Friday, December 21, 2012

Moment for Sandy Hook

Moment of Silence for Sandy Hook Victims on Dec. 21


O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my tongue,
Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.
O that You would slay the wicked, O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed.
For they speak against You wickedly,
And Your enemies take Your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate You, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against You?
I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.

Psalm 139 (NASB)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving 16, 17, 18, 19

I'm doing four thanksgivings today, because I got behind on Friday. My reason for for that will be first.

Thanksgiving # 16: School

In 2010, I went back to school after a 28 year hiatus. I knew it would be hard, and it is. For the most part, I'm enjoying all of it, and last spring, I managed to get on the Dean's List - by a tiny fraction of a point. Whew. But it adds an extra layer of pressure trying to stay on it. Last week, I had my first "debate" - there were 13 of us on our team, and when no one volunteered, I became the leader, which meant I had to coordinate the written posts and research of all 13 team members. Last week, I also had to respond, twice, to the other team's debate - which also required research. Last week, I had a Greek word study paper, and a Greek final exam. So I'm thankful today that I lived through all of that to share it with you.


Thanksgiving # 17: Books

Oh.my.goodness. You would think that, of course, a publisher would be thankful for books, but it goes so much deeper than that. With all my school work and all my publishing duties, I had books stacked all around me last week - Bibles, commentaries, textbooks, dictionaries, lexicons, and more. And I realized how much my personal library had grown since school started, and I'm grateful. I actually told one of my classmates I looked forward to a time of being out of school so I could read some of my textbooks for fun. I wasn't kidding!

And I'm thankful for our newest book that just released this weekend! Prophecies Fulfilled in the Birth of Jesus by Dianne E. Butts is  now available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and still on sale in our GOGO promotion!

Thanksgiving # 18: God, Who Provides

This morning, I learned that someone I know - a relative of a loved one, so I consider her family, too - became homeless TODAY. She is a young single mom of two little ones, and although life has been hard on her, she has worked steadily and just recently passed a nursing exam and taken on a new job. She made a mistake by trusting someone who promised her and her children a safe place to live - only to learn she'd been lied to. She didn't know how bad until she tried to fix things, only to learn they were beyond her means to fix. Thankfully, our mutual loved one is able to take them into their home for a few weeks, but what an uphill climb this young lady has. I'm thankful God knows her needs, He sees the situation. And I'm praying some special blessings her way in the coming weeks. Will you please join me?

Thanksgiving # 19: Dreams

I'm thankful for dreams today. Not necessarily dreams that I have in the middle of the night (which happened to be a nightmare that caused me to wake up crying!) but the dreams that fuel us toward goals. I posted this on Facebook this morning:

"Have you ever dreamed a dream so BIG that you knew only God could make it come to pass? A dream so far-fetched and yet so practical you wished you'd thought of it yourself, but knew your faith wasn't big enough to dream that big? A dream that would help others in such a mighty and beautiful way? Tim and I discussed a dream like that this weekend, and tossed about all the "what ifs." We discovered we were on the same page, even though neither of us had verbalized these ideas before. So now the praying begins. Would you please join us - praying that God will make this dream a reality? To God be the Glory, great things He has done!!"

I'm thankful for these kinds of dreams!

Do you have any God-sized dreams you can share with us? 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thanksgiving # 15: Food

As I write this post, my wonderful husband is cooking breakfast for us. The smell of bacon cooking is one of my most favorite food smells!

Thanksgiving # 15: Food

I admit it. I'm a foodie. I love eating and I love cooking. I love trying new recipes and new flavors. I've even loved to tolerate rosemary, although my mother will find that hard to believe. (I can identify it in almost any concoction, and I really hate the smell of it, but I've learned to live with the taste.)

A dear friend asked me last night what my favorite food was, and I quickly answered spaghetti and hamburgers. Homemade spaghetti is my comfort food like meatloaf is for others, and in case you haven't heard, I make THE BEST! I think it's the versatility of hamburgers that makes them one of my favorite - I can dress them up or down, can get them almost anywhere, and the flavor is almost always different from one location to another.

We cook regularly in our house - daily, actually. We don't eat out much. A few years ago, we were eating out quite a bit, and realized that the food we ate out wasn't as good as what we cooked at home. So now, rather than going out expecting a great meal, when we go, we look for service and for atmosphere. (I could move into Bahama Breeze any time!)


But my Thanksgiving post isn't just about the good food - but also, and especially, gratitude for the food we do have to eat. Having food is not something we take for granted. We've had bare pantries and empty refrigerators at times, and so have loved ones. Unfortunately, a time or two, when my kids were growing up, we weren't sure where our next meal was coming from. But each and every time, God provided.

As we plan our holiday meals this year, think of those who may not have much or any food. Think of those who live from meal to meal, not knowing when they'll next have food available. Pick up a gift card at your local grocery store and give it to someone who might use a little extra help. If you can, help out your local food bank or homeless shelter. This time of year, there's more need than there are resources and every little bit helps.

We also want to offer a huge Thanksgiving prayer for the people who grow our food, prepare our food, package, ship, and sell food. The eating is the easy part!

What's your favorite food this time of year? Or anytime? 



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving # 14: God's Touch

I could write on this particular Thanksgiving every single day. Condensing it to one post, I pray each of you will pause a moment and reflect upon these times in your own life.

