Reflections In Hindsight

Grace in the Rearview Mirror…it's closer than it appears

  • Ephesians 4:29

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)

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  • RSS April’s Blog: A Writer’s Journey

    • Celebrating the Church Year
      by guest author, Jessica SnellThe Lord is always with us. We are never out of His presence, never hidden from His eyes.But it’s hard for us to remember that.Where He is omniscient, and never sleeps, never slumbers, we are distracted and busy and fallible. Though He is always mindful of us, it is hard for us to keep our thoughts constantly turned towards Him. […]
      noreply@blogger.com (April Gardner)
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    • Featuring Critical Condition by Richard L. Mabry (Doc)
      Back Cover Blurb:It was supposed to be a quiet dinner party with her colleagues. Not the scene of a murder.But the murder of a stranger on her front lawn is only the first in a string of events that have Dr. Shannon Frasier’s life teetering on the edge of chaos: She’s unable to make the deeper commitment her boyfriend deserves. Her sister shows up at Shannon […]
    • An Interview With Texas Author Richard L. Mabry
      Welcome Doc Mabry, we are so thrilled to have you here with us today. I hope you don't mind that I used a photo of your book signing with a different book. I felt our readers need to know you have published many books.And now we want to know more about your novel Critical Condition. What can you tell us about the story behind this book? Most of my books […]
    • Interviewing Christian Author V.B. Tenery
      Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Virginia. We are glad to have you here with us today.Question: Is there a story behind your book Works of Darkness?I wanted this story to show the consequences of not taking responsibility for ones actions, and the consequence of failing to do so. Question: What started you on your writing journey? I’ve always been an avid […]
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    • March New Releases Clash
      While we tally the scores for the 2014 Olympia, Clash of the Titles's annual contest for pre-published writers, have a look at these spectacular new releases, hand-picked just for you. After you've chosen your favorite, let us know which it is by casting your vote in the survey box below.We wish our contestants all the best!Mandy will risk everythi […]
    • Permanent Resident at the Purse Table, a COTT Feature
      “Keisha’s debut novel is a sweet reminder of the redeeming power of love, along with a dose of drama between good friends! Her characters are so relatable because they’re imperfect people who’ve made some serious mistakes—just like the rest of us!”-Michelle Stimpson,nNational Bestselling AuthorAbout the book:If you’re size six, you dance. If you’re Ava Alexa […]
    • Escape to Ireland in "Londonderry Dreaming"
       "If you need one of those “Ahh…” moments, consider taking a trip with Keith and Naomi and read Londonderry Dreaming"--Sandy Ardoin, Romance Author and BloggerAbout Londonderry Dreaming:Acclaimed New York artist, Naomi Boyd, and music therapist, Keith Wilson, loved one another five years ago, until her grandfather with his influence over Naomi sepa […]
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    • Spring's Tease
      April is here. It's supposed to be spring. Well, it was supposed to be spring in March but not much has been in evidence. We've endured a tough COLD winter. Now the weather is supposed to warm. Crocus, tulips, daffodils and such are to be poking their heads out of the ground. For every one springlike day we have been getting four to five cold winte […]
    • Seeing The Life - Chapters 1-2
      I'm working fast and furious on my next book, Seeing The Life. My goal is to have it finished by the 15th and the release date is June 7. I truly feel God's hand in this work more than any other. The life of Jesus is well known and studied by, hopefully, all Christians. It places a huge burden on me to make sure things are correct not only in his l […]
    • Help!! I'm Being Buried 
      I've done it again. My email inboxes are overflowing. In my personal email there are 658 emails with 441 unread. In my Soph [...]
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    • Book Review: For Such a Time by Kate Breslin
      For Such a TimeBy Kate BreslinBethany HouseApril 1, 2014ISBN: 978-0764211607Print $14.99E-book $9.99Publication Date: April 1, 2014 Buy the Book:Barnes and NobleAmazonSee  my interview with the Author HERE for more about this special book.From the publisher:Powerful Retelling of the Story of EstherIn 1944, blond and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels a […]
    • Fun new cozy by Susan Bernhardt
      The Ginseng ConspiracyBy Susan BernhardtEbook 5.95MuseItUp PublishingJanuary 2014  Amazon Barnes and Noble MuseItUp About the Book:On her way to attend a Halloween Ball, Kay Driscoll, a newcomer to town, witnesses the murder of a local professor. When the official coroner's report rules the cause of death to be accidental and the community accepts the j […]
    • Women's Expo starts next week April 17!
      Thursday, April 17, 2014, time 1-4 PM CT location www.BibleStudyExpo.comHere's a taste of what you can expect:1 PM CT - Lisa Bevere starts off our Expo with the story behind her book Girls with Swords: How to Carry Your Cross Like a Hero  1:15 CT - Dr. Jackie Roese will share the story behind Inhabit: A Study on the Holy Spirit. 1:30 CT - Kathy Howard w […]
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    • BOOK REVIEW: GOING ONCE BY SHARON SALA
      Nola Landry barely survives a flood in her small Louisiana town by clinging to a tree on higher ground. While hidden in its branches, she witnesses the brutal killing of three neighbors who are shot by a man in uniform in a boat. After being rescued, and losing her home, she is rescued by three FBI agents who have come to town to track a serial killer nickna […]
    • Book Release and Author Spotlight: Paula Mowrey, Legacy & Love
      Today I am featuring author Paula Mowery who has just released her first solo fiction book, Legacy and Love.Paula  is a published author, acquisitions editor, and speaker. Her first two published works were The Blessing Seer and Be The Blessing from Pelican Book Group. Both are women’s fiction, and their themes have been the topics of speaking engagements. I […]
    • Book Review: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
      Every now and then a book comes along that will stick with you for the rest of your life. For me Unbrokenis one of them. The story is based on a true story about the life of Louis Zamperini.  Zamperini, the son poor Italian immigrants, grew up in California and was a wild child on the path to serious delinquency when his older brother Pete finally managed to […]
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    Thank you for your encouragement and support for the past three years. We've had fun connecting with you and hope you've found useful material here on Reflections. And here's the but... Reflections In Hindsight is closing on December 21, 2012. Elaine and Sophie and I can be found over at http://authorculture.blogspot.com; April can be found at Clash of the Titles, http://www.clashofthetitles, http://www.aprilgardner.com and watch for news for more novels from her!; Janet is ever-present on the Internet with her very special words of wisdom and grace at http://www.janetperezeckles.com, and Luther--who knows where he'll show up next, but I'd watch my back if I were you... Book Reviews are always important, so I, Lisa, will continue to offer them through my blog, as well as those promotions for your new books or book launches, or your news.
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Archive for September, 2010

