Never Say Perfect

What is special about Never Say Perfect?

The setting includes Pawleys Island, Litchfield, Murrells Inlet, the Grand Strand—all in South Carolina and offers the names of some local points of interest such as Brookgreen Gardens, Hannah Banana’s Sunshine Cabana at the Waccawache Marina and Lazy Gator Gifts in Murrells Inlet. Other locations in the book are Cape May, NJ, New York City, and Milan, Italy.
What is a brief synopsis of the book?

Following a romantic second honeymoon in Pawleys Island, South Carolina, Dan Strickland mysteriously disappears at the airport. What inexplicable secrets was he hiding? Why had he seemed so loving and blissful during their vacation only to suddenly vanish? Will the weight of disaster cause Laina’s faith to crumble?

From Pawleys Island to Cape May, New York City and Milan, you will travel this emotion-packed journey with Laina and her family. Will they discover that one should “Never Say Perfect?”
What is the theme of the book?  What message are you trying to convey?

My purpose in writing this book includes demonstrating that our lives, as we currently know them,  can be irreversibly changed in an instant. Everyone has challenges in life, and no one is exempt from sad or difficult events. How do we cope? Even people with strong faith can experience times when they feel disconnected and distant from God, but the point is when we stop relying on God and placing our sorrows in His hands, the longer it will take us to recover. He is our strength.

Another message I wanted to share is how important our friends, and particularly for women—our girlfriends can be. Close girlfrends navigate any number of sorrows and triumphs together. Even if we are miles apart, we can still be there for each other, providing emotional and spiritual support. In Never Say Perfect, Laina’s girlfriends come to her rescue when she desperately needs them. She didn’t ask for their help—they just knew and took action. I have a group of friends who would do the same for me, and they are priceless. So a segment of this book was meant to honor them.

Just as in my first novel, Eyelash,  I wanted to tell a story that reminds us that family relationships can be complicated.  If no one makes an effort, nothing can be gained or resolved. Someone has to make the first move or the situation remains stagnant, and harmony is continuously obstructed.

There is more romance woven into Never Say Perfect than in Eyelash, but I have to be careful not to reveal too much of that aspect. I don’t want to spoil the mystery that was built into the story!

 

Are you taking a writing break now, or are there more books on the horizon?

 

Just a month before releasing Never Say Perfect, my nonfiction book, 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time! was published. I’ve barely had time to wear the marketing hat for 7 Easy Steps and now Never Say Perfect is out and in need of marketing attention as well. So I’ll be juggling promotion and marketing of both books, as well as speaking engagements for 7 Easy Steps. There are definitely more book projects in the works, however. Never Say Hopeless will follow, as will Never Say Final if I live long enough! These stories will continue the saga of the life of Laina Strickland and her family.  Additionally, I have two more nonfiction works to finalize, which are currently in various stages of completion—lots to keep me busy for a very long time. I’m also helping a friend, who has led a rather bizarre life, capture her story.  It is more dramatic than a Made for Television movie, and the scary aspect is that it’s all one hundred per cent true. At any rate, I won’t be bored for some time to come!
Is there anything you would like to add?

Yes, only that I really love writing inspirational fiction. It’s exciting to be able to mold my characters into anything I want them to be and to put them into situations that are intriguing. I love writing dialogue, something that some authors say that they despise, but I get a real kick out of putting words into the mouths of my characters. At the end of the day, however, my fervent hope is that hearts and souls are touched by reading my books. Nothing makes me feel that it’s worth all of the time and effort more than someone saying, “Your book entertained and blessed me all at the same time.”
Where do we buy your books?

 

They are on Amazon, Nook and Kindle. A visit to my Web site, www.awriterspresence.com will present you with the links to all formats.
 How can you be contacted?

