Thursday, December 26, 2013

Book Review: Nightfall by, Laura Griffin

by M. J. Joachim

Nightfall is an interesting story, not particularly uncommon as stories go, but enjoyable enough to read. Set in the snowy, desolated terrain of Montana, Holly, the main character, faces certain trials while driving on icy roads. As is common in these situations, she ends up in trouble. I’d tell you more, but then I’d have to offer a spoiler alert, which might detract from you reading the book.

Someone else is traveling the road that night – typical boy meets girl scenario, something that doesn’t disappoint clear through the end of the book. Trouble surrounds Holly, quickly spreading to Colin who is dealing with troubles of his own, but can’t resist helping Holly anyway.

Nightfall is a light-hearted read that makes you wonder what will happen next, without keeping you in suspense too long. It’s a fun, light-hearted book meant to keep you entertained without overthinking. At least that’s how I read it, making it a wonderful choice after all the rush and excitement of Christmas.

You’ll see this one on my Recommended Reading List. It’s written well, with friendly characters to get to know, and a bit of drama/suspense to help you flip the pages.

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips. I hope your Christmas was wonderful and 2014 will fulfill your hopes, dreams and wishes.

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved

Photo credit: Marion Post Wolcott (1910 – 1990), U. S. Library of Congress, Public Domain

Links to this blog are greatly appreciated, but please don’t copy any content here.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

50 States of Pray Blogfest

by M. J. Joachim

Thank you Mark Koopman’s for hosting 50 States of Pray Blogfest.

Dear Lord, 

I’ve got all sorts of prayers to offer you this Christmas. You know I believe in Santa, and your power to make him real.

First and foremost, I pray for my Mom and all of us missing her this first holiday season without her. Please include the family in our area who lost their home to the fire last week. I heard about it on the news. And all those facing similar pains in their hearts, whether it be the loss of a special loved one, or Christmas dreams gone up in smoke.

The military is near and dear to my heart too, especially those carrying the horrors of war, imprinted on their souls. Wars come in all shapes and sizes. Some are violent, internal struggles, dealing with post traumatic stress and various hurts so difficult to deal with – may they find peace and grace, as they bravely face the nightmares they must embrace to survive.

Then there are the hungry, Lord, and those dealing with certain economic shortcomings, many through no fault of their own. Let the mothers and fathers sleep well, knowing their families have cherished Christmas memories this year, lack of money not detracting from the miracle of the season. Give them warmth, not only in their hearts, but also on those chill, cold winter nights. Keep their furnaces burning and their homes energized with blessings you alone can give. Keep their tummies full, and gift giving pleasant – not a burden they will worry about when all is said and done.

Bless the children, Lord…so many children wandering the streets, trafficked in far away places and lost to the world at large. Be their guiding light and strength, as they face another season all alone and ever so afraid. Bless the children struggling in their own homes too, the ones facing abuse and terror, in a home that should be safe.

The elderly are on my list today, as well as their caregivers – those in nursing homes and hospitals, those in their last earthly moments, preparing to go home. And bless their families, please. Make the transition from death to life, life to death, a more unifying experience, instead of one that tears them apart and breaks relationships forever.

I could go on and on, Lord. My prayers for you are big…you hear them every day. You know how much I love you, so this is what I pray. Peace on earth. Good will to men. Let hunger be far off. Essential needs met through the end, and love in every heart.

Happy Birthday, Jesus! Merry Christmas Holy Family! My gift to you is simple, a letter from the heart, and a will to trust you fully, in a world that’s falling apart. Needs and fears abound, broken hearts do soar. May each person find your miracle, and you be their shining star.

Merry Christmas Blog Land, and Happy New Year too!

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review: The Santa Next Door by Stephanie Cage

By M. J. Joachim

The Santa Next Door is a romance novelette that touches on a very important issue. It is the story of a broken-hearted man who lost a child through an abortion that was not his choice, a story of love gone wrong, only to have his spirit renewed by true love.

In this rapidly flowing story, the reader discovers the pain of loss renewed by the power of love and healing. The characters are easy to relate to, in a story of Christmas love and newfound hope. Set in a countryside in Wales filled with the magic of Christmas, Cage mystifies her characters, drawing readers into the rush and enthusiasm of the season. 

What is it about Bryn that makes him so endearing? And Sue, the single mother scared to find true love, especially from a stranger? How is it that Bryn can have such a tremendously loving heart, when clearly his reserved demeanor declare him lost, broken and unsociable? Love at first sight materializes in a moment in The Santa Next Door, and as it does so, readers are invited to explore the intensity of overcoming pain brought on by things beyond personal control. Readers are encouraged to explore things beyond themselves, and this particular reader couldn’t help but feel more compassion and understanding for those who have no choice.

The Santa Next Door will easily be added to my Recommended Reading List. It is a romance story with so much more, when you read between the lines.

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips today. I’m so glad I was able to share this book with you!

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved

Photo credit: Christmas decoration, GNU Free Documentation License

Links to this blog are greatly appreciated, but please don’t copy any content here.

