Archive for December, 2013

Today’s Writers’ Tip: Meet the Author Edna  Waidell Cravitz


Edna’s Day Job

While Edna Cravitz has dabbled in writing over the years, she has had a busy life in Snyder County, Pennsylvania. She tells us, “I am a retired elementary school teacher and taught all grades from kindergarten through fifth grade. Currently, I am living in the beautiful Susquehanna Valley with my husband. I have two children, two step-children, two dogs—and this is the best part—two grandbabies!”

Edna’s Writing Interest Has Roots in her Childhood

When talking about her love for writing, Edna says, “I have had a love for reading and writing since I was a small child.  I remember walking to the public library on a regular basis when I was just in the second grade. I grew up in a coal town in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. Things were different back then. Children walked everywhere, played outside (a lot!) and could safely walk to the library to get their hands on those great books—for free! I even remember my favorite book back then was about a kitten. The librarian had kept it on hold for me. How special was that! And so, my love for reading, especially for picture books, developed way back then.”

Life Experiences Have Inspired Edna’s Writing

“Write what you know!”

Edna says, “My real life  experiences volunteering at a soup kitchen and growing up in a coal town poured out of me when I wrote One Special Christmas Charm. The story centers around a young teenage girl who wants a charm bracelet just like all of the other girls. Even just one charm will do, but Maggie gets books, school supplies…and underwear for her presents!  And to top things off, she has to volunteer at the Soup Bowl with her mother on Christmas morning. But at the Soup Bowl, Maggie experiences the true meaning of giving and compassion and learns that a ‘special charm’ is not the kind that you wear on a gold bracelet.”

Edna Has Another Passion

In addition to writing stories, storytelling is another one of her passions. “There’s nothing like mesmerizing a group of children with a great story,” she says. “When I taught fifth grade, I founded a fifth grade storytelling troupe which was open to any and all in that grade. The children combined storytelling with creative dramatics and had the time of their lives. Wow! What a great self-esteem builder! Now when I see my students all grown up, they still mention the storytelling troupe.”

Edna Has a “Unique” Pastime

So what else does this proactive grandma do to make life interesting? “I am also a Cloverleaf Clogger,” she tells me, “and you can see me kicking up my heels at local street fairs and festivals. Clogging and storytelling give me a fabulous background to draw upon when writing stories for kids. Speaking of kids, look for my story, 100 Things, in the February 2014 issue of Highlights.”

Thank you, Edna, for sharing some of your interests and passions with us today.

“Thank you, Marsha and readers. I’m sure that you will find your very own ‘special charm’ during this glorious holiday season.”



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Today’s Writers’ Tip: Meet the Author Beth Westcott


           Beth, her silly hubby Frank, and one of our “duckie” friends at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference

One of the sweetest gals I’ve ever had the privilege to know is Beth Westcott, a pastor’s wife, whom I met years ago at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference in Montrose, PA. Beth has been writing for quite a few years. Let’s get to know a little bit about her:

Beth Says Hi

“I trust you had a blessed Christmas and will have a joyous New Year,” she says. “May you hold the true meaning of Christmas in your hearts all year long.”

Her Roots

“I grew up on a farm,” Beth tells us. “Like many pre-teen girls, I loved horses. While the other group of girls ran screaming around the playground at school with a bunch of boys chasing them, the group I belonged to galloped and whinnied around as wild horses. Sometimes in real life, I had the opportunity to ride with friends, and my oldest sister owned a horse. I must confess I was never completely comfortable around horses. The idea for ‘Sadie and the Princess’ grew from my oldest granddaughter’s interest in horses.”

Beth’s Life Besides Writing:

The mother of three and grandmother of five (and one on the way), she has been in ministry with her pastor husband for more than thirty years. She enjoys teaching the Bible to children and women and enjoys music, sewing, and, of course, reading.

What Sparked Her Interest in Writing?

“My passion for writing began in second grade with a little poem about a lamb and a puppet play in third grade. I began writing seriously when I decided I needed to prepare for the empty nest after my children left home. It has been a journey of challenge and reward.”Beth.Reading

Thanks, Beth for a glimpse into your busy and fulfilling life!

Watch for Beth’s story to be posted soon on

Amazon and B & N


“Sadie and the Princess”

More than anything in the world, Sadie Rose Collins wishes for a horse of her own. She thinks and dreams about horses all the time. Her parents say no, they can’t afford a horse, and Sadie figures God is too busy to listen to her prayer for a horse.

