Friday, September 29, 2017

DEVOTION: Who do you trust?

I’m planning a trip to Toronto with my mother and sister, and as I usually do, I am doing some research on fun things to do there. A Canadian colleague of mine suggested visiting the CN tower. On the CN Tower website I saw they have this attraction called the EdgeWalk. It is described as “the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk on a 5 foot (1.5 m) wide ledge encircling the top of the Tower’s main pod, 356m/1168ft (116 storeys) above the ground”.

Just looking at the pictures of people standing so high up and on the edge of the platform with these thin looking harnesses made me consider the human ability to have faith. In order for me to attempt something like that, I’d have to first believe that I could, then I’d have to believe that the harnesses and rail system would be sturdy enough to hold me and that they had never broken before, and finally I’d have to believe in the experience of the EdgeWalk Guide.

Every day and in every situation we consciously and sub-consciously make decisions. A lot of these decisions call on a measure of faith. Faith in past experiences, faith in our own ability, in others, etc.

But when it comes to what we, from a human perspective, would call big, serious or life-critical situations you really get to know what and who you believe in. As believers in Jesus Christ our confidence and hope is based on our knowledge of God and His Word; on our past experiences with God.

God gives us everything we need to trust Him. Romans 12:3 tells us that God has given to each of us a measure of faith. Faith does not look at the situation. It looks at God and His infallible Word. It understands that God speaks the end from the beginning and calls those things that are not as though they were. Faith believes that God loves His children and will never leave them or forsake no matter what. Faith believes that God is not a man and cannot lie so if He said it, He will do it. And, that with God nothing shall be impossible.

Father God thank You for Your love, Your faithfulness, Your protection and provision. Thanks for your unfailing and unbreakable promises. Our hope in You can never be disappointed. Thank You for perfecting the things that concern us. We trust You to always do what is best for us and to take care of us no matter what.
In Jesus Name. Amen

Ufuoma Daniella Ojo is a Software Training Manager and Personal Performance Life Coach. Check her out at

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Diving deeper into life with ... stories

One of the casualties of our society’s desire to develop and get more sophisticated has been the time we spend on things or people. It’s as if we have reduced the very nature of our interaction with each other to as little room as we feel we can afford to give it.

Our society Googles issues, reads one article and feels like it’s informed. (If any research is done at all).

Large scale conversations – about the future of our planet or the future of our families - have been reduced to 140 characters, complete with a cool hashtag and a series of emojis.

We read about someone overcoming great odds (whether that’s health or poverty or discrimination) in a 200-word news article and follow up Facebook post.

Our support for friends in need has sometimes been reduced to clicking Like or sending them an animated gif.  

Politicians’ entire platforms, their audition to run a whole nation, are reduced to three-word soundbites with next to no detail. (In the USA, there was “Build that wall” and “I’m with her”.  In Australia, we had “Jobs and Growth”.)

(Just as an aside: I wonder if that has any kind of causal relationship with how angry people are. I run into this undercurrent of angst in a range of topics almost every day, and I wonder if its because people just don’t feel like they’re heard or understood).

So how have we arrived at this point?  I think one reason could be because understanding people or getting your head around issues is the perception we don’t have time. Our media is now on a 24/7 news cycle so it believes it has little time to actually check a story (or facts) because of the perceived pressure of missing out on the next one. We don’t stop and find out what’s really going on with someone because we’ve got to rush off to the next event which will make our life worthwhile because it adds another item to the list of “things we get done”. Which we can then post on social media for people to Like in passing.

To me, that has left us with a society that doesn’t appear to have much depth at all.  I want to dive deeper into life.

You know, there is one part of society in which I still find depth, and I’m glad it’s there.  I’m glad I can lose myself in it.


There is nothing better than taking time – or increasingly making time – to dive into another world. That doesn’t necessarily mean a world far removed from my own with talking trees and Knights of the Realm, but instead a world of someone else’s experience.

Over the course of the story, I go deeper into life with someone else.  I experience the highs of their successes and the shared joy of them overcoming the challenges they face.  I commiserate with them as I learn about their successes.  I sit on the edge of my seat as I watch on as they are at the crossroads, facing life decisions that we know are the right or wrong thing for them.  I take time to get to know them.

And I learn about myself. I explore issues that are couched in the story of another, allowing me to see principles and life lessons in action. 

