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NOTE: Commentary is made as a private citizen and not as Regional Coordinator for Silent No More or Leader of Rachel's Hope, unless otherwise stated.

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Wise Words from "The Babe"


A Subtle Reminder

Through determination and hard work you accomplish a challenging task ~ exhale and pat yourself on the back. Is that wrong? Absolutely not. A period of relishing victory is well-deserved and good for the soul. I do it, but I also find myself staying there a little too long...where it's comfortable.

Achieving a goal is exciting and satisfying but it's no excuse to be idle. With each triumph we need to say, "This is just a stepping stone." 

Success should be celebrated today and used as encouragement and inspiration for tomorrow.




P.S.  Don't worry, I haven't strayed from my football fanaticism. Yes, the quote is from a beloved baseball superstar, but it was posted on Facebook by Seahawk's wide-receiver, Doug Baldwin. 




Thursday, October 30, 2014

MY GUEST TODAY IS MICHELE HUEY ~~~ DROP IN AND SAY HI!



A writer with a passion for teaching and speaking, Michele Huey writes an award-winning weekly newspaper column, God, Me, and a Cup of Tea, which placed second in the 2009 Pennsylvania Newspaper Association's Keystone Press Awards. Two compilations of these columns have been published as devotional books. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and national publications. Her daily radio program, God, Me, and a Cup of Tea, aired on stations in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Alabama for 10 years. She writes devotionals on assignment for Pathways to God and is a former newspaper feature writer, photographer, and editor. Her debut novel, The Heart Remembers, has enjoyed 5-star reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads. Her second novel, Before I Die, and her short story series, Fifth Wheel, are also published by Helping Hands Press. An inspiring speaker, Michele is a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association and serves as pulpit supply for a small, local congregation, which she calls her "little flock." A former teacher with more than 20 years of experience in the classroom, Michele was named to Who's Who Among America's Teachers (2004-2006). In addition to serving as a mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, she coaches writers through The Writing Academy, teaches at writing conferences, and was a member of the team that rewrote two CWG courses. She has a passion for reaching women with the Word of God and serves as the assistant director for the annual Punxsutawney Christian Women's Conference. In addition to her addiction to reading, she's an avid (sometimes rabid) Pirates fan and grandmother; loves baseball, Italian food, and hiking; and makes the best homemade pizza around. Michele and her husband, Dean, live in western Pennsylvania and have three grown children and five grandchildren.


What five words describe you? 

Passionate, fun, down-to-earth, generous, introverted, determined (From a friend: optimistic; kind; lover of the Lord; great storyteller)

What are you working on at the minute?

Getaway Mountain

What is it about? 

A reclusive romance novelist overcomes betrayal to find the love she writes about.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your 
most recent book?  

My most recent book is Before I Die about a 50-something woman who longs to fall in love again—to experience, just one more time, that head-over-heels feeling—the only problem is her husband. I think Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney (I liked them in One Fine Day. Or Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. Or  Sandra Bullock. Kevin Costner. I like their acting and believe they would portray the theme of the story and the comedy in it effectively.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? 

Christy by Catherine Marshall because I love her technique and because it’s about a teacher, a pioneer of sorts, who is learning about life, faith, and love.

What is the hardest thing about writing? 

Writing

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block? 

Write

Where would your dream location be for writing? 

A cabin in the mountains (Getaway Mountain <grin>)

When creating characters, are they based on people in your life? 

Not really, but people give me all kinds of ideas for the characters that come to life as I write.

Do you read your reviews? Yes  Do you respond to them, good or bad? No

Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad? 

Take it with a grain of salt. That is one person’s opinion, and that person might have a point. Think about it, think about how you can use this review to improve your writing, and move on.

If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be? 

A teacher (which I was for 20 years—teaching is my passion. When I write, I teach.)

What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your writing career? 

Learn the craft. Improve and refine your skills. Learn about the publishing world. 
Don’t wait until someday.

Where can we buy your books? 

Amazon, on my website (see below), and on the soon-to-be-put-up Helping Hands Press online store.

How can we keep up with you? Blog, Facebook, etc......

