Special Guest - Cecil Murphey & Liz Allison

Good Morning White Rose Friends!

As Kara posted on Monday, Holy Week is here, Lent is almost over and Easter is on it's way! I have only one question for you....What have you done?

Today White Rose Authors welcome authors Cecil Murphey & Liz Allison and their book, Words of Comfort for Times of Loss which is on virtual tour with Kathy Carlton Willis Communications.

About the book:

Through great personal loss, authors Cecil Murphey and Liz Allison have gained insight to share with others who are going through uncertainty, depression, and loneliness after losing a loved one. They also offer advice for those comforting someone who is grieving.

Among comforting paintings by artist Michal Sparks, brief stories, personal experiences, and prayers offer a meaningful path toward healing for readers when they: feel alone and lost in their grief and want to reconnect with others and to life, seek to make sense of their loss alongside their sense of faith, purpose, and God, want to honor their loved one without clinging to the past in unhealthy ways/

Readers are given gentle permission to grapple with doubt, seek peace, and reflect on loss in their own way without judgment and with understanding and hope. A perfect gift for a loved one dealing with loss and grief.

Table of Contents: *Little Joys *You're Not Alone *One Simple Thing *Accepting Help *Make It Go Away *Why Did You Leave Me? *If Only I Had *What's Wrong With Self-pity? *Perfect Grieving *Am I Crazy? *Material Possessions *Facing Those Special Days

About the Authors:

Liz Allison was married to NASCAR driver Davey Allison until his tragic death in 1993. Widowed at 28 with two young children to raise, Liz faced the long journey of pain, loss, and grief with great faith. Committed to encouraging others, she returned to her work in TV reporting, has published eight books, and hosts a weekly radio show. Please visit http://www.lizallison.com/

Cecil Murphey is an international speaker and bestselling author who has written more than 100 books, including New York Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper). No stranger himself to loss and grief, Cecil has served as a pastor and hospital chaplain for many years, and through his ministry and books he has brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world. Please visit http://www.cecilmurphey.com/

And now.... A Few Words from the Authors.....Why We Write About Loss
On the morning of July 12, 1992, my husband, Davey, left home like any other morning—he kissed my forehead and hugged our kids.That afternoon I answered a knock at the door, sensing something wasn’t quite right. When I glimpsed the faces of Davey’s two best friends—they didn't have to speak—the looks on their faces said it all.

That day, after lunch with his race team, Davey had hopped into his helicopter and taken an unplanned trip to the nearby Talladega Superspeedway to watch a buddy practice. Attempting to land in the infield, he had lost control of his helicopter and crashed. Although paramedics airlifted Davey to a Birmingham hospital, sixteen hours later he was pronounced dead.

Immediately following Davey’s death, I had to work through my grief enough to plan his funeral and make hundreds of small-but-significant decisions, all while maintaining the time and energy to care for our two young children, ages one and three. Well-wishing friends hovered around me and frequently asked, “What can I do for you?

Most of the time, I could only respond with a blank stare. Looking back, my friends could have done many things for me, but they didn’t know what to do, and I didn’t know what to tell them.

I hope the insights I have gained during the aftermath of Davey’s death will help you as you struggle with your own grief.  —Liz
Two weeks after my father suffered a ministroke, a massive stroke took his life. On the day of his funeral, my older brother, Ray, died of cancer. Over the next eighteen months, I lost two brothers-in-law and my mother.

On the Sunday after Dad’s and Ray’s funerals, a parishioner rushed up to me, hugged me, and said, “Pastor, I heard about the deaths. Were they saved?”

I honestly don’t remember what I answered, but I wanted to shout, “Does it matter right now? I hurt. I’m so filled with pain that I’m not sure I can handle the worship service today!”

In 2007, our house burned down. Our son-in-law, Alan, died in the fire. The next day, a neighbor pulled up in front of our burned house, got out of his car, and started to look around. “Where did he die?” he asked.

Through the years, I’ve met many like those two people. Maybe they didn’t know what to say. Perhaps they were so focused on what they cared about that they were unaware of my pain. Instead of helping me, those comments made me feel even worse. What I needed was compassion. I didn’t get that from either of them, but I can offer it to you. That’s why we’ve written this book. —Cec
As you may know, my beloved husband passed away on August 18, 2009 - so this book & tour came to me at a perfect time. I am looking forward to receiving Words of Comfort from Cec & Liz.

Tour host, Kathy Carlton Willis Communications is giving away a HUGE prize for one lucky person so leave a comment for the chance to have your name included in the drawing! Just look at all of this great stuff...

Grand Prize Giveaway includes:

Books: Words of Comfort for Times of Loss *Heaven Is Real *Gift Edition, 90 Minutes in Heaven

More Gifts: A Journal, Pens, Potato soup, Oyster crackers, Dove silky smooth milk chocolate, Dove silky smooth dark chocolate, Ultra-plush spa socks, Large gel eye mask

This special grandprize giveaway is designed especially for someone going through a difficult time. The winner can keep or pass along to someone who could use the pick-me-up.

