Thursday, November 30, 2017

Using Our Writer’s ‘Voice’ for God’s Glory

By Elizabeth Musser

I’m sitting on the couch in my parents’ den in Atlanta, Georgia, the home I grew up in; it’s the day after Thanksgiving. Amy Grant’s first Christmas album is playing in the background as I sort my mother’s sterling silver. I’m counting each piece to make sure none got accidentally thrown in the trash after our feast. Yesterday eighteen of us enjoyed the goodness of life, celebrating with Mom’s fine china, her linens, her silver, and her recipes, all the while missing Mom. I am doing what my mother used to do because Mom passed away last year, and now, I, the only daughter, have taken over her duties. Just for this year.

This year we’re ‘home’.

Amy is singing ‘Tender Tennessee Christmas’ and it takes me back, so far back, to my first Christmas as a missionary in a dried-up mining town in France. My dear teammate and I were staying at the house of the one French elder in the tiny Protestant church where we served. We were babysitting the elder’s five little kids while his dear wife was in the hospital birthing the sixth.

I was feeling so overwhelmed and homesick. Fortunately, the day before, I had received a package in the mail from my home church, finding inside Amy Grant’s brand-new Christmas album (as a cassette tape—this was 1983). Now I stood in the kitchen of that French family, bawling my eyes out as I listened and listened to Amy’s sweet voice singing of nostalgia and faith and home.

Amy came into my life when I was a college Freshman. I will never forget the night she visited our college fellowship group as a shy seventeen-year-old, guitar on her lap, singing of her love for Christ. I loved her music and her heart for God. She inspired me to want to use my writing ‘voice’ to reach others with hope in Christ, just as she was using her singing voice for the Lord. I prayed for this, often writing in my journal, “Lord, if there is something else You want me to do with this gift You’ve given me, please show me.”

I watched as Amy gained popularity and produced her first album. 

I attended her first concerts. And always, Amy’s words echoed my heart. When I left for the mission field right after college, Amy’s songs went with me. And on that dreary December morning in France, her songs brought solace to my soul.

Over the course of these thirty-something years on the mission field, I have obtained each of her cassettes and CDs, laughed and cried with her, and dreamed. Her Christmas albums have filled my home in France with the wonder of Christmas back in the US. Oh, on how many a hard day has her music lifted my spirits and kept me going.

Today, as I listen to Amy, I reflect on the unique ways God ministers to each of us. 

He used Amy’s voice to encourage me during all my years on the mission field. He also answered my far-flung prayers—that deep desire to be a writer.

I sit on this couch and read sweet emails from readers, telling me that my stories have encouraged their hearts, drawn them ever closer to Christ. Some have even been inspired to use their ‘voice’ after reading my ‘voice’, just as Amy inspired me.

As writers, may we always strive to use our ‘voice’ for His glory, even on those days when we wonder if our words are reaching anyone. Take courage. There may be a homesick soul with a big prayer and a little faith who happens on one of our stories and feels God’s hug and encouragement to keep pursuing the dream.

About Elizabeth Musser

Elizabeth Musser usually writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe.

 To be closer to family, the Mussers have moved back to the Southeast for 2017-2018 school year and are living in the Chattanooga area near their son, daughter-in-law and three grandkids. But you can read about her humorous Thanksgiving experiences in France here. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at and on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Bookish Tuesday in Budapest

by Marion Ueckermann

I'm so excited to let you know about my latest release. A Time to Love is Book 2 in my Under the Sun ~ Seasons of Change series. The story of Jordan and Melanie will take you from the east coast of South Africa to the intriguing streets of Budapest, Hungary. 

Here's what some readers have to say about their journey through the pages of A Time to Love...

A Time to Love is a beautifully written novel featuring doctor Melanie and journalist Jordan, a winsome couple with issues to work through and thought-provoking problems to solve. On their journey, the majestic city of Budapest takes center stage, making me long to travel to this foreign land featuring rich history and wonders galore. What struck me the most as I raced through this delightful book was the masterful craftsmanship of an author who knows how to make the scenes so vivid—it was as if I was watching the story unfold from around the corner. As always, I will read this one again and again, and eagerly await Ms. Ueckermann’s next offering. ~ Jan Elder, Author of the Moose Creek Series

Not only have I learned from these wonderful tidbits of history that Marion Ueckermann has included in A Time to Love, but she has woven the story so well, that I feel like I have actually visited Budapest, have tasted the food, and have seen the sites. This is a very touching story of failure, fears, forgiveness, and finding faith and trust when we don’t understand the bad things happening around us. ~ Becky Smith

