Friday, February 27, 2015

WITNESS TO HEALING


Starting tonight, I will be co-leading a Rachel’s Hope After-Abortion healing retreat with three incredible sisters in Christ.  We will welcome a small group of courageous women suffering from the devastating effects of abortion.

The retreat is held at a former convent house with each woman having her own bedroom and pampered with home cooked meals, lovingly prepared by a volunteer. The overnight retreat provides them an opportunity to focus on themselves without distraction and be among other post-abortive women that bear the same scars (including the leaders). Through music, sharing, exercises and prayer, they are guided towards healing, concluding with a touching dedication ceremony for their babies.


As I prepare for this journey, my heart is filled with joyful anticipation.  Broken women will walk into the house tonight and on Sunday, walk out freed from the chains of emotional and spiritual pain having experienced the healing touch of God’s love, forgiveness and mercy.
 
 
"Rachel is weeping for her children.  She refuses to be comforted for her children are no more.  Thus says the Lord:  Wipe the tears from your eyes.  The sorrow you have shown shall have its reward."
(Jeremiah 31:15-17)
 
 
 
RETREAT HOUSE
 

Monday, February 23, 2015

An Author Speaks: Jeanne Doyon shares her writing journey


Jeanne Doyon’s ministry of pausing to see God clearly encourages others to draw nearer to the Lover of their souls. She connects the Truths in Scripture to the ordinary events of life and shares her reflections on her blog at www.streams-edge.blogspot.com. She enjoys writing, photography, tea with friends, and creating with beads. She and her husband John live in Connecticut. 
 
Contact Jeanne at jeanne.doyon@gmail.com
and find out more about her speaking topics at www.jeannedoyon.blogspot.com.
 
 
I WANT TO WRITE A BOOK

Have you ever said that, and then wondered how to get your idea onto the printed page? That’s where I am, learning how to make progress on something the size of an elephant—one page at a time.

My book idea came from teaching a women’s workshop called, Don’t Let Fear Win! I have struggled with fear all my life—fear that affects how I live life. Can anyone relate? I think lots of women can; that’s why I need to write the book.

So this crazy idea pushed me to sign up to participate in NaNoWriMo. I have never written more than a 1500 word article, so 50,000 words in 30 days seemed monumental. I broke it down to 1666 words a day for thirty days. Talk about daunting! But, what did I have to lose? Even if I didn’t finish, I would have written more than my article length manuscripts. I needed a push and NaNoWriMo was just the shove I needed.

It was grueling at times but I did finish the 50,000 words. It felt good but at the same time I had no idea where to begin taming the monster I created.

Because I speak to women, I want women to be able to pick up something on my book table to take home that will give them more to pursue and also remind of them of the sessions we shared together.

So that’s where I am right now—topics, seminars, and a 50,000 mish-mash of words on fear. I “simply” need to know where to go with it all.  I struggle with what to include and what to leave out. So, I know I haven’t narrowed down my topic enough. I struggle with the format: Bible study, interactive journal, or narrative with chapter discussion questions? So, I know I need to decide on my audience. Do I self publish, submit to a traditional publisher, or make photocopied booklets on my printer? Such is the question that every writer and speaker faces when they see the plethora of choices available. I automatically think that a traditional publisher won’t be interested in me or my work. So, I begin thinking low rather than reaching for the top bar.

I need guidance from someone who has taken this path before. So, I did what any crazy writer would do, I submitted the first five pages to a contest for a chance to attend a writer’s conference on scholarship. In my zany thinking I wondered if anyone else will think my idea is print worthy—and winning a contest is the best fleece prayer I could pray.

In the meantime, I have taken chapters to my critique group. I have polished and have begun new chapters. And, most of all, I am praying for the Lord’s direction because I know He didn’t give me these words for just myself. He has a plan to use them to build up and equip the Body of Christ. His Holy Spirit is the ultimate ghost writer and is promised—to equip us with power.

