Thursdays Tips: Rest


It's a potentially restful week. This time between Christmas and New Year’s isn’t jam packed with busy to-dos, at least generally. Some people find it a great time to write. Others take the time off to spend with family. What do you do?

Rest is necessary for coming up with new stories, fresh prose. Rest precedes inspiration a lot of times. Have you noticed that? And spiritual rest the same. I think that may be one of the reasons God commanded a Sabbath. He knew how badly we would need refreshing. For writers, He knew our creativity would need refreshing and that happens best with rest.

Do you have a hard time giving yourself permission to rest? I do sometimes. There is always a long to-do list and not just here in my office. ;) But giving ourselves a rest, obeying this command, is key to thriving.

Lately I’ve noticed eye strain. I thought I might need glasses so I bought readers. But though I can read through them, they make me pretty dizzy. So, I went to the eye doctor. He said I don’t need readers. My eyes are just strained after spending multiple hours at the computer and/or reading. Hmm… what’s to be done for that? Reading is a central element of my work (from writing to editing, how would I do that without reading?). So, what can be done? In a word: Rest.

I encourage you to rest at some point this holiday season. Take advantage of the less hurried pace. Relax and truly let yourself be refreshed. Spend extra time in prayer. It’s a great time of year to review the blessings and lessons of the previous year and receive guidance for the upcoming year. I asked Him, and God gave me a specific verse for 2012 for my own journey. He also gave me a word—a sort of focus word for the year ahead. He’ll do the same for you.

Walk away from your computer, grab up your journal and your Bible, and seek God. Let Him refresh your body and mind.

Then, with rejuvenated creativity you can tackle the writing God has called you to do in the New Year. All His best in 2012!

Make-A-Story™ Monday - This Week's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term. It means writing what the publisher wants. Can you do it? In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements. The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.

A horse
A country road
A silk scarf


With Thanksgiving being late this year, the Christmas season kinda just snuck up on me. Is the same is true for you? The calendar says "Advent" is here, yet up until this past week, I was feeling far from prepared -- in my heart or otherwise. That is until we put up our tree two weeks ago.

As soon as the lights were plugged in, it was like a switch in my heart was turned on as well. This year as never before, the physical acts of preparing for Christmas this week... baking cookies with my children, writing the cards, singing carols... they have all been very special and real reminders of the importance of preparing my heart.

Likewise, I'd like to encourage you to take joy in every little thing that you do over these last few days leading up to Christmas. Whether it's filling stockings, visiting family and friends, listening (or perhaps singing) in a Christmas program, driving by pretty lights, whatever... I hope like me, you'll be able to see these physical reminders in a new "light." May we not merely see them as another thing to check off our lists, but as a means to prepare ourselves for celebrating the greatest gift ever given, Jesus Christ.

My hope for you this year is that you will experience an extraordinary Breath of Heaven as you prepare your home and your heart this Christmas season.

Have a very Merry & Blessed Christmas!
JoAnn

(Photo: Yahoo Images)
--
http://home.comcast.net/~jo.glenncarter

Tactical Tuesday: Advice for Self-Editing

We're still on the subject of comma placement. Here are five more rules to help you self-edit your manuscript into publication:

Comma Rule #11: When composite adjectives are used, a comma is not necessary as each of the adjectives modify each other. However, when coordinate adjectives that modify the noun are used, a comma should be placed between the adjectives.

Example: The murky green waters of the bayou were not enough to prevent the hungry, lurking, predatory gator from searching for a tasty meal.

In the above example, murky describes the green and green describes the waters, while hungry, lurking, and predatory all describe the gator.

Comma Rule #12: When setting out examples introduced by such as or especially, a comma is used.

Example: I love specialty candies, such as truffles and key lime fudge.

Comma Rule #13: Use a comma when a word or a part of a sentence is omitted.

Example: Some classmates I met at my last reunion were successful; some, more so.

Comma Rule #14: When adjectives follow the noun they describe, they are set off with commas.

Example: The picnic table, scarred by the etching of teenage lovers, sits as it has always done beside the concession stand.

Comma Rule #15: When a statement is followed by a confirmatory question, the question is set off from the sentence with a comma.

Example: John will make it here for Christmas, won't he?

Next week we'll discuss the last five rules of comma placement.

Please have a very Merry Christmas.

Make-A-Story™ Monday - This Week's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term. It means writing what the publisher wants. Can you do it? In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements. The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.

A secret passage
A cinnamon candle
A box of seashells

The way in a manger




Yesterday, like many other churches in the UK and probably across the world, we had our carol services. The morning was an all age service with the children taking part and the evening a traditional carol service with readings and a wonderful mix of old and new carols, to both organ and band.

Although a manger isn't where you'd want to lay a new born baby - my daughter has gone as far as parking her playmobil ambulance next to the nativity scene to whisk Mary to the hospital for the birth - it's the very place that the King was laid following his birth. A genuine King size bed.

The children's carol says Away in a manger, no crib for a bed. But Jesus is The Way in a manger. He came from the highest height to the lowest depths. Without the greatest gift of all, there would be no hope, no salvation.

Without Christ, there would be no Christmas. So in between wrapping presents, decorating the tree, singing carols, just take a moment to worship the One who made this possible. Who gave us the forgiveness we don't deserve. And showed us the true meaning of love.

Write the Vision ~ Wednesday

The Great Purse Alarm Incident of 2009

My mother is, well, elderly, and we all worry about her getting out and about. My niece gave her a purse alarm, so if anyone tried to rob her, the sound would deter a would-be thief. The device hooks to your purse and the other end to your wrist. If the purse is jerked away, the two ends separate and a loud, obnoxious (make that very obnoxious) noise fills the air. Easy, right? (It is a great idea.)
So, my mother and I went shopping. I was browsing through clothing and my mom was looking at a rack of clearance shoes, and I could still see her, no one was within ten feet of her tiny little form.
I had just found a nice sweater when I heard an alarm. It was really loud, and I looked to the cash registers first, but the ladies there were craning their necks to find the source of the noise. Then it hit me...it had to be my mom’s purse alarm! I glanced her way, but she was still calming looking at shoes, and her oversized purse was still on her arm. But as more shoppers looked her way I realized it had to be her alarm.
As I walked toward the shoes, the noise grew louder, yet she was still calmly perusing the shoes. The noise was deafening around her-the purse alarm. I smiled and waved to onlookers, assuring them we’d stop the alarm. Finally, she moved in close to me. “I didn’t have the alarm on my wrist, I was holding it. I forgot about it when I saw these shoes and I moved my purse from one arm to the other.” she whispered. “I dropped the other half of the alarm. It’s in one of these shoes.”
It wasn’t attempted robbery, alarm malfunction...it was simply user error— to my great relief. But later, as I thought back, the incident reminding me of 1 Corinthians 13:1
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. (or a purse alarm that won’t stop beeping because you dropped the other half of it in a shoe)
The alarm wasn’t much good when you didn’t use it correctly. As I applied this to my life, I thought about how God gave us user instructions. The Bible. And how the Bible clearly states we need to first have love to properly function. And no matter what I do—write, edit, post a blog— for me to “work correctly” I must do whatever I do in love. I had gotten so wrapped up (no pun intended) in Christmas, I was so busy, I wasn’t following my instructions.
And after the “Great Purse Alarm Incident of 2009” as I purchased the remainder of my gifts, made the ten dozen or so cookies, attended various functions, I was reminded by a simple purse alarm to remember the Reason for the Season, the Love God showed for us by sending His Son, Jesus.

Tactical Tuesday: Advice for Self-Editing

Sometimes it is good to play a comma by ear: place one where there is a natural pause in narrative or dialogue. As with everything done to bring style to prose, overdoing it mutes the tone. Too much playing by ear gives the wrong impression, and not one an author would like an editor to have. What should be style becomes mundane or it may leave the impression that an author doesn't know why and where a comma should be placed. This is why learning the rules for comma placement is important.

