Friday, July 31, 2015

Free Books! Our Thank You to You

(Please note, this one is for newsletter subscribers only.)

It's our party and we'll laugh if we want to, dance if we want to, sing if we want to. You can come to, if you really want to!

Aren't you glad I didn't sing that little ditty out loud? (On account of I'm tone deaf. It's a real problem. One that turns a lot of heads during Sunday worship. *sigh*)

When you signed up for our free, quarterly newsletter (which is really almost like an e-zine, if you ask me) did we tell you you'd receive a lot of great perks? I think we did, but in case not... By being a faithful subscriber, you receive a lot of great perks!

Hm... That sounded a bit redundant. Let me try again.

Actually, I won't. I think you've got the idea, and now you're wanting to know what exactly those perks are, right? Well, they'll vary throughout the year, I suppose based on what crazy-fun ideas zip through our brains. This month you have the opportunity to win some awesome free books! If you're as much of a book addict as we are, you're squealing with anticipation right now.

But before I tell you about all the awesome books you're eligible to win, let me ask you, did you
receive your free e-copy of both Freedom to Love compilations? I normally send them out about the same time I add you to our mailing list but I'm not the most detail oriented person, and sometimes, names slip through my keyboard. So, if you haven't received those compilations, please let me know and I'll get them to you right away.

Now to this newsletter's contest...

Oh, wait! You already know all about it! All the details are in the newsletter that should be sitting in your inbox at this very moment. Had a computer glitch that somehow ate the email? No worries. You can read our latest edition HERE! (Scroll down for contest details.)

Winner will be announced in our next edition.  Not a subscriber? Not a problem; signing up's easy!

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Learning to Zip it!

Stockimage photo taken from
"If you don't stop talking, I'm going to stuff you inside your desk!" My fifth grade teacher's face puckered into such a tight, twitching frown, I couldn't help but laugh... 

Which did little to help my cause.

(Obviously, this was before Facebook, Buzzfeed articles, and sue-happy parents. Not that I'd be particularly pleased if a teacher said that to my fifth grader, when she was in fifth grade, that is, but I'm pretty sure I deserved every ounce of exasperation my teacher tossed my way.)

"Can you please be quiet for one minute?" my poor, frazzled mother often pleaded.

Sadly, the answer was always the same--no. It seems if something zips through my brain, it's only a manner of nanoseconds before it zips right back out--through my mouth or keyboard. 

I've always been... wordy, a trait I'm often thankful for, sitting on this side of the computer screen, for really, where would a writer be if they had nothing to say? But even so, I'm learning--still!--that even writers need to keep their big mouths shut on occasion. On many occasions, actually.

"Fools have no interest in understanding; they only want to air their own opinions" (Proverbs 18:2 NLT).

Am I the only one that thought of Facebook as I read that verse? Everyone's got an opinion, right? And sadly, everyone has an online platform to air that opinion, often quite loudly, as if a snarky Facebook update will somehow instantly change our world. 

In a way, I suppose it might, although dare I say not in a good way? 

What if, like this verse implies, we spent less time yapping and more time listening (or reading)--more time truly trying to understand one another? How many arguments would be avoided? How many friendships preserved? 

"The mouths of fools are their ruin; they trap themselves with their lips" (Proverbs 18:7 NLT).

Ouch. I've learned the truth of this verse numerous times, from both sides of the issue. Sometimes I've done well, by God's grace alone, and have held my tongue when it would've been easier to
Photo by imagerymajeestic
taken from
pop something off, but sadly, there have been other times my words have stirred the tension pot. 

So this is my lesson this week--to be, as James put it in James 1:19, "quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry" NLT).

What about you? Are you normally pretty good about thinking before you speak? When does this most tend to be a struggle for you? What about when you feel attacked? How can you keep from popping back in kind and, like James urged, be slow to speak and slow to get angry? 

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. We can all learn from each other!

But, before you go... 

