Friday, July 20, 2018

Devotion: When Life Doesn't Follow the Script by @DianneJWilson




Belonging to God and being part of His family feels like it should come with a guarantee of no more troubles. At least that’s how I felt until my mom was diagnosed with cancer many years ago. All the way through her illness, I was completely convinced that God was going to heal her. I couldn’t imagine it working out any other way.


But things didn’t work out as I’d scripted them in my head and she passed away. You could say that death was the ultimate healing as I know she’d made peace with God and is waiting for me in Heaven with her fabulously healthy spiritual body. I have a sneaky feeling that Jesus lets her peep when my girls do something that I know would have made her the proudest granny.
The truth is, even as God’s kids, we are not exempt from suffering. We do, however, get to face every hard thing holding onto His strong hand.
It was awful to lose my mom, but I’ve realized that every struggle that I overcome will become a life-raft for someone. I never knew what to say to someone who’d lost a family member. I would avoid them rather than face the awkwardness of that conversation. But now that I’ve been on the other side of that conversation, it no longer scares me.
You see, some of the things that you will go through are not intended for you at all. They are to give you the heart and the words that somebody else needs.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ‘...the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 
who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.’

Dianne J. Wilson writes novels from her hometown in East London, South Africa, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. She is writing the third book in YA series, Spirit Walker, with Pelican / Watershed. Book 1, Affinity released on the 8th of June. Resonance (book 2) will be released in October 2018.

Finding Mia is available from AmazonPelican / Harbourlight, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

Shackles is available as a free ebook from Amazon & Smashwords.

Find her on FacebookTwitter and her sporadic blog Doodles.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Bookish Tuesday | 2018 CAROL Award Finalist | Ghost Heart

Review by Iola Goulton @iolagoulton


Lisa Harris is one of the regular International Christian Fiction Writers bloggers who has been named a finalist in the 2018 CAROL Awards from American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a finalist in the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category with a novel she co-wrote with Lynne Gentry.

Congratulations, Lisa and Lynne!

The three finalists for the Mystery/Suspense/Thriller category are:

  • Four Months in Cuba by Luana Ehrlich, ACFW Qualified Independently Published, editors Pat Brown and Jodi Shumway
  • Ghost Heart by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry, ACFW Qualified Independently Published, editor Ellen Tarver
  • Portrait of Vengeance by Carrie Stuart Parks, HarperCollins Christian Publishing, editors Amanda Bostic and Erin Healy

Click here to check out the rest of the finalists.

To honour Lisa and Lynne, today we're resharing a review of the eye-opening Ghost Heart. This review previously appeared at www.iolagoulton.com.

A Medical Thriller Asking Big Questions

Ghost Heart is medical thriller. I have a love-hate relationship with medical thrillers. I love it because I love the suspense aspects. I hate it because it highlights the inequalities in medical profession both within countries like America, and globally. A million dollars for a heart transplant? The mind boggles.Yes, there is some blood and gore (gore = anything that can't be fixed with an Elastoplast. There are some good reasons why I didn't go into a medical profession). The worst of it is actually in the Prologue, so if you read the sample and are afraid it's going to get worse, don't worry. It doesn't.

Kelsey Taylor is five years old, and needs a heart transplant stop urgently. Her mother, Catherine, is prepared to do anything to save her daughter. Even going to Africa to for a heart transplant. The only way she save her daughter is to ask her father for help—which could destroy her relationship with her husband.

Mia Kendall is a heart surgeon in the public hospital in Tanzania. She finds her heart transplant patients are dying. But the transplant patients from the nearby private hospital not. She's suspicious. What is happening? Is there a problem with her surgical methods? Her post-operative care? Or is there a problem with the transplant organs?

Jeme is a Tanzanian wife and mother. Her husband has recently had a heart transplant, but he's sick again. And she's trying to protect her daughter—an albino, at risk of being kidnapped and murdered by hunters for her white skin and blue eyes. Unfortunately, this part of the story is based on fact. Albinos are considered cursed, yet at that same time, their body parts are considered good luck charms.

