Monday, October 27, 2014

October 2014 Movie Wrap-Up

By Andrea Renee Cox

October always signifies the changing of seasons for me. Daylight lessens, though it may still be H-O-T here in north Texas, and I always get sleepy earlier because of the shorter daylight hours. Thankfully, this year a few cool fronts moved through and put a little nippiness into many days this month.

In other news, October brought my first back-to-back proofreading jobs. Being paid to read—my favorite hobby—is a dream come true, and I’m grateful God has blessed me with the talent and passion for the work. I’m so grateful that He’s increasing my clientele by word of mouth. That’s the best advertising I know.

Here are a couple movies I saw this month that really resonated with me.


When a group of kids survives the genocide that wiped out their village, their bond intensifies and they journey (on foot!) across the continent of Africa to find a safe place to live. After living in a refugee camp for many years, they finally get the opportunity to go to the United States. But when they get there, they are told the only female of the group must go to a different part of the country than the guys. After all they went through in their lives, this proves to be too much. One of the men makes it his mission to reunite his family, no matter what it may cost him.

I had heard of their story several years ago when I picked up a book called The Journey of the Lost Boys. I didn’t purchase it then, but I thought their story was incredible. Seeing it up on the big screen proved that I was correct. The neatest thing about the movie (besides the awesomeness of the story itself) was that the main characters were all portrayed by folks who had been refugees or child soldiers in Africa. They did a wonderful job, and now I know why. They had already lived the story once. All they had to do was recall those memories and feelings and live them out once again, this time to be captured on film. This truly is an amazing film that will find a spot on my shelves as soon as it releases on BluRay.


When a sports agent loses his last hope of signing a big-name client, he’s got to think outside the box in order to save his business. So, he goes to India to turn cricket players into baseball pitchers. Daunting task as it is, he recruits a little help and heads off on a journey that changes his life forever.

Although I wasn’t a fan of the soundtrack to this movie (I don’t like rap music), I still loved the story. I’m a sports fan (NBA and NHL are my favorites, followed by lacrosse and volleyball), so I watch almost any sports movie that comes around. (See this post for my favorite football movie of all time.) This one was interesting because it took guys out of what they knew and into something they didn’t know anything about.

That resembles my faith more than I realized. Before I became a Christian, I didn’t know what having faith and being born again meant at all. I heard the Bible stories in Sunday School and big church, but until Jesus opened my eyes to the fact that I was a sinner, I didn’t understand what it was all about. But then He showed me that I was a liar. I lied all the time, and my family and friends never knew when to believe me. I remember getting called out on this once when I was seven years old and, backing up against the wall, feeling like the room was caving in on me. Jesus confronted me, which was the most incredible feeling. My parents were in the room across from me, but at that point, it was like I could only see Jesus standing between them and me (it was more like I could sense His presence there). Like He was the one telling me I was in the wrong, instead of my parents. That’s when I told Him I didn’t want to live that way anymore. I didn’t want to tell lies. I wanted my family to be able to believe me. So, in that very moment, I asked Jesus to enter my heart and change my life. Ever since then, I’ve been living for Him, and let me tell you, He did change my life in so many ways over the years. I now don’t lie. I sometimes have trouble with exaggeration, but I’m working on it because stretching the truth is too close to telling lies for my comfort. I used to be a pessimist, but now I’m an optimistic encourager. God has changed my life. Have you allowed Him to change yours yet?

Readers, how has faith played a part in your life? When you struggle to overcome your faults, how does God reveal His great love for you?

Books have always been a passion for Andrea Renee Cox. She can't remember a time when she didn't have one nearby. While reading them for pleasure remains her favorite hobby, she now also writes them, learning more about the craft with each new manuscript she completes. Since grammar was her favorite subject in school, it makes sense that she'd combine that with her favorite hobby and become a professional proofreader, as well.

Thanks for stopping by today! I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below. And don’t forget to drop by next Monday for my latest article.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Be My Guest: Carrie Turansky

Hello friends! Today, I welcome Carrie Turansky back to Writing to Inspire. Last time she was here, she shared with us about the setting for The Governess of Highland Hall. This time around, she's got a neat article for us about something the lead character deals with in the next book in her Edwardian Brides series, The Daughter of Highland Hall. Happy reading!

A Guide to Edwardian Courtship
By Carrie Turansky, author of The Daughter of Highland Hall

When eighteen-year-old Kate Ramsey travels to London with her family to make her debut into society, her main goal is to meet the right young man and secure a marriage proposal by the end of the season. Her overbearing aunt insists her future husband must be a wealthy young man who is in line to inherit his father's title and estate. When Kate meets Edward Wellington, she thinks he may be the man she has been looking for. But as she gets to know Jonathan Foster, a handsome medical student and strong Christian who is determined to protect the poor and vulnerable in London's East End, Kate’s not sure which man should win her heart.