Thanksgiving # 14: God's Touch

Heavy machinery has been used for the past two weeks to tear down trees, clear brush, and otherwise make the lot across from ours ugly and bare. The noise and vibrations have been horrendous but not really something I identified as a stressful source until yesterday afternoon. Suddenly, at 3:30 p.m., there was total silence. No machinery, no furnace running, no phones ringing, no horns honking, no kids screaming, no dogs barking, no TVs blaring - not even the hum of the refrigerator. Total silence. I sat at my desk, rather dumbfounded for a second, and realized the silence was a gift from God. Seriously. I opened my Bible, and my eyes fell upon Psalm 146. Here is part of it:

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord while I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
...
How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
Whose hope is in the Lord his God,
Who made heaven and earth,
The sea and all that is in them;
Who keeps faith forever;
Who executes justice for the oppressed;
Who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free.
...
The Lord will reign forever,
Your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the Lord!

The silence lasted long enough for me to meditate on those words a few minutes, praising the Lord. It was like a touch of God's hand in the midst of ordinary life.

Then, last night, at midnight, I finally took my second breath of the day. I'd been covered up with work and school assignments, e-mails, family stuff, and I hadn't slowed down all day, except for those brief moments with Psalm 146. As I took a third breath, I remembered I had missed a live class earlier that evening. These particular live classes are always optional, but I never miss them - the professor is one of the most Godly men I've ever known, and his love of the Lord, his love of Scripture just makes me want to sit in his class 24/7 to hear him teach. Thankfully, he records all of his classes, so Tim and I were able to tune in at midnight for a wonderful end to our day.

In the midst of the class, Dr. N mentioned a Bible verse and a particular word. That word is the topic of my paper for his class, so my ears perked up. He then began to talk about the Greek translation of that word, and in my other class - Biblical Languages - I have a paper due this week - a Greek word study. I have to choose one word and delve into its meaning. I had been undecided about a word, but as soon as Dr. N mentioned this word, I knew that was it. I could research both papers at the same time, possibly using some of the same sources.

Once again, I felt God's touch on my life.

Some may shrug their shoulders at that, but I'll tell you why I don't. God created this whole big universe we live in. He made "heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them" - and yet - and YET - He cares enough, loves ME enough - to care about my day, care about my school work. He loves ALL OF US so much, that He even knows the number of hairs on each and every head (or how many hairs you DON'T have, if you're bald.)

Just imagine that. He loves YOU that much. He loves YOU AND ME enough to send His Son to die on a cross, so that YOU AND I might spend forever with Him in Heaven. He didn't have to. But He did. Because He loves us that much.

Where have you seen His touch in your life TODAY? 

Praise the Lord, o my soul! Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanksgiving 13

Thanksgiving # 13: Music

I developed a love of music at an early age, despite my parents' attempts to make me hate it with twangy old-fashioned country music! I eventually grew to love some country music, along with most other kinds, but I still don't like that twangy stuffy (or rap music either.) Here's a list, with a few links, to some of my favorite songs over the years, if you'd care to give a listen.

PreTeen and TeenYears:

In the Garden - of course, Elvis' version isn't quite the same as Nanny's version on our upright piano, but the song is a favorite whoever sings it. Yes, even in my teens.

Barry Manilow - yes, I am a huge Manilow fan. His songs resonated with my heart like no other. I went to YouTube to pick out a song, typed in Barry Manilow, and the first four songs are all my favorite. :-) Mandy, I Write the Songs, Even Now, Weekend in New England, and then a little further down, Looks Like We Made It. I sing all those songs still today.

Beach Boys and John Denver - deeply ingrained into who I am. Love their music.

Young Adult Years

Vivaldi - moving out on my own, I decided my music needed to grow up too. I discovered many classical musicians that I love, Vivaldi is my favorite.

Adult Years

Country Music - too many mid-80s to mid-90s country music choices to list, but I spent a lot of time on the country stations during those years. The beginning of Garth Brooks career, met John Michael Montgomery when he was still touring small towns, Vince Gill. Still not into the twang, but I came to appreciate more of the older country music too.

The last few years, it's been rather difficult for me to listen to any music at all. Oh, I still enjoy it immensely, but I'm so busy with other things that I don't have time to listen like I used too. And with so much other stuff going on, I've become extremely sensitive to noise, so even music has to be eliminated at times.

Christian music

Huge fan of many kinds of Christian music and that's what I mostly listen to now, although I still like some country (Josh Turner, especially. :-) ) and classical music is still played often.

As with all the other music, my tastes in Christian music vary, from the old hymns - love those - to a lot of the contemporary to some of the Southern Gospel (again, not the twangy stuff.) Matt Redman, Laura Storey, Ron Kenoly, Larnelle Harris, Sandi Patty, Babbie Mason, Andy Griffith, The Dixie Echoes, and so many others.

So thankful for music - the individual sounds of each instrument and the incredible talents of all the musicians. Thank you for making beautiful music for the world to enjoy!

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100: 1-5 ESV








Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving 10, 11, 12

I love to travel, although I haven't done so much in the past few years. Here are a few of my favorite places. I'm thankful for the opportunity to have visited each one, and hope to one day return. 

Thanksgiving # 10: Venice, Italy







Thanksgiving # 11: Paris, France



Thanksgiving # 12: Philadelphia, PA

Yes, I know it seems weird to list Philly in with the other two, but this city captured my heart. I love the history of it, and the ability to just hang out on the streets. And, a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich just isn't the same anywhere else in the world. 





