How I became a writer?

By Lynette Bonner

I grew up loving to read, but when it came to writing, I honestly wasn’t that dedicated. I often hear writers say something along the lines of, “I wrote my first story when I was only 8, and I never quit writing after that.” When I hear something like that I think, “Wow, that’s dedication.” I wasn’t like that. Sure I wrote my share of stories growing up, but it was an on again, off again relationship.

I always loved fiction and would read for hours in high school. But I didn’t start writing until about 1993 after my first son was born. Even then, I didn’t seriously pursue the craft until probably 1999. I completed Rocky Mountain Oasis around 2000 and shopped it to several (okay, about a million) publishing houses and agents. J If they were in Sally Stuart’s Christian Writer’s Market Guide and said they were looking for historical fiction, they probably got a proposal from me. Then the rejection letters started trickling in. Publishing houses said, “Unfortunately, we find we must decline the opportunity to publish this project.” Agents said, “With great regret, I must pass on this opportunity….” And I began to realize the mountain I was attempting to climb.

Then in late 2001 a small e-book publisher said they wanted to publish the book! I was thrilled. The contract was good and didn’t require me to sign my first born away, so I signed with dollar signs dancing in my head – after all, the internet was booming! Surely my wonderful story would take off and I would soon be known world-wide, right? Well, ahem, I made about 90 cents before the company went out of business a couple months later, and those were sales to my neighbor down the street and my brother, I think.

When the e-book publisher went belly-up, I was back to square one. By that time, I was homeschooling my two oldest kids and had a toddler to boot. Writing got put on the back burner. 2003 ushered in the birth of our daughter and in 2004 we moved from Idaho to Washington. I was still homeschooling and not writing. But through all those years I just kept praying about Rocky Mountain Oasis.  I told the Lord the book was in His hands (I’m pretty sure He already knew this.) And that if He had given it to me just to help me through those tough, stressful years, I would try to be content with that. But I kept asking Him to direct my steps where the book was concerned. I specifically remember praying that if the Lord wanted this book to be published He would need to “drop a publisher in my lap” because I didn’t have time to shop it around again.

My mom is also a writer and she called me up one day in early 2007 to tell me about a new publisher on the scene. One of her critique partners had just gotten a contract with them. I checked them out and they had super simple submission guidelines, so I fired off a cover letter with my now almost 8 year old baby attached. They were the only publisher I’d submitted to in 6 years.

Since their guidelines at the time said to expect to hear from them within 8 weeks of submission, I pretty much gave up when I hadn’t heard anything by April. Then on June 9th, 2008 I got the email that stopped my heart for a couple beats before it started pounding again like a herd of wild children. (Ooops, horses! I meant horses.) Words cannot describe the thrill of reading, “Rocky Mountain Oasis is precisely the type of novel we’re interested in — quality fiction, from a fresh perspective – and we’d like to offer you the opportunity to join our growing stable of authors.” I didn’t come off that high for several days.

My books were with that publisher for several years, but now I’ve regained my rights and am self-publishing. As I look back, I can see how the Lord has led me through this entire journey If the small publisher hadn’t picked me up and given me the boost of encouragement I needed – the self-confidence – I probably wouldn’t be writing stories today. I’m so glad that I just trusted Him and kept putting my journey back into His hands. God is ever faithful to bring about good in our lives.

So for other up-and-coming authors out there, let me just encourage you to keep putting your writing journey into the hands of the One who can best shape it. You will never be sorry.

Born and raised in Malawi, Africa. Lynnette Bonner spent the first years of her life reveling in warm equatorial sunshine and the late evening duets of cicadas and hyenas. The year she turned eight she was off to Rift Valley Academy, a boarding school in Kenya where she spent many joy-filled years, and graduated in 1990.

That fall, she traded to a new duet–one of traffic and rain–when she moved to Kirkland, Washington to attend Northwest University. It was there that she met her husband and a few years later they moved to the small town of Pierce, Idaho.

During the time they lived in Idaho, while studying the history of their little town, Lynnette was inspired to begin the Shepherd’s Heart Series with Rocky Mountain Oasis. Book 2, High Desert Haven, and book 3, Fair Valley Refuge are also now available.

Marty and Lynnette have four children, and currently live in Washington where Marty pastors a church.


