Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
And like all exercises, I sometimes would rather do anything but the work. I like the results... but the work? Not so much.
But God keeps bringing me back to this tradition every December, and I start reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the new one. Then I start talking to Him about what He wants to do in me during the next year.
Often, one word or a group of words stands out.
As has been par for the course, the word or words God brings to mind define an area He presses on during the year.
Instead of this word boxing God in to only one thing, each year the word He gives focuses my prayers and sharpens my spiritual sight to pay attention to where He's at work.
Before I share a word that surprised me for 2009, travel back with me a few years and trace the scarlet thread of God's grace...
In 2006 I looked forward to the word God whispered to my spirit~ ENJOY.
But I learned early in 2006, ENJOY didn't mean live it up and party. For twelve long months it meant learning to ENJOY God when there was little in life that would traditionally lead to experiencing joy.
Years later, I can look back at that painful flip of calendar pages and what stands out is that God was there, holding me when I couldn't stand and strengthening me as I bowed to His will being done and not mine.
The word for 2007 was REST. And let me tell you, God had a lot to teach me about how wrong my ideas on rest really were.
2007 was another challenging year, one full of hard fought battles, tear filled circumstances and quiet times of refreshing. God was there in the midst of every moment.
And now I see that without the painful times of both 2006 and 2007, I wouldn't have had eyes to see His rescue or the work He did in my heart. Nor would I have been ready for what 2008 had in store.
Last year’s word was EXPECTANT HOPE, and a verse God brought to mind was in Psalm 52. Verse nine says, “I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.”
Beyond the other words God has given me, this phrase was the hardest. I’ve spent most of my life afraid to hope. Afraid to live in a state of expectancy because all too often my hopes were dashed on harsh reality.
But along with these two powerful words came a reminder: My HOPE is in God. My EXPECTANCY is toward Him.
This lesson is one in which I'm still a gangly teen, taking a few steps forward in confidence and a few more awkward stumbles backward. But as in all years past, God is there.
And now for 2009...
The word that stands out for 2009 is PEACE.
Given the times, I sort of hiccupped when I sensed this was the word for 2009. Really, God? Am I hearing You right?
But then when I recounted a few big reasons to be unsettled next year—situations where fear would be a natural response—this word fit.
Here’s the short list:
This is the first time since I started writing that I have no signed contract.
My husband plans to start grad school and we’re still trying to dig out from under some large medical debts incurred in 2008.
The economy is bad.
We’re praying about changes in our school situation.
But instead letting my mind walk the trail of fear, God whispered a word that echoes through time. PEACE.
In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
Again, in John 16:33 Jesus says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Because we know Who holds every breath we'll take in 2009 and every circumstance we'll live through, we can have peace in Him. His peace.
I pray as we head into 2009, that you’ll join me in looking back to see what God has done. And then look ahead to what 2009 holds.
May you step into the future wrapped in His love and resting in His peace. No matter what’s ahead, God is already there. And your heavenly Daddy is holding you every step of the way.
Happy New Year!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Christmas at the Wallace home was full of both old and new traditions, lots of fun, and a few tears.
Ice skating on Christmas Eve
Two Wallaces getting injured ice skating. But no ER run, so all is good.
Making a gingerbread house
David eating the icing
Celebrating with family and friends and exchanging gifts
Another new was gluten, dairy, and egg-free holiday eating. Let's just say it was an adventure. But another one of my bestest friends made me a very cool gift basket with yummy cookies I could eat and some hot chocolate. Talk about a thoughtful gift!
We also received a very cool Australian gift from a dear friend Down Under. I'm forever in awe at the thoughtfulness of the people I hold dear.
Spending Christmas morning in PJs and taking all morning to enjoy the Advent wreath, a special breakfast casserole with whipped cream, and then exchanging gifts with each other. One of my favorite memories is the look on each of my daughters' faces as they open gifts and their eyes light and their mouths drop. Then they crash into David and me with hugs.
My middle princess summed it up in a prayer that day. She thanked God for the thoughtful gifts of her family that remind her of how much Jesus gave us when he came as a baby, died on a cross and rose again.
Baking a birthday cake for Jesus and singing to Him. This was a new addition to our Christmas day thanks to our middle daughter who at eight is still kid enough to enjoy this but wise enough to realize it's a fun way to remember it's not about the gifts we give, it's about Jesus and the gift He gave.
The day after Christmas has always been a down sort of day. It's as if we touched heaven with all the joys and celebration the singing and sharing of December but then we crash back to earth when it's all over.
Something clicked for me when David and I talked on Friday and looked back over the holidays. I realized that no matter how hard we try to make things "perfect" and no matter how close we get to it, this is not the end of the story.
One day there will be no more day after Christmases.
And until then, we're looking forward to a new tradition and praying about how to carry it out. We'd love your help in that.
We've talked a lot in years past about how to give to others who can't repay us. Operation Christmas Child, singing in nursing homes, Angel Tree and others are awesome ways to do that.
But we'd like to do something a little closer to home and something our children can participate in more directly.
