Wednesday, October 15, 2014

{Reading} The Covered Deep by Brandy Vallance

It was five years ago that I met Brandy Vallance at a writer's conference. I was immediately struck by her passion for writing and her love for all things Victorian. We struck up a friendship during the conference as we each shared our faith and our dreams to be published authors. It has been a delight to follow her literary journey on social media. 

This past Saturday, I literally squealed with delight when I saw that Brandy's first book, The Covered Deep, had arrived at my house. I started reading it Sunday morning before church, and I couldn't stop reading until I finished it late Sunday night. (I'm a fast reader-- and seriously can't put down a good book.)

I love reading historical fiction. I will admit that I like romances, but I always hate the fact that so many romantic fictional books result in: girl and boy fall in love, now her world is complete. That "you complete me" theme often leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

The Covered Deep, however, despite the fact that the premise is about a romantic girl longing to find the man of her dreams, goes deeper, and Brandy Vallance writes about the ultimate truth:

“True love wasn’t a feeling. And it wasn’t some unending fairy tale where a man fulfilled your every desire. No man was the perfect romantic hero. No man could fulfill the aching, deep need within a woman’s heart. That intimacy was for God. And God alone. True love was about letting go. A daily choice. Knowing the worst above a person and sacrificing for them anyway. Choosing to love.” -- Brandy Vallance

The history of this book had me entranced. I longed to wander the halls of the British Museum and explore Jerusalem with the characters of this book. If you are an Anglophile like me, or simply a lover of history, or in search of a wonderful read, I wholeheartedly recommend The Covered Deep by Brandy Vallance.

Winner of 2013 Operation First Novel Contest
Winner of the 2012 ACFW Genesis Contest for historical romance
Bianca Marshal is an incurably romantic bookworm from Appalachia who’s holding out for the perfect husband. She doesn’t want much, just that he be (1) a true believer in Jesus Christ (2) devastatingly handsome with a slightly wild look in his eyes (3) brilliant and humorous like Mark Twain (4) a foreigner, possibly a disgruntled duke (5) able to quote Bible verses AND Shakespeare (6) a more than capable kisser, and (7) adore her completely.
Finding a man that meets the requirements of “the list” in the foothills of the Appalachians has proven impossible. Bianca’s mama insists that there’s no such thing as a perfect true love, and that Bianca’s ideal man is pure fiction. On the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, Bianca discovers a devastating statistic. Her chance of marrying is now only eighteen percent. But the “S” word—spinsterhood—is not something she’s willing to accept. She’s going to prove the statistics and her mama wrong. Bianca wins an essay contest that propels her into a whirlwind search for the perfect romantic hero. Via the opulence of London and the mysteries of the Holy Land, Bianca’s true love will be revealed, but not without a price that might be too heavy to pay. 
The Covered Deep can be bought at your favorite bookstore. Happy Reading!

A New Season Has Come

Fall has always been a favorite time of year for me. Despite the fact that flowers aren't blooming anymore in the mountains and everything seems to be turning more and more brown, I feel like fall represents a time of renewal for me.

Perhaps this is because fall is the start of the school year. A total bookworm and Hermione Granger wanna-be, this means that fall is full of excitement as I can buy new school supplies, books, and bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils.

Fall is also the time in my life where I have felt the most spiritual renewal. I feel the most effective with my life and at the same time also feel the most creative in the fall.

This fall, I have been contemplating a new season for me and my blog. I recognize that its been almost six months since my last blog post. During that time I have transitioned from recent law graduate and fresh bar exam passer (thank you, Jesus!) to a legitimate lawyer, with a real honest to goodness job as a lawyer.

(Feel free to insert lawyer joke here).

I've contemplated what this transition from law student to lawyer would be. Does that mean no more blog for me? Do I have time to maintain a blog? Does anyone care?

I realized that I have poured so much of me into this blog that I don't feel like I can let it go. I've written over 500 posts on this blog, and have dozens of wonderful readers (I think-- they tend to lurk and not comment) who have stuck with me even when I don't post that often.

So here's my new season. I'll keep blogging. I'll keep writing about my passions: quilting, reading, ranching and agriculture, and occasionally about law school. I will probably post too many pictures of the Baby Buckaroo who is ridiculously photogenic.

