Sunday, March 31, 2013

SUNDAY EDITION


Coming Up This Week

Monday

Marion Stroud: Mid-season sale

Tuesday

Jennifer Rogers Spinola

Wednesday

Sandra Orchard

Thursday

Tessa Stockton

Friday Devotion

Kathi Macias: Home is Where the Heart is

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

News

Lisa Harris has signed a three-book contract with Love Inspired Suspense. The first book will be set in Africa, the second in Paris, and the third in the Pacific Northwest USA.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Book Releases

P. A. Baines' science-fiction book, Alpha Revelation, is an April 2013 release from Splashdown Books.

Donna Fletcher Crow's Clerical mystery set in England, An Unholy Communion, Book 3 in The Monastery Murders series, is an April 2013 release from Monarch Books.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Upcoming Book Releases

Kathi Macias' historical set in the US, Last Chance for Justice, will be a May 2013 release from B and H Publishing Group.

Christine Lindsay's historical, Captured by Moonlight, Book 2 of the Twilight of the British Raj series and sequel to the multi-award winning Shadowed in Silk, will be released in eBook format in February 2013 and print in May 2013 from WhiteFire Publishing.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in the US, Stolen Identity, will be a June 2013 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Sandra Orchard's romantic suspense set in Canada, Deadly Devotion, will be a June 2013 release from Revell Publishing.

Jo-Anne Berthelsen's book set in England and Australia, The Inheritance, will be an August 2013 release from Even Before Publishing.

Sandra Orchard's book, Fatal Inheritance, will be an August 2013 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in the US, Dangerous Passage, Book 1 in the Southern Crimes series, will be a September 2013 release from Revell. 

Kathi Macias' historical set in the US, England and France, The Doctor’s Christmas Quilt, will be an October 2013 release from New Hope Publishers.

Donna Fletcher Crow's romantic suspense set in England, A Jane Austen Encounter, Book 3 in The Elizabeth and Richard Mysteries series, will be a 2013 release from Stonehouse Ink.

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

Friday, March 29, 2013

DEVOTION: A Double Portion ~ Jan Cline


Note from Shirley: On this special Friday, we take a look at one of the well-known figures of Old Testament times. Long before the physical birth, life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus, there was one man who was taken up to God in a whirlwind. What an incredible thing to witness. Before he went, he offered an amazing thing to his successor. Read about it in this devotional message by Jan Cline, and allow the Lord to speak into your heart this Easter time.


“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.”  2 Kings 2: 9

Elisha had been following Elijah around for some time. He had observed miracles and seen first hand the blessings of God on the life of this prophet. This follower knew Elijah had been promised by God he would be taken up to heaven in a whirlwind. He was the only prophet to be given an alternative to physical death.

As time for that big event approached, Elisha stuck as close as he could to his mentor, not wanting to miss anything. Elisha was to be Elijah’s successor as prophet, so Elijah decided to grant him a special request. I wonder if he was surprised at Elisha’s choice—a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.

Elijah had built a legacy of faith and favor from God, and Elisha wanted to inherit this blessing. He didn’t ask to be left with riches or possessions, he wanted the blessing of powerful service. A double portion, please! He hungered for the kind of life that would draw others to God, and he was ready to do it without the comforts of the world. He took his new mission seriously.

I wish I could say I was 100% sure I wouldn’t sneak in a small request for riches or fame if I were Elisha. Most of us are too fond of the world we live in, and the desires of our hearts are not always for the things of God. Guess what, God knows that. He’s aware we often operate below our potential and gives us grace. But He waits for us to ask for the blessing. He longs to hear the words from our heart that we are ready for a double portion of his Spirit, ready to spread the good news of Jesus.

Pastor Craig Lauterbach writes in his book, The Father Revealed, “As Christians, when we enter into an intimate knowledge or oneness of knowledge with the Father, then we will begin to comprehend and draw from his glory. The secret is not getting more glory, but releasing the glory that is already at our disposal.”

Are you ready for a double portion? Are you ready to release the glory God is waiting to share with you? Read, pray, listen, share. Stick close to God so you can succeed at the mission. If you enlarge the capacity of your heart and mind, God will fill them with a larger portion than you thought possible.

Let's Pray: Father, show me how to enter into oneness of knowledge with you. I pray You will help me be ready for the mission you have in store for me. Bring the harvest, Lord.

OVER TO YOU: What is preventing you from asking for a double portion?

Jan Cline is an author and speaker from the Pacific Northwest, USA. She is also founder and director of the Inland NW Christian Writers conference and leads a writers group in her area. You may learn more about her at www.jancline.net.