Post-ACFW Results

Posted by Ben Erlichman on September 30, 2010

It’s been two weeks since my father and I left for the ACFW conference in Indianapolis. We’ve since returned to the grinding cogs of everyday life, yet now more excited about my writing career than ever before. That’s because some good things–some GREAT things happened at the conference.

Our flight to Indy got canceled an hour before take-off. The airline provided us with alternate transportation to Indy via a limousine bus service. We spent the next 6 hours riding to Indy–not exactly what I had in mind.

But we made it. In our hotel room, I checked my email. My inbox showed a message from my agent, Les Stobbe. He’d forwarded a reply from a publisher we’d contacted, one with whom I would have LOVED to work. The message was a rejection of my proposal for The Dreamer.

Fortunately, I knew the pub rep who sent the email would be at the conference. I intended to talk to this person about it when I had the chance.

At the conference, I managed to intersect with some key people, including the rep from the publisher who’d just rejected my work, who explained why my book didn’t fit what they were looking for. His concerns were not unreasonable (and neither was he). At the end of our conversation, he did offer to stay in touch and welcomed future submissions from me. That was nice.

Remember my last post, how I said I had three goals for the conference? Part of the reason I said the conference went GREAT was because I fulfilled all three of those goals and THEN some. Here they are again:

Goal #1: I want to convince at least one publisher to request a proposal for my first novel, a compelling action/adventure story.
Goal #2: I want to kindle a growing interest in my second novel, a historical action/adventure Western, among editors.
Goal #3: I want to kindle a growing interest in me as an up-and-coming author, specifically by reigniting connections from last year’s conference.

I accomplished all of those things, praise the Lord. The end results were as follows:

- I was asked to submit proposals to Guideposts, WaterBrook-Multnomah, Marcher Lord Press, and B&H Fiction for The Dreamer (which more than met Goal #1).

- I was asked to submit proposals to WaterBrook-Multnomah and B&H Fiction for Unlucky, my western novel (which more than met Goal #2).

- I reinforced relationships with published authors, literary agents, and editors who I met at last year’s conference in Denver, and I also made valuable new connections and friendships (which, in conjunction with meeting with the pub rep who rejected the work but still wants to stay in touch, meets Goal #3).

There’s a lot more to talk about, but I also learned that I should try to keep my blog posts to a certain word count, so for the time being, let me end with an encouragement to you.

You can do whatever you want with your life. If you have the drive, then you have the capacity. And if it just so happens that God also wants it for you, then you’re really set because He’ll handle all the God-sized work. I’m just a nobody from Mequon, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, but now I’m at the start of an adventure I’d never imagined I would take until just two years ago.

I believe it’s because God has a plan and a purpose for my life. I believe I’m walking His path (or at least trying to), and as a result, doors are starting to open with my writing career. It’s truly a miracle. God can do the same thing for you. I’ll close with this, something I tell lots of people.

Figure out what you love to do, then find a way to use it for God’s Kingdom.

God will give the increase.

-Ben

Posted in Encouragment, Life Experiences, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

A Peace Such As This

Posted by April W Gardner on September 29, 2010

Article 2 of The Imprint of a Woman’s Friendship

by Catherine Terry

When was the last time that you stood in the presence of the Lord? Quite some time ago, yet as vivid as though it was yesterday, a five minute encounter left its imprint on my life.

