Thursday, December 17, 2015

Handmaidens of the Lord

The Handmaiden

As women of God we are given various traits of character.  Do you recognize some of yours?

Mary, the young handmaiden of God, was not so different from you or me.  She had faith, she was obedient, she was quiet in spirit, humble of heart, meditative, tender-hearted, and she chose to be a willing servant. Mary was loving, very devout, and truly blessed.  

But Mary, like us, was in need of a savior, declaring it so in the Scriptures and in her prayers. 

Her story is a familiar one. To the scoffers her story is difficult to believe for it was and is a miracle, real and alive then, continuing to be after over 2000 years. 

I've often wondered what might have gone through Mary’s mind when she discovered she was going to be pregnant and carry the Son of the Most High.  

I came across a Diary the other day.  It’s possible the hand-written journal was hers.  Let me read to you what it said and you can decide for yourself.

Dear Diary. I must write this down for it is a miracle which i must share with someone. 

I was just sitting on the floor of my room looking out my window.  The sunbeams  poured in on my face as they flooded through the panes.  I had been daydreaming  most of the day, just thinking…about things.  That sort of thing happens a lot when you’re fourteen, like me.

While I sat there in the dust, I overheard a few old ladies carrying on in the other room. They were talking about me.  I probably shouldn’t have been listening but I was. 

Here is what I heard.

“Did you go to the betrothal yesterday?” asked one.
“Wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” said another.  “I cried.”
“It was so beautiful,” added a third.

“Well,” said the first, “it’s about time something was done. I had heard a while backJoe got himself a wife.  He’s getting up there in age – needs some kids around the shop. At his pace, he can't keep at his job all alone for much longer.”
“But he’s too old for HER!” the oldest one in the room said to the others. “The girl is only fourteen," she spouted a bit too noisily. "Joe is nowhere near twenty like other young men who should be showing interest in her. Indeed, the man is well over 30 years old ... maybe even more.”
“Oh well,” I heard someone say before they left the room. “You know how it is with some of these youngsters these days.  They’ll marry anybody just to get away from home."

Before the door closed, their voices faded after someone said,  "I  Wonder if Mary can cook.”
I went back to my daydreaming shortly after that.  

Betrothed!  They didn't have it quite right for I was actually engaged.  I could hardly wait for my year to be over so that Joseph and I could have the actual wedding ceremony. I knew it was part of tradition.  All the other girls had to wait. I was no different.

I continued my daydreaming, until I suddenly heard this loud voice behind me.  

“Greetings, you, who are highly favored.  The Lord is with         you!”

I looked up I saw this huge figure of a man standing over me.  It scared me.  After all, I was just a peasant girl.  What could he want of me?

“Do not be afraid Mary,” he said.  “You have found favor          with God.”

What did he mean favor with God?  Who was this man?

“You will be with child, a son will be born, and you will name        him Jesus” 

Oh goodness! I thought.  He must not have known I was not yet married

Even so, he went on. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give him his father David’s throne; He will reign in Jacob’s house – His kingdom will never end.”

King David? Had he been speaking about him?  

I knew I was his descendant (one of many) but this meant my son would be the prophesied Messiah of old.  Hearing this, I was stunned!  But the man sounded insistent. 

Was he an angel?  I had to respond.

“How can this be?” I asked him.  “I am but a virgin” (He just had to have known I wasn’t yet married.)

Then he explained. “Dear child – the Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the most high will overshadow you. The holy one to be born will be the Son of God!”

My thoughts raced and I pondered not too little.  If this should be true, who would ever believe me?  What would Joseph say?  Most likely he would write me up a divorcement as soon as I started showing and leave me home with mother!  My son would be …. well, I didn’t dare say the word.  The neighbors would shun him from the beginning.  

I almost started crying.  I felt sick inside.  What would I do? My son would be so ill treated.  I would be an outcast!  I felt trapped.  I’d have to live at home forever or perhaps I would get stoned to death? 

I didn't yet lift my eyes. In truth,  I didn’t know what to say.
I started to weigh the situation carefully.  I knew what I had to do. I decided to count the cost.  I was beginning to see, this wasn’t about me at all.  

God had chosen me to do something special for Him!  I had to be obedient to His wishes.  Even though it might cost me everything, I had to consider it all.  How much did I really love God?  