Hope you enjoyed these special guests! If you or someone you know has lost a loved one, this would be a wonderful gift.

Until later....take care, be Blessed and remember...Jesus is the reason for the Easter season!

Pamela S Thibodeaux
"Inspirational with an Edge!" TM

Holy Week: Wednesday

The Lord GOD has given me a well-trained tongue, That I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.  Morning after morning  he opens my ear that I may hear;  And I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield  from buffets and spitting. The Lord GOD is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame." (Isaiah 50:4-7)

Let's reflect on Isaiah's words which foretell Our Lord's suffering. We've all said or done things that have caused others to suffer. Let's call to mind those times and ask forgiveness for times we have caused others to suffer.

Holy Week: Tuesday

"I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth." (Isaiah 49:6)

We are called to be a light to the world. To be a witness for Jesus in our thoughts, words, and deeds. But how easy it is to put on Christianity for a few hours on Sunday, and then set it down on Tuesdays--especially if we are put into an uncomfortable situation. But how faithful is that, to be a Christian only when it is convenient or there is no risk involved?

Let's take a few moments to reflect on how easy it is sometimes to fall from grace. Judas was a faithful apostle, but then betrayed Jesus in the worst way. Peter was a faithful Apostle, but then denied Jesus three times before he realized his mistake and repented. Let's examine our own lives to identify weaknesses or temptations that may cause us to betray Our Lord if we are not careful.

Holy Week: Monday

"Wait for the Lord with courage; be stouthearted, and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:14)

Monday of Holy Week is a day that can be almost lost in the daily grind of everyday life. We're looking towards Easter, but see no special significance in this day. We're waiting for the week to pass, waiting on Resurrection Day to arrive. Many of us don't like waiting. It makes us antsy. But great things can come out of waiting.

Mary and Martha had to wait for Jesus. Lazarus died while they were waiting. Yet, Jesus didn't forsake them. He had a miracle in store, and he raised Lazarus from the tomb. What a great resurrection day that was! Do you think witnesses to that miracle had their faith strengthened?

Today, let's ask Jesus to raise us above any obstacles that prevent us from drawing nearer to Him. Let's take a few moments to reflect on the blessings God has placed in our midst--those both large and small.

Holy Week is Here

Today is Palm Sunday. Holy Week is here and Easter is on its way!

And as he rode [into Jerusalem), they spread their garments on the road. As he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" (Luke 19:36-38, RSV)

All glory, laud and honor,
To Thee, Redeemer, King,
To Whom the lips of children
Made sweet hosannas ring.

To Thee, before Thy passion,
They sang their hymns of praise;
To Thee, now high exalted,
Our melody we raise.

Words: Theodulph of Orleans (ca. 750-821), ca. 820
Trans. John Mason Neale (1818-1866), 1854,
as altered in Hymns Ancient and Modern

Oliver and I chat about Lasting Love, an Easter story of forgiveness

With spring in the air and Easter in a few short days, Oliver and I are out in the English garden, chatting about my Easter story and the inspiration behind it. In a gorgeous backdrop of the rolling green hills and meadows where wild flowers grow free, Oliver and I are in the rose arbor, clipping and pampering the vintage roses. Among the most fragrant and lovely are the Lasting Love, Ballerina, Sentimental, Falling in Love, Simplicity and the Candy Lane climbing rose.

Sharon: Aren’t they gorgeous, Oliver? The best part of spring is getting the garden ready with all the striking blossoms and blooms. What’s your favorite?

Oliver: Ah, like women, each rosebud is beautiful and unique. And I think a rose was invented for each woman to make her feel special. So choosing one would be impossible. Casting Sharon a wicked wink, he pumps his biceps, leans over and plucks a handful of weeds from the Lasting Love rose. Cutting a few from each vine at just the right angle, he arranges them in a vase and sets them on the umbrella table. So why did you choose the Lasting Love rose as your flower of choice in your Easter story?

Sharon: (adjusts her sun hat and picks up her sprinkling can) It was a difficult choice. I wanted to pack so much in a short inspirational story for the Easter theme call out from The Wild Rose Press. Easter is about rebirth and resurrection, love and betrayal, but mostly, it’s a dawning of a new day. And in order to do this, we sometimes have to do something virtually impossible. Forgive those who have let us down or betrayed us.

Oliver, intrigued, shakes cedar chips around the rose bushes. So what did you do?

Sharon: The first thing I did was figure out a storyline with all the above. Choosing the rural mountains of Vermont as the setting, the character of Abbey Jordan came to life in my head. Unable to have children, she poured her maternal nurturing into her greenhouse of roses. She loved them and thought of them as her babies. But when her assistant quit on her a few days before Easter, leaving her in the wings on the busiest season of the year, she placed the dilemma in God’s hands. And ironically, a little girl rode right into her life, literally, on her bike, asking for a job. The young girl has her sights set on becoming a prima ballerina, and her father, Brady Jones, a man whose wife up and left them to pursue her own career, could no longer afford her dancing lessons after he lost his job. And by a twist of “Faith”, he just so happened to be a prize-winning rose grower. So the scene for romance was set...and Lasting Love bloomed in my head.

