“Cookie Cutter” Authors or Writers for the King: Breaking the Mold as Christian Writers #ChristianWriters #ChristianAuthors

Am I a “Cookie Cutter” Author?

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Image by Fathromi Ramdlon from Pixabay
“Cookie Cutter Authors?” You ask. What on earth do you mean by that? Well, let me try to explain. I will admit first off, that my first two books didn’t quite measure up to NYTBS list material. As a matter of fact, there probably aren’t many of us authors whose first books will make that highly coveted list. That doesn’t mean we give up of course. We simply learn from those experiences and become better writers. If yours haven’t done well either, don’t feel bad. Hey, we cut our “writers’ teeth” on those first books, and if we had never written them in the first place, we might never have come to be writers. We have to crawl before we can walk, right? That said, even though we may come from small beginnings, I have now been in this business long enough to know a few things. So, grab some coffee, sit down, and let’s talk about this.

Genre Expectations: Are Readers getting bored?

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Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I have well learned, at least at this point, that there are certain expectations for each genre that readers expect to see. (By the way, for any of you fellow authors still struggling to pin down a genre for your book, or just needing a brush up on the whole genre thing, check this handy Book Genre Finder site out.) Put a book in a wrong genre that’s not the right fit for it, and it will likely result in negative reviews. Thus, my coining the term “Cookie Cutter Authors”, if someone hasn’t already beat me to it. Hey, we can do that, we’re writers. 😉 Too often, this has caused increased pressure on us as authors to put out what our readers want to read. But more and more lately, I am seeing articles and posts with comments from readers saying they have begun to tire of what seems like the same story repeated in numerous books within a given genre, and the same, typical, even stereotyped characters, only the names, places, and scenes have changed. While many readers may continue to expect books they read to fit into those expectations, there are also a good number of them out there who have become bored with the same old scenarios repeated in books by authors trying to fit the old cookie cutter molds. It’s time for us to break the molds of pleasing the world, and write to please Him.

So, What’s Your Point?

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Image by Elien Smid from Pixabay

So, what’s my point, you ask? My point is this: There are too many Christian authors these days who have failed to “stand out” as Christ called us to do, for fear of “offending” their readers, and losing sales. They fall for the deception of writing what readers expect, to the point of settling for compromising, even sacrificing what our Lord expects of us as the writers He has called us to be. They have chosen to “blend in” rather than stand out for Him. I am at the point, I can no longer settle for just being one of these cookie cutter authors, just spitting out generic stories that “fit” into what the world wants to read. As a Christian author, I must answer the call to stand out and make a difference, to write that one unique story that’s not a “cookie cutter” copy of 800 others, but one that might just inspire its readers to change their lives for the better. We as Christian authors will not do that by “blending in”. There will never be a time that the money, riches, and fame this world has to offer will be worth more to me than what my precious Savior has called me to write.

A Choice to Make: Pleasing the World or Reaching Readers for Christ

So, for most of us who are Christian writers, it looks like we’ve come to a “fork in the road”. Every one of us has a choice to make. I know that for those of us who choose to represent the King, Jesus, our Lord and Savior, in our writing, it will likely mean that we may never see our books rise to popularity by the world’s standards. But then, I am no longer writing to please the world, but my Lord. If even one of my books somehow touches someone’s heart and inspires them to change their life for the better, maybe even accept Him as Lord and Savior, then it will all have been well worth it.

Avoiding the Idolatry of Selfish Ambition

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Up until now, I have mainly worked on fiction, and, until now, like many other authors, I had aspirations of making that “NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR” list. That is, until God began to continually lead me to Philippians, chapter 2, verses 3-4, which says (NKJV): “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” The more that began to sink in, the more I have come to realize, through the intense spiritual awakening that has followed, that it is no longer important for me to make that “list”. I no longer subscribe to the covetous, selfish ambitions of worldly fame and recognition, or even the desire to maybe see my books made into movies. Coveting all those things more than the work God wants to do through my writing, and the people He wants to reach through my work falls under something the word of God explicitly warns us against: idolatryAm I saying that’s a bad thing (Making the NYTBS List)? No, of course not! And if I ever do make it, wonderful! And if you are an author or know one with at least one book on that list, let me be the first to congratulate you, or even the 59th person to do so. Please understand here, that I am not saying that in itself is a bad thing. Not at all. I am just saying that I will no longer covet this above the difference God has called me to make and the plan and purpose that He has for me with the books He has given me to write (see Colossians 3:2 and and 2 Corinthians 4:18).

God has really begun to drive this important truth home to me more than ever before. He recently spoke to me and said, “ANYTHING you put before ME becomes an idol!” He also warned us that idolaters will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (see 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Timothy 6:10-12). For too long, we have put on the “masks” of tolerance, political correctness, etc, and chosen to “blend in” to society, rather than stand out for Christ. I will no longer blend in, but I choose to stand out for Him, and help people see that what He has done for me, He will do for them. I choose to believe He is faithful and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him (see Hebrews 11:6), and my work from this point onward will reflect that.

Oh sure, it would be easy to tailor my stories around “what the world wants to see”, and what will guarantee me a spot on that coveted list, but when I think of the price tag that is attached to that deceptive “selfish ambition”, no thank you! What my Lord and Savior did for me on Calvary is deserving of no less than my all for Him, and the complete surrender of those things I once considered important, for His will for me instead, and the lives He wants to touch through me. In Philippians 3:7-8, Paul says, “ But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” His will, and what He wants to do through it all, and my testimony reaching more readers through my work for Him is much more important now than the selfish ambition I held on to in the past. All of that other stuff is no longer important.

