Saturday, January 31, 2015

An Interview with Author Kelly Irvin


Today, I welcome to "Writing with God's Hope" blog author, Kelly Irvin. I'm excited to learn more about her, and I think you'll enjoy her answers.

 

Tell us something of your writing journey?

I always wanted to be a novelist, from the time I was a child. But I grew up in a working class family and I knew it was important that I be able to get a job and support myself so I earned a degree in journalism and became a newspaper reporter. Then I got married and had children and the years passed. On my forty-fifth birthday, I woke up and realized I might never reach my dream if I didn’t get a move on. So I squeezed in writing my first novel with a full time job in public relations and two children in middle school and my marriage. It took another seven years, but I finally published my first romantic suspense novel at the age of fifty-two. I almost gave up several times along the way, but God blessed me with a supportive husband and an agent, Mary Sue Seymour, who never gave up so I stayed the course. Mary Sue urged me to try Amish romances after I published two romantic suspense novels. At first, I was hesitant, but she was so sure it was the right move for me, I gave it a shot and she sold the first book, To Love and To Cherish, to Harvest House before I finished writing it. I now have two series with Harvest House and a new series that starts next year with Zondervan/HarperCollins. It’s been an incredible journey.

 
What an inspiration to us all to not give up. Is there a favorite spiritual theme in your writing?

It seems that I always come back to two things: forgiveness and grace. The Amish are great role models for forgiveness. The tragic shooting at a school house several years ago received a tremendous amount of publicity when the Amish families who lost daughters forgave the man who killed them. That set me to thinking about what could I forgive and did I live out that fundamental Christian tenet. Just because we believe in forgiveness, doesn’t mean it comes easily. That was the basis for my first Amish romance, To Love and to Cherish. God’s grace covers us and he forgives us even though we fall short of his perfection over and over again. We are called to do the same for others, but it can be a tough road to travel.
 

What books have you read recently?

I mostly read mysteries and romantic suspense, but I never miss books by historical fiction writer Allison Pittman. I love her most recent historical novel All for a Story, which is a Christy Award finalist this year. Allison has such a great style and her characters are always memorable. This novel takes place during the Roaring Twenties, which is fun. Plus this one is about a newspaper gossip columnist and the man who inherits the tabloid for which she works. He tries to change the paper into something more wholesome and she resists. It was a great read for a former journalist.
 

What other interests do you have besides writing?

I love to read, of course, and I enjoy spending time with my children and my nine-month-old granddaughter whenever I can. I have a full-time job in public relations so I don’t have much time to do anything else other than write and spend time with family.

 

What is your writing routine?

I go to the office early and get some writing done before I’m on the clock at 7:45 a.m. Then, whenever I can, I close my office door at lunch time and write for as long as I can. Whatever time I can squeeze in on evenings and weekends, I do. Because I was a newspaper reporter, I’m used to writing fast and on deadline so I make it work.

 

What song best describes you?

“Sweetly Broken” by Jeremy Riddle comes to mind. It really speaks to how far I had to fall before I could come crawling back to the cross and the wonderful affirmation that God would take me back, no matter what I’d done or where I’d been.

 

Have you ever felt like giving up?  If so, how did you get through it?

As I mentioned earlier, it took seven years to get my first contract. I was so exhausted from working full time and trying to be a wife and a mother as well, I began to wonder if God intended for me to have this fiction writing career. I wondered if I should be writing mainstream novels instead of inspirational novels. It’s a bigger market and more possibilities for the kind of gritty romantic suspense I was writing at the time. Finally, one Sunday I sat in the pew at church and I prayed for God to show me the way, to give me a sign, to tell if I should stop or keep going or do something different. Three days later my agent called with a contract offer. It’s all in God’s hands and it’s all about his timing. I have to keep reminding myself of that even now. People think because an author receives one contract, he or she has it made. But it’s always about the next contract so that an author can build on that momentum and build a following of readers. I try not to get wrapped up in that, but rather to focus on the writing and let God take the helm. It’s the only thing that works.

