Get Away by Tara Randel

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My daughter and I just got back from a quick trip to the Disney Parks in Orlando. Not only did I get to spend time with one of my favorite people, I also took time off to rest my overactive mind. When I’m writing a book, I get so involved, I forget about everything else going on in my life. ( Explains why this post is so late. I just realized the date! ) But I also know, to be creative, I need days away from the computer to fill the well.

I also need to take time off from work to focus on my relationship with God. Life gets hectic, but I don’t want my busy life to interfere with my daily visits with the Lord. I need the strength only He provides to work, take care of my family, and recharge my creativity.

What better way to appreciate God’s beautiful world than with the flowers and topiary at Epcot?

Here are some pics I hope you’ll enjoy. God is good!

More insights from my mini-vacation next time!

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Creativity: Work or Play?

The other day I was looking through some of my notes and discovered a marketing idea I’d forgotten about. I planned to gather various quotes from my books and pair them with something visual—a photograph I’d bought or shot that reflects the message—to create an ad promoting whichever book contained the quote.

Well, as with many things marketing-related, I started out with good intentions but let it go by the wayside. While such an exercise would be creating something new, it’s not in my wheelhouse of creativity. It felt like business, like marketing (maybe because it is!) and not the fun I usually associate with creativity. If my creative energy was more inspired by visual memes or ads I’d probably have stuck with it. It’s pretty easy for me to stick with writing a book, whether it’s twenty-thousand words or one-hundred-and-twenty-thousand, but evidently not easy to take a few hours to search out the right photo, then blend it together using technology I’m not all that familiar with.

Creativity has a broad umbrella,

one that covers either work or play.

I’m reminded of the many times my husband and I have compared our chosen fields of work. He teaches engineering physics, which includes a lot of things that take more knowledge than I can imagine—hard facts that seem the opposite of creativity. And yet when he’s developing curriculum to teach the principles of design that use the laws of physics, it’s an art to him. That’s his wheelhouse, and he loves it! But it took years of learning to appreciate all of the creative possibilities.

So that brings me to the question of the day, and not just in the creative realm, but for life in general. Do we enjoy working at the things we’re good at, or do we become good at something because we’ve worked at it? Hopefully we get the chance in life to work at something we love, but if the other scenario is true, then maybe we can learn to love something we become good at. Sort of like an arranged marriage in the world of creativity!

May your day be blessed with creativity today.:-)

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Take a Slow Vacation by Hannah Alexander

Ah...to  relax...

Ah…to relax…

This cat has the right idea. He has always known how to relax, and for years I’ve envied him. Of course, he doesn’t have to work for food–unless he feels like hunting outdoors–and he doesn’t have to worry about where his next paycheck is coming from. Nobody puts a cat on payroll. I think the secret is that he doesn’t worry. I take care of him. Mel brushes him, I medicate his eyes, we take turns feeding him and emptying his litter box. Not much to worry about, but he still has a corner on the market of relaxing.

Wouldn’t you love to be a cat for a day? Lay across the top of a cushy chair in the sunroom soaking up the warmth, legs splayed out, happy and secure? Lately, I wouldn’t know that feeling. Do you? Even when we take vacations–which studies have shown doesn’t happen enough in our society–we barely learn to relax before it’s time to go back to work. Even if we love our work, the stressors of it can often get out of control and we walk around in a perpetual state of anxiety.

Let me suggest a slow vacation. It doesn’t have to be a week or two if you don’t have that much time to take. It could be no more than an afternoon–though a full day would be much better. A full week on a slow vacation can be life-affirming.

Have you ever been driving along the highway and seen a road you’ve never driven? May I suggest taking that road next time you have a little time? See where it goes. Sure, it might come to a dead-end. You might even get lost. I did that once, and got so lost I had to stop and ask for directions about how to get back home. The old man at the store frowned at me and said, “I don’t think  you can get there from here.”

But I found my way back anyway. It was fun. It was exciting.

I started hiking that way. I’d be driving through the Mark Twain National Forest and see a logging trail with a numbered sign on it. Here in our area of the state, not many people go hiking, but I started parking at the heads of those logging trails and exploring them. When I found one that had pretty vistas, I invited friends to explore with me. We eventually became so enamored with hiking that we hiked the Grand Canyon. I’ve since hiked different Canyon trails nine times, and the memories are priceless.

When I explore I take my time and use my senses. I’ll stop beside a creek and breathe the fresh air, skip some rocks across the surface, explore the bank for pretty flowers.