Weekly inspirational blog and award-winning column: http://godmetea.blogspot.com/
Facebook author page: http://tinyurl.com/m8yo4cl
Amazon author page: http://tinyurl.com/m4leglq
Goodreads author page: http://tinyurl.com/mub52j3
 Author & speaker website page: http://tinyurl.com/pgeecxh

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Accepting Grace



I am a big fan of Max Lucado's writing and this one is definitely thought-provoking.


It happened too fast. One minute Barabbas was in his cell on death row playing tic-tac-toe on the dirt walls, and the next he was outside squinting his eyes at the bright sun. "You're free to go." Barabbas scratches his beard. "What?"  "You're free. They took the Nazarene instead of you."

Barabbas has often been compared to humanity, and rightly so. In many ways he stands for us: a prisoner who was freed because someone he had never seen took his place. As far as we know, he took his sudden freedom for what it was, an undeserved gift. Someone tossed him a life preserver and he grabbed it, no questions asked. You couldn't imagine him pulling some of our stunts.


We take our free gift and try to earn it or diagnose it or pay for it instead of simply saying "thank you" and accepting it. Why do we do that? The only reason I can figure is pride. To accept grace means to accept its necessity, and most folks don't like to do that. To accept grace also means that one realizes his despair, and most people aren't too keen on doing that either.

Barabbas, though, knew better. Maybe he didn't understand mercy and surely he didn't deserve it, but he wasn't about to refuse it. We might do well to realize that our plight isn't too different than that of Barabbas's. We, too, are prisoners with no chance for appeal.

But why some prefer to stay in prison while the cell door has been unlocked is a mystery worth pondering.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

MY GUEST TODAY IS MARCIA LEE LAYCOCK ~ DROP IN AND SAY HI!

Marcia’s writing has won awards in Canada and the U.S.  Her devotionals are distributed to thousands and her novel, One Smooth Stone, won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award from Castle Quay Books and The Word Guild. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone has also garnered excellent reviews. Marcia’s work has often been short-listed in The Word Awards. Her most recent release is a The Ambassadors, a YA fantasy series just launched with Helping Hands Press. Marcia is also a sought-after speaker for women’s events. Visit her at www.marcialeelaycock.com






What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?

I am working on the third book in my fantasy series, The Ambassadors.  In this book, Eghan is in a dark place. He has been badly wounded, his father is dead, his kingdom ripped away from him. The prince's faith is hanging by a very thin thread, but God has a plan. I am also working on a play, based on an experience my father had when he was part of the liberation forces that freed the prisoners at Bergen Belsen at the end of WW2. The play will be produced at a local theatre in May. April 15, 2015 will be the 70th anniversary of the liberation of that camp.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

Alex Pettyfer (I am #4) would work for Eghan, Patrick Stewart for Ulhrik, Ellen Page (Inception) for Nara.

If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?

Les Miserables. It's my favourite book of all time because of it's amazing portrayal of grace/legalism, love/hate, hope/despair.
What is the hardest thing about writing? 

Just doing it.

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

Do something fun, something that will take your mind completely off the project you're working on.

 Where would your dream location be for writing?

 A quiet cabin in the woods - no cell phones, no electricity, wood heat. Oh yeah. :)

When creating characters, are they based on people in your life? 

Sometimes. The main character in my first novel, One Smooth Stone, is a composite of several people I knew in the Yukon who were trying to run from their past lives.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

Yes I usually read them and sometimes respond to thank the reader who took the time to write the review. I greatly appreciate any who do. How to deal with the bad - after ranting and raving for a few minutes read it again to see if there's any truth in it. If so, act accordingly. If not, hit delete and carry on.  

If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?

An artist or musician.  I so admire both.  

What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your writing career?

Show, don't tell, is one of the best skills to learn.  I wish I'd learned it sooner.  Also, remember god is doing something in you as you write.  Even if that piece is never published it has purpose.

Where can we buy your books?

If you live in Canada you can get them directly from me by emailing or going to my website: www.marcialeelaycock.com

Here are the links where you will find them online:

One Smooth Stone - http://amzn.to/1vyyBHO
A Tumbled Stone - http://amzn.to/XXnIA9
Spur of the Moment - http://amzn.to/VgcjcM
Abundant Rain - http://amzn.to/1r5zsgZ
The Ambassadors - Journey to a Strong Tower (Volume 1 of Book 1)  http://ow.ly/wTXe0
The Ambassadors PB - book one – Amazon.ca - http://amzn.to/1qNMZUr
The Ambassadors PB - book one – Amazong.com - http://amzn.to/1rEz618
The Ambassadors Book One PB on HHP site - http://bit.ly/ZRooID

 How can we keep up with you? Blog, Facebook, etc......

