Saturday, December 29, 2012

Interview- Author, K. Dawn Byrd

This next week, I'm excited to offer my viewers information on three authors and their latest books. You might discover one or two that are new to you. You might want to add to your list of favorites for the new year.

Today, I welcome K. Dawn Byrd to my writing with hope blog. Dawn is an author of inspirational novels in several genres, including, historical, suspense, romance, and young adult. Some of her favorite things are chocolate, cars, and her pets. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and riding down country roads in the passenger seat of her husband's Corvette Stingray. When asked why she writes, her response is, "For the simple joy of placing words on the page!"
Dawn, what would you like your readers to take away from your latest release, Amazing Love?

Amazing Love is the modern-day version of the Hosea and Gomer story from the Bible. I'd like for readers to take away that God loves us with an unconditional love. My heroine, Dee, does some pretty terrible things and believes that God could never forgive her, but He does.
It was a tough story to write because my heroine suffers severe consequences for her sins, but it was necessary to portray how low we can go and how much God still welcomes us with open arms.

Tell us what it's about?

Gabe Knight, a pastor in a small coastal town, finds his life is turned upside down when Dee Dillow arrives and hires him to remodel an estate she's inherited from her aunt. Dee dashes his plans for wedded bless when on a drunken binge, she divulges that she's the highest paid call girl in Nevada and part-owner of the ritziest brothel in the state.

Gabe falls in love with her, but can't believe he's hearing the voice of God when a still, small voice tells him to marry her. After much questioning, they marry and he is deliriously happy. Until, Dee betrays him.

Gabe soon discovers just how hard it is to have the unconditional love God calls him to have for his wife, the kind of love God has for his children. When faced with losing her, Gabe realizes what true love is, how much it hurts, and just how much God loves and is willing to sacrifice for his children.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned that even though the Bible gives us stories about individuals who lived in Bible times, it's vague at times about specifics. This give a fiction writer a lot of leeway to let their imaginations run wild.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Finding time to write. I work a full-time job and also a lot of weekends, which means that I have to be really devoted to my writing time. I set aside at least an hour every night, six days a week if possible. The fact that I start with a well-developed plot makes things move faster.

Which books have helped you most in your writing and why?

It's not really a book, but I'll tell you about it anyway. Margie Lawson's on-line classes made more impact on me and my writing style that anything else I've ever studied. They're very affordable too!

What accomplishment (s) are you most proud of - writing-related or not?

I'm proud of earning a master degree in professional counseling from Liberty University. I believe this degree helps me to understand my characters better and what makes them tick.

What are your favorite writing conferences and why?

The ACFW conference is my favorite because I absolutely love the worship. It blesses my heart. It's also really nice to chat with like-minded people.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

A big time plotter. Because I write all of my books in 30-day marathons, I have to start with a thorough plot. That doesn't mean that sometimes the story doesn't take a life of it's own, surprising me when it takes me down a road I hadn't planned to travel.

What would you be doing if not writing?

Probably still riding a Harley. I sold my bike in order to have more time to write. On weekends, I'd rather curl up with my laptop and the story in my head.

What is your personal definition of success?

My personal definition of success has nothing to do with money. To me, a successful person is one who is happy and enjoys life.

Where can your readers find you?

Twitter: kdawnbyrd
Pinterist: kdawnbyrd
Facebook: kdawnbyrd
Twitter: Amazing Love,the story of Hosea & Gomer like never before. #teamjesus #bookbuzzr #amreading #Christfic
Pinterist: kdawnbyrd
Facebook: kdawnbyrd
You Tube:

How much betrayal can a man take from the woman he loves. Amazing Love, modern the Hosea & Gomer story. #jesus

Would God really tell a preacher to marry a prostitute? You decide. Amazing Love, a modern Hosea & Gomer novel.

What happens when God tells a preacher to take back his cheating wife? #bookbuzzr #christfic #teamjesus #Bible

What sin is too big for God to forgive? Prostitution? Cheating? Addiction? Amazing Love, a modern Hosea story.

Purchase links:
Amazing Love released early. It was supposed to release on November 1, but released on October 24. At the time this press kit was constructed, the only purchase link is Amazon (
It will be available in the future at B&N, CBD, and other places in print and ebook formats.

Thank you, Dawn for letting us learn more about you as a person and as an author. Your book sounds very thought-provoking. I'll need to put that on my to-read list now.

Viewers, is this an author you know or is she new to you?

On Wednesday, June 2, Writing with Hope blog will welcome author:
Laurie Alice Eakes

On Saturday, June 5, we'll enjoy a post by Sharon Shrock.
Be sure and check those out this week.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winner of book for Christmas

I pray all my viewers enjoyed their Christmas. Here in Texas we saw a rare white Christmas. It was beautiful but trecherous for driving. One set of my kids took 4 hours to drive a 2 1/2 hour trip. The others who left later drove their normally 3 hour trip in 5. Not fun. God blessed our time together and for once, all 3 daughters, 2 sons-in-law and 3 grandchildren were here at one time. I am blessed.
This morning, I drew a name from the comments, and the winner is:

(Drum roll, please)


Congratulations on winning the book of your choice.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Three days until we celebrate Christ's birthday and I wish to give you, my viewers, a Christmas present along with a chance to win another. My first present is the short story below about forgiveness. Many of you may face this challenge during the holidays. I hope it ministers to you.

For everyone who comments, I'll put you into a drawing to win one of my books. I'll draw the name and post the winner on Christmas Day at eight in the evening. When you write your comment, tell me which book you want, and be sure to give your e-mail address. Choose Victoria and the Ghost an inspirational, paranormal YA or you can indicate you want, Diving Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness, my latest release.

Now, here's the story TOGETHER FOR CHRISTMAS

High school let out for Christmas holidays. Tammy burst through her back door. She frowned when she saw her mother busy with Christmas preparations. “I dread having David here. It messes up everything.”

Pain washed over her mother’s face. “You should be ashamed. This is your brother’s first Christmas with us in four years.”

Tammy crossed her arms. “He should stay in prison.”

Mother’s eyes flashed. “Go to your room and reflect on your bitterness.”

Tammy slammed the door to her bedroom. Every time she thought of David, she got mad. Two uniformed cops had taken David away in handcuffs the week before her twelfth birthday.

Her hero, her big brother had stolen, lied, and sold drugs.

The family crumbled after David left. Her mother cried all the time, and her father stayed gone, finally dying in a car wreck. Tammy’s church friends picked up her life pieces. Last year, she gave her heart to Jesus, thanks to Casey, the new youth minister. Surrender came hard, but the love of Christ applied a salve to her wounded heart.

A few months ago, she had led her mother to Christ. Tammy hung her head. She wasn’t being a good example to her mother with her bitter language.

Perching cross-legged in the middle of her double bed, Tammy picked up a box which had remained unopened since David left. Tears of remembrance dripped onto the box as she dug to the bottom.

Her fingers grasped a necklace of pink and white beads. Her brother had earned money washing dishes to purchase it. Once upon a time, she’d worn it with pride. Next, she pulled out an autographed baseball. When she turned ten, David took her to her first major league game. When he caught a foul ball, he presented it to his “birthday beauty.”

Voices filtered from the den. He was here. Tammy opened her door and inched down the hall. The man standing with his back to her bore little resemblance to David. His hair, though still black, was cut close to his head. His skin draped loosely on his big frame.

He must have sensed Tammy’s presence because he turned. A half smile stole across his face. He stepped backward with a slight limp.

She recalled hearing about his accident in the prison’s exercise yard. She cringed at his pain, but stood firm.

“Tammy …..” David dropped his head. “You’re so grown-up.”

Without you. The taste of resentment was like bile after vomiting. “Go away.” She ran for her room’s sanctuary.

