Monthly Archives: January 2018

Southern Sands Newsletter

Happy end of January! How did that happen? I’m still writing 2017 on everything. My family went on a ski trip to Breckenridge, Colorado at the beginning of the month. Then we spent a week recovering from the National Championship game. Why can’t they start those things earlier?

At the end of November, my agent sent my first book proposal to several acquisitions editors. One of them said she liked my voice, which was very nice to hear even though she didn’t contract the book. We are still waiting to hear on the rest, so please keep those prayers coming. My word for this year is ‘rejoice,’ so I’d sure like to be rejoicing over a contract instead of the strawberries being buy-one-get-one-free at Publix.

I keep reminding myself  of Paul’s words: “I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” Philippians 1:6

So while I wait faithfully and patiently (ha, ha), I’ve been binge writing.  I’ve found that it’s easier for me to write two-thousand words in a day than five hundred.  I finished a first draft of a book Sunday afternoon, and I am trying to add a subplot to finish another one by the end of the month. With long sessions of writing, I believe I’m starting to experience a writer’s high much like runner’s high. It kind of feels like being in a dream. Which brings us to another casualty of binge writing, persistent characters that want to discuss their storylines at three in the morning.  This results in me dashing to the kitchen to find a scrap of paper and a pen or a purple marker and jot notes. I certainly wouldn’t trust my characters to remind me of their brilliant idea, and I know I won’t be able to remember it.

One of my favorite parts of writing are conferences. I will be attending the Florida Christian Writers Conference a the end of February, and the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at the end of May. Besides learning from professionals, there is time to meet new friends and enjoy old ones. It’s nice to hear other people share the same doubts and hopes as me. In preparation, I decided to have new headshots taken for my business cards. Of course, the day I met the photographer at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island it was forty-four degrees and falling. I wanted the pictures to look like the summer, so I was in a sleeveless top and barefoot. I’m still surprised a didn’t lose a toe to frostbite, but the pictures are fantastic, so it was worth it.

I hope your year is off to a great start. I would love to pray for you. What is going on in your life? Do you have a dream? Has God planted a seed in your heart? Comment below on the website or in an email.



Most Romantic Lines from Literature by Amanda Everett

Y’all are in for a treat this week. My friend Amanda Everett is guest blogging.

Amanda Everette is a southern girl saved by grace. Lover of pretty things, clever words, and her stud of a husband. Not necessarily in that order.

Amanda and I met at the American Christian Writers Conference in August of 2016. We became quick friends and critique partners. I’m delighted by the post. Be sure to read all the way to the end. It brought tears to my eyes. Be sure to check Amanda out on her website at .

A glance, a touch, that long-awaited kiss beneath a starry sky, the promise of happily ever after—this is what romance is made of. As a writer, and reader, of romance, I can’t seem to get enough of love lately! With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I’ve rounded up some of the most romantic lines from literature. You know the type, the ones that make your breath catch, heart flutter, and mind hope that maybe, just maybe, you’ll hear similar words of love spoken to you.

Most romantic lines from literature: 

  1. “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same…If all else perished, and he remained, I should still continue to be; and if all else remained, and he were annihilated, the universe would turn to a mighty stranger.”

Technically, I combined two different quotes from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, but can you blame me?

  1. “You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.” Rhett Butler, Gone with the Wind

Has there ever been a more roguish, charming scoundrel of a gentleman? *swoon*

  1. “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.” Winnie the Pooh

The love of a good friend is not to be taken lightly.

  1. “You have bewitched me body and soul.” Pride and Prejudice.

Mr. Darcy—enough said.

  1. “I love her and it is the beginning of everything.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald

Okay, so this line isn’t from a book, but a personal letter in which F. Scott Fitzgerald was talking about his wife, Zelda.  I think you can see why I had to include it.

  1. “and this is the wonder that is keeping the stars apart
    i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)” E.E. Cummings

To be forever in your beloved’s thoughts— what more could one want? Some people speculate that Cummings left the “I” lower case so as to be on the same level as his beloved.

  1. “When he shall die,
    Take him and cut him out in little stars,
    And he will make the face of heaven so fine
    That all the world will be in love with night
    And pay no worship to the garish sun.”
    —William Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet
    It’s impossible to talk about romance without including Romeo & Juliet. I had to recite this for a high school English class and it’s one of the few pieces I still remember to this day.
  2. “I don’t want sunbursts or marble halls, I just want you.” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island

To be loved for who you are, isn’t that what we all desire?

  1. “Always.” Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

When you think romance, you generally don’t think of Harry Potter, but this line by Severus Snape in regards to his undying love for Lily Potter slays me every time.

Are you feeling a little weak at the knees yet? I know I am! But here’s the thing, no matter how many romance novels I read or chick-flicks I watch, I find I’m still left wanting more. It took me years to realize there is no one on this earth who can ever fully satisfy my desire for love, not even my husband.