Ghost Heart focuses on the people who are trying to save lives. Catherine and Jeme, trying to save the lives of their daughters from two very different threats. Mia, trying to save her patients, and to make up for one mistake long ago. Organ transplant pilot Race Daniels, trying to save lives to make up for the two he couldn't save.

It also highlights the tragedy of our modern medical system, and the way it favours the haves over the have-nots. Those who have insurance or money or who live in a country with a good public health system vs. those who don't. The tragedy of transplants—the fact one person has to die in order for another to receive a new heart. The tragedy of greed—that where money is involved, someone will find a way to get rich at the expense of others.

The novel is suspense from start to finish, with several unexpected twists. Don't do what I did and start it when you should be going to bed! Recommended for all medical suspense lovers.

Thanks to the authors for providing a free ebook for review.

Amazon Description


A brilliant transplant surgeon. A rogue organ broker. A ghost child.
And the legend that could destroy them all.

A brutal murder convinces surgeon Mia Kendall there’s more than she imagined to the mysterious spike in heart transplant rejections. Determined to find answers before she loses another patient, Mia gets sucked into a dangerous international medical web. With time running out for her youngest transplant recipient, Mia is forced to partner with a disillusioned ex-military pilot who flies brokered organs across East Africa. But searching for the truth will prove costly for the unlikely duo racing to stop a madman before he annihilates a rare and cursed bloodline.

From best-selling author Lisa Harris and award-winning author Lynne Gentry comes a chilling, hypnotic medical thriller that will take you from the suburbs of Cincinnati to the jungles of Africa.


You can read the introduction to Ghost Heart below:



Monday, July 16, 2018

International Christian Fiction - New Releases | July 2018 #giveaway



Miss Serena’s Secret by Carolyn Miller


With devastating scars in her past, Serena Winthrop is sure no man can be trusted—especially not men like the far-too-smooth Viscount Charmichael. His reputation as a charmer and a gambler is everything she despises. And the young artist makes sure that this disreputable heir to an Earldom knows of her deep disapproval whenever they encounter one another.

Henry, Lord Carmichael, is perfectly aware of his charms to the women of the ton. He's gambled with plenty of their hearts as easily as he does their husband's money—it's all in good fun to him. But lately he's been wondering if there's more to life—and confronting the idea that his actions might not prove worthy of the admirable wives his friends have found.

When Serena's brother-in-law asks his best friend to protect his young ward, Henry promises to be on his best behavior and not woo her. But the more he learns of her, the more he realizes she might be his best reason for changing his character. Then the lady's art leads her to London infamy. Now Henry must choose between the life mapped out for him as the Earl apparent, and the love of his life. And Serena's secret may mean the end of his titled family line.

The second in a new series by internationally popular author Carolyn Miller is full of the same rich historical detail and evocative writing that readers enjoyed, and familiar characters make appearances here. The witty banter will continue to draw in fans of Jane Austen, Sarah Ladd, and Julie Klassen.

Giveaway


Carolyn Miller is giving away an ebook copy of Miss Serena's Secret. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post and/or Carolyn's Wandering Wednesday post on July 25. Receive two entries in the drawing by commenting on both posts. The giveaway closes on Tuesday July 31.

Journey to Derbyshire and Pemberley, the setting of Pride and Prejudice tv and movie adaptions, in Carolyn's upcoming Wandering Wednesday post.

Available from Amazon.com



Sons of Blackbird Mountain by Joanne Bischof


A Tale of Family, Brotherhood, and the Healing Power of Love

After the tragic death of her husband, Aven Norgaard is beckoned to give up her life in Norway to become a housekeeper in the rugged hills of Nineteenth-Century Appalachia. Upon arrival, she finds herself in the home of her late husband’s cousins—three brothers who make a living by brewing hard cider on their three-hundred acre farm. Yet even as a stranger in a foreign land, Aven has hope to build a new life in this tight-knit family.

But her unassuming beauty disrupts the bond between the brothers. The youngest two both desire her hand, and Aven is caught in the middle, unsure where—and whether—to offer her affection. While Haakon is bold and passionate, it is Thor who casts the greatest spell upon her. Though Deaf, mute, and dependent on hard drink to cope with his silent pain, Thor possesses a sobering strength.