Mark 8:36 says, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Indeed, the lure of worldly fame and recognition is the greatest illusion ever perpetrated on humanity by the deceiver we all know as the devil. Even my fiction work is now undergoing a huge “face lift”, as I re-evaluate my projects and seriously seek Him to show me how to write works that line up with the message He wants me to project to my readers. I will still, of course, do all I can to maintain the professional standards expected of any of us as writers, but at the same time, I will not compromise to the world’s standards (see 1 Corinthians 10:21 and Matthew 6:24). I want to be that one that’s different from the others.

God’s Version of Success: Choosing the Hidden Rewards of Writing for Christ

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Image by rawpixel from Pixabay
I know that conflict and tension have to be there in order for readers to appreciate the big, powerful, “Wow-I-didn’t-see-that-one-coming” conclusion when it ends. But we as Christian writers can do this without sacrificing our God-given purpose and perspective. There may even be “pre-Christian” characters in my stories, or characters representing the hurting, lonely, and struggling. My soon coming book, “LOGAN – Chain of Grace”, is a good example of this. I feel that most readers will be able to identify with at least one of the characters, especially once they see how their lives are transformed by what happens in the story. Thus, it is my goal that as a result, readers will see how their own lives can be transformed if they are willing to surrender their all to Christ. (It is mainly for this reason that a couple of my current fiction works in progress have been delayed, but they are coming soon, promise!) But if we continue to settle for being “cookie cutter” authors, just writing the same tired old scenarios others have written, we may never see others’ lives touched like this. It is only in breaking free from the “fit-in-to-what-everyone-else-is-doing” mold that we will ever reach this hidden pinnacle of success in God’s eyes, as He sees it. He has gifted each of us with unique talents and insights, and we will never see these gifts come to fruition as long as we are busy trying to please the world instead of Him. But if we are willing to break free of that limited thinking and rise to His definition of “success”, who knows, we might just pen that best seller anyway. After all, you may never know the lives He wants to touch through you until you hand Him the quill, the pen, or these days, the keyboard/typewriter, and let Him write through you…
So, why don’t we stop being so afraid of losing sales, or missing out on the “big ticket”, or offending someone, and start being more concerned with reaching the world with the special, unique, encouraging, faith-building, life-renewing message that He has chosen you, out of all the other writers in the world, to write. Pray and ask Him to show you the bigger picture of what He has for you, and He will. And throw out the old cookie cutter image of yourself, break the mold, and get out there and get your message into the hands of the readers the Great Author Himself has already chosen for you to reach…

...That, you see, is how it works when you write for the King!

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Besides, He makes BIGGER “cookies”… and no two are the same. We are all unique, just as He meant it to be. Now, wouldn’t it be a shame if you let the world miss out on that?   

My NDE Testimony: CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door-Book Coming Soon! Subscribe Now!

Have you been through a traumatic event?

Felt like giving up?

Does your faith need God’s CPR?

November 16, 1985 was almost the last day of my life…

Now, at a time when giving up is simply not an option, more people than ever are giving up on their faith. We are the Body of Christ, yet the “pulse” has weakened…

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…and the clock is ticking as we move ever toward the return of Jesus, our Lord, to rapture the Church…

If you don’t read another book this coming year, you don’t want to miss this one!

November 16, 1985 was almost the last day of my life…

But God had a different plan…

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As my family watched me being rushed from the ambulance into the emergency room, bleeding from a gaping head wound, and in agony from a fractured pelvis, they didn’t know if I was even going to make it…

BUT GOD…

BUT GOD…!!!

…GOD looked into the future and saw you…

Now, in my book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, coming soon from K&F Stewart Ministries, (initials of my husband’s and my first names, Keith & Flossie), under our new imprint, Rivers of Grace Books, I will share my story, along with what I’ve learned on my long road to healing, and what God has given me to share with you about the special kind of “CPR” your faith needs.

You may be one of many people who have been through a life altering event and reached a point of feeling there is no hope. I know what that feels like. I’ve been there. While I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers (only God’s Word fits that category), I do know that what God has done for me, He can do for you.

I’ve often said, God can take the “lemons” life has handed you and turn it into some of the best “lemonade” you’ve ever “tasted”. But you have to give Him the lemons! Whatever it is the devil intended to use to destroy you, God wants to take it and turn it into your testimony, just as He has done for me! He can and He will!

November 16, 1985 was almost the last day of my life. I was in a horrific auto accident that derailed my nursing career and changed my life forever. Only later, through the divine power of the Holy Spirit revealing it to me, along with the help of my psychiatrist, would I come to learn that I had gone through a Near Death Experience, and that I had indeed passed through death’s door. Although I was left with a fractured hip, a terrible head injury, a speech problem I still suffer from although it isn’t immediately obvious, and other problems due to the traumatic brain injury (specifically, right temporal and frontal lobe damage, my head actually dented the dashboard, and I was unconscious), PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and psychological scars that would last long after the physical ones had healed, through Christ and His healing power in my life, I have triumphed over it all and gone on to write “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door” (Resuscitating the Christian Heart, Yes, Your Ship is Coming In!), which should be available soon. (I’ll keep you posted! You can also stop by and “like” my Facebook author page, just click the link to the right! –>) In the book, I will tell my story, and share with you what God has taught me on my long road to healing in the hope that just as He has done for me, your faith will be renewed, and you will be on your way to discovering His plan to take whatever has happened in your life and turn it into a powerful testimony to help others!

We are in the finishing stages of the book, and we will hopefully have a release date sometime in the near future. So, if this is you, run, don’t walk, and hit the “Subscribe to my email” tab and subscribe so when it does come out, you’ll be one of the first to know! You can also feel free to share this to your Facebook, Twitter, etc, using the buttons below.

Coming Soon from Rivers of Grace Books…

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An imprint of K & F Stewart Ministries…

Don’t miss it! Subscribe now!

