Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Diligence Today Brings Success Tomorrow By Barbara Latta

Sometimes I am like Scarlet O’Hara. I’ll think about that tomorrow. Although I don’t think I procrastinate to quite the extent that southern belle did, I am still in need of lighting a fire under myself to accomplish my goals at times.

I have plans to exercise. I know my legs need to walk and my middle needs to burn some calories. The idea is in my head but on some days it doesn’t make it to fruition. The same goes with my writing. I have all these ideas and they are floating around in my head, but they need an organized space to get on the paper, or should I say computer screen.

I discovered Bullet Journaling a few months ago after a lengthy resistance. While I am still in the process of becoming proficient at this method, I can say it has made the calendar and loose notes scattered around all gather in one place like little chicks who follow the mother hen. The post-it notes stuck all over the house and decorating the inside of my purse like wallpaper are now lying in the Bullet Journal nest where they are warm, happy and waiting to hatch.

What I have learned from my sometimes-not-so-productive life is what not to do. While I could work successively for several days, I would get lax on others. Praying about my frustrations at lack of completion of projects brought these words from the Lord, “Consistency is the key.”

Haphazard application in anything will not bring success. A structured lifestyle will. God reminded me that living like a scattered jigsaw puzzle will not put the pieces together. Diligent and consistent placement makes the picture whole.
With the BuJo as my weapon of choice against inconsistencies and frustration, I armed myself with my calendar, list of goals and reminders. I have learned that this is God’s secret to having a fruitful and productive life. After all, He is consistent in all His ways and as His children we are to imitate Him.

Writing is like any other goal we aspire to reach. We must be steadfast in our efforts and follow a plan. Whether it is character development in fiction or research for Bible studies or devotions, our finished product is completed one minute, one hour, one keystroke at a time. Day by day stability will bring the reward of a finished manuscript or article. Diligence today brings success in the future.

Scarlet O’Hara may still be thinking about that tomorrow, but I’m all for running with it today.
What about you?

God is consistent in all His ways and as His children we are to imitate Him. @barbaralatta @MaryAFelkins #seriouslywrite #amwriting #diligence

Connect with Barbara:

Barbara Latta is the author of God's Maps, Stories of Inspiration and Direction for Motorcycle Riders and has contributed to several anthologies and written for online devotion and article sites. Her latest contribution is to The Power to Make a Difference published by Lighthouse Bible Studies. She also writes a monthly column in her local newspaper, The Pike Journal-Reporter and is President of the Madison, Georgia Word Weavers chapter.
Her desire is to share the truths she has learned through the Word of God to help those in bondage to negative emotions become free and have an intimate relationship with our heavenly Father.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Write a Psalm by Annette M. Irby

Trust in Him at all times, you people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah

Psalm 62:8 NKJV

Hey, writers. Have you been distracted by the news lately? Sitting down to write can mean a quiet mind, while we ponder the next step in our stories or the next theme in our nonfiction. Unfortunately, quiet minds are sometimes easily bombarded by the latest statistics or social media rants. I imagine you’re like me these days—using time in God’s Word to combat those thoughts/fears/worries.

The Book of Psalms offers a little bit of everything. Nothing’s off-limits, it seems, to the psalmists. They wrote from hearts full of praise to hearts full of angst. They wrote about attacks and then deliverance. They wrote of God’s answers to their prayers. They wrote what they wanted to see. They wrote out of a place of need or when they wanted to change their focus.

I’ve been a prayer journaler now for decades. About thirty years ago, I attended a retreat where the leaders asked us to write our own psalms to God, with no plans to set them to music. Our psalms didn't have to be poetic or rhyming. They are basically written prayers in which we pour out our hearts to Him. (Psalm 62:8)

If ever there was a time for pouring out our hearts to God, this is it.

If ever there was a time for pouring out our hearts to God, this is it. Write a psalm to God. #amwriting #ampraying @annettemirby

You can write about:

* Any theme

* Desire for God (Psalm 63)

* Longing for His Word (Psalm 119)

* Lament (Psalm 102)

* Justice (Psalm 94)

* Desperation (Psalm 55)

* Deliverance (Psalm 98)

* Repentance (Psalm 51)

* Sustenance (Psalm 23)

* Declaration of protection or provision (Psalm 91)

* Worship (Psalm 45)

* Praise (Psalm 150)

* God's greatness (Psalm 65)

* Rehearse past times when God delivered you and/or your family (Psalms 106, 136)

* Hope for deliverance followed by God's powerful and decisive answer (Psalm 18)

At times, the biblical writers began their psalm with desperation, but by the end, they were encouraged; their tone changed. (See Psalm 55)

Have you noticed this in Luke’s Gospel: It’s when the disciples are telling stories of the resurrected Christ, and how their hearts burned within them, that Jesus manifests His presence among them. He was already in the room, but He appears to them when they talk about Him. Rehearsing how God has provided (or healed) in the past, brings Him into your current situation. He’s right there, but as our faith rises, He demonstrates His nearness. (see Luke 24, especially verses 35–36)

Once we’ve poured out our hearts to God, we’re more able to focus on our writing goals for the day.

