. Looking back it's understandable, really. Aunt Lillian wouldn't have said anything if they had just refused to let me play -"
                "Don't bet on it. Girl can play rounders. Hit it far enough and you can walk the diamond." Mrs. Ruggiford stuffed a carrot in her mouth with a decisive nod.
                "They threatened to play with my doll's head instead of the ball."
                "Miniford." Lord Clampton sounded like he was in actual pain.
                "Aunt Lillian said if he wanted to play with a doll he could have just said so, instead of making me cry in order to do it. She made him carry a doll around everywhere for an entire week."
                Lord Clampton sighed. Olivia muffled a laugh with her napkin. He looked so miserable that Olivia leaned slightly to the side to whisper encouragement. "That isn't so bad, really."
                "It gets worse," he mumbled.
                Minnie's grin got even wider. "He tried to hide it by carrying it in a bag or under his cloak, but it was summer so he looked rather odd in his cloak, too."
                "Just skip to the end, Minnie. Food's getting cold." Mrs. Ruggiford pointed at her niece's untouched plate.
                "Oh, very well. He had this elaborate plan to walk with me into church so the doll could be between us and everyone would think it was mine, but then I got sick and couldn't go. When he got caught with the doll he told everyone that since I had to miss church, I sent the doll to listen to the sermon for me."
                Laughter flittered around the table.
                Lady Bedford eyed her guest again. "That was a very sweet idea, Lord Clampton. Thinking like that will make you a wonderful father some day."
                Olivia groaned.
                "You want to invite another chaperon, John?" Mrs. Ruggiford asked. "Might take more than just me to satisfy Lady Bedford.
                Olivia grinned. Now it was her mother's turn to blush.

                Next week, our little band of travelers will head out of London. Obviously this will be no ordinary little road trip -we have a couple to get together! What do you think should happen to start that little spark of romance between John and Olivia? Is something going to happen that makes him see her differently? Is she going to realize how kind her really is and get a crush on him? Leave a comment below to move the story along.

Comments are now closed. Please look for the next installment in the story.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Life Lessons from MarioKart - Volume 2

I like playing MarioKart. Recently I have been trying to achieve a star ranking on each of the Grand Prix sets. I started this because 1) it's more fun if you're playing towards a goal and 2) achieving star rank in all 8 sets on a particular level is supposed to unlock something in the game.

Imagine how upset I was when after many, many, MANY attempts I finally won star ranking on the final race in the set... and didn't win anything.

Sometimes it seems like we work and work and work for something, and when we finish, the reward just isn't there. Our spiritual lives can feel like that. We read our Bibles, spend some time in prayer, and still life seems like a huge mess. Where is the reward?

Well, in MarioKart the reward is that I'm now a much better player. I've spent some quality time with my kids playing the game. I've discussed strategies with my husband. I got a blog post out of it. And, possibly most importantly, I'm that much closer to being able to kick my brother's tail in our next MarioKart rematch.

In our spiritual lives the reward is so much bigger. We've spent some quality time with the Creator of the Universe. We've discussed theology with our fellow Christians. We get something to think about. And, possibly most importantly, we're that much more ready to handle the next curve ball life throws at us.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Free Fiction Friday - Installment 1.4

It’s time for Fiction Friday! How does Fiction Friday work? Well, kind of like those old Choose Your Own Adventure stories, but with a lot more room. Read the installment of the story below. At the end, you’ll find a question. You the reader will get to determine what happens next. Leave a comment. If one suggestion gets overwhelming support, the story will go that direction. If they’re all equally supported, I’ll pick one at random.  You get to determine where the plot goes. So read, enjoy, and tell me what you want to happen next.  