As autumn ushers in the apple harvest, the rift between Thor and Haakon deepens and Aven faces a choice that risks hearts. Will two brothers’ longing for her quiet spirit tear apart a family? Can she find a tender belonging in this remote, rugged, and unfamiliar world?

A haunting tale of struggle and redemption, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is a portrait of grace in a world where the broken may find new life through the healing mercy of love.

Available from Amazon.com



Five Days in Skye by Carla Laureano


Andrea Sullivan is so consumed by her hospitality consultant job that she's forgotten what brings her joy. She dreads her new assignment—a last chance to snag a high-profile client in Scotland. Yet the lush Isle of Skye transcends her preconceptions. As does the man she must impress, the rugged, blue-eyed Scotsman James MacDonald.

He's passionate about cooking but after six restaurants, four cookbooks, and his own television show, he's grown weary of the scrutiny that comes with living in the public eye.

Soon Andrea and James begin to sense these five days in Skye together may just be God's wild invitation into deeper life ... and truer love.

Available from Amazon.com



Jane Austen's Sense And Sensibility Colouring and Activity Book: Featuring Illustrations from 1896 (Jane Austen's Colouring And Activity Books) by Eva Maria Hamilton


Let Historical Romance Author, Eva Maria Hamilton, take you back to the world of Jane Austen. Immerse yourself in colouring illustrations from the 1896 edition of Sense And Sensibility. Enjoy activities, such as Matching Characters to Quotes, Search Words, Anagrams, and more. Have fun in the Regency Era!

Available from Amazon.com

Friday, July 13, 2018

Why Should I Write?

Keona Tann | @ICFWriters


I've been a long-term journal writer, I've always found it so therapeutic to pour my heart into those lined notebooks. During my illness the stuff that was brewing inside of me threatened to take me to a very very very dark place and I found it was simply a must to pour it all out. There were times that I knew I had to destroy those words because I never ever wanted to read or acknowledge them again! If I didn’t feel a need to destroy the dark moment I can now look back over those painful words and praise God at how much He has done.

For me the 'leap' between a closet journal writer and a blogger was a long process and came about kinda by accident. Over 12 years ago I thought I could share my struggle with endometriosis to encourage others and so I started writing about it. Then my computer ‘died’ and I lost all my writing. I figured that I wasn't a writer anyway so that had just been a silly idea. But at the end of 2015, I felt the desire to write return. I entered every competition possible during the first half of 2016 but didn't have any success. I chatted to a writer friend towards the end of 2016 and she suggested I could start a blog. I had been reluctant as I wasn't sure I had the energy levels to commit and I really didn't know if I wanted to go public in calling myself a writer. Therefore, I just 'sat' on the idea.

Then on the 27th of November 2016 I attended a writing workshop. I'm not sure if I misunderstood the blurb of what I had signed up for, or if it was a huge big push from God but suddenly I found myself in this workshop creating a blog site. Now of course I could have closed it down and again told myself: 'don't be silly, you're not a writer, why should you write? who would want to listen to your ramblings?' but something had been ignited in my heart. Suddenly I realised that the thing I'd been resisting for SO long was actually something I was called to do! I was given a mission statement by God:

I desire to impact the world through the words I share. I long to enrich, empower and encourage others whilst delivering my stories with empathy and understanding.

“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.” Psalms 40:3 NLT


I decided that November day that I would venture upon this journey called writing and allow God to take my seemingly small efforts and turn them into something truly extraordinary. I promised myself I would walk along the unknown path and rely upon God. I've placed my trust in God to turn a desire into a destiny. I'm allowing God to interrupt my schedule; my to do lists; and plans so that He can reveal something far greater than I could possibly imagine.

