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Showing posts from 2014

Adventures in Weaving and Writing

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I really had no idea how to describe this, but adventures seemed to be the best. Over on my weaving blog, Bryony Studio, I focused on weaving a new shirt. Yes, you read that right - weaving a new shirt. Actually it turned out well (check out the site tomorrow for the image).



On the other hand, I'm working on new books while I also work on Azure and Orfhlait. Normally, I have a couple ideas rolling around my head while I work on other novels. The most recent short novel (by short, I mean less than 200 pages) has a fashion designer as the main character.

Added to all of this, I'm preparing to head to France in May for a mission's trip. One of the things I've always known is God can use the gifts He's given us to glorify Himself. Art, whether through weaving or writing, is one way I've been blessed. Part of the reason why I'm going to France is to see if the Lord wants me to live in France, using my artistic gifts as a means to show people God loves them.

I ha…

Corcra Baile

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Corcra Baile means Purple House, which I thought an appropriate title for the quilt.

As you can see, I tend to be eclectic in my quilt designs. I have little use for the ones with hundreds of little pieces to sew together. While the quilts are beautiful, they don't really intrigue me like the big block quilts do.

It boils down to a lack of patience - first to cut out the pieces then sew them together. I prefer to be over and done with the quilts at the end of the day, not still arguing with them a week later.

It is, for me, and interesting style and design to see how pieces of fabric can flow together in seemingly mysterious ways.

The Corcra Baile Quilt is available for purchase here.


Christmas Book Signing

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On Saturday, 20 December, I'll be at Bender's Christian Bookstore in Williamsville NY for a book signing. I'll have copies of all three books, but the focus will be on Shamrocks of Stone. The information (including Bender's address) is down below.

Hope to see you there.



When: Saturday, December 20 2014
Where: Bender's Christian Bookstore
             8550 Sheridan Drive
             Williamsville NY
Time: Noon - 3 PM

Book Review - December

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I think this is one of my favorite books. Part of it is from the photographs, partly because it is about Ireland, and partly because it involves weaving.

Weaving Tapestry in Rural Ireland is about a group called Taipeis Gael in County Donegal. The book is substantial, heavy with beautiful photographs, some in black and white, many in color. It's really an ode to the weavers in County Donegal.

Tapestry weaving is not indigenous to Ireland. Something I had to remind myself while I wrote Shamrocks of Stone. This book, however, is part of the reason I often set contemporary weavers in Ireland (and to be honest, I love Ireland).

Some of my favorite sections include the gallery of tapestries as well as the section on natural dyes found in the Isles. It's a section I used for another series I'm writing.

If you like Ireland or weaving this is one of those books to purchase. It's a good book to flip through occasionally.

Note: the book cover links you to Amazon where I receive a…

Wednesday Wake-up - Diamond Door

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Where does this door lead (if you can read German it probably helps)? Character, setting and one or two sentences about the plot line.

I'm Back

It has been a slow couple of weeks, let me tell you. Between twisted knees, plenty of snow, and writing for NaNoWriMo 2014, I haven't had much time to write on the website.

As one friend put it - "Being off her feet will help her write her next novel!"

She is, as you can tell, anxiously awaiting the sequel to Shamrocks of Stone. It is coming along, and once December hits, it will be the primary focus. Sometimes, I find after a long writing hiatus (such as this summer) National Novel Writing Month is a good way to jump start my writing juices again.

It's down to the last couple days, so I decided I'm going to push through and try to finish it by Thanksgiving, or at the very least, have it almost finished before Thanksgiving so I can enjoy the time with family.

By the way, for those concerned about the snow, it's gone for the most part. Three feet of snow has nothing on rain and mild temperatures. Of course, those in the flood-prone areas of Western NY have one…

Wednesday Wake-up - Old Rust

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Where does this door lead? Character, setting and one or two sentences about the plot line.

Snow Storm

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Some of you realize I live in Western NY, and if anyone wants to know, yes, I have snow outside. Where I live is at the tale end of the lake effect, but we still have quite a bit of snow.


A view from my window. It looks a little hazy because of the snow blowing. We're getting around 2"-3"an hour or so. Might be a little less, but I'm not certain.

