Tuesday, April 22, 2014

To Haiti with Love


Today's guest blogger is Jen Prahl, an Iowa teacher who writes about her recent trip to Haiti. Jen is one of the many people who sacrificially give of their time, loss of work, and resources to travel to Haiti.
 
[Says Parakaleo International, the mission organization that sent Jen's team: The trip is nothing that resembles a vacation--no running water, locations so remote the only way to get there is by walking for hours over the mountains or hiring a motorcycle to take you, no nearby stores when you get hungry or something breaks. Days are hot in the mountains, and nights are cold.
What is really exciting for Parakaleo is that Jen’s school is a sister school to one of the schools in Haiti. By being a sister school they help out with the needs of the school, not only financially but also lifting their Haitian sister school up in prayer daily. This is one of the many ways that Parakaleo International helps make a difference while being good stewards of the funds that God provides. It has been a blessing to us to see schools and churches desire to join with another in Haiti to help them reach their full potential.]

This year Rapid City Christian School returned to Haiti with Parakaleo International. We were able to take eight high school students, two sponsors and a dentist (who also happens to be a parent).
Our students had an incredible trip. They returned home full of thankfulness, stories and an eagerness to see what God will do between now and next year. While in Haiti the team from RCCS ministered to the school in Baie de'Orang. What made this extra special is Rapid City Christian School helps sponsor Baie de’Orang. We were able to check on the school and bring some supplies for teachers and students.
While there the team conducted a Bible Club for the
students and took turns assisting Dr. Criss in his dental clinic. We were all blessed to see students at the school come forward in Bible time to discuss salvation with Pastor Amos or
our translators. We also made many friends and enjoyed interacting with students despite our language gaps!
       As a sponsor on this mission trip I was thrilled to watch my students pray, work, and sometimes play :) together in unity that comes from recognizing that we are a part of a greater work that God is doing in our school in Rapid and in Haiti.
On our last morning in Haiti I woke up with the
words of a song on my mind only to step outside and hear Pastor Kevin singing them on his way to breakfast. They aptly convey what RCCS feels about our recent mission trip to Haiti. "Bless the Lord, oh my soul. Worship His holy name!"

 

 
Enter to Win!
Leave a comment to be entered to win Whispers from the Shadows by Roseanna M White and a bracelet which was brought back from Haiti on our recent mission trip. It is handmade, from wooden beads, all of natural color. Don’t forget to leave your email address.
 
Also, if you stop by Parakaleo International http://parakaleointernational.blogspot.com/  and follow the blog we will enter you in a second giveaway with books, Haitian bracelet, candle, body and bath basket and more (don’t forget to leave a comment on Parakaleo with your email address and tell us you followed the blog).  This giveaway is for US mailing addresses only.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Inaugural

Cumberland Falls Storytelling Festival

April 11--13, 2014

at

Cumberland Falls State Park, Corbin, Kentucky

Celebrating Southern Appalachian Oral Tradition and Culture

Make plans now to attend Cumberland Falls Storytelling Festival in conjunction with Cumberland Falls State Park's world-famous Moonbow! Featuring Stephen Hollen, Pam Holcomb, Buck P. Creacy, and Jack's Mama (Sharon Kirk Clifton)! Stay up to date by clicking "Like" on the Facebook page.

Are you skilled at a traditional Appalachian craft? Would you like to sell your authentic, hand-crafted products at Cumberland Falls Storytelling Festival? Find out how on Facebook

Plan to stop by the Swapping Ground and take a turn at telling a family-friendly tale yourself.

Don't be late! Don't hesitate! Make reservations now at Cumberland Falls' Dupont Lodge and be close to all the events for the weekend of storytelling, hiking, scenic mountains dressed in their spring finery, and, in the evening, the world-famous Moonbow!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Reclaiming Hallowe'en

Gentle readers, I highly recommend Dr. Albert Mohler's blog article on this subject, also.