 

What’s your favorite Scripture verse?

Micah 7:18-19, the verse I used for the second book in the New Hope Amish series, Love Redeemed.  These verses remind us that God’s grace is unending. He will forgive. We need only ask and be repentant. My lack of perfection makes this a very comforting scripture!

Who is a God like you who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?

You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

You will again have compassion on us;

You will tread our sins underfoot

and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

 
Beautiful verse, Kelly.
What’s next for you?

 
I have a new series that I’m very excited about. The Amish of Bee County is set in Bee County, Texas, home of the only Amish district in the state. It’s very small and rustic. The first book, The Beekeeper’s Son, comes out in January and I’m currently writing the second book, which has the working title of The Bishop’s Son. I think Amish fiction readers will enjoy it because it’s very different from what you typically see in Amish fiction. The Beekeeper’s Son examines the difference between what the world says is beautiful and what God sees as beautiful.
 
 
I see on your site that good reviews for The Beekeeper's Son are coming in. Sounds like a must-read, Kelly.
 
 
 
 
Thank you for an inspiring interview.. Find out more about this author at http://kellyirvin.com/index.shtml
 
 
Do you have any questions or comments for Kelly?
 
 


Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Very Inspiring Blogger Award Nominees

To accept your award, here's the rules:



1. Thank the person who nominated you.
2. Display the blogger award emblem.
3. Nominate 15 (more or less) blogs and give a link to each.
4. Go to their blog and leave a comment that you've nominated them for the inspiring blogger award.


Thanks so much to author, Beverly Stowe McClure, for nominating me for this award. I'm in awe of all the book reviews she does. In so doing she helps out a lot of us. She also puts out a line of wonderful books herself.
We were online friends that finally met for lunch one day. I so enjoyed that, Beverly. Find her at
http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com/


Here's things that inspire me:

1. A lady at my church though in her upper seventies ministers personally and in classes to so many. I watch her and think I have no excuse.

2. My husband who with kindness and patience has done everything to help me during this last month when I was sick. (Even though I was cranky and hard to live with.) He's a keeper.

3. Sunsets. One thing that North Texas is known for is beautiful sunsets. Sunsets often spark my creative juices and make me grateful to be alive.

Many blogs inspire me, but here is my nominations for the blogger award nominees.

1. Diane Gates: Moving the Ancient Barriers https://dianegates.wordpress.com/
2.L. A. Freeland  http://lafreeland.com/2015/01/08/honesty-central-getting-real/
3.Words about the Word (Cass Wessel) http://www.wordsabouttheword.com/index.html
4. A Writer's Life (Mary Beth Lee) http://www.marybethlee.com/
5.Winona Cross (Wandering and Wondering with Words) http://winonacross.blogspot.com/
6.Bonnie Lanthripe- The Next Phase https://bonnielanthripe.wordpress.com/
7. Blanche Day Manos http://www.blanchedaymanos.com/blog/
8. Books by Barnes (Crystal Barnes) http://www.booksbybarnes.com/#!blog/c1jfh
9. Patti Shene - She has 3 blogs, Teens of Today, Patti's Porch, & the Over 50 Group - http://www.pattishene.com/
10.  God is Here with Mary Hamilton http://www.maryhamiltonbooks.com/blog/
11. Heartfelt Stories of the Old West (Linda Broday) http://lindabroday.com/blog/

Okay, that's enough. Happy blogging and reading blogs to you all. I wish for you an inspiring week.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ghosts at Denton, Texas?

Who knew?

I searched for new ghost tales.

Who knew I'd learn about one less than two hours from my home. Denton, Texas (just north of Dallas) boasts its own ghost tour of the courthouse that has a gravesite on the property. Author, Shelly Cumbie Tucker conducts tours at 8 p.m. every Friday and Saturday nights throughout the year, weather permitting. Ones interested are asked to meet her at Jupiter House Coffee to the east of the haunted courthouse. She tells us there are so many ghosts stories in Denton that she tells a different tale each tour.