For me, it's a lovely day to remain inside and write.

Wednesday Wake-up - Gray and Wood

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Where does this door lead? Character, setting and one or two sentences about the plot line.

Write, Write, Write

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It's been an interesting weekend for me. On Friday, while out for a walk, I ended up spraining both ankle and my knee. I slipped on some wet wood, if anyone wants to know. Thankfully, they're only badly sprained, but I'm off my leg for the remainder of the week.

Theoretically it gives me more time to write, but I'm realizing that sometimes having a limited amount of comfortable positions (I can't bend my knee very well) sometimes distracts me from my writing. Still, I'm a little under my halfway point on my NaNoWriMo novel.

It's been a good last couple of days as I progress through the newest book. Once I finish, I'll make certain that I send it out. The fun part of writing is creating the covers; why, I don't know, but it's fun. Have you ever created a cover for one of your novels? 

Wednesday Wake-Up - Red Star

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Where does this door lead (if you can read German it probably helps)? Character, setting and one or two sentences about the plot line.

Book Review: Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England

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I'll admit that the Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer is a few years old, but it's a handy book to have on your shelf, especially if you're writing historical fiction set between the Twelfth and Fourteenth Centuries. It's also handy if you write fantasy novels, and prefer your novels to be medieval in nature.

Once again, the book cover links you to Amazon's Kindle page, and when you click through, I do receive a little bit of money.

The book gives a good overview to what life was like during the Medieval Age of England. It's very good for England, but if you're looking outside England, whether Ireland or Scotland, it doesn't help quite as much. There would be regionally differences, but this gives you a good solid grounding in life.

He covers the world through a collection of themes much like a modern travel guide would do today: where to eat, what to wear, religious observances. He goes into some of the laws, the landscape a…

Happy Halloween

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Hope you all enjoy this day of spooks and frights. Honestly, it's one of my favorite holidays if only because of the costumes, classic old-fashioned horror films, and the general ambiance of the day.

Of course, for some Protestants, they ignore Halloween and focus on Reformation Day for today is the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses on the Wittenberg Door. In Catholic communities, it is All Saints' Eve

Whatever the day; whatever the reason you celebrate, I hope you have an enjoyable day.

For the writers ... tomorrow begins NaNoWriMo. I'm looking forward to this month, and I hope you are as well.

Wednesday Wake-up - Skull Door

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In honor of Halloween this week:


Last Week Before NaNoWriMo

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For the past few years, November has turned into the National Novel Writing Month - a time where aspiring writers and old-timers can dedicate to write that novel they've wanted to write.



I'll participate in it this year, as I have the past few years. If you want to participate as well, I suggest finding a partner to help keep you motivated.

To join the National Novel Writing Month's website visit here.
If you're looking for a writer's program, I suggest the free download, yWriter. It's what I use to write my initial drafts, and have found it very helpful for organizing as well as quick edits later on.

Want to be a Writer - Families

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Back to you Want to be a Writer series after a fairly long hiatus. Today, I'm focusing on families as a part of the story. Now, I'm not focusing on writing families into stories, but more of a general over-arching concept of family structure within the story. Check this topic also under world-building as well.

For most Americans, indeed most of the world, family consists of dad, mom, child(ren). It is what is often referred to as the nuclear family. For family-friendly items, the age of the children is usually limited to the under 12 crowd.

In times past, family remained the nuclear family, but also included larger elements as well such as the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We see this when families focus on a common ancestor whether as a matriarchal or patriarchal civilizations. Most often, this is limited two or three generations back, and would include a common great-grandparent.

For others, family is something you choose, not inherit. For some, family is the grou…

Wednesday Wake-up - Blue Door and Bike

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Remember: character, setting and one or two sentences about plot.

Thus ends the season

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My fair season ended on Saturday without a fair. Strong winds blew in from the West, leaving the only option for the Saturday Artisan Market leaders to cancel the last fair. Oh well, personally, I didn't want to attempt putting up a tent in 15+ miles per hour winds.

Not fun.


