Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bookshelf Friday-err...Saturday

Somehow I've lost a day this week--if someone finds it can you please give it back! What should have been my Friday post is now my Saturday post:) Hope you all don't mind.

Okay, the book...now, I must say I do not like textbooks. Never have. I learn by doing, so when people began to tell me about Browne & King's Self-Editing for Fiction Writers I was skeptical. Not that I didn't appreciate their suggestions, but I wasn't about to open a dry, stale book on how to write. I could not have been more wrong!

Browne & King-editors themselves-have a clever way of teaching several very important tools to new writers such as myself. Point of View, Show versus Tell, Beats, Characterization...and so much more. Their writing is lively, easy to read, and--for learners like me--each chapter closes with exercises for you to try. The answers to all the exercises are in the back, so you can easily see how you've done.

I've already learned so much from this book--it now sits beside me as I write--and I highly recommend it. Critique groups are great, but learning your tools and sharpening them is a must for all writers. If you haven't already picked Self-Editing for Fiction Writers up, you need to. It'll be the best $8.00 you spend on your writing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Little Hearts

My daughter (that's her in the rainbow suit) just got home from camp. The past few days I've heard about each girl from her cabin-in detail. I've laughed over stories and smiled over pictures. But nothing, absolutely nothing, beat tonight when I tucked her in. Holding her purple, dragonfly edged Bible she sat on her bed. "Can I show you one more thing from camp, Mom?"

She opened it. Found the index. Paged to Isaiah. Silently read a few words, then laid it on her bed with a nod. With all the motions she'd learned she said:

"Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength,
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40: 30&31

I love when little hearts get filled with His heart.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Senses: Sight


I grew up in a Christian household, but it wasn’t until I was a teenager that my personal relationship with Christ began to grow. I can remember the exact turning point in my life, and after that moment, God began to change me.

Change takes time. It is not a one time deal, it’s a constant motion. And it takes choice on our part to make change occur. Can I be honest here for a moment? I hate change! It’s tough. There are learning curves involved, and it’s often uncomfortable. But one thing I’ve learned, I’m always better for it. The more I experience the new change, the more it becomes natural to me and easier to choose. Then an amazing thing happens, the new becomes comfortable and the old is no longer appealing. That’s when I know the change has fully taken affect. It’s become my new habit.

Over the next few weeks I want to talk about some new habits centered on our senses. Today I want to start with sight. What we take in.

What enters our bodies through our eyes is crucial to the well-being of our mind and soul. It can be a stumbling block to us. God cautions us in Mark 9:47, If your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.” Sounds harsh, right? I believe it was because He wanted to catch our attention. Make sure we don’t fool around with this—it’s that important.

Sight plays into all aspects of our lives. What we watch on TV or the movies. What we read in magazines and books. What ads we gaze at—even at the mall. Let’s not even start with what you can find on the internet. Temptation is always there, but we can choose to look elsewhere. If we don’t, it can hurt us.

I know because I played with this fire when I was younger. I was in love with all things horror. My friends and I would have marathon movie sessions. I’d read books that would make your toes curl. I told myself it was because I loved the adrenaline rush and I could handle it. And yet, I couldn’t understand how I, a child of God, struggled with a spirit of fear. All the while, I was feeding it with what my eyes took in.

And it was easy to hide. Things of our sight always our. My books and movies never would have been allowed in my family, but I still accessed them. Now I want to say something here. If you feel the need to hide something, it means you shouldn’t be doing it. Put it away. Run as far from it as you can. Stop it! You’re playing with fire and you will get burned. I know I did.

I struggled for years with that spirit of fear, and my soul is still sensitive to the area. To this day I will not even watch a commercial that deals with fear based subjects, the occult or horror. I will not touch a book with the subject matter. It is a part of my life that I must consistently give over to God and tread very carefully with. If you’ve dealt with an area of something your eyes took in that became a stumbling block, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, don’t start. Keep what your eyes rest on as holy. Everything you see, ask if it glorifies God. Does it edify your spirit and your walk with Him? If the answer is ‘no’, walk away. If the answer is ‘I’m not sure’, walk away. This is not a game you want to play. It will suck you in before you even realize it.

