Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Write Your Passion: Sharing the Good News

Sharing the Good News
by Christine Miller-Ramey

When I became a Christian in 1991, it became clear that my passion would soon be sharing the good news with others. Since then, I learned about my gift of writing. So with my writing, I share the good news with my devotionals on my website at It is a place that I share anything within the word of God to those who stop by. I love sharing my faith about how Christ saved me and because He saved me how I can now live a free life from sin.

The journey mind you has not been an easy one. I’ve had my share of struggles and disappointments. Yet, through it all, I can still shine and stand strong because of my passion for sharing Christ’ great love with others. I hear all the time on my site how sharing the gospel in the way that I do is needed. It’s something that to many don’t get the chance to hear. If they can’t go to church or have not heard about my awesome Savior then having it available online is the next best thing. It’s a way for others to hear about this Savior of mine. A way for my readers to learn how He can change them one day at a time, and so it is my goal to share that on my blog daily.

I’ve seen my life in turmoil many times before and yet, I’ve seen how He can quickly change it to the good. That’s my goal on my blog. I want my readers to know how He can change them. I want them to be challenged to do something different with their live through my writing. God has given me a gift to write with a purpose, and I’m out to fulfill it!

I have people who make comments on my blog about how we need more devotional’s like this in a hurting world. They couldn’t be more right. It is also a reminder to me as a writer that I have a responsibility to write the good news and to be very clear about my objectives with it. I want the gospel to be portrayed in a positive way to where it reaches the lost.

I want it to be something that when they read it their hearts will be changed for good. Words are powerful, and how I write them depends on rather they are reached or not reached. So I pray daily that God would give me the words that He wants for me to display upon my site, and to the world. I reach people from all across the globe. Interestingly enough, my readership is mostly from people overseas. I find that odd that people from outside the United States where religion is free to all, that I can’t even get my highest readership from them. I often wonder why that is and why it’s not from the country that God was founded upon.

Nevertheless, I’m passionate about sharing my faith so others can grow and walk with Christ daily. I want the words I write to display the love He has given me. I want more than anything else in this world than for my blog to be a blessing and to reach the lost for Christ!  

About Christine:

Christine M. Miller-Ramey is a freelance writer. She enjoys writing devotionals that share her faith and the good news of Christ. Her devotionals have appeared at and She has an anthology that will be released by December entitled “A New Song.” Christine is currently working on her first Inspirational Romance Novel and has entered it into the 2011 Page Turner Competition. She has a blog that is dedicated to bloggers all across the globe and share devotional’s with them monthly at She also does book reviews at Her personal author website is at Her devotional website at When Christine is not writing she enjoys her time with her two cats and her two dogs. She lives at home with her parents in Hilliard, Florida.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Mystery Monday: Police Procedurals

Up for discussion this week is one of my favorite categories of mystery stories – the Police Procedural.  You know I am an avid fan of this genre when you peek into my purse and see that I carry a much-folded alphabetical listing with the names of procedural authors I enjoy reading, and each of their old/recent/upcoming book titles in date order. This makes it simple to check off ones that I have read, and provides a never-ending stream of potential future purchases (and a super “wish list” goldmine for my family and friends when they wonder what to get me for birthday and holiday gifts).

What is a police procedural?  I like to describe it as a specific format of mystery where the process of how the crime is solved is as equally important as the characters, the setting, and the crime itself.

Often, the following occurs throughout a police procedural:

  •      True to life or accurate representation of police investigative techniques
  •       Medical examiner and detective protocols are described (fingerprinting, evidence collection, autopsies) and crime scene investigation (CSI) techniques are equally critical to the action
  •       Victim and suspect hair/skin/DNA analysis described/completed
  •       Multiple character viewpoints (detective, lab personnel, medical examiner etc.) but typically seen through the eyes of one or two primary detectives or police officers

The identity of the murderer/killer may or may not be known prior to the end of the book.

Aside from this initial definition, I like to divide police procedurals into two geographies – those with a setting “across the pond” (or taking place in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland) and those based in the USA.

My own preference, with one or two outliers, is for those set in England. 
For non-British series, I do enjoy the Patricia Cornwell books featuring Kay Scarpetta, a fictional chief medical examiner. Often gritty and unsettling, Cornwell’s stories are gripping page-turners. I have stuck by Scarpetta through her moves from Virginia, to Florida, and also Maryland, South Carolina, and New York.  This is unusual in police procedurals, which typically are set in one specific locale where the crime-solver lives or works. By the way, Red Mist, the newest Scarpetta novel, is due out December 6th if you want to give Cornwell a try.

