Monday, August 31, 2009

Knowledge Is Power

One of the goals I have set for myself for five years from now is to take a literature class and an Italian class. This is something I have wanted to do for years, but I knew it would have to wait until all my children were older. Now that 4 are out on their own and the rest are indeed getting older, that goal is a lot closer. Knowledge is something that has always been important to me, and since I have always home schooled my kids, I have tried to drill that into them. They see me with my nose stuck in a book frequently and I joke with them and tell them that since I lost brain cells with each pregnancy, I have to do what I can to replenish them, and that's why I inhale as many books as I can:-)

Here are some neat thoughts I found on knowledge and teaching.

"Like the muscles in our bodies, the brain gets strong in the places
where we train it."
Eileen McDargh

"Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening,
whatever. Never let the brain be idle."
George Carlin

"Learning is finding out what you already know. Doing is demonstrating that you know it. Teaching is reminding others that they know just as well as you. You are all learners, doers, teachers."
-- Richard Bach

"One exclusive sign of a thorough knowledge is the power of teaching."
-- Aristotle

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and unbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
-- James 1:5

Suggested Reading

Book: All the Stars In Heaven
Author: Michele Paige Holms

The Book
Ever since the woman he once adored told Jay Kendrich he was a chivalrous her, he has tried to live up to the praise. But when things don't work out with Jane, moving on and dating other girls proves to be a chore. That is until he meets fellow Harvard student Sarah Morgan. Although Sarah is a freshman studying music and Jay is in his third year of law school, he discovers they have much in common. He has also discovered that getting to know the shy pianist is painful. The last thing Jay expected from his friendly advances was to be assaulted by a brawny stranger. It is abundantly clear that someone wants him to stay away from Sarah. If only he could.

As long as she can remember, Sarah has lived under a watchful eye. While her father insists it's for her own protections, Sarah feels imprisoned. As she begins to believe that those she has trusted most don't have her best interest at heart, she is driven further from her respected father and closer to Jay. But their love will come at a high price as the pair edges closer toward to a truth that is darker than either of them could have imagined.

This is a great story that you can get into even if you haven't read Counting Stars. I fell in love with the characters and the story kept me completely hooked.
Get your copy of All the Stars In Heaven today!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Saving Madeline

I had the privilege of reading Rachel Ann Nunes' new novel Saving Madeline and it was another great book that I couldn't put down. The story definitely tugged at my heart and even made me teary:-)

The Book
As a public defender, Caitlin McLoughlin dreams of someday locking the bad guys in prison instead of defending them. But prosecuting jobs are scarce, and Caitlin’s future seems bleak. When her current client is about to walk away from a brutal crime, she risks her career to make sure he doesn’t hurt anyone else. But how far is she is willing to go— especially when she needs her job so she can continue caring for her mentally disabled sister? Then Caitlin meets Parker Hathaway, charged with kidnapping a four- year- old child. Just another criminal, just another job, Caitlin thinks. But when she learns the real story, she realizes that she must put everything on the line to defend her client and save the little girl before it’s too late. Saving Madeline is the story of a man determined to protect a child he loves, and the woman who dared to trust him.

Rachel has a way with a romance novel and she always come through with stories that stay with you long after you close the book. I've been a fan of hers since the Ariana series and her books have never disappointed because she knows how to keep things fresh and new.
Saving Madeline is a must read!
Post a comment and you will be automatically entered in a drawing for a free copy of Saving Madeline!

Also, be sure to get your free copies of The Journey and Place In This World ebooks by clicking on the link to the right!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Illuminations of the Heart

Searching for a great historical fictional romance? I've got just the book for you.
Joyce DiPastena's book Illuminations of the Heart is the perfect blend of mystery, action, and above all, romance. I totally loved this book. The cover is absolutely beautiful and portrayed the heroine perfectly.

The Book
"Clothilde." He spoke the name on a breath like a prayer. Then he lowered his head and kissed her.

