Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Being Who We Really Are

Photo Courtesy

I caught a portion of the 2015 Grammys this year and was intrigued with one of the comments made by a winner. 

He said something like, "I tried everything to get my music noticed. I tried to lose weight..." then he listed a few other things he'd tried that I didn't get written down before I forgot them. But each item was a worthy pursuit to get his music noticed by the audience...sort of. 

The conclusion of his comment was, "It wasn't until I stopped all those things and started being who I really am that I finally succeeded."

Everyone likes to be noticed. It gives us a sense of worth. Worth fulfills a purpose to life.

There are time, I must admit, when I don't feel any worth. Does anyone care that I did this or that? When these feelings hit, we aren't looking for a grandiose party recognizing our efforts, we want 

someone to say something to us. 
someone to take the time to call
a child to draw a picture

So many simple things feed our need to have a worth. Yet somedays no one seems to notice.

We could cry
Get grumpy
Take a Calgon Moment and get far away from the world

or we could search our hearts for someone who needs us to 

say something nice to
take the time to call
send an unexpected small gift

It truly is amazing how much giving the very thing we want can sooth our own needs. When the recipient responds with a smile, or a perky voice or a thank you...ii's like receiving a bouquet of your favorite flowers, fireworks lighting the night sky, balloon floating.

God's Word says Adam should not be alone so He created Eve. God's Word says in the New Testament that we should meet with others, don't be alone.

When your lack of worth meter hits a ten, go, do not delay, find someone who needs the attention you hunger for and give it to them. You'll find you receive back more than what you every hoped.

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: Worth

What do you crave when your lack of worth meter is too high?

Friday, February 20, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature -Robin Johns Grant

Today we welcome author: 
Robin Johns Grant

To win a copy
of Robin's new release:
Jordan's Shadow

Scroll to the end of the post 
to see how to get your copy.

Mary Vee here. I love meeting new friends through the organizations I belong to. Have you ever gone to someplace new, maybe kinda sat in the back watching everyone chat, then find yourself mysteriously joining in the conversation? Yeah. That is my norm. One of the recent groups I joined was the ACFW Speculative Group. There are a lot of fun people there who create creatures and invent new things...but don't we all love to watch Superman, Spiderman, Iron Man, the Avengers, etc? This is the group of people who think of these fabulous ideas.

Robin recently mentioned her new release in our group. I asked her to join us and share how God has led her on her writing journey to help you see writers of fantasy and science fiction can have great benefits in Christian Fiction. Here is what she said:

The Long and Winding Writing Road

When Mary Vee graciously agreed to help me celebrate the launch of my new book, Jordan’s Shadow, by hosting me on her blog, she suggested I talk about how God has led me on my writing journey.

It’s sort of interesting how all of us writers seem to talk about our “journeys,” even though—let’s be honest here—when we start out planning to be an author, do we really expect it to be a journey? That word seems to suggest something long, maybe more than a little tiring and frustrating.

I decided I wanted to be a writer when I was a child. Being a published and successful author was my guiding ambition through the years, and by the time I was 18, I had my first book-length manuscript (co-authored with my cousin) ready to send off to a publisher.  

When I slapped those pages into an envelope and hauled them down to the post office (see, I told you it was a long time ago), did I realize I was starting a long, LONG journey? That would be a resounding no.

I’ll confess it. Here’s what I expected. That lucky random editor I selected to receive our literary gem would immediately open it, start reading, and know right away he or she simply had to purchase this manuscript. I was absolutely astounded when our literary baby was rejected…in a form letter…a whole year later! The nerve!

So began my journey—and yes, it most certainly has been a journey. I would call my pursuit of becoming a real live author “The Long and Winding Road.” I never stopped writing. There were the years I continued to stuff envelopes and send off proposals to random publishing companies. Years of improving my writing, going to conferences, and learning to pitch my stories to editors and agents face to face. Wandering from genre to genre, trying to find a good fit.