Oliver: Ah, yes. But you romance writers have to throw in a wrench to keep the couple from getting together. What’s the glitch?

Sharon: arches an eyebrow. Sprinkling water on the Ballerina, Candy Land, Falling in Love and Lasting Love roses, she smiles. I chose each of these for a specific reason in my plot. The young girl, Kayla, desperately wants to win back her mother’s love. Her mother abandoned her at birth to pursue a career as a prima ballerina. In Kayla’s young mind, if she stepped into her mother’s footsteps, she’d win her love. So in my story, I had Brady grow the Ballerina rose, especially for his daughter. The Falling in Love rose was one of Abbey’s best seller’s around spring and prom time. I threw in the Candy Land rose, a pretty pink flowers with ivory stripes and an apple scent, as the flower Abbey and Kayla bond over while arranging. And the Lasting Love rose, the focus of my story, is a hybrid rose that is easy to grow and hard to kill. Not only that, but it is an unusual, shimmering jewel-toned rose with a powerful scent reminiscent of the vintage rose. The color is a dark red with green glossy foliage. It’s classy and timeless appeal seemed perfect for the only rose to resurrect from the ashes after the nursery is burned to the ground the night before Easter.

Oliver sniffs. A fire destroys the beautiful rose greenhouse?

Sharon: Yes, and as it turns out, Brady is responsible for starting the fire. So the entire story is about testing boundaries. Life is all about choices and one mistake can blossom into a lifetime of sorrow. Abbey simply doesn’t have it in her heart to forgive Brady for destroying her dream. But through a miracle, she is shown a message that will change the course of her life. I totally enjoyed writing this short and sweet and heart-breaking story. I put a part of myself in the book. As you know, I’ve been a type 1 diabetic since the age of six. Doctors strongly advised me not to have children, something I wanted more than life itself. So like Abbey, I threw my maternal instincts into other projects that became my babies. Roses, art, cooking and writing, to name a few.

Oliver: Picks up his copy of Lasting Love. May I have your autograph, please, boss? After hearing all about it, I simply must read it. Now let’s sit down and have some tea and fresh fruit while we read a blurb and excerpt:

When Vermont florist Abbey Jordan’s nursery manager quits a few days before Easter, she is left up the proverbial creek without a paddle. But when she places it in God’s hands, she finds lasting love in a garden of roses.
Brady Jones has a daughter to raise, is out of work, and knows more about cultivating roses than anyone in rural Vermont. And when Abbey hires him as the horticultural manager of her floral shop, it seems like the answer to her prayers. But just on the brink of a budding romance, a fire destroys the nursery and buries all hope of love.

An amicable silence hovered between Abbey and Brady as they walked toward the restaurant hand in
hand. They knew they’d just crossed a major milestone. The quiet was broken by Abbey’s cell
phone. Annoyed at the interruption, she sighed and answered. It was one of her employees. “Come quick,
Abbey. It’s the nursery. There’s a fire. It’s spreading like wildfire. Things look bad. Get here soon.”
When Abbey and Brady reached the nursery, it was a burning inferno. The glass walls had collapsed and it was going up in a snarling hiss of smoke and flames. Firefighters struggled to get the blaze under
control. Police and paramedics had arrived and Eye Witness News was on the scene, snapping photos.

“Oh my!” Abbey was out of the car the minute it came to a screeching halt. Her face was as ashen as the thick clouds of smoke billowing up into the night sky. Tripping over the gravel and cinders as she rushed toward the fire chief, she screamed. “What happened? I’m Abigail Jordan and I own this nursery. What happened? When I left, everything was fine. Please tell me nobody was in there!”

“No one was in there,” the fire chief placed a hand on her shoulder. “Things could be a lot worse.
Dead plants can be replaced. People can’t.”

Riveted with shock as reality filtered through her, Abbey screamed, “My roses! All my precious
roses. All those hanging baskets of lavender. My exotic orchids and Easter lilies. Gone, all gone!”

“It’s all right,” Brady folded her into his arms. “Shh.”

“What started it?” Abbey stared at the fire chief. “How did it start?”

“It’s being investigated. At this time, the cause is unknown. Could be a gas leak. A neighbor reported hearing an explosion, and in a few minutes, your greenhouse went up like a house of cards.”

In less than an hour, the fire was under control, but all that remained of Abbey’s nursery was a bed of ash. The floral boutique across the covered bridge was unharmed but the rest of the damage caused by the fire was insurmountable.

“Do you have any idea how long it took me to choose and cultivate each of my prize roses?” Abbey finally let the tears roll. Leaning on Brady, she sobbed in between hysterics. “My Lasting Love rose, demolished. And to think I’ll never smell the spicy aroma of my Sentimental rose again. And at prom time, I never had enough of the Falling in Love rose. They all wanted a corsage made of the pink roses, timeless and romantic. And not to forget the Arctic Flame rose, popular for keeping the romance alive. All my hard work, up in smoke.”