I knew the answer then – I would do it.  I would say yes.  I would be willing.

I looked up at the man-angel.  After a second's pause, I said to him, “I am the Lord’s handmaiden. Let it be to me according to your word.”

He smiled at me and the next thing I knew, he was gone.  At that moment, I felt God’s love like never before, but it was even more than that.  Because of my decision as the Lord’s handmaiden, I knew my God was truly pleased with me. 

My prayer that came a moment later like a poetic melody said it all. 

     My soul magnifies the Lord 
My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior 
He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant
Behold henceforth all generations will call  me blessed 
for He who is mighty has done great things for  me. 
Holy is His name.
Mary made a decision to be the Lord’s servant, a handmaiden of God. She made the heartfelt choice to do what He asked of her -- to do His will no matter what it was. Her character traits were evident by her actions. 

You and I as the Lord’s handmaidens are also asked to serve God from our hearts. We are asked to choose rightly, to do as He asks of us, to do His will even if it takes us out of our comfort zones. Are we willing like Mary to be obedient to His wishes for us? 

We are not Mary, but we are the Lord's servants. As women of God, we have made our decisions to be his handmaidens for this day and age. We have our faith, we make decisions to be obedient, to be quiet in spirit, humble of heart, meditative, tender-hearted,  willing servants. 

Mary was loving, devout, truly blessed.  But Mary,  like us, knew she was in need of a savior and declared it so in her prayer. 

Like Mary, when we  choose to do those things God asks of us, we, too, can feel His love for us like never before. 

Mary pleased the Lord. Her character was evident by her actions. 

 What traits of character are evident in our lives today?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

To Stuff or Not to Stuff

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. All of our tummies will soon be filled with good stuff. Post Thanksgiving which comes soon after will mean the time is about right to begin your look around for a stocking-stuffer book or two -- a little gift for someone's Christmas. What a great way to say THANKS to those who have come to be your reading friends. 

In the next few weeks I am going to search around for some Christmas themed books and share them with you here on my blog. Here are just a few you have to get a peek at. 

by Patty Froese 

by Tina Pinson 

by Shawna Williams 

by Sandra Sookoo 

Be sure to read the back covers. There are many excellent ones to choose from. 

Not only are these stories worth the read, no one could resist admiring the awesome covers.

These Christmas romances and a whole lot more can be found over at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and also at Desert Breeze Publishing. 

Come by my website too when you can. I'd love for you to say hello. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

In Need of a Story Fix?

Connolly Freelance
Proofreading and Editing Services

Women's Fiction Manuscripts
Sweet/Inspirational/Historical Romance
Nonfiction Manuscripts

Many of my writer friends and acquaintances and past clients have asked for an update of the proofreading and editing services I offer aside from the joyful critiquing I do with my Scribes 218 partners.  As a  freelance copy editor I provide that extra pair of eyes needed to give fiction or nonfiction manuscripts a more thorough review of content and structure, a more appropriate level of editing that will match the author's specific needs. Outside the help I provide as line editor to small presses, included here is a summary of my individual freelance editing services -- rates standard to the industry.   

All authors need that editorial review and fine tuning of their manuscript before it's submitted to the publisher. The eyes of someone else can often see those common and sometimes overlooked errors the writer who cherishes her baby (the manuscript) might neglect to catch. 

We, as authors, are simply too close to our work.

Both traditionally published and self-published books demand excellence. Competition is fierce; to be able to find and keep an audience means we must do our best with our overall first impression. Our work be free from structural problems, typos, and grammatical errors. 

After I wrote my first couple of books, I discovered how disheartening it was to find a number of mistakes upon my first read. By then, it was too late to do anything about it. I decided immediately to hone my own past editing experience so I could help others not to make the same mistake.

As a freelancer, the editing process I offer is a partnership between you, the author, and me your personal editor. The type of work I proofread or edit is included below. 

Retreat Brochures, Flyers, Pamphlets
Memoirs, Books of Reflection, Devotionals
Women's Fiction, Historical Romance (Sweet, Inspirational, Edgy)
Contemporary Women's Fiction (Sweet, Inspirational, Edgy)
Novellas , Short Stories
Newspaper or Magazine Feature Articles
How-To Books, Handbooks

I prefer working with my authors electronically and all correspondences and materials will be held in strict confidence. I use the track change system with my authors with a two-part editing process. I prefer MS Word files which will be returned to the client as clean, corrected text.

