Friday, June 22, 2018

Devotion: The Reckless Love of God

By Lorraine Goulton | @ICFWriters


                                                      The Reckless Love of God


As a  wife and  a  32 year old Mum of 4 little daughters, I found myself searching for "I- don't- really- know- who". I had made- what I call- a step towards God at the age of 15 but thought I knew better. Like a prodigal daughter, I went off and did my own thing for several years.


 While I was busy avoiding God, He had a plan to love me back to Himself. In fact, He had had that idea for many years.

                                                   
In the intervening years between 15 and 32, I  made  a spectacular mess of my life. At 32, another opportunity  to allow myself to receive the ( reckless) love that God offers to all of us, arose. The truth is, He sends us invitations every day. Trouble is; a lot of people think that aren't worthy to open the invite.

When you looked at the facts, I was a risk to love. I had turned my back on Him for many years; I was doing things that His Word said I should not do and living life the way I wanted to.

 In choosing to love me, God would be risking the fact that I may never reciprocate His love.




I had to get forgiveness first as it was guilt, shame and brokeness that led me to His door. I  theorised in my mind that if I was forgiven, that I could possibly be loved. However, that  is not how it works in the Kingdom of God.

                                    He loves us first!!! 

It took me a long time to get my head and my heart around this concept. Except its NOT a concept!! Its a fact!


Ephesians 2 verse 4 But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, Verse 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved. 

John 3 verse 16: For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.


God does not  expect us to get cleaned up first- before He will love us and accept us. NO!! He sent His son Jesus to the cross so that  our sins and transgressions would be covered by His Blood as God desperately wants fellowship with us. Why?? Because He is our Creator. However, He did give us all a free will and its in the area of our will where we decide if we will accept what Jesus did for us and reciprocate His love. Either way, God will love us with that Reckless love.

           



Who else CAN love us with a reckless love? Who else knows all about us and loves us anyway forever???  Who else can forgive our sins and be mercifully good to us. We don't get what we do deserve!!

           

This is my story and  the story of millions of people who worked it out that we are loved with an ever lasting love that is absolutely  reckless in its nature.  He came after me; the lost sheep  and He can come after you too.Psalm 13 verse 5: But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord for he has been good to me.







Recently I fell in love with the words of the song the Reckless love of God - I pray you take a few minutes to watch this song and let the words minister to you. 





Lorraine Goulton is unashamadly and recklessly loved by God. She lives in Masterton, New Zealand. Mother to 4 adult daughters, married to Colin and grandmother of 13.
When she isn't working as a Registered Nurse in the Wairarapa Community, she likes spending time with family and writing.
Lorraine can be found on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Adventures of the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne

by Donna Fletcher Crow @donnafletchercr                                                                                   
I am delighted to have as my guest today the award-winning English children's author Anne Booth to tell us about her new book. I was immediately attracted to this book because of it's wonderful setting. Lindisfarne is one of my favorite places in the world, one I have enjoyed visiting as a pilgrim and as research for A Very Private Grave, the first of my Monastery Murders.
Now, here's Anne to tell us about herself, her new book and her time on Lindisfarne:


My name is Anne Booth and I am a Christian wife and mother of four.  My first published children’s book came out in 2014, a book for 9-12 year olds called Girl with a White Dog, which went on to be shortlisted for The Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, The Little Rebels Award and nominated for The Carnegie.


Since 2014 I have had 4 picture books, 4 books for 5-8 year olds, one book for 7-9 year olds and 3 books for 9-12 year olds published, and I have a definite further 4 picture books, 5 books for 7-9 year olds and 1 book for 5-8 year olds being published in the next two years, so I feel very blessed. It feels like when you are waiting at a bus stop for ages and then lots turn up at once!


Across the Divide, which has just been published, is my first book for 9-12 year olds which specifically has praying Christian characters in it and so it is appropriate it is mostly set on Lindisfarne or Holy Island, off the coast of North East England, which is so important for the history of Christianity.