The problem is, I honestly have no idea how or what to do. And I'd love to hear your experiences and thoughts about this. Maybe together we can come up with ways we can give love to others at Christmas and all throughout the new year.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
So to halt this progression, my hubby and I turned songwriter last night. Great way to flex the old creativity muscles. :-)
We started with a traditional carol we'd just seen in lights during the Magical Nights of Lights. I'm sharing it with you now for your laughing pleasure...
If you see fit to discourage me from further songwriting, please pray for more books to write. LOL
five gold earrings,
a year of four-day weekends, three obedient children, two Wii games and an iPod under the tree
five gold earrings,
a year of four-day weekends, three obedient children, two Wii games and an iPod under the tree
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Does this Christmas seem sadder to anyone?
I've heard a few different variations on this theme. I have this sense too. There have been many deaths in our church this past year and many people we know who have lost their jobs this holiday season.
Would you pray with me for these people? That the Spirit of Christmas~ God's Holy Spirit~ would be their joy, even in the tears?
Something else we can do is give a laugh or precious holiday encouragement through simple things like a silly card, a coffee date, or even a great Christmas book like Engaging Father Christmas
Cards and books especially touch the heart, fill it up, and make life hurt a little less because we're reminded we're not alone. We can feel a tangible object in our hands and read and reread the kindnesses given by a friend.
Even if this holiday season seems sadder, let's look for people to encourage. And let's remember we're not helpless or alone now or any other time of the year. Christmas is an incredible time to remind ourselves and others that Truth and Hope and Life are here~ Immanuel, God with us.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Robin grew up in Orange County, California and has lived in all kinds of interesting places, including Reno and Hawai’i.
She and her husband currently live near Portland, Oregon and have been married for 30 years. They spent their first 22 years of marriage working together in youth ministry, and enjoying life with their son and daughter who are now both grown.
As a frequent speaker at local and international events, one of Robin’s favorite topics is how God is the Relentless Lover and we are His first love. She delights in telling stories of how God uses fiction to change lives.
Robin is the recipient of the Christy Award, the Mt. Hermon Pacesetter Award, the Sherwood E. Wirt Award and is a Gold Medallion Finalist. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Media Associates International and the Board of Directors for Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers’ Guild.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Miranda Carson can't wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she's sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation.
But Miranda's high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian's father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda's mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.
And yet...maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Engaging Father Christmas, go HERE
Friday, December 05, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
It always warms my heart to hear thanks for relationships and God's protection. We ended our last round with thanks for the freedom to worship Christ this holiday season and a line from our favorite holiday movie, "God bless us everyone!"
As you prepare homes and hearts for Chrismas, I pray the memories of Thanksgiving Day and all the little and big things we have to give thanks for will fill your mind and help you savor this season.
If you're so inclined, join me in two activities that always slow me down and fill me with peace: dancing with a little one and sitting by Christmas tree light, surrounded by memories.
Monday, November 24, 2008
So here’s my different sort of Thanksgiving list.
Things I'm thankful I don't have:
I'm thankful I don't have a cardboard box for a home, and I hope we'll all remember to pray for and help those who do.
I'm thankful I don't have sick or hospitalized family members, and I'm praying for friends and church family who do.
I'm thankful I don't have to sneak around to worship God, and am incredibly thankful for the freedoms we have in America. Let's all pray we continue to enjoy those and not forget our brothers and sisters in Christ who can't do that.
I'm thankful I don't have to spend the holidays alone. Please pray and reach out to someone who can't say that.
I'm thankful I don't have to leave grievances undealt with. Holidays are a time traditionally filled with the longing for Norman Rockwell family gatherings. Many of us have never had that. And no matter how close we might come, forgiveness is still a daily need. I know it is in the Wallace home. I hope this holiday season, as far as it depends on you, that you can offer and receive forgiveness from the heart.
I'm also thankful I don't have to worry about tomorrow, no matter what it holds.
What about you all? Anything you're thankful to not have?
From all the Wallaces... wishing you a Thanksgiving and Christmas season filled with moments to treasure and ponder in your heart.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Unwrapping memories and smiles with each ornament is one of my all-time favorite things. Here are some other holiday fun facts...
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both, but mostly gift bags for grown-ups and wrapping paper for kiddos
2. Real tree or Artificial? Real until my kiddos decided cutting down trees in Christmas sweaters and 70 degree weather didn't go together. Gotta love Atlanta where it'll be 30 one day and 70 the next... in December.
3. When do you put up the tree? It used to be the first weekend in November. But hubby said that eclipsed Thanksgiving. So I wait until Thanksgiving night to start hauling out boxes and smiling...I adore having the Christmas decorations up.
4. When do you take the tree down? Our tree comes down New Year's Day and it always makes me sad.
5. Do you like eggnog? Definitely, but this will be the first Christmas I won't drink much if any. I'm now allergic to dairy, eggs and wheat, which nixes most of the holiday fixes I look forward to each year. But there's always chocolate. ;-)
6. Favorite gift received as a child? An enormous teddy bear with a huge bow. He now belongs to my oldest and she adores in like I did.
