Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas... What if There's More to the Story?

ID-100109865The Woman, the Child and the Dragon~The Adventure Awaits: The Choice is Yours

I never expected to hear a Christmas story that began in the book of revelations. A woman, a baby, and a powerful, murderous dragon lurking, waiting, watching... trembling.


Today my pastor Lance Burch of Reality Church located in LaVista, NE, shares an epic tale of Christmases past and those yet to come. This tale has been unfolding since the beginning of time, and today, you and I have a chance to step into it. To make history. To live big, dragon-slaying lives.


You can listen to this tale in it's entirety here, or you can read a shortened version below.


[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/181525613"]


It's one thing to appreciate the drama, risk and adventure of the story. It's another thing entirely to realize you are in the story.


What if our lives are a part of a cosmic conflict that has been raging since the beginning? What if part of the curse is that we don’t even realize that we are players in this epic tale? How much have we been missing out on? What if we are living the small story and ignoring the big story that is going on all around us? Missing adventure?


Revelation 12:17 says, "And the dragon was angry at the woman and declared war against the rest of her children—all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus." (NLT).

Jesus swaddled in manger
Satan is doomed but not yet gone. 2,000+ years ago, Jesus, God's Holy, powerful Son, came to the earth in weakness, as a human baby. And yet, this was enough to defeat and crush the dragon and ensure his doom.


Satan is a defeated dragon destined for hell, so he’s thrashing around trying hurt anything he can in the time he has left.


“He is filled with fury, for he knows that his time is short” (Rev. 12:12b).


We look around and he doesn’t seem defeated. We see wars, illness, unfathomable pain and cruelty, all signs of evil. And yet, the Dragon’s power is waning. His time is short. He is going down and he wants to take you with him.


Consider the end of World War II. The time between D-Day and final victory was the most terrible time of the whole war not because Hitler was winning, but because he was doomed.


Satan, our enemy, is angry at "...all who keep God’s commandments and maintain their testimony for Jesus" (Rev. 12:17b).


That’s us.


Upon Christ's birth, the Dragon incited Herod to murder thousands of children in his attempt to annihilate Jesus. This dragon who hates Christmas also hates Christians.


You don’t play patty cakes with demons… you fight. War has come to us. We cannot make peace with the dragon.


The dragon's weapons are insidious and sly.


For the unbelievers, he attempts to blind their eyes so they cannot see the gospel.

For the believers he attempts to make them live the small story. A story of monotony, of selfishness and pettiness. To keep us from the great adventure.

Satan is doomed. He couldn’t prevent the birth of Jesus; he couldn’t overcome Jesus; and now he can’t even get at Jesus. The child born on Christmas reigns from heaven’s throne. Satan can only to take out his frustration somewhere else, on the woman who gave birth to Christ and on the woman’s other children--us.


That's exactly what the dragon is doing. Even this time of year... he wants us to ignore the big story and live small lives around our own narrative. Because the dragon is the small story, he wants us to get wrapped up in the small things. His Schtick is to make small things seem big, trivial things important.


Are you living a small story life, characterized by:

1) Whining – “This stable stinks!”
2) Addiction – “Mmmm... I could really go for a burger!”
ID-1002766773) Drama – “I can NOT believe that innkeeper didn’t let us have a room. He is going to regret that when I post to Yelp! What are these Shepherds doing here!? How embarrassing!?”

The enemy will take full advantage of passive living. Lives will be lulled to sleep. Fear will rule. Anxiety will dictate. Toxic substitutes will be consumed because escape seems the only solution.


Could it be, the reason we buy into the small story is that we think that God is a taking God? That we have this sneaking suspicion that we are missing out?


All small story living is serving the diminutive power of the dragon. And that is Cosmic Treason.


Jesus is inviting us into the sweeping epic of all time... inviting us to play our part in the Big Story! A tale of ultimate evil being defeated by ultimate good is offering us a place of eternal impact.

Adventure awaits... make your choice. 


What do we do – once we realize we are in a war – to fight the dragon? We peel our eyes away from the small story. We ask God to open our eyes to His epic adventure. We abandon the insecure posture of Christians on the defensive about the war on Christmas and begin fighting the dragon on his territory. The territory of the hurting, the abused, the hurting...


“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.” ~Steve Mariboli

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What Price Freedom?

7895957150_63c1a4da0b_bAn estimated 36 million people are living in slavery today. That's more than the total number of people taken from Africa to America in the vast trans-Atlantic slave trade between the 17th and 19th centuries. SOURCE: GLOBAL SLAVERY INDEX 2013

That's a shocking statistic.

December 2 is the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. It marks the date of the adoption by the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others on 2 December 1949. It was first observed in 1990.

Slavery today isn't usually people in chains. Now it's sex trafficking, child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.

Want some more statistics?

SLAVERY IS ILLEGAL IN ALMOST EVERY NATION ON EARTH, BUT SLAVERY STILL EXISTS EVERYWHERE.


Modern slavery affects people in the world’s richest and the world’s poorest countries, within borders and across borders. Slavery can trap thousands in one place – like mines and factories – or happen at a small scale, where a single girl is trapped in a stranger’s home and forced to work without pay. SOURCE: U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT



THE VICTIMS OF SLAVERY CAN BE AS YOUNG AS FIVE OR SIX YEARS OLD.


Teenagers who reach for a better life can find themselves tricked into accepting the offer of a job far away that turns into the nightmare of slavery. SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATION FOR MIGRATION



7833461936_474218f532_bMODERN SLAVERY GENERATES PROFIT OF OVER US $32 BILLION EVERY YEAR FOR SLAVEHOLDERS.


That's more than the entire output of Iceland, Nicaragua, Rwanda, and Mongolia combined. And it isn’t just a problem in distant, poor countries; nearly half the total, an estimated $15.5 billion, is made in wealthy industrialized countries. SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION



SLAVE LABOR CONTRIBUTES TO THE PRODUCTION OF AT LEAST 122 GOODS FROM 58 COUNTRIES WORLDWIDE.


Official U.S. government research identifies many products – such as diamonds from Africa, bricks from Brazil, and shrimp from Southeast Asia – as products that are commonly produced with slave labor. Around the world, people are forced to work with the threat of violence for little or no pay producing dozens of things we use every day, like soccer balls, flowers, and chocolateSOURCE: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR

What can you do about all this?

  • Become informed. There are dozens of websites.  Here are a few to get you started: www.justiceventures.org   www.walkfree.org  www.fightslaverynow.org

  • Choose products and/or stores to avoid. Learn which brands use slave labor and just don't buy them. Those that don't may be more expensive, but that's because they are paying the workers an actual living wage. Just pick one to start with. Chocolate (ouch!). Coffee. Soccer balls. Sugar. Glass bracelets. T-shirts. See this site for more info.