Author of A Heart Out of Hiding
Also available on Amazon



Thursday, March 28, 2013

Maundy Thursday in a Monastery


Today is Maundy Thursday, the day Christ celebrated The Last Supper with his disciples and thereby instituted the Eucharist for his followers through the ages to come.

In A DARKLY HIDDEN TRUTH, the second of my Monastery Murders, my heroine Felicity, who enjoys liturgical worship to the fullest, is ready to immerse herself in the full Holy Week experience at the Community of the Transfiguration where she studies in the theological college run by the monks.

Although Felicity’s focus on the worship is distracted her confused feelings for Father Antony and the mysterious behavior of their Russian Orthodox visitors she strives to keep the holiness of the day. After all, this was the beginning of the Triduum— the Great Three Days of Holy Week— the high point of the Christian year where the liturgy would reenact as closely as possible the way Christians had been celebrating Easter since the first century.

Felicity entered the silent, yet expectantly vibrating, church a few hours later determined to put behind her the tangled affairs of her mundane life. And when the Mass of the Lord’s Supper began with the Cantors in the organ loft singing Durufle’s Messe cum Jubilo and the Kyrie washed over her she felt so lifted out of herself she believed her own determination.

The foot washing came as a shock to her. Weeks ago she had been selected as one of the 12 to have their feet washed in an enactment of Christ washing his disciple’s feet on that long-ago night when he instituted the Last Supper. Most of the others had taken their place on the long bench between altar and choir before she remembered. She pulled off her shoes and socks and slipped forward as unobtrusively as possible, taking her place on the end of the bench. Sitting there with her head bowed, though, she realized she hadn’t been completely unobserved. The black-robed, bearded member of the Russian delegation sitting to her right looked at her with eyes that could have burned holes.

Then Father Anselm, an apron tied around his rotund form, knelt on the stone floor before her. She extended her leg and the Father Superior meticulously washed, wiped, and then kissed each offered bare foot. She had no idea it would be such a powerful experience. As chills shook her and she fought back tears she wanted to cry out, No, I’m not worthy.

Father Anselm, though quietly picked up his basin and towel an departed. As the cantors sang the final, echoing strains of "Ubi Caritas" — Where true charity and love are, there is God— she made her barefoot way back toward her seat over the cold stones of the side aisle.

Back in her seat she looked around for Antony. She knew he would be participating in the service, but she hadn’t spotted him yet. The hymn "O Thou Who at Thy Eucharist Didst Pray" had begun when she caught his eye as he stood with the other gold and white vested priests who would pray together for the Holy Spirit to descend upon their offering. "On the night he was betrayed— which is tonight. . ." the Eucharistic Prayer commenced.

After all had communed the procession to the garden tomb began. Servers draped a long, gold humeral veil over Father Anselm’s shoulders and, with the ends covering his hands he lifted the ciborium filled with the reserved host. Two thurifers, their thuribles wafting clouds of incense, and eight priests followed. Lights were extinguished as they processed in stately, measured tread down the choir. The faithful followed, all singing in dirge-like tones:

     Of the glorious body telling, O my tongue, its mysteries sing,
     And the blood, all price excelling, which the world’s eternal King,
     In a spotless womb once dwelling, shed for this world’s ransoming. . . .

In increasing darkness, Felicity followed with the others, down the curving stairs at the back of the nave to the crypt below where they knelt before the altar of repose, especially prepared for this moment. It was ablaze with candles and banked with white and gold flowers. Felicity knelt and attempted to pray, but like the disciples who followed Christ to Gethsemane, she found it hard to concentrate.

She made her way slowly back up the stairs. In a darkened, nearly bare church, a lone, solemn voice was reading Psalm 22: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me and are so far from me. . ." as monks and ordinands stripped the altar and the entire church of all its paraments, candles, crosses, holy pictures and sacred vessels. Even the carpets were rolled up and carried away.

The lights were extinguished one by one and all departed in darkness and silence. The tomb was prepared.

To read Felicity’s complete experience:
In the US: http://ning.it/HVFcBq
In the UK: http://ning.it/HVFQyS


Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 40 books, mostly novels of British history. The award-winning Glastonbury, A Novel of the Holy Grail, an epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. She is also the author of The Monastery Murders: A Very Private Grave, A Darkly Hidden Truth and An Unholy Communion as well as the Lord Danvers series of Victorian true-crime novels and the literary suspense series The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries. Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 11 grandchildren. She is an enthusiastic gardener.
To read more about all of Donna’s books and see pictures from her garden and research trips go to:
http://www.donnafletchercrow.com/ You can follow her on Facebook at:
http://ning.it/OHi0MY

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hope for the Heart

Hi! Lucy Morgan-Jones here. I am an author in progress. Or should that be an author with a book in progress?

