Book Release Update by Julie Arduini

If you’ve read Christians Read for any length of time, you’re aware I was seeking publication. Earlier this year I signed with Write Integrity Press for a three book contemporary romance series based in the Upstate NY Adirondack Mountains. I can’t wait to share my friends from the fictional village of Speculator Falls.

I learned the official titles for each book and I’m excited. They reflect not only part of the plot, but the surrender journey the characters go through.

EntrustedJenna Anderson, sassy Youngstown, Ohio city-girl, plows–literally–into Upstate New York’s Adirondack village, Speculator Falls, with a busted GPS after agreeing with one phone interview to accept the senior center director position with the goal of belonging no matter how out of place she appears and how angry she makes town councilman and grocer Ben Regan.

Her new life is so rural there are no traffic lights, and when she learns her car isn’t equipped to handle the mountain terrain, Ben’s grandmother offers her late husband’s vehicle, further alienating the local businessman.

As she endears herself to the seniors at the center and creates a vision full of ideas, programs, and equipment, she ruffles Ben’s plans to keep Speculator Falls void of change, including the store his grandfather built.

The two work through community events and shared heartbreak only to face off in a town council meeting where Ben publically rejects her proposal for the senior center, causing Jenna to react out of her fears about belonging.

She returns to Ohio where she realizes she needs to surrender her plans for the center and fears about belonging and trust her Heavenly Father when facing fear, change, loss, and love.

Entangled—
A single mom and former Adirondack sheriff enters beauty school but creates split ends for the men in her life.

Engaged
Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with crushed dreams, egg on her face, and the chance to make a new start with the very people and places she used to make fun of.

Entrusted is set for release next month. I don’t have a cover to share yet so when I have updates, I’ll be sure to pass that on. I encourage you to consider Entrusted as a Christmas gift for the romance reader on your list.

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But wait! There’s more. I do have a cover for another book I’m co authoring with Jerusha Agen, Theresa Anderson, Joan Deneve, Marji Laine, Fay Lamb, Elizabeth Noyes and Betty  Owens. The Love Boat Bachelor is a sequel to last year’s A Dozen Apologies. This time readers pick who Brent Teague will propose to. I can’t say much more than that except for I love the premise and I am having a blast writing my chapters. Stay tuned for this romance as well.

As you can tell, setting is a big part in the books I’m writing. What’s a setting you enjoy? Have you traveled there?

 

 

When Childhood Stories Grow Up by Julie Arduini

I’m late to the party but my new binge watching hobby has been Once Upon a Time. I’m fascinated by the way the writers have taken beloved fairy tales and classic stories and put a modern spin on them. For the few people left who haven’t heard of the show, characters like Snow White, Prince Charming, Belle, Red Riding Hood, the dwarves, Hook, Aurora, Mulan, Rumpelstiltskin, Pinocchio and the Evil Queen are part of a modern town called Storybrook.

When the show begins we learn the town is under a curse and that the characters have forgotten their fairy tale roots. A little boy adopted by the mayor has a special book and believes everyone in Storybrook is from a story. When his biological mom comes to town, the clock in the village starts to work again and things start to change.

I’ve had fun thinking about the show, the original stories, and the new opportunities the characters have with a contemporary take on things. Often the characters are motivated by revenge, greed, or loss. When an episode ends, I realize even as an adult, there’s a lesson for me to take away. The pure bliss of such great writing keeps me pressing play to watch the next episode.
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Then I saw movie trailers for Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. This was one of my favorite books growing up. When I felt dramatic and wanted sympathy for a lousy day I’d open the pages and realize my life wasn’t so bad afterall. To see this updated and onscreen got me thinking again. This is another classic now updated and available for adults.

 

What other books from my childhood are out there as movies or other adaptations I enjoyed as an adult? I took a look and came up with:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Freaky Friday

Ramona and Beezus

Nancy Drew

The Grinch

What about you? Have you noticed anything on television or the big screen that was once your favorite book as a child?

For inspiration, take a look at this list.

 

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How Writing is Like Moving by Julie Arduini

This past year has been full of adventures both in and outside my writing life. I had the opportunity to sign contracts and move forward in the publication process. Most of my time has been spent with our journey to move to what we call our “forever” home.

We’re now in our new place and although there’s still boxes to unpack, I’m already reflecting. I realized that a lot about the moving process reminds me of writing.

1. Plotting it Out

I’m a planner and organizer. When we first started praying about the move we listed what God laid on our hearts. The needs for the new home. As we progressed and I started packing things up, I labeled boxes. I wrote the name of the room I wanted it in and what the contents contained. This has been a life saver. When I’ve been asked “Where is the…” even if it’s still packed, I pretty much know where it is.

My writing life is like that, too. I’ve tried to be “seat of the pants” when it comes to plot and it isn’t natural. I don’t write every detail down, but I need a plan. My characters need a background and it’s important to write it out.

