Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Friend of God


First I want to apologize to all of my wonderful contributors. I asked all of you to get your content to me by October 1st, which you so graciously did. My intentions were to actually get The Bookshelf posted as soon thereafter as possible, but I got waylaid by an emergency surgery. Had to have my appendix out and, of course, since I am who I am … they found diverticulitis and gallstones, as well. Came home to the unwelcome realization that I had no internet connection, and that little kink in the works has only been fixed today. Anyway, it’s been a crazy start to the month, and it’s taken me awhile to actually feel like putting this all together. I am so appreciate all of my author “friends” who contribute such great content. This month in particular, I absolutely could not have done it without your help!


Being in a hospital approximately forty miles from home kind of limits the number of visitors you get. Which means I had plenty of time to just think and talk to God. He and I had lots of together time, and I came out feeling I knew Him a little better than I did when I went in. Which is wonderful, but it also made me remember something important that we humans so easily forget: Knowing God better is something we can do every day of our lives—not just in times of trouble and stress.

How? Well, the same way you get to know anyone better! Spend time with Him. Talk to Him. Tell Him what’s in your heart. Let Him know how wonderful you think He is, and how much you enjoy His company. You can tell your heavenly Father anything…about everything. And when you’ve done that, pause awhile and listen for His voice, as well. Good conversations are not one-sided, are they? If we don’t give God His chance to have some input, then we’ve spoken to Him—not with Him. Speaking to God might make us feel better, but so might unloading on a disinterested psychiatrist! Speaking with God develops and builds a relationship.


It makes Him a friend.


What a concept...to be God’s friend! We can, you know. He was a friend of Moses—and proudly said so. Exodus 33:17 – You have found favor with me, and you are my friend. In case you don’t remember what prompted that powerful statement from the lips of the Almighty, let me remind you. Moses asked to know Him. He wanted to converse with his Maker face to face, friend to friend. And guess what? The request thrilled the Creator of the Universe right down to his oh-so-holy toenails!


My challenge to each of you this month is to consciously face the knowledge that you can be a friend of God. He loves spending time with you, and even though He already knows your heart, it makes Him happy when you tell Him what’s in it—and listen while He shares His heart with you.


I hope you enjoy this month’s Bookshelf. Several wonderful authors contributed to its content, and you’re bound to find something to enjoy.


If you do, please…leave a comment and let us know. Then share the link to The Bookshelf with one of your friends.


Until December…


Notes of Devotion

Amber Stockton

Release to Increase


"Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." 2 Corinthians 9:10-11


Too often, we get discouraged at the lack of interest in our writing—especially when stepping into uncharted territory. However, that disappointment or discouragement also faces experienced authors as well. Not a single one of us is outside the realm of rejection or returned manuscripts/proposals/queries with a "no thanks" attached to it.


God's kingdom is not one that is built upon lack of growth or results. His kingdom is one of increase. If you want to see results, you have to plant the seeds. This not only applies to sticking to your guns and writing, but also to submitting. The more places you submit, the harder you seek out someone who might be interested in your work, the better your chances are that you'll find the open door you've been wanting.


We all have been given a special gift—the gift of words. As writers, we each have a certain measure of that gift, and God expects us to increase in both our skill and our product. He doesn't micromanage us; rather, He steps back and allows us room to grow, giving us every opportunity if we're paying close enough attention to see them.


Your crop will be a direct result of what you've planted. If you're stingy and only target one publisher, you might yield a very small crop or none at all. If you do your research and send out to every publisher or magazine or resource or web site that might accept what you write, your crop could be larger than you ever imagined. Even if it's articles or short stories or contributions to start. Eventually, the growth will expand. From a small seed always comes a result that's bigger than what it was at the beginning. But the seed has to grow and take root. To those whom God has given riches or success or even the promise of success, He has also given ability to rejoice in your labor. You work hard because He gave you the ability to do it; not of your own merit.


