Live Blogging Realm Makers Conference: Keynote Speaker Tosca Lee


What an amazing day I’ve had at Realm Maker’s conference today!

This morning’s Keynote Speaker was best-selling author, Tosca Lee. If you’ve never read any of her books, I highly recommend you do. Her style and voice are unique and powerful. As I wrote before, she has a voice akin to liquid velvet. I can’t get enough of her.


Did you know that she cut her eyeteeth in the writing realm with online gaming? Who’d have thunk it? But it makes sense to me now. She spent hours and hours creating a character and a world playing a role playing game. In fact, the character she developed and eventually “killed” has a fandom! People to this day write poems and tributes to this character.


Now, I’m not into role playing games. I’ve never “got” that lifestyle. In fact, I’ve protected myself from that sort of fantasy life because I didn’t understand it, feared it, and was concerned that with my personality I’d become addicted to it.


But as it turns out, lovely Tosca was once the Overlord of a gaming community that still holds tournaments in her character’s honor. Talk about creating a powerful character! This character was so real to those playing this game that they mourned her and continue to this day to honor her. Wow. Can I create characters like that? Can you?


Following Tosca’s keynote address, I attended a workshop entitled “Touching Evil: Reflections on Writing Villains and their Villainy.” The take-away for me was when he said that the villain is the measuring stick for the hero. Excellent stuff!

LB Graham and Cover

This afternoon Steve Laube spoke about the ins and outs of being represented by an agent.

SteveLaube2Jeff Gerke presented a workshop on “The So-Called Rules of So-Called Fiction and what to So-Called do with Them.” As always Jeff was engaging and funny.


Lisa Walker England taught on Steampunk, which is the reason I’m here as I have several steampunk novels running through my head. Doesn’t she look great in her costume? (She’s pictured below with Ben Wolf.)


 The last presenter before the evening awards banquet was Kat Heckenbach who spoke on writing YA.


The banquet tonight was attended by various unique and special guests:









The Clive Staples Award for the best in Christian Speculative Fiction this past year went to Patrick W. Carr for A Cast of Stones!

Carr - A Cast of Stones

The Parable Award for best-designed cover on a speculative fiction book directed to the Christian or family-friendly market went to Numb by John W. Otte.


The food was delicious and my brain is just as full as my stomach. I’ve learned a lot today and can hardly wait until tomorrow morning to start all over again!


Click to tweet: Best-selling author Tosca Lee!

Live blogging from Realm Makers Conference with BREAKING NEWS!


I’m in Radnor, PA for the Realm Makers Conference! I am a slightly surprised to find myself here but there’s a nagging in my heart to learn how to write compelling YA, specifically in the Steampunk vein.

I’m not really sure what to expect, but so far things are good. On my drive to Pennsylvania there was a rainbow! That’s a good sign, right?


It took me two days to drive here from Indiana. Today before I checked into the conference I stopped at a mall in King of Prussia, PA, and had lunch at Ruby’s Diner. The clam chowder was so scrumptious I was tempted to order another cup!


I sat in the diner and worked on my work in progress. I was pleasantly surprised to discover I can write pretty well in a diner environment. I need to try it again. Although, there aren’t any diners in my neck of the woods. Certainly not ones that have such great decor.




I was wishing my guys were with me to enjoy such pretty bikes!

The conference is on Villanova University’s campus. The college has beautiful old stone buildings and we’re staying in dorms. The dorm I’m in is actually an apartment. I have the entire thing to myself but there’s enough room for 4 people.

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Tonight as I type this I’m at the Splickety Magazine Critique Party. On the panel critiquing the first few pages of novels submitted and chosen before the conference are Tosca Lee, Jeff Gerke, Steve Laube and Avily Jerome.


I’m so excited to hear Tosca Lee speak in the morning! I love her books. She has the sort of writing voice I love. Like liquid velvet.