7. Hardest person to buy for? My in-laws
8. Easiest person to buy for? My kiddos
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. We have a hearth covered with kid-friendly nativities. And I have my grandmother's nativity she collected from different places in Europe. That one is still hard to put up because it reminds me I won't be going home to Gram's for Christmas anymore.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? I might be online a lot, but I'm a holiday traditionalist. Christmas cards all the way. In fact, we love getting cards because we pray for each person as a family before the card goes on our card wreath.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? I could list a few, but I probably shouldn't.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Charlie Brown's Christmas. I have a soft spot for my writing hero -Snoopy.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Don't hate me... my Christmas shopping is done by October. I start Christmas shopping when I do spring birthday shopping.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Uhm... for white elephant gifts
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Marzipan
16. Lights on the tree? Twinkly white lights and lots of 'em
17. Favorite Christmas song? Mary Did You Know
18. Travel at Christmas or stay at home? We stay home and host a Christmas Eve celebration.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Only if I sing it... You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen. Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. But do you recall the most famous reindeer of all....Rudolph.
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel, and our girls have named it thanks to the book by Max Lucado called Alabaster's Song. Love that book!
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We open gifts with extended family on Christmas Eve and then it's our little family on Christmas morning.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The Christmas Shoes song. Could live happily by never hearing that song again.
23. What theme or color are you using? I like maroon and gold colors and books, books and more books seems to be the theme around here. We used to have one basket packed with favorite Christmas tales. Now it's expanded to far more than that. But we read them all over and over and it's a favorite Christmas pastime.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Pot roast, dinner rolls, cranberry sauce, and lots and lots of chocolate.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? An iPod, a Wii Fit, world peace and Jesus to come back.
What about you? What's your favorite part of Christmas?
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Whadda ya think?
A PAINFUL PAST
Hanna Kessler's childhood secret has remained buried for over two decades. But when the dark shadows of her past threaten to destroy those she loves, Hanna must face the summer that changed her life and the man who still haunts her memories.
A RACIALLY-MOTIVATED KILLER
As a Crimes Against Children FBI Agent, Michael Parker knows what it means to get knocked down. Difficult cases and broken relationships have plagued his entire year. But when the system fails and a white supremacist is set free, Michael's drive for retribution eclipses all else.
A LIFE-ALTERING CHOICE
A racist's well-planned assault forces Hanna and Michael to decide between executing vengeance and pursuing justice. The dividing line is the choice to heal. But when the attack turns personal, is justice enough?
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I forgot to HALT.
Do you know what that means? If you've listened to Dr. Charles Stanley for any length of time, you've probably heard about his HALT principle. Since we were members at FBA a very long time and my hubby worked at IN TOUCH, I should know this principle.
But I forgot.
Here's the gist of the HALT principle...
Don't get too:
If you neglect these areas of personal and spiritual health, things go badly. Thus my last few months.
If I'd have paid attention to the HALT principle and halted my words and actions and took care of my heart, I wouldn't be confessing to some rotten results.
I won't air all my mess, but suffice it to say I've not been a pleasant person to be around in real life. Ask my kids. And my husband. I've been snippy and too easily bothered and irritated.
All because I've stayed up WAY TOO LATE to read.
And I've tried and then stopped trimming my eating because my high school reunion is coming up. Stress is an easy excuse to eat and I've taken it and run. But when I get back on and then off the wagon, I'm hungry all time. Thankfully, when I stick with eating smart for a few days, that hungry goes away.
The angry and lonely go hand in hand for me. Anger is a default if I'm not dealing with the issues in my heart. And when I'm angry, nobody wants to share my space.
Except God is so very good to give my family and friends this unending ability to forgive. My children especially.
They're the reason I had anything intelligent to share here today. After a long discussion about Elijah and the prophets of Baal that led to talk on prayer, knowing God's will, and Him living through us, it clicked that I have to HALT and take care of my heart before I can be the wife, mom and friend I long to be.
So how about you all? I sure hope I'm not the only one needing to relearn some sage words from God's word or a wise pastor's sermon.
How has God turned you back around when you were headed the wrong direction?
And there's lots of fun to be had Twittering. It's not just for writers. Don't know what Twitter is? Well, check out Michael Hyatt's blog and you'll find some great articles about why to start Twittering and a beginner's guide to Twitter.
For me, it's a fun way to connect with folks. It helps writing not be such a solitary profession. And I'm a mom, so finding grown-up conversation in the midst of busy days is hard. Twitter makes it a little easier.
If you want to jump into the conversation, hop over to http://twitter.com/AmyWallace and see what's happening.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
We did not.
But we will pray, as a family, for this man as he takes office and for our nation in the days ahead.
America Has Chosen a President
By Albert Mohler
Posted: Wednesday, November 05, 2008 at 5:04 am ET
The election of Sen. Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States came as a bang, not a whimper. The tremors had been perceptible for days, maybe even weeks. On Tuesday, America experienced nothing less than a political and cultural earthquake.
