Tag Archive | Laurie Germaine

Tinsel Giveaway!

Oh, my–I really haven’t done a very good job keeping up with this blog, have I? Part of the reason for this is because I’m trying to devote more time to my WIP. I’d looooove to have it available for the 2020 Christmas season…which requires a whole lotta work before then (*whispers: because I’m only on draft #2).

The other reason is that with my oldest daughter in high school, a lot of my focus is geared toward helping her navigate being a Christian in a pubic high school system that is increasingly hostile to a person of faith, in a society that seems to have gone loco. There will likely come a time when I share my opinions and frustrations on this blog, but for now, they keep building up in my Notes app on my phone. 😉

So…what’s the occasion for this post?

It’s Christmas in July, folks! 😀

And this week I’m hanging out with Amanda Wen, a talented writer and professional cellist I met at the 2017 ACFW conference. One commenter on her site will win their choice of a paperback or ebook copy of my book, Tinsel in a Tangle. So whether you’ve hemmed and hawed on grabbing a copy for yourself, or you want to give a copy to someone you know would enjoy it, head on over to Amanda’s corner of cyber space and leave us a comment, even if it’s just to say hello! 🙂

I pray everyone is having a blessed summer!

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The Wait is Over

So…it’s been a while since I’ve posted. From my experience as a mom of 15+ years, we mothers seem to go from one busy season to the next busier season as our children grow, and my blog has taken a backseat to other priorities. But I thought I’d take a quick moment to share with you the latest in the life of this author.

As most of you know, last year, I entered my debut novel, Tinsel in a Tangle, in five different contests, and the last of which finally announced its winners a couple of weeks ago. Overall, my book baby did very well, as it finaled in the Selah Awards 2018 for First Novel, and The Wishing Shelf Awards 2018 for Young Adult Novel; and it won in the Royal Dragonfly Awards 2018 for Best Holiday Novel, and in the Literary Classics Awards 2018 for Best Holiday Novel and Best First Book.

This past weekend, Literary Classics held an award banquet for their winners in Rapid City, South Dakota. As it was “just” a nine-hour drive from our home, Hubby and I figured we’d take our daughters on a road trip. Of course, we had to visit Mount Rushmore and drive through Bear Country. 😉

I met some wonderful fellow authors while there, and learned a lot about what it means to promote oneself, as opposed to promoting one’s book, as many of these authors have a magnetic way about themselves that draws people to them…and ultimately to their books. I envy (in a good way) their seeming inhibitions when it comes to the promotional & marketing aspect a writer must handle these days, and I pray I can take some of what I witnessed and apply it to my own writing career moving forward.

So what’s next for me as an author? At the end of this month, I’ll be teaching a class on creative writing to a group of grade school students here in Helena, focusing on infusing life into our characters–and how that, in turn, helps with description and “show, don’t tell” in the narrative. I’m also still plodding my way through my sequel’s second draft, a frustration for me as I’d hoped to be on to draft #3 by now. But God has gently reminded me that writing is not my only calling in life, and my roles as wife and mother require as much–if not more–purposeful (and cheerful) attention right now. 😀

On that note, I will leave you with a few more shameless pics and go switch out the laundry–haha! I hope all you creatives out there are rocking it in your individual crafts!

Backward Encouragement

Even before I longed to become a published author, I wanted to become a stay-home mom. I would daydream about baking cookies with my kids in the kitchen, or reading books to them at night. Laughing with them on a family vacation, or having deep discussions cuddled in bed.

Never did I dream about the arguments, the bickering, the whining, the selfishness, the manipulation for power, the fight for control. Never did I consider the long-lasting effects of post-partum-turned-full depression, the mommy guilt inflicted by myself and society, the internal conflict when disciplining my children. 

There are some women who rock the role of “Mom”—at least it looks that way to those watching from a distance. But I think most of us would agree that being a mom is the most taxing job a woman can do. Nothing like having a child hang around to reveal our shortcomings: deficient in patience, abundant in anger. Lacking compassion, teeming with selfishness. Low on self-control, yet driven to control our children.

