Indie author Karin Kaufman writes cozy mysteries with an edge. Not your typical "cozy" mystery, Karin'sAnna Denning Mysteries feel like the complex yet simple tales of an ordinary widowed genealogist who gets herself into all kinds of trouble while just trying to do her job and be a part of her small town Colorado community. Her companion in trouble is the cyber newswoman and Anna's best friend Liz who operates a news site which has continued to expand its viewership. The Sacrifice is Book 3 in the series which began with The Witch Tree and was followed by Sparrow House. Karin has also published three other books, the most unusual of which is the somewhat speculative All Souls, the first in the Gatehouse Thriller Series.
When Anna is invited to speak about genealogies at the Elk Park Historical Society's meeting, it seems odd to her that the man who extended the invitation is not present. Instead a woman by the name of Clovis leads the group, but it isn't long into the meeting before there is some kind of tension. When a member gets a call, everyone finds out the absent man has been brutally murdered at the historical house the group is restoring by the bee hives which made the house famous.
Clovis privately informs Anna that the dead man, her close friend Russell, had wanted to hire Anna to dig into two of the members' pasts. Now he couldn't explain the reasons for his curiosity, but Clovis dutifully fulfills his wishes, hiring Anna, and handing over the skimpy folder of what Russell had discovered. Anna realizes she needs to get out to the old house to try to figure out what exactly Russell had hoped she could find.
It isn't long before the super sleuthing of Anna and Liz realize the sordid mess, original names, and demonic agendas of a few of the historical society's members. They learn it's precisely this kind of information that probably got Russell murdered. He's not the first victim of a ritualistic murder at the old house and he's not going to be the last.
Karin Kaufman has created a meaningful character in Anna Denning, a tough but tender woman who has survived the loss of her husband, and is beginning to realize she's falling in love with the man Gene who helped her in The Witch Tree. So hard for her to leave the memories of Sean behind, but she knows this man has been patient, never pushy or demanding of their relationship, and she senses he truly cares for her. Her feelings are starting to match his. The romance is low-key and works in the undercurrent of the story, never the focal point.
Faith plays a quiet role as Anna's renounced past with witchcraft aids her in the demonology of certain characters.
I've enjoyed Karin's voice and multiple characters in the Anna Denning Mysteries. She's released this book at the perfect time since the main event in this story takes place on Halloween. Never glorifying evil but instead identifying it for what it truly is, I give Karin credit for this exposure. If you enjoy what I call a cozy mystery with a definite edge, I recommend you start with The Witch Tree and continue through to The Sacrifice. With all kinds of interesting information in each novel, Karin strings together a tangled web of deceit, fear, and creepy characters into her well done mysteries.
Father, be close to Karin. Continue to inspire new stories just for her to tell. Bless her in all she does, Lord. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I grew up in the "drugs, sex, rock 'n' roll" generation. I'm not proud of my generation when feminism erupted, "free" love became the identifying phrase of the times, the Viet Nam war raged, and drug taking introduced people to new addictions. The highlight of that time was some of the best music and most talented musicians creating a wealth of truly great tunes. Rock 'n' roll gained fame and fortune for many, but of course it came with its costs such as drug overdoses and addictions.
One of the talented musicians of the day, who grew up in the church, Mylon LeFevre, allowed his talent to outshine his faith and fell into the troubles of the times with some of the best of that day. Like many of them, he ended up in treatment. When he regained his faith, he committed to Jesus, humbled himself, and left his music behind, but a wise pastor explained that God didn't give him his talent to be tucked away and hidden. Eventually, Mylon reunited with a guitar, formed his band Broken Heart. and made some of the best Christian rock to ever be played.
Sharing a couple of those songs with you here.
Father, you are the Rescuer, the Redeemer, the Ressurect-er. Jesus, thank you is never enough. Holy Spirit, thank you for never giving up on us. Please continue to bless Mylon in all he does for your Name. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
We've discussed differing opinions here in reading and about writing ad nauseam. But it never ceases to amaze me when two readers who are usually fairly like-minded hold two opposite opinions of the same novel. Especially when it's a book I loathed for every possible reason. Or one I loved and the contrary opinion matches my enthusiasm.
This presents the obvious reason for writers not to assume they will capture a particular audience's fancy. You just can't please everyone. As a writer, you try to isolate to whom your story might appeal, and if you're not "greedy" about it, you'll probably be right. Note the genre, the tone and voice, the subject matter or theme, the types of characters and shoot for the target readers.
