Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Delicious Recipe

I'm the featured author on Lyn Cote's blog today where I share one of my favorite recipes of all time called Food for Angels. My mother received this recipe from a recipe chain letter back in the late 1960's. You send a recipe to a short list of people and get dozens back. On a base of vanilla wafers is a concoction of whipped cream and pineapple. It's the most refreshing dessert I've ever tasted, and a 9 x 12 pan feeds a huge crowd because while it's light, it's also rich and a little goes a long way.

Also, you can see an absolutely huge picture of yours truly.

Here's the LINK

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

No Greater Gift Review by Romantic Times

I am thrilled at the wonderful reviews my new book is getting. The latest is by Romantic Times, one of THE voices of what's new and great in Romantic fiction. They gave No Greater Gift four stars out of a possible four and a half.

Remember, the release date is May 1. It's now available to pre-order as an e-book on Amazon. On May 1, you'll be able to order it, there, in paperback. 

When you search for it on Amazon, make sure you search for Teresa H. Morgan. The H is important. Here's a link: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Teresa+H.+Morgan 

 Here's the review and summary:

No Greater Gift  - Four Stars, Romantic Times.

"A fast-paced family saga, this book transports readers between the current era and World War II. Characters are well-rounded, each with their strengths and weaknesses, which is refreshing. Morgan did her research on World War II, but it doesn't overwhelm the plot." -- Romantic Times
 
Summary:
 
Grace Ryan has returned to her hometown expecting to help her grandmother turn her journals and her memories of WWII into memoirs, but instead finds herself at the hospital bedside of her grandmother, who begs Grace to dig into a decades-old crime of treason that could rip her family apart. Physicist Erik Petersson has suffered through a nasty divorce and the loss of his children and their love, and he agrees to help Grace decipher her grandfather’s scientific papers while on sabbatical. When Grace’s life is threatened by someone they both know, they realize they are very close to uncovering the truth.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Are Christians Really So Intolerant?

There's a lot of anger out there against Christianity and Christians. I expect it'll get worse during this political season. One of the first accusations we usually hear--and one of the mildest, lately--is that we're intolerant of other religions.

The charge of intolerance comes because we believe faith in Jesus is the only way to God. We’re perceived as arrogantly stating: if you don’t believe what I believe, you’ll spend eternity in hell. When a Christian shares their faith, it shouldn't be out of the self-righteous superiority that says that I’m right and you’re wrong, but out of brotherly love. Something along the lines of:

I’ve made a friend who brings me unspeakable joy. His compassion is endless because in his time on earth, he knew physical pain and emotional brokenness. One of his best friends betrayed Him. He experienced the rejection and scorn of his own family. Many of my relationships, my emotions and my body have been healed. I despaired of living a life of meaning, but now I have hope again. I've experienced something life-changing and I want to share it with you.

In 2009 magician Penn Jillette, an avowed atheist, spoke of his conversation with a Christian businessman. "And he was truly complimentary. It didn't seem like empty flattery. He was really kind and nice and sane and looked me in the eyes and talked to me and then gave me this Bible."

Then Mr. Jillette made a surprising statement:

"How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? If I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn't believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there's a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that...Now I know there's no God, and one polite person living his life right doesn't change that. But I'll tell you, he was a very, very, very good man, and that's really important. And with that kind of goodness, it's OK to have that deep of a disagreement."

The "problem" with the Christian worldview is that it deals in absolutes. But, don't most religions? Certainly Muslim faith does. Few people would say, in effect, “The law of gravity may work for you, but it puts limitations on me that I don't like. It doesn't work for me, so I'll ignore it.” Whether or not we choose to acknowledge gravity’s authority over us, we’re still subject to it. Sounds silly, right? The principle is the same.

Reality doesn't change because we cannot see Jesus sitting on His throne at the right hand of the Father. Some say that Jesus was a good teacher, but not the Son of God, the Creator of all. But Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except by Me.” If He is not the Son of God and, as He claims, the only way to the Father, then He was either insane, deluded or a liar.

Reincarnation and Christianity cannot both be true. After our physical deaths we are either reborn into another human body on earth, or we enter the spiritual realm--into the presence of God.

Society today seems believe that if we do good things, refrain from any gross sin, we'll go to heaven. God is love, after all. Scripture says so. Could a God of love send people to hell? Or so goes the argument.

Ah, but He must. God isn’t only love. He is also absolute holiness. When Adam and Eve sinned, God had to banish them from the garden. God certainly took no pleasure in it, but it was a necessary, and temporary, separation. God cannot have fellowship with anyone or thing less than holy. His heart is also one of deep abiding love, and He would not abandon mankind. That’s why Jesus came to die. To pay the legal price for our sin.

I have many friends who aren't Christians, and when the time is right I've shared the gospel with them. Because I love and respect them, the differences in our beliefs doesn't affect our friendship. While I don't compromise what I believe, I'm not their judge or their conscience. But, because I try to walk the walk that I talk, they know I'm a Christian. Hopefully, when they want to hear more, they'll feel so secure in our friendship they'll know they can come to me.

1 Cor 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

Why, God? Part 1

For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light. -- Mark 4:22

We all wonder why innocent people die in terrorists' attacks, why children get sick or suffer despicable abuse. We see images of war and famine. We shake our fists at God and declare that a loving God wouldn't allow such things to happen. If He was good, He'd intervene and dispense justice.