For me, there is only one thing better than reading a story like that.

Writing one.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about throwing myself into a manuscript is the process. Getting to know characters as they unveil themselves after I’ve spent time with them means I’ve changed their speech patterns or introduced a phrase that I hear them speaking if I stop and listen for long enough. Going back to a scene I thought was good and deepening it or throwing in a curveball, because I now know that character wouldn’t know what to do in that situation.

It encourages me to think deeper about the real world, about real people and real issues.  I find myself spending time listening to people about what they believe and asking the second question of ‘why?’ I’m  almost studying them for mannerisms or reactions to when life is going well (or not).

It means, in order to understand my characters or storyline better – and to be a better writer - I am thinking deeper about issues to do with mental health, poverty, the environment, loneliness, social media, the media or work-life balance.

Maybe everyone should be a writer.

If you are, I would encourage you to keep writing. Keep giving us something to lose ourselves in, to learn more and to go deeper into this life and all it has to offer. I, for one, will be most grateful.

About David Rawlings

Based in Adelaide, South Australia, I am a sports-mad, married father-of-three with my own copywriting/communication business who reads everything within an arm’s reach. I can see a typo from across the room and always – always – make sure my text messages are grammatically correct.

My manuscripts have finalled in the ACFW's Genesis competitions and the OCW's Cascade Awards.

And now I'm working with the Steve Laube Agency as my agent to find that elusive first publisher.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What Happens When an Author Completes Their Book Contract? - Kara Isaac

Earlier this week I sent my agent my latest book proposal.

I've had a few people surprised at this news, thinking that because I've had two books traditionally published that another book contract was a done deal. Oh how I wish that was true!

And while I'm sure that is the case for bestselling authors, it's certainly not for the rest of us. So I thought I would chat today about what happens from here :)

The agent call: Later this week I'll be chatting to my agent about the proposal and getting his thoughts. The possibilities there run the entire continuum from "this is terrible and there's no way I'm going to be able to sell it" through to "this is perfect and I'm ready to hit send".

The RFR: As with most traditionally published authors my publisher has what is known as a Right of First Refusal (or RFR). This means that they get the first opportunity to exclusively review my next proposal for a specified period of time. If they reject it or we aren't able to come to mutually agreeable terms, then once that time has passed my agent can...

Pitch it: This is where he speaks to other contacts he has at other publishers and talks to them about the proposal, in the hope that they will request to see it. From some he will get a flat no (we're not acquiring any more romance this year, we've recently done a book that sounds too similar etc.), from others he may get a "sure, we'll take a look at it".

In both my current publisher, and any other ones, even if they love the books ideas (and that's a big if!) they'll also be considering a heap of other information. How many copies have my previous books sold? Were they well reviewed in major trade publications? Have they finaled in or won any major awards? How big is my platform?  Where would they see the stories fitting in their current planned releases over the next couple of years? A combination of all of those things will determine whether they want to move forward with the project.

Over the last few years a number of publishers have either closed their Christian fiction lines (Harvest House, B&H, Abingdon, Heartsong Presents, Summerside Press, Love Inspired Historical to name a few) or reduced the number of titles they are releasing. Many midlist authors have had contracts either cancelled or not been offered new ones. The result? Many talented authors competing for an ever-shrinking pool of available release spots. Fortunately, many of those authors have gone on to well-deserved success releasing their books independently.

The Wait and Hope/Pray part: The publishing process takes time and it will probably be 2018 before I know whether they have a traditional publishing home. Whether they do or they take another journey I know that I can trust God with the outcome. Especially when I look back on my ten year journey to publication and see how perfectly he ordered those steps, even though I couldn't see it at the time!

In the meantime, if you have an author that you love do whatever you can within your resources to support them. The need every sale and piece of encouragement they an get :)

Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She is the author of Close to You, a RITA Award Double Finalist, and Can't Help Falling, an RT Review Top Pick. Her latest book Then There Was You released in June. When she's not chasing three adorable but spirited little people, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same; or Why I Write History

I have always loved history. I want to know what past times were really, how people lived, what
they did, and how it felt to be part of society in bygone days. The more I study, read and write about history, however, the more I believe that, technology and modern conveniences aside, the answer to most of those ponderings is “about like we feel.”