My Freelance Editing and Proofreading Rates

The established industry standard for a manuscript page is 250 words. Turnaround time on most projects is negotiated between author and client (weekends not included).

I offer both page rates and hourly rates and will provide a detailed explanation upon request.

To cover some of my office supplies, there is a minimum upfront charge of $10.00 per job when contract is signed whatever the size of the project. The remainder is due according to negotiated stage for payments. Ongoing adjustments to the arrangements can be made if required. Our work together will be tailored to fit the client's personal needs. Most work can be handled through the Internet. Access is available through DropBox as well.  

Basic Proofreading manuscript up to 25,000 words: $1.50 per page (250 words) or $6.00 per 1000 words (four pages) for corrected electronic copy (MS Word file)

Basic Proofreading manuscript 25,000 to 80,000 words: $1.25/page (250 words) or $5.00 per 1000 words (four pages) for corrected electronic copy (MS Word file) 

Basic Proofreading manuscript over 80,000 words: $4.50 per 1000 words (four pages) for corrected electronic copy (MS Word file)
  • Basic Proofreading includes closely examining your project for spelling, punctuation, typos, capitalization, awkward grammar, ensured readability by assessing verb tense, grammar, sentence fragments, run-on sentences, subject-verb disagreement, comma splices and other usage. 
Broad-spectrum Editing manuscript is $2.75 per page (250 words) or $11.00 per 1000 words or four pages for corrected electronic copy (MS Word file) 
  • Broad-spectrum editing includes line-by-line copy editing, concentrating on logical flow, organization, structure, transition.  
Extended Proofreading manuscript is $3.00 per page (250 words) or $12.00 per 1000 words or four pages for corrected electronic copy (MS Word file.
  • Extended proofreading includes overall manuscript structure, word choice, clear writing, inconsistencies, redundancies)

Deep Editing manuscript is $3.50 per page (250 words) or $14.00 per 1000 words (four pages) for corrected electronic copy (MS Word file)

  • Deep Editing includes plot or narration balance, believable characters or situations, phrasing ambiguities, levels of diction, rhythm and colloquialisms, consistency, theme, style, clarity, concision, tone and audience appropriateness. 
Feel free to contact me by email ( to discuss your personal project. Please put EDITING/PROOFREAD REQUEST in subject line.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

An Intriguing Harvest Moon Look-See

For the last several years I've had the privilege to work alongside several outstanding authors over at Vinspire Publishing. One of my fellow author friends has a book out that might be just the thing for that perfect October read.  How could anyone resist "a crumbling tombstone ... a life cut too short ... and a grave best left undisturbed"? Yes, a visit to an abandoned cemetery with Caretaker John Riley should entice us all to want to open the pages of Beguiling by Nolan Carlson.

Author Nolan Carlson is married and the father of four grown children and five grandchildren. He has served in the military and also in the public school system as a teacher and counselor for twenty-four years. Also a business owner for twenty years, he has been a professional writer for twenty-nine years and has had many young adult books published. His goal is to provide wholesome and entertaining material for young adults. To date, he has had fourteen books published.

Let's take a peek together at what we might find between the covers.


Nolan Carlson 

A crumbling tombstone…a life cut too short…and a grave best left undisturbed

Taking care of an abandoned cemetery isn’t everyone’s idea of summer fun, but for John Riley, it means money in his pocket and plenty of time for baseball and his girlfriend. Admittedly, it’s a little boring…until he discovers a crumbling tombstone outside of the cemetery fence. Though his instincts tell him to leave it alone, John wants to learn more about the sixteen-year-old girl who died in 1925.

His obsession grows as the days pass. He’s spending 
 more time with the grave than he is his girlfriend, but he can’t walk away. And when he hears flirtatious laughter coming from beneath the soil, enchanted.

When a ghost takes the shape of a lovely young girl, John is drawn to her. She connects to his soul, and he can’t imagine not loving her. But he doesn’t recognize the evil beneath the possessive, beguiling creature who claims to love him in return.  

Check out more about Nolan Carlson.