Suffice it to say, motherhood hasn’t turned out like I thought it would. And now, with my youngest halfway through sixth grade, I stand closer to the point in which my time of being the best influence in my children’s lives will come to an end. Considering I feel like I’ve spent much of that time messing up, it’s a depressing thought.

Where am I going with this? Well, this is actually supposed to be a post of encouragement. Back in November, when I wrote Light in the Darkness, I wanted to make sure I didn’t just talk the talk, but that I walked it, as well. Especially when it came to praying Scripture over me and my family. God had been making it clear He wanted me to work on what I said, how I said it, and tempering my initial emotional responses to different situations, so I took a couple weeks to read through Proverbs and write down any verses that spoke to me about words and tempers. (There are plenty of verses, mind you, but not all of them are applicable to my personal life.)

After jotting down the verses on 3×5 cards, I began to pray through them most mornings. I’m still praying through them. Actually, it’s more like craying through them, because I have yet to get to the third verse before I start crying.

I knew praying these verses wasn’t like saying some magical spell and *poof* my issues would disappear. On the contrary, I knew my challenges and “opportunities” to practice what I was praying would increase, so I was prepared for that. And I figured I’d be able to give you all a report on the positive results and encourage those of you who might be having similar struggles.

But I wasn’t prepared for still feeling like a failure three months later.

I thought surely by now I’d see some improvement. That I’d drop my kids off at the bus stop and come home with a light heart rather than a heavy one. That I’d keep my emotions in check when Hubby and I discussed the budget or vacation plans or politics (we have the same political view, I’m just a fatalist and he’s an idealist, so…). I suppose there are times I keep my mouth shut when I’d rather yell. Times I pause to listen when I’d rather speak. But it’s not often enough.

Okay, so how is this encouraging?

Because maybe you’re in the same boat. Maybe you’re praying Scripture over yourself and/or your family and you’re struggling. Maybe you’re trying to change in one or more areas and you feel you’re not getting anywhere. Maybe you figure this isn’t worth it and you want to give up.

I want to encourage you not to give up. Cuz I’m not giving up. Sometimes we have to dig in and fight over a long period of time in order to win a battle. Clearly, the devil doesn’t like what I’m doing and he’s determined to discourage me any way he can. (Usually that’s when we know we’re onto something good: if we’ve gained the devil’s attention.) But I refuse to pay attention to him this time. I will continue to pray Prov 16:24, that my words would be kind like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body (there’s a whole sermon in this one, given all we know today about the amazing properties of honey). I’ll continue to pray James 1:19a, my verse for the year (instead of a word for the year), that I would be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. And I’ll keep sharing my progress with you from time to time, even when it’s not going as well (or fast) as I’d like.

My hope is that by this time next year, I will not look, sound, or act like I do today. Not that I’ll have “arrived,” but I trust I will have taken several steps in the right direction. Because I only have a few years left to speak life into my kids; to love on them when they’re unloveable; to “direct them onto the right path, [that] when they are older, they will not leave it.” (Prov 22:6 NLT).

The Christian faith is not easy, contrary to what people outside the faith like to claim, but we’re called to persevere. God will not fail you or me. His words will not fail. And given what the world looks like right now, wrapped in His Word is the perfect place to be for our emotional stability, our sanity, our peace. So keep reading and keep praying. We will see progress eventually.

If you’re curious, here are some of the verses (NLT) that make me cry on a daily basis: 😉

Prov 10:11      The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain.

Prov 10:13      Wise words come from the lips of people with understanding.

Prov 10:19      Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. (This one makes me smile through my tears.)

Prov 10:21      The words of the godly encourage many.

Prov 10:31      The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice.

Prov 12:16      A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted. (I add “and incited, and angered, and annoyed…)

Prov 12:18      The words of the wise bring healing.

Prov 15:28a    The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking.