Tears scalded her cheeks. Pain saturated like tanning oil did her body in summer. He was no longer her beloved big brother, but a stranger to her. He had betrayed their family. He had betrayed her.

Mom demanded Tammy join them for dinner. The three gathered around the round maple table Mother bought last year at a garage sale. Every crunch, chomp, and chew resounded through the silent kitchen.

Mom offered the mashed potatoes to David. “Bet you haven’t got food like this for a long time.”

“Not hardly.” David scooted back indicating his bony arms and shrunken stomach. “You can tell by the weight I’ve gained.”

Mom sliced off more roast and laid it on her son’s plate. “Well, I intend to fix that.”

After she ate, Tammy escaped to her room. Later, loud words came from the living room between her mother and brother, then Tammy heard her brother leave. Her mother’s sniffing noises drifted to the daughter’s room like when the police had arrested David. He shouldn’t have come back.

Tammy’s clock showed after one in the morning when she heard the front door open. Her brother, she assumed, walked down the hall.

She listened to a whispered conversation only feet away from her door.

Mom must have waited. “You could come home at a decent hour.”

“You’re not my keeper.” David’s voice sounded gruff, but sober.

Mom started crying again. “I wanted to spend time with you. It’s been so long.”

David’s tone softened. “I’m sorry, Mom. There was something I had to do. We’ll visit tomorrow and Christmas Day. I promise.”

“Aren’t you moving home with us?”

Tammy strained to hear her brother’s words.

“I’d better not.”

At ten the next morning, Tammy woke. Sounds came from the back yard. She opened the door and peeked out.

Mom watered the oak tree she’d planted in the fall trying to save it from the winter’s cold ground. “Hi, sleepyhead. You and your brother are sleeping the day away.”

Tammy stepped outside. Her mother’s eyes were red and swollen. “I’m sorry I lashed out at you about David. I’ll try to do better for Christmas.”

“You need to pray, Baby.” Her mother shielded her eyes from the sun. “Don’t you work today?’

“Yeah, but I don’t go in until noon.” Tammy worked part time at a dress store to make money for gas and car insurance.

“What’s everybody doing out here?” David came through the back door rubbing his eyes. “Brr… it’s cold.”

Tammy turned to go inside. “I should get ready for work.” She brushed past her brother without making eye contact.

That evening Tammy dreaded going home, but it was Christmas Eve.

Around the dinner table again, Mom asked Tammy to say grace. The previous night they’d both forgotten.

“Thank, you, Lord, for this food and this day. Amen.” Tammy stopped.

A knot gripped her throat. How could she pray with bitterness in her heart? Casey taught her to repent first. She raised her head and caught David’s eye. Turmoil seized her mind. She couldn’t eat. She couldn’t speak. She ran.

Throwing herself across her bed, Tammy picked up the box. Pictures lay beneath the necklace and baseball. A heavier David with long hair blowing in the wind held Tammy, a nine-year-old skinny blonde, high on his shoulders. They both laughed in the photo as if sharing a joke. Tammy looked at David’s senior picture. She’d thought he was the most handsome guy that year. Where had things gone wrong for him?

Tammy reached to the night stand for her Bible. She read her favorite verses.

After coming to the Lord last year, she often talked to Casey about her family. Her youth minister stressed forgiveness. “Jesus forgave you, and you must forgive others.”

Her mother’s coming to Christ forged a bond between them stronger than blood. When Tammy prayed, God’s love flooded her soul and eased the rough patches. Why couldn’t she pray now for David?

As she thumbed through the pictures, tender feelings resurfaced. Her eyes stung as she choked down the memories.

When David was being led away, Tammy ran to clasp his legs. His last words brought wounds that never healed. “Quit being a cry baby.”

Tammy had made a decision that day. She had no brother. She’d never written. Now God forced her to face David. Despite the changes in her life, she couldn’t correlate that man in her house with the sweet brother of years past.

Tammy picked up the phone and dialed Casey’s number.

His advice didn’t surprise her. “Perhaps you never opened the box because you had not forgiven David. Maybe now you’re ready.”

“But it hurts so much.”

“Because you love him so much.”

Tammy shouted. “I don’t. I hate him.” The tears came anew.

Casey remained silent. Tammy knew the answer. When the police drove away, David never looked out the window for the little sister crying in the grass. He hadn’t cared.

She heard Casey’s voice. “David needs your forgiveness as much as you need to give it.”

“You think so?”

“Yes, and Jesus will help, but you have to ask Him.”

Tammy hung up the phone. She prayed and read more in her Bible preparing her mind for what Jesus wanted her to do.

Christmas Day dawned sunny and crisp. David bent over the dining table reading the paper. As Tammy and Mom prepared a turkey dinner, Tammy handed her mother a gift-wrapped package.

After Mom opened it, she kissed her daughter. “I love the blouse.”

David’s face reddened. “I’m sorry. I didn’t get you anything.”

Mom threw her arms around the big lanky man. “That’s okay. You’re here. That’s the best gift I could have.”

Tammy was the last to be seated for their meal. “May I say grace?”

Her mother’s eyes filled with confusion. “Of course.”

“Thank you for the food, and the beautiful day, and your love.” She clamped her teeth determined to go on with God’s help. “And, Lord, thank you for bringing my brother home.”

When she raised her head, her mother glowed, and David smiled at her. Tammy lost a hundred pound weight from her heart as God’s forgiveness and love restored her family.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

CHRISTMAS KINDNESS book blast by Cheryl Malandrinos

Hey, friends, look at this chance to win books or an Amazon gift certificate. Check out Cheryl's new book and enter to win.

Eight-year-old Robert is eager to share his wish list with Santa at the mall on Christmas Eve. When he meets Glenn, who has only one request for Santa, Robert is confused over what he should do. Can he cast aside what he wants and ask Santa to bring his new friend a special gift?

Inspiration Behind A Christmas Kindness

How is it that children have the ability to reach out and help others in ways adults don't always think to do?

One year, our oldest daughter--then only eight--went door-to-door in our neighborhood collecting money for Toys for Tots. Coordinated by the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve, this program collects new, unwrapped toys each year and distributes them as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in our communities. This summer, my girls ran a lemonade stand so they could bring money to a local animal shelter.

Why don't I think of doing such things? I guess it's easier to write a check and send it in the mail. But what effort is involved in that? My children make it personal, and much more meaningful, by giving something of themselves.

With A Christmas Kindness, I hope to capture the generosity of a child's heart--the way they look at the world as a place of endless opportunities to make a difference.

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May you be blessed this holiday season.

Cheryl Malandrinos, writing as C. C. Gevry, is a children’s author and editor. She is a member of SCBWI. A Christmas Kindness is her first book with 4RV Publishing. Visit her online at

Pump Up Your Book and C. C. Gevry are teaming up to give you a chance to win some fabulous prizes!






Each person will enter this giveaway by liking, following, subscribing and tweeting about this giveaway through the Rafflecopter form placed on blogs throughout the tour. If your blog isn’t set up to accept the form, then after they visit your blog, they are directed to where they can fill out the form to gain more entries.

This promotion will run from December 17th - December 21st. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter, contacted by email, and announced on December 24th.

Each blogger who participates is eligible to enter and win.

Visit each blog stop below to gain more entries as the Rafflecopter widget will be placed on each blog for the duration of the tour.

What a great way to not only win these fabulous prizes, but to gain followers and comments too! Good luck everyone!

