Friday, December 28, 2012

Hearing & Doing {Thinking Theology} | Part 2

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock..." Matthew 7:24 (to 27)

As I mentioned in Part 1 of Hearing & Doing,  we are saved to something.  We have not been freed from sin and death to seclude ourselves from the world or to continue on in our lives the way we want them to be.  Instead, the Lord says that if we are listening to His word, we will be called to action because of it (James 1:22, 2:14; 1 John 3:18 etc.).

I referenced verses from Romans 7 & 8 in the previous post but I wanted to move further into chapter 8, verse 26 which says, "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness..." This, to me, is the key.  Christ accomplished salvation on the cross and when we put our faith and trust in Him, we receive the free gift of salvation (this is the gospel).  We must remember this daily - sometimes even by the minute - but we also must remember that, with the introduction of the Holy Spirit into our lives, we are called to action.  No, these actions will not save us and our salvation is not dependent on them, but a hearer that is truly changed will desire to do.  James says this and more so clearly.

I turned to Acts 2:42-47 for a guide for my own life with regards to how my life should be shaped by these revelations.  These are my initial observations about what the church in Acts became devoted to as they were filled with the Holy Spirit:

They were...
  • Devoted to teaching (learning)
  • Devoted to fellowship & meals
  • Devoted to prayer (& praise)
  • Meeting needs
  • Meeting together
  • Reaching out to the lost
What a list!  When I first read through his passage I was slightly overwhelmed, but as I mentioned before, we must remember that we partake in them with the help of the Holy Spirit!  It is in God's strength that we learn and fellowship together and meet each others needs. 

To bring this close to home, I'll point out a few areas in which I've been challenged:
  • Finances
    • How are we spending the money God has entrusted to us?  
    • Do we wait on helping others until we have taken care of our own needs first?
    • Are we willing to sacrifice our more lavish desires for simpler things so we're living within our means and able to give more?
  •  Friendships
    • Who do we spend our time with?
    • What does that time look like?  Is it profitable or always self-focused?
    • What is the point of your friendships?
    • Are you friends with non-Christians?  
      • I'd say this is one of the most important things to ask yourself.  Do you have friends who do not know Christ that you spend time with for the purpose of showing them His love?
  •  Free Time
    • How do you spend your free time?
    • Do you use your free time as an excuse to do what you want, or what the Lord would have you do?
  •  Work
    • What is your focus on when you are at work? 
    • Are you a living representation of Christ to your co-workers?  
    • Do you work hard and do your best because you represent Christ?
    • Do you look for opportunities to invite your co-workers into your life so they can see Christ in you?
  • Home
    • Have you asked the Lord where you should live? 
    • Do you feel compelled to live beyond what you can afford?  
    • Are you opening your home to others?
    • Are you reaching out to those in your community? 
Those are some loaded questions, huh? I'm answering them myself as well. They aren't all-inclusive, but they are a great start to get us thinking about our daily lives.  I pray these questions would prompt us to ask the Lord to show us what needs to change and then change it with His help!  I hope that we would make this life about Him - not us.

For sermons on these topics and others like them check out the end of The Mission of God series titled "The Gospel in Real Life" by Cornerstone Church. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Hearing & Doing {Thinking Theology} | Part 1

I have been thinking a lot on hearing and doing.  I've spent a lot of time in 1 John where this is emphasized but also in James over my Christmas vacation.  Some of the statements I've read are so clear that I wonder how we get away with rationalizing lazy Christianity.  I'll warn you now - this post is inspired by a passion that I have for making every area of our lives subject to the Lord and is not just about walking away feeling good about ourselves as Christians.  I pray it touches your heart where needed and know that I'm speaking to myself as much as any of you, my dear readers!

First, let me share a few of the verses that have stuck out to me (emphasis mine):

"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says." James 1:22

"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3:18

"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are. Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1 John 3:10

"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?  Can such faith save him?"  James 2:14

"In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." James 2:17

"Who is wise and understanding among you?  Let him show it by is good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom." James 3:13

That is a lot of doing, isn't it?