I encourage you to write out your psalms, dear writers. Let the words flow. It’s cathartic, but it’s also prayer. And as you know, prayer changes people and situations.

Your turn: What other themes would you add to this list? Which are your favorite Psalms and why?

Finding Love on Whidbey Island
Could what drove them apart be what draws them back together?

Liberty Winfield lives with loss every day. She’d rather leave her history behind her, but when faced with moving back to her hometown, the past becomes unavoidable. She takes a job at the florist shop owned by her ex-boyfriend’s family from a decade ago. Now he’s unavoidable.

Clay Garrison knows the pain of ruing his mistakes. Most of his regrets center around Liberty. If he could undo his poor choices, he would. Liberty is back. He has one more chance to make things right. She doesn’t believe anyone could love her unconditionally, so he sets out to prove her wrong. He must also try to right the biggest wrong of their past, knowing that in doing so, he could lose her forever.

Will addressing the past together help them find love?


Annette M. Irby*
Annette M. Irby has been writing since her teen years when she sat pounding out stories on a vintage typewriter just for fun. Since then, she’s joined Christian writing groups and launched blogs so she could share the joy of writing. She likes to say she’s addicted to color as flowers and seascapes inspire her. In her off hours, she enjoys gardening, photography, and music. She lives with her husband and family in the Pacific Northwest.

Learn more here on her Seriously Write Page.

Photo credit: woman writing: Pixaby
Author photo: Sarah Irby

Friday, March 27, 2020

Prayer Changes Things…Even God’s Mind by C. Kevin Thompson

C. Kevin Thompson
Read Deuteronomy 9:18-10:11 first.

“Prayer changes things.”

There is no place in Scripture where this phrase has more meaning than here in Deuteronomy and where it actually happened in the books of Exodus and Numbers.

This passage is a retelling by Moses to the next generation of Israelites about what happened to their forefathers. Moses explains why their forefathers were formed into a nation, and what God wanted to accomplish through them. He also explains who their forefathers were as a nation in relationship to God. He then goes on to describe their present state of affairs and where they were about to go.

Into the Promised Land.

However, if it wasn’t for Moses praying for their forefathers—twice—the nation Israel would look very different and maybe even have a different name. “Toast” is the one that readily comes to mind, for God was going to wipe out Israel on two separate occasions and make Moses into a great nation in its place. They could have been the Sons of Moses instead of the Sons of Abraham.

One of the two times Moses prays occurs in Exodus 32. Aaron and the Israelites created the Golden Calf, and God had made up His mind to destroy Israel for their disobedience. However, after Moses prayed and asked God to turn from His fierce anger, verse 14 says that God relented and did not bring disaster on the people like He threatened.

Then in Numbers 14, the nation Israel rebelled against God again. When Joshua and Caleb came back from their exploration of the Promised Land and stated that the land could be won, the people did not believe them. Instead, the people believed the other spies who had said that there was no hope for Israel. The people began to grumble against Moses and Aaron, and began that tired song and dance of “If only we had died in Egypt!” So, in verse 12, God says that He is going to strike them down with a plague and destroy them. However, Moses prays for the people again, much like he did in Exodus 32, telling God that if He destroys the nation Israel, then the Egyptians will believe that He was not capable of delivering the people completely. So, for a second time, God answers Moses’s prayer and relents.

For a lesser person, God’s offer might have been a proposal he couldn’t refuse. “I could replace Abraham? My descendants would be named instead of Isaac and Jacob?” In essence, Moses’s response would have been in total compliance with God’s wrath being exacted against the nation Israel so that he could rise to prominence. Instead, Moses prayed for mercy. He reminded God of His promise to Abraham in so many words, and how it would look in the eyes of the Egyptians and others if He killed Israel in the desert.

So, God spared their forefathers. He did alter the plan, though, as sin always has consequences, even if God relents from His initial plan. As a result, instead of total annihilation, God made the nation Israel wander in the desert for forty years until every last man alive in Exodus 32 and Numbers 14 passed away.

As writers, do our prayer lives change anything? Do we even have one? Or does writing, pitching our stories, marketing our books, and all the other stuff writers are supposed to do eat up all our time?

We, as Christian writers, always want our writing to affect people for God. How much more so would that be if our prayer life matched our writing life? Not that we pray to manipulate God into more sales, like some genie in a bottle. I’m talking about deepening that relationship so that God’s heart and character flow through our words, reaching readers in ways no one else can.

Moses had a very close relationship with God, wouldn’t you say? And his prayers changed the course of history for a nation. His writings, inspired by the Holy Spirit, change lives every day, even now. Therefore, one could say we mirror Moses more than we may have thought previously.

And in light of our world’s current panic with the Coronavirus, surely our prayers can make a difference.

And maybe, possibly, change the direction of a nation that fears the unknown because they do not believe in the unseen (cf. Heb. 11:1).