Finally, I drifted away from traditional publishing altogether and struck out on my own as an indie author. Only to find that, guess what, there’s no quick and easy success there, either. If anything, indie publishing has started me on another long road. With indie publishing, all the jobs from writing to formatting and design and marketing are squarely on your shoulders, so there’s another batch of skills to learn.

A wise person pointed out to me the Bible verse, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” I had always pictured my writing career as a bright sunny day, smooth sailing and clear all the way to the horizon. Instead, according to this verse, God’s guidance can be more like a flashlight in the dark, showing us the next step to take but not a whole lot more.

He has most definitely always shown me the next step. One of my favorite examples? The only time I really considered quitting writing was when I was trying to sell in the secular market. I had a bad experience at a secular writers’ conference and decided that’s it, I quit.

But while driving home, it was as if a little voice was nudging me, saying, “What about the Christian market? At least maybe those folks would be nicer.” I stopped at a Christian bookstore to check out the Christian fiction and wrote down the name “Terri Blackstock” as someone whose writing impressed me.

A couple of weeks later, out of the blue, my husband said, “Have you ever heard of Terri Blackstock?” It turned out a friend of his family knew her and had mentioned me, and she was willing to look at my writing. Which led to my signing with my first agent. One more step. A moment of refreshment by the roadside.

I will confess that  I often still long for some development—like the Terri Blackstock thing—to mean I’ve come to the  end of the hard stuff, the trudging one step at a time without ever feeling I’ve “made it.” But God has given me enough of those Terri Blackstock moments to show me that I’m on track, and that’s how things are supposed to be.

As much as I hate to admit it, maybe my learning to trust him even when the path is dark, to praise and love him even when I’m not getting the fame and fortune I long for, is far more important than my personal success.


Robin Johns Grant published her first novel, Summer’s Winter, in 2014, and her second suspense novel, Jordan’s Shadow, has just been released. Summer's Winter won a bronze medal in the Romance - Suspense category of the International Readers' Favorite Book Awards, and Robin was named 2014 Author of the Year by the Georgia Association of College Stores.
Family and friends are happy that Robin’s imagination is finally paying off. She’s always had way too much of it. She started making up stories before she could write them down (dictating them to her mother) and always had her head in the clouds. She was obsessed with books and movies like Harry Potter and Star Wars and did a lot of crazy fan stuff, which helped her dream up Jeanine and Jamie’s story for Summer's Winter. 

As a Christian, Robin can’t help but explore spirituality in her writing, but wants to do so in a way that reflects the awe and wonder of God and eternity.

With a degree in English, several non-fulfilling jobs under her belt, and a mid-life crisis coming on, Robin returned to school and earned a master's degree in library and information science. She now has her best day job ever as a college librarian, which keeps her young by allowing her to hang out with students.

With her wonderful husband Dave and formerly feral felines Mini Pearl and Luna, Robin lives in Georgia.  She is also surprised to find herself part owner of a pit bull named Pete, who showed up as a starving stray puppy at her mother's house.

Contact Robin through

She loves to hear from her readers.


Click here to see or
buy Summer's Winter
Summer's Winter
At age ten, preacher's daughter Jeanine fell in love with young movie star Jamie Newkirk and the character he played--Danny Summer. Jeanine believed God Himself promised Jamie would be part of her life--that he would rescue her from boring rural Georgia. But eleven years later, she's graduating college and about to settle into the dreary nine-to-five life with no word from Jamie or God.

And then Jamie bursts into her life in an amazing way. There are plans to resurrect the Summer series of books and movies, and Jeanine is right in the middle of it all. Jamie seems to be falling for her, just as she'd dreamed. And yet... 
She never expected all the dark undercurrents. Jamie is hiding out in Georgia following the suspicious death of his former girlfriend. And isn't it odd that he found his mother dead of a supposed suicide in that same house two years before, and that both women had the same strangely-shaped burn on their bodies? Who knew there would be so many sinister characters involved in Jamie's life, and in the Summer series? 