For those who don't know me, I am a follower of Christ, passionate reader, and mum to four precocious children. I make my home in north central Victoria, Australia. I am a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Christian Writers Downunder, and Romance Writers of America, and am represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Agency.

You can typically find me enjoying a cuppa while I teach my children school, reading or critiquing, and lurking on facebook. I'd love to get to know you, either on my blog, or on facebook. So pull up a stump or feel free to drop me a line. There I hope to share what I've learned in my own journey to self worth, interesting research tidbits, or writing tips I find.

Today, I'd like to strike a more serious note and talk about a subject close to my heart: Self Worth, freedom from abuse, and God's word. Before you hit delete or move on-Wait! This could save someone's life, could bring clarity to a helpless situation, and is also helpful for characters that have a darker side to their backstory.

Please feel free to share this information, it has the power to change lives.

I am proof of that. In 2003 I was a teenage mum in an abusive relationship, with my life going nowhere fast. This counseling key started me on my journey to find healing from abuse, becoming aware fo my worth in God's eyes, and eventually getting out of that abusive relationship.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I'll keep it simple and share some information that I have permission to share from Hope for the Heart ministries.

Begin to BUILD BOUNDARIES


Begin a new way of thinking about yourself, about God, and about abuse. 
  • God did not save you so that you could be abused.
  • Abuse is a sin against God's creation.
  • You were not created to be abused.
"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--His good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2


Overcome fear of the unknown by trusting God for the future. 
     Memorize: 
"I sought the LORD, and he answered me; He delivered my from all my fears." Psalm 34:4

"The LORD Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31:8

"When I am afraid, I will trust in You." Psalm 56:3

"Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10


Understand the Biblical mandate to hold abusers accountable.
  • Confrontation is Biblical.
  • Confrontation can be used by God's Spirit for conviction.
  • Lack of confrontation enables abusers to continue abusing others.

 "Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out." Psalm 10:15

Notify others of your needs (supportive friends, relatives or other people).
  • They must believe you.
  • They must be trustworthy.
  • They must not divulge your location to your husband if you leave.
"Carry each others's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2


Develop God's perspective on submission.

  • Submission does not give license for abuse.
  • Biblical submission is not a response to be demanded, nor is it given out of fear but out of a heart that can safely trust the other.
  • Submission is a way of life designed by God for everyone.
"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Ephesians 5:21

Admit your anger and practice forgiveness.
  • Confirm the hurt.
  • Confess your anger.
  • Choose to heal.
"See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." Hebrews 12:15

Recognize your own codependent patterns of relating, and change the way you respond.
  • Don't respond fearfully, hiding the truth.
  • Don't think you can change him.
  • Don't take responsibility for his behaviour.
"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If i were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

Identity healthy boundaries for yourself, and commit to maintaining them.
  • Communicate your boundaries.
  • State what you will do if he crosses your boundaries.
  • Follow through when he does cross your boundaries. For example: The next time he abuses you, you will call the police... or he can no longer live at home... or you will leave with the children.
"A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again." Proverbs 19:19


Ensure your personal safety (and that of your children) immediately.

  • Have an action plan.
  • Know ahead of time where you will go and whom you will call. Have the necessary numbers easily accessible.
  • Involve your church. Know the person to contact for help ahead of time.
"I will lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8

See your identity as not in your role as wife, which can change, but as a precious child of God, which cannot change.
  • He chose you.
  • He adopted you.
  • He redeemed you.
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him." 1 John 3:1



~Words above are quoted from the Wife Abuse Counseling Key by June Hunt. Copyright 2001 HOPE FOR THE HEART~

Click here for a free download of an overview of that counseling key. Blessings!

Until next time:       trust steadily in God
           
                                                   hope unswervingly

                                                                         love extravagantly!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Using ToDoList for Writing


I am always on the lookout for something to help me stay organized while writing my novels, especially when it comes to the editing stage. I like to have an overview of each chapter so that I can gain a high-level view of the entire project. For me, this makes re/organization much easier.

One of my favourite tools in this category is a program called ToDoList. At first glance, it seems to be little more than a fancy tasklist program but it has some powerful features that make it perfect for staying on top of a manuscript. And, best of all, it's completely free.

I use Word for writing the actual manuscript, but there are times when I want a high-level overview of the plot--particularly when there are multiple threads. It is easy to get lost when the plot gets thick. With many characters existing in more than one timeline, it’s easy to forget who is doing what, where, and why. This is when I use ToDoList to stay organized.

