Thursday, May 28, 2015

Writing...and Living With Integrity (And a Giveaway!!!)

With historical author, Amanda Barratt!

First of all, I am so excited to be back on Seekerville! A huge thank you and lots of hugs to Ruthy for inviting me! This blog, and the many talented writers who participate, have been so instrumental in my journey to publication. We all are pressed for time, but if I could only read one blog every day, it would be SEEKERVILLE!!

All of us as writers and creators are deep thinkers. I’m no exception. Lately, as I launch into the world of publication, several topics have been turning over in my mind. One of these has been the topic of integrity. How can I represent myself with integrity while promoting my book, interacting with readers, and communicating with industry professionals? Or, when I’m sitting at my computer, trying to make sense of my characters and the situations they face? Plus, my goal for integrity should not only be as an author, but as a person as well. At home and at work, and with friends and family. So I figured if I’m contemplating this topic, others might be also. Hence, my decision to share with you wonderful Seekerville readers, some ways to practice integrity, in our lives.

Four Ways to Practice Integrity:

Integrity to Our Readers - While I absolutely adore weaving stories, I don’t do it for me. I do it for the busy mom who reads late into the night while the kids are asleep, the college student reading on their tablet for a few minutes between classes, the people who bring their books with them into hospital waiting rooms, and other difficult situations. As authors, we should be incredibly blessed that readers would choose our stories to brighten their days or teach them some truth. We owe it to them to write the best work we possibly can, stories that are honorable and show life from a different perspective than what they see every day. Also, when they seek us out on social media, or through handwritten notes, we should never be too busy to respond. Granted, life happens, but we need to make time for genuine interaction. Do the best for your readers. They deserve nothing less.

Integrity as Writers - The same thing goes when we sit down to craft our stories. Most of us are writing about things others have experienced or endured. For example, a book set during the Civil War, a story about a military veteran, or a novel dealing with tough issues like abuse and adoption. In honor of the people who have lived through what we’re writing, we need to check our facts, read widely on the subject, and paint our stories as truthfully, and yet, graciously, as possible. Our characters should be like real people, so those who read our stories can empathize with them.  As authors we need to allow ourselves to be transparent, drawing on our own emotions and life events to pen words that ring with truth. And, it goes without saying, every word we write should be for the honor and glory of God.

Integrity with Friends and Industry Professionals - This is perhaps the toughest of all. Writing is a competitive business, with everyone vying for the few slots available. So easily, this competition can tear apart relationships, and breed jealousy when someone other than ourselves wins that award, gains that contract. Yet is it truly worth it? Is success more important than people? There will always be those more successful than us and better known than we are. We are at whatever stage we are in, for just the right reason, and placed there by God Himself. In His time, He will advance us. But until that moment, choose to worship in the waiting, embracing your individuality and the gifts God has given you.

Integrity to Ourselves - So often, to-do lists overwhelm me. Some days I feel like a marathon runner, racing to see how many items I can check off. It’s easy to feel defeated when things don’t work out. Often I wonder how others can accomplish so much, how some people get so many “likes” on social media, and how such-and-such thought of that beautifully rendered sentence. But when I get caught up in these thoughts, I need to remember what I have accomplished. The sentences I’ve written. The stories I’ve created. The lives I’ve touched. My pastor likes to say, “Don’t worry about the hundred dollars you don’t have, just take care of the ten bucks you do have.” This is true in every area of our lives. We all are a beautiful creation, gifted with special stories placed upon our hearts by God. So rather than wishing you could become someone else, concentrate on telling your unique story. It’s sure to be wonderful!

Amanda Barratt is a historical romance author with two novellas releasing in 2015 with Barbour Publishing. She fell in love with writing in grade school when she wrote her first story - a spinoff of Jane Eyre. Since then, she's penned novels set in Regency and Victorian England, and the Gilded Age. 

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she lives in the woods of Michigan with her fabulous family, who kindly put up with the invisible people she calls characters.