"Believing for something God put on your heart is trusting that He will bring it to pass in the way He wants to when He wants to. It’s also having the humility to understand our purpose isn't for our personal elevation, rather for the promotion of the Kingdom." Kristen Dalton

Why should I write? Well I decided that if my story only touched and helped 1 person it was well worth the uncomfortable-sick-feeling I get sharing my heart. To be a writer isn't an easy path in life and I know that there will be many people who simply don't get what I'm trying to convey but I'm trying to be ok with that. Because I believe God is calling me to write then I've just got to trust that He will get the right words out and into the right hands to read them.

So today, my dear reader, know that I've given you a piece of my heart here today. I pray you're encouraged by my story. If you're also called to write, then PLEASE do it! Don't wait another minute, quick get those fingers swiftly pouring out your own story. Remember that:

"Your story could be the key that unlocks someone else's prison. Don't be afraid to share it." Unknown

Now go and write, write, write!

Many blessings, Keona

Crossposted at Australasian Christian Writers

About Keona:
I’ve lived most of my life in Tasmania, which is one of the beautiful Australian states. Deliriously happily married to my college sweetheart for over 20 years, we consider ourselves extremely blessed to be raising 2 wonderful teenagers. Hubby and I have also been long time child sponsors with Compassion so we have overseas kids!
I struggled with illness and disease for most of my life. The biggest battles were: endometriosis for 28 years and adrenal/chronic fatigue which was severe for 28 months. In September 2016 healing was declared over my life, praise God, this set me on a path of deep inner healing, restoration and transformation. My passion to write was reignited and I wrote out a mission statement:
“He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:3 (NLT)
I desire to impact the world through the words I share. I long to enrich, empower and encourage others whilst delivering my stories with empathy and understanding.
In my new-found boldness I’ve started a weekly blog which you can find at: https://keonajtann.wordpress.com/
Many Blessings, Keona

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Persuasion Movie Night

By Eva Maria Hamilton  @HamiltonEvaM


Hello Fellow Jane Austen Fans!



In anticipation of the release of my newest book,
Jane Austen’s Persuasion Colouring & Activity Book featuring Illustrations from 1897
I’m hosting an
online Persuasion Movie Night!

And You’re Invited!



Event Name: Persuasion Movie Night

Location: Facebook

Date: Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Time: 6:45-9:00pm EST

Please have your copy of the 1995 version of Persuasion (starring Amanda Root & Ciaran Hinds) ready to play!

If you don’t own the movie, there are multiple places to stream it, such as youtube.
In Canada, it costs under five dollars. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4tD3hJO6L8


If you don’t have the movie and still wish to come, please do!

We’ll chat, have fun, and there will be prizes!



See you there!
Eva


About Eva Maria Hamilton


Eva Maria Hamilton is the author of Highland Hearts, a Love Inspired Historical novel published by Harlequin. Her novel, Highland Hearts, won 2nd Place in the Historical Romance, as well as the Traditional/Inspirational Romance Categories in the Heart of Excellence Reader’s Choice Awards, and was an Inspirational Series Finalist in the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Her short story, Disinherited Love, can be read in the anthology, A Kiss is Still A Kiss. Eva Maria Hamilton is also the owner of Lilac Lane Publishing, which is currently publishing the Jane Austen Colouring & Activity Book Series.


To connect with Eva Maria Hamilton online, please visit her at www.EvaMariaHamilton.com or www.LilacLanePublishing.com


      

Monday, July 9, 2018

God, What Do You Want Me to Be When I Grow Up?

By Patricia Beal | @bealpat 


Hi everyone! Who’s excited about the second half of the year? I know I am. 

July always feels a bit like a second chance for the hopes and dreams of New Year’s Eve to come true. Don’t you think? Like a renewal, a revival, a do-over. 


I need it all. Renewal. Revival. Do-over. I’m feeling somewhat stuck though. 

How so? It’s like this... 

Did you guys watch the movie I Can Only Imagine

There’s this part about a major disappointment in the life of the band MercyMe. They have an opportunity to show their work to some powerful people who can make all their dreams come true, but when they finish performing, no one feels that they have what it takes to make it in the music industry. 

The band’s manager, Scott Brickell (portrayed by Trace Adkins), talks to MercyMe frontman Bart Millard (J. Michael Finley’s movie debut). 

