Threadbare

12232782_539219216245779_6251484058513023387_oToday we have authoress Bethany A. Jennings, professional editor, creator of the popular Twitter game #WIPjoy, and one of my very best friends!  (That last part is most important, of course.)  She got her start editing by practicing on my books, and MAN is she good.  She has edited ALL of my books (which you can find here!) except Dashwood Avenue and Angel-Lover, which were written in the dark, sad pre-Bethany-as-bestie period of my life.  *wink*  She says her favorite book of mine is my free short story, Lucent Sylph, because of the “symbolism and beautiful themes of love and sacrifice.”  ❤  (She did a great job editing that one too!) You can find her editing services here: http://simmeringmind.com/editing-services/

But finally this talented editor and beautiful friend of mine got to publish her own short story!  This beautiful, fantastic little tale is full of loss, hope, excitement, and sacrifice, and I highly, highly recommend it.  Get your own copy of Threadbare today for only a buck!

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Premise: What happens when your gift turns against you?

All her life Bess has known the magic streams around her, waves of power she can draw from to wield the gift of magical threads. Now the youngest member of a team of Anchors, she helps protect the city streets from Drifters—energy thieves who prey on the life force of ordinary humans.

But when a battle leaves Bess’s threads in an irreparable tangle, she is faced with an agonizing choice: sever her threads and lose her magic forever—or be slowly consumed by her own power.

Now for a fun interview with Bethany!

1. Who was your very first imaginary friend as a child?

I don’t remember the ones I had as a young child (if any), but as older kids my sister and I invented “imaginary boyfriends” for ourselves. (Here’s hoping she doesn’t come after me for admitting this online! Haha!) Mine was Mark, hers was Gilbert – and Mark and Gilbert apparently existed purely to make invisible mischief (and occasionally dance with us). We used to pretend they were riding in the back of my dad’s truck, or climbing on rooftops – all kinds of crazy antics we narrated to amuse ourselves during boring lulls in traffic or dull days.

2. Who is your favorite artist?

Oooooh, that’s hard, because I love so many! Of historical artists, I love the pre-Raphaelites, but don’t have a single favorite – although my favorite painting is The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse, which is special to me because I memorized the Lady of Shalott by Tennyson in school as a teen. Of contemporary artists online, I really like Sandara (a DeviantArt artist).

3. If you could have any magic ability what would it be? 

Teleportation! I’d love to be able to travel anywhere in the blink of an eye and visit loved ones near and far without the time and expense of regular travel. Also, I could get after my kids faster. 😛

4. Who is your writing hero and who is your spiritual hero?

Can I say C.S. Lewis for both? I adore the way that man thought and wove his spiritual musings into his stories. My writing is not much like his, and I don’t agree with him on everything, but I still love what he did with writing and how God used Him to spread truth and beauty through fictional worlds.

5. Tell us about your next story. 

Dragon Lyric is a dark, intense fantasy short story about a young bride who discovers that she has actually married a shapeshifter dragon – and is determined not to become his prey. It’s very different from Threadbare and more adult than YA, but it contains some of the same themes of hope and fierceness in the face of despair. I hope to complete my first draft soon!

 

Congratulations, Bethany Jennings!!

 

A Boxcar Children Movie Sequel

My daughters, who I homeschool, both adore The Boxcar Children.  The oldest, especially, can’t get enough of them.

There was a cute animated movie made about the first book, and a sequel is in the works.  The producers are looking for a voice actor for a smaller role!  My girls both entered the competition and need your votes.

You can vote for both of them once a day for the next 2 days, I believe.  They are both easy to spot because they’re wearing butterfly masks (Trying to give them some Internet privacy since the rules stated I had to upload their adorable videos on Youtube.)

Please help us out!  🙂

Vote here: https://www.facebook.com/BoxcarChildren/app/403834839671843?brandloc=DISABLE&app_data=chk-590bcacbca4bd

DON’T READ THESE BOOKS!