Website/personal blog - www.marcialeelaycock.com
Blog for reviews of Christian books - www.writer-lee.blogspot.ca
Twitter - @MarciaLaycock

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Food" for Thought



As a writer, life experiences sometimes inspire ideas for future projects, but I never expected a menial household chore to be one of them.

You see, I had an attack of domesticity the other day and decided to clean out my refrigerator.  I realized the contents could very easily be used to get rid of a spouse, backstabbing friend, noisy neighbor ... well, the possibilities are endless, and the passing would more than likely be determined an "accidental poisoning".

I'm embarrassed to say I had cottage cheese that expired three months ago, hidden behind a plastic container filled with something that morphed into a green slimy substance, hidden by all newly purchased grocery items.  In fact, there were several hidden plastic containers and some of the slime was even black. Did you know jelly can mold?  I didn't. I guess 2009 wasn't a good year for grapes. Of course, let's not forget salad dressing, horseradish, cans of whipped cream and a jar of maraschino cherries (I don't even remember using them - of course, they did expire in 2012).

Not only did this chore give me ideas for a future book, it reminded me to be more diligent in checking expiration dates and throw the old stuff out. It's bad enough to be faced with slime and mold, but the smell.....that alone could do someone in.

And ... here it comes ... it gave me food for thought:  Just like expired items in the fridge, unresolved anger or hurt will fester and eventually poison your soul if you don't throw it out through forgiveness.








Friday, October 24, 2014

My Guest Today is Tracy Krauss - Drop in and say hi!


Tracy Krauss is a best-selling and award winning author, playwright, artist and teacher. She is a member of 'American Christian Fiction Writers', 'The Word Guild', and is on the executive of 'Inscribe Christian Writers Fellowship' a Canada wide organization for writers of Christian faith. Originally from a small prairie town, Tracy received her Bachelor's Degree from the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Sask. with majors in Art, and minors in History and English. She teaches High School English, Drama and Art. Apart from her many personal creative pursuits, she also directs an amateur theatre group and leads worship at her local church. She and her husband, an ordained minister with thePAOC, have lived in many remote and unique places in Canada's north, including Churchill Manitoba - the 'polar bear capital of the world', the Yukon, and the NWT. They raised four children and were active advocates of the homeschooling movement for many years. They currently reside in beautiful Tumbler Ridge, BC, known for its waterfalls. 

What five words describe you?
Creative, energetic, tenacious (a nice word for stubborn), passionate, and outgoing.
What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?
I am working on Volume 9 of my NEIGHBORS Series. It is the last in the series and is called 'There Goes the Neighborhood'. It wraps up all the previous story lines and ends with one of the more quirky characters inviting his entire family for a visit. Hopefully this will translate into a second series.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
I think Bradley Cooper would make a great 'Lester Tibbett' in the series. He is a former rodeo cowboy who has to move to the city to find a job.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. It had (and still has) such impact and was a break through novel in regard to spiritual warfare. Also, its a great story.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Actually, the hardest thing is what happens after it's written.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Write through it. Take control of your muse, not the other way around. I often just skip a problematic scene and come back to it later.
Where would your dream location be for writing?
Anywhere as long as the lighting is good, I have a comfortable chair, and people don't bother me. Seriously, I'm not fussy because when I get in the zone my surroundings melt away anyway.
When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?
Not necessarily, although I have created characters that are a conglomerate or who are based on 'types' that I have come across in my many travels.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I try to keep up with reviews, but I rarely respond. If it is a positive review I may thank the person but I never, ever respond to a negative review. Negative reviews are just part of the business, and in fact, they add credibility to your overall profile. It means I'm not paying someone or only getting my friends to say nice things. Not everyone is going to 'love' me and I am fine with that. Even the most famous authors have negative reviews. I think you have to become thick skinned in this area. If it is a legitimate criticism, then learn from it. If not, just move on.
If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?
An artist. Wait a minute, I am an artist. I also teach drama, which is kind of my dream job already.
What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your
 writing career?
Take a risk sooner, as in submitting work. I was so afraid of rejection that it took me decades to finally submit anything. As it turns out, rejection has been the best teacher I ever had.
Where can we buy your books?
They are at Amazon, B & N, Chapters, etc... all the usual places. Or if you go to my website, I list several options. http://tracykrauss.com
How can we keep up with you?
My website has all the links for my FB page, blog, twitter, pinterest, linkedin etc. or people can sign up for my newsletter.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An Exercise in Serenity

