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We love our non-American readers!

Guys, WordPress values your privacy, and there’s a whole link here about how they protect your data.

I receive your email addresses or blog names when you subscribe to me, and have begun sending everyone a link to Lucent Sylph to check out a free short story of mine.

Otherwise, all of your data and email addresses are protected.  I never give them out to anyone, I never sell them, I never share them, and you should only ever receive articles from me here at BlondeRJ.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email me at dashwoodavenue@gmail.com

Thank you, friends!

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Host Cleo or Me on Your Blog!

Want the quirky Cleo to come visit your blog?  Or just want to spread the word about the new book?  Want to share an excerpt from “My Fault”?

If so, I’m putting together a blog tour, and would love to come visit your blog.  🙂  

Here’s the Google form to sign-up

Also, I’m going to be hosting a live reading of the first section of “My Fault” on my Facebook page here tomorrow evening at 6 PM PST/8 PM EST.  Check it out!

Cleo thanks you with a quirky, goofy smile and a wink!

Cleo

 

My Fault

That’s what depression was like for me. I can’t speak for all of humanity, but mine was like this:

You’re sitting down, can of Monster next to you – backups in the fridge – and a brand, spanking new movie sitting in your DVD player waiting to seduce you with its pretty visuals and hunkalicious characters. Just when you’re about to begin, the doorbell rings and quality pizza arrives. Your favorite, of course – anchovies and pineapples and all. Whatever floats your boat. Add a guy next to you on the couch who’s just started straddling that fence from Favorite-Bestie to Yeah-We-Could-Make-Out-And-Be-Awesome-Together – not that I’ve had one of those, but you know how that’s every girl’s dream. So we’ll stick him next to you – totally close enough to accidentally cuddle up to in all the scenes you can fake being scared to watch.

So you’ve got it all, right? Like, it’s just perfect. Magnifique. Life is beautiful. C’est la vie.

You’ve got your pizza, soda, movie, and dream guy. But you also have a baby crying in the other room.

Johnny Depp does something outrageously hilarious. You want to laugh. But the baby’s still crying. Who can laugh over the sound of an infant in pain?

You bite into the warm deliciousness that is extra creamy tomato sauce with cheese so stringy you could turn it into a working jump rope. You pop that mess of calories into your waiting mouth… and the baby’s wailing. Sobbing. The thing’s in pain. It’s hungry. I don’t know. But it won’t shut up.

There’s a moment when you’ve done the girly thing of pretending to squeal and scoot into not-best-friend-not-boyfriend’s extended arm. He’s got you close and you look at each other. Your locking eyes are like magnets for your lips and you pull close…

But the baby’s weeping. Demanding. Crying. And who can enjoy a good snog when an infant’s in freaking pain?

That’s what Depression’s like for me. No matter how good I have it. No matter what great things happen. No matter what’s going on. The baby’s still crying in the background. And I vacillate from anger to empathetic sorrow to dull misery to outright panic.

Can someone make the baby shut up?

Except there’s no baby. Not for real. But there’s Depression. And it can’t be tuned out. Can’t let you really feel anything.

Doesn’t ever shut up.

– MY FAULT – available now for pre-order here on Amazon!!

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The Good-Embarrassing of My Mom

My mom will be embarrassed by this post.

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But the good kind of embarrassed, I hope.  And it’s all well and right to good-embarrass a godly person once in a while.

We just finished studying Romans in BSF this year, and Paul good-embarrassed a boatload of people at the end of Romans 16 – Paul knew how to give praise and affirmation, and how to be thankful.

And that’s what I want to do today, on Mothers’ Day Eve.

2011_01_11_KES-1449_2When I first became a mother back in 2011, Mothers’ Day quickly had all sorts of significance.  I had been cut open and stitched back together to bring my husband’s and my DNA into the world, and so I deserved to be celebrated, dagnabbit!  With my three-month-old daughter in tow, on my first official Mothers’ Day, we revisited the arboretum where we got engaged and had pictures taken.  My mom was there too, probably taking the pictures, but the day was suddenly about me.