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Here is a list of books you absolutely should NOT read.  Only a FOOL would read these books!  I’ll tell you why!  You can even click on the titles in bold to see what all the reviewers say about these DANGEROUS books!

 
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The 12th Girl in Heaven

This book has kissing in it – and the couple does it because they’re dared to do so by a sorority! What is this teaching your college student?! Also, the book contains depictions of unwanted showers! I was horrified!

 

Angel-Lover2D

Teenage guy visits a church for the first time and feels like puking! What a message to give your teens going to church! Also there are sermons with passages from Isaiah! Who even understands Isaiah anyway? Plus, the blonde on the cover isn’t even an angel. What a rip-off!

 

2DHeartsick

Just too creepy. First girl doesn’t work out for the moody stalker guy. So he finds a second girl who looks like the first and tries again…

 

The Hotline GirlTheHotlineGirl_1850

The heartthrob is a burn victim, while the actual good-looking guy is an egotistical pervert. Who wants to imagine the kiss scene including a guy without lips? *shudder*

 

2D - CopyLucent Sylph

A boy keeps an unclothed female alien in his room as a pet! So indecent!

 

Dashwood Avenuedashwood

It has teenagers running through a grocery store being chased by a guy with a gun! Too scary for your kids! Also, a girl gets called by the name of a vegetable the whole book! Just insulting!

 

astoundebookAstound: Cultivating a Wonder and Love for God in Your Kids

And this one’s the very worst!  It calls your young sweet children wicked sinners! My poor innocent baby’s self-esteem!  Don’t read it!  Don’t be a fool!

 

HAPPY APRIL FOOLS DAY, ALL.  😉  😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Threadbare!

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My best friend and editor, Bethany A. Jennings, has published her first short story!  This young woman is a prolific writer, but her stuff hasn’t seen the light of day until now, as she prefers to hold on to and hone her works in secret for a while first.  😉

But I tell you, she’s MY editor, and all of my works of fiction on Amazon are as highly rated as they are because of her help.  So you can be guaranteed that anything she writes herself is amazing.

Check out the premise of her heart-warming and exciting short story available for a buck!

What happens when your gift turns against you?

All her life Bess has known the magic streams around her, waves of power she can draw from to wield the gift of magical threads. Now the youngest member of a team of Anchors, she helps protect the city streets from Drifters—energy thieves who prey on the life force of ordinary humans.

But when a battle leaves Bess’s threads in an irreparable tangle, she is faced with an agonizing choice: sever her threads and lose her magic forever—or be slowly consumed by her own power.

Check it out here on Amazon!  I loved it!  ❤

Favorite Love Confessions

Posting a day late – but I thought of this only after midnight, Valentines Day 2017, had passed.

Do you have a favorite love confession/profession in any of my books?  Post it in the comments – but don’t spoil which book its from!  Or a favorite love confession from a different book?  Let’s fill up the comments with beautiful romance.  🙂

Here is my favorite from all of my books! (Not spoiling which books and which characters!)

The tears in his eyes rose yet again, spilling out of his lower eyelids and down his nose. He wiped them away absent-mindedly with his cold clean hands. How he loved her. It filled his chest. It filled his head. It filled every part of him. He felt like he was made entirely out of love for her. He imagined the feeling reaching out of his heart into her limp body and warming her from the inside out. He could see his love like a hand that reached for her hair, caressed her face, and soothed her painful sleep. It truly was selfless. There was no him in the equation. All that mattered was her.

He loved her.

This is what had replaced the lustful obsession. He loved her with an intensity that surpassed anything he had felt for anyone but the Lord Himself. The last time he had felt something as overpowering as his love for her was when he received his salvation. But this was different. It felt like… like…

Destiny.

He was always meant to love her. He knew it now. He didn’t fight it any more. His infatuation for her had drawn him to Jesus. His obsession had ultimately saved him. And now, his love would enable him to save her. She had saved him first.

