Monday, April 29, 2013

The Penning Board 2013-17


The Penning Board
Items of the Week

Movie: “Remember Sunday” (2013) – Alexis Bledel and Zachary Levi

A lonely waitress meets a handsome, quirky jewelry store clerk who had a brain aneurysm and thus has short-term memory loss.

This new TV movie was really cute – though it reminded me a little bit of a cleaner version of “50 First Dates.” For a cute movie to watch with your significant other or just the girls, check it out.

News: “Tatum and Gordon-Levitt in Talks for ‘Guys and Dolls’ Remake” 

If you liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum's brief turns as songs and dance men at the Oscars last February, the good news is there are plans to cast them together in a splashy big screen musical. 

20th Century Fox has struck a deal to make a new film version of "Guys and Dolls," the classic Broadway musical by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, with songs by Frank Loesser. Reports have it that Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Channing Tatum are in talks to play the leading roles, good-natured gangsters Nathan Detroit and Sky Masterson.

 “Guys and Dolls” is not only a classic Broadway musical-turned-film in 1955 but one of my favorite musicals of all time.

http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/movie-talk/channing-tatum-joseph-gordon-levitt-talks-singing-dancing-175449216.html

What is your favorite musical? Has it been made into a film?

Book: “The Distant Hours” by Kate Morton

It starts with a letter, lost for half a century and unexpectedly delivered to Edie’s mother on a Sunday afternoon. The letter leads Edie to Milderhurst Castle, where the eccentric Blythe spinsters live and where, she discovers, her mother was billeted during World War II. 

The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives caring for their younger sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiancé jilted her in 1941. Inside the decaying castle, Edie searches for her mother’s past but soon learns there are other secrets hidden in its walls. 

The truth of what happened in “the distant hours” has been waiting a long time for someone to find it. In this enthralling romantic thriller, Morton pays homage to the classics of gothic fiction, spinning a rich and intricate web of mystery, suspense, and lost love.

If you have not read bestselling author Kate Morton, you are a bit behind on the times. :) She is a superb writer and storyteller and weaves intricate tales that are reminiscent of du Maurier’s Rebecca. (Plus don't you love that book cover!)

At times, haunting, romantic, mesmerizing, a bit depressing, there is no doubt that Morton is consistent as one of today’s most prolific fiction authors. I definitely recommend this book or her second novel, “The Forgotten Garden” to see what you think of these international bestsellers.

For more information about the author click here and about the book click here

Bible Verse

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” – Hebrews 7:25 (NIV)
 
Travel Quote:

“A well composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter any other way.” - Caroline Gordon

Song: “Pioneer” – The Band Perry

I’m a big fan of The Band Perry and their new album has been happily stuck in my CD player for days now. Definitely worth listening to in its entirety, but this song is especially amazing—makes me think of the great men and women who founded and settled my home—the United States of America.

Check it out here

Friday, April 26, 2013

Penner's Spotlight - Max Elliott Anderson - India

Pens on a World Map
Penner's Spotlight

Name: Max Elliott Anderson of Illinois
Location: Bangalore, India


Project India: Cobras, Caves, Chimps and more
Several years ago, I traveled to Bangalore, India, to shoot a dramatic film for children called, Mark of the Red Hand. We had a local committee that had set up the shooting locations and arranged for all the cast of characters…including a snake charmer. I remember traveling back from a remote location, late one night. 
Because of my long legs, I sat in the front, and the snake charmer sat in the back with three woven baskets; each containing a cobra. The tops were secured with flimsy string. All the way back to town in the darkness, I was sure I could feel one of those rascals slithering around my feet and ankles.
In one location, we filmed at a zoo. I was allowed inside the habitat where two young tigers lived. To say they were aggressive would be an understatement. They’d trot away from my camera position, turn, get up a full head of steam, and continue running. The name of this game was called, Knock over the Cameraman if You Can.
Wild monkeys seemed to be everywhere in Bangalore. Each morning I fed them snacks out my hotel window before leaving for the day’s shooting.
One afternoon, a man stopped by where we were filming. A cute chimpanzee rode along on his motorbike. We became fast friends.
A central location for the film, with a number of sequences to be shot, took place in a cave. We shot the exteriors of a cave out in a remote location. Then, for all the interior scenes, we built an elaborate set, made to look like a cave. I’m sure no one, watching the film today, would notice the difference.
After a lifetime of travel, and shooting films like Mark of the Red Hand, I find it easier to visualize characters, locations, and sequences for the action-adventures & mysteries I write for young readers today.
Have you been to India? Do you have a story to share about finding interesting animals along your travels? Please join the discussion below.
Max Elliot Anderson writes action-adventures and mysteries for readers 8 and up. Using his extensive experience in dramatic film, video, and television commercial production all over the world, in locations like this, he tries to bring that same visual excitement, and heart-pounding action, to each adventure and mystery he writes.

