Preorder and Land Updates

IMG_2588Bonjour, mes amis! C’est moi, Ellowyne Wilde. Yes, I’m as shocked to be writing this post as you are to be reading it. Then again, Laurie’s busy packing to leave on Wednesday for a writer’s conference in Texas, so who better to pick up the slack around here than moi?

I thought she’d forgotten about us dolls by the way the dust bunnies keep piling up, but today she surprised us with our own copy of Tinsel in a Tangle!

I’m told digital copies are now available for preorder, so if you would enjoy a light-hearted Christmas romance complete with snarky reindeer, cute Kringles, and a lovable, spirited, faulty elf, head on over to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iBooks. And if you know someone who would also enjoy such a read, please help us spread the word. 🙂

Another note of interest. Remember waaaaay back, about a year ago, when Laurie shared how God had led her and Hubby to purchase some land…and then gave them an inconvenient yellow light, prohibiting them from doing anything further with it? (You can read about that here.) Well, she and Hubby finally have a hearing with the County Planning Board on Wednesday to present their plans for a small subdivision. (All right, so it’s really just Hubby going, as Laurie will be sweltering in Texas by then, but she’ll be with him in her thoughts. Does that count?) If you’re a praying kinda person, prayers are appreciated that they might be able to move forward in this endeavor as they’ve been in limbo for almost two years now. They should know by October 10th if their plans are a go, and of course she’ll keep you updated.

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Panoramic of the land.

That’s it for now, though I wish it weren’t, as my peeps and I are still waiting for a fireplace. But since we have. No. Place. To. Put. It, once Laurie took down our shelves last summer, I won’t hold my breath. We’ve been waiting for that fireplace longer than she’s been waiting for a green light from God!

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Tinsel’s Cover Reveal…

At long last, it’s finally here! Tinsel’s book cover!

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I. Am. So. Excited! This has got to be my favorite part about the publication process so far. To see in visual form a taste of what I’ve only up to now imagined in my head and written down in black words is truly invigorating. Makes me giddy, like a kid on Christmas morning (pun totally intended). Kudos to AM Design Studios for creating a fantastic cover that’s already blessed my socks off!

I’m told pre-order will be available soon–yay! I’ll keep you posted on that, should you be interested. One thing to note: because Clean Reads is a small publishing company, the book is only offered in digital format until it reaches a certain number in sales, at which point it will be available in print on Amazon. So…if you’re like my daughter’s friend and want to wait until the paperback version comes out…and lots of other people decide to wait for a paperback copy…then the book will never make it into print. 😛 I know; a bit of a drawback, but my husband’s optimistic it’s just a temporary one.

In any case, this cover is mine to keep forever…and drool over any time I want. 😉

I Dedicate This Book To…

book-1760998_1920The other week, I briefly mentioned I plan to give the proceeds of Tinsel in a Tangle to a ministry that helps restore physical and spiritual health to girls rescued from sex trafficking. This week, I wanted to go into the details of why I came to that decision…but for some reason, this post has been a difficult one to write. I’ve already spent hours working on it and have restarted it many times. And each time, I’ve condensed it a little more, because really, it comes down to this: Over five years ago, God used a non-fiction book to alert me to a specific hurt in the world, soften my heart, and bring me to a place where, like Hannah dedicated her firstborn son to the Lord in 1 Samuel 1-2, I promised Him my first published book.

Why this particular ministry? If you’re looking for a grand link to my personal life, you won’t find one, save for the fact it hits close to one of my hot buttons: a passion for purity.

Contrary to the message today’s youth receive from Hollywood, books, and even schools, the act of sex has profound impacts on one’s mental, emotional, and physical health, and the careless way it’s handled in society is a grave misinterpretation of the truth. Our children are brainwashed into thinking so little of their bodies and the long-reaching consequences of sex, that younger and younger kids are partaking in what was meant to be a sacred expression of committed love between husband and wife alone.

There’s enough pain suffered among kids who feel pressured into sacrificing their virginity for a few minutes of pleasure, but for the sex traffic industry to forcefully subject a girl—or boy—to this abuse round after round, day after day, is pure evil. The devil laughs in the corner while the child suffers, and that gets my blood boiling.

cross-1517094_1920Yet God is a God of second chances. Of redemption and new life. And oftentimes He takes those issues and events the devil hopes will cripple us and He transforms them into beautiful testimonies that attest to His faithfulness, love, grace. How awesome would it be to give girls rescued from sex trafficking the help and opportunity needed to change their horrors into gleaming weapons forged against the enemy?

And right there, I think, is part of my problem in writing this post. Right there is part of why I’ve been inundated with ramped-up negative self-talk these past few months. The devil doesn’t want me to make my intentions known. He hates the fact I want to use my talents for God’s glory. He hates the fact that, despite the fears, vulnerabilities, and doubts with which he’s tried to shackle me, I’ve continued to press forward in writing. He hates that I’ve dedicated Tinsel to the Lord, and he’s intent on using my weaknesses against me to make me feel small and pathetic and worthless so I’ll hide behind my insecurities and let this book’s potential die unknown.