Eight of us that summer chose to hike the Resurrection Pass Trail which slices through the Kenai Mountains near Anchorage, Alaska. This 38-mile-long path wanders through some truly stunning wilderness.  We took the trail in the 1980’s, when modern conveniences hadn’t touched the area quite as much as they have these days. Three families comprised our little group.

Packed for five days, none of us were exempt except for the youngest from having to carry a backpack and supplies. Tiffany, our black lab mix carried her load. The men forged ahead while the women and children tracked behind. We had known one other from church so it was quite a pleasant time for us to visit and catch up on life.

The scenery was lovely; several bridges, rippling creeks, and an old mining cabin dotted the landscape. Smoky hot dogs and beans never tasted so good. The gentle breeze teased our sun baked skin while we adjusted to carrying our packs mostly uphill.

Toward the end of day four I confess that our little group had begun to feel the weight each carried. Thoughts of a comfortable bed and a hot dinner drifted through my mind. Yet we hiked on. I think that we covered about 8 miles that day.

By the time we reached the van which would return our families to civilization, fatigue weighed each of us down. Yet we were content. We trekked one of Alaska’s most beautiful areas and further developed our friendship in the process.

Back down the road, we stopped at a small town and were overjoyed to discover an ice cream shop! Dusty and tired, we entered. A short line of customers led to the counter. Our three families fell in. Exhausted as we were, silence remained while we waited our turn.

Then the door opened, and a group of teenagers entered. Their volume only overshadowed their energy. I realized, then, that our little group had actually reached the counter, with one of our men in front. He was about to order when two of the teenage girls pushed past him and placed their order. I couldn’t believe it when Mike, instead of telling them off, stepped calmly back.  He waited while the girls were served. Glancing at him, I was surprised to find that we wore a calm expression. When the girls left, he stepped toward the counter and placed his order.

Twenty-some years have passed since we took Resurrection Pass Trail. Sadly, as often happens, we have lost touch with one another. Yet I’ll always remember Mike’s gentle peace. I believe that the Lord was standing beside us that day.

www.athomewithchristianfiction.net



Posted in Encouragment, Happiness, Life Experiences | 1 Comment »

Another step along the path

Posted by Lisa Lickel on September 28, 2010

I made up a list of career goals – things barely more than pipe dreams, a list that I felt would make me “feel” like a professional writer. If you’re familiar with The Velveteen Rabbit, I have to tell you, it’s a similar feel to becoming “real.” 

I accomplished two of them this year, the sixth year that I’ve been writing for pay.

In no particular order, the goals are:

* Be asked to write something for publication

* Be quoted by someone in a public forum

* Be asked to endorse another author

* Get a five-star review in a mainline site by someone who doesn’t know me

* Write something that could be reviewed in Publisher’s Weekly

 

You’ll notice “get published” isn’t on there. I already am. I already was published before I stepped on the writing career path.

Secret? Getting published isn’t a real goal–getting read is the goal.

So – what were the accomplishments checked off this year? Cathy Bryant asked me to endorse her book Texas Roads, something I was pleased and proud to do. Sure, she self-published through Amazon, but she did so many things right on the way to getting her book published that I’m still learning from her. You want a huge lesson in marketing? Check out http://www.catbryant.com It’ll make your head spin.  CHECK – someone asked me to endorse. Yippee! I’m a real author.

Secondly, Rowena Kuo floored me when she asked if I’d consider writing a short story for Written World Communications, specifically for Harpstring Magazine, where I’d sent a manuscript for a novel that she was considering for publication when the new company presses were up and running. It may not have been a big deal to her, but it was to me. My first instinct went something like – whoa, I don’t know. I haven’t written a short story since…well…geepers, since I, like, started writing (all of – what was it, now, five years ago?). What a baby. The least I could was try. The Yoda philosophy had been lost – the “try not–do, or do not” thinking had been spread too thin. But I managed to rake up enough of it to make up a story based on an experience I had helping out my son at an Intervarsity conference a year ago. I killed him off in the tale. I’m not sure if that made me feel better or not. He invited me back to the same conference this year, so I guess it didn’t bother him too much. Anyway–Ms. Kuo liked the end result enough to buy it. The magazine just came out last weekend, while I was teaching a small workshop in West Bend on “How to Tell Your Story to the Next Generation” and attending the Wisconsin Regional Writers Association fall conference as the new editor of Creative Wisconsin Magazine and ignoring messages from Jen about making Clash of the Titles get off to a very cool and inspiring start next month. Harpstring can be found here: and it looks pretty good. I’m on page 9. The magazine is on sale right now. CHECK – someone asked me to write something. Yippee! I’m even more of a real author. And yes, the process is a bit painful, and some of my fur is rubbing thin. That’s okay.

