Monday, August 3, 2015

FRIENDS - special treasures

What would we do without friends?

I suppose our closest friends are those we’ve found always stand by us when we need  encouragement, help, or plain good advice. I value my friends now more than I ever did. I have lost a couple of dear ones but I’m comforted knowing they are with the Lord. I used to wonder at their kindness in being there when I most needed them, but now I know. They, like me, have discovered it’s even more blessed to give of yourself than receive.

I heard a touch of disappointment in my friend’s voice when she told me no one was planning anything for her birthday. That was my opportunity to make a special cake for her. She was so surprised when she assumed it was a simple dinner invitation. But then the candle-decked birthday cake came! Such a simple thing. She keeps my books. Another friend does my hair, so we have a lunch date every so often. And so it goes. Other friends visited me in hospital.And I keep ‘tabs’ on them. It’s mutual give and take, joyfully given and gratefully received. Yet another dear friend guides me in everything to do with computers … no mean feat.

Online Friends They are special in another way They can give valuable help and encouragement from afar. They can cheer you on when you're despondent, something that happens many times in a writer's world. Only another writer can truly empathize with you. It may be a simple comment, but that can mean so much.

So let's look after our friends. They are a special gift to treasure. And  sometimes they understand you more than you understand yourself. Do you possess those special pals who truly are the wind beneath your wings?

(left) Three of Rita's friends who were the first to turn up at her book signing at Koorong, a Sydney bookstore. 

www.ritastellapress.com

Sunday, August 2, 2015

SUNDAY EDITION


Coming Up This Week

Monday

Rita Galieh: FRIENDS - Special Treasures

Tuesday

Jenn Kelly

Wednesday

Sara Goff

Thursday

Ufuoma Daniella Ojo: Oldish Dog, New Tricks

Friday Devotion

Shirley Corder: Looking to the Stars

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New Releases

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Plum Upside Down, Book 5 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in August 2015.

Marion Ueckermann's second Passport to Romance novella, Oslo Overtures, set in Norway, will be an August 2015 release from White Rose Publishing.

Grace Bridges' literary science fiction set in Northern Ireland, Mariah's Dream, Book 1 in The Vortex of Éire series, has released from Splashdown Books in July 2015.


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Upcoming Releases

Sara Goff’s mainstream Christian fiction novel set in NYC, USA, I Always Cry at Weddings, will be a September 2015 release from WhiteFire Publishing.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2016 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Friday, July 31, 2015

DEVOTION: The Unexpected Enemy ~ by Marcia Lee Laycock

A friend of mine joined the air force just after graduating from high school, many years ago. He trained as a radio technician, but was also trained as part of the base’s defense force. That meant that during the periodic ‘war games,’ meant to teach the men how to defend the base effectively, his assignment was to guard the end of the runway in the event of an "enemy" or "terrorist" attack. He was a solo guard, with only the standard issue rifle with which to do the job. He was usually ‘killed’ very early in the exercise.

My friend admits that his guarding of the runway was highly ineffectual. “Had there been real invaders or terrorists,” he said, “I would have done my best, but one person with a rifle, standing out in the open probably wouldn't have stood a chance.”

When I heard my friend’s story, I immediately thought, “Daah, what were they thinking?” But then I realized that the games those soldiers played back in that era were just that. They were games with no expectation of a real attack. There had been no 9/11 yet. An attack on North American soil wasn’t even a consideration at that time. When you don’t really expect an enemy to attack, you don’t bother taking the precautions that might be necessary.

Too often we forget about the enemy that is out to destroy our souls. We don’t expect him to attack. Perhaps we feel secure in our good works – we go to church now and then, we try to treat everyone well, we give to charities; we might even read our Bibles occasionally. We are like my friend, alone on that airstrip with a very small weapon and, like my friend, we will be defeated before the ‘game’ has hardly begun.

The Bible says that our enemy “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith...” (1Peter 5:8-9).

How do we resist an enemy set on our destruction?

First, believe that he will attack, then arm ourselves with the knowledge of God, the knowledge of His Word, the knowledge of His promises that will never be broken.

Know God in a personal way, as friend, protector and The Almighty.

Memorize scripture. The words of God are like atomic bombs to the enemy. He runs for cover when the Word is spoken.

Obey His word. The enemy can’t roar loud enough to make a difference when we are responding to God’s voice.

And never stand alone. If we stay within the Body of Christ, the lion can only roar in frustration, from the outside.

