Sunday, January 30, 2011

Update on Benny's Angel

I promised to keep my readers updated on progress in the production of Benny's Angel. The copy editing phase is drawing to a close and conceptual editing is scheduled to begin in February.

In advance of that, Tate Publishing recently sent me a questionnaire. Why did they send it?  This is my first experience in having a book published and what I am about to say is purely my assumption. I would think it is intended to help me assess my goals for the book and assist the editor in evaluating whether I am accomplishing those goals.

The questionnaire asked what reaction I would  like readers of the book to have. Although the book is for young children, my primary goal is to inspire them and point them towards a close relationship with God. At the same time, I want the story line and characters to entertain them, hold their interest, and leave them anxious to read the next book, on which I am currently working.

Tate Publishing also asked me to identify one strength and one weakness in my writing. This was more difficult because it is so subjective. I believe my writing has improved considerably in recent years, as it should have, with practice. For one thing, I am more skilled and persistent in self-editing. As to a weakness, I still have to work hard at showing instead of merely telling. A recent lesson in my Christian Writers Guild course pushed me way beyond my comfort zone, helping me to make progress in this area.

As I worked through the questionnaire, I explained the story line, identifying the protagonist and antagonist. I described the conflict in the story and how it is resolved by the protagonist. It would seem that the conceptual editor needs to "get into my head" and see whether I am achieving the vision I have for Benny's Angel. Identifying exactly what I am attempting to convey and what I intend the young readers to take away from my book intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually will help ensure that the story has no gaps and that it flows smoothly towards its conclusion.

Fulfilling my original vision is extremely important to me, because I believe the seed for this book was planted in my imagination by my heavenly Father, as I sat in my secret garden last summer. He has been with me this far and I am confident He will continue to give me His grace as I move closer to the actual printing of Benny's Angel.

                                                                                                                                        ~ Laura

Monday, January 24, 2011

Don't Let Satan Entertain You in His Parlor of Offense

The Lord gave me an "illustrated sermon" last night. We attended a concert at church by a well-known gospel performer. I was moved deeply by his music and insightful ministry, especially in the area of relating to our family members in spirit and in truth.

After the concert, I hurried back to purchase his newest CD, which contained most of the music he had sung. Then I got in line to have him sign it. I was standing behind my neighbor, who was concerned that I not get left behind in the crowd, so I hooked my finger around her purse strap, like a little kid hanging on to mom. Before I knew it, the crowd had pressed in and somehow we got separated. A large man elbowed his way in front of me, holding his CD high in the air and causing me to fall back in the line. I felt some irritation and stood my ground where I was while he posed for a picture. Finally, I was at the front of the line, when a woman in back of me brazenly waved a photograph over my shoulder to be signed. I could hardly believe it!

All this time, the singer looked past me, interacting with people behind me, seemingly oblivious to me standing right in front of him. What was I, chopped liver? Maybe it was because I am what people refer to as "tiny" in stature and he is extremely tall, so I was out of his line of vision. Whatever the reason, eventually I was able to grab his attention with a few well-directed and heartfelt words of appreciation. With a flourish, he penned the word "blessings," followed by Mark 10:25 and his signature, across my CD.

As I rode home, thoughts of offense against those who had elbowed in front of me crept into my mind. How could Christian people so quickly degenerate to rock star groupies? Little by little, Satan lured me into his parlor of offense and a cloud of unrest enveloped my spirit. It was as if the book by C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, was coming alive as Satan assaulted me with resentful thoughts and feelings. I was ashamed of myself and knew I must break the hold he was getting on my emotions. Then it occurred to me that the incident could have been a test to show what kind of a Christian I truly was. How would I handle this?

Once home, I popped in the CD from the concert and listened to the title song, Breathe Deep. That was what I needed, to breathe deep of the Holy Spirit, think his thoughts, and flush out the toxic messages flooding my mind. The scripture in Hebrews 12:15 came to mind, "...lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble..."  Also, James 4:7, "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."  I lay in bed, allowing the Word of God to shine it's light in my heart and mind and eventually got up and wrote this message. I pray that the Lord will use this illustrated sermon to alert you to the danger of letting Satan entertain you in his parlor of offense.
                                                                                                             ~ Laura

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Journey to Publication Continues

Copy editing of my children's book, Benny's Angel, is nearing completion. During this phase, a Tate Publishing editor examines the manuscript to discover any spelling or grammatical errors. I went over the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb before submitting it and gave it to seven other individuals to read, including four members of Louisville Christian Writers, so I feel pretty confident it will pass muster in this respect. Once this is complete, Benny's Angel will move on to conceptual editing, on which I will share more very soon.

While the manuscript has been undergoing its first phase of scrutiny by Tate, I continue to spread the word about my blog. One way I've accomplished this is by getting on Facebook and Twitter, and by adding their links and the link to Digging in God's Garden below my e-mail signature. In addition, I printed flyers on some lovely paper bordered with butterflies and flowers ( in which I inform readers of the upcoming book and invite them to investigate my blog. All this was in response to encouragement by Tate Publishing to begin to establish a platform for promoting Benny's Angel.