Do you know someone who is struggling and might find this helpful? Click to share via the buttons below!

 

A Trusting Heart, Willing Hands…& a FREE eBook Download! #FaithBuilders #KingdomBuilders

“Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; To shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.” – Psalm 92:13-15

In November of 2018, the Eastern North Carolina Church of God Senior Adults (50 and older) gathered at the ENCCOG  Campground/gathering center in Kenly, NC for their annual Young at Heart/Senior Talent Convention (<– Click here for info on this year’s event). I entered in the Woodwinds Division, with a solo I played on my clarinet, and in the Creative Writing/Short Story Division. I started not to even bother with the writing part. But then, at the “last minute” I decided, “why not?” So, that evening, with the deadline approaching as of the next morning for the entries to be sent, or emailed in, I started thinking of what to write. Sitting here at the computer, I prayed about it, still thinking of just giving it up and going to bed.

The great, white, blank screen loomed before me…

“Okay, God, You’re writing this, so please just take over. Help me write what you would have me to write,” I prayed.

Before I knew what was happening, the words started to flow onto the page, the keys clacking into the night, as I worked to get it done and send it in to our Pastor’s wife, so she could email it to them.

Even now, as I look back and read it, I can only say that God wrote this, not me. I am only the hands that typed it. Seriously, there is no way I could have ever come up with this on my own. It has all the elements of good fiction I have worked to have in my books, especially the newer projects I am working on, you know, depth, character development, conflict, and tension, and believable dialogue with the characters, all building up to the powerful resolution at the end…an ending that makes us think, makes us take a closer look at ourselves. All of this has to be balanced with not giving too much away early in the story.

When I started writing a few years back, I will admit now, even laughing at myself, that I did not really know what I was doing. I didn’t know then, what all experience has taught me. Things like having the necessary conflict and tension in the story in order for that powerful climax, or resolution at the end to be fully appreciated. I will also admit that even now, at my age, I have often thought of giving up. (Can anybody out there relate? Anybody out there over 50 still writing, or whatever it is you do, shout out to you! 🙂 )

For all my fellow “writing seniors” out there, you may have felt that way yourself at times. So, after much prayer about this, as well as what to do with this thing now, other than let it sit here on my hard drive, collecting “computer dust”, I have felt led to share it with you. You can click this link to download it. I hope you enjoy it and find it encouraging…

The Preacher and the Fiddle – FREE eBook Download

Not bragging or anything like that, but I feel led to share it with you, just to show you, what any of us, every single one of us, can achieve if we surrender our all to the Master. All of us have talents, everyone.  Some of us are terrible at things others are good at, and vice versa. But that is not a bad thing. That’s just God showing His creative variety. When we put it all together, all of us working together, doing the best we can with whatever He’s given us, it all comes together like a big, beautiful quilt (by the way, we had some nice quilting and needlework entries, including our “first lady”, our Pastor’s wife’s awesome entry of a crochet rendering she did of the missionary couple who were pastoring at the church where she got saved and accepted Christ).

For all those my age and older, it can be too easy at times, to just give up or think that we are too old, tired, sick, or (insert whatever comes to your mind here) or that we’re not really as good at doing things as we “used to be”. It’s easy to get tired, stressed, and overwhelmed with all that is going on in the world around us. I am no exception, thus, my putting this whole idea off till that last night before the Creative Writing entries were due in to the ones who would be judging them. But maybe that is why God gives us our creative gifts, not only for building His Kingdom together, but to encourage others through whatever it is our talent is.

Whether it’s a drawing, painting, an uplifting song written, sang, or played, every little thing we accomplish through Him can encourage and influence someone. Maybe it was just that last little bit of encouragement the Holy Spirit was trying to give me, that last little nudge that made me change my mind. Who knows how many of our greatest inventions might not have come to be if it hadn’t been for that little last minute nudge. And so, on I typed into the night…

Fast forward to this past April 30th – May 2nd, 2019, in Gatlinburg, TN, with my husband, our Pastor, and his wife. (We drove separately of course)…that’s right. My little short story won Runner Up at the Senior Talent Competition/Young at Heart Convention, and several others in our church won in their categories as well. The one who won over me in the Creative Writing Division would not be able to make it, so I was able to go and compete at the Nationals. That adorable little crocheted couple our “first lady” did, and our Pastor, who competed in Percussion, Indefinite Pitch, and my short story, made it to the Nationals Competition in Gatlinburg, at the convention center there. There were others in our church who also won who were unable to make it to the Gatlinburg competition, but we still shared our pictures and everything, and they were still cheering us on. The thing is, all of us in the group of those who entered the 2018 Senior Talent Competition were the ones who listened to that last little nudge…that one more little prompting in our spirits that said, “Aww, come on, you can do it!”

And that’s right. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengthens me.”

We are all in Christ, and together, with all of our talents and gifts He has given us, we make up the Body of Christ as a whole. We can do anything He calls us to do. Whether it’s crocheting, knitting, woodwork and building things, quilting, writing, singing, or playing a musical instrument, we all have something we are good at. But we are not gifted in these areas in and of our own accord, but it is through Him, working in us, that we do these things. We try and fail once, we learn from it, we get up and try it again. Besides, as Seniors, (or soon to be seniors), especially those of us who are grandparents now, or even great grandparents, we have to remember that those precious eyes of our grandchildren, and even our adult children, are still watching us. Like that lighthouse beacon guides the ships at sea, we are that shining light to them.

The greatest inventions would have never come to be if their inventors had given up.