As writers, do our prayer lives change anything? Do we even have one? #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @CKevinThompson
We, as Christian writers, always want our writing to affect people for God. How much more so would that be if our prayer life matched our writing life?
#seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @CKevinThompson
Moses had a very close relationship with God, and his prayers changed the course of history for a nation. #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @CKevinThompson

The Letters
The Letters


Rachel Hamar—a Manhattan bank teller—lives nothing close to a Manhattan lifestyle. Residing in Washington Heights, NY, the only thing keeping her in The Big Apple is her mother—a long-time patient in a local psychiatric hospital. It’s December 2014, and the twentieth anniversary of her high school sweetheart’s tragic death. She’s not sure how much more heartache she can endure, especially after being told earlier in the day she no longer has a job at the bank. A casualty of downsizing.

In the midst of spiraling depression, Rachel receives a mysterious letter in the mail. When she opens it, she becomes cautious and skeptical of its contents and discards it as a mistake, concluding it’s simply addressed incorrectly or a postal worker’s faux pas in the midst of a busy Christmas season. But another letter arrives the next day. And another the day after that. Before long, she is in possession of several letters. Each one more puzzling than the last.

Thinking that someone may be playing a cruel game, she contacts the police, and this propels Rachel and the two detectives into one of the most bizarre cases they’ve ever encountered. Is it a friend’s cruel joke? Is it some stalker’s perverse idea of manipulation? Or is it something more?

C. KEVIN THOMPSON is a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a kid at heart. Often referred to as “crazy” by his grandchildren, it’s only because he is. He’s a writer. Need he say more?

The second edition of his award-winning debut novel, The Serpent’s Grasp, is now available! The first four books of his Blake Meyer Thriller series are out as well. Book 1, 30 Days Hath Revenge, Book 2, Triple Time, Book 3, The Tide of Times, and Book 4, When the Clock Strikes Fourteen, are now available! Book 5, A Pulse of Time, is coming Memorial Day 2020! And, his newest standalone novel, The Letters, is now available in both e-book and paperback!

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, NCIS, Criminal Minds, BBC shows Broadchurch, Shetland, Hinterland, and Wallander, loves anything to do with Star Trek and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic too. But you will never catch him wearing a deerstalker. Ever.

Website: www.ckevinthompson.com/
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog: www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com/
Facebook: C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter: @CKevinThompson
Instagram: ckevinthompson
Pinterest: ckevinthompsonauthor
ACFW Fiction Finder: https://www.fictionfinder.com/author/detail/595
Christian Authors Network: https://christianauthorsnetwork.com/c-kevinthompson/
Goodreads: C. Kevin Thompson
BookBub: C. Kevin Thompson

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Journaling Through the COVID-19 Pandemic by Laurie Wood

We here in North America are into week two of what I’m going to call the “awareness” of the global pandemic of COVID-19. We’ve become “aware” of the need for social distancing, self-isolation, handwashing, what businesses are considered “essential”, and who’s getting laid off and who can work from home.

The rest of the world figured it out in January and February, but Canada and the US managed to keep our rose-coloured glasses on till the week of March 9th. That was the week my husband, who’s a Major in the Canadian Armed Forces (Air Force) started getting serious dispatches about how our military was about to cope with the pandemic reaching our shores. And on Friday, March 13th, around lunch time, I went grocery shopping and decided I’d “stock up” on some essentials before there was a run on them.

Well, the joke was on me because the shelves were already half bare. There was no toilet paper to be had, Kleenex and paper towels were nearly gone, and the meat department looked like the night stock boys hadn’t finished their shift. I managed to score the last two packages of chicken drumsticks. I stared at my “essentials” list and realized that people who were better organized, more up on the news, had already stripped the shelves of hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes and spray, toilet bowl cleaner (apparently Winnipeggers really care about having clean toilets), and dishwasher detergent.

That was the beginning of my family’s “work-at-home-self-isolation”. Our adult children have Down Syndrome and we kept them home during Week One even though their program was still open. My husband was ordered to work from home. My writing routine of peace and quiet was immediately disrupted with three other adults home all day, every day.

The above paragraphs are from a letter I sent to a far-away friend. And then I got the idea to keep a specific journal. Journaling during this pandemic is an excellent idea if you’re a writer. Your experiences as a family, or as a single person, stuck at home and dealing with the social isolation and supply shortages, are crucial to your family history. Recording your thoughts and the events of your days will be special to your children who’re dealing with being out of school, their anxieties, and new experiences as they Facetime with friends from their homes.

Here’s some ways to record or journal your way through this pandemic:

1.      Bullet Journal: keep lists of the TV shows your binge on Netflix, the movies you watch with your kids, the science projects & activities you do with them. Keep a list of how many books you read/review. Keep a list of any new hobbies you learn. New podcasts, webinars, online courses you take. The trivia of your days are the details future generations will cherish.

2.      Keep a video log of your children each day. Have them say something they did that was fun during the day, something new they learned, something they wish was different, something they look forward to when this is all over. Take videos of them being active outside when the weather is good. 

