Welcome to the blog of author Marlo Schalesky!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Forever After by Deborah Raney

Hi Friends,

Well, after a rush to the ER, 4 days in the hospital, raging fever, 2 surgeries, and a diagnosis of kidney stones and infection, I've gotten a bit behind on my blog (surprise, surprise!). Soooo, here's the book I wanted to tell you about last week. It's FOREVER AFTER by my friend, Deborah Raney. Here's a bit about it:

by Deborah Raney

Forever After is the second book in Deborah Raney's Hanover Falls Novels series from Howard/Simon & Schuster. The first novel in the series, Almost Forever, won the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence and a HOLT Medallion Award of Merit.

Synopsis: Lucas Vermontez was a proud firefighter like his father. Now, not only has he lost his father and his best friend, Zach, in the fire at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter, but the devoted rookie can no longer do the work he loves after being crippled in the tragic event. When friendship with his buddy's beautiful widow turns into more, he wonders what he could possibly offer Jenna. Jenna Morgan is trying to grieve her husband's death like a proper widow, but the truth is, she never really loved Zach. His death feels more like a relief to her. But that relief is short-lived when she loses her home and the financial support of her in-laws. Now the secrets of her past threaten to destroy her future. Almost Forever, Book 1 in the Hanover Falls Novels series, won the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence in 2011.

DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after 20 happy years as a stay-at-home mom. Her books have won numerous awards including the RITA, National Readers Choice Award, HOLT Medallion, the Carol Award, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Deb also serves on the Advisory Board of the 2500-member American Christian Fiction Writers. Her 20th novel released this month from Howard/Simon & Schuster. She and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy tending wildflowers and native grasses in the Kansas prairie garden in their large back yard. They also love traveling together to conferences, and to visit four children and three little grandsons who all live much too far away.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Being Like Play Dough

Hi Friends!

Well, with the kids home on summer break, we're doing all kinds of activities, including playing with play dough (while trying to keep it out of the carpet - ack). Here's something I learned from playing with play dough:

I could see it in my mind, the vision of a delicate bird, made from yellow play dough. I placed the dough on the table before me and began to shape the soft, pliable material as my four-year-old twins rolled their lumps of dough into different figures.

“Look, I made a snake!” Bria called.

“I did a hamburger. Yum!” Jayna held up her creation.

I grinned and worked at my dough. In some places, I pressed, in others, I smoothed. I squeezed,

I plumped, I removed unneeded pieces to certain areas and added to others. I made bumps that would become wings, lines that would define the tail, and tiny balls that would be squeezed into a beak and two eyes.

Jayna stopped her work and leaned toward me. “What’s that?” She pointed at the clay in my hand.

“You’ll see.”

“Is it a cat?”

“You’ll see.”

Bria furrowed her eyebrows. “I think it’s a flower.”

I chuckled. “Just wait, and you’ll see.”

They settled back into their chairs, played with their dough, and kept watching for my creation to take on a recognizable shape.

I continued pressing, pushing, smoothing, trimming and adding. Then, the questions started again.

“Why are you doing that?”

“Why do you need that?”

“What’s that for?”

I had the vision of a beautiful bird in my mind, but the twins couldn’t see it yet. To them, what I was doing seemed strange and meaningless.

I pulled out a butter knife and did some detail work. “Trust me.” I pressed lines into the wings to make feathers. I shaped the eyes and trimmed the beak. I removed bits to refine the feet and tail feathers. Then, I held it up. “See.”

Jayna sucked in a breath. “A bird.”

Bria sat up straighter. “That’s a hummingbird.”

“Yes, it is.” I grinned at them. “Do you like it?”

“I love it,” they said in unison.

As I held the play dough bird in my hand, I considered the work it took to make it, work that didn’t make sense to my two little observers. But I knew what the dough would become all along. I set the bird on a shelf for the twins to admire then popped back into my office.

There, I found an email from a disgruntled co-worker, an overdue notice that had come in the mail, a reminder of the deadlines I was having trouble meeting, and a message from the vet about my very sick horse. I put my head in my hands. I’d prayed about all those things, but nothing seemed to be getting better. As I looked at all the reminders of the hard things in my life, it just didn’t make sense. I couldn’t see how God was working. Here I was, squeezed, pressed, dented, hurt. And God seemed so distant.

“Lord, I’m tired. Where are You?” I whispered.

I waited for an answer, but I didn’t get one. All I got was the image of my play dough hummingbird flitting through my mind along with a few scripture passages:

“For we are God's workmanship....” Ephesians 2:10 (NIV), “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 (NIV), and “We are the clay, you [God] are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 (NIV).

