Friday, May 12, 2017

Pens of Praise -- May 15th 6:30 - 8:30

May 15, 2017
Monday 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Faith Church
2201  42nd Street, Manitowoc, WI  54220
   Faith Church is located next to Festival Foods
   Not far from the Manitowoc exit off Interstate 43
Jumping Off the Page is our topic this month.  Our very own Rebecca McLafferty will teach the class. Bring your pens or computer and capture the wisdom of using reality that draws readers to our pages. Are you ready to experience the amazing journey of writing with the pacing and rhythm that you were born to express?
We are a safe place to share. We invite you to bring your
WIP (Work in progress!) for a five-minute read.
The prompt for May is…
Writing with description or heart-felt experience so lush you can pick it off of the page...
Use your imagination for this one!
We will share a couple of book titles that research writing mystery and integrating emotion for your WIP!
Bring your favorite coffee or tea with you! J
As always, if you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact Becky McLafferty @ or

Monday, May 8, 2017


Regina Scott is an award-winning novelist. “Bold, rugged—and bound to be grooms.” Who can resist such a tag line? Certainly, not me!


A Convenient Christmas Wedding is an 1866 Christmas tale that entertains! Nora Underhill’s predicament draws my sympathy and her fixes are fun and entertaining. With such a family—who needs enemies? Oh Nora, you are quite the girl! This lovable character wins my heart, causing me to cheer her on through each and every situation she faces. The story has clever problems and worthy solutions that kept me smiling and wishing for the best.

Logger, Simon Wallin, is a man of action, when felling trees and providing for his family, but not necessarily for matrimonial commitments.  When Nora proposes, he is shock, especially when her offer starts to make sense and benefits them both. This solution dissolves into a wonderful conflict of wills. Twists and turns in their relationship happen when both her family and his ply their influence—for better or worse.  

Her characters are winsome and diverse. I loved this novel so much I contacted Regina and asked her if she would have time for questions and a review. I’ve popped onto her WEB page blog, which is entertaining and informative. This is a place I will be revisiting and her novel is a definite reread! I’m looking forward to ordering more of her books! To think this all started with my plan to read Christmas novellas and novels throughout the year and to challenge my blog visitors to do the same! Aren’t you glad I did!

  • This is the first Regina Scott historical novel that I’ve read. I was delighted to find A Convenient Christmas Wedding. Regina how did you come up with this wonderful predicament?    The Wallin family, of whom the hero Simon is a member, first appeared in Would-Be Wilderness Wife. I call it my “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” book, because they are all loggers living in the wilderness with few ladies about. Drew, the oldest, has had to raise his younger brothers and sister after their father died in a logging accident. Simon, only 2 years younger than Drew, chafed at his leadership. Simon is logical, firm in his convictions. Even though he’s lived in this large, gregarious family, he’s felt a little like an outsider. I knew I had to find a compassionate, sweet-natured woman to partner him if he was ever to find love. The local seamstress Nora, with all her whimsy, starts out their relationship by appealing to logic that was impossible for Simon to resist. Then, gradually, he begins to find Nora hard to resist.
  • Can I pry from you a mention of your favorite scene in this novel? (Or if that would give too much away—what is your third favorite scene and why?) I happen to love the wedding scene!   I love the wedding scene too! One of my favorite scenes is when Simon’s family tries to maneuver him into a game that will reveal his growing feelings for Nora. It’s a game where you have to think of a person, their occupation, and a characteristic as to why they are lovable. The game was actually played in the 1800’s. For example, if you started the game , you’d say “I love my love with an A, for his name is Adam, he is an architect, and he’s very amiable.” Simon’s family goes through all kinds of shenanigans to make sure he lands on the letter N, and he is just oblivious! You have to love a family who wants the best for you, even when you don’t know what’s best yet.
  • I love the depth of personality you show in the characters as your story progresses. Do any of the characters remind you of real life people or movie characters?    I sometimes cast family and friends in roles in my stories, but I didn’t with this book. I do often take a movie star or model as my physical idea of a character. I pictured Simon as a Val Kilmer as he was in Top Gun. He has that kind of sharp energy.
  • What is the most important take-away you hope your readers will enjoy? (Without giving away too much of your story.)   That family isn’t so much what you were born into, but who you choose to love.
  • If you could compare one of the characters in this book to yourself then whom would most resemble you?   I’d love to say Nora. I envy her boundless love and optimism, despite circumstances. But I’m afraid I’m a bit more like Simon. Show me the logic, and I’m generally a happy girl.
  • When it comes to writing who was your greatest encourager? (If you have many we will not hold you to formulating a whole list. 😊   The Lord. He gives me the ideas; He gives me the words. I also have a wonderful critique partner who is so good about pointing out places to improve in the kindest of ways. It’s funny, but most of my family and friends still seem a bit surprised by the whole thing, even after 35 books!
  • I saw—because I was poking around on your WEB page—that you write in different time periods. I’m very interested in your Lady Emily Capers!  I must know… do you have a favorite time period?   I adore the regency period in England. I’ve set more than 20 stories there, including my Lady Emily Capers. But I find so much fascinating in history that I’m glad to be able to write in other periods as well. And it is nice to be writing about history in my own backyard with my Frontier Bachelors series, set around pioneer Seattle. I can go visit some of the places I’m writing about and I don’t have to get on an airplane!
  • How do you want your readers to follow or contact you?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