Do you like to travel? What are some of your favorite places?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thanksgiving # 9

This year has been especially sweet for me, because of the subject of this post.

Thanksgiving # 9: FRIENDS



I won't point out who's who in our group photo above, but yes, friends this year have stuck by me through thick and thin. We've laughed together, cried together, pulled out our hair together, and most importantly, prayed together and for one another.

Facebook has allowed me the opportunity to meet new people who have become near and dear to my heart. It has also allowed me to connect with friends from my childhood, and be part of their lives now. I love that. (It's also fascinating to watch my old life connect with my new life through comments and prayers too - when it first started happening, it sort of stripped my mental gears, but now, it just makes me happy to see friends from different lives connect.)

Facebook has also given me a connection to a group called The Treasured Woman Network. This group of prayer warriors has been a huge support to me this year, and I appreciate each and every one.

School has given me the opportunity to meet people all over the world with similar educational goals. And a couple of classmates have become near and dear friends ~ ladies who enrich my life on a daily basis with their humor, intelligence, and determination. (And a shared cup of virtual coffee most mornings!)

Work has given me a special connection with our authors. Getting to know each one, learning personalities, dreams, work ethic, goals is awesome, but it's getting to know their hearts that is so special to me. Our authors are loving, kind, generous, fun, passionate, and each one has a vision that expands my own. I'm honored to know each one of them not only as one of our authors, but also as my friend.

I've already shared Thanksgiving posts about my best friend - my husband - and about my kids - but there's one immediate family member I haven't mentioned yet. And she fits into this Friend post very nicely.

I got Abby from the pound when she was 11 months old, and she's now 11.5 years old. Some days, she still acts and plays like a puppy - other days are a bit harder and she's finding it more difficult to get around. But she remains loyal and sweet and stubborn - when she wants me to quit work and sit with her on the sofa, just for a rest, she won't take no for an answer.




Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thanksgiving # 8

In 2007, I developed this unquenchable desire to know the Bible. I began daily in-depth Bible studies, and by 2009, I wanted to know even more. In 2010, I entered college after a 28-year hiatus. I'm now a junior, and graduation is only 18 months away - or after this semester, only 4 semesters away! (Yes, I'll be doing summer school.) I'm majoring in Biblical and Theological Studies, and I'm loving my classes, for the most part anyway. Some sessions the workload is pretty heavy, and with all my publishing duties, I can get overwhelmed. But it's definitely worth it!

Thanksgiving # 8: The Bible

Do you realize just how rich Scripture really is? I'm currently taking Biblical Languages - an introductory course for Greek and Hebrew. Each week, we do a comprehensive word study, delving into the meanings of the original Greek words used in the New Testament and original Hebrew words used in the Old Testament.  These word studies cause us to slow down - read the text and absorb the context about what each writer was saying.

At the same time, we're prepping Prophecies Fulfilled in the Birth of Jesus by Dianne E. Butts to be released next week. This book explores all of the prophecies surrounding Jesus' birth. Dianne writes in a conversational tone that brings Scripture to life, and makes it easy to understand even for new readers of the Bible. As I edited the book, I found myself in awe once more about God's beautiful plan for His creation. I'm so thankful He's in control, and I'm so grateful for the Word He has given us, to help us know Him better.

I am also extremely grateful that we live in a country where I am free to own and read my Bible any time, anywhere, and that I can own however many translations of the Bible I care to own. I'm thankful I can write about my faith openly, and share the Bible with you.

The verses we're focusing on in my Biblical Languages class this week are:

"Therefore, I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith." Romans 12:1-3 NASB

Do you have a favorite Bible verse? Share it with us in the comments.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thanksgiving # 7

The more things I think of to give thanks for, the more I want to make a list of 30 things each day for the rest of the month, and yet I realize that even that wouldn't encompass all of my gratitude.

A developer is clearing two acres in front of the three acres where we live. This area had been heavily wooded, and now, it's very bare. Distressing and depressing.

So today's post is written with that in mind.

Thanksgiving # 7: I'm thankful for my love of nature and the camera to capture what soon changes. 

Before the Developer 

After the Developer, but even before he finishes.
Chainsaws are buzzing as I type.


Thankful the developer can't get this one.
The leaves are bright red today, but they'll soon blow off.

Thankful for this critter and for the opportunity
several years ago to take his cute picture!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Wives of Porn Addicts: Healing Your Wounded Heart

Several years ago, I met writer Vicki Tiede and we soon became BFFs. As best friends do, we shared our stories, and one of Vicki's stories was that pornography had destroyed her first marriage. At the time we met, she knew God was calling her to write that story, but she wasn't quite sure what the story would look like. Would the story be best told in novel format? Would fiction allow her to share the story and perhaps touch readers through that avenue? Or would nonfiction be a better route?

Vicki struggled. This isn't an easy story to tell. But God called her to it, and she was obedient. Vicki knows, more than most, that God can and will use the pain she and her family endured to help others who are struggling with the same thing. She formed a focus group of 25 women who've dealt with pornography in their own marriages, and over a period of two years, she interviewed, researched, and wrote not only her story, but their stories as well. This year, the fruit of her labor was finally published: When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart hit bookshelves in October.