At the very heart of the program is the Task window, which can be viewed as a tree (as in Windows Explorer) or as a flat list. I prefer to use the tree structure because it gives a nice visual overview of the book. Each task can be given a comment and tasks can be allocated properties useful for time-keeping. For example, you can specify a deadline for the project for each chapter and sub task. You can also allocate different icons, allowing you to see, at a glance, the content of each chapter or scene. For example, an action scene might have one icon, a romantic scene another, and a dramatic scene a different icon.

 Let’s suppose I want to start a new story. I start by creating a new Project. I then allocate a task for each chapter. Then I create a sub-task for each chapter scene. Finally, I create sub-sub-tasks for each important action or moment. So, the first couple of chapters of my new novel “Round Table” might look something like this:

Project: Round Table
- Chapter 1 - Opening scene (hook)
    Scene 1 - Bank robbery
        Moment 1 - Lancelot arrives at the bank
        Moment 2 - Lancelot robs the bank
        Moment 3 - Lancelot makes a getaway
- Chapter 2 - 1 year earlier .
    Scene 1 - Lancelot working in bank
        Moment 1 - Lancelot goes to lunch, returns to fetch coat
        Moment 2 - Lancelot sees money being transported
        Moment 3 - Lancelot notices lapse security
    Scene 2 - Lancelot at home - intro wife (Guinevere)
        Moment 1 - Lancelot talks to Guinevere
        Moment 2 - Guinevere distracted/bored
        Moment 3 - Lancelot mentions lapse security at bank
        Moment 4 - Guinevere jokingly suggests robbing the bank

In ToDoList, it would look something like this:

As you can see, the project is “Round Table” (this will also be the default file name). I have many tasks displayed as a tree. Each task has a brief description entered in the Comment window on the right with the first line of the comment displayed next to the task in the Tasklist. I have given a special icon for each chapter. The “lightning bolt” indicates action while the “people icon” shows an important social interaction.

In this way, I have an overview of my story. I can display every chapter, every scene, and every moment. Or, if I want a higher-level overview, I can collapse the sub-tasks. So, for example, I can display just the chapters with their icons and comments to tell me what each is chapter is about.

The amount of detail for each task is very customizable, which means you can have a relatively uncluttered screen. Each task can display up to thirty pieces of information, including start and end time, and percentage complete. As you finish each task, a tick in the Completed Status box changes the task font to strikethrough, giving a quick view of your progress.

The comment box can be in either Simple Text or Rich Text, and can hold a huge amount of data. In fact, it is possible to put your entire novel in the comments. As a test, I built a 1 million word novel using the comment box. The program had no problems managing that much text. Later, when it comes time to formatting your novel, you can export the comments to a file for cleaning up.

Here is a step by step guide to building a new project.

In the image below, we see the program without any tasklists or tasks. To start a new tasklist "My Novel", select File->New Tasklist from the menu, or simply type "My Novel" into the Project box below the menu and click the Save icon.


To add a new Task, click the green Plus icon. A new Task will appear with the title Task. Type a name for the Task (e.g. "Chapter 1") and hit Enter, or click the green Plus icon.


To add more tasks, click the green Plus icon. You can also do a copy/paste action. To create a subtask, select an existing task and click the small green Plus icon on the right. A subtask will appear below and to the right of the owning task.


To add text, just select a task, click in the Comments pane, and start typing. The default is Simple Text, but you can select Rich Text for more formatting options.


Re-arranging tasks is simple. The Delete button (or the red X icon) deletes a task or subtask. Use the Shift key to select multiple tasks. Us the Ctrl key with the direction keys to move tasks up and down or to change the level (task to subtask and vice versa). You can drag and drop tasks. Doing this can also change its level, depending on where you drop it.


To enter or change task-specific details such as Time Spent or Due Date, look below the Tasklist. If you alter something here, the details displayed to the left of the task are updated. To change how much of this information is displayed, right-click on the column title directly above the Task List and click on Select Columns. Clicking on Clear All will remove every column, leaving just the task names.


If you decide to write your entire novel inside ToDoList, you can export it to a variety of formats, including:
•   Web Page
•   Plain Text
•   Spreadsheet
•   FreeMind
•   GanttProject
•   iCalendar
•   MyLifeOrganized
•   Outline


Here is My Novel after export to Plain Text. It needs some formatting, but not too much.


If you want to give it a try, you can download ToDoList for free from AbstractSpoon http://www.abstractspoon.com/tdl_resources.html.

I suggest setting up a test project and getting accustomed to the program before you start using it for a novel. It can take a little bit of getting used to, especially with regard to moving tasks around. Always take regular backups, just in case.

Happy organizing!

Monday, March 25, 2013

They Cast WHO? When Movies Cast A Book Character Wrong

I've been thinking lately about making books into movies. Not because I have Hollywood knocking at my door, but because I've been thinking about what my heroine in my latest manuscript looks like. I'm totally not a visual person, so unlike some writers I don't story board my characters and have pictures of them on my wall. So I started thinking about my heroine and if my manuscript was actually a movie, who would fit the picture of her I have in my head.