 

E-mail: info@awriterspresence.com

Web site: www.awriterspresence.com

Blog: www.maryannebenedetto.blogspot.com

Travel blog: www.4womenwholove2travel.blogspot.com
 Brief bio:

Mary Anne Benedetto is a speaker, blogger, Certified Lifewriting Instructor, ghostwriter and author of Eyelash, Never Say Perfect and 7 Easy Steps to Memoir Writing: Build a Priceless Legacy One Story at a Time! Her passions include helping people capture and preserve their memoirs, guiding pet owners in writing their treasured animal stories, world travel and walking the spectacular South Carolina beaches. Visit her at www.awriterspresence.com, www.maryannebenedetto.blogspot.com and www.4womenwholove2travel.blogspot.com.

The Battle Is Not Yours

by:  Toy James

2 Chronicles 20:15, “…do not be afraid or discouraged because of the vast army. For the BATTLE IS NOT YOURS, BUT GOD’S.”

Regardless of how tall the giants (financial difficulties, divorce, lack of support, the many no’s, etc) are, God has your back. He’s behind the scenes working things out because this fight is not meant for you to lose. It’s meant to place you in a position to be BLESSED and equip you to be a blessing.

Keep holding on because the promises of God are Yes and Amen as stated in Corinthians 1:20, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.”

What has God promised you? Do you believe Him? If so, why are you now questioning that vision he gave you? Why are you questioning if the man/woman He promised you is yours? Why are you questioning if you should open the store, write the book or apply to the college of your dreams? Why are you settling for less because of your doubts?

Close off your ear gates to the negative people and things around you. Believe in the promises of God and allow Him to fight your battles.

Read 2 Chronicles 20 and take note on how Jehoshaphat led his people to victory to the point of claiming 3 days worth of his enemy’s plunder (equipment, clothing, etc.). He was victorious over his enemies because he prayed and praised God and believed that God would fight his battles to the point of victory.

Live victorious because you serve a mighty God! Get up and go fill out that college application! Get up and pray for the man/woman you were promised! Get up and speak against the things and people that said you would lose your house to foreclosure! Get up and fight for what God promised you, but know that you cannot win the battle without Him!

Interview with Ada Brownell

Grace & Faith is pleased to welcome Ada Brownell.  She is such a wonderful, Godly lady!

Welcome, Ada!

First, tell us a little about yourself.

I have been writing for Christian publications since age 15. I did interviews with people who had wonderful testimonies, devotions, Bible studies, evangelism pieces, personal experience  and some fiction. I sold my first book, Confessions of a Pentecostal, in 1978, not long before I receive my degree and went back to work as a newspaper reporter. After working as a journalist earlier, I’d stayed home 15 years with our five children. I studied fiction writing early in my free lance career and learned only about one in 1,000 novels sell and decided to keep writing for Christian magazines. But fiction ideas kept burning in my heart and after I retired, I  joined American Christian Fiction Writers.  I’ve since written a teen novel, Joe the Dreamer and the Mystery at Sir Henry’s Castle, and a historical romance, The Belle of Peachville.

I also had been working on a non-fiction book, Swallowed by LIFE, and it was published about the time I completed the romance. I put the romance on hold while I promoted Swallowed by LIFE.

Who are your greatest influences either writing or personal?

My parents and siblings have been my greatest influences. I am the youngest of eight, and we were rich in love, but almost destitute financially. But we were achievers.  My mother, who was able to attend college one year, figured out how to barter garden goods during the Great Depression and Kansas Dust Bowl so my oldest brother could board with a woman in town and go to high school.  Daddy dammed the creek, and put it through his garden. The brother, Virgil Nicholson, worked his way through college to a doctorate in education and sociology and was the force behind Evangel College’s great accreditation. Another brother became a minister. The youngest also received his doctorate and taught music at Evangel for years. My sisters ran businesses, worked or sang in the church, and were great wives, mothers and examples.

My maternal grandma, however, was a writer. In her youth she was an elocutionist and she recited and sang her original songs and often humorous poems on stage.  Her song, The Rocky Mountain Columbine, was a runner-up to be Colorado’s state song.

Our family became dedicated Christians not long after I was born, and the excitement of serving the Lord and lively Christian music always filled our house.

