Music in Writing and Reading by Julie Arduini

  Julie’s note:

This was originally intended to be an article for an ezine but the project didn’t move forward. I thought I would share here with you as the theme was music. Not only do writers use music, but I do as a reader, too.

Consider these whether you write or read. Do you use any of these ideas?    

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When it comes to finding that “zone” and hitting a word count and making a deadline, music can be a helpful resource. Let’s look at the different ways:

  • Getting in the “genre” mood. Writing a historical? Playing instrumentals and vocalists from the time period can help virtually transport you to the year. There’s fiddle music for the Civil War era. Ragtime piano for the early 1900’s. Swing music defines the 40’s as much as do-wop and Elvis are reminiscent of 50’s. Writing about a time period around the Vietnam War could bring a playlist featuring Janis Joplin, Peter, Paul and Mary, Jimi Hendrix. Even if your setting is before your birth, there’s most likely music to help set the atmosphere. Writing a romance? Listening to Dean Martin croon can help foster writing. Although the 80’s are known for being the decade of “hair bands,” there was some romantic songs in there, too. “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler, “Endless Love” by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie, “With or Without You” by U2 are some songs to create for a playlist. Motown artists also have romantic tunes. From “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge to “My Girl” by The Temptations, there’s a lot of Motown for romance writing. Don’t forget music for breakups. Chicago has some sad songs. Taylor Swift has a great break up anthem to inspire writing with “We’re Never Ever Getting Back Together.” Dionne Warwick sang “Walk on By,” while Roy Orbison creates emotion with “Crying” and Willie Nelson brings feeling to “You Were Always on My Mind.” Whether the romance is going well or not, there’s music to fit the mood. No matter the genre, sometimes writers use movie or Broadway soundtracks for focus. Rocky can motivate. The Fault in Our Stars makes the author feel like a teen again.  The Wonder Years was a TV show but has a great 60’s feel. Singin’ in the Rain brings about romantic thoughts. The Newsies soundtrack is listed on as part of a playlist for Broadway. Television, movies and Broadway are popular resources to turn to when looking for writing encouragement.
  •  Some authors prefer not to have music with lyrics as they find it distracting. Some alternatives are instrumental music, NPR, symphonies. Although there are vocals, authors also find opera a nice music to have in the background while writing.

With all these ideas, now let’s share where to find this music, stream it, and create playlists.

  • The free version has commercials but the ability to create many channels and even shuffle. I’ve listened to Pandora on my laptop, on my phone and in the car. This is what I used to write my chapter for The Love Boat Bachelor. The channel? I looked for steel drums and Caribbean music.
  • They offer three months of premium/ad free music to anyone who has never used them before for .99 and are known for their variety of music.
  • Amazon Streaming. Part of the Prime Membership, Amazon Prime Music boasts one million songs and hundreds of playlists.
  • Soundcloud. Not only are there artists to listen to, but actual sounds that can help the writing mood. From dog barks to fire sirens, there are plenty of sounds to search.As far as research for writers who want to utilize music into their work, Google is a great place to start. Learning about instruments, career opportunities, practice schedules and more are all available online. However, nothing beats an interview with a musician, vocalist, music teacher or worship and creative arts pastor. They can share specific details like technology issues, emotions during auditions, best drumsticks to use and much more. Music provides mood setting for writing, inspiration for genres, playlists, streaming and research opportunities for fiction.

How does music influence your writing?

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Follow Your Purpose by Julie Arduini


A scene from the movie, Captive, starring Kate Mara and David Oyelowo.

One of my recent reads was to review the book, Captive. You might remember the author, Ashley Smith, was the single mom who in 2005 was held hostage by Brian Nichols. What made her story so extraordinary was that during her ordeal she read him Pastor Rick Warren’s, The Purpose Driven Life. The book will be in movie form in September, I believe.

Part of the review process was thinking about and sharing our purpose. In her twenties, Ashley, at the time of her captivity, was baby new in her faith walk. When she rejected the spotlight and told the media she wasn’t worthy of the praise, she didn’t want to sugarcoat her life. She was a single mom because her husband had been murdered. She didn’t have custody of her child because she became addicted to drugs. When Brian Nichols forced himself into her life, she still had drugs in hand to help her through the moving process.

Yet, in the midst of all that, God used her. In reading her story it’s compelling because it’s obvious she had her captor’s attention. He had been churched. He knew much of what she was sharing. And he was conflicted. He knew he’d killed people only hours before. Yet he had a son only days old. Ashley not only kept herself alive, she shared the gospel and the truth about grace and redemption.

Talk about following your purpose.

So, what can you think of in your life that reminds you of following your purpose, even when against all odds? It doesn’t have to be as dramatic as Ashley’s story, I doubt most of us could compare, nor want to.

Me? It might seem small to you but it was a life-changer. I was a Christian for quite a few years, married, and had a small child. But I was filled with anger from hurts and plans that didn’t go my way. I was afraid to trust the church, my Heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit? No. Way. Too scary. All of it.

But something drew me to Beth Moore and the call to join her online Bible study, Believing God.

The homework didn’t intimidate me, I dove into it. I couldn’t get enough. Each week I could feel my mind changing. Shackles were coming off and I felt a freedom with each lesson. One week while watching the video she challenged the members to picture themselves and the mountain they were facing and just stomp on it in faith in Christ’s power.
I pictured the anger, specifically from my miscarriage. I was so toxic from it I was barely functional. I closed my eyes and envisioned my foot just stomping out the hurt and bitterness.

When I did, this is what I saw:

That mountain crumbling to a million little stones I was able to walk over with ease.

It wasn’t just a picture. It was a promise from God. He healed my heart, and my body. Within two months I was pregnant.

More than that, He gifted me with faith. I don’t just believe in God, I believe God. He has allowed me to speak prayers casually in conversation to hear that the person was healed. There have been people who have read prayers I wrote and felt God move as they read it. People have found hearing aids, Bibles, precious things because I believed God and I prayed in obedience.

I could have stayed angry. I wanted to for a long time. But like Ashley, I was able to follow my purpose.

How about you?

To learn more about Captive, click here.

If you’re interested in the Believing God study, it is currently underway in the small group session with the Women’s Bible Café.

Books for Life by Julie Arduini

There’s so much about the writing process I never considered as a little girl pretending I was going to be the contemporary Laura Ingalls Wilder. Even when I took a college course about her life last year I realized back then she had to deal with agents, contracts, sales and marketing.

It’s the same for authors today. There’s also social media, following trends without becoming obsessed by them, the ever changing publishing industry, eBooks and more. It’s a juggle I haven’t mastered as I worked so hard building a name for myself in faith I would be published that I have to be intentional about writing.

I write all this to say I’m constantly looking for ways not only to balance it all, but get the most accomplished in the most efficient way. That makes for extra time researching, but when that something amazing comes along, it makes it all worth it. The bonus is I’m affiliated with a publisher that loves researching and executing these ideas as a team.

Poem still life with books and pink tulips

Poem still life with books and pink tulips

Write Integrity Press and Pix-N-Pens Publishing opened up a group page on Goodreads called Books for Life The goal is for authors and readers to connect over our love of reading. We will discuss clean, wholesome fiction including specific genres, favorite heroines, heroes, books that changed us and much more.

That’s not all.

Starting Thursday, September 17th we will launch a book club! We’re still working out details but the first book will be Entrusted. Join us as we discuss the journey between Jenna, Ben and the cast of characters in Speculator Falls. There will be questions posted, an hour “live” chat each Thursday evening from 8-9pm EST featuring behind the scenes information that won’t be posted anywhere else and interaction with the other WIP/PNP authors. Entrusted will run for 6 weeks and then there will be a short break and another club will start in October. We love talking books and are really excited about this opportunity to reach out with current readers and hopefully meet new ones.

I’m personally inviting you to join us.

About Entrusted:

 Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl from Youngstown, Ohio, plows–literally–into Adirondack village, Speculator Falls, with a busted GPS. She gets a warning from the sheriff but has ideas for the senior center to prove she belongs in town as their director. Town councilman Ben Regan is as broken as the flower box Jenna demolished. He’s grieving and wants to shut down the center before there’s too much change and heartbreak. They work on community projects and build a slow relationship, but the council needs to vote on the senior center’s future. Can Jenna show Ben both her and the center are worth trusting?

See more at: 

Elevator Pitch: A city girl moves to the mountains and produces a lot of change for the local grocer.

Purchase Links:


Barnes and Noble

Update: After Entrusted we’ll discuss Annabelle’s Ruth by Betty Thomason Owens.

Stay tuned to BFLBC-Books for Life Book Club!



Behind the Scenes at a Book Club by Julie Arduini

I have a confession. I’m an avid reader who has never been to an actual book club. I did an online one once, but I’ve never attended one. Until this summer. The book? My own. The women’s ministry at my church suggested a book club this summer as an alternate to the Bible study we did last summer. Before the suggestion could sink in our pastor’s wife looked at me and asked if I’d consider Entrusted as the book.Entrusted FRONT Cover_edited We’re nearly done with the book and a wrap-up picnic and I thought I’d share some behind the scenes observations from a first-timer.

  • It is crazy surreal to talk about your own work. Each week the ladies ask questions and no matter what material I give them—background info on the story, author tips, writing how-to’s or industry information, they eat it up. I want to hold back because it feels so weird to talk about myself for 90 minutes. Thankfully we have a hostess each week who bounces off my chatter and that helps. But one week during group discussion I heard a group talking about Will Marshall and it hit me. That’s one of my characters. They are talking about him like he is real. He’s real to me. They all are. But for others to feel the same way and me see that—so awesome.
  • Most readers have no idea what goes into writing a book. I’m not sure what my group thought but they were surprised to hear how many drafts Entrusted took before I turned it in. That we have to write a thing called a query and fine tune a synopsis. And even then there are authors who have made it that far and not received a contract. That having it published is the beginning, not the end. There is marketing, always marketing. If you have a series, you need to be working on the next one. The group seems to have a huge respect for authors and I believe understands what fluid times the industry is in, generally speaking.
  • Don’t take your story for granted. Ever. Each week I came home and told my husband how on top of my game I needed to be for these ladies. Many dissected scene by scene and wanted to hear about my motivation. Sometimes I surprised myself by recalling the scene and out of my memory bank I recalled that scene being from my dad’s life and it was a tribute to him. Then there were the moments when I admitted I was low on word count and wrote to satisfy that. The ladies asked what critique groups thought about certain characters and chapters and were interested in specifics I never imagined anyone would ask. I walked away with a deep appreciation for my work. I think when we’re holed away writing we convince ourselves few care about our precious people and places in fiction was much as we do. This book club taught me readers care. And it feels good!
  • I have a renewed sense of purpose. One reader asked a great question that I’ve stumbled over for years. Why romance? Why would a woman from a strong Christian faith write romance? I’ve been insecure about this, especially when I’ve walked by people from my church saying they won’t read anything fiction. Talk about a confidence killer. Not only do I write fiction, but romance. For a long time I felt like I had to apologize for it. However, answering that question head-on with words that I believe were given sent directly from my Heavenly Father, I am no longer ashamed. Here’s what I shared:

I have a lot of romantic ideas, but I’m not really a romantic person. At the movies I usually choose the action movies. But in ministry I tend to deal with some heavy things—standing in the gap for others. Taking calls for prayer that at times were life and death. Leading tough Bible studies or needing to say hard things to people I love as God directed. It’s draining and writing was my escape even when I was a child. I think it is a good escape and therapeutic. Not long ago I also sensed this: Writing is the door God will use to get me to the real ministry He has planned for me. My books will take me places on my own I would not be able to go. Perhaps book signings or speaking engagements. Whatever it is, the real ministry will take place when I am done with talking about writing. Women will linger and even if it is just one, they will want prayer. And that’s what it’s about. For God, that’s been His plan all along. And His way to get there? A romance writer. Yes!

Have you ever participated in a book club? Authors, how about you? Was it your book? What was your experience like?

Adirondack Reflections by Julie Arduini

Last month I was invited to speak in Speculator, New York and share the writing process behind my Adirondack romance, Entrusted. What made it extra special was I spoke at the Lake Pleasant library, a place I used as inspiration in the book.

Once I finished sharing the process, guests lingered to chat. I came away encouraged and tempted to become like Jenna Anderson, the heroine, and pack it all up and move to the mountains once and for all. What encouraged me was hearing their stories about Adirondack life. Because I visit and don’t live there, it was important my research was accurate. They let me know I was right on track.


Speaking at the Lake Pleasant library in Speculator, NY.

Here are some of my thoughts now that I’m back in Ohio:

1. Naming the village Speculator Falls instead of the real Speculator worked. It’s fictional and although I brought a lot of real experiences to Entrusted, having a fictional village gave me flexibility. They let me know my research was accurate and they appreciated that when I needed to embellish, it was okay.

2. Paying attention to the cover paid off. They loved the cover and felt it was Adirondack authentic. One woman felt she knew the exact location in Lake Placid where the picture originates. I explained that for some across the country, they see hills and believe they are mountains. My Speculator friends know the difference and were honest enough to say they would have called me on it.

3. They were so wonderful to share, but nervous to at the same time. More than once I heard, “You’re probably going to put this in your book…” What they appreciated was in Entrusted they couldn’t find anyone that was real and yet everyone felt like a real friend. I explained that I took everything I loved about Speculator and made composite characters. Each person in the story has something that reminds me of the people there.

On the flip side, I returned to Ohio full of mountain air and pleasant memories. I compiled video and pictures and organized everything for the Embrace Women’s Book Club featuring Entrusted. We had our first meeting last week and I had some reflections from the Ohio side, too.

1. The ladies find Adirondack life as peaceful as I hoped they would. From the tall pine trees to the lack of chain hotels and locals who stay year around, the readers in this book club were instantly enamored.

2. They immediately respected the people who choose to live there year ’round. We had a rough winter in Ohio but the Adirondacks saw temps as low as -40. I’ve been in Lake Placid in September when there was ice on railings. It is especially isolating in a winter as the one we had.

3. Everyone felt as loyal to the Adirondacks and the people as I feel. If I’d had a bus chartered and announced we were leaving for Speculator, everyone would have been on it. They understood the love for the woods and desire to protect them. Most couldn’t relate to living in a county where there were no traffic lights but they admired the literal frontierland.

And that’s where the summer will take us as a book club—a literal frontier land. Jenna leaves everything in Ohio to pursue a life without regrets. She wants to belong and with a non working GPS, inability to access Wi-Fi and constant conflict with the town grocer and councilman, it isn’t easy. Trying new things never is.

Have you ever visited a setting from a book? What observations do you have?

Coffee Filters and Generic Markers by Julie Arduini

Last month I participated in our church’s women’s conference. Our keynote speaker, Dawnita Istre, was anointed and full of spunk. The worship team did an amazing job. The vendors shared their hearts for causes like A21 campaign and the Pregnancy Help Center.

Then there were the workshops.

Because I was part of the core team hosting the event, I had duties to attend to first. Our pastor’s wife encouraged us to focus on being fed ourselves, not serving every moment. That’s a hard concept for me but I decided to sneak into a workshop on dealing with difficult people. Because that’s not a “if this will happen” scenario, it’s a “when will it happen again.”

I sat with a group of ladies I know, but not as well as I’d like to. If you asked me to describe them I’d say beautiful, creative, gifted, kind.

The leader asked us to take a coffee filter and use the marker on the table to write what we knew someone had said about us that wasn’t true, but we believed the lie anyway.

I grabbed a red marker and wrote “evil.” I know it might sound crazy to you, but it was one word of many this year I’d been called. And instances like it were happening so often I started to wonder? Am I rotten? Do I really create the worst in people and enjoy it? Honestly, that one word messed with my head.

The next instruction was to dip the filter in water and watch the word disappear. Let the true Living Waters clean us and tell us who we really are. Redeemed. Valued. Beloved.

Here’s where it gets funny at our table.

We had generic markers.              markers photo: markers coloredmarkers.jpg

When we dipped the filters in the water, nothing happened.

We giggled and shared our words.

“Oh no, I’m really evil!”

But as I thought about the experiment I realized how many times I’ve taken those words to Christ for an exchange and kept taking the words back. He’d proclaimed me saved and I thought of myself lost. I was healed but I walked around wounded. I was loved but lived as if I were hated.

If that’s you, generic markers that don’t wash off or not, embrace the truth.

If you have called on Christ as your Savior, Rescue and Friend—-

You are:

  • Deeply loved and highly favored
  • Saved by the blood of Christ, declared innocent by His sacrifice and clothed in righteousness (translated: Jesus died for us, He made a way for us for eternal life, and although human and sinful, we’re not evil, thanks to Him!)
  • Entitled to His peace and authority (the same power He had on Resurrection Day is available to us everyday!)

I invite you to write those promises where you can see them, and receive them in your heart, and use permanent marker!

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The Inspiration of “I Run 4” by Julie Arduini


In a few minutes I leave for the annual IEP meeting to determine what helps our daughter will receive in the coming year. We recently moved so it is with a new district (we attend a Christian school so my rep is the same, but the services are provided by the district.)

These meetings are never easy because it’s easy to believe what we read on paper. Through the years what was in black and white gave little to no hope. Now we’re preparing for middle school years. She is in a regular classroom fighting to keep up. Her overcoming spirit inspires me.

This group has been such an encouragement in a short time. Our daughter’s issues for the most part are invisible (hypothyroidism, Albright’s, Hashimoto’s) and somehow I feel I have to fight extra hard for her, especially against the world who feels she should look a certain way or don’t understand how tired she gets. I am very aware there are millions of parents fighting harder than me. I also know what a lonely journey it can be.

A couple months ago my friend directed me to an organization called “I Run 4.” Runners of all skill levels are matched with a special needs child or adult and each time they work out, they dedicate that run to their “buddy.” They run for those who can’t. A special need is anything from having an IEP like we do to Down’s, autism, CP, etc…

Our daughter was matched with her runner quickly. Our runner is from the same area where my step son lives. She writes and has a great idea for a book. She is a Christian. It is the perfect match. She runs 6 times a week and tags me/our daughter on social media. Her posts are inspirational. I’ve watched our daughter reach out of her comfort zone because she knew someone was rooting for her and going the literal extra mile. I Run 4 has been amazing.

Our daughter even received a care package from her runner. She gave her the shirt from her last race, and it is a well known race in Madison. I gave our tween permission to take a selfie and put it on Instagram to show her runner. My step son saw the shirt and wondered how on Earth did his youngest sister get a race shirt from his city? And it was fun to share how this all came about. The care package came with other goodies and an encouraging note that our youngest is carrying with her.

I write all this because there are many runners who can’t wait to be matched and there aren’t enough buddies. The process is easy and I found it professional/legit. I have no regrets, except I wish I’d heard about this sooner. The need is so great that runners are waiting 7 months for their buddy. I waited two days to be matched. The need is that great.

If you know someone with a special needs diagnosis, I highly recommend they check “I Run 4” out. It changes everyone involved for the better.

We are living proof.
To learn more,

Mother’s Day and Infertility by Julie Arduini

The smell of hyacinths filled the air. Ladies walked in hand-in-hand wearing their finest clothes and holding chubby little hands. They sat and listened to the pastor talk.

About them. All good stuff. Encouraging words. Inspiring message.

He ended the message with an invitation to help themselves to a plant. A challenge to the men to take care of the meals and kids for the rest of the day.

Families exited, smiling, holding fragrant gifts in honor of motherhood.

And then there was me.

I was newly married and diagnosed. Polycystic ovaries. Like forbidden fruit, I never wanted to be a mother as bad as I did until my doctor sat me down and told me it might not be an option. I didn’t know it at the time but my ovaries were 5x the size of what they should have been. There were days my fertility or lack of didn’t bother me as much as the pain of daily living. It hurt to walk.

But Mother’s Day was another story.

It was painful to breathe.

I wish I had the perfect script to give those that want to say the right thing and for the women who are hurting. I remember skipping classes that talked about motherhood at conferences. I most likely skipped a church service during that season. The anguish is undefinable. People who don’t know hand over a flower and I would feel like a fraud accepting it. I’d hear that it would happen in God’s time and I wanted to slap them. In church. And feel even worse.

I share all this because maybe, just maybe, I have a small solution that can open the door for healing. If you know someone with infertility issues or miscarriage, I share my complete story with Heidi Glick, Elizabeth Maddrey, Kym McNabney, Paula Mowery and Donna Winters in A Walk in the Valley: Christian Encouragement for Your Journey through Infertility.

91LVPrvc+FLFrom diagnosis to where we are now, we’re completely transparent about our journeys. I believe healing can start through these pages because in our honesty, we share Scriptures that aren’t there to patronize or sound cliche. We ask questions, ones we prayerfully wrote because we’ve been there. We wished a book existed that could have helped us. I long for a Mother’s Day where a woman doesn’t have to slink down in the pew or cry driving home because she has hope.

The book recently released and already hit the Amazon bestseller list and is receiving solid 5 star reviews. I write this not because I want to highlight the business side of being an author. I want to assure you what we believed about this book, readers are agreeing.


From Amazon Reviews:

  • “The women who contributed to this collection have opened their hearts, sharing their deepest pain.Their practical suggestions and advice, along with their encouragement to let God walk beside you, come from experience, and are are not just things a pastor or teacher thinks he should say.”

  • “A Walk in the Valley is not a typical devotional. There is no condescension, sugar-coating, or trite suggestions to “wait on the Lord.” This is an honest combination of personal experience and soul-searching prompts desperately needed in the community dealing with infertility. I particularly appreciate the memoir-like recollections of the medical horrors, the difficulties within spousal relations as a result of this condition, and the frustration and disappointment resulting from medical intervention, all paired with relevant scripture.”

My friend read it and let me know she learned how to better respond as this wasn’t her experience. That’s something I didn’t even think of, that it could help those who don’t personally know the journey.

If anything about this post rings true for you, I encourage you to get a copy of A Walk in the Valley.

And know you aren’t alone.

When Words Wound by Julie Arduini

2015 so far has had a lot of “stuff” I never saw coming. I’m a thinker and as I tried to process it all I realized everything I was dealing with was word related. When I thought even further I realized they were wounded words.

  • Negative statements uttered in anger
  • Snap judgments shot in fear and most likely anger
  • Barbs sent in the name of justice that wasn’t my battle to fight

Unfortunately this isn’t one instance and none of them are related. I could have handled one issue better but overall these were attacks that came without provocation. As a natural encourager who loves lifting others up, and an author who enjoys the written word, this has been a new thing experiencing words that were uttering the power of death.

How does one overcome that?

I realized fast I wasn’t going to pick myself up and move forward without the Lord’s help. The real me wanted to say the right thing, the perfect comeback, the rebuttal to all those things. But I knew wounded people wound people.

And I didn’t want to be next in line.

A few praying friends saw my distress and immediately prayed. When they finished, one of them gave me a card.

You guessed it.

More words.

These were words of life.

You are my hiding place;
 you will protect me from trouble
 and surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7, NIV

She went on to explain that the trouble are words used against me. Words that wound. Attacking words. Words of death.

The songs of deliverance?

Those are God’s words. Words that heal. Words that encourage. Words of life.

And His words trump all other words. All negative. All attacks. All barbs. All death-filled words.

I hope this little season ends and soon.

But I’ve taken away a good lesson.

Even in the darkest moments, especially in the maelstrom of horrible words, I’m surrounded by His words. His promises. His comfort.

And so are you.

Lessons from the Mudroom by Julie Arduini

Even though it hasn’t quite felt like spring as much as I’d like it to, I have started spring cleaning.This is our first full year in the house so it’s been fun figuring out what needs cleaning and what to use. So far I’ve steam cleaned, dusted fixtures, polished paneling and now it’s grout time.

I started in the mudroom. With my knees to the floor and a brush in my hand, I scrubbed the tile. I watched the floor transform from muddy and dull to clean and sparkly. As I rinsed and dried the floor I thought about the Lord and my life. Where I’ve been. Where I am. Where He is directing me. It was a time of contentment. I saw results with the floor and was getting excited about life.

Then I opened the door.

There before me was the rest of the floors.

Dirty, grimy, muddy, lifeless floors.

And my anxiety started.

I only blocked so much time off the day for the project. 

I planned it in increments.

I have to finish the floors.

What if people saw them looking like this?

And then that still voice dropped a nugget that I know was heaven sent.

“Remember, this is a work in progress. Remember, YOU’RE a work in progress.”

Oh. Right. Cleaning grout, at least if I’m going to do it right, takes time.

89135-Stop-Beating-Yourself-Up-You-Are-A-Work-In-ProgressThose changes that bring me closer to Christ, it doesn’t happen in a day.

There will even be days I take a step back.

And I need to confess and move on.

Because like the summer construction that tied traffic for light after light, I forgot over winter how long the process was because it was finished. And it was a great product.

And like the mudroom, each day I’ll work on the grout. And it will all be sparkly and clean.

Just not all today.

And I’m going to be okay with that.

Do you struggle with wanting everything done at once? Do you see yourself as a work in progress?

Image from Love This Pic

Encouraging Young Writers by Julie Arduini

One of the things I promised God I would do as a writer is encourage others along the way. My take is if I can give information and resources to help accelerate their journey, why not?

I’d rather view this business as a family rather than a competition.

Last month I was able to spend time with junior and senior high school students at Youngstown Christian School as part of their literacy week. I shared my story, that I wasn’t in honor classes nor was I encouraged to write for a living. I was told to make safe choices and understand I was weak in grammar. Although I entertained friends with my daily fiction, I listened to the voices that told me to put that stirring on a shelf. I made sure the students knew that if God put that passion in them, nothing can take that away.

I then distributed a writing prompt and gave them ten minutes to choose one and craft a story around it.

The choices included:

  • A teen eating dinner while watching the news receives personal instruction from the anchor.
  • A student closing up a store at the mall encounters a mom with a stroller begging to enter the establishment.
  • A young man who opens an envelope and learns the results to…

Three of the five Youngstown Christian students featured on the Write Integrity Press website. Photo: Shelley Murray

We had so much fun with this. The school is a melting pot of suburban and inner city experience and the kids reflected their reality into their writing. I saw humor that you can’t manufacture, it came straight from their gifting and made me laugh. The creativity really impressed me.

I shared on Facebook how much fun I was having and Tracy Ruckman, publisher at Write Integrity Press, read that and offered to feature my favorite prompts on the WIP website. I love that Tracy believes in building others up as much as I do.

The student prompts are available for reading and I’d love for you to take a look. Who knows? You might be reading something from a future bestselling author.

Read the writing prompts here.

When Moms Have a Winter Meltdown by Julie Arduini

Yesterday on Facebook I shared my random thoughts about what it’s like to be a mom in the northeast with multiple days off of school thanks to the weather.

My own experience is honestly not that bad. I write from home so I make my own schedule. Although I’m staying up later to write and enjoy my own television shows, I often do that as I love to soak in the quiet. My kids are older and we’re kind of a quiet family, so for the most part it’s just ranting over the disruption to routine. My precious pulling hair out photo: mom pulling out hair veryangry.jpgimage courtesy photobucket

For those who live near palm trees, snow days and the subsequent cabin fever might be hard to understand.

If you follow moms on social media who live in a snowbelt, here’s why they might be going a little crazy this winter.

We are on cold day off from school #4 in a row, 10 or more total this year.

For those that don’t live with snow/cold and wonder why mom status updates from that region are getting angry, we need routine, and that’s a basic complaint. I have it easy and I get it. I make my own schedule and rely on few for the running of my household.

Imagine the moms who work outside the home and have young children. They need to make arrangements. They might be paying for childcare they didn‘t plan for in an economy where every penny counts. When the kids are home, they are bored. The bickering most likely escalates between siblings and when bored, they believe they’re hungry. Turn your back for a minute and suddenly a week’s worth of groceries is on a kid’s plate. Just because. There goes the budget. This I know from experience. I busted one of mine for having an obscene amount of junk on their plate purely out of boredom when they thought I wasn’t looking.

As an adult, and a woman, we need meaningful conversation. To be nurtured. Cleaning up extra spills, and if you have pets, their extra crap because they literally can’t perform outside because of the cold, is not nurturing. Before long, after 10+ snow days, four in a row, mind you, the moms get a glazed look in their eye when those cheap airfare commercials to Florida come on. They get through the sticky stuff on the counter by imagining their suitcase packed and their trip for one a done deal.

Here’s the thing, we’ll get that routine back and peace will be restored to the kingdom. While the darlings are at school, we’ll miss them and almost forget the winter drama.


Do you know a mom experiencing a winter like this? Ours is a bit harsher as far as days off because we don’t have delays. It’s all or nothing, and lately, it’s been nothing. It’s thrown everyone off to the point where my youngest isn’t even setting her alarm. Basically her attitude is, “Wake me when there is school.” Most nights before she goes to bed she already knows there isn’t going to be.

If you know someone with young children having a tough winter, you’d be surprised at how little the moms need to be encouraged and refreshed.

Here are things you can do to take the chill off their relentless winter:

  • Get mom out of the house and listen to them. They are craving adult conversation and someone actively listening.
  • Get their kids out of the house and let them release that energy. The kids are bored. Take them to a play place, whether a Kid museum or a fast food play area. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. If the temps aren’t crazy cold, take them outside and build a fort or have a snowball fight.
  • Have money and no idea how to spend it? A high end way would be hire a cleaning company to come in and take care of mom’s job. With extra days off I assure you, there are more messes and many moms confessed, as have I, we’ve quit trying. The floors are tracked with snow gunk and we know with 2 1/2 feet outside, it’s not going anywhere. It feels like a losing battle. Living in a messier-than-usual house makes mom feel like a loser. Trust me, I know. Having someone come in will lift her spirits.

Other money ideas:

  • Gift cards for groceries. I know our budget is off kilter because with the kids home more, we’ve gone through more food than I planned.
  • Money for childchare. Again, with days off of school a lot of families have had to scramble/pay extra for childcare they weren’t planning on.
  • Gift cards for movies, kid friendly museums, restaurants. Even if mom and kids go somewhere together, they are at least getting out of the house. That’s half the battle.

Once school is back in session, then its the teachers we need to remember. They are way off pace and especially with younger kids, will have to spend time reminding kids the routine and behaviors they had mastered in October. Start thinking of ways to encourage them!

How about you? Are you a mom enduring an endless winter or know someone who is>

Why Brian Williams is Fair Game by Julie Arduini

I’m a strong believer of building others up instead of tearing them down. It’s a principle I use as a mom, mentor and friend.

That said, the dull roar and many memes I’m observing regarding Brian Williams doesn’t bother me.

I think by his own choices, he’s fair game.

Image: Twitter

Image: Twitter

In case you missed the news about his news, Brian recently did a feature on a story he’s been telling for years. He recalled during the Iraq war he “was forced down after being hit by an RPG.” Over the years he added details to the story even though there were servicemen who were there who were crying foul. They were on the flight and recalled him not being on that flight, but one that showed up later. In other articles I’ve read NBC reportedly went as far as to tell him to stop telling the story because he was going to get caught one day. In this article from the Business Insider it’s reported that NBC was warned Williams had a reputation for stretching the truth.

Finally, the servicemen and their calling him out caught traction and it made it through social media and is now news. There were too many people who were there telling the same story for Brian to continue with his version. Instead of opening up and admitting he lied, he instead took the route of “I misremembered.” The backlash from that is so intense he is now saying he has taken himself off the air. True or not, I can’t discern. NBC news isn’t great at following through with scandal, from Matt Lauer’s role in firing Ann Curry to Dr. Snyderman being seen all over town while she was supposed to be quarantined, both are still on air getting paid well.

The internet is abuzz with Brian Williams memes and I don’t feel bad that they are out there. He grew up 20 miles from where I did and he was a hometown hero. I loved telling others that Brian Williams came from our area. I loved journalism and was headed in that direction when I realized I couldn’t be objective. News is too important to me so I left it before I would get caught in a situation where I’d share my views instead of facts or something in violation of the ethics that are so basic. Brian violated our trust and kept going when he was warned to stop. When he got caught, he failed to repent and ask forgiveness. My sense is he’s hoping we all simmer down and move to the next news cycle so he can get back to work and we all forgive and forget.

Is he the only anchor out there with issues? No. They lost their objectivity the day Walter Cronkite and Tom Brokaw retired. The anchors today share their opinions or what’s being fed to them but to my knowledge, they aren’t sharing heroic stories they were never a part of. For that, I think NBC needs an overhaul. Forget the ratings Williams used to bring and be about the news. Bring a trusted face and voice like Lester Holt and start over with an evening news program people can rally to watch because they want the news and know they are getting it.

And Brian, take your time wiping the dirt off yourself. Find that place deep within that wants to make a difference, a real one, and be a game changer for the world.

Not the butt of jokes as you ran headfirst into.

Congratulations to our own Julie Arduini

Julie Arduini is a faithful contributor to this blog and has been since its inception a number of years ago. Not too long ago, we collectively congratulated Julie on the publication of her book and celebrated with her.

Now we have two new books to celebrate with Julie!

Julie Arduini, Christians Read Author, A Walk in the Valley

A Walk in the Valley is from Chalfont House and is available for pre order, release date April 28. This is an infertility devotional and perfect for anyone experiencing infertility and/or miscarriage.
Julie Arduini, Christians Read, The Love Boat Bachelor

Julie Arduini, CR Author


The Love Boat Bachelor features Write Integrity Press authors where readers choose the ending. Chapters are being released now through and once the voting finishes, the book will be available for free on Kindle for four days, starting on Valentine’s.
Please join us in celebrating with Julie! We’re so pleased to see her doing so well!
Vicki Hinze
Christians Read Administrator

Choose Your Romance by Julie Arduini

Didn’t I just wish everyone a Happy New Year? Well, I blinked and it’s time to talk Valentine’s Day!

As I’ve confessed before, I love romance but I’m not a die hard romantic. You would probably catch me watching the latest Fast and Furious movie over a rom-com. But I love reading and writing romance.

Thankfully, so does my publisher, Write Integrity Press. Last year they had a fun Valentine’s promotion where they had readers choose the ending. A Dozen Apologies was a bestseller as Mara Adkins visited all the men she’d hurt over the years and asked their forgiveness. Readers chose the man she’d fall for and they didn’t pick Pastor Brent Teague.

Similar to the reality television show, the sequel, The Love Boat Bachelor, now has Brent as the main character. He’s really hurting, I mean afterall, the guy got his heart broken twice by the same girl. He’s wounded enough to even question his calling as a pastor. One thing he is sure of is he’s done with romance.10606051_10205457154047888_2682259527214337031_n

His sister and best friend disagree. They conspire and get Brent to agree to a stint as a chaplain on a cruise ship. The two week job will take Brent all over the Caribbean. What they don’t tell him is it’s a love themed cruise. The passengers are either in love or looking for it.

This week Write Integrity started releasing chapters so readers can meet Brent and the heroines. Once the chapters have been released, readers will vote on the heroine they want to see Brent fall for. Once the votes are tallied the book will have an ending and be available on Kindle for FREE for four days, starting on Valentine’s Day.

I love it!

I wrote one of the heroines but I can’t tell you which one. I can tell you I’ve read them all and I have no idea how the voting will go. They are all fun chapters where Brent visits beautiful ports, has interesting chaplain experiences and meets a lot of passengers on board the love theme and then some.

If you’re done with the snow and cold or want to escape with a tropical read for a bit, I’d love for you to check out The Love Boat Bachelor. Chapters will be released during the week this week and next before voting. I’d appreciate you sharing this so we can get a lot of readers involved and voting.

As someone who does enjoy a fictional romance, I’m always rooting for that happy ending. I’d love to see you give Brent Teague the ending he deserves!

To read The Love Boat Bachelor Chapter one, click here.

To read The Love Boat Bachelor Chapter two, Cozumel, click here.

Also, starting in February my newsletter subscribers will receive monthly installments to my contemporary romance, Crumbs and Embers. Those who are new to subscribing receive the novella Match Made in Heaven, too. To subscribe for free, complete the form in the right sidebar of Julie and watch for activation. I’m excited to share this Upstate NY Finger Lakes romance with you!


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