I’ll post again tomorrow (hopefully I’ll have some time to sneak in here to share with you) and let you know all I’m learning. Tonight the panel seems to be in unison regarding that first hook in the first few pages of a book. Lovely writing might be beautiful, but will it keep a reader’s attention? If you want to be published, you need to learn to write what sells.

But if you want to write for your own pleasure, then write what you want!

Tonight Steve Laube announced the new name of his publishing company (formerly Marcher Lord Press): Enclave Publishing! You heard it here first!


Steve Laube making the announcement:


Tons of excitement tonight! I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

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Click to tweet: Steve Laube announces Marcher Lord Press now Enclave Publishing!

Erica says goodbye and we wish her well

ericagrapham(This is my intern, Erica Graphman’s last blog post. I’ve really enjoyed working with this brilliant young woman and wish her great success in her studies and chosen career!)

As the semester draws to a close and I scramble with final papers, final exams, and packing up my dorm room, I like to reflect on the school year, which happened to go by extremely quickly this time around. I learned a lot, took classes I loved and classes I didn’t love nearly as much. Most importantly to me, I had fun being with my friends, creating a magazine, and starting my very first internship with Karla.


I have really enjoyed working with Karla and have learned a lot from her. I never had the courage to blog before because I felt like I had nothing to say and I wasn’t sure how to say it. Karla taught me the techniques of blogging, gave me brilliant feedback on my writing, and showed me how to set up my own blog. On top of finding the courage to blog, Karla has also taught me a lot about social media networking, which I now really enjoy and hope to continue building skills in.


I was a little nervous setting up my blog, The Slanted Shelf, on Blogger, but now I’m glad I have it. I hope to continue blogging even though my work with Karla is complete. I might shift my angle a little more towards reviewing the books I read, since I have a giant list to read this summer. And I’m hoping that if I continue to use my blog for that, I’ll be able to build on my critical reading skills. If I can’t do that, at least I’ll have fun writing about reading.


Blogging has been a lot more fun than I really expected it to be because of the great responses I received so many people. Thank you, Karla, for all you have taught me. Thank you everyone for helping me build my confidence as a writer.

Karla: Erica, it’s been a true pleasure working with you. You have a lot more talent than you give yourself credit for. Write on, young scribe! You’ve got greatness in you!


Tweet this: Join me in wishing my intern great success!

Character Mapping


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The first book I bought when I got serious about writing novels was Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. (I highly recommend both the book and the workbook together.) It was this book that taught me how to create a character map. If you’re new to creating characters and story lines, I highly recommend this. You’ll be surprised how many different ways you can connect your characters and it makes their back stories come to life almost on their own.

When I used this method for my book, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots, it revealed a twist and surprise at the end. Here’s an example of a character map based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.


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And here’s one for Shakespeare’s Othello:


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Sometimes your characters may not have very many interactions or relationships with one another. In my book, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots, the setting was a small, close-knit community. A lot of the people were related and had grown up together for years. So the map looked like a maze much like the one for Pride and Prejudice. But in my current work in progress, the characters come together on a steamboat from different parts of the country and interact with passengers on the boat who are strangers to them. So there aren’t as many mysterious cousin-type relationships.


If you’re stuck on a story, try using the character map. I promise it will get you unstuck and spark some exciting new ideas.


Tweet this: Stuck on your manuscript? Draw a character map!

Introducing Steampunk author Michael Vetter and a giveaway!

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Michael Vetter, Author

I am very pleased to introduce you to Steampunk/Sci-fi author, Michael Vetter. I became intrigued with Michael’s work after meeting him on a Steampunk forum.

I’m fascinated with this genre and have been researching it for a book I’m formulating for the YA market. I’m also leaving next Tuesday to attend the Realm Makers conference in Pennsylvania! I’m looking forward to rubbing shoulders with fantasy genre authors as I have much to learn. I have a burden to write YA books that point young people to Christ. It’s much needed.

Print Which is what drew me to Michael’s work. Michael very graciously agreed to be interviewed for my blog. I think you’ll find him and his work fascinating!