My working title for the book is:
B.O.L.D. Living
Stepping Past Fear to Embrace God-Confidence
 
So, I’m trusting God with envisioning my book. He will show me how to bring it to completion. And, I know it will be more than I can imagine because it’s His idea in the first place.

Can anyone else resonate with me on this? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 
 

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Writing Dilemma





I’m nearing the end of Volume IV of Grave Obsessions, “Unholy Vengeance”.  Finally, a light at the end of the tunnel. 

Adan Fredricks continues his quest to exact revenge on Detective Dallas Keegan. Does he want her dead? Not yet.  His new game is too much fun … Watching her deal with carnage designed to mock what she is struggling to recapture:  Her faith

Will he succeed this time, or will his escalating rage lead to a game-ending mistake?  I don’t know.  I’m at the most excruciating point in the series.  Will there be a Volume V or a final stand-off?  James Patterson has twenty books featuring Alex Cross … Should I follow his lead with Dallas Keegan?  Decisions, decisions.

Guess I’ll have to have to leave it up to Dallas.  She is the boss, after all.
 
 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Confession

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, a time of penance, reconciliation, reflection, and fasting. To start the Lenten season, I decided to share a modified version of an article I wrote that was subsequently published on the Catholic 365 website.
 





 
I was told when an adult enters the water of baptism, past sins are washed away ... A time of renewal and celebration.  On Easter Vigil, 2006, I stood at the baptismal font in a brown gown and instead of joyful anticipation, I was scared to death. Being fifty-three years old with a colorful past, I envisioned the water boiling due to the amount of sin I carried.  Of course, the water remained cool.  

After the baptism, I went to the ladies' room to remove the soggy brown gown (I had been fully immersed) and don a white one before reentering the church to receive confirmation.  I was uncomfortable wearing white ... I didn’t feel cleansed.  Days later, I shared those feelings with my sponsor and she suggested I make an appointment with our priest to make a general confession.  Well, that was scarier yet! Once I was “found out”, I would surely be the quickest ex-communicant in Catholic history. 

I tried to delay the inevitable by telling myself, “God knows what I did wrong, I already apologized to Him and He knows I’m sorry.”  Then a little voice in my head would say, “Patti, if that were the case, why do you still feel unclean?”  It had taken several arguments with that little voice before I made the appointment.

Walking into Father’s office, I shook nervously and even before I sat down, the tears flew.  He handed me a box of tissues and smiled kindly.  I was sure that kind look would disappear once I started talking.  It didn’t.  He listened, patted my hand, and even smiled from time to time. After a while, something miraculous happened. The shame slowly dissipated and I stopped avoiding the “really bad stuff”.  I closed my eyes as I continued and sensed it wasn’t the priest holding my hand anymore, it was Jesus.

By the time my confession was over, I was emotionally drained and exhausted, but felt energized within.  The weight of shame and remorse was lifted, and for the first time in decades, I was at peace and knew I was finally worthy of receiving the Eucharist.  Until I actually verbalized my transgressions and asked for forgiveness, they darkened my soul.  They were a detour on a beautiful faith journey that distanced me from God and experiencing His love and mercy.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Welcome Roberta Brosius to "An Author Speaks"!

Roberta Tucker Brosius is a graduate of Northeastern Bible College, and an alumna of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, both of which prepared her to write Bible curricula and teach high school students at two Christian academies. Her publishing credits include Surviving Meemaw, local newspapers, two Barbour anthologies, The Secret Place, and The Door.  Formerly (and always) a Jersey girl, she now ponders life from Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna Valley, where she lives with her husband, three of her four sons, a few stray puppets, and a ukulele.

What five words describe you?

Messy, funny, newsaholic, insightful, outspoken.

