Wednesday, February 3, 2016

MEET JOHNNIE ALEXANDER

Into a Spacious Place

by

Johnnie Alexander




“You have set my feet in a spacious place.”


These words from Psalm 31 touched a deep place in my spirit as I read the chapter during a quiet moment at the Florida Christian Writers Conference several years ago.

Back then my dreams were tentative and the future was scary. I wanted to be a writer with all that was in me. I wanted to believe that God had given me a gift with words. I wanted to hold a novel I’d written in my hands.

But so did all the other unpublished writers at the conference. I was realistic enough to know my dream might not ever come true.

God touched my practical soul with a line of poetry, whispering His words into my heart.

I have set your feet in a spacious place.




I embraced it, though I didn’t know what it meant. After all, my contemporary romance manuscript wasn’t impressing anyone at the conference. But I held onto the promise. I attended more conferences, read books on writing, and connected with others who dreamed the same dreams I did.

Through those years, I wrote another novel and then one more. Where Treasure Hides won the 2011 ACFW Genesis Contest (historical category), and Tyndale published it as an e-book in 2013. The print edition was released last August.

Between the release of the e-book and print editions, I returned to my contemporary romance. The theme of a spacious place stayed with me, especially as I faced an uncertain future in my personal life.

I discovered the phrase appears in several verses besides Psalm 31:8. One of my favorites is Psalm 18:19 which says:He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.


As I rewrote the contemporary romance, the idea of a spacious place became a spiritual theme for my protagonists.

In the past few years, my spiritual journey and writing journey have intertwined into an inseparable wholeness. I trusted God with my wants and uncertainties, and He graciously provided a spacious place for me in the publishing world.

My contemporary romance, now called Where She Belongs, is the first in the three-book Misty Willow Series. My first novella, a historical, comes out in July.
The future still holds uncertainty. I suppose, in one sense, it always does. But I’m able to focus more on the present, and every day I thank God for His abundant blessings.

My prayer is that these verses bless others, too.


God delights in you. He will set your feet in your own spacious place.


Back Cover

Shelby Kincaid is ready to move on from her grief. With high hopes for the future, she longs to purchase her family’s ancestral homestead so she can raise her young daughters in the only place she ever truly belonged. She plans to transform the abandoned house into the perfect home of her memories. But she’ll have her work cut out for her.
AJ Sullivan never wanted the homestead. Inherited as a punishment from his grandfather, it has sat empty for fifteen years and fallen into ruin. He’s glad to finally unload it. But a clean break isn’t possible when he can’t get the young widow Shelby off his mind.
Welcome to Misty Willow, a place that will have as great a hold over the reader as it does over its inhabitants.


Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011) and Golden Leaf Award (2014). Her first contemporary romance, Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series; Revell), and her first novella, The Healing Promise (Courageous Bride Collection; Barbour), release in 2016.

She also has won Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest). She volunteers as a category coordinator for the ACFW Genesis Contest, judges various contests, and serves as marketing director for the MidSouth Christian Writers Conference.

A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives in the Memphis area with a small herd of alpacas and Rugby, the princely papillon who trees raccoons.

Free Preview for Where She Belongs: BookGrabbr


Buy Links: Imbedded Hyperlinks




Friday, January 15, 2016

FROM LIGHT TO BRIGHT



Please welcome Sandy Ardoin to today's Writer's Journey






My early spiritual life was up and down, or maybe I should say “on” and “off.” My mom made sure I went to Sunday school, but she stayed home with my brothers and dad. Later, we all (except my dad) became active in a small church, and at twelve, I was saved. For the most part, my twenties were an “off” decade, but God doesn’t give up on anyone. In my late twenties, I moved to a small town and began attending a church there. A short time later, I met my husband—at church. We recently celebrated our twenty-eighth anniversary with that Third Cord in our marriage adding strength and longevity. God is good!




The idea of writing fiction charmed me way back in elementary school

but I never pursued it until I was thirty. From the beginning, I wrote for the Christian market and truly believe God gave me this desire as a way to minister. He’s guided my feet along the journey, and I see how each step has allowed me to build my career at the right time. I started with greeting cards and posters, then children’s short stories, and on up to novels. He has stopped me in my tracks at times, slowed me down at others, given me encouragement, and kept me humble. Along the way, I’ve grown stronger in my faith as I learn spiritual lessons along with my characters. While most people don’t experience the adventures of their favorite fictional people, we all experience the need for forgiveness, trust, mercy—three themes integral to my stories.



As I read a novel, I tend to find secondary characters I’d love to get to know better. It’s no different when I write. The more I wrote of Kit Barnes, a secondary character in my Christmas novella The Yuletide Angel, the more I realized he needed a story of his own. The novel A Reluctant Melody was born from the sins of Kit’s past.