If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be and why?

Accept Jesus as your Savior now and spend your life following Him. That is the only way to have joy unspeakable and full of glory, supernatural wisdom, and assurance of eternal life with Him.

What do you like to read?  What are some of your favorites that you have read?

            I immerse myself in reading and I’ve reviewed 30-some books for ACFW writers. My favorite novel is Catherine Palmer’s Prairie Rose, written several years ago; books by Max Lucado; and Frank Peretti. Yet, ACFW members are writing outstanding books and often I’m awed at the interesting characters, the twisted plots that look as if they can never be untangled. I relish the joyful  spiritual uplift that often occurs when I read the stories. I think Rosie Mills (an orphan actually named Rosenblom Cotton Mills) in Prairie Rose was so hilarious and wonderful that she wrapped herself around my heart  and I’ve read the book probably close to 10 times.

What is a quote or saying you live by?  Where did it come from?  Why does it speak to you so deeply?

I have many scriptures, but my Mom lived by a motto that hung on the wall of our home: “Only one life, ‘Twill soon be past, Only what’s done, For Christ will last.”

What are you working on right now?

I still sell to Christian magazines and Sunday school papers and write op-ed pieces for newspapers occasionally. But I’m also marketing Swallowed by LIFE, speaking occasionally, and deciding where to send The Belle of Peachville.  The Mystery at Sir Henry’s Castle is still unpublished and I’m finding fewer publishers are interested in teen books, especially those that aren’t fantasy or speculative fiction. When I can afford it, I might publish the teen book with Amazon’s CreateSpace.

I like to post about twice weekly on my blog and I’m a frequent guest on other writers’ blogs. Thanks, Staci for the invitation to be on yours.

Where can readers find you on the ‘net?

               http://www.inkfromanearthenvessel.blogspot.com

               http://www.adabrownell.com

You’re welcome, Ada!  It has been a treat to have you.  Be sure to stop by again some time!

ADA BROWNELL spent 17 years as a newspaper reporter (the last seven years on the medical beat), mostly at The Pueblo Chieftain in Pueblo, CO.  She has sold approximately 275 articles and fiction stories to 45 Christian magazines and wrote one story on assignment for US Magazine. Her new book Swallowed by Life is available at http://amzn.com/1466200936

The Kindle version is http://amazon.com/swallowed-by-life-ebook/dp/B007BGCVSU/ref=sr_.1_3?s=books&ie+UTF8&qid=1330035854&sr+1-3

Four Things To Pray For Your Family (Or Any Other Person You Might Be Responsible For)

By:  Steve Biddison

 Read John 17: 7-19

Life Lessons

A careful examination of this part of Jesus’ prayer shows us some key areas where He was praying for those God had granted under His care.  He pointed out specifically that He was not praying these things for the whole world, but His prayer was only about the ones God had given under His care.  As we look into His prayer, we should do so with the understanding that those God has given under our care, especially our family, should be prayed for in the same way as Jesus prayed for His disciples.

  1.  That they would learn about Jesus (v.8).  Jesus said that His disciples knew with certainty who He was and why He came.  Have we taught our family (or others under our responsibility) about Jesus?  Do our kids know the basic stories from the Bible?  These are all things we should not only be praying that they know, but we should be making sure that they know.
  2. That they believe and accept Jesus (v.8).  Our prayer for our children from the moment they are born should be that one day they believe and accept Jesus.  It is not enough to know about Him.  Our prayer needs to be that they will one day come to know Him.
  3. That they obey Jesus (v. 6).  Jesus said in His prayer that His disciples obeyed His teachings.  In other words, they did not only believe in Him, they lived by what He said.  As our family members become Christians, we should change our prayer for them from praying to accept Jesus to praying that they would walk with Jesus throughout their lives.
  4. That they would know for certain what the truth is (v. 8).  As we pray for our children, especially when they start entering their teenage years, we should daily be praying that they know for certain what the truth is.  Their friends, environment, and even hormones will be trying to confuse them.  Pray that they know the truth of God’s Word so well that they will not stray from it.