Finally, I understood. I am the hummingbird. I just need to trust Him, to remain soft and pliable in His hands. Just because things don’t make sense to me, just because I can’t understand what He’s doing, just because it all seems like a big, useless lump, doesn’t mean that God is absent. It simply means that He has His own vision in mind. And maybe, just maybe, He’s pressing, smoothing, squeezing, poking in order to shape me into the person I am meant to be. Perhaps He’s closer than I can even imagine.

So in times of pressing, I’m learning that I need to trust that “… in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (NIV) If I place myself in his hands, nothing that happens to me is pointless. He can, and does, use everything, even the things that don’t make sense, to form me into the vision He has for me. And that vision is to be like His Son.

Dragons of Chiril by Donita K. Paul

Hi Friends,

Here's the new book I have to tell you about this week: Dragons of Chiril by Donita K. Paul. Well, it's not exactly new, it's a re-release, with a new title, of Donita's previous book, The Vanishing Sculptor. Here's what Donita has to say about it:

The Vanishing Sculptor confused people, well, mainly my readers. They said the title sounded like a mystery. Was I writing mysteries now? Where are the dragons? Come on, Mrs. Paul, we want dragons. So Vanishing Sculptor got shelved and in its place came Dragons of Chiril. The title fits better with Dragons of the Valley, the second book in the Chiril Chronicles, and Dragons of the Watch, the third book. Dragons of Chiril comes out on June 21st, 2011. You could say it has been reborn, but not in the spiritual sense. There is one sentence in the whole book that is different. LOL I wonder if sharp readers will be emailing me.

I’m not worried. The feedback I’ve gotten so far is that the title and cover are much more suitable. Of course, there is the one reader who liked the first title better.

The story is:
Before DragonSpell, on a different continent and a different time, a young emerlindian’s desperate decision threatens to disrupt the foundation of the world.Tipper has been caring for her family’s estate for years now, ever since her father disappeared, making a living by selling off his famous artwork. Then she learns that three statues she sold were carved from an ancient foundation stone, and the fabric of her reality is crumbling. She must find the three statues and reunite them, positioned exactly in the right form.She must free her father and save the world. But she can’t do it alone.Her ragtag band of adventurers includes Beccaroon, a giant parrot; Bealomondore, an aristocratic young artist; a handsome dragonkeeper prince; the Wizard Fenworth; and the tumanhofer librarian Librettowit. Together they travel through valleys and kingdoms and consort with purveyors of good and agents of evil to find and reunite the missing statues. Will they learn to rely on Wulder’s grace and guidance along the way?

Dragons of the Watch will be the last book in this series. It comes out in October.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Neat Lessons from Saturday's Rodeo

Hi Friends,

Last Saturday, a cold, windy, rainy day, was the Jr. Rodeo. Bethany and Joelle tied goats for the first time, and did a few gymkhana events. Jayden, Jayna, and Bria did stick horse racing and boot racing. And Jayna won at mutton busting. Here are some things I learned from them on Saturday:

1) From Jayna, champion Mutton Buster, who rode the sheep for 8.5 seconds (3.5 seconds longer than the boy who got 2nd): To win in life, you have to be brave enough to try and strong enough to just hang on. You don't have to tame life's muttons, and sometimes you're going to fall (that's to be expected), but if you get on and try when others are too afraid, and you hang on when things get rough and bumpy, you might just get the prize that God has for you. So, no matter what life throws at you, be brave and hang on!

2) From Joelle, who tied her goat to perfection, but it got loose a half second too soon: Sometimes even when you do things just right, things do go as planned or hoped. Don't despair! Tie your goats the best you know how, and let God take care of the rest. And maybe you'll get some perfect snapshots of life along the way.

3) From Bria, who was behind in the stick horse race, but came from behind to get a 3rd place trophy: Don't worry if others seem to be beating you, just keep running your own race. Don't get discouraged, don't give up, but see the race through to the very end.

4) From Bethany, who didn't win a buckle, but who ran her races faster than she ever has before, and had a lot of fun doing it: Don't compare yourself with others, but run your own race, and enjoy every minute of the race God has set before you.

5) From Jayden, who threw a fit and didn't want to run his races and have fun: Don't throw a fit when things don't go your way, instead look for new opportunities to find joy in what God is setting before you.

6) From Jordyn, who spent the day cuddled in the car while the wind and rain stormed outside: Don't panic when life is storming around you because God has set you in a safe place and He is watching over you.