I am constantly amazed when I read about prejudices, conflicts and struggles in bygone times and find myself thinking, “That hasn’t changed!”

An interesting example I encountered recently was reading “What Made the News in 1809”in my favorite magazine Jane Austen’s Regency World. It seems that the English had seized 16 Dutch fishing vessels, an action that led to the government banning fishing trade with the Dutch to protect British fishing.

I then turned to reading the same week’s Economist, but had to check to be sure I’d changed magazines when I read of English trawlermen protesting European Union fishing quotas and a government leader promising to withdraw from an international fishing treaty, including with the Dutch.

The fact of how little people: their basic desires, feelings and ideas, really change has been an on-going underlying theme of my writing. All of my books, even the contemporary murder mysteries, have an important element of history as a means to understanding what is going on in the present.
In A VeryPrivate Grave, the first of my Monastery Murders, Felicity, my thoroughly modern, full-steam-ahead American heroine struggles greatly with this concept when she is thrown into close contact with Antony, her church history lecturer and they set out to solve a present-day murder with its roots deep in the past.

“History is—well, history,” she argues. “It’s past.  You can’t change it.  The future is what matters.  That we can change.”

Antony agrees to the truth of her statement, then explains, “But the past impinges on the future.  We have a better chance of controlling the future if we understand the past.”

And so I write history because I’m really writing about today—and tomorrow.

Donna Fletcher Crow is currently writing the fifth book in her Lord Danvers Investigates Victorian true-crime series, and, as always, is continually amazed at how little attitudes, desires and motives have changed. You can see these books and all of her novels of British history at

Monday, September 25, 2017

When Life Throws a Curve Ball by Janice L. Dick

This blog was supposed to appear very early in the morning of this very day. Unfortunately, I missed the memo.

Six months ago, my husband and I invited my mom to come live with us. She’s 94 and was living in a seniors’ assisted living facility. We realized not long after she moved there that it wasn’t ideal for her. Mom has always been independent, and she didn’t enjoy the institutional feel of the place.

Most of her friends had passed away and she needed a place to belong and be cared for, so we decided to give her a home and a family.

In making this commitment, I asked myself how this decision might affect my writing. I couldn’t answer the question because I had no idea. When God asks you to do something, you do it and trust that He will provide the required resources. So far, I’ve been able to continue with my writing on a fairly normal basis. Until last week.

One week ago Thursday, Mom had a heart attack, and everything changed. I can’t leave her alone right now. I can’t travel to conferences or even writer’s group unless someone familiar is here with her. With all the hubbub, I also neglected to check my Facebook page, and thus missed the memo about postings for the rest of this year. (My apologies.)

Life is all about the unexpected. We make plans, but life happens. We make commitments and do our best, but sometimes, life throws a curve ball and we are unable to fulfill our obligations.

The comforting thought in all this is that, as Christians, we are in God’s care, no matter what unexpected events occur. Just like character motivation in fiction, everything in our lives happens for a reason. Nothing is a surprise to the Lord, the One who creates the stories of our lives. So we rest in His care and His plan as it unfolds.

I don’t know what the future holds for Mom, or for us. I will continue to write as time allows, but of first importance is discerning God’s plan for each day. His way is always best. And, to top is off, He gives us His peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” John 14:27.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


Coming Up This Week 


Janice Dick


Donna Fletcher Crow


Kara Isaac


David Rawlings

Friday Devotion 

Daniella Ojo


Upcoming Releases

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Better Than a Crown, Book 3 in her Christmas in Montana Romance series, releases independently in October 2017.

Carolyn Miller's regency romance set in England, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Book 3 in her Regency Brides series, will be an October 2017 release from Kregel.

Lucy Thompson's historical romance set in Australia, Waltzing Matilda, in The Captive Bride Collection: 9 Stories of Great Challenges Overcome Through Great Love, will be an October 2017 release from Barbour.

Sandra Orchard's Amish mystery The Hound and The Fury, Book 17 in Amish Inn Mysteries, will release in October 2017 from Annie’s Attic.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Rooted in Love, Book 2 in her new Garden Grown Romance series (part of Arcadia Valley Romance multi-author series) releases independently in November 2017.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in USA, Vanishing Point: A Nikki Boyd Novel, will be a November 2017 release from Revell.

