Confessions of a Rejected Author

BelieveWe are told that if we pray hard enough … long enough … that you will get what your heart desires. Added to that is the phrase “if it is a Godly desire”. I’m fairly sure this is a cultural teaching, but that is not the point. The point is, we pray, expecting to get what we pray for. The “God is a vending machine” mentality. This idea goes hand in hand with the idea of God making us prosper. That we will have a happy life with no issues, other than where to spend our money, because he has made us so prosperous.

Somewhere in all of this, the idea that we are tested and that the enemy attacks us is lost. Maybe because we don’t want to hear it, or maybe because, too often, the bible verses “Ask and it will be give to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matthew 7:8) and “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mark 11:24), are taken out of context and used as a one shot to bolster the spirits of Christians and non-Christians alike.

If you actually read further in Matthew 7, you will see that Jesus is actually talking about being given what is GOOD for us by our heavenly Father. “Which of you, if his son asks for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him.” (Matthew 7:9-11)

The verse in Mark is taken out of context as well. If you read several verses before this one, you find out that Jesus curses a fig tree and the next morning, Peter expressed amazement that the curse Jesus spoke came to be. It is there we find the meaning of this story. “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. (Mark 11:22) Simple, precise, and to the point. This verse is not telling you that YOU demand of God, but instead, trust that God’s promises and God’s will will be carried out.

Does that mean we shouldn’t pray for what we desire?

Of course it doesn’t. But if you ask people if they got every desire of their heart, the answer is going to be no.

But doesn’t that mean it wasn’t a Godly desire?

Not necessarily. I prayed long and hard that my son would be healed and get to come home with us a happy, healthy, and normal little boy. I even took comfort in the idea that Godly desires are granted. It took our family preacher at the time telling me that just because I prayed, doesn’t mean I would get it. As much as I didn’t like to hear it then, I am SO grateful he spoke that truth into my soul at that time. Because when I DIDN’T get the desired answer from God, I didn’t lose faith. I kept the knowledge that God’s will doesn’t necessarily translate directly into what I want. But I also don’t believe that my desire was not put there by God. I fully believe that He, as our loving Father, would never want that type of pain to be given to one of his children.

I had a Godly desire, but God still said no. I do not have all the answers to the “why” behind it. And the day I finally do, I don’t think it will matter, since I will be with God and all of my lost babies.

Prayer will not always give you what you want. Sometimes, there is a “no” answer. And that is okay.

At the end of 2015, I submitted my first story to be considered for publication. (It was my “first” in terms of it was more than the rough draft. I actually worked on refining it and having others read it to help me fix big mistakes.) It was part of a contest and I was nervous and excited. I hoped I would win, but told myself I didn’t hold out much hope. (That was a lie to myself…I’m working on that!) But I would pray. I prayed long and hard some nights for God to let me win the contest and my my story be one of the five chosen. I even went as far as laying out why I wanted to win. (I realized later that this was only half the truth … but more on that in a bit.)

So February of 2016 came around, and I saw a post that made it seem like the winners had already been notified and I hadn’t been contacted. I was devastated. I felt like the best I could give wasn’t good enough and there is no way God intended for me to write because I wanted to win so bad. I didn’t do much other writing in February, telling myself I needed the time to recoup from my disappointment. I had really given up on myself at that time.

Towards the end of February, hoping for something I missed, I re-read the blog post that I THOUGHT said the winners had already been notified. I read and re-read the wording of a certain part and realized that I had been initially mistaken. The winners didn’t know who they were yet. There was still hope! But I still had about a week and half of anxious waiting before I would know for sure. The wait was going to do me in!

I prayed again that I would win the contest. But this time, I focused on a part of the prayer I had missed when I was praying in January…I prayed that God’s will be done. I was a lot calmer and a lot more focused on the fact that with all the entries in the contest, the chances of me winning was slim (there were only 5 winners of who knows how many … but it was more than 100).

So March 1 came along, and I read the announcement page. Sure enough, my name wasn’t listed as the five winners. Nor was it listed in the 5 runner ups. I was disappointed, but this time, I started thinking of the why.

Why was my desperate desire not granted. I had a Godly reason behind it. I wanted my story to touch and impact a person positively. So if I had a good reason, why was there a no.

I did a lot of soul searching the days after I saw the announcement. I finally realized that me wanting to impact the people who read my story was only part of the reason I wanted to win.

