Category Archives: The Arts

God created us to reflect Him through the arts

Author Fay Lamb’s Interview

Author Fay Lamb (of Write Integrity Press) is another author chosen to be part of The Visitor series. Her novella: The Visitor Meets Old Hairy, released in March. It’s fun to meet Fay and find out more about her and how she writes. Here’s a fun interview about Fay and her books:

Give us a brief bio: (thirty words or less) And then please answer the following questions:

Fay Lamb is the only daughter of a rebel genius father and a hard-working, tow-the-line mom, and the result is a dreamer who loves to share her daydreams with the world.

  1. What state do you live in? Have you always lived there? Have you lived anywhere else?

I have always lived in Florida where the ocean meets space, right across the river from the Kennedy Space Center. Both my family, and my husband’s family are generational, and noted as founding families of our community. My grandmother was born here in 1899 with her mother’s family having established a steamboat landing in a nearby area called Blue Springs prior to the Civil War.

  1. What do you write? How did you decide to become a writer?

I write a variety of genres: romantic suspense, romance, and even contemporary fiction. With my latest novel, I found myself writing a cozy mystery, and I loved it.

  1. Where do you get your ideas for your books?

Locations strike me often, and I’ll develop a series around a special place that I’ve come to know. Sometimes, I’ll see something benign unfold, and I’ll think, “What if …” an give it a sinister twist.

  1. Are you an introvert or an extrovert, or something in between? How does that help you write?

I used to say that I was an introvert, but then I realized that it wasn’t true. I began to teach on the subject of writing, and I also speak on women’s issues. I decided that I had been purposefully introverted and sometimes inclined to be that way. But I’m actually a lot more outgoing than I used to give myself credit for being.

  1. Besides The Visitor series, what else have you written? What other book(s) are you planning? Oh, and when did/does your Visitor book launch?

My book, The Visitor Meets Old Hairy, was published in March, and I’m so excited.  I also have four other series currently available: The first is romance: The Ties that Bind Series: Charrisse, Libby, Hope and Delilah, are the titles. My romantic series is Amazing Grace, and it includes: Stalking Willow, Better Than Revenge, Everybody’s Broken,  and Frozen Notes. Those are completed. My series in the making include: Mullet Harbor Christmas, with Christmas Under Wraps and All I Want for Christmas already published and three more on the way. The first book of my Serenity Key series, Storms in Serenity, is available with Luke’s Journey under revision for publication next.

  1. What’s the best thing about being a writer?

All the wonderful, wonderful worlds that I get to live in without leaving the chair at my desk.

  1. Where can we find you online?

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/FayFayLamb

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FayFaylamb

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1482814.Fay_Lamb

Amazon Central:https://amazon.com/author/faylamb

Newsletter, Tales from the Azalea Garden:https://www.faylamb.net/contact

 

Author, Julie B. Cosgrove’s Interview

Julie Cosgrove and I and several other authors have spent the last two years writing novellas (for Write Integrity Press) for a series called The Visitor.
Each of the seven novellas is a mystery/suspense involving characters that are related by birth or marriage, with the cool, stylish Connie B. Wright as the connecting character. She appears in every novella.
So, I thought I’d interview each author, in order of their books’ appearance. Julie’s book released in February.
It’s been fun to read my writing friends’ answers to the interview questions. Writers are interesting people!
Here are Julie Congrove’s words:

1.  What state do you live in? Have you always lived there? Have you lived anywhere else?  Texas, born and raised. I have lived here the most and live here now but have also lived in Missouri, Louisiana, and Florida.

2. What do you write? How did you decide to become a writer? My husband’s job required us to move quite often and I soon became unemployable. Several people told me I should consider writing for a living. I took some courses and began earning money as a freelance writer very quickly. So in thanksgiving, I tithed my writing time to God. That was back in 2007.  I became a devotional writer for CRU, then their editor over 35 devotional writers for six years. I have written for several devotional websites and publications, and still do write for a few. My own blog, Where Did You Find God Today, launched in 2010, has a readership in over 50 countries. But I love fiction and so in 2009 I joined a Christian Writers’ group, went to workshops, and eventually landed a contract in 2011. I have now written 20 contracted, traditionally pubbed novels and novellas.