I wanted to write a mainstream children’s book where modern children who pray could find themselves, but also where modern children who know little or nothing about religion, and maybe fear it, could learn to understand a little more about Christian spirituality and how it has motivated people in the past and still does in the present. This book is about respecting other’s opinions and decisions, and in particular those who choose Pacifism and those who choose to join the army.

The cover of my book references the fact that Lindisfarne is an island, cut off from the mainland by the tides.


I visited on my own as part of a research trip for the book last year, and took this photo in the taxi as we started across the causeway. In my book I have Olivia, the narrator, driving along the causeway with her dad, and remembering Moses parting the Red Sea.

If you are lucky enough to be staying on the island, there is a particular enchantment to being there when the last visitors have gone and the tide has come in and you can no longer drive along the road. It is so easy to imagine Lindisfarne in the past, and that you are watching and hearing the same sea birds hovering over the same sea that the first monks and later the Vikings knew. There is a timeless quality to the island, and it has been described as a ‘thin’ place, a place where heaven and earth are close.

I first visited Lindisfarne on a day trip with friends about thirty years ago, but since then have spent many holidays staying with my husband and four children and two dogs, for a week at a time,  in a house there, and have made more day trips there whenever we are in the area. I can’t be near Lindisfarne and not visit it! You can’t see the ruins of the Abbey, now maintained by English Heritage, and not marvel at how ancient it is and how it was so important to the spread of Christianity in our islands. It was a centre of learning for Christian medieval Europe, the Celtic monks creating The Lindisfarne Gospels and making Lindisfarne a centre of learning and pilgrimage.  People still go on pilgrimage to Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, now.



It is a place of saints, amongst them the Irish Saint Aidan, known as ‘the apostle of England’.


I love the bird life and nature, and there are legends in particular about St. Cuthbert and the otters and the eider duck.


When I was there researching my book I went on a wonderful walk around the island organised by Natural England, and in Across The Divide’ I mention some of  the many birds that were pointed out to me pointed that day, which you can read about here.

Central to the book is Lindisfarne Castle, originally built in Tudor times as a garrison. It fell into disrepair, and was bought by the American editor of ‘Country Life’ Edward Hudson at the beginning of the twentieth century. He employed the famous Edwardian architect Edwin Lutyens and the garden designer Gertrude Jekyll. The sheltered, walled garden is separate from the castle but the castle can be seen from it, and it from the castle, and Olivia my heroine visits it in the book.

The castle was made it into a wonderful place for many famous Edwardian friends to come and visit, including the cellist Madame Suggia and a Royal visit. The son of Hudson’s friends, a boy called Billy Congreve,  came to recover from diphtheria,  and loved the island so much Edward Hudson decide to leave the castle to him. Billy later grew up and fought and sadly died, in the First World War. The castle is now owned by the National Trust, and when I visited it I saw how they had laid out the rooms the way they looked at the time of Edward Hudson. It is now closed for restoration, but there are plans it will re-open this summer. I can’t wait to visit again!






You can see more of Anne's books here.

Posted by Donna Fletcher Crow. You can see more about her books and pictures from her research trips here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The Kremlin Conspiracy by Joel Rosenberg

By Cindy Williams | @nutritionchic 



 For the past sixteen years Joel Rosenberg has written thrillers about worst-case scenarios in the Middle East. Although fiction, according to one USA politician they are ‘way too close to reality.’ It's no surprise: in each of his books, Rosenberg’s acknowledgements read like a who’s who of high ranking politicians and CIA operatives.

His latest novel, The Kremlin Conspiracy, shifts focus to Russia – and another chilling political possibility.


 Russia’s president is determined to restore his country to its former glory and he will stop at nothing to do so. Oleg Kraskin is his son-in-law and most trusted aide. When he discovers the true intentions of the president he has to decide where his loyalty lies.

 His path crosses with Marcus Ryder, a former marine and Secret Service agent, who is struggling with grief and the age-old question: ‘How can God let this happen?’

