Monday, July 30, 2012

Staci Stallings, Special Guest Blogger

Please join me in a warm welcome for today’s special guest, Staci Stallings. I know you’ll be inspired by what she has chosen to share!

Up In My Father’s Arms

This morning at church I noticed a small boy in front of us.  He was probably just older than two.  Petite in features and sippy cup in hand, his little form toddled back and forth between his parents.  His older brother had to keep backing up to let him pass.  Back and forth he went and with the backs of our chairs so high, he could see most of nothing.
Then he toddled back across and lifted his little hands to his father who looked down and swooped him up.  In that flash of a moment, I realized something.  I spend far too much of my life toddling back and forth in my little limited world.  I see a lot of pant legs and shoes, chairs and floor.
In my limited view, life is rather confusing and quite uninspiring.  It really doesn’t make much sense because everything looks so similar.  I only see half the story, if that much.  But then, when I think to, I can look up at my Father and lift my hands to Him.  When He swoops me up into His arms, that’s when I see a world I never knew existed.  And what a world it is!
There are whole rooms and lots of people, and everything looks very different from up there with my Father.
The other thing I noticed as I watched this father-son combo was how the little boy held on.  It was not with a death-grip like “please don’t let me fall.”  It was with a trust that his father would not even think of dropping him.  True, he was holding on, but the real truth was him being up there to see was at the pleasure of his father, not of his own will.  Had his father wanted to drop him, the child would’ve had no choice but to get down.
But his father’s pleasure with him being up there was evident.  The father looked over at the child and smiled with love and pride as the child gazed around the room in wonder.  The little boy smiled back as if in awe of the point of view his father was able to share with him.
I love this lesson.  It’s so simple but yet so profound.  How many times do we insist on doing it ourselves, on going on our own limited viewpoint, on toddling around at our Father’s feet?  That’s always an option.  But if we’ll just lift our hands to our Father, He will lift us up to a whole new point of view.  As we look around and see our world, not as we see it, but as He sees it, He will no doubt smile at our awe and hold us there in His strength as we relax and enjoy the view.

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. You can check out one of Staci's Best-Selling Christian Romances...

                                              White Knight
~ The Courage Series~ 
                                                            Book 2

White Knight (The Courage Series)

  "Expect the unexpected..."
          "Through a series of entertaining twists and turns and a lot of suspense, two very unlikely people find in each other a reason to laugh and love and live." 
--Amazon Reviewer, Myrna Brorman
The hardest part is losing the person someone else loves... 
Buy your copy today for:
Kindle Ebook:

Note from Mary Anne:

I've read a couple of books by Staci and love her style and inspiration!!

If you are seeking additional reading materials for the summer, please also consider these books that I shamelessly plug at every possible opportunity:

Visit for links to all formats, and dive head first into some reading that may be too intriguing to stop!

Hoping this week brings you joy and blessings!

Mary Anne

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vivaldi's Muse & 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing

Vivaldi’s Muse by Sarah Bruce Kelly

Dragging the heavy box, filled to the brim with fresh, new copies of my first novel Eyelash, I began to set up for a book signing event in November, 2009 that would be held with several other independent authors/publishers. We were each given one half of a ten foot table, so it was tricky to display everything we desired to share with the adoring public that would (hopefully) be attending, while not encroaching on the territory of the author with whom a table would be shared.

As soon as I met the person who would be a table-mate, I immediately liked her and found a kindred spirit. Her name was Sarah Bruce Kelly, and we became thoroughly engrossed in  conversations about our writing and publishing experiences—so engrossed, in fact, that it was difficult to suspend the interactions when potential customers wandered to our table! It was incredibly helpful and gratifying to compare notes and engage in conversation with someone who had chosen the same publishing path that I agonized over before taking action as a new writer.

We exchanged our first books, Eyelash and The Red Priest’s Annina, and have been mutual fans since that time. Sarah has subsequently published Jazz Girl and now Vivaldi’s Muse, while I continued on to complete Never Say Perfect and 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing.