2. The Sagging Middle

There was the time in the real estate process when we had to wait on others and we didn’t know how long things would take. Now that we’ve been in the house two weeks there are boxes I can tell aren’t as critical because they’re still in the hall.

Like writing, the beginning and the end are exciting to me. Bridging those has never been easy, and I have a feeling I’m not the only author with that struggle. They don’t call it the sagging middle for nothing.

3. The Euphoria

Signing our name on the paperwork was exciting. Receiving the key? Try and stop our grins. Sitting in our chairs in the Florida room watching the birds at the feeder brings about a joy I can’t describe.

Putting my name on three contracts this year was an amazing feeling. Revising a chapter and receiving great feedback brings about an excitement most outside of writing wouldn’t understand. Hitting send on that manuscript? It’s euphoric to finish and know you’ve done your best and it’s time to let the baby go.

I’m sure there’s more similarities I’ll think of as I keep unpacking but those are the ones that came to mind.

Are there any you can think of?

 

Lessons from an Apple Core by Julie Arduini

While I’m in the middle of unpacking boxes and getting things set up in our new home, our youngest asked if she could have an apple. She’s on a Granny Smith kick these days and likes me to cut it up. I have a Pampered Chef slicer that works like magic.

Except last night.

I tried every which way to get that apple cut. I pressed down as hard as I could hoping the core would break under the pressure.

The core never flinched.
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I’m a visual person and right away I felt a check in my spirit.

These days, these last days where wars are popping up, diseases run rampant without borders, people rise up and claim they are savior and many follow—only those with a strong core are going to withstand.

Wow.

A strong core is someone who not only knows Christ in a personal way, but trusts Him. It doesn’t mean anyone is perfect or never has moments of doubt or fear.

But when the special news reports seem hourly and full of bad news—

When scandals appear to put criminals in a better financial bracket while we seem to work harder for less—

It’s tempting to think about bending.

Giving in.

Joining the world for just one choice.

Maybe two.

Remember, we’re in this world, but we aren’t of it.

We’re made in God’s image and He has a purpose for us.

Keep leaning on Him. Go hard after Him to learn strategies, wisdom, secrets only He can share.

And watch your core build to the point that when the fires come, you don’t just survive.

You thrive.

That’s a strong core.

 

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What I Wish the World Knew About Depression by Julie Arduini

I was stunned to open my Facebook feed and find it full of tributes to Robin Williams. I knew he wasn’t even 65, so I wondered if it was his heart. I was devastated to read and now know it was a suicide.

His family shared that he had been struggling with deep depression. His own confessions regarded his addictions. I love to read biographies and such and most of the great comedians had ravaging inner pain. Many medicate with alcohol or drugs. All in that category used humor, and we found it entertaining.

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I suspect his death is especially hard because his talents knew no bounds. Hysterical stand-up. Oscar winning drama. Laugh out loud interviews he hijacked. Touching tributes to causes and people like St. Jude’s. TV. Movies. I can’t think of another person like him, not before, not up-and-coming.

Now my Facebook feed is full of posts, articles, updates and comments regarding depression, suicide, God’s word, eternity. I don’t think any of these help his family. I pray something does. I can’t imagine the torment of anyone left behind after a suicide.

My hope is that through my small experience with depression someone might get a glimpse of what it is like. It took decades for me to realize I had hormonal imbalance. I suffered with severe PCOS, so I’m not sure if the two were related. But when I was in a certain time of the month I could feel a change and it was as ominous as a dark cloud and still night in the midwest. Nothing would be wrong otherwise and a thick veil of darkness consumed me. I was rocked with shame, for what, I don’t know. But it perpetuated knowing people needed me. The physical drain, almost like a vaccuum suck somehow took all energy and joy out of me left it impossible to manage the easiest of tasks. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to. I simply could not. Like I said, it was absolutely consuming.

This would hit hard for twenty minutes straight. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’ll be real here. It was such an intense darkness that I can think of many times I got a suitcase out and started to pack. I thought if I ran somewhere, anywhere, my family would be free of what my torment delayed them in having.

Three times I can recall walking to the medicine cabinet. I picked up pills and stared. I knew what I was contemplating but I was that void of hope and that full of desperation. And yes, this was as a Christian, and a strong one at that.

I longed for someone to bust in the door when I’d hide and tell me I was worth it. Who would hold me and let me cry or ooze the darkness out in whatever way. No one did. For those closest to me, they admitted they didn’t know what to do. They thought I wanted to be alone. I felt like I had no choice.

My story has a happy ending, and it is only by the grace of God. I finally broke down and confessed everything to my doctor. I now take a prescription medication that balances my moods and curbs menopause effects. Even with a hysterectomy, I still struggle. I’m upfront when I’m having a hard time. It’s not as dark or isolating but I get frustrated. My memory isn’t what it used to be. I have trouble sleeping. I tire easily than I used to. But it’s no where near where it was.

What do I wish the world knew?

1. It’s the darkest, most isolating and oppressive experience in the world. If you haven’t experienced it, you shouldn’t give answers as an expert.