3. Where do you get your ideas for your books? In the beginning, I thought, what if my suspense romance novel started out on a dark, cold, and rainy night? Cliche, but I tried it. It worked and it ended up being a trilogy over the next two years suggested by my publisher at the time.  I then wrote three short romance novellas in two series for them as a favor, but romance, even faith-based and clean, was not my thing as a widow. Then, my sister asked why I didn’t write more mysteries since I love them so much. So I gave it a shot, and my publisher took a chance even though they had never contracted a mystery before.  I write mostly mysteries with a message now. The message is not only redemptive but I also include facts about a social issue because I believe as Christians we need to learn more about what is faulty in the world in order to pray about how God may call us to help minister in it for His glory.

4. Are you an introvert or an extrovert, or something in between? How does that help you write? Introvert!  I did public speaking and workshops for a while and enjoyed being with folks, but it so drained me!! It took me days to recover. Since Covid, that has not been part of my life and I doubt I will return to it. That is up to God, though.  Being an introverted widow, I do not mind being alone, but in the evenings I would get bored. I am not artsy-crafty, so writing fills my time.

5. Besides The Visitor series, what else have you written? What other book(s) are you planning? Oh, and when did/does your Visitor book launch?  My Visitor book, the Visitor Makes a Retreat was the first to launch. It came out on February 10th. I have written three mystery series: The Bunco Biddies Mysteries, The Relatively Seeking Mysteries, and the Word Play Mysteries. Book number five of that series will release in September, and three more may be in the works. Write Integrity Press has approved their synopses.

6. What’s the best thing about being a writer? It is a creative outlet, and I have become friends with some amazing authors over the past fifteen years. The Christian community of authors knows we write for One Person, so there is no competition. He has a plan for each of us. We support each other. Right now, in this digital age where messages can be globally received in nanoseconds, it is an exciting time to be a small part of fulfilling the Great Commission to go into all nations and tell them about our Lord.

7. Where can we find you online?  My website is www.juliebcosgrove.comMy blog is www.wheredidyoufindgodtoday.com. I am on Amazon, Goodreads, and on Facebook as juliecosgrovetx.

Thanks, Dena!!

The Visitor Misses a Visit

 

 

Seven mystery/suspense authors (I’m one of them!) and seven mystery/suspense novellas, each centered around the attractive and vivacious Miss Connie B. Wright, a kind of Jessica Fletcher of Murder She Wrote, and maybe a little bit of Nancy Drew. Each story is unique in setting, situation, and interesting new characters. And within the pages of each novella, you’ll read how the ever-persistent sleuthing by Miss Connie helps solve riddles and bring the criminals to justice.

And to help you get acquainted with Miss Connie and her work as the head of a charity foundation, I’ll be posting a chapter a day of the Prequel, The Visitor Misses a Visit.

Then, in February, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase— or maybe win a free copy— of Julie B. Cosgrove’s The Visitor Makes a Retreat.

I hope you enjoy reading this first chapter of The Visitor Misses a Visit:

 

CHAPTER ONE – Wariness From the Warehouse

Chicago 2008

“What’s going on there?” Connie Beatrice Wright set her computer case on the chair near her father’s desk.

He rounded the desk and gave her a brief kiss on her temple. “They finally sold that tire graveyard next door. Summer isn’t ever going to smell the same, thank the Lord.”

“But the police?” What would they want with a tire dump?

His chin sagged as he moved back to his desk. “Are they still there?”

“Like ants.”

“As best I’ve learned, they uncovered something when the bulldozer started clearing out that huge pile of tires behind our warehouse.” He sat in his chair and propped his elbows on his desk. “Had a coroner car over there a bit ago.”

A coroner car? “Someone was dead?”

“I know that look, Connie. This is not a lark or a game.”

She ran her finger over the marble nameplate on the edge of his desk that read Mackenzie Wright. “A death is not a game, Daddy.” She knew what he was thinking by the grim set of his mouth. “I’m not doing a Nancy Drew thing.”

“It has nothing to do with us.”

Someone tapepd at Dad’s almost-closed door. “Mr. Wright?” The warbly voice belonged to Mrs. Hodges, the long-time volunteer who worked as their receptionist most weekdays. “A policeman here to see you.” She nudged the door open a little wider.

“Come in, Officer.” Dad got up and met the man at the door.

But he wasn’t a simple police officer. that was clear. He wore a sport coat and khaki pants instead of a uniform.