Your turn to post a favorite love realization or confession!  

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ASTOUND!

Do you remember that I mentioned starting my first non-fiction project a few posts back?  In “Your Child Doesn’t Love God,” I talk about dealing with an ongoing behavior with one child, and feeling the call to write a booklet on the gospel, God’s love, and His greatness for preschool through young-elementary-aged children.

That booklet is complete!  And will be on Amazon in a matter of days!

The Lord has really grown and stretched me through writing this 29-page, pocket-sized booklet, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to write it!  My husband helped immensely, and an amazing team of beta readers has critiqued the thing’s socks off 😛  until it’s shiny and as perfect as it can be.  🙂

An old California friend, and fellow Christian mom, also graciously offered her services to provide artistic touches throughout, and you can check out the whimsical watercolor artist, Kelli Hoekendorf, on her Facebook page here.

Here’s a sneak peek of some of the first pages of the booklet with her adorable art!

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The booklet has been endorsed by fellow Christian non-fiction author, Bruce Ray:

“ASTOUND is a big concept (sanctification) simplified for little hands and little feet. In these few pages RJ Conte avoids the big traps of legalism and lawlessness and tells children (and their caregivers) that the way to become holy is by learning about God and loving him so much that you don’t want to displease him. Easy to read, but big ideas!”
~Bruce Ray (pastor, police chaplain, author, and grandfather)

and by author, editor, and #WIPjoy creator, Bethany Jennings:

ASTOUND is packed with beautiful, thought-provoking doctrines
for young hearts to ponder, written in a way that makes them
easy and accessible for parents to discuss with their little
ones – Bethany Jennings (mother of 4, author, and editor)

Be watching for the announcement that the ebook version is available later on this week!  (The paperback pocket version will be available in the following weeks.)  Please be in prayer that God would use it for His glory!

Also please be in prayer for me.  I will hit 38 weeks, in this pregnancy, on Tuesday.  I’m getting over a cold, and am still wanting to attempt a VBAC after two c-sections.  I’d love prayer for a safe delivery and healthy baby!

Thank you, everyone!
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Top Posts of 2016!

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It’s time for the list of the top 10 posts of the year!

This was a slower year for me, mostly due to pregnancy and all that comes with that, so I only wrote almost half of the amount of posts of the previous year.  In 2015, I wrote 93, and this year I wrote an exact even 50.  BUT, even with half the posts, I actually, just barely, got more views and visitors this year than last year, meaning that my posts are bringing in more readers than ever!  Hooray for that!

This year, I had 11,687 visitors to my blog with 16,043 views and ended the year with 118 blog followers.  *cheer*  (To follow this blog, click FOLLOW on the right hand side of this page) 

Without further ado, what were the most popular posts of this year?  Well, not all of them were even actually published on this blog this year – some have remained super popular from previous years, and have lived on with lives of their own all over the Internet.

Sitting at #1, by far, with no competition, and with around 35 hits A DAY is:

Anime Characters by Myers-Briggs Type (with 7,164 individual views this year!!)mami_tomoe_render_by_moeblueberry1771-d5evnl7

This post is also #1 on any Google search for “anime characters by Myers-Briggs type and continually brings in guests to my blog.  Kind of exciting, even if it is very niche.  So if you like anime AND personality typing, this is the post for you.  Identified by name, show title, and picture, I have anime characters from various shows in neat little groups according to their types.  🙂

 

The Day I Met Job (with 996 individual views)PCOS Challenge Infographic

This makes me so happy that it’s #2.  This is the deeply personal testimony of what God did in my heart and life last year after suffering with secondary infertility.  It is also about my best friend and her daughter, an appreciation of my mother-in-law, a nod to a fellow author, and mostly a testimony about a hero of the faith I met last year.  Please read the article.  I hope my vulnerability and sharing of God’s greatness touches your heart!