Tucker has released a book called Ghosts of Denton. It is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Ghosts-Denton-history-mysteries-small/dp/1500190020/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407858037&sr=8-1&keywords=ghosts+of+denton

Of course, you can buy a copy of the book when you take the scary but historical tour of downtown Denton in the dark.

Shelley Cumbie Tucker will be the featured speaker this year at the North Texas Book Festival in April. Now, that would be a good time for a ghost tour and look at books on the same day. A win-win.

I'm busy editing my latest YA in the ghost series, and researching other tales for a third book. I'm still looking for ghost stories. If you know one, leave me a comment, or e-mail me at Janet.hope@att.net



Saturday, January 24, 2015

After God's Healing, What Next?

Have you ever prayed and felt God's forgiveness wash over you and cleanse you? What a wonderful feeling! The weight of sin drops from your life. You sparkle with excitement. Your energy level expands. You're free, free indeed.

You go your merry way, living your life as before, but forgiven and clean. In a few days, or weeks, or months, new burdens build up around your soul. What happened to your freedom? Why didn't it last? God forgave you. Why did you sin again?

Discouraged over not being able to sustain our salvation, we delve further into the anger and envy that plagued us before, so that the load we carry now is heavier than it was previously. Our minds fight greater demons. Our hearts break with failure. We are farther from God, not closer.

I've sensed this problem in the realm of weight loss. My mother started me on my first diet when I was fourteen. For over thirty years, I tried every diet imaginable. Some were healthy, some were not. Often, during that time, I called out to God, "Lord, keep me from craving sweets. Help me lose weight. Make this be the diet that works."

I began each new eating plan with great assurance. In the beginning, my hope and belief that I would lose my weight, keep it off, and never struggle with this problem again rose as high as the mountains that I wished to scale when we traveled to Red River, New Mexico. In later years, my hope grew weaker because of my failures. I would begin fresh, renewed with the promises of the new diet, only to find that in a few days, weeks, or months, food consumed my mind and my life.

Once again, I ate and ate. "That diet didn't work," I declared. I gained back the pounds I had lost, plus a few extra, so that by the time I tried a new program, I was even fatter than before. My situation was worse.


    But when the unclean spirit has gone out of a man, it roams through dry (arid) places in search of rest, but it does not find any.
    Then it says I will go back to my house from which I came out. And when it arrives, it finds the place unoccupied, swept, put in order, and decorated.
    Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and make their home there. And the last condition of that man becomes worse than the first. So also shall it be with this wicked generation.
                    Matthew 12:43-45
                  The Amplified Bible

These are Jesus' own words during a sermon to His followers.

Recently, God convicted our church leaders of the need to focus more on making disciples out of those who come to the altar for salvation. New converts were leaving the altar and going back to their usual lives without the strength and understanding that the Lord longs to give them for protection and strength from the devil's snares.

When sin is removed, God must fill the gap. After salvation must come lots of studying God's Word and lots of prayer. Friends and mentors are needed for instruction and guidance in the beginning until the new convert learns to rely on his own understanding of what God is saying to him, step by step.

In my Divine Dining Weight Controllers weekly class, this is also true in the realm of following Christ in weight loss. Just as before, if we begin a new plan and take away the food that brings us comfort and love and joy, we must fill our minds with something else or the food moves back in to take its usual place.

Food is not your friend.

Food is not your enemy.

Food is just a pleasant way of getting nutrition. Period.

Put God on the throne, instead of food.

Food doesn't belong there. God does.

When you start on the path of weight loss after years of compulsive overeating, concentrate less on what you eat or don't eat (or cleaning out your bodies) but concentrate more on drawing closer to the Lord, of filling your life with His presence.