Last week, Vicki was on the radio, taking calls from listeners. I tuned in, and soon found myself crying over each one. Women are hurting, and this problem - pornography in marriage - is more common than any of us realize or want to admit. Women need to know they're not alone in this struggle, and they need to know there are people who care, other women who have walked this road before. The next day, Vicki was on Faith Radio, talking to Susie Larson, and taking more calls. Today (Tuesday), Vicki is on the Christian Television Network, with Herman and Sharron Bailey in Clearwater/Tampa, FL.

This story - this book - is resonating with wives who've not had anyone to share their stories with before now. Today, I'll share one of Vicki's videos that provides a snippet of her story. In the next couple of weeks, we'll share another video, and more of her story. She'll also be sharing with us WHY this issue must be talked about - we've all been a little surprised at some of the reaction from well-meaning Christians who think this isn't a topic for Christians to even discuss. So Vicki is going to address that in a future blog post.



Vicki is on blog tour all month long. I've included some of the links below, but also keep an eye on my Facebook page where we'll link other blogs as they post.





Win a Copy of the Book!

Leave a relevant comment or a question for Vicki in the comments for a chance to win a copy of When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart. We'll announce the winner on Friday.

Links to Buy When Your Husband is Addicted to Pornography: Healing Your Wounded Heart:


NGP (Paperback version guaranteed in stock)
CBD   


Days of Thanksgiving 6

Thanksgiving # 6: The Right to Vote

I'm so grateful to have grown up in the United States of America. When I was in grade school - City School - we gathered every day in the auditorium, where we sang songs, prayed, and said the Pledge of Allegiance. I was sad when my kids started school and they no longer did these things.

I remember opening a geography book for the very first time in Mrs. Weaver's 4th grade class and learning how big this country was - I wanted to see every inch of it (and I'm still trying to meet that goal!) That geography book brought New England to life in such a way that I remember the words and pictures still today. I also developed a love of maps in that class!

In middle school, our social studies class, under the direction of Mrs. Davis, divided into two groups where we debated Ford or Carter, and then, for the very first time, we had an "election" and our school obtained REAL voting machines to show us how the process worked.

On the very day I turned 18, I located the election board in my new town, and I registered to vote. Ronald Reagan had been sworn into office just 8 months earlier, so it was a while before I could vote for the Presidency, but I couldn't wait to get registered! And every election since, I've been thankful we have the freedom to vote, and consider it one of our biggest responsibilities as American citizens, and as Christians.

I'm thankful for every man and woman who puts their life on the line to protect this country. Military, law enforcement, volunteers - we're grateful to you and your families for the sacrifices you make for all of us.

If you haven't voted yet, GO VOTE. If you've voted already, THANK YOU. If you've voted more than once, TURN YOURSELF IN - it's illegal.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Days of Thanksgiving 3, 4, 5

Continuing my days of Thanksgiving. Since I don't blog on the weekends, Mondays will have three days.

Thanksgiving # 3: Zach and Jessica.









Thanksgiving # 4: Jonathan.






Thanksgiving #5: Tulips.




Friday, November 2, 2012

Thanksgiving 1 & 2

I just realized today is the 2nd day of November, and I had planned to do something this year, starting on the first.

Then I forgot.

Then, today, my head just suddenly feels like it's going to explode from information overload. As I was praying about dealing with everything, a particular song floated into my head, and I began to relax as I listened to the words:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the Light of His Glory and Grace.

Amen.

So I pondered ways to keep my eyes turned upon Him, and I remembered what I'd planned to do. During the next month or so, I'm going to post things I'm thankful for on my blog. They won't be in any certain order, just random. But as I write, I'm thanking God for each and every one, keeping my eyes focused on Him during this busy season.

Since I forgot yesterday, I'm going to post two today.

Thanksgiving # 1:

Tim. I'm so thankful for my husband. We love each other unconditionally, and we have such fun together. Every night before we close our eyes, one of us says something funny, and we fall asleep in each others arms, laughing.

I'm thankful for him for many, many reasons, but one in particular in this season of our lives. Going to school full-time and running two publishing companies leaves me little time for anything else. When I started back to school, Tim took over the household duties. He makes me breakfast every morning, does the dishes and laundry, and even bakes me a pie or homemade bread or biscuits on occasion. He does it out of love, and with a cheerful heart - I hear him right this very moment whistling and singing as he loads the dishwasher. (Of course, later, he'll deny making any noise - that's a running joke around here. He likes making sounds.)

I'm so thankful for him - he makes me smile.

Thanksgiving # 2:

Second chances. Or rather Hundred chances. I'm so thankful God gives us all more opportunities to get life right. Or at least better than we made it previously. Even with our mistakes and failures, God LOVES us and wants His best for us - even when we can't see it for ourselves.

We serve an amazing, wonderful, beautiful, creative, miraculous God - and I'm so thankful He knows me and loves me and saves me.

I'll post again on Monday.

What are YOU thankful for this year?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Dead Man's Hand - New Release from Eddie Jones


We're thrilled to share a new release for middle graders today in an interview with author Eddie Jones.

Eddie, please tell us about your upcoming release, Dead Man's Hand, with Zondervan.

First, it’s a fun, fast read aimed for middle school boys, but we’re also getting nice reviews on Goodreads from teachers and mothers. But my aim is to give boys a book they can enjoy, one taps into today’s fascination with the occult. This is the first book in the Caden Chronicles series and each story involves one element of the supernatural. Book one explores the concept of ghosts, spirits and what happens to our souls when we die.

