Friday, December 30, 2011

Brief Hibernation Ends - Word for 2012

Well, I TRIED to hibernate for awhile, but it lasted only a short time. I could probably hibernate for a couple of seasons and still want more.

As I wound down the year, I reflected on the busy-ness of 2011. We accomplished a great deal - enough that our lives are no longer considered "boring" by my kids!

Each year I pray for the Lord to give me a word for the coming year. For 2011, He gave me the word CELEBRATE. It was a difficult year in many ways, but through it all, we continued to celebrate HIM. Some of the things we achieved this year , through His guidance and favor, include:


  • Completed 10 classes for school. I was actually surprised I'd finished that many - and lived to tell about it.


  • Started two publishing companies that published three books this year, and we're already hard at work on the next five to be released during the first half of 2012.


  • Wrote one short script, a mystery novella, over a dozen short stories and essays, articles, press releases, marketing materials, and worked on two other novels.


  • Was interviewed over a dozen times, in person, by phone, and by email.


  • Participated in the Citizen's Police Academy.


  • Rang the bell for the Salvation Army.


Lots more, but that's enough to celebrate, don't you think?

My Word for 2012

When I prayed for a new word, the Lord gave me the word HOPE.

As I prayed about this word, God made it clear that the word isn't for me to HOPE for things, but to give HOPE to those who lack it. I'm normally quite the hermit, because my job allows me to stay home most of the time. But being out every day during the Christmas season, I experienced something new and heartbreaking. The world is filled with people who seem to have no hope. Why is that?

But the bigger question for me this year - what can I do about it?

Can you give someone hope this year?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Support the Troops: Christine Cunningham

A few weeks ago, I got involved with a special effort to show our military troops support during the holiday season - authors from all across the country are donating e-books as gifts for military members (www.ebooksforsoldiers.com).

To help promote the Support the Troops effort, many of the participating authors are interviewing other authors to get the word out.

Today, I'm happy to introduce you to one of these participating authors - Christine Cunningham, who writes fictional stories for the general market.




Welcome, Christine - we're so glad you could join us. Please tell us a little about your books.

Eternal Beginning: This book is about my own personal journey to the life I have always wanted. Granted I took some artistic license with the story, but the main message I want to get across to readers is every moment you can begin again. Each moment is an eternal beginning.


First Snow: This story is about Nell and her yearly dwindling holiday cheer. She longs for a family of her own. When sparks fly between Nell and her Monday morning regular at the bakery, Hasan, she thinks her wish is finally going to be answered. Then Hasan bluntly tells her that he doesn’t want to have children.

Did you encounter any surprises when writing these books?

I have had characters “argue” with me when I try to get them to do something I want them to do, but it doesn’t truly fit. That was a surprise! Characters can wake me up and demand to be written.  It’s a pretty surreal experience sometimes.

If you took a vacation with one of your characters, which one would it be, and where would you go?

I would definitely take a vacation with Hasan (sorry Nell). Hasan is pretty much my ideal man.  He’s educated, skilled with his hands, and a gentleman plus I’m a sucker for brown eyes. We would travel to India and experience the amazing, diverse culture there. We wouldn’t stay away long because I’m such a homebody, but it’s likely to be the best vacation of all time.


What aspect of writing a novel do you find the most difficult?

I find putting down the tedious in-between details is the most difficult. I love to write the scenes that are full of angst or the first kiss. The day to day activities are such a bore, but they make the character relatable. I almost want to write, “You know what happens here so let’s get back to the good stuff.”

I sooo identify with that - I always have to go back and layer in the details. Will you be a writer for the rest of your life?

I feel kind of guilty that I don’t eat, sleep, and breathe writing. This is an incredible ride for me now and I truly love writing right now. I know I will change my life’s vocation over and over again, but that’s just how I’m wired. I’ve been a martial arts instructor/kick boxing instructor, pharmacy technician, delivery driver, and who knows what’s next? It’s a very exciting feeling!

What do you like to do when you aren’t writing, editing, marketing?

Usually sleep! Actually I do love to play the piano and crochet from time to time. I’m also determined to learn French and travel in Canada. My two cats and I sometimes just snuggle on the couch and I read the latest in my stack o’ books.

Why is giving books to support our troops important to you?

I believe if there’s a way I can lift the spirit of another it’s my duty to do so. This is such an easy way to accomplish that goal that I couldn’t pass it up.