At this point, 10 books are published and 10 more are contracted. A free catalog is available in a PDF file by emailing mander8813@aol.com.
To learn more about Max and his travels and books, check out:

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Youthwalks and dead bodies? Interview with Author Donna Fletcher Crow

An Unholy Communion
First light, Ascension morning. From the top of the tower at the College of Transfiguration, voices rise in song. But Felicity's delight turns to horror when a black-robed body hurtles over the precipice and lands at her feet.

Her fiance Father Antony recognizes the corpse as Hwyl Pendry, a former student, who has been serving as Deliverance Minister in a Welsh diocese. The police ignore the strange emblem of a double-headed snake clutched in the dead man's hand, labeling the death a suicide. But Hwyl's widow is convinced otherwise, and pleads for Felicity and Antony to help her uncover the truth.

Matters grow murkier as Felicity and Antony, leading a youth pilgrimage through rural Wales, encounter the same sinister symbol as they travel. Lurking figures follow them. Then a body is found face-down in a well...

Donna Fletcher Crow
 
Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 43 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work.

She is also the author of three mystery series. Her newest titles are: An Unholy Communion, The Monastery Murders; A Tincture of Murder, The Lord Danvers Victorian true-crime novels; and A Jane Austen Encounter in the romantic suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have four adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.

To read more about all of Donna’s books and see pictures from her garden and research trips click here. You can also follow her on Facebook.

Ten Questions with Author Donna Fletcher Crow

What should readers know about your latest release? Does it differ from your past books, offer a new perspective on a familiar topic, or shed light on a unique situation?
 
AN UNHOLY COMMUNION is the third title in my Monastery Murders series, continuing the story of Felicity Howard, a young American woman who is studying theology in a college run by monks in a monastery in Yorkshire. In each book the relationship between Felicity and her church history lecturer, Father Antony, progresses. We have moved from irritation, if not outright dislike, to flowering love.
 
Now Felicity wants to spend her holiday planning their wedding, but Antony wants her to help him lead a youthwalk across Wales. She agrees reluctantly when he promises her a peaceful pilgrimage through an idyllic landscape— which is all just fine until symbols of writhing snakes and lurking figures begin dogging their footsteps. This novel explores the reality of evil in an otherwise beautiful world.
 
What was the main inspiration for the new book? Had the idea been on your mind for a while or just popped into it one day?
 
Because one of my goals for this series is to give readers an appreciation of our Christian heritage, I have long wanted to tell the story of Christian Wales. When I read an announcement of a youthwalk in England I knew I had the structure for my story. Because Wales has always been a particularly mystical land, given both to devout Christianity and to occult practices, I knew this would be a good place to delve into the battle between good and evil.
 
Why do you feel compelled to write-in your genre or at all?
 
Because in the background of my plots I tell the story of often obscure British saints and religious occurrences (the martyrs Julius and Aaron, St. David and the Welsh Revival, among others, in this book) I like to have an exciting contemporary murder on the surface. I hope it helps keep my readers turning pages, it certainly keeps me more engaged.
 
How has travel been involved in your writing and/or research? What's been your most memorable research experience?
 
One of my goals as a writer is to give my readers a “you are there” experience while reading my books, so I try never to write about a place I haven’t been myself. Every research trip, always to some place of historical significance and ancient spirituality in Britain, is an amazing experience and results in a book I couldn’t have written any other way.
 
The research for this book was especially intense. First, I needed to revisit Wales and spend time at each place along the Medieval pilgrimage route Felicity and Antony would be walking with their young people. I asked a friend who lives in northern England (mystery writer Dolores Gordon-Smith (http://www.doloresgordon-smith.co.uk/) for advice. With breathtaking generosity she offered to accompany me. You can see the pictures of our great adventure on my website:  http://www.donnafletchercrow.com/book3.php.
 
