Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes

I’m generally a cross-genre reader, picking up everything from mystery to historical to romance to . . .  you name it. Pretty much everything except horror and erotica. And while I like each of these in their separateness, it’s even better when they all collide in one book.

Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes is that kind of book. Set in 1809 on the coast of Virginia, it blends meticulous historical detail with mystery, suspense, political intrigue and romance. Tabitha is a midwife who not only wants a family of her own, she wants to stop the English from impressing the men of her town into their navy. Enter an Englishman turned indentured servant and the fun begins.

I loved learning about history from this book—not only the time period of some of the political issues, but about the role of midwives, a subject on which Laurie Alice has done extensive research. But she does so much more than convey history. She creates a book that is hard to put down. Not only are the characters and their stories completely engaging, the quality of the writing makes them even more so. Laurie Alice is truly a master of the craft, besides being a lovely person to know.

Lady in the Mist is the first book in Laurie Alice’s series The Midwives. I’m already excited to see what she’s come up with for the next one!

Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher.


A Sunday Psalm

I have seen You in the sanctuary and beheld Your power and Your glory.
Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.
I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise You.
       --Psalm 63:2-5


How Readers Read

Readers have different methods, just like writers do. They choose their books differently. They read their books differently. As a reader, I used to be a die-hard one-at-a-time reader. I simply could not start reading one book if I was in the middle of another. It just didn’t happen. As I got older and had children, I had to learn to multitask. Eventually that spilled over to my reading, too. I would have two or three books going—one in my purse, one on my nightstand, one in the living room. I could put down one and pick up another without batting an eye. Usually they were wildly different books, too. A piece of classic literature, a more recently published novel and maybe, just maybe a non-fiction book sprinkled in.

But in the nine months since I’ve signed my book contract, my reading time has constricted. And in that shrinking, I find I can’t divide my attention between multiple books. I’m back to being a one-at-a-time reader. (The only exception to this is reading on the fly from the kindle app on my phone!)

How about you? Do you keep multiple books going at one time or do you finish one and start another? Do you read all in the same genre or, like me, do you have to have to intersperse contemporary and historical and mystery and classics (and, okay, non-fiction if you must!)?


Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer

I’ll admit that I often go into a new book with a bit of fear and trepidation if I have any kind of relationship with the author. I mean, what will I do if I don’t like it?

From the opening pages of Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer, I knew that wouldn’t be a problem! Her story of a Texas rancher’s daughter who finds herself as a governess on the Texas sheep ranch of an English nobleman completely captivated me. It didn’t hurt that besides an English character or two Karen also sprinkled in references to some of my favorite classic English literature titles. And a great message of faith and following God’s plan for your life. Top it off with a heavy dose of romance and this was one of those books that I hated to see end.

I’m so glad Karen has more books waiting in the wings. And I’m even more excited to meet her face to face in a just a few weeks!


Studying the Master

When I first heard about Beth Moore’s study of Esther a while ago, I wanted to do it. Yet every time it came up, it wouldn’t work in my schedule. The time wasn’t right. But when a friend of mine, a gifted Bible teacher, said she was hosting this study in her home this semester, on a day I generally have free, I jumped at the chance to attend. When we went to our first session, my friend asked us all to tell why we chose to study Esther.

For me, that was an easy question. I’m drawn to the “stories” in the Bible. I learn best from them. So I love the Old Testament and the gospels, returning to them again and again, though I’ve come to love every part of God’s Word over the years. In Esther we are given a more drawn out story than most. And with a woman as its central character. I love that. I know that the study of this book over the course of several weeks will reveal so much about God, which of course tends to reveal so much about me and the areas where I fall short.

So I’m excited as I embark on a study of Esther. I know it will challenge me as a person of faith, but I also feel it will challenge me as a writer, to see how a story reveals the character of God even when He is not overtly mentioned. Because while I ultimately want the story of my life to be one that puts God on display, I also want to show Him through the stories I write. And what better way than to study the Ultimate Writer of Truth.


A Sunday Psalm

When I said, "My foot is slipping,"
Your love, O Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
Your consolation brought joy to my soul.
     --Psalm 94:18-19


A Brand New Journal

I love the day I open a brand new journal, its lined pages pristine. It always reminds me of Anne Shirley saying “Every day is fresh with no mistakes in it.” And yet I know the pages before me will be filled with mistakes. Not just words crossed out and misspellings, but bigger things. Like sin. And struggle. It can be a depressing thought instead of a jubilant one. So I always recall the comfort of Lamentations:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

How do I know this holds true? Because when I open I new journal (which ends up being every year or so) I take a few moments to pull down all the old ones out of the top of my closet. Scattered remembrances of the last twenty-five years of my life. I flip through the pages. Sometimes I read the journals all the way through. Sometimes I read a few pages here and there. But one page or one hundred doesn’t change the fact that those journals—once filled with blank pages, now filled with words from my pen—are tangible evidence of that very promise of God’s new mercies and His faithfulness. I see from where He has brought me and I anticipate where He will take me through the pages yet unwritten.

My newest journal waits just a few last pages transcribed into the old one. And then I will look back—and look forward. And I’ll begin again.

Do you journal? Do you write every day or as the mood strikes?


PInch Me!

All of a sudden it feels really real!


Of Fuzzy Robes and Fireplaces

I love winter. I really do. But as I’ve grown older I’ve discovered that I love it most when I can spend it as I wish—in a fuzzy robe in front of a blazing fire. That hasn’t happened much this winter. I’ve had to leave the house on freezing temperature days much more often than I would like!