Jamie is obviously hiding things--about his family, about the deaths of his mother and girlfriend. The media and the public have declared him guilty. Jeanine longs to prove his innocence. Unless she can, Jamie's dark secrets may shatter her dreams, her faith--and her life.
Click here to see or
 buy Jordan's Shadow
Jordan's Shadow
In 1984, seventeen-year-old Rose and her fiancĂ© discover an injured girl with no memory. The girl, Jordan, is in Rose's life for a brief time but leaves her world shattered. 

Years later, Rose Crosby's fifteen-year-old daughter Ginny can't understand why her relationship with her mother has fallen apart. Ginny could swear that Rose is terrified of her lately. 

Then one awful day, Ginny overhears Rose confessing that she truly is terrified of Ginny--because to her, every day Ginny grows more and more like Jordan, the girl who's been dead many years. In fact, she swears that somehow, Ginny is turning into Jordan. 

Is Rose's past, forcing her to confront what happened on that horrible day in 1984 when Jordan was killed? 

As a new girl in a small town, Ginny doesn't have much of a support system. Her old girlfriends from Atlanta have drifted away, and the only friends she's made are, oddly enough, guys. Alec Matthews is gorgeous, but is he really interested in Ginny's well-being? And then there's Max Ferguson, the recently-born-again science nerd. He's definitely on Ginny's side, but is he a little too strange?

Strengthened by a deepening relationship with one of these two, Ginny undertakes a mind-bending journey of discovery--discovery about faith, eternity, and love beyond the boundaries of space and time. She will put to rest a mystery that has haunted her family for two generations--if she can survive.

To enter the contest for a copy of 
Robin's  new release: 
"Jordan's Shadow"
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this blog, 
OR sign up to receive posts by email
if you aren't already.

US only

The winner will be announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Robin, for Joining us This Weekend!

We love chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, hey, or ...

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Importance of a Great Review-How Was Your Valentines Day?

Recently, I've read comments from authors regarding book reviews. 

Apparently, the more book reviews there are for a book, the greater publicity it gets from Amazon, Google, Goodreads, etc. 

I haven't received a book contract, but some day I hope to. That is the day I'll understand the great importance to this concern.

For now, I'm going to look at the topic from a slightly different point of view, make that two different point of views and discuss how this concern can be relevant to us today.

1st. How was your Valentines? Did you get something special? Did you give something special. Did you spend time with someone special?

Somehow I think that if the answer to any of the above was yes, you would have found a way to express your gratitude, maybe by saying thank you, giving a hug or a kiss. Even after the gift was received these three days later, you remember the wonderful feeling you had when receiving the token and want to share your news with others.

Yeah, me too. We can't help it. The token made us feel special and we want to give back in some way.

When you share with me your sweet news, I share with you my sweet news. We get new ideas from each other and create super ideas for next year.

This is what happens with the reviews for authors. I take the time to write a review about a book I've read. You see it. Read it. And say, I think I'd like to read this book. You and I reach people the author may not even know. The more books the author sells, the more books they'll be asked to write--the more you and I will have to read.

Which brings me to:

2nd.  The best ever book written is the Bible. God, as you know, is the author. The purpose of the Bible is to use it as a tool to get to know God better. He wrote about every aspect we need AND included examples! He used poetry, narrative, parables, dialogue, included what is to happen in the future. WOW! Nothing can compare.

Like Valentines, reading God's Word can draw many responses from us. We learn about the perfect love story, a God who cares so deeply for his creation He is willing to give the greatest gift so we can live with Him.

When we allow God to love us, we are compelled to share what He has done for us, His selfless gift of love. 

Reading the Bible helps us to understand this love.

God wants us to share what we've learned in His word. It's a form of review. We tell others what we've read and this in turn compels those we've told to pick up a copy and read.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Jill Eileen Smith.How a Bible Study Led to A Writing Career

Today we welcome author: 
Jill Eileen Smith

To win a copy
of Jill's new release:
The Crimson Cord

Scroll to the end of the post 
to see how to get your copy.