Zonderkidz is a Christian publisher, so the paranormal aspect is surprising. 

I added the paranormal aspect because I want parents and youth to struggle with eternal questions. We’ve created such a culture of blood-letting through books and movies involving vampires, zombies and survival contests, that the reality of death doesn’t carry the sting it once did. In high school my youngest son lost several friends to driving accidents. When another friend recently died, we asked how he felt and he replied, “I’m numb to it.” I fear that’s what we’re doing with our youth: desensitizing them to the horrors of death. In Dead Man’s Hand, Nick and his family discuss spirits and ghosts and the afterlife because I think it’s important for teens to wrestle with these questions before they’re tossed from a car and found dead on a slab of wet pavement.


You're passionate about getting boys interested in books. Why do you feel it's so important to get boys reading fiction at an early age?

I fear we’re on the verge of losing the male reader. I don’t mean men and boys won’t learn to read: they will. But the percentage male who read for leisure continues to shrink and this could be devastating for our country. We can’t lose half our population and expect America to compete on a global level. Reading forces the mind to create. With video the scene and characters are received passively by the brain. There is very little interaction; it’s all virtual stimulation, which is different from creation. When you read, you add your furniture to the scene, dress the characters, add elements not mentioned by the author. This is why readers so often complain, “the movie was nothing like the book.” It’s not, because the book is your book. The author crafted the outline of the set but each reader brings their emotions and expectations to that book, changing it forever.

In general, boys would rather get their information and entertainment visually. This is one reason books have such a tough time competing for male readers. It can take weeks to read a book, even one as short as Dead Man’s Hand. Meantime, that same story can be shown as a movie in under two hours. So in one sense the allure of visual gratification is robbing future generations of our ability to solve problems. I believe Americans only posses one true gift, creativity, and it’s a gift from God. Other nations build things cheaper and with fewer flaws. They work longer hours for less pay. But the thing that has always set America apart is our Yankee ingenuity. We have always been able to solve our way out of problems. That comes directly from our ability to create solutions to problems we didn’t anticipate. If we lose male readers and fail to develop that creative connections necessary for the brain to conceive of alternatives, then we will lose our position as the world’s leader.

What advice would you offer to parents to get their children interested in reading at a young age? 

Watch for clues. If your child shows any interest in reading, reward the activity with trips to book fairs. I remember in grade school how excited I got when we were allowed to order books. All we had to do was check a box, (or so I thought), and wham! A few weeks later boxes of books showed up and the teacher began dealing them to the students. I didn’t learn until later my parents had mailed the school money for those books. I still have most of them.

But not all children like reading and you can create an anti-reading environment if you push too hard. An alternative for boys are comic books, graphic novels, or simply cartoon books. I read a lot of Charlie Brown cartoon books and still remember the plot: Lucy has the football. Charlie wants to kick the ball. Lucy promises she will hold the ball in place but at the last moment… We know this story because it’s repeated, not in a novel, but in a cartoon.


You're writing for children right now with Zondervan. Besides the upcoming Cadence Chronicles Series, what are your dreams for your writing future?

Each day I walk around my yard reciting the Lord’s Prayer. This is my conversational time with God. Part of that prayer time is me putting on the armor of God. When I’m about halfway fitted out I say, “Lord place across my chest your breastplate of righteousness that my thought may be pure, honorable and good and my dreams secure: my dreams of sailing around the Caribbean, writing a best selling novel and surfing reef breaks.” Beyond that I don’t have any grand writing goals.

About the AuthorEddie Jones is the author of eleven books and over 100 articles. He also serves as Acquisition Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. He is a three-time winner of the Delaware Christian Writers' Conference, and his YA novel, The Curse of Captain LaFoote, won the 2012 Moonbeam Children's Book Award and 2011 Selah Award in Young Adult Fiction. He is also a writing instructor and cofounder of Christian Devotions Ministries. His He Said, She Said devotional column appears on ChristianDevotions.US. His humorous romantic suspense, Bahama Breeze remains a "blessed seller." When he's not writing or teaching at writers' conferences, Eddie can be found surfing in Costa Rica or some other tropical locale.





Monday, August 6, 2012

Will I See You At Conference?


Writing conferences offer several benefits to writers of all skill levels, at all stages of their career. August 23-25, I am serving on the faculty of the Catch the Wave Christian Writer’s Conference in metro Atlanta. My duties at the conference will include meeting with writers to discuss the possibility of publishing their books, teaching a workshop, and giving the closing speech.

The topic of my workshop, which I’m feverishly writing now, is “The Three P’s of Platform.” In my workshop, I’ll help writers understand the purpose of their own platform (incidentally, that’s not one of the P’s!), and we’ll have a brainstorming session that will help participants nail down, or perhaps even expand, their platform.