Now, I know a quick response to this always seems to be that we are not saved by works.  Amen!  I completely agree. But, the Bible also makes it very clear that if we claim to have faith but it is "not accompanied by action" then it is dead.  Dead mean's it is not actually faith - it's a lie.

I have often met people who will claim to be Christians but who sadly fit into this last category - living a lie with dead faith.  You (or I) can claim to have put our faith in Christ, but if we continue on in the lifestyle we've always lived, we are lying.  We are claiming something that sounds good and even looks good to others (maybe we claim faith because it helps us fit in or because it's what we've always known) but if we've relegated God to a small portion of our lives, it's all false. God isn't satisfied with the leftovers.

How do we know where our faith stands? Romans 7:18b says,  "For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out."  Here, Paul explains that we can desire to do good and yet fail when we attempt to carry it out because we are doing it by ourselves (apart from Christ).  We aren't expressing a faith that resides in Christ, but one that resides within ourselves.  This form of doing will not bring salvation and is not an evidence of salvation because it is placed in the wrong thing. 

Paul goes on in Romans 8:1-2 and verse 9 to say, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death...You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you."  The key in all of this is the gospel!  His death on the cross is complete and He has finished that work. It's very clear - when we are saved by Christ and redeemed to a life as a part of His people, we are freed completely from sin and death to a life devoted to Him.

He has saved us for a purpose.

This is a radical call for action!  Christ requires our heart and our lives. We cannot be completely His when we are still holding on to our own fleshly desires. We cannot be content giving Him Sunday morning and keeping the rest of the week for ourselves. We cannot be wholly His when we are seeking our own way.

So what is our excuse?  Why aren't we doing?  (And realize when I say that, it is within the understanding of "doing" through His help and with His direction, not as a prerequisite for salvation or grace).  Do we shy away from releasing hold of our lives to Him?  Do we make excuses to continue to live the way we want?

I pray you will ask these questions and contemplate them today.  What is holding  you back from being His?  Tomorrow I will focus on the beautiful fact that we are not alone in this!  I hope you check back in to see the rest of this truth unfold in practical ways.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Day After Christmas

Hello thinking thoughts... readers!  I hope and pray that your time with family and friends was extra-special during this season but, more than that, I pray that it will prompt us all to live with renewed hope and joy in this coming year.

I have been working on a weighty post about hearing and doing.  It's not quite ready yet ...but I wanted to let you know it should be up tomorrow and Friday (yes, it's a 2 part post).  I'm excited about what the Lord has been showing me during this special Christmas season even if it's been a heavier topic than I'd originally anticipated!

I'm also looking forward to the New Year and some surprises I'm cooking up (not literally) for you, my faithful readers!  I'm talking about more giveaways (maybe of some fun, homemade crafts in addition to books), increased book reviews, and even a little String Along Fiction as I think I'll call it.  I'm toying with the idea of sharing sections of a story with you on a weekly basis.  This would not only cause me to be up to speed on my writing, but will also let you catch a glimpse into my fictional writing - not just my thoughts on theology or books. 

As 2013 approaches, I have felt the Lord nudging me in the direction of publishing more and more.  I have so many book ideas - some finished, some not - and I cannot wait to share them with you!  I am actively working on editing a few finished manuscripts and I am excited to keep you all up to date on the process.  Hopefully 2013 will see me enter into the world of publishing with a bang!

Don't forget to check back tomorrow to read about hearing and doing ;)

Monday, December 24, 2012

And the winner is...

Excited to announce that the winner of an electronic copy of Song of the Meadowlark by Sherri Wilson Johnson is....

Kara Peck

I will have Sherri contact you to work out the details of receiving your copy - congratulations! 

I know I'd said I had another Thinking Theology post - and I do - but I was asked to take part in our Christmas Eve program at church and I haven't had the time to type it up from my notes quite yet.  Sorry about that, but I should have it ready by the 26th :) 

I hope and pray that you all have a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I pray that your celebrations center around Christ and that you are challenged to live and love like Him more every day.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2012

RE:View | Song of the Meadowlark by Sherri Wilson Johnson

I'd like to introduce you to RE:View - my occasional Friday post devoted to reviewing novels of established and new authors!  Today's novel Song of the Meadowlark by Sherri Wilson Johnson is the first to be featured as a RE:View book.  I had the pleasure of interviewing Sherri for {Writer Wednesday} this week - if you missed the post you can check it out here.  It is such an amazing thing to get to know more about the author of a book you're reading.  For me, it breathes even more life into the characters and the ideas of the book.

