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What’s your definition of real romance?

31 years ago today I married my man!

At a little baptist church (that isn’t so little anymore) in Haysville, Kansas.

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(When we got married there was only the little building on the right and no passageway leading to a big building.)

(But that’s irrelevant.)

What’s relevant is that I’M STILL MARRIED TO THE SAME GUY!

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Besides being a parent, marriage is the hardest work I’ve ever done. And that’s not because of who I’m married to. It’s because of ME. Marriage has a way of stretching you. It really is a miracle this guy stayed with me all these years!

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We’ve been through so much together. So. Much.

How do we keep our marriage alive?

With real romance.

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Real romance is cleaning up the other one’s vomit during a stomach flu epidemic. (Sorry for that shocking visual, but it’s true.)

Real romance is doing dishes together–in the middle of the night–after the baby’s finally asleep.

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Real romance is eating eggs for supper on Monday night. And Tuesday. And Wednesday. And Thursday. And Friday. And Saturday. And Sunday–in order to pay the electric bill.

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Real romance is listening to the other one talk when you’d rather watch TV or read a book.

Real romance is wrapping presents and stuffing stockings together at 4:00 AM on Christmas Eve.

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Real romance is letting the other pick out the color of the new car.

Real romance is picking up their socks–and not complaining.

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Real romance overlooks those extra pounds every ten years packs on.

Real romance is giving each other the space they need to pursue their own interests.

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Real romance is loving each and every gift you get from the other one when it’s nothing at all you like.

Real romance is forgiving all hurts, wrongs, neglect. And letting it go.

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Real romance is giving up the right to be right.

Real romance fights fair and never damages another with words.

253046072782766124Real romance is praying together, worshiping together, studying God’s Word together.

Real romance doesn’t look very much like those romance novels some people are known to write. <grin>

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It’s not the candlelight dinners or gifts I cherish most. It’s the time my man sacrifices to be with me, do for me, listen to me. Even when I’m not lovely. Usually, when I’m the most difficult is when I need him to love me the most. And he needs the same from me.

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So that’s my definition of real romance.

What’s yours?

S is for Steamboats

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Branson Belle

I never realized how much I loved steamboats until I started studying them in earnest for my work in progress, River Moon Don’t Cry.

I did have the pleasure of cruising aboard the Branson Belle (pictured above) for dinner and a show twice. The only part I didn’t like was how it didn’t last longer! I’d love to go on a week-long cruise. Of course, the excursions are much nicer today than there were in the early 1800s.

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In the 1800s only the high-paying customers got a nice room on the upper decks of the steamboat on major United States rivers. Regular folks had to board with the animals and cargo. And from the diaries and letters I’ve read from the era, the aromas that emanated from these quarters made for a miserable trip.

Those who could afford it, had much nicer accommodations.

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During the steamboat boom, boats competed for dock space. These ships lined up side by side in major ports.

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Steamboats hauled everything on the Mississippi River from cows to sugar cane to cotton. They were also used to haul slaves and prisoners. It was a dangerous time on the Mississippi in those days. Fights on the docks were everyday occurrences.  Pirates were a constant threat.

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I think I’d love to know what it’s like to live aboard a steamboat. What say you?

A to Z blog hop at Patterings.

Who knows who you may inspire!

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Columbus’ notes in a copy of Marco Polo’s book (click pic to enlarge).

It’s really amazing how things work out in history.

As I was doing research for my book about Marco Polo, I learned that Columbus read Polo’s book and it may have spurred him on to look for the far east himself.

Is that cool or what?

What if Marco Polo had never written about his travels? (Okay, so he didn’t actually write it himself, he had a ghost writer, Rustichello, from Pisa.)

What do you think Columbus was thinking when he read about such travels?

I don’t know, of course, and we can only speculate. But it reinforces why writing history is important to me. We must pass on these stories so they won’t be forgotten. Who knows who or what they may inspire!