“Ms. Jordan,” the fire chief interrupted. “We know the cause of the fire. It was caused by a recently installed heating table. Some of the cable wiring possibly touched each other due to improper installation.”

Abbey shoved Brady away and stared at him, her eyes glinting with anger. “It was you. You said you knew how to install the heating table and I listened to you. You ruined my dream. Get away from me.”

“Abbey,” he tried to reach her. “There’s gotta be some mistake. Let me—”

“There was a mistake all right,” Abbey hissed.

“Hiring you and trusting you with my roses. Get out of here and never come back. I never want to see you
On Easter morning, Abbey pulled up to her floral shop, her heart heavy with grief. Feeling as if she had the weight of the world on her shoulders, she crossed the bridge to where her garden nursery had been. Even before she got there, the thick scent of smoke lingered, a pungent reminder of what had happened the night before.

She wanted the world to stop spinning. How could Brady have been so careless? How could she have been stupid enough to trust him? Somewhere deep in her subconscious, she knew she should have had an electrician install the heating table. So why hadn’t she listened? Because she’d been attracted to him and had been well on her way to falling in love with him. She recalled how infatuated she’d been only yesterday when she watched him touch the roses with such tenderness. And the kiss they’d shared last night. Tears spilled down her face at the memory.

She kicked her foot in the rubble and screamed at the top of her lungs. Sobs ripped through her until she couldn’t breathe. On Easter morning of all mornings, a time of rebirth and resurrection. Hurling herself on the bed of ashes where her nursery had been, she kicked and screamed, not caring if the world came crashing down on top of her.

Hearing footsteps behind her, she looked up and gasped. An old man with flowing white hair stood over
her, his gnarled body stiff and bent. He poked at her with his walking stick. “Get up, girlie,” he commanded. “Quit feeling sorry for yourself.”

“Who are you?” Abbey stood up and backed away. Other than the birds, there was no one around. She reached for her cell phone, only to remember it was in her purse in the car. Her heart pounded with adrenaline. “Who are you and where did you come from?”

“I’m not here to hurt you. I’m here to help.”

Abbey started across the bridge. She wanted to get far away from this nut. Who was he?


His words had a jarring effect. She turned around to see him rooting through the rubble with his cane. What was he doing, digging around in her dirt? Was he looking for money? Food? Was he homeless?

He looked at her without expression. “I’ve come to give you words of wisdom. When you find love,
hold on tight. Then find it in your heart to forgive. It’s all about forgiveness.”

Curious, Abbey joined him. The sun was peeking through the mountaintops and a shimmer of red caught her eye where the old man was probing with his cane. She got on her hands and knees and joined him, shoving the dirt and cinders aside with reverent fingers. There it was, the satiny red petals of a Lasting Love rose, buried beneath the rubble.

Tears of joy trickled down her face. Preserved beneath the ash and cinders was her favorite flower in the whole world, her Lasting Love rose. She kept digging, deeper and deeper, and before long, the entire bush and its brilliant red blossoms had resurrected. Not caring if the thorns cut her, she clutched the plant to her heart. Then she turned around to thank the old man, but he was gone. An icy chill went through Abbey as reality struck. A gaggle of bluebirds gathered on the railing, chirping sweetly to the sound of nature. Abbey looked up at the sky and… .

Lasting Love
An Easter story of love and forgiveness

Sharon Donovan
White Rose Publishing
Buy here:

Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith
see the book trailer

Sharon Donovan lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her family. Prior to the loss of her vision, she was a legal secretary for the Court of Common Pleas where she prepared cases for judges in Domestic Relations. Painting was her passion. When she could no longer paint, she began attending creative writing classes and memoir workshops. After a long and winding road, a new dream rose. Today, instead of painting her pictures on canvas, Sharon paints her pictures with words.
Sharon writes stories of inspiration and suspense. She has certificates in business and medical transcription. She is a published author with The Wild Rose Press, White Rose Publishing, Whimsical Publications and Chicken Soup for the Soul. Echo of a Raven is a CTRR recipient, and The Claddagh Ring is a CAPA nominee. To read excerpts and reviews of Sharon’s books and to sign up for her newsletter, visit her website:


White Rose Authors Chatting at Coffee Time Romance

You are invited to join Cindy K. Green, K.M. Daughters, Pamela S. Thibodeaux and me, Kara Lynn Russell at Coffee Time Romance for a chat on March 23rd, at 9:00 Eastern.

We will be talking about our books, our upcoming works, White Rose Publishing and whatever else comes to mind. So grab some coffee (or another beverage of your choice) and join us!

Cindy K. Green is our chat leader. (Thanks Cindy for scheduling this!) She will be sharing about her award winning novella Snow Kissed. Pamela Thibodeaux writes "inspirational with an edge" and will be talking about The Inheritance. K.M. Daughters will be discussing their wonderfully unique novels Jewel of the Adriatic and Rose of the Adriatic. I will be babbling on about my favorite fictional town Orchard Hill and my collection of stories set there.

