Sunday, October 26, 2014

Author interview: Katie Ganshert

I am delighted to introduce you to one of my favorite writers and friends, Katie Ganshert! 

My first introduction to this talented author was when I read her debut novel Wildflowers from Winter and subscribed to her website which resulted in receiving a welcome package from Katie in the mail. I don't remember everything that was in the package but I do remember thinking how sweet it was of an author to give a note and token of appreciation to their new readers! 

Katie and I connected on her social media, bonded over our similar backgrounds (we were both teachers who wanted to pursue writing full-time) and I've been a fan of Katie's beautifully written creative fiction ever since!

So without delay today, I'd like to start my introduction of Katie Ganshert to you through a mention of her first novella released this year, An October Bride. 



An October Bride book summary: 

What if the only way you could make your father’s last wish come true . . . was to marry the man of your dreams?

Emma Tate has just moved on from one fiancé, so when she announces a sudden engagement to her lifelong buddy Jake Sawyer, every busybody in Mayfair goes into high alert. Of course, no one but Jake and Emma know the real reason they’re getting married—so Emma’s dying father will have a chance to walk her down the aisle.
But while Jake and Emma move forward with their plan—and frantically plan an October wedding—it becomes clear that their agreement has a few complications . . . the biggest being their true feelings for each other.

With dubious friends, deliriously thrilled parents, and a town that won’t keep its nose out of their business, Emma and Jake will have a lot to contend with if they’re going to pull this off. The real question is: Who wants this wedding more, Emma’s dad . . . or Emma?

Curious to know more about the woman who wrote such a captivating novella? Read on for my author interview with Katie Ganshert (questions by Alexis in bold, answers by Katie not in bold)...

~*~

Alexis: Why did you write An October Bride? And how were your adorable main characters Jake and Emma born?

Katie: I was asked to participate in the Year of Weddings series with Zondervan. Every story needed to feature a bride. So I did some brainstorming, trying to think of something a little unique. I came up with the idea of a bucket list. What if a young woman found her dying father’s bucket list, and walking her down the aisle was on there? From there, Emma and Jake were born.

As a writer who or what inspires you?

All kinds of things. Music. Evening drives on back roads while listening to music. The Bible. Sermons at church. Great stories. People watching. Inspiration is everywhere.

Give my readers a glimpse of your personal life: What is your favorite color/food/music/movie/season? Are you married? Do you have kids? 


Yes, I’m married. My husband and I celebrated our ten year anniversary back in June. We have two children—Brogan, who is about to turn six, and Salima, who is two and a half. She’s not home with us yet though. We adopted her from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and are waiting for the day we get to bring her home. Fall is my favorite season and I have too many favorite foods, movies, and colors to name just one.

Describe your writing space. What makes it special?


It’s a small room in our house with a book shelf for all my books and a desk for my laptop and printer. There’s nothing too special about it, other than the fact that it’s the place I do my creating.

What is your favorite holiday? Why?


Christmas, because of what we’re celebrating. This amazing, all-powerful Creator who comes down to us as a tiny baby to be our rescue. It takes my breath away just thinking about it.

Do you have a holiday novel or novella in the works? If so, would you please give my readers a glimpse of the story?

My next novel, The Art of Losing Yourself, releases in April. I’m finishing up line edits on it. It’s about two hurting half-sisters who come together to breathe life back into a rundown motel. It’s inspired by the passage about the valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37.

Why do you write? What motivates you?

I write because it’s a gift God’s given me and I want to use it for His glory. I love creating characters and stories. I love words. And it helps me process. My readers motivate me. Getting a kind message from them about how my books encouraged or inspired them always motivates me to keep going.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

I usually push through it, mainly because I have to. Deadlines don’t care too much about writer’s block. So I go on a walk, or I brainstorm with a writer friend, and I keep putting words on the page, even when I don’t feel like it.

Who is your favorite author? Why?

I don’t think I could ever pick one! There are too many I enjoy! Francine Rivers, Becky Wade and Beth
 Vogt are just a few of the many I love.

What are your hopes and dreams for your writing career in the next 5 to 10 years?

Hmmm…I guess my hopes and dreams are that the Lord would continue giving me stories and an avenue to share them with readers. I hope that my readership continues to grow, too!

How does your faith in God influence your fictional stories?
My faith in God is everything, so every story I write is influenced by my faith. Some stories more overtly than others.

Why do you specialize in “writing faith and romance” as it says on your website?

For now, the stories I’ve written are all inspirational fiction, meaning faith plays an integral role in the story line. These are the stories God’s given me to write. My goal is to be faithful to Him, in whatever I do.

Can you see yourself in any of your characters from your books? Why or why not? Please share which character(s) you relate to the most.

I suppose there’s a bit of me in every character I write. I probably can relate the most to Robin Price, from Wishing on Willows and Marilyn, from A Broken Kind of Beautiful. Both women have experienced infertility (a journey my husband and I have traveled through) and the trials these women face draw them closer to the Lord. Some people get angry or bitter at God when they face difficulties. I’m a lot like Robin and Marilyn in that I don’t get angry at Him. I just lean into Him further. I’ve seen too much of His faithfulness to question it, and I know our circumstances do not dictate His goodness.

Your agent is Rachelle Gardner who many writers consider their “dream agent”. Tell us how you managed to get her as your own agent and share advice for writers who do not yet have an agent.

I went to a writing conference and had an appointment with her. I came with a polished manuscript and had practiced my pitch. It also helped that one of her clients put in a good word for me. After our appointment, she asked me to send her the full manuscript. I did, and two months later she called to offer representation.

My biggest advice is to learn as much as you can about the craft of writing, and once you have a good, solid story that has received really positive feedback from objective beta readers (people other than family and friends), save the money to go to a writers conference where you can meet with agents face-to-face. Querying can work, but it’s a very very very hard route to take.

Who is your book publisher? How has your experience been with them so far?

Waterbrook Multnomah, a Christian imprint of Random House. They’ve been absolutely wonderful.

What would you say is the most challenging and most rewarding part of the writing/publishing process?

The most challenging is writing even when life is stressful and the inspiration isn’t there. The most rewarding is hearing from readers!

Is your life today what you hoped it would be when you first knew you wanted to be a writer for a career? Please explain.