These days, Amanda can be found reading way too many books, watching an eclectic mix of BBC dramas and romantic chick flicks, and trying to figure out a way to get on the first possible flight to England. 


You can connect with her at: amandabarratt.net and on Facebook at: Facebook.com/amandabarrattauthor

The Most Eligible Bachelor Romance Collection
Meet nine men from bygone days who have all the qualities of a true hero and who all the single ladies wish to court—though some are unassuming and overlooked until their worth is revealed. The socialite, the architect, the doctor, the masked vigilante, the missionary, the postmaster, archaeologist, the wealthy widower, and the heir, can have their pick of brides, but which one will they choose?



Leave a comment to be entered into a drawing for a copy of The Most Eligible Bachelor Romance Collection, complete with a bookplate signed by ALL nine authors! (Winner will be announced in the Weekend Edition.) And since this is Seekerville, let’s get this party started with an elaborate spread of elegant breakfast treats – scones, muffins, eggs Benedict, coffee (of course) and hot chocolate. 





65 comments :

  1. Hey! Just thought I'd say that integrity is the biggest thing in a person that makes or breaks a relationship with me. Don't ever give it up.

    Glad to have my name with yours on the NEXT book you have coming out. :)

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  2. What a wonderful post, Amanda. You brought out many important points. Integrity matters!

    I'm so excited about your release. I remember meeting you at ACFW several years ago and was mightily impressed. Your devotion to your writing and your sweet personality were evident.

    Please don't enter me in the drawing. I already won a copy right here on Seekerville.

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  3. Good morning Amanda and Seekerville! I'm so excited to have Amanda here today! First, because she's stinkin' cute, but mostly because she's dedicated to God, to her family and to being the best author she can be. I love that in her!

    I've got COFFEE!!!!! Let's rock this end-of-May week!

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  4. A wonderful post thank you. Four very important points on integrity.

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  5. WELCOME AMANDA!

    Let me tell you what a total kick it has been to watch you grow from a girl to a woman and from an aspiring novelist to a published author.

    Thanks for including us on your journey.

    So excited for this release. Melissa J spilled the beans..HA! You have another release coming too??

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  6. Can you give us a peek into your story in this collection?

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  7. Love this!!! Integrity is SO important...great post. :-)

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  8. Excellent and timely post! I love how you put integrity in context of four different areas, including yourself!

    Put me in for the drawing.

    Peace, Julie

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  9. Hi Amanda,

    You hit so many great points in your post. One of my prayers is to FULLY rejoice in my friends' success and for the Holy Spirit to remove even a speck of jealousy. We all do this to honor God and should lift each other up.

    I'll keep this short, but I got to spend 36 hours in London and absolutely loved it. We all left knowing we want to return one day. I hope you get to visit!

    I'd love to have my name in the drawing!

    Have a great day, everybody!

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  10. Melissa Jagears and Amanda Barratt in the same book???? Oh be still my heart!

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  11. This book looks great. Breakfast is very good. Thanks.

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  12. Welcome, Amanda!! Thank you for the post on integrity. Your points have blessed and inspired me today.

    Congratulations on the publication of two novellas this year!

    I hope that one day you will get to England. I would like to visit, too. My dh's first ancestor to step on American soil came from there.

    Janet

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  13. Amanda, great job on an important subject.:-)

    'Integrity is that thing you have even when you're alone.' I read that somewhere and liked it, and I believe it 100%.

    DO I HAVE INTEGARITY?

    I never lick the spoon I'm stirring with . . .
    When I drop a cookie, I don't brush it off and add it to the pile . . . ( I eat that one myself )
    When I commit to something, I take it seriously . . .
    Friends can count on honesty when they ask me if I think their dress looks 'granny' . . . ( we're all grannies, but don't believe we must look granny . . . )
    And I'd never lie about Seekerville being my first stop on the internet early mornings . . .
    When I win a book, I DON'T lie about how exciting it is . . . ( there's just something about winning )

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  14. YAY AMANDA!!!!!! Yay on the book! Yay on the great blog.
    Welcome to Seekerville.
    Thanks for visiting.

