Woof! Jake the Boston Terrier, Interviews Donna Winters

As you know, I love dogs and have three of my own. The most outspoken of the three is Jake, a rescue dog. Jake is a Boston Terrier that a fellow blogger willed to me upon his death all the way from Pennsylvania. And since this boisterous canine is more than able to speak for himself, I’ll let him take it from here.


Woof! Welcome, Donna. I’m always excited to get to know my mom’s skin friends who enjoy the company of fur kids like me. Tell me, what in your childhood created a love for God’s creatures?

When I was very young, about four years old, my parents bought a Cocker spaniel puppy. I loved that dog, but after several months of training it, my mother was unable to housebreak it and it was re-homed with a family who had a nice outdoor doghouse for it. Soon after, my mother went back to teaching, and with both of my parents working full-time, my mother said it would not be fair to have a dog or cat and leave them home alone all day. Thankfully, my best friend from third through sixth grades lived on a dairy farm. Her family had cats and dogs. I slept over many, many weekends at her place and got my fill of pet cuddling. I always liked cats, but my husband forbids them. He grew up with a marvelous mixed-breed dog and wanted to adopt a dog early in our marriage, so I became a “dog person.”


Author, Donna Winters

What in your childhood created a love for writing?

I was the kid who always wanted to write letters to relatives and pen pals. Other kids hated writing letters, and even my pen pals couldn’t keep up. No one else in our family was a writer so my mother was perplexed about me becoming a writer of book-length fiction. I explained it by saying that writing is one form of being creative, and many in our family are, or were creative, including my mother who went to her heavenly reward in 2008.

What do you write?

Mainly, I write for my Great Lakes Romances® series. The books are historical romances set in Great Lakes cities and towns, mostly in Michigan. You can find them at http://www.GreatLakesRomances.com.

What are your favorite:

Wild animals: Since I live in the north woods, I love seeing the deer. They are especially graceful and peaceful, making me wonder: why can’t all of God’s creatures, both quadrupeds and bipeds, be more like the deer?

Domestic animals: Dogs and cats.

What pets do you currently have?

Currently we have Babe, an American Staffordshire Terrier mix (some call the breed “pit bull”). She is ten years old and was rescued the day before her scheduled execution in June 2010. We also have Buster, a Siberian husky mix who is supposedly 14 years old but looks and acts like about five years old.

Tell us about your work with shelter animals:

I am currently working on raising awareness of Adventures with Vinnie so that people will buy, read, and enjoy an entertaining and somewhat informative book on shelter dog adoption. My earnings from this book will go to animal shelters. In addition, any shelter manager or veterinarian who wants to resell the title will get the biggest discount CreateSpace will allow me to offer them, which currently is 35% off of the $10 (full color) paperback price.


Woof! Good work, Donna! How can we help?

Thanks for asking! There are many ways to help.

  • Read and review the book on Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Tell your local animal shelter to contact me about the reseller’s discount so they can use my book as a fundraiser.
  • Post your review on your Facebook timeline.
  • Write a blog post about it. (I’ll be glad to do an interview and book giveaway on your blog.)
  • Add the book to your blog sidebar for a while.
  • Share your review on Google+
  • Share your review on your other social media sites such as Pinterest, Reddit, and Twitter.
  • Tell your email contacts about it in a way that is not a spam pitch.
  • Offer to write a book review for your local newspaper.
  • Mention the book to your associates in groups you belong to such as civic organizations, school groups, and the like.
  • Give the book as a gift to your animal-loving friends.
  • Tell your veterinarian about the book and suggest selling it at his/her registration desk.

Where can your fans find you?

 Find my links at the bottom of my website home page:  http://www.GreatLakesRomances.com

Here’s some more about Donna:

Donna Winters lives with her husband and two rescued canines in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. She has nineteen books in print including fifteen historical romances, one historical novel, one contemporary romance, and two nonfiction titles. Learn more about her and her books at www.GreatLakesRomances.com.