       Thank you Regina for an engaging interview! I've ordered Secrets and Sensibilites, book 1 in the Lady Emily Capers, which I will enjoy as soon as time allows. I'll review Regina's The Bride's Matchmaking Triplets due to be published this June!






Friday, April 28, 2017

Fresh Beginning Devotion

Fresh Beginnings

By Susan Marlene

April 17, 2017

“Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’

Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.

Matthew 27:63 & 65 - 66

The sun had already risen that early morn at the beginning of the week on the third day.  Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome made their way to the tomb to anoint their precious Jesus. Who would roll away the rock for them? Surprise shook awake any lingering slumber and shoved aside grief with a fresh desire to run. The guards were not to be seen and the huge rock—rolled aside—allowing free entrance. Fear sped their feet into the tomb.

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified. He is risen!” The young man clothed in a long white robe—sitting on the right side—seemed to wait for their arrival in order to offer a message bursting with fresh beginnings. A message and warm welcome they’d not expected.

How so like our Lord, to show His power when the world expects weakness. To create wondrous blessings out of our deepest griefs. To bring hope and joy when the world is shrouded in darkness and despair.

His Word is alive and active, rich and strong and creative. Relationship with Him dissolves religious trappings that always follows the old-form boxed-in traditions without locating the heart. His grace drew the masses, His love conquered hate. His presence ignited life in His followers. Every changed heart and saved soul is a miracle and new beginnings abound where His life is evident.

We are writers and the challenges lie in the tilt of our pens. Will we align ourselves to relay His character in our hero’s natures. Will our stories alarm and grip our readers because we write what matters? Will our heroic themes influence our readers to be more, feel more, and stretch further to find the highest and best? Wouldn’t that be something—to discover that what we wrote introduced others to their fresh beginnings. What if our words were used to free people from the discouragement and harshness that living can bring and introduce them to the one who matters most?  

He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her

 desert like the garden of the Lord, joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving

and the voice of melody.