Then one day, Sadie sees a shaggy gray horse grazing in a neighbor’s pasture. “If you were my horse,” Sadie whispers, “I would brush you until you shine, and I’d ride you every day.” Assuming the worst about the horse’s owner, Sadie decides she must rescue this horse.

But how? Will her parents help her in her mission? Or maybe her best friend, Sasha, has an idea?

When Sadie learns that Sasha’s Aunt Amiya rescues neglected and abused horses, she decides this may be her best chance to have a horse of her own.


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Today’s Writers’ Tip: Meet the Author Brenda K. Hendricks

Hendricks. Promo Photo


How does Brenda spend a lot of her time when she’s not writing? Brenda says, “Although I enjoy writing, painting has always been my first love. I started with crayon hieroglyphics on my mother’s kitchen walls as a child. A few years ago, I painted a mural on the church wall. That’s progress. Someone once paid me to paint a portrait of Charlie Pride (yes, the singer) on velvet no less. I was also commissioned to do a wildlife painting while at a hunting lodge in Maine. Good thing, too, because my husband was caught speeding on the way home and the fee for the painting covered the cost of the fine with enough left over to buy a new washing machine when we got home.”

Besides painting….

“My days are filled with caring for my elderly mother, encouraging, counseling, and praying for friends, peers, and my sisters and brothers in Christ. I also care for my grandchildren whenever needed. I have combined my love for painting and my desire to encourage others on my blogs—My Quotes of Encouragement and Brenda K. Hendricks. I also have written and illustrated three children’s picture books. On October 11, 2013, Two Small Fish Publications released my newest picture book entitled Much More to Christmas. View it here: http://www.amazon.com/Much-More-Christmas-Brenda-Hendricks/dp/0982658257/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386651695&sr=8-1&keywords=much+more+to+Christmas ”

Soon to be released by Helping Hands Press:

Darkness Before Dawn – a short story in MARSHA HUBLER’S HEART-WARMING HORSE STORIES Collection

What’s the story about?

The one thing fourteen-year-old Dawn Williams enjoys most in life, other than simply spending every free moment with her registered Palomino gelding Sundance, is horseback riding with her mother, Sharon Williams. Dawn has planned a surprise, all-day ride for her and her mother. However, Dawn isn’t the only one eager to spring a surprise on the entire family.

Dawn’s father, Doug Williams, decides to take everyone on a four-day vacation…a vacation that excludes horses and ruins Dawn’s all-day ride with her mother.

When tragedy turns the vacation into a living nightmare, Dawn unleashes her anger, frustration, and guilt on the one who could help her through it—Sundance.


Sly’s Christmas Surprise – a short story in MARSHA HUBLER’S HEART-WARMING CHRISTMAS STORIES Collection

What’s this story about?

Despite his aversion for the Christmas giving/getting scene, seventeen-year-old Samuel Lee Yeager, a.k.a. Sly, agrees to deliver presents to disadvantaged families for his mother. At his second stop, Sly meets Evie, a twelve-year-old girl suffering from alopecia totalis—a disease that causes total baldness. Concern sends his mind reeling with an idea to get her a wig for Christmas. But he’ll need his friends’ help.

Although Sly’s buddies agree to the scheme, a fist fight at the gym and a mouth battle at home squelch Sly’s enthusiasm for the project. But it’s too late. His buddies have started the ball rolling.

Will Sly rejoin the Wig for Evie Campaign or will he stick to his principles and miss the thrill of discovering the true spirit of Christmas?

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Today’s Writers’ Tip: Meet the Author Shirley Leonard


Shirley (third from left) with writer friends at the Montrose Christian Writers Conference, Montrose, PA


Shirley Says Hi!

Christmas greetings to book lovers and caregivers everywhere. I’m excited to announce my inclusion in the on-line compilation: Marsha Hubler’s Heart Warming Christmas Stories, to be online soon. Watch for my story, “The Christmas Letters” on Amazon and B&N in the near future.

What’s the Story About?

“It was 1967 and we were so young and so in love and so—broke. Christmas was coming soon, and I started to panic. What in the world could I give my parents that first Christmas after our wedding?”

This is the last Christmas that Rose Thomas will spend in her farmhouse before the move to assisted living. Teen granddaughter, Abby, has come to help her sort and pack. Rose is filling her with good food and good memories. The Christmas season has a way of calling up deep emotion and long-forgotten memories.

Sometimes the heart tugs with joy or nostalgia, but sometimes pain surfaces and demands to be dealt with. In this work of fiction, loosely based on real life, we take a journey with three generations of women to places of the heart.

