Guest Author Sharyn Kopf – Are You Ready to Share Your Story

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Today I’m welcoming author, editor, and ghost writer Sharyn Kopf as my guest author. Sharyn didn’t discover her voice until she found a way to turn grief into hope. For her, that meant realizing it was okay to be sad about her singleness. In doing so, she was finally able to move past her grief and find hope in God.

It also meant writing about the heartaches and hopes of being an older single woman. She published her first novel, Spinstered, in 2014, and a companion nonfiction version titled Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40 in 2015. Book two, Inconceived, was finished in 2016, and she plans to release the final novel in the trilogy, Altared, over Labor Day weekend. Her work has also appeared in numerous publications including Chicken Soup for the Soul and Splickety Love magazine.

Besides writing and speaking, Sharyn is an editor and marketing professional. She loves to connect with readers and singles on Facebook or email and has plans to start a monthly newsletter soon. In her spare time, she enjoys goofing off with her nieces and nephews, making—and eating!—the best fudge ever, long hikes through the woods, and playing the piano.

Are You Ready to Share Your Story?

by Sharyn Kopf

They say—and, to be honest, I’m not sure who “they” are, but I still quote them on occasion—that everyone has a story. And, really, it’s true. I have a story. You have one. We all do. But then what? Should you do something with it?

Let’s start with five questions you need to answer in deciding if you should turn your tale into a book:

  1. Why do I want to tell my story?
  2. Who is my audience?
  3. What do I want to say … and what do I need to say?
  4. Is this a story that can be told in a new way? Or is it something we’ve read before?
  5. Am I the one to write it?

Each question is important, but regardless of your answers to the first four, if you respond to the fifth with a no, that’s where I come in. I help people take their story from idea to manuscript.

My name is Sharyn Kopf, and I’m a writer/journalist and editor with over thirty years of experience. Besides writing for newspapers, magazines, radio and TV, I co-authored and edited an autobiography a few years ago, have edited numerous published manuscripts, and, so far, have written, edited and published four books of my own.

Whether it’s starting from scratch or using your notes, diaries and/or interviews, I would work with you until we have a completed manuscript. Here’s the basic process:

We’d begin with a phone call. At that time, we’d discuss your budget, come up with a plan, and determine your answers to those first four questions. This lets me know what kind of book you want to end up with.

Next, you would need to send me any materials you already have. Once I go through that, I’ll contact you about additional interviews, whether with you or with others connected to your story. Of course, if you don’t have anything, our next step would be setting up interviews.

Once the research is done and the information has been collected, I’d start writing. Throughout the process, I’d keep in contact, whether it’s sending you chapters, asking questions to fill in the blanks or keeping you updated on my progress. Your level of involvement, of course, would be up to you.

Once the manuscript is written, I would do one final round of edits. After that, I recommend you find another editor for another run-through. The more eyes you have on it, the better it will be!

Though my rates are reasonable, they do reflect the level of time and expertise that would go into the work. However, we can complete the project at whatever speed best fits your budget.

If you’re interested in contacting me about your story, please email Sharyn Kopf at sharynkopf@gmail.com.

Inconceived

Realizing you’re a spinster is one thing; understanding what that means and how to handle it is another. And it would seem Jolene, Uli and Catie still have a ways to go before they truly comprehend what God is trying to show them, not only in their desire to marry but in their longing to have children of their own.

As one relationship ends and another begins, Jolene Woods realizes she needs to finally deal with the guilt and regret of her past if she’s ever going to move on. So she embarks on a journey she hopes will bring forgiveness but may, in fact, only lead to more regret. Did the sins of her youth forever destroy her chance to be a mother?

Uli Odell has her own journey, though it’s more of an escape from the pain and embarrassment of a broken engagement. She ends up at her mother’s home in Iowa, separated from her friends and desperate for money. But there are some problems she just can’t run away from.

Though Catie’s heart is in a stronger place since she met God on a mountain three months ago, she still doesn’t have answers to many of her questions. Then the possibility of an unhealthy relationship and the reality of a life-altering medical diagnosis makes her wonder if she’s figured out anything at all.

As their lives head off in different directions, each of these friends will need God—and each other—to find their way to healing.

You find it at this link.