A surprise better than Disney

by Mikayla Kayne

I’ve heard much preaching on the subject of the afterlife. Very often it’s what people want to hear more than based on actual Biblical references.  There are visual descriptions in a few passages, but pretty much nothing about what living life will be like.  It’s one of those things that we should have faith about and not try to figure out.

The Bible is Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.  It’s not something that is meant to give us all the “rest of the story.”  For all our curiosity, there’s just not a whole lot about the spirit world or the afterlife, just the bare basic facts. Heaven is real and beautiful, hell is real and horrible. We will all have bodies suited for eternity, whether our eternity is spent in heaven or hell. In heaven, we will have homes and jobs, all revolving around worship. Outside of that? Much of what we believe is based more on conjecture than Scripture. God doesn’t have to give us all the details.

It’s like when want to surprise your kids with a trip to Disney – and when they’re packing, they won’t stop asking you “Where are we going?!?”  but you just say “Trust me.”  You know it’s going to be awesome and blow their minds.  You want the satisfaction of taking them all the way to the gates and seeing their eyes get HUGE as the reality of their fortune sinks in.  It wouldn’t have been HALF as fun if you’d have told them ahead of time.

God likes to hold things in store as surprises for us.  He could tell us the whole plan right now, but what fun would that be?  He wants us to love and obey him because we want to, not just to “earn our trip” to heaven.   And he wants the joy of seeing us in our first moments on his side of eternity…with huge eyes and full of awe-struck wonder.

Mikayla Kayne enjoys writing and performing with her husband Gregory, homeschooling their three sons, and encouraging others. She spent fifteen years in marketing and advertising before choosing to be a stay at home mom and discovered her love of writing and teaching.



The Angel Crest Deception is the Kayne’s first novel, released this August by Tate Publishing. This edgy near-future conspiracy thriller follows agnostic media producer Chris Malone as he sets out to destroy the career of a pompous religious figurehead. Will he be able to deliver the scathing exposé or will he get sucked in by the secret world-shaping group that just bought his old network?

Romance and a Cup of Tea

by Suzanne D. Williams

So there I was, Kindle in hand, ready to read, and my thoughts went something like this:

Ah, a romance story. This should be good. Chapter one, enter main male character. Rugged cowboy who used to live here. Gotcha.

I clicked. Next page. Enter female character. Oh, I like her. She has a bit of a past to overcome. That’ll keep it interesting.

Chapter two. Male character stumbles across female character. Chemistry. Yes. I see where this is going.

Chapter three. Wait! He has a past too, and his traumatizes him. Fun. Will he overcome it? Will it drive them apart? (Of course not. It’s a romance novel. They’ll get together.)

Click. Chapter four. Chapter five. Chapter six. Yawn. Wait. I’m bored? What happened? Click. Chapter seven. All is resolved between them.The family thinks he’s great. He’s overcoming his obstacles. I glance down at the percentage meter. Thirty percent? What happens in the rest of this book?

Chapter eight. Stop. Why am I reading from her brother’s point of view?

Chapter nine. I don’t care he’s eating catfish.

Chapter ten. Hold up. She does charity work? You’re just now telling me this? What does that have to do with him and her?

Chapter eleven. Big cataclysmic event. I rub my hands in glee. Maybe the author will drive them apart. Make this more interesting. No? What? The streets of the town lay which direction? The little old lady had what happen to her? Volunteer fire department? And who’s the blonde girl?


Oh, that’s right. They’re great. We fixed them by chapter seven.

That’s when it hit me. Writing plot in a romance novel is like brewing a good cup of tea. (You say, “How about coffee?” But I don’t drink coffee and I’m writing this, so I say “tea.”) A good plot boils the story down to the perfect concentration. Too weak and the reader becomes lost. The story rambles. It’s no longer a romance. It’s a … story about an entire town. It’s not him and her fixing what lies between them. It’s “and then we went here, and then we went there, and then this happened.”

My favorite plot advice uses the words “but” or “therefore” to determine what happens next. Never slip into “and then” or the story will fall flat. The biggest “and then” problem in a plot is usually spanning time. If the story covers many months, it’s not necessary to fill in all the gaps. Often, it can be done subtly. They met in the spring, but aren’t married for a year. If nothing happens during the summer, I don’t need an entire chapter that serves no purpose. Instead, concentrate the flavor.