Then I remembered P.S. I Love You and I got mad!

P.S. I Love You by Celia Ahern was one of the first romantic comedies that I ever read. The story is about Holly Kennedy, a recently bereaved widow, who is sent on some crazy adventures by her dead husband, during the year following his death.

I bonded with Holly. Don't ask me why. I was 22 years old. I had never been married. Never lost a loved one to illness. But I was convinced if Holly was real we would be great friends. Holly was funny and quirky and real and she would look just like Drew Barrymore. Blonde wavy hair, big smile, curvy figure, pretty but not in a supermodel kind of way.

And then they made the movie. And cast Hillary Swank.

HIllary Swank. Hillary Swank???? Now don't get me wrong, Hillary Swank is a brilliant actress, but she was not Holly. Not even close. All skinny and hard edges and short brunette hair. Wrong, wrong, all wrong.

I went to see the movie. Spent two hours of my life angry at the producers. Had they not read the book? How could they have gotten it so wrong? Not even did she not look anything like Holly, but her whole acting aura has this whole kind of depressed thing going on. Hillary Swank, brilliant though she may be, and romcom are just not meant to be. Not even casting Gerard Butler as her husband could get me out of my skunk. And don't even get me started on the plot changes.

On the upside, apparently Rotten Tomatoes agrees with me.

So let's chat. What is a favorite book of yours that has been turned into a movie where you thought they got something oh so wrong? Or oh so right? If your favorite book was made into a movie who, in your mind, would be the perfect actor or actress for the starring role?

When she's not trying to stop her toddler from destroying the house, Kara Isaac writes contemporary romance and is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Inc. This is not her. This is Rachel McAdams who she's decided she may deign to have her play her heroine when the inevitable happens and her manuscript is turned into a box office hit.

Kara can also be found on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Writer and on https://twitter.com/KaraIsaac

Sunday, March 24, 2013

SUNDAY EDITION


Coming Up This Week

Monday

Kara Isaac

Tuesday

Paul Baines

Wednesday

Lucy Morgan-Jones

Thursday

Donna Fletcher Crow: Maundy Thursday in a Monastery

Friday Devotion

Jan Cline: A Double Portion

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

News

Lisa Harris has signed a three-book contract with Love Inspired Suspense. The first book will be set in Africa, the second in Paris, and the third in the Pacific Northwest USA.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Book Releases

P. A. Baines' science-fiction book, Hanzet, is a March 2013 release from Written World Communication.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Upcoming Book Releases

P. A. Baines' science-fiction book, Alpha Revelation, will be an April 2013 release from Splashdown Books.

Donna Fletcher Crow's Clerical mystery set in England, An Unholy Communion, Book 3 in The Monastery Murders series, will be an April 2013 release from Monarch Books.

Kathi Macias' historical set in the US, Last Chance for Justice, will be a May 2013 release from B and H Publishing Group.

Christine Lindsay's historical, Captured by Moonlight, Book 2 of the Twilight of the British Raj series and sequel to the multi-award winning Shadowed in Silk, will be released in eBook format in February 2013 and print in May 2013 from WhiteFire Publishing.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in the US, Stolen Identity, will be a June 2013 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Sandra Orchard's romantic suspense set in Canada, Deadly Devotion, will be a June 2013 release from Revell Publishing.

Jo-Anne Berthelsen's book set in England and Australia, The Inheritance, will be an August 2013 release from Even Before Publishing.

Sandra Orchard's book, Fatal Inheritance, will be an August 2013 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in the US, Dangerous Passage, Book 1 in the Southern Crimes series, will be a September 2013 release from Revell. 

Kathi Macias' historical set in the US, England and France, The Doctor’s Christmas Quilt, will be an October 2013 release from New Hope Publishers.

Donna Fletcher Crow's romantic suspense set in England, A Jane Austen Encounter, Book 3 in The Elizabeth and Richard Mysteries series, will be a 2013 release from Stonehouse Ink.

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

Friday, March 22, 2013

The other day on the radio I heard a radio announcer talking about the traditions of Easter. Was he talking about symbols like the cross and the empty tomb? No instead he was talking about Easter bunnies, rabbits and signs of fertility. In other words, things that have been introduced for commercial reasons and are on the periphery of Easter as far as I am concerned.

Yet to many people all that Easter is about is a few days holiday, maybe a weekend away, the Easter bunny and chocolate eggs. I love chocolate as much as anyone, but admit by this time I am sick to death of eggs and rabbits dominating the shops. Even the humble hot cross bun has been lost any significance these days. It comes out months before the actual event, usually about January, and my guess is many people have no idea whatsoever why there is a cross on the buns.