But I don’t have to drive anywhere to enjoy nature. This is springtime in Missouri. Birds are building nests right outside my window. I love watching them. I’ll walk outside before the yard is mowed and enjoy the wildflowers blooming. The smells, the sounds, the peace of nature surround me in those moments and I realize the love God must have for us to create so many things of beauty.

Next time you find yourself stressed by work and just keeping up with life, try hard to take a slow vacation. It doesn’t matter that you can’t get away for a week or two. I’ve found that I can take a vacation with just an hour or two of enjoying and relaxing in the peace of God’s creation.

Try it a few times and see if it doesn’t make  you feel more like my cat for at least a few moments.

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Why Values and Morals are Important: Part 4 by Vicki Hinze

Why Morals and Values are Important Part 4, Vicki Hinze, Christians Read, patience, loyalty, kindness

Why Values and Morals are Important

Part 4

By 

Vicki Hinze

  Why Morals and Values are Important Part 4, Vicki Hinze, Christians Read, patience, loyalty, kindness

NOTE: This is Part 4 of a 6-part series of posts. If you haven’t yet read Part 1, Part 2, or Part 3, you can read them now: Part 1   Part 2 Part 3

In this series, we talked first about why we need morals and values and learned they’re important to us and others our whole lives. Then we talked about how we treat ourselves and others so they know we appreciate them and they are important to us. Next we talked about what happens when we hurt others, about responsibility, and about respect. All these things make a big difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Today, let’s look at other things. Things that make a big difference in the kind of life we live and how it affects us and those around us.

Three big things that shape the kind of life we live are patience, kindness, and loyalty.

 

Why Morals and Values are Important Part 4, Vicki Hinze, Christians Read, patience, loyalty, kindness

When we want something, we don’t want to wait for it. We want it right now. That’s being impatient. Maybe we can’t have it right now and that upsets us. But it shouldn’t. We know that if what we want is meant to be ours, it will come. That’s being patient.

It’s not always easy to be patient. Sometimes it’s hard. Whether it is sharing a toy, a place in line, an award or something else we really want, we know that hard things always have good lessons in them. Ones that help us in ways we understand right now, and even more in ways we don’t understand until later.

Patience tells us a lot about ourselves. How we behave during the wait for what we want tells us about self-discipline. That means, we come to better understand how to control ourselves and our feelings. Yes, we still want what we want. And while we might not be able to have it now, we know that good things happen during the wait. We also know if we resent or are angry about having to wait, we need to stop and remind ourselves to look for the good things. That’s important because if we resent, or are upset about waiting, we miss seeing the good things. We miss the chance to learn that these good things, and often even better things than those we wanted, are there for us to find!

Let’s say you have been saving your money to buy a Lego set. You look at it every Saturday when you go to the store. In your mind, you see all the great things you can build with it. It’s going to be such fun—you can hardly wait!

Finally you have enough money. This Saturday, you are going to buy your Lego set. But Saturday comes, and your parents can’t take you to the store. You’re sad and disappointed. You’re upset. You’ve waited so long for this and it’s just not fair.

Now, you could be upset and ruin your whole day. You might sit in your room and pout or even quarrel with your sister or brother. You might refuse to play with a friend, or do something else that you would usually enjoy doing. But you miss those good things, because you’re being impatient. You miss the good things because you want your Lego set and you want it now, not next Saturday.

You’re upset all week. But next Saturday comes, and when you get to the store, there are no Lego sets left. There are others, but not the one you wanted. You’re even more upset now, and maybe angry with your parents, too. If they’d just brought you to the store last Saturday, you’d have your Lego set and be home building all the things you want to build. Now, you’re in a really bad mood.

But then your parents take you to another store. And at this other store, you see your Lego set. And it’s on sale! You have enough money to buy the Lego set and a kite!

You’re happy then. Very happy. And you see that what you thought was a bad thing—the first store being out of your Lego set—was really a good thing—because the second store had it, and it cost less and you were able to also get a kite.

Look at all the time you wasted being upset. A whole week! Quarreling with your sister or brother, not playing with your friend, and not doing other things you would enjoy. If you had known that things would work out the way they did, you wouldn’t have wasted that week or missed out on those good times. But you did. That’s the harm in being impatient.

Throughout our lives, we all are impatient. We want something and we must wait for it. Work for it. Save for it. We learn to exercise our self-discipline and to be patient. To trust that things will work out for us the way they should at the right time.

That’s hard work, but it is important work because some of the most important things that ever happen to us happen while we’re waiting for something else to happen.