Just the same, we will never know what we are capable of if we don’t try. It doesn’t matter how many times we may have failed before. What matters is that we had the courage to get in there and try again. Perhaps the best thing about it all is, as my husband and I walked through the room where all the entries were displayed on the tables in the various categories, admiring the paintings, drawings, crochet and knitting projects, quilts, etc., we knew it was the same wonderful hands of our Creator who had done it all. Just as He had gifted each of these creators with their talents, He had also gifted all the musicians, singers and instrument players. Together, it is the awesome God we serve, showing His creative variety, knowing that when it all comes together, it completes the greater masterpiece He is painting, a grand design only He can see. We are only the various hands that He has gifted for each of the colors, musical notes, and stories that He chooses as He works to create the legacy we will leave for our children and grandchildren…

So, what about you?

Whether you are young or older, like us, there is something you can do, and little eyes will be looking up at you for their own encouragement. After all, that is what our Master Painter does. We are just the hands He uses to do His work.

So paint that painting. Build that little cabin or church woodwork project. Make the quilt. Write the story (or song). Play the music. Sing the song, because all of it glorifies our wonderful Master, and there is no limit to what we can do if we only yield it all to Him. All He needs is a trusting heart and a set of willing hands.

My short story did not win at the Nationals in Gatlinburg, but then, we weren’t there to “win”, but rather to enjoy the blessing of meeting and shaking hands with other “movers and shakers” who are working, as we all are, to build the Kingdom for our Jesus as we work toward His soon return. That in itself was an encouraging experience for me. “Faith Builders” encouraging one another, knowing that what He has done through one of us, He can do through another. And in that respect, we are all winners from the start, because it is the same great Master hands working through us all. It was an honor and a blessing to me, to have just made it that far, to have had the chance to go. And by the way, our Pastor, Bishop Allen Gupton, won in the Percussion Division, so we did not return home empty handed! In fact, as I told him before we left to return home, I was already shifting gears for what is next. On that note, I have to give a shout out to our graduates in our church family who have just graduated high school, as well as our own graduates, my youngest daughter, who just received her Master’s in Social Work (her B.A. is in Psychology), and my husband’s son, who just received his Bachelor’s in Psychology. His wife and my eldest daughter will finish in their respective degrees in December (2019). We are proud of each and every one of you, and our prayers and best wishes are with you as you each look toward the future. We look forward to seeing what God is going to do through each of you! Congratulations to you all, and all Class of 2019 graduates everywhere!

Nevertheless, we all give Him the glory, not only for what He has done, but for what He is about to do, what He can do, through you, me, and any of us who yield to Him what He needs most to complete His masterpiece…a trusting heart, and willing hands.

I’m glad now that I said yes to that little nudge in my spirit. As the sun rose and began streaming through the windows, I finished my humble little short story entry, including the “tightening” and editing I had to do to get it to be within the allowed word count. Was it worth it? Of course it was! A big, resounding YES on that one! I hope you will say yes too, to whatever it is He is calling you to do. I promise you, it will be more than worth it.

Need some more encouragement? Okay, I promised to share it with you, and here it is. FREE for you to download and read, my short story I entered in our Senior Talent Competition. I hope you enjoy it, and that it gives you encouragement in some way, because what He has done through me, He can do through you. Whatever He has gifted you to do, just remember, it is often just when we feel like giving up, like we are just too tired and worn, or discouraged to go on, that He does His greatest work through us. And even though it did not win in the Nationals, I know that there is no limit to what He can and will do with it, so I have yielded it to Him. After all, it’s His story. Again, I am only the trusting heart and willing hands that He used to write it. You can click the link below to download it and read it…and yes, again, it’s FREE 🙂 .

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Photo licensed through Pixabay. Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

The Preacher and the Fiddle – FREE eBook Download

So, for any of you out there who are in the Eastern North Carolina Church of God region, if you can paint, draw, sing, play, drum, knit, crochet, or you are awesome at woodwork, (or even cook & clean!) why not try and join us this year? Many seniors just do it for the fun (and food!) and fellowship, and worshiping God together, even if they don’t feel they will win. After all, you’ll never know what God can do through you if you don’t try. Remember, it’s all through His hands, not ours! We only have to have a trusting heart and a willing set of hands. And just as the people of the little church in the story, you will never know what beautiful music our Grand Maestro could play through you…

…until you hand Him the fiddle and the bow. 

The Most Priceless Perfume You Could Ever Wear…

A reflection on 2 Corinthians, 1 & 2, emphasis: chapter 2, verses 14 & 15…This is something God led me to for our devotion this past week, and I thought it was so powerful that I just had to share it!
For those of you who may read my posts regularly, you know as an author, I have, up until now, only written fiction books (see my two currently available books in the side bar, or visit my home page). Currently, I have other projects I am still working on, which I hope to have available soon, but one, for which I am currently looking at publishers, is a non-fiction book, which will be inspirational to those who have suffered traumatic events and/or are giving up on faith in God. It will have my testimony of my near death experience in a horrific automobile accident in November of 1985. Click here to read more on this. Be sure to hit the subscribe tab above if you or someone you know would be interested in a copy when it comes out.

Priceless Perfume?

What do the words “expensive perfume” make you think of? Chances are, you are already naming off a few brand names. What are your favorites? How about “priceless perfume”? Perhaps you are thinking only celebrities could afford it if it was “priceless”. But the type of perfume I am talking about here is much more priceless than any of it…

2 Corinthians, Chapter 1 at a Glance…

In chapter 1, after talking about the “trouble” they ran into in Asia, so that they “despaired even of life” (verse 8), Paul thanks the Corinthians for their prayers for them (verse 11), and reminds them that they do not operate their ministry according to the flesh, or “fleshly wisdom”, but by the grace of God (verse 12). He goes on to remind them of the “yes” of the promises of God. I have read the entire New Testament, and one of the things that really impresses me about Paul’s ministry is, he put his whole heart into it, and didn’t just go one time to preach the Gospel to these people, he made it his life’s purpose to go back and follow up on them. In his writing to them here, he actually gives them the route he had intended to take to come by and see them. If you go back and study Philippians, chapter 4:10-17, he talks about giving, not that he “desires gifts from them”, but that “fruit abounds to their account”. He knew that once they understood this, and gave, either in money or provisions, food, etc, to help in his ministry, they would be “bearing fruit”, and he knew they would then see the ways God would bless them back for it (you can’t out give God! Try it!).