The story does not labor the point, or clearly resolve it. It sparingly scatters references to Marcus’s Christian faith, seeds that a non-believer can overlook amidst the action, yet seeds that the Holy Spirit can use to prompt a reader to consider his or her faith.

 At one stage Marcus considers Dietrich Bonhoffer:

When Hitler outlawed the preaching of the gospel and the teaching of the Bible and moved to take over the state church, Bonhoffer first started an underground seminary, training young men to remain faithful to the teachings of Jesus instead of selling out to the Nazis. In the end, however, after much prayer and study, Bonhoffer joined a conspiracy to assassinate the fuhrer to prevent him from destroying the Germany he loved. Was something similar needed now? 

 The Kremlin Conspiracy is a politically astute, action packed, clean read. My teenage son loves them and wishes I would write stories like this! I think I will leave it to Rosenberg who does a fantastic job of placing faith filled yet flawed characters in fearfully real scenarios.


 About Cindy Williams 

With degrees in Nutrition, Public Health and Communication Cindy has worked for many years as a dietitian for sports teams, food industry, media, and as a nutrition writer and speaker.

Her first novel, The Pounamu Prophecy, was short listed for the 2016 Caleb Prize. She writes a blog - www.nutritionchic.com - stories of health, history, food and faraway places.

Cindy grew up in a culturally rich part of New Zealand, singing the songs and hearing the stories of Maori. She lives in Sydney, writing stories of flawed women who battle injustice... and sometimes find romance.


Monday, June 18, 2018

International Christian Fiction - New Releases | June 2018



The Flame Ignites (An Elizabeth and Richard Literary Suspense Book 1) by Donna Fletcher Crow


October 1984, the New England hillsides are ablaze with redgold autumn. Elizabeth is beginning her academic career and recently widowed Richard is stuck in the family business. They should be able to help each other but their meeting strikes sparks and raises old ghosts, possibly even the ghost of Richard's dead wife. When Elizabeth finds an academic coup within her grasp for her thesis on the beloved American novelist Elswyth Thane, Richard stubbornly throws up barriers, but why? Rudyard Kipling, William Beebe, Charles Lindberg, Edna Ferber and a host of celebrities from an age past fill the pages of Elswyth Thane’s letters, but where is Elizabeth to find clues to the mystery haunting Richard?
A nostalgic return to an earlier, now-vanished time, The Flame Ignites charmingly evokes a long-distance relationship between a young woman just testing her wings and a celebrated American novelist. But what about the smoldering relationship between Elizabeth and Richard?

Available at Amazon.com



Affinity by Dianne J. Wilson


Kai was born with the ability to see brokenness and to fix it. But when a freak accident leaves him trapped in the spiritual realm, he discovers a sinister side to being gifted-- much darker than he'd ever imagined. With Affinity Recruiters hunting him down, Kai has to learn how to stay alive, use his gift to save his friends and stop the flood of evil threatening the world. Can he do it before time runs out?

Available at Amazon.com




Dolce Vita: Sweet Life (A Tuscan Legacy Book 8) by Autumn Macarthur


La dolce vita, a sweeter life of love, awaits Rachel. But can she accept it?

Rachel Golding loves her uncomplicated life in Wales. Teaching art, a close-knit group of friends, and a strong and loving bond with her mother. But the trip to Italy to meet her Italian grandmother for the first time stirs unwelcome emotions — reluctance to forgive Nonna for a lifetime of rejection, and longing to know more about the father who died before her birth. Between her cousin’s accusation she sent a series of mysterious unsigned paintings to get revenge on the family, her mother’s wedding, and her realization she feels way more than she should for her best friend Jonathan, Rachel’s carefully planned life is spiraling out of control.

Always ready for adventure, especially with the woman he loves, Jonathan Davies gladly accompanies Rach on an impulsive return journey to Tuscany. Okay, so he also hopes the time together might give him the chance to tell her how he really feels. But now she needs his friendship and support more than ever, revealing his love is a risk he dare not take. Not without some sign she wants more. A sign she may never give.