Sometimes I think Christian authors are naïve about audiences. I've heard multiple authors insist they write for "all" markets. Not hardly. And that's precisely what I mean about being "greedy". When some secular readers give one-star reviews because of a low-key mention of God, Jesus, or a quick prayer, you're foolish to think your Christian worldview will "sneak" by them or not offend them. Some people just want to be offended.
One thing's for sure: there are plenty of novels to go around. Literally millions, old and new, to satisfy the hordes of diverse readers. And though we have similar tastes with some of our fellow friends and readers, there will always be a couple of books where we can't share the same opinion.
We write to tell the stories we want to read.
Father, thank you for the wonders of writing stories. Apart from you, I can do nothing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Getting outside oneself to take a clearer perspective requires us to look away from immediate circumstances to things much larger than the limited capacity of the here and now. Sometimes this is necessary to alleviate the current difficulties, thereby realizing "the plan" is so much bigger than our singular lives. Sometimes it's necessary to escape the boredom of routine and the consternation resulting from trying to accentuate life in general. And sometimes it's simply to realize this huge space above and beyond us and even all around us isn't random, unstructured, or even simplistic. It's far greater than the most gifted, the most intelligent, and the most imaginative minds in our world can create.
God built this world, the universes, and all that occupy them. In all the years of human life as we know it, mankind still cannot cure the common cold, has not discovered all the diseases and certainly not how to cure them, has never learned how to get along for any length of time without resorting to war over the most noble of causes and the most absurd. God did not build the sin into us. He gave us a choice. We made the wrong one and continue to do so on a daily basis.
There is one remedy, one solution, one answer to all the ills and sorrows of this life. His Name is Jesus. He gave His life that we could have that perfect life in eternity that we can never attain or achieve in our humanity on earth. No matter what we do, we will never be perfect. We won't even be good for long stretches of time. We're sinners. And Jesus is the only Way, Truth, and Life for us.
He's mocked. He's lied about. His followers make terrible mistakes and often demonstrate extreme hypocrisies, but He is faultless. He is the deliverer of mankind. The only one offered. The only one needed. He's the Savior of the world.
If you look up into the far off skies and wonder about who, how, and when, ask God to speak to you. Really. Ask Him to tell you about Himself. But don't ask if you don't want to know the answer, the reality of who He is. He knows your heart and your mind. He sees into your soul. He doesn't mess around.
As mad and evil as the world is leaning, we ache for justice and truth. There's only One place to find them. He's never been gone or absent. He's always been present. However, He doesn't impose His will. He offers it. Through Jesus. Don't delay. Wickedness increases. Ugliness is grabbing hold of hearts. Accept salvation while you can.
Father, hear the cries of empty hearts. Turn the Holy Spirit loose to call out to the lost. Let Jesus show them what real love looks like and wrap them in His arms when they surrender their wicked ways to His perfect ones. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I don't have the statistical information on blue moons. Suffice it to say I've never seen one. I've seen golden harvest moons, orange huge moons, silver white sliver moons, and bright white moons that take up a hunk of the sky. Never a blue moon. Rare and beautiful, few have seen them.
Sometimes, for many of us, success will be as rare as a blue moon. We may never see or experience it in the conventional sense of the term. However, personal satisfaction does not only depend on the conventional sense of success. I think it's important to measure success on those things we accomplish within family, friendships, and most of all with God. Without the Lord any success, no matter how stupendous and seemingly admirable, means little up against the God-standard. It's like so much chaff in the wind. Blowing about like debris stinging the eyes, making true sight negligible.
Remember, as you make your choices, to consult the One who designed you. He has a successful plan for you. Though it may be contrary to what you've chosen for yourself, if you want to achieve peace and contentment, His plan will work for that. If your goals lean toward the world's definition(s) of success, you might gain it but lose so much more than you gain.
Something to ponder on Monday . . .
Father, I submit to you. Help me to follow you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Take a good look at these shelves. Lots of books. Right? And a mere minute miniscule picture of the writer's competition. Published books. So what makes any author think their book is going to sell? Beats me.
I've resigned myself to the enormous number of available fiction out there. Let's face it: much of it overlooked because who can keep up with all of it? I mean, really. Even those readers who find a way to read several novels a week, in terms of the overall production of fiction, can't penetrate the 25% of books available.