Our greatest gifts often come to us when we’re being patient.

Sometimes it’s hard to see that, to remember it, but later we always do. So when we must wait, we must teach ourselves to be self-disciplined. To be patient so we don’t miss the good things.

Why Morals and Values are Important Part 4, Vicki Hinze, Christians Read, patience, loyalty, kindnessDeep inside, we all know we should be kind to others and to ourselves. When we are with others, we like being with them more if they are kind to us, and the less kind they are, the less we enjoy being with them.

But that’s not all there is to kindness, or the only reasons we should be kind. You see, whether you are two or twenty, others learn from you just as you learn from them.

When we are kind, we show others how to be kind. They might not know. They might know but have forgotten. Or they might choose to be unkind because it’s easier for them than being kind.

Being easier doesn’t make being unkind right, and it is not the type of person we want to be. Being kind doesn’t mean it’s okay for others to bully you. It’s not okay. Being kind does mean that you choose to treat others the way you want them to treat you.

We live in a world with billions of people, but do you know that the kindness you show toward someone today might be the only kindness shown to that person today?

 

Imagine that. Going a whole day with no one being kind to you. Or a whole week. That would be hard, and it is hard. As people, we appreciate kindness, and when we don’t feel it from others, it hurts.

Remember the Lego set we talked about? Well, what if you had almost enough money for it, but you needed a little more. And what if you intended to earn the rest by raking leaves for a neighbor. But then you talked to a kid across the street who needed to earn money. His dad lost his job and they don’t have money to buy food.

Now you really want that Lego set. But the family across the street really wants to eat. What kindness can you do?

You might tell your friend that you have a job raking the neighbor’s yard. He can do it instead and earn food money. That’s a kindness. You sacrificing something you want for him to earn something he needs.

You might help him earn that money by raking the neighbor’s yard with him. Helping out in this way makes the work easier and it tells your friend when he needs help, you are there to help him.

The neighbor, knowing why the two of you are raking, might help find a second neighbor who needs some raking done. This helps your friend earn a little more to buy more food.

When we are kind, the good we do always comes back to us. When we help one another and we need help, others will help us. We rely on each other. Not to fix our problems, but to be kind and assist us so that we can help ourselves.

We should never expect someone else to step in and fix our problems. Everyone has their own problems. But if we can do someone a kindness, then we should. That tells them the kind of person we are, and it tells us the kind of person we are.

One of the best things in life is knowing we aren’t alone. Knowing we’re not the only person who has a problem. Feeling alone or as if this trial has only ever happened to us is a terrible feeling. The truth is everyone has problems. How they deal with those problems makes all the difference in the kind of life they live.

If you try to be kind, to be thoughtful of others and to help them when you can, you will still have problems. But you’ll react to them respecting yourself and the other person. You’ll treat others with kindness, and when you have a problem and need kindness from another, someone will be kind to you.

Kindness isn’t always in big things. It can be a smile to someone who needs a smile. It can be to stop and wait, allowing someone to go ahead of you in a line. It can be in picking up something someone drops on the floor and handing it to them.

What kindness really says is that you noticed the other person. You looked at them and saw that they needed something. And you did something thoughtful and caring for them just because you could. Not because you’d be rewarded, or because you had to do it. You did it because you could. That is a very special gift to give to others. And it speaks well of you to them. It tells them that you are smart enough to know the value of kindness.

Why Morals and Values are Important Part 4, Vicki Hinze, Christians Read, patience, loyalty, kindnessWhen you decided that your across-the-street friend needed food money more than you needed the Lego set, you were being loyal to your friend.   When you helped your friend rake the neighbor’s yard and gave your friend the money to buy food, you were being loyal to your friend.

Loyalty means you support someone. Being loyal to your friend means you support your friend. You help your friend when you can.

In life, we have many chances to be loyal. To our family, our friends, and later, to those we work for and those we work with. There are many other times we can be loyal, too. About friendship, we learned that to have a friend, you must be a friend. Well, loyalty works the same way. If you want others to be loyal to you, then you must be loyal to them.

That doesn’t mean you always agree, or you must do something you know is wrong. It means when your friend says or does something that hurts you, you remember all the things that friend has done to help you. You don’t forget everything else that is good because of one bad thing. You talk it over, and you find a solution that respects both of you.

It is easy to be loyal when you and your friend or your parents agree. It’s harder when you disagree, but that’s when you have the most to gain or lose—and the other person does, too.