My Top Ten Favorite Hobbies

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Everyone has things they enjoy doing for fun. Here is my list of 10 favorite hobbies. I didn’t include spiritual activities such as Bible study, prayer, and worship, but I love them too. I also didn’t include my ministry activities such as Gospel illusions, puppets, and preaching.

 

10. Playing board games and card games: I love to spend an evening with friends playing games.

9. Dancing: I took 20 years of dance lessons when I was younger.

8. Knitting: I learned how to knit from my grandmother, but I taught myself how to make more than scarves when I was pregnant with my first child.

7. Going to the movies with my husband: I love to watch good, clean movies.

6. Researching my ancestry: This is a lot of fun, and you wouldn’t believe what I’ve found out.

5. Studying history: This is probably why I write historicals.

4. Watching classic movies: I love classic movies, especially movies from the 1940s and 1950s.

3. Traveling: I’ve been to 40 states and 8 countries. Going to the other states and a few more countries is on my bucket list.

2. Reading: I have always loved to read. I remember reading with a flashlight under the covers when I was a kid and supposed to be asleep. When I was a teen, I read classics and Shakespeare for fun.

1. Writing: Writing isn’t really a hobby since I am an author, but I do enjoy it enough to include it on the list.

Tips on Celebrating the Fourth!

by Carole Brown

A summer celebration time that combines fun and patriotism, for kids and adults, with activities and more serious contemplation. Here’s some thoughts on experiencing all this with your family.

  1. Display the American flag. Allow children to attach one to their bike or scooter. Display one from your house or garden. String a row (banner) of flags around the yard for a party.american-flag-free
  2. Obtain a copy of the constitution and read it to your children or family. Discuss it with your family. Explain details not understood. This is an important part of our country’s history. constitution free
  3. Dress up patriotically. Wear clothes that have the U.S. flag design on them, or clothing shoes freechoose to wear the red, white and blue. You can have a lot of fun trying to look as patriotic as possible using just these colors.
    • Have someone to draw the flag on your cheek or hand with washable finger paintpainted flag on hand free
    • Wear a flag pin on your clothes
    • Paint the US flag on your nails
  4. Watch a local 4th of July parade in your community or city. Get into the parade spirit by waving back at the participants or clapping as U.S. veterans pass by.parade cartoon free
  5. Enjoy a barbecue or picnic with family or friends. Get together around at least 1 pm or so to spend the afternoon together. Enjoy the foods of your choice but don’t forget the traditional fourth foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, watermelon and an American flag cake.Independence day cake free
  6. Travel. Both on the fourth of July and the days around it, there will be a number of festivities, fireworks displays, and other fun you can join in depending on where you live. If you’re traveling, check on the suggestions below for a festive time with family and friends 
    • Boston has six days of celebrations: Take a hike along Boston’s Freedom Trail, watch the annual turning of the USS Constitution, attend Chowderfest, watch the reading of the Declaration of Independence from the balcony of the Old State House, and enjoy the annual Boston Harborfest. And there is the holiday concert by the Boston Pops at night plus fireworks.
    • Philadelphia‘s festivities last for around a week. Visit the Liberty Bell, see the historic sites in Independence Mall, and enjoy the 4th of July parade and fireworks.
    • In Washington D.C., you can watch the National Independence Day Parade on Constitution Avenue and enjoy the fireworks displays above Washington Monument and the Capitol while at the grounds for the popular and nationally televised A Capitol Fourth, broadcast on PBS and AFN Television.
    • Visit Valley Forge National Park.
    • Mount Rushmore is a great place to celebrate. You can see the fireworks and mount-rushmore-freeother commemorative events. 
    • In San Diego, head for Mission and Pacific beaches and watch the fireworks after dark.
    • In New York, make sure to attend the Macy’s 4th of July Spectacular event, with live music from the US Air Force Band and Orchestra, fireworks and performances by US artists. Or visit the National 9/11 Museum at the Ground Zero site to honor the victims of 9/11 and the armed forces fallen of recent conflicts. 
    • And don’t forget your smaller town celebrations. Heartfelt and interesting, you’ll find many things to do there too!

         7. Make crafts for Independence Day. If you have children, it’s an ideal time topins stars patriotic free

             make crafts together to celebrate the day. Check Pinterest or other online places                  for suggestions and ideas.