3.      Journal in long-hand for the “bigger” experiences…how your perspective has changed. What is more important to you now than it was a month ago? What is better? What are you grateful for in this time of uncertainty? How is God more real to you now?

We bring hope to readers with our stories. We write to entertain people. We write to record human experience and right now, the global pandemic is bringing the world together in a way it hasn’t experienced since 1918 with the Spanish Flu. Those days are with us again.

Let’s make sure that the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic is recorded with words that speak of our generosity, compassion, bravery, love, and the bright light of the human spirit. Let’s rest in Jesus’ assurance that “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 15:33 He will never leave us or forsake us.

It’s not to late to start that new journal. Grab a new notebook, or binder paper, or open up a new Document on your laptop. Have you thought about doing this?  Please share your experiences in the comments. 

 BOOK LINK: Amazon

Northern Deception
(Heroes of the Tundra Book 1)

Reunions can be deadly.

After a savage attack in university, Kira Summers fled to the safety of northern Canada and her work as a polar bear scientist. But when her whistleblower brother dies in a mysterious car crash, she must return home to bury him and pack his belongings. Unaware she’s carrying explosive evidence someone’s willing to kill for, she has no choice but to rely on the one person she never thought she’d see again.

Lukas Tanner, a widowed single father of a special needs toddler, moved to Churchill five years ago. As the proud owner of Guiding Star Enterprises, a wilderness tour company, he and his daughter lead a simple life. But when Kira comes crashing back into his world, he realizes God has other plans. Now, Lukas and Kira must confront a merciless killer as their past and present collide in a deadly race—a race they must win if they have any hope of a future together.

Laurie Wood is a military wife who’s lived across Canada and visited six of its ten provinces. She and her husband have raised two wonderful children with Down Syndrome to adulthood, and their son and daughter are a wonderful blessing to their lives. Over the years, Laurie’s books have finaled in prestigious contests such as the Daphne du Maurier (twice), the TARA, the Jasmine, and the Genesis. Her family lives in central Canada with a menagerie of rescue dogs and cats. If the house were bigger, no doubt they’d have more.


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Are You Stuck on One Book? by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

Last year at my local writer’s group meeting, a friend and fellow member was upset. We’ll call her Jane. She’d signed with an agent, then been dropped. Her book had been rejected several times and she wasn’t sure what to do next.

Over several years, I’d traveled to a national conference and roomed with her, as well as attended several writer’s meetings and retreats with her. During the entire time I’ve known her, Jane has tried to get this one book published. So as she poured out her heart and frustration at the meeting, advice bubbled up in me.

I’ve known several Janes. Tirelessly and doggedly peddling that one book that nobody wants right now. I was Jane. I pitched one book for four years. Even though at the time, I’d completed five, I was stuck on the one because it was the book of my heart.

Finally, I met Mary Connealy at ACFW. Once she got published, she had books coming out faster than I could keep up with. She said she kept writing books and pitching different ones because with each book, you learn and improve. By the time Mary got a contract, she had dozens of books ready to go. I wrote another, then another. And another.

Back to the meeting. I took Jane’s hand and gently suggested she write another book. I told her about Mary, about the book I’d set aside, and about learning and improving with each book you write. I shared that it’s hard to let the book of your heart go so you can move on. But I assured Jane that she didn’t have to give up on it. Just write more while waiting for a home for that first book.

I cried. Jane cried. A few months later, she did the devotion at our meeting about being a willing vessel for God. She gave us each a small lump of play doh and told us to make a vessel. Then she told us how sometimes you feel like you’re doing really well being a vessel, moldable and pliable to God’s will when someone, like Shannon, comes along and crushes your dreams. She brought her fist down smashing her play doh vase and looked at me.

“I’ve been waiting to do that for months.” Jane started laughing. I did too, relieved that she wasn’t really mad at me. Then she went on to share that sometimes when you think your dreams have been crushed, that’s when you find new purpose. She thanked me for my advice and shared that she’d started a new book and was loving it. And loving writing again.

Recently, a new opportunity opened up for the book of my heart. Once the book I’m currently contracted for is finished, I plan to revise that old book since I’ve learned much since then and see if it can find a home. If it does, I’ll be ecstatic. If it doesn’t, I’ll write another book. And another. And another. . .

I pitched one book for four years...because it was the book of my heart. via @stvauthor #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Award winning author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter writes contemporary Christian cowboy
romance and has over a dozen published titles. A romance reader since her teens, she hopes to entertain Christian women and plant seeds in the non-believer’s heart as she demonstrates that love doesn’t conquer all—Jesus does.
She gleans fodder for her fiction in rural Arkansas where she spent her teenage summers working the concession stand with her rodeo announcing dad and married a Texan who morphed into a pastor. In her spare time, she loves hanging out with her husband and son, flea marketing, and doing craft projects.
Connect with her: Shannon’s Website, Shannon’s Blog, Shannon’s Facebook, Shannon’s Goodreads, Shannon’s Pinterest, Shannon’s Twitter, and  Shannon’s Amazon Author Page. Sign up for her Newsletter to get a free e-book and behind the scenes info: Shannon's Newsletter

This cowboy has one more chance to make it right…

He already lost her once…

Now he’s fighting for her—and their daughter.