It's quite possible you will bump into other White Rose Publishing authors and I hear there may be prizes. I hope we'll see you there.

Spring on the Horizon

The calendar says the first day of spring is coming and the robins have returned. The snow has retreated and green shoots are peeking up from the ground. In spring's honor I'm posting a poem by Emily Dickensen.


A lady red upon the hill
Her annual secret keeps;
A lady white within the field
In placid lily sleeps!

The tidy breezes with their brooms
Sweep vale, and hill, and tree!
Prithee, my pretty housewives!
Who may expected be?

The neighbors do not yet suspect!
The woods exchange a smile —
Orchard, and buttercup, and bird —
In such a little while!

And yet how still the landscape stands,
How nonchalant the wood,
As if the resurrection
Were nothing very odd!

Holy Week: Palm Sunday

It's Palm Sunday (Passion Sunday). Today begins the holiest week in the year. This is the week of our redemption. The week Jesus made salvation open to all. On this blog this week, we're going to put aside writing related issues, and each day, we'll post a short meditation. As we work our way towards Easter, lets take a few moments each day to remember why we call ourselves Christians.

I pray you all have a faith-filled and holy week that brings you closer to Christ.

“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" (Luke 19:38)

Today marks the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem to joyful cheers of," Hosannah." So many people loved him. So many had witnessed his miracles of healing and hope. The believed Jesus was the key to a better life--and they were right!

Let's take some time to focus on those things that will help us to strengthen the faith we have in Jesus' promises. Let's ask ourselves: Have we made improvements in our prayer life? Have we offered sacrifices to God? Have we given alms or service to those in need? Do we truly believe He is the Messiah enough to put ourselves and our understanding aside and fully rely in Him?

A Quickie Tip Sheet for Writing Romance

Components of a story:

A Hero
A Heroine
Hero's internal conflict
Heroine’s internal conflict
An external conflict
The denouement

Hero/Heroine – These are the two main characters in a romance novel. They must embody the good characteristics of what a hero and heroine should be. One or both can be showcased in each of their own points-of-view, or you can use one POV throughout the story. White Rose prefers not to use any but those two POVs, although exceptions can be made.

Internal Conflict - The hero/heroine must have an internal conflict - These are compelling emotions: grieving, a heavy responsibility, anger, a feeling of entrapment, a feeling of being torn apart, fear, loneliness, agonizing over the death of a wife, or child.

External conflict – There must be an external conflict - the standard is an obligation or promise to fulfill, a debt that must be repaid, a man/woman/child to protect, a fight over something, land, a gold mine etc. External conflict can take place throughout the book. This can be a means to get the hero/heroine together – on opposite sides of the fence, of course. Towards the end of the book, the external conflict must tear your hero/heroine apart. It must be of staggering proportions, enough to make it seem there's no hope of resolving the problem.

The Denouement - The last few chapters must deal with resolving the conflict and sending your hero/heroine off into the sunset, white hat straight and honor intact. They must be together by the end of the book.

Cliffhangers - You must end each chapter with a mini-cliffhanger. What is your goal? Keep that reader reading! End the chapter just as something is about to happen.

Emotions and senses - Your people are living, breathing human beings. They have five senses and plenty of emotions. Use those emotions and senses in the narrative. Describe what they are feeling, touching, tasting, smelling, hearing, seeing or getting a hunch about.

Narrative - This is the descriptive part of the story. You can do a better narrative, which won't be an intrusion to the reader, if you mix it with the emotions and senses. An example:

"She edged her hand along the canyon wall, the rock face snagging at her dress, the whisper of the tearing fabric seeming loud in the nocturnal sounds of the night."

Creating your story should encompass all the components above as you take your readers into the world of credible fiction.

Easter Is...

Does anyone remember the cartoon special Easter Is...? It was shown on television when I was a child. In recent years, our pastor used it as an aide to help my youngest daughter, who has Down syndrome, to understand communion.

A quick aside here about my daughter's first communion. She has a very sensitive gag reflex. When the pastor offered her the bread for the first time, she put it in her mouth, realized she wasn't going to be able to swallow it, spit it out and handed it back to the pastor. I was embarrassed but our wonderful pastor simply put the bread in her robe pocket and continued on.

Anyway, for some reason, I've been thinking about this cartoon with Easter fast approaching. For those who may not have seen or don't remember it, here's a quick summary from the DVD 3 Easter Classics at CBD.com - Easter Is — Benji must make a poster portraying the meaning of Easter. Frustrated for lack of good ideas, he pushes Waldo, his dog and pal, away. When Waldo later becomes lost, Benji's dad tells how the disciples thought they would never see Jesus again. In the end the good news of Easter is shared — that just as Waldo comes back to Benji on Easter morning, Jesus also returned!

Easter is... I've been trying to finish that sentence in my mind. There are many good endings to that from "the day I get a chocolate bunny in my Easter basket" to "the day Jesus returned, triumphant over death."

