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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy 4th of July Week

I love the USA! I was blessed to be born here. I am ashamed to admit that I have not studied the lives of the founding fathers and I have not read the entire Constitution of the United States ........yet. It has been awhile since I have read the Bill of Rights.

My goal is to read both this week. It is high time. I want to challenge my readers to read these documents before July 4, 2011. That gives you a year.

I also want to read about the founding fathers and each of the presidents and their impact on my life today. That is a tall order for me. I think it is something I can do for more understanding of the blessing of being a Citizen of the United States.

Today, I want to intoduce you to authors, Lillian Laird Duff and Linda Duff Niemeir. Their book is on my reading list. I love this era!
1. What is your name and the title of your book(s)?
My name is Linda Duff Niemeir and I am co-author of Sharecropping in North Louisiana: A Family's Struggle Through the Great Depression. Mama and I wrote the book together because it is her story and she knows all the details.
2. What is one thing you think your readers would like to know about you?
There are a couple things: One, I am the wife of a retired military man whom I folllowed around the world as Uncle Sam assigned him to various Airforce bases, some of which included Europe. Because I love traveling, and because I have always been fascinated to learn how "other people" live, those experiences living in Kansas, Germany, Montana, Italy and England have enriched my life in more ways than I can tell you! Second, readers may like to know that I attended business school after high school which gave me the tools to also have a career as a typist, a "secretary," an "administrative assistant," and various other titles for over two dozen different jobs - all of which I had to seek out as we moved to a different town or continent. That in itself was a challenge, but I managed to work for 40 years and supplement our income enough to finally pay for a home in Arkansas so that I might retire at age 59 and my husband retire at age 62. My goal had been to help my husband (and add to our income) enough that neither of us had to work so long that our health would be too poor to travel in our RV to see more of America and further enrich our lives. I saw so many people get themselves in debt during their "life careers" as they purchased all their "wants" and then they had to work so long to pay off those debts that they were not able to enjoy retirement (or possibly die before retirement) and that was not acceptable to me.
3. When did you know that you wanted to become a writer?
I am not sure yet that I am a writer, and you might ask why? As we traveled the globe with USAF, I was so eager to share those wonderful and sometimes humorous experiences, I wrote short stories and submitted some for publication but each was denied. In each case, I was somewhat surprised and demoralized because I thought the stories were interesting and that other people would enjoy them. Anyway, the other desire I had for many years was to record for posterity the stories my mother had told me as I grew up of her life growing up on cotton farms during the 20s, 30s and 40s. Life was very hard for her and her parents and her sisters as they eeked out a living as sharecroppers moving from one farm to another as my Grandfather sought better land, or better conditions for the family - nearer to a school or church or town. The stories she told made me realize how fortunate I was to have all the blessings I enjoyed daily, and how hard my grandparents, parents and other family members worked to get to the point in their lives where they too had enjoyed many of life's blessings. I realized that many people take for granted the modern conveniences we have and do not appreciate those blessings that God has bestowed on us. Now we were not rich by any means, not rich in what many people would say rich is, money in the bank or fine clothes on our backs or fancy cars in the driveway! But we were (and still are) rich in that we had everything we needed, and sometimes more than we needed, and we had love from our family members and from our God who made each of us in His own image, giving us gifts and a heart and mind with which we can and should serve Him. Mama used those stories she told about her early life and how hard her parents worked to teach me strong work ethics and frugal ways that would help me be more like what God intends for me. Her mother had taught her those work ethics. Sorry, I got off track there, so I need to explain that the other reason I wanted to retire early was that I might still have enough wits about me to write down mama's story so I could share it with family and friends. It did not originally start off as a book to be published, but God had a plan.

4. What are your strong points in your writing style or methods?
My strong points are that I write like I talk, just as I might talk to a friend or neighbor over a cup of coffee. I do not use "big college words" that some people might not understand, mainly because I did not go to college and I wanted people of all ages and backgrounds to be able to read the book and hear the stories as mama told them to me. We wrote the book in the first person so the reader can picture my mama sitting down somewhere comfortable telling me those stories as a child, or picture us working on a chore that might remind her of how that chore was done in the old days.
5. Are you a reader?
Yes, I read the Bible and especially enjoy the chronilogical edition so I can keep the history straight in my head. As a lover of math, and bookeeping (which I did not get to use much after school), my logical mind just wants to know a story, whether fiction or non-fiction, in chronilogical order. It just makes more sense to me. I enjoy a variety of reading materials such as period novels, biographies, magazines about gardening, home decorating and traveling.

