Friday, March 29, 2013

The Greatest Sacrifice

The name plate on my desk was a gift from a friend, made by her father. The wooden cross was given to me in church a few years ago. I glued the cross to the name plate to remind me that I am a writer, but also I am redeemed by the greatest sacrifice ever given...the sacrifice made on the cross when Jesus died bearing all the sin of the universe.

Today is the day we remember the sacrifice, the torture, pain, humiliation, and finally the death. All of this because God loved the world so much that He sacrified His only begotten Son to save the entire world.

Each year on Good Friday, I go to Church and join in the stations of the cross. My heart is heavy knowing how much He suffered for me. I leave and walk into the darkness knowing I am an imperfect soul given redemption only through the grace of God. How can he love me so much? Truly, it is too much to understand.

So the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him, and with him two others--one on each side and Jesus in the middle.

Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, "Do not write 'The King of the Jews,' but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews."

Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written." John 19:17-22

On Sunday morning we will celebrate, for nothing is too great for our God! On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead. He left the earthly world to take His place in heaven with His Father, Our Father, but He left the Holy Spirit with us.

The Holy Spirit is that voice within us that speaks and guides us to walk the chosen path in this life. The path that is preparing us for our forever home when one day we will join our Savior and Father in the beautiful new world He will create. A world with no more pain, no more tears, no more sin...and death will be no more.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." John 20:19-23

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."

Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"

Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:26-29








Monday, March 25, 2013

13 Tips for Writers

A bit of wisdom from guest blogger Kimberly Rae


1. If you want to be a writer, you have to be willing to learn, be rejected, and work hard.

2. Wherever you are at in your writing expertise, you have a lot more to learn. Be teachable!

3.There is an overwhelming amount of information and options on the internet. Find a few resources/blogs/people you trust and stick with them for most of what you need to know. It gets very overwhelming doing random searches for information, so do it sparingly.

4. Major publishers are harder to get in than ever. If you don't have a following of thousands of people already, expect it to be nearly impossible. I know that's disappointing, but I'd rather tell you now than tell you that after you waiting 6 months for a rejection letter.

5. Subsidy publishers are eager for your book, but that's because you will be paying them and so they will make money whether you do or not. I have not heard of one yet that has worked out to an author's benefit. Be very careful about any publisher that makes you pay them first--and that's not for printing books, it's for the actually publishing of your book (and possibly some "marketing" on their part, usually this runs in the thousands of dollars before you ever see your first book).

6. Self-publishing is easier, cheaper, and you get a book a lot sooner than other options, but know that you are the 100% sole marketer responsible. If you are self-motivated, have a great message, and believe in your book, this can work great for you. Self-publishing is also good for someone who only wants to run a few copies rather than ordering hundreds up front (if you do POD--Print On Demand-- rather than one that starts the print run in the hundreds of copies).

7. If you choose to self-publish, PLEASE create a good product. I can't tell you many books I've seen and read from amazon that have typos, grammatical errors, very homemade covers, or just aren't good writing. Kindle and POD have helped make self-publishing not the stigma of lack-of-quality it used to be, but books like that put the whole group down again.

8. Whatever you decide about publishing, get an editor, or have lots of people read the book before you ever put it out there. You can have 50 people read it, and the 51st will find that elusive typo everybody else missed. Believe me, it happened to me, except the person was about the 450th and the book was already on the market! Find people who will give honest feedback. This is one of my favorite parts in the process because I get to experience my book from a new reader's eyes. What was confusing? Did I get a fact wrong? Can I make this clearer? Is is age-appropriate?

Typos can really change your storyline...

...and they lived sappily ever after....oops, I mean happily ever after!

Let's eat grandma...or rather Let's eat, grandma.

He was doping...I mean hoping.
  

9. Print-On-Demand is the cheapest way to self-publish. I'd recommend Amazon's Createspace. They are user-friendly, have great customer service, and are connected with Kindle, so you can put it up easily on e-book as well. I sell about 3 e-books for every paperback, so getting in with Kindle is important.

10. Spend time on the extras. You may have a fabulous book, but if the two paragraphs on the back are boring, people aren't going to read it. Why spend so much effort on the inside and then fall short on your author bio or your back cover or the one sentence you put on the cover?

11. Invest in a great cover. People say you can't judge a book by its cover, but we all do. With Amazon especially you're not picking books off shelves and looking through them. People are scanning pages and pages of covers and if yours is boring, or worse, looks cheap, there are millions of better ones to choose from. If you don't know what I'm talking about, just go to amazon.com and check out the covers.