And I hope you'll keep reading.

And if you're a lurker, leave me a comment or follow me. I'd love for this website to be more interactive. :) Thank you all for sticking with me. 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

D.O.N.E. (i.e. no more hiding)

Well, I passed the bar exam (hallelujah!) and I was just sworn in. So now I can legitimately practice law-- if I had a real "legal" job.

I'm still searching, but am staying optimistic and faithful about it.

But now, I'm returning to the real world. I'm slowing getting reconnected with friends, spending more and more time with my family and church family, and putting in a vegetable garden between torrential rain storms.

I've started quilting more.

And I started writing again. My book has been seductively calling my name for months, and I finally feel able to start working on it again.

Life is good.

My son is also learning the rules of hide and seek. He's the little guy "hiding" at the top of this picture. How sweet life is when you can hide by simply squatting down and covering your eyes.

(see full image)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Your Brain on [Quilting]

If you are currently in grad school or law school, consider this. Perhaps you need to start quilting in order to be a better student. Several days ago, I found this lovely article. It seems that so many of my friends everywhere were sharing it on social media. CNN Health's article by Jacque Wilson, "This is your Brain on Knitting" discussed the wonderful benefits of knitting and other crafting. Nothing I read in the article surprised me, but it was nice to have legitimate proof of the benefits I feel I gain by quilting.

In the article, Wilson writes:
"Crafting can help those who suffer from anxiety, depression or chronic pain, experts say. It may also ease stress, increase happiness and protect the rain from damage caused by aging."
I know this to be true. My husband often teased me because I would go into my office/sewing room and quilt after a long week of school. During reading days, and the stress of finals I would split my time between quilting and studying. The only way I stayed awake through my Barbri Constitutional Law lectures was by cutting and ironing fabric and sewing simple squares. (Another plus to taking an online bar review course.) Quilting eased my stress. I felt better about everything even if I got a few minutes of piecing fabric together.

A few years ago, as I was reading Proverbs 31, I was struck by the fact that the writer of the Proverb says:

She makes coverings for her bed; She is clothed in fine linen and purple.Proverbs 31: 22

I felt that the Bible gave me a quilting endorsement, that my quilting was something imitating the Proverbs 31, who was set up as an example to follow. While I suggested, tongue in cheek, that perhaps buying fabric to quilt could be considered an act of worship, and therefore, perhaps a tithe, I wondered if a lightning bolt from heaven would come and strike me down. It didn't, so I think God has a sense of humor about that anyway, and knew I wasn't serious.

Yet here is another quilting endorsement, this time not spiritual, but as a boon to mental health. Perhaps doctors and psychiatrists might start writing prescriptions for quilting classes?  

The article continues:
"There's promising evidence coming out to support what a lot of crafters have known anecdotally for quite some time," says Catherine Carey Levisay, a clinical neuropsychologist and wife of CEO John Levisay. "And that's creating-- whether it be through art, music, cooking, quilting, sewing, drawing, photography (or cake decorating -- is beneficial to us in a number of important ways."
"Crafting also improves our self-efficacy, Levisay says, or how we feel about performing particular tasks. Psychologists believe a strong sense of self-efficacy is key to how we approach new challenges and overcome disappointments in life. So realizing you can, in fact, crochet a sweater for your nephew can help you tackle the next big paper your teacher assigns." 
So, take this to heart. Maybe law school isn't the best time to learn a new craft. Perhaps my hours quilting would have been better spent studying casebooks and memorizing law. However, my argument is now: I survived law school by quilting, what would have happened to me if I hadn't?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Snowy April Morning

We woke up to snow this morning. 6-8 inches of snowy, slushy wetness. The boy and I were not impressed.

I'm longing for the days to be warmer, the ground to soften, and grass to actually start growing! I yearn to see my climbing roses shower the front of my house with pink blossoms. I'm itching to see if the seemingly hundreds of asparagus plants I started last spring survived the winter. I long to till my garden and start planting. I'm even longing to mow the lawn and weed my flower beds.

For the first time, in such a long, long time, I get to garden and not worry about the fact that I should be in my office doing law school homework. I am thrilled, and I can't wait to start.

Now, if only the weather would start cooperating with me.

(see full image)


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