I’ve been in a funk this year. Some of it I realize was because I hadn’t taken the right kind of time to appreciate some things that were happening to me medical-wise: the “know your own body” type of stuff. I’m learning. Fall is my time of retrospection, of introspection. I hope all of you take some time regularly to check in on life – how are you doing? Have you set and accomplished any goals of your own? I’d love to hear about them.

Posted in Authors, Encouragment, Happiness, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Working from home, Writing | 2 Comments »

Shannon Vannatter – God’s Perfect Timing

Posted by Lisa Lickel on September 27, 2010

Welcome Shannon Taylor Vannatter who shares about her publication journey and a blurb from her new release. Watch for White Roses in stores November, from Heartsong Presents.

WHITE ROSES – heartsongpresents.com May 2010/Stores Nov 2010
WHITE DOVES – heartsongpresents.com Oct 2010/Stores Apr 2010
WHITE PEARLS – heartsongpresents.com Jan 2011/Stores July 2011

God’s Perfect Timing

Who made up the rule that kids should know what they want to be in life, when they graduate from high school? At the tender age of seventeen, I’d decided to enroll in vocational technical school and take computer classes. But then, a visit to the hairdresser with my best friend changed my course. Hey, that looked like fun.

The first few months of costmetology college fascinated me. Soon reality set in. I thought fixing hair would be glamorous. Instead, it was hard work, which led to sore feet and hair in my teeth. By then, the course was half-finished. Quit and waste five months of my parents’ hard earned money? I stuck it out and worked in three different shops, including my own, during the course of the next ten years.

Craving something different, I applied at a bank, got the job, and hung up my scissors. At first, it seemed like the perfect job. But as more responsibility was handed over to me, stress multiplied. I applied as a receptionist at a large company and got the job, which was wonderfully stress-free, but oh so boring. Thankfully, this company had oodles of office jobs and when each one came open, a notice went up on the bulletin board. Over the next seven years, I transferred from office to office, mostly doing data entry.

During this time, that story that had been in my head for fifteen years really wanted to come out and I’d finally realized it could be a book. My father-in-law gave me his old computer, and three months later, I began submitting my completed novel to publishers. The rejections poured in, but I wrote another book, and another. I absolutely loved writing. Finally, at thirty-three I figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up.

But I still had a day job. My last job was in Accounts Receivable, entering checks into the system before they went to the bank. I had my own office and didn’t have to deal with customers. Just me and my computer. Though daily account balancing was stressful, I loved the job. To top things off, a publisher wanted my third book. It was a Print on Demand company, which I didn’t understand at the time.

About this time, my husband answered the call to preach. After I picked my jaw up off the floor and told God how unworthy I was to be a pastor’s wife, I supported him and he was ordained. Churches began calling him to fill in for their pastor or in between pastors.

After sixteen and a half years of marriage, I got pregnant. It wasn’t a total surprise, but it happened about the time we’d given up. Immediately, I was exhausted and it never let up throughout the entire pregnancy. I had two book-signings and was too tired to do much else, other than work. Pre-eclampsia swelled my ankles to the size of a Sumo wrestlers’ by my fourth month. By then, I’d learned that POD means overpriced books that don’t end up in stores and don’t sell.

By my seventh month, I was on bed-rest. During that time, I got my first request for a full manuscript from a major publisher. I lay on the couch on my left side to keep my blood pressure down, and my feet above my heart to keep the swelling down. From this pretzel position, I edited my manuscript with my red pen, until my arms went numb from carpal tunnel syndrome because of all the swelling.

I finished the manuscript and sent it off, had a healthy son, and went back to work. I never wanted to go back to work. I’d always planned to be a stay-at-home mom like my mother had been. But we’d always been a two income home and there wasn’t any wiggle room to do anything else. About that time, my husband got an offer from a church. His pay would almost replace my income. I gave my notice.

I loved being a stay-at-home mom. For all of our son’s firsts, I was there. The rejection came in on my full manuscript, but I kept writing during nap time. Time flew. My son went to preschool three days a week for social skills and suddenly, I had all day to write. By kindergarten, I had all week to write.

Nine years of submitting, three writers’ groups, dozens of conferences, and eleven books later, I’m finally published by a traditional publisher, where the books actually end up in stores. During the school year, I spend weekdays writing. When school is out, my computer goes off and I’m mom. During the summer, I’m pretty much just mom and I get my writing done at night after my son goes to bed. And all the time, I’m the preacher’s wife.

I’m on the brink of having my first book in stores in November. Looking back, it seems like a winding, disjointed path. But being a hairdresser, a loan clerk, a receptionist, and a data entry clerk has given me much fodder for my books. Marrying a man who morphed into a preacher, deciding late in life to have a baby and then things happening slowly in that area has brought me to where I am now and made me the writer that I am. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing. God had it sorted and His timing is always perfect.

Amen! And here’s a blurb from White Roses, Shannon’s first novel:

Pastor Grayson Sterling loves his wife. The problem is, Sara was killed by a hit-and-run driver two years ago. Grayson knows he needs to move on, that the continuing depth of his grief is not healthy for him or his young son. Desperate, he convinces his church to hire Mark Welch as associate pastor to relieve him of some of his load. When Adrea Welch arrives at his church with her brother, Grayson cannot deny his attraction to her.