I'm happy to announce that Sherri has been good enough to offer a giveaway of one electronic copy of this novel.  How exciting is that?  To enter the giveaway, just comment below and make sure to leave an email address so I can contact you if you win!

On to the review...

Beginning in Lake Murray, South Carolina, we meet twenty-five-year-old Cora Buchanan who has finally decided to move on with the next stage in her life after her husband's disappearance.  The adventure really starts when she faces car trouble in Lewiston, Georgia en route to her parents home in Florida.   Through a set of random events that could only be orchestrated by God, Cora finds herself employed as a nanny for a sweet little girl named Susie who's father, Rex O'Reilly, is a busy rancher.

Rex, a handsome widower, appears tough and unruly, giving Cora cause to keep her distance, but are things really as they seem with him?  After several suspenseful surprises and a lot of genuine conversation, Cora may have to reevaluate her first impressions of Rex. 

This lovely story has strong themes of the beauty and purpose of purity, the breaking down of pride, and a great picture of what true growth in the Lord can look like.  The characters are honest and real, having flaws as we all do, but overcoming the difficulties by turning to the Lord.  This is a must-read if you enjoy great descriptive language as well as true and honest characters. 

Don't forget to enter the giveaway by commenting below and, if you're aren't fortunate enough to win, make sure and get your copy of Song of the Meadowlark by clicking on this link. I'll be announcing the giveaway winner on Monday so check back for that as well as a Thinking Theology post about being a doer, not just a hearer.

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own.  

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

{Writer Wednesday} Sherri Wilson Johnson

Please welcome to {Writer Wednesday} author and speaker Sherri Wilson Johnson!

Recent comments by her readers state:

"Song of the Meadowlark is a well-written, wonderful story of second chance love."

"Sherri Wilson Johnson describes her settings and the reader feels as if she is there in the moment. The reader won't know until the last pages which is the bad guy."

To pick up her newest release, "Song of the Meadowlark", click [here].
To connect with Sherri check out these sites:
Sherri's Facebook
Sherri's Website
Sherri's Blog
Sherri's Goodreads page
Author Interview | Sherri Wilson Johnson

You & Writing 

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I am an Inspirational Romance novelist, a speaker, social media junkie, and a former homeschooling mom. I love to make people laugh and share stories of God’s blessings with them. I live in Georgia with my husband and two children. I love to dream of romance–good, clean romance, that is. I am passionate about purity and sexual integrity. I’m a bird-watcher, love the ocean, ice cream, my family and my Chihuahua, who faithfully sits by my side every day when I write. I am the author of To Dance Once More (OakTara) and Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara).

...The obsession with writing started when I was about eight years old when I wrote my first short story and it kept getting worse from there. I’ve tried to quit many times because I wasn’t getting where I thought I should be. But God keeps giving me words to write. I guess it’s kind of like therapy to write. It helps me express the pain of life and the joy too. Some people are artists or musicians and that’s how they express themselves. I write.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
I love the Victorian era and I love the beach. To Dance Once More displays both of those things. Although I’ve written more books and hope to write many more, To Dance Once More may always be my favorite because it contains so much of me and the things I love in it. Since it was my first full-length novel and it took me ten years to write it and sell it, I think it contains enough blood, sweat and tears to keep me loyal to it for a long time.

What was the hardest thing about publishing?
...The hardest part to becoming published was the rejection. Since publishers and agents rarely tell you why they are rejecting your manuscript, it was tough getting those rejections and not knowing which direction to go to make it better. I found that I could turn around and resubmit a proposal as soon as I received a rejection but if I didn’t explore the potential reason behind the rejection and try to improve upon my writing, then I was simply a sitting duck waiting for another rejection. 

...The easiest part? Jumping up and down with exhilaration when I got the email that my novel had been accepted.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently. Why are you/did you write it?
...Song of the Meadowlark is a Contemporary Inspirational Romance full of hope, forgiveness, and second chances at life and love set in South Georgia on a ranch with an ornery cowboy.