Continuing on with the list of comma rules:

Comma Rule #6: When an expression or a conjunctive adverb is embedded within a sentence, they should be set off with commas.

Example: Mary and John, wouldn’t you know, ran off together to the writers’ conference. We should, therefore, be ready to learn all we can from them when they return.

Comma Rule #7: When a sentence is directed toward someone, that person, however addressed, is set off by commas:

Example: John, did you enjoy the conference.
Where have you been, sweetheart?

Comma Rule #8: A comma follows exclamations as well as yes and no when starting a sentence.

Example: Oh, you didn’t? Yes, you did. Yikes, are you ever in trouble.

Comma Rule #9: Adverbs that introduce a sentence are followed by a comma.

Example: Obviously, you were oblivious to the trouble in which you found yourself.

Comma Rule #10: When writing out city and state, month, day,and year in a sentence, the second item is set off by commas.

Example: Drew was born in London, England, on October 9, 1979, but his family moved to New York on January 1, 1981.

Next week we'll cover a few more rules for comma placement.

Happy editing!

Make-A-Story™ Monday - This Week's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term. It means writing what the publisher wants. Can you do it? In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements. The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.

A night in the woods
Special pancakes
An old photograph

Thursday's Tips -- Dialog

Great dialog is hard to write. No one wants to read dull words, even if they echo true-to-life exchanges, like: 

“Hello, Nancy.”

“Hi, Carol.”

“How are you?”

“I’m well, how are you?”

Cue reader: skim... So, the better approach hit me this morning while I brushed my teeth. (Inspiration hits at the funnies times, doesn't it?) It’s a great method that takes some practice, but works well if you, as the writer, can be objective. Ready?

Have you ever played Uno by yourself?

Our family of six used to sit around and play Uno when I was growing up. Such a fun, simple game. Of course, the older we got, the more strategies we learned. Sometimes, my sister and I would play alone, just the two of us. Our turn rolled around a lot faster and those “Skip” and “Reverse” cards meant something brand new: more turns!

But there were times when my siblings were busy. At those times, I’d play alone. I’ve done that with other card games too. Have you? You sit there, deal up two hands, pick up one and get the cards into place. Call this Player A. You choose the blue #7 and play it, strategizing what you’ll do next turn. You’ve got a plan. Player A is going to win!

Next, it’s Player B’s turn. You put down your handful of cards and pick up Player B’s stack. Order them. Plan your attack. And if you’re objective, you don’t concern yourself with what Player A is “holding.” You play to win. Then, Player B’s turn over, you grab for Player A’s hand and make specific choices given what Player A is holding.

Let’s apply this to dialog. When your characters are talking, especially if they’re arguing, get into each of their heads. Take turns, like with playing cards. Have a goal for each (“I want to win!”), a motivation (“Winning makes me feel good!”), and a plan (“This strategy will work.”). Act as if that character is the only winner in the conversation/argument. This speaker is ready to take on this conversation. Do the same with the other character.

Suddenly, your dialog comes alive with subtext (what the characters aren’t saying) and the characters’ strengths shine (no passive protags here). Readers will stay engaged in the pages of dialog, no risk of them skimming ahead.

Dialog should move the story along, provide reveals, engage readers. Don’t hold back. If the story calls for it, don't be afraid to let your characters argue. Make each “Player” play to win. Be in that character’s head fully while considering how they’d respond. Be as objective as possible.

Using this practice will help fire up your characters’ exchanges. Try it. And write on!

The Christmas Bells



Every year-- for the past eighteen years-- I've gotten a Christmas bell from a local potter. They're all different. Each is unique and every year there's a new design on them. Sadly,last year the shelf with my bells was knocked off the wall. Only two of them cracked and that was a miracle. While my bells can be glued back together, so they look pretty, there's nothing I can do that will make them ring again.

As I pondered the accident, a thought grew. Each one of us is like a bell, with our own voice. Sometimes we might sit on a shelf, other times we ring clearly--and sometimes we might get damaged, perhaps we've "glued ourselves back together" so our damage isn't apparent. But we have more than glue. We have a Master Potter who can mold us and shape us. And if we get cracked and broken, we can ring again.

That is the beauty of inspirational fiction, we can tell the story of broken souls and how they're mended by the Potter's loving hands.

May God richly bless each of you during this Christmas season!

Tactical Tuesdays: Advice for Self-Editing

Commas are the musical notes of your manuscript. Some have mastered the melody by taking time to learn to read the music. Others simply play it by ear. Listening to the tune and playing it is fine if you have a sense of rhythm and can hear the notes being played. Take away that ability, and you’re simply banging on the keys. This is somewhat true for comma placement as well.

There are some comma rules that shouldn’t be broken. Doing so will make your prose sound tinny or not well crafted. Other times a misplaced comma might be the oomph your sentence needs to make it ring. Properly placed commas show mastery while too many commas placed wherever an author feels one should go, scream of unprofessionalism.

For the next few weeks, let’s talk commas. Learning a few each week and applying them to your manuscript or editing with an eye toward proper placement will help to re-enforce these rules.

Comma Rule 1: Two main ideas (or independent statements), which can stand alone and are connected by a coordinate conjunction, need a comma before the conjunction.

Example: John wanted to learn about commas, but Mary decided it was a waste of time.

When either sentence is a dependent clause (can’t stand alone), the comma is not utilized.

Example: John had wanted to learn about commas but decided it was a waste of time.

The word so when used alone is a coordinate conjunction, and when placed between two independent statements, it requires a comma. Add the word that and a comma is no longer necessary.

Comma Rule 2: When contrast is made in a sentence by the use of a pair of coordinates, a comma is not used.

Example: Neither Jane nor John wanted to take the time to learn the rules of comma placement.

Comma Rule 3: When lengthy introductory phrases (with grammatical names we will not go into now) are utilized before the introduction of the main idea, a comma is utilized to set off that phrase from the main idea. A short introductory phrase may also require a comma depending upon the clarity of the sentence.

Example: If I don’t master the rules of punctuation, how will I know when to break them?

Note: If the sentence is changed, and the introductory clause is moved to the end of the sentence, a comma is not utilized.

Example: How will I know when to break them if I don’t master the rules of punctuation?

Comma Rule 4: When a sentence has a series of three or more, a comma is utilized.

Mary bought a book on grammar, a tutorial on punctuation, and a DVD on writing with style.

Note that a comma is included before the word and. Also, care should be used when the sentence includes two words that naturally flow together.

Example: John decided he wanted food and purchased macaroni and cheese, pork and beans, and a chocolate brownie.

Comma Rule 5: A comma is used to separate information not necessary in understanding a sentence.

Example: Mary, a writer, loves grammar.

However, if the information is necessary to the sentence, the comma is not utilized.

Example: That man who never read a book knows more rules of grammar than John or Mary. [The who never read a book can be omitted, but the impact of the sentence would not be the same.]

In the same way, a word or group of words that adds meaning to the main idea but is not necessary, should be offset by commas.

Example: John, Mary’s friend, drove her to the bookstore.

Reword the sentence and a comma is not utilized.

Example: Mary’s friend John drove her to the bookstore.

However, if John is Mary’s only friend, you will want to utilize the commas around his name to distinguish him as such.

Next week we’ll cover more of the rules regarding commas. Until then,

Happy critting.

Make-A-Story™ Monday - This Week's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term. It means writing what the publisher wants. Can you do it? In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements. The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.

An antique thimble
A book of poetry
A flight attendant

New...from the Sweet Treats Bakery Series


Tessa’s Teacakes by Mary Manners

Tessa, the youngest Spencer sister--and the most impulsive--rushes into the Mount Ridge crisis center bent on saving her brother-in-law. She's ready to handle Brent's abductor, with or without help. What she's not ready to handle is the effect policeman, Colin Phillips, has on her. Romance is the last thing on Tessa's mind. She longs for the adventure and fast-pace of New York City, not being tied to Mount Ridge and a man who insists she shouldn't be so impetuous. After all "independent spirit" is what Tessa does best!