A Christmas Kindness Book Blast Schedule

Monday, December 17th

This from Janet:Good luck to all my viewers. Hope you win. Be sure & like or tweet multiple times, maybe on all the blogs.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

BITTERNESS by guest blogger Fay Lamb

I'm excited to introduce my guest blogger today, Fay Lamb.
I first met Fay on ACFW's Scribes critique loop. She's an endless volunteer for ACFW. Her debut novel, Because of Me and my debut novel Victoria and the Ghost both released for publication last year. We discovered we had critiqued some of each other's chapters. What an exciting time for we two authors.
Then came the ACFW conference in Dallas last September, and I met Fay in person for the first time. I found her a warm, enthusiastic comrade. I bought her book and absolutely loved it. I highly recommend it for a good inspirational romantic suspense with lots of twists and surprises.
I'm a sucker for novels with kids. That's why mine always include teens or younger children.

Fay agreed to guest today with an article on Bitterness and how it can affect our Christmas. Take it away, Fay.

Thanks, Janet. I’ve been asked what motivated me to write my two romantic suspense novels, Because of Me and Stalking Willow. Each book deals with a myriad of issues, but one issue is addressed in each story: bitterness.

Oh, how I have struggled with that emotion throughout the years, only coming to terms with it in the last decade when I realized what Moses was saying when he spoke to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 29:18 “Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood…”

If we allow it, bitterness can take a powerful hold over us. This emotion can rob us of a right relationship with God and steal our healthy relationships with loved ones.

In Because of Me, Issie Putnam’s bitterness comes in the form of her silence. She keeps most of her pain inside. She allows only certain people to know the depth of her pain and loss. Issie learns that her sister and her brother-in-law have betrayed her, and that betrayal cost her dearly. When Michael Hayes, the man Issie loves returns to her life, she feels those roots taking hold, and she struggles to weed them from her heart. After all, the roots are due to the harm that others caused Michael. Yet, Michael is also asking her to let go of her bitterness toward a man he now calls a friend—a man whose heinous actions separated Issie from Michael for years.

Willow Thomas is the heroine of Stalking Willow. Her bitterness is more pronounced. From the start of her pain, Willow shut all the people of her past out of her life. She fled her hometown, seeking sanctuary in the loneliness of a big city, spurred on by one horrible moment when she learned the falsehood of the stories she’d been told about her birth and her parents. Years later, Willow is forced, by the actions of a stalker, to return to the small town where she was raised. When she arrives, she finds that time has marched on. People have changed—most people, anyway—and somehow she must shed herself of the roots entangling her heart and holding her captive. If she doesn’t, she could lose the most important person in the world to her—her childhood friend and the man she loves, Quentin Daniels.

If we allow it, bitterness will ensnare us, wrapping tentacles around our heart so strongly that we shut people out or our actions will cause them to turn away. In my novels, both Issie and Willow handle their pain in unique ways, but the one course they both take is to shut out God. From the very start, they both turned away from Him, the one they should have run to when life fell apart. Instead, they sought to deal with their situations on their own, in effect, turning to “other gods” just as Moses had warned Israel. The result: burdened, aching hearts.

So, in writing these novels, I hope to share with my readers how the kudzu of the heart works to separate us from God; those roots wind through your soul and cut you off almost as soon as the seed is planted. The truth is, life is never fair. Sometimes, things just don’t go our way. The seed that sprouts the harmful growth is sometimes something small. Other times, the kernel may be large; something horrific has caused you to stumble. You wonder if you can trust God.

In my novels, as Issie and Willow learn to depend on God, one of my prayers is that through their journeys, the readers will look into their own hearts and discover if any roots of bitterness exist, if anything keeps them from enjoying a right relationship with God and others.

As we approach Christmas, I know from experience that bitterness likes the moistened soil found here. Loss is more pronounced during this season, the pains inflicted on us by others shout loudly through our thoughts. We must be careful not to let the roots begin. We need to weed them out with prayer every time we are tempted to allow the seed to sprout: prayer to God and prayer for those who harmed us. As it is has been said, “It’s hard to hate those people you pray for.”

Good words of wisdom, Fay. Thank you.

Here's something about Because of Me.

Not your typical Christian fiction.
Michael’s fiancĂ©e, Issie Putnam, was brutally attacked and Michael was imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit. Now he’s home to set things right.
Two people stand in his way: Issie’s son, Cole, and a madman.
Can Michael learn to love the child Issie holds so close to her heart and protect him from the man who took everything from Michael so long ago?

Available through all fine book retailers,, Barnes & Noble and Mountainview Publishing (, a division of Treble Heart Books. Autographed copies may also be purchased through Fay’s website at

Fay Lamb offers services as a freelance editor, and is an author of Christian romance and romantic suspense. Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Because of Me, her debut romantic suspense novel is available at all book retailers. Her second release, Stalking Willow, is currently available for pre-order through Write Integrity Press and will be released in May 2013.

Fay has served as secretary for American Christian Fiction Writer’s operating board and as a moderator for ACFW’s critique group, Scribes. For her volunteer efforts for ACFW, she received the Service Members Award in 2010.

Fay and her husband, Marc, reside in Titusville, Florida, where multi-generations of their families have lived. The legacy continues with their two married sons and five grandchildren.

Wow, I can't wait to read that one.
Again, thank you, Fay, for stopping by my Writing with Hope blog today. Merry Christmas and God bless you.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Welcome to the NEXT BIG THING blog hop.

What is a blog hop? My friend, Rhonda Prince, thought it was a new dance, like zumba or cotton-eyed Joe, but no.

Basically, it’s a way that readers can discover new authors, because with bookstores closing and publishers not promoting new authors as much, we need to find a way to introduce readers to authors they may not see in their local bookstore. So I get to give a shout-out to the wonderful author who invited me to this “dance” and then invite (and highlight) three more terrific authors at the end of the blog.

Carol Shenold invited me to join the “hop.” I met her on the Oklahoma Writers Federated Intl writing loop, a new online friend. Her latest release is a paranormal mystery novel, Bloody Murder, a Tali Cates mystery. See the links at the end for three other authors you really MUST check out. Check out Carol Shenold’s blog at


In this particular hop, I and my fellow authors, in their respective blogs, have answered 10 questions where you get to learn about our current work in progress as well as some insights into our process, from characters and inspirations to plotting and cover decisions. I hope you enjoy it!
Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions.

Here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the working title of your book?
Well, remember, it’s a work in progress, so this might change, but the working title is A Ghost for Shelley

2: Where did the idea come for the book?
This is a sequel to my debut novel Victoria and the Ghost. In the first book, Victoria faces the country like an alien world for a city girl. Her biggest nemesis is Shelley Halverson. What if Shelley, the perfect country bumpkin, moved to the city? What if she heard or saw ghosts like she ridiculed about to Victoria? How would Shelley react? I learned her adjustment was even harder, and more deadly.

3: What genre does your book come under?
Inspirational, paranormal young adult

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Wow, that’s a hard one. Maybe Scarlett Johansson for Shelley. I’m not up on my actresses. The hero, maybe Channing Tatum

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Mean girl Shelley gets what she deserves when the country girl moves to the city with no friends, vindictive accusations, her own ghost problems, and a life that could get her killed.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
Since this is a work in progress, it’s not sold yet. However, I hope to sell it to the publisher of Victoria and the Ghost. That is 4RV Publishing Co.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’ve been working on it a couple months, but it isn’t finished. I will have my first draft finished and do at least one read-through edit by April, 2013. That’s the goal I set for myself. I wish to pitch it to my publisher @ OWFI conference the first weekend of May.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Well, of course, the story compares with my first young adult which compares with Beverly Stowe McClure’s Rebel in Blue Jeans.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
The message of each book I write is there is hope in God.
I want to show teenaged girls that different doesn’t mean unlovely. Girls build up themselves by tearing down others, and they need to know there is forgiveness for that. Only God can heal and make them whole and beautiful.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

With Victoria and the Ghost I told a fictional account but used a real place with an oft-told ghost legend. That was Clara, Texas.