...Here is Song of the Meadowlark’s synopsis: 
When trusting others only leads to pain and rejection, and loving ends only in loss, what will it take to restore hope again? Shunned by the uncovered truth about her missing husband’s secret life, Cora Buchanan sets out on a road trip for home to mend her broken relationship with her parents. When her car breaks down, she’s stranded in a small Georgia town. While staying at the struggling Southern Hope Ranch, she meets little Susie O’Reilly, who unexpectedly fills a void in Cora’s heart. But Rex, Susie’s rugged cowboy father who lost his wife a year earlier, seems to go out of his way to either confront or avoid Cora. It doesn’t help her comfort level that the news continues to report missing and murdered women in the area. Cora has no idea just how close to home the crimes will hit…or how much the sweet sound of the meadowlark’s song at the ranch will impact her future.
...I wrote this book because I had written Historical Romance (To Dance Once More) and wanted to try my hand at Contemporary. The characters I had in mind (previously married woman and man) worked best in a Contemporary romantic setting.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...I like Cora, the heroine, because she’s strong although her circumstances are seemingly impossible and she thinks she’s weak. I like how she grows throughout the book. But my favorite is Rex O’Reilly, the cowboy. He’s ornery and secretive and moody and you just about want to hate him. Until you love him. :)

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...Second chances are always possible. If you commit to making your life a better one and one that will serve the Lord, then you can win!


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters?
...I find my inspiration usually from things that happen in my life or the lives of my friends. I also see things on TV that give me ideas.

Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...They are definitely based on a mixture of real life and pure imagination. I have a vivid imagination. You can ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you that I concoct crazy scenarios for even the simplest of situations. But I am sane still so that’s a relief.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories? 
...I hope that people will be encouraged to live a life of total commitment to the Lord and that they will see that although there are trials and heartaches in this life, He never lets anything happen to us that can’t be used for our good. In addition to encouraging them, I hope they feel the hope that love is possible. I long to share with them the blessing that purity can bring to their lives. I do not write what it considered edgy Christian fiction although I do deal with topics that the modern reader can relate to.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Don't ever give up on your dream. Practice your craft. Step through open doors only after much prayer. Be ready for rejection because it’s part of the path to publication. Always write what God puts on your heart and even if you don’t find a publisher for that story, it will honor the Lord. Oh, and establish yourself on the Internet now. Start a blog. Review books that you’ve read. Make friends on Goodreads and Facebook. Publishers look for that kind of thing.


What is your favorite snack to eat when writing?
...Coffee! I know, it’s not a snack and it’s not eatable. But I love to have a hot cup of coffee by my side when I write.

What is your favorite Christmas song?
Jingle Bells. I sing it all year long. It drives my family crazy!

What is your favorite thing about the Christmas season?
I’m not normal when it comes to the Holidays. Sometimes I don’t even put my tree up until a few days before Christmas and it’s always down a few days after. Both of my parents are gone and we lost my brother-in-law last year so Holidays don’t look around my house like they do elsewhere. We usually have a small Christmas gathering with my husband’s family and rarely do gift exchange. So my favorite part about the Christmas season (that was the question, right?) is remembering the true meaning of it—Jesus.

Thank you so much Sherri - what an encouragement to hear you talk about your struggles but about keeping the focus on Jesus!  I can totally relate to your "overall intention" when writing - I love showing how the Lord can bring characters through hard times to come and see that His way was (and always is) best!

I want to invite you all back on Friday for my RE:View post on "Song of the Meadowlark" and another GIVEAWAY!  Hey, it is the season of giving - is it not?  Sheri has been so gracious to offer a copy of her book so make sure you stop by, read a little more about her book, and leave a comment to enter the giveaway.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Featured on A Pew Perspective

Hello, dear friends!  I just wanted to let you know that my previous interview was rescheduled to today on Anne Baxter Campbell's blog A Pew Perspective.  Please hop on over to her lovely blog and hear about "The NaNo Experience" and what the Lord taught me through the month of November. 