Thanks for joining us today, Christine, and thanks so much for supporting our troops. 

Readers, you can find Christine and her books on the Web:

Eternal Beginning- http://amzn.to/pkBzEC 
First Snow- http://amzn.to/v6GmaF 
Facebook- http://on.fb.me/rod2p5
Twitter- http://bit.ly/otU535 



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fun Friday a Day Late

Yesterday, I posted a blog on our local Patch site, and meant to cross-post it here, but time slipped away. As I went about my day, I remembered some other observations I'd hoped to share, so I'll post them here with a link to yesterday's post on Patch.

I've so enjoyed spending time as a bell ringer for the Salvation Army. This is our final week, and I've learned a great deal. And for the record, in yesterday's post, I think I mentioned warm temps? Well, today, we're set to be 30 degrees colder than we've been for the past several days. So brrrrrr...

A few more observations:

1) I finally learned the reason my daddy thought it so important to teach us how to rub our heads with one hand and pat our tummy with the other - at the same time. Trying to wave with one hand and ring a bell with the other - well, let's just say I'm definitely right-handed and doing both simultaneously has presented quite a challenge. I wonder if beauty queens are taught to rub and pat their tummies and heads?

2) A confession: I've actually dropped the bell a few times! The first week was awful - I dropped it at least twice a shift. But the last few days I began priding myself because I hadn't dropped it for awhile - then I did it again last night. How hard can holding that thing be?

3) Some people can be so nice, it reduces me to tears. Others can be not-so-nice and cause the same effect. Thankfully, the nice ones are in the majority. And it gives me great hope for the future when it's young people - tweens and teens - who show compassion and kindness through their words and actions.

4) I had a few more "celebrity" sightings yesterday! One customer looked like George W. Bush, and another like Celine Dion. Oh - and I forgot to tell you about the one who looked like Clark Kent. I know - there are so many versions and this guy didn't really look like any of them. But if I were casting a new Superman, this guy would be at the top of my list - he just looked like a Clark Kent.

Okay - it's time for us to go out for the day before I take my next shift. If you're in the Woodstock area, drop by the Towne Lake Kroger from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. to say hello and help fill my kettle. And say a prayer for me tonight - that I'll stay warm and be a blessing to everyone I encounter.

P.S. Phase 2 of the Sandi Rog fundraiser continues - you can donate to an excellent cause which gives you a raffle ticket for as little as $2 for a chance to win a Kindle Fire or Nook Color. (The drawing for that is tonight - Saturday - so donate quickly!)


Observations from My First Day of Bell Ringing
More Observations on Bell Ringing

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Write Your Passion: Following Your Heart

Writing Your Passion
by Staci Stallings


I think in every writer's life there comes a point where you have to decide what you're going to write and how you're going to write it. For me, that decision has shown up several times in different ways over the last 16 years.

Let me explain.

The first time I hit this decision came in writing the early chapters of my first book. I knew the book was a romance, and that was great by me. I'd devoured my share of them when I was younger. So here I was, typing away, when I found my heroine in the water, swimming for her life, trying to save a young man she'd just met. To make matters worse, she had cut her leg in the accident that landed them in the water.

She was going down, losing strength, and not nearly close enough to the shoreline to save them both. And I stopped.

Think about running full speed into a brick wall.

That pretty much describes that stop.

And I sat here and sat here and sat here. What to do next? This was long before anyone had ever heard of Christian romance. Oh, sure, there were historicals in that genre, but contemporary? No. Non-existent.

What to do? Could I let her pray? Should I? I thought back to every romance I'd ever read. None of them mentioned God. Not one. Ever. None of the characters ever prayed either. Hmm ...

I was stymied. If I wrote her praying, could I ever publish the book? If I didn't, could I write a whole book about someone who never spoke of or knew God? God was so central to my life, and they always say, "Write what you know.” So with a final breath, I did. She cried out to God just before help arrived.

After I let a few friends read that one, several of them commented about that prayer. They were surprised because they'd never read anyone praying in a book before ... especially not a romance!

Flash forward about five years, and the contemporary Christian lines were beginning to be seen on bookshelves. You would think that would validate my "write your passion" premise, but God had other ideas.

You see, my books don't fit in the lines. One, they are too long. Two, my characters don't act the way good little Christian characters are supposed to. The plotlines in my books don't revolve around external conflict like someone losing their house or bad guys coming to kidnap the heroine. Instead, they revolve around internal conflict--like not believing in God or being angry with God for a loss or feeling less than no matter what you accomplish.