I like to be in control and foolishly try to handle problems all by myself, and end up carrying them around like a stone necklace.  It's only when the necklace get too heavy that I humbly, albeit, reluctantly, take it to the Foot of the Cross. Although the weight is lifted and replaced with serenity, my ego gets in the way and I take it back ... Guess what?  The necklace is heavier the second time around. 



"Letting Go, and Letting God" is difficult for a control freak ...but using the following "Exercise in Serenity" has proven to be quite helpful:

MATERIALS

*A box with a slot, lock and key.
*A pen.
*A piece of paper

DIRECTIONS

*On the piece of paper, write down your problems.
*Fold the paper and drop it in the box.
*Throw away the key and
*Say this prayer:

Heavenly Father, with faith and trust I turn these problems over to you.  I believe You and only You hold the key to serenity.  Amen.







Monday, October 20, 2014

MY GUEST TODAY IS ALAN LESTER ~ DROP IN AND SAY HI!

No other explanation for the continuing life of Alan Lester exists, except the grace of God. Grateful for the privilege of a caring family, into which he was born in 1970, and with whom he lived in the small farming town of Ermelo in South Africa, and then in Kempton Park. Military service as an operational Medic followed high school, and then a few years as a paramedic in Johannesburg, the busiest ambulance station in the Southern Hemisphere. After making a profession of faith in Jesus Christ in 1981, Alan experienced a strong work of grace in his heart in 1998, sharply changing the entire direction of his life. Theological studies, focusing specifically on Biblical Counselling occupied the next ten years. He gave seven-and-a-half years to managing a rehabilitation centre for young men, interlaced with street preaching and evangelism. From this experience sprung his first title, Unending Hope for the Exhausted Addict. He has, by the kindness of God, served in several churches in different capacities, and now functions as a founding member, elder and pastor with Dr. Joshua Mack at Living Hope Church, Sunnyside Pretoria. Alan married Charleen in 1993, a 19-year marriage from which he is the father of two deeply loved daughters. His wife Charleen died suddenly in 2012, the subject of his second book, Hurting in Hope.