Make sure to come by tomorrow for my author interview with Sheri Wilson Johnson!

P.S.  Notice anything different about my blog?  It's a small change but I added a new photo of my dear friend Shelby holding some of my books.  I'm a sucker for any kind of books (though I love them old and worn most of the time) and I wanted a picture that was a little more... author-ly for the blog ;)  What do you think?

Monday, December 17, 2012

And the winner is...

I'm excited to announce the winner of the book giveaway by Emily Ann Benedict.  I tossed all the names in a bowl this morning and had my dear friend Joe choose the winner (to be fair of course).

Drum roll please...

Joanna Marie

Congratulations Joanna! I'm so excited for you to have the chance to read this fantastic book by Emily.  We will get that out to you soon and I hope that you will continue to stop by for future interviews and giveaways.'s raining in Southern California - which really means it's misting.  I am enjoying the view from my desk and looking forward to flying home this coming Wednesday for Christmas vacation with my family.  What are you, my dear thinking thoughts..., readers doing for Christmas this year?

Make sure and check back this Wednesday for my interview with Sheri Johnson, author of Song of the Meadowlark.  In addition to her interview on Wednesday, I will also be starting a new posting tradition on occasional Friday's called RE:View which will be my platform to review books by new & established authors.  If you are an author and would like for me to review you book feel free to contact me.  I will be posting my review for Sheri's book, Song of the Meadowlark, and will feature another giveaway in correlation with that!

Make sure and stop by on Wednesday to learn more about Sheri and then on Friday to read a little bit about her book - don't worry, there wont be any spoilers - and to comment to enter the giveaway.

Have a happy Monday.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Lesson in Trust

As I sat listening to the rain last night, I reflected on the fact that God knows where each of those little raindrops fall.  He knows the number of grains of sand on the beach.  He knows each of our hearts. 

This was (and still is) a huge comfort to me in the wake of tragedies like what happened in Connecticut as well as things that have hit more closely to home for me in the past few weeks.   There have been many tears and nights filled with worry lately.

Then on Thursday morning I read this passage in James:

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

I was especially convicted by verses 6-8.  The Lord revealed to me that I was asking things of Him without any faith and I knew it because I would pray and then agonize over what I had just "turned over" to God.  It was as if I had opened up my hands, offered my worry and pain to Him, and then taken it right back. 

When I realized I had been doing this, I felt a huge weight lifted.  By diagnosing the problem, I was able to see the solution.  God tells us to ask in faith which means to trust Him.  As I realized this, the words to one of my favorite verses came to mind, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart" (Proverbs 3:5a).  If I'm being ruled by anxiety and worry, I'm not trusting and I will be "driven and tossed by the wind". 

Life is difficult and uncertain, but one thing is true - when we put our trust in the Lord, the God who created the universe and who sent His Son to reconcile a people for Himself, we put our trust in the only thing that can really help us.  It will do no good to turn to politics, or people, or laws, or even to morals.  None of these things will give us true justice or peace. 

I am praying for those who have been affected by this terrible tragedy - praying for peace for them, for those around them to love them with Christs love, and for God's name to be lifted high in the wake of heartache and loss during what should be a season of love and giving.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
~Isaiah 9:6~

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

{Writer Wednesday} | Emily Benedict & A Giveaway

I am excited to introduce to you Emily Ann Benedict and not only because she happens to share my first and middle name, but because she is a talent author and a sweet woman who I've had the privileged of getting to know over the last few months! Love Facebook for that very reason :)

In addition to this interview, Emily has a special treat for you! She is giving away a copy of her book "Only Angels are Bulletproof". All you have to do is comment below with your email.  It will be open to entries until Saturday night (December 15th) at 9pm and I will announce the winner on Monday the 17th. 

Emily Ann Benedict specializes in mystery and comedic novels with a healthy dose of Hope mixed in. Sharing the power of reading, the art of writing, and the love of God with all generations is her passion. When she is not writing, you'll probably find her near a Starbucks somewhere in California with a Dalmatian by her side and a Kindle in hand.