Her heart is lost in that first embrace, her world is shaken to its foundations. There is just one problem; her name is not Clothilde. It is Siriol de Calendri. Trained in the art of illumination in the far-off city of Venice, Siri is directed by her late brother's will to the county of Poitou in France, where she enters the guardianship of her brother's friend Sir Triston de Brielle. Once in Poitou, Siri hopes to find employment in an illuminator's shop - until Triston unexpectedly snatches her heart away with a kiss.

Triston is a man of quiet honor and courage, but the guild he carries for the death of his late wife, Clothilde, has left him numb and hesitant to love again. Worse yet, Siri bears an uncanny resemblance to his lost love. Or does she? Her merry laughter and twinkling eyes are very different from his late wife's shy smiles and quiet ways. Yet when he gazes into Siri's face, all he sees is Clothilde.

Then Triston's past returns to threaten them both. Will his tragic life with Clothilde be repeated with Siri? Trapped between the rivalry of the king's sons on the one hand and a neighbor out for vengeance on the other, Triston realizes it would be safer to send Siri away. But how can he bear to lose her again?

Siri is determined not to be cast off and not to live in another woman's shadow. She has illuminated many a priceless book with pen and paint. But can her own vibrant spirit illuminate the darkness in Triston's soul and make his heart beat for her alone?

This story definitely left me with a sigh:-)
Joyce was kind enough to answer some questions for me.

Me: Tell us about yourself.

Joyce: I live in Arizona, where I've taught piano lessons to students of all ages for over 20 years. My two cats, Clio and Glinka, keep me company. I also keep busy volunteering for a music program at the school and serving in my church. Along with writing and history, I love reading, singing (but only for my own voice isn't that great!), spending time with my family, and eating chocolate chip cookies.

Me: When did you start writing?

Joyce: I started dabbling at it in Junior High School, when I wrote a sort of hybrid fan fiction novel combining characters from the TV shows Star Trek and Dark Shadows. A very long way from where I ended up, smack dab in the Middle Ages. LOL! I fiddled around with more writing in high school, starting tons of stories in various historical time periods that I never finished, but it wasn't until college that I began my first medieval setting, which also turned out to be my first "true" completed novel. (Never published, by the way, which is likely just as well.)
Me: I loved Illuminations of the Heart. How did you come up with the story?

Joyce: Thank you, Jewel! I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Triston, the hero of Illuminations of the Heart, was a character from my earlier medieval romance, Loyalty's Web. I left him with a rather sad ending at the end of that book, but I'd grown to love him so much, that I couldn't resist writing him his own story to see if I could discover a way to give him a happy ending after all. It wasn't easy. He was a character that required a lot of healing. Siri, in Illuminations of the Heart, becomes the agent of that healing process. When I began the story, I made her a medieval illuminator simply because I thought it would be interesting to explore that area of history along with my story. Only as the story progressed did it occur to me that she was actually illuminating more than just manuscripts...she was illuminating the darkness of Triston's life. Hence, the title of my novel.

Me: Your historical details are great. How much time do you put into researching the time period?

Joyce: To be honest, I don't put in a lot of preliminary research time before I begin a book. I mean, I at this point, I have a lot of the basics down, between my degree in history and having been "dabbling" with medieval settings for my stories since college. Most of my research now takes place parallel to the writing of my story. I have a large personal library of medieval history books on many specialized subjects, so when I come to a point in my story where I need a bit of specialized information, I stop and research it, then work it into my novel. I think that helps me resist the temptation to do large "history dumps" of information in my books. I just stop, look up the specific details I need, then weave those into where they're needed in my story. I don't enjoy reading books with "history dumps", so I don't really want to inflict that upon my readers if I can avoid it.

Me: Tell us your other book(s).

Joyce: Loyalty's Web was my first published novel, and was a 2007 Whitney Award Finalist. Like Illuminations of the Heart, it's a sweet medieval romance. It had more of a political edge (medieval politics, not 21st Century politics) than Illuminations of the Heart, so in that sense it was a bit different in tone, but still definitely a romance at its heart.