 For years, florist Adrea Welch has been artfully arranging white roses for Sara Sterling. Now those flowers are carried to the cemetery by a faithful, grieving husband. How can Adrea be so attracted to a man still devoted to his dead wife? When secrets from Adrea’s past collide with their budding relationship, both she and Grayson must learn to lean on

God’s abiding wisdom.

Find Shannon:

http://www.shannonvannatter.com

http://www.shannonvannatter.com/blog

http://www.inkspirationalmessages.com

Posted in Authors, Encouragment, Happiness, Life Experiences, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Working from home, Writing | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Monkfish and Marriage–the Two Go Hand-in-Hand

Posted by Jennifer Slattery on September 24, 2010

“Oh, darling…dinner’s ready.”

Giggle, snicker, hehehehehehe.

In walks hubby, drawn to the kitchen by the alluring smell of buttery onions and roasted garlic only to find a monstrous, eye-bulging, teeth showing creature staring up at him from the center of the table. And here I am, rolling on the floor, laughing out loud, watching his jaw drop. My daughter? She’s not amused:

“Mom! That’s not funny! I’m making chicken nuggets.”

You gotta love those teens and tweens. They tell it like it is. No beating around the bush, no tiptoeing on egg shells afraid they’ll hurt your feelings. If it enters their head, it spills out of their mouth.

Last year our daughter came home from school and told my husband and I that we had placed second in a very prestigious contest. According to the seventh grade class at Northland Christian, we were voted the second weirdest parents. Now, I don’t know if this was for the entire school or just for that grade, but it didn’t matter. And this is an honor we didn’t take lightly. In fact, I created a dance and song to celebrate and offered to record it for Youtube. Unfortunately my daughter didn’t see the value in that and begged me not to do it. Oh, my poor, frequently mortified child who must coach her parents on how not to behave in restaurants before we leave the car:

“Now Dad, please don’t introduce everyone at our table to the wait staff. And please don’t tell her the comb-over joke. It’s really not funny.”

Seriously? Not funny? Oh, that’s my favorite one. Although the telling can be quite time consuming. You’d have to know the whole background joke to truly get it, but think high school basketball coach with a foot long comb-over greased across his shiny bald head, flapping in the wind as he demonstrates a perfectly executed lay-up. Now think of a balding lawn with overgrown patches. Yep, time for a lawn-comb over. Okay, so maybe its a private joke. That’s what we always say when people aren’t laughing, right? But stay with me here.

So what does Monkfish, comb-overs, and ROFLOL moments have to do with marriage? Laughter is the medicine, my friend. The igniting spark, the cementing glue, the vein-bulging, drool producing, cough-ensuing catalyst that will bond you and your husband’s heart for life. (If you don’t get the whole vein-bulging, drool producing, cough-ensuing reference, you’ve never seen my second laugh. You know the one. Where you’re rocking back and forth, mouth gaping, laughing so hard you begin to choke on your own spit. Although the second laugh is nothing like the third laugh. At least that’s what I’ve been told.)

According to Elizabeth George, author of A Woman After God’s Own Heart, the woman “sets the mood and maintains the atmosphere in the home.” (p. 134) Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Wow, is that true! If I’m a sour pickle, it isn’t long before gloom and doom settles around our house. But if I pick up a wooden spoon and an old coffee can and do the tango in the middle of the kitchen—oops, forgot about those windows, and my neighbor mowing his lawn. Well, he used to be mowing, now he’s watching that crazy Slattery lady do a John Travolta-Cindy Lauper-Pee Wee Hermon dance in the middle of her kitchen. Think he’d like to join me?—it isn’t long before we’re all laughing.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you should skirt over issues and sweep everything under the rug. What I’m saying is make your house a home. Make it a place of joy. Don’t be afraid to be silly. You’re your husband’s teammate. Be his friend, too. Add a splash of jalepeno-infused vinegar into your relationship and watch your husband’s eyes light up as his worries of work dissolve beneath a fit of giggles.

Don’t know how? Get a book. Seriously. There’s nothing wrong with seeking out a good, clean joke once in awhile. And ask God to help you. Even better, spend a few minutes at your Savior’s feet. What? You thought God was a staunch-nosed galactic kill joy? Then you’ve never watched an eighty-pound German Shepherd chase his tail or a baby devour his toes. God is the God of joy and He wants to share that joy with you.

Rent a funny movie. Plan a silly night out. Buy a giant Monkfish and serve it to your hubby on a silver platter. You can get it at the Kansas City HyVee grocery store. They’ll hook you up. Word of advice…might want to have a nice juicy steak waiting in the wings.

Most important: keep it fun. Life is serious enough. Your spouse doesn’t need another business partner. He needs a heart-lifter. He needs a friend.

Posted in Till death do we part | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Am I High-Maintanence? Are You?