But there is someone who can.

He is a poet who seeks to win your affection with tender words. A King enthralled by your beauty. A mighty warrior ready to calm all your fears and rejoice over you with singing. There is one who has known you at your darkest and loves you still. One who has literally moved heaven and earth to make a way for you to be together forever.  He is the ultimate storyteller, the creator of love, God over all…and He is madly, deeply, completely in love with you

So on this Valentine’s Day, perhaps the most romantic line ever written can be found right here:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”-John 3:16

May any semblance of love you read about, any chick-flick you watch, and any relationship you’re a part of always remind you of the greatest love story ever told—that of Christ and his love for you.

A Rage of Foregiveness

Must she forgive him daily? Paige snatched the hedge clippers from the hook on the garage wall. Roses symbolized love, but Brick’s garden of blooms only reminded her of his infidelity. They wouldn’t torment her any longer.

She marched to the front of the house—the tool of horticulture annihilation held above her head like a sword for battle. Paige breached the last line of defense, the porch stairs that surrounded the plants, and stepped into Brick’s sanctuary. The dense humidity made the air thick with their fragrance. The sweet scent slapped her, thwarting her advance. Her breath caught. A memory tugged at her heart—more bitter, than sweet. She shoved it under before it surfaced from where she’d tried to drown it. Heat rose in her like mercury in the thermometer on a midsummer’s day.


“Fine, God!” Paige looked to the heavens and waved the clippers in the air. “I forgive him for cheating on me with St. Simons Island’s most decorated good time girl!” She snapped a thorny limb. “I forgive him for making me the number one prayer request at the church ladies’ circle meetings with a healthy dose of ‘bless her heart’ to disguise their gossip.” Chop!  “I forgive him for exploiting my talents to further his career, insisting I stage houses for mediocre photographers when I should’ve been capturing your creation.”

Snap! She hacked a large branch—a shower of scarlet petals fell to the ground. The roses suffocated her with their pungent perfume.

Forgive Brick.

“Really, God?” Guilt, like a thorn, punctured her heart. “Fine. Brick, I forgive you for spending more time cultivating these ridiculous flowers than you spent nurturing our marriage. I forgive you for never standing up for me to your parents.” With the back of her free hand, she swatted away the traitorous tears rolling over her cheeks. “I forgive you for insisting we name our precious daughter after your over-bearing mother.”

“And Brick,” she raised the shears at the last blushing bloom. “I forgive you for breaking your promises to love and cherish me and most of all, that our life would be wonderful.” Excerpted from Island Love is Stormy by Leslie DeVooght

Wow! That’s not the way my Sunday school teacher taught me to forgive people. But don’t you connect with Paige? Haven’t we all been hurt so badly by someone we loved and trusted that forgiveness seemed impossible? We know we shouldn’t hold a grudge, but sometimes it’s so hard to grant grace.

And really why should we? I mean other than Jesus tells us to. Okay, so that’s a pretty persuasive reason. But what about punishment? What about justice? What about that scoundrel getting his due?

But what if God used that kind of logic with us? Ouch. Don’t worry he doesn’t. His grace is all-encompassing. He pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance. He does not stay angry forever but delights to show mercy. He will always have compassion on us, and he treads our sins underfoot and hurls all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. See Micah 7:18-19 Can I get an Amen?

For me, it’s hardest to forgive people who hurt my children. I want to fight for them. I want the meanie to say he’s sorry. I want them to cry like they made my baby cry. As a matter of fact, sometimes I secretly plot ways to do it. Then I remember that’s not what Jesus wants from me, and I pray for strength to forgive.

Forgiveness requires God. We simply can’t do it with our own power. When we start praying for those that have wronged us, our hearts are softened, and we can let them go. I think these ideas border on controversial in today’s society, but we need to forgive to be free—to be joyful.

Honestly, sometimes I think forgiveness may be a little selfish because of how much it helps me move on. The only one you hurt when you fail to forgive is yourself. It eats at you and controls you, while the offender often has no idea of your bitterness. Meanwhile, you exhaust yourself concocting ways to get even or you alter your life and avoid your friends and family to avoid the person who has wronged you. So while we’re sitting at home wallowing in bitterness, she’s at the party having a great time. Is that the justice we so desperately sought?

Friends, as we start this New Year, let’s take time to forgive. Let’s resolve to forgive even if it’s in a fit of rage—even if you have to forgive the same person every day, ten times a day. We owe it to ourselves, but most of all we owe it to God.

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:31-23

In what circumstances do you find it most difficult to forgive?