This is their conversation—a conversation that makes tangible a feeling I’ve had for years. 

Watch the two-minute clip here: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77gP1gb9unc 


or read it... 

Brickell: Can I come in, or do you want to soak a little longer? 
Bart: (silence) 
Brickell: So, you just gonna quit? Is that it? 
Bart: You’ve got a better idea? I’m tired man. I’m… I’ve got nothing left. 
Brickell: I’m gonna be honest with you, like I told you I would be. Sometimes when you’re up there, it’s like you’re singing somebody else’s music. It’s like a fake imitation. I don’t believe it. I don’t believe you. 
Bart: Well, that’s gone from bad to worse. Thank you. 
Brickell: But then there are times when I see something real. I see something authentic. But as soon as it shows up it’s like you’re afraid and then it vanishes just as quick as it came. And that’s what makes you a puzzle to me. Let me ask you something Bart, what are you running from? 
Bart: My dad. He, uh, he... 
Brickell: ...he beat you, didn't he? Ya ain't got no poker face kid. 
Bart: I carry that. I have to live with that, you know. I always will. 
Brickell: Then write about it. Stop running from it. Let that pain become your inspiration. And then you’ll have something people can believe in. But to do that, you have to face your fears, son. You know, Bart, I may not always believe in your music, but I do believe in you. You sold me, kid. Don’t quit. 


Isn’t this powerful? 

“But then there are times when I see something real. I see something authentic. But as soon as it shows up it’s like you’re afraid and then it vanishes just as quick as it came.” 


Wow! 

Do you ever feel that way? How do you deal with it? 

Brickell tells Bart to let the pain become his inspiration, to face his fears. 

Does that mean you write sob stories? “Woe is me” stories? That’s not what Bart did. I don’t think there’s a market for that anywhere but in a therapist’s office. 

What did he do? He hit the brakes and worked on unknotting his knot. The song reflects the resolution. 

Now what? 

What am I running from? How about you? 

What if there are too many things that are all knotted up in my life right now? 

That’s what, for me, brings up the question: 

God, what do you want me to be when I grow up? 


Do you even want me to write something real and authentic? Or should I focus on that pesky dying to self business I can’t master? Or the forgiveness thing that eludes me? Or the relationship that’s now an eleven-year struggle? Or the kids and their never-ending fights? The homeschool? Our special needs? 

God, what do you want me to be? 

Do you want me to continue dancing? This will be a decisive year. I’m in three studios. One wants me to switch gears and begin teaching soon. One wants me to be on stage and compete. The other hasn’t shared a vision yet. What do I pick? I can’t be in three places anymore. I need to pick one. 

Time to let go? But go where? ;)

Where do I even start? 

This summer I began a new novel. I’m trying to unknot the Asperger’s/autism knot with it. Maybe working on that knot will loosen all the other knots too. One can hope. 

And hope I will in this “demi” new year. 

Maybe this is the season for big things to happen. 

The translation of A Season to Dance comes out back home in Brazil next month, and it will be in every store in the country. The publisher lands books on national bestseller lists consistently. Could it be? 

An American publisher I really like contacted my agent last week, asking to see my second manuscript. I see so many possibilities with them. Could it be? 

I’m taking my son to a horse therapy place that God might use to bring about change we desperately need. Could it be? 

Or could it be that I’m just too messed up for those blessings and won’t see light until I get better at reading my Bible and praying every day and being thankful? :-/ 

God, is it me? 

What do you want me to be when I grow up? 

On a brighter note: 

An early reader of the A Season to Dance translation in Brazil was ready to leave a tough relationship and rent a small place for her and for their little boy. After reading the novel, she decided to stay with her husband a bit longer and give him a chance to stand up and be the man he needs to be. I pray this young husband and father will honor her choice and make a change. Praise God for putting something in the novel for her. I’m not sure how the book changed her mind. I’m just glad it did. 



Thanks for letting me share my heart with you. 

