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Emily Josephine’s Latest Publication

Now available!

So far, I have published five books in the “Pine Mountain Estates” series. The fifth book, Pine Mountain Christmas, is available now, just in time for the holidays! Click here to check it out.

The main characters in my very first novel, The Envelope, show up on Pine Mountain nearly twenty years after they get married, mixing and mingling with most of the other “Pine Mountain Estates” characters that you’ve (I hope!) grown to love.

Click here for information about the first five books in the series.

Here’s the cover for Pine Mountain Christmas. The novel’s description follows:

Nine years ago, Sam Johnson experienced a traumatic incident that to this day, his family knows nothing about. Between that and the school bully who began tormenting him a year ago, Sam’s faith in God has all but been destroyed.

In the meantime, his mother, Sheila, is experiencing a growing frustration with her life. For starters, she never wanted to take her current teaching job at the nearby private school in the mid-cities area of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. She also knows that her husband has become increasingly dissatisfied with his position at their church fellowship as the children’s pastor.

At the same time, she knows her son Sam is hiding a deep pain, but can’t draw the truth out of him. All of this has sapped her enthusiasm for the Christmas holiday. God seems to have fallen silent…except for the stirring she feels deep inside that something about her life, her family’s life, needs to change.

The one thing she does know is that the change isn’t to return to the mission field that she and her husband left nine years ago when their middle child began experiencing psychological distress. Her mother’s heart knows that returning back to the mission field would disrupt the tenuous strands bonding her family together. Unfortunately, her husband, Hank, is convinced of the opposite.

Sheila’s only hope is that spending Christmas in southeast Oklahoma to visit Dalia, the human trafficking victim that her family met a few months ago, and Dalia’s friends, will at least serve as a distraction from the family troubles. And maybe, just maybe, God will use the getaway to bring clarity to her family’s life.

Fourteen-year-old Benesha, on the other hand, is not happy when she finds out that the Johnson family will be “crashing” her Christmas celebration. For years, she has dreamed of experiencing a real Christmas, with her former slave friends Dalia and Arianna and the family she vaguely remembers she has back in Kenya.

Christmas in the United States was not supposed to happen. By now, the courts were to have discovered her relatives and flown her back across the ocean. But that hasn’t happened, and now she is not only still stuck in her foster home, but she also is going to be forced to celebrate her first real Christmas with strangers. Her frustration with the Johnson family turns to curiosity, however, when God begins speaking to her to pray for Sam.

The closer to Christmas they all come, the higher tensions rise, challenging each person’s faith, as well as each person’s view of family, in ways they’ve never been challenged before.

Click here to grab your copy of Pine Mountain Christmas today!

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Advice For Newlyweds

Recently, J and I received our first wedding invitation that included a URL to a wedding website. Or, no, actually, I think it was the second or third one. Okay, it’s the first one where I decided to actually go to the website.

On the page where you RSVP, there are several different boxes where you can answer different questions. The one that caught my eye was, “Any advice for the newlyweds?”

Oh, boy. Lots. All the wisdom I’ve gained during the last half-century started flying around my head, each piece vying for attention. I could probably write a book.

But after thinking about it for a while, I realized it all boiled down to one thing.

The Golden Rule

My advice for newlyweds is the same that I would give to anyone seeking to live a better life: treat others the way you want to be treated.

Love others the way Yeshua would love them. Examples of how that might play out in a marriage:

  • Get rid of any addictions or habits that you know would put even a small strain on your marriage relationship.
  • Communicate respectfully.
  • Give affection lavishly. Even if you don’t feel like it. Especially if you don’t feel like it.
  • Keep your marriage vows. Because one day, you’re going to wake up and no longer feel “in love.” At least, not 24/7. That is not the day to file divorce papers. That’s the day to grow up and learn to selflessly care for someone who sometimes gets on your nerves or disagrees with you.  Or with whom you will sometimes disagree. That’s the day to realize that the person you married could be your best friend and a true partner in life, provided you’re both willing to put in the time and effort to build the relationship.
  • Be a person your spouse will never be afraid to approach with anything that’s on their mind.
  • When you mess up, ‘fess up and ask for forgiveness. And forgive when asked. Or even when not asked.

Treat your spouse the way you want to be treated. Ask yourself, what would God’s unconditional love do in this situation? If you can’t figure it out, ask the One who embodies that love. Because God wants to hear from you, and is ready to help.

Happy marriage.

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With both the cooler weather and a new novel (writing, not reading) keeping me indoors most of the time these days, my week-in-the-life updates aren’t going to be particularly meaty for the foreseeable future.

That said, there are a few events from the past week I felt worthy of blog publication.

I’ll never slice another frozen strawberry!

We recently went back to ordering some of our groceries from Azure Standard. This is a company based in the northwestern United States which is essentially a health food store on wheels. The pick up nearest us is a bit over an hour away, whereas the nearest Whole Foods Market is almost two and a half hours away.

Bags of frozen strawberries are part of what we buy from them. Grown in a part of Oregon where berries grow like grass grows everywhere else, the strawberries are the absolute most delicious ones you’ll find anywhere.

And some of them grow quite large.