Where the characters are in the plot, should tie to where they were and where they are going. In a romance, each scene needs to be about them or to affect them. Leave all the little stuff, what other characters may be doing, to the reader’s imagination. After all, people don’t read a romance to know how the family is or what the town looks like.

Use each event to condense their relationship to its finest level and forget the other stuff. Put me in his head and in hers. Make me love them individually, then bring them together, overcoming the odds stacked against them. That, my friend, makes for one tasty cup of tea, and one I’ll long remember.

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother. She writes a monthly column on digital photography for the Steve’s Digicams website. She is an author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She also works in graphic design and is a professional proofreader.

Book Title: MISSING

Author’s Blog:

Amazon site for the book: or

Create Space site for the book:

Book Trailer:


Book Review: Alana & Alyssa’s Secret by Joana James

Review by Mary Findley

This is the second book I have read by Joana James. While it’s less perfect technically than Nightmare at Emerald High, it’s still a very moving, powerful story about the power of God and the prayers of the faithful.

Could anybody have more to overcome than Alana and Alyssa? You won’t know unless you read it for yourself. But what a powerful lesson Alyssa learns about what we can and can’t do to protect those we love. Sometimes even a second chance isn’t enough.

Only the greatest tragedy can sometimes shake us out of our reliance on what we have the power to do in our own strength. Realizing that we need help, accepting that help, and getting it from the Source of all true help, makes all the difference in what happens to these two sisters.

Eric is almost too good to be true, but he’s not an angel sent to escort Alyssa safely home. He’s a real person, and the only thing he wants is the truth. If Alyssa’s ready to face the truth herself, Eric will hang on for the emotional ups and downs of Alyssa’s life. It’s up to her.

I appreciated the author’s afterword explaining the terrible tragedy described in this book. It was jarring to me, but sometimes life will jar us out of our self-sufficiency. It’s something we have to accept, and this book is fundamentally about accepting help. Help from others, and help from God. In the end, Alyssa kept trying to help her sister Alana, never realizing how much she needed help herself, and what a terrible price she would have to pay before she was ready to accept that help.

Mary grew up in rural NY and met my husband at college in South Carolina. She and her husband 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.

Don’t revive the dead Egyptians

By Susan Srock

Did you ever hear something that just took a place in your heart and wouldn’t let it go? Maybe a line in a song, or book, or sermon that just hung around for future pondering.

A long time ago, and I’m talking 30 years, maybe, I heard just such a line in a sermon presented to our church by an evangelist. I don’t remember his name, can’t describe him, don’t remember all of those revival messages…but this one line has stuck with me all of these years.

“Don’t revive the dead Egyptians.”

Let’s look at some verses in Exodus.

Exodus 14:10-14

And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.
And they said unto Moses, because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?

Now let’s get some perspective here. The children of Israel just left Egypt. In the last few weeks they have seen great things. They had water when the Egyptians had blood. Their homes were pest free when across the street the houses were infested with flies, frogs, lice, and grasshoppers. They had light when the rest of the country was cloaked in darkness. When they left Egypt behind them went out with rejoicing. They went out with riches. They went out with hope.

But…the Egyptians followed them. Do you think the angry horde behind them took God by surprise? Do you think God didn’t have a plan? Do you think if God wanted to destroy these people, He would have bothered to perform the miracles listed above? I don’t, but I think they did.

Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.
So the cried out to Moses and had a prayer meeting on the shores of the red sea.
And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.

And we know the rest of the story. God made a path through the sea and used the same path as a trap for the Egyptians. The water covered the enemy and by dawn’s light, the shore was littered with drowned Egyptians. The Israelites prayed for deliverance, received deliverance, and walked away from their problems and their enemies. Not a single drowned Egyptian received CPR or Mouth to mouth.

What problems are you praying about this week? When God answers that prayer will you be able to walk away, or will you linger on the beach?

“Don’t revive the dead Egyptians.”

Sharon Srock
The Women of Valley View. Ordinary women using their faith to do extraordinary things.

Interview with Author Dawn Byrd

We are delighted to have Author Dawn Byrd with us today. Dawn tell us, how did this story come to you?

Sometimes I get the strangest ideas! I love a good mystery and I love romance, but you don’t find the two together very often. Also, there are very few books available with college-age characters. I pitched the idea of combining all of the above to Desert Breeze and the rest is history.