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

I am finishing the rough draft of Surviving Jamaica, the sequel to Surviving Meemaw. Both books star Laney, a high school senior whose family circumstances forced her to move from Arkansas to Pennsylvania, where she lives with her grandmother, the director of a puppet ministry. In Surviving Jamaica, Laney and her high school class take the puppets to Jamaican schools and churches on a mission trip. She has a lot of fun with her boyfriend and friendboy—in spite of Meemaw being a chaperone—but also manages to cause herself and others some trouble.
 
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

Shailene Woodley, who starred in Divergent, could play Laney if she dyed her hair a bit darker. Any pretty teen or young adult actress with long dark hair can audition. Someone with comedy experience would have an edge.
 
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have
been and why?

I want to be the author of books that readers read and reread, whether as comfort food, inspiration, or why-ever. There are several books, or sets of books, that I reread. So I would love to have written Lord of the Rings or Jan Karon’s Mitford books. A lesser known author whom I reread is Kathy Tyers. I would love to have written her Firebird trilogy, because she artfully blends science fiction, romance, adventure, and theology.

What is the hardest thing about writing?

Discipline and distractions. When I finally manage to discipline myself to sit at the keyboard, the distractions take over.

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

I’ve had the best results when I’ve asked friends to pray for me to get some writing done.
 
Where would your dream location be for writing?

Any place that’s clean and comfortable, where someone else is making meals appear and taking care of the cleanup. I may be in the perfect location right now. My husband is working out of town and I came with him this week. I have the hotel room to myself during the day, and he takes me out to eat at night.

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

They definitely are in the Surviving Meemaw series. I have taught high school students at two Christian schools and they have inspired my characters. The characters are not copies of real people, but composites of several real people, or sometimes the real person is a starting point, and the fictional character takes over. There’s also a bit of me in all my female characters. They say and do what I would if I had the nerve.

 
 
 
 
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 haven’t had any bad reviews yet, but I’ll be ready with a box of Kleenex and an extra-large dark chocolate bar.
 
If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?

As I mentioned before, I’m a high school Bible teacher. I consider that my main calling, and writing is a close second.
 
What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in
your writing career?

I would tell her to carve out more time for writing. I would tell her to get a babysitter and haul her typewriter to the library or some other place where no one could find her.

Where can we buy your books?

Surviving Meemaw is available at Amazon.com and from Helping Hands Press. Surviving Jamaica will hopefully be published within a few months. The 365-Day Fun Bible Facts Book, published by Barbour, can be purchased at Amazon.com and Christianbook.com. I contributed twenty of the essays. Heavenly Humor for the Teacher’s Soul, also published by Barbour, is on the Amazon website. I contributed five of the seventy-five essays.

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

My blog is “wit, words, and the Word” at www.robertabrosius.blogspot.com. I’m on Facebook (too much) and have an author page there, which is just Roberta Brosius, Author. You can also find me on Pinterest and Twitter. All of these use my name.




Wednesday, February 11, 2015

"That's What it Feels Like" - In Memory of My Mom

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of my mom's journey to Heaven, but it seems like just yesterday we held her as she took her last breath.  I remember how the magnitude of her loss ripped my heart to shreds.  Through my faith, and support from family and friends, the pain subsided but there is, and always will be, a part of my heart missing. 

My mind drifted to the days following her passing, and I remembered something that brought light to the darkness of grief.  I had blogged about it and I think it's appropriate to share again, in memory of the beautiful, loving woman I proudly call "My Mom".
 
 
 
That's What it Feels Like
2/22/14

My dad and I are close to finishing the difficult process of going through my mother's things; the hardest being her clothes and purses.  Certain outfits brought back wonderful memories; however, taking them out of the closet brought back the stark realization she was gone.  On the lighter side, we had to painstakingly check each item.  Later stages of dementia resulted in her hiding jewelry and money in pockets, hems, etc...and the Kleenex! She always feared having a runny nose with no tissue available, so her purses and jacket pockets were stockpiled.  If we would have unfurled and stacked each tissue (I'm not kidding), I think we would have refilled three boxes.