For smoothies, I’ve been cutting the huge ones in half to help out my Vitamix. So I was doing earlier this week with my chef’s knife.

Which desperately needs sharpening.

Yes, you can guess what happened. It slipped off the hard berry and onto my…

It hurt and bled instantly, provoking J to ask if I thought it needed stitches. No, because I cut myself more deeply when I was single, and it healed fine.

But it was bad enough that, four days later, I still have it bandaged, and the cut is still a bit sore when I apply pressure.

From now on, I’ll let the Vitamix blades do their work!

They work like a charm

Two weeks ago, I shared how I’d broken a glass measuring cup, and how I’d planned to replace it with a plastic one.

Well, I actually ended up buying a set of three.

There’s a one-cup, a two-cup, and a four-cup. The really cool thing about them is that they have this built-in thing on the inside that shows the volume of liquid so that you can see how much you’ve put in by looking down into it from the top. Like this:

Neat, huh?

Even the four-cup measure, the one we’re using exclusively because we use it to scoop water from buckets into our stainless steel water bottles, is lighter than the glass one-cup measure I broke. Also, the pour spout works better, and, of course, I’ll never break it.

We wish you a lot of spending…

Remember, those of you over the age of forty, when Sears would send a “Christmas wishbook” to your house every year? I remembering poring over the pages. I definitely wished. I never received anything from that catalog, but boy, did I ever wish.

I thought, with so many people doing most of their non-grocery shopping online these days, Christmas wishbooks, which are catalogs filled with page after page of any toy a kid could ever conceive of, were things of the past. You certainly wouldn’t think that the largest online store in the world, which has become the default store for most people in the civilized world, would feel a need to kill thousands of trees to print their own Christmas wishbook.

Oh, excuse me. Holiday wishbook, because of course we wouldn’t want to offend anyone by implying that a particular holiday actually has roots in religious tradition.

Anyway, you wouldn’t think Amazon would be sending such a catalog in the mail.

Well, guess what J pulled out of our mailbox the other day?

The back of the catalog.
The front.

“God, what took You so long?!”

My final bit of news: I’m finally happy. All day long, every single day.

In the same post where I talked about the broken measuring cup, I mentioned that I’d finally started taking a 5HTP supplement. This is a protein that converts to serotonin, the hormone that, among other things, is required if you want to be in a good mood.

Long story short: I didn’t take it for very long, because it caused my I.B.S. to flare up (and perimenopause has been doing a good enough job with that, thank you very much).

BUT. I knew that there were essential oils whose use increased serotonin production. One of them, geranium, also increases estrogen, which helps to produce serotonin. Another – out of several more possibilities – is lemon.

I started sniffing geranium and lemon oil about ten times a day, six deep sniffs for the one and four for the other every time. I will write an extensive post about this soon. Right now, suffice to say, for the first time in my life, I am consistently happy.

I had no idea this was even possible.

I am hugely grateful for having discovered this simple and inexpensive remedy. At the same time, I’ve been praying for years for an answer to be happy even when experiencing day after day of clouds, or even right before the full moon, or even when my hormones were being whacky.

So, now that I have that answer, I’m throwing another prayer into the atmosphere: “God, what took You so long?!”

P.S. – If you write in the comment section anything about God’s timing being perfect, I might just become unhappy again. And we wouldn’t want that to happen, do we? 😉

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“I’m not reading any more romance novels!”

So I declared to my husband, after I disgustfully (if that wasn’t a word, it is now) quit reading a romance novel about 70% through.

I added, “And I’m done writing romance novels!” On top of getting frustrated with other authors’ books, I’d been struggling to rewrite my own romance novel, and continuing to hit brick walls.

A day of thought later, I realized that I didn’t really mean what I’d said. Not completely. I meant, there is a type of romance novel I no longer wanted to read or write.

You might be thinking, “What do you mean? Romance is romance. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. That’s the formula romance authors have always used, and will use until the end of time.”

No, that’s the formula romance authors used to use. I suppose some of the older romance authors still use it. It’s a good formula, because it allows for a lot of leeway during the unfolding of the plot. Things can get interesting. And, shock of shocks, be realistic even while being interesting.

But during the past few years, a new romance formula has popped up. I call it the “Frustrate the reader with unrealistic people and plots romance formula.”

Here’s how it goes: The man and woman have reasons they could never consider dating, or dating this particular person. Those reasons are sometimes stupid, sometimes valid. But the main characters are attracted to each other, and by some wild circumstance are thrown into each others’ world where they go between giving into the attraction and resisting it for all they’re worth.

That’s the first half of the story, and usually, I can deal with it. I’m willing to give a romance author I haven’t read before a chance to redeem herself (or, rarely, himself) and make a twist that gets me really engaged in the story.

But about halfway through the novel, it takes a turn that makes me want to get the main characters together in a room, grab their necks, and slam their heads together. They each begin to constantly make wrong assumptions about each other and each other’s actions. Often, the woman is convinced she can’t possibly be attractive enough for the man to actually want her.

If I had a dollar for every romance I’ve read where the female protagonist thinks this…

Regardless, for chapter after chapter the author drags the reader through the grueling unbelievable world of two people who refuse to communicate their true feelings, their fears, their dreams for a relationship with the other person to work out. Instead, they become more and more tangled in a web of misunderstandings.