Secondly, I needed to experience a pilgrimage like the one my characters would be taking, so I wrote to the leader of the youthwalk I mentioned above and asked if I could join them as a considerably overage pilgrim on their 126 mile walk from London to Walsingham in Norfolk.

The delightful young people from four countries were wonderfully welcoming, providing support, prayers, friendship and suggestions for my book. In short, everything I needed except the dead bodies.
 
Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey-a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher?
 
I will forever be thankful to my high school English teachers who introduced me to the English classics, especially Jane Austen and the Brontes. My writing has definitely been an outgrowth of my reading. The specific instance was reading Georgette Heyer’s Venetia. Venetia’s younger brother got hold of my imagination and wouldn’t let go. I had to tell the rest of his story. Brandley’s Search, later Where Love Begins, which turned out to be book 3 in my Cambridge Chronicles, was the result.
 
Writing my first novel was an incredible experience. It was like being pregnant. I would wake up in the middle of the night and write. I had to pull over while driving and write. I wrote on my grocery list walking down aisle in the supermarket. I wish all my novels would come like that!
 
What surprised you the most about the writer's journey-publication, representation, platform building, the writing itself?
 
The fun! Oh, don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work. The intense focus sitting at a computer (of course it was a typewriter when I started) hour after hour can be grueling— especially on those days when the story isn’t flowing. And the discouragement of rejection after rejection while seeking publication.

Then, the shock of discovering that being a published author doesn’t mean you’re set for life with a publisher. . . All the ups and downs, I’ve had them all. But as I look back over 30 years in the business I thank the Lord every day for the amazing privilege of being allowed to do this.
 
If you could rewind time to when you began your pursuit of publication, what would you tell yourself?
 
The same thing I tell beginning writers today— write from your passion.
 
Now to have some fun with travel…
 
What's your favorite place you have visited?
 
Oh, my goodness! Durham, Salisbury, Canterbury, York. . .  No, it has to be Glastonbury.
King Arthur was my first literary love, even before Jane Austen. And “Jerusalem” the Glastonbury Hymn, makes me cry every time I hear it. Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England (ebook, Novel of the Holy Grail) an Arthurian grail search epic covering 1500 years of Christian history through Celtic, Roman, Arthurian, Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Tudor times, is the centerpiece of my career.
 
The wonderful thing when visiting Glastonbury is to stay in the Anglican retreat house behind the abbey. You can even look on of the abbey grounds while taking a bath! And after hours use the passcode to enter the grounds after the gates are locked and the tourists have gone home. I have wandered alone around the sacred, broken arches in the twilight, just myself and the ghosts of bygone monks.
 
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or would you return to somewhere you've already been?
 
There isn’t any place on earth I wouldn’t be interested in seeing. But none of the others are England and life is short. . .
 
10) And now a fun tidbit-if there was one special travel destination just for writers and you were the founder of it, what would the name be and would it be located?
 
Well, obviously in the English countryside. Perhaps named for St. Julian of Norwich since her Revelations of Divine Love is the first book to be written in English. Or The Venerable Bede who invented the footnote.
 
It should be on the grounds of a monastery so we could have daily prayer and Eucharist with the community— a very musical community so we’ll have wonderful hymns and anthems. With a footpath leading across the fields to a little village with a tea shop in a thatched cottage. And, to be practical, it needs to be on a train line.

Thank you, Morgan. It was delightful to visit with you.
 
I hope your readers will drop by my website http://www.donnafletchercrow.com/ to read more about all of my books and see pictures from my garden and research trips.
 
And I would love to have you all follow me on Facebook at: http://ning.it/OHi0MY

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Penning Board 2013-16


The Penning Board
Items of the Week

Movie: “How to Fall in Love” (2012) – Brooke D’Orsay, Eric Mabius and Kathy Najimy

Still suffering from the ugly-duckling syndrome that branded his youth, Harold White (Eric Mabius) hires Annie Hayes (Brooke D’Orsay), the pretty and popular girl he knew in high school, to be his dating coach and help him shed his wallflower approach to romance. 

But when sparks unexpectedly fly between “student” and “teacher,” both Harold and Annie must learn how to make up for past mistakes if they’re going to hold onto true love.

I caught this movie on the Hallmark channel. It’s a really cute TV movie—the perfect one to watch when you’re looking for something light, funny and enjoyable. And I must confess I think we all can relate a bit to Harold’s character—the once high school nerd. :)

News: “Woman arrested for approaching Hugh Jackman with electric razor”

Hugh Jackman is my all-time favorite actor. He’s handsome, he’s talented, he most of the time has a beard—and apparently some crazed fan wanted to change that? Or just wanted a souvenir of Wolverine?