Posted by April W Gardner on September 22, 2010

I recently read a blurb about a woman who was shocked to realize that her husband found her to be high-maintenance. He pointed out that their shower was lined with, soaps, scrubs, high priced shampoos and conditioners, luffas, and bath salts—all in a variety of scents. Hands and feet always professionally manicured, she never missed an appointment to touch up her acrylic nails. Only the best hairdressers trimmed and colored her hair, and never, never did she go a day without washing and styling.

“Accessories make the outfit,” she always said, and her overflowing jewelry box, shoe rack, and purse shelf proved it. Her closet was trimmed with only the latest in fashion, and the highlight of her week was a full body massage with hot stone therapy.

It was a humorous account and maybe a little extreme, but it really got me to thinking about myself and whether or not I’m high-maintenance. Hmm…I don’t know. What about you? We can probably all relate with this woman to some degree. I know I can, but the question here is—is it wrong? Is it wrong to want to look your very best and to put time and money into doing it? What if we just want to be comfortable and don’t care about fashion? Does that in any way cast us, as Christians, in a bad light?

Do you feel guilty every time you spend money on yourself, because there are others in the world that live in poverty? Or because there are a dozen other things your own family needs more than you “need” those cute earrings? Is it a good old-fashioned God-induced conscience pricking or an overactive guilt trigger?

Maybe you don’t give a second’s thought to starving babies in other countries. You simply stack your new cosmetics on your vanity, hit play on your cd changer to add a little ambience, and huff in dissatisfaction because you forgot to buy berry colored lip-liner—mauve simply won’t go with your outfit today. Drat life’s inconveniences!

The other extreme, can be just as shocking. Picture Betty from the television series, Ugly Betty. If you’re like Betty, your motto is “comfort over fashion” and the more broken-in those sweats, the better. You’ll hang onto a pair of out-dated, scuffed-up shoes for years, because why in the name of common sense would you spend $50 on a new pair when these still have countless miles left in them?

I’ve come to realize that both extremes are an indication of an unhealthy perspective on how God sees me. I seem to find a trend in where I am spiritually compared to where I think I need to be physically—on the exterior. Do you think that if we were truly at peace with how God made us (in every sense of the word), we wouldn’t feel the need to primp and fuss over our shells? And what of remembering who we represent? If you’re a child of God, you’re part of the body of Christ. Every aspect of our lives should reflect Him, including our shoes.

So, where do you fall on the graph? Yes, we certainly need to “add a little paint to the old barn” as the saying goes, but to what extreme should we take it? I think you already know. Everything in moderation, right? Yep, including this. “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” (1Cor. 10:23) That being said, every woman’s “moderation” is different from the next. So pray about where God would have you make changes.

We all could use a little work in this area, whether you’re a hater or lover of all things cosmetic. As always, balance is key. Can you imagine where we would be in our Christian walk if we put as much time on the inside as we did on the outside? Just a thought.

~April W Gardner

www.aprilgardner.com

Posted in Encouragment, Happiness | 1 Comment »

Promotion Monday – John 3:16 Marketing

Posted by Lisa Lickel on September 20, 2010

It’s my joy to introduce Lorilyn Roberts, a lovely gal with a big dream – one we can all participate in! 

Lorilyn:

The John 3:16 Marketing Network is designed for Christian authors to get more exposure for their book launches. It is an exciting time to publish a new book. I have published two, and there is nothing more rewarding than to “see” our brand-new book in print, whether it’s the first time, the second, or the fifth. When we go to Amazon, Barnes, & Noble, and other book sites, we want to see our rankings validate the long hours we’ve put into writing our book.

As difficult and challenging as the writing process, marketing is even harder. The John 3:16 Network does exactly as the name implies:  It networks Christian authors so they can promote each others’ book launches on social networking sites, via email, and any other means possible.

(I can think of any number of possibilities-how about an ap for iphones for new books).

To motivate people to buy on the launch date, usually a 24-hour period, we encourage authors to provide a landing page where upon purchasing a book from the designated website, the buyer can receive free e-gifts. The gifts can be e-books, audio books, webcasts, podcasts, articles-anything that has value and that a person would want to receive and probably would not be able to receive “free” in any other way.

My hope is to encourage all Christian authors, whether published traditionally, POD. or self-published, to help one another through announcing upcoming books on launch dates. The volume of books bought at one time drives up sales rankings. These rankings get posted in categories and subcategories on websites, increasing exposure of the book. I hope someday to see many Christian books on the best-seller lists for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the New York Times.

The John 3:16 Marketing Network is free to anyone who joins. The only requirements are you believe in John 3:16 and have a website or blog. For more information, visit http://www.lorilynroberts.com/john_3_16_marketing_network.html. Please check us out and spread the word. We are now on Facebook, have a blog, private forum, and Youtube channel. The more writers who are involved, the more impact we can have on the world with Christian literature.