Past Segments:  123


                Olivia picked imaginary specks of dirt from her skirts as she sat in the drawing room later that evening. Her parents chatted quietly in the corner, displaying none of the anxiety that swallowed Olivia as she awaited the arrival of their dinner guests.
                At the moment, the house was peaceful and calm. A servant quietly slipped past the drawing room door on her way to who knew what chore. A mere hour ago, the house had been in total uproar. Olivia grimaced as she remembered her mother had not let her get past the name of their expected guests before she began scurrying around, adjusting the menu, demanding the drawing rooms and dining rooms be cleaned once more.
                Olivia decided that she really should let them know why the viscount and his sister were coming to dinner.
                Olivia shifted in her seat and cleared her throat. “Mama? Papa?”
                Her parents turned toward her. Lady Bedford raised both her eyebrows in inquiry at her daughter. “Yes, dear?”
                “Lord Clampton is coming for dinner tonight.”
                Her parents exchanged confused glances. Her father cleared his throat. “We are aware of that. I do believe it’s why your mother has been scrambling about all afternoon.”
                “Yes, well, you see, he’s coming for a reason. He wants to discuss details and things with you-“
                “Thank heavens!” her mother cried, clasping her hands to her chest. “I thought you would go all season without even a serious suitor the way you despise all the social events we have attended. And now you’re going to get married!”
                “What?” Olivia paled. “No, Mama, I’m not-“
                “My dear, did you hear? Olivia’s engaged!”
                Lord Bedford scratched his head as he looked back and forth between his wife and daughter. “I think she’s trying to tell you –“
                “Do you think it’s too late to add chicken to the menu tonight? We really should make it a celebratory –“
                Lady Bedford blinked. “What, dear?”
                “Lord Clampton, Miss Clampton, and Mrs. Ruggiford.”
                Everyone froze as the butler announced the arrival of their dinner guests. Olivia winced as her mother gasped next to her. Mrs. Ruggiford must be the aunt. Olivia hadn’t known the aunt was coming and therefore her mother didn’t know the aunt was coming which meant the housekeeper didn’t know either and by extension the staff who prepped the dining room would be clueless as well. This was not good.
                Lord Clampton entered, a young woman with wide green eyes and an even wider smile on his arm. Behind him, seeming a big preoccupied with the fit of her glove, was an older woman Olivia guessed to be the aunt.
                “Good evening,” Lord Clampton said.
                The words broke the odd spell holding Olivia’s little family captive in the middle of the drawing room rug. Lady Bedford sprang forward, a huge smile on her face.
                “Welcome, Lord Clampton, we are so excited to see you. May I be the first to offer you felicitations?”
“Well, yes. For your upcoming marriage?”
Lord Clampton’s eyebrows rose. “Whom am I marrying?”
Lady Bedford seemed instantly flustered. “Well, Olivia said – I thought –“
“Oh, they’re not getting married.”
The Bedfords all turned to the girl on Lord Clampton’s arm. She giggled.
“Unless, of course, they fall in love on the trip. Wouldn’t that be fun? I’m so excited about the trip. We were going to be traveling anyway, and I love my aunt – really, I do – but it would be so tiresome with only her and my big brother for company. Now that Lady Olivia is coming with us, it’s sure to be all sorts of fun, don’t you agree? You do bring up a very intriguing idea, though, Lady Bedford. If Lady Olivia’s company is half as good as John says it will be, I shall make it my life’s work to see that they fall madly in love so that I can keep her with the family forever. “
Olivia’s mother blinked very slowly. Her father’s mouth fell slightly open.
Olivia felt her eyes get wider and wider as the speech progressed. Did this young lady possess any social skills whatsoever?
Finally, Lord Bedford turned to his daughter. “You’re going on a trip?”
Olivia opened her mouth to speak, but Lord Clampton’s sister’s voice filled the room first.
“Oh, yes! We’re taking Aunt Lillian up to visit her particular friend, Lady Mulligan. We call her Aunt Bertha, even though she’s of no real relation to us. We plan on taking our time and seeing some of the country as we go. I’ve never been outside of Cornwall until coming to London this year. John says it would benefit me to travel a bit and meet people in the country before my coming out next year.”
“I, uh, think that might be wise,” Olivia murmured. What had she gotten herself into?
Lord Clampton, whose given name evidently was John, visibly squeezed his sister’s hand, a pained look on his face. Oblivious, the young girl simply smiled up at him and patted his hand reassuringly.
Lord Clampton sighed. “Sister dear, this is Lady Olivia and her parents, Lord and Lady Bedford. Lady Olivia, may I present my sister, Lady Miniford and my aunt –“
“Please, call me Minnie. That’s what my family calls me and we shall be such good friends on this trip that I know we’ll be just like family.”
Olivia couldn’t help but smile. Once one got past the shock of the verbal onslaught, the girl was really quite sweet. With a little guidance on thinking before she spoke, Lord Clampton’s sister would be able to take London by storm during her debut Season. Olivia decided she was just the person to make that happen.
“Minnie, I insist you call me Olivia.” When Minnie took a deep breath, preparing to launch into yet another surely inappropriate monologue, Olivia broke her mother’s rules of decorum and held a hand up in front of the girl’s face. “Now, now, let’s not try to get to know everything about each other right now. We’ve many miles of road ahead of us to share all those wonderful little tidbits. For now, we should let my parents discuss the details of the trip with your brother. The sooner everything is settled, the sooner we can be off.”
Minnie nodded enthusiastically, light brown curls dancing around her head.
Lord Clampton sighed in relief. His eyes met Olivia’s and she thought there might be a hint of gratitude in their depths.
Mrs. Ruggiford picked that moment to enter the conversation. “Thin enough as it is. No need to waste away while you people yap. When do we eat?”
Silence once more reigned in the drawing room.
Finally Lord Clampton laughed and offered Mrs. Ruggiford his arm. “May I escort you to dinner?”
                The older woman nodded. “More like it.”
                Olivia trailed the group down the hall, a small smile on her lips. Her trip would surely be anything but boring. It turned out dinner was going to be fairly exciting as well.