So when I started to try to get editors, agents, and traditional houses interested, I kept getting the same feedback: "Write this the way we want it written, in this little box, and we'll consider it."

The problem was, I just couldn't. If I took out half the story to fit their word count or made the hero at peace with God and life, it ruined the story!

Again, I had to decide: Should I write what the world said I had to write in order to gain "success," or should I write my heart and let God decide what happened?

Well, it should be rather obvious what my decision was when I tell you I now own my own publishing company, and that I have 11 books out on Kindle and Nook, and every one of them has characters who skirt the rails or sometimes go flying off of them.

I don't say this path is right for everyone, but I know it was right for me. It allowed me to write the stories God gives me to write the way He gives them to me. To me, that's worth all the "success" the world said I would miss if I just listened to them instead of to my heart.

That's how I "Write my Passion."

Join Staci Stallings and 9 of her author friends at WoMen's Literary Cafe's Christian Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE! 


Monday, December 12, 2011

Mystery Monday: What's in a Mystery? (Part 4)

Defining the Genre
by Jenna Victoria


Recently, my husband and I visited a local Italian restaurant that features a popular, extensive gelato bar.  I was amazed at the variety of flavors – more than 62 in all, bearing names such as Artic White, Batter Blast and Stracciatella (similar to chocolate chip). I had never tried gelato before – and when I queried the waitress about the taste, she shrugged and said “it’s like ice cream, but the flavor is different, more intense.”

What does this have to do with a blog post about mysteries?  Well, it’s elementary, my dear Watson. We could offer the waitress’s exact same response in answer to the question, what is the difference between suspense and mystery?  A suspense novel is like a mystery – but with a more intense, emotionally-driven flavor.

Famous filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock had the following explanation:



One of the simplest rules of thumb for describing the difference is -- a mystery novel (whodunit) elaborates on something that has already occurred in the past – e.g. a murder – and the author provides clues as to the identity of the perpetrator. In a suspense novel, there may be a murder in the past, but the emphasis is on the crime – the danger – the anticipation of something new happening to the hero or heroine, keeping the reader/viewer on the edge of their seats.  I’ve also seen the term, “killer thrillers” apply to suspense.

I’ll paraphrase a succinct example from Hitchcock.  Let’s say you show a scene where people are sitting at a table, having a conversation, and then a bomb placed under the table explodes.  That’s fine - what results is fifteen seconds of surprise. The mystery unfolds with people trying to discover “whodunit.”  However, if you show the reader/viewer the placement of the bomb ahead of time, and show the bomb’s timer set for 1 p.m., and then show the clock on the wall indicating it is 12:30 p.m. – well you now have a half hour of suspense for the reader/viewer as those people converse, versus fifteen seconds of surprise.

Who are top authors in each genre?  I could equate the number of top mystery authors with those gelato varieties – too many to list!  However, there are some worthy of special mention – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books, anything by Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, Ross MacDonald and Dorothy L. Sayers.  More on the contemporary side, we have Rita Mae Brown, John Grisham, Sue Grafton, and Tom Clancy.

On the suspense side, there are authors who consistently deliver – Lawrence Block, Stephen Hunter, Ken Follett, Scott Turow, and James Rollins.  My two favorite suspense authors are part of a team – Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.  Their series featuring FBI special agent Aloysius Xingu L. Pendergast is first rate.

In Christian fiction, over the past few years, the suspense genre has seen an explosion of grittier, more suspense-driven books on the shelves.   Here is an excellent resource to find Christian suspense books: http://www.thesuspensezone.com.

I have followed authors such as Kate Charles and PD James, who feature Anglican/Episcopal themes (I recall The Snares of Death, A Drink of Deadly Wine, and Appointed to Die were very good). Here is a link for these types of mysteries:

Other favorite Christian mystery authors are Colleen Coble, Mindy Starns Clark, and newcomer Nike Chillemi – her debut novel, Burning Hearts (Sanctuary Point Book One) is a riveting and satisfying read.

In the end, it is said that a great mystery stimulates our minds, while a great suspense story stimulates our emotions.  Both have their place in the world of mystery genres – which is why my to be read pile contains an equal number of both.

