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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Guest Devotional Writer: Robin Johns Grant

                          Will My Readers *Get It*?

Since I’m in the middle of a blog tour for my new book, Jordan’s Shadow, I’ve been writing a lot of guest posts. Last week I wrote one asking readers (and writers) whether they prefer a story with everything thoroughly explained, or like to have some questions to puzzle over even after the end of the story. Do you want an author to tell you the spiritual point of a novel, or do you like figuring it out for yourself as you get to know the characters and follow the action?

I know a lot of us Christian writers want to make sure our readers “get it.” After all, we usually include a Gospel message, and it’s important for people to understand. But at the same time, I don’t necessarily enjoy being told the point of a story and I like giving my readers something to think about.

And you know…isn’t that what God quite often does when He’s guiding us? 

He gave us the Bible to guide us (as well as His Spirit), but it’s not a book of cut-and-dried rules covering every possible situation. He gave us lots of stories, of real people and parables, that we need to study and draw conclusions from, then apply the principles to our lives. And when we pray for guidance, we still sometimes have to do a lot of thinking and interpreting to make sure we understand His answer.

Here’s an example that happened to me recently. I was at my mom’s church, and I was already feeling a little tired by everything I had to do to get ready for Jordan’s Shadow’s release. I started wondering for about the millionth time whether being a writer is just a selfish desire of mine that I’m wheedling God to bless—or it’s a ministry He wants me to do. It’s an important distinction. If it’s for Him, I need to keep on even when it’s exhausting and tough. If it’s just a whim, is it the best use of my time and money and energy?

During one of the prayers in that church service, I prayed for God to speak to me and give me an answer to this question—my whim, or His calling?

Almost immediately, I felt an urge to look at the verse of the day on Bible Gateway. I’ve often felt God speaking to my heart through the verses they pick. But it’s an app on my phone and I hated to whip my phone out in the church service. Instead I picked up the pew Bible and opened it, and when I looked down I read Jesus’s words in Mark 12:30-31, “’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.”

Very important thought. But that obviously had nothing to do with my writing. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I whipped out my phone and looked at the verse of the day from Bible Gateway. And would you believe, there I was, looking at the original verse from Deuteronomy 6 that Jesus had been quoting from: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” 

I was starting to get a little tingle along my spine. I’ve often noticed when I’m praying for guidance, God will send me the same Bible verse or story over and over in a short period of time, from all different directions. Still…it didn’t seem to be a very clear answer to my writing question. I prayed again—that if this verse was a message from Him, the pastor would also mention it in his sermon. 

Yep. You guessed it…the preacher quoted it.

I prayed. God answered me. But God is not like a Ouija board, where you ask a question and He pushes your hands around to spell out yes or no. He asks us to think, analyze, apply.

Last Friday was release day for Jordan’s Shadow. I had planned to do marketing for it all day long, because I was off from work. But then people started wanting things from me, drat them. My husband wanted to spend the evening with me, can you believe it? A non-Christian friend that I’ve prayed for many years needed my help with something. I felt myself getting stressed and then I remembered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.”

A light bulb seemed to go off. There isn’t one huge yes or no answer to whether I should write or do other things for God. At every moment of every day I have to make decisions about how best to serve Him. That Friday afternoon and evening, serving Him and loving my neighbor meant putting aside my writing and marketing pursuits and concentrating on people I love.

For a few hours earlier that day, I believe serving Him meant getting that book released. I hope it will touch lives for Him—and might also help readers learn to think and analyze and apply a story, or a verse, to their own questions.

                               
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Robin Johns Grant published her first novel, Summer’s Winter, in 2014, and her second suspense novel, Jordan’s Shadow, has just been released. Summer's Winter won a bronze medal in the Romance - Suspense category of the International Readers' Favorite Book Awards, and Robin was named 2014 Author of the Year by the Georgia Association of College Stores.
Family and friends are happy that Robin’s imagination is finally paying off. She’s always had way too much of it. She started making up stories before she could write them down (dictating them to her mother) and always had her head in the clouds. She was obsessed with books and movies like Harry Potter and Star Wars and did a lot of crazy fan stuff, which helped her dream up Jeanine and Jamie’s story for Summer's Winter. It’s a romantic suspense novel, but as John Granger (author of The Deathly Hallows Lectures) said, it’s also “a romance-thriller about fandoms…and explores the important intersection of literature, spirituality, and imagination.” 

As a Christian, Robin can’t help but explore spirituality in her writing, but wants to do so in a way that reflects the awe and wonder of God and eternity.
With a degree in English, several non-fulfilling jobs under her belt, and a mid-life crisis coming on, Robin returned to school and earned a master's degree in library and information science. She now has her best day job ever as a college librarian, which keeps her young by allowing her to hang out with students.

With her wonderful husband Dave and formerly feral felines Mini Pearl and Luna, Robin lives in Georgia.  She is also surprised to find herself part owner of a pit bull named Pete, who showed up as a starving stray puppy at her mother's house.

Keep up with Robin at these sites:
Amazon (read about and purchase her books): http://amazon.com/author/robinjohnsgrant
Website and blog:  http://robinjohnsgrant.com


See below for a sneak-peek at Robin's new book:
Jordan’s Shadow

Robin Johns Grant

The Crosby family has a frightening problem. Is it psychological? Supernatural? Or something entirely unexpected?

In 1984, seventeen-year-old Rose and her fiancé discover an injured girl with no memory. The girl, Jordan, is in Rose’s life for a brief time but leaves her world shattered.

Twenty-five years later, Rose Crosby’s daughter Ginny can’t understand why her relationship with her mother has fallen apart. Ginny could swear that Rose is terrified of her lately. 

Then one awful day, Ginny overhears Rose confessing that she truly is terrified of Ginny—because to her, every day Ginny grows more and more and more like Jordan, the girl who's been dead many years. In fact, she swears that somehow, Ginny is turning into Jordan.

Is Ginny’s mom insane? Is there a ghost in their house, threatening to possess Ginny? Or is the demon in Rose's past, forcing her to confront what happened on that horrible day in 1984 when Jordan was killed?

As a new girl in a small town, Ginny doesn’t have much of a support system. Her old girlfriends from Atlanta have drifted away, and the only friends she’s made are, strangely enough, guys. Alec Matthews is gorgeous, but is he really interested in Ginny’s well-being? And then there’s Max Ferguson, the recently-born-again science nerd. He’s definitely on Ginny’s side, but is he a little too strange?

Strengthened by a deepening relationship with one of these two, Ginny undertakes a mind-bending journey of discovery—discovery about faith, eternity, and love beyond the boundaries of space and time. She will put to rest a mystery that has haunted her family for two generations—if she can survive.


Enter to win a free copy here!  

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post, thanks for sharing. You have captured my interest. I will be checking out your website (and your books).
Best wishes, Donna Bolk

Robin Johns Grant said...

Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Robin! Hope your readers enjoy.

Robin Johns Grant said...

Thanks, Donna! Hope you enjoy!