To connect with Emily, check out her website [here] or her Facebook [here].  You can also click [here] to pick up a copy of her book "The Father Christmas Confessions".
Author Interview | Emily Ann Benedict

You & Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
I actually started writing because I wanted to be an illustrator. I thought if I wrote my own stories that would give me something to illustrate. Of course, I quickly realized I was spending all of my time writing the stories. After years of training to be an artist, I found writing more fun.

As to why I keep writing, well, it is often said that once you really get into writing you just can’t stop. You write because you have too.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
If I had to choose, and that is very difficult, my mind goes back to a mystery I wrote several years ago. At the moment, I don’t have any plans to release it any time soon, but I think I enjoyed writing it so much because the main character was wildly different from anything I’d ever written. To write a character outside my comfort zone really allowed me to open up my imagination. Although, sometimes I think the fact that it is out of comfort my zone keeps me on the fence about releasing it.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
Ah, the hardest thing about publishing is marketing. Getting the word out is often an uphill climb, especially in a world with so many authors. But that same world is now full of great resources for authors, so that makes things little easier.

Honestly, the easiest part about the publishing experience is writing the book! That’s the fun part. The eBook revolution, however, is making some pieces of the publishing puzzle easier.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?
The Father Christmas Confessions is my newest release and my first attempt at a Christmas novel. I’m a great lover of Christmas, particularly Christmas novels and movies. I guess I must have overdosed one year, because I started dreaming up my own Christmas story. Somehow I decided to rewrite the legend of Santa Claus. For the moment I’m playing with the idea of a sequel.

Do you have a favorite character? If so, why?
Jeremy (aka “Father Christmas”) is definitely my favorite character. I came up with the character for another novel, but he just didn’t fit well. It turns out he makes a better Father Christmas than he did a detective. I think part of the reason he works is he is the antithesis of the traditional Santa Claus…and he is frequently offended by the comparisons! Red, after all, is an impractical color.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?  
The message of the book is really very simple. Christmas is not just, as we are often told, “the season of miracles.” The season itself is a miracle.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
I almost always begin with characters. I often have them worked out before I have a story to put them into. Usually, I begin with a personality type or personality types I want to play off of each other. For instance, in The Father Christmas Confessions I knew Jeremy’s character would be naturally more serious and at times a little severe, so I wanted to pair him with a character who by her very nature would inadvertently make life difficult for him. If you are going to write comedy, making life difficult for your characters is essential.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
Making people laugh and giving them a momentary escape from life is always on my mind when I write. There are enough stresses in the world to make anyone want to take a break.

But at the same time I don’t just want to write a story purely for entertainment. Sharing the love God and how present He is in our lives is always a theme in my stories, no matter what time of year I’m writing about.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
The world of publishing has changed a lot. I think my best advice would be just to learn as much as you can and decide what are you best options. I’m not good with reading books about writing, but I do keep track of several blogs by industry leaders and writers. They give out some great advice, but they also help me keep an eye on the pulse of the publishing world and all in little bite sized posts.


What is your favorite snack to eat when writing?

I always, ALWAYS, start my writing time with a cup of cappuccino. American cappuccino…you know, hot water and powder. If I eat while writing, I go for something salty. Preferably Cheez-It’s

What is your favorite Christmas song?
I love Christmas music in general, but the one that is always stuck in my head is “Let it Snow.” It seems like I’m singing that one all year long.

What is your favorite thing about the Christmas season? 

 Hm, that is difficult to say. My family gets involved in everything from baking to decorating to way too many lights in the front yard. But I think my favorite part is buying gifts. Finding each other the “perfect” gift is really important to us, because even if it doesn’t turn out to actually be the perfect gift it always says “I really thought about you.” (drops voice to whisper) And this year I found some great gifts…. 

Thank you so much Emily!  I really appreciate your perspective on writing and that you love Christmas just as much as I do ;)

For everyone else out there, don't forget to leave a comment below to be entered into the contest to win Emily's book Only Angels are Bulletproof!  Feel free to reply to her post as well (that will also enter you into the contest).  Thanks again everyone and have a happy 12th of December!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Giveaway Tomorrow

Hello, dear thinking thoughts... readers.  I'm back from my grandmas funeral and hope to be getting back on track with my writing.  It's a difficult time of year as well - the Christmas-busyness and traveling home for the holidays never make things easy (though I wouldn't have it any other way).