Product Details
If you're a famous classic, you can get away with this. If you're a new author with a book nobody knows about...I wouldn't buy it. Would you?


12. Don't let rejection stop you. When I used to write a lot of articles for magazines and such, I began to expect 9 rejections for every 1 acceptance. Once I got the hang of who to write for and how, that number got better, but it was a realistic way to start. There are lots of reasons for being rejected that don't mean your work is bad. Keep going till you find the right readership. (Unless your work really is bad, in which case, learn and improve!)

13. Don't use God as an excuse for poor quality. That may sound mean, but agents and publishers get real wary when someone says, "God gave me this book," or "The words are Gods so..." and then proceed to say that's why the publisher really should want to publish it, or they won't take suggestions for improvements. If God had called you to build houses, He would still expect you not only to learn how to build houses, but to build them well. If you just started nailing boards together, telling people God told you build houses, you would get a bad reputation and actually dishonor your testimony rather than honoring God. So if God has told you to write, do so, but work at becoming the best writer you can be so your work honors Him.


There you have it. If you've learned some good lessons along the way, add to my list! It's always great to learn from someone else, especially someone a few steps farther up the path than we are. Helps us see potholes we might miss from our viewpoint.

Oh, also, if you have a question about any of this, please add it below and maybe it will show up as a future blog post! (With the answer, of course.)

Happy Writing! And may you live sappily ever after. =)
Kimberly Rae has lived in Bangladesh, Uganda, Kosovo and Indonesia. She has been published over 250 times and has work in 6 languages. Her series of book on international human trafficking (Stolen Woman, Stolen Child, Stolen Future) are all Amazon bestsellers. Find out more at www.kimberlyrae.com, or read more writing tips from Kimberly on her blog.!


Thank you again and God bless your day!
Kimberly Rae
Know Your Worth, Change The World

Friday, March 22, 2013

Modern Day Prodigal Son

Today I am going to share from a very personal and bruised part of my heart. One of my grandsons has been struggling with alcohol addiction. He was raised in a Christian home, went to Christian schools, and joined the Air Force right after high school graduation. After his graduation from basic, he was transferred to an Arizona Air Force Base. That's where he first ran into some serious trouble. No longer surrounded with his support system, he was easy prey for Satan. After some heartbreaking events, he came home to begin a new phase of his life. But Satan's minions still pulled at him and finally succeeded in dragging him down.

Last week he nearly died from an alcohol level nearly eight times what a normal count should be. He faces a long and painful recovery, but one thing I know is that God loves him. He loves him even more than anyone else here on earth does. And through the power of prayer, and God surrounding him with His angels, my grandson will recover.

As my daughter said, sometimes lyrics can say the things which are so hard for us to speak. My grandson asked her to listen to the lyrics of this song.





I can't listen without tears, for God is showing me how awesome and powerful He is. He won't let go of my grandson.

If any of you reading this are fearing for someone you love, please trust in God.

"And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen." ~~Ephesians 3:18-21

Friday, March 15, 2013

Let's Talk About Creativity

This morning my hubby asked me why potassium was so important to the body. So I looked it up on the internet and read him the information. We then discussed how miraculous the human body is...how precisely each detail is and how everything works together in perfect unison. Pondering that, it is beyond my comprehension that anyone can deny the existence of God!

What a great Creator He is! Just look around. He created the entire world...each person, each animal, plant, the stars, the planets. What a wonderful imagination He has.

From the beginning of time, God was and is the Great Creator.

He is the one who inspires every creation. Remember Noah? He wasn't a shipbuilder, but God told him to build an arc. He gave him explicit directions and Noah obeyed. Can you imagine being given such a monumental task?

God inspires us to create and He gives us the necessary tools. The one thing we need to remember is that though we are creative, He is the actual Creator. He knows before we do what our next plot will be. Isn't that exciting?

I love to crochet, I love to write. But the completed items are really created by God! To Him be the glory. My crochet works will be given to someone in need of love and prayer. God knows who will receive it, though I do not. Likewise, when I write a story, God knows who will read it and He will use it to bring understanding, hope, and enrich the faith of the reader.

This whole creativity thing is a wild ride on which He leads us. Why not worship Him along the way?

READ: Exodus 31:1-11

"...and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts--" (Exodus 31:3)

Friday, March 8, 2013

It's All About Verbs!!

Write is a verb. It is an action word.

What it means for me as an author is putting my hands on the keyboard and weaving words into an entertaining plot.

There are times writing is a thought process. Thinking about characters, plots, scenes. Think is a verb.