[Note: Whenever I refer to the Church, I mean the regenerated followers of Jesus Christ, not some brick-and-mortar structure.]

The Church has allowed Satan, the ancient enemy of Creator God, to steal, or at least taint, many of our celebrations. The man Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra, who gave his all to follow the Savior, has morphed into a jolly, rotund, caricature we call Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny continues to try to usurp the position of the resurrected Savior. Children are taught erroneously that Thanksgiving was a time when the Pilgrims thanked the Indians for helping them to survive in the wilderness.

All Hallows' Eve also has suffered at the hands of the enemy, though not as much as the afore-mentioned, since it was never purely Christian and has clearly pagan origins. Most agrarian cultures celebrate significant events in the seasonal growing cycle: harvest time, solstices and equinoxes, and planting time, for example.

The origins of All Hallows' Eve--Hallowe'en (don't forget the apostrophe)--go back 2,000 years to the Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The word means "end of summer." Pumpkins, apples, and various gourds were a significant part of that event. The Celtic new year began on November 1. Make no mistake. Samhain was not an innocent harvest celebration. Blood sacrifices--both animal and human--were offered to Druid gods.

By 43 A.D., the Romans had conquered the Celts, and within the following 400 years, had integrated their own pagan festivals into Samhain, including Feralia, occurring in late October. Feralia was a day to commemorate the dead.

"Christianity" spread through the Celtic lands by the 800s. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III established that November 1 would be All Hallows' Day. According to Roman Catholic belief, All Hallows' Day was when souls were released from Purgatory and allowed to wander the Earth for 48 hours. Apparently, Pope Gregory was attempting to supplant Samhain with a Christianized version. That was Pope Gregory's M.O. He often claimed pagan celebrations and buildings and imposed a "Christian" significance on them. For example, he claimed the Pantheon (which was dedicated by the Romans to "all gods") for a Christian purpose. His All Saints' Eve was celebrated much as Samhain had been, with bonfires, parades, and people wearing costumes of saints, angels, and devils.

______________________________________________________________________

Why would any Christ-follower want to celebrate a day that represents everything for which Jesus Christ gave His life to destroy?  

_______________________________________________


Today, many people claim that Hallowe'en is an innocent harvest festival, but a quick trot through the costume section of the local Wal-Mart tells a different story. With a glance backward to Samhain, Feralia, and, yes, All Hallows' Eve, one can see that the culture of death lives and thrives in today's celebration. The holiday is no holy day!

It amazes me that many Christian parents continue to celebrate this time of ghosts, ghouls, goblins, and witches, labeling it "innocent fun." What is innocent about rubber masks that portray people who have been maimed, disfigured, frightened out of their minds, or murdered? Parents who encourage such "innocent fun" are opening the creaking door on the occult and nudging their wee ones over the threshold. Hallowe'en always has flirted with the macabre.

Why would any Christ-follower want to celebrate a day that represents everything for which Jesus Christ gave His life to destroy? Hallowe'en's origins are completely occultic. But children follow the leadership of their parents. May our all-wise LORD grant to those children the wisdom that their parents and grandparents lack. (Consider Deuteronomy 18:14 and Galatians 5:19-21).

Some parents think to avoid the dark side of Hallowe'en by dressing their children as Disney character, vegetables, or historical figures. After all, children love to role-play and dress up. (So do many of us who are adults, in fact.) If it's done at Hallowe'en, it's in celebration of Hallowe'en, even if Snow White doesn't have blood dripping from enlarged eyeteeth. Kids can play dress-up throughout the year. No one day of the year has a corner on that.

Jesus says that He Is the Light of the World (John 8:12). As His followers, we are commissioned to reflect that light in today's dark world (Matthew 5:14), to be imitators of our Lord (Ephesians 5:1).

As for Hallowe'en, we need not reclaim it; we never owned it. Nor should we want to.