He’s trying. So. Hard.

And there are times I’m mentally too exhausted to fight back. But as I write this, I’m reminded that 2 Tim 1:7 says, “God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power and love, and self-discipline,” and I’m loathe to let the devil win this round when he’s already lost the war.

book-2363881_1920I would love you to partner with me in this. If you end up reading Tinsel in a Tangle and you enjoy it; if it gives you a chuckle and brightens your day, would you please spread the word among your friends and family? And maybe even consider leaving a review on Amazon? More and more these days, reviews are crucial in giving an author and his/her book exposure. On Amazon, in particular, once a book hits 50+ reviews, Amazon will circulate that title in its newsletters, giving it even further exposure.

My platform is small. I’ll be doing a cover reveal less than a month before my book releases (don’t be surprised if you see me in your inbox again this week). I have yet to send out ARCs or get book swag made (can’t exactly do those without a cover image). Marketing help is going to be on the slim side. In the publishing world, from the different articles I’ve read, this means Tinsel in a Tangle doesn’t stand much of a chance at succeeding; there’s certainly a lot stacked against it. But my Dad is the Creator of the Universe, and Scripture shows over and over again that He delights in revealing His power through impossible situations. I have no promise that He will choose to work that way in my situation, but I pray He will.

Whatever comes of this, I profess the words in Isaiah 25:1.

“O Lord, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them.”

Hot Off the Press

We interrupt your sporadically-scheduled posts to bring you an important announcement… (And if you saw the short version of this announcement on Facebook or Twitter, sorry for the repetition, but I’d be remiss not to share it with my followers here. 😉 )

lauriegermaine_background_logoThanks to the talents of a fabulous local web designer, Laura Parvey-Connors, I now have an author website! *happy dance* You can check it out here, or click on the recently-added “Author Website” tab at the top of this page. 🙂 If you choose to subscribe to my quarterly newsletters over there, you’ll receive a bonus chapter that precedes the events in my up-coming book, Tinsel in a Tangle. Think of it as a teaser, really, set up to reflect the tone of the book, hint at the flavor of dialogue you can expect to encounter, and give you a snapshot of the main characters. If you enjoy reading it, then I promise you’ll enjoy the book even more.

I can also promise (and I don’t make promises I can’t keep, much to my daughters’ frustrations) that all proceeds I receive over the life of this book will go toward helping restore physical and spiritual health to girls rescued from sex trafficking.

Yes, I will expand on that in another post.

In the meantime, since I’ve been pretty tight-lipped regarding Tinsel in a Tangle, you might be wondering what it’s all about. Here’s the back-cover summary of my YA Christmas fantasy… I hope you enjoy.

In the arctic town of Flitterndorf, generations of elves have worked alongside generations of Kringles, making gifts for believing children worldwide. Never have they endured a tall, blundering elf like Tinsel, however. Despite her setbacks, Tinsel’s determined to prove her worth by nabbing an internship at the Workshop. But when her latest mishap destroys gift reserves and puts Christmas in jeopardy, she lands a punishment mucking reindeer stalls for Santa’s hotshot grandson, Niklas. If she wants a second chance at that internship, she’ll have to collaborate with the twinkle-eyed flirt to redeem herself in everyone’s eyes—and do it without messing up. For one more calamity will not only bring about the holiday’s demise, she’ll be immortalized as the elf who shattered children’s faith in Santa Claus.

So not the way she wants to go down in history.

~Available October 3, 2017 wherever ebooks are sold.

We now return you to your sporadically-scheduled posts.

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Tinsel Doll Part II

Summers usually find me accomplishing far more knitting than writing. This summer is no exception. In some ways, however, I’ve still been able to hobnob with my book characters, since the items I knitted were for them. Here’s a snapshot of where I left them (and you) in Part I:

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Shortly after that post, I completed Tinsel’s face and hair…

…and then felt like I was staring at Adam and Eve.

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Er…let’s get some clothes on these kids, shall we?!

Again, the patterns I used come from Knitted Pirates, Princesses, Witches, Wizards, & Fairies, but every single item I’ve tweaked in some way.

Tinsel’s skirt (above left) came from the pattern to create the skirt in the above-right picture, but I made it shorter and added color work along the hem instead of the design in the original pattern. Then I added a snap at the back, rather than the called-for knitted bobble button (see Niklas’s lederhosen below).

I knit Tinsel’s bodice bigger around, knowing it would have to fit over part of her shirt, and I made the center ribbed section wider with the intent of later adding lacing, like real-life dirndl bodices.