The St. Simons Island Trilogy by Eugenia Price

We often take for granted the treasures in our own backyard. At least that is true for me, I lived on St. Simons Island all my life and didn’t climb to the top of the lighthouse until I was a volunteer for my daughter’s first-grade field trip. Sometimes I felt my husband, a newcomer but a history fan, knew more about the local lore than I did. While visiting the Island last summer, I took my children on a trolley tour as research for the Flash Fiction piece I was writing. As I write more and more about St. Simons Island for my contemporary fiction novels, I find myself looking at my hometown from an entirely different light. I even acquired a detailed street map from the visitor’s bureau because as a native, I didn’t know some of the street names. We always just knew where we were going.

As part of my self-education of St. Simons Island History, I decided to read Eugenia Price’s St. Simons Island trilogy. Although the books are historical fiction, I think they are more fact than fiction. The stories of the families who founded St. Simons Island from just after the Revolutionary War to Post-Civil War days created a new appreciation for both local history and national history. If you live on the Island and have not read these books, I highly recommend them. You will recognize the names of our neighborhoods, streets, and parks. If you are interested in Southern History, I also think you would enjoy these books.

The first book, The Lighthouse, is the story of James Gould and starts in New England. An extra benefit for me was the mention of a town in Maine that Carlton and I visited last summer. James Gould arrives in the South and is a successful tree farmer before he makes his way to St. Simons Island where he builds the first Lighthouse and becomes a cotton farmer.

The second book, New Moon Rising, is the story of James Gould’s son Horace. After being removed from a Northern school, Horace returns to the South and after a lengthy detour in New Orleans, he finds his way back to St. Simons Island. His story explores many issues surrounding the Civil War.

The third book which was actually the first book Price wrote in the series is The Beloved Invader. This book is the story of Anson Dodge and Anna Gould, Horace’s daughter. Anson Dodge rebuilt Christ Church Frederica after the Union soldiers destroyed it during the Civil War.

Before writing fiction, Eugenia Price wrote many non-fiction Christian works. She was born in Charleston, West Virginia and worked in Chicago, Illinois in radio soap-opera programming. She then went on to write a number of books on Christian Living and devotionals. She wrote fourteen historical novels. Some of the others are set in other parts of the Coastal Georgia and North Florida. Isn’t it funny how an outsider can provide such insight on the ordinary things of our lives?

As much as the history of St. Simons Island interested me, what I adored most was Price’s descriptions of the Island—the plants, trees, beaches, rivers, and marshes. The places of my life. We should all take time to notice and enjoy the world around us, and the magnificence of God’s creation. I hope in this new year, you slow down and experience how beautiful our world is in whatever place you call home.

Never too Late for Love – Flash Fiction by Leslie DeVooght

Is it ever too late for love? Are we ever too old too fall in love? I don’t think so. So often, we leave romance stories for the young, but this month my flash fiction is about a couple finding love later in life. I hope you enjoy Never too Late for Love, and hopefully, you will be able to read the rest of Thomas and Evelyn’s story when my first book is published. Evelyn is one of my favorite characters, so I may share more of her in future posts. Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

With her tennis racquet swinging by her side, Evelyn skipped across the parking lot to the Island Club pro shop. More like a school girl than the fifty-five-year-old spinster she was. With all hope of love buried in her past and given up on in her future, she’d met Thomas. God sure did have a sense of humor. Warmth filled her.

Thomas seemed to like her, but did he treat all his tennis students this way? Maybe, but maybe not, and a girl could dream. Her numerical age might not describe her as a girl, but the tingles that ran up her arms when he helped her with her serve, sure left her as giddy as one.

Evelyn inhaled and breathed out slowly, placing her hand on the door handle. Hopefully, the warmth of her cheeks would pass as youthfulness. She opened the door and stepped into the shop, gliding to the counter to sign in for her lesson.

“Good afternoon, Ms. Spencer. Thomas said to let you know that your lesson will be with Judy today.” Lainey bobbed her head to the music emanating from her phone.

Evelyn’s heart dropped like one of her serves that didn’t quite cross the net. She gripped the edge of the counter. “Are you certain? There must be a mistake. He didn’t say anything to me. Please check again.” She pursed her lips.

“Yep.” She shrugged. “Like, don’t shoot the messenger.”

Evelyn dropped her head and turned.

“Wait. I just saw this note on the schedule.”

Evelyn’s heart skittered as she glanced over her shoulder.

Lainey waved a fluorescent-yellow sticky note. How had she missed that—flighty girl. “It says for you to stop by Thomas’s office before your lesson.”

Evelyn chewed her lip as she walked down the hall. Maybe he just had a conflict. Surely, he wouldn’t dump her before they’d even gone out. What had happened at the last lesson that would have caused him to assign her to Judy? They’d sat on the bench and talked for over an hour. Maybe he was bored the whole time, but he’d laughed, and when it was time to leave, he walked her to her car, guiding her with his hand on her back.

She huffed. She was too old for this emotional roller coaster. Maybe working with Judy was for the best. She slid around the door, twisting the racquet in her hand. Thomas hunched over his desk, reading a magazine. It didn’t look like he had a conflict. Click here to read the rest of the story.