Making it Personal

How well do your children (or those under your responsibility) know the basics about Jesus as well as other stories from the Bible?  If you are not sure, then they probably don’t know that much.  Make a plan on telling them all about Jesus and the Bible.

Are all your family members (or others under your responsibility) already Christians?  If not, make a commitment to pray regularly for their salvation.

For the most part, are your children obeying you and God?  If they aren’t, this would be a good time to make a habit of praying for them to walk in God’s ways.

Do your children (especially teenagers) know the truth so well that they don’t want to depart from it?  In today’s world, it is not enough to just know the truth because they were taught it.  They have to know it in their own hearts to survive in this world.  Pray each day for your children to know and walk in the truth so not to be confused by the world.

 

Review of “Deep in the Heart”

Deep in the Heart

Review by:  H. L. Wegley

Romance, faith, forgiveness, reconciliation, Deep in the Heart has them all. Like each of her books I’ve read, Staci Stallings’ new romance quickly draws you in. Deep in her readers’ hearts is where she plants her two main characters, down-to-her-last-dollar Maggie Montgomery and handsome Keith Ayer, son of wealthy, blue-blooded Conrad Ayer.

Both Maggie and Keith have deep wounds from painful childhood experiences. Maggie’s wounds are healed…almost, but Keith’s are still festering.

Coming from socially opposite ends of the universe and scarred by their past, can these two ever find enough common ground to share what each has that the other desperately needs?

Rather than spoil the story and its many surprises, I’ll let Staci’s skillful writing spoil you with her rich character development and captivating story line, combined with a strong cast of supporting characters.

Set deep in the heart of Texas, this is a story all romance readers are sure to enjoy, especially those who like a solid faith component to their romance.

Deep in the Heart will be free for all Amazon Kindle readers on April 18 & 19!

Click here to read the first chapter or here to see it on Kindle!

Author:  Staci Stallings is a Contemporary Christian author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection.  The full line of Staci’s books, which include Contemporary Romance, Bible Studies, and short story collections can be found at:  http://stacistallings.wordpress.com

Her romance novel collection can be found at:  http://ebookromancestories.com

Her Christian Living blog is at: http://spiritlightbooks.wordpress.com

Reviewer: 
H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He has a BS in Meteorology and worked as a Research Scientist in Atmospheric Physics at Pacific Northwest Laboratories, where he published scientific articles, reports and books. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area to pursue his love of writing by learning the craft of fiction.

Welcome Mary C Findley

Today we welcome Mary C. Findley to the G&F Spotlight!  Mary grew up in rural NY and her husband and writing partner is a “city boy” from AZ.
They met at college, taught school in AZ, MO and PA, homeschooled, and created curriculum and videos for church and commercial productions. They have three 20-something children, and now travel the 48 states together in a tractor trailer.

Hello, tell us a little about yourself.

I am a wife of 30+ years, mother of three 20-something children, and I travel with my husband as he drives tractor trailer cross-country. I taught school or homeschooled off and on for more than 20 years, I make Scripture-centered crafts, build puppets and perform with them, and love costume and set design.

Wow!  That sounds interesting.  So how did you come to be a Christian writer?

Started drawing very young, and all my drawings were of characters I wanted to write about. Becoming Christian was harder since I was immersed in fantasy and SciFi and it took me awhile to get past the secularist and godless emphasis of those fields. In the meantime Historical fiction beckoned and I was successful in that genre, going back to a time when belief in God was more the norm.

I find it fascinating that Christians are moving into the fantasy and scifi fields as well.  Seems there’s a genre for everyone these days.  I’m curious if you weren’t writing, what would you be doing and why?

Costume design or puppeteering, because I love those too. But this way I get to write the plays too.

Who are your greatest influences either writing or personal?

My husband inspires all my no-compromise, no quitting men. He’s my hero.

If you could give one piece of advice (not writing related), what would it be and why?

