Showing posts from December, 2011

Giveaway: In Their Sandals by Rand Hummel

Guess what?  It's time for another present!

This time, I bought a little something just for my lovely readers.  Actually, this one's more for moms with middle-school-age writers (or said writers, if there are any that age at our party).  It's a great book titled Creative Writing That Puts You In Their Sandals by Rand Hummel and Jeff Diedrich.

This writing how-to, while not marketed to any specific age group, seems to me like it's meant more for middle-school writers.  Younger kids may well enjoy it, too, but I think it will be a little too easy for the majority of teen writers.  This book takes seven Bible stories and breaks them into seven lessons.  Each lesson is broken into five days, so you can easily complete one lesson per week - making it a seven-week 'course.'  After some writing tips and a word on things like voice and description, the authors jump into writing.

The focus of the book is not only learning to write stories, but learning to truly imagine …

Time {guest post}

Today Marcia visits us with a beautiful little piece about time and the New Year, approaching in only two days.

Can you believe it is almost 2012? The words 2012 seem so strange, how the year 2011 has flown by.

I remember New Year's Eve last year, I was in a cabin, in the loft, reminiscing. Wondering what the year would hold...little did I know what joys, and sorrows the days would bring.

The memories are still shining brightly in my mind, all the laughter, the tears, the smiles, the worry, and the fun.

"God gave us memories, so that we might have roses in December" -J.M. Barrie

But time passes so quickly... we are here, but a whispering moment. How much do we really do in our short lives? I mean, how much of our life is actually worth something?
"Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you." -Carl Sandburg

So, I challenge you, this year...s…

Story Time

Since we don't have any special guests or fun activities for today, I thought I'd share a little story I wrote a few years back.  In fact, I wrote this for school a year or so after we moved to Okinawa, Japan.  It was a "book report" for a book about how to write short stories.  Originally titled "Snow," it was a fictionalized account of what I imagined to be our first trip back to New York.  Since then, I've edited and renamed the story, but the central idea is still the same.  Enjoy!

Three Years Later
I climbed into the rental car, snapped my buckle, and stared out the window at the snow. We never had snow in Taiwan - not where my family had lived, anyway.
My family was driving to Sunday morning services at Fellowship Baptist Church for the first time in three years. We had found a church in Taiwan, but every church was different. Take, for example, the size. Fellowship had more members than Charity Baptist Church. Fellowship also had a larger bui…

End of 2011

So, I've been thinking how fun it would be to do an end-of-year sum-up post.  Also, as a blogger I feel some inexplicable need to write such a post, whether fun or serious.  And since lately we've been somewhat more serious than usual on this blog - contemplating Christmas and all it entails, especially the spiritual and Biblical side of it - I decided to go with fun.

Since I have always loved lists, and I haven't done one on here in waaayyyy too long, I'm summing up 2011 (blog-wise, anyway) with two lists.  (I actually stole these ideas from this list of list ideas :P )

Silly Keywords Searched To Find My Blog

Zafon: I had no idea this was a word, and I'm thinking it's probably a brand (and why would MY blog show up as a result?!) so I'm gonna Google it and see what I get.... Um.  A lot of results for some author named Carlos Ruiz Zafon.  Still don't know how they ended up at my blog with that kind of search. Disney Magic Peter Pan: Apparently I get the …

Giveaway: Love You More by Jennifer Grant

More presents!  Man, y'all are some lucky readers.  What is this, our third gift?  And there's still more to come!

Today we have Love You More by Jennifer Grant.  (You can check out my review here.)  The back cover describes the book as "A stirring memoir on parenthood and the invisible threads that bind us to those we are meant to love.  The obstacles, suprises, and moments of grace that Jennifer Grant experienced, working through the adoption process to bring home her daughter from Guatemala, forever changed her life."

Personally, I think this is a good book for every parent, but especially for moms and/or any parents who have previously adopted, are currently in the process, or want to/plan to/are thinking about adoption.  This isn't just a memoir; it is also a parenting book and adoption help.  But it's not just a parenting how-to, either; it's the real life story of a real mom.

Just a side note: some of you may want to know, this is a Christian book …

Merry Christmas!

Hope y'all are having a wonderful Jesus's birthday, and are making lots of wonderful new memories.  Perhaps you're enjoying hot chocolate while watching snow, or you're chilling after ripping into those presents, or you're heading for a chilly beach - where ever you are, I wish you a Merry Christmas. :)
No, that's not my cat.  It's from weheartit.
How did your Christmas go?  Care to share a holiday tradition or memory ~ something special to you or your family?

The Night Of Christmas {guest post}

Today my good friend Anna has come to share some thoughts about Christmas with us.
It's Christmas Eve. I have a question to propose to you.
What do YOU think about at this time of year?
It's December, and everyone is thinking about one thing: Christmas. But what about Christmas are you thinking about?
The gifts? The decorations?
The music?
Spending time with family and friends?