This lovely photo is from Appleumpkin this year, where I had the help of both my mom and sister, as you can see. In case you're wondering, they're discussing a book, but I can't remember if it's one of mine, or the one Mom brought with her.

Shifting from primarily weaving to primarily writing offers some different troubles, but in both cases, it takes time. Sometimes, a project forces you to take time. For example, Azure Depths (the third book in the four-part series) spends most of the story in Deep Waters, but I discovered last week that I needed to consider how they built the city.

I cannot use futuristic ideas about building this city since some of the elements may or may not be conducive f…

Wake-up Wednesday - Steepled Green

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Remember: character, setting and two sentences about the story.

Wednesday Wake-up - Copper and Blue

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A Reflection

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Tomorrow happens to be my birthday, so I'm taking this time to reflect on the past year, and things I've learned. Most of the time, these articles come around New Year, but with my birthday, changes in the weather, and the general turning of the season, early October has always been the better time. It happens to be one of my favorite times as well because cooler weather demands my favorite things: sweaters, tea and coffee.

It's been a year of ups and downs: two more books published, but also the stress of being a published author. I didn't know what I was getting into, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I'm still finding my feet in this matter, and more often than not feel completely overwhelmed. I'm thankful for the support from my family, as well as the support from friends both ones I've met and ones I haven't met. It's one of the joys about being able to access the Internet, write a blog, and connect with people. I've learned what …

First of the Month Review - Art Inc.

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Today, I'm focusing on the business of art with a book I recently purchased called Art Inc. by Lisa Congdon.

The short version of the review is good. If you're interested in turning your art hobby into a business, this is a good resource to borrow or purchase.

All in all, I found it useful in that it provides several elements true to all artists: building websites and blogs, developing social media, and how to market yourself to companies and individuals. The major drawback, I found, is its focus on two-dimensional arts such as drawing, painting and illustration. This makes sense since Congdon is an illustrator and painter. Yet, despite this drawback, even for three dimensional artists the book has some very good points.

One of the aspects I found helpful was her chapter on Exhibitions and Galleries (chapter 5). I have wanted to show my work in galleries, but hadn't found a good way to present the subject. Part of the reason has to do with how I perceive other people's…

Lost Treasures

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I had a conversation with a friend once about how she tried to make her grandchild finish a story he wrote as a child. Doing her grandmotherly duty, she had read the stories, but surprisingly had found herself interested in the stories themselves ... then he stopped writing.

Others I've talked with were either writers who didn't finish stories or parents of writers who didn't finish stories. In both cases, they were frustrated at the lack of perseverance to finish stories. In all cases, I assured the individuals that it wasn't a problem, but actually an asset - the unfinished stories were, in fact, lost treasures waiting to be mined.

I've been writing stories since I was ten or twelve. I have notebooks filled with stories, and journals with snippets of scenes and characters. I've written before about the importance of keeping journals (here), One of the best reasons is simply returning to find the lost treasures. I've had old snippets that I rediscovered us…

Wednesday Wake-up

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Today begins a new series intended as a jump start to story ideas. Doors, gates, portals whatever you call them lead into new places, and what is behind the door can turn into a story. The door image will be posted here, on Twitter and on Facebook. Write down your idea, and limit it to the main character, genre, setting and a two sentence description of the plot.

Remember, the door is an inspiration. Create new worlds, visit your downtown, or travel back in time. The image is to inspire so I won't add any of the information about the picture.

Have fun.


Art and Faith

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This past weekend began my last four fair weekends. The first three Saturdays of October are Saturday Artisan Markets at Canalside in Buffalo. I have great hopes for these Saturdays since our September Saturdays were blown out due to high winds. We're expecting rain, but it appears that the cold front will go through on Friday. Here's hoping to decent weather. Honestly, I don't mind the rain so much, it's the wind that can be problematic.


Over the summer while I've created items for sale, I tend to contemplate life questions, and many of them focus around my chosen fields (weaving and writing) as well as my Christian faith. Can the two connect in any meaningful way or must I constantly separate the two?