The pattern called for the edge seams to be sewn together and the bodice slipped over the doll’s body, but I opted for sewing snaps on the back, instead, so I wouldn’t have to manipulate the doll or the piece of clothing.

Niklas’s shirt I knit before Tinsel’s, knowing I wanted to tweak hers. I made his longer in the body (even then, I should have knit at least another two rows) and relied on my knowledge of short row shaping to angle the top edge of each sleeve so they would come out at a 45-degree angle from the body of the shirt rather than a 90-degree angle.

And here’s Tinsel’s version of this shirt…

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For Niklas’s lederhosen, I not only knitted the pants longer than the original pattern, but I also wanted that stripe of color along the sides.

Lastly, for Tinsel’s apron, I had to make up the pattern myself, figuring out how many stitches I needed to begin with, how many stitches I needed to end with, and how many rows that would require to accomplish the overall effect. I’ll admit I calculated wrong…but thankfully it kinda worked in my favor. Nope, I’m not telling you how I miscalculated…

Yes, these kids need shoes. And coats. Clearly, a Part III’s coming at some point. The shoes look intimidating, though, and the coat I want to knit Tinsel will require a lot of tweaking…which I wasn’t in the mood to do just yet…so I started with Niklas’s coat. Oh. My. Goodness. What a huge undertaking! I’m only halfway done with it, and I’d guess it’s taken me longer to knit this first half than all these other clothes combined. :/ Let’s just say it begins with 200 stitches and slowly decreases by ten stitches every several rows. 200 tiny stitches. That’s more than I worked with when knitting my daughters’ blankets! Rest assured I’ll share the beast when I’m done.

Until then, happy crafting!

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That’s My Girl

Several years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to delve into the world of smartphones shortly after the iPhone 5 had been released. Cut to four and a half years and one battery replacement later, the antenna in my iPhone 5 finally went kaput last week. Though I can’t receive or make phone calls, I can still text and use Safari, so we were a bit slow to mosey into a Verizon store.

But it eventually happened, and my new phone arrived this past Friday. While I anticipated the FedEx truck rumbling down my driveway, I scoured Amazon for a new case. It was almost overwhelming, with all the choices available these days. Did I get another Eiffel Tower case…or maybe something with fairies? Those Christmas designs looked like fun, but several inspirational quotes had appeal, too.

This quote, in particular, stood out to me:

“You don’t have to wait to hear ‘Well done.’ If you do it right, you can know every day that God is smiling and saying, ‘That’s my girl.'”

I love that last part. Love the idea that God could be so informal as to say, “That’s my girl.” I know it in my head—that He’s with me every day, that He’s my friend (Romans 5:11)—but when Life takes a curve I wasn’t expecting, it’s hard for my heart to sense the reality of those intimate terms.

However. I do not like the part that says, “If you do it right…”

As a perfectionist and one who is sometimes overly concerned with making sure I’m following God’s will and doing it God’s way and careful not to step a toe out of line, I’m very much aware of my shortcomings and inability to do things right (parenthood, anyone?). How do we know if we’ve done things right, anyway? There’s no sign that flashes above us in reassurance. Sometimes He’ll whisper encouragement, but more often than not, all we can do is try to do things right. (I’m not talking about black and white moral issues. I’m talking about the gray areas. The areas where I can find examples for both sides of my argument/decision/situation, but it’s a matter of what God wants me and my family to do, not what He asked the Joneses to do once upon a time. Make sense?)

On occasion, my father-in-law has said, “The desire to please God pleases God.” And while that is a hard concept to believe when my head is full of murky, depressing thoughts, it gives me a sense of relief when I’m in my right mind. Plus, it correlates to parenting our children, doesn’t it? If my kids desire to please me, to obey me because they love me, that, in turn, pleases me. I’m far more understanding and patient with their blunders when I know their hearts are in the right place.

My heart is in the right place when it comes to following the Lord. I will not always get it right. I will lapse in moments of weakness, say and do things in moments of impatience or anger or when I’m on the defensive. But I’m trying my best.

So, I’m switching this saying around a little. Here’s what I think it should say:

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Image courtesy of Braelyn Germaine.

Now that’s something I wouldn’t mind splashed across my phone case.

But in the end, I went with a different inspirational quote that sums up everything in just a few words:

“If God is all you have, you have all you need.” John 14:8

What about you? Do you have a case that reflects part of your personality? If so, what does it look like? (I admit, I also went with the dancing fairy.) Or are you more sensible (as we all should be when toting around full-blown computer!) and use something like an Otterbox? If that’s the case, what would you rather see covering your phone? 😉 Leave a comment below–and if you have a brand you love, share that, too.

Did You Call Me or Not?

Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to become a published author before the age of forty. Never did I expect that dream to be such a thorn in my side.