On the inspirational side, I can recommend DiAnn Mills’ “Call of Duty” series, each book featuring a special agent with the FBI, the CIA, or a border patrol agent.  Also on my “to be read pile” is the first in Jerry B. Jenkins’ Precinct 11 trilogy, The Brotherhood. Have you read it? I am looking forward to reading his other titles, The Betrayal (Sept. 2011) and the Breakthrough (2012) -- all Christian police procedurals.

I confess, I have saved the best for last.  For some reason – perhaps because they are a kin to cozy mysteries – I am an avid devotee of British police procedurals.  I love reading about the English countryside, and the quirky village personalities found as the chief inspectors and detectives follow on the trail of murderers.  I don’t have the time or space to list all my favorite books featuring Scotland Yard’s finest or the Metropolitan police forces in England and Wales.  Of note are the Martha Grimes “Inspector Jury” books, the Dorothy Simpson series with Inspector Luke Thanet, and Clare Curzon’s Superintendent Mike Yeadings mysteries.  Recently, procedural author Elizabeth George horrified fans by killing off a major recurring character in her series featuring Inspector Thomas Lynley. Even I was discomfited by this development – but I am still looking forward to the sixteenth in the series, Believing the Lie, due out in January 2012.  There are dozens of other authors – all with rich back lists to delve into!

If you would like to see the wealth and breadth of police procedural authors – check out this link.

Happy detecting!

Next time, we’ll look into the difference between mystery, and suspense, and top authors in each genre.

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.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Rose McCauley's Thanksgiving Week Giveaway

Rose McCauley is so thankful to have her first fiction book pubbed—Christmas Belles of Georgia—that she is doing a giveaway of the e-cookbook Novel Morsels to anyone who orders Christmas Belles of Georgia from Amazon November 23-27. 

Novel Morsels is a cookbook compiled by Nicole O’Dell with over 100 recipes from books written by 65 authors. This book will soon be listed on Amazon at $2.99 a copy. But this week you can receive it free by ordering a copy of Christmas Belles of Georgia on Amazon, then going to Rose’s blog where you will find out how to contact her by email to give her your amazon order code and receive the code for the free copy of Novel Morsels.

So hurry on over to and order a copy or two or three of ChristmasBelles of Georgia (they make lovely Christmas gifts!) and then get a free gift for yourself. You will have lots of recipes to try out in the coming months and can read about some more great books! And right now Amazon is having a special deal if you buy 3 books under $10 you get one free!

It’s a win/win deal! You can do your shopping with a couple clicks and not have to battle all the crowds!

To whet your appetite I am including my version of my Southern-style dressing copied from the book.

Recipe Title: Best Dressing Recipe Ever! 

Book info: Christmas Belles of Georgia, Barbour Publishing, 2011. My novella is entitled Nick’s Christmas Carol.

Recipe: Start early in the morning (or can do the night before): cook 2 Jiffy cornbread mixes per package instructions in a 13x9 pan at 400 degrees until done. (15-20 min.) Let cool then crumble into bite-sized pieces. (I cut into 1 in. squares in pan and then crumble it up.) Toast 12 slices bread (I like whole wheat but have used white) cool, then pulse in the food processor until tiny crumbs. Pour breadcrumb mixture on top of crumbled corn bread.

Next (or next day after you get the turkey in the oven) prepare turkey broth by cooking the giblets in 4-6 cups of water or use 4 chicken bouillon cubes in water or prepared chicken stock. Use food processor to chop one medium onion, then 3 or 4 stalks of celery. Place skillet on top of stove on medium and melt one stick of margarine, then add 1 pound pork sausage and cook, chopping it into small pieces with spatula. To this mixture add the celery and onion and cook together.

To the 13x9 pan with cornbread and bread mixture add 1 t. pepper, 1 t. sage, 1 t. poultry seasoning and mix throughout. Then pour everything in the skillet on top and blend together in pan. Then pour 2 cups of the broth over this, adding more broth ½ cup at a time until it forms a stiff dough. It can now be cooked in a couple buttered baking dishes for 20-25  min. at 350 degrees if you prefer your dressing soft.
My husband’s mother always made dressing balls, so if you wish to do that you can roll the mixture into balls or I scoop it with a buttered ¼ cup measuring cup and place the humps into a buttered dish and cook at 350 for 25 minutes. This recipe will make 28- ¼ cup balls which should serve around 14 guests.