The margin of victory for the Democratic ticket was clear. Americans voted in record numbers and with tangible enthusiasm. By the end of the day, it was clear that Barack Obama would be elected with a majority of the popular vote and a near landslide in the Electoral College. When President-Elect Obama greeted the throngs of his supporters in Chicago's Grant Park, he basked in the glory of electoral energy.
For many of us, the end of the night brought disappointment. In this case, the disappointment is compounded by the sense that the issues that did not allow us to support Sen. Obama are matters of life and death -- not just political issues of heated debate. Furthermore, the margin of victory and sense of a shift in the political landscape point to greater disappointments ahead. We all knew that so much was at stake.
For others, the night was magical and momentous. Young and old cried tears of amazement and victory as America elected its first African-American President -- and elected him overwhelmingly. Just forty years after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, an African-American stood to claim victory as President-Elect of the nation. As Sen. Obama assured the crowd in Chicago and the watching nation, "We will get there. We will get there." No one hearing those words could fail to hear the refrain of plaintive words spoken in Memphis four decades ago. President-Elect Obama would stand upon the mountaintop that Dr. King had foreseen.
That victory is a hallmark moment in history for all Americans -- not just for those who voted for Sen. Obama. As a nation, we will never think of ourselves the same way again. Americans rich and poor, black and white, old and young, will look to an African-American man and know him as President of the United States. The President. The only President. The elected President. Our President.
Every American should be moved by the sight of young African-Americans who -- for the first time -- now believe that they have a purchase in American democracy. Old men and old women, grandsons and granddaughters of slaves and slaveholders, will look to an African-American as President.
Regardless of politics, could anyone remain unmoved by the sight of Jesse Jackson crying alone amidst the crowd in Chicago? This dimension of Election Day transcends politics and touches the heart of the American people.
Yet, the issues and the politics remain. Given the scale of the Democratic victory, the political landscape will be completely reshaped. The fight for the dignity and sanctity of unborn human beings has been set back by a great loss, and by the election of a President who has announced his intention to sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law. The struggle to protect marriage against its destruction by redefinition is now complicated by the election of a President who has declared his aim to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. On issue after issue, we face a longer, harder, and more protracted struggle than ever before.
Still, we must press on as advocates for the unborn, for the elderly, for the infirm, and for the vulnerable. We must redouble our efforts to defend marriage and the integrity of the family. We must be vigilant to protect religious liberty and the freedom of the pulpit. We face awesome battles ahead.
At the same time, we must be honest and recognize that the political maps are being redrawn before our eyes. Will the Republican Party decide that conservative Christians are just too troublesome for the party and see the pro-life movement as a liability? There is the real danger that the Republicans, stung by this defeat, will adopt a libertarian approach to divisive moral issues and show conservative Christians the door.
Others will declare these struggles over, arguing that the election of Sen. Obama means that Americans in general -- and many younger Evangelicals in particular -- are ready to "move on" to other issues. This is no time for surrender or the abandonment of our core principles. We face a much harder struggle ahead, but we have no right to abandon the struggle.
We should look for opportunities to work with the new President and his administration where we can. We must hope that he will lead and govern as the bridge-builder he claimed to be in his campaign. We must confront and oppose the Obama administration where conscience demands, but work together where conscience allows.
Evangelical Christians face another challenge with the election of Sen. Obama, and a failure to rise to this challenge will bring disrepute upon the Gospel, as well as upon ourselves. There must be absolutely no denial of the legitimacy of President-Elect Obama's election and no failure to accord this new President the respect and honor due to anyone elected to that high office. Failure in this responsibility is disobedience to a clear biblical command.
Beyond this, we must commit ourselves to pray for this new President, for his wife and family, for his administration, and for the nation. We are commanded to pray for rulers, and this new President faces challenges that are not only daunting but potentially disastrous. May God grant him wisdom. He and his family will face new challenges and the pressures of this office. May God protect them, give them joy in their family life, and hold them close together.
We must pray that God will protect this nation even as the new President settles into his role as Commander in Chief, and that God will grant peace as he leads the nation through times of trial and international conflict and tension.
We must pray that God would change President-Elect Obama's mind and heart on issues of our crucial concern. May God change his heart and open his eyes to see abortion as the murder of the innocent unborn, to see marriage as an institution to be defended, and to see a host of issues in a new light. We must pray this from this day until the day he leaves office. God is sovereign, after all.
Without doubt, we face hard days ahead. Realistically, we must expect to be frustrated and disappointed. We may find ourselves to be defeated and discouraged. We must keep ever in mind that it is God who raises up nations and pulls them down, and who judges both nations and rulers. We must not act or think as unbelievers, or as those who do not trust God.
America has chosen a President. President-Elect Barack Obama is that choice, and he faces a breathtaking array of challenges and choices in days ahead. This is the time for Christians to begin praying in earnest for our new President. There is no time to lose.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
In the Character Spotlight, I alluded to a story that I've been asked to tell. A story that I cringe to share because it's a tad embarrassing. But it explains why I won't ever look for one of my characters in real life again. So, red face aside... here goes.