Sometimes I read to get ideas and to learn more about writing. Read is a verb.

I'm a writer. My actions produce messages of hope and inspiration to those who read my words.

I am also a Christian. Being a Christian requires me to love. Love is a verb, too. It’s not just a word I speak to others, not just a word I write. To really love takes an action on my part.

It’s what being a follower of Jesus means. Loving others without thinking of rewards.

Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 
"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?"
Jesus said to him, " 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'  
"This is the first and great commandment. 
"And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  
"On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."  (Matthew 22:35-40)  


Prayer: Dear Lord, let me go through the day remembering that love is an action word. Let me be a blessing to others in my words and deeds. Let me love like Jesus. Amen.

How will you take action today?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Devouring The Elephant



by Jordyn Redwood


I'll never forget when I got "the call" from my agent that I finally had a book contract. Years of hard work had finally paid off and my baby was going to be published. It wasn't long before my exuberant thoughts were replaced by the fear creeping into my mind that culminated into one thought.



He is going to expect me to do this again!



Yes, I was going to have to write another book. Trouble was, I had the luxury of years to write Proof and not under the pressure of any sort of deadline. If I didn't "feel" like writing a particular day—no one but me really cared.



Now, I had to write another one under a deadline and that worry began to eat away at my self confidence. Am I just a one book wonder? Can I write a 100,000 word novel in six-nine months?



These are some things I found that helped me write a novel in a much shorter time frame than the luxury I had of refining and refining words on my debut novel.



1. Write your first draft with little editing. This at first was hard for me but I have found it truly freeing. Whatever the length of the writing project it is you're writing, the first draft is just about getting words onto the paper. I've even stopped researching small points during the first draft as well. I'll simply make a notation in the ms and know this is an area I'll buffer up during the editing phase.



2. Make a goal and stick to it. I try and work well ahead of my publisher's deadline because real life does happen. But just like a real job, by signing a contract you have made a commitment to produce a product for your publisher. People are depending on you to finish it. Make a goal but definitely reward yourself when you finish it.



3. The BIC technique works—which stands for butt in chair. You have to sit and get the words onto paper. The reality of a professional author is that you will have to write when you don't feel like it. When you might be mildly under the weather. When the plot isn't working...



4. There is a dark point in writing every novel—but there is always light at the end. I've yet to come across an author who doesn't have a point in writing each novel where they doubt their qualifications as an author. Recognize this for what it is—a journey. There is a wonderful moment where you get to type "THE END" and release your baby into the world.



5. Take a day off each week. The Lord says to do this for a reason. Spend time with the Lord and your family. No one goes to their death bed wishing they would have worked more.



Above all, enjoy the struggle and the fun. Writing is a wonderful, unique adventure. What about you? How do you make your goals feasible?
  

Jordyn Redwood is a pediatric ER nurse by day, suspense novelist by night. She hosts Redwood’s Medical Edge, a blog devoted to helping contemporary and historical authors write medically accurate fiction. Her debut novel, Proof, garnered a starred review from Library Journal and has been endorsed by the likes of Dr. Richard Mabry, Lynette Eason, and Mike Dellosso to name a few. The second book in the Bloodline Trilogy, Poison, releases Feb, 2013. You can connect with Jordyn via her website at www.jordynredwood.net.


 Thank you Jordyn, for your encouragement. Writing a manuscript is like eating an elephant. You just take one bite at a time

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Bouquet for Jesus

Flowers are one of God's beautiful creations. While flowers may appear identical, each is a unique and individual entity. Just as we, too, are unique individuals created from the Master's hand.

We have different faces, fingers, eyes, smiles, and even thoughts. As God's children, we should remember that we weren't created to fit into a worldly mold.

He gave us the gift and passion to write. We all have different stories to tell and different ways of pursuing our careers. Never should we fall into a the trap of patterning our career after someone else's success.

We need to remember why and for Whom we have been called. Not to bring glory to us, but to Him. We are not called to follow the trends demanded by the publishing world.

Sharing stories of faith, showing God's love and mercy when we let go and let God, is our calling. If we keep that in mind, and remain true to what our heart wants us to write, instead of what the world of is demanding, we cannot fail. For we can do all things through the power of Jesus Christ.

Just as the picture above is a beautiful blend of blooms, so, too, are Christian authors who follow God's will. Together we make a beautiful bouquet for the Lord's garden.
 
Hold strong to the promise in Psalm 138:8 that the Lord will fulfill His purpose for you.

2 Corinthians 6:4 "In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God."