Kate has spent months preparing for the season and learning all that’s expected of her. Understanding the “rules of courtship” for men and women was part of her training. Here is some of the interesting advice given to guide young men and women during courtship in the Edwardian Era in England.

1. When walking with a lady, the gentleman takes the protective position closest to the street. Leave her the inner side of the pavement. - Beadle’s Dime Book of Etiquette

2. No gentleman should permit a lady, whom he likes, but does not love, to mistake for one hour the nature and object of his intentions. Women may have some excuse for coquetry; but a man has none. - From The Illustrated Manners Book

3. Neither party should try to make the other jealous for the purpose of testing his or her affection. Such a course is contemptible; and if the affections of the other are permanently lost by it, the offending party is only gaining his or her just deserts. - Our Deportment

4. Remember: passion can make a person blind to faults. It is important to note that a man of refined taste and a good education would not find that degree of happiness were he united to a course, vulgar and uncultivated female. A Lady of polished education and of fine accomplishments would feel miserable in having to pass her days in the company of a boorish, rude, and ignorant husband. – The Etiquette of Love and Courtship, a Guide for Romantics

5. In public a gentleman should show constant attention to his intended, and neither in company nor elsewhere should he flirt with any other lady. On the other hand, he should avoid, even to his bride-elect, those marked attentions and endearments that would excite in strangers a smile of ridicule. – Cassell’s Handbook of Etiquette

6. When traveling with a lady, always carry her bag and assist her in and out of the trains. Your behavior is on its mettle under these circumstances, and traveling is very apt to be like a mustard plaster, bringing out both the good and evil attributes of a man. – The Complete Bachelor: Manners for Men

7. A man should never make a declaration of love in a jesting manner. It is most unfair to a lady. He has no right to trifle with her feelings for mere sport, nor has he a right to hide his own meaning under the guise of a jest.  – Our Deportment

8. As to the gentleman, it will be well for him also to watch carefully as to the disposition of the lady and her conduct in her own family. If she be attentive and respectful to her parents, kind and affectionate toward her brothers and sisters, not easily ruffled in temper and with inclination to enjoy the pleasures of home; cheerful, hopeful and charitable in disposition, then may he feel, indeed, that he has a prize before him well worth the winning.

If, however, she should display a strong inclination towards affectation and flirtation; be extremely showy or else careless in her attire, frivolous in her tastes and eager for admiration, he may rightly conclude that very little home happiness is to be expected from her companionship. - Social Etiquette: or, Manners and Customs of Polite Society

About Carrie Turansky

Carrie Turansky
Carrie Turansky is an award-winning author of more than a dozen novels and novellas. She has written contemporary and historical romances, women's fiction, short stories, articles, and devotionals. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, Scott, and they have five adult children and four grandchildren.

About The Daughter of Highland Hall

What if the title, the estate, the life of security and splendor… what if it isn’t enough?
Strong-willed and beautiful, debutante Katherine Ramsey feels ready to take the London social season by storm, and she must. Her family estate, Highland Hall, has been passed to older male cousin, Sir William Ramsey, and her only means of securing her future is to make a strong debut and find a proper husband. With her all-knowing and meddling aunt as a guide, Katherine is certain to attract suitors at the lavish gatherings, sparkling with Great Britain’s elite.
When a shocking family scandal sidelines Katherine, forcing her out of the social spotlight, she keeps a low profile, volunteering with the poor in London’s East End. Here Katherine feels free from her predictable future, and even more so as a friendship with medical student Jonathan Foster deepens and her faith in God grows. But when Katherine is courted anew by a man of wealth and position, dreams of the life she always thought she wanted surface again. Torn between tradition and the stirrings in her heart for a different path, she must decide whom she can trust and love—and if she will choose a life serving others over one where she is served.

This series has made me a fan of Carrie Turansky. With interesting characters, a great plot line, and faith finely woven into the story, The Daughter of Highland Hall is one of the best stories I've read all year. For more of my thoughts on the book, be sure to check out my honest review.
Carrie, thank you for once again being my guest here on Writing to Inspire. It's always a pleasure. Have fun writing the third installment of your Edwardian Brides series. I look forward to reading it next autumn!