  • Support fair trade organizations. Here's a good list to start with. Again, these products maybe more expensive, but they are worth it. Teach your children why you can get a scarf at Target for $8, but at one of these places it's $25.

  • Volunteer your time or donate your cash.

At Christmastime, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, who was born to give us ultimate freedom, it's a fantastic time to contribute to the physical freedom of others.

See more from Carole Towriss.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Heart of Thanks

We all have things to be thankful for. We'd like to share some of the things we're grateful for, not counting the most important, like our heavenly Father, His Son, the Comforter, our families.

[caption id="attachment_685" align="alignleft" width="150"]Christmas2013 004 My daughter, Stephanie, and her husband, Matt, two of my special encouragers[/caption]

Eileen: Recently, I flew to Washington state to visit my sister with stage three cancer. Our time together was a mix of uncertainty, yet peace and laughter. You see, Lois, doesn't share my faith, and though I've witnessed to her over the years, she's always turned a deaf ear to my attempts. Surrounded by my prayer partners and my daughter, Stephanie, who sent me away with scriptures, I plunged ahead, not knowing what would come of our time together. In her letter to me, Stephanie expressed her prayer that warrior angels would surround me in the airport and during the entire trip. Little did I know how God would fulfill this request through three special people I sat beside at different times on my return trip. One right after the other, they prayed for me, then looked into my eyes and said, "Don't give up! God's not done with your sister." I'm so thankful for the body of Christ doing what the Body does best--encouraging others!

Jennifer:  I'm thankful for grace, for the chance to begin again, no matter how bad I've flubbed it. I'm thankful that nothing in my life--not the most difficult or painful triumphs, the most mundane, or even the most celebrated triumphs--is wasted. I'm thankful for the gift of purpose, knowing that this crazy world truly isn't spinning out of control but rather, that each one of us are part of a greater story. And I'm thankful that I don't have to figure any of this out. Rather, all I have to do is draw near, rest in what Christ has done, and respond with surrendered obedience. Such simplicity!

Carole: I'm thankful for the legacy of faith my mom and grandmother have left to me. My grandfather died when my mother was eight years old, and her sister was ten. My grandmother's faith was simple, but strong. When her life-long friend was dying of cancer, I don't think it ever occurred to her to ask for healing. She asked instead for strength to deal with the pain. When I lost a baby a year before Emma was born, her journal said, "Carole lost her baby. Made soup today." It sounds strange, but I derive great strength and comfort from that. She just knew God would be there for her and life would go on. My mother is the same way. Even when life batters her, her faith never wavers. I want to pass that on to my children.

Tanya hosted a giveaway last week. She asked me to let you know the winner of that contest, so congratulations to Frances Cavallo! Please email me at carole@caroletowriss.com with your address so we can get that prize package out to you!

What are you most thankful for this week, aside from the most obvious things (God, family, friends)? Leave a comment and I will choose a winner and send a copy of either of my books, In the Shadow of Sinai or By the Waters of Kadesh.

Have a wonderful thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Swept Away

Cover of Swept Away
Faith-filled Friends has two special guests with us today, Laura V. Hilton and Cindy Loven. They're here to talk about their new release Swept Away and to give away a special gift that you don't want to miss!


Thank you Cindy and Laura for stopping by and sharing with us today!

Hi, Cindy here! I just wanted to share a bit about the quilt, in Swept Away. When I started researching special quilts in the Appalachians, I started learning about Ballad Quilts. The more I read the more I knew Swept Away had to be about a ballad quilt. A ballad quilt is a quilt that depicts an Appalachian Ballad. Our ballad is The Ballad of Pretty Saro. I won't share the words to it, because of copyrights, but I am including a link to a youtube video of the song.

Most ballad quilts are two varieties, one is individual blocks presenting the scenes, or one big piece of fabric with lots of scenes on it. I chose the individual blocks, there are twelve blocks in the quilt I designed for the book.
These are the blocks: ship on an ocean block, girl block, heart block, book of poems block, letter block, broken heart block, farm scene block, house block, road scene block, dove scene block, mountain block, ocean block. This is the order the blocks appear in the ballad. All of my blocks were applique blocks, when I designed the quilt.


Love it, Cindy! Thank you for sharing about The Ballad of Pretty Saro and the quilt!


Thank you for having us on your blog, we appreciate it. Thanks to all who visited, please leave a comment to win a Swept Away Prize Package.  A copy of the book, with some other special treats (bookmarks, candy and maybe another crafty surprise).


Yes, please leave a comment below to win this great Swept Away Prize Package! To find out more about Swept Away, visit Laura and Cindy's Facebook page.

Swept Away Blurb:

He survived a life-altering event. She is facing one.

Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her grandmother who doesn’t want to be cared for. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don’t always go as planned.

Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past—and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but also as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane’s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between him and his new employer’s granddaughter.

It doesn’t take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn’t what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts online researching him. What she discovers could change her life—and her heart—forever.

Buy Links:

Amazon

http://www.amazon.com/Swept-Away-Laura-V-Hilton-ebook/dp/B00KIW0M3A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1402602371&sr=8-1&keywords=Swept+Away+Quilts+of+Love 

Barnes and Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/swept-away-cindy-loven/1118933288?ean=9781426773624

Christian Books.com

http://www.christianbook.com/swept-away-quilts-of-love/cindy-loven/9781426773624/pd/773622?product_redirect=1&Ntt=773622&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP

Deeper Shopping

http://www.deepershopping.com/item/hilton-loven/swept-away-quilts-of-love/6154169.html

Cokesbury

http://www.cokesbury.com/forms/ProductDetail.aspx?pid=1259230&rank=1&txtSearchQuery=Swept+Away+Quilts+of+Love

BIOS:
Laura
Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and three of their children make their home in Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor. Laura also  has two adult children.

Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts (winner of the 2012 Clash of the Titles Award in two categories), and Promised to Another. The Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love (finalist for the 2013 Christian Retail Awards). Surrendered Love and Awakened Love followed by her first Christmas novel, A White Christmas in Webster County, as well as a three book Amish series with Whitaker House, The Amish of Jamesport series, The Snow Globe, The Postcard in April 2015, and The Bird House in September 2015. Other credits include Swept Away from Abingdon Press. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a professional book reviewer.