Me: Do you have any projects in the works now?

Joyce: Yes, I'm currently working on a novel based on a character from Illuminations of theHeart. I won't say who just yet, because I'd like to keep the readers guessing about what this character may or may not be up to as they read Illuminations. :-) I will say that while I don't have a title for it yet, I'm calling it "my troubadour book". Those who read Illuminations of the Heart should be able to guess who my new hero is going to be from that little hint. ;-)

Me: Cool, I'm excited already! Thank you, Joyce for giving us the opportunity to know you better.

To learn more about Joyce and her books, visit or visit her blog at
Post your comment and be automatically entered in a drawing for a copy of Illuminations of the Heart!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Love Is . . .

This week is my wedding anniversary, and as I sit and think back over the years and the triumphs and trials that my husband and I have faced, at times it seems like only yesterday that it was our wedding day, but then at other times it feels like we have been together forever.

When I look at my husband I see love. When I look at my children I see the love we have shared all these years.
What is love to me?

Love is:

humility (Being able to say you're sorry and mean it.)

Simply put, real love is unconditional, and it is forever.
Those are all the things I see when I look at my husband.

Thanks, Sean, for the best and happiest 20 years of my life.
I love you!

Suggested Reading
Book: By Love or By Sea
Author: Rachel Rager

The Book
When a mysterious and ragged sailor appears in the seaside town where Alice Lind Frank lives with her grandparents, Alice is shocked to learn that the sailor is her childhood love, Caleb, who she thought was lost at sea. She yearns to trust him again, but what about her plans to marry Clarence Hielott, the wealthy shipyard owner? When Clarence exposes the secrets of Caleb s past, Alice realizes that the boy she once knew is now a man with a dark history. Can she trust Caleb with her heart once again? And what will she do about Clarence? Find out in this thrilling and adventurous love story.

If you like a good old fashioned love story with a little mystery, this is a book you'll love. It is easy reading with characters that tug at the heart. I read this book in a day and it's on my list of books to read again soon:-)
Get your copy of By Love or By Sea from or

Monday, August 3, 2009

Why See Color?

Most people who know me know I have very, very, very strong opinions when it comes to certain subjects. Race differential is one of them. Why am I bringing this subject up now? Because more and more, the world is again beginning to place too much importance on it in one way or another.

My mother was raised in a very prejudice home, yet she came out totally the opposite. She raised us not to see color. This is one of the things I will always be grateful to her for. My husband and I have tried to do the same with our own children. Of course, since I'm black and he's white, that has been pretty easy for us to do, and it has been easy for our children to do. They know to expect nothing, nor accept anything, because of the color of their skin. They know how wrong that is.

People have asked me in the past if I have any problems with racial discrimination. I told them only if I choose to look for it, and since I don't choose to, I don't have problems. Life is definitely what you make it.

I think today's youth are being taught well and have an innocence as far as race is concerned.
A couple of years ago my mother-in-law came to stay with us. One of our neighbor's kids was at our house and innocently asked my mother-in-law, "Are you Jewel's mom or Sean's mom?" We all got such a kick out of that. You see, her pure little mind did not let her see color. It didn't even occur to her. If only we could all be that way.

I pray we can remember that we are all children of God. Period. Nothing else matters.
Have an awesome day!

Suggested Viewing

One Night With the King

About the Movie
One Night with the King is a sweeping epic about Hadassah, the young Jewish girl who becomes the Biblical Esther, Queen of Persia.
Despite her position, Hadassah's life is in danger, as the state has decreed that all Jews will be put to death. Defying warnings to remain silent, however, Hadassah struggles to save her people, evens as she seeks to win the heart of the king, in this exciting and inspiring story about destiny.

Also, get your copy of The Journey and Place In This World in ebook format today by clicking on the links to the right!