2 Corinthians, Chapter 2, Here’s the Good Stuff!

That’s just a little background info to catch you up to what’s going on in chapter 2. Now, to get into the good stuff! Although it’s not clear (to me) whether Paul is, at this point, in prison or what his exact circumstances at this point were (pastors, teachers, anyone, feel free to comment and elaborate on this), it is fairly clear, at least to me, in verses 3-4, that he very likely wrote these words weeping, in being unable to get to them. He makes it clear here, the love (of Christ) that he so “abundantly” has for them:

And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. (verses 3-4, KJV). 

Now, that is love! Paul’s joy in his ministry was in being able to go back and see them living the joy of bearing fruit for Christ, basically saying here, “your joy is my joy”. So, what really jumped out at me in reading this chapter was, he stated 4 reasons in his writing to them:

  1. Their joy (in Christ) is his joy, not sorrowing Him, but the joy of seeing the fruit of his labor, thus, his dedication in actually following up on them.
  2. That they would know his dedication and his love for them, in reflecting for them, the love of Christ for them all, which was his affirmation that he had gotten through to them, seeing the fruit of his labor, thus how he was able to rejoice, even in prison, through the tears he wrote them through.
  3. Reminding them of the importance of forgiving and comforting those who did wrong (“caused grief”, verse 5) as Christ forgives us, in His great love for us.
  4. To “put them to the test” as stated in verses 9-11, reminding them that not forgiving, as Christ forgives us, opens the door for the devil, (verse 11b-“…for we are not ignorant of his devices”).

Now, for the really good part! So, what, you may be asking, does all of this have to do with perfume? No doubt, if you really wanted to do some research on this, they did have “perfumes” in those days. Here are some other Bible verses about perfume. In Matthew 2:11, the wise men visited the Christ child and gave Him gifts of what would have been very expensive oils or perfumes in that time:

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” -Matthew 2:11, KJV

And I actually found this! —> Scents of the Bible, click here!

Mark 14:3 tells the story of the woman with the alabaster box. Although the King James version doesn’t mention the word, several other translations refer to the costly perfume it held as “Nard”, which is actually one of the scents above, which is an Amazon page on which you can buy these 3 perfumes.

Now, back to 2 Corinthians, the two verses I especially wanted to emphasize here are verses 14 & 15:

Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: (King James version)

The New King James version of the Bible renders it this way:

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

In doing the things Paul was so dedicated to teaching us in showing the love and forgiveness of Christ to others, and being a Godly example in our daily actions, we “diffuse the fragrance of His knowledge” wherever we go, we are the “fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing”. For an insightful post I wrote this past Christmas on doing just that for those who “no longer feel the joy of Christmas” click here. 

When we go to dress up for a special occasion, we wouldn’t put on cheap perfume that stinks. Just the same, if we don’t do these things Paul talked about, and conduct any ministry we try to have in the ways Paul reminds us here, and show Christ’s love to others we minister to as he did, then, we “stink”. Plain and simple. We must “diffuse the fragrance of Christ”, everywhere we go, or we stink. And who wants that?

And you know I just had to include this for you. We’ve all felt like that woman at one point or other. So, here you go, enjoy, and go be that “Fragrance of Christ”!

Romance, Time Travel, and a River of Secrets…and an Idea for a Romantic Getaway! #greatvalentinesdayreads #loveisintheair

“They say there is a path that winds through the forest, that exists deep within our imaginations, in that childlike part of our minds…that gate is only open once. After this, the adult mind somehow closes it.” – “Anna” – “Summer of the Rose”

SOMEWHERE DEEP IN THE FOREST LIES A SECRET…

A rose is thrown onto the water, as its surface sparkles like diamonds in the sunlight, beckoning you to go just a little further…

Come with me on a path that winds through the forest, and even back in time… 

Romance, Time Travel, and a River of Secrets…

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A RIVER OF SECRETS…Anna Brownfield is 12 the summer of 1877, when she and her twin brothers, Jed and Josiah, 15, set out to find the secret place in the river, hidden in the forest near their little dirt road southern town, where folks say that if you touch the water there, you will look around and realize you have traveled forward or even backward in time. Little do they know what the “Enchanted Lady” winding her way through the forest, which Anna refers to as “Lady River”, has in store for them. 
ROMANCE…Did she find her true love because of a secret place in the river, like others claim they did? Anna is now 87 years old, and she has some stories to tell, but none quite like the “Summer of the Rose”. There are others who have stories to tell, and Anna knows who they are. She also knows that there are few who have ever been able to resist the River’s call.
TIME TRAVEL…Pull up a chair and sit for a while with Anna. She might just tell you a story you just wouldn’t believe…

Although my second book, “Summer of the Rose” is not classified as a “Romance”, (it has romantic “threads”, but that’s not the main theme), I feel it will truly take you on a journey you won’t soon forget. As you follow Anna’s journey as she tells of that magical summer of 1877, when she comes of age, and eventually finds her true love, you might be surprised at the lines she is willing to cross to find him. The Kindle version is only $2.99, and with a simple click, you could be reading it in just a few minutes! The book is also in the Kindle Matchbook Program, which means…”If you buy a new print edition of this book (or purchased one in the past), you can buy the Kindle edition for only $0.99″.

