Friday, November 21, 2014

DEVOTION: To the Ends of the Earth ~ by Judith Robl

Focus verses: Acts 10:1-11:18

The disciples were all Jews. And until now, the gospel had been preached in the synagogues, reaching more Jews. It was generally thought that this new religion was a sect of Judaism.

In this passage, however, we see that this man named Cornelius – who was not Jewish – had been selected by God to be a convert to this new faith. Cornelius was righteous, much as Job was righteous. He did all the right things and prayed to God. He simply wasn’t a Jew. But he was a son of Adam.

We also see that Peter had been selected to teach Cornelius. The Jewish dietary laws were very explicit. God had told them that certain things were clean or unclean for eating purposes. Peter, in his hunger, was shown a vision of many living creatures and told to kill and eat them. But he objected that he had never eaten anything unclean – ever. But God told him not to judge. That God can make anything clean.

Peter’s physical hunger seems to have been a metaphor for God’s hunger that all the world should know Him. God’s overriding desire is that all men should be saved. Jesus said that the disciples would be witnesses to Him throughout all the earth.

As the spiritual descendants of the disciples, we should be witnessing, too. We should be witnessing to the pagan, the atheist, the deluded, the deceived, the murderer, the rapist, the robber – the entire world.

Let me be very clear here. We do not convert. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. We merely inform. We tell what we know. God will do the rest.

Father, God,
Teach us more of You that we may tell all the world around us. Keep us open to the movement of Your Holy Spirit and rein in our tendency to prejudge.
In Jesus’ most precious name.

JUDITH ROBL is the founder of Reflected Light Ministries and speaks to women’s groups about prayer, forgiveness, and drawing closer to God. Trained as a secondary level English teacher, Judith has a heart for mentoring. She and her husband, Martin, have been married fifty years and have four children who have presented them with nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Her book, As Grandma Says, is a devotional gift book, incorporating her grandmother's adages with an appropriate scripture, a pertinent life lesson, and a word of prayer. Visit her at her website or on Facebook.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Just-for-fun Character Interview

I like to offer my readers a variety of bonus features for the books I write. Character interviews are always a part of the list. But this is the first time I've interviewed a four-legged character:

This is Rusty, from my November release from Love Inspired Suspense, Identity Withheld.

Sandra Orchard: Hi Rusty, thanks for joining us at ICFW today. Could you start by telling us about yourself? 

Rusty: I'm a really, really, really good dog. Don't pay no attention to what Tommy's dad, Jake, says. He's a firefighter and gets hot under the collar just because I chew a shoe or corner of the couch or something. His parents adopted me for their grandson Tommy who is the nicest boy on the face of the earth. I live with them, next door to Tommy and Jake. Tommy's mom died not long after he was born so Tommy's at his grandparents a lot when his dad's working, and we play and play and play. 

Sandra: I hear you took a shine to Kara Grant, too, when Jake brought her to his parents after her house burned down and she had nowhere to go. 

Rusty: Oh, yes, I loooooove Kara. She understands dogs. I could tell she was sad so I sat right down beside her and let her cry into my fur and she let me sleep on her bed with her. And she taught my person, Tommy, how to train me so his dad wouldn't get so mad at me. Of course, I didn't listen when she told me to stay before she went out for a jog, because I sensed she wasn't coming back and I knew that would make Tommy real sad. 

Sandra: So what did you do? 

Rusty: I chased after her. And it worked! She came back to the house to stay a while longer. But...she was more scared than ever, because bad guys are after her. 

Sandra: Did Jake have a new respect for you after that, too?

Rusty: More like he was jealous that Kara was always hugging me instead of him.<big, tongue-lolling grin> But after that, at least, he figured "I was smarter than I looked." Although...I think I look adorable. Don't you?

Sandra: Absolutely. Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?

Rusty: I don't want to give away the story, but everyone keeps calling Jake the hero, when I should get top billing. Kara fell in love with me the first time she laid eyes on me and... <glances from side to side and lowers his voice> if you read Identity Withheld, I'm sure you'll agree that it wouldn't be much of a story without me.