Don’t go into debt to get an education that might not even get you a job to pay the school bill back. Try to pay as you go.

There’s some good advice!  So what has been your greatest challenge in life so far?  How did you handle it?

Homeschooling. Not as well as I should have. I am not an organized person and you just have to be to do it well.

I think homeschooling would take a lot of courage too.  I’m amazed by those who tackle it.  On a different note, what do you like to read?  What are some of your favorites that you have read?

Great classic tales that teach piety, courage, patience, personal sacrifice and honor. Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens and Persuasion by Jane Austin.

What is a quote or saying you live by?  Where did it come from?  Why does it speak to you so deeply?

Proverbs 16:3 “Commit they works unto the Lord and thy thoughts shall be established.” Help for my disorganized, undisciplined, and undomisticated nature.

Haha!  I’m with you on that one!  What are you working on right now? 

Literature and English Skills Curriculum, a literature supplement to our Conflict of the Ages series, and three fiction projects: One involving a Christian Victorian Steampunk suspense story about favorite literary characters (Oliver Twist among others), a sequel to my fantasy The Baron of Larcondale called Three Healers for Kolt-Kutan, and an allegorical treatment of persecution and spreading the Word in a world where Nimrod and Semiramis have created an “immortal” dynasty seeking to “open the Stargate” and commune with gods.

Wow! Nothing like having a full plate!  So tell us a little about things you have out now we might be interested in checking out.

Our blog contains a number of samples of our books plus discussions of important issues, studies on the meat of the Scriptures and reviews of other authors’ books. We have a special call to combat Secular Humanism. We want to disestablish it as America’s Established Religion and our book Antidisestablishmentarianism particularly deals with this. We also have Curriculum and fiction works, Sci Fi, Historical, Romance, and Children’s and YA novels. Four of our books are 99 cents.

Where can readers find you on the ‘net?

http://elkjerkyforthesoul.wordpress.com is our blog.

findleyfamilyvideopublications.com is our website.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Findley-Family-Video/149992491693629 is our Findley Family Video Facebook page

@MaryCFindley on Twitter

Awesome!  Thanks so much for joining us.  Best of luck in all your travels, and God bless!

A Better Place

by:  Staci Stallings (August 2007)

Our church burned down.  It’s now going on five months since we’ve been having services in our parish gym.  The fire took out the main worship space, and the water to put out the fire damaged the gathering area.  Thankfully the fire department battled valiantly, and their efforts saved the classroom area, kitchen, and gym.

Since then, we’ve been having Sunday services in the gym.  Now in the five months that we’ve been in the gym, there have had to be some dramatic changes.  The wood floor is gone—another victim of water damage.  Large red runners line the aisles on the concrete floor, chairs stand in for pews, and a donated piano and organ have replaced the million dollar pipe organ in the old church.

But there are other things that aren’t quite so church-y about the space.  For example, there are basketball goals on either side, hanging down just over the congregation’s heads.  Because there are only chairs, there are no kneelers.  And the swatch of seating in the very back is simply the old bleachers.  Noisy things that were meant for a gym—not a worship space.

They’ve brought in candles, lecterns, a baptismal font, an altar, and even the tabernacle.  It’s really quite remarkable that a gym can look so worshipful.  However, as I looked out across it tonight, I couldn’t help but think not only of the old church now being torn down but of the new worship space that will be built in the coming months.

I thought about the sound system which will be more reliable because it will be designed for the space rather than rigged to make it work during a frantic, tear-filled week.  I thought about the pews with actual kneelers so even the non-diehard church-goers can once again kneel during the consecration.  As I stood there in the bleachers and looked out across the heads of the congregation, it struck me that yes, we are here in this strange dichotomy of spaces, worshipping, praising, and making the best of a bad situation.

The Bible verse, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world”  (John 15:19) came to me.  I saw that spread before me was a metaphor of exactly what Christ was talking about.  We are in the world but not of the world—just like we’re in the gym for now, but it’s not where we’re destined to be.  This is temporary.  There will be a day in the future that we will trade in those basketball goals and bleachers for real pews and carpet and maybe even a new pipe organ.