In some ways, yes. In some ways, no. Being a published author, while amazing, is so much hard work. There’s no getting around it. And just because you’re published doesn’t mean the insecurity goes away. In fact, I’d say a whole new set of insecurities crops up.

Complete this sentence: As a writer, I always ____________________ because __________________.

As a writer, I always back up my work, because technology can be a fickle thing. ;-)

Alexis: Thanks for the interview Katie! Is there a question you’d like my readers to answer for you? If so, please write it here.

Katie: What makes you pick up a book?


~*~
Exciting news: Katie has agreed to giveaway a FREE copy of one of her books to one person who answers her question above ("What makes you pick up a book?") and wins the random drawing done by me (Alexis)! The book giveaway contest starts today (Sunday, Oct. 26) and will end on Sunday, Nov. 9.  The best part about this contest is that the winner gets to choose which of Katie's novels they want to read! Here's the official list of Katie's books,  http://katieganshert.com/books/

Alexis will announce the winner on Monday, Nov. 10. Every person who comments on this author interview blog post needs to include their e-mail address at the end of their comment so that if they win, they can be contacted with the exciting news and give the information necessary for Katie's publisher to send their free book in the mail. Please note the only book not included in this giveaway is Katie's novella, An October Bride.

~*~
Author Bio: 

Christy Award finalist and Carol Award winner, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her husband, their young son, and their goofy black lab, Bubba. When she’s not busy writing or playing or reading or snuggling, she is obsessing over the paperwork and the waiting that comes with adoption. You can learn more about Katie and her books by visiting her website or author Facebook page.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Author interview: Cynthia T. Toney

Today, I would like to introduce you to Cynthia T. Toney, an author who has a passion for writing young adult fiction! Cynthia is here to give you a glimpse into her life as a writer and to tell you about her award-winning book Bird Face

 
Here's a description from Cynthia about her book Bird Face: 

Anonymous sticky-notes, a scheming bully, and a ruined summer send fourteen-year-old Wendy down a trail of secrets and self-discovery. 

At the end of eighth grade, Wendy Robichaud doesn't care one bit about being popular like her good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks—until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even her best friend, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the Spring Program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer, will Jennifer still be around to support her as high school starts in the fall?
Using humor and offering hope, this story for ages 11 to 14 delicately addresses issues of bullying, eating disorders, imperfect families, and teen suicide.

Ready to learn more about Cynthia and her book? 
Read on for the author interview (questions by Alexis in bold font, answers by Cynthia not in bold): 

~*~
Alexis: Your book Bird Face won the Bronze Award for Pre-teen Fiction Mature Issues. Congratulations! Why did you write Bird Face, what is it about and how do you feel about winning the award?

Cynthia: Thank you, Alexis. The Moonbeam Children’s Book Award validates my purpose in writing the story. I wanted to show kids who are shy or feel like outcasts or who are growing up in difficult situations that they have the power within themselves to become the person they want to be. When you’re young and at the mercy of others around you who are unkind, it’s hard to believe that life won’t always be like it is right now. I hope the story of Bird Face encourages them not to give up on themselves.

What does your book title Bird Face mean?

Bird Face is actually the common name for an abnormality of the face. The bully character in the story calls the main character that name, and because she is already self-conscious and has trouble making friends, she is crushed when she learns what it means.

According to your blog post about the book Rivet Your Readers, “deep POV puts the reader inside the POV character’s head, allowing the reader to experience what the character experiences at the moment he or she does”. Why do you recommend Rivet Your Readers as the best book to help authors create deep point of view (POV)?


It isn’t the only book that helps in understanding deep POV, but it is a small and handy reference. There are larger volumes that contain chapters on POV, and I use them too. But if improving POV is your focus, I recommend the inexpensive Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View. If you’re just getting started writing fiction, it will help you select the POV and tense to tell your story in.

How have you as a published author, created deep POV in your story? Please share a snapshot of your insight, method and writing techniques.

Bird Face is written in first person, past tense, in the single POV of Wendy, a half-Cajun girl. I never change the POV to that of any other character, therefore the reader can’t know anything except through Wendy’s eyes. I put myself in her shoes and constantly asked myself what she would do, think, or say in reaction to any given motivation. As much as possible, everything she experiences is written as though it were coming from inside me. For example, I didn’t write, I thought I should go. I wrote, I should go.

Who is your publisher? Do you have an agent? How did you get published?

My publisher is SharksFinn Books, an imprint of Port Yonder Press. I learned of Port Yonder Press from a critique partner I acquired after joining American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). I can’t stress enough the benefits of belonging to ACFW. Make the small investment that first year, and the renewal is less after that. Writers can connect with critique groups and receive online courses, among other perks. Members learn about publishers and agents through ACFW, although I don’t currently have an agent.

What is your target audience? Do you only write young adult fiction? Why or why not?

Technically, my target audience for Bird Face is girls from ages 11 to 14, but women have responded well to the story. They say they relate it to their middle school or junior-high years and wish they had read a story like it back then. Men like reading it in order to relate to their daughters and discuss it with them. For now at least, I write only YA fiction. It’s what I most enjoy reading.

Describe your passion for writing. When did you start? Why did you start and where do you want your writing to go in the next 10 to 15 years?


My writing started with trying a number of different types of writing. Greeting cards (couldn’t sell any of that). Catalog and direct-response mail (as part of a marketing job). A decorating newsletter (my own). Articles for online publications (paid and unpaid). Then I had the crazy idea to write a book! I had a lot of interruptions, so it took a decade. But now, writing novels for teens is all I want to do. I have a YA historical being looked at by a publisher, and I’m working on a sequel to Bird Face, so I hope to have another book published in the near future.

Would you say your faith plays a role in your writing? If yes, then please explain how.

Definitely. I asked for guidance in telling the story of Bird Face and help in getting it into the hands of girls who needed to read it. When searching for an agent or publisher, I prayed every day for one who would recognize the book’s value. And the praying never stops, because I need all the help I can get in marketing it.

Are you able to make a decent living as an author or do you have another job?

Because my husband retired and we live very simply, I was able to quit working a day job and concentrate on a writing career. We’ll see if it eventually earns a decent living!

If you were not a writer, what would you like to be?