(By the way, dear reader, if you leave a comment or question and tweet about this post (I’ve provided a handy dandy link below as well) you’ll be entered to win a free digital (.pdf) copy of one of his books — your choice!  If you use any of the other buttons, you’ll be entered each time you promote this post on social media. What a deal!)


Thanks so much, Michael, for agreeing to this interview. Please tell us a little about yourself:

My father worked for Pan America Airways so I grew up around airplanes and airports in Latin America all my life.  When I went to college in the U.S. I studied engineering, met my wife, Mary, and joined the Air Force. While stationed in Florida, we heard the Gospel for the first time and, after months of questions and resistance, accepted Jesus Christ as Savior. We grew spiritually through the years, served in many capacities at Salem Bible Church ( while I worked in the defense industry, and recently retired. My wife and I have a grown son, two grandsons, and are involved in several ministries. Besides teaching adult Bible Sunday School and writing novels, I edit a newsletter for Grace Dental and Medical Missions ( and am a translator on medical missions trips to Spanish-speaking countries. We live in Salem,  NH, where the one month of brilliant fall foliage makes up for long winters of snow and cold. We enjoy long road and rail trips together and kayaking in the summer.


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What a fascinating journey to this point in your life you’ve had! I long to take a rail trip sometime, too. How can we find you online?

Web page:


Where do you write? (What’s your office like?)

My best creative writing is done where I’m free from distractions so that means not in my cluttered office! My home office is where I have access to my reference books for research and Bible studies. Libraries with quiet rooms or cubbyholes hidden in remote stacks are where I can get lost for hours in a complicated plot. While my most imaginative writing is best done in quiet isolation, draft editing seems to be fueled in coffee shops where I draw energy from the hum of background conversations. I don’t know if this is an odd way to write/edit or not, but it works for me!

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I’m the same way about my home office. How funny. What is your process? (Spreadsheets, Snowflake, Lists/Outlines, Seat of the pants?)

Because I’m an engineer, I like to have the overall plot and flow of my book mapped out from beginning to end before I start to write. I use a “storyboard” technique learned from defense systems analysis that depicts various “threads” of a message to be sure that everything supports a final conclusion or objective. Many ideas come together on a wall-size graphic using colored-coded post-it notes, pictures, sketches, and connecting lines showing the progression of a story.


Karla: Oh my goodness. I have to interrupt here. You have no idea how giddy this photo makes me. I do the same thing and trust me, I do not have the mind of an engineer. I feel so much smarter now!

Genius babyOkay, then what do you do?

I then write an outline for each chapter in sequence and match chapters to the storyline. In parallel, I write profiles of the various main characters. Then I begin writing at Chapter 1 and expand on settings, dialog, and other details. Sure, things take unpredicted turns when I get more involved with my characters. As long as the main story line stays generally on track, I keep going. About every twenty chapters or so, (which can take me two or three months to write) I’ll then perform rough editing/surgery on the text. This is where I cut down the prose—I’m not stingy with words in my first draft—and try to come close to my page/word count target. This is also where I do a mid-course correction if the story line needs to change drastically. After about 8-9  months, I have a manuscript that I then spend 2-3 months editing. I have to admit that the creative part of developing and telling a story is my favorite part of writing. Everything after that is a chore before I can start on my next book.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on my third book in a fiction series for young boys with the working title, Flight from Egypt—Adventures Along The Nile. My books occupy a genre that I still haven’t fully characterized, but some call it retro-futuristic or steampunk.