Jenna Victoria is an East-Coast based aspiring novelist whose articles have appeared in magazines and newspapers.  She is currently writing an inspirational romantic suspense series, and serves as President of Faith, Hope and Love, the inspirational romance chapter of Romance Writers of America.  She is also a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and My Book Therapy.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Fun Friday: Observations of a Bell Ringer

Wednesday evening, I began serving as a Salvation Army bell ringer at the Towne Lake Kroger. Here are a few things I learned on my first day:
1) Layers make all the difference.
Wild Weather Wednesday. One customer described the fierce winds as a hurricane. When I woke at 7 a.m., the temp was 61. By the time I went to work at 3 p.m., the temp had dropped to 43. When I got off at 7 p.m., it was 41. But I stayed comfortable - I had on enough layers to clothe a few people - my green elf slippers were even hidden under my jeans and shoes.
2) Even the Scroogiest faces will crack a smile if you grin or wink at them.
Yes, I saw you frowning and chose to grin anyway. And it worked.
3) A loud bell attracts attention - a timid bell does not.
If I'm going to stand out in the cold four hours, you bet I want you to hear the bell. That's why we're there - so you'll see us and give generously to help your neighbors who are struggling.
4) Many folks who gave told me they'd been in desperate times before and thanked God they were no longer there. 
Paying it forward, indeed.
5) People can be generous at times. 
One lady gave some bills, loaded her groceries, then dug in her purse for some more change. One man sat in his car waiting on his buddy to shop. When the buddy returned and put money in the kettle, his friend got out of the truck and said he watched me ringing the bell so hard he just had to give. Bless you!
6) Anonymous cocoa sure hits the spot.
A Starbucks employee brought me a cup of hot chocolate halfway through my shift, saying it was a gift from someone who wished to remain anonymous. Delightful surprise. Thank you!
7) Listening to a bell ring for four hours does indeed cause a headache - but it goes away quickly when the bell stops.
The headache didn't start until about 2 hours in, but thankfully, it didn't last. [And taking aspirin just before my next shift prevented its return.]
8) One of the customers asked if I heard bells in my sleep. Since it was my first day, I wasn't able to answer that question. But now I can say, "No, I didn't hear bells in my sleep."
I didn't hear anything - even the dog barking in the middle of the night. Tim had to take her out.
9) Every penny counts. Pennies and nickels left by children, the dime left by a woman who carries no cash, the quarter handed through a car window, and all the bills stuffed in the kettle - it all adds up and will be used to help your neighbors.
I was really most surprised by the people who apologized for giving "so little," (their words) regardless of the amount they gave. 
10) YOU make all the difference. 
11) Well, I was going to try to make it a pretty list of 10, but then I thought of one more. I ENJOY saying, "Merry Christmas!" all day long! 
I'll be at the Kroger Towne Lake every Monday through Saturday 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. until the 23rd. If you live in the area, I hope you'll stop by, say hello, and donate to this worthwhile cause. If you live elsewhere, be sure to greet your local bell ringers and give if you're able. Your donations are appreciated.
If you can't make it by the Kroger Towne Lake, I've also set up a "virtual" kettle - you can donate online. Won't you help ring my bell?

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Write Your Passion: Reason to Rejoice

Today, we welcome author Ada Brownell. 


God and Satan were having a discussion.
“I can do anything you can,” Satan said.    
“All right,” God said. “Make a man.”    
Satan bent over and started scooping up soil.     
God touched the devil’s shoulder and said, “Use your own dirt.”

      
Ever fully realized you’re nothing but dirt? For years I’ve studied the human body and the more I study, the smaller and more insignificant I feel. Although the flesh I live in is awesome with the seeing eyes, hearing ears, a brain that even at my age is better than most computers, and I have awesome electrical systems, more than a trillion cells that have specific jobs to do, I’m nothing but dust.

I was about to get a complex when I realized God can do a lot with a handful of clay.

Similar in some ways to the little chip inside a computer, the human body has something within far more significant than the parts that can be seen or viewed with modern technology. Inside us is LIFE, and the soul and spirit that God breathed in there.

Humans were made for life, but because of sin, the body of flesh became destined to die. Beautiful animals found themselves tied on the altars, and the bleating of the quivering lambs and the bulls’ urgent bellows didn’t spare them from the knife that slit their throats. Yet, the blood was only temporary atonement for sin because the Promised One hadn’t come.

But then, an angel announced a virgin would conceive, and nine months later, Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
      
When I think of Jesus and his sacrifice to come to earth, I remember the big husky evangelist who was a dinner guest. The man piled his plate high, and then began scooping food in his mouth.