Blurb: The hero’s aunt who raised him makes this recipe for Thanksgiving dinner each year. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia, so is a great southern cook. This is also the recipe I make for my Thanksgiving dinner each year. It is a several-steps process, but well-worth the effort—just ask my kids who don’t like anyone else’s dressing as much as mine! I got the basic recipe from the cooks at the school where I taught for two years in South Carolina and have gradually tweaked it to make it my own.

About Rose:

Rose has been writing for over ten years and has been published in several non-fiction anthologies and devotionals. She is happy for this to be her first fiction anthology because Christmas books are her favorites. A retired schoolteacher who has been happily married to her college sweetheart for 43 years, she is also mother to three grown children and their spouses and grandmother to three lovely, lively kids with one more on the way! You can reach her through her website or blogsite at  and also on Facebook as Rose McCauley.

Back cover blurb for the whole anthology Christmas Belles of Georgia: 

Four letters are mailed from Monticello, a small antebellum town in Georgia. Sisters once, now heirs to a historic plantation, each young woman must come to terms with the circumstances of her birth…Will the sisters receive a traditional Christmas gift…of love?

About Rose's story "Nick’s Christmas Carol" in Christmas Belles of Georgia:

Nick Powers worked hard to earn his college degree and his dream job. He doesn’t know what to expect when he finds out new owners will be taking over Bellingham Plantation soon. When Carol Peterson comes to town, she and Nick get off to a rocky start, but soon combine forces to make Christmas a happier time for others. Can they find their own Christmas happiness?

Friday, November 25, 2011

Fundraiser and Raffle - You Could Win

Several years ago, I made the acquaintance of author Sandi Rog. Sandi is now in a fight for her life, and we want to help her - but we need your help too. As Alison Strobel Morrow put it:

Imagine you're a mom of four, living with MS, still readjusting to life in the states after years spent abroad, and finally seeing a dream come true. The book you've researched for years and poured your soul into is finally, today, being released into the world. After all the struggles of moving, of helping children acclimate, of learning a new city, of juggling motherhood and family and writing, you get to celebrate the realization of a dream.

And on that same day, your doctor tells you to come in right away--you you have stage 4 T-cell lymphoma, possibly caused by the medication you've been taking for MS.

This is what happened to Sandi Rog on November 1, 2010. For the last year, Sandi has endured chemo, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant, with the hope of destroying this aggressive cancer. And then, just a few weeks before the release of her second book, new tumors were discovered near her spine that show the cancer has not succumbed the way we had all hoped.

So now, in the face of the holiday season, the Rog family finds themselves settling in for another year of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual battle as Sandi faces more treatments--one of which holds much promise but is not covered by insurance. As you can imagine, the financial cost of fighting cancer can be overwhelming, and that's why we're hosting this fundraiser.

The fundraiser raffle begins today. You can read about the fundraiser at the website, and read this post to see how the raffle works.

Then, check this blog often to "bid" (comment) on the numerous packages being offered. Here's a list of packages you could win. There are books, gifts, games, services, and much more! So please pop over and participate. And please, help spread the word about the raffle and fundraiser - post information on your own blogs and websites, Facebook, Twitter, and tell your friends and family.

Amy Barkman, Debbie Roome, and I put together a fun Game Basket, so be sure to check it out! It's perfect for a family game night or that unexpected Snow Day. And we'll try to get it shipped to the winner in time for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tough Topics: The Necessity of Brokenness

Today, we welcome Rita A. Schulte to Tackling Tough Topics.

The Necessity of Brokenness

It’s a rainy day today, the kind of day that surrounds one in melancholy. Something stirs in my memory as I reach down to set my warm cup of tea beneath my chaise. It’s sorrow, roaming the distant corridors of my mind and pulling me back---back to those difficult days of grief after my father’s death, where pain and suffering where my daily companions, and brokenness had not yet accomplished its work in me. There, in that cold familiar place I have come to know as emptiness, God began to teach me about loss, gently stitching together the pieces of my broken heart.