Officers arrested a woman for stalking after she wielded an electric razor while approaching Australian actor Hugh Jackman at a New York City gym, police said on Sunday.

The 47-year-old woman went into the gym where Jackman was working out and after a brief encounter, she fled and was arrested a few blocks away. She apparently had shouted that she loved the actor before throwing the electric razor, which was filled with hair clippings, at Jackman, who was not injured. The woman was charged with fourth-degree stalking.

Jackman told officers that Thurston has been following him and his family for some time. “I suppose for me the primary concern is my family, obviously,” Jackman said. “But, you know, here's a woman who obviously needs help, so I just hope she gets the help she needs.”

As usual, Hugh handles even harrowing situations as a class act. Fourth-degree stalking, have you ever heard of such? Scary.
Have you heard the latest odd news about your favorite celebrity? Have you seen anyone in public that has attempted a just plain embarrassing or borderline criminal stunt in the presence of a celebrity?
Book: “Harriet the Spy” by Louise Fitzhugh

Harriet M. Welsch is a spy. In her notebook, she writes down everything she knows about everyone, even her classmates and her best friends. Then Harriet loses track of her notebook, and it ends up in the wrong hands.  

Before she can stop them, her friends have read the always truthful, sometimes awful things she’s written about each of them. Will Harriet find a way to put her life and her friendships back together?
So this book may possibly have helped scoot me along my path to journalism...by being nosy. (lol) 

I loved reading this book and watching the movie as a kid. I still have an affinity for composition notebooks. This is a great kids book with a great lesson and one to be read at any age.

For more about the book, click here.

Bible Verse:  

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?” – Matthew 6: 28-30 (NIV)

Travel Quote:

“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.” – Bill Bryson

Song: “We Found Love” – Lindsey Stirling (featuring Alisha Popat)

This song is actually a cover of Rihanna’s hit, but this version is quite more meaningful and the video shows some fantastic footage of Kenya.

Have a listen here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Penner's Spotlight - June Foster - US - Colorado

Pens on a World Map
 
Penner’s Spotlight

Location: Colorado

Monarch Pass 

Visiting Monarch Pass, between Salida and Gunnison, Colorado, is like arriving at the top of the world.
Even in the middle of summer, patches of snow fill the mountain peaks and grace the sides of the road. At 11,312 feet above sea level, it's one of the highest passes in the Rocky Mountains. Exhilarating! Right?
Our RV broken down in Monarch Pass
But if your RV suddenly gives a loud bang and refuses to go any farther when you finally arrive at the summit, be careful.

My husband Joe with the old serpentine belt.
Yes, that happened to me and my husband. Yet I truly believe the Lord was with us. Right across the road from where we coasted to a stop, we found an old country store and were able to get the phone number of a mobile service.
Within a couple of hours, our hero, riding up in a blue truck, fixed our problem without too much hesitation. A broken serpentine belt.
Joe and June back in Coaldale after the disaster.
So the next time you travel through Monarch Pass, carry a few extra belts with you - just in case.

Have you traveled in an RV before? Do you have a road tripping story to tell?

June Foster is a retired school teacher with a BA in Education and a MA in counseling. She writes full time and travels in her RV with her husband Joe. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day – February 1, 2012, As We Forgive – September 1, 2012, and Deliver Us – April 1, 2013, and Hometown Fourth of July – July 1, 2012.

June loves to write stories about characters who overcome the issues in their lives by the power of God and His Word. June uses her training in counseling and her Christian beliefs in creating characters who find freedom to live godly lives. June's book, Ryan's Father, will be published by WhiteFire Publishing in the near future.
For more information about June, click here or connect with her on her blog here, Facebook here and here or Twitter.

The fraternity co-ed who coaxed Jillian Coleman upstairs that night is no more than a blur in her memory, but the consequences will haunt her forever.

Ten years later, Riley Mathis, now a Christian, can't tell Jillian he's the father of the child she aborted. The truth will destroy them.

For more info about her latest novel, click here.