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with those things. There isn't. But I've been thinking recently. There are a couple of songs that come to my mind, and really make me think. Both are Christmas songs, and I'd like to share them with you.
The first one is called “I Wonder as I Wander,” by John Jacob Niles. Perhaps you've heard it.
“I wonder as I wander out under the sky, How Jesus the Savior did come for to die. For poor on'ry people like you and like I... I wonder as I wander out under the sky. When Mary birthed Jesus 'twas in a cow…

Winner Announcement: Catching Santa ebook!

And the winner of our very first giveaway, an ecopy of Catching Santa by Marc Franco, is...


... Laura O. in Alaska!

Congratulations, Laura!

And readers, don't forget to keep checking in for more giveaways!  Know what's better than winning free stuff?  You don't have to be a follower to win!

Of course, if you want to follow, nobody's stopping you... seriously, though, who wants a bunch of followers who never read anything but the giveaway rules?  Trust me, I know how it is.  We've all been there.  But if you still want to follow - go right ahead!  I apperciate every reader who clicks that little blue button...

White Chocolate Pretzel Candy Clusters {guest post}

Here's that food I promised you!  Like I said, a party's not a party without food.  :)  Today we have Rachel visiting us, and sharing this great holiday recipe.  From the photos alone, I'm already craving one of these! Yum...

Hello everyone! :D I'm Miss Rachel from Young Homemakers! It's such a pleasure to be able to be here with you all. We're going to have lot's of fun in the kitchen today so let's go! ;)

This recipe is really nice for those last-minute Christmas parties or gifts! It doesn't take long and it turns out so pretty. Mmm, delicious too! Make sure you get the little ones involved with's so much fun!

 White Chocolate Pretzel Candy Clusters
{Adapted from Taste of Home}

1 cup pretzel sticks1 cup salted peanuts1 cup candy coated chocolate pieces1 cup crisp rice cereal8 ounces white baking chocolate, chopped {the better the quality, the easier the time you will have in melting it}1 Tbsp. shortening {If you are using a v…

Christmas Traditions {guest post}

Today my personal (as in met-in-the-flesh-before-online) friend, Mariana, has dropped in to share a few words about Christmas traditions.

Nearly every family has some kind of Christmas tradition. My brother is the king of traditions and we can never do things differently (it’s always odd to do something differently). Every year at the beginning of December my whole family will get together and put up the tree and, of course, decorate it with the many old ornaments and age-old gold and red ribbons. Christmas carols are blaring from the speakers of the old boom box that you have to hit to get it to play anything! Of course that’s the beginning of December, that’s not Christmas.

For as long as I can remember we have always opened up presents on Christmas Eve night. Even when my father was a kid he had opened up presents on Christmas Eve night. This is one tradition we have never, I repeat never broken. Many of you also open gifts on Christmas Eve and it is, in my opinion, the best time t…

Hannukah, the Feast of Dedication {guest post}

Today Jessica is going to explain a holiday that many non-Jews know about but few understand: Hanukkah.


Hi, everyone! My name is Jessica, and today, I'd like to tell you about the winter holiday I celebrate, Hanukkah.

Also called "The Festival of Lights", Hanukkah is an eight-day holiday that begins on the 25th of Kislev (usually near the end of December) each year. It is widely celebrated by practicing Jews, but as of late, Christians embracing their Hebrew roots have begun to celebrate it, too. The story of the first Hanukkah is found in the First and Second books of Maccabees. You can read it online for free, but for now, I will just give the basics of the story.


In 168 B.C., the people of Israel were under the control of the Syrian government, and they were greatly oppressed. Antiochus, the reigning king, decreed all Jewish practices and traditions illegal. If someone was found reading/teaching the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, they wou…

Behold the Handmaid of the Lord {guest post}

This cool Monday morning, Anna has come to share her thoughts on the often-overlooked words of Mary.

For a long time my favorite verse in the "Christmas Story" has been one in which Mary humbly states; ..."Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to thy word." Such obedience to the will of God is beautiful as Mary was faced with a black name from her community, family, and fiance.

This is something that I admired in Mary, but didn't really look for in myself.

Myself. This is a very interesting subject. I am naturally one who plans ahead, worries ahead, crosses bridges before she comes to them (and ends up in the hospital after the bridge collapses beneath her).

I'm prone to wondering about what I'll do after high school, how I'll know who to marry, what I'll wear for my graduation ceremony, how on earth I'll pick my bridesmaids - since I have so many people to choose from.... and it goes on.

Harder than these questions is …

Christmas Memories {guest post}

Today Sarah Grace has dropped in to share a few words on Christmas.

When I was a little girl, I couldn’t wait for Christmas…Christmas seemed to take forever to come. We counted down the days until Christmas and bought our presents at Dollar Tree a month before Christmas. We did our traditions such as getting a Christmas tree, looking at all the lights on the houses, singing the twelve days of Christmas until Christmas day came, etc. The week before, anticipating Christmas was almost unbearable as my sister, brother, and I awaited it. Christmas Eve we had the family party, and I thought I was so important since I got to stay up late. :) When we got home and I was in bed, I tried to fall asleep right away so that Christmas day would come all the faster…but instead it seemed an eternity till Christmas morning came. Christmas morning my siblings and I were awake at 6:00 AM and bounded into the rooms to get Mom, Dad, and my oldest sister. But, to our disappointment, it was always too early…

Book Review: The Christmas Conversation

The Christmas Conversation byLeslie Ovid Vance Hargrett
Who really personifies Christmas - Jesus or Santa Claus?  Must we choose?