Book Giveaway

Donna is willing to give away either a paperback or Kindle copy of her book to someone who comments on the post telling in a couple of sentences what he/she likes best about his/her pet. If you do not have a pet, tell about a pet you’ve met and liked, perhaps a dog or cat belonging to a relative, friend, or neighbor. Please be sure to leave your email address and add mine (bigwaterpub at gmail dot com) to your contact list so my winner notification won’t get caught in your spam filter.



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Is Sunday School Destroying Our Kids?: How Moralism Suffocates Grace by Samuel C. Williamson


My degrees are in Christian Education. So as soon as author Samuel C. Williamson asked me to read and review this book I jumped at the opportunity. Could it be that my life’s work has been for naught? Had I led a generation of kids and teens astray?

I had to wonder because some of the kids I’d worked with through the years had not only left church, but had also strayed from the Christian faith all together. Would this book hold the answers for me? Why was this happening?


I enjoyed this book so much that I want every teacher in my church to read it. This isn’t a book that slams Christian Education programs in the local church, but a book that explains the difference between the Good News of Jesus and the yolk of moralism that too many churches place upon their parishioners.

On page 71 the author writes: “Our hope doesn’t depend on how good we’ve been…Our hope depends on seeing Jesus.”


Are we revealing Jesus in the Old Testament stories? The Old Testament laws are to be a mirror showing us that we simply can’t ever be “good enough.” This mirror should make us grateful that we have a Savior. We can live in Grace. What freedom!

But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD Jeremiah 9:24.

Fact is, we can never be good enough for God. That’s why Jesus came. The message we need to send our kids in the Bible stories is that these people were able to act wise and good, ONLY because God’s GRACE enabled them and God’s GRACE strengthened them.


God’s beauty kisses the beast in us. God’s grace is immeasurable and that’s the message we should be teaching people of all ages all over the world.

Have I always incorporated this strong and most important message of grace? I’d like to think I have. But perhaps I could have done better. Perhaps the message of grace wasn’t clear enough. I am certainly determined to make it clearer now.

Needless to say, this book receives five stars from me. I think it’s a must-read for every Christian–especially if they are teaching. And writers, you are teachers.

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What do you remember most about Sunday School growing up? I’d love to talk with you about it in the comments below!

Autism and First Place Chili


Isaiah (L) and Isaac (R) Chili Champs three years running!

We’ve had a chili-cook-off tradition at our church for the past seven years or so. For the past three years my twin sons with autism have won first place!

The first year, they used my recipe and I guided them through the process. The second year their Dad’s recipe was used and Dad entered with them.

Last night they entered by themselves with Mom’s recipe and won again!

Isaac did all the veggie chopping himself with our Vidalia Onion Chopper.

VidaliaChopWizard3I don’t know what the secret to our chili is. I think it’s a pretty basic recipe. We make it just hot enough to sting a little, but not enough to make people run for the water fountain. We do live in the north. I think our chili is milder than those in Texas. However, I do love the tickle if cayenne pepper in my nose, don’t you?


My secret ingredient? I think it might be butter. My secret recipe sautes the onions and peppers in butter. I also use a very high quality beef grown locally and humanely.

What’s the secret ingredient in your chili?


Tweet this: Congratulations to Isaiah and Isaac for winning the chili cook-off!

Erica’s Edition: Hello to Karla’s Readers!

Today’s Post is the first in what I’m calling “Erica’s Edition.” Erica is my college intern this semester. Take it away, Erica!


How scary do you find it writing to someone you’ve never met? It’s a pretty daunting task for me, so I figured–why not start by telling you a little about myself?  That seems like a pretty easy way to break the ice.

I grew up in Pittsboro, IN (it’s pretty small) and went to a great school (it has actually been in the news lately)!

Students Make Touching Choice at Homecoming

I played soccer from the age of 6 up until 19 and my best friends were my teammates. I have a little brother who’s turning 14 next Monday. I never really got along with him until this past year. Luckily we’re starting to have things in common (like playing Minecraft) that we can talk about.