I want to invite you to join my street team! Not sure what that is? Let me tell you. ;) 

A street team is a writer's inner circle of readers. Basically, they're a group of freaders (friends and readers. I just made that word up. Are you impressed? ... Yeah, me, neither.) Anyway, a street team is a group of folks, like you, who enjoy a writers writing enough that they want to tell others about it. (This can be such a huge help to writers!) In return, they get fun perks like free autographed books, first peak at covers, are invited to help name characters that will appear in upcoming novels (if I wrote suspense, that could really be fun, right?? haha!); they'll get to read deleted scenes no one else will get to see, and more! 

Sound fun? It will be, I promise!

Here's what's expected of street team members:

  • Tell your friends, family, co-workers, the random strangers you meet on the street, about the book. (Assuming you like it, of course!) You can do this by:
  • Posting reviews on Amazon, Goodreads,, etc.
  • Sharing links (and links to reviews) on Facebook and Twitter
  • Sending invites to friends and family for an author's events
  • Inviting friends over for chocolate and skype with an author parties
  • Attaching post-it notes to random vehicles with the phrase, "Please read this book:--" Um... on second thought, don't do that one, please. I'd hate to scare people. 

So, I'm out of ideas now... Your turn! 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Looking Ahead - Are you a Loose Ball?

by Holly Michael
Fourth of July has passed and summer is winding down. Stores are already advertising back to school sales. The tune, "Do your ears hang low." will soon cease to be stuck in our heads and the ice cream man will do whatever he does in off-season.
from Morguefile
When my kids were young, this time of year meant anticipation of a new school year and the excitement of an upcoming football season.
Now, my children are grown.
Nick (left) is gearing up for a new football season for the Ragin' Cajuns in Lafayette, Louisiana. Betsy attends the same college--winding up a summer internship and looking ahead to the fall session of teaching and finishing her graduate degree. Jake got married to a delightful girl, Emma, and completed his career in the NFL.
He's working for a marketing company in Dallas and starting a foundation to help kids with type one diabetes stay healthy and active - Type Won. Jake is a type 1 diabetic and also an author of a football-themed devotional book, now released from Harvest House Publishers: First and Goal -- What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up.

I'm so proud to share an excerpt from Jake's FIRST AND GOAL, a devotional about a new school year that started out a little bit rough for him and his little sister, Betsy.

Loose Ball - A ball that is lying or rolling on the field after a fumble, not in possession of either team.

We had just moved from Pennsylvania to Michigan a couple days before school started--me in the third grade, my sister in second. On the first day of school, my mom dropped us off and gave us instructions to ride the bus home. She'd repeated the bus number over and over to me that morning so I wouldn't forget it, and she even stuck a note in my pocket and taped one inside my backpack along with our new address.

We got on the right bus after school. One by one, kids got off. Down to just Betsy and me, the driver stopped in the middle of nowhere and opened the door. "This is your stop."

"But it doesn't look familiar," I said. "I don't think this is it. I don't see my house anywhere."

He flipped down the visor. "This is your stop. See you tomorrow."

I grabbed my sister's hand and we stepped off the bus and stood at the edge of a wheat field. The road sign at the corner read "Eighteen Mile Road."

"We're lost!" Tears welled up in Betsy's eyes.

"This is Eighteen Mile Road. We live on Eighteen Mile Road. Worst case scenario, we have to walk eighteen miles to find our house."


That didn't help. "Our house is just up there. I'm sure of it."

She sniffed. "Really?"

"Yep. Let's go." I had no idea where our house was, but I was glad she stopped crying.

We walked for a little while on that empty road with not a car or house in sight, just trees and fields. I was scared, but I kept telling my sister the house was just ahead. Truth was, we were two lost kids, loose on the field and not in possession of anyone. I feared we might never be found.

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son." But the father said to his servants, "Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." So they began to celebrate (Luke 15:20-24).