Before the week is out, Abby’s mom and aunts join in as Rose leads them on a trip down memory lane that takes each of them to surprising places.

More about Shirley:

Shirley Leonard is a graduate of the Christian Writers Guild. Her devotionals have appeared in the Secret Place, the Quiet Hour, Devotions, and Penned from the Heart. Her short story, “Unexpected Shift,” appeared in Live, and she’s published articles in Women Alive, Pennsylvania, and American Window Cleaner magazines. Her first book, With Each Passing Moment: Help and Hope for Caregivers, was published by Sonfire Media in 2012.

Shirley’s caregiving experience spans four decades as a pastor’s wife, including twenty years of nursing home ministry. After several years of taking care of her parents, she gained a new perspective on the needs of those she’d ministered to earlier. With Each Passing Moment is her story—a devotional memoir that reaches out to other caregivers—a story of finding help and hope in the Lord at a time when her human abilities and resources were exhausted.

For more information visit Shirley’s web page at  shirleysscene.com or look for the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or order directly from her at sleonard16@comcast.net for an autographed copy.



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Today’s Writers’ Tip: Meet the Author Carolyn Oravitz


Carolyn and her Hubby

Hi and a very Merry Christmas! My name is Carolyn Oravitz and I am a writer, teacher, and artist. I naturally fell into a life as a writer since I came from a family of writers. My father had a degree in journalism, my mother wrote beautiful poetry, my sister writes for newspapers and magazines, my brother has co-written books on philosophy, and my son has written for his college publications and newspapers. I have written for publications for the past ten years including the Independent NEPA Magazine where I have the opportunity to meet and work with very talented writers and artists.

I am enjoying my most recent project writing Literature Guides for Helping Hands Press. As a certified elementary and secondary English teacher with years of teaching experience, I love working with children’s literature. Let’s face it. Writers are also readers! I am working on a series of Literature Guides for grades three to twelve that I promise will be most helpful as supplementary materials for homeschoolers as well as students needing something a little extra in the literature discipline in public and private schools.

Please feel free to contact me at carolyno@frontiernet.net.


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Today’s Writers’ Tip: Meet the Author Michelle Trostle


The smell of fresh pine filling our home.  The glow of the lit tree in a dark room.  The manger scene carefully placed in full view.  The squeals of delight from our nieces.  The knowledge that God, who is greater than I can imagine, sent His only Son to earth so I might be reunited with Him.   These are just a few of the things that make the Christmas season magical to me.

There are so few things that bring wonder in our fast-paced, productivity-driven culture.  I am a firm believer that learning opportunities for our children should be filled with magical moments.  Whether school is a building across town or a room down the hall, learning should be more magical and less chore.  It is out of this desire to share the magic of learning that I created the Wondering About Weather learning series. Wondering About Rain, the first unit in the Wondering About Weather learning series, is a 39-page magical journey in which two students, Tress Preston and Hannah Helper, travel across the globe under the guidance of Professor C. Cristata in search of answers to their questions about rain. The activities and story in Wondering About Rain are designed to address the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts while teaching content aligned with the National Science Teachers Association: Next Generation Science Standards. The unit concludes with a short Adventure Quiz, testing the student’s grasp of the concepts taught in the unit.  Watch for Wondering About Rain coming soon to Amazon.

My love of education prompted me to become a certified teacher, reading specialist, and school administrator.  I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Masters of Education in Reading and Language Arts.  During my career in public education, I worked with students and teachers in kindergarten through twelfth grade.  Writing educational materials allows me to use my experiences and knowledge to the benefit of a larger audience.

When I’m not working, I like to spend time with family and friends, crochet, and garden.  I volunteer at my church by coordinating Sunday morning singing for children in grades one through five and teaching classes for adults on Wednesday evenings.  I also volunteer with Bunny People, a no-kill rabbit shelter.  One of my goals is to own an angora rabbit and learn to spin yarn from the harvested wool of the rabbit.  Did you know that angora wool is ten times warmer than sheep wool?  I didn’t!  But I am sure looking forward to the hat I’m planning to crochet.

Follow me on twitter @TrostleMichelle and Like my page on Facebook www.facebook.com/trostlestreasures .

May your Christmas be filled with magical moments.

Author Michelle Trostle

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Today’s Writers’ Tip: Meet the Author Roberta Brosius


Again, we’re going to take a break from our study of fiction plots to visit with a Helping Hands Press author, who has a fantastic tween/YA novel on Amazon. Ask me if teacher and author Roberta Brosius lives in the fast lane.