Where I live, in Wisconsin, there is generally still snow on the ground, especially when Easter is as early as it is this year. As people come into the church on Easter Sunday, they shed their heavy winter coats to reveal their colorful, new spring clothes. Easter is the time when we shed our mantle of sin and death and God reveals the new, vibrant life buried underneath.

As the weather warms, people come out of the houses where they hidden away all winter from the cold and snow. Yard work is being done. Gardens are being planted. flowers are beginning to grow and bud. Neighbors begin to talk again.

This all makes me think that Easter is...
The awakening
The renewing of relationships
The beginning...again.

Easter is...

Now it's your turn to finish the sentence.

Legends behind The Claddagh Ring


A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to visit Ireland, the home of my ancestry. The Emerald Isle is truly an enchanted land, full of legend and lore. Whimsical castles loom high above heathery mountains and rocky headlands, giving way to rolling green hills and miles of coppery beaches. And with the sheep grazing high on misty hillsides, it’s like stepping back in time to another era when life was much simpler.

A lot of writers come from Ireland, including James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wild. With its green hills and rugged landscape, major movies have been filled on the island. The Irish take great pride in pointing out the farmhouse on the Dingle Peninsula where Ryan’s Daughter was filmed. Inch Strand Beach, shaped like a sandy half moon, is one of the most remote parts of Ireland. But the best part of the trip was learning the legend of The Claddagh Ring, which has a rich history dating back three hundred years.

According to legend, the first Claddagh Ring originated in a small fishing port off the coast of Galway. Truly a land of legend and lore, the Irish are known to spin a wee bit of the blarney from time to time. Some say the ring was blessed by St. Patrick himself. Others believe the ring was dropped into the lap of a woman by an eagle. And others say the original Claddagh was brought to Galway by a man who was captured by the Algerians and sold to a Moorish goldsmith. But whatever the case, the legend of the Claddagh has lived for the past several centuries. And in today’s material world where love and marriage are taken far too lightly, the legend strengthens relationships. The wearer of the Claddagh is said to be blessed with love, friendship and loyalty forevermore.

But in order for the Claddagh to cast its mystical spell, the Claddagh must be worn a certain way. The design consists of two hands holding a heart with a crown on top of the heart. The hands represent friendship, the heart is for love, and the crown is for loyalty. If the ring is worn on the right hand with the heart facing outward, the wearer is looking for love. If worn on the left hand with the heart facing outward, the wearer has found love. But when worn on the left hand with the heart facing inward, the wearer has found its soulmate for life and will be forever blessed.

Being Irish and awed by the legend, I was inspired to write The Claddagh Ring. And while touring the Atlantic Breakers and the Cliffs of Moher, part of my book takes place in County Clare. The Breakers pound the west coast of the county, sculpting the grey limestone into a myriad of shapes, the most notorious, the Cliffs of Moher. A rich plethora of birdlife as puffins and shags crest on the cliffs, adding to the savage grandeur. Beneath the rocks, the waves have spread a thin dusting of golden sand, said to be sprinkled by angel wings. Standing on these cliffs with the wind on my back and the sun on my face, I was inspired to write The Claddagh Ring. Here is a blurb and excerpt:

“To live in the hearts we leave behind is to never die.” Thomas Campbell

Struggling with her faith after her mother’s death, Meghan O’Malley finds comfort
in wearing her Claddagh Ring, said to be blessed by St. Patrick. And when Meghan
meets Rork, she finds love, loyalty and friendship. But before everything comes full
circle, Meghan must face the biggest challenge of her life.
Rork McGuire is ruggedly handsome, sings Celtic music straight from his soul—and
has a deep secret. When he sees Meghan O’Malley tending bar at her club, he falls
hopelessly in love with her and wants to give her his heart. Will the secret he harbors
pull them together—or break them apart?
As Meghan mixed drinks from behind the bar of The Wild Irish Rose, the fiddle and
violin captured the true essence of Ireland. The tantalizing aroma of Irish stew,
corn beef and cabbage and soda bread wafted through the room.
Suddenly, all activity came to a halt as the eerie wail of bagpipes keened through
the bar. The lead singer took center stage with his rendition of Danny Boy, the haunting
lyrics crawling into Meghan’s skin. Mesmerized by his hypnotic blue eyes, she stopped
what she was doing and met his penetrating gaze. With the exception of her mother,
she’d never heard anyone pluck the strings of the harp with such finesse. The Claddagh
Ring on her right hand felt hot, the heart pressing into her skin. By the time the
song ended, Meghan’s green eyes were misty with tears.
“Well now, darlin’,” he touched her cheek. “If I knew Danny Boy would make you cry,
I’d a sung When Irish Eyes are Smiling.”
Meghan Shannon O’Malley lost herself in pools of midnight blue.
“I’m Rork,” the corners of his eyes crinkled when he smiled. He took her right hand
and kissed the heart on her ring. “Single and looking, are ya?”
“The Claddagh Ring, darlin’,” he kissed it again. “On your right hand with the heart
facing outward, means you’re single and looking for romance.”
“Ah…I have no idea what you’re talking about; it’s just a ring, a gift from my mother.”
“Ah, come on now, darlin’ girl,” he got a little closer, staring into her eyes. “Ya
can’t fool an Irishman. My mother bought one for each of my sisters. I’ll have ya
know they’re all married.”
Meghan felt lightheaded. “My mother gave me this ring the night before she died.
It’s a family heirloom, said to be blessed by St. Patrick himself. Mama promised
me by wearing the Claddagh, everything in my life would come full circle. So before
you go thinking I’m wearing it to find a husband, think again.”
“Do you believe in love at first sight?” his blue eyes seared into hers like lasers.
“What do ya say, Meghan, darlin’ girl of my heart.”
The Claddagh Ring Available Now!
To see the book trailer, visit my website:

Sharon Donovan
Romantic Suspense with a Twist of Faith

How to Grow a Step Garden

Items Needed:
Garden Tools--Love and patience
Flower Seeds--Each Child will bear their own distinct blossoms

1. Provide a space for the garden

God will provide a space for your step garden. Our garden was started December 30, 1979, when I married my soul mate and we combined our two families. Each of us had four children, making a full garden of eight distinct flowers. God truly blessed us.

2. Pull out all weeds and grass

The most important part of preparing the garden for growth is to remove obstacles. Knowing that there will be disagreements and jealousy, and accepting this as being normal is the first step. Allowing each individual to find their own part of the garden in which to grow will eliminate even the most stubborn of obstacles.

3. Turn over the soil and water.

Creating a new environment which is a unique blending of old and new will provide the fertile atmosphere for a successful garden.

4. Don't get the soil too wet.

Healthy doses of love are necessary, but be careful not to over saturate. Each child must be loved equally. Children are quick to know how to tip the sprinkling can to get too much love. The smart gardener needs to carefully sprinkle each plant in their garden with equal amounts of love.

5. Plant each seed in its own space.

Knowing that each child is a unique individual, and allowing them the freedom to develop will create a garden of beautiful blooms. You will have daisies, roses, marigolds, sunflowers, pansies and many other varieties. This truly is a miracle of love.

6. Check daily to make sure the soil is damp.

As your children grow, make sure their environment changes to accommodate their needs. You must allow them the space to make their own decisions, and teach them to live with their choices. Acceptance of their own, as well as other's faults, is vital. What one may see as a fault, another may see as a strength. Teach them tolerance, and give them the security of a loving haven.

7. Continual nurturing required.

Your garden will be eternal. New blossoms will take root and sprout into a new and unique bouquet. Continue to love and care for it, spreading sunshine and sprinkles of happiness throughout your life. Your garden will give back to you what you continue to sow!

In my book, JOSHUA'S HOPE, Hope Courtland risks her life to save her beloved stepson, Joshua. In this book, I sought to show the depths of my love for my own stepchildren. God bonds our family together, just as He bound Hope's new family. (Published by White Rose Publishing)

The March 9, 2010 Tuesday PROMPT

A prompt is a sentence or description that an author can use to build a story. I will post two prompts every Tuesday – a situational prompt and a phrase prompt. They will vary in length.

The situational prompt must use all the elements mentioned.

The phrase prompt must be used in the story at some point.

Every story must be a Christian romance and have a happy-ever-after.

If your story meets our guidelines, you could be our next White Rose published author!

You may submit your story at any time. When submitting, simply put PROMPT March 9, 2010 in the subject line. This week’s prompts must be 10,000 to 20,000 words.


Two puppies, a woman in hiding, a mysterious man, and a pair of pink polka dot pumps.


“Dead guys don’t usually show up for breakfast,” she said, staring at the very-much-alive man who stood in front of the pastry counter.

Lewis Carroll and George MacDonald

Last weekend Tim Burton's take on Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland was released in theaters. I thought that this may be a good time to bring up another author who was friends with Lewis and influential in the publication of Alice in Wonderland. That person is George MacDonald.

Although he is little heard of today, MacDonald was a very successful author in the latter half of the 19th century. According to the George MacDonald Informational Web: George MacDonald was one of the most respected authors of his generation in 19th century Scotland. He wrote over fifty books, nearly half of them novels for adults, along with some theological studies, several volumes of essays & criticism, a few volumes of poetry, and three best selling children's novels accompanied by a couple more volumes of fairytales. He wrote in nearly every literary genre. Although today much of his poetry and adult fiction would be considered rather prosaic, as C.S. Lewis pointed out, it was fantasy that he really excelled in. His only two fantasy novels written for adults--Phantastes and Lilith--are often spoken of as two of the best novels ever written in the English language. His three fantasy novels for children, The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and the Curdie, and At the Back of the North Wind are so strange and otherworldly that adults often enjoy them as much, or more, than children. The latter tale is still his best-selling book ever. Strangely though, it was his non-fantasy adult fiction that sold best throughout his lifetime."