Here is the summary:

Kit's alcoholism ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. But the most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past. 

Friends of her late husband blame Joanna for his death. Although eager to flee from the rumors, she will let the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she allows Kit back into her life. 
When a blackmailer threatens to reveal Joanna’s long-held secret, will she risk losing everything she owns to Kit … including her heart?




Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, antique store prowler.


Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.

Friday, January 8, 2016

SURRENDERING TO THE CALL

 



Meet Jennifer Slattery on today's Writer's Journey





Although I’ve always enjoyed writing as a hobby and stress reliever, I didn’t grow up dreaming to write. In fact, I wanted to do anything but! 

God had other plans. 

I fought God’s call for a while, telling Him all the reasons I couldn’t—shouldn’t write. My biggest hindrance was a deep shame for a sinful and broken past, and a lack of trust in human nature. God and I went rounds, until my disobedience got in the way of my relationship with Him. So I obeyed tentatively, with a long list of qualifiers all centered on one thing—self-protection. 

But the more I wrote, the more broken lives I encountered. God showed me people living in shame from past regrets, people struggling with feelings of failure. Moved by compassion, I began to openly share my failings, my selfishness, and my fears, so that others could see the depths of God’s love and grace. A beautiful thing happened. I found this enabled others to do the same. 



I thought I’d reached full surrender, and yet, God’s work in me wasn’t finished. Amidst my obedience, God saw a thread of self-protection holding me back—my fears of being an inadequate servant. 

A short time ago, responding in pain and anger, I sent an ugly email to a fellow Christian. Although I apologized within an hour of doing so, it wasn’t long before others became involved. This hit on one of my deepest fears—the one barrier left between full surrender.

My first reaction was self-protection.

 I wanted to retreat, to isolate. I told God this wasn’t part of our bargain and reminded Him of our initial conversation.  After a day of tears, Bible study, and prayer, God showed me a bigger work, exposing some heart-issues He wanted to deal with.  After addressing my sin, He directed me to Psalm 86 which talks about trusting in God, seeking help from Him, and learning His ways. My ways are to lash out, to withdraw, to isolate. He longs for humility, full surrender, and unhindered obedience. 


Psalm 86:2, 4-5, 11 “Protect me, for I am devoted to you.
Save me, for I serve you and trust you.
You are my God. … Give me happiness, O Lord,
for I give myself to you. O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. … Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! … Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.”

Through this experience, I learned sin is painful and often has long-term effects. Had I practiced self-control instead of lashing out in anger, this ugly mess never would have occurred. And yet, once I confessed my sin and asked for forgiveness, God showed me yet again the depths of His grace. He then offered me an opportunity to rest in His grace or stay focused on my mistake.

We all have fears, sinful behaviors, and wounds that hinder our service. If not diligently and prayerfully fought against, they get in the way of our calling. We’re fallen people living in a fallen world among fallen humans. Paul faced judgment, Peter faced remorse, David faced shame, and Joseph faced betrayal. Yet, somehow they moved past these things and kept their eyes on their Creator. 

God calls me—us—to do the same, throwing off everything that hinders to run with perseverance the race mapped out for us. For me, that means surrendering to the call of writing, even if it means self-exposure. 

What about you? Is there anything holding you back from full surrender?

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. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte

Intertwined:
Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? Could this be where life begins again?

Buy it:






 

Monday, January 4, 2016

MY QUEST


And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:2 – 3 KJV).



I walked among dandelions when I was three
They were beautiful then
Yellow, bright, inviting, plentiful
When blooms died
I blew them to other worlds

I squealed at butterflies when I was three
Wonders worth chasing
I romped through meadows after their allure 
Time held no meaning
Their fluttering dance the object of dreams

I prayed unashamedly when I was three
Daddy God all powerful provider
Faith unencumbered by intellect
I’d make my request assured He answers
Then picked a bouquet of happiness 




To become as I was when I was three
To see beauty in weeds
To abandon conventionality 
To trust implicitly  
This is my quest






Tuesday, December 22, 2015

MY INTIMATE JOURNEY WITH MY HEROINE BY NIKE N. CHILLEMI





When I started this series, it began with a kinda short story prompt

 I was to create a character (Brooklyn, NY born and bred Veronica "Ronnie" Ingels, gal private investigator) and place her in a locale that's strange and difficult for her. So, I sent her to west Texas. 

Then I was to ramp it up and make her even more uncomfortable. So, in book one of the series, HARMFUL INTENT, I had Ronnie discover her husband of one year is cheating on her with her college BFF who owns a bridal salon in Abilene. 