I have also found since I started the John 3:16 Marketing Network, I have “met” many wonderful Christian authors whom I would not have known otherwise, and those friendships and relationships are priceless. You never know who will end up where down the road, and if love is the motivating factor, I believe we can become a dynamic force and new model for Christian publishing.

Lorilyn Roberts, Author

Children of Dreams
The Donkey and the King
 
To connect with Lorilyn by phone, please send her a message.
“writing to inspire”
 
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Posted in Authors, Book Reviews, Encouragment, Living Our Faith Out Loud, Writing | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Time For an “Atta-Boy”

Posted by Jennifer Slattery on September 17, 2010

This column has blessed my marriage. Not only does it remind to me to keep on keeping on in an active pursuit of marital intimacy; it helps me express my appreciation to my husband. It also is a continual reminder of how powerful words can be. If spoken in love and tenderness, our words are soothing balms to our spouses’ weary hearts, creating a sanctuary of retreat. If spoken casually or flippantly, they have the power to maim and destroy.

Have you ever noticed how readily we cling to the negative, no matter how irrational it is? Things spoken to me during my elementary years have stuck with me through out countless successes and accolades, tearing at the walls of my heart. Think of your own life and those evasive lies you’ve allowed to wiggle their way in. Countless people can tell you again and again how smart, or pretty, or resourceful you are, and yet you’ll cling to that one statement hurled in the heat of the moment to the contrary. Which is why it’s so important to guard our words, because once spoken, they penetrate deep and can never be returned.

I’ve always struggled with my tongue. Mainly because I’m impulsive. Often, I speak the first thing that comes to mind without taking the time to sift my words through my listener’s ears. And yet, those much needed words, like, “Good job,” and “Thank you,” seem to linger on my tongue like rubber cement. The other day after reading one of my articles, my husband told me how much he enjoyed it. (It was largely about him and the effect his behaviors have had on our daughter.) When I asked him why, he said, “It’s good to know that maybe I’m doing something right.” His response surprised me. He does so many awesome things and is such a great family leader. Couldn’t he tell we adored and admired him? And yet, at the same time, I understood the insecurities and fears beneath his response. We all have inner demons, fears of failure, insecurities. We all need to hear an “atta-boy” once in a while. More often than not, actually. I’ve heard that it takes about five positive comments to counter one negative. Now, think of all the negative comments your spouse might hear in a given day, then multiply that by five. Kind of tips the scales a bit, doesn’t it?

Sometimes I forget how fragile the human heart is. Thought processes influence our self-concept and words spoken influence thought processes. According to social scientists Dr. Gangel and Dr. Canine, our self-concept is created, developed, and maintained through communication and interaction with others. (Dr. Gangel, Dr. Canine. 1992) Marriage is a life-time of close, consistent interaction—interaction that has the power to build up or tear down.

Ephesians 4:29 urges us: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only that which is helpful for building others up, that it may benefit those who listen.”

How many words would be left unspoken if I truly lived this verse out? How many wounds avoided? 

 Dr. Gangel, Dr. Canine. Communication and Conflict Management. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers; 1992. p. 66

Posted in Till death do we part | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Teetering on the Edge

Posted by Ben Erlichman on September 16, 2010

Within 18 hours from the time I post this, I’ll be in Indianapolis. 12 hours after that, I’ll be at the downtown Indy Hyatt for the 2010 ACFW Conference Early Bird Session with James Scott Bell. As soon as six hours after that, I could be meeting editors and others from publishing companies who may be interested in my book. Time is running out, and I feel like I’ve got more to do before I’m ready to take that great leap into conference mode.

I’m pitching two books this time around, one more than last year. I’m not sure if that will actually help me get published sooner or not, but they’re very different, so I should be able to reach a broader range of editors than last year. Plus, I learned a lot at last year’s conference, specifically about what editors do and don’t want to hear.

My plan is to convince one editor to request a submission from my agent at the conference. Then I can leverage that tidbit of information to get other editors interested and also request submissions. I probably don’t have to explain the psychology behind that, but I will, briefly.

Basically, if Editor B hears that Editor A (who is from a competing publishing house) has requested my manuscript, the news sort of lights a tiny fire under Editor B’s rear-end and makes them slightly more inclined to ask for mine. That way, the sooner Editor B gets it, the sooner he/she can determine if he/she wants to offer me a contract before Editor A has a chance to.

In other words, I want to try to create a buzz. I kind of succeeded in doing that last year, and I guess the end result was that I ended up signing with a literary agent, Les Stobbe. I didn’t have a definitive goal last year aside from getting an agent (which was more than I thought I’d achieve). This year, it’s different. This year, I have three goals.

Goal #1: I want to convince at least one publisher to request a proposal (or more) for my first novel, a compelling action/adventure story.
Goal #2: I want to kindle a growing interest in my second novel, a historical action/adventure Western, among editors. I’m not expecting any submission requests, but I’m still hopeful, as I have at least 1/5 of the book done, I’ve proven I can finish a manuscript (via my first novel), and I have a detailed outline of this second book I’ll be pitching.
Goal #3: I want to kindle a growing interest in me as an up-and-coming author, specifically by reigniting connections from last year’s conference.