God's covenant is to bless you and make you a great writer. When you're blessed, you bless others, either through your work or through sowing into another writer's life. But first, you have to get over your "poverty" mentality in regard to your writing. Release the talent and passion from within and go for that dream. If God can supply the ability, He can also give you what you need in order to increase. The spirit of poverty paralyzes you in fear of losing what you have. You sit back and hesitate before submitting your work to a place you might not have considered for fear of rejection, but God can't use you if you're not working. Don't allow yourself to slip into the pitfall of believing your career will provide you "barely enough." God is a God of abundance. If you sow in faith, you'll reap a great harvest.


Take it to heart and plant those seeds!


Amber Stockton is an author and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author and their baby daughter in beautiful Colorado Springs. They also have a vivacious Border Collie mix named Roxie. Amber has sold eight books to Barbour Publishing with more on the horizon. Other writing credits include writing articles for various publications, five short stories for Romancing the Christian Heart, and contributions to Grit for the Oyster and 101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage. A born-again Christian since the age of seven, her faith in Christ has often sustained her through difficult experiences. She seeks to share that with others through her writing. Read more about her at her web site: www.amberstockton.com.


About Amber's September release, Hearts and Harvest:


William's is a true riches to rags story...

Once members of Detroit's elite society, the Berringer family lost everything they had in the financial crash of 1893. From a life of influence and privilege, they now find themselves working a potato patch alongside immigrants and other destitute folk on borrowed land. William's resentment toward his current situation—and mostly toward God for allowing it—simmers barely beneath the surface. All it takes is one charitable visit to the fields from a lovely society darling to burst his façade of acceptance. Annabelle Lawson, convicted by her pastor's admonishing words, begins delivering food and water to the workers on her father's donated land. But as she learns the stories of the people who work there, she becomes increasingly drawn to their plight. Especially that of the inscrutable William Berringer. Can Annabelle and William overcome the stigma placed upon his family by a society that once embraced them? Will her parents remember their own meeting or forbid this budding romance altogether?


Author of Note - Michelle Sutton


I’m delighted to welcome Michelle Sutton to The Bookshelf. Michelle, before we talk about your books, we want to find out who you are. We’ll also have some fun with a few questions, but first … tell us about yourself. Who is Michelle Sutton, the gal next door?

Well, for one thing the next-door neighbor is a good distance from me since all the homeowners around where I live are on 4+ acre lots. Most have horses, too, but we don't have them because they are so expensive to maintain. So now that we have established that I live in the country, I'll tell you I actually grew up in the city in Central New York. Then I moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1991 and that city is huge. In 2001 our family moved to the country where I currently reside. I've lived with my husband and kids in Arizona for eighteen years now. My two sons are nearly out of high school. Life is good right now. We have a great church and wonderful friends. I couldn't ask for more. For work, I'm employed by the government and I write fiction on the side, among other things. I'm pretty busy most of the time.

Tell us a little about your publishing journey. I understand Danger at the Door is your latest release. Care to share a bit about that one?

Actually Danger at the Door released August 1st and It's Not About Him released September 1st so that is my latest release. But Danger at the Door is my first e-book released. I'm pretty excited about Danger at the Door. It was the best-seller for August (of all of the titles listed on the Desert Breeze site) when it was released that month.

Well, now that I have my facts straight… :D You should be excited! How long have you been writing? Was there an “aha” moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

I started in August of 2003. I just sat down and started writing. I couldn't stop.

Wow. I think that’s the first time I’ve heard a writer with such a clear-cut start time. Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

From real life, of course. Not necessarily my life, but people and situations that I am familiar enough with to write about.

How much time do you spend writing?

I write when I get the muse. I'd say on average maybe 10-20 hours per month right now. It depends on what I have due. I write fast.

What’s your best piece of advice for new and aspiring writers?

Keep writing until something sells.


Give us
one writing tip that you personally find invaluable.