Bunnies and eggs and all those other things are peripheral. They are not what make Easter. You can have all those things and it may be a celebration of some sort but it is not Easter. Easter is about Jesus and his death for us on the cross before being raised to life again having paid the price of sin. Too often though, Jesus is pushed aside.

So what can we do to bring Easter back to what it should be about? Here are a few suggestions. One church I know is having a purely chocolate night. On that night they are having a demonstration of chocolate goodies to make. These will include an empty tomb, a crown of thorns and all things that relate to the real Easter. There will also be a short talk which explains where each of these symbols fits in to the Easter story.  At the same time the gospel will be explained. Each item made on the night will have a small tract that explains the gospel message.

In our area we have an Easter Festival with stalls and crafts, a jumping castle, face painting etc. But along with those things, people from the local churches also have a stall where they hand out gospel portions and tracts and talk to people about Jesus.

Perhaps you might decide to make some hot cross buns for a friend or neighbour and include something that tells them what the cross signifies and that points them back to the bible story.

When you go to church, why not invite friends and family along to special Easter church services where they will hear the good news about Jesus?

Or you might choose to read the Easter story together as a family and pray for those you know who don’t know Jesus.
The Bible tells us that Jesus 'died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them, and was raised again,' 2 Corinthians 5:15. So what can you do this Easter to live for Him and to let His light shine?
I’ve given you a few ideas but I’d love to hear any other ideas of how we can put Jesus back in His rightful place as central to Easter.
 
 
Streets on a Map, was published by Ark House Press. Prior to that Dale has had seven children’s books and Kaleidoscope a collection of poetry published.
Along with her husband, Dale was for a time houseparent for a family of twelve boys. She has also written bible studies and Sunday school lessons. For several years she wrote about Christian living, marriage and home related topics for www.families.com. More information about Dale can be found at www.daleharcombe.com or on her Write and Read with Dale blog

Thursday, March 21, 2013

SCHMALTZ

As one Yiddish grandma said to another, "fancy-schmancy, I prefer plain!"

I have a horror of making my characters sound schmaltzy (overly sentimental).I think we all like to read a romance ending on an uplifting note, but here's where I need some input via different 
viewpoints. That is, from both readers and writers out there.

In the next to the last paragraph of one of my novels, I'm winding up with the following  example below and feel uneasy about it. To put you in the picture, - as in most stories - the male and female characters have had a difficult time getting together. They are now on board a ship heading for a future full of promise.

How does it make you feel? Is it too, too sentimental? A cliche? Better to cut it? I'd love some constructive criticism as I'd really value your opinions. 

As they stood together, contemplating the vast expanse, an ominous storm cloud was transformed into a silver-edged colossus. Shafts of sunlight sliced through, scattering showers of sparkling diamonds across the sea. He turned to gaze into her sweet face. ‘There’ll always be the storm clouds, my beloved, but He will direct us together along His paths.’

I worked out another paragraph, but I'm still unsure whether it's any better.
This M/S comes from my second book in the Watermark Women series. Its title is THE TIE THAT BINDS. It is complete except for this last paragraph. You ICFWers  are the closest I can get to a critique group. 

Do any of you struggle with your endings and have to edit several times? I want it to be memorable. 


Rita's first book in the series, SIGNED SEALED DELIVERED,
How could she believe in her future when she couldn't escape her past? Published by Ark House Press.

At the moment she is working with an editor on Book 3, title A Parcel of PROMISES.

Please feel free to email her at: rita galieh at gmail dot com  (No spaces) or leave a comment right here.
www.ritastellagalieh.com  http://inspirationalromance.blogspot.com 








Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Be a Barnabas


Photo courtesy of
“chrisroll”/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I woke one particular morning last week thoroughly discouraged. I was struggling to understand how Angelguard was ever going to sell many copies when it appeared to only be carried by three retailers, all online ones.

I was excited having been advised ten days or so ago that stock had finally landed in the US after a month’s delay due to a bungle at the printers. This had been the second delay as the original launch date was November last year. However, my UK publisher were planning a big splash for the launch of their new fiction imprint, Lion Fiction, in March this year and decided to include Angelguard as part of the celebrations.

So to find out that none of the physical retails stores in the US were currently stocking it was disheartening.

Out of the Blue

I popped over to a blog I regularly visit and happened to notice a reply to a comment I had written a few days earlier.

BAM

I almost fell off my chair. This virtual friend shared some encouragement that blew my mind. Her words were confirmation of something I had pondered over for a while, but had never shared it with anyone else.