When Rance Shepherd takes a job stocking cattle for a local rodeo, he’s shocked that his new client is his ex-sweetheart, Larae Collins. Now he’s determined to prove to the single mother that he isn’t the restless cowboy she remembers. But when he discovers her little girl is his, they both must forgive past mistakes for a second shot at a future together.

Get your copy:

(Available at Walmart from mid-March until mid-June)

Blog Tour for Hill Country Redemption

Giveaway Details: Ten copies of Hill Country Redemption will be split among commentors on Shannon’s blog tour. Winner’s will be revealed on Shannon’s Blog on April 13th. 

March 1st - Becky Van Vleet’s Blog: http://www.beckyvanvleet.com/home-decor-with-nostalgia/
March 17th – Shannon’s Blog: https://shannontaylorvannatter.com/inkslinger-blog/
April 7th – Jennifer Hereen’s Blog: http://jenniferheeren.com/blog/
April 6th – June Foster’s Blog: https://junefoster.com/?page_id=855
April 2nd – Joy Avery Melville’s Blog: https://www.journeystojoy.net/
April 7th – Catherine Castle’s Blog: https://catherinecastle1.wordpress.com/blog/
April 9th - Laurie Wood’s Blog: https://www.lauriewoodauthor.com/author-my-blog

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

How To Make a Dynamic One-Sheet by Emily Wickham

“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.” Proverbs 22:29, NASB

Attending a Christian writers conference ranks near the top of my favorite activities. I’ve gained treasured friends at such events, and I’ve also benefited from the valuable learning opportunities, industry networking, and spiritual encouragement that conferences offer. Whether we’re anticipating our first or fifteenth conference, each of us can approach it by preparing well.

We should carry a dynamic one-sheet with us to each conference. This page highlights the details of our work-in-progress, enabling faculty members to evaluate our material without much effort. While the thought of creating a handout of this magnitude can feel daunting, there’s hope!

Making a one-sheet on Microsoft Word is simple plus cost-effective.

As a side note, I realize you might be wondering whether you’ll even be able to attend a conference because of the coronavirus pandemic. Creating a one-sheet right now might appear unnecessary, but you likely have additional time at home these days. In that light, this might be the perfect occasion for you to make your one-sheet.

The following instructions contain four easy steps. As you work on each one, please leave any questions in the comment section. I’ll do my best to help you succeed. Also, you can review my sample one-sheet, which includes comments and notes, at the end of this post.

• Open Microsoft Word
• Click FILE in the upper left-hand corner
• Click the NEWSLETTERS option and double click on the style of your choice (see photo below)

• Select the page that contains the best layout for your text and photos
• Insert your information in the various sections:
• Book Title
• Genre
• Word Count
• A two or three-sentence book summary
• Endorsements – who recommends you and your writing? Why?
• Contact information (e-mail address, website, cell #)
• A one-paragraph description of your book that answers why it’s necessary in today’s market
• Author Bio plus a professional headshot
• Photos (Pixabay and Unsplash are excellent resources for free images)

• Save the entire “newsletter” as a Word document so you can make changes later if needed
• Next, save the entire document in PDF format
• Open your one-sheet in PDF format
• Select and delete the unnecessary pages on the left-hand side, then re-save the document

• Save your one-sheet on a flash drive or e-mail it to your local printing shop (I take mine to Office Depot)
• Print 5-8 copies to share with editors, agents, and other conference faculty members

We honor the Lord when we do our best, plus industry professionals appreciate excellence.

May God bless your creative endeavors, using your one-sheet to interest others in your writing.

What tips would you like to add? Please share them below.

Making a one-sheet on Microsoft Word is simple plus cost effective. Follow Emily’s four steps to create your own before attending your next writers conference. via @emilywickhamPH @MaryAFelkins #WritingConference #SeriouslyWrite

Note: A previous version of “How to Make a Dynamic One-Sheet” first appeared on February 5, 2019 at www.proclaiminghimtowomen.com.
EMILY WICKHAM seeks to stir hearts toward Jesus. She writes for LifeWay, speaks at ladies’ events, and shares  “Devotions for Women” videos on social media. Emily encourages Christian women plus equips Christian writers on her blog, www.proclaiminghimtowomen.comShe is the author of one Bible study, which was translated into Spanish in 2016. 
Emily, a resident of North Carolina, is Mark’s wife of 30+ years. They are the blessed parents of four adult children and two daughters-in-love. God’s faithfulness and love inspire Emily on her journey through life as she purposes to exalt Christ through written and spoken words. 
Connect with Emily:
Book Blurb:
Do you know any missionaries to Spanish-speaking women? Or, is your church involved in outreach to the Hispanic community? Emily would love to put her Bible study on Esther into their hands, and she’s willing to fundraise for this purpose. Please see her website for more information. You also can purchase Alcanzando la Justicia on Amazon.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Rapid Pulses and Panic in the Aisles

By now, you have probably heard of the dreaded coronavirus. Oh, no! Not another post about that virus. Should you keep reading? Yes. This message is not only about that awful virus. This particular message is to remind the reader of the importance of slowing down, pausing and remembering to go to God in prayer during stressful times and also, during times of no stress. Well… are there times of no stress?