The book takes place in Egypt in the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III during the 6-9 months before Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land. The Biblical account of the plagues, Passover, and miraculous parting of the Red Sea are told through the eyes of Malik (a young Egyptian), Nathan (his Hebrew slave and best friend), and Malik’s sixteen-year-old sister Sarina. The two nineteen-year-old boys grew up together and are more like brothers. The speculative nature of the story weaves advanced, though plausible, technologies created by an inventor named Imhotep: a flying machine called the Eye of Horus, a box that lights the inside of underground tombs, encrypted signals using focused solar energy, and the Breath of Osiris that flashes across the night sky. These and other technologies, in the midst of devastating plagues, propel the three young characters as they pursue the identity of the Black Falcon who plundered tons of gold from the tomb of Hatshepsut in the Valley of the Kings. Linking their adventures ranging from Karnak/Thebes in the south to Giza/Memphis in the north is the nationwide heliographic (solar powered) signaling network used by Pharaoh and his military. As the plagues reach their climax with the Passover, some Egyptians believe in the God of Abraham and join Moses and millions of Hebrews on the beginning of their exodus journey. How many lives will the Black Falcon ruin in his relentless pursuit for more gold? Who will follow Moses through the Red Sea to safety and who will die in Egypt?


This sounds sooo intriguing, and this may be a silly question because I, for one, can’t wait to read it. But are there any other reasons readers should pick it up?

Young readers should read this and other books in the series because the characters, although living in Old Testament times, have a God-centered Biblical worldview that guides their lives through adventures in a complex, dangerous world. New and often strange technologies, not unlike those in our own fast-paced world, add twists and turns as the plot heads toward a foregone conclusion that fits the Biblical record. The fate of individual characters hangs in doubt up to the last second.

How did this book come to life for you?

I’d always wondered how all the Israelites knew what was happening when Moses and Aaron repeatedly confronted Pharaoh and unleashed plagues in response to his stubborn refusals. How could slaves working hundreds of miles away in granite quarries of Aswan, brick pits of Giza, or  flooded fields of Goshen know what was going on in the palace? The usual answer, “God somehow told them,” did not satisfy me. My conclusion was that the everyday Egyptian or Hebrew had no idea what was happening until much later in the series of plagues, maybe not until the last plague, when they had fourteen days to prepare, did people understand that it was God who brought the plagues on Egypt. Even then, it’s a puzzle to me how millions of people could organize such a massive effort in so short a time. So, I came up with a hypothetical Egyptian heliographic network based on actual equipment and codes used by the U.S. Army in Arizona and New Mexico in the late 1800’s to signal long distances using solar rays. (The highly effective network was used for only a few years before it was replaced by the telegraph.) My story revolves around a nationwide “solar Internet,” the “blinkers” who run it, and the royal codes used by blinkers to inform Egyptians and Hebrews about the plagues, Pharaoh’s rejection of Moses, and God’s ultimate purpose to lead His people to the Promised Land.


I love ancient and 1800s technology! This is such a fascinating book. Who is your favorite character in the book and why?

I think that is like asking which of your children is your favorite because I invest so much into my characters. But Malik’s father, Hatep, might be my favorite because his struggle over whether to believe in the God of Abraham or the gods of his Egyptian forefathers parallels my spiritual struggle when I first heard the Gospel of God’s grace and realized that the Good News was opposite to what I had been taught by religion all my life. Hatep has to face repeated evidence in the plagues that the LORD God of the Israelites is more powerful than all the gods of Egypt and he’s frustrated, disappointed, and scared by what he experiences. As a Royal Architect of Tombs, Hatep tries to reason everything logically but finally concludes that salvation is by faith alone in the One True God.

How did you name your characters?

This is a difficult task for me since I invest most of my energies in the storytelling. Fictional Egyptian characters take their names, or slight variations of them, from historical persons although not necessarily from the same time period. Most archeological evidence points to Thutmose III as the Pharaoh during the approximate time of Moses, although none of the historical records can prove this. Names for Israelite characters are either common Biblical names or modern Hebrew names. The principal Hebrew character is Nathan because I like that name.

Are the characters based on people you know?

The Inventor Imhotep, Royal Architect Hatep, and General Herihor have some parts of their personalities and experiences based on my own. The sixteen-year-old Sarina is a mathematician and crypto-solver very much like my wife, who spends hours and sometime days working on a cryptogram that I would never dream of tackling. When I hear “I did it!” shouted from another room I know she’s cracked another one.