“Thank you, Lord,” I spoke out aloud to no one, bar Beanie our 15-week-old puppy.

He just has a way of doing that, I find. Words from out of nowhere arrive just at the moment you can do with them the most.

I stopped worrying about sluggish book sales.

Barnabas

I’ve always loved Barnabas’ story: Paul’s right hand man for the initial period of his ministry. Soon after Paul’s conversion (he was still know as Saul, in fact) he was trying to draw close to the disciples, however, “they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple.” (Acts 9: 26b, NASB) It was Barnabas we are told in the following verses, who spoke up, encouraging the disciples to welcome Saul by describing his miraculous conversion.

There are other instances when Barnabas provides similar encouragement not just to Paul, but also to other believers. In fact, when we first meet Barnabas’ he was known as “Joseph” (his birth name) and it is the apostles who gave him the new name of Barnabas. (Acts 4:36-37) In Greek, Barnabas means “son of encouragement”. The apostles had first hand experience of his encouraging nature.

Surprising Reaction

The following day I was reading a newsletter from an author I follow. This newsletter was beautifully written revealing this author’s vulnerability regarding a number of personal matters. I sent a note expressing my concern and commitment to prayer. In addition, I asked a question about the launch plan for her upcoming novel.

I soon received a reply seeking some information regarding the question I had asked. I quickly provided that information and realised by the following response that I had been of encouragement and practical assistance regarding the launch plans.

I was chuffed. Here I was, a fan of this author, and she had benefited from my suggestion. It was a nice feeling to receive this author’s gracious response.

Sons and Daughters

Just like Barnabas, we too can be sons and daughters of encouragement. Every day I seek to encourage somebody. It might be as simple as a reply/RT of a tweet, a quick text message, an email, a DM saying I’m praying for you.

Discouragement is one of the key methods the enemy tries to dislodge people, to keep them from praying or reading the Bible. Even the most positive of people will experience regular moments of discouragement. An encouraging word can never go to waste.

As a reader I love connecting with an author if I’m able to. Most authors who have websites usually provide a means for contacting them. Drop your favourite a quick comment, telling them how much you enjoyed their recent novel. You might be surprised when they drop a note back saying thanks.

But don’t encourage expecting something in return. Simply give it, be the blessing, or the gift. Be surprised and gracious if a response does arrive.

I thought I’d leave you with this great quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”

Be that someone today.

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Northern Sydney. Ian's first novel, Angelguard, releases this month in the USA/Canada, UK in March and finally home sweet Oz, in May. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website and on his author Facebook page.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

GIFTS AND ABILITIES



After completing her nursing training, Mary met her husband, Ray, at Bible college 50 years ago. They have ministered in churches in Australia, two years in England and now enjoy living in Tasmania. Mary has had 19 titles published and Ray has five devotional books out also.

Web and blog: http://www.mary-hawkins.com





The joy of receiving that first book
I’m currently trying to prepare a Bible study for an elective at a Christian women’s conference on “Wisdom in the way you develope your gifts and abilities”. I intend to share about spiritual gifts God gives for His specific purposes too but on this blog want to focus on talents we have been given as natural parts of our personalities from birth.
There is so much to share but where to start has been difficult to decide. Sounds like that first sentence, first paragraph of our novels?

The first thing before we can ever develope our abilities – which I think most of us would call natural talents – is to discover just what they are. There are many who may be multi-talented but is there one that stands out, one that God wants developed so He can use it to bless others and glorify Himself? For some, discovering this may be easy, but I suggest there are many folk who take their lives so much for granted they don’t stop and wonder about any specific one they have which God wants them to develope for His specific purposes.

I was certainly one such person. As many of you may have heard before, it was not until I was thirty years old I had any idea about writing more than my diary and letters. Would these years of being a published author ever have happened if my husband had not read my diary and simply told me, “You have a talent for writing, what are you going to do about it?”

But was that really the beginning of my writing career? What if I’d never met that wonderful man? What if I’d never had a Dad who wrote diaries and thus inspired a fourteen year old to start her own? What if I had never enjoyed books, never become an avid reader long before I was fourteen?

For me as a committed Christian, it ultimately goes back to the time I completely surrended my life, my will, all that I was and could ever hope to be to my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. For me, it was my husband He used to show me a talent I had never considered before, never realised it should be developed, refined, worked hard at so He could use it where and how, and even more importantly when He wants to.

Over the years I have been saddened when I have met lovely Christians who obviously have a real talent in some specific area but shrug off any suggestion of trying to develope it. Because I am a published author, I’ve heard this said too many times about becoming a writer, but also from talented people in many other arenas. The reasons are many and varied. While some are definitely quite valid, the ones that concern me and even grieve me are ones like, “Me? I could never be as good as...” And then they mention someone in that area of expertise they know of who has achieved success.