Laura's Amazon author page

Visit Laura's blogs: Lighthouse-Academy and Laura V. Hilton Twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Laura-V-Hilton/161478847242512 Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/vernetlh/


bio picCindy Loven, an avid reader all her life, is seeing her dreams fulfilled, with the publication of her first novel, Swept Away Quilt of Love.  She co-authored this novel with Laura V. Hilton.  Born and raised in Arkansas, she loves her home state and is happy to live there with her husband of nearly twenty-nine years and her adult son. She and her family are very active in their local church, serving in many volunteer positions. She and her husband are very serious about informing parents about the dangers of the choking, after loosing their youngest son to this dreadful 'game' in 2009.  When not busy with church or her job as a “pr gal” for another author, you can find Cindy in her craft room, ,sewing, crocheting or making cards.

Where to find me on the web:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorcindyloven

Twitter handle: @cndloven

Blog: http://cindylovenwrites.blogspot.com

Pinterest:http://www.pinterest.com/cndloven/

Amazon Page:http://www.amazon.com/Cindy-Loven/e/B00J54NEQY/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1



Have a wonderful week! ~Tanya


“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness."  ~Jeremiah 31:3

Monday, November 10, 2014

When Life and Fiction Collide

I was in a hurry. Shortly before a meal I'd intentionally planned to be simple, I received new and crucial information that turned my easy preparations into a grease-splattering mess.

ID-100214331The food: Nachos, an easy, widely enjoyed finger food that would allow the youth group kids to nibble on the move. (Because high schoolers don't sit still.  If you thought toddlers were antsy...)

But then, just as I'm beginning to load a baking pan with chips, my daughter comes in, alerting me to new information, such as:

Not everyone likes meat. Can you put it on the side?
Do you have enough sour cream? There could be 50 kids there tonight.

Did you buy green onions? (Those are her personal favorite, and yes, I know, I could've ignored that one, but something in my mommy heart makes it hard for me to say no to food requests. If you have insight into this, do share. haha)

Long story short, with no time to spare, I began zipping around the kitchen, dicing, frying, spicing... I felt fairly productive, like the Don Juan of cooking endeavors, until a strangely sweet aroma wafted from the browning ground beef.

A very distinct, sweet aroma.

ID-10053602Biting my lip, I moved to my spice shelf and inspected the labels nearest the shelf edge. Yep. Cinnamon.

Not cumin.

A dash of one small ingredient changed everything. (I'm sure there's some sort of spiritual analogy there. If you discover it, let me know. ;) )

Short on time or not, I had to laugh. Loud. I was living out a flipped version of a scene in my novel, Intertwined (not yet released).

In the story, Tammy Khun, a single working mother agrees to make home-made cookies for her son's end of school party. But then, she forgets about the endeavor entirely, until the day arrives. Then, in her haste, she buzzes about, grabbing spices here, stirring oats there, completely oblivious to the fact that she'd swapped chili powder for cinnamon. She's not alerted to this until, once at the school, she notices the puckered faces of those who bite into her hurriedly baked cookies.

Oh, poor Tammy! For her, it was too late, as the cookies were already dished out on many plates. Luckily, that wasn't the case for me. Double-luckily, meat browns quickly, and I happened to have another package of ground beef already thawed.

Even so, I found the correlation uncanny and quite hilarious. They say truth is stranger than fiction.

Can you relate to Tammy and my experience? When have you, perhaps in a hurry or maybe while distracted, fumbled up something that should've been easy? Can you share a time when you made a major blunder during food preparation? What happened?

BiblestudyinviteBefore I go, I wanted to invite the fiction-lovers among us to join my month-long, relationally based Bible study. Centered on surrender and discovering our unique, God-given calling, this study will use my debut novel, Beyond I Do, as a springboard. The study starts Nov. 10th and ends Dec. 10th.  You can find out more here! If you don't have the novel yet, you can purchase the ebook version at a huge discount (for only $2.39!) at CBD. Purchase the book here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sherlock, Shakespeare and Saxons

office shot hours



I am a word nerd. I love words. I love grammar. I love etymology. I love vocabulary.

I know the difference between nauseous and nauseated, fewer and less, affect and effect. I know when to use who and whom. I cringe when I see apostrophes used to make plurals. And while I collect egregious examples of bad grammar and spelling, mostly just to share with my daughter, I really do try not to correct or make fun of people who use language incorrectly in public or use proper English as a weapon.

I absolutely adore Shakespeare, even though I must admit I have not read all his plays.

I get a kick out of, and actually have an opinion on, the argument over the Oxford comma, and the singular “they” question. I understand both sides of the adverb debate. 

refridgeration
The History of the English Language was one of my favorite classes in college. I love that although English is indeed heavily influenced by Latin, most Latin vocabulary is in the scientific and technical areas. Our everyday words are actually Germanic, Anglo-Saxon. About a quarter of our vocabulary is Germanic. 83% of the most common 1000 words in today's English are of Anglo-Saxon origin: concepts like heaven and earth, love and hate, life and death, beginning and end, day and night, month and year, heat and cold. Words like path, meadow, stream, house, mother, father, cow, God, gold, work, land, winter. Words that make up the bedrock of life.

When I watch TV or movies at home, I turn on the closed captioning, a habit which drives most of my family nuts. In a lot of shows, the actors speak very quickly, or on top of each other, or there’s an accent, or background noise or music, and sometimes I miss some words. I hate that. I figure that the writers worked very hard on those scripts, and I want to catch every single word. I wouldn’t want readers missing some of my words, after all.

Even before the birth of Christ, English become a ravenous borrower of words. We borrowed from the Vikings, the Normans, the French. This is the reason we have such a rich and varied vocabulary, chock full of synonyms. From the earliest eras, we have Anglos-Saxon vs Norman: sick/ill, wrath/anger, rear/raise, hide/skin. A person sitting atop a horse can be called a rider (from the Anglo-Saxon ritter), a horseman (from the Vikings' Old Norse hross), a knight (originally Old English cniht), a cavalier (from French chevalier), or an equestrian (Latin).

A while ago a video from the BBC series Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, made the rounds on Facebook among my writer friends.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gnlhKWeDWMA]
The scene depicts Sherlock interviewing a prisoner in jail, trying to explain why repeatedly stabbing his girlfriend was just an accident. His English is abominable. “My father was a butcher and he learnt me to handle knives.” The inimitable Mr. Holmes first sighs loudly at every error, then corrects him each time. In the end he simply cannot deal with a client who doesn't speak English properly and walks away.

Now I realize others may find this a bit harsh, but I find that a completely acceptable reason to let someone be hanged.

He should have paid closer attention in school.

Or not stabbed his girlfriend.