6. What are you reading right now? Right now I am reading Winds of the Day by Howard Spring, a period novel set in old England prior to and after WWI. Being in the middle of the book, I do not know where it will end, timewise. I can picture in my mind some of the scenes described and places in England spoken of because I lived there myself four years.
7. Do you have another book that you are working on and hasn't been submitted for publication?Tell about it.
No, but I have always wanted to write a book about some of the places where I lived, especially in Europe and tell some of the ways we Americans had to change our daily lives to fit into our environment. My husband and I took a long vacation last summer to Alaska and back to Arkansas, driving over 12,000 miles in 70 days on the road (with two grandchildren) seeing places we had not seen before and meeting lovely people, each one having a story if we took time to get to know them. I thought I might write a book about those people, but as I made notes on our travel blog that I set up for family and friends, I found that I did not have time each day to write down enough information about those places, and interesting persons we came upon. So I decided to just sit back and enjoy the ride and smell the roses. Perhaps some day I will write another book.
8. What are your biggest obstacles to writing and how do you overcome them?
One obstacle I had was just getting started, so the best way I found to overcome that was to set a date or time and made myself do it. I had to be consistent in those times (daily as I wrote with my mother who lived next door at the time) and not let anything distract me if possible. I know that is easier for a retired person as myself who does not have kids still at home to deal with or household chores that keep calling to a busy mom who also works outside the home! The biggest obstacle for me was finding out how to get the book published after hearing so many friends and relatives say "You need to get it published." I had no idea how to do that. I thought maybe I'd have to print it dozens of times, mail it off to publishing houses and wait forever to hear from them that "it did not fit their needs" - well that was what sometimes happened to John Boy Walton (as I watched the reruns on TV, which thoroughly delited me - the show, not his stories being turned down). And when a friend told me to just google publishers, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the thousands listed. So, I bowed my head and prayed and told God that if the book was to be published, He would have to help me find a publisher. When I opened my eyes there was a publisher listed out of alphabetical order (for some strange reason?) on the pages of As - Tate Publishing and Enterprises! So when I clicked on the name and read about the Christian family working together to "publish the word" I knew I would start there and the rest is history. No pun intended. I told God that I would give a tithe to my husband's ministry, Christian Motorcycle Association, in which we have been involved since 1995. God has blessed me and mama in sales and the joy of meeting so many other people who were either sharecroppers or children or grandchildren of sharecroppers has been wonderful and unexpected. Our own family doctor who read the book told us he had been the son of a sharecropping family from Arkansas.
9. Please put a description of each of your books here.
A family's history lives and dies according to the dedication of its storyteller. Author Lillian Laird Duff is one such historian, and with the encouragement and help of her daughter Linda Duff Niemeir, the stories of this sharecropper's daughter will spark in readers the desire to keep their own family histories alive. Sharecropping in North Louisiana is the true story of the hardship Lillian's family faced during the Great Depressin and World War II. The word pictures Lillian paints are vivid and will bring to life for readers a time when people were forced to get by with what they had. It will also leave readers hungry for a home-cooked meal, as Lillian recalls food preparation on the farm with such richness and delight that you can almost smell the smoked pork and taste the homemade ice cream and butter. Join Linda in listening to her mother's stories once more.
10. How can readers contact you or purchase your books? Please put your website or blog here.
Our book can be purchased through Tate Publishing and Enterprises website, other major websites on line such as Borders, Books A Million,, etc. It is also in audio form which makes fun listening. I have a website at as well as a travel blog which I used to document book events beginning in the fall of 2008. Recent blog posts are vacation fun, etc.

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Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

100 Ways to Simplify Your Life

Publisher: FaithWords; Lrg edition (November 12, 2008)


JOYCE MEYER is one of the world's leading practical Bible teachers. A #1 New York Times bestselling author, she has written more than seventy inspirational books, including The Confident Woman, Look Great, Feel Great, and the entire Battlefield of the Mindfamily of books. She has also released thousands of audio teachings as well as a complete video library. Joyce's Enjoying Everyday Life® radio and television programs are broadcast around the world, and she travels extensively conducting conferences. Joyce and her husband, Dave, are the parents of four grown children and make their home in St. Louis, Missouri.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $16.99

Paperback: 240 pages

Publisher: FaithWords; Lrg edition (November 12, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0446509396

ISBN-13: 978-0446509398



Everyone has them: those days where nothing seems to get done, except maybe what you’ve added to your already lengthy to-do list. Are you tired most of the time? Are you spent? Do you find yourself wish- ing for a better day—a simpler day? Too many things compete for your limited resources of attention, energy, and time. You may be suffocat- ing and not even know it. If you feel like this, you’re not alone.