Colin transferred from the police force in Atlanta in order to find closure after the brutal murder of his younger sister. He wants a nice, safe future, not one filled with caring and worrying about another impulsive woman. His sister was naive and unpredictable, and while Colin is drawn to Tessa's spunk and vitality, her willingness to rush into danger scares him. No way could he cope with another devastating loss. His heart must remain closed where Tessa is concerned.

But God has His own plans--and His own way of changing hearts and cultivating love.
http://www.marymannersromance.com

New...from The Sweet Treats Bakery Series





Tessa’s Teacakes

Tessa, the youngest Spencer sister--and the most impulsive--rushes into the Mount Ridge crisis center bent on saving her brother-in-law. She's ready to handle Brent's abductor, with or without help. What she's not ready to handle is the effect policeman, Colin Phillips, has on her. Romance is the last thing on Tessa's mind. She longs for the adventure and fast-pace of New York City, not being tied to Mount Ridge and a man who insists she shouldn't be so impetuous. After all "independent spirit" is what Tessa does best!

Colin transferred from the police force in Atlanta in order to find closure after the brutal murder of his younger sister. He wants a nice, safe future, not one filled with caring and worrying about another impulsive woman. His sister was naive and unpredictable, and while Colin is drawn to Tessa's spunk and vitality, her willingness to rush into danger scares him. No way could he cope with another devastating loss. His heart must remain closed where Tessa is concerned.

But God has His own plans--and His own way of changing hearts and cultivating love.

Write the Vision ~ Wednesday

While recently reading the book of Jonah a thought hit me--as writers of Christian fiction perhaps there are stories we don't want to write, yet those characters and plots keep coming back to us and just won't leave. Perhaps the message is a powerful one, or a painful one. Maybe we don't feel we can handle such a topic-kind of like Jonah didn't feel like going to Ninevah.

While preparing for this I found a post from the blog site of Rev. Michael Duncan on being led that seemed to touch on the points I'd been pondering. I want to encourage you if there is something that has gripped you, something maybe you don't want to tackle, a painful topic, a difficult story--remember God never asks us to do more than we can and no matter what, He will be with us every step of the way.

With Michael's permission, I've reposted his blog.

“Feeling Led” – A Dangerous Principle to Live By

Some time ago I presented to a congregation of Christians an opportunity to reach into the community with the Gospel. After I shared with the church the great potential to bring God’s light into a dark corner of the world, I was approached with a common, but troubling statement: “Pastor, I don’t feel led to do that.” Was this statement a response to a prayer? Several weeks prior to this presentation a dear saint prayed: “Lord, bring those who feel led to participate.”

Several days passed as I pondered the twin statements and wondered if “feeling led” was at all a Biblical principle to live by. As I studied and thought and prayed through this issue I came to the conclusion that if obedience to God is built on feelings it becomes little more than trumped up spiritual anarchy, transforming personal reluctance into a spiritual virtue.

I could be mistaken, I could have missed the passage that says: “Go forth if you feel like it,” but I suspect that if the truth were revealed, those who claim that they don’t “feel led” actually just don’t want to.

But is a feelings-based obedience a Biblical truth? There are specific commands that God gives in His word where obedience is the only acceptable response, commands that call upon God’s people to join with God through sacrificial faithfulness—but what if a believer doesn’t “feel led” to do it? Is that God’s way of telling the individual believer that they are exempt from personal obedience?

Let’s begin by applying that standard to the Lord Jesus. In the garden of Gethsemane, He told the disciples that His soul was “overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Mt. 26:38). His feelings were very clear—he wanted to be freed from the great sacrifice that loomed before Him. Jesus cried out to the Father, “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me” (Mt. 26:39). However, the rest of the story is clear when Jesus commits to the Father’s will, “Not as I will, but as you will.” Apply this to the disciples and you will discover the same truth, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). As I said, I could have missed it and there could be a Biblical principle of feelings-based obedience, but I’ve not found it.

I think the issue is not whether a believer “feels” led to obey God but whether that same believer has fully committed to following God no matter what they feel. It may be that participation in the church will require a sacrifice of time, talents or treasure and that some might not want to participate. However, don’t cloak reluctance in the garb of some over-spiritualized feeling. As a pastor, I would much rather have one of our members simply say they don’t want to do the work rather than tell me they don’t “feel led” by God to participate. It might be that God has other duties for the believer, but I’ve not discovered where He leads them to obedience through their feelings.

Every believer is called upon to be a living sacrifice. From what I understand, the sacrifice is never asked if it feels like going to the altar. Perhaps, if church members would discover that their feelings are not God’s direction, there would be far more workers laboring for the Master.


*****
Thank you to Rev. Michael Duncan, author of Shadows: Book of Aleth Part I

Count Your Blessings

Sometimes I’m so caught up in the day-to-day bustle of life that I forget how very blessed I am. The holiday season is a time to reflect…and hopefully take a moment to slow down long enough to draw a breath, step back, and count the many blessings that fill my life.

I’m thankful for a loving husband—a man with whom a share a real-life romance filled with love and laughter, adventure and fun (I tell my husband he’s cheap entertainment). Tim supports and encourages my passion for sharing the written word. I’m so thankful God brought him into my life.

I’m thankful for my daughter, Danni, who has grown into a beautiful young woman. Danni illuminates my life with her loving, generous spirit. She’s friend to everyone, and has a special place in her heart for the elderly and the hurting. She is truly a blessing to me.

My friends, especially my precious writing friends, are a reason to give thanks. These wonderful people completely understand when I mention the ‘voices’ that speak to me while I’m writing. I love them dearly.

But, most of all, I am thankful for my Lord and Savior, who has given all of this and more to me. What an amazing blessing to know His love and grace are never-ending.

So, as this holiday season begins, I wish you blessings and peace, dear friends. May you take a moment to draw a breath, step back, and count the many blessings that fill your life.

Tactical Tuesdays: Advice for Self-Editing

Let’s talk about the power of the paragraph. A story, no matter how small, cannot be told without this form of punctuation. Yes, that’s right. A paragraph is a form of punctuation—a mark of separation. Used correctly, it can build your story. Use it incorrectly, and it will tear it apart. Add some panache to your paragraph style, and you take your story to an all new level.

Many modern readers will often subconsciously scan a page. Why? Because we’re a fast-paced society. A long, drawn out paragraph slows us down.

Here’s a secret. Many editors consciously scan a page. Why? Because readers live in a fast-paced society, and long, drawn out paragraphs slow them down.

Don’t misunderstand. In self-editing your paragraph structure, an author doesn’t necessarily want to eliminate every lengthy block of text. She does want to scrutinize every word, making sure each one relates to the main idea of that particular paragraph. If a sentence isn’t part of that main idea, it’s time for a new paragraph.

Dialogue without an attribute or a tag should stand alone as a paragraph. Add character action, and a self-editor must be sure that the action and the dialogue of the same character stay together and are not intermingled with the action or the dialogue of another character.

“Susie went to the store.” Mary pulled the cookies from the stove. Joe sat at the table. “She’s buying more flour.” She stole a glance in his direction.

Most readers would need to reread that paragraph. As structured, you can't be sure who's speaking the last line. Do this too many times to a reader, and an author stands a strong chance of losing the reader’s interest.

"Susie went to the store.” Mary pulled the cookies from the stove.

Joe sat at the table.

“She’s buying more flour.” She stole a glance in his direction.


The proper break, keeping a character's dialogue and action together, prevents the reader from being jarred out of the story trying to determine who did or said what.

And what about the panache that can take your writing to new levels?

The paragraph below is in proper format. The main topic, as written, is the heroine’s description of the hero.