Why? At the question's root is our need to understand with our minds when the very heart of faith is trusting God when we have unanswered questions. 
I try to remind myself of what I know, what I've exerienced. God is good. He never changes, and I can trust Him. I know this not only because the scriptures tell me this, but through my own relationship with Him. He has shared my sorrow, dried my tears, consoled me after my failures and given me great joy. He understands me and has  assured me I am loved.

When I demand to understand why, I forfeit the peace of God and entrance into the sabbath rest that is our right. That's having peace without understanding why. What is the alternative? Turmoil. Pain. Aloneness. Denying that God exists, or that He cares doesn't make the pain go away. It merely ensures that we walk through the inevitable suffering without the comforting presence of God.

Certainly, this isn't going to make sense to anyone who doesn't know God or have a relationship with Him. To some, the very mention of the name of God to someone in difficulty or seeing injustice often triggers the release of intense rage and bitterness.

In No Greater Gift, Grace Ryan's faith in God and in His love for her falters. She's tried to serve and obey Him her entire life, and now it appears she's lost everything. She can't help but ask why.
Though the answers aren't simple, they do exist.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Announcement: No Greater Gift

I am thrilled to announce that my newest book, No Greater Gift, will be published by Mountain Brook Ink on  May 1, 2016.

Inspirational Women's Fiction          
NO GREATER GIFT


History professor Grace Ryan returns to her hometown expecting to help her grandmother turn her journals and memories of WWII into memoirs. She arrives to find her grandmother being loaded into an ambulance. When she begs Grace to find the truth about a decades-old crime, whispers the word treason, then slips away forever, Grace is left to separate fact from fiction. Then, an unwelcome inheritance strikes at her already fragile family bond. Though God’s voice seems silent, He sends someone to stand in the gap for her.

Erik Petersson, unjustly accused of infidelity, suffered through an unwanted divorce and the loss of his children’s love to his former wife’s bitterness. A physicist on sabbatical, he agrees to help Grace dig through her late grandfather’s scientific papers. As he struggles to win back his children’s love, he and Grace are catapulted into a quagmire of truth and lies that could tear her family apart.

Preorder Here


The preorder price is an amazing $3.49.  If you're searching for it on Amazon and not using the link, make sure to remember to use my middle initial H or you might find it.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

My All Sufficient One

In Genesis 17, after the birth of Ishmael via Sarai's plan, God reminded Abram of His promise of an heir of His providing. In that encounter, God identified himself as El Shaddai. The El identifies God as all mighty and Shaddai who has exhaustless bounty. Quite literally, God was reminding Abram that He is Abram's All-Sufficient One. Though Abram may have thought he had to make God's plan for an heir happen on his own, God emphasized that He would provide Abram an heir.

I've watched my mother struggle with treatments that seemed to make her worse. Yes, we pray for healing, but one thing I know, either here or in heaven, she will be healed. At my mother's knee I learned that the Bible is God's word, truth with a capital T. We can trust Him and His love and mercy.

He meets her needs. While her body remains frail God, our  all-sufficient One gives her a peace that passes understanding, He gives me the physical, mental and emotional strength to watch over her and care for her as she did me for so many years. As one who deals with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, that's a miracle.

Though my heart aches, my All-Sufficient God who provides, my resource and sufficiency, the pourer forth of blessings. He nourishes, supplies and satisfies. He gives us His very presence, and walks with us through the difficult times comforting us.  And we know we're never alone.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Strong Tower

The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
The righteous runs into it and is safe.

Proverbs 18:10

A loved one receiving a cancer diagnosis can be a body blow. What is my instinctive reponse, right after the head snaps back and my vision clears? That depends. Where have I placed my trust? Fortunately, I was raised to walk with God, to trust in Him even when I don't understand. Even when there are no answers we can trust His love. Yes, even as we watch a loved one begin chemotherapy.

In Hebrew culture a peron's name illustrated his character. Throughout scripture, God met His people in desperate situations and revealed one of His names, and thus, a particular aspect of His nature.

A strong tower in Biblical times was at times large enough to give a place of refuge, for the population, sometimes an outpost on high ground for soldiers whose sentries to guard against enemy attack. But a tower could also be seen by the enemy as a sign of a line drawn in the sand that said this far and no farther, a sign that this ground is under protection.

In times of trouble, where do we run for comfort and safety? Don't get me wrong. In this time of trial, my family member sees the physicians and is enduring the therapy. We're comforted by family members and those brothers and sisters in Christ, but the first place we go is to our Strong Tower and to the scriptures, knowing that God is who He says He is.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Peace of God

"...that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19 


It’s January. Are your Christmas decorations put away, yet? Our bank accounts are noticeably lighter, the daylight hours are still pitifully few, and it seems like Spring is still a long way away.

The birth of Christ was the fulfillment of God’s promise that He would reconcile mankind to Himself. The angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men."

 
So where is the peace of God in the heart of January?

In the scriptures the Messiah is prophesied as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, as the lamb of God brutally sacrificed for the sins of the people.  He’s also prophesied as an king who would deliver the nation of Israel from their oppressors and whose reign would never end.