7) From me, who stood out in the rain and wind, freezing and watching and cheering: Even when you're in a storm, cold, shivering, and wet, there are moments of pure joy. Watch for them, revel in them, and know that every day, even the yucky-weather ones, are a gift from God.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Second Chance Dad by Roxanne Rustand

Hi Friends,

Here's the new book I have to tell you about this week:

ISBN: 978-0-373-87673-0
Love Inspired
June, 2011
Roxanne Rustand

He Was A Challenge She Couldn’t Ignore...
The minute she steps foot in his dark, miserable house, Sophie Alexander knows Josh McClaren is not her usual patient. But the single mom and physical therapist is desperate to make a life for
her and her young son. And she’s definitely no quitter! It’s obvious to Sophie that handsome, cantankerous Josh hides his pain behind a wall of grief. Little by little, Sophie and her son,
Eli, do more than help Josh find his faith again. They make Josh wonder if there’s a family in his future after all....

Aspen Creek Crossroads: Where faith, love and healing meet.

This book is available at :
and fine bookstores everywhere.

Drop by Roxanne's website and get a free downloadable cookbook. http://roxannerustand.com/cookbook-and-recipes

Here's one of her favorite recipes as a tease.

1/2 cup melted butter (no substitute!)2 cups brown sugar2 eggs1 Tbsp REAL vanilla2 cups flour1/2 tsp salt2 tsp baking powder1 cup M&Ms
Combine first four ingredients and beat really well, then stir in dry ingredients. Don’t overbeat. Add the M&Ms last.
Pat into a well-greased 9×13 pan, then bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Do not overbake–these should be nice and chewy, so watch them carefully!
Hope you enjoy these, and come back again for other recipes. And if you’d like to share a favorite, that would be great!

Roxanne Rustand can be found at www.roxannerustand.com and her "All Creature Great and Small" blog, http://roxannerustand.blogspot.com. If you'd like to see the foal at her house (or barn), drop by http://roxannerustand.blogspot.com/2011/05/new-baby-at-our-houseand-it-nickers.html

To subscribe to her quarterly e-newsletter, which offers prize drawings, family recipes and news about her books, go to: http://roxannerustand.com/newsletter-signup

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thoughts on Psalm 100 - Where Do You Worship?

Hi Friends,

Lately I've been thinking about worship as an everyday attitude, so this morning as I was singing, exercising, and talking to God (while telling Jayden to not touch that and pick this up and stop putting that in his mouth and that belongs to sister and put it back), I also thought about Psalm 100.

Here are some thoughts about the Psalm and where we worship ... or at least what it means to worship, really ...

Where do you worship? When I ask people that question, I always get the same answer – the church they attend on Sundays. And no wonder. On Sunday mornings we go to worship services, are called to worship by worship leaders, sing songs led by worship teams. In our culture, worship is what we do on Sunday mornings. Work is what we do the rest of the week.

But a closer look at Psalm 100 shows us that maybe we’ve got it all wrong. Psalm 100:2-3 says:

2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his….

At first glance, these verses don’t seem to have anything to do with our work week. That is, until we realize the Hebrew word used for “worship” in verse two is the same word (abad) used in Exodus 20:9: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work …” It’s also often translated “serve.”

Consider the difference when we read Exodus 20:9 in that way: “Six days you shall worship, you shall serve, and do all your business . . .” Worship, then, is not just that thing we do in the church building on Sunday mornings. Worship is what we do in our business; it’s what we do the other six days of the week.

If worshipping God, serving Him, is for our workday, then how does that change how we go about doing our regular work? Again, Psalm 100 helps us to understand.

Verse two calls us to worship the Lord with gladness. What attitude do we bring to our work? Do we complain about it as if it’s a burden? Is our work something we just get through to make a few bucks? Or do we engage in our business with an attitude of joy and thankfulness? If work is worship, then our attitude needs to be one of gladness to serve.

Psalm 100 also calls us to come before His presence with singing. While our actual work situation may not allow us to literally sing, we can, at least, pay attention to what’s coming out of our mouths at work. If work is worship, then things like grumbling and gossip are out of place. Instead, our speech needs to be more like a song – filled with light and grace.

Verse three reminds us to know that the Lord is God and we are His. We are not the “god” of our workplace. When we manage others, interact with customers, deal with fellow workers in the workplace, we do it with humility knowing that God is the “big boss” and we are not.

In the end, Psalm 100 tells us that the Biblical view of worship is for everyday, for our work days. It’s not just a Sunday event. We do it with gladness, grace, and humility, knowing that we are worshipping our real boss in heaven.