Tuesday, September 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


Monday, September 25, 2017

When Life Throws a Curve Ball by Janice L. Dick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sunday, September 24, 2017

SUNDAY EDITION


Coming Up This Week 

Monday 

Janice Dick

Tuesday 

Donna Fletcher Crow

Wednesday 

Kara Isaac

Thursday 

David Rawlings

Friday Devotion 

Daniella Ojo

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

Upcoming Releases

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 22, 2017

Unmasked


 Unmasked


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

My heart, a vault
Secrets and stories stored
         Away from prying eye
    My vault hides
                                           Deceit,
                                           Desire,
                                                 Depravity!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Thursday, September 21, 2017

You can Achieve a lot in 5 Years

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


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

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

Grace and peace.



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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sibling Rivalry & Perception Redefined ~ by Patricia Beal

We had a rough morning. 

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Perception is:

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

I like that better.


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

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

Surprise, surprise! It worked!

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


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

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

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


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

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

Love y'all.

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

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


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Writing: Winning the Mental Game

By Iola Goulton


I’ve recently returned from the 2017 Romance Writers of New Zealand conference. Our two keynote speakers were Kristen Lamb, social media jedi and bestselling author of Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World, and Christie Craig (aka CC Hunter), New York Times bestselling romance and YA author.

While neither were specifically tasked with talking about winning the mental game of writing, both touched on it, and I believe their insights are worth sharing today.


Are you an Aspiring Writer?


Kristen Lamb started her all-day keynote session by asking how many in the room were aspiring writers. Maybe half the room raised their hands. She then told us we were wrong. All of us. None of us were aspiring writers.

Kristen believes that if we write, we are writers.


If we don’t, we are not. We might be pre-published writers, but we are not aspiring. We are writers, and we need to take ourselves seriously as writers. If we don’t, who will?

The Neverending (Rejection) Story


The next day, we had two sessions from Christie Craig. At the end of her second session she gave us an object lesson I’ll never forget.

Towards the end of her speech, she reached down and pulled a large envelope out of her suitcase. She asked if any of us had ever had our writing rejected. Many people raised their hands. As she spoke, she pulled handfuls of letters—rejection letters—out of the envelope, and sprinkled them on the floor.

Christie talked about how she dropped out of school after tenth grade because she was dyslexic. She talked about how she married at sixteen, and how her mother married at thirteen.

She picked up another envelope, pulled out more rejection letters, and sprinkled them on the floor.


Christie talked about pursuing her writing dream, even though her spelling isn’t always that good, and she doesn’t know how to use commas.

She picked up another envelope, pulled out more rejection letters, and sprinkled them on the floor.


Christie talked about how much she wanted to be a published writer. Enough to keep writing. Enough to never give up. Enough to keep facing rejection.

She picked up another envelope, pulled out more rejection letters, and sprinkled them on the floor.


Christie asked how many rejection letters we thought she had. Fifty? No. One hundred? No. Two hundred? No. Five hundred? No.

All this time, she is still sprinkling rejection letters on the floor. She told us these weren’t all the letters—some were still at home. She said if we don’t believe that these are all rejection letters that we can come up to the front and put them back in the envelopes. No one volunteered, although several people took photographs.

She picked up another envelope, a yellow envelope that was thinner than the others. She didn’t open it. I thought this was her acceptance letters, or maybe her first contract. No, the yellow envelope held more rejection letters—ones the cat peed on before she could file them.


Christie Craig got more than 600 rejection letters before she was published. Six. Hundred. Now she has (I think) 27 books from major NY publishers. She claims she still doesn't know how to use commas—but boy, can she tell a story that packs a punch and has everyone in the room blinking back tears.

She says if a high school dropout from the back end of Alabama can become a New York Times bestselling author simply because she has the guts to keep going because she wants it so much ... then I can win that mental game. So can you.

And if you ever have the opportunity to hear Christie Craig speak, listen. Just remember to wear waterproof mascara.



About Iola Goulton


I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction. Visit my website at www.christianediting.co.nzto download a comprehensive list of publishers of Christian fiction. 

I also write contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist—find out more at www.iolagoulton.com.

You can also find me on:
Facebook (Author)
Facebook (Editing)
Instagram
Pinterest
Twitter