Because of Christ,
Sharon

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Something New for Me


As autumn dons her golden garb and temperatures begin their decline toward winter, I'm transitioning, also. 
       After publishing my first middle-grade novel, Up a Rutted Road, as an e-book, I spent the summer revising my second novel, The Second Cellar, an MG historical fantasy. Now, even as I seek a home for Cellar, I'm embarking on two new projects at once. One is another MG novel entitled The Daddy Letters, and the other is an historical romance, The Sun Catcher.
       Never before have I tried working on two manuscripts at the same time, but I couldn't decide which one to write first, since both are plotted. Other writers have multiple projects going at once, so I decided to give it a try. If one begins to take over the spotlight, then so be it. In God's timing, they'll both be completed. 
       What beckons me today? Yesterday, I got a strong start on Daddy, but on this first day of October 2013, I'm drawn to The Sun Catcher. The main character in that story, Irene Delacroix, keeps tapping me on the shoulder.

Your turn! If you're a writer, please share your experience with tackling multiple book-length WIPs (works in progress) at once. How do you juggle them? Is it something you commonly do? I look forward to your comments.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Coming in April 2014! Stories by the Falls!

Inaugural

Cumberland Falls Storytelling Festival

April 11--13, 2014

at

Cumberland Falls State Park, Corbin, Kentucky

Celebrating Southern Appalachian Oral Tradition and Culture

Introducing the Cumberland Falls Storytelling Festival in conjunction with Cumberland Falls State Park's world-famous Moonbow! Featuring Stephen Hollen, Pam Holcomb, Buck P. Creacy, and Jack's Mama (Sharon Kirk Clifton)! Mark your calendars now to attend this inaugural event.

More information to come!

BIG NEWS! Stories by the Falls!

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Delicious Revision Delight

I love real citrus flavored goodies, so when I saw this bit of lusciousness on my Facebook wall, I knew it would be the perfect treat to nibble with a cup o' joe while I revise The Second Cellar. With zucchini in abundance right now and everyone scrambling for more ways to use it, I thought I should share the recipe. Enjoy!

P. S.: You don't have to be working on a novel (writing or reading), but it helps! :-)

Zucchini Orange Bread

Orange Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:
Makes 2 loaves (freezes beautifully sans glaze)

3 cups flour
2 cups zucchini
1 teaspoon salt, scant
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup applesauce, or egg substitute
1/3 cup vegetable oil
zest of one orange
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange juice
1/3 cup walnuts or raisins

Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoon orange juice
1/4 teaspoon zest
Preparation:
1. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease two loaf pans.

2. Wash and dry the zucchini. Using a box grater grate 2 cups worth and set aside.

3. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix well with a whisk and make a well in the center of the mixture.

4. Wash and zest the orange. I wash it with vinegar water.

5. In another cup mix the egg substitute (or applesauce), orange zest, juice, vanilla, oil and sugar until combined. Add to the flour mixture, folding gently until combined.

6. Fold in the zucchini (and walnuts or raisins if you are using them) and split the batter between the two greased loaf pans. I line the bottom with parchment paper. If I don't have parchment paper, I use copier paper, cut to size. It works, too!

7. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden and a tooth pick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.

8. Prepare the glaze: Mix the remaining orange juice and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a small bowl. Add the remaining zest and stir until smooth and combined.

8. Cool the bread for 10 minutes in the pans. Then, run the blade of knife around the loaf to gently separate it from the sides of the pan. Invert the loaves and the bread should slide out. Place on a wire rack with a large pan or plate below it to finish cooling.

9. While the bread is still hot spoon half of the glaze onto the top of each loaf. It will almost immediately drip down the sides of the loaf. Cool completely before serving. (Yeah, right. Like that's going to happen.)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Mystery of the Misplaced Modifier


One of my favorite writers' blogs is The Sentence Sleuth, where I notice that the writer Bonnie Trenga has written a book entitled The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier. While I would love to read the book, I'm not sure I dare. You see, misplaced modifiers have a peculiar effect on me, one that has caused me great embarrassment through the years.