2. It’s a vicious cycle, always looming. Just when you start to crawl out of the pit, there is a tug on your ankle threatening to pull you down and keep you there. It is frightening.

3. Isolation is the game plan of oppression. Love the person, no matter how much they protest, that they are going out with you for coffee. Show up with bagels. They will say they are busy and fine. Show up anyway.

4. If you’re not sure what to say, admit that. Transparency is an oasis. Patronizing, packaged answers are a wasteland. I didn’t feel better when I heard “I don’t know what your problem is.” Or, “You just need to snap out of it.” If I could have, I promise you, I would have led the way.

5. Jesus Christ CAN set you free. I admitted above that even as a Christian I struggled, so I get that you might argue why bother? Because without Him, I promise you, I’d be a dead statistic. Knowing HIm gave me enough hope to speak out, to call and seek help. I could picture Him next to me, weeping with me. That helped me so much. He is real, He is for you. Don’t go another step without Him.

To learn more, please visit the following: peacewithGod.net

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Trusting God by Julie Arduini

I’ve been hit and miss blogging here this summer. I’d love to say it’s because I’m hunkered down with re writes and marketing plans now that contracts are signed. Although there’s truth to that, our family has been on a crazy ride this season.

We’ve had travels for family visits and our teen son’s missions trip. The bulk of our time has been searching for a new home. Last month we thought we found it. The offer was accepted and things seemed in motion. Deep down I sensed something was off, but I didn’t want to think about it. Red flags started popping up, but we didn’t think much of it. We dismissed them as inconveniences.

And the deal fell through.

Once we recovered from the shock we all confessed we felt this was going to happen. The challenge was to move past the emotions and trust God to move us forward. Literally.

There was one object lesson that gave me the courage to keep that process at the Lord’s feet. I’m a visual person and when this showed up on my Facebook feed, I felt the urge to save it. Now I know why.

Artist unknown. First appeared on Facebook.

Artist unknown. First appeared on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The house we thought would be ours was nice. There was an open floor plan and space for entertaining, yet for us to recharge as an introverted family. It was designed similar to the home we left behind in our faith move from Upstate NY to Ohio. The yard was huge. There were “extras” we didn’t even pray about.

But fast forward past the deal falling through and choosing to move on, we are now on track to close on a new home even better than that one. This house has more space and bigger bedrooms. Cozier. A gorgeous neighborhood with breathtaking landscaping and privacy. So much more, and yet, $15K less than the last house. The sellers left a list of items they can’t take with them and gave us first shot at buying at a reasonable price. Nearly everything we needed was on that list and it saved us a lot of money.

Isn’t God good?

I wish that was my only lesson in the making this summer. With our current home, I was certain we’d be selling. Put a sign in the yard, the people come, we negotiate, done.

Not so fast.

As we’ve made repairs and cleaned out, we’ve prayed every step of the way. When we asked our agent to tour the house and share her insight she was honest. We were taken before the recession with the appraisal. The house will never appraise at the amount we need it to. Many families were taken like we were. Some lost their jobs after the recession and were forced into banktruptcy. They can’t buy right now—but next year—they can.

Her suggestion was to rent our current house out.

At first I couldn’t even entertain it. Afterall, it’s always about buying and selling. Not buying and renting. Right?

Our answer might not be everyone’s but we laid this down in prayer. And I felt such peace. Our agent has provided helps so we’re informed and protected the best we can. By focusing on that visual above, I was able to hand my plan for a straight sell and consider His plan.

Trusting God is so hard. That’s what makes the reward of faith so rich. We can’t see what’s ahead. We have to believe His best for us is the plan. When Eve sinned her real motivation was far. She didn’t think God would come through for her.

Boy, do I relate.

My prayer for you is if trusting God is a struggle, surrender that fear. The same inspectors that went through the first house also inspected this home we plan on moving into. They couldn’t believe we’re getting more house for less money. Over and over they said, “God’s sure blessing you.” They even pointed to the design on the doors, a cross. “See, even down to the door. A cross. God’s blessing you.”

Trust Him to bless you, too. Not for things, don’t get me wrong. As excited as I am for this house, the real blessing here is peace. Unity. And favor.

Trust Him today.

And It’s Official by Julie Arduini

I have a confession to make.

I’ve struggled as one of the bloggers here.

Not because I had an issue with anyone, quite the opposite, actually. As a reader, the other bloggers here at Christians Read are truly my favorite authors and have been. As a writer, they are my mentors.

But I felt like that Sesame Street sketch.

One of these things isn’t like the others.

Why?

Everyone was published but me. No one ever said a word about it as far as pressuring me to change the status. I was working quietly behind the scenes revising and taking my chapters through critique groups. But I let it get to me.

I even offered to step down.

And the gang lovingly said forget it.

They let me know it wasn’t a matter of if I’d be published.

It was a matter of when.

And I’m thrilled to say the time has come.

I signed two contracts recently that I’m really excited about.