Mary Vee here. I'm always amazed how God brings me in contact with someone who is a neighbor in some way or another. I read Jill's bio and realized I had grown up in her neck of the woods. Hah! Isn't that amazing!  Jill also has the same love for digging into the lives of Bible people. I completely understand the drive to want to get to know these real people who lived real lives and experienced many of the same things I have. I can't wait to read one of her books.  

I asked her to join us and share how God has led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said:

How A Bible Study Led to a Writing Career

I guess you could say that my writing journey began when a Bible study I was co-teaching came to an end. My girlfriend and I were co-teaching a women’s Bible study on the life of King David, and when that study was over, I wasn't ready--I wanted to know more. I wanted to read a novel on his life.

I looked high and low for such a novel, but I could not find one that satisfied my desire. So I began to write the book I wanted to read. That beginning led to twenty years of writing at least eight novels in various genres before I understood the craft well enough to interest a publisher. But that seed of an idea about King David became the Wives of King David series in 2009 and beyond, published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Since that series sold to RevelI I have continued to write for that company. They purchased the Wives of the Patriarchs series, the Daughters of the Promised Land series, and the Loves of King Solomon e-book to paperback series. 

There came a point in my writing journey, however, where I almost quit trying. Breaking into publishing was too hard, and I was not sure whether I had heard God's direction correctly. When something takes so long, when prayers go unanswered year after year, doubt surfaces. And "hope deferred makes the heart sick." I had grown weary and heartsick of trying so hard for so long to no avail.

So I journal prayed one more time then let it go. But a few months later, the urge to pray came again, stronger than before - specifically for the Wives of King David series. I prayed and imagined and prayed a little more. Then set it aside once again. 

Long story short, within a few months I had an offer from Revell for the series. Quite by accident, a month or two after the contract was signed, I found that journal prayer I'd prayed in heartsick desperation when I was so ready to quit. God had answered. I had not misunderstood his leading.

The journey is far from over. But God has shown me that He is in it. He cares about the things that trouble me. He hears my heart cries. And if He can be trusted with the beginning of this journey, then He can be trusted with what remains.


Jill Eileen Smith is the author of The Crimson Cord, Rahab’s Story, #1 Daughters of the Promised Land series, The Desert Princess, #1 e-book short Loves of King Solomon series, the Wives of the Patriarchs series, and bestselling author of the Wives of King David series. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read stories that take her away, ride her bike to the park, snag date nights with her hubby, eat at healthy restaurants (when she doesn’t feel like cooking), or play with her lovable, “helpful” cat Tiger. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Contact Jill through: 

She loves to hear from her readers.


Wife to a gambler who took one too many risks, Rahab finds herself sold as a slave to cover her husband’s debt. Forced into prostitution by Dabir, counselor to the Syrian king, Rahab despairs of ever regaining her freedom and her self-respect. But when Israelite spies enter Jericho and come to lodge at her house, Rahab sees a glimmer of hope and the opportunity of a lifetime.
In one risky moment, she takes a leap of faith, puts her trust in a God she does not know, and vows to protect the spies from the authorities. When the armies of Israel arrive weeks later, Rahab hopes they will keep their promise, but she has no idea what kind of challenges await her outside Jericho’s walls–or if she will ever know the meaning of love

Other books by Jill Eileen Smith

To enter the contest for a copy of 
Jill's  new release: 
"The Crimson Cord"
leave a comment (and email address)
AND become a follower of this blog, 
OR sign up to receive posts by email
if you aren't already.

US only

The winner will be announced on my facebook page.

Thank you, Jill, for Joining us This Weekend!

We love chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, hey, or ...

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I Saw From A Newbie's Point of View

Photo Courtesy
I went to a new-to-me class this week. 

Throughout our lives we have those first time moments. First time at a restaurant, a Bible study, a retreat, a vacation spot, a house, etc. 

I walked in the building where the new-to-me class would be held, unsure of where I needed to go, and followed the trail of lights. Halfway down the hall I heard the voices of others who'd arrived earlier. I followed the sound and was wonderfully greeted.

The spacious room seemed inviting for everyone who wanted to come.