                Now that you’ve met the aunt and the sister, you know there’s going to be some hilarious social faux pas in their future, starting with dinner. What crazy thing do you think is going to happen? It can be the aunt or Minnie. Or maybe you’d rather see Olivia step up and do something crazy so that Minnie won’t be embarrassed?
Jacob and Elizabeth, I really love your suggestions even though they didn’t get selected this week. I think both of those ideas would make great books. Keep an eye out… one day your suggestions might just be on the bookshelf!

Comments are now closed. Check for the next installment. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


It's NaNoWriMo!

If you are not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it is National Novel Writing Month. You can sign up here to track your progress and talk to other writers. The idea is to buckle down and write a 50,000+ word novel in one month. I'm planning on spinning out the first draft of my next book.

Are you participating?

Monday, October 31, 2011

One Less $40 Christmas Present

What's your Christmas budget this year? How much do you think your friends and family will spend on you this year? Could you do without giving/getting one $40 Christmas present?

I've always heard about Operation Christmas Child. From time to time I would pack a shoebox. If you aren't familiar with Operation Christmas Child, it's a ministry through Samaritan's Purse. You place things like hygiene items, school supplies, and small toys in a shoebox and it's Christmas for a child in another country. This year I am actually working with the shoebox promotion and collection team. As part of that I've learned a lot more about what those shoeboxes can do.

So where does the $40 come from? Samritan's Purse asks for $7 donation with each box to help with processing and shipping. That leaves $33 which can make one bang-up shoebox. One thing we've been doing at our church this year is packing boxes and selling them to people who want to donate a shoebox but either don't have time or feel too intimidated to pack one themselves. Every box I've packed falls between $30 and $40 after the shipping donation.

So maybe this year instead of buying a pair of shoes you pack a shoebox for a kid in another country. It just might change their life.

To learn more about Operation Christmas Child, go to http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/OCC/. Deadlines for donations are coming up soon. Check the website to find out where you can drop off your shoebox.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Free Fiction Friday - Installment 1.3

It’s time for Fiction Friday! How does Fiction Friday work? Well, kind of like those old Choose Your Own Adventure stories, but with a lot more room. Read the installment of the story below. At the end, you’ll find a question. You the reader will get to determine what happens next. Leave a comment. If one suggestion gets overwhelming support, the story will go that direction. If they’re all equally supported, I’ll pick one at random.  You get to determine where the plot goes. So read, enjoy, and tell me what you want to happen next.  