Other great workshops being presented at the conference include the following:

– How to Get the Most Out of a Conference
– Marketing for Amazon
– How to Get Published (continuing class)
– Using Articles to Get Fiction and Nonfiction Published
– Writing Daily Devotionals
– Subtexting: What Do Your Characters Really Mean?
– Tools for Excellent Writing
– Basics of Fiction
– Social Media for Authors:  Harnessing Its Power without Wasting Your Time
– Success in the Changing Publishing Industry
– Choosing the Right Publishing Option: Self-Publishing, Traditional, E-book.
– Journaling for Writers
– A Bunny Eat Bunny World – The business side of children’s publishing
– Branding:  No, This Class Won’t Be Boring.
– Unlocking the Acquisition Editor’s Checklist:  How to Stay Out of the Slush Pile.
– How to Write a Really Good Mystery/Thriller
– The Occasional Writer
– Take Your Best Shot:  Pitching Your Story Idea to an Industry Professional
– Believable Characters
– The Well-Tempered Sentence
– Get Organized for Greater Efficiency
– Get Inside the Mind of a Magazine Editor
– Realizing Your Dreams

There appears to be something for everyone! There’s still time to register, if you haven’t already. The conference cost is all bundled together – it includes the conference registration, meals, snacks, workshops, appointments with acquisitions editors, and lodging, all in a beautiful atmosphere that gives you a great opportunity to network with other publishing professionals.

I’d love to meet you there! Drop me a line if you plan to be there, and we’ll make sure we connect.

August 23-25, 2012
The Lodge at Simpsonwood
Norcross, GA (metro Atlanta)






Wednesday, June 20, 2012

High Desert Haven: Author Lynnette Bonner


Today, I'm thrilled to introduce you to a new author friend, Lynnette Bonner.


Tell us about yourself, family, where are you from, how long have you been writing?
I am married with four children. My husband is a pastor and we live in Washington. I was born in Malawi, Africa to missionary parents and learned to love reading at an early age. My love of reading eventually morphed into an attempt at writing. At first I only dabbled, but then one day I came across a historical tidbit that simply begged to be turned into a story, and my first full length novel, Rocky Mountain Oasis, (the first book of this series) was born. I’ve been writing ever since, with a few years in there of very sporadic writing when I was homeschooling my boys, but that makes it nearly twenty years now.

How did you come to know Jesus as your Savior?
Well, I was born into a Christian family and heard the gospel from the time I was very little. The first time I really remember giving my heart to Jesus was in the back seat of a Peugeot 404 driving up our long dusty driveway in Dedza, Malawi.

Tell us about your latest book(s).


The first book in this series, Rocky Mountain Oasis, debuted in 2009. It was just recently re-released as a 2nd edition. And its sequel, High Desert Haven, is just making its first appearance.

Here is the back cover copy from High Desert Haven:

Is Jason Jordan really who he says he is?

Everything in Nicki’s life depends on the answer.

Nicki Trent is left with a toddler and a rundown ranch when her husband dies in a mysterious riding accident. Determined to bring her ranch back from the brink, Nicki hires handsome Jason Jordan as a manager. But when her neighbor, William, presses for her hand in marriage, the bank calls in a loan she didn’t even know about, and bullets start flying, Nicki questions whether this ranch is worth all the trouble.

To make matters worse, terrible things keep happening to her neighbors. When Jason is blamed, Nicki wonders how well she knows her new hand…and her own heart.

Two yearning hearts. Powerful enemies. Surprising love.

Set in the adventure and danger of the Wild West.

What do want your readers to take away after the last page?
You know, there is so much God can do with fiction, so many messages He can speak to people through stories. I guess my main desire would be for people who read my stories to walk away knowing that God loves them beyond a shadow of a doubt and that if they give their lives fully to Him, he will never let them down – even though it might seem like He does, in the short run.

How often do you blog and what do you cover in your blog?
I blog several times a month over at AuthorCulture. It is a group blog and we blog all about the writing life, give writing tips, and every Friday share a little writing humor.

Can you share with us a favorite book you have read?
Oh, asking me to pick a favorite is like asking me to choose a favorite child! I’d have to say that the Zion Covenant and Zion Chronicle series by Bodie Thoene both stand out as some of my favorite stories ever. The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers is another favorite. The DMZ by Jeanette Windle is awesome as well as Maire by Linda Windsor. More recently I’ve really been enjoying several of Denise Hunter’s books. See… I told you I couldn’t just pick one. :smile:

Where can we find you on the web?
My website is at: http://www.lynnettebonner.com. On there I have listed many other places where people can friend or find me on the net.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Naty Matos Releases Debut Novel


I'm thrilled to welcome one of Hope Tours charter sponsors, Naty Matos, to help celebrate the release of her debut novel.

How did the story for The Road Home come about?

Available on Kindle or Nook. 
I wrote the first draft of The Road Home in November 2009. I had decided to join NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the first time. I was going through some personal challenges at the time and this novel was the escape that got me through it. I had just renewed my commitment with Christ a few months before and decided to write from the perspective of those who didn’t know the faith and the joy of embracing it. But the story is so much more than someone finding faith. 

Tell us about the book.

Desiree is a woman struggling in life. She didn’t feel hope. She kept looking for love in all the wrong places and dealing with life tragedies the best way she could.

She had very little support in life. When she goes to college she meets Aimee, her roommate. These two women couldn’t be more different, but became the best of friends. Aimee supports and guides Desiree through her hard times and shows her the way to a better life.

Desiree finally finds love, the right love. She can’t wait to be with him in spite of what it could mean to the ones around her. But he has a condition for their reunion. The question is, Will Desiree be able to be with her lover?


At this time in your life, what is your greatest hearts' desire?

That my books provide my readers with an experience beyond the pleasure of entertainment but a spiritual experience that makes a difference in their life. I also would like to be able to get to the point where I can be a full time writer.


What does "a day in the life of Naty" look like these days?