In the haze of a sunflower summer, can Rachel learn to surrender her hurts and fears to God and so embrace the life He intends for her? La dolce vita, a sweeter life of love.

Note to readers: This book uses British English spelling and grammar.

Available at Amazon.com



La Risposta: The Answer (A Tuscan Legacy Book 9) by Autumn Macarthur


One marriage ends, as another begins. Or can faith and forgiveness save Peppe and Teresa's life together?

When the harvest celebrations and a family wedding bring the eight cousins back to the the villa at summer's end, along with their new beloveds, the final secrets are revealed, along with the solution to the puzzle of the unsigned paintings.

But can these secrets be forgiven, healing old wounds and mending broken hearts, or will the mistakes of the past be repeated?

The future of a marriage about to crumble depends on the answer!

This nine-book Christian romance series from seven of your favorite authors releases weekly from April 2018. La Risposta (this book) is an entire romance in itself, as well as completing the series.

Available at Amazon.com



The Road to Magnolia Glen (A Natchez Trace Novel) by Pam Hillman


1792, Natchez Trace, MS

Bitter since his eldest brother abandoned their family in Ireland, Quinn O’Shea travels to Natchez, Mississippi, ready to shuck the weight of his duty and set off on an adventure of his own. It’s time Connor, as head of the family, took responsibility for their younger siblings. While aboard ship, a run-in with three Irish sisters lands Quinn in the role of reluctant savior. Though it may delay his plans, he cannot abandon the Young sisters, especially the tenacious yet kind Kiera.

Upon arriving in the colonies, Kiera Young prepares to meet her intended and begin her new life. But she soon discovers the marriage her brother-in-law arranged was never meant to be, and a far more sinister deal was negotiated for her and her sisters.

Quinn offers to escort his charges safely to Breeze Hill Plantation and his brother’s care, fully intending to seek his freedom elsewhere. But the longer he remains, the greater his feelings toward Kiera grow and the more he comes to realize true freedom might be found in sacrifice.

Available at Amazon.com



A Defense of Honor (Haven Manor Book #1) by Kristi Ann Hunter


When Katherine "Kit" FitzGilbert turned her back on London society more than a decade ago, she determined never to set foot in a ballroom again. But when business takes her to London and she's forced to run for her life, she stumbles upon not only a glamorous ballroom but also Graham, Lord Wharton. What should have been a chance encounter becomes much more as Graham embarks on a search for his friend's missing sister and is convinced Kit knows more about the girl than she's telling.

After meeting Graham, Kit finds herself wishing things could have been different for the first time in her life, but what she wants can't matter. Long ago, she dedicated herself to helping women escape the same scorn that drove her from London and raising the innocent children caught in the crossfire. And as much as she desperately wishes to tell Graham everything, revealing the truth isn't worth putting him and everyone she loves in danger.

Available at Amazon.com

Read Iola Goulton's review on our blog: Bookish Tuesday | A Defence of Honor by Kristi Ann Hunter



Song of Leira (The Songkeeper Chronicles Book 3) by Gillian Bronte Adams


The song bids her rise to battle

Reeling from her disastrous foray into the Pit, Birdie, the young Songkeeper, retreats into the mountains. But in the war-torn north, kneeling on bloodstained battlefields to sing the souls of the dying to rest, her resolve to accept her calling is strengthened. Such evil cannot go unchallenged.

Torn between oaths to protect the Underground runners and rescue his friend from the slave camps, Ky Huntyr enlists Birdie’s aid. Their mission to free the captives unravels the horrifying thread connecting the legendary spring, Artair’s sword, and the slave camps. But the Takhran’s schemes are already in motion. Powerful singers have arisen to lead his army—singers who can shake the earth and master the sea—and monsters rampage across the land.

As Leira falters on the verge of defeat, the Song bids her rise to battle, and the Songkeeper must answer.