Anyway ... mission accomplished. Closet empty, boxes filled, her blouses, slacks and jackets hanging on the clothes rod and on a portable clothes rack.  After loading the van we headed to a local homeless shelter that housed both men and women, as some of her jackets and sweatshirts could be used by either gender.  I located a volunteer and before he followed me to the van, he unlocked the closet where clothing donations were stored.  I looked in and chuckled.  I told him the closet wasn't big enough.  You see, my mom never discarded anything (remember, she had 700 beanie babies) and close to the end, she would order something that she never had a chance to wear. The volunteer must have thought I was exaggerating until I opened the van doors. He went back into the shelter calling out for some of the residents to help with the unloading.

Several men jumped at the opportunity. As I began unloading some of the smaller boxes a man approached me.  He was unkempt and toothless.  At first, I hate to admit, I felt the urge the turn around and run.  He took the box I was holding and put it on one of the food carts they were using for transport.  I thanked him and with an embarrassed look on his face, he said, "I wasn't always like this". While both of us continued to unload boxes, he proceeded to tell me of his many attempts to get clean and sober, each relapse causing him to lose more, until nothing was left. Proudly he exclaimed his most recent period of sobriety was the longest yet and he truly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit. I congratulated him and said I would pray for his continued success.  I told him I too struggled with addiction and shared a little of my story. As I was sharing, I realized how blessed I was. Although we shared the same affliction, the consequences he suffered were much more severe.  All I could think of was, "There but for the Grace of God go I."
  
The van was empty, job done. The shelter volunteer and residents offered thanks and wheeled the carts to the storage area.  I started towards the driver's side of the van.   The man I was chatting with came back out of the storage area and asked if he could give me a hug. It wasn't a little one ... it was an extended, long, bear hug.  He backed up and with a toothless smile said, "that's what the Holy Spirit feels like", and walked away. As I started the drive home I looked in the rear view mirror and saw nothing but a few stray hangers hanging from clothes rod. But instead of feeling empty and sad leaving so many reminders of my mother behind, I was enveloped in peace and comfort. Yes, my friend, that's what the Holy Spirit feels like.
 
 
The day she passed, I wrote this poem about her and my little angels.
 

 

 



 

Monday, February 9, 2015

WELCOME LESLEY SEARS TO "AN AUTHOR SPEAKS"!


Lesley is a former television reporter and journalist.  She lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her husband and a menagerie of animals.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
What five words describe you?
 
Tenacious, Peaceful (I know those two sound opposing but somehow they aren’t), Happy, Fulfilled, Busy

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

I spend a lot of time speaking and promoting my current book, The Foolish Sinners Guide to…Living in God’s Wisdom.

I am also working on two projects right now, well actually three if you count my ministry. 

One is a weekly book serial and podcast called ChurchiesChurchies is a Christian dramatic fiction series about a church in northern Ohio.  We follow the congregation as they work to live as Christians in a broken and fallen world. If you’ve ever experienced drama at a church before or struggled living your life as a Christian you will LOVE these characters and this series.  The first chapter will be available for free, to read on Wattpad and Kindle and to listen to on iTunes by the end of January 2015.  The website is nearly complete at www.churchies.org.  If someone is interested in subscribing and the site’s not up yet, just send me a message on www.foolishsinnersguide.com and I’ll make sure you get added to the Churchies subscription list.   

The second is the next release in the Foolish Sinners Guide series.  It’s The Foolish Sinners Guide to…God’s Animals and the Rapture.  As an animal lover, with many animals, I have always been troubled by what will happen to my animals after the rapture.  Will they be here by themselves?  What will happen to them?  I began to study relevant bible verses to get an answer.  I was shocked by what I found so I decided to make it the next book in the series.  Yes, there are actually many bible verses that deal with this seemingly obscure topic.  Who knew right!?!  This should be ready for release by the end of May 2015.