That’s interesting. Please tell us more about the journey to getting this book published.

I had already published several books with Desert Breeze when they opened a young adult line. I’m excited that they liked the idea for this new series.

I’m sure our readers would like to know more about you. Please tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.

I own two hairless Chinese Crested dogs. I love sour things….pickles, lemons, sour candy. I used to ride a Harley, but gave it up in order to have more time to write. (My husband always wanted to stay out way too long and take the scenic route home. He still has his bike, but I don’t miss mine at all.)

We have two things in common, I love dogs and sour things. So tell us, What is your favorite writing tip?

Write something every day. All of my books are written in 30-day marathons. I decide how many words I want to write in 30 days and map them out on a calendar, so I can keep track of where I am and where I need to be.

I totally agree. So, what are you working on now and what’s next for you?

I’m working on my December release, which is the third book in the “Identity Series.” It’s called Double Identity and is about two seventeen-year-old identical twins who never knew about each other. One, raised by her mom, is a Christian, the other, raised by her father is a wild child. When the two meet up and the wild one falls for the Christian one’s boyfriend, sparks of the worst kind begin to fly.

It was a pleasure having you with us today. Any parting comments for our readers?

Thank you for hosting me! For those of you who love Christian fiction, please check my blog for weekly book giveaways. I interview 3-5 authors a week who give away their books.

Zoe is thrilled when she lands her first paying case until she learns she’ll be going undercover at a local blood bank. The fact that she faints at the sight of blood makes working there more than difficult. Who would steal blood and what would they do with it? Is her creepy vampire-like coworker using it in a cult ritual?

When Zoe learns that Nate will be working undercover with her, she’s overjoyed. She soon finds that the gorgeous Rikki’s attraction to Nate is too distracting and considers throwing him off the case. Zoe questions his loyalty even as Nate proclaims that she’s the only girl for him.

Nothing is as it seems and Zoe has no clue who can be trusted. Who’s stealing the blood? Is it the director? The vampire-like guy with the fangs who wears all black? Or, her gorgeous co-worker who has a thing for Nate?

K.Dawn Byrd, Author
When painting with words…expect the unexpected!

Book Review PURSUED BY Lillian Duncan

By Ada Brownell

The ultimate test of a good novel is the story told, and Lillian Duncan created a powerful story with Pursued. First the attorney, Reggie (short for Regina) Meyers is in danger of losing her job because of a grammatical error on a contract.


At the airport on her way home, a woman accidentally whacks her in the head with luggage when she takes it from the carousel. Still dizzy from the blow, Reggie tries to weave her way through heavy traffic. She swerves to avoid a dog being chased by a child and an old pickup collides with her car.


She doesn’t care how handsome the driver is, she’s angry. Since her vehicle absorbed most of the impact, he offers to drive her home. After he uses some persuasion, she goes with him only to find the door to her home wide open, her apartment ransacked, trashed and the furniture slashed.


The owner of the pickup, Dylan Monroe, insists she can’t stay in that apartment after such vandalism. The person might be a killer.


Thus begins the chase. Reggie is pursued by someone who is serious about killing her.  She’s shot at, her phone is bugged, and bombs are placed on her car.


Although Dylan just met her, he insists on protecting her. He takes her to his sister’s house. When she’s followed there, he moves her to his parents, then to a friend’s place that is difficult to find and equipped with detection equipment.


It takes a while for Reggie to understand why Dylan wants to help. He’s a committed Christian and feels it’s his calling to do what he can for a person in need. Reggie, abandoned by her parents at a young age, is in need of someone who cares. She grew up in foster homes and knows little of committed love and devotion.  She fights being attracted to Dylan because he’s a farmer and she’s an attorney.


The story is a great read, and that’s why I give it five stars it deserves.


   — Ada Brownell

Author of Swallowed by LIFE: Mysteries of Death, Resurrection and the Eternal

and  Confessions of a Pentecostal


Of Waterpots and New Wine

By Staci Stallings

And on the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and Jesus was also invited, and His disciples, to the wedding.  And when the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine."  And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what do I have to do with you? My hour has not yet come."  His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."  Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification...  John 2: 1-6

There is more of course, but for our purposes we will stop right there. You’ve probably heard this story more times than you can count. It is of course the story of Jesus’ first miracle when He changed water into wine.  And not just any wine, no, the best wine. That lesson is for another article, for now I want to focus on the final eleven words of this passage.