Most people today live complicated lives that leave them frustrated and confused, weary and worn out. But I have good news: your life does not have to be that way. You can choose a life of simplicity, fruitfulness, fulfillment, peace, and joy. I want to warn you, however, unless you are determined not to, you will do what everyone else does. You will get sucked up in the system and spend your life wishing things were different, never realizing you are, in fact, the only one who can change things. Unless we are resolute and remain undaunted in our quest for simplicity, we are destined for complication and frustration.

I recall a time when I was complaining to God about my schedule being absolutely insane. How could anyone be expected to do all I had in front of me? Then the realization hit me that I was the one who made my schedule and nobody could change it but me. You can spend your lives wishing things were different, but wishing won’t change anything. Smart decision making and decisive action is what changes things. If you picked up this book looking for change, are you willing to make a decision and follow it up with action?

I wasted many years hoping life would change and things would calm down until I finally realized life itself doesn’t change; in fact, it has the potential to get worse. I understood my only real option was to change my approach to life. I had to say no to another day of rushing around and feeling frustrated. I didn’t want the doctor giving me another pre- scription to mask another symptom of the real problem—stress.

In my search for simplicity, I have come to believe life can never be simple unless I learn to approach all things simply. It is my attitude toward each event in life that determines how easy or complex each situation will be. Perhaps life is complicated because people are compli- cated. Is it possible that life is not complicated, but rather, individuals complicate life in the way they approach it?

I discovered it wasn’t really life or circumstances or other people as much as it was me that needed to change. My problem wasn’t the problem—I was the problem! When you spend your life in frustration trying to change the world and everyone in it, you fail to realize it could be you just need to change your approach to life. It can be very easy for someone to live an entire lifetime and never entertain the notion that the way they do things is the real problem.

Have you ever attempted to have friends over for what you initially intended to be a simple afternoon of food, fellowship, and fun, but somehow, it turned into a complicated nightmare? I remember those days vividly. I’d be at church on Sunday and, without much forethought, invite three couples over for the following Sunday to a barbecue. My initial thought was hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, baked beans, potato chips, and iced tea. My motive was fellowship and fun, but by the time the guests arrived, I didn’t even want them there. Fun was not going to happen, at least not for me. Why? I turned my simple get- together into a nightmare of preparation, expensive food, and fourteen people instead of the original six. My complicated approach to life and my complicated thought process convinced me hot dogs and hamburg- ers weren’t nice enough so I bought steaks we could not afford. My potato chips turned into a huge bowl of homemade potato salad. The simple baked beans became four side dishes I labored over.

Insecure and wanting to impress everyone, I had to spend the week cleaning and getting everything in the house to the point where I thought it would be impressive. Of course, the lawn chairs were old, so I bought new ones. I got angry at Dave because I thought he wasn’t help- ing me enough, and by the time our friends arrived, I resented them, wished they hadn’t come, and had a miserable day of pretending to be the happy hostess when in reality I was frustrated and miserable.

I could not figure out why I wasn’t able to enjoy much of anything in life until God revealed to me I was killing my joy with complication. For years, I prayed God would change the people and circumstances around me when, in reality, He wanted to change me and my approach to life. He wanted me to simplify so, ultimately, He could be glorified.

Let me share with you 100 ways to approach living that can simplify your life and, in turn, release and increase your joy. I believe they will dramatically improve the quality of your everyday experience if you incorporate them into the way you do things. Jesus said He came so we might have and enjoy our life in abundance (see John 10:10). His prin- ciples are simple. Faith is simple! Trusting God is simple! A childlike approach to Him is simple! The plan of salvation is simple!

Jesus offers us a “new way of living,” and I believe it is a simple, yet powerful way that enables us to enjoy everyday life. Are you ready to simplify your life? Are you ready to say good-bye to the complexities you’ve allowed to take over? Let’s get started.

Do One Thing at a Time

The feeling of being hurried is not usually the result of living a full life and having no time. It is, on the contrary, born of a vague fear that we are wasting our life. When we do not do the one thing we ought to do, we have no time for anything elseówe are the busiest people in the world.


Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection].