One of my favorite resources for writing history is a book entitled, Annals of the World by John Usher. It’s a $50.00 book in hardback (that’s the copy I have) but right now it’s on sale on kindle for only $9.99! A STEAL if you want to write about ancient history and need to know what was going on and when. It takes you all the way through Biblical history using scriptures. It’s not an in-depth book, but more of a timeline type of book. I absolutely love my copy.

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Click to Tweet: We must pass on these stories so they won’t be forgotten. Who knows who or what they may inspire!

What are some of your favorite reference books?

Introducing pre-published author, Tom Threadgill!

I’m extremely excited to introduce you to one of the best writers I know: Tom Threadgill.

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When I first read Tom’s work, I was blown away by his talent. When you read his book, you’ll see why. His writing is seamless and spell-binding. Usually when I read a break-out author’s first work, I find myself editing. When I read Tom’s, I got caught up in the story. It gave me the creeps. And that’s a good thing, because he writes creepy Christian fiction! I see big things in this man’s future!

If you want to be among the first to get to know the next John Grisham/Dean Koontz/Ted Dekker, here’s your chance!

Take it away Tom!

Karla:  Tell us a little about yourself.

Tom: I worked for a large corporation and moved all over the southeastern U.S. for almost thirty years before retiring to a small rural community in west Tennessee. My wife and dog tolerate me as much as possible, though I sometimes catch them conspiring. We have two sons, two beautiful daughters-in-law, three grandsons, and were recently blessed by the birth of our first granddaughter!

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Karla: How precious! Nothing like a new baby granddaughter. I have four of them! We’re blessed, aren’t we? It’s hard to tear yourself away! But back to writing. As a new author, it’s important to develop a solid online presence. Where can we find you online?

Tom: The best place to start is on my website, aptly named tomthreadgill.com. I’m also on Facebook, Google+, and Twitter.

Karla: When you’re not cuddling your grandchildren, where do you write?

Tom: Usually I’m in a leather recliner in the living room with a laptop. I’m easily distracted so I use earphones to play music and coffitivity.com. My co-writer/dog is usually somewhere nearby offering advice.

Karla: Sounds like my “office,” too. What is your process? (Spreadsheets, Snowflake, Lists/Outlines, Seat of the pants?)

Tom: Definitely a seat-of-the-pantser, although I prefer the term “organic writer.” I’m pretty much making it up as I go! I started with the vaguest of notions about the story, and fleshed it out as I went. The downside is that at several points in the story my characters surprised me and I had to rework some of my previous work.

Karla: I know how that is. I do the same. Tell us about your book.

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Tom: Hollow Target is a suspense/thriller novel about FBI agent Jacob Thomas as he pursues a serial killer. The murderer is using the Old Testament as his instruction manual, and Jacob is “spiritually scarred” due to an event in his past. It’s written so that the reader sees the world through each of their eyes.

Karla: Why should readers pick it up?

Tom: First of all, it’s Christian fiction. That can mean a lot of things, but for me it means it’s a story of redemption. Secondly, I try to write in a way that shows Christians as real people with struggles, doubts, and problems, but there’s no preaching in the book. Finally, I think it’s a great story with fantastic characters. But I may be a little biased. 🙂

Karla: How did your book come to life?

Tom: That’s a novel in itself! I never set out to write, but decided for my thirtieth wedding anniversary to pen a semi-autobiographical book for my wife. It was epically bad, and I figured I’d better learn something about writing before trying again. Hollow Target actually originated from a writing prompt I saw in a magazine.

Karla: That’s fascinating! My current work in progress actually originated as a short story. I love when that happens. Who is your favorite character in the book and why?

Tom: Tough call. I think the one I have the most fun writing is the serial killer, Ryder (Levi) Talbot. I’m not sure what that says about me though. But I think my favorite is probably Maggie Keeley, Jacob’s partner. She has some quirks that are based on my wife, and I’m a sucker for a strong female character.

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Karla: I love that! How did you name your characters?

Tom: Not well, apparently. They’ve gone through several name changes so far!

Karla: Are the characters based on people you know?

Tom: I use a few mannerisms from different people I know, but nothing too specific. I intentionally stayed away from tying any character to someone I know. Except the serial killer. You know who you are.