I just wanted to let you all know a few things.  First, how about we show some love to last weeks {Writer Wednesday} guest Staci Stallings and her latest release, Cowboy.  I definitely took advantage of it being free last week and downloaded it already.  If you missed it, I believe it's on sale on Amazon for only .99 cents right now - that's practically a steal so you definitely need to get over there and get it!!  If you missed her post last week, you can go HERE and check it out!

I also have another exciting announcement for tomorrow's {Writer Wednesday} guest!!  Her name is Emily Ann Benedict and, as a special treat for thinking thoughts... she is offering to give away a hard copy of her book Only Angels are Bullet Proof!!  How exciting is that!?   I mean, come on, who doesn't want to win a free book?

So, I want to make sure you all know about this great opportunity and how you can enter to win this giveaway.  Make sure and check out her interview tomorrow on the blog and leave a comment below with your email to be entered in for a chance to win.  I am extending the contest until 9pm Saturday December 15th (Pacific time) and I will announce the winner on Monday December 17th. 

Sounds like fun, right?  Well, make sure you stop by tomorrow then and check it out and enter for your chance to win a copy of this great book.  I have mine already and cannot wait to read it :) 

See you tomorrow...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

{Writer Wednesday} with Staci Stallings

Staci Stallings, todays featured {Writer Wednesday} author, is a #1 Best Selling Contemporary Christian Romance author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection.  I am so honored to have her on my blog this morning!  

Staci also has a special surprise for you today ...

Her novel Cowboy is FREE on Kindle todayMake sure you head on over to Amazon *click HERE* to get your copy!

  "One of the most gripping contemporary romances I've read in the past three years."  
--Michelle Sutton, Amazon Top 1,000 Reviewer

Author Interview | Staci Stallings

You and Writing
Tell us a little bit about yourself:  How did you start writing?  What has kept you writing?
I'm a stay-at-home mom with a writing addiction. At least that's where it started. In the last year that writing addiction has snowballed me onto the best sellers list which is totally a dream come true.  However, it took 16 years to get here, so there was no "overnight success" to it.  Why did I write for 16 years with no guarantee of anything?  Because writing is like breathing to me.  I love it.  It sustains me.  It gives me something to think about other than laundry and dishes and who has to be where when.  It gives me sanity! 

  Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written?  If so, why?
I love them all for different reasons.  The one that's free right now, Cowboy, is really special to me.  It was the 5th one I wrote (I've now written 31 full length novels), and the one I wrote right before I started pursuing publishing.  There is just something about that story--the down-on-her luck waitress, the handsome country music star who neglects to mention that part when they meet.  It's one I could read again and again and still get that really good feeling of a romance that changes two people for the better.

If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing?  The easiest?
I am a self-published indie, which is cooler now than it used to be.  I think the hardest thing about being indie is just the sheer amount there is to do.  With 20+ books out now, it takes constant effort to keep all the balls in the air--marketing, publishing, covers, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, writing, editing...  There's never a dull moment.  And maybe in a strange way that's the best thing too.  I tend to get bored really easily, so having this massive amount helps keep me very focused and out of trouble. :)

Your Writing
   Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?
Right now I'm actually editing the first book I ever wrote. A friend of mine wants to read it, so I'm polishing it up and trying to decide if I want to put it out.  It's a really great story, but it's funny now going back because when I wrote it in 1995, there was no such thing as contemporary Christian romance.  So it's really interesting to see how I was trying to be who I was (a Christian who loves romance) while writing what I thought I had to write to be even in the realm of marketable with characters who think nothing of sex before marriage.  Now, with a following and firmly planted in the Christian realm, I'm having to figure out how to rewrite this story to keep the integrity of it but lose some of the less-than-perfect Christian issues.

Do you have a favorite character?  If so, why?
You know, I love all of them, but I've had more people say that I'm a lot like Beth in Cowboy.  I think that's a great compliment because she has such a kind and generous heart.  She so wants to help this bedraggled stranger who shows up in the middle of the night, seeking shelter from a storm.  She is who I aspire to be.

 What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?