Not understanding how Jesus could be both, the people of Israel focused on the Messiah coming as a great king who would free them from the bondage of the Roman empire. They wanted Him so desperately. The problem was, they saw the prophesies as a single range mountain peaks, grouped together in time. What they couldn’t see from their perspective was the valley of time separating the coming of Jesus as an infant and His death on the cross in 33 AD from his coming as a reigning king. They couldn’t see the 2000+ years of the church age between the time of His sacrifice and when He will come as a conquering king who will reign forever.

So where is the peace that He promised? The peace Jesus brought when He came the first time is between Man and God. He redeemed us—bought us back and paid the price—from the power of sin and death. Jesus reconciled us to God by paying the price for our sin. When we yield ourselves—mind, will and emotions—to Him, He changes our hearts and gives us peace. Not just peace with God--that's reconcilation with God--but the peace of God.

Unfortunately, as long as the hearts of men remain unsurrendered, there will be sin and death in the world, and, no lasting peace on the earth, except in the hearts of His people. 

Friday, October 19, 2012

Can nothing can be better?

Not long ago Steve Sabol, son of Ed Sabol and co-founder of NFL Films, passed away from a brain tumor. He was 70, and still way too young. At NFL films, he was a film maker, a camera man and an editor and writer and an on-screen commentator. His entire professional career was spent capturing, preserving and presenting football to the public in new and different ways. Football fans owe him a debt, and not just for Football Follies.

A specific quote that made the rounds after his death saddened me. Mr. Sabol said:

"So they talk about heaven, and I don't know what is waiting for me up there. But I can tell you this: Nothing will happen up there that can duplicate my life down here. Nothing. That life cannot be better than the one I've lived down here, the football life. It's been perfect."

Of course, I don't know his religious beliefs or the entire context of his statement. I can understand the joy of spending his life getting paid for doing what he loved. What boggles my mind is that he couldn't conceive that an eternity in heaven spent with a loving, awesome God could be any better in than the life he'd lived, here.

That's something I once found difficult to conceive. But then, I'm a baby boomer, raised in a Christian home by parents who'd sooner question the law of gravity than the existance of God.

How desperately our world needs us to live in the world, loving one another yet without compromising the Word of God.

Our perception of the world—the point of view, the glasses through which we view our world—is vitally important. Is my existance an accident of evolution? Or, was I conceived first in the heart of God? Is there anything after this life?

We all have questions, and many of them have difficult answers. A Christian's life isn't based on blind faith, but faith based on the living Word of God and on what we know is true. I've experienced His love and comfort and have seen the healing of twisted limbs with my own eyes. God loves us, and gave himself for us.

We were made for fellowship with God. Proverbs 8:17 says those who seek me diligently will find me. Him. Not a bunch of rules or even just knowledge about God. He promises us a love relationship not just on earth, but for eternity. 1 Corinthians 2:9:

For it is written:

  "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,
  Nor have entered into the heart of man
  the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

National Coffee Day - September 29

 
According to the National Geographic website, the practice of starting the day out right with coffee began in Ethiopia. A goat herder (in about 800 A.D.) found his goats frolicking from plant to plant and wondered what had gotten in to them. He tried a few and soon joined the fun. I don't suppose he even bothered to roast or grind them, or stopped to consider if he wanted a single or double shot or which flavored creamer he'd like. Sometimes simple is best.

I've often stopped to thank the Lord for creating the coffee bean. Before He said, "Let there be Light" He knew that some day, I'd be sitting right where I am, now, thanking Him for my morning coffee. Perhaps I'm even more thankful for it because after drinking coffee since I was nineteen, I quit cold turkey. Now, I'm allowed a cup or two a few times a week.

For almost a decade, I drank coffee at work, and fetched it for others for the simple reason that going to refill an empty cup was the only acceptable reason for being away from the desk and telephones.

To wash to wash or not to wash the coffee pot was a continual squabble. There were no sinks deep enough to completely immerse the 30 cup urn  and wash it completely clean. As a result, what little washing that was possible only loosened the oils from the inside of the pot and made the coffee bitter. Battery acid, I believed we called it.

Like the oil that coats the inside of an unwashed coffee pot, our sin pollutes, and no amount of anything--good works, self control or sacrifice can change the human heart. Nothing except God. When we yield to Him, He changes us from the inside out.

Do you remember Gone with the Wind? Mammy told Scarlett and Rhett that they were like mules in a horse harness. You can scrub him up and put a shiny, fancy horse harness on him, but under it all, he's still a mule. You'd have to go deep inside that mule, to his DNA, and change him.

That's what God does with us when we're born again. No, we're not perfect, and as long as we're in our earthly bodies, we're at war with our sin natures. But as we yield to God, he changes us from the inside out.

The apostle John said: If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:7-10)

Friday, February 03, 2012

Good News

Last November I entered two manuscripts in the the Silicon Valley RWA Chapter's GOTCHA contest in the mystery/suspense category. The first fifteen pages are judged over seven areas of expertise: Presentation of Entry, Opening Characterization, Story, Dialogue/Narrative, Writing Craft and Emotional Reaction. The idea is to write a book that and hooks the reader.

My completed manuscript, No Greater Gift, currently in the final stages of editing finished second. My current manuscript, currently called Greasepaint and Perfume, finished fourth.

