Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Register to win Janet Sketchley's Secrets and Lies



We're happy to have Janet Sketchley with us today! Register to win a copy of her Secrets and Lies by answering the question at the end of her post. She'll give a print copy inside the U.S. or an e-copy outside.

When Prayer Feels Risky
Guest post by Janet Sketchley

When I was little, I had two types of prayers. There was the mealtime-and-bedtime sort, where I rattled off a string of words in a comforting ritual that was a strange mix of security blanket and lucky charm.

Then there was the straight-from-the-heart sort, where I really talked to God – but only to tell Him what I wanted. And I had to include the exact details. What if He got it wrong?

A lot of calendars have come and gone since then, and I've learned that prayer isn't a superstitious chant. It's dialogue with our Heavenly Father, our Good Shepherd... our King. It's at least as much about reminding ourselves about His character as it is about pouring out our deeply-felt needs.

One of the hardest lessons for me was accepting that this God whom I can fully trust to work for good, and whose power hasn't faded since the Red Sea days may choose to allow pain despite my prayers. And I have to be okay with that, because as disciples said to Jesus when He wasn't doing things the way they expected, "Where else could we go? You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68)

God has proven His love in the details of my life. I know He's real. I just have to let Him be God His way.

In my novel, Secrets and Lies, the heroine, Carol, is afraid to pray. She's endured an incredible amount of loss in her life, starting with her mother's death when Carol was in her pre-teens. Her mom came to faith in Jesus, and her dad turned abusive. Then her mom died in an accident. What good were Carol's prayers?

Growing up, Carol made a string of questionable choices, but a few years before the novel opens, life looked positive. Her husband's death left her free to raise their sons without his disruptive – and destructive – influence. She was alone, but she was strong. Until her younger son got into drugs.

Carol wasn't a Christian, but she had a friend who'd been healed of a brain tumour through prayer. The two women prayed together, desperate but confident. Carol's son, Keith, died. He was 12 years old.

The friend blamed Carol. Clearly, her faith wasn't strong enough.

So now, in the novel, when Carol and her surviving son, Paul, are in danger, when Paul's choices are taking him out of Carol's plan for his life, she's torn apart but she's afraid to pray. What if she gets God's attention, and Paul dies? What if her lack of faith means God can't help? What if He won't?

Those are similar to my earlier questions about God not shielding us from pain. And Carol doesn't know how trustworthy He is, or how much He loves us.

Carol needs to learn that God's heart longs to pick up the pieces of our lives and not leave us walking wounded and alone. That she can trust Him.

She also needs to let go of the fear that if He doesn't answer her way, it's her fault. The Bible shows that faith is key, and that a hard-hearted or doubt-filled refusal to believe inhibits what God will do, but the Apostle Paul himself experienced God's "no" in response to prayer. (2 Corinthians 12:9) Sometimes God says "no" – we may not see why on this side of Heaven, but if we trust His heart, we can wait that long.

What would you say to someone like Carol?


Monday, November 3, 2014

Sharon Dow's "Huldah" Prophetess"





Huldah: Prophetess (First place Winner – 2013 Word Alive Press contest)
    Publisher:Word Alive Press, a Christian Publishing company in Winnipeg, Canada.
I am excited to launch this third book, Huldah: Prophetess. If you like intrigue, a battle between good and evil, and unexpected developments to keep you on the edge of your seat, then this book may be for you!
Cover blurb: A young girl has frightening dreams and visions. An innocent baby dies. A wicked king lashes out in anger and hatred, dispensing a vile revenge on the people of Jerusalem. Blood runs in the streets. Rogue priests plot evil deeds.
                   A long line of wicked kings has ruled the land and turned the people away from their God. From kings to priests, to the citizens of back alleys and byways, the darkness of evil infests the land.
                   By standing for God and following His leading, can a lone prophetess make a difference? Will anyone listen? Will anyone follow? Walk with Huldah as she faces evil head-on, defying the king and his advisors, and pointing the way back to God. The road she travels is dark and dangerous and will have you holding your breath as she journeys into the unknown.
1) How did this story come to you? 
After completing my first two books, both of which are Biblical Historical fiction, I wanted to stay with the same genre as I love finding obscure Biblical characters and creating a story around them. I keep a list of characters that I come across when reading the Bible. Huldah fascinated to me and when I found there was so little information about her, I was excited to write her story.
2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published. 
I entered the manuscript in the 2013 Word Alive Press Publishing contest and was delighted when Huldah: Prophetess was awarded first place in the fiction section. The prize was a publishing package. It was a very exciting time!
3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers. 
1. I love politics and follow the American elections as well as the Canadian ones. I’ve always had a secret desire to be involved. 
2. I have also had the desire to spend a year above the Arctic Circle to experience total light and total darkness. I almost went there to teach when I graduated. 
3. I would love to have tea with the Queen!
4) What are you working on now and what's next for you? 
I am currently working on another Biblical novel titled, Sapphira: Unveiled. Sapphira was the wife of Ananias and together they displeased God and received death as their punishment. It is approximately 80% complete.
Bio: Sharon Dow won the 2013 Word Alive Press Free Publishing Contest for Huldah: Prophetess. She is a graduate of the University of New Brunswick with an education degree. She has twenty-seven years’ experience teaching Junior High, serving as Vice-Principal, and finally as Principal of a Christian day school. She is the author of two previous books, Antipas: Martyr, and Pergamum: Satan’s Throne. Sharon also enjoys speaking to groups, sharing her writing, and encouraging others in their Christian walk. She has three grown sons, six grandchildren, and lives in Ontario with her husband, George.
5) Parting comments? 
I hope to write and publish at least 10 books. I have the ideas and titles for them and a little written for each one.
6) Where can fans find you on the internet? 
I have a website
http://www.sharondow.ca.  My books, Antipas: Martyr, Pergamum: Satan’s Throne, and Huldah: Prophetess are available for purchase on amazon.com, amazon.ca, and christianbook.com, as well as Christian bookstores and other internet sites.
 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Jennifer Slattery's "Beyond I Do"