The first is for an infertility devotional with Chalfont House Publishing. Heidi Glick, Elizabeth Maddrey, Kym McNabney, Paula Mowery, Donna Winters and I share our experiences with transparency in a way none of us saw in books when we were going through our struggles. Yet, there is hope. Something women in this season are in desperate need of. It’s the first time my name will be on a cover. Yay!

The second is twenty years in the making. Write Integrity Press offered a contract for my Adirondack contemporary romances. Spectacular Falls is finished and I can’t wait for readers to meet Jenna Anderson and Ben Regan. She’s the new senior center director in Speculator Falls producing a lot of change for grocer Ben Regan. My hope is readers fall in love with the people and the area. I’ve said more than once if I could go anywhere in the world, I’d most likely choose the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate NY.

The real Charlie Johns store in Speculator, NY is the inspiration behind JB's the store in Spectacular Falls. Picture by Julie Arduini

The real Charlie Johns store in Speculator, NY is the inspiration behind JB’s, the store in Spectacular Falls. Picture by Julie Arduini

I don’t know why having a contract makes a difference. I told my mom the only thing I can figure out is perhaps deep down I believe it’s validation. That I AM meant to do this writing thing. That someone believes in me. That I don’t stink.

Whatever the case, I’m thankful for the Christians Read gang. They believed in me when I didn’t and never made me feel less than because I wasn’t published. Thank you, reader, for contacting me behind the scenes when you enjoyed a post and didn’t question my qualifications.

Here are one sentence hooks for the series:

Spectacular Falls:

A  city-girl plows into an Adirondack village and produces change for the grocer.

Untangled:

A single mom and former Adirondack sheriff enters beauty school but creates split ends for the men in her life.

To Be Determined:

Trish Maxwell returns to Speculator Falls with crushed dreams, egg on her face, and the chance to make a new start with the very people and places she used to make fun of.

I’ll keep you posted!

 

It’s a Good Thing by Julie Arduini

I’ll never be mistaken for Martha Stewart on several levels, but she has that catch phrase, “It’s a good thing.” Well, there are some good things going on that I thought I would share. Because in full disclosure, I’m dealing with the stomach bug making its way through the family, we’re trying to ready our home for sale, and we’re looking for what we believe God has as our forever home.  These things made me miss my last scheduled post, so I thought I’d pop in and share what I can.

Because I don’t want to tell you that I learned my husband has been called to a business trip to India this year.

Or that I finished cleaning and our puppy flew through the kitchen and left his huge paw tracks everywhere.

So let me share some good things.

  • Last month I signed with Chalfont House. This is the first contract where my name goes on the cover, so pardon me while I do a little dance. Heidi Glick, Elizabeth Maddrey, Kym McNabney, Paula Mowery, Donna Winters and myself are writing a devotional on infertility. This opportunity dropped in my lap and I’m so excited about it. This is the book we wish existed when we were going through our season. None of our stories are the same, and we’re transparent about what our circumstances were, our doctors, the people around us, and more. Yet in these candid stories is hope. Prayers. And God’s Word. These ladies are amazing. Stay tuned.

 

  • I tried an experiment based on reading posts from Michael Hyatt and Jeff Goins. This year I was intentional about building my newsletter list by offering a contemporary romance to subscribers throughout 2014. Match Made in Heaven is a contemporary romance I first penned as a new Christian and a very green writer. I’ve had a blast revising it and sharing with subscribers. The experiment is working. My newsletter list is 4X bigger than it was in January. It’s not massive, but it’s growing. And like Martha says, “It’s a good thing.” My fiction features surrender issues and Upstate NY settings, and I’m proud to showcase Hammondport in this story, part of the Finger Lakes. As for surrender—Beth Prescott needs to let go of her past and comparing herself to others. Dean Kellerman’s stuck on trying to earn forgiveness because his mistakes continue to haunt him. Want to know more? Subscribe for free at http://juliearduini.com right sidebar and watch your inbox for activation.

My friend Holly's post on singleness went viral.

 

  • One of my dearest friends, Holly Hrywnak, recently started blogging. When I’m in Upstate NY we get together and share our struggles, breakthroughs, and I’m constantly encouraging her to write. She has one of the voices that I know God has a huge plan to use, and He is. Last week Holly’s post Forever Alone: The Single Girl Struggle, went viral. Her blog isn’t a year old and that post lit up cyberspace. She nails what I remember feeling as a single person, and what I’ve observed in others. If you know someone who is single, send them to her post. It went viral for a reason. Yep, Martha again. “It’s a good thing.”

There are other things going on that I wish I could share, but this is a good snapshot of what’s going on. And you know, as catchy as Martha’s phrase is, all that’s going on is better than a good thing. You know what it is?

A God thing.

The very best kind, don’t you think?

What God things are going on in your life?