His choice.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Story Trumps Style

EVAMARIEEVERSON2~Guest Post By Eva Marie Everson

Every writer knows that there are a few books gracing the bookstore shelves out there called "style books." I fear that is a misnomer. Perhaps they should be called "rule books."

A period goes at the end of a sentence. That's a rule.

How long that sentence is? That's style. As a Southern fiction writer, I am inclined to make my sentences a little longer than some. Start sentences in the middle. (See previous sentence for example.) Southern writers tend to drone on (and on) in their descriptions (you know, in case our Northern brothers and sisters don't quite get what we're trying so desperately to convey). In turn, when "critiqued" by other less-understanding writers or even readers, we get lines like "your sentences are entirely too long."

Well, that's style.

Just recently, after reading a string of books in which the writers broke all the writing rules, I realized that--in fact--what the authors had done was break rules of  style. Ah-ha. Now, did I throw the books across the room? No. Did I keep reading? You betcha (in spite of the fact that my editing brain would occasionally think: you just used that word in the previous sentence).

I pondered this.

I pondered this for quite some time.

And then it hit me ...

Story trumps style (and rules).

I didn't throw those books with all their broken rules and styles across the room because the stories within were fabulous! Compelling. Drawing me further and further in. Into the lives of the characters. Into their quandaries. Often putting me in the position of having to decide if I wanted to work and make money (for more books) or keep reading. 

As the president of Word Weavers International, as a teacher at writers conferences, and as a private writing coach and freelance editor, I get the "style/rule" questions a lot. 

"Make this one sentence a paragraph unto itself," I say to my client (or the conferee/fellow Word Weaver).

"But, my seventh grade grammar teacher said a paragraph has be x-number of sentences."

"That's a rule," I say. "That's not style. Forget the rules. Work on style."

However, after reading these last novels, I see the following in terms of importance:

  1. Story

  2. Style

  3. Rules


Whatever style you have, whatever rules you break, make certain you have a story that trumps them all.  Write in such a way that readers (and editors, etc.) simply will. not. care. that your paragraph only had three words in it. Or that your ellipses didn't have a space before and after it. Or ... whatever.

Story. Fiction or nonfiction--it's the story that draws your readers. It's the story that trumps all else.

-------------

51v9mro1yCL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Eva Marie Everson is a best-selling, multiple award-winning author of fiction and nonfiction. She is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and president of Pen In Hand, Inc. Her latest release, The Road to Testament, is set in North Carolina. She is currently writing a good story for Tyndale Publishing House, Five Brides, based on actual events in post WWII.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Literacy Decline?

Oh, the changes that have come to modern literature!

Sentences and paragraphs have gotten shorter. White space has increased. The stakes ID-100201420have gotten higher, for if they didn't, our texting, tweeting, movie-watching culture wouldn't read past page one.

Are we becoming an increasingly illiterate nation? One who, so desensitized, needs explosions, body counts, and flashy graphics to hold our attention?

And will the classics of old, the tales of whales and balls and fleeing slaves, slowly fade, soon to be forgotten?

Deshaies HeadshotToday fellow ACFW member Marisa Deshaies assures us, the great works of literature known as the classics are still alive and well among our book reading culture. And here's why she believes that's so:

Bright lights beam a marquee of Les Miserables in along New York City’s Broadway. Facebook posts shower users with advertisements of the newest version of a Jane Austen novel. A British actor’s posh voice delivers the BBC’s latest promotion for Masterpiece Classic. Walk into any bookstore or watch previews of upcoming movies, and you’ll surely come across numerous advertisements or displays of classic stories written many ID-10036810years ago. With each bestseller and Oscar-worthy movie comes a retelling of one of the well-known stories taught in English classes.

What is it that endears the public to the Classics? With the advent of three-dimensional directing, popular vampire lore, beloved magical adventures, and modern romance stories that fill the bookshelves and movie theaters, audiences do not lack amusing entertainment. Critics could argue, in fact, that Austen, Dickens, and Tolstoy are authors of the past. Why look back when there are unknown tales waiting to be told?

And yet, retellings of Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and other Classics continue to come to theaters and bookstores in droves.

Jane Austen’s novels are a particular favorite of authors and directors alike to recreate. In the two hundred years since Austen’s novels first hit the market, fan fiction and retellings are too numerous to count. Pride and Prejudice, in particular, is an audience favorite. Known best for her characters that pursue love in spite of difficult situations, Austen wrote novels that connect with young and old, male and female alike. Turning these novels into fan fiction and movies is a sure way to connect with book readers and movie watchers.

So what is it about the Classics that resonates so soundly with audiences? With Austen retellings, I’m convinced that readers and viewers live vicariously through the characters. Google-search the Jane Austen Festival, and you’ll see that while Persuasion doesn’t have witches or goblins and Emma doesn’t take place in a haunted mansion, readers of Austen novels and viewers of the novels’ movie counterparts are just as swept away by the stories as anyone reading Harry Potter or Twilight. Men and women dress in Regency costumes, attend balls, put on theatricals, and host luncheons and dinners, all in the fashion of Jane Austen’s time.

***


A graduate of the University of Delaware's English major, Marisa holds a Master of Art's degree in professional writing. Her career aspirations include working as an editor for a publishing house and as a literary agent. Marisa began reviewing books in January 2014 and now reviews for two web magazines, a reviewing company, multiple publishing houses, and directly for authors. In addition to her book reviews, she regularly blogs on her website, A Way With Words, and for fellow authors.

Connect with her online at her website, A Way With Words, on Facebook: A Way With Words (page) and Marisa Deshaies, Twitter: @deshaies89, Linked In: Marisa Deshaies, and Pintrest: Marisa Deshaies

Let's talk about this! Do you enjoy reading the classics? Do you have one that's your favorite? Do you ever read cliff notes with them? (I'm reading Uncle Tom's Cabin and the cliff notes are helping me get so much more out of the book!) Did you know you can normally download the classics and cliff notes for free? If you don't read the classics, is there a reason? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Angel in Disguise?

What can be worse than blowing a tire on a dark stretch of interstate at 2 A.M.?

Plenty can, but to two weary women traveling alone with no civilization in sight, over 100 miles away from completing our 1,480-mile round-trip journey, the thump-thump-thump of shredded tread was not a welcome sound.

Blog.1As I slowed the car to a crawl, I scolded myself for shrugging off every past opportunity to learn how to change a tire. Every news article I’d read about distracted drivers plowing into disabled vehicles parked on the shoulder flashed through my mind.

My choice was clear to me. I ignored everything my husband and automotive-loving son had told me about the hazards of driving on tire rims, and I forced the hobbling car several miles onward to the next exit. Risking damage to my vehicle seemed smarter than risking our lives.