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  15. Good morning Amanda and welcome back to Seekerville. What an inspiring blog and such an important message for today's world. Integrity is something I pray for our leaders as well. smile. Have a blessed day here with us.
    Thanks again for coming today.

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  16. Amanda!!! It's so great to have you as our guest today, and mega-congratulations on your Barbour novellas! The photo of us together at an ACFW conference a few years ago comes up often on my digital photo frame--such sweet memories!

    Such wisdom in this post! And I loved what your pastor said: “Don’t worry about the hundred dollars you don’t have, just take care of the ten bucks you do have.” That's a truth that applies to every area of our lives.

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  17. What a great article. Congratulations on your Novella. Very exciting.
    Please enter me in the drawing.
    Becky

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  18. I love that some people still care about integrity even in writing. I would love to win a copy of the book!

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  19. Amanda, people notice and appreciate integrity in others. It matters in all walks of life.

    Congratulations on your Barbour novellas!! Bravo!!

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  20. Hi Amanda!
    Congrats on your releases.
    This is a great post. I hadn't really thought about Integrity in my writing. I guess it's been something that is so integral to me and what I do that I never really stopped to contemplate what it really means. Thanks for bringing front and center to my mind. Good stuff. I really like how you broke it down for us.

    Please enter my name in the draw... I've had my eye on this book for awhile.

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  21. This post really touched me. This is the only blog site I truly count on for help/inspiration etc. HE does send us what we need and today HE did just that through this wonderful post. THank you again!!!

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  22. Amanda, what a beautiful post! I loved your words, "Until then, worship in the waiting." Such an amazing truth and guideline. When our eyes are on the Lord and not on others, we'll walk with a whole lot more peace on this journey.

    Congratulations on your releases! Sooooo exciting.

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  23. Good morning, everyone! Here in Michigan, it’s gorgeous outside! A huge thank you to Ruthy for having me today!!! I’m so excited!

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  24. It's a joy to see you here Amanda. Integrity is vital in all aspects of life. Others take note if our attitude and conduct doesn't conform to our profession of faith. Your words are full of wise counsel. I agree Seekerville is the place for genuine support from fellow writers. I'm excited for you as an author and continue to follow you on your blog.
    Pat in Philly

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  25. Melissa, I’m so excited to be in a collection with you too! Can’t wait to read your story!

    You are so sweet, Keli! Looking forward to reading your next book!

    Right back at you, Ruthy! You too are super sweet and so dedicated to writing and the Lord!

    Thank you so much for your kind words, Mary! :)

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  26. Yes, Tina, my next novella comes out in July as part of Barbour’s “The Convenient Bride Collection.” I’m so excited about this story as it features a marriage of convenience and an Irish hero…sigh…

    Thanks so much, Jessica. Yes, integrity is so important and something we all need to be striving towards.

    Consider yourself entered, Julie!

    Wow, Jackie, I would absolutely love to visit London! Sounds like an awesome trip!

    Glad you’re enjoying breakfast, Cathy! I like to set a good table. :)

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  27. Glad the post was an encouragement to you, Janet. I too have ancestors in England and would love to research them over there.

    Great points, Mary Hicks! Love your wit and insight!

    I love spending time on Seekerville, Mary Connealy! Y’all have the best parties around!

    Yes, Sandra, it’s so vital to be praying for integrity for our leaders. Such a great point!

    Hi, Myra! I love the idea of a digital photo frame, such a great way to keep the memories replaying. :)

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  28. Thanks, Amanda. Integrity is something we should always be thinking about. Integrity to ourselves especially resonated with me. I need to worry about concentrating on my own story and nobody else's.

    The Most Eligible Bachelor collection looks fun. Please enter me.

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  29. Thanks for stopping by, Becky!

    Hi Rachel, I’ll be happy to enter you in the drawing, wish I had enough books to give one to everyone!

    Thanks for your congratulations, Barbara! I’m still pinching myself!

    Hi Deb, glad the post was an encouragement to you! I’m always encouraged by the posts I read here!