In the left hand column you'll find a link to the prologue of No Greater Gift.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Scrivener to the Rescue

During this year's NaNoWriMo I'm trying out something new. New to me, at least. the software is Scrivener, a computer program that has been available to Mac lovers for years. If I'd known about this writing environment, I'd have been tempted to buy a Mac. Now, the Windows trial version is available. It works amazingly well for those millions of writers who don't work chronologically.

This little beauty actually leaps that hurdle. It keeps everything organized and yet allows you to word out of chronological order. In the upper right of the screen shot is much loved note card. In the center is the editor window which can be split either horizontally or vertically which allows the writer to work on two different areas of the compiled manuscript at once.

The Scrivener tutorial suggests that you think as though every scene or whatever small block of material you're working with as having an index card attached to it. If you click on a different folder in the Binder--that's the section at the far left--the scenes in that folder become visible. Click on one of those scenes and that scene opens up as well as that block of text's index card.

The top, bottom or both windows of the editor can be viewed in the corkboard that shows your that particular folder's index cards.

I'm using this program for NaNoWriMo and so far haven't had any problem. This program is a good one. And, if you're participating in NaNo, you can get a free Windows trial version that will work until the middle of December. Their web site is:

http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivenerforwindows/

Thursday, November 03, 2011

On Your Marks, Get Set, Stop?

Say what?

Yes, I know. On Monday night I was so ready to start writing on this year's NaNoWriMo. Then the contest bug bit me. It's been a long time. The contest is the Silicon Valley Chapter of RWA's 2011 Gotcha contest. Just send in the first fifteen pages of an unpublished manuscript. Simple, right? Wrong.

I'm a failed perfectionist, and it's difficult for me to let the pages slip from my fingers until I'm certain I can do no better. That's why I'm a compulsive re-writer. So, I pulled out a couple of manuscripts and started polishing. Yesterday, alone I printed and tweaked those fifteen pages three times. I'm not too embarrassed to say that one of those was to check each comma against the Chicago Manual of Style. Then, I printed that second entry once again this morning. Almost any writer will tell you that text looks differently on a screen than on paper. Different things pop out.

So, what's my word count on NaNo after two full days? Two hundred eleven words. But, like Scarlett O'Hara said, tomorrow is another day. I'm a really fast typist.

Monday, October 31, 2011

National Novel Writing Month




In case you didn't know, November is National Novel Writing Month. A challenge. Call it a dare if you like, plenty do. This is the month when tens of thousands of ordinarily sane writers around the world challenge themselves or one another to a ridiculous feat of endurance: Write a 50,000 book in a month.


You get thirty-one 24 hour days, and not one word is allowed before November 1 or after November 30. Prewriting and plotting are great, the planning of characters and conflict are fine, too. But not one word of the book.If we reach that coveted 50,000 word mark, we win... what? An icon much like the ones above, only it says WINNER! You get the satisfaction of having done it. The words don't have to sing or even yodel. They just have to be.


How many people long to write a book, to be published, to communicate... something. They yearn for the time when their children are older, more independent. They wait for the time when they can devote themselves full time to the task. Many promise themselves they'll do it after they retire. They never do it, sadly.


The thing about this challenge that brings me joy is knowing that so many people are actually doing it. It's just for a month, you know. They can write every day for a month. Some will enjoy the exercise, then put their manuscripts away and never look at them again. And that's fine. But some will continue even after November. They'll go back to those words they wrote in such a hurry and they'll revised and rework them. They'll strengthen their characters, cut out the deadwood and prune their dialogue. Some will polish their books and send them out, only to have them come back in what seems to be return mail. Or, they'll hear nothing at all for months. Eventually, some of those books will get published. Yes, it has happened. Either way, I applaud them.

Oh, there are those that take offense How dare these people call themselves writers! Just the mention of NaNoWriMo Director Chris Baty's book "No Plot, No Problem" makes them crazy. A novel needs a plot!! Often, they resent someone who spent a month typing 50,000 thousand words of unintelligible drivel calling themselves a writer, or worse, an author.


In a way, I understand where they're coming from. They've worked long and hard, many for decades sweating blood over each book, each word. They've struggled to understand and learn this business. After rejections and despair they get "the call". They're published. Then, one day at the gym someone announces that they've just completed their first book and wants to know the name of their agent. They want fast action because they worked on it for a whole month!


My response: You can't fix a blank page, only one with words on it. I still support this program. In 2005 they had over 59,000 participants. Almost 10,000 people world-wide wrote their 50,000 words.In addition, in 2004 and 2005 the NaNoWriMo organization contributed over $20,000 to Room to Read to build libraries for kids in Cambodia. Those libraries are up and running now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Who, Me? A Hypocrite?

The Encarta dictionary says a hypocrite as, "somebody who pretends to have admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings but behaves otherwise."In Matthew 23:27-28 Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. "So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”
This commentary isn't about those who make a habit of sin, or those who deliberately teach false doctrine. There are plenty of those individuals hidden within the body of Christ, who have done unspeakable damage to other Christians, the church, and the name of Christ among unbelievers. Believe me, God will deal with them justly. (See Matthew 13:24-30.)

But, I think the term is too often and too easily applied. To me, a hypocrite is someone who claims to be walking righteously before God and yet in secret—knowingly and willingly—violates the standards to which they hold others. There's a huge difference between that person and one who tries and sometimes fails to attain the high standards God’s Word sets. Need convincing?