Loyalty isn’t expecting someone else to always be right. And it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell them when they think they’re right and you know they’re wrong. Loyalty, remember, is supporting someone else. This kind of support means being honest with them, sharing your very best to help them do the right thing.

Let’s say the friend raked the neighbor’s yard and you helped. But you did most of the work. Your friend spent most of the time not raking but talking to another friend, who didn’t help rake.

You might not appreciate that. You gave up something you wanted to help, and now your friend is goofing off. But is that friend goofing off? Or is this other friend trying to help also? You aren’t sure. It could be either. In this case, being loyal to your friend means not judging by what you think you know or see. It means giving your friend the benefit of doubt, trusting your friend until you know the truth.

People are loyal to family and friends. They’re also loyal to bigger things, like their company or their church, to their community or their country. It isn’t always easy to be loyal. Things do happen that make you wonder sometimes if your loyalty is right. That can be scary.

But don’t not question your decision because you’re afraid. It’s good to question it. Because when you do, you learn to discern. That means, you carefully consider whether or not you want to give your loyalty to someone or something. When you do that, you’re thinking about the good and bad, the hard and easy, and the right and wrong.

Loyalty isn’t a thing someone can demand you give them. It’s a choice you make. People who love you and provide for you, people who care for you, deserve your loyalty, and you will want to give it to them. Often, giving your loyalty requires courage. And we’ll talk about that next time, in three weeks.

I hope you’ll join me then for Part 5 of Why Morals and Values are Important. We’ll talk about courage and discipline and civility then. That will give you time to think about patience and kindness and loyalty, and to talk all this over with your mom and dad and see what they think.

If you missed Part 1, Part 2, and/or Part 3, you can still read them. Here are the links to those articles: Part 1   Part 2   Part 3

 

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Where’s the Moose? by Yvonne Lehman

I want to introduce you to one of the most delightful books I’ve ever read. Here are a few of my writers group members talking about Of Moose and Men (… lost and found in Alaska).

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Well, Torry Martin is one of the most delightful persons I’ve ever met. The book is about his years in Alaska which he says were his hardest and the happiest. This book is filled with stories that can make a person laugh out loud (really loud! And for a long, long time! Even ROTFLOL!), cry, be scared to death, and think seriously about life.

Torry says of his co-author, Doug Peterson (“He makes me sound smart! Not an easy feat, mind you!” I think the hardest part in writing about Torry is that he is so multi-faceted, multi-talented, it’s hard to bring it down into a few words.

In a few words: Torry is an award-winning actor, screenwriter, and comedian. He has written for Focus on the Family’s Adventures in Odyssey and has co-written screenplays for several films. As an actor, Torry has appeared in many movies, including Hallmark’s The Ultimate Legacy.

In the preface, we’re told to “Bundle up in your long underwear and grab your bunny boots because we have just crossed the Canadian border and entered Alaska.” Then when you do, just a few of the things you encounter are: a moose getting its head stuck in Torry’s window. A reindeer trapped in his kitchen. A bear almost preventing him from leaving his cabin. And, he once woke up frozen to his floor. The amazing thing is not that we encounter such things, but the way in which the stories come to life in such hilarious, serious ways.

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I don’t think you’ll be disappointed to meet him in Of Moose and Men! It’s published by Harvest House Publishing and available on Amazon.com and at Christian bookstores nationwide.

Happy Reading!

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Called to be Light by Kristen Heitzmann

“You are the Light (2)light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  ~ Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

What does it mean to be light in a troubled world? Speaking out against wrongs? Certainly. Standing for what is right and good? Always. But is it that simple?

What if what is wrong to one person or group creates another wrong? For instance on many campuses now, any speech or idea that someone finds offensive or wrong is no longer allowed. This curtails not only the right to free speech—another wrong—but eliminates discussion that explores off-limits concepts and dulls the steel-on-steel that is the sharpening of minds in a free society. Here is a link to a video that shows how young people are now conditioned to accept patently false facts for the sake of accepting differences.     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfO1veFs6Ho

So wrongs aren’t always clear, but surely what is right and good must be. We need only look at the political campaigns to see how differently even upright, sincere, and God-fearing (or not) would-be leaders view moral and social issues. Knowing right and wrong on a huge scale, i.e. murder, is not the same as knowing how best to handle a particular crisis. And can there be a better example of how badly our differences make us behave? There is absolute truth, but only God comprehends it absolutely, just as only God is good. Yet we all have our “good” boxes and anything that doesn’t fit in that box must be bad. The only problem is that no two boxes are exactly the same—even within the body of Christ. And when our boxes clash, what the world sees is not the starburst shown above.