Vivaldi’s Muse is a book that transports the reader into 18th Century Italy and the highly competitive world of the inner workings of the opera. With backbiting and cutthroat rivalry amongst the music students and potential opera stars, Annina Giro, a fragile little girl, is thrust into this domain after her distant, disengaged mother abruptly leaves home and her father’s business has faltered through unexpected circumstances.

The wealthy, ill-intentioned Duke of Massa Carrara has offered to sponsor her tuition for the study of music in Venice. Her dream to be a famous opera singer is suddenly on the path to becoming a reality. With determination, spunkiness and God’s providence in her favor, she is finally able to begin her musical training under Antonio Vivaldi, renowned maestro and Priest. Their twenty-some year platonic relationship (only they know for certain) was the topic of rumors and gossip throughout the opera community and beyond. Could Annina ever find love when she compared every man she met to her beloved Antonio Vivaldi?
Sarah Bruce Kelly tells this fascinating story following extensive research on the characters and the subject. As readers, we are immersed in 18th century Italy in such a descriptive manner, we feel like  casual observers positioned directly into the sidelines of the setting. Even if I had never been to Italy, I would have been able to visualize the canals and gondolas of Venice, the crowded piazzas, structures with stately pillars and heavy wooden doors, narrow streets and historical churches.

 This book is highly recommended  for young teens and above. Let it be noted that even Annina’s battles with predators are handled delicately. Thank you to Sarah Bruce Kelly for educating and entertaining us on this interesting venue and topic!

For more information, please visit:

7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time!

I recently penned an article for a guest blog post that will be issued in the future (will let you know when and where it is scheduled to be released) in which I was asked to give one piece of advice to beginning writers. After process of elimination, because there are a multitude of important suggestions I could offer, I chose my initial suggestion (read everything you can get your hands on in the genre of your writing interest) and then added that it is vital to remember that you can never…and I mean…never please every reader. Some people will love your work, and others will hate it. That is because we are all different and operate with a variety of agendas. There is no one size fits all.

Contemplating this advice actually prompted me to examine why I wrote 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing. My goal in writing this book was to provide tools for people of any educational level to produce a collection of stories depicting their family history and life experiences to pass along to future generations. It was also designed to help readers capture the stories of other loved ones. It basically provides information on how to jump-start a memoir project.

Out there in the universe filled with perpetual critics, there are “memoir snobs” who believe that the genre should only be graced by writers who are ultra-prolific and sophisticated, and that tends to make me angry. I advocate that every person has a worthy story to write in his or her own voice, which may be neither prolific nor sophisticated.

7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing was constructed for everyone--from the individual who has difficulty stringing a few sentences together to make a paragraph to the expert on sentence structure, grammar and punctuation.

There are three things that people say that automatically fire me up:

1-“Only celebrities should write their memoirs. No one wants to read what the average person has to say.”
2-“If you aren’t going to tell all, it’s not worth writing.”
3-“Every memoir is supposed to meet a high standard—to be Pulitzer Prize-worthy material.”

Here’s the thing. Every potential memoir writer needs to evaluate his/her goals. Are they writing stories for family only, or do they intend to publish their material and sell to the public? There is a huge distinction between the two. If the memoir is for family only, one can be slightly more relaxed about the editing process. If the material will be sold for the world to see, there must be a higher standard and regard for grammar, punctuation, proofreading, and content analyzation  (does it flow and make sense?).

The truth is:  Any memoir project requires unsteady baby steps placed one after the other in order to progress. It must start somewhere. 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing isn’t the only book that the serious memoirist should read; however, it is a GREAT start. Learning, growing and digging deeper in any endeavor we pursue will place us on track for developing and enhancing our skills.

In the meantime, relish in recalling the memories, compiling your thoughts and enjoy writing your life stories!