No Dumb Questions by Julie Arduini

Each Easter season I’m fascinated to watch our daughter process Christ’s love for us as she watches it through our church’s Passion  Play. She has mild special needs that include comprehension issues, so often things her peers can figure out without a lot of cues, she needs some explanation. This year she wasn’t just the townsgirl/robe carrier, she made her way to the crucifixion scene. (I’m not certain she was allowed, but that’s another post for another day.)

Once the play ended, she asked if she could watch the Bible series on the History Channel. She compared the two performances and tried in her ten year old way to compare it to what she knew of the Bible. Of course, she had questions.

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Jesus inviting the children to come forward. Our daughter is in the light blue.

  • Why is Jesus looking at Peter funny when he’s talking?

(Because Jesus knows in a matter of hours Peter will deny Him three times.)

 

  • Where do you think Satan was when Jesus was on the cross?

(I’m guessing close by, enjoying every second, thinking he had won.)

 

  • Why did you say I’m more blessed than Thomas?

(Because she believes without needing to see.)

 

  • I don’t understand how Saul and Paul are the same person.

(That’s a tough one to explain. But in the end, she grasped that Saul was someone who lived to see Christians die. He was on his way to catch Christians when Jesus blinded him. Saul’s life changed so much he became Paul, one of the greatest evangelists the world could ever know. And what faith on the Christians part, because they allowed Paul in, not sure if his transformation was true.)

 

  • Why is it such a big deal John is listed last and it says he died of old age?

(At the end of our Passion Play it lists each disciple and how they died. John the Revelator is the protagonist and he jokes how they’ve tried to burn him, poison him, beat him…and nothing worked, so they exiled him. For him to die of old age gives me the goose bumps. He took care of Mary. He was a true friend. And how he loved the Lord.)

 

She had a lot of questions but I loved her understanding, the best we can, the depth of Christ’s love to sacrifice as He did. That she saw flawed men who goofed up and goofed up bad turn things around so much they were among the first to take the gospel and run with it. She understood when evil is the core of intentions, it will not end well.

Her excitement fanned my flames of adoration.

I kept thinking back to Peter. So confident and sure to full of shame. And because of Christ, stronger than ever and remembered through the ages because we can relate. Paul. He thought he was right, and to know he had a hand in so many murders, how could he go on? But go on Paul did. I’ve always been inspired by Him.

And of course, John. Talk about passionate for Christ. The attempts to kill him were such failures they sent him away to exile. I’m sure no one wanted to see his anointed face as a reminder he couldn’t be silenced, not by their hand. That gives me courage to be bolder.

But none of these questions exist, there’s no reason to explore the personal histories without Jesus.

And I praise God our kids know Him. They treat participating in the Passion Play as a small gift to Him, their way of saying thank you for eternal life. For our daughter, thanks we don’t have to kill animals and use their blood to get forgiveness. She gets that Jesus did that for us.

If you weren’t able to take opportunity to watch the life, death and resurrection of Jesus played out, it’s not too late. Find a copy of Passion of the Christ. Check out the History Channel.

Or, best of all, take time apart and spend some quiet time in prayer.

You’re welcome to ask questions.

 

Photo by Julie Arduini/dream special effect used

What Would You Put in Your Locket? By Julie Arduini

origami owl photo: Origami Owl Living Lockets 3.jpg

Each Christmas vacation I visit my dear friends from my school years. Last December we met at the mall and as soon as I saw Julie, I was drawn to her necklace. It was a locket with charms inside. She told me it was a gift from her husband, an Origami Owl necklace.

I looked it up when I got home and became intrigued with them. The idea is you buy a necklace and fill it with charms that summarize your life and interests.

The charm choices are limitless.

  • Mom
  • USA/Military
  • Children (blue/pink)
  • Dog
  • Cat
  • Cheerleading
  • Golf
  • Cross
  • Words like faith and family
  • Flip flops

and more.

I gifted myself a cheaper brand for my birthday and I was surprised by how long it took me to figure out what charms I wanted. There’s only so much room in the locket, so you want to get it right.

I represent a lot of things to people: wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend. Ohio person, Upstate NY born and bred. Writer. Reader. Dog lover. Coffee drinker. Choco-holic. And of course,  Jesus-girl.

So, what did I end up with?

  • A set of wedding rings to represent marriage
  • A boy charm to represent our oldest son
  • A girl charm to represent our daughter
  • A pink cross to show the world I’m a Jesus-girl.
  • A stack of books because I’m a writer and a reader.

I think those sum me up well.

But I wondered, what charms would people pick?

If you were given a locket and 5 charms to choose from, what ones would most signify you?

I’d love to hear what you would choose, and why.

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Do Writers Owe their Audience by Julie Arduini

(This post contains spoiler alerts if you haven’t yet watched The Good Wife on DVR.)

I love to discuss writing when it comes to television. When I find a well-written show, I’m a fan. I still talk about the episode of LA Law when Roz walked into the elevator while talking, not seeing it was out of order. She fell to her death, a move I never saw coming. She was a regular character with a solid storyline.

Or so I thought.