Told You So AmazonIn my novel TOLD YOU SO, Grace Evangeline tries to use her fame and popularity to promote values. She is a spokesperson for strength and virtue, writing in a genre that is increasingly dark and immoral. She is a light on a hill, so that others can see the way through darkness and know they don’t have to succumb to the world’s expectations. But what happens if she stumbles?

I had a discussion the other day with someone who’d read my book and related strongly to that element. During a time of crisis in her church, when the pastor famously fell from grace, a non-believer told her what struck him most was how eagerly we “eat our own.”

Light is a spectrum. It is only white when all the wavelengths are present. If the yellow light doesn’t agree with the green and tries to outshine it, or the orange thinks the indigo is out there on the fringe with nothing valuable to offer, or the red sins and is cast out, the rainbow is broken and the light can’t shine. Maybe the body of Christ can shine brighter by seeking unity and understanding and by showing respect to one another as in the words of Micah 6:8: (NIV) “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

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The Changing Comfort Zone by Julie Arduini

As I juggle a new business venture that includes releasing two books and prepare for our son’s high school graduation, I realized that over the years there has been so much I was certain I couldn’t do, and yet, God.

Can you relate?

As a new Christian more than twenty years ago, I remember that heavenly nudge to forgive someone. It wasn’t easy, but days after I did, I saw that person and was able to say hello with a smile and mean it. At the time it felt so hard, but Jesus equipped me.

Then I learned I was an infertility patient. The doctor sat me down and explained my chances to conceive were not good at all, but to pray. Trusting Christ through that process seemed bigger than life. He didn’t take us around the fire, but through it. We have two kids.

Writing is also a constant faith journey. Years ago I felt stretched raising my hand and saying yes to creating a newsletter for our local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group. Once I started, I loved it. One Sunday the sermon was about putting down your Isaac. I knew for me, God was asking me to step away from that venture so He could take me somewhere new. It sounds easy, but I wrestled with it. Once I obeyed, writing opportunities landed at my feet.

I’m now at a place where my comfort zone feels fluid. It’s changing almost daily, but I’ve learned God can be trusted and my reaction time to His call is certainly faster than those early days where I was so new in my faith. Earlier this year I said yes to His stirring that I start my own business where I make encouraging others to find freedom through surrender my professional life through writing and speaking. That opportunity is now Surrendered Scribe Media.

If that wasn’t enough, then I learned how to create book covers for my Surrendering Time series. I cried over this one. I went a different route and learned how to do this through Word. Negativity was rampant. But for my first effort, I’m pleased, and feedback has been strong.

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ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, is a re release coming in May.

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ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past, is a new release slated for May release.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the graduation, I’ve had to exercise faith that the principles, prayers and training I poured into our son will produce a lovely harvest. He’s facing new opportunities and temptations at every turn. He’s searching for his faith, not mine, and God’s been more than faithful. As a mom, though, I want to cling to a safe place that I think is my comfort zone. But that safe place is Jesus. I am hanging on His robe through reading and prayer, set on not letting go, no matter where He may go.

Although my reaction time is faster than years ago, it’s still a temptation to stay put when God has something new to grow me. Doing all this reflecting, though, proves how faithful He is. He’s specific in how He cares for us. His timing is perfect. He blesses our obedience.

If you feel your comfort zone changing, don’t fight it. Better things are ahead!

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What Resonates? by Kristen Heitzmann

I love reflecting on things that people say well enough that others remember and repeat it, in other words: quotes. A quote about one thing can often be extrapolated to a broader theme. For instance Nora Roberts says “The only thing you can’t fix is a blank page.” Of course this applies to writing, but it could also speak to how we live. If we’re afraid to make a mistake, we might never take a chance. Sure there will be mishaps, but those can be fixed and learned from. A missed chance may not come again.

According to Jacob Krueger: “In order to write well, you have to be willing to write badly.” Trying anything new means starting with whatever innate ability we have—or don’t have—and the caveat needs to be “then recognize it as beginning stages and learn to do it well.” Often people start out with one goal: success. They race toward it without taking the time for other goals like quality, diligence, and pleasure in the process.

Some are afraid to try because they may not achieve success. In the incredible words of Wanda E. Brunstetter: “Worry is the darkroom in which negatives are developed.” Not only is this exquisitely clever, it is also true. If our minds are filled with all that could go wrong, where is the fun of trying? Worry sucks the joy out of any endeavor. Instead we could say, “Hope is the solution in which dreams are developed.”