I usually wake up at 5:45 am, spend some time with the Lord and then off I go. I walk my dog, fight Atlanta traffic, and go to my job with a healthcare company until 3pm. My afternoons are different depending on the day. Some days I have ministry responsibilities, other days I go workout. Then it’s time to sit with my laptop and write.  Some days I’m working on my blog, other days on my other WIP’s. After a few hours of that, I jump on Facebook and open tweetdeck to start working on marketing and social media. Around 11pm I shut down everything, I read the bible, journal my day and fall asleep to start it all again next morning.

Your first book, Growth Lessons, was nonfiction. Now that The Road Home is written, which do you like writing better - fiction or nonfiction? Do you find one easier than the other? 

I enjoy writing fiction better. I have a great imagination. Even in normal conversations I usually speak with metaphors so I think fiction helps me express myself better. I’m able to show the message instead of explaining it.

That said, I’m not giving up on nonfiction. There are at least a few other ideas I have for nonfiction books, but for a little while you will see more novels coming out from me.

Don't shoot - because I know you're just now releasing this book, but are you already working on your next one? Can you tell us anything about it?

No shooting necessary, the reality is that there are two other books in the works.  One that I will definitely try to release by the holidays, it’s titled Love Lost on Christmas Day. This book is a romance that talks about taking God’s gifts for granted.

The next one, which for now it’s titled A Perfect Little Life (but that may change), is another romance, but it deals with issues like pride, living off appearances and living on our own terms instead of God’s terms.

Readers, you can find The Road Home available on Kindle or Nook.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Naty! May God guide you on your writing journey!




About the Author:

Naty Matos was born in the city of New York. She grew up in the beautiful Island of Puerto Rico and now lives in the city of Atlanta. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Clinical Psychology with a Minor in Mass Media Communications and a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. Naty writes Christian fiction and non-fiction. She maintains a blog on Christian Living Topics at The Rising Muse.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Discouragement Busters

Today, we welcome back Rita Schulte as our guest blogger.


Have you ever wondered why we get so upset when things don’t go as we painstakingly plan in life? You may be thinking, that’s a stupid question, it’s normal to be upset when things don’t turn out like we want them to; end of story. But is it?  It’s true that disappointment is an inevitable part of life, but if it’s stealing your joy or leading to discouragement, maybe it’s time to take a look at what could be driving it.

Disappointment is the result of a blocked goal, a hurt; or perceived loss of some kind. Loss usually gives rise to feelings of anger, hurt, rejection or sadness. I wanted something to happen that didn’t, or I didn’t want something to happen that did. The most important thing to consider is the message your disappointment is trying to convey.

Each of us has attached a meaning to the situations and events in life that have caused us pain or disappointment. When those add up it’s easy for discouragement to set in. How do you know if you’re discouraged? Let’s take a look:

  • Chronic feelings of anger or depression
  • Focus is on the obstacles
  • Divided heart and mind
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Feelings of failure

Our beliefs provide clues as to why we struggle with discouragement. So we need to notice what we’re telling ourselves that’s causing our joy to be stolen. Here are some examples-- see if any fit for you.

If things don’t go as I plan, I tend to believe the following about myself:
  • I’m a failure
  • I’m inadequate
  • I’m not good enough
  • I won’t be happy unless …


Most of our discouragement comes from judgments we make about our performance or our intrinsic worth. If you said yes to any of the above statements, you’re forgetting a very important truth. You are full and complete exactly as you are---apart from your performance! How do I know that? Because Jesus said we have been given fullness in Christ (Colossians 2:9). In I Peter 1:3 he said, “His divine power has given us everything for life. The word everything here means everything! So whether you feel like it or not, the truth is, you are totally complete, adequate, acceptable, valued, and secure in Christ. That’s the best discouragement buster I know.

Looking through a different lens

King Solomon was disappointed with life too. He received fame and became greater than all who went before him. He obsessed about success and every worldly pursuit. His conclusion: “Vanity of vanities.” This word means “emptiness, futility, or meaninglessness.” Solomon decided there was only momentary pleasure for all his toil, and each time he repeated it, he got less enjoyment from it.
       
Solomon counted the cost for success and concluded that nothing would satisfy. No amount of fame, fortune or pleasure. We too must ask ourselves if all the “chasing after the wind” will ultimately satisfy our souls. The point of Ecclesiastes is that God intends for us to have joy, but real joy comes from His hand and begins with accepting that He is in charge of our lives no matter what circumstances or disappointments we face. When we understand that, we can view discouragement through a different lens, one that assures us that God is still up to something even though we’ve been let down.
      
When we look through the lens of possibilities we can change or modify our beliefs about success and failure. Here are a few discouragement busters to consider:
  • Focus on the bigger picture
  • Watch for negative self talk
  • Place your faith in God not in your circumstances
  • Appropriate your identity in Christ
  • Cultivate an attitude of gratefulness

What disappointments are you facing today? What beliefs are robbing you of the joy that is already yours in Christ?  Begin today to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness by refusing to let life’s disappointments steal your joy.