 

An Open Letter to My Pregnant Sister (with 460 views)beautiful-wedding-tiara

Still going strong.  This is a writeup I did for baby showers that I first composed for my sister 2 1/2 years ago, and have tweaked a few times since to share with other expectant moms.  There must be a need for this, as people continually search for this online and find my site.  🙂

 

Tied with “My Pregnant Sister” is: Setting up the Romance Ship (with 460 views)austenland-holding_13254521245

How fun that my breakdown of the smart secret to writing a winning romance story did so well!  I thought this one was a bit obvious until I read (and watched) many people miss this key point to setting up their relationship story. Thinking I had nothing to lose, I threw my own theory out there, and it did very well!

 

Should Married Women Vote Against Their Spouse? (with 349 views)your_vote_counts

This one was a hot button when I first posted it a few years ago, and it continues to be something people search for and find through my blog. Read at your own risk…  🙂

 

Could You Love This Genderless Person? (with 287 views)5

Maybe it was just a catchy title, but this was a very niche article about genderbender dramas that I posted. A “genderbender” is when a guy dresses up and pretends to be a girl, or vice versa, and the opposite sex falls for them.  I explore this trope and why it means so much to women, and maybe what’s spiritually at the heart of this “forbidden romance” story.

 

In Memory of Victoria Mercy Conte (with 262 views)conte-052

A year and a half after the sudden and tragic passing of my husband’s baby sister, this post, written by *him* not me, still makes the top 10 on my list.  Please read my husband’s beautiful, tear-jerker tribute to a lovely life that sits very dear to our hearts.

 

NAME THE BABY! (with 221 views)namebabygirl02

I’m legitimately shocked that this made the top 10!  Last year I teamed up with lovely author Melanie D. Snitker to do a giveaway and promote each other’s books.  Readers named the baby that her main couple was pregnant with, and we got some great responses.  I need to do more on this blog with fellow authors next year!  In the meantime, check out Melanie’s very successful books on Amazon.

 

Asian TV for the American Newbie Viewer (with 188 views)patemainverted_dvd-f

This is a fun list that I kept on my sidebar.  Always hearing me talk about anime and kdramas but have no idea what’s safe or good to watch or where to start?  Not sure you’d even like Asian TV?  I put together a “starter” list of Asian TV for people who don’t like Asian TV, so to speak.  These are storylines and shows that I think any American could love without feeling too “eastern” in the storytelling style.  Give any of these shows a chance, and let me know if they did not disappoint!

 

And last but not least: Sarcastically Realistic Movie Descriptions – Name That Movie!2a3

This one also surprises me that it made the list.  This was a funny little game I posted on my blog a while ago, and it’s done well recently.  Someone must have reposted them.  If you’re looking for a comedic way to describe popular movies, as a game for a party you’re hosting, this might be the post for you.

 

So which blog post of mine was YOUR favorite this year?  Leave a comment!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Child Doesn’t Love God

I have a child, a young child, who is currently actively rebelling and deceiving me daily.

It breaks my heart to watch it happen over and over again, even in the face of constant correction. Sure, she’s very young – not even a teenager – and so her mistakes are small in the grand scheme of things, but sneaky deception and disobedience are not small issues, even if it just involves hiding her toys that she was playing with when she was supposed to be cleaning her room.  No matter what her age or offense, watching your child do these things is always crushing.  But I get an opportunity NOW, while she’s very young, to tackle some of these issues at their root, before she becomes a chronically lying young adult like her mom was at one time.  I have been convinced, up to this point, that she is a born-again Christian, so my tactics with her can be very specific to a baby believer.

At first, I lay in my bed mulling over what this meant about me.

“How could she do this to me when she sees it upsets me every time?”

“Does she not care about her parents?”

“Am I just a terrible disciplinarian?”

“Where have I failed?” etc.