Oh, I love cryptology! I’m not good at it but I’m fascinated with it. I must meet your wife and pick her brain sometime.

Why will readers enjoy your book?

It’s the type of exciting, wholesome adventure that I loved to read as a pre-teen and teen myself when I grew up with characters like Tom Swift and the Hardy Boys. I loved the mysteries and action stories that planted seeds in the mind of a future engineer who wanted to build airplanes, submarines, space ships, and complicated gadgets. Today, young Christian boys should read my books for the enjoyment of adventure fiction with technologies that they can relate to within a Biblical worldview.


I think I read every Nancy Drew book growing up. What is your favorite scene in the book?

Nathan and Malik enter a large chamber in the Great Pyramid of Khafre with a gold cylinder in its center and directly under the pyramid’s golden apex . As they inspect the inscriptions on the cylinder and the tubes that rise from it into the ceiling, they hear a whine that gradually increases in pitch and intensity. This is Imhotep’s Breath of Osiris. They don’t know what it does, but the reader senses that something terrible is about to happen as the noise becomes deafening. We want to scream, “Get out now!” but they approach the gleaming object and reach out to touch it. There is paralyzing tension as the two boys can’t decide whether to investigate with captivating curiosity or flee in deadly terror.


Oh, that’s edge-of-your-seat stuff there!  Can you tell us why you chose to write Christian fiction?

My principal motivation in writing Christian fiction for young boys is because there are so few wholesome books available that appeal to their interest in stories with physical action, adventure, suspense, mystery, and complex gadgets. Classical science fiction from the 1800’s (Jules Verne, H.G. Wells) fills some of this interest. But good (moral, safe?) Christian fiction for boys is meager; good Christian fiction written by godly women for young girls is abundant. Today’s young adult (YA) fiction is not suitable, in my opinion, for Christian young people, although I realize that many read it. My desire is to write speculative fiction to honor God and I hope that comes across in my books.

We’ve all heard that fiction writers should write about what they know. That has motivated me to write stories that blend engineering and technology with my understanding of the Bible and history. I’m fully committed to the inerrant, inspired Word of God. I believe we are free to speculate about what the Bible does not say, providing we do not contradict what it does say. I was encouraged by Dr. John Whitcomb (co-author of The Genesis Flood and other creationist books) to speculate in my first book about technology in an advanced pre-Flood civilization. We had several conversations in which we agreed that civilizations before and after the Great Flood were much more sophisticated than the backward cave-dwellers depicted today. I place my fictional plots in Bible times but use seemingly modern, although primitive, instruments, engines, vehicles, and devices in adventure plots.


I raised four boys and I can’t tell you how excited I am about your vision and mission. It was always difficult finding good, wholesome, engaging reading material for them. Thank you for answering the call and writing these books! Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

I inherited my love for reading and writing from my mother, Peggy Vetter. She wrote the society page of a newspaper (The Niles Daily Star in Niles, Michigan) in the 1940’s while still in college. After WW II she married my Dad in 1947 and wrote long letters to family and friends describing her “adventures” in exotic places like Guatemala, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Mexico, and Jamaica. Growing up in those countries (with no television!) we read books for entertainment. She founded, published, and edited the weekly Herndon Observer (Herndon, Virginia) for almost thirty years until a few months before her death in 2000. My second book, One World Tower-A Babylonian Adventure, is dedicated to her.

Michael, thanks again for joining us today. I am so excited to know you and to get to follow your career. I know God has an amazing plan for your work! God bless you!


Tweet This: Read Steampunk/sci-fi author Michael Vetter’s riveting interview!



Tweet and comment for a chance to win a FREE pdf copy of one of Michael’s books!

Today is my birthday!

fun_53rd_birthday_gift_idea_pinback_button-r7f5d86e72c194c42b3269a25a2b23070_x7j3i_8byvr_324Today is my 53rd birthday!

In some ways it freaks me out that I’m heading toward old lady status, but in some ways I’m happy because I know a lot of people don’t get to live this long on earth! I’m thankful today that I’m still alive and healthy.