Past Segments:  12


                Olivia entered the drawing room only moments before the butler appeared at the door to announce the arrival of Lord Clampton, Viscount of Chesterfield. Her heartbeat sped up a bit in anticipation. The anticipation had nothing to do with the man itself and everything to do with the potential adventure that awaited her. At least, that was what she kept repeating to herself as she waited for him to enter the drawing room.
                She dressed carefully today, selecting a muslin gown in the palest of lavenders. Her mother claimed that it made her eyes look more lavender than gray. Her father said it was lovely, which really didn’t mean much since he said everything on her was lovely. Most importantly though, was that she felt lovely in it. Pale purple ribbons formed geometric patterns along the sleeves and neckline while a vine of embroidered violets graced the hem.
                Lord Clampton strode into the room. He stopped abruptly and looked around the drawing room, eyebrows arched high over dark brown eyes. “Where is your mother?”
                “I believe she is discussing the week’s menus.”
                “Why isn’t she here?”
                “Because I didn’t tell her you were coming. This is not our normal ‘at home’ day. She was not expecting visitors.”
                Lord Clampton’s eyebrows lowered abruptly into a frown. “Why didn’t you tell her?”
                “I have demands.”
                He cleared his throat. “Demands?”
                “Yes.” Olivia perched on the edge of a light blue chair. Her mother had purchased the chair with its gracefully bowed legs and powder blue color specifically for Olivia to receive callers in. Choosing the fabric and style for the chair had been as tiresome as a trip to the modiste for wardrobe fittings.
                Lord Clampton settled into the sofa that angled off to her right.
She cleared her throat before continuing. “First, I would like to know what type of conveyance we shall be traveling in.”
“My coach.”
“I need more details, please.”
"What do you want to know? It's black on the outside, green on the inside. It has four wheels and plenty of room."
Olivia sprang to her feet, causing Lord Clampton to hastily rise from the sofa. She crossed the room to peer out the window. "Did you drive it here?"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Is that it? The coach we'll be taking?"
"Does this mean you've agreed to come?"
"No. I told you. I have demands." Olivia's face fell in disappointment as she inspected the vehicle pulled up in front of her house. "Please tell me that's not it."
A slight grin formed on Lord Clampton's face. "That's not it."
Olivia sat back down with a distracted nod. "Good. I would hate to have misjudged you. I expect you to have a much keener eye for quality than the town coach outside would indicate. I do hope you intend to replace it soon."
Lord Clampton froze in an awkward bent position, poised to sit back down upon the sofa. After a moment he cleared his throat and sat with a look of curiosity on his face. "Really?"
"Yes. In fact, I insist on it at least being a crane neck carriage if we are to travel long distances in it."
"Are those your demands?"
"Of course not. We are discussing practicalities at the moment. I understand that I will be going along to save you the trouble of conversing with your sister - "
Lord Clampton choked on air.
"- but who will be accompanying us to protect my reputation?"
"My aunt." Lord Clampton coughed discreetly into his handkerchief. "She tends to sleep in carriages and is not what one would consider good company on most days. She speaks in half sentences and mostly to herself, but she is respectable and in fact quite popular."
"Very good. And the coach? You still haven't answered me about the coach."
Again, the small self-satisfied smile graced Lord Clampton's face. "We shall be riding in a crane neck carriage. It even has elliptical springs and full glass windows. I trust that is of a high enough quality to satisfy your sensibilities?"
"Is that all, then?"
"No. We have addressed the necessary details. Now we shall discuss my conditions for acceptance."
"Your demands."
Olivia tilted her head in a small nod. "As you like."
"What is it you require above and beyond the removal from London? Dresses? Introductions? Prized invitations? I assure you my aunt can see to them all."
Olivia shook her head so hard the tight ringlets framing her face bounced back and forth in front of her eyes. "No, I'm afraid this will have to come from you."
"I'm not marrying you."
"I didn't ask you to. I have a book. I want you to pay to have it published."
Lord Clampton stared at her for a good ten seconds before taking a deep breath and opening his mouth. Nothing came out. Another ten seconds passed before he tried again. "A book."
"That you want to publish."
"Anonymously, I assume."
"Of course. I intend to use the name Mrs. Rochelle."
"And you want me to pay for it."
"That is my condition." Olivia held her breath and willed herself to remain calm. She wanted this desperately. Even if she managed to save half of her pin money every quarter it would take her years to save up the amount the publisher required. If Lord Clamption said no -   
                "Yes." Lord Clampton stood and made his way to the door. "We'll leave next week."
                "Come to dinner." Olivia restrained herself from clamping her hands over her mouth. Where had that come from? The invitation had blurted itself out before she even completed the thought.
                "Tonight?" Lord Clampton looked back over his shoulder, surprise evident on his face.
                "Bring your sister. I will have had a chance to talk to my parents by then. They will want to discuss details, I'm sure. This is a highly unusual situation, you know."
                "I know. Very well. My sister and I shall come for dinner." With a nod, he headed for the door once more.
                "Oh, and Lord Clampton?"
                He turned around again, eyebrows raised.
                "This bit about the book..."
                "We'll just keep that between ourselves, shall we?"
                "That would be nice."
                "Tonight, then." Lord Clampton nodded his head once more and left the drawing room.
                Olivia clapped her hands in glee. She was leaving London, escaping the hordes of dandies, and publishing her book. Life could not get any better.
                And then she met the sister.