With this one which is also fiction, I use the legend of the ghost of McKinney, Texas courthouse.

Below you will find authors (in no particular order) who will be joining me by blog, next Wednesday. Do be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on WIPs and New Releases! Happy Writing and Reading.

1. Cynthia Toney –her book Bird Face will be out next spring.
Almost-fourteen-year-old Wendy Robichaud doesn't care one bit about being popular like her classmates Tookie and the Sticks. That is, until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even her best friend is hiding something. While juggling divorced parents, caring for abandoned puppies, and trying to make the high school track team, who has time to play detective?
The blog site is
Oh, and the publisher's website for future purchases is

Cash-strapped, single mom, Carly Westbrook has her hands full trying to pay the rent and raise two boys on her own, but she's facing eviction this Christmas--and she doesn't need a grouchy neighbor and his big, goofy dog making creating more stress. But Christmas is a season for surprises, and sometimes it's the unexpected gifts that are the most precious of all.
Find her at

3. Sarah Smith – The Elite of the Weak
Hadassah isn’t like the rest of her friends in high school. Neither is she like the kids in her church’s youth group. At least not when she’s in the African jungle trying to rescue an abducted child, or when she’s crawling through an air duct on a surveilance mission in Queens. She was born for such a time as this. She also wasn’t cut out to do this work alone.
find her at

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions, and be sure to check out the other authors listed above.

Thanks for those who’ve purchased Victoria and the Ghost and Divine Dining. Like me on Facebook and/or send me a tweet. (See right side for links)

Saturday, December 8, 2012


In this day of recession and job loss, we need only search history to relive how God provides for the needs of His children in ways beyond our reasoning.
My husband, Charles, me, and my mother-in-law celebra-ted her eighty-eighth birthday last February. Others in the picture include Charles' cousin, his daughter and granddaughter, and our niece and her mother.

Tomorrow, God will use Granny again to build up the congregation at Crossroads Church in West Tawakoni, Texas. She survived the depression years of the thirties. Her stories encourage us to never succumb to fear, because God always provides. Her pastor thought her testimony would help those in the church who've lost jobs or have wavering businesses.

Charles and I will drive there to attend and support her. I remember some of her stories. Life was hard growing up in the twenties and thirties. Granny's parents and three siblings faced hunger on almost a daily basis.

When Granny was a child, she and her family lived on Love Field, an airport now in the middle of Dallas. Life was hard for everyone. A blessing for one often brought a blessing for many. One neighbor slaughtered a hog that he owned. With no refrigeration, he couldn't eat all the meat before it went bad. He went to Granny's mother and offered her 6 pork chops. Granny dug up the last of her potatoes, and their family had an unexpected feast. (Granny's older brother fed most of his pork chop to the family dog, but that's another amusing side line.)

Another time, the family of six was down to nothing to eat with a weekend stretching ahead of them. The kids discovered an old wreck of car out in the field and played in it like they were driving. One of her brothers found this box in the back, and kid-like, he opened it. It was filled with canned peaches. The kids lugged them to their momma.

"Are they any good?" Granny asked.

"Woo-hoo," her mother yelped. "You bet their good. Wash your hands, and we'll have supper." (That's what we in the south call the evening meal.)

Other times, the church brought food. God always had provision even in the bleakest of times.

Granny is an inspiration, allowing God to use her even now when her health is not great, but her spirit is strong.

Always remember, God, not government or employers, is the source of our provision.

Do any of you have a story about how God provided for you during a rough time?
Share with us if you do.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

God Heals Emotions AND the Body

Since my Wednesday posts are about weight loss, fitness, and both emotional and physlical healing, I decided to give you my back cover blurb for Divine Dining

I lost ninety-five pounds and have maintained the loss for seventeen years. One tool in my recovery remains the daily reading of inspirational books. I found my library incomplete when I searched for one that combined a twelve-step program with God as the Higher Power. The biggest secret to my success was giving up my will and letting God do it through me. I wrote a book of daily devotions that came from my journals and memories. This is one woman’s road for success. I pray these thoughts help others reach the same healing God gave to me. It’s all about God.

Each page gives a devotional thought, a Scripture and a prayer to
help us stay connected with the Lord while we lose or maintain weight.

Here are a few of the devotion titles:

1. Repairer of Broken Walls
2. The Protection of the Wren Cactus
3. Call Me a Mule
4. Stuffed but Starved
5. It's Just Food
6. Why Doesn't God Help Every Time?

Since I began my journey to emotional health, I have read something
every day to keep my thoughts on God and away from excess food. This new concept of combining my memories and God's inspiration with the teaching of twelve-step programs led to the formation of Divine dining.

Do you struggle with food as a priority in your life?
Have you tried every diet plan in existence?
That was my story 19 years ago, and I'm here to say, God still heals.

Watch for exerpts next week.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Reaching Non Christians by Laura Popp

Today, Writing with Hope, welcomes Laura Popp. She has served as a missionary to Asia. The picture is Laura dressed in costume.
Doesn't she look like a true maiko from Japan? She agreed to write a post for us that should help both our writing and witnessing for Christ.

Reaching Non-Christians

While working in Asia as a missionary, I strove to understand my “people group,” the Japanese. It wasn’t until I returned to the States that I realized I could do that with my writing. Instead of considering a “target audience,” I started seeing my potential readers as the “people group” God called me to. It’s my prayer that these five steps will help you define your “people group” and write for them.
1.) Know Them
I write young adult fantasy. When I imagine my average reader, I picture a teenage girl with a rebellious streak who believes a post-modernist view of religion (anything goes; it’s all cool). She’s searching for her destiny and purpose. So I hang out at anime and fantasy conventions. I spend time with Twilight and Hunger Games fans and check out their websites. I learn how they think, engage them in discussion, and work that into my books. To write for young adults, I have to love young adults and think like them.
2.) Less is More (Don’t Preach)
Christian authors often think that to relay a Christian message, it must be explained. In my novel Treasure Traitor, a character named Charis tells the protagonist Renagada that “King suffered in our place.” I didn’t spell out that King is Jesus. Nor did I explain the Greek meanings of characters’ names, except when it felt natural and pertained to the story. (Charis means “grace,” but Renagada only learns that through the course of their friendship.) I trusted the reader (and God) to let metaphors speak for themselves. Renagada doesn’t even believe (in the first book) that King’s sacrifice applies to her. For Rena to make that leap so soon would have felt forced.
3.) Story first
There’s nothing more annoying than commercials. When you take time out of your story to throw in something Christian, that’s how non-Christian readers view it. Whatever message you have should flow naturally from well-established characters or plot.
4.) Avoid “Christianese”
Words like “saved,” “born again,” “in the spirit” and “providence” may be steeped with meaning for believers, but to non-Christians you’re speaking another language. Avoid words you wouldn’t use outside a faith context. I even avoid the term “Christian” in Treasure Traitor, since that can have negative connotations for my people group. Know who you’re writing for.
5.) Author interaction
“Connect” is the latest buzz word. We can view social media as a golden opportunity to reach out to readers. Include “extras” on your website or in the book itself like discussion questions and chapter-by-chapter playlists. At the end of Treasure Traitor, I list several songs by Christian artists that my people group can relate to.
I challenge you to view your writing as a mission. Understand your people group and write for them.

Laura’s debut novel Treasure Traitor was published by Written World Communications this November. You can learn more about her books, articles, and travels or order Treasure Traitor on her website,

You can purchase her book at amazon:

Wow, Laura, your article gave me good food for thought. When I taught junior high and middle grades, I alwasy knew. "They don't care how much you know if they know how much you care." I was reminded of that when I read your 1st item. I wish you well on "Treasure Traitor." I'm anxious to read it. Thanks for sharing with me and writing with hope viewers. God bless you.