Finally, the materials and online support for Spirit Strong Ministry.  At Spirit Strong Ministry, we provide churches (free of charge) with the materials and support necessary to offer their congregations Workshops, Challenges, and Projects.  They help teach biblical principles in fun and exciting ways.

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

Interesting question since the lead character in my latest book is me.  Sooo, probably Emma Stone, as a blond.  I LOVE her personality!

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

What a great question.  That would have to be To Kill a Mockingbird.  Her writing is amazing.

 What is the hardest thing about writing?

The hardest thing about writing is just sitting down and doing it.  Oh, and learning to do it well!!

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

I am actually a former journalist and news reporter so I look at writer’s block differently than most authors.  It’s not an option.  When you’re in journalism you don’t have that option, the news will go on no matter what so you MUST write something. You just sit down and write, period! That way of thinking has helped me tremendously.  It’s also why I always have multiple projects going at any given time. 

 Where would your dream location be for writing?

I just have one dream location.  I would have no problem doing anything there.  Tropical.  Hot.  Sun.  Sand.  Water.  Ahhh, I feel better already!!!!!

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

I think all characters at their core are based in some way on the people you know or people you have met.  Then you have to take their personalities and amp them up and twist them this way and turn them the other way and eventually they become an interesting character.  It’s the characters that I eventually realize are based on my personality that truly freak me out.  It’s an interesting step toward self-realization!   

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?

Again journalism helps me here.  In TV journalism criticism was a daily thing.  So I have learned to deal with criticism by:

*Determining if there is any merit to what is being said considering the source.

*Knowing the difference between a personal attack and constructive criticism.

*Finally, knowing myself well enough to not get hurt or offended but take what I need from it and moving on.

*And finally, finally knowing when I am not in a state of mind where I can follow these steps.  If I can’t then I don’t read them.

As far as responding, in my search for Wisdom I have learned there is a time to interact with words.  However, when you are dealing with foolish people then no matter what you say they will continue to be foolish.  My guideline for this is, when I feel the person is sincerely loving in their desire to help me hone my craft then I will respond, whether good or bad.  If they are being foolish, I let them continue to be foolish on their own!

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

Writing is not optional to me.  I would write regardless of what else I was doing in my life, it just so happens to be what God has assigned to do.  It’s my purpose!!   

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

To live passionately and write often.  Which is basically what I have done.  The only difference would be that I would tell myself earlier about the true power of words and I would be more diligent about honing the craft of writing.

Where can we buy your books?

The Foolish Sinners Guide to…Living in God’s Wisdom is an e-book and can be purchased anywhere you buy e-books.  It’s basically available on any reader.

Churchies will be on Wattpad, Kindle, and as a podcast on iTunes

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

www.foolishsinnersguide.com  Everything is available through this site. 
 
Coming Soon:  www.churchies.org
 
 
 
 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

BRAIN GAMES AND A QUESTION




I have a bunch of stuff happening in the coming days, which means I need to be "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed".  In order to accomplish that great feat, hitting the sack at a normal time is in order.  "No problem," I said, but here I sit....wide awake at 3:03 a.m.  Instead of drifting off into dreamland I stared at the ceiling, trying to figure out who should be cast in the movie version of The San Francisco Wedding Planner.  No, it's not being made into a movie (but wouldn't that be nice), my brain just felt compelled to play games and thwart my goal of functioning at a conscious level.

I'm not familiar with all of the new actors in Hollywood which made my sleep-depriving obsession difficult.  Then I realized, it's my fantasy ... I'll do what I want.  Well, that being said, here is what I came up with ...

MEG RYAN AS HEATHER

 
 
SHIRLEY MACLAINE AS GLORIA


LISA KUDROW AS SKYE
MARTIN SHORT AS RAUL
MARK HARMON AS BRYAN


  
 
ANDY GARCIA AS MARIO












For the author team & readers of
The San Francisco Wedding Planner:
Who would you cast?
 




Friday, February 6, 2015

Gridiron Granny wins The Sisterhood of the World Blogger Award!