What five words describe you?
Laid-back, friendly, grateful, convictions, consistent.
What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?
I’m in the process of publishing Hurting in Hope, memoirs how a 19-year married romance came to an end through the sudden death of my wife, Charleen.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Kirk Cameron and Danielle Bisutti (from No Greater Love). Wouldn’t that be wonderful!
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why? 
It would have to be Pilgrim’s Progress. John Bunyan’s book has been a powerful source of blessing to me from since childhood, and I have even studied it extensively as an adult, teaching more than 70 hours on it. It was Pilgrim’s Progress that God used to bring my grandfather to salvation, from a life of drunkenness. As far as actually being the author is concerned, if God used me as powerfully as He has used John Bunyan and his Pilgrim’s Progress over the centuries, I too, would consider 12 years in prison a worthwhile hardship. What a remarkable book; the best selling English book next to the Bible, of all time. 
What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing for me is to find a stretch of time long enough to write uninterrupted in the world I am creating with my words. It takes time to get in, but a second to be pulled out. This is a constant challenge.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block? 
I have a couple of remedies that I use when I just can’t write: 
1. I get up and walk away from my work. Take a walk outside, spend some time with other people. Deliberately forget about what I am writing. Come back later.
2. I spend time in prayer, asking God to help me think clearly and understand the logic of my story so that it will grip me.
3. I write something completely different for a while. Even if I don’t intend to publish it.
4. What I have found most invigorating is the practise of opening my Bible to a chapter I am currently studying, get old-fashioned paper and pen, with computer off, and I look closely at the text and begin to write observations. I write everything I am thinking. I think of how the entire context fits together, how verses relate to each other. I think of the who, what, why, where, when, and how of the text. I think of the fallen condition focus of the text and spend time thinking through the redemptive focus. I continually ask questions of the text and write down my answers. In this way, the Word stirs my heart, thrilling it an exciting it. I can’t write quickly enough or contain the joy of how thrilling the Word of God is. This stretches my mind, engages my heart, and before I even realise what is happening, my mind is racing even faster than my pen, and I have forgotten that my mind was stuck in a sluggish mode from which I couldn’t write.
Where would your dream location be for writing? 
I absolutely love the ocean. If I could write in the ideal place, it would be on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast, South Africa, in a house overlooking the sea crashing on the rocks.
When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?
I seldom base characters on people I know. In my current work, because it is a true story, this does not apply, but in my fiction work, I like to imagine my characters and avoid writing them in as people I know. It destroys the sense that I am creating something truly original, mysterious and exciting.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Yes, I read my reviews. I am encouraged by the kind reviews, yet have a two-stage method of dealing with the negative ones. I read bad reviews and consider what elements of the review are true of my work and to what degree. I do question what would have motivated a person to write a bad review. After I have turned these things over in my head, I learn from them, try to thank the critic for his/her scathing review, and move on. The second thing I do is remember that reviews are highly subjective and personal, and that it really only amounts to a personal opinion. I am just grateful that the majority of reviews are kind and not caustic. I can take negative reviews quite casually, they don’t bother me much.
If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?
I love to write, but I also love my other major passion, pastoral work. So if I couldn’t be a writer, I would remain in the care of souls. I don’t believe there is a single greater calling or purpose for human life.
What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your writing career?
Read a greater variety of books, on a more regular basis. It doesn’t help to cram as much as you can in when it is desperately needed. I would stick to one of the rules I try to apply in these areas, “A little a lot, and not a lot a little.” A consistent diet of good and bad literature forms the mind to think from a mature literary mindset.
Where can we buy your work?
www.graceunlimited.co.za/Books/HurtinginHope.aspx
How can we keep up with you? Blog, Facebook, etc......
All my connections are listed in the website above.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

SLEEP TIGHT



The description of my blog includes the term, "ramblings of a sleep deprived author", which is true. I do ramble, and I am sleep deprived ... but that's, as they say, how I roll. Most of my sleep deprivation is due to my writing schedule.  It is quiet in the wee hours of the morning and minus interruptions (except for the snoring dogs).  It's the other sleepless times I want to address.

We all have those nights when we lay in bed staring at the ceiling, tossing and turning.  I don't know who came up with the "counting sheep" idea, but that's not a sleep-maker for me.  No matter how many times I try to count, my mind wanders all different directions, and I lose my place. Advice from family and friends is plentiful: Drink warm milk, take a sleeping pill, soak in the tub, turn on some soft music, sip hot tea ... the list goes on and on.



One day while listening to Christian radio, the topic of insomnia came up.  The guest offered his view on the subject, and it touched my heart. I promised myself the next time I fell victim to sleeplessness I would follow his advice, and you know what?  It worked.

I can't remember his exact words so I'll use my own with hopes of doing him justice:

When you find yourself unable to sleep, it's because someone is in immediate need of prayer. Slide out of bed, get on your knees, and pray the "Our Father", "Hail Mary" and "Glory Be", dedicating each one to a soul in need.  You will be amazed at the serenity that will follow, and when you crawl back into bed, your mind and heart will be at peace.





Friday, October 17, 2014

MY GUEST TODAY IS KAREN GASS - DROP IN AND SAY HI!


Karen Gass is the author of Morningshine, Morning Glory and the yet-to-be-named Book 3 in the Spring Street Quilter series. She lives in Idaho and has three grown up children and fourteen grandchildren. She is currently attending college online at Southern New Hampshire University, working towards her BA in Creative Writing specializing in Fiction. Besides writing, she loves to sew, knit, and hunt for treasure at thrift stores, yard sales and auctions.  





What five words describe you?

God-lover, creative, funny, passionate, over-achiever

What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?

I am working the third book in a series, the last book which will wrap up all the stories begun in the first, carried through the second and culminating in this book. The series, Spring Street Quilters started life as a short story to go in my website newsletter about ten years ago. It took on a life of it’s own and became a 3-book series. The first book, Morningshine, introduces you to a group of quilters, all with their own sets of problems, joys and some secrets. I see this book as portraying a tapestry that God is weaving together with these women, as prayers are answered across hundreds of miles. It is full of joy, true to life incidents, and some comic elements - along with some things that will bring tears to your eyes. 