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

Friday, September 22, 2017



My mask, a smile
My defence’s camouflage,
The barrier to being known.
My mask hides

My heart, a vault
Secrets and stories stored
         Away from prying eye
    My vault hides

                                            My mind, a pit
                                                 A cavern, bottomless.
                                                 Integrity lost in darkness.
                                                  My pit hides,

          I want to run, run, run!
            But where can I run to? 
            I want to cry, cry, cry!
            But no tears can wash the past.
                  I want to be free, free, free!
               But where the key to the locks?

                  A stranger confronts my mind,
        Calls to my heart!
              Hands, head scarred.
           Eyes of fire.
              Voice of love.
                        He says He knows me well.

His Name is Jesus.
He speaks my name.
He looks, I’m uncovered.
He speaks, I’m redeemed.
He embraces, I’m cleansed.
He smiles, my mask dissolved.

My mind, now a well
The water of life now within!
A new dignity has begun.
My well provides

My heart, a door.
Secrets shredded, not dreaded!
Forgiveness frees me.
My door welcomes

My smile, unmasked
Is genuine with sincerity
Capable of intimacy
My smile radiates,
©Ray Hawkins.2017

Ray is a themed Devotional writer . His 8th book 'The Warrior Lord's Triumph has just been released. In Christians bookshops or contact him direct. R.R.P. $11:95.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

You can Achieve a lot in 5 Years

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/
Five years ago I was about to attend my first ACFW Conference. Like this year’s event it too was in Dallas (a different venue) but was a nice direct flight home to Sydney. I went as a contracted author, my first novel, Angelguard, due to be released six months later in early 2013.
On the first morning (the event started the prior afternoon) a young lady shared a devotional. She was humble, funny, self-deprecating and clearly had a love for Jesus. She had a signed contract for a multi-book series but, like me, wouldn’t release her first book until the following year.
Last week I noticed a photo in this lady’s FB feed of “her pile”. The stories (novels, novellas and short stories) she’d published (both tradional and self). I was in awe. And proud of all that she had accomplished. Melissa has become a writing friend. I’ve read a couple of her stories and love them. Melissa writes rom-com style novels that feature characters who have a faith in Jesus.
Another Aussie friend wrote a post only this week where he mentioned he’d attended ACFW last year for the first time and he’s now in a position of having recently become agented and finaled in a competition at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference.
We read about this all the time and it can be challenging to not do it. Remember we have an enemy who will try to mess with our minds at every opportunity. Envy is one of those core “deadly sins” that he tempts us with.
“Your enemy the devil is on the prowl like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
I did do the comparison because it was pretty simple to do … one published, one waiting to be (well I’m believing that to be the case!) and 40% of another. Hey, it pales in comparison. Could I have written more? Yes, I could of and should of. But I chose not to beat myself up or get down on myself, rather to regard it as the past and be stirred to produce more in the future.
Besides being in awe, Melissa’s post inspired me. Look at what we can achieve. Look what is possible. Even when you work two jobs which Melissa does. We all know authors who are similarly prolific. Our own Lisa Harris releases a couple of stories each year while being a missionary in Mozambique with her husband. Kara Isaac has had an extremely busy couple of years releasing three novels and giving birth to a bub! Carolyn Miller, another Aussie author, hadn’t released anything eight months ago but in October the third in her Regency Brides series is released. Sure, Carolyn didn’t write three full-length novels overnight, but wow.
By 2022
Only God knows what we’ll be doing in five years time. I hope I’ll be getting ready to attend another ACFW Conference along with many other members of the ICFW family. And I hope to have more books, both fiction and non-fiction, published.
But more isn’t necessarily the answer. Something we always need to be conscious of. Too often we will place value on ourselves through our “more”, through our achievements. It’s important to remember that we are children of God and already are significant because of that. He created us and therefore we are significant.
Amongst the madness of writing, publishing, working and having a life I asked Melissa for a few thoughts on what worked so she maintained her sanity:
  • Never put writing above the people you love. You will never, ever regret spending time with the people God has put in your path. They're there for a reason ... and they will always be more important than fictional people! That said... :)
  • Know yourself! Know what works for you and what doesn't. What doesn't work for me is strict word count goals and deadlines (whereas I know others who thrive on deadlines!). What does work for me is finding a long weekend here or there when I can hide away from the world and just write to my heart's content. When you've discovered what works for you, you can lean into that and get so much more done than if you try to do what you see everyone else doing. I've been soooo much more productive since I quit trying to write on evenings after long days of work and instead just focused on finding three- or four-day stretches here and there where I can bang out a bunch of words at once.
  • Don't be afraid to take breaks! When it comes to reaching for a dream, it's easy to feel like we need to do and do and do and push and push and push. But for me, some of my best creativity and best productivity has happened after allowing myself to step away ... whether for one night or one weekend or even one month. Those are the times in which God refreshes my spirit and I rediscover why I'm doing what I'm doing.