This can be done in a comical way, and adroit romantic comedy authors accomplish it. But most of the time, this formula is annoying and frustrating, with much of it being unrealistic. I feel like the authors add misunderstanding after misunderstanding simply to add to their stories’ word counts. The never-ending, repetitive plot line certainly doesn’t add any interest to the story.

I’m done reading such books, and done writing such books. I want to read about realistic people with realistic problems, solving them in realistic ways. It should come as no surprise that, therefore, such is the kind of book I want to write.

Note that I didn’t say real. I said realistic. You can write a fantasy that has a lot of realism to it. What I mean is, I want to be able to relate to the people and the plot.

This “Frustrate The Reader Romance Formula”? I just. Can’t. Relate.

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Just In Time (week in the life)

Once upon a time, there was an author who sorta kinda promised to write a life update post on her blog every week. Then, something happened.

The second week, she forgot about her commitment until the day before.

So she took three pictures and decided that her second life-update post would be much shorter than the first. And she and her readers all lived happily ever after.

The end.

LOL, I did forget about this post until yesterday, but I’ll use the weather as an excuse, too. For a couple of days, I was very sleepy and my brain didn’t want to do much of anything.

Speaking of the weather, that’ll do for an update this week.

The rain has gotten ahead of itself

Remember how last week, I told you we’d received six inches of rain in two days? Well, this past week, we got another 1.2 inches. Our average annual rainfall is about fifty inches.

Do you get that? In the span of a week, we got 1/7 of the average annual rain for our area!

But wait! That’s not all!

And then, it got cold.

You want pictures? I’ll give you pictures.

Yesterday morning, November 1, 2019, our son walked out the door and said, “It’s not that bad!”

Uh, see the frost on the grass? Notice what he’s wearing? Or, maybe better said, not wearing?

Now, he did get cold a couple of minutes later, but I had to take this photo because I missed the opportunity yesterday when he was running around outside in 45-degree weather, also in shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.

Next up, a close up of the frosty grass:

The frost on J’s car:

I know, I know: you Northerners (or “Southern” northerners along the east coast) have already been seeing frost, perhaps even snow. But the average first frost for our area – southeast Oklahoma – is November 1, so Jack Frost arrived right on time! It wasn’t hard, just around thirty degrees, but it was cold enough to kill my tomato and pepper plants.

Well, time to practice the guitar for a few minutes while B is outside playing. I’ll try to do better for next week!

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Happy Author’s Day To Me…And You?

According to the calendar our bank gifted us last December, today is Author’s Day. So, if you are an author as I am, happy author’s day!

Today also marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. Those who have been considering writing a novel but not yet ventured down this grueling, yet incredibly fulfilling, path, are challenged to write the first draft of a novel this month.

I’ll probably never do that.

But, since I just used the word “never,” God is going to make sure that one day, I do it. 😉

Anyway. I say that because, thanks to my eye issue which is commonly referred to as Irlen Syndrome, I can only write so many words a day. Even though I use a NEO2 (previously known as an AlphaSmart word processor, and which is no longer being manufactured, waa), after a while my eyes get strained after looking at the screen and reading the words I’ve been writing.

Yes, I have tried writing without looking. I make a ton of mistakes, and have to go back and fix them which equates to the same amount of screen-looking time.

Generally, I go for 2,000 words per day. Now, there being thirty days in November, that comes out to 60,000 words if I were to pound out that word count every single day.

Though Pine Mountain Secrets comes close, I’ve never written a novel that was only 60K words. Most of my novels are over 70K words. And if a person wants to seek a traditional publisher, they need to write over 80K words.

Hear what I’m saying. I’m not saying that if you want to join the NaNoWriMo challenge, you cannot unless you can produce at least 2700 words per day in order to have the entire novel completed by November 30. Let’s not pick nits. If you can write enough every day to have forty or fifty thousand words written by the end of the month, you’ve completed half a novel. You’ve got some serious momentum going, and, likely as not, you’ll be motivated to finish it.

It’s not against the law to continue writing into December to finish a novel begun in November.

I’ve actually recently started rewriting a novel that I’d published a year or so ago. It ended up being a bad story with mediocre characters, I finally realized. I may not have ever realized it if it weren’t for the first review it received.

Two stars.

Yes, I threw a fit when I first saw it. Railed on about how the reviewer’s comments were insulting an unjustified.

Nothing like the passage of time to make an author see her story objectively, and to realize that the two-star reviewer had actually been generous with her comments.

As usual, I digress. The point is, I will be working on a novel this month, but for the past couple of days, I’ve come to a stand-still. The main reason is that I’ve got about a dozen different story lines running around my head, and they’re distracting me to the point of irritation.

So in honor of Author’s Day, and Novel Writing Month, I’m going to spend a few days jotting down plot summaries. I’m going to get those consarned ideas down on paper so that they’ll quit floating in my head.

And then, back to the novel.

Which, barring a miracle, I won’t finish by the thirtieth. But who cares? I’ll be having a blast creating.

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