Beyond I Do:
Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here:
http://issuu.com/newhopedigital/docs/beyond_i_do_sample?e=6362996/8842858


1) How long were you writing before your first publication? How many manuscripts had you written by that time? 
I’ve always enjoyed writing and was one of those students teachers often asked to shorten their papers. (Hm… my editor frequently requests I do the same to my manuscripts. Yes, I’m a tad verbose.) But I didn’t start pursuing writing as a career and calling until maybe six years ago. This might seem like a short period of time but as I’m blessed in that I’m able to devote a large chunk of my day to writing, which gave me plenty of time to learn and grow. And rewrite. Then rewrite some more.

By the time I received my first contract, I’d written a total of five novels, and they asked to see them all. They offered two additional contracts since, and hopefully, more are to come.

2) What’s your favorite setting for writing -- at home, in a coffee shop, on the front porch, sitting cross-legged on the living room couch, etc?  
If you’d asked me a few months ago, I would’ve said on the living room couch but lately I’ve been camped out in my office. This is mainly because I’m working on numerous projects at once, and my office allows me easy access to all necessary materials. Plus, it’s easier to tune out the television when I work late into the evening. 

3) Are you a morning person? A night owl?  
Um… neither? I get up early but absolutely don’t function until I’ve had a large amount of coffee and some quiet time with God. Without either, my day falls apart really quick.

4) When working on a manuscript, what do you do when you get stuck? 
This varies. Sometimes I’ll grab my smartphone with my Pandora app and go for a long walk. Other times I’ll do more research to help generate ideas. There are other times when I simply push through as I’ve found many times the block is a mental thing. 

5) Do you ever read your dialog aloud to see how it sounds? Have you ever performed
an action you want one of your characters to carry out in order to help you visualize or
describe it?  
Yes to both, much to the amusement of my neighbors.

6) How did you come up with the idea for your latest release? 
Many times plots and characters just pop into my brain and flow out. In fact, that’s usually when I know a story idea is one I should focus on—when it continues to unfold.

However, two aspects of this novel arose from very personal portions of my journey. One, the novel deals with homelessness, and I went through a period of homelessness as a teen. Second, the novel touches on surrendering to God’s call, something the heroine struggles with, as did I, when I first sensed God calling me to write. I felt certain I should be doing something much more logical. (grin)

7) Do you model characters after people you know? Are any of them (the real people, not
the characters) aware of it? 
Visually, sometimes, and there’s hints of my husband in every novel. But other than that, no.

8) Are your protagonists a lot like their creator? Or do you try to make them as unlike you as possible?  
In this novel, in some ways, mainly in terms of spiritual walk. As I referenced before, my heroine feels resistant to God’s call on her life, largely because she’s pursuing a safe and predictable life-plan. But she loves Jesus as much as I do, so I have a feeling she’ll surrender eventually. If she could slow her brain down long enough to actually hear Him!

9) Do you also write short stories, nonfiction, articles, devotionals, or other things, or are
you strictly a novelist?   
Oh, my! Um… yes. I think I dabble in a little of everything. Must. Slow. My. Brain. Down. Hm… It appears Ainsley, my heroine, and I, share yet another commonality.

10) If you felt the Holy Spirit urging you to quit writing, would you do it? 
Absolutely! I fought Him long enough when I first sensed Him calling me to write to know that’s not a place I ever want to go again. Though my salvation is secure, I know my intimacy with Him is largely dependent on my obedience, and I’ve come to cherish—deeply need—His daily abiding presence.

11) Do you read your reviews? Have you ever replied to one? Do you find they influence
your writing when you work on subsequent books?  

I do, and my editor often sends my work to early readers. Though I don’t always agree with everything, I’ve found I can learn from every review. And yes, I do think of them when I write my next novel. That doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll change anything, but I do consider all feedback.  

12) What question do you find most annoying on author interviews? 
I haven’t encountered any yet, and I kind of doubt I will as I know bloggers mean well and are truly do their best to help us authors out. Plus, I assume they know their readers better than I do, so their questions are most likely very applicable to their blog or magazine. 

Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently discounted in e-book format for under $3! You can find it here: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beyond-i-do-jennifer-slattery/1118903211?ean=9781596694170 
She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and writes and edits for Christ to the World Ministries. When not writing, Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here: http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.