But that was not enough. 


I had the rascal murdered and the handsome deputy sheriff suspect Ronnie killed her husband for revenge.






I began to really like Ronnie. And the more I wrote the more she revealed to me about her difficult childhood, and soon I had a novella. As teeny-weeny buds of romance between Deputy Dawson Hughes and Ronnie began to blossom, I found this taught and fast paced detective story lengthening into a novel.

Naturally, one book wasn't enough. I'd given Ronnie quite a few "demons" from her childhood that chased her and kept getting in the way of the romance between her and Dawson. So, I developed a plotline in the second novel, DEADLY DESIGNS which triggered most of her childhood issues. In fact, a few of Dawson's issues were also triggered brinGing him to his knees before God.

My characters are like friends to me. Although I've never copied anyone's life, I draw heavily upon my own experience and the experiences of people I know rather well. I suspect most writers do this. To balance the numerous raw emotions jumping off the page, I utilize humor. Ronnie has a zany and sassy sense of humor I've come to enjoy writing. I can't wait until she says something else that has me shaking my head.

It's been an uplifting experience for me to let Ronnie explore the question, 'why are we here on planet earth?' Her background is Christian, as her mother is a believer and she was brought up in the faith. Her father abandoning her and her mother caused her to be angry at God. Her spiritual journey is one of wrestling and wrangling with God. I've tried to keep it as authentic as possible and I've certainly enjoyed writing these stories.

Purchase links on Amazon:
Author Bio:

Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chair, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She has been a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories; and an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s has finaled, won an award, and garnered critical acclaim. HARMFUL INTENT released under the auspices of her own publishing company, Crime Fictionista Press, won in the Grace Awards 2014 Mystery/Thriller/Romantic Suspense/Historic Suspense category. Her new release is DEADLY DESIGNS. She has written book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and John 3:16 Marketing Network.  http://nikechillemi.wordpress.com/

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

ACQUAINTED WITH GRIEF




  Every Christmas Helen tries to hide at home and wish the season away for the painful past still pierces the heart each time the mistletoe is hung.  Her friends make Herculean efforts to draw her out of this seasonal agoraphobia. She acquiesces out of loyalty, but secretly aches for the occasion to end.
Helen’s fiancé was killed during the Christmas holiday just days before their wedding. Christmas, to her, only serves to remind her of the happiness so cruelly yanked away.  Though Helen gives much to her community and is one who would never be characterized as embittered. Yet every year at Christmas, the unwanted memories are revisited.
There are many like Helen, shunning the season, fearful they will be inflicted with recollection. Though we try to be compassionate, few truly understand the depth of sorrow the season emotes for those who grieve.

Yet, our Savior was the first to be acquainted with grief. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:3a). 

Because Christ suffered, we too are healed. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5).


I believe God knew that first Christmas what the future held for his own son. Angels trumpeted the long awaited arrival of the Messiah, and shepherds knelt before a holy infant as a virgin mother cradled her first-born. While the world rejoiced, perhaps the Father mourned.  For the birth of his only Son would culminate in sacrifice.
When the Father viewed the rustic cradle, did He see the Cross? When Mary wrapped Jesus in the swaddling clothes, did God see the crown of thorns? When shepherds worshipped, did He see His one and only Son ridiculed, scorned, stripped of dignity, beaten and scourged? When Mary twirled the babe’s fingers within her own, did the Father see the nails that would pierce them?

That first Christmas night, only the Father knew the events that someday would unfold.  The world celebrated the promise of salvation not knowing the price that would yet be paid, yet planned from the beginning of time. Only God knew of Heaven’s loss. And I wonder if His grief is renewed each yuletide as men continue to scorn the gift He gave.  

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

Friday, December 4, 2015

When Art Imitates Life: An Author's Book Journey



 
 
Please welcome Ane Mulligan on today's The Writer's Journey


Chapel Springs Survival is a story of loving without any prospects of fulfillment, but it's not a romance. The story was sparked by our eldest son getting himself a 21st Century mail-order bride, but there any similarity ends. Our Colombian daughter-in-law is the best thing that ever happened to our son, and we loved her from the moment we met her. But…for not telling me until after the fact, I said it was going in a book. After all, it's not nice to fool mother.

 

As I plotted this story, I wanted to move away from the cliché of Mama not accepting the new daughter-in-law, so I chased the idea of the new bride despising Claire. And the story took on life. And that's when I saw what God was doing—sort of.
 
 

 

In Chapel Springs Revival, Claire was always asking her husband, Joel, to come to church. In Chapel Springs Survival, she's got too much going on with her son's marriage to worry about Joel. Besides, he's finally coming to church with her. Well, he attends but usually falls asleep, much to Claire's embarrassment.