You might have noticed that I did NOT mention winning my division of the 2010 Genesis Contest as one of my goals. That’s because I genuinely have no idea if I’m going to win or not. I know my entry was solid, but I have no clue as to the quality of the other entries, so therefore I can’t gauge my chances. Truth be told, as much as I’d like to win, I can’t say it’s a big priority, but rather a further affirmation that this is a part of what God wants me to do with my life.

I also didn’t say I wanted to leave the conference with a contract in-hand. That’s a totally unrealistic expectation, one that is virtually impossible. Not to mention it would be totally irrational on the part of an editor to offer me, an unknown, unpublished (well, kind of unpublished) author a contract without even seeing the entire manuscript and taking it into an acquisitions meeting back at his/her office. And frankly, I don’t think I’d sign any such contract without both of us knowing full-well what we’re getting into.

Instead, I need to convince publishers that I’m a skilled author with long-term viability in the ever-changing business of publishing. Hmm…that sounds pretty good. I think I’ll steal that from myself for the conference when I’m pitching. That’s really what I think it comes down to: pitching. Sales. Presentation. I’ve done a bit of that in my day, so we’ll see how it goes. I’ve charmed my way into some great success before, but this conference will be a true test of my sales abilities.

And this year I’ve got a secret weapon: my dad.

I am blessed to have parents who love and support me enough to get me to the conference. But this year, my dad is actually coming along with me. He hasn’t written a darn thing that he’d ever consider pitching at a Christian Fiction Writers Conference (though he’s got stories inside him that I hope he puts on paper some day), but he does have something I don’t have nearly enough of: experience.

He’s been in business for decades, specifically in sales, and now he has his own telecommunications company which works to save businesses money by making their telecom infrastructure more efficient (it’s a pretty good idea, especially in this economy). He told me today what he’s planning to do at the conference. He wants to serve as my “legal and business counsel,” and he’s going to tag-team sell my book for me. That means I’ve got twice the odds of getting published as anyone else there (if you look at it on a base person-to-person ratio, which is inherently flawed in its simplicity compared to the intricacies publishing world).

It also means I can cover twice as much ground as last year because I’ve got two people doing the work for me, and we’re both good salesmen. Well, I’m good, he’s great. What I lack in experience, I make up for with powerful storytelling. What he lacks in knowledge of my stories (especially the Western), he makes up for with sales experience. I will be very surprised if something great doesn’t happen as a result of this conference.

But for now, I’ve got other work to do. I’ve got my one-sheets printed for both stories (including a new one I created today for the completed novel), new business cards printed (though I need to print at least another thirty cards tomorrow), and sample chapters printed for both stories. I’m not bringing any proposals because my agent has those, and he’ll send them out upon request or at his discretion. So it really comes down to working on my pitches for the two books. I’ll probably brief my dad on what he needs to know about the two stories on the plane to Indy, but in order to give him his “product training class,” I need to finish writing the curriculum first.


Business Card Front Side

Business Card Back Side

So that’s what tomorrow will be for: writing the pitches, practicing them, and printing off some more business cards. In less than 18 hours, I’ll be in Indy. Within 12 more, I’ll be at the conference’s Early Bird Session with JSB. And six more after that, I could be networking with editors and folks from publishing houses. Time is running out, and I’m teetering on the edge, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be ready when the time finally comes.

-Ben

Posted in Happiness, Life Experiences, Writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Imprint of a Woman’s Friendship

Posted by April W Gardner on September 15, 2010

by Catherine Terry

She apologized for the snow her mukluks tracked into my home while she shed her Alaskan parka. Despite the cold, Sue radiated warmth by her happy smile and friendly look. Sue and I had met a few weeks before at church, and she offered to come by once a week in the evening to help me learn my way through the Bible.

An ordinary person like you or I, yet the gift Sue gave me by her commitment to help introduce me to Jesus and His Word has remained with me several decades. I sometimes wonder if she ever knew what a priceless gift her friendship to me really meant. I hope that someday I may see her again; either this side of Heaven or when the both of us are seated at Jesus’ feet.

Since then, I have been blessed by many friends over the years that have further enlightened my Heavenly path through their compassion and open hearts. I wonder if, I too, might have left my print on a younger woman’s life.

While studying Woman to Woman: Life Principles From Titus 2, written by Barbara Henry, I’m learning that chronological age should not be the only factor in defining the older/younger question, for spiritual maturity and life experiences have much to do with what we have to offer and how we relate. While considering this, I can easily recall friends younger in years than myself who have taught me by their Godly example. As well, I have been blessed by women older in years who have further enlightened me. Considered from this perspective, it makes friendship and discipleship quite enjoyable.

Who comes to your mind while you consider those who have left an imprint on your heart and spirit?

“Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.” 1 Timothy 5: 1-2

Visit the author at:

www.athomewithchristianfiction.net

Posted in Happiness, Homemaking, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

 
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