In my college freshman English class, the professor distributed a sheet of examples. Naturally, I began perusing it before everyone had a copy, so I had a head start on the humor.

It all started with a smile that progressed to a quiet snort and on to a chorkle. By the time the professor had gotten through the third sentence<>

I flashed a furtive glance around the room, only to discover that I was the only one thus affected. Again, I made eye contact with the professor. She raised one eyebrow, and I lost all control. I rushed out of the room and down the hall to the nearest restroom. Once inside the security of that room with its stainless steel stalls and porcelain lavatories, I doubled over with laughter, likely frightening a student exiting a stall.

"Misplaced modifiers!" I tried to blurt. She gave me that same deer-caught-in-the-headlights look I'd received from my classmates and hurried toward the door. "You know!" I called after her. "Dangling participles..." She was gone. Without washing her hands.

Eventually, I regained some semblance of composure. Making my way back to the classroom, I stood outside the door, just out of sight, listening, testing my resolve. The professor peeked around the door at me.

"Are you okay?" she asked, broadening her smile. "You can come back in, if you like." I lost it, again, and returned to the sanctuary of the restroom.

When class was over, I hurried to the classroom to apologize profusely to the professor. "Are you an English major?" she said. I told her that I was. "I thought so. You had to be. Did you notice that you were the only one so affected?" I nodded. "They didn't get it. They didn't see what the sentences actually were saying."

If sentences with misplaced modifiers make you laugh, you can stop reading here, unless you're a glutton for punishment. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read on.

A misplaced modifier is a word, clause, or phrase that is separated from that which it modifies (or describes), making it seem to modify a word, clause, or phrase not intended. Here are a few examples:

On the way home, Karen found a gold man's watch. [Oh, really? I'd like to know where she found that gold man. Or could it be that she found a man's gold watch?]

The child ate a cold dish of cereal for breakfast. [Poor kid. He likely would have preferred a dish of cold cereal.]

We ate the lunch that we had brought slowly. [Does the writer mean that it took a long time for them to get their lunch to the place where they ate it? Or does she mean We ate slowly the lunch we had brought or Slowly, we ate the lunch that we had brought?]

After being fingerprinted, the officer put the prisoner in the cell. [So they're fingerprinting officers now, before putting the prisoner in a cell. Hmmm....]

Perhaps you now understand why my reading of The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier could prove fatal to me.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ten Steps to Writing Great Book Reviews

You read the book and loved it. Chances are you'll tell a friend about it, especially if she likes the same genre. You may go so far as to mention it to a few of your friends or post it on Facebook and Twitter. We authors thank you. But could we ask you to go another mile toward promoting worthy Christian fiction? Would you be willing to take some time to write a book review and post it on various book-centric sites such as Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Kobo.com, Goodreads.com, Sony, and other such sites? In most cases, you need only write one review, copy, and paste.

Below are ten steps to writing book reviews that will win you favor with customers of bookseller sites. I certainly appreciate a well-written book review. Don't you?