In the same way one day we will trade in this life full of trials and suffering for a new life in God’s Heaven where every tear will be wiped away, where He will trade liberty for the bonds of captives, beauty for ashes, heartache for eternal glory. Yes, it’s not just our church.  We’re all going to a better place… just you wait and see!

*~*~*

Check out one of Staci’s novels, a #1 Amazon Best Seller in Religious Romance…

  See more at Amazon here.

Or read the first chapters here!

 

Your Life a Legacy

A Review of Your Life a Legacy

by Joy DeKok

Review by Linda Yezak

Back in my teenage years, when make-up and boys were my primary interests, Mom occasionally got me out of school to go fishing. Not a frilly feminine thing to do, but a treasure just the same. One time, the prissy side of me tried to overrun the tomboy side and squirted Windsong perfume all over my fishing scuzzies. Mom and I headed out to our favorite pond, gear in the back and a dozen minnows in a bag full of water on my lap, with me in my stained britches and a t-shirt that reeked.

We were enjoying one of the wonderful spring days we loved so much. Everything was green and fresh, and life buzzed all around us. Including the bees.

Thing about a flowery perfume is that it attracts bees. Violently. One bumble bee took a liking to my perfume, and with cartoon hearts in his little buggy eyes, chased me all over the pasture where our fishing pond was. Since I couldn’t dodge him, I dove into the car and sat there with the windows up until the amorous little monster gave up. Lousy way to spend a fishing trip.

So, why am I telling you this?

This is one of the little memory treasures Joy DeKok encourages us to write down and store for future generations. In her book, Your Life a Legacy, she discusses how your memories affect those in your life, and not just for the entertainment value. They can help your kids and grandkids understand things about themselves.

Joy tells us to give our minds permission to explore our memories. No telling what we’ll find if we allow ourselves the opportunity to dig. For instance, memories that go along with the one above date further back in my childhood, when my brother used to catch bugs and chase me with them. Typical brother-sister stuff, I admit, but from that, I developed a terror of insects. I’ve said for years that I’m afraid of any bug that’s big enough to cast a shadow–and any bug that’s not.

If I didn’t have that fear, perhaps my response to the love-sick bumble bee would be to confront him and swat him into the next county. Instead, I ran. My earlier memory explained the later one, and if I pushed my fear of bugs on my kids and grandkids, they’ll develop a fear of them too, without really knowing why.

Joy’s book provides some wonderful, practical advice for writing our legacies, and some excellent insights into what will happen when we do explore our memories. We’ll come across events we need to cherish, events we need to confront to allow ourselves to heal, and events we need to ask forgiveness for. We’ll remember both old friends . . . and old enemies. A journey into our minds is best taken with God at our side.

In Your Life a Legacy, Joy has opened a new avenue by which to explore ourselves. I heartily recommend her book to anyone who cares enough about their offspring to share their lives with them more fully.

  Check out Your Life, a Legacy on Amazon!

Never Stop Dreaming: Hope Tour 2012

What’s all the buzz about Hope Tour 2012?

The buzz is growing, isn’t it? I just read a Facebook status about us that said, “This small press is taking the world by storm. Check them out.” I love that!

As a child, teen, and then young adult, people would tell me I was a dreamer and some relatives would say in disgust, “you’re just like your daddy.” For many years, that hurt – I thought dreaming was a bad, bad thing, mostly because of those reactions. After my dad’s death, I gave up dreaming for awhile.

But my spiritual Daddy – Father God – had other plans, and lit a fire within me a few years ago that just keeps growing.

In December 2011, I encountered dozens of people whose eyes revealed a sad, surprising hopelessness. These folks were not the ones we would normally expect to be hopeless – they had good jobs, lived in nice homes, drove expensive cars, bought grocery carts full-to-overflowing with food. Yet, their eyes could not lie because deep within each of them, there was no joy, no hope.