—Hebrews 12:2

When we do things without truly focusing our minds on them, we immediately decrease our strength to do the work before us and do it well. By putting our hands to one thing and our mind to another, we divide the muscle behind our abilities and we make the task much more difficult. It’s like removing an egg yolk from the egg white—both can be used separately but the result isn’t as effective (or tasty) as it would be if we leave the egg whole. However, by directing all of our faculties to the one thing we are doing on a particular day, at that hour, at that moment, we find it much easier to do. The ability to concentrate and stay focused can only come from discipline.

The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6 to be anxious for nothing. Anxious people are always trying to live ahead of where they currently are. They spend today trying to figure out tomorrow and the result is the loss of simplicity. God expects us to trust Him with tomorrow just as He instructed the Israelites to do when they crossed the barren wil- derness, pressing toward the Promised Land.

Practice living one day at a time; give yourself—your thoughts, your conversation, your energies, every part of you—to the day at hand.

100 Ways to Simplify Your Life

1. Develop an ability to give yourself to what you are doing. You will sense an awareness enabling you to enjoy the current activity, instead of going through each day in a blur of activity and confusing thoughts which leave you drained and exhausted.

Do you fear you will not accomplish as much if you try to live this way? It’s true you may not do as much, but you will also enjoy what you do a whole lot more. One key to simplicity is realizing that quality is far superior to quantity.

The Blog Tour for "Nan's Journey" Begins July 23

It is time to play a Wild Card! Every now and then, a book that I have chosen to read is going to pop up as a FIRST Wild Card Tour. Get dealt into the game! (Just click the button!) Wild Card Tours feature an author and his/her book's FIRST chapter!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and his/her book:

Nan's Journey

Tate Publishing & Enterprises (January 2, 2008)


Littau is a life-long resident of Perryton, TX. She met husband, Terry at the Apostolic Faith Bible College in Baxter Springs, Kansas in 1974. They married March 1, 1975 and reside on a small acreage near Perryton where they enjoy spending time with their family and friends. They raised three sons and now have three daughters-in-law and four grandchildren added to their family. They also enjoy visiting with their extended family located in Perryton, Clear Lake, Laverne, and Amarillo.

Author Elaine Littau is a busy woman who by profession is the church secretary for Harvest Time First Assembly of God Church in Perryton. Among other things she has led women’s groups and taught preschool, and was a mentor for the M.O.P.S. (Mothers of Preschoolers) group in her community. She has been active in Toastmasters and enjoys painting, crafts, and playing piano and organ. She was recently appointed to the Campus Education Improvement Committee for Wright Elementary in Perryton. She belongs to Christian Storytellers and Faith Writers writing groups.

“Nan’s Journey” was written over the course of several years. “A salvation message is at the core of the book.” Littau says. “If it weren’t for the Lord, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. I truly enjoy meeting new people.”

Littau is currently working on two other books that are continuations of “Nan’s Journey.” Book signings and speaking engagements are currently set up for venues in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, and Oregon.

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 188 pages
Publisher: Tate Publishing & Enterprises (January 2, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602478325
ISBN-13: 978-1602478329


Chapter One

It was late. The moon had risen and the night symphony was in full force. Crickets chirped at their rivals, the frogs, and dominated the night chorus. Only one sound in the forest was foreign—a whimper from under the ferns. At the base of the largest pine in the woods was a small form crying, moaning, and whimpering. Black hair, matted and dirty, hung in long ropes down the front of the tiny girl. She had been in this spot for hours. At least that is what it felt like to her. Stretching, she cried out in pain. The blood-covered welts burst open to bleed again. Her back was wet with blood, and her dress was torn and useless.

Why had she dared to speak to the woman that she was obliged to call mother in that way? She knew that talking was not allowed from children before chores were finished. The accusations being made by “Ma” were totally false and she could not let Elmer take the blame for something she herself had forgotten to do. She shut her eyes tight against the memory, but it intruded anyway.

She had just gotten up to take the water off the stove to make up dishwater for the supper dishes. Ma had stepped outside the room to turn down her bed and prepare for sleep. When she reappeared in the kitchen, she realized that the wood supply next to the stove was low. Elmer was standing next to the table gathering the plates for washing. “Elmer, where is the wood you were supposed to bring up to the house?” Before he could answer, a hand had slapped him across his face. Getting back onto his feet and standing as tall as a five year old can stand, he looked her in the eye and said, “Ma, I was sick today, ‘member?”