When thinking about this journey of mine I glanced at my bookshelf and there was that Famous Writers Course set of books. It was supposed to take me eighteen months full time but becoming pregnant and moving to minister at another church meant they let me take four years. This is the list of assignments and I noticed that the last few were in 1974. Seems nearly a lifetime away now. Only the deep knowledge that this was indeed what God wanted me to do kept me persevering all that time. Then I discovered it was only that first "step" to have my first published novel in the photo above. That took too many years to write but then thirteen years before that pile of books above fnally arrived.
Some of the biggest reasons for not wanting to recognise a talent that should be developed include the fear of failure, not being prepared to do the hard work to improve, and perhaps the most important one of all is the lack of perseverance when the rejections and criticism of our efforts come. If God wants that talent, that ability he has given, to be used by Him, not to do so is simply disobedience and that earns a heavy price.

And that perseverance is certainly something we writers know only too well we must deal with. How do we persevere? Why should we persevere? The specific answers are many and varied for each person but I know personally it is because I know this is what God wants of Mary Hawkins. Because of my intimate relationship with Jesus, He has been and remains my comforter, my guide, my strength, my all in all. But He does use not only the Scriptures but fellowship with His people to bring me all of these. I can only pray that perhaps He has used me too to help others as they seek to obey Him in developing their talents to glorify Him and bless and challenge whoever He wants to.

Monday, March 18, 2013

THE REGRETS OF AN EMPIRE by Christine Lindsay


PM David Cameron laying a wreath in Amritsar India, Feb. 20, 2013

This past February 20, 2013, an event took place that took my breath away. During the last day of his three-day-trip to India, British Prime Minister David Cameron visited the site of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. In his speech the Prime Minister spoke about an inhuman episode that occurred almost a century ago in the city of Amritsar, northern India. From the viewpoint of Indian people, that episode was the bloodiest murder which the British Raj inflicted on India, during their colonial rule.

The PM expressed regret over the episode. I for one was delighted to hear this, and said to myself, well it’s about time.

Now don’t get me wrong—on my passport it clearly states that I was born a citizen of Great Britain—I’m proud to be British. One of the things I love about this fun group of international writers is that many of the countries represented are members of the Commonwealth or are nations who still have strong ties with Britain.

But there are times in life when as individuals and as nations that we must apologize or express our regrets.  

Times sure have changed for good old Britannia, though, haven’t they?

If you were a kid about 100 years ago, studying a map, you would have seen a great many pink areas designated as belonging to Great Britain. Those days the sun never set on the Empire. Countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Burma, parts of China, Africa, the Caribbean . . . oh goodness, I’ve probably forgotten some. And of course at one time, the United States was a British colony until the Boston Tea Party. 

So when did The Empire cease to be an empire?

For that answer we need to look at the birthing of “said” Empire. 

It started out with a need for assets. In the Tudor days when Drake, Magellan, Columbus, to name a few, were trying to find better routes to the Far East for the spice, silks, all the money that could be made in those fertile tropical lands. They wanted to get to India—the treasure trove—and therefore created the British Raj of India. Raj, being the Indian word for rule.

But there were rumbles in the kingdom, most infamous the 1857 Mutiny where the Indian people revolted against British rule, and later in April 1919, that awful massacre in the Jallianwala Bagh, when British General Rex Dyer ordered his troops to mow down 1000 peaceful Indian demonstrators with rifle-fire.

Winston Churchill called the event monstrous, and said, "This was a deeply shameful event in British history.”

Even though Britain never ordered such an atrocity, the event has blighted British/Indian relationships to this day.

But the massacre took place in 1919, and India did not gain her desired independence until 1947. So what convinced Britain to release her hold on India almost 30 years later? Why money of course.

After WW2 Great Britain’s coffers were pretty much empty. This tipped the scales. Not the shame of what we Brits did to the Indian subcontinent, but simply because we could no longer afford to keep them.

The day India gained her independence was the day the Empire ceased to exist, and sadly Great Britain became simply . . . Britain.  

And I wonder--after all this time--why has at long last, a British Prime Minister come to India to express his regrets? Makes me wonder if that too is about money. Trade, perhaps. 

Funny how the more we think things change, the more they stay the same.

It is this decline of the British Raj that fascinates me, and has become the era and setting of my series—fittingly called—Twilight of the British Raj. A time of action, adventure, exotic settings, in Shadowed in Silk, and Captured by Moonlight, and Book 3 Veiled at Midnight coming 2014.

Book 2 of the Twilight of the British Raj
 Purchase links for Captured by Moonlight and Shadowed in Silk








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