A veterinarian. I love animals, especially dogs. I help rescue them from animal shelters before they are euthanized.

Describe your writing space.

I use whatever spare room we have, preferably a small bedroom.

What inspires you as an author?

Little everyday things that inspire a character, piece of dialogue, or a subplot. I think readers like to see bits of themselves and their lives in a story that also offers them something new.

Who are your favorite authors?

Wendelin Van Draanen, Betsy Byars, and Judy Blume, all authors of contemporary novels for teens.

What Christian fiction books are on your must-read list and what books from the Christian fiction genre do you recommend? Please name a few and provide a sentence or two as to why my readers should go buy these books.

Two interesting novels I’ve recently read are Crooked Lines and Moonfall: Tales from the Levant. In Crooked Lines, a girl in the U.S. and a boy in India grow up and start very different lives, but their paths eventually cross. Moonfall is a fictional account of the fall of Jericho that provides a glimpse into what life must have been like for the people of that time, told from the POV of a teenage girl.

Why should my readers buy and read your book?

The story of Bird Face is unpredictable. It holds something new for each reader, I believe.

What is your favorite beverage? My own iced coffee.

What is your favorite color and why? Blue, because it makes me feel cooler.

Who is your favorite music artist or choir? Italian singers Ornella Vanoni (female) and Andrea Bocelli (male)

If you could live one place in the world for at least one year, where would you live and why?

Italy--because of the natural beauty, the art and architecture, the music, and the food!

Complete this sentence: As a writer, I ________________ because ___________________________________.

As a writer, I love to revise (call me crazy) because I love improving or adding details that make a story come to life.

Thank you for the interview, Cynthia!

~*~
Author bio: 
Cynthia enjoys writing both historical and contemporary teen fiction with a touch of mystery and romance. She holds a BA in art education with a minor in history, and her career began as an advertising designer and marketing copywriter for newspapers and other publishers. She has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and encourages people to adopt and save the life of a shelter dog or cat. She also enjoys cooking Cajun and Italian and studying the complex history of the Southern U.S., where she resides with her husband and several dogs.

Contact Cynthia T. Toney: 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thankful Thursday: When God Speaks



Thankful Thursday: When God Speaks

Today I place the music video before the written message because I want to show how amazing God is and I believe that song "God Speaking" by Mandisa says it all! I could end my post here but I won't because I have a testimony to share.

Here's the story: I've been in a season of waiting on God for about three years now. I thought my career was taking off when I moved to Montana to take my first big break in Journalism as an Editor and Reporter for a county newspaper. But that did not work out and after a few months of being there, I took a one-way flight home just in time for Christmas Day. The classic song, "I'll Be Home for Christmas" has a brand new, special meaning for me now. I loved the people in Montana--they were so nice and sweet--but I did miss home and am so grateful to be back!

Since returning from my brief stint as a "real" (full-time, salaried) journalist, I've returned to work as a freelance writer for a newspaper and I love it. My heart's passion is the arts and as a freelance writer, my work schedule is flexible so I do have time to work on the creative side of my writing which includes marketing my first book (Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories) which was released in Sept. 2013 and also working on my next book project. I'm in a good place creative-wise but not financially as I'm not fully out of the "starving artist" phase of my career.

So today, I felt discouraged and inside my mind I was sinking fast. I felt discouraged because as I said, it's been three years since my last steady job complete with salary and benefits and while I don't envy the people who have to work from 9 to 5 or later, I do miss having stability in my career knowing that no matter what, as long as I am employed by this organization, I will receive a paycheck of an sufficient amount every two weeks. Now while I miss that stability, I do not miss not being at peace and feeling trapped if not suffocated because to me, writing is like breathing and during those years when I tried to fit the 9 to 5 steady job mold, I felt like I could not breathe.

I love the freedom of being a freelance writer but have been praying to God to bless me with more high-paying clients so that my finances will not be an issue. I do have my moments--earlier today as I was driving I told God that I need a steady, reliable job that pays me my worth. But in this season of waiting, I've been experiencing silence from God and I often express my concern to trusted people that God isn't speaking to me. "He's being SILENT," has been my classic, most repeated line for the past three years.

Now here's the part that leads into the song I just shared with you: Just today, like a literal hour ago, when checking my e-mail, I read a message from one of the people who regularly critiques my creative stories. She was impressed by my most recent story submission and felt the need to write a letter to me at the end of her critique notes she made on the word processor document. This critique partner who we'll refer to as R, told me that she thinks I'm a natural writer, an artist and that God's given me this talent for a reason. At the end of her letter, she told me to not give up, to keep writing because God has big plans for me. R's words helped me so much because it lifted me up out of the discouragement I was facing earlier today--she threw a metaphorical lifesaver over me just in time to keep me from drowning in the sea of negativity I was sinking into--and I knew after sharing R's encouraging words with a true friend, that God was speaking.

"I don't EVER want to hear you SAY that GOD is NOT speaking to you after this, Alexis," the friend told me after I read the e-mail from R.

Here's what I've learned from this experience: When God speaks, you need to listen. When God speaks, you may be caught by surprise but delighted. When God speaks, you have peace.

So this Thursday, I am so thankful for God speaking to me through R and encouraging me on my journey/pursuit of a career as a creative professional. I want to encourage you in your life journey too. Know that wherever you are headed, God is already there. The Bible says He knows "the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:10) and He is waiting for you to trust Him. 

So if you're in a season of waiting like I am experiencing, I want to encourage you to continue trusting in God. Keep the faith. The wait is worth it!

Love,

Alexis

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Author interview: Jerusha Agen

Today I am especially delighted to share a new author interview of a real, professional screenwriter and novelist named Jerusha Agen!

An aspiration of mine is to be a screenwriter so to interview someone who has done that was special to me. I hope you will be encouraged and inspired by Jerusha’s story!

Now here’s what’s in it for you: Jerusha would like to give one signed paperback copy of This Dance and an e-book of A Ruby Christmas to the winners of her book giveaway contest! Please note: if you want to enter this contest, simply reply to Jerusha's question at the end of this author interview. You can reply in the comment section. When you reply, please include your e-mail address so if you win the book giveaway, I can contact you to share the good news and make arrangements for you to receive your FREE gift from Jerusha! 