It broke my heart.

I sought God, wanting to do something about it. Several projects arose, and that was a start, but then, suddenly, a dream sparked inside me. An idea for a something fun, something new, something unusual began to grow and the dream exploded into a huge project! Hope Tour 2012 was born. If we’re gonna dream, we might as well dream BIG, right?

Hope Tour 2012 is a book tour unlike any other. During the summer of 2012, we will go on a 15-state, 30-city, 7000-mile book tour over the course of approximately 80 days. We’ll promote our authors, but we’ll also promote other Christian and inspirational authors along our route, hosting fun events that will bring reader and writer together in unique and memorable ways that will hopefully put smiles on faces and hope in hearts.

To fund the tour, we set up a Kickstarter project and we’re giving away fun rewards and experiences in exchange for contributions. Check out all the fun stuff and learn more details about the entire project on our Kickstarter page.

Another element of the tour is the creation of a book called Best Bites on Tour. As we travel, we’ll visit diners, cafes, and restaurants recommended to us by our readers, in hopes that we’ll find plenty of “best bites” to share in the book! Visit our daily posts on the Write Integrity Press blog.

During the 30 days of the Kickstarter campaign, we’re asking readers and visitors to our sites to share their favorite authors, favorite restaurants, and favorite tour spots so that when we come to town, we’ll be ready to experience the best each place has to offer.

We can’t do this without your help though.

Come, dream with me, join all the fun, and help us spread a little hope!

Tracy Ruckman is owner and publisher of two independent publishing companies, Write Integrity Press and Pix-N-Pens Publishing. She lives in metro Atlanta, and in 2010, returned to school as a full-time college student. She’s already looking forward to graduation in 2014, when she will finally be able to breathe again.

Daffodil Devotion

By:  Traci Tyne Hilton

Right in front of my little ranch house, under the picture window, is a long, narrow, flower bed. It bakes in the afternoon, is in shadow all morning, and suffers from the combined debilitating forces of oak leaves and concrete foundation.

I planted daffodils there. (I’m not much of a gardener.) The first year nothing happened. The next year some sickly, pale leaves struggled through. The year after even fewer thin, pale, straggly leaves whimpered in the sun.

So I dug the bulbs out. And then I covered the whole flower bed with river rock from the back yard. River rock looks healthier than sallow leaves in weedy dirt!

The spring after the river rocks took residence a weird thing happened. Two daffodils popped up—and bloomed!

And this year? Well, see the picture! A lovely little row of pretty, pale, miniature daffodils nod their sweet heads in the breeze.

Obviously I didn’t get all of the bulbs out when I attempted to transplant them. (Did I mention I’m not much of a gardener?)

When the little baby plants had full access to the sun and the rain and the world, they just couldn’t survive. As soon as they were sheltered and protected by the rocks, they flourished.

The publishing world can be a difficult place for a new writer to flourish. Like my flower bed, the confines are narrow—there are only so many publishers and agents and only so many contracts given out each year. And the independent route? Even narrower! Sometimes it feels like “Amazon or Bust.”

Negative reviews can be like those acidic oak leaves, making our little patch of “earth” seem inhospitable. And the hard work of writing, learning to write, and rewriting can make you feel like the creativity has been sucked from your spirit, the way that the concrete border around my flower bed leaches into the dirt compromising its fertility.

But if we as writers give our lives—even our writing careers—into the care of the Rock, Jesus our Lord, He will shelter us and protect us.

Isaiah 26:3-4 says, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” And Jeremiah 17: 7 and 8 say, “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.”

I pray that we can all trust the Lord with our writing, in the same way we trust Him with the rest of our lives.  Take shelter in the Rock, because Jesus wants to bless our endeavors is his time, and in his way.

Traci Tyne Hilton is a wife, mom, children’s ministry junky, and the author of the Mitzy Neuhaus Mystery Series, available in eBook and Paperback at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. http://www.tracihilton.com

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