If I won, my story would be published, and I could figuratively thumb my nose at all those people who told me I couldn’t do it (even myself).

If I won, I would get money and my name in print … on a real life published book, published through a publisher that, while small, was an actual publisher that gave out rejections. This publisher is not a vanity press! It is the real deal!

If I won, I would be able to go to my library and tell them, “Hey I have a story that is going to be published.” I would have my name out there!

None of these reasons are inherently “bad” reasons (except for maybe the first one that hits a little too close to pride…). But they are all reasons that I lied to myself about. I’m sure there are other reasons I’m still keeping from myself, too.

My point with this, though, is to say that even though I prayed and had a good desire…a desire that, I believe, was placed there by God, it wasn’t my only desire. I would venture to say that it probably wasn’t even my STRONGEST desire.

I’m sure, like my prayer of healing for my son, there are multiple reasons why God said “no” to me having my story win, I think I’ve figured out a few.

One reason is I needed to learn a bit of humility. We all do, but I was so caught up on what I would do or say when I finally got published, that I started to think of myself as better than others. I spent some time reading other stories that were similar to mine after I submitted my story. “Mine was better than that one,” was a strong thought I had in the three months between when I submitted the story and when the winners were announced.

Another reason is I needed to look deep into my own reasoning and my own thoughts as to the “why” behind my desires. I only spoke of my “other” desires to, really, my husband. I kept them well hidden from myself most of the time and tried to “hide” them from God (that never works because He always knows …). If anyone would have asked me my reasons behind wanting to win, I would have whipped out my “I want to impact someone who reads my story” excuse.

If I had won, I would have never thought on my other reasons. I would have been prideful and arrogant and would have pushed my agendas, without much thought to the reason I told everyone about.

God answers prayers. I have seen it happen. I have witnessed it happening. But sometimes, the answer is “no.” We can’t ever know the full extent of the reason behind the no, but there is a reason. And we need to maintain our faith and belief that not only does God want to give us what we ask for, but he wants us to actually have better than we ask for. And this means, sometimes, He has to say “no.”

20150808_074211Author Bio:

Jill Fortriede is a stay-at-home-mom and future homeschooler. She has three beautiful girls here on Earth and three babies in heaven. She loves fairy tales, Narnia, and most things speculative.

A Season to Shine Beyond

candles_2aAs my friend and I began to redesign my website to reflect more of my fiction writing than my editing (although I still do both), I found myself reflecting on what themes connected me, my writing, and my editing–not an easy task. I didn’t want to take away from my editing tagline (Making your next project S.H.I.N.E.), but I needed something that was more.

Shine Beyond is a vision for me, for my life, for my writing, and even spreading into my editing. As a born again child of the King, I have this light that I am responsible for. (“This little light of mine . . .” Yes, you’re welcome.) A light that needs to shine beyond me, beyond the darkness in this world.

This year, on Wednesdays, I’m inviting my friends–writers and non-writers–to share stories, articles, devotions, etc. that encourage others to Shine Beyond. If you haven’t already signed up to receive my blog posts/newsletter, I encourage you to do so. You won’t want to miss these posts!

If you are interested in participating, shoot me an e-mail! (My name at gmail.com–all lowercase.) In the meantime, I’m curious . . .

What or who has made a difference in YOUR life?

Stand in Faith (by Sandra Ardoin)

Our church choir sings a praise song on occasion. It’s called “I Will Not Be Shaken.” It’s the kind of song to set your toes tapping and hands clapping. Maybe you know it. If not, here’s a YouTube link to another choir’s version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoxbKyCoaPM. Enjoy!

I mention this song because of the words in the chorus. As I listened to them one Sunday, my creativity sprang to life, and I saw them as a basis for a story. I began to get ideas right there in the pew. Does that ever happen to you? Frankly, I don’t care for those moments that interfere with my worship time, so I highlighted the words in my bulletin, something I normally throw away, and brought them home with me to ponder later.

If there is one thing we can blame on this writing gig, it’s that it shakes our faith on occasion. No, I’m not referring to our faith in Christ. Hopefully, that’s solid in anyone who writes for Him. I’m writing of our faith in our abilities.