It was the same when on 30-Something they teased a major death. Well, one character had cancer. They led you to believe she was going to be the one, and it made sense. Imagine my surprise when it was another character, the beloved Gary, who died in a bicycle accident no one saw coming.

I’m probably not the average television observer because I do look at it from a writing perspective. When I turned on the TV Sunday, I settled on The Good Wife because it was supposed to be The Mentalist. I was writing and although The Good Wife isn’t a show I watch often, between commercials and the little I’ve watched, I was familiar with the storyline. About 2/3 way though, I looked up and realized something unexpected was taking place. There was no foreshadowing that I was aware of, minus the minute before the shooting.

When the credits rolled I couldn’t believe it. The show eliminated the hero.

As I read online about it, killing off Will Gardner (played by Josh Charles) was a surprise to the audience, but not to anyone connected to the show. In fact, they had known for a year Josh Charles was leaving.

Audience reaction was mixed. Some, like me, found it a bold move that allows for new storylines to jump off the page.

But a lot of fans felt betrayed. They’ve been watching in anticipation of an official pairing between the hero and heroine. Will and Alicia. They’ve tuned in week in and week out, waiting. And now all hope of that romance returning and lasting is gone. And fans are angry.

That got me thinking. How many times as a reader have I been disappointed because the ending didn’t go “my way?” Who was the writer creating for? The reader and guessing what they might want, or for them and their own plot?

The Good Wife producers knew there would be a backlash, so they even had a letter for fans. Josh Charles even admitted they talked about the ways to say goodbye to his character. The actress who played the heroine, Julianna Margulies, went through this once before when her romantic pairing on ER, George Clooney, left the series. Back then they opted for his character to move to Seattle, and when the series ended, the two characters reunited and fans were delighted. The Good Wife cast and crew even tossed out the “move to Seattle” idea, one that would have ultimately given fans hope for Will Gardner’s return and possible romance with Alicia.

But with his violent death, Will Gardner’s dead and any hope of him and Alicia is gone.

These characters won't have a chance at love thanks to writers. The Good Wife, courtesy CBS

These characters won’t have a chance at love thanks to writers.
The Good Wife, courtesy CBS

And that’s real life, and the ultimate reasoning behind why the writers went the way they did. Life is messy. Sometimes the loose ends aren’t tied into a pretty bow. There are days you wake up with no indication you have hours left to live. The writers felt exploring the reality of life was a better direction to take the show than give into fan loyalty to two characters.

That makes me ask, what about you? As a reader and/or television viewer, what do you expect from writers? For them to follow their gut and plotting, or create with your happiness in mind?

Like I confessed, I come from a writer’s angle. I want to be surprised. I want that shocking moment that I don’t see coming, as long as it makes sense. I know it creates new challenges, but I find those storylines exciting and full of opportunity. When fans get their way, I think ultimately they end up disappointed and writers stifled. My example? Moonlighting, the 80’s show that paired Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd’s characters, and the show died a fast death.

I’d rather see a major character experience the death.

What are your thoughts?

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June Foster and Why She Wrote Ryan’s Father by Julie Arduini

Julie’s Note:

I had the pleasure of growing leaps and bounds as a writer under the mentorship of June Foster when we were in the same critique group. I admire her writing about subjects that are difficult and even controversial. This is the case with her latest book, Ryan’s Father, a winner with the Clash of the Titles reader-driven contest.

Ryan’s Father conquers the subject matter of homosexuality and Christianity. As you can imagine, June has come up against negativity for writing this book. I asked her to share why she wrote it, and her thoughts on tackling such a hard subject matter. Here is June Foster’s reply. Thanks, June!

The Story Behind Ryan’s Father

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Many years ago when my daughter was in high school, a young friend of hers would join us in the morning before school for a short Bible study. This young man was being raised by a busy father and no mother in the home. Once the teen pulled me aside and asked if we could chat. The precious guy confessed to an attraction to another boy in our church and asked my opinion. I could see how he suffered and needed direction. At the time I explained the best I could about what the Bible says about homosexuality. The boy’s situation grabbed my sympathies and wouldn’t let go.

Another time, an almost identical incident occurred. A young lady, a relative on my father’s side, asked me the same question.

Then years later after I had begun writing novels, the two events sparked an idea. I wanted to write a book which reflects a Christian worldview on the subject of homosexuality. In my book, a young Christian school teacher discovers same sex attraction, yet as a believer, he doesn’t want to go into the lifestyle. With Ryan’s Father I’d like to offer hope for any who wish to find freedom. For others who are happy where they are, this book is not for you.

When I read the Bible, in particular the books of Leviticus and Romans, God makes it plain that homosexual relations are not pleasing to Him. There are people who don’t care what the Bible says and others who would like to twist those passages, interpreting them to say what they’d like to hear. One argument is people are born gay. But I’d like to know why God would make someone gay if it’s against His will.

I realize that some may have a predisposition toward homosexuality. But because a person is born with a predisposition to anger doesn’t mean he should commit murder. Or like me, with a legacy of alcoholism. Though I struggled for many years, God set me free, and I don’t have to practice alcoholism.