Fill those empty places in your heart with God's love.

Fill your mind with God's wisdom.

Fill your life with truth, and the truth will set you truly free.



January is a good time to begin reading a devotion book like my Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness. I find that daily reading God's Word and literature that guides us in the area of keeping our eating in God's control has helped me not only lose the 95 pounds but keep it off for nineteen years now. I recommend this to all compulsive overeaters like me.

Praise God, I'm now a recovering compulsive overeater.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Research on Guthrie, Oklahoma

It's Weird Wednesday again, and guess what? I find I need to take a trip north. Someone told me that Guthrie, Oklahoma had a ghost tour. My antenna went up.

Research takes a lot of an author's time. Even if we mostly avoid writing historical novels, like me, we can't avoid research. Even writing fiction requires research. What if someone reads your novel that knows all about that profession, or hobby, or setting? If it's inaccurate, that reader would close the book.

I wrote a YA ghost story, Victoria and the Ghost, that highlighted a real Texas ghost town, Clara. Soon, the sequel to that story, A Ghost for Shelley, will release. This book will tell about the ghost legend at the McKinney Performing Arts Center, which used to be the courthouse. It's in McKinney, Texas just north of Dallas. I began Weird Wednesday in anticipation of the new book.

So, I'm offering real ghost legends here on Wednesdays.

I researched Guthrie online and learned the following things:

1. Guthrie offers ghost tours throughout most of the year (weather permitting) every Friday and Saturday evenings.
    (Check)
2. Guthrie is 22 miles north of Oklahoma City just off I-35.
    (Check)
3. Guthrie came to be in one day.
     (Check - weird, yes, must investigate this)
4. Guests on the tour visit 6 -8 historic places.
     (Check)

Find Guthrie on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Guthrie-Oklahoma/112280128788125

Yep, I figure Guthrie, Oklahoma is about 3 hours from me, so when the weather warms up (please, Lord, soon) I intend to go on a research trip. Who knows? A new ghost story might be on my horizon.

How about you? Anyone ever been to Guthrie?
Have you ever taken a ghost tour anywhere?


Saturday, January 17, 2015

Crystal L. Barnes Tells About Anthologies and Contests

Today, I've asked award-winning author, Crystal L. Barnes, to be my guest on "Writing with God's Hope" blog. With her new anthology releasing, I asked her to tell us what it's like to be part of an anthology and to also reveal something about how she reached this point in her writing. So, Crystal, take it away.
 
 
 
Howdy, folks! Congratulations, you get to be subjected to my first guest post! I'll try not to torture you overly much but no promises.  :) 

How many of you have ever entered a contest? 'Pert near all of us, I'd assume. Now how many of you can say you actually won something from said contest? I'm sure at least half of us had to drop our raised hands. :) Trust me, I know that feeling. Thus it was a wonderful surprise when I found out my very first attempt at writing a short story landed me a contract. (Okay, now that I think about it, I did have to write a couple in high school but that was years ago.) It was a miracle somebody didn't have to come pick me up off the floor or pull me down out of the rafters. 

My short story is called Husband Hunting (I just love fun titles, don't you?), and it's one of twelve short stories chosen to be featured in the Out of the Storm anthology. It's the tale of how a rancher borrows his love's wedding dress in one last effort to prevent her from marrying the wrong man. (Ever met a man that desperate or determined? Boy, howdy! Wouldn't that be something? :) )

Out of the Storm is a compilation of our favorite stories from the 2014 Storming the Short Story contest, hosted jointly by Chalfont House Publishing’s fiction imprint HopeSprings Books and Writers on the Storm (WOTS), The Woodlands, Texas affiliate of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Writers submitted original stories around a theme, this year’s theme was storms, and the WOTS membership voted for the stories they liked best. Proceeds from the sale of this anthology go to a scholarship fund to help financially-strapped authors travel to the annual ACFW Conference, a dream for many.