I recently attended the North Carolina Christian Writers Conference in Liberty, North Carolina. This was my second time attending this fantastic conference. The news of the virus was just beginning to spread and precautions to take during the conference were discussed.

Each conference attendee had been prayed for ahead of time and during the conference. Chats at the hotels and at the venue kept going back to the virus and the wonder of what might happen.

I am thankful the staff and the folks at the church where the event was held took great care in making sure everyone was comfortable. We did not dwell on the situation. Our prayers included those affected and those who would be affected by the virus in the coming days.

My husband and I returned home from the conference on Saturday evening. A few items were needed from the store. Regular stock up things like milk and bread. As we entered the grocery store, we noticed signs alerting customers of “Limit - two hand sanitizers per family” and “Limit - two packs of toilet paper” and “Limit - two packs of water”.

Lines at the checkout counter were long. Carts were filled to the brim. A rumble of conversation filled the air. The same words could be heard. “When will you all get more toilet paper in stock? When will you have more water? Do you have more hand sanitizer?” The questions were repeated over and over. The grocery store clerks looked exhausted as they tried to keep a smile while answering the same questions over and over.

We gathered our items, stood in the checkout line and waited for our turn to purchase items.
Standing in the line gave me a chance to view my surroundings. Wow! The things I saw.

From the fast walking people to the lack of grocery carts available, there was an air of rapid pulse and panic in the aisles. Men, women and children rushed from aisle to aisle, throwing things in the carts. I am thankful to have noticed several people moving at a regular pace and not rushing through the store in a panic.

I will never know the story behind each person in the store that day. Maybe some folks were shopping for others, maybe fear had set in and purchasing items “just in case” was the way they felt comfort. Each person has a unique story.

I do know one thing for sure. God loves us. He is with us in every situation. I, along with many other people, are praying for this virus to leave and never return. Prayers for healing for all who are sick and/or will become sick.

God loves us. He is with us in every situation. I, along with many other people, are praying for this virus to leave and never return. @mimionlife #seriouslywrite

Each moment gives us opportunity to show God’s love to others. So, instead of having a rapid pulse from shopping and being filled with panic in the aisles, here is my suggestion:

Go to God first thing every morning. Ask Him to guide your steps in each moment. God never promised bad things would not happen. God does promise He will love us forever.

Be comforted knowing God loves you.

Melissa Henderson

Melissa Henderson is a writer of inspirational messages. Her first book for children, “Licky the Lizard”, was released in 2018. She also has a story in the compilations “Heaven Sightings” and “Remembering Christmas”. She contributes articles and devotions to various magazines and websites. Her passions are helping in community and church. Melissa is an Elder, Deacon and Stephen Minister. She and her husband Alan moved from Virginia to South Carolina to be near son, daughter-in-love and first grandchild. The family motto is “It’s Always A Story With The Hendersons”.
Follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and at http://www.melissaghenderson.com

Website and blog : http://www.melissaghenderson.com
Amazon link to "Licky the Lizard"
Facebook : Melissa Henderson, Author
Pinterest : Melissa Henderson
Twitter : @mimionlife

Friday, March 20, 2020

Encouragement in the Midst of Disappointment by JoAnn Durgin

Meme with John 16:33

Encouragement in the Midst of Disappointment 

In the midst of these uncertain times in dealing with the unknowns of the coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s quite easy to grow discouraged. This isn’t like the Nor’easter snowstorms in Boston when our family was forced to stay inside. They only lasted a day or two. This is more like when school was canceled the entire month of January when I was a senior in high school due to ice-covered roads. At least we can get out and about—for now. However, if even one of us contracts the virus, that can all change in a heartbeat.

As we’re all aware, when events we’ve anticipated for weeks or months (even years!) are canceled, it’s a huge disappointment. Sports matches and tournaments at all levels are being postponed indefinitely or canceled. Most schools across the nation are going online with students studying at home. Personally, we’re rescheduling our son’s graduation trip to Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia (I’m praying there’ll be a graduation ceremony!). My husband and I have tickets to the Downton Abbey exhibition at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, next week, but I fully expect to hear it’s been closed. Two concerts I expected to attend later this month have been rescheduled. I’m sure you have a rapidly growing list of your own…

Something important to keep in mind: you are not alone. We’re all facing this crisis together, and I mean all of us—every single person in the world. No one is immune. When you think about it, that’s quite astounding, isn’t it? The expression, “This, too, shall pass” immediately comes to mind. I pray by this time next year, an effective vaccine for COVID-19 will have been widely distributed and this worldwide pandemic will be a memory.