In years past, it has been a struggle especially since I tend toward abstract and less realism in my art work. My art work tends to be feelings and impressions less than actual images. When I approach a theme, I begin with images, and work from there. At my former c…

Appleumpkin Weekend

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It's that time of the year again in which apples and pumpkins overpopulate the small village of Wyoming in Western NY. Once again, I will have a booth set-up on Route 19 (South Academy Street) with handwoven goods, hand bound journals and, of course, books to sign.

Everything begins at 10 am and goes until 5 pm both Saturday and Sunday. Find me at the blue dot below. Once in Wyoming NY, I'll be across from the Middlebury Historical Society and next door to the Village Hall.


Walking Through Doors

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There is something about doorways that intrigue me. They intrigue a lot of people, apparently given the amount of door photographs on Pinterest which is where all these came from. One of my boards is dedicated entirely to doors.

I like doors partly because you can go through them. Windows are cool enough, but tend to be utilitarian in design. They offer a glimpse, but not an entrance. One of my favorite scenes from the Sound of Music is where Maria makes the comment that "God sometimes closes a door, but he always opens a window."

Doors lead us to new places, new activities, new experiences and new relationships. These doors can be metaphoric or physical. I've had doors slammed in my face, and doors opened to me. Doors protect us, and define us.

Since this week is the beginning of a new season, take the time to evaluate what you do, and the why. For some of us, this is a natural part of our rhythms. I tend to reevaluate my projects and focus around the beginning of Octo…

Hour by Hour

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Balance. It's a tough path to follow partly because the older we become the more life forces us to balance on our walk. As a kid, I had school, friends, family and playtime. Most of that worked out well together: I went to school and played with my friends at recess or after I finished my homework. As a teenager, sports (for me at least) were added to mix. I had a job in middle school that required some extra time, but since it was selling Christmas cards, I didn't have to travel to the job.

College added still more layers when I had to start making important decisions and managing my time effectively. Now, as an adult, I have businesses to run, relationships to maintain both near and afar, not to mention the day to day activities.



Balance.

Then life throws you a puddle in the middle of the walk.

Some will stop there in horror; some will walk around; some will tiptoe through while others will run, splash or dance. It takes all kinds, and it takes all moments. As it nears the e…

Saturday Artisan Market

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This is where I'm going to be on Saturday. It's in Buffalo NY along the Erie Canal. Actually it's a cool place to visit. If any of you are in the Buffalo area this weekend, come by.


Religious Art

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So, on Friday, I left you with a question about reclaiming the arts. While I admit this is primarily a Christian concern, it intrigued me if anyone would have any ideas. Perchance you did, but no comments were left. I'll offer some of my thoughts on the situation, and see what you think.


Overview For the majority of human history, art and religion coexist. Think of places like Stonehenge, temples in Egypt, Jerusalem and other places around the world. Many cultures also have skilled artisans creating the items to be used in religious ceremonies. Art was, and remains, the primary way humanity expresses its greatest emotions whether anger, hope, joy, sorrow or worship.

Even into the Middle Ages, art coexisted with religious institutions, in fact the Christian church was the largest supporter of the arts throughout most of modern history, especially in Europe. Buildings such as the cathedrals, as well as the decoration within such as the roof of the Sistine Chapel provide examples of …

Question to Ponder

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I'm looking for some thoughts because I like to hear other people's opinions about things. What does it mean to "Reclaim the Arts"? How would we go about doing so? Is it needed?

Post your comments here, or over on my Facebook page (here)


I've been hearing this term "Reclaiming the Arts for Christ" a lot lately, and wanted to know what others thought about it. While it primarily seems to be a Christian thing, hence the "for Christ" part, how do people perceive the statement? Can something like art be reclaimed?

Hints about Azure and Orfhlait

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It's September, and I have taken most of the summer off from writing, but it's time to begin writing again. Besides, I have Orfhlait captured, and Azure with a seriously injured brother.

Time to take care of those situations, I suppose.

For those of you anxiously awaiting news of Brun, rest assured, as Azure Maris often reminds herself, "The priesthood of Deep Waters cannot die."

The bad news for Azure fans is during September I will focus on Orfhlait's situation (good news for Orfhlait fans, though).