The two winners will be selected in a random drawing done by me (Alexis) on Sunday, Oct. 26. So you have two weeks from today to enter this book giveaway contest. I will announce winners under the comment section of this post and will notify the winners by e-mail.

So without further ado, here’s Jerusha’s interview with questions by me (Alexis) in bold font and Jerusha's answers in in plain font.

~*~

Alexis: When did you start writing contemporary fiction and why is it your genre of choice?

Jerusha: Since I started writing as a young child, through my teens, and now as an adult, I’ve written nothing but contemporary fiction thus far. Writing historical fiction has never appealed to me, since I’m a coward when it comes to research. 

I can already get overwhelmed with the surprising amount of research required for a contemporary novel, so for me, tackling the amount of research required for writing historical novels would feel a bit like climbing Mount Everest with just a pick axe.

You’ve said on your official website, “Words are powerful. When words are used to tell stories, they’re unstoppable.” What do you mean? Share an example.


The best examples I know of are found in Scripture. When Jesus Christ wanted to get a point across that His followers would ponder and remember after His departure, He used stories we call parables. He created us, humans, in His own image and instilled in us a tremendous love of story. Stories move us like nothing else, inspire like nothing else, and teach us, for good or bad, like nothing else.

The best evidence of the power of words? Our Lord chose words as the mode of communication with humanity. He could have communicated with us through movies, music, or some other medium, but He instead used the written word for His letter to us—the Bible.

And to top it all off, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is also called “the Word.” Enough said.

Your book This Dance and holiday novella A Ruby Christmas looks especially fun and interesting. What can you tell my readers about those two books?

This Dance, Book One in the Sisters Redeemed Series, means a lot to me personally, since it was both my first novel to be published and the first novel I ever wrote. The work took many years to get finished, and I often despaired that anyone would ever read it.

I’m so thankful that God allowed it to be published so that others can enjoy this story about a former tango dancer who emotionally isolates herself because of a tragic loss. I hope that the tale of how God breaks through her defenses with a handsome lawyer and new difficulties will touch many readers. As the first book in the Sisters Redeemed Series, This Dance also spawned more special stories than I expected all those years ago when I began writing my first novel.

A Ruby Christmas was an entirely new experience for me, since it’s a novella written by a total of nine authors. Each author wrote a chapter in this story that follows Ruby Joy Buckner as she travels the world collecting special Nativity pieces and finds love along the way. There were unique challenges to writing a character and one small part of a story that a different author had created. God worked in this project to bring about a miracle of actually having the story be both cohesive and fun!

Every creative writer has a muse. What’s yours?

I get inspired with new ideas for stories whenever I travel and meet new people. As a homebody introvert, however, those aren’t my favorite things to do, so I prefer my other source of creative inspiration—good movies with powerful stories.

When did you start writing movie reviews? Why did you start? What do you hope to accomplish through your blog “Redeemer Reviews”?

I started writing movie reviews about three years ago when my brother encouraged me to do so, since he noticed I always had very strong opinions about the movies I watched. My goal with Redeemer Reviews is to help fellow Christians wade through the vast movie choices available to them with the discernment that comes from a biblical world view.

I want to encourage Christians to be bold and counter-cultural in our thinking, especially when it comes to our media choices. We need to stand out from the rest of the world as different and not be ashamed of our differences when they stem from our godly perspective that leads us to pursue living godly lives.

As a result of writing for Redeemer Reviews, however, I think that God has actually taught me more than any of my readers. He has used my movie review efforts to give me a greater understanding of what it means to think and live as a true, bold, and unashamed Christian in a world in which that is increasingly unpopular.

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in the Midwest, a particularly beautiful and special part of the country if I do say so myself.

Where did you go to college and what degree did you graduate with? Did that degree help you in your career as a writer? Why or why not?

I graduated from St. Norbert College in Wisconsin with a B.A. in English (with a Creative Writing emphasis). The education that I received to attain that degree definitely helped me in my career as a writer, since I had the opportunity to do a great deal of writing and receive excellent instruction from my professors. Having foundational “nuts and bolts” knowledge of writing under my belt when I graduated was a tremendous asset to pursuing a writing career.

Do you only write novels or novellas (or both)? Explain why/why not.

In addition to participating in the serially published novella, A Ruby Christmas, I participated in another serial novella for Valentine’s Day this year, called A Dozen Apologies. The latter novella, written by twelve authors, is a fun romantic comedy that, when it was first published, allowed readers to vote for their favorite hero who would “get the girl” in the end! Since this novella was such a success, Write Integrity Press is releasing a sequel to A Dozen Apologies on Valentine’s Day 2015! Look for news about the release and another chance to vote for a happy ending at my website, www.SDGwords.com (news will be posted in late January).

On my own, however, I stay with writing novel-length pieces, since longer stories are what I most love to tell.

What would you say is the most challenging part of the book-writing process? Explain why.


I think the answer to this question is different for every author. For me, plotting is the most difficult because it requires intense mental concentration and a great deal of patience, which I am sorely lacking.

I’ve found that the plotting phase is where God tests me to see how much I trust His timing and actually believe that He is the one giving me ideas to write and the ability to write them.

What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of publishing a book?

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a novel. Then again, seeing my name on a book cover was always a dream of mine, as I know it is for many authors.

As I continue to publish and move beyond those first milestones, though, I’d have to say that getting positive feedback from readers who are touched by or just enjoyed my stories is very rewarding.

Who is your book publisher? Are they a traditional publisher or an imprint?

Currently, I’m published with Write Integrity Press. WIP is a small publisher that is fairly new to the industry, but has already become a launching point for many new Christian authors. Keep an eye on the WIP website at http://writeintegrity.blogspot.com/ for contests that offer unpublished authors the chance to become published!

I got my start through one of the WIP contests, and I’m forever grateful that Write Integrity took a chance on me and let me get my “foot in the door” of the publishing industry.

Do you have a literary agent? If yes, share their name/agency and tell us the story of how you landed your first writing contract.

I am blessed to be represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary. I was actually offered my first writing contract with Write Integrity Press thanks to one of the publisher’s contests that I entered, which took place before I had an agent.

You are a screenwriter! How did you land that gig? Do you have any movies in theaters yet?