Readers, since Carrie Turansky shared about Edwardian courtship, let's discuss relationships. How did your romance begin? What have you learned along the way about sustaining a meaningful relationship? What advice would you give to someone still searching for the love of their life?
Thanks for stopping by today! I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below. And don’t forget to drop by next Monday for my latest article.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

New Experience, Great Blessings

By Andrea Renee Cox

This past Friday evening was groundbreaking for me. I’ve still got chills from how exciting it was, and what an incredible blessing!

What was it, you ask?

It was my first ever NBA game.

That’s right. I’ve finally attended a Dallas Mavericks game. I’ve been a devoted fan since Dirk Nowitzki came into the league sixteen years ago, although other hobbies have taken over from time to time. (Namely, reading books and writing them.) Not only did I get to see the Mavs play, but their opponent was my second favorite team, the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Russell Westbrook going up for an
unconventional layup.
Kevin Durant shooting a free throw.
Even though it was a preseason game, it was quite entertaining and so close in score up until the very end. Since I watch as many Mavs games and Thunder games on television as my cable package delivers, I was pretty familiar with the two teams and their players. It still surprised me, though, at how quick OKC’s Russell Westbrook is off the dribble. He kicks it up a notch so swiftly, I never could get my timing right to get a great action picture of him with my camera. Kevin Durant is just as tall as he appears on TV, and I just adore that little shoulder wiggle he does when he prepares to shoot free throws. His talent for the game is real, folks. He may seem like an awkward teenager at times, with those lanky limbs of his, but he really shines when he’s running a play out there on the court. And when he sits on the bench, it’s like having another coach. He’s constantly cheering on his teammates and giving them little encouragements and instructions when he notices areas they could improve. It was neat to see these guys in action, playing the sport I enjoy watching at home so much. (As I was doing a little research for the details of this article—injuries to report and such—I found out on that Kevin Durant discovered he had a fracture in his right foot during Saturday’s practice. The injury will keep him out until mid to late November or even early December. This means we were extra blessed to see him play on Friday.)

Chandler Parsons
shooting a three-pointer.
I was excited to see Chandler Parsons in person. He played with Houston his first three seasons in the league, and I’ve admired his talent from his rookie season. Dallas acquired him in the offseason. He brings great three-point shots to the Mavs, along with high energy and great play around the basket. He wasn’t as on track with his shots Friday night as I expect him to be once the regular season begins. I kind of expected a time of transition, though, in which he’ll get to know his new teammates and the way Coach Rick Carlisle runs his team. I’m sure, given time, Parsons will work the kinks out of his game and rain in those three-pointers.

Gal Mekel getting open for a pass.
Another of my favorite NBA guys plays for the Mavericks: Gal Mekel, from Israel. He got in the game partway through the third quarter, which, of course, had me pulling my camera back out. This is his second year in the league, and he’s very fun to watch. He reminds me of J.J. Barea, who helped the Mavs win their only championship to this point. They both bring a spunky scramble type of play to the game that is treasured (or at least should be) by teams who vie for the league’s championship trophy each year. Hopefully Mekel will get more playing time this year than he did last season.

The American Airlines Center.
The atmosphere at American Airlines Center was incredible. Though the crowd didn’t fill the stadium (due to being a preaseason game, I’m sure), we did still get pretty loud. A tight score against a great opponent will produce that kind of energy in the AAC every time. During timeouts, the cheerleaders, mascots, drumline, and Mavs Maniaacs kept the entertainment rolling. The food was delicious (I had the sausage pizza and breadsticks; definitely recommend them). The neat thing about the gift shop is that they had Mavs gear and Dallas Stars gear. That’s because the Stars play NHL hockey in the same stadium as the Mavericks play basketball. The hardwood floor is laid atop the ice surface (I’m not certain of the details of how that’s done). Unfortunately, the prices were so high, I couldn’t afford to get Stars gear along with the Mavs stuff I purchased. I figure I can get some if I ever make it to a Stars game. That would be amazing as I started watching them pretty devotedly last season. (Their season just started up this last week, and I’m so excited to see how well they play this year.)

Mavs Drumline.
Mavs Maniaacs.

There were a few disappointments in the game Friday night, as there so often is throughout life. (Don’t get me wrong. Even with these very minor disappointments, I still enjoyed every second of the experience, and I’m still grinning about it… three days later.) Nick Collison did not play for the Thunder. I’ve been a fan of his and Kevin Durant’s since they both played with the Seattle SuperSonics. Maybe eventually I can make it up to Oklahoma City to see Nick and Kevin play in their home stadium. That’d be pretty awesome. And very loud! (They’re one of the loudest crowds in the league.)