Isaiah 51:3


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Becky Melby - Wisconsin Writer Speaking in Manitowoc

Burlington, Wisconsin writer speaking at Pens of Praise!
Becky Melby, author of fiction and lover of story, is our speaker for this Pens of Praise meeting--Monday, April 17th. She will be sharing a wealth of information concerning traditional and indie publishing. 
If you dream about writing your own fiction and want direction on how it is done, come and listen to one who has experience.
Visit her on

April 17, 2017
Monday 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Faith Church
2201  42nd Street, Manitowoc, WI  54220
   Faith Church is located next to Festival Foods
   Not far from the Manitowoc exit off Interstate 43
The prompt for this April is…
Fresh beginnings...
We will share a couple of book titles that research writing mystery and integrating emotion for your WIP!
Bring your favorite coffee or tea with you! J
As always, if you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact Becky McLafferty @ or


Monday, March 20, 2017


March 20, 2017
Monday 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Faith Church
2201  42nd Street, Manitowoc, WI  54220
   Faith Church is located next to Festival Foods
   Not far from the Manitowoc exit off Interstate 43

Page Turning Mystery and Emotion is our topic this month. Susan Marlene will teach the class. Bring your paper, pens and or computer to be ready for wisdom tucked between the pages of The Emotional Craft of Fiction by Donald Maass! Are you ready to experience the amazing journey of writing with the pacing and rhythm that you were born to express?

We are a safe place to share. We invite you to bring your
WIP (Work in progress!) for a five minute read.

The prompt for this March is…
The Mysterious __________________________ in my life.
Use your imagination for this one!

We will share a couple of book titles that research writing mystery and integrating emotion for your WIP!

Bring your favorite coffee or tea with you! J

As always, if you have any questions or concerns don’t hesitate to contact Becky McLafferty or

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"A Royal Chritstmas Wedding" by Rachel Hauck


Rachel Hauck’s A ROYAL CHRISTMAS WEDDING, The Royal Wedding Series

As Christmas 2016 approached, our Pens of Praise readers group wanted a short, yet appealing read. We selected A Royal Christmas Wedding from The Royal Wedding Series. Avery Truitt and Prince Collin of Brighton Kingdom have a past. How can they move beyond that to have a future—or will they? This story has a charming sense of humor sprinkled throughout, as well as depth. The character’s emotions and reasons for ‘why’ they do what they do, make these pages hard to close at night. I know for I’ve experienced this! Her varied and unique characters made me feel as though I’ve met them on the street while out shopping.

Rachel has a marvelous way of bringing the mystique of God’s presence into the lives of common everyday people—or shall I say her characters in her novels and novellas. This is not an overdone quality, but something extra that pulls me into her stories on a deeper level.   I love the thrill of excitement that charms my heart when I reach those places where her character’s predicaments are full of mystery, which ever stirs my thoughts beyond my everyday experience.

This reader was captivated from the very first line. I’m a sucker for pretty language and uncompromising excellence concerning layering depth and emotion that is genuine and relatable. Yes, you may wonder why I’m writing about a Christmas story when most of us long for spring and warmer weather. The reason is—because I can!  So, I’m extending a challenge to you and to myself. I wish to read Christmas stories throughout this whole year. Cold weather or hot. Can you read with me? Share with me what you are reading.

 Rachel Hauck is a favorite with our Pens of Praise readers group.  I hope that you will give this author a try. A Christmas Wedding offers discussion questions in the back of the book, which can enrich any book club experience or private read. I’ve enjoyed Avery and Colin’s challenges and victories and I invite you to do the same. Once you do, don’t hesitate to come back here and tell us what you thought.

Questions for Rachel:

1)      You used the mystery of the Lord’s involvement with mankind in your story once again! Very appealing, I must say. How did you come up with the Pembroke Chapel Bell legend? Was this interesting thread from some history or legend you found when researching?
RH: The idea for the chapel came from reading another book set in Scotland. I kept expecting the characters to come across some “mystery” but they never did. So, I hooked my feeling into an idea for A Royal Christmas Wedding. I knew it needed something beyond the natural to tie my two characters together and keep with a bit of a fairytale feel. I made up the legend.   