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I was twenty-four years old and thought I was the best mom in the world. The doc had diagnosed a serious dairy allergy in my infant and I was totally off dairy to nurse her.  She was three months old, and I knew everything.

Right.

Here I am now, seven years later, three little girls later, and all I’m thinking is Heeeeeeeelp.   I know nothing.  I never knew anything.  I’m going to fail them.  I’m already failing them.  How did my Mom do it, and what made her so gloriously wonderful?

But now she lives across the U.S. and I can’t hit the arboretum with her, or stop by on a bad day and cry, or throw myself into her arms and say thank you about two hundred times.

Now, in 2018, this day is all about her to me.

My mom was the golden middle child of five.  And I don’t mean she was perfect.  I mean she was literally golden.  The only blondie in a household of brunettes.  The only one that really looked like her own mom.

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She was friendly and outgoing, a bit of a follower, and super cute.  She wanted to be well-liked, and she tried to please everyone.

One day at the end of high school, she was invited to Young Life, and there she confessed her sins and embraced Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection on the cross.

While she got her teaching degree, she worked all over doing numerous fun and temporary jobs during the summers, including a stint at the Von Trapp family lodge in Vermont.  She was an evangelist, a people-person, and cheerful.  She sparkled and enjoyed life.  All of the pictures I’ve ever seen of her show her smiling broadly, happy, purposeful.  She’s the perfect picture of a healthy ENFJ.

One time, in Boston, she took a teaching job that involved kids on parole.  By the start of the year, numerous teachers had already quit, but my mom hung on.  On the outside, she doesn’t look tough – the woman cries at practically every touching movie we watch, and numerous books as well – but she has guts on the inside that people always underestimate about her.  And mostly she has a gigantic, whale-sized heart.  She loved those difficult kids when no one else would.

Wait, I’m talking about my siblings and me.  Did you think I meant the kids on parole?  Oh yeah, she loved them too.  *wink*

She stuck that class through and won them over that year.  She also spent years teaching special needs children and adored them.

But rewind.

After moving to Colorado to live with a dear college friend who had just had a difficult miscarriage, she met my dad who was stationed nearby in the army. They met at Sunday School, because my mom was always at church, rain or shine.  She was also planning on heading to Japan for short-term ministry when they met, and she planned her wedding in a short space and time before leaving for overseas.

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Six years later, after my dad got out of the army and graduated from Harvard, my mom had me.  After that, the rest of us came quickly, four children in five years.

38809_140824595948509_806722_nMom stayed home and became the world’s best housewife.  She had a schedule for everything on her multiple whiteboards, and she was as predictable as the sun rising in the mornings.  Everything had a place, everything was secure, everything was safe.  She made us feel like our world was all right.

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Mom got excited about homeschooling pretty early on, and started with me right away in kindergarten.  As each younger sibling began school with us, she added to her own workload without a blink of the eye.  Every once in a while, she’d beg for her fifteen minute nap in the middle of the day, but that’s only because she got up at five thirty in the morning to meet with God one-on-one for hours.  And could she nap!  She could go out like a light at 199852_195007213863580_1038841_na moment’s notice, in a public place even, without pausing a second.  I’ll never forget the time the piano teacher found her asleep on a chair in the other room, mouth wide open.  Mom is a queen napper.  She has no ability to stay up late.  She’ll get this fuzzy delirious look and won’t listen to a word you are saying.  As a teen, I should’ve asked her for big bad things at that time of night.  She wouldn’t have remembered saying yes. *wink*

Faithfully taking us to the very best of Bible studies, to all of our sports, to all of our friends’ houses, and laying down her lives for ours, Mom didn’t have much time for herself outside of her home, her children, and her Lord.  But she led Bible studies and 1914825_186167651414203_7180005_n (2)neighborhood groups, started get-togethers and women’s meet-and-greets.  She could get to know anyone.  Meeting new people is her favorite pleasure in life. We used to groan and joke every time someone randomly started telling Mom their life story.  She knows the grocery checkers by name, will pray for their children by name, and starts conversations with all the other moms at the sports games and doctors’ offices.  No one is off-limits to Mom when it comes to a conversation, and she knows how to slip Jesus in when you aren’t expecting it.