In Romans 7, the Apostle Paul wrote, “For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

So, was the Apostle Paul a hypocrite? I think not. He was a Christian who fell short of the high standard of perfection. In my opinion, a better measuring stick would be not what am I as a Christian, but what am I becoming. Compare who I am, now, to who I was when I came to know Christ. We cannot expect a new babe in Christ to walk with the same wisdom and constancy as one who'd been walking with God for many years. Am I growing? Am I becoming more like Him? Am I beginning to yield spiritual fruit? Am I allowing God to work on my “stuff?” Working on it myself? Do I harbor ungodly habits, thought patterns and attitudes?

As my husband puts it: God says, “I AM that I AM.” Popeye says, “I yam what I yam.” Greg Morgan says, “I am what I am becoming.”

In Matthew 7:2 Jesus warns us all, "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." It’s not that we don’t render judgment at all. It’s that in our dealings with others, if we judge harshly and dispense little mercy, that is how God will judge us.

I can hear someone screaming. But Jesus, himself, called some of the scribes and Pharisees hypocrites. But take a look at the scripture again. He knew their thoughts. He knew the condition of their hearts and deepest motivations. Can we truly know what a person is thinking? Their deepest motivation? It isn’t that we’re not supposed to judge actions and even attitudes, at all. But we must do so with the same wisdom and compassion that God does. In my opinion, we are to judge an action or attitude, not the person.

If my attitude or actions fall short, I pray someone close to me will speak the truth in love and call me on it. I want never to bring shame to the name of Christ. If what we want is to help an erring brother or sister, we’d best approach them with love, even if it needs to be tough love.

Chocolate-Filled Cream Puffs

This evening I'm making a batch of chocolate-filled cream puffs to take to our Precepts Bible study brunch in the morning and thought you all might like the recipe. This little cookbook came with my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Of course, when my husband bought it for me, I was anxious to try it out. I have changed the recipe a little, but basically it's the same. Sometimes I substitute pudding from a box, either vanilla or chocolate, for the filling.

Ingredients:

1 cup water
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Pillsbury Best All-Purpose Flour
4 eggs
Powdered sugar (optional)

Chocolate Filling:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 can (12 ounces) PET Evaporated Milk
1 1/3 cupts water
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon vanilla

Hot Fudge Sauce

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup PET Evapoeated Milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat water, butter and salt in 1 1/2 quart saucepan over high heat to a full rolling boil. reduce heat and quickly stir in Pillsbury Best Flour, stirring vigorously with wooden spoon until mixture leaves sides of pan and forms a ball.

Place mixture in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and flat beater to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and add eggs, one at a time, beating 30 seconds after each addition. Stop and scrape bowl. turn to Speed 4 and beat 15 seconds.

Drop scant 1/4 cupfuls of dough into 12 mounds 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown and puffy. Cool slightly on wire racks, then slice in half horizontally with a serrated knife. Scrape insides of puffs gently with fork to remove any soft dough, then cool completely on wire racks.

Meanwhile, prepare Chocolate Filling. Combine granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt in large saucepan. Gradually stir in Pet Evaporated Milk and water. Add unsweetened chocolate. Cook and stir over mediium heat until mixture is very thick and chocolate has melted completely, frequently scraping bottom of pan with flat spatula. Bring to a simmer and simmer for one full minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips and vanilla. Stir until chocolate chips have melted completely. Pour into medium bowl and cover refrigerate at least four hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, prepare Hot Fudge Sauce. Place all incredients in heavy saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until chocolate melts completely.

To serve, fill bottom halves of cream puffs with about 1/3 cup Chocolate Filling, place cream puff tops on filling. Lightly dust with powdered sugar (if desired), then drizzle with the Hot Fudge Sauce.

Per serving: about 363 calories. 7 G PRO, 42 G CARB, 20 G FAT, 102 MG CHOL, 36 MG SOD

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Knowing vs. Feeling

After conference exhaustion can be a big factor for a lot of writers. For writers who are pitching a book to an editor or agent and have been working for months on proposals and finishing the book, it's a stressful time. We’ve sacrificed our leisure time and stolen hours we should have used for other things—sleeping, for one—in order to work until we’re bleary-eyed coming up with prose that, for lack of a better term, sings. For months we’ve dared to believe that we’re called of God. Then, we’ve attended the conference, gone without sleep, met with our peers as well the editors and agents in the hope that we’re keeping a divine appointment, praying that God will use us. Afterward, we traveled long hours to get home to find our loved ones clamoring for time with us.

Many published authors also find the conference to be stressful as well as a joy. Many are teaching workshops, leading a late night chat, others are spending whatever stolen hours they can catching up with old friends and new ones we don't often get a chance to see. Many nominated for an award. Then, there are those who are involved in the planning and the running of the conference.

I had a great conference, but when I came home, I found my vision a little sharper. Why hadn’t I seen all that clutter piling up? How had all those dust bunnies multiplied so rapidly?

Sound familiar? I was exhausted physically and mentally. My body felt like it’d declared war against me. The enemy isn’t stupid. He knows when and where in my thinking I’m vulnerable. I might as well have been wearing a “kick me” sign.