I apologize to Laura and to my viewers for not getting my post up earlier in the day like normal on Saturday. A writing deadline interfered. Can I hear an "Amen?"

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Emotion permeates our actions, body language, and words.

My emotions spur me to better living or worse reactions. Some people appear grounded in fact, not feelings, but are they really? Facts can be altered to meet our worldview, our beliefs, or our interpretation.

WRITING TIPS Regarding Emotion

Emotion deepens our writing. Until we make the reader feel for our character, he or she won't like what we write.

Understated emotion in our stories hurts worse than allowing us to see the character cry unless we've proven that the character never cries.

Withhold the showing of emotion. Wait. Wait.

Tantilize us with episodes of fear that turn out okay. Produce a longing for love that remains unfulfilled. Build the anger to a fever pitch.

Name several things that would sadden your character. Bring to pass the worst things on your list. Make the reader sense the full brunt of shock.

In my family, we have a saying, "Murphy's Law." That means if it can get worse, it does. Be mean to your protagonist. Put them in a maze, and watch them crawl out in their own power.

In writing inspirational fiction, the writer takes the form of the devil seeking to tempt the protagonist beyond their ability to stand. Then, show God overcoming the devil through that person.


Emotion is tied to compulsions and addictions. For other compulsive overeaters out there like me, how many times have you binged because you were sad, anxious, or happy?

Each day give your life, your will, your choices to God.

Allow God to heal your emotions. Bouncing from the highs to the lows wears you out and prevents God's control.

Reward yourself with a non-food item when you conquer a difficult situation.

Thank God as soon as you realize you've had a God moment where His power took over your compulsion.

Spend quiet time alone with God every day.

Pour out your emotions (tears, fears, anger, resentments) like Mary's costly perfume at Jesus' feet. Giving them up can cost more that monetary involvement.

How do your emotions affect your eating?
How can using those emotions on paper improve your writing?

Saturday, November 24, 2012


Power-hungry men and women do strange things. Young women marry or have an affair with old, powerful men. Otherwise nice individuals tear apart coworkers to reach the top, or get the sale. People lie, cheat, or steal for fame.

Power possesses people.
Power corrupts.
Power makes us sell our souls.

What power do we truly have?
Think about it, and let me know your ideas.

Life thwarts every effort to obtain and retain power or control.

I retain power to react in an appropriate manner despite the trials that come my way.

I can choose to be happy regardless of turmoil.

I can decide what type work I begin to do.

I can decide how much effort to expend for success.

I can determine my friends.

Other things I have power over:
1. how much I sleep
2. how much I eat
3. what I say
4. what I plan

Even in these things, power can be stripped from us by illness, bad people, storms.

The only true power comes from God.

Only He never fails.

In addictions or compulsions more than any place are we faced with our powerlessness. When we can't conquer even the simplest elements in life like killing ourselves with drugs, alcohol, or gluttony, we submit to being powerless. In our weakness, His power sustains us.

But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

POWER - The world goes crazy for it.
God brings power to our lives.
He alone is sovereign God. He can do whatever He wants to do, and we can't stop Him. What's the power in that? How much power do we really have?
None, outside of Christ.
I spent years trying to maintain complete control over one area of my life - what I ate - and I failed.

What do you control in your life?
Only one thing can you, and you alone control, and that is your surrender to an Almighty, All-powerful God. Is it time to hold our hands over our heads and say, "I give up. Be God in my life?"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I'm thankful to all who read my blog and look at my site. I pray God's blessing on you today and through the Thanksgving holiday.

Count your blessing.
Keep the focus on God, family, and friends.
Remember food can be fun, but it's not so important in the scope of everything else.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thankful In The Valley

God commanded we be thankful in all things. How does that work?

I don't like it when I'm sick.

I like it less when a loved one is sick.

I worry when there are no resources with which to pay our bills.

Yet, God says, be thankful in all things.

The secret lies in the preposition used. We may not be thankful for all things, but we can be thankful in all things.

When we camped outside Ruidosa, New Mexico, we traveled out across the desert to the White Sands National Momument. (see another post about the White Sands). That phenomena is situated on flat desert land.
Three mountain ranges lift their peeks to overlook the flat land. From south, east, or west of White Sands, the traveler can see the mountain tops. Only from the north, can the high ground not be seen.
Mountain peeks of life are like that northern viewpoint. We trudge valleys of distress without a view of any mountains in sight, but they're there. God promised us mountains. He promised to walk with us through the valley and over the mountains.

Once upon a time, years of depression took a toll on me. I could see no mountain in sight. God healed my emotions and then we dropped off the peak and into a time of sorrow at the loss of our baby granddaughter. We loved the high of pride loving her and watching her for eight days, but then came the valley. We shuffled our way through that only to be plunged again to the depths of bankruptcy, despondency, and the wavering of our faith.

Now that I'm older, I can say that for every valley, we climbed another mountain. Like southern New Mexico, another mountain range lies ahead even if it's not close enough to be seen yet.

Because I trust there is another mountain, I can be grateful during or in the longest valley--a thought that warms my heart at the time of Thanksgiving.

How do you make it through the rough times with gratitude in the valley?

Another post I like about gratitude in:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thanksgiving Do's and Don't's

Thanksgiving day approaches. I love this holiday. Our focus should remain on counting our blessings. Many on FaceBook count one or more blessings each day of November. Though this should be a year-round activity, this special effort enhances the season of gratitude. Too often, compulsive overeaters dwell on the food.
The Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving said thanks for the food, but mostly for their survival. We need to focus more on family, friends, and faith, and less on food.

I do thank God for the turkey and pie, but I realize that for me, like many others, it's scary because we don't trust ourselves to control our eating. We fear eating Thanksgiving treats will bring on an eating binge that will last until January. How many pounds could be gained over that 5-6 week period?

The New York Times reports the average weight gain between Thanksgiving and Christmas is 7-10 pounds. For a person who's lost ninety-five, gaining seven pounds terrifies me.
Here's a list of Do's and Don't's that help me:

Do Give the problem and your will to God every day. Quiet time honoring the Lord lightens our load and minimizes our cravings.

Do Visualize what you'll eat. See the portions you put on your plate. In your mind, push back the plate when you finish, or throw a napkin over what's left. Scoot back your chair. Move to another place to continue talking to those not finished. Plan how you will handle it when your mother or aunt asks you to taste her dish. What will you say? How will you act?

Do Prioritize your foods. What is the one thing you can't do without on the holiday? If it's pie, which one? What are you willing to cut out to make room for that. I must have cornbread dressing, so I lighten it with less fat, and eat a big serving, but I leave off mashed potatoes and broccoli, cheese, and rice casserole, and rolls.

Do Wear slacks or jeans that fit a bit snug. It's harder to overeat when the waistband restricts, but easier with an expandable stretch.

Do Prepare vegetable salad and fruit salad to power-fill your appetite and decrease your hunger. Leave out the nuts and creams and use low-fat dressings.

Do After the clean-up, take a walk or challenge half the group to a football or volleyball game.

Do Reward yourself with a non-food item after you follow your plan.

Don't Go into Thanksgiving without a plan to eat at least one thing you're excited about having.

Don't Allow others to fix everything without you adding a dish or two that fills you up, not out.

Don't Forget to pray about your selections.

Don't Eat the same meal twice. If your big Thanksgiving meal is at lunchtime, add some of the turkey to a salad for dinner. If you fix big at dinner, eat a big breakfast with light snacks every four hours so as not to get too hungry.

Don't Leave out fresh fruits and veggies.