Available at Amazon.com

Friday, June 15, 2018

Best of the ICFW Archives ~ Devotion: Watch the Clouds!

By Ray Hawkins | @ICFWriters



I enjoy watching the clouds as they float or whiz across the skies. They can never be the same, always changing, always appealing. Within the bible clouds tell some important truths.

They surround the very presence of God. In Exodus 19 is the account of the Lord calling the Nation of Israel before Mt.Sinai. It is an awesome sight with lightning, thunder and thick cloud. Was this to create a sense of awe in the Nation? Was it also a way of protecting the Nation from the holiness of God? To be in His presence unprotected from His holiness would be to self-destruct.

Read more at the following link:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Making of an Audiobook: Behind the Scenes with Narrator Maryann Carlson

By Patricia Beal | @bealpat


Hi! I’m thrilled to introduce you to Maryann Carlson, the narrator of my debut novel, A Season to Dance. She did an amazing job and is here today to share her experience with us. Welcome, Maryann 😊




If you’re a fan of audiobooks or an author thinking about turning a book into an audiobook, you may wonder what happens behind the scenes. Or maybe you’re a reader considering buying an audiobook for the very first time. In that case, knowing how it’s created could help you to decide.

Whatever brings you to this post, I hope you enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at how the magic happens from a narrator’s perspective.

Here’s how A Season to Dance became an audiobook.


Producing A Season to Dance was an adventure that Patricia and I took together with the goal of taking the listener on a wonderful journey. Recording an audiobook involves specialized skills. There’s a lot more to it than simply reading the book.

Book prep.


Before I started recording, I needed to prep the book. What does that mean? I sat in a comfy chair with my notebook beside me and read the whole book.

As I read, I created a character list and wrote down my observations of Ana, Claus, Peter, Jakob, Brian, Lorie, and all the wonderful characters. Things like:

What makes each character tick?
What are their needs and struggles?
How do they fit into the plot?
What’s their reason for being?
What’s going on for them in each scene and what is the relationship between each of them?

I also made a list of all the pronunciations that I needed to look up:

Blumenstraße
Hessisches Staatstheater
Les Sylphides
Ich liebe dich
And ballet terms like bourrée, pas de deux, and the ever so challenging “Pa, papa, papa, papa, parararapa…” and “Ta, dada dada dada dada dada dada dada, pa.” (That’s a story within itself!)

Then I made audio files for each character to reference how I was going to voice them.

Ready to enter the booth and take the listener to Ana’s world.


The booth is the recording studio. My studio is a small, enclosed, and sound-treated room with a professional microphone, a monitor screen to read the manuscript, plenty of water, and a nearby Chapstick.

Outside of the booth is a mixer and a computer with my favorite DAW installed (that's the audio editing software).


How does my recording day start?

First, I drink four glasses of water. Throughout the recording day I drink twelve to fourteen glasses of water. Why?

The microphone picks up all sorts of noises that our mouths naturally make, especially when the mouth is dry. Those noises need to be edited from the recording so it's best to minimize them on the front end.

Then I need to do a physical warm up. There are specific stretches that help support the vocal cords, so my voice will have the richness and flexibility it needs for the performance of all the different characters. Especially when Ana and Claus get into a heated exchange! Then I do vocal exercises and some cardio. Now I’m ready to join Ana on her many adventures. What an amazing world that is.

So I step into my private booth. It's just me, the book, and the microphone. In the intimacy of the booth, I get to become each one of the characters. What they’re feeling, what they’re thinking, and how they’re reacting to each other within the context of the rich and wonderful plot. I danced in Romeo and Juliet. I traveled to Prague, to Germany, and to Atlanta, Georgia. I walked through Callaway Gardens and saw the world through Ana's eyes, Claus's eyes, and Peter’s eyes. I was a mom, a dad, a stranger that Ana meets along the way, and much more.

The same way that Patricia wrote A Season to Dance to serve her readers, I performed each of these characters and told their stories with the listener in mind.