“When you look at me now,” he said between bites, knowing we all watched, “It’s hard to realize I was once helpless and flat on my back.”

“You were?” we asked in amazement.

He grinned. “Yes. I was a baby once.”

It is so awesome to realize the Lord Jesus Christ, God’s Son, who was there when the universe was created according to John 1, became a baby.

One Christmas I pondered with wonder the thought that God’s Son would slip inside the helpless body of an infant--with his care dependent upon humans. He couldn’t even walk or climb out of the manger. Then I realized it wasn’t so amazing after all. Jesus downloaded the instincts and programmed parents’ brains so a baby’s cry would be so irritating Mom and Pop would do al­most anything to stop the sound. They would offer food. They would change the diaper. They would hold the infant.

The Lord also added another dimension to parents. Their love would be so deep they would tenderly and adequately care for the child and if necessary, give their own lives to protect their offspring. Even parents who forsake their children can’t get away from this God-imparted love, because if they get the chance, the parent will ask forgiveness before he or she dies.

But the Child whose birthday we celebrate at Christmas was no ordinary baby.

The prophet Isaiah wrote about it centuries before Jesus came: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned….

We know about that shadow and darkness. We became aware sometime in childhood our body isn’t eternal. I heard it when my older sister informed me that Indians used to roam where we lived near the Colorado National Monument, and before our time, Indians killed white people there. I knew what “kill” meant. Our family killed chickens and pigs and other animals for dinner. Then, too, my mom kept taking me to funerals so I would be aware of my mortality.

But I also learned on those living in the shadow of death a light has dawned. “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Matthew 4:16).

Jesus is the Redeemer promised in Genesis 3:15 right after Adam and Eve sinned. God warned the first couple if they ate the forbidden fruit, they would die. There in God’s garden, they became mortals. Their flesh would be subject to illness and dying, and it would affect every person born thereafter.

Yet, God would do something about death when He sent the Promised One.

When the Baby was born in Bethlehem, hope came with him, but it wasn’t completed until the angry mob beat God’s Son with a merciless whip, pierced His hands and feet when they nailed Him to the cross, jammed the crown of thorns on His head,  slit His side and blood and bodily fluids gushed to the ground.  For sin is so terrible, the Heavenly Father required a blood sacrifice to wipe it out. Jesus became the sacrifice—once, for all--that would take care of our sins if we asked and give us eternal life.

Those who killed Jesus thought the joyful songs that filled the earth after His birth would be silenced. Yet, three days later, the Messiah was out of the tomb, and the singing began again.

Across the world people still sing, “Joy to the World, the Lord is come” and “O Holy Night.” For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be alive. The day is coming when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, and this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:22 and 54).

We have reason to fall on our knees and rejoice.



Ada Brownell is a retired newspaper reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado and now is a free lance writer who lives in Missouri. She has had 250 articles and stories published in Christian publications. Her latest book, Swallowed by Life: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal will available at amazon.com in December 2011.




Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Marketing Tips and Another Upcoming Event

Now that our 99-99 Event has ended, I've got another one to tell you about!

I first got the idea for a 99-cent sale from a new friend I met in a marketing group. Karen Baney's book Nickels is releasing on the 13th of this month, and to celebrate, she decided to have a 99-cent event. It filled up before I could sign up, so we decided to create our own event. I promised Karen we'd be sure to let all our readers know about her event, too. 

Since she's well-known for her successful marketing, I decided to tap into her knowledge for a short interview, and then we'll tell you about her book and about her 99¢ sale with nine other authors.

Now for the interview:

Karen, you are considered an expert at Internet marketing. Can you give us three tips that will help us in our own endeavors?

Wow, thanks for the high praise. I consider myself more of a student. I've found there's always something new to learn about Internet marketing. Here's a few tips for authors:

1. Create an Articles page on your website. After you've appeared as a guest on another blogger's site, post a copy of your article on your own site. Be sure to promote the other blogger for a few days or a week. It's important to make sure they feel the love. But, after awhile add the article to your site.  By adding the article to your site, you are increasing your library of great content which you can promote long term.

2. Tag your books on Amazon. On every book product page, there is a tagging section. It's okay to add your own tags to your book. Then ask others (friends, family, other authors) to agree with the tags. This helps readers find your book in searches for those key words on Amazon. It also links your book with the Amazon community for that tag.