 

 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Merlin or Spock for dinner? Interview with Author Sharon Srock

Despite a bustling day care center and a new foster child, Terri Hayes hungers for a family of her own. Then a plumbing mishap leaves her homeless and questioning God’s plan. Steve Evans’s gracious offer of his basement apartment as a temporary solution is an answered prayer.
Steve is a successful writer and a good father, but Terri is horrified when Steve’s book research leads him to a harsh confrontation with the parents of her foster child.  She needs to distance herself from Steve, but her efforts fall short as his two scheming daughters plot to make Terri their new stepmother.

Will harsh words and sneaky plans drive Kelsey’s family further apart and put a wedge between Terri and Steve? Or does God have another plan in store?


Sharon Srock lives with her husband, Larry, and two dogs in Rural Oklahoma. She is a mother, grandmother, and Sunday School teacher. Sharon has one and three-quarters jobs and writes in her spare time. Her favorite hobby is traveling with her grandchildren.

She is a member of the ACFW and currently serves as treasurer for her local chapter. Sharon’s debut novel, The Women of Valley View: Callie released in October 2012. The second in the series, The Women of Valley View: Terri released April 2013.

Connect with Sharon on her blogFacebook, Twitter, or Goodreads. For more information about Sharon here and about her book, Terri, here.

-Giveaway-
 
Leave a comment with your email address to be entered to win a copy of Sharon's book, "Terri."
---

Ten Questions with Author Sharon Srock

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
That sometimes we spend too much time beating ourselves up for something God has already forgiven and forgotten. That we do a disservice to ourselves and others when we indulge in those feelings.

How much of yourself do you write into your characters?
I don’t, intentionally, write any of me into my characters. That doesn’t mean you won’t find a little piece of me in all of the women. Callie teaches Sunday school and loves her guacamole, Terri is looking for God’s will in her life and arguing the whole way, Pam is learning lessons in forgiveness. Yep, there I am.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Believe it or not, I went to bed one night, a normal person, and woke up the next morning determined to write a book. I know, now, where that came from. It was more than a little weird at the time.

How do you keep your sanity in this crazy fast paced world of ours?
I guess I’m a product of our environment. I like being busy. Even on a vacation I have to consciously tell myself to slow down and enjoy the moment. Sanity…I’m a writer, that option took a hike a few years back.

As a writer how have you had to grow and stretch out of your comfort zone?

You are looking at it. Learning the craft, editing, and revising were easy compared to putting myself in the path of perfect strangers and begging for their attention. I’m a pretty solitary person. If I had my way, I’d write the book and pay a lookalike to go out and face the public.

In what ways has being published changed your life?

Besides making me busier that I used to be? The jury is still out on that one. Ask me again in a year or so.

If you could invite a fictional character to dinner who would it be and why?

Oh, can I pick two? Merlin and Spock. Merlin because I’m captivated by the whole knights in armor, Arthur, slaying the dragon thing. Spock because…well…because the idea of extraterrestrial life interests me. If we ever find life out there, I’d hope they would be a wise and beneficial sort like Vulcans. Not the I’ve come to destroy your world we see portrayed 99% of the time.

What is the funniest, strangest, or most interesting thing you have learned when doing research?

That I don’t like research. Does that count? Seriously I write contemporary fiction so I don’t have to do a lot of research. I’d never Googled anything til about a year ago.
Where was the location of the best vacation you ever had?

Now you’ve opened the flood gates. For the last 7 years I’ve taken one of my grandchildren on a special vacation. We’ve been on cruises, been to Hawaii, visited The Grand Canyon and Vegas, spent a week in Cozumel, done the whole Disney thing in Orlando.

God has placed a special blessing on these trips. They’ve all gone off without a hitch and there is no way to just pick one.

If you could go to any place in the world to research/write a book, what setting would you choose?
Australia. It’s on my bucket list. I’ll make it someday, God willing.

Don't forget to leave a comment below with your email address to enter the book giveaway! 

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Penning Board 2013-15


The Penning Board
Items of the Week

Movie: “Bride and Prejudice” (2004) – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Martin Henderson

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice gets a Bollywood treatment. 

This is definitely one of the most surprising adaptations of Jane Austen’s most famous novel. It’s fun, it’s colorful and it involves travel to gorgeous India – what more can I say. 