I’m in my junior year at Manchester University studying English. There is so much I love about Manchester. The small class size is excellent—I mean right now I have one class, Lit Theory, that only has 3 people in it and my Expository Writing class only has 5 people. When people say small class sizes I always pictured between 10-20 people, but this extreme is nice because it allows the professor to understand each one of us and awards us the opportunity to get off topic in class while still remaining relevant to our subject and our lives. Today in Expository Writing we had a 10 minute discussion about one of the girls starting an Engagement Planning business, a la The Wedding Planner (2001).


I also really love the chances that I have to be involved. Right now, I’m co-editing our literary arts magazine, Spectrum, and although it’s keeping me super busy because I’m trying to find new ways to promote it on campus, it’s really rewarding. I get to look at great art and read amazing stories and poems. I even had the privilege of speaking with MU’s president, Jo Young Switzer, about submitting a story to us, which she very graciously did.


Part of what is going to make me busier this semester is my wonderful opportunity to work with Karla. I’m lucky enough to have a professor who recognizes my desire to work as an editor and brought the idea up to me (another great thing about MU).  I’m glad for this opportunity because of the exposure to online promotion Karla is giving me. Under her guidance, I’ve started my own blog, The Slanted Shelf.


I’m proud of my blog title and I’ve had a couple comments on it so far. I named it “The Slanted Shelf” because I have a wall of bookshelves in my room at home and we live in a fairly old house, so the floors are a little uneven, giving my bookshelves the appearance of being slanted. (Unfortunately those are not my books, but I hope to have a collection like that some day!)

Although I’m going to be busy this semester and sometimes have difficulty coming up with topics to write about, I know that I’m going to have an amazing time and a lot of fun working with Karla. I’m going to be looking forward to writing for Karla’s blog weekly and look forward to hearing back from you all!


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Introducing Writing Intern, Erica Graphman!

I’m thrilled to introduce my new college intern, Erica Graphman, to my readers!


You can read Erica’s blog here: The Slanted Shelf. 

She will be helping me with my online presence via social media and blogging.

Erica grew up in Pittsboro, Indiana, population 3000. (North Manchester’s population is 6000.) Here’s what she had to say about moving to North Manchester to attend Manchester University.

Why did you decide to become an editor after you graduate?

My senior year of high school one of my English teachers was trying to help me find a career path for me and he suggested looking into majoring in English since I love reading so much. After some research, I set my mind on editing.

Why did you decide to attend Manchester University?

Manchester has a great community. It’s very similar to my hometown, but a little bigger. There was still some change in size, which I wanted, and it was away from home but not too far that I couldn’t go back whenever I wanted.



Reading, running (when it’s warm enough), watching movies

Okay, I’m with you on the reading and movies, but I’ll leave the running to you. What’s your favorite color?


Favorite food?

Strawberries! My grandma has a patch and grows them every year. They’re best when you pick them and eat them while they’re still warm from the sun! 🙂


I agree with you there, Erica! That’s my absolute favorite, too! And my grandma raised them as well. So I know exactly how sun-kissed strawberries taste. Nom!

Erica will be interning with me until the end of spring semester. I’m excited that we’ll be working together as she has a keen interest in editing and building a career doing so. She’ll also be posting on my blog once a week or so. Please join me in welcoming her to the team!


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Autism + blizzard + flu = one tired Mama!

So, I now have two sick autie men (my kids with autism are 19 now), and there’s a blizzard outside.

What could be more fun, right?


I’m supposed to be working on two overdue manuscripts, but instead I’m feeding chicken soup to the two curled up together watching Downton Abbey. That’s not all bad, I suppose.


But books and stories don’t write themselves. And while everyone else is snoozing and snuggling, and watching TV, I’m off to the office to feel sorry for myself that I can’t snooze and snuggle, too.

Oh, poor me. First World problems.

I’ll just remind myself I’m not out digging ditches in that blizzard. That should do it.

What do you do to motivate yourself to keep writing on lazy-feeling days?