You don't know.  You don't know what someone else is going through.  You don't know the whole story.  You don't know how much heartache they are carrying. You don't know how much they need someone to believe in them.  You just don't know... And so treat everyone with great compassion and gentleness.  Because you just don't know.

 Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters?  Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
Most of them come from dreams.  That's where Cowboy came from.  I dreamt I was with this country singer and although it felt like we knew each other, I could tell how reticent I was about being there.  It was like I knew someone different rather than this guy who was sitting there pouring his heart out to me.  When I woke up, I started asking questions about how we got there, how I knew him but didn't really, and the rest of the story started dropping in like pieces in a puzzle.

   When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
To tell the story God gives me to tell.  Honestly that is my only goal.  I didn't start out thinking these would be published.  I started out wanting to capture the stories that came to me in dreams, the ones that felt like they were glued to my heart until they slipped off into oblivion because I couldn't remember them anymore.  As it progressed, I really realized that these weren't just my stories, they were stories God was giving me, showing me, and I determined that I would write them to the best of my ability with Him guiding me. 

For the most part, I let the stories be what they are, and when I release them, I believe God will work out who they are supposed to go to and how.  He's done a great job of that so far.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
Write from your heart.  Write what God gives you to write.  When I first started, there was no such thing as Contemporary Christian romance.  It was ALL historical.  But God had a plan.  Had I tried to figure out what to write from the world's perspective, I would have missed all God had in store for me.  So write what's on your heart, and let God work out the details after that.

What is your favorite snack to eat when writing?
Unless I'm in crazy-marketing mode and eat lunch in my office, I don't really snack when I'm writing.  My fingers are too busy trying to keep up with my brain. :)

  What is your favorite Christmas song?
Silent Night.  No question.  It speaks so eloquently to the quietly earth-shattering miracle that happened that night so long ago.

What is your favorite thing about the Christmas season?
Family.  I just love being with my family--my husband, my kids, and my extended families.  Just getting together, hanging out, laughing together, making memories... Now I'm gonna cry... :)

Thank you Staci for such an encouraging interview!  I can tell that you love what you do and the best part is your commitment to do it for God's glory!  

Want to connect with Staci? 

And don't forget to head over to Amazon right now and get your copy of Cowboy

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Free Book from Staci Stallings

 Timothy Ashton Raines is at the top of his game and the end of his rope until one night, he walks away from everything...

"One of the most gripping contemporary romances I've read in the past three years."  
--Michelle Sutton, Amazon Top 1,000 Reviewer

Tomorrow's guest post author Staci Stallings has a special treat for us today and tomorrow only!  

December 4 and 5:

*Click the link above to be directed to Amazon and your copy of Cowboy*

I know I'm excited about this and will definitely be taking advantage of this free download!  Make sure you head over to Amazon for your copy.  Tomorrow we will hear from Staci for {Writer Wednesday} so make sure not to miss that!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tribute to my Grandma

My Beautiful Grandma
Death is a difficult thing.

This morning I'm sharing my heart with you.  I found out on Saturday that my Grandmother had passed away.  It's one of those things you hear and it doesn't quite sink in until later.  I think I'm still processing it, but at the same time I have a peace that I know could only come from the Lord.

She was such a wonderful woman.  As I talk about in the "about me" section on my other blog, I owe my cooking and baking talents to both her and my mom.   I would always be in the kitchen with her, creating something new and learning from her.  Always learning.

Her blackberry pie will always be my favorite dessert and I owe my own pie making methods to her.  I grew up spending a lot of time with my grandparents and I know that has played such a big role in my life.  They taught me so much about life and being creative - whether it was in the kitchen or in the shop with Grandpa.  

I will miss her (and already do) so much but know that I can rest in the fact that she knew Christ.  I think about this and realize what a blessing that is.  I will see her again and know that I do not mourn as if I had no hope.  I am challenged to put my focus on the Lord and the reason that I can have joy and peace, especially as we come up on the Christmas season.  I want to make sure and take every moment captive for what it is - a gift from God.  He allowed me 26 wonderful years with my grandma and for that, I am extremely grateful.

 I would covet your prayers for my family and I in this difficult time.