How often have you entered a writing contest, received your feedback, and wanted to curl up on the bed with your thumb in your mouth? (Okay, for writers, it’s a chocolate bar—for me, a Three Musketeers.) Maybe you’ve received rejection after rejection for a story you’ve poured your heart into, one you believed God whispered in your ear as you took dictation. Perhaps, you’ve received rave reviews, but the book isn’t selling as well as others in the same Amazon category. Do you ever wonder why you bother to open the computer in the morning?

Writing is a tough on the self-esteem. We have a tendency to think that, because God gave us the desire to write stories and we spent months (sometimes years) practicing the craft and sweating over each sentence, we’re automatically entitled to hit the ECPA bestseller list. When we don’t, we can sink into discouragement.

Throughout the years, I’ve returned over and over to Isaiah 55:8 when I need a reminder of WHO God is and who I am in relation to Him.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

FINAL AReluctantMelodyWhew! What a powerful statement—and a humbling one. In my mind, those words go hand-in-hand with Jeremiah 29:11. If both are not a call to trust Him, even when we don’t understand why our plans are “unsuccessful,” I don’t know what it will take.

It can be hard to accept that His will for our writing may be as simple as teaching us something about ourselves through the experiences of fictional characters. I know I’ve grown in my faith through writing about the journeys of my invisible friends. As my hero, Kit Barnes, learns: Be Strong! Be strong in the power of God’s might. Be strong and stand.

He has a plan for each of us in our writing career. Yours will be different from mine. Whatever it is, it’s right for you. Whatever mine is, it’s right for me.

So when you doubt your ability to create, STAND. Stand firm in your trust of His plan. Stand firm in the knowledge that God has placed the desire to write in you for a reason, even if those words never reach anyone but you.

 

Sandra Ardoin_HeadshotBIO:

Sandra Ardoin is a multi-published author of short fiction who writes inspirational historical romance, such as her Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel and her January release, A Reluctant Melody. She’s the married mother of a young adult and lives in North Carolina.

Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Receive her newsletter updates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

January 2016 Goals!

PIC1068506062Bring on the New Year! It’s time to get down to business. I have lots of plans for making 2016 the best year yet. But it’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of perseverance, and lot of prayer. No worries, I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

In evaluating my accomplishments and struggles from last year, I’ve determined that I lacked a serious support system. I mostly made my goals myself, but nobody held me accountable and nobody pushed me if I was slacking. Turns out, I don’t have much will power when I get into a overwhelmed or defeatist mood.

Changes to my Approach

Some things I’m changing/improving to help me achieve more in 2016:

*I’m partnering with my good friend and fellow fantasy author, J.L. Mbewe, to hold each other accountable with our goals–both business and personal–using monthly video chats and weekly check-ins via Facebook.

*I’m going digital! This is the first year that I will have everything related to organization online. Google Calendars will hold my family calendar, writing calendar, project calendar, and menu planning (possibly cleaning) calendar. I’ll continue using ToDoIst for my to-do list, while expanding categories and use within the program. Both Google Calendars and ToDoIst can be used across devices, so I can update from wherever I am.

*I’m planning my schedule with “time boxes” in mind. (See more about this and other productivity methods here.) With time blocks, I’m giving myself permission to focus on just this ONE task/project for a set amount of time. Because I know the time is set, I don’t have to feel overwhelmed by the project as a whole (if it’s a bit one) but will be making progress; plus, I allow myself not to worry about “other things” because I know I will get to them in their time block. Best of all, it will keep stuff like social media and e-mails from being giant time suckers!

I’m combining this with a couple of other productivity methods, like 15-minute sprints (for cleaning, meal prep, e-mails, etc.) and anti-procrastination philosophies.

*Most important, I’m bringing God back into all areas of my life. I know this may sound hokey or weird, but I’ve found myself pushing God to the back burner, not waiting for or heeding or sometimes even seeking His guidance. That’s why this is a God-first year! More prayer, more listening, more Bible study to bring me into a place of close relationship with Him again.

With those 4 items in my arsenal, along with not biting off more than I can chew or taking my health for granted, I have high hopes for this year!