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your 
most recent book?

I think of Carrie as the lead character in the series, Morningshine starts with her. She is an older woman, early fifties but young in heart. I’m going to pick Charlotte Jeffers, who plays Olivia’s (Andie MacDowell) mother on the TV show, Cedar Cove. 

If you could have been the original author of any book, what 
would it have been and why?

Gone With the Wind - hey, why not think big? I would love to be able to write something that grand, that big and enduring. 

What is the hardest thing about writing?

When the ideas suddenly dry up. I’m a big fan of writing down ideas, and keeping lists. Lists of potential topics, lists of words I like, memories, things that my grandchildren say, etc. Now, I’d like to say that these lists are neatly written and categorized in a notebook, but normally they are carried around in my head - which is not a safe place for a list. I have every intention of writing them down and organizing them. Truthfully, some of them are, I just have more to add. 

Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

For me, I just keep writing. It usually doesn’t have anything to do the current story, it may be even gibberish. Or the same sentence over and over. But this is my idea, which I’m sure is not scientific at all. My brain knows when I sit at the computer with Scrivener open and text on the screen, and fingers going like wildfire it’s time to write. I figure if I keep a consistency going, eventually the familiar actions will break through the block and the story will come to life again. I just have to remember to delete the gibberish.  If that doesn’t work, I walk away from it for a few days to give my mind a rest. I read a favorite book or make myself  a new dress, anything to ‘cleanse’ the mind from the block. 

Where would your dream location be for writing?

Oh definitely in the mountains. With a window in my office that looked out on evergreens, maybe a stream if I’m lucky. I need to be able to open the window for fresh air. 

When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?

Bits and pieces of my characters are based on people I know. Or things I observe other people doing. I’m a great people watcher. And listener. It’s amazing what you can hear standing line at the grocery store - just little bits of conversation that have no context to me. If it seems personal or touchy, I tune out, so as not to eavesdrop. I do that by praying for the people. But just as a regular practice I do watch and listen to people, and try to write those things down too. I’m not always successful. 

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Oh yes, I do read my reviews. I can unabashedly say I love to read my reviews, even if they are bad. Thankfully I haven’t had many bad ones, well, now that I think about it, there hasn’t been any bad ones. So happy about that. I do believe that God gives me the words to write, and sometimes it seems as if He takes over completely, my fingers simply typing on their own, I do give Him all the glory for any good reviews. I don’t mean my writing is inspired like the Bible, but I find the more I stay in touch with Him by prayer and reading His word, the better I seem to write. Again, glory goes to Him and not me. I’m simply a willing vessel. 
I do respond to any that ask questions, or seem to need a comment of some kind. I like to keep in touch with my readers, and interact with them. I’m not different from them in any way; just a woman living her life according to His will. 

If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?

I would be (and am) a dressmaker. I do have a few clients I sew for besides myself and granddaughters. I have studied couture sewing and always want to do everything as perfect as I can. I’ve been sewing since I was 9 yrs old. In my 30s I began a career as a quilt designer and published a quilt book with ten different quilt designs - and a fictional story to go along with it. Then I published a quilt magazine (Cotton Spice) for 3 years, and now I’m the Editor at The Quilt Pattern Magazine.  

What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your writing career?

I would made myself study the art of writing earlier. I was raising  three children and managing a household, so I didn’t have a lot of time for writing. But I did have three hours in the afternoon to watch soap operas; that time certainly could have been put to better use. I would tell my younger self to use the time I have more wisely, because once that time is passed - it’s passed. There is no getting more time, there is only this moment. Use it well. 

Where can we buy your books?

Morningshine (Book 1) Kindle book http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CGBMTCS/ 
                               Paperback book http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615809316/

Morning Glory (Book 2) Kindle book http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HADMVMA/
                                Paperback http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615938078/

Sweetland Chapter 6 http://www.amazon.com/Summer-Sweetland-6-Not-Forgotten-ebook/dp/B00M33UXQI/


How can we keep up with you? Blog, Facebook, etc......