Don't Eat dessert with the dinner. Wait, anticipate. Eat it when everyone else snacks 2-3 hours after the meal. Savor.

Don't Put yourself down because you ate more than you planned. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again. (as an old song says).

In case you don't follow Hungry Girl, I highly recommend it. Here's the link to her on twitter.
Another good blog on eating Christ's way is:

If you have some suggestions you could share, I would appreciate them.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Back Story

Writers talk a lot about back story or what happened before the story began.

Think of meeting a person for the first time when they're fifty years old. How do they appear to you? What made them say something like that? Why does he/she get mad over that? We can only guess. The more time we spend with the new acqauintance the more we understand their back story. We grow to like or dislike who that person is.

My husband and I are on a short trip with our RV as our home while we visit both immediate family and extended family.

I am an only child, but while my mother worked, I spent summers and after school with my aunt and her family. Aunt Charlene had five children. How I loved being there. My mother and dad doted on me and spoiled me rotten, but I missed the joy of a boisterous big family. At Aunt Charlene's house, I cherished that feeling. I had three brothers and two sisters. Beverly, at five years younger than me, idolized her big cousin. She followed me around and begged to spend the night with me. I couldn't shake her. I longed to run with the big boys more my age or older. I visited my cousin Beverly on this trip. I haven't seen her for two years. I got to see her new grandbaby.

Cousin Beverly is big part of my life. We relished memories and told tall tales of when we were young. I include her in my back story.

My mother-in-law is a widow. My father-in-law's sister, Joanna, lives across the street, but the other sister, Doris lives about an hour away. When my husband, Charles, was a child, three generations lived in a big house together on Ervay St in Dallas, TX. Yesterday, we picked up Charles' mother and aunt and drove to the other aunt's house. All three ladies are widows. It was like a small Brown reunion.

Joanna and Doris belong in Charles backstory and mine too since we married.

We've visited with all three daughters, all three grandkids and so far, one of the sons-in-law. They, too, belong in our story; something you might not know when you first meet me.

When you start a book, learn your characters back story, but don't tell the reader. Let them get acquainted with them and learn for themselves what makes them react like they do.

Whether you're a writer or a reader, what's your back story? How does it affect your personality, reactions, viewpoints?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

7 Steps to Better

A coach once said, "We don't talk about winning and losing. We talk about getting a little better every day, about being the best we can be, and about being a team. If we do that, winning and losing takes care of themselves."

When I lost my ninety-five pounds, I needed daily affirmation. I made small changes every day, sometimes every hour. After nineteen years of maintaining, I strive for small changes every month. Little by little, I grow healthier and thinner. Here are some of those small changes:

1. More fruits and vegetables.
For one who didn't like vegetables, that has been a series of small steps, but I've come a long way.

2. Increased activity.
I found things I like to do like line dancing and visiting with friends and incorporated them into my exercise plan.

3. Less carbohydrates
Striving for only one serving a day of pasta, corn, or potatoes makes losing easier.

4. Add two teasponons of olive oil or canola oil daily.
When I eat the oil, the hunger is less.

5. Cut down to one carbonated soda a day.
I was a person who drunk diet Coke and ate fudge. On a diet, or not on a diet, I drunk six-seven diet sodas a day. They cause me to retain water, make me feel hungrier, and increase my cravings for sweets. This seems like a small step, but for me, it was a major change.

6. Go for broiled, grilled, stewed, but very little fried anything.
Fried food clogs our arteries and puts on weight. Lightened coatings can still be added for more flavor.

7. Try new foods.
Variety increases our interest and thereby our staying power.

What small changes have you made?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Are You Acclimated?

Have you, as a Christian, acclimated to your environment? Do you no longer blush at sexual language on TV, or look aghast when a curse word is used? Do you turn the TV off when something offends you?

Recently, (as many of you know who follow my blog) we spent days in the gorgeous mountains around Ruidosa, New Mexico. The weather was perfect. One day warmed quickly. By ten, we decided to go up the mountain to the town of Cloudcroft. The last time we visited there in the fall, we found snow. I wore jeans, a long sleeve shirt, and my favorite Ugg boots. I carried my all-purpose coat believing the higher elevation would chill me.

We wore our coats as we toured the town. Cold wind blasted through the gift shops and cafes. Natives buzzed around with short sleeves. One man wore shorts, and a shopkeeper left the store in a halter top. Since these people lived in the higher elevation, they had become accustomed to the cooler air. They would be hot in Ruidosa, while I was more comfortable. For those who weren't raised there, the adjustment probably didn't come overnight, but gradually, it did come.

Charles and I love to hike in the mountain air, but we must start slowly. The thin air causes us to huff and pant the first day. We can walk farther the second day, but it takes three days to be able to climb a mountain trail.

I'm reminded of the story of the frog in the boiling pot. He won't jump into it when it's boiling, but place him in the cool pan of water and turn up the heat and that frog will fry.

The devil knows my weakness. He hooks me on an interesting drama. When I get where I anticipate seeing the show, he adds more corruption with each week. I fall in love with certain entertainers and then continue to watch them or listen to them after their example is shattered. I support favorite teams, but when top players act in an inappropriate way, do I still laud their athletic abilities?

Though America strives to dispel everything Godly from it's ranks, do we stand up for Jesus? I mentioned some ways I've realized I fell short in this. Can you think of ways you've acclimated to this secular trend? Post your ideas.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Who's Your Daddy, Now?

I might ask, "Who's Your Daddy God, now?"

The words of a popular song and the gist of a local commercial reminds me to double check my life. Who do I worship today? What comes first in my life, now? How do my thoughts reveal my priorities?

Elijah challenged the prophets of Ba`al and won. God's fire burned the sacrifice on the altar and the water around it. Elijah advised the people of Israel with these words, "If the Lord be God, follow him; but if Ba'al, then follow him." (1 Kings 18:21)

Is the Lord allowed to be God in your life? Addictions, habits, or scars of the past can lead you to put other things in the place of God. In Bible times, they were warned against idolatry. In America, we think that doesn't apply to us, but I know better.

When I dwell on donuts all morning, when I plan my next meal before one is finished, when I devise schemes to hide my secret stash of candy, I bow before the idol of food.

Stop and think. What's on your mind? When you wake in the night, what stirs in your thoughts? An idol is anything that replaces God in our desires, our thoughts, and our heart. It might be a person or place. It could be presecription drugs that you overuse, or alcoholic beverages that you crave.

Our bodies require nourishment. You may require medicine. God cautions us to use moderation even in good things.

Lord, today, keep my mind on You. Let food take its proper place. As the saying goes, help me eat to live, not live to eat. God says "Have no other gods before me."

Who's your daddy God, now?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Out of Ashes

On the way to Cloudcroft, New Mexico, we spotted miniature forests. Fire devastated the area a few years ago. Now trees, no taller than me at five feet, four inches, grow thick and beautiful. It was a reminder of God's provision for new life.

About ten years ago, my husband and I endured a difficult time. Both family and financial problems stressed us. Then, our church fell apart. We searched for hope on a bleak landscape. We vacationed in Eureka Spring, Arkansas, toured an art gallery, and discovered an artist named Jesse Barnes.
For the first time in our lives, we spent a lot of money on an original painting. In this picture, fire shoots around green trees. A full moon glints light over the rippling pond. Tiny trees reach for the sky on an island out from the bank's fire-induced destruction. The title of the painting is "Out of Ashes."

That painting ministers to me daily, but never more than when troubles tests my faith.

When we drove the winding road from Ruidosa up two thousand more feet to Cloudcroft, those tiny trees brought my mind to that painting. Though small, the trees were thick with foliage and dressed in their autumn finery.

Out of the ashes of turmoil, God gives hope.