Another delightful read from this author. I loved catching back up with the characters from A Time to Laugh. I thoroughly enjoyed following Melanie and Jordan's story in this book, and Marion had me feeling like I was walking the streets of Budapest with them. Thanks to Marion for another wonderful book. ~ Ann Lacy Ellison

Everyday life for Dr. Melanie Kerr had consisted of happy deliveries and bundles of joy…until her worst nightmare became reality. The first deaths in her OR during an emergency C-section. Both mother and child, one month before Christmas. About to perform her first Caesarean since the tragedy, Melanie loses her nerve and flees the OR. She packs her bags and catches a flight to Budapest. Perhaps time spent in the city her lost patient hailed from, can help her find the healing and peace she desperately needs to be a good doctor again.
Since the filming of Jordan’s Journeys’ hit TV serial “Life Begins at Sixty” ended earlier in the year, journalist and TV host Jordan Stanson has gone from one assignment to the next. But before he can take a break, he has a final episode to film—“Zac’s First Christmas”. Not only is he looking forward to relaxing at his parents’ seaside home, he can’t wait to see his godchild, Zac, the baby born to the aging Dunhams. His boss, however, has squeezed in another documentary for him to complete before Christmas—uncovering the tragedy surrounding the doctor the country came to love on his show, the beautiful Dr. Kerr.
In order to chronicle her journey through grief and failure, Jordan has no choice but to get close to this woman. Something he has both tried and failed at in the past. He hopes through this assignment, he’ll be able to help her realize the tragedy wasn’t her fault. But even in a city so far away from home, work once again becomes the major catalyst to hinder romance between Jordan and Melanie.
That, and a thing called honesty.

Here are some of the places Jordan and Melanie visited during their time in Budapest. I've included a small excerpt from the book beneath the photo:

Shoes on the Danube -
One of the first sights Melanie stumbles upon.
You'll have to read the story to see how this affects her.
Curious, Melanie uploaded the photo to Google images. Without waiting to look at the webpage options, she strolled past the long line of shoes, mesmerized, and examined every one. Some had flowers placed inside of them—fresh and dried blooms resting against the heels. Beside others, remnants of candles, wax melted into the pavement.

Heroes' Square -
Melanie has an emotional, life changing moment here.

Tiny clouds of vapor escaped from Jordan’s mouth along with his chuckle, and Melanie wondered at their wisdom to see Heroes Square this early in the morning. But Jordan had suggested the gray light of dawn would provide them with awesome photos of the iconic statue complex with its seven chieftains of the Magyars and other important Hungarian national leaders. Hopefully he was right

Christmas Market -
Jordan and Melanie shopped, shopped, shopped in this fascinating place.

After stopping to buy a cup of hot mulled wine, they were soon caught up in the bustle of people and attractive wooden huts filled with all kinds of Christmas goodies—from food and drinks, to trinkets, gifts, toys, and clothing. They strolled through the stalls, sipping on the spicy red wine.

Chimney Cakes - 
You'll find the recipe for this tasty treat at the back of my story.

Removing the first chimney cake, the man asked, “Cinnamon and sugar, vanilla, walnut, or chocolate and almond coating.”

St. Stephen's Basilica -
Yes, Jordan found it impressive, too.
Unfortunately, photos don't do this place justice.
They came to a stop outside the Roman Catholic basilica, named in honor of the first King of Hungary. She’d learnt that bit of info on her first visit there.
As they circled the building, her gaze flicked toward Jordan. She studied him as he drank in the height and breadth of the imposing structure. When they’d come full circle, his jaw dropped with wonder.
“Wow. That is amazing.”
Melanie snickered. “You think that’s amazing? Wait until you see inside. There are no words.”

Inside the Basilica -
Even more impressive than the outside!
She diverted her attention from Jordan to take in the awe-inspiring surroundings once again, starting with the patterned floor and moving up the marbled walls—columns and panels of dark gray and a color that wasn’t quite red or burnt umber.

The beautiful Danube River
along which Melanie and Jordan stroll.
They strolled down the promenade hugging the Danube River, admiring the white Christmas lights wrapped around trees and hanging from buildings. This was truly a city of lights. And statues.

You'll have to read the story to find out what happens
on this famous chain bridge with its lion statues.
The sight ahead bathed in an orange hue was quite something. Twin lion statues, illuminated in a soft uplight, greeted passersby seeking to cross the Danube via the enormous suspension bridge. In the distance, Buda Castle lit up the hill like a wildfire.