Having grown up in a Christian home and coming to faith in Christ at a young age, I’ve long understood that God has a purpose for my life. That He has a calling for each of His children, and while the general calling looks the same—spread the life-giving news of love, forgiveness, and saving grace found in a relationship with Jesus Christ—He asks us to live it out in countless ways according to the unique gifts and talents He’s given us.

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Therein lay my problem. For over three decades, I have heard one story after another of writers feeling called by God to write, whether that was writing in general, or a specific book or series. But for me, I never felt called. I just knew I had a passion for it. On good days, I could write without worry, without second-guessing myself. On bad days, the doubts would creep in and I’d wonder if I was listening to my own selfish desires or if this passion was, in fact, from God. Oh, how I’ve wrestled with it. I’m sure you could find many posts on my blog under the “Writer’s Refuge” tab filled with my questioning, agonizing, pleading with the Lord to just tell me. Just tell me if You want me to write or not. I will give it up if You want me to.

Recently, one of my good friends and local writer buddies, Leah, started a new blog, justwriteinspire.com. Stoked for her, I visited the blog and clicked on the “About” page. The following is a little of what she had to say. (I’ve already shared this with her, so no worries I’m saying something that will hurt or offend her. 🙂 )

“While growing up, I never dreamed I would write. I wanted to be a singer and teacher–not an author.

“However…one day, a plot downloaded into my brain. I thought, someone should write that book. A year later, God planted an idea in my mind, ‘You write it.’ I fought the concept for years. I did not believe I could do it.

“God never gave up on me. He continued to whisper–over and over–‘You are a writer,’ until His words seeped, profoundly, into my heart and soul.”

~Leah, from justwriteinspire.com

At the time I read her words, the irony was not lost on me—how she had felt God’s calling in the area of writing when she hadn’t even been looking for it, while I had prayed for years and continued to question. But still, I smiled, genuinely happy for her.

Come the next day, dark thoughts had descended upon me, and I wasn’t smiling anymore.

I had planned to write that day after cleaning the bathrooms, but as I sprayed and scrubbed sinks and bathtubs, it occurred to me I didn’t have anything to write about. The characters in my two current WIPs weren’t talking, and I was plum out of ideas plot-wise. By the time I finished mopping the floors, I was a mental wreck. If I was supposed to write, why was it harder for me to make up stories than other writers? Maybe I was just fooling myself. Maybe I was a square peg trying to shove myself into a round hole.

So I cried. Hard. And I begged God to speak to me.

I. Needed. To. Know.

Did He want me to write or not?

In late March, I had been sharing my frustrations at Bible study about how my inner critic looks like Jesus, making it difficult for me to always know who’s talking: the critic or Jesus. Sitting beside me, one of my girlfriends promptly texted me this pic from Pinterest:

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I can’t begin to tell you how helpful it has been for me to see these differences written out so I can refer to them whenever I’m questioning the words inside my head. That day cleaning bathrooms, after reading how Leah had felt called to write her story, I remembered this picture and tried to reject the condemning, discouraging words rattling around inside my brain.

But I was weakening.

At last I fell across my bed, my chest aching in that deep way that makes you curl into a fetal position and sob from the core, sob without tears.

How?” I cried to God, glaring at the ceiling. “How can I fight these negative feelings about writing—how can I fight the devil’s lies and deceptions and attempts to bind me—when I don’t know if You want me to do this? How can I combat these attacks with Your promises if I don’t know You’re fighting with me in this area? I’ve wanted to write and be published since I was a kid. Have wanted to write to please You. So many others have felt called by You—why don’t I feel like You ever called me?”

I didn’t expect an answer right away. Hadn’t I pleaded with Him countless other times and received silence in return? Maybe if I kept an open mind and continued to lift up this specific prayer over the next several weeks, I’d recognize His answer…if it ever came.

But that day, God met me in my need, and almost before the question left my lips—“Why don’t I feel like You ever called me?”—a calm, comforting, gentle voice whispered to my spirit.

“Because it was what you already wanted to do. I didn’t have to call you onto a path you were already traveling.”

Oh.

Really?

In my case, yes, really.

And it makes me wonder if other believers can resonate with this.

Often in Christian circles, we get so focused on finding our purpose, finding our calling, our gifts, how we should edify the Church…but for the person who searches for that answer with a pure motive and comes up empty, this quest can be extremely frustrating and lead to feelings of inadequacy.

If that’s you…could it be you might already be on His path for you? Pray about it. Test it. Press into Him with an open heart. And be ready for when He answers.

Yes, I will still have bad days, moments when Negativity wants to tear me down and immobilize me. But now I can resist those thoughts and Satan’s attacks. Now I know writing is something God has called me to do.

And that dream of becoming a published author before the age of 40? Well, I signed a contract with my publisher a month before I turned forty, and my debut novel releases two months before I turn forty-one.

God’s timing is always perfect. And in this case, I’m thankful my timing wasn’t too far off. 😉

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