And if you’re currently stumbling with what your eyes take in, give it to God this instant. Cover it in His blood. He can deliver you from it, but you need to choose to take it to His altar and leave it there. It might be a minute to minute issue for you, but He will take it if you are ready to give it to Him. Read Romans 8 and remind yourself when His spirit lives in you, you are no slave to sin.

This week I challenge you to remember—your eyes are controlled by voluntary muscles. They do not stray someplace that you haven’t first directed them. What you're looking at is feeding something in your life. What are your going to feed and what will you starve?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bookshelf Friday - Purple Knot by Raquel Byrnes


I am not typically a reader of books written in first person, but Raquel Byrnes' Purple Knot was an exception! I absolutely loved the feel of this book. It reminded me of an old black and white detective movie set in a current backdrop. What fun it was to lose myself into this book and the mystery Reyna and Jimmy push to solve. Check out a blurb from the book and an excerpt below.

A killer strikes.

A love rekindled.

A life-altering choice.

When her best friend, is murdered, Reyna Cruz doesn't believe the police have the whole story. An investigator by trade, she has the talent to track Summer’s killer, but when clues lead to a family connection and a vicious gang, she suddenly becomes the hunted. At the end of her rope, Reyna must decide to trust the God she believes abandoned her.

Wanting justice for his sister’s murder, lawyer Jimmy Corbeau agrees to help Reyna—even though she’s his ex-fiancĂ©, and their break-up devastated him. Romance is reawakened, but so are memories of their tragic undoing. Jimmy must decide if he will fight for a future with Reyna or allow their past to derail the investigation and his second chance at love. When the investigation goes awry and Summer’s infant daughter is kidnapped, Reyna must put her life on the line.

Will Jimmy and Reyna survive the desperate measures it takes to recover his niece, catch a killer, and secure a happily-ever-after for them all?

Excerpt:

“Rain, you have to decide what kind of person you’re going to be. I have to know.”

“What are you saying, Jimmy?” Confused I looked at him.

“I’m saying that you’re racing towards a crossroads, and I want to know what path you’re planning to take.”

“Now is not the time for this conversation, Jimmy. We’re chasing a suspect!”

“Now is exactly the time, Rain. I need to know, right now because anything you do out of anger or grief will directly affect me, too!” Jimmy said loudly.

Dread bubbled up into my chest. I tried to answer calmly but I felt control slipping. My throat ached with the words I wanted to shout at him. “Don’t make me do this, Jimmy. Not now.”

“Yes, now, Rain.”

“What do you want me to say?” I shouted. “What do you want to hear?”

“I want to hear that you won’t put your anger ahead of our future. I want to hear that you can walk away from the possibility of revenge.”

“Why…why would I do that?” I looked at Jimmy with wonder.

“Because you’ll destroy us in the process, Rain.” Jimmy reached out and caught the hem of my sweater in his fingers. He looked worried.

“Are you asking me to choose between nailing Parker and loving you?” Anger and confusion whipped through me like a cold wind.

“No. I’m asking you to choose between the hatred boiling in your veins and the grace
hanging over your head.”

If you're interested to learn more about Raquel, Purple Knot or her other upcoming books, check out her site at: http://www.raquelbyrnes.com/


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beautiful

Take a moment this morning...turn off all the noise or plug in your head phones and push play on this song. You don't even have to watch the screen, just close your eyes and listen. Set your mind on Him and praise Him, let the beauty of His Holy presence saturate you.




Monday, July 18, 2011

I'm Dying Here!

My pastor said something recently that stuck. Relationships were not meant to make you happy—they were meant to kill you.