Love locks at Elisabeth Square. 
(The excerpt below is from the love locks found on the bridges.)
“Love locks,” Jordan explained. “Look, there’s another.” He pointed to a smaller lock at the bottom of the same light. He raised his head to gaze up ahead. “They’re actually all along the bridge, attached to the metal frames of the lights. People pledge their undying love as they fasten their lock to the bridge then throw the key into the river.”

I hope you enjoyed stopping by these fascinating places in Budapest. I've one last pic I need to share with you — the Snowflakes & Snuggles box set. You'll find A Time to Love in this wonderful offering of six heartwarming Christmas romances. Snowflakes & Snuggles releases on December 1st, but is available now on preorder. It's only at the incredibly low price of just $0.99c for December so be sure to get your copy now before the price rises.

This will be my last blog until next year so I'd like to wish you all a blessed Christmas and God's richest blessings for 2018.

MARION UECKERMANN's passion for writing was sparked when she moved to Ireland with her family. Her love of travel has influenced her contemporary inspirational romances set in novel places. Marion and her husband again live in South Africa, but with two gorgeous grandsons hanging their hats at the house next door, their empty nest's no longer so empty.

Visit Marion at

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Seasons of Change

By Lorraine Hossington

Winter is coming and the days are getting shorter and I already begin to look forward to when the clocks will change and the light nights will return. But there is a reason that God has created all different seasons in the year, just as there are seasons that we must go through in our own lives.

I know that in my own life there have been stormy winters that have been hard and I wondered will this ever end! Why is this happening? But looking back I can see where God has been with me through these times. A few years ago I lost my job due to ill-health. I had been working in the same place for twenty-eight years and then suddenly I had no job, no money and wondered how I would survive.

One day whilst I walked in the town centre I started to pray, crying out to God asking him for his help. He gave me a picture of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. And I felt him say to me. As I walked in the furnace with them this is how I will walk with you. (Dan 3:25) And God has walked with me in the furnace and has answered my prayers. He hasn’t left me destitute or in need. He has blessed me with restoration and has given me a new life. One that I would never have dreamed of for myself.

When we go through times of trial it can be hard to trust in God, even though we know he is always with us and wants what’s best for our lives. Yet if we persevere to the end we see how his plan has worked out for us. Maybe not the way we thought it would turn out, but the way God wanted it to happen.

It says in Jeremiah 29:11 that he has a good plan for our lives. No matter what we are going through God will show us a way through even during the toughest times.

But what I love about God is he gives us more than just one season. We have four of them and at the end of winter we have spring a time for new growth and new beginnings. Flowers and plants start to bud, and soon are in full bloom. I feel better knowing that the days are longer and the sun takes it’s time in setting. In Song of Songs 2:11:12 it talks about winter being over and how spring has come. A time for looking forward to what’s ahead.

Summer and autumn also have their own unique way in creation. In writing terms I guess spring can be the beginning of a novel, summer the middle and autumn coming to its close and finally winter is when THE END is written.

Maybe through our times of hardship and trials it can help us to write from the heart because we have been through something difficult and come out of the other side. We understand and can empathise with someone else who is going through it. The other person could be a fictional character that you are writing about or a friend.

After going through a difficult patch I have looked back over that time and realise where God has been during the rocky places of my life. Or read a journal and seen his hand on my life. He has always been there. Even when feeling totally alone I know he is always there. For those of you that feel isolated and that you can’t carry on anymore. I just want to encourage you and say you are not on your own. God is with you he will never leave you. He loves you too much.

About Lorraine Hossington

I write contemporary romance and historical romance (as yet unpublished). I'm single, and live in Cardiff in the U.K, where I love to read and write letting my imagination run free.

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Coming Up This Week 


Iola - BTB: Season of Change


Marion Ueckermann


Jenn Kelly



Friday Devotion

Shirley Corder: How to Make Something Beautiful


New Releases

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.


Upcoming Releases

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Amsterdam, Deadly Exchange, will be a January 2018 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the USA, Wishes on Wildflowers, Book 4 in her Urban Farm Fresh Romance series, will release independently in January 2018.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the USA, Harvest of Love, Book 3 in her Garden Grown Romance series, will release independently in May 2018.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2017-2018 Book Releases page, 2013 - 2016 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The End is but another Beginning.

The book has climaxed. The story told. Emotions roll in, roll over, roll on. But, for me, the writer, two words sum up and underscore the years gone by: The End!

Does that mean I have no more to say, give or experience? No! It is my recognition of one task fulfilled and now I scan the horizon for what’s new from God for me to do.

