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.