So what are some of things to expect in the upcoming books? Orfhlait ends up far from home, in a land she does not know, and must reconcile her Christian faith in this new world. For her, freedom begins to take on new meanings. While she is free from the convent's regulations and expectations, she is no longer free. To her mind, she has traded one slavery for another. Just how free will she ever be?

For Azure, things begin to heat up even more in Book 3 (Azure D…

First of the Month Review - September

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Back to the reviews, and I realize that today is Tuesday, but yesterday was Labor Day in the United States, so I finished up my writing vacation.

For those of you who don't know about my other site focusing on the weaving/fiber arts, Bryony Studios is the site. If you're interested in fiber arts both history and patterns, make certain to check out the Bryony Studio blog.

Also, by clicking on the book cover, it will take you directly to Amazon where you can purchase the book. Just to let you know, by clicking on the book, I receive money based upon clicks. The same is true for the other book covers as well.

How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries by Kathy Lynn Emerson is one of my to-go to books both for ideas as well as information. Quite honestly, it's pack full of interesting tidbits that help guide the new writer. Added to the notes Emerson has, she's interviewed many of the big names in historical murder mystery including one of my favorites, Elizabeth Peters, aut…

Getting back into the Swing of Things

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So I have a fair in a week. I've been off fairs for almost three weeks which hasn't been bad, because I've been weaving.  I'm still a writer, and balancing the writer and the weaver has proven harder than I thought it would. Not terrible, just different. I tend to focus on a job, finish it then focus on the next job. That, I might add is a wonderful excuse (though it is true) because I've also been putting off writing.

Why?

Because I'm still navigating how the next books in Azure's and Orfhlait's series are going to progress. Granted, for Orfhlait, there is a great deal of research needed, but there are also other elements that I'm not certain how they'll play.

Also, I have other books that are finished, but just need some editing for me to submit. I would like to expand a little bit out of the Christian fiction market and into a more mainstream market. It's not unlike the photo above: lots of muck and work, but great potential. The question…

Crazy Busy Summer

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So I mentioned last week, that yes, I'm still around, but it's been a busy summer. Now, with summer winding down, I'm looking to get back into my fairly normal routine which means that more entries will be added to the blog.

Unfortunately, September remains on my near horizon, and I have fairs basically every weekend. Yeah!


Normally, I'm not all the thrilled for busy days. I'm more of a serendipity sort of person. I like having items on my to-do list, but less then ten. Granted, when it sometimes take me a day to write a chapter in a book, having less than ten of those sorts of items to do is very practical.

My normal day would include weaving and writing and breaks. Both weaving and writing have their long stretches of work. Once I'm finished writing a novel, it needs to be edited by me, someone else (usually Mom) and lastly the editor. The editing stage can take upwards of six to eight months depending how quickly it goes.

Weaving often takes less time only b…

Updating

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Just letting you all know that I haven't fallen off the edge of the world. It's been a busy summer (thankfully), and I haven't had time to slow down to post recently. Things will still be a bit hit and miss until September rolls around.

Also, by the way, look what I got in the mail finally:


Below is a photo of what I've been doing this summer. I took this photo two weeks ago at the Saturday Artisan Market at Canalside in Buffalo NY; that's my mom sitting inside my tent. If you're up in Buffalo area the first and third Saturdays of September and October 2014, this is where I'll be. Come visit.

Stone Walls

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How are you with rejection?

For many of us it depends on the rejection we receive. I applied for a job recently, and while I would have liked the position, I knew it was something of a long-shot. I qualified, and would have done well, but I lived far away (the job was in England, and I live in America). The rejection was expected, though it was still disappointing.

Rejection of my books hurts a bit more, but once again sometimes you know someone won't like the story. Recently, one of my extended family members purchased two of my books to support me. She told me later she didn't really like the storyline, but I was thrilled she read Azure Maris.

When you put your heart out on the line, there is always the possibility it will be stomped upon, kicked or shot. We take that risk simply by living. Though we can protect ourselves, we often realize that in protecting ourselves, we leave important parts of our life underdeveloped like love, empathy and trust.