I'm thrilled that my first story will be supporting such a worthy cause, and my work is getting to appear with a host of wonderful authors. Storms come to all our lives, and I love how much good God brings from them if we'll just let Him. I'm reminded of the verses from 1 Peter 4 I read just the other morning:
 
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

It's a joy to know that our troubles, our storms, don't have to be the end. With our hearts anchored in Christ Jesus, we have a certain and joyous future assured for us in heaven. 

What joys are you looking forward to in heaven?

 
 
 
 
Crystal L. Barnes is an award-winning author, who also happens to be a born-n-raised Texan. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), her local ACFW chapter, 19th Century Writers, and her local church. In 2012, she was a semifinalist in the ACFW Genesis contest.
She has a degree in Computing Science because she loves putting things into their proper place, and she enjoys writing because she gets to share her love of old-fashioned things and the Lord. When she's not writing or reading, Crystal enjoys knitting, sewing, or crocheting while watching old movies/sitcoms. I Love Lucy is one of her favorites. Find out more about Crystal at booksbybarnes.com or connect with her on Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, or Pinterest.
 
 
 
Thank you, Crystal, for sharing this. It's just the type post I love to have, filled with hope and the love of God. What encouragement that verse gives us since you are so right, there will be storms.
 
Good luck with the selling of Out of the Storm. It is a good cause. A lot of us might want to purchase it for that reason. I started with short stories myself, and I love them. A short reading for one sitting.
 
Any other short story writers out there?
 
 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Review from a Critique Partner

             Worth Her Weight                                                           

BY JANET BROWN

Reviewed by Sue Watson

 
 

Worth Her Weight  by Janet Brown is a story of inspirational fiction about a woman who has struggled with  her weight for many years. She has tried every kind of diet and failed. Mostly she has lost a couple pounds, and then gained them back because of treating herself to unhealthy food choices.  She eventually learns she is indulging in emotional eating due to stress, anger, or hurt feelings.

 

Lacey works full-time for a demanding boss, takes care of her disabled mother, and eventually takes over the responsibility for her four-year old niece after her sister is busted for drugs. She’s the person everyone seems to lean on for whatever they need done.  She finds her self-worth in doing for others even when it is not a good idea to do so.

 

Her long time police officer friend, Toby, comes around a lot and helps with heavy chores and gets very involved in helping her raise her niece. Unfortunately, the pastor’s beautiful, slender daughter has her eye on Toby as potential husband material.

 

 Author Janet Brown has lost 95 pounds and kept it off for many years. She wrote a devotional book, Divine Dining, and teaches a weight loss class at her church. Her life long battle with food addiction helps her write a story that touches on the intended and unintended unkindnesses people subject overweight people to.

 

Since I am a member of her critique group, I have watched this book go from a nugget of an idea to a well-written story. Anyone who reads this book, whether they have a weight problem or not, will not only read a good story, but also gain some insight into the problems over-weight people face.

 

You can contact Janet on Facebook as Janet K. Brown, Author, and on Twitter @janetkbrowntx, or e-mail her at Janet.hope@att.net. You can learn more on her website/blog: http://www.janetkbrown.com.  Her book is available through Pen-L Publishing on line.

 
Thank you, Sue, for allowing me to post your review on my blog. God bless.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

MOTIVATION

I read a quote today that preached volumes to me.

Life is for enjoying. It is not a race to see how much you can get done.                        Jill Clark

My new year began with a case of the flu and a new book releasing. I came down sick the day after Christmas. For nearly two weeks, I've had enough energy to fill a very small thimble.

As I begin to lift my head above the covers, my huge to-do list smacks me in the face and makes me want to curl back under my blankey.


When I read that quote, I thought, "yes," I will not run the race to see how much I can do, but that's hard. A new year affords a perfect time to prioritize and realign everything you're involved in. That's never more true than when you're back is against the wall with several projects at once.