My friend Bambi agreed.

We stopped at a closed gas station—the only building around--under what must have been one of three lights in the entire county, judging from the darkness surrounding us. After scanning the parking lot perimeter for boogey men and locking my car door, I fished my AAA card from my purse, but before I could dial roadside assistance, Bambi insisted we could handle the situation ourselves.

She’d apparently paid attention when her husband taught her how to change a flat.

Blog.2At her urging, we unloaded our luggage from the hatch, dragged out the spare tire and tools, jacked the car up (after repeated attempts), and set to work loosening lug nuts--or at least trying to. Making little progress, we tugged at, kicked, and even stood on the tool designed to loosen them. Do car manufacturer weld lug nuts on?

After a significant struggle and working up a sweat, we wrestled the lug nuts and hubcaps off only to discover the tire refused to separate from the car. No matter how we pulled or pushed, it wouldn’t budge.

I learned a new law of the universe that night: defeat gains strength when exhaustion holds its hand.

Thanking God for cell reception in this remote location (and praising myself for having renewed my AAA subscription), I finally dialed for help. A cheerful representative who apparently doesn’t need to sleep at night promised help would arrive, but not for another hour, at least. I craved my bed. With hope as deflated as my demolished tire, I answered her many questions to arrange a dispatch, but before we completed the call, a beat-up red pickup truck rolled out of the darkness and parked beside us. Before I could stop her, Bambi accepted the unkempt driver’s offer to help. My expression must have revealed my concern because she handed me the tire iron. A weapon of defense?

Sharing my apprehension, the AAA rep promised to remain on the line until she knew we were safe. Predicting tomorrow’s headline, “Women Slain at Rural Gas Station,” I immediately relayed this man’s physical and vehicle descriptions to her. If Bambi and I died that night, at least police would have a good lead in finding the murderer, who fetched a hammer from the bed of his truck. My heart raced, and I clenched the tire iron tighter, monitoring his every move.

While I considered where to aim to deliver the most effective blow when he attacked, he slid under the car and set to work. Before I blinked twice, he’d knocked the tire loose and installed the spare. Bambi had reloaded several pieces of luggage before I reminded my tongue to say, “Thank you.”

Turns out the man I’d deemed a serial killer worked as the property’s night security. My overactive imagination, a symptom plaguing writers, had assessed this man’s character and plugged him into an unsavory category based upon his physical appearance alone. Of course, his lack of uniform assisted my prejudice, yet as I looked into our rescuer’s eyes for the first time, I stood convicted of misjudging a man with a good heart.

Of course safety is a concern in today’s society, but how many kind souls do I shun with suspicion? How many friendly folks do I mistake for having ill intentions? How many angels in disguise do I fail to entertain because of fear?

If Jesus had rolled up in disheveled attire driving that red jalopy, would I have treated him with the same trepidation?

Having a healthy dose of caution is wise, but having faith feels better. I must remember good people come dressed in every style. They hail from every walk of life. They sometimes roll out of darkness to come to our rescue.

How do you balance trust and fear? Have you ever misjudged someone based upon a faulty first impression? Have you received blessings from an unlikely source? Let’s chat about it below!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Wishing You Were Here

Emma visaTomorrow my baby girl leaves for Italy. For four months.

She’s a junior in college, but she lives only forty minutes away and comes home three or four times a week, so she hasn’t really “gone” to college. This will be the first time she’ll be away for so long.

It took us a long time to get pregnant—eight horrible years. We tried literally everything science had to offer. She was state-of-the-art. We lost a baby right before her, on Christmas Eve day. I was beyond shattered. That was the only time we had ever been pregnant in seven years, and it lasted less than a month.

Emma BabyI decided to try once more, then I would be done. We’d try adopting, which at the time my husband wasn’t too thrilled about. We tried again that spring and it worked. Emma was due in January. I don’t think I breathed until I was six months along. I didn’t unwrap any of the clothes until three weeks before she was due, just in case I had to take them back. That turned out to be the night before I went into labor. God delivered her to us on Christmas Eve day, exactly one year after one of the most devastating days of our lives. John says he heard God say, “Now do you trust me?”

We named her Emma Noelle, and took her home on Christmas Day. Everybody asks her if she feels shortchanged being born so close to Christmas. She always answers, “No.” If they knew the story, they’d know why.

EmmaEmma is changing from my daughter into one of my best friends. I love spending time with her. I will always be her mother, of course. She still calls to ask my advice on everything from friendships to cooking. But more and more often, she’s got a solution in mind, and she’s just wants to see if it’s the right one instead of having absolutely no idea what to do.

Letting go is hard, but it’s what we’re meant to do as parents. It’s our job to bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord, and then send them out into the world to tell others about Him. Even though they take a part of our heart with them.

Tell your children about it, and let your children tell their children, and their children the next generation. (Joel 1:3 HCSB)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

No Conference This Year?

ACFW 050a

A couple years ago, in August of 2012 to be exact, the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference was coming to Dallas and I had every intention of attending. Everything was ready. I had a flying partner going to conference with me, my one sheets printed, pitch memorized, even my critique partner had her long johns packed because I freeze her out when we room together. Everything was set, so I thought, until I felt the Lord leading me to stay home. Not long afterward, I canceled my plans.

Through this experience I wanted to know the reasons why other writers didn’t attend conferences. Was it because of the Lord’s nudging as in my case, or was it something else? I contacted my friend Alice Wisler to write a post about not being able to attend a conference and today I want to share that post with you she’d written in 2012.

~

When asked to write about not attending the ACFW Conference in Dallas this year, I thought that sounded like a unique slant for an article. Since it’s more interesting to read a variety of opinions, I sent out a request to my fellow writers to help me out.  I emailed a list of reasons for being unable to go to the conference and asked them to share benefits of not attending.

But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered what I had agreed to write. Why would anyone care about those of us not going to the conference?  We might come across as sticks in the mud. Who wants to read about our plights?

Maybe no one will respond, I thought, and I’ll ask if I can write about baking bread in a can instead.  But the responses did arrive.  I heard from nearly thirty ACFW members.  As I read over each email, I sensed a similar thread.  God.  Now since we are a Christian organization, I suppose focusing on God is to be expected, and yet, I was moved by the conclusion I came to (but you have to read this whole piece before I’ll share that).

Face it, not everyone gets to go to every conference.  There are many reasons why people don’t attend, some being:

  1. Lack of finances

  2. Illness

  3. Responsibilities at home

  4. Fear of travel

  5. Not my bag or cup of tea


Like Joanne Sher, Heather Ruppert, Sherri Wilson, Cynthia Lovely and Sherri Decker, the majority of people who replied said a lack of finances was one of the biggest reasons.