I love writing about hope. New beginnings excite me. New life, whether it's in trees or people, warms my heart.

What ministers to you about God's hope?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Walking is Good Stuff

Have you considered the good old-fashioned walk? With the fall temperatures, a walk in the neighborhood, a park, or even a school track sounds inviting. If you're trying to lose weight, it becomes downright imperative.

An old Weight Watcher friend (or maybe I should say long-term, not old) sent me an e-mail with the benefits of walking. Wow, the length of the list blew me away. I had never thought about how beneficial it was. Many think they must jog or go to a gym and use the exercise equipment to receive real-time help.

Look at this list and rethink walking.

1. Increases aerobic capacity
2. Easy on the joints
3. Burns almost as many calories as jogging.
4. Eases back pains
5. Reduces bad cholesterol
6. Reduces risk of heart attack
7. Slims your waist
8. Lowers blood pressure
9. Increases stamina
10. Bolsters energy level
11. Lessens anxiety and tension
12. Reduces appetite
13. Gets your mind off eating
14. Can be combined with interval exercises or jogging
15. Slows down bone loss
16. Can be done anywhere (traveling, on lunch hour)
17. Improves muscle tone
18. Can be done in short bouts with little time

Praise God for small changes. It can make a lot of difference in our health and our weight. Walking is a good, small change to consider.

Good book Walk in Dry Placesby by Mel B. is a good devotion book for ones struggling with the emotional problem of food addiction. Hazelden Publications published this book.

The weather is gorgeous in Wichita Falls, Texas today. Time to go for a walk.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

No Water in White Sands

How do animals, insects, and snakes survive in White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, USA with no water? I never thought about it until our recent visit there.

We intruded in the home of the foxes and rodents. We trudged through deep granules more like salt than sand. We read the signs provided by our rangers and nature guides that offered insights into God's White Sands world.

When tourists enter the park, the first sign tells them there's no water past that point. After I read that, my throat felt dry. My husband and I climbed the first available path over a tall dune. A fox picture on a sign thrust us into his world. One of the guide signs informed us that since there was no lakes or rivers or water of any kind, the animals lived on the blood of other animals. That thought is gross, but imagine how God provided for his smallest creatures even there.

Our feet sunk. Signs warned us not to venture off the marked path or attempt to tunnel through the sand. The fluent texture sifted through our hands like table salt, and crumpled with the slightest pressure.

About a mile into our hike, we spotted Cottonwood trees. Their branches lay on the flowing gypsum dunes without the tall trunk that reaches to the sky in Texas. We found another sign that told us that in truth, water did lay three feet below us. In that waterless world, where animals and insects lived without water, the cottonwood had stretched its roots underground until they found the hidden supply. With their roots in water, they grew toward the sun until their top branches draped across our white path. By reaching for water, they grew like a mighty bush for all to see.

In that forlorn land, God spoke to me. How many times have I walked through depression or grief. I could see no water, no life, no sun. I endeavored to tough it out in a dark, empty land through the only way I saw available. Yet, God is there, only three feet away all the time. If I stretch my spirit to touch His Spirit, I, like the cottonwoods in White Sands, could reach for the sunshine and more quickly thrive through God's taste of water.

Here's a map I found online to show where in New Mexico, the White Sands National Monument is. It's near Alamagordo in central New Mexico between three major mountain peaks.

By the way, when we left the park, the fist thing I did was to stop at the gift shop and buy a bottle of water. I never enjoyed water more than then.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Barn Door Book Loft: Welcome Christian Author, Janet K. Brown

The Barn Door Book Loft: Welcome Christian Author, Janet K. Brown: Janet K. Brown is here to talk about her paranormal Young Adult book. Please read on to learn more about her and what inspired the book. ... Leave it to me. I completely missed this post. Thank you,Sharon Lavy. Sorry, I didn't find it earlier.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

11 Ways to Increase Exercise on Vacation

When I travel, weight gain plagues me. New and different foods are a huge factor in the pleasure of my trips. Eating enhances my enjoyment. I look forward to certain ethnic or geographical treats.

Another element of gaining weight comes from too little activity. We sit in a car. We sit on a plane or in the airport. We recline in easy chairs and visit friends or family. We sit and read or watch shows.

Activity must be increased purposely. While on my fall vacation with our travel trailer, I dreamed up new ways to move my body. It was either that or not try favorite local restaurants. That isn't going to happen.

Here's ways I've thought of to move more:

1. Every time I stop for gas, walk around the station, or step up on the curb and down again twenty repetitions.

2. Carry 1 to 3 lb weights and do bicep curls while riding.

3. Take nightly walks in the neighborhood or recreational vehicle parks.

4. When rain shuts you in your cabin or trailer, do twenty kicks and squats twice daily.

5. When making hotel reservations, check on the exercise room. Take advantage of it each night or each morning.

6. In the summer, watch for stops with swimming pools even though you no longer have kids at home that beg for that. Swim laps or do water aerobics before retiring.

7. While waiting at the airport, pretend you're about to miss your flight. Run from one end of the terminal to the other, case in hand.

8. Take equipment for activity such as a tennis racket and ball, volleyball, or basketball. Is there a horseshoe-throwing game to the side of your cabin?

9. Walk the golf course instead of spending money on a cart.

10. Love shopping? Walk the strip of gift shops. In a city, find a mall and loop twice to see what stores are available. If something in a window catches your eye, walk back to that store.

11. Challenge each other to climb a mountain or make a trudge through the White Sands National Monument or on through the sands on the Florida beach.

That's my suggestions. Send me yours. Please. I'm desperate. I want to eat.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Dialogue Isn't Just Talking

Here is my diagnosis for making dialogue dynamic:

D Different Goals
The best dialogue comes when two characters desire
different goals from the conversation. This increases the

I Interview your characters
Find out how they would answer certain questions even if
the questions aren’t posed in your manuscript. This
deepens your knowledge of a character’s reaction.

A Action
Fiction and non-fiction are similar to stage plays.
Dialogue is more than words. We need gestures, body
language, even moments of silence to set the stage.

L Listen to your characters talk
Each character should have a distinctive manner
so readers recognize the speech without putting the
name to the line of talk. Educated/use slang? Pet
names? Recurrent phrases?

O Out loud reading
Prose and poetry have meter. When you read
your work out loud, does it have rhythm, cadence,
and energy? Is it missing a word or is it three words
too long? You can only tell by reading it out loud.

G Go along with the story
Dialogue should fit your story-does it show tension
when applicable? Does it fit the mood-teasing & light
or dark and heavy? The shorter the piece, the more
important to inject a sense of time and place.

U Use of dialogue
Dialogue only has three uses.
1. Move the story along.
2. Intensify characterization
3. Both
If none of this apply, take out the dialogue.

E Eliminate words
Dialogue should be concise. Eliminating words that
we’ve slaved over and think are beautiful is hard,
but sometimes necessary to strengthen.
One part of speech to eliminate almost totally is
Adverbs—like almost totally.
Beats or tags? Which is best?
Beats – gestures/body language
Tags - he said
Sometimes using neither is best.

Summary advice to helping your dialogue:
1. Read every day from your favorite writers- both in your
chosen genre and in other genres.
2. Periodically read or reread a writing craft book or take an online
course. Go to our group blog for further helps:
3. Write something every day even if you delete and restart.

Remember the letters that spell out DIALOGUE to strengthen the talking in you sotry.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

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Comment now through Oct. 3. On Oct.4, we'll draw one name from the comments. Winner receives a free copy of Victoria and the Ghost.

On that same blog, you'll find an excerpt from the book to give you a taste.