Karla: What is your favorite scene in the book?

Tom: I can’t tell you, because it’ll ruin it. I can say that while I was writing it, I kept flashing back to one of my favorite scenes in the original Indiana Jones movie.

Karla: That’s funny. What a lot of people won’t know when reading this book is how naturally funny you are. If they read your blog, they’ll pick up on that. I hope you write a humorous book soon. But tell me, why Christian fiction?

Tom: I don’t want to put anything out that wouldn’t be pleasing to the Lord. If I have any talent in writing, it’s from Him.

Karla: Is there anything else you’d like us to know?

Tom: I’m a big hockey fan (Go Preds!), which oddly enough is pretty rare in a southern farming community. Who knew? My wife and I like to spend most of our vacation time in the Smoky Mountains, and love riding our Harley there. I’ve also started doing a little woodworking as a hobby. So far I still have all ten fingers.

Karla: Another thing I love about you–Harleys and the Smoky Mountains! (These are a big part of my book, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots.)

Tom is modest as well as funny, and is a gifted photographer. Be sure to check out his blog to see his photos, too. I am honored he’s given me permission to use them on my Silent Sunday blog posts. (Click on pics to see them in all their splendor.)

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Watch for Tom’s book and I’ll keep you posted, too. When it comes out we’ll do another interview. I can hardly wait to see it in print! Write on, Tom! And congratulations on that beautiful granddaughter!

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R is for Rain

Heavy DownpourMy favorite sound in the world is rain. Sprinkle in a tiny bit of thunder, and I’m in moody heaven. Rain helps me think. Rain makes me want to curl up with a blanket and a book and read. Some people listen to Pandora while they work. And I do, too, sometimes. But my favorite go-to sound for drowning out the world is rain.

Fortunately for me, there’s a website where this beautiful sound is available: http://www.rainymood.com/.

You’re welcome.

What’s your favorite sound for getting work done? (Tweet this.)


A to Z blog hop at Patterings.



 

Bronner’s: Christmas fantasy land!

It’s a Holly Jolly Blog Hop

One of my favorite motorcycle trip memories is when my husband and I rode our motorcycles from Northeast Indiana to the charming town of Frankenmuth, Michigan (“Michigan’s Little Bavaria”) in order to pick out a Christmas ornament for our 25th Anniversary. (Click on images to make them bigger if you like.)

Downtown Frankenmuth

Downtown Frankenmuth

Why travel 250 miles (one way) just to pick out a Christmas ornament? (Tweet this!)

Because, for one thing, it’s fun to ride motorcycles together. And for another thing, there’s a HUGE Christmas ornament store there!

Bronner’s was founded in 1945 by Wally Bronner. It’s opened 361 days a year and features over 50,000 trims and gifts. If you are a Christmas decorations fanatic, this is the store for you.

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Bronner’s Entrance

I tend to get overwhelmed easily in stores like this, but Bronner’s isn’t as chaotic as it may seem. The store is beautifully organized by color or theme.

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Inside Bronner’s
More ornaments than you ever imagined!
More ornaments than you ever imagined!
So much to choose from!
So much to choose from!
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The Christmas trees are stunning. Photos don’t do them justice. 

 The outside of the store is just as fascinating as the inside!

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Check out those herald angels on each side!
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Nativity
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The wise guy and his camel were my favorite.

Bronner’s Silent Night Memorial Chapel sits on the grounds and is open daily for viewing and meditation. Every evening there’s a ½-mile long Christmas Lane that glistens with thousands of twinkling lights. Over two million people, including 2,000 group tours, visit Bronner’s attraction annually! Wow!

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Silent Night Chapel

There is one ornament I’ve been yearning to get. (If you read my book, The Pastor’s Wife Wears Biker Boots, you’ll know why!)

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Sasquatch!

Stop by next Thursday when I share what we bought to take home with us to celebrate our 25th Anniversary (way back in 2007)!

Do you like decorating for Christmas? Why or why not?