Make sure you have an internet presence and a "following" before you sell your first book or you won't have anyone out there to buy it.

Now for that off-the-cuff stuff I mentioned. If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question—what would you ask of whom?

I would ask my mom how big her house is in heaven. Just kidding. I don't know how to answer this. I just want all of my loved ones to be with Jesus after they leave this world.

What books are on your bedside table right now?

Dawn's Prelude by Tracie Peterson and The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

What word annoys you more than any other?

Preachy

Ha! Good one. What “super power” would you like to borrow for awhile?

The ability to eat whatever I want and not gain any weight.

We’d all like to borrow that one, I’m sure. Share a grammatical pet peeve…go ahead, sound off.

When people use “myriad” wrong and in just about every novel.

What color crayon best describes you on a good day? Bad day?

Good day would be green and bad day would be gray.

Thank you for hanging out at The Bookshelf for awhile, Michelle! Where can we find your books?

You can find most of them on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and CBD. Danger is on Amazon and on the Desert Breeze site and other places that sell ebooks.

Thanks again, and we hope you sell a million!

That would be nice. :)

Michelle Sutton is Editor-in-chief for Christian Fiction Online Magazine, a member of ACFW, and edgy fiction writer, a book reviewer, avid blogger, mother of two teens, wife, pet owner, government employee, and follower of Jesus Christ. She currently has three out of eleven of her novels in print. The rest of her books will be releasing through 2012.

Notes on Writing (Writing Tips)


Some Thoughts On Rejection


A few weeks ago I dropped my new cell phone into the toilet I was cleaning. Yes, I am a klutz. But some of you out there have done it, too. If not, I’m sure you can imagine that feeling. It’s kind of how you feel when you get a rejection letter. So, yeah, not so fun. Anyone who’s writing for publication knows what it’s like to be rejected or receive not-so-great contest scores. It’s part of the process. So if you’re a new writer, I’m going to use the analogy to help you know what to expect, and what you need to do about it.


1. Down the phone goes with a splash, breaking apart and settling in the bottom of the bowl. What a horrible, sinking feeling! That rejection letter can have the same result—the bad feeling in your stomach telling you that you messed up.


2. You’re tempted to just flush it. It’s ruined. No good. A complete waste. Don’t do it! You’ll regret it later.


3. You decide to save it—heroically plunging your hand into the water and coming up with the broken pieces. After hunting down a fan, you strategically place the pieces in front of it. You can save this thing. It’s your baby. It’s brave and beautiful and underappreciated. You might rage a little at the toilet who took it away from you. The editor who didn’t see the brilliance. The agent who wouldn’t know a good story if it bit them.


4. Then you realize that was a cliché, and so the real culprit must be you. You’re a loser. All that money was wasted. Your phone will never come back to life, and you’re not due an upgrade for a couple years. The conference you just went to didn’t bring you a contract. Instead, it showed you all the things you’re doing wrong. You’ll never make it. Your writing is as worthless as the waterlogged phone.


5. You can’t talk to anyone for a while. The phone is out of order. It’s kind of depressing. You dread telling your husband because you just know he’s going to say, “I knew something like this would happen. It’s not worth the investment.”


6. But he doesn’t. Instead, he offers a hug. Maybe even some chocolate. And you realize that life as you know it isn’t necessarily over. You have options.


7. He tells you to put the battery in a bag of rice. Set it aside for a few days. Maybe you need to step back from your manuscript. Give it some breathing room. Allow yourself to process any comments that were given. Maybe they’re not totally off the wall. Maybe they are. Wait, then look it over with fresh eyes and see.


8. Maybe it just needs some time, some tweaks, and then it’s ready to go again. Maybe it needs a lot more than that. It might take some money to fix—a professional critique. More writing books or classes.