                This week's question has to do with Lord Clampton's sister. What's she like? Is she a perfect lady, a total pill, a chatterbox, or something else entirely. Leave a description and, if you can think of one, the first sentence she'll say when she meets Olivia.

                Jacob and Elizabeth I hope you enjoyed seeing your plot elements in the story. I had to alter Elizabeth's a bit to fit the time period a bit more accurately, so I drew a second one as well.

This installment is now closed for suggestions.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Life Lessons From a Deer Stand

No, I didn't go hunting this weekend. I don't think I'll ever go hunting. I prefer to imagine my meat comes nicely packed in Styrofoam and plastic.

I did, however, attend a fall festival with my kids this weekend. Now, I've been to and participated in a lot of fall festivals in my day, but I've never found any of them particularly unique. Most of the time they're full of carnival booths and cake walks, hot dog plates and bounce houses. Occasionally you'll find one with a small hay ride.

This fall festival was really different. When we got to the church, we piled into a huge trailer lined with hay bales. They had two rigs running - two large tractors pulling hay filled trailers filled with people. The hay ride went through a large field, stopping occasionally to allow the passengers to get out and visit a series of booths. Each booth was set up in the back of a pick-up truck. At each one they told a Bible story and handed out candy to the kids. One of the booths was the story of Zaccheus. In order for the guy playing Zaccheus to be up a tree the whole time, he was sitting in a deer stand.

The whole thing was really neat. I stood at the top of the hill looking down on the set up and it struck me that there aren't a lot of churches that would have the resources to do what this church did - a large open field, access to lots of tractors and pick-ups, and, of course, a deer stand for Zaccheus. They took what they had and did something unique and engaging with it.

So many times we look at what we don't have and can't do because we see other groups or churches doing things a certain way. What we should be doing is seeing what we can do with what God has given us.

What resources do you have at your fingertips that would allow you to do something new and different?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fiction Friday - Installment 1.2

It’s time for Fiction Friday! How does Fiction Friday work? Well, kind of like those old Choose Your Own Adventure stories, but with a lot more room. Read the beginning of the story below. At the end, you’ll find a question. You the reader will get to determine what happens next. Leave a comment. If one suggestion gets overwhelming support, the story will go that direction. If they’re all equally supported, I’ll pick one at random.  You get to determine where the plot goes. So read, enjoy, and tell me what you want to happen next.  