“Detective Rainey, Mr. Wright.” The man opened a wallet with a card and shield inside. “You own this property and the warehouse behind it?”

“The foundation owns it. The warehouse is used to store the supplies we donate to the local shelters in the area.”

Dad had left out mentioning the many shelves that housed their various displays, decorations, and activities that they used to put on all of the fundraising events. Those shelves were cloaked with her mother’s dreams, brainstorming, and sheer imagination.

But that wouldn’t interest Detective Rainey.

“I’m afraid we’ll need to limit access to your warehouse until further notice.”

“Why in the world—” Connie took one look at her dad’s stern face and halted her comment.

“I understand, Detective.” Her dad reached out his hand. “We’ll certainly be praying that you can quickly figure out what happened to whoever you found.”

The man took Dad’s hand. “As to that, have your heard of any strangers lurking around here? A man, maybe a few months ago?”

The man had been dead that long? Not that they would have noticed with the strong stink that already filled that side of the property from the tires. Connie’s left eyebrow arched on its own before she caught herself and forced it even with the other.

“Not that I remember, but I’ll ask around. Especially to the volunteers who help us in the warehouse.”

The detective nodded and left without glancing at Connie.

“Has anyone been lurking?” She leaned over with her hands flat on the desk when Dad took his seat again.

“You heard me tell the detective that I hadn’t seen anyone.”

“Uh-huh.” Her father wouldn’t lie about a thing like that. or about anything else for that matter, but Connie could smell a mystery in the making—or already made as the case may be..

“I think you should forget about all of that and go on to Mama’s office. Your office.” He gave a sad sort of smile, then stood and took one of her hands. “Your very first day as an employee of the Wright Foundation. We are so glad you agreed to come on board so quickly after finishing your business degree. Your mother’s arthritis is advancing to the point that it is very difficult for her to type, or write, or even craft the decorations. I know handing the reins to you will relieve her mind a great deal.”

Connie chuckled. “Well, after all, it is what I was raised to do, and I will love every minute!” She kissed Dad’s cheek and then stepped down the hall toward the reception center.

“Well, a proper good morning to you, Miss Connie, and congratulations on your graduation.” Though trim, almost petite, Anna Hodges’ vibrant and confident carriage made a formative statement. It was why she had been chosen to be the first face and voice that prospective donors encountered. Wearing her signature red blouse and purple scarf, she set down her skinny latte and reached out as Connie crossed the main lobby.

“Thank you, Mrs. Hodges.” She ga ve the frail woman a side-arm hug, then helped herself to a cup of coffee.. “Have your seen my mom around?”

“In her office, my dear.”  She snapped her fingers and pointed up with a tilt of her head. “I mean, your office.” She gave Connie a wink.

“You have blessed day, now.” Mrs. Hodges waved to her as she turned to greet an entering volunteer. The woman glowed pure joy.

Connie had always wanted to be just like her. She straightened the gray jacket over her short navy dress and slipped back down the executive hallway until she came into what had always been her mom’s office. The name plaque on the door still read Eleanor Wright.

“Well, there you are, sweetie.” Mama’s lively voice cracked a bit. “I was afraid you got lost.”

Connie smiled and shrugged. “Redirected by the police out there.”
“I heard about that from Mrs. Hodges. Seems they found a body.” Mama tsked and put a lid on  top of a box. She eyed Connie. “Did you talk to your father?”

Connie stiffened and met her mom’s stare. “About?” Had they changed their minds about letting Connie take her mom’s place with the fundraising? “You’re not having second thoughts?”

Mama shrugged. “I am, but then it doesn’t matter, really.” She held up her crooked fingers. “I can’t even tie shoelaces anymore. How am I supposed to decorate for banquets?” She flattened her mouth as tears filled her eyes.

“Mama, you know your own limitations, but that doesn’t keep you from the brainstorming  you’ve always done to set up perfect events. You have a gift for matching the exact activity to the charity and the donors who will be interested in supporting it.” It was uncanny.

Mama glanced at the carpet.

“Just because you can’t hang drapery or organize all the details anymore doesn’t mean you can’t contribute, and in a big way.” And Connie was counting on Mama’s input.

Mama laid a blue-veined hand on Connie’s. “Thank you, sweetie. That’s more credit than some of your siblings would give me.” She reopened the box and added a photo of their large family to it.

