Monthly Archives: October 2014

The Piña Colada Song

ski boots
The hardest question isn’t what the title has to do with this post. That’s easy. The song is about a man who takes out a classified ad about things he loves in the hope of having an affair. *Spoiler alert* – He attracts his own wife. Anyway the connection is I’m writing about details that made me fall in love with books. And don’t worry, I’ll also explain why there are ski boots in a blog post with a tropical title.

I just finished Karen Witemeyer’s Full Steam Ahead. I’ve read most of her books and liked them, but I loved this one. It’s about a “mad scientist” who’s experimenting on steamship boilers to improve safety. That’s an automatic swoon-worthy hero. But this title is hardly the first that’s drawn me into it with the details. Dani Pettrey’s Shattered has a scene with the main characters skiing/snowboarding. That’s better than any love scene. Hence the photo of my ski boots. Let’s just say when it comes to ultimate date nights with my husband, I like to keep my boots on, specifically a pair of purple Langes I’ve had since 1996.

There are others. Cara Putman’s novella A Promise Born doubles up with a WWII-era Purdue engineer and the Enigma Project. When The Treetops Glisten, her project with Tricia Goyer & Sarah Sundin, uses Lafayette, IN as a backdrop. I lived across the Wabash River in West Lafayette for four years and can’t wait see the city in the 1940s. Sarah Sundin has done her share in creating characters that were automatic loves for me with a trio of B-17 pilots and a pharmacist (there are three in my family).

Jill Williamson is another of my favorite authors, and Project Gemini has a special place in my heart. It takes place on Okinawa where I spent the summer of 2003 on a work assignment.

I jokingly refer to books like these as 8-star books. I’d give a poorly written one a minimum of 3 stars, but the books earned 5 stars on their own merits. I haven’t read Treetops yet because I can’t quite get in the mood for an Indiana Christmas when it was 70 degrees this weekend, and we still had pumpkins to carve, but I’m guessing I will love it too.

What subjects, locations, or professions entice you to read a book?

Seize the Day

Carolyn Arends’s “Seize the Day” has been my anthem since my days traveling through the Midwest for my first job out of college. As I wrote in my post last week, I already try to live like my days are numbered. Because they are; some will live to 100  and some will die tomorrow. Or today. I write this post with a heavy heart. A young woman I’ve been praying for passed away this morning. While there is joy she’ll spend eternity in health, I mourn for a vibrant life numbered with barely two decades on earth.

As part of the launch of A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes, we are writing about what we would do if we only had a year to live. This isn’t something I’ve spent much time pondering. My grandmother lived to one hundred and my grandfather just turned ninety. My other grandparents lived long lives too. My parents are in their sixties and plan vacations around Rails to Trails bike paths.

But I was recently touched by someone who didn’t have a long timeline. Last year, I lost a friend who left behind a husband, children, and a model of how to make the most of your days. She showed me in real life how to spend days, hours, and minutes with the utmost abandon. Her intentionality to leave a legacy for her family was inspiring.

So how would I spend my last year? My infinitely practical mind went to what I would have to do: work, shuttle the kids, do laundry, and keep the kitchen from becoming a chemistry experiment let alone the bathrooms [shudder]. Not to mention making sure my husband and children would be taken care of after I was gone.

But what would I want to do? That’s where I had to go with this.

If I could choose my last year like Parvin does, it would involve being able to have financial provisions for my family to take off the entire year. I’d travel the world. I would want to have as many new experiences as I could with my family. I’d make sure I visited my extended family, especially my parents, my sister, her family, & my grandfather. I’d visit aunts and uncles. But mostly, I’d travel with my husband and kids. We’d try as many exotic foods as we could. We’d visit as many places as possible. And have as many experiences as we could. My dream experiences would be:

  • Taking my family to Yellowstone. We’d have to camp at least one night, stay in a cabin, and spend a night each in Lake Lodge and the Old Faithful Inn.
  • Go on an Alaskan cruise and visit the interior of the state, Kenai Peninsula, and Dawson City, Yukon.
  • See a Broadway play; this might be the only time I’d consider leaving the kids. It would be special time with my husband but the thought of days without my kids with such a limited timeframe is painful.
  • Visit Prince Edward Island (the only Canadian Province I haven’t visited).
  • Go skiing with my sister’s family, probably in Colorado but I’m not picky.
  • White water raft and water ski – two of my bucket list items
  • I would travel to South America – Machu Pichu is the top of my list, and I’d want to visit hot springs in Chile because I wrote about them
  • I want to spend time in England, Ireland, and Scotland because London is all I’ve seen of the UK and never visited Ireland. And haggis is a bucket list dish.
  • Spend a few days in Paris then take a train to the French Riviera. I’d spend those days in France eating, eating, and eating some more. And I’d do nothing but lie on the beach once I hit the Mediterranean. Well, I’d eat.
  • I’d also make sure to go to Germany. Because if there’s anything I love more than French cuisine, it’s German cuisine.
  • Which brings me to the next stop, Japan. I’d have to visit Okinawa where I spent the summer of 2003 as well as the mainland. Another place that I’d fuel up on awesome food. And visit an onsen (bathhouse) something I didn’t do when I stayed there the first time.
  • I want to go to Greece, Turkey, the Holy Land & Egypt (so I could say I visited Africa). To visit where Paul spread Christianity. Walk where Jesus walked. And if you know me, the pool at Bethesda would be one of my Jerusalem stops. I have a bit of an obsession with hot springs.
  • I’d travel to Australia to make sure I visited all continents. Also, who doesn’t want to go to Australia? I might even get up the courage to SCUBA dive. I’m kind of claustrophobic, but if I’m going to die anyway why not expire seeing the Great Barrier Reef.