I am currently working on other projects I hope to have available soon, but since it is Valentine’s Day, I just wanted to put this out there for you. It is a truly captivating tale that would make a great addition to your Kindle list, especially since summer is just around the corner. It is the first in a series, and I have started on the 2nd book, although I did kind of put this project on the back burner in order to focus on other projects, one of which I have been working on a bit longer (it’s gonna be good, I promise! More on this later…wink, wink!) so I really want to get that finished. That one ended up being a 2 book set, and I just recently got book 1 back from my editor, so I am in the dreaded re-write stage, but it’s all going to be worth it! So, if you don’t want to miss out on this and my other upcoming books, be sure to hit the subscribe button so you will be among the first to know!

Meanwhile, click here to read my “Interview with Anna” and I’ll just let her tell you a little about the story. But now, I’ll have to warn you, she’s 87 now and she says what’s on her mind! Also, for those who might be looking for a nice, cozy, rustic cabin for a romantic getaway with your sweetheart, the link is on the page (the “Interview…”, above). Be sure and tell Arizona Jane Keith and Flossie sent ya! The cabin is in Cherokee, NC, and we’re pretty sure you will enjoy it! For other things to do in Cherokee, click here. 

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Dancing Stones Cabin in Cherokee, NC

So, from Keith and me, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! 

Enjoy your evening with your sweetie, and be sure to check back later or subscribe for more of my exciting books coming soon! Visit my home page to learn more.

Meanwhile, what’s your story? Click here to read my post on getting your story out there and making it happen! Well?

Now, go get ready for that romantic date with your sweetheart! As for my sweet hubby and me, we’re having ours right here at home, with candle light and the works! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put my roses in a vase and some water and get ready for my own dinner date to celebrate our love, married 3 years and counting, although we actually went to the prom in 1983! We may have walked away from each other, but we are thankful every day that God brought us back together and gave us another chance!  And don’t forget parents, grandparents, and others who are special to you too. They need to hear those three little words too! Oh, and if you two do decide to try the cabin, be sure to bookmark the page and check the calendar early, as special dates do get booked way in advance! You can thank me later!

 

Stumbling Stones or Stepping Stones: Is There a Book Stuck Inside You? #writeyourbook #whatsyourstory?

Write that book
What’s YOUR story? What’s holding you back?

Could God be calling YOU to write a book and tell your story? The truth is, God is no respecter of persons (see Acts 10:34 & Romans 2:11), and what He has done for one, He will do for another. If you have a testimony of a traumatic event or trying situation God has delivered you from, then it is now your testimony! What have you learned from it? How could the wisdom and strength you’ve gained from it help others? Here are some Bible verses about letting God use our testimony to help others.

Is writing a book one of your goals? If not, maybe it should be. Maybe like a lot of folks, you have been walking around with a book stuck inside of you, you just haven’t known how to go about writing it. Or if you are like many I’ve talked to, you may not even realize you have a story that needs to be told. In truth, I think a lot of people are in that last category. I know I was for a long time.

In too many cases, I think it is too easy for us to allow the devil to convince us that we are useless, that whatever it is that happened to us has destroyed us to the point that there is no way possible that we can ever be any good to others. So, the reality is, there are a lot of people walking around feeling lost, defeated, and useless, but this could not be farther from the truth, when in fact, their stories could help others. All we have to do is surrender it all to Jesus, the “Author and finisher of our faith” (See Hebrews 12:1-2, this of course, is put in better context if you read the 11th chapter, what has been referred to as the faith chapter.)

He is able to take what the devil meant to use to destroy us, and make it into our testimony. This is something I get into more in my upcoming book, “CPR For Your Faith From Beyond Death’s Door”, which will have my testimony of my Near Death Experience in a very traumatic automobile accident in November 1985. Click here for more on this. Be sure to subscribe if you want to know when it comes out!

Stumbling Stone or Stepping Stone?

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Pic taken on a trip to Cherokee, NC in 2012. Are you going to be a “rock” in your own path, or the water that goes around it?

So, what about you? Have you been through a traumatic experience? Do you want to learn more about how God can use your story to help others? Are you ready to learn how you can surrender it all to Christ and let Him turn it into a dynamic and powerful testimony to be used for His glory? Whatever it is that happened to you, you can either let it continue to be a stumbling stone, or give it to Him and let Him turn it into a stepping stone, one that will lead to greater paths as you pursue your destiny. The above picture was taken on a trip I took to Cherokee, NC in, I believe it was May, 2012. I was at a very low point in my life. I stayed at the Dancing Stones Cabin. I needed to just get away from it all, and desperately needed some “Me and God” time. When I first saw it online, it was like I felt the place was calling me.

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On the back porch of the Dancing Stones Cabin, where I “had coffee with God”.

That last morning, as I sat out there on the porch, sipping my coffee and just being in His presence, one of the things He said to me was, “The water in the river, when it comes to a rock, does not stop and wait for the rock to move. It simply goes around the rock and continues on its merry way. Are you going to be a rock in your own path, or are you going to be the water that goes around the rock?” I sat there and thought about what He had said, and later went down to spend a few moments by the river. Now, when I look at the above picture, I think about those words He said to me that morning, and how long I was a “rock in my own path”, allowing the devil to use all that had happened to me to “cripple” me spiritually. I had allowed it all to be a stumbling stone, but now, through God’s grace, it has now been turned into a stepping stone.

