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Sunday, September 29, 2013

When Crumbs are Enough - M. Laycock



Our Bible study group pondered over one of the miracles of Jesus the other night. It’s a passage in Matthew 15 that describes how the crowds followed Jesus to a remote area, bringing the lame and blind and demon possessed before Him. And he heals them – thousands of them. Then the passage says that he had compassion on the people because they had not eaten for three days. So He told His disciples to find food for them. Food for 4,000 people. In the middle of nowhere. No restaurants nearby, no caterers ready and willing to serve, not even a village where they could get a few vegetables and bread. 
 
Of course the disciples are nonplussed. They tell Jesus what He already knows. They don’t have the means to feed so many. Then He asks them a simple question. “How many loaves do you have?” (Matthew 15:34) We can imagine the disciples showing him the seven loaves and the few small fish. Then Jesus tells them to have the crowd sit down. I wonder what they thought then. Did they think there was going to be a riot if they did not provide food for so many? Did they think Jesus was foolhardy to make it seem that they could? Why was he expecting so much of them?

The miracle that occurs then showed them, and us, that he was not foolhardy. Neither was he expecting too much of them. He knew exactly what they had and what they were capable of. But this was the God of the universe, the one who created those few loaves and fish. The miracle that occurs then showed them, and us, that even a small offering was enough, when it was put into the hands of a mighty God.
When I published my first devotional book, Spur of the Moment, I thought it would be a very small local effort. I was nervous about ordering 500 copies and I was amazed when they sold out quite quickly. I was even more amazed when I saw that little book travel to some very far away places – places like India and England, Mexico and the South Pacific. Then God started to show me what He can do when a small thing is put into His hands. 

I began receiving letters and emails and even a few phone calls telling me how that small book had changed their lives.

God had a plan. It was not my skilful inspiring words that can change someone’s life. It was God’s Spirit that moved the hearts of his people through the words in a small devotional book. And sometimes he does it through a mystery or a romance or a fantasy novel. God has a plan to heal and restore, to instil a renewed faith and to bestow joy beyond our wildest dreams upon the lives of His people, through our words.

So, how many loaves do you have? Does it seem like only a few crumbs in the face of a great need? Be encouraged. Jesus will take those crumbs and make them enough. In fact, He will make them into an abundance of blessing as they are fed to those who hunger for them.

So offer them up. Then stand back and watch.

****


Marcia Lee Laycock writes from central Alberta Canada where she is a pastor's wife and mother of three adult daughters. She was the winner of The Best New Canadian Christian Author Award for her novel, One Smooth Stone and also has two devotional books in print. Her work has been endorsed by Sigmund Brouwer, Janette Oke, Phil Callaway and Mark Buchanan. Marcia's second novel, A Tumbled Stone was recently short listed in the contemporary fiction category of The Word Awards. Abundant Rain, an ebook devotional for writers can be downloaded here. Visit Marcia's website
 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Glad To Be Here! What's Your Story?

Hey Rocketeers!

I'm so thrilled to be a part of this amazing Novel Rocket team.

Thank you Gina and Ane for inviting me. So many of my friends are here. Especially you, Jim Rubart!

What's my story? Isn't that such a common phrase?

"What's your story?"

"What's his story?" Or "Her story?"

With Robin Jones Gunn
All of life is a story.

Recently at the ACFW conference, the lovely and fabulous Robin Jones Gunn started each of her keynote sessions with, "I want to tell you a story..."

That simple phrase moved me to the edge of my seat. What was she going to say?

With emotion and depth, humor and tears, Robin shared how God changed her dreams to be His dreams.

She moved me from laughter to tears every time.

I've known Robin for years but we don't get to see each other often. Yet every time we do, it's love! We are sisters of the heart. And we are also sisters of the story.

When she tells a story, my heart comes alive. Not only because of her storytelling ability, but her amazing love for Jesus.

Robin inspired me. Touched me. Healed me with her words. Challenged me. As all good stories should whether written or spoken.