  • Make an American Flag Lapel Pin.
  • Make a Homemade Paper Weight and paint it with patriotic designs and colors.
  • Make a homemade card and use a patriotic theme and colors to design the cover and contents.
  • Make a yarn wreath using patriotic yarn colors.
  • Make glowing star lamp in patriotic colors and hang up at your celebratory party.

         8.  Enjoy the fireworks! It’s an awesome time to spend with family and friends.fireworks

Have a wonderful and safe holiday!

Getting Ready for Summer

by Carole Brown

There’s busy and then there’s busy.

If you’re anything like us, you already have your summer pretty well booked. but with a little planning, you can it a little less harassing and a lot more fun and relaxing. Here are a few tips I’ve learned through the years:

  • Plan ahead… 

for the trips and vacations you want to take. Decide on how muccheck-list freeh you will spend and set aside extra for emergencies or special things that crop up. Write down everything that needs to be done and cross these items off as you finish them. (Book flights, list items needed to be taken, schedule activities you want to do and buy tickets ahead of time, buy snacks and drinks when appropriate.) 

Have appropriate clothes planned and ready. Repairs needed? Don’t wait until the last minute, but have it done early. Shoes need to be purchased? Toiletries running low? Get these things off your list.  

 

  • Plan activities suitable for you, your family, your friends.

Needless to say, you should take into consideration what interests you’re planning for. Children who are totally into sports or activities may find it boring to go to five different museums. Save that trip for when you and your husband or friends can enjoy it. 

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  • Prepare yourself and your family/friends physically. 

If you’re headed to the beach, condition your skin to the sun; don’t wait till you arrive and end up with damaged skin. If  you’re headed to the mountains to scale the heights, begin early strengthening your body by running/walking. Higher altitudes can cause some problems for certain people so make sure you have a doctor checkup before leaving. You want to be ready for whatever you plan and not be caught unaware and in serious physical condition because you didn’t know.

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  • Don’t be too stringent on keeping to the “rules.” 

Allow for unplanned things. See a spot that would be perfect for a picnic, and your child is begging to stretch her legs? Do it, and eat at that fancy restaurant another time. Don’t think you have to be on the move constantly. Take time to read a book, sit on a porch and watch the birds. Stroll, take a walk, talk, don’t talk, cook out, walk barefoot in the sand early in the morning, or stroll the beach at midnight with your friends or companion while the kids (who are old enough) are sleeping. Allow time for side trips. Do something unexpected. Suggest the children (with guidance) plan a day of fun. 

sand feet

 

  • Be safe. 

Take precautions. Make sure shots are up-to-date, medicines are ready to go, and medical kits are stocked. Don’t be paranoid, but be cautious. Keep your eyes on children. Be friendly but careful around those you don’t know well. Watch for unexpected problems on side trips: slippery, downhill paths, stinging insects, broken items that can cut, unfriendly animals who are doing what they’re wired to do. In traveling, stay alert. Get plenty of rest and never push yourself beyond limits. 

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  • Stay relaxed, have fun, and come home rested. 

Sometimes this is hard to do. I know. But if you can carry through on the above suggestions, you’ll find that it’s much easier to control this last one. If you can pull it off, you’ll find yourself returning home, eager to plan another getaway.

reclining free

It’s time for vacation. Are you ready?

7 Reasons Why My Husband is a Good Dad

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Father’s Day will be here in a little over a week, so I thought I’d share why I think my husband is a great dad to our children and how young fathers can emulate his example.

My husband was a great dad to our children. We have grown son and daughter, both married, who don’t live with us. Although they’ve struggled at times, my children have grown up to become responsible adults who love the Lord.

Jonathan and Jenna

 

My son is married and has two sons of his own. He is also a terrific husband and father. He supports his family working as a real estate agent and ministers at his church.

Veronica and DariusMy daughter is married. She will be finishing her Master’s Degree in clinical mental health counseling in December. She currently is an intern at Emerge Christian Counseling Center. She and her godly husband are very involved in their church.

 

Much of the reason my children are who they are is because of their dad. Here’s some of the things he’s done while they were growing up.