My family and I attended a mega-church for over a decade. One Sunday, well before Ransomed Dreams was published, I was sitting in service, minding my own business, and in walked Steven Kessler and his four-year-old son, James.
I about fell out of my chair. Then I nudged my husband, David, and pointed, giggling like a schoolgirl. He agreed that this man and his son looked just like he'd pictured my characters.
Well... the father and son sat right next to me. And "Steven" asked for a pen because his son wanted to take notes. He smiled and it felt like a scene right out of Ransomed Dreams. This guy was Steven.
After that Sunday, David and I would see this man every Sunday. And we'd smile and gawk at Steven being at our church.
This went on for three years.
We'd see "Steven" and smile and I'd get red-faced and giggly. David always gave me a hard time about how I should go meet my character. I always said, "No way." It got to the point where "Steven" would spot us and do the same smile and laugh thing.
Then one evening we ended up at a youth leader's social event where I saw “Steven” and found out "Steven" and his wife taught juniors. David and I co-taught high school seniors with two other couples. So here we all were.
Once again, David nudged me to finally meet the guy and tell "Steven" why we see him and laugh.
So David and I introduced ourselves and we all got to talking about why we spot each other and laugh. As I'm telling the original story, David slips away and ends up standing behind "Steven" while I keep getting myself into more and more trouble.
It all went downhill fast when I started telling this guy about how he looks just like my awesome FBI hero and how the "real" Steven is this amazing, good-looking guy.
My husband is behind "Steven" crying he's laughing so hard.
Then it gets worse.
I keep going and tell "Steven" how even though the FBI agent in my story is so wonderful and how he looks just like him, I really haven't been flirting with "Steven" at church when we've seen him. Really.
And I kept trying to dig myself out of this verbal hole. Which, as you all know, leads to a deeper and deeper hole.
Finally, my husband stops drying his eyes and rejoins the conversation. Poor "Steven" doesn't quite know what to make of me and goes to find his wife. She joins the conversation and the story gets retold.
By this time I'm so red I look permanently sunburned.
Not too long after our conversation "Steven" and his wife leave the party with a "let's get away from that crazy person" look directed my way.
Then, not two months later, "Steven" and his family moved...
Out of state....
Far away from that crazy writer.
Somewhere in the US "Steven" is now attending church and probably thanking the good Lord he no longer knows anyone who writes.
And that's why I will never look for one of my characters in real life again. Ever.
My hair is longer now, and praise the Lord, I've finally started losing weight! It's been two years in coming to get my thyroid functioning correctly again, but it's working and I'm feeling so much better.
Just in time for my 20th high school reunion. ;-)
So if you have any tips or advice for interviews, reunions or something else we all should know, please add your comments!
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Hope you're having a great Saturday! I'm back to work on an outline.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
I'm on YouTube!!!
If you go to YouTube and search for Amy Wallace, there are six video segments from an interview I did last April about Healing Promises. We talked a lot about writing and the themes of cancer and how we trust God when life hurts.
I hope you'll go check them out and let me know what you think!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Actually, I'm catching up on life now that I'm not immersed in Michael and Hanna's world. And sharing with you guys about my friend, Michelle Sutton, is one of the happy things on my to-do list.
Her debut novel, IT'S NOT ABOUT ME, is an edgy inspirational young adult fiction novel and she's here today to share a little about the author behind the story.
Author Spotlight: Michelle Sutton
How long have you been writing fiction?
I started writing in August of 2003
(Michelle and I were in the same ACFW writer's group years ago. I'm forever amazed at how fast Michelle learns and a little green at how incredibly fast she can write.)
Who encouraged you or what made you decide to write a novel and seek publication?
Cynthia Rutledge, a former Love Inspired author inspired me. And, of course, God.
What does a typical writing day look like?
LOL! There is no such thing. I write when I can. Between the magazine, my day job and other stuff, I just fit writing in when I get the muse.
Do we "see" some of you in your characters?
Not too much. Maybe Dan, but he’s a guy. And the wild side of Tony used to be me.
Can you define edgy inspirational fiction and share a little about why you write it?
Edgy inspirational fiction tells it like it is. You get the truth and all of the ugly stuff in life along with it. I like to write things as they really are despite what we want to see.
What is something you’ve learned about yourself and God through writing that you might not have learned any other way?
Humility. It’s truly humbling baring your soul to the world through your stories.
(I totally concur... it's hard to lay it all out there. But it's worth it.)
What is your favorite way to connect with God?
Thanks for stopping by today, Michelle! To learn more, please check out Michelle's website and blog:
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
And for the elusive "free time" for me? Well, I'm reading a fascinating forensics book and taking lots of notes.
Every once in a while (okay, maybe once or twice a day) I play a new word game I found on the web: 8 Letters in Search of a Word
I'm also reading a scrumptious book entitled Chocolate Covered Friendship. Definitely a book for all chocolate lovers!
So what do you all do for free time fun? Do you make time for fun or take free time as it comes?