But if you ask yourself these questions when your child struggles in an ongoing sin, you’re probably missing the mark.  Sure, as a parent, it’s important to make sure we’re setting a good example, leading in Scripture and prayer, and being consistent, loving, and patient, but the truth is, your child isn’t sinning because he doesn’t love you.

Your child doesn’t love God.  

Not like she should.

It hit me, as I prayed and mulled and thought last night over discipline tactics, that nothing was quite right.  I thought about assigning her Bible verses to write and/or memorize on truthfulness and obedience.  I thought about taking away any TV watching for a week.  I thought about giving her more chores.  But everything felt so superficial, like they were tedious activities that wouldn’t actually speak to her heart.  Yes, she needs to have a consequence for her ongoing disobedience, but then what is the training I can start to incorporate?

The root problem is that she doesn’t know God enough to be intimately in love with Him and want to obey Him.

That hurting Him breaks her heart and that His commands are precious to her, like gold and silver. (Psalm 119:127).

You say, RJ, this is a big task.  I, as an adult, don’t even love God like I should, or want to obey Him like I should.  I know!  Me too!

So maybe, in preaching to her, I can preach to myself.

51r9pfxl22bl-_sx327_bo1204203200_The first book I thought of, that really cultivated a love for God in me, a book that spoke so highly of God, His character, His plans, and His love for me, and my should-be love for Him, is Elyse Fitzpatrick’s Because He Loves Me – a fantastic book that describes the high grandeur of the gospel in new ways you’ve never thought of.  Makes you truly love God for who He is and what He has done!

But much of the writing might go over my little one’s head.  How does one cultivate a high view of and passion for God in an young child?  Or an elementary student?  Why is almost nothing written to kids that give them a higher view of God?

I’ll never, ever forget what my best friend in CA told me while I was out visiting her last month.  She said, “The thing I can’t stand about most Sunday schools and programs for Christian kids is that it revolves around the child.  That they are the center of the universe and God just wants to dote on them and love them and that they are just perfectly wonderful little balls of perfection.  That, from a young age, we aren’t showing kids that they’re one cog in the great wheel of God’s plan.  That He’s sovereign and powerful and mighty.  That He demands our obedience, and we are desperate sinners, but He loves us immensely.  That we are called to love and pursue Him and have a relationship with Him.”

Our children’s faith can be so intellectual.  So rote.  So tedious.  So dry.

Our relationship with God, even as children, shouldn’t be dry.

Who among us has seen a child light up with absolute passionate wonder at a fireworks display?  When meeting Santa Claus?  When seeing a magic trick?  When decorating the Christmas tree?

There is so much wonder and awe in children, and yet it is either snuffed out, or completely ignored when it comes to the most Wonderful Being in the universe: their God and Savior.

So, as of this moment, I’m ditching all of my other writing projects for this new one.  I had so little motivation lately anyway, and maybe this is why.  I’m writing a pamphlet.  A booklet.  For my child.  For me.  And maybe for your child too.  And it’s going to be on the amazing wonder that is our God, and the fact that we get to love Him!  Like Elyse’s book, it will be on how the cross is applicable to daily life, but it will be in the language of children.

Pray for me and my children.  I will pray for yours!  Pray that this is a God-led project that I can do to benefit and convict and excite and cultivate God’s love, not only in my daughters, but in myself even more and more!

“And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.” Philippians 1:9

 

Winner of the Mad Libs Contest!

We have a winner of the Mad Libs contest! Thank you for sending in entries!
 
Judging had to pick Jenna Skye Aquino for her succinct, creative, and clever paragraph using all 5 crazy words:
 
“Steven was trying the new meatloaf recipe his girlfriend had found online. The last time she tried something new it was disastrous. He had never felt his stomach crinkle like that before nor did Advil alleviate the pain. Hopefully this time around the recipe won’t make his body bloat like a globe. He was a nincompoop for trying the recipe but he loved her, this he would do to support her.”
 
Congratulations, Jenna. You win a paperback copy of Heartsick!