About the Author: Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She is the host of Heartline Podcast and Consider This. Her shows can be heard on 90.9FM in Lynchburg, Va. and 90.5 FM in NC, and on BlogTalk Radio. Her devotional spot, Consider This, will be airing on Community Radio Network. Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. Her articles have appeared in magazines like Counseling Today and Thriving Family Magazine. Her book, Sifted As Wheat: Finding Hope and Healing Through the Losses of Life is currently with Hartline Literary Agency awaiting publication. Follow her at www.siftedaswheat.com, on FB at Rita A. Schulte, MA, LPC and twitter at heartlinepod. Her blog, Life Talk Today is www.siftedaswheat.com/blog



Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Observations and Reflections


Right after school ended for the semester, we went into high gear to publish three books during the month of May (and had just published one mid-April). Once all the books were published, life came to a screeching halt – the kind where you stop, look around, and say “okay, that was fun, now what?”

Since the end of May, I’ve spent time observing people in various aspects. I’ve surfed the internet, catching up on news, events, and blogs I’ve not read in a while, I’ve scrolled through Facebook posts from friends and acquaintances in all my groups, I’ve attended meetings online and in person, I’ve visited with friends and family, and I’ve even managed to explore some new places. And daily, I’ve fielded e-mails from writers and readers with questions about submissions, editing, our contests, and the Hope Tour.

In the midst of all of it, I noticed a pattern that overlapped from one group of folks to another. The fact that this pattern is not coming from just one group of people, or one aspect of my life, but from all areas, is what caught my attention.

Over the past week, I’ve observed the following:

  • People bashing others who have more knowledge and wisdom, only because they’re “dated” or “old.”
  • Those who have more knowledge and wisdom bashing those who are still growing and learning.
  • People who wanted to break rules, or make exceptions to rules, because it suits them.
  • People who are so focused on themselves they don’t see the big picture.
  • People who speak before they think.
  • Judgment toward others by people who haven’t walked in the same shoes of people they’re judging.


All of this makes me sad, and sadder still to recognize myself in some of it. Just in case you recognize yourself in any of this, my observations aren’t limited to one specific group or one particular person. I’m not picking on anyone. It’s just that I’ve encountered these things from strangers and from those closest to me, from professional relationships as well as personal, from online and in person, and I want to learn from it, to grow from it.

We are all unique beings – down to the tiniest speck of DNA. Sure, we’re the same in some areas, but for the most part, we’re unique, different, one-of-a-kind masterpieces made by God Himself. Cookie-cutter houses and cars are bad enough – do we really want to have or be cookie-cutter people, too?

What is wrong with us, that we can’t see that others have gone before us, so we can learn from their experiences? What’s wrong with us that we can’t see how far we’ve grown and yet recognize and have compassion toward others who are still growing? What’s wrong with us that following rules or guidelines has become too difficult or too bothersome? Where is our consideration for others? Our respect? Where is our love for one another?

Stop for a moment. Look around you. This world isn’t all about you. It’s not all about me, either. There are hurting people out there who need hope. There are people who are struggling to live the best they can who need encouragement. There are people out there who’ve worked many years to get where they are now, and they deserve our respect.

Paul wrote the Corinthians a message that bears repeating:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
Love never fails. … And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 NIV)

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul also listed the fruits of the Spirit – the tangible results of what our lives reflect if we’re living God-honoring lives. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV)

What does your life reflect from a professional standpoint? From a personal one? Is there an area or two where you need work? I do, and I intend to start on my knees.





Friday, May 18, 2012

At the End of the Rainbow


The first time my husband and I went on a geocaching hike in the mountains, I thought, "Wouldn't it be fun to work this into a story?" Hmm. It could be a murder mystery, with various clues found in different caches. But, you know, I don't write mysteries, so that wouldn't work. So . . . romance. A romance with geocaches. Sure, why not?

When a friend and I started brainstorming a novella collection for proposal to Barbour Publishing in January, 2011, the idea I'd ignored for several years percolated to the top of my mind. Thankfully, Nicole was intrigued and thought it sounded fun. In a day or two we had the basic premise for the anthology worked out and found two other authors to join our team.

What if--what if a church decided to host a geocaching hunt as a summer-long outreach event? What if the whole thing was set up to remind participants that the treasure most of us seek is temporary, but there is treasure that will last into eternity?

We set up a few ground rules for the Rainbow's End Treasure Hunt (because everyone knows a pot of gold is found at the end of the rainbow), and figured out what roles all of our romance heroines and heroes would play.

I chose to write about Lyssa Quinn, the event's reluctant volunteer coordinator. She's a woman who's bold about telling people why drinking soda is bad for them, but shies away from sharing her faith lest she be ridiculed. Juxtaposed in the story is Kirk Kennedy, Lyssa's former humanities professor who used to make fun of Christians in class--not that he ever knew she was one. Now managing his brother's startup electronics retail outlet for the summer, he's in a position to sponsor the Rainbow's End hunt. That is, if he doesn't laugh Lyssa clear out of the store first.

Barbour decided our proposal was worthy of purchase, which made me completely giddy. I'd been writing for nine years, with nine complete novels, before making my first pro sale! The interim from February 2011 to May 2012 has seemed like eternity, but here it is, and with it, Rainbow's End is finally for sale to the public. My novella "Topaz Treasure" is the first of the four as it sets the scene.

Are you curious about geocaching? Drawn to boldness? Interested in eternal treasure? You'll find all those things at Rainbow's End . . . with a side helping of romance.

Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie grows much of her own food and is active in the local food movement as well as her church. She only hopes her imaginary friends enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, gardening and geocaching with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters. Check out her website and blog at http://valeriecomer.com.

Matthew 6:19-21: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven. . .for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

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