3. Pace yourself. Okay, so this isn't something specific for getting your name out there. But it is important.  If you just started learning how to use Twitter, then it might not be the best time to start a blog. Try new techniques for promoting. Give each of them time to be effective and give yourself permission to not do it all at one time.


What great information. I'm going to implement those ideas immediately. Thank you! Now, to your book. Nickels is the name of the book launching on the 13th - we've got more information about it below. Besides that book, which book has been your favorite to write and why?

I love writing all of my books. Nickels is my overall favorite because Niki Turner is a lot like me.  

Other than Nickels, I would say that A Life Restored (Prescott Pioneers #3) was a favorite to write. I loved writing about Thomas's struggle to let go of his guilt. He learns what it really means to start over. Then Caroline was a lot of fun to write. She wanted to do the right thing, but she often failed. 

With this being the third book in the series, I really enjoyed returning to familiar characters like Will and Hannah or Adam and Julia.  Even though they played a minor role here, they have become like family to me. I love spending time writing about them.


I love how characters become so real to us. So, what does your Christmas look like this year?

Snow free.  But that's a given in the Phoenix Metro Area of Arizona.  As the saying goes, "You can't shovel sunshine."

Jim and I will probably spend Christmas Day with his family. One of his sisters is hosting it this year. Of course there will be Christmas Eve at church.  We tend to be pretty low-key on the holiday.  Now, I just have to figure out that perfect gift for Jim...

Now about your book!

Synopsis of Nickels:

Niki Turner has finally arrived.  Her career as a Software Engineer is soaring—she has just been offered the company’s most sought after account, Helitronics. Life would be perfect, if she could stop her roommate from playing matchmaker.

Then Kyle Jacobs mysteriously re-enters her life. As painful memories resurface, his presence turns her life upside down and threatens to waylay her career. She must find a way to work with him—after all, he’s the helicopter flight consultant for the new flight control system she’s coding.

Can she forget the past and see him as the new man he has become? Or will her resentment keep her from finding what she has always been searching for?

About the Book Launch:


In celebration of best selling author Karen Baney's latest release, Nickels, a group of 10 Christian authors have united to bring you this great 99 Cent eBook Event Dec. 13 - 15.  Buy 3 Get 1 special book free.  Authors include:

Karen Baney - Nickels
Staci Stallings - Cowboy
Matt Patterson - My Emily
Sarah Witenhafer - Tamed
Naty Matos - Growth Lessons by Naty Matos
Precarious Yates (aka Sarah Smith) - The Elite of the Weak
Linda Yezak - Give the Lady a Ride by Linda Yezak
John Hileman - Messages
Jon Dillon - A God Who Speaks
Shawn Lamb - The Huguenot Sword

For more information visit the Women's Literary Cafe.




About Karen:

Karen Baney, in addition to writing Christian historical fiction and contemporary novels, works as a Software Engineer.

When she’s not busy writing, she enjoys traveling the state of Arizona with her husband, exploring museums and the picturesque landscapes the state has to offer.

Her faith plays an important role both in her life and in her writing. Karen and her husband make their home in Gilbert, Arizona, with their two dogs. She also holds a Masters of Business Administration from Arizona State University.


God Moments: Whose Moment is it?

 Tracy's God Moment

Monday morning started out entirely too early – 6:45 to be exact, when my normal wake-up time is 7:30 (still too early for someone who occasionally longs for the days she could sleep til 10.) The December sky was still dark and cloudy – rather depressing, but it matched my waking mood.

I sat at the computer and piddled awhile, waiting for inspiration to strike so I could write about a God Moment in my life. I read some blogs, and then I read all of the other God Moments we’ve posted here these past four days. I see such beauty in the words, and in the hearts of these writers, my friends.

Then I realized something - I just don't measure up to any of them. I have nothing to say. I admire everyone’s ability to write beautiful, meaningful blog posts, seemingly at the drop of a hat (although I know better – I KNOW how hard writing actually is, and I KNOW how hard writers work). But too often I have nothing to say and today is one of those days. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing that comes to mind matters ONE WHIT to anyone. 

So I bowed my head in prayer. Lord, help me out here. You’re so present in my life on a moment-by-moment basis, but how can I convey that? Please help me know what to write.

He said, in that quiet voice inside my spirit, “You’re writing God Moments, not Tracy Moments, so write about Me.”

Suddenly, I couldn’t type fast enough.