Clowning with Frank Peretti
So what's my story?

I started writing in '93, a year after I'd married my darling husband, henceforth known as Hubby.

Christian fiction was in it's infancy. World War II novels were all the rage.

Frank Peretti was wowing us all with This Present Darkness, and Lori Wick was the queen of romance. Brock and Bodie Thoene were the king and queen of historicals.

We purchased our first computer and I sat down to write. And I wrote and I wrote, for two year, on an epic WW II saga.

It was well rejected.

So, I found myself back in the corporate world and the season of writing subsided. However, I attended a couple of writer's conferences and joined American Christian Romance Writers. Yep, ACFW started as ACRW.

Eventually, I sold my first novel through a partnership with author Lynn Coleman.

I left the corporate world in '04 to write full time and bless the Lord, I've been at it for nine years now.

You see, writing is a process.

We want it to be quick, don't we? We want everything to be "now!"

We envy those who have a "fast rise" to the top. But some of those fist rises also quickly fall or stall.

Novel writing takes time, discipline and heart. Readers grow over years with each passing book. ;)

I've had some tough lessons in this publishing gig. Been disappointed. Felt kicked in the gut a few times.

But I knew one thing -- there was no place I'd rather be.

In the middle of writing a difficult book, the Lord gave me a verse. Isaiah 41:13:

For I am the Lord your God,
who upholds your right hand,
Who says to you,"Do not fear, I will help you."

Wow, I was encouraged. The writing was going to get easy now.

Nope.

A few month later I said, "Hey, Lord, I thought you said You were going to help me."

He said, "What makes you think I'm not?"

I hammered the table. "Because it's hard."

Then I burst out laughing.

Ah-ha, I understood. Just because something is difficult, hard, requires long suffering does not mean God is not in our midst, helping.

We have to see with those "spirit eyes" Paul talks about in Ephesians.

Look, life is a story -- with a beginning, middle and end.

It's what we do with the pages in between that matters.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

So, what's YOUR story? I'd love to chat with you about your life? What's going on?


***


Best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story.

With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel loves to come alongside writers and help them craft their novel.

She is on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers and leads worship for their annual conference. Recently, she was named ACFW 2013 Mentor of the Year.

She is also the Book Therapist for My Book Therapy. Otherwise, she lives in Florida, where she is also a worship leader, with her husband and  dog.
Her novel, The Wedding Dress, was named Romantic Times Inspirational Novel of the Year. Her latest release, Once Upon A Prince, earned starred reviews from Booklist and Publisher's Weekly.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mastering Your Craft

by Edie Melson


When someone asks me what I do or where I work, I always hesitate to mention that I’m a writer. Not because I’m ashamed of it or think I’m not worthy to be called a writer, but because it often leads to some frustrating conversations. Let me see if any of you can relate to some of my experiences. 
  • “I've always wanted to be a writer. Can you help me?”
  • “I have a book I've written. Can you send it to a publisher for me?”
  • “I used to write in high school—maybe you could look at a few things and tell me what you think.”
  • “I've been through (fill in the blank) and want to write a book about it. Can you tell me how to get it published?” 

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with these questions, the problem comes when I answer them. I’ve found that most people don’t really want to hear the truth—they want a shortcut to fame and fortune, not the truth. 
  • There’s no shortcut to becoming a professional writer. It takes time and commitment.
  • I don’t have an inside track into getting your book published.
  • If I take the time to look at your samples, I’ll tell you the truth and that may not be what you really want.

There aren’t any shortcuts to becoming a master at any craft, and writing is no different. Even exceptional talent needs time and experience to hone it into brilliance. I rejoice when I find those who are willing to put in the time and really learn about the craft of writing. Those individuals are a pleasure and I love taking time to help them. 

Now it's your turn to share. What funny situations have you encountered when you confessed you were a writer?