Thursday, October 09, 2008
But in a month's time, I've experienced the positive results of this phrase.
The first time it happened, I was bowled over. I read a review of Ransomed Dreams by Latte-n-Libre that got me all teary. It blew me away in fact.
Here's a snippet: "I feel like the measure of Christian fiction is the ability to not only entertain but to set itself apart by presenting a spiritual truth that we can take way and apply to our lives or store it to share with someone else. Ransomed Dreams does just that."
Now that's an awesome compliment. But that's not what blew me away. The reason this statement squeezed my heart was because it was a reply to a long-standing prayer. It was a direct answer to my plea as I wrote Ransomed Dreams, the one where I begged God to use this story to go deep and touch hearts with His healing power.
She went on to say this: "See how Ransomed Dreams changed my life here." Now that's something every author longs to read. And this post not only made me teary, it made me bawl and praise God.
What I wrote with a prayer to encourage others came back my way and overwhelmed me with the reality of God's answered prayers.
Then today, I received another note about a blog post referencing an article I'd written years ago that Hope found on my Heart Chocolate site.
She said, "I stumbled across Amy Wallace’s website and found exactly the reminder I needed. Amy has an article on her website entitled, "Putting on the Full Armor of God for Writers" that truly spoke to my heart."
I wrote that article praying for writers who needed encouragement and to remind myself and others that God's Word is the best place to run for every type of writing day... before you even start writing.
What a thrill to know God accomplished that. And did abundantly more than I could have imagined.
What goes around comes around. And, wow, am I glad.
A special thanks to these two ladies who encouraged my heart with their posts.
And to all of us...don't give up doing good. Or praying. God will bring it back around when you least expect it.
Friday, October 03, 2008
But since coming home, I've hit the ground running and have taught and started a young writers club with another friend. Talk about energy and fun! Before I had children, I taught and have always loved kids and teens.
They are full of energy and these young authors have creativity and imagination to spare. And some of the moms are aspiring authors too, so I'm loving the opportunity to help and encourage them.
And while I had a blast with the group, I came home needing time to just sit and not be required to talk or do anything.
I know I'm an introvert (regardless of what some friends claim) because I get refilled by alone time or time with my family and close friends.
After the writers group, I got to pray with a very dear friend who's off on an adventure in the west and spent time with another friend laughing about life over coffee.
Those times fill me too.
My husband and kids are almost complete opposites. No surprise there. God has a sense of humor.
They get filled by meeting new folks, doing new things and being on the go. In fact, they're waiting for me to come out of my home office cave and go on a painting adventure.
So I must go...
But I'd love to hear how you all fill up. What makes you come alive? What do you do to recharge and refresh?
Thursday, October 02, 2008
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Michelle Sutton has lived in Arizona and since 1991 and has two sons and a husband of 18 years. She began writing fiction in August 2003 when God inspired her to write a novel with realistic characters that would glorify Him. In 2004 she joined ACFW - American Christian Fiction Writers. In 2006 Michelle ran for Volunteer Officer on the ACFW Operating board and ACFW members elected her to serve a two year term. She sold her first manuscript Then Sings My Soul (now re-titled It's Not About Me) to Sheaf House and her debut novel was released in Sept. 2008. The second book in the Second Glances series - It's Not About Him - will be released the following fall (Sept. 2009.)
Last, Michelle is Editor in Chief of the new Christian Fiction Online Magazine. The debut issue released in July 2008. The magazine is sponsored by the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Annie has it all. She's attractive, graduated with honors, was accepted at the college of her choice, has supportive parents, good friends, and a steady boyfriend who loves her. One night an unexpected visitor appears and Annie's safe world is destroyed by a brutal attack. As she tries to pick up the pieces of her broken life, she is torn between two brothers, both of whom claim to love her. She is attracted to both, but which one does she love? How can she choose when her decision may cause a permanent rift between them? And more important, will she give her heart to the One who will sustain her even when human love fails.
"...the exquisitely written spiritual content shows the reader that redemption is available, no matter what the circumstances."
- 4 Stars, Romantic Times!
Instead of dealing with timely issues like alcoholism, premarital sex and pornography in a preachy, oh-so-tired fashion, Michelle Sutton's It's Not About Me gets to the heart of the matter with a shocking dose of realism and poignant storytelling. From the first paragraph, Sutton weaves together a thoroughly entertaining story that'll keep readers intrigued for the long haul as they get to know Annie, Dan, Tony and Susie—young adults that probably don't look and sound all that different from themselves. Now that's a seriously refreshing turn for Christian fiction."
~Christa Ann Banister~, author of Around the World in 80 Dates, (NavPress 2007) and Blessed are the Meddlers (NavPress 2008)
It's Not About Me is a wonderfully entertaining and deliciously suspenseful read that will keep you turning the pages. Sutton doesn't back away from the drama and with all of the twists and turns, It's Not About Me is hard to put down. I cannot wait for the sequel! Bravo!"