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The perfect conditions for treating a patient with autism


Lutheran Hospital Fort Wayne, Indiana

I have long wanted to write a book for the medical community about how to deal with patients with autism. Our normal experiences with medical personnel as the twins were growing up, were less than admirable. Autism wasn’t known about as much as it is now. And I’m happy to report, after our experiences last Wednesday, that I have come up with the perfect formula for successfully treating a patient with autism.


Isaiah and a nurse

  • Order up a huge snowstorm. If you do that, the hospital will be overstaffed and there will be a minimum amount of patients because most of them will call in and reschedule their procedure. Because we were there when hardly anyone else was, Isaiah had plenty of nurses and attention.

A cozy nook I didn’t get to use. Oh well. Maybe next time.

  • Check into a cozy hotel. Because of the snowstorm we drove to Fort Wayne the night before so we wouldn’t be unable to get there for the procedure. Isaiah had worked himself up quite a bit, and delaying this would not have served him well. So we got to spend a “bonding” night together at a local hotel. Now, Isaiah is very familiar with staying at hotels because we travel a lot. For regular kids with autism not accustomed to travel, it would have been very stressful. It was actually stress-reducing for us because we didn’t have to rush around in the snow (we live about 45 minutes away from the hospital and the hotel was only about five minutes away).

A lovely breakfast buffet — alas, we couldn’t partake! (Isaiah wasn’t allowed to eat.)

  • Be prepared for blood-curdling screams. Because the room where they prepped Isaiah was almost empty, his howls when they put in the I.V. only scared about 1.5 patients. I checked, and no one ran away in terror, so that’s good. Plus, he had plenty of nurses to comfort him once the I.V. went in. He was spoiled big time because they were over-staffed.
  • Let the patient take lots of pictures of surgeons and doctors. Because it was a slow snow day, the doctors were very laid back and allowed us to stay with Isaiah in the procedure room until he was asleep! That never happens, as you know. They also took time to pose for pictures. They got to know Isaiah as a person. That can’t always happen in a busy hospital.

Isaiah with Dr. Ahmed. Isaiah becomes attached to those who are his doctors or caregivers. He wanted a picture with everyone.

  • Profusely thank all the nurses. In recovery Isaiah had six or seven nurses paying attention to him. He thanked each and every one. It was precious and he was the rock star of the day.

Isaiah shook hands with and thanked every single nurse.

As you can see, having your offspring with autism treated well, simply takes ordering up a mega-snowstorm from the weather guy or gal. No biggie. You can handle that. After all, you’re a parent with autism — you’re accustomed to serving up miracles.

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Whoa! This book is tingly!



Imagine slipping on a special vest before curling up with a good book. The vest senses your reactions to the protagonist in the story and gives you goosebumps, or startles you.

This is a real thing now.

Welcome to the future. It is here.

A student project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has resulted in a vest they call Sensory Fiction. The idea came as a result of research that shows that reading a novel can trick your brain into thinking you’re actually experiencing what is happening in the book.

Sensory Fiction is “a new means of conveying plot, mood and emotion while still allowing space for the reader’s imagination.” according to the project website.



More from the project website:

“Traditionally, fiction creates and induces emotions and empathy through words and images.  By using a combination of networked sensors and actuators, the Sensory Fiction author is provided with new means of conveying plot, mood, and emotion while still allowing space for the reader’s imagination. These tools can be wielded to create an immersive storytelling experience tailored to the reader.



To explore this idea, we created a connected book and wearable. The ‘augmented’ book portrays the scenery and sets the mood, and the wearable allows the reader to experience the protagonist’s physiological emotions.

The book cover animates to reflect the book’s changing atmosphere, while certain passages trigger vibration patterns.”



Other student projects included a robotic arm similar to one from “Star Wars” and a version of Ice-9 from Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle.”

Check out how it works in the video below:

SENSORY FICTION from Felix on Vimeo.

So what do you think? Would you like to wear this vest? Or use your imagination?

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