George MacDonald and Lewis Carroll (a.k.a Charles Dodgson)were friends. He brought his manuscript of Alice's Adventures Underground to MacDonald and asked for his opinion on it. MacDonald gave it to his wife and had her read it to their children. The children heartily approved of it, of course.

Many of MacDonald's works are available on Project Gutenberg. I recommend The Princess and the Goblin, The Light Princess and Lilith. For a little taste of his work now, I'll leave you with a few of my favorite MacDonald quotes.

Love is the opener as well as closer of eyes.

You can't live on amusement. It is the froth on water - an inch deep and then the mud.

To have what we want is riches; but to be able to do without is power

Anything large enough for a wish to light upon, is large enough to hang a prayer upon.

Signs of Easter

I’m not really a flower person, maybe because I have a “black” thumb instead of green. Or maybe because today’s floral arrangements cost a small fortune and don’t last very long. But I do love the Easter Lily, the traditional sign of Easter, spring and renewed life. The lily has many legends associated with it, including ancient myths and symbols of Christianity.

In the early church, the lily was the sign of Annunciation and Resurrection. Relating to the creation story, legend says Eve’s tears grew lilies as she left Eden in disgrace. In the Garden of Gethsemane, lilies grew where Christ’s sweat fell and were deemed “white robed apostles of hope.”

Another legend says Mary’s tomb was found empty three days after her burial, filled only with white lilies. Another story said that lilies were always yellow in color until the virgin Mary stopped to pick one, and thereafter they were white. And white lilies bloomed in the locations that are dear to Christianity, not only Gethsemane but at the site of the Crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus.

Easter is the most holy time of year for Christians, and it’s rapidly approaching. What signs and symbols do you look for at Easter?

Candy, Anyone?

Easter Bunnies, Easter Baskets, candy…candy…candy…

This year, I’m thankful there are so many of these sweets around. It’s not that I want to eat it--well, perhaps that's not totally true--but rather what it reminds me of.

A few weeks ago at Church, a father relayed this true story; he was driving in his car with his son, who happened to have a teenaged size sweet tooth. In this young man’s pocket was a box of Jr. mints and every so often, he would pop one in his mouth. After a while, he turned to his dad and said, "Would you like a piece?"

With a sudden brain storm, the father turned to his son, "Sure."

The boy handed over his treasure and with that, the father rolled down the window and threw the candy out.

"What ya do that for?" the son demanded.

The wise father said, "You know, some times God gives us gifts as well. However, rather than enjoy them-we simply ignore them or throw them away."

I couldn’t get this man’s simple, spur-of-the-moment object lesson out of my mind. I though about it in relation to many aspects of my life, even my writing. Like this young man, sometimes I ignore and/or take for granted what God has entrusted to me. Worse than that, I realized that at times, I don’t even acknowledge that any gifts, abilities, and treasures I have are from God. I did nothing to earn them--it’s not about me, yet if I’m not careful, I find myself taking the glory. Oh, my foolish pride!

What would the world look like if His children didn’t ignore or abuse the gifts He’s given us, but offered them back to Him, giving Him the honor and glory? As we prepare for this Easter season, may our hearts be open to receive and acknowledge all the good gifts God has given us…starting with His Son, Jesus.

The next time you see a piece of candy, I hope you’ll think of this man’s story, and check your hearts window. What are you doing with the treasures God has given to you?

Candy, anyone?

Easter Bunnies, Easter Baskets, candy…candy…candy…

This year, I’m thankful there are so many of these sweets around. It’s not that I want to eat it--well, perhaps that's not totally true--but rather what it reminds me of.

A few weeks ago at Church, a father relayed this true story; he was driving in his car with his son, who happened to have a teenaged size sweet tooth. In this young man’s pocket was a box of Jr. mints and every so often, he would pop one in his mouth. After a while, he turned to his dad and said, "Would you like a piece?"

With a sudden brain storm, the father turned to his son, "Sure."

The boy handed over his treasure and with that, the father rolled down the window and threw the candy out.

"What ya do that for?" the son demanded.

The wise father said, "You know, some times God gives us gifts as well. However, rather than enjoy them-we simply ignore them or throw them away."

I couldn’t get this man’s simple, spur-of-the-moment object lesson out of my mind. I though about it in relation to many aspects of my life, even my writing. Like this young man, sometimes I ignore and/or take for granted what God has entrusted to me. Worse than that, I realized that at times, I don’t even acknowledge that any gifts, abilities, and treasures I have are from God. I did nothing to earn them--it’s not about me, yet if I’m not careful, I find myself taking the glory. Oh, my foolish pride!

What would the world look like if His children didn’t ignore or abuse the gifts He’s given us, but offered them back to Him, giving Him the honor and glory? As we prepare for this Easter season, may our hearts be open to receive and acknowledge all the good gifts God has given us…starting with His Son, Jesus.

The next time you see a piece of candy, I hope you’ll think of this man’s story, and check your hearts window. What are you doing with the treasures God has given to you?