Edie Melson is the author of four books, as well as a freelance editor with years of experience in the publishing industry. Her popular blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands of writers each month, and she’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Her bestselling ebook on social media has just been updated and re-released as Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy and the social media director for Southern Writers Magazine. You can connect with Edie through Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Publishing house opens new imprint

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas introduces new imprint:

Lighthouse Publishing of the Caroinas Logo

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas To Launch New Romance Imprint

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas will launch its new romance imprint, The Candle Light Love series, April, 2014. LPC plans to release two new books in the series every quarter.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRLog (Press Release) - Sep. 13, 2013 - RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Candle Light Love series will launch in April, 2014. Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas (LPC) plans to release two new books in the series every quarter. Each novel will have a 55,000 to 60,000 word count, and the stories may be set in the United States or abroad. One goal of the series is to show characters struggling with their faith—much as they did in the Old and New Testament. Candle Light Love characters are flawed but saved through the blood of Christ and continue to work out their salvation through the choices they make—both good and bad.


How to Simplify Your Life So You Can Write

Wasted TimeWe all have the same 24 hours in a day. But it's what we do with those 24 hours that separates the productive from the unproductive. So how can writers simplify their life so they can find more time to write?

Prioritize

Think of the three most important things in your life. The three things you can't live without. Now contrast the top three things  you spend most of your time doing. Do they match? If not something is wrong and you need to re-evaluate your priorities and where you are spending your time. Your priorities don't match your actions and something has to change. If you're reading this, writing is one of your top priorities you don't spend a lot of time doing. As you re-evaluate where you do spend your time, determine what should go so you can make time for the top priorities on your list.

Make a List of your Have tos

Once you know your priorities, it's time to make a list of the things you have to do. You know, things like making dinner,  paying jobs, carpool, homework, laundry, yard work, house work... (okay, for me house work does not fall under the have tos. It's more like "when I get around to it.) But you get the idea.

Then find ways to simplify those tasks. Take cooking for example. When I'm in the mood to cook, I bulk cook several different meals at a time and freeze extra for those days when I don't have time to cook. Then I can pull out the frozen food and throw it in the crock pot in time for a hot cooked meal. Some people are more organized and plan for freezer cooking. Whatever your personality, you can simplify your life. You're writers, get creative!

Make a Plan or To Do List and FINISH

This one always trips me up. I LOVE to plan, but don't always follow through with one project to the end. So my life gets complicated by the half a dozen unfinished writing projects and household chores waiting to be finished. How to get around this? I guess I have a high tolerance for mental and physical chaos, but not really, all the "clutter" just robs me of energy, peace, and productivity.

What should I be doing? For me, starting with a short list and giving myself a deadline helps get me focused on task completion and closer to finishing a project. When I start a declutter project my kitchen, dining room, and office usually become more cluttered and can stay that way for weeks if I let it. But if I give myself a deadline to finish the project or at least box it up and get it out of sight until the next time, there's a better chance the project will be finished.

How about you?  How do you simplify your life so you can write?

Gina Conroy is founder of Writer...Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. Represented by Chip MacGregor, she finds time to write fun, quirky mysteries in between carpooling and ballroom dancing . Her first mystery Cherry Blossom Capers, released from Barbour Publishing in January 2012, and Digging Up Death is available now.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

All about loving and dying and inspiring...



Lynette Eason is the best selling, award winning author of the Women of Justice Series and the Deadly Reunions series. Since 2007, she has written/contracted thirty-six books. Currently, she writes for Revell and Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense line. Her books have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists. She has won several awards including the 2013 Carol Award for WHEN A HEART STOPS. Lynette teaches at writing conferences all over the country. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Lynette can be found online at www.lynetteeason.com and www.facebook.com/lynette.eason and @lynetteeason on Twitter.


Lynette, you've published how many novels? 
I have six published novels with Revell and six more in the line up. With Love Inspired Suspense, I have fifteen published and seven more to be released. I’ve also got an e-book short published by Revell that is a SHORT sequel (10,000 words) to the Women of Justice Series. I also did a free e-read for Love Inspired Suspense that released on the harlequin website in July.