Not a tall drink of water. His under six foot height complements my five foot six frame. There’s something raw and attractive about his wispy brown strands that seem to settle anywhere they wish on his head. A touch of an overbite keeps him from appearing like a cardboard cutout of a Ken doll. No, he isn’t perfect. Who needs perfect? But it’s not his good looks alone that capture my attention. He bears a look about him of danger, as if he lives life on the edge. Yet in his coffee-colored eyes he wears a cloak of calm composure. He has something under control, but what it is I’m too afraid to discover. He’s hot—like the diamond I lifted from the counter of Tiffany’s. And his British accent only completes the package.

Using the paragraph break to her advantage, putting an emphasis on certain portions of the text, an author can show the reader there’s much more to the heroine’s description than first meets the eye:

Not a tall drink of water. His under six foot height complements my five foot six frame. There’s something raw and attractive about his wispy brown strands that seem to settle anywhere they wish on his head. A touch of an overbite keeps him from appearing like a cardboard cutout of a Ken doll.

No, he isn’t perfect. Who needs perfect?

But it’s not his good looks alone that capture my attention. He bears a look about him of danger, as if he lives life on the edge. Yet in his coffee-colored eyes he wears a cloak of calm composure.

He has something under control, but what it is, I’m too afraid to discover.

He’s hot—like the diamond I lifted from the counter of Tiffany’s.

And his British accent only completes the package.


Oh, no, from start to finish this information isn’t telling us about the hero’s looks. A few well-placed paragraph breaks and the reader is shown a very indepth look at the heroine. Even the seemingly innocuous last line lets the reader know that despite her reservations, she's still going to pursue her man. And why shouldn't she? Our little jewel thief is as dangerous as the hero.

And that’s how styling your paragraphs can take your writing to an entirely different level.

Until next week, happy editing!

Make-A-Story™ Monday - This Week's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term. It means writing what the publisher wants. Can you do it? In our new feature - Make-A-Story™, we ask you to create a story with these elements. The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.

A crystal vase
A fancy box of chocolates
A smart dog

Write the Vision ~ Wednesday

1 Chronicles 16:8
Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the people.

1 Chronicles 16:34
O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever.


Thanks to each author who has answered the call to Write the Vision.
Happy Thanksgiving

...let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Colossians 3:15

Tactical Tuesday: Advice for Self Editing

Point of view versus head hopping—what is the difference? A fine line, or in writer speak, a scene or chapter break, is usually the determining factor. Quite simply, point-of-view changes become head hopping when they are done within the same scene. Head hopping short changes the reader. The omniscient take, knowing things outside the purview of the POV character, does not allow the reader to fully emotionally connect with characters.

Single point of view within a scene or a chapter allows the reader inside the character's head, experiencing what that individual is experiencing. The deeper the point of view, the more satisfying the story.

A self-editing checklist for point-of-view (POV) would include eyeing your manuscript with the following in mind:

1) Does each scene of your story start with a paragraph which plainly sets the stage and lets the reader know which character is the lead character? Note: the POV character should always be the character with the most to win or lose in a scene.

2) Is there anything mentioned within the scene that would be outside the knowledge of the POV character? For instance, does the character know another character’s name though they’ve just met and have no previous knowledge of one another?

3) Within the scene, does any narrative betray the POV character’s mindset? In other words, if the hero believes the heroine is at fault for a tragic accident, though the reader (and the character) will find out later this is not true, narrative within the POV character’s scene should not tell the reader otherwise. There is nothing wrong and something totally satisfying about a reader learning the truth when the POV character learns it.

4) Are titles and names consistent with the POV character’s pattern of thought? If Mary Henderson has always been known to the hero as Mom, he isn’t likely to refer to her in thought or narrative as Mrs. Henderson or Mary. She’d most likely be referred to as Mom or his mother.

5) Does the POV character have a tendency to describe herself? Individuals don’t usually describe themselves to themselves. It is best to let description of a character flow through the POV of another character. An exception to this rule could be a character studying herself in the mirror—but make sure there’s a good reason for this to occur, other than simply providing description.

6) Are your POV characters prone to reading minds? This is the most subtle POV change of all, and these show up primarily in action tags. For example: Paul snorted at Terri in disgust. This sentence is fine if Paul is the POV character. Make Terri the POV character, and you’ve ever-so-slightly changed POV. Terri could guess that Paul is disgusted, but she can’t know for sure. Better: Paul snorted at Terri in what she assumed was disgust. Better yet: Let Terri respond: "What was that about? You have no reason to be upset with me."

Along with telling as opposed to showing, certain words also draw readers a step away from a character’s POV. Watch out for the following phrases: He knew, she saw, he realized, she thought, she understood, and similar wording. Whenever possible, eliminate these from your narrative. Allow the reader to experience the scene as if they are the character. For example: “He saw her run into the street” is stronger when written “She ran into the street.” If POV is clearly established at the first of the scene, the reader understands that this is what the character is seeing.

Until next week, happy editing!

Make-A-Story ™ Monday - This Week's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term. It means writing what the publisher wants. Can you do it? In our new feature - Make-A-Story ™, we ask you to create a story with these elements. The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.

A rocking chair
A stolen baby
A boat

Write the Vision ~ Wednesday

Habakkuk 2:2
And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables...

Inspirational books are not just stories. Christian fiction has that extra ingrediant in addition to a great plot, compelling characters, and active dialog. They're more than three dimensional. There's that important fourth dimension... a Christian message. Without that component we have — fiction.

So what are some guidelines and pointers when writing an inspirational to ensure that fourth element of spirituality is addressed? Prayer is always a great starting point.

For research, by far the best place to look is Scripture. Jesus often spoke in parables those earthly stories with heavenly meanings. The Old Testament as well is filled passages that speak on so very many different levels. The book of Esther comes to mind-a vibrant story of a woman who saves her people, but there's so much more!

Here are some general questions that may be of assistance as you write and proof your inspirational fiction.

1. Will it help the believer grow?
2. Will it share the Gospel with unbelievers?
3. Will the Lord be glorified?


Happy Writing!
Is.62:10

Tactical Tuesday: Advice for Self-Editing

When self-editing, authors should put their back stories through a rigorous interrogation, or a vetting process, to determine the necessity of the information. Here are some important questions to ask when self-editing your back story content:

Mr. Back Story, how do you plan to show yourself?
If Mr. Back Story stutters at this point in the interrogation, it’s because he most likely didn’t plan to show anything. He wanted to tell the history, probably in one massive block of information and most likely he wanted to dump it all into the first chapter. There’s something every writer should know about this technique. It doesn’t work unless the author’s intent is to slam the front story to a screeching halt and spin the reader in a 180-degree turn for a visit back to the past. This is a sure-fire way for an author to have his novel tossed onto a rejection pile.

Mr. Back Story, what relevance do you have to the plot?
As in front story, everything brought to light through back story must be relevant to the overall plot. A reader doesn’t care if a character received a bike on her seventh birthday unless the writer gives them a reason to care. For example, the bike is the last gift the heroine’s father gave to her before he disappeared one cold, February night.

Mr. Back Story, how do you plan to present yourself in the manuscript?
If back story is necessary, it is most effectively delivered via layering it into the manuscript in such a way that the front story doesn’t even slow for a stop sign. In other words, the showing of a character’s history should make the reader want to keep turning the page to discover more about that character. Let’s look at the gift from the heroine’s Dad again. Our heroine, Maggie, is currently twenty-eight-years-old. Dad has been out of her life for twenty-one of those years. Maggie’s little girl, Ellie, is also growing up without a father. Maggie hasn’t thought of her dad in a while. What brings on the thoughts of the past?

Maybe Christmas morning has arrived. Maggie awakens and slips by the room where her little girl is asleep. She tiptoes past the guest room she’s given to her visiting mother. Downstairs, she moves to her living room to take a last moment look at the beautiful lights on the Christmas tree and the unwrapped packages underneath its branches. There to the side of the tree is a shiny dark blue bike with a silver bell and blue and silver streamers flowing from the handlebars. Maggie walks over and bends down beside it. She runs her hand over the seat. Tears well up in her eyes. “Just like the one Daddy gave me years ago before he left me.”