Perhaps you are more the type to write fiction. In truth, I think it is possible to write life-changing, thought provoking fictional stories that will truly inspire others. The important thing to remember here is, don’t just get caught up in writing what the world wants to read, what will get you a place on the New York Times Best Seller List. Okay, yes, that would be nice. But Paul reminds us in Philippians 2:3 to “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit”. Trust me. I was that person for too long, and that is where my main motive with my writing was. Now, I understand more, why God led me to that verse again and again, until it finally started to sink in, just what He was trying to tell me. It is no longer enough for me to just write what I think will hit the best seller lists, but to write what He gives me, the message, or the stories that He has put in my heart, as He has guided me through the experiences of my life, the wisdom I have gained in my walk with Him. The truth is, it is far too easy these days, to go with what the rest of the world is doing, and too easy to allow that “selfish ambition” to take over and be our main motivation. For me, the rewards of serving Him will be far greater than any best seller status could ever offer, and much greater than anything the world has to offer.

For more on how to write a book, here is a simple guide from bestselling author, Jerry Jenkins. Here is another helpful post by Joanna Penn on her website/blog for writers, The Creative Penn. She also has a course she is offering, scroll down toward the bottom of the page to see it, along with tons of helpful articles she’s posted, and resources to help you get started. A simple Google search will reveal other courses on how to write your novel, many of them free, and by bestselling authors.

As I have said earlier, I have mainly taken the self publishing route up until now, but I have my reasons for it, as my first two books aren’t in popular genres, but my husband and I are very excited about what God is going to do with my latest projects. Here are a couple of earlier posts I did recently, in a little “mini series,” Book Writing for Procrastinators, Part 1 and Part 2, which are loaded with tips and links to more helpful resources from a few of my friends in the writing field who have helped to pave the way for others.

Book Writing for Procrastinators… 8 Ways to Learn from the Pros, Get Started, and Write that Best Seller! #writingtipsfornewbies

Book Writing for Procrastinators, Part 2: Overcoming Distractions & Mind Blocks #WhatsYourStory #WritersHelpingWriters

I think you will find these exciting to get into and explore. After all, I am only one writer helping others, shining my light for Him in whatever way I can to help others, and do all I can to make sure that no one I may pass by goes through their life with a story trapped inside of them.

I have learned from my mistakes. I chose to surrender it all to Jesus, and let Him take my “stumbling stones” and turn them into “stepping stones” that will lead to the greater path of being the best I can be, through Him (Philippians 4:13), and helping others along the way, to be the best they can be too. I hope you will be one of them!

So, what’s YOUR story? The world is waiting!

 

Great Summer Reading: “Summer of the Rose” – now in hard cover! #TimeTravel #Southernhistoricalfantasy

“Is ‘The Wind in the Willows’ a children’s book? Is ‘Alice in Wonderland?’ Is ‘Treasure Island?’ these are masterpieces which we read with pleasure as children, but with how much more pleasure when we are grown-up.” – A. A. Milne 

2014-01-15_14-05-07_194 - Copy (3) - CopyGreat news for all you summer book readers! Book 1 in the “Secrets of Rose River” Time Travel Trilogy, is now in hard cover edition on B&N.comIf you liked “Tuck Everlasting”, you will love this one! A Southern Historical Time Travel Fantasy, with just the right amount of romance, and even a bit of mischief, this is a “coming of age” story being told by “Anna” who’s now 87, that will be enjoyed by young and old alike! Pull up a chair, Anna’s just getting started! The River has secrets she will never tell, but Anna just might know a few of them…

Summer’s just around the corner, and “Summer of the Rose” will make a great addition to your list!

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A RIVER OF SECRETS…Anna Brownfield is 12 the summer of 1877, when she and her twin brothers, Jed and Josiah, 15, set out to find the secret place in the river, hidden in the forest near their little dirt road southern town, where folks say that if you touch the water there, you will look around and realize you have traveled forward or even backward in time. Little do they know what the “Enchanted Lady” winding her way through the forest, which Anna refers to as “Lady River”, has in store for them.

ROMANCE…Did she find her true love because of a secret place in the river, like others claim they did? Anna is now 87 years old, and she has some stories to tell, but none quite like the “Summer of the Rose”. There are others who have stories to tell, and Anna knows who they are. She also knows that there are few who have ever been able to resist the River’s call…

TALES OF TIME TRAVEL…So pull up a chair and sit for a while with Anna, Sam “Tater” Jenson, Mattie Turner, and the others, along with “Flapjack”, the town hound dog as they take you back to a time of early southern America, when the town storytellers sat out in rocking chairs in front of the old stores and told stories of days gone by. Go back to a time when you saw the world through the eyes of a child and dared to imagine the impossible. You might hear a story you just wouldn’t believe…

A truly heartwarming, yet daring romantic adventure you won’t soon forget! Get it now on Amazon in Print (Paperback) and Kindle, and now on B&N.com in Hard Cover, as well as Paperback and Nook! If you liked the movie, “Tuck Everlasting”, <— (Click here for my “Interview” with “Anna” and a special treat at the end!), you will love this book!

Be sure to subscribe to my email so you won’t miss Book 2, “Scent of the Rose”, and my other future releases! If you know someone who would enjoy this book, please share to your Facebook or Tweet, via the buttons below! Get yours today, and I hope you enjoy it! Be sure to stop back by the Amazon or B&N pages and leave a review!

 

 

 

FREE Kindle Download, Mystery at Windy Mountain, 12/13 – 12/17! #freekindlebooks

 

FREE to download 12/13 through 12/17! 5 days only! Mark your calendars now! 

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Click to download!

View the book trailer!

Download and start reading!

First in the “Windy Mountain Mystery Series”, this is a powerful and emotionally gripping Native American Mystery/Time Travel Adventure with a twist of the paranormal that will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget!

THE WIND SEEMS TO BLOW IN WHISPERS…

STRANGE DREAMS FROM THE PAST… Suddenly Joe “Dreaming Hawk” Thomason has become one with the eagle, flying back in time, into the past…Ten winters have passed since Soaring Eagle’s people were taken to serve as slaves for the white men. Now, he is a strong, proud, Lakota Sioux warrior who will stop at nothing to find his people and return them to their sacred lands.