Yes, I am a screenwriter! I truly love screenwriting better than any other writing genre. I was able to do some screenwriting professionally thanks to getting involved in the local independent film industry in my area.

What type of stories do you tell as a screenwriter? Name a few of your films and tell my readers where they can go to purchase and view your movies.


I’ve had the chance to write films that span from comedy to artistic drama, but I’m most proud of my own independent short film that I was able to write and direct. That film is called Ornament, and is a hard-hitting look at a little girl’s trauma at Christmastime when she’s caught in a world of domestic violence.

In the hope that this short film will impact many lives through individual and group showings, I’ve made Ornament available for free viewing on YouTube.

The motto on your website reads, “shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life (Phil. 2:15-16).” What does that saying and the Bible verse mean to you?

This verse is one of my favorites (of many!) because it resonates with me as a Christian and especially as a Christian writer. Like all Christians, I am to hold out the “word of life” to an unbelieving world. That “word of life” is Scripture and is also the Gospel of “the Word,” Jesus Christ.

For me as a writer, I actually get to write words of life in every story I put down on paper. And, as this remarkably poetic verse says, when we do “hold out the word of life,” we “shine like stars in the universe.” Just stop and really picture that for a moment. Stars are amazing, beautiful, and shine with a light so powerful that it can be seen for incredible distances and contribute light in dark skies to an entire world. WE get to do that. What an unbelievably beautiful promise and encouragement for us as followers of Christ!

Your website is called Soli Deo Gloria. Is that Greek (literally)? Explain why you chose that name.


“Soli Deo Gloria” is a Latin phrase that means “Glory to God Alone.” The phrase was made famous by Johann Sebastian Bach, who inscribed those words on all of his compositions to signify that his creative work was for God’s glory alone. Other great artists such as George Frederic Handel also employed the phrase in a similar manner.

I chose the name because, wherever my writing career takes me, I want the focus of my work to be on God and His glory. I am only able to tell stories and write as God enables me to do so, every step of the way. I am nothing without Him, and my stories would not exist without Him. I also wouldn’t write if not for His calling me to do so. I write for Him, for His glory alone.

Do you have a question for my readers? If yes, please write it now.


Do any of you have a Scripture verse that particularly resonates with you? Perhaps it’s your “life verse” or a “career verse”? Please share!

~*~
Author bio: 
Jerusha Agen is a lifelong lover of story—a passion that has led her to a B.A. in English and a highly varied career. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Jerusha is the author of the Sisters Redeemed Series, which includes the titles This Dance, This Shadow, and This Redeemer. Jerusha co-authored the e-books A Ruby Christmas and A Dozen Apologies from Write Integrity Press.

Jerusha is also a screenwriter, and several of her original scripts have been produced as films. In addition, Jerusha is a film critic with reviews featured at www.RedeemerReviews.com

Jerusha relishes snowy Midwest winters spent with her three large, furry dogs and two small, furry cats.

Where to find Jerusha online:

Website: www.SDGwords.com

Facebook: (Jerusha Agen - SDG Words) https://www.facebook.com/JerushaAgenSdgWords

Twitter: (@SDGwords) https://twitter.com/SDGwords

Look for Jerusha Agen on 
Goodreads

Buy Jerusha’s books online via  AmazonBarnesandNoble 
and BookDepository

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Author interview: Jennifer Slattery

Jennifer Slattery is a novelist who specializes in missional romance stories. New Hope Publishers recently released her debut novel Beyond I Do. Jennifer is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and is deeply immersed in the writer life. She has written many articles for Christian print media including Journey Magazine, Granola Bar Devotions, Bloom and Christian Fiction Online Magazine.

I was delighted to find out that in midst of her busy schedule, Jennifer had time to answer interview questions from me about her debut novel and life as a writer.

Read on for the interview (questions by Alexis in bold font, answers from Jennifer Slattery not in bold)...

Alexis: Why do you write women's fiction/contemporary romance? 

Jennifer: You know, I’ve never thought about it. I suppose it just comes naturally, though those genres are also what I enjoy reading. They say read what you write. That means write what you read, too, right? 

Describe the defining moment when you knew you needed to write a novel. 

I started writing novel-length fiction more for fun without really thinking of where God might take it. As time wore on, it became clear; writing was more than a hobby. It was a calling, and God wanted me to focus on it with seriousness, perseverance, and determination. So, I surrendered, and I haven’t looked back since. (Well, minus the occasional temper-tantrums I threw when I experienced rejection or set-backs).

You write “missional romance” novels. What does that term mean and what drew you into writing novels based on that concept? 

A missional romance is a story that has a strong romantic and outreach thread. So, for example, in my debut novel, my heroine feels called to serve in a local homeless shelter, though her fiancé, it appears, does not. This stems from my personal passion—outreach. I feel all believers have a ministry and a mission—a role in their local church and in expanding the kingdom. I also believe our roles are very unique to us. That God planned them long before we took our first breath. I love to encourage readers to discover and embrace their unique callings, and I hope my fiction stirs their desire to do just that.

Why did you choose to release your book through New Hope Publishers? Is it an imprint or traditional publisher? 

New Hope Publishers is a traditional publisher who is known for being gospel centered and mission driven. Connected with the Women’s Mission Union, they’re very involved in numerous evangelical and social justice issues around the globe, including abolition, helping to end generational poverty, and encouraging believers to live “on mission” in their homes, neighborhoods, and social spheres. The more I learned of their passion and focus, the more I realized they were a perfect fit for me and my stories.

What is your favorite part of the book publishing process and what is the most challenging aspect for you? 

Free writing! First drafts are by far my favorite, when I can lose myself in a fictional world without worrying too much about word count, dangling participles, or passive writing. My least favorite part is the final read-through stage because those normally come with a time crunch.

Why did you name your debut novel Beyond I Do?

My heroine in this novel is engaged to a man that appears to have the qualities necessary for a stable marriage. He’s successful, responsible, and intelligent. And yet, as her wedding draws near, an encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks a passion—one it seems her fiancé doesn’t share. She begins to prayerfully consider her marriage in light of her calling, one she’s just beginning to discover. In other words, she finds herself contemplating what life will look like after she says “I do”.