Not only is there potentially powerful back story in a few words spoken by the heroine, but there is room to let the back story continue to unfold. Layers keep the audience reading because they are asking questions that must be answered later in the book. In this example, the reader is sure to want to know the answers to two questions: Why did Maggie’s dad leave her, and where did he go? And this leads us to the next question in our interrogation.

Mr. Back Story, what do you have of offer to the front story that can’t be done without you?
If the answer isn’t conflict, emotion, or surprise, or better yet, all three, it might be time to rethink its value.

Let’s say the story is a romance. What kind of conflict does a missing father bring into a romance? The possibilities abound, but here are three: Maggie’s trust in men could be shaken by the abandonment of her father. Maybe Maggie is drawn to the wrong type of man because she grew up without a father in her home. Thinking herself in love with bad boy Josh, she doesn’t see how badly he treats Ellie. When handsome hero, Brian, enters the picture, she isn’t willing to let him into her heart. What if Maggie is constantly looking for her father in the men she dates, but none live up to the fairytale image she has of him. Conflict. Conflict. Conflict. And where there is conflict, there is most often emotion.

On the other hand, what happens to the story if Maggie’s mother walks into the living room? “Maggie, how did you ever find a bike for Ellie exactly like the one your father gave you?” Maggie turns to her mother. “What? I thought you bought it for her?”

Surprise!

In the end, the vetting process for back story should result in a manuscript that presents its characters’ histories in a way that 1) is shown and not told (usually in small blocks at integrals throughout the manuscript); 2) is relevant to the story; 3) tends to leave the reader wanting to know more about the character; and 4) develops conflict and emotion or presents a surprise for the reader.

My Life With Bears…


I was not born an adventurer. I married into it. This because the Captain -- besides being a captain -- was a naturalist. Every chance he got on land, he wanted to walk in the woods, along the beach, or on some mountain. Not that I minded, as I am rather enthralled with nature, myself. However, as our forays into wilderness places went deeper and deeper, we began to encounter wildlife that was larger than simply birds in the air, or crabs on a beach. And eventually, we ended up in that place of all places… Alaska. Where most of the remaining bears on this continent reside (whether that's true, or not, I am convinced of it). 

First of all, let me say that there are a lot of real characters who live in Alaska. And every one of them has a bear story. Usually more than one. The most popular of which is, "If you ever go hunting, or fishing out in the bush, make sure it is with somebody you can outrun." This because it is a known fact that bears can outrun humans within a mere few seconds, and one's only hope for survival lies in a good  distraction. Which I did not find very funny. 

Imagine my dismay, then, when -- to the Captain's delight -- we were able to acquire a bit of land within two miles of one of the three known denning areas for Grizzly bears in the entire state. We could build ourselves a cabin there! My first look at it was appalling. Not that it wasn't breathtakingly beautiful. We could see Denali (the highest peak on the continent) from there. What appalled me was the fact that it was overgrown with foliage that was over my head in most places. And if it was one thing I knew from listening to all those stories: bears do not like to be startled when they are resting in places like that. Or when they are eating berries. There were multiple varieties of berries from one end to the other of our new property. A veritable paradise for bears. 

I am ashamed to say that the cabin was well under way before I even ventured off the running board of the truck while we were there. Not only that, I had taken to singing, or reciting poetry, at the top of my lungs (truly out of character for me, as I am usually quite the shy person). Which really irritated the Captain, since he wanted to observe these giant carnivores in their own native habitat, and I was forever scaring them away. But I couldn't help it. When our neighbors -- a Native family, nearly half a mile away through the woods -- confided to us that the most important thing when encountering bears was never to run away from them (stare them down!)… Well, I even took to running off like a crazy person, at the slightest stirring of underbrush. Which is what started the "grabbing each other syndrome." 

The Captain would grab me by the scruff of my jacket and force me to stand still, whenever we heard a noise. Which almost always turned out to be nothing even remotely close. In turn, I would grab the back of his coat when he tried to dart off to catch a glimpse of something he had heard. If anyone had seen us, they would have thought we were fighting. Well, we were. And the only thing that saved my sanity was the eventual familiarity we began to share with the bears, themselves. 

They didn't want to encounter us anymore than we wanted to encounter them.

They actually changed their route down to the salmon stream for us. Instead of cutting through our property like they had for many years, they started going around. In time, they learned our habits as much as we learned theirs. And somewhere along the line, we have mutually agreed not to invade each other's territory. In the more than twenty years since we have been visiting our cabin there, we have never had a confrontation with each other… though we often see one another through the trees. Which is more than I can say for the black bears in the area.

But then, that's another story.

Make-A-Story ™ Monday - This Week's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term. It means writing what the publisher wants. Can you do it? In our new feature - Make-A-Story ™, we ask you to create a story with these elements. The story can be set in any time frame, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.

A lantern
A recreational vehicle
A National park

A Pear Tree Becomes A Legacy

Over 30 years have passed since my father transplanted a pear tree in the back yard. He was big on fruit trees, nurturing them and watching them flourish. Ten years after we moved from Hickory Valley, Tennessee, Dad drove 110 miles back just to dig up a fig bush we'd left behind. It now grows on the south side next to the house.

Today, both the fig bush and pear tree produce abundantly. Daddy lived long enough to taste the figs, but passed away before the pear tree produced. I remember him digging around it, fertilizing, and wondering aloud if it ever would bear fruit.

Over the years the fruit continues to increase. In the past month while visiting my mother, I've gathered three bags full of the delicious fruit. Mama has called in friends and neighbors to share in the bounty besides giving loads of pears to us kids. Still, innumerable pears hang on the tree and at least a hundred are scattered beneath it.

While gathering the pears, I contemplated on what Daddy would think if he knew what his efforts had wrought. What if he does know? What if God allows people to look down from heaven and see the fruit their life has produced in the lives of others?

I picked up my heavy sack and returned to the house to find Mama seated in the kitchen working on a Word-Find. She laid it aside as I heaved the sack up onto the table and asked, "Do you think Daddy ever considered he might be leaving a legacy behind when he planted the pear tree? I wonder what he'd say if he knew people come from miles around to gather pears."

She shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know, but it seems the tree produces more fruit every year."

A gift that keeps on giving. Who can count the jars of preserves that have been canned from that one tree? I know my dad would be pleased to share his bounty with his small community. You see, he was a giving person.

This brought something else to contemplate. Does everyone leave a legacy? I knew the answer as soon as I asked myself the question. Yes. Whether we know it or not, something we say, or an act of kindness we show to another can become a legacy--changing the person's life. Who knows what results may someday emerge from those kind words or deeds?

My fifth-grade teacher did not live long enough to learn she'd planted a dream in my heart when she announced to our class, "One day Laurie will become an author."

Her words were planted in my heart and not forgotten. Even though I nurtured them through the years, (journaling and writing poetry) three decades passed before I acted on them.

My prayer is for the words I write to become my legacy. For this reason I must always write what God directs and inspires. My desire is for readers to be emotionally healed and blessed through my stories.

The highest compliment I've received? When a reader turns to me and says, "Thank you. Don't ever stop writing. You will never know how much your story helped me."

Tactical Tuesday: Advice for Self-Editing

Do you realize that when an author sends a manuscript to an editor, she is sending an extension of herself? What an editor sees in the first chapter is the first impression of the author—a faceless interview of sorts.

Is your chapter appearing for an interview dressed in cargo shorts and a t-shirt? Is it wearing a baseball cap? Maybe your chapter has walked into this very important first meeting sporting flip flops. On the other hand, has your chapter arrived for the appointment dressed in a nice suit, carrying a briefcase, dress shoes sounding on the marble floor as it approaches the office?