Yeah, caught me too, but he was one hundred percent correct. Let me explain.

We all have relationships in our lives. Spouse, children, parents, friends, whatever the combination. All day long we give to them. And, for the most part, we love it. Sometimes don’t even realize we’re doing it. These relationships bring joy to our lives and we are richer because of them. Until they suck all the joy from us.

Come on. You know what I mean. They tick you off. Fall short of your expectations. Say unkind words. Rob you of your joy rather than giving it. And we’re supposed to still love them? Oh no way! Can anyone relate?

Or how about this one: You start your day fresh. You give to your boss, your hubby, your children…whoever it may be. But all day long no one gives back to you. Your internal score sheet says “ENOUGH! I’ve given all day and got nothing back. What about me?” I mean, it’s not so bad being selfless when someone notices it and pours back into you, right? That’s only fair. The thing is, life’s not fair. Sorry, but it’s not. And praise the Lord for that. I don't know about you, but I don't deserve a bit of the grace He's given. It's not fair, and yet, He gives it to me time and time again.

See, ultimately, life is about giving, not getting. No score sheets involved. It’s about looking outside yourself instead of at your own reflection. That’s exactly what Christ did for us. There is nothing, absolutely nothing we have that He needs. And yet, He loved us enough to die for us. Even though He knew we were still going to mess up. Romans 5:8 says that “God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” He didn’t exactly wait for us to fill Him up. Didn’t ask us what we could give Him. He died for us...right where we are. How can we do anything less for others?

But He knew it would be hard. We’ve got these sinful bodies that we’re wrapped in and these minds, wills, and emotions that want life to be all about us. So He gave us relationships to keep our focus someplace else. See, I relate to the scenarios I wrote above. I’ve lived them, I’ve felt them. So I know—as just one example—that after pouring myself out and “dying” all day long, when my child comes and asks me for one last thing, I don’t want to give it. And here’s where my real death occurs. Because giving to them in that moment just about kills me…no, it does kill me. It becomes all about them and nothing of me. And sometimes, I refuse to die. I can be incredibly selfish.

What about you? Can you relate to any of this? The solution? We need to draw near to Him. We need to remember that we can do ALL things through Him. Sometimes you may need to look away from the person you’re “dying” for, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you’re not doing it for them, you’re doing it because it’s what God’s called you to. It’s what He did for us. And it's how we show Him to others.

I challenge you today, die for just one person. When you do, they won't see you anymore, they'll see Christ, and it may just change their life. It will definitely change yours.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Changes here:)

Well, I said a few weeks ago that I was going to do some small changes. I'm starting them this week. Not much will really change, it's more of a directional/organizational change for me. This blog started a year ago, and I'm taking my next "step" here. The challenge to myself is to post more regularly. Here's where I'm headed, with God's help:)

Stepping-Up Mondays: My day for devotionals. The day to challenge myself and you to grow, to keep moving, one step at a time, along the path God has for you. Until now, I typically wrote a post as God laid it on my heart. Since He instituted this change, I'm really trusting Him to see it through. I'll do my part, and believe He'll do His.

Wildfire Wednesdays: Praise and Worship. I think sometimes we forget how Holy God is. We forget about the simple act of praise and worship to our God. Whether it's a song, a verse, or a praise report, I want to take time each week to praise Him.

Bookshelf Fridays: I love, love, love reading...but I think you know that by now! I've also met some amazing authors in this past year. I want to pass on some of those finds. It may be weekly, or hit and miss, fiction or non-fiction, but Bookshelf Fridays are all about good reads with a faith content.

So, I hope this shows you what's coming. I hope you'll come along on the ever changing, still growing, ride with me. I may still change some names--you may notice I already changed the Friday one--and I may post additionally on off days. But for now, this is the path I'm stepping on:)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bookshelf Friday - Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig

Ronie was kind enough to send me an early copy of Wolfbane to read. What a page-turner! She grabs you from sentence one and takes you on a fast-paced ride that will keep this book in your hands until the final page is turned--and leave you anticipating the next title in this series!