 

I also had a different idea for Joel's story, but God thought differently. What I planned never got written. In fact, with all Claire's problems with her new daughter-in-law, I totally forgot about Joel. But God had it all worked out.

 

I'm not trying to say God wrote this book. Not in the least.
 

But He holds my heart and mind, so without me realizing it, He directed this story, like a theatre director directs a cast. And no one was more surprised by the ending than I was.


 

Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Novelist and playwright, Ane is the executive director of Players Guild@Sugar Hill, a new community theater and president of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket. She resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a dog of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane at her website, Novel Rocket, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

 

Chapel Springs Survival

 

A mail-order bride, a town overrun with tourists, and illegal art.  How on earth will Claire and Chapel Springs survive?

 

Claire Bennett's Operation Marriage Revival succeeded and life is good. That is until the mayor's brother blabs a secret: Claire's nineteen-year-old son has married a Brazilian mail order bride. When Claire tries to welcome her, she's ridiculed, rebuffed, and rejected. Loving this girl is like hugging a prickly cactus.

 

Lydia Smith is happily living alone and running her spa—then the widow on the hill becomes a blushing bride. Then her groom's adult son moves in—on everything.

 

From the first sighting of a country music star in The Painted Loon, Chapel Springs is inundated with stargazers, causing residents to flee the area. When her best friends put their house on the market, Claire is forced to do something or lose the closest thing to a sister she’s got. With her son's future at stake and the town's problems to solve, it's Claire's who needs a guardian angel.

 

Buckle up for another bumpy and funny ride with the ladies of Chapel Springs. Characters are funny, caring and just want to do the right thing for the community, with unexpected and humorous results. Mulligan has written a wonderful contemporary novel that tickles the funny bone. ~ RT BookReviews, 4 Stars

 
 
 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Settled By Faith



Spiritual Journey

My family with nine mouths to feed and another child on the way left the ruins of the Kansas Dust Bowl and the Great Depression behind and headed for a green irrigated valley tucked in Colorado’s mountains. A church in Fruita, Colorado heard a big family was coming to the small community, and people began to pray for them.

Not long afterward, a new friend invited my oldest sister to church. Marjorie went and accepted Jesus as her Savior.

 I (the unborn child) made my appearance soon after they settled in Fruita. One by one our whole family was born again and I observed and witnessed the joy and satisfaction that comes from knowing the Lord. My sisters filled the house with joyous songs in harmony.

I went to the altar in church by myself when I was age 5 and invited Jesus into my heart.


Writing Journey

I spoke at our youth group once, and the next election I became president. Barely age 15, I sold service ideas to a youth leadership magazine. Then a few articles were accepted. I sold my accordion, bought an electric typewriter, and enrolled in a writing course.


I expanded into news writing and became a newspaper correspondent. We moved around Colorado often and I got a reporting job at the Leadville Herald Democrat. Then I was hired by The Pueblo Chieftain, a city of 100,000. I took off nearly 20 years to stay with our children, and then earned a degree in mass communications and went back to work for The Chieftain. I always wrote for Christian publications, too.

This Book’s Journey

Facts, Faith and Propaganda digs into a lifetime of biblical and other types of research. At age 25, I taught a high school class a series on The Bible and Science by Dr. Donald F. Johns. As a Chieftain reporter, I‘d already interviewed educators and ministers about the subject, but in order to know what my students were taught in public school, I studied Darwin’s The Origin of the Species, which I hadn’t had to study. I didn’t believe Darwin’s assumptions, and my faith in God grew with my students’.


I continued to study, interview, and defended my faith against atheistic professors in the secular college. I took a class on Propaganda. I taught in several different churches (and my own children) from Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict where he focuses on evidence about the Resurrection of Jesus, and the reliability of scripture. I did other research and drew other facts I learned as a reporter, too.

Facts, Faith and Propaganda opens with an op-ed piece that was published recently in The Chieftain on how secularist propaganda contributed to the present pandemic of sexually transmitted diseases.

Read the first chapter for free on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/author/adabrownell

Facts, Faith & Propaganda

By Ada Brownell
Everything about who we are, how we came to be, and why we are here, is settled by faith. This book, written by a journalist who  interviewed people on both sides of the argument, supplies evidence for faith—and reveals forgeries designed to destroy belief in God such as the Piltdown man, missing evolutionary links that DNA proved aren’t links, and a newer theory than Darwin’s, punctuated equilibrium. She also studied extensively on the reliability of scripture and evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus.
The secular world attempts to destroy faith in God with propaganda (spinning the truth) and brainwashing. Yet, no one can prove whether  God exists because faith is necessary for salvation.