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Making Beautiful Things Out of Broken Pieces by Sherrie Hansen

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall; Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again.

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The concept of broken things made whole again has always fascinated me. I think that’s why I’ve always loved mosaics. I’ve picked them up at garage sales for a little bit of nothing. I’ve splurged on them when buying a special memento from a vacation. I’ve inherited a few when relatives have died.

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When I don’t find actual mosaics, I gravitate towards mosaic-like images.

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Quilts made with scraps of fabrics, ribbons and lace…

Scotland Duart Castle - Mull

Stone houses and log cabins, which upon inspection, are mosaics made with rocks or wood…

Scotland - St. Conan's Stained Glass

Stained glass windows made with shards of colorful glass…

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Digital pictures, which I love to play with, that are nothing more than mosaics of microscopic pixels.

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And even bite-sized morsels of foods, creatively blended into a hodgepodge of delicious flavors and colors.

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Just like jigsaw puzzles, I like mosaics because they’re bits and pieces – nothing pretty by themselves – that when put together, become beautiful.

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Even things that aren’t particularly pretty to start with look beautiful when made into a mosaic.

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That’s why I’ve saved every scrap from everything I’ve ever sewn, and every single cup, saucer, plate and bowl we’ve ever broken at my B&B, the Blue Belle Inn. Someday, I’m going to sew hundreds of quilts.

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I’m also going to make my own china mosaics. I’ve got the materials. I’ve been buying up flat-faced photo frames on clearance so I can cover them with mosaic wonderfulness. I have the tools. I even bought a nipper. Now I just need the time.

My sister, Becky, whom I can always count on to be honest with me, says that my collection of would be candidates for mosaic creations is just one more way that I feed my pack-rat tendencies.

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I suppose it’s true to some extent. I’ve seen mosaics embedded with Scrabble letters, shells, sea glass, pebbles, stained glass, beads, jigsaw puzzle pieces, driftwood, and charms. I’ve seen dimensional mosaics that include half of a teacup, part of a special wine bottle, or some other precious object. Seeing the creative things other people think of not only inspires me, it gives me license to pick up pretty rocks, sea shells, and bits of this and that wherever we wander.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who saves broken things thinking someday, someone handy can fix whatever it is that’s broken, or that I’ll find a way to adapt what’s left of the original and re-use it in some creative way.

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In the meantime, when someone breaks a piece of china at the Blue Belle Inn, I try not to hyperventilate. Then, as I look at the broken shards and the shattered pieces, I console myself with dreams of mosaic stepping stones for my garden, mosaic-fronted fireplaces and coffee tables covered in mosaic splendor.

Maybe it’s the thrifty Scandinavian in me, but I am always hopeful that somebody, somewhere can put Humpty Dumpty back together again, that somebody somewhere can mend the broken things in my life.

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Making broken things beautiful is also the reason I write books – mosaics of words woven together in such a way that they’re pleasing to the ear and uplifting to the soul. Random snippets of life, experiences, and emotions that come together in a design that inspires beauty.

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Just like mosaics are made from broken shards and sharp-edged pieces of cracked pots, the building blocks of a book are things that have happened to us, memories of people we’ve known, sights we’ve seen, and yes, heart-breaking happenings in our lives. As a writer, sometimes I think that every thought and experience I’ve ever had is filed away in the back of my brain, ready to resurface when the moment is right, waiting to be included in a book someday.

A very personal event in my past provided the inspiration for Wild Rose. It was a time in my life when a relationship that was very dear to me seemed irreparably broken because of a poor choice I’d made. What happened taught me a lot about forgiveness – what it’s like to be unworthy, to receive forgiveness from someone who loves you enough to overlook your flaws, and about forgiving yourself, which is sometimes the most difficult thing of all.

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Thankfully, our God is not only a master designer, but a master healer. God doesn’t throw us away because we’re chipped or cracked or broken. He accepts us as we are, gathers us up in His arms, and turns us into something beautiful… a poem, a song, a verse, a rhyme, a lovely mosaic.

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God can do what all the Kings horses and all the King’s men cannot. He can take your broken heart and make it whole again. He can turn sorrow into joy. He can take a crushed spirit and create in us a pure heart. He can take the shattered pieces of our lives and renew us. He can take a broken and contrite heart and restore the joy of our salvation. He can take a rag and make it riches. God can make a rainbow after the storm. God can and does put us back together again. 

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In the words of Isaiah, from chapter 61:

 1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me…
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,

 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,

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3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.

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I’ve always thought that making mosaics out of my broken china is a bit like making lemonade out of lemons. In many ways, so is the healing, restorative power of writing and reading. Broken bits and pieces become a cherished memory; a broken heart reshaped into a beautiful poem. Mosaics of words and thought, knitting together the shattered pieces of our hearts, making us whole again, and in the process, making us even more lovely than we were in the beginning. 

What better way to preserve the fragments of the past? What better way to celebrate the stories of our lives? 

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Blurb – Wild Rose:

When Ian MacCraig tries to capture the thief who is stealing artifacts from his kirk in Loch Awe, Scotland, the last thing he expects to find on his video is a woman engaging in a passionate romp under the flying buttresses.