I wonder what verdict, if any, would be passed upon my writings. Being a Devotional writer of no importance, I understood my competitor’s advantages. How could I surpass or even draw near to Spurgeon, W. Barclay, Watchman Nee or Oswald Chambers. In a saturated market why even bother! Most folk wouldn’t understand but maybe you do. I had to write. I had a story to share. I wanted those within my sphere of influence to know about God’s grace and His Word.

Would it have been easier to simply buy and give one of those more famous author’s works to family and friends. Sure. But where’s my testimony in that to those who know me and my journey into faith and commitment to Christ Jesus. My readership is small but in many ways they're a captive audience. It was to them, and a few others I believe God insisted I write.

As I look back over the years what are my assessments regarding my words on paper? It was hard work, yet I loved it. I count it a privilege to have written a word to honour the Lord, challenge unbelief or ignorance and be a witness to grace. Has it been profitable? No! Well, not in monetary terms. However, I look at the cost through my calling. It is, for me, part of ‘take up your cross and follow me’ Jesus laid upon me. My cross had a pen and paper attached. They had to be used. Was I ever depressed by small sales or being sidelined by bookshops for more well-known authors? Disappointed yes, depressed no! This I do know, someone has read something of mine and the Lord will have used it. I count that a privilege and worth the price invested in the writing.

So, as I near the end of my journey I am grateful to Him for the trust He invested in me to write about Him and His word.

Jesus didn’t call me to be famous. He asked me to be faithful. As His word never returns empty from its mission I believe its expression through my ‘pen’ will make a difference to someone, somewhere.

In drawing this to its conclusion I express my gratitude to those who have made my words enter into print. For those who have read something of my heart may you have been drawn closer to the Lord and His word. Thank you all for including me in the demanding, the exhilarating, the costly and the wonderful world of being a Christian writer.

Ray and Mary
                                                The End.
But- wait a minute -what's that appearing on the horizon? Guess I'll just have to wait and see what eventuates!
Copyright, Ray Hawkins Nov 2017.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Being a Prolific Writer

The word 'prolific' is one I'd love to be labelled with... Oh look, she's turned out another bestseller book! What a prolific writer she is...

I've aimed at ridiculous wordcounts per day, I've pantsed and plotted and settled into a happy combination of both. I've changed my sleeping habits, tried NaNoWriMo, read a ton of blogs from writers I love and respect and so on and so on. 

The sad, dismal truth fact I'm currently facing, is that if you give me an hour a day, or a few uninterrupted hours in a day, my output will probably be about the same.

Maybe that will change, I live in hope.

In the meantime, I'm borrowing a lesson from my middle child's induction ceremony into High School a few years back. They start the event with a single torch burning on stage. All the new Grade 8's lead in in the dark. As you can see from the gallery above, the prefects start by lighting their candles and passing on the flame. The transition from a deeply dark hall to one lit by many individual lights was moving to say the least. The message was clear - your individual contribution counts.

How does that make me a more prolific writer? It doesn't. But what it does do, is make me value each word that willingly joins the ranks of the little army of words that make up my story. I only need 75 000 of them to show up at the the right time, and I'm done. 

Do I cringe at 500 word days? Nope. Do I cringe at the 23 words I manage to string together before I'm called to go see my 10's handstand against the cupboard / latest cartwheel / back bend  - AGAIN? Not any more.

All that matters is that I'm adding words. I will not waste energy on beating myself up for not being prolific. Maybe, just maybe... prolificacy (yes, I did just make that up) will creep up on me as I quietly grow my word count. Until then, I'll soldier on, adding each precious word as it shows up.

If you have found any magic formula for upping your daily count, I'd love to hear about it. It probably won't work on me, but go ahead and share anyway!

Dianne J. Wilson writes novels from her hometown in East London, South Africa, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. She is writing a three book YA series, Spirit Walker, with Pelican / Harbourlight. Affinity (book 1), releases on the 8th of June 2018.