He spent time with them. My son and his dad would go to airplane shows, for walks in the park, and to look at race cars together. These were interests my son had, and my husband would take the time to encourage those interests. My daughter and her father would go on dates together. He would do what she wanted to do. That usually meant going out to eat, then going to a romantic movie or shopping. My husband doesn’t like chick flics or shopping, but he loved doing these things with his daughter.

He taught them things. My son knows basic carpentry, home maintenance, and how to do minor car repairs because his father taught him whenever he was doing something around the house. It would have been easier for my husband to fix a car or patch a wall without explaining every step to my son and allowing him to do some of it, but he understood that a good father teaches his children. He also taught my daughter many things like how to change a tire and how a man should treat her on a date.

He prayed with them. Whenever my children had any concerns growing up, my husband would have the same response. “Let’s pray about this.” My children learned that whenever they have a problem, the first response is prayer. To this day, when they have a problem, they will call their dad and hear him say, “Let’s pray.”

AsherHe was a godly example. My husband didn’t get saved until we had been married sixteen years. But even before that, he was a man of integrity. He was always where he said he would be, and I never had to worry about him being unfaithful. After he was saved, he stepped it up a notch by being a godly example in everything he did. He didn’t act one way at church and another way at home. Our children saw what it means to be a Christian by watching my husband.

weddingHe’s a wonderful husband. My husband loves me and shows me respect. He listens to me and supports me. And he’s faithful to me. This is one of the best things a dad can do for his children. He showed my son how to be a good husband, and he showed my daughter what a good husband looks like.

He was a strict disciplinarian. My husband showed his children love, but he also expected certain types of behavior from them. When they failed to meet the mark, there would be consequences. This also showed his love for them because it taught them that morality is the best way and that there are consequences in life.

He taught them life isn’t fair. When my children were growing up, sometimes they would complain that some decision my husband made wasn’t fair or something that happened with their teachers or friends wasn’t fair. Sometimes they were wrong. Sometimes it was fair. But sometimes they were right. Sometimes things happened that weren’t fair.

My husband’s favorite saying during those times was “Life’s not fair.” And it’s true. Life is not fair. Dads help their children most when they teach them this principle. Children need to learn to deal with the unfairness of life without becoming bitter or pessimistic. My husband taught my children that life’s not fair, but that doesn’t give them the excuse to be unfair or unkind or to rebel against authority.

I’d enjoy hearing comments about why your husband or father is a good dad.

 

10 Things Fathers Should Tell Their Sons

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

My grandsons have declared war with my husband, Rick

My grandsons have declared war with my husband, Rick

My husband was a is a good father. Because of his example, my son is a good father who is raising his two sons to be godly men. Every boy or man should hear these 10 things from his father by the time he becomes an adult.

My son Jonathan with his 2 sons

My son Jonathan with his 2 sons

1. Treat your mother with respect. She’s my wife.

2. I’m proud of the man you’ve become.

3. Nothing worthwhile comes easy.

4. Be a man. Do the hard thing because it’s right.

5. Be a man of your word.

6. Treat every woman as if she’s a lady.

7. Be a gentleman. It will never be politically incorrect no matter what they say.

My son playing with his sons at Myrtle Beach

My son playing with his sons at Myrtle Beach

8. I love you enough to find out where you’re going, who you’ll be with, and when you’ll get home.

9. Choose a woman based on her mind, personality, and values, not her looks.

10. I’ll always love you no matter what you do.

 

 

10 Things Fathers Should Tell Their Daughters

Daughter Veronica with my husband Rick and me at her college graduation

Daughter Veronica with Rick and me at her college graduation

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

My husband, Rick, has a special relationship with our daughter, Veronica. When she was young, he would take her on dates to show her how a man should treat her. Every girl and woman needs to hear these 10 things coming from the lips of her father by the time she becomes an adult.

1. You are beautiful.

2. You deserve a man who will treat you like a princess.

Veronica and her dad dancing at her wedding

3. If any man hurts you, they’ll have to deal with me.

4. I love you enough to find out where you’re going, who you’ll be with, and when you’ll get home.

5. May I have this Dance?

6. You can be anything you want to be.

7. I’m proud of you.

8. I’m amazed at how smart and talented you are.

9. Would you like to go on a date with me?

10. I’ll always love you no matter what you do.