It’s a Holly Jolly Blog Hop!

I love Christmas!

And to honor the holiday, I’m inviting all bloggers to join our Christmas meme!

To quote Patty Wysong (the queen of all things meme):
“What’s a meme? A meme is when a group of people get together and post on a similar topic or theme. It’s the blogger’s version of a progressive dinner…or a potluck dinner. Full of variety and fun.”

Don’t know what to post for a Christmas blog hop? Here are some ideas:

  • Post anything at all to do with Christmas! ANYTHING!
  • This is a great way to post easy-to-think-of topics during the very busy holiday. You can plan weeks ahead!
  • Include pictures of Christmases past, or present. What are you doing to decorate? Where are you going? What festivities are you planning? Church activities?

The meme starts THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21 and ends WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 25.

You can post anytime Thursday to Thursday. We will keep the linky code open for six days. You don’t have to make a month-long commitment and you don’t have to post every week. Just jump in and join us as you are able!

What’s a linky code? It’s an html code you’ll place at the end of your post so you can link up to others in the blog hop!

I do ask that you comment on at least two of the blogs that link up to yours. It’s better to give than to receive, right?

Want to know more about memes and why you’d want to participate? Check out Making the Most of Memes for more information.

If you’re joining the hop, you may add the button to your sidebar or inside your post, or both. You can grab the code below:
It’s a Holly Jolly Blog Hop

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<a href=”http://karlaakins.com/its-a-holly-jolly-blog-hop/” target=”_blank”><img alt=”It’s a Holly Jolly Blog Hop” border=”0″ src=”http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p194/impeej/Holly-Jolly-Blog-Hop_zpse348f95c.jpg” /></a><br />

Hoppy Christmas!

 

Marco! (Polo!)

One of my current works in progress is an interactive ebook for middle grades: Marco Polo.

This dude was an amazing explorer and I’m finding it a challenge on how to squeeze all his amazing adventures into one 35,000 word (or so) volume.

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The stage I’m at right now is the outline stage.

Then will come the tons and tons of research to insert links into the text.

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And then I will finally get to write the story.

But even as I write it, I’ll be researching as I go. Learning interesting little details. It’s the details that fascinate me. Such as the food, the customs, the attire.

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What about history fascinates you the most?

Q is for Quadroon Ball

My current work in progress, River Moon Don’t Cry is about a young Melungeon girl who is taken aboard a sex-trafficking steamboat in 1838 for the purpose of being sold to the highest bidder at a Quadroon ball in New Orleans.  Those bidding are wealthy plantation owners in search of a plaçage, a “comfort woman” or “concubine.”

The term placage comes from the French placer meaning “to place with.” These women were not legal wives but their relationships were recognized as mariages de la main gauche, “left handed marriages.”

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The word quadroon refers to people of color with one white parent and one half-white parent. These balls encouraged women of mixed race to form liaisons with a system of concubinage. Quadroons were often highly educated and socially refined women who were unable to find black men of their own social status.

The Quadroon Balls began in earnest in 1805 when a man named Albert Tessier rented a dance hall where he held elaborate, elegant dances twice a week for quadroon women and white men only. At the time, race mixing was against the law in New Orleans, but white men would steal away from their white balls to mingle with the quadroons.

F190345-octoroon-webThe Octoroon or Life in Louisiana c. 1861

However, it wasn’t unknown for a poorer white girl to be sent to the Americas from Europe for the express purpose of being a “comfort woman.”

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A quadroon’s mother usually negotiated with the “sugar daddy” plantation owner for the price of her daughter, but it wasn’t unknown for women of color to be sold by other owners for a generous price.

A book I highly recommend on the subject is The Strange History of the American Quadroon.

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A fairly decent movie regarding Quadroon Balls is The Courage To Love starring Vanessa Williams.

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Sex trafficking is as old as time and unfortunately it continues today. The sex trafficking of children is particularly heinous. Please do your part to help educate others of these horrific crimes against humanity. And visit Operation Underground Railroad to learn more.


A to Z blog hop at Patterings.