Raymond Felton being helped off the court.
Another disappointment was Raymond Felton getting hurt shortly after coming into the game. He’s new to the Mavericks this season, and I hate to see him go down with an ankle sprain. It shouldn’t keep him out too long, as guys bounce back from sprains pretty quickly these days, but I just saw an article on that says he’s suspended for the first four regular season games for a gun charge. I’m not happy to hear about that charge but will be glad when he can rejoin the team.

Monta Ellis was out with a sprained left knee (, and Dirk Nowitzki was out with a hip contusion ( Of course, any time you get the chance to attend a Mavericks game, you hope to see Dirk play. Not seeing him play, well, that’s just motivation to attend another game when my budget allows. It’s a few days after the game, and I’m still excited about it, so I’m pretty sure I won’t mind too much having to go back again in order to see my favorite player of all time.

Dirk Nowitzki.
The last disappointment was the final score (although, since I’m a fan of both teams, I got over this quickly). The Thunder beat the Mavericks 118 to 109. The home team loss couldn’t take away the magic of the game, and I know both teams will improve as preseason and the regular season progress. I look forward to their next matchup.

Now, I’ve saved the best for last. My favorite part of the evening was spending it with my sister, Kristy, and my friend, Amanda, and her mom, Martha. Going to an NBA game was a first for all four of us, which I think made the night even more special. We could all experience it for the first time together. Since we couldn’t see Dirk play, and since we all enjoyed the atmosphere and pace of the game, we’ve decided we should plan to attend another Mavs game sometime this season. The NBA is my favorite sport to watch, so I’ll love to have another opportunity to enjoy a wonderful game with such great people. Ladies, thank you so much for a fantastic evening. I enjoyed every minute of it, even when that wall of water hit us in the thunderstorm on the drive home (praise God for keeping us safe!). Although, I’m glad we all agreed we shouldn’t repeat that particular part of the journey.
My friend, Amanda, and her mom, Martha.
Photo courtesy of Amanda Hodge.
Me and my sister, Kristy.
Back when the Mavericks won the championship in 2011, I bought a shirt commemorating the occasion. Since I attended a Mavs game (finally!), I decided to buy some more Mavs gear. Here’s a couple of pictures of my new shirts.
Me sporting my new Mavericks shirt and a
head wrap I got from Eco Shag on

Me sporting my new Dirk Nowitzki jersey.

The back view of my new Dirk Nowitzki jersey.
That pretty much wraps up my first NBA game ever. I’m so glad I could share my experience with you, readers, although I know my words are inadequate to give you a real sense of how amazing the whole trip was. I keep thanking God for allowing me the opportunity to see the Mavericks (and Thunder) play in person. Who am I, that He would bless me like this? Thank You, Lord, for Your numerous blessings upon my life.

*All photos courtesy of Andrea Renee Cox, unless otherwise stated. None of the photos in this article may not be copied or used in any fashion without written permission from their owners.

Readers, now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite “first time” experience? What was it that made the experience so special?

Thanks for stopping by today! I look forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment section below. And don’t forget to drop by next Monday for my latest article.

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Monday, October 6, 2014

All My Belongings

By Andrea Renee Cox

What happens when your troublesome past mashes down the replay button?

That’s the question looming before Jayne Dennagee in Cynthia Ruchti’s All My Belongings. Once her father’s reputation bars her pursuit of a nursing career, Jayne changes her name and moves halfway across the country in an attempt to start fresh. But when her past comes tripping after her, will the footing she’s gained with her new friends be ripped apart and leave her wondering yet again if she’ll ever belong anywhere?

Cynthia Ruchti (pronounced ROOK-tee) presents a heart-gripping story wrapped up in the life of a caregiver. Each chapter brings new heartache for the lead female, a testament to the author’s talent for digging deep and laying her heart on the line. I always appreciate that in a good book. When you can see how much the author poured out in the writing … it makes you care all the more about the characters and their journey.

Cynthia Ruchti
My favorite of all the characters in All My Belongings was Aurelia Hughes. Though she was fading from life, she still retained her spunk and humor. I especially enjoyed this line of hers: “I’ve got a scream could peel paint off the Titanic, you know.” Isn’t that a hoot? It’s characters like her that make books memorable … and keep me coming back for more stories from the author.

You may connect with author Cynthia Ruchti at her website: She’ll be thrilled to hear what you thought of her novel. Be sure to stop by and let her know!

I received a copy of this book as a courtesy from the author, via the ACFW book club (Yahoo! group). This is my honest review.

Readers, has there ever been a time in your life when you felt like you didn’t belong? What did you do to overcome that feeling and gain confidence? Any advice for others struggling with this problem?

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