"Jake! Betsy!" Far down the road, my mom appeared like a mirage. She and my little brother ran toward us. When she reached us, my mom knelt and gathered both of us into her arms.

Later, my mom called the school and ripped the principal a new one, explaining that anything could have happened to us on that lonely road. She'd been waiting at the end of the driveway, watching for us, and she had no idea why the bus hadn't brought us home.

Having been lost, we really celebrated our reuniting. The prodigal son in Luke must have felt like us in that moment, lost, away from his family, and not belonging anywhere until his father reclaimed him as his own.

We are like that with God when away from Him and lost--lost in our sin and rebellion like a loose ball rolling on the field, poised to be claimed by either side. God is like the offensive player on the field, scrambling to take possession of us, like our mom finally did that day.

Along the way in life, it's easy to get lost. Coming home is sometimes more about God finding us. Whatever situation you get yourself in, however far you get from God, trust that He's out there looking for you. Keep moving on with your eyes focused ahead.

First and Goal – What Football Taught Me About Never GivingUp

Jake Byrne grew up in Rogers, Arkansas. A type 1 diabetic since the age of fourteen, he has since been proactive combating the disease and mentoring diabetic youth. He played football for the University of Wisconsin as a tight end, and went on to compete in the NFL. Originally an undrafted free agent who signed with the New Orleans Saints in 2012, he has also been a Houston Texan, Kansas City Chief, and San Diego Charger.
Jake Byrne blogs at
He can be reached through the following social media:
Facebook Page (Type Won):
Twitter: @sugarfreejb82
Instagram: Jakebyrne81

First and Goal, published through Harvest House Publishers, can be purchased at most all bookseller retailers and online booksellers. Link for Book at Amazon:

Holly Michael has enjoyed a writing career as a journalist, features writer, and a regular ghostwriter for a Guideposts magazine before authoring novels and nonfiction books. Married to Anglican Bishop, Leo Michael, Holly has three grown children. She lives in Kansas City and blogs at

Contact her at or on Facebook @  or Twitter: @HollyMichael

Holly joined her son, Jake Byrne, as ghostwriter in First and Goal, a football-themed devotional published by Harvest House.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Do You Live in Full Color or Hide Behind a Filter

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

I’m an amateur photographer and love all the creative things I can do online with the images I share. When I began experimenting, I got a little wild with all the different effects. By adding different filters, I could completely change the look of a picture.

Where once an image was sunny and bright, I could bring it down to look dark and gloomy. I could also do the opposite. I added frames, embedded graphics, even melded two images into one. The options were endless.

But once the new wore off, I found that my favorite images were the ones that looked most like real life—with little or no effects applied. The ones that captured that moment, without embellishment, brought me the most joy. Those unadorned pictures were also the ones that garnered the most attention online. They seemed to bring out the best conversations.

And not too long ago, God whispered a parallel truth to me about my own life. So often, when I share things about me, my tendency is to apply a filter. It doesn’t matter if it’s something positive or negative, I can’t seem to just lay it out there. I play around with what I share, how I share it, and even the spin I put on it when I share it.

I try to frame it and embellish it with explanations and logic. I apologize for the good things, downplay the negative things, and generally try to neaten life up.

But the times when I’m most honest about what I’m experiencing, are the times when I connect deepest with those around me. Those moments of transparency and realism are when God can come in and touch others. It’s when I’m most vulnerable, that I’m most valuable to the kingdom.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:15 (ESV)

Edie Melson—author, editor, and blogger—is a leading professional within the writing industry, as well as a popular inspirational speaker and mentor. She’s the author of While My Soldier Serves: Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military (Worthy Inspired). She’s also the military family blogger for Guideposts at While They Serve. In addition, as a respected expert in social media, Edie has the proven expertise to teach others how to plug in without sacrificing valuable writing time. Her bestselling eBook on this subject, has recently been updated, expanded and re-released as Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers. Connect with her on her popular blog for writers, The Write Conversation, which reaches thousands each month, and through Twitter and Facebook.