Oh, and the story ends at Christmastime. So it's a great read for this time of year, even if you don't think I'm adorable.

Your Turn: Any questions for Rusty? 

After exposing an illegal adoption ring, newly named “Kara Grant” is promised safety in Witness Protection. But someone has found her—and wants her dead. If only she could trust the handsome firefighter who catches her fleeing from a suspicious fire. Jake Steele seems to think she’s guilty of burning her own home. But how can she tell him who she really is and what she’s been through without bringing danger to the widowed father’s door? Yet with the criminals fast closing in, taking such a risk might be her only chance at survival. Because the price she’ll pay for her silence could be her life.

Sandra Orchard is a multi-award-winning author of mysteries and romantic suspense with Revell Publishing and Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense imprint. She is an active member of ACFW, RWA and TWG (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and writes full time…when not doting on her young grandchildren.  Learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features at or connect at

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Talking over the Teacups with Dorothy Stewart

Although I had met the delightful Dorothy Stewart online through the English Association of Christian Writers group to which we both belong, I didn’t get to know her charming vivacity until we met in person. (There are some things electronic media still can’t quite communicate.) When I spoke at the Felixstowe Book Festival last June Dorothy drove for well over an hour from her home in Halesworth to be there for the event.

It was a busy morning, but we did manage to share a quick cup of tea— a great start, but not nearly long enough to talk about all the things we would have loved to explore. Now we continue over the miles (7000 of them) and invite our International Christian Fiction Writers friends to listen in. So go get yourself a cup of tea and join our virtual tea party.

Donna:  Dorothy, I’m so excited to hear about your new book. Congratulations! Tell us about When the Boats Come Home.

Dorothy: The Great War (1914-18) had a devastating effect on families as well as on the men who fought. When the Boats Come Home tells the story of one family, the Rosses, a fishing family whose eldest son is killed, their daughter widowed. But behind those simple facts lie secrets that are tearing the family apart. Every year, the herring fishing fleet descended on Great Yarmouth for the autumn fishing, but 1921 was a bad year and the boats were kept in harbour, the men idling round the town. But (this is the factual bit!) Jock Troup, an evangelist from my home town of Wick, took the opportunity to preach to these men one evening in the Market Square – and God sent revival. The book follows how this affects the Rosses, how God can rebuild and restore. There’s pain as the secrets have to come out but there is a happy ending – oh and romance too!

Donna: That sounds great. I love historical fiction. What piqued your interest in the topic?

Dorothy: I’m a lay preacher serving a group of nine churches. Kind folks in the congregations sometimes invite me to lunch after the service. One Sunday, I was relaxing over coffee with my host while my hostess was busy in the kitchen. When he heard I came from the small town of Wick in the far north-east of Scotland, he said ‘You’ll know all about the Fishermen’s Revival at Great Yarmouth?’ I had to admit I had no idea so he told me how, in the autumn of 1921, a great revival spread through the fishing towns of the East Coast. I always take Monday off as my ‘Sabbath’ when I’ve had a busy Sunday so I had time to take a look at the internet – and was deeply moved by the story. Especially when I discovered that the Wick fishermen brought their new-found faith back home and built a mission hall near the harbour – where I came to faith forty years later! I knew then this was a story I had to tell – but in fiction. And that’s how it began.

Donna:  How wonderful that this turned out to be such a personal story for you! Is this your first novel?

Dorothy:  It’s my first published novel – but I had another ten under the bed! Apprentice pieces, I think you could call them! I’ve had ten other books published – one children’s book (It’s Hard to Hurry When You’re a Snail) and nine non-fiction, mainly prayers and meditations.

Donna: Oh, yes. I always thought of all those “under my bed” as paying my dues. What launch events are you doing for When the Boats Come Home?