If you haven't read any of the Discarded Heroes series, no worries! Each book ties the team closer together but is a stand-alone story. You can easily start here. But make sure you purchase the other two titles, Nightshade and Digitalis, or put them on hold at your library. Once you finish this one you'll want to read the others. Come read all about Wolfsbane and meet Ronie, below:


A female demolitions who unwittingly holds a lethal secret. . .

A former Green Beret grappling with terrifying memories of a mission gone bad. . .

And the jungle that threatens to swallow them whole.

In Venezuela, Danielle Roark and her Army Corps of Engineers team is captured. After six months of captivity, Dani escapes, only to end up charged with espionage and forced to return to the jungle to prove that a nuclear facility exists. On the mission, she is abandoned by God and country. Will she live long enough to make those responsible pay? Haunted by memories of a mission gone bad, former Green Beret Canyon Metcalfe wrestles with his developing feelings for the feisty senator’s daughter. Setting aside his misgivings, he and Nightshade take the mission to help Dani unravel her lethal secrets. Separated from the team leaves Dani and Canyon vulnerable—and captured. After he is rescued, Canyon discovers Dani has been left behind. Livid, he sacrifices everything—including his role with Nightshade—to find Dani. Can Dani and Canyon fight the nightmare armed with only forgiveness and raw courage? Or will they lose their lives, minds, and each other?

READ AN EXCERPT OF WOLFSBANE NOW!

BUY WOLFSBANE NOW!

Wolfsbane, Discarded Heroes #3

Endorsements

The author’s military background shines through in vivid detail…Kendig pulls out all the stops with page-turning action, adventure and danger. Book three in the Discarded Heroes series can pretty much stand alone. ~~Romantic Times (Chandra McNeil)

Ronie Kendig serves up a mix of machinegun-fast action, touching romance, and more twists than a coil of a detonator wire. Get a good grip on the edge of your seat before you start reading! ~Rick Acker, author of When the Devil Whistles and Dead Man’s Rule

Non-stop, fast-paced, machine gun type action that will leave you exhausted--and yearning for more. Don't even try to put the book down because you'll find yourself drawn right back, unable to do or think about anything else until you reach the end. Kendig has created realistic, imperfect characters to cheer for and cry with as they struggle to find God and do the right thing. A definite keeper for your read-again shelf." ~Lynette Eason - best-selling author of Too Close to Home and Don't Look Back

WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING:

In a book loaded with action, great characters, and high emotion, there are some beautiful reminders of God. From His plans for an individual’s life to His amazing forgiveness, there are several gentle reminders of God’s presence in the midst of the storm.

This series has excelled in reminding the reader of many fundamental spiritual truths while providing hours of fast-paced entertainment. Most of all it has highlighted the soldiers who have left the battlefield, but are still haunted by the war. For those that can handle emotion, passion, and raw intensity, this is a fantastic series and one I highly recommend. ~~Melissa Willis The Christian Manifesto

***********

This is the most amazing book I have read in a long time. It has a high intensity, quick

moving plot that doesn’t sacrifice depth of character. Descriptive settings cause the reader to feel like they are living the adventure alongside the characters. The characters, though unique, feel true to life and experience struggles and sins that aren’t solved in the blink of an eye.

Just when you think she’s packed everything into the plot, Ronie Kendig adds another layer. This book is worthy of 5+ stars. It has just the right balance of adventure, suspense, and romance.

If you only read one book this year, this is the one I recommend. ~~Kristen Lowery Read Great Fiction

********

Every second of this book took me on a journey. From the rain-soaked jungles to the courtroom to crazy dangerous secret missions to almost as dangerous family get togethers, each step of Dani and Canyon''s is a challenge that you get to experience with them. The best thing about Wolfsbane are these "real" characters who make real-life mistakes. Sure, most of us aren''t a part of a covert ops team but we are exposed to some of the same difficult choices and crossroads on our faith walks that Dani and Canyon faced.