In honor of my birthday I’m giving away a free copy of my book, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots. I know some of my readers already have a copy, so maybe you’d like to win a copy to give to someone else? I am giving away the format of your choice — autographed print or digital.

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Here’s how you can win. You get an entry for each item you complete:

1. Sign up for my newsletter. You can do that on my homepage in the upper right-hand corner.

2. Sign up for my blog posts. You can do that on this page in the upper right-hand corner.

3. Tweet about this giveaway by clicking the tweet below.

4. Post this post on Facebook using the Facebook link below.

5. Pinterest this post on Pinterest by using the Pinterest button below.

6. Google+ this post using the Google+ button below.

7. Post this on on LinkedIn using the LinkedIn button below.

7. Blog about this on your blog and post the link in your comments below. If your link isn’t allowed in the comments, email them to me at

8. In the comments below, let me know how many of the above items you participated in. I’ll trust you!


Please allow three to four weeks for delivery of your prize as I will be out of town until mid-June.

Have fun! And thanks for helping me celebrate my 53rd birthday!



Tweet this: Help @KarlaAkins celebrate her birthday by winning a free book!

Erica’s Edition: Spring fever vs. finals week

ericagrapham(Today’s post is brought to you by my college intern, Erica Graphman!)

Do you ever have a long project that you’re working on and nearing the end, but you’ve put so much work into it already that you just can’t seem to find motivation to work on it? I’ve seen this problem left and right this past week. It’s crazy how big of a change one week left of classes and half a week of finals has on the morale of college students.


It’s probably bad to admit, but I have that problem occasionally as well. I’ve noticed so many of my fellow classmates not owning up to the amount of work they have to do this weekend. Most are more intent on partying the entire weekend, using “It’s May Day Weekend” as an excuse to blow off any and all responsibilities.


This idea that, as students, we’ve put so much work into this semester that we can hardly bear to finish it out really surprises me. Especially the fact that I have that thought in my own head! I’ve never once struggled finishing a school year. In fact, I’m usually sad at the end of the school year because I enjoy having class. This semester has just been a lot more work than I’m used to I think. Probably because I’m in four classes that are junior-level up classes and one of them is a writing class (which isn’t my strong suit), but still. I’ve never had such a complete lack of motivation and apparent lack of sleep.


As Manchester University students head into the last week of classes, I wonder who will have their work done and who will be left struggling like a worm trying to climb out on the pavement in a storm. Some of my friends are coming to me with worries about work load and questions about how they will have the time to get everything done. I guess the only thing I know to say to them is what everyone has been telling me. “Don’t worry. Everything will get done in the end.” Is there any other way to reassure struggling college students?



Tweet: Any tips for overwhelmed college students during finals?


Book Review: Take this Cup by Bodie & Brock Thoene


I have been reading Bodie Thoene since her release of The Gates of Zion in 1986. She is truly the reason why I fell  deeply in love with Christian Historical fiction.

She didn’t disappoint me in this book, either. Take this Cup is book 2 of the Jerusalem Chronicles Series. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it as much as I did. I got excited about many new insights I’d never thought of before regarding the history of the Israelites and the prelude to Jesus Christ as Messiah.


That Thoene is an artist there’s no doubt. But what makes her books, including this one, so special, are the Spiritual Truths and revelations that knowing details of history bring out in the story. For example, I’d never put together that the people of Nineveh worshiped Dagon, a god that’s half fish and half man, and that God used a large fish to swallow Jonah and spit him out preach to these fish-idol worshipers about the One True God. Pretty cool insight.


There are many others in the book.

I think this book would be a great read-aloud to middle grades and an excellent book to give to a high school student as a Resurrection Day gift. There are several scenes regarding a white hart that kids and teens will especially enjoy. However, it’s definitely an adult book, too. But I can see a classroom of kids really enjoying reading this book together or listening to their teacher read it aloud.