Okay, now for the S word – sin. I believe homosexuality is a sin. But Christ died for all sin and wants to forgive us. Homosexuality is no worse than any other wrong—murder, adultery, lying, gossiping, you name it.

I believe God has a perfect plan for each of our lives. I’d love to see many find that purpose. When a person lives a homosexual lifestyle, I don’t believe they are experiencing God’s best. I want to see others set free. Frankly, I question whether a person in a gay relationship is truly happy, but only the individual can answer that.

All that to say, with Ryan I wanted to convey the message that homosexuality is wrong, but it is possible to be set free of the lifestyle. I’m not so naive to believe freedom could happen with one decision or a counseling session. In time, God can draw us out of that pit of deception. But only if we first call on Jesus Christ for salvation. Then God’s infinite power, peace, and truth can permeated our lives.

On a side note, I’ve been accused of being homophobic. I need to say—if I judged a homosexual in the lifestyle, I’d have to condemn myself as well. Jesus died for all sins, not just some. I love homosexuals and would welcome them into my church and life.

I’d like to make one last point clear. I’ve heard the question asked: “Will homosexuals go to heaven?” I believe we could fit any other word in place of homosexuals and ask the same question. Thieves, murderers, abortionists, gossips, etc. Ephesians says it is by grace we are saved through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God. Anyone including homosexuals who have called on the name of Jesus for salvation will live for eternity with Him, finally set free of this sin-infested world.

Junefoster June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in Education and a MA in
counseling. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The
Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day – February 1, 2012, As We
Forgive – September 1, 2012, and Deliver Us – April 1, 2013, and
Hometown Fourth of July – July 1, 2012. June’s book, Ryan’s
Father, is available from WhiteFire Publishing January 2014. Red and
the Wolf will be available April 2014. For All Eternity and
Misty Hollow, God willing, will be published in the near future.
June loves to write stories about characters who overcome the issues in
their lives by the power of God and His Word. June uses her training in
counseling and her Christian beliefs in creating characters who find
freedom to live godly lives.

To purchase Ryan’s Father, click here.

What I Learned from Johnny Carson by Julie Arduini

I’m intrigued with the late night talk show changes and last week I blogged about what I’m learning from Jimmy Fallon. Over the weekend my husband and I took advantage of our Amazon Prime membership and watched a documentary on Johnny Carson.

I’d read about his life and knew quite a bit, but there was something in the show that was news to me.

Johnny’s mom wasn’t even close to being encouraging. In fact, she was so harsh that when he won a prestigious governor’s award and he called her to tell her, her response was, “Well, I guess they know what they are doing.”

Johnny Carson photo: Johnny Carson Carnac Carnac.jpg

Ouch.

His need for her praise was so driven that as the show went on, the writers connected the dots that perhaps his failed marriages, isolation, drinking, and fidelity issues could be traced back to the encouragement he sorely needed from his mom, and never received.

Most artists/entertainers admit the foundation of their comedy or gift came from adversity. Laughter hid their pain and gave them attention. Even if they got in trouble at school, they confessed it was okay. Because at least someone was recognizing them.

I learned a few years ago that if I depend on the praise of man to dictate my joy I’m going to be disappointed. A lot. As a writer seeking publication, that’s an essential truth to embrace. There are going to be rejections. Negative reviews. People who don’t understand the sacrifices of the craft. Loved ones who hear of an accolade and aren’t impressed.

When I finally surrendered my fear of rejection and promised God I’d write for Him, a mentor took me aside and shared what her pastor had taught her.

“Have the heart of a dove, and the skin of a rhino.”

I’ve tried to keep that in mind as my writing life progresses. Watching that documentary and hearing his dear friends admit that as talented as Johnny was, happiness eluded him.

We can’t wait for circumstances for joy, and I turned the TV off feeling sad that a man lived a rich life by the world’s standards to die in what felt sad to me. Isolated. Disappointed. There wasn’t mention of a personal faith. And as wealthy as he was and as generous loved ones found him to be, he couldn’t buy joy.

Whether my writing life reaches platinum levels or stays right where I am, I know this: joy comes from the Lord. He is enough, and He is absolutely enthralled by you. If no one on earth encourages you, let His love comfort you.

You have given me greater joy
    than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine. Psalm 4:7, NLT

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Royal Reading by Julie Arduini

So far 2014 has been full of reading for me. It’s a combination of a lot of book reviews due around the same time, a harsh winter, and well, I love reading. My next review is on Valentine’s Day, Rachel Hauck’s Princess Ever After.  As I read, it hit me.

Women love a princess story.

We know girls do. Disney has made a fortune and a legacy banking on that truth. Whether they were born into royalty or married that prince after growing up with some adversity, girls love the movies and merchandise that offer a royal story.

But I’m 40-something.