~Victoria Christopher Murray~, Essence best-selling author of multiple titles including The Ex Files and the upcoming YA series The Divine Divas
“Annie captured my heart on the first page and kept me enthralled to the very end. This edgy, yet surprisingly poignant story travels the inroads of intimate relationships – man to woman, brother to brother, parent to child, friend to friend. But especially satisfying is the author’s delicate handling of the relationship between a searching soul and the loving Savior who alone possesses the power to work all things out for the good. A terrific debut for Michelle Sutton. I can’t wait to read more from this talented author!”
~Virginia Smith~, author of Just As I Am and Sincerely, Mayla
"Michelle Sutton's gritty writing style will very likely go straight to the hearts of teens, addressing what they deal with every day in what is all too often grim reality for our youth. Sutton is no doubt a refreshing and much needed voice in today's YA fiction."
~Tina Ann Forkner~, Author of Ruby Among Us
Waterbrook Press/Random House
If you would like to read the Prologue and first Chapter of It's Not About Me, go HERE
Friday, September 26, 2008
This week, I'm honored to tell you all a little about When the Soul Mends, the third book in the Sisters of the Quilt series. The author, Cindy Woodsmall, is a dear friend and phenomenal writer.
I had the privilege of hearing about this story before it became a three book series and in brainstorming with a group about the second and third book. Even so, Cindy surprised me. I went into this story knowing who I wanted Hannah to end this series with and why.
But what I felt after turning the last page was a deep joy and thankfulness that I'd been part of Hannah Lapp's world. When the Soul Mends is an amazing end to a beautiful trilogy.
I loved the characters, how deep, real and poignant they were. Meeting with them while I sped through this story was like time spent with friends. I especially loved the ending. A wonderful send off for characters whose lives I've thought about and cared about for years now.
So whether you like Amish fiction or not, When the Soul Mends is a book worthy of a trip to the bookstore. It's a novel for women that provides a personal peek into healing and hope and the mending of a once-shattered life.
Please read on for more information about Cindy, the Sisters of the Quilt series, and a link to read the first chapter of When the Soul Mends.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cindy Woodsmall is a veteran homeschool mom. As her children progressed in age, her desire to write grew stronger. After working through reservations whether this desire was something she should pursue, she began her writing journey. Her husband was her staunchest supporter as she aimed for what seemed impossible.
Her first novel, When The Heart Cries, released in 2006 to much acclaim and became a Christian Book Association best seller. Cindy was a 2007 ECPA Christian Book Award finalist, along with Karen Kingsbury, Angela Hunt, and Charles Martin.
Her last book, When the Morning Comes, hit the New York Times best-sellers extended list and the Christian Book Association best-sellers list.
Cindy’s real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families enrich her novels with authenticity.
Cindy, her husband, their three sons and daughter-in-law reside in Georgia. Her husband is a registered land surveyor and a vice president at an engineering firm. Their oldest son has a bachelor’s degree in nuclear medicine and works at a local hospital. Their second son and his wife are both students at the University of Georgia. Their teen-aged son keeps the household energized with his love of music, books, and writing.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Returning to the home she fled in disgrace, will Hannah find healing for the wounds of the past?
After receiving a desperate and confusing call from her sister, Hannah Lapp reluctantly returns to the Old Order Amish community of her Pennsylvania childhood.
Having fled in disgrace more than two years earlier, she finally has settled into a satisfying role in the Englischer world. She also has found love and a new family with the wealthy Martin Palmer and the children she is helping him raise. But almost immediately after her arrival in Owl’s Perch, the disapproval of those who ostracized her, including her headstrong father, reopens old wounds.
As Hannah is thrown together with former fiancé Paul Waddell to work for her sister Sarah’s mental health, hidden truths surface about events during Hannah’s absence, and she faces an agonizing decision. Will she choose the Englischer world and the man who restored her hope, or will she heed the call to return to the Plain Life–and perhaps to her first love?
If you would like to read the first chapter of When The Soul Mends, go HERE
“A skillfully written story of forgiveness and redemption. Woodsmall’s authentic characters illustrate beautifully how wounded souls can indeed be mended.”
–Susan Meissner, author of The Shape of Mercy
“Like the stitches on a well-loved quilt, love and faith hold together Cindy Woodsmall's When the Soul Mends, the brilliantly written third story in the Sisters of the Quilt series. With deft plotting and characters that seem to jump off the page, this novel offers the timeless truth that forgiveness is the balm which heals all wounds and a blanket for the soul.”
–Kathleen Y’Barbo, author of Beloved Castaway
“What a vibrant, strong, emotional story! When the Heart Cries will grip you and not let go, I promise. Highly recommended!”
–Gayle Roper, author of Allah’s Fire and the Seaside Seasons series
“Reaching deep into the heart of the reader, Cindy Woodsmall pens a beautifully lyrical story in her debut novel When the Heart Cries.”
–Tamera Alexander, bestselling author of Rekindled
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Tamara’s stories and characters make me laugh, think and remember what life was like before I met Christ. Add to that the joy of romance and the passion of a life lived with God and I’ve walked away from these books a little lighter for laughing, a little deeper for pondering the pursuit of God, and a lot more thankful for the gift of great Christian fiction.