God's Moment

Prince of Peace – think about that. Peace. Is your soul stilled by His peace that passes all understanding? Or do you fret and worry and wear out the carpet pacing, trying to figure out things on your own? He is the Prince of Peace. Call on Him. Let His Peace fill you. Isaiah 9:6

Lord of Lords – Have you ever asked Jesus to be Lord of your life? What are you waiting for? It’s not too late. Deuteronomy 10:17

King of Kings – is there anyone anywhere you’d rather have as King of your life? Of this world? Of this universe? I think not. 1 Timothy 6:15

As Naty discovered, He is our Father. Matthew 5:45

As Jennifer experienced, He is our Provider. 1 Timothy 6:17

As Staci shared so visually, He pieces together all the scattered bits of our broken lives into a magnificent puzzle greater than we as humans can even fathom. Romans 8:28

As Shawn’s character learned, God is Truth. John 14:6

As Amy recognized when she realized Who was in charge, it is our faith in Him that guides us. Galatians 3:22-23

As Suzanne discovered, He is greater than any and all of our problems or fears. 1 John 4:4

As Sarah pointed out, God fights our battles for us. Exodus 15:3

As Debbie portrayed beautifully, God is Love1 John 4:8

God is all of that, and so much more.

God is our Salvation. If you were to die right this very moment, do you know where you would spend eternity? I hope to meet you in Heaven one day – won’t you let Jesus be your Savior so that can happen? Acts 16:31

God is our Refuge. Life is hard. We suffer losses, pain, heartache. God gives us shelter during all of it. He doesn’t always take us out of the trials, but He shelters us when we need it most. Deuteronomy 33:27

God is our Strength. This is has been a rough year for so many of us. I’m tired – emotionally, mentally, and physically. Are you feeling the same way? God says we can turn to Him – that He is our Strength. Isaiah 40:29

God is our Healer. This side of Heaven or that, He heals all our diseases. Psalm 73:26

Who is God to YOU?

Look for your own God Moment today. He’s waiting for you.

Read more God Moments:











Thank you, Lord. We love you.




Fun Announcement

My latest book is now available, and February 12th and 13th, it's FREE on Kindle!




February 12th and 13th - Love Letters from the Heart is FREE on Kindle!


Friends, family, perhaps even strangers, have messages within their hearts they want to share with you, but never found the right time or the right place to speak them. Here, within these pages, you'll find messages of hope, forgiveness, direction, and even prayers – written from caring, loving hearts directly to you and for you.

Know this – you are not forgotten or abandoned. You are not alone. You are loved –  more than you can possibly imagine. 

Who could love any of us that much? Turn the pages – we hope you'll soon discover the answer.


Monday, December 5, 2011

God Moment: God is My Warrior

God is My Warrior
by Sarah Witenhafer

Tired of trying to please my distant heavenly Father, I had given up. Our business had failed, friends were gone, even our church had died. I didn’t think my faith would make it 5 years. I didn’t think my marriage would last much longer. I was sinking and, in my mind, God was displeased with my lack of faith.  

I felt used.

Neglected.

Alone.

So I lost myself in writing a fictional story about grace, and battles, and Roman soldiers who fought to the death. Their bravery captivated me, dulling the pain of abandonment. Their glorious victories shimmered in my dark world. I devoured all things Roman and fell in love with the warrior image. Why?

Because I longed for someone who would fight to keep me.

Then out of curiosity one day I picked up my daily devotional. What was today’s reading?

“The Lord is a man of war.” Exodus 15:3

Curiosity turned to hunger as I read about the Lord fighting for His people, putting on the breastplate of righteousness, and the helmet of salvation. He would fight with all His power to save me, wearing a red cloak (just like the Roman centurion in my novel), a symbol of His determination.  

My eyes were staring at the page when I sensed His presence in the room. It was as if He stood looking over my shoulder as I read. Then His voice echoed through my heart. “You’ve forgotten I AM your warrior.”

Over the next few months, the Lord pursued me through whatever I read, often dropping a scripture in my path that related to something I had learned about Rome. At every turn, it seemed, He stepped into the warrior image I craved.

At the same time, a miracle took place in my marriage. My husband began pursuing me too. The man who had rarely invested himself into my life read my novel, and spent hours helping me format it. He took me on long walks and started praying with me. Most significant, Dale reassured me he would do whatever it took to make our marriage last and to provide for our family. He courted me until love resurrected what had died between us. Our new life together far exceeded the old.