Past Segments:  1


                “I have a proposition for you.”
                Olivia stumbled. The only thing that kept her from hitting the floor in an embarrassing heap was the tightening of Lord Clampton’s strong arm around her waist. He pulled her upright and propelled her into the next spin of the dance so fast, she was sure no one else noticed the near catastrophe.
                “I beg your pardon,” Olivia said once she caught her breath again. “I believe we should make for the edge of the dance floor, sir.”
                Lord Clampton’s grin leaned towards menacing. “You do not want to hear what I have to say?”
                “You have said quite enough.”
                “My, my, Lady Olivia, what could you possibly think I was referring to?”
                Olivia’s breath cut sharply into her lungs. Why was it that every time she dealt with the viscount, she was left feeling ridiculous? She refused to let him get the better of her this time. No matter what twist he tried to throw at her, she would not allow him to win this encounter.
                “What you meant matters not. I am not interested in any proposition of any kind from you.”
                “Even if it involves getting you out of London for the rest of the season?” Lord Clampton’s face was the picture of complete innocence.
                Olivia’s eyes narrowed. He could not know how much she longed to be anywhere but London. “You must be mad to think a young girl would want to leave London in the middle of her first season.”
                “I have watched you, Lady Olivia. You have not been enjoying yourself.”
                “You have – What do you mean you have watched me?”
                Lord Clampton shrugged. “I have watched many girls. You are the one who seems to suit my purpose best.”
                Why had no one told her he was insane?
                “My sister is traveling with me for the next couple of months. I am in need of a companion for her. I believe you would suit her needs admirably.”
                “Yes. You have heard of the concept, I assume.”
                “Of course, but… I am not in need of employment.” Olivia’s eyebrows drew together in confusion. She was grateful that the dance was drawing to a close. With any luck, they would be near the door at the close of the song. A trip to the retiring room was definitely in order. It was the only place she could be assured of not being asked to dance by anyone else.
                “I have no intention of paying you.”
                “Then what is in it for me?”
                The music ended. Olivia dipped low into a curtsy while Lord Clampton executed a much shallower, but elegant bow. “Have you ever left London?”
                Olivia didn’t answer. It was well known that her father preferred the city to the country. One of the things she had been looking forward to now that she was actually out in society was her first country house party invitation. Much to her mother’s chagrin, she loved to read about places beyond Hyde Park and Bond Street. Her main prayer was to marry a man who wanted to take her traveling. Could she really escape this matrimony madhouse and travel without getting married yet?
                Lord Clampton gently took her hand and looped her arm into his as he escorted her back to her mother. “I can see you’re thinking about it. I shall call on you tomorrow to discuss it in more detail. Please endeavor to be home at three o’clock.”
The next afternoon, Olivia paced back and forth in her bedroom. She glanced at the clock. It was a quarter to three. He would be here soon.
She tossed all night thinking about Lord Clampton’s offer. Breakfast that morning had been the deciding factor for her. Her mother dissected every moment from last night’s ball over coddled eggs and toast. The prospect of having every morning begin with a recitation of her uncomfortable encounters from the night before was daunting indeed. The alternative of actually seeing part of the country and putting off the husband hunt for another year was very appealing.
Ten to three.
Could she really do this? The potential contact with Lord Clampton would probably be enough for her parents to agree. He might be a viscount now, but he was in line for an earldom. He had an impeccable reputation, a solid family fortune, and a solid future.
Five to three.
Olivia took a deep breath. She looked out her window. The view was the same it had always been. The desire to see something, anything else was overpowering.
Three o’clock.
She pulled open the door of her bedroom and started downstairs. She would agree to accompany the viscount’s sister, but first she had a few requirements of her own.

What do you think? What is Olivia going to demand in return for providing companionship for Lord Clampton’s sister? Leave it in the comments below.  If you see one you like already, comment about it. Comments will close Thursday about noon-ish. The answer and the next installment will be up next Friday.                This week congratulations go to Alana. Hope you enjoyed seeing your plot line come to life!

This installment is now closed to plot suggestions. Please look for the next installment to make your recommendations.