Sometimes we don’t notice it at first, the breaking of our hearts. It can happen slowly, and yet before we realize it, the effects of our grief have become catastrophic, and the death of our hearts inevitable. Loss throws us off balance, sometimes causing us to lose our way. If enough time goes by, and we don’t repair the distance between what we know intellectually and what we feel deep within our souls, we’ll find that along the journey we will have sacrificed something precious at the expense of protecting ourselves from pain. That something is our heart.

Somewhere edged in between desire and longing, sorrow seems to always stand in our way, reminding us that the happy-ever-after life we dreamed of is often a far cry from the reality we’re living. That moment of realization can be profoundly painful. As each chapter of our life unfolds, we can undoubtedly be guaranteed of two things: change and loss. These make up the unpredictable rhythm of life. How we respond to them will determine the journey of the heart. It will also determine if we live—really live—the life that Christ has called us to. If I am honest, I will admit I let a lot of living go by trying to make life work, struggling to figure out, make sense of, and answer all the questions that life and loss present. Perhaps loss was a necessary part of my journey; it certainly caused me to see suffering as a necessary ingredient in my life, whether I had all the answers or not.

Brokenness must have its way in each of our lives in order to move us from death to life. We need only to observe the seasons to be reminded of this process every year. Take the trees for example: every spring their leaves come to life as tiny new shoots; they grow and flourish, showing us signs of life and hope, only to die each fall. As winter begins to beckon, casting its gray and barren shadow over the landscape, we become profoundly aware of the absence of life around us. That life gives way to the death process, but from this death something wondrous occurs. The leaves produce a majestic display of bold and resplendent color. In other words, they become most fully alive and vibrant as they are dying.

Jesus makes a similar analogy in the gospel of John when he says, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24, italics mine). Here he illustrates metaphorically the power of rebirth through the process of death and dying. Jesus, the immortal seed of the Father, chose to take on immortality. His glory, hidden and buried beneath the earth, like the seed, breaks forth from the dust of death to display a bold and resplendent life. The fruit of the seed is known only as the earth and elements have their way, breaking down the hard shell so that the beauty and mystery that lie within can be fully exposed. The seed gives way to the miracle of life and abundance only through death and this death is most assuredly purchased at the feet of brokenness. Shall we expect the Master to work any differently in our own lives?

While we certainly won’t all be fighting for first place in line for this ticket, we can learn to move through this journey of brokenness and find healing and wholeness. We need only to change our perspective on loss and suffering. If we are willing to allow them to become our tutors, they can and will produce in us that same bold and resplendent life that Jesus is calling us to. If we have the eyes to see, we will come to know and understand that brokenness purifies our vision and chisels away all that keeps us from fully knowing the heart of God.

Brokenness is not only a necessary process in the life of the believer, it is a gift. Not an easy line to swallow for those of us who have been ravaged by the effects of loss. We often have great difficulty accepting the very idea of it. It seems like the godly thing to say, but in all practicality, pain, suffering, and loss are not readily embraced as gifts. The very suggestion that I was to consider them as such made me angry early in my Christian walk. Like somehow there was something wrong with me because I didn’t have enough faith to want to walk through a towering inferno with a smile on my face and a song of praise in my heart. But somewhere along the journey of loss I began to consider that if God was good, he was not out to break me; his heart was out to break my confidence in all the ways I was trying to make my life work apart from him. Loss was simply the vehicle he used to get my attention. It was then that I began to see suffering and pain in a new light. I could accept this process of brokenness as a gift from my heavenly Father, much like mature adults who grow to appreciate the discipline they received from their parents when they were children. This discipline is not pleasant at the time it’s received, as the author of Hebrews reminds us, but it is necessary in the molding and shaping of character, producing righteousness in all who are trained by it (Hebrews 12:11).

If you and I want to recover from the losses of life, we must catch a vision for a greater role that we were designed to play, and a bigger purpose beyond ourselves and our losses. In other words, we must slowly begin to see with eternal eyes that which is so difficult to see when brokenness knocks on the door of our hearts—the story isn’t finished yet.

Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in Northern Virginia. She is the host of Heartling Podcast and Consider This, both airing on 90.5 Life FM radio in North Carolina and her website. This article is taken from her book, Sifted As Wheat, finding hope and healing through the losses of life, currently in the publishing process. You can find her at , at Facebook and on Twitter at heartlinepod.

Hitting a Milestone

As 2022 ended, I had plans. Nothing extravagant, but perhaps a couple of adventures and a fall conference to prepare for and attend. But I q...