ALMOST LIKE…

A MYSTERIOUS STORY TELLER… Dreaming Hawk has always tried to provide a memorable experience for the guests at Windy Mountain Campground and resort. Yet, he has no answers for the dreams he’s been having. Nor can he explain the strange sense of closeness he feels to the Native American elder who tells the stories by the fire at night for the guests. The elusive story teller has given little information about himself, leaving Al and Naomi Edgewood to wonder about the future of the campground. Yet, it is this air of mystery about him that continues to draw the guests each year. Enter the Wilkerson family. It is approaching summer, and as teachers, Corey and Karen have decided to give their children an educational yet fun vacation. But who is the mysterious Native American mentor Corey meets who advises him to create a path for learning for their children? Indeed, the paths of our lives have strange ways of crossing. The Native Americans have long believed that the ancestors guide us. At night, as the guests gather around the fire, the wind seems to blow in whispers, almost like voices in the wind.

BUT WHO IS HE?… The mystery only deepens as strange things begin to happen around the Campground. The Wilkerson family is in for a summer vacation they will never forget…

VOICES IN THE WIND…

Know someone who would enjoy this book? Click the buttons below and share, or email it via the link above! Don’t forget to stop back by the Amazon page and leave a review! Thanks, and hope you enjoy the journey!

 

All Writers: Hats off to the Late, Great Natalie Babbitt! #childrensauthor #tuckeverlasting

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In memory of Natalie Babbitt, 1932 – 2016

I write for children because I am interested in fantasy and the possibilities for experience of all kinds before the time of compromise. I believe that children are far more perceptive and wise than American books give them credit for being.  ~ Natalie Babbitt

You may remember from my past posts that my 2nd book, “A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, was in part, inspired by the movie, “Tuck Everlasting”, which was actually adapted from a children’s book by Natalie Babbitt. To be honest, it was also inspired largely by a walk I took one day. I came back in and sat down and felt it coming to me. It has been more than a few times that the ideas for the projects I have been working on so far have come to me from the Great Author Himself, and such was the case this time. It has seemed that this has happened right at the times I was about to just give up and “throw in the towel” on it all. But, I also know that I wouldn’t be the author and writer I am now if it weren’t for the inspiration I have received from other authors.

As writers, they are our teachers, and we can learn much just from reading their work. Natalie said as much in an interview I was able to find. You can read it here. Indeed, she has been one of my greatest teachers. I was doing an internet search for something pertaining to what I was working on and happened to see the news headlines that she left our world on October 31, 2016. She was 84. Read it here.

Although she did not start out wanting to be a writer, but rather, an illustrator, she wrote several books in the span of her writing career and illustrated many others. Here is a listing of her books as well as a bio about her.  You may have seen this movie that was adapted from her book, “Tuck Everlasting”. Here is the movie trailer:

I think I can speak for all writers, who aspire to be great authors one of these days, that we can say, “hats off”, to one who has truly been a great teacher and inspiration to us all. Thank you, Mrs. Babbitt, for all you have taught me as a writer myself, and for the great works you have left us. May they continue to inspire future generations of young readers, as you have inspired us! In one of her quotes from the story, I believe it was the father in the “Tuck” family who says, to “Winnie Foster”, “Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever, you just have to live.”

I choose to live, live my life to the fullest and to celebrate the gifts I have been given, and what all I can accomplish with the time I have left on this earth. After all, there are plenty of teachers who have paved the way before me, and the Great Author Himself, to guide my way.

I also took advantage of the anniversary edition of her book, “Tuck Everlasting”. I may not be a child reader, but then, there is still a little bit of our childhood left in all of us, I think. Besides, to all of us as authors, reading the works of those who came before us is how we learn. To quote my character, “Anna”, who also narrates the story in “A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, I think this is probably one of my favorite lines in the whole book:

“They say there is a path that winds through the forest that exists deep within our imaginations, in that childlike part of our minds…but that gate is only open once. After this, the adult mind somehow closes it.” – “Anna” 

Why not take a journey back down that path, if but for a little while…

Click here to read a sample of the 40th Anniversary Edition of “Tuck Everlasting”. 

FREE DOWNLOAD!:”A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”, Oct 24 -28!! #freekindledownload

Secrets…Adventure…Romance…Time Travel…If you liked the movie, Tuck Everlasting, you will love this book!

The River has secrets she will never tell…

This week only! October 24th  – 28th, the Kindle version of this Southern Historical Romantic Tale is available to download for FREE! It is also a coming of age story that will take you on a journey you won’t soon forget! From a time when the town story tellers sat in the rocking chairs in front of the corner store, a time that should never be forgotten, pull up a chair and sit for a while, and Anna will tell you a tale you just might not believe…

CLICK HERE to view my “Interview” with “Anna”! 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE BOOK TRAILER (Cover has been updated since.)

Click here or click the picture to download!

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Anna Brownfield is 12 the summer of 1877, when she and her twin brothers, Jed and Josiah, 15, set out to find the secret place in the river, hidden in the forest near their little dirt road southern town, where folks say that if you touch the water there, you will look around and realize you have traveled forward or even backward in time. Little do they know what the “Enchanted Lady” winding her way through the forest, which Anna refers to as “Lady River”, has in store for them. Anna is now 87 years old, and she has some stories to tell, but none quite like the “Summer of the Rose”.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoy it! Be sure to subscribe to my email so you won’t miss out on Book 2, coming some time in the near future! Click the “Books Coming Soon” tab to read sneak previews of other upcoming books, and if you like this one, be sure to stop back by the Amazon page and leave a review!

Download “A River of Secrets, Summer of the Rose”

Remember, it’s FREE this week only, October 24th – 28th!

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