Connie didn’t want to think about family right now. Of her seven siblings, only Paul and his wife, Maggie, with their toddler, Teagan, had attended her graduation on Saturday. Of course, Paul lived the closest and was the nearest in age to her. Though, since she had been an oops baby, ten years separated their births.

“I did talk to Dad, but not about anything in particular.

Her mom paused for a moment. All right, then.”

“Shall I help you pack up your books?” She eyed the tall shelves filled with Mama’s Bible studies, cookbooks, decorating manuals, and photo albums. Lots of photo albums full of every fundraising event the Wright Foundation had ever sponsored.

“Oh, no. I think you’ll need all of those more than I will. I’m only moving over the bare minimum.

Hmm. Connie had hoped to move some of her own things in, but it looked like the office would still be Mama’s even if the person behind the desk had changed.

Mama toted the small box to the open door and called out over her shoulder, “Oh, and Clint should be here soon.” She poked her head back around the corner with a cryptic smile. “Make sure you meet him.” She gave Connie a nod.

Connie pasted on a benign smile. “Okay.”

Clint Rutherford. The golden boy, by all accounts if Mama and Dad were to be believed. He’d only been around for a couple of months, yet they hung on the man’s every word.

 

We hope you enjoyed the first installment of

THE VISITOR MISSES A VISIT

Come back tomorrow to catch the second part, and be sure to join my newsletter in order to get the entire story later this month!

 

 

The Gospel of Christmas Carols

 

 

My mom was part of an organization that helps young women go to college. One of her duties during the holidays was to find musical talent to perform for their local chapter.

My four brothers and sisters and I were the talent on three different years. None of us danced, and our piano talents weren’t developed enough for us to be effective entertainment.

But we all had good voices, and with my mother’s considerable pianistic talent, we rehearsed and prepared a sweet program, complete with three-part harmony and even solos.

Oh, I wish I had a photo of the five of us standing in front of my grandmother’s grand piano, dressed in our cute Christmas outfits, singing our Christmas carols. Those are
precious memories.

Most precious of all to me as a five-year-old was learning the words to the carols:

“Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the new-born King. Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinner reconciled.”

As a five year old I  wondered, how can a newborn baby be a King? I thought kings were old men with beards and crowns, wearing royal robes.

We sang: “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed, the little Lord Jesus lay down His sweet head. The stars in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”

Wow, this King lay in a manger, not a soft crib in a palace. Why?

I wondered a lot as I learned my carols.

For instance, “Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and heaven and nature sing.”

How can a heart let Jesus in? Oh, I wanted to know. And so began a quest to find out more about this Lord Jesus and how He can come so close that He can be inside of me.

The beauty of the music touched my soul. Such beauty would have to fit a great and good King.

And the words of the carols created beautiful images in my mind of this baby King. Angels announced him. (He must be very, very important!)

And shepherds left their sheep so they could hurry to Bethlehem to see Him. (Again, He must be way more important than most people.)

Wise men from the east followed a bright star. And when they found the baby Jesus they worshipped Him. How did they know Jesus was Someone to be worshipped? (I wondered this when I was seven, and preparing for our second Christmas performance.)

I mean, we’re supposed to obey a King. But worship Him? Only God gets worship. (Somebody told me this; I can’t remember who.)

So this baby Jesus was more than a king? He must be God?

No one in my family could answer my question. I didn’t have a Bible, and even if I had, I wouldn’t have known where to look in its pages to find the answer.

Jesus is God?

He must be. All those Christmas carols we were learning affirmed my question. And those wonderful words comforted me and let me know that there is a God who knows me, who came to make things right, who is worthy of worship as truly God.

Years passed, and with each Christmas holiday I sang those carols. And each time I did, the truth of the words drew me toward Jesus. I didn’t know Him, but I knew of Him. I wanted to  embrace Him, but there was no one to tell me how.

Finally, as a teen, a Sunday school teacher explained how to turn from all the bad things in me, and invite Jesus into my life.

Whenever I think of how Jesus used Christmas carols to prepare my heart to receive Him, I tremble with the wonder of His love.

I think this is the essence of Christmas, at least for me. That God looked down from heaven and loved this little un-churched girl in Rio Vista, California, and made a way through music to teach her and draw her to Him.

Oh, thank You, thank You, thank You, Lord Jesus!