My Goals for January

  1. Re-install quiet times in the morning and make church a priority. I will start getting up at 6 a.m. to ensure I have time for Bible study and prayer before I start my work day around 6:30 a.m. I will also start preparing for church on Sunday the night before so that I have no excuses for not going unless someone is ill.
  2. Work with my doctor to start making lifestyle changes to improve my health. I have a doctor appointment today, the first one in over a year, with a new doctor. I need to go get my blood sugar under control as well as ensure that nothing else is out of control.
  3. Prepare Bellanok Part 3 for publication the first week in February. I need to finish writing/revising it by Jan. 10; get it back from my critiquers the following week; finish final revisions by Jan. 24; and then get it out to my proofreader/formatter. Whew! (This is what happens when you fall behind over the holidays.)
  4. Put out my first official newsletter to e-mail subscribers. (Sign up now if you haven’t already!)
The sweatshirt I'm wearing this morning!

The sweatshirt I’m wearing this morning!

Yes, I’m pushing myself this month. I need to. I need to see what I’m capable of with this new attitude. Like I said, I have high hopes for the year to come, and that will only happen if I’m healthy and wise.

What are a couple of your goals for January?

Let’s share and keep each other accountable! (If you leave your goals, I will put you on a list, which I will be praying over all month long. In next month’s goal post, I will list your name and goals at the bottom of the list and ask to see how you did! Won’t it be nice to share struggles and achievements?)

A “God First” Year

God FirstinIt’s hard to believe that 2016 is already here. Seems like yesterday I was promising myself to write 500 words/day and lose 30 pounds by Realm Makers. The year flew by–and while I managed to write ore this year than in 2014, I didn’t keep to the 500 word/day, and I think I might have gained some weight.

But, I’m not going to let that get me down. I’m going to face 2016 with all the hope of a blank slate and a new year. Who’s with me?

Now, I’ve made a habit of choosing a word to represent my focus for the coming year. In 2014, that word was prayer, in 2015, it was Happy & Healthy. Usually these words come to me pretty quickly when I’ve sat down to pray and peruse the Bible. This year, though, it was actually a struggle. A few weeks passed. In fact, it was only in the past week that I settled on my new focus.

God First.

Do you ever find yourself skipping out on church because there’s so much work to be done? Me too

Do you ever hit the snooze instead of getting up to enjoy some quiet time with God? Oh yeah.

Do you ever forgo your Bible time in favor of a good fiction book? Yep.

I’m sure we’re all guilty of these at time or another. But more and more these past few years, I’ve been putting these things off more and more often. I’m letting myself become an ineffective Christian.

But I don’t want to be ineffective. I want to be on fire for God. All the time.

I want to put Him first in my life. Before my family. Before my writing. Before all the other things that creep up and strangle my time and focus.

Trust the Lord with all your heart,

And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,

And He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 3:5-6

God should be first in my marriage, first in my family, first in my work. He should even be first when considering my finances, my schedule, my homeschool, and my health.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that He’s here in the day-t0-day, right beside us. He wants us to reach out to Him in all things–big and small. He wants s to push ourselves by leaning on Him and letting Him lay out our paths.

As I’m sitting here, considering my goals for 2016, my first thoughts are on how God can lead me in the different areas, how I can put Him first.

I know that I have a lot to learn this year. I look forward to the Holy Spirit’s guidance as I delve deeper into relationship with God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.

What is your word for 2016? What does it mean to you?

A Spekkie Author Christmas

A Spekkie ChristmasSpekkie? What’s a spekkie? Well, I’m glad you asked.

A spekkie is the nickname people at Realm Makers have given speculative fiction writers. What’s speculative fiction? Well, that’s a term that encompasses genres like fantasy, sci-fi, supernatural, and the like.

It’s been several years since I delved into the world of speculative fiction. And what an exciting adventure it has been! I’ve met a lot of amazing people who have imaginations as wild as mine–many more so.

For the next few Wednesdays, I thought I’d introduce y’all to the minds and hearts of these unique people through something we all share: Christmas. Each week, I’ll ask a question and share the answers from a few different authors. Some are published, some are not. Some are older, some are barely 18. Some write fantasy, some write sci-fi. All are wonderful people to know.

So, without further ado, here is the question for Week 1:

We’re finally allowed to listen to Christmas music without people looking at us weird! What is your favorite Christmas song and why?