    Aww, you are so sweet, Jen! Thanks for commenting!

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  30. Jeanne, I love that phrase too! It’s actually from a song by John Waller, popularized by the awesome movie “Fireproof.”

    Hi Pat, my friend! Glad you enjoyed following me on my blog!

    Yes, Sandy, it’s so easy to focus on others success and forget all we’ve done. Thankfully we have God to steer us back on the right track.

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  31. Mary Hicks, thank you for noble-y eating the cookie you dropped rather than sneak it back on the plate.

    I can tell you are a person who just gives and gives and gives. :)

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  32. Amanda that is such a great picture of you. Very beautiful.
    And the book is so FANTASTIC!!!!!
    And you've got another novella collection coming right up, right???????

    YAY!

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  33. FROM YOUR BIO AMANDA:

    A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she lives in the woods of Michigan.....

    But in a HOUSE right? Not literally like a wild child roaming the woods, right? :)

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  34. Yes, Mary, have you heard of mountain men? Well, I'm a woods woman. I can skin deer faster than Daniel Boone! Just kidding. :)

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  35. I loved this thoughtful article! Thanks for encouraging integrity. Definitely put my name in the hat for the novella collection! I love reading them at the end of a long day :)

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  36. AMANDA!!!! ONE OF MY FAVORITE PEOPLE IN THE WHOLE, WIDE WORLD!!! Soooooo great to see you here, my friend, and for being so very young, you have quickly grasped the importance of integrity in this crazy world of being an author.

    You said, "We are at whatever stage we are in, for just the right reason, and placed there by God Himself."

    Goodness, that took me years to realllly understand and know it to the core of my being, and here you are understanding it already! In this business it's all too easy for our focus to slip off of Him and onto other things in the name of writing for Him. I learned that the hard way, and it's a lesson every author has got to learn sooner or later.

    I am soooo proud of you and all you have accomplished. The Most Eligible Bachelor Romance Collection is one of the most beautiful collections I've ever seen, and although I haven't read all of the stories yet, yours will always be my favorite just because of who you are and how you write! :)

    God bless you, Amanda, and I hope to see your name in print many, MANY more times in the near future.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  37. Thanks for the interesting post on integrity, Amanda - something that everyone should know the practice of, no matter their occupation. Likewise, that the best of life always comes through God's timing and plan for us.

    I'm looking forward to reading "The Most Eligible Bachelor" Romance Collection and your novella, I've read so many wonderful reviews of the collection. Please enter me in the giveaway!!

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  38. Heidi, I totally agree about reading at the end of a long day! It’s one of my favorite things to do…except when one gets too engrossed and stays up much too late.

    JULIE!!!!! So excited to see you here. And the feeling is truly mutual, you are one of my favorite people in the whole world and I thank God so often for our friendship! You are an amazingly gifted author and I’ve learned so much about the craft by reading your work. I seriously hope you have another book coming out soon, because your devoted fans won’t be able to wait much longer!

    Happy afternoon, Seekerville! We’ll have to change the menu, because in the north where I am, I’m thinking about lunch now. :)

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  39. I loved that movie, Amanda. :) Thanks for crediting it. I think I might just have to watch it again, just to find the line. :)

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  40. What a great collection! I'm looking forward to reading this one!

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  41. Hi Amanda

    Congratulations on all your new releases. They sound amazing. Thank you for these words of wisdom. We writers spend so much time learning how to develop the characters in our books, but it's more important to reveal our own character through our integrity.

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  42. Hi Amanda,
    Thanks for a lovely post. Integrity is so important, no matter the size and scope of the situation. If we slip up in the little things of life, we're bound to make those same mistakes when big issues arise.

    Loved your mention of being true to our readers!

    Beautiful picture, Amanda!

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  43. Laughing about Mary Hicks' cookie! I'd dust it off and put it right back on the plate, thinking proverbial pound of dirt! Just my way of helpin' folks with matter-of-fact learnin' 'n all! :)

    Amanda, dear, sweet thing, what are you working on now?