Here's my words for January:

STRIVE - toward a decision to follow Christ in all things

STRETCH -toward God's excellence, not man's approval

SURRENDER - to God's will, not ours

SUCCEED in keeping communication lines open with God

I have one more word to think about especially if, like me, you're behind because of illness and holidays. Especially, if your work is stacking up higher than you can climb. Especially, if your to-do list is sticking out the front door.

MOTIVATION
 
 
What is your motivation for what you're about to do?
Most of the time, we don't make choices between good things and bad things. It's between important and more important.
 
 
Shall you be active in a group at church or donate time to your library?
 
Should you continue with one writing group or another?
 
Do you visit a friend for a couple hours or visit your mother-in-law which takes all day?
 
I think you get the idea?
 
First decide on your motivation, and the decision will be easier.
 

A quote from Hollow Victory by Tara Johnson http://tarajohnsonministries.com/ asks this, "Why am I doing this? Is it because I really want to help out, or because I'm afraid they'll be mad at me if I don't."

Mere people-pleasing can be exhausting and ruinous to our attitudes.

 Seek God.
With a free flow of communication, we can start this new year

Productive
Prepared
and Pampered

And, I don't know about you, but I'm needing a little pampering about now.

HAPPY MOTIVATED NEW YEAR

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ghost Legend?

Is there a ghost in Vernon, Texas?

 

Vernon is a city about fifty miles from my home in Wichita Falls. In the fall two years ago, our newspaper carried a story about the Vernon Ghost Tour and Folk Festival. That peeked my interest since my debut YA, Victoria and the Ghost had just released. The festival raised money for Vernon’s downtown reconstruction.

 

Now, it’s time to find a new ghost legend to build the last story in my YA ghost series around? And, I’m thinking Vernon would be super. Is there a ghost in Vernon?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Interview of Cherie Burbach

Today, I have the opportunity along with you to get acquainted with author, Cherie Burbach and ask her several questions. So, here we go . . .


1. When was the last time you wanted to give up on writing? What saved you from doing that?

 

Yesterday? Today? LOL! I think there are moments of frustration at times with the business ends of things because it’s after all, work… but the actual writing process itself is very soothing for me. I feel like it’s a lifeline that keeps me centered and sane.

  

2. Where did you get the idea of your new book?

 

Outer space! I was so into watching Cosmos and seeing all God had created, so when I started choosing poems for My Soul Is From a Difference Place, it seemed like a natural fit to incorporate the look and feel of the universe.  

 

3. I like that.  Now, tell me if you could be a song, what would it be?

 

Maybe Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.” I’d like to be able to do that a bit more. 

 


4. In what place do you do most of your writing?

 

 In my home office.

 


5. What habit do you struggle with making or getting rid of?

 

I’m always trying to get over the need to please and working too much. I’ve made strides but it’s something I can easily fall back into. 

 


6. Oh, I'm with you there. What book are you reading right now?

 

I just finished Vanishing Grace the other night and now I’m digging into the Gospel of John again. I go through cycles with the gospel writers and right now I’m obsessed with the words of John.  

 


7. Ah, yes, John speaks of God's love. Anything else you want to tell us?

 

Feel free to connect with me on my Etsy page or website. Thanks so much for having me.


 
Cherie Burbach is a poet, mixed media artist, and freelance writer specializing in lifestyle and relationships. She's written for About.com, NBC/Universal, Match.com, Christianity Today, and more. Her latest book is: My Soul Is From a Different Place: Poems. Visit her website for more info, cherieburbach.com.

 

 
 
About My Soul Is From a Different Place: Poems

 
 
The poems in My Soul Is From a Different Place reflect the hope and spirit that have been evident in Cherie Burbach’s work for over a decade. Each poem sweetly centering on faith while examining the ups and downs of life.

 

 




Sounds beautiful and a good book to start off a new year. I so appreciate your stopping by and talking with me today.

Anyone have another question or comment for Cherie?