Prov 18:13      Spouting off before listening to the facts is both shameful and foolish. (How many times I’ve proven this one true! 😦 )

Prov 18:20      Wise words satisfy like a good meal; the right words bring satisfaction.

Prov 19:13b    A quarrelsome wife is as annoying as constant dripping.

Prov 20:24      The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way? (Guilty!!)

DIY North Pole

I know, I know. It’s been a while since I’ve posted. Ever since my kids entered school (over nine years ago now), doing much writing outside of the bare minimum between Halloween and early January has proven difficult. It’s bad enough to have Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s and all four of our birthdays mashed into seven weeks. But when you add all the school-related activities during and after school hours (especially now that our oldest is in high school), it becomes a burden. And when writing becomes a burden, the words get blocked.

Plus, this year I was determined to work on—and finish!—a book-related project that I’d wanted to start on last year and never did. And then, once January rolled around, I wanted to focus on my sequel because I was “this close” to finishing the first draft. I completed said draft last week (yay!), thus I can now focus on a blogpost…

…In which I’m sharing the project I just mentioned. 🙂 So, before we get any closer to Valentine’s Day, here is my North Pole sign post, à la Flitterndorf. (For those who don’t know, Flitterndorf is the name of my village in Tinsel in a Tangle where the elves and Kringles live.)

I created it with storage in mind. In other words, I can remove all place names but the top one from the pole (you can see in the pic that I used cup and eye hooks to hang them) and remove the pole from its base, should I want to pack it away down in my crawl space. But methinks it will hang out somewhere in the house for a long while after the other Christmas decorations are gone. Having it around helps fuel my motivation to continue progress on the sequel. Second draft, here I come!

The 12” X 3.25” wooden boards I found at Hobby Lobby. They started out as rectangles until I sheared off the two corners at one end. I found the 4’ pole at Lowe’s, 2” in diameter. And the splice of log for the base came from our own pile of firewood in the backyard (thanks, Hubby!).

I thought I could simply drill a 2” hole in the base and move on to creating the signs, but 1) the 2” drill bit needed for our drill press cost more than we wanted to spend during the holiday season, and then, when I settled for using the 1” drill bit, 2) the log base was too thick to fit between the base of the drill press and the drill bit, and 3) Hubby wasn’t around to help cut the base thinner and I was tired of waiting on this project, so…yeah. 

Doing what any other impatient crafter would do, I improvised. Using the 1” bit and my hand-held drill, I drilled out as much of the 2” hole as possible and chiseled out the rest.

Ah, such an easy thing to say—“chisel out the rest.” Not an easy thing to do. 😐

And yet, that wasn’t even the hardest part of the project.

The lettering proved the hardest.

I’d never worked with a paint marker before, so inexperience was against me. And I’m a leftie. Lefties aren’t typically known for our beautiful penmanship, since the lettering system in America is right-hand biased. Thus, the direction of the swirls and the slant of the letters in the font I chose (found on Pinterest) are done in the opposite direction a leftie would naturally choose, if given the option. Which we’re not, so we adapt. 😉

To get the look of the letters just right, I had to first write the words on paper (lots of erasing involved!), then I taped the paper to the piece of wood, and traced the lines with a pencil and heavy hand to make an impression in the wood surface. Once I had a faint outline to follow, I took the paint marker in hand, said a prayer (no joke), and slowly traced my impressions with the marker, working from right to left so my hand didn’t mar the lettering.

It’s hard to see in the pictures, but I also stapled a length of garland to the pole and draped battery-operated LED lights along the garland. I’m still on the lookout for some wooden ball or small lantern I can attach to the top of the pole, but for this Christmas, I called it good.