We like to think of ourse…

Woven Revolution: Athena

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The average person who learns about Lancaster PA, thinks of buggies and bonnets. While the Amish and Mennonite communities are quite strong in Lancaster, they are not the only Protestant groups in the community. Their English counterparts, Baptists, are alive and well.

Pennsylvania, however, was not founded by Anabaptists or Baptists, but by Quakers. In Colonial Lancaster, a group of Irish Quakers had residence. They are a small group, though little is recorded of them. Like the Anabaptists, the Quakers are pacifists, but during the American Revolution, a few Quakers opted to fight, one of them was Nathanael Greene who became a major general in the Continental Army.

Business in Lancaster
Athena MacGuire, is many things, but she is uncertain of who she is. She is an Irish Quaker in Lancaster, an unmarried woman and the owner of her own business. During the Colonial time period, women did own businesses: some ran inns, some ran millinery shops. Others were dressmakers, and still others …

Bleep Free Guarantee

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My local Christian radio station has this as their motto: bleep free guarantee. Their reason is two-fold: (1) whatever is played or discussed is squeaky clean, and (2) it is safe for everyone to hear.

I have mixed feelings on this, but I understand their reasoning.
The concept of the wise monkeys is that they see no evil, speak no evil and hear no evil. Honorable deeds, of course, but I tend to see the Christian community taking this concept to an extreme. In some communities, it shows up in banning gossiping - not malicious intent, but anything evil about someone else, even if that evil is criminal.

For others, it is the inability to have any swear words or euphemisms in conversation. For this crowd, there are lists of bad words that we cannot speak in public, private, or even think. Some words even make no sense whatsoever or exclude certain songs from being sung, even innocuous ones that deal with the ox and the ass.

For the last group, anything that smacks of sin is abolished from…

First of the Month Book Review - July

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This month's review is called the Daughters of Gaia: Women in the Ancient Mediterranean World by Bella Vivante.

I stumbled across this book while researching a story set in Ancient Greece. It's a good, interesting read that provides an overview on women's lives in the Ancient Mediterranean worlds.

While it does delve a little bit into the daily lives of the women, the primary focus of the book is how the women related to the world around them. Many of the cultures, especially Greek and Roman were fairly patriarchal in their outlook. Rome was a little more relaxed than the Greeks, but not nearly as relaxed as the Egyptians.

When I started my research, I disliked Ancient Greece because it was male oriented. To be a woman in Ancient Greece was not an easy task. If I could travel back in time, I would rather visit Ancient Egypt than Ancient Greece, but through this book, I found both some interesting facts, and new found respect for Pythagoras.

Vivante's theory (and others…

Woven Revolution: Helene

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When I was growing up, New England was considered the bastion of freedom, especially during the American Revolution time period. It was from there that the first winds of change blew. The Puritans, in their quest to worship as they pleased, sailed from England to the New World to establish a colony based on religious freedom.

That was what I was taught.

That was not, in reality, what happened.


Colonial Tolerance
Let me honest here: none of the American colonies were especially freedom loving. There were stipulations placed upon members of society that went against what we would hold dear now. As a woman, I would have had no right to vote, but neither would a free African, the native tribes, or any white man who owned no land. When they speak of freedom, the Founding Fathers spoke of a limited freedom, but within that limitation the Middle Colonies were some of the freest colonies, especially in the form of religious freedom.

Pennsylvania and Maryland were both founded by groups the Ch…

Read Often; Think Deep

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I'm currently working my way through updating one of my books. The process is long, and I remember why I prefer editing on the computer as opposed to in a book form. I love writing as much as I love reading. Writing takes more time and effort because I'm creating the words, but reading is both educational and entertaining.

Because I writer murder mysteries, historical novels and fantasy, I tend to read those same genres. When I can mix up my genres (fantasy mystery or a historical fantasy) it's even better. Over the past three weeks, I've heard some interesting comments, and it makes me wonder: does Christian media inhibit the ability to appreciate art as well as think deeply?


Bear with me here - it's an honest question, and I'm not certain, in fact, I know I don't have the answer to it.

Lack of Reading
The first portion of this question goes back to interview I heard on my local radio about the lack of reading among children and teens. Now, the big point t…