 

I tend to be rather Old School when it comes to religious and holiday stuff. In this case, I’m very Old School. One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Lulay Mine Liking,” which had its start in the Medieval era (15th C). Other favorites include “O Holy Night” (1847) and “O Come Emmanuel” (tune: 15th C, words: 1710). —Cindy Koepp

 

Well, it’s hard to stick with just one, but this time I’ll say O Come O Come Emmanuel. When we sang this on the first Sunday of Advent this year, we sang a verse I hadn’t heard before. It wasn’t in our old hymnal:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Kristen Stieffel

 

I like all the songs mere mortals (like me) shouldn’t even attempt to sing: “O Holy Night,” “Silent Night,” “O Come All Ye Faithful.” If I sound like a dying cat singing it, it’s probably one of my favorites. —Lindsay A. Franklin

 

It’s a toss-up between “Little Drummer Boy” and “Silent Night/Night of Silence.” The former because it speaks of simple faith. We all of us are ‘poor boys, too’ – with nothing extravagant to offer God in exchange for the gifts He gives us!

The latter is not only a beautiful song (it gives me chills!); but it speaks in truly tangible ways of the Hope that came in the form of a babe.

“Mary Did you Know?” is a runner-up. It asks poignant questions and really speaks to how little we truly do understand how much God has done for us. —Josh Hardt

 

This is a hard one. I will say it’s not Christmas without the classics such as Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Bing Crosby. But to choose one song, I think … “O Holy Night.” The flow of the music, each note weaving together and building to a crescendo until you can’t help but sing along albeit out of tune, because who among us non-singing folk can reach those high notes? Or maybe it’s just me. And the message obviously. Contemplating the birth of Christ and why He came. —J.L. Mbewe

 

And last of all . . . me! My favorite Christmas song for a long time was “O Holy Night,” and it is still one of my faves. However, in recent years it was surpassed by “Mary, Did You Know?” That song gives me shivers every time I hear it! Could you imagine being the mother of the Son of God?

 

Thanks to my spekkies for sharing with us today. Next week, we’ll explore the question: What is your favorite Christmas memory? In the meantime . . .

What is YOUR favorite Christmas song?

Never Give Up! (by Ane Mulligan)

 

God invited you on this writing journey with Him, so even when discouragement hits—and it will—don’t give up. God kept the publishing door shut to me for many years. I first went to committee back in 2006. I didn’t get a contract, but I got an agent out of that trip.

I went ahead and wrote another book. The following year, my first manuscript found its way to committee again. Then the second one did. I was getting a lot of affirmation, but no contract. Then, the second book went to pub board. Then the editor retired and her hard drive got wiped clean. The one with my book on it.

Are you seeing a pattern? I was. And it told me God was telling me, “Not now. Not here.” So, I kept on writing. And writing. I had 5 completed, publishable novels by the time I finally got published.

So, if you’re languishing in that land of “Not Yet”, don’t get discouraged. Instead …

 

  • Start a new manuscript. Shelve the one that has you tied up in knots. That’s not a good way to write anyway. Rope burns aren’t pretty.
  • Write a blog post. Whine and kick cabinets, then pull up your big kid panties and get back to work.
  • Plant a garden. Plant one for me too. Digging in the dirt makes me really appreciate my clean keyboard.
  • Search on Novel Rocket for author interviews. We have a listing of all the interviews over the past 10 years. See how their journey went. You’ll find you’re not alone.
  • Try a new genre. If you write women’s fiction, try suspenseful women’s fiction.
  • Knit a scarf. If you’re going to quit, at least find something for your poor fingers to do. Otherwise, they’ll be air typing all the time and you’ll look even crazier than you do now.
  • Write a short story. Ahh, now here’s a piece of good advice. Short stories are a great place to tweak your voice, try writing first person, change genre (see above).
  • Hang out with uplifting people. They don’t pull you down.
  • Start a photography journal. A picture is worth a thousand lectures.
  • Send an encouraging email to another writer who’s discouraged. Then read what you wrote. Yeah. You really do know what to do.

 

And should your discouragement be from writers block, I’ve got good news for you. Really. You see, I’ve found from my age-gained wisdom (and yes, there’s one advantage of growing old) if you simply plant your backside in that chair and start to type, you’ll find inspiration.

One writer shared what she wrote in a spot of blockage: “What am I doing? This is absolute drivel, complete piles of steaming manure. But at least I have words on the page. Now, how did that pile of manure get there? And whose manure is it? ” She went on to say that eventually, the words began to take on meaning. Her characters took over again. They made her delete the drivel and write their story.