Dorothy: This is the first – thank you, Donna! I’ve got interviews set up with local radio, a tea party at my local Christian bookshop, and bigger events at the two wonderful specialist museums in Wick and Great Yarmouth. Everything’s happening very quickly but I love to give talks and interviews so I’m really looking forward to it all.

Donna: What an honour that ICFW is your maiden voyage! And what’s next in your writing agenda?

Dorothy: I’ve taken advantage of NaNoWriMo to get the next one (or maybe it’s a trilogy!) underway. Because I won’t work Sundays, I’ve been doing 2,000 words a day six days a week. Hard work but enormous fun! The new one is also a Christian historical, weaving the stories of four families – starting again in my home town in Scotland, but moving out to the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898, ranching in Manitoba, the high life in San Francisco and Buenos Aires – and that’s only the first half of the first book! There’s romance, adventure, a feisty heroine – and a happy-ever-after.

Donna: Oh, good. I hope all our Canadian readers caught that. We’ll definitely want to hear more when that book is out. Since we invited the ICFW community to listen in to our conversation, what else would you like to tell them about yourself?

Dorothy: I’m a Scot from the far north of Scotland and I’ve loved to write since I was a young child. My first job was as trainee reporter on my local paper, The John O’Groat Journal, where I learned the discipline of sitting down and writing. I was 18 when I came to the Lord and though my life has been full of ups and downs, He has never let me down – though I reckon I’ve let Him down more times than I care to remember! I worked in book publishing most of my life but am now enjoying seeing my early dream of being a published fiction writer come to pass.

Donna: And tell us more about your preaching.

Dorothy: That’s something I love. I love the study that goes into preparing a Sunday service. I love choosing hymns. And I love the actual delivery on a Sunday. It’s an enormous privilege to serve God’s people this way. I believe that the writing and the preaching are complementary parts of my ministry to nourish and strengthen God’s women in particular.

Donna:  What a busy lady! Thank you so much for taking time to have a cup of tea with us today, Dorothy.  Where can our friends find you and When the Boats Come Home on the web?

Dorothy: When the Boats Come Home will be available around December 12th as a paperback as well as Kindle and other e-formats. My publisher, Zaccmedia, tell me it will be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble among other outlets. They also have a web page for direct purchases. And I blog at

Donna Fletcher Crow's newest release is A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary, book #4 in her Monastery Murders series.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Interview with Catherine West

Cathy is a friend to many of us at ICFW. Having first met Cathy via the ACFW Beyond Borders group I was fortunate to meet her at the Conference in Dallas two years ago which was a treat. We’ve stayed in contact ever since.

Cathy resides in Bermuda, which I’ve always found fascinating for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s a tax haven (hey, I'm a finance guy by trade!) and secondly some of my favourite Aussie tennis players of yesteryear have called it home for a few seasons of their careers.

Cathy’s writing journey is one that many of us can relate to. But in recent months Cathy’s made some significant changes that I thought would be of interest to the ICFW community.

Cathy was kind enough to respond to some questions I posed her and so without further ado, please give Cathy a very special ICFW welcome.

ICFW: Firstly, tell us a little about your writing journey to date.

CW: Well, I began writing seriously with the goal of publication quite a few years ago! Once my kids were in school I had more time to devote to the task. After I was offered representation, then I really knuckled down and wrote pretty much full time. My first published novel was released in 2011, the second in 2012. 

ICFW: You've recently obtained the rights to your previously published novels and have re-released the first one: Yesterday's Tomorrow. What led you to make this decision? Could you tell us a little about the thought process you worked through regarding producing & marketing them yourself.

CW: Unfortunately sometimes things don’t always work out the way you plan. My agent and I made the decision to obtain my rights back early in 2014. The process usually takes about six months, so during that time I worked with a freelance editor, Mick Silva, had Dineen Miller design a brand new cover, and we’ve really tried to make the book even better the second time around. 