  1. Give the book a careful reading. Don't rush through it. If you know you'll likely write a review when you finish, take notes (including page numbers for quick reference) along the journey. Highlight quotations and stylistic snippets--colorful phrases, idioms, creative similes and metaphors, for example. Name the author and the book's name in the first paragraph, if possible.
  2. Determine your purpose in writing the review. While you don't have to explicitly state it, you need to keep it in mind as you write. Complete this sentence: I want the readers of this review to _____.
  3. Identify the author's overarching theme: Examples--
    • When one forgives the most egregious of wrongs, then the heart is free to heal.
    • Marriage and family are worth fighting for to preserve.
    • Prodigals can still return home and be restored and reconciled.
    • Those who commit evil deeds in the dark will be revealed in the light.
  4. Explain what drew you to the book. Had you read other works by the author? Is it a favorite genre? Did you hear about it on a social site, or did a friend recommend it?
  5. What does the author do especially well? (Note: always write about literature in the present tense.) Examples--
    •  Characterization--Who are the main characters? Does the writer develop realistic, believable, multidimensional characters? What are their goals? What gets in the way of their achieving those goals? How far were you into the book before you cared about the protagonist? Is s/he likable?
    • Story development--Were you captivated by the story by the end of the first page or the first chapter? What hooked you? Does the author employ an unusual plot structure? Is the pacing appropriate for the story?
    • Details of setting--Did you feel that you were in the place and time of the story?
    • Evidence of thorough knowledge and/or research on the part of the author--Does the author accurately portray the time period, circumstances, environment, etc.?
    • Writing style--Do you especially like the author's imagery, diction, artistic elements, or writing style? Be specific.
  6. If possible, incorporate some quotations that exemplify the points you've cited in Number 5 above.
  7. What weaknesses in style, structure, or content did you notice? Be gentle, remembering that what you perceive as a weakness others may consider a strength. Follow the Bible's directive to "tell the truth in love."
  8. Give your readers a taste of the plot, but DO NOT INCLUDE SPOILERS! Hint at the climax, but DO NOT GIVE AWAY THE ENDING!
  9. Tell a little about the author. What makes her life unique? List some of his other works and awards. Include some interesting tidbits, if you know them.
  10. Describe how the book affected you emotionally. Did it live up to your expectations of the genre? Do you want to read more by this author? To what audiences would you recommend this book? 
Note: If the book was provided to you by the publisher or the author, make that known. Be sure to read "The FTC's Regulating My Book Reviews!" by Kathryn Page Camp on Hoosier Ink blog, Thursday, 23 September 2010.

* * *

Recently, Rose McCauley wrote a review of a book by one of my favorite contemporary authors, Dan Walsh. She graciously granted me permission to use that review to illustrate a well-executed book review. Thank you, Rose!

Book Review of The Dance by Dan Walsh and Gary Smalley


I have read and enjoyed several of Gary Smalley's books, both fiction and non-fiction, and all of Dan Walsh's books with great admiration, so looked forward to reading The Dance. 1. I wasn't disappointed!  2. Although this was a review copy given by the publisher, that in no way affected my review. 3.
I love books like this that teach spiritual truths through story, similar to Jesus's parables. We start with a couple who seem to be very successful in life, but not in love/marriage/relationships. I've known guys like Jim Anderson  4. who have no clue how unhappy their wife is until it is too late. And even when she tries to explain, he doesn't understand what she is saying. They aren't speaking the same love language! 5. 6. 7.

Things look pretty dire for this couple until Jim meets a little old lady who used to run a dance studio. By following her dance lessons (something he has always refused to take!) he begins to learn the lessons of love he had forgotten and some he had never known. But it will still take a miracle to unharden his wife's heart after all the years of pain. As we know, God is a God of miracles! What better place for this miracle to begin to take place than at a wedding, where Christ's first miracle began His ministry on earth? 8.

Like all of Dan Walsh's books and the books Gary Smalley co-authored with Karen Kingsbury, while reading this story you will laugh awhile and cry awhile and come away better for it! 9. And the great thing is it's the first of a series of books (The Restoration Series) written by this team!10.


* * *

Notice that not everything I included in the ten steps is included in Rose's review, but she covered most of them, and very succinctly, at that.
  1. She named the co-authors and the book in the first paragraph.
  2. She gives us her opinion of the work.
  3. She slips in the fact that she read the publisher-supplied ARC.
  4. In this second paragraph, she names the main character.
  5. She reveals the main problem or conflict of the story.
  6. She hints at the solution.
  7. She tells what is getting in the way of solving the problem.
  8. She reveals just enough of the climax to tantalize us--well, me, anyway. :-)
  9. She gives more info about her emotions during the reading of The Dance.
  10. She announce the forthcoming series.

    Rose, you definitely whetted my appetite to read The Dance. Thanks, again!

    Now, gentle reader, it's your turn to write a sterling review about the book you just finished.

    Write on!
    Because of Christ,
    Sharon