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Mom can disarm anyone.  I’ve never met a single person who doesn’t like her.  People walk away warmed from the inside out because she’s the least intimidating, most caring person you’ll ever come across.  And when she says she’ll pray for you, she means it, in her numerous organized prayer journals, and on down on her well-used knees.

Mom used to randomly say, “I love you, Rachael Lynn,” using our full names, just because she felt gushy inside.

The only conflict I can really remember us having is when I would blitz through my chores like a madwoman, wanting to get to my entertainment and play, and Mom would go back over the dust with her finger, calling out my lack of thoroughness.  Or the times I’d get far too creative and not really do the work she wanted me to do.  Or the time she’d use her razor sharp discernment and call me out on something spiritually that I’d delusionally insist wasn’t true.  Or the times she’d try to correct my early writing and I was too arrogant to submit to it.  Sometimes we’d call her Scrooge, which she hated, because she suggested doing away with Christmas presents and just focusing on Christ.  *wink*

She is in my top two favorite people to be around, including my husband.

And then I got to my late teens and early twenties, and I wanted my friends, wanted to my freedom, wanted my husband.  And I was moving too fast and being too foolish and getting too obsessed.  And Mom was frightened about the technology and “Inter-web” and “intelligent phones” and things that might take me away from the Lord and their home.  I kept silent, expecting her to handle things badly, lying to her and being rebellious deep in my heart.  But when my sin came out, she was nothing but forgiving and gracious, adapting in ways I had not thought possible, embracing the future God had for me, counseling and guiding me, and I slowly began to repent and grow.

No matter what interests take my fancy, Mom is interested too.  Mom listens, researches, studies, and embraces.  No matter how weird.  No matter how odd.

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All the granddaughters

She insisted on doing all of the gardening and mowing herself, and taught us how to run a home independently by age twelve.  She took us on hikes and sang us the bear song and the skinny-dipping song.  She gave us St. Patrick’s Day treasure hunts and folding-laundry-movie nights.  She took us on all-expenses-paid vacations with her inheritance money and put little gifts on our car dashboards.  She held hour of prayer days and taught us hymns.  She let us sleep in her bed when Dad was away on business trips, even when we kicked her in the middle of the night.  She taught us about the human skeletal system, even when it made her feel like passing out and she had to sit with her head between her knees.  We made meals for church members, hosted strangers, and prayed for persecuted nations.  She taught us to see outside ourselves.

She does everything well.  She would insist I’m lying when I say that, so I have to admit she’s never had a great relationship with technology.  She’d gush and gush about how patiently I taught her how to use a computer, but to me, she was easy.  I’m pretty sure I first realized that I loved teaching from all of the pleasant hours spent showing her how to minimize a window.  *wink*

11700878_1115777958439547_6278047765549556863_nMom reads every single one of my novels as I write it, giving few critiques, but all excitement, loving and rooting on my characters, lecturing me for writing something that keeps her up too late at night unable to put it down.

When I got married and moved away, Mom still visits and simply cleans my house, attending my children’s sports and activities, even grocery shopping together.  When she visits, we do life together, and she’s like my second set of hands.  We work together, talking until my throat hurts, best friends sharing our souls.  We can talk Christ for days on end.  I never tire of being in her presence.

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I, as her child, rise up and call her blessed.  Many women have done virtuously, but she excels them all. I truly strain in my head to find faults with my mom.  They simply don’t exist. She walks more humbly and closely with God than another human being I’ve ever met – and I would know!  She loves Jesus with a realness and dearness that I long to emulate, and she loves people in complete purity.  She is gracious, giving, non-judgmental, flexible, loyal, and pleasant.  She laughs easily, she serves continually, and she is wise.  She is over and beyond humble, and she has suffered long.  Her faith does not waver.

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If I could be half of who my mom is, I would be satisfied.  Thank You, Lord, for putting a spiritual giant so closely in my life as my very best friend.

I love you, Mom.  Happy Mothers’ Day.

 

 

 

Almost 200 Followers – and a Lucent Sylph Award!