As authors, none of us are immune to occasional setbacks and disappointments in our writing career—rejection letters, weak sales, a negative or unfair review, failure to place or final for an award. You could be suffering from lethargy—emotionally, physically, and/or spiritually. You might lack inspiration. Perhaps a manuscript isn’t coming together the way you’d hoped.

We can’t avoid discouragement, but we can handle disappointments more effectively if we maintain a positive mindset. I realize that can be a difficult proposition, even for believers. A No could actually be God telling us It’s not the right time. Or Try again later. Although our plans may be canceled, postponed, or disrupted, that doesn’t mean God’s not in control. The Almighty is always on His throne. As Matthew West sings, “He’s the God who stays.” Amen! We have no reason to fear and no reason to panic because we have His promises and assurances. And when we can switch the focus from our earthly desires and disappointments to accepting the will of God, then we can experience His glorious peace, a peace like none other.

One verse I’m reminded of frequently is John 16:33, especially appropriate now: “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” The best way to overcome discouragement? Pray and then surrender your burdens at His feet.

In closing, what we might interpret as a disappointment may actually be a blessing in the long-term. When I was laid off from a job in late 2009, I used the time off to submit my debut novel to publishers, which led to its publication a year later. If you find yourself at home during these uncertain times, try and use your time productively—reconnect with your family, be more faithful in devotions and Bible reading, exercise more, catch up on your rest, try a new recipe, and indulge in those things you never seemed to find the time to do before. And as writers, I’d suggest spending more time writing. And I’m going to pray the Lord will use our current circumstances to draw more souls to Him. Won’t you join me in that prayer?

Until His Nets Are Full,

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28

Facing Disappointment with a Godly Perspective #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads
Disappointments can be a blessing long-term! #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads
We have no reason to fear or panic because we have HIS promises and assurances! #seriouslywrite #encouragementforwriters via @Gr8tReads

Catching Serenity
Catching Serenity

A woman torn apart by secrets. A man held prisoner by the truth. Can the greatest love of all set them both free?

Serenity McClaren had it all before her life crumbled around her like the sandcastles on her beloved beach, causing her to flee Croisette Shores and the only home she’d ever known. Nearly five years later and living in Atlanta, she receives a mysterious, unsigned note: “Come home, Serenity. Things aren’t as they seem. Time to find your answers.” Returning to South Carolina, she prepares to face her demons and the ailing father she left behind, hoping to make peace with both.

Child psychologist Jackson Ross is a man with a surprising past. He’s ready for the quiet life and eager to establish his practice in the quaint, coastal village. After he hires Serenity to decorate his new office, he’s drawn to the beautiful and enigmatic woman yet sees she’s haunted by a past she can’t escape. Wanting to help her, he begins to suspect one of his young patients may hold the key to unlocking Serenity’s secrets. Jackson follows his instincts and discovers the shocking truth, but how can he tell the woman he’s grown to love what he knows—and set her free—without compromising his professional ethics and losing her forever?

Catching Serenity, a poignant story of faith, hope and love, and discovering the everyday miracles from an all-powerful God.

JoAnn Durgin
USA Today Bestselling Author JoAnn Durgin is the author of more than thirty novels, including the Lewis Legacy Series, Prelude, the Starlight Christmas Series, Catching Serenity, Hearts Design, Gentle Like the Rain, Whisper to My Heart, the Serendipity Christmas Series, the Treasured Vow Series, the Wondrous Love Series, If You Believe, Echoes of Edinburgh, Portrait, and The Valentine Verse. Her most recent release is Love on Assignment in Millcreek, Book 1 of The Millcreek Christmas Series. She’s also written three novels under the pen name of Julianna Desmond, her latest being Only A Whisper Away.

A former estate administration paralegal, JoAnn writes contemporary Christian romance full-time and lives with her family in her native southern Indiana.

Feel free to connect with her at https://www.facebook.com/authorjoanndurgin or via her website at https://joanndurgin.com.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

You Can’t Run from Your Calling By Leslie L. McKee

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
- Proverbs 3:5-6

Growing up, I wanted to be a writer, among other things. I wrote a few short stories, but I mostly wrote poetry. I’d carry a notebook with me everywhere I went. I entered contests, and I was even a finalist three years in a row for a prestigious summer program for high school writers. I considered a career in journalism. I continued to write on a regular basis until I hit college. There, it slowed a bit as I pursued other interests, but I would write something for special occasions or class projects. Writing, as a career, however, was pushed to the side.

I thought I knew where I was going with my career path, but things took a turn in 1994. That’s when I was hit by a car, and my journey with chronic pain and chronic illness began. I found some solace in journaling, but I never saw it as a career.

Over the next few years, my love of reading led me into reviewing for publications. I was writing again. Almost without even realizing it, I had come full circle … back to my love of writing. And yet, I still didn’t expect it to go anywhere.

People told me I should share my story of chronic pain and illness, but I’ve never been one to open up to anyone … especially strangers. So, I continued to be content with writing reviews and editing (a career that came out of my publishing connections). I had a job where I could read, and I loved it!