So, there’s my little Flitterndorf flair for the holidays. And if any of you were also crazy enough to tackle a new project in the month of December, I’d love for you to share in the comments! 😀

Black Friday Freebie

Before we get to the freebie, I want to say, “Happy Thanksgiving!” I hope you had a wonderful day, no matter if you celebrated with a full-fledged turkey, “like Grandma used to make it,” or you cooked up some tofurkey, like my sister-in-law, or if turkey-something wasn’t even on the menu. 🙂

As much as I love Christmas, it’s Thanksgiving when I miss being with extended family. When I was growing up, three sets of spouses and eight kids would all converge at my grandparents’ house on the side of Mt. Kearsarge in New Hampshire and milk an entire long weekend out of the holiday. Sledding down the hillside; hiding among the boulders bordering the driveway; tromping through the woods; card games at the kitchen table; movies in the living room; imaginative play down in the finished half of the basement and/or upstairs in the painting room; raiding our grandmother’s closet for shoes, hats, outer garments; rummaging through her huuuuge stash of nail polish for just the right color…. I remember lots of love, laughter, squabbles, zealous discussions, and did I mention laughter? 😉

I know not everyone has fond memories of Thanksgiving, but I pray this year, you were able to find several things you could lift to God in praise. Earlier this week, I shared over on Storyteller Squad how we should even thank God for the less-pleasant things that happen in our lives—not an easy feat, no. Go here if you want to read the whole post.

I do, however, have some wonderful news for which I’m extremely thankful. At the beginning of November, I learned that Tinsel in a Tangle was a finalist in the Literary Classics International Book Awards, and last week, I found out it won in both the Holiday and Best First Book categories! *squeals and throws confetti* I will definitely will be riding high on that announcement for a while. 🙂

Now for those eager for the freebie…there’s a Kindle copy of Tinsel waiting for you here on Amazon! It will be free from now through November 27th, so if you know other Christmas-loving people—adults or youth—who would enjoy this tale, help me spread the word, and happy reading! I’m thankful to all of you who have encouraged me and supported me over the years, whether in the comment field below or in person or via a text message. ❤ May the rest of your holiday season be merry—and don’t forget to take time to relax!

Light in the Dark

A Light Shines Best in the Darkness.-3

The above words came to me as I was praying last week about the mid-term elections. And it reminded me of Jesus’s words in Matthew 5:14-16, when He says, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (NLT version)

Rather than thinking, “Yeah, that’s cool. Heard it before. Christians are supposed to be the light, uh huh,” I stopped to analyze why light shines best in the darkness. What are its properties? What are the differences between light and dark?

When I think about light in today’s terms—in the forms of lamps, candles, campfires, etc.—I come up with a sense of calm, peace, warmth, protection, contentment, thanksgiving, joy, comfort. (How many more traits can you add to this list?)

But in view of Jesus’s command, how does the Bible see “light”? Away to Biblegateway.com I went, to do a quick study on when the word “light” appears in in the Bible. Aside from when it’s used in terms of weight, here are just a few verses I found (NLT version):

In Exodus 13, we have God revealing Himself as a pillar of light to the Israelites as they escaped from Egyptian captivity. Light implies guidance.

In Psalms 119:105, David says, “Your Word is a light for my path.” Here it implies insight & illumination.

In John 1:5, John says Jesus is the light that “shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (can I get an amen?!).

In John 12:46, Jesus likens himself to light when he says, “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.” Light is salvation.

Philippians 2:15 commands us to “live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” Light is innocence and purity.

1 Thessalonians 5:5 says, “For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night.” Light is our identity.

Ephesians 5:8 says, “[O]nce you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” Light is the Holy Spirit.

Did you catch that last one? When we make Jesus our Lord & Savior, the Holy Spirit—God himself—comes to take up residence within us. We have His presence. His power. His love. His light shining through us to a darkened world. He is the light we should bring everywhere we go, whether it be a physical place like the grocery store, or online like social media.

Light shines best in the darkness because it stands in stark contrast to its surroundings. And it can’t help but draw people closer because of that difference, because of its love, its promise of life.

Can we say our lives look different from the world around us? Do our lives exude love and a promise of life? Or have we allowed the world to influence our behavior and dim our light? How do we stand out in the 21st century if our lives look the same as (and in some cases, worse than) our non-believing neighbors?