Watch it. :)

News: “Florida battles slimy invasion by giant snails”

Think cheesy horror flick come to life! Giant snails are invading!
So it may not be such a horrific crisis as one would think, but think again. These snails can produce 1,200 eggs per year—per snail. They can grow to the size of a rat and are quite destructive to over 500 species of plants and even plaster and stucco.
The last known invasion was in 1966 when a boy brought three back from vacation in Hawaii. His grandmother found them and set them free, which led to a population of 17,000 in seven years and the state spent $1 million and 10 years eradicating them.
Has your state had a similar crisis? What would you least like to have multitudes of in your state and backyard?
Book: “The Tell Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe

A haunting account of a tormented man who continually re-admits himself into a halfway house, in a futile attempt to escape a spiral into madness.
Even though this is a short story and pretty creepy (I don’t usually read creepy), it’s fantastic. Edgar Allen Poe is a classic for a reason. Out of all his stories, this one is at the top for me. It’s frightening and disturbing, but there is more hidden underneath the madness of it. 

If you haven’t read it, it’s short and a classic, so get going to your library or the link below to purchase a copy.

For more about the book, click here.

Bible Verse:
“This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” – Romans 13:6-7 (NIV) 

–Quite appropriate for U.S. taxes due day today!–

Travel Quote:
“Once in a while it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.” — Alan Keightley 

Song: “London” – Brandon Heath

This is a sweet song about missing your loved one when you’re traveling and you wish they were with you. Brandon Heath has several other really good songs. I like his music a lot.

Have a listen here.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Penner's Spotlight - Dora Hiers - Costa Rica/Panama


Pens on a World Map
Penner’s Spotlight

Penner: Dora Hiers of North Carolina

Location: Costa Rica and Panama

When you hurdle the half-century marker, time is a precious commodity, isn’t it? My hubby and I sailed past that milestone a few years back and committed to travel more. Since my parents joined us on a European cruise last fall, we agreed to tour Panama and Costa Rica with them. Although these two countries weren’t on my must-see list initially, I’m glad we joined them.

Once outside the bigger cities, life seemed to move at a slower pace. Families hung out on front porches after dinner or lazed in swaying hammocks. Cars were an oddity. Villagers walked or rode horses along country roads. People lingered over meals, and it was nice not to have a bill thrust in our faces while we were still eating.

After seeing the labor-intensive process at Casa Ruiz, a coffee farm in Panama, I firmly committed never to complain again about the price of coffee.
 We explored much of central Costa Rica. Translation: we drove a lot. We “oohed” and “ahhed” over Lake Arenal.
And La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
Most houses hid behind gates, where narrow entries expanded to luscious courtyards. Who would have guessed this waited for us beyond the entry gate?
 Paradise. No cell phone service. No televisions. No loud, rattling air conditioners. Just the soothing sounds of nature like the gentle breeze that rustled the curtains. Ahhh…

It’s tough to get old, isn’t it?

Have you traveled to Costa Rica or Panama? Or been surprised to especially enjoy a place that wasn't on your must-see list? Please join in the conversation below.


After a successful auditing career, Dora left the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons. When her youngest son didn’t want her hanging out at school with him anymore, Dora started writing heart racing, God-gracing books.
She’s thrilled that all of her stories found a home with White Rose Publishing/Pelican Book Group. Dora belongs to the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Carolina Christian Writers. Dora is married to her real life hero, a fire chief, who likes to plot with her during their lunch dates. They make their home in North Carolina.
When Dora isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, family gatherings, and mountain cabin getaways. She despises traffic, bad coffee, technological meltdowns, and a sad ending to a book. Her books always end with a happily-ever-after!
For more information about Dora, check out her website here, blogs here and here, or connect with her on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or Pinterest.
After an injury forces Deputy U.S. Marshal Sage Michaelson off duty, he heads to his hometown with two things on his mind: recuperating and reevaluating, but Sage can’t refuse his best friend’s plea to keep a protective eye on his little sister after someone ransacks her house. But Delaney’s not so little anymore—and definitely not the young “Dane” Sage remembers. 
Flight Medic Delaney Hunt has loved Sage forever. But, he’s all about control and order while she embraces life and takes risks. As much as the idea appeals to her, she doesn’t need Sage looking over her shoulder. But when things go wrong and she finds herself hanging by her fingertips, who does she call to rescue her?
Will Delaney ever be the woman Sage wants by his side? Can Sage learn to live by grace, recognizing that God is in control? Can they overcome their fears to embrace life together?
After a humiliating breakup, best-selling romance author Teal Benning flees to Promise Lake to complete her current novel, minus paparazzi and flashing cameras. Suffering from writer's block and a broken heart, Teal accepts the offer of help from neighbor, Hunter Miciver.
Hunter longs to be more than the friend who picks up the shattered pieces of Teal's heart, but when Teal finds out his secret, will she see him for the man he is—a man of faith and devotion, a man who would cherish her for the rest of her days—or will she lump him into the same category as all the other men in her life, including her father?
 Will Teal recognize when truth whispers her name?





Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Survive a Riptide or Mugging? Travel Motto: Be Prepared.

I always enjoy browsing stores for good deals and interesting items—just to see what I can find. While book-troving one day, I came across an interesting little read. It was only three dollars but in the end the book might actually save my life one day. 

A waterfall in the Costa Rican jungle
It’s called “The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Travel.” I’ve looked at the large edition of this book but had never purchased it. I’m always one to want to be prepared for whatever situation I might be faced with whether I’m in the Middle East on camel back or driving down a Louisiana highway.

In fact, since I was a child, I’ve developed this mentality—from the TV show, COPS, actually. My Dad used to watch that show constantly and my brother and I were right beside him. One day this female cop was patrolling and she shared an interesting insight to police mental concepts. 

She said while she’s patrolling she will create possible scenarios in her head of what could happen so she will be as mentally ready for action as possible. She passes a bank and thinks what if this bank was being robbed or what if I came upon a huge traffic accident. 

Woodland near Mount Rushmore in South Dakota
This concept of being ready for anything stuck with me and I can say I’ve shared it since then. Okay, I don’t really think of bank robberies or hostage situations, but none-the-less I think what if this car had to slam on its brakes with no warning in close traffic or what if this (insert situation) happened. One of the best travel mottos is to be prepared. Click to tweet.

Some of the scenarios in the book are extremely far-fetched…I mean when do I expect to have to survive a UFO abduction, cross a piranha-infested river or navigate a minefield. Click to Tweet. You never know though. 

There are some useful scenarios listed though and who knows they could save your life and lives of others. Please no trying these techniques at home though for fun—only attempt to use them in last resort dangerous situations. 

One of the most important scenarios in the small book I think is: “How to Stop a Car With No Brakes,” (Click to Tweet.) which consists of:

1) Begin pumping the brake pedal and keep pumping it (Enough pressure may build up to slow the vehicle down and even stop)

2) Do not panic—relax and steer the car smoothly (Cars will often safely turn corners at high speeds; steer evenly)

3) Shift the car into the lowest gear possible and let the engine and transmission slow you down

4) If you are running out of room, try a “bootlegger’s turn” (yank the emergency brake hard while turning the wheel a quarter turn in either direction, which should make the car spin 180 degrees. Only for last resort use)

5) If you have room, swerve the car back and forth across the road (making hard turns at each side will decrease speed more)

6) Pull the emergency brake—but not too hard (use even, constant pressure. The car should slow down and eventually stop)

7) Look for something to help you stop (a flat or uphill road will slow you down and scraping the side of the car against a guardrail is another option)

8) If no step has worked and you are about to head over a cliff or huge intersection, try to hit something that will slow you down before you go as a last resort)

Another informative one is “How to Survive a Mugging” (Click to Tweet.): 

1) Do not argue or fight with a mugger unless your life is clearly in danger (if they only want your purse or wallet, surrender it)

2) if you are certain that your attacker means to do you or a loved one harm, attack vital areas of your assailant’s body (aim to disable him with a quick blow with fingers to eyes or driving knee to groin or slamming elbow into ribs, chest or face or stomping on the foot or scraping shin with foot.)

3) use an object as a weapon (most common objects can be used to hit a vital area as mentioned above, such as a stick, keys or even a car antenna)

Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica
Anyone going to the beach needs to know “How to Survive a Riptide” - the dangerous undertows of waves and currents (Click to Tweet.):

1) do not struggle against the current (most riptide deaths are caused by drowning)

2) do not swim in toward the shore (you will have to fight the current)

3) swim parallel to shore—across the current (usually a riptide is 100 feet wide so swimming beyond it should not be difficult

4) if you cannot swim out of the riptide, float on your back and allow the riptide to take you away from shore until you are beyond its pull and can swim around it 

5) once the riptide subsides, swim sideways and back to shore

On all our travels, whether abroad or at home, these types could save your life. I highly recommend checking out this little book and having back-up plans for survival.

For more about this book, click here

Do you have any travel tips to share? Have you been in a survival situation?