Could there be anything better than being in a fantastic bookstore (Joseph Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Kentucky), while eating in their café, with amazing authors?
Few things thrill me more than soaking in conversation with fellow wordsmiths. With these gals, we never lacked for a thing to talk about.
But the best thing about this group is they ALL love the Lord and talk about what God is doing in their lives, their ministries, or a book or Bible study that’s helped them in their walk of faith. I simply sat and soaked it all in.
(Clockwise from left around the table is Yours Truly, Jan Watson, Kelsey Ach, Laura Leavell, Nancy Sleeth and Dr. Pam Stein. Notice we had Liz Curtis Higgs’ new Christmas book, The Women of Christmas—Experience the Season Afresh with Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna for party favors and had Jan signing her newest novel Tattler’s Branch. We’re going to talk about Jan’s book in just a minute!)
Allow me to share some insight into these fascinating gals: On the right in the front is my good friend, Dr. Pam Stein. Pam and I’d just dashed over from Lexington Christian Academy (LCA) where her son, John, had spoken powerfully on prayer. (click on…”Seventeen year old preaches w/power” to hear more…).
The icing on the cake is Pam and I are about to be related as our son , Gordy, is marrying her daughter Lauren! (Woo-hoo as they holler here in Kentucky!)
You also must know, for those of you with upcoming weddings (which seems to be about every other person I encounter lately) that besides teaching at the Dental School at The University of Kentucky, Pam and Lauren have a new, fascinating website regarding weddings. Check out: www.thelocalbride.com
Next to Pam in the middle, on the right is my buddy Nancy Sleeth. You’ve heard me speak of Nancy and her book, Almost Amish, as well as her husband Dr. Matthew Sleeth, who wrote 24/6, and let’s not forget their awesome ministry, Blessed Earth. (www.blessedearth.org )
This summer Nancy and I realized we are exactly three months apart age-wise and have many things in common. However, were she to enter our home, she’d give me “what for” as my Mother used to say, because I’m so far from being Amish. Let’s just say I aspire to be Amish-like. (By this point Nancy is rolling on the floor laughing.)
Next to Nancy, at the end of the row on the right, is sweet Laura Leavell. Laura’s Mom, Sherry, is one of my dear friends and I’ve been blessed to meet the Sleeths thanks to Laura, because she works for Blessed Earth. Laura is a ten-talent gal. Besides helping the Sleeths, she juggles many more brilliant balls in the air. She’s wise beyond her years.
Across from Laura on the left side is Kelsey Ach. Kelsey and I met thru’ a number of connections. A graduate of LCA and Georgetown College, she’s only in her twenties, but amazingly, she’s about to get a book published! (I thought this opportunity to meet some of these authors would be fun for her.) Be on the lookout for her and her book, A Beautiful Darkness—Finding Jesus in the Middle of a Sexual Revolution. Checkout her website: www.couture31.org
Next to Kelsey, in the middle of our row is my friend and mentor/guardian angel, Jan Watson. I can’t say enough about Jan. Funny she’s wearing butter yellow, because it’s highly appropo’ to tell you that the year I met her, Nancy Aguiar and I had ventured over to Lexington to the Book Fair Joseph Beth was hosting. We were also scheduled to have lunch with Paula Deen. Yes, the Butter Queen.
Well, Nancy and I ate with Paula and sixteen hundred others. Small detail.
But that day, precious Jan was about the only welcoming author, willing to chat with us and willing to entertain the thought of running over to Louisville to speak at our Book Club. (Which she’s now done several times and is a favorite of Book Club.) www.janwatson.net
Jan’s writing career is highly unique. A nurse for thirty-plus years, devoted Mom to three boys, and dedicated wife to her dear husband (who’s now in Heaven), Jan had had a story in her heart and mind for years. Her husband encouraged her to enter a writing contest.
Never mind that it was Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writer’s Guild Writing Contest. Never mind that SHE WON, which translated into a book contract with Tyndale Publishers!
Here’s her first novel which was published the year Jan turned sixty years old…
Never mind she recently released her seventh novel! Every single time I read her novels, I say, “Okay, this one is your best!” And then I read the next one and say the exact same thing.
While she’s currently working on her eighth novel, I’d like to share some highlights from her seventh, Tattler’s Branch. But only enough to entice you to read it…
Jan is hysterical funny in a dry wit kind of way. Her characters readily come off the pages to greet you, some of which you love, and some you’re ready to call the authorities on.
An animal lover, Jan sprinkles critters throughout her novels for your entertainment and attachment. Her real-live dog at home, Maggie, is a “terrific terrier” like our Gracie is. That phrase could be an oxymoron. I suspect Maggie’s influenced more than a few of these novels.
I love how Jan uses Scripture and prayer to help her characters cope. In Tattler’s Branch, Sunday school lessons and Scripture memory play a big role. Her main character, Doc Lilly, reveals her love for and need of God’s Word, a great lesson for every reader.
One favorite part comes in a letter written to her Mother where Lilly says, “Just as I’ve watched you do in moments of travail, I cling to Scripture for solace.” Another is “The Word. His Word, brought the Lord so near, it frightened her, but at the same time delighted her.” Love that!
Page-turning suspense, including a murder, set in the hills of Kentucky, are just about all this Kentucky girl needs for a lovely afternoon of reading. Jan’s medical background makes her book all the more real and full of intrigue as well.
Only in the hills of Kentucky would Jan offer, “She packs a grudge like a ten-dollar mule!” Or, “His Daddy had been tough as groundhog leather!”
And about her bad guy, appropriately named Shade, Jan writes, “Like a snake hiding under a riffle, he was waiting to strike.”
(Okay, so not-so-smart me thought the above sentence was a typo’ and I wondered why a snake would hide under a rifle, as in a gun. Then I looked up “riffle” for those of us who don’t know, that according to Wikipedia, it’s a “short, relatively shallow and coarse-bedded length of stream over which the stream flows at higher velocity and higher turbulence than it normally does.”)
One more element Jan includes, which totally convicted me of God’s love for everyone, even those as slimy as this atrocious man named Shade, is when Doc Lilly offers the Gospel to him. One of many beautiful elements in this conversation includes, “The ground at the foot of the cross is even.” Why do we forget that?
What transpires because of Lilly’s Godly love for Shade, regardless of his treatment of her, is unbelievable. It’s an only-God-could-pull-this-off moment. And the stunner-of-an-ending? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out!
Bravo, Jan! Another out-of-the-ball-park book! If you want to read more about Jan check out this article!
Thanks to ALL you girls: Pam, Nancy, Laura, Kelsey and Jan for a fun time of fellowship and lunch. Only grave error on our part was we didn’t partake of some sinful chocolate dessert. Next time!
‘Til next time!
(This post is dedicated to all my lunch buddies that day! Thanks for joining me and for your time. Always a blessing! Big hugs from Louisville!!!)