The instructor set her things down and walked over to me. She gave me the instructions and connected me with one of the gals. Joining felt easy. I laughed at the friendly jokes, participating as seemed appropriate for a newbie.

The class then came together for a group activity. Fun music played in the background. Friends chattered. We all worked hard.

Thirty minutes later we repeated the first activity which was done at an individual pace. One lady walked with me. She asked a few questions, the usual ones we ask to get to know each other. I told her the wonderful things I'd seen in the organization. Her smile drooped and she became rather grumpy.

Everything I pointed out as something good, she countered with a reason why their organization did not do it well. When we finished this independent activity she seemed to stay away from me. 

I felt sorry for her. 

Every organization has faults. The only perfect place is heaven. Between now and when we go to heave we'll see problems, grumpy people, faults, mistakes, etc. in the groups we participate. 

So today's focus will be for us to remember. Remember the good of the organizations we belong to. 

Is there a grumpy pants at church that bothers you? Remember when you first met him or her and the times you thought he/she was funny, important, classy, friendly, etc?

Is there a change in the women's Bible study that bothers you? Remember when you first went and loved how the ladies clinged to the Word of God? Maybe they still are, just in a different way.

Is there a family member who has changed? Remember when they gave you that great Christmas present so many years ago? Maybe they are sick, or have some inner hurt.

Is there a restaurant that has a new pushy waitress? Remember that scrumptious meal you ate months ago? Perhaps a kind word to her might help her treat you kind.

Is there a vacation spot that has rebuilt or changed the design? The buildings aren't the same. The view is different. The choices you loved are gone. Remember how wonderful you once thought it was? Now as a renewed newbie you might rediscover some exciting aspects.

Let's take the challenge to remember how wonderful our special places and people are. How much they once meant to us and recommit to help them be the best they can be for others. Let's throw away our grumpy pants and flash those pearly whites.

This post has been brought to you by the one-word: Remember

Friday, February 6, 2015

Fabulous Friday Feature-Janice Boekhoff-What I Do With Fear-Is a Choice

Today we welcome author: 
Janice Boekhoff

I remember Janice so vividly from the conference. She had a bubbly enthusiasm for her geology topic. This gal is a brainiac and an absolute delight to talk to. Her smile bursts during the conversation. How did a geology aficionado become a Christian Fiction writer? She digs into her topic, explores what is hidden, and exposes the mystery. 

I asked her to join us and share how God has led her on her writing journey. Here is what she said:

What I Do With Fear-Is a Choice
Writing Through the Fear

No one would ever tell you to write out of a place of fear (except maybe Stephen King), but for much of my life I wrote, or rather didn’t write, because of fear.

As a kid growing up in the Midwest, I had tons of dreams for the future: archaeologist, veterinarian, actress, even the first woman president (hey, I still have time on that one). But buried deep in the hidden part of my heart was a longing I was too scared to voice.

I wanted to be a writer.

I didn’t talk about it because somehow I knew I wouldn’t be any good at it. It’s true, I had words flowing through my head, but those words said I couldn’t possibly succeed at the one thing I wanted to do.

In high school, I completed a short story for a creative writing class. I agonized over turning it in. Would the teacher hate it? Of course, she would. But what if she didn’t? What if she said it was the greatest thing she’d ever read?

The teacher gave me a B, I think, without any comments. She didn’t say anything negative, but she didn’t say anything positive. My fragile ego took that as rejection.

Back then, I didn’t know God, so I didn’t know that He often gives us desires to use the gifts that He’s given us. For a long time, I didn’t write at all. When I did, it felt like something I did solely because I wanted to. Kind of like singing. I love to sing, but there’s a valid reason nobody is asking me to join the church choir.

It took me almost thirty years to admit that my writing is a gift from God.

So, my writing journey has been a story of fear.

Fear of failure
Fear of rejection
Fear of messing up my calling

In college, I turned to science, which I still love, because the fear of rejection is minimized. There are few gray areas and no artistic opinions. Data doesn’t care if you express its nuances well.