From the blogger review website:

Though there have been many stories about the Cup of Christ, the Holy Grail, after the Last Supper, this is the first imaginative account of the Cup’s previous history and significance. Nehemiah, the young son of a Jewish woman, a weaver from Jerusalem, is born and raised among the Jews who didn’t return to Jerusalem from the Exile. Educated by Rabbi Kagba, one of the magi present at Jesus’ birth thirty years earlier, Nehemiah grows up with the expectation of a soon-coming Messiah. Could the Yeshua of Nazareth, who is walking the earth, reportedly doing miracles, be that Messiah?

When young Nehemiah must travel the long caravan road to Jerusalem, he is charged with an unusual mission—to carry a mysterious object back to the holy city of Jerusalem . . . an object whose reappearance heralds the Messiah’s arrival.

Nehemiah arrives in Jerusalem just as the final events of Jesus’ earthly ministry are coming to a climax: the Feast of Dedication, the Triumphal Entry, the last cleansing of the Temple, and culminating at the Last Supper in the Upper Room. Only Nehemiah understands the true sacrifice that is to come as he makes the cup worthy of his Savior.

I give this book 5 stars. It’s a flawless, beautifully written story with a unique point of view. I hope parents will share it with their children and teachers with their students. It’s an excellent book for any home or church library. I highly recommend.

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Tweet: I give this book 5/5  stars.


I review for BookLook Bloggers

Using body language to boost your confidence

Screen-shot-2010-05-24-at-12.59.18-PMSo how’s your posture?

If you’re sitting up straight, thank your Mom. She was right. (Again.) Sitting and standing tall is good for your brain.


No matter how you’re sitting, take note of yourself right now. Are you slouching? Slumping? Are your shoulders down and forward? Are you sprawled out or curled up? Do you feel powerful or powerless?


What does your body language say about you to others? To yourself?

According to research, it says more than words.

93% of communication is nonverbal.

Tape-over-mouth-e1277757529816Humans aren’t the only ones who use their bodies to communicate. In the wild, to appear powerful, animals expand or puff themselves up. Ever see a slouched over, angry grizzly?


Now, I’m a sprawler by nature. When I go to class, I sprawl. I pity the people who sit next to me. I’ve always been this way. I set out all my necessities, notebooks, pens, water bottle, calculator, phone, pencil bag, books — all the stuff is there, sprawled out on the table. In grade school I was always in trouble for having a messy desk.

Nothing much has changed. I yam what I yam.


I thought this was because I simply don’t know how to travel light. But no, according to research, it means I’m an alpha personality.



I’ve had people tell me I come across as a strong, powerful woman. A “don’t-you-even-dare-mess-with-me” kind of gal. I don’t feel like this on the inside, but apparently that’s how I carry myself. My kids’ friends were always afraid of crossing me but I’m one of the nicest people I know! Really!

Barbara Billingsley1

Besides sending messages to others with our body, we can also send messages to our own minds.  Certain postures can make us feel more powerful. Research proves it and I’m going to try it out this week because powerful people take more risks and think more abstractly — important traits for a writer.

So for two minutes a day, I’m going to stand like this:


Standing like this for two minutes a day is supposed to raise your testosterone and lower your cortisol. It changes your brain’s mind about yourself. Seriously. It’s a thing. (You don’t have to wear the Wonder Woman get-up but if that’s what you’re into, go for it! Send me the pics and I’ll feature them here.)

I’m having a difficult time with life right now, and the enemy has been attacking my mind. So I’m going to give this pose a try  and see how it affects my writing and get back to you. I’m also going to do it when I’m scared to clean my house, scared to tackle a personal conflict, or scared to make that phone call. (I hate talking on the phone.)

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And while I stand there for two minutes with “arms akimbo” (I remember how tickled I was as a kid to know what “arms akimbo” meant), I’m going to recite these scriptures:

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” 1 Timothy 1:7.

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” Isaiah 41:10.

Want to join me? Stand like this for two minutes a day and tell me what happens!

To infinity, and beyond!


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