One day, I received an email that I would later recognize as a nudge from God. An editing connection sent me information on entering a contest to have devotions published by Ellie Claire/Worthy Publishing. The topic was one that I’d been toying with writing about for years, yet I never pursued it. I wrote back saying I was definitely interested. After I pushed send, it suddenly hit me: I had never written a devotion in my life! Sure, I’d read a lot of them, but I’d only written reviews or poetry. However, I had committed to submitting a sample, and so I did.

I never expected to hear back from them. So imagine my surprise when I was offered a contract to write ten devotions to be included in a 365-day compilation. It was at that moment that I realized God had done it again 😊

Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” That is exactly what happened to me when I hit “send” on that email.

The Lord knew that desire had never truly left my heart. He’d placed it there, after all! It just took a bit of a “nudge” (by way of a car accident and a friend) to remind me of the calling that had been placed on me decades earlier.

God has a calling for each of us, and I fought mine for years. Perhaps you have, as well. Reread Proverbs 3:5-6. Consider memorizing it. Go to the Lord in prayer. Ask Him for guidance in every aspect of your life, including your writing. Then trust Him. He knows what He’s doing!

Leslie is an editor, reviewer, and author. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and The Christian PEN. Her devotionals have been published in compilations by Ellie Claire: Just Breathe, Refresh Your Soul, and Breathe: Devotions to Quiet the Soul. She has had flash fiction stories published, as well. Leslie is currently working on her first book, a devotional for women battling chronic pain and illness.

In her spare time, Leslie enjoys reading, crocheting, spending time with family and friends (and her turtle!), and rooting for the NY Giants.

Social media links:

   (@leslielmckee for all social media sites)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Saying Goodbye by Patty Smith Hall

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven.   Ecclesiastes 3:1

February was a month of bittersweet endings and new beginnings for me. For one thing, I finished my last contracted novella. It was probably the hardest story I’ve ever written, one because I didn’t want to write it. I’m excited to start my journey into indie publishing, and just wanted to ‘get on with it.’ So writing this novella was not at the top of my to-do list.

But write it, I did. Once I dug into Patrick and Grace’s story, I didn’t want to let it go. Their story could have easily turned into a full-length novel, and as usual, I got a bit frustrated I was limited to a novella. But it might just be one of the best ones I’ve ever wrote.

Once the manuscript was sent, I was a mixed bag of emotions. I’ve been blessed to have been traditionally published these last ten years. For a girl who wondered if she’d EVER get the call, I’ve loved every single second of it. It’s a dream fulfilled by God who had bigger plans for me than I’d had for myself. And going indie doesn’t mean I won’t turn to traditional publishing again. It just means that my focus will be on my indie projects.

Once I mourned a bit, the excitement of going indie caught up with me and I have work to do.

Now for what I learned last month.

In February, I found the Self-Publishing Show podcast, and as I was going through past shows, I came across one regarding rapid release that piqued my interest. If you don’t know what a rapid release is, let me explain. Rapid release is when you write three or four books, then releases one each month for four months. During that time, you write the next book in the series, and the next. The quick release of those first four books builds excitement for your next book and dovetails into backlist sells.

Because I’m not the quickest writer, I wondered how I could use this to my advantage. I have two books written and in edits, and the cover for one of them. I also got the rights back on the WWII series I wrote for Love Inspired Historical and arranged for new covers.
While I won’t have a new book out until July, here’s how I’m using the rapid release system.

  • April 1—Release of Hearts in Flight (WWII series, Book 1)
  • May 1—Release of Hearts in Hiding (WWII series, Book 2)
  • June 1—Release of Hearts Rekindled (WWII series, Book 3)
  • July 1—Release of Gold Dust Bride (Rushed to the Altar series, Book 1)
  • October –Release of Rushed to the Altar series, Book 2
  • November—Release of WWII Box set with bonus Christmas Novella
  • Early 2021—Release of The Baby Barter (WWII series, Book 4)

My hope is this will build my reader base and give me enough time to finish the third book in the Rushed to the Altar series as well as the first two books of a contemporary series (one written and needs editing.) I’ll be running Amazon as well as Facebook ads, and offering all the books on Audible.

A busy month ahead. But I want to give you a little preview of the cover of my new Rushed to the Altar series coming out in July.

Once I mourned a bit, the excitement of going indie caught up with me via @pattywrites #SeriouslyWrite #amwriting


Patty Smith Hall lives in North Georgia with her husband of 36+ years, Danny. Her passion is
to write tender romances based in little-known historical moments. The winner of the 2008 ACFW Genesis award in historical romance, she is published with Love Inspired Historical, Barbour and Winged Publishing, and is a contributor to the Seriously Writing blog as well as Journey magazine. Patty is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. 

4 Women Bring Southern Charm to a Cowboy Town 
Crinoline Creek, Texas, 1868
A Cowboy of Her Own by Patty Smith Hall

Bookish southern belle Madalyn Turner knows what she wants—to be a cowboy and own a Texas ranch. But books are far different from real life and soon she realizes she needs help.