In the spiritual battles of life, there is far more at stake than the defense of a military base; far more than the defense of an entire nation. The battle is for our very souls, which are eternal. With stakes that high, we must expect the attack and always be prepared. 

Marcia Lee Laycock lives and writes in Central Alberta, Canada where she lives with her husband and two golden retrievers. Her work has appeared in print in both Canada and the U.S. and in many places on the world wide web. Visit her website to learn more about her writing and speaking ministry.

Marcia is the author of One Smooth Stone and A Tumbled Stone, and the devotional Spur of the Moment - available at Christian bookstores or from Amazon. Or order by emailing directly. Contact Marcia via her website to sign up to receive her weekly devotional, The Spur. 

Download Abundant Rain, a devotional for writers of faith at Smashwords.



Thursday, July 30, 2015

How book settings can affect a reader

Back in the 80’s an older lady gave me the first book in the When Calls the Heart series by Jeanette
Oke and it hooked me back into reading. As a child I read all the time but after leaving school, I stopped reading for several years. I read this book and it made me fall in love with Canada and Mounties. It made me want to visit Canada and see the rugged areas and also see a Mountie. Many years later in 2007 I got to visit Canada and while I didn’t see a Mountie in uniform I fell even more in love with the country and have now been back two more times even if the second time was only overnight.

I read a few books by Robin Jones Gunn and after reading here Sisterchicks do the hula I told mum I have to go to Hawaii. Mum’s reaction was less than enthusiastic with a, you are not going anywhere. But the dream was there and I went there for three days before my Canadian trip.  Her other books to the different parts of the world also made me want to see the places. Her book Sisterchicks Downunder had me laughing so much at times cos I had done the same thing she had in a few instances and also her tasting of vegemite was the reaction I have seen by Americans tasting it for the first time. I also had to try chocolate fish and was so excited to find them in a shop in Adelaide.

I read a series set around National Parks in America and on my bucket list I want to visit Shiloh National Park in Tennessee. I stayed near the border last trip but the park was about 6 hours away and my friend had to work. I still hope to get there on day. I did however get to Washington DC and saw the Lincoln Memorial which was also mentioned in the books.

I have learnt about settings such as Africa, India and Guatemala through books which have been educational about different issues. Issues including corruption in Governments and high places to slavery where whole groups of people are captured for slave labour. I love learning things in books whether good or bad.

As a reader I love being able to read books set is so many different parts of the world. It really enhances the experience of reading. One day I may be in France during WW2 and the next in Canada in present day times to the next being on a ship sailing to the New World. I love how books also make me want to visit different places to see what I am reading.


As a reader do you have any books that have made you want to go visit or fall in love with an area?


JENNY BLAKE (aka Ausjenny) is an avid reader. When not reading she enjoys watching cricket, in fact you could call her a cricket fanatic, scrapbooking and jigsaws. She volunteers at the local Christian bookshop where she can recommend books to customers. Her book blog is where she reviews books and interview authors. Her goal is to help promote new books and encourage authors. Her blog is at http://ausjenny.blogspot.com and is Co-Founder of http://acrba.blogspot.com

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Motivations



When I begin a new writing project my mind spins like a turbine in a wind storm. So many ideas, so many possibilities. How do I weed out the ridiculous and pare them down to a workable core?

Setting—check.

Character descriptions—check.

Crime—check.

For me, those are the easy ones.

Identifying the character’s motives—that’s a whole different issue. Why do my characters do what they do?

It’s an interesting exercise that inevitably leads to self-examination.

Why do I do what I do?

Obviously, for me as a Christian the right answer is: because I want to honour God. There are times, however, when my desires are so jumbled I’m not sure that is actually the true answer. This miss-match is my inner conflict. If I put on my writer’s cap I can pull apart my twisted motives, examine them closely, and understand them better. I can even graft them into my characters.

Their inner conflicts won’t be clones of my inner conflicts. I tweak their motives to suit the situation my characters find themselves in. I play God by manipulating their fictional world until I’ve forced them into a corner where they have to confront their misplaced motivations and decide whose will they will choose. Theirs? Or God’s?


Frankly, I’m glad our real God is so much gentler with me!

This summer I'll be in pondering motives. What will you be doing?