Book Review: Silver Bells by Sadie Hart

By M. J. Joachim

I have to admit, I’ve never read a story about Santa and his reindeer quite like this before. There’s a sense of mystery and magic as the story unfolds. I felt like I was viewing the scenes through a snow globe, with a feeling of sad longing and hope that ultimately turned to joy.

Silver Bells is a short Christmas story that will melt the heart and bring the warmth of the season into your soul. Hart’s detailed descriptions draw you in, capturing your imagination and leaving you deceptively satisfied. If you’re intrigued by the thought of putting a new spin on traditional Christmas tales, while celebrating the true meaning of Christmas, this story will be an excellent read.

Silver Bells will happily be added to my Recommended Reading List.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and New Year, and hoping you have lots of warm holiday memories to share!

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: Infamusmobb00, Public Domain
Links to this blog are greatly appreciated, but please don’t copy any content here.

Book Review: A Very Holly Christmas & The Nine Lives of Christmas by Sheila Roberts

By M. J. Joachim
AVery Holly Christmas & The Nine Lives of Christmas are two heartwarming and fun short stories to read this time of year. The first is about a typical family – mom in high gear getting ready for the holidays, Dad and the kids “helping” her. There’s also a bit of a mystery that unfolds, with a delightful surprise ending. The second is about a homeless cat. C’mon, you know we all love cat stories, especially when they are filled with adorable cat antics and devilish behaviors. Dig a little deeper, and a thoughtful message prevails, leaving readers with lots of warm fuzzies and a few things to think about.

Because both stories are in the same book, it’s easy to read them consecutively without putting them down. And because they’re both short stories, they’ll be easy to fit into your busy schedule this time of year. I read them while the laundry was running, and I needed a bit of a break from the hectic day I was having. I could also have easily read them while waiting to see the doctor or pick up kids from school.

Needless to say, I’ll be adding both to my Recommended Reading List. They are perfect holiday additions for this time of year.

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips today. Please let me know if you read these stories and enjoy them as much as I did. Thanks.

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: Matthew Paul Argall, Creative Commons Attribution
Links to this blog are greatly appreciated, but please don’t copy any content here.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cheersfest 2013, Roasting Arlee “Lee” Bird

By M. J. Joachim

Juggling six blogs and a freakish endearment for the alphabet, Lee came up with the A – Z Challenge to satisfy his craving for scrambled eggs. Why settle for two birds in the bush, when you can host, post and brag about 26 letters, all dying to lay an egg in Blog Land, right?
Fry them, poach them, or make them soft-boiled. However, if you’re looking for Eggs Benedict and soufflé, look no further than the master blog juggler himself, played by John Lithgow.

Brown jackets being all the rage of serial killers these days, Lee tossed out the bird challenge idea (I mean how many blog posts can you write about making eggs anyway, right?), and daring us to keep up with his psycho-dynamic dream of immersing himself in syllabary rhetoric, Lee gets to have his eggs and eat them too.

Lee tosses it out, wrote by rote, dreaming of faraway views. In a few words, he juggles his Writer’s Workshop, all while being the Master Juggler of the A – Z Challenge. Not even a serial killer in a brown jacket would dare to attempt such a mind-blowing feat for scrambled eggs.

Cheersfest 2013 is hosted by Mark Koopmans, Morgan Shamy, David Powers King, Stephen Tremp and Alex Cavanaugh

Photo Caption
Bowling pins, the perfect weapon for my unsuspecting audience, hell-bent on making me drop these silly props. Just wait ‘til I get them all in the A – Z Challenge! May the best wordsmiths succeed!

This Writing Tips blog is hosted by me and I couldn’t be happier that you stopped in for a visit today! Thank you!
M. J. 

©2013 All Rights Reserved

Photo credit: John Lithgow, GNU Free Documentation License

Links to this blog and post are greatly appreciated. However, please don’t copy any content here.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Book Review: Evergreen, A Christmas Tale by Richard Taylor

By M. J. Joachim

At such a time when busyness and the hurried spirit of life can quickly become overwhelming, Evergreen, A Christmas Tale offers hope and love by reflecting the true meaning of the season. Taylor’s short story is a quick read, providing an opportunity to reflect without being burdened by an abundance of words.

The tale is about family, love, perseverance and peace – the peace we all seek during this joyful, energetic and animated season. It is also about overcoming trials and tribulations, told beautifully through the eyes of a family who had lost the Christmas spirit, only to be reminded of its true meaning by a grandfather preparing for eternity.

Evergreen, A Christmas Tale is my kind of Christmas story and will happily be added to my Recommended Reading List. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Best of the season to you all. Thank you for visiting Writing Tips.

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved
Links to this blog and post are greatly appreciated. However, please don’t copy any content here.
Photo credit: Snow in Colorado, USDA, Public Domain

Friday, December 6, 2013

Dream Destination Blog Hop

By M. J. Joachim

My dream destination is to go back east and see all of our United States National Landmarks. I want to see where the pilgrims landed, walk where the soldiers fought, visit the presidential monuments and the White House. I want to immerse myself in the history of this great land, taking in its beauty and history, and become completely absorbed by its culture and heritage. Fall would be an optimum time to see the leaves change to their fiery colors, but anytime would work for me.