You’re not going to like what I suggest. Not at first, anyway. It’s extremely simple, yet if it were easy, we Christians wouldn’t have such a problem. But the truth of the matter is that deep down, we don’t want to do this.

I’m not talking about trying harder. It has nothing to do with trying harder.

If we’re going to live out our faith and be a light that attracts others to Jesus, we must start by reading the Bible.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

The world tries to convince us it knows better than God on how to do life. And we are caving to those lies because we spend countless hours scrolling through social media that reflects the world’s values, and watching endless hours of entertainment that reflects the world’s values, which feeds our minds with those values, which skews our thoughts about God and His ways, which causes us to doubt Him (note: instilling doubt is how Satan got Eve to eat the apple in the first place).

And when we don’t purposely make the time to spend with God and read His Word, how can we possibly think we’ll have what it takes to know His heart or fight for what He values when we’re in the trenches of daily life?

Don’t feel like praying or reading the Bible? No problem. Tell Him. He already knows about it, anyway. 🙂 Unsure what or how to pray? Again, not a problem. Pray through the Scriptures. When I was in college, the youth pastor at my home church suggested we pray through the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) each morning. In those chapters, we have Jesus’s teaching about anger, adultery, divorce, revenge, loving our enemies, not judging others, generosity, the “Golden Rule,” bearing fruit, etc. I did this during my college years, and yet I still learn new things as a forty-something whenever I reread it.

Colossians 1:9-12 is also a powerful place to start: “We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. 11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, 12 always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.”

And I can’t forget to suggest Ephesians 1:16-19… “I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. 19a I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him.”

Are these not amazing words to pray over ourselves and our loved ones?!

If we’re sincere about changing our behavior and habits, God will lovingly ignite that spark in us to want to know Him better…and fan that flame that compels us to change our ways…and grow that fire into a personal testimony that encourages others in their struggles.

It’s time to shut off our TVs, put down our phones, and pick up our Bibles. Time to wear out our carpets and floorboards with prayer. Time to speak the truth in love, not anger; with compassion, but not concession.

After all, there’s a dark world full of lost souls God desperately loves, who, in turn, are desperate for a bit of Light. May we be ready and trustworthy to bring it to them.

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Some Halloween Fun…

IMG_2116After I created my snowman phone carrier a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but think about what I could make for the interim period between the warm, summer days that we’ve left behind here in MT and the Christmas season that–aside from me–no one wants to be reminded of quite yet. 😉 I browsed through Pinterest for autumn ideas, and when I found some fun pumpkin faces, the lightbulb went on in my brain. Jack-o-lantern! I couldn’t start knitting right away, however, as I didn’t have any orange wool yarn, and none of the craft stores nearby offer that color, so I went to my go-to online store for most of my knitting needs, KnitPicks, then waited for my order to arrive.

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Finished product.

I was going to make this carrier with a pocket, like the snowman, but I knit the body of the carrier before I realized I was supposed to knit the black eyes and nose at the same time, so it ended up having a zippered compartment instead (I knit the body first, top to bottom, then work back up just over halfway for a pocket, or all the way back to the top for the zippered compartment). His spiraled “hair,” if you will, is actually crocheted, a bit of a leap for me, considering I previously only knew how to do a chain stitch. I found this amazing video on YouTube, however, that made creating the spirals easy-peasy–even for me, who’s not adept at holding the hook and yarn properly (yes, it’s that different from knitting!). But after such a well-done tutorial, I’m tempted to dip more than my toe into the waters of crochet… 😉

I hope your October is going well. We’ve already had snow here in MT, although this week the temps are supposed to be a little warmer, a little more seasonal. Just a quick reminder that my giveaway is going on for a couple more days over at StoryTellerSquad, so if you want a chance to win a signed, paperback book of Tinsel in a Tangle, simply head over there and leave a comment below my post. I’ll announce the winner on that site on Oct 19th. 🙂 Blessings!

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