That’s the reason we don’t live our lives by what we “feel”. We’re to live them according to what we “know”. By what God has said. His Word. While our emotions are valid and very, very real, they also can be liars. As a teenage girl, I sometimes didn’t feel my mother’s love or support. Does that mean she didn’t love me? Of course not. My emotions were lying to me. At different times of our lives, we don’t feel God's love and wonder if He's turned his back on us. the Psalms are full of King David's cries of anguish.

Emotion. Combine that with a lack of healing, or anything else we think God should provide and doesn’t, and you have a major doubt. Fear, even.

The day after I received “the call”, I was so happy, I knew I’d never again doubt my calling. Wrong. At times when I was in physical distress I said there is no way I can do this. But, I know what God’s Word says. Romans 11:29 says, “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” That's the Logos Word of God. But, if I don’t know for certain I’m called, logically, I can't hang on to that as mine. What I need, then, is a Rhema, a Word from God specifically to me and my situation.

Now that's a specific promise or statement of God I can hold on to and rely on just as I rely on God, Himself. Even when my emotions are telling me otherwise.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

What I (re-)learned

Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

What a thrill it was to be among other writers again. The ACFW conference was one of the best I've ever attended. I think the word I'd use to describe the authors, editors, planners, staff and volunteers, there, is unity. It wasn't just a unity of purpose, but a unity of motivation. Let God be glorified in me. Yes, for some this is our job. For other's it's a dream. But... whether our writing is a direct calling from God, or an offering to God from a heart that wants to glorify Him, The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. As we submit to Him, as we seek Him, he opens the doors He'd have us walk through.

James Scott Bell was our keynote speaker, and what a job he did in inspiring us. Some came to the conference wondering if they'd really, truly heard the voice of God when he called them to write. Others came simply discouraged and enjoyed a mountaintop experience. Lots of us were overwhelmed at the numbers of writers. So many came simply to be a blessing.

It was a joy for me to be among people like me. I wasn't an oddball in this group. We were unified in our worship, in our dreams, in our desire to learn.

Jill Elizabeth Nelson, author of Relucant Burgular and Reluctant Runaway is an absolute jewel. She critiqued my synopsis and first chapters of my current book and opened my eyes to little mistakes that I never saw, before. Her books are so good, that at the conference I bought copies of both her books for a friend. My friend is already into the second. Jill's next book, Reluctant Smuggler will arrive on the shelves in January of 2008.

I've also learned what an introvert I've become over the last several years since my car accident. I'm beginning to miss my wry sense of humor. My roommate, Renae, had so much energy I sat watching her, amazed. Then, we compared ages and I realized she could be my daughter!

Margie Lawson taught us how to empower our characters' emotions to create deeper, better motivated characters. She taught us to use her EDITS system to help us to power up our scenes and rhetorical devices we'd never heard of. Ever heard the word: anaphora? And this was just the Early Bird session! Check out her web site at: http://www.margielawsom.com/. I believe she has an on-line class coming up in October.

Blessings, Teresa
__________
The Holy Bible : King James Version. 1995 (electronic ed. of the 1769 edition of the 1611 Authorized Version.) (Ro 11:29). Bellingham WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Conference Time

It's almost time for the annual American Christian Fiction Writer's Conference. This year, it's in Dallas, Texas from September 20-23, 2007.

For writer, conference time means a chance to pitch our newest books to editors and agents. We'll meet with other authors to learn, brainstorm and critique. There are awesome continuing education and individual workshops offered. The early bird session will be Empowering Characters' Emotions and hosted by Margie Lawson.

As a writer, isolation is sometimes a problem, so this time is precious. We get to meet with other writers, sometimes meeting writers we know on the web, but have never met face to face.

I know that the Word says that we're a peculiar people, but I sometimes think writers are a bit more peculiar.. One of my characters--Erik Petersson--from my current book followed me into church last Sunday and started chattering during worship. I had to shush him more than once. Contrary fellow, as he's been a bit elusive lately, not allowing me into his head and heart.

One author I'm looking forward to meeting is Jill Elizabeth Nelson. Check out Jill's web site. She's an awesome writer of romantic suspense. Both books in her To Catch a Thief series are page turners. The first is Reluctant Burglar, and the second is Reluctant Runaway. Once you meet Desiree Jacobs and her special agent, Tony Lucano, you'll be hooked. A friend of mine took them on vacation and was accused of being antisocial because she kept excusing herself to a back bedroom to read.

Keep reading!

Teresa

Monday, January 29, 2007

Time Passes

Time goes fast, whether we're having fun or not! An update on NanoWriMo: I ended up with a bit over 10,000 words, which is nowhere near what I would have liked. Still, I'm grateful.

I've just returned from the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships in Spokane, Washington. What a joy to see the novice and junior divisions as well as the seniors! What incredible potential we have coming up.

On the 17th of February from 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m., I'll be signing books at Hastings Book and Music in Kennewick, Washington. I'd love to see you there.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

And So It Goes...

Life happens. Unfortunately, because of a few surprises, and a loss of almost a week and a half, I'm no where near where I'd like to be. As of this moment, I'm at 8,512 words. But, I still have eleven days. Good thing I can type over 100 words per minute.

Tata!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Courage and Fearlessness

I've managed to survive days one and two of NaNoWriMo. As of the end of Day 2, I've written a grand total of 3141 words. The arms and hands are behaving themselves. I'm happy to note that my internal editor has had little to say.