Whatever has you discouraged, look to the One Who invited you on this journey. He’s just waiting to inspire you again!

 

Thank you for sharing with us today, Ane! 

Ane has been gracious enough to offer a giveaway for either the Chapel Springs Cookbook or ebook of Chapel Springs Survival. Leave a comment to enter! 

 

Ane Mulligan_ headshotAbout the Author:

Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Novelist and playwright, Ane is the executive director of Players Guild@Sugar Hill, a new community theater and president of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a dog of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane at her website, Novel Rocket, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

 

Chapel Springs Survival

 

CSS Cover2A mail-order bride, a town overrun with tourists, and illegal art.  

How on earth will Claire and Chapel Springs survive?

Claire Bennett’s Operation Marriage Revival succeeded and life is good. That is until the mayor’s brother blabs a secret: Claire’s nineteen-year-old son has married a Brazilian mail order bride. When Claire tries to welcome her, she’s ridiculed, rebuffed, and rejected. Loving this girl is like hugging a prickly cactus.

Lydia Smith is happily living alone and running her spa—then the widow on the hill becomes a blushing bride. Then her groom’s adult son moves in—on everything.

From the first sighting of a country music star in The Painted Loon, Chapel Springs is inundated with stargazers, causing residents to flee the area. When her best friends put their house on the market, Claire is forced to do something or lose the closest thing to a sister she’s got. With her son’s future at stake and the town’s problems to solve, it’s Claire’s who needs a guardian angel.

 

 

 

 

Why I Write Romance (by Patty Smith Hall)

8_CreateaCaption‘And the LORD GOD said, “It is not good than man should be alone; I will make a helpmeet for him.”’ Genesis 2:18 KJV

 

Love! Romance! Commitment!

And that’s just Genesis, folks!

A lot of folks don’t know this but I almost gave up writing Christian romance years ago. It was after a published author I admired told me to stop writing ‘fluff’ and work on something that would bring honor to the Lord. The pain I felt at those words! I knew God had called me to write romance but I couldn’t help wondering if this author had a point. Were the books I was writing ‘fluff’ in God’s eyes?

I looked no further than Genesis for the answer, and can now make a daring statement.

Our God is a romantic.

Let’s look at the facts. In the first two chapters of Genesis, the Lord worked a masterpiece. Light and darkness. Earth and sky. The seasons. Fully matured plants and fruits to sustain all the animals. And of course, man.

You’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you?

But even in all that splendor, God saw a problem. Man was alone. Some folks might asked why God didn’t make Adam and Eve at the same time. After all, He knew man wouldn’t like being alone. Maybe God exposed man to solitude for a reason.

Think about that first meeting. After having all the creatures of the earth brought before him, Adam must have felt an emptiness. Where would he find the one creature who would ease his loneliness, the one person he could share the paradise God had created.

In that moment, the Lord stared into the soul of man and knew that his heart was ready. With just a thought, He put Adam to sleep. When he awakes, he’s not alone.

“Adam, I have brought one more creature for you to name.”

Do you think Adam’s heart fluttered in his throat the first time he saw the slope of Eve’s face? Was he breathless as he compared the woman’s soft curves to his hard angles. Or did he simply stare into her eyes and recognize her for what she truly was?

The missing part of himself.

Ah, romance!

It’s hard to have a Christian marriage in today’s society. The world had made the sacred union between a man and a woman into something cheap and sordid. Cheap sex. Empty relationships. Changing partners.

How sad!

As an author of Christian romance, it’s my ministry to portray love and marriage through the filter of God’s Word. To give young women the honest truth behind a loving marriage, a union that includes God at it’s center. A life full of love and commitment.

I can’t help it. I’m a romantic.

Just like my Heavenly Father.

 

IMG_1250About the Author:

 Patty Smith Hall is an award-winning, multi-published author with Love Inspired Historical and Heartsong/Harlequin.  She currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter and calls North Georgia her home which she shares with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Visit her website at www.pattysmithhall.com.

 

 

New Hope Sweethearts

New Hope Sweethearts 2She’s ready to take back her life . . .or what’s left of it.

 After ten years of caring for her invalid grandfather, Kallie Huffman is ready to claim her life as her own. Taking a job in the laboratory of New Hope Community Hospital seems like a logic choice while she waits for her nursing license to be reinstated. That is until she meets Lab Director Jefferson Muster. Kind and intelligent, the handsome doctor is everything Kallie has ever wanted in a man. But what about having a life of her own?