Below you’ll find some information about Tamara and her latest book, Faking Grace. Be sure to click on the link below and read the first chapter!
This week, the
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
After Tamara Leigh earned a Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Pathology, she and her husband decided to start a family, with plans for Tamara to continue in her career once she became a mother.
When the blessing of children proved elusive, Tamara became convicted to find a way to work out of her home in order to raise the children she and her husband longed to have. She turned to writing, at which she had only ever dreamed of being successful, and began attending church. Shortly thereafter, her agent called with news of Bantam Books’ offer of a four-book contract. That same day, Tamara’s pregnancy was confirmed. Within the next year, she gave up her speech pathology career, committed her life to Christ, her first child was born, and her first historical romance novel was released.
As Tamara continued to write for the secular market, publishing three more novels with HarperCollins and Dorchester, she infused her growing Christian beliefs into her writing. But it was not enough, and though her novels earned awards and were national bestsellers, she knew her stories were lacking. After struggling with the certainty that her writing was not honoring God as it should, she made the decision to write books that not only reveal Christianity to non-believers, but serve as an inspiration for those who have accepted Christ as their Savior. Her inspirational romances are peopled with characters in varying stages of Christian faith, from mature believers to new believers to non-believers on the threshold of awakening.
Tamara Leigh enjoys time with her family, volunteer work, faux painting, and reading. She lives near Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, David, and two sons, Skyler and Maxen.
Two of her latest books are Splitting Harriet and Perfecting Kate.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
All she wants is a job. All she needs is religion. How hard can it be?
Maizy Grace Stewart dreams of a career as an investigative journalist, but her last job ended in disaster when her compassion cost her employer a juicy headline. A part-time gig at a Nashville newspaper might be her big break.
A second job at Steeple Side Christian Resources could help pay the bills, but Steeple Side only hires committed Christians. Maizy is sure she can fake it with her Five-Step Program to Authentic Christian Faith–a plan of action that includes changing her first name to Grace, buying Jesus-themed accessories, and learning “Christian Speak.” If only Jack Prentiss, Steeple Side’s managing editor and two-day-stubbled, blue-jean-wearing British hottie wasn’t determined to prove her a fraud.
When Maizy’s boss at the newspaper decides that she should investigate–and expose–any skeletons in Steeple Side’s closet, she must decide whether to deliver the dirt and secure her career or lean on her newfound faith, change the direction of her life, and pray that her Steeple Side colleagues–and Jack–will show her grace.
If you would like to read the first chapter of Faking Grace, go HERE
“Tamara Leigh takes her experienced romance hand and delights readers with Chick-Lit that sparkles and characters who come alive.”
- Kristin Billerbeck, author of The Trophy Wives Club
“A delightful, charming book! Faking Grace has romance, truth, and a dollop of insanity, making Tamara Leigh a permanent addition to my list of favorite authors. Enjoy!”
- Ginger Garrett, author of In the Shadow of Lions and Beauty Secrets of the Bible
“Tamara Leigh does a fabulous job looking at the faults, the love, the hypocrisy, and the grace of Christians in a way that’s entertaining and fun. Maizy Grace is a crazy character I couldn’t help but like. I loved this book and highly recommend it!”
- Camy Tang, author of Sushi for One? and Only Uni
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
September also marks a writer's conference I've only missed once since its beginning. That would be the ACFW conference, this year in the beautiful state of Minnesota.
I was doubly blessed by getting to stay with a dear friend and visit with many other wonderful friends. I even broke out of my usual introvertedness and made a few new friends.
Over a hundred authors signed at the Mall of America... a truly massive place, filled with stores I never even noticed. Besides not being a huge shopper, I was more into getting to know the wonderful authors around me and meeting the folks who stopped by to say hello.
The picture to the right is of my beautiful friend, Kristian, and her two week old daughter. I've been praying for the family for months and to see this little miracle baby was such a joy. I got to meet Daddy George too and that was great. Makes me think about what heaven will be like when we get to see all the wonderful people we've prayed for over the years.
In addition to the friends and book signing, there were amazing classes and workshops as well as an awards ceremony where the highlight of the evening was cheering for my amazing and talented friend, Sharon Hinck. She won first place in the Speculative Fiction category. Way to go!!!
Also got a great picture with my agent, Chip MacGregor. Check out the kilt... my kids and family totally dig it. My brother-in-law also wears a kilt and competes in the Scottish games. Me? I'm the lone Irishwoman with a Scottish name. But maybe if my hubby ever dons the Wallace plaid, I'll be converted.
Another memory of this year's conference was being reminded that while it's awesome there were people who knew my name, have read my books and call me friend, God was there quietly cheering and whispering that He sees me, knows everything about me and loves me still. When my flesh fought not to envy or complain, God saw that too and put people in front of me to turn my focus back to Him.
I'm grateful for so much incredible teaching, God moments, and grace-filled memories.
Still tired. :-)
And forever challenged to keep seeking Him. He always answers in the perfect time and way.