“They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” Edgar Allan Poe suggests imagination and creativity make a richer life. I couldn’t agree more. As a fiction writer, I find daydreaming a delightful and instrumental habit. Once an idea springs up and takes form, it deserves to be crafted with excellence and devotion.

Donna Tartt says so rightly that: “Working on something over a period of time gives a richness that you can’t fake.” Indulge in the process. Consider the time well spent to give everything the layers of polish, the ripeness of harvest, the luster of age. Taking the time to fully develop a story makes it resonate. Giving any calling or relationship or challenge a worthy and enduring effort creates an authenticity you can’t fake. Let’s seek what stirs our souls, then with equal fervor hone and develop and finally share the gift.

If any of these have spoken to you, I’d love to hear which and how.

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FROM DREAM TO REALITY

 

I want to share with you a book that was recently released by Lighthouse of the Carolinas Publishing Company. I loved receiving and compiling Writing Right to Success. The contributors graciously shared their writing journeys and craft articles that will appeal to readers and writers alike.

These are stories of those who followed their dream! Most for a very long time.

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These are stories of those who followed their dream!

Most for a very long time.

Anybody can write. Right?

But how do you write “right?” That is… how do you write in such a way that you find success as a writer? Doesn’t this apply to others in any profession.

The purpose of this book is to answer those questions, and many more. Some of the most well-known, best-selling, award-winning authors share their journeys from taking the first step to achieving success. Too, they offer valuable insights into mastering the craft of writing.

Whether you like to read about how others strive, overcome, work at their profession or are already a writer or aspire to be, this book is for you. So open the pages, settle in, and allow the authors to motivate, encourage, and inspire you to follow your dream!

Contributors:

Michelle Medlock Adams                   Gail Gaymer Martin

James Scott Bell                                 Dianne Neal Matthews

Brian Bird                                            Edie Melson

Jenny Cote                                           DiAnn Mills

Lynette Eason                                  Tom Morrisey

Eva Marie Everson                           Cecil Murphey

Kathleen Fuller                                 Ramona Richards

Dennis E. Hensley, PhD                 Gayle Roper

Eddie Jones                                         Ann Tatlock

Tosca Lee                                              Donn Taylor

Yvonne Lehman                                 Susan May Warren

Richard L. Mabry, MD                        James Watkins

Lori Marett

Thanks to these who so graciously shared their stories and expertise.

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Be Still and Know That I Am God by Tara Randel

Be still and know that I am God. Ps 46:10

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More than once in my life have I had to listen to this admonition from the Lord. Life gets busy. Family keeps us hopping. Yet our time spent with God should be what we cherish, and strive for, the most.

When my children where young, I poured hours of my life into them. It was exactly where I wanted to be. God had blessed me with two beautiful daughters and I loved being their Mom. But as anyone who is currently or has raised kids, it consumes you. I made sure to make date nights with my husband to keep our relationship in focus. And thankfully, I understood I had to do the same with God.

God  longs for the time we spend with Him. Just as we might sit around the dinner table and discuss the day’s events with our family, I believe God wants the same thing. Now that my children are gone, I have been blessed to have a career writing books. There are many long, solitary hours spent in this pursuit. But I can never forget that it is God who has given me this opportunity, and I will never take it for granted. And in gratitude, I will always find time to spend with the Lord.

He has done the same for you, whatever your walk in life is.  Let me encourage you to set aside time spent with the King. We only ever benefit from that quiet time with the Lord. There is peace, wisdom, hope and security in knowing the Lord. I hope this psalm lifts you up today.

Psalm 46

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah.

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.
Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall;
he lifts his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Come and see what the Lord has done,
the desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease
to the ends of the earth.
He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.
10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

11 The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA TODAY bestselling author of eleven novels. She is currently working on new stories for Harlequin Heartwarming, as well as books in a new series, Amish Inn Mysteries. Her next Heartwarming, part of The Business of Weddings series, will be released in June 2016. Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books

 

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On My Reading Book Shelf

I couldn’t call myself a writer if I hadn’t been a reader first! So, while following my greatest passion, I’ve been doing a bit of reading in between my scribbling—and, for the most part, enjoying every moment.

Book _7_Bloody_JackRight now I’m continuing in the Adventures of Bloody Jack, a 12-book series of mostly nautical tales from the viewpoint of young Mary Faber. She started out as a ship’s boy, yes, that’s right, ship’s boy—until it was discovered she’s actually a girl. Each book lives up to the “adventure” promise! I’m on Book 7, and “Jackie” isn’t much older than sixteen, but she’s survived more perils than Pauline.

High_Mountains_of_PortugalBefore that, I finished The High Mountains of Portugal, a book written by the author of The Life of Pi, which I loved. Sadly, I can’t say the same for this one. It began with promise then meandered into symbolism beyond my ken. Although I finished it, which speaks of the excellent writing skills from this author, I can’t recommend this one.

The_Lake_HouseI also read Kate Morton’s latest, The Lake House. As I would expect from this wonderful author, this book had a great cast of characters. Other than one little contrivance in the plot, this one’s a thumbs up for me.

 

My_Cousin_RachelTo satisfy my taste of the classics, I read Daphne du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel. Perfect for its brooding atmosphere, with an ending that fits and yet is so very . . . well . . . I won’t give it away!

To me, reading is the absolute best teacher for those who wish to write. As we’re entertained (or not) we can’t help learning what works and what doesn’t, even if it’s at a subliminal level that we can hardly articulate to someone else. The best writers I know remain avid readers, because they keep honing that inner radar that measures good storytelling. If that’s not enough to recommend the reading habit, most of the readers I know, those who have no desire to write, are among the happiest of my friends. Somehow jumping into a story world helps us enjoy the real world around us.

So my tip for the day: pick up a book and start reading!

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Parents by Camy/Camille

I’m in the middle of a visit from my parents. They haven’t visited me in California in a while and so they were excited to see my dog and go to all the places they like to eat at.

It’s a little hectic at home because my house is very small and my mother is like a whirlwind of activity. A perk is that Mom is a little bored sometimes so she cleans my kitchen for me!:) I am more like my dad, slower and more methodical.

What’s interesting is that as I get older, I see more how I am like one parent or the other in my habits and personality. And a lot of my similarities have come out only as I’ve gotten into my forties. I never used to be very interested in Japanese food or my family history, but in the past year I’ve gotten more into both, which is more in common with my parents.

There are still some things I don’t really relate to when I talk to them, but in general I enjoy my time with my family. We laugh a lot and like to eat good food.

My agent, Wendy Lawton, once told me to cherish these times with my folks, because one day I’ll want to call them and they won’t be there for me to call. It’s a sobering fact, and so I don’t want to take for granted this time that I have with them, when they’re both healthy and active. When my mom can still cook for me and my dad can still enjoy a glass or two of wine with me before dinner.

I guess I’m very fortunate that my relationship with my parents is very good, because I have friends who do not have good relationships with one or both of their parents. It makes me want to not have any regrets about the time I spend with my folks.

How about you? Are there things you do/did with your parents that are very special times?

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Free April 9-13! Second Opinion by Hannah Alexander

Free on Kindle April 9-13

Free on Kindle April 9-13

If you’ve never read a Hannah Alexander novel–or if you’ve read them and it’s been a while since you read one, or if you just want to spread the word–now’s your chance and it will cost you nothing!

Click here http://goo.gl/RKhxlT or forward it to a friend you think might enjoy the book, and it will take you and your friends to Second Opinion on Kindle, free from April 9 to 13. You can read more about the book there, or you can just download and start reading to see if you like it, because it’s free! It will cost you nothing to download! It’s also the first in a three-book series, so there’s more if you like this one.

So here’s the sales pitch if you’re not convinced yet: Hannah Alexander (the pen name that represents my writing combined with my husband’s expertise in medicine) is the winner of multiple awards, including the Christy Award, three Holt Medallions, two Reader’s Choice Awards, Library Journal’s Top Five Christian Novels of the Year, and we have been nominated for Romantic Times Lifetime Achievement Award.

Interested yet? Yes, there’s medical intrigue in this book, but there are also fun characters to love and laugh with, a small-town vibe, romances, and plenty of drama. Come meet these people and see if you might enjoy them as much as I did when I was writing about them.

This book is the third edition, so I’ve updated it, honed it, and it’s ready to read. I do hope you take advantage of this fun read!

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Addicted to Reading and GIVEAWAY

by Elizabeth Goddard

Are you addicted to reading? Looking for that next fix (book)?

If you’re like me, when you finish a good book you’re  sad it’s over and wished you hadn’t finished the book, but then again you were reading fast and furious to get that satisfying ending so you could experience the thrill of it.

Still. . . it’s over. Maybe you should read it again. I’ve done that before. I once finished a book at 4 am. and the ending was so good, so satisfying, I went back and read it again right after I finished even though it was the early morning hours.

If you don’t want to read it again and you need something new and fresh, how do you choose? Where do you escape to? What characters do you spend the next ten or so hours with between the pages of a good book?

When you’re looking for that next book to read, do you look through your TBR pile and then go buy a new one anyway? Ha! I am guilty.

Do you pick your book by:books-768426__340

  1. Cover
  2. Setting
  3. Genre
  4. Author
  5. Back cover copy/Premise
  6. Recommendation
  7. All of the above

I admit that it’s all of the above for me. I might see a gorgeous cover that intrigues me enough to buy the book. I’m especially partial to settings, in my own writing, at least. An exotic setting inspires me to write. Alaska has been a popular setting for readers and reality show watchers.

As for genre, I usually read romantic suspense or thrillers these days (since that’s what I’m writing) and I have my favorite authors. Recently, a friend recommended a new author to me and I fell in love with her books so will likely read almost everything she writes.

Do you have several titles going at the same time? Perhaps you read something every day from a non-fiction self-help book, your daily Bible readings and a devotional, something for work, and something for pleasure–which can be an addiction.

Currently, I’m addicted to books by  James Rollins and Susanna Kearsley. I’ve already read every book by Kristen Heitzmann and several other authors.

How about you?

I’m giving away a copy of my newest release, TAILSPIN. Tell me how you find the books to feed your addiction in the comments section to enter the drawing!

Blessings!

Beth

goddard-LR-new-4 (2) blackandwhiteElizabeth Goddard is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than twenty-five romance novels and counting, including the romantic mystery, THE CAMERA NEVER LIES–a 2011 Carol Award winner. A 7th generation Texan, Elizabeth graduated from North Texas State University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and worked in high-level software sales for several years before retiring to home school her children and fulfill her dreams of writing full-time. She currently makes her home in Minnesota with her husband and children.

To get book news sign up for her newsletter at her website: http://elizabethgoddard.com
You can connect with Elizabeth at Facebook or Twitter.

About Tailspin:

DIVING INTO DANGERTailspin

Nothing can stop Sylvie Masters from scuba diving to find her mother’s down
ed plane—except possibly the hit man determined to keep the truth from surfacing. When brave bush pilot Will Pierson comes to her rescue, she knows she can still reach her goal, but she needs his help. Will wants answers about the crash, too, especially since his mother was the missing plane’s pilot. He’ll be the hero Sylvie needs, but can he ever trust her? Sylvie is shrouded in secrets that keep leading her back to Mountain Cove. Secrets someone will kill for. Will may protect her, yet no one can persuade her to end her search…not even a killer.

Mountain Cove: In the Alaskan wilderness, love and danger collide.

 

 

 

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Faceless Book Covers by Julie Arduini

With the re packaging and re release of my first novel, Entrusted, I’ve spent weeks researching images and learning cover design. I’m not quite ready to reveal the covers for my Surrendering Time series (formerly the Adirondack Surrender Romance,) but I noticed a couple things.

  • I am now looking at movie posters, traffic signs, restaurant menus and basically anything with pictures and text through the eyes of what I’m learning. I can spot a bad photoshopped head thrown on a body or if fonts are too clunky. It’s almost like a Sci-Fi movie. I’m in so deep with what I’ve seen while training that I can’t go back when it comes to looking at things.

 

  • Covers are changing, at least with romances. I’ve always depended on a cover to show me the characters. As a reader, I enjoy looking to see how accurate my imagination is to what is on the cover. That’s not always the case these days.
pexels-photo-large

This picture from pexels is an example of what a book cover could look like under the new trend of not showing faces.

Here is what I’m noticing with romance covers:

  • One character is displayed instead of two. Sometimes the character isn’t even visible. They are far off so you can’t see facial features, or, their back is turned to the reader.

 

  • If both the hero and heroine are visible, it’s not their full body. The placement is such that heads aren’t there, or, heads are turned. You might notice the man has stubble and dark hair, but you don’t see the eyes.

 

I’ve read that this is the new trend to allow readers to use their imaginations. When characters are displayed, it takes away the “romance” of wondering what they look like. Each reader has a different concept of what the character should look like, so those kind of covers work.

I confess, I’d rather see the characters up close, features visible. That said, I do have people on my covers, and I’m curious if the hundreds and hundreds of pictures I’ve looked at match what readers have pictured in their minds. In my research I read that the cover doesn’t have to be 100% accurate when it comes to details, but interesting and close enough to get them to want to know more.

So, how about you? What kind of cover do you like? Characters on covers? Characters far off? Facing the reader? Not facing the reader? Not on the cover at all? I’d love to hear what you think.

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