    And do you use the bearskin to keep the cave floor warm, darling????

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  44. Thanks so much for stopping by, Deanna!

    Spot on, Elaine! Thanks for your congratulations!

    How’s everything been going lately, Debbie? Are you going to be in Dallas for ACFW?

    Right now, I’m in the process of plotting another novel, Ruthy. Looking forward to throwing mischief and mayhem onto the lives of my poor characters. :) And I only use bearskins from bears I shot myself…it’s always a shock every time I arrive at the Hyatt for conference. Civilization is so interesting!

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  45. Congratulations Amanda! Your thoughts on integrity are exactly right! Integrity seeps into every aspect of our lives.

    My sweet husband and I took over an antique mall over a year ago. The previous owners lacked integrity and we worked very hard to overcome the pervasive atmosphere of mistrust. With patience, constant assurance and our above board approach to business, our lovely dealers/vendors discovered we were honorable. Now, we all marvel at the sense of peace in our shop. (And with over 60 personalities, it is pretty amazing!! ) Integrity creates a place where harmony can reign.

    Hope everyone has a perfectly delightful Thursday. I'll have a cuppa tea with breakfast or lunch or dinner/supper...and I'd love to win a copy of "The Most Eligible Bachelor!"

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  46. Mmm...it may be afternoon, but that breakfast menu sounds delicious!

    Amanda, I'm looking forward to reading your novella in The Most Eligible Bachelor"! I'd love to win the drawing, so please toss my name in the hat :)

    I really appreciate your post on integrity. Not to sound like an old crotchety guy, but it's something some of the world seems to lack these days. I love hearing about the creative process of different authors, and its fantastic that you put so much energy and time into infusing your work and relationships with integrity.

    Thanks for stopping in Seekerville! Another new author to add to my ever-growing TBR list :)

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  47. Amanda, welcome back! We're so happy to have you again. Thanks for your great post on integrity. It's so important to always do what we know is right, even when it's the more difficult path.

    Congrats on your stories coming out this year!!

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  48. Hi Kathryn! Your antique mall sounds delightful; I’m a big antique fan. Thanks so much for stopping by!

    Sarah, I’ll be sure to enter you in the drawing and I hope you have the opportunity to read my story!

    Hi Missy, I’m so glad to be back. It’s always great to hang out with such a talented group of authors!

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  49. Great blog, Amanda! I haven't seen many posts about integrity, but it's so important to writers and their career — to just being a good human being!

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  50. Kathryn, I forgot about the antique mall!!! I love those, I featured one in "His Mistletoe Family" because I saw how several local families turned the idea of a cooperative mall into a great family business that folks love! I get so excited to spot one-of-a-kind or distinctive items, and the Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt I found in Lewisburg last fall is one of my treasures!

    That's sooooo cool! There are stories just waiting to be told in a co-op setting!

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  51. Hi Amanda:

    You have a wonderful name: it's musical, it's romantic, and I take the Latin to mean 'worthy of being loved, praiseworthy'. I also appreciate your deep thinking. It stimulates my own (which is not necessarily a good thing. ;) )

    I find you four insights on 'Integrity' ideal for Seekerville. I also believe that 'integrity' stems from 'authenticity', that is, in being an authentic person. This brings to mind Polonius's advice to his son in 'Hamlet':

    "This above all: to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man."


    Now for two questions:
    Have you seen Austenland?
    How did you like it?

    And now for a comment on your pastor's advice: I side with Matthew, 25:14-30, regarding the parable about not burring your talents in the ground. The man who put his talent in the ground and watched it to keep it safe, was scolded by the master and sent away with nothing!

    Wondering: I always cringe when I read that a bachelor can have his pick of brides! What? Are brides like watermelons? Do you tap them? Don't brides have to at least love the bachelor or is being eminently eligible enough? : )

    I guess I'll have to read the book to find out. Please put me in the drawing.

    Vince

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  52. Thank you for a great post! I was especially touched by the "Integrity to Ourselves" section. I am a compare-er. "Take care of the $10 you do have"...nice thought.