Just as it takes an employer a few moments to sum up an unworthy job candidate, an editor will often make a decision to take or leave a manuscript within the first chapter, and sometimes all it takes is one or two pages. The difference between a manuscript dressed for the beach versus one dressed to impress is in the care given to it by the author before sending it off to represent him or her. A carelessly edited manuscript shows up for the interview like a job candidate who’d clearly rather be anywhere other than interviewing for a highly desirable position.

How does an author prepare her manuscript for a favorable impression? She studies the overall fashion: grammar, punctuation, plot, structure, technique, style, and voice. Then she reviews her work to assure it is appropriately attired for the marketplace.

When an author learns to outfit her manuscript—understands where a comma is expected, the main function for a semicolon, the difference between active and passive sentences, the building block of scene structure to develop a dynamic plot, the necessity of conflict, the reason we adhere to a single point of view in each scene—she can then use this knowledge to maximum effect. In other words, she can dress her manuscript for success.

Join us each week for Tactical Tuesdays where we’ll provide helpful advice for self-editing so your manuscript can walk into an interview prepared to win the position.

Monday Make-a-Story™ - This Week's Writing Prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term. It means writing what the publisher wants. Can you do it? In our Monday writing prompt feature - Make-A-Story ™, we ask you to create a story with these elements. The story can be set in any time period, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.
Submit your story to us at any time using our regular submission guidelines, but be sure to note which Make-A-Story ™ prompt (note the date and the prompts) inspired your story.


Today's prompt:

A balcony scene
A cantankerous old guy
A doughnut

Never Too Late

I was in Utah, serving the Lord and the U.S. Air Force at Hill Air Force Base. The chaplain of the base, a friend and encourager in my life, asked me to fill in for him at a rescue mission in the city of Ogden. It was my first time to preach a sermon in front of a live audience. I had led Bible studies, shared my testimony and generally spent some time in a variety of “public” ministries, but never had I preached in front of an actual gathering of people. I was young (far younger than I am now).

When I arrived at the mission I encountered a man who, to see him, looked like one of those wizened prophets from a movie like The Ten Commandments. He sat in a small, constricted cubicle, little more than a closet with a desk and chair. The grey-haired man poured over the Bible as if the words might fall off the page lest he read it. I watched his shriveled fingers work a pen on paper and his head move back and forth as he studied.

In the crowded room, as other men ate the meager meal, the mission director approached me. He had noticed my interest in the old man and placed his hand on my shoulder.

“What do you see?” he asked.

“An old man, studying,” I said, curious as to the obvious nature of the question.

“Why don’t you go and talk with him.” So, at his encouragement, I entered the small chamber and stood over the desk. The man looked up. His wrinkled eyes smiled and he offered a bearded, toothless grin.

“Can I help you?” he asked.

My curiosity was in full vigor but I simply asked, “What are you doing?”

“Preparing for the ministry… God’s called me to preach!” His enthusiasm rumbled in his graveled voice.

I left that night, but returned week after week to help the work of the mission. Each night he was there, alone in his hole, eyes fixed on the Bible. He was little more than an oddity to me, a sixty-two year old man who lived on the streets most of his life and didn’t fit the picture of a man behind a pulpit. Then one day he was gone.

To make a long story short, I asked the director and he told me what happened. Several weeks prior, the old man sent his information to a small church near Chicago. God opened a door for that man and, at the spry age of sixty-two, he took on his first pastorate.

It’s never too late.

God calls a man who is eighty to take a nation and lead them to a promised land. God calls a man who is one-hundred and gives him and his ninety-year-old wife a son. God calls a man who is five-hundred to build a boat—a boat that won’t be finished for one-hundred and twenty years.

A good friend of mine struggles with the idea that it is too late for him. He wonders if, perhaps, opportunity has passed him by and all that is left is to wait for the end. What I’ve discovered from God’s word is that there is no such thing as an expiration date when it comes to serving the Lord—except when God says that your time on this earth is over.

In Ezekiel 37:11 it says, “Then he said to me: ‘Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.”’”

There are many who feel this way. I know I have. You might feel as if your time is up, that you are dried bones with no life left to give. Or you might think that the hope of accomplishing any ambitious goal for the Lord has vanished like mist off a meadow. You might even believe God Himself has abandoned you and that you are cut off from all opportunity.

You need to read verse 12: “Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.’”

God can and does work restoration for His people. You might think that death is the final loss of opportunity—except for Lazarus, Tabitha, that fellow who fell on Elisha’s bones, all those who escaped their graves at the death of the Lord Jesus, a young man who fell out a window, and the list goes on. Not even death can thwart the plans that God has for His people.

Have you struggled with the notion that you’re work is shelved? It’s not. The idea that you’re time has passed is not from God. Even if you think that you have wasted precious moments and squandered opportunities, you must believe that the chance for momentum is not beyond your reach. Josiah became a king at the age of eight, and Moses didn’t start his ministry until the spry age of eighty. Time is not the deciding factor when it comes to serving God. Because God can put an old man in the pulpit, long after society gave up on him.

Your call to serve the Lord is not just about this moment. It has the potential to reach far beyond you but you have a choice to make. Will you wallow in the mire of self-doubt or rise up and lay claim to your calling from God. Don’t dwell on how much time has passed, focus on how much time is left and use it for the glory of the Lord.

Michael Duncan, Author
Shadows: Book of Aleth, Part One (find it also at Amazon.com)

Changing Names & Address

Good morning,

We'll soon be changing our look and our blog address. As most of you know, White Rose Publishing has been a division of Pelican Ventures, LLC for a couple of years now. With the October launch of our new Christian fiction imprint, Harbourlight Books, we've decided to build one "roof." Soon, this blog will be a "Pelican" blog that will include all things relevant to both White Rose and Harbourlight.

And yes, I know we've been a little AWOL on this blog for a while, but we'll get back to regular posts shortly. Thanks for sticking around.

Hope you enjoy!

Blessings,
Nicola Martinez, Editor-in-Chief

Smuggler of the Heart, a sweet little "snowy" read ~


Wow, I don't know about you, but we had snow this weekend! I said to one of my boys on the way to church yesterday, "It looks more like Christmas out here than Thanksgiving." :)

This morning, as I was getting ready to stoke up our wood stove I thought how lovely it would be to curl up for a bit with a nice warm blanket, hot drink and a book. If you feel the same way, perhaps you'd enjoy this story~

Blurb:
Disheartened and tired, Samantha Warren returns to Vermont during the winter break. Her passion for history rekindles after finding an old smuggler's chest hidden in her grandparents' attic. Will she be able to return to New Jersey without her heart being smuggled like the chest once was? Or is it already too late?


Excerpt:

Samantha gingerly reached for the newfound treasure. A rush of adrenaline coursed through her body, and her nerves jingled the instant her fingers caressed the soft, worn wood. Just as she knew her own name, she knew there was something special about the small chest.

“That you making a racket up there, Sammie?”

Samantha blew a puff of dust off the curved lid and sat down Indian-style on the painted but worn wide plank attic floor. “I’ll be down in a few minutes, Gram.”

Gram chuckled. “Sure, and pigs can fly too.”

Gram might be eighty-something, but she didn’t miss much. She knew Samantha’s passion for history and antiques and how long it had been since she had visited the attic of her grandparents’ beloved 1820s Victorian home. For that matter, how long since she’d been in Vermont, period.

Samantha fiddled with the latch on the chest. Her finger brushed against a small metal protrusion on the side of the lock. In a sudden, swift motion, the latch sprung open and the lid lifted a quarter of an inch, almost as if the chest wanted to share its secrets and stories with her. She lifted it further and peered inside. The musty smell of aged wood and paper greeted her like a familiar friend she hadn’t seen for a long, long time.

She clutched the box to her chest and rushed downstairs. Breathless, she held out her find for her gram to see. “Do you know what this is?”

“I do.” Gram’s eyes sparkled. “And, I must say, it’s good to see there’s some life in you. I’ve been worried about you since you’ve come home.”

Gram didn’t need to be concerned about her. She was a strong independent woman—at least she liked to think she was. Granted, she had felt a little bit blue as of late, but didn’t everyone experience those feelings every now and then in life?