Give my readers a glimpse of the work that you put in behind-the-scenes to write and publish your book. Did you have a steady daily writing schedule? How much time did you spend writing this book? How did you feel when you finished the final chapter? 

I’m very blessed in that I can devote as much time as need, minus family commitments, to my writing, not having to work outside the home. My writing schedule changes day-to-day, though I try to devote my most creative hours to free-writing. That’s usually some time between 10:00 a.m and 3:00 p.m. This book took me about six months to write then maybe another six months to sift through my critique partners and make revisions. When I hit the end, both in my first draft and after final read-throughs, I celebrated with time off and a big ol’ tub of frozen yogurt.

What are your hopes for your debut novel? Do you want it to become a bestseller? 

Well, I wouldn’t be disappointed. (*grin*) I’ve prayed about this a lot, and too be honest, I really just want it to please God and to reveal His gentle, pursuing heart to a broken world.

Do you plan on writing more books? Why or why not? If you are working on a new book now, would you please give us a hint about the storyline? 

I’m actually working on big picture edits on my second novel at this moment, a book I believe will be released in January. It’s about a fifty-one year old realtor who’s displaced by a storm. Jacqueline Dunn has a strained relationship with her adult daughter. Using the storm as an opportunity to begin and again and reconnect with her daughter, she heads north to the small town of Willow Valley, where her daughter lives. While there, she encounters three children, also displaced by the storm, who are abandoned by their mother. And she meets a handsome widower who works for the local railroad. The two form a quick friendship. Maybe more. (*wink*)

Where do you get your inspiration for your creative fictional stories? Does your faith in God play a role? Please explain. 

Absolutely! I pray a lot before I write. Before and during every phase of the writing process, actually. And I can often see a direct correlation between my creativity and my spiritual health. If I skimp on spending time with God, it isn’t long before my creative juices dry up. But when I put Him first, taking regular time to connect with Him, it seems the ideas explode!

Are any of your characters in your debut novel anything like you? If yes, please explain why. 

I relate most to Ainsley Meadows, the heroine. She senses God calling her to two things: a singing career and serving in a local homeless ministry. But she’s hesitant because the call seems so illogical! Doesn’t everyone want to be a singer… or dancer… or writer? When they’re children, anyway. But then they grow up and pursue more “logical” careers. At least, I suspect those are the thoughts we all must face, when chasing a dream. Those were some of the things I wrestled with, when I first sensed God calling me to write.

What is the take home message of your debut novel? What do you want your readers to remember the most?

There’s two intertwined messages I hope my readers will glean from the story. One is based on my interpretation of Genesis 2:19 and the truth presented in Ephesians 2:10. In Genesis 2:19, God says, “Then the LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.’" (NLT). I believe we are much more effective in life and ministry when we have a partner, a helpmate who gets us and brings out the best in us, not so we can achieve the “American dream” but rather so we, together, can fulfill that which God created us to do.

This is where Ephesians 2:10 comes in. it says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (NLT). This verse tells me God has a very special role for each one of, a job for us, one planned long before we took our first breath and one we were created perfectly for. I believe our greatest joy and fulfillment is found when we discover and pursue that which God created us to.

I hope my novel will encourage readers to view their marriage (or future marriage) from an eternal perspective, selecting spouses that share their calling and passions, and I hope they will work together as a team, focusing on things of eternal value.

Where can my readers buy your debut novel?

Pretty much anywhere, I believe, though I’ve been directing people to Christianbook.com as they seem to have the best price for the print and e-versions. You can find it here, http://bit.ly/1C0bMwq

Complete this sentence: As a writer, I always ________________ because_______________________.

As a writer, I always seek to maintain a heart of surrender because in the end, what we do in obedience to Christ is all that matters.

Alexis: Thank you for the interview! Is there a question you’d like for my readers to answer? If so, please type it now.

Jennifer: I do! Have you discovered your calling yet? If so, what are you doing today to pursue it? If you haven’t, how do you feel about my thoughts regarding Ephesians 2:10? What might God want to do with your unique gifts, talents, and passions?

~*~
Author bio:

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. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is currently available in print and e-book format for under $10! You can find it here, http://amzn.to/1seONwq

Jennifer loves helping aspiring authors grow in their craft, and has editing slots open beginning in November. Find out more here, http://wordsthatkeep.wordpress.com/

Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud

Book details (
Summary of Jennifer's book Beyond I Do, released Sept. 2014): 

Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Marriage . . . it’s more than a happily ever after. Eternally more.

Ainsley Meadows, raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignite a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Read a free, 36-page excerpt here, http://issuu.com/newhopedigital/docs/beyond_i_do_sample?e=6362996/8842858

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Author interview: Elizabeth Maddrey

Today I am delighted to introduce you to Elizabeth Maddrey, an author whose stories not only reflect real-life but can inspire you to change your world for the better.

Elizabeth started writing as a child and loves to read! She resides in the nation's capital (Washington, D.C.) with her husband and two children. I want to thank Liz publicly for taking the time to answer my questions for this author interview featured on my blog today.

Now here's the exciting news: Elizabeth would like to give away two FREE copies of her book to two lucky winners. She has offered to sign the paperback copy of her book Hope Deferred and mail it to winner #1 and she has agreed to allow winner #2 to choose one of her e-books (Wisdom to Know, Courage to Change, Serenity to Accept, Joint Venture, Faith Departed, or Hope Deferred). The e-book will also be free of charge and sent via a Kindle copy. The winners will be selected in a drawing by me. 


Enter the book giveaway (to win your free book) by going to the comment section and answering Liz's question at the end of her interview. You have from today (Sept. 14) until Sept. 28 to leave a comment. Please include your e-mail address so if you're one of the winners, I can contact you in order for you to receive your free book from Elizabeth!

So without further ado, read my interview with Elizabeth below where you'll find questions asked by me (in bold font) and answers written by Elizabeth (not in bold). Enjoy!


~*~
Alexis: You’ve written a lot of books! How many have you published in total?

Elizabeth: All told, right now I have 5 full-length novels released and one novella. My 6th full-length novel is scheduled to release in December of this year.

Alexis: Did you self-publish or go the traditional route? If you went traditional, please share the story of how you got your agent and book deal. If you went indie, please explain how you moved from writing the book to publishing it and give my readers an idea of how much it cost to publish it.