5star-shiny-hr Lucent Sylph!It is with the greatest pleasure that I get to announce…

This week, Lucent Sylph won a Readers’ Favorite Five Star medal!!  Such high praise from the group of editorial reviewers over at Readers’ Favorite!  The new Lucent Sylph covers will be going up soon with new medals on the front.  Woot woot!

To read Lucent Sylph for free, go here!

On top of that, this blog has almost hit 200 followers!  I’d like to give a gift to the 200th follower – an ebook copy of all of my books!  That’s a $16 value!  The entire RJ Conte collection!  Share this post with friends, and maybe some of them will win the whole shebang.

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I’d also like to announce that my new novella, a Christian romantic comedy about a quirky young woman and the guy she hits while driving drunk…

is in editing stages!!  Thanks to a coaching session with Janeen Ippolito, and thorough edits from Desiree Williams, I hope to have this story out to you in a few weeks!  SQUEAL.

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Amazon Bestseller!!!

Thank you to EVERYONE who bought copies, and everyone who prayed…

Yesterday Angel-Lover MADE #1 BESTSELLER of all paid YA, Christian, issue-driven fiction!!!

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*cheering*

Angel-Lover - RJ Conte

Praise God!  Pray for all of the people who will be reading the gospel!  ❤

You can purchase a copy of this bestseller here!

Exordia!

Sacrifices must be made.

On a desert planet, all citizens must cooperate to survive. The scientific organization, Pallagen, protects the colony city of Exordia–whether they want it or not.

Rebels must be broken.

Ex-Pallagen researcher Lena Ward isn’t going down without a fight. Her team of Exordia rejects is ready to pierce Pallagen’s benevolent exterior and expose the truth of their horrible agenda.

Loyalty must be programmed.

Amnesiac Alex Kleric is reclaiming her life as an Enforcer dedicated to Exordia and Pallagen. But the records aren’t jogging her memories. Something is wrong–and all questions point to Lena Ward and her underground rebellion.

Progress must continue.

To save Exordia. At any cost.

 

Exordia CoverIntroducing a new sci-fi novel from Uncommon Universes Press!  Excited about this one!  😀 

 

Excerpt

The glass-fronted entrance had a row of automatic doors. They didn’t open when Lena and Brant approached as they would have during business hours, but Lena pulled the handle of one and it swung open easily.

She paused, door held open. There were answers inside this lab, but also risk. She didn’t know what Pallagen was hiding or what she would do when she found out, but once she walked through this door, she couldn’t walk away. Pallagen would see her intrusion as a declaration of war, and she would have no choice but to fight them or die trying.

She looked up at the building, twilight glinting off the glass, to where Dani—wounded, angry—was perched. She glanced at Brant, who’d had a girlfriend before Pallagen stole that from him. She wasn’t just facing down Pallagen because of what they’d done with her research. This was about what they’d taken from the people around her. Some of her nerves faded. She licked her lips and turned to Brant.

“Are you ready?”

Brant unzipped his jacket, revealing the armored vest he was wearing beneath it. He pulled a dark scarf over the lower half of his face and nodded. Lena pulled the door open wider and walked through the entrance.

There were three guards wearing Pallagen gray in the reception area: one behind the desk monitoring cameras, and two lounging on comfortable-looking chairs, facing away from the windows. They snapped to attention at Lena’s entrance, completely surprised at their approach, thanks to Dani’s control of the cameras.

“Good evening, gentlemen,” Lena said, smiling, hands in the pockets of her overdramatic coat. Brant stood behind her, slightly to her right. He had his blaster out, both hands wrapped around the grip and aimed at the guards. Set to stun, Lena hoped. They were only here for information.

Before the guards had time to draw their weapons, Brant stunned the two by the chairs, the blue light of the stunner bright in the dim office. He was quick and accurate. Lena nodded in approval.

Behind the desk, the third guard, young and wide-eyed, raised his hands. “Revelator! Who are you?”

“Should we tell him?” Brant’s voice was muffled by the scarf. “Or should we take the wise path of criminals everywhere and remain anonymous?”

Lena resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “Stun him. We have a job to do.”