9. Maybe it truly does need scrapped. That’s okay. It happens to almost everyone, but it’s not wasted time. (Okay, so my illustration is starting to not quite fit here, but work with me, people.) You can learn from your mistakes. In fact, you probably learn better that way. If the old phone is truly dead, go out and buy a new one. Start a new story, applying the lessons you’ve learned. You’ll end up with a better product in the end.


So when the rejection letters come in, don’t worry. Yeah, you’re allowed to quietly rage for a few moments. But then get back in the game. Put your phone back together or buy a new one—after all, you’ll need it when you get The Call.


Jenness Walker has always loved a good story. Today she doesn’t feel complete if there’s not a book nearby. Jenness has a B.A in education and a minor in creative writing. Her debut novel, Double Take, releases from Steeple Hill in October. When she’s not reading or writing, she enjoys hanging out with her website-designer husband, playing with her part-time dog, and planning trips to explore small-town America. Check out her website at www.jennesswalker.com.

Notes in Review

Love's Rescue

by Tammy Barley


Sierra Chronicles, # 6


It’s 1863. To escape the ravages of war, Jessica Hale’s family leaves their beloved home in Kentucky for a new life in the Nevada Territory.


Jessica’s brother, Ambrose, is determined to help defend their southern homestead. Against his father’s wishes, the young man joins ranks with the Kentucky militia and returns to the south. When Ambrose goes missing in the midst of the War Between the States, Jessica’s attempts to find him set off a chain of events that will change her life forever.


In the wake of a close encounter with political fanatics, Jessica loses everything that matters and then finds herself spirited away to a remote ranch in the Sierra Nevada wilderness. There, Jessica’s every effort to escape is thwarted by handsome rancher Jake Bennett and his loyal cattlemen.


Jake knows what it’s like to lose everything. He’s determined to protect Jessica through her time of loss. There are those who would harm the young woman for nothing more than being a Southerner, and Jake and his men have no intention of allowing that to happen. Still, how can he help Jessica’s wounded heart to heal when she so deeply resents him for what she perceives as his failure to save her family? He can’t make her see the truth, but he can protect her, and he can pray while her eyes are opened and her broken heart mends.


Tammy Barley’s action-packed debut novel is wonderfully rich in historical detail. It’s a tightly woven, riveting tale of love and loss, faith under fire, and wild hearts on the run. As the author unfolds this spellbinding story, a vivid picture of life in the Old West is revealed with stunning clarity and depth. Love’s Rescue provides everything a reader expects from this era: cowboys and Indians, damsels in distress, good guys and bad hombres, gunfights and moonlit nights. The last page leaves the reader longing for more of Jess and Jake. It’s an absolute must-read for the lover of historical romance.


A masterpiece of storytelling intricately woven with spiritual wisdom and insight, and threaded throughout with the good, the bad, and the ugly of love, life, and humanity.


Bravo, Ms. Barley!


Reviewed by Delia Latham

Contest Notes

The drawing for this edition of the Bookshelf will be held on the last day of November. Winner will be announced in the December edition.

The drawing will be for two books: Sisters, Ink and Coming Unglued, both by Rebeca Seitz.



The previous winner of Ruby’s Slippers by LeAnna Ellis and Courting Emma by Sharlene MacLaren is:


KRISTINE PEACOCK


Congratulations, Kristine!


You don’t need to “do” anything to enter the newsletter drawing each month. If you are subscribed to The Bookshelf, you will be automatically entered.

Here’s how to subscribe: Use the icon on my website’s Home page, or the link in the Navbar (top of page) on that site, which will put you on my e-mailing list. You will then receive an e-mail link every other month when the newsletter posts, as well as occasional updates or announcements between posts. If you want Bookshelf articles to come right to your inbox each month instead of receiving a link to this web page, use the FeedBlitz link in the top left corner of this page in addition to the manual icon on my website.

Note: The books given away in these drawings are in excellent condition, but some of them have been read once for review purposes. They are handled carefully and you will receive them in great condition.