The fresh-faced inspired indie publishers will realize soon enough how hard it is to incite "bestseller" reading status with their entries. Their marketing skills, their personal platforms, their multiple - sometimes international - friends and associates will support them and bring them a rush of interest and purchases. Will it be sustained? Expanded? Successful?
Publishers, in my opinion, are shocked at the revolt of indie publishing. They've been in control of the gateways to fiction for a very long time. Their processes, their acquisitions, their "take" of the publishing pie has all come into question now by those pesky little authors wishing to sell their labored-over stories to more than a particular demographic (in the case of the CBA) who might get their knickers in a knot because one of their majorly bad words like hell, damn, or boob was used! Or worst of all: a realistic mention or concept of sexual attraction (no graphics mind you).
But it's hard to sell books. Regardless of talent - or sometimes lack thereof - getting to the audience that best suits an author's story is no easy game. That shelf of books in the picture is just the proverbial drop in the bucket. Well-known names of favorite authors tend to get the majority of readers because it does take diligence to seek out fresh ones in the oceans of new titles.
The marketing factor crushes many of us. Prancing about on the various sites to strut our stuff doesn't bode well. We shrink at the "selling" and shirk the dynamic because we cannot figure out what might make our work more appealing to the audience we think would appreciate it. And so it still remains, when everything else is stripped aside, we stand alone with the command reverberating in our brains: Sell that $%#* book! And we can't.
So why bother creating these novels? The only reason I can give is my own: I've been given characters and a story to tell. That's it. In the maze of books I hope you find them. Then I hope you like them - if you ever read them.
Father, it's all up to you. Ultimately, finally, and rightfully so. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Most people at some point in their lives have had a toxic relationship. Whether as kids or adults, some people must be put behind us in order for us to be free of their oppression. Not tossed aside like so much garbage but constructively set aside for good or until whatever their toxicity causes in us can be extinguished. If what they do can be remedied, healed, overcome, or dealt a courageous death blow in terms of eliminating the poison they spread, we can regain a relationship with them if we feel we can both handle it appropriately.
In some cases the "burning bridges" moniker must be assigned to a particular "thing". One of the warnings in the writing world is to be careful not to burn your bridges. "Burning bridges" implies a negative occurrence. After all, a fire can burn and destroy things, sometimes making them impossible to rebuild. However, as the picture above states, sometimes we need to let go of certain elements in a field, career, or activity, let alone with people, that somehow cause us damage or for our own protection. When we strive to attain a particular thing and it seems as though every avenue toward it is roadblocked, perhaps there are other more satisfying or worthy streets to follow to similar destinations.
Careful inventory and scrutiny of our lives should provide the necessary moves to get on the road God designed for us. I'm not suggesting it's always easy to find or that it doesn't include keeping some bridges solidly intact, but others probably should be incinerated because they keep enticing us to cross them yet again and deliver us to a place we were never intended to go.
Father, deliver me to the places you have just for me. They are where I need to be. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
If you love Denzel Washington and don't mind some heavy-duty violence coupled with the good versus evil theme where evil is absolutely extinguished in so many creative ways, go see the 2 hr. 11 minute film The Equalizer.
It's a movie where film critics try to wreak havoc on its intent, its length, its flaws, etc., when it's not the least bit pretentious about what it is. Denzel Washington is a man resolved to leave his past behind because of a promise to his dead wife. But when the ugliness of a Russian mob strikes (literally) too close to home, his abilities are awakened for the sense of vigilante justice. And oh what skills he has. Who knew there was so much potential death and weaponry in a Lowe's/Home Depot type of store? Well, now we know.
If you like an understated hero in thriller-mode with, yes, extreme violence toward the end, Denzel will give you what you want. Of course not recommended for everyone. Language is bad from certain characters but doesn't permeate the entire movie. It is what it is. Exciting with a positive ending.
Father, good v. evil is the reason we need you above all else. Help those with pliable hearts see their need. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
You know you're desperate when your spam folder with its advertisers/promoters of a product and those obviously from a different country, laboring with the English language, tell you what a great blog/website you have: and you feel thankful.
You know you're desperate when . . . fill in the blank.
Ah well, such are the slow times of affirmation.
Father, you lead. I do my best to follow. Thank you, Lord, for everything. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.