Specifically I want to ask you to reread the passage and look closely at what kind of pots they used.  In my previous reading of this passage, I had always pictured... well, pitchers.  Large earthenware vessels that look like modern day vases. You know the kind you would normally put wine into. But that's NOT what it says!  NO.  They put it in "stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification."  In the Message Bible it says it this way... "six stone pots, used by the Jews for ritual washings..."  Do you know what that means?

Very simply, those pots were used to enforce and carry out the rules, the law, the prescribed way of purifying yourself so you were clean enough to be presentable to society.  Ritual washings were one of the biggest outward signs that someone was steeped in the rules of the Jews.  There was a prescribed amount of time you had to wash, a prescribed amount of times you had to wash... And Jesus used those pots to do something totally new!

On top of that, the ritual washings were meant to show one's attempt to wash away their sin and thus be pure. (If I wash myself enough, if I follow all of the rules, I shall be clean in the eyes of God). But the reality was, people were still dirty.  Their bodies were dirty. Their hands were dirty. Their lives were dirty with sins they could not get rid of no matter how many times they washed themselves. And even when they washed, they got dirty again and thus had to wash again.

And Jesus (isn’t He awesome?) used the pots that had been used to wash people, pots that symbolize us and our lives (dirty and nasty) to put drinking wine in.  That is not just a little inconsequential detail!  That's huge!

In fact, upon closer reading, it does not even say that Jesus first said, “Take those waterpots and wash them out, clean them out, and then fill them.”  No. He said, “Go and fill them.”  In all the times you have read and heard this passage, have you ever for a second pictured those servants as taking the time to go and wash out the pots on their own? 

I haven’t because prior to really reading this, I hadn’t seen the need for them to. However, at the risk of your lunch, consider what they did.  Guests had washed themselves with water from these pots. Surely some of the grime went back in them as they finished.  We don’t know how many guests there were, but I have always pictured a rather large contingent of guests.  At very least we know of fourteen, Jesus, the disciples, and Mary. At minimum, that’s 28 hands, four for each pot, that have recently been washed in them. Now, Jesus says, “Go and fill those with water,” and presumably without the benefit of Dawn Dishwashing Liquid, these pots were filled with water.

Then Jesus said, “Draw some out now, and take it to the headwaiter.”

Something tells me, if I was one of those servants, I wouldn’t have had the guts to tell the headwaiter what kind of receptacles that wine came from. Of course, we all know that the headwaiter proclaimed that this wine was the finest of wines.

So, consider that in one moment, Christ took us, these waterpots, empty yes, but permanently stained with the dirt of many hands. We had been steeped in the myth that our own actions could somehow wash us clean enough to gain entrance into Heaven. He took these empty, dirty, disgusting waterpots, and He poured Himself (His blood--water made wine) into us, and then he did something new!  Not just new wine. The BEST wine!  Not the rules.  Not our sins.  Him.  And He is enough to make us THE BEST!

Believe me, I will never mistake those waterpots for pitchers again, nor will I so easily take for granted the mercy and grace He poured into me, dirty from within with no hope to ever get myself clean enough to earn anything. He did not require me to clean up before He washed me with Himself. He didn’t look at me and say, “Ew, disgusting. Let’s use something else.”

Instead, He looked at me and saw not what I had done and what I was but at what He could do inside of me. That’s the new wine—what He can do in a life, and trust me, it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted, poor dirty waterpot that you were before He showed up.

Copyright Staci Stallings, 2006


August 15 & 16

Staci’s “Amazing!” novel:

To Protect & Serve

“Reading To Protect & Serve, I’m taken away to another world, a world I want to be a part of and never leave. Staci’s characters are real with real everyday problems. I love that.

Oh, and the firemen in this story, they’re smokin’ hot! Especially the hero!”

–Debra, Amazon Reviewer

When control freak Lisa Matheson falls for handsome but shy firefighter, Jeff Taylor, it’s possible that life might just be going her way for a change. The only problem is she can’t control Jeff or the death wish he seems to have…

Available as a free download from Amazon!

Click here to get your Free Kindle Copy TODAY!

Click here to get a free Kindle App to read “To Protect & Serve” on your computer.

Why I Wrote MISSING?