 
 

I am happy to announce that my blog has won the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. I want to thank fellow author, Mary Ann Diorio for nominating my blog.  Herself a winner of the award, Mary Ann’s blog, http://maryanndiorio.com/ is well worth your following it.
 

To qualify for the award, I was asked to do four things:
 

1) Thank the person who nominated me. Thank you, Mary Ann!

2) Answer the 10 questions Mary Ann sent me (See below).

3) Nominate 10 other bloggers (See my list below).

4) Create 10 questions to ask my nominees (See below).
 
As part of the judging, I was required to answer the following questions:
 
1)     Why do you writeWriting for me is therapy.  I not only find it easier to express myself through the written word and it’s safer.  If I’m angry, I can spill it all out on my laptop then hit the “delete” button or channel it into a fictional character.  If I spill it verbally, it can’t be deleted.  I also write to inspire others to reach out to our loving and merciful God through prayer, meditation and personalized scripture. 
 
2)     What single most important thing do you hope your readers will take away from your writingRegardless what challenges you face, trust and faith in God will see you through.
 
3)     What is the first adjective that comes to your mind to describe your writing? Diverse

4)     What, in your opinion, is our culture's most urgent need? Our culture's moral compass is off-kilter.  God's word is being ignored and sinful acts are now considered socially acceptable, and in some cases, legal. Our culture needs leaders who refuse to be intimidated or influenced by a misguided minority that focuses on earthly treasures instead of God's.

5)     If you could start over again as a writer, what would you do differently? What would you do the same? If I could start over again I would summon up the courage to pursue being published earlier than the age of 60.  I would also immediately follow the advice of my friend and fellow author, Susan J. Reinhardt:  Have others read and critique your work before submitting.  As far as what I would do the same?  Well, I think the best thing I ever did was venture into a variety of genres.

6)     What is your greatest accomplishment as a writer? My greatest accomplishment is providing encouragement through my devotionals on forgiveness, caregiving, and healing spiritually from abortion, depression and addiction.

7)     Who has most influenced your writing? God is my biggest influence but at the earthly level, I would say Father Donald Calloway, MIC and James Patterson.

8)     Where do you see the publishing industry headed in the next five years? I see smaller and indie publishers making great strides in competing with established publishing houses. 

9)     What is the role of the writer who follows Christ? To use the God-given talents to enlighten, inspire, instruct and entertain and stay true to his/her faith in the process.

10)  What do you love most about the writing life? The support and encouragement received not only from my publisher, but fellow writers.  It’s a competitive world, which makes having so many talented and experienced writers offering guidance a great blessing!

Now, here are my nominees followed by my questions for them:


2) Raven Price, http://ravenhprice.com/
3) Anne Baxter Campbell, http://pewperspective.blogspot.com/
4) Joy Ross Davis, http://joyrossdavis.com/
5) Ruth L. Snyder, https://ruthlsnyder.wordpress.com/
6) Tracy Krauss, http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com/
7) Sheila Lagrand, http://sheilalagrand.com
8) Kathi Macias,  http://kathimacias.com/category/easy-writer/
9) Amber Schamel, http://amberschamel.blogspot.com/
10) Jen Cudmore, http://www.jencudmore.com/


 MY QUESTIONS FOR NOMINEES

1.  How old were you when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
2.  What was the very first story you wrote and what was it about?
3.  Who has provided you the most encouragement in your writing career?
4.  Many readers avoid reading works from unfamiliar or indie publishers, as well as self-   published authors.  What can we do to pull them into that undiscovered treasure?
5.  What do you think are the drawbacks of electronic readers?
6.  Which author has inspired you the most?
7.  What is the one thing you would stress when speaking to a group of young, up and coming writers?
8.   Do you think Christian fiction is becoming more mainstream?
9.  What can we, as Christian writers, do to increase readership in Christian fiction, especially for young adults?
10. What do you love most about writing?