Friday, May 14, 2010

Almost Forever by Deborah Raney

ALMOST FOREVER (newest novel by author Deborah Raney)
A Hanover Falls Novel from Howard/Simon &Schuster

Unearthing a lost memory may cause her to lose everything she holds dear. but could it also set her free?

Volunteer Bryn Hennesey was there at the Grove Street Homeless Shelter the night five heroic firefighters died at the scene. Among them was her husband, Adam.

Now a terrifying absence of memory has her wondering if she might, in some way, be responsible. Garrett Edmonds' wife, Molly, was the only female firefighter to perish in the blaze. He was supposed to protect the woman he she's the one who's died a hero. How can he go on in the face of such unbearable loss? And what started the fire that destroyed the dreams and futures of so many? Investigators are stumped. But someone knows the answer...

Deborah Raney books always captivate me! Almost Forever is a beautifully written and enthralling read. It made my heart sing, dance, cry, and turn more than a few flips!
~CindyWoodsmallNew York Times best-selling author

As a fan of the very talented Deborah Raney, I expected a great read and I got it in the richly emotional Almost Forever, a story of faith, forgiveness and redemption.  It began with a gripping scene and proceeded to hold me enthralled to the end.  Don't miss this one!
~Karen Young, author of Missing Max and Blood Bayou

DEBORAH RANEY is at work on her 20th novel. Her books have won the RITA Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and have twice been Christy Award finalists. Her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Almost Forever, first in her new Hanover Falls Novels series, will release in May from Howard/Simon & Schuster. Deb and her husband, Ken Raney, enjoy small-town life in Kansas. They are new empty nesters with four grown children and two precious grandsons, all of whom live much too far away.

Visit Deb on the web at
Order her books here:

I love Deb Raney and her books. She's a first class, truly nice person who happens to write novels I love to read. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ancora Imparo. Are you?

Here's young Crystal analyzing even back then....

Supposedly Michaelangelo, when he was 87, said, "Ancora Imparo" which means "I am still learning." Whether he said this or not, his works left behind show us that he, indeed, was able to create new things, learning as he went, even up until the end. It is an inspiring story and a nice phrase to adopt no matter how old we are. I certainly needed that phrase and encouragement this week.

My husband often says that he has the mind of the beginner. I would like to think that I have the mind of a beginner, but boy, howdy, it is awful frustrating sometimes to start all over again. Mostly, in our culture, we see this as something to be frowned upon or to be "stupid." To go back to the drawing board when we've worked so hard on something can be devastating. But I like seeing new things and I do like hearing about something new and interesting. I have learned new things with each thing I write, so hopefully, I am always learning with joy. (Not always. Sometimes I grimace in the process.)

When someone points me to a new link or tells of a new way to do something, or I discover a new book that keeps me up all night to read "one more page," these are things I receive with glee. I am not always good at having this attitude of having the mind of a beginner for every aspect, but I try.  If you can live one more day, finding something new to attempt, or something to learn, it is worth it.

I don't know your circumstances or if you struggle  with thoughts of being worthless. (I sometimes do.) Since having read these words of Michaelangelo, again, I have thought that to see the world with the "mind of a beginner" may be just the thing to grasp and hold on to--to humbly learn and accept the new information. To not see "starting over" as some sort of awful disaster. God may have a better plan.

I think of what Albert Einstein said, "If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn't be called Research." And we all know that scientists,explorers, and artists, writers and the great composers--all of them didn't always know what they were doing, but they sought to continue and explore, to keep on, keeping on.

I especially want you to keep this in mind when you get a rejection or get those rewrites or if you're getting your Genesis entry back. Don't get discouraged. (Or give yourself a day or two with ice cream to get your second wind. Phew.) Strap on that helmet and get ready for the next step in your life long journey. And don't forget to reach out to your writing buddies along the way.

(I'm reaching out today as I needed this pep talk. Feel free to encourage! :) )

~Crystal Laine Miller

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Your Momma Loves You

I made this for my mother when I was in elementary school. We used these paint-filled tubes with roller balls on the end. I was just learning to do cursive and wrote my signature in that way. She framed it and hung it on the wall for years. When she died, I found it in a keepsake box. She had all kinds of things from me in that box--cards I'd made, poems I'd written for her, photos, newspaper clippings, my hospital bracelet from when I was born. I never once doubted that she loved me. I never once thought "is she proud of me?" because I was surrounded by her admiration and encouragement and concern every moment that she lived.

Because I was separated from her until I was 4, I grew to realize early what a great gift God gave me in allowing me to be raised by her. Sometimes I would lie in bed at night after she'd heard my prayers and said goodnight, and  I'd beg God to keep her safe and alive because I desperately wanted her to always be there for me. (I think she begged God to keep me and my brother alive, too.)

Even though she's now been gone for 13 years in April, it still sometimes strikes me odd that I can't pick up the phone and tell her about my day, what is happening here, about the unusual wildlife in my woods, like the night we heard the "woman scream like she was being murdered!" I would've liked to discuss with her what it could have been. Bobcat?? Owl? Cougar?? What was that?? I'd like to share with her a really good book that I know she would enjoy. I miss her prayers for me. There are times I think, "there's no one praying for me!" and I panic.It happens in the middle of the night when I know I've been forgotten by the entire world, except if she had been alive, she wouldn't have forgotten me.

The greatest joy for my mother was BEING a MOTHER. So when we said "happy mother's day!" to her, it already was, as was every single day from the time I was born.

Not every person had the joy of having a mother like mine.How would it be to have a mother who hated being a mother? Who not only treated you badly, but did things to make your life miserable and leave horrible messes for your life? Who hated the day you were born? Or worse, didn't care what happened to you?

If your mom wasn't someone who loved you, right now, pretend my mother was your mother. Pretend that she wrapped your day in prayers and tucked you in at night with kisses and stories. Someday when you go to heaven and you're looking around for people to greet you, I guarantee you that my mother will hold you and hug you, so very grateful you were born. If you're reading this and you didn't have a mother who was good to you, I'm praying for you today. I'm praying that you feel that security of knowing someone is praying for you.

And if you had a mother who loved you, thank God for her life because He Who loves you most put you in such a privileged place. I thank God every day for my mother because when I became a mother, I understood her in a way that comes from suddenly standing in her shoes. I got a glimpse of what it must be like for God to love us, too. He gave Jesus to a mother, because He knew, too, just what it was like.

If you're reading this, I am praying for you and thankful you were born.