My First Book Contract!

This week I’m thrilled to announce the signing of my first-ever book contract! On February 15, 2015, Mantle Rock Publishing is to release Whitewashed, the first in my On the Brink series, a three-book suspense series for older teens and adults. The books follow the journeys of three homeschooled girls—Patience, Natalie, and Christy—as they step out on the brink of adulthood and danger.


Here’s a blurb for Whitewashed:

Seventeen-year-old Patience McDonough has a plan. Despite her parents’ objections, she will attend Verity College in Hades, Mississippi, and live with her grandparents. She’ll complete her degree in record time and go on to become a doctor. But things at the college are strangely neglected, her class work is unexpectedly hard, Grand gets called out-of-town, and Poppa starts acting weird—so weird she suspects he has Alzheimer’s. On top of that, she has to work extra hours at her student job inputting financial data for the college—boring! But soon her job gets more interesting than she’d like: she finds that millions of dollars are unaccounted for and that something creepy is going on in the Big House basement. She discovers secrets tying her family into the dark beginnings of Verity, founded on a slave plantation, and she is forced to question the characters of people she has always trusted. Finally, confronted with a psychotic killer, Patience has to face facts—her plans are not necessarily God’s plans. Will the truth set her free?

Penny-Pinching Homeschool

download (2)Sometimes it’s hard to figure out how homeschooling fits the family budget. Here are some ideas on how to cut costs and still operate an effective homeschool in the Columbus, Ohio, area.


  • Buy used. HOTR (Home on the Rock) and CHEO (Christian Home Educators of Ohio) publish information about used book fairs on their websites. Try Amazonebay, and for good deals. Some sites like and post swap boards to facilitate trading or buying/selling materials.
  • Use the library. The Columbus Metropolitan Library system has many resources available. If the nearest branch doesn’t have what you need, request it from another branch. They’ll bring it to your location—free!
  • If you buy new, shop carefully. Rainbow Resource often has the best prices, but shipping can ruin your budget, so make a complete, one-time order. If your total is $50 or more, shipping is free. Some curriculum companies have free shipping months (often April).
  • Don’t forget to check out my free downloadable study guides for In Grandma’s Attic, Milly-Molly-Mandy, and The Horse and His Boy on my Homeschool page.

Field Trips and Extracurricular Activities

  • Join a homeschool group. Homeschool organizations provide lots of information about money-saving opportunities. Groups like HOTR and CHEO usually cost less than $50 per year but include a 10% discount to the Home School Legal Defense Association. Some, like HOTR, have small-group cooperatives meeting around the city. You usually pay a small fee for expenses but get a great return on your investment. You and your children get to socialize with other homeschooling families. Kids can take classes with other kids and different teachers. Group field trips provide discounted access to local attractions. You’ll likely learn about unexpected opportunities—like the mom who teaches piano cheap or the one who will tutor your child in math if you’ll tutor hers in Latin. You might even find someone willing to swap or lend curriculum.
  • Take advantage of the free stuff. Many Columbus attractions are free or very inexpensive. And, of course, educational.

Columbus Free Stuff:

Slate Run Farm
Columbus Museum of Art (Sundays only)
Ohio Craft Museum
Riffe Gallery
Ohio Statehouse
Thurber House (weekdays only)
Orton Geological Museum
Shrum Mound
Longaberger Homestead
Park of Roses
Topiary Garden
Chadwick Arboretum
Columbus Parks and Recreation (costs $1 per badge per person)
Anthony Thomas Factory Tours ($2 per adult, $1 per child (ages 3-18), under 2 is free; admission fee may be used toward purchase)

  • Ask for the educational or field trip rate.  Just by filing a field trip form in advance and bringing your notification letter, your family can visit the Columbus Zoo for only $5 per person if you live in Franklin County ($7 if you live outside Franklin County). COSI offers an educator’s family membership for $95 per year. The Ohio Historical Society offers a family membership to educators for $50 annually that allows four adults and all family members under 18 to visit OHS’s 60 historic sites at no charge. Kelton House offers an Underground Railroad Learning Station Tour for $4 per student and a Kelton House Historic Tour for $2 per student. Columbus Children’s Theatre has discounted tickets in their Thrifty Thursdays plan. Catco is Kids (Phoenix Children’s Theatre) offers School Performance Matinees with tickets for $5.
  • Use coupons. You can often find great deals on-line, in the phone book, or at travel plazas.
  • Give useful gifts. Give your son karate lessons for Christmas. Ask Grandma to buy BalletMet tickets for your daughter’s birthday.

Don’t let your tight budget discourage you from home education. Columbus has so much to offer that you’ll find your penny-pinching homeschool works out just right.

Maximizing the Gift of the Lord’s Day

God’s commandment for us to keep the Sabbath isn’t about squeaking in the minimum required time at church on Sunday. God wants more, and in return, He promises great blessings. Here are some ways we can maximize the gift of the Lord’s Day:Religious-Clip-Art

  • Show up. Yes, the Sabbath is a day of rest, but that doesn’t mean we ought to sleep in and skip church. When we show up for Bible Study, Worship, and other activities with God’s people, God promises great benefits, including the greatest blessing of all, His presence with us.
  • Participate. Showing up is necessary, but it isn’t enough. If we’re snoozing on the back pew during Worship Service or texting during Sunday School, we’re not learning what God wants to teach us. To get the most out of church, we need to take an active part in whatever’s going on. We should sing during song time, listen during teaching and preaching time, discuss during discussion time, pray during prayer time, and talk with others during fellowship time.
  • Give cheerfully. Part of the blessing of the Lord’s Day is offering back to God a portion of whatever allowance or pay we’ve been given. If we can’t give ten percent with a good attitude, we should figure out what we can give with joy and do so faithfully. On the other hand, if we can give more than ten percent cheerfully, then we should do that.
  • Use our gifts. God gave every Christian at least one talent to use for His church. When we look for ways to use our gifts, we get the pleasure of serving others in the congregation. Also, when we do the jobs we’re equipped for, we’re not leaving the burden of those jobs to somebody who wasn’t gifted to do them.
  • Don’t grumble. Remember what happened when God delivered the children of Israel from Egypt, and all they did was grumble about the good things God did for them? They died after wasting their lives wandering in the wilderness when they could’ve lived fulfilled lives in the Promised Land. When we spend our time at church gossiping and complaining rather than worshiping and learning, we miss out on God’s blessings. In fact, we may just be earning God’s judgment instead.
  • Appreciate our leaders. God gave us teachers, elders, deacons, youth workers, and pastors to help us get the most good out of the Lord’s Day and to help us continue living God’s way throughout the week. If we learn a lot from a particular Bible Study, it encourages our teacher when we say so. If a particular youth activity was really fun for us, we should thank our youth minister for planning it. We can also send the occasional card, text message, or email saying how much we appreciate the hard work our church leaders put in for the good of the church.
  • Thank God. When we keep the Sabbath the way God commands, we see more and more clearly what a great gift the Lord’s Day is. Cherishing the Sabbath makes us want to praise God still more for His goodness to us.