I love that … such great wisdom. We’re all different and understanding what works for each of us is important.

Go forth dear writing friends. Keep leaning into Jesus and keep believing. And keep writing. Remember writers write. (I always need to remind myself of that)

Grace and peace.

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney. Ian's first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard, is available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction.You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sibling Rivalry & Perception Redefined ~ by Patricia Beal

We had a rough morning. 

When we moved from Texas to North Carolina, we had to leave behind a piece of our sectional. We tried so hard to get it to fit in the truck, but it didn't.

Now my son and my daughter fight for space on the remaining piece like backyard squirrels fighting for a spot on a feeder perch. Good grief

They are tiny. You can put four of them on that couch. But they must have their daily war. Today it got so bad that when I sat between them, my daughter said she wasn't going to eat breakfast and that she was going back to bed.

Say what? How about school? How about a little respect?

I was an only child and so was my husband. We never know what to make of all this fighting and bickering. But it's frustrating. Our perception is that we are the only ones who struggle with this and that what they do to each other and to us is completely bonkers.

But wait. What's perception anyway? Here are a few things that come up on

"The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses: a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression..."

That's all true. But let's think this through. The Bible says it's good to live by faith, not by sight. So I believe it's fair to say that for a Christian, facts should go through a God filter, a Bible filter, a truth filter, before deciding how to perceive an action or words or whatever is to be understood/interpreted.

Can we redefine perception then? How about we use our definition and take out the word "senses" and plug in something better? Let's see what happens...

Perception is:

"The ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses truth of the Word of God: a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression..."

I like that better.

After my daughter stormed upstairs, I told my son that I was tired, that I needed him to be more mature, that I had a couple of deadlines to meet, and that I needed peace and time to finish researching school curriculums (I will begin homeschooling him in October). I quoted scripture (blessed are the peacemakers) and sent him upstairs to get his sister to come down, eat, and get ready for school.

I didn't have a whole lot of faith in the approach, but didn't have the energy or the right spirit to deal with her myself.

Surprise, surprise! It worked!

Within five minutes he was getting ready for school, and she was on my lap saying she was sorry and asking what all she needed to have to get all food groups into her breakfast. Boom! I didn't move. I didn't get mad. I asked for help from a place of brokenness, and I quoted scripture.

I shouldn't be surprised when doing things the Bible way works miraculously. But I'm always surprised. O ye of little faith... Yep. That's me most of the time. I'm so thankful for fellow Christians who admit they feel the same way sometimes, many times.

So perception by sight was: What's wrong with these kids? How frustrating and disappointing and hopeless and helpless! What are we going to do?!

Perception by faith: Remember Cain and Abel. They are behaving as expected. We're not the only ones with kids who fight constantly. Fallen humanity. But the Word of God is good. God is good. Look how they responded to scripture. There's such power in it. God, help me remember this event and the resolution. Help me use your power more often—all the time.

How about you? What extreme thing (or not so extreme, I suppose) has happened to you lately that God's filter can heal? Did you fight with siblings like mad? Is there hope mine will like each other one day? Do share...

"Misery likes company" gets such a bad rep, but it shouldn't be so. It's not that misery likes company per se, it's that we don't want to feel like we were forgotten by God and suffer alone. That's what the enemy wants us to think. So it soothes my soul when I hear other people share their struggles and their brokenness. We're in this together, and God is good, and He never changes, and the world will pass away, but His words will not. He will not. We will not. Eternal. Together. Perspective.

Love y'all.

Patricia Beal writes contemporary Christian fiction and is represented by Leslie Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. Her debut novel, A Season to Dance, came out in May (Bling! / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas 2017).

She’s a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and then worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years. Now, after a 10-year break in service, she is an Army editor. She and her husband live in North Carolina with their two children.