Elizabeth: I kind of split the difference, honestly. I’m traditionally published, but with a small press. The major difference there is that my publisher will work with un-agented authors and so I’ve put the hunt for an agent on hold for the time being. I ended up choosing this route after about a year of agent hunting with rejection after rejection because they had concerns about the sale-ability of my stories.

Alexis: You write “Grace-Driven Fiction” as it says on your blog. Explain what that means for you as a writer and how you thought of that concept.

Elizabeth: This really ties into my desire to write about the struggles that plague the Christian life. I think sometimes we let ourselves fall into the trap of thinking that becoming a Christian means that we’re going to have smooth sailing from there on out – that we’ll be able to pray our way through any struggles and not really suffer. But real life isn’t like that. For me personally, I like to see that in the books I read – Christians who still mess up (sometimes even on purpose!) and need God’s grace day after day. So the idea of Grace-Driven Fiction came from that – my characters, especially my Christian characters, will always be people who still struggle with sin and all the ugliness that follows us around as we try to make our way and live for Christ in a fallen world.

Alexis: Tell my readers about your Remnants book series. What is the focus and message?

Elizabeth: The Remnants series (Faith Departed, Hope Deferred, and my December release Love Defined) is the story of twin sisters June and July (pronounced Julie) and their respective husbands as they try to start a family and instead of the easy process that we tend to expect, run face-first into infertility. The thirteen years my husband and I tried to start a family opened my eyes to how awful it is to be a Christian who’s infertile. More often than not, you get a pat on the back and a reminder that you need to surrender to God’s will. And while, sure, that’s a true sentiment, it’s not helpful when you’re at the bottom of the dark, angry pit infertility helps you dig. It’s my prayer that reading about June and July will help people who haven’t been through infertility understand just how deeply it can shake your faith and all your relationships, and for those who have experienced infertility, I hope it helps them understand that they’re not alone and it’s okay to struggle and wrestle with God when you’re hurting.

Alexis: Tell my readers about your Grant Us Grace novels. When and why did you start writing that line and how much time did you spend on it?

Elizabeth: The Grant Us Grace novels are all contemporary romances. Wisdom to Know is the story of Lydia and Kevin. Lydia is a pastor’s daughter who makes some bad choices (including an abortion) and has to fight her way back through the consequences of those choices to renewed faith in God. Kevin has been in love with Lydia since high school – but when he discovers her choices, he struggles to reconcile what he feels is God’s call for them to marry and his perceived betrayal.

Courage to Change is the story of Allison (a secondary character in Wisdom to Know) and Phil – two attorneys who are helping an unwed pregnant teen. Phil is still grappling with having been divorced by his wife after he found Jesus and Allison struggles with loving someone who isn’t the ideal she’d expected God to bring her.

Serenity to Accept is the story of Karin (a secondary character in Courage to Change) and Jason. Jason, an ER doctor, is struggling with guilt over his inability to save his father’s life while Karin wants nothing to do with God after the sexual abuse she suffered as a young girl. Though Jason knows better than to become romantically involved with a non-believer, he’s drawn to Karin.

My novella, Joint Venture, is sort of a prequel to the main series. It’s the story of Matt and Laura, who are a married couple already in Wisdom to Know. But I fell in love with them when I was writing about Lydia and Kevin and knew they needed a chance in the spotlight.

I wrote Wisdom to Know as a NaNoWriMo project in 2009. I worked on it for two years before finally getting it to a point where I hoped it was publishable. After contracting for it, I wrote Courage to Change, and Serenity to Accept in about six weeks each (for the first draft – then lots of editing.) I wanted the series to touch on issues that are often swept under the rug, like the fact that Christians do still choose to abort babies and that there is healing from abortion available through Christ, teen pregnancy and its prevalence even in the church, divorce, and dating non-believers – but I still wanted a good, clean romance to tie it all together.

Alexis: You say your books are about Christians who “aren’t perfect” and need God’s grace which I’d say pretty much sums up real-life for us all. Why did you decide these were concepts you needed to create in fictional stories?

Elizabeth: It mostly came out of the kind of book I like to read. I read a lot, and the books I love most are ones where I can identify with the characters and feel like, yep, that could be me. But I also like books that challenge me and leave me thinking. This isn’t to say I can’t enjoy a “simple and fun read” – but it’s not what I crave. Consequently, though, I read a lot of secular fiction because I just don’t see a ton of Christian fiction that speaks to the hurting in our pews. I wanted readers to know that they weren’t alone, and they weren’t failing because they didn’t have the perfect lives we see so often in fiction where a quick prayer suddenly makes everything clear and better. Living for Christ is hard and it’s messy and we don’t do it perfectly the first time, and I think the characters in our books should reflect that reality.

Alexis: Do you have a Bible verse that you would say is the theme of your life or most dear to your heart? If yes, please share and explain why.

Elizabeth: I’ve always loved Romans 8:38-39 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

It’s such a wonderful promise – God loves us, no matter what. Even when it doesn’t feel like He’s walking with you, He is. Even when you’re making bad choices and reaping the whirlwind they cause, He’s with you and He loves you.

Alexis: How does your faith in God as a Christian play into your characters and storylines?

Elizabeth: It oozes into almost every word. I want my characters and storylines to always represent what it means to live as a Christian in today’s world. It’s not always pretty or easy, but it’s always full of God’s love and grace. Without that in my own life, I would be nothing – so there’s no way to leave that out of my books.

Alexis: Do you write for a living or do you have another job with a salary and benefits? If yes, where do you work and how do you find time to write stories? What advice do you have for people who want to write full-time and make a living by their pen?

Elizabeth: Neither. I’m at home with my two amazing kids full-time. So in addition to homeschooling and writing, I spend my days driving Hot Wheels, setting up tea parties with Army men (it’s my compromise – both boys love their Army men, but I get tired of everything being a battle, so when I play, they have tea parties before they go shoot things), trying to dig out from under the incessant pile of laundry upstairs, and wondering why I bother mopping the kitchen floor. That said, regardless of how your days get occupied – my advice is really the same: If you want to write, write. You have to make time for the words to hit the screen. Maybe you give up your lunch break or your favorite TV show – if it’s important to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen.