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips today. I hope your weekend and preparations for Christmas or whatever holidays you might be celebrating this season are going well and turn out just the way you planned.

Thank you Julie and Lexa for hosting this captivating and fun-filled blog hop.
Best regards,

M. J.

©2013 All rights Reserved

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Book Review: Christmas Ideas, A Christmas Ideas Book by Sherrie Le Masurier

By M. J. Joachim

The title says a lot. Christmas Ideas, A Christmas Ideas Book is nothing if not repetitious. Granted, there are a whole lot of general and common ideas worth repeating throughout, but that’s just it. They are general and common sentiments expressed by so many of us as the holiday season approaches.

Because of this, I was looking for unique and original ideas, plus some added formatting (or lists) to make it easier to break down and follow. Busy families don’t have time to read paragraph after paragraph about being charitable and not running up bills they can’t afford. They need quick and easy tips, short lists and expeditious suggestions allowing them to implement those ideas without added hassle.

Overall, the book was fine and the ideas solid. It appears that a woman who’s been there, done that, wrote the book and shared her personal philosophy on how to do it too. Right down to keeping the dining room table set to prevent cluttering it up. I don’t know about you, but this idea is beyond unrealistic in my home. We live in our home, and keeping a centerpiece and full place settings on the table seems more appropriate for a display house, than one that’s trying to get ready for Christmas.

That’s not to imply de-cluttering is a bad idea. Keeping the clutter to a minimum is a must. However, keeping the table set 24/7 is positively out of the question in my home, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

As for minimizing spending, limiting and paying off credit card debt, drinking water instead of eating all that scrumptious holiday food and cutting lists in half etc. If it works for you, great! Personally, I think trying to follow the strict regimen in this book would stress me out more during the holidays. I would be more worried about who I slighted, not how much I saved by eliminating them from my list. That’s not to say I don’t spend within my means. I do. And charity is a huge part of the season for us too. It’s just that some of the ideas shared in this book are a bit extreme and not feasible during this time of the year.

Add in the common repetition throughout, and this book falls short of being included in my Recommended Reading List. Seriously, for a short book, it could have been a lot shorter. Add in a few typos and run-on sentences, and it didn’t quite make the cut.

That’s all for now, kind followers. My next post will be for Lexa and Julie’s Dream Destination Blog Hop. See you then!

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved
Links to this blog and post are greatly appreciated. However, please don’t copy any content here.
Photo credit: Malene Thyssen, A Danish Christmas Tree, GNU Free Documentation License

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Insecure Writers Support Group 120413

By M. J. Joachim

In a word or two, as authors, we are liked by our fans, those who visit us regularly, leave comments and promote our work via social media. We’ve made friends along the way, meeting more through various avenues – blog hops, book signings, Internet forums etc.

Many of us speak of writing as if it is the element of who we are, the very essence of our being. As much as I love my writing, I don’t want it to take over my life. I want it to be one more thing that fulfills my purpose for being, satisfies my need to communicate with the outside world and defines one aspect of who I am, key word being one.

Boundaries are important. Defining what is what, and how it plays in our world. If writing is my “job,” I don’t want to be a workaholic. If writing is my passion, I don’t want it to replace the passion in my marriage. If writing is my life, I refuse to forsake the children I’ve brought into the world and the family I’ve raised to make it even more so. 

Writing needs to be put into proper perspective, regardless of how or why we do it. It needs to be one aspect of who we are, not the sum total of what makes us who we hope to become. Certainly there are those who can pull it off, becoming recluses by choice, shutting out the world around them. For most of us, however, writing is only one aspect of our lives, determined to push its way into every other aspect. That’s okay, provided we know that writing isn’t the goal, if we lose everything else in the process. 

Boundaries and perspective – that’s what I want to share as food for thought in today’s Insecure Writers Support Group. Take stock and make valid decisions about what your writing means to you. Be honest with yourself and define your purpose and desire for writing, complete with pros, cons and everything in between. Then, and only then, determine your fate as a writer. Be the master of your destiny, defining how being a writer works for you, and not letting writing define who you are.

This post is part of IWSG, founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips today. I hope you’ll come back and see me again real soon.

M. J.

©2013 All Rights Reserved
Links to this blog and post are greatly appreciated. However, please don’t copy any content here.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pink Slips - d'Verse 120313

By M. J. Joachim

In fear
In the moment
A moment of dreaded doom
We gaze at the sky
Wondering why,
How it became so futile

From the promises
Of work in our midst
We fail to see the light
We shiver from the cold
That’s not quite there
Completely and utterly 

Of our senses
If only for a moment
To wallow in what
Might have been
Forgetting what is
As fear
Takes over our lives

Knocked down
Get back up again
Live the life you lead
Strangle the knot
Within your soul
That you might
Once again breathe
Being free
With who you are
One of the tiny, but brightest

Thank you for visiting Writing Tips today. This is a poem for d’Verse Open Link Night. Please, join us if you can.
M. J.

Links to this blog and post are greatly appreciated. However, please don’t copy any content here.