The guard’s face twisted in panic before Brant stunned him. Blue light washed over him, and his eyes rolled back into his head as he slumped in his chair.

Brant pulled the scarf down and smiled. “See? This isn’t so hard.”

Lena huffed. “Don’t get too cocky. This is the reception area. There will be other guards back in the labs.” Still, she felt some of the tension across her shoulders release at their successful entry. “Besides, we had the element of surprise on our side. Pallagen wasn’t expecting us. They’ll be ready next time.”

Author BioAuthor Sarah Ott Photo

(Isn’t she cute? 🙂 )

Sarah E. Ott lives and breathes stories that involve high stakes and character-driven plots. When she’s not chasing plot bunnies or emoting over good literature, she can be found doing one of the following things: a) working as a kids ministry office administrator, b) driving her Prius to Dunkin’ Donuts, or c) curled up on a couch with a book and covered in live cats.

Social media links:

Website: http://www.saraheott.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Ott2Write

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sarahlizzieo/

Feel free to join the Facebook party and get to know the author, Sarah E. Ott, and these other guest stars!

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HELP! Angel-Lover Rising to the Top!

2DHave you picked up your copy of Angel-Lover yet? There are some ads running on my second novel this week,  and it’s up to #15 in all issue-driven, Christian, teen fiction!
I was inspired by Frank Peretti’s “Hangman’s Curse” and wanted to pursue an evangelistic, issue-driven story about a Goth boy like Ian. ❤
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Please help me beat the book in the #1 place, which is an LGBT story that defames Christians!! :-O 😦 Just one dollar will help pull a book that has the gospel into a better seen position on an important Amazon list. ❤

Open Letters to Persecuted Christians – From My Children

We’ve been praying through Voice of the Martyrs prayer calendar – praying for a different persecuted country every day.  This has been very eye-opening to my two oldest

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Front Cover of the Prayer Calendar

girls – children who’ve known peace, safety, and security all their lives.

Today we studied a passage on heaven and Jesus’s second coming.  At the end of the passage, Paul tells people to encourage each other with these words.  I mentioned that thinking about eternity in heaven was probably very encouraging to those being persecuted, and my oldest daughter got a lightbulb idea from the Lord.

“Let’s write a note of encouragement to them about heaven!” she said.

So that became our English assignment for the day.  ❤

I copied down exactly what both girls wanted to say.  These are 100% their words, not mine.  As we look for a place or person to mail these, I thought I’d share them here as well.  ❤

 

Dear friend in Christ,

            I’m writing to you because I want you to know that Christ is always with you and you can depend on Him to always be there.  Even if your enemy is hurting you, you can know that Jesus, our Lord and Savior, will always be there in your heart and around you.  You can know that at some point you will be in heaven and you will enjoy it.  You will get to see the Lord who you’ve been waiting for – the One you believe in!  If any of your Christian family members have been hurt or persecuted or killed, you will be able to see them up in heaven too.  Just remember that Jesus, your Lord, is still with you, and you can depend on Him to help you.  Every day, in every way, He will always keep His eye on you, so that He knows what is happening. Everything that is happening to you is all in His sight and it is all for good.  Even though you might be alone, you can still have the Holy Spirit in your heart and you can keep Him there. He will never leave or go away.  You will never leave Him.  You will always be in God’s arms. Even though we, in America, haven’t gone through the persecution you have, we still have a very bad sin of not focusing on God.  😦 We can learn from you because you and your family focus on God and keep up standing up for who you believe in.

Love,

R.S., 7 years old, USA

 

Dear friend in Christ,

            God loves you and He will always be there for you, no matter how hard your troubles are.  He’s there with you! When Jesus comes back again, there will be a great celebration.  He will take all of the Christians up, and, if you are one, He will take you up too.  🙂 At the end of the world, God will create a new earth and it will be part of heaven. Everyone will be satisfied in heaven and there will be no sadness. There will be no anger.  There will be no dying.  Everything will be happy in heaven! Whenever you have a trouble, just pray to God and He will figure out a way to solve the problem. I will meet you in heaven too!  🙂

Love,

R.J., 5 1/2 years old, USA