One of the amazing formations, called a hogback,
that I saw during my field camp in Wyoming.
After getting my geology degree, I went to work as a Research Geologist. I loved my job, but I felt like I had left an entire side of my brain on autopilot. Although I still longed to express myself creatively, I didn’t have what writer’s call, a voice. I didn’t know what to say about the world that hadn’t already been said.

When I became a Christian, God gave me a voice. I saw the world through different eyes and I had stuff to say about it. But the new voice that came out on the page didn’t silence the other voice in my head, the one that kept screaming I was a terrible writer. I would fail.

Along the way, God gave me little moments to reassure me that I was on the right path. A friend called to say she read the first draft of my novel and loved it. Someone at church told me a devotion I wrote touched her heart. My critique partner convinced me my words were and are a ministry. God even used a contest to keep me going. I was a finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest in 2013 and a semi-finalist in 2014. I have fiercely clung to these scattered moments of encouragement.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that what I do with the fear is a choice. I can let it paralyze me or I can let it bring me closer to God.

I freak out—because an editor passes on my manuscript.
I turn to Him.

I freak out—because the author who said he would endorse my book never contacts me again.
I turn to Him.

I freak out—because it’s been five years since I’ve been trying to get published and that seems like forever.
I turn to Him.

Every day, I decide that in my journey fear does not get to win.

I never feel closer to God than when the words flow out of me like a heavenly downpour soaking the page. How could I give that up just to indulge in my fears?

I’m not published yet, but no matter what happens with that, I choose to rest in God’s perfect love—it really does cast out fear. And fear is the only thing that can keep us from fulfilling God’s call on our lives.

What are you afraid of? Perhaps God’s waiting for you to turn it over to Him.


My critique partner, Crystal Joy, has been
 an endless source of encouragement for me

Janice Boekhoff has a B. S. degree in Geology from the University of Northern Iowa. Her professional career as a Research Geologist included four years with the Iowa Geological Survey before she left her position to stay at home with her growing family. She writes Christian suspense novels from Bettendorf, Iowa, where she lives with her husband and three kids. Janice was a 2013 Finalist and a 2014 Semi-finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest. Her passions include peppermint mochas, the television show Castle, and reading science magazines to find out the latest creative word the scientists have made up.

Readers can visit Janice at anytime on 
her blog: Faith Field Science Blog
or Facebook: Janice Boekhoff Author

She looks forward to saying hello to you! 


Paleontology Professor Travis Perego has spent his whole life studying dinosaurs and his entire career teaching evolution. But when his sister’s death leads him to commit his life to God, his worldview is transformed. Now, he struggles with the conflict between evolutionary theory and the Bible. And if he doesn’t figure it out soon, the dean of the department will fire him.
When a graduate student tells him about a biology professor who is trying to prove evolution true, at first, Travis is curious. But he soon becomes desperate to know if the biologist succeeded. Could this man have found a way to retrace the path of evolution in bird DNA—in essence, reverse engineering a dinosaur?

Before Travis can find out, the professor disappears, along with a mysterious creature from his lab. Travis follows them into the jungles of Costa Rica, where he will risk everything to discover the truth.

Volcanologist Lenaia Talavera is called back to Mt. Rainier and the small town of Mayim to investigate problems with the monitoring equipment. She quickly discovers the equipment—an early warning system for rising magma—has been sabotaged. But who would want to risk an eruption?

Then, two women from the area disappear. Are the sabotage and the missing women related? When Lenaia’s ex-boyfriend is arrested for a similar act of sabotage, her search for the truth intensifies. He proclaims his innocence, but should she believe him? As she digs deeper, the evidence leads her up the mountain where she uncovers a sinister plan. Can she stop a killer before he buries her and the little town of Mayim in a cascade of evil?

Thank you, Janice, for Joining us This Weekend!

Since Janice is not yet published, let's send her a word of encouragement. Please take a moment to write her a comment. Thanks!

We love chatting with you and are looking forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, hey, or ...

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!