Rose Wilson is mortified to learn that Digby, the online friend she met for what she thought was a harmless rendezvous, is a common criminal.

Now that Ian, the board of Wilson Enterprises, the constable, and half the town have had a glimpse of Rose in all her naked glory, it seems even her family looks at her differently. What remains to be seen is how far Ian will go to defend Rose’s honor and if the church ladies will forgive Rose now that they know who she really is… and if Rose can believe she’s worthy of someone as good and kind as Ian MacCraig.

Wild Rose and Pastor Ian MacCraig… a match made in heaven or one hell of a predicament?

My novella, Thistle Down, the intro to my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, and the first scene of Wild Rose are now FREE http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/310079. Thistle Down is now available on Amazon.com for 99 cents. If you don’t do e-Books, you can order a paperback copy of Thistle Down for $4.50. (It’s thin – remember, it’s just a novella!) Download away!

Can tenderhearted Pastor Ian MacCraig keep a pair of prickly sisters from marrying the wrong men?

Emily Downey has found the perfect groom. If only she loved the man…

Chelsea Downey is wild about her boyfriend. Trouble is, he’s two-timing her and everyone sees it but her.

Their thorny situation gets even stickier when the church ladies come up with a plan.

Can Pastor Ian MacCraig weed out the thistles and get to the heart of the matter in time to save the day?

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Book Award Season

I hope everyone enjoyed a fabulous holiday season. 2011 is upon us, which means it’s time to get ready to submit books and short stories for award consideration.

My novels are released by Second Wind Publishing, therefore my latest title, SNARE, qualifies for the Independent Publishers Book Awards (IPPY), and the Glyph Awards, sponsored by the Arizona Book Publishing Association. I plan to submit SNARE to the Suspense/Thriller and Multi-Cultural categories.

As for short stories, I submitted “Loose End” which appeared in the Sisters in Crime Chapter Desert Sleuths mystery anthology How NOT to Survive a Vacation for consideration to the Derringer Award.

The award possibility I’m most excited about takes place during the upcoming Left Coast Crime Conference (LCC) which will be held March 24-27 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This is one of the most prestigious fan/writer conventions. I networked and mingled with readers from around the globe and some of the finest crime novelists in the publishing world at last year’s conference.

One of the locations of my latest thriller is set in the Great Smoky Mountains of western North Carolina. The female lead is Native American and the other location takes place on New Mexico’s Taos Pueblo Indian reservation, therefore SNARE qualifies for The Hillerman Sky Award.

Since this pop/rock music-based thriller was only officially released 12.21.10 I’ve been doing all I can to spread the word about book two of the Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela series. I unveiled the visual of the cover on the Second Wind Publishing blog titled: “Snare – Uncovered” and have received a fantastic response to the cover.

Writers and readers I’ve met since the release of book one of the series, STACCATO, have been very generous with their thumbs up based upon the first pages of SNARE. You can download this sneak peek from my website before the printed version of the book becomes available.

If you plan to attend LCC 2011, I hope you find SNARE to be worthy of a nomination to The Hillerman Sky Award.

Another Second Wind author, Eric Beetner, will be at LCC Santa Fe as well. He and J.B. Kohl co-wrote the fantastic 1940s noir novel Borrowed Trouble, worthy of the Bruce Alexander Award. I hope you will also consider this book for nomination.

Am I missing any other awards you’d like to share information about?

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel STACCATO, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon and Kindle. If you’re in the Arizona area, STACCATO can be found at Borders Scottsdale Waterfront, The Well Red Coyote, and Changing Hands Bookstore.

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SNARE – Uncovered

I’ve received raves for the cover of my debut suspense thriller STACCATO, so the pressure was on to think of equally compelling ideas for my latest release.

This project has held the title ICE ON FIRE since its inception as a screenplay, but after receiving input from quite a few published novelists I decided stay with the musical theme for Book Two of the Deputy Hawk/Inola Walela thriller series. In doing so I had to come up with a different title—a single word grabber more relating to this rock music themed thriller. Not an easy task, believe me.

Many suggestions were offered, but SNARE kept coming to my mind and wouldn’t let go. I try my best to implement titles that signify more than one element relating to the plot. The word “snare” has not only has a musical connotation, but also means caught in a trap—which every character in the novel finds themselves ensnared in.

Once the title was nailed down I enlisted the assistance of the incredibly talented designer Chantelle Aimée Osman for the crucial task of coming up with ideas for the cover most fitting the new title. Chantelle insisted I stay with the “hands” theme. She was absolutely right. Due to her innovative efforts, SNARE truly is a killer cover.

SNARE is slated for a limited release December 28th and will be available to a wider audience beginning February 22, 2011.

As with STACCATO, I look forward to taking you on the journey to publication for this release as well.

So, what do you think? Does the title work for you? Is this cover an eye catcher? I look forward to your comments.

Be the first to read the first 25 pages of SNARE before the official release by going to my website.

 

Deborah J Ledford is the author of the debut suspense thriller novel STACCATO, now available from Second Wind Publishing, Amazon and Kindle. If you’re in the Arizona area, STACCATO can be found at Borders Scottsdale Waterfront, The Well Red Coyote, and Changing Hands Bookstore.

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