Authors Blog: http://karengass.com

Thursday, October 16, 2014

LOOKED WHO DROPPED BY! AMBER SCHAMEL!

I am so pleased to introduce my friend and fellow-author Amber Schamel! Amber writes riveting best-selling stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest". A homeschool graduate from a family of 12 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at age 21, she has continued to hone her craft. Between ministry, family and working in their family businesses, Amber loves to connect with readers. Find her on the Stitches Thru Time blog, or on any of the major social media sites.


Can you tell us about your new release, The Messiah's Sign?


The Messiah's Sign is the second book in the Days of Messiah series. It follows the storyline of Book One, but from the husband's point of view. Here's what it's about: Dreams…they shouldn’t bother him, but when Tyrus’ worst nightmare is vindicated, he has no choice but to face reality. His wife has been unfaithful, and God has punished her with the most feared disease in the land: leprosy. Banishing her to the leper colony, Tyrus struggles to raise their son alone and protect him from a merciless outlaw. But when Malon begins following the teacher from Nazareth, what remains of their business and reputation is at stake. Can Tyrus save his son from the beguiling lies of a false Messiah before he loses the only thing he has left?


The book releases on October 16th, so be sure to add it to your To-Read list on Goodreads!

What sparked this story?

Book one started as a short story, but a lot of people told me I should expand it. I picked up the story and began thinking about what the entire story would be like, and that's when the Lord drew back the curtain to show me not only Aaliyah's story at the leper colony, but also the story of her husband and son. Tyrus—as the heartless husband that banishes Aaliyah to the leper colony—is the villain of book one, so I wanted to show readers his side of the story.

What do you want readers to take away from The Messiah's Sign?

As hard as you try, you will never be sufficient on your own. It takes Christ working in you.  For those that have read volume one, I want them to realize that you cannot hate someone until you de-humanize them. The villain of book one becomes the hero of book two, and we see the motivations behind his 'heartless' acts. In truth, Tyrus was doing the best he could. If we can empathize with people in our lives, it will go a LONG way in keeping the roots of bitterness at bay.

What's your favorite genre in which to read?

The same one I write, Christian Historical. But I recently read a Christian cozy mystery that I enjoyed very much. It was The Jane Austen Encounter by Donna F. Crow. It's the first cozy mystery I've read. I might have found a new genre! Actually, I might have found two...cozy mysteries and Jane Austen based fiction. Lol.

You grew up in a large family, how has that effected your writing?

Obviously growing up in a big family, with a job and a ministry, puts limits on the time I have to spend writing. But honestly, growing up in a big family has benefited me in many, many ways. I have had lots of experience telling stories, I have TONS of story fodder, a lot more people to base characters on, lots of people to observe, emotions to learn from, and on and on. Growing up in a large family has also helped me with public speaking, because it's public speaking every time I ask "please pass the salt."

Do you have a favorite writer?

I really enjoy Susan J. Reinhardt, Max Lucado, Julie Klassen and Francine Rivers.

If you had to come up with a book title to describe your life, 
what would it be?

Wow, that is a great question! I'm going to start using that one too. ;)
It would either be "But for the Grace of God" or "The Only Thing That's Good in Me is Jesus."

What are you working on next?

I am finishing up a really fun series with three other historical authors on the signers of the Declaration of Independence. 

I'm also setting to work on a Christmas story set during the Civil War entitled The Christmas Pardon:  In the aftermath of the Civil War, a young lawyer battles with the U.S. Supreme court. In what seemed to be a Christmas miracle, he had secured a pardon for his friend from Lincoln himself. The army executed the boy anyway. On the fifteenth anniversary of his death, will the lawyer finally clear his friends name and bring justice to his memory?

I'm running a giveaway for a fan to pick the name of my two main characters! You can enter the giveaway here: http://www.amberschamel.com/contests.html

To get your copy of The Messiah's Sign, you can use the following links:


Amazon: AMAZON

Kobo: KOBO

Thanks for dropping by Amber! I'm looking forward to the release of The Messiah's Sign and I'm sure it will be a great success!

Note from Amber: Thank you for hosting me! It's been a pleasure. I'd like to invite each of you to join me in celebrating my new release on my Facebook Launch party tonight! We'll have trivia, giveaways, behind the scenes tidbits and TONS of fun. Join us tonight at 6pm mountain time! https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberSchamel