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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A New Year is Almost Here

What are your plans and goals for 2010? Let me know in "comments," and I will add your name to the drawing coming up next week to celebrate my new release.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Greatest Message


December 28, 2009

No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.
-- John 1:18

Jesus is God's greatest message. He not only proclaims and declares God's love, mercy, and grace; he has made it known. Only Jesus can display God to us fully, for he is one with the Father.

Yet when we "see" Jesus ministering in the Gospels, we see God. If we want to know how God feels about us, all we have to do is look at how Jesus ministers to others. If we want to know what God would do for us, we can notice what Jesus does to bless others. Jesus is our window to the Father's heart. So as this year winds down, and as you stand in the afterglow of Christmas, why not make a commitment to get to know Jesus better in this coming year by spending more time with him in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)? If you do, you will better know God!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Keep These Things

Keep These Things

The gifts were many, each a treasure
Some of wealth, more of the heart.

The greetings robust, yet hushed
And filled with awe.

The star shimmered still, even
As morning neared.

Her body drained, Mary sighed, breathing in scents
Of pungent hay, and sheep, and donkey.
Her pulse quickened again at the wonder—
Her new son, her Jesus, who would be Lord.

She knew the Scriptures and held them dear.

Her stomach clenched, overwhelmed at being chosen.
Her, a common girl, not worthy, not ready.

The baby fussed, and Mary hugged Him to her chest. A breeze
Tickled the hairs on her arm, and she smiled.
She thought of the Angel’s words, the shepherd’s words.
The voices lifted in praise.

Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.
She held them dear.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve


December 24, 2009

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good
news of great joy that will be for all the people."
-- Luke 2:10

Don't be afraid! What can cast away all fear in the presence of
God's glorious messengers? The joy of knowing that God has come to
earth to bring an end to sin and Satan's curse and to bring
salvation to all people! Fear must not master our hearts when we
know that God has broken through every barrier to reach us with his
overwhelming grace.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Along the Journey


December 23, 2009

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
-- Luke 2:6-7

Jesus entered our world in the most normal of ways for a child:
the time came, his mother gave birth, he was wrapped in soft cloth, and he was placed in a crib. Only this was the Son of God who was born. His crib was a corncrib where animals ate, not a baby’s crib.
His room was a stable because there was no room for him. It wasn’t just normal; it was common, even below average conditions for his birth. Can you imagine? The Holy God who created everything enters our world as a baby to share our way of life as one of us. Why? He loves us and wants us to come home to him. Incredible! Incredible story. Incredible love. Incredible God!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Journey


December 22, 2009

So Joseph went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea,
to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house
and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was
pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
-- Luke 2:4-5

For the next few days, let's journey with Joseph and Mary as
they experience the incredible grace of God. These verses give us
the basics: they took a trip south from their home town, they went
to Bethlehem which was King David's city, they were "betrothed" or
pledged in marriage but not yet fully married, Mary was pregnant,
and they were going there to register with the Roman government.
Intrigue and scandal ripple between the lines of this
straightforward account. Promise and fulfillment are strongly
suggested with the connection. Faithfulness through the midst of
storm is demonstrated. A real historical context for everyday
people is made with the presence of a Roman census. Scandal,
promise, faithfulness, and history collide. Jesus enters our world
very much in a place where we find ourselves -- a place of hope and
dreams marred by scandal, disappointment, travel, and bureaucracy.
He will be a people's Messiah. We know it even before the story of
his birth is told. It makes us love him and appreciate him more.
God has chosen to enter our world as one of us, not as some
pristine and untouched alien from beyond. This is a Messiah we can
reach and follow. This Jesus is one of us.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas with Virginia Smith

The Book of Your Heart
By Virginia Smith

Putting up the Christmas tree at my house is a very special event. I relish the ritual of hanging the ornaments I’ve collected over the years. Each one holds a memory. The shiny silver bell engraved with our wedding date. The brightly painted teddy bear with the year of my daughter’s birth painted on his hat. The skiing Santa I bought on our first ski trip. As I lift each treasure carefully out of the box where it has lain hidden from view all year, a precious memory emerges from deep within my heart and finds a place on my tree.

I imagine stories are like those ornaments, each one a treasure nestled within the heart of a writer, waiting to be brought out and displayed. Perhaps that’s how we first recognize that we are writers: fictitious people walk and talk and breathe within us, and we burn with the desire to show them to others. A story unfolds with startling clarity in our minds, and we know—just know—that we won’t have a moment’s peace until we’ve set it down on paper and shared it.

That burning desire is exactly what enables us to tell a story that stirs the imaginations of others. It is our passion for the story and the characters that causes us to spend hours striving for the precise word or the perfect phrase to relay the vivid images in our heads. For some, the stories conceived in our hearts burst from us full-grown; others hold a story inside, nurturing it in the deep places until it ripens into the thing of beauty we’ve envisioned.

Many years ago, a story bloomed in my heart. It was full of adventure and love, and infused with hope—truly, a thing of beauty. I wrote the first draft feverishly, the words pouring onto the page as the plot unfolded in my mind. The characters were so real, their struggles painful and vivid. I studied the craft, intent on telling my tale with artistry. With each new skill I learned, I revised and polished until the story sparkled. If ever a story was born from the heart, it was that one.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an editor who shared my passion. Whether due to my lack of skill or the uncertainties of the market for that genre, the story of my heart was rejected over and over. I mourned. I raged. I cried out to God, “Why did You give me this story if You don’t intend me to tell it?” After my rage died, I revised and polished the manuscript again. Finally, when there was not a single word that hadn’t been scrubbed until it shone, I gave up. After all, if there was no place for the story of my heart in the publishing world, maybe there was no place for me there either.

That’s when I heard God’s whisper: Do you think I have only one story to give?

A few days later, a character waltzed into my mind and began telling me about her life. She became real to me, as real as the characters in my first story. I discovered that there was room in my heart for her, too. In fact, this new tale took on a glimmer and shine all its own. I employed the skills I’d honed on my first, and eventually, God placed a published book in my hands.

And then He said: I have more stories to give you.

Can you imagine anything sadder than a Christmas tree with only a single ornament? Or a life with only a single precious memory? Or a heart with only a single story?

I am convinced that good stories are born in the heart of God, a heart immense and overflowing with creativity. He carefully selects an author for each one and bestows a precious gift – straight from His heart to ours. We write it and polish it and, when the story has become as beautiful as we can make it, we must hang it on the tree and reach into the box for another treasure.

Virginia Smith is the author of a dozen Christian novels including Stuck in the Middle, a finalist for the 2009 ACFW Book of the Year award, and A Taste of Murder, a finalist for the 2009 Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Her newest, Third Time’s a Charm, the third and final book in her Sister-to-Sister Series, will hit bookstore shelves in January. Learn more about Ginny and her books at

Check Out Ginny's Big Prize Bonanza Giveaway, Going On Now!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


December 12, 2009

... but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.
Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
-- John 4:14

Water! That precious gift for the tired and thirsty. Water! That essential refreshment we all need. Jesus, however, offers water we don't have to carry or purify. No, this is water that wells up within us. This is the water that the Holy Spirit brings us. This is the water that gives us eternal life that starts now and lasts forever!

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Writers And Worry

Great article today by James Scott Bell on the "Kill Zone" blog.

An excerpt--

I thought I'd reflect a little on worry. Writers, after all, really have no cause to worry about anything, right?

I mean, putting aside anxiety over whether they'll ever get an agent, get published, sell enough to stay published, or if they do get published will they get stink bomb reviews; or wondering if they are real writers or only massive frauds, or if they are doing too little self-promotion, or too much; concerns over whether they're putting undue strain on their marriages or other close relationships; and getting migraines wondering what the future of publishing will look like – discounting all that, writers really have no reason to worry at all.

First, drugs. Luckily for writers, pharmaceutical companies have been on the job to develop several treatments for all manner of writerly concerns. Among the most popular are:

Damitol - relieves symptoms associated with wanting to chuck the whole writing thing. Side effects may include cursing, smashing things and inordinate sobbing. Should not be taken by nursing mothers and church deacons.

Agenex - Controls blood pressure when you have to fire your agent. Side effects may include obsession with the number 15.

Bombasic - makes you think you're charming when drunk (Hemingway reportedly was in a research group for this drug). Side effects may include social opprobrium, intense morning headaches and regret.

Pop over to The Kill Zone to read the rest of this hilarious prescription!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Writers and Aging

I Remember When. . . . . .

Aging and the Writer’s Mind

"Old men retain their mental facilities, provided their interest and application continue." ---Cicero, Roman statesman and orator, about 100 BC.

One of the best things about a writing career is that you don’t have to give it up as you get older. In fact, barring memory or vision loss, many of us become much better with age. We will have a lifetime of experiences to draw on, and with any luck the time to get it onto paper.

A lot of the material on the ‘net refers to “anti-aging,” which I find a bit strange. After all, we are all aging, the alternative is death, so why not just “improve aging?” I’m “middle-aged,” in that I expect to live to 90, so I found this topic particularly interesting. How can we improve our chances of aging gracefully and maintaining our mental health? We all know proper diet and moderate exercise are key aspects of health, but what else should we do to keep our minds fresh? And do our habits really shape our older selves?

Dr. Judy Salerno, deputy director of NIH's National Institute on Aging (NIA), says, "When I entered the aging field many years ago, we didn't talk about disease prevention. We simply characterized normal aging. Now we are seeing that people can age successfully in good health well into old age. Disease and disability are not inevitable consequences of aging. . . . Our basic message to older people is that it's never too late," How your grandmother aged is not necessarily how you will age. Genes are not necessarily your destiny. Genes are only part of the story."

Dr. Salerno says perceptions about old age have undergone an almost total change in the last decade or so. What's more, she said, insights on getting older are no longer useful only for people of a certain age. "Habits that are established young in life may help determine how healthy you will be in old age," she says.

"Maintaining good habits and positive attitudes is what we should all be aiming for.
Once a couch potato does not mean always a couch potato. It's never too late to establish good habits, but it's never too early either."
Sheila Wilkinson of has a list of steps to take for graceful aging, including the need to keep interacting with others, keep moving, eat well and get enough antioxidants, take time to be thankful and to volunteer to help others. Also on the list were reading, keeping a hobby and getting a pet. Her suggestions are good for body and brain.

Can what we eat keep your brains young?

The Real Age people believe so, and recommend the following 6 foods for maintaining brain power:

1) Nuts
2) Fish
3) Soybeans
4) Tomato juice/spaghetti sauce
5) Olive oil, fish oils, avocados and flax
6) Real chocolate (at least 70% cocoa)

Good News for Writers!

Jennifer Warner of Web Md, reports that learning a second language keeps us young—and I believe the same principles apply for writers. (If you can write in a second language, even better!)

“Two languages may be better than one when it comes to keeping the mind young. A new study shows that being fluent in two languages may help prevent some of the effects of aging on brain function.
Researchers found that people who were bilingual most of their lives were better able to stay focused on a task amidst a rapidly changing environment compared with people who only spoke one language.

The ability to keep one's attention on a task is known as fluid intelligence, and it is one of the first aspects of brain function to deteriorate as people get older.
Researchers suggest that that the ability to stay focused and to manage attention while ignoring irrelevant information may involve some of the same brain processes involved in using two languages. This means bilingualism may offer a wide range of benefits for keeping the mind sharp and fighting the effects of aging.”

So as we age, the exercise we do mentally is as important as the physical, and it’s never too late to develop healthier habits. Keep writing and read every day—the Bible makes great brain work. Be aware of the symptoms of memory problems and disease onset such as Alzheimer’s, and seek treatment as soon as possible.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Coming Soon, Tales of Fact and Fiction

Coming Soon from MountainView Publishing (

A collection of stories compiled by Kathy Ide. Check out my included story!

Friday, November 27, 2009

A New Look at the Christmas Story

This little book will touch your heart as it shows you "the" story in a new way.

Heard the Christmas Story a Few Too Many Times?

With his instant classic, Touching Wonder, author John Blase

breathes new life into the story of the Nativity

Little children understand how amazing the Nativity story is. But, sometimes, as we become men and women, we put away the childlike with the childish. The result? We lose something vital—the wonder of it all. When author John Blase went looking for the lost wonder of Christmas, he went back to the place he’d last seen it—the stories from Luke 1-2. What he found fills the pages of his new book, Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas (David C Cook, September 2009), with flesh and bone and dust and night and a baby’s cry; the intimate union of human and divine—the Incarnation.

By boldly imagining the first two chapters of the gospel of Luke, writer, editor, and former pastor John Blase has created an instant classic for Christmastime. In a tale that reads like a novel parallel parked by the record of Scripture, Blase beckons those who could use a little wonder in their lives to step onto the stage of history and witness the long awaited coming of the Messiah. With Eugene Peterson’s The Message Bible translation as his backdrop, Blase adds his own voice and commentary to the historic events, exploring the renowned drama from an array of viewpoints.

In Touching Wonder, readers will meet a cast of unruly unlikelies—a frightened teenaged girl, a worried carpenter, a collection of senior citizens, a disillusioned young shepherd, even an angel or two—moving toward the realization that the little one just born is the One. This imaginative retelling of the grand miracle will leave readers wide-eyed, slack-jawed, and heart-full. The Lord is come!

In this lovely and distinctive book to be read…and re-read…and pondered in the heart, young and old will recapture the wonder of the Christmas story by seeing through the eyes of those who lived it. The book’s graceful design and Amanda Jolman’s beautiful line drawings combine to make this a thoughtful Christmas gift as well as a wonder that families will treasure for years to come.

John Blase’s work includes Living the Questions and Living the Letters Bible-study series, the Worldviews reference book (TH1NK), Real Life Stuff for Couples, and The Message Children’s Bible. A former pastor, John currently edits by day and writes by night. He and his wife, Meredith, have three children and make their home in Colorado

Touching Wonder: Recapturing the Awe of Christmas by John Blase

David C Cook/September 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4347-6465-2/hardcover/128 pages/$12.99

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful
. --- Colossians 3:15

Monday, November 23, 2009

Don't Be Fooled by Harlequin's Vanity Scheme

Novelists, Inc. Responds to Disturbing Developments in Publishing:

"Vanity publishing is not new, although the Internet has become a
lucrative feeding ground for vanity publishers. Presented with enough
enthusiastic jargon and color graphics, a hopeful author might well be
convinced that he has stumbled upon a fantastic new way of bringing
his stories, his voice, to the reading public.

"Alas, the truth is that vanity publishing is still the same old
opportunistic hag dressed up in new clothing, with the added flash and
dash of savvy marketing. It still exists to part dreamers from their
money, with very little hope of return. The dangled bait never
changes, the creatively couched language suggesting that all these
good things "could, may, might possibly, perhaps" happen for you if
you choose one from column A and two from Column B on their à la carte
menu of pricey services.

"There is now a new, deeply disturbing twist being applied to this
age-old money grab. Publishers with brand names, currently enjoying
respectable reputations within the industry and with the reading
public, are putting both on the chopping block in order to get a share
of the vanity publishing market.

"It takes years to build a respected name and reputation in this
industry. Losing that respect happens much more quickly, sometimes

"No authors' organization can prevent a publisher from setting up a
vanity publishing division. Writers' organizations can, however,
speak firmly and clearly about the sort of egregious business
practices that reflect badly on our entire industry.

"Ninc strongly advocates that any and all publishing houses that now
operate or are in the planning stages of creating vanity publishing
arms do so ethically and responsibly, while adhering to accepted
standards of full disclosure. This includes not using the same or a
similar name for the vanity division of their royalty-paying
publishing house.

"Ninc further strongly advocates that these houses either cease and
desist or do not institute the practice of steering hopeful writers
who are rejected by the royalty-paying divisions of their companies
into the open arms of their vanity publishing offshoot.

To do otherwise demeans the publisher's brand and robs credibility
from every one of its conventional, contracted authors."

Read more here, and find information for those considering the vanity publishing route.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Interested in your Work!

Well the holidays are almost upon us! If you can take a break from shopping, wrapping, singing and baking, here is a small press market interested in your work:

Writer’s Exchange E-Publishing

A few words with Publisher, Sandy Cummins

1-- What are your needs (for submissions) at this time?

I desperately need romances (non-erotica), other than that, good
quality writing that we don't have to edit to death to make reasonable.

2--What do you not want to see?

Grammar, punctuation and spelling mistakes. If you are a writer, know
your craft, if you don't know your craft, learn it first, then submit
to a publisher.

3--Any advice for new writers?

When you think you are done with a novel, leave it for a few months
then read it out loud to someone, that will turn up a lot of mistakes
and lack of flow. Then if that passed the test, get other writers to
look at it and ask for critiques.

4--Describe your ideal submitter.

Someone who has done the work to produce a polished manuscript - no
typos, no obvious bad grammar.

5-- Anything else you'd like to add?

We edit to make the work better, but we really want something good to
start with and prevent you being rejected straight up.


submission page:

The following genres are currently being accepted:

* Action/Adventure/War
* Business/Finance
* Christian (Fiction and non-fiction)
* Fantasy
* General Fiction (Miscellanous fiction that does not fit under any of the other categories)
* Historical
* Humour
* Mystery
* Parenting
* Romance - This includes sweet up to sensual rating. Romances can include traditional romance or multi-genre (ie mixed with paranormal, time-travel, mythological creatures etc). We are particularly looking for vampire, werewolf and other paranormal romances. We do not publish: erotica, homosexual romances (you can have homosexual characters in your stories, but we do not want romances featuring homosexual relationships). We also do not want stories that contain non-consensual relationships, bestiality, or undue crudity.
* Science Fiction
* Self-Help/How-To (this includes DIY, Health, Advice, hobbies etc)
* Westerns
* Writing Advice

If your book does not fit any of these genres please send me an email and ask if we would be willing to publish it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Start of the Christmas Season

Always starts with holiday reads for me! I treated myself to this tote bag of Christmas romances from White Rose Publishing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


(Romans 8:28; Galatians 6:9)

by Bill Keller at

I want to ENCOURAGE YOU today! I don't know exactly what you are facing in your life this moment, I don't know what your problems are, what trials and tribulations you are experiencing in your life right now. But I do know this, everyone reading these words today is going though something. No matter what it is, I want to give you a message right from the throne room of God...DON'T GIVE UP!!!
I am not going to tell you that all of your problems will be solved by the time you go to bed tonight, chances are they won't. I am not going to tell you that everything will work out exactly the way you want it to, chances are they won't. I am going to tell you, however, that God will provide the answers to whatever your problems may be. I am going to tell you, however, that God will work everything out. God promised us in His Word, "..and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,who have been called according to his purpose."

God told me to tell you today...DON'T GIVE UP!

If you are battling with an illness in your body today...DON'T GIVE UP! If you are battling with your finances today...DON'T GIVE UP! If you are battling with your marriage today...DON'T GIVE UP! If you are you are battling with your employment or schooling today...DON'T GIVE UP! If you are battling with your children today...DON'T GIVE UP! If you are battling with an addiction today...DON'T GIVE UP! NO MATTER WHAT YOUR BATTLE IS TODAY...DON'T GIVE UP!

My friend, God loves you. He knows what you are going through in your life today. He has not abandoned you, He has not forsaken you. In your darkest hour you can be assured that God is right there with you. When everyone else has turned their back on you, when everyone else has run away, when nobody is left to stand with you...GOD IS STILL THERE! On the night He was betrayed, Jesus saw His disciples run from Him, deny even knowing Him, yet He was never alone because God was with Him. Even when those you love the most leave you, Jesus is there because He promised to "never leave you nor forsake you."

God told me to tell you today...DON'T GIVE UP!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veteran's Day

Just wanted to say thank you to all of the veterans who have served our great country. Thank you for your service, your loyalty, your patriotism, your sacrifice. God bless.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

We Are His


November 8, 2009

If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
-- Romans 14:8

We are the Lord's. He bought us out of bondage to sin and death.
We have voluntarily placed our lives in his hands. No matter what we do or where we go, his grace goes with us. He has promised to never leave us. He has assured us that nothing can separate us from his love. So let's live with a sense of excited anticipation, looking to see where the Lord will lead us. Let us face difficulty, and even death, with the assurance that we will not face tough times alone. Even in the shadow of death, we don't have to fear what the evil can do. We are the Lord's.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Movie To See

The Jesus Movie for

the Next Generation

Guest post by Bruce Marchiano, producer of Jesus...No Greater Love

The truth of the gospel never changes. But Christianity has many faces. They reflect the customs and cultures and the beautiful diversity of the global church. They are lined with the wisdom of age and vibrant with the passion of youth. One gospel for all the world…but how will we deliver it in a way that reaches the whole world? How will we reach the next generation?

Young Christians today are more like St. Francis of Assisi than a circuit riding preacher. “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words.” This is a generation focused on being the hands and feet of Christ and meeting the physical needs of those in both the local and global community. They are building houses, planting gardens, taking food and clothes to the poor and helping the widows and orphans… and then they are sharing the gospel. And they are using technology like never before. They communicate the message through audio, film, video and the internet, and they strive for excellence within those mediums. They must. This is how they will reach their generation for Christ.

I share their passion. In the film, The Gospel According to Matthew, we were able to capture the heart of Christ that is so often missing in Christian films, but the quality of the film making was constrained by an $800,000 budget. Now we are inspiring a movement that will bring Jesus to film in a version that literally leaps off the screen and into the hearts of viewers.

Jesus…No Greater Love, the new Jesus movie, ( will be a word for word, verse by verse film adaption of the Gospel according to John. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation. That’s really our concept, that the gospel would go out in the power of the film medium, unaltered by any human script writer.

The budget for a typical Hollywood production is $100-110 million. Actors’ salaries account for much of that cost. Because the new Jesus movie will be not be paying big name actors, our team believes we can produce a world class, state-of-the-art film incorporating the latest cutting-edge technology for just $45 million. The production will be shot on location in Jerusalem and shot digitally using CGI backgrounds and a green screen stage, providing unlimited potential for sharing the gospel for generations to come.

We are inviting people from all nations and all generations to join this movement to bring the gospel to all people. A movement made of 4.5 million people contributing a tax deductible donation of $10 each would fund the cost of the film. The Gospel belongs to everyone, and the new Jesus movie will be produced expressly so it can be accessed by everyone, no matter their financial situation. Our team's vision is to see the film translated into as many languages as possible and supplied to mission organizations and churches all over the world.

You can become a part of the movement to reach the next generation. Please help us spread the word to your friends and family. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so at

Also, you can keep up with our progress by visiting any of these links:


Bruce Marchiano is an actor, author, international speaker, and the founder of Marchiano Ministries, a non-profit organization reaching out to people both spiritually and practically in the USA and across the world. He is best known for his joyful, passionate portrayal of Jesus in the film, The Gospel According to Matthew.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Fall

Something to ponder while the world plays with Halloween


October 30, 2009

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

Out of the attacks of evil come the victories of God and the victory chants of God's people. Let's find our strength and protection in our holy God! Let's make God our hiding place, our source of security, and our hope in times of trouble.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where To Put Your Troubles

Where To Put Your Troubles

Thanks To Bible Study Planet

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you. He will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22)
Put your troubles where you have put your sins. You have put your sins onto Jesus — put your troubles there also!

As soon as the trouble comes tell it to your Father in heaven! Remember, the longer you take telling your trouble to God, the longer you will wait for peace. The longer the frost lasts, the more likely the ponds will be frozen. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

Putting your burden upon the Lord is the way to soothe sorrow. Oh, troubled Christians, don’t dishonor your faith by always wearing a frown of concern. Come, put your burden upon the Lord. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

I see you staggering beneath a weight that He would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden would be nothing but a bit of dust to Him. The Almighty bends His shoulders, and He says to you, “Put your troubles here!”

- C.H. Spurgeon

Monday, October 19, 2009

Piece de Resistance

This novel was a delicious journey! Join Sandra Byrd 's heroine, Lexi, as she creates her career, her life and some lovely cakes along the way.

Piece de Resistance

Having earned her chef’s hat, Lexi Stuart bids au revoir to her glamorous and deliciously satisfying pastry mentorship outside of Paris and returns to her hometown of Seattle, Washington. There, she finds life unexpectedly complicated.

She’s put in charge of a high-end catering bakery called Bijoux, which should be her dream job, but there’s a catch: She has to make this lavish bakery into a successful business in just a few, short months, which will require more than her ability to make an amazing wedding cake. Stir in a complicated relationship with her French beau Philippe and his daughter, Celine, then add a dash of romance with down-to-earth lawyer Dan, and life suddenly contains more ooh la la than Lexi can handle.

About Sandra:

After earning her first rejection at the age of thirteen, bestselling author Sandra Byrd went on to publish more than three dozen books including her widely-acclaimed adult fiction debut, Let Them Eat Cake and it’s sequels, and her forthcoming young adult fiction series, London Confidential.

A former textbook acquisitions editor, Sandra is also an accomplished non-fiction writer and author. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications such as Radiant, Focus on the Family's Clubhouse Magazine, Christian Parenting Today, Today’s Christian Woman, Pockets, Decision, and Guideposts. During the past eight years, Sandra has mentored hundreds of students through the Christian Writer's Guild.

Sandra resides in Seattle, Washington with her husband Michael, a chaplain, their two teenagers, and a circus dog named Brie.

Sandra Byrd Online:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Thought



October 18, 2009

A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.
-- Psalm 34:19-20

We know that the righteous can have troubles, but how do we understand that God delivers us from them all? How do we understand that he protects all our bones, especially in light of recent tragedies and the persecution of believers in many places in the world? Paul demonstrates the answer: whatever happens to him will turn out for his deliverance -- whether it is through his death to be with God or whether it is through his release from prison to continue ministry (Phil. 1:19-23). Our deliverance is secure. We are conquerors in Christ. Nothing Satan can do to us can steal us away from God's love, not even death (Romans 8:32-39).

Father, please give me the faith I need to believe that whatever happens in my life will not steal me away from your love and deliverance for me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Monday, October 12, 2009

When God Turned Off The Lights

If you have ever felt like God was nowhere near or you were alone in total darkness, or want to be prepared for such a feeling, you need to read Cec Murphey's new release. The subtitle is "True Stories of Seeking God in the Darkness," and the book tells of Cec's personal journeys on three different instances over the years as he sought to follow Christ.

What to Do When the Lights Go Out

by Cec Murphey

If you sincerely desire to follow Jesus Christ, life won't always be easy. Many times the Bible promises victory, and you may need to remind yourself that there can be no victory without struggling and overcoming obstacles.

In my book, I used the image of God turning out the lights because that was how I perceived the situation. I felt as if I walked in darkness for 18 months. We all interact differently with God, and my experience won't be the same as yours. Even so, most serious Christians have times when God seems to turn away or stops listening. And we feel alone.

Perhaps it's like the time the Israelites cried out to God for many years because of the Egyptian oppression. "God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise...and knew it was time to act" (Exodus 2:24 NLT). God hadn't forgotten, of course, but from their perspective, that's how it must have seemed. It may seem like that to you if you're going through your own form of darkness.

Here are a few suggestions to help you:

1. Ask God this simple question: "Have I knocked out the lights by my failures? Have I sinned against you? After you ask the question, listen. Give God the opportunity to speak to you.

2. Don't see this as divine punishment (unless God shows you it is), but consider the silence an act of divine love to move you forward. This is God's method to teach you and stretch you.

3. Avoid asking why. You don't need reasons and explanations--and you probably won't get them anyway. Instead, remind yourself that this temporary darkness is to prepare you for greater light.

4. Say as little as possible to your friends. Most friends will want to "fix" you or heal you and they can't. They may offer advice (often not helpful) or make you feel worse ("Are you sure everything is right between you and God?").

5. Stay with the "means of grace." That is, don't neglect worship with other believers even if you feel empty. Read your Bible even if you can't find anything meaningful.

I chose to read Lamentations and Psalms (several times, especially Lamentations) because they expressed some of the pain and despair I felt.

6. If you don't have a daily prayer time, start one. Perhaps something as short as three minutes--and do it daily. Talk honestly to God. It's all right to get angry. (Read the Psalms if you're hesitant.)

7. Remind yourself, "I am in God's hands. This is where I belong and I'll stay in the blackout until I'm ready to move forward."

8. Pray these words daily: "But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults" (Psalm 19:12 TNIV). Some versions say "secret sins." These are failures and sins of which you may not yet be aware. One of the purposes of your darkness may be to bring those hidden problems to light.

9. Ask God, "What do you want me to learn from this experience?" You may not get an answer, but it's still a good question. Continue to ask--even after the lights go back on again. If you're open, you will learn more about yourself and also about God.

10. As you receive "light" about yourself while walking in darkness, remind yourself, God has always known and still loves me.

About the Author: Award-winning writer Cecil Murphey is the author or co-author of more than 100 books, including the "New York Times" bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). He's also the author of When Someone You Love Has Cancer and Christmas Miracles, both 2009 releases. Murphey's books have sold millions and have brought hope and encouragement to countless people around the world.

Want more?
Each chapter of When God Turned Off the Lights ends with an inspirational personal quote from Cec. Here's a sampling:

Although it may seem as if God is asleep when we go through deep darkness, could it be that God is most watchful in the moments of our despair?

Could it be that moving from why to what might take us one more step closer to the light?

Our task is to hang on. We wait until God takes us off hold and deals directly with us again.

God's provision is based on unconditional love - not on my faithfulness.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Today I'm chatting with Jenness Walker on her new release, Double Take.


1) Tell us about your latest release. What inspired you to write it?

Double Take
begins with Cole, the hero, reading a best-selling thriller where the villain plays a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the heroine. When the first scene from the book is replicated in real life in front of Cole and a woman is kidnapped, Cole believes he holds the clue to her survival in his hands. But will anyone listen to him? Or will he be too late to save her? The story is set mostly in Atlanta and includes some of the scenes from the thriller.

I’m not really sure what inspired it. I’d just read an interview about a book cover model and thought it was pretty interesting. Then I was mulling a couple plots and trying to come up with something that combined elements of the two. The result was Double Take although it really doesn’t have anything to do with the ideas I’d been brainstorming in the first place. 

2) What is your typical writing day like?

I’m not much of a schedule person, but if I guess my average day, when I’m in the groove, goes something like this—Come home from work. Check my email. Make supper. Hang out with my husband. Then settle at my computer and play around for a while, pretending to write.  Usually I can get going around 8 or 9 p.m., and if it’s flowing, write as late as 2 a.m.

3) Among your books, who are your favorite hero and heroine?

I still have a soft spot for Jake and Raymi from my first (unpublished) novel. Jake, because he’s so broken, yet so sweet—you just want to hug him. Raymi, because she is someone I look up to and want to be like in real life. I’m excited because in my next project I’m about to revisit them!

4) Tell us more about your hobbies.

Well, obviously I love to read. I also love to decorate, which over the years has resulted in a granny apple green room, a red room, brown, aqua, periwinkle…And somehow my husband still loves me. I also enjoy planning vacations. We like to find small towns with antique shops, old opera houses, etc. to visit.

5) Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

Be patient. Really, you don’t have much of a choice. Lol. But life isn’t perfect on the other side of a contract, either. Be content with where you’re at. Enjoy it! Trust God that The Call will come when the time is right.

6) What are your favorite writing or reading groups (online or off)?

The American Christian Fiction Writers ( Absolutely. They offer so much and are the warmest, most encouraging group of writers you’ll ever meet.

7) Which genres do you enjoy reading for pleasure?

Hm…suspense, chick lit, westerns, romance. I’ll read almost anything, although I haven’t gotten into Amish fiction yet.

8) Anything else you would like to add --upcoming releases, local appearances?
I have my very first book signing on October 14th! Here’s the link for more details.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Three Keys For Christian Living

Thanks to Bible Study Planet!

1) Keep Your Eyes Fixed On The World To Come

“We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Cor 4:18
A Christian should keep his eye on his journey’s end, just as our Lord Jesus, while enduring the cross, kept focus on the joy that was before him (Heb 12:2). And again when the stones flew towards Stephen, his eyes were lifted up to heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God (Acts 7:55-56).

Though you may lie at the rich man’s gates, soon you will escorted into Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:19-31). Though Israel had a rough journey through the wilderness, Caleb and Joshua, men of excellent spirits, had their eye upon the good land they were going to (Num 14).

In the same way let the eyes of your heart be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe (Eph 1:18-19).

2) Be Content With Your Present Situation

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. ” – Phil 4:11-13
Though you may suffer now, your suffering will not last forever. Your sorrows shall be short, and your joys long. Remember that Christ first endured the cross before he wore the crown. And David, before he was a king, was a shepherd. Remember that Lazarus, before he was carried into heaven, had experienced sorrow and sufferings on earth.

When Jeremiah would ask the Lord why wicked prosper, he was sure to say that the Lord’s judgments were righteous. And his point wasn’t to charge God with being unfair, it was to learn understanding of him in the way of his judgments (Jer 12).

Even if the godly have many waves of trials crashing upon them, the Lord will command his love towards them (Psa 42:7-8). And, after a little while, they shall arrive at the heavenly haven. This world is not the Christian’s resting-place, their rest is still to come (Heb 4:9).

3) Let Faith And Hope Lift You Above Your Suffering

“We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations…” – Rom 5:2-3
Find peace in the fact that through Christ, whatever your present troubles are — whether outward afflictions, or inward temptations — they will soon be over. Then your sighs and groans shall be turned into songs of praise. You have all the hell you will ever experience now. Where the wicked man’s joy ends is where yours begins – and it shall never end.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sunday Thought


October 4, 2009

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all
my fears.
-- Psalm 34:4

Have you sought the LORD lately? Many of us made a commitment to
turn all of our lives over to him last week; how have you done at
that commitment? God promises wisdom to those who ask and don't
doubt. Have you asked for wisdom recently? Let's join our hearts
together, and with the Spirit's help, let's seek our Father so that
we can honor and glorify him, finding our blessing in his presence.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Something I Can Do?

Someone sent me this in an e-mail, not sure who the author is. But I really think he hit the nail on the head!

If someone you know needs help, don't annoy them by asking

if there's anything you can do.

Think of something appropriate and do it.

Edgar Howe [adapted]

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Surely Goodness


September 26, 2009

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
-- Psalm 23:6

God is our Shepherd. Our destiny is tied to his goodness and
mercy which he longs to shower upon us until he brings us home to
dwell with him forever.

Friday, September 25, 2009

In The Presence of my Enemies


September 25, 2009

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You
anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
-- Psalm 23:5

While the enemy of the righteous may flourish for a season, God
will lavish his love and show his favor on the righteous. As the
apostle Paul reminded his dear friends in Philippi, their prayers
and the work of the Holy Spirit guaranteed his deliverance: he
would either be delivered from prison and death to serve them, or
he would be delivered from prison through death to go be with the
Father (Phil. 3:19-23). Either way, God's righteous will get a
banquet, a place of honor, and a royal welcome that will vindicate
their faithfulness before those who oppose them.

Monday, September 21, 2009

If God Is Good

I was a philosophy major in college, and remember taking a course on "The Problem of Evil." I wasn't sure I wanted to delve into the issue again but couldn't resist giving Randy Alcorn's book a try. I found it to be a study on life, and hope.

Every one of us will experience suffering. Many of us are experiencing it now. As we have seen in recent years, evil is real in our world, present and close to each one of us.

In such difficult times, suffering and evil beg questions about God--Why would an all-good and all-powerful God create a world full of evil and suffering? And then, how can there be a God if suffering and evil exist?

These are ancient questions, but also modern ones as well. Atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and even former believers like Bart Ehrman answer the question simply: The existence of suffering and evil proves there is no God.

In this captivating new book, best-selling author Randy Alcorn challenges the logic of disbelief, and brings a fresh, realistic, and thoroughly biblical insight to the issues these important questions raise.

Alcorn offers insights from his conversations with men and women whose lives have been torn apart by suffering, and yet whose faith in God burns brighter than ever. He reveals the big picture of who God is and what God is doing in the world–now and forever. And he equips you to share your faith more clearly and genuinely in this world of pain and fear.

As he did in his best-selling book, Heaven, Randy Alcorn delves deep into a profound subject, and through compelling stories, provocative questions and answers, and keen biblical understanding, he brings assurance and hope to all.

Randy Alcorn
is the founder and director of Eternal Perspectives Ministries and a bestselling author. His novels include Deadline, Dominion, Edge of Eternity, Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, The Ishbane Conspiracy, and the Gold Medallion winner, Safely Home. He has written eighteen nonfiction books as well, including Heaven, The Treasure Principle, The Purity Principle, and The Grace and Truth Paradox. Randy and his wife, Nanci, live in Oregon and have two married daughters and four grandsons.

Order and more info here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A thought for Sunday: Plans?

excerpt from's Daily Devotional--

You must have a game plan from God. I remember so clearly the first time I read the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, how God always gave His children a game plan. From the exact measurements for Noah to build the ark, to the Ten Commandments, to the way the tabernacle was to be constructed, to how the armies were to take the city of Jericho, all the way to the founding of the early churches...God always gave His children a specific game plan.

I don't care what the situation you may be facing today is, whether it is a health issue, financial, a relationship problem, work or school related, the fact is God can give you a game plan today to guide you to victory in whatever battle you are fighting today. Those who are successful, those who are moving forward in their life, those who are bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God . . . are those who have a plan from God and are executing that plan on a day-to-day basis.
The natural question is how do you get a plan from God. That comes from the intimate daily relationship with the Lord I encourage you daily to maintain. Does the general of an army give his battle plan to his troops or to total strangers? Of course he gives them to his troops. God is the same way. He has a game plan for His children, but you have got to be plugged in to hear Him.

Most people languish in their circumstances and never get beyond them because they have no game plan. Most people are ineffective in their Christian service because they have no game plan. Most people fail because they are trying to execute their own plan. To be effective you must get a game plan, and to be successful that plan must come from God!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Prayer


September 13, 2009

We wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our
great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to
redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people
that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
-- Titus 2:13-14

We haven't arrived at our destination (cf. Philippians 3). We
are in waiting! Jesus, who offered his own life for our redemption,
will gloriously return to take us home. During our time of waiting,
let's be eager to do what is right, good, and holy.

Father, make me holy. Holy Spirit, make me eager. Jesus, make me
glorious. Do these things for your praise and for the blessing of
those who need to know you better. Please forgive me for the times
I have settled for mediocrity and stir me to a holy passion to
belong to you. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stolen Identity

by Kay Marshall Strom

Enormous eyes in a bony-thin face, and a baggy green dress that dragged the ground. Because of all the cast-off children at the village school in India, the raggedy girl stood closest to our translator, he gently asked her, "What is your name?"

The girl stared.

"Your name. What is it?" the translator asked again.

The girl whispered her answer: "I have no name."

A child with no name. A little girl abandoned so young she could not even remember what her parents had called her. She grew up begging at the train platform, snatching up the scraps harried passengers dropped, watching other children picked off by traffickers. Now that she was seven or eight--perhaps even a scrawny nine--the traffickers had come for her. But the girl screamed and kicked and clawed so ferociously that someone called the police. Someone with clout, evidently, because the police came and pulled her away from the traffickers. Somebody in the crowd suggested that instead of putting the child in jail, the police might take her to the village school, which they did. They dropped her at the door and left.

Human trafficking, especially sex trafficking, is rampant around the world. We think of it as an eastern European problem, or Indian or Nepalese or Thai. It is. But it's also a Western problem. The U.S. State Department estimates between 14,500 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the Untied States each year, but concede that the real number is far higher. According to the U.S. Justice Department's head of the new human trafficking unit, there is now at least one case of trafficking in every state.

The little girl with no name was fortunate that someone responded to her screaming pleas. What would you do if you heard a child shriek for help? Of course, if she were a trafficking victim in this country, she wouldn't likely scream or kick. She would probably shrink away in terror, or act submissively. You might see wounds--cuts, bruises, burns. Perhaps what would catch your attention would be the constant work: babysitting, cooking, washing dishes, scrubbing floors--never just being a child. Or maybe you couldn't say exactly what was wrong--only that something about the child's situation made you profoundly uneasy.

Please, please, if you suspect a person is being trafficked, call 911 and report it. Yes, it is okay. Yes, even it you are mistaken. In fact, eighteen states require citizens to report possible child abuse or neglect of any kind.

In the 1700s, Quakers led the fight against the African slave trade. In 1885, the Salvation Army took up the abolition banner, and since then it has led the fight against a different kind of slavery. More and more, 21st century abolitionists are followers of Christ determined to see slavery of all kinds ended in our day.

Oh yes... Before I left the school in India, I asked if we might give the little girl a name. She is now Grace.

About the Author:

Author Kay Marshall Strom has two great loves: writing and helping others achieve their own writing potential. Kay has written thirty-six published books including Daughters of Hope: Stories of Witness and Courage in the Face of Persecution and In the Presence of the Poor. She's also authored numerous magazine articles, and two screenplays. While mostly a nonfiction writer, the first book of her historical novel trilogy Grace in Africa has met with acclaim. Kay speaks at seminars, retreats, writers' conferences, and special events throughout the country and around the world. She is in wide demand as an instructor and keynote speaker at major writing conferences. She also enjoys speaking aboard cruise ships in exchange for exotic cruise destinations.

Schedule Kay for an interview or request her book for review by contacting Kathy Carlton Willis Communications at or call 956-642-6319.

Monday, September 07, 2009

The Transformation Study Bible

This new study Bible is a wonderful resource. Along with the full NLT text, Dr. Wiersbe includes introductory sections, book outlines, book overviews, catalyst notes, cross references, maps, a concordance and study notes.

View a book trailer here.

Warren Wendel Wiersbe is an American pastor, Bible teacher, conference speaker and a prolific writer of Christian literature and theological works. Born on May 16, 1929 in East Chicago; Warren Wiersbe is perhaps best known for his series of 27 books in the "Be" series: Be Real, Be Rich, Be Mature, Be Joyful, etc. and other theological works.

As pastors seek to make the Word of God more understandable in an age that is unfamiliar with the Bible, and as growing disciples seek to discover the truth of Scripture in a skeptical culture, there is a great need for guidance in both the preaching and study of God’s Word. Whether you’re a pastor, a seminary student, or a truth-seeking disciple, an understanding of the Bible can be made clear to you with the help of one of the most influential, in-depth, and practical Bible scholars in modern history.

For over thirty years, millions have come to rely on the timeless wisdom of Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe’s “Be” Commentary series. Dr. Wiersbe’s commentary and insights on Scripture have helped readers understand and apply God’s Word with the goal of life transformation. According to Dr. Wiersbe, “It isn’t enough for us simply to read assigned portions of the Bible each day, as helpful as that is. A truly transforming experience involves meditating on what we read (Ps. 1:2), studying it carefully in the light of other verses, and then obeying what God tells us to do (Josh. 1:8).” Now available for the first time, The Transformation Study Bible offers the full text of the highly readable New Living Translation with accompanying notes and commentary from the 50 books in Dr. Wiersbe’s “Be” series.

“The Transformation Study Bible will better enable readers to appreciate, appropriate, and apply the Word of God, which will result in ‘purity, joy, right values, hope, comfort, freedom, new life, peace, guidance, wisdom, integrity, encouragement, and effective prayer,’” states Wiersbe. In other words, if you want to be a new person, knowing and obeying the will of God and becoming more like Jesus Christ, there is perhaps no finer tool to encourage that process than The Transformation Study Bible.

One of the most anticipated and comprehensive study Bibles of the year, The Transformation Study Bible has been a lifetime in the making by a man who is widely known as a prolific and trusted writer and theologian. The former pastor of The Moody Church in Chicago, an internationally known Bible teacher, and someone who has given his life to a deep examination of the Word of God, Dr. Wiersbe lends his vast experience and scholarly insight to the most beloved and revered book of all time. This effort is to encourage believers of all levels to know and love the Bible and to experience the same transformation that has radically changed his life. The result is a Bible that is clear, understandable, and applicable to the lives of its readers.

Dr. Wiersbe writes, “The remedy for discouragement is the Word of God. When you feed your heart and mind with its truth, you regain your perspective and find renewed strength.” By providing a new set of tools for Bible students of all levels, David C Cook and Warren Wiersbe have partnered to provide an essential tool to help bring the “perspective” and “renewed strength” that comes from a life transforming study of God’s Word. This fantastic and long awaited resource will bring more clarity than ever before to the study of God’s Word.

The Transformation Study Bible with General Editor Warren Wiersbe

David C Cook September 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1434765307/2100 pages/$24.99

Thursday, September 03, 2009

I Shall Not Want


September 3, 2009

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
-- Psalm 23:1

A sheep is only as good as its shepherd. We are incredibly

O Great Shepherd, carry me like a lamb, tenderly in your arms
and close to your heart. My life, my future, and my strength depend
upon you. Please help me hear your voice above the confusing
distractions around me. Under your care I have no fears. Thank you
for being my Shepherd. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Love Your Neighbor


August 30, 2009

[Jesus replied,] "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your
strength.' The second is this: `Love your neighbor as yourself.'
There is no commandment greater than these."

-- Mark 12:30-31

Sometimes the most important things are not hard to understand.
God wants us to love him with every fiber of our being and to also
love those around us. All of his demands on character really boil
down to honoring these two great principles that transcend law and
bring the character of God to hearts.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Character Emotions

I recently reviewed this book for Mary DeMuth's summer writing-book series.

Like many of you, I’ve read dozens of how-to books on the craft of writing. The one I most often refer to is “Creating Character Emotions” by Ann Hood (Story Press, 1998.) Every time I pick up Ann’s book, I read something that sparks an “Aha!” moment concerning one of my own characters. The first section discusses writing about emotion, how to do it so your story is fresh and your characters complex. The author also shows “How to do it wrong” and end up with a story full of clichés and inconsistencies. She explains techniques for showing emotion, including The Power of Suggestion, Point of View, Fresh Language and Using the Unpredictable.

The larger portion of the book delves into actual character emotions. These include love, jealousy, restlessness, shame, suspicion, despair, grief, sympathy, tenderness and others. Just reading through the author’s examples, both good and bad, provides me with instant insight into my own characters. For example, Ann’s chapter on Tenderness includes this gem: “Tenderness implies something almost tactile. We say a bruise feels tender. Keeping this in mind is a good way to push yourself toward rendering this emotion effectively. Use physical expressions. . . be wary of cliché.” Instantly my mind is at work applying this emotion to one of my characters, attempting to show it in a fresh way.

In her chapter on Jealousy, Ann explains the phrase “green with envy” is not a good choice to show this emotion. “It has a way of consuming us. It can destroy friendships. It cam make us irrational and drive us to do embarrassing things. . . people are hesitant to admit they feel this way. . . Remember its power to overwhelm us.” I haven’t applied this emotion to my characters yet, but I’m ready when the time comes.

This book is available at

Friday, August 21, 2009

Social Networking and Your Creativity

Timing is everything. Just today I deleted several of my social networking accounts, since they seemed to be time-drains. Thanks to Robin Lee Hatcher, who recently did the same thing, and who also found this article today:

How Social Networking Kills the Creative Spirit

by JT Ellison

You want to hear some hard truth? Do you promise not to get mad at me? Promise?

Okay then. Here it is. Your social networking habit? It might be hurting you.

Yes, I know it’s fun. Meeting new people, reconnecting with old friends, discussing the price of tea in china with strangers, staffing up your mafia, finding out your Princess personality, etcetera, etcetera. But every minute you spend on Facebook and Twitter (I'm not even going to try and list the gajillion other social networking sites available) is another minute you aren’t writing, or reading. Nurturing your creative spirit.

The Muse is a delicate flower, a fickle Goddess. She must be treated with respect and dignity. She must be nurtured, given the proper nutrients: water, sunlight, fertilizer, a touch of love. If properly taken care of, she will reward you with great things: a bountiful garden of words, a cornucopia of ideas. But if you neglect her, she will forsake you.

And none of us want to be forsaken.

read an essay last week that broke my heart. It was one writer’s honest, true assessment of her burgeoning Twitter addiction. She openly admitted compromising her family time so she could spend hours a night talking to strangers on Twitter. Her online world became more important that her real one. And I get it. I see how easily that happens. Especially when you’re a new writer, and networking is so vital to your future success. (I am so thankful Facebook and Twitter came along after I was already published.) A little encouragement—that tweet that gets retweeted, the blog entry that starts people talking, that link you sent that helps someone else—it’s heady stuff. A classic, undeniable ego stroke, and for a lot of us, that’s just plain intoxicating. (Yes, some of us not so new writers fall into the Twitter trap too…)

But when does it become a problem?

Find out here.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Suffering from Christian-ish?

Mark Steele's new release will help you figure it out.

In his new book, author Mark Steele transforms middle-ground,
Christianish faith into a passionate, authentic pursuit of Christ
evangelicalism has lost its balance. A lukewarm spirituality, somewhere
between cold faith and hot pursuit, has taken hold and found many believers
in the median between the wide path and the narrow road of the spiritual
walk. The efforts of many have become more centered on how to cope with
their own dysfunctional lives, and less concentrated on what it really
means to follow Jesus. It's something not quite Christian. It's more

Mark Steele tells the story of his
own personal journey from living in the "in-between" to a life that's
centered on Christ. "Somewhere along the road, I stopped being a 'little
Christ' and instead began filling out the application that I had labeled
'Christian.' It was not a definition based on the actual namesake but,
rather, on those who frequent the clubhouse. I allowed Jesus to seep into
my church world-but not my relational world, my romance world, my business
world, my creative world, my habits, my mouth. I had become Christianish."

Christianish may feel like authentic faith. It may even look like the real
deal. Yet it's often easy to settle for the souvenir t-shirt-the
appearance of a transformed heart-instead of taking the actual trip through
true life-change. We find ourselves being contented with a personal faith
that's been polluted by culture and diluted by other people's take on

In Christianish, Mark revisits the words and life of Christ to find just
what it means to be a Christian. Through stories and insights that are
sometimes profound, often hilarious, and always honest, he delivers a
compelling look at what authentic faith is all about. While carefully
detailing the tell tale symptoms of being Christianish, Mark encourages
readers to ditch the "ish" to become true Christ-followers.

"We have trained ourselves to cope well on a Christianish path: a path
where we please the right godly people and don't feel the guilt when our
failings are seen by the world at large. But this is not the approach to
Jesus that we were created to take. There is only one way for us to
discover the right way to travel the right road. The way is not church.
The way is not an ideology. The way is not Christian. The way is Jesus."

Mark Steele
is the president and executive creative of Steelehouse
Productions, a group that creates art for business and ministry through the
mediums of film, stage, and animation. He is also the author of Flashbang:
How I Got Over Myself and Half-Life/Die Already and is a regular
contributor to Collide Magazine and Relevant Magazine. Mark and his wife,
Kaysie, reside in Oklahoma with their three greatest productions: Morgan,
Jackson, and Charlie.

Christianish: What if We're Not Really Following Jesus at All? by Mark

David C Cook/August 2009/ISBN 978-1-434766-92-2/320 pages/softcover/$14.99