Wolfsbane is by far my favorite of the series. I stand in awe of these incredible books and the uber-talented Ronie Kendig. If there are only a few books that you add to your "to-read" list this year make sure one of them is Wolfsbane! You won''t regret it. Trust me. ~~Renee Chaw Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot

ABOUT RONIE:

Ronie Kendig grew up an Army brat and married a veteran. Together, she and her husband have four children and three dogs. She has a BS in Psychology, speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Rapid-Fire Fiction, her brand, is exemplified through her novels Dead Reckoning, a spy thriller, and the military thriller series, The Discarded Heroes, which includes Nightshade (Retailer’s Choice Award Finalist), Digitalis, Wolfsbane, and Firethorn (January 2012). Ronie can be found at www.roniekendig.com or www.discardedheroes.com

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Choice

It's so easy to focus on our failures, isn't it? At times, they are so large we believe we cannot possibly come back from them. Will we ever change? Do we ever do anything right? Oh believe me, I understand these questions.

We will never be perfect here on this earth. Saved, yes...but saved does not make us perfect. It simply means that now we are God's and He's able to work in us and through us. And, chances are, once satan knows you're saved, he will come at your weak spots again, and again...and again. Because his goal is to make you useless in the army of God. To focus you in on your problems so tightly that you miss the grace of God and His plan for your life. To get you to stop trying.

So what do we do?

We choose.

We choose to push our focus back towards God. We choose to pick ourselves up again, by His strength. We choose to believe in His changing power in our lives. Because what other choice do we have? To give up? To stay where we are? Neither are ones I want to make. You?

You may keep making the same mistake. It may drive you nuts. But remember, God is bigger. He can change you. It might take longer than you ever thought, but keep on keeping on. Life in Him is a process. The change that occurs is your testimony. And it will change lives--yours included. If you simply choose to keep moving. One small step at a time.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Water


So this past week and a half has been crazy--oh who am I kidding? Life can get crazy, can't it? But, the last few days especially have seen a lack in sleep on my part. To compensate, I've upped the caffeine. Coffee, cola, Monster...all perfectly natural and the way God intended. (You hear my sarcasm, I am sure)

Was it any surprise then, come yesterday, that my body felt horrible? Even my lower back, directly over my kidneys, hurt. It hit me then, with my body in pain, that I hadn't had a drop of water in days. I'd survived on other liquids, high in caffeine, and my body was crying out for water. I loaded up a 30oz. water bottle and started drinking. The remainder of the day I touched nothing but water and by evening I felt immensely better--physically at least. It was then I realized...not only had I not been drinking my water from the tap (no laughing, those of you who know me know! Yes, it was filtered) but I also had missed out on the Living Water that fills my soul. Just as my physical body was crying out to be hydrated, my very soul was too.

It's times like this that I stop and simply marvel. God is amazing, isn't He? He creates nothing by mistake. He is an author, He draws all sorts of parallels and weaves in analogies for us. Some subtle, some vibrant, and all on purpose. There is a reason our physical body craves water, and a reason He calls himself Living Water. Our souls need Him. They are thirsty for Him. We can drink lots of substitutes to try and fill His spot, but we will ultimately reach a point where our soul hurts for Him. He is all that can fill the need within us.

Just as I filled up my water bottle, I realized I needed to sit and take a long drink of Him. I began by spending moments in prayer, then cracked open my Bible and allowed Him to pour His Word into me. His very presence saturated my soul. And you know what? As He filled all the dry places, I began to thirst for more of Him.