Did you know that where writing is concerned, there's a difference between courage and fearlessness? Ralph Keyes, in The Courage to Write, said:

Working writers aren't those who have eliminated their anxiety. They are the ones who keep scribbling while their heart races and their stomach churns, and who mail manuscripts with trembling fingers. The key difference between writers who are paralyzed by fear and those who are merely terrified is that--like E. B. White--the latter come to terms with their anxieties. They learn how to keep writing even as fear tries to yank their hand from the page. They find the courage to write.

Why do so many of us write in fear and trembling? Because we want desperately to communicate the souls of our characters. Though I've heard many writers say that their characters are complete fabrications with no connection to themselves. My characters come from deep within me. In every story I leave a piece of my own soul.

By the grace of God I won't fall short. I've only just begun digging deeper within myself.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

On Your Marks... Get set ...



While my husband is answering the door for Trick or Treaters, I'm making last minute preparations for the NaNoWriMo ordeal. This year, it's about putting a gag in the mouth of my internal editor. He's tormented me for much too long. I've put aside revisions to book #3 and am writing draft material on a new book, so far without even a working title.

So far I have a character and a bit of her background, and I know what she wants. I also know who doesn't want her to get it, and why. Well, a few someones, anyway. That's what I consider as the basis of any book. That ensures the conflict.

Now I have to figure out what happens next and who these characters become.

Ahhh. Here comes the fun part.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What Kind of Insanity?





In case you didn't know, November is National Novel Writing Month. A challenge. Call it a dare if you like, plenty do. This is the month when tens of thousands of ordinarily sane writers around the world challenge themselves or one another to a ridiculous feat of endurance: Write a 50,000 book in a month. You get thirty-one 24 hour days, and not one word is allowed before November 1 or after November 30. Prewriting and plotting are great, the planning of characters and conflict are fine, too. But not one word of the book.

If we reach that coveted 50,000 word mark, we win... what? An icon much like the ones above, only it says WINNER! You get the satisfaction of having done it. The words don't have to sing or even yodel. They just have to be.

How many people long to write a book, to be published, to communicate... something. They yearn for the time when their children are older, more independent. They wait for the time when they can devote themselves full time to the task. Many promise themselves they'll do it after they retire. They never do it, sadly.

The thing about this challenge that brings me joy is knowing that so many people are actually doing it. It's just for a month, you know. They can write every day for a month. Some will enjoy the exercise, then put their manuscripts away and never look at them again. That's great. But some will continue even after November. They'll go back to those words they wrote in such a hurry and they'll revised and rework them. They'll strengthen their characters, cut out the deadwood and prune their dialogue. Some will polish their books and send them out, only to have them come back in what seems to be return mail. Or, they'll hear nothing at all for months.

Eventually, some of those books will get published. Yes, it has happened.

Either way, I applaud them. Oh, there are those that take offense How dare these people call themselves writers! Just the mention of NaNoWriMo Director Chris Baty's book "No Plot, No Problem" makes them crazy. A novel needs a plot!! Often, they resent someone who spent a month typing 50,000 thousand words of unintelligible drivel calling themselves a writer, or worse, an author.

In a way, I understand where they're coming from. They've worked long and hard, many for decades sweating blood over each book, each word. They've struggled to understand and learn this business. After rejections and despair they get "the call". They're published. Then, one day at the gym someone announces that they've just completed their first book and wants to know the name of their agent. They want fast action because they worked on it for a whole month!

My response: You can't fix a blank page, only one with words on it.

I still support this program. In 2005 they had over 59,000 participants. Almost 10,000 people world-wide wrote their 50,000 words.

In addition, in 2004 and 2005 the NaNoWriMo organization contributed over $20,000 to Room to Read to build libraries for kids in Cambodia. Those libraries are up and running now.

Check out their web site: http://www.nanowrimo.org

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Spiritually-Minded Puppies


I've been told that the difference between man and animals is that though animals have a mind, will and emotions, they do not have an everlasting spirit that communes with God. The gentleman that explained this to me said that the thing that proved this to him was that he'd never returned home to find his beloved Yorki--Teddy, by name--sprawled out on the floor communing with God.

After a search of the scriptures, I had to wonder. The book of Revelation speaks of Christ returning to earth on a white horse. In the Old Testament, the Lord used a donkey to rebuke a disobedient prophet.

Not only does God use our pets in our every day life to bring us joy and comfort, to amuse and inspire us, he uses them and all His creation to demonstrate His glory and majesty.

This little cocker spaniel is Misty. Two years ago God healed her of a particularly nasty anemia. Her red blood cells had broken down, flooding her kidneys and liver with bilirubin beyond their capacity to process. Beneath her black fur, her skin turned a fluorescent crayon-box yellow. She had to have transfusions and around the clock care. She was critically ill for six days.

One morning after picking her up at the after hours emergency care vet, I headed to the church. One dear gentleman, a food ministry volunteer, got down on his knees in the parking lot in thirty degree weather to pray for my dog.

Misty is still with us, as cunning and mischievous as ever. To God be the glory. I have no doubt He touched her.