Jayne Self is a mystery writer, former Director of Write Canada, and a ponderer of motives. She winters in Ontario and summers in Nova Scotia--not far from those wind turbines.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mind Your Tongue

 I was rolling out pie crust the other day and had a flashback of myself as a pre-teen sitting in my neighbour's kitchen while she demonstrated the art of pasty making.  There were eight or ten of us, all members of a 4-H homemaking club.  The leader, my neighbour, was having trouble with the pie crust.  It kept tearing.  She was doing her best to instruct us girls on the finer points of pastry while trying to repair the holes that appeared in her pie crust.  A school chum sitting next to me snickered behind her hand and made rude comments.
    Our neighbour was a busy farm wife with hundreds of tasks awaiting her attention.  She received no monetary recompense for teaching a batch of smart-aleck school girls.  She didn't even have a child of her own to benefit from the 4-H club.  She deserved our gratitude, not our ridicule.
     The Bible is rife with  instructions to guard our speech. James 3:8, Matt 12: 36-37Ephesians. 4:291 Peter 3;10Ps 34:13, to reference a few. 
          As writers, I think we need to keep those warnings in mind.  Whether we write for a Christian market, or the general market, we write from a Christian world view.  Of course we want realistic characters, we want villains and we want to speak into the world around us, but we can make sure that our villains are not heroes and our heroes are not villains.  The entertainment world has blurred that line so much it is often unrecognizable.  A protagonist with a foul tongue, is not a hero, in my view.  A character who indulges in spiteful gossip is not a heroine -- she is a flawed character who needs to be redeemed.  That would make a good story, don't you think?
       Malicious talk is ungodly, it is damaging to the community and it is hurtful to the victim.  What I realized, as I rolled out pie crust, some fifty years later, is that a nasty tongue is harmful to the speaker as well.  That incident has stuck in my mind all these years, and my memory of my school chum has been tarnished forever by her unkind words.  
      I remember telling my pal to hush lest she be heard.  I wish I had told her to hush because she was doing wrong. Col 3:16.
The characters in our books should do no less.


Alice Valdal lives in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, where harvest time has come early.  As well as pies, she's making jams, jellies, relish, . . . Visit her at  www.alicevaldal.com or at  facebook.com/#!/alice.valdal.5

Published Books.
            



Monday, July 27, 2015

Not by Might, nor Power, but by His Spirit


Our home here in South Africa is a work in progress. At this stage we have no garage or driveway, so our cars park on the lawn outside. We have one big, super-powerful car for when we need to get our family of five somewhere far, and a small run around for me for when we need to, well... run around. In the pic above, you can see Ginger modelling my small car.

Over the weekend, it rained. Then it rained some more. When it was done raining, it raining again just for fun. The funny thing about rain is that it has a magical ability to turn lawn to muddy slush.

On Saturday evening we tried to take my eldest and her friend to go visit other friends in the big car. We discovered that what used to be lawn, was in fact now a mud pit somewhat like quicksand that sucked you deeper in the more you tried to get out. If the powerful one couldn't make it out, there was not way the little one would! We didn't even try.

On Sunday, my hubby did everything he could think of to get the big car out but all his efforts only made it worse. In a last ditch attempt to get to church, he suggested we try push mine out the yard without even switching the engine on. That's the beauty of small cars - you can bully them as much as you want.  Minutes later my car was out and we used it to help tow the other one. I never thought I'd see the day that my tiny car would be used to tow the enormous one! As we were driving to church in the rescued big car, I said to the Lord, "Well that was fun. What was it all about?"

I could almost sense the grin on his face as He rubbed his hands and leaned in close...

When we find ourselves in a sticky spot in life, if we put our trust in ourselves to get out of it, our wheels spin, mud flies and we dig ourselves deeper. But when we trust God for a solution, stop frantically scrambling to rescue ourselves - HE is able to come through in ways we could never imagine. It's not about doing nothing, but it's all about where we put our trust - in our own efforts, or in His mighty power working on our behalf. A person of tiny faith who trusts Jesus is more effective than a spiritual powerhouse who falls into the trap of trusting their own strength.


Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. 
Zechariah 4:6

Friends, I don't know about you, but I'm a little over getting splattered with mud from trying to dig myself out of my troubles! I'm putting my trust in His ability, His resources and His connections.

What are you trusting Him for today?








Dianne J. Wilson is a freelance writer and author from South Africa.

Her first official novel, Finding Mia, is now available from Pelican / HarbourlightAmazon and in other places that you find good books.


Shackles is available as a free ebook.