Still, there are Saturdays and Sundays, most of which don’t require me to go anywhere in the early mornings. My husband makes a fire. I hang out in a nearby chair wearing my fuzzy robe. I drink coffee and get a few things done at my computer or read a book, but then that’s not really the point. The point is the fuzzy robe and the warm fireplace, and the cozy feeling that accompanies them. I guess if I indulged that feeling every day of the winter it wouldn’t be as satisfying as it is when I only get it on occasion. But those fuzzy robe and fireplace days are really the part of winter I most enjoy.

What is your favorite season? What type of day during that season makes it most enjoyable for you?


A Sunday Psalm

The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is full of compassion.
The Lord protects the simplehearted;
when I was in great need, He saved me.
Be at rest, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.
        --Psalm 116:5-7


Reading List 2011

When my friend Carla mentioned that she’s looking forward to reading my book this year, it struck me how many friends I have with books releasing in 2011. Here’s just a partial list. I know there are more, but this is off the top of my head!

The Muir House by Mary DeMuth
Broken Wings by Carla Stewart
A Force of Habit by Alice Loweecey
Secrets of the Heart by Jillian Kent
Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes
The Lady of Bolton Hill by Elizabeth Camden
Springtime of the Spirit by Maureen Lang 
Journey to Riverbend by Henry McLaughlin

Patti Lacy has one due out in fall, but I don’t know the title. And I believe Gina Holmes' second book comes out this year, too.

And all of those authors are just the ones I consider friends! That doesn’t count other authors I simply admire or might have met once. Good grief! I think I’ll definitely have to schedule more reading time.

Is there a specific title or author you are looking forward to reading this year?


What a Week!

Wow. What a week. After Christmas, we took a great trip to Colorado with our kids, arriving home the night of the 2nd. I imagined it would take me all of Monday to get things sorted out, but then I would be back on my regular schedule.

Boy was I wrong!

How busy was it? Well, I posted to my blog once last week, on Tuesday—or so I thought. It didn’t post, but I didn’t realize it until Friday night! Laundry, unpacking, taking down Christmas, cleaning house, grocery shopping, answering emails, dealing with various details of life. Four basketball games, two nights of dinner guests, a few stolen minutes of revisions on my manuscript, a whole family gathering. It doesn’t sound like much when written out that way, but those things consumed all my waking hours.

This kind of week used to throw me into a tizzy, complete with emotional meltdowns. It isn’t easy for me to walk an unmarked path. It’s stressful—and scary. And though I’m better at it than I used to be, I long for the security of routine.

But the Lord never really promised us security—except in Him. He is the only thing that doesn’t change. And while none of the events in my week were earth shattering or life changing, I still needed to camp on the rock of God’s immutable nature.

So how do you cope when your plans are derailed in favor of things that absolutely must be done or dealt with? Are you flexible enough to set aside your agenda and go with the flow? Do you succumb to the moment but stress over all that is left undone? Is there a prayer or a verse that helps you make it through? I’d love to know!


A White Christmas

Two months ago we planned our family "Christmas” celebration for January 9. All of my siblings and their families would be in town—even my sister and her family on furlough from the mission field. We hadn’t all been under one roof for over two years. And my uncle was in town as well. We hadn't seen him for almost 5 years!

The kids were excited to exchange presents with their cousins, each having drawn a name to buy for in early December. We all looked forward to the food and the fellowship and yes, even the noise of 13 kids and all the adults trying to talk at one time. But in all our preparations we never imagined a white "Christmas." But that’s what we got. The cold rain we woke up to turned to snow just about the time we were all headed to Mom and Dad’s house. It was beautiful to watch, fun for the kids to play in, and generally added to the festive mood of the gathering. Quite an unexpected joy!

Have you had an unexpected take-your-breath-away moment catch you by surprise lately? I’d love to hear about it!


A Sunday Psalm

For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord?
Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?
In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared,
He is more awesome than all who surround Him,
O Lord God Almighty, who is like you?
You are mighty, O Lord, and Your faithfulness surrounds You.
               --Psalm 89:6-8


Looking Ahead

I kind of tried to ignore the turn of the calendar this year. That’s really not like me. I usually revel in the newness of January, the clean slate of a new year. But the thought of 2011 really threw me for a loop.

It’s not that I’m not excited about this coming year. There are some really great things happening. But those great things have some scary edges on them, too. Want some examples?

In 2011:

  • My son—my oldest boy, my middle child—will graduate from high school. While this is a big yippee in our lives, the thought of him going off to college is bittersweet. He is the child that instinctively knows me. The one that senses when I need help and steps in. The calm one. The steady one. The one that kind of holds us all together. The thought of our home without him on a day-to-day basis is a bit scary.
  • My first novel will be published. A huge praise and an exciting time, but also a terrifying thought. Besides bracing myself for bad (or tepid) reviews and sparsely attended booksignings, I must plan a book launch party—and every party I’ve ever planned has flopped! Seeing my name on a book cover is a dream come true, but the reality is that the new road of published author is definitely a walk of faith up a steep mountain.
  • I have several trips on my calendar: a writing retreat, a research trip, the ACFW conference, and possibly another one. I’m thrilled at the thought of seeing old friends and making new ones, and the travel itself doesn’t make me as nervous as it used to, but I do worry about how being gone slices into my productivity, both in writing and in my home duties.

Those are my major things at the moment, on top of the normal tug of war between the feelings of anticipation and trepidation when considering what the days in a new year will bring.

What about you? Are there things you see coming in 2011 that incite both excitement and fear in you? Are you leaning more to one side than the other? Please share!