Diane Dean White cited health issues. She has severe back pain.

Many expanded on their responsibilities at home. Kathryn Bain is co-chairing the Ancient Romance Authors Boot Camp and needs to be available to prepare for this event. Thomas Smith of North Carolina writes, “A member of our extended family is ill and my wife and I are helping out financially.” Katie Clark will be taking care of her six-year-old who has cancer (having had my own young son die from cancer treatments, my eyes welled at her response.) Along with finances not being available, Joi Copeland said September is a busy month for her family.

And is there a fear of flying?  Yes!  Carolyn Boyles said, “I get terribly airsick and at security, I always have to explain the four titanium plates in my neck.”

Linda Samaritoni joined ACFW in June and is still on a steep learning curve.  Basically, she feels the need to figure this wonderful organization out, and by next year, hopes to be at the conference.

While most not going stressed they’d miss the fellowship with other authors, Julie Arduini voiced the introvert’s point of view.  She believes being part of the ACFW Conference is a serious commitment and she isn’t ready to delve into the social or business aspect of conference attendance just yet.

Joy Melville shared that the conference last year made her aware of God’s calling on her life to write, but this year she hasn’t felt the nudge from Him to attend.  Jan Warren hasn’t felt it either.  (I understand both completely; I have yet to feel a push to attend a conference and therefore, haven’t been to any writers conferences.)

This brings me to my last point:  God.  (I told you that I’d let you in on what I concluded.)  ACFW members are looking to God, believing that he will prompt them to go or provide financially if they are to go.  We are a group of writers seeking God not only in our writing, but also in the decisions surrounding conference attendance.

To sum it up, I want to quote Normandie Fischer, who put it so succinctly,

“As long as we try to be obedient, there’s peace in our decisions, isn’t there? It’s when we step out of time and try to grasp at the carrot that we become frantic and wonder if we’ve been left out, set aside, not part of the in-crowd.”

So are there benefits to staying at home, just as there are benefits to attending?  Writers plan to work on their manuscripts.  Cheryl Ekland stresses that her word this year is commit. That’s a great word for us all as we live out our writing journey.

For all who get to go to conference, know that many will be praying for you while you’re there, asking God to give you those divine appointments.

May God prepare our hearts for a beautiful experience this September, whether we’re at conference or at home in our various writing offices!

~ Alice J. Wisler, ACFW SE Zone Director. Written in August 2012

~

A few days ago I caught up with Katie Clark, Julie Arduini, and Joy Melville who were mentioned in the post and I asked them several questions about their writing journeys. Where are they now since Alice’s post? Did not attending the conference affect them as a writer? If so, how? Did God open the doors for their obedience? Here are their answers:

Katie Clark: I definitely feel God has blessed my writing. While I did not attend the conference that year, I was given the opportunity to go in with a few other writers and purchase the conference on CD. Listening to all of the sessions was a huge blessing. The next year, I was given the opportunity to attend conference, and what a great experience that was! However, this year I had to stick to smaller conferences once again. My writing has steadily improved regardless of conference attendance, though I hope to return to a bigger conference soon. It’s more in my willingness to learn, I believe. And as a side note, I had signed 10 book contracts before I attended my first conference.

Julie Arduini: I confess, I’m still holding out on attending conferences. It’s not because I think I’ve learned it all, because I’m absolutely a sponge when it comes to soaking up wisdom and resources from others ahead of me in the game. Like I wrote in 2012, I’m a classic introvert. Public speaking and connecting don’t bother me at all, but it’s very draining. Until I know God’s called me to attend and throws the door wide open, I’m still content reading all about it.

So far, I don’t feel penalized for making that choice. This year I signed with Chalfont House and Write Integrity Press for a total of four books. With traditional publishing evolving so quickly, I’m thrilled to be where I am and unagented. That’s not everyone’s plan, and I understand that. It’s God’s plan for me, and I’m more than content. Now, should a publisher ask me to attend, I would prayerfully consider it. It would be a step outside my comfort zone, but if I’m meant to go, I absolutely would. But, this introvert is staying home. Again. And I’m okay with that.

Joy Melville: I was going to pitch in Dallas in 2012, a story about a family in turmoil and a daughter who had been kidnapped, but God had put up a road block. He totally took away my desire to be at the 2012 ACFW Conference. He gave me other assignments, didn't provide the money, and literally gave me the opposite desire to stay at home. But in 2013, God told me to go. I pitched my WF story God nudged me to write in 2011, and came home with two requests for proposals. February of this year, GOD provided me with an agent, the right connections and resources to write book two of the trilogy, and then prompted me to register for 2014 conference in St Louis. Throughout the years when I’ve surrendered both my writing and conferences to His direction, God has provided.

Ladies, thank you for sharing your stories!

Isn’t it amazing how God works in each of our lives for His purpose and in His timing! Are you planning to attend the ACFW conference in September or another conference next year? Whether you are or have decided to wait, I want to leave you with a verse most of us are familiar with, but it is indeed life changing when we give our plans to the Lord.

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~ Alice J. Wisler grew up in Japan as a missionary kid, graduated from a Mennonite college, traveled extensively, and finally settled in North Carolina.  She’s the author of Rain Song (Christy Finalist 2009), How Sweet It Is (Christy Finalist 2010), Hatteras Girl, A Wedding Invitation and Still Life in Shadows.   Under the Silk Hibiscus, a World War II novel, will release this November. Ever since the death of her son Daniel, she’s taught Writing the Heartache workshops and speaks at conferences on the value of writing through grief and loss. Visit her website: http://www.alicewisler.com and join her on her author page on Facebook where she’ll be giving away prizes: http://www.facebook.com/alice.j.wisler#!/pages/Alice-J-Wisler/333751835453

~ Tanya Eavenson enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers International, and writes for Christ to the World Ministries. Her novels are available on Amazon and other retailers. You can find her at http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Redeeming--Reclaiming--the Romance Genre

ID-100160826Culture wars will always abound, and with them, false assumptions, misinterpretations, and confusion.

Add to this the fact that Christian fiction is still very much an emerging (and growing. Yay!) genre, and one would expect falsities and misconceptions to arise.

This is the case any time we make generalities, but as one of my wise crit partners once reminded me, one must be careful not to state absolutes that can't be verified. Or those that in fact can be falsified, if we'd but take the time to look past the stereotypes to the components within.