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

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

Find her on FacebookTwitter and her sporadic blog Doodles.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Wandering Wednesday - Vienna, Austria

 By Morgan Tarpley Smith

 “The Butterfly and the Violin” by Kristy Cambron
A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.
Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.
In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover—the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul—who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.
My Review of The Butterfly and the Violin
The story drops you right in the action with Sera in her long-time search for a hauntingly beautiful painting of a young Austrian violinist named Adele who lived in Vienna at the outbreak of World War II and wanted to make a difference despite the consequences.
Vienna, Austria
Sera and Adele’s stories merge after Sera’s search for the painting and her need to hear of Adele’s life leads her toward healing and a possible chance for love again amidst a broken past—something that Adele herself knew something about along her life’s journey that led to Auschwitz.
Cambron’s writing is fresh and sharp with beautiful and at the same time heart wrenching moments whether in an upscale art gallery of Manhattan or behind the ghastly barbed wire walls of the notorious Polish concentration camp. I learned a lot about the history of art and music at Auschwitz from this novel, and I so keenly felt for the innocent souls who spent their days—most final—there. This story is simply unforgettable.
Wandering Spotlight: Vienna, Austria
My 234th cup of hot chocolate and plate of apple strudel (lol)
I was able to visit the city that Adele Von Bron called home when my husband and I were on our honeymoon in 2014. The city is gorgeous with ornate architecture from the Hofburg Palace to the St. Peter’s Church. 
We enjoyed walking around in the snow taking in its beauty! Also, we stopped in many cafes to enjoy a cup of Viennese Hot Chocolate piled high with fresh whipped cream accompanied by famous Viennese Apple Strudel.
The highlight of our stay in Vienna was our attendance at the Silvester Ball on New Year’s Eve at the Hofburg Palace. It was an incredible experience! I was all dressed up in an evening gown like Adele was for her special and very memorable concert performance for the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (That scene! Wow!).
The Silvester Ball (or "Silver" Ball)
Also some members of a Viennese Orchestra performed at the ball as well as the Vienna State Opera Ballet. While in Vienna, we also paid a visit to the Christmas market in front of the lovely Schönbrunn Palace.
Vienna certainly did not disappoint with its charm and beauty, and I cannot think of a more extreme opposite to Auschwitz for Adele to have experienced in her journey than from the opulence of the city’s grand concert halls to the dank, cold bunkerhouses of the concentration camp.
Have you been to Austria before? If yes, what was a memorable experience you had there? If no, what would you like to visit most there?
About the Author: Kristy Cambron
Kristy Cambron has a background in art and design, but she fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. She is the bestselling author of The Ringmaster’s Wife, named to Publishers Weekly Spring 2016 Religion & Spirituality TOP 10. Her novels have been named to Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books and RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards Best lists for 2014 & 2015, and received 2015 & 2017 INSPY Award nominations. The Lost Castle (HarperCollins, 2018) is her fifth novel. Her first Bible studies, The Verse Mapping Series, will release in 2018.
Kristy holds a degree in Art History/Research Writing, and has 15 years experience in education and leadership development for a Fortune-100 Corporation. She loves storytelling from the stage and travels to teach about the intersection of walking story roads with Jesus, and Bible Verse Mapping. Kristy laughs daily with her husband and three sons, and can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good read.

To order the novel on Amazon, click here. To find out more about Kristy’s other novels, visit her website at
About the Reviewer
Morgan Tarpley Smith

Morgan Tarpley Smith is an award-winning newspaper reporter and photographer in Louisiana. She is also an inspirational adult and middle grade novelist. Besides writing and traveling to over a dozen countries, her interests include acting, genealogy, photography, and essential oils (Facebook: Pura Vida Louisiana). 
She resides in Louisiana with her husband and is expecting their first child in early 2018.  For more information about Morgan, connect with her on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or Goodreads.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


SPRING Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash 

Life is about change. At least mine certainly has been. Even the short time since I first joined this blog, my life has flipped upside down and around a few times.

Some people call these seasons.

I’ve heard it said that God uses such times to teach us, and I’ve heard that He uses them to change us. 

My experience has been a bit of both.  Through the seasons He’s given me, He has opened my eyes to problem areas in my life and then graciously, lovingly, gently, He’s proceeded to change what I could not.

SUMMER Photo by Juja Han on Unsplash 

Hopefully, prayerfully, I am even now pressing towards another season. Because of the commitments that change will no doubt hold, I have decided to step back from my role as contributor to this, the International Christian Fiction Writers’ Blog.

It has been a pleasure and delight to be included in this group. Your support and feedback during the past two years has meant a lot to me.

Thank you.

AUTUMN Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash 

I pray God’s blessing on each of you as you continue to serve Him with your words. I trust the coming year will bring you growth that deepens your faith and renews your love for the One who first loved us.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 
Ephesians 3: 16-19 NIV

WINTER Photo by Galina N on Unsplash

Jayne E. Self is just one of 55 Canadian contributors in the latest Hot Apple Cider Anthology.

You can also connect with Jayne on Facebook  or at