One hour of finished audio usually takes about two hours to record because I may need to do pick-ups along the way, which are retakes for things like a mispronounced word.

Then I leave the studio and the privacy of Ana's world, and it's time to edit the audio.

So how long does it take and what happens after I record the audio?


Editing takes the most time in the creation of an audiobook. It can take several hours to edit one hour of finished audio. And if I find additional mistakes, I need to record additional retakes.

When I record the original audio, I make note of the time of day it was recorded. Why? The sound of our voice changes throughout the day. When I do any needed retakes, I aim to record around the same time of the day for accuracy and consistency.

In addition to retakes, the audio file is edited for timing, pacing, and those pesky mouth noises.

Then the audio needs to be mastered. I won't bore you with the technical details of all that 😊

The entire process can take from two to four months, depending on the length and complexity of the book and the number of projects a narrator is working on at any given time.

When the audiobook is completed, a retail sample is created, it goes out for final approval and then it's ready for distribution.

Be sure to check out the sample audio of A Season to Dance.




I took this adventure into Ana's world with Patricia every step of the way. We had a wonderful working relationship that made the book a joy to narrate and produce. I hope that joy translates to the listeners’ experience of the audiobook.

As an author, you may be asking yourself:

“My book has been out for several years. Isn’t it too late to turn it into an audiobook?”


It’s never too late to create an audiobook. Ultimately the book is written to serve the reader. You want to give your reader the option that suits them best. Some people want paperbacks or hardcovers. Some people prefer Kindle. Others want audiobooks.

It also gives you another opportunity to re-launch your book and introduce it to new readers/listeners. So go ahead and create your audiobook!

If you would like more information on creating your audiobook, you can contact me through my website www.maryanncarlson.com.

***************

Patricia here :) I hope you enjoyed the post. Isn’t Maryann awesome? We enjoyed our process and the audiobook so much that we decided we have to go to the Met together one day to watch the American Ballet Theatre. 
#bucketlist



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

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wandering Wednesday Rudyard Kipling in America

by Donna Fletcher Crow @donnafletchercr

One of the most things I enjoy most about writing my Elizabeth and Richard literary suspense series is exploring the lives, works and homes of the literary figures that serve as background to my literature professor sleuths’ adventures.


Rudyard Kipling is among the literary greats Elizabeth and Richard explore in my recent release The Flame Ignites. This is the first book in the series and tells of their stormy first meeting in a blazing redgold autumn in New England.

Elizabeth is researching her PhD thesis on the beloved American novelist Elswyth Thane who knew Kipling well years after he had abandoned his Vermont home and gone back to England.

But Kipling’s home Naulakha is still there, riding like “a ship a-sail on a hillside,” as Kipling himself said.


The property belonged to the Balestier family, brothers of Kipling’s wife Caroline, and one of the brothers served as Kipling’s literary agent for a while.  Kipling’s time in America was very productive. He wrote The Jungle Book, The Second Jungle Book, most of the stories in The Day’s Work, and Captains Courageous at Naulakha. I like to think that the view from his study aided his creativity.


Unfortunately, the Kiplings left after only four years, due to a family squabble over the use of some of the land. They returned to America about three years later, but not to Naulakha. Perhaps they had it in mind to return to their home, but Kipling and their older daughter, Josephine, got terribly sick on the crossing. Josephine died, so they sold the house and the family returned to England.



Donna Fletcher Crow is passionate about English history and loves telling the stories of the men and women who have shaped the world we live in. She is the author of some 50 books including the award-winning Arthurian epic Glastonbury, The Novel of Christian England. She currently authors three mystery series: Lord Danvers Investigates, The Monastery Murders, and The Elizabeth and Richard Literary Suspense.
Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 14 grandchildren. She loves gardening and reading. Research is one of her favorite parts of writing. She tries never to set a book in a place she hasn’t visited. You can see pictures from her garden and research trips on her website and follow her on Facebook at Donna Fletcher Crow, Novelist of British History.