2)      What a beautiful mix of grief from loss and new life from a birth soon to happen. Did you intend to present life’s contrast from the conception of this story?
RH: A lot of times the contrasts just appear as I’m writing. If I notice them I pause to see if I can develop them more. If not, I just leave them as reader candy. 😊

3)      There is a fairytale magic in the way that you share Avery and Colin’s story. Did a particular fairytale inspire this Christmas novella?
RH: I’ve wanted to write a Christmas story for awhile but never had the chance. When Avery emerged as such a strong character in Once Upon A Prince, I knew she needed her own story. I might have mentioned the idea to my publisher but almost a year past before we agreed to do a Christmas wedding for Avery’s story. I’m so glad I had a chance to write it.

4)      What is your favorite fairytale of all?
RH: Cinderella. I’ve seen the animated version a dozen times, the latest live action film a few times and even saw it on Broadway. 😊

5)      What is the first childhood story that you remember being told and did it affect your writing today?
RH: I loved the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I read them over and over. I also loved biographies. I think reading about real people helped me want to write real-to-life characters.

6)      You know many writers and have helped many want-to-be writers, can you give us a few of your favorite authors names. (If this would get you into trouble – your favorite genres you love to read.)
RH: Ooo, well, I have to give a shout out to some of my writing buddies—Susan May Warren, Beth Vogt, Melissa Tagg, Denise Hunter, Colleen Coble, Lisa Wingate and Susan Meissner. I love Becky Wade and Roni Kendig.

I read a lit of literary or mainstream fiction. JoJo Moyes is a recent fun find.

7)      What would you like to share with your readers and would-be readers about the writing or message of this story?
RH: One of the themes that really popped in A Royal Christmas Wedding WAS THE Fatherhood of God over us. Colin had to grow up and learn to hear his heavenly Father above his earthly father. And do it while honoring both. God has a plan and destiny for each and everyone of us. Believe it and lean into it.

8)      Would you share a favorite recipe or simple joy with your readers?
RH: I don’t have recipes. LOL. Sorry. I’m not a recipe collector. But a simple joy for me is sitting out back on my deck, reading, praying, or playing the two chords I know well on the guitar. I can make up a lot of songs with those two chords!

9)      Any last words you would like to share?
RH: Thanks for having me! It’s an honor and a joy!

10)  How do you wish your readers to contact you?
RH: They can find me on social media through my web site at
Thanks so much Susan!!!!

            What a fun interview! Thank you Rachel! You may find Rachel's FB, Twitter, Google+, and     Instagram on her web page!

Monday, March 13, 2017

“An Admirable Scoundrel or Hero I Love”

By Susan Marlene

The character that drew my eye, the one that captured my admiration, is as complex as the making of an éclair. This male presents delicious layers of intelligence and ridiculous goof ups. He is sensitive and insensitive in just the right proportions. He is loyal and moral yet willing to bend the law because of his loyalty and love for his daughter.

When I first saw him, he was in a fight that produced a cut over his right eye—his prison friends’ ritual for leaving their penitentiary to re-enter society again. He moves in with a friend from prison. What is that—a rule breaker?  

This fellow comes from a position of weakness, though his is good looking and smart and clever he is unable to keep a legal job because of the felony he committed when exposing a wrong. Did he learn that doing two wrongs doesn’t make it right during his stint in prison? Certainly not in the beginning of this story.

He is presented an opportunity when his goal is to never “steal stuff” again. But to take hold of the opportunity so that he may redeem his name with his ex-wife in—order to see his daughter again—he must do exactly that. Steal stuff. But this stuff is under the protection of dangerous opposition. There are no guarantees and he actually eventually chooses to steal stuff to save society at large though risking his relationship with his daughter. Who is the hero I love?

Just a note from the éclair WEB page:

You might be able to find an eclair at every bakery on every street corner, but that doesn’t mean it came together in no time. This unassuming pastry requires the mastery of choux pastry, as well as pastry cream and the flavored glaze.

“Ant Man” – The incredible Scott Lang