Going Indie was an exciting prospect, but there is lots involved. Fortunately I was able to work with my agency, Books & Such, who handled all the formatting and liaising with Amazon, so all I needed to worry about was the content of the book itself, which is an easy way to go for me. I have great respect for the authors who can do everything themselves. I think I’d be a little out of my depths!

ICFW: Okay, so tell us a little about "Yesterday's Tomorrow." It's set in Vietnam during the war? What led you to explore that?

CW: Yes. The story is about a female journalist who goes to Vietnam to cover the war and finish the story her late father started years ago. She meets a mysterious photographer whom she quickly decides might just hold the key to getting her the story of a lifetime.

I’ve always been fascinated by that time period. I read about the young female journalists who’d leave everything at home and travel over there to cover the war and I thought it might make for a great story. The characters began to come alive, and as I started to research the war, I realized there would be so much more to this story than I ever imagined. It sounds a little cliché, but it really was a life-changing experience for me.

ICFW: What are some of your future plans re: re-releasing others on your backlist and new material?

CW: I definitely have more books to share with my readers. There are some things in the works right now that I will hopefully be able to discuss in the near future, so I’m afraid I’ll have to get back to you on that one! J

ICFW: Narelle Atkins recently wrote a post about the exotic locations some of our novels are set in. I reckon Bermuda sounds pretty exotic. For those of us who know nothing about Bermuda, other than celebrities live there (including at one time two great Aussie tennis players Pat Rafter and Pat Cash) for tax purposes, tell us 2-3 interesting facts about the country.

CW: We’re small: 24 sq miles long and 6 wide. But I’ll say we have the most beautiful beaches in the world. Our climate is temperate and we don’t really have cold winters at all, which makes Bermuda an ideal location for sports fans. We’re also a tax haven and we’re fortunate to have many big re-insurance companies make their home base here.

We’re about an hour flight from New York, two from Boston and three from Toronto, so easy to get to! Come visit!

Love to visit, Cathy. One day. Even though there will be many of us in ICFW that will challenge you for the title of “most beautiful beaches in the world.”

Thanks for sharing with us and wishing you well as you continue your writing journey.

Cathy's Bio

Catherine West is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Her first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in 2011 and won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Catherine’s second novel, Hidden in the Heart, released in September 2012, was long listed in the 2012 INSPY’s and was a finalist in the 2013 Grace Awards.

When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. 

Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at

Where you can find Cathy on the Web

Amazon Buy Link for Yesterday’s Tomorrow - click here

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney, Australia. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

Monday, November 17, 2014


Writing is a solitary business for the most part, and for some of us, that suits just fine. To be able to work from home piecing words and ideas together is a dream job. But as a Christian writer, my world must be bigger than my balcony desk, because I’m part of a team.

In our society, people involved in similar pursuits are often in competition. They’re running a race, trying to stay ahead, to be superior and set above the others. I have read that the general writing industry is a dog-eat-dog business, and although I realize that’s a sweeping generalization, there is truth in it. As a Christian author, however, I realize it’s not about me. Any talent I have for the written word is a gift from the God who called me, to be used to honour him.
For Christian writers the entire landscape is different:
1.  We are called to write for the glory of God
2.  We serve him best as we work together
How do we make this happen in our individualistic society?

Over the years, I’ve entered writing contests to procure feedback from judges I trust and respect, and I’ve learned much. I’ve also been honoured to judge numerous writing contests, in which I not only helped the host organizations by giving my time, but I learned much from analyzing the writing of others. Definitely a case of mutual benefit.

Christian writers’ groups such as International Christian Fiction Writers have encouraged me through personal contacts, courses and writing opportunities, and I hope I have done the same for others.

Writing conferences are a highlight in the life of a solitary writer, a time when virtual connections become reality, when friendships are formed and the meaning of teamwork becomes ever more apparent.

We’re in this together, you and I. It’s not a competition. It’s not a look-out-for-number-one scenario. As Christian writers we are part of a team, working in tandem with each other. When we consider the grand scheme of things, we can do so with hearts full of gratitude to be included in this great work of writing for God’s glory. We may be solitary beings, but we’re part of a vast team whose Author spoke the world into being and who holds the future in his hands.