Alexis: Give my readers a glimpse into your personal life. Where do you and your family reside? What’s your favorite part of being at home with your husband and children? Do you want your children to grow up to be a writer like you? Why or why not?

Elizabeth: We live in the Washington D.C. suburbs in one of the many sprawling bedroom communities that cluster around the Nation’s Capital, feeding a mass of cars into and out of the city each day. My favorite part of being home with the family is hanging out together either reading or playing Xbox or a board game together….Mostly I want my kids to grow up and do what God calls them to do. If it’s writing, then they should write. If it’s fixing cars, they should fix cars. If it’s program computers, then program computers. Whatever they end up doing, I hope that we will have raised them to work hard at it, give their all, and do it all to the glory of God. I can’t ask for more than that.

Alexis: Complete this sentence: As a writer, I always _______________ because _____________________.

Elizabeth: As a writer, I always cringe when I send off a book to my editor because I’m never convinced it’s as good as it should be.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview Liz! If there’s a question you’d like my readers to answer for you, please type it here.

Elizabeth asks the readers of God is Love blog, "Who’s your favorite hero from a classic novel?"

~*~
Author bio: 
Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey

Connect with Elizabeth via Social Media:

Twitter: @elizabethmaddre

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ElizabethMaddrey/posts

Monday, September 1, 2014

Guest post by Diane Samson on LOVE

Today's guest blogger is Diane Samson. She is a family-oriented woman with a passion for coffee and connection. Diane is skilled at connecting with people as she honestly, openly and very creatively shares her heart with the world through her website and blog. I believe in the power of a good story so today, I invited Diane to share one of her personal stories in devotional form. I hope you will enjoy reading it and will be encouraged by the message! 

~*~

Can I Love When I’ve Been Hurt?
A guest post by Diane Samson


Only in love.
In my post, Work Less in Relationships, I wrote about my tendency to seek fulfillment in relationships, instead of God. When I make those choices, God is wooing me and calling me unto Himself, not once letting me go. But the fear keeps me in the cycle of condemnation. My failure in relationships or my perception, leads me to feel like a failure and I’m not good enough.

As I mentioned I am reading a book The Cure For The Perfect Life: 12 Steps to Stop Trying Harder and Start Living Braver. In chapter 6, “Love,” Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory write…

“Love is at the heart of Braver Living.”

It’s only in love we can find redemption.

It’s only in love that we can find freedom.

It’s only in love that we can be free from fear. 
“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” (1 John 4:18 NLT)

When I am exhibiting signs of fear, I am not experiencing God’s love to the fullest. I am letting fear get in the way of God’s love for me.

When I experience fear in my relationships and in my inadequacies, my shortcomings keep getting in the way. I am holding back and not letting God give me all that He has to offer.

To turn on the light bulb, I need to move the switch. The power is enabled and I have full access to it. All I need to do is walk over to it, move my fingers and flip it on. But I can’t. My focus is on all the negative things that might happen if I walk over to the other side of the room. I’m not sure what I will encounter on the floor. On the walls. In the unknown.

But the light needs to go on. Otherwise I can’t see. I can’t take advantage of the light in the room provided for my well-being.

God’s love is for everyone.
God’s love is available for any of us. We often don’t take His love. Or we take bits and pieces of it. Instead of taking the light for ourselves, we take a part of it or the shadow of someone else’s light. We can take God’s love for ourselves. He has offered His love to us when He sent His son to die for us and has been offering it to us ever since.

I offer love to my child and package it on a silver platter. But she won’t take it. She is letting her fear of trusting me, past hurts and past baggage to get in the way. If she would put it behind her, she could receive my love, freely and fully.

God wants to give us His full, complete love. And His love is perfect! Without fail.

In my relationships, and any of us in the cycle of trying harder, and trying to be better, we can chose to fully experience God’s love.

We can love ourselves and love each other because of God’s Word. We are worth His love because He said so! You are worth His love because He says it in the Bible.

“For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will—to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us.” (Ephesians 1:4-8 NIV)

“In Him and through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.” (Ephesians 4:12 NIV))

Confidence in Christ…in His perfect love.
We can proclaim confidence in Christ because He told us we could. We can approach relationships in confidence and freedom. There is no need for us to sneak away in shame. Shame is what the devil gives us and wants us to cling to. We have the privilege and right to claim God’s love for us. For. Me.

Beloved, dear one, move forward boldly and with confidence. Give up your fears and the control they have over you. Choose freedom, not bondage. Live today. In freedom. In His love. In His perfect love.

When I have been hurt, I feel bad. I feel the pain. I admit my feelings to God. I admit my anger. I admit it’s hard for me to trust. I admit I want to stay exactly where I am. Pray to God. Yell to Him. Cry it out to Him. Give it all to Him.

I have. Many times. The hurt isn’t exactly gone. The injustice has been committed. I’m still hurt. But I’m free now to move on. I don’t have to carry the hurt, especially alone.

And then I’m free to love again. Freely. Without strings. God gives me the peace to move on. I can then risk again, step out, and love. If I’m still holding onto all those past hurts, I am unable to love, as Jesus would want me to.

“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:39 NIV)

Take His love and give it away.

Live a life of freedom today. Step out and choose to love today. Choose one act of living bravely today. Who can use your special touch of love today? Who can benefit from your love because Christ first loved you? Take it and give it away. Today. And then see what happens. Those past hurts don’t look so bad after all.

Yes, you can love if you’ve been hurt.

Make a comment to my posts for the next few weeks and I will add your name to a drawing to win The Cure for The Perfect Life. If you sign up for my newsletter and blog posts, I will add your name twice for every comment. In my September newsletter I will announce the end date. Make sure you sign up by August 31.

You can usually find me at my site, where I blog and share my journey at:
wings for your dreams

Visit my website: dianesamson.com

Connect on: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Google+

~*~
Author Bio: 
Diane is the mom of two adult children and two teenage boys, one in high school and a newly college student. She is often called Nana to three grandchildren. She also manages her busy household with a world traveler pilot husband. While you can find her blogging in North Idaho, she enjoys her work at Open Arms Pregnancy Center, leading women in the Word of God and playing Mah Jongg. Diane is getting ready to publish articles and is starting a new writing endeavor. Join her for a cup of coffee and you have a friend for life!