“Hey, everyone,” she says, “this is a very different kind of Christmas season for me, as I’m recovering from TWO broken ankles. So I haven’t been inside any malls to enjoy the decorations, but on the other hand I’m avoiding the frustration of shopping in crowds of people. I’ve been keeping up with friends online and participating in the best aspect of Facebook:  The world’s largest ongoing prayer meeting.”

October 23 was the release date for the e-book of Roberta’s debut novel, Surviving Meemaw, (http://www.amazon.com/Surviving-Meemaw-Roberta-Brosius-ebook/dp/B00G5FXB64/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386276137&sr=8-1&keywords=surviving+meemaw), and she’s looking forward to the print edition coming soon.

In Surviving Meemaw, high school senior Laney Odell thinks her life is messed up enough. She’s had to leave her boyfriend, her best friend, and Arkansas to move in with Meemaw, her Pennsylvania grandmother. Meemaw wears garishly colored clothing, drives like a maniac in her yellow PT Cruiser, and directs a team of puppeteers, making her a minor celebrity in town and a major embarrassment to Laney.

To make matters worse, Meemaw enrolls Laney in tiny Millburgh Christian Academy and agrees to teach Puppetry in exchange for Laney’s tuition. Though uncomfortable with the strict, religious atmosphere, Laney’s excited by the attention cute, artistic, funny Calvin Berger gives her. Calvin is nothing like bland, boring, brotherly Joshua Gold, one of Meemaw’s puppeteers, who hangs out in Laney’s kitchen after puppet shows.

Will Laney adapt to a new life with her quirky grandmother and finally process the tragic event that sent her there? I hope you enjoy finding out as you read the book.

Roberta’s day job is teaching Bible to high school students at Watsontown Christian Academy, using curricula she has written. She’ also involved in the Puppet Team there. She’s been published in the Secret Place (Judson Press quarterly devotional) and two Barbour anthologies, as well as other magazines and newspapers. You can follow Roberta’s blog (wit, words, & the Word) at www.robertabrosius.blogspot.com, as she participates in an Advent challenge to blog each day through December 25.

Have two broken ankles slowed down Roberta? Well, maybe for a short while, but this gal’s always on the move and always has been an active author. “I have also written two musical plays, one based on the blind man in John 9, and the other based on the book of Ruth. Anyone interested in producing an off-off-off Broadway play? Contact me at robertabrosius@yahoo.com.”

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Dec. 6, 2013



Merry Christmas, readers! Just for an extra treat, over the next few days and/or weeks, some Helping Hands Press authors will be dropping by, maybe just to wish you a Merry Christmas, maybe to fill you in on their latest published works or soon-to-be-published works, maybe just to chat a little.

The PorchWe’re going to start today with a greeting from Patti Souder, the director of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference,  Montrose, PA, held every fourth week in July. This year, the conference will celebrate its 25th anniversary. Patti has written, co-authored, or contributed to 14 published books and has written and directed numerous plays and musicals. One of her special delights is creating tightly scripted drama sketches that bring Bible characters to life by using rhyme, rhythm, irony, and humor. The sketches touch people from many different cultures and generations and can be used effectively as dramatic readings or performances for small groups, marriage weekends, youth activities, and special programs as well as in worship settings. The drama sketches can be found at www.AlphaStarDrama.com.

Patti also enjoys speaking at conferences and banquets and singing with church and choral groups. She earned an MA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University and an RN from the Geisinger Medical Center School of Nursing and was active as a nurse for over twenty years. She is married to Larry Souder, President of the Montrose Broadcasting Corporation, with whom she co-hosts a daily radio program. Larry and Patti have three children and six Patti.Th.Nightgrandchildren, all of whom are joy-bringers. Her latest published work is a short story in MARSHA HUBLER’S HEART-WARMING CHRISTMAS STORIES collection. The same story will also be featured in MARSHA HUBLER’S HEART-WARMING HORSE STORIES. Patti’s story is published on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as an e-story for just .99. Whether you’re a Christmas admirer or a horse lover, check out:


A Short Story by

Patricia Souder

(for Marsha Hubler’s Heart-Warming Christmas Stories)

George Roe’s elation over finally securing a full-time job after being out of work for months is punctured by the revelation that his five-year-old son Douglas has pneumonia.

In the pre-antibiotic days of 1911, George and his wife, Nellie, face two crises. Will Douglas survive? And if he does, how can they even begin to afford the only gift he wants for Christmas, a hobby horse he fell in love with at Wanamaker’s.

If Douglas does pull through, how can his parents ease the disappointment he’ll experience if that hobby horse isn’t under the tree?



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