“So, Elmer, you’re going to play up that headache trick again. Nan, didn’t your good for nothing Mama teach you people how to work, or are you just lazy?”

“Our Mama was good! Don’t you say mean things about her!” Nan yelled as her heart raced at the assault against her real Mama’s character.

“What about it, Elmer, are you like your weakling Mama or what?” Elmer’s eyes became very large and filled with tears. He could barely remember his real Mama, but when he did, he remembered soft kisses and sweet singing and a beautiful face. “I’m sorry; I’ll get the wood now.”

“No, Elmer, don’t. I promised you I’d do it today when your head was hurting, but I forgot. I’ll get it after I do these dishes.”

“Listen here, Nan, I’m the boss around here and Elmer will do what I say, when I say, and you will respect me.”

Nan’s eyes widened.

“Don’t look at me like that, little girl.”

Nan held her breath.

“Well, I guess you will be making a trip to the wood shed…with me!” Ma had grabbed her by the arm and jerked her along behind the shed. The strap was hanging there, waiting. Whippings were becoming more and more frequent. After Ma’s husband left, they had taken on a more cruel form. The last whipping was more like a beating. It took days for the marks to scab over and heal. Little Elmer had come in that night and brought some horse medicine from the barn and applied it to the oozing marks.

The next afternoon when the schoolteacher came over, Ma had already formulated a story. “Mrs. Dewey, we missed Nan and Elmer today at school. Are they sick?” Ma lied the first time in her life and said, “Well Miss Sergeant, since Mr. Dewey is going to be gone for another four weeks, I need more help around here to get things done. I’m holding the kids out until he gets back.” Week after week went by, and Mr. Dewey still hadn’t come home. Everyday Ma grew more and more angry. It became more and more impossible to please her. When she began hitting Elmer, it was too much. Nan had to do something— right or wrong; things couldn’t stay the way they were.

The coolness of the earth had settled into Nan’s bones. She stood silently for a minute and carefully crept up to the farmhouse. As she opened the door, she saw that Elmer was in the pallet at the foot of the stove next to her bedroll. Ma was asleep in her room. The door held open with a rock. Slowly she began peeling off the dress and the dried blood stuck to it. She reached for the old shirt she normally wore over her wounds and under her dress. She had washed it today. It had bloodstains on it, but it would keep her from ruining another dress. She retrieved the old work dress that she wore when chores were messier than usual; it was the only one left. She put it on swiftly and shook Elmer awake with her hand over his mouth. “Baby, we must leave. Do you understand? Stay quiet and I will get some stuff to take with us.”

She found large old handkerchief and began looking for food supplies. There was one sourdough biscuit and about a cup of cold brown beans. She located her tin cup and another rag. She would probably need that. Three matches were in the cup on the stove. She would just take two. Suddenly she heard a sound from Ma’s room. A scampering sound… just a rat. Ma turned over. Her breathing became deep and regular. For once Nan wished that Ma snored. She tied the handkerchief in a knot over the meager food supplies, grabbed their bedrolls, and slowly opened the door.

“Come on, Elmer. Can you carry this food? I’ll get your bedding. That’s a good boy. We must hurry!”

The cold air bit at their faces, but they walked bravely on.

“Elmer, we must go tonight so we can get as far away as we can before Ma wakes up and sees that we are gone.”

For the next half hour the pair walked in silence through the familiar woods past the graves on the hill. In one, a mother dearly loved, in another, an infant who had died the same day as his mother, and the third, a father that only Nan had memory of. Elmer was only two years old when Pa died in the logging accident. Nan snapped out of her reverie and urged Elmer on. Molasses, Pa’s good old workhorse, stood in the pasture. He skidded the logs Pa cut with his axe. His legs hadn’t healed quite right, but Mama hadn’t let Mr. Dewey kill him because he was all she had left of the husband of her youth. Molasses was a faithful friend to Nan and Elmer. He stood there and waited for them to mount him.

“Molasses, take us to…” Nan realized then that they had nowhere to go. Mrs. Dewey had said that they were ungrateful little imps who didn’t realize she and Mr. Dewey were taking care of them out of kindness, and they could easily be put into an orphanage. Nan didn’t know anything about orphanages except what Mrs. Dewey…uh, Ma had told her. “Molasses, just take us out of here.”

Cruise Blunder

Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Westminster CO

Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Westminster CO
Great book signing in Colorado!

Mardel Bookstore in Littleton, CO

Mardel Bookstore in Littleton, CO
Booksigning - Elaine

Elk's Resolve Proof is Here