By Suzanne Williams

I have been a nonfiction writer for years, writing how-to articles and devotionals, so when the idea to write a fiction story came into my head, no one was more surprised than I was. After all, what did I know about writing fiction? This question became even truer the longer I pursued it. However, I was determined. I had a story in my head, and I would put it down on the page.

We hear the phrase “missing in action” all the time and never stop to consider what it means. From the Vietnam War alone there are 2,539 listed as missing. Add to this figure those from both World Wars, the Korean War, and reaching back into history the American Civil War and the figure becomes staggering. Tens of thousands of men left and never returned.

During the American Civil War, the problem was often lack of identification. There weren’t any dog tags. If you didn’t have your name pinned to you, then you were buried on the spot, unmarked. There were also the horrible prison camps. Here, prisoners were left to take care of themselves. In the Confederate South, this meant no food, no housing, and no medical care. Men died from sheer neglect to be buried in mass graves.

Yet following that war one lady, whose name most Americans recognize, Clara Barton formed an organization dedicated to locating the remains of missing soldiers. This organization fielded thousands of letters from family and friends and posted articles with lists of names in newspapers all across the country in the hope that someone might know what happened to a name listed there. This is what sparked in me my initial idea to write.

MISSING contains three stories. “Civil War” is the second story in the book and the first story I wrote. From it, I went on to write the other two stories, “Vietnam War” and “World War II.” I quickly saw that what applied in one war, applied in all the others. Along the way, I did extensive study into each war, learning about everything from gear to locations to gravesites. I watched hours of movies and read countless articles and books to get a grip on the mindset of the soldier and the families.

I admit most of the time it was heartbreaking, yet it founded in me great respect and determination to “get it right.” For what I strived to depict involved the lives of real people. It was their pain and suffering. It’s hard to write about war. War is tragic and awful on every level. Yet those who have been there deserve to have their stories told. Those who lost loved ones deserve to have their stories told. And though my stories are fiction, my greatest compliment comes when someone who’s been there reads them as says, “Yes, that’s how it was.” We as people must always honor the amazing sacrifice of so many who unselfishly gave their greatest gift–their lives.

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother. She writes a monthly column on digital photography for the Steve’s Digicams website. She is an author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She also works in graphic design and is a professional proofreader.

Author’s Blog:

Amazon site for the book: or

Create Space site for the book:

Book Trailer:

My Writing Journey

By Amy McGuire

I’m the youngest of three children of parents who were missionaries in East Africa until I was ten.  My dad was a pilot and pastor to remote villages and my mom was a nurse. I came to know Christ personally when I was seven and I was baptized when I was twelve.  From as early as I can remember, I have loved to read and write stories; happy stories, stories about princes and princesses, stories about love, joy and living life to the fullest.

I love to write.  When I write, my imagination takes over and I feel like almost anything is possible.  I write and read romance because I enjoy reading and writing about people falling love.  I’m a hopeless romantic.  I love engagement parties, weddings and baby showers because they’re all about love.  Love is the most powerful thing in the universe because the One who created love is the most powerful thing in the universe.  God is love. My favourite kind of love is unconditional and one of my favourite verses about that is 1 John 4:10 which says, “This is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  We didn’t have to earn His love.  He loves us regardless of what we say or do.

I’m drawn to love stories and love songs like one magnet is drawn to another.  I can’t resist it.  I don’t know why God wired me to have such an attraction to everything to do with genuine love but He has.  When I was quite young, I began writing stories about how my parents met, fell in love and got married.  As I got older, the stories were about me and the boy who would one day fall in love with me.  As I matured, my stories became more about fictitious people and less about anyone I knew, but the theme was always the same.  Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy asks girl to marry him and they live happily ever after.  My upbringing-a mix of parental values and Disney-is probably what created that particular formula in my mind, but even now, that’s my idea of the perfect romance.

When I started to write The Heart’s Discovery in 2009, it was kind of an escape.  My daughter was just over a year old at the time, and I had been one hundred percent immersed in motherhood up to that point.  I had weaned her, so she didn’t need me for at least one of her basic needs anymore and she was starting to put all her little naps into two long ones-one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  It was summer by this time and as my husband is a youth pastor with flexible hours he was able to stay with her at least once or twice a week while she napped.  I spent many of those naps outside our apartment on the grounds, soaking up the sun as I wrote.