I also have part of one of the devotions coming up in a devotion book for compulsive overeaters. See what you think. Let me know.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I must be the only one who returned from ACFW conference with no pictures. I left my camera at home, crazy, untech person that I am. Though I didn't get my picture with some of my favorite authors and publishers, I cherish every memory from those four days.

Thank you to Margaret Daley, Brandolyn Collins and the entire team who made this conference happen. God guided every word and action. I came away with a better knowledge of what lies ahead of me.

I received requests for my new romance. Yeah!

Encouragement came through Fay Lamb, Laura Holland/Stolmeier, Linda Yezak, Tara Johnson, Karen Gaus and far more wonderful people than I can list.

Rubbing shoulders with the greats of Christian fiction does nothing but spur on my own efforts to write the words God gives me.

Again, a big thank-you to God who placed an unknown woman in the prayer room when I needed a hug from God.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Lesson I Learned at ACFW so far

Acts 20:35 "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

Now, half way through ACFW conference, the main take-away for me has been that Jesus gave us the best marketing strategy. The verse above sums up Jesus' advice.

It's been a bitter wake-up call for me. It's really not all about me. Imagine that. With trembling hands, I erupted in tears. I left the praise and worship and ran for the prayer room to pour out my heart to a Lord who forever stands waiting for His children to notice Him and ask His forgiveness.

One sweet lady waited. "Are you allright?"

"I'm fine," I told her.

"Could you use a hug?"

I nodded.

With the lady's arms wrapped around me in Jesus' stead, He forgave and charged me to go and be His servant.

When my first book released, I knew I was now my officer in charge of marketing. I hawked the book as if I were a used car salesman or one from a cut-rate furniture store. Every class, every song, every speaker has denounced my methods. Our keynote speaker, Michael Hyatt, said to receive one follower, we must help twenty.

Lord, give me a servant's heart, and guide me to whome I might be of assistance.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I'm off to ACFW. What an exciting place to be for a Christian writer. I'm thankful it's in my back yard (250 miles away) in Dallas, Texas. This conference is a biggie. People come from all over the world to network and learn. Editors and agents come looking for new clients. Authors, both old and new, attend for continuing education in the writing craft and find recognition for their stories.

I love reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. There's nothing like the feeling of "talking" with someone online for months or years and finally seeing that friend as a real-life person.

Despite all these good things, the best comes from communing with the Lord in a new and fresh manner. The praise and worship of hundreds of writers who call on the name of Christ, though from different denominations and homelands, must be a prelude to heaven. A prayer room stands ready for us to take a break and pray about situations or conflicts that arise. (We're human, after all.) I go searching for God's will and find Him ready to meet and guide me through the next year.

Four days of God and writers. I can hardely wait. Lord, send me to those to whom I can minister or encourage, and that will be enough.

Watch for further posts about activities, workshops, and comrades.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Salute to America

On this the eleventh anniversary of the bombing on 9/11, I wish to salute my country.

In America, I can go to the church of my choice and praise God in a manner I like without worrying that an army will break down the doors and set fire to the sanctuary.

I can criticize the policies of my president without fear of being jailed.

I have the freedom to plan my life, to write what I like, to speak as I wish, and do as I want as long as I don't hurt others.

I can vote and participate in the determination of my leaders.

I am free to pursue my dream, and in America, they can still come true.

Praise God for the idea and reality of America. May her flag wave for another hundred years over the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I send this as a tribute to those who lost loved ones on 9/11 and as a message of gratitude to those who fight today around the world for my liberty.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jim Callan tells us Why We Need A Critique Partner

I wish to introduce James R. Callas, the author of Sweet Adelines and Father Frank mysteries. I "met" Jim on the online loop for American Christian Fiction Writers. Thank you, Jim for visiting us today on my Writing with Hope blog and for instructing us on the wisdom of selecting a critique partner.

Why do I need a critique partner?

The answer is basically the same as one would give to, “Why do I need an editor?”

The answer is simple. We cannot see our own mistakes.

There are two reasons for this. One, we may not know we’re making a mistake. Unless we are very experienced in writing in the specific area of our current work, there are things we may not know or understand. For instance, if I write a mystery, there will be certain police or medical procedures I don’t know about. Some I will research. Others I don’t understand that I need to.

There may be basic accepted practices of writing I don’t know. As an example, I might not know how to handle internalization. Do I use quotes, italics, first or third person, present or past tense, attribution?

The worse aspect of this is you may not know you don’t know. You do what you think is correct. Checking on what is accepted never enters your mind.

The second reason we can’t see our own mistakes is that our mind knows what we intend, and if our fingers don’t accomplish this, our mind will. I can write a sentence and leave out an important word. But when I read that sentence, my mind will automatically supply the missing word. I am not even aware that a word is missing.

A good critique partner can help on both of those. Ideally, she’ll know the area in which you are weak. If not, perhaps she may question your choice and cause you to do more checking. And when she reads the sentence in which you left out a word, her mind will not supply it. She will immediately see that you have left out a word.

The same thing is true of certain spelling errors. A spellchecker won’t catch many spelling problems. If you put down “your” when you need “you’re,” the spellchecker won’t catch it but your critique partner will. You type “there” when you mean “their”—no help from spellchecker. But the dependable critique partner will circle it in red.

There are two points I must make before I close. First, you need a good critique partner. You are not looking for someone to pat you on the back and say, “That’s the best thing I’ve ever read.” You need one who is knowledgeable in writing, particularly in your area. You need one who will catch the mistakes and tell you what they think you need to do to improve the writing. The second point is, you must be willing to listen objectively. I’m not saying you must follow all suggestions. You must consider all suggestions and then implement those that make sense to you, that fit your style. Remember, the partner is not criticizing you, rather trying to help you improve your writing.

So select a critique partner carefully. Work closely with her. And both of you can become better writers.

That's good advice. I treasure my own critique partners. I couldn't do without them. Jim, tell us about your latest release. I love mysteries.

Cleansed by Fire, by James R. Callan

Churches are burning and a man is murdered, plunging a small Texas town into a state of fear. Father Frank DeLuca, pastor of Prince of Peace Church, is thrust into an impossible dilemma when he hears that another church will be burned. But the disturbing information comes to him via the confessional, and church law forbids him from telling anyone—even the police.

He doesn’t know which church, when, or by whom. Still, he can’t sit idly by, and no law prevents him from looking into the matter himself. The crimes have set the town’s residents on edge, fraying the bonds of trust. Is the mysterious newcomer with ties to the drug scene involved? What about the man who says maybe the churches deserved to burn? Or the school drop-out into alcohol and drugs who attacks the priest with a knife?

Countering this are a young widow whose mission is to make others shine, and a youth choir determined to help those whose churches have been destroyed by the arsonist.

Father Frank’s investigation leads him dangerously close to the local drug scene and he soon discovers the danger has come to him. Can he save his own church? Can he save his own life?
In paperback and Kindle editions on at:

Jim, would you tell my readers more about yourself and where they can find you online?

James R. Callan took a degree in English, intent on writing. He went to graduate school in mathematics to support a family and mathematics became a thirty-year detour from writing. He has received grants from the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Data Processing Management Association. He has been listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science, and Two Thousand Notable Americans.

But writing was his first love. He has published a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction, and picked up several awards along the way. Cleansed by Fire, 2012, is the first of the Father Frank mysteries. Murder a Cappella, a Sweet Adelines Mystery, was released in April by Wayside Press. Callan wrote this mystery with one of his daughters, Diane Bailey, a well published YA author.

Callan lives with his wife in east Texas and Puerto Vallarta. They have four grown children and six grand children. A Sweet Adelines mystery. Book Trailer at: A Father Frank mystery. Book Trailer at:

Thank you for being my guest today. I know my readers will enjoy making your acquaintance and checking out your latest novel. I know I look forward to it.