He’s never needed anyone’s help. . .until now.

 Patients are dying at New Hope Community Hospital, and Jeff needs help to discover the culprit before another family loses a loved one. When help comes in the person of Kallie Huffman, the walls Jeff has constructed around his heart after a family tragedy start to crumble. But Kallie craves a life on her own terms. Can two people shaped by heartache trust in a love to last a lifetime?

Confessions from an Angry Chewer (by Hannah Conway)

12227533_790124557784577_1918364416_oAngry chewing: excess, quick grinding of chewing gum until the point one’s jaw tires.

It’s a real thing, or at least it is now.

Confession: I’m an angry chewer. Not angry as in I’m having some inner turmoil eruption. Angry as in focused, determined.

When it’s time to get serious, tackle the job in front of me, I pop in a piece of gum, and go into warrior mode, winning all life’s battles.

Laundry piled high and needs folding? Not a problem. Angry chew.

Forty-two individually wrapped snacks for the kids’ classroom, gluten-free meal plan to create, groceries to buy, and five errands to run across town? Nod my head and angry chew.

Ten thousand words to write in one day? Heavy sigh, wipe the brow, then angry chew.

This Army wife gets a lot done when she angry chews. Chomping my way to success—or at least trying to.

Trying—that’s the key word.

For whatever reason, there’s a roll-up-my-sleeves-get-to-work-and-make-things-happen attitude engrained within me, and I’d argue that it exists inside a great majority of us.  It’s not a bad thing on its own, but that’s the problem—we often go at these mountains and molehills of life on our own. I frequently try without first consulting The One who will and who can. Why must I learn this lesson over and over? It seems I’m forgetful regarding the source of my strength.

There came a day, like many before, when the gum chomping no longer helped me focus, make it through, and overcome. My husband was gearing up to deploy, again. We’d been through them before. I knew what to expect, but no matter how often he left, it never got easier to watch him go. Biting my lip, forcing tears back into my eyes, I watched him leave, and kept strong for our children. I held them while they cried, and sobbed alone later that evening.

Gum didn’t help. Chocolate didn’t console (Oh, but it tried in all its deliciousness.) Even coffee couldn’t give me back that get-up-and-make-things-happen attitude. My strength failed. Life crashed over me. Too many things were out of my control.

My husband was thousands of miles away in a battle of his own, and I fought to maintain the Homefront.

Exhausting.

It didn’t take long to remember who I needed to call for help.

This gum chomping Army wife went back to her knees, opened her Bible, and remembered the source of her strength.  I needed God to protect my husband and his men. To lead them. To help me get through rearing children, meet writing deadlines, and accomplish day to day tasks. And He did. He helped. He helped me prioritize, and gave me the rest I needed, the support to surround me, the strength to go on, and not just go on, but thrive.

No amount of gum chewing, intense focus, or will power will ever be enough to get us through life the way God intends. We’re meant to flourish, not get by.

Yes, perhaps for a season our strength will be enough, but we all grow weary. However, when we hand our life, its joys, and trials over to God, give it over to The One who never tires.  Now, that’s some great news, and saves my jaw muscles!

Many blessings to you and your family, and Happy Veterans’ Day! Thank you to those who serve, and to their families who serve as well.  In honor of Veterans’ and their families— active duty, reserve, and retired, I’d like to honor you with a prize give-away through the month of November. Stop on by, check it out, and enter to win.

 

12228001_790124644451235_1898847426_oBIO:

Hannah Conway is a Kentucky native, Army Wife, Mother, Speaker, and Author with Olivia Kimbrell Press. She holds a BA in History from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, is an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and resides with her family in Tennessee.

 

BOOK:

12214300_790124667784566_1483606360_oThe Wounded Warrior’s Wife

Battles Raging Within Are Ones You Must Fight To Win

Army wife, Whitleigh Cromwell, struggles after an unexpected deployment during the height of the Iraqi war sends her husband, Collier Cromwell, away for another year. Their lives tumble down a path marked with strife, and fatalities, crippling their faith when Collier brings home a war of another kind leaving Whitleigh wondering if some wounds are beyond God’s ability to restore.