How long did it take you to get a full-length fiction contract? 8 years.

Was there a specific 'what if' moment to spark this story that just won the Carol Award?
When A Heart Stops is the second book in the Deadly Reunions series. There wasn’t really a “what if” moment. At least not a conscious one. I wanted to write a book about a Medical Examiner and I loved Serena’s character from the Women of Justice series so I simply uprooted her, gave her a backstory and planted her in the middle of this series. LOL.

Do you have a full or part time day job?
I have a part-time teaching job. I teach sign language at an online public school.

If so, how do you balance your writing time with family and work?
I don’t really balance it…I seem to juggle pretty well, though. LOL. Seriously, no words of wisdom on this one. I just do what I have to do.

Did anything unusual or funny happen while researching or writing this book?
I went to the morgue and was totally grossed out. Found out I do much better with my imagination than I do real life. How funny is that!

Do you consider yourself a visual writer? If so, what visuals do you use? Nope. I don’t use visuals. I only look for pictures of what my characters look like when I have to turn in information for the cover of the book. I just see everything in my head.

Are you a plotter, a pantster, or somewhere in between?
I’m definitely in-between. I call myself a PLantser. I write until I need to know what happens next, then I plot, then write some more. With the Love Inspired books, I’m more of a plotter because I have to be. I don’t like it, but I do it to sell. Ha.

Have you discovered some secret that has helped your process for writing? No real secrets, just some things that work for me. And what works for me may not work for someone else. J

What are your thoughts on critique partners? 
If they’re good and don’t try to change your voice, then they’re a great idea. If they start making the story their own, then you need to ditch them.

Do you ever pound your computer over writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
Novelists sometimes dig themselves into a hole with implausible plots, flat characters or a host of other problems. What's the most difficult part of writing for you? The story’s TIMELINE! I seriously can’t get keep up with what happens when. I’ve had to really work on this.

What's your strength in writing (characterization, setting as character, description, etc)?
Probably characterization. I get a lot of emails from readers saying how they identify with one character or another.
  
Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy attic nook?
I work best at a café or somewhere like a Panera or the Barnes & Noble Bookstore café. I don’t know why, but I can focus so much better while there. I also work in my office which is in my bedroom. It’s a mess.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard? Keep writing.

Do you have any parting words of advice?
If you’re not yet published, don’t despair. Keep working, keep writing, keep learning and keep submitting. I love to hear from my readers. If you’d like to stay in touch, you can sign up for my newsletter (which goes out pretty sporadically, lol) at www.lynetteeason.com (new website coming soon!!) and find me on facebook at www.facebook.com/lynette.eason. Thanks for stopping by Novel Rocket and thank you, Yvonne, for having me visit. J

Back cover for WHEN A HEART STOPS – released October 2012

Spunky and outgoing, nothing much bothers medical examiner Serena Hopkins--except for the thought of falling in love again. But when a serial killer is picking off her former classmates, Serena's life becomes intertwined with her old high school crush, FBI agent Dominic Allen. Is the secret she's keeping putting her next on the killer's hit list? Can she trust Dominic with the truth before it's too late?

Intense, emotional, and fast-paced, When a Heart Stops will have readers up late as they race to the finish to find out what happens.


Back cover for NO ONE TO TRUST – releases January 2014

Summer Abernathy wakes up one morning to find her husband missing, three men in her home intent on finding him, and the life she's been living based on a lie. Which Kyle Abernathy did she marry? The computer programmer she met in line at the bank? Or the one who was apparently using that image as a cover story?

The search for her husband--and answers--takes Summer ever deeper into a world of organized crime where people are used one moment and discarded the next. And with her deepest relationship of trust already shattered, Summer doesn't know who to believe.

Always thrilling, Lynette Eason outdoes herself in this taut, breakneck story of lies, loyalties, and love that will have readers up all night to discover the truth hidden in the shadows.