    I would LOVE to get The Most Eligible Bachelor!

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  53. Oh Amanda, I so appreciated reading this: Do the best for your readers. They deserve nothing less.

    Lovely, wisdom-filled post. Thank you.

    And congratulations on your releases! What fun :-)

    Nancy C

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  54. I am enjoying your novella collection right now. It's a great read. Integrity and inspiration go hand in hand. Thanks for your insights.

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    1. If I win I'll take the book plate for my bachelor book that I'm reading.

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  55. Your bio says you read too many books. How is this even possible?

    Also, I only eat Eggs Benedict about once a year, so I'll take it today, even though it's a little late.

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  56. Louisa May Alcott "She is too fond of books and it had addled her brain." LOLOL

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  57. Amanda....what a delightful topic. I really love the integrity to your reader, because I am one. My integrity to the author is...leave a inspired review of the book, and if they live close enough, bring her a batch of cinnamon buns occasionally. Yours ARE coming, TINA.

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  58. Hello, Seekers : )

    Amanda, thank you for writing such an interesting and thoughtful post. In many ways, it is also a timely topic for me. It is not always easy to move forward with integrity in this world, but ultimately, integrity will always be the right choice. I am now almost sixty years old, and sadly, after many losses, reversals, and restarts, I am really no better off financially than I was when I began my work career forty years ago. Actually, in some ways, matters are worse than they were at the beginning. One thing hasn't changed though: I am still the person God made me to be--the strong one who made the choice to always put family first. I have been a caregiver since I was about ten years old, taking on the responsibilities normally handled by an adult. No one asked me to do that, or told me to do that, but it was what needed doing, and I have never regretted what I may have lost in the process. Taking care of your family is what matters, and if you do that--with integrity--then you have made the absolute right choice. I have outlived all of my family--and most of my cats--and my life has changed in many ways. Something I struggle with on a daily basis with my work situation is being older than almost everyone else. My mother and father had a very brief marriage, and my father was never a part of my life. My mother made a choice--with integrity--to leave an unhappy marriage and to return home to her parents to make sure that she and I had a good home. The four of us, Mama, Gran, Paw Paw, and I were a "family unit". I am extremely grateful that I was raised with the values of an older generation, but it does make me an outcast in many situations. However, I wouldn't trade those values for anything. Along with precious family memories, my values and my faith are my rock.

    "The Most Eligible Bachelor Romance Collection" sounds delightful, as does that beautiful breakfast--I'm always up for breakfast ; )

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  59. Amanda,

    Thank you for the excellent post on integrity! I believe integrity is the backbone of our character. Everything Jesus did was done with integrity and if we are to model ourselves after Him (and we are) then, as you have said, then we must have integrity in every action we take, every word we speak, every thought we think.

    I would love to read "The Most Eligible Bachelor Romance Collection!"

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  60. Amanda,
    I appreciate your insights. I've seen writers crumble under the weight of jealousy and give up their dream of publication. Reminding us who we write for and what we represent as we write echoed so much truth. Please put my name in the drawing.
    Cindy Huff

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  61. Integrity - such an important thing that is easily shoved aside in today's world. Thanks for the reminder!

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  62. Hi Vince,

    Yes I have seen Austenland and enjoyed it in a delightful, guilty pleasure kind of way. Keri Russell is a gifted actress, as is Jane Seymour.

    LOL…I suppose the wording on the synopsis is a bit off. Perhaps it would have been better to say that both the bride and the bachelor must mutually choose each other.
    Thanks for stopping by!

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  63. Amanda,

    This post really spoke to my heart. Especially that part about focusing on the ten dollars you do own. How true is that??? I am way too prone to compare myself to others. Thanks for the reminder.

    I also liked the part about honoring the readers and those who have lived what we are writing about by research and taken care to portray things accurately. Actually, all four points were pretty awesome:)

    And congrats on the novellas with Barbour. I love their novella collections! I would love to be put into the drawing.

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