 

Purchase The Wounded Warrior’s Wife @ any of these sites:

A / IBook / BN / K / ChristianBooks

 

CONNECT WITH HANNAH

Web:               www.hannahrconway.com

Facebook:      www.facebook.com/authorhannahconway

SIGN UP FOR THE LETTING FREEDOM RING QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER: Stay up to date on the latest book news, live events, free content, and giveaways:  http://tiny.cc/hannahconwaynews

Confidence in Uncertainty (by Jennifer Slattery)

cohdra_100_8769What would you do, if you knew you couldn’t possibly fail?

You’ve probably heard that question before, maybe at a conference, or perhaps you read it in a Facebook meme. We love questions like that, don’t we? They remind us of God’s incomprehensible power and faithful love. For surely, if He plants the desire within us, and if He calls us to it, the doors will begin to open fast and wide.

But what if I asked a different question? What would you do if you knew you might fail? If you knew the road would be hard and paved with setbacks? What if God was calling you to that road?

Same God. Same call. Vastly different questions. And for some, perhaps they result in vastly different answers.

But either way, the answer comes down to obedience.

When I first sensed God’s call to write, I fought Him. Oh, I dabbled in writing here and there, but my commitment, my determination? My surrender?

Not there.

I wanted to see results. I wanted guarantees—if I do X for Y amount of time, Z will happen. At the time I was going to school, pursuing a teaching degree. Then a chemistry degree. I considered geology. I could never quite settle on anything, because my heart was elsewhere. My heart was meant for story, regardless of how I fought against this.

The more I resisted God’s call, the more frustration I felt. The desire to write welled up within me until it was almost unbearable. But at this point, I’d jammed my schedule so full of classes; I didn’t have the time for much else.

In a way, I felt like Jonah. He knew what God wanted him to do, but God’s call didn’t mesh with Jonah’s plans. So he ran, hard and far, even to the point of asking sailors to throw him into the ocean.

But God pursued him and found him. Until all Jonah could do was surrender, and yet, even then, things didn’t turn out like Jonah had planned.

I was afraid, should I surrender, things wouldn’t go as I’d planned either, and I’d be left, decades later, with nothing to show for my efforts but a bunch of files on my computer.

So I asked God for reassurance, for guarantees.

Instead, He pointed me to a verse:

“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels–a plentiful harvest of new lives” (NLT).

If I wanted to bear fruit, the kind that would last, I first had to die, truly die—to my will, my life-plan, my security.

God made it clear, I was to obey, without clinging to a safety net or forming a back-up plan, regardless of what lay ahead, whether or not I ever became published.

I was to obey simply because my Savior had asked me to.

That was back in 2009. I didn’t receive my first contract until 2013, and for four long years, God’s message to me was the same: I was to obey out of obedience alone.

Regardless of what lay ahead, where He directed me, or what became of my efforts.

His message to me today, three releases later, is the same.

But the surrender’s become easier, not because of my contracts, but because I realize in my very depths, He’s worth it.

And the divine intimacy I receive from walking in His will, that’s worth more than a thousand contracts.

Where are you in your writing journey? Have you just begun to answer the call? Whether you’ve just started writing or have dozens of titles to your name, this journey is tough and unpredictable, and if we’re not careful, the uncertainty of it all can paralyze us. But obedience and surrender? That frees us. How might focusing on obedience, rather than results, help you walk with determination and confidence?

 

BCheadshot2013About the Author:

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and devotions for Internet Café Devotions, the group blog, Faith-filled Friends, and her personal blog. She also does content editing for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas Firefly imprint, and loves working with authors who are serious about pursuing their calling. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte

 

Intertwined:

Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? Could this be where life begins again?

Intertwined_N154121Intertwined, part of New Hope Publisher’s contemporary fiction line, is a great reminder of how God can turn our greatest tragedies and failures into beautiful acts of love and grace. Readers will fall in love with the realistic characters and enjoy the combination of depth, heart-felt emotion and humor that makes Jennifer’s novels so appealing. Readers will be inspired to find God in every moment and encounter in their own lives!

 

Buy it:

CBD: http://www.christianbook.com/intertwined-a-contemporary-romance-novel/jennifer-slattery/9781596694439/pd/694430?event=ESRCN

 

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Intertwined-Jennifer-Slattery/dp/1596694432/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/intertwined-jennifer-slattery/1121268293?ean=9781596694439