Time to focus on something else. She held the box a bit higher. “The chest?”

Gram motioned for Samantha to join her on the couch. “That chest’s said to have held letters from one of the caves in the Notch.”

“Smuggler’s?”

“You remember the history?” Gram asked with obvious delight.

“Sure.” Samantha nodded. “When I drive through Smuggler’s Notch, I try to picture it as during the War of 1812.”

“Yup,” her gram said. “That was when the good old U.S. Congress placed an embargo on the imports from England.”
Samantha looked out windows to the mountains. “I can imagine smugglers hiding in the thick forest and storing their supplies of food, clothing, cattle, and such from Canada in the caves and caverns along the Long Trail.” She turned back to her gram and matter-of-factly said, “And then of course, a hundred years later, when the U.S. Congress passed a law prohibiting the sale of alcohol, it happened again.”

Gram nodded. “Smugglers avoided the revenue agents by storing the alcohol in the caves where they freely smuggled it through the Notch Pass, down to central and southern New England. Thus it’s aptly named...”
Together, they chorused, “Smuggler’s Notch.”

Samantha smiled at her gram’s joy, which must have been mirrored in her own eyes.

History...her passion. But recently, without her even realizing it until this moment, the joy and excitement she usually felt had fallen flat. She still enjoyed her teaching position at a high school in New Jersey, but her enthusiasm over the last several years had waned. How had that impacted her students? She shook her head, trying to dispel that train of thought.

Perhaps coming back to Vermont for winter break was what she needed—at least she hoped so.
“Samantha, I know I don’t tell you this often enough, but I think you’re a gifted history teacher. I only wish you’d come back home where you belong.”

There were many subjects Samantha would be delighted to discuss, but her personal life, particularly where she did or didn’t belong, wasn’t one of them. Especially since she had been struggling with those very same thoughts moments ago. “Gram, let’s not go there. How about you tell me about this chest instead?”

Gram rolled her eyes. “You’re more stubborn than that old manual lawn mower. I guess I should expect as much with all that red hair.”

Samantha lifted her chin. “It’s not red. It’s auburn.”

Was it her imagination, or was Gram fighting a smile?

Gram coughed in her hand. “Where were we...oh, yes. This chest stayed in a cave where it held correspondence or information from one party to the next.”

“How’d you get it?”

“I’m saving that part of the story.”

Samantha’s heart sank with disappointment. “Why?”

“So I can be sure you’ll come back home, where you belong, from time to time.”

Samantha rolled her eyes and bit back the retort, Now who’s being stubborn?


Reviews: (As posted on Amazon.com)

Deila Latham said: "... What a beautiful, heartwarming, soul-stirring little story! JoAnn Carter says more in thirty-seven pages than many authors can produce in an epic novel. It's a thought-provoking picture of a life in transition, a love in the balance, and a God Who never stops caring. Smuggler of the Heart is good stuff. Period."

K.M Daughters said, " I loved Sammie and Tim (and Grandma, too) at first meeting. Sweet prayerful souls are reunited in this lovely, well-written romance. Sammie's "conversations" with the Lord were beautiful and soul stirring. A must read for anyone who enjoys Christian fiction and satisfying romantic endings."

Kara Lynn Russell said, " This short story is a mini-vacation to snow Vermont. Perfect for a lunch time or break time read."_


Purchase Link: http://www.pelicanbookgroup.com/ec/smuggler-of-the-heart also available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble

Curt, Convicted, Contrite


We’ve had one day in over two weeks when the heat index wasn’t above 100 degrees. Patience and tempers run short. People are testy. My DH had debilitating cluster headaches for three days. Wednesday it was 109, thanks to 98 on the thermometer, and the high dew point. Hubby went to bed at 8:30.


Not five minutes later, the phone rang. A woman asked for someone who doesn’t live in our home. We don’t have cells or caller ID (don’t ask), and we get a lot of unsolicited calls.


I admit I’ve never been a quick thinker (years ago a kid asked if my refrigerator was running and I went to look), so I didn’t even consider asking who she was or the last name of the individual she wanted. I was curt, and basically hung up.


The phone rang again and the same woman asked for the same person.


I said, “No one by that name has ever lived here.”


She verified our phone number, then offered, “You must get a lot of calls to be so irritated.”


“We do. And my husband just lay down with a horrid migraine.” I didn’t apologize.

She said, “The Lord be with you.”

I was convicted by her click. It sounded so final. It was too late to apologize or search for any more excuses.

Humble, regretful, guilty. That old sin nature can still raise its ugly head. My mind raced to the Lord.

Five minutes later, the phone rang again, but no one responded to my softer hello.

What if it was a test of some kind?

What if the caller really meant to call me to see how I’d handled the ruse?

What if someone was checking up on me to see if I’m equipped for ministry?

What if I missed the opportunity to entertain an angel?

I was once voted Miss Congeniality. If those girls could have heard such a tone of voice, that trophy would belong to another. And a short tone like the one I used would never fly in the workforce.

Contrition ran so deep I couldn’t sleep. There is no excuse for irritability. A Christian has no reason to be rude. And Christians are meant to be in the Word on a daily basis. Oops. It was our anniversary and we’d planned a day away from home, I hadn’t made the time to absorb God’s precious words.

Early this morning, in the wee hours of dark, I turned to Ephesians, Chapter 4. Words are meant to be edifying. I’m reminded to walk (and talk!) in a worthy manner, with humility, gentleness, grace. Forgiveness is a must, because I’ve been forgiven. I’m convinced a kind and loving tone turn curtness into congeniality.

Have you been tested lately?

Husband Material by Annette M. Irby


Husband Material e-book Dollar Download
Hey readers, why do you love reading romance?

I like watching a hero warm up to a heroine, and getting a peek into his heart. Or watching him pursue her. I like watching the characters go after their goals and find love. I like warmth, gentleness, and kindness, and that’s where Christian romance shines. Sure, there are rough situations, but it’s the tenderness between the hero and heroine that brings out a visceral response as we read.

We like watching a boy meet a girl and then overcome obstacles to become a husband. And if he doesn’t start the book as good husband material, we like watching him grow as a character to become a man of good husband material. Right? That’s often why romance readers prefer reading about single people. It’s a fictional journey where that part of our hearts that resides deep inside is accessed and blessed. It’s clean, it’s wholesome, and it all reminds me of Jesus’s love for us, and our relationship with Him.

See, Jesus woos us to Him daily. See that lovely butterfly flitting around in the garden? God created it to woo you. Feel that warm summer sunshine? A gift from your Bridegroom. Smell those flowers? the ocean? the rain? All from the Lover of your soul.

And when we read a good romance (which you’ll find a-plenty at White Rose) your heart is stirred, just as God created it to be. Then, we take those emotions to God and He fills up any empty places in our hearts. Human husbands weren’t meant to accomplish all that God can in our hearts. Marriage is blessed and delightful and refining, and many of our needs are met within the commitment and love of marriage, but for those areas of our hearts where we’re still unsatisfied, God wants to fill those places up.

So, look to Jesus. He’s perfect husband material!

~~~~~

Husband Material, my new ebook, released on July 22, 2011. It’s a dollar download, short romance. CONTEST: Leave a comment here with your email address for a chance to win a copy. I’ll choose a winner on July 29th. 

Here's the summary for Husband Material

Wyatt Hansen has no fears about commitment, but only three years have passed since his beloved wife died, and he can't bring himself to break their annual dinner date—that is until he meets restaurant owner, Lara Farr.

Lara doesn't have time for romance; she has a business to run. At least that's what she tells herself so she doesn't have to admit that commitment scares her. But Lara's business is failing, and it just may take a miracle—or marketing analyst, Wyatt Hansen—to save it.


Can Wyatt rescue Lara’s restaurant, help her overcome her fears, and prove he is good husband material?