I pray you find something of value in the post and in the movie dialogue. Have a blessed second part of 2018, and I hope all your hopes and dreams will come true still :-) 

About Patricia 


Patricia Beal has danced ballet her whole life. She is from Brazil and fell in love with the English language while washing dishes at a McDonald's in Indianapolis. She put herself through college working at a BP gas station and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati with a B.A. in English Literature. She then worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years. 

She now writes contemporary fiction and is represented by Bob Hostetler of The Steve Laube Agency. Her debut novel, A Season to Dance, came out in May of 2017 (Bling! / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). A Portuguese translation will be out in her native Brazil in August of 2018 (Editora Pandorga). Patricia is a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She and her husband live in North Carolina with their two children. 

Goodreads - www.goodreads.com/bealpat 
Facebook - www.facebook.com/patricia.beal.author 
Pinterest - www.pinterest.com/patriciasbeal 
Twitter - www.twitter.com/bealpat 
Web - www.patriciabeal.com

Friday, July 6, 2018

DEVOTION: WIMPY PRAYERS

by Rusty A. Lang (Pseudonym for Marlene Anne Morphew@AnneMorphew)


 Who me?
Lord, are you saying I pray wimpy prayers?
Shocked, I sat up with a start. It was the early hours of the morning. I had been suffering the disease of Rheumatoid Arthritis for a year. So crippling at times I could not move.  The pain and fatigue it brought with it laying me low of spirit as well.
Fierce Reaction
As my soul rose up with indignation against God's rebuke of wimpy prayers, I heard a distinct crack in my shoulder. God was putting it back into order. Then I knew we were working together against this affliction despite my feeble praying.
Yes, I still felt discomfort but not the level of pain before.  After a while I fell into a peaceful sleep. Waking four hours later, something had shifted within me. 
Ups and Downs
Despite this affliction in 2017, I published two books, travelled to Kenya and Uganda teaching and preaching and lectured in Solomon Islands. With each commitment, local or overseas, the Lord rose me up. Then I was laid low again. My energy level disappointing. My motivation ran its own hilly course. Medication helped to some degree but my hair fell out in handfuls as a result.
Assertive prayers
Towards the end of the year, I kept reflecting on the powerful prayers of the Solomon Islander bible college students for their Island people (see photo below).  They demonstrated their knowledge of the power of God to hear assertive prayers. I had gone to teach the truth of God’s Word but come away with the knowledge they believed God heard their bold prayers to heal their nation and bring transformation.
                                                        
            
And God reminded me of Jabez’s prayer.
1 Chronicles 4:10, ‘ Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, ”Oh that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm, that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.’
I repented of wimpy prayers and asking God to do what he had already made available to me - his power to heal, to rise up and overcome this physical hurdle.    
Has the stiffness all gone and pain disappeared? No, but I am different. The Holy Spirit within is moving and working, bringing joints and marrow back into order. My gift of faith has risen up once again. Bold prayers are producing personal transformation.

False humility
I had let my confidence slip. I became my own worst enemy by wrong thinking - this is my lot - this is my thorn in the flesh. False humility believed the lies. 

Living the Truth
In Matthew 6 Jesus told his disciples to pray for his kingdom to come. In Exodus 33:18, Moses asked God to show him his glory. Paul was bold enough to ask for the greatness of God’s power in Ephesians 1:19. Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to ask big prayers in confidence, not demanding but in faith. These examples leave no room for wimpy prayers.
 





Warrior Bride
I believed God could heal. I had already experienced this emotionally. I believed everything I wrote in a chapter in my book, Warrior Bride: Building Women of Strength about healing. But it was not until I had to live it myself that faith rose to bring me onto a level where I became a Warrior Bride myself concerning physical healing. 
What is holding you back? Are you praying wimpy prayers out of false humility?  In what area of your life have you let your confidence in God slip?

About Rusty A. Lang

 Marlene Anne Morphew/Rusty A. Lang – healed from childhood abuse, schooled in brokenness, writing is in her DNA. Discover her testimony in her autobiography, Good Things Take Time: Metamorphosis of a Damaged Soul. Explore her other non-fiction publications on her website rustyalang.com. Her international ministry takes her away from her writing desk throughout the year but her heart home is still Australia with her husband. See Facebook.