What about you? Are you thirsty for Him? Know this. His Water will never run dry. No matter how big your thirst is, He is bigger. Cry out to Him. He's ready to shower you with His presence, and your life will never be the same.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Margie Wins:)

I just drew the name from my hat and MARGIE - you won the copy to Journey's End. Thanks so much everyone for participating! Wish I could give you all a copy of this wonderful book:)

Margie - please contact me at sltuttle5@gmail.com and place Journey's End in your subject line.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Win A Copy Of Journey's End

Dora Hiers debut novel Journey's End is out and what a great read! The light banter between Chelsea and Trey had me laughing, the suspense kept me turning pages and the story of faith reminded me that I can "do all things through Christ who gives me strength". (Phil. 4:13) Take a moment to read about Dora and her book then leave a comment at the end. Make sure to leave your name and check back on Monday. I'll draw one of your names and one lucky commenter will win a copy of Journey's End.

JOURNEY'S END

An inspirational romantic suspense by Dora Hiers from Kannapolis, NC, available with White Rose Publishing

Devastated after the brutal murder of her husband, Chelsea Hammond vows never to love another lawman. Intent on rebuilding her shattered life, she turns her focus to helping troubled teens. But when an angry father bent on retaliation, threatens her, Chelsea must turn to the one man she never thought to trust: Deputy U.S. Marshal Trey Colten.

Trey wants only to protect Chelsea, but she blames him for her husband’s death. Trey can relate. He blames himself, also. As danger lurks, Trey begs Chelsea to heed his warnings. He let down one Hammond. He won’t let down another—especially one who now holds his heart.

When Chelsea is snatched from her home, can she put aside her fear and trust Trey with her life? Can she forgive him for destroying her past and let him help to rebuild her future?

Where one journey ends, another begins…

Want to read an excerpt?

“I suppose I should have been a vet.” Chelsea stroked the dog’s fur from his head all the way down his back, careful not to touch his wounded leg.

“Maybe. But I don’t think you’ve wasted your energy or your talents as a guid

ance counselor. Teenagers can’t seem to resist you, either.”

That produced a full-fledged smile in his direction. Way to go, Colten!

“Remember that natural charm I warned you about?”

He threw back his head and laughed. “Yes. And after a few days in your presence, I’m inclined to agree with you.”

He pulled into the veterinarian’s parking lot and glanced her way, surprised to see her grinning. “What?”

“Saved by the vet.”

Her words hit him like a piano dropping ten stories. She was flirting with him.

He took his time walking around to her side of the truck. He opened the door and leaned in, planting his hand on the seat next to her shapely legs. His face hovered inches from hers while he savored the way her wavy hair cascaded down her shoulders, the lips that curved in that always graceful way, and the eyes that spoke everything his heart wanted to hear.

Her eyes closed, and her lips parted slightly.

Trey snapped out of it. He couldn’t do this. He was on the job. She didn’t know the secrets he knew, the truth about her husband.

Her eyes startled open. As much as he wanted to partake and enjoy, he couldn’t. He touched a silky curl framing her face and ran it through his fingers. “You need to know that right now I’m working. But there will come a time, soon, when I’m not.”

JOURNEY'S END is available in e-book and print editions at www.WhiteRosePublishing.com www.Amazon.com and www.Christianbook.com

meet Dora Hiers

After a successful auditing career, Dora left the corporate world to be a stay-at-home mom to her two sons. Eventually, needing something more to fill her days, she started writing heart racing, God-gracing books. Dora belongs to the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Carolina Christian Writers.

Dora and her husband make their home in Kannapolis, North Carolina. When she’s not writing, Dora enjoys spending time with her family, guzzling cafĂ© con leche, kicking back in her recliner with a good book, teaching Sunday School, vacationing in the mountains, watching football, and walking her dog.

Contact Dora ~ dora@dorahiers.com

Dora Hiers
Heart racing, God-gracing Romance
DoraHiers.com

Facebook ~ Dora Hiers Author
Journey's End ~ available now ~ White Rose Publishing

Journey's Edge ~ 2nd Place Unpublished Beacon Contest 2010