The scripture says that God knows when every sparrow falls to the ground. So, will my cockers live in heaven with me? Perhaps my friend is right. Perhaps not. Still, I couldn't resist the image his words created.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Writing in Fear and Trembling... and in Faith


1 Corinthians 2:1-5
And I, brethren, when I came to you,
I did not come with excellence of speech
or of wisdom
declaring to you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know anything among you
except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching
were not with persuasive words of human wisdom
but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men
but in the power of God. (NKJV)


Odd, isn't it, that a writer would find this scripture comforting, but I do. Before his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul was brilliant, one of the most learned men of his time, and had every reason to be confident in the gifts God had given him. Still, sixteen years after his conversion, he still felt the need to depend heavily upon God. Paul didn't want to be limited to his own best. For his beloved children in Christ, Paul wanted God's best.

I've had times during my writing career when words came hard. Even prose that couldn't sing, came hard. My most interesting characters either uttered clich├ęs or stared sullenly into space.

During those times, I've cried out to God. Why? You've called me to write, so why can't I? What am I doing wrong? Why do my words have no life, no emotion? Tell me what to do! At this point, I'd have settled for melodrama. Writing should be a joy, a thrill. Instead, what I perceived as my failure filled me with despair.

When I've reached that point, and have done everything I know to do, everything that's ever worked to release the flow of thoughts and words, I've learned to stop and turn off the computer. Then, I seek the face of God, and then sit quietly in His presence, waiting. The Holy Spirit sometimes prompts me with this question:

"Why are you putting yourself through this?"

"Why, for you!" I said. "I'm doing this for you! I want to show your love to the world."

After I'd heard my own words, He opened my eyes and I realized the truth. I'd lost focus, and without realizing it, I'd begun to depend solely upon myself and my own giftings to write this impossibly ambitious book.

God reminded me that without Him I may be able to write a suspense novel that would keep the most critical of reviewers up until they'd turned the last page. If that happens, great, but that alone is not what I'm called to do.

My calling is to allow God to enable me to write stories that use His power not only to entertain, but bring hope to reader who is discouraged, to proclaim God's unfailing love and forgiveness, to show the world that there is no place a human heart can go that God cannot follow.

Someone once asked me if I ever had doubts about my ability. Absolutely, I do. Often, in fact. But I don't doubt God's. Not any longer. Several times I've even tried to quit writing, but God keeps calling me back. I know that if I quit, when I look back on my life, I'll know I've have failed. So in faith, I continue. I still have to study my craft and work hard. I have to exercise discipline. I have to show up at the page whether I feel like it or not. God helping me, I'll do it.

When my doubts threaten to overwhelm me, I return to another favorite scripture:

"... being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."
- Philippians 1:6

Photograph copyright Greg Morgan,
Stained glass window of New Hope Community Church, Clackamas, Oregon

Friday, September 01, 2006

Smart Cat


I adore animals of all kinds, with the exception of rodents and bugs. This fellow belongs to a old friend of mine. Some would question his sanity. If I found myself in this position, I'd probably need a chiropractor. Linda caught him during a time of intense play, and he stayed in this position only for only the instant she snapped the picture. He scampered across the grass in just a few leaps and up the side of the fence. Something he does even while in the house. But, I can't look at this picture without smiling.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Summary of My Afternoon

A new friend of mine generously allowed me to share her thoughts on writer's block. I couldn't agree with her more. Swing by and say hello to her at http://www.betsy-ann.blogspot.com.


A Summary of My Afternoon
by Betsy Ann St. Amant

Writers block, you really stink
I need an idea, I need a link!
What to say? Where to go?
My spirits have sunk so very low.

I need a gimmick, I need a plan
My heroine desperately needs a man!
Adjectives and adverbs, don’t fail me now!
Prepositions and nouns, please tell me how!

What will I do? How will this end?
Time ticks by that I don’t have to spend.
The pressure mounts, the page stays bare
My eyes glaze over as I continue to stare

Tension builds, desperation rises
A blank manuscript just doesn’t win prizes!
The end is looming, the tunnel is dark
My palms are sweaty until – hark!

What’s that? A word? It glimmers bright
I type it out, the tunnel flickers light
Another word follows, behold, a phrase!
Oh precious muse, promise you’ll stay!

I’m on a roll - now, a paragraph!
When this is over, I just might even laugh.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

An Act of Hope

Writing is an act of hope. It means carving order from chaos.
– Jack Heffron, The Writer's Idea Book

That just about says it. All the sounds, smells, scenes, fragments of scenes, thoughts and surges of emotions must be pulled into order. As I begin a new book, the characters' faults and failures, their kindnesses and cruelties, the why's and how's of their actions, make my head spin. They're all a part of the heroine's struggle to overcome what she must, or die trying.

Sitting down at the computer is an act of hope. Communicating the essence of the characters and their stories is always a challenge. Sometimes it's as much a struggle for me to write the story as it is for the character to live it out. Still, there's a joy in the struggle.

Discovering, the struggle as well as the joy that comes with it, is something I crave. These characters won't leave me alone. This book, tentatively titled No Greater Gift, has been a stretch for me. The plotline is more intricate than any I've attempted before, and the characters face more than choices between not just stark right and wrong.

This is another book of my heart so, as Jacob wrestled with the angel, I keep wrestling with this book. One of my characters is trying to be mysterious. He probably thinks that because his mission in London during WWII is secret, that his deeper thoughts and emotions must be, too. Perhaps he's annoyed that tis isn't "his" story. He's got another think coming.

On to work! Blessings to you today

Teresa