Happy writing, my sisters and brothers.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


Coming Up This Week


Janice Dick: Teamwork


Ian Acheson


Donna Fletcher Crow


Sandra Orchard

Friday Devotion

Judith Robl: To the Ends of the Earth


New Book Releases

Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, Her Tycoon Hero, will be a November 2014 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents.

Sandra Orchard’s romantic suspense set in Washington State, USA, Identity Withheld, will be a November 2014 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Sweetened with Honey, Book 3 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in November 2014.


Upcoming Book Releases

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Georgia, USA, Hidden Agenda, Book 3 in her Southern Crimes series, will be a January 2015 release from Revell.

Donna Fletcher Crow's murder mystery set in England, A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary, book 4 the Monastery Murders series, ebook only available now, print coming in January 2015.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Paris, France, Taken, will be a February 2015 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, Winning Over the Heiress, will be a February 2015 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Dandelions for Dinner, Book 4 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in spring 2015.

Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, Seaside Proposal, will be a May 2015 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents.

Sandra Orchard’s romantic mystery set in Niagara, Canada, Desperate Measures, Book 3 in her Port Aster’s Secrets series, will be a June 2015 release from Revell.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2015 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Friday, November 14, 2014

DEVOTION: Manna People ~ by Karen Rees

Imagine that your stomach is full, it's bedtime and you've just eaten the last of your food. Not a single crumb is left. There are no grocery stores around. You have no fruit trees, no garden vegetables, no fields of corn. There are only desolate wilderness and you. How well will you sleep?

The Israelites found themselves in this situation. God had brought them out of Egypt, with its choice meats and tasty leeks and onions, to the barren wilderness and said, “Go to sleep. I'll provide food in the morning.”

The first night many probably slept restlessly, afraid that the promised manna wouldn't appear. But when the pearly dawn arrived, there it was. God had kept his promise.

He continued this for forty years. Six nights out of every seven the Israelites went to bed with full stomachs, empty food sacks and the promise of manna in the morning. God purposely did this to keep the Israelites acutely aware of their dependence on him and of his faithful provision. Today God wants us to learn the same lessons.

One way we learn is through lack of wealth. In the Lord's prayer, Jesus didn't tell us to ask for big bank accounts. He told us to ask for “daily bread”. When our funds are limited, we have to rely on God. And, as we rely on him, we receive additional blessings. Jesus knew that wealthy people too often focus on their riches and forgot God. (Luke 12:13-21) Have we ever asked God to give us a smaller house and less expensive car than our neighbors?

Another way we learn is through trials. For forty years God used hardship to mold a group of complaining Israelite slaves into a faithful, obedient nation ready to march triumphantly into the Promised Land. Those that didn't learn left their bones in the wilderness.

Whether we want them or not, life brings trials. Our only choice is in how we respond. Will we learn something of value? Or will our suffering be wasted and our bones be left in the wilderness? Job problems, financial need, illness or personal heartaches are all opportunities to learn to trust God. As he gives us strength and comfort, brings a last-minute solution or encourages us to struggle on, our faith will grow.

If we choose to follow him, he will be with us in our wilderness. Our stomachs will be full, our food will be gone and we'll have the promise of manna in the morning. We'll learn to sleep well.

KAREN REES, with her second-generation missionary husband Benjamin, has served in Hong Kong since 1975. Besides her involvement in the mission work, Karen loves history, quilting and writing. They have two children, Matthew and Megan, and one grand-daughter, Hadessah.

Her historical fiction novel, The Ruby Ring, won a Finalist Award in the 2014 National Indie Excellence Awards in the Religious Fiction category. It can be purchased in paperback or eBook from and many other online bookstores.

Visit Karen on her author page on Facebook.
Watch her book trailer, The Ruby Ring Trailer.