That platform is in the baby stages and, with God's help, will grow. Since I started this blog on December 9, 2010, not quite two months ago, I have had a total of 241 visits from nine countries, including Russia, United Kingdom, Croatia, India, Hong Kong, Germany, Bermuda, Canada, and United States. It's thrilling to think that my little blog is drawing viewers from across the ocean. Because of the internet, the world has become much smaller and my own world has been enlarged.
                                                                                                                 ~ Laura

Thursday, January 13, 2011


       Not so in haste, my heart!
      Have faith in God and wait;
      Although He seems to linger long
      He never comes too late.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Fragrant Remembrance

It was a cold day in December. I shivered as I came up the walk, eagerly anticipating the warmth of a hot cup of tea. A package was waiting for me on the doorstep and I quickly scooped it up and let myself in.

I removed my coat and put on the kettle, wondering if this might be an early Christmas gift. I carefully opened the box, allowing a delicious, sweet aroma to escape into the air. Nestled in the tissue paper was a scented candle shaped like a small cake. A letter was enclosed. Congratulations! You are the winner of a fine Country Cottage Candle. Thank you for visiting our booth at the Glendale Crossing Festival. Immediately, my thoughts traveled back to an unforgettable Saturday that previous October.

My husband, Bob, and I had left early that Saturday on our annual excursion to the Glendale Crossing Festival in that small town south of Louisville, Kentucky. We parked at the top of Main Street and took a hurried shortcut through some neighborhood yards, impatient to begin our “treasure hunt”.

The crisp air was invigorating and a pageant of fall color spread out around us. The view from the top of the hill was like a Grandma Moses painting, with hundreds of colorful booths dotting the streets and spilling into adjoining fields and parking lots. On our way down the hill, we stopped at a booth that featured country craft items. There was a raffle for a candle called “Grandma’s Shortcake” that smelled heavenly. I seldom win anything, but it was free to enter, so I dropped my name and address in the box and we moved on.

Gift ideas abounded as we marveled at the variety of crafts and gadgets for sale. Did we know anyone who might like a faucet that seemingly poured water from mid-air into a big barrel? Who would appreciate that unusual garden creature fashioned from salvaged parts? Even though a steady drizzle had begun, it could not dampen our enthusiasm. We were determined to make the most of our special day together.

After selling our business of 18 years, Bob and I had made a commitment to take time to “stop and smell the roses.” It was even more important after our dreaded nemesis, cancer, renewed its attack on Bob. From previous experience, we knew the power of God to heal and our faith and trust were steady. At the same time, we realized that the passing moments of that October day contained gifts for us to treasure, such as…
sitting side by side on a bale of hay, while eating chili and cornbread…

savoring the tantalizing aroma of fried apple pies...

purchasing an antique picture frame that Bob had noticed me admiring…

feeling like kids again…

the gentleness and goodness of the day.

The whistle of the kettle jolted me from my reverie. I turned off the stove and lit the candle. Gazing at its hypnotic flicker, I mused about the way our lives are as tenuous as that flame. Bob was admitted to the hospital two days after the Glendale Crossing Festival. He went to heaven a short while after that. How grateful I am that we decided to treasure the present moments and how like my Father to send me a fragrant remembrance of that special October day.
                                                                                  ~  Laura Allen Nonemaker

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

How Benny's Angel Came to Be

There I was in what I call my "secret garden." It was a lovely summer day in June of 2010. As I sat on the wrought iron loveseat meditating and praying, I watched butterflies feast on nectar and listened to the birds sing.

Suddenly, a small rabbit darted past me. I had seen him before in the garden, or maybe his brother. It always gives me a warm feeling and I am at one with nature when I see God's creatures enjoying my garden. I thought about my granddaughter Rachel's pet rabbit, Benny. She has had him since she was quite small and she has loved him dearly.  Rachel is almost 14 now, and still loves and cares for Benny, but like any teenager, her world has expanded and Benny's place is on the periphery now.

Well, as I was saying, this perky little rabbit ran past me, and I thought of Benny. Then it began. A little scenario started forming in my thoughts, the kind of story line that would interest a young child. Somehow, I sensed it had come to me for a reason and I must not lose the thought. So I hurried inside to my computer and began to type. Benny's Angel took form and came alive.

In the week or so following, I edited, refined and proofed. Then I e-mailed my story to several friends in Louisville Christian Writers, of which I am a founding member, for critique. I was encouraged to seek a publisher and here I am entering the first month of production for Benny's Angel with Tate Publishing. Also, I am pleased to share that a sequel is nearing completion, the result of another incident in the secret garden.

I have no doubt, the way events occurred, that God's hand is in this project and I feel privileged and blessed to be the instrument he chose to convey a precious lesson from the Bible to  his little ones. May his name be glorified through Benny's Angel, the first in the God's Secret Garden Adventure Series.

                                                                                                                 ~ Laura

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Caring for Your Poinsettia

Many of us received poinsettias at Christmas and would like to keep them thriving so we can watch them bloom again next Christmas season. In The New Fred Wiche Lawn & Garden Almanac, my favorite gardening expert, sadly now deceased, gives some pointers.

Place the poinsettia in a sunny, cool location and water when the soil dries out. It should bloom at least until February. Around mid-March prune the stems from 3 to 6 inches to remove the colored bracts and fertilize. When the weather is warm, move outdoors. Late next September begin to alternate 9 hours of bright light and 15 hours of complete darkness to induce blooming. Continue this until early October. You can place a paper bag over the plant or you can place the plant in a closet. Either way, it must be in total darkness. Even a slight amount of light during the 15 hours can prevent success. Conversely, it must have the bright light for 9 hours.

It usually takes 8 to 10 weeks for the bracts to show red. Then place the poinsettia in a cool place with indirect light and it should bloom again for many weeks.

                                                                                                                     ~ Laura