In other words, just because a chunk of romance novels on today's market would make your grandmother turn a deep shade of tomato doesn't mean ALL romances would. In truth, ID-10085912a large number of them quite likely would turn her heart to her husband and her Savior, reinforcing the biblical definitions of true love, as outlined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Ephesians 5:22-25, and Genesis 2:18-24.

True romance--the committed, holy, and pure love between a husband and wife--reveals, in a tangible, miraculous, and mysterious way, the love Christ has for the church. (Eph. 5:31-32)

Considering the great emphasis Scripture places on this most intimate of all human relationships, should we as Christians not write about it?

These were questions I wrestled with when I first became a novelist. Though I must say, I didn't wrestle with the questions so much as other's perception of them. Yes, I strive to please God above all else, but sometimes it's hard to drown out the opinions others throw one's way.

BeyondIDocoverI had recently finished my debut, a missional romance centered on Genesis 2:18-19, (Read the first few chapters free here. Buy it for under $8 here.) when influential evangelistic leaders began saturating the web with articles condemning ALL romance novels, making no distinction between the secular and their Christian counter-parts.

And those who hadn't read the works of Francine Rivers or Mary Connealy or ...

the book of Ruth?

And Hosea (the book Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love is based on)?

And... (insert a slight chuckle, for I'm certain you caught my point)

heartily agreed!

And so, I grew quiet, convinced in my call but concerned regarding the opinion of others. Some of whom I greatly respected.

But God continued to unfold beautiful stories within me, stories that reminded me of my MenStevesweet, strong, Christ-focused husband.

Stories of men and women seeking to find that most sacred of human relationships, the one that would "complete" them, that would bring strength to their weaknesses and who, united in mission and ministry, would help them discover, embrace, and live out what God created them to do.

Which is, I believe, the deeper meaning behind Genesis 2:18:

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”

A helper/helpmate, who brings out the very best in their spouse, not so they can achieve great wealth or worldly esteem but rather, so they, together, can fulfill that which they were created to do.

In essence, I write about what I know, for I would be nowhere near the woman I am now--nowhere near the friend, the wife, the mother, the Christ-follower--if not for my real-life hero. (Incidentally, the picture of me and my handsome railroader above was taken a couple weeks after my husband donated a kidney. Talk about a real-life hero!)

IDOTo my love, my warrior, and closest friend, thank you for showing me, daily, what biblical romance looks like. Thank you for standing behind me as I seek to live out that which Christ called me to--writing stories that reveal the depth and power of His love and grace. Thank you for holding me through my darkest moments, carrying me through my greatest struggles, and walking beside me through the immeasurable joys that can only be experienced in the context of "till death do we part."

And thanks to the Savior that melded our hearts together and showed us true romance--the kind only Christ can birth and sustain--is something to be celebrated.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Are you an inspirational (the official term for Christian fiction) romance lover? What do you enjoy most about the novels you read? Who's your favorite author? What are some qualities you feel make up a great hero, in life and in fiction?

Share your thoughts with us!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Headaches and Happiness

headacheI thought I was supposed to have this post up last week, but I spent most of Tuesday trying not throw up. I get migraines when it storms. I take medication to prevent that, but it doesn’t always work. I also have medicine for the pain, but it only dulls it. I woke up Wednesday in a panic thinking I'd missed my day, so I wrote this post and was ready to publish it when I noticed it was actually Jennifer's week. I guess my foggy brain mixed things up.

Pain is a complicated thing. It can be anywhere from a mere annoyance to life-threatening. And while I'm in the middle of a migraine, and to me it's all-consuming, I know that really it’s more toward the inconvenience side of the scale compared to what some people live with. Or worse, decide they can't live with.

We want a pain-free life. Just look at the pain reliever aisle of any grocery or drug store. We desire comfort. We crave happiness. I know one person who left a marriage barely a year old because he “wasn't happy.” I know two others who destroyed nearly everything—family, friends, marriages, careers—not to mention many people around them, in attempts to find personal happiness.

What I'm realizing is this quest for happiness is very much a first-world problem. Only here do we have such a luxury. Only here so we labor under such a delusion.

While we are busy rearranging our lives to avoid pain and seek happiness, girls in other countries are being kidnapped or forced to marry Muslims in order to produce more Muslim babies. Pastors are thrown in jail. Yes, I know people suffer for many reasons, but more and more often but it happens simply because one names the name of Christ.

bottle of spilled pillsGod never promised happiness. In fact, He guaranteed exactly the opposite: “I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world." (John 16:33 HCSB)

Jesus promised suffering, but He also promised joy. "I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)

Joy and happiness are not the same thing. As long as we have Jesus, we can have a joyous life, even in the midst of suffering. And even when we have a horrid headache! The next time you have one, think on all these things, and rejoice.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tapping into Your Creative Self

LittleAshWatch a preschooler for any length of time and you're sure to see fanciful worlds displayed. They can fly! And fight off stones turned into dragons, their limitless creativity forms entire worlds from tissue paper, leaving your bathrooms rather bare.

But somewhere along the way, many of us learn to stifle our creative side as we journey along the road of must-dos.

And yet, I believe there's great value in leaving reality on occasion. However, if it's been a while since we've run through the grass barefoot, rolled down a hill, or created flower veils from daisies, we might need a little help getting started.

Maybe that's why God gave us children. ;) Well, that and the whole procreation thing.

When was the last time you did something goofy-silly?

When was the last time you created some--anything--for the pure pleasure of it?

When was the last time you played?

When was the last time you had a belly laugh, the kind that sent mascara-streaked tears running down your face and had you snorting like a pig?giggle1_zps1784140f

When was the last time you set your to-do list aside and just enjoyed the day?

When was the last time you enjoyed the day with someone who you love?

If it's been a while, perhaps it's time to do some schedule shuffling. ;)

Share your thoughts, giggles, and random bursts of creativity with us in the comments below. :)

Monday, June 30, 2014

Freedom

Today is a milestone birthday for me.

I’ve now been alive for 600 months. That’s 2,609 weeks . . . or 18,262 days. Yet no matter how I break down the math, I’ve lived a half century. There! I admitted it!

FFF July 1 Pic.1While the chubby cheeks and chunky thighs of infancy may never have abandoned me, much can change in fifty years. When I reflect upon national events that occurred during my formative years, I see a theme emerging that is fitting for a child of Freedom Summer.

When I was one day old, Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, outlawing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Shortly after my first birthday, the Voting Rights Act, guaranteeing African Americans the right to cast election ballots, gained his signature. I rode to grade school with Helen Reddy belting “I am Woman” over the bus’s radio speakers. As women struggled for equal opportunities, I saw bras burned before I was old enough to wear one.