And I have to confess, I’m as wrapped up in the swoon of an average girl watching love all around her only to find it for herself in the form of a prince. Or a castle that belongs to her, and she finds the prince. Then there are the gowns. There’s the tension of having to choose between a man or a kingdom. Reading about the villain who plots to take away everything for the good of self, while the princess fights for the good of people.

Why is the royal premise as alluring for me now as it was when I was a girl?

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I gave it some thought, and here’s what I came up with.

  • I have greater clarity that a royal love story parallels our Heavenly Father’s love for us. Because of my relationship with Christ, I understand I’m chosen as His beloved. We are daughters of the King. The Bible is full of edicts, promises, passion, warfare, and declarations. When I was younger, I had a lot of baggage that made my own royal love story hard to accept, much less embrace. As I’ve grown closer to the Lord, I love the romance of royalty more than ever.
  • It’s a nice escape. When I’m cleaning up dog messes, folding laundry, and paying bills, it’s hard to get excited about the mundane. Reading about a woman with a car restoration business who learns she’s a royal heir and the country needs her, what a change of pace.  For a little while, I can leave my world and enter another.
  • A royal romance offers another escape, economic reality. I live in NE Ohio, and area that hasn’t recovered from the steel mill closings in the 80’s. Add the recession and the hit the auto industry took, our region has suffered. Hard working people are struggling. A lot of businesses have closed. To read about a kingdom where the heir has drivers, maids, chefs, and a team of people ready to do whatever the royal family needs, it helps me forget the empty storefronts not too far down the road.

How about you? Do you enjoy a royal love story? Why or why not?

If you’d like to read my review of Princess Ever After, visit juliearduini.com on Friday.

***

Have you signed up for the Julie Arduini newsletter? On February 14th subscribers receive the first installment of my contemporary romance, Match Made in Heaven.

Beth Prescott realizes there’s more to her new job with the Hammondsport senior citizens when her clients keep trying to match her with their grandsons. She wants to excel at her job and push past the memories of a bad romance.

Dean Kellerman returns to the area to help his grandfather and forget his mistakes.

The two run into each other and find the only thing they have in common is Walt Kellerman. As they work together can they enjoy a friendship, or, will their secrets divide them once and for all?

Visit juliearduini.com and sign up through the right sidebar. Make sure you activate by looking for the email from Julie Arduini/Mailchimp.

Beating the January Blues by Julie Arduini

Last week Maureen shared a great post about reading and hibernation. Living in northeast Ohio we’ve had 7 snow (cold) days, thundersnow, rolling snow, and two visits from something called the polar vortex. It’s been a long January and like Maureen, I’ve taken advantage of a lot of home time with reading.

January typically is a tough month, our area is known for lack of sun and I have to be intentional to find positive things in the winter, especially one as relentless as this. So, I decided to make good use of the cold and snow and work on projects and try new things.

I thought I’d share some of my accomplishments.

 

  • Updated my website. When I looked at it as a reader, I noticed a few things. I’d recently received feedback that the font was hard to read because it was dark. Although I wasn’t sure I could change it because I use a template, I tried anyway. I was able to change everything but the font in the title (it’s a gamer template I completely made my own.) I changed my contributing author credit page to a slideshow, and added on my sidebar a slideshow of upcoming book reviews. I also added to the sidebar a way to sign up for my free newsletter.

 

  • Read up on ways to improve newsletters. Rob Eager from Wildfire Marketing and Jeff Goins are great information sources. I realized as great as social media is, it’s always evolving and if you count on it as the main way to keep in contact with readers/followers, you’re going to lose a lot from the changes. Email is a way that doesn’t change, and newsletters are a great way I didn’t pay a lot of attention to. I read up on Mailchimp ways to improve and decided to offer a story throughout 2014 that gives readers something no one else can get, and it shows them my writing style, Upstate NY settings, and hopefully engages them while we all wait for me to announce that first author contract.

 

 Beth Prescott didn’t know part of her new job working with senior citizens was the constant matchmaking with their grandsons. She’s focused on making a positive change in their lives and the stream of men showing up in her office are a disruption. Dean Kellerman returns to Hammondsport to help his grandfather and regroup after a heartbreak. The two have a run-in and learn helping Walt Kellerman is the one thing they’re both passionate about. With Beth’s secrets and Dean’s past, can the two fight the obstacles and realize they’re a match made in heaven?

  • Read. Read. Read. I love reviewing books and somehow I scheduled 15 between mid-January and February. Check them out!

    The Dream Dress by Janice Thompson is just one of the books I'm reviewing.

    The Dream Dress by Janice Thompson is just one of the books I’m reviewing.

I also cleaned the kitchen grout, but that wasn’t as much fun as the things above. Tip, vinegar and baking soda do wonders to make grout look brand new.

 

Has winter been brutal for you? If so, what have you done to stay sane?

By the way, I’d love for you to sign up for my newsletter. Visit my right sidebar or click here. Make sure you check your folders for a confirmation email from Mailchimp/Julie Arduini. I don’t want you to miss the first chapter in Match Made in Heaven, and it’s releasing in February.

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