Slowly, through both God and my husband, by the end of writing my book, grace was more than fiction for me. I realized I hadn’t been abandoned. My faith didn’t depend on me, and the Lord would never let me fall away. I could run to the ends of the earth, and He would be there to meet me. God Himself held me in His fierce grasp. After all, a great warrior never stops fighting to save the ones He loves.

Scripture readings: Exodus 15:3; Isaiah 59; Hosea 2:14-20

If you liked this post, you also might enjoy more of this story at http://sarahwitenhafer.com/?p=204 .


About Sarah:

[Ed. Note: We stole this directly from her own blog - it was too fun to not share it here!]

Sarah Witenhafer is an exciting new author (hey, I get to write this section) who is married to her best friend of twenty years, Dale Witenhafer. Together, they have managed to raise three, only mildly-disturbed, but beautiful daughters.

Sarah (how weird to write in third person about myself) enjoys home schooling her youngest child, being cheer mom (aka Twinkie to 14 bubbly young women) for her middle daughter, and confidant to her oldest who’s in college. In her spare time (that’s 12am to 2am) she writes.  Please leave a comment somewhere… she… I needs contact with the outside world.




Sarah offers her book Tamed for the 99-Hour 99-Cent Event.

















      

God Moments: Divine Provision

God Moments with Jennifer Fromke

So I went looking for a God Moment yesterday. Last night. I went to the place where I see the face of God most: my backyard, in the dark, stars a-hinter and staring down, waiting for me to finally show up.

And it dawned on me (a dawning, after dusk) that “God Moments” are every moment. I simply fail to participate and notice them most of the time. But I have managed to attend a few moments God planned just for me. Funny thing, those moments stick with you.

I’ve been remembering one particular moment of late. Seven or eight years ago I still felt new in town. My kids were pretty young, and time alone with my husband was rare and precious. God sat us behind a family in church that boasted three (count ‘em!) three girls that looked like they might be babysitting material. The youngest daughter in particular caught my eye. God laid her on my heart. She reminded me of me at that age.

But I couldn’t possibly just walk up to complete strangers and ask them to care for my children. Why not go down to the bus station and see if I could find any takers there? God pressed me further. Go meet them. Introduce yourself. But how? “I’m not really a stalker, but I couldn’t help but notice you look like a babysitter…” So I did what I’ve done too many times. I blew off God.

The great thing about God is He doesn’t let us off that easy. Several weeks later, I broke down and introduced myself. And I knew that God meant for it to happen. By the grace of God, they didn’t think I was a crazy lady. And what happened over the next few years warms my heart every time I think of these dear girls. All three cared for my children. Repeatedly, joyfully, with kindness and laughter. And this made my husband and I better parents, because we spent that time together.

And now all three wonderful babysitters have families of their own. And they are seeking babysitters for their children. And they called, because guess how old my girls are now? Just old enough.

And these relationships, these memories, this divine provision, was birthed from a single moment when God pressed me to meet this family.

So when I looked up into the starry sky last night, I saw God’s face and I tried to put my gratitude into words. Gratitude for showing His creative genius to me in such a complex, stunning, spread of stars. Gratitude that He would speak to me, or any of us, really. As I searched the stars, I couldn’t come up with words. God made me a writer and I stood before Him, wordless and wanting. I felt compelled to respond to His amazing-ness (see? Not a good word in sight) but fell short before I could even try.

And then I sensed that simple pressing in on my heart that God does so well, despite my weak attempts at listening. What came to my mind was this: Logos, THE WORD, was dispatched long ago, for a night like this. God already spoke the words I need and those words live inside me today. So I turned my face back up to the stars and my heart swelled, full of The Word, born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, alive today, speaking true words where none can be found.


About Jennifer:

Raised in Michigan, Jennifer Fromke served tours of life experience in
Wheaton, Minneapolis, and St Louis. Ten years ago she landed in North Carolina.

When forced to separate from the laptop, she can be found with her nose in a book, one hand around a latte, and the other hand stirring something on the stove. Soul food for Jennifer includes laughing with her family and teaching Bible studies.

She is a lover of words, mother of three, and wife to one extraordinary man. In 2010, she won the ACFW Genesis Award for women’s fiction. Her first novel, A Familiar Shore, releases in March, 2012 by Write Integrity Press.


Jennifer's short story, Special Delivery, is available in the 99-Hour 99-Cent Event.

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