For my December Dorrance review, I just had to have a Christmas book.  There were so many to choose from, but as soon as I read the description for this book, I knew it was perfect.  I didn't know it was a picture book, but I still enjoyed it.  In this black and white kid's picture book, Santa and Jesus discuss why Santa is important at Christmastime.  Santa's worried he's taking too much attention off his Lord, while Jesus explains why Santa is relevant in culture today.

I love the pictures.  The cover is beautiful and detailed, while the pictures inside are more simple and, honestly, would make a fabulous coloring book.  (A story and coloring book all in one! Score!)  While I know Jesus didn't look anything like this popular image, this image is the one Western culture has come to recognize and associate with Him.  And, of course, we al…

My Christmas Decor

Today, I'm going to do something I don't generally do outside the A B See Photo Meme: a photo post.  Enjoy the peek inside my room!

my personal dollar-store nativity, purchased in New York when I decided I needed my own decorations

my brother's tree, which was actually my first tree, also purchased in New York for $12 - lights, ornaments, tinsel, topper, and all! isn't it so sparkly and cute?

a close-up of my new tree, twice the size of my first

a close-up of the garland draped across the top of my closet doors

don't let this bare, unassuming, slanted little tree fool you... just you wait

my swing doll, Heidi, in her Christmas dress playing out in the snow with my little snowman

told you the tree wasn't innocent! he's really the loudest, most obnoxious Tannenbaum you ever met. with a motion sensor nose and freakishly bushy 'eyebrows.'

and the grand finale, my marvelous little tree in all its lit-up splendor. :)
Fellow teenagers still living at home with the…

Giveaway! Catching Santa by Marc Franco

I told you we'd have presents, didn't I?  And today we have our first: Catching Santa ebook by Marc Franco.  You can read my review of the book here, and be sure to scroll down and check out yesterday's author interview if you missed it. :)

Giveaway Rules:
- International!
- You must be at least 13 years old to qualify
- Non-followers welcome!
To Enter:
Please leave a comment to enter. If your email address is not listed on your Blogger profile, or you don't have a Blogger profile, please leave an email address so I can contact you if you win.

Author Interview: Marc Franco of Catching Santa

Today we have our very first author interview with Marc Franco, creator of The Kringle Chronicles: Catching Santa{You can read my review of his book here.}

Welcome to Struggles of a (Maybe) Teen Author!  You're the first author to be interviewed here :)  Well thank you for the honor.

Before we get started, could you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a dad of three great kids, husband to a wonderful wife, brother, son, pet owner, author and former sex crimes detective. Being a Navy brat, I grew up living around the world. My dad met my mom in Spain. She’s a Spaniard. I guess that makes me half Spanish. She is also the reason I speak fluent Spanish. I drive a Jeep.  Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, I love the beach, surfing, swimming and any sport that involves the water. I play competitive soccer. I have a PS3 and love to play the Battlefield games. Okay, I think I just bored your readers.

Haha, I'm certainly not bored.  I love looking into the lives of other writers, especia…

Walls {guest post}

Today Rachelle joins us with this heartfelt devotional, originally posted at Young Ladies Christian Fellowship.

My quiet time that day started out like any other. A quick prayer left my lips for God to bless my heart as I sought Him. I opened the Bible study book I was currently working through. And an eye-opening, heart-rending hour began.

Many times, I was tempted to close my Bible, say “Amen,” and leave. My heart was being probed to its deepest, darkest depths. I squirmed uncomfortably as the Word and Jesus’ gentle whisper proceeded to peel back layer after sticky layer from my soul.

Wounds I had thought were taken care of long ago resurfaced. Though I had thought those scars were healed, I had really only been ignoring them. Attitudes I wasn’t aware I possessed were revealed to be causing a rift in my growth as a child of God. It was an exhausting time. Near the end of the hour, I felt violated.

“Why is it that I feel this way?” I thought. “Why am I squirming as the Lord searches…

Guess What? It's Party Time!

The day is finally here!  Our huge, multi-celebration, much-awaited, full-of-firsts blog party has finally arrived!

I've gotten my blog all decorated and fancied up, just for the occasion.  I picked out a new background, adjusted the layouts, touched up my button - the whole shabang!

Of course, there are several things that make a party a party.  For example, you can't have a party without guests.  Now, obviously, all you wonderful readers are guests at this party... but we also have some other very special guests who are coming by just for the occasion.  Some are published authors, some are other bloggers, and some are photographers - but they've all got something special to share with us.

You also can't have a party without music... so, although I generally try to avoid putting music on my blog, for this party I've put together a special playlist.

Another party must is food.  One of our wonderful guest bloggers will be bringing that later.  ;)

While some people m…