I took advantage of these times to be by myself, write for the pure enjoyment of it and get lost in a world without diaper changes, breastfeeding, baby babble and everything else that comes with being a mom.  Now don’t get me wrong; I love being a mom and I wouldn’t trade my daughter for anything in the world.  But being a full-time stay at home mom can be both physically and emotionally draining at times.  So I dove back into my passion and wrote every chance I got.  I wrote on the bus or train while my baby slept in a stroller beside me.  I wrote while she napped at home and I often wrote late into the night after she had fallen asleep.

For me, writing became an outlet for my thoughts, hopes, dreams and imagination.  It was my husband who encouraged me to get my first book published.  Though the idea of someone else reading my work and thinking it was terrible terrified me, I began to seek out agents.  Rejection letter after rejection letter came my way and still my husband wouldn’t let me give up.  So, at long last I thought I had made it when a traditional publisher contacted me with a request for my first novel.  It was July of 2011 when I was told my book had been accepted to a publishing house in Michigan.  For two weeks after the announcement, I heard nothing.

Then I received a lengthy email informing me that even though they thought my book was good enough and were excited about my series, they were going to be focussing on the authors they already had.  It ended with a note saying, “We think you’ll be stronger on your own” and a suggestion that maybe I should self-publish.  Self-publishing didn’t (and still doesn’t, to an extent) get much respect in the literary world, and I remember thinking, “This is it.  My dream of becoming a published author is over.  Nobody wants my book.  I’m just wasting my time.”

I was so discouraged that I stopped writing for almost a month. I didn’t look at my book even once the entire time.  Then I finished my pity party and looked at my book from a reader’s perspective.  I sat down and read all the romantic parts and felt all mushy.  I laughed at my characters and their awkwardness and cried when they cried.  It was then I came to the realization, “Hey, this book isn’t half bad.  In fact, it’s kind of good!”  Knowing I was biased toward my own work, I sent it off to a couple friends who were also romance nuts, just for the overall opinion and some editing help.  I was surprised and thrilled with their responses.  “We want to read more!” they both said.  I had several friends who just ate it up and I even let them read the rough drafts for books two and three since I had written them at the same time as The Heart’s Discovery.  They couldn’t seem to get enough.

Sometime around my birthday in November I began to take the publisher’s comments that I would ‘be stronger on my own’ to heart and I began to research self-publishing and what it meant to be an ‘indie author’.  Then I spent the next three months editing my first book and coming up with ‘the perfect cover’ (which I would change several times after releasing the book online).  In late January I bought a book by a fellow indie author that walked me step by step through the process of selling my book on my own website (which I had since September 2011) as well as major online retailers like Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and Amazon.

On February 12 I took the plunge and my book went public.  Since then I have learned so much about marketing, cover design, editing, networking and a whole host of things I never imagined myself being a part of.  My world has opened up and I have met fellow indie authors from every walk of life, as well as a few traditionally published authors, all of whom have become dear friends.  The publisher was only partly right when she said I would be stronger on my own.  I do have more control over the whole publishing process but I didn’t do it alone.

God brought a host of people; family, friends and total strangers who later became friends, into my life to encourage me, guide me and support me every step of the way.

I took a trembling step out in faith and in His amazing love, God showed me that there’s a really good reason He made me the way He did.  I learned that I can share love with others through my writing and to never give up before I really get started.  If I had given up back in July of last year I wouldn’t be selling my book and doing what I really love to do.  God gave me a special talent and my responsibility is to use that talent to bring glory to Him.  I fervently hope I am.

About Amy McGuire

First Choice brightened upAmy is the youngest of three children of missionary parents. As a result, her childhood was spent mostly in East Africa. She now lives in Ontario with her husband, young daughter, two cats and plants that she keeps forgetting to water.  Almost from the moment she could pick up a pen she has been writing stories and poetry.  She developed a love of English Literature at a young age and considers William Shakespeare’sTwelfth Night and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudicetwo of the most romantic books ever written.  She began writing comedies in middle school and by junior high had graduated to writing romances.  Her favorite way to spend a sunny afternoon is on a lounge chair with a good novel, some chocolate and soft tunes off her rather eclectic collection of Cds.  She has written many stories but never dreamt of publishing them until her husband gave her a nudge in 2009.

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