[caption id="attachment_548" align="alignright" width="199"]Photo Courtesy of MPhotography, Miranda Prusik Photo Courtesy of MPhotography, Miranda Prusik[/caption]

And each year, three days after smoke clears from my birthday candles, the skies light up as America celebrates another year of independence.

Another year of freedom.

As a woman whose age increases in the glow of July 4th fireworks, I can’t help contemplating which freedom is most important to me.  Freedom to vote? Freedom to work outside the home? Freedom to speak my mind on a public blog? All are priceless to me.

Yet another stands high above the rest:

Freedom to accept Christ as my Savior.

Amazingly, no individual, group, or government can take that privilege from me. No laws or chains or prison walls are strong enough to bar me from it.

FFF July 1 Pic.3Yet whether the Lord grants me another fifty years or fifty seconds on this earth, this treasured freedom comes with tremendous responsibility. As Christ's follower, I am called to realize my life is not about me. This day doesn’t exist for me to make a wish and blow out fifty candles atop a cake, though I likely will do so and enjoy it, too. Instead, my primary task is to live by and spread God's word, to share His love, to be His hands and feet, to put the needs and concerns of others above my own. Easy? Hardly. Worth it? You bet! The rewards fill eternity, and at fifty years, I'm just getting started.

Care to join me?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

“Some folks look at me and see a certain swagger, which in Texas is called walking.”  ~George W. Bush

A smile lifted my mouth when I read this quote from our former president. I could actually see him walking! Isn’t it amazing how a picture can stay with you over a length of time? This is exactly the reason I enjoy traveling to different locations to do research before I begin writing my novels.

Last year my family took a trip to Florida to visit the Tallahassee Museum. While visiting the “Big Bend Farm,” it gave me a glimpse of what living in the 1880s would look like. Here are a few pictures that have helped me to incorporate descriptions into my novel series called All Roads Lead To Texas.

[caption id="attachment_523" align="alignleft" width="300"]General Store General Store[/caption]




 

 

 

 

 

 

[caption id="attachment_528" align="alignright" width="300"]DSCN0331 The Buggy House[/caption]

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[caption id="attachment_534" align="alignleft" width="266"] The Potato House[/caption]

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If you ever get a chance to visit Florida, the Tallahassee Museum is a wonderful place for the entire family, and fun. There's nothing like flying across the trees at the Tree To Tree Adventures or having a sucker made with ants and crickets for an afternoon snack!

[caption id="attachment_537" align="alignright" width="194"]Yep! Bacon & Cheese! Yep! Bacon & Cheese![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_536" align="alignleft" width="243"]YUM! YUM![/caption]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some pictures help us to write a better story, others to recall special times with family and friends, or as proof when your children eat ants for the first time. In any case, pictures are worth a thousand words, just don't forget your camera!

 

DSC_0904Tanya Eavenson enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers International, and writes for Christ to the World Ministries. Her novels are available on Amazon and other retailers. You can find her at http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/

 

 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Summer Reading!

Happy Saturday to all our Faith-filled friends! We've got fun news to share with you, and just in time for the Fourth of July!

SweetFreedomCoverSweet Freedom book one is currently free on Amazon! Get it here!

Words hurt. Fears debilitate. Abuse creates long-term scars, wounds only a risen Savior can heal.
In these pages you will read stories of people held in bondage by fears, bitterness, and deep emotional wounds, set free by their loving, compassionate, all powerful Savior. The same Savior that longs to free you. For when the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.

This Fourth of July, may you grab hold of the freedom that penetrates to your very core. A freedom only Christ can give.

SF Front CoverAND book two in the series, Sweet Freedom A La Mode, is now available, and for under a dollar! Get it here!

For some, the fourth of July is a celebration of freedom; for others it is a reminder of bondage. Of pain. Of fear. Of hopelessness. But there is a hope that is deeper, a love that is truer, and a freedom that no one can ever snatch away.

How can one take a step toward that freedom when the road appears shrouded with insecurities and doubts? These pages contain numerous stories: a woman longing to start again but bound by the failures of her past; a young man who, upon reaching adulthood, must face his fears of death; a woman offered a chance of true love but held back by crippling insecurities.

Is God even there? Does He care…enough to reach down and pull these men and women from the messes they’ve landed in, some of them by their own hand?

Freedom. Peace-saturated, joy-infusing freedom.

We pray our stories demonstrate what it looks like in the day-to-day…and provide a little insight into how one grabs hold of that treasured state of heart and mind.

 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Better Than A Bodyguard

Tom Selleck as Thomas Sullivan MangumAs of last month, I have three teenagers in my home. Thankfully, my oldest turned twenty the day before Christmas so I don't have four. She is living in an apartment while earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography less than an hour from here, so we see her often. She is doing quite well in school, managing her money and making good, God-honoring decisions. So I know we can do it, with God's help. We can successfully raise a child to an adult.

But with the other three, ages 15, 13 and 13, it seems to be a bit tougher. Circumstances lately have caused me to often doubt my skills as a mother. Life at the moment is just ... murky.

My children often tease me because I enjoy watching old TV shows. My current favorite is Magnum, P.I.. Several years ago it was Hawaii Five-O. Not the current version full of bikini-ready bodies, but the original, with the skinny Chin-Ho and fat, male Kono. My husband once asked me why I watched such out-of-date programs, and I told him it was because they were so much simpler and cleaner. True, some characters still killed and others died. They were cop shows after all. But when they died, they were found without multiple, graphic bullet holes, lying in gallons of spilled blood. Unrealistic? Probably. I don't care.

It's a cheap and temporary reprieve from a stressful and chaotic world, I know. But sometimes I just need a quick escape. The world seems to be changing far too quickly, and rarely for the better. The things my 15-year-old sees are far different from what my older daughter experienced just five years ago. And other than locking her up in a box until she is thirty, which I have seriously considered, there is very little I can do to protect her from a world that is decaying by the minute.

Or I could hire a Magnum lookalike to follow my kids everywhere, to keep them safe and keep trouble at bay. But even that would only protect their bodies.

What I can do, though, is pray. Because only Jesus knows not only everything that is happening now, he knows everything that is going to happen, whether in ten minutes or ten years. He can protect their hearts and minds. He can save their souls. And He can give me peace throughout it all.

And no matter how good-looking Thomas Sullivan Magnum is, he can't do that.




Carole Towriss grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, watches chick flicks and waits for summertime to return to the beach. Her Biblical fiction novels, In the Shadow of Sinai and By the Waters of Kadesh are available on Amazon and other retailers. You can find her at www.CaroleTowriss.com.