I’m pretty sure I have more days planned than a person could do in a year but maybe it’s because the thought of such a limited time terrifies me. There’s so much I want to experience, that I feel limited by a lifetime that could easily span forty, fifty, sixty years. Or I could die tomorrow.

If I do die tomorrow I have two wishes, someone scour my hard drive and shape up my stories so they can be published posthumously and play The Newsboys’ “Breakfast Club” at my funeral. I’m sure the older people will be horrified, but it’s the message I want to leave.

SIDE NOTE: I told my 10-year old about the assignment. He said: Break the clock and live longer!

Both my son and I know our eternity is secure, but we want to make the most of the time we have here on earth. And it’s not just eating exotic foods and crossing items off a bucket list. It’s living each day for God. It’s being Jesus to those around us. Being His hands and feet. And with that, I hope to leave this world a little better place whether or not I ever see Machu Pichu or eat haggis.

What would you do if you only had one year to live?


How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall —— her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.


Connect with Nadine Brandes on her website (
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And speaking of limited time: There’s less than 10 days left in her prize giveaway!


Live Like You Were Dying

Next week I’m scheduled for Nadine Brandes’s blog hop about what I’d do if I only have one year to live. Spoiler alert – not much.

A little over three years ago, the year I celebrated 20 years of liberation from the dystopia of high school, I sort of had a midlife crisis. Thankfully it didn’t involve cosmetic surgery or a sports car. I started writing. Now I have a completed manuscript and a great start on two more. My short story “Neatly Arranged” was published earlier this year as a stand-alone story and part of Mike Lynch’s No Revolution Is Too Big series. My short story “Detention” will be published February 3, 2015 as part of the anthology Out of the Storm.

When I first started writing, it was all I did. Eat, sleep, breathe, and talk about writing. While it threw my life out of balance for a while, it evened out. The benefits have been great. It’s recharged me in other areas of life – my roles as wife, mom, and engineer. I gained critique partners who turned into friends. I’ve been introduced fantastic books by great Christian authors.

Writing is my passion and even a ministry. It’s how I spend my free time. And I don’t miss the “Real Housewives” marathons (don’t judge), Facebook games (did I really enjoy them that much?), scrapbooking (when did I last order prints?), or knitting. OK. I do kind of miss knitting, but when it’s knit or read, the choice is easy. The rest of my life is better too. No televised catfights. No Farmville. No irritation that my daughter made confetti from cardstock. Maybe a little with the mess but not that she “ruined” my stash.

In a way, since I first put fingers to keyboard sometime back in 2011, I have been living like I was dying. Trying my best to make the most of my life. Leave a legacy. Along the way, I’ve realized writing wasn’t something I could do at the sacrifice of my husband, my children, my career, my health, my friendships, or even my walk with God. I mean I’ve always been writing to glorify Him. But was I always?

So now I write, but my “free time” has other priorities: a (mostly) regular quiet time, running to stay fit and enjoy God’s presence, sitting down to a video with my husband, bike rides and walks with the family, an ongoing game of Risk where somehow my minions and I defeated my husband. Good timing. Next week is fall break. Nothing says “mommy time” like plotting world domination. The minions must go down! Bwahaha!!!!



It’s The End of the World

I love dystopian fiction. The first dystopian novel I read was probably Atlas Shrugged when I was fourteen. Yes, I was one of those bookish teens and there’s a quote about us. Atlas Shrugged isn’t necessarily categorized as dystopian. It doesn’t follow the typical format of a “have not” escaping an prestige society. However, it does take place in a dystopian version of America.

Dystopian has been popular the past few years. I devoured the Hunger Games series when I first started writing. Since then I’ve read the Maze Runner series, Delirium series, and Divergent series. I also read The Giver which is both utopian and dystopian.
Even better is Christian dystopian fiction. Because the beauty of books from this worldview is that there’s always an element of hope. Both in the future and in the characters’ present situation. There are some really well-written books out there.

I just finished Rebels, Jill Williamson’s final installment of the Safe Lands series. I loved everything about these books. Great world building, fantastic characters, and a fast-paced plot. While I’m sad the series is finished, the ending was so satisfying. Perhaps one of the best endings to a series, ever.

The good thing is that I have a new series to sink into. Nadine Brandes released her debut novel, A Time to Die, and it’s the first of three in the Out of Time series. It excels in many of the same ways The Safe Lands does. Interesting characters, a fascinating story world, and unique premise. Everyone knows when they will die and carries a clock that counts down how much time they have left.

As for movies, I have Catching Fire and Divergent in my Netflix queue. And I’m still trying to figure out where I can catch Atlas Shrugged III since it’s not playing in our small town.

What is your favorite dystopian novel? What about your favorite dystopian movie?

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