~~~~~
Annette M. Irby has enjoyed writing since her teen years. If she’s not writing, she’s reading for review, or editing. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers and finaled in their Genesis Contest, 2006. She gives back to writers via her co-hosted blog: Seriously Write. Married twenty years, she lives with her husband and three children in the Northwest. Love Letters was her published book. She currently works as a freelance editor, as well as editing for publishing houses. She is active in her church as a mentor and worship leader. She enjoys photography, nature, and falling deeper in love with Jesus. Learn more at her website.

Husband Material

Why do you love reading romance?

I like watching a hero warm up to a heroine, getting a peek into his heart. Or watching him pursue her. I like watching the characters go after their goals and find love. I like warmth, gentleness, and kindness, and that’s where Christian romance shines. Sure, there are rough situations, but it’s the tenderness that brings out a visceral response as we read.

We like watching a boy meet a girl and then overcome obstacles to become a husband. And if he doesn’t start the book as good husband material, we like watching him grow as a character to become a man of good husband material. Right? That’s often why romance readers prefer reading about single people. It’s a fictional journey where that part of our hearts that resides deep inside is accessed and blessed. It’s clean, it’s wholesome, and it all reminds me of Jesus’s love for us, and our relationship with Him.

See, Jesus woos us to Him daily. See that lovely butterfly flitting around in the garden? God created it to woo you. Feel that warm summer sunshine? A gift from your Bridegroom. Smell those flowers? the ocean? the rain? All from the Lover of your soul.

And when we read a good romance (which you’ll find a-plenty at White Rose) your heart is stirred, just as God created it to be. Then, we take those emotions to God and He fills up any empty places in our hearts. Human husbands weren’t meant to accomplish all that God can in our hearts. Marriage is blessed and delightful and refining, and many of our needs are met within the commitment and love of marriage, but for those areas of our hearts where we’re still unsatisfied, God wants to fill those places up.

So, look to Jesus. He’s perfect husband material!

~~~~~

July 22, 2011, my book Husband Material released. It’s a dollar download, short romance. Leave a comment here with your email address for a chance to win a copy. I’ll choose a winner on July 29th. Happy reading!

A Wonderful Celebration & Blessing

As some of you may know, my brother-in-law, John Hilger, was recently ordained as a Deacon in the Catholic Church. He'll be serving in ministry at Queen of Angels Church in the archdiocese of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The road to receiving Holy Orders was long and intense--truly a calling.

The permanent diaconate formation period in the Catholic Church entails a four- or five-year training period that resembles a collegiate course of study. Diaconal candidates receive instruction in philosophy, theology, study of the Holy Scriptures, homiletics, sacramental studies, evangelization, ecclesiology, counseling, and pastoral care and ministry before ordination. Although they are assigned to work in a parish by the diocesan bishop, once assigned, deacons are under the supervision of the parish pastor. Saint Stephen is considered to be one of the first seven deacons in the Christian Church.

The ministry of the deacon in the Catholic Church is described as one of service in three areas: the Word, the Liturgy and Charity. The vestments most particularly associated with the Western Rite Catholic deacon are the alb, stole and dalmatic. Deacons, like priests and bishops, must wear their albs and stoles; deacons place the stole over their left shoulder and it hangs across to their right side, while priests and bishops wear it around their necks. The dalmatic, a vestment especially associated with the deacon, is worn during the celebration of the Mass and other liturgical functions; its use is more liberally applied than the corresponding vestment of the priest, the chasuble.

For me, the most moving part of the ordination was when the 11 candidates for the deaconate lay prostrate upon the altar, deep in surrendered prayer to the God who called them to this vocation. My brother-in-law was also given the blessing of being able to serve with the Bishop during communion at this very special Mass. Another moving part of the ceremony is when the Bishop rested his hands atop the head of each candidate in blessing, and then gave them each a beautiful, leather-bound edition of the Gospels for use during Mass.

The day after his ordination, John delivered the homily and performed the duties of a deacon at his church home, Queen of Angels. This first mass was referred to as 'The Mass of Thanksgiving' and many family and friends were in attendance. We were truly blessed and thankful to be part of it, too, and witness him living out the call God placed on his heart. Receiving the Eucharist from my brother-in-law, then the Precious Blood from my sister-in-law touched my heart and brought me to tears of joy. Our family traveled bits and pieces of this road right along with him, and cheered him on all the way.

God has claimed a holy warrior in the gifts and talents of John Henry Hilger, and we're so very thrilled for him!

Until next time ~ Blessings!

Marianne
www.marianneevans.com
www.marianneevans.blogspot.com

Monday Make-A-Story ™ This week's writing prompt

Writing to spec – you’ve heard the term.  It means writing what the publisher wants.  Can you do it?  In our Monday writing prompt feature - Make-A-Story ™, we ask you to create a story with these elements.  The story can be set in any time period, any length, must adhere to our guidelines and have our standard Christian world view.
Submit your story to us at any time using our regular submission guidelines, but be sure to note which Make-A-Story ™ prompt (note the date and the prompts) inspired your story.    

Today's prompt:
A surprise snowball fight
Hot apple cider
A cat

This weeks latest release...



meet Dora …

After a successful auditing career, Dora left the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons. Eventually, needing something more to fill her days, she started writing heart racing, God-gracing books that glorify her Creator. Dora belongs to the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Carolina Christian Writers.


Dora and her husband make their home in Kannapolis, North Carolina. When she’s not writing, Dora enjoys spending time with her family, guzzling cafĂ© con leche, kicking back in her recliner with a good book, teaching Sunday School, vacationing in the mountains, watching football, walking her dog, and did somebody say shopping?

JOURNEY’S END Blurb:



Devastated after the brutal murder of her husband, Chelsea Hammond vows never to love another lawman. Intent on rebuilding her shattered life, she turns her focus to helping troubled teens. But when an angry father bent on retaliation, threatens her, Chelsea must turn to the one man she never thought to trust: Deputy U.S. Marshal Trey Colten.

Trey wants only to protect Chelsea, but she blames him for her husband’s death.Trey can relate. He blames himself, also. As danger lurks, Trey begs Chelsea to heed his warnings. He let down one Hammond. He won’t let down another—especially one who now holds his heart.

When Chelsea is snatched from her home, can she put aside her fear, and trust Trey with her life? Can she forgive him for destroying her past and let him help to rebuild her future?

Where one journey ends, another begins…



JOURNEY’S END Excerpt:



"I suppose I should have been a vet." Chelsea stroked the dog’s fur from his head all the way down his back, careful not to touch his wounded leg.


"Maybe. But I don’t think you’ve wasted your energy or your talents as a guidance counselor. Teenagers can’t seem to resist you, either."


That produced a full-fledged smile in his direction. Way to go, Colten!


"Remember that natural charm I warned you about?"


He threw back his head and laughed. "Yes. And after a few days in your presence, I’m inclined to agree with you."


He pulled into the veterinarian’s parking lot and glanced her way, surprised to see her grinning. "What?"


"Saved by the vet."


Her words hit him like a piano dropping ten stories. She was flirting with him.


He took his time walking around to her side of the truck. He opened the door and leaned in, planting his hand on the seat next to her shapely legs. His face hovered inches from hers while he savored the way her wavy hair cascaded down her shoulders, the lips that curved in that always graceful way, and the eyes that spoke everything his heart wanted to hear.


Her eyes closed, and her lips parted slightly.


Trey snapped out of it. He couldn’t do this. He was on the job. She didn’t know the secrets he knew, the truth about her husband.


Her eyes startled open. As much as he wanted to partake and enjoy, he couldn’t. He touched a silky curl framing her face and ran it through his fingers. "You need to know that right now I’m working. But there will come a time, soon, when I’m not."


She can’t bear to look at yesterday.


She has no strength to face today.


She won’t believe in tomorrow.


You can purchase this book at (either as an e-book or paperback) at: http://www.whiterosepublishing.com/Journey39S-End?CDpath=3